An Open Letter To Frank Page, Al Mohler, Danny Akin, Tom Ascol, Mark Dever, David Dockery and the Committee on Calvinism

On August 15, 2012, Baptist Press released an article that contained the following statement:

“Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee President Frank Page has announced the members of an advisory team who will help him craft a strategic plan to bring together various groups within the convention who hold different opinions on the issue of Calvinism.

The 16-member group will conduct its first meeting Aug. 29-30 in Nashville, Tenn.

“My goal is to develop a strategy whereby people of various theological persuasions can purposely work together in missions and evangelism,” Page told Baptist Press. The list was announced Tuesday (Aug. 15).”

A lot has been written on the state of Calvinism in the SBC. However, while there are many issues theologically with respect to Calvinism, the growing concern now rests not with the theology itself but with the growing infiltration of Calvinist believing individuals in the entities of the SBC. While the theological differences are still an issue, of major concern is now the theological persuasion of the entities because make no mistake about it, where the entities go, the convention will follow.

I believe this argument itself is proof that that the theological pulse of the entities is crucial to the future of the convention. When Dr. Mohler was made president of SBTS, everyone knew that he was a 5 point Calvinist. Dr. Mohler’s theological position was not a major point of concern at that time because the point of contention was theological and not positional and the convention could and still can deal with that. Things have, however, changed significantly in the past 10 years or so and all of this work that has taken place quietly behind the scenes to place key individuals in strategic places in the convention entities has been extremely successful. This transformation began in a couple of the seminaries, primarily and has been extended to NAMB, Lifeway and even to key convention committee appointees. State colleges and newspapers have followed follow this disturbing trend as well. Trustee appointments are being filled with individuals who have connections to and affinities with Dr. Mohler and his brand of theology. This I believe this is the real elephant in the room that no one has been willing to talk about, at least to this point.

Here is the real issue I believe must be addressed and resolved if there is to be any hope for any resolution to the cooperation issue that the SBC currently is facing. Dr. Mohler and others serve in very influential positions and are being paid by SBC entities. While it is accurate to say that they have done outstanding jobs in their respective positions of responsibility, they have also been busy working quietly to direct other areas of the SBC toward a reformed theological position that is decidedly different from their current positions. This has been done quietly and without any outside collaboration and without any word of warning on these individual’s part and this is in and of itself fundamentally wrong. These individuals cannot be allowed to continue this ploy if anyone expects the SBC to move forward in a cooperative manner. As people are made aware of this situation, it is my prayer that the people in the SBC will rise up and rectify this situation if the leadership of the convention is not willing to do so. Understand, the divisiveness is not in those who are now standing up to object to what has taken place but the divisiveness in the SBC rests squarely on the shoulders of those who have taken it upon themselves to Reform the SBC from the inside out with no regard to the current theological disposition of the entities, the SBC and those who support the Cooperative Program with their giving.

I was asked the following question by a member of this advisory committee, “What kind of compromise would you consider a step in the right direction?” Sadly, I am of the opinion there is only one answer to that question. The divisiveness in the SBC is not theological; the division has been caused by a very small group of individuals who have privately and quietly taken it upon themselves to infiltrate the entities with the expressed purpose of guiding the SBC toward a Reformed position. The simple solution is that some of these key individuals need to go. Southern and Southeastern need a different direction. Lifeway needs new leadership. Dr. Mohler needs to be the first to step down. States need to take a good look at their own colleges and newspapers and the individuals who are responsible for them. Remember, the division with regards to Calvinism has escalated not simply because there are more Calvinists, but because the influence of Calvinism in the entities of the SBC that is now propagating itself, producing more Calvinists. The entities are now leading the SBC down a Calvinist pathway with no regard to the vast majority in the SBC who do not favor this move.

Calvinism or Reformed Theology dominating the SBC is the clear cut goal of men like Tom Ascol of the Founder’s Ministry and Al Mohler and it is crystal clear that they are well on their way to achieving their goal without any consensus on the part of non-calvinists in the SBC. While many are aware of the Calvinist issues theologically, very few seem to be aware of the level of indoctrination that has taken place in the entities of the SBC nor are they aware of the danger this indoctrination poses. The SBC is being reformed from the inside out with very little attention being focused on those changes. Those responsible for these self-produced changes need to go. Make no mistake about it, the change that has been brought on the SBC by the efforts of a few Calvinists is what is causing the divisiveness in the convention today.

Once these individuals have stepped aside, the divisiveness could begin to subside and hope for cooperation could begin once again between Calvinists and non-calvinists in the SBC. One thing is clear; if these individuals are allowed to maintain the status quo, the divisiveness will only get worse as non-calvinists are made aware of what has actually taken place and what will no doubt continue to transpire until the goal of a Reformed SBC is indeed a reality.

One final thought. If Reformed Theology were the answer to the problems that exist in the SBC, then The Presbyterian Church with its Reformed Theology foundation would be leading the world but it is not. If Reformed Theology were the answer Dr. Mohler and company insist it is, then Europe would be a bastion of Christianity in the world for Reformed Theology was birthed there. Churches in Europe are largely monuments to what was a vibrant Christian presence but sadly they are empty today. I was told it was not Calvinism that killed the churches in Europe but rather a disobedient people that refused to listen to the teaching and preaching of right doctrine. This is indeed an interesting comment since Calvinism itself maintains that no one can listen and respond favorably unless God FIRST gives them the ability to do so. A consistent Calvinist would simply have to conclude that the reason Christianity in Europe is dying is because that is God’s sovereign choice.

The SBC does not need this kind of theology. If Reformed Theology is correct and God and God alone determines who is and is not saved and the elect will be saved because that is His sovereign plan and work, then a non-calvinist SBC will not hamper God’s sovereign work of salvation. Since most SBC Calvinists were saved as non-calvinists, that should be obvious even to the most unintellectual Calvinist.

It is time for this hijacking of the entities of the SBC to stop. It is time to address the ramifications of the reckless regard for the irresponsible actions of a few to Reform the SBC by taking over the entities of the SBC and leading them to a Reformed center with the final intention of leading the SBC to a Reformed position.

Al Mohler and other have made their beds. The question now is, who will suffer the consequences of their actions? One thing is clear; someone will.

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About sbcissues

Interested in bringing the issues facing The Southern Baptist Convention to light.
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138 Responses to An Open Letter To Frank Page, Al Mohler, Danny Akin, Tom Ascol, Mark Dever, David Dockery and the Committee on Calvinism

  1. sbcissues says:

    Important Comment:

      I am in NO WAY suggesting that ANYONE, especially Dr. Mohler has done ANYTHING unethical or wrong in his leadership role. Everything that I am suggesting that has taken place in the last 10 plus years has been perfectly within the rights of ANY Southern Baptist to do. When I used the phrase, “the hijacking of the entities” I am referring to a previous statement, “a very small group of individuals who have privately and quietly taken it upon themselves to infiltrate the entities with the expressed purpose of guiding the SBC toward a Reformed position.”

      Were these efforts and actions unethical or against the rules? No, they were not. When Dr. Mohler became president of SBTS, he stepped into a very influential position. When other positions came open, he recognized the tremendous power he held and his recommendations were well received. Gradually, he and others began to make the most of the influence they commanded. Make no mistake about it, they did what ANYONE would do and made the most of the opportunities that were offered to them.

      Perhaps, the criticism should be leveled at everyone else and not Mohler and company. However, the reason I am making this case against men like Al Molher and Danny Akin and David Dockery and others, is simple. These men have taken advantage of their positions of influence and respective areas of responsibility to carefully work to place certain people in key places to gain control of the entities for the propagation of their own personal theological ideologies. This is the problem and it is the direct cause of the upheaval being experienced today in this Calvinist revival in the SBC.

      Make no mistake about it, there would be no Calvinist revival in the SBC had the entities not been infiltrated by Mohler and his associates. However, their carefully constructed efforts have been very effective and as a result, this revival of Calvinism in the SBC is only beginning and like it or not, the SBC is on a fast track to becoming a Reformed denomination and I am not sure there is much that can stop it at this point. I am confident that the people in areas of leadership of the SBC are not going to be able to do so.

      If there is any hope of turning this tide, it will have to come from pastors in the pulpits and people in the pew. It appears that the Conservative Resurgence has given birth to a Calvinist Revival and the same tactics used by the liberals that led to the need for the Conservative Resurgence have been successfully employed to bring about this Calvinist Revival in the SBC.

      I will close this comment with the closing comment in my letter.

      Al Mohler and other have made their beds. The question now is, who will suffer the consequences of their actions? One thing is clear; someone will. Mohler and company have made their decisions. It is time for the rest of us in the SBC to make ours.

      May God bless and lead the SBC in the direction that He wants it to go.

      ><>”

  2. Tom Shelton says:

    So, basically what you are saying is that Calvinists are welcome in the SBC as long as they sit down, shut up, and toe the majority line…….

    I have another theory for you as to why there has been a resurgence (not an infiltration) of Calvinism in the SBC. I suggest that our churches had gotten so weak at teaching doctrine that it left people hungry for something solid, something that was deep and unchanging. As the people searched (myself included) for this many have found that foundation taught in God’s word leads to a Reformed / Calvinistic understanding of Scripture. I suggest that we have a resurgence of Calvinism in the SBC because people are getting back in God’s word and it is leading them there. Some get into God’s word and come to other positions and that is okay as long as they can defend the position from Scripture. If that is the case both sides can still work together as they have the internal debates without destroying the SBC. Should that not be the goal….

  3. Johnathan Pritchett says:

    Tom, I agree with you that there is weak doctrinal teaching in SBC churches. I recognize that and I am not a Calvinist. I also recognize that many of the pastors and theologians leading the Traditional stuff have hardly done anything worth mentioning to strengthen this from their side of things, but rather, they have only complained louder about Calvinism rather than made any significant moves to demonstrate the Biblical depth and soundness of the Traditional position, or done anything to make, what I find to be sound theology, presented in a meaningful way across the board and at bigger levels.

    Like the Calvinist groups, the Traditionalists have the resources to put on great and insightful conferences, publish books, etc, and have bothered with none of it, unlike Calvinists. People who get excited about theology and those sorts of things have nothing to point towards as progress, leaving people like me flat. This is why I no longer associate myself with that Traditional movement (and I wrote an article defending one of the points), and even though I am not a Calvinist, I always look forward to the next conference, big publication, or whatever coming from various Calvinist groups, because I always learn or even benefit from those things, even if I disagree with a lot of it, and they generate excitement.

    Traditionalists do nothing of the sort, and have had months to start putting it all together and haven’t. I enjoy theology done well, and presented well, period, even if I don’t agree with it. This is because, as you state, theology as a discipline in our churches is weak in general, and the Calvinists are the only ones making doing serious theology (not just Calvinist theology) popular again in the pews. I think it is good, and I had hoped people in my theological tradition would have began to do likewise…but alas… . . .

    However, I don’t think that Calvinism itself is the only theology that is “solid” or “deep”. I find that while it can be “deep”, whatever that may mean, other theological views are “deep” too, and the Bible itself determines what is solid. If I found Calvinism solid Biblical teaching, I’d be a Calvinist. 😉 I was a Calvinist, grew up and was informed by Reformed Southern Baptists such as Steve Lawson (though he wasn’t a Baptist at the time, but nondenominational at the Bible Church of Little Rock), but after getting “deep” into God’s word I found much of Calvinism lacking Biblical support.

    Different strokes, and I really do enjoy reading Reformed theologians even if I don’t agree with all their conclusions. If anything, it gives me something to wrestle with and stay sharp and thoughtful. LOL

    The issue here is this. Should Co-opt money go to people and entities those which those who contribute do not agree? Should tax payers have to fund abortions? Unfortunately, we can’t stop paying our taxes, but people can stop, and more importantly have stopped contributing those dollars. This not only affects learning institutions, but more importantly, it affects missions. I guess they all could designate their moneys, and that may help, but I don’t know the answer to this.

    What I do know is that Reformed Southern Baptists do not want to create a structure from scratch, so they want to reform SBC structures. No problem with me so far with the ground they have gained, because I don’t think that two out of six seminaries is all that bad, and it probably reflects the Calvinist to non-Calvinist ratio in the SBC quite well. Paige Patterson will never let SWTBS become Reformed or anything, so I think Calvinists are, and should be, taking what they can take, and won’t get further unless big shifts at the local church level happen…and it most likely won’t.

    So all this stuff about people stepping down, hostile takeovers, etc. is rubbish in my opinion. There is a big enough umbrella in the SBC for both, and I think that so long as Calvinism is not forced where it ain’t wanted, there won’t be much of a problem, and the current status quo is probably a good reflection of where the SBC is at the local church level anyway. All this talk about how Mohler is so influential, it makes Patterson look like a feckless wimp (maybe he is) that his theological kin have no influence or whatever over the entities that are supposed to reflect the ratio of the pews. .

    I am attending a Reformed Southern Baptist Church because the pastor is a friend of mine, and we get along just fine. He has me preacha nd teach from his church, and from a decidedly non-Reformed perspective that I have and make mention. He doesn’t have the notoriously bad attitude that many other young Calvinists have, and many in his church are not Calvinists either, so its all good. Critical minds glean what they ought, and discard or debate the rest. On any given Sunday on any given topic, one would not know that the pastor is Reformed, despite his not keeping it a secret. In these discussions, we forget that we agree with more than we disagree, and there is more that unites us as Southern Baptists than divides us.

    All that said, I will change my tune on all this if Calvinists seek to control a disproportionate amount of SBC entities or try to take over as many, but I don’t think we are there yet, and I don’t think this is a “trend” that would or could ever accomplish the fears illustrated in the post.unless the local churches change, or otherwise, they would then really start to notice and thus,take drastic action against Calvinists and Calvinism, which no one wants. While the Founders publicly seek to Reform the whole entire SBC, I am not so sure they will accomplish that. If they or others do dirty tactics to try, they should be and most likely will be rebuked. That “reform the whole SBC” to me sounds like empty rhetoric like saying we are gonna “take America back to God” or whatever. Lofty goal, but nothing beyond that.

    Lifeway still sells a lot of garbage, so I don’t think it has been infiltrated enough by either Calvinists or Traditionalists of theological conviction…In any case, I am not quite as alarmist as some of my theological kin are about all this, since I don’t think Calvinism is anywhere close to being in the majority, and I don’t think the Convention reflects anything different than the numbers in the churches, and I doubt they ever could unless the churches are there with them.

    That is the flip side; that if more and more local churches adopt Calvinism in their pews, then that is their choice (no pun intended), and I would argue that it would be fine that if the ratio changes towards Calvinism being the majority, which would mean then our side needs to respect it. But I don’t think Calvinists can ever gain what isn’t theirs to gain, and what they have gained was theirs to gain already, which at this point, seem to number the proper ration that is reflected in the number of Reformed to non-Reformed local churches in the SBC.

  4. sbcissues says:

    Johnathan and Tom,

    Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment. Johnathan echoes my sentiments with respect to Tom’s comment so I will only add this statement, Calvinism in the SBC is enjoying a revival in the last decade not because people are going “Back to the Bible”; they are enjoying this revival because of the influence of the entities which has taken place in the last decade. To ignore that fact is well…. ignoring the facts.

    Johnathan, you make a number of excellent points and I appreciate your input. There does seem to be a void in non-calvinist literature and theological thought; part of the reason for that I believe is because as Southern Baptists, we have not been as concerned with the theological differences and basically there has not been a perceived need for such. It is obvious that this is not the case and the work that has been done by Calvinists is paying great dividends.

    I will comment on the following statement: I also recognize that many of the pastors and theologians leading the Traditional stuff have hardly done anything worth mentioning to strengthen this from their side of things, but rather, they have only complained louder about Calvinism rather than made any significant moves to demonstrate the Biblical depth and soundness of the Traditional position, or done anything to make, what I find to be sound theology, presented in a meaningful way across the board and at bigger levels.”

    I can only assume this is a direct reference to the likes of this article. First of all, please note the article has nothing to do with the merits or the lack thereof of the tenets of calvinism. The point that I am making is simple, Dr. Mohler has effectively and methodically used his influence to move the entities of the SBC to reflect and begin to promote a Reformed theological position. I am simply point out what I believe to be a fact. He had every right to do what he believes to be the most responsible thing to do as a Reformed theologian. If the people in the pew are ok with it, then so be it.

    I do not believe many in the SBC are even aware of what has and continues to be taking place with respect to the infiltration of the entities nor the ramifications of those changes. I am confident that Dr. Mohler and company are very much aware of those implications and that is why they have sought to do what they have done. Once again, they have every right to do what they have done. That is not the issue.

    My point is simply this; Here is what has happened and this is the direction that some of the paid leaders of our entities are going. It is up to us to make the determination as to whether we want this to continue or not and then do something about it.

    This is the sole purpose of this article. Southern Baptists need to be informed to decide for themselves what their response ought to be. While I do not believe that Calvinists ought to sit down and shut up or move to the back of the bus, I do believe that those who are not Calvinist have the responsibility to stand up and speak our minds and not be castigated for doing so.

    ><>”

    • Drew Mery says:

      You said, “Calvinism in the SBC is enjoying a revival in the last decade not because people are going “Back to the Bible”; they are enjoying this revival because of the influence of the entities which has taken place in the last decade.” Why the dichotomy here? I see none. Can it not be that the influential entities are directing the Southern Baptist community back to a more exegetical grounding in Scripture? This has been my own experience. Prior to becoming a Calvinist I used to skip those “difficult” passages or explain them away (indeed, that was essentially what my SB leaders did). I argued against Calvinism without truly knowing its full theological system. Then, I decided to hear them out, study their teachings, and accept the clear teaching of Scripture, whether it immediately appealed to me or not (God’s word is good). When I did this, I became a convinced Calvinist.

      With all due respect, I believe the great division within the SBC comes primarily from the non-Calvinist side. Why do I say this? Because every time I hear a non-Calvinist leader or pastor teach/preach on Calvinism, they always misrepresent Calvinism and paint them as dangerous and even heretical. This is unhealthy conversation (it’s not even conversation). There seems to be a decided neglect from the non-Calvinist side to recognize and appreciate the great biblical and gospel influence that Calvinists have brought to the Christian world and the non-Christian world (both historically and currently). Every time I hear non-Calvinists speak about Calvinism it’s always about how Calvinists believe in God’s sovereign election, but they extrapolate it and twist it and make it sound like this is what makes Calvinists be Calvinists. Calvnism is so much more! It is a theological system that seeks to be God-centered in all its thoughts and practices, to place a biblical balance on the dignity of man and the depravity of man, and to emphasize the cross of Jesus Christ. It boggles my mind how a Christian people can be so vehemently against a theological perspective that exalts the glory of God and the grace of God in the gospel.

      What is more, there seems to be a neglect of the SBC’s own Calvinist history. While arguments may surround the overall influence that Calvinism played in the SBC’s past, it cannot be ignored that Calvinism has always existed in the SBC and has been a theological influence within the SBC. Calvinism is not new. We only ask that we be properly heard and understood. I do not know what I will do the next time I hear an SBC pastor twist the historical understanding of the 5-points and then make Calvinists appear like people haters who love only God, who aren’t concerned for lost souls.

      Look, numerous opportunities of debate and discussion have been offered. I know James White and Tom Ascol have offered to debate this issue. Yet, it seems like the upper leadership of the SBC is unwilling to engage in a well-constructed, friendly debate on this issue. Instead, you get a John 3:16 Conference that provided no platform for Calvinist theologians. Or, you get a debate that is rather imbalanced, consisting of a 4-point Calvinist. Some of the greatest Calvinist thinkers and theologians are willing to lay out our theology and discuss this issue. Why isn’t this happening? What’s the worry?

      • sbcissues says:

        Thanks for your input. Not much of what you wrote has anything to do with the premise of the post but you are certainly welcome to share your thoughts. You did ask, “Can it not be that the influential entities are directing the Southern Baptist community back to a more exegetical grounding in Scripture? ”

        That is the point of my complaint. The entities are indeed directing the Southern Baptist community back to what they (Mohler and company) contend is a more exegetical grounding in Scripture. I along with a vast majority of Southern Baptists do not consider reformed theology such an exegetical grounding and for the record, that is not because I do not understand calvinism and its tenets.

        Thanks for your comments.

        ><>”

  5. Bob Williford says:

    Information to the folks in the pew is essential. I just completed an 8 month interim in a small urban church and not a single person there knows of what is going on in SBC life. Furthermore, I am not certain that they are concerned because they are involved in the survival of their own ministry. Larger churches are just as isolated in many ways because Pastors, I believe are not involved, either. With this being said, I must conclude that this argument is basically taking place in the higher places of influence and power….of this I am certain. Surely there are conversations about the Reform Movement taking places over coffee and in larger arenas, but not in the average churches which are responsible for funding the missions ministries of the SBC and herein lies the tragedy. The supporters are not aware of what is taking place around them. I wish that this were not the case, but from where I am this seems to be the case.

    Not long ago I was speaking with a friend who is on staff in a State Convention and he is not aware of the people insided the Convention where he serves. Personally, I found about their existence in a round about and difficult manner, but these folks do not want their presence known. For the most part, those who are inside are quiet, but very active with their efforts of moviing forward with the agenda mentioned in this open letter. Do I know who they are specifically, no. Do I know of their existence, yes. Could I point them out, no. However, their presence is obvious and insidiously so.

    Understood, this is just an opinion offered by someone who lives in a small corner of a very large box, but I feel the squeeze. Following the issue has been an eye opener for me that has been in progress for about 3 or 4 years. This began with a conversation with Dr. Malcolm Yarnell and with the reading of the book, “Whosoever Will”. I have spoken openly about this on numerous occasions, but for the most part people seem not to be concerned. The average Southern Baptist simply know about their concerns in their local churches because their Pastors seem not to be involved outside their arenas, either.

  6. sbcissues says:

    Thanks Bob,

    You are absolutely right. The problem is, those who are involved in the transformation process are well aware of this as well. They know that they can do pretty much what they want to do because the resistance is going to minimal at best. I will tell you that the CR taught us something else as well; people will continue to support the CP and the CP will continue to funnel funds to the entities. Those funds may be reduced, but they will still be far more than if a new convention were attempted to be formed. These are bare facts and a picture of stark reality. Sadly, it is what it is.

    ><>”

  7. clarkd52 says:

    OK, I admit I’m not real familiar with sideline blogs like this, who exactly wrote the letter? I’m sure they’re not trying to be anonymous but I just can’t find it.
    About the letter, let me just say, WOW< who stepped on your toes that you would react so strongly to people you admit have done nothing wrong?

    • sbcissues says:

      My name is Bob Hadley and I am pastor of Westside Baptist Church in Daytona Beach, Fl.

      I wanted to make sure that I was not misunderstood. What has been done as I see it, is perfectly within the rights of any individual and to use the influence that is available to Dr. Mohler and others is expected. My point is not to even hint that anyone did anything wrong.

      I simply do not agree with the direction these self determined individuals have purposefully and carefully led the entities. The entities are now leading the convention in the direction that Dr. Mohler and others knew it would and I believe as others are made aware of these actions, they will respond. If not, then so be it.

      ><>”

  8. Branton Burleson says:

    This is the kind of fearmongering that we desperately do not need at this time. Southern and Southeastern, along with universities like North Greenville and Union, are exploding with growth for a reason. And I can assure you that MANY of those students are embracing Reformed theology long before they get to these institutions. How will you stop that? There is a generation that is embracing suffering for the Gospel and missions for the glory of God like never before. Do we fear more sovereignty-loving pastors and missionaries like William Carey? Adoniram Judson? Lottie Moon? Stop this insanity of calling for resignations from people who love Jesus and the Word of God. Our schools are stronger than they have ever been and I, for one, (as a lifelong SBCer) am thrilled with the direction these leaders taking us. Enough of these ridiculous calls for faithful people “to go.”

  9. Madel Carline says:

    I am a pew sitter in a SBC church, not a theologian and I have a non protestant background. I have several questions; why must one be labeled Calvinist? Why not just a baptist? In this letter it sounds like a four letter word. where are these men getting their teachings from? The bible? You say they are perusing personal ideologies. If not teaching from the bible then they have no business in a pulpit. How did the SBC start and where did the beginning SBC members get their teachings from? As a regular member of a SBC church who sits in the pew week after week desiring to hear what God says in His Word I am thankful for a pastor who loves God’s word and teaches it plainly to lay people. I don’t know of any of this makes sense to all of you “Theologians”. And I really don’t expect to get an answer. Maybe THAT’S the problem with American churches today…

    • sbcissues says:

      Ms. Carline,

      If I only answered one comment, it would be yours. Why must one be labeled a calvinist? Well, I can only answer for myself here… I am definitely not one. Calvinism represents a theological perspective that has been part of the SBC since its founding and depending on who you talk to, its level of popularity has been up and down. Today I maintain it is enjoying its fines hour in the SBC… and one of the reasons I maintain that this is true is found in this article: A few good men have taken it upon themselves to place influential people in key places in the entities to help lead them to a more calvinistic position and therefore bringing about a revival of calvinist leaning individuals, especially among the younger ones coming into the ministry. It would appear from the comments on this article, there is at least some validity to my argument.

      These men that I am speaking of are highly convictional and very theologically founded. I simply disagree with the theological positions they are promoting and establishing in the entities which is now and will continue to have a tremendous impact in the landscape of the SBC of the not so distance future.

      I am grateful that you have a pastor that preaches the Word. Thank you for your comment.

      ><>”

    • Stevan Garner says:

      Ms. Carline, I have been a Baptist since I was about 5 years of age. I was raised up in a Southern Baptist Church in Southern Maryland. Over the years I have attended many of the Baptist denomination churches; and was ordained as a minister of the Gospel through the General Baptist denomination. I don’t know why there are so many denominations in the Baptist sect, but I learned from one of my teachers/mentors that when you start preaching against the theology presented by John Calvin or David Armenia for example, that you are most certainly going to stir a cauldron that should not have even been started.
      I presently attend a Southern Baptist Church in central Florida that is involved in a pastoral search; they won’t consider me a candidate because I am not a graduate of a Southern Baptist Seminary. They don’t mind having me fill the pulpit as an interim sort of pastor, but they just don’t want me as their full time pastor. I have decided that when this church finally calls a pastor, that I will move on to another location. I have decided to follow Jesus wherever He leads me, and if per-chance He calls upon my heart to once again pastor a church then I will do so.
      My daily prayer includes; Lord please unite all the denominations of your church so that Your church may fulfill your command to us in Matthew 28:18, to “go forth unto all nations and preach my gospel, baptizing in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.”
      As lon

  10. John Downey says:

    It seems to me your open letters intent is more to complain about there being Calvinists in the SBC then to present any sort of real compromise or even anything that resembles a sound theological argument. Do you even know or fully understand what points of Calvinism you take issue with? Is there anything about Calvinism that you can Biblically refute or do you have to land on “I don’t know” as an answer? Most of the time when people have a problem with Calvin’s theology it’s because they don’t really fully understand it, they ignorantly presume that Hyper-Calvinism and Calvinism are the same thing. Have you even read Institutes of the Christian Religion to know what you disagree with?
    The entire tone of your post indicates that being a Calvinist is the worst possible thing in the world, not being lost and on the broad road to hell, but a Calvinist. I have never heard Al Mohler preach anything other than Christ as savior. Do you think he says Calvin instead of Christ? If so you probably need to listen to his sermons again.
    I do agree with you on one point though and that is this: “a non-calvinist SBC will not hamper God’s sovereign work of salvation.” God’s sovereign work of salvation won’t be hampered by any one person, but it certainly won’t be helped by anyone who is more concerned with weeding out a *gasp* Calvinist SBCer than he his proclaiming God’s Word. What you are doing is the equivalent of racism, only yours is based on theological positions rather than skin color, but the attitude is the same. “I can’t work with him because he’s _______ (fill in the blank). Instead of linking arms with someone who is a brother in Christ to accomplish the common goal we share of proclaiming Christ to the lost world you’d rather excommunicate them so you don’t have to deal with them or at least you don’t have to support them with your CP dollars, not because they have done anything wrong because, as you point out, they’ve done an exemplary job in their positions, but because they are a Calvinist. THAT is racist, and that is where you are wrong.

    • sbcissues says:

      John,

      We all have our respective perspectives and opinions on what is what. I will leave yours with respect to my letter alone.

      You wrote, “The entire tone of your post indicates that being a Calvinist is the worst possible thing in the world, not being lost and on the broad road to hell, but a Calvinist.” While I am not a calvinist, I have not even come close to what you are saying here. My post speaks of actions that have been taken by a few men to gain the influence of the entities of the SBC. That is all I have alluded to. The fact that the purpose of their efforts is to establish a reformed theological position in the SBC is the basis of my argument.

      How you see that is your perspective and you certainly have every right to it but it is incorrect as far as my position is concerned. I do not believe calvinism reflects the Biblical position on salvation especially where conversion is concerned and I am far from ignorant of the issues. I understand the mentality that a non-calvinist cannot understand calvinism or he would be one but I do not subscribe to that position.

      Your comment “it certainly won’t be helped by anyone who is more concerned with weeding out a *gasp* Calvinist SBCer than he his proclaiming God’s Word” is an accurate statement. Understand that the former has nothing to do with the latter… I am simply voicing my disapproval of what is taking place in the entites of the SBC and in this post, that is it. Thanks for your input.

      ><>”

  11. Malachi Sewell says:

    “Once these individuals have stepped aside, the divisiveness could begin to subside and hope for cooperation could begin once again between Calvinists and non-calvinists in the SBC.”

    And divisiveness is wrong because…why? Does Paul not say:

    “But, of course, there must be divisions among you so that you who have God’s approval will be recognized”- 1 Cor 11:19

    We must be careful not to take the ‘don’t rock the boat’ as the go-to heuristic. In the wise words of Gamaliel:
    ” So in the present case I tell you, keep away from these men and let them alone, for if this plan or this undertaking is of man, it will fail; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You might even be found opposing God!” -Acts 5:38-39

    In all reality I cannot tell whose side you are on, sbcissues. The letter is basically acknowledging the legitimacy, influence, and growing momentum of Calvinism in the SBC. It is the equivalent of “Hide your kids hide your wives, the Calvinists are winning!”. How in the world can you expect that open letter to do anything but advance the cause of those whom it is intended to implicate?
    What this amounts to is “We cannot beat the Calvinist on playing field of the Bible, therefore let’s remove them from places of influence.” I can only imagine that the transparency of this is visible to all.

    -Soli Deo Gloria

    • sbcissues says:

      Interesting perspective. Are you familiar with the phrase, “It is easier to ask for forgiveness than permission?” Basically that is my complaint here. It is not that anyone has done anything wrong, it is the actions of a few have and are effecting the whole. I simply disagree with the actions that have been taken and I am voicing that disagreement.

      If enough people read this dialogue and agree, then something may be done; if not, then it is what it is.

      Thanks for your input.

      ><>”

  12. Unbelievable. Do you even realize how much you sound like the Cardinals at the Diet of Worms? Do you know how much you sound like the apostate roman church at the Council of Trent? or Vatican I and 2? What if God is working in the SBC, I’m going to sound like Gamaliel here, and converting them to the True Gospel of God’s Absolute Sovereignty and you are the one fighting against it?
    As to Europe, well, that’s part of God’s Plan and they still do have a remnant. America will follow as the flow of the Gospel moves into every language, tribe and nation and then our Lord will come for His own (not by decision, or decision card or walking an aisle but by the Will of God; my own rephrasing of John 1).

  13. Eric Woods says:

    Guys like Mohler, Akin, and Dever are the only reason a lot of us young ones are sticking it out in the SBC and it has very little to do with Calvinism. As long as the majority of the SBC considers block parties, VBS, raise your hand and repeat after me, and all other sorts of hokey creative gimmicks to be genuine evangelism as opposed to preaching and sharing the gospel, and as long as rampant unregenerate membership and MIA membership is tolerated in SBC churches, guys like Mohler and Dever are the only hope for the convention. As long as the convention can’t move or pastors can’t lead their churches or write a sermon without Stetzer or Barna researching it or taking a poll on it, we are sunk. God is sovereign and He has chosen the gospel alone as the means of salvation to those who would respond to it by faith and repentance, regardless of Calvinist or not.

    • sbcissues says:

      God is sovereign and He has chosen the gospel alone as the means of salvation to those who would respond to it by faith and repentance, regardless of Calvinist or not.

      AMEN. I could not agree more.

      ><>”

  14. Nick Miller says:

    It’s odd to write an entire page saying one thing and then doing follow up to clarify that you don’t mean to sound that way.
    “I am in NO WAY suggesting that ANYONE, especially Dr. Mohler has done ANYTHING unethical or wrong in his leadership role. Everything that I am suggesting that has taken place in the last 10 plus years has been perfectly within the rights of ANY Southern Baptist to do.”

    You just suggested that he (Mohler) has been been recommending certain people for positions of influence as if it were a bad thing for someone in his position to do.
    “This has been done quietly and without any outside collaboration and without any word of warning on these individual’s part and this is in and of itself fundamentally wrong.”

    If Mohler has had a hand in placing people in positions and you feel that there is something “fundamentally wrong” with how it was done or the motives behind these decisions, than please be clear in your post as to if someone has done something wrong or not.

    If you just don’t like the direction things are going than please clarify. Something to the effect of “I don’t agree with Calvinism and having people in positions of power that hold those views makes me want the other people who share my views take the reins back.”

    Your post comes off as though you want them(Calvinist) out because they hold a view(Calvinism) and make important decisions based on it. Your solution is to get them(Calvinist) out, place people you agree with in those spots, so the new people can make decisions you agree with more.

    If you truly believe your own words, that you are not “suggesting ANYONE has done ANYTHING unethical or wrong”, then you may wish to write to an audience of your like minded peers with words of encouragement. Something like “I believe our(Traditional) view is better suited to lead the SBC and we(People Holding A Traditional View) should elect someone who shares this stance. We have the numbers to elect someone more to our liking so let’s do that.”

    A phrase among young people now is “I’m not saying, I’m just saying.” It means
    [Trying to let someone think you’re “not saying'”, when, in fact, you most certainly ARE “saying'”]

    “I am in NO WAY suggesting that ANYONE, especially Dr. Mohler has done ANYTHING unethical or wrong in his leadership role.” …….. Sure your not!

    Grace & Peace
    Your Brother in Christ
    Nick Miller
    Member of Providence Church SWFL

    • sbcissues says:

      Nick,

      Communication is a difficult process. Sometimes what someone writes and what someone reads can be seen in a different light. Perhaps that is what has happened here.

      My open letter was to these men on this committee. When I make the letter public, I wanted to dispel any possible misunderstandings on any improper actions taken by anyone. My point was not to accuse anyone of anything unethical but to simply argue that the motives behind the actions were to gain control of the entities with the expressed intention of guiding the future of the SBC to a reformed position. It ought to be obvious to even the most casual observer, that I am not in favor of a calvinist SBC. I am therefore not in favor of the premeditated efforts of entity employees that have taken it upon themselves to unduly seek to influence other entities in the recommendations of individuals for various key positions.

      While I openly acknowledged that they have every right to do so, I have every right to do what they have done, so do I have the right to disprove and share that disapproval with others and let them make up their own minds on what has and continues to take place in the SBC.

      ><>”

  15. Pingback: Drama in the SBC over Calvinism. | Defending. Contending.

  16. Drew Wales says:

    I suppose I would be considered young and reformed. I’m 29 years old and a student of the Bible. The problem with your thesis is you are wishing to blame the resurgence of Calvinism on the popularity of Mohler and other entity heads, but the truth of the matter is, as noted above, the pew sitters are becoming hungry for great truths found in Scripture and in many instances are getting either patriotic sermons about the nation abandoning God or 5 spiritual shoes worn by David, or some other topical, self help, pop psychology speech.

    I began listening to John Piper, Paul Washer, and Mark Driscoll. I have never read an Al Mohler book, and only visited his blog a few times. The shift towards Calvinism is much bigger than a couple of seminary presidents and entity heads. Lets be honest… how many pew sitters are converting to reformed theology because the entity heads are Calvinists? I would argue, hardly any. I can’t even tell you the theological position of any of them except Dr. Mohler and that is because he seems to the be one who draws the most attention.

    If your thesis is correct that there is a reformation taking place in the SBC then I have a question for you. Is the position being put forth by the leaders unbiblical?

    • sbcissues says:

      Drew,

      Thanks for your input. You wrote, “The problem with your thesis is you are wishing to blame the resurgence of Calvinism on the popularity of Mohler and other entity heads”

      This is not at all what I said. I said that the efforts of certain men has unduly affected the theological position of the entities of the SBC and that position is having an impact on a revival of calvinism in the SBC. The fact that it has not affected you does not make my argument void.

      I do appreciate your comment.

      ><>”

  17. Patrick says:

    It’s not a theological problem or it is a theological problem… Which is it? This argument embodies the liberal argument, “Everyone is entitled to free speech, except you.” What if the Calvinists who started the SBC had kept non-Calvinists out? What if they had made the same argument? In that case we wouldn’t even be having this conversation. The truth is you cannot presuppose the SBC position on Calvinism because it has gone from having a Calvinistic position to intentionally non-positional. You cannot impose your views on churches that are autonomous any more than you can impose contemporary music on all churches because you presume it to be the majority view. I have seen the charges, an implication of sinful behavior, made against these Christian leaders and I have seen no evidence provided by their accuser of the charges made, nor any record of any attempt to rebuke them privately for their error with two or more witnesses, nor of their refusal to listen. How should a Christian respond to such a post?

    • sbcissues says:

      You wrote… You cannot impose your views on churches that are autonomous any more than you can impose contemporary music on all churches because you presume it to be the majority view.

      Interesting how you managed to come up with this comment related to what I wrote. It is possible to impose ones theological views on the SBC if you are able to have those views front and center in the entities of the convention…. while our churches are autonomous, the entities are not.

      Thanks for your input.

      ><>”

  18. Paul Edwards says:

    Dumbfounded to read “resolution to the cooperation issue in the SBC” and “[t]hese individuals cannot be allowed to continue this ploy” in the same paragraph. Do you not see the inconsistency of those two statements? I also wonder whether the author of this post realizes that the roots of Calvinism are in the founding of the SBC.

    • sbcissues says:

      The answer to your question about the roots of calvinism in the SBC is yes. The problem as I see it is the roots of calvinism in the entities of the SBC today and the impact of that influence in the SBC of tomorrow.

      ><>”

  19. May God continue to abundantly bless your high view of God and Scripture, Dr. Mohler. May your tribe increase!

  20. lawgracepreacher says:

    “I am in NO WAY suggesting that ANYONE, especially Dr. Mohler has done ANYTHING unethical or wrong in his leadership role.”

    “Dr. Mohler and others serve in very influential positions and are being paid by SBC entities. While it is accurate to say that they have done outstanding jobs in their respective positions of responsibility, they have also been busy working quietly to direct other areas of the SBC toward a reformed theological position that is decidedly different from their current positions. This has been done quietly and without any outside collaboration and without any word of warning on these individual’s part and this is in and of itself fundamentally wrong.”

    So you’re in NO WAY suggesting that Dr. Mohler has done anything wrong. Mkay. I’m with you so far.

    Oh, I see. So he’s just done something “FUNDAMENTALLY wrong.”

    And anybody–Calvinist or Arminian–is supposed to take this post seriously?

    Please pull this nonsense off the internet ASAP. Pray, meet with the elders of your church, study the Scriptures, and try again.

  21. Kent Hartsell says:

    The argument in this letter turns in on itself. Why would there be a growing concern over the number of folks you identify by their theological system, yet you say the concern is not over their theological system. Methinks the concern is over the number of people rising to prominent positions in th SBC who share a theology you disagree with.

    Essentially it seems you are asking them to step down for disagreeing with you. Rather foolish to say the least. I for one applaud these leaders for actually leading. God give us more of them.

    • sbcissues says:

      “Methinks the concern is over the number of people rising to prominent positions in th SBC who share a theology you disagree with.”

      Actually you are more accurate than you realize. I disagree that the entities of the SBC need to be reformed in their theology. I believe that the vast majority of the people in the pew who faithfully support the SBC with their dollars and prayers want the entities of the SBC to be reformed not a reformed SBC. However, few are aware of what is taking place.

      That is the purpose of this article. You applaud these leaders for actually leading and I don’t. Thanks for commenting.

      ><>”

      • From an SBC pew says:

        I have spent nearly half a century on this earth, and my raising and faithful church attendance has been Southern Baptist the vast majority of those years. I was ignorant of Calvinism until just a few short years ago.

        Perhaps my experience can shed a bit of light on what I hear may be happening in the pews.

        Reading the Bible for myself, and thereby growing in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ, at least three things happened.

        1. I became increasingly concerned in my spirit at the church around me, because what I saw did not fully match what I read. Finally I began seeing problems such as the Charles Finney-inspired gimmicks and psychological manipulation to get “decisions” for Christ (as opposed to true converts), easy-believism, what seems to ne a marketing approach of gospel presentation by reducing God’s character to only love, pragmatism rather then Scripture, no church discipline, and biblically shallow sermons. This was what I saw. In short, the Bible is held high but not fully preached or obeyed.

        2. In the recent past, I discovered that there is a Reformed group in the SBC, the historic Baptists, and I have been delighted to discover them preaching the Bible. They tend to preach expositorily, through books of the Bible, which forces them to preach all the biblical truths there. The topical preaching I sat under most of my life allows preachers to avoid doctrines or topics they do not want to preach on. That has been my experience.

        3. I have also become upset that I have spent decades faithfully attending Southern Baptist churches and have –through teaching and preaching and Sunday School material– been kept completely ignorant of things clearly in Scripture, which I would not have recognized if I had not read them myself and had God not opened my eyes to see such things in His Holy Word.

        That causes me wonder if this dust-up of fear of “Calvinists” (I prefer to be labelled a “Biblicist”) is wrongly focused. We should pull out our Bibles, earnestly ask the Lord God for wisdom, and pursue the truth of His written Word and follow in obedience wherever that leads. While we are st it, we should shine the light on the so-called Traditionalist group and examine them to determine if perhaps they have failed to expose the people of the SBC to the whole counsel of God. A fair debate between the two opposing positions should allow us in the pews to see that more clearly, if we have our Bibles open and investigate to see whether what is and is not said is true.

  22. Laurie says:

    Do you realize that as Doug Hamp says, “the elect” in the Bible refers to Israel, and not to the church, or any reference to the saved.

  23. Ian says:

    I wonder if there is any irony in people turning on Al Mohler, one of the key architects of the Conservative Resurgence in the SBC. Many people may already have forgotten, but the SBC was very close to becoming an irrelevant mainline denomination. Reformed theology is a minor inconvenience to the disaster that Mohler helped the denomination avert with his efforts to preserve conservative doctrine within the SBC seminaries.

    • sbcissues says:

      Ian,

      The move to initiate the CR began in 1967 when Dr. Mohler was 8 years old. The organized effort to actually begin the concerted effort to bring about the resurgence took place in 1978 and 79 when Dr. Mohler should have been in college preparing to head to Southern Seminary where he would earn his PhD in or around 1985. As an articulate theologian he along with Richard Land, D.Phil., Oxford; Timothy George, Ph.D., Harvard;
      Chuck Kelley, Ph.D., New Orleans Seminary; Ken Hemphill, Ph.D., Cambridge; Mark Coppenger, Ph.D., Vanderbilt; Phil Roberts, Ph.D., Amsterdam; Danny Akin, Ph.D., University of Texas were instrumental in leading the conservative charge against the liberal faction that claimed an intellectual superiority over the 80% in the SBC who did not understand the finer points of higher criticism and other methodologies necessary to accurately understand the Scriptures.

      Dr. Mohler became president of SBTS in 1993 and his contributions have been many since that time. However, to name him as “one of the key architects of the Conservative Resurgence in the SBC” is a bit much; and a claim that he himself would no doubt reject.

      ><>”

  24. tsfortner says:

    As Spurgeon was driven from the Baptist Union for holding the truth in a day of “politically correct speech,” I fear those of us in agreement with Spurgeon’s understanding of the Scriptures will face the same today. I was a staff member (Senior Adult intern) at First Baptist Church of Dallas in the 1980s and heard Dr. W.A. Criswell preach for years before, during and after my service to the church’s ministries. Dr. Criswell, one of our champions of the faith who helped architect the return of the SBC to Biblical convictions, was by his own admission a five point Calvinist. He played a critical role in the restoration of our boards, agencies and seminaries by “recommending” Godly men and women, Calvinist and non-Calvinist, to positions of leadership that permitted the purge of liberalism to happen. So, in order to be politically correct and relevant to the pagan news media, do Southern Baptists now purge those he helped appoint? I assume you see the pious hypocrisy being proposed.

    What is at risk is the very heart of the Gospel. Does God in His sovereignty save sinners, or can we simply “take it or leave it” as Pelagius taught? No Arminian would dare propose what is being called the Gospel today. It clearly demonstrates that the Biblical literacy of Southern Baptists, including some of our pastors, is not much higher than the American population at large.

    Die warhait ist untodlich.

    Rev. Thomas Fortner, B.A., M.A., Criswell College
    Burleson, Texas

    • sbcissues says:

      Bro. Fortner,

      Here is the difference in the SBC today and that of the 80’s as the CR was taking shape to move the convention away from the liberals who had of all things, gained control of the seminaries and were beginning to gain control of the entities; Calvinists were part of the mainstream of the SBC. Calvinism was not a MAJOR issue because it was a faction within the overall framework of the SBC.

      The perceived problem today and I admit that it may well be perceived, is that Calvinists have replaced the liberals in the takeover of the entities, the seminaries and colleges and Lifeway and now the other entities in a concerted effort to gain control of the influencing power these entities hold to effect the future of the theological temperature of the SBC.

      The fact that there were liberal factions in the SBC prior to the CR was not really a major problem. It became a problem when it was obvious that the liberal faction had taken advantage of the opportunities afforded to them because of the positions they held in the convention. The people in the pew did not want to become minions to the advocates of higher textual criticism and a people who did not believe that the Bible was the inerrant Word of God.

      I believe we are in the same position today in the SBC with respect to Calvinism. The question in my mind is simple. Do we as Southern Baptists want to be a people who believe that God and God alone determines who will spend eternity with Him in heaven and He and He alone determines who will spend eternity in hell or does God make His choice based on our choice concerning His Son who gave His life on the cross so that we might have life in Him through repentance and faith in God’s promises found in His Word and in our witness and personal testimony to a lost world.

      The entities of the SBC have been infiltrated with calvinist leaning individuals and that should be cause for concern for anyone who does not consider the Doctrines of Grace the Scriptural standard for understanding the salvific work of God in our world. The problem is very few in the SBC are even aware that all this is taking place, much less the ramifications and consequences.

      I will conclude with your own observation, “I assume you see the pious hypocrisy being proposed.”

      ><>”

      • tsfortner says:

        The pious hypocrisy I see is that in the 1980s the nonCalvinists needed the Calvinists to make up enough numbers to mount a charge to rescue the Convention. Now, nonCalvinists see us as no longer needed and should be discarded. I remind you that this is our Convention too, and that we paid the same high price as nonCalvinists to rescue our denomination from dogmatic unbelief. Proposing that Calvinists be purged from the Convention is no different from how the Baptist Union treated Charles Spurgeon, and Semi-Pelagianism was as much part of the debate then as higher criticism.

        We might arrogantly believe that the Southern Baptist Convention, having been rescued from liberalism and theological death, is now invulnerable to heresy. But instead I suggest that every generation is prone to wandering because of our sinfulness, and nonCalvinists still need Calvinists to prevent a return to what we have recently been delivered. You may not like the fact that nonCalvinists still need us, but you can’t escape that reality. Our presence prevents theological drift.

    • Well said, Rev. Fortner

  25. sbcissues says:

    Bro. Fortner,

    You said, “The pious hypocrisy I see is that in the 1980s the nonCalvinists needed the Calvinists to make up enough numbers to mount a charge to rescue the Convention.” There was no real divide of calvinists and non-calvinists even though both existed. I am not advocating a calvinist purge as such but I am not in favor of the extent of the level of calvinist influence in the entities; a point that no one commenting here has addressed. There is a pronounced difference in advocating against calvinism itself and the level of influence that a minority calvinist position holds in the entities of the convention.

    Truth is with reference to the CR that you make reference to, it was not that the liberals were in the SBC; the real problem was the level of influence that they welded because of the positions of influence that they held. While I do not believe the tenets of calvinism to be Biblical, I do believe that individuals and churches in the SBC have the right to make that determination for themselves. The entities are a different story. I believe they must reflect the predominate theology of the majority of the people who make up convention as a whole otherwise those in charge of the entities can lead the convention in a different direction.

    We all have our various positions and we have both a right and a responsibility to voice concerns related to those positions. My prayer is that you can understand that.

    ><>”

    • Kent Hartsell says:

      You said: “I am not advocating a calvinist purge as such but I am not in favor of the extent of the level of calvinist influence in the entities; a point that no one commenting here has addressed.”

      I believe that the reason that no one has addressed this to your satisfaction is because most would see that the underlying issues (doctrines) are more substantial than the number of people in positions who hold those doctrines. If there is no concern over Calvinism, why care how many are in certain positions? And if there is concern over the extent of Calvinist influence, isn’t that because there is concern over the doctrine? You wouldn’t be concerned about the number of seminary presidents who have long noses, unless you have a problem with long noses. So possibly, the reason that most comments are going to a level below what you want to discuss is that what you want to discuss is not relevant if there is no substantive concern below it.

      But I’ll bite. Assuming that Calvinism isn’t the concern, but rather the extent of of Calvinist influence. What would you recommend the breakdown be? How many Calvinists are acceptable to you?

      • sbcissues says:

        Thanks for the interaction. In one regard, you are correct; the theological issues are more substantial than the number of people in positions of influence. That has been the case for centuries and yet we have been able to cooperate as churches and that I suggest is still the case today. Although the underlying issue is theological, the primary issue of division today as I see it is positional in the number of people holding key positions in the entities and the level of influence that these entities are exerting.

        Your question is an interesting one. Do you realize that the same question you have asked today is the same question that was asked by the liberals during the height of the Conservative Resurgence? Note the following statement from Dr. Paige Patterson in a work titled, ANATOMY OF A REFORMATION:THE SOUTHERN BAPTIST CONVENTION, 1978-2004

        A word needs to be said about two other developments. In the early days of the controversy, conservatives pointed to the unassailable fact that there was no parity in the six seminary faculties. Some seminaries had no professing inerrantists on board, and none had more than a few. Moderates later discovered that conservatives did not desire “parity,” but rather, they believed that every professor in Southern Baptist Convention seminaries should be an inerrantist. Some moderates felt that they had been deceived. However, conservatives never asked for parity. They simply noted that moderates, who claimed to be inclusive, in fact had been exclusive and doctrinaire.

        Page 17

        The work can be read at the following link, http://www.paigepatterson.info/documents/anatomy_of_a_reformation.pdf

        The question that exists today is, does the SBC want parity or uniformity in the theological positions of the entities given its current condition and direction. I do not know the answer to that question.

        ><>”

  26. As an outsider, If I may say. With my chats with anti-Calvinist, what I always see is a lack of understanding of what Calvinism / Doctrines of grace teach. I have seen two basic issues that, as I see it are at the heart of the issue.

    1) God’s total sovereignty in choosing whom He wants to save or reject for salvation,
    2) The ability or lack of ability concerning the “natural man”

    Anti-Calvinist seem to think by natural implication of their theology, God is only 99% sovereign and man must add his “freewill” choice to say YES or NO to God’s offer of Salvation.

    They assume

    1) The ability of the natural man to actually WANT to say Yes to God.
    2) Some form of prevenient grace.
    3) God looks down through time to see WHO will say “yes” to God if given a chance.

    The 3 points are man centered, man must have his freewill.
    The 2 points are God centered, God is totally sovereign over man’s who to save or reject for salvation.

    Anti-Calvinists seem to think that “God must be fair” (a human understanding of fairness). Personally, I think this can be a form of idol worship, the worship / projecting of the concept of “human fairness” onto God. I personally see as well that some people really hate the idea of God’s total Sovereignty in saving or rejecting whom to save ALL for His glory and honor…

    As I see it. This goes to the heart of the issue and I’m betting that this issue will not be solved that easily.

    • sbcissues says:

      Robert,

      Thanks for your “outsider” comment. As for the statement, “I always see is a lack of understanding of what Calvinism / Doctrines of grace teach.” I am certainly familiar with that statement as most who hold to it believe calvinism MUST be understood or one would be one. It can be argued that one cannot fully understand the full implications of calvinism or they would not be one.

      Unfortunately I am afraid that you are correct when you say, this issue will not be solved that easily and that is a shame… a statement I think we all could agree on.

      ><>”

  27. As affirmed by Charles Spurgeon in the nineteenth century, Calvinism is merely a “nickname” for the Gospel. The real truth is that Calvinism does not teach anything contrary to what Jesus, the Apostles, Augustine, and the Reformers taught.

    • sbcissues says:

      Bro. Dennis,

      You have hit the proverbial problem on the head with your assertion that “Calvinism is merely a “nickname” for the Gospel.”

      I do not believe that God and God alone determines who will spend eternity with Him in heaven and that He and He alone determines who will spend eternity in hell. (To say God does not determine that because men get what they deserve is a side step.)

      I believe God makes His choice with regard to our salvation based on our choice concerning His Son who gave His life on the cross so that in believing in Him we might have life through the exercise of repentance and faith in God’s promises found in His Word and in our witness and personal testimony to a lost world.

      Thanks for your comment.

      ><>”

      • Tom Shelton says:

        So how is God sovereign if he is not the end authority on the issue of salvation? If God makes his choice based on our choice then we are sovereign not God in salvation. That is synergism.

      • sbcissues says:

        Tom,

        How is God sovereign if He is not the end authority on the issue of sin?

        I suggest that He is sovereign in both circumstances in the same way; Here is My law; your choice or decision determines My response.

        As far as the issue of monergism and synergism go, is sanctification synergistic or monergistic?

        I will look forward to your answer…. or anyone else’s for that matter.

        ><>”

  28. Ken says:

    Dr Mohler, Dr Aiken, and others worked with Dr Patterson, Judge Pressler and others to win The battle of the Bible in the SBC! During that time. Others in the Reformed camp like J M Boice, J I Packer, and others were also writing on Biblical authority providing support from outside the SBC. The call for Mohler, Aiken, and Dr Rainer to step down is preposterous. The early Baptists were Calvinists and the early SBC leaders were Calvinists as in seen in the Abstract of Principles the guiding document for all teachers at the Southern Seminary, which were there from the days if Broadus Boyce!

    • sbcissues says:

      Ken,

      “The early Baptists were Calvinists and the early SBC leaders were Calvinists as in seen in the Abstract of Principles the guiding document for all teachers at the Southern Seminary, which were there from the days if Broadus Boyce!” I agree that some where but neither of us know to what extent calvinism dominated the theology in the pew back then.

      What we do know is that the overwhelming majority of people in the pew for the last 50 plus years and the people who pay the bills today in the SBC are not calvinist. They do not want to be calvinist. I maintain they do not want the entities of the SBC to be calvinist and are not aware that is becoming the case.

      So, my thinking is to lay the cards out on the table and let people KNOW what is going on and let them decide if that is what they want… if it is then so be it. If it not, then the SBC will have to deal with that.

      That is my position.

      ><>”

  29. sbcissues says:
    December 1, 2012 at 2:17 pm
    I suggest that He is sovereign in both circumstances in the same way; Here is My law; your choice or decision determines My response.

    Question if I may. Can or will the “natural man” freely without any help from God, submit himself to God,

    NASB
    1Co 2:14 But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised.

    1Co_1:18 For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

    Rom 8:7 because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so,

    Your statement seems to me to assume something that the “natural man” has no ability to do, The ability to say “YES” to God’s offer.

    As I pointed out above. it seems me that your theology assumes one of the 3 points I mentioned above.

    1) The ability of the natural man to actually WANT to say Yes to God.
    2) Some form of prevenient grace.
    3) God looks down through time to see WHO will say “yes” to God if given a chance.

    From studies of the “natural man” I see the utter impossibility of the natural man to say “Yes” to God without God first opening his mind. Which goes to God’s totally sovereignty over man’s salvation, (Irresistible Grace & Effectual Calling), or the unbiblical view of prevenient grace. or Molonism.

  30. sbcissues says:

    You asked, “Question if I may. Can or will the “natural man” freely without any help from God, submit himself to God?” Let me point to your statement… The ability to say “YES” to God’s offer.

    If God offer’s His grace to an individual, are you saying that person cannot or will not say yes unless God gives him the ability to do so?

    You did not answer my question about synergism or monergism in sanctification.

    ><>”

  31. sbcissues says:
    December 1, 2012 at 3:24 pm
    If God offer’s His grace to an individual, are you saying that person cannot or will not say yes unless God gives him the ability to do so?

    Personally. I would not assume that God offers saving grace/ to everyone who ever lived.

  32. sbcissues says:

    Personally. I would not assume that God offers saving grace/ to everyone who ever lived.

    Interesting.

    ><>”

    • I’m assuming by the removal of my answer posted twice that you’re really not interested in an answer to your question.. than why did ask?… Anyway… Not my fight. As I said: …. I’m betting that this issue will not be solved that easily…

  33. Can God’s word fail?

    Isa 46:10 Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things which have not been done, Saying, ‘My purpose will be established, And I will accomplish all My good pleasure’; Isa 14:24 The LORD of hosts has sworn saying, “Surely, just as I have intended so it has happened, and just as I have planned so it will stand, Isa 40:8 The grass withers, the flower fades, But the word of our God stands forever.

    If God wants to save Mark and God sends out his word to save Mark, can Mark cause the failure of God’s word? Is Mark’s “natural man” more powerful than the word of God?

  34. Question if I may… Is God in His divine freedom free to hate people?

    NASB
    Rom 9:12 it was said to her, “THE OLDER WILL SERVE THE YOUNGER.”
    Rom 9:13 Just as it is written, “JACOB I LOVED, BUT ESAU I HATED.”

  35. Rick says:

    That’s right! Those Calvinists just need to know their place and stay there. The last thing the SBC needs is a bunch of uppity Calvinists attempting to propagate what they believe and influence others to their opinions. It should be enough for them to happily agree among themselves and leave the established entities, which keep order to the whole community, to those who know what’s good for everyone. Never mind that there have been no unethical actions in the spread of their influence and numbers, or that it has come primarily through the simple means of Scriptural exegesis – everyone knows that this “Calvinist Revival” can’t be the result of the “Conservative Resurgence” which helped to reestablish the authority of Scripture to its rightful position of supremacy in the doctrine and life of the church. Why doesn’t God intervene and set his church right? People arise!

  36. Tom Shelton says:

    sbcissues,

    You said “As far as the issue of monergism and synergism go, is sanctification synergistic or monergistic?”

    You seem to be equating the doctrine of salvation with the doctrine of sanctification. If I am wrong I apologize. If God is sovereign then he is sovereign in all things including both salvation and sanctification. This does not mean that our choices are invalid. Our choices are real choices but the difference is that in salvation, as Robert has point out, the “natural man” is not able to choose God until God first does a work in his life.

    If God has to wait to see what a person will choose, then respond to that choice, then how can he be sovereign?

    • sbcissues says:

      Salvation is justification, sanctification and glorification… all three aspects are included in salvation. This is why I will try to speak about conversion as opposed to salvation when I am talking about passing from death unto life.

      You are in essence saying that God is not sovereign in our choices in sanctification and most certainly our choice to sin, both before and after conversion and that God is sovereign over 1 decision in the life of the elect… and NO CHOICES in the life of the non-elect… is that an accurate statement?

      ><>”

      • Tom Shelton says:

        no, it is not an accurate statement….God is sovereign over the sheep and the goats because he created them both

      • Tom Shelton says:

        I agree that salvation is justification, sanctification, and glorification and all three are things that only God can do…there is no choice for a man to make in any of them.

        Justification is a legal declaration that a man is not guilty. No man can choose to justify himself. Sanctification (as it relates to salvation) is God setting apart someone for a purpose. No man can choose to set himself apart for God’s purpose. Glorification happens only as a man steps into eternity and God brings him into heaven. No man can choose to glorify himself. All three aspects of salvation you mention are things only God can do. No choice a man makes brings them about.

        There is one aspect of sanctification that allows believers to make choices and that is when they choose to obey Christ’s commandments and thus become more Christ-like. Believers can choose to obey or disobey but they only have that ability after God gives it to them once they have been saved.

  37. sbcissues says:
    December 1, 2012 at 4:20 pm
    I did not remove YOUR answer… I did not approve your copied answer from someone else.

    ANSWER:
    I agreed with what J.I. Paker said while giving proper credit. So I see no reason for you to reject it… It was an perfectly good answer to your question (You did not answer my question about synergism or monergism in sanctification.). shame that you rejected a perfectly good answer to your question.. Bye….

  38. Russ Allsup says:

    Regardless of one’s opinion regarding the ascendance of Calvinism in the SBC, the problems with Hadley’s position (outlined in his November 30th 2012 blog post) lie in both its form and substance. His argument accuses the SBC Calvinists of militant proselytization with the intention of disrupting the unity of the SBC.

    However, if one were to outline the assumptions that underlie this diagnosis then one could expose the fallacies of his arguments. These assumptions may appeal to a certain base, but their rationale rests upon the preference of Hadley and the adherents of his position rather than any apodictic ground.

    Assumption 1:
    Hadley assumes that the proselytization of certain theological positions without an official, public decree of such intentional proselytization is taboo.

    The Fault Underlying Assumption 1:
    This assumption rests upon the tautology fallacy. There is no binding agreement among the SBC member churches (The Baptist Faith and Message, The SBC Constitution and By-­‐Laws, etc.) that require adherents of differing theological persuasions to announce their proselytizing intent when the subject matter in question lies within the theological range of the SBC. The latitude of the Baptist Faith and Message provides theological room for Calvinism and does not prohibit its proselytization.

    Assumption 2:
    Hadley adopts the axiom that proselytization equates to a declaration of war.

    The Fault Underlying Assumption 2:
    Hadley’s “Open Letter” accuses the opposition of bellicose intentions. This accusation reveals a non sequitur that the active presentation of one’s theological position equates with inciting division. Ironically, the tenor of his analysis invokes the reader as a call-­‐to-­‐arms rather than an invitation to polite theological discourse, thereby betraying any conciliatory aim that such an invitation should imply.

    Assumption 3:
    Hadley assumes the that the Semi-­‐Pelagian bent of the SBC that has been characteristic of the majority of its member churches for the last few decades (and, consequently, still may be predominant) stands as an infallible principle that binds the churches of the SBC.

    The Fault Underlying Assumption 3:
    The structure of the SBC provides the arena for theological development. After all, the SBC is not a monolithic, magisterium. The ascendance of Calvinism in the SBC reflects more the tenor of theological deepening as opposed to the antidisestablishmentarianism that Hadley claims that the SBC Calvinists seek.

    Conclusion:
    The remainder of Hadley’s assertions displays sophomoric reactionism than sound, rational thought. Also, his use of the argumentum ad consequentiam fallacy nullifies his denouncement of Calvinism. Sadly, Hadley arguments lack both substance and relevance and would serve better as comedic satire than meaty discourse.

    Russ
    Deacon
    Heritage Baptist Church, Shreveport, LA

  39. Rudy Flores says:

    What a weak and sad letter, come out of your bunker and debate and discuss this issue with Dr. James White, Al Mohler John MacArthur, Phil Johnson, D.A. Carson,John Piper.. Mr. White has said he would discuss this issue anywhere and anytime. Everything I have heard from a non- Calvinist is very shallow,like Spurgeon said “Down Grade”. Instead of having a private meeting, bring it out and debate it and prove your point with Scripture. I will be praying Rudy.

  40. PAUL W FOLTZ DD says:

    THE SBC ORIGINALLY BELIEVED IN THE DOCTRINES OF GRACE AND LEFT THERE THRU EY MULLINS. IF IT DOES NOT RETURN, IT IS THE DIVISIVE ONE, WATERING DOWN THE GOSPEL AND FOLLOWING THE MYTH OF FREE WILL IN THE PLACE OF FREE GRACE

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  45. gracealone1 says:

    If I had not read your “open letter” for myself I would be hard-pressed to believe that such vile wickedness could actually procede from the pen of one who claims to be a child of God. To be fair, I must confess that disgust overwhelmed me and I did not read the complete diatribe. Did you recant and repent in the final few words? I guess not. Being dead wrong on all the things spoken of here must be hard work. It’s bad enough that you don’t even understand the Gospel and all the glory that is due unto the Lord Jesus for what He has done, but you compound your error by lying about the men who are trying to recover what was lost (stolen by the Arminian crowd).

    It’s bad enough that you preach another gospel, but now you would require those who believe the truth to dilute to impotency the real Gospel. The facade of righteousness that you hide behind is breaking apart and the real darkness showing. For those of us who know that if it were not for the sovereign choice of the Father in selecting us to be saved that we would forever be lost. Now you want to change all of that by injecting the fantasy that a man may choose or not to be “saved”. So whose will is supreme? Your’s or God’s? According to you, you are the sovereign of the universe and most especially when it comes to your eternal destiny Perhaps a quick review of Isaiah 14 would shed some light on the mindset of the Father in regards to such pride.

    You need to be reminded that Gal. 1:6-9 is speaking specifically of you and those who preach as you do. It also should be noted that the Holy Spirit condemns the messenger, not the message. Since you know the truth concerning election and have refused it and rebeled against it, perhaps now would be a good time to seek forgiveness by repenting of this wickedness. There is no place for the will of man in the saving of his soul. You know John 1:13 and have chosen to ignore it. You also know Eph. 2:8&9 and have likewise chosen to ignore it. If, as you assert, a man can be saved by choosing to be so by an act of his will, then that man has no need of grace. Have you no need of grace Mr. sbcissues?

    • sbcissues says:

      Well… may I also respond by using your own words, “If I had not read your “comment” for myself I would be hard-pressed to believe that such vile wickedness could actually procede from the pen of one who claims to be a child of God.”

      Consider WHAT you wrote,,, “Being dead wrong on all the things spoken of here must be hard work. It’s bad enough that you don’t even understand the Gospel…” Nice touch from one who admits that you did not even bother reading the whole piece. If you had, you would have not been able to make some of the outlandish statements that you made… I do not understand the gospel… what a perceptive statement since my article dealt with the issues of the entities of the SBC and the direction they are now headed in.

      Now as to your own claim… you echo perfectly my objection to all this. Look at WHAT YOU WROTE… you compound your error by lying about the men who are trying to recover what was lost (stolen by the Arminian crowd). I get it. These men are trying to recover what was lost so let me ask you a question… where have I missed the boat in my article here… seems to me you are confirming the very thing that I am charging but somehow I am amiss? Oh… I see the difference… the Arminiains sometime in the past… which had absolutely nothing to do with me or the SBC today… STOLE the entities. I maintain God must have ordained it or else it would not have happened. I do not want the SBC to go back to any Calvinistic foundation if that ever was indeed the case.

      Here is another confirmation… you wrote, “It’s bad enough that you preach another gospel, but now you would require those who believe the truth to dilute to impotency the real Gospel.” Imagine that… me welcoming your tribe with open arms… and accepting your theologically intellectual superiority… which I maintain is more prevalent than most want to admit in the radical calvinist camp… I have LONG maintained that Calvinists do not like my position any more than I like theirs… so I appreciate your clearing up that little issue.

      One more comment… For those of us who know that if it were not for the sovereign choice of the Father in selecting us to be saved that we would forever be lost. Now you want to change all of that by injecting the fantasy that a man may choose or not to be “saved”. I would say that sort of sums up the issue… what an interesting perspective that the “us” that you calvinists always use ALWAYS includes the person who is making those claims… I believe the overwhelming majority of Southern Baptists will dismiss your statement and declare God saves the “whosoever wills” that come to Him and those are not just the ones God decides who do and do not come.

      So let me ask you a question… are you saying that one of us is preaching “another gospel” and Paul is saying of one of us, “let him be accursed”? IS that what you are indeed saying? It sure seems like that is what you are saying, although you obviously have charged that you are positive of which one of us fits that bill for you stated, “speaking specifically of you and those who preach as you do. It also should be noted that the Holy Spirit condemns the messenger, not the message.”

      Please sign in and let everyone know WHO you are… so I can give you credit for affirming what I believe to be the real problem of this whole issue and its infiltration of the entities of the SBC. I really do appreciate your contribution and affirmation of my position all along.

      ><>” Bob Hadley, SBC ISSUES

      • gracealone1 says:

        Thanks for proving my points-all of them. The wickedness is greater than I imagined. And, Mr. Bob Hadley, it is you who preaches another gospel, it is you who has rejected the clear Word of God, it is you that demand that I and others like me capitulate to your ungodly doctrines and demands. It is clear in the Word of God that I am to have no fellowship with those who walk in darkness, such as yourself. To be plain, the doctrines that you teach are HERESY. You have condemned yourself by refusing to bow your knee to the Almighty Sovereign God. It would be good if you were to repent of this evil, but even that is a gift from God. Or do you have the inate ability to repent as you claim to have to believe?

        It is clear that you have no answer for the last question I posed to you, so I will ask again: HAVE YOU NO NEED OF GRACE, MR. SBCISSUES? It is interesting and quit a “tell” that you have no answer.

        As per Eph. 5:11, Lord, glorify your Name and expose the evil.

        Darrel

  46. sbcissues says:

    Darryl B.,

    So let me make sure I am reading you correctly… you wrote… “You have condemned yourself by refusing to bow your knee to the Almighty Sovereign God. It would be good if you were to repent of this evil, but even that is a gift from God. Or do you have the inate ability to repent as you claim to have to believe?”

    So am I understanding you correctly… I CANNOT repent UNLESS God gives me the gift of repentance? If that is the case, is it fair to conclude that you are where you are because God has given you YOUR perspective and I am where I am because God either has given me my perspective or has not given me the glorious light that He has given to you?

    In response to your question, Trust me, without ANY doubt I am a work of God’s grace. I have been forgiven of my sins not because I deserved it for my sins are MANY… but because God sent His Son to pay the penalty for my sin and I heard the glorious gospel message and the Holy Spirit pricked my heart and convicted me of my sin and in an attitude of repentance, I cried out to God for forgiveness and He graciously saved me and His grace has sustained me and will take me to heaven to that place that Jesus has prepared for me.

    One thing is crystal clear. You and I may BOTH be wrong but we cannot BOTH be right. That much I do agree with.

    I have no idea HOW or WHY I messed up your bowl of Cheerios this morning but I would suggest that get you some help before you blow a fuse or something. I have had some pretty vicious responses in the last 18 months or so but I am not sure any have been as vicious as yours have been and that sir, is saying something. Might ease up on the cajun cookin. I think the hot sauce has gone to your brain.

    ><>”

    • Max says:

      Lord Jesus, Bob! Is this what is in store under the future SBC big tent where all Southern Baptists will be called to a new level of tolerance for those of un-like mind? When will this madness stop?!

      • sbcissues says:

        Good Question.

        Lot of unstable rumblings taking place but a lot of folks are trying to act as if it is no big deal. It is a BIG DEAL on BOTH SIDES.

        ><>”

      • Les Prouty says:

        Max, I have commented on the most recent post about this. I said to Bob,

        “You know that you and I differ as really polar opposites on the doctrines of grace…TULIP. However, I regard you as a brother and surely not a heretic. I’m as Reformed as one can get. You are not. But you are my brother.”

        But, to be fair, there have some very vile comments from a few non-Calvinists as well directed to Calvinists. There is plenty of blame to go around on both sides of this debate brother.

        Les

      • these two soteriologies are polars apart and therefore both cannot be true. It was the determination at the Synod of Dort that the Remonstrants beliefs were heretical and another gospel. I’ll hold to that. while I hold that some in semi-pelagian and arminian churches are amongst God’s elect, those who openly and fiercely fight against these biblical truths I cannot, nor am I biblically permitted to call them “brethren.” they are blights on our love feasts.
        I come out of arminianism and pietistic movement church and I know the bondage of your false gospel, your anathema’d gospel. I will continue to warn against this other gospel as long as I have breath and the Lord gives me strength.

      • sbcissues says:

        Nancy,

        So, the Synod of Dort decided what is and is not heretical… is that what I am understanding you to say and that is the basis for your dogmatic position? In all fairness, would that not be like asking the Founders Ministries to listen to both sides and render a decision?

        I am glad that the calvinists are coming out with what I have maintained is the truth; that non-calvinists are not preaching the same gospel the calvinists are and that we are heretics and what we preach is “a false gospel, an anathema’d gospel.”

        It is a good thing that you will acknowledge that there are some Semi-P’s and arminians that are the “elect”, for you said you were once one of em… so you were saved as a non-calvinist and then became one later huh?

        Wow.. I am a “blight on Nancy’s love feasts” whatever that means.

        People in the SBC, you had better wake up and wake up NOW.

        ><>”

      • Shane Dodson says:

        “People in the SBC, you had better wake up and wake up NOW.”

        Wake up to what, exactly?

        That some folks look at people who disagree with them as heretics? And this is exclusive to Calvinists?

        Wake up, yourself.

    • Ken Qualls says:

      Wow! it seems like someone is headed for a stroke or a breakdown. My parents always taought me to not hide behind anomymity especially if I have something critical to say to or about someone. A teacher once told our class “When giving a speech if you have nothing to say or don’t know what you are talking about bang the podium and scream.”
      Through the years I have found that those who are the most insecure in their beliefs are the loudest and most vitriolic. God Bless you and keep up the good work.

      • sbcissues says:

        Ken,

        Well…. thanks for the contribution to the conversation… for the record… I am not hiding behind any anonymity here… Most people know who I am and the letter referrenced in this blog was sent to the members of the committee and it was signed, I assure you and my name is listed in the thread… believe me… there is no insecurity in my make-up but thanks for the blessing. Same to you.

        ><>”

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  48. Shane Dodson says:

    My favorite quote…

    “So am I understanding you correctly… I CANNOT repent UNLESS God gives me the gift of repentance? If that is the case, is it fair to conclude that you are where you are because God has given you YOUR perspective and I am where I am because God either has given me my perspective or has not given me the glorious light that He has given to you.”

    I assume you would claim yourself to be saved. So what of the person who heard the same Gospel you heard, and yet is now lost?

    The difference must be something YOU did and the lost person did not. What is so special about you that you grasped something the lost man didn’t? What is so special about you that you saw something that the lost man didn’t?

    You believe–after all–it IS something you did. You must fancy yourself pretty special, no?

    • sbcissues says:

      Shane,

      Could the same analogy not be made for your position if someone wanted to stoop so low to do so: Consider the following:

      So what of the person who heard the same Gospel you heard, and yet is now lost?

      The difference must be something God did for YOU that He did NOT Do for the lost person. What is so special about you that God grasped you but He did not do the same for the lost man? What is so special about you that God saw something in you that He did not see in the lost man?

      You believe–after all–it IS something special that God did for you that HE did not do for the unregenerate. You must fancy yourself pretty special, no?

      While both are equally applicable, neither makes much of a case and would be as I see it pitifully offered.

      I am saved because of what Christ did for me at Calvary. Period. I could not do anything to save myself; God did it through His Son’s sacrificial death on the cross at Calvary. The provisions for my salvation were secured at Calvary; they were appropriated when by faith, believing that God is everything HE says He and and He will do everything He says He will do, I was convicted of my sin by the Holy Spirit… and in a willful act of repentance I turned from my sin to Jesus and I cried out to God for His forgiveness and He did what He promised He would do; He forgave me and made me part of His forever family.

      I am sorry but I do not believe God requires faith for me to be saved knowing that HE is the One who gives one faith in the first place. I do not believe the Bible teaches that God and God alone determines who becomes His child and gets to spend eternity in heaven with Him and by default… is the Sole decider on who dies without Christ and goes to hell.

      I am NOT ALONE. I do not want that theological position being the dominating position of influence in the entities of the SBC… I don’t. That is my right and it is my right to voice my disapproval of the steps that some have taken to make this the theological flavor of the entities today.

      I understand that you and others do not like my position any more than I like yours. So… it is time for the people in the pew to decide this issue and put some resolution to the issue because resolution is coming. It is not will it come but rather WHEN will it come. I believe sooner is much better than later.

      I am NOT trying to be hateful about it. This is a very difficult issue and it has been positioned in such a way in the entities that there is now no other alternative but for the people in the SBC to decide what direction they want to go.

      To be or not to be calvinist; that is now the choice that WILL BE MADE by someone. The question is who will be the ones to make that choice and determine the direction of the SBC of tomorrow.

      ><>”

      • DBuz says:

        sbcissues said:
        “I do not believe that God and God alone determines who will spend eternity with Him in heaven and that He and He alone determines who will spend eternity in hell.”

        My response to this statement can only be:
        “What then shall we say? Is God unjust? Not at all! For he says to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion..” IT DOES NOT, THEREFORE, DEPEND ON MAN’S DESIRE OR EFFORT, BUT ON GOD’S MERCY. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh: “I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you an that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden.” One of you will say to me: “Then why does God still blame us? For who resists his will?” But who are you, O man, to talk back to God? “Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?” Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for noble purposes and some for common use? What if God, CHOOSING (hard word, I know…), to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath–PREPARED FOR DESTRUCTION (oops….God choosing again)? What if he did this to make the riches of his glory known to the OBJECTS OF HIS MERCY WHOM HE HAD PREPARED IN ADVANCE FOR GLORY-even us, whom HE CALLED, not only from Jews but also for the Gentiles? Rom 9:14-24

        So, that is the age old problem..even in Pauls day…. Men trying to be on the throne that only God can occupy….Still alive an well in the good ‘ole SBC.
        Remember Brother…you could not grab that life preserver…you were dead in your trespasses. God loved first …when ‘no one sought God, no not one..and no one did good, not one.” Any other Gospel…is no Gospel. And it is so humbling.

        Soli deo gloria,
        D

      • sbcissues says:

        DBuz,

        I appreciate your input. I will reiterate my position “I do not believe that God and God alone determines who will spend eternity with Him in heaven and that He and He alone determines who will spend eternity in hell.”

        I believe He sent His Son into the world that whosoever would believe in Him would not perish but have everlasting life. God’s choice with respect to my eternal destiny is based on my choice with respect to Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross on my behalf.

        You closed with the following statement: Remember “Brother…you could not grab that life preserver…you were dead in your trespasses. God loved first …when ‘no one sought God, no not one..and no one did good, not one.” Any other Gospel…is no Gospel. And it is so humbling.”

        Once again, I appreciate your honesty and willingness to say what others have refused to say… that you and others believe Calvinism is the gospel and that any other gospel is no gospel. Anything other than calvinism is a false gospel.

        ><>”

      • DBuz says:

        sbcissues says:
        “Once again, I appreciate your honesty and willingness to say what others have refused to say… that you and others believe Calvinism is the gospel and that any other gospel is no gospel. Anything other than calvinism is a false gospel.”

        I don’t think I put anything in my reply that had the word calvinism in it…in fact I hate labels. I am just a Christian that believes the word of God without trying to twist it around to make me feel better. There are a lot of hard teachings in scripture, but God doesn’t give us the privilege to pick and choose which ones to believe. The main thing in my reply was scripture alone. It is with that scripture that you disagree with…not me. The scripture is plain and direct…I didn’t author it. Your argument is with God…and the counsel of his will.

        Your reply did not address the scripture in my post at all. It seems to me that you, as with many others, refuse to deal with this text. If this scripture means something other than what it clearly states, please exeget the text and share what you think it says. Please tell me how it can mean something different…verse by verse.

        “Predestinating grace’ is ‘high doctrine’, ‘whosoever will may come’ is broad. ‘These are two great truths; let us carry them both with us, and they will balance each other…The business of removing religious difficulties is the least remunerative labour under heaven. The truest way is the accept the difficulty whereever you find it in God’s word, and to exercise your faith upon it…They are equally precious portions of one harmonious whole. Let us not quibble over them, or indulge a foolish favouritism for one and a prejudice against the other; but let us receive both with a candid, large-hearted love of the truth, such as the children of God should exhibit….Talking of the mystery of the relation between man’s responsibility and the will of God, John Duncan, one of the wisest theologians of the nineteenth century, said: ‘That God works half, and man the other half, is false; that God works all, and man does all, is true.’ As he says, both Arminianism and Hyper-Calvinism fail to recognize this.”
        Spurgeon

        Blessings,
        D

  49. Shane Dodson says:

    “Could the same analogy not be made for your position if someone wanted to stoop so low to do so: Consider the following:”

    No. Actually, it couldn’t be made because I don’t believe that I did anything to secure my salvation. There IS a difference between you who heard the Gospel and received it and the lost man who heard the Gospel and rejected it. YOU did something the lost man did not. YOU did it. It was YOUR doing. So…my question goes back to you…what is so special about you and/or your reasoning? Are you smarter than the lost man? Are you wiser? Do you possess some sort of special insight that the lost man doesn’t have?

    Do tell!

    “You believe–after all–it IS something special that God did for you that HE did not do for the unregenerate. You must fancy yourself pretty special, no?”

    How does one (I’m pretty speical!) follow from the other (Jesus is my propitiation/substitute)? It will take more than you asserting they’re the same. You need to actually BUILD an argument there.
    I see no argument…only an assertion.

    You see, you cannot simply “turn it around” since I don’t hold to your premise: God doesn’t ulimately choose who will be saved. Since–in your paradigm–God doesn’t ultimately choose who will be saved, the person DOES.

    So…what’s so special about you?

  50. Troy Shaw says:

    This is exactly why I do not belong to the Baptist denomination anymore. It has become more concerned with legalism and calvanism than what we are commanded by Jesus to do, spread the Gospel. Matthew 20:18-20 says, “And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” Where does it say to teach only the chosen ones? It says “ALL NATIONS” not “all elect nations.”

    When I picked up the paper today to read the obituaries, my first concern was if the persons listed had a right relationship with Jesus Christ, not if they were of the elect. We do not turn our backs on sinners, as one person here alluded to by saying to avoid the evil ones, we actually are supposed to embrace them according to Jesus. Who did Jesus associate with? Who was it He hung around that caused the Pharisees to condemn Him? I think we should all go back to the absolute basic of what God is, He is love. I am sorry but I do not see love emitting from any of these comments. Jesus told us the most important commandments are to LOVE God with everything we are (an action verb pointing to something WE have to do) and also to LOVE our neighbor as we do ourselves (another action verb pointed at US.) People, while we sit and waste our time worrying about this legalistic issues, people are dying and going to hell everyday because they have never had the Gospel shared with them.

    The text below I pulled from John in the King James Version of the Bible.Jesus is talking to Nicodemus because Nicodemus is confused about the whole reborn thing. I do not see anywhere that Jesus tells Nicodemus not to worry about a thing because God is soveriegn and you (Nicodemus) cannot do anything to be reborn. It is wuite the opposite all through-out the passage speaking of man turning to darkness rather than light. Jesus is pretty clear here that we are all born in the flesh and remain in the flesh until the day we are re-born into the Spirit. It does not speak of election. So I guess if I am not of the elect then I may as well take a black marker and cross throught the verse in 3:16 because it does not apply to any but the elect.

    John 3:1 There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: 2 The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him. 3 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. 4 Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born? 5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. 8 The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit. 9 Nicodemus answered and said unto him, How can these things be? 10 Jesus answered and said unto him, Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things? 11 Verily, verily, I say unto thee, We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness. 12 If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things? 13 And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven. 14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: 15 That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. 16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. 17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. 18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. 19 And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. 20 For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. 21 But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.

  51. sbcissues says:

    Troy,

    You wrote, “It has become more concerned with legalism and calvanism than what we are commanded by Jesus to do, spread the Gospel.”

    In some respects you are correct; in looking at this issue and there are others, one could certainly draw the conclusion you have voiced. No one on either side of this issue is really guilty of making calvinism more important than telling others about Jesus. At issue is what does telling others about Jesus involve; exactly what is this gospel? Calvinism posits a very narrow view of what the gospel is and what the gospel accomplishes and for whom.

    One of the more difficult aspects of community is establishing the rules. A denomination is a community and if you are going to have entities that educate the people and you are going to have entities that send missionaries around the world then there is the necessary task of doing the work that needs to be done to maintain the integrity of the community. That is the issue here.

    There is an age old axiom that says, “If you do not inspect it, do not expect it.” It is true in business and it is most definitely true in ministry. No one likes conflict but the truth is, the only place there is no conflict is where absolutely nothing is happening. Conflict is actually a sign of life, which is a good thing.

    ><>”

  52. The writer of this post is a coward. If you have the courage to disavow and imply a whole tradition of theology wrong, by gosh you should have the courage to sign your name to a letter.

  53. sbcissues says:

    About Austin DeArmond: “Well, I’m 22 years old and a graduate of Southeastern Bible College. I have been, by the grace of God, a disciple of Jesus for about 7 years now and am hopefully growing to be more like Him.”

    Please. My son is older than you are. I have already taken the cowardly step… guess you did not bother reading the comment section.

    I guess when you have nothing to say about the message you just take shots at the messenger. I think I will call it a night.

    ><>” Bob Hadley

    • I began the laborious process of reading the comment section after reading the initial anonymous post. My apologies for the mistake. However, it is encouraging to me that the SBC’s future will be in the hands of my generation which is the product of both the Conservative and Calvinist resurgence. This type of rhetoric and blogpost will blow away like chaff as future young Southern Baptists continue to go ahead working with God proclaimationing his glory to the nations. Best wishes to you Bob.

    • sbcissues says:

      Austin,

      Just out of curiosity, how exactly do you see yourself and your generation as being “a product of the Conservative and Calvinist Resurgence?”

      You also state that you and the future young Southern Baptists will continue to go ahead “working with God proclamationing (don’t think I have ever seen that term used) His glory to the nations.

      Could you explain what you mean by that statement? Do you see this move as a new direction and a new day for Southern Baptists and the world?

      ><>”

  54. ric peters says:

    If you do not believe in the total fall of Adam as taught in scripture ,then no other doctrine of the sovereignty of GOD will make sense .This is where even modern day Calvinist depart from scripture.The question is ,do Southern Baptist ,whether Calvinist or not ,believe in the total fall.I did not call it total depravity ,because the total fall explains that.i would welcome those who believe freewill to produce their arguments from scripture, an accurate version, not one of the many that are used which play down the I AM of scripture.send any comments to my email

    • sbcissues says:

      Can you elaborate a little on just exactly what you refer to as “the total fall”? I am not familiar with that particular phrase as a system of thought.

      ><>”

      • ric peters says:

        We fell in Adam ,he was our representative head,if you will notice, it was not till Adam ate the fruit that their eyes were opened.Man is complete ,with all the faculties of the soul, when he bowed to self will then the will ,mind ,heart, because heart means the inner most or center, and all his faculties were corrupted and the seed of the evil one was in him and us all.All men have a common father which is Satan. Adam chose the god of this world and we did so in him,all our faculties are corrupted by sin ,Satan is our father and we are natural born lyers because Christ the truth is not in us. Preach that in southern baptist and see what a commotion that truth will cause , not suggesting a deliberate unsettling,but those truths when expounded have a tendency to cause natural man to be uncomfortable, it certainly did to me.How could our wills be free if all our faculties including the will are corrupt?We still have all our faculties and are under Gods just demands even though without Christ we can not obey, but just because we are unable ,our own sin being the cause ,does not exclude God right as our sovereign to demand a perfect obedience.God says I AM the LORD thy GOD thou means you and me.he is our god whether we recognize it or not.Some including me, in the past thought if i do not believe in god he will go away.the law scared me ,but when i realize this was the mirror that i was to see myself and i knew how sever it was and i was under the curse of God,he began to show me my need of Christ and his absolute perfection And gave me eyes to look unto him and be saved,that is all i know .i am willing to be taught so do not take offense to any thing i said ,becaus it was not said in an ill spirit.i would mmappreciate your response and corresponce sovereign spirit.

  55. ric peters says:

    If Christ came to set at liberty the captives ,that suggest bondage,bondage to what ,slavery to sin and willing at that.So where is freewill, it is deliberate blindness and natural blindness.I grew up believing freewill, but now i see that teaching to be opposed to gods truth.

  56. DBuz says:

    I’m still waiting for Bob to give an exegesis of Romans 9:14-24 :-[ …

    • sbcissues says:

      What is the context of this passage? Who is Paul speaking to and what is the issue he is addressing?

      ><>”

      (hint: Jews and the inclusion of Gentiles. Pay particular attention to verses 32 and 33.)

  57. ric peters says:

    Concerning the total fall, in Adam all die,the soul that sinneth it shall die,if we are dead without Christ, who is life, how can we being dead do things pertaining to spiritual life, which an act of the will is do anything toward God?Can theses bones live?Lord thou knowest, come oh breath.That is how God finds us,DEAD. SBC should not have a problem with biblical truth.and treading so lightly when they have the warrent of truth suggest fear.

  58. Rev. Anthony Harper, Ph.D. says:

    The issue should not be Calvinism or non Calvinism or other isms, but of being obedient to JESUS. We need to be more grounded in GOD’s Word instead of man’s word. Let us share the truth in love.

    • sbcissues says:

      Dr. Harper,

      While the issue of calvinism is exactly that, an issue, the problem this post addresses is the infiltration of the entities and the level of influence calvinists control in those entities. That is a very real issue.

      Happy New Year and thanks for stopping by.

      ><>”

  59. DBuz says:

    SBC Pew says:
    ” I have also become upset that I have spent decades faithfully attending Southern Baptist churches and have –through teaching and preaching and Sunday School material– been kept completely ignorant of things clearly in Scripture, which I would not have recognized if I had not read them myself and had God not opened my eyes to see such things in His Holy Word.

    That causes me wonder if this dust-up of fear of “Calvinists” (I prefer to be labelled a “Biblicist”) is wrongly focused. We should pull out our Bibles, earnestly ask the Lord God for wisdom, and pursue the truth of His written Word and follow in obedience wherever that leads. While we are st it, we should shine the light on the so-called Traditionalist group and examine them to determine if perhaps they have failed to expose the people of the SBC to the whole counsel of God. A fair debate between the two opposing positions should allow us in the pews to see that more clearly, if we have our Bibles open and investigate to see whether what is and is not said is true.”

    I could not agree with you more. This has been my experience as well. And as you can see from my post on December 14, I asked Mr. Hadley to please exegit Romans 9:14-24 verse by verse and please tell me how it can mean something other than what it clearly states. Of course, I was given a vague non-descript answer that answered with a question to me. People simply refuse to deal with the hard passages of scripture because man seems tends to think God doesn’t do things ‘according to the pleasure of his own will’. I spent my whole life in churches that avoided the hard passages and it made me angry too. This thread is just another example of that.

  60. sbcissues says:

    DBuz

    You wrote, “And as you can see from my post on December 14, I asked Mr. Hadley to please exegit Romans 9:14-24 verse by verse and please tell me how it can mean something other than what it clearly states. Of course, I was given a vague non-descript answer that answered with a question to me. People simply refuse to deal with the hard passages of scripture because man seems tends to think God doesn’t do things ‘according to the pleasure of his own will’.”

    I asked you how the passages you asked about were related specifically with a couple simple questions… What is the context of this passage? Who is Paul speaking to and what is the issue he is addressing? You did not give an answer so I guess it could be said that we are both being equally evasive.

    I have about 50 pages of notes on Romans 9-10… you see 9:14-24 are contextually related to the 13 verses preceding them as well as the verses that come after them.

    I actually have written on these verses but am not finding my work but will continue to look.

    You can always give us YOUR take… please don’t just cut and paste Piper or someone else on these passages… we can all google him. Your own exegete will be welcomed. I can assure you I am not intimidated by your question nor am I worried that these 10 verses will cause my theological position to come crumbling down. I am well beyond that worry.

    ><>”

    • DBuz says:

      Mr. Hadley, I did not cut and paste Piper or anyone else on these passages. Maybe that was someone else. I did add a quote by Spurgeon on the whole hyper-calvinism issue. My ‘take’ is only on the SCRIPTURE that I posted, of which you choose to not respond to. I posted those because your whole issue with ‘calvinists’ seems to be regarding the issue of election and predestination. I simply posted scripture that deals with that issue…and there are many other scriptures that do not contradict that scripture passage in its complete context, but further assert God’s election and predestination. I simply asked you to explain how those scriptures could mean something other than what they clear state…It is your quarrel you have with these scriptures. You began this thread..Responding to my question with a question is being evasive. I think the scriptures clearly speak for themselves..any other meaning that you assert..you must first INSERT.

  61. sbcissues says:

    Dbuz,

    I have a problem with Calvinism as an ism. I do not believe it to be Scriptural… my REAL problem in this thread has nothing to do with Romans 9… but with the influence of calvinism in the entities of the SBC and the consequences of that reach in the churches. This is a move that has been taken by certain individuals to gain control of the entities which is already being felt in churches.

    You simply quoted the passage; you did not expound the text nor did you bother to comment on the context of the text you quoted. I am sure you understand that there are different interpretations of the Romans 9 passage related to the relevance that you suggest.

    You are correct; this is my thread.

    Thank you for your response.

    ><>”

    • ric peters says:

      i have a question to ask the opponents of GODS sovereignty in salvation, is GODS will supreme or mans?If man is dead in trespasses and sin, blind ,impotent with a desperately wicked heart, how can he ,without any spiritual sense respond unto that which is spiritual?THE CARNAL MIND IS ENMITY, OR HOSTILE TO GOD.Those questions come from scripture, not from Calvins institutes, though those questions are certainly answered there.Freewill is a man centered and flesh pleasing doctrine. Sometimes it is hard to believe those who support freewill have actually seen the plaque of their heart.

      • DBuz says:

        Ric, that is exactly why I posted the scriptures I did. To deal with them accurately is to finally admit that God is on the throne in every aspect even when it violates what man feels is ‘fair’.

      • ric peters says:

        john 10 is about the good Shepard and His sheep. Do people come into the world goats and then become sheep at conversion?.Christ said he knew his sheep and called them by name.isa.53 says all we like sheep have gone astray.. But who is he referring to in the context?verse 11 has the answer.I read a comment on this site ,someone said ,what makes someone differ when two hear the same gospel message?well ,do you think like Charles Finney that Gods hands are tied and its up to you?i dont understand the difference between freewill baptist and missionary baptist, they both believe salvation has something to do with them,how could you be eternally secure .knowing that salvation hinged on your corrupt will?i am asking these questions ,because i grew up freewill baptist,but the intervention of god in my life came when i was in rebellion, im trying to see if this came about because i chose or God had mercy.I can honestly say had God not sought me i would have never sought him

      • ric peters says:

        I wanted to thank Bob Hadley for his treatise of john 10.i dont think it is a question of whether faith produces obedience but where faith itself originates. Jesus is the author and finisher of faith.Faith worketh by love, and the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given. Adoption must come before faith, or am i out in left field here?Since the debate in the SBC is over Gods absolute sovereignty and mans responsibility, i put forth those questions.

      • sbcissues says:

        Ric,

        I think you are correct; the question is where faith itself originates. Calvinists contend faith originates with God. Those who are saved are saved because God has given them the faith they need to repent and be saved. Faith is a gift from God and if God does not do this gracious work of faith in an individual, he will not be saved. God chooses who will and will not be saved and adopted into His forever family.

        I believe God through His Word and the willing sacrifice of His Son on the cross and the convicting work of the Holy Spirit, men are drawn to the saving work of the Father and upon the demonstration of faith in their own hearts and repentance, lost men are THEN saved. I do not believe God requires faith to be saved with the understanding that He is the One who gives the faith…

        God gave His Son so that we might believe in Him and BE saved… not so that He might give us the ability to believe and be saved.

        Here is a question I am giving some serious thought to…

        How can a covenant be monergistic? A covenant has an initiator and one who keeps the conditions of the covenant set forth by the initiator. It seems to me a covenant is clearly synergistic by definition… because a covenant that is monergistic is not a covenant at all; it is a command and not a covenant. Does this make sense?

        ><>”

      • DBuz says:

        Ephesians 2 states: 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast.

        And before that in verse 1 it states: And you HE MADE ALIVE, who were dead in trespasses and sins,..
        And verse 4: But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved)

        So it seems to me that God grants the faith; God makes you alive when you were dead (UNRESPONSIVE DEAD) and it is not of any works that you do…it is by grace alone. To say that Dead men muster up enough faith to be saved seems to me to be salvation by works.

      • ric peters says:

        I have struggled for some time with the issue of faith.The puritans wrote on the difficulty of faith, Thomas Goodwin, Arthur Pink also addressed this vital issue.Those who contend for freewill and faith being with us,will be hard pressed if god truly convicts them of sin and shuts them up to faith to muster that from their wills they are unable to do.I still wrestle with assurance and it is unsettling to see some many make light of true salvation which i believe to be difficult and very rare

  62. ric peters says:

    thanks debuz, the questions posed by the opponents of grace will find scripture stacked against them.So the debates going on in the SBC should rest entirely on GODS word and not mans. thanks again

  63. sbcissues says:

    Here is an excerpt of an article I have written that includes a comment on Ephesians 2

    Ephesians 2:1-10
    To be “dead – spiritually is defined as being a living corpse: without God’s Spirit in the soul; so unable to think, will, or do anything that is holy.” This idea of being dead spiritually and the inability of a lost individual to think, will, or do anything that is holy is indeed an accurate description of total human depravity. There is however a big difference in asserting man’s inability to do anything holy as opposed to asserting his inability to respond to a Holy God. As Paul makes reference to “walking according to the course of this world and conducting ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind,” one could ascertain the importance of man’s responsibility in the choices that he makes. In this passage being dead in trespass and sin neither demands nor denies the Calvinist interpretation of being spiritually dead, rendering an individual unable to respond to God and His revelation of who He is to a lost and dying world.
    In verse 8 Paul writes, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” When Paul writes,” it is the gift of God” what exactly is he referring to? This is a very important question. This gift of God in verse 8 can only be a reference to one of two things; it is either a reference to God’s grace or it is a reference to salvation itself. In this passage grace, which can be defined as God’s unmerited favor, has Christ as its agent and faith as its vehicle. Salvation is the focal point of this passage. The “it” that Paul refers to as the gift of God must refer to salvation; it is not a reference to grace. It is also no accident that Paul uses the phrase gift as he speaks of this great salvation. There are several elements that are essential with any gift. Paul mentions the first element as he says salvation is “not of works lest any man should boast.” A gift is something that is unearned. Ironically the wages of sin or that which man deserves or has earned is death. While man deserves to die; salvation is a gift of God.
    There is a second element that’s essential in any gift. A gift is bought and paid for by one party and then offered to a second party. A possession is something that someone has bought and paid for. A possession is not a gift until it is offered freely to someone else. There is a third element that is essential in any gift; this possession offered freely has to be accepted freely. Each of these elements is equally essential. Much is made of salvation as a gift being freely offered. It must be understood that there is a big difference between being freely offered and freely secured. The fact that a gift is freely offered has absolutely nothing to do with the cost associated with securing the gift. While the gift of salvation is free to the individual who places his trust in God, that gift cost God dearly.
    Perhaps the most overlooked and under emphasized element of this gift of salvation is that of being” freely received.” There is very little mention of the gift of salvation being “freely received.” For some reason this element has caused a mountain of debate. The idea that a person can be so dead spiritually that he cannot recognize, comprehend and certainly accept and receive a free gift from God is just not logical.
    Can a person who is spiritually blind understand and respond to the gospel? There are a number of passages in the Bible that speak of man having “ears to hear” and “eyes to see” and they fail to both hear and see. There are other references to eyes that are blinded to the truth of the gospel. One of those passages can be found in John Chapter 12. John writes: “But although He had done so many signs before them, they did not believe in Him, that the word of Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spoke: ‘Lord, who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?’ Therefore they could not believe, because Isaiah said again: ‘He has blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts, Lest they should see with their eyes, Lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, So that I should heal them.’ These things Isaiah said when he saw His glory and spoke of Him.”
    The emphasis of this passage is not really focused on the statement that Isaiah made, “He has blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts, lest they should see with their eyes, lest they should understand him with their hearts and turn, so that I should heal them.” The emphasis is on the fact that Jesus did so many signs before the religious leaders and they refused to believe in Him, in spite of all they heard and all they saw. “Nevertheless even among the rulers many did believe in Him, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.” The reason so many refused to believe Jesus is really seen in verse “for they love the praise of men more than the praise of God.” In this passage the blinded eyes and hardened hearts may well be a reference to their love of the praise of men the Pharisees had in their hearts. This is not a proof text on God’s divine intervention on salvation and election.

    ><>”

  64. JD Anderson says:

    Perhaps the surge to Calvinism is more a response to the real threat in the SBC; The Emergent Movement. Calvinist teachers can seem to provide a better foundation through better teaching. If a conservative Baptist is looking for an anchor, the Calvinist teachers seem to be doing a better job than the bulk of SBC teachers. I was trained at a Reformed seminary, but couldn’t make the leap to their assumed conclusions. Still, I think men like R.C. Sproul, John Piper and their kind present a strong teaching from God’s Word on so many other points that they have garnered an appropriate amount of respect from conservative Christians. Perhaps a good solution from SBC luminaries would be to do likewise.

  65. sbcissues says:

    JD,

    Thanks for your input. I am not sure that I agree with your statement that the Emergent Movement is the “real threat” in the SBC. I will agree that is has its problems but it is a LONG way from being any threat to the SBC, at least as I see it.

    I will agree with you that Calvinist teachers “seem to provide a better foundation” and many do “present a strong teaching from God’s Word on many points.” Most Calvinist leaders quote the Scriptures relentlessly. As you suggest, the assumed conclusions they draw are obviously the problem.

    One of the problems I believe is relative to a scholarly approach to the Scriptures in the first place. When we make the theology itself the source of our study, then we run the risk of taking the Bible out of its context and instead of searching the Scriptures to see Christ, we search the Scriptures attempting to evaluate truth on its own merit as we see it and sometimes shape it and we can miss the boat in doing so. I believe that is the case with much of Christian theology. For example, I believe the premise of Total Depravity automatically puts an individual on the wrong foundation and ANY theological position based on that foundation will be terribly flawed. Scholastic effort is obviously necessary but it is very difficult to make sure that the main thing stays the main thing where theology is the focus of ones study.

    Understand the real issue that I am raising in this letter is the level of influence that Calvinists have taken in the entities of the SBC, not simply a couple of the seminaries. That is the problem that I am discussing. It is a MAJOR issue that I believe must be addressed sooner than later.

    ><>”

    • ric peters says:

      I will be bold to say, anyone who does not believe in total depravity is a stranger to the condition of their own heart.Apparently this person knows nothing of the plague of his own heart and that my friend is shakey foundation.If this is the type of people who are highly esteemed among southern baptist ,no wonder there are problems.

      • sbcissues says:

        Ric,

        Let me rephrase my statement. I do not believe in Total Depravity/Inability. There is a BIG difference in saying that man is depraved and saying that man is totally depraved and completely unable to respond to the gospel apart from God giving him the ability to do so.

        I do not believe the Bible teaches that God regenerates an individual and THEN he repents and exercises faith to be saved. I do not believe the Bible teaches that God requires faith for one to be saved knowing that He is the One who must give it to someone in order for that person to be saved.

        Is that better?

        ><>”

      • DBuz says:

        There is no one who seeks God, not even one. There is none that does good, not even one….
        No one CAN come to the Father unless the Father who sent me draws him….

        I don’t see how these verses exclude anybody….then maybe I can’t read my Bible and understand it for what it clearly states. I don’t have letters behind my name….

      • JD says:

        I must agree with Ric on the depravity issue. Matt. 5 Jesus begins the sermon on the mount with that very foundation. (Blessed are the poor in Spirit; An order of Salvation, perhaps?)
        As to the issue of theology; is it not wrong of man to take a scientific approach to God? That is; to objectify Him as the thing to be studied, tested, as though Scientific method could somehow bring us light. This assumes that the one studying is the true authority and final determiner of truth.
        In my relations with Calvinists, I find that they will repeatedly appeal to the Sovereignty of God, while failing to understand the authority (and subsequent responsibility) He has delegated to His creatures. It is not enough to see only one side of the coin of God’s election. We have to ask Him for the understanding of the paradox that is the will of God that permits the will of Man to even exist.

      • sbcissues says:

        JD,

        Thanks for the input. I understand fully the issues presented by total depravity/inability. You are certainly in the majority accepting the tenets. I agree with you on the issue of the sovereignty of God and the Calvinist’s failing to acknowledge “the authority (and subsequent responsibility) He has delegated to His creatures.”

        ><>”

  66. ric peters says:

    john 3 explains that there must be life before sight.Sight in this sense is faith.Faith is the eyes of the soul, a new born soul, not one dead in trespasses and sins.faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the Word of God,is not the bible GODS WORD, if faith comes by hearing it and the entrance of thy word giveth light ,how is it not a gift of God?

  67. Faith comes by hearing the word of God; how? JN. 16:8-11. It is the Holy Spirit that convinces us of sin, righteousness and judgment. See Jesus’ comments on said conviction. Is this resistible?
    Romans 10 tells us that not all have obeyed the gospel; that is, repented. Is this not man’s responsibility, to repent (mourn) at the revelation of their poverty of spirit (Matt. 5:3-4)?
    So how is it that sufficient faith is given to see our state and the dichotomy of Christ’s righteousness and Judgment? If we are held responsible for rejecting Christ as God’s means of salvation, it is because we have been given sufficient light to see the options and choose. The ability to see was not ours apart from the convicting work of the Holy Spirit.
    I dare say, however, for those Emergent Baptists who might stumble on this site, How can they hear except someone preach of sin, righteousness and judgment?

  68. sbcissues says:

    Jody,

    You asked, “Is this not man’s responsibility, to repent (mourn) at the revelation of their poverty of spirit (Matt. 5:3-4)?” I believe it most assuredly is.

    You asked, “If we are held responsible for rejecting Christ as God’s means of salvation, it is because we have been given sufficient light to see the options and choose. The ability to see was not ours apart from the convicting work of the Holy Spirit.” I again believe you are correct in our being given sufficient light to see the options and choose. I really like the way you worded that. I also agree with your statement that the ability to see was not ours apart from the convicting work of the Holy Spirit.

    Not sure what your point is concerning the Emergent Baptists visiting.

    Thanks for stopping in and leaving a comment.

    ><>”

    • JD says:

      Emergents within the SBC is , by my estimation, a prevalent and serious threat. At least with Calvinists, we have the proper basis for Christian dialogue; the agreement in the infallible Word of God.
      We do not have this with Emergents, as they are relativists, believing in the Social Constuct paradigm of interpretation. Are they a problem? Look at Lifeway, our source of Sunday School material. They are working under a post-modern worldview that is leading many away from the Biblical worldview. Perhaps this could be a new item for this site.
      As to my comment; despite the post-modernist claim to tolerance, they are prone to enjoy the downfall of Conservatives of any stripe. Infighting of Conservative factions within the SBC is seen only as strengthening their position of compromise and disdain for doctrinal rigidity.

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