Controversy over Calvinism brewing in the SBC

According to a report published by the Associate Baptist Press dated October 19, “SBC leader cites Calvinism as top challenge” in the Southern Baptist Convention.  This is hardly news; the Calvinist-non-Calvinist (really Arminian) controversy has been bubbling up among the conservatives who took over the SBC for years.

However, according to this report, based on an interview Frank Page, CEO of the SBC Executive Committee, gave to the blog SBC Today on October 18, the controversy is reaching a critical point.  The flashpoint of the controversy seems to be that many newly minted graduates of SBC seminaries are flooding into SBC pulpits without fulling revealing their Calvinism and then, after becoming pastors, are attempting to impose Calvinism on the congregations.  I know this to be true as I receive such reports from SBC people all over the South.  Page is urging pastoral candidates to reveal their theologies to search committees and congregations before accepting their calls.  And he is urging SBC churches to tell pastoral candidates what teachings they will tolerate and which they will not.  The issue, then, is informed consent.

Here are some of my reactions to this brewing Baptist brouhaha:

First, I think it is ironic and a little funny (as well as sad) that the ultra-conservatives who took over the SBC and pushed out moderates are now fighting among themselves.  I’ve predicted this ever since the take over was complete.  Fundamentalists are never satisfied to be at peace–even with their own brothers and sisters.  Fundamentalist DNA is to fight over something.  If it weren’t Calvinism versus Arminianism (even if the Arminians in this controversy aren’t calling themselves that) it would be eschatology or the gifts of the Spirit (cessationism versus charismatic belief).  Oh, come to think of it…these are also controversies among fundamentalists!

A quick caveat–I do not mean to imply that ALL SBC conservatives are fundamentalists, but some are.  And they tend to be the ones who always have to be fighting over the finer points of doctrine.

Second, I wish the Baptist Arminians would quit running from the word.  Frank Page claims he’s neither a Calvinist nor an Arminian.  I heard that all the time among Baptists in the South especially.  And the only reason for it is a wrong impression of what it means to be Arminian.  As I have demonstrated in Arminian Theology: Myths and Realities, one can be fully and authentically Arminian and believe in inamissable grace (so-called “eternal security”).

Third, in a denomination as large and diverse as the SBC there should be plenty of room for both Calvinists and Arminians.  Historically there has been.  But many Calvinists are arguing that the SBC is “historically Calvinist.”  Really?  If you want to go back to the beginnings of the Convention in pre-Civil War days you’d find many of the founders were Calvinists who owned slaves!  So if the SBC founders should be followed in their Calvinism, why not in their racism?  In fact, the Baptist Faith & Message is worded intentionally to allow for both soteriologies.  And probably the majority of SBC leaders throughout the last century have been so-called “Calminians”–a position I think is inconsistent but at least not full blown Calvinism.

Finally, the real issue should be full disclosure by pastoral candidates and congregations seeking pastors.  Knowing how controversial it is, Calvinist pastoral candidates should be completely “up front” about their Calvinism with churches interviewing them.  And churches seeking a pastor should lay all their cards on the table, so to speak, and tell pastoral candidates what theologies they cannot tolerate.

I, for one, have no problem with Calvinist Baptist churches and Calvinist pastors in Baptist churches.  There have always been some.  The only time it becomes a problem is when Calvinists or Arminians sneak into pulpits hiding their theologies and then “come out of the closet” with them, surprising the congregation by attempting to enforce their distinctive view of God’s sovereignty on an unsuspecting and unprepared congregation.  This is happening a lot these days.  For the most part it is Calvinists doing it.  I have heard no reports of Arminians sneaking into pulpits hiding their Arminianism and then attempting to enforce it on a largely Calvinist (or “Calminian”) congregation.  So far as I know this never happens.

Within denominations that lack a clear confessional stance on God’s sovereignty in salvation, there should be tolerance and mutual respect combined with complete transparency.  This would solve most, if not all, of the controversies over this matter.

 

  • http://www.sanctification.wordpress.com Tom Shelton

    I don’t think the problem is that with Calvinist pastors sneaking into pulpits “hiding their theologies and then….surprising the congregation by attempting to enforce their distinctive view of God’s sovereignty on an unsuspecting and unprepared congregation”. This is an attempt to portray pastors who have a Calvinistic theology as a sinister group trying to infiltrate and destroy. I don’t believe this to be the case at all.

    The problem is that too many people in SBC pews today don’t know their Bible. They only know what their favorite pastor or their parents said the Bible says. They are unwilling to examine their own beliefs and compare them to Scripture and change what does not align with Scripture. It is far easier to just accept what others say.

    The differences between these two theologies should drive people back to their bibles. They should dig into it to see what is actually taught so that they can defend what they believe. Doing this would then allow them to see that there are other interpretations / understandings of some non-essential doctrines that can be accepted and can co-exist within a local congregation. This would not end the disputes but would allow the focus to remain where it should be and that is God’s glory and the expansion of his kingdom.

    • rogereolson

      Well, I know for a fact you’re wrong. I have been told by many people that their congregation called a pastor who only after accepting the call revealed his five point Calvinism and then tried to force it down the congregants’ throats. Often they also then attempt to push through elder-ruled church government. Very often these churches end up splitting or many people just wander away to other churches. Of course I’m not suggesting all Calvinist pastors do this. I never even hinted at that. But it is a growing problem in Southern Baptist and ex-SBC churches (e.g., in Texas).

      • http://www.sanctification.wordpress.com Tom Shelton

        I think you are committing the n=1 fallacy. Just because there may be a few instances of this does not mean it is a “growing problem”. It only means that there was mis-communication between the pastor and the church search committee in those instances you have heard about.

        • http://RogerOlson Lynn

          I think you are wrong and today these pastors and ministers of youth are coming out of the woodwork. The youth are becoming very confused about what they have believed for years and now with all the calvinism being thrown at them they don’t know what to believe. We need to stick with our Baptist Faith/ Message and Doctrines. Not the revised editions but the one that was written in 1925. I have one of the original copies and it is great. Get one, if you can find it and read it. Don’t rely on some misguided ministers coming our of some of our Baptist Seminaries as some of them won’t tell you what they believe. Pastors need to be honest … isn’t that a given?? I certainly believe so. False preachers are the same as false prophets.

      • Timothy

        What is the implication of elder-ruled church? In what way is this problematic? This is not a disagreement but a confession of ignorance.

        • rogereolson

          It’s controversial among Baptists. In traditional Baptist polity there is one elder and he’s (usually a he) is not called an “elder” but pastor. However, his role corresponds to that of elder (presbyter) in the New Testament. The church is “ruled” by deacons together with the pastor but ultimately by the members. What is happening is that some Reformed Baptists are trying to get Baptist churches to adopt rule over the church by elders–in the Presbyterian style of polity. SOME (not all) even go so far as to drop church business meetings where members vote on church matters, replacing them with elder board meetings where the elders are a self-perpetuating group who make all the decisions. I’m not sure that’s even Reformed polity!

      • Sam Yates

        Why would anyone with a mind of his/her own that was given to them by God actually want to follow a muderous person such as Calvin. It doesn’t make any sense. I am a follower of Christ, not Calvin nor any preacher trying to push Calvin’s 5 points.

        • rogereolson

          You should know that many contemporary Calvinists do not defend Calvin’s treatment of Servetus and others with whom he disagreed. Some have openly criticized him for it. And many contemporary Calvinists prefer to be labeled “Reformed.” They do not swear allegiance to Calvin, for example, but to Reformed confessions of faith (to express their so-called Calvinist beliefs). “Calvinism,” in other words, does not automatically imply believing the sainthood or hero status of John Calvin.

    • Bob

      Tom,

      I would also like to say, and i think you agree, that the fruit of the Spirit is an evidence of regeneration, not TULIP. Jesus said people will know us by our love for one another. I realise that pelagianism has poisened most churches and we have come full circle since the reformation, but i believe those who are mature in the word should be patient and loving toward novices who love the Lord and His word. Like Tom said “It should drive us into the scriptures as the Bereans to see if these things are true, in other words it should create healthy fellowship, not division”. Then again i must be carefull here, because sound doctrine often divides the sheep from the goats. :)

  • Joao Chaves

    Dr. Olson,

    I agree with you that it is a shame that some pastors are not transparent or clear enough to congregations regarding their theological positions. I my home country something similar is happening. The issue there, however, is mainly that pastors are not upfront about their pentecostalism and after getting a position in a non-pentecostal church they try to change it. The fact that there are 2 big baptist convention in Brazil (one charismatic and one traditional) does not keep this from happening among churches of a non-pentecostal background.

  • C. Ehrlich

    Do you have any thoughts about what it is about the fundamentalist mindset that leads to such fighting and unrest? (Instead of engaging with them–and thereby satisfying their fighting inclinations–maybe it is better to address some deeper issue. If therapy is needed, our arguments could be delaying the cure.)

    • rogereolson

      There are, of course, certain people who, for whatever reason, enjoy conflict. Perhaps they’re suffering from testosterone poisoning. (It’s real–look it up in Theodore D. Kemper, Social Structure and Testosterone–a report on many scientific studies showing too much testosterone can make a person aggressive.) Perhaps they’re just brain-wired a certain way. Perhaps it has something to do with the way they are raised and/or educated or socialized. In some religious circles you get rewarded for being aggressive in heresy-hunting even if it involves unethical conduct. Perhaps it comes from feeling a part of something elite and closed to “ordinary” people who aren’t enlightened (a kind of gnosticism). I suspect there are many things that lead to having a fundamentalist mindset. Notice I am not talking about doctrines here but only certain behaviors.

  • http://www.donbryant.wordpress.com don bryant

    You are absolutely fair on this one. I have seen this so often. Pastors want a church and a church wants a pastor. It’s a hard time to clarify the sticking points, particularly when there is not the theological sophistication on the part of a church to do so. I think Pastors need to be more ready to read these situations than they in fact do.

  • David Rogers

    I’ve been concerned about this for awhile now, and not just specifically the Calvinism-Arminianism issue. Many, and I mean many, congregations do not anticipate the controversial issues that could lead to division with their pastors. They do not know what questions to ask. In both of the churches I have pastored neither one raised any theological questions other than inquiry about basic agreement with the Baptist Faith and Message, which in none of its forms addresses eschatology, spiritual gifts, and soteriological controversies. Also, I’m not sure that pulpit committee search resources produced by state conventions address theological assessment. Many churches seek out information and evaluation of personality, pulpit skills, pastoral inclinations and salary expectations with theological leanings only covered by a checking off an agreement with the Baptist Faith and Message.
    I don’t know if the seminaries push a graduate to formulate an expression of theological positions. The state conventions and associations provide little to no theological analysis tools. Ordination councils only occasionally ask for deep theological expression, and besides, they are often on the same day as the ordination service so there is social pressure to go ahead and approve the candidate since there’s cake in the fellowship hall. Unless a church’s previous pastors have trained the congregation to think and act in such manner, we will continue to have new pastors called and the inevitable surprise, surprise of shocking theological disconnect between pulpit and pew.

    • rogereolson

      Excellent points. The whole process needs revisiting.

  • Josh Parsley

    I’m not a part of the SBC but I am around it a lot (can you be a Christian in the south and not have friends in the SBC?). I’ve been listening to a ‘John 3:16 Conference’ that talked about Calvinism. One thing I did notice is that they are nearly all dead set on not saying they are “arminian.” It’s mainly because they seem to think you have to deny the P of TULIP to be an arminian. I just want to tell them, “You are arminian, get over it!” :)

    I haven’t finished listening to the whole conference’s recordings yet, but here was the lineup:

    Dr. Johnny Hunt – Opening Message
    Dr. Jerry Vines – John 3:16
    Dr. Paige Patterson – Total Depravity
    Dr. Richard Land – Unconditional Election
    Dr. David Allen – Limited Atonement
    Dr. Steve Lemke – Irresistible Grace
    Dr. Ken Keathley – Perseverance of the Saints
    Dr. Charles Stanley – John 3:16 to the Entire World

    • rogereolson

      A book came out of that conference and I quote from it in Against Calvinism. I agree that most, if not all, of these people are Arminians. They just won’t admit it.

  • Phil Faris

    You say that for one to answer “neither” to the question of whether one is Calvinist or Arminian is “running from the world” and “And the only reason for it is a wrong impression of what it means to be Arminian. ”

    Aren’t their people who are aware of both TULIP Calvinism and both works oriented/insecure Arminians as well as your own version that legitimately do not base their beliefs (or theology) on the historical debate and current controversies?

    I always said I’m 3 point Calvinist, which I now learn nearly coincides with your version of Arminianism. Yet I don’t base my faith and teaching at all on Reformed traditions of orthodoxy. I firmly believe that all “branded” theology is situational and non-transferable very far beyond the ecclesiastical conflict du jour. I mostly study theology just to avoid the misunderstandings that would arise if I couldn’t see possible points of view that people might have while “discussing” the Bible with me.

    Unfortunately, without careful study it is unlikely that preachers can withstand the buffeting from Calivinists or Arminians or other branded theologies that come their way. Yet that careful study doesn’t really help in hermeneutical tasks except to avoid knee-jerk interpretations.

    And isn’t this what your latest consideration of narrative theology is all about? Aren’t you trying to encourage people to drop their historical confessional blinders and get the “real” point of each pericopy in context?

    So I would think that we should ALL start saying that we are not Calivinist or Arminian in theology.

    • rogereolson

      Well, I do disagree, but I don’t insist that people use labels. I just don’t understand why they run from a label that fits them very well.

  • http://barrybiblicalnotes.com Barry Applewhite

    Dr. Olson,
    Exactly what questions should a pastoral search committee ask to flush out the pretenders? Give them some concrete guidance by answering that question. Then it is up to all of us to spread the information to those who need to get it.

    It seems to me there is more than one way to give false witness!

    -Barry

    • rogereolson

      A pastoral search committee should ask pastoral candidates the following question and demand a simple, straightforward answer (and then allow the candidates to explain further if they wish): “Do you adhere to any doctrines considered controversial in our denomination?” If the candidates says “yes” (which he or she probably will if being perfectly honest because so many doctrines are debated among Baptists and others), invite the candidate to explain. It very well may be that the candidates “controversial doctrines” are not controversial to that congregation. If they are, and the congregation likes the candidate anyway, the committee should then ask “How ill you treat that among us once you are our pastor?”

      • http://www.sanctification.wordpress.com Tom Shelton

        If the pastor search committees take this approach (which I think is perfectly acceptable) they need to have a list of these “controversial” doctrines and be prepared to explain what they consider controversial about them so that the prospective pastor can know whether or not his position is in agreement or not with them. Then he can explain his differences adequately.

        • Bob

          Amen! They need to back up their mouths with scripture, otherwise their positions remain weak and unproven. :)

      • James T

        I serve as an interim pastor for small rural churches. The approach I take is that they must decide what is important to the body and make it clear at the very beginning with any prospective pastor. Usually, this includes the Arm-Cal position; end-times; sacraments, and the like. The church must take the lead on what’s significant and not leave it to the prospect, who may out of ignorance believe his theology is obviously the “right” one. (Not to say that some pastors enter the church in hopes of changing flock, knowing full well that they hold a different position. They may believe it’s their mission to change what they see as error.)

  • http://www.debatingobama.blogspot.com greg metzger

    I thought of you immediately Roger when I saw that newes story. Great explanation and glad to see you renewing use of the term fundamentalist.

  • Nicolas

    Thank you for sharing this — it should remind us all to hold on to humility and compassion.
    As I’m from the UK, I only know that the origin of the SBC lies in resistance to the abolition of slavery, but that they did confess this mistake about 20 years ago.
    Do you know where I can find out more about this, and how do the present leaders view that history now?

  • nathan

    When people try to revise history and claim that the SBC (along with evangelicalism as a whole) were originally all Calvinist in their theology, this is a lie. (Not a misunderstanding or a personal opinion. It’s bald-faced lying. Pernicious as it is specious.)

    When candidates are not forthcoming about their theology and then try to effect change along those lines, that lying plus manipulation.

    Look, I don’t mind pastors keeping their own counsel. I have theological positions that would raise disagreement with me, but I also don’t have an axe to grind. I also understand godly people can disagree. So it’s better to hold up the centered set of priorities and mission and get on with Kingdom work.

    • rogereolson

      It may be that all the “founders” of the SBC in 1845 were Calvinists. They were probably also all slave owners (or at least believed in and supported slavery).

      • Casey

        Roger,
        In reading your article I’m left with this question: How does the affirmation of slavery on the part of some of the SBC Founders relate to the Calvinistic foundation of the SBC? It seems like you are content to employ a “guilt by association” measure, if this is the case then what is to be said of the Anglicans, Presbyterians, Methodists, Catholics, and others who practiced slavery in the American South?

        Also, slavery is difficult biblical topic, to say the least. There is much that we have to understand of its historical setting, common practices and then apply that to today’s world. I would say that the American-style, cotton-picking, whip-you-if-you-talkback slavery is clearly wrong, but I can see how someone would think–biblically–that there is allowance for slavery under a wise, loving, caring master.

        What say you?

        • rogereolson

          I disagree that owning another human being can ever be a good thing–either from a Christian perspective or a humanistic one. As for your complaint about my comment about the SBC founders: you misunderstand my comment. My only point was that just because all the founders of the SBC were Calvinists (assuming that’s true) does not mean we ought to return to their point of view. They were also all (or most) slave owners or strong defenders of slavery. Should we all return to their point of view on that as well? I don’t know anyone who would say so.

  • Nicolas

    Thank you, that was very informative.

  • Timothy

    Does one have to choose between Calvinism and Arminianism? I would regard myself as the latter but some of my friends within the Baptist Church would call themselves anabaptists, who of course emerged before the 17th century, before even than Calvin in the 16th. Does the distinction only hold for those from the Reformed tradition or can the distinction be maintained for older theological traditions?
    On the Calvinist/Arminian roots of the Baptist church, the General Baptists in UK emerged from Calvinism separatism (c 1610) into something very like Arminianism but probably more influenced by anabaptism than by the Arminians. The slightly later Particular Baptists were Calvinistic in their origins (c 1630s) and retained that Calvinist feature. Modern Baptists in the UK exhibit either tradition and some have also tapped into the anabaptist tradition anew much as they have done in the US.

    • rogereolson

      I consider the Anabaptists “Arminians before Arminius.” Modern day Anabaptists are all Arminians whether they use that term or not. The situation with Calvin is the same. There were people before Calvin who held his view of predestination. While we don’t usually call them Calvinists, I would call them “Calvinists before Calvin.” John Wycliffe was one.

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  • http://lakeviewbaptist.org J.D. Rector

    Dr. Olson:
    I’m very confused about your perusing of this subject. In your response to Josh Parsley about the John 3:16 Conference you said that most, if not all of the speakers were Arminians, even though they may not acknowledge it. Then in your response to Phil Faris you said, “… I don’t insist that people use labels. I don’t understand that they run from a label that fits them well.”

    Pray tell dear brother! Who determines who gets the proper label? I for one am like David Rogers. Many of our pulpit committees are ignorant of the right questions to ask a potential pastor and furthermore, many of our baptist pew-sitters are ignorant of their own Bible that they hold in their hands on Sunday mornings.

    This is coming from me… a fully reformed Calvinist committed to historical principles of Grace, who shared the gospel of Jesus Christ with a waiter this afternoon.

    • rogereolson

      I think my response to him made sense. I don’t insist that people use the labels I use, but I hope they won’t object to my labeling them if the label fits. What I don’t understand is why a person who believes what Arminius believed about salvation runs from the label “Arminian.” Apparently these good folks believe that their doctrine of the eternal security of the believer makes them non-Arminian. Well, as a historical theologian I say it doesn’t. Arminius himself was uncertain about that doctrine and the earliest Remonstrants did not pronounce about it. I think the label “Arminian” fits ANY Protestant who believes in conditional election, universal atonement and resistible (prevenient) grace. That’s what defines “Arminianism.” I can’t insist that all Arminians label themselves that way, but I can keep asking them why they don’t. That so many Arminians run from the label sometimes (especially in evangelical circles) sometimes causes those of us who gladly wear the label difficulties as administrators of denominations, education institutions, publishing houses, etc., come to think it is an eccentric theological position and get most of their information about it from Calvinists who continue to insist it is tantamount to Pelagianism or semi-Pelagianism.

  • http://n/a Br.D.

    I have heard these concerns as well for quite some time, and I can understand as it is quite un-Christ-like behaviour.

    I see these as “war” tactics.
    And for some, all is fair in war.
    In the world of “jihad”, the end justifies the means.

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  • Rick Mauck

    I am appalled at the article here written by Roger Olsen and the discussions that follow. It seems I’m always a little too late in finding these blogs, since the last entry was in October and it is now three months later. I’ve been in and out of a lot of Southern Baptist churches since 1985 and more recently I’ve come in contact with a lot of Calvinist pastors inside and outside of the SBC. I’ll make a long story short. I have never met a Calvinist who was a Christian. In fact, by definition one cannot be a Calvinist and a Christian. To suggest that they are, is to promote folly and expose yourself as an antichrist. If the cancer of Calvin is not expunged from the SBC, the SBC will die. I’ve heard many lies of Satan: (1) Islamics say you believe in Allah or you are an infidel; (2) the Roman Catholics say you are a Catholic or a protestant; (3) the Calvinist say you are a Calvinist or an Arminian. All are lies from the pit of hell. Islamics, Catholics, nor Calvinist make my bed for me. I do not enter into their insane world of “either/or”. If you want to be a Calvinist that is your business, or an Arminian, or a Catholic, or a protestant, or an Islamic it is all your business. But when you do so, you have branded yourself as an antichrist. When you identify yourself by one of these aberrant labels and call yourself a Christian at the same time, then it is my business and the business of every member of the Body of Christ. May God have mercy on your souls. Roger, you apparently have control of the mic, so I don’t expect your darkened soul will permit you to post this. But at the judgment seat of Christ you will be held accountable if you fail to repent. Those who presume to be teachers will be held to a higher standard.

    • rogereolson

      Thank you for this attempt at parody, but it seems a little “over the top.” I’ve never met a fundamentalist who would go that far. But it does seem to be the direction in which some are headed. Fortunately, all I’ve ever met stop short of that.

      • Gene

        A “little” over the top?

  • Rick Mauck

    I have several stories I could tell you, but I’ll just post one. I was invited to a weekly men’s bible study, I tried to decline, but the host was insistent. I explained to him that I will speak up if heresy is taught and that he should withdraw his invitation. He laughed and wasn’t concerned, after all he was a congregant of a solid Christian church – or so he thought. I didn’t know, so I thought the fellowship would be nice. Everything seemed normal the first week, but the second the assistant pastor (a regular attendee of this bible study group) started giving his spiel about salvation. I recognized it as Calvinism. It was the end of the night, so I let it go and decided to surf their website. The name of the church was “City Name” Church: the word Christian was not there. In fact I had to search three layers deep to even find the name of Christ on their site. But I did find the heretical Nicene Creed right up front. The next week at the Bible study they circulated the Nicene Creed for discussion. The dozen or more men actually thought that it was there pastor who had gone to the trouble of putting Scripture references to each part of that Creed. Little did it matter that these Scripture references were prolific on the internet for years. After that night we continued our discussion via email with about fifty members of the church cc’d by the assistant pastor. I had given a invitation to the pastor to talk to him, but he ignored me. The assistant pastor just out and right lied and said that is not the Nicene Creed on their website, it is the Apostle’s Creed. When the assistant pastor would not relent, I also emailed all fifty members to check the internet and see for themselves which Creed is was. Not a single member responded to my posting. A week later I was uninvited to the bible study and told not to come to their church. A week after that the Nicene Creed disappeared from their website without explanation. Calvinist do not respect the Bible nor the truth. They are deceptive antichrists. If this is your definition of over the top you need to come out of your shell and realize that you serve a God of war and we are in a war.

    • rogereolson

      Are you meaning to say that the Nicene Creed is “heretical?” What does it have to do specifically with Calvinism? Are you judging all Calvinists by one church? Did they uninvite you for theological reasons or something else?

  • Rick Mauck

    At your request, I will gladly provide names and city and state.

    • rogereolson

      Not requested.

  • Rick Mauck

    Yes, I am saying that the Nicene Creed is heretical. And Reformed Theologians like it. I just googled it and the first site I clicked on was a Reformed site: http://www.reformed.org/documents/index.html?mainframe=http://www.reformed.org/documents/nicene.html. “I acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins.” Baptism doesn’t make my sins go away, the Blood of Christ washes away my sin and the sin of the whole world. Reformed theology does not teach this. Therefore, they have no problem with the Nicene Creed, instead they like it. Ephesians 4:5 is used as a Scripture reference by some. That’s doesn’t compute. But we could go on for hours on this tangent. And I’m willing to pursue it, if you wish.

    I am not judging Calvinism by one church, I judge them by their doctrine. This one church, as I earlier stated, was only one example. I was invited to the Bible study because the host and I had a business relationship: he ran a tire store and I was his customer. His speech was laced with praises to the Lord, he was a joy to talk to. However, the man was simple and not into deep study. Praise the Lord, he didn’t even know what Calvinism was. He embraced me as a brother and wanted me to share his joy in his church. His church and the leadership was the problem. But this man fed on the milk of the word. I pray that our Heavenly Father will continue to protect him even though his church feds him a junk food diet.

    Now. getting back to Reformed theology. Without getting directly into their doctrine at this time, I’ll give you a view of the forest, before we look at the individual trees. A Christian identifies himself by Christ and His shed Blood. A Calvinist has his identity in a man: John Calvin. Rick Warren (I will assume that you recognize the name), pastor of the Saddleback Community Church calls himself a Kuyper Calvinist. He identifies himself with two dead men. I identify myself with one Living God. A Reformed person identifies himself with the Satanic Catholic Church. After all, they were formed at one time with the Catholics, now they are “re-formed”. A Protestant identifies himself with the Satanic Catholic church, after all, he is protesting the Catholics, that’s why he is a Protestant. I identify myself with Christ, not with a Satanic church. My beliefs begin and end with Christ and His shed Blood. The Catholics consider a Protestant as a temporarily separated Catholic. And rightly they should, after all, they christened him with the name protestant when he apostatized from Catholicism. Christians need to get out of the box. They need to stop identifying themselves with labels placed upon them by the enemy of their souls. No matter what argument or debate or conversation one enters into and no matter how effective and refined our stance, if we use the enemy’s terminology, he wins (and he laughs behind our backs).

    • rogereolson

      Have you been reading too much Jack Chick perhaps?

  • william

    This article is utterly ridiculous. I am neither an arminian or a Calvin, although on point, I think that Calvinism is one of the very great dangers in the SBC today (albeit for different reasons than the author). I feel it is dangerous because it grossly mischaracterizes our God, Who died for all and in no way is a reprobative, pre-determining God that elects people to hell. Calvinism paints itself up in a pretty little formula and presents itself to our youth as this new “thinking” model of Christianity, as if you don’t believe in its principles then you have “not graduated up” in your intellectual approach to the Bible. It takes scriptures out of context and also forms a soteriology of Christ based on hyberbole, poetry and moments of righteous indignation from David (Psalms). It stretches scriptures beyond their intended meanings. An example of this is the Total Depravity concept. News Falsh!: The Bible from cover to cover paints a theme of man’s ability to choose and not only that, but also rewards for right choices and punishments for wrong choices. Election is only in Christ and the Good News that you can become one of the elect right now if you will “believe on the Lord Jesus and be saved”!

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