I was honored to be able to attend the 2014 Fundamental Wesleyan Conference held at the Southern Wesleyan College in Orangeburg, SC. I was blessed as I listened to brother Mark Horton, pastor of Faith United Community Church in Nicholasville, KY teach us on John Wesley and the early Methodists use of accountability groups as a form of both conversion and discipleship of true saints. He pointed out that George Whitefield lamented at his death that Wesley had done that right, by starting his “bands” for the purpose of accountability and overcoming sin.
The theme of the conference was on Christian perfection. We heard lectures related to that theme. It was pointed out that the Bible calls us to perfection (Matthew 5:48; 19:21; 1 Corinthians 2:6; Philippians 3:15; Colossians 1:28; 4:12; James 1:4; 3:2). We are be a people of holiness (Hebrews 12:14) just as God Himself is holy (1 Peter 1:15-16). Yet the modern rise in Calvinism has brought with it the antinomian approach to sin. The Calvinist mindset is that we can never conquer sin even with the Spirit of God abiding within. Our best hope, says Calvin, is Romans 7. John Wesley differed greatly with this and he emphasized that Christians must first rightly define sin and then we can see that the call to holiness is not hypothetical but very real. We can be holy. We can live in a godly life in Christ Jesus. We don’t have to live a life of sinning (1 John 3:4-10). We can “stop sinning” (1 Corinthians 15:34).
While that was all very good teaching, I appreciated Dr. Vic Reasoner speaking on the subject of the need for Arminian publishing of books. He pointed out that less than 50 years ago, there were essentially four major Christian publishers and all were located in Grand Rapids, MI. Those family publishers have since been bought out and now are owned by very large and very liberal companies such as News Corp and Penguin Press. He pointed out that a Christian publisher in Waterbrook Multnomah was recently ousted from the NRB for their willingness to publish openly homosexual and “Christian” authors. Why? Reasoner points out that the bottom line is money.
Reasoner went on to discuss how he had a friend who was asked by his publisher to remove things from his work because it was too offensive or didn’t follow the policies of the publisher.
Reasoner also talked about how most of the major books today are Calvinistic especially in the area of discipleship and Biblical studies. This, he said, must change but it will not so long as the publishers are only willing to publish what they deem follows their agenda or makes them money.
The need then is for Arminian publishing to arise. The Nazarene Publishing House (NPH) is closing its doors in December. The NPH had once been a vital Arminian voice publishing the works of Wesley and Arminius. My own copies of Arminius’ works came from the NPH. Other Arminian publishers such as Pathway Press (Church of God, Cleveland, TN) and Gospel Publishing House (Assemblies of God) are avoiding theological books these days and are not a major player in publishing Arminian books.
During the 18th century Wesleyan revival here in the West, the Wesleyan movement published thousands of books mainly in London. These works went out into the world and impacted a generation. It was not uncommon for even Calvinists to be reading Wesleyan books on theology or Bible commentaries. The works of Adam Clarke and Thomas Coke both were used by God to send forth sound Arminianism. Even Charles Spurgeon owned a well used copy of Clarke’s Bible commentary. The sermons of Wesley and Asbury were published and sent forth. The works of John Fletcher or Richard Watson were sold all over the world. It was a book by Daniel Whitby that led John Gill to write his book countering the rise in Arminianism.
My point here is that we do need Arminian books and Arminian publishers. I urge you to pray for this endeavor. Dr. Reasoner and the Fundamental Wesleyan Press is teaming up with a few other smaller Arminian publishers to seek to get out Arminian books. Pray that the Lord is glorified in this work. Pray for the finances to come forth for this work. Pray that solid biblical truth goes forth.
We in the West are nowhere near the persecution level of those living in Muslim nations or communist nations such as China or Vietnam. We know little to no physical attacks here for the gospel. While I know a few open air preachers who have been arrested for preaching and have been physically attacked by people, most people just go through their day-to-day lives without fear of attack for their Christian faith. That may change in the future but for now, we enjoy only verbal persecution from the secular media and from the liberals on college campuses.
I do believe, however, that the house church movement will become a dominant force in the Christian culture in the coming years. It is the house church movement that has sustained (by the grace of God) the disciples in China. It is the house church movement that sustained the saints of God in the former communist Soviet Union. It is the house church movement that is growing in Europe as people grow tired of the institutional church and are looking elsewhere for true faith. It will be the house churches in the United States that will see growth and souls saved as they remain steadfast in the Word of God.
Why will this be? For several reasons but let me just name a few.
1. Authentic Faith.
House churches offer a place for people to live out their faith with others. There is no hiding here. You can just show up at a traditional church and no one may even know you are there or even care in some cases. Not so with house churches. A “large” house church would be over 10 people so you can’t hide. We will know your name. We know your life. We will both disciple and challenge you in your faith. This, I believe, was the model of Jesus and should be ours as well. True discipleship is not learning from a book or sitting in a class. True discipleship is taking the “one another” texts of the New Testament and seeking to obey them (there are 52 in the NT). This leads to authentic faith and not merely a show on the stage of many traditional churches.
2. No Money.
House churches need no money. There are no salaried pastors. No land to buy. No buildings to pay for. While house churches do sometimes take up money for missions or for hurting Christians, house churches have no budgets to meet, no bills to pay. I once read that 75% of money in the traditional churches goes toward salaries and buildings. None of that is found in house churches. If a disciple wants to give money to their church then so be it. The house church would then take the money and give it to help church planters (missionaries) or hurting disciples. This is the NT pattern.
Many people reject going to church because of the emphasis they perceive on money. With the false “health and wealth” churches and the so-called “prosperity” gospel, many are turned off to Christianity because of their false teachers. The house church movement doesn’t want your money.
3. Can Move Around Quickly.
The house churches in China are said to move around quickly. They do this to avoid arrest. I have heard the same of the few house churches in North Korea. Because house churches are not locked down to a building, they don’t need government approval to meet nor do they have to meet all the time in one place. House churches in China often will meet several times a week at different locations to accommodate the needs of the saints. They don’t just meet on the Lord’s Day.
Here in the United States, traditional churches are locked down in their buildings. They need people to generate money for their buildings to pay the bills. At times, the gospel can be watered down and pragmatism reigns as traditional pastors need people to keep coming to pay the bills. Further, traditional churches fall under the watchful eye of the government. As freedom falls in the West, traditional churches will suffer the most as people flee them.
The house church movement will thrive at this point with no buildings, no bills, no salaries, no paper trails, no 501C3.
4. Can Preach What They Want To.
Traditional churches will no doubt face sensor from the government. It may come a time where it is illegal to preach against sins such as homosexuality (it will be viewed as discrimination or gender bigotry). The government will monitor the traditional church (as they do in China). Traditional churches will have to comply or be gone.
House churches will continue to preach the gospel without hinderance. Why? Because what can they take from us but our lives (Philippians 1:21)? Jesus promised us persecution as His followers (Matthew 5:10-12). Jesus said that if we are His disciples, we will face persecution and hatred (John 15:18-20). But He told us to be encouraged for He has overcome the world (John 16:33). In the house churches, we will preach the gospel. We have no 501c3 you can take. We have no buildings you can cast us out of. We have no salaries that require that we go soft on the gospel for the sake of money. We have no need of this world to survive. We have the Word of God and the presence of the Holy Spirit so we will be fine.
For more information on the house church movement, please see:
The first point of the five points from FACTS is “freed by God’s grace.” This has to do with the doctrine of prevenient grace by which the sinner is able to believe the gospel and to be saved and yet the Spirit frees the sinner so that the decision by the sinner is the free will choice of the sinner.
Arminians believe, as Calvinists do, that the sinner is bound in their sins. We agree with our Calvinist brethren that sinners are dead in their sins (Ephesians 2:1) and that apart from the grace of God, none could be saved (John 6:44). Romans 3:10-18 establishes point by point the nature of our depravity. There is nothing in us that is not effected by our sinfulness. Our minds, our hearts, our will, our speech – all this is bound in our sins. We are depraved. We are sinful.
A better term than “total depravity” would be “total inability.” The sinner is totally unable to come to salvation apart from the intervention of God. We do not love God. We don’t want to serve God. We don’t even see our need for salvation apart from the grace of God opening our eyes to our sinfulness. The entire work of salvation is a work of grace. Regeneration in both Arminianism and Calvinism is a work of God, a monergistic work by God alone (John 3:3; Titus 3:5).
Arminius affirmed total inability. He wrote:
In this state, the free will of man towards the true good is not only wounded, maimed, infirm, bent, and weakened; but it is also imprisoned, destroyed, and lost. And its powers are not only debilitated and useless unless they be assisted by grace, but it has no powers whatever except such as are excited by Divine grace. For Christ has said, “Without me ye can do nothing.” St. Augustine, after having diligently meditated upon each word in this passage, speaks thus: “Christ does not say, without me ye can do but Little; neither does He say, without me ye can do any Arduous Thing, nor without me ye can do it with difficulty. But he says, without me ye can do Nothing! Nor does he say, without me ye cannot complete any thing; but without me ye can do Nothing.” That this may be made more manifestly to appear, we will separately consider the mind, the affections or will, and the capability, as contra-distinguished from them, as well as the life itself of an unregenerate man.
However, despite agreeing that we are dead in our sins, that our wills are held captive by sin and only the grace of God can set the sinner free, Arminius went on to write that God’s grace enables the sinner to believe. He wrote:
“What then, you ask, does free will do? I reply with brevity, it saves. Take away FREE WILL, and nothing will be left to be saved. Take away GRACE, and nothing will be left as the source of salvation. This work [of salvation] cannot be effected without two parties — one, from whom it may come: the other, to whom or in whom it may be wrought. God is the author of salvation. Free will is only capable of being saved. No one, except God, is able to bestow salvation; and nothing, except free will, is capable of receiving it.”
Certainly the Arminian position is that salvation is all of grace (Acts 15:11; Ephesians 2:8-9). Romans 11:6 is clear that salvation is not by works but by grace! Good works cannot obtain salvation because they are often tainted by our sinfulness (Isaiah 64:6). If good works could save, how many good works must one do to be saved? If God requires perfection to be in His presence, who can boast that they are ever perfect save the Son of God? Scripture is clear that we are sinners (Romans 3:23) but Scripture is also clear that Jesus alone is perfect (Hebrews 4:15; 7:26; 1 Peter 2:22; 1 John 3:5). 2 Corinthians 5:21 tells us that Christ shed His blood for us, for our sins, and He bore our sins on the cross. Jesus was the sinless sacrifice for our sins. He was the absolutely perfect sacrifice that secures our eternal salvation!
Yet God does not force people to believe. Because of our sinfulness, the Holy Spirit opens our eyes to our need for salvation through the gospel (2 Thessalonians 2:13-14). The Spirit brings conviction of sin (John 16:8) and He exposes our wicked hearts to the gospel truth that Jesus shed His blood for our sins (John 3:16). The Spirit thus does His work of grace in us so that the freed will of the sinner can believe and be saved.
Arminius wrote about the work of the Spirit in bringing repentance:
Because, after the gate of grace has by the just judgment of God been closed on account of a malicious continuance in sins, no passage is open for the Spirit, who is necessarily the author of repentance. Therefore let these words always resound in our ears, “Today if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts.” (Heb. iii, 7, 8; Psalm xcv, 7, 8.) And this exhortation of the Apostle, “Workout your own salvation with fear and trembling: for it is God who worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure,” (Phil. ii, 12, 13.) May this be graciously granted to us by God the Father of mercies, in the Son of his love, by the Holy Spirit of both of them. To whom be praise and glory forever. Amen.
Arminius affirmed that the work of salvation is the work of God’s grace through the ministry of the Holy Spirit. Arminius wrote about this saving grace:
In reference to Divine Grace, I believe, 1. It is a gratuitous affection by which God is kindly affected towards a miserable sinner, and according to which he, in the first place, gives his Son, “that whosoever believers in him might have eternal life,” and, afterwards, he justifies him in Christ Jesus and for his sake, and adopts him into the right of sons, unto salvation. 2. It is an infusion (both into the human understanding and into the will and affections,) of all those gifts of the Holy Spirit which appertain to the regeneration and renewing of man — such as faith, hope, charity, &c.; for, without these gracious gifts, man is not sufficient to think, will, or do any thing that is good. 3. It is that perpetual assistance and continued aid of the Holy Spirit, according to which He acts upon and excites to good the man who has been already renewed, by infusing into him salutary cogitations, and by inspiring him with good desires, that he may thus actually will whatever is good; and according to which God may then will and work together with man, that man may perform whatever he wills.
The Arminian position then is that we are saved by the grace of God alone, through faith alone, by the work of Christ alone, to the glory of God alone. This gospel comes through the preaching of the inerrant, infallible Word of God. The gospel is the power of God unto salvation (Romans 1:16-17) and sinners need to hear the gospel to be saved (Romans 10:14-17). The name of Jesus alone saves (Acts 4:12) and He alone is the meditator before God for sinners (1 Timothy 2:5-6). Sinners are commanded to repent and believe the gospel (Mark 1:15-16; Acts 2:38; 3:19-20; 17:30-31). This salvation is the work of God from beginning to end.
One of the reasons that Calvinism has become popular in our day probably has a lot to do with pastor worship above Bible study. I am convinced that many of the “new” Calvinists (the so-called “young, restless, and Reformed”) are convinced of Calvinism not because they actually read Calvin or Arminius and not because they actually took the time to seriously consider Arminianism but because of pastor worship. Calvinism has a bunch of “cool” pastors and this has caught the eye of the young.
The names of the pastors that Calvinists worship can be long. John MacArthur. John Piper. RC Sproul. James White. Matt Chandler. Mark Driscoll. Tim Keller. CJ Mahaney. Joshua Harris. Sam Storms. Wayne Grudem. Many of these men are godly men indeed and I am not attacking them. I am attacking the worship of these men. I often get asked to name top Arminian preachers and top Arminian theologians and we have had our John Wesley’s, our EM Bound’s, our Leonard Ravenhill’s, our Francis Asbury’s. We have had our pastors that we elevated and we Arminians have been guilty of lifting up men as well. Yet modern Arminianism doesn’t have the superstars that Calvinism currently has. Perhaps that will change but for now, I am grateful that we don’t have superstar pastors.
Scripture does teach us to acknowledge godly men (see 1 Timothy 5:17; Hebrews 13:7). Biblical leaders are to be servants (Matthew 20:26-27; 1 Peter 5:1-4). Biblical leaders are not to be superstars.
In Acts 3 Peter the Apostle could have focused the attention on himself after the Lord used him to do a great healing. Yet Peter cries out in Acts 3:12-16:
12 And when Peter saw it he addressed the people: “Men of Israel, why do you wonder at this, or why do you stare at us, as though by our own power or piety we have made him walk? 13 The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, the God of our fathers, glorified his servant Jesus, whom you delivered over and denied in the presence of Pilate, when he had decided to release him. 14 But you denied the Holy and Righteous One, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, 15 and you killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses. 16 And his name—by faith in his name—has made this man strong whom you see and know, and the faith that is through Jesus has given the man this perfect health in the presence of you all.
The focus was clearly to be on the Lord Jesus.
In 1 Corinthians 3:5-9 Paul the Apostle wrote:
5 What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. 6 I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. 7 So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. 8 He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor. 9 For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field, God’s building.
Who is Apollos? Who is Paul? In our day, they would be superstars. Yet Paul clearly wants the focus to be on God alone. After all, it is God alone who saves!
I could name many godly men who have spoken into my life. Some of them are godly Calvinists. Some of them are godly Arminians. Yet in the end my focus must be on the Lord. Flesh will let you down (Jeremiah 17:5). The closer I have got over the years to other godly men the more I realize that we all need Christ. Not one of us have arrived. We all still struggle to be like Christ. Some of us are further up the road than others and we should rejoice in that but our focus must be on Christ. Christ must be our gospel. Pastors and church leaders will never save one soul. All of them are just like us: sinners redeemed by grace.
If Arminianism does see a future growth, I pray that it will be because we proclaim Christ. In fact, I don’t even want to make Arminians. I want to make disciples of Christ (Matthew 28:19). Arminius needed Jesus just as Calvin did. Our faith is in Jesus and not in the doctrines of Arminius. It is saving faith in Jesus that saves (Romans 5:1) and not faith in Arminius.
For my Calvinist friends, I pray that same for you. I pray that your faith is not in Calvin or Spurgeon or MacArthur but in Jesus alone. Jesus saves sinners and not Calvinists or Arminians (Ephesians 2:8-9; 1 Timothy 1:15). Jesus redeems those who call upon His name (Romans 10:13) and not merely those who use the term Calvinist.
Our faith must not be in men for they will fail. Our faith must be in Christ alone. He alone is our mediator before a holy God (1 Timothy 2:5-6). Christ alone is the one who is praying for me before the Father (Hebrews 7:25) and not Arminius. When I die, it will not be the names of great church leaders who will rescue me from the wrath to come but the Lord Jesus (1 Thessalonians 1:10). It is the name of Jesus that alone saves (Acts 4:12).
Let us all pray, both Arminians and Calvinists, for the name of Jesus and His gospel to be proclaimed. Let us declare that Jesus alone and not Arminius or Calvin or Wesley or Augustine is our Savior. In the end, every knee will bow to the Lordship of Jesus Christ (Psalm 110:1; Philippians 2:5-11). I will bow my knee now.
Why do homosexuals want same-sex “marriage” to be legal? Most homosexuals have been content to just live out their lives without marriage. One poll I read from said that less than 5% of homosexuals ever get “married” to their same-sex partner. Most are content to abide in their relationships while recognizing that, in reality, only a man and a woman can legally get married. There is no such thing as marriage “equality” and people know this.
That has now all changed. Our culture is quickly moving to make same-sex “marriage” a part of our society. Those who oppose same-sex “marriage” are said to be bias, old fashioned, a bigot, a homophobe. Everyone is being ordered to not just allow for same-sex “marriage” but the drum beat from the culture is that it is to be celebrated. If someone declares they are a homosexual, we are not to merely remain silent on the issue but should rejoice in their lifestyle.
And that is the bottom line issue of same-sex “marriage.” Our culture is seeking to redefine marriage in order to legitimize the sin of homosexuality. Our culture wants to legitimize not just that sin but others as well including lying, greed, stealing, polygamy, adultery, incest, pride, and even pedophilia. Nothing is out of the range of redefinition.
And why is this happening? First, the Church has failed to preach the gospel. The Church has been focused on numbers and the seeker movement has produced a church void of truth. The teaching of the Bible has been replaced with pop psychology. Theology has been replaced with “application” teaching and “cool and relevant” teaching. Prayer has been replaced with programs. Evangelism has been replaced with making the “unchurched” feel welcomed. Words have replaced power. As the Church has become lukewarm, lacking in the presence of God, and focused on numbers instead of faithfulness to God, the result has been churches full of people but lacking in true disciples. False converts are everywhere! This has caused the Church to not be able to address social ills and questions with the authority of the Word of God. How can she when she has been playing harlotry with the world itself?
Secondly, the sins of homosexuality, adultery, lying, greed, etc. will not go away simply because society claims they are not sins. The fact remains that the human conscience knows that these are sins. Romans 1:18 says that people seek to suppress the truth because they love their unrighteousness. When people reject God, God gives them over to their sins which includes the acceptance by culture of sin (Romans 1:28). People love their sins whether it be sexual perversions or their greed or their false religions. People know they are guilty before a holy God because there is enough of the Law of God in our society still to convict but the culture wants to suppress the truth and, in their minds, end their guilt they feel for their sins. If the culture can remove Christianity, they feel that their sins will no longer convict them and they can live in complete wickedness without guilt. This will never happen.
Thirdly, the Church has failed to preach faithfulness in biblical marriages. Far too long we have tolerated unbiblical relationships to exist. We must preach the truth of God’s Word about marriage. God hates divorce (Malachi 2:16 NKJV). God’s Word has presented us with biblical marriages and we must obey the texts (Ephesians 5:22-33). True marriage pictures Christ and His Church. We have tolerated marriages that are below God’s standard. We must repent of this and pray for the Spirit to repair our marriages. Homosexuals look at traditional marriages and they are able to show so many ungodly, unbiblical marriages. Divorce among Christians is high (not as high as some would suggest) but we must preach against divorce and preach forgiveness, reconciliation, and the biblical roles of men and women in marriage. I myself had to endure my own parents divorce and despite this happening when I was already an adult, it is not something I want to endure again.
The response from the Church must be the same as always: the preaching of the gospel. Homosexuals, adulterers, liars, pedafiles, rapists, perverts, drunkards, the greedy, those in false religions, etc. all need the gospel. Paul makes it clear that God is able to save such sinners in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11. Sinners need the gospel! Our culture is full of sin and thus now is the time for the Church to preach the gospel. Paul wrote in Romans 5:20-21:
20 Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, 21 so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Notice that where sin increased, grace abounded all the more! The gospel is the answer for our society. Now is not the time for the Church to conform to the culture and simply allow for homosexuality to become normalized. We must preach against all sins! We must stand firm on the Word of God even if the culture rejects us (and they will for the sake of their sins). The Bible is able to cut people to the heart (Hebrews 4:12-13) even if the culture rejects the Bible. The Bible is a supernatural book written by the Spirit of God (2 Timothy 3:16-17) and therefore the Spirit is able to open sinners hearts to the Word of God as we are faithful to proclaim its truth. Let us pray for sinners to hear the Word of God and be saved (2 Thessalonians 2:13-14).
I have been enjoying the lively debate over at the Society of Evangelical Arminians site on the issue of inclusive and exclusive positions of the gospel. Kevin Jackson from Wesleyan Arminian wrote a good piece defending the inclusive position and the response by Brendan Burnett. You can find the first post here and the response here.
While I will not rehash the arguments Kevin gives nor the response that Brendan gives, I will add my own two cents worth.
First, I take serious the words of Christ in all four Gospels to take the gospel to all the nations (Matthew 28:19; Mark 16:15; Luke 24:47-48; John 20:21). Acts 1:8 likewise commands the disciples to take the gospel to all nations. This is a serious command of our Lord and not to be taken lightly. The fact is that the Church is to take the gospel out. Sadly, in our day, many want to have the world come to us. The reality is that the gospel is to be preached to all nations. This command of Jesus is vital if in fact Jesus is the only way to the Father and the gospel must be heard and believed for people to saved.
Secondly, 1 Timothy 4:10 implies that Christ is the Savior of all men but especially of those who believe. Adam Clarke writes, “[God] has provided salvation for the whole human race, and has freely offered it to them in His Word and by His Spirit. What God intends for all He actually gives to them that believe in Christ.” Christ shed His blood for all men but only those who appropriate His blood through faith are saved (Romans 3:24-25).
Thirdly, Romans 10:14-17 implies the necessity of the preaching of the gospel for people to be saved. Romans 10:17 specifically calls for saving faith to be acted through the preaching of Christ. As Clarke again writes, “Preaching the gospel is the ordinary means of salvation; faith in Christ is the result of hearing the word, the doctrine of God preached.”
Fourthly, 1 Timothy 2:4 implies that the will of God is for the salvation of all but 1 Timothy 2:5-6 is clear that Christ alone is our mediator before God. Paul the Apostle goes on in verse 7 to say that this is why he was appointed to preach the gospel to the Gentiles thus implying that their only hope was Christ.
And lastly, I believe the Bible is serious about the issue of sin. It is not merely ignorance about God that keeps people from Him. It is our sins. In fact, Romans 1:18 says that our sins bring the wrath of God and Romans 1:20 says that people are without excuse. The fact is that we love our sins and we love our depravity. Apart from the work of the Spirit, none of us would or could be saved. We are simply too sinful to seek a holy God. Instead, humanity seeks false gods of their own creations. The gospel alone is able to break the power of our sins and bring peace with God (John 6:44).
I know these are short thoughts. I hope I am not demeaning Kevin in this post. He is a good brother. I was pondering this issue this morning and just wanted to jot these downs. Two books to read on this issue are: Faith Comes by Hearing and Eternity In Their Hearts.
South Carolina lost a football game Saturday night to Kentucky. 45-38. The score does not show the game. South Carolina dominated the Wildcats. The Gamecocks had over 500 yards of offense but the problem was the defense (as it has been all year). The Gamecocks could not stop the same play over and over and over again. The Wildcats ran the “wildcat” where a running back sets up in the shotgun and simply takes the snap and runs this way or that. The Gamecocks defense had no answer and in the end the Wildcats won the game on the heels of the “wildcat” play and a pick six of our quarterback.
This loss left the Gamecocks at 3-3. South Carolina has only lost a total of 6 games the past three years. I fear that the Gamecocks will lose 6 to 7 games this year. South Carolina should beat Furman and South Alabama but will struggle against Tennessee (a bad Vols team) and Florida (a bad Gators team) and will lose to Clemson (I dread even typing that). South Carolina has won 5 straight games against our rivals, Clemson, but this is looking like their year this year.
For Gamecock fans, the loss to Kentucky hurt. Kentucky is a basketball school. They are a bottom dwelling SEC team. Back in the late 1990’s, Hal Mumme had the Wildcats throwing all over the place and even landed Tim Couch (who became the first #1 pick for the Cleveland Browns in their return to the NFL). The Gamecocks lost to Kentucky a bunch in the 1990’s but then came the 2000’s and the Gamecocks dominated the Cats. South Carolina won 10 straight games against Kentucky before they upset the Gamecocks in 2010. South Carolina is not Kentucky. South Carolina has won 11 games three straight seasons and Kentucky has never won 11 games in their program’s history. Kentucky is down there with Vanderbilt in our minds and history proves it.
So the loss hurts because South Carolina has not been Kentucky. But this year we are.
Before 2010, South Carolina had always been a mediocre program. I sat through the 1998-1999 seasons when we went 1-10 and 0-11. We beat New Mexico State to open the 2000 season to snap the nation’s longest losing streak and our fans tore down the goalposts. A week later South Carolina upset #9 Georgia 21-10 against Heisman hopeful Quincy Carter and our fans once again tore down the goalposts. South Carolina went on to have 8-4 and 9-3 seasons in 2000 and 2001 with back to back wins over Ohio State in the Outback Bowl. And then mediocrity kicked in again. South Carolina struggled to 5-7, 5-7, and 5-7 seasons the next three years. Under Lou Holtz we had some improvement but failed to beat the “orange” teams (Florida, Tennessee, and Clemson). South Carolina beat Clemson in 2001 but would not again until 2006.
Now to document the level of mediocrity, South Carolina beat Clemson in 1987, 1991, 1994, 1996, 2001, and 2006 before the Gamecocks pounded Clemson from 2009-2013. Five wins in a row compared to five wins in about 20 years against Clemson. South Carolina, under Steve Spurrier, has beat Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama (who was #1 then), and Clemson multiple times. South Carolina has beat Nebraska, Michigan, and Wisconsin in three straight bowl games. South Carolina played Auburn for the SEC title in 2010 (a loss to Cam Newton led Tigers who won the national championship that year) and was in the top 25 for 62 straight polls before falling out this year. The Gamecocks have produced NFL talent including the number 1 pick for the Houston Texans this year in Clowney.
Needless to say, we have been spoiled. We are not use to 3 loses. But we have short memories. In 2009 South Carolina ended the season at 7-5 with a win over a favored Clemson team. They turned around and lost to Connecticut in a minor bowl. I was just happy with the win over Clemson. That was the life of a Gamecock fan back in those days. I was happy to just go to a meaningless bowl game but was very happy we beat Clemson. In 2008 we had ended with a loss to Clemson and was destroyed by Iowa in the Outback Bowl. I was happier with the 2009 results than the 2008 results.
I remember just hoping South Carolina would win 6 or 7 games. I remember being happy when South Carolin won 10 games in 1984. That year the Gamecocks had risen to #2 in the polls and had the chance to be the first (and still only) #1 team in the polls but lost to Navy (yes Navy!). They finished 10-1 and faced Barry Sanders and Oklahoma State in the Gator Bowl. South Carolina lost 21-14. Until 2011, South Carolina had never won more than 10 games and only once (1984) had won 10 games. The Gamecocks won 11 games in 2011, 2012, and 2013 when they had never won more than 11 games in the program’s history!
Until 1994, South Carolina was 0-8 all time in bowl games. They beat West Virginia in the Carquest Bowl to snap their losing streak. They would not win again until 2001.
My point in all this is that South Carolina has long been a tough place for success. Steve Spurrier has brought the most success in our program’s history. He has done so mainly with good defenses (which we don’t have this year) and a solid running game. South Carolina will struggle this year and I fear that Spurrier will retire (though his pride probably won’t let that happen as he will want to go out with a big year). This has been a rough season so far but South Carolina fans should remember the past and realize that this program once lived and died in mediocrity.