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Posts Tagged ‘Southern Baptist Convention (SBC)

If I Pastored A Calvinist Church, I Would Resign

Dr. Roger Olsen recently wrote on what he called “stealth Calvinism” where pastors have been taking church positions (mainly in Baptist churches but others as well) but not telling the church that they were Reformed only later to introduce Calvinism through both the pulpit and by leadership.  I have witnessed this myself at two Baptist churches.  Both of them were Southern Baptist and both elected pastors whom did not tell their congregations that they were Reformed Baptists.  They simply affirmed the SBC statement of faith and moved on.  Later, however, they begin to teach classes on theology in which they introduced and indoctrinated the church into Calvinism.  They appointed various pastors (such as youth pastor and music leader) who likewise were trained at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville which is a Calvinist seminary.  The church slowly but surely became a Reformed Baptist church though never leaving the SBC.

Some Calvinists I know don’t have a problem with this.  After all, the SBC embraces both Calvinists and non-Calvinists (though they are truly Arminians but refuse to be labeled Arminians over fear of rejection) and many evangelical denominations such as the Assemblies of God are seeing a rise in Calvinistic pastors and leaders.  One Calvinist brother pointed out that Dr. John MacArthur took over Grace Community Church in 1969 and it was largely a Methodist leaning church with strong Arminian ties.  MacArthur broke those ties and today Grace Community Church is a bastion of Calvinism.

What I don’t appreciate about all this is that it seems to me to be lying.  If I were pastoring a Calvinist church, I would resign because I am not a Calvinist and don’t agree with Calvinism.  It is unfair and lying to try to pretend that I am Reformed in my theology.  I am not even close to being a Calvinist.  Could I preach the gospel in a Calvinist church?  Certainly.  But could I openly try to be a leader in a Calvinist church?  I could not and I would not.  I will not hide who I am nor will I hide my Arminianism.  It is part of me and comes out in my teaching all the time.

Honesty is the best policy.  If you are honest, tell the church you are attending your theological views.  Tell them that you are not in agreement with them on this issue or that.  Don’t hide who you are.  I once had a friend who would not get ordained in a church because he rejected a core doctrine of that church.  He was told to just agree to the doctrinal statement on paper but preach what you like.  He could not do this and feel he was being honest before God.

If the church I was going to pastor was clearly a Calvinistic church or even leaned toward Calvinism, I would inform them that I was an Arminian and go with that.  If they still wanted me to come, that is another issue.  I once had a large Baptist church call me about being their youth pastor (this was when I was younger and was in full-time youth ministry).  I talked to the pastor for a few minutes but informed him that I was not a Baptist, was an Arminian, and could not come to his church and hold to some of his doctrines (particularly the doctrine of eternal security).  He was gracious toward me and we parted ways though I prayed with him before he ended the call, that God would lead the church to the man they needed. (Ironically they selected a charismatic Baptist who didn’t tell them he was charismatic and led the youth group into the charismatic movement).

We need honesty from leaders.  After all, Hebrews 13:7 says that we are to “consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith.”  Could I ask someone to imitate my faith if in fact I was not being honest about my faith?  Leaders are to be “above reproach” (1 Timothy 3:2) and lying is not above reproach.  Not fully revealing who you are is not “above reproach.”  Telling people what they want to hear just so you get a job and then introducing what you truly believe later on is not “above reproach.”

I don’t doubt that some pastors feel they cannot resign.  Where can they go?  I still say that honesty and a pure heart before God is more important than your position.  Where is your faith in God?  Where is your faith that if you are honest before the Lord and honest before people that He may not bless you?  Faithfulness to God is more important that a paycheck that you are lying to collect.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

08/11/2014 at 12:48 AM

The SBC & Calvinism

Many Calvinists have already been blogging and tweeting about the SBC report on Calvinism and non-Calvinism within the SBC.  I applaud the work headed by Dr. Frank Page (a non-Calvinist SBC pastor) in this statement.  You can find the statement here.  I believe that it is possible for both non-Calvinist SBC members and leaders to work with their fellow SBC members and leaders who are Calvinistic.  God can use both.  I consider the friendship of John Wesley (Arminian) and George Whitefield (Calvinist) and yet God used them powerfully for His glory.  

I pray that the SBC would see a mighty revival from men and women of God standing firm for His truth.  The gospel and not Calvinism nor Arminianism is the message that saves sinners (Romans 1:16-17).  

Written by The Seeking Disciple

05/31/2013 at 10:04 PM

Would Calvinists Like To See the SBC Become Reformed?

I am not a Southern Baptist but I have many friends who are.  I live in an area of the United States (the South) where the joke around here is that there are more Southern Baptists than there are people.  We also joke that the home missions department of the SBC are church splits.  I know of one SBC church nearby that is splitting and have known others in the past.  While some of them split over petty issues (one church split over a gym), some split over the issue of Calvinism.  In the SBC you have two main colleges (Southern Seminary in Louisville and Southeastern in Wake Forest, NC) that are very Calvinistic while Southwestern in Fort Worth, TX is non-Calvinist.  In the middle are schools such as Charleston Southern who is in need of evangelism.

The SBC is the largest Protestant denomination in the United States.  In the South, the SBC dominates.  First Baptist is typically the largest church in many cities and towns.  The SBC dominates the church life in the South.  The SBC sometimes dominates even in politics in the South.  Yet the SBC is neither Calvinistic nor Arminian.  It is sort of a hybrid with both often found in the denomination.  I know of several SBC pastors and a few of them are reformed in their theology and follow Dr. Albert Mohler from Southern Seminary.  Others are non-Calvinists (they would avoid being labeled Arminians though they are) and follow men such as Johnny Hunt or Jerry Vines.  Dr. Vines, as I noted in a previous post, sponsors the John 3:16 Conference and features various SBC pastors who are not Calvinists.  Dr. Mohler, on the other hand, preaches at many Calvinist Bible conferences himself and is a strong defender of Calvinism.  In passing, I enjoy the ministries of all those I have listed above.  While I disagree with Dr. Mohler on some issues, I find him to be a man of God who loves the Lord and has a deep knowledge of God’s Word.  I likewise appreciate men such as Jerry Vines or Ronnie Floyd who are not Calvinists and would preach and sound very Arminian (and in fact are Arminians if they took the test at the Society of Evangelical Arminians site).

My question here is whether reformed guys would love to see the SBC become a Calvinist church or would they prefer it remain as it is.  I would think that most would want the SBC to adopt Calvinism as some hold that Calvinism is the pure gospel.  Others would point to the history of the Baptists and would say that historically speaking, the Baptists were reformed in their theology for many years before Arminianism made in-roads into the church.  Many would point to great Baptist preachers such as Charles Spurgeon and the fact that he was a Calvinist as proof that the Baptist church should be Calvinistic.

I myself would like to see the SBC remain as she is.  I believe that the debate in the SBC over Calvinism is needed.  It provides the church a place to work together despite our disagreements.  If the SBC can accomplish this, I would be proud.  However, one person said that an oxymoron is truly “Baptist fellowship.”  Can Arminians and Calvinists work together for missions, for church planting, for the gospel?  I would hope so.  As I have said before, neither is the gospel.  They may help us understand the gospel but neither system is the gospel that saves sinners.  Jesus alone saves sinners (1 Timothy 1:15).  I would love to see the SBC become a place of unity, where Christ is preached and glorified.  I pray this happens.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

04/26/2013 at 10:00 AM

The Frustrating Aspect of Eternal Security

I live in the South here in the United States.  The old joke is that there are more Southern Baptists than there are people.  Just as everyone in Italy belongs to the Roman Catholic Church, everyone in the South belongs to the Southern Baptist.  The SBC dominates the church world here.  Even our bookstores are mainly Lifeway Christian Stores which is owned and operated by the SBC.  Most of the students I went to college with were SBC.  Many of my professors were SBC.  By the way, SBC stands for “the Southern Baptist Convention.”

The down side of this is that because the SBC is so large, many backsliders and pagans think that because they grew up in the SBC hearing the gospel and many of them being baptized in SBC churches, they are ready for heaven.  Someone along the way taught them the SBC doctrine of eternal security and the rest is history.  I have friends who embraced sinful lifestyles and have turned away from Jesus completely but they still believe they will go to heaven when they die because they are “once saved, always saved” no matter what their lifestyle may say.

I have had friends make sinful decisions because of their belief in eternal security.  I know of two men who both chose to indulge their sinful flesh in immorality and both embraced “once saved, always saved” as a cushion for their sins.

Now, to be fair, many SBC pastors and theologians would admit that those above have misunderstood the doctrine.  The doctrine is based on a person being a true Christian.  Within the SBC, however, you’ll find three groups.  First are the theologians who teach that a person was never saved to begin with if they turn to a life of sin.  They base this on 1 John 2:19 which I believe has false teachers in view in relation to the apostles teachings.  This group would teach the more Reformed Calvinistic teaching of “perseverance of the saints” which teaches that those whom God has saved will persevere because God grants His elect the faith and grace to continue.  The second group would be those who teach the Charles Stanley view of eternal security and that is that you are saved at the moment of saving faith period no matter what you do from there.  God gives you eternal life and that is it.  Eternal life is a gift from God that He never takes back no matter what.  Stanley’s book, Eternal Security: Can You Be Sure?, is where you should start if you want to understand his views.  His views are very troubling to me.  I see nothing in them but an excuse for living in sin and indulging the flesh all in the name of Christ.  Holiness is optional despite passages such as Matthew 5:48 or Hebrews 12:14 or 1 Peter 1:15-16.  Warning passages such as Hebrews 6:4-20 or 10:19-39 or 2 Peter 1:1-22 are ignored or twisted.  The third group is a minority who deny eternal security and teach the Arminian view of conditional salvation based on perseverance in the faith.  Most of these either leave the SBC or adopt the standard SBC view of “once saved, always saved.”

Now what is frustrating to me about all this is that some pastors honestly believe that when they teach on eternal security to their people they are teaching not just God’s Word but are honoring Him as Lord through the process.  It seems they never bother asking themselves the question, “Am I giving people a reason to sin?”  If any teaching allows for continued sinning, it should be thrown out.  How can we preach “continued sinning” when passages such as Romans 6:1-4 or Galatians 5:16-24 or Hebrews 10:19-39 or 1 John 2:3-6; 3:6-10 are all against such teachings?  To tell people that they are eternally secure and that nothing they can do can separate them from the love of God (even disobedience against Him to His face), what are they teaching if not “you can live in sin and get away with it?”

On a more practical level, eternal security is frustrating as well because I engage people in evangelism and they falsely believe they will go to heaven because of “once saved, always saved.”  Many of the teenagers I have spoken with don’t believe you need to be holy, seek God, read and study the Word of God, forsake sin, repent of your sins, etc. because they have believed that once you say a prayer, you are sealed forever with God.  I have evangelized men trapped in porn who have no problem with their sin because they have believed that they are forever loved by God despite their outright indulging of their flesh.  I have even met former pastors who claim to be eternally secure despite now living in sin with their live in girlfriend.

I understand the hunger for assurance of our salvation.  Eternal security often is presented in that way.  You can know that you are forever saved and this is how: once saved, always saved.  There is a level of assurance there not found even in the Reformed teaching of perseverance of the saints.  The Reformed teacher says, “If you fail to persevere, you were never part of the elect to begin with.”  The Arminian teacher says, “If you fail to persevere, you committed apostasy.”  But the Charles Stanley, typical SBC view is, “Once saved, always saved.  Period.”  And for many, that is reassuring despite not being biblical.

For those wanting to read an interesting book about this subject, Amazon offers the book Security: The False and the True by Arminian theologian W.T Purkiser for free for the Kindle.  While a dated book, it does offer good insights into what is true security that we do have in Jesus and what is false.  To me, to teach a person can live in sin and remain forever a child of God is ignoring far too many biblical passages, waters down those on holiness, and makes the cross of Christ ineffective in dealing a death-blow to sin in our hearts (Galatians 2:20; 3:13-14; 6:14).

Written by The Seeking Disciple

04/24/2012 at 5:43 PM

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