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Monday, December 17, 2007

Poisoning the SBC Well

Tim Powell, over on Timmy Brister’s blog comments “Southern (Seminary) is churning out Calvinists left and right” he then adds “The church where I grew up… would NOT hire a Calvinist pastor, no matter what.” Tim then asks the question “do you think the churches that are out there will be able to take the pastors that their seminaries are putting out?”

Some are accusing our Seminaries of
“Indoctrinating” the next generation of Baptist Pastors with Calvinism… that our Seminaries are taking the non-Calvinist students that our Southern Baptist Churches are sending them and turning them into Calvinist. It may be true that some non-Calvinist students become Calvinist while at Seminary, but I imagine this has always been the case whenever young men are exposed to the serious study of the Scriptures. However, it is probably closer to the truth that a greater percent of Calvinist students from this generation are committing themselves to the ministry than in the previous generations, and therefore a greater percent of Calvinist are attending and graduating from our Seminaries than in the previous generations.

This fact should not, and would not, be an issue except for the fact that sadly many Anti-Calvinist in the SBC are guilty of “Poisoning the Well” that all Southern Baptist must drink from… by their false accusations and malice against Calvinist they have created a conundrum for themselves and all Southern Baptist in which the Churches of the previous generation of Southern Baptist will not have the current generation of Baptist Pastors, and the current generation of Baptist Pastors will not have the Baptist Churches of the previous generation.

Here is Wikipedia’s definition of the term “Poisoning the well”.

Poisoning the well is a
logical fallacy where adverse information about someone is pre-emptively presented to an audience, with the intention of discrediting or ridiculing everything that person is about to say. Poisoning the well is a special case of argumentum ad hominem. The term was first used with this sense [1] by John Henry Newman in his Apologia Pro Vita Sua [2].

This "argument" has the following form:

1. Unfavorable information (be it true or false) about person A is presented.
2. Therefore any claims person A makes will be false.


Before you listen to my opponent, may I remind you that he has been in jail.
Don't listen to what he says, he's a lawyer.
This is an argument between science and religion.

In general usage, poisoning the well is the provision of any information that may produce a biased result. For example, if a woman tells her friend, "I think I might buy this beautiful dress", then asks how it looks, she has "poisoned the well", as her previous comment could affect her friend's response.

Similarly, in written work, an inappropriate heading to a section or chapter can create pre-bias.

As an example:

The so-called "
Theory" of Relativity
We now examine the theory of relativity...

which has already "poisoned the well" to a balanced argument.

If, as a result of the poisoning of the well by the Anti-Calvinist within the SBC, a substantial number of our Southern Baptist Churches will not take the Calvinist Pastors that are graduating form our Seminaries (Southern is not the only Seminary that Calvinist are graduating from) then where will they go? And with many churches already having such a hard time finding well qualified Pastors where will they turn to in their search to fill their empty pulpits?

I believe I can answer the first question by saying that the next generation of Calvinistic Pastors, for the most part, have no desire to go to a church that does not want them… Instead what I see in these Pastors is a singular commitment, which is unmatched in church history, to planting new Churches that are both “Calvinistic” and “Baptist”. Did the Anti-Calvinist really think that when these young reformed Pastors (who are Passionate about the Sovereignty of God, Committed to the Sufficiency of the Scriptures and Unafraid of the Consequences) were rejected by these churches, where the water has been poisoned against Calvinist, that they were just going to walk away from their calling and go sell used cars?

As to the question of where those churches who reject these Pastors because they are Calvinist will find men to fill their empty pulpits in the years to come? I really have no idea… :-)

Grace Always,

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