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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Lords of the SBC

This post is an attempt to name the twenty (20) most influential people in the SBC. This is not a “mud slinging post”, and I am not saying that these individuals are bad people… I am just looking to name those in the SBC today, like John A. Broadus of the past, who wield the most influence in the Convention.

I will start the list with the obvious names of Dr. Paige Patterson and Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr.

Who do you believe should be on the list?

  1. Dr. Paige Patterson, President, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary

  2. Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr., President, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

  3. ___________________________________________________

  4. ___________________________________________________

  5. ___________________________________________________

  6. ___________________________________________________

  7. ___________________________________________________

  8. ___________________________________________________

  9. ___________________________________________________

  10. ___________________________________________________

  11. ___________________________________________________

  12. ___________________________________________________

  13. ___________________________________________________

  14. ___________________________________________________

  15. ___________________________________________________

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  17. ___________________________________________________

  18. ___________________________________________________

  19. ___________________________________________________

  20. ___________________________________________________

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Prayer and the Doctrine of "Free Will".

(This post is taken from a conversation being held over on Wade Burleson's Blog)


Prayer is simply incompatible with the doctrine of “free will”.

Someone (I cannot remember who) once said; “We are all Calvinist on our knees.” If I am praying for God to save my child, I am asking God to violate his “free will”. It cannot be otherwise.

If I truly believe in the doctrine of “free will” then what exactly am I asking God to do for my child? Anything God does that will influence my child in the slightest way will be a violation of his “free will”. Anything God does that will influence the will of my child that he does not do for all children (no matter how small the influence) is an act of “Election”.

However, if I start with the understanding that the will is not free, but that the will of my unregenerate child is in bondage (a slave to sin) then that changes everything. Then my prayer to God for my child is that God will “free” the will of my child; so that my child may indeed, of his now “freed” will, choose to embrace the grace of God.

The best treatment of this subject is not Luther in ‘The bondage of the will’ but instead John Calvin’s ‘The Bondage and Liberation of the Will’, subtitled “A Defense of the Orthodox Doctrine of Human Choice against Pighius” published by Baker Academic. Notice that subtitle! Calvin is defending the doctrine of “Human Choice”.

If you do not have this book and you are an honest seeker of truth then I highly recommend you purchase it and read it with Bible and pen in hand. You can pruchase it from at the following link.

Grace Always,


Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Alcohol and the Authority of the Word

I recently received an email from a very articulate young Baptist Pastor who has a BA from Boyce College, an MDiv from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and is currently working on a Phd in OT at Southern. (I am withholding his name because this post is not about this young man; this post is about the honest questions he asked.)

Here is the email that I received:


I want you to know that I greatly appreciate your interest and interaction with our ________ blog. However, there is something that concerns me and I wanted to point it out to you.

All of your replies to my recollection involve one common theme, alcohol. Even posts that seem to have nothing to do with alcohol elicit responses from you about alcohol. I am curious as to why you are so concerned about this one issue that it consumes all of your posts? This almost seems to be a first tier issue for you.

I want to be clear that I don't believe the Bible supports a position that says that every drink of alcohol in every setting at any time is a sin. We might disagree on the wisdom of alcohol consumption in some cultures or settings but certainly the Bible doesn't condemn every sip of alcohol that one might take. With that said I'm still curious why this so big for you? Why are you so concerned to change the convention's view of alcohol? Why are you more concerned with that
than cooperation around missions, church planting and ecclesiology, training of ministers, etc?

Please help me to understand.

In Christ,

Xxx Xxxx

Greg Alford Replies:


Thanks for the email... I have enjoyed reading your articles on xxxxxxxxx blog lately.

What motivates the words and actions of others is indeed sometimes very hard to understand, so I will try and answer your question with as much honestly and clarity as I can…

I do not bring up the issue of alcohol in many of my comments because I often partake of alcoholic drinks. Quite the opposite is true… On rare occasions I will have a glass of wine with an evening meal, at the Christmas gathering with my family, or at a wedding.

Brother Xxx, with humility of spirit and abiding love for all things Southern Baptist… I often bring up this issue in the Southern Baptist Convention and the Florida Baptist Convention because I am greatly burdened to speak out.

God alone is qualified to give unto man the standard by which he should live and be judged. He has done this by means of his Holy Word, which alone is Sufficient for such a great task as this.

“The Holy Bible was written by men divinely inspired and is God's revelation of Himself to man. It is a perfect treasure of divine instruction. It has God for its author, salvation for its end, and truth, without any mixture of error, for its matter. Therefore, all Scripture is totally true and trustworthy. It reveals the principles by which God judges us, and therefore is, and will remain to the end of the world, the true center of Christian union, and the supreme standard by which all human conduct, creeds, and religious opinions should be tried. All Scripture is a testimony to Christ, who is Himself the focus of divine revelation.” – (Article I. BFM2000)

Now, the Southern Baptist Convention and the Florida Baptist Convention have set themselves up as the givers of the Law, and have condemned both God and Christ for their conduct…

Just a few points concerning wine:

• It was commanded of God to be given as an offering in the O.T.
• It is said in the O.T. to make glad both the heart of man and God.
• Jesus turned water into wine, (not Welch’s).
• Jesus and every single one of his disciples drank wine at the Last Supper.
• It is one of the two elements of communion (Is it proper to make substitutes for the Biblical pattern of any ordinance? Remember we Baptist will accept no substitutes for the Biblical patter of the ordinance of Baptism.)
• Jesus told his disciples that he would partake of wine with them in Heaven.

Xxx, I hope you can see my heart and great concern for my Southern Baptist Convention in this matter… If the Word of God is not “the supreme standard by which all human conduct, creeds, and religious opinions should be tried” then what is or “who” is? This is not a matter of opinion; it is nothing less than a matter of setting ourselves up as the supreme standard by which all human (and God’s) conduct should be tried… And that my friend is a very grievous sin indeed.

Greg Alford

Next Reply from Pastor Xxx:


I still am perplexed by your response. You spent most of your email defending a position that I already conceded was biblically defensible. My question is why is this such a huge issue for you. You think that someone who takes a teetotaler position is being anti-biblical or not trusting in the sufficiency of Scripture? Is this your concern? There are a lot of other issues that you could raise that bring into doubt our convention’s practical stance on the sufficiency of scripture, why this one and why so fervent? I never meant to imply with my email that you love alcohol or drink it a lot personally. It was just a question as to why you talk about it so often. I understand that the Bible doesn’t condemn all drinks of alcohol and has some good things to say about alcohol. Again, I stated that in the last email. I understand that your concern is that someone or something (i.e. SBC) is bypassing the Bible as the supreme standard with the various resolutions on alcohol. However, I do want to state that the issue might not be black and white. The Bible does have some clear warnings that it gives concerning alcohol and not just warnings about drunkenness (Proverbs for example). Are raising principles of being concerned for not seeing weaker brothers stumble from 1 Corinthians 8 and Romans 14 completely inadmissible here in your opinion? Again, I don’t want to get into an argument over alcohol, b/c as I said I don’t think a teetotaler position is mandated by the Scripture. I guess my question is why are you so “burdened” by this particular issue when there are others that could be brought up? What do you think it is about this particular issue that so burdens you?

Again, I appreciate you responding to my email. I am simply curious.

Xxx Xxxx

Greg Alford Replies:


Let me try again,

I do not think that someone who makes the personal decision to be a teetotaler is being anti-biblical or not trusting in the sufficiency of Scriptures at all. That is a personal choice and can be made for many valid reasons.

However, let me clearly say that I do think that it greatly questions the authority of Scriptures for anyone to insists (as John Sullivan has done in the Florida Baptist Convention) that all those who do not hold to the teetotaler position are unfit for service. To me the actions of John Sullivan and the Florida Baptist Convention are just as great an attack upon the Scriptures as any liberal has dared make in my lifetime.

One’s position on alcohol has become in some state conventions an extra-biblical litmus test used to exclude otherwise solid conservative Baptist from cooperation and service. And there is an ongoing effort to make this a policy throughout the SBC so that no one who does not hold a teetotaler position on alcohol can serve in any position in the convention at all………… That is why this is such a huge issue for me.

It really comes down to one simple question…

“Is the Bible our final authority or not?”

Grace Always,

Next Reply from Pastor Xxx:


I will think thru your response and I do sense this is a big issue for you because you think convention leaders are adding to the Bible.

However, Greg it is a gross overstatement to equate John Sullivan's policy or any state/national convention's policy on alcohol with liberals who have denied the resurrection, condoned homosexuality, etc. That is going way too far!


Greg Alford Replies:


Are you sure you are qualified to make the decision of just what is an acceptable denial of Biblical teaching and what is not?

For that matter, who among us "mortal men" is qualified to say one departure form what the Bible teaches is far worse than another? Who decides Xxx? Me? You? Who then?

No... there are no small departures from what the Bible teaches...


Next Reply from Pastor Xxx:


Yet you are making the decision to view all 'departures' the same. Who gave you that office? Honestly, I find it unfathomable that you would equate a position of not being in leadership because you think it is ok to drink alcohol with a denial of the resurrection. One of those departures is FAR worse. Denial of resurrection means a person is not a believer at all!

I appreciate you taking time to respond to each of my questions but at this point I will not continue the conversation further.


Greg Alford Replies:


Communicating by way of email is sometimes very difficult... It was not my intent to offend you in any way during this discussion... My questions in the last email were designed to stir you to think seriously about the issue of the authority of God's Word in the Southern Baptist Convention. If I have indeed offended you I do apologize and hope that we end our discussion as Brothers.


Next Reply from Pastor Xxx:


You did not offend me and certainly we will always conclude discussions ad brothers. All I meant by my final email was that we are absolutely called to make decisions about which departures of scripture are most heinous because some rise to the level of heresy and others only misinterpretation, misapplication, etc. Theological triage is important for all kinds of reasons having to do with levels of cooperation and so forth. I think Paul's words in Romans 14 and 1 Corinthians 8 imply that there might be issues of application we disagree on like alcohol and others that shouldn't matter as much, and yet 1 Corinthians 15 there are other issues like the resurrection that are life and death. I was not offended. I simply and vehemently disagree with you on comparing a stance on alcohol with a stance on the resurrection.

Also, we have had some kind exchanges but the truth is we are not getting anywhere with them. You believe one thing and I believe the other. I simply started the email exchange because I wanted to try and understand why this was hill to die on for you. I think I understand why and we will simply have to disagree that one's stance on alcohol reveals their confidence in scripture's sufficiency.

In terms of how to deal with the alcohol issue itself my dad is releasing a blog that I would encourage you to read. His view will be close to mine. At this point I just don't want to talk about alcohol anymore.

I do pray God's blessing on you, your family and your ministry. Thank you for taking the time to interact with me. I'm sure you're busy.

In Christ,

Xxx Xxxx

Greg Alford Replies:


I would agree that some departures from Scripture are more heinous than others, however I would add that no departure from Scripture is acceptable...

You have made the comment several times now that I have made a big deal out of the alcohol issue... indeed I have commented on it several times, and will likely continue to do so, but I must strongly disagree with this statement. It is not I but John Sullivan and the Florida Baptist Convention that has made a big deal out of alcohol by making it of first tier importance... and it is they who have decided to dis-fellwoship anyone who does not agree with them concerning alcohol. Actually I can cooperate with those who believe it is always wrong to drink alcohol and those who do not see it as a sin.

You said you started this conversation in order to try and understand my opinion in this matter... now I would like to understand yours. Do you agree with the actions of John Sullivan and the Florida Baptist Convention in making alcohol a first tier issue?

Grace Always

Next Reply from Pastor Xxx:


This will probably sound like a cop out but honestly I don't know the situation well enough to have an opinion either way. Sorry.

I have supported resolutions on alcohol passed on the convention floor but I cannot speak to this specific issue.


The conversation ended with the last reply from this young pastor who has a BA from Boyce College, an MDiv from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and is currently working on a Phd in OT at Southern.

I really would like to know how others view this topic (Alcohol and the Authority of the Word). Anyone have any thoughts on this exchange?

Grace Always,