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Thursday, December 10, 2009

Pastor/Teacher --- "Stranger?"

Yesterday (Dec.9.2009) Les Puryear made the following comment on his blog:

“ I would like to see seminaries such as SEBTS begin to recognize that the majority of their students will minister in small churches, whether established or newly planted, and provide courses which will equip them to minister in the small church culture which is a completely different environment than is found in megachurches.”

The high turnover rate of Pastors in the vast majority of Southern Baptist Churches, and the damage it causes to the witness of Christ and the work of the local church in our communities, is something that I feel very passionate about. I am told that the average tenure of a Southern Baptist Pastor is around 2 years… (If anyone has the precise numbers on this I would love to have them posted)

If this inexcusable number is even close to being correct (and I believe it is) then it is a clear indication that we have a deep rooted, unhealthy, and systemic issue within our Southern Baptist culture of accepting as normal short term/unstable leadership in our small Southern Baptist Churches.

There are many factors contributing to this sad condition and I make no pretense of being in any position, or possessing sufficient wisdom, to address them all. However, there is one thing that that I believe to be ‘the’ major contributing factor in all of this, and that is the practice of most small Southern Baptist congregations of calling absolute “STRANGERS” to pastor their church.

Here is the comment I posted on Les Puryear’s blog that gives my basic argument on this issue:


Thanks for this post!

This gives me the perfect opportunity to vent about something that I am very passionate about… and that is that this whole modern system of calling a “stranger” as your pastor is completely unbiblical.

Can anyone give me just one example in the Bible where a congregation called a “stranger” as their pastor? Yet 99.9% of the time in Southern Baptist Churches, no matter how careful the search committee is, and no matter how long they take, that is exactly what they do. They wind up calling a complete stranger to fill the most important position in the Church. Would anyone dare propose to their congregation that they need to look outside of their own body for Elders, Deacons, Teachers, or general officers? I think not. So why do we do exactly that for the positions of Pastor, and then get all offended when they don’t work out, or move on to bigger churches? There is a real simple solution to the problem of small churches being used as stepping stones… “Stop calling strangers as your Pastor”.

Can anyone explain to me how any search committee can affirm with any certainty that someone from outside of their own local community actually meets the qualifications of 1 Tim. 3:1-7. How can they know if this handsome young stranger with the good looking resume and the perfect wife and 2 little children on the front row, is of a blameless reputation or is nothing more than wolf in sheep’s clothing? In truth they cannot, but if he grew up in this community, or lived there for a few years they would know. They may actually check the references listed on his resume, but does anyone truly expect to uncover anything that would disqualify someone by asking the people listed on a resume? No, not really, so they usually wind up never asking any questions whatsoever about the man’s qualifications. You will notice that 1 Tim.3:7 says that he must have a good reputation of them which are without (in the community). How can a “stranger” possibly meet this requirement?

Ok… I could go on and on, but I think you get my point so I will shut up now :-)

Les replied:

“Greg, I have never heard that perspective before.”

I know this perspective cuts against the grain of our accepted practices within our Southern Baptist culture, and as I said above I could go into a much greater defense of this position… But what I really would like to know is what some of you think about this issue?

We discussed this issue at length during our Bible Study time at our Wednesday night services last night, and one of our Elders made the comment that the church is to function like and be modeled after the family and no family would ever seriously consider going out and bringing in an absolute stranger to be their “Father”. I thought that was a very insightful comment.

So, what say you?

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Great Commission Resurgence & State Conventions

I have read many articles on, or about, what Southern Baptists are hoping will come about as a result of the work of the Great Commission Resurgence task force. There are certainly a lot of ideas out there as to what a reorganized Southern Baptist Convention should look like, and there are a lot of questions being ask. However, the most common question almost everyone appears to be asking is “What to do with the State Conventions?”

For what it’s worth, here are my thoughts on the GCR and State Conventions:

1.) I believe the State Conventions are important and have the potential of playing a major role in any Great Commission Resurgence that might take place in our lifetimes within the Southern Baptist Convention.

2.) I believe that full autonomy (without any oversight and genuine accountability) for our State Conventions has proven itself to be a very bad idea. Human nature being what it is; oversight, transparency, and accountability are an absolute must (especially when finances, positions, and power are involved).

3.) I do not believe the State Conventions should be in the church planting business at all! The examples of where State Conventions have wasted huge amounts of money on failed churches, and sometimes even outright fraud, are too many to list. Not to mention that (regardless of how good a plan someone has, or how large of a core group they have already gathered) many times State Convention Leaders have been guilty of discriminating against those who are from a different theological camp than they are, or who’s worship style is different from their own, or who disagree with their own convictions on second and third matter doctrines. This abuse of authority has lead to many new Baptist Churches being planted “Outside of the Southern Baptist Convention” by a younger generation of Southern Baptist Pastors and Church Planters who are unafraid to go it alone.

4.) I do not believe the State Conventions should be involved in any mission’s activity outside of their own state. We, as Southern Baptist, have both an International mission’s agency and a North American mission’s agency. Why are State Conventions duplicating services that we as a convention already provide for? Why are the State Conventions not “Cooperating” with (working through) our national missions agencies? In my opinion our State Conventions should be focusing upon reaching the mission fields of their own states, and not trying to do the work of the IMB or NAMB.

5.) Ok… here is where I believe the State Conventions could play a major role in a Great Commission Resurgence. I believe that State Conventions should put the establishment of Christian Schools, Daycare Centers, Orphanages, Adoption and Foster Care programs at the top of their agenda. This is where I feel they could truly find their purpose and place in bringing about a true and lasting Great Commission Resurgence. I also feel that no other organization within the Southern Baptist Convention is as capable of filling this much need role as is our State Conventions. How great would the impact on our culture be if every State Convention made it its goal to start a Christian School in every community, county, or parish in America by the end of year 2020? How great would the impact on our culture be if every State Convention made it its goal to start a Christian Daycare in every community, county, or parish in America by the end of year 2020? How great would the impact on our culture be if every State Convention made it its goal to see that no child in America is ever unloved and unwanted by the end of year 2020? In short, how great would the impact on our culture be if by the end of year 2020 every State Convention saw itself purely as a mission organization, and the people of their state as its mission field?

In closing, I believe if we are to have a true and lasting Great Commission Resurgence in America that we must “Reengage” the culture and society in which we live… that we must make it our highest goal to win the hearts and minds of the next generation. This we will not do unless we are willing to change. And if we are not willing to change for the sake of reaching the next generation for Christ, then all this talk about seeking a Great Commission Resurgence is nothing more than shameful religious bravado and we might as well spend our money on prayer rugs for the next generation.

Grace Always,

Friday, November 20, 2009

Pray for my Dad

My Father, who is a very active 82 year old, has been having some heart problems over the last few months. Yesterday he underwent a heart-cath at Southeastern Medical Center in Dothan Alabama. The Doctor discovered that he has two severely blocked and hardened arteries leading to his heart. The Doctor was able to fix one artery with stents, but he said he had a very difficult time getting the hardened artery to open up and had to use several stents which caused a tear in the lining of the artery wall. The Doctor almost sent him to surgery right then, but he got the tear to lay down in place and put another stent over it to hold it in place while it heals.

At this point the Doctor wanted to consult with a heart surgeon about what would be the best way to proceed with the care of my dad (more stents for the other artery, or open heart bypass surgery). After consulting with a heart surgeon it was decided that they would attempt to fix the other artery with stents next Tuesday (Nov. 24th), and if things do not go well they will do open heart bypass surgery.

I would really appreciate everyone remembering my father in your prayers… his name is William A. (Bill) Alford.

“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” (Rom.8:28)

Grace Always,

Monday, October 19, 2009

To the IMB --- It's Personal!

An article over on sbcIMPACT has got me to thinking about what is wrong with the IMB. Let me very quickly say that I believe that the IMB has in the past, and continues to this day, to do some outstanding work. Perhaps to the surprise of many of my readers, I am not against the work the IMB is doing… Anyway, this article caused me to stop and think about where the IMB is missing the boat, so to say, and how it might make positive improvements for the future. Below is the comment I posted over at SBCIMPACT.

I think one of the fundamental problems with the IMB is that our SBC Churches do not know our IMB missionaries. There have been some efforts in recent years to try and connect our missionaries with our Churches and they have failed miserably…

Our church supports two “Independent” missionaries that we both know and love. What has made the difference? We hear from them “directly” each and every month… and at least four or five times a year they pick up the phone and call me directly, and after catching up on what is going on in each others ministries we always wind up praying together over the phone… (I love these men). And usually they visit our church once a year, sometimes they cannot make it home every year but when they are stateside they come see us. I know that is a lot of personal
contact and it takes a lot of effort on their part, but in all honestly this is truly what has made the difference for us and it is what I see missing with the IMB.

I don’t care how much “junk” mail the IMB prints and sends to my church… no amount of this “professionally published” marketing literature they send will every take the place of just one hand written 3x5 post card from the mission field. And no DVD message from the IMB headquarters touting all the wonderful things the IMB is doing can ever replace having the phone ring and hearing the voice of a missionary on the other end say “I’m about to go into a new village this morning, Brother will you pray with me”.

Strange as it may sound… but in a very real way the IMB now finds itself in the position (unintended I am sure) of standing between the relationship of Churches and the Missionaries… Somehow this must be corrected.

Grace Always,

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Total Depravity and Regeneration

Adam, Eve, and the (female) serpent at the ent...Image via Wikipedia

Sometime back in September I was notified by Ben at Arminian Perspectives that he had written a post entitled Can A Regenerate Christian Be Totally Depraved? in response to a comment I made concerning Calvin’s actions toward Servtus that lead to Servtus being convicted as a heretic and burned at the stake by the government of Geneva. Basically Ben was strongly suggesting that Calvin was not a Christian because of his role in the death of Servtus. In trying to take a non-confrontational approach I tried to explain that Calvin’s sin (if indeed it was sin in this matter) in no way prevented Calvin from being a Christian as all Christians still have a “Corrupt” sin nature, and that all Christians still sin even after regeneration.

Here is a portion of the discussion that went on concerning this issue:


Greg Alford, on July 29th, 2009 at 9:31 pm Said:


Thanks for being so gracious…

I really don’t think that any of us today are qualified to stand in judgment of Calvin’s conduct in this matter. Does the death of Servetus reflect badly on Calvin? You bet it does! Is Calvin the only Christian to ever have been wrongly influenced by the culture of his day? Not hardly. Does that excuse Calvin? Not at all. But it does remind us that we might not have done any differently had we been in Calvin’s position at the time. We like to think that we would have stood up against the Government and said this is wrong, but I doubt it after all we tolerate abortion in our society. (I know not a good example, but the best I can do)

You ask –

“Would he then be a totally depraved regenerate believer (since his actions regarding Servetus were post-conversion)?”

Very large smile… the answer would be “Yes”.

Just how long of a defense of that answer do you want me to give? You and I could be here for a good long time on this one, so I will spare you the long defense unless you really want to go down that rabbit hole.

Again, thank you for being so gracious… and I owe you a cup of coffee.

Grace Always,

Arminian, on July 30th, 2009 at 1:24 am Said:


Doesn’t Calvinism hold that the regenerate are no longer totally depraved? After all, does not the C doctrine hold that total depravity entails inability to believe, but that regeneration enables and causes someone to believe? C’s often criticize the Arminian doctrine of prevenient grace as undermining total depravity. So if you would follow that line, then you would have the C doctrine undermining total depravity. So would you mind clarifying? You don’t necessarily have to defend, just explain a little. One more thing: if you believe that a regenberate believer is still totally depraved, do you think that is the standard C position or is your position unusual?


Greg Alford, on July 30th, 2009 at 3:59 am Said:


I suppose one of the greatest hindrances to truly communicating with those who are of a different theological persuasion than your own is that we have a tendency to only read, discuss, and listen to those who agree with us. Therefore we have a tendency to believe that everyone defines the terms like “Total Depravity” and “Regeneration” the same and when we hear others using these terms we assume we are talking about the same thing, when in fact we are not.

So, with the above disclaimer let me attempt to define “Total Depravity” for this discussion. Total Depravity speaks of the extent of Human Corruption caused by the Fall of Man. By extent of Human Corruption I mean that all of mans being; heart, soul, body, mind, and will were all corrupted by the sin of Adam. In short, man in his totality became corrupted by sin.

This is where we often misunderstand one another… No Calvinist that I know would ever say that Regeneration completely frees man of his corruption of sin. Man is only totally free of the corrupting influence of sin when he is glorified, and that will never be on this side of glory. The Apostle Paul spoke well when he said “Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.”

It is with this understanding that I made the earlier comment concerning mans total depravity after regeneration; that even after man’s will is freed by the regeneration power of the Holy Spirit so that with his freedom he may now love his God, yet he finds that he is not fully made free from sin and while he indeed expresses his love for God, with his conduct he yet proves his corruption.

I hope this helps a little…

Grace Always,

Now let me return us to today's post by again defining the terms I am using, before asking the questions I really want to get into.

The result of the fall of Adam on mankind was, and is, “Complete Corruption”… or if you prefer the classical reformed phrase; “Total Depravity”. Theologians use the words “Complete” or “Total” to explain the scope of the effects of the fall of Adam on mankind, and not the depth of these effects. In common English what we are saying is; not that each and every man is as bad or as wicked as he can be, but that universally “ALL” of Man’s being was corrupted by the fall of Adam. Man’s flesh/desires were corrupted… Man’s mind/will was corrupted… Man’s soul/heart was corrupted. No part of man’s being was left unaffected by the fall of Adam. When compared to his original state before the fall of Adam, man now finds himself “Utterly Ruined” in the sight of God.

At this point I want to bring into this discussion a few comments made by the Apostle Paul that highlight man’s ruined condition. In Romans 7:18 Paul says “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing...” and in Romans 7:24 he cries out “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” Literally Paul is crying out for deliverance from the dead body he indwells. I think it important to this discussion that we note that this was the Apostle Paul speaking about himself after regeneration (new birth). And this leads into the following questions that are at the heart of this post.

1) What effect, both practical and theological, does regeneration (new birth) have upon the corruption of the fallen, now regenerated, man?

2) Does regeneration completely negate the corruption of the fall in the regenerated man? (yes/no)

3) Does regeneration partly negate the corruption of the fall in the regenerated man? (yes/no)

4) Does regeneration negate none of the corruption of the fall in the regenerated man? (yes/no)

Please Explain Your Answers... use as much space as you need.

Grace Always,

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Monday, September 14, 2009

Light and Fluffy

Bread rollsImage via Wikipedia

Paul said “Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump?”

We live in an age where much of Christianity has been reduced to a mere Experience… and for most Christians this Experience has been reduced to a mere Decision.

Once the “Decision” has been made… Once the “Experience” has been Experienced… the Modern Christian has very little real need for God in his life, and unless he is in the middle of a personal crisis the Modern Christian feels very much in control of things and as the writer of the beloved hymn 'Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing' says; he is “prone to wonder”.

(This is the wisdom and spirit of this Modern age in which we live.)

In my opinion this casual approach to our relationship with God is a result of two doctrines that when combined has had the same effect on Modern Christianity and the Modern Church as yeast and water have when added to flour … They are: (1) Decisional Regeneration and (2) The
Eternal Security of the Believer.

Modern Christianity, under the influence of these two doctrines, is like modern bread… it is altogether: ”light, and fluffy… puffed up… and full of air”.

Grace Always,

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Monday, August 17, 2009

Is NAMB a "Relic of the Past"?

Last week on SBC Voices Blog I made a statement that has drawn some heated debate that I need to clarify just a little bit. The comment I made was:

“NAMB is a relic of the past… church planting networks like Acts 29 own the future.”

Responding to my comment Ron West wrote:

“Greg you seem bitter about the IMB and NAMB. You desire to have them done away with and calling them relics of the past is undeserved in my opinion.”

Now I will be the first to admit that I rarely beat around the bush about things and my comments can most certainly come across as being bitter or angry, both of which I am not. I do not equate having strong convictions with being either bitter or angry, but I can see how Ron could read that into my comments about the IMB and NAMB.

Following is the follow up comment I posted to Ron’s comment above which explains my original comment that “NAMB is a relic of the past… church planting networks like Acts 29 own the future.”


Concerning the IMB and NAMB:

My first preference would be that both the BOT and Administration of the IMB and the NAMB would realize that the Baptist Churches of the SBC, which they serve, are a diverse group of Churches. We Southern Baptist are far from being “of one accord and one mind”…

So it is with this understanding that I passionately believe that both our mission agencies should represent, and make allowances for (without discrimination), the diverse group of Churches that make up the SBC. This is something that they have NOT done in the past, and is something that I and many others in the SBC would welcome with much joy.

Should not every cooperating church, which is in good standing with the convention, have the reasonable expectation that it may fully participate with, and receive support from, these agencies equal to the participation and support afforded to others? Why is this convection such a “Radical” idea? Why is this asking to much for people like David?

The truth is that unless these agencies are willing to change and adopt a new attitude toward the diversity that is a reality in the SBC then they will rapidly become relics of the past as more and more of our churches look elsewhere for mission partners.

If you have had a negative experience with the IMB or NAMB, or if you believe these agencies need to change to fully represent all churches of the SBC I believe the SBC needs to hear what you have to say…???

Grace Always

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Thursday, August 06, 2009

The Power of Giving

Dear _______,

I know you did not give the six large boxes of books in order to receive the praise of man...

But I would be remiss if I did not tell you how much of a blessing your gift of these books is to our small fellowship of believers.

The Elders have been pouring over them like little children on Christmas morning… time and time again I have heard the word “Wow” escape their (and my) lips as we eagerly dig into another box.

Your generosity in being willing to give away what clearly cost you a significant amount of time and money to acquire is very humbling to me and all our Elders. You have challenged each of us to examine our attachment to the things of this world (and that is a good thing for all Christians to do from time to time).

The timing of your gift (within just a few days of our bookcases being installed for our new Library) is nothing less than God’s affirmation of our decision to start a Library ministry for those under our care. Please know that most, if not everything, you have given will be a blessing to our church for many years to come.

Thank you so much!

Pastor Greg

Monday, July 27, 2009

Battle for the Baptist Faith and Message

With the momentous resurgence of Passionate Missionary Calvinism within the Southern Baptist Convention over the last few years, I guess it was just a matter of time before those who oppose this resurgence of Calvinism within the SBC began to question the strongly Calvinistic Statement of Faith of the SBC; the Baptist Faith and Message 2000.

Peter Lumpkin’s, an often vocal and aggressive critic of Calvinism on the blogs has recently posted an article titled
Calvinists Critique Morris Chapman's Clarification: Part II in which he mostly criticizes Timmy Brister for his critique of Morris Chapman’s (somewhat infamous) comments to the convention this year in Louisville, KY where Chapman felt obligated to (once again) take a broad swipe at Calvinism in the SBC.

Now Peter, who is fast becoming known as an aggressive Anti-Calvinist and Anti-Alcohol “watch-dog” in the SBC, wasted no time in this article in going after Timmy Brister with both barrels blazing. Ironically, or should I say in typical fashion, in this article Peter is guilty of exhibiting toward Brister the exact attitudes he has accused Timmy of having toward Chapman. It appears that Peter is willing to allow himself the freedom to be critical of others in the SBC but would very much like to muzzle all other voices, especially those who speak out against those who abuse their positions in the SBC to advance their personal Anti-Calvinist or Anti-Alcohol agendas.

However, if Peter (who repeatedly refers to Brister as a “strict/stern/hyper Calvinist” and his Calvinism as “skewed”) wishes to engage in this tactic of “attacking” those who disagree with him, instead of debating the issues… well then he should not be shocked when others go after him in like fashion.

But more to the point of this post is something very disturbing that Peter says about the Southern Baptist statement of faith; The Baptist Faith and Message 2000. Now, Peter is notorious for (how shall I say this…) displaying “Extreme Gymnastic” skills in twisting the meaning of the English language, and playing “Fast and Loose” with his reinterpreting the meaning of words, grammar, and sentence structure as seen in his comment below.

“ And, so far as the BF&M is concerned, Timmy wants it to definitively teach regeneration precedes faith. I’ll bet that would be a new one on Adrian Rogers, Jerry Vines, and all the other non-Calvinists who worked on the revision committee.

Personally, I think the BF&M is rubbery enough to include strict Calvinists, modified Calvinists, and non-Calvinists among its supporters. For Brister, however, non-Calvinists and even modified Calvinists like Akin find no support there. It definitively teaches the theological tomfoolery that there exists an animal others have called a born-again unbeliever. ”

Here is what the Baptist Faith and Message actually says:

“ A. Regeneration, or the new birth, is a work of God's grace whereby believers become new creatures in Christ Jesus. It is a change of heart wrought by the Holy Spirit through conviction of sin, to which the sinner responds in repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Repentance and faith are inseparable experiences of grace.”

Peter appears to be reading this portion of the BFM2000 with blinders on, so I will put the part he appears to have a hard time reading in bold print.

"It (Regeneration) is a change of heart wrought by the Holy Spirit through conviction of sin, to which the sinner responds in repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ"

That any man, with any degree of integrity, would attempt to tell Southern Baptist that our statement of faith does not in fact teach that regeneration precedes repentance is either a display of intellectual dishonesty, or crude arrogance… or both.

Peter’s strict/stern/hyper bias against Calvinism and all Calvinist is on full display in this article. And this salvo from the pen of Peter Lumpkin is a clear indication that the long war on Calvinism in the SBC is far from over, and in fact a new chapter in this war has just began; “The Battle for the Baptist Faith and Message”.

Grace Always,

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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Have Southern Baptist invaded the UK?

Click here to find out…

Even Peter Lumpkins can smile at this news.

Grace Always,

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Passionate Missionary Calvinism – Follow up

For many in the SBC the phrase “Missionary Calvinism” is considered to be an oxymoron and dismissed offhand as pure rubbish. However, the historical fact that Calvinism can lead, and indeed has lead, many young men and women throughout history to become not only Missionaries and Church Planter, but to become “Passionate” Missionaries and Church Planters is undeniable. Yet, for many who grew up in the SBC, having been exposed from the cradle to the rhetoric of such notable SBC Anti-Calvinist as Jerry Vines, this truth seams to catch them of guard.

Still, the fact remains that not only did Calvin preach evangelism his Church in Geneva became a hub for mission activity under his leadership, as can be seen in Ray Van Neste article in the Founders Journal titled: “
John Calvin on Evangelism and Missions” and an article by “The Thirsty Theologian” (you just got to love his Blog name) titled: “Calvin the Evangelist”.

Any discussion of “Missionary Calvinism” would be incomplete with mentioning such Calvinist missionary giants such as: George Whitfield, Charles H. Spurgeon, David Brainerd, Jonathan Edwards, Adoniram Judson, Luther Rice, Lottie Moon, Andrew Fuller, and the father of modern missions; William Carey. Yet, sadly we find that the vast majority of Southern Baptist do not even know that these great missionary men and women were even Calvinist.

Turning toward the New Calvinist of today one would almost need to have their head in the sand not to know that Calvinism has caught fire among the current generation of evangelicals, including Baptist. In an article “
Even at 500, Calvin isn’t slowing down” posted on “The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life” Daniel Burke writes:

"His theology is the hottest, most explosive thing being discussed right now," said Justin Taylor, 32, a self-described Calvinist, and an editorial director at Crossway, a Christian publisher in the evangelical heartland of Wheaton, Ill. "What he taught is extraordinarily influential right now."

Young evangelicals are scooping up books by neo-Calvinist authors, packing churches and conventions led by Calvinist preachers and studying at staunchly Calvinist seminaries. They're blogging their way through Calvin's behemoth "Institutes of the Christian Religion," setting up Facebook fan clubs and opening Twitter feeds.

Many proudly bare their fidelity to Calvinism's "five points" of predestination as if they were stars on a general's chest. Earlier this year, Time magazine served notice that "The New Calvinism" is one of "10 ideas that are changing the world right now."

In other words, Calvinism has moved out of the Puritan meetinghouse and into the megachurch.

The rise of this new “Passionate Missionary Calvinism” in the SBC is perhaps best on display at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary where, under the direction of her president, Dr. R. Albert Mohler Jr., himself a devout Calvinist, we witnessed the establishment of
The Billy Graham School of Missions, Evangelism and Church Growth. If you are still not convinced that this new generation of Calvinist in the SBC are genuine in their passion for missions and evangelism I invite you to go to their website and spend some time reading some of their comments and discovering first hand their heart.

The old, stale, and warn out accusations of the Anti-Calvinist that claim Calvinism kills evangelism and missions have, by the actions of this new generation of Passionate Missionary Calvinist, been proven a lie… and with each graduating class from The Billy Graham School of Missions, Evangelism and Church Growth that head out into the world to do missions work, those in the SBC who continue say Calvinism kills evangelism and mission only succeed in destroying their own integrity and reputation.
Grace Always,

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Rise of Passionate Missionary Calvinism in the SBC

John CalvinImage via Wikipedia

Morris Chapman in his Executive Committee’s Presidential report (see here) presented on 6/23/2009 at the SBC Convention made the following comments expressing his concerning over the rising influence of Calvinism in the SBC and the negative effects on evangelism and missions that he fears this rising influence of Calvinism will have on the future of the SBC.

The Southern Baptist Convention is experiencing a resurgence in the belief that divine sovereignty alone is at work in salvation without a faith response on the part of man…

Some are given to explain away the “whosoever will” of John 3:16…

The belief that sovereignty alone is at work in salvation is not what has emboldened our witness and elevated our concern for evangelism and missions through the ages. This is not the doctrine that Southern Baptists have embraced in their desire to reach the world for Christ.

If there is any doctrine of grace that drives men to argue and debate more than it drives them to pursue lost souls and persuade ALL MEN to be reconciled to God – then it is no doctrine of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Let me begin by saying that in the face of a young Calvinist movement in the SBC that is absolutely on fire for evangelism and missions these were most unfortunate comments coming from the President of the Executive Committee of the SBC, and that Chapman has seriously misjudged the current mood of cooperation in the convention. Yes, there is indeed great apathy toward evangelism and missions among many in the SBC; however it is among the Non-Calvinist that we see this sad form apathy toward the lost and not among this young generation of Calvinist in the SBC.

The issue of the rise of a passionate, missionary, form of Calvinism in the SBC and the long term apathy of many Non-Calvinist in the SBC toward evangelism and missions is one that I believe will occupy volumes in the future history books of the SBC.

In one very real sense the rise of this passionate missionary form of Calvinism in the SBC, that has lead to us now seeing a vastly disproportionate number of young Calvinist in the SBC becoming missionaries and Church Planters, is due to the fact that for many years these young Calvinist have suffered a constant barrage of criticism from the Non-Calvinist of the SBC (especially from the older generation) that Calvinism kills evangelism and missions. This criticism appears to have had an unintended effect on these young Calvinist. Instead of turning them from Calvinism, as the Non-Calvinist critics had hoped, it spurred these young Calvinist to become the most passionate and dedicated missionaries and church planters the SBC has seen in many generations.

So while many of the Non-Calvinist churches in the SBC have become apathetic toward evangelism and missions, the Calvinist are on fire for evangelism and missions. This is absolutely fascinating!

I would like to add that the Calvinist emphasis on regenerate church membership, and the Non-Calvinist lack of emphasis on regenerate church membership, has played a fundamental role in what we now see going on in the rise of this generation of passionate missionary Calvinist in the SBC. Simply put, those who are not regenerate have no passion for either evangelism or missions. So no matter how hard you preach evangelism and missions to them they simply pay no attention. Yet, if at the same time we see the Calvinist gathering more regenerate (though less numbers of) members in their churches there will be more passion for evangelism and missions among these smaller Calvinistic Churches than we see in some of the larger mega-churches that we often hear so much about from the older generation of SBC Leaders like Chapman.

In a very odd twist of fate the Non-Calvinist, by their harsh criticism of Calvinism, have fueled the rise of the passionate Calvinist Missionary, and Church Planter, we now see in the SBC. As I said earlier, this is absolutely fascinating!

Grace Always,

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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Hunt names 18-member GCR Task Force

Winston-Salem, North CarolinaImage via Wikipedia

(Baptist Press) Wednesday, June 24, 2009 - 10:18:00 AM

Speaking from the podium, SBC President Johnny Hunt seconds ago publicly named the 18-member Great Commission Resurgence Task Force. The task force is:

-- Ronnie Floyd (chairperson), pastor, FBC Springdale, Ark.
-- Jim Richards, executive director, Southern Baptists of Texas Convention
-- Frank Page, pastor, FBC, Taylors, S.C.
-- David Dockery, president, Union University
-- Simon Tsoi, first vice chairman, International Mission Board
-- Donna Gaines, Bellevue Baptist Church, Cordova, Tenn.
-- Al Gilbert, pastor, Calvary Baptist Church, Winston-Salem, N.C.
-- J.D. Greear, pastor, Summit Church, Durham, N.C.
-- Tom Biles, director of missions, Tampa Bay Association, Executive Committee member
-- Danny Akin, president, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary
-- R. Albert Mohler Jr., president, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
-- John Drummond, St. Andrews Baptist Church, Panama City, Fla.
-- Harry Lewis, North American Mission Board
-- Mike Orr, pastor, FBC, Chipley, Fla.
-- Roger Spradlin, pastor, Valley Baptist Church, Bakersfield, Calif., Executive Committee member
-- Robert White, executive director, Georgia Baptist Convention
-- Ken Whitten, pastor, Idlewild Baptist Church, Tampa, Fla.
-- Ted Traylor, Olive Baptist Church, Pensacola, Fla.

(Baptist Press Article ends here)

That sure is an interesting list… I could not help but notice that a lot of North West Florida Pastors made the cut. Not sure what’s up with that except that perhaps Johnny like to vacation in my neck of the woods. I could also not help but notice who is not on the list.

Care to name those you find interestingly absent from the list?

I’ll start with my good Baptist Identity buddies from SBC Today… You would think that those guys who represent our true Southern Baptist Identity should be on the list… but alas they are not.

Tim Rogers
Robin Foster
Bart Barber
Scott Gordon
Wes Kenney
John Mann
Joe Stewart

Grace Always,

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Monday, June 22, 2009

Baptist Identity Division?

City of JacksonvilleImage via Wikipedia

Is the Baptits Identity Movement Seeking Division in the SBC?

While I am not attending the SBC convention (again) this year, I am trying to follow what is going on in Louisville by reading a few of the blog posts over on SBC Voices.

At the top of their [SBC Watchlist - Latest From The Most Influential SBC Blogs] section this morning is a post from the BI blog SBC Today by Robin Foster.

This is not a lengthy post by Robin but it does reveal the fundamental difference between those in the BI (Baptist Identity) movement who desire narrow parameters of cooperation in the SBC and those who wish to keep the parameters of cooperation in the SBC as broad as possible concerning 2nd and 3rd tier doctrines.

These two competing views in the SBC might be defined as the “Narrow View” of cooperation, (those who seek to exclude from the SBC all those who do not agree with their views on 2nd and 3rd tier doctrines) and the “Broad View” of cooperation, (those who seek to include those who agree with them on 1st tier doctrines yet allow for differences of opinion on all 2nd and 3rd tier doctrines).

Robin, who is one of the principal advocates of the Baptist Identity movement, writes:

“Last night I attended the pastors conference. It seems the theme at this year’s pastors conference is the Great Commission Resurgence. The first one up was JD Greear. I heard JD back at Jacksonville at the pastors conference at FBC. After JD preached this sermon a friend of mine who attended Jacksonville made the comment that JD preached the same sermon as he did in Jacksonville (1 Cor. 9), only that he used a difference text (Matt 23) to do so this time. I would have to concur with my friend, same message, different text. The one thing that was repeated and that I still have questions about is what are the secondary and tertiary doctrines that we should not divide over? He did mention tongues, but was not specific on other issues.”

Did you pick up on the “one thing” that really caught Robin’s attention? …What are the secondary and tertiary doctrines that we should not divide over?”

In other words, Robin appears to be most interested in what secondary and tertiary doctrines the speaker agrees with him on that should be considered issues to “divide over?” These are Robins words not mine! That has been my primary issue with the whole Baptist Identity movement all along… From their writings it appears that they wish to narrowly define a “Southern Baptist Identity” that by its very definition excludes many who have deep roots in the Southern Baptist Convention.

Now I want you to contrast Robins thoughts on this message by JD Greear and what another well know Southern Baptist Pastor, Wade Burleson, thought about this very same sermon.

Wade writes:

“J.D. Greear started the preaching off at 6:30 p.m. I have heard a great deal about J.D., but have never had the privilege of hearing him preach. He pastors
The Summit Church in Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina, a fast-growing church composed of mostly young adults. J.D. did an excellent job showing the six characteristics of Christians who have substituted religion for the vitality of knowing Jesus Christ. His text was Matthew 23 and he showed how the Pharisees (1). sought personal recognition, (2). substituted religious rituals over and against love for God, (3). substituted religious rituals over and against love for people, (4). considered only themselves holy and other people sinful, (5). raised tertiary issues to the place of primary doctrine, and (6). sought fellowship around conformity to their own ideology and not the life transforming power of God.

J.D.'s message was superb. My only reservation is the manner in which J.D., like many trained in modern Southern Baptist seminaries, used women in ministry as an illustration of a "primary" doctrine. One of these days I believe J.D. will see that this "doctrine" is secondary, if not tertiary - and disagreement among evangelicals in this area should not lead to separation in fellowship or cooperation.”

Now those of you who know me know that I do not agree with brother Wade on women in the ministry, but did you pick up on the difference between the two? One (who is an advocate for the Baptist Identity movement) approached this message looking for those things that could be used to separate or divide the churches of the SBC, and the other is seeking to set aside the nonessentials of the faith and seek greater cooperation among the churches of the SBC.

For me these competing visions for the future of the SBC could not be clearer. We will either listen to the voice of those seeking to restrict cooperation in the SBC to only those who look like we look, talk like we talk, and worship like we worship (clones of ourselves) or we will respect the autonomy of the local church on all 2nd and 3rd tier doctrines and keep the door of cooperation open to all Baptist who agree with us on the essentials of our faith.

Grace Always,
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Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Decline of LM and CP Offerings - Some Tough Questions

In his Blog article today titled Decline of LM and CP Offerings Due to Legalism Wade Burleson, Oklahoma Pastor and former IMB Board of Trustees member, reports that the 2008 Lottie Moon Offering was down 6.05% compared to last year. As a result of this shortfall in giving the IMB will be reducing it’s number of missionaries by up to 400 by the end of 2009 and eventually by as many as 700.

Wow, that’s a significant cut in missionaries. But rather than lay all the blame for such a drastic shortfall in Lottie Moon and Cooperative Program giving on the downturn in the economy Wade states that at least part of the blame is due to the adoption of extra-biblical policies.

Wade states “If we wish to grow CP and Lottie Moon during difficult economic times we will denounce all attempts by Baptist Identity radicals to define "obedience to Christ" and "holiness to God" in a manner that goes way beyond the truth of Scripture.”

Let me just say that Wade is absolutely right in his comment… only I would say that difficult economic times have nothing to do with it, and that if we wish to grow the CP and Lottie Moon offerings during anytime (good or bad) we must stand strong against all extra-biblical policies that cause good conservative Southern Baptist to curtail, or even stop, their giving to the CP and Lottie Moon.

During the blog conversation that followed I posted the following two comments that I wanted to share with you here.

(Comment #1)

Under the current IMB rules for personal holiness Christ’s Disciples are bared from serving as missionaries with the IMB, because in the eyes of the IMB they are considered “unwise”, “disobedient unto Christ”, “and unholy before God”.

And if you can believe such a thing; under the current IMB rules for personal holiness Christ’s himself is bared from serving as a missionary with the IMB, because in the eyes of the IMB the same Lord they claim to serve is “unwise”, “disobedient unto Christ”, “and unholy before God”.

Do you see just how dangerous it is for any man/board to set himself/themselves up as the giver of God’s law? This is exactly what the Catholic Church did many years ago when they disallowed something that God himself has not disallowed (That is for Priest to do what is natural unto man, and good according to God, and take a wife). And how has that turned out for them? What is the fruit of that extra-biblical law? Priest turning to homosexual behavior with children and life long adulterous affairs.

Ah… but we Baptist are far wiser than the Catholics, surely our extra-biblical laws will never hurt our witness. (That last line should be read with dripping sarcasm) A Baptist missionary organization disallowing Christ… A Baptist missionary organization saying that Christ was unwise… A Baptist missionary organization saying Christ was disobedient unto Christ… A Baptist missionary organization saying that Christ was unholy before God.

We Baptist are far wiser than the Catholics… I think not.

What utter stupidity is this!

(Comment #2)

Joe Blackmon - As I am sure you know; there are only two ordinances of the Church we Southern Baptist recognize as being Biblical. They are Baptism and the Lords Supper.

You comment: “I am saying there is no good reason to have to use fermented grape juice when the non-fermented kind will more than do the job and serve as the symbol intended.”

My question to you is; are you equally open to substitution being made in the ordinance of Baptism as you are in the ordinance of the Lords Supper? Following you example could not someone say “There is no good reason to have to plunge someone all the way under water, when sprinkling will more than do the job and serve as the symbol intended.”

If not? Please explain how you can be consistent in your Biblical Exegesis and observance of these two ordinances when clearly you allow for substitution in one but not in the other.

In fact you are demanding substitution in the one but never in the other... please explain.

(end of comments)

I then ask the Amazing Tim (I’ll ban you) Rogers and Jim Paslay to feel free to answer the question I ask Joe…

Alas, sometimes it’s lonely out here in the blog world when you ask question that the other side are incapable of answering… all I have heard back so far is the sound of crickets chirping.

Grace Always,

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

The Disenfranchised in the SBC

Concerning the annual Southern Baptist Convention (yes it’s that time again) Wade Burleson asked the following question on his blog today:

"Why ___, do we Southern Baptists continue to use an archaic system of governance that was established in 1845…"

Wade went on to say “Isn't it about time we started having our Convention regionally, electronically and effeciently? My wife and I just spent $2,000 hard earned dollars to buy our tickets, hotel and car to Louisville, Kentucky…”

“ It's time the Southern Baptist Convention caught up with the rest of the world. It's time we stopped using our archaic system of governance that excludes the vast majority of Southern Baptists from being able to participate in Convention business.”

“It's time we changed how we operate.”

I do not always agree with Wade, but I could not agree more with what he has said on this topic.

There is absolutely no business being done at the national convention that could not (and should not) be done by mailing information and voting packages to each and every cooperating church in the SBC…

Every cooperating church in the SBC should be given the same opportunity to have their voice heard… (And don’t anyone come back with that same worn out line of everyone can send their messengers… No they can’t and you know it!)

I have been saying for years now that requiring our small churches to send messengers to the convention in order to have our voices heard is equal to the “Poll Tax” that was used in the South for many years in order to keep poor Blacks from voting in any significant numbers.

I suppose that: “In the SBC we are all created equal, just some are more equal than others.”

The SBC should be doing everything it can in order to allow, and encourage, every cooperating SBC church to participate in the life of the convention… and right now I just don’t see it!

Grace Always,

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Arkansas Nears Allowing Guns in Church

Wednesday, February 11, 2009 Associated Press

LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas — The Arkansas House of Representatives on Wednesday approved a bill allowing concealed handguns in churches, despite hearing arguments that lawmakers should put their faith in God, not guns.

The bill, which passed on a 57-42 vote and now heads to the Senate, removes churches and other houses of worship from the list of places where concealed handguns are banned. Currently, the only private entities where concealed weapons are banned are churches and bars.

The bill's sponsor, Republican Rep. Beverly Pyle, said she introduced the measure after a series of church shootings across the country. She said it would be up to each individual church whether to allow the concealed guns.

"It is time we changed our concealed-handgun law to allow law-abiding citizens of the state of Arkansas the right to defend themselves and others should a situation happen in one of our churches," she said.

Pyle said at least 20 states have similar laws allowing churches to decide whether to permit concealed guns.

The measure drew opposition from a pair of pastors who are also legislators.

Democratic Rep. Steven Breedlove, a minister at the Valley View Church of Christ, said allowing concealed handguns won't stop someone from opening fire inside a church.

"Ronald Reagan was completely surrounded by armed guards and he was still shot," Breedlove said. "And that is why we must put our faith in God and not put our faith in something else ... Let us keep the sanctity of churches and put our faith in God and not in guns."

Another pastor, Rep. Otis Davis, said he couldn't, in good conscience, return to his constituents in eastern Arkansas and say that he voted in favor of the bill.

Pyle had an unexpected ally in liberal Democratic Rep. Lindsley Smith, who said she supported the bill because it was an issue of separation of church and state. Smith urged lawmakers to pass the bill because churches shouldn't be treated differently from other private entities under state law, she said.

Gov. Mike Beebe, a Democrat, said Wednesday he'd sign the bill if it made it to his desk.


And the AP did not say one thing about the need for Calvinist to protect them selves from all the “shots” that are being taken at them lately… (insert very large smile)

You just can't make this stuff up!

Grace Always,

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Pastors and Concealed Weapons

I received an email newsletter from my local association today with the following announcement:
Gully Springs Baptist Church

Pastor Tim Hall, Brother Todd (Holmes Baptist Association DOM), and Brother Eddie Eaton, pastor of West Pittman Baptist Church would like to invite all those interested for a firearm safety / concealed weapons class. Cost of this class will be $25 for materials and training. If you are interested in receiving training for a concealed weapons permit, give Brother Todd a call. Only 7 spots remaining!!!

Brothers this is exactly why I stopped having Baptist Deacons meeting… When things start to get so out of hand that our Pastors must start carrying a concealed weapon in order to defend themselves, and keep order in the church, then it’s time we need to reevaluate what and how we are doing God’s work in the SBC. (wink, wink)

Actually I am thinking about signing up for the class if I have time. This just might become the next big thing in the SBC after 40 days of purpose.

Grace Always,

Monday, January 19, 2009

Devastating Honesty about the SBC

The Internet Monk (Michael Spencer) gives a straight forward and devastating honest assessment of the decline of the SBC. Michael Spencer is not a Southern Baptist, but in my opinion the Executive Committee of the SBC should fire whomever they have been listening to and hire this guy as a consultant.

All of Michael’s article is worth reading, however I will limit my interaction to the following paragraphs.

Michael writes:
[Seriously, is it any wonder that so many younger Southern Baptists see Rick Warren as their de-facto leader, more than whoever the SBC is promoting this year? Warren has found a way to do church, be evangelistic, be a servant, affirm other humans, be useful and genuinely be likable to those he wants to influence. Contrast this with the SBC’s history of “leadership by loudest, angriest preacher” system.]

Michael is absolutely “spot on” in his understanding of how many younger Southern Baptists view the leadership of their convention. The Old, Angry, Arminians of the SBC, while remaining attractive to those who would force their own “Baptist Identity” upon all Southern Baptist, they are not very attractive to the younger generation of Southern Baptist who are in greater numbers looking elsewhere for someone to follow. This can be seen by the ever shrinking numbers and the graying of those in attendance at the Southern Baptist Convention’s annual meetings, and the fact that many of those absent from these annual SBC Conventions are faithfully in attendance at such Conferences as Together for the Gospel, Ligonier Conference, and anything by John Piper and John MacArthur.

Michael writes:

[And what about the many thousands of young SBCers who simply don’t want to hear the denomination’s way of doing things anymore? Most of them were on board for the “inerrancy” revolution, but now they see a denomination that reads the Bible and comes out with the theology of the John 3:16 Conference. When the SBC does theology these days, I want to dig a very deep hole and disappear. The words “SBC Theologian” are about to join “military intelligence” on a certain oft-quoted list.]

Again Michael is “spot on” in his assessment of the younger generation of Southern Baptist. The main difference between the Older generation of Southern Baptist who for the most part only preach “inerrancy” but practice whatever is “pragmatic” in their ministries, the younger generation not only preach “inerrancy” they believe and practice “inerrancy” in their ministry. That many of the younger generation of Southern Baptist are embarrassed by the theology, or “Anti-Theology”, that came out of the John 3:16 Conference is evidenced by the sheer number of bloggers who expressed their strong displeasure with it.

Whatever you think of Michael Spencer, it is hard to argue with his clear assessment of what is going on in the SBC.

Grace Always,

Thursday, January 08, 2009

The Bondage and Liberation of the Will

From time to time I run across those in the Blog-World that have a very negative opinion of John Calvin… (Ok, I really run into them all the time). With such a diverse group of believers as found in the Blog-World that is to be expected I guess.

But what is so very discouraging to me is that many of these man and women appear to be devoted Christians who sincerely take issue with what they have been led to believe about John Calvin, and more specifically the theology that has come to bear his name – Calvinism. What is so discouraging is the fact that in today’s “information age” what they believe about Calvin and Calvinism is so distorted and twisted from the truth that it is just frustrating to deal with.

Calvin’s works have been in print now for almost 500 years. If you do not want to pay the $50 to buy your own set of Calvin’s “Institutes of the Christian Religion” you can read them for free
online. So there is really no excuse for anyone believing such trash about Calvin or Calvinism except their own laziness or intentional malice.

Because it’s the 500th anniversary year of Calvin’s birthday many people, including myself, are reading the Institutes through this year, however I know this may be a little much for many readers to tackle, so I would highly encourage you to get a copy of “The Bondage and Liberation of the Will” by Calvin and read it before you jump into the deep waters of Calvin’s Institutes.

Below is a comment I made on another Blog last night encouraging this person (Curious / Anon) who has a very negative opinion of Calvin to read some of Calvin’s writings for him/her-self. I am including it in this post simply because I believe it to be a good example of what I am talking about.


Curious / Anon, or (whoever I am having this conversation with)

I am not sure who your sources are for your information on what Calvin believed, but from what I can read in your comments, whoever your sources are they appear to have influenced your opinion of Calvin quite negatively. If your sources for what Calvin believed are books written “against” Calvinism, like those by Dave Hunt, or Wiley Richards then I can understand your bias.

I would encourage you to let Calvin take the stand to defend himself by reading some of his works… I would not ask you to read Calvin’s Institutes (at least not to begin with), but I would ask you to read
The Bondage and Liberation of the Will by Calvin. You can get a copy from for $24.99. It is only 303 pages long and it will open your eyes to what Calvin really believed.

In it you will find that Calvin did not deny the “free” choice of man in choosing God at all. Actually the sub-title of the book is “A Defense of the Orthodox Doctrine of Human Choice Against Pighius”

Here is a little bit of the book description:

The Bondage and Liberation of the Will is undoubtedly the most significant of Calvin's works hitherto not translated in English. This is in striking contrast to Luther's study on the same topic, which is one of his best-known publications." This is Calvin's "fullest treatment of the relation between grace and free will, and contains important material not found elsewhere in his writings. It also contains far more discussion of the early church fathers than does any other of Calvin's works, apart from the Institutes. It is high time that this major work is made available to those whose knowledge of Calvin is confined to English translations" .

Grace Always,

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Calvinist are not Christians?

Dr. James White addresses an accusation from a fan of Dave Hunt that Calvinist are not even Christians… and in his gracious and careful manner addresses six common questions concerning Calvinism that this seriously misinformed man ask.

I am reminded by this of the extreme danger of allowing works like Dave Hunt’s “What Love is This” to go unanswered. And why we must be ever ready to give a defense of “the faith once delivered to the saints”.

Apologetics can be wearing work and there are times when we all just want to throw up our hands and say how many times do we have to answer the same foolish questions… But the enemy does not rest and therefore we must not abandon the defense of truth no mater how weary we may become.

This is an excellent video message from Dr. James White on the Reformed understanding of Salvation. Click (
here) to download and listen.

I highly recommend it!

Grace Always,