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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?

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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,