Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Shall SBC churches defund Southern Seminary and Al Mohler?

Shall Southern Baptist churches defund Southern Seminary and Al Mohler?

Well, no, I don't think that is even remotely called for, but here in Georgia one prominent church answers “yes” and has defunded both SBTS and Southeastern Seminary. The Georgia Baptist Convention allows for such and for continuing to label a church’s giving as Cooperative Program even though the church wants to designate around up to two SBC entities.

Abilene Baptist has informed the GBC that they wish for their CP gifts to not go to SBTS and SEBTS. Their pastor, Bill Harrell is a former SBC Executive Committee chairman.


Reasons were stated: SBTS is a “breeding ground” for Calvinists; the pastor doesn’t want to help start Acts 29 churches, and he objects to the Great Commission Giving category. Another GA pastor says that this may represent a “seismic shift in SBC life.”

My fellow Georgia Baptist, Peter Lumpkins, sees this as a very significant move and as indicative of the disaffection of a large segment in SBC life. (Link here and one might note the lengthy comment stream generated by that blog article).

Plodder thinks not but understands that when some pastors get something in their own mind they might project it onto the rest of us and consider it “seismic.” We will see. I would speculate that some of the more strident anti-Mohler voices will take Mohler's recent commentary on the SBC and homosexuality and start with the same kind of squawking.

We all know that Southern Baptist conservatives are well steeped in is designated giving and not a few have itchy CP trigger fingers. I don't see anything worth pulling the trigger over here.

[The Christian Index first carried this news on June 2nd. I cannot locate the story on their site or I would link it.]


Blake said...

Supposing Lumpkins and some of those Missouri Baptists can start rallying enough troops to make problems at annual meetings do you think the rest will defend their leaders, entities and policies or will they be so focused on mission in their local congregations as to support by default the post-denominational era western Christianity seems to be moving towards?

William Thornton said...

Peter Lumpkins is a friend of mine. He is welcome to rally whomever he wishes and doesn't even have to ask for my permission; however, I don't see the action taken here in GA as indicative of any widespread SBC movement.

Anonymous said...

I didn't realize that Calvinist leanings were such a sin but then I haven't checked with some of our "founding fathers." If churches start defunding Southern because of Dr. Mohler's comments then hopefully more churches will start giving more to counteract their ridiculous steps. Change is never easy but its nearly impossible for Baptists.

Greg Alford said...

I think there are more than enough Calvinist leaning Southern Baptist Pastors out there who can make up the difference in funding to SBTS & SEBTS should the need arise... And should it come to this they may have to defund other SBC entities in order to support SBTS & SEBTS. In other words this whole thing may just backfire on these guys in a very big way... So I am sure the the majority of SBC Leadership will not approve of this sort of "Anti-Cooperative Program" actions.

Grace for the Journey,

Anonymous said...

I'm not going to get any heartburn from there being Calvinists in the SBC. I see them as anyone else. You have some good ones and bad ones. I hope that Southern and Southeastern aren't defunded for that reason.

However, after seeing Mohler in action (via live stream) at the SBC for two years now, I have to admit that I don't want any of my money going there. Mohler just doesn't seem to be the kind of guy I can stand behind. For two years now, he's given someone a spanking from the stage. This year it was Peter Lumpkins (granted, he probably deserves a good spanking), but last year was a lady. If my memory serves, it was an old lady. I remember hearing her question, seeing Mohler's response, and thinking: "That guy (Mohler) just isn't acting christianly."

He's no church's daddy. He is our servant, and should treat us at least with a little bit of respect.

Just saying, that guy gives off a bad vibe.

Tim Dahl

Anonymous said...

I'm a partial Calvinist and I hope I'm a good guy. One good thing about having the spotlight on Mohler is that we don't have to focus on Patterson and that's a welcome change. At least Mohler has the convictions to stand up for what he has said and not wave a hunting rifle in our face and talk about the stuffed animals on the walls.

Anonymous said...

William, a better question might be how Southern Baptists handle theological drift/shift. The theology of the SBC certainly isn't what it was when I was a Southern Baptist and it has shifted a good bit since I left the denomination in the early 1990s. There was a time that strict Calvinist views would have been little known among SBC churches and pastors. And that time most were modified Calvinists leaning towards Arminianism.

Does the SBC need a foundational theology that keeps it from drifting from generation to generation in one direction or another? And if not what keeps the SBC from becoming a denomination unlike it was founded to be?

William Thornton said...

I think the BFM is adequate. Calvinists have causes some stirring among the defunders. I don't see it.

Anonymous said...

I don't really know how many of my friends are Calvinists or not. What's the best way to tell or should I just ask them? And why does it really matter????

Anonymous said...

William I'm going to sound like a Methodist here. So take this for what it is worth. The BFM is both too changable itself and not binding enough to avoid theological drift. When a faith statment (or creed) can be amended annually it doesn't really set a foundational view. And when no one has to follow it it doesn't carry much weight.

You would think that the SBC would want to not drift too far away from its founding views. Maybe that isn't the case. Maybe it won't bother anyone if the SBC looks back in 50 years and it appears that major doctrines have totally changed. It all depends on what you want "SBC" to mean or stand for.

Tim Dahl said...

to Anony: Among pastors/minister types, it wouldn't be to hard to find out. You could simple ask if they are Calvinistic, or perhaps use the word "Reformed." A "Reformed" theology is synonymous with traditional Calvinism. If you are afraid to as, you can look at who they are reading. One possible give away is: Are they quoting Piper all the time. He is the current favorite author amongst current Calvinists. Of course, if they are a fan of Mohler, there is a good chance they are a Calvinist.

"Why does it matter?"

To me, it doesn't. As I said, I've some good friends that are Calvinists. Others may find their belief in double predestination a bit disturbing. This is the belief that God chooses people to go to hell, just as he chooses people to go to heaven.

There is also a belief that predestination (of any sort) will harm missions work. If God has already planned who is in and who is out, then what is the use of going?

If I remember my reading of the Institutes correctly, Calvin said that the Church is the "means" by which God calls the predestined unto Himself. I have personally never known a modern Calvinist that didn't exude evangelistic zeal. Granted, there are examples in history (like the guy that told William Carey that God didn't need him to be a missionary), but no modern Calvinist that I'm aware of espouses such a view... Especially not in the SBC.

Acts 29 Network is somewhat of a different issue. If you are going to plant a church through them, then you need (it is required) that you give financially back to them, and that you have a Reformed theolgoy. I don't know the percentages, nor what the money goes for. I'm assuming that it is for other church plants. However, that financial requirement seems (to some) to be in direct conflict with CP giving. They are saying that the Acts 29 Network is a rival convention (to the SBC).

Of course, this idea is bread from a point of view of scarcity. That if any money sent any where else "necessarily" means less for the CP. We see the same argument against funding short term mission trips, as if that money would instead go towards the IMB. What we see is that money which funds short term mission trips (STMT) is actually "new" money (money that normally isn't spent on missions). Also, people coming back from STMTs get more excited about mission, and end up personally giving more to the IMB and encourage others to give more.

The world view of scarcity isn't helpful in either case.

For transparency sake I need to remind people that I personally am not a Calvinist, nor a good Southern Baptist.

Tim Dahl

William Thornton said...

Tim, this business of Acts 29 churches being required to make contributions to the organization has been explained as NOT being an absolute requirement, but that subject is worthy of its own topic, as is the business of short term missions.

Tim Dahl said...

Thank you, William. Even if it was a requirement, I don't think it "necessarily" makes it honest competition with the SBC. It doesn't necessarily mean that money will be sent there "instead of" to the SBC.

Perhaps NAMB can become such a wonderful planting organization (for Reformed and Non-Reformed theological types) that the Acts 29 Network won't have such a draw. But, as long as Calvinists are one of the scapegoats for the SBC (as so-called liberals were back in the day), groups like the Acts 29 Network will be a draw.


Ga Blogger said...

This is puzzling. William Harrell was the one that help write, promote, and present the infamous GA Blogger resolution protecting his friend Mike Everson the then powerful GBC Chairman of the Executive committee.

Mike Everson is one of the biggest fans and friends of Al Mohler and SBTS and now leading the charge to Calvinism in the South Ga area under the direction of J. Robert White.

And Mike Everson's former church - Pray's Mill Baptist - is now under the direction of one of his disciples Josh Buice and 9Marks members.

All this to say, what a mess!