Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Greatest SBC Challenge? How about Calvinism?

The SBC Today blog did an interview with our Number One Southern Baptist, the titular head of the SBC in the 363 days the convention is not in session - Frank Page, chairman of the SBC's Executive Committee.

The first question asked Page what he thought were the greatest challenges facing the SBC. The first challenge named by Page in his response was...Calvinism.

Here is the relevant part of the interview:

SBC Today: What do you think are the greatest challenges facing the SBC?

Frank Page: I think the challenges confronting the SBC today are different than they have been in decades past. I think one of the issues which is a tremendous challenge for us is the theological divide of Calvinism and non-Calvinism. Everyone is aware of this, but few want to talk about this in public. The reason is obvious. It is deeply divisive in many situations and is disconcerting in others. At some point we are going to see the challenges which are ensuing from this divide become even more problematic for us. I regularly receive communications from churches who are struggling over this issue.
Surprised?

It's not as if Page doesn't have an array of other challenges to the SBC from which to choose: The Cooperative Program is dropping like a rock. The North American Mission Board is undergoing substantial changes. The Great Commission Resurgence has stirred up the convention a good bit.
But Page's mind goes first to the issue of Calvinism in the SBC when asked about challenges.

Interesting.

I have been wary of calvinists for some time because of what I have seen and heard - churches being split and destroyed by agressive calvinist pastors. Here in Georgia one prominent church has even gone as far as defunding SBC institutions that are too calvinist. I recognize some problems.

But is Calvinism at the top of the list of challenges? I don't know. But Page certainly has my attention here. Maybe he ought to be the one to start talking about it.

47 comments:

Anonymous said...

It is nearly unbelievable that he would make a statement like that. I know of noone who actually cares whether or not you are a Calvinist.

Talk about fiddling while Rome burns.....

Bill Poore said...

The number one problem in the SBC is not Calvinism,it is Arminianism.

William Thornton said...

Bill, perhaps Page hears from a lot of churches about the challenge of Arminianism.

Anon, most people who stay abreast of SBC stuff understand that a lot of people care.

aaron said...

Calvinism is here and deeply entrenched in many of our young pastors. John Piper has had a HUGE influence on the SBC even though he is not in the SBC. A lot of people want to look to SBTS and blame them for the shift but they are just one part of the influence. The passion movement brought Piper in front of tens of thousands who embraced his message of the supremacy of Christ in all things and a passion for his glory. I hear mainly older pastors bemoaning the Calvinists coming into the pulpits and how they are going to ruin the SBC. Well they might not like it but for the foreseeable future these guys are here to stay. Trust me when I say this there are far far far more young ministers that consider themselves 4 and 5 pointers than not. What I am concerned with is the anti-Calvinist rhetoric and the bashing of groups like ACTS 29. I think Frank Page is a unifier but he sees the theological divide as a coming problem. Exclude the young restless and reformed and it is going to be some lonely conventions in the future. It is almost comical when I hear pastors say that these guys are not evangelistic when most of these reformed guys have a passion to reach the lost and to proclaim the Gospel to all the nations. Maybe this is something different and maybe we should give it a new title like neo-reformed or neo-Calvinist but get over the fact that these guys shouldn’t be Baptist. I hope this is addressed at the young leaders forum at the GBC next week.

Anonymous said...

Sorry but I do stay abreast of SBC "stuff" and probably know more pastors than you do--and noone cares.

William Thornton said...

Anon, "no one" is a rather specific.

Were that an accurate statement Page, me, other bloggers, and a raft of Calvinists and Calvinist-wary non-calvinists would not be talking about it.

If you meant to say that no laypeople cared, you would be closer to accuracy but still be off a bit. I know of quite a few paypeople in churches that have had serious conflict triggered by Calvinist pastors who care about Calvinism.

Bill said...

At some point it seems that the SBC will have to address Calvinism in an official way. I wonder what form that will take?

William Birch said...

Bill Poore,

Would you care to expound upon your comment? Why exactly is "Arminianism" the "number one problem" in the SBC, especially given that by far the majority of people in the SBC are "non-Calvinists." How, then, is Arminianism the "number one problem"?

Signed,

Your Arminian SBC brother,

Wm. Birch

Anonymous said...

In all my times spent fellowshipping with other pastors the issue of Calvinism is never even mentioned. Guess its a bigger issue out there where you live.

Jonathan said...

Being what many would call a "Calvinist", I need to push for a bit more precision here. :)

Page's quote was, "I think one of the issues which is a tremendous challenge for us is the theological divide of Calvinism and non-Calvinism"

The concern he expressed was over the theological divide between two sides, rather than a concern over one of the sides. I share Page's concern. It is "one of the issues which is a tremendous challenge for us" as SBCers. As I see it, the challenge is that we address this concern without letting it distract us from our global mission. As Aaron stated, this younger generation of reformed folks are, generally, incredibly passionate about reaching the unreached and have been influenced by a number of like minded folks just outside the SBC camp.

What I fear is that this will turn into a generational thing that will make the recent "worship wars" look like a homecoming event. What I know about these reformed folk is that, forced to choose between their passion and an affiliation with a denomination, their passion will win every time. In an era of falling contributions and tightening budgets, this is not what is needed.

People on both sides of this need to find a way to co-exist.

My own experience causes me to doubt that this is likely.

Les Puryear said...

Frank Page is absolutely right. Calvinism will be the death of the SBC.

Les

Debbie Kaufman said...

Really Les? Because I happen to think that your type of mindset will be the death of the SBC, which by the way seems to change with the weather.

Debbie Kaufman said...

By the way, I dare any of you to ask Frank Page for clarification. I too agreed with Jonathan concerning what Frank said. Anyone care to ask him to clarify?

Jon L. Estes said...

William - Page might have taken the question to mean the most divisive. Maybe not. His answer seems to make me think this way.

I do think Calvinism gets a bad rap because of the lack of education our people in the convention have about it.

I have a wonderful man in my church who is so anti-calvinist he can't even discuss it rationally. Yet, many of the things he teaches in SS are reformed leaning. He is convinced that Calvinists do not witness.

I'd be considered more Calvinist than not, though I don't use the label. Yet, I was asked to stop evangelizing or leave the church because to much evangelism was happening, resulting in too many new members..

Then again, there are a lot of SBCers who wold rather not know about Calvinism.

As far as churches being split, the aggressiveness may be more to point out than the reformed theology. Just a thought. Churches were being split way before Calvinism became a talking point among SBC people. How many churches do we have among our 44,000+ which were started over the decades of the past and Calvinism was not the issue.

I think we just like to fight.

Form the very windy outer banks.

Anonymous said...

I'm a 4.8 Calvinist and because of my faith in the Lord, I extend to all you others the right to be wrong.

Bless you brothers--and remember, we all won't know who was right and wrong until we get to Heaven so maybe we should quit arguing about it now.

Anonymous said...

Les,

Where in his interview did Dr. Page say that Calvinism was going to be the death of the SBC or that Calvinism per se was the greatest problem in the SBC? He said the divide between Calvinists and non-Calvinists was the greatest challenge. Moreover, he does not elaborate on what he means by this. He may mean that Calvinism itself is the problem, though he doesn't say this. He may mean that non-Calvinism is the problem, though this is most unlikely, since he himself, unless he has changed, is a non-Calvinist. He may mean that the lack of understanding and willingness to work together between the two sides is the problem. My guess, from his conciliatory attitude rececently, is that this was what he was thinking about when saying this. Again though, since he does not spell out what he means, I cannot be sure. However, if he did have the last possibility in mind, you must recognize that you and your ilk are a part of the problem.

Bill Poore said...

Brother Birch,In my humble,but correct opinion,the reason we have 16 million members in the SBC and can find only about seven million in church on Sunday is because the majority of SB pastors have been influenced by the theology and methodology of Arminian Charles Finney.Finney was known for his "new methods."He measured the value of methods based on how well they produced results.The "altar call,"(not found before 1820)and the 1,2,3,pray after me "sinners prayer" has produced 16 million Baptist on church roles and half of them are missing in action.

William Birch said...

Bill,

Charles Finney was a semi-Pelagian who rejected Total Depravity and Inability, not an Arminian. Read Arminius, and will understand more clearly the distinction. There is a world of difference between Finney's theology and Classical Arminianism. God bless.

William Birch said...

Bill,

Oh yes, I forgot to add that, I think the biggest (at least theological) "problem" in the SBC is neither Calvinism nor Arminianism but semi-Pelagianism, though semi-Pelagianism is not itself causing strife. It's not like semi-Pelagians in the SBC actually realize they are semi-Pelagian, and are forthrightly standing up for their semi-Pelagianism.

Incidentally, I had one semi-Pelagian blogger suggest that Arminius and those who follow him just want to be modified Calvinists. Oh, the irony.

For obvious theological and soteriological reasons, I think Calvinism is the next biggest "problem" that is causing the most strife in the SBC. Whether or not Calvinism is the biggest problem in the SBC, it is certainly the one that is currently causing the most strife.

Bill said...

Interesting how "divide between Calvinism and non-Calvinism" becomes "Calvinism is the problem." Let us hope this exegetical deficiency isn't applied to scripture.

Stephen Fox said...

I think Page needs to address the Tea Party and the national discussion on W.A. Criswell's successor Jeffress.
Jeffress is getting lot of ink or bytes at religiondispatches.org
And Page is hardwired to the Tea Party by virtue of his association with the politics of Jim Demint, bout five miles from his long pastorate in Taylors, S.C.

S.C. primary continues to choose the GOP candidate.
Page has his hands full with lot of issues.
Another one would be Robert Parham's scorching essay on the Alabama Baptist Convention and Immigration.
USA Today, NY Times: All have done stories on Bama and Immigration.
Where other than standby on SBC Resolution is Page on all that and is it his responsibility to make public statements to Bama Baptist Deacon Gov Bentley, and Albert Lee Smith's widow Eunie--google local news of al.com for last Sunday's scathing essay on Eunie's immigration guru Kris Kobach

Anonymous said...

Stephen, as Rick Perry said, 'I love you bro' but don't be spamming my blog with your mega name drops.

Put it on your blog or BL and I will read it.

William

Anonymous said...

A beloved friend of mine and I disagree on the issue of women in ministry (primarily women in the office(s) of elder, bishop/senior pastor). She knows that I do not recognize the calling she claims but that I love and respect her. I know that she strongly disagrees with my reading of the pertinent Scriptures on the subject but she loves and respects me. As long as we love and respect one another, don't treat each other as enemies of the Gospel, there is ground for meaningful friendship.

On the issue of the divide between the Calvinists and the non-Calvinists in SBC life, there is a significant number of folks on both sides who seem to be approaching treating one another as enemies of the Gospel. This is no ground for relationship.

chadwick said...
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William Birch said...

Chadwick,

What an utterly ignorant statement. Thank you for proving me right: so few actually know Arminius. If they did, they wouldn't utter such foolish nonsense.

Scribe said...

Arminius and Pelagius are Simese twins; they both are joined at that hip; they both exalt man rather than God.


I wouldn't want non-Calvinists caricaturing Calvinism with simplistic and reductionistic assertions . I see it unfair and just plain intellectually lazy to classify Classical Arminians as Pelagian equivalents, theologically. An adherence to Prevenient grace by Classical Arminians should dissuade any theologically informed person of making such an erroneous assumption...

Bill Poore said...

If God said to you,"Why should I let you into my heaven?"How would you answer?Would you begin the sentence with...Because I...Or would you say...Because God...?

Dr. James Willingham said...

If it were not too inappropriate due to the griefs of some, I would roll on the floor with howls of laughter...especially about Mr. Page's remarks. Talk about being uninformed historically, etc. Back this Spring there died a Sovereign Grace man in Greensboro, who used to speak in the church where page grew up or so I understand. Dr. Page seems to enjoy the freedom that that gentleman purchased for him at the expense of a hair-raising 50+ missions as a fighter pilot, flying a P-38 in WWII, guarding bombers from North Africa bombing the oil fields of Rumania. In one instance, Bro. Geral Primm was the only fighter in his wing to return. In another instance, he crashed landed his shot up fighter at 150 miles per hour. He recived for his exploits the DSC from the Air Force (Army I suppose in those days). Akinder, gentler man, I have never known, nor one who cared so much for Southern Baptists.

And while I am at it, I was taught Sovereign Grace as a child though I did not know it...by my country pastor, Rev. George Washington Gray, pastor of the Nimmons Baptist Church, Nimmons, Arkansas. Then after my conversion in '57 in St. Louis, I had a former youth minister for R.G. Lee Baptize and License me to the ministry. Following him I was ordained by Dr. lee's former Associate Pastor, Dr. Ernest R. Campbell, the founder and first President of the American Race Track Chaplaincy (when he was pastor at FBC Hialeah). Dr. Campbell would tell you from the pulpit and person to person that he was a calvinist, a hyper-calvinist, a supralapsarian. Then he would smile and seek to win you to Christ. Some of the greatest soul-winning sermons I ever heard in my life were preached by that man...like Why Sit Ye Here Till Ye Die...and The Great Supper. And where does Dr. Page think he gets the freedom to be so outlandish. It came from the Sovereign Grace folks of Virginia and North Carolina. In 1787 they worked out an agreement, that the preaching that Christ tasted death for every man would be no bar to communion. That means that the particular redemptionists/limited atonement people were the ones responsible for the Great Awakenings and the launching of the Great Century of Missions. And Dr. Page does not know such things. When you do not know your history, you are doomed tomake some terrible mistakes. Now shall, I ignore my ancestor who is in Henry Holcombe's History of Alabama Baptists of 1840 as a Baptist Preacher of note, Elder Holland Middleton? O yes, he might have been onte of the two officer sof the court appointed to execute the Will of Elder Daniel Marshall the foundr of the first continuing Baptist Church in Georgia, Kiokee Baptist Church. And by the way shall I mention that the first missionary of Southern Baptists to China, Matthew T. Yates, came from a church just just down the road from my house about a mile or so, and that churches articles of faith did not say anything about Jesus dying for the world but only that He died for the death? And I wonder if Dr. Page expects to see as many converted as I do...beginning with the Third Great Awakening, hopefully in this generation, and winning every soul on earth and continuing for a thousand generations and a thousand thousand worlds (thinks to good old Limited Atonement, John Owen)...and that the limited atonement idea is a paradoxical intervention, a therapeutic paraedox? Could this be why it was the calvinists who started the great missionary movement as well as the ecumenical movement?

Dr. James Willingham said...

The articles of Mt. Pisgah specify that Christ died for the church...and mentions no one else.

William Birch said...

Bill,

I echo Arminian scholar Dr. Forlines:

If when I stand before God He should ask me, “What is your hope of acceptance based on?” I would not mention anything that I have ever done or not done. I would say, “My hope is built on nothing less and nothing more than the death and righteousness of Christ.” I would not even say, “I had faith in Christ.” When I declared that I was basing my hope of acceptance on the death and righteousness of Christ — that and that alone would be a manifestation of my faith.

F. Leroy Forlines, Classical Arminianism: A Theology of Salvation (Nashville: Randall House Publications, 2011), 268.

chadwick said...
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William Birch said...

Chadwick Ivester,

If you wouldn't make such foolish statements, then you wouldn't have to be called out for doing so.

Salvation is monergistic. God will monergistically save the one who trusts in Christ Jesus. No one contributes to God's regenerating an individual. He saves the one who will believe in Christ; this is merely Scripture 101 (cf. 1 Cor. 1:21).

Thus, you suggesting that Arminius's theology is tantamount to the heresy of Pelagius is of utmost offense. Would you appreciate it if I attributed your Calvinism to the likes of Fred Phelps, linking you and all Calvinists with that heretic? I doubt it.

Hence, educate yourself (yourselves) on the theology of Arminius, and such harsh rebukes will not be needed.

God bless.

chadwick said...
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William Birch said...

Chadwick,

Oh, I see, it's okay for you to make outrageous assertions and lies about Arminius, but when I defend him, I'm charged with "exalting Arminius over the Scriptures." Gee, with "brothers" in Christ like you, I don't need worldly enemies. Thanks for displaying your true colors, brother.

If many Calvinists wouldn't lie and misrepresent Arminius -- which speaks volumes about their integrity and alleged godliness -- then I wouldn't have to spend time coming to his defense. Here's to hoping and praying for real change.

chadwick said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
William Birch said...

Chaddwick,

Again and again you display your ignorance (meaning uninformed knowledge).

Arminius states, "In this [fallen] state, the Free Will of man towards the True Good is not only wounded, maimed, infirm, bent, and weakened; but it is also imprisoned, destroyed, and lost: And its powers are not only debilitated and useless unless they be assisted by grace, but it has no powers except such as are excited by Divine grace." (Works, 2:192).

Is this what you call Pelagianism? If so, then consider yourself a Pelagian. In such a case, I guess you also must have the integrity and leave the SBC.

I accept the BF&M, and if you went onto my site, you'd know that already. What you have displayed here is to promote nothing more than ignorance, in the classical sense, and discord, not unity. You continue to misrepresent Arminius and Arminianism, which speaks volumes about the lack of your integrity. I hope the Lord brings repentance to your heart, brother.

chadwick said...
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chadwick said...
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William Birch said...

Chaddwick,

You think Arminius would call me inconsistent: well, he would have called you a liar for misrepresenting him, which you did, which you have yet to acknowledge, and for which you have yet to apologize!

Where in this comment thread did I admit that Arminius could sign the BF&M? I admitted that I could sign it. In case you don't quite get it yet, I am not Arminius.

Remonstrance of 1610, Article I:

That God, by an eternal, unchangeable purpose in Jesus Christ, His Son, before the foundation of the world, hath determined, out of the fallen, sinful race of men, to save in Christ, for Christ’s sake, and through Christ, those who, through the grace of the Holy Spirit, shall believe on this His Son Jesus, and shall persevere in this faith and obedience of faith, through this grace, even to the end; and, on the other hand, to leave the incorrigible and unbelieving in sin and under wrath, and to condemn them as alienate from Christ....

Are you actually suggesting that this article on salvation is contrary to the BF&M? On Election, it states, "Election is the gracious purpose of God, according to which He regenerates, justifies, sanctifies, and glorifies sinners. It is consistent with the free agency of man, and comprehends all the means in connection with the end. It is the glorious display of God’s sovereign goodness, and is infinitely wise, holy, and unchangeable. It excludes boasting and promotes humility."

Ut-oh, Chadwick, the BF&M must be man-centered because it mentioned free will!!!

The BF&M's mention of consistency with man's freed will -- freed by the work of the Holy Spirit -- corresponds well with the Remonstrance of 1610, Article IV:

That this grace of God is the beginning, continuance, and accomplishment of any good, even to this extent, that the regenerate man himself, without that prevenient or assisting, awakening, following, and co-operative grace, can neither think, will, nor do good, nor withstand any temptations to evil; so that all good deeds or movements that can be conceived must be ascribed to the grace of God in Christ.

Yes, Southern Baptists have a stronger view of eternal security than does Arminius and the Remonstrants, who admitted, in Article V., that the issue "must be more particularly determined out of the Holy Scriptures before we ourselves can teach it with the full persuasion of our minds."

But to suggest that an Arminian is not allowed to hold to eternal security is ludicrous. Hence I can both be an Arminian who holds to eternal security AND sign the BF&M. Unless, of course, you're trying to Calvinize the SBC and be rid of all "non-Calvinistic"-type believers. What a small little convention you'd all have then!

William Birch said...

All:

Chadwick is, yet again, lying and misrepresenting Arminian theology, and needs to apologize and repent before the Lord. Here are the Five Articles of Remonstrance.

ARTICLE I. That God, by an eternal, unchangeable purpose in Jesus Christ, His Son, before the foundation of the world, hath determined, out of the fallen, sinful race of men, to save in Christ, for Christ’s sake, and through Christ, those who, through the grace of the Holy Spirit, shall believe on this His Son Jesus, and shall persevere in this faith and obedience of faith, through this grace, even to the end; and, on the other hand, to leave the incorrigible and unbelieving in sin and under wrath, and to condemn them as alienate from Christ, according to the word of the Gospel in John 3:36: “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life; and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him,” and according to other passages of Scripture also.

ARTICLE II. That, agreeably thereto, Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world, died for all men and for every man, so that He has obtained for them all, by His death on the cross, redemption, and the forgiveness of sins; yet that no one actually enjoys this forgiveness of sins, except the believer, according to the word of the Gospel of John 3:16: “God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life”; and in the First Epistle of John 2:2: “And He is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.”

ARTICLE III. That man has not saving grace of himself, nor of the energy of his free-will, inasmuch as he, in the state of apostasy and sin, can of and by himself neither think, will, nor do anything that is truly good (such as saving faith eminently is); but that it is needful that he be born again of God in Christ [a form of prevenient grace, not regeneration proper, as we think today], through His Holy Spirit, and renewed in understanding, inclination, or will, and all his powers, in order that he may rightly understand, think, will, and effect what is truly good, according to the word of Christ, John 15:6: “Without Me ye can do nothing.”

ARTICLE IV. That this grace of God is the beginning, continuance, and accomplishment of any good, even to this extent, that the regenerate man himself, without that prevenient or assisting, awakening, following, and co-operative grace, can neither think, will, nor do good, nor withstand any temptations to evil; so that all good deeds or movements that can be conceived must be ascribed to the grace of God in Christ. But, as respects the mode of the operation of this grace, it is not irresistible, inasmuch as it is written concerning many that they have resisted the Holy Spirit, — Acts 7:51, and elsewhere in many places.

ARTICLE V. That those who are incorporated into Christ by a true faith, and have thereby become partakers of His life-giving Spirit, have thereby full power to strive against Satan, sin, the world, and their own flesh, and to win the victory, it being well understood that it is ever through the assisting grace of the Holy Spirit; and that Jesus Christ assists them through His Spirit in all temptations, extends to them his hand; and if only they are ready for the conflict, and desire His help, and are not inactive, keeps them from falling, so that they, by no craft or power of Satan, can be misled, nor plucked out of Christ’s hands, according to the word of Christ, John 10:28: “Neither shall any man pluck them out of My hand.” But whether they are capable, through negligence, of forsaking again the first beginnings of their life in Christ, of again returning to this present evil world, of turning away from the holy doctrine which was delivered them, of losing a good conscience, of becoming devoid of grace, that must be more particularly determined out of the Holy Scriptures before we ourselves can teach it with the full persuasion of our minds.

Dr. James Willingham said...

Mr. Birch, you are being extraordinarily harsh on Mr. Ivester who is a good hearted fellow. As to Arminius, he reminds me of leaving Union station in St. Louis back in the 40s. One might be running on a track next to a New York Central orPenn Central or a Frisco or a Wabash or some such railroad company's crack streamliners, but eventually they began to diverge, and, sooner or later, they wind up at destinations totally opposite of each other. Theologies are a lot like that. The originators of vast systems of thought have little idea of what their followers will derive from their systems....and as the free will in the BF&M, free agency is not quite the free will that the Pelagians have in mind (and you note that in the expression "a freed will" by grace...a rather dead give away to Sovereign Grace, don't you think?). And you have to remember it took John Wesley a goodly amount of effort to stop trouncing Whitefield who after realizing how stupid it was for them to be doing so made the effort to get back on track together. In the end Whitefield requests Wesley to preach his funeral sermon and says he does not expect to see Wesley in Heaven because the latter will be so close to the throne and he Whitefield so far from it, he won't be able to see him. After Wesley preached the funeral, it is reported he said much the same about Whitefield. Whether this is true or not, I did come across it in one biography by Pollock (I think it was). In any case it sounded so good, they would have wished they had said it. The excesses of either theology are too well known and to be avoided, while we do preach what is best in the same. You might want to consult Spurgeon on Free Agency...I always like to see when a convert of an Arminian becomes a Calvinist and vice versa. Makes life so much more interesting, don't you think? Surely better than bashing one another over the head...with theological billy clubs...though that is the Baptist way..and often just proves they are free and alive. O, and by the way, I love all five points along with P & R and expect to win the whole earth to Christ beginning with this generation and continuing for a 1000 generations and a thousand thousand worlds just so God can make the humorous remark about the number of redeemed in Heaven being a number no one can number (gender would allow for God to be included..I think but stand ready to be corrected)(Rev.7:9). A paradoxical intervention, a therapeutic paradox, no?

William Birch said...

Dr. Willingham,

Thank you for responding. I wouldn't have to be so "harsh" with Chadwick if he would just stop misrepresenting and at times lying about Arminius and Arminianism. There's no need for it. He can state why he disagrees with it, but he has no absolute right to caricature it -- set up a straw man and then burn it in effigy.

Arminius has always held to a modified (way too modified for some) Calvinistic position with regard to man's alleged "free will." If by "Sovereign Grace," you're referring to the Spirit's monergistic work in conviction of sin, etc., then yes, we agree.

I also read that story of Whitefield and Wesley. The same was not true of Arminius and Gomarus, which seems like what is going on here between Chadwick and myself.

Contrary to how it may appear, I actually despise these types of confrontations. They give me both stomach- and headaches. They cause me to grieve spiritually as well.

Now, I could just let Ivester's comments pass on, letting others who read them think that what he is writing is true, or I can confront him, and hold him responsible for his words. I chose the latter because I see this sort of thing happen on a weekly basis. People who have no idea what they're talking about when it comes to Arminius start spewing forth caricatures and lies -- lies, by the way, that they've read from other Calvinists, whether historically (John Owen, Augustus Toplady, Abraham Kuyper), or today (Piper, MacArthur, David Steele, Curtis Thomas, S. Lance Quinn, J.I. Packer et al.)

This isn't fair, and I will not tolerate it. I will confront it when and wherever I encounter it. Hopefully, prayerfully, I will, in the future, do so a bit more gentler. But you (and Chadwick) need to consider how his words have appeared to me -- not good at all.

God bless.

Dr. James Willingham said...

Dear Brother Birch: Brother Chadwick is a young fellow, compared to me, and i trust compared to you (but I could be wrong on the latter). What he complains about is more based upon bad set-toos with Arminian types than with the actual situations. If you knew how many bash calvinists or, rather, the caricatures of such as in the case of many calvinists who bash caricatures of Arminianism, you might appreciate better where he is coming from and not be so upset about it. Consider for the moment that America was called in the 1800 American Historians like George Bancroft, the calvinist republic. Not many know that fact today. And the SBC was founded and maintained by predominantly Sovereign Grace believers from 1845-1935. Few, very few of the leaders, would have denied the doctrines of grace in that founding period. What I get a kick out is the converts of Calvinists who become Arminians and of Arminians who become Calvinists. I use to have a goodly list of such vice versas. Don't sweat Brother Chadwick. He is a good minister of Christ and would no doubt come to your aid, if you were in need. You will get farther with him by a softer approach. Besides Arminius and Wesley are not worried about misrepresentation now any more than Calvin and Whitefield.

William Thornton said...

William Birch and Chadwick, interesting, though tedious discussion you two are having with yourselves. You might find it more appropriate to have this on one or the other of your blogs. Thanks.

My take on Page's comments is that his concern is as much the practical impact of calvinist pastors in churches as it is the theological implications of the doctrines of John Calvin.

Let's move on here. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Well, Ga is the hotbed for Calvinism SCC Plodder. Just ask your boss J Robert White, who is a huge supporter of this movement. In fact Mike Everson is a seed and the plant of J Robert White in South Ga as a "missionary or " MRC " to over 900 churches who silently and carefully pushes the Calvinist agenda. Mike Everson IS a huge and and well known CALVINIST and has left his droppings all the way to North Ga and at his former church Prays Mill who is now a 9 MARKS - CALVINIST organization church!

William Thornton said...

Dr. White and others I have heard or spoken with on GBC staff express concern about calvinism in Georgia.

I prefer here to avoid harsh personal references; hence, my editing of your comment.

Dr. James Willingham said...

The reason for the increase in the tribe of Sovereign Grace believers is because we are getting ready for a Third Great Awakening. I have been praying for such an awakening, since 1973. As a historian who has done the reading and the research in the period of the First and Second Great Awakenings and the launching of the Great Century of Missions, I know that the theology of those events in America was and is Sovereign Grace. It follows that the theology, being a necessary component to such a visitation, must have its adherents who will implement it in faith and practice.

Now the folks who do not want such a visitation (as it will threaten their control of things) do a number of things. They berate such teachings, they infiltrate agents in to the movement who will push proponents and opponents to extremes on either side of issues. However, God in His Sovereign Mercy has designed to have a number for His Son which number cannot be numbered in Heaven (Rev.7:9). Thus, it follows that so the number of adherents will be of such size that opposition will see due to weakness and paucity of spirit, and the church, terrible as an army with banners, will march forth in dread array to take every soul on earth, hopefully beginning in this generation, in one generation and then continuing for a total of at least one thousand generations and reaching to thousands and thousands of worlds (IF ONE ALLOWS JUST 20 YEARS PER GENERATION THAT MEANS 20,000 YEARS). I think the visitation of God will be that spoken of in Hebs. 12 where He says He will shake not the earth only but HEAVEN ALSO.