Thursday, August 23, 2012

Anti-calvinist SBC headquarters?

Just asking here, brethren and sistren...but is the obscure Georgia Baptist college, Truett-McConnell College now the headquarters of anti-Calvinism in the Southern Baptist Convention?

It certainly looks that way to this observer.

TMC is local, exactly 55.68 miles north of me, although I have never been on the campus. Maybe I will get an invitation. It is located in a lovely area.

Emir Caner is the president of the college, a Georgia Baptist Convention entity, and he has recently written a piece critical of the new LifeWay curriculum: The Gospel Project: A birdseye view from the Blue Ridge mountains.

The article was posted on the blog SBC Today which is owned by the college. TMC is a Georgia Baptist Convention institution and is in the budget for one million Cooperative Program dollars this year, dollars collected from both Calvinist and non-Calvinist GBC churches.

Certainly SBC Today can legitimately be said to be at least indirectly a GBC blog which makes for an interesting scenario whereby Calvinistic GBC churches are paying for the anti-Calvinist SBC Today blog.

Hmmm...didn't we conservatives object to paying for certain things way back when the Conservative Resurgence was under way?

One wonders if the GBC wants to be tied so closely to one side of an issue where Georgia Baptists are divided.

SBC Today has been the source of a steady stream of anti-Calvinist articles and, as best as I can tell, is the chief blogging source for anti-Calvinism in the SBC. If there is a more prominent blog doing such, I would appreciate one of my readers kindly informing me if I am uninformed and out of touch.

I check SBC Today regularly and like some of their offerings, particularly Joe McKeever's articles. I hope they don't move to all anti-Calvinism, all the time.

I am not a Calvinist and have not a few pieces critical of Calvinists and Calvinism, so don't throw that traditionalist hymnal at me brethren. I'm just asking questions here.


27 comments:

Bill said...

I think you are on target. On the flip side, I think the constant anti-Calvinism articles are bringing some of the most strident, cage-phase Calvinists out of the woodwork in the comments section. The kind I would rather not have representing me. I will say, if he happens to read this, that Brad Reynolds of TM has been a gracious and reasonable voice in the exchanges I have had with him.

William Thornton said...

I seldom read all of the long comment streams especially if it is the usual Calvinist, anti-Calvinist stuff but have found the TMC employees to be reasonable, gracious and proper in their handling of comments.

Darryl Hill said...

I think you're pretty well on target. But I'm sure the answer to your question that would be given is that SBC seminaries Southern and Southeastern are calvinistic and are supported by SBC monies as well, so that justifies them.

I don't know of any other web-site that is more anti-calvinist than sbctoday. I've only been reading their site since early June and it's been almost exclusively anti-calvinist articles for the last 3 months. I understand that they had some really good content written by some really solid brothers prior to that, but it would appear that they've decided to embrace what they see as their role here, which is to root out calvinism in the sbc.

My problem is not with the conversation happening. My problem is with the conspiracy theorists who envision that Al Mohler is sitting in his castle somewhere rubbing his hands together and laughing maniacally, moving chess pieces around on his board. The other problem that I see is that, while I see traditionalists as brothers in Christ, it seems some who post over there are very bitter over past experiences and project the sinful behavior of some calvinists onto all who believe in doctrines of grace to the point that they're viewed as an enemy of the Gospel.

Debbie Kaufman said...

"Cage phased Calvinists"? Really Bill. I think you have been reading too many SBCToday articles.

These guys are those who are simply telling what they believe. I would not label them "cage phased", which is a derogatory term. They are passionate about what they believe. Shouldn't we all be passionate about our faith?

You might have a difficult time with Charles Spurgeon who was pretty passionate if you read his sermons. Some say he died from a broken heart over the down grade incident. That's pretty passionate.

Tom Parker said...

William:

I've quit going to SBC Today--of which I am sure the editor is glad. But all that is posted on it--once again a figure of speech--are ANTI-CALVINISM POSTS.

If they are hoping to be a part of the solution, they are going about it the wrong way.

Bill said...

Debbie: I'm pretty sure the term "cage-phase" was coined by Calvinists. I don't think I've seen it at SBCToday. Passion should not supercede reason and civility. Calling non-Calvinists pelagian, semi-pelagians, arminians, losing the true Gospel, etc, are classic cage-phase tactics. Calvinists can do better, and we should do better. If we cannot be critical of our own we have no business being critical of others. There are cage-phase anti-Calvinists out there as well. We see them jump into almost every comment stream, almost every thread within a stream. When we use the same tactics we are no better, and we need to be better. Every Calvinist does not deserve to be defended.

Big Daddy Weave said...

When visiting south Georgia recently for the first time in nearly a decade, I chatted with some people from Brewton-Parker College.

I was told that the Department of Christianity chair - the guy who succeeded my dad when he got the boot in 2003 for his moderate ways - got canned himself a year or two ago due to his CALVINISM.

Apparently Calvinism was explicitly cited as a reason for firing. I found that quite amazing. Most of the time these Baptist administrators are not exactly honest about that sort of thing....

So, is the GBC really divided on Calvinism? I'm not sure they are.

Emir Caner (and his brother) have long been two of the most hostile anti-Calvinists within the SBC.

If you ever get down in southeast Georgia, visit BPC. The place is in disarray. Campus is in shambles. Some buildings are shut down, one building condemned and others don't look livable. They are on probation with SACS and possibly months away from losing accreditation.

Georgia Baptists ought to address their Higher Ed issues. Looks like Shorter and TMC are the future.

BDW

D.R. Randle said...

Interesting perspective coming from the Plodder. I don't think you will find many Calvinists disagreeing w/ you on this, but perhaps you will show a few of the guys @ SBCToday & their commenting supporters that others outside of Calvinism are perceiving the situation in the same way.

Let me add one additional perspective that I was thinking about earlier today. Though I don't believe the CR in general was about power or control, I do think some (especially a few leaders) were motivated by a tinge of desire to keep their jobs & not be marginalized.

I think the same is happening here, except those in the anti-Calvinist camp don't have the historical & theological legs to stand on. The SBC's Evangelical Calvinists are conservative, authentic, Biblically-strong, & morally upright. Calvinists in the SBC tend to be on the cutting-edge of theological debate (against enemies like Postmodernism, Open Theism, Annihilationism, & NPP), not on the margins promoting such false doctrines.

This makes me wonder if some like those @ T-Mac & elsewhere are less concerned about theology & more concerned they'll be marginalized in a New SBC Calvinist majority. Would Emir Caner, as outspoken against Calvinism & @ times harshly so, be welcomed on a podium w/the Johnny Hunt, David Platt, Mark Dever, & Frank Page? I can't see it happening - not unless he greatly softens his stance like Hunt & Page have more recently. And given what's happening & SBCToday, that's not likely.

Thus, I wonder if @ least some of this, if not much of it, is really about power & control, rather than theology. The content of the posts @ SBCToday certainly seem to suggest so.

(***by the way, Tom Parker, please don't use my words to make this thread about the CR - I was merely drawing an analogy to some, but I do believe the CR was necessary & for the most part enacted for the right reasons, though I readily admit motives are always complex & sin always taints even the best of our efforts.)

D.R. Randle said...

Aaron,

I can't believe I am saying this, but thanks for your perspective on that & relating that story. That confirms some things we're hearing. (By the way, I was just kidding, even though you booted me off your site, which I regret & @ times think I deserved, I do think you often - especially when coming to the conservative blogs - offer a good, unique perspective).

We're seeing as well w/in the leadership of the GBC a very bad reaction to Calvinism. Unfortunately, possibly 50-70% of pastors under 45 in the GBC would consider themselves @ least 4-point Calvinists. So the GBC's either going to have to try to accept & work with us or they're going to continue to decline as we continue to feel marginalized.

D.R. Randle said...

Debbie, I will defend Bill here - Cage-phase is a self-descriptor for Calvinists. I have used the term to describe myself & other Calvinists. There are some like that @ SBCToday - I just hope I wouldn't be counted among that group. Maybe Bill would be honest enough to rebuke me if so.

Bill said...

DR: I'll be honest with you and say that I have not been happy with the Calvinist response to the articles at SBCToday, but your name does not immediately spring to mind. ;)

Debbie Kaufman said...

Well DR and Bill I disagree with the term. Passionate about one's faith does not mean cage stage. It means one is passionate about their faith.

A new Christian would then be in the Cage Stage as we know some clumsy stories of sharing their faith in Christ. I personally hate the term. When one discovers Calvinism or Reformed or whatever label you want to place on it, there is a stage people go through much like a new born Christian. They are excited and passionate. Nothing wrong with this.

This whole war is ridiculous and it was begun at SBCToday. It was wrong from the beginning.

I agree that on either side there has been a passionate discussion and not all of it has been Christ honoring but that is what happens when you try to exclude someone from the SBC. It's going to get heated. SBCToday knew that going in. I think they counted on it and thrive on it. I can't blame Calvinists for wanting to stand against it strongly. I have seen no Calvinist attempt to misrepresent nor exclude "Traditioinalists" a term I also have a hard time using.

I am not saying either is right or wrong. But when you post something like the statement posted before the Convention, and Article 2 does lean toward semi-pelagianism if one is to be honest about it, that is a cause for more concern than being called semi-pelaganist.

Debbie Kaufman said...

That should be "Traditionalist". That is how difficult that term rolls off of my fingers.

BTW I don't care who came up with the term "Stage cage" it is a misuse and wrong term. It's degrading passion. I will not ever use it.

Tom Parker said...

Debbie:

I remember the war over conservatives and "liberals" and now we are having the war between Calvinist and non-Calvinist. Why?
What will it fix?

Anonymous said...

Debbie,

I am not a fan of the term either. I detest the use of labels all together but they are here to stay, it seems.

One of the popular bloggers stated recently:

"There is, however, a difference between disagreement with a spirit of humility and grace and disagreement that calls people heretics and deniers of the faith, as James has done. You speak the language one understands. " - Wade Burleson

I think that could apply here if it the language one understands and is in the spirit of humility and grace. Of course, in words typed it is difficult to know if humility and grace are being shown.

Ben

Anonymous said...

DR Randle writes "... Tom Parker, please don't use my words to make this thread about the CR - I was merely drawing an analogy to some"

OK, now, wait for it, here it comes

DR Randle further writes "but I do believe the CR was necessary & for the most part enacted for the right reasons, though I readily admit motives are always complex & sin always taints even the best of our efforts."

This is how it is done at SBC Voices, too; that is, conservatives introduce CR in some form or fashion, but when moderates pick up on the theme they are chided for such.

C'mon guys, you can't have it both ways but you can have both Calvinist and non-Calvinist in fellowship and joint ministry. Most of the Christian church is already doing it. Grow up, please.

Tom Parker said...

DR:

I usually do not respond to your comment, but you were the one that mentioned the CR and not me and tagged my name with the CR. Please do not be a hypocrite about such matters. It makes you look small at least in my eyes.

My view on the CR are well known--I do not have to reiterate them.

Rick Patrick said...

I sometimes write and post articles on SBC Today. Clearly, the site promotes the theology found in the Traditional Statement which I happen to believe.

Some of those in the comment stream expressed a lack of familiarity with any other websites that questioned the rising Calvinism in Southern Baptist life. I would have to mention two of the better known ones. First, you should consider peterlumpkins.com. Secondly, check out the Calvinist Flyswatter blog.

One last consideration, in light of Darryl's caricature of conspiracy theorists envisioning Al Mohler sitting in his castle, moving chess pieces and laughing maniacally. Truly, truly, I say unto you that I do not know anyone who believes that. No one. Nada.

Some on the reformed side are conflating this wild idea of an unproven conspiracy theory with the altogether reasonable and proven existence of a "true agenda to promote Calvinism in our convention even though most Southern Baptists are unaware of this agenda so it is, practically speaking, a secret agenda." Many Calvinists would like the entire SBC to be Calvinist. It's high time we let the SBC know.

Tom Parker said...

Rick Patrick:

You said:"Many Calvinists would like the entire SBC to be Calvinist. It's high time we let the SBC know."

Talk about a conspiracy--can you prove the above wild allegation?

That is right up there with--we are being overrun by "liberals" in days gone by.

BTW, I'm sure you are well-liked at SBC Today!

Bill said...

I think you do SBCToday and Tomorrow a disservice to list them with the Calvinist Flyswatter blog. Whatever I think of their positions, they are not the National Enquirer of anti-Calvinism, which is what the Flyswatter site is, although some in the previous regime at SBCToday were enamored of the site. I hope the folks at TM have more discernment.

William Thornton said...

I am simply observing that SBCT, now owned by a GBC institution is the chief anti-Calvinistic blog site. If there is any that are more popular or read, I would like to know.

I would prefer discussion to be on that.

Thanks.

Tom Parker said...

William:

You said:"I am simply observing that SBCT, now owned by a GBC institution is the chief anti-Calvinistic blog site. If there is any that are more popular or read, I would like to know.

I would prefer discussion to be on that.

Thanks."

The answer to your question above is a simple--no! They win the prize.

Anonymous said...

What's the difference between the Calvinists wanting to take over the convention (an accusation I read somewhere) and the non Calvinists trying to rid the SBC of any and all Calvinists (something I read into the SBC Today owners blog)?

Not a thing. If either are right it is a fight for their doctrine to be the purifying doctrine for the SBC.

I can't tell you much about Calvinism and I don't believe everything the anti group say concerning it but I do believe too much is being made about too little (on both sides - at least the few who love to argue about it).

Chad

Tom Parker said...

Chad:

You said:"If either are right it is a fight for their doctrine to be the purifying doctrine for the SBC.
"

For me two phrases you said jump out at me--THEIR DOCTRINE--PURIFYING DOCTRINE.

Both phrases concern me about either group.

Anonymous said...

Tom,

They concern me also but that is my take on this. Do you disagree that each group who like to fight the other over this, think "their" doctrine is to be the purifying doctrine for the SBC?

If not, why do they speak so loud to cast the other out? If either get their way there will be something else to fight soon after. Probably a fight against those who won't fight.

Chad

Tom Parker said...

Chad:

You said to me:" Do you disagree that each group who like to fight the other over this, think "their" doctrine is to be the purifying doctrine for the SBC? "

No, I do not disagree with you on this.

From where I sit it will another CR over this issue.

Gary said...

Calvinistic Baptists have more in common with Lutherans than they think. When it comes to the adult non-believer who converts to the Christian faith, Arminians, Calvinists and Lutherans are in full agreement: salvation occurs when the sinner believes. Baptism is not a necessary requirement to be saved. We have theological differences in how believing occurs, but we all believe that the second a sinner believes he is saved.

Our significant denominational differences arise when we talk about the salvation of the infants and toddlers of Christian parents: how are these young children saved? What happens if, God forbid, one of them should die before reaching the age where they are capable of expressing a saving faith in Christ?

The Arminian answer is this: God saves all infants and toddlers who die, even the infants and toddlers of non-believers. They have no hard proof from Scripture to support this belief, but they believe that King David's comments about his dead infant gives them support for their position. Infants who die are "safe" in the arms of a loving God.

Calvinists look at their children in this manner: Their children are either the Elect or they are not. Presbyterian Calvinists will baptize their infants to bring them into the "covenant" (whatever that is!)of the Church but do not believe that baptism has any salvific value. "If my child is of the Elect he will declare himself to be a believer when he is older." A Calvinistic Baptist does not baptize his infant, but looks at Election in the same way: My child is either of the Elect or not. There is nothing I can do but bring him up in the Faith and leave the rest to God.

Lutherans believe that when God told us to baptize all nations, he meant to baptize ALL those who are the Elect. Many Arminians and Calvinists assume that Lutherans believe that anyone that they run through the baptismal font will get into heaven. Not true! Only the Elect will get into heaven. We baptize our infants in the HOPE that they are the Elect. Is it possible that some of the infants of Christian parents whom we baptize are not of the Elect and therefore will not be in heaven? Yes! But that is a mystery of God that we do not attempt to explain or understand.

But we believe we do our job of "baptizing all nations" (who are of the Elect)by baptizing our infants and we then leave their Election up to God. We do our job of instructing them in the Faith as they grow up, but when they are older it will be their responsibility to nurture their faith with prayer, Bible study, and worship. If they abandon their faith and turn their back on God, they may wake up one day in hell! Baptism is NOT a "Get-into-heaven-free" card! Salvation is by God's grace alone, received in faith alone.

No faith--->no salvation--->no eternal life!

The Calvinist position on the salvation of infants is very confusing to me. It seems to be a process. A specific event of salvation is not necessary. Is there any example in the NT of anyone being saved by a process?

As much as I deplore Arminian theology, I do like the fact that they insist on a specific "when" of salvation. However, they are wrong to believe that the "when" of salvation is based on THEIR decision when in reality it is based on GOD'S decision.

If Calvinists agree with Lutherans that it is God who chooses who will be saved, and it is God who chooses when to save...which approach seems more Scriptural for the salvation of our children: God saves THOSE OF OUR CHILDREN WHO ARE OF THE ELECT in a one-time event in Holy Baptism or he saves them in a nebulous, drawn-out process over a period of years? Unless, of course, Calvinistic Baptists believe that their children who are the Elect are born saved...I certainly hope they do not believe that the Elect are born saved as do some hard-core Calvinists.

To read more:

http://www.lutherwasnotbornagain.com/2013/07/calvinistic-baptists-have-more-in.html