Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Did you notice the Calvinist team's only pragmatic recommendation?

Frank Page did a good job with his Calvinist team. He initiated the process, picked the people, and marshaled the group to a positive conclusion. I give him credit and appreciate his leadership.

At the SBC meeting this week it has been love and kisses all around among the Calvinists, non-Calvinists, and fence sitters. Al Mohler and Eric Hankins, the former is the SBC's leading Calvinist warrior and the latter has acquired by default the lead position for Traditionalists, are now BFFs.

Mohler will quickly show us if he is serious about moderating his words if not his Calvinistic views. Check his widely read blog for backsliding in coming months and more importantly, watch his hiring decisions.

One wonders if the CEO of our flagship seminary will even deign to acknowledge that some churches are designating around Southern Seminary and some Associational Missionaries and other Southern Baptists recommend not hiring SBTS graduates because of the perception of aggressive Calvinistic views?

Albert, this would be a good time for a chapel message that takes Danny Akins' statement, "Southeastern Seminary will be a Calvinist seminary over my dead body," or similar. And you might take time to bear down on your neophyte theologian students about being too cocksure and militant about Johannes Calvinus to the exclusion of Jesus Christ. That will preach well and also be received well around the SBC.

But, brethren, did you notice the repetition of the single specific and directed, pragmatic recommendation of the Calvinist study team? Here it is:
In order to prevent the rising incidence of theological conflict in the churches, we should expect all candidates for ministry positions in the local church to be fully candid and forthcoming about all matters of faith and doctrine, even as we call upon pulpit and staff search committees to be fully candid and forthcoming about their congregation and its expectations.
Translation: Calvinist candidates should start being open and transparent. There is no rash of stealth Traditionalists sneaking into churches and tearing them up.

Paige Patterson, yesterday on the panel:
"Just be honest. Be forthright, up front [about beliefs on Calvinism]," Patterson said, speaking to those who submit resumes for church positions. "
If I stop hearing stories about stealth Calvinists, confused or uninformed church search committees, and resultant problems of Calvinistic pastors implementing their vision and theology in churches who did not see it coming, then I can say progress is being made.

To balance the above, I will acknowledge that Frank Page stated that he sees "a level of 'anti-Calvinism' in the convention 'that frightens me.'" Likely, he means the calls for quotas and the reality of churches now designating their giving around the two perceived Calvinistic seminaries, SBTS and SEBTS.

But, let's give our Chief Encouraging Officer credit here. Frank Page showed good instincts, solid leadership, and an impressive amount of persuasive power.

Good work, Frank.

10 comments:

healtheland said...

I am sorry, but this is part of the problem between Calvinists and traditionalists. You dedicate several paragraphs ripping Calvinists with incendiary language and huge demands i.e. Mohler moderating his words (and that his blog be checked to make sure he does), change his hiring practices, endorsing Danny Akin's offensive statement, "you might take time to bear down on your neophyte theologian students about being too cocksure and militant about Johannes Calvinus to the exclusion of Jesus Christ", "stealth Calvinists", and then for "balance" you only state "Frank Page stated that he sees "a level of 'anti-Calvinism' in the convention 'that frightens me.'" Likely, he means the calls for quotas and the reality of churches now designating their giving around the two perceived Calvinistic seminaries, SBTS and SEBTS."

So ... traditionalists don't have to moderate their words if not their views? Militant neophype traditionalists don't have to make sure that they aren't cocksure and excluding Jesus Christ? And for the record, traditionalist pastors rip up churches all the time. It is just that no traditionalist blames their theology when they do. They may not be stealth when it comes to their theology, but plenty of search committees do need to be on the lookout for egos, questionable ministry ability and management practices, etc. But apparently causing church splits and churches into the ground over those things are OK. It is only when it is due to Calvinism that is a problem I suppose. Despite the fact that the number of hires who cause problems due to their being bad pastors outnumber the ones who cause problems due to their being Calvinists by like 1000 to 1.

Look, cooperation is a two way street. It requires mutual sacrifice. This type of mutual sacrifice wasn't required in the past because Calvinists had nominal presence and influence in the SBC. That has changed, and things are not going to go back to the way they were. That is why mutual sacrifice and accommodation is required. Until traditionalists realize that, cooperation isn't going to happen, and nor should it.

Traditionalists are just as responsible for making this thing work as Calvinists are, and it is past time that traditionalists start acting like it, instead of acting as if the Calvinists should just be grateful for the privilege of being allowed to remain in the convention and do their best to make themselves inoffensive to the majority.

Anonymous said...

The Calvinists are not without power, but given an all-out feud, they will lose and Mohler will: a) learn the real limits of his power in SBC given his beliefs, or b) undergo another conversion to enlarge his power in SBC. Past does not assume prologue, although the dynamic linkage of past behavior to future behavior cannot be ignored, either.

Anonymous said...

The Calvinists are responsible for most of the acrimony in the SBC. Traditionalists don't split churches, they believe as we Baptists always have. Calvinists bring their so-called "doctrines of grace" into the local church and fragment it with their arrogance. I have known many Godly men who study theology seriously that could argue circles around these obnoxious upstarts. Still they persist in pushing their agenda on average Southern Baptists who are confused and led astray by their half baked arguments. While we appreciate guys like Mohler cleaning house, they need to learn their place. They are called to serve us, not the other way around.

Anonymous said...

"Traditionalists don't split churches ...."

Yes. They. Do. And yes, over theological issues, too. From the outside, there is no high ground being held by either side and cooperation is not thought to be an important value held by either side.

Anonymous said...

I always admit to using provocative language but my record on C/T is middle-of-the-road.

And I would ask why it is that the C study group, Patterson, myself and many others have been calling for forthrightness of staff candidates? Those with any experience and understanding of this know that the problem has been the stealth Calvinists.

Perhaps the will heed this latest call for forthrightness.

William

Anonymous said...

When will we learn to stop using the language of war against our brothers? Listen, I consider myself to be a Calvinist. I am a graduate of SBTS and wholeheartedly believe my position to be the biblical one. But that does not mean I want to alienate those who disagree with me on these issues. During the Conservative Resurgence, you all fought against Liberalism for the very sake of the gospel. That was a war. There was an enemy and it was right to use war language at that time. We all won! The reformed and the traditionalist, together we won the war. I fear, however, that now that the war is over we are left with soldiers who know nothing more than how to fight a war. Calvinist's, the Traditionalists are your brothers. Traditionalists, the Calvinist's are your brothers. Disagree. Disagree loudly, but stop using the weapons and language of war against your brothers. What happened to being known for our love for one another? If we don't stop fighting, the next generations will quickly grow tired of all of this in-fighting and may not be willing to fight for anything in the search for some form of unity. This could very well lead to a new Liberal Resurgence in coming generations. I beg you; treat each other like brothers in Christ, not enemies on the other side of the battlefield.

Anonymous said...

I am a graduate of SBTS, too. I studied reformed theology, Pannenberg, Barth, Moltmann, and see much merit in their work. I studied Tillich, Mullins, Moody, and Conner, too, and see much merit in their work, as well. I have fashioned a biblical faith; that is the best I can do, yet it is still unfinished and will probably always be problematic from a systematic point of view. Most people that take seriously theological reflection will recognize this sentiment and condition. The biblical theology does not exist, given the Bible does not speak of one theology but of theologies, and who here among us has exhausted scriptural insight (notwithstanding desire to assert, “yes, but, we are closer and you are wholly wrong!”)? But those graduated by SBTS with said outlook were said to compromise the gospel (but those with any age and the wisdom that living often affords know that such is more or less true for liberals, conservatives, and middle-of-the roaders, none more or less than the other), thus they need to go.

Removing the ‘liberals’ was not needed for the sake of the gospel, but it was needed for the comfort of some. There are liberals to be found in Christianity … and the gospel is still being preached, it is still alive; but if it is, nonetheless, liberals that are at fault for the gospel’s struggle for viability, its sake … what does the conservative SBC, the group that proudly proclaims its removing of liberals from leadership, have to say for itself given its present decline? How many times have I read conservatives at SBC Voices lament that the SBC (at both the institutional- and congregational-level) has lost its way? Perhaps the conservative argument would need to settle on “well, it declines least of all with us.” The gospel is not dependent on conservatives, liberals, or middle-of-the-roaders, but would it not be nice if liberals, conservatives, and middle-of-the-roaders were a bit more dependent on it by, say, at least acknowledging the other as brother, yes, brother in Christ? That SBC “conservatives” defeated SBC ‘liberals’ is not in dispute. Nor to those looking in on the outside is it in dispute that it was a Christian brother versus Christian brother war. The weapons of war were used by Christian brothers against Christian brothers. Perhaps that is why they are still being used today. With practice and experience, things tend to get easier.

William Thornton said...

For the record, here's what I like about Calvinists:

1. They bring a degree of seriousness to doctrine and this is healthy.
2. They are serious about witnessing.
3. They are unwilling to skate along with that which generates the numbers.

Also for the record, I am not among those who think SBTS and SEBTS grads should be looked upon with suspicion, nor do I think they should be designated around when churches give.

Jonathan said...

"The Calvinists are responsible for most of the acrimony in the SBC."

Really? What hyperbole like that, who needs enemas? :)

"Traditionalists don't split churches"

Please name the Calvinists who were responsible for the conflict at FBCJax, Bellevue, Two Rivers, etc...

Yes, stealth candidates are a problem...and I'd like to get some real data on this so that we can properly rank it with other concerns/crisis in the SBC (btw, anyone remember the resolution at an annual meeting regarding Dr. Patterson's handling of the Sherri Klouda episode or the IMB BoT's handling of the Burleson episode? How about the one expressing concern about the $140,000,000 building campaign at FBCDallas in an era when the number of IMB front line personnel has been in year on year decline? Yeah, me neither.)

This issue is sure loser for the SBC.






Anonymous said...

[Hi William. Saw this on the web. Any reaction to it? Alan]

Just wondering if Dr. Patterson and other dispy SBC leaders have ever Googled "Pretrib Rapture Dishonesty," "Pretrib Rapture Pride," and "Pretrib Rapture Stealth." The last item has enough passages from Acts etc. to blow the pretrib rapture all the way back to 1830 and to the doorstep in Scotland of Margaret Macdonald!