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Feb 10, 2012

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Les

Peter,

I went over and read the piece. You said, "Ascol limits his criticism to rambling insults..."

I looked for those and don't really see the insults. What in particular are you referring to?

I think William Birch says well in his comments on the Georgia Christian Index article, "But this article is slightly short of ridiculous."

peter lumpkins

Les,

--"It's truly sad"

--"As I read it I felt like I was caught in a time-warp and taken back a decade or so...[to]...scud missile-like salvos against Calvinists in the SBC."

--"anti-Calvinists" who have "not changed their agenda, despite their refined tactics."

--"It is sad."

--"And frustrating."

--"if calmer, more biblically informed heads do not prevail"

The above should suffice. Of course, Harris' pieces is implicated in all of this.

Gerald Harris is an accomplished author, having at least three titles published, has has been editor of a Southern Baptist paper for the last decade. And, while none of that makes him necessarily right, every bit of that demands he receive more respect than what was given to him by Ascol, and yes, by Birch. Logging on and crying "ridiculous!" is not one of Birch's finest moments were one to ask me (and you did appear to be asking me).

Suppose I showed up over at Stetzer's "bogeyman" post and logged: "this article is slightly short of ridiculous" and then rode my pony off into the sunset. Do you think anyone would let me get by with that? But even if they did, Les, would it have been a fair and honest summation? It would not. What is ridiculous, for heaven's sake!? The piece is over 2,000 words. Is there no line in the entire piece which escapes the charge of being just short of ridiculous?

The truth is, Ascol's emotional rhetoric is as much to blame and perhaps more for division in the SBC than he could fairly well summons toward those whom he criticizes.

With that, I am...
Peter

Tim Rogers

Brother Les,

Let me get this straight. You say you read Ascoll's article and you did not "see the insults"? Ok, let me point them out to you.

As I read it I felt like I was caught in a time-warp and taken back a decade or so. Anyone who has been around the SBC for very long knows that Calvinism has been a whipping boy for certain SBC leaders and agitators for much longer than that.
Gerald Harris is 68, Ascoll is pointing out that the article is written by one from another generation. Thus, he places the YR&R on guard.
I and others have long contended that there are anti-Calvinists in the SBC who would love to demonize their fellow Southern Baptists who hold to the doctrines of grace. Though their rhetoric has been more restrained the last few years due in part to gracious and bold leadership on the part of some "non-Calvinists" (not to be confused with the anti-Calvinists) in the SBC, they obviously have not changed their agenda, despite their refined tactics.
Where is his proof that he has distinguished between "Anti-Calvinist" and "Non-Calvinists"? This is his first time that I have ever read. He accuses Harris of demonizing others when all Harris has done is point to the issues that are evident. Why doesn't he deal with the fact that we are told by Ezell that we only plant SBC churches when in fact the churches, as he pointed out in the St. Louis area, are clearly tied to Acts 29? One other thing that Harris did not point out was the fact that Eric Mason, a contributor to the new "The Gospel Curriculum" is in leadership in the Acts 29 organization. An organization that he has signed a covenant with that he will only plant "reformed" churches. No one is demonizing Calvinism. If someone was part of Joel Osteen's church planting movement do you think for one minute they would sit on a board to develop curriculum in the SBC? Not on your life and I would be at the front of the line yelling he/she shouldn't be.
It's also a reminder that if calmer, more biblically informed heads do not prevail in leading the debates over doctrinal differences within the SBC...
He now accuses Harris of not have a "biblically informed head". It is clear Ascoll believes that someone who is a non-Calvinists does not either read, or know the Bible.
Here is where I think we--Calvinists and non-Calvinists alike--must fight hard to walk a straight course. We must determine to speak the truth in love. That does not mean covering up or even ignoring erroneous and fallacious arguments that are made by doctrinal proponents. But neither does it mean returning caricature for caricature. Ed Stetzer's blog post today, "The Baptist Boogeyman," points the way forward in a Christ-honoring manner.
His insults in this paragraph are easily seen. First, who is going to stand and say they are "Anti-Calvinist"? I am not even if I were. So we are going to classify ourselves as non-Calvinists and as such we are painted into joining Ascoll and other to rid the convention of those nasty Anti-Calvinists. Thus, if one does not join Ascoll in this endeavor one must be an Anti-Calvinist. Also he calls for not returning "caricature for caricature" and then points to Ed Stetzer's post "The Baptist Boogeyman." What bigger caricature is there in the SBC world than calling something a "boogeyman"?

Thus, my Brother Les, it appears either you are intentionally covering your eyes when it comes to seeing the insults or your reading comprehension is sadly lacking.

Blessings,
Tim

Jamie

Peter,

Your biggest beef with this essay should not be Ascol lifting it in its entirety. It should be that Gerald stole about five blog posts from you and didn't credit you. Nothing in his piece was new. It was a rehash of your latest works.

It's almost like you could have written it for him--or did, in a sense. That's what you ought to be upset with.

peter lumpkins

Jamie,

Thanks for your confidence!

Seriously, I really am humbled but nonetheless pleased that many SBC leaders and denominational employees, including several editors, read this site. I am not so much convinced that they read it because of my stunning abilities as a writer, which obviously would be pretty much a subjective evaluation if it so happened there was a fraction of "truth" in such an estimation; rather, I think many longtime Southern Baptists read this site because they know I have a deep love for the Southern Baptist Convention and hence, if change is necessary, then the kind of change which is necessary must necessarily be the right kind of change. In short, we don't change for change's sake.

So, I may be mistaken but I think tenured SBCers can tell when someone loves our convention and heritage--yes, including and accepting of warts and all--and resists simplistic change or "trendy" change, which often and in many ways, is proposed by those who hate the convention instead of loving it.

Grace, Jamie.

With that, I am...
Peter

Rick Patrick

Peter,

The carefulness with which you link to original sources is indeed one of the great strengths of your blog. While I always appreciate your point of view, and would appreciate it even without the clear footnotes, the ability to verify your sources truly sets you apart in the SBC blogging world.

Regarding original sources, do you have any idea where I might pick up a copy of Reisinger and Allen's "A Quiet Revolution: A Chronicle of Beginnings of Reformation in The Southern Baptist Convention" published in 2000? Ron Hale mentioned it to me the other day and suggested it might be difficult to find a copy.

Please forgive me for asking. I know you're not the librarian. I just figured if anybody knew about this volume, due to the subject matter, it might be you. Thanks again for keeping Southern Baptists informed--and for citing your sources like a truly professional journalist.

selahV

Peter, I wonder if some who propose the "trendy changes" to the SBC are simply interested in using her, rather than hating her. Although the latter seems rather apparent when every post some folks write denigrates and demeans all things SBC, I do wonder if "hate" is as much their attitude as jealous, and covetous of her. In what I often read, I see the outspoken against the SBC (and her traditions and history), to be more an act of stepping on her head to make a pathway to reach a goal of their own agendas. Of course, I may be reading them through a lens of biased love of all the SBC has been to me and those I love. selahV

lmlaone

I hope he does not mind my copying it here, but Jim G put up an interesting comment over at sbcvoices which I think is important for several reasons:

"Jim G. February 10, 2012 at 12:41 am
Hi all,

Two last burrs in my saddle…

One, why is James MacDonald on a Lifeway advisory board? This is the same James MacDonald who claimed that congregational church polity is from the devil – that’s right – it is a tool of Satan used to derail real church leadership. Go ahead and google it. Check it for yourself. It is one thing to disagree with congregationalism. To call it a tool of Satan is pretty blatant. Since congregational polity is possibly the defining hallmark of Baptist ecclesiology, what is someone who believes Baptist polity is demonic doing on an advisory board for an SBC project? I’d like an answer for that one.

Second, and this is a response to Ed Stetzer’s column over at BTT, Calvinism for me is not a bogeyman. I am an academic theologian who loves Christ and the church. I see with precise clarity that there are two competing camps of interpreting the “grand narrative” of Scripture. Roughly, these two camps are the Augustinian tradition and the free will tradition. They go back to the fifth century. The tension between them has reared its head multiple times in church history (the Synod of Orange, Rimini vs, Aureol, Erasmus vs. Luther, Dutch Reformed vs. Remonstrants, etc.). It is happening again today in the SBC.

I am neither an alarmist nor uninformed. I have (what I see as) legitimate theological and ecclesio-political reservations about the New Calvinist movement and its SBC leaders. Mohler can say what he wants, but when someone who disagrees pushes back, they are marginalized. I have brought up some legitimate questions about the GP curriculum, and today its editor writes a “bogeyman” article. I would love to discuss the philosophical and theological nuances of both Christian traditions, from both a biblical and a historical perspective, but blogs are a difficult venue for such a task. It is my opinion that Baptists, of all people, should welcome both traditions, since they have both been with us since the beginning. But that is getting increasingly difficult to do in this primarily politically charged convention.

Jim G."

This is the bottomline: They marginalize anyone with a concern. Their tactics are not Christian nor even scholarly. Setzer's bogeyman article worked. Now anyone with an opposing view or questions is a nutjob who believes in bogeymen. His bogeyman article was a shot fired to stave off more probing questions concerning the GP. It is too obvious. They are too obvious. It would help if they were just honest.

And Jim G is right about James MacDonald. There was a very interesting exchange between MacDonald and Bill Kinnon last summer over his Congregationalism is from Satan article. The exchange did not help MacDonald.

lmlaone

SelahV, You ask questions I have, too. The SBC I grew up in was heavy on the Priesthood of believer AND the Holy Spirit. The pastor was another priest in the 'hood' and one of us. He was not some exhalted "great man of God" but a humble lowly servant and we all knew him well. It was like this in every SBC church I was in and I was in a ton of them due to my mom's ministry. I simply do not recognize the SBC of today.

We were "trained" in the SBC I grew up in. We were taught that God was no respector of persons and our study was the focus of Jesus Christ as Messiah and what that meant as a believer.

I shudder to think of how caught up I could be in this grand movement of "great men" had I not been taught differently in the SBC I grew up in. I am stunned at the lack of teaching or even acknowledgement of the Holy Spirit these days. But if you have the Holy Spirit, you may not think you need to hang on a man's words so closely for the rest of your life.

What has happened is that the world infested the church. Cult of personality, business accuman, branding, marketing, etc...now reigns and the celebrities are garnering followers after themselves. Many young men are caught up in following Apollos or Paul. They think they are not 'of the world' but every indicator points to it. The most dangerous man made movements are the ones done in the Name of Christ.

Les

Peter,

Thanks for your response. I re-read the piece and I just don't see his remarks as insulting. I do suppose that an insult is in the "eye of the beholder" to some degree. It is possible for everyone to see someone insult another. Other times I think only the "insulted" can see it.

For instance, I and others were insulted at Jerry Vines' comment a week or so ago, “I have stated before, so it’s not new news, that should the SBC move towards five-point Calvinism it will be a move away from, not toward, the Gospel.”

I hope you can see what I mean. I don't remember you saying that Vines' statement above was insulting. Maybe you did and I just didn't see it.

In any case, I've never met Tom nor have I corresponded with him. So I'll give him the benefit of the doubt until I see something more definitive.

Thanks and God bless.

Les

Brother Tim,

Please see above my comments to Peter on "seeing the insults." I suppose we just see things differently.

By the way, you said, "Thus, my Brother Les, it appears either you are intentionally covering your eyes when it comes to seeing the insults or your reading comprehension is sadly lacking."

Brother Tim, I find that remark insulting.

God bless,

Les

peter

Les,

That you do not see the long list of insults implicating Gerald Harris in an "anti-Calvinist" rant is, of course, your business. Nor is it just in the "eye of the beholder." Nor does JVs statement have jack squat to do with this, Les. Zero. Vines expressed his belief about Calvinism. He insulted no one in particular like Ascol most certainly did.

Nor does it matter whether or not you "know" Ascol. It's not about "knowing" Ascol. Rather it is about evaluating what Ascol wrote--i.e. Ascol's words.

With that, I am...
Peter

Mary

Rick Patrick, you neeed to got to Founder's Ministry.org and simply type in their search engine for A Quiet Revolution. You'll want to read everything you can over there - be sure and google Al Mohler and read his first convocation at Southern. Anybody who hasn't read the stuff at Founder's Ministry will have their eyes opened and the dots easily connected to what's going on in the SBC if you simply invest a little time.

Les

Peter,

I didn't think you'd understand, or rather sympathize, with what I said. That's ok. As you say, it is my business. Just my opinion.

"Vines expressed his belief about Calvinism. He insulted no one in particular like Ascol most certainly did." Yes. He insulted all Calvinists everywhere. That you can't see that is as you say, of course, your business.

God bless,

Les

peter

Rick,

I appreciate your kind words. And, I’m glad you notice the effort to “source” my findings and/or inferences. I realize sourcing in and of itself does not imply the correctness or incorrectness of one’s interpretation of the sources. But, of course, that isn’t the point. Rather the point is, readers have, at their disposal, the very same evidences an author cites to come to either similar or dissimilar conclusions based upon personal interaction with the materials. And, there are otherwise good writers in the blogging world—including Baptist blogdom--who cannot seem to grasp this crucial point.

For, example, if I say, “conspiracy theories are out of control in the SBC” and go on for 2,000 words arguing against “conspiracy theories” in the SBC without a single example upon which to base my proposition, how is one supposed to evaluate the reasoning of the author, how in fact he or she came to the conclusion offered? Upon what basis, other than raw assertion, may one examine the sources to gauge whether the author fairly deduced “conspiracy theory” from that toward which he or she concludes is “out of control” in the SBC?

On the other hand, if I were to state something like,

“It seems to be a recurring pattern among many Baptist bloggers to invoke the use of a “conspiracy theory” to argue their assumptions about resisting change in the SBC. For example, this SBC blogger seems to use this venue quiet often. On one recent post, he writes: “_________________” (//link). In another piece, he says, “___________________” (//link).In addition, he writes:”__________________” (//link). Not only so, but in another blogger’s piece, we find the actual use of the term “conspiracy” over and over again.

And, if I may, allow me to show, with only minimal doubt, that the same tactics employed, at least by these two bloggers, are the same tactics two well recognized “conspiracy theorists” employ to argue their ridiculous proposals. And, so the reader understands: these two conspirators have been judged to be “conspiracy theorists” not by me. Rather both conspirators are “textbook” examples cited in two independent authorities on “conspiracy theory” (Journal of Conspiracy Theory, Vol 2 No. 4).


Sorry, Rick. I didn’t mean to go on and on. But blogs are notorious for embracing the former and avoiding the latter.

Now what was that you asked? Oh yes!  The Quiet Revolution: a Chronicle of Beginnings of Reformation in the Southern Baptist Convention by the founder of the Founders Movement and mentor to Tom Ascol--Ernest C. Reisinger. Here you go.  I don’t know if it is available in print. But the pdf linked can be downloaded and printed. Better act fast. One of these days it may vanish from the internet.

Grace, brother.

With that, I am…

Peter

Mary

Peter, the comment section at Ascol's is a treasure to mine. One person describes Calvinism and then declares "this is the gospel!" didn't we just have a discussion about how when Calvinist use the word Gospel what they really mean is calvinism? So when Lifeway is publishing the Gospel Project and everyone involved is a Calivinist it's not a leap question "what exactly is going on here?"

Of course no one is claiming anything that Harris writes in his article is untrue.

I think Ascol doesn't blog anymore because so oftern his words and those of his commenters confirm everything that is ever said about Calvinists. If anyone had time you could go back through the years and find those threads where they all used to brag about deceiving church search committees all for their own good since Cavlinist understand that only Calvinist can understand Calvinism. Don't get into a theollgy discussion with those rubes ya know?

peter

Les,

Well, no he didn't "insult all Calvinists everywhere". If he insulted "all Calvinists everywhere" one may fairly well accept he insulted no Calvinist anywhere. He offered no names, Les. Even so, only a 5 point Calvinist could assume such a position since the greatest and most effective critics of Limited Atonement have historically been 4 Point Calvinists. They too would argue similarly to Vines.

Now, try as you may you will not succeed in depersonalizing Tom Ascol's unfair, emotional rant against an accomplished SBC literary servant. Harris deserves better, and we will see to it we say so. Ascol may judge Harris' propositions wrong and show why he thinks they are wrong. Yet he cannot--at least legitimately or without accountability--summarily dismiss Harris' piece as indicative of anti-Calvinist, divisive nonsense. I'm afraid it doesn't work that way any more, Les.

Now, unless you have something new to add beyond a you've-got-your-opinion-I-got-mine-beauty-in-the-eye-of-beholder response, we'll consider our little exchange closed.

I wish you a grace-filled day.

With that, I am...
Peter

peter

Rick,

One correction on the book link I gave. Founders does sell a print copy. Hence, to be fair to them and since they state unequivocally the book is copyright and not to be reproduced, the info I gave you above about "printing out" will need to be judged in light of this more accurate info.

Grace.

With that, I am...
Peter

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