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Feb 13, 2012

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lmalone

"Birch then concludes, “So, for Harris to suggest that predestination was "the foundation of his theology" is a bit amiss, in my opinion.”

First, Birch’s correction depends upon the community Harris had in mind when suggesting how and/or where Calvin is best known."

Yes, I noticed this, too, and was really confused why this was even brought up. Harris' readership are not seminary students in class. Most man in the pew interviews on Calvin would answer: Predestination.


"In addition, to deny Calvin’s hard theo-deterministic underpinnings as foundational to his teaching on predestination is plainly absurd. "

I thought so, too. And it is the kingpen of problems most non Calvinists have with Calvinism. Birch should know that. Perhaps spending too much time in the ivory tower environment?

Aaron O'Kelley

What is "aggressive Calvinism"? I honestly do not know.

If a person believes Calvinism is true and, therefore, teaches it as truth in an attempt to persuade others of what he understands to be the truth, is that aggressive?

If so, then why are Calvinists singled out as the only ones who are "aggressive" when they seek to persuade others that their view is true? Because virtually anyone who has some kind of teaching office or public voice will seek to persuade those with whom he communicates of the truth of his position. That is part of what it means to hold to a conviction concerning what is true and what is not true.

If this is not what is meant by "aggressive Calvinism," then what exactly IS aggressive Calvinism?

Mary

•Is [Harris] suggesting that Calvinists need to leave (or be forced to leave) the SBC?


Maybe Billy could ask his new BFFs over at Founder's where the nonCalvinists who don't wish to be reformed and who have lost the gospel are supposed to go? Being as the whole purpose of Founder's is to "reform" the SBC and restore the "lost" Gosepl defined as DOG.

Maybe since Billy is now the model for nonCavlinist and clearly being patted on the back as not an "anti"Calvinist Billy could get the answer to the questin why is it ok that Al Mohler only allows 4 and 5 pointers on staff at Southern? Aren't the seminaries supposed to serving all the SBC? Why is Al Mohler allowed to discriminate beyond the BFM?

And why isn't it ok for nonCalvinist to say "let's git rid of dem Calvinists" but it is ok for Founder's to declare they are going to "reform" the SBC? If you scream and rant about one shouldn't you be ranting and screaming about the other?

Donald

Aaron,
I hesitate to pipe in, but I think that the term "aggressive Calvinism" does partially apply to pastors who sneak into a local church, hiding their true beliefs and agenda. Following the advice found on Founders.com (in the reforming churches section) they then work from inside to take over the church. Locally, there have been two church splits in 2011 exactly due to this sort of aggressive behavior. It is hard to see God in this.
Pastors and DOM's in the area, who previously were largely apathetic in the current debate, have become robustly anti-Calvinistic. It's not hard to understand why. These men have seen the fruit of "Aggressive Calvinism."

Aaron O'Kelley

Thank you, Donald. That is helpful.

Still, I wonder if this is really all that "aggressive". I am not talking about intentionally misrepresenting oneself. Anyone who does that is sinning.

However, there is a difference between intentionally misrepresenting oneself and having priorities in ministry. Every pastor knows (or at least should know) that, as a leader within a congregational form of government, he will have to work with others to accomplish needed reforms within a church (and SBC churches are in bad need of reform in many ways, not least in the fact that church membership is virtually meaningless today among Southern Baptists). In order to work with others, a pastor must love them, build relationships with them, and teach them over time what Scripture teaches. He must seek to build a consensus among his members about what the Bible teaches and, therefore, what they as a church must reform in order to be obedient to Scripture. No pastor should embark on a new ministry thinking, "Twenty years from now, this church will be exactly the same as it is today, because if I seek to change anything, I will be pushing a hidden agenda on them." If that is the case, then pastors become expendable. A pastor only "pushes an agenda" when he cares more for the machinery of the church than he does the sheep. But if he lovingly guides the sheep toward needed reform, that is simply what I call pastoring.

One responsibility of a pastor is to educate his congregation, and this in turn implies that they need to be educated. So, I don't think it is "aggressive" if a pastor, seeking to be faithful to Scripture, leads a church toward reform over time as he builds consensus within the church.

Of course, it is entirely possible (probable, in fact, in this contemporary setting) that some people will be resistant to what Scripture teaches and will turn against him. But then, who is in the wrong there? Whoever is not obeying Scripture, and that is not really the question we are discussing, though we probably should be discussing it.

At the last judgment, when pastors are held to account for teaching their people the whole counsel of God, will it be a good excuse for some pastor to say, "I wanted to teach on the doctrine of election, but I didn't think that was in keeping with grassroots Southern Baptist identity in the twenty-first century. I thought it might upset some of the members, so I avoided it."? Such a man is not worthy of being a pastor.

Let me add that one reason these kinds of things devolve into a "pastor vs. people" battle so often is because of the flaws in the way most Southern Baptist Churches operate today to begin with. If churches were not led by a single "senior pastor" but, in keeping with the New Testament pattern, were led by a group of pastors, many from within the congregation who were trusted leaders and teachers with longstanding roots in the church, how much conflict could we avoid over the kinds of suspicions that typically arise between congregations and pastors?

CASEY

Aaron, frankly I like my term better....and I think it describes it better...."militant Calvinism".

Mary

I think one thing when you read these blogs is that someone like Billy and the YRR crew don't realize that the issues we're dealing with today go back 30 years, not five years, not ten years - 30 years.

For the Calvinists the CR wasn't enough - they had to continue fighting because they truly believed that the CR was only necessary because the SBC was not reformed so the YRR don't appreciate today that the reason there is a YRR movement is because of Founder's who was influential in installing Mohler at Southern who of course "reformed" Southern Seminary thus creating this network promoting Piper et al.

The YRR didn't just discover the DOG all by themselves - they've been pushed there by some very patient men who's goal is to see a complete reformation of the SBC.

Tim B

Aaron,
Do you believe that an individual who does not accept the “doctrines of grace”, elder rule or church membership as you teach them is being disobedient to scripture?

Aaron O'Kelley

Tim:

I don't believe in "elder rule," if by that you mean that the congregation does not have final authority.

I do believe that the doctrines of grace, of a plurality of elders, and of meaningful church membership (with mutual accountability among church members) are all biblical, and anyone who would split a church in resistance to them is being disobedient to Scripture. To say otherwise would be to say that I don't really believe they are true and biblical.

Bob Hadley

Aaron,

Sorry chief but "anyone who would split a church because of the Doctrines of Grace" is NOT being disobedient to Scripture. Sorry. Here is the reason you are incorrect in your assessment. There would not be any reason for a church to be resist the Doctrines of Grace IF a prospective pastor was up front with the church as to his intentions BEFORE he became pastor.

If that pastor who believed the church needed to be reformed told the church about his intentions in the interview process, he would probably NOT be called and there would be no problem.

If a church KNOWS you are reformed then by all means get with the program.

I see according to your site that you are not a pastor. I certainly hope if you ever decided to go, you would let them know what you believe instead of thinking, "I sure will have a lot of work getting these folk headed in the reformed direction.

><>"

Bob Hadley

Donald

Please contact me.

><>" Bob

Tim G

Aaron,
If I do not accept your pevious summation above, what does that make me?

peter lumpkins

Aaron,

You asked earlier, "What is "aggressive Calvinism"? I honestly do not know." You then later state, "...the doctrines of grace, of a plurality of elders, and of meaningful church membership...anyone who would split a church in resistance to them is being disobedient to Scripture" (italics mine).

Brother, you answered your own question. While stealth tactics surely discredit one's integrity, to be open about "reforming"--i.e. imposing a foreign set of theological principles upon a church the theological heritage of which is not compatible--an SBC church only makes aggression honest. It does not make aggression right.

Aaron, you've got a PhD from SBTS. Southern Baptists paid a lot of money for you to be educated. Yet, you claim ignorance about what "aggressive" Calvinism is when you point blank indicate, if a person rejects the Calvinization of the church--the very church which paid lots of money for you to get your PhD--and would resist imposition of a thorough-going Calvinist template or face disobedience to Scripture if resistance is pursued, and you don't know what "aggressive" Calvinism is?

I have to say, my brother, all you have to do is look in the mirror. You'll see an aggressive Calvinist every blasted time.

It would be very difficult for me to find a better illustration of what I have in mind when I say "aggressive Calvinism" on an individual level in contrast to an institutional level.

With that, I am...
Peter

Aaron O'Kelley

This conversation should really be about whether or not the doctrines of grace are biblical doctrines, because that is all that really matters in the end. Furthermore, it is the point that drives the division between conversation partners here.

If you believe the doctrines of grace are true and biblical, then you would believe it is a pastor's responsibility to teach them. If you don't, then you would call it "aggressive" if he does. There will always be an impasse here so long as there is disagreement about what the Bible itself teaches.

Furthermore, this is about a lot more than just the doctrines of grace. In fact, I think this impasse is owing more to different approaches to ecclesiology, perhaps even more than soteriology. Historic Baptist ecclesiology is in many ways very different from the revivalist quasi-ecclesiology that has become the dominant form in Baptist churches today, where church discipline has been abandoned and where church membership has no meaning.

If a pastor (over time, with loving guidance, teaching, and patience) seeks to lead his congregation toward obedience to Matthew 18:15-20 and 1 Corinthians 5, and one of the members decides to split the church because "That's just not who we are as a church," then it is not the pastor who is disobeying Christ.

peter lumpkins

Aaron,

No it shouldn't Aaron. It should be about aggressive Calvinism, for that is the issue raised in Gerald Harris' piece. I can see why you'd like to change the subject matter since you've just personally demonstrated what I've been repeatedly accused of making up.

Nonetheless, we will continue on this subject.

With that, I am...
Peter

Tim B

Peter,

It is a dangerous place to be when one is deemed "disobedient to scripture" if one does not agree with the pastor's interpretation of various passages. Most churches have agreed on a the bf&m as their essential theological basis of fellowship and allow disagreement on the non essentials w/o judging. If that's whats coming out of Southern Seminary combined with a mahaney/driscoll (cult)view of membership then we have a problem.

Aaron O'Kelley

I'm just going to add one more thought here, and then I will bid you all farewell for now. I haven't been part of a blog conversation for some time, and I find that it is too easy for me to be overly concerned about them when I do get involved with them, to the point that they can become distractions that divert attention from more important things, at least for me.

So here is my last contribution as a way of balancing what I said before: pastors must exercise wisdom in ministry by prioritizing what needs to be prioritized, and that is, first and foremost, the gospel. Any reform that a pastor (or pastors) seek to achieve must be rooted in the gospel or flow from implications of the gospel. And that means that any reforms that a pastor seeks will be driven by love for his sheep, for it is the gospel of Christ that motivates and empowers us to love sinners like ourselves with the kind of love that Christ demonstrated for us on the cross.

I don't believe that a Calvinistic pastor should insist that everyone in his congregation agree with him on every point of theology. He should be okay with the fact that some won't understand his views, some won't really care about it one way or the other, and some might even be slightly annoyed by it. That is okay so long as unity in the gospel can be maintained.

That is why a pastor's mission must be to preach the gospel first and foremost. He may address these controversial matters as they come up in the text of Scripture, but his should not obsess over them or build his own or his church's identity on them. The church is built on the gospel of Christ.

Thank you all for listening.

P.S.--Tim G., let me just respond briefly to your question by saying that there are different levels of disobedience to Scripture, and we are all guilty at some level, simply because no one is perfect. Disobedience to Scripture can be in the form of ignorant disobedience, where a person honestly believes he is obeying Christ when he is not (I think of paedobaptists in this category). I am quite certain that God will have to straighten me out theologically when I stand before him, and that is one reason that I am thankful that I have a high priest whose blood covers all of my sins, even the ones that I don't know about.

Another level of disobedience would be high-handed rebellion against God, and that is something that is far more serious. I think someone who would divide God's church for an illegitimate reason is either dangerously close to that line or has already crossed it (see 1 Cor. 3:16-17).

aaron

At the young leaders forum at the GBC back in the fall over half of the participants raised their hands when asked if they were reformed. If the tent is not big enough to include these young leaders it is going to get pretty lonely in a few years come convention time and CP giving will continue to decline. The Christian Index covered the young leaders forum and Harris has to know of the theological leanings of young leaders. The Index is supposed to promote the CP not push away the current young generation of leaders.
Why do I never hear from the current people bemoaning the Calvinist influence critiquing their heroes in baptist life for allowing the convention to head this direction.

peter lumpkins

Aaron,

With you I'm sure Harris is aware of the Calvinist presence among the new, young Pastors in the Georgia meeting, and I suppose he would interpret it similarly to the other phenomenon taking place at NAMB, SBTS, SEBTS, and Lifeway.

As to your last question, what is out there to critique? I suppose some of us could complain and whine rather than deal with substantive happenings, etc. but I'm not sure the unintended consequences would be worth the effort or the relational cost.

With that, I am...
Peter

lmalone

Aaron, All I can say is that I hope you never try to get on my church staff. You sound young but a know it all. I would prefer calloused knees over your know it all attitude. And that, in a nutshell, is what is wrong with the NC direction. Lots of young minds who "know it all" but don't have calloused knees. (A metaphor in case you are a literalist) Lots of wannabe "leaders" but very few "disciples". Find a nobody saint who has labored for years not being a celebrity and be discipled if that is what it takes to understand you are a "servant" not a "leader in authority over others". Let the Holy Spirit interpret the Word for you. Not more celebrities or professors.

Driscoll is a perfect example of this problem (and many young men in the SBC want to emulate him) and now we have examples coming out showing how "church discipline" is handled at Mars Hill. It is down right creepy. And has nothing to do with scripture but the ego's of man.

Mary

If the "next generation of younger leaders" continues down this road of planting cultic churches - they will be the generation who destroys the SBC. Part of the wisdom that comes with age is the ability to discern between the latest fad and dangerous territory. The young "leaders" obviously don't have this as is demonstrated in their embrace of these cultic church planting networks and strategies such as Acts 29 and SGM.

Does anybody know where the funding is coming from for the Founder's church planting network? It seems to be following in the cultic footsteps of Acts 29.

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