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Nov 03, 2014

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Bill Mac

Since I was one of those who weighed in on that discussion, I'll weigh in here. I haven't checked back in a little while, but I think the evidence presented here and in the comment thread make it pretty convincing that Billy Graham is not a Calvinist. Frankly, the odds are that he isn't a Calvinist anyway simply because most people aren't. The only reason I challenged Rick was because I thought the evidence he presented for proving Billy Graham wasn't a Calvinist wasn't compelling. I'm not as much of a Calvinist these days as I used to be so I have no vested interest in claiming people for the Calvinist side.

Max

Good Lord! Now they are trying to drag Billy Graham into this mess! When will the madness stop?!

peter lumpkins

For the record, Bill Mac, my beef was/is with the guys who, I'm convinced, contentiously raised the question.

Thanks.

With that I am...
Peter

Max

Before they are finished, the reformed camp may claim my parent's pastor ... Adrian Rogers!

Lydia

OK, just how technical do they want to get? is this Jared Mooresque type of proof where Billy Graham has to declare it publicly?

so if we are not going to analyze his teaching over 60 years then perhaps we should take a look at his biography. was he raised presbyterian before Wheaton? wasnt ruth raised presbyterian by missionary parents? And didn't some of his daughters marry Presbyterians or reformed men?

you know it could be like the young YRR guy who told me that we are all Calvinists but just don't know it.

when we get done analyzing Billy Graham, can we PLEASE do Lottie Moon? :o)

Max

Lydia - The key word regarding Billy Graham's Presbyterian roots = "was". However, after converting to Baptist ranks, Rev. Graham never made a big deal out of being a Southern Baptist, but rather identified himself as an Evangelical Christian. Hmmmm ... I may defer to that identity myself since the SBC I have known for 50+ years is rapidly losing theirs. Given all the bad press about the SBC these days, when someone asks me what denomination I belong to, I say "Look, a comet!"

Eric

In the immortal words of our next president.

At this point what difference does it make.

Graham has been all over the board during his life.

If you listen to his interview with robert Schuller, you would think he is a universalist.


peter lumpkins

No, not "all over" the board. Every Christian "celebrity" religious figure has made his or her share of gaffes. Even so, Graham has been a fairly consistent non-Calvinist evangelical evangelist since I first started listening to him in the late 70s. So it does make a difference when someone attempts to hijack a person's theology without the least bit of evidence whatsoever.

With that, I am...
Peter

Eric

His quotes over the years speak for themselves. Even so, he has been an example for integrity and faithfulness over the years. I agree that he should not be hijacked. I'm not sure why it even matters. I care less about a mans potion on reformed thought and everything on the mans passion for knowing and proclaiming Christ to everyone he can. As a reformed baptist that desire is for every person alive to hear the call to repentance and salvation in Christ.....every single person without exception.

Trapper

Max wrote:
> Before they are finished, the reformed camp may claim my parent's
> pastor ... Adrian Rogers!

A key figure in the Calvinist stealth takeover of my previous church DID list Bellevue on his resume and DID claim Adrian Rogers as his pastor multiple times in front of the congregation during the interview process!

Max

"... Calvinist stealth takeover of my previous church ..."

Trapper - Unfortunately, many SBC churches are now under the leadership of young pastors who came out of solid ministries - some who had fathers and grandfathers who were SBC "traditional" pastors. But they were stung by the reformed buzz at SBC seminaries and colleges and came out determined to change everything, to take SBC back to its Calvinist roots, to recover the gospel that non-Calvinists lost in the 20th century, and other such mumbo-jumbo indoctrination. That's the "restless" part in young, restless and reformed ... they won't rest until they do their part to reverse the course. I've talked to YRR in my area and they really see themselves in some grand revolution, a new reformation to rediscover truth again for the church. They sincerely believe what they are doing is right - the scary element of indoctrination - and are not beyond deceiving pulpit search committees to gain control of a church (I can take you to churches in my area where that has happened, resulting in splits). Last time I looked, stealth and deception were not in the list of spiritual gifts. God will not bless rebellion of this sort in His church - it may appear that way for a season, but in His timing ...

Lisa

Max, what you have observed with the YRR has occurred in my brother's church. A young pastor just out of seminary (the one in Louisville) was hired and he systematically went about the business of forcing Calvinism down their throats. He was neither shy, nor secretive, about it. In fact, he was going to "educate" them about Calvinism. This, in a former mill town where most people are still factory workers, plumbers, etc...They'd never heard of Calvinism and they certainly didn't like it once they did. What these decent people lacked in higher education they made up for in common sense . Most left the church and went to another SBC church in the area.

DrJamesAch

Max & Trapper,

Interesting you mention Bellevue and Calvinist takeover. JD Hall just helped organize a so-called abortion protest with "Rhology" (Alan Maricle) and his New Age editor, Dustin Germain with the AHA (Abolish Human Abortion) group.

Their pastor, Steve Gaines, has endorsed petitions and legislation against abortion, calls abortion a "hate crime", and sinful, is pro life, and yet these CALVINIST protesters went there under the guise of protesting abortion against a church that is strongly opposed to it? Give me a break.

JD Hall announced the group's "visit" to Steve Gaines' Twitter page several days before the event. The group attempted to pass out literature that promoted Calvinism, and the several people that contacted us from their church said they weren't talking about abortion, but about getting the church to repent for teaching a false gospel (e.g., anything that isn't Calvinism). One of the elderly ladies was harassed all the way to her car and almost tripped over a curb trying to get away from the girl that was hounding her about reading the tract.

JD Hall recently stated "If I can't go through your pastor I will go over him", and he has had a beef with Steve Gaines since at least June of 2013. They used the pretext of "abortion" as a smoke-screen to spread Calvinist propaganda at a church with a known history of opposing Calvinism (Adrian Rogers has quite a few good sermons exposing Deformed Theology).

So we are beginning to see Calvinists getting desperate in their "evangelism" by attempting to strong-arm churches that don't cow-tow to the Calvinist agenda.

Max

Lisa - Your report of yet another church split at the hand of a young Calvinist breaks my heart. These young "pastors" spread New Calvinism within SBC by one of two pathways: (1) takeover an existing traditional work, or (2) plant a new church. The former approach is a harder row to hoe in that the pastoral candidate finds it necessary to lie to search committees regarding their theological persuasion. Once the pew becomes savvy to pastoral intent, weeping and gnashing of teeth leads to a split ... leaving the young pastor with a church to which he can recruit like-minded followers. The other approach (church planting) is a much easier journey for a young man fresh out of seminary. He may have to start in a store-front somewhere, but he can launch his reformed agenda relatively unhindered, enlist some 20-30 year old "elders", and get to it. While the takeover artist passes the offering plate, the church planter is blessed by parent church financial support and/or NAMB funds to keep the lights on. Both of these techniques to Calvinize SBC are spreading like wildfire across the SBC landscape. Long-time Southern Baptists, like the decent people in the mill town you note, lament the loss of their church ... good people who love the Lord and offer what they have to Him ... folks who have come to a saving knowledge of Christ on the other side of a sinner's prayer.

I wonder daily when God will stop this rebellion.

Eric

Oh come on....
Using JD as an example for how Calvinist are getting desperate...
..really, JD is the example for the Calvinist camp......hardly.

Max

"If I can't go through your pastor I will go over him"

DrJamesAch - I have the feeling that JD Hall will soon find out that there is someone over "him" ... a sovereign God who won't put up with his antics much longer.

Lydia

"Oh come on....
Using JD as an example for how Calvinist are getting desperate...
..really, JD is the example for the Calvinist camp......hardly."

He is simply the logical conclusion of that mindset. He uses forms of "force", just as Calvin did.

My take on the Calvinist position is that without our civil laws and focus on individual freedom most of them would use more controlling and punishing forms of force. These are people who actually praise the tyrant Calvin and think the Puritans were all warm and fuzzy instead of the control freaks they were who burned Quakers and banished people for disagreeing with doctrine. Those are their heros! What else can I think about their position?

They have a recent history of using deception, controlling tactcs such as a horrible translation of keys to the kingdom, shepherding cult tactics, membership covenants (which are legally binding and written by lawyers), ruling elders, etc, etc.

The goal in Calvinism is to set up a hierarchical caste system and control people, in the name of Jesus, of course. It is the same slide toward collectivism as we saw happen with our last presidental election. The philosopher kings know better for us and therefore must manage our lives for us. In the case of Calvinism, the leaders will be our Holy Spirit for us.

JD and his Brown Shirts are only taking their beliefs to their logical conclusions.

Eric

Lydia,
I've often mentioned that I don't see much of what is written on this blog.
I've had contact with a dozen reformed baptist churches in my state...s.c. And not a one of them can be characterized in the way you and others portray them. Im involved as a baptist and am concerned about baptist life and practice. I think that's what this site is focused on.

So, is your critique focused on the baptist church or does it include all the crazy nuts out yonder.
I can assure you that the reformed baptist churches in sc do not want to put you in bondage.

And your assertion of what the logical conclusion of Calvinism leads to is not true. I'm one of them.

Eric

Lydia

"I can assure you that the reformed baptist churches in sc do not want to put you in bondage."

The doctrine itself is bondage. Which is one reason it surges and ebbs in history. I totally agree with you when it comes to most mainstream Reformed types who tended to go the more "social justice" route over time in this country.

For the most part, the Puritan descendents became Unitarians. We could go through all the historical types and discuss what happened to them. It is very interesting. The Boers, Dutch Calvinists, were the implementors of Apartied. The Southern Calvinists were big slave owners or fellow travelors like Boyce. We could go on and on. The doctrine is all about caste systems and bondage because man has no or very little volition. That makes God orchestrating even the bad stuff no matter how much the Reformed insist that man has "freedom" to sin but not to choose Jesus Christ as truth. (That always cracks me up)

It is just not something that works real well long term without some use of force no matter how benign like membership covenants, etc. It does not work well with people who continue to think for themselves and question everything. That is why it usually goes liberal or dies out. I am surprised the resurgence (which is the purer form of Calvinism without baptizing babies and the state church) has lasted as long as it has but I see it starting to ebb a bit from it's peak years. The internet that helped grow the resurgence is also shining light on its bondage doctrine and the fall out from it.

Trapper

Some might think Lydia slouching toward mere political rhetoric with the "it is the same slide toward collectivism as we saw happen with our last presidental election" comment, but she's commenting on our society and is spot-on.

Some years ago, in books called "Generations" and "The Fourth Turning," authors Strauss and Howe detailed, in rather academic fashion, their observations and research regarding society running in ~40-year swings between peaks of individualism and collectivism, the effects resulting from the direction of that movement (complete cycle is ~80 years [that 40 doubled to account for the travel in each direction between the extremes], which is why the world never "feels right" to you again at any point in your life once you've decided what "right" is, typically in your late teens), and the aspects of society and culture that run out ahead of, with, and behind those cycles. The cycles are almost completely consistent and predictable because society always thinks it reasonable and logical to react in a particular fashion to what it thinks has been the failure of the current or previous generation, and those reactions always push society in one of those directions or the other.

(An obvious current example is those claiming individualism, though relationship with Christ IS an individual experience, is the church's big problem and collectivism is the big solution...a decade from now, though the pressure on them will be great, "rebel" voices will rise, beginning to again insist that the personal relationship with Christ is the ultimate; several decades from now, they'll "tip" and appear to start to "win"...a decade after that, they'll begin a decade or two of domination...after that, some of the individualist-ish Christians will start looking really silly in some number of ways...then, some will start pushing back toward collectivist constructs of Christianity. Flip all those to the opposite, and you'll see our recent history...the pull away from the more individualistic expressions toward the collective expressions...and history has shown movement toward the collectivist era always includes a "mob rule" aspect of oppression and violence against those who the mob decides is "against the body," for they supposedly "harm the body," so it's completely logical that there is a "controlling" attitude from the group and an "enforcer" wing to it that believes it's doing "good" by engaging in violent oppression, acting "for the good of the body and its great and glorious leader.")

Roy H Williams, in his book "Pendulum," offers an updated and more accessible version of the same ideas, if you're wanting to pursue them, and there might be an hour-long video presentation of it by him out there on the net somewhere.

Anyway, guess which of those peaks we're heading for and getting close to right now....I guess I gave it away above, huh?

It is my strong belief that Mohler and his cohort of top-level Calvinist organizers/activists know these ideas (they are VERY common in marketing, media, and politics, and we KNOW Mohler pursues political knowledge, perhaps at least as much as he pursues Calvinism) and have taken advantage of the current approach toward the peak of collectivism to jump out in front of the gathering group to seize it for his Calvinism and claim it's all a "movement" of God though it is, in fact, a creation of scheming men with very visible and easily-identified steps, IF you know what to look for. For example, make note that Mohler and the others all targeted the younger generation(s) coming up and made virtually NO effort to convince people in their 40s or early 50s...not only do those younger have no life experience that would have to be overcome with the Calvinist/collectivist indoctrination, they were/are coming of age in a time when it's just natural to look around, assume that whatever's "wrong" with the world (or Christianity) is the result of whatever their individualistic parents or leadership did, and proclaim the opposite as the solution...and prooftext the supposed solution like crazy as if the opposite idea weren't right there, too, and needed to be included in a complete Biblical context/paradigm of something rather than just a wild-eyed, simplistic claim of "thus saith Acts 29 and TGC!"

History is full of these occurrences (creations of scheming men said to be "movements"), and, to the best of my knowledge, though "for the good of the body/group/society/whole" is always the claim, it's NEVER really been for good for the group, the individuals in it, or society, as a whole...it's always about the gain of the "leader" and his ideas/philosophy/wallet. (Easy examples -- Marxists/Communists and Calvinists always get hard to work as these eras approach!)

NOTE: I apologize if this writing (or even thinking!) has been seemingly disjointed or disorganized...it's been being written in little pieces as I've had moments today, and I don't have the time right now to go back and fix it...

Ah, wait...look at this: the current occupant of the home in the middle of the capital district has come on TV and used the group names of those he likes and the names of individuals he doesn't like..."groups are the 'good guys,' individuals are 'bad guys!'"

The worst of this collectivist era is still very much yet to come....it's a long time 'til we're out of it.

Of course, collectivists will consider it all good!

Trapper

Eric wrote:
> I've often mentioned that I don't see much of what is
> written on this blog.
> I've had contact with a dozen reformed baptist churches in
> my state...s.c. And not a one of them can be characterized
> in the way you and others portray them....And your
> assertion of what the logical conclusion of Calvinism leads
> to is not true. I'm one of them.

Exactly...you're (still currently) one of them, a true believer, and apparently not letting them know you're wanting the next level or, on the opposite side, threatening them in any way.

I almost fell into it. Fortunately, one thing I'm decent at is quickly taking ideas and possibilities out to their logical/natural conclusions, and I saw through the whole theology/doctrine within a matter of maybe a few days...okay, weeks. (For example, ask yourself, "If these beliefs are true, then who is God and how could He be described? Why do these descriptions not match Jesus but match most sci-fi villains authors come up with? How is 'glory' defined, and why would God even need it? Who is He trying to impress? For what reason would he be trying to impress whoever that is He's trying to impress? Why would He need to impress anybody, at all? If He created the exact world He wanted for the purpose of impressing whoever it is He's trying to impress, why didn't He do it in a way that featured more being 'saved?' Wouldn't 'and it wound up EVERYONE was saved!' be the most impressive story the Calvinist God could tell but somehow wound up incapable of pulling off? Does that mean Calvinist God, incapable of pulling off the best story, is not omnipotent or not omniscient (gotta be one or the other, right)? Why would *anybody* need to be saved or not saved -- or even created! -- to impress other cosmic beings? If salvation is/was a cosmic Super Lotto, why does it seem to run in families, and why do they try to FORCE IT to run in families if humans can't do anything to affect or effect it? Don't Calvinists' own actions dispute the very nature and definition of 'random'/'unconditional?' Why is Jesus, a bit player in Calvinism, in a role that's not even necessary in Calvinism but yet said to be God? Why do Calvinist leaders inevitably display the works of the flesh but almost never the fruit of the Spirit, except when they're faking it? Why do they, almost to the man, possess and confess arrogance as supposed evidence of humility? How does anything they say make any sense, at all, the moment you start questioning it? Why do they always change the subject the moment they find you can hang with them in an argument? Why do they always change or quit the game when they find you can hang with them in that new subject, too?")

Sorry...got off on a tangent.....or did I?

Anyway, I almost fell into it. After figuring it out, I learned to spot the theology/doctrine, but I hadn't yet figured out how to spot the usual strategies and tactics. My previous church was taken over by these folks, and I hadn't seen it happening. The moment that two and two finally became four in my brain, I...well, for the sake of semi-brevity, I'll save that for another time, but let's just say they perceived me as a threat and did everything they could to block all ways I could gather information about them (the prospective pastor's bio and its narrative of his experience at his last church were quite the construct, shall we say) and their activities (in spite of our bylaws, all elder meetings became closed and were moved offsite), communicate with the congregation, and take any legal action. Eric, you're not a threat, so there's no reason for them to show you what I saw or what Lydia describes.

Further, you're still a mere true believer and apparently not ready for the next level. When are you ready for the next level, in their eyes? When you've figure out what's really going on but still want to be a part of it....when you're ready to do "what's necessary"...when you're ready to do "the hard things" "for The Gospel"....of course, whenever a Calvinist says "The Gospel," the Calvinist means "Calvinism," so, the moment you indicate you're ready to do "whatever's necessary"/"the hard things" to advance Calvinism, you'll not only SEE the things Lydia, I, and others have, you'll DO them. And it'll be a very sad day.

Eric

Trapper,
You are a trip buddy...
You are describing the reformed baptist church as some sort of cult.
I'm sure you mean well, with what you wrote, you really don't know what we teach
Or believe.

Trapper

Eric wrote:
> You are describing the reformed baptist church as some sort of cult.
> I'm sure you mean well, with what you wrote, you really don't
> know what we teach
> Or believe.

Actually, I do...listened to a whole lot of it and researched it quite a bit...even made the pilgrimage to The Piper...possibly the most bizarre church I've ever been to...like zombies, they were. And, then, in the process of really digging in, I noticed something I now use as advice to those at risk:

"Pay little attention to what Calvinist leaders write and say to you, the average or potential member....pay REALLY CLOSE attention to what the Calvinist leaders write and say TO EACH OTHER.

"When you're pursuing it, joining in with what they're doing, or being pursued by them, they'll appeal to your ego and praise you like crazy for finally getting really serious about God and for being so smart to have finally arrived at their 'true gospel'...er, have been so fortunate to have been led by the Great And Glorious Sovereign God in His Divine Providence to His 'true gospel.' They'll mock what others teach and even what the Bible says verbatim but doesn't mean what they say it means or want it to mean, and they'll get you laughing at it, too, and psychologically reward you when you do.

"They don't want YOU, per se...they want your skills and abilities for their cause. Your service in their church or organization will be to them for them, not for evangelizing the unbelieving world. They'll SAY there are elements of evangelism, but, by your definition, you won't be able to find them. That's when you'll realize they've been teaching you a new definition for every Christian/religion-related word you've ever known and used.

"HOWEVER, if you start really seriously looking into what their leaders really believe, really write to each other in their so-called scholarship, really say to each other at their conferences, really teach in their academies,...once you see and hear all of that, you'll be stunned...you'll think, 'they believe *WHAT?!?*'"

You're noting I'm describing Calvinism as some sort of cult. When your teaching is from an extra-Biblical source and being delivered by charismatic leaders who are using the force of personality and psychological reward and punishment (and occasional blackmail) to get the people to fall in line under you and your teaching, what should one call it? When your playbook for recruiting and keeping members is a third Sun Tzu, a third Alinsky, and a third Scientology, what should one call it?

Lydia

Trapper, Great comments! There was a big push toward collectivism with FDR due to taking advantage of the crash but it was sort of obscured by WW2. But even in the 50's we were paying farmers NOT to grow things (as one example) as a result of his collectivist policies. "The Forgotten Man" is a book I highly recommend to take a look at how pervasive collectivist thinking was from his administration. Also Whittaker Chambers' "Witness". Best written book of the 20th Century.

I totally agree about targeting the young. I know several 40ish guys who went to Southern and were appalled at the group think mentality they could not buy into and they are conservatives. They either got out or kept their heads down and slogged through. Both have left the SBC since because it was either drink the kool aid or your opportunities would be nil.

There is a reason we drafted 18 year olds for wars. They often do not think twice or question before charging the hill on orders. Forty year olds, do.

I am going to put "Pendulum" on my reading list. I have looked at this swing in political terms but have only started seeing the church reflecting the larger culture in the last few years. I have been simply astonished that a despotic thug like Calvin would become a hero to so many in Christendom in America and the SBC, of all places. Luther is not much better.

If there is one thing we have to instill in our children is to learn how to think and pray for wisdom. They are ripe for "movements".

Lydia

"Eric, you're not a threat, so there's no reason for them to show you what I saw or what Lydia describes."

So very true. And worse, many YRR use the love, tolerance and trust (of our entities!) from the pew sitter-- against them. I will never forget what a young pastor commenting on Pravda said a few years ago about pulpit committes. I paraphrase: If they are too ignorant to know the right questions to ask me that is their problem.

And this is the attitude in a nutshell. It was actually ingrained in them. Could we dare say they do not know basic right from wrong?

But I love what you said about listening to what the Neo Cal leaders say to EACH OTHER. That is key. That is where I picked up on the tactics and problems early on.

Lydia

As far as being a cult, I think there is definitely cultic thinking. I kept wracking my brain on what the YRR movement reminded me of and it finally dawned on me: Amway recruiters. Have you ever heard them fawn all over their leaders and tout the party line? Not only that but they won't tell you what they are really talking about until they try to get you sucked in first.

Max

" ... pay REALLY CLOSE attention to what the Calvinist leaders write and say TO EACH OTHER."

Exactly Trapper! The Gospel Coalition is a mutual admiration society where New Calvinists confirm and affirm each other. Dr. Mohler's words in a TGC exchange a few years ago was a clear shot over the bow of traditional Southern Baptists:

“Where else are they going to go? If you’re a theological minded, deeply convictional young evangelical, if you’re committed to the gospel and want to see the nations rejoice in the name of Christ, if you want to see gospel built and structured committed churches, your theology is just going to end up basically being Reformed, basically something like this new Calvinism, or you’re going to have to invent some label for what is basically going to be the same thing, there just are not options out there ..."

I've been a non-Calvinist Southern Baptist for 50+ years. I've found most of the folks that I've worshiped over the years are "committed to the gospel and want to see the nations rejoice in the name of Christ." Words like Mohler's are focused on indoctrinating the most vulnerable minds - SBC's youth.

Max

Whoops, I meant to say "I've found most of the folks that I've worshiped (WITH) over the years are committed to the gospel and want to see the nations rejoice in the name of Christ." Needed to insert "WITH" (as in go to church with) ... I'm not in the practice of worshiping folks, as some of the brethren!

Louis

My observation is that at the time Graham received his theological training, the issue of Reformed theology was not on the front burner in the U.S.

If someone went to seminary in the 70s, eschatology may have been a larger topic of discussion than it is today. Just try to hold a prophecy conference today and see how many people attend!

The post war Evangelicals were about building their own institutions as the mainline denominations started their theological decline. Para church was getting started. Graham was a Youth for Christ evangelist.

The issue of fundamentalism was big. Lots of young men and churches had to make decisions about whether to stay in the SBC or other denominations, or leave and become independent.

Cultural issues were at the forefront, and would remain there through much of Graham's ministry. Moral decline being a huge cultural matter.

I wonder if you perused the conference and revival literature of those eras if you could even find anything close to the discussions and topics that are now being had among evangelicals - on Reformed theology and such.

Together for the Gospel has a large conference every couple of years that is well attended, and some of the topics are explicitly technical regarding Reformed theology.

So it's hard to know where Graham would settle here.

Criswell is another great example. I have heard him described as a Calvinist. I have no idea. I bet you would have a hard time finding many sermons from him on that topic.

People who have leanings in certain directions may not really focus on certain theological truths if the times have not caused those truths to be highlighted at the time.

As previously neglected truths are discussed, people can begin to think about them and declare themselves in ways they may not have previously.

And people change.

I was a premill - pretrib rapture guy through high school, college, and for a while thereafter.

I don't hold that view now. I don't deny it. But I really don't hold fast to it. I know tons of people like me.

For me it really doesn't matter what Graham is.

He could be either.

He could be a Spurgeon - Calvinist, but a red-hot evangelist. Or may be not.

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