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darryl brunson

This is one of the leading reasons we did our little conference down here in Alabama. It seems to be heading to a point to either pull out or stand and fight. I believe the SBC is worth fighting for. My pastor, Lee Merck, has a saying, "There needs to be an Audible Rebellion against a Quiet Revolution." Keep up the good work Peter.


Again, your macro view. My micro view. I have observed that calvinist pastors who experience failure in a church as a result of their agressive doctrinal posture, often find a landing place on staff in an already established calvinist church. Fine by me. I recommend skipping the middle career steps for my calvinist brethren. You know, the one where they wreck a perfectly good church.


Dislike. SBTS grad.


I must say, as a recent graduate of SBTS (2007), I have several issues with the comments in your book review, and question just how they do provide "evidence."

In the 3 1/2 years I was there, the "r" word and even the "c" word was rarely tossed around except by certain students. Granted I never took Nettles for anything, so I can't speak of his classes (I mention him since he is mentioned several times), but I did take the likes of Moore, Allison, Mohler, Wills, Coppenger, York, etc. and none of them seemed bent on training us to be good Calvinists. Certainly b/c of the abstract of principles their beliefs tended in that direction and they taught according to their convictions, but we were taught to study the Bible ourselves.

You hear about some schools that require their students to sign certain doctrinal statements before they can graduate, nothing required us to be reformed, calvinist, or whatever to attend or to graduate. And while, yes, given the school's background is has a large number of students who would identify themselves as "calvinist" there were also plenty who didn't. We got along fine.

but [Mohler] would further insist the seminary’s doctrinal position would embrace a rigid Reformed understanding of soteriology which included a robust five point Calvinism?

This isn't true. Yes, Mohler held up the Abstract--the seminary's foundational document and confession of faith--to be important, and with the blessing of the trustees professors are required to agree to it and to the BF&M2000. But the document itself is only a 4-point document, saying nothing to the concept of limited atonement, and many of the professors including Dr. Moore, dean of the school of theology reject limited atonement as a biblical doctrine. Therefore it is false to say that it is "rigid" and robustly five point.

I also don't know why Ascol is mentioned other than his Nettles connection. I worked in the library for three years, knew a lot of people (students, professors, and visitors) and talked to a lot of people. The only references to the Founders Ministry I heard was background buzz in relation to Nettles, and some talk among a minority of students I knew. Personally, I don't agree with the goals of the founders ministry and think it is unfair to link it to the happenings at Southern, when we were neither taught about it, told about it, or encouraged to check it out. And while it is true that many will take their convictions to their pulpits, we were always taught to make our convictions known and not try to hide, deceive, and be sneaky just to get a pulpit. Whether we hold to 3 points, 4 points, or 5 points, we should clearly, honestly, and accurately explain what we believe and if a church doesn't like it then we don't belong there.

Finally my time there made me a contemporary of Brister, though I did not personally know him. But I think the comments he makes and in reference to him show the reality behind the idea of Southern as "ground zero". Chapel was filled with a mix of calvinists and non-calvinists, reformed (literally as in RC Sproul) and non-reformed. The agenda of Southern, in my experience, was to say: "This is what we teach, but it's not a primary issue, therefore cooperation for the sake of Christ is more important than a calvinistic identity." Again, I didn't know Brister and I don't have the context of his quote, but when he says: “It bothers me that I get reprimanded for doing the very thing I’m taught to do," I do know we were never taught to chastise non-calvinists and deride those who deride calvinism.

Just my thoughts from my time at "ground zero"...

--Mike Bergman

peter lumpkins


Thanks brother...

With that, I am...

peter lumpkins


Thanks for stopping by. Like your recommendation ;^)

With that, I am...

peter lumpkins


Thankz for your opinion!

With that, I am...

peter lumpkins


Thanks for your response. I'd like to exchange with you some. But's I'd like to ask a question first if I may. You start by asserting, "I have several issues with the comments in your book review, and question just how they do provide 'evidence'"

When you say you have "several issues with the comments" in my book review, are you questioning whether or not I read Hansen correctly? If so, if you could tease that out first, it would help me before I take note of the bulk content in your hefty comment.


With that, I am...


I've never read Hansen's article or book, only quotes here and there, so I don't know how you read him.

You stated that the bulk of your post was your unpublished book review. What you said there, obviously quoting Hansen and commenting on his work, depicts life and the agenda at SBTS in a certain way.

My contention is that some of the descriptions in his quotes and your commentary/replies to his quotes do not jive with my own experience at Southern, which was recent and contemporary to Hansen's work and the focus of this blog post. Therefore what I have detailed above.


I am also an SBTS contemporary of Brister (I graduated in 2006), and I think Mike has summed things up very well. It's also worth pointing out the large number of non-Calvinist professors that Mohler has brought to the seminary. His very first hires were John Mark Terry (evangelism prof) and Dan Block (OT prof), neither of whom are even a little bit Reformed.

peter lumpkins


Well, since you haven’t read the book, there’s no use discussing what Hansen did or did not say in the book, I suppose.  After all, you could appeal to “I didn't know…and I don't have the context.”  So what’s really to discuss?

On the other hand, while you may remain skeptical concerning Hansen’s “Ground Zero” imagine for aggressive Reformed thinking in the SBC—perhaps in the evangelical world—because, as you say, you were there at Southern, others who attend write words very similar to Hansen.  For example, one Southern student indicated “Southern seminary’s entire faculty affirms Calvinism—they are “so vocal” about Calvinism, any student not a Calvinist “would feel “out of place” because Calvinism is”universally affirmed” and “universally taught *as truth*” (emphasis mine, //link).

Hence, what we have are at least two graduates logging here that their experience does not match Hansen’s while at least one I linked substantiates Hansen’s view.

Furthermore, Hansen’s book is praised by the Reformed community itself as being a credible witness to what is taking place in evangelicalism, praise even by Tom Ascol, Founders Executive Director.

With that, I am…


Tim Rogers

Brothers Mike and Dan,

Help me understand something here. You both were contemporaries of Brister and yet you say something completely opposite of what Brother Peter has placed here. Not, trying to decide if Brother Peter has teased something out of Hansen that he did not say, but it seems there is some verification that is needed.

Brother Peter has direct quotes. He first quotes Hansen directly, then he quotes Brister directly as a response to the Hansen quote. Also, please note he give credit to both quotes found on the same page. Thus, it must be accurate and he isn't pulling Brister's reply from somewhere else in the book, so it must be in the correct context. Therefore, my question to you has to do with Brister's statement. Brister is saying he was taught at SBTS to challenge non-Calvinist. What I seem to be hearing from you is that you were never taught any such thing. Is that correct? If it is, why do you think Brister would tell Hansen something to be published?


Jacob Hall

I just re-read those pages in YRR to get an understanding of what Brister was saying. I would say that your interpretation of Hansen's words are less than accurate Peter.

1. Brister was let go from the first church because he pushed back on the lack of funding for a college ministry he was attempting to set up in Mobile. No mention of Calvinism in Hansen's summarizing the event, other than Brister being introduced to it during his time in Mobile.

2. The second church was more of a mutual break because Brister read from Brothers, we are not professionals by Piper during staff devotion. There is no mention of the author being the issue, but the content of wanting to remind his staff workers that the church is not a business office. Again, his defense or promotion of calvinism was not the issue.

3. The chapel situation also lacks the full context. Hansen says, "He gives seminary leaders an earful when they welcome chapel speakers who have elsewhere derided Calvinism." (emphasis mine). It wasn't that they were not Calvinist, atleast not according to the book Peter has cited, but that they were hostile to calvinism in other venues.

4. I have a question Peter, given your dislike of the current state and direction of SBTS, would your preference have been it stayed like it was before Mohler? We can speculate what if someone else had taken over, but at the end of the day mere speculation achieves nothing. Choosing between the old SBTS and the Mohler SBTS, which one would you prefer? (obviously you can say neither), I just think its interesting how people almost seem to prefer the bastion of liberalism that SBTS once was to the "Ground zero of Reformed Theology" that it is called now.

Tim Rogers

Brother Peter,

I have just finished reading your link to the Founders blog. Help me understand if I am reading something correct.

As I stated to some friends recently, my fear is not the the SBC is not Calvinistic enough, but that it is not Christian enough. My understanding of what is happening is this: the revival of biblical Christianity within the SBC is provoking a resurgence of the doctrines of grace. There are many who are genuinely concerned about the former who are not "five-point-Calvinists," and that doesn't bother me at all. What I have discovered is that brothers and sisters in that camp are not fearful about the "resurgence of Calvinism," either.

I have found the buzzword "doctrines of grace" is another way of saying 5-point Calvinism. According to the statement Brother Ascoll does not believe those in the SBC are saved. Now, I would agree that my personal belief is there are those who profess Christianity but are not Christians. However, to make the above quoted statement appears to say that those who do not raise an issue concerning Calvinism are Christians and those who are raising a concern about Calvinism are not Christians. Help me. Am I misreading this statement?



Brister is saying he was taught at SBTS to challenge non-Calvinist. What I seem to be hearing from you is that you were never taught any such thing. Is that correct? If it is, why do you think Brister would tell Hansen something to be published?

Well again, don't know Brister. Don't remember ever having a conversation with Brister. Don't even know if we shared any of the same classes. And again, I don't personally know the context (and by context, I mean the full conversation Brister had, not the words of someone else surrounding his quote in a book). It could very well be he had a professor or professors who did. I know some of my fellow students were of the opinion that if you weren't a 5 pointer you couldn't even call yourself a calvinist, so they looked upon even Moore, etc. as Arminians who needed to be challenge...but those were a small number of students and not professors, at least not that I heard.

I do know what I experienced and can vouch for that and that alone.

As per their convictions, the professors of course taught a more calvinistically informed soteriology to be the best biblical interpretation. But not a single professor in any class or any conversation I had taught us to go and "challenge" (whatever that means, btw--it's broad) non-Calvinists. They did teach us to define our truth by the Bible and to teach/preach/admonish with the Bible.

In fact when the topic of more well-known non-calvinists of the SBC were brought up (like Adrian Rogers, Paige Patterson, Jerry Vines, etc.), the conversations involved great respect.

That was my experience.

Matt Burke

You said, "The many graduates* include student Timmy Brister, who, according to Hansen, had been released from his first two churches for his vocal disturbances concerning Calvinism (pp.78-79)."

However, a reading of the pages in question indicate that Brister left those two churches over issues of leadership models.

"Circumstances nudged Timmy toward Reformed theology. He was fired from his first church internship, working for an SBC church in Mobile that ranked among the state leaders in baptisms. That pastors there took the CEO ministry model a little too literally, according to Timmy. They spent work hours day-trading stocks, he said.She he wasn't happy when the pastors refused to approve a modest budget he proposed fro college ministry. Timmy managed to obtain a copy of the church budget and confronted the staff about their expensive pet projects. Two pastors sat him down for three hours to express their displeasure." (Hanson 78).

As for the second,

"But during his fourth year Timmy led a staff devotional by reading from Piper's Brothers, We Are Not Professionals. The staff didn't appreciate what Timmy implied be reading from Piper's critique of a professional view of ministry. Timmy said he just wanted to warn them based on his Mobile experience. Still, Timmy did see some parallels.IF I had tried to reach him by phone at that three-hundred-member church, Timmy said, I would have first spoken with two secretaries and one intern before I ever caught him. So maybe the devotional hit a little close to home" (Hanson 79).

They suspended him over it.

These events happened before he even started at the seminary.

Your statement that he made vocal disturbances at these churches over Calvinism is inaccurate.

peter lumpkins

Jacob & Matt*

a) The very paragraph concerning Timmy's first bad experience reads: "Circumstance nudged Timmy toward Reformed theology" (p.78). Now if Hansen did not mean to project Calvinism had something to do with the following scenario in the same paragraph, it's difficult to understand why he puts the statement like he does. If it is a misread on my part, it is because I was trying to follow Hansen's narrative the way he wrote it

b) That the second incident Hansen mentioned is not intended by the author to be related to Calvinism is absurd. Hansen just got through saying Brister "practically memorized Piper's four messages after listening to each one at least fifty times." After the conference where he'd heard Piper speak, he began "devouring Piper's books and other Calvinist works" (p.79). Then, the fuss erupted over Piper's critique Brister was using. I cannot imagine anyone with no background in the circumstances Hansen described coming away with any interpretation which does not include Hansen's intention that Calvinism was involved in the controversy. As for him leaving the position "voluntarily," please. One doesn't get suspended without pay in a church and expect to come back in and start all over

c) No, the words concerning "chapel speakers" do not lack "context" Jacob. Emphasizing "elsewhere derided Calvinism" adds nothing to what I suggested nor does it short-change Hansen. I merely quoted what Hansen wrote, and made no value statement about it

d) Since you answered your question to me, Jacob, I'll consider it rhetorical

e) Matt, as I explained above, I think Hansen certainly implies what I concluded from his book. And, as for those events happening "before" seminary, what am I supposed to say? Neither Hansen nor I stated or implied otherwise.

With that, I am...

*no offense putting you both together; your observations were too similar for me not to answer together


I am a recent graduate of Southern (December 2010, M.Div School of Theology) I am also a lifelong SBCer who attended conventions in the 1980's as a child, my father is a Southern Baptist minister and has been for 30 years. I came to SBTS/Boyce College as a transfer student from NOBTS/Leavell College in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. I finished college after a year at Boyce and enrolled in the MDiv program at SBTS. When I arrived at SBTS I think I could rightly be called an angry 5 point Calvinist. I thought that Reformed Theology would cure the woes of the SBC. By the time I left SBTS I was no longer a 5 point Calvinist, I was a far more convinced Baptist in my Ecclessiology, had a greater appreciation for other Christian traditions that I disagreed with, and had stopped building strawmen out of Arminians/non-Calvinists. Though I still have Calvinistic leanings I would affirm a universal view of the atonement and would reject the idea that a logical priority can be assigned to regeneration or faith (i think they are happening so close together in time that making a distinction is pointless)

It is true that there are some strong Calvinists at SBTS many of the profs are Calvinists and do not apologize for it. However, many non-Calvinists can be found. Much can be learned from both sides. My personal experience with some of the more Reformed profs was always very positive. Dr. Tom Nettles is one of the Godliest, most Gracious, and fun professors I ever had the pleasure to be around. If there is a rabid Calvinism at SBTS it is among the student body and many of the students are that way when they show up at Southern (like me) but they become more moderate/tolerant (not in the "old SBC moderate" sense of course)

Overall my experience at SBTS was very positive and I can without hesitation recommend SBTS. I am serving at a very traditional SBC church and have for nearly 3 years. I have had no problems in my Church and have never tried to hide anything I believe, but I have not tried to be a heavy-handed autocrat either. With regard to some of the Churches that some young SBTS grads have split over Calvinism or Elders one has to wonder if it was not an unloving and unkind spirit in some of the young pastors who split the churches, but that of course is just speculation on my part...

peter lumpkins


Thanks for your warm testimony, and I am personally glad your experience at SBTS was positive.

I hope there now exists no aggressive Reformed flow from SBTS. From all the evidences I can gather, including the rigid Reformed thinking Dr. Mohler has brought to the table, I personally see no reason to doubt Hansen's image of SBTS as accurately being described as "Ground Zero" as provocative as that may sound.

I wish you the best in gospel ministry.
With that, I am...


It's funny how we're all supposed to ignore that the whole purpose of the Founder's Ministry is to restore the SBC to it's "roots" according to them - which is Calvinism. No one has to take anyone's word about "agendas" of certain Calvinist as it's all in the history of the Founder's blog. They bragged about going into churches and deceiving pulpit committees all for their own good. They whined and moaned about poor young Calvinist losing their jobs because of Calvinism that the poor fools of the congregation were too dumb to understand and of course the congregations were probably unregenerate anyway. They complained about churches in associations "gossiping" to pulpit committees for giving them a head's up on Calvinism. Either there are a lot of young fool Calvinist who have no clue as to the history of Founder's and what they and some of their "founder's friendly" churches did to unsuspecting churches or they are now intentionally trying to play the "we're innocent why is everyone picking on us and lying about what Calvinist have done?" It was not just a "few" it was a concerted effort that failed when people started figuring it out. So now all the rage is "church planting" ala Acts 29.

You see ridiculous statments like there are no Calvinist who make salvation difficult when all anyone has to do is go look at the twelve pages on Founder's on how to know Christ and know that Founder's Friendly churches put any candidate for Baptisim through "classes" lasting weeks and the candidate would then have to pass a test in order to qualify for Baptism. People pointing out these types of practices are called liars by some claiming to have omniscience about every church and every SBC member's experiences. Nobody's lying. It's all there on the internet for everyone who wants to take the time to peruse the posts and comments on the Founder's blog.

If I were to come forward with a story about a minister sexually harassing me I would immediately be believed and held up as an idol without any question. If I were to claim racism at institutional levels - well that'll a get a hand wringing "we're all evil let's do something about this immediately." But the countless victims of the rapid Calvinist are called liars and unregenerate. It tells me that the people screaming they just want cooperation don't really want cooperation but want to do nothing but attack the "traditional" SBC. Only "victims" that make the SBC look bad are worthy.

Sorry but all these poor whining young Calvnist trying to play the poor pititful me card aren't going to convince anybody of anything. Too many of us have seen the damage done by rabid Calvinism to believe that they in any way want an SBC filled with nonCalvinist and Calvinist. It's not our way (nonCalvinist) or no way. But there's plenty of evidence that Calvinist have decided it's their way or no way. The whole purpose of Founders is to "reform" the SBC - they state it plainly and they even have a nice little booklet about how to "quietly" reform a church without a congregation figuring it out before it's too late. It's all there bold as you please. For people to just act like they've never heard of such a thing shows their utter ignorance over what has been going on.

And please spare me the ridiculous "he's not really a Calvinist since he doesn't accept the L." It's not the L it's the U. Walks like duck and it quacks like a duck. But of course some fell for the idiotic idea that Founder's wanted to "build a bridge" when they decided that those four pointers were ok. That still leaves out the majority of the SBC who reject the U.


I personally am not a fan of the "Ground Zero" terminology, as such language implies that you have hundreds of non-Calvinists enrolling at the seminary each year who then are convinced of the Calvinist position before graduating.

I began at Southern in 2005 and graduated in 2010. I cannot think of anyone who came in a non-Calvinist and left a Calvinist. I'm not saying it never happens, but it is certainly the exception to the rule. If there is a shift in theology, it is generally the shift froim 4 to 5 points or vice versa.

As for the professors, they range from 3 to 5 points. And while I haven't done a survey, I would say that at least half (maybe even 2/3rds) across all the schools are less than 5 points.

Of course, the problem with Hanson's book is the same problem as my comment has: no scientific or verifiable data to back it up. Simply one outsider's opinion versus one's personal experience. The difference, I think, is that you, Peter, rightly see an agenda behind his work. Unfortunately, I think his agenda results in a great misrepresentation of Southern.

Tim Rogers

Brother Joseph,

After reading your response twice I think you are saying this but I just want to make sure. You do realize that "Ground Zero" is not language that is original with Brother Peter? That came straight out of Hansen's book.



Yep, I realize that. I admit that I am not a big fan of the book (I must caveat this by saying I skimmed the book as a whole but read the Ground Zero chapter closely). I think Hansen misinterprets Southern and I believe he doesn't sufficiently understand SBC life to really speak on the matter. I also think he (and, if I am reading Peter correctly, then he as well) greatly overestimates the impact of Southern on the rise of the numbers of Calvinistic Southern Baptist pastors (perhaps I am not understanding Peter correctly, however).

Honestly, I don't think SBTS has produced many Calvinists. I know that in five years of being on campus, I never met anyone who changed to a Calvinist soteriology while at Southern (though they may have changed from 4 to 5 points or 5 to 4). On the contrary, my fallible experience shows that SBTS is simply where the Calvinists tend to go to seminary.

peter lumpkins


Founders rarely, if ever, now mentions the visionary statement to "reform" the SBC they still have on their website. Steve Lemke blew the lid off their jar a few years back with a paper on the differences b/w Presbyterians and Calvinists, citing their vision to Calvinize the SBC. Founders denied Lemke got it right but it was too late. People now are very much aware of their vision to take over the SBC through stealth. I intend to continue pointing to Founders as the chief problem Southern Baptists have with Calvinism. It is not Calvinism per se. Rather it is Founders Calvinism as you rightly point out. They are the ones who deny non-Calvinists to a rightful heritage in SBC life.

Thanks for your contribution.
With that, I am...

peter lumpkins


While I think Hansen had some difficulties being reasonably objective overall in his book (I document this in my full review), I see no reason to think Hansen is fudging on SBTS. Ed Stetzer documents the extra-ordinary rise in Calvinism in the SBC and assuming he is essentially correct, SBTS is a key factor for the rise. In addition, Al Mohler's non-negotiable Reformed stance, implying things like Non-Calvinism cannot protect the gospel because its structures of thought are inadequate and inferior to Reformed structures of thinking make for a legitimate problem to face with our seminary as Southern Baptists.

With that, I am...


Peter -

Your comment re: Al Mohler's position "Non-Calvinism cannot protect the gospel because its structures of thought are inadequate and inferior to Reformed structures of thinking" is a disturbing stance, indeed. A good old case of "knowledge puffeth up" going on here. Education does not produce one ounce of revelation. We all need to do more praying and less thinking. If my people ... Then will I.



People, eternity will not be filled with Calvinist or non Calvinist. Eternity will be filled with those who confessed that Jesus is Lord and obey His commands. Whether you interpret the Scripture that man either has a innate free choice to choose salvation or you believe that only God can effectual call a person, no confession means no salvation. I am positive that I will see plenty of people saved under the leadership of John Wesley in heaven just as much as I will see those saved under the preaching on John Calvin. Let's build or churches up with people who love God and who share His great news. And let's build up our churches trained disciples who have fallen in love with Christ. I will be graduating from SBTS in the fall and the number one question I get from the South is whether I am a 5 pointer. I go back and forth as I meditate on God's Word. The fact of the matter is that nobody can be saved unless they confess with their hearts that Christ is Lord.

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