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2012.02.20

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Les

Peter, I do not know the answer to your questions. But I do wonder...Whitfield and the Wesley's, as you know, started as co-laborers in ministry. Then there was the breach over predestination, etc. The breach became pretty heated for a few years. But later it could be said,

"In 1770, the year of his death, Whitefield wrote to Charles as “my very dear old friend” and described John as “your honoured brother.” To each he bequeathed a mourning ring, “in token of my indissoluble union with them in heart and Christian affection, notwithstanding our difference in judgment about some particular points of doctrine.” On Whitefield’s death, Charles penned a noble elegy. And at Whitefield’s request, his funeral sermon was preached by none other than his former opponent, John Wesley."

From a Christian History article.

It appears that these tow "sides" came to the place where they could respect and even endorse each other while not changing their respective minds.

Serious questions: do you are any of your readers ever see that happening? What would it take to get to such a place?

Les

peter lumpkins

Les,

Thanks. The way I remember it, Wesley is the one who triggered the breach, Whitfield begging him not to make it an issue--a public issue--since it would harm the cause of Christ. I think I'm correct on that but it's been a while since I read of their feud.

As for the divide now in the SBC over Calvinism, it's virtually impossible to see any hope for a real solution any time soon. That's my take on it anyway. One blatant reason is--and again, this is coming from my perspective but a perspective that's been forged through lots of experience over the last several years--there's not a scintilla of concession on the part of Calvinists that a problem even exists. Nothing. This conclusion may be deduced from any number of phenomenon taking place in various spheres in the SBC, not the least of which is the very language used in the two quotes above. Non-Calvinists, in short, are "theological apostates" not in the eyes of ignorant people who don't know what they are suggesting. Instead, the provocative theological slurs are embraced by those in the upper crust of the Calvinist Resurgence (e.g. Ascol and Nettles).

But if this is brought up, any number of Calvinists/ Calvinist-friendly sympathizers will insist we are "anti-Calvinists" who chase "conspiracy theories" and offer no actual evidence Calvinists do not want to work with non-Calvinists.

We repeat a seminary president's words indicating no viable theological option exists but the Reformed perspective and still they deny he means what his words imply. We complaint that NAMB networks with a church-planting organization that exclusively plants only "Reformed" churches but it is over and over denied that there is a pronounced Calvinist presence. On and on and on we could go.

When every single issue raised is assigned to "conspiracy theory" "anti-Calvinism" "ignorance" "sensationalism" "stretches of logic" "anger" "jealousy" "politics" "hate" "lies" or any number of other denial mechanisms, how could there be any hope for peace in the convention? As many pieces of evidence we've logged concerning resurging Calvinism, the only way we could have been wrong about every one of them is that we are genuine idiots.

I think you get the point, Les. Until Calvinists are willing to concede there is a problem here, we will never get beyond this stage.

With that, I am...
Peter

JND

Most excellent questions!

May I suggest the possibility that they DON'T want to work with non-Calvinists (or whatever the right term is) and that they are just pretending to do so until they have power enough not to?

A.M. Mallett

The changes that have come could with clear justification be called "theological apostacy."

To apostasize from error is to embrace truth hence the bedrock of the Reformation .... Always Reforming.

Matt B.

Peter,

As a Reformed minister, I must say that some of my best friends and colleagues in ministry are not Calvinists. I think that both sides of this issue are many times represented by their worst sides. For instance, there is a man in my church who continually wants to argue against my position. I love open dialogue and welcome discussion, but the problem is that he has yet to use any Scripture to support his position, evades Scripture that I use to support mine, and can be mean spirited about the whole thing. I understand that not every person who is not Reformed handles the situation in this manner, so I do not throw a negative label on the entire collective of people who believe as he does (I'm not trying to imply that this is what you are doing, but that this is what I've seen happen in several instances.)

That being said, I do not believe that the majority of Reformed theologians view non-Reformed theologians as apostates. Of course there are some who take the spotlight who make comments that aren't reflective of most of the rest of us, but I also know that there are powerful people in the SBC who act as though Reformed pastors are a plague to the convention.

I've heard several stories from friends who have been chewed out by during an interview by a pastor simply because they were Reformed. There are two sides to this coin. Many pastors won't even discuss the issue with us, but will label us as being simply wrong and dismiss us. At the same time, I won't throw the broad label of arrogance on all non-Reformed SBC pastors, because I know many of them to be outstanding men of God.

I do not long for the SBC to become a Reformed convention, but one where we are not continually beating down and berating each other over this issue. Both sides are guilty of the same arrogance, but also contain many who desire to work together.

peter

Matt B

Thanks. I do not disagree with much of what you say. The truth is, I simply don't think there'd be an overwhelming problem like we're experiencing today were it not for the doggedly determined Calvinists--however many there are in the entire community of SBC Calvinists it's admittedly hard to tell--bent on "Reforming" the SBC. From Founders to 9Marks to seminary presidents to NAMB to Lifeway there exists incontrovertible evidence that a visible thrust in institutionally promoting Calvinism in the SBC is present.

And, as long as that is taking place, little, if any, hope may be discerned from like-minded non-Calvinists like myself that we will stand down and be silent. If the few of us who are speaking to this issue cease to sound the trumpet, then I am convinced the SBC will be swallowed completely by a robust Calvinism within a single generation. Perhaps a greater fear is, the second generation will embrace, with hardly a blink, full-blown Hyper-Calvinism.

Thanks again for logging on, brother. I appreciate your contribution.

With that, I am...
Peter

Bob Hadley

Matt,

I too want to echo Peter's comments and appreciation for your response. My problem is NOT with Calvinism, although I do not believe it is as Biblically founded as many argue. I can live with that though. The SBC has at least in what may be my idealistic mind, been a convention of diverse theological positions with one purpose and that common purpose was to cooperate together to send the gospel message around the world. After all, God is the One who brings the increase for us all.

As Peter has pointed out, like it or not, there are those who have taken the initiative to methodically position themselves in key places in SBC entities with the intention of returning the SBC to its historic Reformed roots. That is an undeniable fact. To assume otherwise is tantamount to arguing the big bang theory... it all has just happened on its own. Now, whether God is directing it all, has yet to be determined either way. I will honor that one.

This is my objection. If as Peter indicates we just keep on doing what everyone has been doing the last 20 years, we will keep getting what we are getting and that is the definition of insanity or as I see it irresponsibility on my part as an Heir of God and a joint heir with Christ.

One other comment. Most non-Calvinists don't have scriptures lined up to counter the Calvinist position because most don't understand it well enough to argue against it AND here is a biggie... a lot of Calvinists preach a non-calvinist gospel message draped in the Doctrines of Grace so sometimes it is hard for the non-Calvinist to know what is what. (Not saying that is what YOU are doing.) All they know is, God does not save some and leave most to die in their sin; He saves those who believe He is everything He says He is and He will do everything He says He will do and that John 3:16 means what it says as well as Romans 10:13.

I do appreciate your heart felt response and pray that God continues to bless your ministry!

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