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peter lumpkins

It's not about "getting into an argument," Tony. It's about offering response to a particular position. It doesn't have to be "an argument". And, yes I agree: Dr. Owen's article was incisive. But according to your assessment in the first comment you logged it was an "accurate" incisiveness, something you appeared to ignore in the latter. That's all I'm suggesting, Tony. It doesn't even have to be an "inconsistency"; just clearly--at least for me--a change in focus on your initial assessment.

Now, you completely missed the point of my naming the leaders I did and the L to which they all adhere. To suggest I reduced the ministry of all these men to near nothing but TULIP by naming what theological notion remains common among them all makes sense in what way exactly, Tony?

On the other hand, when there exists within the history of Calvinism empirical demonstration that not all Calvinists hold to the so-called Five-points of Calvinism--TULIP--yet to a man among the YRR shakers and movers, they all hold to Limited Atonement, in what way may we claim they are not focusing and embracing and promoting and encouraging TULIP as a theological paradigm? Indeed in what way may we conclude they are not theologically monolithic at least as far as soteriology is concerned?


Peter writes “I’m not sure one could make a stronger case for monolithic belief amongst a socio-theological community than what one may observe in the YRR leadership.”

You don’t get any more monolithic, rigid and unwavering in your message and tone than when you say things like:

“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, and that’s something that frustrates some people, but when I’m asked about the New Calvinism—where else are they going to go, who else is going to answer the questions, where else are they going to find the resources they are going to need and where else are they going to connect. This is a generation that understands, they want to say the same thing that Paul said, they want to stand with the apostles, they want to stand with old dead people, and they know that they are going to have to, if they are going to preach and teach the truth.” (Dr. Albert Mohler, President of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary)

Where else are they going to go … if they are going to preach and teach the truth?! Words like this only serve to fan the fires of the young (but not wise), restless (and rebellious), and reformed wannabe champions of a cause. Such arrogance fuels rebellion without revival and reformation without transformation.

I’ve been a Southern Baptist for 50+ years and have known its majority to be believers who truly “want to see the nations rejoice in the name of Christ” … multitudes of Christians who have taken the precious message of Christ to a lost world without “basically being Reformed.” Good Lord!

peter lumpkins


Exactly. If that is not indicative of promoting a monolithic message, it's hard to know what "monolithic" even means when we speak of it...

Paul Owen

Tony, the purpose of my essay was to describe what is troubling to me about the YRR movement. It was not within my scope to discuss its positive features. But rather than make excuses, people need to start asking hard questions about why exactly there is such a heated dispute about Calvinism within the SBC in the first place? Is it because the Calvinists "make much" of Christ? Is it because they are so God-centered and gospel-focused? Obviously that's not what their Traditional Baptist brethren are complaining about. They are complaining because they sense a shift of focus among the YRR (and within their churches) away from what has been at the center of Baptist life: the cross of Jesus and the earnest gospel invitation to come and be washed in the blood of the lamb. I don't think most Traditionalists give a hoot how many points of TULIP you affirm, as long as you don't monkey with the cross and good old Baptist soul-winning. Furthermore, the YRR have an edgy kind of friendliness with the world about them, that I think makes Traditionalists understandably uncomfortable about the direction all this is heading in terms of how one lives out the Christian life.

Scott Shaver

For those of us who have experienced and seen the destructive militancy of hyper-calvinism, The note Tony sounds in favor of the "fullness of ministry" offered by those he names rings hollow when one also considers the adverse effects of such "fullness" on the lives and ministries of thousands.

Over the last 30 years, I've seen the presence of Founders within SBC circles as a primary catalyst in this never-ending divide and conquer spirit dominating what remains of a previous version of the SBC.

When the Founders Movement and SBC Fundamentalists teamed up to purge and correct the SBC, the goal of Founders at that time was to infiltrate and plant their preferred theological system and adherents in every local church to which they could get a foot in the door. That is still their stated intent.

We are to actually buy into the idea that their primary concern now is peaceful coexistence via theological triage?

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice .... shame on me.

"Incisiveness" is exactly what the doctor has ordered IMO.

Thank you Paul Owen.


Scott writes "... the goal of Founders at that time was to infiltrate and plant their preferred theological system and adherents in every local church to which they could get a foot in the door. That is still their stated intent."

If anyone doubts what Scott just said, take a gander at "A Quiet Revolution" http://www.founders.org/library/quiet/

I have observed an interesting development in this regard. While most “old” Calvinists (of the Founders' sort) may be opposed to the methodology of their neo-brethren, others in the old guard appear to be putting up with the YRR brand as long as the essential reformed message moves forward in SBC ranks. What the Founders could not do over the past few decades, they have now found new energy for their mission in a generation of 20s-30s disillusioned with their parent’s way of doing church. They need the rebellious spirit to loudly do what they could not quietly accomplish. While there may be a few Founders' fingerprints and current SBC leaders involved, I truly believe that what we are observing is primarily the result of outside non-SBC reformed influencers and entities that are spearheading a larger Calvinist reform throughout the American church, just not in SBC ranks. As I noted earlier, I don't believe that "Old" Calvinism is the problem ... "New" Calvinism is. In my humble (but accurate) opinion, Dr. Owen has nailed it on the head.


Male, check; intellectually arrogant, check; argumentative, check; insecure (and therefore intolerant), check; prone to constructing straw-man arguments, check; he seems to feel the need to imagine all others outside his theological box as evil, uninformed, or just plain stupid, check. Peter, he's just described you perfectly!

peter lumpkins

Hi Doug. Back for your yearly injection of insult into the comment thread? How nice. Now, either offer some type of viable contribution to this thread (including allowing us to know who you are so commenters can all identify the yahoo for future reference) or run along to the next blog in which you glory kicking sand into people's faces. We have no time for your pestilent school boy pranks...

Scott Shaver

You get to a place in the Christian life (maybe an age) where you realize how inadequate all human thelogical systems are for capturing the fullness of God and His ways.

You also realize that you would like to spend the remaining years of your life involved with more constructive activities "to the glory of God" than beating others over the head whose grasp of Christian truth differs from yours.

I have not the time, conviction, or patience for finding middle ground with hyper-calvinism that SBC leaders seem to think is needed.

Bright side is the Founders movement will not be successful in mass at the local Baptist church level.

Dark side is you may wake up one day in the not-to-distant future wondering how Founders etc. managed to gain control of all six seminaries where SBC ministers are trained.

Too sot in me ways :)

Scott Shaver


Thanks for posting the link. Had not seen or did not remember that pertinent exhibit.

You and I suffer from the same paranoia :)


Hey Scott, are you still in moderation over at Pravda? Have you been watching the comment thread where the lone nonCalvinist has the audacity to suggest that going door to door was something ministers should be doing? Anyone wanting evidence of how the YRR will swarm in and attack those of differing views can see that in action. Also notice that Dave Miller who will moderate nonCals in a heartbeat is nowhere to be seen while a nonCal is attacked by the swarm. He somehow always misses that while finding nonCals offensive and worthy of moderation and banning all the time.

Paul Owen

In the thread above I put down some thoughts for Luke as to how the YRR brand of Calvinism can work at cross-purposes with Baptist patterns of doing church. This afternoon I came across a fine essay by Malcolm Yarnell, "The Potential Impact of Calvinist Tendencies Upon Local Baptist Churches," in Whosoever Will (B&H Academic, 2010). His well-researched piece deserves a very wide and considerate hearing in the public discussion regarding the place of Calvinism in the SBC. Calvinists in the convention would do well to consider his warnings and make sure they are first and foremost BAPTISTS, even if secondarily in sympathy with Reformed soteriology.

Scott Shaver


Honestly don't know about my current moderation status at Pravda. Don't care. Had a rather strong difference of opinion with Miller. He did not like my questions about how one of his posts might come across to non-calvinist readers.

I'm a little tired of being called a "hostile ranting moderate extremist" for simply disagreeing with the guy on various points.

Putting it mildly, I asked him privately to blow the self-righteous rhetoric out of his posterior. Haven't attempted to post or comment there since.

In the future I may check the Pravda threads to see if it's the same unrestricted hand full of preachers kicking up dust. Wasting any more juice attempting to participate in discussion,however,is not in the cards for me.

Why waste time interacting when one's thoughts are all filtered through the judgement of a megolamaniac?


Peter - your patience with the "Doug's" of the world is remarkable! If it was just the occasional folk of this sort that cropped up in YRR ranks, I wouldn't be so concerned about this movement. But, I could take you to a SBC-YRR church plant near me where there are numerous young folks with an attitude just like his. Thus, I continue to be concerned about the eventual outcome of this explosion of arrogance determined to recover the lost Gospel. What love is this?! (note: if Doug comes back and mentions that he is not YRR and older than 20-30 something, then I'm really worried about him).

A further note: I am pleased to see a youthful generation returning to church. It's just a dirty shame, that Southern Baptists couldn't have served up something else to attract them. I praise God that not all young folks have fallen for Mohler Moments, Piper Points, and Driscol Drivel. I heard a young SBC pastor preach the Cross with a passion just the other day and lead six new converts in the sinner's prayer ... with that, I still have hope.

Scott Shaver

Like Max,

Casting my lot with a younger generation of Baptists as described in paragraph 4 of his post.

Not a younger generation that,for the sake of truth, the glory of God, apple pie and Calvin, will post secretly obtained and fraudulently accessed "gotcha" recordings of such soul-winning preachers on YouTube as character assassination.

But then again as Tony has pointed out previously (and as Doug has dropped by to remind us)....We should refrain from being overly "incisive" of the latter considering their "fullness" of potential for fruit in the gospel and mutual ministry endeavor.


Dr. Owen,

Great essay. Thanks so much for articulating your views as a believer with Reformed views.

You wrote:
"When you have men in the SBC who are more zealous evangelists for conversions to Calvinism than conversions to Christ, more earnest in their apologetics for TULIP than for the existence of God and the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, more excited about the doctrines of grace than the gospel itself—coexistence is going to be difficult."

One of the biggest problems I see is they (in general) do not recognize this about themselves. It is a movement that redefines concepts, actions and words to the point that any semblence of reality is lost.

And yes, it is a sort of cult so I am glad you acknowledge that. it is mostly about following and emulating the gurus of their movement.

But the biggest problem they have is that many will have to pretend a lot has not actually taken place over the last 7 years or so in order to coexist. not so sure the trust is in place for that to happen since there has been no acknowledgement from certain quarters that us free will types also want to see the nations rejoice for Christ and that it is NOT ok for pastors to use the 1st Amendment to protect child molesters.

So, I suppose there are quite a few out there that are willing to play pretend unity?


Mr. Owen writes:

"...... I don't think most Traditionalists give a hoot how many points of TULIP you affirm,as long as you don't monkey with the cross and good old Baptist soul-winning."

My experience is the exact opposite. I've been repeating this over and over again. As one who is in and runs with reformed Baptist, I don't know anyone that would monkey with the cross and soul winning. The fact is, they/we/I am passionate with proclaiming the cross and soul-winning.

All you have to do is read the comments on this site over the years and see that there is an extreme bias against "TULIP" otherwise referenced as "Calvinism" or Reformed Baptist. Of course they give more than a few hoots about how many points of Tulip I affirm because they think it is a false Gospel.

And I'm not saying that as a negative. If you think "Calvinism" is flat out wrong, I would expect you to "rail" against the "TULIP".

Please name some YRR leaders who monkey with the cross and are against good old Baptist soul winning?

peter lumpkins


You write:

"All you have to do is read the comments on this site over the years and see that there is an extreme bias against "TULIP" otherwise referenced as "Calvinism" or Reformed Baptist. Of course they give more than a few hoots about how many points of Tulip I affirm because they think it is a false Gospel."

First, I'm glad to know you've read this blog over the years. Second, and just what do you expect a blog that was launched to counter aggressive Calvinism in the SBC to do? Be an advocate of the doctrines of grace as interpreted by Calvinists? Third, while I've certainly expressed my reservations with the Calvinistic doctrines of grace, I've not written my critiques with a decided "bias" against or, in your term, "extreme bias" against Calvinism. I've been as fair as I know how to be with the sources I've criticized.

Finally, you assert "they think it [Calvinism] is a false Gospel." Now, since you've read on this site over the years, you've obviously got a lot of evidence that I've emphasized here Calvinism to be a "false gospel". Fine. Produce it. Just one statement I've made out of 21000 comments and 1300 posts over a 7 year period where I've either indicated Calvinism to be a "false gospel" or perhaps an heretical belief. When you can, I'll be glad to post an official apology for doing so.

Nor am I interested in you suggesting it wasn't me to which you were referring. The fact is, this is my site. And, what's promoted on this site is what I personally write. And, while there's a measure of responsibility a host possesses for the comment stream, it cannot be held that what others may write represents what the blog host believes himself or herself.

Hence, either produce the evidence--a single time will do--that I maintain Calvinism to be a "false gospel" or retract the statement. You can say anything you wish about this site on another blog if they'll let you (and many of you do write these false charges). But you and others will not come here popping off about what I maintain about Calvinism or any other subject for that matter without being held accountable for it.

With that, I am...

Paul Owen

Eric, just to be clear. I am not accusing anyone of anything. I am glad to hear that you are an advocate of evangelistic preaching, altar calls, leading sinners to Christ, passing out gospel tracts, and soul-winning. The Calvinist Baptists I know don't do those things. Those are not prominent topics at conferences organized by T4G or TGC. I don't see the Acts 29 Network talking a lot about soul-winning, how to preach evangelistic sermons, praying for and expecting Holy Ghost revivals, the sinner's prayer, how to do altar calls, etc. I haven't noticed such topics in John Piper's books or the website for Desiring God Ministries.

As for monkeying with the cross, anyone who denies that the death Jesus died was offered up to God as a sacrifice sufficient for the sins of all men throughout the whole world, and for that reason, to be preached to all men throughout the whole world as the basis for their real opportunity to be saved, would be monkeying with the cross I suspect. No need to name names, since the answer is obvious.

Scott Shaver

Don't know about Paul or Peter, but I'll throw my two cents in on this Eric by admitting my bias straight up.

And TULIP is not the primary issue.

My bias, historically, is against those who have allowed Calvinism to inform Scripture rather than vice versa and with their egocentric views of reform rip the passion right out of preaching the cross to all.

When YRR and similar organizations become old enough to have even developed a sense of history they might understand why this is deja vu for some of us.



Did you read my complete comment including the following?

"And I'm not saying that as a negative. If you think "Calvinism" is flat out wrong, I would expect you to "rail" against the "TULIP"."

before you wrote:
.."Second, and just what do you expect a blog that was launched to counter aggressive Calvinism in the SBC to do?"

As I implied in my previous post, I expect you to do exactly what you are doing.

You don't have a fight with me brother.

I will retract the words "false Gospel" because I cant think of one comment that specifically use those words.
My apologies' for any offense.

So let me replace "false gospel" with "Not true"

I was not referring to you or any individual.

If This site doesn't have many comments to be in the "anti-Calvinist" camp. Or if those comments cant be characterized as having a bias (extreme or not) against "Calvinism", I will admit, I am a complete knucklehead.

My comment still stands that many folks do give a hoot about how many points of the Tulip I promote in the Baptist Church because they don't think it is true.

Mr. Owen:
I will have to accept what you are saying about Reformed Baptist not doing those things. The extremely difficult disconnect I am having with that thinking is I know many hundreds of Reformed Baptist who are passionate about evangelizing.....Out of those hundreds, I don't know One that is against it.


So do YRR genuinely "evangelize?" I suppose that depends on how the Gospel is delivered to the lost through a reformed grid.

I offer the following real-life example that I struggle with coming from my non-Calvinist Southern Baptist background. I follow podcast sermons of various SBC-YRR church plants. One in my area is growing in leaps and bounds and now planting churches in South Africa. In a message after returning from a SA mission trip, the young pastor related a story of a fellow who had paid a visit to the village they were working in. Toting a Bible given to him by a previous missionary to that area, the man asked to meet with the pastor to discuss the Jesus and Nicodemus encounter in John 3. He had read that passage and now essentially asked "What must I do to be saved?" The pastor responded "You don't have to 'do' anything - God's grace has been extended to you." No discussion of the text, no examination to see if the fellow really understood what he had read, no discourse on sin and redemption, no message of the Cross, no sinner's prayer, no invitation to accept Christ. Apparently, the young pastor believed that this fellow was of the predestined "elect" because he had read the Scripture and showed up in the camp to seek the pastor out - drawn there by God; thus, he must be saved.

Perhaps it's my SBC soul-winning upbringing, but I had trouble with this Gospel delivery, this form of evangelizing. I'm hoping this is an atypical YRR approach to reaching lost folks (you don't have to "do" anything), but I wonder if some YRR view belief and repentance as "works" and not faith. And of course, regeneration before faith clouds this form of evangelism to me for "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?" You don't have to "do" anything - God's grace has been extended to you?!

peter lumpkins


Yes, I read the entire comment before I responded. You say, "As I implied in my previous post, I expect you to do exactly what you are doing." Well, I'm definitively not doing what you implied I am doing. Namely, projecting 'an extreme bias against "TULIP" because we somehow think "it [Calvinism] is a false Gospel." Is this not what you implied we were doing, Eric? I see you've retracted it now which is fine. No problem.

But you further assert,

"If This site doesn't have many comments to be in the 'anti-Calvinist' camp. Or if those comments cant be characterized as having a bias (extreme or not) against 'Calvinism', I will admit, I am a complete knucklehead."

Yes, I'm sure you'll find many comments out of the 21K which could be viewed "anti-Calvinist." Nonetheless, there is a profound difference between being "anti-Calvinist" and flat out asserting Calvinism as a theological notion is a "false gospel." I've never uttered such so far as I know and have corrected many who have characterized it as so.

Finally, as for bias per se, there is nothing inherently uncommon about bias since we all have it to some extent, and thus we can speak of a healthy, necessary bias. For example, one without a fixed bias against eating certain mushrooms would find themselves sick at times and maybe even end up dead.

But you did not reference bias in such positive terms I'm afraid when you cited to Dr. Owen to read over the years the extreme bias against Calvinism on this site offering the singular reason for the bias being "because they think it is a false Gospel."

Hence, contrary to your assurance that I "don't have a fight" with you when seem to possess no reluctance to skew both my site's content and purpose I'm afraid I must disagree. And, as for you being a "complete knucklehead" I'll allow you and others to discern (I will say I'm puzzled as to why you'd bring up something like that; perhaps you're just being facetious).

peter lumpkins


I'd like to get the comment thread back on Dr. Owen's focus (I'm obviously to blame for some of this!); namely, whether or not his essay rings true that the YRR as a socio-theological community can be said to possess general tendencies including unhealthy focuses on personalities and TULIPs, leaving an emphasis on the person of Christ and work of Christ for the world behind, and consequently embracing a weakened ecclesiology, and at times, a non-existent ecclesiology, especially an ecclesiology counter-productive to traditional Baptist ways of "doing church."

Paul Owen

Max, that's a great illustration. "You don't have to do anything," as a definition of the gospel, is almost as heretical as telling them they need to earn their salvation to be saved. The quite obvious answer is, "You must repent and believe the gospel to be saved." On the one hand, I see my Calvinist brothers claim that they are being caricatured when others say that they empty faith and the operation of the will of all meaning, but then you find them so reluctant to rob God of his monergistic regeneration that they can't even speak in plain biblical language as to what one must do to enter God's kingdom and find eternal life! And I strongly suspect many YRR would have given the same answer to that sincere man, "You don't have to do anything." That is a theologically inept thing to say at best, a lie from the pit of hell at worst. And when that logic gets applied to sanctification as well, as many YRR people do, you basically have a very deadly antinomianism poison running amuck.


I'd still like to know if people agree with everything Dr. Owen wrote in this essay.

peter lumpkins

Bill, I'd expect few if any takers on the question, at least the way you've framed it. Truth is, virtually every document would cough up something with which one could quibble including Dr. Owen's essay. Heck, I could go through something I've written and quibble with my own writing!

Why don't you just pull the nail you think Dr. Owen drove in crooked and hammer it back down again? Then, you just might hear some sawing going on...

Scott Shaver


Your question prompted me back for another reading of Paul's post.

I for one, agree with him at every point he develops in the article.

Truth doesn't make me Episcopalian. In this case, it makes me a frustrated Southern Baptist :)

Scott Shaver

Yep, read it again a second time this morning.

My agreement in point with Owens on the addressed subject goes right down to autobiographical where "The Call of The Wild" is listed as favorite fictional story. One of mine as well.

However, Paul, my youngest daughter, 13, just had to read it for school and complained that it dragged.

Kirk Jordan

This essay let me breath. I count myself a non-Calvinist, who can never quite distance myself from the major themes of Reformed theology. (When I am around people who are not given to Reformed distinctives, I become a spokesman for the same.) This article helped me see why I am apprehensive taking on the term "Calvinist." You hit many of my misgivings on the head.

Paul Owen

Lydia, by the way thanks for your kind words!
Scott, LOL! I'm glad to meet another London fan. :)
Bill, it might help if you identified something specific in the article that you have in mind. Since there aren't a lot of Episcopalians running around SBC Tomorrow, I can imagine there might be some things that others here would see differently. But I am sensing a wide consensus of agreement as to my critique of YRR.


Bill, to answer your question from my perspective ... Dr. Owen's characterization of the YRR movement compares so closely with my own observations, that I'm considering becoming an Episcopalian! I even agree with his last comment that there is an "antinomianism poison running amuck" in some YRR fringes. The abuse of Christian liberty will eventually lead to antinomianism, if left unchecked. In my opinion, we need some SBC leadership giving more attention to this particular theological/ecclesiolgical drift than the Calvinism advisory committee did. I repeat yet again: "Old" Calvinism is not the problem in SBC ranks ... unfettered "New" Calvinism is!

Paul Owen

Max, lol! I would not advise you to jump ship too quickly! The water is awfully cold over here at the moment! :)


In his essay Dr. Owen did not state that the YRR lacked a robust ecclesiology, but that evangelicalism did, including non-Calvinist Southern Baptists (something that I clarified with him up higher in the comment stream). He also mentioned "foreign soil of modern evangelical gnostic spirituality" which he again said was not only true of Calvinists but non-Calvinists alike. I'm not saying I disagree with him. I think he's closer to the mark than many of us would like to admit. I was just curious to know if my non-Calvinist brethren here agree with him on those points.

Paul Owen

Bill, to clarify, I do believe that the Baptist tradition has the resources to have their own robust ecclesiology. I don't think the problem, as such, is with the free church tradition. But many Baptist churches have drunk the cool aid of the church growth/George Barna trend. Rather than stick to their Anabaptist roots, many churches have chosen to take their cues from the culture when it comes to worship. This seeker-sensitive, let's market the church to make it appealing to the culture mentality is perhaps the most serious spiritual disease infecting evangelical Christianity today. It has now reached it's most heretical expression in the "missional community" model, which is popular not only among the YRR and emergent churches, but among evangelical church planters at large.


Dr. Owen,

I don't disagree. Do you think the megachurch phenomenon is also a product of this kind of thinking?

Paul Owen

There is some overlap, but not a complete identity. John MacArthur is certainly not guilty of pandering to cultural trends. Nor was Jack Hyles. (I am not giving a blanket endorsement of either of them of course.) But personally, I would say Bill Hybels and Rick Warren are illustrative of our theologically bankrupt evangelical ecclesiology today. No offense intended to those who may have profited in some way from their ideas and ministry. To the extent that mega churches have implemented the seminal and paradigm changing ideas of Donald McGavran, yes, they are a product of this kind of thinking.


"... pandering to cultural trends."

We must be careful in our efforts to adjust ministry to be "culturally relevant" that we don't leave the Cross behind. In all the hype of the day, I think we forget that Jesus is the eternal contemporary.

There were a few one-liners in Greg Laurie's message at the SBC-2013 Pastor's Conference that I believe were aimed at the YRR movement (or at least appropriate):

"Don't trade reverence for relevance."

"If you try to be relevant, you may lose your authority."

"Sometimes when we try to crossover, we don't bring the Cross over."

Sure, Jesus talked about fish to fishermen, sheep to shepherds, and crops to farmers ... but His disciples took the message of the Cross to all men. This business of asking folks which way they want to go and then getting out in front to lead, will get you a crowd but not a congregation. What we have in too many places is a river 3 miles wide, but only 1 inch deep ... Christianity Lite.


BB Warfield's definition of Calvinism:

"That sight of the majesty of God that pervades all of life and all of experience... The Calvinist is the man who has seen God (in the Scriptures, parenthesis added)."

If we were all broken at the foot of the cross, as Mt. 5:3 and Isaiah 57:15 teach,

1. We would have no problems with TULIP.
2. We would have nausea over personality cults and hipster religion.
3. We would have no problem with regeneration preceding faith.
4. There would be a sweetness and humility to our convictions.
5. We would probably write fewer words. (Ecc. 5:1-5, Proverbs 10:19).

Paul Owen

Chuck, unfortunately you have failed to interact with the substance of my essay. Are you aware that TULIP did not even exist prior to the 20th century? You will not find the atonement described as "limited" in any Reformed confession. Nor will you find God's grace being described as operating in an "irresistible" manner on the elect. Nor will you find regeneration being performed unilaterally by God prior to the subsequent human response of faith.

Furthermore, your comments merely confirm the very problem I highlighted in my post. Are we really to believe that Christians who do not affirm TULIP in all its details, which would mean most Christians who have ever lived, and most believers on earth today, are not yet broken at the foot of the cross? Talk about hubris! Yeah right, John Wesley wasn't broken at the foot of the cross. And sweetness and humility are the exclusive possession of today's TULIP Calvinists? Yeah, that rings true to experience!

Ian Elsasser


Are Calvinists the only ones who sees in the Scriptures the things Warfield cites? Really? I have know many whom this describes but are not Calvinists.

Furthermore, your comment about regeneration preceding faith is questionable, nor do all Calvinists believe it (some believe faith precedes and some believe the two are simultaneous). Regeneration is never apart from faith or the word. Rather, the new birth is of the Spirit through faith by means of the word; that is, the Spirit works through the proclaimed word to give life in conjunction with faith.


Another non-Baptist theologian has weighed in on the woes of New Calvinism. Dr. Jerry Faught, Wiley College, provides his perspective in an article at Associated Baptist Press: http://www.abpnews.com/opinion/commentaries/item/8622-the-new-calvinism-in-the-sbc#.UcnxNZwltdU

Dr. Faught summed things up well I think in his closing paragraph regarding the Conservative Resurgence "Southern Baptists, obsessed with blocking a liberal left hook, got hammered with a hard right." Yep, a hard right indeed ... I would say we let the pendulum swing all the way back to the 16th century.

Leslie Puryear

Dr. Owen commented, "Are you aware that TULIP did not even exist prior to the 20th century? You will not find the atonement described as "limited" in any Reformed confession. Nor will you find God's grace being described as operating in an "irresistible" manner on the elect. Nor will you find regeneration being performed unilaterally by God prior to the subsequent human response of faith."

If this is true, this is a game changer. It means that 19th century Calvinists did not believe the same as 21st century Calvinists. It means that the Founders ministry is way off base on the beliefs of SBC founders. The implications of this statement are huge.

peter lumpkins

Max, A friend had already sent me a link. Thanks for posting it here. It's an article that seems to have used this site as a springboard leading to many sources. I literally could have written almost the entire essay; and frankly it possesses no real point we've not made here at one time or another!

More seriously, it's refreshing to find some of the same conclusions we've expressed about Neo-Calvinism coming so closely together from two independent non-Baptist theologians--Dr Owen an Episcopalian and now Dr. Faught presumably a Methodist.

Scott Shaver

Between Paul Owens and Jerry Faught, the image of a punch drunk former heavyweight having his pockets picked by new neighborhood bullies keeps running through my mind.


Although I am a few days late, I would love to weigh in on this discussion. I will first give a little background. I guess, I will call myself one of the dreaded new restless, reformed folk, and I'm proud of my title. It's not one I picked up easily, and I disagree with much of Dr. Owen's article.

I and my husband joined a reformed fellowship after much prayer and soul searching. Neither one of us was really looking of switching to "Calvinism" for a multitude of reasons. Your commenters and many on your blog knock the evilness/under-handedness of the new reformers. I would like to point a finger back at my southern Baptist heritage.

I was proud to be a cradle-roll child. I served as a NAMB summer missionary for 4 summers. I've done my share of door-knocking and back yard bible clubs for churches whose members wouldn't/couldn't. I went on to attend and graduate with a church history masters from SWBTS during the Dilday/ conservative takeover era. I then went on to attend for over 10 years a mega-church that boasted a SBC president. It wasn't until I moved to a small town Baptist church, that I was done.

My church/denomination was no longer, my church. I saw teenage pregnancy every Sunday. The church wasn't allowed to practice any type of church discipline and divorce was rampant. I was used to the 10% doing most of the work but even the S.S. leadership was getting upset because they couldn't get enough help. Bible school- the one touted salvation tool of the SBC was brought down to 4 days. We had just moved to this town and I offered to help where needed the Sunday before it started. I was thrown into a 5th/6th grade class where all the teachers had backed out and was expected to teach and lead from material I had just been handed. I could site more examples, but the kicker came in my SS class a few years later.

This was not reformed theology. This was from our highly praised lifeway material. I personally liked the old Bible Book Series but this was the topical one. I am a home-school mama and one of the few times I got group bible study was on Sunday morning. The particular Sunday I had enough was the Sunday when the lesson revolved around having a good Christian marriage while attempting to lead a blended family. Yes, the whole SS lesson dealt about how to handle a new family and do it the right way the 2nd or 3rd go around.

BTW, the pastor resigned from the ministry and the church. The youth director and several "young, restless, arrogant, TULIP" men started a reformed fellowship and we started attending.

Since joining a reformed, "sign on the dotted line," covenant fellowship, I've seen a man disciplined for cheating on his wife and he actually followed the elders and asked the fellowship for forgiveness. It's still a long road but at the least the church did something.

Our kids are experiencing family worship with their dad which was never taught in my SBC church growing up. I can quote the Roman Road backwards and forward- my youth group and church helped plant a church in North Michigan(which is still meeting 25 yrs later back in the day when the Arkansas Baptist Convention partnered with Michigan), but my preacher never taught the dads to lead the family like that. I was blessed that my dad didn't need such and he was a deacon and Sunday School teacher for over 60 years.

I've taken communion every Sunday and heard the cross explained to my children over and over again by their dad. They believe that God changes people. They've seen people open their homes to orphans. Dr. Owen didn't talk about the good side of being missionally minded. Just because I know longer support the foreign mission board, we've helped start a Christian school and monthly support an African pastor because we don't have building expenses.

This new reformed movement may be growing because it may make sense. The reformed church I attend is not "seeker" friendly and I don't agree theologically with seeker friendly churches nor do most of the reformed folk I know. Rick Warren is not welcome in my home. Please don't lump all of us new reformers in one huge bunch. My church lets my children sit with me(yes there was a sign at my mega-church asking small children not to be seated in the sanctuary.)

The church I attend may focus a bit more on Romans, but we've also done what Baptists used to do in Training Union- we've studied doctrine. I've read stuff that goes over my head such as Bonhoeffer. I've been forced to re-discover what church membership really is and should be.

Remember when all SBC churches used to have their covenant hanging in the church lobby. This new reformed church is up front about what it believes. Check out the websites and read the distinctives. So what if the young bucks are trying to grapple with hundreds year old theological ideas- they did in my seminary days and it wasn't reformed. They'll be doing it until Jesus comes back- heck they do at my fellowship.

We sing the old hymns along with new choruses. We recite scripture together. The messages aren't topical. They're exegetical. We just visited one of these new churches (we're moving and looking for a new church)and it was all about the cross. How could it not be when the elders are working through John and it was about Pilate turning his back on Jesus and giving the Jews Barabbas.

The SBC doesn't need to be concerned about this new radical uprising, it needs to get a handle on its own systemic problem. It let the culture in too far and forgot about the next generation. I don't want my kid to be one of George Barna's stats. I want the gospel to still be "relevant" and alive in my grandchildren.

Thank you for letting me rant. I've been following your blog for months and don't always appreciate your tack/take on this current uprising within the SBC.

Paul Owen

Jennifer, thanks for sharing your experiences. I'm glad to hear that your encounter with the YRR movement has been spiritually healthy and uplifting. I could provide many anecdotes to the contrary, but for what purpose? I'm glad that you are experiencing good Christian fellowship and teaching. But if you think teenage pregnancies and other unpleasant realities of human existence are solely a SBC problem, or that Reformed churches always do a great job in meting out church discipline, you may end up getting disappointed in the long run.

By the way are you aware of the systematic abuse of children which was allowed to take place under the watchful eye of C. J. Mahaney and SGM? And would you characterize Mark Driscoll as a model of what a godly pastor looks like? Just curious.


Jennifer you could have been a little more concise in your rant by just typing "Only Calvinists know how to do church and only Calvinists care about doctrine and the Bible." You're attitude pretty much just proved every point of Dr. Owen's article and the fact that you completely missed that shows the attitudes we're dealing with.

Scott Shaver

Jennifer, if it's working for you more power to you and your local fellowship.

One person's subjective experience however, does not a movement make.

You sound a little more excited about the exercise of church discipline through a board of elders and "signing on the dotted line" than most Baptists I know are comfortable with.

Hence, I don't want to be part of a Baptist denomination that requires me signing off at the local church level "on the dotted line".

And I differ with your conclusion that the SBC has "nothing to worry about."

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