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prov·o·ca·tion - something that provokes, arouses, or stimulates. pant - to long eagerly; yearn. a collection of thoughts intended to provoke and inspire. these posts are hoping to encourage people to think, especially Christians, and pant even harder for the waterbrooks of the Lord. If you are not a believer in Christ Jesus, I welcome your perspective and encourage your investigation on these matters.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Jack Graham Comes to Southern Seminary

A week ago I checked my mailbox at school and found the latest Towers issue (school newspaper) in which I was dumbfounded to see that Jack Graham would be the chapel speaker for this Thursday (October 20,2005). At first, I could not believe it and thought that the administration was not aware of the agenda Graham has against the doctrines of grace (of which is explicitly taught at Southern and credal in our confessions). I waited a couple of days to decide on whether to email someone in leadership and wanted to make sure I refrained from rhetoric and emotion, and so I did. I asked via email as to whether or not they were aware of the shenanigans of Graham, and if they did, why they chose to invite him to speak in chapel. I later received a reply back that did not answer a single question of mine, but rather said that most blogs covering Graham are "juvenile". Now, I will readily admit that my blog could be classified as "juvenile" in that I am not a seasoned scholar or accomplished theologian or ministerial veteran, but I think that this charge is unbecoming of men like Tom Ascol and James White, both of whom have extensively covered Jack Graham's false caricature of those who believe in the doctrines of grace. To make the charge of "juvenile" while disregarding the questions as a cut-and-run tactic, well, appears to me more "juvenile." In case any of you have not been informed on Jack Graham, let me refer you to some links: Tom Ascol's response part one: Tom Ascol's response part two: James White's response part one: James White's response part two: James White's response part three: To listen to Graham's sermon, click here and wait for the 17 minute mark to begin his tirade. Yesterday in chapel, I understand that Dr. Mohler requested that the students show grace towards Graham when he comes and give him a listening ear because there is a lot that we can learn from him (I was not there but heard this second hand). Personally, I don't know Graham, and presume him to be a great pastor, godly man, and passionate about the church and winning souls for Christ. Unfortunately, his reckless comments unprovoked have eclipsed his character and ministry and made him the center of controversy. Let's be clear: Those criticizing him did not put that sermon in his head. What Graham has done is primarily self-inflicted, and it would be naive to think that a man of his stature - well educated, theologically trained, and denominationally influential - would get away with reckless rhetoric and constructing the straw man as representative of those in the Reformed tradition. I agree with Dr. Mohler that we should show grace to Graham, but that does not mean that we do not hold his false presentation of Calvinism accountable to the truth. There is a great difference between license and grace, truth and tolerance, and we have tolerated great leaders of the SBC attacking and misrepresenting Reformed theology far too long (Johnny Hunt, Bobby Welch, Adrian Rogers, etc.). What does Mohler mean to show grace? To act as he and others did with the liberals in our institution in the early 90's? To enforce convictions of the school as he does with those who differ on the grounds of tee-totalism in alcohol? If that is the case, then we must be consistent. Simply because Graham is a former SBC president and pastor of a big megachurch does not mean that we give him a wholesale endorsement, throw blind eye to his teaching, and give him a free pass to throw 1-2 punches from a pulpit with a chance of dialogue, correction, or even confrontation. Had Graham never spoken out against the doctrines of grace, I am quite sure he would be welcomed with open arms, but because he has publicly and personally made it his agenda to tell "the truth about grace" (which as Ascol says is false advertisement), he must be willing to face the truth. I have been wondering how others in church history dialogued, debated, confronted the differences each had in understanding of God's plan of redemption and order of salvation. For instance, there is much to learn from how Athanasius dealt with Arius, Augustine with Pelagius, Luther with Erasmus, Spurgeon with Moody, and recently James White with Dave Hunt. There is nothing new with Graham's pontificating; what is new is the intensity and persistence of SBC leaders to suppress the truth about grace; furthermore, many pastors and church leaders have been run out of town because of false accusations through propagandists like BaptistFire and other bogus anti-Calvinist outlets. Sadly enough, the sacred desk among those having the gravest mantle have been found among these outlets. I have several other things I would like to say about this which I must reserve until tomorrow. I will bullet my points for clarity in thought and read, and I hope to present a defensible and consistent argument why Graham must be held accountable and Southern Seminary should be honest and answer sincere questions, or else it would be entirely fair to dismiss chapel services and Graham's remarks as "juvenile".

3 Comments:

Blogger Nathan White said...

Timmy,

Make sure to keep us updated on what goes on during his visit. And yes, I think James White did a great job pointing out that Graham's issues are not only with the doctrines of grace.

I don't think I could keep silent and welcome him with open arms...maybe that's why the Lord currently has me here...or maybe not :)

SDG

10/19/2005 06:00:00 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Give the poor guy a break

10/19/2005 06:00:00 PM

 
Blogger Timmy said...

Mr. anonymous:

I am trying to understand Graham as "a poor guy needing a break." Do you think that his sermon was accidental and comments just slipped out of his mouth? Given that over half of his sermon was specifically about this baseless caricature, it seems all too apparent that this was more than actions of just an ignorant pastor making some random remarks. They were calculated, intentional, and derogatory. What Graham needs is not a break but willingness to come forth and admit that what he presented is NOT who Reformed believers are, and although hyper-Calvinism does exist, the overwhelming majority of Calvinists are nothing which he spoke of.

10/19/2005 06:27:00 PM

 

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