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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, February 22, 2006

Our Little Secret . . .

We all know that it is general knowledge that SBCers who believe in the doctrines of grace cannot be passionate about evangelism or missions. According to Steve Lemke and Bobby Welch, to be Calvinist is to be against the Great Commission. We are told that Calvinists don't knock on doors but rather sit at their own theological pubs and discuss soteriological nuances. We are told that to be a five-pointer is to be one who destroy churches, that the doctrines of grace are a virus . . . you get the point. So I am going to let you in on a secret. I did something a Calvinist is not supposed to do. I must confess to you - I went on a mission trip. This past Monday, The Towers, a news publication of Southern Seminary, has a front-page article called "Experiencing the Culture Firsthand" which reports about the mission trip I had the privilege to be a part of. Shhh . . . now don't everybody get mad at me all at once. If only they knew that I (along with all "true Calvinists" as Piper calls them) have been passionately and thoroughly involved in evangelism and missions since I became a Christian (and moreso since I understood the sovereignty of God in salvation). But that's our little secret. Along these lines, I have a renewed interest in the forum thing (I never know what to call it) between Drs. Mohler and Patterson as they will be addressing the issue of election and evangelism ("Reaching Today's World Through Differing Views of Election"). With all the furor of convinced Arminians that those in the Reformed tradition cannot grow churches, cannot really love the lost, and cannot have an earnest, fervent ministry, I think Dr. Mohler will have much to contribute. In the meantime, let me encourage you to check out the ministry and evangelism of Mark Dever and IX Marks. Furthermore, I have made it my goal not to waste my time listening to the uncharitable remarks of those who rail against Calvinists. Rather, because the days are evil, redeeming the time is necessary to walk wise towards outsiders - and that begins with me walking to them. So to my Reformed brothers, let us be found "steadfast, immovable, and abounding in the work of the Lord" and laboring for the glory of God among the world of people who do not treasure Jesus. Let history correct the transient opinions of today and not be deterred to cater towards the fruitless discussions and controversies which neither profit nor bear fruit. Do not be overtaken by attacks and inflammatory remarks; we are not adrenal Christians but coronary Christians, so let us live as such. On another note, this was the first publishing of any photographic work I have done and marks one year that I have taken up photography. The online version doesn't include the other two photos I took which where included in print, but it was a memorable time for me as a novice photographer. I did take a lot of photos while in Ecuador; unfortunately, I haven't had the time to edit many of them. To view the 130 or so I have available, click here.

9 Comments:

Blogger Andy said...

Timmy, I applaud you for your decision not "to cater towards the fruitless discussions and controversies which neither profit nor bear fruit."

On your post about Johnny Hunt being awarded the "Calvinist Gadfly" award, I feared that you and Hunt were quite similar in your jabs -- he with his off-color remarks about Calvinism and you with your posting of the "Arminian Grace."

I'm glad to see you now choosing not to waste time with such things.

2/22/2006 09:59:00 AM

 
Blogger Timmy said...

Andy,

While I understand your concern, let me say that there are discussions and controversies which are very profitable. Not all disucsion and controversy is bad, lest we forget the pivotal moments in church history!

I believe we are in such a pivotal time in the life of the SBC. Therefore, discussion and controversy will be inevitable as those who don't want change will fight to remain status quo, and those who are seeking reform are working to return to biblical ecclesiology and soteriology. While we are united in and under Christ as our Head, the Body of Christ must work together for the heathiness of the Church and address the symptoms and problems which occur.

What I mean about fruitless discussions is playing with semantics, speculations, and sarcastic remarks not intended to promote dialogue (which has been evident as of late). Ultimately, history will settle the matter and truth will settle into the hearts of people. In the meantime, we are called to contend for the truth, for the gospel, and for the glory of God. When either of these are compromised or maligned, then I am bound by conscience and God's Word to respond (as the Spirit of God leads). Doing such is never a waste of time, if of course you are doing it for the edification and building up of God's Church.

I believe Paul gives us a healthy balance and had great discernment in these matters. He knew when to confront the Judaizers in Galatia (and that was definitely a worthy controversy). He knew that he needed to address the errors in Corinth, the divisions at Philippi, the Gnostic influence at Colossae, etc. Yet he remained steadfast in proclaiming "Christ and Him crucified." This is where I hope to land.

The Gadfly award is not a discussion - it's a statement. Furthermore, the Arminian Grace hymn is true of Arminian theology. It is not a slam - unless of course you are embarrassed by it.

2/22/2006 03:40:00 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Timmy,
I've read and read till I'm not sure what to think. First thing I love you for your passion. you make a statement that is for sure. I'm in the field fighting to share the Gospel and to read everyone's jabs and slants really hurts my heart and I know the hearts of other missionaries of God. We are praying for you all.
Your Brother in Christ.

2/22/2006 06:24:00 PM

 
Blogger Timmy said...

Because you are on the field, I am not going to ask you to provide your name; however, I would like to know specifically what you are talking about the material you are reading (IMB issues, Reformed issues, others). Yes, there is quite a controversy going on in the SBC right now. I wish it never happened. However, one must make the decision which is better - compromise or controversy.

Thank you for your prayers. Please know that you are in mine as well. Yes, there is much at stake, and more so the glorious name of Jesus among the peoples of the world! I pray that the hearts of you and other fellow missionaries are strengthened in spite of the ordeal. Who knows what God may providentially bring out of this?

Please keep in touch, and I pray that in the meantime God will sweeten his fellowship with you even more by ravishing your heart with his presence.

2/22/2006 08:54:00 PM

 
Anonymous Julie said...

This is to whoever wants it. Im a reformed christian.God has shown me hear recently what the blble actully says about certain issues.I applaud you timmy for standing up and taking your ground on what certain people have to say abouts things. My biggest prayer and (im ALSO talking to myself) is that whether one is a arminian, calvinist, or whatever. I pray that we would be and act like christians and do the work that God has laid down before us before the beginning of time. I do believe that God elects people to salvation. We as humans dont know who the elect are only God knows. So i have to keep reminding myself, lets get off of our lazyness and GO AND MAKE DISCLPLES. I hope this makes since and if it doesnt i apologize.

2/22/2006 11:36:00 PM

 
Blogger Andy said...

Yes, I understand that not all discussion and controversy is bad. But such that is "fruitless" and of no profit, this is what I'm glad to see you decided to stay away from.

I do not, however, see the current debate between Calvinists and Arminians as being fruitful. It's dividing and is creating dissention within the body -- from my point of view. God recieves no glory when we argue and fight amongst each other over doctrine and theology. Even if we seek a return to what we believe is Biblical, pride can creep in and drive our discussions. And for the most part, that's all I've seen. In my lifetime, I've only ever met one person (maybe two) who believed in reformed soteriology and did not seem prideful or arrogant when we discussed my hang-ups (and subsequent non-Calvinism) on the issue.

I don't see the Calvinist and Arminians as preaching two different Gospels. Both preach Christ crucified and risen. Both preach Christ alone as the sufficient atonement for our sin. Both preach grace and repentance. In my mind, this falls under the umbrella of Romans 14.

If I don't follow the Calvinist camp, don't belittle me or try to make me feel in error or intellectually inferior. In turn, I won't mock you for believing that way you do.

As for the Arminian Grace, that is a slam. There's no glory for God to be found in posting such nonsense. It's a slam, a mockery, of the belief of those who don't follow in your reformed footsteps...and the only thing I'm embarassed by is the way many on your side of the map foster division and the "we're right - you're wrong" mindset. As long as this continues, there will never be unity...in the SBC or anywhere else in the Body.

And that's why I've avoided and will continue to avoid getting very deep into this discussion.

2/25/2006 11:11:00 AM

 
Blogger Timmy said...

Andy,

The discussion about God's sovereignty in salvation has been a fruitful discussion throughout church history. What you have encountered here recently in the SBC is nothing new, and to avoid the discussion is to avoid church history, biblical doctrine, and propositional revelation.

Ignoring the discussion is precisely the problem for the SBC today. Preachers don't preach doctrine or truth anymore. We hear the chaff of topical preaching, and preachers are not trained to mine the treasures in God's Word. Therefore, the whole counsel of God's Word is substituted for the whole counsel of man (and his opinions). Thus saith the Lord is replaced with "Here's what I think about what the Bible says."

I have been told that your own pastor, Dusty McLemore, just last Sunday preached a sermon on the doctrine of election. If the discussion is so fruitless and necessary to stay away from, then why are all the Arminians preachers mounting up the Calvary to assault the doctrines of grace? I haven't heard the sermon but hope to do so in the near future. But from what I have been told, Dusty McLemore, whom I really like by the way, has (like so many others) not treated the doctrine of election fairly and biblically. This is not "my theology is better than yours," but taking in consideration the Bible as a whole and not the particular proof texts that support your position.

This is clearly NOT a Romans 14 matter. Quite contrary. This is a Galatians 1 matter. I am NOT saying that Arminians are preaching "another gospel" necessarily, but they seriously undermine the sovereignty and supremacy of God for a highly man-centered theological framework with attempts to give discredit the decretive will of God. I am glad that you see Arminian Grace as nonsense. Your retort is evidence that you see the fallacies of such theology. Sometimes it takes juxtapositions to see the glaring differences which lie between the two (the other being Amazing Grace).

I am considering in the future of posting a series called "Calvinism for the Common Man" where I present the doctrines of grace without the technical and nuanced language in brief and concise articles. Honest, sincere questions are welcomed. Listen, I feel you when you say that you cannot stand the lies and rhetoric and attacks. Calvinists have been on blasted by preachers in the SBC for several years. If you have a problem with unity, I encourage you to consider the catalyst, and request that they charges, caricatures, and cheap shots stop - period. I do not know of one Calvinist who is openly trying to conver folks to Calvinism. We preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and seek the glory of God in the salvation of sinners. If anything, Calvinists are criticized for correcting errors and defending themselves, as thought they are not allowed to! I go to a school where were are called the school infested with "hypercalvinists," and yet I have not met a one, never heard a sermon on Calvinism, nor found a statue of Calvin, Augustine, Luther, or anyone where altars are provided to pay homage to them. People are playing on fear, intimidation, and exagerration. The only thing missing is a humble spirit bound only to teach the truth.

A classic example of this is Jamey Ragle's last sermon preached at Clements (@ the Bible Conference - the audio is available online). Do you know what his text was? Ephesians 1! Do you know what he did? He read the text at the 9:00 mark once and abandoned it for the rest of the sermon for pop-psychology and experimental knowledge. A cheap shop against Calvinists was made which provoked the congregation to chuckles and giggles, a congregation whom knows nothing of Calvinism. Methinks that if you preach from the text of Ephesians 1, you should deal with what the text says. However, the only resort is to abandon it for rhetoric, Arminian talking points, and threats. And if one gets excited enough about it, then that means it must be true. Right? Anyone who does not deal with Scripture when addressing such doctrinal issues not only forsakes biblical truth but replaces it pointless pontifications. Why substitute the inspired Word for such trifling?

Andy, I can tell that you earnestly want to examine the Scripture carefully and what you believe. Please do not stop in that pursuit. I am sorry that you have encountered Calvinists who are not staggered by God's grace and humbled by the infinite love of God. I am not trying to convert you to Calvinism, nor should anyone. I am only asking that you consider the Bible, the whole Bible, and nothing but the Bible. Lay aside presuppositions and predetermined conclusions and look with virgin eyes what God has to say about "so great a salvation." Unfortunately, 90% of those who preach about Calvinism or the doctrines of grace or Reformed theology are militantly against it, and therefore you will hear everything in the absolute worst possible light. It won't be fair. It won't be honest. And let me venture to say it won't be biblical. All I would ask is for fairness to those with whom you disagree and faithfulness to the Scripture. It is not too much to ask, is it?

Finally, a word about unity. You say that theological discussion and doctrinal study causes division. This could not be further from the truth! It was precisely theological discussion and doctrinal study that separated the orthodox Church from heresy throughout church history! Yes, truth is not sexy, nor is it popular. It won't be found on marquees or on billboards. Sound-byte preachers with hobby horse agendas won't bear to deal with it. The numbers will go down. People won't *feel* good after the sermon. And the preacher won't be popular/liked. It was the great orthodox defender Athanasius who was known with the saying, "Athanasius contra mundum" - Athanasius against the world. And so it is. Consider Martin Luther with the Roman Catholic Church ot Augustine with the Donatists and Pelagians, or what shall we say about Arians, Gnostics, Stoics, Platonists, Socinians, and on and on? The Church is the "pillar and buttress of truth", not a scientific or pragmatic test tube or experiment for the last fad or novelty item. Let us stand on the solid Rock of Truth Himself and say with that reformer himself, "Here I stand. I can do no other. So help me God." Surely, our God is a mighty fortress! Be encouraged, brother, and please know that I appreciate your concerns

2/25/2006 08:34:00 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

2/25/2006 09:40:00 PM

 
Blogger Timmy said...

For the record, I am no longer allowing "anonymous" comments. I spend way too much time trying to defend the policy and explain to people why they must identify themselves. After today (02.26.05), if you would like to comment on P&P, you can get a Blogger account and do so. Thank you.

Secondly, I am not attacking Clements Baptist Church or any other for that matter. For those who think so prove a fundamentalist mindset. People can disagree without it being an attack, except of course your interpretation is infallible.

2/26/2006 10:23:00 PM

 

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