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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.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Uh . . . No, I Don't Think So

Yet again. Another pastor has sought to "disarm" Calvinism. Dr. Bill Wilks of Northpark Baptist Church, Trussville, Alabama has recently preached a two-part sermon called "Predestined to Hell? No Way!" (sound familiar? Hello Mr. Rogers). Here they are: part one and part two. Notice the emphasis of "covenant." How ironic. I found out about this preacher from a link to my blog on Derek Webb's message board. The post says the following:

The chapel service at the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary at the Birmingham center this Monday is to inform the students of the "dangers" of Calvinism and to "disarm" the Calvinistic position. I actually won't be there but some of the students called and wanted a paper written to correct his lecture. The lecture can be heard here (originally taught at his church): http://www.northparkbc.org/clientimages/26972/audio/010806_am.m3u I cannot believe some of the things this man is says (and is going to say). It is almost so outlandishly intellectually and exegetically dishonest that I am not even sure if it is going to be worth the time (except that 90% of the student body there is just as dishonest as he is). If you get a chance, see what you think. You may want to remove all breakables from your midst...
After listening to these two sermons, my heart is grieved. Here we see pastors with assumed authority preaching erroneously and with willful intent. Wilks appears to be an educated man (hence "dr.") and should handle Scriptures in a fair manner (I must give him credit that he actually attempts to address what the Bible says). If a pastor with a doctorate degree can butcher the Scriptures with such brutish misunderstandings, then what are we to think of the pastors who have no theological training attacking Calvinism? As such pastors quote from sources like BaptistFire and Dave Hunt whose only consistency is being flagrantly foul, how are we to have dialogue with those whom we disagree? Speaking of "drs.," you might want listen to Ergun Caner's recent sermon (if you can bear it) at Thomas Road Baptist Church. As many of you already know, Ergun and his brother Emir are scheduled to debate James White and Tom Ascol later this year. Be sure to listen to his exposition (or should I say imposition) on Romans 9. Lastly, let me provide you a quote from Dr. Wilks in his second sermon:
"If Calvinism is true, then Calvinism robs us of the greatest story ever told, of the greatest verse in the Bible (John 3:16)."
In light of this quote and his sermons, what is your response? What do you think? Is there any hope that those who hear such sermons will be encouraged to search the Scriptures and refuse to blindly accept such shameful packages of "truth"?

18 Comments:

Blogger james said...

Frankly, I am disgusted that one of our seminaries, and especially the one I will be graduating from this semester with my undergrad, would host such a message. I am not suprised though. NOBTS wasn't exactly a calvinist friendly place on the whole.

4/23/2006 02:23:00 PM

 
Blogger james said...

I posted my own thoughts on my blog, this sermon is horrible. I am unwilling to subject myself to the second half although I would like to for the sake of completeness. The ad hominem attacks, the complete lack of a biblical understanding of the natural state of man, the insufficient view of election.

Dr. Wilks does not believe in a very loving God as far as I can tell since God isn't actually able to save anyone in particular. And that description God's covenants made almost no sense to me.

4/23/2006 03:40:00 PM

 
Blogger Timmy said...

I look forward to reading your comments James. Yeah, the sermons are bad - really bad, and unfortunately, this is happening all across our convention. Lies, slander, caricatures, contorting Scripture, malignment of truh etc. Where is the intellectual integrity, the moral uprightness, the theological maturity, and the pastoral necessity for such outlandish messages as this?

I'm troubled yet hopeful, grieving yet believing that God's people will not be so easily duped into appraising shenanigans as substantive truth.

4/23/2006 04:16:00 PM

 
Blogger D.R. said...

When I left NOBTS, it was poised for Reformation. A few of us worked dilligently to give Calvinism a good face and an ardent defence. We got the attention of the faculty, the students, and especially the undergraduate program, the administrators of which had a meeting with current students to ask why more of them were getting their B.A.'s and heading north to Southern. The undergrad program never seemed to get it, but those of us in the Master's programs, at least during that time, seemed to be making a difference. Heck, when I left I knew of no Ph.D students that were not either Calvinists or at least open to it. Maybe when they can get back to NOBTS main campus, the students will once again sit under Dr.'s Norman, Stewart, and England, and glean from them a real picture of the doctrines of grace in the Bible. At least I hope so.

4/23/2006 07:13:00 PM

 
Blogger Timmy said...

I can't say that I know much about NOBTS, but the reason why this particularly interests me is because for many folks in central and north Alabama, this is the nearest seminary extension. I know of many friends who carpooled to B-ham on Monday's to take classes at this very extension, all of whom are Calvinists. I would not be surprised if they were among the students wanting to write a response to this lecture.

As you stated, Daniel, it would be great to see a true and fair representation of the Reformed at NOBTS - at least be given acceptance as brothers and sisters in Christ without being dogged in absence.

I am afraid that one moral of this story is that when you hear lies enough, you begin to think they are true. Maybe if enough lies get out early and often, people might be convinced that what is popularized has been verified.

4/23/2006 07:46:00 PM

 
Blogger iconoclasm said...

These people seem to think that all you have to do to refute Calvinism is to read a Dave Hunt book. I think I would actually enjoy hearing some one try to "disarm" if they actually knew a lot about Calvinism.

4/23/2006 08:38:00 PM

 
Blogger Paul said...

When I lived in Kentucky I found a lot of SBC churches in the south simply never thought about scriptural philosophy and exegetics. It always appears like when most people hear these sermons they feel it’s right and normally don’t think it through. The hope is for hearers of these sermons to read their Bibles for themselves. The sermons are obviously unfair and unintelligent. How could you cringe at the thought of being a puppet for God when you’re a slave to sin? Would it be better to be a puppet of one who is perfect in pleasure, righteousness, thought, and joy, or a puppet to your own desires? If Christians believe God is so great in every way to meet their every want and need perfectly, who wouldn’t want to be God’s puppet, instead of trusting imperfect, unsatisfied human decisions? How can these preachers take such relative stands? To say the greatest verse in the entire Bible is John 3:16 is relative, and how does Calvinism rob John 3:16 of greatness anyway? In one sense Calvinism says humans don’t make decision, yet in another sense it says our response is a choice; but these preachers don’t even talk it out. Human decisions don’t nullify God’s sovereignty.

The hope for all Christians to believe God’s “truth” is with God. “Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” Phil 4:8. If the Bible says all things were created for Jesus and whoever believes in him receives his benefits, our hope is that God makes us think about it. Most Christians want to find life in their position of being right instead of thinking about Jesus all day long and finding absolute life in him. The more we think about Jesus, the more we see he’s right and we’re wrong. The more we realize his way is best and ours isn’t. The more we realize he is in control and we’re not, and our life actually becomes better.

4/24/2006 03:40:00 PM

 
Blogger Alex F said...

I think we could all get old listening to this tired, regurgitated drivel. I don't know if there's anything we can do about it other than to try to promulgate the truth where we have opportunity to do so.

4/24/2006 03:47:00 PM

 
Blogger Timmy said...

I agree with what is being said. My main concern, however, is short term. I am not concerned with the long-term outcome because I can scarely find such dogmatism and bad theology among the younger generation of ministers going into the pulpits. When these ministers leave and the rhetoric dies off, the truth will still stand.

In the past twelve months, I have heard at least twelve sermons such as this and even worse. I don't know if it is me catching up on a long-standing Arminian rant or this is new. What I do know is that this is not good for our churches.

One, the majority of the laypeople don't know and probably don't care about doctrine. It appears that the only time doctrine is taught and emphasized is when they are against it.

Second, such teaching when not faithful to the Scripture will not be helpful in counseling lost people nor in evangelism.

Third, the only people they hear preaching about Calvinism is by those who are against it. As I have said earlier, those who are militantly anti-Reformed are like Al-Jazeera giving us weekly updates on the war on Iraq. It is spin that won't win.

The news of this is not rattling or maddening to me anymore. What it is, is a continual reminder that the reform SBC needs is not to political or denominational but theological and ecclesiological - on the local church level.

4/24/2006 04:08:00 PM

 
Blogger Timmy said...

For what it's worth, I just happened to check my stat page and noticed several hits from Trussville, Alabama, one of which had 71 page views. I think someone is checking up on me. :)

Since the Gadfly linked this post up yesterday, well, a lot of traffic has been coming in about this. Obviously, the issue is a big deal to a lot of people - and should be. More later.

4/25/2006 01:08:00 PM

 
Blogger Calvinist Gadfly said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

4/25/2006 05:24:00 PM

 
Blogger Calvinist Gadfly said...

Timmy, it appears to have been a temporary server issue. It it coming through now. Thanks

4/25/2006 05:47:00 PM

 
Blogger GeneMBridges said...

The fact that this comes out of an SBC seminary from an SBC pastor is appalling. In denouncing Calvinism, they denouce the SBC. Each and every delegate in 1845 affirmed the Philadelphia Confession of Faith. Add James P. Boyce, Patrick Hues Mell, Richard Furman, John A. Broadus, Lottie Moon, John L. Dagg, E.T. Winkler, and more, and you find that these men consign their own forefathers to the trash heap. Of course, this is altogether understandible, given their appreciation for church history runs about a generation deep to their grandfather's age.

I wonder if it has ever occurred to these folks that they are functional Unitarians. Probably not, given they are beyond sloppy thinkers. Dr. Wilks, or whoever may be reading from your area, consider this: In Calvinism, the Father elects actively, the Son redeems perfectly, and Spirit applies the benefits of redemption infallibly as men preach the gospel faithfully. The success rate of the missions and evangelism enterprise is always 100 percent, though only God knows for certain the ratio between the elect and the reprobate. In your soteriology, sir, the Father bases his election on foreseen faith, so election is outside a chain of grace. The Spirit's work amounts to an external call and regeneration cannot occur until after a man believes. This is ineffecual as far as the call is concerned, and people perish for whom Christ died, so the success rate is not 100 percent. The only grace here is the cross, and that is not effectual at all, since it is for all persons without exception. Thus only the Son is active in this. This is functional Unitarianism. What more proof, look to the General Baptists who became the Free Willers. With the exception of the New Connexion, they all turned to Socinianism, a function of Unitarianism. Reformed churches only turned to Unitarianism when they abandoned their Calvinism. If you ask me, this is enough to condemn your soteriology as anti-Trinitarian.

4/25/2006 07:03:00 PM

 
Blogger Timmy said...

Alan,

I will try to figure out what is going on with links. I am currently on break in Dr. Ware's systematic class, so I better get back in! We are discussing the atonement.

Also, I noticed my sidebar is playing hide-and-go seek (at least on this computer). On the busiest day of the year this stuff happens . . .

Gene,

Thanks for your comments brother. What you have said is true, and what is most disturbing is the denial of a Trinitarian salvation. While they would never assent this acknowledgement, the proof is in the pudding.

I have been made aware that James White has addressed this as well today on his radio show. I look forward to listening that as well.

This week is incredibly busy with the Band of Bloggers and T4G conference, so you guys are going to have to keep me up on what all happens. In the meantime, I will try to fix the problems.

4/25/2006 07:36:00 PM

 
Blogger jeremyb said...

I attend NOBTS here in Birmingham and was at the chapel. It was the dumbest thing I've ever heard. Please know that there are students and teachers here that believe the Bible! Actually, I would say that around 50% of the people here are Reformed and hold high the Gospel of Truth! There has been uproar here due to the chapel service. I can keep you updated on the situation here. Until then. For The Glory of God!

5/01/2006 02:30:00 PM

 
Blogger Timmy said...

Thank you, Jeremy, for your comments. I don't know if you were the one, but I met a guy from North Alabama who also was at the chapel service. We met outside the conference room of the T4G conference.

He told me his take on things, and it looks like there is a lot of explaining to do. I have yet to hear of anyone who has defending Dr. Wilks or NOTBS for their decision of his happening. I have been told, too, that there were only a few chapel services during the semester (denoting that it was not a regular, weekly service but rather determined to be held for specific purposes). If this is the case, then obviously there is an agenda here.

Please keep me (and all of us) informed on what comes of this disappointing situation. Thank you for checking in!

5/01/2006 03:18:00 PM

 
Blogger jeremyb said...

timmy,
I didn't realize it the first time I posted that it was you. This is JeremyB from UM. I should have known that you would be on top of this. I haven't seen you since sneakyd's wedding in the cog. How are you man?

5/01/2006 07:10:00 PM

 
Blogger Timmy said...

You mean Jeremy Burrage?! Are you kidding me?

It is great to hear from you brother. Funny thing is I just recently heard from Shannon McKenzie the other day whom I have seen only once since UM days.

Things are going well . . . well and busy. A week and a half left of this semester (including finals), two new blogs coming up, organizing the Band of Bloggers, ministry at UPS . . . well you get the idea.

Let's catch up sometime. Get with Kizza to get my information or email me at gospelcentral [at] yahoo [dot] com. Great to hear from you man!

5/01/2006 09:09:00 PM

 

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