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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, May 31, 2006

Ascol on Dishonest Calvinists

Tom Ascol (Founders Ministries) wrote today an excellent post entitled "Dishonest Calvinists (?) and the Call for Integrity". It just so happens that we were addressing the same thing on the same day. I commented on this post (as you will see in the comments section). Here are a few quotes I thought were great:

While granting the fact that there are, no doubt, exceptions, in the great majority of cases that I know about where Calvinistic pastors have encountered turmoil in their efforts to preach and teach God's Word, it was not because of Calvinism. It was because of biblical Christianity. Calvinism tends to be the tail on which the donkey of controversy is pinned, but the real culprit is the erosion of real biblical Christianity that has occurred over the last generation or more in many of our churches.
And another one:
The sad reality is that most Southern Baptist churches do not have much ability to discuss theological issues, even with their pastoral candidates.
One more:
Furthermore, these kinds of criticisms expose the completely untenable position in which some Southern Baptist leaders place their Calvinistic brethren in the SBC. If we openly describe ourselves as Calvinists, we are accused of "wearing our Calvinism on our sleeves" and are admonished to stop doing this. If we speak in terms of wanting to recover biblical Christianity or the theological vision of the founders of the SBC we are accused of being deceitful and dishonest. When the same men level both criticisms it is a sure indicator that something more is going on than a quest for integrity and it causes their critiques to ring hollow.

10 Comments:

Blogger Broadstone said...

Don Whitney has a great list of questions on his website called "Questions for a Prospective Pastor". Question #26 is very instructive to this conversation: "How does the Bible relate the sovereignty of God to salvation?"

Read it here at: http://www.spiritualdisciplines.org/quest.html

The problem is not so much with just the pastor or just the church. Many pastors are just eager to get into a church and whether they calvinists or posttrib they might be more than willing to let the interview process go smoothly.

And search commitees are too naively eager to hire someone to fill their pulpit for fear of dwindling attendance.

5/31/2006 06:01:00 PM

 
Blogger Timmy said...

That's Kelly for that link. Whitney puts out some great stuff.

I think a real issue is that pastor search committees don't make theology a major issue when considering a pastor. Most have never heard of Calvinism, and if they have, it is usually from someone who is knocking it.

I think you are correct in that many search committees are under the gun to find a pastor as quick as they can. This too contributes to a short-circuit approach towards finding a pastors. Mind you that the question Whitney poses here is number 26! How many search committees I wonder probe that far!

5/31/2006 06:32:00 PM

 
Blogger John Calvin RIP said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

5/31/2006 09:14:00 PM

 
Blogger John Calvin RIP said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

5/31/2006 09:17:00 PM

 
Blogger Timmy said...

To those who read my blog,

At this point, I am not going to change my comment policy because I believe you are mature enough not to deal with trollers and drive-by commentors. John Calvin RIP today is traveling the blogosphere in order to upset people and instigate inflammatory comments. If in the future, he or anyone else of the same mold, writes a comment you know is intended to inflame and not inform, please ignore it. Furthermore, this person (like Charles and Bob Ross) will give us an opportunity to exhibit a graceful response and the love of Christ to those who wish to slander and stir up anger. Please take note. If what he (or others) says is hurtful or not dealing with the topic, I will of course delete it. Just thought I'd let you know.

Thank you.

5/31/2006 10:06:00 PM

 
Blogger Byroniac said...

Timmy:

I'm jealous. John Calvin RIP didn't visit my blog. Or at least, he didn't comment on it. Perhaps this is because my blog is much more computer-oriented than theological at the moment? (I've added some religious links I thought to be good). Your blog looks very interesting, btw! (I am just beginning to learn how to blog...oh well, better REALLY LATE than never I guess).

6/01/2006 01:26:00 AM

 
Blogger Timmy said...

Byroniac,

Thanks for swinging by. No need to be jealous . . .

6/01/2006 03:45:00 AM

 
Blogger Broadstone said...

I left this comment on the Ascol's 131+ comments dealing with the same issue...but thought you might interact with it here as well.

"Perhaps we should start thinking in terms of planting new reformed SBC churches where the gospel is not preached and in places in North America where the pagans are.

Perhaps the problem is that we are staying in the same "gospel ghetto" and not trusting God as we start new churches in new places.

Perhaps Mark Driscoll made the most amazing discovery in that he went straight to the land of the godless and started preaching truth.

Perhaps part of changing the face of the SBC is being able to walk away from the ruined cities and begin building new ones.

Perhaps..."

I think this idea of feeling compelled to stay within the structures of interviewing for Pastorates needs to be challenged to a certain degree. I don't mean never interviewing. There are certainly some churches worth interviewing for. Are we Pastors guilty of trying to interview for the highest paid churches and therefore creating situations where we might compromise? Are we under the gun financially to get the bills paid and need to get into a church somewhere anywhere?
Are trusting God to lead us? Are we taking faith-filled risks and going where the gospel is not being heard? Are we still deep down hoping that we might be the next reformed pastor with cult of personality following and a certain celebrity status?

I am very convinced that a lot of the reform/missionary zeal/personal holiness we dream of (I dream of) will not happen if we follow the same well worn grooves.

One disclaimer, the mention of Driscoll is by no means a total endorsement. I'm not always happy with the guy but he is reformed and is probably the most transparent in dealing with the tension of not giving a rip and giving a rip about what people say about him. Tim Keller might be another version of Reformissionary in the land of pagans.

And, finally, other than giving us lots to talk about on our blogs, what real difference is the next president of the SBC going to make? Adrian Rogers led the conservative charge. What's next? We're here...now what? What expectations should we really have?

I am seeing a trend of discussing Calvinism in the SBC and its threat or not so threat. And the other trend is Critiquing the next President. To what end?

I guess I better stop here...I think I feel a new blog post forming.

By the way, I am in Louiville now with my family. I'll take you up on the lunch offer.

graceandpeace,

Kelly B

6/02/2006 11:32:00 PM

 
Blogger Timmy said...

Kelly,

Sorry it has taken me so long to get back with you!

On all the "perhaps" ideas, I agree in part. I am all about church planting as I believe that is where my calling most lies, but I am also committed to church reformation. If we plant SBC church #16 within a five mile radius of one another, what point are we making? Why don't we take on of these churches that is dead or dying and commit ourselves to seeing it change for the glory of God? We should definitely start new churches in new places, and I think Driscoll is a great example of how it can be done in one of the most difficult places in the U.S., but I think this could be a both/and not either/or deal.

Also, I think you asked some good, probing questions, but to say that some reformed ministers are going to churches for the cult of personality, celebrity status, or being paid better is a stretch. For one, most of the reformed ministers are not seeking larger churches and don't build their ministry on pragmatism and engineered church growth tactics from the marketplace of secular America. Second, and with the same though, I see that many reformed ministers who are usually more educated and more qualified for positions of larger churches are content to pastor in the neglected churches in more rural areas because they are not bound to think that to be "successful" means leading the association in baptizing unregenerate church members again and again.

An example I would like to mention is my Greek prof and mentor. He just completed his phD and his dissertation will be published soon. He is also writing two other book projects with Dr. Schreiner (his advisor) and some other profs. He was trained at TBI and probably one of the most gifted, intelligent men I have ever met in my life. By all standards, he should be and could be pastoring any large megachurch in the US. Instead, right now he works third shift with me at UPS and pastors a church 1 1/2 hours away from his home to a congregation less than 100 (which he has been doing now for three years). When I think of him and his passion to invest in a local body where most ministers would never go, I am greatly encouraged and think that this ministry in obscurity is a far cry from seeking a church where there is a cult of personality or higher paying positions (he holds at least three jobs I know to support his family).

While Driscoll and Keller are somewhat new to me (heard of them less than six months), I see that these men are doing some great things. SBC ministers would do well to learn from their example. I look forward to hearing from them at this year's DG Conference in Minneapolis.

Finally, concerning the SBC presidency, I don't think the position really affects much in the regulative life of SBC churches other than this reality: it makes a statement about who we are, why we do what we do, and how we do it. In other words, the process of nominating a president, his qualifications (assumed or expected), and the political system and nature of the convention is something to be concerned about. If you will notice, I have not addressed the job description of the president, but rather the process of his nomination and the supposed qualifications for him being nominated. Also, the power politics and inner circle domination is a real issue that I think this year will be changed.

Blogs and blogging is the free and democratic voice of the little man in the SBC. Writing about these issues has elevated matters of importance to SBCers who otherwise would never be heard in the public square or closed door meetings of SBC leaders. . . . And they are reading us and hearing what we are saying. That encourages me. :)

Glad you are in L-ville. Unfortunately, I will be out for the next week or so. I have a J-term all week next week and am preaching the next two Sundays. However, I will try to email you soon and plan lunch. I look foward to meeting you and hanging out a bit!

6/04/2006 05:37:00 AM

 
Blogger Broadstone said...

Tim,

I agree with your both/and assessment. We need to be reforming and enlivening those churches which are stagnant theologically and in terms of personal holiness and devotion to God's glory. And, we need to find places in America, and the world, where the gospel is not preached.

My challenge was simply that we need to commit to walking away from lucrative pastorates if the prospects of reform and growth are not really there. Which demands two things, one, wise judgement in being able to assess a churches potential for growth and reform and thus not foolishing going into the colliseum to be the lions lunch, and two, having character enough not to be enamored by a comfortable salary as long we preach comfortable sermons. I've personally, seen and experienced both. That is, personally becoming lunch for lions and watching another pastor become enamored by salary and the ease of comfortable sermons.

Nonetheless, I am very encouraged by your blog and the boys over at Strangebaptistfire. I am also encouraged to hear about the prof and coworker at UPS. That is an awesome story.

I look forward to meeting you and perhaps working with you. They have me listed as an air handler so maybe among the other 20000 people we'll run into each other. I'll also work the 12to4 sched.

Hope your classes go well. Persevere.

graceandpeace,
Kelly

6/05/2006 07:59:00 AM

 

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