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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

Trouble with PAGE: A Closer Examination of the Five Points of Frank Page - Total Inconsistency

If you have read P&P over the past couple of weeks, you know that I wrote at length about Dr. Ronnie Floyd and his nomination for the SBC presidency. To this point, I have not written much about Dr. Frank Page and his nomination. To be fair and because I think it is necessary, I am going to write a series of posts called “Trouble with PAGE – A Closer Examination of the Five Points of Frank Page.” While the title is a play on his book Trouble with TULIP: A Closer Examination of the Five Points of Calvinism, I am taking his statements seriously and want to point out five areas where I disagree with him. All quotes or excerpts come from interviews and his book. Today’s post deals with the first point – total inconsistency.

I. Total Inconsistency

Frank Page, in the various interviews he has participated in, has shown himself inconsistent in his positions on leadership and participation. Let me explain.

In an interview with Tad Thompson, Page said the following working with Calvinists:

I have also stated publicly that I believe that the Southern Baptist Convention is big enough for all conservative Christians who have a kind spirit and an evangelistic heart, as well as a deep belief in the integrity of God’s Word. I have attempted to be kind to all groups. As I have said in another interview, I have Calvinists within my church with whom I work well. One of my dearest friends in this state is a five-point Calvinist. I can work with almost anyone if they have a sweet spirit, an evangelistic heart, and a commitment to the integrity of God’s Word.

Page has stated that his is a “big tenter” and that he has been kind to all groups. Now let’s look at two quotes he made about Calvinism, one from a Baptist Press interview, and the other from his book Trouble With Tulip: A Closer Examination of the Five Points of Calvinism:

BP Article:

“We must have honesty about this issue. There are churches splitting across the convention because pastors are coming in quietly trying to teach Calvinism or Reformed theology without telling the pastor search committees where they stand. The vast majority of Southern Baptist churches are not Calvinistic in their theology and it’s causing some serious controversy.”

Book:

"There are many persons belonging to churches that officially believe 'five point' Calvinism. Many of them express surprise when they are told what their church truly believes. I would like to challenge all who truly believe in five point Calvinism to stop being closet Calvinists! If you truly believe these doctrines, then let others know about it. They need to know what you believe." (P. 42)

These two statements are unfair and unkind because he has not been faithful to the truth nor has he been consistent with his position of disclosure of potential pastors. First, the truth is that there are a great number of churches that are Calvinistic in their theology, and the controversy comes from unsubstantiated statements he and others have been making. It appears that he might have been a faithful reader of BaptistFire and their infamous “Crept in Unawares” article. In one breath he says that he has a five-point Calvinist on staff in his church, and the next breath he argues that such Calvinists are splitting churches and causing serious controversy. Moreover, he is calling for honesty from “closet Calvinists” and for integrity through disclosure. This admonition must cut both ways. If we are going to call for disclosure, then let’s expect that from all pastors with all their theological and doctrinal positions. Let’s put all the biblical support these positions, the Baptist confessions, and Baptist history on the table. When the biblical, historical, and theological arguments are held, these search committees I believe would much rather have a Calvinistic pastor than the alternative.

Do you want a pastor who does not believe God is sovereign in salvation? Who does not believe in a Trinitarian salvation? Who espouses freewill theism unsupported in Scripture? Who practices a functional belief in decisional regeneration where conversion is self-determined, and that accomplished by man? Who does not take into account the whole counsel of God’s Word and skips over passages such as Ephesians 1, Romans 9, and John 6?

Frank Page has exemplified total inconsistency in his treatment of Calvinists in the SBC. He is said to work with any who have a kind spirit and evangelistic heart. I agree wholeheartedly. But he has not been very kind to Calvinists. Furthermore, such attributes should be consistent not only with Calvinists but any Christian for that matter, and I don’t know of any Calvinist who does not desire to have a kind spirit or exhibit a life where the gospel is exhibited in its proclamation and demonstration. My appeal is for those in the SBC who are attempting to remove pastors who believe in Reformed theology to be consistent and kind with your critique. The argument for integrity and disclosure is hypocritical to those who trumpet such a call but refuse to disclose themselves. And this includes Mr. Frank Page. If the SBC is big enough for all conservative Christians with a "kind spirit, evangelistic heart, and deep belief in the integrity of God's Word," then it is not necessary to write such a polemical, divisive book and vacillate on cooperation with those with whom you disagree.

3 Comments:

Blogger Alex F said...

I hear what you're saying, Timmy. But let's be careful here. It may well be the case that Page has modified his position and his stance on these issues since he published his book a few years ago. (Well, not on these issues but at least in his approach to those who are Reformed... you know what I mean).

5/31/2006 10:01:00 PM

 
Blogger Timmy said...

I have heard that Page has modified or mollified his position on Calvinism, but at this point he has made no public statement verifying such. Contrariwise, he has quoted himself twice from his book in two separate interviews (one with Satan limiting atonement, and two, on "closet Calvinists"). At this point, it looks like he has his talking points from his book and not distancing himself from it. I think the fact that he has not done so when he has had several opportunities says something - don't you think?

5/31/2006 10:10:00 PM

 
Blogger Alex F said...

You may be right. I don't keep up with these things as much as you do, so I'll defer to you on that.

6/01/2006 04:30:00 PM

 

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