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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.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Why I Am a Part of Strange BaptistFire

Several of you who have been reading P&P for some time know that I have written frequently about the shenanigans of BaptistFire. After the recent articles I wrote concerning BaptistFire, Nathan White and I began talking about coming up with a formal way to address this website. After consideration and a great deal of work by Nathan (who is the main architect of this deal), Strange BaptistFire was birthed (there were a series of much needed affirmation from great men of God we respect, and I am thankful for their wisdom and advice as well).

Many of you know the contributors at SBF, but I would like to mention them nonetheless:

After checking out the interest after the first day, I must say that I am excited and intimidated at the same time. We had over 2,300 hits the first day which were more than the first two months here at P&P! But more than that, after reading the comments, I realized that the desire for the vindication of biblical truth in light of the reckless and unabashed rhetoric from the pulpits in the SBC to the website like BaptistFire is greater than ever imagined. Just reflecting back at the T4G Conference and realizing that over half of the 3,000 in attendance were under the age of 40 would tell you that this generation is hungry for the truth and ready to defend the gospel.

I have been thinking over the past couple of days about what exciting I could offer to the SBF website. Of course, I will write about several things being said on their website, but there are two other areas of which I have particular interest. The first is addressing and appealing to those visiting SBF who either is uniformed, undecided, or even Arminian in their beliefs. As a student, I have grown to learn and love biblical truth, and especially the doctrines of grace. While there are many who will have the theological acumen of a seminary professor, there will be others, no doubt, who will hear about Reformed theology for the first time—that is, hear it from those who believe it rather than those denouncing it. Therefore, I will try to open my life and studies in hopes that it will aid and assist others in going deeper in their theological pursuit for the doxological purpose of treasuring God in his passion for His glory.

Secondly, I want to write about the necessity to not only preach the gospel and demonstrate it in our lives, but also defend it as well. And it is in the how of the defense that is important to me. I realize that at times in the past I have not been a good example of this, that is, to give a reason for the hope that is within me with meekness and fear (or gentleness and respect), or as Paul told Timothy to “be patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those in opposition” (2 Timothy 2:25). I also realize that there will those who think that simply because you disagree you are arrogant, and if you desire to be precise in your theology you are an elitist. To such folks there is little to say. However, I do believe that there is a legitimate critique of those in the Reformed camp who have wielded the sword of Scripture in a contentious and quarrelsome way so as to eclipse the beauty and splendor of God’s grace for an attitude and approach less becoming and disposition less appealing to such grace.

I would like to share with you some of what has already been said by those supporting SBF. First, let me share a quote from Tom Ascol:

For years the anonymous publishers of the website, baptistfire.com have hidden in the shadows and spewed forth venom, lies, distortions and half-truths against people, churches and organizations who do not espouse their particular brand of Fundamentalism. They especially hate historic Southern Baptist theology, or the doctrines of grace. Sadly, some naive souls have been duped into believing their lies and have used their misrepresentations to attack church members and leaders who believe the doctrines of grace. Many churches and individuals have been wounded by the cowardly misinformation campaign of baptistfire. Today a new blog has launched for the purpose of helping to set straight the distortions and falsehoods of the anonymous author(s) behind that internet National Inquirer. Strange Baptist Fire is now available to tell "the rest of the story." Following the wisdom of Proverbs 26:5 several men (who, unlike the men/women behind baptistfire, have openly identified themselves) have taken up the challenge to address issues of Baptist theology and history with honesty and integrity to set the record straight.

Tom is no stranger of BaptistFire as he has written several times as well concerning their tactics. Speaking of tactics, being anonymous is one of their greatest, to which James White said the following:

I suppose, in some very rare instances, there is a reason for men to be anonymous in their writing. I suppose if a fatwah was proclaimed upon someone so that for the safety of one's family one had to remain anonymous, that would be perfectly acceptable. But in the vast majority of instances, there is only one reason for anonymity when writing upon theological subjects: refusal to be held accountable for what one says. Whoever is behind BaptistFire.com chooses to present the most horrifically one-sided materials. It is not that they do not know there is another side. They just refuse to acknowledge it or deal with that it says. This makes for "easy" theology: by remaining anonymous and refusing to do the work required of a sound theologian, you can say what you want and ignore its utter decimation in the marketplace of ideas. Who cares if the other side shreds your arguments with regularity? You just have to live on the "margin" of folks who either 1) do not know how to find out what the other side is saying, or 2) have such a strong desire to continue believing what you are teaching that they will join you in willfully ignoring the refutation of their own beliefs. And there is an amazingly large audience to be had under those two heads. Refusing to hide behind the cloak of anonymity requires one to be held accountable for what you say and how you say it. If you engage in the use of double standards, that will be made clear through the examination of your known writings. But if you hide your identity, you can speak out of both sides of your mouth with impunity. There is no room for Christian cowardice in "speaking the truth in love" and even in addressing things which are difficult and divisive. No one is persecuting the folks at BaptistFire.com; they do not need to hide for the safety of their wives and kids. The only reasons they could possibly have would be 1) they know they cannot defend their positions and hence avoid all challenges by remaining unknown; 2) they could lose financially if their one-sided, often grossly erroneous, writings were exposed, or 3) they are double-minded and double-tongued in that they act/say one thing in "real life," but write/speak otherwise on their website. In any case, none of these constitute a meaningful defense for Christian anonymity in the promulgation of falsehoods, which is what BaptistFire.com is all about.

There have been several others who have written about BaptistFire, and I hope that the list would continue to grow. I imagine soon we will also begin to address sermons from SBC pastors as well, such as the most recent ones made by Dr. Bill Wilks. In all of this, there is the call for charity and clarity. In every generation, there is the need to contend for the faith once for all delivered to the saints, and this contending is requisite from both inside and outside the camp of evangelical Christianity. May the Lord grant us wisdom with discernment, boldness grounded in humility, truth laced with grace, conviction coupled with compassion, and a hunger for God’s glory matched with passion to see souls brought to the Savior’s feet.

To the praise of the glory of His grace,

Timmy Brister

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