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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, October 31, 2006

Here We Go Again

William F. “Bill” Harrell, pastor of Abilene Baptist Church in Martinez, is the new chairman of the SBC Executive Committee, the elected body of state convention representatives that develop policies and attend to Convention business between the annual sessions of the Southern Baptist Convention. Morris Chapman, the former Chairman of the committee had this to say of Harrell:

“ . . . He makes it a priority to know the issues and allow the facts to guide his decisions.”
Well, it looks like Mr. Harrell has gotten off on the wrong foot. In his first new article, Harrell argues that there are two “important issues to solve” in our Convention. The first is worship style (gasp), and the other is Calvinism. Here is his quote:
“Second,” Harrell continued, “we must deal with Calvinism. I have solid Christian friends, some of them pastors who are Calvinists, but I think they are wrong about the tenets of five point Calvinism. In my opinion too much of the New Testament must be ignored or radically interpreted to embrace the five points of Calvinism.” (emphasis mine)
This has to be one of the most misinformed statements I have ever heard coming from a leader in our Convention. While I want to give Mr. Harrell the benefit of the doubt, having someone in such a powerful position as the chairman of the most influential committee in the Southern Baptist Convention, there is no excuse or justification for such erroneous comments. In the article, the reporter was quick to know the size of the church’s weekly budget, the value of the church’s property, and their television ministry (as though these were important and prerequisites of being a chairman), but it says nothing about his knowledge of Baptist doctrine or church history. All Mr. Harrell needs to do is take a brief glance at our roots as a Convention and find that we have been Calvinistic from the beginning. The article continues:
Harrell further explained, “I think the problem of Calvinism in the SBC could be solved if we establish one ground rule. If a man wants to start a Calvinistic church, let him have at it. If a man wants to answer a call to a Calvinistic church he should have the freedom to do that, but that man should not answer a call to a church that is not Calvinistic, neglect to tell them his leanings, and then surreptitiously lead them to become a Calvinistic church. That is not to suggest that all of our Calvinistic friends do that, but when it is done it is divisive and hurtful.
“The problem of Calvinism?” It is a problem to those who don’t want Calvinism in our Convention. Notice how the anti-Reformed are framing the public discussion of the doctrines of grace. Jerry Vines calls Calvinism a “Baptist battle” and here we see it a “problem.” They see it either as a fight or a problem to fix, but either way, if you are Southern Baptist and a Calvinist, you are lampooned and stigmatized as though we should be walking around the convention floor with out scarlet “C” on our chests. The SBC is cycling through new leaders, and one would hope that for once, one of these men appointed to lead our Convention will get it right or at least be fair in their dealings with their Reformed brothers. If what Morris Chapman said of Mr. Harrell is true, then he should not be stating his opinions, but "make it a priority to know the issues and allow the facts to guide his decision." I don’t know where Mr. Harrell gets his idea that “five-point Calvinists” either ignore or radically interpret the New Testament, but mark it down: he did not get it from the New Testament or Baptist history.


Blogger Matt Privett said...


Yet another in the long line of Southern Baptist leaders who frame the debate over Calvinism by misrepresenting the facts and history. Thank you for bringing this one to our attention.

It is regrettable that this statement would come from the chairman of the EC, but not surprising. One has to wonder, based on some of his statement, what kind of resolutions regarding Calvinism we might see presented at next year's convention.

10/31/2006 03:25:00 PM

Blogger Stephen Newell said...

Dude, a "scarlet C?" That is classic! We should get the Centuri0n to make t-shirts. Let me see if Paint.net can do the job.

10/31/2006 04:08:00 PM

Blogger Paul said...

It's always going to be like this in the SBC. I hope conversations like this point younger, reformed pastors to consider the future of their local church instead of the SBC. I think a potential problem of members in the past is all the weight they put on the SBC instead of their own church.

10/31/2006 05:23:00 PM

Blogger Timmy said...


What concerns me more than the chairman of the EC saying stuff like this but the silent treatment from other SBC leaders who won't speak to this issue and the gross misrepresentation that continues. On the contrary, little bloggers like me will get a slap on the wrist for shedding light on SBC leaders. They would be held unaccountable.

@ Stephen,

If you come up with a t-shirt like that, I will grow my beard out again so that I could look like a true Iranian Calvinist.

@ Paul,

Very good word man. Indeed, the future of the SBC will be in the strength of the local church and equipping ministers to rightly divide the word of truth and bring expository preaching back to the pulpit. It will also come through a renewed emphasis of teaching the whole counsel of the Word of God, an emphasis on regenerate church membership, and recovery of church discipline.

Of all the things wrong with the convention, I find it so ironic that the chairman highlights worship styles and Calvinism as the two biggest problems.

. . . at least he didn't say alcohol.

10/31/2006 05:39:00 PM

Blogger Alan Cross said...

Worship Style is political codespeak for "Charismatic" in my opinion. So, you have a burgeoning war on Charismatics and Calvinists. Hey, they both start with "C", along with


Maybe these guys just hate things that start with the letter "C"? Except Creedalism, that is.

10/31/2006 05:56:00 PM

Blogger David said...

As someone who is new to the blog world, I hope you don't mind my comment on this latest outburst from SBC leadership.

I stand amazed at the ever groaning behemoth that is the anti-calvinistic contingent of the SBC. I must admit that I was disappointed to learn only 10 percent of my SBC brothers admit to having Calvinistic leanings. I would like to believe that this number is fairly conservative and not truly reflective of reformist thought in the SBC - but that might be wishful thinking now.

The rhetoric that has been bandied about lately is such that you would think that war has been declared against this disease, this problem, this terrible thing we must battle, called Calvinism! How many young pastors will be intimidated into rethinking their doctrinal stands? How many will be pressured by congregations not acting out of spiritual concern but out of ignorance of the truth?

It is amazing to me how utterly frightened these people (SBC anti-Calvinists) are of what appears to be only a small minority. To listen to the leaders speak, you would think this was a do or die battle with an enemy great in size. I guess David proved that size doesn't count for all when you carry a slingshot and 5 Solas, I mean 5 stones with you.

I guess I'm waiting to see how they blame the increase in plateued or dying churches and fewer baptisms on a ten percent minority. Surely we must somehow be to blame for this.

10/31/2006 06:32:00 PM

Blogger Timmy said...

Correction on my last comment:

"they *want* to be held unaccountable" not "would" - sorry.

@ Alan,

Yeah, it's kind of funny, but I was supposed to do a series here called "Tension in the Convention" in which all my topics started with the letter "c". They were Calvinism, Cooperation, Church Government, Confessionalism, Cronyism, and Criticism. There were a couple of others but I can't remember off the top of my head. I may end up doing it anyway. One I did not have, however, was Charismatics. That might have to be added.

Speaking of that, an interesting note on that subject. I found out that during the decade of the 70's, Broadman & Holman published only one book on the Holy Spirit the entire ten years! One book on the 3rd person in the Godhead. That was alarming for me to hear.

10/31/2006 07:02:00 PM

Blogger Timmy said...


First, let me welcome you to the blogosphere. I understand your concern brother. Many people think that this is not a real issue in our Convention, but I beg to differ. Aside from the many pastors who are being marginalized if not demonized for believing in *grace* of all things, there are also missionary candidates (I am finding this out) who are being critized for their Calvinistic answers and encouraged to change them in order to be appointed on the mission field. Just yesterday I had a conversation with one who was told that their answers were unacceptable because they weren't what the IMB wanted (i.e. they were too Calvinistic). They are now being told to change their statements to conform to the prescibed answers in the IMB.

So there you have it. Either you are consistent in your Calvinism and are told that you should not pastor or serve on the mission field, or you don't flaunt your scarlet "c" and get criticized for not being up front and vocal enough about it. You are darned if you do and darned if you don't.

Either way, you are right that Calvinism will most likely be the default answer to the problems in our convention such as drops in baptism and dying churches. Yet I don't see how that could be the case when less than 10% of the churches have Reformed pastors.

. . . but then again, Calvinism is the whipping boy around here.

10/31/2006 07:11:00 PM

Blogger GeneMBridges said...

Speaking of that, an interesting note on that subject. I found out that during the decade of the 70's, Broadman & Holman published only one book on the Holy Spirit the entire ten years! One book on the 3rd person in the Godhead. That was alarming for me to hear.

My young brother, it took the early church over 3 centuries to publish any really clear statements about Him...be thankful B/H got that book published. :D

10/31/2006 09:06:00 PM

Blogger Tom said...

Good words, Timmy. Thanks for turning on the lights.

10/31/2006 11:41:00 PM

Blogger Wayne Hatcher said...

David, you said, "How many young pastors will be intimidated into rethinking their doctrinal stands?" The sad truth is that if they hold these stands from educated conviction based on Scripture, they are most likely not to budge. Consequently many of the brightest and best, most gifted coming out of Southern Baptist seminaries will be driven to other denominations.

Brother Timmy, thanks for keeping us informed. If nothing else, it helps us pray more intelligently.

11/01/2006 01:59:00 AM

Blogger Strider said...

Well spotted Timmy! I am not a Calvinist- I don't follow John C I follow JC! But Calvinist have brought a tremendous amount of truth to the SBC. The doctrines of Grace and the emphasis on the Word are much needed amoung us and I thank Calvinist for bringing them into the public debate. The enemy is always seeking to divide. I urge you all not to let him. Our Father has a purpose for each of us and it is certainly NOT to form a unified choir that only sings 'Victory in Jesus'- even though I kinda like it. What is at stake is not the SBC- it is a human institution- what is at stake is the mission we are on. God will be worshipped amoung all peoples, this is a fact. What is less clear is if we will let God use us in this task or if we will be sidelined.
And be encouraged- most of my leaders and all of the most effective people I work with 'out here' in the IMB are Calvinist.

11/01/2006 06:14:00 AM

Blogger Stephen Newell said...

T-shirt is done. You may eat your hearts out here.

11/01/2006 06:36:00 AM

Blogger David said...

I really want to believe that many will stand by their scriptural convictions. A pastor must stand on the convictions that he has attained through scripture. Being in close proximity to Liberty University, I guess my thoughts run to impressionable minds that are seeking to study and tend to follow the teachings of charismatic professors, Deans, and Chancellor's rather than Christ's.

I agree wholeheartedly that many will possibly seek to affiliate with other denominations. I have at times wondered if there was a place for me in any SBC church. Especially in my home state of Virginia where anti-reformist rhetoric is a norm.

Today I know that there are many who hold the same beliefs in the SBC and this provides great encouragement to me. Thanks Wayne for your insight on this.

11/01/2006 08:35:00 AM

Blogger David said...

The charismatic statement I made was in reference to personality and delivery rather than to one's practice of worship.

I must be more careful before making statements that could be misconstrued. Forgive me for my ineptitude in attempting to alliterate. :)

11/01/2006 09:17:00 AM

Blogger Paul Burleson said...


New reader, but one that is grateful for young guys like you that stay on top of things. I've put you on "favorites" along with a ton of others, and will look forward to your posts.

I do think what Alan said has real weight to it. The style of worship we would call "free" is synonomous with "charismatic" in the minds of a lot of SBC pastors I meet as I travel in Ministry. I find they are often fearful of it as, what they believe to be at least, a precurser to tongues or other charismatic teachings.

I believe strong doctrinal teaching is the guard against anything one would consider heresy. But free praise and worship is the guard against dead traditionalism. I don't believe doctrine and free praise are mutually exclusive but comlementary. Enough from me. Thanks for your alert.

Paul Burleson

11/01/2006 10:14:00 AM

Blogger Steve Weaver said...

Thanks for the information! And, what's up with that hat?

11/01/2006 01:38:00 PM

Blogger Timmy said...

Mr. Burleson,

Welcome and thanks for the kind comments. One of the most encouraging things I have learned about this past year is Sovereign Grace Ministries. Before the T4G Conference, I knew very little about these guys, but since then, I have been reading up and following close to this ministry/organization. Their worship is very "charismatic" and free, but they are also intensely doctrinal and soundly Reformed. You can also find this kind of expressive and free form of worship in churches like Bethlehem Baptist in Minneapolis (where John Piper is pastor).

I remember year back at the Alabama State Pastor's Conference that Dr. Robert Smith, preaching prof at Beeson said that, in the OT, people rejected the Father; in the NT, people rejected the Son; and today people are rejecting the Holy Spirit.

In recent years, there have been excellent works on theology proper and Christology, and it may be due season for Southern Baptist scholars to write and help clarify a healthy and robust Pneumatology. I guess we'll have to see about that.

11/01/2006 01:49:00 PM

Blogger Timmy said...

I just saw Steve's comment. He is about 15 feet away in the same computer lab at school.

No, Steve it is not a turban.

11/01/2006 01:54:00 PM

Blogger Timmy said...


Thank you for the encouraging words, brother. You are right - whether you are Calvinist or not, you should be encouraged that there is a renewed emphasis on doctrine and sound preaching and most importantly exposition and (hopefully) proclamation of the full gospel of free grace. Thanks man.

So Stephen,

Do I get a complementary t-shirt?

Call me a beggar if you will.

11/01/2006 01:59:00 PM

Blogger Tim Cook said...

I just want to say one thing - I am as Arminian as a SB can be (maybe more, lol), but I love my Calvinist brothers and sisters. They have this awful habit of making me think about the Holy Word of God and read what it says, and I always come away marveling at the awesome mystery that is our God. I'll make you a deal: let's stand together against all this excluding and battling. I won't exclude you if you won't exclude me!

The thing I fear reading your blog and others is that you young calvinist guys will get yourself all worked up (with good reason), and then decide that you don't just want to be included; you want to make sure everyone else agrees with you and becomes a calvinist.

Anyway, all I am saying is this: let's all make sure the battle doesn't just swing the other way. Let's make peace in the body of Christ instead. Let's not run the tongue-speakers, calvinists, or anybody else out- let's just preach the gospel, worship God, and fellowship with one another. God Bless.

In Christ,
Tim Cook

11/01/2006 02:04:00 PM

Blogger centuri0n said...

I'm makin' t-shirts with a scarlet "C" on it, and I want you all to wear one next year to the SBC.

11/01/2006 02:16:00 PM

Blogger centuri0n said...

Stephen Newell:

You didn't e-mail that idea to me, so I'm not cutting you in.

Sorry, man.

11/01/2006 02:16:00 PM

Blogger Timmy said...

Tim C.,

Dittos. I don't know of an SBC Calvinist who is trying to running a single Arminian out of the Convention. I think I or we could argue that historically Southern Baptists is Calvinistic, but that is not to say that Arminians are not evangelical or orthodox. I share the gospel many a time with Arminian friends and enjoy their company. I especially enjoy hearing them pray (since they pray like a Calvinist). :)

The purpose of the BF&M was to be an umbrella where Southern Baptists could agree to cooperate. It is a theological framework that is loose enough to allow secondary and tertiary differences but tight enough to exclude those who compromise on first level, fundamental, and essential doctrines of our faith.

In other words, I think the attitude should NOT be, "Let's all just get along," but rather, "Let's come together under the authority of God's Word, the confessional nature of our cooperation, and a Christ-like love for one another that doesn't try to make each other fit our personal preferences (like worship styles for example) but appreciates the diversity and uniqueness within each other."

Or something like that.

11/01/2006 02:37:00 PM

Blogger Timmy said...


Between the homeboy shirts, the scarlet "C", and rez. 5, I should have at least one shirt per day of the week.

If Mr. Harrell and the Executive Committee wants uniformity, then let's all get our scarlet "C's" and wear them at the Convention. It would be a good statement I think.

11/01/2006 02:40:00 PM

Blogger centuri0n said...


Can you imagine 100 starry-eyed Calvinists at the SBC wearing those and pleading that they not be treated worse than unbelivers and non-attenders?

It's be like the last scene from "V for Vendetta" -- as if any self-respecting SBCer would see such a thing.

11/01/2006 03:13:00 PM

Blogger centuri0n said...

btw, I love if when famous bloggers call me "cent". It's like "everyody knows who that is."


11/01/2006 03:14:00 PM

Blogger Stephen Newell said...




I suppose I could spring for one. Give me a couple of weeks to get paid, first. ;-)

Anyway, go see Cent's design. I like his a lot better, though I'm a bit partial to my "bloody C" design. I don't know, I'm such a horror movie guy. It does kinda make sense, since us Calvinists and "almost-Calvinists" are supposed to be big bad monsters draining the life out of the SBC.

11/01/2006 03:26:00 PM

Blogger Timmy said...


You know why your design was defeated by Centuri0n's don't you? It's because you are not a seven-point Calvinist.

Seriously, I like the Gothic "C" better and remind me of the original scarlet letter "A" as well.

My follow-up post kicks around the idea of a scarlet "C" t-shirt contest. Oh well, at least we got us a uniform jersey.

11/01/2006 03:39:00 PM

Blogger Timmy said...

Cent is my homeboy

11/01/2006 03:40:00 PM

Blogger Matt Privett said...

It is utterly frustrating that SBC leaders we know are Calvinistic remain silent when things like this are said. The SBC heavyweights who are anti-Calvinistic show no hesitation to publicly speak out against Reformed soteriology and its adherents. I, for one, would appreciate any SBC heavyweight on the "Calvinistic side" speaking out and defending the gospel against these types of statements. To remain silent is to leave the impression that all of the real leaders of the Convention stand united against five-point Calvinism, and that's just not true.

If the leaders on "our side" would speak out, perhaps then we could have real, thorough, open debate on this issue in the SBC. I just don't see it happening any time soon. It will remain a battle for fringe pastors and bloggers.

11/01/2006 04:48:00 PM

Blogger Timmy said...


Indeed this is troubling. It is also the $64,000 question. There will come a time where fidelity to the Scriptures trumps political allegiances, but I am sad to see that that day hasn't happened yet. And the drumbeat will march on in the SBC. The leaders have been doing this for years now, and so long as no one dares say anything, everyone will think this is acceptable.

In avoiding a situation, sometimes the only alternative to being inconsistent is being silent - but then again, I don't know which one is worse.

11/01/2006 05:58:00 PM

Blogger george said...

"In the article, the reporter was quick to know the size of the church’s weekly budget, the value of the church’s property, and their television ministry (as though these were important and prerequisites of being a chairman), but it says nothing about his knowledge of Baptist doctrine or church history."

Great quote. In the Founders book they mention that those in high positions in the church are being chosen because of the 3 B's...Buildings, Budgets and Baptisms. how tragic!

11/01/2006 06:37:00 PM

Blogger Timmy said...


Yep. When reporters include this information, you must ask yourself why their selection of information included such stuff as budget, baptisms, and buildings. It is obvious that we are supposed to be impressed by this information or it wouldn't be included.

Imagine me going up to another pastor who I meet for the first time and say, "Hey Richard, my name is Dr. Timmy Brister and I pastor a 5,000 member church who just happens to have an annual of budget $3.5 million and also is currently undergoing our 5th building project. Oh and did I tell you that I baptized 150 people last week too?"

11/02/2006 12:04:00 PM


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