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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.

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.

Just One Reason Why I Support the Cooperative Program

I have an older email account that I seldomly check, but many of my friends still email me there, so I have decided to keep it in order to keep in touch with them. One of them is a good friend of mine and IMB missionary serving in a militantly Muslim country. Let me share with you a part of his most recent email which he sent. This is just one reason why I believe in supporting the Cooperative Program: Dated Wednesday, May 10, 2006:

Hi, About two weeks ago I mentioned to everyone that I would be taking a group of four visiting Americans to an isolated place in our area. This place is a smaller island, with about ten thousand people. The island has no power, and had never had anyone present the gospel to them before. Thank you so much for your prayers. Here are some things you might want to know. While there, we distributed about 100 new testaments, as well as Jesus Film on cassette (some people have a few battery operated things) and other evangelistic materials. I figure that about ten percent of the people received some type of written or oral witness. If you count by the number of homes, then nearly everyone had some type of impact. On the way in someone stole a few of our cassettes. They run a generator at night in the market area for a few hours. We heard the Jesus film in the market for the next two days. The first day we were in an older man's home, where we shared the gospel. He didn't agree to follow Christ, but I heard him talking the next day to some men about what we said. "Yesterday, those men came to my house and asked me if I thought I would be in heaven when I die. I told them I didn't know. Then, they told me that if I were to believe in Isa (Jesus), I would go to heaven." When we were leaving I heard him again telling some others about it.
He goes on to ask for prayer concerning several matters, not the least of which is their safety and boldness for those who will follow up on this work. This dear friend mine is graciously supported by the giving of SBCers who believe in the work he is doing in taking the gospel of Jesus to people who have never heard. What church, even mega-church has a sustained impact among the unreached peoples like the IMB has through our cooperation? Where would these "visiting Americans" go if there was not a missionary already there doing the groundwork? Short-term mission trips exist only because there are long-term missionaries welcoming them to the work they have long been laboring in. It is not either/or but both/and. Our missionaries need our encouragement, prayer, and support through serving with them. Moreover, we need to preeminently support our brothers and sisters who have left houses, families, and countries for the sake of Jesus and His gospel. And when CP giving goes down because churches think that cooperation doesn't matter and that they can do missions on their own, they will soon find out that the missionaries they failed to support will not be there to greet them in the airport.

Addressing Omnibenevolence Series

Since I wrote my last post "Addressing 'Omnibenevolence'", I have been able to doing a little homework on the subject. Because of the vagueness of the doctrine and the fact that it is being used as the central issue of a thesis in a future debate, I thought I'd throw some ideas out there for discussion. The series posts will have the same title (Addressing Omnibenevolence) but a different Subtitle (Part One: __________). Furthermore, some of the things I will post will simply be excerpts of scholars or other theologians and may not reflect my particular position. Some of the posts will include personal commentary and analysis, while others will not. The point of me posting this is to encourage all of us to think biblically and critically about omnibenevolence and be engaged in its application today. Omnibenevolence, as far as I can tell, has not been given much treatment, so the potential discussion and comments could be formative as it is certain that with such camps as Open Theism and Universalism using the term, it will not be going away anytime soon. So please consider joining me as I seek to have interact with this idea of "omnibenevolence" and what it means to us today. As far as what to expect, I will post excerpts from all camps and all sides of the issue. I will also probably ask probing questions, address certain tensions, and include doctrinal issues that are directly related to omnibenevolence. I will seek to be fair to present each camp as they would want their position to be stated (as if they were stating it themselves), but I will at times break away to point out where I disagree. Anyway, those are my thoughts for now. At this point, I think the series could be at least 10-15 posts, and I will include trackbacks to the previous posts as the series develops. Hope to see you around. :)

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Landmarkism and the SBC

Gene Bridges, renowned blogger of Triablogue and contributor of Strange BaptistFire, has recently started a blog called A Southern Baptist History Primer in which he has posted the chapters to his recent work called "A Condensed History of Landmarkism in the Southern Baptist Convention with Particular Reference to Baptism and the International Mission Board in the Present Day" (nominated by P&P for the best title of the year). Here are the sections in order: Part One: Introduction Part Two: Landmark Teachings Part Three: The Landscape Before Landmarkism Part Four (a): The Rise of Landmarkism Part Four (b): John L. Dagg on Landmarkism, Baptism, Christian Ministers, &tc. Part Four (c): P.H. Mell and B.H. Carroll - Principled Dissent in the SBC; the Decline of Landmarkism's Formal Reign Part Five: The Present Day Gene has 1,000 printed out already, but 900 of them have already been designated for key leaders in the SBC. He mentioned that the other 100 will be given away in Greensboro, probably at the Founders Breakfast. If you would like a copy for yourself, Gene has asked that you email him with that request. You can find his email in his profile. Important issues such as landmarkism, principled dissent, hypercalvinism, and baptism. Gene has succinctly dealt with some of the most serious issues in the SBC today, and it would be well worth your time to read how this present-day situation in the SBC relates to issues in the past.

ABP Answers "Neo-Calvinist" Usage

Kevin Hash contacted the writer of ABP article about Mark Dever concerning the usage of the term "neo-Calvinist." Here is what the writer said (the comment can be found here).

I appreciate your inquiry. I thought seriously about using that term before I employed it in my story, but I think it's descriptive because of the nature of many of the SBC's new Calvinists. Those who hold to five-point Calvinism in the SBC are often people who have grown up in SBC churches with a more modified Calvinist/Arminian-friendly (for lack of a more succinct term for that) kind of belief regarding soteriology, but claim to be reclaiming a belief that was held to by many more Southern Baptists historically. Their rhetoric often reflects the belief that they are reclaiming something that had been largely lost in Southern Baptist life until recent decades (e.g., the use of the term "Founders" in the name of the largest fellowship of SBC Calvinists). In order for readers to understand a little better that this was a renewal or reclamation movement in the eyes of its advocates, I used the prefix "neo" before "Calvinists" in one reference.
So what do you think? Neo-Calvinist or retro-Calvinist?

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Quick Hits for May 27, 2006

* Dr. Ronnie Floyd, in another self-promotional, announces that Dr. Johnny Hunt has issued another press release for endorsement purposes. Man, where have I heard this before? Patterson, Akin, Traylor, Mohler, Hunt, et al. How can this guy lose? * Joe Carter, renowned blogger, has taken the Godblogdom to a Royal Rumble. This is one time I am glad that I am a lover and not a fighter. * Bobby Welch, outgoing president of the SBC and pastor of FBC Daytona Beach, announces his retirement. * The Associated Baptist Press does an update to their article on Dever's upcoming nomination for the 1st VP of the SBC. Unfortunately, the update does not tell us what a "neo-Calvinist" is. * Wade Burleson mentioned on his blog that he is considering whether or not to reveal the details about the trustee's violations by removing him from meetings. Be sure to check out his blog next week. * The Executive Committee of the SBC, under the leadership of Dr. Morris Chapman, recently amended their recommendation that SBC officers' churches give at least 10% to the Cooperative Program. Chapman mentioned that he didn't want it to be a "litmus test" for candidates. Quote: "I voted for the $87 billion before I voted against it." - John Kerry * David Wayne (Jollyblogger) responded to the recent comments on Tim Challies' review of Mark Driscoll's book Confessions of a Reformission Rev. His post, called "Throwing Mark Driscoll Under the Bus," well, speaks for itself. Challies responded, and Wayne apologies thereafter. * Tom Ascol, upon request by a comment he received earlier, wrote an excellent piece this week called "1 Corinthians 9:19-23, Paul on Accomodation." A must read. * Phil Ryken has written a powerful and sobering prayer of repentance which I believe is one that we should meditate and pray continually. May God find us with a broken and contrite heart over our sin. * Scot McKnight answers the question, "What Would I Do Differently?" Answer: Read the best writers. * CT has announced their 2006 Book of the Year Awards for various categories. * Lig Duncan has compiled some great quotes on the gospel. Be sure to check them out (1, 2, 3, 4). * Finally, New Attitude is holding their conference this weekend in lovely Louisville. The line-up is quite impressive. You can stay updated on their new blog. Obviously, there is a lot going on these days. I will try to keep you up to date on most of the action. 'Till then, have a great weekend!

Friday, May 26, 2006

Robertson Is Here to Pump You Up!

Yesterday, I asked the question, "Why?" and well, it looks like a lot of other people have been asking the same question. I decided to do a little investigating to see if anyone caught Pat Robertson doing his leg press work out, and well I came up with more than that! Below are a series of photos of Robertson leg pressing, flexing, promoting his shake at a body building contest, and showing us just how easy and age-defying his shake really is. These photos were hard to come by, but the P&P paparazzi has been hot on the case. Here's what we found . . .

Pat Robertson warming up on the leg press machine . . .
Pat Robertson promoting shake at body building contest . . .
Pat Robertson flexing his legs . . . (Hey Pat, how about a little modesty, eh?)
Pat Robertson making it look easy . . . And now for a quote which was mentioned both at JT and CBS Sportsline:
"That would mean a 76-year-old man broke the all-time Florida State University leg press record by 665 pounds over Dan Kendra. 665 pounds. Further, when he set the record, they had to modify the leg press machine to fit 1,335 pounds of weight. Plus, Kendra's capillaries in his eyes burst. Burst. Where in the world did Robertson even find a machine that could hold 2,000 pounds at one time? And how does he still have vision?"

POTW :: 05.26.06 :: Latinese

{Click to enlarge}
It goes without saying that when you see this picture, you immediately come to the conclusion that I have not taken many pictures lately. Well, actually I have, but for special venues (e.g. graduations, parties, etc.). Last night, while shopping for some former students of mine who recently graduated from high school (congrats Lee, Kyle, Whitney, and Tamra!), there was a huge storm which passed through Louisville. Ergo (Latinese), we decided to hang out at B&N, and I stumbled across this minidictionary of Latin. If you are like me, you come across a bunch of Latin phrases in books and articles and you think to yourself, "What the heck are they saying?" So I broke down and spent $6.95 to try to make myself look smart. One of these days I am going to bust out some Latin, and you will think I know what I am talking about (well, maybe). Seriously, you Latin speaking folks, lighten up on us unilingual folks (is unilingual a word?). We butchur English enuf as it is, so kut us some slak, okay?
Here's the exif data for the photogs: Camera: Canon 20D Lens: 28-135mm IS USM Focal Length: 28mm Tv: 1/4 sec Av: f/7.1 ISO: 800 WB: Tungsten Steve McCoy, Joe Thorn, Joe Kennedy and Alex Forrest also post pics on Friday. I encourage you to check out their photography. For those interested in poetry, check out ColossiansThreeSixteen. Also, Will Turner has added some history to the Friday menu.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Ken Lay, Public Relations, and God

Earlier this afternoon, I listened to Ken Lay's response to being found guilty in the court of law. While I don't have his words down verbatim, he said some things which trouble me, including the insertion of Christianity and God's providence. He made statements about his Christian family, about how "God works all things out to those who love the Lord," and how "God is in control." Shepherd Smith of FoxNews quickly responded by saying, "Thou shalt not steal." It appears that the best PR move is to mention Christianity along with some proof texts to invoke sympathy or appeal to innocence. I simply wish that those who call ourselves Christians would not pull the "Christianity card" out when we are in trouble in an attempt to vindicate ourselves of any wrongdoing. If Lay is a Christian, I think he would be serve himself, the Lord, and the Christian community by doing what is right in the sight of the Lord and not use a press conference as a pulpit. How many times when someone is found guilty or some wrongdoing is done that people somehow wind up bringing up Jesus, the pomo phrase "judge not lest you be judged," and add some proof texts?

Why?

Why? God spare us from such embarrassments.

Mark Dever Confirms Veep Nomination

Yesterday the Associated Baptist Press reported that Mark Dever, "a neo-Calvinist" (what is that?) may face Keith Fordham in the race for 1st VP of the SBC. According to the ABP reporter, Dever will allow himself to be nominated. He turned down the opportunity to be nominated for president for a number of reasons, not the least of which was the time commitment. It's no secret that Dever is a key leader in the SBC and larger evangelical world. Having him in a leadership role in the SBC would be a healthy change, especially since he is not in the inner circle. One particular note of interest is the strikingly different views of evangelism and conversion these two men hold. To read about Fordham's view, go here, and for Dever's view of extending invitations, consider the following quotations in his book The Deliberate Church. This excerpt is from the chapter "Doing Responsible Evangelism."

When we invite them [people to believe], we need to make sure that they cannot confuse any other response with the only saving response. The stakes are high here, because if we allow ambiguity on this point, then we're actually helping deceive people about their own spiritual state by encouraging them to be assured of their salvation when they may not have genuinely repented or believed at all. The two responses that seem to be most commonly confused with genuine repentance and belief today are praying a prayer with someone and coming forward at a church service. (52) We are wiser to discontinue ambiguous evangelistic practices rather than allow them to continue confusing people as to what constitutes a saving response to the Gospel. Granted, allowing ambiguity may increase the numbers on our membership rolls. But it deceives unsaved people into thinking they are saved--the cruel hoax of all. It also wreaks havoc on the purity of our churches and their corporate testimonies, allowing into our membership many professing Christians who are later discovered not to be Christians at all because they eventually revert to lifestyles that simply cannot characterize a true Christian convert. (53-54)
Evan May, a fellow contributor to SBF, has written an article on the interview with Fordham which I highly recommend. Our local churches in the SBC are in true need of reform, and the potential of having Dever in the leadership of the SBC could be a real opportunity to face the threats to the gospel of Jesus Christ and the healthiness and purity of the churches in our denomination.

Two Weeks and Counting . . .

On May 1, 2006, Strange BaptistFire was launched for the purpose of addressing the numerous lies and misrepresentations which came from the website called BaptistFire. BaptistFire has been used in the past to divide churches, oust ministers, and fuel anti-Reformed sentiment in the SBC. On May 11, 2006, BaptistFire suddenly disappeared less than two weeks of SBF having started. The response to SBF exceeded any of our expectations, and it appears that the folks of BaptistFire picked up on this. While no one really knows why or how BaptistFire disappeared (BaptistFire is notorious for anonymity), it looks like they are not coming back. I intentionally did not post anything immediately as I did not want to respond presumptuously to their disappearance. It could very well be that they do not want us to have access to their articles, comments, and resources which would be the target of our future posts (we still were able to grab a little info from caches, copied articles, and previous posts). Here we are on May 25, 2006, just two weeks since BaptistFire cleaned their slate. Regardless of what happens to BaptistFire, Strange BaptistFire does not plan on going away. Honestly, I have mixed feelings about their exit from the Internet. In one sense I am exceedingly relieved that they are gone so that they can no longer distort the truth and destroy churches; however, in another sense, I kind of wish they hung around a little bit so that a presentation of biblical truth and defense of the faith could be given in light of what they had said in the past. People who have been skeptical towards bloggers or critical of the influence of blogging should take note of what has happened in the past year. Just in the SBC, significant impact has been made in the SBC including the IMB, Lifeway, SBC polity, ecclesiology, and most recently the presidential nomination. To this list one must include BaptistFire, and while one cannot rejoice over their departure, one can certainly be relieved that these anonymous folks who refused to dialogue have abandoned their posts . . . and hopefully for good.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Addressing "Omnibenevolence"

A couple of weeks ago, James White announced that the debate thesis proposed by the Caner brothers was the following:

Resolved: That God is an Omnibenevolent God to all of humanity through salvation and opportunity.

James White said, “The Caners are insisting upon using a thesis statement that has no meaning. It is not even written in proper English. It could be used and defended by a Unitarian Universalist. They refuse to use a thesis statement I have proposed that is clear and unambiguous.” Tom Ascol also replied thus, “Now, if you can explain exactly what is being asserted here, please let me know.” White and Ascol are no unlearned men, so when I heard that they were unaware of the term of “omnibenevolence” and its usage, I thought I would do some investigation and research on the subject.

Interestingly enough, not a single evangelical theologian has addressed the doctrine of omnibenevolence nor can you find it in any theological dictionary. This is precisely because it has not been considered historically a theological term. Rather, its basis is philosophically grounded. A brief description is provided by Wikipedia, although its weak definitions and descriptions show just how vague and nondescript this term really is. So where does the Caner’s get the idea of “an omnibenevolent God?” Here you must delve into the Arminian playbook (i.e. Geisler’s Chosen but Free and Hunt’s What Love Is This?) which I reveal in the days ahead.

It just so happens that a great deal of my personal research and studies is in the area of religious pluralism, inclusivism, and open theism. I don’t claim to have exhausted all the resources available, but I can say that the only folks who have argued for an omnibenevolent God besides contemporary Arminianism are Open Theists/Inclusivists and Universalists. This puts the Caners in a peculiar predicament. Their premise is not even considered orthodox to begin with (to a large degree). Furthermore, whatever basis is given for omnibenevolence in current writing is mere synthesis of philosophical assertions. I personally don’t know if I want to make a thesis statement that is unfounded in church history, unwritten by evangelical scholars, defended by heretical teachings, and supported by mere philosophical assertions. But then again, I am not the dean of theology either. I am just a seminary student trying to do my homework.

I have laid out a lengthy outline for the purpose of providing a sustained research and investigation into the idea of an omnibenevolent God. I also will be ask leading evangelical scholars about this idea and trying to ascertain some contemporary analysis and input from them as well. At this point, I am not planning on providing a critique publicly because of the upcoming debate and the possibility of this thesis being upheld (at least by the silent treatment). I will, however, provide quotes and annotations that I think are related to this issue. If you have any sources or input dealing with the topic of omnibenevolence, please let me know.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Congrats Brad! Now Get To Work!

This past Friday, my good friend Brad Hughes graduated from Southern Seminary and will be leaving for Georgia to run for the U.S. House of Representatives for the 2nd Congressional District (he is more widely known as the editor-in-chief at P&P). His roommate and long-time friend James Risner is going to accompany Brad this summer and will assist in his campaign. The big day is November 7, so there is a lot of work to do. Rumor has it that Brad has put off his campaign work until the end of American Idol :) Consequently, he won't be leaving until Thursday. If you have any campaign advice, leave a comment as I plan on being at his apartment tonight to watch the competition with he and others who know way more about it than I do.

On a more serious note, Brad mentioned that he will be updating all of us who are rooting for him on his blog a couple of times during the week. I must say that I will miss Brad as he has become a dear brother to me over the past year, but I know that the Lord has great things in store for him in the future. Please keep him in your prayers as he takes on what could possibly be the greatest challenge of his life.

Now to the American Idol . . . Let the guy from Alabama who has gray hair win. What' s his name again? (By the way, the nerd with the pen at the baseball stadium is me; the other guy is Brad.)

Frank Page Answers Questions, Veep Nomination Announced

Tad Thompson of Total Truth recently submitted some questions to Frank Page, one of the two candidates to be nominated for the SBC presidency. Page has answered them as well as provided a press release which goes into more details. While I disagree with Page on his soteriology, I have respect for him to answer the questions candidly and considerately (I have been told that his position on Calvinism has been mollified since his book). In other SBC news, BP has reported that evangelist Keith Fordham will be nominated for first vice-president of the SBC. Honestly, I have no idea what a 1st VP does, so I really have no interest in this deal. However, if you want to read an article that is provocative, go here. Also, David Hankins, executive director of the Louisiana Baptist Convention, wrote a first-person column in BP called "Cooperative Program at the Crossroads." He was but one on the committee that drafted the CP Ad Hoc Report and makes his case for the CP.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Journeying On

Well, after 9,319 words, 19 pages, and 8 posts dealing with the SBC, I think this prayer has spoken for my heart. It is called "Journeying On" and is found in the Valley of Vision.

LORD OF THE CLOUD AND THE FIRE,

I am a stranger, with a stranger’s indifference; My hands hold a pilgrim’s staff, My march is Zionward, My eyes are toward the coming of the Lord, My heart is in thy hands without reserve. Thou hast created it, redeemed it, renewed it, captured it, conquered it. Keep from it every opposing foe, crush in it every rebel lust, mortify every treacherous passion, annihilate every earthborn desire. All faculties of my being vibrate to thy touch; I love thee with soul, mind, body, strength, might, spirit, affection, will, desire intellect, understanding. Thou art the very perfection of all perfections; All intellect is derived from thee; My scanty rivulets flow from thy unfathomable fountain. Compared with thee the sun is darkness, all beauty deformity, all wisdom folly, the best goodness faulty. Thou art worthy of an adoration greater than my dull heart can yield; Invigorate my love that is may rise worthily to thee, tightly entwine itself around thee, be allured by thee. Then shall my walk be endless praise.

Ah, just when I needed some perspective from the Puritans! This is the panting of my heart and the prayer for my day. I hope you are as encouraged by it as I have been.

SBC Bloggers, Ronnie Floyd, and "Impact"

A couple of articles have intrigued me to the point to make this post. First, I read Dr. Floyd’s article called “Why I Am Permitting Myself to be Nominated as the President of the Southern Baptist Convention” and the other was “Piece of Mind” from the Arkansas Democrat Gazette. I know this is long, but please bear with me. :)

In his article, Floyd gave this as a reason number two for “permitting” himself to be nominated:

I love the diversity of our church, and the people called Southern Baptists are very diverse as a people. Within our nation alone, every week our churches across America worship in several different languages of the world. The personalities and cultures are different, as well as models of innovation. Yet, we are united in our one great purpose, which is to mobilize our churches to reach their respective regions, our nation, and the entire world with the Good News of Jesus Christ. Due to our diversity, I am not sure one man can represent all Southern Baptists as President, but I am very certain that one man can serve all Southern Baptists, which is my intention if I am elected.

This is great, but what about theological diversity? Ethno-linguistic diversity is a beautiful thing, and I don’t think there is any real issue or controversy with the differing cultures or languages in the SBC, but there is a real issue with theological diversity. Why didn’t Floyd address his position on Calvinism and Arminianism? What if Open Theism creeps into the SBC? Will this be considered “diversity?” Consider what he said earlier in an interview with Baptist Press:

Floyd responded to other issues that have infused the conversations of Southern Baptists in recent months -- increased sensitivity to the presence of Calvinism among Southern Baptists and the practice of private prayer language, which many equate to speaking in tongues. He offered that whatever the theological issue, “If it does not help ignite a greater passion for the Word and the greater passion to reach the world, then we have to evaluate the positions we hold.” Floyd said some Southern Baptists may hold Calvinist beliefs, but that the threat was a “hyper” form of Calvinism that has a spirit of condemnation. “My whole thought processes on that will be ... we know it’s an issue,” he said. “How big of an issue? I have no way to know. I do think it’s important that somehow, some way, that we recognize the good that exists in whatever people believe and try our very best to come together to discuss what we can do together and believe together. The more we split hairs on various matters, the less effective we’re going to be in carrying forth our mission.” (emphasis mine)

In his response, Floyd basically says that if one’s theological position harms the mission, then it needs to be reevaluated. Second, he goes on to make some baseless statement about hypercalvinism. Thirdly, he mentions “splitting hairs” which is an anti-intellectual turnoff for anyone passionate biblical truth. If the gospel didn’t contain biblical truth, if Jesus didn’t say “I am the truth” and if the church is not the “pillar and buttress of truth,” then yes I wouldn’t care about theology either. But that is simply not the case. My point is that Floyd skirts around a central point of interest with ambiguity and fails to even mention theological diversity in his reason for permitting himself to be president. When will he actually address this issue (if ever)?

Now to my second point and Floyd’s fourth reason:

I believe in our cooperative effort through the Cooperative Program of the SBC, which our church has given over $3.4 million to over the last 10 years for the mission causes of our denomination. In fact, let me state what has happened over the past five years and is happening this year as well: we have increased our Cooperative Program gifts 8% annually over the past five years and are doing so in our present budget this year. This 8% increase represents the amount of both Cooperative Program allocation areas; to Arkansas ($32,000) and to SBC in Nashville ($189,000) which totals $221,000 towards the Cooperative Program. With other SBC allocations, this combines to total $489,000 last year. This 8% increase to the Cooperative Program has happened while we planned and are now in the final stages of construction on two major building projects and expansions that are taking place on both campuses at a cost of $38.5 million. We are a church that is very committed to the Cooperative Program and believe in the cooperative effort to share the Good News of Jesus globally.

I think we need to enter the “No Spin Zone” hear (my apologies to Bill O’Reilly). The spinsters of the SBC in the theological beltway have been hitting the press to make a patch-job PR movement regarding the CP and FBC Springdale. Floyd argues that Springdale has increased their giving by 8% over the past five years to the CP. According to the stats, FBC Spingdale gave $32,000 to the CP with the previous year being $312,226. Why the change? Why the drop of $280,226? From the year 2000 to 2005, the church’s undesignated receipts went from $7,392,331 in 2000 to $11,952,137 which is a difference of $4,559,806—a 38.2% increase. During that same time, the giving to the CP went from $474,927 in 2000 to $32,000 in 2005 which is a difference of $442,927—a 93% drop. Now, it remains to be said what “other SBC allocations” or “SBC causes” are, but they can hardly be figured up as CP giving (which Floyd lumps together). In other places it has been argued that Springdale spent over $2 million on missions and evangelism last year. Floyd does not mention this because it is money being spent on missions outside the CP which overshadows the mere $32,000 being given to the CP.

The point I am trying to make here is that Springdale is a lot like many mega-churches in the SBC who have sought to do missions outside the CP and IMB. This trend is dangerous and counter-cooperative. Furthermore, more emphasis is being placed on short-term mission trips and long-term missionaries. This has occurred as churches have attempted to load their missional resume’s with x many mission trips and x number of conferences, and on and on. Last year, I wrote an article called Missions: The Ecclesiastical Catch-All for Special Interests. While I don’t think everything I said pertains to this particular situation, the trend is nonetheless there and should be addressed.

To my third point and Floyd’s eighth reason:

The next generation is what ignites my heart when I think about serving as the President of this denomination. I believe in the next generation. This denomination must engage all generations to invest in generations to come. In our own seminaries alone, we are equipping over 15,000 future young leaders to infiltrate our churches and the world with doctrinal integrity, local church commitment, relevance in engaging the culture, and burning with a commitment to finish the task worldwide. Beyond these students, our churches right now have many young leaders who can assist us in many ways right now. They need to know who we are and what we are about. We must hand forth to them a vision they can believe in that will carry on the great work that was handed off to us by generations in the past. This is a new day. We must step up to it as well as serve and lead a future that is aggressive and ever-changing. I believe the need of the hour is for us to have orthodoxy packaged in innovation. Our churches as well as our denomination itself need to know and find a way a way to be culturally relevant, yet never sacrifice the Scripture nor any of its precious truths. When we do this together, the future is unlimited and God-sized.

I along with many other bloggers, are a part of that next generation. We are passionate about gospel mission, the SBC, and living Godward lives for His glory. I am also a seminary student being trained in missions. When Floyd ignored the questions of bloggers as provided by Tad Thompson, one was forced to question whether or not he was really interested in us. Anyone can run a fire-walled campaign where the interviews are in a controlled environment and coupled with a PR campaign of staged endorsement by those in the SBC Inner Circle. Floyd made the following statement:

“I want to believe what comes out in verbal communication to me from people who are in the situation rather than people who blog,” he said. “I would trust writers who have invested and given fair evaluation of a situation.... But I’m not going to let someone’s blog weigh my situation one way or another.” (emphasis mine)

Who are the “people who are in the situation?” And why pit them against “people who blog?” Last time I checked, Dr. Floyd had a blog of his own, so is he not in the situation? How can Floyd predetermine that bloggers have no “invested” or “fair evaluation” of a situation? It appears that he is only giving attention to those who agree with him. Thirdly, he said that he was “not going to let someone’s blog weigh” in on the situation. Ironically so, seldom has a day passed where the Sitemeter has not revealed IP addressed from the server from First Baptist Springdale, Arkansas. Furthermore, Baptist Press, the Arkansas Democrat Gazette, and other media outlets are picking up on the impact of bloggers in the SBC.

To conclude this point, let me say that the bloggers whom Dr. Floyd does not trust and thinks are not in the situation are not just bloggers, but fellow pastors, ministers, seminarians, and SBCers. We ARE a part of this process, and we have a right to be concerned. It is not a helpful thing to the younger generation of SBCers to write them off because they are not one-sided. Maybe a better relationship could be fostered if Dr. Floyd did actually answer a question or two and stop pretending that he is not paying attention to what is being said.

Finally, to my fourth point and Floyd’s ninth and last reason:

I believe the greatest need in the American church and in SBC life is a fresh spiritual movement of God among us. If I am elected, I will passionately invite all Southern Baptists to join me in a desperate call to a spiritual movement that is Bible-based, Jesus-centered, and Holy Spirit-controlled. This must begin within each Christian personally, which would result in churches experiencing this kind of spiritual movement. This is the hope and answer for the present condition of the American church, the SBC in all relationships, ministry functions and existent needs, every Pastor and Spiritual Leader in our nation, every church within our convention. The degree to which it occurs will determine the expansion of the gospel of Jesus regionally, nationally, and globally. Every Pastor and Spiritual Leader within their context of leadership will be invited to join me in making this passionate and desperate call to the church and to our denomination. Since we have been entrusted as the denomination that is heralded as the largest in the evangelical and Protestant world, we have no other choice than to experience this kind of spiritual movement for the sake of billions of people in the world. My love for the church, our nation, and the expansion of the gospel worldwide, is the reason I am permitting my name to be placed in nomination to serve as the next President of the Southern Baptist Convention, if elected. I pray that whoever is called upon to serve as the next President will see the urgency and need to passionately lead and invite all Southern Baptists to experience a mighty movement of God as well as lead our convention through the challenges we face today. When this is done, we will finish the task to take the gospel to every people group across the globe in our generation.

Amen, Dr. Floyd. The SBC needs a fresh spiritual movement among us. We need reform to take place, beginning with the local church. Interestingly enough, I did not find anything mentioned about regenerate church membership or church discipline as a part of that movement. At this years convention, a resolution Dr. Tom Ascol has been submitted called Resolution on Integrity in Reporting which I hope Dr. Floyd will support.

In conclusion, let me mention what Floyd said in the Baptist Press article about the “good ole’ boy” system in the SBC and the younger Generation of SBCers. He said:

He positioned the situation as less an issue relating to just a younger generation as much as it crosses all generations, but that he understands at the core some people do not feel that they have a voice in the convention. Floyd was adamant that the answer is to create venues for people to feel like they are being heard. (emphasis mine)

Well, there should be “venues for people to feel like they are being heard,” and predominant among them have been SBC bloggers. Unfortunately, it appears that Dr. Floyd does not want to hear from us. He does not want to answer our questions nor does he think we are “in the situation.” I guess the good ole’ boy system lives after all.

I don’t think SBC bloggers are asking for much. We are told that we are not making an impact, yet mainstream media outlets seem to be quoting bloggers almost daily. We are told that they won’t listen to us, but somehow their IP address appears almost daily on our blogs. My mind has been brought back to why I first began blogging in the first place. I saw the impact that blogs had on “Rathergate” and how the media was following the work of bloggers. It appears this may be happening again. Floyd wrote that he liked accountability and that he was not threatened by it. If that is the case, then he will not think that he is being threatened by SBC bloggers. It is amazing that those who simply have questions or call for accountability among the highest offices in the SBC are castigated and demonized for having done such. Well, the SBC bloggers may not ever get their questions answer or their seat at the table, but in my opinion, they are doing some of the greatest work in the SBC.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Quick Hits :: May 21, 2006

* Frank Page, pastor of First Baptist Church in Taylors, SC has announced that he has accepted the nomination for president of the SBC. Info about Page can be found here. Wes Kenney also provided a chart for the church's giving to the CP. While there are some questions about his views on Calvinism, he seems to be getting some support (including Wade Burleson). Also, Tad Thompson has posed similar questions to Page as he did with Dr. Floyd (which he did not answer). * Slice of Laodicea writes about the new idea of "Godcasting" and virtual sermons. As I have mentioned in the past, I am no fan of the multi-site campus church even though it appears to be the lastest move of the church growth movement. As one has asked, "I wonder if a video church meets the requirement of a New Testament Church?" * Tim Challies recently reviewed Mark Driscol's latest book Confessions of a Reformission Rev. and has sparked a lengthly discussion (160+ comments). The iMonk also recently reviewed this book as well (however his "truly reformed" addage is really annoying). * Joe Thorn has been interacting with Dr. Russell Mooore's article on Pop Culture found in SBTS' recently released magazine. Steve McCoy points out that Moore mis-stated Ed Stetzer and makes a correction. * Mark Lauterbach wrote a helpful piece on Humility and Blog Slander. I think Mark's pastoral words are timely and should be welcomed by all bloggers. * Alex Forrest shares his frustration over Pat Robertson's latest prediction. It looks like Robertson is God's divine weather forecaster. * Daniel Randle recently had a lengthy exchange on the issue of homosexuality and the American Baptist Association's recent split. He has added additional thoughts here and here. * Gene Edward Veith shares about the situation at Patrick Henry College and why he is leaving WORLD Magazine. * Tom Ascol has reported on two of the most ridiculous forms of trying to be relevant with the gospel. I guess you can call this hyper-contextualization. The first has to do with NASCAR and the other with wrestling. Does these two have anything in common? * Marty Duren posts the Memphis Declaration which was drafted by 30 people earlier this month. I think some important things were said and encourage you to read it. * Mark Devine, new on the blogosphere, has written on Emergent's Anti-Doctrinal doctrinal statement. Funny yet true. The blogosphere is abuzzin' of late, and I will try to keep you up on some of the pertinent matters through frequenting "Quick Hits." Have a great week!

Saturday, May 20, 2006

History of the English Calvinistic Baptists

Last week I picked up one of Banner of Truth’s latest releases called History of the English Calvinistic Baptists: 1771-1892 by Robert W. Oliver. After perusing through some of the book, I think this book will be really helpful to navigate through some of the controversies and developments during that time period. The front flyleaf explains the book this way:

The aim of this book is to trace the story of the English Calvinistic Baptists from the death of John Gill in 1771 to that of Charles Haddon Spurgeon in 1892. It deals not only with the well-known figures in this community’s history—theological giants like John Gill, Andrew Fuller, William Gadsby, and Charles Spurgeon—but also with lesser-known lights—men like the hymn writer Benjamin Beddome, the eccentric John Collett Ryland, Abraham Booth, and John Stevens. Wide and deep reading into the writings of these men has given Dr. Robert Oliver an excellent grasp of their various theological perspectives.

No Christian community is without its controversies, and the Calvinistic Baptists in the period covered by this book are no exception. Even-handedly and with one eye always on the Calvinistic Baptist roots in the seventeenth century—well summed up by The Second London Confession of Faith (1689)—the author details the controversies that at times wracked this community. Who may take the Lord’s Supper? What is the role of the law in the Christian life? Is there biblical warrant for making free offers of the gospel to all and sundry? None of these issues are minor matters and should not be ignored by Christians today. The thinking of these Baptist worthies is therefore still of great value.

Unlike some contemporary historians, Robert Oliver is rightly convinced that the development of the Strict and Particular strand of this community in the nineteenth century is not a stagnant backwater that is best forgotten. Even though the churches of this persuasion were not as balanced as their seventeenth and eighteenth-century forebears, there was a spiritual vitality to this group that needs remembering, and Oliver has given us a rich overview of the thought and activities of these English Calvinistic Baptists.

I have not had the time to read this book yet, but I have looked through the front and back matter. The appendices and especially the bibliography is well worth checking out as Oliver has provide a wealth of resources for further study. After having studied seventeenth century English Puritanism and the foundation of the Particular Baptist movement, I look forward to having a better of standing of future generations of such Baptists, how they thought and how they handled the issues in their day.

I encourage you, if you are interested in getting a better grasp of Baptist history (and in particular the roots of Calvinism in Baptist history), I encourage you to get this book. You can purchase it at Banner of Truth’s website, or if you are in Louisville at the Lifeway Bookstore on campus.

Friday, May 19, 2006

POTW :: 05.19.06 :: Caught

{Click to enlarge}
Alright, so I have been holding off on this picture for some time now. Tim Challies told Marc and me that we could not catch him picking his nose, and well, with the help of all the paparazzi at the T4G Conference, we were able to get this image of Tim taking a break from typing 200 words per minute. I took this picture on the last session of the conference. Tim, have I told you how much I like you?
Here's the exif data for the photogs: Camera: Canon 20D Lens: 100-400mm IS USM Focal Length: 250mm Tv: 1/30 sec Av: f/5.0 ISO: 800 WB: Tungsten Steve McCoy, Joe Thorn, Joe Kennedy and Alex Forrest also post pics on Friday. I encourage you to check out their photography. For those interested in poetry, check out ColossiansThreeSixteen. Also, Will Turner has added some history to the Friday menu.

"Aping" the SBC and the Central Problem of Our Convention

This will probably be my last post on the SBC and the current issues related to its presidency. I had not intended to write all this, but as recent days unfolded, I felt that it was important to chime in. There have been some who have been reading blogs and have come to the conclusion that those being critical are somehow “anti-Floyd” or attacking him. This is simply not the case. Sure, there are some real, legitimate reasons why one should be concerned about some of the things Dr. Floyd has said and done, but there is no reason to think that he would be a fine president. But as I have stated earlier, the SBC needs exemplary leadership—and that not only from the president, but also from all of its denominational heads.

Two quotes have been ringing in my ears over the past couple of days. One is from Francis Schaeffer as quoted by Nancy Pearcey in her book Total Truth, and the other is from Morris Chapman from his blogpost “Diminishing Returns? I want to share them with you and add a little commentary as I believe the content of the comments are timely and true today. First, let’s hear from Francis Schaeffer:

“The central problem of our age is not liberalism or modernism,” Schaeffer writes—or even hot-button social issues like evolution, abortion, radical feminism, or homosexual rights. The primary threat to the church is the “tendency to do the Lord’s work in the power of the flesh rather than the Spirit.” Many church leaders crave a “big name,” he continues: They “stand on the backs of others” in order to achieve power, influence, and reputation—instead of exhibiting the humility of the Master who washed His disciples’ feet. They “ape the world” in its publicity and marketing techniques, manipulating people’s emotions to induce them to give more money. No wonder outsiders see little in the church that cannot be explained by ordinary sociological forces and principles of business management. And no wonder they find our message unconvincing.

As Pearcey continued in her observations of such who “ape the world,” she asked the question, “Where is the authenticity in all this?” and later repeated by asking, “Where is our passion for truth and authenticity?” These are good questions for the SBC. Where is the passion for authenticity? Where is the transparency in all of this?

Now to Morris Chapman who recently wrote this article as news that SBC leaders came out to endorse a presidential nominee. Just in the last week, Drs. Patterson, Akin, and Mohler have expressed their public support for Dr. Floyd which is proof that what Chapman has said is true. This is not good news for the SBC. As the good ole’ boys prop up their candidate with their powerful punditry, SBCers are becoming more skeptical and less trusting in the process and politicking that is so prevalent in the SBC. Here is what Dr. Chapman had to say:

Today political strategies, agendas, and power politics threaten to distract us from empowered possibilities of a people who rely solely upon God's guidance. We are drawn to do things as the world does them. To lose power from above all too often drives us to generate artificial power of our own making. We can intellectualize the Word of God 'til the cows come home and Christ reigns supreme upon the earth, but the more we attempt to do in our own power, the less we shall know the power of God. Our strength pales in comparison to the Christ who arose from the grave and ascended to the right hand of the Father.

When a president of an entity publicly endorses a potential nominee or nominates a candidate for elected office, he potentially alienates some who otherwise hold him in high esteem because they differ with the person he has embraced publicly for an elected office. Consequently, the entity head endangers his potential to provide effective counsel and spiritual leadership to the larger body of Southern Baptists although their beliefs may coincide with the entity head on most other issues.

I agree, as Dr. Chapman has said, that there is a “diminishing admiration” of such leaders in the SBC along with an eroding trust in the system with they seem to manipulate. In the end, they may wind up getting everyone’s vote, but the question remains whether or not they really have our trust and respect. I have personally talked to close friends who have worked under such heads who have told me, “If you knew what really went on in the political end of the SBC, you will wish you weren’t a Southern Baptist.” To some degree, I am glad that I do not know; but then again, why should I be glad? Why should there be matters that I wish I did not know? Is it because there are those who like to “ape the SBC,” who are doing this work in the power of the flesh and not of the Spirit? “According to the artificial power of our own making?” Who are “standing on the backs of others” rather than serving from the bottom up as the “slave of all?”

We are now 27 years past the beginning of the conservative resurgence. The threat of liberalism or modernism is hardly an issue. The real threat to the SBC comes within the SBC itself. If we believe that Christ is the Lord of the Church and of the Christian, then why can’t we agree that He is also Lord of the Convention? If we believe He is, then I pray that the process of nominating and voting on presidents and other elected officers will reflect this reality. Truly, the heart of the king is in the hand of the Lord, and so are the hearts of all us. So let us pray to Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will that we may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God. For the sake of Jesus and our brethren in the SBC, may God be pleased to bring reform from top to bottom in our beloved convention. I am hopeful and will be praying about these matters, and if you are a SBCer, I encourage you to do the same.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

SBC Cow Tippin': In What Sense Does Giving to the Cooperative Program Matter?

Note: This is a little long, but I felt it was necessary . . .

“I hear the ‘moo’ of a Sacred Cow,” said Ted Traylor speaking of the suggestion that the church of a nominated candidate for SBC president must meet the 10% threshold of Cooperative Program (CP) giving. Since the news of First Baptist Church, Springdale, AR Cooperative Program giving was released, the SBC elites have been on a media blitz to defend Dr. Ronnie Floyd and his church’s giving to missions.

Earlier this year, an Ad Hoc Cooperative Program Committee was formed which made the recommendation that elected state and national officers be a part of churches that give at least 10% to the CP. This suggestion was an encouragement, not an obligation, which gained the approval of the SBC Executive Committee. Traylor recognizes that his suggestion is “non binding” but warns that enacting this could surrender the principle of individual churches defining their sphere of involvement in missions. This principle of conserving self-determination concerns me for several reasons.

First, there is a historical precedent in the SBC where churches were known to faithfully give to the CP. Anthony Jordan of the Baptist Messenger of Oklahoma writes, “For nearly 75 years, our churches averaged giving more than 10 percent of undesignated receipts to mission through CP. Today, the average has slipped to under 7 percent.” Throughout the past 75 years, there have been many reasons why giving could have gone down, including depression, wars, and other economic crises. Secondly, lest we all forget, the majority of this time was before the conservative resurgence. So what has happened that in the most prosperous days of the SBC and our country giving to the CP has decreased? This leads to my second point.

Second, there is a present crisis of cooperation in the SBC. As Dr. Floyd has stated, many churches are now seeking for the “personalization of missions.” What this means is churches are doing missions more independently than ever before. With the recent boom of short-term mission trips and unprecedented opportunities to plant churches worldwide, churches are seeking to do the Great Commission on their own. Predominantly, only megachurches are able to pull this off due to the necessary resources required to accomplish such a task.

This is where the “self-determining” of an autonomous church comes in. Churches today are building their Great Commission emphasis around themselves. I have heard the mantra over and over again, such as “We go on x number of mission trips each year and have planted x number of churches on every continent in the world.” Some will say, “There is not a place where the sun sets where we are not doing missions.” Notice the reference point is that particular local church. If this self-congratulatory rationalization for the lack of cooperation is not enough, we cannot forget that all this must be financed in some form or fashion. Thus, the money which would normally go to the CP goes to the efforts of the local church. Implicit in this strategy is that the individual church can do it better and more efficiently than the IMB. This is what I call being missionally myopic.

The whole purpose of the CP was to pool resources together to do what one could not do on its own. Through giving to the CP and the agency of the IMB, Southern Baptists have the largest missionary force in the world. Yet the supply line to these missionaries is being undermined by the reallocation of resources to accomplish short-term missions to the neglect of long-term missionaries. We have mission conferences, mission trips, mission training, etc., but are often forgetting about our missionaries! We cooperate not out of obligation, but as a privilege and an overwhelming desire to serve one another in love. Hear what the Baptist Faith and Message has to say about this:

Christ's people should, as occasion requires, organize such associations and conventions as may best secure cooperation for the great objects of the Kingdom of God. Such organizations have no authority over one another or over the churches. . . Members of New Testament churches should cooperate with one another in carrying forward the missionary, educational, and benevolent ministries for the extension of Christ's Kingdom.

Cooperation is voluntary true, but it is also expected, especially from our leaders. Inevitably, the nominations for the SBC presidency usually come from pastors of megachurches, and it is interesting to see how committed they are to the CP and whether they believe that it is that big of a deal. Hear again some thoughts by Jordan:

Our greatest challenge is electing a man who has demonstrated a proven commitment to the Southern Baptist way of supporting missions. Many of the megachurch pastors have turned aside from cooperative missions in favor of direct or societal missions. They do missions, but they choose to do what their church can accomplish, rather than realizing the power of what we can achieve together. They have abandoned a tried and true axiom among us. We can do more together than we can do alone.

Because of the relevancy of this year’s nomination, let’s take FBC Springdale for example. According to Ben Mayes, the church’s chief administration officer, for 2004-2005 fiscal year the church’s undesignated gifts totaled $11,952,137. The amount given to the CP was $32,000 which comes out to 0.27%. However, Mayes is quick to add that the church spent $2,648,000 in total support of missions and evangelism during that same time period. Now, you tell me, where is the emphasis being placed? On cooperation or conserving the “self-determination” of the local church?

In a recent interview with Baptist Press, Floyd said, “churches can and should do better” but “there was never mandated cooperation” or “scriptural basis for tithing to a denomination.” This is true, and the current recommendation is not a mandate nor an attempt to scripturally prove tithing to a denomination. Why does cooperation have to be shaded as an obligation, mandate, or requirement? I thought we cooperated and supported one another because we wanted to and because we believed in working together. Is this not the spirit and example we should hope to have in the leader of the SBC?

Floyd said, “I want to do more, I’ve done more. We’ve been doing more and we will continue to do more.” What he said it true—they have done more, and looking at the previous years of giving, one can see where the CP was more of a priority than it is today. Floyd also said that CP is a “tool” and “vehicle” which “can be relevant only to the point of the convention re-imaging and reinventing itself to meet the needs of SBC churches and help them propagate the Gospel around the world.” I mean no disrespect, but what about the needs of the missionaries around the world (through IMB) and stateside (through NAMB)? Don’t their needs count too?

What I have heard in recent days is warnings against making some arbitrary rule about giving 10 percent to the CP and how it should not be the “sacred cow” of the SBC. What I am not hearing is a passion for cooperation and a desire to show exemplary giving and commitment to missions as structured through the Southern Baptist Convention. I hear what some seminary presidents and megachurch pastors are saying in defense of Dr. Floyd, but I am concerned about what I am not hearing. Now to the third point.

The future direction of missions in the SBC needs the leadership to chart the course and handle the storms which come our way. Just in the last year, both the IMB and NAMB have had their share of controversies, and the SBC needs a leader who is committed to missions within the SBC, not just their local churches. We need a leader who has vision enough to see the big picture but principle enough to handle the transitional nuances or controversies which may arise. The SBC president, and the church which he pastors, should be a model of cooperation while unifying churches around the work of missions, not encouraging them to do it on their own (which most simply cannot because of logistical and financial inadequacies). This example should also be seen in their giving. No, this is not an obligation or mandate but an expectation which assumes that a person’s commitment to something will be evidenced where it lines up in their priorities and their pocketbooks.

Fundamentally, the Southern Baptist Convention exists for cooperation with one another for the purpose of the propagation of the gospel of Jesus Christ to the ends of the world. For 81 years, Southern Baptists have done this together as each church member has valued the importance of giving to the Cooperative Program. So in what sense does giving to the CP matter? It is not about a “golden number” or a church’s statistics on giving or their missional resume; it is about people and having a passion to reach them. We have over 6,000 of our own out there who have left their houses, brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, and lands for the sake of Jesus and the gospel. Let’s not become spiritual cow-tippers. Though the CP made not be SBC's Sacred Cow, there is no reason to make it the Sacrificial Lamb. Let’s remember that it is not about us—it’s about them.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

SBC Observations Over the Past Two Weeks

It’s hard to believe that it was just a couple of weeks ago that Johnny Hunt turned down the nomination for the president of the SBC and nominated Dr. Ronnie Floyd. Because of travels and finals, I have not been able to keep up on all that has transpired; however, I have blogged about this a little bit here and at SBF.

I noticed yesterday a couple of things: first, Baptist Press is paying a lot of attention to bloggers—even using them as the content for their articles. Secondly, after checking the ole’ Sitemeter, I along with several other bloggers have found visitors from several interesting places such as Springdale, AR and Woodstock, GA. Now I don’t want to give any more specifics, but simply state this to make a point. Baptist Press isn’t the only one clicking the refresh button—many SBC elites are as well—and for good reason.

There have been many who have come out in disagreement with several matters including the “supernatural revelation” of Dr. Floyd’s nomination, the fire truck baptistry, the interview-turned-down, woeful CP giving (ahem, not “SBC causes” whatever that is), and recent comments on hypercalvinism in the SBC. All this in just the past two weeks! Notice something very carefully: NOTHING has been said about Dr. Ronnie Floyd or his character. I suspect that many of the SBC elites are waiting for a SBC blogger to slip up and make some ad hominem charge or attack but to no avail. This is a reminder to all of us that what we say can and will be used against us in the political machinery of the SBC.

On another note, Paige Patterson has felt it necessary to come out and recommend Dr. Floyd for the nomination; in addition, Dr. Danny Akin has sent an email defending Dr Floyd and his church's CP giving. And most recently, Dr. Al Mohler has written a letter of endorsement as well which can be read on Dr. Floyd's blog. Three seminary presidents of the SBC and denominational heads at that have not only pledged their support but have made a vocal campaign for Dr. Floyd. Thirdly, Ted Traylor, pastor of Olive Baptist Church in Pensacola, FL, argues that the CP should not be a “sacred cow”, and the Ad Hoc CP Committee’s recommendation is just “a bad suggestion." He then goes on to express his pledged support for Floyd. It is clear that the concerns and criticisms are serious enough to warrant such a response from the likes of such influential men.

Speaking of those concerns, bloggers have been demonized for being interested in such matters. Because of the new media, the accessibility of information, and the immediate publication, blogs have become the monkey wrench in the machinery that has been running so smoothly in the past. But is it not fair that a nominee who is running for a public office be subject to public scrutiny? Should we not examine the candidate, his church, and his theology? This is not a character assault, but responsible allegiance to a convention not made of a few mega-voices, but of millions (or so we are told) of little voices who are (or should be) committed to the future of the SBC.

I appreciate the words of Wade Burleson of late as he points out the difference here. Personally, I do not know Dr. Floyd except from his books, a few sermons, and a few blogposts which I have read. He seems like a great guy and a godly man. There is no reason to question his integrity or godliness. But there is good reason to question some of the things he has said or done; moreover, there is good reason to question the way in which one is nominated for the presidency of the SBC. Furthermore, I am encouraged to read the admonition and counsel from Morris Chapman who expressed the personal conflicts of interest by denominational leaders like Patterson and Akin to publicly endorse a candidate for the presidency.

The resurgence stalwarts have spoken as expected for their man, but what was not expected was to see the grassroots movement speaking out as they have. Baptist Press has picked up on this and so has the Kingmakers. Sweaty palms rest on keypads as the other potential candidate is awaiting to be announced. There is a legitimate reason to be worried as I presume they are. After all, a former president, two state papers, and a host of bloggers are actively writing about this presidential candidacy (not to mention out-going president Welch’s Million More has produced 4.15% less baptisms). Let me conclude by saying that ultimately this is not about Dr. Ronnie Floyd or the presidency of the SBC, it is about the future of the SBC and how we are going to get there.

 
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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.

|W|P|114910165501448434|W|P|Trouble with PAGE: A Closer Examination of the Five Points of Frank Page - Total Inconsistency|W|P|timmybrister@gmail.com5/31/2006 10:01:00 PM|W|P|Blogger Alex F|W|P|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 10:10:00 PM|W|P|Blogger Timmy|W|P|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?6/01/2006 04:30:00 PM|W|P|Blogger Alex F|W|P|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.5/31/2006 05:39:00 AM|W|P|Timmy Brister|W|P|I have an older email account that I seldomly check, but many of my friends still email me there, so I have decided to keep it in order to keep in touch with them. One of them is a good friend of mine and IMB missionary serving in a militantly Muslim country. Let me share with you a part of his most recent email which he sent. This is just one reason why I believe in supporting the Cooperative Program: Dated Wednesday, May 10, 2006:
Hi, About two weeks ago I mentioned to everyone that I would be taking a group of four visiting Americans to an isolated place in our area. This place is a smaller island, with about ten thousand people. The island has no power, and had never had anyone present the gospel to them before. Thank you so much for your prayers. Here are some things you might want to know. While there, we distributed about 100 new testaments, as well as Jesus Film on cassette (some people have a few battery operated things) and other evangelistic materials. I figure that about ten percent of the people received some type of written or oral witness. If you count by the number of homes, then nearly everyone had some type of impact. On the way in someone stole a few of our cassettes. They run a generator at night in the market area for a few hours. We heard the Jesus film in the market for the next two days. The first day we were in an older man's home, where we shared the gospel. He didn't agree to follow Christ, but I heard him talking the next day to some men about what we said. "Yesterday, those men came to my house and asked me if I thought I would be in heaven when I die. I told them I didn't know. Then, they told me that if I were to believe in Isa (Jesus), I would go to heaven." When we were leaving I heard him again telling some others about it.
He goes on to ask for prayer concerning several matters, not the least of which is their safety and boldness for those who will follow up on this work. This dear friend mine is graciously supported by the giving of SBCers who believe in the work he is doing in taking the gospel of Jesus to people who have never heard. What church, even mega-church has a sustained impact among the unreached peoples like the IMB has through our cooperation? Where would these "visiting Americans" go if there was not a missionary already there doing the groundwork? Short-term mission trips exist only because there are long-term missionaries welcoming them to the work they have long been laboring in. It is not either/or but both/and. Our missionaries need our encouragement, prayer, and support through serving with them. Moreover, we need to preeminently support our brothers and sisters who have left houses, families, and countries for the sake of Jesus and His gospel. And when CP giving goes down because churches think that cooperation doesn't matter and that they can do missions on their own, they will soon find out that the missionaries they failed to support will not be there to greet them in the airport.|W|P|114907301997310135|W|P|Just One Reason Why I Support the Cooperative Program|W|P|timmybrister@gmail.com5/31/2006 05:00:00 AM|W|P|Timmy Brister|W|P|Since I wrote my last post "Addressing 'Omnibenevolence'", I have been able to doing a little homework on the subject. Because of the vagueness of the doctrine and the fact that it is being used as the central issue of a thesis in a future debate, I thought I'd throw some ideas out there for discussion. The series posts will have the same title (Addressing Omnibenevolence) but a different Subtitle (Part One: __________). Furthermore, some of the things I will post will simply be excerpts of scholars or other theologians and may not reflect my particular position. Some of the posts will include personal commentary and analysis, while others will not. The point of me posting this is to encourage all of us to think biblically and critically about omnibenevolence and be engaged in its application today. Omnibenevolence, as far as I can tell, has not been given much treatment, so the potential discussion and comments could be formative as it is certain that with such camps as Open Theism and Universalism using the term, it will not be going away anytime soon. So please consider joining me as I seek to have interact with this idea of "omnibenevolence" and what it means to us today. As far as what to expect, I will post excerpts from all camps and all sides of the issue. I will also probably ask probing questions, address certain tensions, and include doctrinal issues that are directly related to omnibenevolence. I will seek to be fair to present each camp as they would want their position to be stated (as if they were stating it themselves), but I will at times break away to point out where I disagree. Anyway, those are my thoughts for now. At this point, I think the series could be at least 10-15 posts, and I will include trackbacks to the previous posts as the series develops. Hope to see you around. :)|W|P|114907050580508501|W|P|Addressing Omnibenevolence Series|W|P|timmybrister@gmail.com5/30/2006 01:48:00 PM|W|P|Timmy Brister|W|P|Gene Bridges, renowned blogger of Triablogue and contributor of Strange BaptistFire, has recently started a blog called A Southern Baptist History Primer in which he has posted the chapters to his recent work called "A Condensed History of Landmarkism in the Southern Baptist Convention with Particular Reference to Baptism and the International Mission Board in the Present Day" (nominated by P&P for the best title of the year). Here are the sections in order: Part One: Introduction Part Two: Landmark Teachings Part Three: The Landscape Before Landmarkism Part Four (a): The Rise of Landmarkism Part Four (b): John L. Dagg on Landmarkism, Baptism, Christian Ministers, &tc. Part Four (c): P.H. Mell and B.H. Carroll - Principled Dissent in the SBC; the Decline of Landmarkism's Formal Reign Part Five: The Present Day Gene has 1,000 printed out already, but 900 of them have already been designated for key leaders in the SBC. He mentioned that the other 100 will be given away in Greensboro, probably at the Founders Breakfast. If you would like a copy for yourself, Gene has asked that you email him with that request. You can find his email in his profile. Important issues such as landmarkism, principled dissent, hypercalvinism, and baptism. Gene has succinctly dealt with some of the most serious issues in the SBC today, and it would be well worth your time to read how this present-day situation in the SBC relates to issues in the past.|W|P|114901493430652549|W|P|Landmarkism and the SBC|W|P|timmybrister@gmail.com5/30/2006 09:51:00 AM|W|P|Timmy Brister|W|P|Kevin Hash contacted the writer of ABP article about Mark Dever concerning the usage of the term "neo-Calvinist." Here is what the writer said (the comment can be found here).
I appreciate your inquiry. I thought seriously about using that term before I employed it in my story, but I think it's descriptive because of the nature of many of the SBC's new Calvinists. Those who hold to five-point Calvinism in the SBC are often people who have grown up in SBC churches with a more modified Calvinist/Arminian-friendly (for lack of a more succinct term for that) kind of belief regarding soteriology, but claim to be reclaiming a belief that was held to by many more Southern Baptists historically. Their rhetoric often reflects the belief that they are reclaiming something that had been largely lost in Southern Baptist life until recent decades (e.g., the use of the term "Founders" in the name of the largest fellowship of SBC Calvinists). In order for readers to understand a little better that this was a renewal or reclamation movement in the eyes of its advocates, I used the prefix "neo" before "Calvinists" in one reference.
So what do you think? Neo-Calvinist or retro-Calvinist?|W|P|114900103933261490|W|P|ABP Answers "Neo-Calvinist" Usage|W|P|timmybrister@gmail.com5/30/2006 10:57:00 AM|W|P|Blogger Tony K.|W|P|If "Neo" means we are not on the same level as the Founders. Then it is okay. I guess no real puritan would have an ipod.5/30/2006 12:30:00 PM|W|P|Blogger Stephen Newell|W|P|I'm not sure. I got mixed feelings on this one. He might be terminologically correct, but rhetorically it just keeps coming across as negative no matter how you read it. Even when you try to be as nice as possible or playing devil's advocate.5/30/2006 12:50:00 PM|W|P|Blogger Gavin Brown|W|P|The use of "neo"-whatever in any context usually can be identified with an significant, identifiable movement/school/philosophy. To employ the term neo-Calvinist in this context seems historically (linguistically speaking) misguided.5/30/2006 01:08:00 PM|W|P|Blogger Timmy|W|P|"I guess no real puritan would have an ipod"

Talk about an anachronism!

The whole "neo" thing inrigues me because people think that can drum up whatever new catch phrase or term and assume a meaning to it without qualification or delineation. And to have someone who is a reporter (who is to report the facts) use such a term must employing a rhetorical technique (i.e. "spin") rather than a reporting technique.

Even terms such as "missional" is not clearly defined and understood (although it is extensively written about these days). If such a term as "missional" is still vague after books and a litany of bloggers have written about it, what are we to think about such terms as "neo-Calvinist?"

Welcome to the po-mo world.5/30/2006 01:37:00 PM|W|P|Blogger Tony K.|W|P|A timely Derek Webb (my favorite villian) quote:

i’m in love
oh i love what i can convince you of
‘cause i’m a prophet by trade
and a salesman by blood
5/30/2006 02:18:00 PM|W|P|Blogger Stephen Newell|W|P|I don't know if we can say that it's "historically" misguided, Gavin. We have to admit that over the past 10 to 15 years there has been an upsurge of Calvinism within the convention and especially in the seminaries. It is a "significant, identifiable movement." T4G has recently become one of the signs that identify the "movement."

If we were to say it was misguided because it is a rhetorical tactic that is clearly intended to cast the one being labelled in a negative light (despite what the reporter has claimed in this comment), we'd be more correct.5/30/2006 02:57:00 PM|W|P|Blogger Gavin Brown|W|P|Well then, we'll just have to credit this APB reporter with coining the moniker that he now applies to Dever & co.

Someone call Webster so they can put neo-Calvinism in their next edition.5/30/2006 05:15:00 PM|W|P|Blogger Timmy|W|P|In that case, I will call Mr. Webster and ask that "ultra-Calvinist" and "super-duper-Calvinist" be added as well . . . and to give me the credit for coining those monikers. :)

Could this be the new trend?

You know, kind of like postmodern, post-evangelical, post-foundational, post-Christian, post-liberal, post-postmodern, etc.?5/30/2006 09:28:00 PM|W|P|Blogger D.R.|W|P|To me this is just another person who thinks they can just take any label and make it fit into their definition. Just like the Caner's did with Hyper-Calvinism, Kevin Hash seems to think that he can do it with Neo-Calvinist. And while I don't think he was trying to be overtly negative, as I stated in the previous post on this on P&P, there is an already generally accepted definition for Neo-Calvinist. So why didn't Hash just explain what he was trying to say rather than use a term that no one would understand and didn't match up with any perceived definition?

It seems language is getting more and more flexible to the point that whatever you want something to say, it just says. Guess that is how guys like the Emerging Church gurus can take their cues from Jacques Derrida and discount objectivity in language.5/30/2006 10:07:00 PM|W|P|Blogger Timmy|W|P|Daniel,

To clarify, I do not think Kevin Hash was espousing the term "neo-Calvinism" as much as he was simply reporting what the writer's definition of it was. As far as I know, I have not heard or read a comment Kevin has made about the idea. The quote was from the writer of the article, not Kevin Hash himself.

In my attempt at satire, I was trying to make the same point you were. People are always looking for a nicely package way to demonize Calvinists. For instance, where does Frank Page get the idea that it is the work of Satan to limit the atonement? And how can one not deduce that such a statement is not intended to Calvinists who believe in limited atonement?

I think the point we are all trying to make, however, is the necessity for clarity and precision in writing and reporting. The author of the article had no substantial reason, warrant, or necessity to come up with the term "neo-Calvinist" as though Dever was the leader of a new brand of Calvinism. If Dever is anything, he is one of the finest examples of what classical reformed theology is all about. There is nothing "neo" about him whatsoever. The term was pure spin (which I guess is to be expected from the NYT of the SBC).6/02/2006 02:15:00 AM|W|P|Blogger D.R.|W|P|Sorry, Tim (and Kevin), I misread that first sentence, but aside from that I still think that the term was used recklessly by whomever wrote it.6/02/2006 04:00:00 AM|W|P|Blogger Timmy|W|P|I agree, Daniel. Reporters don't have the right to make up terms on the fly, especially if they don't even attempt to define or explain them!5/27/2006 10:26:00 AM|W|P|Timmy Brister|W|P|* Dr. Ronnie Floyd, in another self-promotional, announces that Dr. Johnny Hunt has issued another press release for endorsement purposes. Man, where have I heard this before? Patterson, Akin, Traylor, Mohler, Hunt, et al. How can this guy lose? * Joe Carter, renowned blogger, has taken the Godblogdom to a Royal Rumble. This is one time I am glad that I am a lover and not a fighter. * Bobby Welch, outgoing president of the SBC and pastor of FBC Daytona Beach, announces his retirement. * The Associated Baptist Press does an update to their article on Dever's upcoming nomination for the 1st VP of the SBC. Unfortunately, the update does not tell us what a "neo-Calvinist" is. * Wade Burleson mentioned on his blog that he is considering whether or not to reveal the details about the trustee's violations by removing him from meetings. Be sure to check out his blog next week. * The Executive Committee of the SBC, under the leadership of Dr. Morris Chapman, recently amended their recommendation that SBC officers' churches give at least 10% to the Cooperative Program. Chapman mentioned that he didn't want it to be a "litmus test" for candidates. Quote: "I voted for the $87 billion before I voted against it." - John Kerry * David Wayne (Jollyblogger) responded to the recent comments on Tim Challies' review of Mark Driscoll's book Confessions of a Reformission Rev. His post, called "Throwing Mark Driscoll Under the Bus," well, speaks for itself. Challies responded, and Wayne apologies thereafter. * Tom Ascol, upon request by a comment he received earlier, wrote an excellent piece this week called "1 Corinthians 9:19-23, Paul on Accomodation." A must read. * Phil Ryken has written a powerful and sobering prayer of repentance which I believe is one that we should meditate and pray continually. May God find us with a broken and contrite heart over our sin. * Scot McKnight answers the question, "What Would I Do Differently?" Answer: Read the best writers. * CT has announced their 2006 Book of the Year Awards for various categories. * Lig Duncan has compiled some great quotes on the gospel. Be sure to check them out (1, 2, 3, 4). * Finally, New Attitude is holding their conference this weekend in lovely Louisville. The line-up is quite impressive. You can stay updated on their new blog. Obviously, there is a lot going on these days. I will try to keep you up to date on most of the action. 'Till then, have a great weekend!|W|P|114874362306090357|W|P|Quick Hits for May 27, 2006|W|P|timmybrister@gmail.com5/29/2006 07:20:00 PM|W|P|Blogger Alex F|W|P|Wait... I thought Ronnie Floyd said he wasn't "running for president." Of course that was probably easier to say when he was the only announced candidate. Oh well.5/26/2006 04:51:00 PM|W|P|Timmy Brister|W|P|Yesterday, I asked the question, "Why?" and well, it looks like a lot of other people have been asking the same question. I decided to do a little investigating to see if anyone caught Pat Robertson doing his leg press work out, and well I came up with more than that! Below are a series of photos of Robertson leg pressing, flexing, promoting his shake at a body building contest, and showing us just how easy and age-defying his shake really is. These photos were hard to come by, but the P&P paparazzi has been hot on the case. Here's what we found . . .
Pat Robertson warming up on the leg press machine . . .
Pat Robertson promoting shake at body building contest . . .
Pat Robertson flexing his legs . . . (Hey Pat, how about a little modesty, eh?)
Pat Robertson making it look easy . . . And now for a quote which was mentioned both at JT and CBS Sportsline:
"That would mean a 76-year-old man broke the all-time Florida State University leg press record by 665 pounds over Dan Kendra. 665 pounds. Further, when he set the record, they had to modify the leg press machine to fit 1,335 pounds of weight. Plus, Kendra's capillaries in his eyes burst. Burst. Where in the world did Robertson even find a machine that could hold 2,000 pounds at one time? And how does he still have vision?"
|W|P|114868130603866409|W|P|Robertson Is Here to Pump You Up!|W|P|timmybrister@gmail.com5/29/2006 10:58:00 PM|W|P|Blogger brittney|W|P|I didn't really read anything, but the pictures made me laugh. Great post Timmy!5/26/2006 05:27:00 AM|W|P|Timmy Brister|W|P|
{Click to enlarge}
It goes without saying that when you see this picture, you immediately come to the conclusion that I have not taken many pictures lately. Well, actually I have, but for special venues (e.g. graduations, parties, etc.). Last night, while shopping for some former students of mine who recently graduated from high school (congrats Lee, Kyle, Whitney, and Tamra!), there was a huge storm which passed through Louisville. Ergo (Latinese), we decided to hang out at B&N, and I stumbled across this minidictionary of Latin. If you are like me, you come across a bunch of Latin phrases in books and articles and you think to yourself, "What the heck are they saying?" So I broke down and spent $6.95 to try to make myself look smart. One of these days I am going to bust out some Latin, and you will think I know what I am talking about (well, maybe). Seriously, you Latin speaking folks, lighten up on us unilingual folks (is unilingual a word?). We butchur English enuf as it is, so kut us some slak, okay?
Here's the exif data for the photogs: Camera: Canon 20D Lens: 28-135mm IS USM Focal Length: 28mm Tv: 1/4 sec Av: f/7.1 ISO: 800 WB: Tungsten Steve McCoy, Joe Thorn, Joe Kennedy and Alex Forrest also post pics on Friday. I encourage you to check out their photography. For those interested in poetry, check out ColossiansThreeSixteen. Also, Will Turner has added some history to the Friday menu.|W|P|114864017176925354|W|P|POTW :: 05.26.06 :: Latinese|W|P|timmybrister@gmail.com5/27/2006 08:37:00 PM|W|P|Blogger Mike Hess|W|P|Timmy,

Is that Mohler's library? What happened to the beard? Let me know when you plan on selling your Warfield stuff!

Have a great Lord's Day tomorrow!

Mike5/25/2006 03:13:00 PM|W|P|Timmy Brister|W|P|Earlier this afternoon, I listened to Ken Lay's response to being found guilty in the court of law. While I don't have his words down verbatim, he said some things which trouble me, including the insertion of Christianity and God's providence. He made statements about his Christian family, about how "God works all things out to those who love the Lord," and how "God is in control." Shepherd Smith of FoxNews quickly responded by saying, "Thou shalt not steal." It appears that the best PR move is to mention Christianity along with some proof texts to invoke sympathy or appeal to innocence. I simply wish that those who call ourselves Christians would not pull the "Christianity card" out when we are in trouble in an attempt to vindicate ourselves of any wrongdoing. If Lay is a Christian, I think he would be serve himself, the Lord, and the Christian community by doing what is right in the sight of the Lord and not use a press conference as a pulpit. How many times when someone is found guilty or some wrongdoing is done that people somehow wind up bringing up Jesus, the pomo phrase "judge not lest you be judged," and add some proof texts?|W|P|114858806415300068|W|P|Ken Lay, Public Relations, and God|W|P|timmybrister@gmail.com5/26/2006 07:36:00 PM|W|P|Blogger Chris D.|W|P|Timmy,

Someone at dinner tonight mentioned Ken Lay’s statements and found them encouraging. I reminded him of something Tim Keller talks about - there are 3 ways, The Gospel Way, The Religious Way, and Man’s Way. Ken Lay has chosen “Religious Way” - let’s hope and pray he finds the “Gospel Way”/5/26/2006 07:49:00 PM|W|P|Blogger Timmy|W|P|Chris,

I am not familiar with Keller's three ways, but I will check into that. The reason why I find it discouraging because of how God and Scripture is being used today. While there are some obviously deplorable things done in mockery of Christianity (Da Vinci code, Madonna on a cross, etc.), I think this subtle tactic is no less troubling for me because it does not appear on the radar screen for most Christians. Rather, simply because he can quote the Bible and invoke the name of God in his plea, Christians are blindly giving him pity. I just don't see it.5/25/2006 01:11:00 PM|W|P|Timmy Brister|W|P|Why? God spare us from such embarrassments.|W|P|114858085889502970|W|P|Why?|W|P|timmybrister@gmail.com5/25/2006 01:43:00 PM|W|P|Blogger Gavin Brown|W|P|I also did a post on this ridiculous/hilarious story.

From my blog:

"Pride may go before a fall, but in Robertson's case, it may go before a broken femur."

I also linked the video from CBN's website of him doing leg presses.5/25/2006 01:47:00 PM|W|P|Blogger Timmy|W|P|Gavin,

Great quote! I guess the question is, then,

"Is there anything Pat Robertson cannot do?"

Weather forecasting - check.
Leg pressing 2000 lbs - check.
Embarrassing all Christians worldwide - check.

"With men nothing is possible, but with Pat Robertson all things are possible."

Or, "Is there anything too hard for me?"5/25/2006 03:54:00 PM|W|P|Blogger Shannon Mckenzie|W|P|couldn't we all lift a lot more with only a six inch range of motion?5/25/2006 04:19:00 PM|W|P|Blogger Timmy|W|P|Yeah, it kind of reminds me of back in the day when we had to do push ups in P.E. Some kids would barely bend their elbows and do like 100 push-ups and get their "physical fitness award" for excellence. I was always intrigued by the size of their muscles.

I really would like to see Pat Robertson flex his legs on time for me like those body builders do. You know, with hands behind their head, abs tightened,with one leg in front of the other. I can see it now . . .5/27/2006 02:45:00 PM|W|P|Blogger gaw|W|P|Sorry, I missed the part where Pat claimed to do 30 reps at 2,000 with a full range of motion. The fact that he made no such claim does not invalidate the claim that he did one rep with a limited range of motion.

Even so, I'll lay that aside... does anyone here doubt that the video of PR lifting 1,000 pounds is legitimate? Don't give me that "full range" garbage, or dismiss it with claims that he used his hands on his knees... Does the video show Pat Robertson lifting 1,000 pounds under his own strength, or is it bogus?5/25/2006 05:31:00 AM|W|P|Timmy Brister|W|P|Yesterday the Associated Baptist Press reported that Mark Dever, "a neo-Calvinist" (what is that?) may face Keith Fordham in the race for 1st VP of the SBC. According to the ABP reporter, Dever will allow himself to be nominated. He turned down the opportunity to be nominated for president for a number of reasons, not the least of which was the time commitment. It's no secret that Dever is a key leader in the SBC and larger evangelical world. Having him in a leadership role in the SBC would be a healthy change, especially since he is not in the inner circle. One particular note of interest is the strikingly different views of evangelism and conversion these two men hold. To read about Fordham's view, go here, and for Dever's view of extending invitations, consider the following quotations in his book The Deliberate Church. This excerpt is from the chapter "Doing Responsible Evangelism."
When we invite them [people to believe], we need to make sure that they cannot confuse any other response with the only saving response. The stakes are high here, because if we allow ambiguity on this point, then we're actually helping deceive people about their own spiritual state by encouraging them to be assured of their salvation when they may not have genuinely repented or believed at all. The two responses that seem to be most commonly confused with genuine repentance and belief today are praying a prayer with someone and coming forward at a church service. (52) We are wiser to discontinue ambiguous evangelistic practices rather than allow them to continue confusing people as to what constitutes a saving response to the Gospel. Granted, allowing ambiguity may increase the numbers on our membership rolls. But it deceives unsaved people into thinking they are saved--the cruel hoax of all. It also wreaks havoc on the purity of our churches and their corporate testimonies, allowing into our membership many professing Christians who are later discovered not to be Christians at all because they eventually revert to lifestyles that simply cannot characterize a true Christian convert. (53-54)
Evan May, a fellow contributor to SBF, has written an article on the interview with Fordham which I highly recommend. Our local churches in the SBC are in true need of reform, and the potential of having Dever in the leadership of the SBC could be a real opportunity to face the threats to the gospel of Jesus Christ and the healthiness and purity of the churches in our denomination.|W|P|114855450239066168|W|P|Mark Dever Confirms Veep Nomination|W|P|timmybrister@gmail.com5/25/2006 10:59:00 PM|W|P|Blogger D.R.|W|P|I don't get why ABP labeled Dever a "neo-Calvinist," but I did find some symbolance of a definition on Wikipedia, though the links might be more beneficial. Still, why not just call Dever a Calvinist? Why the emphasis on "neo"? Of course I am always suspect of ABP because of their agenda, so maybe I am reading into this too much. Maybe I should just email the writer and ask.5/26/2006 04:18:00 AM|W|P|Blogger Timmy|W|P|Daniel,

I still don't get the "neo-Calvinist" deal. If Dever is anything, he is a classical Calvinist. Knowing Dever in the most superficial sense reveals that he is not "neo" in any sense of the word. It may just be that the reporter neither knows Dever nor the definition of a neo-Calvinist (and if one uses such a term, don't you think it necessary to qualify it?).

SBC Slang:
Neo-Calvinist
Hyper-Calvinist
Extreme Calvinist

What's next?
Super Duper Calvinist?5/26/2006 11:23:00 AM|W|P|Blogger Alex F|W|P|In the article on the other guy there are several gems. Let's just take one example:

The evangelist is the harvester. Faithful pastors can preach the Word of God for months and Sunday School teachers expound the Word week after week with little visible results, but evangelists can often come in and draw the net and people respond."

Who needs expository preaching and discipleship? Just bring in this guy! OK I can't resist another:

"Evangelists typically send revival preparation manuals that are tested and proven. Thorough preparation will result in more conversions, greater attendance, more stirring in the church, more praying and witnessing. Furthermore, by using a harvest evangelist you can almost be assured that someone will be saved."

Yikes! So basically its Charles Finney vs. Dever, eh?5/26/2006 02:46:00 PM|W|P|Blogger Timmy|W|P|The SBC Shakedown . . .

In the blue corner:

Charles Finney
Keith Fordham

In the red corner:

Charles Spurgeon
Mark Dever5/27/2006 02:59:00 AM|W|P|Blogger D.R.|W|P|Sounds more like a Steel-Caged, No Holds Barred, Loser Leave Home Grudge Match. My money's on Spurgeon-Dever. I don't know about Fordham, but I think Finney was kind of weeney, more like a Jimmy Hart than a Bill "Superstar" Dundee.5/27/2006 08:54:00 AM|W|P|Blogger Timmy|W|P|I don't think this is a "match made in heaven" to use Ascol's terms, although it would be a good promotional for Ted Dibiase's Power Wrestling Alliance. So who is the Vince McMahan of the SBC?

Could this be the SBC becoming "all things to all SBCers?"5/27/2006 07:35:00 PM|W|P|Blogger Alex F|W|P|This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.5/25/2006 05:08:00 AM|W|P|Timmy Brister|W|P|On May 1, 2006, Strange BaptistFire was launched for the purpose of addressing the numerous lies and misrepresentations which came from the website called BaptistFire. BaptistFire has been used in the past to divide churches, oust ministers, and fuel anti-Reformed sentiment in the SBC. On May 11, 2006, BaptistFire suddenly disappeared less than two weeks of SBF having started. The response to SBF exceeded any of our expectations, and it appears that the folks of BaptistFire picked up on this. While no one really knows why or how BaptistFire disappeared (BaptistFire is notorious for anonymity), it looks like they are not coming back. I intentionally did not post anything immediately as I did not want to respond presumptuously to their disappearance. It could very well be that they do not want us to have access to their articles, comments, and resources which would be the target of our future posts (we still were able to grab a little info from caches, copied articles, and previous posts). Here we are on May 25, 2006, just two weeks since BaptistFire cleaned their slate. Regardless of what happens to BaptistFire, Strange BaptistFire does not plan on going away. Honestly, I have mixed feelings about their exit from the Internet. In one sense I am exceedingly relieved that they are gone so that they can no longer distort the truth and destroy churches; however, in another sense, I kind of wish they hung around a little bit so that a presentation of biblical truth and defense of the faith could be given in light of what they had said in the past. People who have been skeptical towards bloggers or critical of the influence of blogging should take note of what has happened in the past year. Just in the SBC, significant impact has been made in the SBC including the IMB, Lifeway, SBC polity, ecclesiology, and most recently the presidential nomination. To this list one must include BaptistFire, and while one cannot rejoice over their departure, one can certainly be relieved that these anonymous folks who refused to dialogue have abandoned their posts . . . and hopefully for good.|W|P|114855290587171461|W|P|Two Weeks and Counting . . .|W|P|timmybrister@gmail.com5/25/2006 11:03:00 PM|W|P|Blogger D.R.|W|P|Unlike you Tim, I am glad to see them gone. I had a friend who attacked me with BaptistFire when I was just out of seminary. He wasted a lot of my time on that garbage, never listening to anything but what they had to say. Now, at least there is hope that other Southern Baptists won't type "Calvinism" into Google and find their misleading junk. But I do hope you guys stick around. BTW, did you know there is now a BaptistFire.net? I just discovered them yesterday.5/26/2006 04:28:00 AM|W|P|Blogger Timmy|W|P|Yeah, we found out about BaptistFire.net when we were Googling around trying to get some more goods on BaptistFire.com. Go to their apologetics page and click on Calvinism. They have some really good stuff there. The only part of the site I have issues with is the "free ticket to heaven" gospel pitch. Here I think their soteriology should affect their methodology. Maybe we can get to know these guys. We'll see.5/24/2006 04:28:00 AM|W|P|Timmy Brister|W|P|

A couple of weeks ago, James White announced that the debate thesis proposed by the Caner brothers was the following:

Resolved: That God is an Omnibenevolent God to all of humanity through salvation and opportunity.

James White said, “The Caners are insisting upon using a thesis statement that has no meaning. It is not even written in proper English. It could be used and defended by a Unitarian Universalist. They refuse to use a thesis statement I have proposed that is clear and unambiguous.” Tom Ascol also replied thus, “Now, if you can explain exactly what is being asserted here, please let me know.” White and Ascol are no unlearned men, so when I heard that they were unaware of the term of “omnibenevolence” and its usage, I thought I would do some investigation and research on the subject.

Interestingly enough, not a single evangelical theologian has addressed the doctrine of omnibenevolence nor can you find it in any theological dictionary. This is precisely because it has not been considered historically a theological term. Rather, its basis is philosophically grounded. A brief description is provided by Wikipedia, although its weak definitions and descriptions show just how vague and nondescript this term really is. So where does the Caner’s get the idea of “an omnibenevolent God?” Here you must delve into the Arminian playbook (i.e. Geisler’s Chosen but Free and Hunt’s What Love Is This?) which I reveal in the days ahead.

It just so happens that a great deal of my personal research and studies is in the area of religious pluralism, inclusivism, and open theism. I don’t claim to have exhausted all the resources available, but I can say that the only folks who have argued for an omnibenevolent God besides contemporary Arminianism are Open Theists/Inclusivists and Universalists. This puts the Caners in a peculiar predicament. Their premise is not even considered orthodox to begin with (to a large degree). Furthermore, whatever basis is given for omnibenevolence in current writing is mere synthesis of philosophical assertions. I personally don’t know if I want to make a thesis statement that is unfounded in church history, unwritten by evangelical scholars, defended by heretical teachings, and supported by mere philosophical assertions. But then again, I am not the dean of theology either. I am just a seminary student trying to do my homework.

I have laid out a lengthy outline for the purpose of providing a sustained research and investigation into the idea of an omnibenevolent God. I also will be ask leading evangelical scholars about this idea and trying to ascertain some contemporary analysis and input from them as well. At this point, I am not planning on providing a critique publicly because of the upcoming debate and the possibility of this thesis being upheld (at least by the silent treatment). I will, however, provide quotes and annotations that I think are related to this issue. If you have any sources or input dealing with the topic of omnibenevolence, please let me know.

|W|P|114846313373040135|W|P|Addressing "Omnibenevolence"|W|P|timmybrister@gmail.com5/24/2006 10:23:00 AM|W|P|Blogger Gavin Brown|W|P|Tim,

I have been following this story from afar, having read the the exchange between White/Ascol and the Caners and reading quite a few comment threads. Omnibenevolence seems to imply an abscence of wrath and justice...seems very EC.

I look forward to hearing your thoughts on the subject.5/24/2006 01:36:00 PM|W|P|Blogger Timmy|W|P|Gavin,

Thanks for the comment. I don't know if it can be EC or not, given that the EC movement is so undefined and multi-faceted. For instance, there is a conservative theological end of the EC which would not hold the omnibenevolence as understood by Open Theists or Universalists. Then again, in the same camp there are those who have an anti-doctrinal doctrinal statement. Some feel like you need to embrace postmodernism, others don't. Thirdly, they don't really define themselves in orthodoxy as much as they do in orthopraxy. Therefore, theology is not a front-burner issue (unfortunately); rather, living your life like Jesus, reaching your world and culture with the gospel, and engaging other Christians to love their neighbor as theirselves is the predominant focus (IMO). I am not in the EC, so my take may not be the "insiders" position, but that's how I see it nonetheless.

I can't help but chuckle a little bit when I study omnibenevolence. The Caners I think chose this because they thought they could pin Ascol and White down with their position on the "love of God" while they have pitted themselves with those outside the bounds of orthodoxy. How ironic!

This thesis is obviously crafted to be slam Calvinists by saying that we don't believe John 3:16 and that God loves everyone. However, the charge is superficial, and if it has any substance, it is with hyper-Calvinism and not Calvinism. But then again, any form of true Calvinism in the eyes of Arminians today is hyper-Calvinism.5/24/2006 02:03:00 PM|W|P|Blogger Gavin Brown|W|P|I think you are right about the Caners. They most likely will argue that God is omnibenevolent, and therefore anyone who believes the doctrines of grace believes that God sends infants to hell or some other ridiculous (and erronious) line of logic.

Their proof texts will likely be few and far between and will only get louder as the debate unfolds.5/24/2006 02:15:00 PM|W|P|Blogger R. Mansfield|W|P|I did a search for "omnibenevolence" through all my tools in Accordance. This is what I found:

"omnibenevolence. The quality of being completely good. Omnibenevolence is one of the traditional attributes of God and is thought to be necessarily possessed by a God who is perfect."
--from the IPV Pocket Dictionary of Apologetics and Philosophy of Religion, ed. by Stephen B. Evans.

In the Spring 1978 issue of the Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, there's an article by Michael Peterson entitled, "Christian Theism and the Problem of Evil." In the article Peterson uses the term as part of the overall discussion. He doesn't define it, but he does state, "omni-benevolence is opposed to evil and always seeks to eliminate it completely" (p. 39).

In the Trinity Journal (Fall 1980), Paul Feinberg wrote an article entitled "And the Atheist Shall Lie Down with the Calvinist: Atheism, Calvinism and the Free Will Defense." In the article, a reference is made to "theistic systems that hold to omnipotence, omnibenevolence, and evil" (p. 144), but there's no elaboration on the term itself.

In the Dec. 2003 issue of the Conservative Theological Journal, Tony Hines refers to omnibenevolence as "a key characteristic of the theistic God" (p. 323).

The fact that omnibenevolence is used in the three journal articles without definition says to me to me that it is an accepted term. Further, the reality of omnibenevolence as an attribute of God does not discount the reality of God's wrath and judgment any more than to say God is merciful would also exlude his wrath or judgment.

And do I even need to point out that two of the three journal articles quoted above were written before the advent of either the Emergent Church movement or Open Theism, and thus the term cannot be attributed to either of these lines of thought.

Does Scripture not recognize God's omnibenevolence, that is his goodness shown forth to all whether they belong to him or not?

“Are not you Israelites
the same to me as the Cushites?”
declares the Lord.
“Did I not bring Israel up from Egypt,
the Philistines from Caphtor
and the Arameans from Kir?”
(Amos 9:7, TNIV)

“For He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” (Matt 5:45, HCSB)

And is it fair for you to call Geisler an Arminian when he does not claim that title for himself (he calls himself a moderate Calvinist)? Well, maybe you didn't call HIM that, but you referred to his book as part of the "Arminian playbook." Pardon me, but I just hate labels because people tend to use labels in perjorative ways to write off people and positions instead of truly interacting with them.

And does the term "omnibenevolence" get written off by you if it is "philosophically grounded" as you say? As someone who was teaching a class in Philosophy and Christian Thought last night at IWU, I would remind you that philosophy and systematic theology are fraternal sisters, both under the umbrella of Christian thought. This is why I'm a member of the Evangelical Theological Society and the Evangelical Philosophical Society.

My point is this. Take your issue with the Caners if you will, but be careful about throwing out valid descriptions of God, especially descriptions that may not have been properly defined.5/24/2006 03:31:00 PM|W|P|Blogger Timmy|W|P|Rick,

Thanks for your thoughts. I will take them into consideration. However, I have to respectfully disagree. Omnibenevolence is not grounded in historical or systematic theology. You will not find it addressed in other attributes such as the omnipotence, omniscience, or omnisapience of God. It is simply not there.

Futhermore, your assertions about the omnibenevolence of God is addressing the providential love of God (if I may borrow that term from Carson) whereas the Caners which to make this God's salvific love toward everyone. They are not the same. The text you used about the rain falling on the just and the unjust is about God's providence in creation which connotes God's general love for what he has created. It cannot be assumed to have an salvific content therein.

As far as philosophy goes, I have great respect for that school of thought as I have much invested study and time into it. I make this point precisely because of how Arminians like the Caners say that Calvinism is the "doctrines of man" and are not biblical. They say we have "put God in a box" and limited him to five points or whatever. This is simply bogus. God busts every box when they are drawn not according to Scripture. And that is my point about omnibenevolence. It is philosophically grounded, not biblically grounded, and to make this the central thesis of your debate without any definitive proof text or exegesis is simply implausible.

Saying that three journal articles scantily mention omnibenevolence cannot assume that the term is accepted. Where is it defined or exposited? Furthermore, in the articles you mentioned, none of them refer to salvation (one to theodociy, and the other two to theology proper). The Caners are specifically mentioning the omnibenevolence of God with salvation in its context.

Geisler is no "moderate Calvinist." This is semantical play. Anyone who is a Calvinist in his terminology is an "extreme" Calvinist. This is simply to bias his argument in his favor. His labels are simply unfounded. Take his content and you will find him an Arminian plain and simple. If you don't like labels and consider them pejorative, then you might want to check with Mr. Geisler on that one. :)

You say that I have not interacted with Geisler. How do you know this?

Finally, I am not throwing out "valid descriptions of God." I have not thrown out anything to this point. I am stating that their usage of this "doctrine" (though still undefined) is being used in the same way Open Theists and Universalists do. Who has not properly defined this doctrine. Or, even still, who has properly defined it?

One quick correction: It was *John* Feinberg, not Paul who wrote that journal article in 1980.5/24/2006 03:43:00 PM|W|P|Blogger R. Mansfield|W|P|The distinction I would make is that omnibenevolence when generally used as a term is not referring to salvation, but in regard to God's goodness and mercy toward all. And the term usually seems to come up in discussions of theodicy.

In my comments, I was not responding to the Caners' use of the word (we'd have to ask them about that), but rather I was responding to what seemed like a quick dismissal of the idea of omnibenevolence on your part.

The idea is that a God who is good is perfectly good, thus omnibenevolence.

The syllogism would thus read:
1. God is perfect.
2. God is good.
3. God is perfectly good (omnibenevolence).

That doesn't mean that he saves all. Again, I would not use this word in terms of salvation, but more along the lines of the perfect providential love of God (I'm borrowing the phrase from you) for all as described in the two verses that I quoted.

Thanks for the Feinberg correction. How did I do that?5/24/2006 04:01:00 PM|W|P|Blogger Timmy|W|P|Concerning your quote,

“Are not you Israelites
the same to me as the Cushites?”
declares the Lord.
“Did I not bring Israel up from Egypt,
the Philistines from Caphtor
and the Arameans from Kir?”
(Amos 9:7, TNIV)

What is the argument here? "The same to me" in what sense? If to "bring up" is saying that God's love in bringing the Israelites to himself is the same as the Philistines and Arameans, then God is not a God of covenant. Rather, he is the universal God which has accepted everyone because of His love. Is this the argument here?

Let me refer you to another passage in Amos which I believe clarifies this:

"You only have I known of all the families of the earth" (Amos 3:2 - ESV).

So how does God know Israel only? Does He not know of the other countries and peoples of the earth? Absolutely. But he does not know them because he has "set His affection on them." His knowledge is experiential, covenantal, and loving to His elect in a way that is not with the rest of mankind. This is also true for the Church in the new covenant. Therefore, the argument of omnibenevolence or universal love works in the sense that God knows all the people and loves all that he has made (in that it was good), but he does not love everyone the same way or in the same sense.5/24/2006 04:09:00 PM|W|P|Blogger Timmy|W|P|I agree that the term omnibenevolence can mean God's universal love for mankind in a general sense. However, we cannot overlook the reality that mankind in sinful rebellion is under the wrath of God and awaiting His judgment unless God set His affection on them in choosing them out of his lovingkindess and purpose to save them. The love of God is thus so strikingly demonstrated that the one offended chooses to love the offender and take his place in judgment and condemnation by dying in their place. This amazing love that Jesus would die for sinners, not because they are worthy or merited such love, but because of God's unfathomable mercies manifested in Christ Jesus.

The question is multi-faceted, then, regarding the atonement and God's love. This is what I will address mostly, but I really do not want to go into detail now as I have more study to do, and for the sake of the debate, I am going to keep critique of this position with reserve to those in the debate. In other words, I don't want them to find the work and try to come up with a defense for it. :)5/24/2006 04:18:00 PM|W|P|Blogger Timmy|W|P|So I guess my question then would be,
"If God loves everyone the same, and not everyone is saved, then *why* are some saved and others not?"

This is where the debate, I think, will take place. Arminians will say because they chose not to be saved, but they had the opportunity nonetheless. So their salvation is ultimately and deterministically left in the hands of the sinner who is in rebellion against God, not God who is love and manifests His love to His people.

What is more loving? Making salvation possible, or saving people who cannot save themselves? Herein is God's electing love in predestining sinners which Arminians refuse to believe. Jesus made it clear that all that the Father gave to him will come to him, and it is the Father's will that he lose none of them. So in question here is not only God's love, but also God's omnipotence and Christ's obedience to the will of the Father. God has given (i.e. chosen for salvation) some to believe. Christ dies for them, and the Spirit applies this salvation to the sinner. This is a Trinitarian work of love. On the other hand, the Arminians hold that a loving God only makes salvation possible for a sinner. One is Trinitarian with the full expression of God's love; the other is Unitarian with a general expression of God's love. There is a striking difference here. But this is just touching the surface . . .5/24/2006 04:20:00 PM|W|P|Blogger R. Mansfield|W|P|Tim,

I want to be careful that you and I don't argue over things that we don't actually disagree on. My only point in quoting the passage from Amos was to create an OT parallel to Matt 5:45. God in his perfect goodness performs acts of goodness on the righteous and the unrighteous, the penitent and the unrepentant, his people and those who are not his people.

As for the Cushites, the Philistines, and the Arameans, the fact that they rejected God in light of his goodness to them will show on the day of judgment that they are without excuse.

Going back to the issue of God's omnibenevolence (that is, God's perfect goodness or God's perfect love), I think if you dig a bit further, you will find this to be a classical category of God's attributes reflected not just in the Bible, but in the Church Fathers (especially Augustine) in the Reformers and in modern theology. One can hold to the idea of omnibenevelence without resorting to universalism or anything akin to it.5/24/2006 04:28:00 PM|W|P|Blogger Timmy|W|P|Rick,

You said:
"As for the Cushites, the Philistines, and the Arameans, the fact that they rejected God in light of his goodness to them will show on the day of judgment that they are without excuse."

Amen. I agree.

When referring to omnibenevolence, one way of thinking about it is God's pefection in love, similar to God's perfection in his goodness (as you have stated). However, my question is how this love is applied and expressed in creation, humanity, and in particular salvation.

Evangelicals and orthodoxy teaching simply has not addressed omnibenevolence outside theology proper. This is where I believe the Caners have followed the path of those outside the bounds of orthodoxy. Tomorrow I will provide a quote where I believe the Caners might have developed their thesis.

You are correct that one can hold to omnibenevolence and not resort to universalism or Open Theism, yet the fact remains that those who stake a claim to it today are those outside orthodox teaching and seek to apply it beyond theology proper. All I am saying is that the Caners' have positioned themselves in their thesis to use the same argumentation and reasoning as those in the universalist camp and Open Theism camp. I don't think they fully realized the implications of such a thesis.5/25/2006 02:55:00 AM|W|P|Blogger Philip S Taylor|W|P|Manual of Theology by JL Dagg. Book Second - Doctrine Concerning God, Section VII: Goodness.

God Is Infinitely Benevolent
Dagg then provides Exodus 34:6, Psalm 103:2-8, Zecheriah 9:17, Matthew 7:11, Luke 2:14, Luke 12:32, Romans 5:8 and 1 John 4:8.

He says "Benevolence is love in intention or disposition".5/25/2006 04:43:00 AM|W|P|Blogger Timmy|W|P|Thank you Phillip! I just read the passage you referred to in Dagg. Intriguing how he described God's goodness in terms of his love as distinguished in "benevolence, beneficence, or complacence." These terms are rarely used today, as I think the "love of God" has taken wholesale interpretation. Thanks again for contributing to this research.5/25/2006 08:29:00 AM|W|P|Blogger Gavin Brown|W|P|It should be pointed out that White and Ascol were just as baffled about how 'omnibenevolence' would be defined in the context of the upcoming debate on Calvinism.5/23/2006 05:42:00 AM|W|P|Timmy Brister|W|P|This past Friday, my good friend Brad Hughes graduated from Southern Seminary and will be leaving for Georgia to run for the U.S. House of Representatives for the 2nd Congressional District (he is more widely known as the editor-in-chief at P&P). His roommate and long-time friend James Risner is going to accompany Brad this summer and will assist in his campaign. The big day is November 7, so there is a lot of work to do. Rumor has it that Brad has put off his campaign work until the end of American Idol :) Consequently, he won't be leaving until Thursday. If you have any campaign advice, leave a comment as I plan on being at his apartment tonight to watch the competition with he and others who know way more about it than I do.

On a more serious note, Brad mentioned that he will be updating all of us who are rooting for him on his blog a couple of times during the week. I must say that I will miss Brad as he has become a dear brother to me over the past year, but I know that the Lord has great things in store for him in the future. Please keep him in your prayers as he takes on what could possibly be the greatest challenge of his life.

Now to the American Idol . . . Let the guy from Alabama who has gray hair win. What' s his name again? (By the way, the nerd with the pen at the baseball stadium is me; the other guy is Brad.)

|W|P|114838124688217485|W|P|Congrats Brad! Now Get To Work!|W|P|timmybrister@gmail.com5/23/2006 04:56:00 AM|W|P|Timmy Brister|W|P|Tad Thompson of Total Truth recently submitted some questions to Frank Page, one of the two candidates to be nominated for the SBC presidency. Page has answered them as well as provided a press release which goes into more details. While I disagree with Page on his soteriology, I have respect for him to answer the questions candidly and considerately (I have been told that his position on Calvinism has been mollified since his book). In other SBC news, BP has reported that evangelist Keith Fordham will be nominated for first vice-president of the SBC. Honestly, I have no idea what a 1st VP does, so I really have no interest in this deal. However, if you want to read an article that is provocative, go here. Also, David Hankins, executive director of the Louisiana Baptist Convention, wrote a first-person column in BP called "Cooperative Program at the Crossroads." He was but one on the committee that drafted the CP Ad Hoc Report and makes his case for the CP.|W|P|114837908039437308|W|P|Frank Page Answers Questions, Veep Nomination Announced|W|P|timmybrister@gmail.com5/22/2006 09:38:00 PM|W|P|Timmy Brister|W|P|

Well, after 9,319 words, 19 pages, and 8 posts dealing with the SBC, I think this prayer has spoken for my heart. It is called "Journeying On" and is found in the Valley of Vision.

LORD OF THE CLOUD AND THE FIRE,

I am a stranger, with a stranger’s indifference; My hands hold a pilgrim’s staff, My march is Zionward, My eyes are toward the coming of the Lord, My heart is in thy hands without reserve. Thou hast created it, redeemed it, renewed it, captured it, conquered it. Keep from it every opposing foe, crush in it every rebel lust, mortify every treacherous passion, annihilate every earthborn desire. All faculties of my being vibrate to thy touch; I love thee with soul, mind, body, strength, might, spirit, affection, will, desire intellect, understanding. Thou art the very perfection of all perfections; All intellect is derived from thee; My scanty rivulets flow from thy unfathomable fountain. Compared with thee the sun is darkness, all beauty deformity, all wisdom folly, the best goodness faulty. Thou art worthy of an adoration greater than my dull heart can yield; Invigorate my love that is may rise worthily to thee, tightly entwine itself around thee, be allured by thee. Then shall my walk be endless praise.

Ah, just when I needed some perspective from the Puritans! This is the panting of my heart and the prayer for my day. I hope you are as encouraged by it as I have been.|W|P|114835214230544144|W|P|Journeying On|W|P|timmybrister@gmail.com5/24/2006 04:29:00 PM|W|P|Blogger Broadstone|W|P|Good stuff. Glad you have continued to write and link for us on this topic. This too is ministry.

Sent an email to a yahoo address you had given to an Elijah a few days back...I hope you received the invitation.

Grace and Peace,

Kelly Bridenstine5/22/2006 12:00:00 PM|W|P|Timmy Brister|W|P|

A couple of articles have intrigued me to the point to make this post. First, I read Dr. Floyd’s article called “Why I Am Permitting Myself to be Nominated as the President of the Southern Baptist Convention” and the other was “Piece of Mind” from the Arkansas Democrat Gazette. I know this is long, but please bear with me. :)

In his article, Floyd gave this as a reason number two for “permitting” himself to be nominated:

I love the diversity of our church, and the people called Southern Baptists are very diverse as a people. Within our nation alone, every week our churches across America worship in several different languages of the world. The personalities and cultures are different, as well as models of innovation. Yet, we are united in our one great purpose, which is to mobilize our churches to reach their respective regions, our nation, and the entire world with the Good News of Jesus Christ. Due to our diversity, I am not sure one man can represent all Southern Baptists as President, but I am very certain that one man can serve all Southern Baptists, which is my intention if I am elected.

This is great, but what about theological diversity? Ethno-linguistic diversity is a beautiful thing, and I don’t think there is any real issue or controversy with the differing cultures or languages in the SBC, but there is a real issue with theological diversity. Why didn’t Floyd address his position on Calvinism and Arminianism? What if Open Theism creeps into the SBC? Will this be considered “diversity?” Consider what he said earlier in an interview with Baptist Press:

Floyd responded to other issues that have infused the conversations of Southern Baptists in recent months -- increased sensitivity to the presence of Calvinism among Southern Baptists and the practice of private prayer language, which many equate to speaking in tongues. He offered that whatever the theological issue, “If it does not help ignite a greater passion for the Word and the greater passion to reach the world, then we have to evaluate the positions we hold.” Floyd said some Southern Baptists may hold Calvinist beliefs, but that the threat was a “hyper” form of Calvinism that has a spirit of condemnation. “My whole thought processes on that will be ... we know it’s an issue,” he said. “How big of an issue? I have no way to know. I do think it’s important that somehow, some way, that we recognize the good that exists in whatever people believe and try our very best to come together to discuss what we can do together and believe together. The more we split hairs on various matters, the less effective we’re going to be in carrying forth our mission.” (emphasis mine)

In his response, Floyd basically says that if one’s theological position harms the mission, then it needs to be reevaluated. Second, he goes on to make some baseless statement about hypercalvinism. Thirdly, he mentions “splitting hairs” which is an anti-intellectual turnoff for anyone passionate biblical truth. If the gospel didn’t contain biblical truth, if Jesus didn’t say “I am the truth” and if the church is not the “pillar and buttress of truth,” then yes I wouldn’t care about theology either. But that is simply not the case. My point is that Floyd skirts around a central point of interest with ambiguity and fails to even mention theological diversity in his reason for permitting himself to be president. When will he actually address this issue (if ever)?

Now to my second point and Floyd’s fourth reason:

I believe in our cooperative effort through the Cooperative Program of the SBC, which our church has given over $3.4 million to over the last 10 years for the mission causes of our denomination. In fact, let me state what has happened over the past five years and is happening this year as well: we have increased our Cooperative Program gifts 8% annually over the past five years and are doing so in our present budget this year. This 8% increase represents the amount of both Cooperative Program allocation areas; to Arkansas ($32,000) and to SBC in Nashville ($189,000) which totals $221,000 towards the Cooperative Program. With other SBC allocations, this combines to total $489,000 last year. This 8% increase to the Cooperative Program has happened while we planned and are now in the final stages of construction on two major building projects and expansions that are taking place on both campuses at a cost of $38.5 million. We are a church that is very committed to the Cooperative Program and believe in the cooperative effort to share the Good News of Jesus globally.

I think we need to enter the “No Spin Zone” hear (my apologies to Bill O’Reilly). The spinsters of the SBC in the theological beltway have been hitting the press to make a patch-job PR movement regarding the CP and FBC Springdale. Floyd argues that Springdale has increased their giving by 8% over the past five years to the CP. According to the stats, FBC Spingdale gave $32,000 to the CP with the previous year being $312,226. Why the change? Why the drop of $280,226? From the year 2000 to 2005, the church’s undesignated receipts went from $7,392,331 in 2000 to $11,952,137 which is a difference of $4,559,806—a 38.2% increase. During that same time, the giving to the CP went from $474,927 in 2000 to $32,000 in 2005 which is a difference of $442,927—a 93% drop. Now, it remains to be said what “other SBC allocations” or “SBC causes” are, but they can hardly be figured up as CP giving (which Floyd lumps together). In other places it has been argued that Springdale spent over $2 million on missions and evangelism last year. Floyd does not mention this because it is money being spent on missions outside the CP which overshadows the mere $32,000 being given to the CP.

The point I am trying to make here is that Springdale is a lot like many mega-churches in the SBC who have sought to do missions outside the CP and IMB. This trend is dangerous and counter-cooperative. Furthermore, more emphasis is being placed on short-term mission trips and long-term missionaries. This has occurred as churches have attempted to load their missional resume’s with x many mission trips and x number of conferences, and on and on. Last year, I wrote an article called Missions: The Ecclesiastical Catch-All for Special Interests. While I don’t think everything I said pertains to this particular situation, the trend is nonetheless there and should be addressed.

To my third point and Floyd’s eighth reason:

The next generation is what ignites my heart when I think about serving as the President of this denomination. I believe in the next generation. This denomination must engage all generations to invest in generations to come. In our own seminaries alone, we are equipping over 15,000 future young leaders to infiltrate our churches and the world with doctrinal integrity, local church commitment, relevance in engaging the culture, and burning with a commitment to finish the task worldwide. Beyond these students, our churches right now have many young leaders who can assist us in many ways right now. They need to know who we are and what we are about. We must hand forth to them a vision they can believe in that will carry on the great work that was handed off to us by generations in the past. This is a new day. We must step up to it as well as serve and lead a future that is aggressive and ever-changing. I believe the need of the hour is for us to have orthodoxy packaged in innovation. Our churches as well as our denomination itself need to know and find a way a way to be culturally relevant, yet never sacrifice the Scripture nor any of its precious truths. When we do this together, the future is unlimited and God-sized.

I along with many other bloggers, are a part of that next generation. We are passionate about gospel mission, the SBC, and living Godward lives for His glory. I am also a seminary student being trained in missions. When Floyd ignored the questions of bloggers as provided by Tad Thompson, one was forced to question whether or not he was really interested in us. Anyone can run a fire-walled campaign where the interviews are in a controlled environment and coupled with a PR campaign of staged endorsement by those in the SBC Inner Circle. Floyd made the following statement:

“I want to believe what comes out in verbal communication to me from people who are in the situation rather than people who blog,” he said. “I would trust writers who have invested and given fair evaluation of a situation.... But I’m not going to let someone’s blog weigh my situation one way or another.” (emphasis mine)

Who are the “people who are in the situation?” And why pit them against “people who blog?” Last time I checked, Dr. Floyd had a blog of his own, so is he not in the situation? How can Floyd predetermine that bloggers have no “invested” or “fair evaluation” of a situation? It appears that he is only giving attention to those who agree with him. Thirdly, he said that he was “not going to let someone’s blog weigh” in on the situation. Ironically so, seldom has a day passed where the Sitemeter has not revealed IP addressed from the server from First Baptist Springdale, Arkansas. Furthermore, Baptist Press, the Arkansas Democrat Gazette, and other media outlets are picking up on the impact of bloggers in the SBC.

To conclude this point, let me say that the bloggers whom Dr. Floyd does not trust and thinks are not in the situation are not just bloggers, but fellow pastors, ministers, seminarians, and SBCers. We ARE a part of this process, and we have a right to be concerned. It is not a helpful thing to the younger generation of SBCers to write them off because they are not one-sided. Maybe a better relationship could be fostered if Dr. Floyd did actually answer a question or two and stop pretending that he is not paying attention to what is being said.

Finally, to my fourth point and Floyd’s ninth and last reason:

I believe the greatest need in the American church and in SBC life is a fresh spiritual movement of God among us. If I am elected, I will passionately invite all Southern Baptists to join me in a desperate call to a spiritual movement that is Bible-based, Jesus-centered, and Holy Spirit-controlled. This must begin within each Christian personally, which would result in churches experiencing this kind of spiritual movement. This is the hope and answer for the present condition of the American church, the SBC in all relationships, ministry functions and existent needs, every Pastor and Spiritual Leader in our nation, every church within our convention. The degree to which it occurs will determine the expansion of the gospel of Jesus regionally, nationally, and globally. Every Pastor and Spiritual Leader within their context of leadership will be invited to join me in making this passionate and desperate call to the church and to our denomination. Since we have been entrusted as the denomination that is heralded as the largest in the evangelical and Protestant world, we have no other choice than to experience this kind of spiritual movement for the sake of billions of people in the world. My love for the church, our nation, and the expansion of the gospel worldwide, is the reason I am permitting my name to be placed in nomination to serve as the next President of the Southern Baptist Convention, if elected. I pray that whoever is called upon to serve as the next President will see the urgency and need to passionately lead and invite all Southern Baptists to experience a mighty movement of God as well as lead our convention through the challenges we face today. When this is done, we will finish the task to take the gospel to every people group across the globe in our generation.

Amen, Dr. Floyd. The SBC needs a fresh spiritual movement among us. We need reform to take place, beginning with the local church. Interestingly enough, I did not find anything mentioned about regenerate church membership or church discipline as a part of that movement. At this years convention, a resolution Dr. Tom Ascol has been submitted called Resolution on Integrity in Reporting which I hope Dr. Floyd will support.

In conclusion, let me mention what Floyd said in the Baptist Press article about the “good ole’ boy” system in the SBC and the younger Generation of SBCers. He said:

He positioned the situation as less an issue relating to just a younger generation as much as it crosses all generations, but that he understands at the core some people do not feel that they have a voice in the convention. Floyd was adamant that the answer is to create venues for people to feel like they are being heard. (emphasis mine)

Well, there should be “venues for people to feel like they are being heard,” and predominant among them have been SBC bloggers. Unfortunately, it appears that Dr. Floyd does not want to hear from us. He does not want to answer our questions nor does he think we are “in the situation.” I guess the good ole’ boy system lives after all.

I don’t think SBC bloggers are asking for much. We are told that we are not making an impact, yet mainstream media outlets seem to be quoting bloggers almost daily. We are told that they won’t listen to us, but somehow their IP address appears almost daily on our blogs. My mind has been brought back to why I first began blogging in the first place. I saw the impact that blogs had on “Rathergate” and how the media was following the work of bloggers. It appears this may be happening again. Floyd wrote that he liked accountability and that he was not threatened by it. If that is the case, then he will not think that he is being threatened by SBC bloggers. It is amazing that those who simply have questions or call for accountability among the highest offices in the SBC are castigated and demonized for having done such. Well, the SBC bloggers may not ever get their questions answer or their seat at the table, but in my opinion, they are doing some of the greatest work in the SBC.

|W|P|114831776569530096|W|P|SBC Bloggers, Ronnie Floyd, and "Impact"|W|P|timmybrister@gmail.com5/21/2006 03:31:00 PM|W|P|Timmy Brister|W|P|* Frank Page, pastor of First Baptist Church in Taylors, SC has announced that he has accepted the nomination for president of the SBC. Info about Page can be found here. Wes Kenney also provided a chart for the church's giving to the CP. While there are some questions about his views on Calvinism, he seems to be getting some support (including Wade Burleson). Also, Tad Thompson has posed similar questions to Page as he did with Dr. Floyd (which he did not answer). * Slice of Laodicea writes about the new idea of "Godcasting" and virtual sermons. As I have mentioned in the past, I am no fan of the multi-site campus church even though it appears to be the lastest move of the church growth movement. As one has asked, "I wonder if a video church meets the requirement of a New Testament Church?" * Tim Challies recently reviewed Mark Driscol's latest book Confessions of a Reformission Rev. and has sparked a lengthly discussion (160+ comments). The iMonk also recently reviewed this book as well (however his "truly reformed" addage is really annoying). * Joe Thorn has been interacting with Dr. Russell Mooore's article on Pop Culture found in SBTS' recently released magazine. Steve McCoy points out that Moore mis-stated Ed Stetzer and makes a correction. * Mark Lauterbach wrote a helpful piece on Humility and Blog Slander. I think Mark's pastoral words are timely and should be welcomed by all bloggers. * Alex Forrest shares his frustration over Pat Robertson's latest prediction. It looks like Robertson is God's divine weather forecaster. * Daniel Randle recently had a lengthy exchange on the issue of homosexuality and the American Baptist Association's recent split. He has added additional thoughts here and here. * Gene Edward Veith shares about the situation at Patrick Henry College and why he is leaving WORLD Magazine. * Tom Ascol has reported on two of the most ridiculous forms of trying to be relevant with the gospel. I guess you can call this hyper-contextualization. The first has to do with NASCAR and the other with wrestling. Does these two have anything in common? * Marty Duren posts the Memphis Declaration which was drafted by 30 people earlier this month. I think some important things were said and encourage you to read it. * Mark Devine, new on the blogosphere, has written on Emergent's Anti-Doctrinal doctrinal statement. Funny yet true. The blogosphere is abuzzin' of late, and I will try to keep you up on some of the pertinent matters through frequenting "Quick Hits." Have a great week!|W|P|114824362329366860|W|P|Quick Hits :: May 21, 2006|W|P|timmybrister@gmail.com5/21/2006 04:21:00 PM|W|P|Blogger D.R.|W|P|Tim, thanks for the link. And I wanted to let you know that your first link on Gene Veith and the situation at PHC actually goes to my post as well.5/21/2006 04:54:00 PM|W|P|Blogger Timmy|W|P|Sorry about that Daniel! I will make the correction.5/21/2006 09:10:00 PM|W|P|Blogger Alex F|W|P|Page is supposedly a great guy, but is certainly no Calvinist. When he first came to Taylors (suburb of Greenville SC) his first Sunday night sermon series was "The Trouble with TULIP" or something like that - I believe he wrote a little booklet on the subject, actually.

That doesn't disqualify him, of course. As I said, I heard he's a great guy.5/21/2006 10:05:00 PM|W|P|Blogger Stephen Newell|W|P|I'm just dumbfounded at Page's comments. I'd say more, but I'm not gonna hijack your blog, bro. I gave this a treatment over at the Holocron.

And remember, I'm writing that post as a person who isn't a full Calvinist.5/22/2006 10:00:00 AM|W|P|Blogger Timmy|W|P|Yeah, I am aware of the book(let) that Page wrote called "The Trouble With Tulips." I tried to obtain a copy of it, but it is out of print. I don't think many copies were published. I did, however, find a guy who posted some quotes from his book which were very alarming.

Since that time, Page is said to have mollified his position on Calvinism, and let's hope he has. If he hasn't, then he could prove to be just as divisive as Johnny Hunt and Ergun Caner. I think he is supposed to come out with a statement on his position in the near future. I'll be looking out for it.5/20/2006 02:40:00 PM|W|P|Timmy Brister|W|P|Last week I picked up one of Banner of Truth’s latest releases called History of the English Calvinistic Baptists: 1771-1892 by Robert W. Oliver. After perusing through some of the book, I think this book will be really helpful to navigate through some of the controversies and developments during that time period. The front flyleaf explains the book this way:

The aim of this book is to trace the story of the English Calvinistic Baptists from the death of John Gill in 1771 to that of Charles Haddon Spurgeon in 1892. It deals not only with the well-known figures in this community’s history—theological giants like John Gill, Andrew Fuller, William Gadsby, and Charles Spurgeon—but also with lesser-known lights—men like the hymn writer Benjamin Beddome, the eccentric John Collett Ryland, Abraham Booth, and John Stevens. Wide and deep reading into the writings of these men has given Dr. Robert Oliver an excellent grasp of their various theological perspectives.

No Christian community is without its controversies, and the Calvinistic Baptists in the period covered by this book are no exception. Even-handedly and with one eye always on the Calvinistic Baptist roots in the seventeenth century—well summed up by The Second London Confession of Faith (1689)—the author details the controversies that at times wracked this community. Who may take the Lord’s Supper? What is the role of the law in the Christian life? Is there biblical warrant for making free offers of the gospel to all and sundry? None of these issues are minor matters and should not be ignored by Christians today. The thinking of these Baptist worthies is therefore still of great value.

Unlike some contemporary historians, Robert Oliver is rightly convinced that the development of the Strict and Particular strand of this community in the nineteenth century is not a stagnant backwater that is best forgotten. Even though the churches of this persuasion were not as balanced as their seventeenth and eighteenth-century forebears, there was a spiritual vitality to this group that needs remembering, and Oliver has given us a rich overview of the thought and activities of these English Calvinistic Baptists.

I have not had the time to read this book yet, but I have looked through the front and back matter. The appendices and especially the bibliography is well worth checking out as Oliver has provide a wealth of resources for further study. After having studied seventeenth century English Puritanism and the foundation of the Particular Baptist movement, I look forward to having a better of standing of future generations of such Baptists, how they thought and how they handled the issues in their day.

I encourage you, if you are interested in getting a better grasp of Baptist history (and in particular the roots of Calvinism in Baptist history), I encourage you to get this book. You can purchase it at Banner of Truth’s website, or if you are in Louisville at the Lifeway Bookstore on campus.

|W|P|114815422157935148|W|P|History of the English Calvinistic Baptists|W|P|timmybrister@gmail.com5/19/2006 04:37:00 AM|W|P|Timmy Brister|W|P|
{Click to enlarge}
Alright, so I have been holding off on this picture for some time now. Tim Challies told Marc and me that we could not catch him picking his nose, and well, with the help of all the paparazzi at the T4G Conference, we were able to get this image of Tim taking a break from typing 200 words per minute. I took this picture on the last session of the conference. Tim, have I told you how much I like you?
Here's the exif data for the photogs: Camera: Canon 20D Lens: 100-400mm IS USM Focal Length: 250mm Tv: 1/30 sec Av: f/5.0 ISO: 800 WB: Tungsten Steve McCoy, Joe Thorn, Joe Kennedy and Alex Forrest also post pics on Friday. I encourage you to check out their photography. For those interested in poetry, check out ColossiansThreeSixteen. Also, Will Turner has added some history to the Friday menu.|W|P|114803204942518476|W|P|POTW :: 05.19.06 :: Caught|W|P|timmybrister@gmail.com5/19/2006 04:29:00 AM|W|P|Timmy Brister|W|P|

This will probably be my last post on the SBC and the current issues related to its presidency. I had not intended to write all this, but as recent days unfolded, I felt that it was important to chime in. There have been some who have been reading blogs and have come to the conclusion that those being critical are somehow “anti-Floyd” or attacking him. This is simply not the case. Sure, there are some real, legitimate reasons why one should be concerned about some of the things Dr. Floyd has said and done, but there is no reason to think that he would be a fine president. But as I have stated earlier, the SBC needs exemplary leadership—and that not only from the president, but also from all of its denominational heads.

Two quotes have been ringing in my ears over the past couple of days. One is from Francis Schaeffer as quoted by Nancy Pearcey in her book Total Truth, and the other is from Morris Chapman from his blogpost “Diminishing Returns? I want to share them with you and add a little commentary as I believe the content of the comments are timely and true today. First, let’s hear from Francis Schaeffer:

“The central problem of our age is not liberalism or modernism,” Schaeffer writes—or even hot-button social issues like evolution, abortion, radical feminism, or homosexual rights. The primary threat to the church is the “tendency to do the Lord’s work in the power of the flesh rather than the Spirit.” Many church leaders crave a “big name,” he continues: They “stand on the backs of others” in order to achieve power, influence, and reputation—instead of exhibiting the humility of the Master who washed His disciples’ feet. They “ape the world” in its publicity and marketing techniques, manipulating people’s emotions to induce them to give more money. No wonder outsiders see little in the church that cannot be explained by ordinary sociological forces and principles of business management. And no wonder they find our message unconvincing.

As Pearcey continued in her observations of such who “ape the world,” she asked the question, “Where is the authenticity in all this?” and later repeated by asking, “Where is our passion for truth and authenticity?” These are good questions for the SBC. Where is the passion for authenticity? Where is the transparency in all of this?

Now to Morris Chapman who recently wrote this article as news that SBC leaders came out to endorse a presidential nominee. Just in the last week, Drs. Patterson, Akin, and Mohler have expressed their public support for Dr. Floyd which is proof that what Chapman has said is true. This is not good news for the SBC. As the good ole’ boys prop up their candidate with their powerful punditry, SBCers are becoming more skeptical and less trusting in the process and politicking that is so prevalent in the SBC. Here is what Dr. Chapman had to say:

Today political strategies, agendas, and power politics threaten to distract us from empowered possibilities of a people who rely solely upon God's guidance. We are drawn to do things as the world does them. To lose power from above all too often drives us to generate artificial power of our own making. We can intellectualize the Word of God 'til the cows come home and Christ reigns supreme upon the earth, but the more we attempt to do in our own power, the less we shall know the power of God. Our strength pales in comparison to the Christ who arose from the grave and ascended to the right hand of the Father.

When a president of an entity publicly endorses a potential nominee or nominates a candidate for elected office, he potentially alienates some who otherwise hold him in high esteem because they differ with the person he has embraced publicly for an elected office. Consequently, the entity head endangers his potential to provide effective counsel and spiritual leadership to the larger body of Southern Baptists although their beliefs may coincide with the entity head on most other issues.

I agree, as Dr. Chapman has said, that there is a “diminishing admiration” of such leaders in the SBC along with an eroding trust in the system with they seem to manipulate. In the end, they may wind up getting everyone’s vote, but the question remains whether or not they really have our trust and respect. I have personally talked to close friends who have worked under such heads who have told me, “If you knew what really went on in the political end of the SBC, you will wish you weren’t a Southern Baptist.” To some degree, I am glad that I do not know; but then again, why should I be glad? Why should there be matters that I wish I did not know? Is it because there are those who like to “ape the SBC,” who are doing this work in the power of the flesh and not of the Spirit? “According to the artificial power of our own making?” Who are “standing on the backs of others” rather than serving from the bottom up as the “slave of all?”

We are now 27 years past the beginning of the conservative resurgence. The threat of liberalism or modernism is hardly an issue. The real threat to the SBC comes within the SBC itself. If we believe that Christ is the Lord of the Church and of the Christian, then why can’t we agree that He is also Lord of the Convention? If we believe He is, then I pray that the process of nominating and voting on presidents and other elected officers will reflect this reality. Truly, the heart of the king is in the hand of the Lord, and so are the hearts of all us. So let us pray to Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will that we may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God. For the sake of Jesus and our brethren in the SBC, may God be pleased to bring reform from top to bottom in our beloved convention. I am hopeful and will be praying about these matters, and if you are a SBCer, I encourage you to do the same.

|W|P|114803136188503590|W|P|"Aping" the SBC and the Central Problem of Our Convention|W|P|timmybrister@gmail.com5/19/2006 08:01:00 AM|W|P|Blogger Broadstone|W|P|This reminds me of a reporters source who desires to remain anonymous for various personal/political reasons, "I have personally talked to close friends who have worked under such heads who have told me, “If you knew what really went on in the political end of the SBC, you will wish you weren’t a Southern Baptist.”"

I am not sure this adds any benefit to the conversation unless we are dealing actualities with the "who" and "what" of such comments. Though like the Caner/White email exchange such transparency would be helpful and as well as risky. This only adds a sense of fatalism if all such politiking is left to "if you only knew". Well, for myself, I want to know who and how and when and bring such things to light and such brothers to account. If it means underlings getting fired and outed because of exposing corruption then so be it. What kind of Christians are we? (of course the retort might be, "that's easy for you to say, it's not your job/friendship on the line" to which I reply, "it's not me you are accountable towards.") We know what kind of SBC'ers this makes us.

In the end, I agree with you on the need for prayer and seeking the Lord on behalf of our Convention. But, the action to this is being very specific and transparent and redemptive in our response. This is certainly a form of Church discipline and it must be shown at the highest levels.

I sincerely hope this is NOT your last post on the SBC for awhile. You have too many good thoughts and concerns.

Grace and Peace,

Kelly Bridenstine5/19/2006 09:35:00 AM|W|P|Blogger J. Gray|W|P|Another great post. You hit the nail on the head, Timmy.

I have several points of frustration in all this. But the biggest one right now is that people think that if you question something or want discuss an issue that you are opposed to EVERYTHING. It has never been an attack on Floyd, but a questioning of the methodology employed in many SBC churches.

Somtimes I think I am losing my mind and I am the only one that sees it that way. but thankfully I can read your blog and feel comfort I am not alone.

The world sees the SBC as irrelevant and disconnected. Why? because we are. Because we have pastors who are more concerned with making a name for themselves than faithfully teaching the Bible and actually making disciples (instead of baptizing 1 million). We need to wake up.

- Jason Gray5/19/2006 01:46:00 PM|W|P|Blogger Timmy|W|P|Kelly and Jason,

Thank you for your interaction to my posts. I really appreciate your feedback, criticism, and encouragement. I often do not expect to have many people agree with me (as proven in past posts), but every now and again you find kindred spirits on particular matters.

I am a proud Southern Baptist. The more I read about the rich heritage left to us from the likes of Boyce, Broadus, Dagg, Mell, etc., the more I want to see SBC become a convention that glorifies God in every aspect. What I have written was simply my thoughts as the recent events transpired. There are several bloggers who exclusively blog about the SBC and its issues, and I think they are doing a good job. I don't think I have it in me to write much more. I might if future events merit a post, but I have so many other things I want to write about which I hope will be helpful to those not only in the SBC but in the larger evangelical world.

Kelly, the difference between my conversations with my friends and the email exchange between the Caners is that I do not have verbatim correspondence through letter, email, or any other from of print or audio. It was simply our conversations.

A while back I wrote a post called "Across the Theological Beltway" which addresses spiritual elitism and bloggers. I think I might re-post it along with sequel called "Kissing Judases." Maybe it can be a good addendum to the discussion.

Concerning the need for corporate repentance and discipline, I encourage you to check out the Memphis Declaration.

Again, thanks for taking the time to read what I have to say, and I hope that we can continue discussing these and other matters in the future.5/19/2006 03:25:00 PM|W|P|Blogger K. Elijah Layfield|W|P|Great article Tim! It's good to hear your level-headedness on this issue. I'd love to e-mail with you about the future of the SBC some time.5/19/2006 03:43:00 PM|W|P|Blogger Timmy|W|P|Thanks Elijah! If you would like to email me, feel free to do so at gospelcentral [at] yahoo [dot] com. I appreciate your comments.5/19/2006 11:32:00 PM|W|P|Blogger Broadstone|W|P|Tim,

Thanks for the clarification,
though I do think it important to bring corruption/incompetence to light and to account. The motivation isn't so much of feeling they must oblige me in particular, I don‘t have an axe, but rather seeing the overall effect this is having in the SBC is disheartening.

By the way, I found the “Beltway” article you wrote. I agree, but that’s life at this point. Finish your degree and then you will have credibility…man, I still have several years yet…hmmm.

I have read the Memphis Declaration and do think it is in general a right and necessary step.

Declarations 5 and 8 speak best to our conversation:

“5. We publicly repent of having turned a blind eye to wickedness in our convention, especially when that evil has taken the form of slanderous, unsubstantiated accusations and malicious character assassination against our Christian brothers.

Therefore, we commit ourselves to confront lovingly any person in our denomination, regardless of the office or title that person holds, who disparages the name of our Lord by appropriating venomous epithets against our brothers and sisters in Christ, and thus divides our fellowship by careless and unchaste speech.

8. We publicly repent of our inattentiveness to convention governance by not seeking to hold trustees accountable to the body which elects them to preserve our sacred trust and direct our entities with the guidance, counsel, and correction necessary to maintain the integrity of those entities.

Therefore, we covenant with one another to assist in the preservation of our convention's sacred trust and fulfill our biblical responsibility to hold those trustees elected to serve our entities accountable, and to pray for them as they seek to fulfill their fiduciary responsibilities.”

I think these declarations especially argue the point I was making regarding your conversations. Those who are aware of corruption have got to start doing some Matthew 18 stuff. I may never, in this Age, get insight to such loving disciplining and am glad not to as long as the flock is well fed and kept after.

The form of your reference comes nervously close (at least for me) to the “unsubstantiated accusations…” declaration #5. Maybe not. Maybe I am over nervous for those of us who concerned about the SBC, it’s leadership, theology and future and losing credibility by referencing to a “so and so said” which cannot be substantiated. Regardless of the form of your conversation, left undocumented, the idea still remains in the minds of readers. Some readers will respond assuming what is referenced is true (I assume it is. Your blogs tend toward truth-telling.) others will read that and feel it unfair and reckless to make a claim (true or not) which has the appearance of veiling sources and thereby calling into question those sources.

Anyway, I won’t belabor this anymore. Simply some concerns.

Thanks for your gracious response, realizing I hope, my enjoyment of this sort of dialogue as well.

Grace and peace,

Kelly B5/20/2006 03:27:00 AM|W|P|Blogger Kevin Stilley|W|P|I think that you have made some serious mistakes in your assumptions and analysis. I hope you will check out my thoughts regarding Chapman's comments that are found on my blog.5/20/2006 05:15:00 AM|W|P|Blogger Timmy|W|P|Kelly,

Thank you for expressing your concerns and exhortations. I take them seriously and pray that the Lord uses them to convict me of the sin in my life and conform me to the image of my Savior. I am really grateful to have folks who care enough to express their hearts for their brothers, especially when they disagree. May the words of my mouth and meditations of my hearing be acceptable in His sight!

Kevin,

Thanks for commenting. I respect dissenting opinions, and yours are welcome here at P&P. While I disagree with your assessment of Dr. Chapman's article, I respect the fact that you interacted with what was said and expressed your take on it beyond a superficial level. That is to be commended. You mentioned that those who are using his words to sow dissention should be ashamed of themselves, and one can only assume that you are referring to folks like me (since I do quote Dr. Chapman in this post). I am truly sorry if you (or others) come to this conclusion. Principled dissent or reasoned disagreement should not be written off as bringing dissention. Part of the big problem with the SBC as it is today is that there is no room for disagreement (even among the conservatives). I think it is healthy that there is a genuine exchange of differing ideas and opinions and that we should welcome sincere, critical feedback from those really interested in the matters. I can that you are such a fellow, and I wish you would consider me (and others like me) likewise. Again, thanks for commenting, and I hope you feel welcome posting here. :)5/22/2006 02:30:00 PM|W|P|Blogger Mark|W|P|Timmy,
Let me know if I am mis-reading you.... It seems you do not think Dr. Mohler should endorse a candidate for president of the SBC? That is how I understood this section,

"Just in the last week, Drs. Patterson, Akin, and Mohler have expressed their public support for Dr. Floyd which is proof that what Chapman has said is true. This is not good news for the SBC. As the good ole’ boys prop up their candidate with their powerful punditry, SBCers are becoming more skeptical and less trusting in the process and politicking that is so prevalent in the SBC."

Am I wrong, or is it disrespectful to sarcastically call our leaders in the Lord, "good ole' boys." Also, from what I can tell Dr. Mohler just wrote Dr. Floyd a letter. He wasn't "propping up" a candidate with his punditry, he ws encouraging a brother and friend who was under attack. But even if he were, what is wrong with that? I would much rather here the opinion of respected, time-tested men who have demonstrated their wisdom (men like Akin, Mohler, and Patterson), than a bunch of seminary bloggers. I am not saying that twenty-something bloggers shouldn't be read. I just can't figure out why you think leaders who we respect should stay silent, while bloggers who we don't know and who don't know the candidates, should get more attention?

Also, I am not sure what you were trying to argue in your first quote from Schaeffer/Pearcy? You wrote:
"The primary threat to the church is the “tendency to do the Lord’s work in the power of the flesh rather than the Spirit.” Many church leaders crave a “big name,” he continues: They “stand on the backs of others” in order to achieve power, influence, and reputation—instead of exhibiting the humility of the Master who washed His disciples’ feet. They “ape the world” in its publicity and marketing techniques, manipulating people’s emotions to induce them to give more money."

This was in a post about Dr. Floyd, and the selection process. I gathered that you were saying these things in some way characterize Floyd. Am I right?

I'll be interested to see if I misunderstood you, or to read your answer. Thanks for your time.5/22/2006 04:11:00 PM|W|P|Blogger Timmy|W|P|Mark,

Concerning the "good ole' boys," that is taken directly from the BP interview with Dr. Floyd which he calls them. Other writers refer to them as Kingmakers - those select few who for years now have nominated their man to be SBC president. The term "good ole' boys" is not original with me, so I do not see how I can be deemed as sarcastic or disrespectful.

Secondly, Dr. Floyd is not under attack per say, speaking of himself, character, etc. Furthermore, I do not think people doing a little research and reporting on it could be considered an "attack" either. That's precisely the semantical bias that is being played against bloggers. Let me remind you that it was Paige Patterson who called the fire truck baptistry as "blasphemous." So if you want an attack, please refer to Dr. Patterson himself. I don't think anyone in the blogosphere has made such "attacking" statements as that.

Thirdly, the letter with Mohler is the third being written by seminary presidents for the purpose of endorsement. This is an ethical breach as far as I am concerned because Drs. Mohler, Patterson, and Akin are denominational heads and consequently alienated those who think otherwise. Why can't we just let the people in the SBC decide for themselves. If he is "supernaturally drafted" for the presidency, then why is it necessary to have every SBC elite come to his defense?

Fourthly, it would be complete naivate to think that these "well-respected" men of the SBC are not politically tied. Come on, Mark, this is not about skepticism, this is the reality behind the SBC. Why do you think we would have Dr. Jack Graham come speak in our school who has denounced the doctrines our school holds as fundamental to our faith if there is not a trumping political tie to it? I am sorry, man but I refuse to have my head in the sand or reply with "See no evil; hear no evil."

Fifthly, if you feel so inclined to not read seminary bloggers, no one is holding you to it. That's what is great about blogging, especially in the SBC. It is free press and democracy at work. Why do you think Dr. Floyd would not answer the questions posed by Tad Thompson? Because the question were bad? No, they were excellent and to the point. But no, he will no answer. While everyone has a voice, not everyone has the right to hbe heard. If you don't want to listen, turn off the chanel. Unfortunately, this is what is wrong with us. We want to listen to people who like us, who agree with us, who will side with us. Man, hear me. I am not against Dr. Floyd! I just want to express my concerns and feelings as any other SBCer has the right to. Am I to be faulted for that? How have I been unfair? Have I misrepresented, spun, or distorted the facts?

Sixthly, I am not saying that leaders should be silent. I am saying that they should not come out and explicitly endorse a candidate. Others, like Dr. Chapman, have come out and spoken on this and have not endorsed a candidate. It is one thing to talk about the presidency and weigh in on the candidacy (including speaking about the cadidates themselves); it is another thing to write a letter of endorsement like a blank check. By the way, of the over 20 pages of writing I have done thus far on the SBC, have I told you who I am going to vote for? Have I endorsed a candidate?

Seventhly, the quote by Schaeffer/Pearcey is explained in my quote by Chapman and my comments thereafter. Why do you jump to the conclusion that I am trying to characterize Dr. Floyd? Anything and everything that I have said about Dr. Floyd has been complementary or positive (regarding him). Elsewhere I have expressed my opinion on things he has said and done, but nowhere have I challenged his integrity, godliness, or love for the Lord. A conclusion that says I am trying to characterize Dr. Floyd is simply false. I consider him a man of God and worthy of honor as such. However, this does not mean that he or anyone else for that matter is excused from any evaluation.

I hope I have answered your questions here. If not, please let me know. I welcome the comments from anyone, especially from those who disagree with me. God knows I need to be challenged and tested. And when I am wrong, I want to quickly repent from my sin publicly and acknowledge it as such. Thanks again.5/22/2006 06:59:00 PM|W|P|Blogger Mark|W|P|Timmy,
Thanks for your prompt response. I was really just asking clarifying questions to see if I understood you correctly.
First, the origin of the term “good ole’ boys” has nothing to do with whether or not it could be disrespectful. Just because others use the terms “kingmakers” and “good ole’ boys” doesn’t mean that it is a respectful way to refer to our leaders. Here I am referring to Drs. Mohler, Akin, and Patterson – the three men you referenced in your post directly before calling them “good ole’ boys.” I am glad you were not meaning to use it sarcastically, and don’t find it disrespectful. That is the way I read it at first. It is helpful to hear your explanation. I still find it a bit disrespectful, but can see how we just have a different take on how we should refer to our leaders in public discourse.

Like I said, we just have a disagreement on how we should refer to our seminary president(s) and when we are justified in publicly calling them out. I would feel uncomfortable saying that someone who has been placed in authority over me in the Lord has committed an “ethical breach.” I may be too passive, but I usually error on the side of silence when criticizing Christian leaders in public. Why is it unethical for a seminary president, or seminary professor to take a position on which Southern Baptists disagree? Would that go for controversial theological issues too? Or just issues of denominational politics? (Timmy, I am just asking an honest question here – not trying to make a point)

Secondly, good point. I now revise my original statement to say, Dr. Mohler was simply writing a letter to a brother and friend whose leadership, evangelistic integrity, and denominational loyalty was being criticized (not attacked). I wasn’t trying to make a point about bloggers attacking there, just that Dr. Mohler was writing an encouraging note – not trying to make a “king.”

Third, you said, “why can’t we just let the people in the SBC decide for themselves?” They will. But I honestly don’t mind hearing from men like Mohler and Akin and Patterson (both his letter and his comment to Dever about the blasphemous baptistery) that I respect. It is helpful to read your clarification that you don’t think leaders should stay silent – but that they just shouldn’t endorse. I don’t tend to agree, but see your position as more reasonable with that clarification. Timmy, that is really all I was trying to do with my response, was to ask clarifying questions.

Fourthly, I don’t claim these “well respected men” aren’t politically tied. I understand that. I also wasn’t saying that you should have your head in the sand. I understand that the Metro Churches have a lot of influence on the denomination – and I agree that is not always good. But I disagree that political ties “trump” the convictions of these 3 men you’ve mentioned. I believe that if Dr. Mohler affirms someone’s candidacy, he really believes he would make a good president. Also, I don’t necessarily think that it is wrong to be politically tied. You and I are politically tied. The “kingmakers” just have more political influence than we do.

Fifthly, I want to apologize for the way my statement about seminary bloggers came across to you. I am not against them. In fact, I am one, although I mostly stick to stuff about my family and walk with Christ, and am read by about 1/100th of the people yours probably is. I also am inclined to read seminary bloggers and learn from them (I am here reading your blog after all). I didn’t at all say you don’t have a right to express your concerns, and I am glad that you do. I was just saying that the opinion (and even endorsements) of seminary and church leaders are valuable – and not to be silenced.

Sixthly, you wrote, “Why do you jump to the conclusion that I am trying to characterize Dr. Floyd?” Timmy, I didn’t jump to a conclusion. I made a temporary conclusion, but didn’t fully understand what you were arguing. That is why I asked a clarifying question. I didn’t jump to a conclusion. I sought more information so I could make an accurate conclusion with all the information. That is really what I was trying to do – not argue, but understand.

Thanks for helping me understand better.5/22/2006 09:34:00 PM|W|P|Blogger Timmy|W|P|Mark,

Thanks for your lengthy comment and concerns. I sincerely appreciate them.

No, I personally do not refer to my leaders as "good ole' boys" but my reasoning for doing such was because of its reference to the Baptist Press article and Dr. Floyds usage of it. Whenever I meet or talk to Drs. Floyd, Mohler, Akin, or the like, I always refer to them as Dr. so-and-so--even on my blog (see previous posts for evidence of this).

Secondly, I am not calling out Drs. Mohler, Akin, and Patterson. I am simply stating that making a public endorsement while a denominational head is unethical. Dr. Morris Chapman, head of the Executive Committee, made the admonishment before Drs. Akin and Mohler came out with their statements. If there is any disagreement or public calling out, it is between these denominational leaders. Honestly, I think it is refreshing to see denominational leaders actually disagree. It was a courageous and bold thing for Dr. Chapman to say what he said. Obviously, he is not in the majority opinion on this. I don't know if theological issues would be analagous to this situation because I don't know if those certain issues would be voted upon at large, so I can't answer that quesiton definitively.

In times past, I have both questioned and defended my leaders publicly. My allegiance and loyalty to them does not come with my mind and conscience checked at the door. When I think they are wrong, I will state so, and when they are right, I will back them to the hilt. Mark, there is this idea today with respect that is much like the modern view of tolerance. Modern day tolerance says that you must be tolerant of everyone except those who are intolerant. They say we must presumptuously accept anyone's views because no view is absolutely right. Modern-day respect says that we should respect everyone meaning that we should never question their line of thinking, decision-making, or disagree with them whatsoever. I don't buy into this version of "respect" as I see it disrespectful of the very definiton of respect. I tend to think that Dr. Mohler in particular whould appreciate having students who thoroughly think through these issues and even disagree at times. The healthiness of our confessing evangelical faith often finds its robustness not through a pat-on-the-back, but from a prick on the arm. Dude, I honestly would never want someone I am over to respect me blindly. To me that is superficial, unwarranted, and will be proven faulty in times of testing. I don't want to belabour this point any further, but I think it is important for you to know how and why I make my positions or stances. I rather make them and repent when I am wrong than to never have made one at all. Silence sometimes is too conspiratorial for me. :)

As far as feeling uncomfortable, you bet I do! Man, sometimes I honestly can make my mind stop thinking and actually go to bed because of the convictions in my heart and the dictates of my conscience! I think I live more of my life uncomfortably than I do comfortably. I find much encouragement from the likes of Athanasius or Luther who felt like the world was against them (contra mundo). Now, I would never compare myself to the likes of these giants, but can say that I would rather live my life uncomfortably than comfortably--especially when I have a fire shut up in my bones. If I can remember correctly, Dr. Mohler and other great SBC leaders have made some decisions that I am most assured were uncomfortable ones and may have resulted in sleepless nights. Yet in all of this, God has shown himself meticulously in control over all of these affairs, and I believe he will continue to in the future (even in spite of me).

Mark, thank you for your comments, seriously. I am going to think through what you have said some more. One of the disadvantages of a medium such as this is that there are some real limitations to communications which inhibit the understanding of what one is saying. I apologize if I came across too defensive or agumentative. Honestly, I think I have come to the point where I am burned out and discouraged over the issue. I want to move on. This is not to say that somewhere down the future I will address this again, but I have simply too many things to write about that are important to me. I sincerely hope you feel welcome to comment here anytime and say whatever you wish. Faithful are the wounds of a friend, brother, and better is open rebuke than concealed love. What you have shared I pray will conform me into the image of my Savior and cause me to love my brothers all the more. I have so much to learn, so many places where I need to grow. Thanks again, and I hope to hear from you soon.

Gotta go . . . got to catch Dairy Queen before it closes to get me some tasty Cookie-Dough Blizzard action. :)5/30/2006 04:18:00 PM|W|P|Blogger Kevin Stilley|W|P|Hello Timmy,

Thank you for your comments regarding my thoughts. However, I think you misread me. I did not say that it is wrong to disagree, I said that those who use Chapman's statement to foment dissention should be ashamed of themselves. Chapman's argumentation is deeply flawed. Therefore, to use Chapman as a tool for creating dissention, is not "principled dissent" but nothing more than an argument to the person. I believe that Christians, even us SBCers ;) should give more thought to the positions we take and have been disappointed by those who have accepted Chapman's statement as something more than what it really is.5/30/2006 05:20:00 PM|W|P|Blogger Timmy|W|P|Kevin Stilley,

As mentioned over SBF, I have realized that you have copied and pasted a generic comment to point people to you blog. I do not think that you have addressed anything I have said here or Gene's post over at SBF. I would like to confer you to Gene's reply in which can he found at the following link:

http://strangebaptistfire.com/2006/05/13/dr-morris-chapman-on-sbc-president/#comment-2755/30/2006 09:04:00 PM|W|P|Blogger Kevin Stilley|W|P|Hello,

I do not believe that I have presented a position on anything other than Chapman's statement and the improper use of it. Gene mentions many other issues, on none of which have I taken a public position. I apologize if I have offended you, it was not my intent.

Kevin5/30/2006 10:11:00 PM|W|P|Blogger Timmy|W|P|Kevin,

For the record, you did not offend me. My problem is that I felt that your comment was a "drive-by" comment which did not give a fair treatment of what I wrote. I am more than happen to dialogue with those who disagree with me (and be corrected when I am wrong), but dialogue consists of two people interacting with one another - something I thought you did not participate in.

In the future, I hope that you do feel welcome to comment here at P&P and post whatever opinions you hold, so long as they are delivered in the appropriate manner. Thanks again for commenting, and I hope to see you around!5/18/2006 05:25:00 AM|W|P|Timmy Brister|W|P|Note: This is a little long, but I felt it was necessary . . .

“I hear the ‘moo’ of a Sacred Cow,” said Ted Traylor speaking of the suggestion that the church of a nominated candidate for SBC president must meet the 10% threshold of Cooperative Program (CP) giving. Since the news of First Baptist Church, Springdale, AR Cooperative Program giving was released, the SBC elites have been on a media blitz to defend Dr. Ronnie Floyd and his church’s giving to missions.

Earlier this year, an Ad Hoc Cooperative Program Committee was formed which made the recommendation that elected state and national officers be a part of churches that give at least 10% to the CP. This suggestion was an encouragement, not an obligation, which gained the approval of the SBC Executive Committee. Traylor recognizes that his suggestion is “non binding” but warns that enacting this could surrender the principle of individual churches defining their sphere of involvement in missions. This principle of conserving self-determination concerns me for several reasons.

First, there is a historical precedent in the SBC where churches were known to faithfully give to the CP. Anthony Jordan of the Baptist Messenger of Oklahoma writes, “For nearly 75 years, our churches averaged giving more than 10 percent of undesignated receipts to mission through CP. Today, the average has slipped to under 7 percent.” Throughout the past 75 years, there have been many reasons why giving could have gone down, including depression, wars, and other economic crises. Secondly, lest we all forget, the majority of this time was before the conservative resurgence. So what has happened that in the most prosperous days of the SBC and our country giving to the CP has decreased? This leads to my second point.

Second, there is a present crisis of cooperation in the SBC. As Dr. Floyd has stated, many churches are now seeking for the “personalization of missions.” What this means is churches are doing missions more independently than ever before. With the recent boom of short-term mission trips and unprecedented opportunities to plant churches worldwide, churches are seeking to do the Great Commission on their own. Predominantly, only megachurches are able to pull this off due to the necessary resources required to accomplish such a task.

This is where the “self-determining” of an autonomous church comes in. Churches today are building their Great Commission emphasis around themselves. I have heard the mantra over and over again, such as “We go on x number of mission trips each year and have planted x number of churches on every continent in the world.” Some will say, “There is not a place where the sun sets where we are not doing missions.” Notice the reference point is that particular local church. If this self-congratulatory rationalization for the lack of cooperation is not enough, we cannot forget that all this must be financed in some form or fashion. Thus, the money which would normally go to the CP goes to the efforts of the local church. Implicit in this strategy is that the individual church can do it better and more efficiently than the IMB. This is what I call being missionally myopic.

The whole purpose of the CP was to pool resources together to do what one could not do on its own. Through giving to the CP and the agency of the IMB, Southern Baptists have the largest missionary force in the world. Yet the supply line to these missionaries is being undermined by the reallocation of resources to accomplish short-term missions to the neglect of long-term missionaries. We have mission conferences, mission trips, mission training, etc., but are often forgetting about our missionaries! We cooperate not out of obligation, but as a privilege and an overwhelming desire to serve one another in love. Hear what the Baptist Faith and Message has to say about this:

Christ's people should, as occasion requires, organize such associations and conventions as may best secure cooperation for the great objects of the Kingdom of God. Such organizations have no authority over one another or over the churches. . . Members of New Testament churches should cooperate with one another in carrying forward the missionary, educational, and benevolent ministries for the extension of Christ's Kingdom.

Cooperation is voluntary true, but it is also expected, especially from our leaders. Inevitably, the nominations for the SBC presidency usually come from pastors of megachurches, and it is interesting to see how committed they are to the CP and whether they believe that it is that big of a deal. Hear again some thoughts by Jordan:

Our greatest challenge is electing a man who has demonstrated a proven commitment to the Southern Baptist way of supporting missions. Many of the megachurch pastors have turned aside from cooperative missions in favor of direct or societal missions. They do missions, but they choose to do what their church can accomplish, rather than realizing the power of what we can achieve together. They have abandoned a tried and true axiom among us. We can do more together than we can do alone.

Because of the relevancy of this year’s nomination, let’s take FBC Springdale for example. According to Ben Mayes, the church’s chief administration officer, for 2004-2005 fiscal year the church’s undesignated gifts totaled $11,952,137. The amount given to the CP was $32,000 which comes out to 0.27%. However, Mayes is quick to add that the church spent $2,648,000 in total support of missions and evangelism during that same time period. Now, you tell me, where is the emphasis being placed? On cooperation or conserving the “self-determination” of the local church?

In a recent interview with Baptist Press, Floyd said, “churches can and should do better” but “there was never mandated cooperation” or “scriptural basis for tithing to a denomination.” This is true, and the current recommendation is not a mandate nor an attempt to scripturally prove tithing to a denomination. Why does cooperation have to be shaded as an obligation, mandate, or requirement? I thought we cooperated and supported one another because we wanted to and because we believed in working together. Is this not the spirit and example we should hope to have in the leader of the SBC?

Floyd said, “I want to do more, I’ve done more. We’ve been doing more and we will continue to do more.” What he said it true—they have done more, and looking at the previous years of giving, one can see where the CP was more of a priority than it is today. Floyd also said that CP is a “tool” and “vehicle” which “can be relevant only to the point of the convention re-imaging and reinventing itself to meet the needs of SBC churches and help them propagate the Gospel around the world.” I mean no disrespect, but what about the needs of the missionaries around the world (through IMB) and stateside (through NAMB)? Don’t their needs count too?

What I have heard in recent days is warnings against making some arbitrary rule about giving 10 percent to the CP and how it should not be the “sacred cow” of the SBC. What I am not hearing is a passion for cooperation and a desire to show exemplary giving and commitment to missions as structured through the Southern Baptist Convention. I hear what some seminary presidents and megachurch pastors are saying in defense of Dr. Floyd, but I am concerned about what I am not hearing. Now to the third point.

The future direction of missions in the SBC needs the leadership to chart the course and handle the storms which come our way. Just in the last year, both the IMB and NAMB have had their share of controversies, and the SBC needs a leader who is committed to missions within the SBC, not just their local churches. We need a leader who has vision enough to see the big picture but principle enough to handle the transitional nuances or controversies which may arise. The SBC president, and the church which he pastors, should be a model of cooperation while unifying churches around the work of missions, not encouraging them to do it on their own (which most simply cannot because of logistical and financial inadequacies). This example should also be seen in their giving. No, this is not an obligation or mandate but an expectation which assumes that a person’s commitment to something will be evidenced where it lines up in their priorities and their pocketbooks.

Fundamentally, the Southern Baptist Convention exists for cooperation with one another for the purpose of the propagation of the gospel of Jesus Christ to the ends of the world. For 81 years, Southern Baptists have done this together as each church member has valued the importance of giving to the Cooperative Program. So in what sense does giving to the CP matter? It is not about a “golden number” or a church’s statistics on giving or their missional resume; it is about people and having a passion to reach them. We have over 6,000 of our own out there who have left their houses, brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, and lands for the sake of Jesus and the gospel. Let’s not become spiritual cow-tippers. Though the CP made not be SBC's Sacred Cow, there is no reason to make it the Sacrificial Lamb. Let’s remember that it is not about us—it’s about them.

|W|P|114794838188083007|W|P|SBC Cow Tippin': In What Sense Does Giving to the Cooperative Program Matter?|W|P|timmybrister@gmail.com5/18/2006 09:51:00 AM|W|P|Blogger Tom B.|W|P|Great post! You expressed my sentiments exactly. Have I told you lately how proud I am of you - if not, may the world know that I am. Dad5/18/2006 09:57:00 AM|W|P|Blogger Broadstone|W|P|Tim,

Is there any information from the IMB regarding missionaries or waitinglist missionaries who are experiencing any loss in funds?

I think, if there are such, it would help bolster the argument of CP giving.

I wonder if churches who don't "know" these missionaries or their needs easily think, out of sight, out of mind and thus feel unobliged in their giving.

Seems as though, as is rightly argued, a Pastor should have a vision which is informed and informing his flock.

By the way, your profile mentions UPS package handling. I begin in a couple weeks in Louisville with UPS. I am moving my family up May 26 from Tennessee. Perhaps you could give me some insight on the job and Louisville and SBTS. Feel free to email me.

Grace and Peace,
Kelly5/18/2006 12:19:00 PM|W|P|Blogger Timmy|W|P|Dad,

So you got a blogger account, eh? I know we have talked about this a lot. There is such a large trend of churches today bailing out of the the CP to go on their own missionary enterprises, and I fear that the example of FBC Sprindale will encourage churches to do the same. It's just a shame what we call "missions" today isn't it?

Kelly,

I think you are right when you say "out of sight, out of mind" because many pastors and church leaders today are not informed about the IMB and the great work being done by our missionaries. Is the IMB perfect? By no means! But does this mean not using the "tool" or "vehicle" as Dr. Floyd puts it? Absolutely not! The reason why IMB and the CP is not supported is OUR fault, not the leaders of such entities.

Yes, I work with UPS here in Louisville along with about 25,000 other Louisvillians. UPS is a great place to reach unbelievers with the gospel. I come in contact with dozens of folks each day, and hardly do I ever find someone who knows Jesus. I would love to welcome you to Louisville by taking you out for lunch for something. I will email you soon.5/18/2006 12:52:00 PM|W|P|Blogger J. Gray|W|P|Great post.

I think it is sad that those wishing to defend Floyd have cried out "autonomy".

But if the SBC isn't important enough for you to give more than .27%, then why is it important enough for you to be President of it?5/18/2006 04:27:00 PM|W|P|Blogger Tom B.|W|P|Yes, I have gotten a blog account. I have been reading your posts daily, but with this issue I have decided to "way in". I am a BIG proponent of the CP. I know how important it is for churches to cooperate in the support of our missionaries. I certainly hope that our new leader of the SBC will show leadership in this very important area of ministry.5/21/2006 11:19:00 AM|W|P|Blogger Shannon Mckenzie|W|P|Tim,
Thanks for your help on the phone the other day. I really appreciate it. You have always been an encouraging and willing friend. I look forward to spending some time with you in the future.
Also, thanks for this post. It shares alot of my sentiments, and I think that it puts on the forefront something that is slipping in the SBC. I especially liked that you drew attention to the fact of the recent trend, which favors short-term missons over long-term missons. This is one of my pet peeves about the SBC church. I am not anit-short-term missions. But after my time in El Salvador, where I worked with short-term (less than 1 month) missionaries, I did desire reform in the process. They were little more than vacation/field trips, with conversions coming as fast as they count the hands of the people after they said, "Raise your hand if you do not won't to spend eternity in hell." For this reason, it makes me sad to see southern baptist churches slipping away from long-term, disciple-making missions. Instead the money is flowing towards summer vacations that make church members feel better. I think that eleting a president who appears to endorse this method has horrible implications for the future of SBC missions. It denies the founding purpose of the CP, as well as the 80+ year history-proof of what the CP can accomplish, namely an unparelled oppurtunity for taking the gospel to the ends of the earth. This comment is really long so I'm going to stop now. Maybe we can talk about this later.5/17/2006 10:06:00 PM|W|P|Timmy Brister|W|P|

It’s hard to believe that it was just a couple of weeks ago that Johnny Hunt turned down the nomination for the president of the SBC and nominated Dr. Ronnie Floyd. Because of travels and finals, I have not been able to keep up on all that has transpired; however, I have blogged about this a little bit here and at SBF.

I noticed yesterday a couple of things: first, Baptist Press is paying a lot of attention to bloggers—even using them as the content for their articles. Secondly, after checking the ole’ Sitemeter, I along with several other bloggers have found visitors from several interesting places such as Springdale, AR and Woodstock, GA. Now I don’t want to give any more specifics, but simply state this to make a point. Baptist Press isn’t the only one clicking the refresh button—many SBC elites are as well—and for good reason.

There have been many who have come out in disagreement with several matters including the “supernatural revelation” of Dr. Floyd’s nomination, the fire truck baptistry, the interview-turned-down, woeful CP giving (ahem, not “SBC causes” whatever that is), and recent comments on hypercalvinism in the SBC. All this in just the past two weeks! Notice something very carefully: NOTHING has been said about Dr. Ronnie Floyd or his character. I suspect that many of the SBC elites are waiting for a SBC blogger to slip up and make some ad hominem charge or attack but to no avail. This is a reminder to all of us that what we say can and will be used against us in the political machinery of the SBC.

On another note, Paige Patterson has felt it necessary to come out and recommend Dr. Floyd for the nomination; in addition, Dr. Danny Akin has sent an email defending Dr Floyd and his church's CP giving. And most recently, Dr. Al Mohler has written a letter of endorsement as well which can be read on Dr. Floyd's blog. Three seminary presidents of the SBC and denominational heads at that have not only pledged their support but have made a vocal campaign for Dr. Floyd. Thirdly, Ted Traylor, pastor of Olive Baptist Church in Pensacola, FL, argues that the CP should not be a “sacred cow”, and the Ad Hoc CP Committee’s recommendation is just “a bad suggestion." He then goes on to express his pledged support for Floyd. It is clear that the concerns and criticisms are serious enough to warrant such a response from the likes of such influential men.

Speaking of those concerns, bloggers have been demonized for being interested in such matters. Because of the new media, the accessibility of information, and the immediate publication, blogs have become the monkey wrench in the machinery that has been running so smoothly in the past. But is it not fair that a nominee who is running for a public office be subject to public scrutiny? Should we not examine the candidate, his church, and his theology? This is not a character assault, but responsible allegiance to a convention not made of a few mega-voices, but of millions (or so we are told) of little voices who are (or should be) committed to the future of the SBC.

I appreciate the words of Wade Burleson of late as he points out the difference here. Personally, I do not know Dr. Floyd except from his books, a few sermons, and a few blogposts which I have read. He seems like a great guy and a godly man. There is no reason to question his integrity or godliness. But there is good reason to question some of the things he has said or done; moreover, there is good reason to question the way in which one is nominated for the presidency of the SBC. Furthermore, I am encouraged to read the admonition and counsel from Morris Chapman who expressed the personal conflicts of interest by denominational leaders like Patterson and Akin to publicly endorse a candidate for the presidency.

The resurgence stalwarts have spoken as expected for their man, but what was not expected was to see the grassroots movement speaking out as they have. Baptist Press has picked up on this and so has the Kingmakers. Sweaty palms rest on keypads as the other potential candidate is awaiting to be announced. There is a legitimate reason to be worried as I presume they are. After all, a former president, two state papers, and a host of bloggers are actively writing about this presidential candidacy (not to mention out-going president Welch’s Million More has produced 4.15% less baptisms). Let me conclude by saying that ultimately this is not about Dr. Ronnie Floyd or the presidency of the SBC, it is about the future of the SBC and how we are going to get there.

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