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Sunday, June 10, 2007

The Re-Sectarianization of the SBC - Calvinism Attacked

Ah, the Southern Baptist infighting may have just reached a new level in Florida...

From the Associated Baptist Press...

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (ABP) -- Some Baptists in this state say the Florida Baptist Convention is intimidating and demonizing churches that believe in Calvinism -- and doing it with the churches' own money.

Convention executive director John Sullivan last week sent recordings of sermons by Sullivan's former pastor Jerry Vines to every church in the state, apparently at convention expense, that identify Calvinism as a threat to Baptist life.

A week earlier, Sullivan sent one of his associates to a rural Panhandle county to confront local pastors about alleged "conflict" created by Calvinists in the Holmes Baptist Association. Sullivan's emissary, Cecil Seagle, was at times "angry and mean-spirited" and tried to intimidate the pastors, according to the pastors' detailed notes from the meeting, warning that Calvinism "is dividing the Florida Convention and a split is almost inevitable."...........

Tom Ascol, the most prominent Calvinist in the 1 million-member state convention, blasted Sullivan's tactics in his blog. (www.founders.org/blog)

"This much is clear: The mailing of Dr. Vines' sermon on Calvinism is a clear indication that the executive director of the Florida Baptist Convention has an agenda to demonize the ministers and churches in our state who believe what the founders of the Southern Baptist Convention believed regarding the grace of God in salvation," wrote Ascol, pastor of Grace Baptist Church in Cape Coral and executive director of Founders Ministries, which promotes Calvinist or Reformed theology.

"This is a serious matter," he said. "Very serious."

In his sermon, Vines said Calvinism "kills" churches because it neglects evangelism by teaching that salvation is only for those whom God "elects," not for everyone. He said Calvinistic pastors tend to be divisive, dishonest and prone to "intellectual pride."

Read more from the SBC's Chief Calvinist Tom Ascol HERE.

Another outspoken Calvinist, Southern Seminary student Timmy Brister, reports on efforts by John Connell - a Savannah megachurch pastor - to remove all Calvinists from God's Country, er Georgia.

Who didn't see this fight brewing? Well, Bill Leonard did...

Back in 1993, Bill Leonard wrote:
Bringing Reformed theology back into mainstream SBC life may be a battle which will make the fundamentalist-moderate confrontation seem like a minor skirmish. A great many very conservative Southern Baptists are shocked when they learn that the founders believed that only an elect group of sinners, chosen before the foundation of the world will be saved.
Southern Baptists are beginning to reap what they have sown....

The Re-Sectarianization of the Southern Baptist Convention.

Militant Fundamentalists vs. Moderate Fundamentalists.

Maybe - just maybe - fundamentalists will finally realize that the source of "cooperative unity" in the SBC has never been doctrine and doctrine alone....

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7 Comments:

Blogger peter lumpkins said...

BDW,

I find your post a little "hip, hip hurray!" ;^|

The greatest critics of Calvinism are my moderate brothers. And, nothing ever mentioned by nonCalvinists pertaining to Calvinism is ever going to receive warm and fuzzy kudos from Founders. This is just the latest skirmish.

With that, I am...

Peter

4:45 AM

 
Blogger texasinafrica said...

If you maintain your power on the basis of conflict, you always have to have an enemy...

10:47 AM

 
Anonymous Michael Westmoreland-White said...

Peter, the greatest critics of Calvinism may be "moderate" (I hate that word; it sounds like "lukewarm,") Baptists, but we aren't attempting to throw them out of our circles. There are Calvinists in the Alliance of Baptists, CBF, American Baptist Churches, British Baptists, etc.--but they are of a different spirit than the ones in the SBC. Their theological opponents are also of a different spirit.
The SBC is on a cours of self-destruction and has been since 1979. It will keep drawing lines of who is orthodox and who is heretical around smaller and smaller circles until their is no one left.
New leadership could change that, but there will be no spirit of openess, cooperation, and love for generations. We tried to tell ya'll back when this began and all through the '80s that you were unleashing something not easily called back. If you sew the wind, you reap the whirlwind.
Of course, there are those who believe the wind was sewed when the SBC was founded to protect slavery. That everything self-destructive since is God's judgment after millions of chances to repent.
I don't know about that, but I know these latest fights do not surprise me. After all, even the dissenters among the SBC are still spreading lies about the CBF, about pre-'79 Centrist So. Baptist leaders and institutions, still fearing women, still wanting a theology of control and dominance.

11:29 AM

 
Blogger Big Daddy Weave said...

Greatest critics of Calvinism are moderates?

In scholarly pursuits, moderates have been critical of Calvinism. But in moderate life, Calvinism is not an issue - not even on our radar.

The greatest critics of Calvinism are the Jerry Vines' of the SBC whose rhetoric is quite over the top - though the rhetoric of most fundamentalist leaders is often over the top anyways...

2:40 PM

 
Blogger peter lumpkins said...

Michael

I too hate Fundamentalist, but I continue to be called such. I learned to accept it.

Nor are any with whom I am personally acquainted attempting to throw Calvinists out of the Convention. Please.

BDW,

Oh my, BDW. What am I supposed to say to "in scholarly pursuits, moderates have been critical of Calvinism. But in moderate life, Calvinism is not an issue"? What do you think I was refering to? Warm fuzzies Moderates feel every day?

And as for rhetoric "over the top," your own site, BDW, has cleaned out a spot and had a fit or two over some issues. Of course, presumbly it's justified here, I suppose one can reason.

With that, I am...

Peter

7:10 PM

 
Blogger Dr. Michael Kear said...

"...we aren't attempting to throw them out of our circles."

"Calvinism is not an issue - not even on our radar."


I beg to differ. I am a member of a CBF church here in Oklahoma. I'm still a member, but no longer an attender. This is because my pastor used the pulpit of our "moderate" church to call Calvinists either ignorant or outright heretics.

To quote the sermon exactly (I saved a copy), "I have to admit – my first reaction to [Calvinist] thinking is an angry reaction. How can they do this? How can they think this way? But after I calm myself, I find a better response. One of compassion. I say to myself – they must not understand. They are simply ignorant of the breadth and depth of theological teaching in scripture. Maybe they’re confused."

"The heresy contained in Calvinistic teaching is something I can do something about. I can open my mouth. I can choose to speak when it would be more comfortable to stay silent. I can challenge those who are listening to these teachings to think for themselves and study the scriptures for God’s word. I can do something. I don’t know about you, but I have been under some conviction that the word 'moderate' might not be the best choice of descriptors of my theological position. I know how we got there – we tend to express a moderating voice – somewhere between extreme liberal theology and extreme fundamentalist theology. But sometimes, moderates are too 'moderate' in their defense and support of the gospel message. We are quiet when we should be vocal, and we end up living somewhere between courage and serenity."


I found this charge to be simply amazing coming from the pulpit of a congregation which recognizes no creed on which to base a charge of heresy. I immediately arranged a meeting with the pastor to discuss my unease with the public charges of heresy. He told me that, as a local church, we do not hold that all Calvinists are heretics, but that he, as the pastor, believes that such is true.

I reminded him that our church is a home for a wide variety of theological positions. We have liberals and conservatives, we have Arminians and universalists, we have charismatics and cessationists, etc., etc. I also told him that I myself might be labelled by some a Calvinist because I believe in such things as election and eternal security.

He told me that I would always be welcome as a member of the church, but that I also might find myself uncomfortable whenever the subject of Calvinism came up - not because I am a Calvinist, but because I do not think that we should label Calvinists as ignorant or heretics.

This greatly grieved me because now I am once again a homeless baptist. Our town has only one moderate church - and about 50 fundamentalist SBC churches - and that one moderate congregation has chosen to follow the SBC trend of labelling certain historic theologies as heretical.

Sheesh!

Peace,

Mike

12:19 PM

 
Blogger Big Daddy Weave said...

Mike,

Wow. Thanks for sharing that sermon.

May I ask the pastor's name or name of the congregation?

1:58 PM

 

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