"We are all in the same boat in a stormy sea, and we owe each other a terrible loyalty."
Have you seen this breaking story – “Church deemed too Calvinistic for Kentucky Baptist association”? Yesterday, Bob Allen of the Associated Baptist Press reported:
“A Kentucky Baptist association denied membership to a church after a credentials committee found its confessional statement too Calvinistic, according to a report in the Western Recorder.
Daviess-McLean Baptist Association voted 104-9 to deny membership to Pleasant Valley Community Church in Owensboro during its annual meeting held Oct. 17-18, the Kentucky Baptist Convention news journal reported in its Oct. 25 issue.
“Our concern in the initial stages of our investigation revolved around the fact that Pleasant Valley Community Church’s confessional statement is one that (is) Calvinistic in nature,” the newspaper quoted from a recommendation by the association’s credentials committee. “It affirms the doctrine of election and grace.”
“While we know the doctrine is not heresy, we do recognize that it is vastly different than the majority of churches within the DMBA,” the statement noted.”
The pastor of preaching and vision at Pleasant Valley Community Church is Jamus Edwards, who graduated from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. To discover more about Edwards’ background, we ventured over to the Acts 29 website, which provides the following information: (link)
Briefly describe your story of your call to plant a church (Jamus Edwards)
“I [Jamus Edwards] had an opportunity to lead a brand new church plant that was going to be supported by another church while I was in seminary. I took 2 church planting classes at Southern Seminary, and prayed about the opportunity for 6 months or so. I declined the offer, as I felt as though the Lord was calling me into more of an established setting, and that my primary giftedness was not to be a “lead planter.” Then, ironically enough, the Lord called me to PVCC (which was basically a re-plant). I came in and inherited a decent sized core group (35-40 people), a building, and a decent budget. However, while we had these basic components, the church had no mission, no theology, no government, no philosophy, and no plans. So, I was able to come in and in many ways do the work of a planter (w/ the perk of having money readily available, etc.). Now, my calling is to raise up other men and send them out to plant. It is to equip the saints at PVCC to have a heart for planting and to motivate them to give and “go” in such a way as to see this happen.”
As many of our readers know, Acts 29 is a church planting network founded by Mark Driscoll. To learn more about the Acts 29 Network, we recommend checking out their website.
We have made it abundantly clear in previous posts that we have serious problems with Driscoll’s crass language and Macho Man image. John MacArthur has gone on record condemning Driscoll for his outrageous language.
The Acts 29 Network does appear to be successful in church planting. In our area The Summit, led by J.D. Greear, is part of this network of churches, as is Matt Chandler’s church network.
Last week the Associated Baptist Press published an article with this headline: “SBC leader cites Calvinism as top challenge”. Thanks Arce for bringing this to our attention. We appreciate it when our friends in the blogosphere keep us informed.
This ABP article states: (link)
“I think one of the issues which is a tremendous challenge for us is the theological divide of Calvinism and non-Calvinism,” Frank Page, CEO of the SBC Executive Committee said in a blog interview posted Oct. 18 at SBC Today.
“Everyone is aware of this, but few want to talk about this in public,” elaborated Page, who assumed the post of president and CEO of the SBC fiduciary and executive agency last year. “The reason is obvious. It is deeply divisive in many situations and is disconcerting in others. At some point we are going to see the challenges which are ensuing from this divide become even more problematic for us. I regularly receive communications from churches who are struggling over this issue.”
Page, a former South Carolina pastor who served as SBC president 2006-2008, authored an 80-page booklet in 2000 titled Trouble with the TULIP: A Closer Examination of the Five Points of Calvinism. In it he termed Calvinism a “man-made” doctrine not supported by Scripture and defended what he called "the true teachings of grace."
The article also includes the following:
“Renewed interest in Calvinism, also known as Reformed Theology and the Doctrines of Grace, began with influential leaders, including Southern Seminary President Albert Mohler, who view it as a healthy return to Southern Baptists’ historic roots.
Others see it as a negative trend that threatens to take over the convention in a manner similar to the “conservative resurgence” of the late 20th century. That is a name used to describe a movement that redirected the more moderate and mainstream theology held by many SBC leaders before the 1980s toward a more conservative embrace of biblical inerrancy that now holds sway.
Page, who has a Ph.D. from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, claims he is neither Calvinist nor Arminian but says there needs to be honest dialogue between the camps.”
Roger Olson, Professor of Theology at George W. Truett Theological Seminary of Baylor University, has chimed in with a timely blog post — Controversy over Calvinism brewing in the SBC. Olson writes:
“According to a report published by the Associate Baptist Press dated October 19, “SBC leader cites Calvinism as top challenge” in the Southern Baptist Convention. This is hardly news; the Calvinist-non-Calvinist (really Arminian) controversy has been bubbling up among the conservatives who took over the SBC for years…
Here are some of my reactions to this brewing Baptist brouhaha:
“First, I think it is ironic and a little funny (as well as sad) that the ultra-conservatives who took over the SBC and pushed out moderates are now fighting among themselves. I’ve predicted this ever since the take over was complete. Fundamentalists are never satisfied to be at peace–even with their own brothers and sisters. Fundamentalist DNA is to fight over something. If it weren’t Calvinism versus Arminianism (even if the Arminians in this controversy aren’t calling themselves that) it would be eschatology or the gifts of the Spirit (cessationism versus charismatic belief). Oh, come to think of it…these are also controversies among fundamentalists!
A quick caveat–I do not mean to imply that ALL SBC conservatives are fundamentalists, but some are. And they tend to be the ones who always have to be fighting over the finer points of doctrine.
Second, I wish the Baptist Arminians would quit running from the word. Frank Page claims he’s neither a Calvinist nor an Arminian. I heard that all the time among Baptists in the South especially. And the only reason for it is a wrong impression of what it means to be Arminian. As I have demonstrated in Arminian Theology: Myths and Realities, one can be fully and authentically Arminian and believe in inamissable grace (so-called “eternal security”).
Third, in a denomination as large and diverse as the SBC there should be plenty of room for both Calvinists and Arminians. Historically there has been. But many Calvinists are arguing that the SBC is “historically Calvinist.” Really? If you want to go back to the beginnings of the Convention in pre-Civil War days you’d find many of the founders were Calvinists who owned slaves! So if the SBC founders should be followed in their Calvinism, why not in their racism? In fact, the Baptist Faith & Message is worded intentionally to allow for both soteriologies. And probably the majority of SBC leaders throughout the last century have been so-called “Calminians”–a position I think is inconsistent but at least not full blown Calvinism.
Finally, the real issue should be full disclosure by pastoral candidates and congregations seeking pastors. Knowing how controversial it is, Calvinist pastoral candidates should be completely “up front” about their Calvinism with churches interviewing them. And churches seeking a pastor should lay all their cards on the table, so to speak, and tell pastoral candidates what theologies they cannot tolerate.
I, for one, have no problem with Calvinist Baptist churches and Calvinist pastors in Baptist churches. There have always been some. The only time it becomes a problem is when Calvinists or Arminians sneak into pulpits hiding their theologies and then “come out of the closet” with them, surprising the congregation by attempting to enforce their distinctive view of God’s sovereignty on an unsuspecting and unprepared congregation. This is happening a lot these days. For the most part it is Calvinists doing it. I have heard no reports of Arminians sneaking into pulpits hiding their Arminianism and then attempting to enforce it on a largely Calvinist (or “Calminian”) congregation. So far as I know this never happens.
Within denominations that lack a clear confessional stance on God’s sovereignty in salvation, there should be tolerance and mutual respect combined with complete transparency. This would solve most, if not all, of the controversies over this matter."
We concur with Roger Olson's assessment of the current climate in the SBC and pray that Southern Baptists will heed his words. Sadly, the conflict taking place in Kentucky represents on a small scale the HUGE conflict that is taking place in the Southern Baptist Convention.
As the internal conflict continues, sides are being formed. There must be a way to find a common ground in the SBC and reject the extremes on both sides.
Unless SBC leaders get their act together and acknowledge two different viewpoints which are equally acceptable, there will be infighting and ultimately DIVISION. The current trajectory will divide the Southern Baptist Convention, resulting in tremendous harm to the cause of Christ, particularly missions.
As Chesterton stated, "We are all in the same boat in a stormy sea, and we owe each other a terrible loyalty." Calvinists and Arminians and those in between are not in separate boats — they are all in the same boat – the Christian boat! The storms are raging and we Christians must stick together if we are to fulfill the Great Commission as Jesus commanded.
Lydia's Corner: 2 Chronicles 21:1-23:21 Romans 11:13-36 Psalm 22:1-18 Proverbs 20:7