The role of the pastor is to embody the gospel. And of course to get it embodied, which you can only do with individuals, not in the abstract. Eugene H. Peterson link
Who are the Founders?
For those of you who are new to this game, The Founders describe their history this way.
In 1982, a group of men committed to the doctrines of grace met in Euless, Texas to think about, pray for and plan efforts to encourage church leaders not only to see the full authority of God’s Word but also to affirm its sufficiency in all matters of faith and practice. After spending the morning in prayer, plans for a conference were developed and the first Founders Conference was held in Memphis, Tennessee the next year. The conference met annually there for the first 8 years, moved to Birmingham, Alabama from 1991 to 2004, and was hosted by churches from in following years. Past speakers have included John MacArthur, J. I. Packer, Iain Murray, Al Mohler and John Piper. Themes have included missions, evangelism, revival, preaching, pastoral ministry, sanctification, the doctrines of grace, law and gospel and the church.
What do the Founders believe?
In case you didn't pick this up, they believe in *the doctrines of grace* and that only men were involved in the founding of this group.This means they are 5 point Calvinists. Be aware that they use the doctrines of grace to mess with the heads of unsuspecting churches who are searching for new pastors.
Here is how they describe their purpose.
Founders Ministries is committed to encouraging the recovery of the gospel and the biblical reformation of local churches. We believe that the biblical faith is inherently doctrinal, and we are therefore confessional in our convictions. We recognize the time-tested Second London Baptist Confession of Faith (1689) as a faithful summary of important biblical teachings and the abstract of that confession known as the Abstract of Principles.
How do the Founders share their beliefs?
Founders encourages the recovery of the gospel and the biblical reformation of local churches through providing biblical instruction in a number of ways. The Founders Journal is published four times a year, highlighting pertinent theological and ecclesiological issues.
- They also have conferences, lots and lots of conferences.
- Here is an overview of their ministries. They are particularly interested in reforming local churches. As you read this blog and others which discuss the covert takeovers of churches by hardcore Calvinists, think about this group.
- Here are their leaders.
- Here is a link to their blog which you should check from time to time to keep up with their thinking.
- Here is a link to some of their writers. You will recognize some of them like Kevin DeYoung and Mark Dever.
In other words, the Founders is another one of those Calvinist affinity organizations like The Gospel Coalition, CBMW and Acts 29. However, they emphasize Calvinism in the SBC.
Churches, Get a Calvinist Pastor!
Tom Nettles is widely regarded as one of the foremost Baptist historians in America. He has most recently served as the Professor of Historical Theology at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He previously taught at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School where he was Professor of Church History and Chair of the Department of Church History. Prior to that, he taught at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary. Along with numerous journal articles and scholarly papers, Dr. Nettles is the author and editor of nine books. Among his books are By His Grace and For His Glory; Baptists and the Bible, which he co-authored with L. Russ Bush; Why I Am a Baptist; James Petigru Boyce: A Southern Baptist Statesman; and Living by Revealed Truth: The Life and Pastoral Theology of Charles Spurgeon.
Given Nettles interest in church history, it is no wonder that he builds the case that the SBC had its roots in Calvinism. He says that these historical preachers were Baptist Calvinists. You can read the short history at the beginning of the post. He then goes on to sound the alarm. In italics, he pronounces calamity that has come upon the SBC.
Today, however, some Southern Baptists are warning the churches against them.
Following his short history, he proclaims that the SBC needs preachers like those Calvinists of old in order to maintain and assure, read this carefully,
the spiritual and doctrinal health and fervor of the churches.
Here is a reminder of the 5 points of Calvinism.
Total Depravity (also known as Total Inability and Original Sin)
Limited Atonement (also known as Particular Atonement)
Perseverance of the Saints (also known as Once Saved Always Saved)
Are his attempts at differentiation between Calvinism and Arminianism successful?
1. The perseverance of the saints must always be linked to the doctrines of grace exclusively
Quoting James Boyce
In his analysis of the doctrine of Perseverance of the Saints, Boyce wrote, “This doctrine is inseparably associated with the other doctrines of grace which we have found taught in God’s word. So true is this, that they are universally accepted, or rejected together."
…Boyce’s conviction at this point challenges the contemporary position of many Baptists who still maintain a doctrine of perseverance but separate it from the rest of the biblical pattern, the doctrinal system, of which it is intrinsically a part.
This makes little logical sense. If one accepts one particular doctrinal point, one must accept all points of a discrete system. My husband calls this *package Christianity." Ken Ham is a known purveyor of such tactics. In his view, one must accepts 7/ 24 hour days of creation, a 6,000 year old earth, and world-wide flood in order to truly accept the doctrine of atonement. That is a made up paradigm, as is the one presented by Nettles.
There are some non-negotiables when it comes to the orthodox Christian faith. These are summed up nicely in the Nicene Creed from 325 AD. The problem with many other package deals throughout the millennia is that they include doctrinal assumptions based on a particular interpretation of Scripture.
I am sorry that Mr Nettles has not seen the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints taught outside of his bubble of the Reformed universe. However, I can assure him that many non-Calvinist also subscribe to this doctrine and it is not inconsistent with free will as some Calvinists like to claim. Roger Olson discusses this here.
So, on this point, one does not need a Calvinist preacher. We need a loving Christian pastor.
2. With such a pastor one could more easily sense *divine grace.*
Now Calvinists are appealing to *feelings?* I wonder what Nettles would say if I told him that I sensed divine grace from the moment I came to Jesus ? I have sensed if in many of the churches I have attended along with small groups with which I have been associated. I have sensed it in working with some parachurch organizations, on the Navajo Reservation and looking at the glaciers in Alaska. One does not need to be a Calvinist in order to *sense* grace.
Some congregations, however, might desire to consider why Baptists for so long guarded their confessional Calvinism with great care and endured many storms undergirded by that foundation. They might consider that opening themselves to embrace that which is truly “traditional” could elevate the sense of the divine presence of grace in their lives.
3. A Calvinist firmly believes in the divine inspiration of Scriptures and non-Calvinists messed things up.
It appears we are supposed to need a Calvinist because lots of Calvinists have written on this subject. It was the decline in commitment to Calvinism that led to those who are opposed to the inspiration of the Scriptures. I totally disagree. It was the decline in the belief of orthodox Christianity as stated in the Nicene Creed that led to the liberalism of the 1900s. Once again, we don't need a Calvinist to clear things up.
A large number of cogent defenses of the inerrancy of Scripture have been written by Calvinists. Some would say that these are among the most profound ever produced in Christian literature. Calvinism provides a more consistent rationale for inerrancy than other theological systems
…. One of the most often repeated objections to the divine inspiration of Scripture is that its assumption of perfect divine control of the process runs roughshod over human freedom and does not give sufficient room to human finiteness or human sin. These were objections, concurrent with the decline of commitment to Calvinism, that landed many leading voices of twentieth-century denominational life in a position opposed to inerrancy and verbal inspiration.
4. A Calvinist firmly believes the biblical doctrine of the Trinity because the doctrine of grace are a manifestation of the Trinity.
Yes, I know. There are many of you scratching your heads on this one. I am banging my head on the table. I became a Christian when I was 17 and I have been a member of a number of evangelical churches in many denominations- Christian Reformed, nondenominational, Methodist, SBC, Episcopalian, Lutheran, etc. Each and every one of them stressed the Trinity. Only two of those church would be considered Reformed.
When I got to this point, I began to think the author was being a bit sneaky on how he represented the Calvinist point of view. He was alluding that this is what you were going to get with a Calvinist preacher that you won't get with non-Calvinist Christian. Codswallop!
Calvinists believe that their perception of salvation has an intrinsic dependence on the Trinity as is manifest in no other theological system. They believe the doctrines of grace are themselves a manifestation of the necessary co-equality of the persons in the Trinity.
…The Father elected in his infinite wisdom, the Son in obedience to the will of the Father procured in a way full consistent with the honor and glory of the Father,, and the Spirit, honoring the will of the Father and the obedience of the Son, works effectually in divine omnipotence to establish that salvations in the personal experience of the elect person. Because every aspect of salvation requires one of infinite power and glory to bring it about, Calvinism rests its soteriology on the doctrine of the Trinity. If a church gets a Calvinist pastor, she will never find him uneasy with the doctrine of the Trinity,
5. A Calvinist firmly believes the doctrine of substitutionary atonement.
Nettles argues that believing the Christ died exclusively for the elect is the only way to get to this doctrinal truth. In fact, he claims that not believing that Christ died for only for the elect puts the work of the Trinity on hold.
This is not true. Substitutionary atonement was stressed in every church that I attended. Just as Calvinists believe in *irresistible grace* non-Calvinist believe in prevenient grace. We are dead in our sins but the grace of God gives us the ability to freely accept the gift of Jesus.
If I hear one more Calvinist say that this point of view means that non-Calvinist believe that they participate in their own salvation, I will slap them upside the head. Each and every non-Calvinist that I have met and talked with would deny this with all of their being. Nettles needs to be careful in how he represents those who are not Calvinists and stop trying to divide us unnecessarily.
Sorry, but we do not need a Calvinist preacher to hear the doctrine of substitutionary atonement preached.
To assert an atonement that is substitutionary but makes its effect merely potential puts the entire work of the Trinity on hold and subject to the decision of a sinner dead in his trespasses and sins.
6. A Calvinist firmly believes in religious liberty.
Huh? And a non-Calvinist doesn't? Once again, according to Nettles, this all has to do with the pre-chosen elect. If one does not buy that doctrinal point, one cannot believe in religious liberty. This is getting just batty. Non-Calvinist believe in religious liberty and a Calvinist pastor is not needed for this issue.
The rationale for this position, beyond the fact that the Bible assumes its truthfulness, is clearly Calvinistic. Because of the fall, the human will is in bondage; only the effectual call of God can open the heart to believe. God is determined that all his elect shall come and no power of hell can keep him from saving his elect and thus building his church.
…God builds his church through the preaching of his called and sent ministers, and not through government sponsorship or carnal intervention. If a church has a Calvinist pastor, she has a man that believes strongly in religious liberty.
7. A Calvinist firmly believes in missions and evangelism.
So does every non-Calvinist Christian that I have ever met. Now I am beginning to think that Nettles is deliberately misrepresenting non-Calvinists. In this section, Nettles seems to believe that God's special call in missions only rests on those who are Calvinists. Baloney. I support two missionaries who are not Calvinists and have been missionaries for their entire adult lives.
the great commission “requires us to preach the gospel to every creature; and we ought to be foremost in obeying it.” He pointed to the far-reaching consequences of the obedience of William Carey and the English Baptists as well as the providential conversion of Judson and Rice to be regarded as “as a special call of God on American Baptists to labor for the spread of the gospel throughout the earth.”
8. A Calvinist firmly believes in Christ-centered preaching.
A non-Calvinist preacher does not? I can truthfully say that I clearly heard Christ proclaimed via the vehicle of expository preaching far better in non-Calvinist churches in Boston and Dallas than I did in a Calvinista Baptist church in Raleigh. My greatest growth as a Christian took place in those churches.
The Calvinist believes that God operates by means that are consistent with his character, and the only one in whom salvation resides in a way consistent with the character of God is in Christ.13 If a church has a Calvinist as a preacher, she has a preacher that will consistently and joyfully preach Christ in the fullness of his saving power.
9. A Calvinist firmly believes in holiness of life.
Nettles has not read this blog. There is absolutely no question in my mind that the Calvinists do not outshine non-Calvinists when it comes to holiness. To pretend that they do means Nettles is either deliberately misrepresenting Calvinists or has his head stuck firmly in the sand. Let's remember two: Dr Iain Campbell (the Calvinist's Calvinist) and Mark Driscoll. This statement is pure baloney. Today's Calvinist movement needs a good dose of humility and reading CJ Mahaney's book on Humility doesn't cut it. In fact, that may be the problem.
For the Calvinist, the divine purpose in election, atonement, and effectual calling, is the gathering of a people zealous of good works (Titus 2:13, 14). Because regeneration is an immediate and sovereign operation of God, it alters the affections and necessarily gives rise to hatred of sin and remorse for it.
…The Calvinistic Baptist, in a way consistent with his system, expects holiness in increasing measure in all the people of God.
10. A Calvinist firmly believes in regenerate church membership.
For those of you who don't know, regenerate means one has been reborn in a spiritual sense. Some Calvinists use this to get away from the words like *saved* or *born again.* Somehow, they think it sound cooler. Here is the deal folks. All the Christian churches that I have joined in my life required me to meet with some leader in the church to explain what I believe. I never once used the regenerate word. I spoke of how I came to Jesus and why I know that I am a believer.
Also, every church to which I have belonged would discipline a person who was involved in a serious outward sin such as adultery. Frankly, it was a non-Reformed church church to which I belonged that handled discipline effectively and it was the Calvinista Baptist church which screwed it up badly.
There is a huge Calvinist church in North Carolina No matter what they say about discipline, it is impossible to do so in massive churches. I can assure you that there are serious things that need to be disciplined but they are not because no one knows it is going on.
Having been a Christian for a long time, I have seen many Calvinists as well as many non-Calvinists walk away from the faith.
One need never fear that a Baptist who is a Calvinist will go lightly on this Baptist distinctive of regenerate church membership. The gradual compromise of the ideal of regenerate church membership as indicated by our deceitful numbers has coincided with the loss of two practices essential for maintaining this distinctive; one, care in receiving members, and two, care in maintaining spiritual health in the entire congregation through close attention to both formative and corrective discipline.
Here is what Nettles concluded with.
Churches, while you receive advice from others that encourage you to avoid a Calvinist, also seriously consider, for the sake of your souls and the glory of God, calling as your next pastor a historic Baptist Calvinist. As Boyce said, they make “good and effective preachers.”
Here is what I have to say.
Find a pastor who is a committed believer and who knows how to stress the essentials and downplay the nonessentials as he seeks for unity. Stay away from anyone who thinks that discipline is to be stressed over love and find one who knows how to discipline the serious things with love and compassion.
Find an honest person who doesn't think he is in control of your life and uses his gifts to encourage you in your Christian walk.
I have attended both Reformed church and non-Reformed churches. I currently attend a liturgically based church. Except for two of them, I have served in all of them and enjoyed the pastors because they got the love angle right. These were folks who loved their people, enjoyed being in their presence and exuded a humility that I rarely see in the churches and pastors that I have written about on this blog.
Folks, the church needs loving, kind, Biblically-literate, Christian pastors who love to answer questions far more than play the hard-line doctrinal hound dogs who think their purpose is to whip the sheep into submission.
Nettles didn't get it because he didn't ask the right question. Why do people not want a Calvinist pastor? Have they had a bad experience with one? He never once addressed the fact that there are arrogant, control freak jerks in Calvinism just like there are arrogant, control-freak jerks amongst non-Calvinists.
In the basics ,there are commonalities in belief between the two groups. It is time to acknowledge this as opposed to trying to drawing lines in the sand. Except for the issues surrounding election and irresistible grace, we are not that far away from each other. Maybe we should try to see if we can actually get along and show *grace* to one another?
As one of our readers said recently, Jesus asked Peter "Do you love me?" three times.
Whatever the reason for the three-fold “do you love me?” question, Jesus was impressing on Peter how important his new role of tending the flock of Christ’s followers would be. When someone repeats instructions to us over and over, we quickly understand that it’s extremely important for us to heed them. Jesus wanted to make sure Peter understood this vital charge He was tasking him with and the ultimate reason for it, to follow Him and glorify God (John 21:19).