“God whispered, “You endured a lot. For that I am truly sorry, but grateful. I needed you to struggle to help so many. Through that process, you would grow into who you have now become. Didn’t you know that I gave all my struggles to my favorite children? One only needs to look at the struggles given to your older brother Jesus to know how important you have been to me.”
Update 9/29/20: Today I contacted Joe Mira who appeared to be a bit put out that I posted this without speaking with him first. I offered to post a statement for him. He didn’t take me up on the offer. He said, “I don’t give you permission to post what I said.” This conversation only reinforces my opinion that, in this church, love really doesn’t matter. It’s all about theology and control. This post brings some control back to the Hubbardas who I believe were unjustly *dismembered.* I stand with them.
The next three statements are Dee’s observations over the last 11 1/2 years which figure into the following tragic story.
- Churches that have paid for infrastructure are often takeover targets by pastors who have been unable to get sufficient funds to have *really nice digs.*
- be very cautious when a new pastor convinces you to join his church. Membership is one way the pastor can control a member.
- Hardcore Calvinistas are amongst the most controlling, ungraceful pastors that I have observed.
This sort of story is getting told so frequently that it is beginning to weigh on my spirit. It appears that for some pastors, the TULIP is far more important than love. As my good friend (and Reformed SBC pastor) Wade Burleson often warns: ” Don’t let your theology trump your love.” Sadly, the trumping of love played out at First Baptist Church, Cutler Ridge. Joe Mira is a graduate of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary which is well known for its support for Reformed Baptist theology. Of course, there are many Reformed churches that claim that one cannot be both Reformed and Baptist. Reformed Baptists ardently disagree.
Natalia is an Hispanic woman who has attended this church since she married her husband, Clayton. Clayton has been a member of this traditional Baptist church since he was a young teen. Joe Mira served in this church a number of years ago as an assistant pastor/youth pastor. H left.because, as he himself said *I was a bird too big for my cage.* (!). He planted another church that had a modest number of members. When Mira once again applied for the lead pastor’s job, he got it. His tenure on 6/2/19. He also brought a small group of members from his former church who supported him and his theology
Did the people of the church understand what he meant when he said he was Calvinist?
Joe said he was a Calvinist during the search. He got 90% of the vote. Does that mean the people of the church truly understand what the meant? There is no question that some did. There is also evidence that many did not. Unfortunately, this is something that many Calvinists, who are trained in the usual Reformed Baptist seminaries, count on. Sadly, many search committees are complicit in downplaying the Calvinism angle. In so doing, they are setting these churches up for heartache down the road. However, these Calvinist pastors don’t really care. They appear to relish the inevitable conflict.
Joe Mira began immediately to change the bylaws and constitution.
Recently I wrote Did You Ever Wonder Why Church Takeovers Begin With Changing the Bylaws? Bylaws Are a Contract Between Members. The bylaws change is often done to protect the pastor and the church from lawsuits. The lowly church member doesn’t figure into this equation. So, it is no surprise to discover that Mira began changing the bylaws and constitution on his very first day. He even changed the FBCCR website. He was moving quickly to take over the control of the church. On 10/16/19 he bypassed the usual process and asked the members for approval for his changes. In a moment of brilliance, the members didn’t agree. Here is one example of his changes. Mira did post his articles of faith online even though those changes have not been approved
Calvinism begins to make an appearance throughout the church.
Natalia began to notice something was off in the sermons. She began to research what she was hearing and discovered a debate that Joe Mira had with a non-Calvinist: Braxton Hunter vs. Joe Mira – Is Calvinism True? Natalia emailed the pastor in order to confirm that he was still a Calvinist. After Joe claimed that the church knew he was a Calvinist, Natalia fact-checked this statement with serveral female members. Clayton also fact-checked this with two deacons. Surprisingly, none of them knew that Joe was a Calvinist and didn’t really understand what that meant.
The following are some snippets from Natalia’s and Joe’s email exchange.
“the debate, that’s an older conference that I was spontaneously invited to participate in bc the person who was supposed to debate Braxton backed out. So, the format was prepared beforehand by Braxton (who had been speaking at the church for a few days already) and the debate was the climax, which meant I was in the dark re its setting and was essentially brought in to unravel 4 days of anti-Calvinistic verbiage. But yes, I am thoroughly Calvinistic, but there is more to it”
“It comes to mind right now, in the debate, you said the doctrine in which you subscribe and defend is Calvinism. Today you say you’re thoroughly Calvinistic. But I have not heard you say “Calvinism” at FBCCR. Perhaps I missed it on a Sunday or Wednesday, but I don’t recall a straightforward reference to Calvinist doctrine in which I heard “Calvinism.” I assume it informs your evangelism and pastoring per the debate I heard. Has this been communicated to the body at FBCCR? ” Please note that I am thoroughly NOT Calvinistic.
“But you will hear me quote from Calvin regularly (as well as other non-Calvinistic authors, pastors, theologians). I choose not to use the term “Calvinist” because there are amateurs who think they know something about topics when in fact all they know is what someone else has told them about it. Therefore, I stay away from terms and simply preach the Word line by line. Incidentally, the doctrines that I hold to (and the theology that I espouse) is the result of studying, preaching, and teaching line by line. I could not in good conscience be anything but a Calvinist, although I don’t care what it’s called.
And finally, yes, my theology informs everything for me. So does yours. So does everyone else’s. It’s important to note that you have never heard me defend “Calvinism” from the pulpit and yet I teach what falls under that heading (with no objection from you thus far, mind you). This means that the name or the person associated with it isn’t what’s relevant. It could just as well be called Augustinianism (4th century). The important point is that I’m teaching the Bible and delivering messages that are exegetical and expositional.
Now, since I’ve answered your questions, let me ask you to answer mine. Have you ever been taught Calvinism by a Calvinist? Or are you “thoroughly NOT Calvinist” because of what some non-Calvinist has taught you? Or what you’ve gleaned on your own? (I don’t mean this w a condescending tone…they are genuine questions.)”
“My question wasn’t “if you have debated, or will debate Calvinism from the pulpit” but “has the body of believers at FBCCR been informed that you are a Calvinist and told so directly by you?” FBCCR’s body is not equal to a pastor-search committee. What the committee saw and read probably didn’t get communicated to the rest of the body. If it did, I missed that probably because I wasn’t a member and not privy to member info.
I listened to your debate and heard your side and Hunter’s side. I’m informed of Calvinism by you in that debate. I did not hear any other previous debates. Also, I’m reading up on the argument against Calvinism through David Padfield’s 6 part breakdown on Calvinism. I’m not going to debate Calvinism or learn it from beyond these 2 sources. Yes, I am an amateur but I have the Holy Spirit guiding and I’m beyond troubled with Calvinism. I’d like to leave it at that.”
“I think your distinction is one of polity—the search committee is formed for the purpose it serves on behalf of the church. And at no point have I ever shied away from referring to myself as a Calvinist or describing my position on theological tenets associated with it. During the Q&A time on Sunday afternoon,
I was elected, for example, I addressed this topic through Eph. 1. I don’t recall everyone who was there (therefore I don’t recall if you and Clayton were there). Honestly, I don’t appreciate the insinuation of impropriety or coverup on my part.
One debate, the circumstances of which were already described, is insufficient for hundreds of years of theological development. This is why I asked if you had ever sat with a Calvinist…not a series of preloaded arguments. It might be worthwhile. Yes, you do have the Holy Spirit, and John Calvin had the Holy Spirit, too. If that is your barometer, then you might consider reading him instead of what someone else says about him (myself including). By the way, no one is “untroubled” by Calvinism…maybe for different reasons, though.
I don’t expect anyone to agree with everything I say or every position I hold. I don’t know anyone who agrees with someone else 100% of the time. But my Calvinist foundation (as you refer to it) should be redacted. I already mentioned that I’m going through the Bible, not Calvin’s Institutes. I’m not building Calvinists. I’m building Bible-believing Christians.
An interesting note to end on. Frankly, even if you did want to do something with this conversation, you have no grounds on which to do so, Natalia. I haven’t spoken falsely, I haven’t misrepresented the Lord or myself, and the fact that you would even suggest such is disheartening. ”
Joe (At this point, Mira showed proof that he said he was a Calvinist when he appeared before the church prior to his hire.)
“Based on what you said earlier in this thread, I conclude that 5 minutes and 44 seconds is insufficient time to clearly explain what Calvinism is and what “I am a Calvinist” means to FBCCR members and guests. Simply put, I don’t think that the church body is fully aware of what Calvinism is and “it as a scaffold” really means. The amount of time and directness you spoke in the debate, which you called insufficient, did a much better job in my understanding than the 5 minute Q&A answer. I would like to see an answer given to the church body in such a way so that we fully understand Calvinism and the direction you are moving that church, at the level of quality like I heard in the debate.”
My thoughts on the above emails
Arrogance speaks loudly in Joe Mira.
It is evident to me that Mira believes he is a bit smarter than the average church goes. However, this is a common characteristic for those who have found *the truth.* That truth is Calvinism. If you notice, he is so *brilliant* that he cannot believe that a real Christian would have to believe Calvinism if it was explained to them by a Calvinist instead of a dumb non-Calvinist.
…Now, since I’ve answered your questions, let me ask you to answer mine. Have you ever been taught Calvinism by a Calvinist? Or are you “thoroughly NOT Calvinist” because of what some non-Calvinist has taught you? Or what you’ve gleaned on your own?
… I choose not to use the term “Calvinist” because there are amateurs who think they know something about topics when in fact all they know is what someone else has told them about it.
… He originally ledft the church because, in his own words *I was a bird too big for my cage.* (!)
It gets worse in this next statement. He MUST be a Calvinist due to his good conscience.
I stay away from terms and simply preach the Word line by line. Incidentally, the doctrines that I hold to (and the theology that I espouse) is the result of studying, preaching, and teaching line by line. I could not in good conscience be anything but a Calvinist, although I don’t care what it’s called.
Verbally disagreeing with Calvinism is anti-Calvinistic verbiage
This is silly… There are brilliant Arminian theologians who can winsomely describe why they are not Calvinists. Calvinists in some circles are known for their derogatory verbiage.
(I) was essentially brought in to unravel 4 days of anti-Calvinistic verbiage. But yes, I am thoroughly Calvinistic, but there is more to it”
How many people have Joe told about RC Sproul’s famous statement?”c Christians who are not Calvinists are Christian but barely?” Here is the link.
Sadly, it is evident to me that Joe Mira knew exactly what he was doing when he came to the church. he is using the typical methods of the takeover of a church as taught by many of today’s Reformed Baptist seminaries. That includes getting rid of those who disagree with him. They are willing to lose several members to have those who are *yes* men or those who will “love their pastor, no matter what.
Natalia and Clayton asked for the deacons to hear their grievance.
Their current church bylaws allow for a grievance hearing before the deacons. However, the deacons, acting as apparent *yes* men for the pastor (which is a universally recognized problem with deacons and elders) refused to hear this as a group. Natalia and Clayton then sent their grievance to their church body which averages around 100 members. In such a small church, a family atmosphere used to exist. They asked to meet with the church to air out their concerns.
Sadly, they have had little experience with hard-driving Calvinist pastors who I have named *Calvinistas.* There was not a chance he would let such a meeting happen since he is the controlling authority. And that is exactly what happened. Pastor Joe had other plans for this couple and it didn’t involve lovingly sitting down with them and hashing it out. Being a Calvinista means never having to act in humility. Such a pastor gets to act just like John Calvin who took care of the Servetus problem, toot suite.
Pastor Joe canceled any hope of an *all church meeting* and hints that he’s planning something else.
A meeting was convened to remove the Hubbards from church membership.
In advance of this meeting, a ballot was made up. *Yes* or *no.* That’s it. There was some time set aside to allow members to have two minutes each (rigidly enforced) to discuss what was happening. If one listens carefully to this lengthy meeting, one will hear Pastor Joe getting angry. (What a surprise.)
There were some good people who showed up to defend the Hubbards. One man said of the pastor *You are a control freak.* That was probably the most succinct evaluation of this entire situation.
However, there were some people who were less than helpful. Some of the sillier comments were:
- “You are trying to destroy him”
- “These are attacks on Joe.”
- ” He doesn’t teach Calvinism.”
- “All that comes out of his mouth is the Bible.”
- “John MacArthur (a Calvinist on the West Coast) is one of the greatest theological minds in the world. “This gentleman is not well-read. Link and Link.
There is more and church members can check with one another to see who recorded this.
Sadly, they were voted out of church membership but there was some significant pushback. Several people present asked if this decision could be postponed and have the deacons meet with the couple but this suggestion was studiously ignored. They were there to vote out the Hubbards. End of story. I can assure you that Natalia finally understood why the pastor wanted her to join *his* local church. That is the only way he could control here. If she had not been a member, there would have been no meeting. Folks, this is why I recommend that you never, ever join a church until you get to know the lead pastor over a prolonged period.
A story for Pastor Joe and his followers
Years ago, Wade Burleson (Reformed Baptist), senior pastor of Emmanuel Enid, a large SBC church in Enid, OK. (about 3,000 members) discovered that a small group of people, who disagreed with him, was meeting behind his back. Wade found out about it. Did he call a meeting to get rid of those awful people? Did he throw them out of the church? Did he yell at them and tell them to *stop it?”
No. Wade is a loving man of God and he lives that will his people. He contacted the man running the group and told him he supported them gathering to figure out things. He said if they ever wanted him to come to a meeting to answer questions, he would. He even offered them places to meet. Guess what? In a short period, these dissatisfied folks became big supporters of Wade and the church. They experienced the love of a humble pastor. That is not what happened here.
Maybe its time for Joe to rethink his paradigm.
While he does that, here are two resources for those of you who want to hear another point of view.
- Dr. Roger Olson is a well-known professor at Baylor, a theologian, and an Arminian.
- The Society of Evangelical Arminians
These folks are really smart and, *in good conscience,* could not be Calvinists.