The following is a transcript of small portion of Monday’s Pulpit & Pen Program, in which JD briefly discusses what he believes to be a mischaracterization of The Squirrel’s recent post by Dave Miller and, more concerning, the marginalization of legitimate concerns through soteriological reductionism.
“I talked about this article on the program Friday (or whenever it was) from Gene Clyatt, “Why I Haven’t Left the Southern Baptist Convention” and I said that I don’t want to talk about it, but I’ll let Gene talk about it on the Pulpit and Pen. In the post last week we said that they’re going to keep doing what they had been doing and, again, sign up on the right-hand column of [the website] to become pulpiteer and stay up to date with what the contributors are talking about on the website, which is often what I’m talking about on the program.
Gene lists five – four – different things that he’s concerned about in relation to the denomination of which he is a part. Let me list them for you real quick…
Number one, the lack of doctrinal standards applied to the question of what books are sold at Lifeway. Number two, the danger of false conversions brought on by climate of easy believism and decisional regeneration. Number three, inflated membership numbers driven by pride and ego in leadership and number four, how national entities and state conventions ignore the wishes of local churches and how political expediency instead of the conviction often drives decisions made at all levels.
Dave Miller of SBC Voices posted an article in response to Gene’s called “Maybe the SBC Isn’t For You.” Now, the point of Gene’s article was that in spite of all these problems, until they anathematized him he’ll be here calling for reform. And [Dave Miller] wrote this in response to two articles mainly, one was by Bob Hadley – who is the Chancellor of some kind, I don’t know, some kind of diploma mill in Florida – and I was going to talk about Hadley’s post – but again I’m not fighting that anymore (I decided not to talk about [Hadley’s article] and put it into a Downgrade, because I’m trying to drop it) – is that if the IMB appoints another Calvinist somebody from Louisville or Southern Seminary that he would be done funding any foreign missions through the IMB. At least, that’s from the best of my memory so if I got you wrong, Bob, let me know but that’s what I took from it.
Here’s what that Miller says about Gene’s post and the reason I’m commenting – again I don’t want to get in the middle of these fights but if someone mischaracterizes what is said on the website that bears my name – on the logo, anyway – even though I don’t write there I’m going to use the program to say “Hey man, you mischaracterized us. I mean, let’s be honest.”
[Dave Miller] says, speaking of the post from Gene, that it was “from an ardent, passionate Calvinist who is part of a movement seeking to reform the SBC, along Calvinist lines of course, and his friends are sometimes harsh in their criticisms of the SBC – some of those those criticisms I agree,” he says, and some he disagrees with and “he queried as to why he remains within the SBC and not heading out to some Reformed Baptist Fellowship” and said “it is his desire to remain within the SBC and until they band together to kick him out he’ll be here, calling for Reform. And then, Dave says, “Here’s the thing, they’re well within their rights to advocate these positions, but we’re autonomous, etcetera etcetera….
Here’s my issue, though. My issue is that he characterized Gene’s post as being from an “ardent, passionate Calvinist, who is part of the movement to reform the SBC from along Calvinist lines.” I read to you the concerns that Gene had in his post – the lack of doctrinal standards applied to what is sold at Lifeway (owned by the SBC), the danger of false conversions, inflated membership numbers driven by pride and ego and how national entities and state conventions ignore the wishes of local churches. Which one of those deals specifically with Calvinism? None of them.
Even if you want to argue that the concern of easy-believism or decisional regeneration is inherently a Calvinist issue, you’d still be wrong. It’s not, and I know a lot of good Arminian-leaning friends or “3 point Calvinists” (whatever you want to call them) that despise easy-believism and decisional regeneration as much as we do. It’s like saying that if you’re not Calvinist then you just somehow automatically adopted Charles Finney’s evangelism strategy or Tim Lee’s evangelism strategy or Steve Gaines’ evangelism strategy , which is all the same thing, it’s Finneyism – you understand that. It’s not true, guys. So here’s what I have to say to SBC Voices – in it as lovingly as I can muster – please, please for the sake of honesty and argument, every time someone brings up concerns, can we please stop making it just about their soteriology? That doesn’t help anything. It doesn’t help anything.
To be fair in Hadley’s piece, yes. That’s what he was concerned about – the Calvinism versus Arminianism (or traditionalism, as he would call it) issue. That had nothing to do with Gene’s post, with Gene’s concerns, that had nothing to do with it – but Gene’s a Calvinist so that must have had something to do with it. Here’s the problem; we can’t talk about what’s happening in these various entities because as soon as we do somebody who wants to stay in the middle because that’s where they’re comfortable staying, who thinks the truth always lies (I’m not saying that’s Dave) but I see it over again, somebody wants to stay in the middle says, “They’re just a Calvinist.” If someone wanted to criticize Mark Driscoll, just because they’re an Arminian, it doesn’t mean that what they have to say is not valid. I personally am tired of – not just me but the entire movement for reform in the SBC – being marginalized by soteriology. It’s much deeper than that.
You’ve heard me go after SBC leaders over, say, confetti cannons and stuff like that. Have I been going after their soteriology? No. I may talk about them doing the ALS ice bucket challenge to send money to a group that is open to embryonic stem cell research, but that has nothing to do with the fact that the president of the SBC is doctrinally ambiguous and is probably neither [Calvinist or Arminian]. It has nothing to do with that and I think it’s very unfortunate when we see well-read, well-respected blogs do this type of thing where if you have concerns you’re nothing but your soteriology and it’s very unfortunate indeed.
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