Baptist News Global Publishes False Claim about Tom Ascol and Hyper Calvinism

Yesterday, Mark Wingfield at Baptist News Global published an article entitled “Sills lawsuit misrepresents a piece of evidence, and that error got highlighted by Ascol and Basham”. The article is part of on-going coverage in the religious press of an allegedly sexually abusive relationship between Jenifer Lyell and former Southern Baptist Theological Seminary professor David Sills. The handling of the Lyell-Sills affair by Southern Baptist leadership has been, to say the least, controversial and Wingfield’s article will no doubt add more fuel to the fire. One false detail of Wingfield’s reporting, however, must not go unnoticed. In his article Wingfield claims that Tom Ascol, Tom Buck, and Megan Basham share a common adherence to “an extreme version of Reformed theology, known as Hyper-Calvinism, that has been on the resurgence in the SBC over the past 30 years.”. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Hyper-Calvinism is not now, nor has it ever been, a popular position in the Southern Baptist Convention. Tom Ascol certainly does not hold to Hyper-Calvinism. To qualify as a “Hyper Calvinist” one must reject the great-commision duty to evangelize the lost. Josh Buice, writing at the G3 blog, has explained Hyper-Calvinism quite well:

When understood properly, hyper-Calvinism is a technical term for an extreme and unbiblical view that rejects any need for Christians to engage in missions and evangelism.  Simply put, hyper-Calvinists forbid the preaching of the gospel and the offer of salvation to the non-elect.  Such people believe that God has chosen people in Christ in eternity past and will bring about His results without the help of His people.  Hyper-Calvinism is heresy and must be rejected.

Josh Buice

One is more likely to find a Southern Baptist who believes the world is flat than to find one who is a Hyper-Calvinist. Wingfield seems to confuse being a Calvinist who strongly supports complimentarianism and the innerancy of scripture (which does accurately describe Ascol and Buck) with being a Hyper-Calvinist. Frankly, Wingfield is either too dishonest or too ignorant to be writing articles for a Baptist Press. His mislabeling of Ascol’s theological position makes his article look more like a hit piece than an objective price of journalism. In a strange twist of irony, Wingfield has misrepresented his subjects in an article about misrepresentation.

I don’t know if all the sordid details of the Lyell-Sills affair and it’s handling will ever come to light. What I do know is that Christians should fulfill the great commission and evangelize the lost. This is something Tom Ascol has dedicated himself, vocationally, to do. Let us hope he’ll will be more successful in his vocation than Mark Wingfield has been at his.

*Please note that the preceding is my personal opinion. It is not necessarily the opinion of any entity by which I am employed, any church at which I am a member, any church which I attend, or the educational institution at which I am enrolled. Any copyrighted material displayed or referenced is done under the doctrine of fair use.

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Seth Dunn

Masters of Divinity in Christian Apologetics, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary Member of the Evangelical Theological Society Certified Public Accountant