Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary President to Calvinists: Leave!

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Bert Perry's picture

....I doubt you'd find many Presbyterians of any association/denomination that would agree with everything in all 46 or however many volumes Calvin wrote....but if I'm a fan of the little guy with the stuffed tiger, maybe I can be a Calvinist.  :^)

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

TylerR's picture

Editor

Patterson said:

if I held that position I would become a Presbyterian. I would not remain a Baptist, because the Baptist position from the time of the Anabaptists, really from the time of the New Testament, is very different.”

An argument about who has legitimate claim to a "label." It seems I've heard that argument somewhere else, very recently . . . where was it? Oh, well. I've gotta run - I don't want to be late for my Convergent meeting.

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

Jeremy Horn's picture

You should read some of the debates on the internet about whether Calvinism refers to Reformed Theology as a whole, or just the Doctrines in Grace. It gets very interesting at times because there are those among the Presbyterian/Reformed brethren who insist. That a Calvinist(ic?) Baptist is not a Calvinist because they reject infant Baptism and a few other denominational distinctives. It can be quite informative.

 

TylerR's picture

Editor

Yes, I've read some of that!

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

Jeremy Horn's picture

heard it called True Reformed(abbreviated as TR of all things). This sounds like a worthwhile filing to discuss. I hope it picks up as much steam as the BJU/Drinking/Convergence threads. 

I wish Patterson would have been more careful in his comments about the label and what it means. It seemed rather careless. Definitely inaccurate.

dlhanson's picture

Dr. Al Mohler, President of SBTS in Louisville, and Paige Patterson, President of SWBTS, have had their differences about Calvinism over the years.  They agreed to disagree but get along in 2006 (per Baptist Press News: "Patterson urged Southern Baptists not to follow the example of the English Baptists who divided over the issue [Calvinism]".  

 Then there was a "blue ribbon" committee report in 2013 which included this statement:  "We deny that the main purpose of the Southern Baptist Convention is theological debate. We further deny that theological discussion can be healthy if our primary aim is to win an argument, to triumph in a debate, or to draw every denominational meeting into a conversation over conflicted issues. Of more significance to our life together than any allegiance to Calvinism or non-Calvinism should be our shared identity as Southern Baptists."  Both Dr. Paige and Dr. Mohler were on this committee and signed the report.

My SBC cooperating Church is not Calvinistic and our older son's SBC cooperating Church is Calvinistic.  SBC cooperating Churches are much like independent baptist but agree to follow the Baptist Faith and Message statement of faith (our church incorporates it into our much longer constitution and statement of faith). I am not sure why Dr. Patterson has stirred things up again.  Maybe he felt pushed into it by something - Calvinism has been a burr under his saddle for a long time.   I wish that he would not have said what he did.

 

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Never heard of C. H. Spurgeon I guess?

Jeremy Horn's picture

Aaron Blumer wrote:

Never heard of C. H. Spurgeon I guess?

Maybe he's only ever read the Sword of the Lord version of CH Spurgeon :)?

Back to a serious note, as I mentioned before these remarks by Patterson are inexcusable. I realize that he isn't a big fan of Calvinism, but to claim that a Baptist that holds to the five points is going to bring in Presbyterian(which is different than Elder-led congregationalism in Reformed Baptist circles) church government, and infant baptism(these comments might have been the other guy that spoke at chapel and the wording is more vague in the article but Im guessing these are what were meant) is sheer anti-calvinist propaganda. I expect better from Patterson, whether he made those particular remarks or allowed them to stand without correction.

Bert Perry's picture

I would dare say that a certain portion of YRR in SBC churches do cause division, but I would have hoped that a more measured "since the closest representations we have to pure Calvinism are the Presbyterians, Anglicans, and Reformed churches, we hope that all of our members learn to discern between the doctrines of grace and other doctrines preached by Calvin."  Or something like that.  But sad to say, sometimes we fundagelicals don't do "measured" very well, myself included at times.

(one other thing; my first comment pillages something Spurgeon noted in a sermon about hyper-Calvinists....so that is not original to me, except for the crack about Calvin & Hobbes, of course)

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Mark_Smith's picture

Before you overreact to Paige Patterson's comments, check yourself to make sure you haven't said things like:

-If you aren't a Calvinist (or maybe an Arminian) then you are a heretic semi-Pelagian

-The true gospel is Calvinist

-Any clear reading of the gospel of John leads to Calvinism

...Things like that.

See, you can be just as dogmatic as him!

Andrew K's picture

Bert Perry wrote:

I would dare say that a certain portion of YRR in SBC churches do cause division, but I would have hoped that a more measured "since the closest representations we have to pure Calvinism are the Presbyterians, Anglicans, and Reformed churches, we hope that all of our members learn to discern between the doctrines of grace and other doctrines preached by Calvin."  Or something like that.  But sad to say, sometimes we fundagelicals don't do "measured" very well, myself included at times.

(one other thing; my first comment pillages something Spurgeon noted in a sermon about hyper-Calvinists....so that is not original to me, except for the crack about Calvin & Hobbes, of course)

Although it's important to note that not all Calvinistic Baptists in the SBC would identify as YRR. I doubt many in Founders would.

Jim's picture

Mark_Smith wrote:

Before you overreact to Paige Patterson's comments, check yourself to make sure you haven't said things like:

-If you aren't a Calvinist (or maybe an Arminian) then you are a heretic semi-Pelagian

-The true gospel is Calvinist

-Any clear reading of the gospel of John leads to Calvinism

...Things like that.

See, you can be just as dogmatic as him!

A general, burr in the saddle, rant? Or are you addressing this to someone specifically? Who's the "you"?

Bert Perry's picture

Mark_Smith wrote:

Before you overreact to Paige Patterson's comments, check yourself to make sure you haven't said things like:

-If you aren't a Calvinist (or maybe an Arminian) then you are a heretic semi-Pelagian

-The true gospel is Calvinist

-Any clear reading of the gospel of John leads to Calvinism

...Things like that.

See, you can be just as dogmatic as him!

I can almost go with with what Mark is saying here--being a confessed dogmatic person myself--but I think what Patterson is doing goes beyond what Mark describes.  Mark is describing some statements that really could be made by many people subscribing to the doctrines of grace, especially those in the "cage" stage.  If you really believe the whole bulb and bloom, the major one that you'd hesitate to say would be the first about being semi-Pelagian.  I am personally at least 80% there myself.  Get me my cage--some of y'all know I need it, no?  :^)

(let's be honest; dogmatism is great in the service of the truth, no?)

That said, Patterson is not just stating what he believes, but is rather suggesting that those who believe in the doctrines of grace ought to hit the exits--we would infer, at least in a case where we're talking about Biblical church discipline--that he's saying that the bulb and bloom is so out of step with Scripture that he cannot have fellowship with them.  Violation of the Fundamentals or solas, really.  

So my take is that Patterson is 100% OK if he simply says that he disagrees with (some of?) the doctrines of grace held by YRRs and others (thanks, Andrew), and even if he suggests that they ought inexorably to lead to other Presbyterian/Reformed distinctives.  However, just as I don't think many YRRs would subscribe to Mark's first example, I don't think that he's done the work to demonstrate this, let alone that this ought to be a barrier to fellowship.  Hence the uproar. 

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Jeremy Horn's picture

Mark_Smith wrote:

Before you overreact to Paige Patterson's comments, check yourself to make sure you haven't said things like:

-If you aren't a Calvinist (or maybe an Arminian) then you are a heretic semi-Pelagian

-The true gospel is Calvinist

-Any clear reading of the gospel of John leads to Calvinism

...Things like that.

See, you can be just as dogmatic as him!

I agree with a lot of what Bert has said Mark, But also consider...

Re: your list

1). I don't regard those who do not subscribe to the Doctrines of Grace(or 5-point Calvinism as it's also called. Bert is correct. Most Calvinists who do that sort of thing are in the "cage stage". Most who do not grow up in a Presbyterian/Reformed Baptist background and gain a new exposure to Calvinism and come to agree with/believe it go through it.

2). For any to regard Calvinism as "the True Gospel", nowhere in Scripture do we find that belief in those doctrines aare a requirement for Salvation. I'm aware of some statements made by Spurgeon(probably others), that "Calvinism is a nickname for the Gospel. In the context of Spurgeon's theology as a whole, he was regarding anyone who said "Salvation is of the Lord" is a Calvinist(not an exact quote, but there are enough Spurgeon sites on the internet where one can find the exact quote and source. That is also a very broad definition of Calvinist because Arminians affirm it as well.).

Regarding the Gospel of John and Calvinism, I direct you to John 6:37, and John 10:27-29. It is reasonable to understand why Calvinists uinterpret these passages as teaching some of the beliefs of 5-point Calvinsim.

And on the matter of Church/Baptist history, Patterson's statements are inexcuseable for him to make given that he has a Th.M and a Ph.D From New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and is the President of a seminary. He might not have majored in the field of Church History, but he should have studied enough of it during the pursuit of his education that he should know better than to make some of those statements. Bert's analysis of those statements is correct.

Donn R Arms's picture

"What we call Calvinism is the doctrine of Paul, developed by Augustine and systematized by Calvin."

John A Broadus, Lectures on the History of Preaching, 1876. page 81.

Donn R Arms

Bert Perry's picture

....I can concur with Donn.  We can differ reasonably on whether Augustine and Calvin rightly process the doctrines of Paul, but (apart from the question of inserting the Apostles' Creed as a significant source), it is indisputable that Calvin builds on Paul and Augustine.  The question is not whether Reformed theologians say these kinds of things, but whether statements like this constitute a basis for separation, in my view.  

At this point my opinion is that, absent aggravating circumstances, it does not.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Jeremy Horn's picture

dlhanson wrote:

Dr. Patterson gave further explanation that he is not asking anyone to leave the SBC.  He said he was explaining what he personally would do.  I don't want to speak for him so here is the link:

http://theologicalmatters.com/2016/12/02/concerning-remarks-on-calvinism-in-chapel-at-southwestern/

I'm glad to see the clarification. I agree that the students shouldn't have walked out. I still think that Patterson was unwise to paint the Calvinist/Reformed vs Arminianism(I am using that term in a very broad manner) as a Baptist vs Presbyterian issue. I think he's wrong to assume that it has to be all or nothing regarding Calvinism.

G. N. Barkman's picture

When I first came into the doctrines of grace in the early eighties, I received exactly the same comments as those made by Patterson.  Some Baptists in my area told me that what I believed was not baptistic, and that I either needed to change my doctrine or become Presbyterian.  That led to two considerations:  1)  A study of Presbyterianism.  I concluded that I could not become Presbyterian, primarily because of infant baptism, along with their understanding of the church.  2)  A study of Baptist church history, where I learned that English and American Baptists have a long and rich history of Calvinism.  Patterson is not only wrong, but seriously so.  A man who makes such statements has no business heading a Baptist seminary, in my opinion.  He manifests significant historical ignorance.

G. N. Barkman

Bert Perry's picture

As Jeremy noted above, if we actually treasure our heritage and the way the Reformation led to where we are, shouldn't we at least know about the historic Puritan/Separatist esteem for the doctrines of grace, even if we don't agree with them in toto?  And I have to wonder if Patterson knows better--hard to believe that one got an earned doctorate without at least hearing it around the coffee pot.  

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Joel Tetreau's picture

I would encourage Page with the thought..... if you are getting tired living with Calvinist and Calvinish leaders in the SBC ..... if you are done with that maybe a better move is for you to move on over to the Free Will Baptist. They would love you in Nashville.

Ye must be born again..... and again ..... and again ......! Smile

Straight Ahead!

jt

ps - Actually I know that the Free Will Baptist guys take the Heb 6 view once you depart you're done......so no need to correct my last statement of fun there.....

 

Dr. Joel Tetreau serves as Senior Pastor, Southeast Valley Bible Church (sevbc.org); Regional Coordinator for IBL West (iblministry.com), Board Member & friend for several different ministries;

Rob Fall's picture

Is what we used to call at MBBC, "Snack Shop Theology."

Hoping to shed more light than heat..

Jay's picture

was also how we referred to it at NBBC and BJU.

​It never ceases to amaze me that the body of Christ continually picks fights with itself instead of with our real issues.  Amazes and saddens me.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

TylerR's picture

Editor

His clarification was helpful. I forgive him!

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

David R. Brumbelow's picture

“In my reported statements, let it be clear that I asked no one to leave the SBC! Let me go further and say that I am fully aware that Baptists have historically been divided into two camps (at least)—namely, Calvinist and non-Calvinist. I do not anticipate that this will change, though historically, one observes an ebb and flow within these positions, just as in the doctrine of eschatology. I must also acknowledge that as long as the heart is hot for the winning of men and women to Christ, as long as the passionate evangelism exhibited in the New Testament is the major commitment, as long as the Calvinism on display is like that of Spurgeon, who even wrote a book specifically on soul-winning, I am content—no, I am elated to work with these brethren for the cause of Christ.”

-Paige Patterson 

http://theologicalmatters.com/2016/12/02/concerning-remarks-on-calvinism...

When Paige Patterson was SBC President he appointed the members of the committee that produced the Baptist Faith & Message 2000, the doctrinal statement of the SBC.  Among those he chose was Al Mohler. 

Patterson is a first rate scholar and evangelist.  Anytime you hear something terrible about him, I’d suggest you give it a little time for more information to come out. And, he will probably be vindicated. 

David R. Brumbelow

Jim's picture

http://baptistmessage.com/seminary-students-part-spontaneous-protest-fac...

In an unusual show of defiance a few students at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary stood and then walked out during the chapel service Nov. 29 in apparent disagreement with the speaker. 

...

The students were reacting to a message by Rick Patrick, pastor of First Baptist Church in Sylacauga, Alabama, and a 1993 graduate of Southwestern Seminary.

...

Patrick’s 38-minute message focused on the primacy of salvation in Christ.

In the first part of his sermon, Patrick noted he came to Christ after hearing the plan of salvation and praying “The Sinner’s Prayer.”

Patrick said it was disconcerting when 30 years later that prayer was being blamed for sending people to Hell.

“The blame lies not with the form of expression, but rather with the lack of sincerity in the heart of the false professor,” Patrick said.

He also urged the chapel crowd not to neglect the study of salvation, offering his view that traditionalists (non-Calvinists) and Calvinists see things differently when it comes to “matters of ministry and theology.”

...

Declaring Baptists share a basic sense of orthodoxy concerning the Virgin Birth, the Trinity and the Scriptures, Patrick said the road diverges after that and Calvinists and traditionalists split ways.

Patrick said he and some other like-minded pastors had taken notice of the growth of Calvinism in the Southern Baptist Convention, including ministry organizations, sponsored conferences, and even book giveaways promoting Calvinistic views on church history, church governance, church planting and cultural engagement.

In all, they identified six different Calvinist organizations that had emerged in Southern Baptist life.

With that discovery, Patrick said he and these other pastors decided there should be at least one that represents the (Herschel)Hobbs/(Adrian) Rogers non-Calvinistic doctrinal position, “a basic view of salvation” embraced by the early writers of the Baptist Faith & Message.

Hence the group formed Connect 316, an organization he said is not part of the new Calvinistic movement, but, “rather, we are an organized, respectful response to that movement.”

Patrick said the difference on the issue of salvation is no small matter, insisting the doctrine of salvation is a key distinctive of Southern Baptist thought and life.

How one views salvation also influences what a person thinks about other spiritual issues, he said.

Patrick said a believer’s soteriological view shapes his or her view on the “Sinner’s Prayer,” “evangelists,” “altar calls,” and “mode of baptism.”

He said it even influences what one believes about “God and country” and the use of “alcohol and tobacco.”

Patrick shared how a growing number of Southern Baptists are expressing concerns about individuals and groups in the SBC who “increasingly embrace the Presbyterian view of salvation doctrine, church government, the mode of baptism, avoidance of the altar call, the use of beverage alcohol, the approval of societal missions funding and so on.”

These practices are broader than the issue of salvation, Patrick conceded, but he insisted each is driven by a person’s basic belief about what salvation means.

“If we are not careful a myriad of related beliefs and practices will enter our camp, hidden within the Trojan Horse of Calvinism,” Patrick asserted.

Bert Perry's picture

I won't touch much of what Patrick said, but I would have hoped that people familiar with the Parable of the Sower would not simply blame those who fall away for "not being serious enough", and that even those who love altar calls would admit that all too often, they are used in a totally manipulative way.   I came here after writing about the experience of my former church, which was claiming 800 conversions over the past 20 years of VBS, but while there was only one person in attendance between the ages of 20 and 40 besides the pastor and his wife.  They had the Sinner's Prayer and altar calls, but no fruit, and it's time for traditionalists like Patrick to come to grips with this reality, not to mention the abyssmal retention rates (what, 2% or less?) that you'll see among those who are "saved" at a Billy Graham crusade.

Hopefully one does not need to be a "Calvinist" to clue in on this.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Bert Perry's picture

Let's take a look at the "Cliff's Notes" summary of Patrick's objections to Calvinism--whether he defines it as the "bulb and bloom" or all 46 (or so) volumes of theology isn't clear, but let's go with it.  

Our doctrine of salvation will change our approach to "The Sinner's Prayer", "evangelists", "altar calls", "mode of baptism", "beverage alcohol and tobacco", "societal missions", and the like.  Now as I look through this list, most of these things are not clearly spelled out in the Scriptures aside from the mode of immersion. More or less, it's a classic example of Jim's diagram of the failure of fundamentalism; every little thing becomes a critical issue, whether or not there is serious Scriptural evidence for that imperative.

And if "Connect316" is indeed formed to demonstrate that the "traditionalist" (sometimes called Arminian, I believe) understanding of salvation is indeed critical to the Baptist version of the faith, and if Patrick indeed believes that Calvinism (however he defines it) is a "Trojan Horse" that will undermine true faith, one would have to assume that Patrick and "Connect316" at least--and possibly also the guy who invited him--are indeed working to show Calvinism the door at the SBC.  

Seems to me that having Patrick speak so soon after this kerfuffle blew up is either a serious error on the part of Patterson, or an admission that the Calvinist students had a good point, or possibly both.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

TylerR's picture

Editor

The article concludes:

Patterson ended his statement with a focus on baptism as well, in context of salvation, and in a larger sense, evangelism.

He said the whole Conservative Resurgence, which was a fight about Southern Baptists’ beliefs, “was really always about one thing—reaching men and women for Christ.”

Patterson wrote. “My unalterable fear for our denomination today is that baptisms will continue to plummet, giving a certain indication of loss of evangelistic concern and fervency.

“Southern Baptists prospered by being the most effectively evangelistic among all denominations, and we will only prosper again if we honor God in that way,” Patterson continued.

I share this concern. But, the real bogeyman in the way of this goal is not Calvinism. It is Satan, and all the trouble he causes in Christian's lives and in local churches to hinder evangelism and effective discipleship. Both sides should focus on combating that threat, and stop maligning friends who share the same goals.

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

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