Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary President to Calvinists: Leave!

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Bert Perry's picture

Jim wrote:

Rude to walk out on a chapel speaker

...and also rude to accuse a group of students of bad faith by putting a "Trojan Horse" into the institution, no?  

Really, Patterson, Patrick, and others who view the doctrines of grace as something that will inevitably lead to the destruction of Baptist distinctives need to apologize and walk this one back and see if they can make the case that the "bulb and bloom" is inextricably connected to infant sprinkling and a "slippery slope" of consequences like presbyterian polity and going to Gin Lane.  As Aaron noted above, such a connection would have come as a surprise to Spurgeon, not to mention the Pilgrims and most Baptists into the mid 1800s.  For that matter, a connection of Calvinism with Presbyterian polity would also come as something of a surprise to the Anglicans and Congregationalists.  

I'm open to them making this case, but given Protestant history, suffice it to say they've got their work cut out for them.  And I don't even totally subscribe to the "bulb and bloom".  

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Jay's picture

Yes, it's rude to walk out on a chapel speaker.  That being said, the students are in their twenties (?) - how old is the chapel speaker?  He ought to know better.

This reminds me a lot of the issues with Danny Sweatt at the FBFI conference a couple of years back. 

"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

Mark_Smith's picture

I personally have been to way more SBC churches than IFB churches in my life, given that I was baptized at an SBC church years ago.

Until relatively recently, I never saw an "elder led" SBC church. Drinking alcohol...are you kidding??? Altar calls were given at the end of every service. Baptism was by immersion. And we had church every Wednesday night. Oh, and Lord's supper was with grape juice. I would say the above represents the recent history of the SBC, say 1950 up to 2000.

 

Now, as Patrick and Patterson note, there is a strong element trying to turn Calvinist in soteriology, and bring in other elements from the Presbyterian tradition, like elder rule, alcohol use, no Wed night service etc.

It is plain as day.

So, what did Patrick say that isn't obviously true?

"Traditionalism" is not Arminianism. It is a category of theology unrecognized by the theology textbooks, embracing the election of saints yet the personal responsibility to accept Christ. It isn't Calvinist. It isn't Arminian. And it isn't a heresy.

Bert Perry's picture

Mark, the basic response is that while there is a correlation between the upsurge of Calvinism and the things Patrick mentions, a real theologian needs to answer how it can possibly be the cause.  Patterson and Patrick simply have not done the work to do that.  It's the post hoc, ergo propter hoc (after, therefore, because) fallacy.  

They can make the case if they like, but until they do, that's what they got wrong--and it's also a slippery slope fallacy.  I'd also like to offer an alternative hypothesis; we are seeing Calvinism and the other factors at about the same time because many SBC congregants, especially young people, affirmed real Baptist distinctives, but recognized that "the Sinner's Prayer" and "altar calls" seemed to be throwing a lot of seed on the path and among the weeds, and that a lot of the rules preached from the pulpit really aren't Biblical imperatives.

And if this hypothesis is correct, it is an incredibly good thing that this is happening.It means people are waking up to the need for real theology.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Jim's picture

"Altar Calls" in the above images:

  • They have been commonly used
  • In that sense they are traditional
  • Biblicists question their authority & value
  • Those who see that one of the purposes of the church "gathered" is to evangelicize inside of the auditorium, will have evangelistic messages with invitations
  • Others see that evangelism is tasked to the church dispersed

Understanding this explains most Baptist disputes [Altar calls just being one issue]

Mark_Smith's picture

When did "traditional" become opposite the "biblical" view as Bert and Jim are using the term? I certainly don't agree with that distinction or label.

As for evangelism, I have attended many Baptist churches, everyone of them "traditional" in the sense that they were not Calvinist in soteriology. EVERY ONE OF THEM had weekly soul-winning activities outside of the church.

The distinction here should be "traditionalist" vs. "Calvinist". Changing Calvinist to "biblicist" is throwing a grenade into a gas can. It is unnecessary and biased.

 

Jim's picture

You are making more of my chart than I intended.

I am not equating Biblicist to Calvinist (in the above chart)

My point is very simply that Baptists have traditions that are not rooted in the Scriptures

 

Larry's picture

Moderator

It is a category of theology unrecognized by the theology textbooks, embracing the election of saints yet the personal responsibility to accept Christ. It isn't Calvinist. 

What's not Calvinist about this?

So, what did Patrick say that isn't obviously true?

Quite a bit if this is an accurate representation of his words. At the very least, it is disputed, and in some cases, not true at all most likely.

He says, "“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.”

I don't know what a Presbyterian view of salvation is, but Particular Baptists have existed since at least the 17th century. Calvinism has a long history among Baptists, even among Southern Baptists.

I don't know of any Baptists embracing a Presbyterian view of church government. Baptists are, by definition, local autonomous bodies. Some apply congregationalism in different, and perhaps even suspect, ways, but that isn't really a Presbyterian form of government per se. And some critics don't understand a distinction between elder-led and elder-rule. The proverbial devil is in the details on that. But again, that's not obviously true.

I don't know of any Baptists who are sprinkling infants. You probably don't either. I wonder if the speaker does. That certainly isn't obviously true.

The "altar call" has a history of not going back very far in church history. It is a new invention, newer than Baptist and Presbyterians both which is not to say it is right or wrong, but there's not clearly any point there to be made. The use of beverage alcohol seems an almost entirely modern, American issue. I am not sure what "societal missions funding" is. Perhaps the "obviously true" statement is found in the "so on," but so far, not one specific state is "obviously true."

In the end, SWBTS and their speakers can do as they wish and say what they want, but they shouldn't be surprised by pushback on it. And as always, we have a duty to tell the truth about what other people believe.

Mark_Smith's picture

Jim wrote:

You are making more of my chart than I intended.

I am not equating Biblicist to Calvinist (in the above chart)

My point is very simply that Baptists have traditions that are not rooted in the Scriptures

 

 

But keep in mind that you are using the term "traditionalist" to mean something different that Patterson and Patrick are above.

Mark_Smith's picture

Larry wrote:

It is a category of theology unrecognized by the theology textbooks, embracing the election of saints yet the personal responsibility to accept Christ. It isn't Calvinist. 

What's not Calvinist about this?

Larry,

Perhaps you never noticed before, but there are hoards, or a least were hoards, of Baptists that believe in election because it is a biblical term, but don't accept the Calvinist interpretation of election that is connected with irresistible grace and limited atonement. These people also reject Arminianism, with its weird interpretations as well as the ability to lose salvation. So, there is another category that theology in general does not identify. Daniel Akin's A Theology for the Church​ is an example of a systematic theology that develops this congruentist approach.

Larry's picture

Moderator

That didn't answer the question. What was not Calvinist about what you said?

 

Mark_Smith's picture

Larry wrote:

That didn't answer the question. What was not Calvinist about what you said?

 

The definitions, my good friend, the definitions. Election to a Calvinist means before eternity a group was selected to receive the grace of salvation, and others, by omission or condemnation, were passed over. I and other congruentists don't accept that.

As for personal responsibility, Calvinist say they affirm it, but believe that before regeneration people are spiritually dead in the sense that they are incapable of responding to God's offer of salvation. That is not what I mean by personal responsibility.

So, two people can use the same words, but mean different things.

TylerR's picture

Editor

You are quite correct about the different concepts of election, and how different people can use the same terms in very different ways. I will always be grateful Dr. Fred Moritz was my Professor for Systematic Theology 3!

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?

Bert Perry's picture

Mark_Smith wrote:

When did "traditional" become opposite the "biblical" view as Bert and Jim are using the term? I certainly don't agree with that distinction or label.

As for evangelism, I have attended many Baptist churches, everyone of them "traditional" in the sense that they were not Calvinist in soteriology. EVERY ONE OF THEM had weekly soul-winning activities outside of the church.

The distinction here should be "traditionalist" vs. "Calvinist". Changing Calvinist to "biblicist" is throwing a grenade into a gas can. It is unnecessary and biased.

Mark, the terms can be somewhat perjorative, but actually I think they're instructive.  For starters, "Biblicist" is not equal to Calvinist--I can't remember when it was, but I remember Kevin Bauder being very clear on that in some of his "In the Nick of Time" columns, and for that matter I believe Doug MacLachlan makes about the same case in "Recovering Authentic Fundamentalism."  You would be right that Biblicism correlates with Calvinism to a degree, but then again, post hoc ergo propter hoc and slippery slope are indeed logical fallacies.   Many in the Biblicist camp (myself included) arrived there not because of Calvinism, but rather because we felt that it was a more Biblical expression of Christian life.

So indeed, the anti-Traditionalist camp is indeed "Biblicist" in the Bauder/Maclachlan taxonomy, and given that we don't find much evidence of Patrick's positions outside of congregational polity and immersion by immersion prior to 1800, the Traditionalist camp is indeed holding to a variety of positions unknown to most of our spiritual forebears.  And if Patrick desires that we should keep them, again, he needs to start bringing his A game instead of dabbling in logical fallacies.  

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Bert Perry's picture

Upon review of the initial document and Jim's link, I see that my comment on Tuesday assuming this had been a second set of circumstances was in error.  This is all about one chapel service on November 29, it appears.  Oops!

So we would have basic logical fallacies and a serious lapse in historical reference, but not a repeated case of this.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Larry's picture

Moderator

Mark, Calvinists affirm both election and personal responsibility. You didn't define personal responsibility so we still have no idea what you mean by that. You didn't define what you mean by election either so we have no idea what you mean by that either. It would be interesting to know what you mean by that so we can compare notes. 

In the end, it is your personal responsibility to represent the views of others accurately.

Congruentist isn't really a theological category, so far as I know. People have believed you what appear to believe for centuries, but they weren't called congruentists. It's probably better to stick with recognized terminology. It helps facilitate discussion. 

Larry's picture

Moderator

 Many in the Biblicist camp (myself included)

Who is not in the biblicist camp? Would anyone actually claim to be outside the Bible? Of course not, which is why the term "biblicist" is meaningless. Historically, certain labels have been used as a shorthand for certain beliefs. It isn't really helpful to deny the label if you affirm the belief it represents. It only confuses things. IMO, a lot of people reject a given label because they have no historical awareness. Others reject it out of some misguided sense to "stick to the Bible" as if others aren't trying to do that. 

Jim's picture

http://www.christianpost.com/news/southern-baptist-calvinist-misundersto...

These Sandy Creek Baptists were known at the Separate Baptists whose views mirror what is referred to as the "traditionalist" perspective within the Southern Baptist Convention today. While Baptists had been theologically diverse, by the time the SBC was formally established in 1845, their Sandy Creek Baptists far outnumbered those in the Charleston tradition, also known as Regular Baptists, who were distinctly Calvinistic in their theology.

"If you sent the collective DNA of Southern Baptists off to Ancestry.com for analysis the report you got back would say 85 to 90 percent Sandy Creek and 10 percent Charleston tradition and the rest a smattering of other influences ... the question of what Southern Baptists have been is a settled fact," Land told CP.

 

Bert Perry's picture

Larry wrote:

 Many in the Biblicist camp (myself included)

Who is not in the biblicist camp? Would anyone actually claim to be outside the Bible? Of course not, which is why the term "biblicist" is meaningless. Historically, certain labels have been used as a shorthand for certain beliefs. It isn't really helpful to deny the label if you affirm the belief it represents. It only confuses things. IMO, a lot of people reject a given label because they have no historical awareness. Others reject it out of some misguided sense to "stick to the Bible" as if others aren't trying to do that. 

Agreed.  I think the original impetus was to draw attention to the claim that many fundamentalists add a lot to the faith that really isn't supported by Scripture, but you're certainly correct that not too many people would fess up to not being, or at least trying to be, Biblical in their theology.  And if you come up with a good, concise term that conveys the idea of being a theological (5 fundamentals) but not a cultural fundamentalist without impugning others, I'm all ears.  Even "conservative evangelical" doesn't quite work for me because it often does carry some of the social rules and revivalism, but simultaneously loses some of the emphasis on the fundamentals.  It's tough out here that way.  

Appreciate as well Mr. Land's comment about the Sandy Creek Baptists imparting a degree or revivalism to the SBC, but it's simultaneously worth noting that this is still about a century too early (1750 or so) for that movement to include cultural fundamental cues.  Those came in the 19th century on this side of the pond, of course.  I'd say the SBC is probably about 20% Charleston today, 40% Sandy Creek, and 40% 19th century this and that.  Really a great number of Baptistic and generic fundagelical churches fall into about the same bin. 

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Mark_Smith's picture

Its not my problem that you have never heard of Baptists that are not Calvinist or Arminian. There are a lot of them!

I gave you a source, the theology textbook A Theology for the Church written by a lot of SEBTS faculty, but others as well. I don't agree with everything in it.

 

Mark_Smith's picture

on TULIP many years ago. I forget the name of it. It is at home in my library. It presents much of the Baptists "traditional" view that is neither Calvinist not Arminian.

Larry Nelson's picture

 

"Fundamentalism has never had a united voice on Calvinism-

Arminianism issues although by and large it has been moderately

Calvinistic, probably three or four-point Calvinism. But some have been

five-point Calvinists and others outright Arminians. While there have

been provincial skirmishes on the subject, fundamentalism has never

spoken with anything like unanimity on it. Occasionally someone may

assert that fundamentalism is too Calvinistic or excessively Arminian,

but these complaints often reflect a local brush fire or a fundamentalist

turf war of some kind. Robert Delnay put the matter in proper perspective

when he wrote, 'And wherever we [fundamentalists] find ourselves

along the line between strong Arminianism and strong Calvinism, we

have tried to treat each other with Christian grace; and even though

somebody must be in error, we have refused to divide over that matter.'

While individual fundamentalists and specific groups or institutions

may rightfully take a definitive position on certain Calvinism-

Arminianism issues, these have not achieved the status of fundamentalist

articles of faith. In terms of the movement, they are non-issues."

http://archive.dbts.edu/journals/1996_2/NonIssue.pdf  [See pages 177-178]

TylerR's picture

Editor

I think we can all agree that the SBC, like many Christian denominations or voluntary associations, has a spectrum of beliefs on particular theological issues within the boundaries of that organization's confession. I know there have always been Arminian SBC guys, and Calvinistic SBC guys. It is much the same in fundamentalism. We all need to recognize that.

This means that anytime one theological camp attempts to position itself as the "true heir" to the denomination or voluntary association, then that claim should be suspect. Of course, some people wll argue that (for example) the SBC was originally more Calvinistic. This argument is basically meaningless now, because it does not reflect the reality today. I suppose this goes back to a weak view of confessionalism.

I am not competent to speak about the SBC's internal debates on his issue, but one thing is clear - whatever particular stand it once took on this issue, the landscape today does not reflect that original stand, perhaps because the SBC doesn't appear to be a particularly tight confessional denomination. In other words, a loose confessionalism = diverse views on controversial topics.

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?

JohnBrian's picture

Mark_Smith wrote:

Its not my problem that you have never heard of Baptists that are not Calvinist or Arminian. There are a lot of them!

Everyone is some level of either Calvinist or Arminian, even though they may be unaware that they are. It doesn't seem possible for someone to declare that they are neither. An easy way to show this is to look at both the Remonstrants and the Canons of Dordt.

Most Baptists will side with one or the other on each of the points.

In 2007 I posted an article to my blog titled Calvinist or Arminian - which are you?, which shows the difference between the 2 views.

CanJAmerican - my blog
CanJAmerican - my twitter
whitejumaycan - my youtube

Larry's picture

Moderator

Its not my problem that you have never heard of Baptists that are not Calvinist or Arminian. There are a lot of them!

Where did you get the idea I have never heard of these Baptists? I never said that. I have heard of them. I know some of them. But I didn't address those people, what they believe, or what they call themselves (other than pointing out that "congruentist" isn't a theological category). So  whatever you think I know or believe about these people didn't come from me. I don't know where it came from.

My main point here was asking what part of a particular statement of yours wasn't Calvinist. It is, in fact, extremely Calvinistic. Your statement could, IMO, only come from someone who didn't know what Calvinists believe or who knew and decided to say it anyway. I will assume the former. I think we have a duty to represent others in their own terms and accept what they say about themselves and then critique that if we so desire. Don't call something "not Calvinist" when it is Calvinist.

My secondary point is that many people have no idea what the historically accepted label for their views is. I don't have either the time or the interest in getting deeply involved in this because it doesn't really matter to me apart from properly attributing beliefs to people who hold them. If someone chooses to reject a label that doesn't change what they believe. But consider, for instance, the traditionalist affirmation and denial about the sinfulness of man. That is a statement that is at the very least confusable with semi-Pelagianism because appears to deny that man's will is affected by sin in any way other than influence. It denies the imputation of Adam's sin to all humanity. Roger Olson (noted Arminian who said the John 3:16 group that denies they are Arminians are in fact Arminians based on what they say they believe) says that these people are not even Arminians yet because even Arminians believe in total depravity. I think the imputation of Adam's sin is a major point in evangelical theology and those who deny it are in grave danger. The idea that we are not sinners until we make the conscious choice to sin raises some serious issues with Romans 5 as well as other passages. It is a gospel issue, it seems to me.

It also seems to me that your perspective is mistaken in that you believe that one can't be something unless the person claims it or adheres to every major tenet of it. Historically, I don't think that has been the case. Calvinists have not had to ascribe to all five points to be Calvinists for the most paret; nor have Arminians. Usually these terms have applied broadly. So someone can claim to be a traditionalist, but those of us who know will know what the historical label for their belief is. There's really not a lot of room because God chooses individuals to be saved unconditionally and God chooses individuals to be saved condtionally. That lines divides Calvinism and Arminianism. 

In the end, believe as you wish but (1) don't accuse people of believing things they don't believe and (2) know some of the history of theology to know where beliefs fit in historically.

Mark_Smith's picture

Larry,

Apparently you misread what I wrote. I said there are people that believe in election and personal accountability, and who are not Calvinists.

While I could argue with you about accountability, I won't here because it is pointless.

My point was believing in election and personal accountability does not make you a Calvinist.

JohnBrian's picture

Jim wrote:

  • Those who see that one of the purposes of the church "gathered" is to evangelicize inside of the auditorium, will have evangelistic messages with invitations
  • Others see that evangelism is tasked to the church dispersed

Understanding this explains most Baptist disputes [Altar calls just being one issue]

Amazed to read this tonight as I am in the process of preparing to write a blog post about the church, using the "gathered" and "dispersed" identifiers. Glad to see that I am not alone in observing that such a difference exists.

CanJAmerican - my blog
CanJAmerican - my twitter
whitejumaycan - my youtube

JohnBrian's picture

Mark_Smith wrote:

Election to a Calvinist means before eternity a group was selected to receive the grace of salvation, and others, by omission or condemnation, were passed over. I and other congruentists don't accept that.

Romans 11:5-8 speaks of the elect obtaining grace while others are blinded, so am not sure what it is that you (as a congruentist) don't accept.

Even so then, at this present time there is a remnant according to the election of grace. And if by grace, then it is no longer of works; otherwise grace is no longer grace. But if it is of works, it is no longer grace; otherwise work is no longer work. What then? Israel has not obtained what it seeks; but the elect have obtained it, and the rest were blinded. Just as it is written:

“God has given them a spirit of stupor,
Eyes that they should not see
And ears that they should not hear,
To this very day.”

Mark_Smith wrote:

As for personal responsibility, Calvinist say they affirm it, but believe that before regeneration people are spiritually dead in the sense that they are incapable of responding to God's offer of salvation. That is not what I mean by personal responsibility.

So, two people can use the same words, but mean different things.

There are 2 issues that distinguish the difference between Arminians, Calvinists, and Hyper-Calvinists - man's responsibility to repent and believe, and, his natural ability to do so.

The Arminian believes that he is responsible and thus has the natural ability.

The Calvinist agrees with the Arminian that he is responsible but disagrees that he has natural ability.

The Hyper-Calvinist agrees with the Calvinist that he is lacking in natural ability, and thus has no responsibility. Notice Articles 24, 26, 29, and 33 in this Hyper-Calvinist doctrinal statement

(someone feel free to chart the above)

I affirm the Calvinist view because I believe it represents the teaching of scripture most accurately.

What’s the Difference Between Arminianism, Calvinism and Hyper-Calvinism?

 

CanJAmerican - my blog
CanJAmerican - my twitter
whitejumaycan - my youtube

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