Strict//EN" ""> EAGLES' REST: Maybe It's Uglier Than I Thought

Monday, July 02, 2012

Maybe It's Uglier Than I Thought

I had previously blogged about why some folks in the SBC apparently felt threatened by Calvinism and its purported growth within SBC churches, here. After thinking on it a bit further, however, I think it may be even worse than what I thought.

I really hadn't thought that possible. But I'm afraid it is.

Perhaps it is that God is not happy with the state of the SBC, and the churches it represents. Perhaps the leadership of the SBC which has refused to address the failure to make disciples .. the seeming satisfaction of the local church with letting people join our churches and then take no part whatever except .. perhaps .. contributing occasional funds ... the fact that there are churches out there (perhaps not SBC churches ) that are doing a good job of integrating new members, as well as current members, into the body of believers active in the building up of the body, but we refuse to learn from them .. perhaps those things are just as angering to God as were all the rebellious activities of Israel which brought God to raise up the Babylonians to exact His form of righteous justice on Israel.


If that's the case, then the "peace & harmony" we might have thought we've seen in the SBC is all man-made, and I'd expect that, sooner or later, it'd come tumbling down like the Tower of Babel.

I think later has arrived.

When I look at SBC 2012 in New Orleans, I'm pretty well convinced of it. There was an undercurrent of anti-Calvinism .. a sentiment of the  "..Statement of the Traditional Southern Baptist Understanding of God’s Plan of Salvation” .. which kept cropping up in motions and things like the addition of words to resolutions.

There was a rather unseemly scene following Dave Miller's election as 2nd VP of the Convention.

Then there was the (to me) silly attempt to bolster our feelings about our efforts by adopting the alternate optional descriptor "Great Commission Baptists", which, as I told the Convention, is simply not true of us. In that context, it is arrogant and hypocritical of us to apply that term to ourselves. And, what really strikes me, is that bright, devoted minds on President Wright's Committee came up with that!

Micah Fries was on the committee, is a friend of mine, I ran into him at the Convention, and I told him I was sorry for stomping on the Committee. He said there was no problem .. I was fine.

Don't get me wrong .. folks worked hard at maintaining unity. But should we have to? 

Maybe that's the real point.Oswald Chambers, in My Utmost For His Highest, talked about the Beatitudes, and eventually the entire Sermon on the Mount, in one of his daily devotionals. He finished the section with a statement that the sermon wasn't a set of behaviors to be emulated, but rather:  ".. it is a picture of the life we will live when the Holy Spirit is having His unhindered way with us."

If what I suspect may be happening, is happening, then what we're seeing in the SBC is a lot of people trying to behave as they should behave. But not be what they should be. And that may well be the result of God being unhappy with the SBC and many of its churches, for failing to make disciples, for being proud of who and what they are, and not acknowledging what has happened. 

Perhaps God has given us up to our own devices. If that's the case, someone ought to say "God help us" ... but I question whether we'd want what that really might mean.

King Saul learned how to be a King, after initially not even wanting to be one. By the time the Spirit departed, he'd learned how, and went right on being king. We know how that turned out. In the first SBC Annual Meeting I attended, I told the SBC that, if certain matters weren't addressed by the Convention, as a body, the same thing was apt to happen to the Convention. Now I am certainly not a prophet, nor the son of one, but on several levels, I've seen nothing to change my mind, in the six years since. SBC 2012 in New Orleans has me more convinced than ever that I may have stumbled across a truth, there in Greensboro.

God help the SBC. I think He's the only One Who can.

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At 5:16 PM, July 04, 2012, Blogger Les Puryear said...


We traditional Baptists would have no problem with Calvinists in the SBC IF they would stop trying to "reform" traditional baptist churches. That's all they have to do to have peace.

The Original Les

At 5:15 PM, July 07, 2012, Blogger Aussie John said...


You said,"Perhaps God has given us up to our own devices".

I can't speak about the situation you are indicating, but have said the exact same words regarding the Australian situation, where I sincerely believe your words apply.

At 5:31 PM, July 07, 2012, Blogger Bob Cleveland said...

Actually, it's the entire unrest within the SBC and the seeming penchant for folks always picking a fight over something. Calvinism and the statement of Traditional understanding of Baptist beliefs that was published a couple months ago, and which caused all sorts of ripples and upsets at the convention. Funny thing is, I just read the 1644 London Confession, which is about as far back as one can go for Baptist tradition, and it's about as Calvinistic as one can be.

Like I said ..

At 5:33 PM, July 07, 2012, Blogger Bob Cleveland said...

Les, I didn't see anything Calvinistic come up at the convention, but I saw some efforts to interject anti-Calvinism into things. I just don't get it. Unless I do, which is even worse.

At 9:24 PM, July 07, 2012, Anonymous Lee said...

The SBC is a group of messengers elected by their local churches which meet once a year for a couple of days. It exists for the purpose of cooperative ministry. As an entity, the convention was never intended to be used as an instrument to insert a specific doctrinal position into its churches. What the convention defines doctrinally applies only to convention-related institutions and agencies, and is not binding on local churches.

What has happened to the SBC over the past several decades has been the development of a power base that has inserted itself into the picture from a doctrinal and denominational-political perspective, mainly mega-church pastors who think that they are the leaders of everyone and everything. The convention usually draws a pretty homogeneous crowd, so the impression has developed that these certain leaders speak, and everyone else follows, regardless of the governance policy or procedures in place. The presence of a group of Calvinists, who seem to represent a fairly decent sized group of churches, and who seem to have their own leaders (which bothers the egos of the mega-church shot callers) indicates that the SBC is not the monolithic group that they would like everyone to think it is. That's the same kind of trouble that Wade Burleson got into on the IMB trustee board.

I don't understand why Calvinists would be a threat. Churches are free to call their own pastors, and free to investigate every aspect of their potential pastor's doctrinal position. This shouldn't even be an issue.

At 7:14 AM, July 08, 2012, Blogger Bob Cleveland said...

At first I had thought that it might be true that SBC churches had done such a poor job of making disciples that they could, indeed, be "tossed about by every wind of doctrine", such as Calvinism. I'm now thinking that even the church leadership that might go about selecting a new pastor doesn't even know enough about what Baptists believe to know what to ask a prospective pastor, to know whether they'l upset the status quo should they accept a call.

I still haven't had anyone answer my question about Baptism correctly. Not even, in New Orleans, a seminary professor. This has gotten to be way too much fun....

At 9:40 AM, July 09, 2012, Anonymous Nathan Petty said...

"I'm now thinking that even the church leadership that might go about selecting a new pastor doesn't even know enough about what Baptists believe to know what to ask a prospective pastor, to know whether they'l upset the status quo should they accept a call."

I recently had the privilege of being on a search committee for a small SBC church and my experience confirmed your thoughts. I'm sure it is better at other churches, but "leadership" often has experienced no growth in knowledge of doctrine and church history beyond the date of their baptism. Our local DOM warned me not to hire a Calvinist. He would not, or could not, explain his position, but he was sincere.

Bob, it is obvious that your passion is discipleship. I believe this is directly tied to regenerate church membership. And if you are voicing the concern that there is a problem with a convention which can't locate 60% of its members, you're bound to get some pushback.

If I were a "traditionalist" who had a vested interest in the continuation of the status quo, and I believed a group was starting to effectively challenge that status quo, I am going to feel threatened.

And, to Lee's point, the fact that this infringing group is now influencing all SBC seminaries (and Lifeway) is the tipping point of concern for the defenders of the status quo. They did not think the CR was going to end up this way, and they feel threatened.

Lee's point bears on Les's comment. If Les is concerned about Calvinists trying to "reform" individual, traditional SBC churches, how is that a "convention" concern for a convention ruled by thousands of free churches? While I'm sure the traditionalists are concerned about local churches being "reformed", it still seems to me that the concern is more driven by the Calvinists' growing influence with SBC agencies. And that influence can be summarized by one name: Mohler. The Founders group has been around for quite awhile without engendering much national response. But, Brother Nohler's writings and ecunemical activities have provided the spark for this response.

Just some thoughts from a non-Calvinist who has benefited from teaching from both sides of the aisle.


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