Sunday, February 19, 2006

Fired Up About Some Things.

I have read some things this past week that really had me “fired up”, but I have not had much time to articulate my thoughts. I have a final exam coming up this next week and had a final project presentation this week for school, so I have not had much time to write any posts. But I did want to take some time to comment on Dr. Ergon Caner’s comments on the Founders blog this week.

In a post concerning the possible nomination of Johnny Hunt for the presidency of the Southern Baptist Convention, there were many comments left in response that expressed concern for Hunt’s anti-Calvinist bias. Then Dr. Caner left some inflammatory comments deriding Calvinism in general. I could hardly believe what I was reading!

For those who may not be familiar with Johnny Hunt’s attitude toward Calvinism, let me just summarize that he is adamantly opposed to Calvinism to the point that he apparently let one of his pastoral staff go due to that staff member’s adherence to Calvinistic theology! (Scroll through the comments and read the comment left by a former staff member, Scott) It could be that his election to the SBC may create such strife as to divide the convention over this issue.

It really bothers me when I see solid doctrine attacked, especially in a denomination that has made great strides over the years to purge itself from liberal theology. While there are further reforms that need to take place, I believe the SBC has come a long way and I would not want to see the convention derailed. I currently do not attend an SBC church. However, the church that I currently attend considered joining the SBC when we were just starting as a new church plant six years ago, and I would have backed the decision. The decision was made not to join the SBC at that time; however the pastoral staff indicated that they may reconsider the decision at a later date.

But the issue of bashing Calvinism really gets irritating. Most of the controversy centers on a misunderstanding of Reformed Theology. At the same time that I read Dr. Caner’s comments, I was listening to a sermon that I downloaded by a guest speaker from the church I attended in the town where I grew up. There were actually two sermons that this particular speaker preached at a Bible conference there. Most of what he said was good and right on target, but the second sermon really blew me away. In the second sermon, he cited three primary schools of thought that he claimed were aberrant thinking and were detrimental to the health of the church. Guess what the first one was. He listed Calvinism as the first one! It was all I could do to keep from yelling out loud, “NO, NO, NOOOO!!!” while pounding my fist on the desk. And, as you can imagine, he mentioned one of the common misconceptions that Calvinists are weak on evangelism due to a fatalistic view of predestination! Dr. Caner made the same charge of weak evangelism in his comments on Founders. It always seems that these misconceptions are due to a lack of understanding of Reformed theology and what people generally object too is usually an extreme view held by a relatively small minority of Calvinists. I too, am against what would be called hyper-Calvinism. But those who hold to a more orthodox Calvinism do not adhere to such extremes.

On the contrary, I can’t think of anything more detrimental to the health of the church today than the current barrage of pragmatism that for all essential purposes is rooted in full-blown Arminianism. I hope to comment more on this soon.

Well, that is all I have time to write for now. I just had to get that off of my chest! I feel better already :)


johnMark said...

It's really an unbelievable thing to read.


Dean Polk said...

I've never heard of hyper-Calvinism. Though I disagree with the TULIP perspective, in a nutshell, because Jesus said, "I stand at the door and knock"... not "I rush at the door with a battering ram". But the main reason this is detrimental to some of my Christian brothers is that it truly does limit their evangelistic focus. I just always figured Calvinism is Calvinism. You either think God chose you and you can't do anything about it, or you are saved by GOD'S grace through your OWN faith (though we are given the capacity for such faith because we're created in the image of God).