Thursday, August 24, 2006

A Theological Triage Test

At the bottom of this post is a test I am asking readers of this blog to take. I would encourage you to read the entire post before you take the test if at all possible.


I have a high degree of respect and admiration for Dr. Al Mohler, President of Southern Seminary. I do not agree with everything Dr. Mohler writes, nor do I agree with all of his theological or political views, I do admire his mental erudition and theological acumen.

Recently Dr. Mohler had a brilliant FIRST PERSON BP commentary where he said, "today's Christian faces the daunting task of strategizing which Christian doctrines and theological issues are to be given highest priority in terms of our contemporary context."

Dr. Mohler offers a very practical solution on how to resolve this problem. He suggests the establishment of a theological triage. "The word "triage" comes from the French word "trier," which means "to sort." Thus, the triage officer in the medical context is the front-line agent for deciding which patients need the most urgent treatment. Without such a process, the scraped knee would receive the same urgency of consideration as a gunshot wound to the chest. The same discipline that brings order to the hectic arena of the emergency room can also offer great assistance to Christians defending truth in the present age."

Mohler continues, "A discipline of theological triage would require Christians to determine a scale of theological urgency that would correspond to the medical world's framework for medical priority. With this in mind, I would suggest three different levels of theological urgency, each corresponding to a set of issues and theological priorities found in current doctrinal debates."


The three levels Dr. Mohler proposes are summarized below:

First-level theological issues would include those doctrines most central and essential to the Christian faith. Included among these most crucial doctrines would be doctrines such as the Trinity, the full deity and humanity of Jesus Christ, justification by faith, and the authority of Scripture.

The set of second-order doctrines is distinguished from the first-order set by the fact that believing Christians may disagree on the second-order issues, though this disagreement will create significant boundaries between believers. Many of the most heated disagreements among serious believers take place at the second-order level, for these issues frame our understanding of the church and its ordering by the Word of God.

Third-order issues are doctrines over which Christians may disagree and remain in close fellowship, even within local congregations. I would put most of the debates over eschatology, for example, in this category. Christians who affirm the bodily, historical, and victorious return of the Lord Jesus Christ may differ over timetable and sequence without rupturing the fellowship of the church. Christians may find themselves in disagreement over any number of issues related to the interpretation of difficult texts or the understanding of matters of common disagreement. Nevertheless, standing together on issues of more urgent importance, believers are able to accept one another without compromise when third-order issues are in question.


A structure of theological triage does not imply that Christians may take any biblical truth with less than full seriousness. We are charged to embrace and to teach the comprehensive truthfulness of the Christian faith as revealed in the Holy Scriptures. There are no insignificant doctrines revealed in the Bible, but there is an essential foundation of truth that undergirds the entire system of biblical truth.

This structure of theological triage may also help to explain how confusion can often occur in the midst of doctrinal debate. If the relative urgency of these truths is not taken into account, the debate can quickly become unhelpful. The error of theological liberalism is evident in a basic disrespect for biblical authority and the church's treasury of truth. The mark of true liberalism is the refusal to admit that first-order theological issues even exist. Liberals treat first-order doctrines as if they were merely third-order in importance, and doctrinal ambiguity is the inevitable result.

Fundamentalism, on the other hand, tends toward the opposite error. The misjudgment of true fundamentalism is the belief that all disagreements concern first-order doctrines. Thus, third-order issues are raised to a first-order importance, and Christians are wrongly and harmfully divided.

TAKE THE TEST (and comment on the results)

The following 10 doctrines need to be rated by you with the following point system.
Are they first order? second order? or third order doctrines?

1 Point --- An Essential Doctrine Necessary To Be Considered a Christian, for a Denial of this Doctrine is a Denial of the True Christian Faith.

2 Points --- An Essential Doctrine Necessary to be Considered a Southern Baptist Christian, and if One Disagrees With It, He Cannot Serve in Leadership of the SBC.

3 Points --- A Low Priority Doctrine that Is Not Necessary to Believe in Order to be a Fully Cooperating Southern Baptist (leadership, missionary, trustee, etc..).

(1). A belief that a person should (or should not) abstain from worldly amusements on the Lord's Day.
(2). A belief that speaking in tongues, either publicly or privately, can (or cannot) be a gift given by God to a person today.
(3). A belief that any Christian, whether ordained or not, can (or cannot) Biblically baptize the person he leads to Christ.
(4). A belief that the Biblical church is (or is not) only a local, visible church.
(5). A belief that Jesus Christ will (or will not) return to set up an earthly kingdom on earth for 1,000 years.
(6). A belief that a woman can (or cannot) serve as a deacon.
(7). A belief that God, from before the foundation of the world, elects (or does not elect), a definite number of sinners to salvation.
(8). A belief that a Christian can (or cannot) drink an alchoholic beverage, without getting drunk, and not sin against God.
(9). A belief that a Baptist church can (or cannot) be governed by elders.
(10). A belief that communion can (or cannot) be served by people who are not ordained, and shared by people who are believers but not members of your local church.


Add up your total scores: Minimum points would be ten, Maximum points would be 30.

Proposed Score Card (Revised):

Below 27 --- You have difficulty serving with anyone who disagrees with you on these doctrines, and in fact would seek to remove persons from SBC leadership who disagree with you and urge those who don't believe the way you do to leave the SBC.

27-28 --- You believe Southern Baptists are a distinctive group of committed Christians, and though you might not seek to remove people from current leadership in the SBC who disagree with you on these doctrines, you would prefer that only those who are in agreement with you be nominated to serve in positions of leadership. In addition, you would contend earnestly to seek to convince your fellow Southern Baptists that your positon on these doctrines is the right one.

29-30 --- Though you have personal convictions on these matters, you believe that these issues are open for interpretation. Further, what an individual Southern Baptist person or church believe regarding these matters is not a determining factor for your fellowship, cooperation and respect. You are comfortable with anyone in SBC leadership who holds to differing views than you on these doctrines and do not see it as a matter of essential importance to try to convince others of your views.

How did you score, and what do you think about such a theological triage test?

By the way, not one of the above doctrines is addressed specifically in the BFM 2000. A couple of the doctrines are touched on briefly in a very general way, and not in a specific manner (for instance, the BFM speaks of the return of Christ, but not a 1,000 year reign).

In His Grace,

Wade Burleson


Bryan Riley said...

I'm looking forward to the comments.

Kevin Bussey said...

I scored a 30! What label will this give me?

Gregory said...

Very interesting! I scored a 28. In my opinion, question 4 reveals too much about your Christology and ecclesiology to be unimportant. While I have very definite views on the other nine issues, I freely admit that they're open for interpretation.

Vonnie said...

I have never posted on this blog before - I got here from reading Kevin Bussey's blog. I am a member of the Church of Christ, but have a daughter in law who is Baptist and my Grandfather was Baptist, before he learned the truth. That was said tongue in cheek. He has been dead for over 30 years and he was very serious. Anyway, I love reading the comments and most of the time am very thankful we don't have Conventions in the CoC - we have Lectureships at the colleges, such as Abilene Christian University - coming up next month BTW. But we definitely have different groups within - we now say Progressive or Traditional, instead of Liberal and Conservative. I agree with Kevin that labeling is not good but it also depends where you are. I have been a liberal in a conservative church and a conservative in a liberal church, without even changing what I believe.
Wade, for what is worth, coming from an outsider, you seem to be a man of God who is trying to improve a system. I have to remind myself that anything we do here on Earth as far as organizations are concerned are human, and it is only by the Grace of God that we are saved. Whether you are saved before or after Baptism is another whole discussion and one in which I am no longer interested in debating. Let us concentrate on teaching Christ and him crucified. Oh and I scored 28 on your test.

Jeremy Green said...


I got an A+ - Did I win anything?

BTW, Do trustees have to affirm/sign the BF&M 2000?

Just curious and God bless!!!

In Christ,

Glen Alan Woods said...

My systematics professor in seminary, Gerry Breshears, shared a similar set of insights relating to doctrinal priorities during one of the classes I had with him. Interestingly this was at Western Seminary in Portland, Oregon, where I am now a DMin student. As many of you know this is a baptist school. I am an ordained charismatic minister. Yet they still have allowed me to earn the MDiv and now the DMin. That speaks volumes to me about issues of doctrinal priority. Obviously there are other seminaries that never would have enrolled me, much allowed me to graduate.

While I would never be hired by Western to teach on account of my charismatic background (second order priorities), nor would I ever been allowed to minister in a baptist church, I am allowed to be a student at Western on account of first order priorities which we share.

I share this to express my appreciation for emphasizing these distinctions. I didn't take the test since I am not SBC anyway. I just wanted to encourage those who are SBC to give it a try as I think it does have merit.

I can guarantee you that this sort of thing deserves consideration across the breadth of christendom, particularly my own denomination.


Glen Woods

Greg P said...

I scored 27 but the 26-30 description does not describe me. Some of the issues are those which are not "open to interpretation" unless we're not concerned with interpreting the Bible *rightly*.

But I do believe that those issues, while having a clear interpretation that is simply missed by some, are not disqualifications from *SBC* leadership, simply because it goes beyond the BF&M 2000. They may not be essential doctrines, but they are revealed doctrines.

So as far as testing goes, I think that the points system is pretty solid, but the evaluations could use a bit of reworking. Good idea overall, though, even if only to show that not every Christian is going to be able to fully understand rightly every jot and tittle. We ought to be both patient in instruction and teachable ourselves.

David Rogers said...


You have taken a very practical, and I believe helpful, application of Mohler's triage concept with this. If all involved could agree on these 10 issues (that is, whether each one is level 1, 2 or 3) our problems of working together as the SBC would practically be solved. Even if we can't all agree on this, at least it serves to show where the "sticking point" is.

BTW, I'm waffling between a 29 and 30. I kind of think someone who believes "the biblical church is only a local, visible church" will be hard-pressed to live out a biblical commitment to the unity of the Body of Christ. But perhaps there are some ways around this. said...


Thanks for your comment. I read your blog regularly and appreciate your insightful posts. said...


Thanks for the comment too. The scorecard has been revised based upon your comments (which make very good sense).

In His Grace,

Wade said...


In my humble opinion the only label that should be bestowed upon you is Southern Baptist leader.

Alycelee said...

How very interesting.
I scored 30.
Wade, this is a wonderful way to keep the focus on how narrow our thinking can and has been and why?
Looking forward to seeing these comments today.

irreverend fox said...

man, I don't know about this. I'm like a 27, and that was debatable. I might be a 26.

None of those things were a "1" for me. I just can't see myself seeking the removal or voting against anybody over a "2" or "3" issue. But I would seek the removale or vote against anyone who did not agree with something that I held as a "1"

RM said...

Well, I took the test and made a solid 30. Now I'm really perplexed! I was a leader in the conservative movement in Texas, served on the board of SBTC, President of the board of SBTC, ate supper with Jack Graham, Adrian Rogers, Russell Dilday, and Marv Knox, and now I'm not sure what I am... haha (I really DO know and am a whole lot happier and more relaxed.)

For more of my personal pilgrimage and struggles with the conservative movement check out:

Paul Burleson said...


30/30 in this household.[Test taken separately and results revealed after the fact.]


Alan Cross said...

I scored a 30.

MediaDude said...

Wade, interesting approach. Honestly, in my years as a Christian working overseas, I have found it very easy to be inclusive, rather than exclusive. So, we have found good fellowship with Presybyterians in Egypt (after all, aren't SBs just wet Presbyterians?), Ch of Christ, Christian churches (instrumental and non-instrumental), Assemblies of God (produced an evangelistic film with them in Africa that has been seen by well over 50 million and has influenced over 500,000 to receive Christ), Pentecostals of various flavors in 10 countries. I have even found good fellowship with Catholics. (would I plant a church with some of these? I don't know but I am not a CPer.) Now, I am not an IMB M, but independant. I am now a SB member where I live and indeed work with IMBers when I can but others when the Gospel needs to be preached. My question is what does the Bible say about who we should fellowship? Not the BF&M old and present, but the written Word of God? To me, the God calls us to be more inclusive, rather than exclusive. To love those around us and work toward establishing the Kingdom of God.

On a more amusing note, should we add the Body Mass Index here! Honestly, we would all feel better if we lost weight. Maybe a good motion in San Antonio would be a new slogan, 10% for the CP and 10% weight loss in 2007! My personal target is 10% weight loss.

Jacob Jones said...

Cooperation in the body is essential. I often question the role of the “autonomous church”. From whom are they autonomous? I am in favor of more accountability in church cooperation.

Jack Maddox said...


The test is loaded dude and you know it! Where is the questions concerning the essentials that many have deemed "Non essential" I find it telling that in your post you use the term "authority" of scripture instead of "Inerency" of scripture or even "Truth without any mixture of error" Clark Pinnock believes in the 'authority" of scripture as does Glen Hinson and Molly Marshall Green. WHere would they score on this test. According to your test I need to go sign the Memphis Declaration! I think we both know better than that : )


Alycelee said...

Jacob, that is a great question and I would love to hear discussion about that subject sometime.
In the new testament when there were problems in a local church, an apostle came to help solve it, or sent someone to.
However, it seems we have sometimes used the word "autonomous" as a license to be independent,
prideful, and our government is by a democratic vote rather than the leading of God. If carnal, worldly people are in the church business meeting, what would the outcome of the vote be?

BTW, my grandsons name is Jacob Jones and
I'm in Arkansas. Seems we have much in common.

Jeff Richard Young said...

Dear Brother Wade,

Thank you for the way you have summarized these issues. It was also very helpful to read Dr. M's quotes.

Love in Christ,


David Rogers said...

Jack Maddox,

In case you didn't catch it the phrase "authority of Scripture" is from a direct quote from Dr. Mohler. Would you mean to insinuate the same thing of Dr. Mohler that you have of Wade? said...


I love it.

You are joining a growing group of people that are affecting my personal conscience! We need "more accountability in church cooperation" -- amen.

Unknown said...

Yes, my brother! I think that this discussion is going where it should go, and may be able to bear real fruit.

27. But, I think the scoring system has real flaws, because it completely nullifies the tiered system. The point of the tiers is to assign importance- and that importance should be static and unchanging. When you apply weighted values- 1,2, or 3- you equalize all doctrines. For instance, you may have a list of nine 3rd tier doctrinal issues, and throw a first tier issue in there, and the nine will outweigh the one.

TO fix that, you would have to come up with lists of doctrines on the same tier- but that would then completely defeat the purpose, because anything above a third tier should garner a no-vote on leadership. A person surely is not going to use a sytsem that tempers important doctrine- those which they deem essential at least on some level.

Your going to have to (or in Texas- gonna have to) come up with lists of doctrines on each tier. I would propose -> 1-Essentials for salvation, 2-essentials for leadership or employment in SBC (which include being an SBC missionary), 3- non-eseentials but important, and will not divide fellowship.

Why should the qualifications for leader or employment (missionary) be different? And, are you saying based on your second tier that one who is not qualified for leadership in SBC is not considered Southern Baptist?

SigPres said...


I'm just glad we didn't have to distinguish which side (or the other) we leaned toward! said...


I like your comment for no other reason I have never been called "dude" before :).

I feel like a surfer.

Anyway, the test is only loaded in the sense these are the issues we currently face in the SBC and they are NOT a part of the BFM.

However, I have heard from several people that there will now be a push by some for a BFM 2010 (it rhymes) that will take these third tier doctrines and make them priority doctrine --- and exclude these folks from service in the SBC who disagree.

I drew my line in the sand last fall.

All I'm doing now is trying to educate Southern Baptists and shout "WAKE UP!" What started over the "Battle for the Bible" is becoming a battle, as eloquently described by Dr. Mohler, where Fundamentalists attempt to move third tier doctrines into the ER of theology and demanding that anyone with opposing views be excluded from SBC leadership.

It won't work.

Because of people like David Rogers, Kevin Bussey, Alyce Lee, T.D. Webb, Bryan Riley, ArkRaz, Alan Cross, SBObserver, Jacob Jones, Jeff Richard Young (those are only the handful of people who have commented on this post in the first few hours it has been up), plus a host of others in the SBC who are beginning to demand accountability on church cooperation and freedom of dissent on third tier doctrines.


P.S. Jack, again, this is not about inerrancy. In my opinion, those who try to keep going back to that issue and say it is the problem we are currently facing in the SBC are revealing an inability to dialogue about the current issues in a gracious, open and inductive manner --- or maybe more importantly, they can't comprehend cooperation with people who disagree on third tier doctrines because in their didactic theology, there ARE NO THIRD TIER DOCTRINES.

What say ye?

Scott said...


I am just curious if you keep updating your posts, can you let us know what changes you are making?

Scott said...


That is a very interesting comment, and I appreciate your logic.

I also wholeheartedly agree with you --- except in one are.

I took great pains to only include what I consider third tier doctrines in this test :)

You may not agree with me, and that's fine!!

It's only a test that I created, but I use it as an illustration that real dialogue can only begin when we talk about what doctrines are first tier, second tier, and third tier.

I would propose that a few will come in later today, read the questions on the test, score themselves, read this comment where I consider all ten questions third tier, and then proceed to call me a "moderate" a "liberal" or possibly even a mild "heretic."

I don't consider myself any of those, but I am hoping to help people see where labels begin.

Wade said...


I did. Read the twelth comment down. I also put the word (revised) in the body of the post by the term Score Card, but blogger must not have accepted it (that is one problem with blogger that drives me crazy). I think it is there now. said...

My word Tim,

Your wife's grandmother was not only a sweet and kind member of Emmanuel, she made outstanding cinammon rolls, and was a theologian in her own right. The cookbook she published had some wonderful devotions that were both doctrinally sound and wonderful to read! Tell her I said hello.

Alan Cross said...


I appreciate your reasonable tone. You sound like someone I could talk with about this. But, I disagree with few things:

"But on those other issues, I guess I'm on the conservative side."

That would imply that is someone is in disagreement with you on these issues, they are on some side that is not conservative. You might not have meant to say that (I'll give you the benefit of the doubt), but many people are saying that, and that is Wade's point. We were all in agreement on the inerrancy issue in the 80's and 90's, but now as the SBC leadership keeps narrowing the theological parameters, we are eating our own. It has to stop. I am a lifelong conservative, but under this perspective, I would be seen to be a moderate or liberal. This is becoming surreal.

Also, you said:

"My point is, the convention can do what ever it desires with the BFM. They can use it to tighten paramenters, OR, they can use it to loosen them. It's history clearly points that has always been used to TIGHTEN, not loosen. I see this as a response of the convention to it's culture, with the desire to maintain sbc purity of doctrine and preserve a unique identify from other denominations. Maybe it's time to add something to the BFM on alcohol and on tongues. Those are the two hottest potatos right now. A newly revised BFM 2007."

I understand the desire to respond to things in our culture, and as heresies pop up, we should take a stand and define what we believe. Christian history is replete with examples of this happening for good reason. But, to use the BFM as a tool to speak against culture or to tighten belief systems is a really bad practice, in my opinion. A confession of faith should reflect what is eternally true across all times and cultures. It should not be tweaked every few years in response to the mood of the convention. Can you imagine if we had taken that approach in 1925 in regard to race relations? That would have been embarrassing!

We have to think deeply about this. What is the purpose of our confession? If it is full of social and political statements based on cultural or dogmatic views of scripture, then it is useless and the SBC is doomed. We have to use wisdom here.


Any attempt to ammend the BFM in 2010 in the way you suggested will be vehemently opposed. If it is successful, it will be the end of the SBC as we know it. These people don't realize what they are doing. May God have mercy.

volfan007 said...

as a sociologists...the questions you asked where biased to your point of view. the test was very much skewed to fit your view of things. why would you pick ten questions that fit what you beleive as determining if someone could serve with others or not. in my humble opinion....your test just showed who would have trouble serving with a five pointer who speaks in tongues and accepts all baptisms.

i have no trouble serving with people who believe Gods word and who seek to live by the clear teachings of scripture. and, they are baptist.

those who are christians and not baptists...God bless them....but, if they are not baptist, then they dont need to serve in sbc leadership positions.


Kelly Reed said...


Some are important, but not disqualifiers for service, nor breakers of fellowship or cooperation. Hopefully, they will never "officially" (BF&M 2010?) become so.

Wade, this is the first I've heard of a revision already in the planning stage. How sad that it would be done over these types of issues.

Maybe we should propose an amendment process where 3/4 of the state conventions have to ratify a change? Wouldn't that increase involvment in the decision?

Pursuing Answers to Questions of Faith & Life,

Kelly said...


Please notice that the questions do not take a side, both views on the doctrine are acceptable.

I accept any Southern Baptist who only accepts baptisms performed by an ordained Baptist minister or deacon.

I accept any Southern Baptist in who believes tongues have ceased and have no problem with them in leadership.

I accept any Southern Baptist who is not a five point Calvinist and enjoy partnering with them.

The question on the test is will those who hold to the views above accept those who hold to the opposite view and cooperate with them in the SBC.

Your comment reveals that you will not. said...

Blessed Man,

Email me and identify yourself and I will tell you the results :). I'm curious because of a couple of reasons.

All others, the results will be given Sunday on this blog. said...

Off for my Friday golf game and then away from town to watch my son play football. No responses to questions from this point forward.

Blessings to all,


Alycelee said...

Alan. . .
Great reminder of our past.
"Can you imagine if we had taken that approach in 1925 in regard to race relations? That would have been embarrassing!"
Perhaps we should remember that when thinking about changing BFM (why we just can't say we believe the Bible, I don't know)
Inserting parameters concerning tongues and women in ministry, I believe has more to do with control (or perhaps fear) than it does looking intently in the scripture.

Unknown said...


That clarifies some things for me. I also would not call you any of those names based on your third tier doctrines for sure.

I think the entire debate resides on the second tier. In addition, I think this is by far the most important tier FOR missions cooperation and leadership WITHIN the SBC.

Again, great direction you are going. I thank you for this discussion.

Unknown said...

I would also like to point everyone to yesterday's Chapel service at Southern, message by Russell Moore.

He says a lot about the Conservative Resurgence. I think it is very profitable to those on both sides to listen to this message. It can be accessed here:

Marty Duren said...

You are a "sociologists"?

Are you also more than one person?

Did you attend UT?

I take the test.

Bob Cleveland said...


My answer will be pretty dull after replacing the turf (or returfing the place) and watching your son play football. I took the test and scored a 30, but thought of something in the process.

It doesn't, of course, measure the depth of convictions about the issues. I could have STRONG convictions about them, but realize we all have competency of the soul in such matters (so says Herchell Hobbs, anyway). Or, I might have very weak beliefs that I inherited along with my religion, but not be willing to argue with anyone else about it. So I'll just believe for myself and not make any fuss. I hasten to add that my teaching is to know what you believe, and believe it strongly.

But either is ok with me. And the big point is the tent is supposed to be big, if Herschell Hobbs is to be believed.

Terry Hamblin said...

I'm not a Southern Baptist but I scored 30. Can I join?

Paul said...

I don't know how this happened, but I scored, like, a 35. There must have been extra credit in there somewhere. :)

Jack Maddox said...


All I am saying is that the word "Authority" has become so watered down that it is really no longer holds the same meaning it once is highly subjective. And yes, I would say to Dr. Mohler that he needs to be more definitive in his term, yet I do need to read the article, and I should have already, to get a sense of his context. I am really not insinuating anything about Wade. I love Wade and even agree with him on a majority of the issues that concern him. I am not to sure however that he has made primary issues out of that which is indeed secondary. Cooperation and 'the big tent' become a issue of their own with many folks. And I am somewhat tired of seeing men and women marginalized and accused of being narrow or legalistic because they dare to say that there is a danger in broadening the tent to much. One thing that would help me tremendously is if Wade would answer my questions concerning men like Clark Pinnock, who your dad debated over the issue of inerrancy and won the day I might say!

But let me clear...I love Wade and look forward to breaking bread with him one day. He seems to be a great guy that I have much more in common with than I hold in opposition.


Dude is a good kids call me dude!

It is about inerrancy, simply due to the fact that I cannot get you to clarify if men who may hold to the concept of inerrancy and may even hold to it themselves are willing to cooperate with those who do not. Many of the men you mentioned in a previous post advocated NO CHANGE when we had men and women who were inclusivist, borderline universalist, Did not hold to inerrancy, and some had even retracted a once held belief in Hell. My question for you is simply just how big is the tent?

You may be right however that the larger issue is not inerrancy, it very well may be biblical separation.


Alycelee said...

Interesting blog you have. As far as I am concerned, if you are bought with the blood of Jesus, come on in.

V domus,
I don't know if you are referring to the questions on this test, or including things you mentioned in the BFM. In any case, I certainly hope we don't start addressing such issues there.

When I came to Christ 30+ years ago, I had no idea what to think from a scriptural point of view about "the death penalty, immigration or state sponsored gambling." As I walk with God, He showed me to renew my mind, to start changing my mind and put on "the mind of Christ" It was and is a transition.
My mind is not renewed by the BFM, or because what someone told me. Too many people seem anxious to drag people to their "perceptions" of truth. I believe that is the work of the Holy Spirit.
Til then, we extend grace to younger, less mature brothers of sisters, not dictate rules or regulations.
"For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the
greatest of these is charity. (I Cor. 13:9-13)

RKSOKC66 said...

I scored a 29.

I didn't exactly know what the question about the CHURCH was asking so I guessed.

RKSOKC66 said...


Your BLOG must be getting a tremendous number of hits. I think you must have swamped the server.

Normally I have no trouble posting a comment. But today, it took me a half hour after dozens of trys to post anything.

Alycelee said...

V domus,
The distinction I was attempting to make (didn't make myself clear, sorry) was not "what" the BFM said, but attempting to "legislate" what it says.
Frankly, I see no need to repeat what it says (to members in our churches) as the Bible speaks clearly about such matters of morality, the unborn, greed, caring for orphans, etc.
I personally mentor, disciple, encourage from the text of the scriptures, not from the BFM.
Thanks for your reply. I'm trying to be clearer in my communication here. Sometimes difficult :)

Wayne Smith said...


Isn't it Great how Jesus transforms our lives and our worldview when we surrender all to His Lordship. It's only when we take our eye's off of Jesus that we start to muddy the waters. (Except the Worlds View)

A Brother in Christ

Those not experiencing the grace, love, and joy of God's salvation may have greater difficulty forgiving (Mat_18:21-35).

Wayne Smith said...


I asked you if you knew what Sanctification was and when it begins and ends?

Your answer was
sanctification begins at the moment you are saved, or regenerated. it ends in glorification....when we receive our glorified bodies in heaven.

did i pass your test?


My reply is Yes you passed that test. Our Brother and Sisters are on different steps or rungs on a ladder than we are. God is the potter and we are the clay. We need to Trust and Obey God as the Holy Spirit is at work in all Believer. So we shouldn't put points on God's Work for HIS Kingdom.

A Brother in Christ

Alycelee said...

In His Name
You said that much better than I did, both your response to me and Volfan. Thank you.
"The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, His mercies never come to an end."
I want that kind of love and mercy.
After all, I have God's very DNA firmly planted inside.
Family time.
Agape said...


Sorry, but I have a rule against attacking individuals. "Counterfeit Baptist" used to describe one of our agency heads breaks that rule.

Comment deleted.

Ellis said...

I'm a 30 ... no big surprise. It's an interesting thought and exercise. I wish more would agree with Dr. Mohler. I wonder if he is given the freedom to use this philosophy at his school? It's an honest question ... I really don't know.

Jeremy Green said...


In regard to your comment:

E: "I wish more would agree with Dr. Mohler. I wonder if he is given the freedom to use this philosophy at his school?"

Those who cite Mohler’s article as an objection to the inclusion of what they believe to be “non-essentials” in the BF&M 2000 must be unaware, or have conveniently forgotten, that Mohler served on the committee that penned the BF&M 2000. Furthermore, Mohler has even been referred to as the “Thomas Jefferson” of the BF&M 2000 because of his contribution in writing the document.

Interestingly, the Preamble of the BF&M 2000 clearly states that the contents of the confession “are doctrines we hold precious and as ESSENTIAL to the Baptist tradition of faith and practice” (emphasis mine). Thus, it would appear that none of the contents of the BF&M 2000 would be viewed by him as “non-essentials” (tier 3), but rather as “essentials” (tiers 1-2). Wouldn't you agree?

Thanks and God bless!!!

In Christ,

Jeremy Green said...


I was recently told that trustees are required to sign/affirm the BF&M 2000. However, I am curious as to whether or not that is true.

Since you are a trustee of the IMB, could you please tell me whether or not you had to affirm/sign the BF&M 2000?

Thanks for your help and God bless!!!

In Christ,

Unknown said...


Last year, Dr. Jack Graham scolded Dr. Mohler's calvinist theology, mentioning him by name on Sunday morning to his multiple-thousand member church.

Kicker was that he was slate to speak in Southern Seminary's chapel just weeks following that verbal undressing.

Dr. Mohler put out a statement to all the students and faculty, that they WOULD behave like Christians and treat Dr. Graham as a Christian brother, and love him as such.

Yes, Southern Seminary is Dr. Mohler's theology and practice of it. No hindrances there for him, as he turned that place around (after being put there with the help of Dr. Paige Patterson and the men everyone here likes to deride and insult.)

RKSOKC66 said...

craig from ga:

Are you saying that Baptists are so diehard that they won't accomodate some variation on even secondary or tertiary issues?

You saying that for Baptists "It's my way or the highway?"

I am not so pessimesitic. I with think the right leadership the guys in the pew will stay focused on the main thing.

BTW, that sermon that was in the Chapel at Southern Seminary yesterday (reference by a previous commentor collin_m) was pretty good. Ego trip, power broker pastors are going to flame out "eventually"

Tim Sweatman said...

I scored a 30, so which part of the ER do I get sent to?

Matt Snowden said...

Craig from Georgia,

I have seen many congregations (including the one I am a member of) function well with different positions on a number of the issues you mention. Unity can be present in the absence of absolute uniformity. Fighting until everyone agrees on everything is far more damaging than agreeing on the core and taking a deep breath.

MediaDude said...

As I read these comments and debates I wonder how many the the SB blogosphere that respond are:
1. Pastors with an advanced theology degree
2. Seminary students
3. Just normal SB members.

Because, just because, it seems to me that most of you/us/them fall into the #1&2 catagory (I don't - I am closest to #3 but to a man on the street I would be just a normal follower of Jesus without labels or, Wade, tinted glasses)

I friend of mine has designed an interesting website he is another Okie, Wade!

Ken and Brandie said...


First time poster. Excellent direction with Dr. Mohler's triage idea! I scored a 30, but as a CBF supporter in Texas, what else would you expect?! :)

The essentials/negotiables/non-essentials idea is not a new one, of course, but I think you've put the problem in very practical terms for many of us. The struggle, as I believe you've displayed well, is in determining who gets to decide, on behalf of a convention, a "fellowship," or any other group of people, what constitutes a first- or second-order doctrine.

Well done!

Gracia y Paz,
Ken said...

Volfan 007,

You are losing credibility quickly.

I don't appreciate you identifying me as a person who speaks in tongues. You have never spoken to me, you have never called me, you have not even read my previous posts. Had you done so, you would have realized that you were lying about me.

Any post that is an intentional or unintentional distortion of the facts will be removed.

Your comment is deleted.

I would encourage you to not visit blogs until you display more integrity in your posts.

In addition, your desire to see Dr. Mohler gone as President of Southern is outlandish. said...

For His Glory,

You ask Volfan a good question.

His answer is obviously "NO. The SBC is not big enough, go start your own denomination."

I extend my hand of brotherly fellowship to Volfan, but his desire to exclude people who do not agree with him is the hallmark of Fundamentalism.

RKSOKC66 said...

The M Dude:

I am an "average guy" in the pews.

Mary Ann:

I agree! My wife and I have been Christians (and Baptists) for 40 years and we have never had a conversation about the "universal chruch" vs. the "local congregation" as far as I can remember. This evidently is one of the "litmus tests" that some people might bring up to see if you pass muster as a real Baptist. I am not necessarily saying that there is not a "preferred" viewpoint -- just that it is not crucial.

I don't see any reason you can't mix for example pro-Calvinists and anti-Calvinists together. Most people don't even know if they are pro or anti Calvinist since they don't know what Calvinism is.

Several points:
(1) The church was around for over 1000 years before Calvin came on the scene so I don't think it is essential to have a theology attributed to Calvin

(2) The Institutes of Christian Religion underwent a number of various editions (in French and Latin) so depending on which one you look at the definition of "Calvinism" will vary

(3) The "5 points" are only a caricature of Calvinism since that moniker was dreamed up by one of Calvin's followers after the fact.

Personally, I am a Calvo-Armenian.
I hold to predestination and free will simultaneously -- even though these positions are supposedly mutually exclusive.

God knows everything ahead of time and initiates operations to bring it to pass AND each of us has a free will. This is not a contractition since for God there is no cause and effect in operation since he does not have a linear time line. God has enough degrees of freedom so that the past, present, and future occupy the same space -- and all space -- on the time line simultaneously.

For me, it is futile to argue about Calvinism since this only exposes a person's inherent lack of "dimensional mobility" relative to God. I am dumb enough as it is without trying to support some visually impaired human-invented theological system.

Looking at Paul's letter to the Romans gives us a pretty good primer on what some people call "Calvinism" and also "Armenianism"

Craig from GA: Guys are splitting over this stuff? They need to get a life! said...

SBC Pastor,

Trustees must sign the BFM 2000, which I did, with a couple of written caveats.

First, I explained that I thought it was a mistake to make the women in ministry prohibition an "essential" of the faith. Though I am sympathetic with the prohibition, and would not be in a church with a woman who is the Senior Pastor, I do not believe it is not an essential of the faith, and to put it in a Baptist Confession was unwise.

Second, to take out the "priesthood of the believer" (as stated in the 1963 BFM), an essential doctrine of Baptists for 400 years, and substitute it with "the priesthood of believers" (read "majority rules" as stated in the 2000 BFM), was also unwise.

Third, I quoted Isaac Backus, the great Baptist thinker on religious liberty who had an interesting quote about signing creeds. I said it was unconscionable that were were having people sign a confession as if it were a creed (by the way, those employed by the SBC at Seminaries, Institutions, and Agencies are required to sign Abstracts, Contracts, and other particular documents that are different from general confession; I see nothing wrong with that practice).

Bob Cleveland said...


Free will and predestination are no mutually exclusive except to (mostly) Baptists. They're sure not, to Calvinists.

davidinflorida said...

The Book Of ACTS, its in the Bible. It shows how the Christian Church should operate , its goals and functions... The Church had its disagreements (6:1 11:1-3 15:2 15:36-39), but with God, they would come together for a common goal (15:6-14). That goal was to preach Christ crucified (2:42-47) Today, there appears to be alot of people who think that they are eating meat, but should probably go back to drinking milk... What differance does it make if your a 5 pointer, a 2 pointer or a minus 3 pointer. (Titus 3:9)... At the end of the day you must ask yourself, how many lost people did I share The Gospel of Christ with today ? If you are the average Southern Baptist the the answer is probably ZERO.

Wayne Hatcher said...

I had only one problem with the ten questions, and that was the issue of women deacons. It is not because I believe women should not serve in this capacity. My main objection to women in the deaconate is that that body in most SB churches functions more like an eldership than a biblical deaconate, thus putting women in authority over men.

Should the BFM2000 be revised? I think so, but for a totally different reason from most of those of you who believe so. I commented in a previous post of Wade's that "I have come to appreciate the beauty of the relative brevity of the BFM2000." That does not mean that I believe that the document is perfect, far from it; but I do not believe that adding every jot and tittle of ones personal law will make it better. It will just make it more narrow, suiting only the personal convictions of a few.

I have been taking my church's high-school Sunday-school class through the BFM2000 this summer. There are several issues that trouble me:

1. In Article IV, on Salvation, the opening sentence reads: Salvation involves the redemption of the whole man, and is offered freely to all who accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour,
Is it just me, or do these words mean what I think they mean? Salvation is offered only to those who accept Jesus? I don't know a Calvinist or Arminian who believes this. The Free Offer of the Gospel is just that; offered freely to all, period. And yet a bunch of men with Dmin's after their name revised this in 2000, and didn't see fit to correct this obvious flaw. How many hundreds of thousands have "read" this and some have even "signed off" on this. Did my freshman English fail me here, or is everybody lying about actually reading this document; or has everybody read it so slightly that this passed their notice?

2. I wonder each week, as I prepare my lesson, if anyone in the revision process seriously considered the Scripture references associated with these articles. Is anyone in the SBC seriously studying this document? Some articles are better than others, but let me give you an example from Article XII, on Education, which I am currently working through. It appears to me that someone simply did a word search on the word "wisdom" and then wrote down the resulting passages. Some of them have relevance, but many do not. Perhaps what is more troubling than the extraneous passages, is the abundance of passages that were omitted. This is just one article, and yet I have found this problem, to some degree, almost every week that I have been teaching this class. Here is a list of passages that came to mind, yet are not to be found anywhere under Article XII: Isaiah 1:18, Matthew 22:37, Romans 12:2, 1 Corinthians 14:14,15, Ephesians 6:14, 1 Peter 1:13, 1 Peter 3:15, 1 Peter 4:7. Spend some time Sunday afternoon and chase the listed and unlisted references down, and see what I mean. Do we really believe what we say we believe, and do we know why?

I know that this may be a little off topic, but I believe that the BFM2000 is at the heart of our problem, and also at the heart of our solution. I am convinced that most of us don't know what we believe, and/or why we believe it. Obviously the problem behind the problem, is that we don't know our Bibles very well.

In Christ, Wayne Hatcher

Wayne Smith said...

Jeremy L. Green SBC PASTOR,

Where have all the Christians gone. You gotta have Heart.

A Christian is one Who follows Jesus Christ and displays His Love, not Hate.

I don't think Jesus was on a Witch-hunt, do you?

Jeremy Green said...


Thanks for your answer. BTW, James Smith, the Editor of the Florida Baptist Witness, wrote an excellent article on Baptists, the BF&M, and accountability -- It's entitled "Baptist Confessional Accountability" and here is the link:

In the article, Smith clearly demonstrates that Baptists have indeed historically believed in, and practiced, doctrinal accountability. Furthermore, he provides the real meaning of the word "creed." Unfortunately, the word was used in an improper and derogatory way by moderates and liberals during the Conservative Resurgence and now some have mistakenly employed their usage of the term. God bless!!!

In Christ,

GeneMBridges said...

1. In Article IV, on Salvation, the opening sentence reads: Salvation involves the redemption of the whole man, and is offered freely to all who accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour,
Is it just me, or do these words mean what I think they mean? Salvation is offered only to those who accept Jesus? I don't know a Calvinist or Arminian who believes this. The Free Offer of the Gospel is just that; offered freely to all, period. And yet a bunch of men with Dmin's after their name revised this in 2000, and didn't see fit to correct this obvious flaw. How many hundreds of thousands have "read" this and some have even "signed off" on this. Did my freshman English fail me here, or is everybody lying about actually reading this document; or has everybody read it so slightly that this passed their notice?

A. This is a reference to duty faith in its context.

B. It is also in the 1963 version.

C. A Calvinist certainly affirms this, because in our view, salvation is not offered through the effectual call to anybody but the elect. The Arminian can affirm it through appealing to election based on foreseen faith. Logically, however, that still doesn't get him out of the problem.

D. A Calvinist does not deny the free offer of the gospel in that the gospel is offered but not grace. Grace is bestowed from God. Grace is not offered to any man.

(7). A belief that God, from before the foundation of the world, elects (or does not elect), a definite number of sinners to salvation.

I know what you meant to write, but I don't think this came our correctly, Brother Wade. Written this way, this one IS specifically menntioned in the BFM. It's in the section election in the BFM when you combine it with the section discussing Open Theism in Article II on God: His perfect knowledge extends to all things, past, present, and future, including the future decisions of His free creatures.

The dispute over election at present is arising over the basis of it (God's own mercy alone or foreseen faith of the person), not whether or not this is mentioned. The view of the current but growing minority, but that of the Founders and the progenitors of the denomination is that election is unconditional along the Calvinist definition. The view of the current, but declining majority is that of the Arminian scheme (foreseen faith). Both stipluate that the number is the number is necessarily fixed from before the foundation of the world, unless one is an Open Theist and denies that God's foreknowledge of future events is infallible. Granted that's the logical position to hold if you really believe in libertarian free will, but the majority of non-Calvnists are not, to their credit, logical in that respect.

(1) The church was around for over 1000 years before Calvin came on the scene so I don't think it is essential to have a theology attributed to Calvin

That leaves you with the ecumenical creeds and Romanism then. The Lutherans, I'm sure, would be very interested in this as well. In addition, if you'd like we can certainly discuss the elements touching on those of the Remonstrance of the following Early Fathers: Human Inability: Barnabas, Ignatius, Eusebius, Justin Martryr; Election: Clement, Ignatius, Justin, Ocatvius, Clement of Alexandria, Cyprian, Ambrose. Don't be so sure that there weren't those who affirmed definite atonement: Epiphanius (A.D. 390) In a debate with certain Pagans who did not believe...
...Thou art not of the number of them who were bought with blood, O Manes, because thou deniest the blood...He gave his life for His own sheep.
We can also discuss Gottshchalk and the other Augustinians.

(2)The Institutes of Christian Religion underwent a number of various editions (in French and Latin) so depending on which one you look at the definition of "Calvinism" will vary That's like saying that there are differences between English and Spanish Bibles, so depending on which one you read, the definition of "propitation" changes. The issue is whether or not the substance is changed.

(3) The "5 points" are only a caricature of Calvinism since that moniker was dreamed up by one of Calvin's followers after the fact.

This, of course, bears no real resemblance to historical theology. "The FIve Points" are the response to the Remonstrants, not a caricature of Calvinism. Perhaps reading a history of Covenant Theology is in order. This accusation is usually made about Theodore Beza. The problem with it, is, of course, that Beza and Calvin himself were contemporaries, and there is no record of them having any disagreements over the substance of Beza's teaching.

God has enough degrees of freedom so that the past, present, and future occupy the same space -- and all space -- on the time line simultaneously.

This is muddled in several respects. For starters, God does have a concept of cause and effect in that logic is an attribute of God's mind. He does understand that in order for x to occur as a concrete instance of what is in his mind, y must come to pass. It's an ends-means relation. We understand cause and effect and the antecedence of x to y; ergo God does too, or else we have no ground for the logical process. God also grounds the passage of time in His creation. His own Word recognizes that we were chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world. The very terms "in the beginning" and "before the foundaton of the world," are about a cause-effect relation and a temporal relation. God does exist outside of time, but that also means He orders and grounds time. Likewise, you're conflating ontology and teleology. The timeless of God does not mean there is no teleological order to His attributes or the working of His mind. Ontologically, God is unaffected by relational sequence as to His person, but He is conscious of sequential duration, because sequential duration is a part of the ordering of his decree. We know this because we have a sense of past, present, and future that, because it exists and will exist, is grounded by His mind. For God, all of these are internally intuited and not arrived at chronologically through a process, but the concept or idea of durational sequence or succession is a distinct epistemological, not ontological category. God knows all our thoughts and actions in the past, present, and future,and at the same time knows His own thoughts and actions in relation to each other and to our own and in what order. Thus, He can inspire Paul to say, "He chose before He created." He knows that He created the sea and dry land before He created birds and fish and animals and man.

The problem here is libertarian freedom, not the conception of God. In libertarian freedom, the future free acts of men are not knowable, even by God, because if they are known by God they are part of His mind, but that would not be libertarianism, that would be compatibilism, which is not a libertarian argument. The problem for the libertarian is not what causes event x from the standpoint of God and man, but what causes x from the standpoint of man. Why does one person choose x and not y? A consistent libertarian has to cut the causal nerve in his own mind. If he appeals to any motives whatsoever, he is abandoning his libertarianism for compatibilism. Thus, by eschewing causality, libertarianism lacks explanatory power. And in the absence of explanatory power, it is irrational to the core. It cannot explain why agents act or refrain from acting.

davidinflorida said...

WOW, genembridges, what a boat load of big time absolute perfect knowledge. We dont need lifeway publications anymore, we got you!! I am sure you will lead many to Christ with all of that knowledge.

Bryan Riley said...

I just wanted to, in the midst of all this lovely dialogue regarding the jots and tittles of the faith, praise God because my 7-year old son, Tanner, my oldest, is being baptized tomorrow. Wouldn't it be incredible if these 87 posts were people sharing about someone they knew who is joining the family of God? I'm glad God gifted many of us with the ability to make a sound argument, but that gift won't save anyone. Our hearts, softened by His love, obedient to the quiet tugs of the Holy Spirit, will allow us the honor and grace of being in the right places and right times to plant, water, and grow others into and in the faith.

Please understand I am not throwing stones here... except at myself. I didn't tell one person about my joy in Christ today. Not one. I ran into the day without having my quiet time for the first time in weeks. Now I have a headache and my wife is crying at the moment, thankfully not because of anything I have or haven't done, but crying nonetheless.

I frankly do not understand why people want to make mountains out of mole hills when most of their neighbors don't even know the reason for the hope that lay within them. I just don't see Jesus hitting people over the head with fine points of doctrine. Instead, he provided for their needs and lived a life of sacrifice. I realize he was discipling twelve young Jews throughout that time and He may have been teaching some fine points of the law, but that doesn't seem to be the emphasis of the record He inspired and left us.

God bless and may His grace and peace shine in and through your lives everywhere you go. Aren't you glad you are His ambassador? His salt? His light? His reflection to this world?

Jeremy Green said...


I rejoice with you my brother. My two girls, Anna and Abigail, will both be baptized next Sunday evening. Praise the Lord and God bless!!!

In Christ,

RKSOKC66 said...

Bryan Riley:

Yeah, I agree.

Some of us, me included, get wound around the axle on all these theolgical systems.

Supposedly my post was trying to take a step back from all this stuff, but some have chosen instead to pick up the gauntlet.

I don't think either Calvinism or Arminenianism are really going to take us the whole distance. They are just systems that guys have thought up to try to "parse out" the essence of God's plan.

My earlier post was not trashing Calvinism necessarily. I was just stating that I don't get too carried away with it. Also, I don't get too carried away with the supposedly opposite paradigm - Armenianism.

Of course Grace, Free Will, Predestination are all seen in the Holy Writ independent of Calvin or Armenius or any of their forebearers or successors.

I'll leave it to Gene Bridges to elucidate more on (1) the order of God's various decrees, (2) how God's actions may or may not be "contingent" on his previous activity, (3) "open theism", and (4) "libertarianism".

For me at least, I don't think these theological systems encompass the breadth and sweep of God's plan for us! That's why I consign them to the theological curio cabinet.

Wayne Smith said...

Bryan, sbc pastor

I know the joy of a small child confessing Jesus as their Lord and inviting Jesus into their Heart. Our 7 year Great Granddaughter waited a year to be Baptized do to the Church wanting to have a class and then dragging their feet to hold such a class. She was finally baptized last month.

A Brother in Christ

GeneMBridges said...

WOW, genembridges, what a boat load of big time absolute perfect knowledge.

I never claimed this, so rather than substituting ad homineum for a reasoned response, perhaps you should actually engage the issues.

We dont need lifeway publications anymore, we got you!! I am sure you will lead many to Christ with all of that knowledge.

As a matter of fact, I have, because a great deal of my time is involved in discussing these issues with atheists and other unbelievers, and, in point of fact, I just finished a discussion with an atheist about the parable of the rich young ruler in which I spoke to him about the way he was just like the young ruler and was utterly unable to come to Christ much less understand Scripture without a new heart. I have another dear friend who is doing this in mainland China at present, teaching the gospel and theology at a major secular university, and he just baptized four of his students last semester, so you'll please forgive me if the sarcasm doesn't set well with me. I'd also add that I received an email just a few moments ago saying that they really appreciated my comments and were spurred on to look up the terms and they learned something and appreciated my time.

We can't simply evangelize, we have to teach people. For example, if you want to learn about the family and its order and dynamics in my church, you won't just hear Paul's instructions or Jesus' teachings, you'll hear sermons on the doctrine of the Trinity and lessons on the way that our culture has been deeply impacted by the fact that past generations taught strong doctrine to their people, including the hard ones like the Trinity. All doctrine is ultimately practical, so you can actually live out doctrine in a very practical manner. In terms of the Trinity, it underwrites the way the family is structured and the way the church is structured, not to mention salvation. I'd suggest one of the problems we have in this nation is the anti-family and progay agenda of the secularists. That is fueled by the apostate churches, one of which has, if you'll recall, decided to redefine the Trinity in feminine terms. When is the last time you heard a sermon on the Trinity or had a series of Sunday School lessons about this concept? When you lose this in the church; when she fails to teach her members this fundamental doctrine, society suffers.

I am an inerrantist, because I am a Calvinist, and I am a Calvinist because I am a consistent Trinitarian. My Calvinism also leads me to a robust evangelism and missions' philosophy. It also teaches me to teach the people. It also transforms my life. Perhaps, however, doctrine seems cold to many, because the church has been lax for too long in its teaching ministry. That's the legacy of a century of revivalism and doctrinal eclecticism in in the SBC. That's also a key reason why folks leave the SBC. That's why we have churches that can't get half their members to service any given Sunday. In my current church, which is not quite 1 1/2 years old, our attendance is approximately twice that of our membership on any given Sunday. We baptized a number of folks not long ago,have recently had some new professions, and we're going to be adding several more members soon.

I'd further add that this isn't a Calvinist-non-Calvinist issue. I know of several of non-Calvinist churches where this is also the case, including the one across the street from my house. They are sponsoring a debate between a professor from SEBTS who was once their pastor and a leading atheist at Wake Forest University this fall. The people of that church are known to call their Christmas Sunday services "Incarnation" Sunday, and, yes, they can tell you what words like "hypostatic union" mean, and, yes, they are actively evangelizing the lost in our community.

Cumulatively, this also why we do apologetics and teach church history and historical theology and other topics in my church. I'd add that my home church is one of the (few) larger SBC churches whose leadership did not build the church on "Jesus loves me" sermons on Sunday but on verse by verse biblical exposition, teaching historical theology, and educating its members, also for all these reasons. I can remember a day not too long ago when the leading book we were raving about there and elsewhere was "Knowing God" by JI Packer. Compare this to PDL/PDC today or The Prayer of Jabez.

The SBC, and Christian pop culture in general to a greater extent, has systematically dumbed down the membership of its churches for a couple of generations. The Lifeway material itself, in my opinion, is just about as close to useless in terms of Sunday School material as you can get, and Dr. Rainier, to his great credit, has stated that he realizes this and knows that they need to deepen it and will do so, if the churches will clamor for it. This is not the days of the SBC's founding. When you read the sermons and articles written by the first Southern Baptists, you find a much different story. They didn't just write to each other as pastors; they expected their work would be read by everybody. Richard Furman used a Baptist catechism and taught the members of FBC Charleston the doctrines of the Charleston Confession from it. He quizzed the children in church services. Spurgeon, as well as many of the Baptists of past generations, including the SBC founders taught men the basics of the covenants and what it means to "plead the convenant" in times of distress. The Puritans were exemplary practical theologians as well. Thus, the fact that there are those that don't understand terms like "libertarianism," or show a distaste for something like a history of covenant theology, or don't seem to understand the practical import of doctrine and its explanation, or the way that doctrines need to be handled systematically and not eclectically without good exegetical warant isn't complementary upon them.

Ah, but as long as we're getting them saved, all is well, right? Only if you believe getting them saved is the highest calling of the church. Unfortunately, if that's the highest calling of the church, then the church will not be fulfilling her highest calling in the age to come when her Lord returns. In addition, conversion is but one part of salvation. As the BFM states, salvation is for the whole man. It encompasses much more than a decision. Conversion is but the first step. Justification is a one time event. Sanctification is a process. I'd suggest that we have a duty to evangelize them and teach them as well, because ignorance is a recipe for the four brothers: liberalism, legalism, latitudinarianism, and apostasy. If you don't believe me, look to the inroads Open Theism has made in the neighboring Convention to the North.

Teach; teach as deeply as you can and challenge the people to rise up. Might I suggest opening up Sunday nights and Wednesday night services (or if you're really, really small Sunday morning after the service) to question and answer time, in which the pastor / preacher/ teacher of the sermon from the worship service takes questions and answers from the floor? I know many churches, Calvinist and non-Calvinist where this is done all the time. I can name you churches right now where the members are following sermons from Greek New Testaments. Then those same persons are going to the Mormon Tabernacle to witness to Mormons.

For that matter, in the days of Jonathan Edwards, farmers read their Greek New Testaments while plowing the fields. They followed his sermons from those testaments. How far we have fallen. There are whole denominations in this nation, where the members are taught church history and historical theology on the campus of the church. The laity can audit real seminary classes for free. One of them is the PCA; another is the OPC. The PCA grew by over forty percent last year, not by infant baptism, but through evangelism and through the influx of untaught persons from other denominations, including the SBC. The greatest sermon on missions from Romans 11, I have ever heard came from a Teaching Elder in a PCA church in my home town about a year ago. They employ missionaries from their church; they also teach their people historical theology in Sunday School. Lifeway could learn a thing or two from them, because Lifeway is barely out of "Jesus Loves Me" on any given Sunday and that's keeping the people of the SBC in baby shoes. No wonder the discussion today is over the sufficiency of Scripture.
No wonder The Da Vinci Code sparked a scare. The whole Da Vinci Code controversy scared a lot of people who realized they couldn't answer peoples' objections. That's because they didn't know church history in particular. That should have been a wake up call. Christianity is not fideistic. Justification through faith alone by grace alone is not supposed to lead you to fideism. We've got to grow our people up. The apostates on the Secular Web are coming from this kind of background. These are the people I often deal with in evangelism. These are the same ones who say that if they found out the gospel was true, they'd kill themselves and go to hell rather than believe it, and yes, that's a true story, not hyperbole. That's where dumbing down the church has lead people.

How much more effectual we could be as a people if we imitated generations past, in which men opened books and taught themselves the languages, for example, and studied the Word of God in more depth, and took time to read the other books to see what others were saying in order to help inform them. Or shall we be like this:

The 23rd Channel

The T.V. is my shepherd.
My spiritual growth shall want.

It maketh me to sit down and do nothing for his name’s sake,
because it require all my spare time.

It keepeth me from doing my duty as a Christian,because it presenteth me so many good shows that I must see.

It restoreth my knowledge of the things of the world,and keepeth me from the study of God’s word.

It leadeth me in paths of not attending evening worship service,
and doing nothing in the Kingdom of God.

Yea, though I live to be a hundred,
I shall keep on viewing my T.V. as long as it will work,
for it is my closest companion.

Its sound and its picture, they comfort me.

It presenteth entertainment before me,and keepeth me from doing important things with my family.

It fills my head with ideas
which differ from those set forth in the word of God.

Surely no good thing will come of my life,because my T.V. offereth me no good time to do the will of God;

Thus I will dwell in the place of the devil and his angels

RKSOKC66 said...


Here is some information I have gleaned about the "Five points of Calvinism" in terms of when that particular formula was first promulgated.

According to my sources the five points (TULIP) were first enumerated at the Synod at Dordrect Holland in 1618. During this synod "some of" the Armenian teachings were condemned. As a result the Armenians were forced out of the reformed church.

John Calvin died in 1564.

Benji: I agree we should always be digging deeper to make sure our discussion stays focused on the facts.

Alycelee said...

Bryan and SBC,
I rejoice with you, Tanner,Anna and Abigail.
Bryan, I've seen your children on your blog and they are so beautiful.
I'm the mother of 4, grandmother of 5 and I'm thrilled to say all are Christians.
What a wonderful day this is for both of you.

irreverend fox said...

am I the only person who skips and does not read massive posts?

irreverend fox said...


here's a tip that will help you know if your posts are too long. If your post is longer than Wades origional article, it's too long. If your posts are twice as long as Wade's origional article you should just start your own blog.
I hope this helps! Or just keep posting massive comments and I'll just keep skipping them. It's all good!

GeneMBridges said...

I just don't see Jesus hitting people over the head with fine points of doctrine."

Dear Brother, I do beg to differ. Jesus regularly discussed some of the finer points of the Law, which would have been "the finer points of doctrine" in His day. If they couldn't understand the finer points of doctrine and He didn't interact with them on that level because of that, then that was an indictment against the teachers and the people, not in favor of them. It's one thing to say that we have a simple, clear faith. It's another to encourage each other to be simpletons.

Does this mean, in the larger context, that we'll agree on everything? No. But neither does it mean we should not discuss the finer points of doctrine, and since I am on record in multiple venues stating that I can work with a 5 Point Arminian and have no desire to convert the SBC to Calvinism, (and in fact went out of my way earlier this year to write a booklet in which I even defend 5 Point Arminianism as, despite its conceptual difficulties encapsulating the essentials of the gospel), I hardly believe that I have "hit anybody over the head" with the finer points of doctrine. I replied to statements made; nothing more, nothing less.

Does Scripture speak with great clarity on everything? No, there are many things where there is very little Scripture chasing a topic, but it is abundantly clear on much more than many think, and our forefathers IMO, knew this well.

Moreover, history should have taught us that sometimes the finer points of doctrine matter. Let's take church discipline. The controversy over the Lapsed in Cyprian's day led to the Novatianist and Donatist controversies. This led to the development of the penance system. This led to indulgences. The debating over the finer points of doctrine in these matters continued for many centuries. It was the spark that lit the Reformation and that in turn was the means God used to elucidate the doctrine of justification by faith. Praise God for hitting people over the head with the finer points of doctrine in that day.

Here's another one: When you deny the basic ideas embodied in the Chaledonian Creed, for example, folks tend toward the heresy called Monophysitism by blending the natures of Christ into something new. Why is knowing that important? Well, the doctrine of transubstantiation is a practical outworking of Monophysitism, because the humanity of Christ is supposedly made divine and is thus something new, and He can then be resacrificed on the altar and transformed into flesh and blood for the communicant. Transubstantiation was very controversial long after the synod that approved of it, and the debating over the finer points of doctrine was another item that led to the Reformation. Thank you debaters!

Here's the point: knowing these things, you can look back in the writing of the Reformers and church fathers for information that will help you interact with Roman Catholics whose faith is divided between the merits of Christ, the sacraments (baptism and the Eucharist). That way, you don't have to reinvent the wheel, plus you can address them at their own level, since they put a lot of stock in the church fathers and the creeds.

The order of decrees was mentioned. Well, I'm glad that came up, because that too has practical importance, because this relates to the desires of God relative to sin and salvation, which in turn leads to our theology of atonement, evangelism, missions, and ethics. It also relates things like the rationality of the mind.

The order of decrees merely refers to the order in God's mind and His desires and treatment of men with respect to the outworking of the plan of salvation. For example: In 4 Point Calvinism, the decree to elect follows the decree to atone, but this interferes with the free offer of the gospel. The 4-Point Calvinist is in no position to say that God's decree does not keep a man from being saved, because the decree to atone displays a real desire for their salvation, but the decree to elect some and not others pulls in the opposite direction. Infralapsarians and Supralapsarians can deny this, because the atonement is never for the non-elect, but the agency of the reprobation is the passing over of them, not putting sin in their hearts.

This tells me that God has definitely got a people out there, and I am commanded to preach to them all with the force of a command. This doctrine of atonement tells me that the believer is eternally secure and can function without feeling paranoid he will lose his salvation. The way men are treated tells me something about the ways that God loves; God's justice; etc.

Do you need to know all this to be a functioning Christian? Absolutely not. However, does this mean the discussion of the order of decrees is of no importance not worthy of discussion when it arises? No, particularly when non-Calvinists are the ones bringing it up as if supralapsarians are all hyper-Calvinists (they aren't). Calvinists don't throw these terms out willy-nilly, but I can name you pastors who have thrown out these terms to their congregations without explaining them in their anti-Calvinist sermons. It's also rather helpful in responding that old chestnut that Calvinists believe God decreed the fall, because not only does Scripture agree with that, but (a) so do Arminians, because there's an order of decrees they have developed too, and number 2 is "Permit the Fall." and (b) the agency of the Fall in the Calvinist order is "permission" as well, so we can focus on the agency question knowing something about the theology behind the objection being raised.

It's also an extremely useful consideration when talking to atheists, whose reasoning process is, how shall we say, distorted. Naturalististic evolutionists have a theory of knowledge and perception that is irrational. If you at least understand the historical discussion about the order of decrees from Arminianism to Supralapsarianism, you can learn something about the rational mind and the way it works, because there was a great deal of discussion about knowing and orderliess of the rational mind that took place in those days. If you know what that was, that gives you an apologetic arrow in your quiver in terms of evangelism.

Speaking for myself and those who I know that discuss such things, they usually use it in response to objectors. They know it is speculative; but by the same token if you think the discussion about the order of decrees is somehow of no importance, then I can only assume that you think speculative discusses about the afterlife and the order of events through to the eschaton are of no importance. That's absurd, it's of lesser importance, but not of no use and no importance.

So, being able to interact over "the finer points of doctrine," does have an extremely practical use. Some of those uses, like the Trinity underwriting the gospel, the doctrine of the church, the doctrines of marriage and the ethics of the family, are more important than others. Others are less important, like the order of decrees. Some are somewhere in between, but none of it is just "preacher talk," because if Scripture speaks to it, even in the slightest, it deserves our study. We are to learn God's Word and "talk of it, when we sit in (our) houses, walk by the way, when (we) lie down, and when (we) rise up." Only God can change a heart and move a man to believe,but he uses means too. Shall shall we cross land and sea to make a man a convert then leave him to fend for himself or worse off than before?

Kevin said...

Guys, I agree with the Fox. Less is more. Call me lazy, but anything over a small paragraph is definitely "scroll down" material. The page says "leave your comment," not "filibuster."

Jeremy Green said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Bryan Riley said...

Just to ease everyone's minds who thought I may have been pointing a finger at them, I wrote what I wrote without reading all the comments. It wasn't any one comment on this post that led me to write it. This week there have been some comments I've read that had left me with a bad taste for whether we were really being Jesus in our writing and opining, but what I wrote above was simply out of praise for God and a confession on my part. I hadn't read Gene's or others' comments. And, as I quickly perused a few on my way down just now, I noted the comments about do others skip long comments? I do often and did this time. Perhaps when I have a moment I'll go back and read what it was that people thought I was commenting against, but, at least this time I was simply trying to say something constructive and in praise of my Heavenly Father. My daddy. Abba, FAther!! Maranatha. Save me from myself.

davidinflorida said...

Dear Gene and Benji (the defender of Gene)...... If I have offended you , I am sorry......I do think that you might lighten up a bit see Eccl 3:4... Gene, as I scanned your post, I do agree with some of what you say. Lifeway and the 23rd channel are just two examples that I see....God Bless you and remember 1 Cor 13 without love, I am nothing...

Unknown said...


Thanks for taking the time to answer so succintly. I personally was blessed by your responses.

Wayne Hatcher said...

Dear Brother Bridges,
It hit me right between the eyes when I read the comment of you quoting my comment. You are absolutely right. I was equating salvation with gospel. I know better, but don't know why this happened. I have been in a fit for months over this, simply because I have been reading one word and thinking another. You will notice I even mentioned The Free Offer of the Gospel in my comment. Thank you for shining the light on my blind spot. Now what do you think about my #2 part? Did my faux pas in #1 so inflame you that you never made it to #2?

I must say, you are wordy, but I loved every word of all three of your comments. My blunder was worth it if it at least in part brought you out of the shadows. Reading you is like listening to Sproul in one ear, Horton in the other, and reading Schaeffer, all at the same time.

All of the rest of you: Shorter is not better, if it is the truth spoken with the passion of conviction. We are a generation addicted to fifteen-second sound bytes, half-page devotionals, thirty-minute sitcoms, and by George, the sermon better end by noon.

Thanks again, Brother Bridges (no sarcasm added).

In Christ,
Wayne Hatcher

RKSOKC66 said...


Your long post is quite enlightening. I didn't realize that I would be setting off a nucleur holocaust here with my casual comments about Calvinism.

Maybe I'm flying over Calvinism -- and a bunch of other stuff -- at 40,000 ft and not seeing the whole picture.

Be advised that Theodore Beza died in 1605 -- so neither he nor Calvin were around when the "5 points" were being codified in 1618.

Calvin's first edition of the Institutes of Christian Religion only had six chapters and grew to seventy-nine chapters by the time he published his 5th and last edition in 1659. There is a lot more variation here than just translating the same text into two languages -- say Spanish and English.

Calvin was one of the greatest theologians of all time. He was, by most accounts, the guy launched "Reformed Theology".

However, I don't think a heavy duty knowledge of either Calvinism or Armenianism is "necessary" to get us to the Pearly gates.

For me Calvinism or Armenianism is just an abstraction that theologians use to overlay the Bible to help them to organize understanding. I'm not saying it is wrong -- but it is just a human system.

Gene, you have hit a chord with you call for a more "thoughtful approach" to Christianity. You have really opened my eyes up! However, in the main I don't know whether what you are doing can be replicated on a wide scale.

I guess you are defending Calvinism against my attack. This missed the point since I am not attacking Calvinism or any other system. I'm too dumb to refute the system in a systematic way. All I am saying that the system has so much overhead that it bogs down the average guy including me.

If my membership in an SBC church is dependent upon a sweeping understanding of Calvinism (or any other sytem) then I'm going to have to check out. Especially this is going to be true of my wife whose mental capacity is somewhat diminished now as she suffers from MS. Also, I have an adult daughter -- aged 38 -- that is mentally disabled a
functions as a 10 year old.

There is no way in 1000 years we could ever attend your church.

We had to leave a Sunday School class in the past as my wife said she had "no clue" what the guy was saying.

GeneMBridges said...

Brother Hatcher,

Thank you for your kind words and email. Since you posted a reply here too, I'll answer in email and here as well.

Your second point is, I think, a very good one. It may help you to study the following:

New Hampshire Confession
BFM 1925
BFM 1963
BFM 2000

The parent is the NHC. So, we're now in Iteration 4 of the NHC. I mention this, because of a couple of things.

First, when we interpret Scripture, we talk a lot about the text and its immediate background. Words have meanings often relative to the situation that occasioned them and also relative to the time written. It's not enough to say, "election does not negate free agency." We have to know why the writer used those words and who he was addressing. What would "free agency" mean to the writer of the NHC in 1833? Likewise, at this time, there were two Baptist groups: particular and general. Are things in the General Baptist confessions we would expect in the NHC if it was really a "moderate Calvinist" document (like statements about the atonement being coextensive with the call for example...)? If so, then what does this tell us about the way we should properly interpret the NHC? How would this in turn affect the way we view the BFM? (I would argue it is trying to argue against Arminianism, not for it). Likewise, if we see and Abstract of Principles, then the immediate question we need to answer is "Abstract of what?" Abstracts of articles in journals just summarize whole articles, so if there's an Abstract of Principles, then shouldn't we figure out its meaning by looking to the parent document(s)?

Do a parallel study of the confessions (you can read the BFM in parallel at Has that idea changed substantially? If so, then how might that affect the way we understand the BFM 2000? Likewise, if we call attention to any variances between then and now, which takes precedence? If we say "now," then (a) why are we using the same language and redefining it, and (b) why can't we say that about Scripture? If we say that (that is it is okay to redefine the terms from one iteration to the next), then aren't we buying into post-modernism? Oops! This is why I will talk about the history of a confession when discussing it. The BFM is a prime example of one that has been reinterpreted way too many times without regard to its history.

Teaching through the confessions as a whole this way can be quite interesting. The better written ones, like the Philadelphia, are their own commentary. My church uses the First London Confession for that reason. It's very clear and practical. It's not as complex as the 1689, and it's based on the True Confession of 1596, but if you know its background, you can make sense of it. I've always wanted to teach a class on confessional Baptist theology, that is: a comparison of the main Baptist confessions in the Southern Baptist tradition. Line them up, research them, and then go from there.

Likewise, I think it's interesting to note variances in confessions over the Scriptures that one edition cites over other versions of the same one. You're right, it looks like what they did for the 2000 is cut and paste the proofs from the 1963 into the 2000. That strikes me as a tad lazy, but then maybe they were trying not to rock the boat too much. The 2000 was a major issue to pass that year.

Sometimes the proofs between parent and child confessions are the same, but other times they aren't. Take the 1925 to 2000 editions of the BFM as an example. So, a good question to ask a class is "Why?" Is there more benefit in a longer list or the shorter list? Do they ever use the same Scriptures in contradictory ways (e.g. ways that would logically tug in opposing directions)?

Incidentally, I think we need to write a whole new confession anyway for this very reason. I fear the movement to dumb down the church is dumbing down our confessions. We can't all be Charles Hodge or Richard Furman, and we shouldn't, but if the people of the 17th and 18th century could understand the long and expansive explanations of doctrine back then, what exactly is our excuse today? Shouldn't we understand and practice more? Not to do so, strikes me as the mistake the First Century Jews made. They thought that if they kept the Temple going, all would be well. They were legalists, but it was the elite Jews who were highly knowledgeable, not the average person. How far they had fallen from Deut. 6:6-7. Jesus came and found the people dumb as sheep, amazed because he taught as one with authority and understanding, and He rejected their leaders on account of it. Woe to those who would bring this upon us today, whoever they may be, and however honorable a rank they might have. The priesthood of believers means we're all priests. If we say, "Ah well, that's for preachers to talk about," then aren't we just setting up a recipe for a sacerdotal priesthood like they did in Rome? It keeps the people dumb as rocks and sets up the teachers as administrators, not shepherds. I'm glad to know people like you who are faithful and have ears to hear and persevere in teaching our people.

I think we would do well to start teaching classes on doctrine and then assigning a project for the end (and, yes, this is a church class) in which each household writes its own confession of faith, however short or long, with Scripture proofs. If we did discipleship training like we used to on Sunday nights, and if we went back to treating Sunday School like a real school environment, think about how that could revolutionize things.

God Bless,.

Gene M. Bridges

volfan007 said...

did you not say that you had a prayer language? tongues? did you not say that?

i dont appreciate being called a liar.

also, there's wrong with me saying that i would not want dr. mohler to be president of southern. i would not want a five point calvinist who is promoting five point calvinism to be the president of any of our sbc seminaries.

i guess that you would not want me to be the president of southern. thats ok.


Nomad said...

Wow! I'm kinda scared of jumpin' in this test at this point, but I scored a 29 or 30, depending on the day. Sorry, but some of these vary back and forth just a tad.

I've thrown my hat in with everyone except JW's, Mormons, Catholics, and the CBF. (just kidding about the CBF, I think) I have worked with CoE, CoC, AG, and even Methodists to some degree, but I would say that the most difficult folks I have worked with are some really stubborn SBCers who were "right" (as in they thought they couldn't be wrong).

Sometimes, when salvation comes to a people group for the very first time, you don't have to worry about some of this extra-Biblical stuff; you only have to worry about it AFTER the church gets going. Up until then, you gotta concentrate on what the Word says and make darn sure you are really building on a firm foundation.

RKSOKC66 said...

Gene Bridges:

I agree that the 2000 should be seen in the context of the previous BF&Ms (1925 , 1963). Also, as you say, the New Hampshire Confession (1833) serves as a stepping stone in expressing Baptist thought in North America.

I don't know how to respond to what I perceive is your implicit indictment of today's average SBC congregation -- intellectually lazy. The tradeoff is equipping the saints so they have the tools for greater discernment vs. overloading them and turning them away. Any movement which serves to demarcate "intellectual status" must be advanced with care so the benefits are not cancelled (at least partially) by any tendency to establish a "tiered" hierachy in the fellowship based upon academic or intellectual stratification.

volfan007 said...

for his glory and wade,

the sbc tent is big enough. wade, dont go saying what i would say until you have asked me what i would say. quit lying about me. i would agree that the sbc tent is big enough. not for leadership positions, but it's big enough for all sorts of people to be a part of the sbc. and, many have been a part of the sbc who hold to all sorts of positions on a number of issues.

the problem is who do we want leading our sbc? the tent gets much smaller to me when we come to that question.

i guess that wade wants to exclude people who are fundamentalists. do you, wade?


RKSOKC66 said...

Craig from GA:

I am absolutely shocked that churches would break up and/or staff would be "pushed out the door" over Calvanism. I guess that shows how disconnected with reality I am.

I can't imagine people getting that worked up over a system some guy in Holland-Switzerland came up in with in 16th century.

What would be the typical of the type of actual conflicts that would arise in today's church setting that would serve as flash points between Calvinists and non-Calvinists?

Obviously, a lot of people take Calvinism (either pro or con) WAY more seriously that I do. said...


I do not have the gift of tongues, have never spoken in tongues and do not seek the gift. All you have to do is read my blog to know that fact.

I am sorry your feelings are hurt, but to say I am a tongues speaker is either a deliberate or unintentional misrepresentation of me.

The SBC is big enough for Fundamentatlists, absolutely, but somebody has to have guts enough to stand up to those Fundamentalists who wish to exclude conservative, evangelical Southern Baptists who disagree over the non-essentials.

I am hoping you will become a Fundamentalist who quits saying to those who disagree with you, "Go start another denomination."

We already have one --- the SBC.

Bryan Riley said...

First, I think it is sad that personal attacks are being made here, and I, because of my battle with pride, would have had a hard time being as gracious as the response that was made.

Second, we had a glorious worship celebration this morning and the joy of Tanner being presented as a candidate for baptism was beyond overwhelming. He will be baptized on September 10th. If anyone is in FAyetteville, AR that weekend, you are welcome to come. :)

The Fletcher Family said...

Thank you Gene for sharing your gift with me...again.

Pastor Wade. I appreciate you and read your blog often. After reading my comments below, I have doubts about your willingness in posting them and would understand if you decide against it. However, I think it might be useful as I read comments from several first timers and perhaps even first time readers. I do not write this with joy even though the truth of it is penetrating to me.

My experience in blog reading with only a very rare comment splashed in has revealed an all too evident truth about volfan. That is that if a post is made about the potential size of an SBC tent of inclusion, he will comment that "...the SBC has FIVE POINTERS in leadership and something must be done or else the entire..." and if a post is made about the appropriate level of acceptance of alcohol consumption, he will comment that " where in the bible can FIVE POINTERS point to will ever..." and if you post on how and why the sky looks blue when in reality it is black, he will comment with "...leave it to a FIVE POINTER to ask if...". You see the trend, I trust. I am convinced that he is also determined that all of his comments be within earshot of his professor (BR) so that he might obtain a good grade in his class by agreeing with him completely and incessantly. This is made evident on his professors blog.

Therefore, please note for your edification (by not being stirred to anger by his intentionally disrupting comments) that he has a reputation of infecting blogs with strife and he is worthy of being ignored when matters of a greater good are being discussed such as here. I am not comfortable with the fact that I am somewhat at ease questioning his heart, and unfortunatly my concern for him and his attitude runs much deeper than that...even penetrating matters regarding his spiritual well being.

Of course, he will deny all of this as anyone would...whether it's true or not. Pray for him and me.

I scored a 30. I'm left wondering if my service as a missionary with the IMB is driving this score up. It causes me wonder about what I might have scored 5 years ago? International missions is a strange "phenomenon" in more ways than I think.

Dull Iron

RKSOKC66 said...

Dull Iron:

I am shocked to discover that there are a lot of people in the SBC that are self-consciously Calvinist (or anti-Calvinist).

For about nine months my wife and I attended the Church of the Chimes in San Jose CA. It is a church associated with the Reformed Church in America. We were not members.

Other that the fact that they practiced infant Baptism you would probably never know they were not a Baptist church by just attending the services. They didn't mention "Calvin" or "5 points" (or any other number of points) during the sermon. The music style was the "same" as most Baptist churchs. The pastor didn't wear a robe.

There was occasional reference to some of the creeds of the church such as the Belgic Confession, the Heidelberg Confession, etc.

During the time that we were there they had a 12 week class on Reformed Theology. The textbook was "Christian Doctrine" by Guthrie a prof from Columbia Theological Seminary.

Some key items from that class:

The creeds are subordinate to the Bible. Guthrie (page 29) " . . . Christians who want only to defend the church's past and present decisions contribute to the idolatrous substitute of the church's word [creeds] for the Word of God. . ."

Without going into mind numbing detail Guthrie says, "we need to take a look at the difference between traditional Calvinistic and the biblical understanding of predestination. . . " (page 137). My point is that Calvinism is just a system that even reformed churches don't just accept blindly. A key aspect of reformed theology is "Reformed and Always being Reformed" (page 17).

My point is that it must evidently be the case that in some SBC churches people are really more into rigid Calvinism -- and using it as a defining yardstick -- than churches that are supposedly "Calvinistic" and cooperating congregations in the Reformed Chruch in America.

What a tragedy that people in the SBC are "taking sides" over Calvinism and using some theological system as a pretense for bickering and splits.

I think the Patterson / Mohler non-debate is modelling how people with differing view on Calvinism can cooperate.

Why is it that Baptists seem to have a spirit of discord and theological one-up-manship wired into their DNA?

Jason Robertson said...

Gene, thank you for taking the time to respond to this post and these comments. I agree completely with your insights. Your discernment and commitment to doctrinal intergrity is vital to our evangelism.

Furthermore, your graciousness and Christlike-ness shine forth even in the realm of blogs -- and that can be hard to do sometimes! So I commend you and am thankful you are on our side.

Concerning the test, well lets just say that I disagree that these are all 3rd tier issues.

foxofbama said...

David: Seems to me like you could edit out the offending phrase instead of blunderbusting the whole post.
That phrase in regard an agency head is the sustantiated conclusion of Randall Balmer, American Religion chair at Columbia University. His book was the subject of a weeklong discussion last week at the blog
Your world is a little insular, the promise of the High NoonEnid luncheon is shortlived indeed if you cannot engage the assertions of a major figure in academic Christendom as Balmer.
And in radical surgery on my post, you censored my personal history and olive branch to leading fundamentalists in the Alabama Baptist Convention.
And oh, here is a fun one, about Billy GRaham and Kirby Godsey.

volfan007 said...


i apologize for saying that you speak in tongues..prayer language. i thought you said that you did. i guess i was thinking of the way you defend those who do have a prayer language ...that they should be allowed to be in leadership positions in the sbc. but, i was wrong. i am sorry.

i dont see the posts anymore where you put words in my mouth. where you told that fella things that i did not say. nor do i see an apology for it. also, i was not lying about you. i just remembered wrong. sorry. i guess you never do that, and have never done that. you were very quick to call me a liar.

listen, as a fundamentalist, conservative, bible believing, southern baptist christian....i have always loved people who didnt believe as i do. i use john mcarthurs commentaries to study on my well as dr. j. vernon mcgee and dr. ironside. i have friends who are five pointers...good friends. i have friends who are charismatics. i have friends who believe in drinking alcohol. they are truly my friends.

i could worship in a rockin, comtemporary service as well as in a traditional service. i prefer a blended service...but, that's just my preference.

i still would not want a five pointer to be the pastor of my church, and i still would not want a five pointer to lead a seminary, nor the imb, nor the namb. i just would not. now, if they want to be a part of the sbc ....fine. i will love them and call them brothers in Christ. but, i dont think that people who are to the extreme in theology(charismatics, five point calvinists, etc.) should be in leadership positions.

call me a meany. call me narrow minded. call me a bigot. call me not pc. call me whatever you want to. but, we(sbc) dont need to go off the deep end.


ps. this will probably be my last comment in here. all i see in here is whining and complaining and griping and argueing. i dont that it benefits my spiritual life at all. in fact, the devil just uses it to try to drag me down. so, i will leave you all with the argueing and the malcontent. bye....God bless you all.

The Fletcher Family said...

Let's start a list! We'll call it "The Good...Just Not Quite Good Enough" list. This will be a list of "extremist theologians" from any point in history that are "off the deep end" on their theology and "should not be allowed in positions of leadership"...shall we? I'll start with just 5 so as to leave some for you all.


Brief reality check...can you imagine one of these names on the SBC Presidential ballot next to....oh...I don't know...for example let's just about Ergun Caner...and the person on this list comes in second? Can't see it.

Take this post lightly gentlemen. I'm just a little giddy since volfan has bid farewell. I'm having all sorts of silly thoughts like my wife and I going to visit a church last century and that Spurgeon guy was preaching...and he was just awful! Last time we go there and if he runs for SBC president he'll be one vote down after I cast my parchment paper.

Also note it is 2:30 am in my part of the world right now. That may clear up the haze hovering over my post.

I scored a 28 the second time.

Dull Iron

ps Roger - I'm not intentionally ignoring your comment...well, I guess I am. But only because I don't understand it in reference to my post before it. Sincerely. This is the only question I find in it..."Why is it that Baptists seem to have a spirit of discord and theological one-up-manship wired into their DNA?". I'm not sure I understand it, or why you asked me. I'm also not sure I am even qualified to answer it. Perhaps you meant it for Gene.

Sic 'em Fido.

Scott Hill said...

Bryan Riley said I just don't see Jesus hitting people over the head with fine points of doctrine. Instead, he provided for their needs and lived a life of sacrifice.

Bryan Christ spent countless hours teaching his disciples doctrine, and he also spent a lot of time giving doctrine to the Pharisees. The Gospels are full of Christ teaching the finer points of doctrine. Try the sermon on the mount, all of His parables, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. I am sure you will find a few in there.

Ray said...

I scored a 29. I guess no sbc leadership for me.

RKSOKC66 said...

Dull Iron:

Sorry, I should NOT have addressed my comment to you but everyone weighing in on Calvinism and taking some type of polarizing position on it.

Please accept my apology!

My comment should have been addressed to the commentors more generally.

I'm not trying to pour gasoline on an open flame; I just can't see how Christians would get so worked up over this stuff that they would split.

I think Dr. Page is seeking a warm spirit of cooperation. People holding to hard line positions on secondary stuff is out of sync with this spirit of cooperation.

I am perplexed when I see comments on here (such as from Craig from GA) that report that Baptists are "hard wired" such that splits on Calvinism and other "minor" issues are not only inevitable they are already happening.

Good grief!

K. S. Holmes said...


I scored a 28 but find that the "definition" for that score is probably a little strong. I'm going to defend my conviction regardless of whether I think the issue is a 1,2, or 3. That doesn't mean I will dislike, hate, reject, slander, or assassinate someone who disagrees. We should all be principled people of conviction. The ones who have no convictions and believe something simple "because they are baptist" are as much a part of the problem as the mean-spirited controllers.

By the way, I suspect that if this system were instituted, the arguments would soon (Like in the very next motion for vote) become where some particular issue falls in the scale.

Interesting idea though. Great comments.