Choosing to Hate?- Blog Post on Reactions against Calvinism in the SBC

June 30, 2009

Despite great encouragement, great ignorance was also shown at the SBC Annual Meeting (and in the most inappropriate of places may I add).  Though I do not have the actual statement, here is a clip of the prepared manuscript of what I’m talking about, which in reality is even less offensive than what was actually said:

The Southern Baptist Convention is experiencing a resurgence in the belief that divine sovereignty alone is at work in salvation without a faith response on the part of man.

Some are given to explain away the “whosoever will” of John 3:16. How can a Christian come to such a place when Ephesians says, “For by grace are you saved through faith” (Eph. 2:8)? I do not rise to become argumentative, or to change minds already convinced of one perspective or the other. But I do rise to state the obvious. Man is often tempted to design a theological theory in light of a biblical antinomy in order to clarify what God is trying to say.

Man’s system will be inferior to God’s system now and forever. Why is it so difficult to accept from God what we cannot fully explain? After all, He didn’t begin to tell us everything He knows, but what we need to know to be redeemed and live righteously. The belief that sovereignty alone is at work in salvation is not what has emboldened our witness and elevated our concern for evangelism and missions through the ages. This is not the doctrine that Southern Baptists have embraced in their desire to reach the world for Christ.

If there is any doctrine of grace that drives men to argue and debate more than it drives them to pursue lost souls and persuade ALL MEN to be reconciled to God – then it is no doctrine of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Morris Chapman, EC Report)

This unfortuante rambling during what was supposed to be a simply (and boring) report made me wonder.  Even though there is much good and fair play coming across the aisles between SBC Calvinists and non-Calvinists, there still remains a sizeable and vocal number of people who don’t know the Doctrines of Grace from a bottle of Jack Daniels and yet want to rant about how dangerous it is to evangelism, churches, and even families.  Therefore, I posted an article over at SBC Voices asking the question: why are there still seeds of animosity towards Calvinism in many corners of the SBC?

If you have any insight or just want to see what people are saying in response to this, please click on over and check it out.  the post is entitled, “Calvinism: The New Racism in the SBC?

A Different Kind of Rock Star- Mike Huckabee and SBC Hypocrisy

June 29, 2009

Around here we like John Piper and Mark Driscoll, Acts 29 and T4G, Matt Chandler and JD Greear, the Gospel Coalition and 9Marks.  Many are on-board with this.  But others would criticize it, saying all that these things represent are the new rock star breed of Christianity.  That’s their prerogative to say, but as for me, I know that what I witnessed one week ago at the SBC Pastor’s Conference (SBCPC) when Mike Huckabee took the stage (I shiver to say pulpit) was nothing more than their own breed of rock star worship.

Huckabee rose to prowess during his failed attempt at the Republican Presidential nod last year, and from the word “Go” he wore his Southern Baptist credentials high.  For many people this was enough to garner their vote, but I never really bought in.  Aside from standing more firmly on his religious beliefs than other former governors of Arkansas and a ludicrous tax plan, Huckabee showed little political difference from his slick predecessor from across the aisle.  Still, watching him as a speaker at the SBCPC I was willing to forget my political concerns and listen simply as a fellow brother in Christ.  Unfortunately, by the end of his speech, a flat tax was the least of my worries.

People swarmed the room to watch Huckabee’s half-hour amalgamation of theology, morality, and politics.  I’ve seen Driscoll speak several times, and never has he his appearance created such a buzz.  To be fair, Huckabee made several good theological insights, but honestly, this made the whole thing that much more disappointing.  For someone who apparently knows the Bible well, he  demonstrated a horrific ability to connect it with the reality of Christian living.

His main message was, “We need to recognize that real leadership does not bring power to ourselves but brings power to those we serve.”  Uh, okay.  Now, move to application.  How do we do this?  Among the apparent answers offered by the Huckster were “to live by the Golden Rule,” “to have higher personal morality and personal responsibility,” to end abortion, and to comprehend that “our relationship with [political] Israel is organic and not just organizational.”  Whoop-dee-doo!  I mean, really?  If “the role of leadership is to empower people to stand before God as righteous, responsible people” (which I do not agree that it is), how does throwing a bunch of moralism and pep-rally jazz at an audience accomplish this?

But you know what?  People ate it up.  Standing ovations.  An amen corner.  If Jesus had come back at that moment, I honestly believe a lot of people in the room would have been disappointed.  And for what?  A bunch of non-biblical moralistic therapeutic deism?

Maybe Piper and Driscoll and Keller and Mahaney are rock stars.  Maybe people like myself focus on them too much.  Regardless, at the end of the day, I can fall back on the fact that these men, as over-hyped as they might sometimes be, are at least pouring out a true, deep biblical theology to the screaming masses, which is plenty more than I can say about the “acceptable” rock star worship I witnessed that afternoon in Louisville!

Sunday Devotion- Psalm 13.1 and Resting on the Lord

June 28, 2009

How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from m
e?” -Psalm 13.1

Would it be in us to pray this anymore?  Up against the thought that God had abandoned us forever, would we think to pray anyways?  Our culture celebrates self-sufficiency, autonomy, ‘pulling yourself up by your bootstraps’, but this is not where Scripture takes us.  Our hope is only in the Lord and coming to him in humble request is the only way we are given to overcome whatever ails us– even if it seems like he’s not there.  As James tells us, “the prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working” (5.16b).

How should we then take this?  How much is faith and how much is action?  We must not attempt to replace the power of God working through prayer, but we also must not be completely passive.  How do we discern the boundary here?  Where is the line at which we are depending too much upon human strength and not enough upon divine power?  No matter where we decide that it is, and I believe it will be different for different people and different situations, we best not forget that in all circumstances, “[God's] grace is sufficient for [us]” (2 Corinthians 12.9b).

Resource Saturday- SBC Annual Meeting Wrap-Up

June 27, 2009

Here is a wrap of several messages and communications from this weeks SBC Annual Meeting in Louisville.

Twitter stuff

Personal Audio Recordings

Understanding Election as Comfort- A Testimony on Election and Adoption

June 25, 2009

There is probably no more maligned doctrine in the soteriological system known as Calvinism than that which the Bible refers to as election.  This surely was attested to every time someone attempted to speak against Calvinism at the SBC Annual Meeting earlier this week.

However, as I have said many times before, I find Election to be among the most glorious blessings we have received from God as believers.  Today, I wish to give you a few verses and then cast them in light of a personal story in order to make this blessing clear.  Here are three passages with the parts I wish to emphasize in bold:

Ephesians 1.3-6, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.”

John 1.12-13, “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.”

James 1.18, “Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.”

Many of you are probably unaware that my daughter was born to me when I was just 15 years old.  There are many wonderful stories of God’s goodness surrounding this fact that I have tried to share in my testimony series, but today I want to focus on one in particular.

From the beginning I raised my daughter as a single parent, knowing that her biological mother was not fit to be the mother that she needed growing up.  Thus, I knew that along with finding a spouse who completed me as a person I would also need to find a woman who was prepared to be a mother as soon as she became a wife.

By the plan of God I found such a woman while in college and after a year and a half of dating we got married.  Then, once married, one of the first things she did was to file for formal adoption of our daughter, making her from top to bottom the legally recognized mother of our little girl.  Our daughter, already being five at that time, understood pretty well all that was going on, and fully embraced my wife as her mommy.

Today, the two of them still talk about the adoption, and the way in which they do brings much joy to our little girl’s heart.  They discuss how my wife knew that being in love with me was not enough, but to truly be able to choose me as a spouse she also needed to be willing to choose my daughter as a child.  This she did, and much in the way she married me, she adopted our daughter.  She saw her and loved her and chose her to be her daughter by adoption.

Our daughter never forgets this.  She cherishes the fact that her mommy chose her.  Similarly we as believers should cherish the fact that God chose us!  God saw us “before the foundation of the world” and through his great love, not dependent upon anything we acted on our own, he adopted us as sons and daughters, to receive full standing beside Christ in the line of his promised inheritance.  That is election and that is a doctrine that we can lift up for the love of God that it so clearly puts on display!

Reflections on #SBC2009- Personal and Others

June 24, 2009

This year, for the first time in my 8 years as a Southern Baptist, I attended the SBC Annual Meeting.  It was convenient enough seeing as how the meeting was held in Louisville, KY and I just happened to be in the area making plans for our move  there in a month, but regardless I think I would have wanted to be there.  And boy was I not disappointed.  I really had a great time. From rubbing shoulders with Baptist icons to witnessing lowly pew-sitters become the object of collective scorn and/or praise upon making a motion to reconnecting with old friends from college ministry, it was certainly an unforgettable experience.

However, if you missed it, you’re in luck, because more than ever you can relive the events of the event through the eyes of those of us arrogant enough to blog about it.  I captured my own thoughts on the first business day of the convention in an article entitled “Celebration from Chaos.”  Other viewpoints can be found collected together at SBC Voices, for your viewing pleasure.

After you read these and get all depressed about what you missed, just think about this: in roughly 350 days you can be a part of it yourself in sunny Orlando, FL.  Heck, maybe Mark Driscoll will even be there!

To Dwell in The Temple Forever- A Devotion on Psalm 27.4

June 22, 2009

(Note: I am currently attending the SBC meeting in Louisville Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday and will not be making as regular posts as normal until it is over.  However, when I return there will be several days commentary on the convention and all of the outside events which I will be attending during the week.  Please stay tuned.)

One thing have I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to inquire in his temple. ” (Psalm 27.4)

These words sound so beautiful when put in a song (i.e. Better is One Day), and earnestly we will sing them on a Sunday morning at church, but when it comes down to it, have we not forsaken this idea altogether?  Does anyone ponder the goal of the Christian life anymore?  If they do, do they do so with the Scripture in front of them?  What is our endgame?  Where do we see ourselves when this is all over?

God’s promise to us, delivered by Jesus to John, is that “the dwelling place of God [will be] with man [and] he will dwell with [us], and [we] will be his people, and God himself will be with [us] as [our ] God” (Revelation 21.3).  Does anybody want this anymore?  Clearly David did in Psalms 23 and 27.  We sound like we do in hymns and prayer.  But do we really? 

It is important that we regain this desire to meditate in the presence of God once more, to gaze upon his beauty.  This is where we’re headed.  I pray that we’re not too sorely disappointed when we get there.

Resource Saturday- Advance’09 and Resolved Audio

June 20, 2009

In the past two weeks thousands of Christians have been blessed by two incredible conferences put on on two different costs, all singing praise to one holy God.  But for those of us unlucky enough to have had to stay home, we missed out.


Thanks to the wonders of technology and the belief that resources for building up the body of Christ should be as available to the church as possible (hmmm . . . *cough*J316C *cough*), both conferences, Advance ’09 from Raleigh, NC and Resolved 2009 from Palm Springs, CA, have made every sermon available to us online.

Advance ’09

A conference about the power of God’s gift to his people- the Church!; featuring John Piper, Mark Driscoll, Matt Chandler, Ed Stetzer, Eric Mason, Bryan Chapell, Danny Akin, J.D. Greear, and Tyler Jones.

Sermons available here

Resolved 2009

Resolved 2009 will focus on sin. What is sin? How bad is it? Where did it come from? How can I be saved from it and its consequences? Is it possible to stop? Our 5th Resolved Conference will explore these questions and provide biblical answers; featuring John MacArthur, John Piper, C.J. Mahaney, Rick Holland, Steve Lawson, and special guest Mark Driscoll (just kidding!)

Sermons available here


Election Empowers Evangelism- Mark Dever on God’s Sovereignty and Soul-Winning

June 19, 2009

I love unconditional election.  I love evangelism.  At this point, I have now confused about 80% of Southern Baptists.  Thanks to the years of ignorance taught through sermons by revered Southern Baptist leaders most of the SBC pew sitters only know of election (no need of calling it unconditional since conditional election is clearly not what Scripture teaches) as ‘that doctrine that says we can’t do anything.’  Honestly, I have trouble finding Southern Baptist’s who both (1) disagree with election, and (2) know what the doctrine of unconditional election says in accord with the whole of Calvinist soteriology– and that is a problem.  (Note: see here for Grudem’s handling of the misunderstandings.)

With this in mind, I want to turn to a quote from Mark Dever in his excellent book The Gospel & Personal Evangelism to deal with the question, Are a zeal for election and a zeal for evangelism mutually exclusive?

Have you heard it said that the doctrine of God’s choosing some for salvation (the doctrine of election) undercuts evangelism?  It didn’t in Paul’s life.  As he . . . wrote to Timothy, “I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ jesus, with eternal glory” (2 Tim. 2.10).  Romans 10 contains Paul’s clearest and most impassioned plea for Christians to send out people to preach the gospel because it is the only way people are saved; but this impassioned plea comes after what many consider Paul’s plainest teaching about the doctrine of election in Romans 9.  He didn’t see any inconsistency that a sovereign God is also a saving God.

Somehow, Paul found the doctrine of God’s sovereignty an encouragement in his evangelism.  Do we need to recover this confidence in a day of increasing opposition to the public preaching of the gospel?  I think we do.  I fear that much of today’s evangelism will soon end.  As evangelism becomes more and more unpopular, I fear that some Christians will simply dilute it, water it down, alter it, or even stop sharing the good news altogether.  I think a better understanding of the Bible’s teaching on God’s election would help them.  I think it would give them confidence and joy in their evangelism. (pp.104-105)

Interesting.  He calls the doctrine of election a thing which can give “confidence” to our evangelism.  What could that ever mean?  Well, elsewhere Dever notes how when Paul was in Corinth, he became so frustrated in his gospel preaching with some who “opposed and reviled him” to the point that he “shook out his garments” and left them (Acts 18.6).  However, that night the Lord came to Paul in a dream and said to him,

Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent, for I am with you, and no one will attack you to harm you, for I have many in this city who are my people” (vv.9-10)

This in turn encouraged Paul and empowered him to spend the next 18 months sharing the gospel message with the Corinthians (v.11).

Yep, the knowledge that God had elected “many in [Corinth as his] people” really sent Paul packing didn’t it?  He just threw up his hands and said, “Well, if God’s chosen them then there’s no need for me to preach,” didn’t he?  No!  This charged him.  He knew that God had chosen people to be saved and that he would be faithful to save them through the preaching of his word.  Paul understood that this meant, regardless of the opposition, God had fruit that he was going to bring forth.

In fact, without an understanding of election, there is no confidence!  If it’s all on you then there is no hope that your preaching is not in vain.  How could there be?  If God cannot awaken men’s hearts to repentance and faith, if it is solely up to them to choose faith in Christ, then nothing is guaranteed and all of your labor in the fields of evangelism might be useless.  It is only this promise that God already “[has] many . . . who are [his] people” and that he is powerful enough to “[cause them] to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Peter 1.3) that we can have any hope whatsoever in our evangelism!

John 3.16 Recovered!- John Piper Preaches the Glory in a Much Abused Text

June 18, 2009

We all know it: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”  This is probably even the first Bible verse most of us learned (it was for me, I memorized it off of a pencil from the Christian bookstore).  And it is a great verse.  But is it all it’s cracked up to be?

Last year a group of raging Southern Baptists used this verse as a bludgeon to attack Calvinism as if it were an R-rated movie or a half-empty bottle of Jack Daniels.  They preached John 3.16 as a defense against the doctrines of grace, saying that the claims of this verse and the claims of 5-point Refromed soteriology could not be any further apart.

In light of that, there was much anticipation (at least in my heart) for the day when the well-known Calvinist John Piper, in what is sure to be a decade long exegesis of the Gospel of John, finally arrived at this verse.  This he did recently, spending two weeks on it, and boy did he not disappoint.

The first week was just a going through of the terms used in John 3.16.  God.  The world.  Gave.  Son.  Believe.  Perish.  Life.  And in doing this he did not sound all that different than his non-Calvinist (Arminian?) counter-parts, even agreeing that ‘the world’ refers to all of fallen humanity and not just the elect.

Oh, but then, then there is the one word he left out.  Love!  This was week two and this is where he recovered the glory of this passage from its prooftexting idolaters.   I will not go into what he said, I encourage you to just listen for yourself, but here is his main thrust: “Those who believe, God wants you to know his love beyond simply the love spoken of in John 3.16!”

Just listen to it.  You’ll be glad you did.

John Piper- God So Loved the World, Part 1

John Piper- God So Loved the World, Part 2