The influx of Calvinism into our local churches continues to cause division. Here is a portion of one person's email to me after reading my booklet, "Differences Between Reformed Southern Baptists and Traditional Southern Baptist."
My husband and I have been a member of a small Southern Baptist church for 25 years. My husband was raised in the community where the church is and attended the church as a child. It was not until after we married and moved near the church that he was saved became a Sunday School teacher and Deacon.Do you hear this dear Christian's anguish? Do you hear the cry of the unsuspecting church member who is being run over theologically and personally by Calvinists? This is where the rubber meets the road. This is no longer a theological debate. This is damaging the local church. Do you care enough to help stop it?
I was saved at age 8. I am 64 years old. My father was ordained a Deacon in our church when I was four years old. I was raised in a Godly home by loving parents.
Seven years ago our church called a pastor to serve. The search committee seemed exhausted when they called him and the chair made the statement "I hope we have done the right thing."
We embraced the pastor and his family. Our family tried often to get to know our new pastor, but, he was not easy to know and his wife was even more difficult. They were kind and sweet but not the type pastor and wife we had known in the before. They did visit the sick (only when asked to do so), they did not check on the congregation, etc. In fact, it seems we made him a little nervous. He is most comfortable in his study on his computer. In fact, we have learned he has recently written a book on Calvinism while we are paying him a salary to serve our church.
At first we noticed he didn't offer altar calls. Later, when the deacon body asked if we could have a revival he said, "he did not believe in revivals as revivals started within a congregation." We have not had one in several years. He never has asked but one person to fill the pulpit in his absence except for a few people who have joined the church since he became pastor.
Then, we learned he is of the Calvinist belief. I am so sorry to say I was 60+ years old, had been raised in a large Southern Baptist Church and did not know who John Calvin was nor what Calvinism embraced. I started studying everything I could get my hands on. I asked the pastor for help. He gave me scriptures. I told him I did not agree with his theology. Big mistake.
The deacons have visited with him about his beliefs. Most of the deacons do not agree with what has become arrogance. However, there are three men who have joined the church since he became pastor who embrace his beliefs.
I am very, very worried about our church. I fear we are headed for a very ugly split. I do not think this is the will of God. I visited with the Chairman of the Deacons (who by the way is a new member of the church and is a sweet man and a Calvinist) and told him that had our pastor been up front with us during his interview we would not be in this situation. It seemed to go over his head. He asked me if I believed the Word of God.
I just want to thank you for writing the booklet which I found on my Kindle today. I am deeply troubled over what you described in the booklet and how it has happened in our church.
Now to my question. Now that we are IN this situation. How can we, in a God pleasing way, endure and how can we, while holding on to our beliefs we have had for 140 years, continue without a horrible church split. I can love him, I can sit through his boring sermons that are never "fleshed out" but I cannot live through his arrogance. It was not that way in the beginning. It seems now he wants to make our church into a Reformed church. I do not find that Godly. And, I seek help in understanding how to get through this most difficult time. My husband has tried to talk to him, and other long time church leaders have tried as well. He uses words we do not understand and we leave more frustrated that ever. Where do we find help?