Monday, August 20, 2012

"looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus

Christ." Titus 2:13

One of the best ways to get rid of discouragement is to remember that Christ is coming

again. The most thrilling, glorious truth in all the world is the second coming of Jesus Christ.

When we look about today and see pessimism on every side, we should remember the

Bible is the only book in the world that predicts the future. The Bible is more modern than

tomorrow morning's newspaper. The Bible accurately foretells the future, and it says that the

consummation of all things shall be the coming again of Jesus Christ to this earth. If your life

is dismal, depressed, and gloomy today, Christ can turn those dark clouds inside out. The

sunlight of His love can still shine into the darkest part of your life. Billy Graham

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The Sinner

"No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you will be able to bear it." 1 Corinthians 10:13

I stand a few feet from a mirror and see the face of a man who failed,...who failed his Maker. Again. I promised I wouldn't, but I did. I was quiet when I should have been bold. I took a seat when I should have taken a stand. If this was the first time, it would be different. But it isn't. How many times can one fall and expect to get caught? Your eyes look in the mirror and see a sinner, a failure, a promise-breaker. But by faith you look in the mirror and see a robed prodigal bearing the ring of grace on your finger and the kiss of your Father on your face. Your eyes see your faults. Your faith sees your Savior. Your eyes see your guilt. Your faith sees His blood. Max Lucado

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The Correct Answer

"I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions for My own sake; and I will not remember your sins." Isaiah 43:25

You stand before the throne of God. The brilliance of His majesty is too bright for you to gaze upon. His holiness emanates as the heat of a thousand suns. You turn your head and shade your face with your hand. a clap of thunder, His voice rides upon the wind of a million souls and asks "Why should I let you into my kingdom?" What will you say? Will you tell Him that you never killed anyone? Will you tell Him that you prayed from time to time? Will you tell Him of the Sunday school classes and the Bible Studies you've taught? There is only one correct answer. You reply with confident humility, "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life." His reply, soft as the breath of the morning dew, falls upon your ear, "Come, you blessed of God, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world." (Matt. 25:34)

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

We Are Baptists

Recently there have been discussions about who Southern Baptists are theologically. Some say we are Calvinists. Some say we are Arminian. Others have offered the term "Modified Arminian," for those of us who call ourselves Traditional Baptists. I am perplexed as to why people think Baptists need to be identified with a theological system.

To me, the people who insist we be identified either Calvinist or Arminian cannot get their heads wrapped around the fact that we believe that God will not be explained or contained in any of man's systems. While man attempts to put God in an Arminian box or a Calvinist box, He doesn't fit into either one. To me, this effort to define God in a format in which men can control is unwise. "Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!" Rom. 11:33.

I believe it's a dangerous thing to go beyond what the Bible says. The Bible tells us we are sinners. The Bible says by our sin we are separated from God. The Bible says God loves us and has provided the way for us to be forgiven of our sins. The Bible says that Jesus died on the cross to take the punishment for our sins. The Bible says that if we receive Christ, He gives us the right to become children of God. The Bible tells us that Jesus rose from the grave. The Bible tells us that Jesus ascended to Heaven. The Bible tells us that Jesus will return to set up His kingdom.  

The Bible does not tell us the complete details of the salvation process. The Bible does not tell us when Jesus is going to return. The Bible does not give us complete details about how Jesus will return. These things and many others are not detailed in Holy Scripture. There is a mystery to these things. Can we not accept the mystery of God without trying to systematize every aspect of God?

I think this is one reason why Calvinists and Arminians get so frustrated with Traditional Baptists. We are not Calvinist, Arminian, or Modified anything. We do not proclaim a system. We proclaim the Bible and the Bible won't fit into anybody's system. We are Baptists.

Friday, August 3, 2012

What is a Calvinist?

What is a Calvinist? This is a question someone asked me the other day and I wasn't sure how to answer him.

We know that Calvinists hold to the TULIP acronym to describe their beliefs, but how many points does one need to agree with to be a true Calvinist? If one agrees with three points of TULIP, are they a Calvinist? How about four? Must one agree with all five points to be a true Calvinist?

I laughed when a student who was in a class with me at SWBTS said that all baptists are "whiskey" Calvinists. They believe in one-fifth of TULIP. :)

So what do you say? How many points of TULIP must one believe before he or she is a Calvinist?

Clarification of My Op-Ed

The op-ed I wrote for the Biblical Recorder has received much discussion from both the traditional and Calvinist side. To me, this is a discussion we need to have and I forsee the result to be positive for all concerned.

I do want to clear up a misunderstanding in regards to the column. Although I said that Southern and Southeastern seminaries are graduating a lot of Calvinists, I did not say they were part of a Calvinist agenda to reform SBC churches, nor do I believe they are intentionally involved in the reform agenda.

What I did say was that Ernest Reisinger was the architect of the Calvinist agenda to reform SBC churches. Ernest Reisinger was the founder of Founder ministries. In his book, entitled "The Quiet Revolution," Reisinger stated his intention to help reform local SBC churches. According to the Reformed Reader's review of this book, the reviewer wrote,

For seventeen years the Founders Conference has earned some credibility by operating within the parameters of the above statements as to purpose, goal and motive; this statement was put in black and white in Euless, TX on Nov. 13, 1982 and the Founders have not deviated from it. There has been no hidden agenda, no formal organization, nothing to join and no denominational politics. The purpose, which is to encourage pastors and churches to return to the doctrinal foundation of our first seminary as well as most of our Southern Baptist fathers, including Basil Manly and the first three presidents of the convention, has always been right up front for all these years.
Founders has been around for more than 25 years now and their agenda remains the same. As the reviewer has said their agenda is not a hidden agenda and never has been.

Thus, is there a Calvinist agenda to reform SBC churches? Yes. The Founders ministry has stated their purpose in these regards and continues to pursue them.

Once again, the reform agenda is a Founders agenda, not an agenda of any seminary. If there was misunderstanding of this in my op-ed then the responsibility is mine.

Hopefully, this explains more clearly my concern for local SBC churches.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The Gospel Project: Calvinist Indoctrination?

The new curriculum which Lifeway is pushing hard for local churches to use is entitled, "The Gospel Project." The title sounds like something every church would want to study, however, there are problems with this curriculum. for Traditional baptist churches. Many authors associated with this project are ardent Calvinists.

One SBC pastor examined the Gospel Project curriculum and decided that it wasn't for his church.

We found it to be biased in how it explains and interprets the study themes. There are numerous subtle seeds of the Calvinistic approach to Scripture and many that are overtly obvious. The more we read and studied the curriculum, the more convinced we have become convinced that this curriculum is not suitable for use here at Calvary. I am greatly disappointed because there is nothing wrong with healthy dialogue and wrestling with theological issues. But when a curriculum is designed to teach only one side of the issue, it is no longer a healthy debate but indoctrination; and we cannot allow that indoctrination to take place here at Calvary.

I understand that Lifeway is a stand-alone entity of the Southern Baptist Convention. They do not
receive any Cooperative Program funding and so they are left to support the entity without direct
SBC support. I also understand that Calvinists buy a lot of books. Perhaps, Lifeway is trying to
tap the Calvinist market to increase revenue. Although I don't agree with that approach, it is not
up to me to determine their business case. However, as a Pastor of a local church, I can decide
what curriculum to use.

If your church wishes to use Calvinist material such as the Gospel Project, then by all means, do so. However, unsuspecting churches who have trusted that Lifeway would produce literature which agrees with their own theology, need to take a look at this material before purchasing it. If you have already purchased this material and you disagree with, you can do as Pastor Green did and return it to Lifeway.

For more details on this topic, I refer you to a couple of blogs:

SBC Issues

Rev. Green's Website

SBC Today