Getting Hot as Hell in Florida for SBC Calvinists

The state executive director-treasurer for the Florida Baptist Convention (FBC) recently sent every pastor in the state a 4-disc collection of CDs by prominent Jacksonville pastor, Dr. Jerry Vines, on “Baptist Battles” with the subtitle, “Liberalism, Calvinism, Pentecostalism, and Libertinism.” Baptist BattlesWhile his message, “Calvinism: A Baptist and His Election,” represents only one of four strategic battles addressed by Vines, it represents serious charges that are jointly endorsed, funded by, and promoted as “helpful” by Dr. John Sullivan, Executive Director- Treasurer and Mr. Eddie L. McClelland, President and CEO of Florida Baptist Financial Services. I have included images of the CDs and the accompanying letter below. You can read Tom Ascol’s 16 October 2006 review of Vines’ sermon on the Founders blog, as well as Ascol’s response to this recent pastor’s mailing.

While Florida has long been one of the most conservative state conventions in the Southern Baptist Convention, a number of high-ranking executives have chosen a anti-Calvinistic stance that grows more virulent as time passes. I ought to know, because I once served on staff with the Florida Baptist Convention as a church planting missionary. I joined the FBC’s church planting department in 1997 as a part-time strategist at the invitation of its former director, George Thomasson, who is now serving at Bell Shoals Baptist Church in Brandon, Florida, and one of the dearest brothers I have ever known. It was a joy and a privilege to work alongside him for six years! He is a man who loves grace and walks with Jesus every day.

After a year, I was asked to join the church planting team on a full-time basis, requiring the approvals of John Sullivan, the State Board of Missions, and the North American Mission Board (NAMB). In my final interview with Dr. Sullivan, he asked me point-blank, “Are you a five-point Calvinist?” I replied positively and he then inquired how it impacted my view of missions and evangelism. I said, without hestitation, “The same way it impacted the missions and evangelism of men like Charles H. Spurpeon, William Carey, Adoniram Judson, Hudson Taylor, and Luther Rice; not to mention some great contemporary examples like John Piper, Albert Mohler, John MacArthur, and W. A. Criswell.” We had a very open and candid conversation about Calvinism, and we reached a gentlemen’s agreement concerning my views: it would not be appropriate to shove Calvinism down anyone’s throat and yet I insisted on complete freedom to explain or discuss my theological convictions with anyone who asked. Sullivan smiled, extended his hand and said, “Well, then welcome aboard!” He later told me during a new employee reception that his theological views were quite close to my own. Calvinism DVD URL

Unfortunately, the spiritual and theological climate has changed in the FBC and the Southern Baptist Convention since my full-time appointment in 1998; and one of the saddest casualties has been the increasing hostilities against my fellow Calvinists in Florida. As things heated up on the national SBC preaching circuit, it brought more pressure to bear within my conservative state convention, especially with high-profile FBC pastors like Jerry Vines and Bobby Welch jumping on the bandwagon.

Any staff position in the FBC is relatively high profile, no matter how lowly your assignment, and it was only a matter of time before I became an embarrassment to denominational executives. I eventually lost my position due to the political savvy of Dr. Cecil Seagle, Director of the Missions Division, who carefully cloaked his theological rage against my Calvinistic views with the timing of fiscal cuts of the post-911 period. Even the International Mission Board suffered financial strains, causing them to reduce their Richmond staff by thirty-five and freeze the deployment of one hundred missionaries. Out of eight positions that were eliminated in those 2003 budget cuts in the FBC, I was the only person occupying one of those positions: the rest were simply vacant and no one else lost their job. Seagle accomplished this deed without any questions being asked as to why a NAMB-funded missionary could be “laid off” and Dr. John Sullivan endorsed his actions.

I believe that Seagle and other anti-Calvinists like Jerry Vines and Thomas A. Kinchen, President of the Baptist College of Florida, have greatly influenced the views of many Florida Baptists over the past five or six years, including John Sullivan. As the old Southern expressions goes, “If you can’t run with the big dogs, you gotta stay on the porch!” When a man, no matter his name or rank or education, decides to participate in denominational politics, then he must often surrender his own convictions if they do not match those of the movers and shakers. While I love and respect John Sullivan’s amazing leadership capabilities and his commitment to conservative evangelical theology, I am saddened that a few recent, irrational actions toward the end of his tenure as the executive director-treasurer will forever taint his otherwise stellar legacy. Here’s a copy of John Sullivan’s letter that accompanied the CD’s mentioned above. [Note: The term "DVD" is either a typo or an oversight by someone's secretary.]

Letter URL

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42 thoughts on “Getting Hot as Hell in Florida for SBC Calvinists”

  1. Wow. Speechless.

    What a good thing that the God who has covenanted himself to us in Jesus is bigger than these games.

  2. The pragmatic approach to growing a church has not only disturbed many but has driven them to search the Scriptures and find truth in the sound scriptural teachings of reformed theology. As you are aware Bill, there is a strong movement especially among the younger generation to embrace the doctrines of grace. This has stirred and aroused the attention of the dark side. Undoubtedly there will be a showdown perhaps in our own Convention in a few years and possibly the emergence of another denomination. This effort by the Florida Baptist leaders is most disturbing and probably a foretaste of much more to come.

  3. I remember when you were cut, brother, and it still bothers me a great deal. Still, I’m grateful that in God’s providence you ended up in Wales.

    This is one of the reasons that many younger pastors/ministers will not remain within the SBC. They have read too much of the Bible and heard too many sermons by Piper, Mohler, et al.

    The Fundamentalists weren’t content to purge the denomination of Liberalism (and perceived Liberalism), so now they are bringing their fight to fellow Inerrantists who are Calvinistic, Charismatic, and/or who believe the Lord Jesus actually turned the water into wine — labeling them as either “Liberals” or “Libertines.” It’s a shame that they are more concerned with being Fundamentalist Baptists than they are with being Christians in the Kingdom.

  4. I noticed the messages were preached “for” FBC Woodstock — Johnny Hunt’s church. Ironic, isn’t it, that CP dollars are being used to send out this propaganda even though these leaders and their churches don’t give high percentages to the CP?

  5. One comment made by Jerry Vines in his attack on the “Historic Doctrines of the Christian Faith” reveals the VITRIOL and “PURE HATRED” he and his fellow Fundamentialists feel toward Southern Baptist Calvinists of the SBC.

    “Calvinism eats the life out of our churches.”

    According to Jerry Vines, Johnny Hunt, and John Sullivan:

    The doctrines taught by Dr. Mohler “eats the life out of our churches.”

    The doctrines taught by Dr. Nettles “eats the life out of our churches.”

    The doctrines taught by James P. Boyce “eats the life out of our churches.”

    The doctrines taught by John a Broadus “eats the life out of our churches.”

    The doctrines taught by Charles Spurgeon “eats the life out of our churches.”

    The doctrines taught by John Piper “eats the life out of our churches.”

    The doctrines taught by Dr. James Kennedy “eats the life out of our churches.”

    The doctrines taught by R.C. Sproul “eats the life out of our churches.”

    Can you imagine the outrage that would come from them if Dr. Mohler or Dr. Nettles or any of these men had made the comment that the teachings of Jerry Vines or Johnny Hunt “eats the life out of our churches.”

    These Fundamentalist would have a stroke! They would be calling for their heads on a pole… and they would get it too…

    This is a direct and deliberate attempt to cause division within the Body of Christ, the SBC, and the Florida Baptist Convention… and as such John Sullivan and those responsible should all be fired!

    Grace to all,

  6. John: I’ve never thought of denominationalists as “the dark side,” but it brings a smile to my face imagining Johnny Hunt in a Darth Vader costume, saying in his strong Southern drawl, “Well, that dawg won’t hunt!”

    James: Looking back on God’s providence, it was one of the best things that have ever happened to me. Doesn’t excuse what happened, but it’s just great being free from the strings of being a denominational “serpent” (as someone once described a slip of the tongue referring to a “denomination servant”).

    Greg: I’m not a Reformed groupie, at least not anymore. Jesus is Lord over Jerry Vines, too; and I just wish these men would be held accountable for their arrogant pontifications.

  7. Some other suggested titles for the follow up DVD series.

    Pride: A Baptist and His Arrogance
    Gluttony: A Baptist and His Twinkie
    Gossip: A Baptist and His Prayer Request
    Manipulation: A Baptist and His Invitation
    Murder: A Baptist and His Slander

  8. Why is there always a battle? Shouldn’t we be fighting Satan and not each other? This kind of mess is why I’m staying out of SBC politics. This brings no glory to God.

  9. Hey Bill,
    When I referred to the “dark side” I was really not thinking of denominatinal folks or any individual. I was implying that when truth surfaces it often countered by those who want to squelch it or subdue it. However, if we go with a Star Wars theme and Johnny is Darth you get my vote for Yoda! Grace to you always and your blessed work.
    John

  10. I’m curious as the accuracy of reporting, from folks who referred to them as “tapes” in one sentence, and “DVD’s” in the next. At that, the disc pictured was a Digital Audio Disc, a-k-a- CD. Which is neither.

    Hmmmm….

  11. Wow indeed!! This explains why when I asked a member of our SBC back home if he was a Calvinist he replied quietly, “Yes, but I don’t advertise it.” This is sad, really sad.

    So what do people like MacArthur, Sproul, and Piper say about these antics?

  12. Dear Bill,

    I appreciate your post and its tone, my brother. What is paradoxical is the tone of the comments. If I may:

    “stirred and aroused the dark side”
    “propaganda”
    ‘the VITRIOL and “PURE HATRED”’
    “direct and deliberate attempt to cause division”
    “arrogant pontifications”

    I doubt sticks and stones could induce any more affliction upon these Brothers in Christ, assuming, of course, nonCalvinists though they are, nevertheless are spiritual kin.

    I too listened to the dreadful sermon where Dr. Vines allegedly spewed “pure hatred” toward Calvinists and reviewed it on my site (Actually, I attempted to balance Dr. Ascol’s not-too-positive critique). Rather strange though; I do not recall it quite like that. Of course, it has been sometime since I listened. Perhaps in my old age, I’m forgetting, I concede.

    In the end, it seems to never fail; my Calvinist brothers, inevitably, in their critiques of we nonCalvinists (I’m sure you guessed me one by now :^), become so engrossed, they conclude by the proverbial pot calling the kettle black. No content, just name-calling.

    I hope you have a grace-filled day in Wales, my Brother Bill. BTW, my son graduated from the UofWales, Lampeter.

    With that, I am…
    Peter

  13. Thanks to Bob Cleveland for pointing out the CD/DVD discrepancy. The images in this blog were actually scanned and sent to me by an SBC church secretary in Florida. So even though John Sullivan’s letter says DVD, they are actually CDs. I’m revising the post to reflect that. Brother John is infamous for his phobia for technology: his idea of a “word processor” is a yellow legal pad and a number two pencil. You gotta love him for the mistake (and his secretary, bless her, just didn’t pick up on the technical inconsistency of her boss)!

  14. In response to what Peter Lumpkin said, I would like to make a couple of observations.

    I am also deeply disturbed by the lack of unity that is revealed in this type of controversy. It has troubled me that we Southern Baptists claim to desire public discussion of spiritual matters, yet we haven’t learned how to talk of them amongst ourselves. The division, however, is not caused by the rhetoric (though sometimes that may be quite unhelpful), but revealed in it.

    Having listened to Jerry Vines’ sermon on Calvinism (which, it should be noted, is lumped in with Liberalism, Pentacostalism and Libertinism!) I am deeply disturbed by the overarching message Dr. Sullivan is sending to all of the pastors in the Florida Baptist Convention. Vines said in his message that one concern he has is that Calvinism causes division; it seems to me that that is exactly what this “gift” to the pastors in the Florida Baptist Convention is designed to achieve.

  15. Dear Ubergoober,

    Thank you for the observations. I receive them. First, may I note that the issues “lumped” together should dilute rather than enhance the charge that Dr. Sullivan was singling out Calvinism. Secondly, division exists. If it did not, this topic would not be taking place nor would our Calvinist brothers in Florida be outraged. Thus the question is not about harmony but about loving our brothers even when divided.

    I concede heated rhetoric sometimes comes from nonCalvinism. I also have been the brunt-end of endless slurs about my alleged “man-centered” salvation vision–which, by the way, I can think of no more frightful, dispicable skewing than to lump someone who believes solely in the God of the Bible in with atheistic, secular humanists–an act of agapeo, I’m sure.

    Or, since my view of total depravity is not “total” enough, I am now a “pelagian-leaning” Baptist. At last count, not only pelagianism but also semi-pelagianism stands as historically condemned heresy. I suppose, by that logic, I am a “heresy-leaning” Baptist.

    As far as I am concerned, people can describe my view as they wish. Be my guest. But it should be noted that Calvinists themselves are not so easily allowed off the hook with the firey rhetoric.

    I trust you all have a great weekend. With that, I am…

    Peter

  16. Peter,
    Your point about the lumping together of the other issues is good and bad: Good because it does show that it is not the only issue out there, but bad because it is clearly put into a category of “things we ought to be against.”

    I also agree with you that differences do exist, but there are appropriate ways and inappropriate ways of addressing them. The gift of Jerry Vines’ CD package (paid for by all of us…whether we agree with the content or not) seems more a backhand than an open hand to those who do not agree with its content.

    At bottom, the issue is not Calvinism vs. Arminianism, but rightly esteeming those who are our brothers (even when divided). I, personally, don’t care what John Sullivan or Jerry Vines thinks of my views (and I’m quite sure my opinion of theirs means nothing to them), but respectful engagement over the substance is certainly more helpful than actions like this.

    If this is an issue that needs to be escalated to the point of a denominational split (the thought makes me cringe), even that can be done decent and in good order, no?

    Jesus said, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” What message does it communicate to the world when we don’t actively love one another?

  17. My Brother Ubergoober.

    Thank you for both Christian and civil exchange. Already hope is demonstrated:^)!!

    First, thank you for acknowledging the “good” grade in part of my post but I have to question my “bad” grade. How is it that any portion of what I have recorded thus far is “clearly put into a category of ‘“things we ought to be against””? Indeed, Ubergoober, I affirmed that we possess division, not harmony. Nonetheless, as I stated, “the question is not about harmony but about loving our brothers even when divided.”

    In addition, presumbly, your suggestion that an inappropriate method in dealing with diversity was “The gift of Jerry Vines’ CD package (paid for by all of us…whether we agree with the content or not)” which, for you, “seems more a backhand than an open hand to those who do not agree with its content.” Perhaps.

    But know nonCalvinists such as myself could slice that pie too by whinning about Dr. Nettles who teaches at SBTS, offering a point of view that not only does not represent my views, but is far from the overwhelming majority of Southern Baptists. Do I think it is wrong to pay Dr. Nettles with my CP dollars? I do not.

    My engagement with many Calvinists over the past year I’ve been active on the internet has been extremely positive. Some just as extremely negative. But if we are to live in peace with one another, it will take both Calvinists and nonCalvinists alike to tone the rhetoric down. No unilateral suggestions, please.

    Grace, Ubergoober. With that, I am…

    Peter

  18. Surely, Peter, you see the difference between a rather distinguished professor teaching at a seminary and the Exec Director of a state convention sending out this material? My problem, again, is not with their position or their right to voice their opinion. (I, like you, can and very often do benefit from exchanges with people whose opinions and beliefs are different from my own.) It is that this seems a rather inappropriate way of voicing it.

    Unless, of course, Dr. Sullivan was just helping Dr. Vines get traction for his ministry, and this was a good opportunity to market it. That, however, seems too cynical to imagine true.

    The matter is a serious one, but also one that can be resolved easily: open dialogue between brothers, Bibles open, each esteeming each other more highly than themselves, genuinely committed to truth AND care for each other.

    To be clear, as a pastor in Florida who is a Calvinist (at least as I define “Calvinist”) who received the material, I am personally not offended by the material itself. I just get the impression that it is directed at anyone who:

    1. has a private prayer language (whatever that is)
    2. doesn’t take the total abstinence view of alcohol consumption
    3. holds to the historic reformed soteriology
    4. doesn’t incorporate the word “inerrancy” in their description of the Bible

    Regardless my opinion on these matters, I must acknowledge that there are good, honest brothers who hold different views than my own, and that is simply a part of the Southern Baptist tapestry. We should (must) afford each other the dignity of these differences or the SBC is quite vulnerable to death by civil war.

  19. Ubergoober,

    Alas, we’ve come to a stand-still on this one, my Brother Ubergoober. A final note for me: Of course I see the difference between a professor teaching a class and an Ex. Director sending out teaching material. The question is, however, what difference the difference makes to the point, Ubergoober. I fear, unhappily for you, “None.” That is moot.

    An open Bible? Cool! Let the study begin. But that is moot as well. Nor do I think Dr. Vines’ success in ministry is indicative of whether Dr. Sullivan supported it or not.

    So, Ubergoober, if the subject matter is not “personally offensive,” what are we having this discussion about?

    For me, the crucx is whether any–and I do mean ANY–nonCalvinist in the SBC can ever offer a critique of the DoG as interpreted by Calvinists, that Calvinists themselves will accept as not “anti-Calvinistic.” Thus far, I’m confident that Founders’ does not think that remotely possible–at least from the public response each time Calvinism is mentioned by a nonCalvinist.

    Given that, I suggest nonCalvinists will likewise find it difficult to accept, as both valid and fair, critiques of nonCalvinists by Calvinists. Indeed, all that is drawn from me presently is a yawn when the salvific vision I see as Biblical is maligned as “man-centered.” I’ve answered that too many times to count and now to care.

    Grace, Ubergoober. It’s been a good and fair exchange. The final word is yours. With that, I am…

    Peter

  20. Dr. Sullivan and Dr. Vines have given us great opportunity to address the false charges against Calvinism openly. I have done so by writing a 20 page rebuttal, almost line for line for every argument he promoted in the message, which, by the way was preached at Woodstock back in October of last year. The link to this rebuttal is http://www.graceworx.com. then click on the top banner that refers to it.

  21. Peter,

    Is this the part where we hug and have a good cry? (I’m kidding)

    I do have one last question, if you would…

    Do you find it appropriate that Dr. Sullivan sent out this material? This is the central issue.

  22. Lynn,

    MacArthur, Sproul, and Piper might just say… “this is way we are not Southern Baptist.”

    Peter & UberGoober,

    Please go to Tom Ascols blog and read the full story, including the pdf of the notes from the meeting that took place between Cecil Seagle and the leadership of the Holmes Baptist Association… there is far more involved here than just spending CP dollars to send out divisive and offensive CDs.

    Grace to all,

  23. Ubergoober,

    Hugs and kisses! :) Seriously, for me, it just is not a big thing. When I was a pastor, I received lots of stuff from “headquarters” wondering to myself “What are they sending that for?” And “I wonder if we can’t find something more helpful to do with our CP money?” But, it stopped right there. I never followed thru on it because it just was not that big of deal. Something may come tomorrow more helpful.

    Now, I can understand Calvinists, since sometimes they are maligned, being more sensitive, if what’s sent out has a message not necessarily favorable to their theological persuasion. I may be too. But we both know that the present reaction goes beyond being sensitive.

    Grace, Ubergoober. Perhaps we’ll converse again…

    Greg,

    Thanks for info.

    Withg that, I am…

    Peter

  24. Greg,

    I’ve been watching several blogs. Didn’t really intend to weigh in on it yet, but got into a discussion with lumpy poo on this blog. Turned into one of those side conversations, you know, like a couple of guys standing off to the side arguing a foul call.

    I know you’re at the something of the epicenter of all this (and you have my support and encouragement for what its worth!).

    Lumps,

    I think that is the point. You don’t think it is that big a deal, and I do. Again, not Calvinism, but the hit and run tactics employed, is the issue.

    At any rate…we’ll see how it plays out. I do pray for unity.

  25. Greetings to all!

    This is my first time blogging here and I’ve enjoyed the discussion thus far; perhaps I will visit regularly as time allows.

    I am an Assistant Pastor with an SBC Church here in Southern California. And I am well familiar with Brother Vine’s work through the years. And without dismissing his otherwise fine contributions, I must say this Calvinist “witch hunt” he has embarked upon is a real disappointment.

    Ecc 10:1 “Dead flies cause the ointment of the apothecary to send forth a stinking savour: so doth a little folly him that is in reputation for wisdom and honour.”

    And this truly is sheer “folly,” for such a man should know better.

    I am preparing a series of sermons on the history of the SBC, and no one who has a shred of integrity would deny the fact that the Southern Baptists, and Baptists in general were “born in the cradle of Calvinism.” Concerning the historic Southern Baptist, it might well be said “There were giants in the land in those days…” and they were ALL unabashed CALVINISTS.

    From J.L. Dagg, to John Broadus, Basil Manly Sr., Basil Manly Jr., James P. Boyce, and B.H. Carroll; ALL affirmed the historic Doctrines of Graces also known as Calvinism. And contrary to the fear-mongering claims often made: history’s greatest missionaries and evangelists were Calvinistic! Who would accuse William Carey of being anti-evangelistic?

    The most ironic thing is to hear such people as Seagle, Sullivan, McClelland and Vines imply that Calvinists have somehow insinuated themselves into the SBC and represent a threat to it’s normalcy. Wake up man! The SBC was founded by Calvinists and consisted mainly of Calvinists! It is the neo-Arminian and semi-Pelagian elements who have arisen to cause division in what has always been a Calvinistic denomination.

    I think such knee-jerk detraction and denunciation from the Doctrines of Grace come from ignorance: willful in some cases and innocent in others. And perhaps THAT, more than anything else, is the reason they chafe so at organizations such as the Founders. I suspect (and hope I am wrong) that they really do not want people to investigate the facts for themselves, and prefer rather to snow them under with mountains of sermons, tapes, and CDs denouncing the “Straw Man” of Calvinism they create. And like all controversies, there’s usually money to be made in it, and plenty of time in the lime-light.

    I suggest to one and all, that putting personalities aside, we should each and every one follow the example of the Bereans by searching the Scriptures to see whether or not these things be so.(Acts 17:11) And while you are at it, search the archives of our great SBC heritage. Doing this, I am confident you will find, as I have, that not only are historic Calvinists counted among the greatest Preachers, Teachers, Evangelists, and Missionaries of all time; but theirs is a time-tested orthodoxy which best harmonizes the plenary counsels of God’s Word to His eternal glory, and NOT man’s.

    Grace & Peace

    CrossWise

  26. My Brothers,

    I didn’t hear Dr. Vine’s sermons (I live in Missouri). I’m not a Calvinist. I’m not an Arminian, either. But allow me one observation regarding the debate. While a few of the men on this site have done a masterful job of dealing with the issues in a Christ-like way, unfortunately, that’s not the case far too often. Some of my best friends are Calvinists. But then I was also introduced once to a fellow pastor (by a Calvinist friend) as “This is Ken my liberal non-Calvinist friend.” This designation because I do give an invitation (without manipulation and with an explanation of repentance). So, to cut to the chase my hunch is one reason for the harsh words back in forth is because they are in fact “back and forth.” I’ve been labeled wrongly because I give an invitation. Giving an invitation doesn’t make me a manipulator. If you don’t use one, that’s fine with me and I will not question your motives nor your “orthodoxy.” I am confident you explain repentance and forgiveness in your own preferred setting. That’s great! I also utilize a form of an “Inquirere’s room” for those with questions and I preach often from the English Standard Version. Therefore, my non-Calvinist friends say I must be a Calvinist. The “witchhunt” is a two-sided venue I’m afraid. In either case, I’ve seen a lot of arrogant Calvinsts and certainly some arrogant non-Calvinists. But I’m afraid the Calvints do win the arrogance race with the mantra that they are the only ones preaching the true “Doctines of Grace.” I beg to differ. I believe I preach grace, as well. I think it does smack of arrogance to imply that within the SBC since the resurgence of Calvinism that suddenly the truth is emerging and we’ve all been in the dark prior to this latest “reformation.” I’m just not sure it’s quite that dramatic.

  27. Sirs: To add to the discussion about Jerry Vines’ remark about Calvinism eating the heart out of evangelism, etc., I would like to say that the father of the Southern Baptist Missionary movement, Luther Rice, stated in his memoirs: PREDESTINATION IS IN THE BIBLE, AND YOU HAD BETTER PREACH IT. As one who has studied Baptist History (6 years of research covering more than 250 sources resulting in 3000 5×8 notecards) and wrote an MA thesis in American Social & Intellectual History on the Baptists & Ministerial Qualifications: 1750-1850, covering the Philadelphia, Charleston, Sandy Creek, Kehukee, Ketocton, and Elkhorn Associations, I laugh. Any one who has done any reading in the primary sources knows full well that the Baptists who started the great missionary movement held to Sovereign Grace.

    AS TO TO THE DOCTRINES OF GRACE, INCLUDING EACH POINT OF THE TULIP ACROSTIC OUTLINE, INCLUDING ALSO THE DOCTRINE OF REPROBATION, THEY ARE ALL INVITATIONS TO BE SAVED TO TRUST THE LORD JESUS CHRIST. I will give one example to prove the point, no, two instances. Jesus said to the woman of Canaan, Mt.15:24, “I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” The woman was not a Jew, not an Israelite. Jesus preached a limited atonement, particular redemption. The woman’s response: “Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me.” (Mt.15:25). Then he preached reprobation to her, “It is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it to dogs” (Mt.15:27). Her response, “Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.”(Mt.15:27). Read the rest of that pericope for what Jesus had to say about her response, about her.

    Now as to the matter of Jerry. We trust that he means well, even if he got it wrong from some who have misrepresented sovereign grace by words or actions. Arminians can be truly saved even if they are all mixed up in their theology. And some who believe, supposedly, in sovereign grace and even preach it might well perish. The true liberal is a believer in Sovereign Grace. Fuss’in is better than war any day of the week. What might be happening is that we are getting ready for a THIRD GREAT AWAKENING, ONE IN WHICH THE WHOLE EARTH SHALL BE FILLED WITH HIS GLORY & GRACE AS THE WATERS THAT COVER THE SEA.

    By His grace,
    Jim Willingham

  28. It’s interesting that Jerry Vines and many other leaders of the SBC seem to be utterly ignorant of the fact that until the liberal movement in the early to mid 20th century, the SBC was always at least 3/4 Calvinist. Given that he’s always been a proponent of the idea that you should either follow the teaching of the church or leave, perhaps after a bit of study, HE should leave! To put Calvinism in the same pot as Liberalism is stupid. The background to most modern pastor’s objection to Calvinism is the false idea that Calvinism opposes missions. That’s only true of extreme Primitive Baptists. True Calvinists were LEADERS in missions. Study your history before abusing your betters, Mr. Vines.

  29. Sirs: It is sad in deed to see Jerry Vines eviserate from Southern Baptist life such people as Roger Williams, Dr. John Clarke, Rev. William Screven, Oliver Hart, Shubal Stearns, John Gano, John Leland, Elijah Craig, J.P. Boyce, J. L. Dagg, the Dargans, Luther Rice, the Manleys, Broadus, Williams, Campbells, R.G. Lee, the Carrolls, etc. Take all of these people out and you will have no Southern Baptists, no Southern, Southwestern Seminaries, no Mercer, Furman, Baylor, Wake Forest, or other colleges & universities. You also have no missions, foreign or domestic. Rice said, “Predestination is in the Bible and you had better preach it.” Manley, Sr., preached, and Jr. put it in the abstract, while rice had it written in the Sandy Creek Confession of 1816. But why worry? We are getting ready for THE THIRD GREAT AWAKENING which might well take the whole earth as it is to be filled with His knowledge & glory as the water covers the seas. It is going to be full of sound & fury signifying something, a joyful time beyond words to describe, without manipulation based upon free persuasion, as irresistible as Love. Hey! it’s gonna be joyful, glorious, wonderful. Every truth of tulip as well as reprobation, limited atonement, & predestination are nothing but the sweetest invitations designed to bring us to our senses by bringing us down low, humbling us into the dust. Like John Newton wrote, “how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me.” All of Jerry or Johnny’s oppositions don’t amount to a hill of beans, because the real liberals were the old Bible believing, Sovereign grace followers of the Lord Jesus Christ. When I was an atheist, I had a vision (?) of Jesus standing at a door knocking. He was facing me, looking at me, with his hand raised as knocking at a door (Rev.3:20). I slammed the door and ran, but just before I got home, the Lord opened the door (Acts 16:14). That happened 50 years ago on Dec.7,1957. I came to sovereign grace by studying the biblical words. E.g,, no man can come (Jn6:44,65). As the Sandy Creek Confession of 1816 sats, Man is utterly impotent by his own free will or ability to save himself. The Bible’s teaching of total inability is an invitation to trust that God will over come my inability. He does, He has, He will. Then in doing research I found out that the theology of the GREAT AWAKENINGS WAS AND IS SOVEREIGN GRACE.We are going to have another I do believe (and I have been praying for one for 35 years). And Pshaw I love the Arminians, the atheists, agnostics, the rebels and devils of sinners. Was it Newton who said to Wesley, well someone said it to someone sometime, “I have never despaired of any soul, since God saved me.”
    God’s in the business of saving sinners, sorry, sordid, savage, insane, mad, despicably depraved sinners. AIN’T THAT GREAT! AIN’T GOD GOOD! PRAISE TO HE LORD, THE ALMIGHTY, THE KING OF CREATION, JESUS, KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS. I don’t want a single person believing what I believe until the Lord himself has persuaded him by His word and winsomeness. God in HIS SOVEREIGN GRACE CAN CHARM A VIPEROUS SINNER TO COME TO LOVE GRACE AND HATE HIS OWN POISONOUS NATURE. GENTLEMEN, IT MAY BE, AND I AM NO PROPHET, THAT THERE IS A SOUND OF A GOING IN THE MULBERRY TREES. LET US PRAY THAT IT SHALL BE SO THAT THE LORD JESUS MIGHT GET ALL THE PRAISE FROM EVERY LAST SOUL ON THE FACEOF THE EARTH IN ONE GENERATION AND EVEN A THOUSAND GENERATIONS. Having lived in hell as a child and seeing that hell change into a heaven on earth, I think any thing good is possible with God.

  30. It is time for all sovereign Grace Baptists, to pull out of the apostate SBC and form a fellowship, including Sovereign Grace Independent Baptists.

    The recent election of Johnny Hunt shows this.

  31. Sirs: Pull out of apostate Southern Baptists? Where shall we go? Why should we go? Just because the enemy has made us uncomfortable in God’s house? Why not be like the Marines in Korea. One said, “We got commies in front of us, commies on either side of us, and commies behind us. They can’t get away now.” Jesus had Judas as one of the 12, even as the treasurer of the His first church. No one ever said this was going to be easy. We as sovereign grace believers are called on to try to live better, more faithfully, endure suffering, and grow sweet in the midst of strife and bitter disappointment. I can’t do that without Sovereign Grace, but God has commanded me to do the impossible, to love my enemies to the point of reconciliation and eternal friendship. Now that is a human impossibility except by the Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.

    Sovereign Grace Believers had the great awakenings, religious liberty, the freest country on earth, educated and uneducated ministers working together, the great missionary movement, worked with deists, arminians, liberals(?), modernists, postmodernists, etc. Shall we let one who said, “I have just begun to fight,” outdo us in perseverance? Pshaw! as Dr. Ernest R. Campbell use to say. Why should we pull out when sovereign grace people created the SBC, etc? Why pull out, when the Bible says in Zeph. that God will starve all the gods of the earth? Why give up when the Bible says, “Where sin abounded, Grace super-abounds?” Why be so weak and knock-kneed that we can’t stand against opposition or hold out when all alone? Why, that is when Jesus gets the glory?

    A mother once said to one of her children, a daughter, who said, “you must love ___, ____, & ____ more than me, because there so much smarter than me!” The mother replied, “I don’t know but what I love you more, cause you try so hard.” A couple took an abused child and carried and loved him until he grew up, that is how God’s love works and we must seek to imitate our Lord out of gratitude for the privilege of trying. Many try right now. I do not want to make any one a five point Calvinist? I want to make him a lover of the Lord Jesus Christ who loved sinners and gave Himself for them. Now I happen to believe the teachings of Sovereign Grace show Jesus in His most winsome light. I once said to a relative of Spurgeon (who did not at that time believe as Charles did) that grace is irresistible. He went out and won a woman who told him after she had received Christ why she had responded so readily: “Oh, it was so wonderful that I could not resist it.” He said that when she said that, what I had said about grace being irresistible popped into his mind. Forty years later he himself came to believe it, too.

    Johnny, Jerry, and John’s ideas are not a problem; they are a challenge for us to prove such views wrong…How? By kind, loving, faithful, gracious, courteous, longsuffering love like the love the Lord Jesus had for us, when we were in sin’s degradation. One day His love proved to be overwhelming in winning us to freely turn from sin to the Savior. An open hand of invitation by God’s grace proves in the long-run to be more irresistible than a clenched fist. The message of the cross is ABSOLUTE PROOF OF THAT FACT. I HAVE A SON WHO IS A PREACHER. WHAT WON HIM TO THE LORD’S SERVICE WAS A SERMON ON “GRATITUDE” BASED ON AN EXPOSITION OF 1 THESS. 5:18. Yes, just the thought of how much thanks he owed to God for His great goodness melted his heart into tears. I am so thankful for the privilege of having a part in that response by preaching just a run-of-the-mill Sunday morning sermon where the results were of God.

    I would like to see Johnny, Jerry, and John come to the persuasion of Sovereign Grace by being actually persuaded by Him in all His loving kindness in its most irresistible form: Its winsomeness. I think it was John Wesley wo said to John Newton that he would never despair of any one’s salvation, if God should save a certain person. Newton’s response, “I have never despaired of any being saved, since He saved me.” Whether that story is true or not, I am unable to say, BUT I CAN SAY THAT AMAZING GRACE IS THE SWEET SOUND THAT SAVED A WRETCH LIKE ME, AND WHY SHOULD I DESPAIR OF ANY INCLUDING THEE? AND WHY SHOULD I GIVE UP JUST BECAUSE SOME WIZARD OF ID (sic) SEEMS TO THREATEN LIKE THE ONE OF OZ? Gentlemen, for shame, shall we give up so easily or shall we be brave and say, I have just begun to believe? Nothing is harder to resit than an open hand? Gentlemen, be sweet, be loving, be extra kind? God will win in the end, and your worst enemies might well become your best friends. AND THE GLORY SHALL BE TO THE ONE YOU ARE SUPPOSE TO ADORE, THE LORD JESUS CHRIST

  32. The Google page makes it seem likes I said we should pull out. God Forbid! I detest the idea. Why pull out, when we must pray to take the whole earth for the glory of Christ…not any manipulation, trickery, etc., but by manifestation of the truth truly understood and applied. Think of how wrong Southern Baptist Sovereign Grace believers were, when they were racists due to being duped by greed and adept manipulation by people with an axe to grind. Eventually we came to see the error of such foolishness. Now we need to see how I Cors. 13 applies to theological differences. If a little true love goes a long way, think how far a really determined effort at love will go.

  33. Dr. Wllingham
    Love [I Corinthians. 13], NEVER compromises the Truth. It’s time for all sovereign grace Baptists in the SBC and Independents, who hold to the Doctrines of Grace, to unite and form a new fellowship or convention.

  34. Pshaw! So my ordaining pastor use to say, and so I say. When is it a compromise of the truth to love the blind, deaf, dumb, and dead? Love rejoices with the truth I Cors.13:6. I did 2 yrs. of research in the Greek on I Cors.13 and wrote a 50 papge paper with 305 footnotes for an honors course at SEBTS. Then for my D.Min project I preached 10 sermons on that periocope & gave 10 lectures in black history. Let us just say we disagree with those who differ & they have more reason to fear that we will infect them than that they will infect us. I should be in Hell, but God’s unconditional love, grace, and kindness changed my course of life.And He can do the same for others who like myself in my atheistic days totally oppose te truth. Consider the African American Believers in the days of slavery. Some of them were so great, when sovereign grace Southern Baptists dished out sorry treatment to them under the mistaken notion that they were inferior and should be slaves. When General Lee thought they could never be our equals, two blacks studied the course materials for a degree from Oxford along with their masters. Check the history of Claflin U. in SC. John Robinson, the Pilgrims’ pastor said, “Who knows what new light is getting ready to break forth from God’s word.” That new light, a government of checks and balances, world-wide missions and evangelism, the uniting of people who differed, religious liberty, & more. George Whitefield went out of his way to mend fences with the leading Arminian of his day, John Wesley. Edwards rebuked Whitefield for being so harsh on the unconverted ministry. And Sandy Creek had eldresses. Let us flank our opponents with the Gospel of Sovereign Unconditional Love. How hard is it to do that? Consider Golgotha.

  35. Leaven always produces fermentation. Dr. Leonard in a paper on Baptists in the 18th cent. cites an Episcopalian who commented on the Baptists in NC then engaged in all kinds of arguments. He apparently did not think too much of it. Interestingly enough, my research indicated that while they were fussing, they helped to create the greatest nation on earth, secure religious liberty, united Separate and Regular Baptists, won General Baptists over to being Particular Baptists, launched the Great Century of Missions, experienced the Second Great Awakening, produced one of the early anti-slavery efforts (the Friends of Missions). When we learn through exploring our differences to love one another, then we shall be blessed with that Great Awakening that we need at this time. Some great times are a-coming. The prayers of lifetimes and of centuries and millenniums for Christ to take the whole earth and every soul upon it in one generation and even for a thousand generations might well be nearly upon us. Such is my prayer.

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