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45 Responses

  1. Randy D says:

    What an idiot Patterson is. He appears to not know Baptist history. Traditional baptists adopted the Westminster confession, which is a Presbyterian document!

    This fear of other ideas creeping in because of Calvinism is ironic. Arminianism crept in when Baptists embraced revivalism. Charismatic practices crept in when Baptists embraced the church growth movement and the seeker service.

    One of the presidents of southwestern seminary, where, where Patterson is president, had a portrait, which still hangs in the school, painted with a cigar in his hand! They later brushed it out but you can still see it. And before the temperance movement Baptist pastors were often paid in whiskey and tobacco. But let’s create sin where there were none before.

    All this shows is that fundamentalism is in charge, not biblical theology.

  2. CostcoCal says:

    When Tullian first fell in the ministry, I was brokenhearted. He had affirmed a message of Grace that I had myself just discovered, enjoyed, and then preached myself. Now, after this, I am not so much brokenhearted as I am fearful. A fear that those of us who preach a message of “Scandalous Grace” might do so at the expense of even acknowledging the Beauty of Holiness. I still have NO desire WHATSOEVER to venture back into the mixing of Grace and Law. A Christianity that I call “Graw”. A ministry mindset which basically gives the doctrine of Grace a nod and then camps out on the Law. But this whole ordeal, it’s scary. It’s a conundrum of sorts. I need help. I need Grace.

  3. Bob Sweat says:


    I’m with you………………..John 1:17!

  4. Josh the Baptist says:

    “One of the presidents of southwestern seminary, where, where Patterson is president, had a portrait, which still hangs in the school,”

    You know, now they have stained glass windows of Paige Patterson.

  5. CostcoCal says:

    Bob. John 1:17!

  6. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    I would recommend reading the dual Lutheran articles on the Gospel phobia by Chad Bird (much in the line of Tullian and the response by Mark Surburg who holds a more traditional Lutheran view.

    It’s interesting to see the issue laid out, rebutted and discussed.

    Gospel phobia…and a rebuttal from another Lutheran… (it’s in the lower half)

  7. CostcoCal says:

    MLD. I agree. With them both. Kind of. 🙂 Here is what I posted on my blog earlier today. Read when you are really bored:

  8. CostcoCal says:

    “No man has spoken as this Man has.”

    That is what the masses said of Jesus.

    He has preached and talked as no one ever has.

    Or ever will.

    What He preached is often missed.

    Jesus preached The Law.

    He told His 70 disciples not to witness to the Gentiles.

    Until His resurrection.

    Then He told His disciples to “go into all the world.”

    In my opinion, too few “Theologians” recognize that Jesus preached the Law.

    And they apply His words to our salvation.

    Words such as “Forgive or you will not be forgiven.”

    That is as applicable to our salvation as “Be perfect as your Father is perfect”.

    His teaching is of the Old Covenant.

    It is a teaching we must desire to follow with all of our heart.

    Yet when we fail, we must know this with all of our heart:

    It. Is. Finished.

    It’s not up to us.

    It’s up to Him.

    That is why it is Good News.

  9. Steve Wright says:

    In my opinion, too few “Theologians” recognize that Jesus preached the Law.
    Yes!. I state it often, including to the Bible College students last night.

    However, I do temper that with the recognition that He also spoke much in preparation for what was to come, and not just in the Upper Room on the night of His betrayal.

    But multiple examples can be cited from the Gospels where Jesus answered or spoke to someone in a way no Christian pastor would ever do today. And it clears up a couple of other issues about tithing or divorce that shows He was not in conflict with Paul at all.

  10. Josh the Baptist says:

    This is where I always get a little confuse because of verse 20 here”

    “19. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, 20. and teaching them to obey all that I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

    … Teaching them to obey all that I have commanded you.

  11. CostcoCal says:

    Indeed. Teach them to obey it. Yet as Paul did, make sure to establish you are not saved eternally by what you do.

  12. Steve Wright says:

    Josh, thus my comment “However, I do temper that with the recognition that He also spoke much in preparation for what was to come”

    He taught us how to live. He did so with an eye to the future (after He would die, rise, and ascend)

    But there are plenty of occasions when He would ask “What did Moses say to you?” or “Go show yourself to the priest” and so forth….which we would never do.

  13. Judy says:

    I have not read The Shack but every time I see an article that starts with “Should Christians _____?, I cringe.

    I don’t know where we came to the point that our experts do the thinking for us, but I have a list of things Christians should do.

    Search scripture
    Apply God’s word to their life

    If we did that, we would not need the experts to tell us how to do everything. We need the Holy Spirit, we don’t need men to spoon feed us their opinions so we don’t have to think, pray, or be Bereans.

    Just my pet peeve.

  14. Judy says:

    I have not read The Shack but every time I see an article that starts with “Should Christians _____?, I cringe.

    I don’t know where we came to the point that our experts do the thinking for us. I agree with the need for theologians and apologists, but there is also the need for individual Christians to learn to think with the mind of Christ.

    Here’s what I think Christians should do:

    Think or learn to think with the mind of Christ
    Search scripture
    Apply God’s word to their life

    If we did that, we would not need the experts to tell us how to do everything from what movie to watch, what book to read, and what to think about someone in the limelight. We need the Holy Spirit, we don’t need men to spoon feed us their opinions so we don’t have to think, pray, or be Bereans. Of course, it is easier to let other men figure out the “hard stuff”.

    Just my pet peeve. Your mileage may vary.

  15. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    I don’t care that people go see or read The Shack – but I would hope no one would recommend it as a Christian venture.
    If someone came away thinking they saw some Christian presentation, then they would be led astray.

  16. Babylon's Dread says:

    Ok I gotta get more 411 on the whole Patterson and Calvinism thing.

    It is an inevitable conflict as Calvinism seldom accepts rival systems.

    Historically Baptist are split and many have been Calvinist. Two of the seminaries were founded with the James P Boyce Statement of Faith… Abstract of Principle it was called.

    This incipient conflict has been waiting for a voice. I want to see what more comes of it. Long term it could foment a split much larger than 1990.

  17. Babylon's Dread says:

    Here is the same sermon with Paige Patterson’s remarks included.

  18. Randy Davis says:

    If Patterson’s theological roots are in Anabaptist theology, then he is outside of Baptist history. There has been tantalizing bits and pieces regarding the Anabaptist connection to English Baptists, but there is no historically demonstrable data that Baptists, as we know them, are connected with the Anabaptists. It is true that the General Baptists had connections to the Waterlander Mennonites. They went there for baptism while in Holland. But the General Baptists, almost all of them, ceased to exist by the end of the 17th century. The generals adopted Hoffmanite christology, which denied the human nature of Jesus’s body. Consequently, most of them became Unitarians.

    There were always some generals among Baptists. But the two main streams of Baptist development were Particular Baptists (Calvinists) and new light congregationalists who became known as Separate Baptist, also Calvinists. Arminian theology did not take a hold among southern Baptists until revivalism and dispensationalism became in vogue late in the 19th and early 20th century.

    You also have to define what you mean by Calvinism. At Southern Seminary, the most Calvinistic of the schools, you only have to to agree to 3 of the 5 points of Calvinism. As far as I know, Southern is the only one that requires the Abstract of Principle. If the other schools use it, it was adopted more recently. Every Southern Baptist Confession of Faith has been and is to this day is Calvinist. The current one is more moderate than the Philadelphia confession of 1742 ( also know as Spurgeon’s Confession, and the Second London Confession, all based on the Westminster Confession.) So Patterson was wrong with his claims of a confession that was designed to accommodate both sides since the confession goes back to about 1835 or so, known as the New Hampshire Confession.

    But what he is opposed to and I am as well, are the young, restless, and reformed Baptists who want a Presbyterian form of Church government–ruling elders rather than congregational polity. This has caused a lot of trouble for many Baptist Churches. Now he may dislike all forms of Calvinism but there is nothing he can do about it. The reason is simple. All churches are local and autonomous so he can’t do anything about local churches. All Seminaries have their own governing boards and he has a say only at Southwestern and they have Calvinists who teach there. And, finally, probably the most important part, his has lost his influence with most with the exception of those who are graduates of Southwestern. Now that Baptists have opened up to graduates of other seminaries, it will be even harder to control.

  19. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    That would be interesting to see how they would define Calvinism in light of accepting only 3 of the 5 points. That is not Calvinism at all – not even close.

    It’s pretty bad when the seminaries are divided from each other and within each. The students must come out terribly confused. What happens when you have back to back classes – one taught by a Calvinist and the next by an Arminian? It sounds like a free for all to me.

  20. Randy Davis says:

    Well seminary students know everything when they arrive. So, they are not confused!

  21. Josh the Baptist says:

    Randy, don’t you think Paige was likely influential in the drafting of the Baptist Faith and Message 2000? I realize that it is derivative, but that committee seemed purposefully made up of both Calvinists and non-Calvinists. I think Paige may be correct in why certain wording was chosen for the 2000 version.

    2. Mohler is a Patterson protege. They are friends who have always disagreed on Calvinism. Nothing new there.

    3. There have always – ALWAYS – been both Calvinists and non-Calvinists in the SBC, since it’s founding in 1845. There is no impending split. We have this conversation every few years then it blows over.

  22. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Randy LOL 🙂

    When the LCMS split in the 1970s it happened in the seminary. The liberals had taken over and as you said the students already know everything – the liberals were teaching the usual positions that the beginning of Genesis was not to be taken literally, Jonah and several other passages the same. When the split came and they could not take the academic pressure any longer – 45 of the 50 professors left. Not the faithful teachers but 45 liberals – to start their own seminary … it was called Seminex (seminary in exile).

    I can’t imagine the mixed messages.

  23. Josh the Baptist says:

    MLD – for the most part the only disagreement would be in the very specific point of soteriology, so there wouldn’t likely be a lot of confusion between classes.

    Now, if someone transferred from Southern to Southwestern or vise-versa, he would likely see a big difference in emphasis.

  24. Josh the Baptist says:

    Let me amend my # 3 – The SBC could split again over anything. Calvinism or church growth methods, or whatever. We are known for fighting. My point was that this little ruckus is not exposing anything bigger or new.

  25. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Is anything off limits? Could a SBC pastor (and I do realize the independence there) or a seminary prof teach all 5 points including the double predestination with no consequence?

    Also as a note – soteriology is not as standalone as some make it out to be. Since I think all theology is Christology, I would think the hard Calvinism would say something about who the teacher thinks Christ is.

  26. Josh The Baptist says:

    At Southern, I’m sure the five points are taught pretty vigorously. Basically, if you are going to be bothered by that, you don’t go to Southern.

    And yes, you are correct that it all ties together, but I’m meaning soteriology as it might fall in a table of contents. So we’d all agree on the trinity, the attributes of God…etc, until it got to the mechanics of salvation.

    This is really not unique for Southern Baptists though. We don’t have a standard eschatology either.

  27. Muff Potter says:

    Saving the Bible from ourselves

    Great article and interview over at McKnight’s blog.

  28. surfer51 says:

    Have you ever wondered why Christians aren’t smarter?

  29. Randy Davis says:

    Josh the Baptist, I think Mohler had more influence on the BFM But if you have not read it, most of the changes made were in the first section and not in the soteriological section. It remains Calvinist in its view of election, though it is seen as a mystery. You need to take the New Hampshire Confession and compare it to the 1925, 1963, and the 2000 versions and you will see what little changes has been made. The language in the 2000 version reminds me of valley girl talk. I did not like the changes to the changes to the first section. Years ago, I wrote an article for our state paper on the doctrine man section and I found it to be very weak and inadequate. The BFM is really a weak document and was so from the beginning and the probably reason was that Calvinism was moderated by the influence of a strong evangelical move that moderated the high Calvinism of John Gill.

    The founders of the SBC were all Calvinists, including the missionaries. In fact, the first modern missionary enterprise was started by English Baptists who were Calvinists. Even Lottie Moon was a Calvinist. So whatever non Calvinists were among Baptist, it was a small group, very small until the late 19th century. This is just a fact. I have a book, I think I still have it, may have lost it in a flood, by a pastor, who was asked by his church to write a basic theology book for them. It was written in the late 19th century. It is thoroughly Calvinist. The church was in Mississippi.

    Look, I’m not really a Calvinist–well I am accused by some to be a Calvinist and real Calvinist would have nothing to do with me. I try to be biblical. I am a non dispensationalist. I have been broadly trained even from college–I read Karl Barth in college. I read broadly and to this day, Southern Baptists do not write the best books on biblical studies or theology. Lutheranism has had a major influence on me. I wrote my dissertation on Helmut Thielicke, obviously a Lutheran. My experience is not unique for any educated Southern Baptist pastor, who paid attention when they were in school–or at least when when I was in school 40 years ago.

    I do not believe in the promotion of Calvinism in church, though I am sympathetic. I do not believe in promotion the so called “traditional” baptist position. I believe in preaching Jesus. I believe in faithfully teaching and preaching the whole Bible, no matter how the chips might fall. I am tired of the new as opposed to the old. I think we ought to sing hymns and that worship needs to focus on the most high God and not of us or on entertainment, etc. Worship is not about seekers, it is not an evangelism event, it is a time for us to come and meet God, to worship him, and to enjoy his presence as the people of God gathered. There we grow stronger and equipped to go into the world to do the work of witness. I believe that we ought to recite the Apostles Creed in worship to remind us that we are part of the historic stream of the church since its founding. In fact I have very definite biblical opinions about worship. Worship should always be greater than we are, acting as a calling to move us forward, higher, deeper in our relationship to God. We are so individualistic that we forget the imperative to gather as the body of Christ.

    So, my point, I don’t care what Mohler says or Patterson says. I do not hold these men in very high regard ( in fact, I do not hold any SBC leader in high regard). God called me, not them. God called me to be faithful and to proclaim his Word as he leads–through prayer and study and those moments when divine urges form in my soul and I have to speak. If the SBC splits over anything, it will always be about a secularized church and a commitment to the acquisition of power. I have never understood why anyone would seek power and control in church–something that seems to be a problem for CC churches as well. This is always the result of abandoning biblical truth.

    I know this is very long. I apologize for the length.

  30. Babylon's Dread says:

    Randy Davis,

    Stick around dude! That stuff is good. Thanks for being careful with your history or at least for being careful in your expression.

    Southern Baptist are historically neither anabaptist nor strictly calvinists. They draw from both wells but remain independent of both.

  31. Josh the Baptist says:

    Randy, good stuff!

    I agree with pretty much all that you are saying.

    I think your history is slightly off about all the founders of the SBC being Calvinist. You can read from the Sandy Creek baptists that they opposed predestination. I guess you could say that they were all derivative of Calvinists, as there weren’t any pure Arminians. That much is true.

    I appreciate your input.

  32. Victor says:

    Would you consider the previous examples to be how God would actually speak and behave? Is this how we are to understand God? Is this scriptural?

    CARM’s quote here on how the three manifestations of the Trinity speak in The Shack is the reason I may have made it to page 100 in the book before I tossed it. I saw it on the Wal-Mart shelf when it first came out and thought “this looks interesting,” yet getting into it, I found it shallow and silly, as well as borderline blasphemous.

  33. Michael says:


    Thanks for jumping in…we all will benefit if you keep it up. 🙂
    I would love it if you would write us a defense of congregationalism…

  34. CostcoCal says:

    Randy, don’t apologize for the length. Every word was worth it.

  35. Randy Davis says:

    Josh, I think you are wrong about the Sandy Creek tradition. Most of the objective research that I have seen, has shown them to be fully Calvinist. One of my theology professors (Fisher Humphreys) followed the claim they were not Calvinists in the Particular Baptist tradition and then extrapolated from that, that the Sandy Creek tradition were not Calvinists. His view and Shurden’s views is where Patterson got this idea and uses it in his anti Calvinist propaganda. What is true is that they were less confessional than the particulars and maybe less educated. But Shubal Stearns and Daniel Marshall were straight out of the congregationalist tradition and their Calvinism was that of Jonathan Edwards.

    The Separate Baptists, which the Sandy Creek Association was a part of, were a product of the First Great Awakening and would go on to feed into the Second Great Awakening. Their Calvinism was tempered by a warm, more emotional style of worship. And I think they were more evangelistic in the later style of Spurgeon. But I don’t think there is any clear evidence that they rejected predestination as a doctrine. Lets put it this way, they got along very well with the Regular Baptists (particular Baptists) as far as I can understand it. They held meetings and agreed to join each other churches and each others associations. This information was written in their official records.

    When you get to the founding of the SBC in 1845, all of the founders, all of the leaders of that organization were Calvinists. As far as I know, there is no exception to this. The sad part, the very sad part is that the SBC was started as a racist reaction to the Triennial Convention’s refusal to appoint foreign missionaries who owned slaves. The Triennial Convention was started in 1814 as the first Baptist missionary sending agency. It would become the northern Baptists. Southern Baptist have this great scar on it’s soul because of this fact. The convention has apologized several times for the cause of its origin.

    Patterson and others fear that Calvinism will kill evangelism for some reason. Laziness and rebellion is what kills evangelism.

  36. Randy Davis says:

    Michael, this is off the top of my head about congregational polity. It is actually a little more. I’m not quite normal sometimes in my thinking so I could make someone mad! I don’t know where else to put it so, I am putting it here.

    The New Testament leaves us with vague impressions of church polity and very little command to tell us how to structure a church. Clearly there is the office of leader which is referred to by three different words, elder, bishop and pastor. In Acts 20:28, Paul gathers the Elders of Ephesus for one final word of instruction. He says, “Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.” (Acts 20:28 NASB). Here Paul refers to the elders as overseers (bishops) and shepherd (pastors). So we have clear evidence as to the leadership of the church.

    Since the New Testament does not give a clear church polity for us to follow, it may not be as important as we sometimes make it be. I think what is clear that while the pastor leads the church, he is not the ruler of the church. Notice how Peter says a pastor is to lead the church: “Shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock.” (1 Pet. 5:2-3 ESV) Being a pastor is not an exercise in power but humility.

    Some forms of church polity are founded on the idea of apostolic succession. But the only apostolic succession that we clearly find in the New Testament is the apostolic tradition we call scripture. There is no passing on of apostolic authority to another. The only way apostolic succession can be accounted for in churches is by the use of tradition.

    There are generally three kinds of church polity used in most churches, congregational, episcopal, and presbyterian. I think the one that has the least support is the presbyterian. So, I am not going to spend time on it.

    Congregationalism has some support. Two passages of Scripture seem to indicate at least some congregational support. Acts 6, the church is told to select 7 men from among themselves to take care of the welfare needs of the widows of the church. It is the church’s choice, not an apostolic choice.

    In Acts 5 Paul instructs the church to remove a man who is living in adultery with his mother or stepmother. Paul does not instruct the pastor or elder what to do. He instructs the church. In fact, almost always Paul instructs churches, not pastors, on how to behave and even rule in the church.

    In defense of the episcopal method, I think there is some biblical evidence. Paul appointed elders in various locations. But even more interesting, is that Timothy exercised some authority over churches. Notice how Paul instructed Titus: “ This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you” (Tit. 1:5 ESV)

    The way I see it, the local church was modeled after the synagogue. The order and style of the local church most resemble the synagogue. I believe it is in the Didache that the pastor is referred to as the president, which is a term used in the synagogue.

    Personally, I do not really like the congregational because most often churches do not know what it means. It does not mean that 51% wins. It means that the entire congregation prays together seeking the common will of God in some matter. In Baptist life church is supposed to be pastor lead, deacon served, and congregationally ruled. But it rarely happens that way. Deacon abuse is so common I no longer see a need for deacons, they are rarely biblical in their actions. I think they need to be renamed servants and given absolutely not power in the church. Or just as often a family or a spiritual syndicate or mafia will rise up and run the church ignoring the will of the congregation.

    No matter what polity used, there has to be accountability in the church. This is why congregational polity churches form associations and other organizations to help keep each other in church. And even that often does not work. It is even more obvious in an episcopal order. But that can become a club and can be as abusive as a nondenominational church where the pastor answers to no one. I guess as long as we humans exist in sinful form, there will never be a perfect church order or one that does not go astray.

    At this point of my life, I would like to slip into the back pew of a Presbyterian or Anglican church that has an organ and sings ancient hymns and lifts up God as the God Most High. A Lutheran church would do or maybe and Orthodox church. But I am tired of teenage mania that seems to guide most church worship with shallow emotionalism and no biblical content. In this matter, I don’t care too much about church polity.

  37. Michael says:


    That is gold…thank you!

  38. Josh the Baptist says:

    Randy – great info re: Calvinism and the SBC. It’s not what I’ve learned, but I have been taught by the followers of Patterson. Maybe you are right. I’ll keep studying. I’m not sure it matters, but it is interesting.

    “The sad part, the very sad part is that the SBC was started as a racist reaction to the Triennial Convention’s refusal to appoint foreign missionaries who owned slaves.”

    I know is 100% true, and a complete shame.

  39. Randy Davis says:

    Josh, I have most of the primary sources on my computer. In fact I have two different sets for the sources for the earliest historical materials–I would have killed for some of this when I was in seminary! I don’t think I have the the Sandy Creek material on my computer but I have found it on the internet somewhere in the past. I do a lot of this from memory.

    History should be objective and not designed to meet a political or theological need. I have great sympathy for the Anabaptist movement and I had the romantic idea that we came out of that. Some of these people died horrible deaths standing up for their faith. Their stories are so compelling. But objective history made me give up that idea and I understand that Baptists as we know them came out of the English Separatist movement. Baptists came from the poorest of the poor and record keeping was not the highest priority on the American frontier, which is what the Sandy Creek Association was at that time, especially as it expanded into Western Tennessee and Kentucky.

    The problem is that modern interpreters go further than the historical data goes. That happens on both sides. My problem is with both sides. They need to leave each other alone. Only time will prove one side or the other is wrong.

    Baptists are so gullible in that we will buy into anything that we think will make a church grow and bring in money! And that includes competing histories around uncertain subjects. We so easily forget that it is the work of the Holy Spirit to convict the world of sin, to call sinners out of their darkness and to both convert them and make them new creatures in Christ. It has nothing to do with our sales pitch or our gimmicks! We are mere tools that God uses. We are brothers who teach each other how to grow just a little bit as we go along. When we worship, we keep burning in our hearts that light, that promise that one day we will be made perfect and be in the presence of God forever. I believe it is why forums such as this one are so important. We limp down the road to that great day together.

  40. nathan priddis says:

    I would have to say I side with Randy on Baptist/Calvinism. I believe Calvinist clergy and missionaries arriving from the Continent were extremely influential in the Colonial Church.

    Let me seq way for a bit from the…are they or aren’t they Calvinist technicality. Calvin is remembered for “The Institutes,” or another word for “ordinances.”

    When I was six-eleven, my non Baptist family sent me to a Regular Baptist school. Loved that place. One of only two happy times in my life. That was despite the fact I might as well been Muslim, because my background was so non-Baptist. My feelings aside, I can not recall anything related to the Gospel being associated with grade school. Intense conservatism, dress code, hair, no tattoos (even decals from cracker-jack boxes) nothing. Building Christian society, definitely. Anti-Hippie for sure. Commies are of the Devil.

    But it was all Institutes all the time. I don’t know if Jesus ever stopped by to check in. He probably needed a tie for chapel. Resting in the finished work of Jesus Christ? I never heard of it.

  41. nathan priddis says:

    About Calvinist / Baptist history..

    I have just been reading Fundamentalism and American Culture, George Marsden. It’s not bad.
    I don’t think that more than a tiny fraction of Evangelicals realize American history is one of constant struggle. Intra-church struggle, and engagement of society. I no longer view the word “revival” in the same way as fellow Christians. It has come to mean social influence to me, not salvation.

  42. Babylon's Dread says:

    Good input on this thread

  43. EricL says:

    Nathan @ 43, good book there. Read that as part of a college class on Fundamentalism around the World.

    Fundamentalism is a fascinating topic, especially when you see the similarities across multiple religions. The desire to return to a “golden age”, the push-back against modernity, and often patriotism/ militarism as a way to achieve that.

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