Posted tagged ‘David Allen’

Hyper-Calvinism, Anti-Calvinism, and Founders Ministries

December 5, 2008

Update 12.05.08 :: 11:30 p.m. Having been away most of the day with family outing and then church planting meeting, I have not been able to follow the comments of this post. Upon reading them, I have become discouraged by the direction of the commentary and chose to dump all existing comments, including my own, into the moderation pool.  I will follow up with my thoughts soon, Lord willing.

Whenever controversy arises in the SBC, it is always helpful to understand the agenda on both sides.  Regarding the current controversy over Calvinism, it is important to note that the agenda has often changed.  Earlier in the debate, the goal was to (1) discredit and debunk the doctrines of Calvinism (take William Estep’s 1997 article Doctrines Lead to Dunghill for example). The most devastating blow to Calvinism would be, of course, to show that it is unbiblical.  However, non-Calvinists have not dealt with the biblical texts, and as the John 3:16 Conference reveals, very little exegesis was offered for their rejection of the doctrines of grace.

When it became apparent that Calvinism could not be stopped by proving the doctrines were unbiblical, the next step (2) was to argue from pragmatism.  Calvinism, they say, is contrary to the Great Commission and would result in less baptisms and fewer people being saved.  LifeWay Research last year proved that this claim to be false much to the behest of Steve Lemke and some SWBTS professors.  Ed Stetzer has just posted a response to those challenging and questioning the research methods and approach regarding the Calvinism study by LifeWay/NAMB Research.

Furthermore, when pragmatism couldn’t snuff it out, the next thing on the agenda (3) was to police Calvinism.  In other words, if you can’t beat it, try to control it and marginalize it.  This was seen in the denominational talking point of the pastor search committee and Calvinists putting all their cards on the table.  Calvinists who are (and should be) up front with Calvinism have to plow through the caricatures and misunderstandings that have been perpetuated over the years.  With transparency and integrity as guiding principles, they are told that they should not be wearing Calvinism on their sleeve, that their willing admission therefore constitutes one who is “aggressive and militant.”  On the other hand, Calvinists who are perhaps “softer” and less outspoken about their soteriology simply preach the Bible and love the people, but should it be known at a later time they are Calvnists, they are deemed “deceptive, dishonest, and disruptive to our churches.”  In some state conventions (Florida, Texas, and Missouri to be specific), non-Calvinist literature was purchased and sent to every pastor in their states in an attempt to sway ministers against Calvinism.  Denominational platforms from convention speeches to Baptist state papers to academic “white papers”, the policing effort was rather comprehensive.


Ed Stetzer Responds to David Allen’s Critique of Calvinism Research

December 4, 2008

Ed Stetzer, President of LifeWay Research, has posted a response on his blog dealing extensively to David Allen’s criticism of NAMB and LifeWay Research.  I encourage you to read Stetzer’s detailed explanation as well as research ethics behind the study. Stetzer concludes with these words:

It is my hope that this response to Allen’s review will be received in the spirit it is offered. Dr. Allen’s concern about Calvinism is clearly known–one can just Google “David Allen and Calvinism” and it is quite clear. As stated in my introduction to this response, no study is perfect. However, this study is the best we have and the statistical analysis is sound.

[ . . .] To be honest, I am among those who are concerned about the lack of evangelistic passion, practical training, and leadership ability I see in some Calvinists graduating from seminary. Simply put, these are not the results I expected. However, in the world of reearch we report what the numbers are, not what we think they should be. We present the numbers and, yes, we can give our evaluation and opinion of the numbers. However, they are what they are. I can’t change them to prove my point or make someone else happy. Facts are our friends, even when they show a different conclusion than we expected.

In closing, let me make the same exhortation I made at the “Building Bridges” conference where our conclusions were presented. Our results demonstrate that neither the Calvinist camp nor the non-Calvinist camp can claim superiority in baptism rates. And worse yet, an average annual baptism rate of 8-9 persons per 100 members is nothing to be proud about, regardless if you are a Calvinist or not. I think we can all agree that the world is in desperate need of the redemption accomplished by Christ on the cross. It is in need of the Savior. So let us be about the business of preaching Christ crucified, calling men, women and children to repent and believe in the gospel.

I will leave it at that. And, my hope is that all will read this in the spirit I offer it. Let’s join hands and help all kinds of Southern Baptists to do their evangelism more faithfully.

Amen, Ed.  Although, I am not wearing a suit and tie.  😉

David Allen, Hyper-Calvinism, and James White: The Rundown

November 30, 2008

Timelines and an organized list of events can be helpful to see how things evolve (or devolve), so I thought I would provide a play-by-play run down of the events that have transpired (and will continue to transpire) since the John 3:16 conference, and more particularly the revival of the charge of hyper-Calvinism by Dr. David Allen, dean of the school of theology at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Here’s the rundown thus far (I will be updating this regularly in the future).

1.  [11.07.08] David Allen gives his message against limited atonement at the John 3:16 Conference wherein he charges James White (among others) as a hyper-Calvinist.

2.  [11.07.08] James White offers and immediate response while in the UK evangelizing Muslims.

3.  [11.07.08] Phil Johnson, author of the “Primer on Hyper-Calvinism“, comes to the defense of James White and refutes the charges made by David Allen.

4.  [11.08.08] Tony Byrne (YnottonY) storms the blogosphere as Dr. Allen’s apologist.  Eventually it was revealed that Byrne drafted the chart distributed at the conference and was influential in both the 34-page response by Allen to the Building Bridges Conference as well as the presentation on limited atonement.  The extent to which Allen’s presentation and thinking has been influenced remains uncertain.

5.  [11.09.08] Timmy Brister provides a compilation post of live-blogging entries along with some noteworthy items from the John 3:16 conference.

6.  [11.17.08] Gene Cook interviews Tony Byrne about his chart and understanding of hyper-Calvinism on the Narrow Mind.

7.  [11.24.08] David Allen responds with his reasoning behind the charge of hyper-Calvinism and James White (very similar to what Byrne had already been arguing).

8.  [11.24.08] James White responds to Allen’s “false accusation” on the AOMIN blog.

9.  [11.24.08] Tom Ascol addresses the widening of the divide in the SBC as a result of (1) Lemke’s article, (2) Allen’s PDF review, and (3) the John 3:16 Conference.

10. [11.26.08] Phil Johnson addresses (again) the issue of hyper-Calvinism, refuting point-by-point the argumentation by David Allen.

11. [11.26.08] James White responds to Phil Johnson’s refutation of Allen.

12. [11.26.08] James White addresses Allen’s historical sources for his presentation.

13. [11.26.08] The “open letter” by David Miller was published along with Jerry Vines’ response.

14. [11.28.08] R. Scott Clark, a non Southern Baptist and professor of Historical Theology at Westminster Seminary, chimes in on the shared rationalism of both hyper-Calvinism and Arminianism.

15. [11.28.08] Justin Taylor provides information to answer the question, “What Is Hyper-Calvinism?”

16. [11.28.08] James White plays the testimony of Thomas Dickerson who was “saved out of Calvinism” (to the applause of the crowd) and responds both to Dickerson’s mysticism and the panel’s reaction (YouTube video).

17. [11.28.08] Malcolm Yarnell, after having left nearly a dozen comments on Ascol’s post, takes his partying agenda elsewhere.

18. [11.29.08] James White addresses Allen’s treatment of the “double payment argument” and John Owen (YouTube video).

19. [12.01.08] David Allen writes a “rejoiner to Tom Ascol” regarding his recent blogpost.

20. [12.01.08] Bart Barber attempts to explain what this “fighting about John 3:16” is all about.

21. [12.01.08] Wade Burleson explains that the antagonism against Calvinism is further evidence of the narrowing of parameters in SBC life.

22. [12.01.08] James White interacts with Jerry Vines on John 3:16, especially “whosoever will” (YouTube video).

23. [12.01.08] Tony Byrne lists the six arguments Allen uses for calling James White a hyper-Calvinist.

24. [12.02.08] James White addresses specifically the charge of hyper-Calvinism and universal saving will according to David Allen and Tony Byrne on The Dividing Line (YouTube video).

25. [12.02.08] Steve Camp responds to the charge of David Allen that he is a hyper-Calvinist.

26. [12.02.08] Quincy Jones shares the news that there will be an open forum at SWBTS with Dr. Allen to discuss his recent involvement with Calvinism on Thursday, December 4, 2008.

27. [12.03.08] James White addresses Tony Byrne’s comment on Brister’s blog where he argues seven points for clarification.

28. [12.03.08] Tom Ascol offers a response to David Allen and his previous rejoiner, revealing Allen’s logic, and addressing the example Founders Ministries has of standing against hyper-Calvinism.

29. [12.04.08] Ed Stetzer responds to David Allen’s critique regarding NAMB/LifeWay Research on Calvinism

30. [12.05.08] Timmy Brister writes about the charge of hyper-Calvinism by anti-Calvinists and how they are ultimately after Founders Ministries and Tom Ascol.

>> Last updated 12.06.08 <<

Tom Ascol Responds to the Anti-Calvinism in the SBC

November 26, 2008

Last week, I directed you to read the words of Voddie Baucham on the anti-Calvinism in the SBC. This week I want to turn your attention to the response of Tom Ascol who addresses three recent happenings: Steve Lemke’s article in NOBTS journal (which I have addressed), David Allen’s 34-page review of Building Bridges book, and the John 3:16 Conference. Ascol has not, to this point, responded to the escalating rhetoric and tactics of the anti-Calvinist movement in the SBC, predominantly located within SWBTS, NOBTS, and Jerry Vines and Co.  Some of the notable points by Ascol include:

1.  The “study” which Lemke again quotes to argue that Founders-friendly churches was not only methodologically flawed, but, should the same standard applied to the churches Lemke himself pastored, they would be in worse shape than the Founders churches.  The same goes for David Allen.  Perhaps a “study” should be done on the churches pastored by “seminary administrators.”

2.  Allen criticizes Building Bridges for partnering with Founders Ministries because it was a non SBC entity, while, within weeks after publishing this article, partners (and participates) with a conference that is a non SBC entity (Jerry Vines Ministries).  The ability of Allen to discredit himself is no less alarming than his hypocrisy on this point.

3.  Allen is deeply concerned about Dr. Nettles article “Why Your Next Pastor Should Be a Calvinist” while apparently not concerned by the dozens of denominational “servants” telling churches why your next pastor should NOT be a Calvinist. Different standards for different people.

4. David Miller, a conservative statesman and evangelist in the SBC, attended the John 3:16 Conference and shared his disappointment to Jerry Vines in a letter, part of which was summarized in Ascol’s article.  Miller writes,

“The brethren (presenters), not only contradicted each other but themselves as well” while building “straw men” and “knock[ing] them down with Scripture verses taken out of context…with measured sarcasm and no small dose of arrogance.”

Ascol concludes with a personal appeal for gospel-centered consensus by Calvinists and non-Calvinists alike while distancing from the agendas that seek to divide and create factions in the SBC.  He concludes,

Now is the time for Southern Baptists of all stripes to stand up and hold those who misrepresent brethren with whom they disagree accountable for their words and actions. Speak the truth in love and leave the consequences to God. The anti-Calvinists (as opposed to non-Calvinists) are becoming, as one seminary student put it recently, “increasingly irrelevant,” especially to younger SBC leaders. While they are writing and preaching to themselves, more and more Gospel-centered Calvinists and non-Calvinists alike are showing a genuine willingness to link arms in order to move forward to make disciples of the Lord Jesus.

In the comments of his article, Dr. Malcolm Yarnell has responded (eight times) to Tom Ascol, mostly pertaining to his admission that Servetus was a Baptist (when he was not).  The conversation is worth reading.  More later.