The following is an excerpt of Dr. Mohler’s inaugural address for Dr. Jason Allen who is the new president of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City, Missouri.

“Theological education is a deadly serious business. The stakes are so high. A theological seminary that serves faithfully will be a source of health and life for the church, but an unfaithful seminary will set loose a torrent of trouble, untruth, and sickness upon Christ’s people. Inevitably, the seminaries are the incubators of the church’s future. The teaching imparted to seminarians will shortly be inflicted upon congregations, where the result will be either fruitfulness or barrenness, vitality or lethargy, advance or decline, spiritual life, or spiritual death.

How does this happen? Rarely does an institution decide, in one comprehensive moment of decision, to abandon the faith and seek after another. The process is far more dangerous and subtle. A direct institutional evasion would be instantly recognized and corrected, if announced honestly at the onset. Instead, theological disaster usually comes by means of drift and evasion, shading and equivocation. Eventually, the drift accumulates into momentum and the school abandons doctrine after doctrine, truth claim after truth claim, until the pattern of sound words, and often the sound words themselves, are mocked, denied, and cast aside in the spirit of theological embarrassment.”

I appreciate Dr. Mohler’s statement because it confirms what I have been saying all along with respect to the influence that not only the seminaries hold in affecting the future of the SBC but the other entities of the SBC as well. Many have dismissed this argument saying that I have been exaggerating the importance of their influence. Many have attempted to dismiss the obvious connection between the theological underpinning of these entities and the potential influence they hold that will as Mohler admits, “be inflicted upon congregations where the result will be either fruitfulness or barrenness, vitality or lethargy, advance or decline, spiritual life, or spiritual death.” I am glad that Dr. Mohler has himself set the record straight admitting that he fully understands the value of making sure the theological position of the various entities is essential to determining the future direction of the SBC.

My question is still the same; do we as Southern Baptists want the direction of the entities to be determined by Calvinist theology, that says God and God alone determines who will and will not be saved or do we want those entities to continue to be identified by a “whosoever will come” theology? Understand the future of the SBC is clearly at hand for the entities as well as the seminaries “are the incubators of the church’s future. The teaching imparted to seminarians will shortly be inflicted upon congregations, where the result will be either fruitfulness or barrenness, vitality or lethargy, advance or decline, spiritual life, or spiritual death.”

I believe our world is better served by a SBC that presents the gospel is the power of God unto salvation to ALL WHO BELIEVE: not all that God gives the ability to believe. May God continue to bless the SBC for His glory and the world’s benefit!

Dr. Mohler’s comments can be read in their entirety by clicking here.

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The following is an excerpt of Dr. Mohler’s inaugural address for Dr. Jason Allen who is the new president of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City, Missouri.

“Theological education is a deadly serious business. The stakes are so high. A theological seminary that serves faithfully will be a source of health and life for the church, but an unfaithful seminary will set loose a torrent of trouble, untruth, and sickness upon Christ’s people. Inevitably, the seminaries are the incubators of the church’s future. The teaching imparted to seminarians will shortly be inflicted upon congregations, where the result will be either fruitfulness or barrenness, vitality or lethargy, advance or decline, spiritual life, or spiritual death.

How does this happen? Rarely does an institution decide, in one comprehensive moment of decision, to abandon the faith and seek after another. The process is far more dangerous and subtle. A direct institutional evasion would be instantly recognized and corrected, if announced honestly at the onset. Instead, theological disaster usually comes by means of drift and evasion, shading and equivocation. Eventually, the drift accumulates into momentum and the school abandons doctrine after doctrine, truth claim after truth claim, until the pattern of sound words, and often the sound words themselves, are mocked, denied, and cast aside in the spirit of theological embarrassment.”

I appreciate Dr. Mohler’s statement because it confirms what I have been saying all along with respect to the influence that not only the seminaries hold in affecting the future of the SBC but the other entities of the SBC as well. Many have dismissed this argument saying that I have been exaggerating the importance of their influence. Many have attempted to dismiss the obvious connection between the theological underpinning of these entities and the potential influence they hold that will as Mohler admits, “be inflicted upon congregations where the result will be either fruitfulness or barrenness, vitality or lethargy, advance or decline, spiritual life, or spiritual death.” I am glad that Dr. Mohler has himself set the record straight admitting that he fully understands the value of making sure the theological position of the various entities is essential to determining the future direction of the SBC.

My question is still the same; do we as Southern Baptists want the direction of the entities to be determined by Calvinist theology, that says God and God alone determines who will and will not be saved or do we want those entities to continue to be identified by a “whosoever will come” theology? Understand the future of the SBC is clearly at hand for the entities as well as the seminaries “are the incubators of the church’s future. The teaching imparted to seminarians will shortly be inflicted upon congregations, where the result will be either fruitfulness or barrenness, vitality or lethargy, advance or decline, spiritual life, or spiritual death.”

I believe our world is better served by a SBC that presents the gospel is the power of God unto salvation to ALL WHO BELIEVE: not all that God gives the ability to believe. May God continue to bless the SBC for His glory and the world’s benefit!

Dr. Mohler’s comments can be read in their entirety by clicking here.

Baptist Press: The CNN of the Baptist World!

The following article was written by Howell Scott at From Law to Grace and is posted in its entirety here.

For a similar article from Peter Lumpkins titled “Gerald Harris, Al Mohler, and Baptist Press” , CLICK HERE.

When I was in law school at Florida State University, CNN was THE 24-hour cable news outlet. In fact, it was the only such cable news source at the time. When Operation Desert Storm commenced on January 17, 1991, I was glued to CNN for all the live, front-line news from Kuwait. In July 1994, shortly before moving with my wife to Louisville to begin our studies at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, I recovered from wisdom teeth surgery by watching the Pre-trial hearing in the O.J. Simpson murder case. Later on, I would be sitting in our basement apartment at the Seminary Guest House watching CNN’s live coverage of the ”not guilty” verdict (which doesn’t necessarily mean “innocent”) when it was handed down. As a major political junkie, I would stay up into the wee hours of the night every Election Day watching CNN’s extensive political coverage.

All the while, I always knew in the back of my mind that CNN, like most of the mainstream media, leaned to the left in their reporting. But, at least they had Crossfire, which allowed conservatives of that day to have a voice (albeit very small) on the only alternative news network to CBS, NBC, and ABC. Then, in 1996, something monumental happened which impacted (and continues to impact) journalism and news in this country — Fox News was born. On October 7, 1996, Fox News launched what would quickly become a wildly popular 24-hour cable news network that would give viewers a real news choice for the very first time.

It was not until I started watching Fox News regularly that I came to understand just how liberal CNN truly was (and is). No longer would Americans have to swallow the liberal pabulum that the mainstream media — including CNN — would try to spoonfeed its viewers. Instead, we would be offered a truly “fair and balanced” approach to news. After all, real journalism, as the late James Deakin, long-time White House reporter for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and one of my favorite professors at George Washington University taught us, journalistic reporting should be balanced, fair, and complete. Although Professor Deakin probably would not have liked that Fox News uses the “fair and balanced” label to describe their journalistic standards, he could not argue that these standards were not what he taught and what he lived by, even if his reporting got him put on Nixon’s Enemies List.

James Deakin was no conservative, but he taught this conservative a healthy respect for journalism. It is through the lens of his three criteria for objective reporting — balanced, fair, and complete — that I critique news stories. And, just because a story happens to emanate from a source that I might otherwise find trustworthy does not mean that the story gets a pass. Such is the case with the Baptist Press’ reporting on the Gerald Harris kerfuffle following his OPINION piece, “The Calvinists are here,” originally published in the (still) independent Christian Index, the autonomous Georgia Baptist Convention’s newspaper of record (see here for the article republished with proper permission granted).

Within 24 hours, Baptist Press had posted a “news” article responding to the Harris article. Entitled ‘Encroachment of Calvinism’ concerns editor, the reporter, Erin Roach, quoted four direct sources who opposed Harris’ article. These sources included Dr. R. Albert Mohler, President of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and Dr. Danny Akin, President of The Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. Both seminaries are entities of the Southern Baptist Convention. Also quoted in opposition to Harris’ article was Mike Ebert, the new NAMB’s Vice President of Communications and, Lifeway Christian Resources’ Corporate Communications Director, Marty King. Being in the business of communications, both Ebert and King sure have a funny way of trying to advance their message to all Southern Baptists. The way they responded to Harris almost makes one think that they were trying to communicate a message to a particular sub-culture within the Southern Baptist Convention.

Mr. Ebert’s response, as published in the BP article, is curious indeed. I find it quite perplexing and disturbing that Ebert, an employee of one of our entities, would call Mr. Harris — the well-respected editor of The Christian Index – “a friend who has a passion for evangelism and missions” while at the same time accusing him of evoking “the McCarthyism of the 1950′s.” Mr. King does no better, accusing Mr. Harris of publishing “false accusations without offering any evidence of their truthfulness.” In other words, Mr. Harris and the Christian Index publish lies. With friends like this, who needs . . .?

If the resources and power of the SBC’s public relations arm — which is, after all, what Baptist “Press” really is — can be marshalled so quickly to write a scathing rebuttal to the Harris piece, one would rightly assume that BP’s article would at least have the pretense of objectivity. Surely they would interview Mr. Harris to respond to an article written about him, wouldn’t they? How about one or two Southern Baptists who agreed with Mr. Harris’ article? Nope. Instead, we are treated to more piling on supporting statements from Dr. Ed Stetzer (“The Baptist Bogeyman”) and Trevin Wax (SBC Voices interview), both principal players behind Lifeway’s The Gospel Project curriculum. As an aside, why would it be necessary to ask whether contributors/advisers to The Gospel Project are Calvinists when the answer to that question is as clear as the blue New Mexico sky?

It has been five days since the Baptist Press article responding to Gerald Harris’ opinion piece in The Christian Index. I suppose that BP could write another article which would quote Gerald Harris, as well as other Southern Baptists — both pastors and lay folk — who shared Mr. Harris’ perspective about the encroachment of Calvinism in SBC life. The folks interviewed wouldn’t even have to be all Non-Calvinists. I know a few Reformed Southern Baptists who happen to share Editor Harris’ perspective. That would at least meet the minimum standards of balance, fairness, and completeness.

In a Baptist world with alternative sources of news — blogs and Associated Baptist Press come to mind — the Southern Baptist Convention’s public relations arm, Baptist Press, would do well to practice a modicum of objective reporting instead of publishing articles that appear to be nothing more than a blatant attempt to silence any opposition to the establishment. Grassroots Southern Baptists are watching. Before it’s too late, Dr. Page and others in leadership at the Executive Committee need to act to protect the continued integrity and trustworthiness of Baptist Press. Otherwise, they will be viewed as the CNN of the Baptist World. And, that’s not gonna be good for anyone!

Is There a Reformed Conspiracy to Take Over the SBC?

The following is a comment I left at SBC Voices concerning an article, titled, “Is There a Reformed Conspiracy to Take Over the SBC?” The article can be read by clicking HERE.

For the record, there is no Reformed conspiracy to take over the SBC. You are correct. A conspiracy would involve a “secretive” effort. Calvinists are way past that point and are successfully extending their reach farther and farther into SBC Life. There is a marked difference in the Convention and the entities. You are correct in your statement that the SBC is an annual meeting of messengers who vote to do or not to do certain things.

The entities of the SBC are entirely different. The trustees make decisions that determine the direction of the various entities. The trustees of NAMB elected the new President. They voted “sweeping changes” of NAMB in Feb 2011. The same thing is true of the seminaries. Trustees are responsible for the leadership and direction of the entity they are charged to oversee. Same for Lifeway. Trustee appointments are crucial to the overall health of the convention because the entities are kind of like a rudder on a ship. It may be one of the smallest parts of a ship, but it is the most important part when it comes to navigating the direction of the ship.

While I do not claim any conspiracy theories, there has been a definite effort to get key people in key positions in the various entities to give the Reformed Platform the visibility it needs to prosper and the viability it needs to persevere. To try to argue against this is ludicrous. Here is an excellent article that speaks to the positioning of key people in the seminaries, NAMB and Lifeway that are clearly and carefully charting the course for a Calvinistic led SBC. The article is titled, “Calvinism in the Southern Baptist Convention: Code RED” Most of you know I wrote the article.

Anyone who understands how the SBC works understands that those who control the entities eventually directs the future of the convention. Like it or not, it is the way it is. The Reformed minority has managed to gain control of the entities and that is reality. They have done a masterful job in accomplishing so much with so little attention on what they have done.

Although there are several conversation points on Dave’s article, I will focus mine on the following:

Dave wrote, “And that is where the problem (positions of influence in the SBC) arises. Calvinists are no longer contented to sit silently in the rear pew. Calvinism is now a real threat in the SBC to those who view the doctrine as a threat to the gospel and to Christianity. It can no longer be ignored. Those not willing to coexist with it must fight against it.”

My concern can be seen in the statement in bold above: who view the doctrine as a threat to the gospel and to Christianity.

It is crystal clear that the influential Calvinists in these leading positions clearly understand THE GOSPEL as that presented in the DOG. For the Calvinist, Calvinism IS the most consistent form of Christianity. Why should you expect me to sit back and say… I do not agree with you guys on that minor detail but hey… I can agree to disagree; let’s just all get along and cooperate and hey… it is no problem that you are teaching that to college and seminary students that are going to go into our churches and teach something that we do not believe in… there is no problem with THE GOSPEL PROJECT that is written by leading Card carrying calvinists who are not going to write literature that is inconsistent with their theological perspective… come on! We all know better!

of course I am sadly omitting the caveat here… that the reason I am not a calvinist is because I don’t really understand it because if I did understand it, I would be one. This is not an issue that I can in good conscious just “agree to disagree on.” How a person passes from death unto life is not something that I can compromise on. Here is the truth of the matter; neither can the Calvinist. The calvinist does not like my position any more than I like his. It is a fact and that is not, no never going to change!

Dave is exactly right: “There is no question that a Calvinist-influenced SBC will have a somewhat different future than a Calvinist-free SBC.” We are already seeing evidence of that in the confessional nature of the church plants being started by RT groups. The very minute the RT group knows that they can change the BF&M to reflect a Calvinist position, they will do so. I would not expect anything less. Seminary professors that are not reformed will be shown the highway. Entities will be tightly controlled and churches that send money will be probably continue to be tolerated; with the possible exception of a few that I can think of!

The cry to lay down our arms and lets all get along is ALWAYS the cry of the underdog. ALWAYS. Is there an easy fix for this situation. No. It is not going to just go away. Each side has its moral compass and its own convictions and each must stand their own respective ground. It is not a matter of one side hating the other. It is a position of conviction that each equally shares that must prevail to assure our children and grandchildren and their respective generations that the SBC will continue to carry the banner of Christ forward.

Your own That is the nature of Baptist life. Each constituency advocates its vision and whoever is in the majority sets the direction.” sums up my position as well as any. The majority is not yet calvinist. However, the direction of the convention is turning way too fast to suit me and I believe that majority that really has no idea what is going on.

Do not expect the heat to go down; my prayer is that the heat rises enough for the people in the pew to wake up and understand what is going on and decide who is going to determine the convention’s future. The non-Calvinist led convention or the Calvinist led entities.

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Calvinism in the SBC: Proposed Changes for NAMB and LIFEWAY

A lot of attention is being focused on NAMB’s funding of church plants that are being started by a number of Reformed church planting organizations. While this ought to be cause for alarm, I want to re-emphasize the point that this may not be their most critical mistake. In an article I wrote last week, I made the following statement, “Common business principles argue against focusing too much attention on new development and ignoring the core base that is financially responsible for the long term success of the organization.”

I personally believe that this is NAMB’s biggest mistake; it seems easier to go out and start new works than do the tough job of helping support works that are struggling but already viable and visible in our communities. Here is a suggestion: If a percentage of the funds that are being poured into new works, were made available to help struggling churches with additional staff members, or to help associations in conjunction with their state convention, hire people to help struggling churches with revitalization programs like the one the Florida Baptist Convention has, change could actually be beneficial in areas where it could impact communities where churches are already planted.

NAMB’s single focus of planting new churches is going to be an uphill battle to say the least. It is an admirable one. However here is the real problem I have with what appears to be NAMB’s second biggest mistake: the open practice of funding church plants that are confessionally associated with ANY church planting organization. Make no mistake about it, I am adamantly against the level of influence that Reformed Theology proponents have managed to gain in the entities of the SBC. I had no idea that they had managed to make the inroads that they have made. I knew it was coming; I had no idea the extent to which it was already here. This is the problem I have with today’s NAMB.

When I say that I am against NAMB’s funds being spent on church plants that are confessionally connected to any theological ideology that is what I mean. One of the unique identities of the SBC has been the priesthood of the believer and the autonomy of the local church. That has been usurped in the founding of these church starts. For NAMB to fund any church starts that do not have their own unique identity, is wrong. The statement has been made repeatedly, as long as church starts affirm the BF&M 2000 then they are eligible for SBC funds. This has become the Reformed battle cry of late.

It has been argued that there is little that the convention or any trustee appointees can do to curb this new trend as long as the BF&M 2000 is affirmed. That may be true where Seminary hires are concerned; it may hold true on a number of delicate issues with respect to the other entities, but it does not have to hold true in NAMB’s selection of church plants to fund. It is time for people in the pew to put a stop to this practice and reign NAMB’s open door policy back in. If any church plant has to sign a pledge to be reformed or non-reformed for that matter, then it ought to be ineligible for NAMB funds. End of discussion.

Here is another suggestion with respect to Lifeway’s new project, called “The Gospel Project.” I have voiced the plea for Lifeway to produce the project with the following name, “The Gospel Project: A Reformed Perspective.” That remark has gone virtually ignored, with the exception of a couple non-Calvinists who have acknowledged it and agreed with it.

Here is my take on that issue. Lifeway is in a tight on this one, if pressed. Their position is that there has been a “great need expressed” for a project of this magnitude. Ok. If that is true, then Lifeway ought to be willing to identify it as such so those who are supposedly “clamoring” for it, will be able to buy it. However, I do not believe that is the case at all. I believe those at Lifeway who have produced this piece have no intention of allowing the title to be changed and here is the reason why: “THEY KNOW IT WILL NOT SELL.”

If indeed this is the case, then the project ought to be scrapped before good money is spent to promote a product that has no business being in the hands of unsuspecting churches that do not want Reformed Theology literature in their Sunday School Classes. Lifeway knows the literature will sell because it is a product produced and promoted by Lifeway.

It is time to reverse the change that has already come without even a hint of permission from the people in the pew. The SBC is still a convention, a voting entity that needs to address the moves that Calvinists have made in the backrooms of boardrooms as they have managed to take control of SBC entities “without even firing a shot.”

May God bless the SBC and lead us in the direction we need to go!

Saved to Believe or Believe to be Saved?

Calvinists believe one who is lost is dead and must be regenerated BEFORE he will be able to exercise repentance and saving faith. This is commonly referred to as regeneration preceding conversion. Some argue regeneration does not precede conversion, they are simultaneous. That in all fairness is a clever sidestep that sounds good… but the fact remains, apart from God’s efficacious call that is irresistible, one will NOT be saved because Jesus did not die on the cross for those who are not regenerated and converted.

Consider the following passage in Ephesians Chapter 1. “In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.” In speaking of the irrefutable gospel, this passage says it all. Paul acknowledged their having trusted Christ AFTER hearing the word of truth, “THE GOSPEL of your salvation,” Paul said, and then notice something very interesting. Paul says, “having believed, you WERE sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise.”

It appears that several things are evident. First of all, hearing the gospel prompted a response. It is the natural progression of revelation to solicit a response. Now, he says, “having believed” indicating their response to this gospel, they were THEN sealed by the Holy Spirit. Regeneration is not possible without the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in the new believer’s heart. That is what gives the old man this new nature. Here it is clear that belief in this word of truth, which is the gospel of salvation, must be believed in order to live. God does not “make us alive so that we can believe.” It appears that this passage of Scripture settles that argument.

Grateful to be in His Grip!

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The Calvinization of the SBC

“There is no attempt to Calvinize the SBC.” If I had a dollar for every time I had heard that statement made in the last year, I could retire. Why on earth would anyone make such a claim? Let me answer that question. Things are FAR worse than I realized until this morning. I have been seeing numerous “red flags” waving opposing this statement. Understand that when I use the term “red flag,” I am not including the fact that many seminary professors, many college professors and administrators like Al Mohler are already in the lime light because of their open proliferation of the Reformed Theological Platform. While it was a “red flag” in my mind, it has not appeared to be a “red flag” to many others. And in addition to this, I am not including stories of churches that have split over the issue of Calvinism because Calvinist individuals were called to pastor non-Calvinist churches without truthfully revealing their theological differences in an attempt to correct the theological position of the non-Calvinist church they were called to pastor as they sought to lead them to be more “Biblically or Gospel centered.” I knew Calvinism was a major issue; I did not realize how MUCH of an issue it has already become.

I am writing this at 2:30 in the morning. I woke up with this article on my mind.

The First Red Flag for me: seminary graduates. A recent Lifeway report that said 1 in 3 seminary graduates are self-professing 5-point Calvinists was a “wake-up call” for me. I contrasted that alarming statistic with the same report that said that only 1 in 10 current pastors were professing Calvinists. I maintain that less than 85% of the people in the pew are Calvinist, and I really believe I am being liberal with that number. Keep this in mind, this is in addition to the fact already mentioned that a vast majority of Reformed professors are the ones teaching these future denominational leaders.

The Second Red Flag for me: (Actually there are Multiple flags: I will call them Orange Flags that lead up to the Red Flag) NAMB Actions. The First “Orange Flag.” Personally, I was disappointed at the appointment of Kevin Ezell as President of NAMB. Let me say for the record, I have never met Dr. Ezell. I am sure he is a quality individual and has been an exemplary leader and pastor or else he would not hold the position he holds. Why the disappointment with his appointment? Dr. Ezell was Al Mohler’s pastor. Whoa Nellie! What? “That is the reason you were disappointed with his appointment to lead NAMB? You are kidding right?” No. The one thing I have seen demonstrated consistently with respect to LEADING Calvinist advocates is their proclivity for association. I cannot for one moment imagine that Dr. Mohler, of all people, would attend a church that has a pastor who differs from him on matters dealing with the essentials of salvation. Dr. Mohler is a man who sincerely believes that Calvinism is Christianity and the most consistent form of Christianity is Calvinism. He is not going to attend a church, unlike a prominent national leader, and pay no particular attention to what the pastor preaches.

Now, just as I could not in good conscious attend a Reformed preaching church and did in fact leave one that I started attending when I first moved to Florida for that reason, neither would I expect Dr. Mohler to do any different. Does this mean that Dr. Ezell is a Calvinist? I suppose the answer could still be “no.” Hint number two: As I was watching all of this unfold, I have noticed conference after conference of various Reformed Church planting groups with speakers who are unquestionably Reformed in their theology (and well they should be) but guess who consistently shows up on the speaker list? Dr. Ezell. As I said earlier, one of the distinguishing characteristics of these Reformed leaders is their unmistaken, intentional tendency to associate exclusively together. So my reservation is nothing more than “guilt by association,” correct? Correct. I said it was a concern. It still is.

The Second Orange Flag for me was NAMB’s cutting of funding to COSBE, the Conference of Southern Baptist Evangelists. $90,000 is a LOT of money for a lot of folks. This is one of the first issues I took up as a blogger. I remember reading NAMB’s stated objectives concerning the importance of sharing the gospel and their efforts to support organizations that were “taking the gospel to the streets so to speak.” As I saw it, NAMB’s move was a move away from itinerate evangelism. I had been reading Calvinist’s criticism of invitational evangelism and how it was unbiblical and responsible for unregenerate church membership and this “easy believism” that is plaguing the SBC. Granted to NAMB’s defense, they made cuts in various areas and as much as half of the budget was spent on COSBE attending the Southern Baptist Convention annually and it was stated that NAMB could no longer justify that expenditure. I certainly understood NAMB’s personal response to my concern.

Understand the rest of the money went to assist full time vocational evangelists who would sacrifice personally to go to help lead churches that could not afford to have a vocational evangelist come and had no or very few baptisms recorded in recent years. Since COSBE has no budget and is made up of vocational evangelists who struggle on a weekly basis to continue what they believe God has called them to do, it seemed unfair to me to cut $90K out of a $130 Million budget, when dollar for dollar even considering the travel expenses to get to the SBC’s annual meeting was still the best bang for the buck NAMB was spending. In my opinion, it was nothing less than a slap in the face of an organization that has and still does work tirelessly to tell others about Jesus. Oh by the way, this was one of the FIRST things Dr. Ezell did as the new leader of NAMB. Add it up. Strike two against Ezell in my disappointment of his appointment. Was this move a Calvinist motivated move? Maybe it was and maybe it wasn’t. It was an orange flag for me. I now wonder if this move had anything to do with Ezell’s comments regarding the “de-nerding of NAMB”? That statement was made alongside his statement that major changes were coming to NAMB so that they would be able to free up as much money as possible so that NAMB could place more focus on church planting.

Ah, church planting at NAMB, Orange Flag number three. This has certainly been a popular topic of discussion on SBC blogs. At first I thought, OK this sounds reasonable. However, the argument that NAMB ought to be focused on strengthening the core that is providing its support and spending money to start churches in areas that have been traditionally difficult places to get church plants started may do more long term damage than good. Common business principles argue against focusing too much attention on new development and ignoring the core base that is financially responsible for the long term success of the organization. NAMB charged on.

I remember Dr. Ezell commenting that Associational DOM titles would be changed to Church Planting Catalysts. OK. Then I began noticing Reformed Groups popping up with one church planting initiative after another. There was the Acts 29 Group, then I was looking around the Founders Web Site and I noticed PLNTD, their church planting initiative. I started noticing more reformed church planting groups that were planting confessionally reformed churches. I am not going to go back and revisit all this: Google offers plenty of information for anyone concerned that I am overstating the obvious here. In reading some of the talk about this move and the implications of NAMB funds being funneled into these groups to help support the aggressive church start initiatives of these theologically connected plants, I heard the following statement made in NAMB’s defense: “You non-Calvinists do not want Calvinist preachers in your churches so what is the big deal in funding churches for them to preach in?” OK. I will let you connect those dots. Let’s go back to the initial statement of this article: “There is no attempt to Calvinize the SBC.”

Add to this Orange Flag number four, the most recent issue of ON MISSION magazine that features two church plants that are, you guessed it, confessionally Reformed and I can only assume, funded by NAMB. There are two church plants highlighted in NAMB’s magazine and both are Reformed. The two church plants are not 2 out of 10 featured; they are 2 out of 2 featured. Now, in defense of NAMB, there is no mention of their Reformed association so what is the big deal? Of course there is no mention to it; one has to do some looking to discover that seemingly insignificant fact.

The Third Red Flag for me: IMB moves. When Dr. Rankin retired as President of IMB, one of the names that quickly surfaced as a possible replacement was Dr. David Platt who spoke at the SBC’s Annual Meeting in Orlando where Dr. Rankin shared his final farewell comments .Dr. Platt is one of the leading Reformed pastors in the SBC. Dr. Tom Eliff was selected to head the IMB.

Fast forward to 2011’s Lottie Moon Promotional Video. What? Pop in the Promotional Video and here are two leading SBC pastors speaking about the importance of SBC churches giving sacrificially to the Lottie Moon Mission Offering to help the IMB send missionaries around the world. Now, how on earth could that be a Red Flag? Drs. David Platt and JD Greear are encouraging SBC churches to give sacrificially to LMCO to help send missionaries around the world. BOTH of these guys are card carrying Calvinists; they are not just casual Calvinists, they are at the top of the list. One is a former IMB missionary; both have come under fire because they pastor churches that have apparently failed to file ACP reports, which contain statistical information that help the various SBC entities gauge how they are doing as far as effectiveness is concerned.

Both are arguably missions giving individuals and pastor missions giving churches. The question is, how much do they actually give to the cooperative program to support CP work? It is one thing to be the pastor of a great missions giving church that spends hundreds of thousands of dollars on new church plants and overseas missions projects which without a doubt makes one a great kingdom work leader but that does not make him a model spokesperson for churches that cannot afford to spend that kind of money and do that kind of kingdom work themselves. This is why the CP exists. This is why the LMCO exists. The IMB most certainly has figures on the top giving churches that support Lottie Moon with their offerings and those are the guys that ought to lead the charge to encourage us to “do as they do not as they say we ought to do.” Are the churches these two men lead, leading givers? No one knows. Are they leading figures? Without a doubt. Both continue to be quality featured speakers for IMB events, along with a host of other well qualified individuals.

Ignore the statement about the ACP charges that have been discussed and debated since this material was released; the facts are, the two guys the IMB tagged to do the promotional piece, are not just leading, influential pastors, they are leading, influential Reformed pastors. That is a Red Flag for me.

Fourth Red Flag for me: Lifeway. Count the red flags: Seminaries, NAMB, IMB and now Lifeway. What is the problem here? Well there is the Vice President of Research and Ministry Development for LifeWay Christian Resources, Dr. Ed Stetzer. He is a featured speaker for Acts 29 conferences and is listed on Monergism’s site as a featured speaker and author and he is a frequent speaker at Founders Conferences.

Dr. Stetzer is the project manager for Lifeway’s newest project, “The Gospel Project.” The facts are crystal clear that everyone associated with the production and the writing of this project are not just casual Calvinists, they are confessionally and unashamedly Reformed. The project clearly states that its purpose is to provide “a theologically driven study (according to the writers) that points people to Jesus.” The “correct theology” of these individuals will no doubt be reflected in the theological position of this project. There is no reason to expect anything less here. Make no mistake about it: “The Gospel Project” will deliver everything promised and a LOT MORE.

This is alarming to me and certainly ought to send a wake-up call to the people in the pew in Southern Baptist Churches that something needs to be done about the influx of this Calvinist influence and deliberate effort to turn the SBC into a Calvinist led theological entity. Remember, Calvinists believe that Calvinism IS real Christianity. In their minds, there can be no compromise. Personally, that is the only statement in this article that I wholeheartedly agree with (the no compromise part). This is where the SBC is heading; no, sadly that is where it is TODAY! If something is not done now, not soon, but now, the SBC will see significant changes in the not so distant future, changes that are already being signaled by the entities of the SBC.

One final comment. Given the current state of affairs, I am today more sympathetic to a discussion of a name change for the SBC. It seems that this is coming, like it or not. Since Southern seems so offensive to so many, I am sure CBC may soon resonate well: The Calvinist Baptist Convention.

Maybe I will go back to bed and wake up and all this will have been a bad dream. I could only wish that was true.