Expect More Anti-Calvinism Rhetoric


From  my limited perspective, it seems to be slowly becoming a fad for churches to do anti-Calvinism Conferences.  For example, the upcoming SBC president Johnny Hunt's church First Baptist Woodstock recently hosted an anti-Calvinism conference with some pretty big wig evangelicals (see here).  

When I received my latest copy of the Wester Recorder, there was an add that took up an entire page of the paper entitled, "Meeting the Calvinist Challenge: A Conference for All Those Seeking Biblical Answers to the Challenge of Calvinism."  It's being held at Clear Creek Baptist Bible College on October the 4th from 9:00am to 3:00pm.  

Here are the topics that will be addressed: 
1) Introduction to Calvinism
2) Calvinism's Effect on the Public Invitation 
3) Does the Gospel of John Teach Unconditional Election?
4) Questions to Ask Prospective Pastors

That last one is the one that scares me most.  

Someone else has written a more extensive blog about it here and here.  


Someone else (North East Reformation Society) who graduated from Clear Creek Baptist Bible College has given some thought to the conference here.

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Blogger The North Eastern Michigan Reformation Society said...

Thank you for bringing attention to Clear Creek's anti-calvinism. I hope that they will get the point that not everyone hates Calvinism, and they'll stop treating them as subchristian.

The North Eastern Michigan Reformation Society also has a blog concerning Clear Creek's conference.

Sat Sep 20, 07:51:00 AM  
Blogger Bradley said...

Let us also hope also that Calvinists won't respond to the hostility by demonizing Areminian Christians.

Sat Sep 20, 12:15:00 PM  
Blogger Bradley said...

oops ... i misspelled Arminian (sorry)

Sat Sep 20, 12:16:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Here are the topics that will be addressed:
1) Introduction to Calvinism
2) Calvinism's Effect on the Public Invitation
3) Does the Gospel of John Teach Unconditional Election?
4) Questions to Ask Prospective Pastors
That last one is the one that scares me most."

Why? Why would anyone want to veil or hide their doctrinal beliefs from pulpit committees?

Sat Sep 20, 06:25:00 PM  
Blogger Bradley said...

I never said anything about people needing to hide their beliefs, although I can think of some situations where it might be best to not wear them on your sleeve for the sake of keeping the focus on the gospel and unity.

The last one disturbs me because It seems to indicate that Baptist Christians would need to "screen" to make sure they don't hire any Baptist Calvinists. It appears to me as theological snobbery. It's divisive.

I'm a Calvinist, but the majority of the staff at my church are not Calvinists. I love these people, and we do ministry together in the bond of unity. Unity in the gospel is downplayed when differences between Calvinists and Arminians are taken to the level where the mentality is to divide--"You Calvinists minister at your Reformed Churches over there, and we will keep our staff Calvinist free and do our Arminian ministry over here."

I'm tired of the division.

Sat Sep 20, 11:52:00 PM  
Anonymous John Jacob said...

But shouldn't churches know where a man stands theologically before calling him? And shouldn't he be more than glad to share his convictions? If I am being interviewed by a church, and do not let them know clearly where I stand on the doctrines of grace, how far am I from lying from them? Are the doctrines of grace something we should hesitate to publicly proclaim? Is there any question about my theology I should not be anxious to answer?

Mon Sep 22, 07:55:00 AM  
Blogger Bradley said...

Open and honest about beliefs? Yes.

But what should be most important to a staff looking for a pastor is not ultimately whether that potential pastor is a Calvinist or Arminian. In fact, one thing I would look for in a potential pastor is a sense that the potential pastor understands how relatively unimportant this in-house debate among Baptists concerning aspects of Arminianism and aspects of Calvinism actually is in the grand scheme of things. Too much importance (especially for seminary students) is placed on Calvinism among Calvinists, and too much importance is placed on Arminianism among Arminians (and probably especially among those potential pastors who have gone to Seminary's that promote and teach Arminians).

I don't wear my Calvinism on my sleeve at my church, although on occasion it does come out (and I'm honest about it when people ask). I try to be careful not to bring unnecessary tension to the unity we all have in the gospel, and not distract from our mission in the inner-city.

Calvinism hasn't become less important to me. The Gospel has simply become more important to me.

Mon Sep 22, 01:31:00 PM  
Blogger paulharris said...


I am an alumunist of clear creek(sad to say).

I am a pastor in Georgia and have been teaching reformed theology without using the theological words that so often cause controversy; So I believe that we as Christians can teach our doctrines without revealing ourselves as Calvinist's as such. Not to say that if I am asked if I am a Calvinist; I would proudly respond YES!!!

I've read some of your blogs about the 5 questions that need to be asked to prospective pastors and I want to comment;

The five questions are not so much to find out their theology but to see if they are Calvinist or not. You need to understand that this school does not believe in a monergistic form of salvation; furthermore for the most part they are "opentheist" because they say if God truely knows all things then we don't have "free will"

So the problem I see at the school is not so much about Calvinism as it is about free will/Sovereignty of God and the absolute knowledge of God!!!

You need to understand that the school is more concerned with love and unity than they are about true Theology of the Bible.

And for the questions: what would they ask:

Do you believe in the Sovereignty of God?

Do you believe God knows all things?

Do you believe we are saved by "grace alone" in "faith alone" by "God alone" by "Scripture alone"?

Do you believe that Christ's dying on the cross was a complete success? (a professor at the school taught in class that Christ's death was NOT a 100% successful because everyone is not saved; because they misinturpret 2 Peter 3:9; and teach that God wants ALL people to be saved)?

Do you believe that in order for one to be saved they must be born again and drawn by the Spirit before you can repent and excercise faith?

your brother in Christ
Paul Harris

Wed Oct 01, 09:39:00 AM  
Blogger Bradley said...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts brother Harris.

So ... are you saying that the leadership of Clear Creek, and those who put on the conference openly Open Theist's?

Wed Oct 01, 11:14:00 AM  
Blogger Bradley said...

instert the word "are" between "conference" and "Open"

Wed Oct 01, 11:14:00 AM  
Blogger Bradley said...

i meant "insert"

Wed Oct 01, 11:15:00 AM  
Blogger paulharris said...

They will not confess it but their teaching says other wise.

The school use to be conservative; with both Calvinist and non-Calvinist teachers.
However since then they have weeded out the conservitives (Calvinist/non-Calvinist) alike.

Most recently they wanted a professor to denounce his whole Calvinistic belief and he could stay and teach. Other wise he would be asked to leave; Thank God he took the stand as Luther did and said I cannot with good conscience deny my beliefs in the true Scripture.

At another meeting between the president and the faculity; the school wanted the faculity to sign off to teach what was contained in a doctrinal package...in which they had to sign without READING IT...this in turn was the final straw that confirmed and ultimately caused the last consertive professor (non-CALVINIST) to leave the school.

One of the professors even confessed to me that he would rather be called a pelagian than a Calvinist.

And when asked by a student if everone was welcome to the school except calvinist; the accademic dean replyed YES...

They even have new students that come into the school sign a contract that they will not not be or promote Calvinism.

So I would ask why wouldn't you put on your website that you are not true historical baptist and that you will not permit Calvinist at the school; and I believe the reason they don't do that is they may loose money (which I believe is the true love of the school).

And when they outwardly make comments such as God does not exaustively know the future.

And even teach in the class that salvation is brought on by both man and God(synergism) however they will not say what percentage each one contributes. But they feel it necessary to defend the free will of man.

At the school they are more concerned about unity, love, and free will than to just teach the Scriptures.

I believe the reason that they don't openly admit to open theism is that they are in fear of losing contributions from the KBC.

Within the last few years they have backed open theist such as; Boyd and Pinnock.

The theology teacher that was there when I attended the school was an open theist; and because of pressure from the KBC they gave him the choice to leave or be dismissed.

Your brother in Christ

Wed Oct 01, 11:57:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The synergism/monergism argument really doesn't have a real application in the issue of whether or not one ascribes to the calvinistic view of God's grace. If you are totally financially bankrupt and I offer you help from untold millions in my vault, does your acceptance of that gift constitute any merit of earning on your part?
...John Jacob

Sun Oct 12, 04:17:00 PM  
OpenID theophilogue said...

John Jacob,

You make an excellent point. However ...
ergos is the Greek word for "work" not "earn"

Sun Oct 12, 04:46:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Where I grew up, that's the way you earn things - you work for them. But if you need a strict translation, let me re-phrase:
If you are totally financially bankrupt and I offer you help from untold millions in my vault, does your acceptance of that gift constitute any work on your part?
...John Jacob

Mon Oct 13, 08:17:00 AM  
Blogger Bradley said...

it really all depends on how you define "work"

if work = bodily work then ... No
if work = anything you do ... Yes: you accept

The question is whether God leaves it up to you to accept the "untold millions," or whether he so influences your heart that you inevitable choose to accept the untold millions.

Wed Oct 15, 01:11:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Exactly. I personally do not think of decisions as ergonomic. But to argue the etymology and exact meaning of that word is really meaningless since it is not part of any scripture relating to this issue. Like the Institutes, it is man's commentary on the real issue, which is the question you very accurately phrased. Many reformed theologians have tried to throw the stone of "You don't believe in monergistic regeneration," which is really saying nothing. The term is not scripture and is open to interpretation, but it serves well to make the views of others sound heretical. I'd like for us to drop our facade of man-made terms and use simple language. Most Baptists, Calvinistic or not, do not believe they contributed anything to their salvation. Isn't that really the heart of the matter?
...John Jacob.

Wed Oct 15, 11:42:00 AM  
Blogger Bradley said...


Your right. What's most important is that we all believe the gospel, not whether we use the term "synergism" or "monergism."

I am a 7 point Calvinist, yet I believe that since man must "do" something to be saved--namely believe and repent--and is not wholly passive, salvation can be considered synergistic in a very real and biblical sense. This can even be spoken of as "co-operation" with grace if you like (like many Catholics do). So ... I could agree with what Calvinists mean by "monergism" (i.e. ultimately it's all God's supernatural work that irresistibly and effectually draws a sinner to faith and repentance), yet at the same time I could agree with what some Catholics and non-Calvinists speak of as "synergism" (that man must himself "do" something to be saved, namely, repent and have faith), and that man is not wholly passive in the act of salvation, but "co-operates" with God's grace in this sense.

Thus ... the labels are tricky. It really all depends on what you mean by them. There is actually a difference between Calvinists and Arminians; it's not all just word games. Nonetheless, it's not the difference between Christianity and non-Christianity; between Heretics and Orthodox; etc.

What's most important is that the believer understands that he/she did not earn his/her salvation, but that it was a gracious gift from God, and everyday they must rely on God's supernatural grace to empower them unto good works. It's all by God's grace. I think most Arminians can agree with that.

Even our "works" are by grace. Therefore, even salvation "by works" (no matter how you define "works") could be held consistently with the principle of sola gratia---by God's grace alone. Who would say that all our good works after conversion are done in our own power?

It's not just salvation thats by grace, the whole Christian life is by grace. All good works are done by God's grace. Thus, if a Christian believes in salvation by works, yet believes that those works were done by the mighty un-earned grace of God working within them ... they believe the same gospel the Pre-Reformation church believed in, and this does not make them heretics or non-Christians or any such thing (unless we want to also consider St. Augustine a heretic and non-Christian.

Wed Oct 15, 12:24:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is good stuff! Now let me continue in your line of discussion - taking up at your last words. ...and if someone believes that salvation is by grace alone, given by God upon the moment of faith to ones totally underserving and unable to save themselves, but also believes that same God also (in His sovereign way) would choose to accept and honor a response of "No" from that sinner to His offer of salvation - that person is neither heretical nor uninformed (Nor Catholic nor Armenian). That person just thinks Calvin was wrong on some points, and Arminius went too far in his reaction to his former mentor Calvin, and that the Synod of Dort was just another well-intentioned but imperfect act of man.
Been Fun!
...John Jacob

Wed Oct 15, 12:43:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just out of curiosity to Paul:
You said that you have been teaching reformed theology without using the theological words that so often cause controversy and without revealing yourself as Calvinist, but that if asked if you were a Calvinist, you would proudly respond YES. Again, just out of curiosity concerning church attitudes - what do you think would be the reaction if you said from the pulpit Sunday morning, "Jesus did not die for every person. Jesus died only for those chosen by God to be saved." Do you think your people are there yet?

Wed Oct 15, 01:03:00 PM  
Blogger Marvin Merriweather said...

I think Paul Harris is a bitter man with an axe to grind against Clear Creek. Amazing how he wanted to get a job at a school he believes to teach heresy. lol

Mon Nov 09, 08:16:00 PM  

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