Where Frank Page's Calvinist Team Missed the Mark

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Re: Where Frank Page's Calvinist Team Missed the Mark

Postby TrudyU » Sun Jun 09, 2013 6:19 pm

Ed: Keith, where any of the individuals that you name above publicly professing "Open Theism" while self identified as Southern Baptist ?
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Re: Where Frank Page's Calvinist Team Missed the Mark

Postby Sandy » Sun Jun 09, 2013 6:29 pm

KeithE wrote:The Convention this week with a report from the Page TTTTT Committee “Truth,Trust and Testimony in a Time of Tension” might prove to be interesting. Last year there were cries of heresy. So it bodes of some improvement; but I really wish the TTTTT would have explicitly brought Open Theists into their acceptable-to-work-together fold. Same goes for non-inerrantists.


Actually, you're probably more likely to find open theists in the SBC than non-inerrantists.

The SBC is always difficult to describe to those who don't have an understanding of a denomination in which the local church is independent and autonomous, and in which the geographical location of the congregation has as much of an effect on its theological stance as its connection to the convention body. The convention has drawn a theological line around the requirements for serving in leadership, which involves the most powerful elements of cooperation--the mission boards and the seminaries. But for a lot of churches, participating at the convention level isn't as important as their local ministry. I remember the "rope of sand" analogy from college days. There's a core of congregations that are denominationally identified and focused, mostly in those states where Southern Baptists are the predominant Christian denomination, the 11 states of the old Confederacy plus Oklahoma, Missouri and Kentucky. Inside that area, the membership is saturated, Baptisms are limited to disgruntled Methodists and the grandkids, and the denominational ties are strong. Outside that area, there are a lot more churches with members from different denominational backgrounds, and the influences are different. Interestingly enough, those are the state conventions that are seeing numerical growth in baptisms and membership. And that's where a lot of the Calvinists are.

The Baptists in this part of Pennsylvania have a strong Calvinist influence. There are a number of GARBC congregations, and a lot of independent Baptists that are strongly Calvinist and they constitute the majority of Baptist churches in the area. There are some former ABC-USA churches in the area among the independents, and I don't really know if they're strongly Calvinist or not. In Pittsburgh, and metro Allegheny County, the SBC churches are mostly church plants, many of them ethnic congregations, and pretty diverse, not only with Baptists from other backgrounds, but with people from other denominational backgrounds, and a core of members who were raised Catholic and didn't come to Christ until a later age. In the rural areas, and outer suburbs, about half of the SBC churches are former ABC-USA, and a couple of the ones I've visited show no Calvinist influence at all, while some in the metro area do. The priority up here, though, is not solidifying Baptist identity. It is evangelism. Southern Baptists are just now beginning to be an influence in the Christian community here, known for their stance on inerrancy, and conservative theology, and those are the things that are attracting people to the churches.
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Re: Where Frank Page's Calvinist Team Missed the Mark

Postby TrudyU » Sun Jun 09, 2013 7:07 pm

Ed: Add to my question above about when those named by Keith, where SBC, this statement from Fishers Humpherys which seems to put a bit of a twist into Keith's comment. F.H. writing for The Mercer University Center for Baptist Studies. web site.
"Open theism has been vigorously debated also in the Evangelical Theological Society. In 2001 the ETS voted 70% to 18% to affirm classical theism against open theism. In 2002 co-founder of the ETS Roger Nicole called for the expulsion of two open theists, Pinnock and Sanders. That same year a group of theologians issued a statement called The Word Made Fresh. Along with many others, I have endorsed this document, which is a plea for evangelicals 'not to reject out of hand constructive theological proposals that are reverently rooted in biblical reflection.' While I am not fully persuaded that open theism is correct, I think it is a proposal that deserves to be taken seriously, and I hope that in our churches and schools it will receive a respectful hearing.
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Re: Where Frank Page's Calvinist Team Missed the Mark

Postby Dave Roberts » Sun Jun 09, 2013 7:37 pm

Sandy wrote:In Pittsburgh, and metro Allegheny County, the SBC churches are mostly church plants, many of them ethnic congregations, and pretty diverse, not only with Baptists from other backgrounds, but with people from other denominational backgrounds, and a core of members who were raised Catholic and didn't come to Christ until a later age.


Sandy, just reading that sentence, you seem to be saying that all Catholics are lost. Is that what you meant?
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Re: Where Frank Page's Calvinist Team Missed the Mark

Postby TrudyU » Sun Jun 09, 2013 10:03 pm

Dave Roberts wrote:
Sandy wrote:In Pittsburgh, and metro Allegheny County, the SBC churches are mostly church plants, many of them ethnic congregations, and pretty diverse, not only with Baptists from other backgrounds, but with people from other denominational backgrounds, and a core of members who were raised Catholic and didn't come to Christ until a later age.


Sandy, just reading that sentence, you seem to be saying that all Catholics are lost. Is that what you meant?


Ed: Dave I do not see Sandy suggesting that, but I am interested in how you came to that conclusion.

Being raised Catholic, Baptist, Methodist or whatever, in and of itself says little about one status before God.
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Re: Where Frank Page's Calvinist Team Missed the Mark

Postby Sandy » Sun Jun 09, 2013 10:54 pm

Dave Roberts wrote:
Sandy wrote:In Pittsburgh, and metro Allegheny County, the SBC churches are mostly church plants, many of them ethnic congregations, and pretty diverse, not only with Baptists from other backgrounds, but with people from other denominational backgrounds, and a core of members who were raised Catholic and didn't come to Christ until a later age.


Sandy, just reading that sentence, you seem to be saying that all Catholics are lost. Is that what you meant?


Not at all. I know many Catholics who are as saved as I am. But in a system of ritual and tradition, there are a lot of people who associate themselves with the church, but never really come to faith. The local diocese has over 300,000 members, but in the city, the attendance is probably less than 5,000 and in the whole diocese, maybe 50,000. There are a lot of Catholics, but few who know their church's teachings, doctrine or anything about the gospel of Jesus. Generally, around here, the statement "I was raised Catholic" usually means that the person went to church on Christmas and Easter, and maybe or maybe not participated in their confirmation. They know little of the church's doctrine and practice. I've met dozens of people here who had no idea what was meant by the "gospel" but thought they were covered because they got sprinkled when they were a baby and left it at that.
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Re: Where Frank Page's Calvinist Team Missed the Mark

Postby Haruo » Mon Jun 10, 2013 12:53 am

If this is Pennsylvania, I can well believe it.
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Re: Where Frank Page's Calvinist Team Missed the Mark

Postby Dave Roberts » Mon Jun 10, 2013 7:09 am

Sandy wrote:
Dave Roberts wrote:
Sandy wrote:In Pittsburgh, and metro Allegheny County, the SBC churches are mostly church plants, many of them ethnic congregations, and pretty diverse, not only with Baptists from other backgrounds, but with people from other denominational backgrounds, and a core of members who were raised Catholic and didn't come to Christ until a later age.


Sandy, just reading that sentence, you seem to be saying that all Catholics are lost. Is that what you meant?


Not at all. I know many Catholics who are as saved as I am. But in a system of ritual and tradition, there are a lot of people who associate themselves with the church, but never really come to faith. The local diocese has over 300,000 members, but in the city, the attendance is probably less than 5,000 and in the whole diocese, maybe 50,000. There are a lot of Catholics, but few who know their church's teachings, doctrine or anything about the gospel of Jesus. Generally, around here, the statement "I was raised Catholic" usually means that the person went to church on Christmas and Easter, and maybe or maybe not participated in their confirmation. They know little of the church's doctrine and practice. I've met dozens of people here who had no idea what was meant by the "gospel" but thought they were covered because they got sprinkled when they were a baby and left it at that.


I didn't think that your sentence reflected all your theology. I just wanted to be sure you could clarify that. Frankly, the Catholic figures sound like the Baptist figures of 16-million, half of whom you can't find.
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Re: Where Frank Page's Calvinist Team Missed the Mark

Postby KeithE » Mon Jun 10, 2013 9:08 am

TrudyU wrote:Ed: Keith, where any of the individuals that you name above publicly professing "Open Theism" while self identified as Southern Baptist ?

What I said Ed was:
Fisher Humphreys, Roger Olson, Philip Wise, and Frank Tupper are among respected SBC theologians/pastors who have at least recognized Open Theism as a legitimate option and not cause for cries of heresy.

not that they “profess” OT while being a SB. While Calvinists and Arminians are attempting a mutual-work-together pledge (and promises not to call each other heretics), I was pointing out they could include Open Theists as well but probably won’t because the numbers of professing OT are low - and thus an easy mark.

But since you ask- Humphreys gave a break out session on OT at the 2002 CBF GA Read here where it says:

Also in June, theologian Fisher Humphreys helped lead a breakout session on open theism at the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship General Assembly. He said that while he's not fully persuaded that open theism is biblical, "it should be given serious consideration in our churches and schools."


I also have talked with Fisher about OT while he was our Interim in 1999 and he was quite “open” to it pointing out its positive aspects (prayer, theodicy, some biblical support).

I remember Fisher and Philip Wise did a seminar at an AL CBF about it that I attended.

Roger Olson did weekend seminar very favorable to OT. Invited my OT friends and they loved it. However I know he no longer fully supports OT; in fact his book on Arminianism says some cautionary remarks about OT and that is OK - even theologians can change their minds. I’ll relate more about this (quite interesting) but I need to go to work.

And Frank Tupper's Scandalous Grace book is all about Open Theism (w/o the term used). In the 90’s, Tupper came and wowed our church talking about open theism concepts and how it helped him through his wife’s premature death.

All of these except perhaps Philip Wise are Southern Baptists.
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Re: Where Frank Page's Calvinist Team Missed the Mark

Postby Sandy » Mon Jun 10, 2013 10:26 am

Dave Roberts wrote:I didn't think that your sentence reflected all your theology. I just wanted to be sure you could clarify that. Frankly, the Catholic figures sound like the Baptist figures of 16-million, half of whom you can't find.


I don't think the Catholic church actually tracks anything except its membership, and that means everyone who is baptized Catholic is counted. There was a blog discussion several years back in which someone pointed to figures that the Catholic church reports 62 million members in the US, but that the actual attendance was somewhere under 18 million on any given Sunday. I don't know where that figure comes from. The SBC's summary of its annual church profile submissions shows 15.9 million members, and 5.9 million in average weekly attendance. Since some people tend to be irregular in their church attendance, that means there are probably somewhere around 7 million members that the churches can actually find. The Catholic figures include a lot of people who never really associated with the church beyond their christening. I suspect that the Baptist figures reflect a lot of people who never moved their church membership, and are now either dead or attending a non-denominational church that doesn't care all that much about tracking membership, or joined a church of another denomination, or more than likely, just dropped out.

I don't believe that being part of a particular church or denomination really has much to do with a person's spiritual condition. Other than cults, I think that there are some churches, and some denominations, that make it difficult to get to the point of conviction and repentance leading to grace, and there are a few that miss the point altogether. But I think it is more a matter of personal decision, and not so much denominational teaching or theology, that leads people to become either non-resident members, or who determine to practice their own kind of faith, rather than one that submits to God.

I understand the problem that is causing the Calvinism debate within the SBC, especially as it relates to churches calling pastors and the problems that arise from those situations where the church gets a surprise it wasn't expecting. Beyond that, there isn't a visible reason that I can see as to why the two groups cannot work together and get along within the same denomination.
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Re: Where Frank Page's Calvinist Team Missed the Mark

Postby Timothy Bonney » Mon Jun 10, 2013 10:48 am

Sandy,

I believe that the Roman Catholic church may count membership similarly to the United Methodist Church. We have two categories of membership, Baptized members and Professing Members. Professing members are those who have been confirmed in the church or joined the church as adults after the usual age of confirmation.

The Roman Catholic Church also has confirmation as the time when, ideally, persons in the church make a personal commitment to Christ. I think their terminology is slightly different than my own Church but the idea is largely the same.

I know some evangelical Christians are suspicious of the idea of an organized program such as confirmation for making a commitment to Christ. The idea seems to be that God has to tap you on the shoulder and tell you it is time to make a profession. My interpretion of scripture is that NOW is the time for salvation and any time a person wants to profess faith in Christ they can and should do so.
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Re: Where Frank Page's Calvinist Team Missed the Mark

Postby Timothy Bonney » Mon Jun 10, 2013 11:03 am

On the subject of how churches count membership, I don't think any of us of any denomination have very acurate membership rolls. The Baptist churches I served were very reluctant to ever remove inactive membership from their roll. So while they didnt count participating children in their roll they did count many many inactive folks that we'd not seen in many years and may be either at another church or no church.

United Methodists do purge their rolls on occassion but also not as often as it would really keep the rolls accurate though we have very accurate lists of "baptized" and "professing" members.

So I really don't think that the RCC is due for extra criticism for how they count membership since we don't do much better anywhere else as Protestants.
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Re: Where Frank Page's Calvinist Team Missed the Mark

Postby Sandy » Mon Jun 10, 2013 1:35 pm

http://www.baptiststandard.com/news/bap ... n-64-years

William notes that Calvinist churches in the SBC have baptism numbers that are similar to those of Non-Calvinists, so the decline isn't the result of creeping Calvinism, though I don't think a lot of people are convinced of that. The numbers are unsettling to Southern Baptists, as they should be. And the gap between membership and attendance is pretty high.

I'd say that it is time for everyone in the SBC to get out of their theological discussion, and back into one about what is happening to evangelism.
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Re: Where Frank Page's Calvinist Team Missed the Mark

Postby Dave Roberts » Mon Jun 10, 2013 1:51 pm

Sandy wrote:http://www.baptiststandard.com/news/baptist/15156-baptisms-in-sbc-down-to-lowest-number-in-64-years

I'd say that it is time for everyone in the SBC to get out of their theological discussion, and back into one about what is happening to evangelism.


The SBC problem with evangelism is simple. Evangelism has always been something you do, an emphasis at church, a big crusade, or a splashy weekend. Evangelism is not something to do--it has to be who we are. Baptists have long been too concerned about getting people into heaven and not concerned enough about getting heaven into people. To evangelize in this world, heaven must get into the lives of people. Theological statements and politics will never cut it. Until we are all willing to bring God's kingdom into our lives, people will not be worried about getting into the kingdom.

I've been through all the evangelism emphases between the late 1960'and the early 1990's--Lay Evangelism School, Evangelism Explosion, Continuing Witness Training, One-Day Soul Winning Workshop, Sunday School Enlargement Campaign, and a couple whose names I have (thankfully) forgotten. Each worked briefly, but none changed the Baptist culture bent on getting folks' tickets punched for heaven and into following Jesus' command to "make disciples." Evangelism depends on "disciples," not programs or 16-million. By the way, this is the same problem in CBF churches--not theology but discipleship.
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Nashville Tnseean nailed it

Postby Stephen Fox » Mon Jun 10, 2013 3:59 pm

Saw it pretty much in full as an AP story yesterday, Sunday Gadsden Times, Judge Roy Moore's backyard

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Re: Where Frank Page's Calvinist Team Missed the Mark

Postby Jerry_B » Mon Jun 10, 2013 4:25 pm

The report to me would get a no vote because it doesn't really say anything. There is a lot of dancing around the real issue facing SBC churches concerning Calvinism. It has a "can't we just all get along" feel to it.

It will get passed however and the conflicts will continue. SBTS will still not use the BF&M 2000, which just ticks some people off. Congregations will continue to have to choose between male only elected pastoral dictatorship as "taught" by Patterson and his like or the you're not mature enough or male enough model being "taught" by Mohler and his like.

They have managed to use a lot of words and but actually say anything useful.
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Re: Where Frank Page's Calvinist Team Missed the Mark

Postby Sandy » Mon Jun 10, 2013 4:44 pm

Dave Roberts wrote:
Sandy wrote:http://www.baptiststandard.com/news/baptist/15156-baptisms-in-sbc-down-to-lowest-number-in-64-years

I'd say that it is time for everyone in the SBC to get out of their theological discussion, and back into one about what is happening to evangelism.


The SBC problem with evangelism is simple. Evangelism has always been something you do, an emphasis at church, a big crusade, or a splashy weekend. Evangelism is not something to do--it has to be who we are. Baptists have long been too concerned about getting people into heaven and not concerned enough about getting heaven into people. To evangelize in this world, heaven must get into the lives of people. Theological statements and politics will never cut it. Until we are all willing to bring God's kingdom into our lives, people will not be worried about getting into the kingdom.

I've been through all the evangelism emphases between the late 1960'and the early 1990's--Lay Evangelism School, Evangelism Explosion, Continuing Witness Training, One-Day Soul Winning Workshop, Sunday School Enlargement Campaign, and a couple whose names I have (thankfully) forgotten. Each worked briefly, but none changed the Baptist culture bent on getting folks' tickets punched for heaven and into following Jesus' command to "make disciples." Evangelism depends on "disciples," not programs or 16-million. By the way, this is the same problem in CBF churches--not theology but discipleship.


Those programs kept a lot of good ole boy Baptists employed, though no one ever seemed to notice that denominational emphases and top down programs weren't the reason why the churches were reaching people in the 50's and 60's.

The cultural background that allowed the programs to see partial success for a while no longer exists. The "lost" are a couple of generations away from church involvement now, and many of them don't have a frame of reference. Revamping the worship service into a more contemporary format does bring in people, though usually only those from congregations who don't have the means to revamp. Most mega churches are just sit and listen entertainment centers where people come for an hour or so a week, go, and are not affected much by what happens. Churches need to figure out how to be the church in community again in this culture. Those who have done this are thriving, and they are generally congregations not accepted by the status quo of denominational leadership, in almost any denomination.
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Re: Where Frank Page's Calvinist Team Missed the Mark

Postby Timothy Bonney » Mon Jun 10, 2013 10:21 pm

Sandy wrote: Churches need to figure out how to be the church in community again in this culture. Those who have done this are thriving, and they are generally congregations not accepted by the status quo of denominational leadership, in almost any denomination.


I agree with much of what you said until you got to the following. United Methodists are thrilled with a church that has figured out how to prosper in our current culture and we regularly lift up those persons as leaders. I honestly don't know why any denomination would be in opposition to a thriving church.
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