Tuesday, April 24, 2007

We use words like honor, code, loyalty. We use these words as the backbone of a life spent defending something. You use them as a punchline.

Yesterday I had the privilege to meet with Dr. Paige Patterson, president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

I had remarked before (He's a good man ... and thorough) about being impressed in a meeting where he addressed us homiletics professors at SWBTS, but this was a nice one-on-one chat.

I was impressed by his pastoral nature, expressed in warmth and concern for me and my family, seeming to be genuinely interested.

I enjoyed the conversation on a intellectual level, but also a personal level, including hearing some firsthand reflections on Dr. W.A. Criswell, pastor of First Baptist Dallas for over 40 years.

I was also impressed by his knowledge of classical rhetoric as we discussed my dissertation area, but I won't bore you with the details of Aristotelian persuasion or Cicero's "Canons" of Rhetoric.

We discussed a bit about the presence of both the Reformed & Revivalist (or Calvinistic & Arminian) in the SBC and the benefits of one to the other. He made an observation that I'd never really thought of with regard to what happened with the Baptists in England. They split as Particular & General Baptists, where the Particulars eventually succumbed to hyper-calvinism and the Generals eventually succumbed to universalism and then Unitarianism.

In other words, the tension in the SBC helps keep both groups in check. It may be an overstatement, but the one helps the other with a focus on doctrine while the other helps the other with a focus on doing evangelism.

Dr. Patterson would not consider himself a Calvinist (however, not necessarily wearing the label of Arminian either), but his goal is not the eradication of Calvinists from the SBC, any more than the goal of the more Reformed being to eliminate the Arminians.

Incidentally, if you're not familiar with the 2006 dialogue that Dr. Patterson had with Dr. Mohler (president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary), I heartily recommend it (listen or order audio).

In it Dr. Mohler warned against a concern with regard to Calvinism. I agree.
“There is a tendency toward a debating personality or a confrontation on these different points of theology. It’s healthy to study God’s word to find out what the gospel is. It is not healthy when a person would drive across the state to debate Calvinism, but won’t drive across the street to share the gospel.”
While a contentious spirit is arrogant and ugly, anytime you have those with widely divergent theological views (particularly with regard to soteriology) discuss the topic in a warm and honest manner, everybody wins. Such is rare in discussions of Calvinism & Arminianism, but these two friends demonstrate and represent a health approach of Southern Baptists to discussion our theological differences in a manner of love and respect, for each other, for the Bible, and for the Lord Jesus.

I said all that to say this, I am grateful for the time I got to spend with a man whom Southern Baptists should respect and appreciate the vital role Dr. Patterson played in restoring to the SBC the inerrancy of Scripture. I am grateful that, while president of the SBC, Dr. Patterson initiated the the revision process of the Baptist Faith and Message (2000), which, among other things, strengthened the role of the Bible in our lives. There is still work to do, however, in living under the inerrant Scripture, not just affirming it (i.e,. Sola Scriptura).

The more liberal/moderate in the SBC would lament the conservative resurgence, often even mocking the defense of inerrancy of Scripture. The words we might use to describe that which we value, others might use as a punchline. We need to be grateful for men like Drs. Criswell, Mohler, and Patterson, men passionate in their love for Christ which drives their actions. We also need to pray as we have great need for more men like them in the SBC in the future.

P.S. I've just learned that Dr. Patterson has garnered vast criticism for his comments in chapel (4/18) at SWBTS regarding the VT shootings.
"My own perspective is that Christians – who believe that heaven is their real home and that they are prepared for eternity as result of a life changed by Christ – are even more obligated to act courageously and sacrificially. And I am still just old-fashioned enough to believe that men are responsible to protect women and children."
Who could have a problem with that?! I put that in the category of, "Be a man."

I remember when my dad was stationed at Fort Hood back in the day some goon starting shooting up the Luby's in nearby Killeen. We didn't have the option available to us in Texas to carry a concealed weapon and I know of at least one who had one in the car that day who would have been able to handle up, for the gunman had to reload before he shot her parents.

Isn't that courage? Isn't that heroism?

Isn't that what happened on United flight #93 on 9/11? Remember ... "Let's roll!"

Sure, nobody thinks such will happen, but Dr. Patterson calling on seminary students to be willing to lay down their lives for others .... how can that be wrong? (cf. John 15:13)

7 Comments:

At 24 April, 2007 17:09, Blogger M. Jay Bennett said...

Phrase for the day: PC

This is a bit simplistic:

"We discussed a bit about the presence of both the Reformed & Revivalist (or Calvinistic & Arminian) in the SBC and the benefits of one to the other. He made an observation that I'd never really though of with regard to what happened with the Baptists in England. They split as Particular & General Baptists, where the Particulars eventually succumbed to hyper-calvinism and the Generals eventually succumbed to universalism and then Unitarianism."

It makes for good rhetoric but not good history.

Also, how do we suppose mutually exclusive ideas relate to one another in a healthy way? Is Calvinism really void of evangelistic awareness? Really?

I appreciate the irenic spirit. We should always strive to live peaceably with everyone, regardless of theology. That much I applaud.

 
At 24 April, 2007 19:38, Blogger GUNNY said...

I would agree it's a simplified way to put things, but not necessarily overly simplistic.

I don't think Calvinism is void of evangelistic awareness, but that is the impression Baptists have. We of the more Reformed persuasion have to work that much harder to try to change the reputation.

I happen to think there is laziness with regard to evangelism in the SBC, regarless of being more Arminian or more Calvinistic.

The reputation is there because
(1) to the non-Calvinist it seems the logical consequence, though that's never really made logical sense to me. Knowing that all the Father gives to Jesus will come to Him, motivates me to tell them to come to Jesus.

(2) William Carey had to fight against the hyper-Calvinists and few know the difference between the two. Of course, Calvinists should have a good reputation because Carey, the father of the modern missions movement was one, but never let the truth get in the way of a stereotype (see also George Whitefield and Charles Spurgeon).

(3) There are Calvinists who can be found who appear to talk more about evangelism than they do it. However, this is not limited to the Calvinistic folks.

My contention is that the Reformed believer should be more energized to do evangelism, knowing the power of the Gospel and that God's Spirit will regenerate to enable them to believe in (choose, if you will) Christ.

My theory is that evangelism is seldom done by SBC church folk for a variety of reasons, but a theology that trivializes the means of conversion has never been one I've seen or heard.

Most people don't evangelize because they just don't care that much about (a) the souls of others, (b) the glory of God, or (c) both of the above.

Folks may say they don't know how to evangelize, but if they cared about (a) or (b), then they would learn.

I really wanted to get a Harley and ride it. Rather than let it sit in the garage, I took a motorcycle training class, because I really wanted to ride.

Those who really want to evangelize will find a way, even if they're wrong, they'll be doing it.

 
At 24 April, 2007 23:17, Blogger GUNNY said...

Posted at the end of the post, but here as well ...

P.S. I've just learned that Dr. Patterson has garnered vast criticism for his comments in chapel (Wednesday, 4/18) at SWBTS regarding the VT shootings.

"My own perspective is that Christians – who believe that heaven is their real home and that they are prepared for eternity as result of a life changed by Christ – are even more obligated to act courageously and sacrificially. And I am still just old-fashioned enough to believe that men are responsible to protect women and children."

Who could have a problem with that?! I put that in the category of, "Be a man." I remember when my dad was stationed at Fort Hood back in the day some goon starting shooting up the Luby's in nearby Killeen. We didn't have the option available to us in Texas (then) to carry a concealed weapon and I know of at least one who had one in the car that day who would have been able to handle up, for the gunman had reload before he shot her parents.

Isn't that courage? Isn't that heroism?

Isn't that what happened on United flight #93 on 9/11?

Remember ... "Let's roll!"

Sure, nobody thinks such will happen, but Dr. Patterson calling on seminary students to be willing to lay down their lives for others .... how can that be wrong? (cf. John 15:13)

 
At 25 April, 2007 06:43, Blogger Lance said...

Yes. When I saw Patterson's pic, I thought you were going to comment on his recent remarks.

It's comical to me that our media freaks out when someone says, "Sacrifice yourself to save others," especially when that person is called to challenge Christian leaders to be more like Christ.

Seems to me that Patterson was simply saying, "love as Christ loved."

 
At 25 April, 2007 07:41, Blogger Rev. said...

Back in 1980 a gunman barrelled into FBC Daingerfield, Texas, yelled out, "This is War!" and began shooting. Half a dozen men tackled him and forced him out of the door. Several lost their lives.

That generation understood duty and self-sacrifice. Our generation has been feminized, quite frankly. I'm with Paige on this one. Man up!

 
At 25 April, 2007 07:41, Blogger Rev. said...

BTW, Happy Birthday, Eric!
(April 25)

 
At 25 April, 2007 10:13, Blogger Rev. said...

Lance, the media folks are like that because they "can't handle the truth!"

 

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