Another Question for Pastors

Discussion in 'Pastoral Ministries' started by StefanM, Sep 14, 2006.

  1. StefanM

    StefanM
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    The other thread got me thinking:

    For the Calvinist ministers on the BB:

    Do you openly state your position for the search committee?
     
  2. PastorSBC1303

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    I consider myself calvinistic, but not a full blown 5 point calvinist. I openly shared that with my current church.
     
  3. Lagardo

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    I am not a calvinist. I am not an arminianist. I do not think all theology is either one or the other. If I have to be on the spectrum, like many bapstist, I am certainly more calvinist than arminian, although neither camp would want me.

    That being said, it was the first question I was asked, so yes, I discussed it with the search team. I have heard a lot of churches in conflict when a pastor preaches on election and did not state his calvinist leanings to the search team. He is then accused of having hid what he beleived, decieving the church, until he could reach a point of winning them over.

    This is often an unfair accusation. I'm not saying that some pastors have not held something back or even lied about somthing, only to bring it before the church later. I've seen this with everything from Calvinism to worship styles. But more often, the situation is more about poor communication than it is about deception. If a pastor wrote "I believe and preach strongly on the Doctrine of Grace" he may feel he has been very clear about his Calvinist leanings, whereas a search team may not have picked up on the buzzwords.

    IMHO, the problem is too often with a search team going through a checklist, rather than truly trying to get to know and understand a candidate, or worse, asking no questions about theology and doctrine at all. Regardless, I would consider a great many possibilities before assuming and/or accusing a pastor of being deceptive.
     
  4. Hope of Glory

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    I'm much the same way. Since Calvinism and Arminianism both have some of it right and some of it wrong, I, like Paul, am neither. And I can back it up with Scripture, if I feel so inclined.
     
  5. Major B

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    The first time I talked to a search committee, I told them, "I am a Calvinist." There was a long pause, some nervous looks, and the chairman said, "well son, we aren't concerned what your politics are...". I did not go there.

    Later, when I was pastoring at another church, a deacon who was always looking for a fight with whoever might be the pastor, said, "I've been told that you were a Calvin Five." I withstood the temptation to laugh, but I asked him if "The Calvin 5" was a Presbyterian singing group. (He did not get the joke.)


    With another pulpit committee, I told them that I was a Calvinist, that I believed in the Trinity, etc., but the chairman said, "What we really want to know is where you stand on divorce, where you stand on liquor, where you stand on the Baptist Bride, where you stand on alien immersion.

    I did not hang around there, either.
     
  6. Major B

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    As in Packer's illustration, I am an "only point" Calvinist--God Saves Sinners.
     
  7. David Lamb

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    I've never heard of the term "search committee", but if it means what I think (a group of members of a particular local church, appointed to make enquiries about a potential new pastor), I feel it would be better to check much earlier whether the "applicant" agrees with the theological stance of the church. Providing applicants with copies of the church constitution and doctrinal basis would probably indicate any big difference between applicant and church, such as the applicant being Calvinist (or reformed) and the church being Arminian, or vice-versa.
     
  8. StefanM

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    Yes, that is what I mean.

    In America at least, many (possibly most) Baptist churches do not have statements of faith that would exclude either 5 point Calvinists or 4 point Arminians.

    In my denomination (Southern Baptist Convention), all varieties can exist (except for full 5 point Arminians). Since most churches adopt the convention's statement of faith, you can't really tell until you speak with the churches.

    Some search committees have prospective ministers fill out questionnaires, and that helps, but not all do that.

    Of course, some Arminian-leaning churches may have an unwritten rule that no 5 point Calvinists will be called, but I have seen Calvinist churches be more explicit about their soteriology.
     
    #8 StefanM, Sep 16, 2006
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 16, 2006
  9. Hope of Glory

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    I had a couple like that. I wasn't even "searching", but someone had heard me preach and had heard the rumor that I might be moving, and their churches contacted me. The questions began about theological viewpoints, but then digressed into the "how do you feel about shorts", "how do you feel about women in pants", etc., variety, and all I could do was shake my head and send a simple, "I think you're looking for someone else" type of answer. (I never figured out why someone who liked my preaching was attending such a church; I can only assume that they know someone who knows a church that was looking.)
     
  10. Pastor Larry

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    Any search committee worth its salt will ask for a personal doctrinal statement very early on. That will reveal it. Any obfuscation or talking out of both sides of one's mouth (i.e., "I am neither") would certainly lead to more questions. In addition, looking at a man's current ministry with their doctrinal statement will also help.
     
  11. Hope of Glory

    Hope of Glory
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    And just why exactly would you consider rejecting unbiblical, man-made doctrines such as Calvinism and Arminianism, as being "obfuscation" or "talking out of both sides of one's mouth"?
     
  12. Joseph_Botwinick

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    I have a question for ministers who are free will arminians:

    When you interview for a search committee at a church, do you openly tell them that you are an open theist?:laugh:

    Joseph Botwinick
     
  13. LeBuick

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    Naw, we lie to them. Now how is that for a pastors interview?
     
  14. Joseph_Botwinick

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    Double Post. Sorry.
     
    #14 Joseph_Botwinick, Sep 16, 2006
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 16, 2006
  15. Joseph_Botwinick

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    LeBuick,

    You are right. It does not feel very good when the same charge of dishonesty that is being leveled at Calvinists is turned around and put back in the open theists face:

    Link

    Joseph Botwinick
     
  16. Pastor Larry

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    You have asked several different questions here. I will try to answer as clearly as possible.

    First, equating calvinism and arminianism with "man made doctrines" is a non-starter. They aren't doctrines at all. They are labels that summarize a particular position on soteriology. So I reject all man made doctrines as doctrine. I do not reject legitimate systematization/correlation of biblical truth (e.g. pretrib, post trib, amill, premill, calvinism, arminianism, baptist, presbyterian, etc.).

    Second, rejecting one or the other is not obfuscation. Obfuscation occurs when one refuses to plainly say what he believes. If you say, "I am neither," you are obfuscating the real issue. What a church wants to know is not the label, but the belief. Generally, when people say "I am neither," it is becasue they are arminian in their foundation. Very rarely will you hear a Calvinist say that.

    Third, talking out of both sides of one's mouth occurs when one says "I am neither." On this issue, there are really only two positions: 1) God elects individuals to salvation without respect to anything but his own purpose; 2) God does not elect individuals to salvation without respect to anything but his own purpose. To say you don't believe either is to somehow create a third category between "does" and "does not." I have no idea what that category would be.

    Everyone fits one or the other. Preoccupation with a particular number of points is unhelpful. The issue really turns on election. If you believe God elects on foreseen faith, or elects corporately, or some such, you are an arminian in teh broad scheme of things. That doesn't mean you accept every arminian point. (BTW, many arminianistic people are in reality pelagians, but that is another issue.)

    I am a Calvinist because I beleive the Bible teaches that God elects individuals to salvation without respect of persons, but wholly of his own purposes. Someone who believes that God elects on the basis of foreseen faith is an arminian.

    This topic unfortunately raises the dander becuase of misconception, misunderstanding, false statements by both sides, and fear of man. If you understand the basic systems of correlation, you fit into one or the other, unless you are a univeralist or an open theist.

    I still don't get the hesitancy to simply say what one believes. My only conclusion is that people fear man. The funny thing is that you will see someone espouse arminianism in everything they say, and then deny that they are one. It just makes me laugh.

    I think in an interview, you ought to say what you are. It should be plainly stated in your doctrinal statement. You shouldn't be afraid to say it.

    Here is the question I would ask: Do you beleive God elects individuals to salvation from eternity past without respect to anything but his own purposes? If you say Yes, you are a calvinist, or at least cavlinistic. If you say No, then you are an arminian, or at least arminianistic.

    Here, we give prospective missionaries a questionnaire. If someone answers, "Neither" to this question, they are automatically rejected. That answer shows me that they either don't understand the issues, or are afraid of saying what they actually believe. I will be willing to sit down with them and explore the issue with them, if they desire. But I won't accept "neither."
     
  17. Pastor_Bob

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    Larry,
    Although you and I would disagree in this area, I appreciate your well thought-out response. :thumbsup:
     
  18. Bro Tony

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    Very curious---the strong indictment on those who refuse to aligned themselves with either calvinism or arminism. I have met many pastors who would fall into this category, including myself, and I would not considering any to be "talking out of both sides of their mouth". I guess when one takes an all or nothing stand on a man-made theological approach the only way they can justify anyone not standing with them is to falsely defame them. That some feel there is only two ways to approach the biblical understanding of salvation is not my problem, it is theirs. I will just stick with the Scripture--thank you very much.

    Bro Tony

    BTW--back to the OP. I certainly would share right up front my theological understanding of salvation with any search committee and would ask them to share with me theirs.
     
    #18 Bro Tony, Sep 16, 2006
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  19. Pastor Larry

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    The "indictment," if such it could be called was not about refusing to align. It was about refusing to acknowledge it. You are aligned with one side or the other. It is impossible not to be. You either believe God elects sovereignly, or he does not. There is no middle ground between "does" and "does not."

    First, I have taken no stand on a man made doctrine. I clearly answered that above. So don't "falsely defame me" (to use your words). Second, I have falsely defamed no one. Again, read my response above to try to understand what I have said.

    So help me out here. What is the third option between 1) God elects individuals to salvation without respect to anything but his sovereign purpose, and 2) God does not elect individuals to salvation without respect to anything but his sovereign purpose. What is the middle ground between "does" and "does not."

    That's how I became a Calvinist. It was simply too clear to ignore any longer. Thank you very much. :D

    I would much rather prefer to be called a biblicist since that is what I really am. Unfortunately, some have co-opted that name to describe their arminian tendencies. Furthermore, "biblicist" is ultimately unhelpful because everyone claims to believe the Bible, and uses the Bible to support it. So the lables developed in history to describe beliefs about what the Bible says.
     
    #19 Pastor Larry, Sep 16, 2006
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  20. Bro Tony

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    Bro Tony
    PS--Thank you for your response, I know this will go no where but I am glad for a place to share.
     
    #20 Bro Tony, Sep 16, 2006
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