The Sharp Divide: How to deal with it

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by Herald, Dec 1, 2012.

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  1. Herald

    Herald
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    If the level of rancor and vitriol on this board is any indication of how pronounced the divide is in the Church between those who hold to the FW position or the DoG, the question is how to deal with it? There's no divide in Presbyterian or Reformed churches since the DoG is a settled issue. The same with Wesleyan, Anabaptist, or self-proclaimed Arminian churches. These churches are firmly in the FW camp. In Baptist circles there are those groups that are decided on either side of the debate. Free Will Baptists and most fundamental baptists are FW. Primitive Baptists and Reformed Baptist are DoG. That said there are still quite a few Baptist churches that have no official allegiance either way. One only has to look at the SBC to see the war that's been raged over the issue. I once thought the issue was going to be settled by a split; the Founders churches forming their own group and the the FW churches remaining in the SBC. Fortunately, or unfortunately, that has not happened. The battle keeps raging on within the SBC with no clear end in sight.

    So, how should this issue be dealt with? It is my opinion that an individual church cannot abide both teachings, especially if both positions are being advocated from the pulpit. God is not the author of confusion, and confusion from the pulpit will not help anybody. Working towards unity is nearly impossible because the issue is core to an entire belief system. How may vocal FW'ers on this board would place themselves under DoG teaching and vice versa? I daresay that most of us would not choose to be a member of a church on the other side of the tracks. I know I couldn't. I suppose if a FW church was the last church in town, and I was providentially hindered from attending a like-minded church, I would have to consider attending, although I would never join that church. But that's an extreme example.

    I believe it's best to separate peacefully and join with a like-minded church. The result would be less rancor and harm to the body of Christ. There are exceptions, but that's why they're called exceptions.

    Thoughts?
     
  2. 12strings

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    You mean people argue about Calvinism...ON THIS BOARD???!!!!
    I hadn't noticed...

    ANYWAY...

    I think I will disagree with Herald. I think the Baptists are in a unique position as being one of the few denominations that does not have a stated position on this issue, Which, despite the rancor, I believe can be a good thing, encouraging us not to think we are the only "real" Christians.

    Examples:
    -SaturnNeptune & Tom Butler's church seems to have peace with differing views.

    -My current (SBC) church: We have 4 calvinistic pastors, maybe 5% (or less) really calvinistic members, 10% real arminians (5-pointers), and the rest probalby have no idea (so, most likely 4pt. arminians with eternal security). We have had some good (& civil) SS class discussions on Election & predestination, and probably many of the most involved members know we are Calvinists, or at least believe in predestination...but it has not caused hardly any problems (5.5 years so far with no staff changes). Some of the members will make fun of us from time to time for being Calvinists, most never mention it. Our Pastor will sometimes sound like a Calvinist, and sometimes not, depending on the text at hand. There was one older man who became upset and stayed home for a few weeks upon finding out about the calvinism thing, but the pastor went and talked to him and he has been a great church member ever since...without changing his view on the issue.
    -We have had a few members joining from nazarene churches, and we simply told them our view on eternal security, and said that is what we were going to teach, and they were free to disagree and still be members as long as they were not attempting to teach the opposite view.

    -I currently meet monthly with about 10 pastors to talk about pastoral ministry, theology, and pray together...there are usually 8 calvinists and 1-2 non-calvinists. We have a great time together, and often the non-cal says the most helpful things.

    -If I (mostly calvinistic) were in a city or town with 9 liberal protestant churches, 1 reformed Baptist church that was dying off and had no passion, and one God-fearing passionate, Gospel-preaching Free-will church, I would be at the last one, probably even join.
     
  3. 12strings

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    I will say I currently know a church in a neighboring town in which the deacons and a few other prominent members are have basically asked their Calvinist Pastor if he believe he can stay there if 90% of the church doesn't want a reformed church. It is a valid question, and though there have been some tense conversations between this pastor and some of his members, he reports that their latest meeting (specifically called to discuss this issue) was thankfully very civil and non-accusatory, simply raising the issues.

    So in that case, the church is not kicking him out, but it is likely that he will not be a long-term pastor there.

    So notch one for Heralds view...

    BUT... like any conflict, there is not just one issue...each person involved in a disagreement must take responsibility for the fuel he throws on any fire.
     
  4. saturneptune

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    The best thing to do with Calvinist vs free will threads is to ignore them. Having grown up as a Presbyterian, most of the posts on this board supporting Calvinism do not begin to understand the issue. Aside from that, most have no idea of the character of the man whose name was used to label DoGs.

    Since we have autonomous local churches, there is no solution to the problem. This is not a debate in the Presbyterian Church.
     
  5. Herald

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    Please. I'm not seeking "notches" or agreement. I appreciate your first post in this thread. My church went through a similar metamorphosis. We began as a FW church and slowly turned toward the DoG. Eventually the entire church leadership embraced the DoG. It resulted in an exodus of good people that disagreed with the new theological position. Thankfully their exit was with dignity and without ill will. During the transition period between FW and DoG our church had a split of opinions. Eventually the DoG became the majority view.

    Maybe I can amend the OP to recognize some sort of co-existence between the two views in churches that are not settled on the issue. But once a church is settled on the issue would the pulpit in the church really allow for two polar opposite views of soteriology?
     
  6. Herald

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    LOL Obviously you're not ignoring them.
     
  7. 12strings

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    You are correct that having two pastor teaching opposing things on consecutive Sundays would be very confusing to a church, and not helpful...
    I do wonder if DoG/Reformed Baptist churches will allow new members who dissagree with their reformed soteriology, but still want to join...I don't know, I may e-mail my reformed-pastor friend and ask.
     
  8. 12strings

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    I would argue that the vast majority of Baptists who have studies enough to come to the place where they are willing to call themselves "calvinists" DO know about John Calvin, both his involvement in the Execution of Servatus, and his piety...and they simply realize that we can learn truth from fallen, sinful men...Calvin, and the Anti-semite Luther.
     
  9. Herald

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    They do (we do). A person who does not believe in the DoG is allowed to join our church. The only caveat being that they understand what our church teaches, and they cannot teach/advocate differently without facing church discipline.
     
  10. saturneptune

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    It is not just his act of murder. It is his writings on infant baptism, and to me, most of all, his writings on the seperation of church and state. Yet, when he was head of state of the city-state of Geneva, he created a theocracy, in direct opposition to his own writings. There are many other issues, but that is another thread.

    Ask yourself, why is there no debate in the Presbyterian church on this issue, but, within the Baptist faith, it is a constant debate as evidenced on this board. The nature of a collection of local autonomous churches suggests the argument will never be solved. So why engage in the debate. There is no central authority to decide who is right.
     
  11. Herald

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    Presbyterianism started with their theological convictions settled. They have a binding document in the Westminster Confession of Faith that explains their doctrinal distinctives.

    As far as whether to engage in the debate, that decision has long since been made. The debate is being thrust upon denominations and individual churches. In the OP I mentioned the Southern Baptist Convention. Try putting that ship back in the bottle. IMHO one of three things will happen within the SBC. 1. The DoG will become the dominate position and the FW churches will split off. 2. FW will remain the dominate position and the Founders churches will eventually split off. 3. Both camps mutually agree to split.

    Some churches won't have to worry about a debate. They're settled on their soteriology and they'll respond viscerally to any new teaching. Proof of that is seen in how individuals on opposite ends of the debate treat each other on this board.
     
  12. Herald

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    And by the way, Calvin is not the founder of the DoG. He was simply an eloquent spokesman on the topic. Because of his eloquence his name is often identified with the DoG. I, for one, choose not to identify myself with Calvin, mainly because I do not agree with his position on infant baptism and new covenant membership. The term "DoG" best describes what I believe.
     
  13. HeirofSalvation

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    I tend to agree with the notion of peaceable dis-association.......I harbour no "ill-will" towards my Calvinist brethren, and I know we shall see one another in glory.......But I cannot abide the differences in Theology.

    I assume, they also cannot abide my difference with them.

    IT WOULD NOT BE BAD......IMO... for the SBC to peaceably dis-associate on this one. It is inevitable IMO. Amos 3:3

    I wish my Calvinist Brethren all the best, and I assume most of them wish "Free-Willers" like myself all the best. But, this issue is too fundamental and too critical. It simply happens to be the question of our time.
    My Prediction:

    The SBC will (quite peaceably) split on this issue within a decade.......I also have no problem with that.
     
  14. Aaron

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    You are exactly right.
     
  15. Jerome

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    Did the so-called DOG people take your advice and leave at that point?
     
  16. Herald

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    Jerome, our church was started as a plant from a larger church in our state. We were a collection of diverse people without a real identity. Our sending church gave us financial support but nothing else. Unbeknownst to them, or us, some of the future leaders of the church either were DoG or had strong DoG leanings. People of like mind have a way of finding each other out, and this was no exception for those of us who believed in the DoG. Had we been an established church this never would have happened. We had a dynamic that was playing itself out. Within three years of our start it was obvious that our church's identity was finally revealed. Most established churches don't have this dynamic.
     
  17. Herald

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    I agree. One of the reasons why the SBC hasn't split already is the seminaries! Neither side wants to cede these institutions to the other. When in doubt follow the cash and Real Estate!
     
  18. Jerome

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    I'm sorry. When you said you began as a FW church, I thought you meant you began as a FW church.
     
  19. Herald

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    In that we were p-l-a-n-t-e-d by a FW church. That doesn't mean everyone involved in the plant shared the same conviction of our sending church. Those diverse theological opinions came out soon enough.
     
  20. Herald

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    Jerome, I'm glad you piped in because you validate the premise of the OP better than I ever could.
     
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