Victims of Soteriological Dishonesty

Discussion in 'Calvinism/Arminianism Debate' started by Revmitchell, Feb 20, 2014.

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  1. Revmitchell

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    Reprinted below is a letter I recently received from a Southern Baptist layperson struggling with the changes taking place in her church. Following the letter is my reply. Certain details have been removed in order to protect her anonymity. From time to time, all churches face conflict in making decisions and seeking God’s will, but the special sense of betrayal felt by this woman appears mostly related to two issues. First, during his candidacy, her Pastor denied his reformed theology. Second, reforms were not implemented openly as one might anticipate in a church business meeting, but quietly and secretly, behind the scenes, almost imperceptible to the majority of church members for whom theological discernment is simply not a gift.
    Letter From Soteriological Dishonesty Victim:Hello. I’ve checked out your site multiple times. I’m looking for help or support from like minded individuals. I live in a small town and we recently got a new pastor. After some strange suggestions of Bible study materials, I started to question the theology of this new pastor. My search lead me to your web site as well as an SBC state convention.This whole new Calvinism thing is new to my area and it seems to be infiltrating my church and no one seems to be noticing. We’ve had several guest speakers now that are most certainly reformed in their theology and without voting for it we are now using reformed resources for Bible study materials. My church is not even batting an eye. Most people aren’t even noticing. Either the deacons are blind from the glamor or they are flat out lying about what they know.

    Our pastor told our church that he wasn’t a Calvinist, and our church asked no other questions. Do you know anything about a certain reformed organization? All I can tell is it seems to be overwhelmed by many well known Calvinists. I don’t even know what my question is for you, or what kind of advice I need. We love our church family, and I’m not opposed to the fact that people have reformed theology, but those people shouldn’t be my pastor… and they shouldn’t be deceiving and lying to our church about who or what they are. Any help here? I’m afraid I’m appearing like a crazy lady off her rocker—so I wish to apologize for the crazy.

    My Response:

    Thank you for writing. Sadly, your story is repeated frequently in Southern Baptist life these days. We receive many letters and emails similar to yours, in which people express their shock and dismay at the changes that have taken place in a church they may have loved and served for a lifetime. We realize the pain caused by such spiritual subterfuge.

    Let me assure you that you are not off your rocker at all. In fact, those of us who point out publicly the existence of such secretive Calvinist reforms are unfortunately susceptible to a common secondary attack—namely, the charge that we are actually conspiracy theorists for pointing these things out—which only adds insult to injury, allowing Calvinists so inclined to dismiss our concerns and not take them seriously.

    Although you are resting quite solidly upon your rocker, your church is most certainly being quietly reformed. Rarely is the decision to enact these reforms brought before the church for a vote, since the motion would be unlikely to pass. Instead, the typical reform strategy includes the two characteristics you mentioned:

    A CALVINISTIC PASTOR who deceives the church into believing he is not a Calvinist when in fact he really is one, probably by means of some obscure redefinition so that he does not consider himself to be lying. For example, an Amyraldist is a Four Point Calvinist rejecting Limited Atonement. He could say, “I’m not a Calvinist. I’m an Amyraldist.” While technically true that he is not a Five Point Calvinist, such a Pastor still would embrace Calvinistic determinism with regard to election and irresistible grace, thereby denying free will. In my view, it is less than honest for him to deny his Calvinism, but it is nevertheless prevalent. He may reason that if he told a church what he believes up front, the church would not call him to serve—a concern that is frankly quite justified! So he hems and haws his way into a pulpit, creating a situation bound to explode once people with firmly Traditionalist doctrinal commitments learn the truth about the secret reforms taking place.

    A MINISTRY SHIFT that quietly takes place without anyone questioning it or even seeming to notice. Suddenly there are a plethora of Calvinist speakers, Bible Study materials and training videos. By the way, all of the titles, authors and websites you mentioned are most certainly Reformed in their theological orientation. You are not making this up. Your Calvinistic Pastor is definitely reforming your church. The fact that he never stood up in a Business Meeting and said, “Let’s shift our congregation doctrinally toward Calvinism” only confirms in my mind that this is exactly what he is doing. He is following their typical modus operandi perfectly. This is a textbook case. Be on the lookout for other possible signs as well: (1) developing an Elder Board if you do not already have one, (2) refusing to report congregational information on the Southern Baptist Annual Church Profile, (3) a more heavy-handed exercise of church discipline in dealing with critics, (4) a change in missions support diverting funds away from the Cooperative Program and toward the mission boards and various church planting organizations, and (5) the absence of altar calls in church or an invitation for someone to pray a Sinner’s Prayer expressing their faith in Christ.

    As your church moves forward, it will either address this reform attempt or it will not. Either way, there will be some painful days ahead for every person in your church who cannot in good conscience embrace this new direction. Should you decide to find a new church home, below is a list of Pastors in your state who have signed the Traditional Statement. Rest assured they harbor no doctrinal secrets. If I can be of any further assistance, please let me know.
    - See more at: http://sbcvoices.com/victims-of-soteriological-dishonesty/#sthash.k68QmxBF.dpuf
     
  2. kyredneck

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    "...This whole new Calvinism thing is new to my area and it seems to be infiltrating my church and no one seems to be noticing. We’ve had several guest speakers now that are most certainly reformed in their theology and without voting for it we are now using reformed resources for Bible study materials. My church is not even batting an eye. Most people aren’t even noticing...."

    Wow, sounds like things were churning along right peacefully; I suppose you'll do whatever in your power to put a stop to that!
     
  3. JonC

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    Potential pastors should be honest about their beliefs when applying for a pastoral position. I certainly see an objection when the pastor to be adamantly denies Calvinistic beliefs only to guide the church into a Reformed view. It is dishonest. This is my concern. Many churches in the SBC do not have an official stance on Calvinism. Do you teach Scripture even if your interpretation and teaching contradicts the view of many in the congregation, or do you teach what they want to hear?
     
  4. pinoybaptist

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    I agree.
    Christ certainly did not do his teaching in secret.
    Neither did Paul.
    Personally, I would rather have 5 out of 500 follow me out from error, than use stealth to teach truth just to maintain "numbers".
     
  5. HAMel

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    The heart is extremely deceitful to say the least. Even sometimes from those who claim to be of God.

    Off topic a bit but I once attended a small church where the new pastor proposed a New and up-to-Date set of by-laws. He passed his proposal(s) out for review and then requested all the copies be returned to him.

    The church then voted for the proposal. All seemed well.

    A few weeks later we were all issued copies of the new by-laws with different language basically turning all control over to the pastor. In short, he owned the church.

    ...I had made a copy of the original copy and kept it.

    Okay, back on topic of the thread.
     
  6. Aaron

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    The soteriology isn't to blame. Sounds like a dishonest man to me, and the strategy employed seems to be one of the purpose-driven stealth strategies.
     
  7. quantumfaith

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    I agree 100%. As someone who has experienced this very thing within the last 5 years. Churches should have conversations about where they stand soteriologically. Perhaps some open honest debate conducted by Association Missionaries who make all attempts to be "fair and balanced" in presentation of the comparisons and contrasts to different views of theology. Then the people of each church, after some personal preparations can make informed decisions about what they wish to communicate, and how much "diversity" they will permit within their own congregation. Nothing is lost having a conversation on such matters.

    My personal experience was that approximately 100-150 families departed the church for other local SBC churches, and many to the church that we settled in, Wiregrass Church.
     
  8. thisnumbersdisconnected

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    What's "peaceable" about lying to the congregation? Can you tell us how you feel about the pastor's apparent dishonesty in revealing his theology during candidacy?
    I believe, indirectly, it is to blame. The pastor obviously didn't believe he would be called if it were known he is a Calvinist. Therefore, he knew his soteriology is unpopular. Therefore, the lack of general acceptance for his soteriology is to blame for his dishonesty.
     
    #8 thisnumbersdisconnected, Feb 20, 2014
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 20, 2014
  9. Earth Wind and Fire

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    My question is, How stupid was the congregation for not checking this guys background more thoroughly & asking more pointed questions of the man? I'm sure with some do diligence, it could have been exposed. But perhaps there are elements of the congregation, seems more so the group selection committee, that have some of their own unrevealed agendas to put the church on the track.
    This only happens in blended churches like the SBC anyway......serious Calvinists need to get their own church & stop messing around.:smilewinkgrin:
     
  10. OldRegular

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    I believe in the Doctrines of Sovereign Grace but I am not a Calvinist. It is certainly plausible that a Baptist pastor would make the same distinction that I do.

    Of course Southern Baptists Churches are getting as close to baptizing infants as possible so who knows!
     
  11. Earth Wind and Fire

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    Out of curiosity, how does a pastor take over ownership of any given church. I mean if its a congregational organized with trustees. Right.
     
  12. OldRegular

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    My experience is that most people will not ask a candidate anything about his beliefs. I have never served on a search committee for a pastor but many, many years ago I was on a search committee for a youth pastor. When I started asking potential candidates about their beliefs certain other members "secretly" asked the pastor to sit in on our interviews. In fact we had one candidate to which the committee extended a call. He refused the call because he did not like my questions!

    I have an elder brother in the Knoxville area who has served on pastor search committees. He has had the audacity to ask candidates about their conversion experience much to the "horror" of other members.
     
  13. OldRegular

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    In the SBC it seems that pastors can usually do as they please unless they mistakenly offend one or more of the "power brokers" in the congregation!

    I can say from personal experience that those who oppose the pastor on any issue quickly fall out of favor in the congregation.
     
  14. thisnumbersdisconnected

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    How can they claim to have done their due diligence if they don't ask about the candidates' beliefs?? That's the height of stupidity, in my opinion.
     
  15. sag38

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    Sounds like something that happened at Dauphin Way Baptist Church in Mobile a few years back. The new pastor came in with a hidden agenda and nearly destroyed the church. He went so far as to say that if you didn't adhere to the five points then he doubted your salvation as if the Romans 10:9 says, "That if thou shalt call on the name of the Lord Jesus and believe.....and, oh, by the way, adhere to T.U.L.I.P., thou shalt be saved.

    I respect the man's choice of theology but not his dishonesty. He will answer for his subterfuge, not to me, but before the Lord God Almighty. All pastors need to be careful as to how they handle Christ's bride.
     
  16. OldRegular

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    I obviously was not one of the "power brokers". However, the pastor that I would sometimes oppose stated, correctly, that the congregation could get more upset over cutting down a dead tree than they would over a theological issue.

    About the only thing many SBC members will get upset about is if you question the pre-trib rapture.
     
  17. Earth Wind and Fire

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    These are SBC churches you are referring to correct?
     
  18. JonC

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    I think that this goes back to the pastor being dishonest. We have not had the issue that is presented here (as related to soteriology), but I have seen this happen often with different issues. We had a candidate who was selected for pastor based on his view and direction of the church. Turns out he left off the part where the church would be divided into three distinct worship groups (traditional, rock, and contemporary), evening worship would be cancelled, and the church would assume a more culturally acceptable atmosphere. He was pastor for less than a year, but tore the church apart during that time. Had he been forthcoming he probably would not have been selected, but if he were still selected it would have been a different matter – the church would have known what they were getting.

    I have seen this quite often in the music ministry (particularly at the dawning of contemporary worship styles). Having attended several traditional churches, it seemd that each time a new minister of music was called the church transitioned from traditional to contemporary over a time frame. The candidate leads worship as the congregation expects, but once he is chosen the music shifts to what the minister feels appropriate regardless of the congregation. This typically angered a small few, and in each case the minister was a godly man – but the change was snuck in after confirmation as worship leader. (BTW, I have absolutely no problem with contemporary worship music…except when I don’t know the words or the occasion when the songs are “un-sing-able” by a congregation reading from the big bad screen up front).

    But my point is that it is not a soteriological issue, it is a hidden agenda issue that can extend to other areas of the ministry. Probably the most damaging is when it is a hidden agenda for the direction of the church that conflicts with the congregation’s understanding. The cure is to be honest and forthcoming (which applies to the pastor and congregation).
     
  19. saturneptune

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    It does go back to the pastor being dishonest, and he ought to be banned for life from being a pastor. However, it is the sacred duty of the Search Committee and congregation to completely vet the candidate to whatever degree is necessary. Also, if he gets past that and has lied, the congregation needs to boot him out the front door. All it takes is one vote.
     
  20. Earth Wind and Fire

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    Why, isn't the guy human and just as apt as anyone to sideways up? If he does, then who holds him accountable ....or does he get a pass? Seriously are we not headed into the bizzaro world of the RC church where the priest can do nothing wrong and he isn't accountable?
     
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