Posted by: Robin Foster | December 2, 2007

Fear and Blame Part Two – Calvinism

In this post I revealed how the events over the past couple of years has taken place. The strategy has been to spread fear and point blame. Recently, there was a building bridges conference that focused on Calvinism. From the accounts I read and some of the audio recordings, I felt it helped in bringing those on both sides of the issue to a better understanding of each other. In other words, some of the fear that has been spread was eased through open dialog at this conference. I for one support and will thank Lifeway Resources and Dr. Danny Akin for seeking reconciliation between two view points rather than continuing division through fear.

I am really surprised at whom the fingers are being pointed. Dr. Paige Patterson has been seen as an evil by some who wish to promote their fear and blame strategy. Yet, in a paper he authored that will be released by SBC Today, Dr. Patterson will make a plea for Calvinists and non-Calvinists to cooperate so that the SBC will not, like some of our Baptist ancestors, drift into hyper-Calvinism or Universalism which will quench the fire for missions and soul winning. In an interview at SBC Today, Dr. Yarnell explained the dangers of classic Calvinism as found in the reformers and Hyper Calvinism. Yet, while not himself a Calvinist, Dr. Yarnell says there is room for a Baptist form of Calvinism that was seen in people like Fuller, Carey, Spurgeon, and B. H. Carroll. When we have positive building bridges conferences, and God-honoring statements from non-Calvinists like Dr. Patterson and Dr. Yarnell, what is there to fear? For those who continue to spread fear that Calvinism is next on the chopping block, there is a conversation taking place that will help all of us in the SBC understand what is at stake.

What is at stake is our unity at the tactics of fear and blame. So here is my solution, let us focus on respectful dialog that seeks understanding rather than dissension. Over and over again we see satan using fear and God-dishonoring dissension to keep His people from being unified in mission and purpose. May we not fall victim to this brand of fear.

In my last couple of posts, I have had a very respectful conversation with two bloggers that don’t see everything as I do. I have been blessed because I have understood their position and have been able to articulate my thoughts better. Let’s focus on conversations that are God-honoring and not fellowship dividing. Let us focus on understanding each other rather than setting private agendas that create division and a shut-down of communication that dishonors God. Let us focus on being the people He has called us to be, accomplishing the mission He has set before us.

When positive, God – honoring discussions have taken place, why should we wrestle in the fear slop of satan?



  1. Robin,

    Thanks for these comments….. I like the one. “What is at stake is our unity at the tactics of fear and blame. So here is my solution, let us focus on respectful dialog that seeks understanding rather than dissension.”

    Aiming for understanding is wisdom brother! Thanks again,

  2. Chris

    Thanks! I did not know how this post would be taken. I was hoping that everyone would see it as you have.

    From personal experience, I found that when I sit down and talk to someone who disagrees with me, I gain wisdom. The Building Bridges conference on Calvinism was an opportunity to do this. I would suggest that those who have vilified Dr. Yarnell to sit down with him and discuss what he believes about this. A great resource if you don’t want to call, is the interview Tim Rogers did with Dr. Yarnell at the conference on the web site.

    The first step is to cease being the bull dog of attack.

  3. Robin,

    Thank you for your own project of irenic bridge-building between Calvinists & NonCalvinists, my brother.

    While there may be some NonCalvinist bloggers who’ve gone on the ‘offensive’ toward some of the Calvinist contributors of the conference–though admittedly, I have not yet read them–I remain confused that some of the more influential Calvinist bloggers already aimed their trusty arrows at some of the NonCalvinist contributors and editors.

    One caricatured Dr. Yarnell a type of ‘Barney Fife’ while another described the NC editorial as a ‘misrepresentation’, ‘warped perspective’, ‘distorted report.’

    Why we cannot say ‘What he saw, I didn’t’ or ‘conclusions she offered seemed flawed’ rather than employing such emotive descriptors as ‘distorted, misrepresented, warped’ I haven’t a clue. Each of these adjectives conjures up, at least in my mind, either dishonesty or uninformed ignorance, neither of which are healthy if one is attempting to cooperate and ‘build bridges’.

    Not to mention padding the ‘critique’ with insulting suggestions that Dr. Yarnell, an accomplished theologian, is a Barney Fife buffoon–the caricature of which comes from a junior theologian at best. It’s difficult, at least for me, to accept as sincere, an offered hand to cooperate with others when the others have fingers crossed behind their back.

    I’m still processing this thing. I hope to have a post on it soon.

    Grace, Robin. With that, I am…


  4. Robin,

    Good post, and based on our prior conversation, it should be taken in the right spirit by all who read.

    I believe you are correct regarding the Calvinism issue. I only wish this kind of spirit could also permeate discussion on Baptism and other issues that have been debated lately, not only here, but also in other. less amicable ways and places. I also wish it could take place without the restrictive rules that favor one side.

    All in all, I think we should learn to trust our local churches to make these doctrinal decisions rather than Boards of Trustees. This to me, is the root issue.

    I too agree that the interview with Malcom Yarnell sheds a lot of light on who he really is. I am certain his introverted personality often causes him to present himself in a way he would rather not.

    If we could get past attempts to legislate out those who agree with the BFM2K but differ with us on other issues, I think all parties would learn to ignore the extreme voices on both sides.

  5. Amen well said Robin.

  6. Right on Robin,….

    I like your comment….“All in all, I think we should learn to trust our local churches to make these doctrinal decisions rather than Boards of Trustees. This to me, is the root issue.”

    We are to make disciples because of the gospel….That is the mission!

    O Timothy, guard the deposit entrusted to you. Avoid the irreverent babble and contradictions of what is falsely called “knowledge,” for by professing it some have swerved from the faith. Grace be with you.
    (1 Timothy 6:20-21)

    There is nothing more powerful than the church that is in union with Christ.


  7. Chris

    Before you praise me too much, that was Joel that made that comment.


    You said this, “If we could get past attempts to legislate out those who agree with the BFM2K but differ with us on other issues, I think all parties would learn to ignore the extreme voices on both sides.”

    I can only assume that you think that any doctrinal issues outside of the BF&M should be moot when it comes to the agencies of the SBC making decisions. Is this true?

  8. oops…. sorry Joel,

    You guys must be twins…. 🙂

    Blessings everyone!

  9. Robin,

    In general yes, you understand my position correctly.

    Obviously there would be “non-doctrinal” issues that might come into play (for example, the weight limitations for prospective IMB personnel.)

    But where doctrinal matters are concerned, I do believe the BFM2K is sufficient. That isn’t to say I haven’t been inconsistent in the past. And I will admit that the recent issues at IMB have caused me to re-think a lot of issues.

    As another example, I have no problem with the Abstract of Principles, and personally, I’m glad its affirmation is required at my alma mater of Southern Seminary. Nevertheless, I realize that to be consistent, I would also have to be in favor of the Abstract being removed as a doctrinal standard at Southern (unless the SBC as a whole approves its use).

    Although personally, I would have a hard time with this, I also understand that the Calvinist position on election is in the minority in the SBC, and as such, believe it should be perfectly acceptable for a professor to teach at Southern who denies this article of faith, provided he affirmed the BFM2K.

    The question over the last few months has been “Is the BFM a minimal or maximal standard?” My answer to that question is YES. One of the problems in the SBC is that we have no clarity on what it really means to be a Southern Baptist. As a result, trustee boards can run wild if they want with new policies and guidelines, and we can even have entities that contradict each other. Then guys like you and me are found here in the field, with one side crying foul and the other saying “the trustee system is working as it should.

    Please know that I’m not defending the doctrines that have been excluded by the IMB. Personally, my position on glossolalia is identical to what the IMB has delineated. But I also cannot in good conscience be in favor of someone being excluded from missionary service simply because they have a different view than I on that issue, anymore than as a Reformed guy, I would want someone excluded because he or she doesn’t share my view of election.

    I hope this clarifies where I’m coming from. I do believe that by and large, decisions like this should be made by the churches themselves. If we can’t trust the churches (as a whole, and within the bounds of the BFM) then I’m not sure there is much reason to allow any of our SBC entities to continue existing.

    Of course, my biases should be clearly revealed. As a DOM, I’ve experienced the good, bad and ugly. For the most part, the latter two of those three always resulted from the denomination, at any level, seeking to make decisions and execute actions which belong to the church alone.

    As all this relates to your post: I think you are “spot on,” I just wish, along with Calvinism, our theological dialogue could be equally as gracious in other areas not covered in our common confession.

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