Tuesday, May 30, 2006

More on Frank Page

Today, Baptist Press News released another story about Southern Baptist Convention presidential nominee Frank Page. The story can be found here. Earlier, I posted on Brother Page's views on Calvinism. For that post, click here. Let me say that after reading this release from the BP, I am enthused. I like this guy. He seems exactly the kind of SBC president that we need. I kept finding myself muttering "yes, Lord" under my breath at each treatment of issues. And then we came to the issue of Calvinism. Page continues to show errors in his understanding of Calvinism. In the article, we find this paragraph:
"Page said he expressed his belief that “God has foreordained the ‘how,’ not the ‘who.’” Those foreordained in Christ become the chosen elect people of God, he added. Noting that Reformed pastor John Piper’s books are among the most read books on seminary campuses, Page said the movement is huge and growing -- “bigger than Texas,” he stated. “We must have honesty about this issue. There are churches splitting across the convention because pastors are coming in quietly trying to teach Calvinism or Reformed theology without telling the pastor search committees where they stand. The vast majority of Southern Baptist churches are not Calvinistic in their theology and it’s causing some serious controversy.”
I'm disturbed by two quotes here. First, God has foreordained the "how," not the "who." Those foreordained in Christ become the chosen elect people of God. Huh? Has my reading comprehension gone down a few notches? Unless I miss my guess, he's saying that "foreordination in Christ" and predestination (read as "election") as he understands it are two different things. You can be foreordained, but you must become elect. A look in the dictionary says otherwise. "Foreordain" is defined as to determine or appoint beforehand; predestine. So to "foreordain" someone in Christ is the exact same thing as "foreordaining who." Both the "how" and the "who" are determined. If someone is "foreordained in Christ" they are elect. Furthermore, he's denying Romans 8:28-30, which explicitly states that God determined the "who" beforehand. I can only hope he simply hasn't thought that one through. Second, the vast majority of Southern Baptist churches are not Calvinistic in their theology and it's causing some serious controversy. I actually agree with this quote. The vast majority of our churches are not Calvinistic. This represents a departure from the historic Southern Baptist faith. My inquiries into Southern Baptist founders reveal staunch Calvinists. No problem there. But I'm disturbed that this issue is "causing serious controversy." Calvinism should never be an issue of controversy! Serious Baptists and non-Baptists alike should seek to understand just what it teaches and simply decide whether or not it is a tenable position for one to hold. It is not the Gospel, despite what some people like to rip out of Spurgeon's sermon on the issue. It is the attempt to qualify what the Gospel is against the Arminian heresy. Yes, Arminianism, in my estimation, is a heresy. Most of us non-Calvinists don't even hold what heretical (classic) Arminianism does -- we're largely Calvinistic. So, the worst you can do is say Calvinists go too far with limited atonement. And even that isn't as bad as it sounds. Its bark is worse than its bite. But Calvinism as a whole (it's much bigger than the 5 points) is an extremely Biblical and God-honoring system. The founders of our beloved convention do not seem to have minded too much that there were some Baptists within our fellowship who were not full Calvinists. The Baptist Faith and Message, as well as Southern Seminary's Abstract of Principles, seem to indicate only three of the five points (the T, the U, and the P) are necessary to be able to call oneself a Southern Baptist. I remarked to a good friend that it seems as if the founders hoped that our convention would be Calvinistic or at least as Calvinistic as possible without sacrificing unity. As such, splitting churches over the details of that system is the height of stupidity. I'm going to go so far as to call it sin. Yes, sin! It is sin to mislead a church by intentional omission; and it is sin to split a church because you don't agree with the pastor when he is not a heretic nor in sin. Work together as a church family or I question your faith according to the principles of 1 John. This is why I find it refreshing to read Pastor Page say just beforehand that he is more than willing to work with Calvinists. All one must do to have a place at his table, he says, is meet his three criteria for appointment, which are: a sweet spirit, an evangelistic heart and a deep belief in the integrity of the Word of God. Many SBC Calvinists that I have been privileged to meet or read certainly meet these three criteria. Shouldn't that be the driving basis for Christian fellowship among those who differ on certain issues? There should be no divisions among us, except in cases of serious heresy or sin. And that said, I reiterate: I like Frank Page. It will be my prayer that if he is the man, God will elevate him.

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