Calvinism an issue in associational vote
    October 31 2011 by Todd Deaton, Western Recorder

    ISLAND, Ky. (BP) – Was a western Kentucky church denied admittance to a Baptist association because it is too Calvinistic?

    Acting on a report brought by its credentials committee, the Daviess-McLean Baptist Association (DMBA) voted 104-9 at its annual meeting not to accept Pleasant Valley Community Church in Owensboro for membership.

    “Our concern in the initial stages of our investigation revolved around the fact that Pleasant Valley Community Church’s confessional statement is one that (is) Calvinistic in nature. It affirms the doctrine of election and grace,” the report from the association’s credentials committee stated.

    “While we know the doctrine is not heresy, we do recognize that it is vastly different than the majority of churches within the DMBA,” the associational committee noted.

    But while the church’s Calvinistic views were a concern, other contributing issues emerged during the credentialing process, according to a statement from DMBA vice moderator, Eddie Duke, pastor of Panther Creek Baptist Church in Owensboro.

    “Ultimately, we were not satisfied that Pleasant Valley Community Church would be sympathetic with the purpose and work of the body of the DMBA,” the committee concluded, citing “an overall lack of the key elements of cooperation found in patience, humility, kindness, compassion and gentleness.”

    After the committee’s statement was heard during the Oct. 17 meeting at Island (Ky.) Baptist Church, the matter would have been concluded unless a motion to accept was made from the floor, according to DMBA moderator Tommy Webb, pastor of Buck Creek Baptist Church in Calhoun. That motion was brought by Barry Rager, pastor of Utica Baptist Church.

    “In my dealings with the pastors from this church, I experienced good fellowship (and) good cooperation. These men love the Word, they preach the Gospel; ... they are taking the Gospel around the world,” Rager told the Western Recorder, newsjournal of the Kentucky Baptist Convention. “I didn’t see any reason they shouldn’t be in the local association – whether their theology is Reformed or not. I thought they would be of great benefit to us.”

    Also among those speaking on behalf of Pleasant Valley was Greg Faulls, pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church in Owensboro, which made the formal recommendation in May for the congregation to join the Daviess-McLean association. While he went to the meeting prepared to express his disappointment, he had not planned to make such a motion because he felt the committee had “a pretty good pulse” of the association, Faulls told the Western Recorder.

    “It just wouldn’t be worth having a disharmonious discussion when the chances of that being voted on affirmatively were so slim,” Faulls said. “It was obvious that the issue of more Reformed thinking in this church was an issue of concern.”

    Though he considers himself to be “a general atonement kind of guy,” Faulls said, “I thought they would also fit” under the theological umbrella of the Baptist Faith & Message, “but apparently the association didn’t agree.”

    In a statement to the Western Recorder, Jamus Edwards, pastor of Pleasant Valley Community Church, apologized for “any hurt we have caused or any evidence of impatience or haughtiness” exhibited during the application process. “We truly love the brothers of the DMBA and are thankful for their commitment to the Gospel of Jesus Christ,” he said.

    Edwards disagreed, however, with the Calvinist label placed on the church, saying the congregation does not identify itself as such primarily because it is not “helpful in most contexts, but actually distracting and largely misunderstood, precisely like it was in this situation with the DMBA.”

    As moderator and chairman of the credentials committee, Webb said he was convinced the decision concerning Pleasant Valley was “right in line” with the heartbeat of the association.

    “The committee worked hard to seek God’s will about the involvement of Pleasant Valley Community Church with the DBMA,” Webb noted. “As while the doctrinal position of PVCC was of concern, we also were greatly concerned about the cooperation of PVCC with the other churches of our association. Our prayer and belief is the DMBA will continue to stand firm and strive for a spirit of love and unity.”

    Pleasant Valley Community Church is a member of both the Kentucky and Southern Baptist conventions.

    Edwards, referring to the church’s KBC and SBC membership and its status outside the association, said, “We are certainly hurt and disappointed that we have been able to joyfully and peacefully link arms with our Baptist brothers and sisters from across the state and the nation and yet have been refused the opportunity to partner in the Gospel with our brothers and sisters in our very own community.”
    (EDITOR’S NOTE – Todd Deaton is editor of the Western, newsjournal of the Kentucky Baptist Convention.)
    10/31/2011 1:40:58 PM by Todd Deaton, Western Recorder | with 2 comments
    Filed under: Calvinism, Daviess-McLean Baptist Association, Pleasant Valley Community Church

Dr. James Willingham
What a sad commentary to hear that a Southern Baptist association refused membership to a sister church on the basis - of all things - of their adherence to Sovereign Grace, when perhaps every church in the association sings at some point in the year a hymn in praise of the very theology opposed. I refer, of course, to the hymn, Amazing Grace by John Newton whose theology is so well-known as to need no comment. But what is even more remarkable about this matter is that it violates the very spirit of our predecessors and ancestors in the ministry of Southern Baptists. Take, for example, the fact that in 1787 the Separate and Regular Baptists in Virginia agreed to union on the grounds that "preaching that Christ tasted death for every man will be no bar to communion." That meant that the normal teaching was particular redemption or limited atonement. The message of those days was Sovereign Grace or Calvinism as the colloquial term is. That was the theology of the First and Second Great Awakenings and of the launching of the Great Century of Missions. It was the theology for the Southern Baptist Convention down to the 20th century, and there were some noted examples of that theology in the Convention even during the latter half of the 20th century. I think of Curtis Vaughan for one. The theology was set forth in the original confessions of faith adopted by most Southern Baptist churches. For instance, the First Baptist Church of Charleston was based upon the London Baptist Confession of 1689, and they were a member of the Philadelphia Association which in 1742 adopted the Philadelphia Confession which varies in a few minor details from the London Confession. Sandy Creek Association's first adopted Confession of 1816 (under the leadership of Luther Rice, the father of missions among Southern Baptists) was clearly a Sovereign Grace Confession, holding to the inability of man to save himself and setting forth the very doctrine of election. On the committee of that year was Basil Manly Sr., the minister who would suggest and lead Southern Baptists in the effort to found Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. His son, Jr., will draw up the Abstract of Principles (with the help of A.M. Poindexter), and they will include the very doctrine of election as one of the truths that professors must sign to teach in accordance with and not contrary to along with other truths. By the way, just down the road a mile or so from where I live is the church that produced the first missionary Southern Baptists sent to China, Rev. Matthew T. Yates. The articles of Faith that church adopted at its organization in 1814 (it joined Sandy Creek and was a part of the association in 1816, when the committee drew up that Sovereign Grace Confession) did not know anything of Christ dying for everyone; it mentioned only His dying for the Church.

In any case, the theology is coming back as man's desperate condition presses more heavily upon us. A condition so bleak needs a theology so bright. As to unconditional election, it is an invitation to be saved, to take God on His terms, not ours. In counseling, that kind of opposite approach is known as paradoxical intervention, a therapeutic paradox, if you please. Jesus used it with the woman of Canaan in Mt. 15:21-28, saying, for example, "I am not sent but to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. The woman was not a Jew, and her response was to treat the idea as an opportunity to worship. She came and fell down before Him. Then He said, "It is not meet to take the children's bread and to cast it to dogs." She agreed with Him, and said, "truth, Lord, but even the dogs eat of the crumbs that fall from their masters' table." His use of the term dogs and her response to it as the means for expressing her faith in Him is the equivalent of preaching total depravity/inability and, yes, even reprobation as an invitation. As one scholar put it, "Predestination is an invitation to begin one's spiritual pilgrimage." All of the truths of Sovereign Grace are the gospel, the Good News, designed to lift man from the slough of despond as Bunyan called it.

I have been praying for a Third Great Awakening for 38 years, since 1973. Now the numbers of believers in Sovereign Grace are increasing, a precursor, I believe, to another awakening. Certainly, it was theology of the first two awakenings and of the launching of the great missionary movement. And to put the Father of Missions's (Luther Rice) advice in common language, "Sovereign Grace is in the Bible, and you had better preach it." Even John Wesley thought that there were some who had been chosen, who would reach a state from which they would never fall in this life. (See) his letter about reconciliation with George Whitefield in his journal.

My hope and prayer is that beginning with this generation we shall see an awakening that will win every soul upon the earth and shall continue for a 1000 generations and reach thousands and thousands of worlds, should man travel to the stars as I expect. Just so God can cheer His children with the humorous quip about the redeemed being a number "no one can number," not even God (Rev.7:9)? Perhaps the only thing God can do that He can't do is produce so many souls saved that He will never be able to count them all. That idea, by the way, is derived from a man that some have considered to be responsible for the limited atonement doctrine. I refer to John Owen's The Death of Death in The Death of Christ with appropriate gratitude to Andrew Fuller and his Gospel Worthy of All Acceptation. The value of Christ's blood is of such estimation as could redeem all of the inhabitants of a thousand worlds or even thousands of worlds.

O by the way, in 1755 two ministers from Pennsylvania and the Philadelphia Association came to North Carolina and persuaded some General Baptists who believed in a universal atonement and who were neither very evangelistic nor missionary minded to become believers in the particular redemption preached by Regular Baptists who were both evangelistic and missionary movement. Amazing. No, Amazing Grace.
11/1/2011 11:53:48 AM

D. Lambert
The debate of election is true & is in God's word. God is sovereign and He predestined us to become His children. He knew whether we would choose Him or not, but He chose us first.
Let's stop debating this issue.

God chose us & God gives us a choice. Remember His thoughts are above our thoughts and His ways are above our ways. They are both right. We are His elect & He gave us a choice. God affirms them both in His Word. Let's believe it & stop putting John Calvin's name on it and go forward in unity and without labels.
10/31/2011 3:04:08 PM

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