Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Chameleon Theology?

One of my favorite preachers is brother David Miller and I recently learned that he was in attendance at the recent John 3:16 conference where Calvinism was openly attacked from some bretheren within the SBC. I was also told that Brother Miller wrote a letter to Dr. Jerry Vines concerning the doctrinal issues presented at the conference. So in my search I came across the following at Peter Lumpkins blog who says that this is an open letter from David Miller to Dr. Jerry Vines but I can't say for sure this is the actual letter by Brother Miller but it sure sounds like him so take it for what it's worth.

Dear brother Jerry,

I attended your conference on Calvinism on November the 6th and 7th and it has inspired me to write a book. The title of which shall be: "How Many Inconsistencies and Contradictions Can One Hear in Only Five Sermons". The brethren (presenters) not only contradicted each other but themselves as well. We were repeatedly told not to build a systematic theology first and then make the Scripture fit our system, rather, we were to exegete the Scriptures and build a Biblical theology.

Yet only one of your presenters proceeded to follow this advice, namely, Page Patterson.. The other 4 presenters who addressed the TULIP, proceeded to build straw men and knock them down with Scripture verses taken out of context, and they did so with measured sarcasm and no small dose of arrogance.

This was evidenced in that 3 out of the 5 were so full of themselves that they could not conclude their sermon within the allotted time of 50 minutes. This did however, provide a high level of entertainment as I watched Richard Land fall asleep on at least 3 occasions during Dr. Lemke's sermon in which he departed from his assigned subject and drudged on and on as the congregation got quieter and quieter.

I did at this point feel some compassion for yourself as I saw your rear-end at least 3 inches off the pew giving Lemke physical signs of your discontent. I know it, you know it, and the Lord knows it! You were sitting there wishing that he would sit down and hush. Tell the truth!

Regarding your own sermon on John 3:16: you had a wonderful text and a wonderful opportunity to preach a gospel sermon to the choir. Instead you chose to give a Greek grammar lesson which was as boring as a 5 hour long WMU meeting! Why was this?

By the way, you said nothing in your sermon that I could not say amen to, as a 5 point Calvinist. Your sermon did inspire me to write new lyrics to an old song.

"Old Jerry Vines had him a conference E-I-E-I O , and at the conference he had a "pas" E-I-E-I-O, with a pas, pas,here and a pas, pas, there; here a pas, there a pas, everywhere a pas, pas, old Jerry Vines had him a conference E-I-E-I-O."

The most rousing response at the conference came regarding vitriolic statements condemning men who don't give a public invitation the same as you. In a convoluted argument favoring public invitations Dr. Allen pointed out that as "far back" as 1750 certain Baptists were giving alter calls. He said this as though his audience would be so stupid they wouldn't figure out from his own statement that the church existed for 1750 years without public invitation system! This was classic Clintonian rhetoric.

For whatever its worth I personally believe a public invitation can be extended and practice such in my own preaching. This however, is an accommodation not a biblical principle.

Your conference has inspired me further. I shall no longer keep silent. Men like yourself, denigrate the doctrines of grace which I treasure. I am now prepared to take you on. I will no longer be silent as you, Johnny Hunt, Junior Hill and others whom I have loved and respected, proceed to blame Calvinists for the decline of evangelism in the SBC.

While your speakers correctly rebuke the Presbyterians for infant baptism I might remind you that the only area where southern Baptists have had an increase in baptisms is among 4 and 5 year olds! This is happening in "your kind" of churches.

It is not the Calvinists who have built a convention of 16 million members, 4 million of which could not be found if your life depended on it. You have done this! This has happened on your watch! It is your fault! You have been in charge! "Your kind" of evangelism and methodology has produced this colossal number of unregenerate church members.

In your church in Jacksonville and Johnny's church in Woodstock, less than half of your members come to church on Sundays. Why don't you stop blaming the Calvinists and take responsibility for your own actions! Your church is doing no better than the average church in the convention in this area. My guess is, your church has spent more money on interest on debt service in the past 15 years than it has on foreign missions.

Don't blame the Calvinists for your lack of compassion for the lost and your unwillingness to sacrifice to take the gospel to the ends of the earth. I for one am sick of your duplicity and hypocrisy.

Furthermore, don't blame the Calvinists for all the church splits. Was it the Calvinists that split Bellevue after Adrian died? Hardly! Is there any empirical evidence that there is a higher percentage of church splits caused by Calvinists than the other brethren? Not on your life! There is enough stupidity to go around. Calvinists do not have a monopoly on pastoral stupidity.

Why do you brethren seem hell bent on dividing the Convention over this? Is your rear-end gaulded to such an extent because Southern Seminary, led by a Calvinist, has now become the largest seminary in the convention. Do you brethren fear Al Mohler this much? Are your insecurities so pronounced that every time you get up to speak at a conference you feel morally obligated to take a jab at the Calvinists?

Look at you, you had Southwestern, New Orleans, Mid-Western, Liberty and Luther Rice Seminaries along with Woodstock church and Jerry Vine ministries jointly sponsoring your conference and you could not muster more than 600-800 people in attendance, and many of those were Calvinists who came out of curiosity. I find it passing strange, that when I was a trustee at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, one of your presenters was on the short list to be considered President of the Seminary.

When I called him to find out his views regarding article 5 of the Abstract of Principles (on election), he assured me in unequivocal terms that he believed in unconditional election in the same manner in which James P. Boyce, Basil Manly, and John Broadus believed in unconditional election. Would this be referred to as chameleon theology, expediency, or just a lack of integrity?

Furthermore, Paige signed the abstract of principles while serving as president of Southeastern. Evidently during his tenure at Southeastern he believed both in total depravity and unconditional election or else he was guilty of doing the same things that we castigated the liberals for i.e. signing a confessional document while not subscribing to the theology expressed in the document! Are you sure you brethren want to pursue this further?

I regret very much that this breach in fellowship has occurred among conservatives within the convention. I stand willing and ready to do my part in trying to resolve the matter.

I would love nothing more than to have an opportunity to sit down with you and a small group of 12-15 other brothers from both sides in a non-threatening venue. Perhaps at my deer camp in Duck Hill, MS, at my expense, sitting around a campfire eating venison bacon wraps and sipping ice tea, we could discuss this matter before we have gone past the point of no return.

I remain your brother in Christ,

David Miller

No comments: