Tuesday, February 28, 2006

When I'm Wrong...

...I admit it. I ask Tom Ascol and the folks at the Founders blog, as well as my readers, to forgive my assumption that my post on that blog had been removed. I was wrong.

In fact, I evidently posted it on the wrong thread -- I still haven't figured out how I did that, but I have no doubt I did. As Mr. Ascol pointed out in his kind email to me, we all make mistakes. I am now endeavoring to determine whether or not this error on my part was predestined, or of my own free will... :-D

I do, however, still stand firmly behind Dr. Johnny Hunt, his ministry at FBC-Woodstock, GA, and his potential nomination for SBC President. I look forward to further discussion and debate with my "Calvinist" Baptist friends at www.Founders.org/blog

J. Dale Weaver, M. Div.

Monday, February 27, 2006

When A Good Man is Trashed...

I deplore denominational politics. Reading my posts, you can quickly see that. I believe that the largest part of modern day "made with hands" churches are at best useless, and all too often many are harmful to the message of Christ.

Today, however, I am compelled to commend a good and Godly man to my readers. I recently learned that Dr. Johnny Hunt, Pastor of First Baptist Church, Woodstock, Georgia, is to be nominated for President of the Southern Baptist Convention.

I've known Dr. Johnny Hunt for over 20 years. The first time I ever met him, I was a Junior at Wingate College (now University) in North Carolina. He was speaking at the NC Baptist State Convention because for two years in a row, his church had lead the state in conversions and baptisms. His zeal and excitement to win souls was infectious and inspiring.

Shortly after this, he became Pastor of First Baptist Church, Woodstock. WHen he arrived, they had 250 in attendance on a good Sunday, and they'd run the last pastor off. Some folks told him he'd never be there for long. He has surpassed 20 years now, and lead his church to a regular Sunday attendance of somewhere around 6,000-7,000. Most of those years FBC-Woodstock has lead their association in conversions and baptisms.

I have followed Johnny Hunt's ministry for more years than I've been in the ministry. As a young Southern Baptist College student he inspired me. As a Free Will Baptist Pastor he often encouraged me -- personally, through correspondences and through his dynamic preaching. Now, as an evangelical minister and member of a Southern Baptist Church, he continues to be one of the few men I hold in high esteem for his integrity and consistency as a Christian and a Pastor within the confines of the "institutional church."

The reason I bring this up is that, earlier today, on another blog ( http://www.founders.org/blog/ ), A number of so-called "calvinist baptists" were crucifying Dr. Hunt in anticipation of his nomination to be President of the SBC. As I've said, I hate denominational politics. I didn't like it in the National Association of Free Will Baptists, and because I am not a "thorough-going Southern Baptist" I avoid it at my current place of worship. In this case, I have three reasons for speaking up: (1) I know Johnny Hunt; (2) I tried to post aa response on their blog, but it was removed without explanation -- probably because Calvinists tend not to be able to handle a different view; and (3) I see in his critics the very reasons why I so dislike the particular/calvinistic baptists of history, and of today.

There has been in recent years a resurgence of Calvinist doctrines (they enjoy calling them "the doctrines of grace") within the Southern Baptist Convention. Dr. Albert Mohler, youthful President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky is himself a "founder" and a five-point Calvinist. Incidentally, I respect him very much, though I disagree with him strongly on these points. Therein lies one of the major problems. Arminians -- or those who would consider themselves "general Baptists" with regard to the atonement, usually hold those of other theological persuasions to be worthy of respect, despite some disagreement. Calvinists, on the other hand, hold no one in respect -- and generally dismiss others as heretics -- anyone who does not agree with them. Just read the blog I've linked to above if you have any doubt.

It is a fact that, up to the latter 1800's, Southern Baptists were mostly Calvinist in theological perspective. That changed a great deal beginning with the Second Great Awakening and the rise of modern evangelicalism/fundamentalism. Should the Calvinist heritage of the "founders" ever be restored among Southern Baptists, the Convention will have to go back to the old way of growing their churches -- stealing churches and congregations from General and Free Will Baptists. Historically, there is no valid argument to refute that point.

Dr. Johnny Hunt is a good man, and a great Pastor. He will make a fine leader of the SBC. His vision to evangelize is both Biblical and God-centered. Despite the arrogant and critical statements of the Calvinist wolves in lurking within the SBC, he will make a fine President to the Convention. No, he's not perfect, but he has the right vision, and depends on the right Person with the right Power to bring that vision to pass. Bless you, Dr. Hunt.

And to those who would trash him, you might consider that few men will be as charitable and kind to his critics as will this man.

J. Dale Weaver, M. Div.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Imperfect Understanding

Just time for a thought during these busy days...

Is it possible that there are disciples -- true followers of Jesus Christ -- who have some doctrinal "fallacies" that would get them labelled heretics, but that they are still "saved?"

If this is not true, what of the saints in the early and medieval church? Augustine himself had deeply flawed theological views regarding the structure and authority of the church, the papacy, human sexuality and eschatology. Yet, he is highly regarded as among the greatest theologian in church history.

Today, many hold doctrines outside the "orthodox" understanding of the essentials of faith -- or at least orthodox interpretations of key beliefs. What of them?

I suppose we should ask, how wide is God's grace? Certainly the line is drawn somewhere -- but we don't have the crayon, and it's not our line to draw.

The main reason I am writing this is not to say whether we should "receive" or "reject" those who hold suspect tenets of faith. I am merely asking everyone to consider the implications of receiving and rejecting, and then consider "what would Jesus do?"

The trite "He would love them" is true -- but doesn't answer the question entirely. Think about it...I certainly am.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

The Virtue of Solitude

Luke 9:10 tells us, "And [Jesus] took [His disciples], and went aside privately, to a desert place belonging to the city called Bethsaida."

How often do we "go aside privately?" I'm not referring to a short devotional time during the day. Quiet times are important, but that's not truly solitude. When was the last time you took a few days -- just by yourself, or maybe with a small group of close friends -- and "went aside" to rest, rejuvenate, replenish yourself spiritually?

Jesus did this often in His earthly ministry. Why is it that so few of His followers do the same -- particularly those "in ministry"? Could it be that we've become so caught up in the world that we don't know the difference between solitude and the status quo? Have the thistles and thorns entangled us to such an extent that we can't find a few days to get away, to pray, the sit silently in God's presence and let Him speak?

No Christian is perfect. I am convinced, however, that if we would do this one simple thing -- cultivate solitude -- we would benefit immensely in our own lives, and in His kingdom work. I think a good goal for most disciples today is to follow the Master's lead, and "go aside privately" for some simple, spiritual rest. The world will be here when we get back.