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.