Brister's misplaced concernIS TIMMY BRISTER'S CONCERN
A MISPLACED CONCERN?
Pedobaptist Iain Murray of the Banner of Truth has observed in the Preface of his 1995 book, Spurgeon v. Hyper-Calvinism:
In the 1960s it seemed to many of us that Spurgeon's continuing significance had to do with his witness to the free-grace convictions of the Reformers and Puritans over against the shallow and non-doctrinal evangelicalism of our day. Thirty years later that witness remains relevant and yet it is apparent that the recovery of doctrinal Christianity is not necessarily our chief need today.
In many churches there has been a real increase in knowledge and a resurgence of Calvinistic belief has occurred across the world. The word 'forgotten' is happily far less applicable to Spurgeon than it was forty years ago. But it may well be that the time has come when we need to be MUCH MORE FAMILIAR with a rather different emphasis in Spurgeon.
While I know of no evidence that Hyper-Calvinism is recovering strength, it would appear that THE PRIORITY WHICH SOUL-WINNING HAD IN SPURGEON'S MINISTRY IS NOT COMMONLY SEEN TO BE OUR PRIORITY.
The revival of DOCTRINE has scarcely been matched by a revival of EVANGELISM. While not accepting the tenets of Hyper-Calvinism it may well be that we have not been sufficiently alert to the danger of allowing a supposed consistency in doctrine to OVERRIDE THE BIBLICAL PRIORITY OF ZEAL FOR CHRIST AND SOULS OF MEN.
Doctrine without usefulness is no prize. As Spurgeon says, 'You may look down with contempt on some who do not know so much as you, and yet they may have twice your holiness and be doing more service to God.'
Is not this the real issue that Timmy Brister, Tom Ascol, and the Flounders should be concerned about -- more so than concern about what Dr. Steve Lemke, Jerry Vines, Johnny Hunt, Frank Cox or other "non-Calvinists write and say about "Calvinism"?
Mr. Murray, by the influence he exerted on Ernest Reisinger, founder of the Flounders, and by his anti-invitationism, is the virtual "grandfather" of the Flounders movement. The above words were not written by a "non-Calvinist," but by a "Calvinist" after the same order as Timmy Brister and Tom Ascol.
Murray's remarks should be much more significant to the Flounders than anything written or said by Dr. Lemke or any other "non-Calvinist" in the SBC, or will be said at the "John 3:16 Conference," for Murray has obviously seen firsthand that the "resurgence of Calvinism" has not been matched by a "revival of evangelism."
Murray's words fitly describe the Flounders' movement since its origin in the 1980s. The movement has always been and still is relatively DEAD in regard to evangelism, soul winning, and the planting of churches consisting of anything but proselytes.
Do the following words remind you of any modern day "Calvinists"? --
". . . it will be seen that those who never exhort sinners are seldom winners of souls to any great extent, but they maintain their churches by converts from other systems. I have even heard them say, 'Oh, yes, the Methodists and Revivalists are beating the hedges, but we shall catch many of the birds.' If I harboured such a mean thought I would be ashamed to express it. A system which cannot touch the outside world, but must leave arousing and converting work to others, whom it judges to be unsound, writes its own condemnation." (C. H. Spurgeon, Lectures to My Students, Second Series, page 187, Pilgrim Publications 1990 edition).
Instead of spinning his palabber in whining "replies" to Dr. Lemke and others, Brister should be carefully considering the observation that Iain Murray makes about the "resurgence of Calvinistic belief" and the lack of evangelism on the part of the resurgers.