Friday, February 27, 2009

Brister contra Reisinger


Tom Ascol's "right-hand man," Timmy Brister seems to have abandoned original Floundersism in his latest remarks today about a "conscensus of Calvinism in the SBC" involving the Flounders-type "Calvinists" and the non-Calvinists (or non-Flounders-types). In his blog, the verbose Brister says:

Coming to a consensus on Calvinism is something the SBC desperately needs in order to thrive in the 21st century, and by that, I do not mean the SBC needs to become “five-point” Calvinists.

This hardly squares with the propaganda spread by the Flounders since their origin in 1982.

From the beginning, it was not so. Ernest Reisinger, Founder of the Flounders, is quoted on the Flounders' website where he expatiates about the inaugurating plans for the "Founders Conference" in 1982:

The group [of charter-member Flounders] decided that the purpose of the Founders Conference would be to promote instruction in both doctrine and devotion, as expressed in the doctrines of grace, and the experiential application of those doctrines to the local church, particularly in the areas of worship and witness. This was to be accomplished through the putting on of conferences where a variety of speakers would be engaged to present formal papers, sermons, expositions, and devotions, and at which literature consistent with the nature of the conference would be recommended and sold.

The motive was to provide encouragement to Southern Baptists through historical, biblical, theological, practical, and ecumenical studies that would glorify God, honor his gospel, and strengthen his churches. To this end, the group agreed that the theological foundation of the conferences would be the doctrines of grace, those doctrines known as the five points of Calvinism (e.g., total depravity, election, atonement, effectual calling, and perseverance) and related truths. These subjects would all be presented doctrinally, expositionally, homiletically, and historically. Each conference would concentrate on the experiential and pastoral application of the respective doctrines.

Other explanatory statements include the following:

Calvinism is the certainty of success in the work of evangelism. It is the foundation and hope of missionary endeavor, Reisinger proclaimed.

He also affirmed:

The doctrinal foundation of biblical evangelism is as important to the work of evangelism as the back bone is to the human body. Doctrine gives unity and stability.

And --

It is the doctrinal foundation that produces the spiritual strength that enables evangelism to endure the storms of opposition, hardship and persecution which so often accompany it. Therefore, the church that neglects the true doctrinal foundation of biblical evangelism will soon weaken its efforts.

The lack of a doctrinal foundation will work against unity and will invite error and instability in all evangelistic efforts. It is impossible to exaggerate the importance of a sound biblical foundation for true God-centered evangelism.

Doctrine shapes our destiny, and we are presently reaping the fruits of unbiblical evangelism.

So insisted Flounders' Founder Ernest Reisinger in regard to the importance of majoring on the Flounders' version of five-point Calvinism as a "doctrinal foundation."

Yet it now appears that, contrary to Reisinger's strong insistence on the "doctrinal foundation" of five-point Calvinism, Brister is seemingly saying that the "old paths" of featuring the five points of the Flounders' version of "Calvinism" front-and-center should condescend to a broader basis for the "consensus." The only real anathema specified by Brister seems to be outright "Pelagianism." He says,

I’ve got only one problem with this. The discussion from the beginning has been slanted against Calvinists by means of terminology. Calvinism is a historical term with numerous references in Southern Baptist life; non-Calvinism, on the other hand, is a nondescript term. What is a non-Calvinist? Does it say anything positive about what that person believes? A non-Calvinist could be a four-point Calvinist and a Pelagian in the SBC. Surely Nathan and Alvin don’t mean to include Pelagians in the SBC, but that is precisely the problem.

Is this perhaps a different and broader strategy on the part of the Flounders to try to weasel their proselytization scheme into the good graces of Southern Baptists who are less-than Flounders-type "Calvinists"?


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