Archive

Posts Tagged ‘Liberalism’

Jesus is the Answer: Joel Osteen

by Tom Nettles

“A Tattered Vestige of a Formerly Robust Faith”

Recently I found an evangelistic appeal that closed a book by a well-known American pulpiteer. He always, according to his nomenclature, wants to “provide the audience an opportunity to make Jesus the Lord of their lives,” and, as in his spoken medium, suggested the need of his reader and a prayer as a fitting response to his message.

“Are you at peace with God? A void exists in every person’s heart that only God can fill. I’m not talking about joining a church or finding religion. I’m talking about finding life and peace and happiness.” Having established the need….

 

 

 

Read the entire article here.

Advertisements

Partial Recoveries Encourage Relapses

by Tom Nettles

I have tried to establish a narrative illustrating the factors that have altered American evangelicalism in the last two centuries and the way in which Baptists in the South experienced the change. The purpose of this series has been to give an interpretive background to the differences of doctrinal perception presently experienced between Calvinists and non-Calvinists in the Southern Baptist Convention.

We began with the conversion of Ann and Adoniram Judson to Baptist views. We viewed their commitment to truth, to the doctrines of grace, and to the glory of the triune God as expressive of evangelical commitments in general and Baptist ideals in particular in the first two decades of the nineteenth century. These views, given fullest confessional expression in the Charleston Association Confession of Faith, were shared by most writers, teachers, and preachers among Southern Baptists until the waning of the nineteenth century and the dawning of the twentieth.

 

 

 

Read the entire article here.

I Am the Captain of My Soul: Billy Graham

Billy-Graham-300x198by Tom Nettles

(This post is the latest installment in a series on Billy Graham. See Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4.)

Graham’s focus on human experience vis-à-vis biblical authority and as an apologetic for the Christian faith provided the bands of attachment to him and his ministry from two directions—both moderates and conservatives found resonance in his emphases. Similar effects of affirmation arose from a third area of emphasis, the autonomy of the human will. The entire work of God for salvation finally was suspended on the capacity-to-decide resident within the human will. In a sermon on slothfulness, Graham closed, “Eternal life is within reach of everyone. The savior is as near as your yielded will, or He is as far away as you want Him to be. Your own stubborn, slothful spirit is your greatest hindrance to letting Him come into your heart.” [Seven Deadly Sins, 40] Anger also finds its cure in the power of the will. “The first step then in finding victory over unjustified anger is to want to get rid of it,” Graham rightly advised. The solution, therefore, already resides within. “The will comes to the fore and says, ‘I will do something about his unruly temper of mine.’” In Graham’s anthropology, like Finney and those that followed in his wake, the human will had been unaffected by the fall. Both the “stubborn, slothful spirit” and the “unruly temper” were in the control of the human will and would yield to the force of a person’s decision to throw them off.

 

 

 

Read the entire article here.

The Anatomy of a Hybrid Constituency: Billy Graham

Billy-Graham-300x214by Tom Nettles

(This post is the latest installment in a series on Billy Graham. See Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.)

Billy Graham’s strong affirmation of biblical authority, his clear proclamation of the objective truths of the gospel, and his perseverance in the calling of evangelism gave him comprehensive credibility among evangelicals, including conservative Southern Baptists. Accompanying these strong traits, however, were a few convictions that gave some of the main-line, more liberal-leaning Protestants, and the more moderate wing of Southern Baptists, room to approve of Graham and, thus, find a point of positive contact with their conservative detractors. The two religious persuasions that proved to be a bridge to an uncomfortable unity were the priority of religious experience and an affirmation of biblical truth that transcended any critical engagement with supposed difficulties in the biblical text.

It could be suggested that Graham’s experiential persuasion of Christianity’s truthfulness is simply a rock-solid engagement with the Reformed doctrine of the internal witness of the Spirit—or as Jonathan Edwards expressed it as “sensible” knowledge of sin and of the excellence of Christ. By the same token, one could look upon Graham’s unswerving commitment to the message of the Bible as another application…

 

 

 

Read the entire article here.

Keep a Close Watch . . . On the Teaching: Tom Nettles Responds to Trevin Wax’s Post

By Tom Nettles

I think there has been a misunderstanding. Trevin Wax is concerned that I am writing off my non-Calvinist brethren as “on the same plane of theological degeneracy as man-centered liberals.” He then compares that to the non-Calvinist argument that all Calvinists have the seeds of hyper-Calvinism ready to blossom in their breast. Both types of argumentation are then chastised. Wax gives advice that we recognize how good for each other we actually are. Perhaps in another post, in a different context, I would argue exactly what he presents me as arguing here – that Arminianism and other types of non-Calvinism do harbor a philosophical stance that more easily invites a humanistic/naturalistic approach to religious studies, biblical studies, and doctrinal development.

That was not this post, however. His concerns about any purpose to “chase out brothers and sisters who are not of the same theological persuasion,” I would suppose, are more aimed at the non-Calvinist than the Calvinist. They certainly have more experience at that in the Southern Baptist context than do the Calvinists and exercised that option, in my opinion, in confessionally sound ways during the decades of the Conservative Resurgence. Even now, unless we want another situation of sign but don’t believe culture on our hands, by-laws at Southern Baptist institutions require certain confessional commitments; to ignore these would be a failure of stewardship before God and Southern Baptists. J. P. Boyce’s discussion of the three-fold level of confessional knowledge and responsibility that he proposed in his Three Changes in Theological Institutions has genuine relevance on this issue.

 

 

 

Read the entire article here.

The Bible Says: Billy Graham

Billy-Graham-Reading-Bible-234x300by Tom Nettles

(This post is part of a series on Billy Graham. See Part 1 and Part 2.)

In the Billy Graham Museum at Wheaton, the last three figures highlighted before Graham are Charles Finney, Dwight L. Moody, and Billy Sunday. In many ways, Graham saw himself as the heir and steward of their tradition. Though like them in some broadly recognizable ways, he forged his own way forward and developed his own way of relating to a public he hoped would hear his presentation of the gospel.

Billy Graham did not press theological exposition in his preaching to the extent of Charles Finney. Finney lived in an age of metaphysical musings on doctrine and brought his personal reflections to the pulpit. In order to overcome the lingering power of Jonathan Edwards’s grand vision of absolute human dependence on the divine, Finney had to try to match the metaphysical cogency of the missionary to the Indians of Stockbridge. Graham, on the other hand…

 

 

 

Read the entire article here.

A Response to Trevin Wax: Does Moving Away from Calvinism Necessarily Lead to Liberalism?

by Guest Blogger

[The following is a guest post by Jared Longshore. Jared is a pastor at Grace Baptist Church in Cape Coral, FL, a PhD candidate at SBTS, and blogger at http://jaredlongshore.com]

***I sent this to Trevin before posting, and he in turn has sent me a very thoughtful and brotherly response. Trevin’s response has helped me to express myself more clearly and refine my critique of his post. May such a spirit continue to mark our conversations about these things in the SBC.

I thank God for the work of Trevin Wax on the Gospel Coalition blog. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading his posts and will continue to do so. I believe his recent post, “Does Moving Away From Calvinism Necessarily Lead to Liberalism?” in which he questions Dr. Tom Nettles’ post “Here’s The Point: Calvinists and Non-Calvinists in the SBC” provides an opportunity to consider the place of theological dialogue in our cooperative mission. I stand in whole-hearted agreement with Trevin when he says his aim is “strengthening our ties of cooperation for mission.” But I think there are certain principles in his response that, if adopted, might stunt both our theological growth and cooperation for mission. Since Trevin has offered his thoughts, I offer my own in four principles that I believe he has overlooked in his response to Nettles. These principles are, I think, essential to strengthening Southern Baptist ties for ministry and missions.

 

 

 

Read the entire article here.