Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Louisiana College and Calvinism - An Old Familiar Foe

Several within my small sphere of influence have asked me what's going on at Louisiana College (LC) with regard to the decision to not renew the contracts of three professors, presumably because of their Reformed (Calvinistic) theology. I am, by no means, an insider with what is happening at LC. I personally know none of the parties involved. I only write this because, from the outside looking in, this appears to be the working of one with whom I am all too familiar. I've seen him divide churches and weaken marriages. I've seen him divide brother against brother. Of course, I'm speaking of our old foe, the devil.

Satan's lies and deceptions are so cunning that he is able to make the wrong seem right. Or as the Apostle wrote, "Satan disguises himself as an angel of light" (2 Cor. 11:14). None of us are above being influenced by his lies. Even as I write this I am prayerful that my own motives are pure and that I am not adding to the division that Satan has orchestrated--that Satan is not using me. The danger is so great that the New Testament gives continual warning. He is described as a vicious lion and we are charged to stay on the alert - "Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls about like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour" (1 Pet. 5:8). We are warned to be on guard against his schemes, "in order that no advantage be taken of us by Satan, for we are not ignorant of his schemes" (2 Cor. 2:11). None of us are above his attack and deceptions. The Apostle Peter knew personally how Satan can use us to hinder the work of the Kingdom of our Lord. The words, "Get behind Me, Satan" (Matt. 16:23) must have forever burned upon his ears. Pastors (and church and denominational leaders) must be mature because of the danger - "and not a new convert, so that he will not become conceited and fall into the condemnation of the devil" (1Tim. 3:6). We must understand the source of many of the disputes between brothers - "for our struggle is not against flesh and blood . . ." (Eph. 6:12). The point is, we are all in danger of being deceived and distracted by the lies of the devil. Satan is so cunning that, while listening to his lies, we can actually believe we are doing the work of God - "but an hour is coming for everyone who kills you to think he is offering service to God" (John 16:2).

I say all of this because the dispute at LC bears all the marks of this old familiar, lying foe. Is Calvinism really the enemy? I could understand the dispute if it was an issue of heretical doctrine; if it was a denial of the Trinity or justification by faith alone. But this involves a doctrine that has long been approved by a large segment of the Church. Calvinism was the fuel that fired the revival of the Protestant Reformation. It was the doctrine of the Puritans that came to build America in the 17th Century. It was the fuel that led the charge of the great missionary endeavour of men like William Carey and Adoniram Judson. And so important to the present debate, Calvinism was the doctrine of most of the founders of the SBC. W.B. Johnson, the first SBC president, held to these doctrines. P.H. Mell, who held the office of SBC president longer than any other (1861-1871, 1879-1887), held to these doctrines. The founder of Southern Seminary, J.P. Boyce, was a Calvinist. John Broadus, Basil Manly, William Williams - the list goes on and on, were all Calvinists. So do we really want to make this the issue that will divide our Convention today?

So why do I say that this bears all the marks of our fiendish foe? Because while the very foundation of our culture has fallen into moral and spiritual decay, the Church has been largely silent. We are too busy devouring one another. Our nation is confused over very basic questions. What constitutes a marriage (or a family)? When does life begin? Is is proper to kill babies? And how do we respond? Get rid of the Calvinists! My friend, Jim Law, recently stated it well on his blog: "In a culture that is jettisoning biblical foundations by the hour, there is no time for this! In a church fractured by disputes and misplaced devotions, there is no time for this! In a world where there are billions who have never heard the name of Jesus Christ, there is no time for this!"

Again, I am not an insider in this dispute. And I am not writing with any desire to enter the debate, but as an outsider looking in, it would appear that there are brothers who have been hurt because they hold to a set of doctrines that have long been accepted within orthodox Christianity, and by our own Convention. We need to put an end to this madness and stop being prey to the schemes and devices of our true enemy. We need to rise up together with one heart to advance the Kingdom of our Lord.

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