Just before leaving the state of Florida on my way to Texas for the Southern Baptist Convention next week, our family stopped to visit dear friends who live in the panhandle. As we shared dinner in their home with another pastor and his family, I was informed of a “care package” that arrived today in the mailboxes of pastors throughout the state.
It seems that Dr. John Sullivan, the Executive Director of the Florida Baptist Convention, has mailed a set of Jerry Vines’ sermons entitled, “Baptist Battles,” to ever pastor in the Florida Baptist Convention. These are sermons that Dr. Vines preached at First Baptist Church of Woodstock, GA last year. One of those messages is entitled, “Calvinism, A Baptist and His Election.” I reviewed that sermon not long after it was preached.
I ended my assessment of that mistake-laden message with these words:
One final observation: Dr. Vines’ message screams for a response from denominational leaders who never hesitate to issue warnings to Southern Baptist Calvinists whom they label “Calvinazis” and charge with being more willing to fly across the country to debate Calvinism than to cross the street to witness to a lost person. Wouldn’t it make sense that those who issue such warnings should feel some compulsion to issue them in both directions? Will this kind of complete misrepresentation of the theological heritage of the Southern Baptist Convention and the theological convictions of thousands of Southern Baptist pastors be given a pass by denominational leadership? If recent history is any indicator, that is exactly what we can expect.
Little did I know. Not only has the denominational leadership of my own state convention given Dr. Vines a pass on this sermon, they have used God’s money to send it to every Southern Baptist in the state!
This mailing comes on the heels of a very egregious attempt last week by a state convention executive to intimidate pastors in a local association in our state over the issue of Calvinism–a matter into which I have been drawn and that I am in the midst of personally investigating in hopes of seeing it resolved. So far I have been unsuccessful in getting this person to return my phone call. At least one pastor who has spoken with people in the denominational state office about this affair has been disappointed in the response.
I don’t know what is going on in Jacksonville, but I hope to find out. This much is clear: the mailing of Dr. Vines’ sermon on Calvinism is a clear indication that the Executive Director of the Florida Baptist Convention has an agenda to demonize the ministers and churches in our state who believe what the founders of the Southern Baptist Convention believed regarding the grace of God in salvation. This is a serious matter. Very serious.