Monday, June 27, 2011

Conference of Southern Baptist Evangelists: Calvinism, Revivals, Evangelism, Tracts

PHOENIX (BP)--The need for renewed evangelism, concerns about Calvinism and comments regarding North American Mission Board budget cuts were voiced during the annual evangelists-sponsored worship service prior to the SBC annual meeting.

The Conference of Southern Baptist Evangelists' gathering June 12, with the theme "Ageless Urgency," featured three preachers: Eric Fuller, Harold Hunter and Brian Fossett.

"If there was ever a time that evangelism needed to be at the forefront, now is that time," COSBE president's, Braxton Hunter, told the assembly. "There is little concern for evangelism in our convention."…

Calvinism is "a big problem today in our country, and among Christians," [Eric] Fuller said.

"If you are a Calvinist in this place this morning, stop trying to convert Christians to Calvinism and begin sharing the Gospel with lost people so that the Lord can convert them to Christianity," Fuller said. "If you are a non-Calvinist this morning, stop talking about sharing the Gospel and get out there and actually do it.

Brian Fossett, a former COSBE president and member of Liberty Baptist Church in Dalton, Ga., preached from Ephesians 4:11, encouraging attendees to get back to "the three T's" of evangelism -- "tracts, training and testimonies" -- that he said would "revolutionize our churches."

Harold Hunter, president of Trinity College of the Bible and Theological Seminary in Newburgh, Ind., and the father of Braxton Hunter, said in his message he is "burdened about the direction of our Southern Baptist Convention," noting that Southern Baptists baptized 17,416 fewer people in 2010 than in 2009, representing the lowest number of annual baptisms in 60 years.

"Evidently this new wave of trying to be relevant to the people in the bars on Friday night is not really working," Harold Hunter said. "Either what you do at your church and what this convention does is supernatural or it's superficial."…

"I hear those of Reformed theology say, 'Well, the founders of our great convention -- all of them were basically Calvinists,'" Hunter said, adding that for every Calvinistic founder of the SBC he could name three who were not.

"Let me tell you something: It was not the giants, be they Calvinists or not, who made the Southern Baptist Convention great," Hunter said. "It was the great host of people whose names are never mentioned: the evangelists, the missionaries, the small church pastors, the laymen, and the women, bless God."

Noting he wanted to "clearly preach about the ethics of those who aspire to leadership in our convention," Hunter said: "There is scarcely a week goes by that in my office I hear of some church fallen into disrepair because some man who was a Calvinist -- limited atonement -- and didn't tell the pulpit committee or the deacons until he became pastor, and then it split the church. I believe you ought to be honest. If that's what you are, then tell them that's what you are.", June 21, 2011, by Norm Miller and Art Toalston.

Read the entire Baptist Press article: COSBE Lifts Evangelism, Laments Funding Cuts

Conference of Southern Baptist Evangelists (COSBE)

-David R. Brumbelow, Gulf Coast Pastor, June 27, AD 2011.

Other articles of interest:
Patriotism and Christian Worship
Unlimited Atonement, Jesus Died for All
Acts 29, Alcohol, and the Southern Baptist Convention
See more under Gulf Coat Pastor Articles (Labels) in lower right margin. 


  1. Then you should also tell noncalvinist to stop trying to convince people of their view of election, man's condition, atonement too....

  2. I am tired of people pointing to Calvinism as the scapegoat for our lack of Evangelism. It seems that non-Calvinists have to correct Calvinists before they ever evangelize. I believe the real source of the problem is the church has bought into and peddling a weak gospel, thus producing weak Christians at best. There is a place for discussing and debating Calvinism in a God honoring way. But let's stop laying the blame at the feet of Calvinists. Let's look at the Gospel we preach and share and determine if it is a strong and healthy gospel.

  3. Adam,
    I agree with you to a point. Some Calvinists, however, are a hindrance to evangelism. Believing the elect will get saved no matter what, and the non-elect will go to Hell no matter what, has a tendency to dampen evangelistic zeal in the hearts of some Calvinists.

    Baptist Press also recently reported,
    -"You Calvinists scare me," [Paige] Patterson said, adding that he can always "put up with" people who hold different theological opinions as long as they are evangelistic. [Mark] Dever said likewise he was frightened when people claimed to be Calvinists but refused to evangelize. -

    You can understand a little more of why evangelists tend to be negative toward Calvinism when so many Calvinists have spoken negatively, and even mockingly, about having about Revival meetings. That directly undermines the work of the vocational evangelist. On the other hand, I’ve know of at least two effective 5 point Calvinist vocational evangelists, but they seem to be the exception.

    I agree that some non-Calvinists have not fully explained and preached salvation. Some non-Calvinists tend to make salvation too simple; some Calvinists tend to make salvation too difficult. So there is room for criticism on both sides.

    Last, I grew up in revivalism. My dad preached numerous revivals. My older brother was in full-time evangelism for years and I preached a number of revivals in my younger years. I’m all for vocational evangelists and Revivals.
    David R. Brumbelow

  4. "Some Calvinists, however, are a hindrance to evangelism."

    Let's accept for the sake of argument that this is true. Which is a bigger issue in the SBC? The 5% that are Calvinists, or the 95% that are not? Talking about the anti-missionary tendencies of some Calvinists is one thing. Blaming the 5% for the failings of the other 95% is another. Or I should say this: if the lack of evangelism of the 5% that are Calvinists is blamed on Calvinism, then what is the lack of evangelism of the 95% that aren't Calvinists to be blamed on? It is a double standard, and a major reason why it is scapegoating.

    "Believing the elect will get saved no matter what, and the non-elect will go to Hell no matter what, has a tendency to dampen evangelistic zeal in the hearts of some Calvinists."

    If this is true, then the onus needs to be on the non-Calvinists who reject this doctrine to evangelize more. Instead of holding the people who share their own beliefs accountable, the men cited in this article launched into searing attacks against 5% of the convention.

    "You can understand a little more of why evangelists tend to be negative toward Calvinism when so many Calvinists have spoken negatively, and even mockingly, about having about Revival meetings ...I’m all for vocational evangelists and Revivals."

    Well then, you should know that one of the most prominent vocational revivalists in history was George Whitefield, a 5 point Calvinist. There have been plenty of great Calvinist revivalists and evangelists. Non-Calvinists, especially anti-Calvinists, either pretend that they do not exist, or when forced to deal with their existence, claim that "they weren't REALLY Calvinists in their heart" or claim that their evangelistic zeal and success were despite their Calvinism.

    And by the way: the 95% non-Calvinists in the SBC includes PLENTY of folks who look down on revivals and keep evangelism at arms length for a variety of reasons (including a willingness to accommodate a prevailing culture that despises evangelicals, and especially missionaries and evangelists) just as much as the Calvinists allegedly do. The idea that the SBC is 95% Adrian Rogers style evangelists and revivalists and 5% Calvinists couldn't be further from the truth.

    Look, even if Calvinism is a problem in the SBC, it is not the main problem. Not by a long shot. But it seems that it is far more convenient to go after Calvinism - or to blame everything on Calvinism - than it is to address the bigger, tougher issues.

  5. Anonymous healtheland,
    You mention 5% 5-point Calvinists in the SBC. The survey to which you apparently refer also reveals 20% or more Calvinists coming out of our seminaries; probably especially the one in Louisville.

    And when you go to a number of SBC blogs the percentage seems to be reversed with about 95% commenters pro, even militant, Calvinist.

    Some have argued, and a study has shown, that on average, non-Calvinists do evangelize more. Of course there are exceptions both ways. And I also know there are multiple reasons for the decrease in baptisms.
    David R. Brumbelow

  6. David: That Calvinists do not believe in or do not evangelize is simply, totally, untrue. We have a great burden for the lost, we want all to know Christ and his message of salvation. We believe the Gospel ourselves and therefore we speak it(2 Corinthians 4:13). Calvinists and non-Calvinists should have the burden to give the Gospel to every creature. I believe it is the evidence of our salvation when we want to give it to others. I am not unique in this, all Calvinists believe the same way. All Christians believe the same way.

    But you can wish Calvinists to leave the SBC. I don't think that will happen, but you may wish it.

  7. Calvinism is not a problem.... if the issue is a lack of evangelism---you see it in all camps. In my experience, Calvinistic friends are far more evangelistic than my Arminian friends.

    Who is this guy that tells Calvinist to stop trying to convert others to their view? If you preach through text of the NT you will have to deal with depravity, election, etc... I could say, hey all of you Arminians, can you quite fighting against divine election and teach your people the truth about election found in Romans 9?

  8. If there is a lack of evangelism in the SBC, I do not think that the answer is a guy with five suits and five sermons who will come in and try to manipulate people down an aisle so that he can boast about how many decisions he had in his next newsletter.

  9. Most recent Anonymous,
    And it is precisely your attitude that I think many evangelists are speaking out against.

    Are there bad evangelists? Yes. Some think the answer is therefore to never have a Revival. The answer, however, is to use the good, godly evangelists who love the lost. There are many of them. Check with an evangelistic pastor who uses evangelists and Revivals and he can point you in the right direction.

    In your anonymous mocking of evangelists and Revivals, could you be one who goes to the opposite extreme? You would be suprised at the number of people in our convention who were saved in a Revival meeting.
    David R. Brumbelow

  10. Calvinism takes away from the central message of God’s love for a lost world of humanity. Calvinism makes salvation more complicated than the simple truths taught in God’s Word. It diverts time and energy away from the work of the Church.

    In scripture we find these simple truths:
    God knows from eternity past who will love him. (Romans 8:29)
    Those that love God, choose to love God and believe his provision for their salvation. (Ephesians 1:13)
    God has a plan for those that love Him, that they may be conformed to the image of Christ. (Romans 8:29)
    God’s invitation is open to “whosoever.” (John 3:16, and other references.)

    God did not make it complicated. We should not either.

    Praise be His Holy Name.


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