Paul's Passing Thoughts

Poodles Gone Wild: Reformed Leaders are Teaching Southern Baptists How to Drive

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on April 27, 2010

I entered into God’s kingdom labeled as a Southern Baptist in 1983, and I’m not blind to the many problems, well, serious problems within the denomination. In fact, I left the denomination for 15 years because I actually thought there was something better.  As I pined away in Dallas, Texas, longing for the means to move to Sun Valley and join John MacArthur’s church, how disillusioned I would have been to arrive there and find Larry Crabb in charge of the “biblical counseling” at Grace Community Church.  After reading Larry Crabb’s abominable Inside Out, I could have only stood shell shocked, and 3000 miles from home to boot. Also, the discovery that Mac wrote an endorsement for John Piper’s Desiring God, a theological novel that made Timothy Leary weep with envy, could have only added to the insult.

That was the 80’s; moving into the 90’s, after jumping ship from the SBC, I was nevertheless delighted to see Southern Baptist leaders recruiting the influence of John MacArthur and his Reformed Light theology. But my, how times have changed. For the most part, the Reformed movement, which has been picking up steam over the past 30 years, has been fairly balanced (as far as Reformed goes, relatively speaking) while adding many spiritual benefits to the evangelical community and even the SBC. But its (the Reformed movement) recent transformation in-process via “New Calvinism” is quickly becoming a fast forward study in lunacy. As a matter of fact, it would be hilarious if not for the fact that theology has life consequences. Always. This reality has brought me back home to the Southern Baptist Church, and also thankful for what I have learned. But upon my return, I see the lunacy  I fled invading the motherland. The SBC is now moving from the barking Poodle in the Bud Light commercial ( Reformed Light), to the Poodle driving the car (too heavy / New Calvinism), with accompanied occupants in the backseat being terrified while the crazy Poodle runs other cars off the road and mows down fire hydrants:

So, what is the “New Calvinism” that the Reformed movement is morphing into at breakneck speed? Well, it primarily focuses around the Gospel-Driven Life and New Covenant Theology, but the crux of what is driving it is what I want to focus on here. Namely, hermeneutics. Namely, Grammatical-Historical hermeneutics verses  Redemptive-Historical hermeneutics. I am going to keep this post simple and two-fold  because really, method of interpretation is at the very core of what is driving all of the other issues here. I think my very simple definitions that follow will also serve the purpose of this post as well.

First, GHH holds to a  (for lack of a better term) literal approach to interpretation. As the title would suggest, conclusions are drawn from the biblical text in regard to its grammatical formations of verbs, nouns, subjects, prepositional phrases etc. In the RHH, the Scriptures are approached with the idea that all words in the text are formulated for the sole purpose of projecting the finished work of Christ in both justification and sanctification. In other words, it is at least fair to say that the RHH is a much more subjective method than GHH. Many, many, many, examples could be given of how proponents of RHH often ignore tense, the location of the subject in the sentence, the plain sense of prepositional phrases, and which subject is receiving the action of the verb in order to come to a redemptive conclusion.

Though many examples could be given in regard to how these differences of interpretation effect practical theology and life, there is no more glaring, vivid example than church discipline. The difference in application determined by method of interpretation has been, and will continue to be dramatic.  To begin with, A literal interpretation of Scripture will usually result in a very limited use of church discipline. Church discipline in the GHH realm will usually, and  primarily, be applied to Parishioners Gone  Wild.  But in the RHH realm where the interpretation of every verse of Scripture is redemptive, church discipline will be seen to have a redemptive purpose. And as we know, the goal of redemption is to redeem us from sin, right? So, instead of church discipline being seen as a practical, judicial type process to keep order in the church,  RHH leaders will see it more as a process to save us from any and every sin, since we were saved by the gospel, and are still being saved by the gospel everyday. In antithesis, GHH leaders will not see church discipline as a means of tweaking the saints in the same way Bible study and one on one discipleship does; but to the contrary, RHH leaders will see church discipline as a tool for fine tuning the saints. The result? Leaders Gone Wild.

I  don’t even know where to begin to document the madness. There are a lot of Poodles driving out there. Instead of specific guidelines for specific categories of situations within the church; now, the failure to obey any, and every biblical imperative is game for church discipline. And remember, the goal is redemptive, so a mere verbal repentance that a literal interpretation would suggest will not suffice. More than likely, the discipline will be a protracted counseling situation (they use Galatians 6:1 for this) in which you will be in the discipline process (and not free to vacate membership) until you are released from counseling. As a matter of fact, in many reformed churches (including some reformed Southern Baptist Churches), when you enter into counseling with a pastor or leader, you are automatically considered to be in the redemptive church disciple process. I know of a case where an individual was meeting an elder for breakfast / discipleship every week. At some point, the parishioner took a job out of state, but was told by the elder that he was not free to leave the church because of struggles that were discovered in his life while those meetings were taking place. To leave the church at that time would have been the equivalent of leaving the church while under church discipline, according to the elder. This is by no means an isolated incident. Many, many parishioners have been under church discipline in the past without knowing it because their counseling turned out well, while others find out that “heavy counseling” and church discipline are the same thing.

Furthermore, as more and more Southern Baptist leaders continue to tag along from Reformed Light to New Calvinism, we have Southern Baptist churches bringing parishioners up on church discipline for non-attendance, not tithing, questioning doctrine, and just about anything else that falls short of holy perfection. It is unclear as to whether some  implement  a  “process” view of the actual discipline or a “repentance” view.

What we do have,  is a scary coalition of Southern Baptist leaders joining with barking Poodles and driving Poodles to supposedly stand for the gospel (T4G: Together for the Gospel [but what gospel?] ). Their new  pastor-buddy club consists of those  who hold to the GHH (MacArthur [I think, anyway] ), and several Poodles driving. As their doctrine (the driving Poodles) reeks havoc among God’s people in many other categories besides unbiblical church discipline, Al Mohler, MacArthur, and others continue to hang out with them in conferences to oppose the likes of Joel Osteen, who is supposedly a bigger threat to the well-being of God’s people than the Christian mystics that they give creditability to. However, as one example, I would be willing to bet anything that the divorce rate in Osteen’s church could not touch that of  churches that hold to New Calvinism, which are experiencing exploding divorce numbers due to there view of divorce from a “redemptive” perspective.

I conclude with two observations:

1. The SBC is already on life support, we don’t need Dr. Kevorkian presiding.
2. Any SB or Reformed saints looking for a new church home need to be privy in regard to the Poodles running any given church; do they just bark, or do they drive?


3 Responses

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  1. Stephanie Abner said, on April 27, 2010 at 9:47 AM

    I am glad that you have found us Paul!!! You are an asset to any congregation!


  2. paulspassingthoughts said, on April 27, 2010 at 7:44 PM

    Thanks for those kind words Stephanie. Gtown Chapel has been a great asset to many lives.


  3. paulspassingthoughts said, on April 1, 2012 at 5:10 PM

    Reblogged this on Paul's Passing Thoughts.


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