Observations on Ralph Green’s Criticisms of Lifeway’s Gospel Project

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I recently asked where Southern Baptist Pastor Ralph Green’s evidence was against LifeWay that their new Sunday School curriculum, The Gospel Project, is a tool for Calvinist indoctrination.1 Twenty days later, SBC Today has provided Green’s evidence.2

I am grateful Pastor Green finally posted the evidence for his charges. Does Green’s evidence make the case that The Gospel Project is a Calvinist indoctrination tool? Theological preferences may have a lot to do with whether or not Green’s case is convincing. What follows are observations on Green’s evidence against LifeWay using selected quotes from his recent article. [3.Unless otherwise footnoted, all of the following quotes are taken from Green’s SBC Today article in footnote 2.]

I was shocked at some of the comments I read at SBCToday when the first article was posted.

Many were shocked that Green poured out over 1,000 words complaining about The Gospel Project (TGP) with providing any evidence of his complaints.

Do the ‘less-than-favorable’ comments bother you?

No. What bothers me is that some of those who write “Sola Dei Gratia” after their names have offered so little grace to you for re-posting my article or to me regarding my perceptions of the curriculum.

What bothers me and others is that a “pastor” would write many words against his fellow Christians with no proof contained within them. There was no proof of how he arrived at his perceptions. Some may even say that Green was stirring up strife.

While I believe there are some black and white evidences of Calvinism on the pages of TGP, I say again that Southern Baptists ought not take my word for it. They should do the research for themselves.

Agreed. Now let’s see the black and white. Green explains that one of his deacons had problems with TGP.

What are the deacon’s issues with the curriculum?

He told me, “God’s love is not evident. This isn’t theology; it’s philosophy.” He also spent countless hours reading and researching the curriculum and gave me a multi-page report of his findings.

Is this a statement about TGP, Calvinism, or both? What is the deacon’s statement based on? I would love to read the multi-page report.

Speaking of perceptions, I think that poses a huge problem for LifeWay. People will have various perceptions about the curriculum. I get that. But what LifeWay needs to realize is that perception is reality.

Noting that people will have various perceptions does not really explain why it would be a problem for LifeWay. General statements that perceptions exist does not make a point.

SBC Today asks what the deacon found was wrong with TGP. The answer is three paragraphs about what the deacon believes about Calvinism, but nothing specifically about TGP other than there are Calvinists on TGP’s advisory board. (Remember the multi-page report.) Is poisoning the well acceptable evidence for Green and his deacon?

Next, Green is asked about the problems he found in TGP.

First of all, I need to say that my associate pastor and I both earned M.Divs. from Southeastern Seminary. That means we have the training and resources to use in serving the members of our church. With these tools, we spent hours examining the curriculum and came to the conclusion that we, as a church, could not use it.

Keep in mind that Green’s appeal to his educational qualifications that allow him to critique TGP materials. Side note – wouldn’t congregationalism have Green bring the material for congregational approval or is this an elder-ruled church?

Next, my awareness that the advisory board is almost totally Calvinist, and many of the lesson writers are too – that gave me a predisposition toward the curriculum.

Green admits his predisposition so how can he give an impartial critique?

So, I had concerns that every time I read the word “grace” I wondered, “Is this the Calvinistic ‘irresistible’ grace or the traditional Baptist view of grace?” This drew my attention to other theologically laden terms in the curriculum that were not defined.

Remember, Green explained that he is theologically qualified to examine the material. Yet, he “wondered” whether or not “grace” meant “irresistible grace”? Shouldn’t his training helped him understand those “theologically laden terms”? What is the “traditional Baptist view of grace”? To what kind of Baptist does Green refer?

From lesson one (p. 14, Fall 2012 TGP Leader’s Guide), is this statement that I believe is a problem:

“It is also an act of grace that God would reveal Himself to us personally. God was under no obligation to pull back the curtain and let us see aspects of His character and evidences of His power. He could have spoken the world in existence and then never spoken again, leaving us in ignorance about our Creator and our purpose.”

Green complains about this hypothetical given in TGP.

The problem is that the last sentence of the above hypothetical statement is not true because it dismisses a major aspect of God’s character, His love. One thing God cannot do is to act in a manner contrary to His own nature.

Hypothetical statements are used to make a point, are often speculative and do not have to be true. Green misses the very definition of a hypothetical statement. Ironically, TGP using the hypothetical to magnify the greatness of God’s love.

What other issues did you discover?

This quote noting the temptation of Adam and Eve (p. 51, Fall 2012 TGP Leader’s Guide) says: “The point of the story is not about the type of fruit, as if the fruit juices would poison the minds of Adam and Eve. No, the poison of sin coursed through their veins before the fruit entered their mouths. ‘It was the not the nature of the tree that made it dangerous, the bearer of covenant curse and death, but what it stood for, obedience to the word of God.’”

What is wrong with those statements about Adam and Eve?

Does this mean the first couple was fallen before they fell?

Some have voiced that observation to me. But, taken at face value, those statements make God the author of evil which is clearly contrary to Scripture. And the tree as the bearer of covenant curse? That sounds like Calvinistic theology to me. And how can it not be? The last sentence is attributed to Michael D. Williams, a writer for P&R Publishing.

Green does not explain his assertion that those statements “make God the author of evil” even though it actually says that the sin coursed through Adam and Eve.

Speaking about Covenants sounds Calvinistic? How the second president of the Southern Baptist Convention, R. B. C. Howell, who wrote the following about Adam and Eve just after they ate the forbidden fruit.

The deed was done! The tempter triumphed. All was lost. The obligations of the covenant, and its curses alone remained. 3

Sounds Baptist to me! Many Southern Baptists are not covenantal in their theology, but are dispensational. Note that Dispensationalism is rooted in non-Baptist, Calvinist theology.

The next complaint is that Williams works at the non-SBC Covenant Theological Seminary. Green notes that Williams “and other non-Southern Baptists are cited in the curriculum as “Voices from the Church.””

So you think that Southern Baptists in a Southern Baptist Sunday school class reading from literature published by a Southern Baptist entity would think “Voices from the Church” implies that the “Voices” are Southern Baptists?

It’s worse than that. The theological persuasion of some of these “voices” is not revealed.

If those in a Southern Baptist Sunday school class limit “church” to only Southern Baptists then they have a very limited view of who makes up the church. Is the theological persuasion of every author in every SBC curriculum revealed? What exactly is revealed? Does Green ever teach church history to his congregation? Is every theological persuasion of each early Christian revealed?

Much of Green’s following complaints follow the path of his criticisms about Williams using guilt by association. I.e. the authors are not Southern Baptists or affiliated with Southern Baptist institutions, etc. which does not prove Green’s case in favor of TGP being a Calvinist indoctrination tool. He also points out that one of the authors is a Wesleyan (Arminian) and one is a humanist which would seem to run contrary to promoting a Calvinism.

Did you note any others cited as part of the curriculum?

Sure. Not everyone has Calvinistic convictions or is a professor at a non-Southern Baptist institution.

Green’s concession goes against his theory that TGP is a Calvinist indoctrination tool.

I understand you had a telephone conversation with TGP Editor Trevin Wax.

Yes, I did. Our conversation was straightforward, but it was also congenial. I shared my concerns with Trevin, and he said he took them seriously and would use them to inform the spring quarter literature for TGP. But when Trevin told me that he was a 4-point Calvinist — this only confirmed for me that I had made the right decision in returning the curriculum.

How did Trevin’s theological position confirm Green’s concerns? Are only non-Calvinists able to provide unbiased theological discernment? Any author or editor of a theological writing is, of course, going to defend their project. Who wouldn’t?

I cited a passage from one lesson that was problematic for me and told Trevin I was taking it at face value. He told me I shouldn’t do that. And when I noted another passage I felt I couldn’t take at face value, he told me I should. Not only was that confusing, I concluded I had been hearing double-speak.

Which passages is Green talking about? As a theologically educated pastor, Green should know their are nuances in theology that require careful, contextual thinking and explaining. Trevin’s perspective of the conversation would be interesting.

What are your sentiments at this point?

I’m frustrated. I’m extremely disappointed. I feel like I’ve been deceived, and I don’t appreciate that. I will never buy another LifeWay curriculum without inspecting it from stem to stern. And you know, I shouldn’t have to work that hard on materials my own denomination produces. I don’t have time to be looking for hidden meanings. That irritates me. It bothers me that I can’t trust what LifeWay sends me.

I feel like I’ve been deceived by Green’s charges against fellow Christians that they are intending to use TGP as a Calvinist indoctrination tool. Like his first article, this one offers little concrete evidence of such a ploy. Maybe the problem is that Green is looking for hidden Calvinistic meanings in the material. Also, it does not follow that because Green disagrees or dislikes a particular stream of Baptist theology that he cannot trust LifeWay.

What kind of problems did you envision if you had decided to use the curriculum?

One problem would have been this: I really do have rocket scientists in our congregation. Given their tendency to do research, they would have discovered many of the same problems I did and would have asked me why we decided to use that kind of material.

On one hand, some in Green’s congregation would have found the same problems he did with TGP and questioned his judgment.

Also, it’s hard enough to get folks to witness. They come up with every excuse as to why they can’t. If we add to that the thought that God saves who He wishes, then we think we’re excused from witnessing, but are still acceptable to God for our lack of obedience to His Great Commission.

On the other hand, TGP would have been so influential in the same congregation that spotted the same problems Green did that it would have given them excuses not to share the gospel. Which is it?

Given Green’s charges of not TGP not revealing the theological persuasion of its authors, does he disclose the Calvinist persuasion early Southern Baptists? How about that of Charles Spurgeon or William Carey? Or does Green not teach any type of Baptist history that includes Calvinistic evangelists and missionaries? An honest teaching on such evangelists would help sway his congregation not to use Calvinism as an excuse not to evangelize.

In Green’s first article on SBC Today he wrote:

We are not Calvinistic or Reformed or Arminian, but we are Baptists. I don’t appreciate LifeWay producing curriculum that promotes a flawed theological system to interpret Scripture.4

Recall Green’s appeal to his educational qualifications in light of his theological category confusion. Green’s confusion is easily shown not only by reading the Southern Baptist Founders, but in a Baptist Press report citing David Dockery on the roots of the SBC.

At the founding of the Southern Baptist Convention in May 1845, it would have been difficult to find leaders who were not Calvinistic in their theology, Dockery said.5

Mr. Green, that flawed theological system was held by most of the SBC Founders as David Dockery noted. Why would you want to be part of a Convention that was started by those who promoted such a flawed theological system?

Indeed, let’s get back to being Baptists.

-Mark

P.S. Here are some other responses to Pastor Green.

Tags: , , , , ; Categories: Arminianism,Baptist,calvinism,Christianity,Church Issues,politics,Southern Baptist,theology
The above article was posted on August 21, 2012 by Mark Lamprecht.
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{ 29 comments… read them below or add one }

1 SAGordon August 21, 2012 at 1:42 pm

Mark,

Well said.

Interesting addendum related to the folks @sbctoday. I commented earlier in agreement with another who pointed out a problem with Pastor Green’s assertion regarding Calvinism, sovereignty, and grace negating God’s love. Just a few minutes before I began typing this comment I had gone back over there to check the latest. The latest is that my comment saying I agreed with the other person had been deleted…without any concern for their ‘due process’ established by their new commenting policies. Not an email to me. Nothing…must’ve been my signature ‘SolaGratia’…seems I read in the interview that is offensive to use when you criticize another man’s ad hominem attacks on Calvinists…not to mention unsubstantiated claims of subterfuge.

Oh well.

SolaGratia!

2 Chris Coppenbarger August 21, 2012 at 1:47 pm

I’ve complained for years that the Lifeway curriculum was too much fluff, having taught both Adult and Children’s S.S. curriculum from Lifeway. It was simply not enough Gospel, and had to bring the Gospel in rather than simply the feel-good Bible story of the week. I’m thankful that Lifeway is finally producing a Gospel-centered curriculum. It’s too bad that some SBC people still want the same ole fluff. Perhaps that’s the problem with the SBC. They like fluff, and not Gospel.

3 John August 21, 2012 at 1:59 pm

Over this past weekend SBCToday published an article by R. G. Lee. In the preface to the article they claimed that
Lee was elected for an “unprecedented” third term as SBC President. I reminded them twice that this was incorrect information and they just deleted my comment without explanation or CORRECTION.
If you can’t believe them about such mundane things, how could you ever trust them to get anything right. Ignorance is one thing, willful ignorance is quite another. Ignorance superceeded by arrogance perhaps!

Green’s drumbeat of difference is a gnat’s hide stretched over a washtub of “predisposition”!

4 Mark August 21, 2012 at 2:16 pm

Scott, thanks. I’m sorry for your trouble at SBC Today. Based on what you shared, I don’t understand why your comment was deleted.

5 Mark August 21, 2012 at 2:19 pm

Chris, you’re not the only one to complain about fluff. You’d think Satan himself wrote the curriculum.

6 Mark August 21, 2012 at 2:19 pm

John, what exactly is the incorrect information they posted?

7 SAGordon August 21, 2012 at 2:20 pm

Mark,

I am especially interested in a non-Baptist position Pastor Green has advocated by his argumentation. You have drawn attention to it, but let me expound. Something Pastor Green implied through one of his assertions stands contrary to this: “Each congregation operates under the Lordship of Christ through democratic processes. In such a congregation each member is responsible and accountable to Christ as Lord” from our Baptist Faith and Message, as well as this statement from the 2000 review committee: “We honor the principles of soul competency and the priesthood of believers, affirming together both our liberty in Christ and our accountability to each other under the Word of God.”

Seems to me that the proffering of his degree and that of the pastoral staff sets up an elder rule which is contrary to our Baptist convictions (unless, of course, the church has chosen to give those specific people the privilege of making such decisions…that, as we read in his interview, is not how he couched his argument. He couched it in the terms that his and other staff members with the degrees were more qualified to make the decision than those unsuspecting people of his church family. Sad. Seems someone should disciple them in all things our Lord has commanded us).

Again,
SolaGratia!

8 John August 21, 2012 at 3:15 pm

Mark, just what I said. Lee’s three years was not unprecedented. P.H. Mell, a Calvinist served more than 16 years! Just google SBC Presidents and you will see who and when set Precedents.
Lee was not “unprecedented”.

9 Mark August 21, 2012 at 3:19 pm

Thanks, John. I was just wondering if you had a list of some sort.

10 Mark August 21, 2012 at 3:19 pm

As Dave Hester would say, “Yeeeep!”

11 Mark August 21, 2012 at 3:20 pm

Oops, I had to update the post as I realized I hit publish too soon and had not actually finished with a few thoughts.

12 Scott Sullivan August 21, 2012 at 3:26 pm

So now I have to read the whole thing again?

13 exceptionnoted August 21, 2012 at 3:31 pm
14 Mark August 21, 2012 at 3:38 pm

Nah, just pick up where you find I updated the post. I won’t make the quiz that hard.

15 Joshua August 21, 2012 at 3:57 pm

Mark,

You mean, “YUUUP!” I can’t let you disrespect Dave like that. :)

16 revcort August 21, 2012 at 4:33 pm

This is an excellent response, very well thought-out and addresses all the relevant points.

It must be remembered, Pastor Green set the bar himself in his original accusations:
1. There are many overt references to Calvinism.
2. It amounts to a calvinistic indoctrination tool.
3. It left him in shock for several days after.

So, this leaves us asking the question. Do the specifics outlined in this follow-up article rise to the bar raised by Bro. Green himself? I don’t believe it does. He only cites the CONTENT of the material twice in the entire interview.

The first quote: “It is also an act of grace that God would reveal Himself to us personally. God was under no obligation to pull back the curtain and let us see aspects of His character and evidences of His power. He could have spoken the world in existence and then never spoken again, leaving us in ignorance about our Creator and our purpose.”

His critique is that this hypothetical is denying the love of God. The irony is that this quote is part of a section that is TEACHING that God loves. There is nothing overtly calvinistic in that quote. It is overtly Christian but would be acceptable to all Christians I do believe.

The second quote: “The point of the story is not about the type of fruit, as if the fruit juices would poison the minds of Adam and Eve. No, the poison of sin coursed through their veins before the fruit entered their mouths. ‘It was the not the nature of the tree that made it dangerous, the bearer of covenant curse and death, but what it stood for, obedience to the word of God.’”

The complaint here is that TGP is teaching that God is the author of sin and evil, erroneously accusing calvinism of teaching this. I suppose if we are to accuse the Gospel Project writers of making God the author of sin, we would have to accuse James of the same. Sin springs from the desires that are within us. Sin was already present with Adam and Eve when they were willing to listen to the accusation of satan that God simply didn’t want them to be wise like Him, and the sin of pride to become like God (they saw that the fruit was able to make them wise) was within them before they took a bite.

I don’t know what to say so I’ll just say that I pray we can all take a step back and realize that accusations like these need not be made without concrete evidence. This is one of the simplest commands of the Apostles when dealing with a group of believers cooperating for the cause of the Gospel. Don’t even entertain an accusation without evidence. Can anyone imagine hearing a terrible accusation about a pastor, elder, deacon, or lay leader in your church and making it public right away? And then waiting nearly a month before offering evidence of the claim, which turned out to be flimsy at best? The damage has been done- it is irreversible. You can’t stuff the toothpaste back into the tube. I just wish these folks, in their quest to discredit reformed doctrine, would stop short of such tactics.

17 Chris Roberts August 21, 2012 at 4:50 pm

“Which passages is Green talking about?”

I didn’t point this out in my own response, but I had the same question. Green has an issue with providing examples from the text. What was he talking about, what did Trevin bring up? His words are meaningless without the context.

“On one hand, some in Green’s congregation would have found the same problems he did with TGP and questioned his judgment… On the other hand, TGP would have been so influential in the same congregation that spotted the same problems Green did that it would have given them excuses not to share the gospel. Which is it?”

That one slipped by me, glad you caught it. :) Great point!

18 C. Meriwether August 21, 2012 at 5:19 pm

Someone needs to warn Pastor Green that the more he blusters and bellows about Calvinism, the more curious his congregants will grow about it. They will do independent research and (being rocket-scientists) will undoubtedly come to some biblical conclusions. (The ONLY reason I ever looked into the doctrines of grace was because my pastor behaved exactly like Bro. Green.)

19 revcort August 21, 2012 at 5:37 pm

This is often very true. This is a good thing, in my opinion, but it wouldn’t be good in the view of Pastor Green. Our people NEED to understand what these discussions are about. They need to know what they believe and they need to understand, at least in a general way, what the prevailing views are and why. Of course, from Pastor Green’s perspective, if his rocket scientist members read the Scriptures and understand the views, some are very likely to agree with the reformed view. The reason many never come to agree with it is not because it doesn’t agree with Scripture, but that they’ve never heard it. That was my trouble. I heard “calvinism” used as a curse word and thought I should avoid it. But when I began to search it out for myself, I discovered that I could no longer deny it.

The phrase “He doth protest too much” comes to mind. This excessive protesting will at the very least make his people curious about the fuss. His lack of facts and real CONTENT in his condemnation of it will leave his parishioners with no option but to search it out for themselves.

20 David (Not Adrian's Son) Rogers August 21, 2012 at 8:52 pm

Whoever formed the advisory board didn’t seem to think it important to balance the advisors theologically, so I am suspicious of whether I can trust its future fair-mindedness to non-Reformed perspectives. I’ve seen enough distortion and ignorance of Arminian positions made by numerous Calvinists to make me uneasy. I’m sure Calvinists would be suspicious of a weighted non-Reformed advisory board also.

21 Chris Roberts August 21, 2012 at 9:30 pm

David,

I’m not sure how many Calvinists have paid attention or care all that much. For instance, I have no idea who has contributed to previous Lifeway materials. It could have been 100% Calvinist or 100% non-Calvinist, I have no idea. Wouldn’t have known for this one either if it hadn’t been pointed out by others. My focus is on the content.

22 David (Not Adrian's Son) Rogers August 22, 2012 at 9:25 am

Chris,

Yes indeed it is about the content. But included with that are decisions of ordering, shipping, reviewing and then possibly deciding whether each quarter whether I could responsibly stand behind a curriculum that I could possibly be concerned about or that I will have to give rebuttal to every quarter or maybe not. Finding out that the advisory board was overwhelmingly Calvinist didn’t inspire me to trust that the curriculum would be balanced and controversy free, the advisory board sure wasn’t.

Let’s say I order it next quarter and it’s fine and the congregation likes it, and we continue to order it. But then, since I know that one quarter wasn’t Calvinist-centric, how do I know about the next? Or maybe I’ve misunderstood what it is. Is it a limited series with totally completed lessons, all of which can be reviewed in their entirety?

I am not that enthused about other current curriculum offers either, but so far, I haven’t found anything to raise a significant red flag that would require possible quarterly intensive review. Maybe there is.

I am not a Calvinist, but I read plenty of Calvinist scholarship. I also correct my congregation’s mis-perceptions about Calvinism (e.g. it being anti-evangelistic, “worshiping” John Calvin, etc.). But after examining the whole counsel of the system I find it sub-biblical, and thus have a conviction that it must be theologically critiqued when its unique perspectives arise. I present what it teaches and then step-by-step offer rebuttal and what I believe to be a more correct interpretation. I would hope Calvinists would have the same methodology if not the same conclusions as me.

Do I want to offer my congregation a curriculum that I may have to pull in the future?

23 Mark August 22, 2012 at 12:42 pm

David, it seems like your bottom line is – you don’t trust Calvinists. There is no reason why you shouldn’t trust the material.

You say that you correct your congregation’s Calvinist misconceptions. Good. Yet, for years Calvinism has been attacked and misrepresented by various well-known SBC leaders. During those years, did you trust those SBC leaders? I am being rhetorical, but no one cared much except a few vocal Calvinist blogs.

Do you think there is an agenda with TGC that raises your suspicion?

24 David (Not Adrian's Son) Rogers August 22, 2012 at 4:52 pm

I don’t know if there is an agenda. All I know is that those who formed the advisory board either OBTUSELY stacked the board with a majority of Calvinists or INTENTIONALLY stacked the board with a majority of Calvinists. [All caps replace italics; not intended as shouting.] If obtuse it does not speak well that those who wish to provide theological instruction to the whole of SBC churches assume that only those of Calvinist bent are the highest quality of advisors. If intentional then it is evidence of an attempt to Calvinize the SBC, and the suspicions of some who label themelves “Traditionalists” seem to be sustained. (I don’t adhere to that movement, by the way, and find the label and some in that movement to be sometimes as bloviating as allegedly they claim of Calvinists.)

I am disappointed with some “well-known [non-Calvinist] SBC leaders” as well as some well-known “Calvinist” leaders in the SBC.

I want an advisory board of any curriculum to be open, honest, and balanced. I would be more encouraged if the advisory board came out and said that they are aware of the controversy and they explicitly pledge to present a curriculum that is respectful of orthodox evangelical genuinely Southern Baptist perspectives that are not Reformed.

I find any assumption that Calvinism is the only expression of the Gospel to be unreasonably arrogant and sectarian. I also find that any assumption that anti-Calvinism is the only expression of the Gospel also to be arrogant and sectarian. While I find that Calvinism to be wrong I will not say that Calvinists are outside of orthodox evangelical genuine Southern Baptist parameters.

25 David (Not Adrian's Son) Rogers August 22, 2012 at 5:04 pm

I just noticed you said TGC. At first I thought it was The Gospel Project. Do you mean The Gospel Coalition? Yes I do think that The Gospel Coalition has a condescending attitude and thusly an agenda that the Reformed perspective is the only expression of what constitues an understanding of the Gospel. I think that some in The Gospel Coalition believe non-Reformed professors of Christ to be saved “just barely.”

26 Mark August 23, 2012 at 12:49 pm

David, sorry, I mean TGP not TGC. I have trouble with the P in that acronym for some reason.

Did the editors intentionally stack the deck with Calvinists? Have you why the authors were chosen? It was not because of Calvinism. Maybe you can read the editors’ minds and reveal the truth that they want to “Calvinize the SBC.” However, If you cannot read their minds you must accuse them of lying.

27 David (Not Adrian's Son) Rogers August 23, 2012 at 1:49 pm

As I said above I offer two possibilities for the selection of a Calvinist majority as the advisory board: conscious intention or obtuseness. I don’t know which. I hope that it wasn’t an attempt at consciously Calvinizing the SBC. But if it is an obtuse breathing of rarified air of not knowing any reputable non-Calvinists then I am perplexed as to how that makes it much better. There are other bloggers out there that genuinely believe that the best scholars are Reformed and thus one is compelled to only choose from them. That smacks of elitist snobbery and sheer ignorance.

Can you come up with a third option for the selection besides intentional stacking the deck or obtuse snobbery?

I am willing to concede that the snobbery may be low-grade and maybe even well-intentioned, but it kind of bothers me that those who hold positions in the Convention to shape SS curriculum would be that unaware of how most Southern Baptists believe (non-Calvinist) and in light of the growing controversy over the past decade that they wouldn’t even think that someone wouldn’t notice and start becoming suspect over such a stacked writing influence.

Do you know for sure it was not “because of Calvinism” whether (a) intentional for Calvinizing or (b) a sub-conscious assumption that Calvinists are the best (elitism)?

Why the stacked board?

28 Mark August 23, 2012 at 2:11 pm

David, below are Trevin Wax’s answer from an SBCVoices interview about the advisory counsel for TGP. There seems to be two ways to take Trevin’s answer: 1. he is telling the truth or 2. he is lying.

Okay, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty. There has been some criticism leveled and suspicions have been raised about The Gospel Project because of the Advisory Council that seems to be predominantly Calvinist and includes those who are not Southern Baptist. Is “The Gospel Project” an attempt to indoctrinate Southern Baptists in “the Doctrines of Grace?”

No. When we put together the initial advisory group to give us some initial insight into the scope of topics we should cover, we invited people who were known for emphasizing the Christ-centered nature of the Scriptures. The advisory council is made up of people who think that way (and most were connected with Ed in some way).

But this “Christ-centered” emphasis is not exclusive to Reformed folks. That’s why eight of the eleven council members are Southern Baptist. The other three are Baptist, but not SBC. As far as how many are Reformed or not, I honestly do not know how many points people claim. (I just discovered recently that James MacDonald says he’s a 3.8 Calvinist!) That wasn’t a question or even a topic of conversation that came up in those initial meetings, as far as I can recall. The conversations were about how we could structure this curriculum in a way that points to Christ, not Calvinism.

We think it is great that leaders like D.A. Carson, Matt Chandler, James MacDonald, and Danny Akin would take the time (without compensation) to give us their input in how to shape a curriculum. That’s a dream team for us. They gave us input and we structured the timeline around these ideas.

29 David (Not Adrian's Son) Rogers August 23, 2012 at 2:39 pm

Thanks for the citation.

He is telling the truth and he is revealing little foresight into how this would look to some.

“We invited people who were known for emphasizing the Christ-centered nature of the Scriptures”

So, he doesn’t know many non-Reformed or non-Calvinist people who are “known for emphasizing the Christ-centered nature of the Scriptures.” His rolodex doesn’t contain a spectrum of resource people?

So it seems to be sub-conscious naive elitism and lack of foresight. The dream team just turned out to have a majority Reformed and/or Calvinist-leaning perspective.

So I would say the answer is

3. He has limited foresight about what the response would likely be, and a strangely deficient knowledge of the spectrum of available theological scholarship.

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