A Proverbial Dilemma Presented by Some Anti-Calvinists

Gerald Harris’ recent editorial against Calvinism has raised an old dilemma for me and, I would guess, for many other Southern Baptists. Harris pieces together quotes, rants, gratuitous assertions with scare tactics and non sequiturs in order to warn that “the Calvinists are here.” As I mentioned in some preliminary reflections yesterday, his editorial hit me as a blast from the past. I keep hoping that Southern Baptists have moved beyond this type or rhetoric with a desire to replace it with meaningful engagement over doctrinal issues–even, and perhaps, especially, regarding those doctrines over which we disagree. The publication of Whosoever Will is a big step in that direction. The authors in that book have stated their cases in writing and put them into the arena of public engagement for all to consider. I applaud editors Steve Lemke and David Allen for this accomplishment.

Harris’ article, however, is in a completely different category. The Georgia pastor who sent it to me understandably called it a “hit piece.” “Infuriating,” “incoherent,” “stupid” and “lumpy” are other words that have been used to describe it. Overall, it strikes me as foolish. Thus my dilemma, the horns of which are stated in Proverbs 26:4-5,

Answer not a fool according to his folly,
lest you be like him yourself.
Answer a fool according to his folly,
lest he be wise in his own eyes.


Tom Ascol has served as a Pastor of Grace Baptist Church in Cape Coral, FL since 1986. Prior to moving to Florida he served as pastor and associate pastor of churches in Texas. He has a BS degree in sociology from Texas A&M University (1979) and has also earned the MDiv and PhD degrees from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Ft. Worth, Texas. He has served as an adjunct professor of theology for various colleges and seminaries, including Reformed Theological Seminary, the Covenant Baptist Theological Seminary, African Christian University, Copperbelt Ministerial College, and Reformed Baptist Seminary. He has also served as Visiting Professor at the Nicole Institute for Baptist Studies at Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, Florida. Tom serves as the President of Founders Ministries and The Institute of Public Theology. He has edited the Founders Journal, a quarterly theological publication of Founders Ministries, and has written hundreds of articles for various journals and magazines. He has been a regular contributor to TableTalk, the monthly magazine of Ligonier Ministries. He has also edited and contributed to several books, including Dear Timothy: Letters on Pastoral Ministry, The Truth and Grace Memory Books for children and  Recovering the Gospel and Reformation of Churches. He is also the author of From the Protestant Reformation to the Southern Baptist ConventionTraditional Theology and the SBC and Strong and Courageous. Tom regularly preaches and lectures at various conferences throughout the United States and other countries. In addition he regularly contributes articles to the Founders website and hosts a weekly podcast called The Sword & The Trowel. He and his wife Donna have six children along with four sons-in-law and a daughter-in-law. They have sixteen grandchildren.
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