Johnny Hunt, Election, and Mathew 18

A few weeks ago I responded to some statements Johnny Hunt made at the 2005 SBC Pastor’s Conference. See my post Johnny Hunt on Election. I received several comments agreeing with my assessment. A few comments veered off the subject at hand and into criticism of Johnny Hunt’s ministry at FBC Woodstock. I stepped in and tried to keep people on topic. In no way did I want to allow my blog to become a platform to call into question Johnny Hunt’s integrity or denigrate his ministry. As I said, I admire and love Johnny Hunt. I have nothing personal against him or his church. In my original article I spoke of “his contagious enthusiasm, pastor’s heart, and compelling testimony.” I have been encouraged by several of his sermons. I said, “I want to make it clear – I love Johnny Hunt. I think he is an excellent man, an engaging preacher, a wonderful pastor, a motivating leader, a dedicated Christian, and a righteous zealot for souls.” I spent a great deal of time in the article acknowledging the points of agreement I had with a particular thrust of his statements under consideration; namely our mandate to indiscriminantly proclaim the good news of the gospel to everyone. I echoed his charge to “invite everyone to come to Christ! Just preach it! Invite everybody! Tell everyone!”

Johnny Hunt responded to my article with the following:

If your intent is to know what I meant, I would be delighted to respond to your Biblical understanding of Matt 18. I was courious as to why you played only 54 seconds of your 40 minute message and never once ask the deliverer one question but passed such judgement as ” damage to the cause of Christ” to name only one. I deeply love Christ and His word and attempt to preach and live it under the Lordship of Jesus Christ. I made no statement that I am ashamed of and would have welcomed any personal call or confrontation,however this site has allowed Nathan White that ought to be ashamed for what he said in light of the way I have loved him even when he was in his sin and others to “post” their statements when the Bible that you wish to honor calls for Matt.18 approach.Their is hope for everyone. It is my desire to love Jesus and to lift Him up as the Lord of salvation till I die and to encourage the Brethren. With that said I love you Brothers!

I do desire to know what he meant and so I will attempt to address each of his statements and questions directly. At the risk of sounding impersonal I’ll focus on them one at a time.

First, I played a 54 second clip of the sermon because it contained the point I wanted to address. I transcribed Hunt’s statements on election in the sermon, but felt that hearing them in his own voice would prevent someone from reading their own inflection and tone into the naked printed words. I pointed to the entire sermon, which can be heard on the SBC Pastor’s Conference web site. Let me encourage everyone to go and listen to the full sermon.

Second, Hunt asked me about my biblical understanding of Matthew 18. He believes that I should have gone to him privately with these concerns before publicly addressing them. I disagree for several reasons.

Interestingly, or perhaps I should say providentially, I will preach Mathew 18:15-20 this Sunday. I have been preaching through Galatians for the past 10 months and this Sunday we will look at Galatians 6:1. “Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.” Paul’s admonition ties directly to Jesus’ words in Mathew 18:15-18.

15 If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. 16 But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. 17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.

In this passage Jesus sets forth the pattern for church discipline /restoration. We see 1. the person, 2. the purpose, and 3. the procedure. Jesus tells us three things about the type of person he has in mind here. First, we know the person confesses to be a believer, i.e. a fellow Christian. Jesus calls him a “brother.” Second, the person has “sinned against you.” Jesus does not describe the particulars of the sin, but he notes its personal nature. Third, the person belongs to your church. While Jesus does not mention church membership explicitly, in the event that the situation reaches the third stage, the offended party consults the church body. An unsuccessful restoration results in the church removing the person from covenant membership participation. This implies the importance of meaningful church membership.

Jesus makes the purpose of these actions clear. The restoration of the erring brother, not a desire to be vindicated, ought to drive us to practice redemptive church discipline. He says, “If he listens to you, you have gained your brother.”

Jesus also sets forth a clear procedure for carrying out church discipline. Step One: You should go to the person who has sinned against you privately. The sin should not be broadcast to the world, or spread around like gossip, but should be a private matter with the goal of restoring the fellowship between the two believers. Step Two: If the one on one confrontation proves unfruitful, then bring in one or two others for arbitration. Prayerfully the unbiased third party mediation will foster reconciliation and restored fellowship between the two involved. Step Three: If the small group effort does not produce reconciliation then Jesus instructs us to bring the matter before the church. The goal of restoration should drive every step along the way. Step Four: If the person stubbornly still clings to their sin, and refuses to even listen to the loving chastisement of the church then the church regrettably must disfellowship the person. Jesus said to treat the person as a “Gentile and a tax collector.” In other words view them as being outside the community of faith and a candidate for evangelism.

Mathew 18:15-18 instructs me on how to treat a fellow church member who sins against me personally. Johnny Hunt is not a member of my local church, he does not fall under our churches authority, and most of all he did not sin against me personally. The steps of church discipline do not apply. A more applicable passage might be the example that Paul gives when he rebuked Peter publicly in Galatians 2:11-14. Peter’s subtle (yet public) actions served to undermine the gospel he proclaimed. Paul realized that Peter’s public actions required a public response. Paul rebuked Peter “before them all.” Johnny Hunt spoke his words in a very public forum. Thousands of people heard him misrepresent the biblical doctrine of God’s sovereign electing grace. I believe his public words begged for a public response.

If Hunt would have offended me on a personal level, cheated me out of some money, kicked my dog, or hustled me in a game of pool, then I would have been obligated to follow the steps Jesus set forth in Matthew 18. Johnny Hunt did not do any of those things, nor do I think for a second he ever would. Hunt spoke as a public figure, in a public forum, and his words deserve public scrutiny in the light of God’s word.

Third, Hunt chastised me for allowing Nathan White, one of his former church members, to post negative criticism against FBC Woodstock. I admit the conversation in the comment section of my blog did begin to go in a direction that I did not want to see it go. I posted a statement asking people to refrain from dealing with subjects other than the particular issue at hand. Several other people posted ugly comments and I did not approve them for public display. After Nathan said what he did, and after I requested that he refrain from deviating off the topic, he sent me a private apology. I did not know Nathan before this encounter, but after emailing him privately back and forth a few times he seems like a godly young man with a legitimate concern for the glory of Christ.

I do not know the details of Nathen’s past “sin” that Hunt publicly accused him of; nor do I want to know. It seems to me that whatever the issue might have been, Matthew 18 would apply much more directly to that situation.

Fourth, Bro. Johnny said, “I deeply love Christ and His word and attempt to preach and live it under the Lordship of Jesus Christ” and “It is my desire to love Jesus and to lift Him up as the Lord of salvation till I die and to encourage the Brethren.” I have no doubt as to the veracity of those statements. I pray that nothing I said even gave a single hint at calling those assertions into dispute. I did not question Hunts love for Jesus, his commitment to Christ, or his heart of encouragement. I focused on his misrepresentation of the doctrine of election and its supposed hindrance to evangelism.

As I said before, the doctrine of election does not negate evangelism, it ensures its success. Let’s not undermine the very foundation on which our evangelism stands. Let’s boldly proclaim the gospel to everyone. Lets savor the supremacy of Christ over all things as He uses our collective evangelistic voices to call people to Himself for His glory.

28 Comments

Don,
In my opinion, this post was well thought out and done in a humble manner. In a matter so inflammatory, you have kept a level head and moderated (I think) fairly, welcoming everyone’s take (that is reasonable of course).
Johnny Hunt is an incredible man and has profoundly impacted the lives of many pastors. There is no question as to his godliness, his convictions, his passion to please Jesus and glorify him in all that he does. I for one look to Bro. Johnny as a role model in many areas of ministry, not just preaching.
I am glad that you pointed out and clarified the Matthew 18 deal. Clearly, there is no sin involved here, and as you said, his comments were made public and should deserve public scrutiny (as should all of us who post comments by the way). Simply by me making this comment holds me accountable to the public eye and discerning minds to affirm what is right and correct me when I am wrong. I want to know if what I believe or say is unbiblical and dishonoring to my Lord, and I think it is in the heart of most sincere Christians who are serious Christians to want the same. If we are to attempt to follow the Matthew 18 model for theological comments, then all discussion and dialogue would cease.
There have been many times where I have been wrong in what I have said, and there have been even more times where I have been wrong IN THE WAY I said it. Regardless of whether we are Reformed or not, in Christ we are one. However, in that unity there is the prayer “Sanctify them in Your truth: Your Word is truth” (John 17). I do not think that it is an unkind thing to discuss and even hold preachers acountable whether they are big names or obscure folks like me to the truthfulness and faithfulness of our beliefs according to our sole authority – the Word of God. What you have done (and others attempted to do) is just that. While we affirm and admire Bro. Johnny Hunt in so many ways, we should continue to “test everything” and never lose sight that we are fallible men preaching the infallible Word of God.

I pray that there can be more dialogue, and that Calvinists will not be attacked, and that Calvinists will cont to display the attitude like Don has shown today. Don, I know I can learn alot from you. Thanks for this blog, and for not posting all my comments. I am going to pray for you and Johnny Hunt that God would open the door for a meaningful dialogue about our differences, so that we can discover that we have a common goal in honoring Christ.

Thanks
Jeff

Mr. Elbourne,
Thank you for your article addressing the commentary surrounding the critique of Pastor Johnny Hunt’s SBC Pastor’s Conference sermon. I appreciate that you emphasized your desire to conduct a debate that didn’t sink to the level of personal attack and mud slinging. I also appreciate that you accepted responsibility when, unfortunately, the discussion did head in that direction. I hope and pray that all who participate in these blog discussions heed the lessons learned from this experience and, in honor of Christ, keep future comments free of a negative and attacking spirit. Essentially, it is satan who desires to distract us with strife and division in order to keep us from being about our Fathers business, and we would do well to not aid in giving him a stronghold among us.
Sincerely His,
Connie Cox

A free and open comments system is a good thing, IMHO. If you did not know that the other fellow was a former member of his church, then I have no idea how you would be able to stop his posting because of it.

Guess you’re supposed to be clairvoyant. 🙂

Keep up the good work.

WOW! Unbelievable that someone of the stature and experience of Dr. Hunt continues to pull out the ole Matt 18 line. One would think a Pastor of his experience would understand that text a little better. Thank you for your simple, concise exposition of Matt 18!

It never ceases to amaze me – the connection between semi-pelagian theology and albeit, well meaning)emotional proof texting. Men like Pastor Hunt, who have such a great passion to win souls for the glory of Christ (there is no doubt as to his motivation ans desire) are sometimes so consumed on the winning of souls that they forget that it is God alone who does the winning!

Thank you for you excellent work!

Great job of handling this controversy Don. I think you were right on in saying that a public word spoken in a public forum deserves a public response. That seemed to be the practice of both Jesus and Paul. I do understand Hunt’s response to you, but I wished that it would have included an apology for his insensitive words against his strawman of Calvinism. The last thing we need in the SBC these days is for the the high profile guys to attack the Calvinist who are supporting them.

In light of the feedback from my post regarding Johnny Hunt, I felt it necessary to seek counsel from the elders of my church before I responded publicly. This reply comes after much prayer and council. I have seriously pondered both the words I originally directed at Mr. Hunt, and the feedback received as well. I seek only God’s glory as I address this very volatile issue.

I want to first apologize to Mr. Hunt and to the readers of Elbourne.org. In my recent post I went ‘off topic’ and brought in personal convictions such as church discipline, church government, and tithing that have no bearing on Mr. Hunt’s original words. I also misrepresented Mr. Hunt by hinting that he was “post-modern”. This was uncalled for and wrong. I made this comment only after being frustrated in dealing with some who lean towards this ideology, and it was wrong to apply this view to Mr. Hunt personally. I publicly repent of this comment and I am asking Mr. Hunt’s forgiveness. A copy of this letter will be sent to Mr. Hunt personally to clarify my words and to seek reconciliation.

Accordingly, if the convictions stated in my post were wrong, I must be corrected by the Scriptures. Unfortunately, in their replies, Mr. Hunt and others holding his views have avoided specific biblical content related to the doctrines of grace. Instead, Mr. Hunt and others also go ‘off topic’ and appeal to personal issues and proclamations of motives and character, which fail to answer the concerns raised in the original blog posting. It appears as if Mr. Hunt wishes for us to trust in his love and not question the words that were publicly stated. Assertions about loving Jesus, loving people and longing to serve Jesus do not serve to rebut the serious doctrinal concerns raised here. Even the Apostle Paul could not accurately judge his own motives, and he instructs those attempting judge motives to stop doing so (1Cor 4:4-5). The blind allegiance Mr. Hunt seems to be calling for is encouraged nowhere in the scriptures. Instead, the scriptures command us to show partiality to no man, no matter what his spiritual status may be. Even the Apostle Paul exclaimed: “But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed”. This text emphatically teaches that everyone is accountable for his representations of the truth. One might expect a more detailed, specific, and scriptural response to the primary issue from a man of his notoriety and influence in his church, community, and denominational leadership. If Mr. Hunt is indeed “adequate, equipped for every good work,” he will be able to give an answer from the Scripture as to why he rejects the doctrine that was at the foundation of the Reformation.

In his reply Mr. Hunt said I should be ashamed of myself. I have now apologized for what I know to have been wrong and poorly presented in my post, yet those issues are distinct from the original questions raised here. The issue at hand remains unaddressed and concerns the real nature of the gospel itself. To that I must say:

“I am not ashamed of the Gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” Rom 1:16

Johnny Hunt’s comments at the SBC convention, coupled with the comments made in the before referenced sermon of November 2002, clearly show that Mr. Hunt and I have mutually exclusive views concerning the fundamental nature of the gospel. One of us is wrong. Only Scripture can determine who that is. I welcome the opportunity to dialogue with Mr. Hunt, whether in person or over the internet, about these controversial but critical foundational issues. It has been said by another that the desire isn’t to have a long drawn out debate on this subject such as been going on for centuries. I agree that such an argument is not in the best interest of fellow believers. But clear hermeneutical and exegesis of biblical texts should be presented instead of the ad hominen, assertive manner of dogmatism that tends to come from those opposed to Reformed theology. I am confident that an honest look at the scriptures will indeed show which side is holding on to tradition, and which side is holding on to the correct interpretation of the scriptures which is known through proper and honest exegesis of the text. Please take my words into prayerful consideration, and honestly test them against the scriptures, no matter which position you hold.

May God’s grace abound to you Nathan. I don’t know but I respect you for what you have done here.

Jeff

Dittos Jeff. I have just recently been acquainted with Nathan as a result of this matter, and he has displayed sheer authenticity in his faith, admitting and confessing when he has been wrong, and stand for truth when he is right.
As I have learned and continue to learn, what is on the table is not the character or integrity of the people here, but their ideas/convictions/theology. We must address the issue, not the individual, and leave the matter there. If you cannot address the issue, then it is better to remain silent than to veer off into questioning a person’s character.
I will be the first to admit that I have been both on the giving and receiving end of personal statemens, and I have learned from that. Although we hold our beliefs dear and are to be passionate about the truth, we nevertheless must be able to differentiate between the thought/theology and the individual.

Great post.

I have enjoyed reading your blog. It is definitely a favorite now.

I think you handled this issue very well, and see no reason that you would be in the worng for addressing it publicly.

Now, I would love to see a response from someone in regard to the issue being discussed….the comments made in that sermon. Is what he said correct. If you believe so, why?

Nathan: I have read with interest both this blog and the original. I would just like to offer one point. Do not apologize and then add “but”. You used “accordingly” and “unfortunately” in yours.

An apology is just that. No rebuttle is allowed. If you are apologizing for something you said or did then do just that.

When we add “but” etc… we are justifying our position. Then we take back whatever we just said.

Just a thought.

Gary’s comment is interesting and certainly deserves heed for dialogue such as we’ve seen in the original thread (wow, has any other thread ever received so much activity?!). Do you really think, however, that Mr. White’s use of ‘accordingly’ and ‘however’ syntactically conditioned his apology? It didn’t strike me that way. Have you considered that White wrote an introductory/explanatory preface paragraph, carriage returned to write the apology, then proceeded to further comment (reBUTTAL) on the main subject? We usually start a new paragraph to express a new thought. To use the phrase, “just a thought”.
Let’s continue to pray for Don and his flock, that God might use them to share a clear Gospel message of hope during these days.

As a former member of First Baptist Woodstock, and a friend to Johnny Hunt, but most importantly for the cause of Christ, I feel the need to weigh in.

With all my heart I believe Brother Johnny’s position is clearly supported by the Apostle Paul in First Timothy, Chapter 2, 1I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone— 2for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. 3This is good, and pleases God our Savior, 4who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. 5For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6who gave himself as a ransom for all men—the testimony given in its proper time. 7And for this purpose I was appointed a herald and an apostle—I am telling the truth, I am not lying—and a teacher of the true faith to the Gentiles.
8I want men everywhere to lift up holy hands in prayer, without anger or disputing.

If Jesus Himself wants ALL Men to be saved and is the Mediator to the Father on All Men’s behalf, and if “Election” as you state it is correct, then why are not ALL Men being saved?

I am fully aware there are other scriptures that state your position, but in my heart of hearts, I truly believe our best time can be spent in praying for each other and not arguing amongst ourselves and waiting until Heaven to see if this argument really mattered to Almighty God.

Surely, only Satan himself, gets glory when Christian brothers openly display areas of disagreement for all the world to see.

Let us once again read what the Lord desires of His children from the above verse 8 “I want men everywhere to lift up holy hands in prayer, without anger or disputing.”

Please follow the Lord’s direction and end this discussion in obedience to His teachings.

WT, I understand what you are saying….but do you really think the discussion over the Word of God is a waste of time?

Do you really think that these Scriptures have no bearing on how we live our lives? how we minister? how we preach/teach/exhort, etc?

It is the kind of anti-theological thought that you have displayed that has caused the SBC to be in the shape it is in.
We need to return to the days where theological discussion and contending for the faith was important.

Sadly, for many it is unimportant.

I don’t think it is the Lord’s direction to end this discussion. I think it is His Word that informs our discussion….and so it does here.

I feel it must be stated again, the ones who are being contentious and argumentative are those like Johnny Hunt who make snide comments at the SBC without really knowing what he is talking about.
Have you encouraged him not to continue this discussion?

W.T.,
I can certainly attest to the good work your automotive body shop has done over the years for my Dad and I.

As far as the passage you quoted, I can assure you this passage is embraced by everyone who holds to Reformed theology. However, the exact meaning of the text should be determined by the context rather than from the human heart -I’m sure you will agree with that. And a proper understanding of this text in no way jeopardizes the Biblical truth of Reformed theology and God’s sovereign election unto salvation. I would encourage you to further research how Calvinists deal with this text in response to the interpretations of some.

In addition, by quoting this text I assume that you pray for men to be saved. When you pray for God to save others, do you pray that He will engineer favorable circumstances around those people so that they will have the greatest chance possible to freely choose Him? Or do you pray that He will in fact save those you pray for? Because if you pray for God to literally save who you pray for, then the ‘free-will’ philosophy is incorrect, as Almighty God is left dependent on the creature. Praying for God to save instead of praying for favorable circumstances makes no sense if man holds the final decision. That is just one practical reason why this passage does not support Mr. Hunt’s position.

Furthermore, John 17:9 and other passages clearly show that Christ does not intercede for all men, but for the elect only. If He did intercede for all men then all men would be saved! But I will leave that subject alone for another day.

W.T., I was especially troubled by one of your statements: “to see if this argument really mattered to Almighty God”. Well…election, elect, and predestined showed up in the Bible a total of 29 times by my quick NKJV count. This subject includes a full chapter and then some in Romans 9, a full chapter in plain terminology by our Lord in John 6 (where Jesus in 6:65 basically says the opposite of what Mr. Hunt said in the above mentioned sermon), and it is also mentioned in the beginning of nearly every one of the Pauline epistles. So an incorrect understanding of what election really means is to be greatly feared!!

Please, no matter which side you stand on, do not succumb to the evil spirit of this age that screams that doctrine doesn’t matter. This is where Satan gets the glory, when doctrine is shunned in favor of a false peace, and the exposition and discussion of truth is swept under the rug so that it doesn’t divide. This issue does matter. It affects how you pray (see above), how you evangelize, how you worship, how you deal with sin, how you read scripture etc. This issue MUST be dealt with and properly understood to live an obedient life for Christ.

I pray that you would reconsider the importance of this matter, and seek to understand why great men of God like Spurgeon, Edwards, and Luther firmly held to these doctrines.

Gentlemen,

With the utmost respect for each of you and understanding the dearness of this subject to each of our your hearts, this discussion about election dates back to the fifth century, if not even before. I can’t imagine we are going to settle this matter in our lifetimes.

As for me, I know above all things that I am saved and thank God for his unmerited grace. In simple child-like faith, I believed. Whatever else took place just doesn’t really concern me as I have yet to get over WHY the Lord Jesus would want someone like me in His heaven throughout all eternity.

May God bless each of you and please know I truly am praying for each of you and hope you will do the same for me.

W.T,

As stated several times above, this is not a subject that was picked up on a whim. This is not a subject that is dear to our hearts, but a subject that is dear to the heart of the Lord –as is clear from scripture. This discussion is about truth and error. And truth and error must be defined by the scriptures, not from a personal experience or the traditions of a church. This discussion only seeks to look at what the scriptures say. But sadly, many are not satisfied with doing that.

Saying that an argument goes back to the 5th century does not negate our responsibility to God for truth and error. Post-modern influence on the church has led to doctrine being shunned in favor of unity, and I pray that we would resist this influence and turn our attention directly to “every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God”.

SDG

I love Johhny Hunt. I’m so glad that someone around here tells the truth. The things that people are spending their time picking at and chriticizing him on don’t really matter in eternity. How about spending your time encouraging your brother in Christ for what he is doing in bringing lost people to Christ instead of basically doing what satan tries to do in discouraging Christians every day.

I do not wish to enter into any debate as I do not feel that this is the way to handle such things but I will say that it greatly saddens me to see my friend, and my pastor Johnny Hunt spoken of this way. I am so very proud of him and his leadership at our church. I am proud of the way he conducts himself personally and publicly and I am proud of his example to be a personal soul winner!

This has never been about the person of Johnny Hunt; that point has been reiterated ad nauseum. It’s ironic that those who are upset at others’ taking exception with Hunt’s doctrinal espousals declare those exceptions to be personal criticisms of Hunt, yet they defend him (he’s not the issue, ladies and WT) with personal comments like:

“How about spending your time encouraging your brother in Christ for what he is doing in bringing lost people to Christ”;
“I am so very proud of him and his leadership at our church. I am proud of the way he conducts himself personally and publicly and I am proud of his example to be a personal soul winner…”

The essential of this thread is simple. Brother Hunt used the platform of the denomi-national meeting (as opposed to an intellectual or scholarly 2 way discussion where his comments would not have gone unchallenged in front of his audience) to contribute to the disparagement of an essential biblical doctrine and of those who adhere to it and hold it dear. Hunt initiated the ‘criticism’!! Then, when his comments were reviewed and discussed in this forum, he and his ‘followers’ ‘criticized’ those who discussed and disagreed with Hunt’s ‘criticisms’.

Those people who reacted negatively to the discussion about Hunt’s comments must decided that Hunt’s comments were ‘sin’ because they said that comments about Hunt should have been addressed in accordance w/Matthew 18—I can’t find any comment that anyone other than Hunt’s defenders categorized his comments as sin!! That’s how we got here, ladies and gent. This thread took care to point out how Matthew 18 may or may not apply and commented on the applicability of that verse to a PUBLIC comment on biblical doctrine. For your consideration, if you think that Hunt has been offended, why are you taking up your brother’s offense??

Like Mr. White, I, too, can attest to the good work WT’s automotive shop has done. Tori, did you ever sing in the college ensemble? Can I encourage all of you to try to understand just why the original discussion is so important? Simply put, it’s the life application of man centered soteriology v. God centered soteriology. You can see it played out in your comments. Ask yourselves whether:

1) Johnny’s right because I love/like him/he’s my pastor;
2) Johnny’s right because the comments came from his mouth;
3) I love/like him/he’s Johnny/my pastor because he’s right; or
4) I understand the issue in question, have searched the Scriptures myself, asked for God’s wisdom to understand what the Word says and will comment based solely on an understanding of God’s Word.

Perhaps you think that, and I would hope that in the future your answer is/will be 4), above. However, a review the various ‘defenses’ of Hunt reflects thinking that clearly falls into 1, 2 or 3, above. Each of these has a man as the ultimate source of truth. You can see it in your own responses:

“I love Johnny Hunt. I’m so glad that someone around here tells the truth”;
“my friend, and my pastor Johnny Hunt spoken of this way. I am so very proud of him and his leadership at our church. I am proud of the way he conducts himself personally and publicly and I am proud of his example”
“…but in my heart of hearts, I truly believe…”

Yet only the 4th acknowledges God’s Word as the only source of truth and would hold even one’s pastor accountable to that truth and not his own. Can you see how errant doctrine leads to this place of substituting something else for God and his truth? Instead of dealing with what Scripture says about the doctrine in question, the comments dealt with the writers’ affections for Hunt, hence an implied basis for Hunt’s being ‘right’.

If your salvation doctrine is errant, can you REALLY be leading people to Lord or be an exemplary soul winner, regardless of the genuineness of your passion, zeal and heart? No. You wind up just like Finney. Remember how he lamented the folly of his ‘y’all come and make the right decision’ evangelism crusades in the 1820’s and beyond (http://www.spurgeon.org/~phil/articles/finney.htm)? He realized that his errant doctrine may have been the cause of more confusion and sadness than clarity and joy…

Peace and Blessings

Dear Mr. Pain,
I have been attending Pastor Hunt’s church for 11 years now, but as of last year I studied this issues of soteriology for myself and have come to the reformed conclusion. However, I continue to attend the church in spite of my doctrinal disagreements. I would just like to comment that upon reading this whole thread, I am deeply saddened once again by the overwhelming stench of pride and arrogance I smell at reading your comments along with a few others. I believe you along with many others have sorely mistakent the original intent of the initial post by the author. I admit that my pastor’s comment are indeed self-contradictory and confusing. I am not defending his viewpoint, since I do not agree with him, but it indeed brings great sorrow to my soul to see how pompous and elitist people of the reformed persuasion can be. I think it is terribly wrong for you to continue thumping ever arminian and/or Johnny Hunt-Defender over the head branding them as heritics. It is people such as yourself who so exquisitly fit the “Calvinist-Stereotype” that give many people of this viewpoint a bad name. It is attitudes such as your own that further fuel the flame of this debate. If the doctrine of election should do anything, it should drive you to your face and to your knees before the God who redeemed you and should so greatly humble your heart that you cease to look down your elongated nose at fellow brethren. If you are so convinced they are wrong, then dismount yourself from your high stool intellectualism and lovingly, kindly, and prayerfully share with them what you believe.

College Student,

If you accusations of pride and arrogance are true, will you please list specific examples of this? “Pompous and elitist” are very serious accusations, and they need to be backed up with specific examples. Where was the word ‘heretic’ stated or even hinted at? Why do you state that we continue ‘thumping every armininan’? – Should the errant replies that continue to come in be left unaddressed, so as to leave people in the dark, or should we strive to Biblically correct each additional argument as it comes in? Have you examined the attitudes in the responses of your fellow church members? Can you please demonstrate how they, as opposed to us Calvinists, have demonstrated this humility we have missed?

I am sounding kind of ironic here, but you should be sorely ashamed of your comments and accusations. They absolutely hold no weight, and are just another accusation in the long list of others that aim to detract from the subject at hand. I’m not saying that every single response by us ‘Calvinist’ has been perfectly in line with graceful speech (particularly my very first comment). But overall, I believe we have shown great patience and care in our explanations in the face of the many accusations from those opposed. There is a common misconception in this day and age that humility entails tolerance and compromise. It seems as though our lack of tolerating error and lack of compromising has been translated into a lack of humility. If we have truly demonstrated a prideful spirit, please provide specific examples alongside a Biblical background so that we may examine our lives. I am thankful to God for the words of Tom Pain and Jake (and others), who have stood firm on truth and refused to compromise even when emotions run high. I find no pride or arrogance in their words, and I commend them for the grace they have shown.

There has been no accusation of sin on either side of this discussion until your comments, and I pray that you would sit down and seriously re-think your words.

SDG

Hello, College Student:

Praise God that you were adequately teachable to see the truth God wanted to show you!
I’d love to give you a meaningful response, but you’ve not pointed to any specifics in my post(s) that would allow someone to reach the conclusions you have made about me. Mind you, I’m not offended at all.
May I ask that you review your comment and see if it may more accurately be applied to Johnny Hunt and the comments HE made at the convention? Recall that it was HIS comments that started this.
As regards the initial intent of the author of this post, may I ask that you review the posts to see where and by whom the diversion occurred? My mind sees the ‘off track’ starting at #13? Others followed in response thereto. I don’t believe that I posted #13…
Also, as regards ‘thumping’ others, are there any comments that personally denigrate either the poster (Michelle, Tori, and WT) or Hunt? No. This discussion has remained limited to positions folk chose to take and call Biblical and the potentially harmful ramifications thereof.
Finally, do you think that your use of words like ‘ overwhelming stench of pride and arrogance I smell ‘, ‘pompous and elitist’, ‘look down your elongated nose at fellow brethren’, and ‘dismount yourself from your high stool intellectualism’ are, as you urged me, ‘lovingly, kindly, and prayerfully share with them what you believe’? Do you think that these words more than a bit ‘edgy’?
Again, I am excited for you in seeing the truth of the Word. Please let me urge you to consider what Hunt said and the context within which it was made and his perspective on Matthew 18 before taking the rod to others who have warned of the problems in his POSITION.

Dear Mr. Pain,
I apologize for going a bit overboard with my previous post. I have never met you, so then it is not right for me to come to such conclusions about you without having done so. I did not express my frustration in the best manner. My frustration was not directed soley towards you but many others, but due to your frequency of posting on the related thread “Johnny Hunt on Election” and your being the last poster, you were the recipient of my comments. Once again I apologize for heaping a general frustration on a sole person. However your post on the related thread (#34, July 18th) about “I was in Hunt’s church (now a veritable monument to his ego)” among other comments stuck very deeply with me. The comments I made about you deviating from the authors original intent and coming across prideful were in reference to the other thread (I would have commented there but it was closed).

The reason for my frustration stems not from this these two threads but the reality that I am confronted with all to often (basically every Sunday) and that is this quite divisive and sticky argument. Only a small group of people at my church hold my views, and the views I hold are not welcomed, accepted, nor appreciated by many. Because of the shear divisiveness of the topic, I usually just refrain from mentioning my beliefs on election. So believe me, I was not happy at hearing my pastor’s comments at the SBC. He all to often “beats the straw man” and misrepresents calvinism. I am not thrilled by his actions. But on the otherhand I have had many friends who were once very involved, active students in the high school ministry. But after they graduated, they stumbled upon the doctrines of grace, and in doing so, have developed a deep hatred of my church. They mock and criticize the same congregation that just a few years before they adored. They speak horribly caustic slander towards my pastor and the leadership, burning every bridge and cutting every cord in the process, and then proceed to move on to a reformed church. It brings so much sorrow to me to see that. One of my friends who did exactly that invited me to his reformed church not too long ago. I conceded to attending a week night bible study and was unfortunately greeted by a few other heady, intellectual, arrogant guys like my friend (not all were like that, but more than one), whose sole goal was to calvi-vangelize me (I was only a 4-pointer at the time) rather than be truly concerned for my overall walk with Christ. After my attendance, I never wanted to return to that congregation even though I agree completely with their doctrine. I do not like erred doctrine, but I cannot stand pride much more.

Sorry to be dumping on an exhaustive story on you, but the point is that it kills me everytime I encounter calvinists who are so harsh to my pastor and my church. I agree doctrinally with the reformed community, but my heart is still very attached to FBCW. It was the lives of Pastor Johnny along with so many people in that church that have encouraged me, blessed me, discipled me, and brought me so much of the way to where I am today. I am very grateful for what they have done. I try my best to stand the gap and keep both sides civil. I breaks my heart to see Christian brethren bicker and fight so much.

I hope this sheds a little more light on why I responded so. Once again I apologize for going over board and personalizing my accusations that should have been generalized. My only request is that you along with Mr. White think twice before speaking of Pastor Johnny and FBCW (as I will think twice before speaking of you). The place is not perfect, but I am indeed certain that God had to have used at least someone from that church to further your walk with Christ. Especially you Mr. White, because you were indeed saved under that ministry, were you not?

College Student,

To answer your question: although I walked the aisle several times during my 10 years at FBCW, had the impression that I had saving faith, and was currently (although rarely) attending FBCW at the time of my conversion, I actually came to salvation through the teachings of a different ministry. After my conversion I actually felt mislead by the soteriological teachings of FBCW, to the point that it hindered my understanding of true repentance and the inward corruption of sinful man. That is one reason why I strive to voice my opinion on this ministry when the proper opportunity arises. For I fear others might be in the same position as I was. And although it was kind of hard to do, I left FBCW shortly after my conversion/understanding of the doctrines of grace. Nevertheless, I still have many friends and family there who I love dearly.

I agree that many reformed people in the area sometime use harsh and unloving rhetoric when discussing this church, but for the most part that has not been manifested in this forum. As I stated before, much patience and grace has been shown in the face of the ad hominen arguments coming from those supporting Mr. Hunt. Furthermore, please keep in mind that even when Jesus taught on this subject He faced harsh controversy and division (please see John 6:66-71). -Anytime this subject is discussed there are likely going to be those who get hurt, upset, and angry.

As we have seen in this forum, there are some within FBCW that blindly accept the teachings of their pastor regardless of the scriptural support of his argument. I pray that we would continue to ‘examine everything carefully’ and use these discussions to try and stimulate people into searching the scriptures for themselves, thus edifying the body of Christ and bringing glory to Him alone.

Thank you CS for clarifying your statements. If you would like to further discuss my dealings and experiences with FBCW, or if you would like to fellowship with some Reformed (but gracious) believers in the area, please do not hesitate to email me. In fact, I even hold a college-age Bible study at my house each week for the young men in my church.

SDG

A couple of points concerning this post:

It is clear that the response is indeed an attack on Johnny Hunt. There were probably thousands of freeze frame pictures which could have been used or possibly a individual photo of Dr. Hunt but instead three of the worst photo images I have ever seen were posted. Clearly unattractive and Clearly done in bad taste. Why choose such photo if only to make Dr. Hunt look like a “slobbering uneducated” preacher?

The apology was clearly half-hearted and was meant for the author to look like less of an aggressor to received sympathy from readers.

As far as possible debate with Dr. Johnny Hunt, Dr. Jerry Falwell, and Dr. Adrian Rogers why would these men waste their time? Two of them have mega churches which requires a busy schedule and the other just retired and has cancer. Instead of always seeking a debate why don’t Calvinist prove their detractors wrong and actually use their time for soul winning purposes.

Finally, the argument that Calvinists are less evangelist cannot be categorized as a ad hominem attack as clearly the end result of Calvinism is double predestination which means that God will save those whom He wants to and the rest are elected to go to hell. There is clearly no incentive to win people to Jesus. Calvinist state that obedience is enough but rarely back up that belief with urgency. In short, they would rather debate about the doctrine of grace.

Friend!

I fully understand the whole frustration thing. That’s what was driving my comment that you referenced. If you can understand your own frustration, then you can understand mine as frustration and not condemnation. Further, I have probably spent more time with that pastor and individual staffers than you have, which gives a stronger basis for my conclusions. I’m not going to rehash your comment; please don’t re-dredge mine (I think you already got that;}).

You may want to factor in age and maturity (particularly spiritual) in order to understand why the folks you’ve encountered on BOTH sides of the issue have spoken their words and in the tenor at which you rankled. I have tried, sloppily I suppose, to point out the pitfalls of pastor centered church and man centered doctrine. I didn’t see anyone on this blog attacking the FBCW writers, though clearly there are times when one has to (figuratively) shake them by the shoulders to get them to focus on the doctrinal issue and not on someone taking exception with their pastor’s position. Perhaps when you approach grandfatherdom (the place I’ll be at), you’ll be less upset about confrontation and understand the benefits of civil confrontation and where the line is between ‘can’t we agree to disagree’ and an all out frontal attack.

Tying this in to election and Matthew 18, I would ask you to consider what happens when an attack on the Doctrine of Election, even its strawman, meets an errant understanding and application of the verse in question. The election issue cuts to the heart of one’s soteriology. Instead of focussing on God as the author and finisher of our faith, we get sidetracked into trying to get men to make the right choice.

An errant understanding and application of Matthew 18 diverts one’s thinking from sin confrontation for the purpose of individual righteousness and purity of the Church to being concerned with giving the speaker a graceful way out, never holding them accountable for errant exegesis or doctrinal teaching.

Combine these two deviations and you get a body that loves their man-satiating traditions, focuses on the individual and ‘whatever it takes’-sound familiar?-to get men to conform (except, of course, solely trusting God to change their hearts) and looks to a man to tell them what they need to know. Then, when their source of truth (a man) is held to account for his statements and found to be wanting in accuracy and Biblical basis, their foundation is shaken and, well, you see how they react.

I, too, have been rejected for holding a different soteriology and for leaving that body. Concern was expressed that I was getting involved with a cult! Frankly, the only spiritual growth or maturity I experienced after the Lord allowed me to understand right soteriology was in dealing with the discrepancies between what I heard and what Scripture said from that pulpit. Does this help you to understand why my original comments were more than a bit pointed? I trusted those whom I was told to trust and responded to any request they made of me only to find them in error. I realized that years of my life have been wasted, regardless have how good I may have ‘felt’ at any given time or how ‘exciting’ church life had been. Awareness of years of spiritual atrophy can be upsetting, would you agree?

My question to you, dear friend, is ‘why does one remain at a church and ‘under a ministry’ with which you are not in alignment? Maybe you should take up Mr. White’s invitation?

Be of good cheer. You have the Truth of the Word that you have grasped onto and no one can take it away. Look up, friend, and don’t be pulled down. Thanks for your input and candor!

Tom

Steven,
Definition of ad hominem (dictionary.com; Webster’s online): Appealing to personal considerations rather than to logic or reason; appealing to feelings or prejudices rather than intellect; marked by an attack on an opponent’s character rather than by an answer to the contentions made.

I find it ironic that your own arguments fall into the ad hominem category as well:

Steven said:“The apology was clearly half-hearted” – an attack on my character rather than an answer to my contentions.

Steven said:“why don’t Calvinist prove their detractors wrong and actually use their time for soul-winning purposes.” – a presupposition or ‘personal consideration’ that truth is determined by whether Calvinists win enough souls to meet your criteria. On the contrary, truth is determined by the scriptures, not by what we perceive as having a positive effect. The scriptures that have been examined in this post have already proven their detractors wrong; requesting a ‘sign’ is not necessary to affirm the “prophetic word made more sure which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place” (2 Peter 1:16-21).

Steven said:“Calvinism is double predestination which means that God will save those whom He wants to and the rest are elected to go to hell” – a personal feeling or prejudice which is actually a caricature of what Calvinist really believe and teach. Nobody is elected to hell; people go to hell because they are sinners.

Steven said:“There is clearly no incentive to win people to Jesus.” – Actually, there is more incentive, for we are assured of authentic results! An example from Romans 11:4: “I have reserved for Myself seven-thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal.” – The elect are out there; as opposed to the free will belief that Christ’s death could potentially save nobody. There is no focus on potentially manipulating people to ‘make a decision’, truth is unashamedly proclaimed and the Scripture and the Spirit is trusted.

Not only do the ad hominem arguments continue to be disheartening, but stating that my apology was half-hearted is upsetting as well. This statement is contrary to the feedback I received back from Mr. Hunt; for after I personally sent him my apology, I received a kind email back from him assuring me that no personal harm was done. And I am thankful to God for the kindness that Mr. Hunt displayed in my conversations with him. I pray that you would contact me personally if you believe I was insincere about anything I stated, and show me my specific error so that I may examine myself.

I think this discussion has reached its limits. It seems as though we will never get down to the issues at hand. There is no desire for a drawn out debate; there is no desire to be argumentative. The request for all arguments to be based on objective truth, and the affirmation that this is not an attack on the personal character of Mr. Hunt seems to have fallen on deaf ears. If there is no edification being wrought by this discussion, then I think I will now step out of the way.

SDG