A Letter to the TN Baptist & Reflector
I read with great disgust and dismay Lonnie Wilkey’s article in the current issue of the Tennessee Baptist & Reflector concerning Calvinism. The article in question can be found online here. What follows in this post is the letter to the editor I have written concerning the article.
To the Editor:
As a Tennessee Baptist from birth and salvation (First Baptist Church Dayton, TN), a graduate of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary living and serving the Lord in Kentucky, it was with great surprise and interest that I read Lonnie Wilkey’s article ” Calvinists have no sense of urgency — Jesus did.” I was disappointed greatly with this article. And as someone who is not a Calvinist, such a negative endorsement should speak volumes.
Mr. Wilkey shows a great deal of ignorance about just what Calvinism actually is. Calvinism – or Reformed theology, if you prefer – does not discourage evangelism. On the contrary, those of a Reformed persuasion are just as motivated if not more so than their non-Calvinist brethren about evangelism. Calvinists believe that God has commanded them to go out and preach the gospel to the whole world, that the elect of God (those who would place their faith in Christ) might come to Him. Since no one but God can know just who the elect are, Calvinists believe it is a humbling thing to be the instrument by which the Lord Jesus draws all people to Himself. Calvinists believe they are to call the elect – whoever they may be – to accept Christ, which in and of itself is an invitation! Yes, indeed, Calvinsts believe evangelism is serious business!
Mr. Willkey also shows he at the very least has not read carefully the book of Romans, which clearly states in chapter nine that salvation has nothing to do with human endeavor, but is entirely the province of a God who chooses whom will be vessels of mercy and vessels of wrath. Furthermore, those vessels of mercy and wrath are in 9:22-23 clearly ordained by God. It is not about “who has been given the opportunity to accept Christ,” since it is quite obvious that many thousands of people perish every day without ever hearing the Gospel. It is about God showing Himself in glory through both the witness of Christ and the punishment of sinners.
This article, some have said, could easily be debunked by a high school student with an internet connection. Not only could it be, it is easily debunked by any thinking Christian willing to devote a few minutes of serious inquiry into Calvinism and what Scripture actually does teach about these issues.
I am disappointed in and embarrassed with Mr. Wilkey’s obvious lack of research into this issue before he wrote this article. I would like to prayerfully and lovingly suggest that in the future Mr. Wilkey do his homework before writing a hatchet job against a theological position he does not understand. Such hatchet jobs do not build up the body, but tear down in division. I, and hopefully other Tennessee Baptists, expect better from the editor of our own state paper.
Grace to you and peace.
Rev. J. Stephen Newell, Jr.
Associate Pastor, Louisville Baptist Deaf Church
Salt and Light Ministries–Christian Counseling for the Deaf