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Archive for the ‘New Calvinism’ Category

In a recent post I noted the influence of Oneness Pentecostalism at Louisiana College in the recent past (if not the present.)

Until earlier this year I haven’t kept regular tabs on LC other than hearing things here and there.  For several years I had been troubled by what I noted in the second half of my last post but until now I had nothing else specific to go on.  However former LC faculty member of the year, Dr. Scott Culpepper, has now weighed in on the issue of the former Louisiana College instructor who was active in a Oneness Pentecostal ministry while employed by LC.  More importantly, he has also chronicled, in some detail, the “charismatic takeover” of the administration of Louisiana College.  These are facts that I trust most Louisiana Baptists as well as many of the members of the Board of Trustees will perhaps be unfamiliar with and will be uncomfortable with.  I have posted excerpts from Dr. Culpepper’s post below:

I am somewhat perplexed about why people seem so up in arms about an alleged Reformed takeover of Louisiana College that is not happening while they fail to recognize that a Charismatic takeover of the administration of Louisiana College happened long ago. During my time as a faculty member at Louisiana College, I witnessed official administrative endorsement of practices that were clearly charismatic in nature and which most Louisiana Baptists would find objectionable. In fact, I was often uncomfortable as someone from a Baptist background teaching at a Baptist school because much of the spirituality at the top was decidedly not Baptist.

Joe Aguillard often invited a charismatic faith healer named Delores Winder to campus to “prophesy” over the football team and share her spiritual insight with members of the administration. One Vice-President, who had a Native American heritage, told me that Winder commanded her to get rid of some turquoise earrings that were family heirlooms because their Native American origins made her vulnerable to demonic oppression. When Winder arrived on campus, devotees would flock to her side as if Moses had just descended from Sinai. Aguillard kept these meetings quiet because he was very aware that Louisiana Baptists would not approve. Impressionable young football players who had little knowledge of Christianity often got their earliest exposure in the context of these meetings. It should be noted that Louisiana College, like all Southern Baptist schools, firmly insists that faculty sign a statement indicating that they will not promote women taking leadership roles in ministry or “exercising authority over a man.” Mrs. Winder’s pronouncements were almost given the weight of scriptural revelation and there were certainly many men among her devotees.

Delores Winder was not the only “prophet” to dubiously grace the Louisiana College campus. Joe Aguillard employed a personal assistant named Joseph Cole who later departed under a cloud and with an outrageous final payoff. During a chapel service, worship leader Fred Guilbert paused to say openly before the entire student body, “Joseph (Cole) has received a prophecy that God is going to shower abundance down upon our college!” There were often whispers that administrators believed that Cole was endowed with prophetic gifts. He was definitely endowed with an amazing level of power considering that he had no previous experience and no undergraduate degree. Football coach Dennis Dunn joined the pantheon of prophets when he predicted with great confidence at the opening of the new football field in 2008 that the football team would win the conference championship that year as a means of evangelism. This pivotal evangelistic event has yet to happen. Dunn came to Louisiana College from Evangel Christian Academy in Shreveport, a school with ties to the Duron families’ Shreveport Community Church, which was formerly known as First Assembly of God. Dunn recently replaced Dr. Chuck Quarles, Dean of the Caskey Divinity School, as a chapel speaker this spring. It seems Dunn looked like a safer bet for the administration than Dr. Quarles.

Joe seems newly troubled about the Reformed people serving in the Christian Studies department, but he was blissfully content with a former professor serving as an associate pastor at a local church that embraces a Oneness theology. Oneness Theology is particularly prevalent among some Pentecostal groups. It is an anti-trinitarian theology that rejects the equality of the Son and Spirit with God the Father, resembling the heresies of Docetism and Modalism that troubled the Christian church in the second and third centuries. So accordingly, Kevin McFadden and Ryan Lister are a deadly threat, but anti-trinitarians are our new friends.

I have no issue with persons who observe their charismatic beliefs scripturally and responsibly.  Nor do I have a problem with students and faculty embracing those beliefs at a school like Louisiana College as long as those practices do not conflict with the theological commitments faculty made when they came to Louisiana College.  However, we should all have a problem with an administration at a Baptist school actively promoting practices that are at best on the fringes of Baptist life and even marginalizing those who do not agree with them.  We should all have a problem when that same administration begins to persecute Reformed Christians, who like it or not have been historically in the mainstream of Baptist life, while actively supporting practices that have dubious scriptural support and which have never been part of the mainstream of Baptist life.

Read the rest here.

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As noted here in a couple of previous posts, I am an alumnus of Louisiana College and a native of Alexandria. That being said, with the plethora of other issues on my plate, I had no plans to make any further comment on the situation at LC. However, it has come to my attention that an article has been published in the Baptist Message that reportedly focuses exclusively on Calvinism as being the source of the problems at LC. (One must pay to read the article in full, and I’m not a paying subscriber.)

No doubt Calvinism is a significant issue in the Louisiana Baptist Convention and it was the proximate cause for the latest controversy that has  resulted in LC once again appearing in the headlines of the local media and beyond. That being said, I wonder if those of you who are concerned about a perceived undue Calvinistic influence at LC could answer some questions for me.

As Dr. Aguillard noted in his statement regarding Calvinism and LC, he was chosen in part because he is not a Calvinist. As many of you know, another leading candidate for President at that time is a Calvinist and many on the Board of Trustees at that time did not want to see a strong Calvinistic influence at LC. Why then has Dr. Aguillard (until now) aided and abetted the Calvinistic influence at LC since 2005?  Since the liberals (or “moderates”) left the religion/theology department, (and I had long thought that that needed to happen) I’m not sure if there has ever been a time in which the majority of the full time Biblical Studies faculty have not been Calvinistic. If that is a bit of an overstatement, it certainly seems to me that there has always been a high percentage of Calvinists on the faculty since Dr. Aguillard assumed office and new faculty began to be appointed to fill vacancies in that department. Given their educational background and other factors, everybody knew or should have known that these men were Calvinists. Why is this only now becoming an issue? Are there no non-Calvinist faculty who could have been brought in instead? If a football coach is directed not to bring in certain kinds of players and he repeatedly does it anyway, what should be the result? If LC has indeed become “Geneva on the Red” as some Louisiana Baptists have alleged, who ultimately is to blame for this development?

Moreover, why was a Oneness Pentecostal on the LC faculty for several years? He was not on the religion faculty but he hosted a campus radio program that addressed spiritual topics and thus had a spiritual influence on the students. Getting rid of liberals and replacing them with those who are associated with heretical ministries isn’t quite the kind of change I can believe in. That’s the case for me even if it has only happened once. In addition, the Oneness group Phillips Craig and Dean performed at LC in 2005 (also on Dr. Aguillard’s watch) and ordained Oneness minister Randy Phillips reportedly spoke in chapel.  This cooperation with Oneness Pentecostals calls into question the level of commitment to the stated goal of returning LC to its Biblical and Baptist roots. Would M.E. Dodd or Edwin O. Ware have approved of such? Are we to infer from this that having a faculty member who is affiliated with a non-Trinitarian ministry and who had a spiritual influence on the campus is not seen as a serious issue by Louisiana Baptists?  I can assure you that some impressionable students as well as others will draw that conclusion, sadly.  This too was no secret as the man in question had a regular column in the Town Talk that noted his affiliation with a Pineville congregation that is affiliated with the United Pentecostals. I wonder what other involvement (especially with regard to spiritual influence) these non-evangelicals and non-Trinitarians have had at Louisiana College since 2005. The fact that they are not in the SBC aside, do any of you  believe that Oneness Pentecostal theology and practice is less problematic than that of Calvinistic Baptists?

While a significant Calvinist presence is naturally an issue at Louisiana College in a state where the convention is overwhelmingly non-Calvinist, it seems to me that there are more pressing issues with regard to the core curriculum, infrastructure, accreditation, etc. While the Christian Studies division is of obvious concern to pastors and those with an interest in what kind of religious teaching is going on there, the majority of students are not in that program. For years LC has had a quality nursing program and has also done very well in having students accepted to professional schools such as medical school and law school.  A good many students are likely to leave if the cloud of fear and uncertainty over LC doesn’t clear soon.

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I’ve recently become aware of Pastor Mike Fabarez and his upcoming Aggressive Sanctification conference.  If you click the link, there are several meaty posts that articulate some of the concerns many of us who lean toward the “Old Calvinist” or Puritan view of sanctification have with the New Calvinist/Gospel-Centered/Sonship approach.

Donn Arms (Dr. Jay Adams’ colleague at the Institute of Nouthetic Studies) recently posted Gospel Indicatives/Gospel Imperatives, which sets forth the question in a helpful way. The INS blog is a good one to keep your eye on.

As Donn notes, this is a controversy in the Biblical Counseling arena. But it’s a controversy that is impacting evangelicalism as a whole via the “New Calvinism” (which is by no means without its good points compared to the standard evangelical fare of the recent past.)   Whether one takes more of a Grammatical Historical or Redemptive Historical approach to hermeneutics is a factor here as well.

Based on the reading I’ve done, it seems to me that the Puritans and their successors like J.C. Ryle, C.H. Spurgeon and Horatius Bonar (just to name a few) have achieved perhaps the best balance between the extremes of legalism and antinomianism.  But the “New Calvinism” appears to be jettisoning that wholesale for a largely quietist model of sanctification that is foreign to historic Reformed and Calvinistic theology, whether Reformed/Presbyterian or Baptist.   Unfortunately, it’s increasingly what passes for “Reformed” today, especially among those who know little of Reformed theology beyond the Five Points.

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