I normally don’t focus much on what is happening in US Fundamentalism here. But you’d have to be asleep or seriously disconnected with the blogosphere to have missed the current ruckus over Danny Sweatt’s message at the recent meeting of the Fundamental Baptist Fellowship International.

Let me start by saying that I have deep love and respect for many of the FBFI board members and count some of them personal friends at some level. That said, I wonder if Bro. Sweatt’s message may bring some crucial issues to a crisis point.

I think that would be good.

Still, I’m aware that we younger men tend to lack the wisdom, tact, and balance to address these types of issues as credibly as older men. So I’m going to point you to an older man—a seminary president—who is wise, tactful, balanced, and—in this instance—forceful.

Some excerpts from Kevin Bauder:

The problem is not that Pastor Sweatt rejects Calvinism. Plenty of good men do. The problem is not that Pastor Sweatt wishes to argue about Calvinism. Such arguments can and should be a form of fellowship through which we strengthen one another. No, the problem is that Pastor Sweatt has used his privileges as an invited speaker to misrepresent and falsely accuse his brethren. He wants to treat an acceptable difference as if it were a heresy.

And addressing the older Fundamentalists:

Pastor Sweatt has placed us in a very difficult situation. In a public venue, as a spokesman for fundamentalism, Pastor Sweatt has impugned the doctrinal integrity of his brethren. He has made charges without evidence and uttered recriminations that are simply false. Those of us who are leaders within fundamentalism have a stewardship, and we cannot afford simply to sweep this scandal under the rug.

The need to confront the problem is all the more acute if any of us regard Pastor Sweatt as a friend. Younger fundamentalists want to know whether we fear God or men. We cannot say that we believe in rebuking and separating from erring brethren, which we clearly practice to our Left, and then ignore public error when it occurs among our friends. If we are that inconsistent, then young leaders are right to dismiss us as hypocrites.

Within the Fundamental Baptist Fellowship International I have no power at all. The only thing that I can do is to appeal to the members of the board, whom I believe to be men of integrity and good will. Pastor Sweatt has handed you an opportunity to show what you really believe. If you wish to model the kind of fundamentalism that really is worth saving, then the time has come.

Source: In the Nick of Time

It would also be worth following Bob Bixby, Ben, Chris Anderson, etc.

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About Jason Harris

Dr Jason Harris is a writer, pastor, and academic. He has authored multiple books, articles, and papers including his book Theological Meditations on the Gospel. Jason has a PhD from James Cook University as well as degrees in theology, music, accounting, and research. Jason has lived in Cairns, Australia since 2007 and serves as pastor at CrossPoint Church. You can contact Jason at jason@jasonharris.com.au.


  1. Kez 16 May, 2009 at 2:11 pm - Reply

    So I guess the question is: Is Calvinism an ‘acceptable difference’ or is it indeed ‘heresy’? =)

  2. Jason Harris 16 May, 2009 at 2:19 pm - Reply

    If we make it an inherent matter of separation, we’d have to reject William Carey, Charles Spurgeon, David Brainard, Jonathan Edwards, Benjamin Keach, Jim Elliot, A. T. Peirson, Ian Paisley, etc. All of these men were Calvinists.

    But the issue here is not Calvinism. It’s integrity. What Bauder is saying diplomatically is that Sweatt’s tactics—his approach, NOT his position—are horribly ignorant at best and openly dishonest at worst.

    This controversy is really about two things.

    1. Do Fundamentalists have to fight fair?
    2. Will the gang hold the victim down (or at least stand by idly) as he gets pummeled?

  3. Kez 16 May, 2009 at 2:25 pm - Reply

    Everyone who takes an opposite approach to a subject is usually considered ‘horribly ignorant at best and openly dishonest at worst’.
    If we believe something is heresy and never approach it publicly – remaining diplomatically correct – are we not guilty by silence? Surely you’d agree that sometimes the right thing to say is not always the most ‘diplomatic’?

  4. Jason Harris 16 May, 2009 at 4:02 pm - Reply

    The point in this issue is not that Sweatt is arguing against Calvinism.

    That would be ok.

    The issue is that he is using misrepresentation and inaccuracies to do so. There is no reasonable doubt that the London Tabernacle is an example of a ministry pastored by at least four major Calvinist personalities over 300 years. In other words, his argument, whether intentionally or not, is false. It’s a lie. That is the issue here.

  5. Alen 16 May, 2009 at 8:54 pm - Reply

    Interesting article..

  6. Katie Apps 17 May, 2009 at 5:09 pm - Reply

    The FBF have made previous resolutions re calvinism. They have gone on record about giving room to move on differences in this area within the fellowship.

    They need to let someone else give a rebuttal at their next meeting to be consistent with their previous resolutions.

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