Serving Up Servetus Rick Patrick Is In Good Company

(Follow up to comments posted here)

Why lie?

And don’t forget to listen to this: James White’s more full comment on the Barker, ahem, error.

Patrick wondered how anyone could with a clear conscience follow the teachings of Calvin after what he had done:

How does a Calvinist today so easily absolve his conscience while taking his theological cues on the nature of God’s love from a heart and mind so blind to the immorality of governmental or ecclesiastical homicide?

Patrick thinks himself such a genius, his mind capable of recognizing sin and able to condemn others, even those (Calvinists) not involved in any historical sense. Conversely, since he evidently does not view this as sin, can we not infer that perhaps there are a great many other things his brilliant mind fails to grasp as well… (these are Patrick’s own words turned on him).

Beside the caricature which is lie, Patrick perniciously  poisons the well and paints with a broad brush doubt of Christian conscience in both Calvin and all Calvinists all the while claiming to harbor no ill will towards and even friendship with Calvinists. We’ve seen him question their conscience and then this:

How Calvinists can take their cue regarding God’s love for sinners from a Sixteenth Century born non-Southern Baptist theologian who approved treating his theological opponents in such a manner is an absolute mystery to me. If a theologian can get murder wrong, it is certainly fair to question his understanding of other truths as well.

Calvin did not murder anyone. That is historically, factually a lie. Calvinists do not take their cue from Calvin, either. I am a Calvinist, I don’t. I study Calvin for insight not for infallibility. It is the old canard that Calvinists follow Calvin, a common vitriol used by frauds like Ergun Caner. I was a non-Calvinist Southern Baptist for fifteen years before I ever understood the significance of the name of Calvin. The doctrines of grace and much of the history of the reformation had been conveniently hidden from our church, which was constitutionally, and in adherence to the BFM, bound to teach the whole history of the Christian faith. Instead of practicing truth in love it chose obscurantism. It is lying caricature to say Calvinists take their cues from Calvin and does thereby impugn the character of Calvinists, and the scope of their  inquiry, as narrow and sycophantic. As I’ve personally experienced, it is anti-Calvinists who follow lock-step and like to hide the truth for fear of being exposed.

One might wonder how anyone could take their cue from those who were part of the SBC’s bigoted racist years. Think of those who sat in seats of “glory” in the SBC during those years, who, though filled with the Holy Spirit (ostensibly), continued to hate their neighbors because of the color of their skin and yet taught “biblical truth” from the pulpits. Just how many million consciences were raped by the not so subtle racist indoctrination of the SBC? Blacks weren’t even theological opponents. They were innocent people, not blasphemers and heretics. Their only crime was being considered not quite people. It is certainly fair to question, then, anyone who would take a Traditionalist’s position heralding their long and proud control of SBC politics including not just the segregationist years, but the anti-inerrancy years, is it not?

Every historic era of the SBC champions some good and some bad theology and people. Some really bad, some really good. Should fault condemn everything good? The sad thing in Patrick’s anachronistic elitism, as with all self-exalting pride, is there is no mirror, just an ivory throne from which to condemn those with whom he disagrees. Dare we say hypocrite. Does he dare call Calvin such, does he dare call Calvinists such? Then should we not be as daring as he?

He has a political agenda as can be seen in his non-Southern Baptist rift. It is as if Patrick thinks his own Traditionalist religion sprung crisp and clean from its own immaculate conception. They call themselves Traditionalists to distinguish their clan from mongrels. Their political tact is unmistakable. Poison labels, caricatures, defamation and misinformation, suppressing knowledge, anti-intellectualism, knee-jerk reaction, all very familiar territory in cultic (F)undamentalism. It is one of the bad things in the history of the SBC, not one of the good.

Why, then, would anyone listen to Patrick, a Christian, when he does what Barker the apostate/atheist did? Barker’s claim is no different than Patrick’s- it is wholesale condemnation by association. But, if hypocrisy is the reason for discounting the whole, then there is no reason to trust anything Christianity has to offer… if Patrick represents it.

Nefarious intent or ignorant ranting of a fool- Calvin can be accused of neither, Patrick, both. Calvin’s actions can be reckoned, and at the same time his wrongs recognized and not justified as acts of righteousness as White, a Baptist and former SBC’er,  expresses. How do we reckon what Patrick has done? Should we not also recognize back-door insult and character assassination as unrighteousness? Or, should we just give him a pass as he falsely claims Calvinists do with Calvin? Hundreds of years from now will some things Patrick has said that are good be rejected because so much was wrong with him? Should it be said of him that nothing he said about God’s love was to be trusted because of his halting ability to show it? Hardly.

Jesus’ love was often of this kind of kindness and gentleness: on the road to Emmaus he stealthily confronted two of his disciples and called them spiritual dullards and slow minded fools despite the fact that they were in an emotional crisis trying to reconcile the week’s events and three years of “wasted” devotion to someone they never really knew. Jesus’ self-revelation  to them through the Scripture which they had read and never understood, was a slap to the face, or as they described it, the fiery purification of their hearts. I hope Patrick wakes up to the fact that Christianity isn’t a quaint religion for the weak and thin-skinned, nor a child’s folly. If he doesn’t like the forest ablaze he should quit playing with matches.

A concise paper.

6 thoughts on “Serving Up Servetus Rick Patrick Is In Good Company

  1. Two things are troubling with Patrick: 1) Refusing to judge Calvin against the political standards of his day. Patrick’s so historically disheveled in his thinking about history it’s almost humorous. 2) Patrick is a pastor who can’t stop commenting and blogging about Calvinism. It’s his obsession. He’s made 30-40 comments per day on some of the SBC Today and SBC Voices blogs.

    Good writing, Thomas Twitchell. You’re always a fun read.

  2. Matt,

    1. We should not judge Calvin against the political standards of his day, but against right and wrong as revealed in Scripture. We don’t hold slave owners to the standards of their day, but issue apologies hundreds of years later for their sins. We don’t hold abortionists to the accepting standards of our day, but declare it to be wrong in every generation. This is not disheveled historical thinking. It is timeless ethical thinking based on the word of God. Calvin is not graded on a curve for living in the 1500′s.

    2. I do not write nearly so often about Calvinism as some suppose that I do. Most of my articles are not about Calvinism per se, but about “the denominational core values” of the SBC and the way that New Calvinist values present challenges. Most of the times I write up to 30 comments or more, I am responding to readers of my own essay, who make comments or ask questions. I think of it as something of a conversation–not so much an obsession but a discussion.

  3. If you believe in capital punishment then you really shouldn’t criticize Calvin. If you’re for the Bush wars, that makes your position even worse. Anyway, about your commenting, I’m not talking about when you write the blogs but when you comment on one’s you haven’t written. I can’t believe you get into the same arguments again and again with those seminary students. I keep thinking to myself, “Isn’t this guy my age and is in full-time ministry? Who has the time and energy to keep this up?” An obsessed man, that’s who. I simply don’t believe most “Traditionalist” SBC pastors would display themselves publicly like you do. You really need help, and I’m fully supportive of this website’s evaluation of your ridiculousness. Guys like you are the reason people my age are leaving the SBC and heading into Bible Churches.

  4. Matt,

    Your opinion of my opinion of capital punishment is the same as that of Chris Roberts. I will no longer bother trying to explain to the two of you that I have one category on the right that says we can kill mass murderers, Bin Laden, and anyone threatening your wife or child. I have an entirely different category on the left that says we cannot kill someone simply because they don’t really get the Trinity.

    I’m done with that discussion, as surely as capital punishment and religious persecution are two different things.

    I probably average about five to ten comments on essays I don’t write personally. Sometimes Jared and I may go a few rounds. A few years ago Dave asked me to write for SBC Voices and gave me editor privileges. I read SBC Voices daily or every other day. I’ve actually become a little less active there, submitting more articles to Norm Miller at SBC Today. Consider it a hobby. I rise early. I write. I play a little tennis. I fulfill my ministry responsibilities. My writing does not interfere with anything except a little television in the evenings, and there’s nothing on.

    Am I too old to blog? I’m younger than Dave Miller, William Thornton, Peter Lumpkins and a bunch of others. You frame the issue as if an intervention is needed. It is this very same condescending attitude toward those who disagree with you that motivates me to explore this cultural phenomenon of New Calvinism and its impact on the SBC.

    You claim that guys like me are driving guys like you to the Bible Churches. While that is not my intention, neither will I cower to that threat of departure. If you want to go, then by all means go. For some guys, it’s a very short drive. They do not really support the Southern Baptist Cooperative Program, denominational entities, etc.

    For SOME churches, they could leave the SBC and no one would really notice in the church or in the denomination. Hear me, I’m not pushing you out, but neither am I that housewife in the old black and white movies holding on to her husband’s leg and begging him not to leave. By the way, you really should not blame me or those like me if you leave. You have free will. Do what God tells you. Don’t let me drive your decision. Pray. Seek God. And do what He tells you. I’ll support whatever you feel God leading you to do.

  5. Oh, don’t worry, no one’s leaving the SBC over you! Don’t think that much of yourself, please! You’re a nobody in the south! As a lay person, I wouldn’t call myself a New Calvinist. I read the old guys. Thankfully, I’m in a solid SBC church in the midwest, though if you were the only SBC church in town, I wouldn’t attend it.

  6. Matt,

    You said guys like me are driving guys like you to the Bible churches. I was merely accepting your premise, not thinking too highly of myself. I agree we would not be a good ministry fit theologically. May God bless you as you serve Him.

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