Six Principles for Partnerships Between Large and Small Churches

This post first appeared at the RPM Ministries blog as part of their series on large churches.

________

Having been a part of both large and small churches, I have seen the tremendous potential of large and small churches working together. There can be great benefit when churches join forces and the combined effort can result in a greater impact for the cause of Christ. Not all joint efforts, however, are healthy partnerships. For a partnership between large and small churches to be successful, there must be active participation, contribution and benefit for all churches involved. Too often, attempts to partner with one another fail—not for lack of good intentions, but because they were never a true partnership to begin with. Here are a few factors to consider when large and small churches work together.

1. True partnership includes all partners from the early stages. For a true partnership between large and small churches to take place, partners should be invited to the table at the earliest stages of goal setting, concept development, and planning. Too often, churches approach partnerships with most or all of the details already worked out and expect the “partner” church to just sign on to their idea. Smaller churches develop a plan and approach larger churches to provide funds, personnel, or other resources. Larger churches develop what they think will be best for all involved and invite small churches to participate in their already developed grand plan. The arrangement, if it moves forward, ends up being nothing more than participation. Healthy partnerships seek to involve others from as early as possible in the process. All partners have a stake in the project. All partners have ownership and “buy in” to the results of the project. Further, real bonding can take place between the leaders and participants of the two churches because the project is jointly owned.

2. True partnership affirms the value of contributions from all partners. This principle goes with the first one. One of the motivations for including partners in the planning stages is recognizing the valuable contributions to be made. It is all too easy for small churches to see large church partners as merely a source of revenue or resources. In the process, they fail to value the knowledge, expertise, experience, or leadership resources available to them from the larger church. Likewise, many gifted and knowledgeable people have been called by God to serve in small churches. Large churches can make the mistake of acting as paternalistic benefactors and miss the valuable contributions that small churches and their members can provide. Instead, large and small church partners should affirm one another as they work together in kingdom ministry. Such affirmations must be genuine and not insincere or patronizing. Recognizing the value of each partner is not about making superficial adulations, but of truly assessing and acknowledging one another’s unique gifts and strengths and expecting each partner to bring those gifts to the table (see Rom 12:3-8 and 1 Cor 12-13).

This principle applies to financial contributions as well. The Bible affirms the value of large and small gifts and proportional contribution (see, e.g., 2 Cor 8-9; Luke 21:1-4). Smaller churches should not be made to feel less valuable or that they have less ownership in the project because they are able to give less overall. At the same time, small churches should be expected to participate financially, even when resources are meager.  The best partnerships occur when all partners have “skin in the game” and are giving sacrificially to kingdom work.

3. True partnership is authentic and transparent. Whenever churches join forces, there are always desired outcomes that partners hope will result from working together. There are many sound motivations for partnership between large and small churches and the benefits for both parties can be considerable. One should expect that each church will seek to benefit from the relationship. Problems arise, however, when the desire to be true partners is disingenuous or when a church and its leadership hides its true intentions. Faulty motives and hidden agendas undermine the project and destroy fellowship. Small and large churches alike should be honest with each other when entering partnerships and maintain open and honest communication throughout the relationship.

Partnerships can also bring conflict. Sometimes the goals of each church will be in opposition to one another. Other times, misunderstandings occur. Too easily our sin natures can rise to the surface. Most conflicts can be resolved, but only when church leaders are open and honest with one another. Hidden resentments are toxic to relationship and ongoing partnership between churches.

4. True partnership recognizes the concerns of all parties and works to address those concerns. When large and small churches work together, it is important for each partner to see things from the other’s point of view. While the missional goals for the project may be the same, large and small churches will have individual concerns about the partnership that should not be overlooked. Large churches, for example, may be concerned about their “brand” in the community and how the partnership will further or hinder their influence. Likewise, small churches may be concerned that the project will promote only the larger church and not be seen as a true partnership. Both in the planning process and after the partnership is underway, leaders must continue to listen to one another and address the concerns of each party. Leaders of each partnering church should be willing to voice their own concerns as they arise and be conscious of the concerns of the other partners. Ignoring others’ concerns or minimizing them as illegitimate, unimportant, or unspiritual only hurts the relationship. Indeed, not all concerns are equally valid, but they must be addressed if true partnership is to occur. The best partnerships seek the benefit of all as they ultimately do “kingdom” work.

5. True partnership is win/win/WIN. Often you will hear from one or both partners the desire to be “kingdom minded.” This is a good thing. Just be sure if you’re going to use that phrase that you are not using it as a leveraging tool to get your own way. Small churches must not demand assistance from larger churches nor should larger churches insist that small churches kowtow to their grand visions, all in the name of “kingdom” work. To be kingdom-minded, rather, means that we recognize that we are all playing for the same team. God’s kingdom is made up of both large and small communities of faith as they walk in obedience to the Great Commission.

If it is indeed true that we are cooperating, not competing, then such partnerships should result in a win/win/WIN scenario: Where there is mutual benefit for both small and large church partners and the result is kingdom advance. You cannot be kingdom minded and exploitive at the same time. To be kingdom minded, we must care for spiritual growth and needs of the members of the body that are present in both the large and small churches involved.  All partners should “win.” At the same time, we must aim for gospel growth and impact on the community. The final “WIN” for our partnerships is that through our joint efforts we advance the gospel, make disciples in obedience to the Great Commission, and bring glory to God.

6. Effective kingdom partnerships seek to glorify God alone. True Kingdom partnership requires that we put away our pride, our selfish ambition, and our desire for name recognition so that God’s kingdom is advanced and the glory goes to Him alone. True partnerships cannot occur when we are preoccupied with our status, our church brand, or our denominational clout. We must leave our “egos” and “logos” at the door. Even as we work hard to create a true partnership for the benefit of all, there comes a time where we put all our personal agendas aside and pursue the purposes of God. Notwithstanding everything I’ve stated in the previous points, true kingdom partnership requires personal sacrifice.

The call is not for one partner to be a doormat for the other, but for all partners to prayerfully give up their personal agendas and desire to make a name for themselves for the glorious cause of taking the gospel to the nations. No selfish ambition, just a passion to see the lost found and God’s kingdom come. True kingdom partnerships between large and small churches will be about glorifying God and making His Son known. That means I must forsake glory for myself and my church. Sometimes, the only benefit I and my church will receive is seeing lives changed by the gospel of Jesus Christ. In the end, we must remember that our churches partner together not to advance our own names, but His name.

Conclusion

I pray that more large and small churches will pursue working together. When approached the right way, large and small church partners can each benefit and see spiritual and numerical growth. Such partnerships also testify to the unifying power of the gospel. Partnerships are visible reminders to the world that Christianity is not about factions and tribes, but about the person and work of Jesus Christ. Partnerships are visible reminders to believers that we are one people of God, serving together as brothers and sisters for the cause of Christ. Effective partnerships between large and small churches advance the kingdom of God and bring glory to His name. Let us pursue such partnerships as we make Christ known in our communities and around the world.

 

 

Why I Reject Evolution (And Am Intellectually Satisfied Doing So) (by Alan Cross)

Alan blogs at Downshore Drift, where this post originally appeared. 
Apparently, I am part of the 33% of Americans who do not believe in Evolution, according to a recent Pew Research Religion & Public Life Project study (Al Mohler’s article yesterday got me thinking about this today). And, I am completely fine with that. I am not trying to be different or unique or have my head in the sand when it comes to Science and its claims. I have actually studied and read quite a bit on this subject over the past 20 years, and although I am not a scientist by any means, I consider myself at least reasonably well informed and interested in the subject. My area is history and the social sciences, however, so I read things differently than others, perhaps. I am particularly interested in how human thought and philosophy has developed over time. So, when I study Science, I do not just study the latest theories and assertions, but I place them into historical context and trace the development of scientific thought over time. We have thought a lot of different things throughout human history and I do not think that we are through in developing theories as to how the world works or how we got here or where we are headed. Also, I am a Christian who takes the Bible seriously, so there’s that.
But, without further delay, here are the reasons that I reject Evolution in the macro-sense (micro-evolution, hybridization, and mutations and changes within species is not what I am disagreeing with here). I am not making scientific assertions or defenses here. I am simply sharing what I think and why I have come to the conclusions that I have. Take it for what you will.
  1. To start, I have no issue with basing my beliefs in what I see Scripture saying on the subject. I see nothing in the Bible that says that we or other species evolved over time. There are many theistic evolutionists* who believe that God guided the process. That is fine, although I would disagree. I do not think that that is what the text asserts. Now, I recognize that the Bible is not a science book and it should not be read as such. Could God have created using guided evolution? Sure. But, I don’t think the Bible tells us that. Still, if someone believes that, we can have good discussion, but I am not going to make that a sticking point necessarily. The main issue is whether or not one believes that God created or if it was blind chance that got us here. The world is so incredibly beautiful and complex and incredible in all of its vastness and smallness and wonder, that it makes perfect sense to me that what Scripture seems to clearly assert – that God spoke and the material universe came into being – is what actually happened.
  2. I do not trust Science to know exactly what it is talking about on this issue. I am not saying that because I claim to know more, but because I really believe that human understanding is limited. I think that all that we can do is observe and make assertions based on what we think our observations are telling us. In other words, we are in 2014 and we are looking back over potentially millions of years. We are trying to figure out the meaning of what we see – or what we think we see. How do we know for sure? Many people do not believe in God because they cannot be sure and do not see direct evidence of His existence but want others to accept evolution without direct/conclusive evidence. In other words, they change the rules of the game to suit their side. To be fair, it is better to see Evolution as a rival theory to Theistic Creation rather than seeing it as fact and then seeing religion as mere faith. I get that Evolution makes sense if God is removed from the equation or if certain presuppositions are accepted or if it is your belief that that is how God created. But, I honestly think that it makes most sense when you have people looking backwards in time trying to figure out what they see but reject the idea that God could have done it or that God did not do it instantly. It is still a theological statement, even if it is from the negative, declaring either that God did not create the world or that God created in that way. Perhaps they are staring right into God’s creative work and do not know it? Maybe they are piecing together clues of something that they do not understand? That has happened before, hasn’t it? Humans often get things wrong. My point is that when I study this, I have more questions than answers and have seen nothing that appears conclusive to me.
  3. The role of Science, I believe, is very important. It is an explanation and investigation into how the world works. From a Christian perspective, engaging in Science can be seen as worship as we seek to understand the world that God created. Science is completely compatible with Christiainity if one accepts that God is rational and reasonable and that He created a world that can be investigated and understood. So, I love Science and every Christian should. But, when we go beyond what we can observe and then make claims that are based on biases and further claims that lead us to certain conclusions, we are not still doing Science. We have crossed a line and no, Christianity is not compatible with alternative assertions.
  4. Timeline: As I said, the main issue for me is that God created. That Bible clearly states this. I also want to assert what the text clearly asserts. I am not locked in to the earth only being 6,000 years old. It could be much older. Lots of things in our timeline get messed up pretty severely if we try to place a world-wide flood and reboot of the entire human race in one place just at 3,000 BC, as is required if we use the timeline of the earth being created in 4,000 BC. That means that all of ancient history is completely wrong. Or, we do not at all know how to look at the past. There is no doubt, though, that ancient societies all over the world have flood cataclysm stories in their past and mythologies. Something happened. I think that it is more likely that the earth is quite old and that God created long ago. Or, perhaps there are things that we do not see? I am okay with the mystery.
  5. I understand that some struggle with this and I do not want to diminish the struggle. I am not here making a conclusive argument against evolution. I am saying why I reject it and why I have no intellectual problem doing so. I believe that all things are possible with God. I believe that God created. I believe that God could have made things complete or with what we understand as “age” and I believe that God is capable of making a human out of the dust into what we presently see. That is not a leap of faith for me. It makes perfect sense. And, I find it to be an intellectual argument as well as a faith argument because I do not accept that intellectual arguments can only be based on a secular playing field. Who sets the rules here? Why is the idea of God illogical? Why is God creating spectacularly and instantaneously something that is outside of the realm of possibility? I do not see where it is.
  6. I do not think that Evolution adequately explains the world or the human experience. Why do we care about beauty and art and falling in love and how the world works? Why do we tell stories and write plays and laugh and travel and aspire to great things? Why do we find such intense satisfaction in certain things and have disdain for others? None of what I have mentioned here is necessarily connected to any kind of evolutionary process, nor does it have an evolutionary explanation that I have found satisfactory. Sure, evolutionary biologists and psychotherapists will tell us that there is a reason for what we choose rooted in evolution and what we need to survive and evolve. They will even tell us that our belief in God was needed – for a time – to help the human race cope and put aside fear and evolve. But, now, God is no longer needed because we have reached the point of reason as our guide and can go on without ancient fantasies. But, if you group up everything that you don’t have a real explanation for and say that Evolutionary process/biology is the reason for it – even when we cannot understand it or it makes no sense to us – then isn’t that the same thing as saying that “God” is the reason for everything, even if you can’t see Him? There is a lot of speculation that passes itself off as fact and it has never been convincing to me. Of course, I have my own biases. But, then again, so do the proponents of evolution. Which leads to my last reason.
  7. Perhaps this comes from my postmodern conditioning, but I do not trust that proponents of particular views are objective. Everyone has an agenda or works from presuppositions. What are they? Science claims objectivity, but it isn’t – it is limited by perspective and asserts certain things. Sure, math is pretty objective, but once you take the facts that you can observe and then start making leaps on what those facts mean, you have slipped from hard science into philosophy. The arguments against religion made by Enlightenment and Modernist thinkers can easlily be turned back on their own truth claims until all sides go nuclear and we are left not knowing much of anything other than what can be definitively proven. I don’t think that reality only consists of what can be definitively proven, but at the same time, I am not going to accept the Evolutionists “facts” when I see those “facts” as dressed up assertions and philosophical speculations that combine certain actual facts with the logical results of presuppositions.
The Secular Evolutionist claims to be intellectually satisfied. That is fine. I accept his claim. As a Biblical Creationist, I can make the same claim. We begin from different presuppositions. The Secularist has set the playing field and claimed that his view is rooted in “facts” and my view is rooted in “faith” or superstition or fantasy. I reject that self-serving assertion. I don’t have the “faith” to believe in Evolution and the “facts” that have been presented to me are entirely unconvincing, especially when I know that the “facts” have changed over and over and over again over the past centuries (or decades, or years, or even months, as new “facts” come out all the time disputing old “facts”).
So, what we are really talking about here are competing truth claims or even competing religions or philosophies. We are looking at metanarratives that claim to best explain life, our origins, and our destination. I find Christiainty and its claims to be utterly convincing and to explain ultimate reality, the nature of man, what is wrong with the world, and how things are made right better than any other perspective that I have seen. And, to be gracious, I fully expect adherents of other views to think the same thing about how they see the world and I give them room to do so without thinking that they are morons, necessarily. From that basis of respect, let’s talk and discuss which view fits with the reality that we actually can observe and not just what we might speculate on. I am always happy to have discussions.
*Many scientists who have moved to a belief in Intelligent Design would be considered theistic evolutionists. In other words, they believe that God created using evolution as the means and that He guided the process. That is a theological claim based on a combination of readings of Scripture and scientific observation, in my opinion. People are free to believe that and that belief does not, in all cases, cancel out Biblical fidelity in other areas, necessarily (when we get into whether or not there was an historic Adam, for example, I think that we have moved beyond Scripture pretty strongly and we need stronger evidence to claim that Adam was just a mythical representative of humanity than our own theories on the matter). I disagree with theistic evolution though, for a lot of reasons – too many to get into here.

When Pharisees Attack (Addendum: What SHOULD Have Happened)

Authors Note: I have added a section at the end of this post spelling out what I believe would be a redemptive approach to this sad situation. As Christians, as the redeemed, our duty is to be avenues of redemption and healing.

Okay, I will admit that the title is a bit melodramatic, but it reflects the angst I feel over an issue I have been made aware of in a Baptist College; one that reflects values I consider to be more Pharisaic than Christian. Let me tell you the story, then you can weigh in on whether I am right or wrong in my feelings about this.

It all started when a young man who was involved in the school’s student government went to a member of the administration and asked for help with a problem he was having. The problem was not a small one – he was struggling with homosexual desires, a struggle that had been with him pretty much all of his life.

Let me spell out some background facts:

  1. He was reading a wide range of views on the topic of homosexuality, including some that said that the Bible did not condemn it as sinful. Is it hard to believe that a young man dealing with this kind of temptation might at least explore those views which say that his desires come from God, not from sin? He was also reading and considering those who maintained the biblical position that homosexual behavior was a sin.
  2. He  was not accused of any violations of the school’s code of conduct. No charges were leveled that he was engaged in homosexual behavior of any sort. The issue was that a) he was struggling with homosexual desires and b) he was reading views that did not conform with the school’s point of view.  The issue came not because of his sin, but because of his temptations!
  3. This young man was an exemplary and inspirational student leader at the school. To go into details would be to expose more of the story than I wish to do at this time.
  4. He went to the administration to seek help. He wanted advice, counsel, assistance and wisdom.

But what he got was judgment and condemnation. Instead of helping him, the person he approached reported him to one of the school’s vice presidents. The VP summoned him to his office and dispensed discipline. He was removed from student government, an act that led to public humiliation for the young man. (The reason for his removal from student government were known to all in the student government).

Because of this public shame, the young man has transferred from this Christian school to a nearby public school, where he will probably receive a very different message about his struggle with sin. He will be encouraged to embrace his sin and express it. The chances are very good that soon he will no longer be struggling with homosexuality, but will be living in it!

Here is what I think:

1) Homosexual desires are not sin and should not be treated as sinful. Homosexual behavior is sinful, but the desire to sin is NOT sin!

2) This young man should have been honored as one who was battling the flesh and its desires, not treated as anathema. The school got it 100% wrong on this one by putting him under discipline.

3) By expressing condemnation instead of grace, this Christian school has aided the Enemy in leading this young man down the path of sin. While the school and its administration are patting themselves on the back for their “righteous stand against sin” they are not considering the damage that their self-righteousness and spirit of condemnation has actually done.

4) Pharisaism is always present in the church, it is always dangerous. Pharisaism is far more dangerous than a young man’s struggle with homosexuality. The fact that a Baptist school can’t see that is sad.

Have we reached the point where we are treating temptation as sin, sinful desires as grounds for discipline? Are we more interested in demonstrating our judgment than our grace?

What do you say?

What SHOULD the School Have Done? 

This post has been up almost 24 hours now, and has certainly engendered discussion here. I’ve spent more time discussing this in private online discussions, which have led me to believe that this problem is widespread and is not simply limited to the way the church deals with homosexuality.

Too many in the church have adopted the ministry of condemnation toward sin; as if sinners are the enemy and need to be destroyed. Sinners are not the enemy of Christ or the church – they are the battleground. We do not fight against sinners, we fight FOR them, against the principalities and powers and lies that have bound this world in darkness.

Self-righteousness is evil. We need to become self-righteousness-o-phobes!  We need to fear and abhor that sin as much or more as we abhor abortion, adultery, homosexuality or murder. In fact, self-righteousness does more damage to the church than those other sins!

Rant over.

Now, here is what I would like to see a school, or a church, or any Christian organization, handle an admission that someone is struggling with homosexuality.

1) Assure the person that they are loved and accepted, and that you will stand with them as long as he or she is struggling against the sin. Affirm to the person that God’s love covers sin, that God’s power can make us “more than conquerors” over whatever sin throws at us.

2) Set the boundaries of God’s Word. “We cannot support or condone homosexual behavior, and if you make that choice, then this will become an issue of sin and discipline.” We do no one any favors when we compromise God’s Word just to make them feel better.

3) Offer help, as much help is needed. In the school situation, that would include such things:

  • Biblical counseling to work through any personal, emotional or spiritual issues the young person has gone through.
  • Enlist a professor of Bible to help the young man work through the theological/biblical issues. Don’t burn books – literally or figuratively. Provide someone who can help him see the weakness of the biblical arguments that are used to defend homosexual behavior.
  • Get either a spiritual mentor (an older student, faculty member, etc) and perhaps some kind of accountability group to help him.
  • Keep his struggle confidential.
  • Worry more about the young person than the perceptions of others. (People will often accuse those who take a redemptive approach toward people struggling with homosexuality as compromisers or such. Ignore them. Jesus Christ died to redeem sinners. Be part of his work. Do not let the self-righteous control you.)

4) Don’t give up. Victory comes after intense battles. This young person has come to you for help. Help him! Help her!  If they fail, keep trying. If they fall, help them up. Do not give up.

Scripture & Integrity Vs. Money & Security: Learning From Dr. Gordon Clark

This article was originally posted at my site. I’m married with three children, an SBC pastor, a PhD student at SBTS, and an average Southern Baptist. I’ve authored two books. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and YouTube.

In 1943, Gordon H. Clark resigned from teaching at Wheaton College in Wheaton, IL, after serving as a professor of philosophy for six years. The Presbyterian Guardian–the official newspaper of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church (OPC)–covered the controversy. Dr. Clark wrote in his resignation letter in response to the report adopted by the Trustees of Wheaton,

In general, the conditions laid down in the report are contrary to the conditions under which I originally accepted employment. The report states, “We do not find that Dr. Clark’s opinions differ materially from those which he frankly stated, and which were freely discussed, when he was employed’ six years ago.” I made it clear then that if conditions such as those contained in this report were contemplated, I would not consent to teach here. The present reversal of policy constitutes in my non-legal opinion a breach of the terms of my employment (pg. 86, Source).

The Trustees at Wheaton had changed the terms with which Clark had accepted employment. He could no longer teach in line with his conscience or Holy Scripture if he accepted their terms. He continued,

The conditions as stated in the report are, “1. That to the largest extent possible he confine his teaching to the stated subjects, without advocating any theological beliefs which are controversial among orthodox Christians; 2. That if asked his personal opinion as to the group of doctrines in question; he be frank but state the belief rather than expounding his reasons,—being equally frank in admitting his susceptibility to error and that his views in this respect have not been those of most Christian leaders;” My reasons for refusing to accept these conditions are the same now as they were six years ago, and involve both academic and religious principles.

Academically, these two recommendations to the effect that philosophy be taught without stating my reasons for propositions of theodicy is the equivalent of requiring a medical faculty to teach medicine without discussing the cause of typhoid fever or tuberculosis. This is a type of teaching with which I am unfamiliar. On the ground of religious and ‘moral conviction the following points must be enumerated.

First: I reject the contentions of paragraph six that sound deduction from Scripture is illegitimate, and also that the spirituality of God and his foreordination can be neither supported nor refuted by argument from Scripture.

Second: To comply with recommendation two would be immoral. The effect of compliance would be to persuade students that the two doctrines in question are merely some personal aberration, and would obscure the significant fact that they were the views of the greatest reformers and have been for more than three hundred years the official position of a score of denominations, represented in this country by the following: The Presbyterian Church in the U. S. A., The Presbyterian Church in the U. S., The United Presbyterian Church of North America, The Associate Presbyterian Church of North America, The Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church, The Reformed Presbyterian Church in North America, General Synod, The Orthodox Presbyterian Church, The Bible Presbyterian Church, The Bohemian and Moravian Brethren Churches.

Third: The Scriptures in many places (e.g., Acts 20:27 and II Tim. 3:16) require the proclamation of the whole gospel. The diluted Christianity and the expurgated Bible contemplated in this report are abhorrent to me.

Fourth: By adopting this report the Trustees of Wheaton College have officially pronounced the two doctrines in question “unsound” and “dangerous.” This is an open condemnation of all reformed denominations. Naturally I cannot support an organization that pronounces all the above mentioned Churches unsound and dangerous.

Fifth: To comply with these conditions would be to repudiate my vows of ordination to the eldership. The fact that others, since the growth of modernism in some denominations, neglect to perform their vows does not relieve me of my responsibility to Almighty God.

For these and similar reasons I am unable to comply with the requirements recently enacted by the Trustees, and I hereby present my resignation from the faculty of Wheaton College (pg. 86, Source).

Dr. Clark agreed to finish out the 1942-1943 school year based on the terms of his original employment, not the new terms approved by the trustees. The President and Executive Committee accepted his resignation without accepting or rejecting his reasons for resigning, and allowed him to finish out the 1942-1943 school year (pg. 86, Source).

The Presbyterian Guardian shed more light on the controversy a few months later. Some faculty and some students had complained against Dr. Clark, arguing that,

He carries the truth that God is the original Being to the point where he frankly states that God is the originator even of evil; and he identifies the sins which are committed with God’s plan, to the point, as we understand him, of saying that God purposed that they should be committed. To his mind these views neither alleviate the guilt of the sinner nor the need and duty of preaching righteousness and salvation. This situation may be better understood if we quote a few particular beliefs which he holds: God decrees one man to be a murderer, or adulterer, or idiot. God decrees some to heaven and some to hell. God is emotionless, unmoved. God’s love is a manifestation of His will only, not of His affections (if any). God never loved the non-elect (pg. 115, Source).

Edwin H. Rian, President of the Board of Trustees of Westminster Theological Seminary responded to these accusations against Dr. Clark in The Presybertian Guardian in an article titled, “Wheaton College Today,”

It is important to remember that Dr. Clark denied categorically in a letter to the president of the college that God is the author of evil, meaning, no doubt, sin as quoted from the Confession of Faith. Since the accusations are inadequate particularizations of his beliefs, Dr. Clark referred the president to the Westminster Confession of Faith for adequate statements of his convictions on the doctrines involved. Chapter III of the Westminster Confession of Faith expresses these dogmas of foreordination, election and reprobation, so well that we quote certain sections:

“I. God from all eternity did, by the most wise and holy counsel of his own will, freely and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass: yet so, as thereby neither is God the author of sin, nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures, nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established.

“II. Although God knows whatsoever may or can come to pass upon all supposed conditions; yet hath he not decreed any thing because he foresaw it as future, or as that which would come to pass upon such conditions.

“III. By the decree of God, for the manifestation of his glory, some men and angels are predestinated unto everlasting life, and others foreordained to everlasting death.

“IV. These angels and men, thus predestinated and foreordained, are particularly and unchangeably designed; and their number is so certain and definite, that it cannot be either increased or diminished…

“VII. The rest of mankind, God was pleased, according to the unsearchable counsel of his own will, whereby he extendeth or withholdeth mercy as he pleaseth, for the glory of his sovereign power over his creatures, to pass by, and to ordain them to dishonour and wrath for their sin; to the praise of his glorious justice”.

From the action of the Board of Trustees in laying down restrictions upon Dr. Clark, we must conclude that Wheaton College is opposed to these tenets of faith and in so doing sets itself against practically every Reformed and Presbyterian church body in the world, for all of the Calvinistic confessions contain similar teachings.

Certain students of Dr. Clark may have distorted these truths and his discussions of them, but every professor will testify to the prevalence of that practice. Surely no teacher can be held responsible for the misrepresentations of his views by students.

When such doctrines of the Word of God expressed so accurately in the historic Reformed confessions are called into question and even called harmful to the eternal interests of students, it is time for those of Calvinistic persuasion to reexamine Wheaton College. In other words, it is not so much Dr. Clark who is under scrutiny as it is Wheaton College and its stand for the truth.

When the new president, Dr. V. R. Edman, was elected two years ago, we were warned that Wheaton College would have a different emphasis. Dr. Clark’s forced resignation is evidence of the truthfulness of that warning (pg. 115, Source).

Dr. Clark was confessionally Reformed. His views had not changed in the six years he taught at Wheaton. They knew what they were getting with Dr. Clark. He had not changed, but Wheaton had changed. Albert O’Brien, another professor at Wheaton, resigned a few months later over Dr. Clark’s resignation (pg. 160, Source).

After Dr. Clark’s resignation, he and others in the OPC believed Wheaton still needed a historic Presbyterian representation on campus. Dr. Clark consented to accept the invitation of the Home Missions Committee to become the OPC Student Advisor at Wheaton. This position was independent of Wheaton, but he was able to offer courses near campus at his home unofficially:

In addition to the regular Sunday Bible classes which he has conducted in previous years, Dr. Clark plans to offer courses in various phases of Biblical truth throughout the year. The classes will be conducted in his home which has long been a rendezvous for students who have been interested in a serious study of the Bible as the Word of God (pg. 283, Source).

Dr. Clark chose Scripture, conscience, and integrity over money, power, and fame. Whether you agree with his Calvinism or not, one must respect his example of integrity in this matter.

If you were in Dr. Clark’s shoes at the time, would you have had enough integrity to do the same thing he did? Would we choose Scripture, conscience, and integrity, over money and security?

This article was originally posted at my site. I’m married with three children, an SBC pastor, a PhD student at SBTS, and an average Southern Baptist. I’ve authored two books. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and YouTube.