Monday, December 18, 2006

Denominational (or otherwise) inquiry

Thank God, this blog is blessed with a wide spectrum of readers, including a number of pastors.

Riddle me this: you specifically who are, not necessarily in this order, (a) Calvinistic, yea, unto all five of the points, and (b) baptistic, and (c) dispensational — have you been able to find a denominational home? If so, how has that gone, for you?

Or have you had to strike out on your own? How has that gone? Have you made any associations?

Or are you in a denomination, but you just have to shut up about, or downplay, some of your convictions?

I'm very interested to hear from pastors, but anyone and everyone is welcome to join in. Tell your story.


Anonymous said...

We belong to a non-denominational church that was originally a Fundamentalist Baptist church. It is definitely dispensational and baptistic, but it is not what I would call Calvinistic. I am pretty certain that the pastor does not hold to the L of the TULIP acronym, and I have wondered what his position about "free grace" would be.

So, in answer to your question, yes, we do have to shut up about some of our convictions. We began going to this church because the former pastor was probably a 4.99999 pointer, dispensational, and Baptistic. This pastor, who was a pastor at a church in Richardson, Texas, and is a little different. Unfortunately, there are really only a few people who notice. It leaves me wondering if anyone really gives it much thought.

We would love to go to more Calvinistic church, but the only one in the area is not only amilennial (a position which we don't really think we embrace)but it doesn't have a very active youth ministry, and we won't take our kids somewhere where there isn't something for them to do. Some people may think that's a bad reason, but if you want your kids to have Christian friends, they need to be involved at a place where there are Christian kids.

At one time, we went to an awesome, awesome little church. It was Calvinistic, baptistic and dispensational. It was a very wonderful two years. We learned a lot.

Anonymous said...

So I assume "downplay" means having a chuckle about how many times Owen uses the word "dispensation" in a given paragraph? :-)

I always thought it was tough (or at least slightly frustrating) for you at our church. Thanks for sticking around, though. I've appreciated your preaching and conversation.

When Jen and I lived in San Luis Obispo, we left a PCA church to attend a non-denominational (whatever that means) church. It didn't really match up theologically for us, but we mostly went for the young-marrieds fellowship.

DJP said...

I hope I don't give the impression of being frustrated with the areas of doctrinal mismatch. I knew they were there going in, and obviously accepted that. It is hands-down the consistently best overall preaching I've ever heard, and the fellowship has done me a world of good.

Kay said...

Hmm, I was thinking about this for a post in the New Year on the state of evangelical belief in the UK (shamelessly piggy-backing off Phil's idea).
I have no idea what our reformed baptist church is eschatology-wise, but then I'm not sure what I am either, so that doesn't really make any odds.
I know when we first found it, we were still undecided about the credo-paedo-baptist issue, but were just utterly overjoyed to find a church that was reverent and majored on preaching the Word. When I discovered pamphlets by Peter Masters in the Sunday School room, we had an idea we were onto a good thing, and so we just kept quiet about the baptism thing. Over time, our understanding of that grew so that we can quite happily say we're reformed baptists now anyway.

Denominational stuff is quite baffling sometimes, I'm still confused by a lot of it.

Matt Gumm said...

You should talk to Even So.

Anonymous said...

No, Dan, you don't give off any frustrated aire. Just my own thoughts...

Anonymous said...

Right here, Gummby, hmmmmmm....let's see....Dan, I'll give you more than you bargained for, just FYI...

I pastor an independent used to be SBC and left the convention before I got there...

I'm a Calvidispiebaptogelical

Yeah, that about says it, I guess...

Ok, particulars, drum roll please....

Soteriology: 5 points (hint: John Gill is my homeboy)...

Ecclesiology: plurality of elder rule type thing...

Eschatology: premil, pretrib, Isreal literal (Jeremiah 31:35-36)

Zwinglian regarding ordinances (Michael Horton is as far off here as I am from dunking a basketball - 5'2" 190 lbs.)...

Denominational home? Is there a Reformed Baptist homebase?

Associations: We have all types of kiddie pool Christianity here in Citrus County, I refuse to belong to the "clergy associaton" here...55% purpose driven, 23% word of faith, 20% charismmania, C. Peter Wagner stuff, one giant PCA church with a great statement of faith, a wonderful coffee bar, shiny happy people, and marketing that would make Joel Osteen proud...and on and on it goes...

Recently, when I went to the Brandon Conference to see Chris Pixley, Phil, and Dr. Reymond, I did, in His grace, find one man from our county who is pastor of a Reformed Baptist congregation, and we are starting to get together a little, thank you Lord...

DJP said...

Now Even, you say "Reformed Baptist" with the caps. My impression is that with-caps Reformed Baptists (hereafter RB's) are as a rule CTers who'd sooner set fire to dispies than be associated with them. I mean, I'd say I was reformed (5 sola's) and (credo-)baptist, but don't think I'd be embraced by Reformed Baptists.

In fact the distinction I've heard is that RB's are more or less covenantal, and either amill or "historical" premill, as opposed to New Covenant or Sovereign Grace Baptists, who'd see the church as a new man and not Israel 2.0.

How did you get ordainitized?

Anonymous said...

insurrection, then...;-)

As far as capitalization, elipses (...) and whatnot, its, it's ITS, IT's, well, I do that to frustrate you...

Yeah, I know, I don't fit any label either, in that sense...that is why we remain independent, well, one reason, anyway...

I was ordained by this church I pastor...I had been licensed by a church whose HQ is in Michigan, who I will not mention, and also had been going through ordination processes of a large denomination, but couldn't go through with it, because I just didn't have the same convictions...their statements I could sign in good conscience, but I knew I was not of their stripe...

Anonymous said...

Kim told you about the church we attended that was closest to this (actually, it was pretty well right on). It was wonderful.

The church was small, and never exceeded 30 persons.

But then the Pastor went home to the U.S. Regarding his replacement, we did not ... choose ... wisely. (Also, he was the only guy who would work for what we could afford to pay)

After a brief settling-in period he attempted to take us charismatic, which split the tiny congregation. We asked him to resign. At least half of the congregation were going to follow the charismatic pastor, and more than half of the remainder almost instantly went ice cold with disillusionment or discouragement or whatever. We considered and prayed and felt that the best action at that point was to shut the church down. Thus ended my diaconate and the only Calvidispiebaptogelical church I've ever come across.

After that we attended an Evangelical Free Church for a year, just for contrast. ;)

A Birdy said...

Hi Dan

I am a) Calvinistic, yea, unto all five of the points, and (b) baptistic, and (c) dispensational & (d) Cessationist.

I live in Perth, Western Australia. There are no churches here that adhere to those points (Especially points a and b together). I have never found a suitable church to attend. I would to attend a church that adheres to those points above – so Dan if you wish to start a church here :-)

I was in a denomination for 12+ years called “Church of Christ” in Australia (Called “Disciples of Christ” in America) but left at the end of 2005 for personal reasons. Having to “have to shut up about, or downplay, some of your convictions” described my situation at church perfectly. No way could you mention “Election” or worse “Limited atonement”

At the moment I don’t go to church. (I know I am naughty). Mainly because I am tired of Arminianism, Decisionism, Cheap seeker sensitive churches, Liberalism and I am not a Presbyterian.

I listen to audio sermons from Phil Johnson and Don Green from Gracelife and Dr Peter Masters from the London Metropolitan Tabernacle.

Anonymous said...

Dan, are you familiar with FIRE (Fellowship of Independent Reformed Evangelicals)? Here's their website,

All I know is that our church/leadership (5 points, baptistic, mix of disp. and cov.--interesting, huh??) has had some contact and/or association with them and members of FIRE.

Just might fit what you described.

Anonymous said...

Hi Dan, there is this little denomination called Southern Baptists that have more than a few Calvidispiebaptogelicalists.

DJP said...

Hi Gavin — I'm sorry to hear that. My impression is that Australia is a pretty barren area except for oases here and there (I mean spiritually). As to starting a church there, not sure my family's ready to move to another planet. (c;

Let me give you a friendly nudge, though. I don't think the Lord cancels Hebrews 10:19ff. because we can't find a perfect church. (I've long since accepted that a perfect church wouldn't allow me to join, anyway.) Our forefathers in the faith, who could be killed for associating publicly with any kind of Christians, would be absolutely baffled at our pickiness.

Odd you mention Presbyterian. I'm not one either, yet I am. My family was attending a church that doctrinally was pretty close to where we are, but the preaching was tepid, safe, passionless, and the fellowship impenetrable to us. At a friend's recommendation, I scouted out a different church's service, not knowing it was Presbyterian. When I saw that, I thought, "OK, so this is a one-time visit."

But the preaching was passionate, alive, Biblical, God-centered, Christ-exalting, convicting — and it has consistently been so for the past 4+ years. So we joined. I have opportunities to preach, which I love, but am barred from leadership. As I said, I knew going in that I couldn't hold office. The fellowship has done me a world of good.

So I'm encouraging you to find a church fellowship. Go for the less-than-100%, look for a better in the meanwhile.

In other news -- you mention cessationist. I should have! I guess I thought if you were the first three, you'd probably be the fourth.

Connie, thanks; is your church in a denomination? If so, which?

Kevin—actually my pastoral licensing is SB. I was involved in one SB church. Turbulent. One of the olders faulted me (nicely) for not doing the cattle call after every sermon; so I let him.

From what I've been reading, SB Calvinists are a very small minority.

candy said...

My husband and I drive an hour to go to a reformed Baptist church. It is covenantal, though we lean towards dispensatonal. People drive from all over, some as far south as Lee Vining to attend this church. It is a very good church, with excellent teaching. Many people who attend come from Charismatic backgrounds, such as my husband and me, and yet the church is very conservative in worship practice. A piano and two lead singers (one who incessantly chews gum), a mixture of hymns and contemporary songs (mostly from Sovereign Grace). It is hard to find a good church in Reno. Most have embraced purpose-driven. We attended a Calvary Chapel for awhile but got tired of Calvinism bashing since Dave Hunt is a hero to Calvary Chapelites. At least they taught the Word of God, albeit from an Arminian stance. So, we are willing to drive the hour drive to go to a good church.

DJP said...

Hi Candy:

1. Gum-chewing: doesn't your assembly do church discipline? (c;

2. CC -- we also tried it for awhile, and got fed up with the pastor's issues with Calvinism and authority. (Hm; is there a connection?)

3. Sorry to hear you have to drive so far. It'd be really hard with young children, and for fellowship purposes.

Anonymous said...

Dan: No, our church is not in a denomination--it is a "Bible Church". We do enjoy a loose/unofficial association (conferences, camps, retreats, etc.) with like-minded churches/leaders throughout the country.

I/we personally have not had to "sacrifice" a thing theologically in this church. God has seen fit to bless us in this way for a little over 8 yrs. (we are VERY thankful). We've had plenty of experience in churches where we had to "lay low" on some matters we considered to be significant but not "deal breakers"--it was challenging at times but not impossible.

As I've already mentioned, we are Calvinistic (all 5 pts.), baptistic, and a mix of disp. and cov.--and yes, I suppose I'd better start including "cessationist".

That being said, we do have a small number of people at our church who do not hold to all 5 pts., disp., or cessation. They have been warmly welcomed and received--they say that they enjoy the teaching ministry so much that those matters are not major enough for them. I find that to be a wonderful testimony of God's grace and mercy to ALL of us!!!

Thanks for opening this topic--very interesting and useful.

Anonymous said...

God converted my soul 6 years ago in my bedroom. I moved to Texas from Ohio to furthur investigate "biblical" christianity ( I had NO church background) and started attending a Southern Baptist Church, and was baptized, and was a member of that denomination for the last 5 years. Last year I moved to Kentucky, Berea Ky that is, and through a series of crisis, God showed me the Truth of His soveriegnty. As I grew to understand the truth about the hows and whys of conversion, my S.B.C. church in KY began to bother me, and not in angry sort of way, but a grieving sort of way. When one prominent elder/deacon started publishing his views on universalism in the church newsletter, I meekly asked the pastor to stop this. Through a series of biblical correspondence, I realized that my pastor didn't see a need to stop it, and that our ideas on the nature of salvation was in fact the root of the conflict. The topical sermons on love, husbandry, and practical 21 century concerns really neglected the Bible, and I felt it deeply in my soul. I made a hard decision for my family to find a church elswhere after much prayer, and personal correspondence with the church pastor. As I checked out each S.B.C. church in my area, I realized they all suffered from a strange situation: Biblical Relativism. Every S.B.C. church in my county in some way or fashion was suffering from either Liberalism or extreme pragmatism or had a different vision than my concious shared. Through prayer, and a suggestion from a pastor friend in Arkansas, I found a church listed under the Shepherd's conference in a town 12 miles away. Unlike my pastor who could never meet with me and never answered my emials even when we were without the deacon conflict, this pastor met with me and answered all my questions. The church was a Reformed Baptist church, and very small. I went from a 500 person church to a 30 person church, but this church strives to be Christ-Centered in all that it does. Through the extreme amount of biblical discipleship this pastor and church has given my family, as wel las accountablity, We have been so blessed. My family gave up alot for this, and the decision wasnt easy. We were on track to become missionaries with the International Mission Board, the S.B.C. missions center. We lost our standing with the mission board, we lost what seemed to be what God was drawing us to do, all of this occuring after we spent the summer in Eastern Europe involved in missions for the S.B.C. Our future is in doubt, all becuase my concious was tormented by my churches 'whatever' attitude on what I feel is some important issues. I came to realize that our understanding of salvation, and our view of scripture, really determines alot according to how we will practice ministry. I believe in the biblical theology of Reformed Soteriology. I hold a high view of scripture. In looking for a church, I was looking for a church that upheld the scriptures as i felt they should be held. To my shame, it was the first time I ever looked for a church with doctrine as my primary concern- and not just in lip service, but in practice.

My own understanding of the Doctrines of Grace really led me to not be so upset with the perpatrators of false christianity. God isnt suprised by them, and they themselves are blind, and in thier own power and strength cannot see. God has enabled me to be more graceful and more prayerful becuase of this, though false teaching is so hard to bear, and prevalent. To God be the glory for His answer to my deep felt prayers about serving at a church that was faithful. Since I am about to graduate and I essiantally threw away what I was in college fo, I am depending on Him to place me in the ministry or mission field of His choosing when I graduate. Yes, I am nervous...So keep in your prayers. I just wanted to do the right thing, to bring Him His glory.

FX Turk said...

You better define the "D" word before you try to get an answer to that question. "D"ispensational, that is.

C.T. Lillies said...

From what I've been reading, SB Calvinists are a very small minority.

No kidding.

I can do a. and b. Dan but c. gives me a headache--I haven't worked that out yet. I did have a fellow try to explain it to me with charts a graphs but he seemed more interested in conversion than conversation.

Right now we're in a PDL SBC church right now and we'd get out PDQ if we could but we live so far out in the sticks that it's probably the best choice. Our pastor is a good preacher, though rarely expository, and a good pastor too.

I made the mistake of teaching part of a reformed bible study recently. It didn't fly too far. Baptists like their "choice" too much for that.

But...I'm not bitter, no not me.

"...the word of God is not bound."
--2 Timothy 2:9

DJP said...

Yeah, Frank, someday I really should write something about Dispensationalism.

Like THIS.



Anonymous said...

Frank: that thought ocurred to me, too. Even though I consider myself disp., I think it is a bit "muddled" these days as it has sort of "evolved". I find myself comfortable with folks in both camps--I don't particularly like finding myself to be in the "middle" on anything. I know I need to devote more time and study to it, and have considered posting an "invitation to open dialogue" on my blog at some time--would love to hear from others regarding how they've arrived at their positions.

c.t. lillies: I've initiated such conversations and found the same result--more focus on conversion rather than conversation. Disappointing cause I really value the conversations!

DJP said...

All right, two commenters on my blog getting misty about having "coversations"... next thing you know, Frank will be saying I've gone Emergent!

C.T. Lillies said...

"This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, 18Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: 19Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. 20But ye have not so learned Christ; 21If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus: 22That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; 23And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; 24And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness."

Personally I think that’s the conversation we should be concerned about. Even a quick look at the church today will show that we're not.

"...the word of God is not bound."
--2 Timothy 2:9

Anonymous said...

Oh my!! Is it okay to say that I've had "verbal exchanges"? :-) I'll try to be more careful in the future!

Anonymous said...

Frank: your post was valid--I've read the two posts recommended several times and I still do not know what dispensationalism IS. Any suggestions for reading material on dispensationalism, especially as it relates to/differs from covenantalism would be appreciated--Dispys for dummies? Covenantalism made easy?
Dan: Emergent? Never! And if you ever are, I will personally whop you upside the head!
Connie: I'd also love to understand better, and academic conversation on the matter would be delightful--except I'd have to be a spectator, as I don't know enough, nor do I have any strong convictions one way or the other until I study it further.

A Birdy said...

Hi Dan,
Thanks for your answer.
There are two types of Presbyterian churches in Perth - Plain "Presbyterian" or "Westminister Presbyterian".
Do you know the difference between them or recommend one over the other?. My biggest concern with Presbyterian
churches in Perth is that they could be liberal and the people not really believe the bible (As well as some theological differences and infant baptism).

Colin Maxwell said...


There is the Free Presbyteran Church in Perth:

Dan...My postion is Calvinist, yea unto all the five points, Presbyterian (Church government) Fence sitter on prophecy. No need to keep my head down and mouth shut on any of my beliefs.

DJP said...

Thanks, GNSH. Gavin, I don't know how to check your area. I checked out the URL GNSH gave. The denomination looks fundamental and reformed; pretty much liked their stand, don't love that they only use the KJV. What's that about, GNSH?

DJP said...

Oh, and in other news:

Though hardly an authority, since the question keeps coming up (somewhat to my bafflement), I'm working on a series of posts on what I mean by dispensationalism.

Kevin Jones said...

I go to an Evangelical Free Church in Walnut Creek, CA that is a, b, and c. I think that EFCA churches vary somewhat, but I have been impressed by my church and the denomination in general...

C.T. Lillies said...

Dan if you say you're dispensational is that similar to saying you're covenantal? I mean does it fall into the same type of category doctrinally speaking?

"...the word of God is not bound."
--2 Timothy 2:9

twbowes said...

Mr. Phillips, I simply wanted to comment that I like your blog. Thanks for all of the interesting things you have here, including both your comments, those of others and interesting links.

Grace and peace to you from God the Father and Jesus the Son,
Romans 12:1-2

DJP said...

Hey Gavin, thanks to Carla, I just found THIS.

Check it out. Hope it helps!

Lance Roberts said...

I'm reformed, coventantal, postmillenial and very anti-dispensationalist, but finding no conservative churches even close, I'm going to a brethren church right now. I'm trying to move to Texas so I can find a family-integrated church, but haven't found the job that will get me there yet.

Pastor Michael said...

Sorry to be so late to the party, but I'm just now catching up on what TeamPyro said over the holidays. (BTW, not that your prior stuff wasn't fine, but your last three Pyroposts have been stellar.)

Six years ago I became pastor of the small non-denominational, baptistic, Arminian church that led me to Christ 28 years ago. Providentially, I was led to preach expositorally which in turn led to my becoming quite Calvinistic. Though I see benefit from considering covenental aspects of salvation history, I can't make the leap to the church supplanting Israel, so I guess that makes me more D than C. (All those pesky passages about a concrete, future Israel and Jerusalem, I just can't get to "Jesus, the Church, Whatever".)

Anyway, it's a challenge finding like-minded pastors in my area.

Two contradicting thoughts for you:
1) Start or find a church to pastor to confirm your framework. Piper did something similar, leaving teaching to see if his convicitons on the Sovereignty of God could be worked out pastorally.

2)If the scriptures feature perspicacity, then why are so few of us Calvidispiebaptogelical?

Thanks for your diligence in searching the scriptures and for your thougtful postings.


Matthew Henry said...

I am a pastor of a SBC church in wisconsin,, which is calvinistic (all 5) and dispensational. I have refused to shut up or downplay my convictions in the convention, nor have I made them the focus. I am trying to raise up a church that overwhelms the Arminians in our state convention in evangelism, exaltation of God, and personal holiness. I have many Amil in my church and have not made my pre-mil convictions a huge issue, just waiting for the right texts to come along since I am also an expositional preacher (from The Master's Seminary). Of course, when I come back from my trip to my alma mater this next week I will be preaching through Romans 9-11... that will be eye-opening for some.

I have had to go at it alone most of my ten years at this church, but over the last two or so years, the Lord has brought about three other pastors with my convictions into the convention. I have hope to see more over time.

I sure appreciate your posts Dan. Keep up the good work. Have you ever considered an associate's position, or are you only interested in a senior pastor's spot?

And....what is up with all these "anonymous" posters?

DJP said...

Thanks, Michael and Matthew both. Good to hear from you. God's blessing on you and that series, Matthew, and I hope it is eye-opening. As I've said, some of the very finest men in the history of the church have been amill -- but trying to get them to re-think Biblically is often very like talking to Roman Catholics.

This blog doesn't allow anonymous posting. It's an unfortunate side-effect of moving to Blogger 2; many of the older comments, which had not been anyonymous, became anonymous.

Pastor Michael said...

Horrors--I meant to refer to scripture's perspicuity, not perscipacity! Note to self: stop posting after bedtime.


ann said...

"Riddle me this: you specifically who are, not necessarily in this order, (a) Calvinistic, yea, unto all five of the points, and (b) baptistic, and (c) dispensational — have you been able to find a denominational home? If so, how has that gone, for you?"

I think I am all of the three above, but don't shoot me if I am wrong. It has been a very short time in my life to sort out all of this and learn the lingo.
I was able to find the only appropriate church in the southern Sweden that is all of the above, and it only takes 35 km to drive there - so, I guess, I am very blessed.
BTW, I always enjoy reading Your blog, and things You post over at Pyro. Do not ever stop - You were considering it, as I found out. Do not. Please. There is one person in Sweden who needs to read sound theological texts by DJP.

DJP said...

Well then, Ann, my dilemma is solved! I'll just move to Sweden! (Afraid that's a bit further than 35km for me, though.)

As to the rest, you're being terribly sweet, and I do appreciate it. I think I clarified in the comments that I was venting; it is as close as I get to feeling like quitting. But it is the most widespread ministry I've ever had, and I've no intention of quitting. But thank you so much for your gracious encouragement.

ann said...

I think I want to give You a sisterly hug right now :)

Unknown said...

I have to wonder if the EFCA would be a decent fit for you. My pastor is a 5-point calvinist and strongly dispensational. Not that he is a prototypical EFCA pastor, but I am certain that are several like him.

I thought it would at least be worth suggesting.

Best Regards,