Why I’m joining #the15, and I’m not even an angry Calvinist

Dr. Randy White

On December 23, Ed Stezter, who discerns the direction of the wind for LifeWay, tweeted about “15 angry Calvinists who are mad at everyone.” The subject matter was a reference made by John Piper regarding the pope that made these “mad Calvinists” angry. Stetzer closed his tweet with the hashtag #SMH (shaking my head).

I hope that soon his head is spinning.

15The tweet sparked a quick movement of #the15, and now a growing number of angry people are using a highway marker with the number 15 as their Twitter profile picture. Their anger has nothing to do with Calvinism. It is about the heresy peddled by LifeWay under the name of Biblical resources.

In fact, I’m not a Calvinist. I think the entire Calvinist soteriological construct is built on a false assumption. Further, I reject the entire reformed theological system in its entirety. Covenant theology is the world’s biggest system of eisegesis (reading into Scripture) as far as I am concerned. Regardless, I’m joining #the15. It doesn’t take a Calvinist to get angry at the situation at LifeWay.

I haven’t done the research to see what Piper even said about the Pope. However, as a background note, it is surprising to many of the denominational and evangelical elite that the new buddy-buddy spirit with the Roman Catholic church is disturbing to many non-elitists.

I know I am often marginalized and criticized for being an angry dispensationalist. I’m not the guy that represents the SBC, as the 1st VP of the SBC was quick to make known.  I know I’m just a radical fundamentalist of the old Southern Baptist order. I know that I’m ignored but despised by SBC agency heads and leadership (with a few known and appreciated exceptions). But I also know that this is no time to be silent, no time to “go along to get along,” no time to accept the “we have to get along or we’re not a good witness” propaganda.

If I had my way, the SBC would look totally different. For starters—

  • We would defund and shut down the ERLC. It’s a huge waste of money, its lobbying role could be fulfilled by the SBC President and its ethics role could be better leveraged through the seminaries. It has become (again) a left-leaning social-justice agency of the SBC.
  • The IMB would get a strategy. It’s the only organization I know with thousands of strategists around the world, and yet no comprehensive strategy for teaching the Bible to the peoples of the world. The Word will not come back void, but our IMB lack-of-strategy for teaching the word has proven ineffective.
  • NAMB would fulfill all of its convention assignments, and not be just the large-city church planting agency of the SBC.
  • LifeWay would be sold for market value (unlike Glorieta), and the proceeds used for real missions and evangelism. The day for the necessity of a denominationally owned publisher is gone. We need to own LifeWay like we need to use an IBM Selectric for a nice font on our outgoing letter.

I doubt any of this is going to happen. So I’ll join #the15 for other reasons.

It seems that #the15 gang condemns LifeWay for the heresy sold on its shelf. Their agenda has little to do with their Calvinism, and I couldn’t agree with them more. For years I’ve been writing letters and making phone calls to LifeWay leadership, trustees, employees, and local retail stores. I always get the same non-response. The truth is, LifeWay stores are filled with material which is at odds with the Baptist Faith and Message, the average Southern Baptist, and, frankly, even the Bible itself. The secondary truth is that LifeWay refuses to respond, sticks their nose at the will of the SBC messengers themselves, and arrogantly continues its charade as a purveyor of Biblical resources.

My church doesn’t support it. For decades I was a “LifeWay only” pastor. If the Baptist Sunday School Board (now LifeWay) didn’t produce it, my church didn’t use it. I explained to my congregation that we needed to know Baptist doctrine, and no other publisher would teach it. I explained that we were a part of a larger body of Baptists, and only SBC literature would keep our large-family agenda and values before our people.

Now,  I’ve led my church away from LifeWay literature. I almost never go into a LifeWay store, and if  I mention LifeWay stores, it is to warn people about the heresy on the shelves.

I’m not a Calvinist, but I’m one of #the15. When LifeWay trustees do the work they need to do, I may be back. My desire is to be a Southern Baptist. I’ve invested so much in them, and they in me. But I cannot be bought, and I will stand on my convictions.

So me and a proverbial 15 others are not supporting LifeWay. To meet some of the others, go to Twitter (you don’t need an account) and search #the15. You’ll find that there are a lot more than 15.

Which may make Ed Stetzer shake his head.