Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Is there a place for Arminians in the pulpit?
As a pastor I take the seriously the teaching ministry of the church. As a committed Calvinist (of the Spurgeon & Whitefield variety), I want to ensure that this teaching is in accord with the biblical doctrines of grace. As someone who is committed to plural teaching voices, I also insist that others be allowed into our church's pulpit to challenge and equip the congregation.
This past Sunday I asked a dear friend to deliver the morning and evening sermons. This young man currently serves in two congregations and spends much of his time in evangelistic ministry. He is also a committed Arminian. In fact, we would disagree on several issues. For example, I passionately and fully believe that "Lordship salvation" is the only view of salvation that is consistent with the teachings of the New Testament. Or, as one would say these days, 'John MacArthur is my homeboy'. My young friend rigorously opposes Lordship Salvation and follows the teachings of Zane Hodges and Charles Stanley.
Still, this young man loves Jesus Christ and passionately wants to serve him. He eagerly desires to see others saved and strives to bring glory to God. He desires to be holy and offers himself daily as a servant to advance the Gospel. He is also thoroughly committed to the power of God's Word and has devoted his life to advance its teachings.
Even so, to what extent, if at all, should a Calvinistic pastor allow an Arminian speaker into his pulpit? I should note that I have not always exercised proper control. As I mature into this role I do feel the need to use more and more discretion regarding who ascends into the pulpit. Still, I do feel that we can, at times, open our pulpits to men who are "less than fully" convinced of the doctrines of grace.
But I value your thoughts on this issue. As it stands now, here are some of my guidelines.
1. This should not be a regular experience.
2. The speaker must agree not to consciously go against our leadership's teachings.
3. The speaker must agree to intentionally stay away from the points of controversy.
4. The occasion must be followed up by the regular pastor with deeper teaching on points of agreement/disagreement.
For you other guys in the ministry, or who are perhaps theologically astute on these issues, what are your thoughts?