Beloved Brother, Berean and Editor:
The latest issue of FOUNDERS JOURNAL arrived today and I had to read it all before putting it down. As always, it is like "cold waters to a thirsty soul" and "good news from a far country" (Proverb 25:25). I salute you and all who contribute articles to this little magazine! It is becoming increasingly more important in spreading the truth of our sovereign God and encouraging men and women who believe in the grand doctrines of "the faith once delivered unto the saints." Every issue is deeply appreciated!
Regarding the Fall 2000 issue (number 42) I want to record two personal observations and the problems they present to me and others with whom I have had conversation:
First, I am perplexed that Mark Dever and his associate did not press Paige Patterson to explain why he has been so clamorously caustic in his criticism of Bible believers who are sometimes called "Calvinists." Time after time, over and over again, this former president of our SBC (along with Adrian Rogers, Jerry Vines and other denominational leaders) has belligerently and vociferously castigated "Calvinism" and the interview would have been an excellent opportunity to learn if he does this from ignorance or maliciousness, or perhaps a combination of both. Why I wonder was this issue avoided in the interview? Then perhaps it was part of the interesting interview but the editor decided not to print it. If that were the case, why was it not included? Why?
Secondly, I question either the courage of the writer or the wisdom of the editor (or perhaps a combination of both on the part of both) in "for security reasons" allowing the author of the excellent article on "The Glory of God: Our Supreme Passion" to remain "anonymous." WHY was this considered a necessity? "For security reasons, the author must remain anonymous." WHY? WHY must any writer of truth remain unidentified? This is a great mystery to me!
While I do not expect my letter of constructive criticism and sincere inquiry to be printed in the FOUNDERS JOURNAL, I am not afraid of having my name attached if it is used! I prefer to call myself A BIBLE-BELIEVING BAPTIST CHRISTIAN WHO STRONGLY PROCLIAMS SOME (BUT NOT ALL) OF THE THINGS CALVIN BELIEVED AND TAUGHT. With that clarification, if people want to call me a Calvinist, so be it! Some have placed that brand on me for 48 years!
Who but a "closet Calvinist" would be fearful of signing such an outstanding article as the one written by the "anonymous" individual and printed on pages 21-22 of the magazine? The article by "anonymous" is a splendid statement and one that any courageous Bible believer would gladly sign unless he or she is afraid of persecution in some form. But I firmly believe that mistreatment or persecution in some form goes with standing for truth! How do you and the unknown author of this superb article interpret such Scriptures as Matthew 5:10-12, John 15:18-20, and II Timothy 3:12?
In Christian love,
Charles Wayne Rosson
Response to Charles Rosson:
Thank you for your letter and kind, encouraging words. Your support of the Founders Journal is greatly appreciated. The interview with Paige Patterson did address issues of Calvinism, though not in the accusatory way which you suggested. The discussion at this point was brief and not very probing. In the interest of space and relevance, I chose to include segments that demonstrate Patterson shares some common concerns with many FJ readers.
Regarding the article on the glory of God, you are certainly free to question both the courage of the author and the editor's wisdom but I can assure you that you have an easier case with the latter than the former. The author has planted churches in some of the most dangerous countries of the world for Christians. He presently oversees missionaries in several such countries. It is easy for those of us living comfortable, middle-class lives in America to challenge the courage of such a man but, quite honestly, it rings hollow.
I can assure you that the author is not afraid of persecution and has faced it up close. I have wept with him in prayer for one of the elders of a church he planted who was given an almost-certain death sentence because of his faith. There is a great difference between wearing the label of "Calvinist" as some kind of badge of "persecution" in the USA and looking down the barrel of an AK-47 in the hands of a fundamentalist Muslim who believes you have blasphemed Allah.
The verses cited, like countless others you could have cited, teach us that persecution is to be expected and even celebrated in the life of faith. They do not teach, however, that a Christian should forget discretion and wisdom when his actions and comments can bring hundreds of lives into harm's way. If the author is linked publicly to his comments in the article and to the hundreds of missionaries and indigenous Christians in countries that are hostile to the Gospel, he could unnecessarily jeopardize their work.
A similar kind of prudence was demonstrated by our Lord when the Jews became angry at Him over His teaching: "Then they took up stones to throw at Him; but Jesus hid Himself and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by" (John 8:59). Surely, this is not a lack of courage. Furthermore, Paul, who penned 2 Timothy 3:12, escaped over the city wall of Damascus at night because his persecutors wanted to kill him (Acts 9:23-25). Should we accuse him of being afraid of persecution?
One final verse will suffice. Moses' parents are commended for hiding him when he was born and, against Pharaoh's decree, allowed to live. In fact, their action is specifically said to arise out of faith and not fear: "By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden three months by his parents, because they saw he was a beautiful child; and they were not afraid of the king's command" (Hebrews 11:23). They hid him thereby intentionally avoiding persecution, and their actions were motivated by faith, not fear.
Given these examples and teachings, surely we should give the benefit of the doubt to our brother before questioning his motives for remaining anonymous.