In a post at SBC Voices entitled "Trust and the Trustees of MWBTS," deep in the comments, Rick Patrick said, "Calvinists think Dr. Allen is eminently qualified, while everyone else thinks his only real qualification is that he knows Al Mohler." The subject of the post is the nomination of Dr. Jason Allen to the helm of our seminary in Kansas City and the subsequent reaction to that nomination by some friends of mine (we'd probably all agree that this post by Peter Lumpkins and the several that followed it on Peter's blog have given leadership to the voices dissenting against Allen's nomination).
It's Rick's comment, mostly, that brings me to my keyboard tonight. I'm not a Calvinist. I'm also not opposed to Dr. Allen's candidacy in Kansas City. And I like to speak for myself rather than to be defined by being lumped into some group. Really, I wasn't sure WHAT I thought about Allen's candidacy, because until all of this came up I really didn't know much about him. But I've performed a little bit of research, and here are some of the questions I would ask my non-Calvinistic brethren:
Are you sure Dr. Allen is a Calvinist? Because one of his best friends in the world says that Dr. Allen holds to fewer than 4 points and always has. Now, if he were a Calvinist, that wouldn't exclude him from service in the SBC as far as I'm concerned, but I've yet to see a single quote from Allen in which he actually claims to be a Calvinist. Working for Dr. Mohler, I wouldn't think that he would have been afraid to own up to it, if he actually is a Calvinist at all.
Are you sure that Dr. Mohler is behind Dr. Allen's candidacy at MBTS? Because the rumors I hear are that Judge Paul Pressler is a big booster of Dr. Jason Allen. I haven't spoken with Judge Pressler directly about this, but I do live in Texas, and from not too many hops away, that is my impression of things. I don't doubt that Dr. Mohler is supportive of Dr. Allen, but why is that one relationship, above all of the others, the one that defines who Dr. Allen is? Pressler's endorsement would have some persuasive force with me.
Is Dr. Allen's performance at his seminary church really the right measure of his candidacy? I served FBC Farmersville while I was a Ph.D. student. It was tough. Dr. Allen, as I understand things, served a church while being a Ph.D. student and holding down a full-time job at SBTS. Wow. I'm not sure how prudent that is, presuming as I do that Dr. Allen has not cloned himself, but I must admit that, from someone who has lived some portion of that life, it earns a bit of my admiration.
Is Dr. Allen a member / leader / Manchurian Candidate from the "Founders movement"? I don't know. Again, if he's not a Calvinist, then I doubt that he's a leader in the Founders movement. I believe it when I read that he served a church that was listed as "Founders-friendly," but I don't know what that means. You know, CBF will list your church among their affiliated congregations if one wayward member is sending them money. How does a church wind up on the Founders list? Does the church have to vote to affiliate? Or is it just the pastor? What if the church changes pastors—does the listing automatically come down if the new guy doesn't have the same relationship with Founders that the last guy had?
I wonder whether all of the YRR supporters of Dr. Allen know what he believes about beverage alcohol? I hear that he's a convictional teetotaler like me, or at least something close to that. Peter is the author of an excellent book on this topic. It's interesting to me to discover that, on this issue, it's (I think) Peter Lumpkins and Jason Allen on one side, and Mark Driscoll on the other.
So, things are a little more complicated than Rick's comment makes things out to be. Not that I'm picking on Rick. His comment generally summarized what had been the tenor of online discussion up to that point. But that's because I wasn't saying anything, and perhaps a lot of other people who aren't Calvinists but aren't opposed to Dr. Allen's candidacy likewise weren't saying anything. I've decided to speak up, not to strike a blow against Peter, who is my brother and stood up for me in a difficult hour once upon a time, but just because Rick's comment made it clear to me that the discussion had come to speak for me in a context in which I'd rather speak for myself.
Whatever happens in Kansas City, I'll be praying for Midwestern and for Dr. Allen. May God lead the seminary there to carry forward the gospel into new work states where it is increasingly needed!