Are Reformed Baptists the Same as Primitive Baptists?


On this week's episode of Conversations with a Calvinist, we go again to the mailbag and answer some questions from viewers just like you. Here are the timestamps for each question we address this week. 01:50 Are Reformed Baptists the same as Primitive Baptists? 22:00 Can a Church be too small? 31:05 ***SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT*** 33:17 What to I do with heretical books? 38:29 Should I go into debt for seminary? I mentioned a previous podcast about whether seminary is necessary for being a pastor. The link for that show is here: If you like the show, please hit the thumbs up button and subscribe to the channel. If you have questions, send them to [email protected]


Today we're going to be answering some listener questions, including what's the difference between a Reformed Baptist and a
Primitive Baptist. So stay tuned. Conversations with a Calvinist begins right now. Welcome back to Conversations with a
Calvinist. My name is Keith Boske, and I am a Calvinist. Today, on this rainy afternoon, we're going to be answering some viewer questions, as I said in the intro.
And I want to begin by saying thank you to everyone who's been sending me emails, and I want everyone to know that I appreciate it, and I'm doing my best to answer them as much as I can, but the more
I get, the more it's going to be for me to be able to get through them all. So just keep sending them in.
I will do as many as I can on the show, and I think this has become a pretty good format of just answering viewer questions.
I'm still going to be doing interviews. I'm still going to be doing bowtie dialogues, but today I'm going to be answering four different questions.
We're going to be talking about Reformed Baptists and Primitive Baptists and what is the difference. We're going to be talking about what happens when a church is in decline and it gets really, really small.
Is there ever a time when a church is too small? We're going to be answering the question, what do we do with questionable material?
Somebody gives us a book that is from a person that we don't want to read or maybe a heretic or something.
What do we do with questionable material that's given to us? And a big, huge question we're going to end today with is, should
I go into debt for ministry? These are all questions I received through email, and again, I want to thank you all for sending in these emails.
So let's kick it off right away with the question about Reformed Baptists and Primitive Baptists.
This came to me from a listener named Ian, and he simply asked, what are the notable differences?
And he pointed out the fact that there are a lot of similarities in regard to certain beliefs, and specifically things like predestination and election.
And he said, so if those things are similar, what are the differences? And I do want to point out from the get -go that my experience with Primitive Baptists is small, but I have had some experiences with them, and I'm going to bring that up later.
But I also want to say this. It's almost impossible to say, all Primitive Baptists believe
X, because there isn't a unifying body. Even though Primitive Baptists are unified by their name, there isn't a structure or a system where you would say, all believe this.
So I may say some things, and some Primitive Baptists who watch this may say, well, I don't believe that.
Well, I'm going off of experience and what's on the internet and things that are available, and I will cite some sources as I go.
But just to point out the fact that there is a reality where, like with any Baptist church—I mean, honestly, if you were to go to a
Southern Baptist church in Jacksonville and another Southern Baptist church in Jacksonville, you might get two churches that are very different in some of the things that they believe.
You might get one that's more what we call Baptocostal, where they're a little more charismatic leaning, and you may get one that's a little more traditional, or one that's a little more contemporary.
So there's going to be some differences, but within Southern Baptist churches, there are going to be some things that are pretty unified, and the same goes for Primitive Baptist churches.
So I'll be as fair as I can and be as honest as I can when it comes to the Primitive Baptist church in regard to how it's different from the
Reformed Baptist church. Right away, I want to say this. Reformed Baptist, even that term, is somewhat of a more modern term.
It's a 20th century moniker that really is not something that we find historically.
Historically, we would find terms like Particular Baptist or Regular Baptist, and even then, the term
Baptist is only a few hundred years old, coming out of the 17th century use of the term for those who believe in a credo baptism, or a baptism of believers only.
So even the use of the term Baptist is fairly new. And from what
I understand about the use of the term Primitive Baptist, is the argument is that they are saying they're the original, or the oldest, or the ones that go back to the beginning.
Some even claim to go back all the way to the time of Christ. And of course, that's a theology that says there's always been
Baptists, there have always been those who have held to these core tenets of belief, and that they are in the line of those.
In fact, that may be the first thing to mention. Primitive Baptists will often claim they are not
Protestant. They will say they weren't part of the Reformation because they were never part of the Catholic Church, that they have always been outside of the mainstream, and so they would align themselves outside of that mainstream church.
So they would say they're not part of the Protestant movement, therefore they're not Protestants.
But historically, there's some argument can be made that they actually were divided off of the
Missionary Baptist Church, when the question of missions came up and the question of whether or not missionaries should be sent overseas and things like that, that that was where there was this major division.
And so historically, there's some questions and arguments there. But the real issue is the issue of what is believed.
And there is a belief in Primitive Baptist churches—they're also called hardshell, sometimes hardshell
Baptists, there's some other terms that are used, I can't think of them right off the top of my head right now—but other terms that are used for the
Primitive Baptists. And what's often associated with them most is a belief, a strong belief, in predestination.
And then that goes to the point of the question of whether or not the gospel is necessary for the salvation of a believer—or rather, excuse me, back up—whether the gospel is necessary for the salvation of an individual, because God is going to save the people he chooses, and he's going to save the people that he chooses by grace and independent of any action or response on their part.
Therefore, a person does not have to hear the gospel, a person does not have to respond to the gospel, because God has already elected before time people from every tribe, tongue, and nation.
Therefore, the hearing and responding to the gospel is not essential to a person's ultimate salvation, to their eternal salvation.
Their eternal salvation is independent of whether or not they hear and believe the gospel.
And again, this is not something that I'm making up or something that I'm claiming out of nowhere.
These are stated in some of their documents. In fact, I want to, very briefly, I want to jump over to a website.
There's a couple of different websites. There is PrimitiveBaptist .net, and there is
OhioPrimitiveBaptist .org. And so these are just some documents from these churches, and one of the documents
I'm looking at is called Ten Reasons Primitive Baptists Are Not Calvinists. So right away, when you ask what's the difference between Reformed Baptists and Primitive Baptists, well,
Primitive Baptists say they're not Calvinist. Again, they say they're not Protestant, and they believe different things than what the
Protestants believe. And one of the things that they disagree with is the phrase, the sola of what we call sola fide.
And this is directly quoted from their website. They say, Calvinism's primary slogan is sola fide, faith alone.
The doctrine of justification by faith alone is the bedrock of Reformed theology. By that phrase, they mean that sinners are justified in the sight of God only by the act of believing the gospel, not by their works.
Primitive Baptists believe that Scripture teaches that the subject of justification has various phases by grace, by blood, by faith, by works, some of which do not have eternal implications.
Hence, the word alone is misleading. If we were forced to employ the word alone, we would rather speak of justification by grace alone or justification by blood alone.
We believe that the Calvinist errors by assuming the noun faith always means the act of believing the gospel.
Further, we interpret justification by faith in terms of the assurance of salvation, not the application of redemption.
So again, they're saying in that that the act of believing the gospel is not essential to salvation.
The act of believing the gospel is faith, but it's not an essential to salvation, because salvation is something that is determined by God, and it is not limited only to those who exercise faith in the
Lord Jesus Christ. And so that is a—that's a pretty big deal, because this comes to the heart of the question of whether or not people need to hear the gospel.
Do people need to hear the gospel to be saved? Calvinists, like me, would say yes, that a person needs to hear the gospel to be saved, and a person needs to respond to the gospel to be saved.
And we would base this upon several passages of Scripture. How will they hear without someone preaching, and how will they believe unless someone preaches to them?
You know, Romans chapter 10. We would look at those passages and we would say a person can't believe if they don't hear, and a person can't hear if someone's not sent, and so we would be actively involved in taking the gospel to unbelievers.
In fact, many of the open -air preachers that I know, many of the people that are art at track distributors that I know, many of the missionaries that I know are
Calvinistic in their belief. They believe God has predestined those who will believe, but that He has not predestined them apart from the use of means.
And the means are the preaching of the gospel, and that the person receiving and hearing the gospel, upon being regenerated by the
Holy Spirit, actually believes that gospel, and that is the means by which they receive the gift of eternal life.
It is by grace alone, through faith alone. And so where this works out practically really is on the issue of the subject of missions and evangelism.
And this brings to my personal story. As I said, I have a personal story that goes along with this.
Several years ago, I was doing evangelism at the Callahan Fair. We, over the years, have done that many times.
We set up a booth, we give out thousands and thousands of handwritten—or not handwritten, but printed—tracks, and we have dozens of great conversations over the 10 -day period of the
Northeast Florida Fair. And we look forward to that because it's an opportunity to share the gospel with people, trusting that God's elect are out there, and trusting that we are going to go, and we are going to be used of God as a means by which these people will hear, and God, by His grace, will draw them to Himself through the means of the preaching of the gospel.
Well, I'm there, I'm preaching—or not preaching, I'm handing out gospel tracks,
I'm having conversations, and along comes a man who stands beside me, and he begins to talk to me—very nice guy, not mean or ugly or anything.
And in the midst of the conversation, he says, why are you doing this? And I said, what do you mean?
He says, well, why are you handing out these tracks? Why are you having these conversations? And I said, well,
I believe that the gospel is the means that God uses to draw His people to Himself, so I want to be used of God as part of that process, and so I'm here to do that.
And he said, he looked out—I don't remember if it was a person walking by—he said, if God wants to save that person, if God has determined to save that person,
He's going to do it with or without you. I mean, this was very—he was very confident. And I thought for a second,
I said, so you don't believe that it's necessary to go and proclaim the gospel for people to be saved?
And he said, no, God is going to save them whether or not you preach to them.
God is going to save them independent of that. And I said, so you don't believe that means are a necessary part of the end that God has predetermined?
And he essentially said, no. He said, a person doesn't have to hear, doesn't have to believe, if they're elect, they're elect, and if they're not elect, they're not elect.
And so that was, again, an—he didn't say he was primitive Baptist, so I have to be clear here,
I'm only basing this upon what I understand about primitive Baptists, and again, if you want to excoriate me in the comments, say maybe he wasn't, okay.
But the idea of the predestination being something that's independent of the gospel, independent of the preaching of the gospel, is something that is very, very difficult for me to understand, but it is something that is obviously a part of what is taught.
In fact, if you go to primitivebaptist .net, it says, the web's most comprehensive resource for information and articles on the ancient and current doctrines, practice, and history of the primitive
Baptist. The next line, it says, the gospel has no role in eternal life.
And then there's a video right below it. Now, the video is produced by a young man who does doctrinal or denominational historical videos, it's an interesting video.
But if you go, again, primitivebaptist .net, go to just the front page, and the first thing that comes up, it's got some links at the top, and then right below it, it says, the gospel has no role in eternal life.
And if you listen to it and you understand what it's saying, it's saying that eternal life is not based on someone hearing, repenting, and believing the gospel.
Eternal life is based solely upon God electing and choosing a person, and it's not about the means that God uses to draw that person to himself.
So that's a major difference, because in Reformed Baptist theology, which is
Calvinistic Baptist theology, some people don't like the word Reformed, it doesn't matter to me anymore,
I don't even really use it much, I'm Calvinist, and I use the term Calvinist, but the
Calvinistic perspective is different. We do believe that means are part of the ends of bringing a person to salvation.
So this brings up another sort of side note, and that's the question of something called hyper -Calvinism.
I jokingly call it caffeinated Calvinism. But hyper -Calvinism is often applied to the primitive
Baptists. They'll say, primitive Baptists are hyper -Calvinists. That's not necessarily correct, because even though we could say this is a,
I would say, a wrong understanding of predestination and election, meaning it's done apart from means, that's one form of what is sometimes referred to as hyper -Calvinism.
But there's other forms of hyper -Calvinism, and again, the primitive Baptists would say they're not Calvinistic. They argue they're not, and I'm not going to have that battle, that's not a fight
I care to win. But hyper -Calvinism, and I want to mention my friend
Jay Antelow, who just today actually posted this on his page on Facebook, hyper -Calvinism has typically had two definitions.
The most common being a hyper -Calvinist is a person who does not believe in the necessity of evangelism, that God's going to save who
He's going to save. That sounds like the primitive Baptists, or some would say, well, that's how we apply hyper -Calvinism to them.
But there are also those who would say, unless you believe in Calvinism, you can't be saved, and that's another form of hyper -Calvinism.
And both of those, I would say, are wrong. Both of those are an incorrect application of Calvinistic teachings and Calvinistic doctrine.
So again, when it comes to the question of what's the difference between a Reformed Baptist and a Primitive Baptist, there's going to be some things that are very similar in regard to—we probably use a lot of the same verses in talking about predestination and election—the question is not whether or not
God predestines, the question seems to be the issue of the methodology. What method does
God use in bringing about the salvation of people from every tribe, tongue, and nation? Is it simply that God elects those people, they don't even know that they're saved until they die, and they end up in heaven?
Oh, how did I get here? Or is it that God sends His people out, and His people go, and His people preach the gospel, and His people hear the gospel, and because they are, in fact,
His people, they respond willingly, and they respond positively to the preaching of the gospel.
And that would be the view that we would say. We would say it does not happen apart from the means of the preaching of the
Word and the proclamation of the gospel. In fact, on somewhat of a side note, I want to throw an additional thought onto this.
Recently—and this has been several months ago now—there was somewhat of an argument going on between myself and a few people online regarding those who don't hold to Reformed theology, those who don't hold to Calvinism, about whether or not someone has to hear the gospel to be saved.
And there were some who were from a different perspective, not a Calvinistic perspective, saying, no, you don't have to hear the gospel, because as long as people recognize
God in nature, they can, based on the light they're given, they can respond to that, respond to God, and they used
Romans 1 as their reasoning and said they can respond to that and be saved. And historically, that has not been the
Calvinist position either. We have said, no, that nature provides enough revelation—general revelation—for a person to recognize that they are lost, but it does not provide enough revelation for a person to be saved.
Salvation—revelation about salvation—is special revelation, and it comes through the preaching of the Word. And so again, the big, major thing is the preaching of the gospel, the going out, the work of missions and the work of evangelism, and this is something that, again, all of the
Reformed Baptists that I know are passionate about taking the gospel to the lost, because we believe that God's elect are in every tribe, tongue, and nation, and so we send missionaries, we take out gospel tracts, just in a few weeks we're going to be actually—we're going to be in a parade, our
Church is going to be in a parade, and we are hoping to hand out no less than 2 ,000 gospel tracts in one one -hour parade route as people line the streets to see this parade.
We believe in the urgency of evangelism and going and preaching the gospel.
Now, one other thing the man asked in the email, he said he was in a Progressive Primitive Baptist, which is a thing, and from what
I understand, Progressive Primitive Baptists hold to the allowance of things like Sunday School and musical instruments and worship, which are not allowed in the traditional
Primitive Baptist churches, which don't allow musical instruments, and most do not have Sunday School. So if you're asking what some of the differences—the person who sent the email, which was
Ian—if you're asking some of the differences there, that's going to be at least one of them. When you say
Progressive, well, what does that mean? It can mean a lot of things, but in this instance, it's essentially bringing in things that weren't a part of the
Primitive Baptist Church until more recently. So I hope that it's helpful in regard to the difference between Reformed Baptists and Primitive Baptists.
Okay, moving on to the next question. This question comes in an email from William. Now William sent me a rather long email, and I appreciate what you wrote,
William, and I appreciate the nice things that you said, but I'm not going to read the whole email because it is rather long. I want to just deal with particularly the questions that you asked in regard to your church being too small.
And the question essentially was, can a church get too small? He said his church had declined from around 100 to now only about 15 to 20 people in attendance.
Said they don't have a current pastor. Apparently they had a pastor for a long time, but he has resigned or stepped down because of health issues.
And based on what I read, I don't think he said they had any deacons either. So the church is small, and it is apparently in decline.
He said they had some people who were rotating through the preaching responsibility, so they're still having worship.
Can a church be too small? This is actually a very, very good question, and obviously everything
I'm going to say is going to be my opinion. But there are some biblical principles that I'm going to try to point out.
The first thing is that the issue of what's small in one place may be not too small in another place.
I have friends in other countries who are struggling to plant churches, and they would be tickled pink if they had 15 or 20 people on a
Sunday morning. Sometimes it's just two families meeting in a house, and that's the only believers for dozens of miles, if not hundreds of miles, in that particular area.
And so right away, we have to look at this from the perspective of our experience.
Our experience at 15 or 20 is a smaller church. The average church size, from what
I understand, the average church size in America is under 100. It's, you know, the 80 to 100 mark is the average size.
Once you get past that 100 mark and you start seeing 200, 250, you start getting to be a bit bigger church, then 500, 1 ,000, then you start really seeing some sizable change in the way ministry is structured, because once you get that many people, you really have to think things start to change as how ministry functions, because now, you know, that's just a lot of folks to manage.
And so smaller churches are not bad, but we have to ask the question, is it a church?
Now, you're meeting in a building, okay? That doesn't necessarily mean that you're a church.
A church has a structure, and the biblical structure of the church—I talk about this in my book,
Biblically Functioning Church—the biblical structure of the church is that Christ is the head, there are elders who are preaching and teaching, who are leading, there are deacons who are serving, and there's a body who is being trained to minister within itself.
Now, that doesn't mean if a church is between pastors, it's not a church, or if a church doesn't have any deacons, it's not a church. But in reality, that structure should be in place, or that structure should be the goal if it's not in place, because if there is no structure to the church, it's not functioning in the way that God has designed.
God has designed a biblically functioning church to work in a certain way, and that doesn't mean the pastor has to necessarily be a paid minister.
Churches function just fine with bivocational ministers, or even lay ministers who don't have a role of being paid in the church.
But there needs to be godly men who are tested by Scripture, who are examined by the requirements of 1
Timothy 3, Titus 1, and they are examined and ordained to the position of elder.
And there should be, as I believe, more than one, there should be a plurality of elders. But if that is not in place, if those things are not in place, then that should be the goal.
And you may say, well, we don't have enough people for that to be. Well, then you have to step back and say, okay, what are some things that we can do?
One of the things that I have found has been somewhat useful for certain churches that are experiencing a similar situation is to try to find other smaller churches that are also maybe struggling with decline, to try to merge together, and to try to find where there might be some unity, and bring together two like -minded bodies to increase the amount of people, therefore the amount of qualified men for service and positions of elders and deacons, that you might be able to draw from.
That may not be an option for you, William, but that's one of the ways that I've seen other churches do it that has functioned very well.
Will there come a time where it may be that the Church can't continue to be whatever the
Church is now? You mentioned there were some—I didn't want to read the whole email, but you mentioned the email—there are some financial obligations that the
Church eventually won't be able to meet,
I think is the way you said it. And again, I'm not looking directly at the email now, but you said eventually there may be some financial obligations that you wouldn't be able to meet, which means there's probably—you're probably referring to a building.
If there's financial obligations and there's no pastor that's receiving a salary or anything like that, unless there's some kind of debt that the
Church has, and usually debt with the Church regards a building, then that may not be the case.
That may come an issue at a certain point. That may be an issue if you can't meet the financial obligations of the
Church that the Church would have to dissolve. And it's sad when that happens, but we have actually inherited over the years a few churches that that has happened to.
Sovereign Grace has had at least three churches that I can think of that were in our area.
One, I remember very specifically, because the Church had aged quite a bit and had not seen growth in the younger ages, and so as the congregation members began to age and began to pass away or move into assisted living, things like that, and they were no longer participating in the body, the
Church began to be so small that they had a building, but they didn't have the people.
So what they did was they rented their building out to another Church that used it, and they used it—they basically both were meeting in the same place, but just at different times.
So you had this very small Church that owned the building, they met, and then you had a bigger
Church that met at a different time, simply to keep the Church building and all the needs met.
But what eventually happened was that smaller Church, because it wasn't growing, because it wasn't adding, began to finally just close, and what they did was the people that were there, the few people that were left, they sought us out because we were similar in doctrine, and they wanted to be in a place that was teaching similar, so they came to us, and the other bigger group that was meeting there actually bought their building.
So it all worked out for them. And William, that may be what happens.
I can certainly pray for you guys that God will give you wisdom, that God will bring you people, that God will provide for you as He wills, but there are seasons.
Everything has a season, as Scripture says, and sometimes there are seasons where churches do eventually dissolve.
And if that is the direction God is leading or moving for the
Church that you're in, my prayer will be that you will be able to, in the midst of that, be a voice of reason among the other
Church members, to be a godly man among those people and your family, not to be angry or upset, but to trust the
Lord, and if God moves you somewhere else to be a faithful Church member there, or if God adds to your number where you are, that God will continue to grow it.
Again, I can't give you a number and say, once you hit this number, you're done, because there's no magic number.
But if there's no structure, then that should be the If the goal is for the Church to continue, then there needs to be at least some elders who are ordained and leading the body.
Don't have to be paid men, but they have to be biblically qualified men. So I hope that's helpful.
So before we move to the next question, I want to make an announcement. Last week on the program,
I asked the question about the name of the show, and I was thinking about the possibility of changing the name, and I want to right away thank the many of you who left comments, and some of you were positive for a name change, some of you were negative, saying you wanted the name to stay the same, and I want you to know
I read every comment, some of you I responded to, I appreciate every thought that was given, and a lot of thought on my end, and prayer on my end, and conversations with my wife, has led me to what
I think is a really good conclusion. I don't want to lose the title Calvinist in the show, because I think it does clearly identify the fact that that's who
I am, and that's what I teach, and that's what I believe, and I think that's helpful. But Conversations with a
Calvinist is a longer name, and I do want to include my name so that people know that this is the show that I'm leading, and so that people who know me by my name from other videos are able to find the show easily.
So here was what we have come up with as the show name that we're going to be transitioning to in the weeks ahead, hopefully by the end of the year.
Your Calvinist Podcast with Keith Foskey. I have been signing off for the past three years or more.
I'm Keith Foskey, and I'm Your Calvinist. That's my name on Twitter. My wife bought me this shirt for Christmas last year.
This is my Twitter shirt. I wear it a lot. It's the atyourcalvinist on Twitter. So we thought this was a good name.
We thought this was something that would still stay connected. We're still going to be calvinistpodcast .com, which is our web address.
It's still going to be calvinistpodcast at gmail .com for people who send emails. So it's not going to be a huge change, but we're going to be simply going with Your Calvinist Podcast.
The name's going to change soon. And again, I want to thank everyone who gave their opinions and their thoughts.
I want you to know I thought about everything that you said. I appreciate it, and God bless you for participating in the show, and know that I'm thankful for everybody who gave me their opinion.
So God bless you. All right, everyone, back to the emails. Now we're going to be reading an email from Caroline, who's asking a question about questionable reading materials.
She said recently a friend had sent her a devotional book from a author that she doesn't want to read.
I'm not going to mention the name of the author. She says she has no desire to read it. What should she do?
She doesn't want to give it away, because she doesn't think that it's solid biblical literature. But at the same time, she doesn't want it to be on her shelf, because she doesn't want to look at it and dust it all the time.
She even made a joke about, should she put it in an old butter container and throw it in her fridge? And I thought that was funny.
She said that would be the Southern thing to do. And that's pretty funny, and she asked my advice.
So here it is. And this actually comes with a pretty funny story. Over the years,
I have collected quite a library of questionable and heretical material from things that people have either given me or books that I have purchased because I needed them for research.
So on my shelf at the church, where my library is, I have an entire shelf that is nothing but questionable or heretical material.
I have Dianetics, which is from Scientology. I have the
Da Vinci Code, which came out a few years ago, which was questioning the authenticity of the writings of the
Gospels and the New Testament writings. And a lot of different books are on that shelf.
And so I have that section, and I know what it is.
I keep those books. Like you said, I don't want to give them to Goodwill, and I don't want to necessarily throw them out, because I may use them one day, even for research or whatever.
So I do have a place on my shelf for books that are not intended necessarily to be enjoyed or read, but are really just examples of heretical literature.
And I said I had a funny story. Here's the funny story. My bookshelves used to be in a
Sunday school class. I didn't have them in my office. Kind of a long story about why that was, but my bookshelves were in a
Sunday school class, so I would have to go into the Sunday school class to get my books. Well, that Sunday school class was being visited one evening by a local—or we had a group in our church called
American Heritage Girls. It was like a girl scouting program. And the parents who were visiting that night were all gathering in that Sunday school class, and one of the fathers was sitting right next to my shelf that had the questionable material, that had all the heretical stuff.
And he asked his wife, who's friends with my wife, who is this guy? Is he crazy? What has he got all these crazy books for?
And it was so funny, because he and I became the best of friends, and we're great friends to this day.
But that introduction to our church for him was kind of scary, because he saw that bookshelf and it was like, oh my goodness, okay, this guy is crazy.
So yeah, keeping books on your shelf that are questionable may cause some consternation with some folks, but I have a suitable workaround, and this is helpful.
A friend of mine—not him, but another friend, actually a fellow pastor—gave me a stamp. And the stamp, it's meant to be humorous, but the stamp says, this is heretical nonsense, please beware, or something like that.
It's at my desk at the church. I don't have it here at the house. But basically what I do is
I stamp those books now with a stamp at the front, so that if for whatever reason, if it does get away from me, if I ended up accidentally donating it or somebody took it off my shelf to look at it or whatever, the first thing they're going to see when they open it is that this is heretical nonsense, beware.
And so that's something to consider. I don't know if you want to invest in a stamp, but you might put a sticker on it or something.
If you do decide that you're going to put it on your shelf, just a little reminder, this isn't something you're using for your own personal study, but this was a gift given to you, and so you're not going to throw it away.
So that's one of the recommendations. But keep in mind, books aren't sacred, so if you did throw it away after keeping it for whatever the southern rule of time is, keeping something before you toss it out, keep it for as long as you want and then toss it.
There's no sin in throwing books away. But one last thing, and this is before I sign off of this question.
If this person gave you this book from this author, might be an open door to have a conversation with that person about why they think this was a good book, and maybe to have an in -depth conversation about how they understand the gospel.
So it may be God opening up a door for you. So think about that when you're deciding what you're going to do.
So I hope that was helpful. All right, our last email for today comes from Will.
He says, I'm a huge fan. Thank you, Will. He says, Thank you for all that you do. You're doing amazing work online and in your community, and I'm a high school senior who feels called to go into ministry.
Well, praise God for that. He then says, specifically the PCUSA, he says he's one of Redeemed Zoomers Reconquista, and I'm not a lib, which that was good to hear.
He says, I have a lot to do when it comes to education. I really want to go to Covenant College, however, it's expensive.
I'm signing up for every scholarship I can, but I know I'll have debt after undergraduate. Do you think having more debt is worth it?
I feel I would get a better education experience, and it supports good institutions, but since I could get into any seminary with any bachelor's degree for the most part, do you think it's better to go cheaper?
Thank you for your time, and I hope this makes sense. Well, yeah, it does make sense, and you're asking an important question, and that is the question of, is it right to go into debt for ministerial training?
That is a huge moral question, and I'm not...I could point you to Dave Ramsey and his thoughts on going into debt, but don't want to necessarily go down that road.
I want to talk more about your call to ministry. You said you feel like God is calling you into ministry.
A question I often ask young men who tell me that is, is this calling to ministry being affirmed in your church, and is it being affirmed by those around you who know your walk with the
Lord? And if your church is affirming you in this call, is your church willing to help support you in this endeavor?
It's not always possible that a church is able to do that. Some churches don't have the means to provide a lot of financial assistance.
My church was able to help me go to seminary, but I went to a very inexpensive seminary.
I went to a...I've often joked about my seminary experience being more like pastoral trade school.
It was still great. I loved the men who taught me, and I loved the men who poured their lives in and invested them into me.
But at the same time, I didn't have to go into debt to go to school, and so I was grateful for that.
So the question of whether or not you should go into debt, immediately my question is regarding your calling and regarding how...who's
affirming you in this, and if your church is affirming you in this, are they willing to affirm you with any form of support?
And also, if you are desiring a particular denominational affiliation, which you have noted that you desire to try to, as Radim Zuma is trying to work towards this, you know, winning back of these liberal denominations, and if your desire is to go into that denomination, there may be requirements.
A seminary like the one I attended may not qualify for what you're doing. You may have to go to the seminary that they require, and therefore it may take more of a financial investment from you.
But that is...this is a very difficult question, Will, because I am really...I
don't like the idea of going into debt for education, specifically ministerial education.
I think there's sometimes where...there may be some times where it could possibly be necessary, but everything that you can do to try to avoid that debt, whether it is, you mentioned scholarships, whether it is the support of your church, whether it is waiting a few years and saving the money to be able to go, and while waiting those few years, serving in your local church, serving the body of Christ without the title of minister, demonstrating yourself as being a man who wants to serve the
Church, who desires to serve the know, again, not that my experience is in any way exemplary, but I served the
Church for all the years that I was in seminary. They were helping me go to seminary, but I wasn't being paid, but I was still serving in the body as a youth minister, as an associate pastor, well before I was ever paid as a staff member of the
Church as I am now. So if it takes time, and it takes savings, and it takes seeking out things, my recommendation would be to do as much as you can to avoid the debt.
And let me just add this too. You mentioned here, and you said, is having more debt worth getting the better education experience and supporting good institutions?
Personally, I would say no, but again,
I'm giving you my opinion, so my opinion is just mine. But there's a lot of wonderful teachers and a lot of wonderful instruction going on at smaller institutions, and at places that don't have as much notoriety or as well -known.
As long as the institution qualifies for what you're wanting to do, as long as the institution does meet whatever the requirements are for the ordination that you're seeking,
I would not worry too much about the prestigious name of the institution.
Now does that mean at some point you may be, somebody may look down on you because of the school that you attended?
Possibly. I've had it happen to me a bunch. I remember very, very well going to a,
I was participating in a funeral for a minister who had passed away, and I was one of several ministers who was going to speak at the funeral of this man who passed.
And before the funeral, the ministers who were going to speak all met together in a side room simply to discuss who was going to go first and what the order of the service was going to be and what each of us were, you know, so we didn't all say the same thing.
We kind of agreed on what, who was going to speak about what aspects of ministry and life and the gospel.
Well, when I went into the room, one of the men who was there who had a fine education, he was very well educated, and he also had a, his degree was from a prestigious institution.
And he shook my hand. Hi, how you doing? I've heard of you. I said, well, thank you. I've heard of you before. We kind of just exchanged pleasantries at the beginning.
And then he said, so where'd you go to school? And I said,
Jacksonville Baptist Theological Seminary. And he looked at me, and he goes, oh, he literally did an about -face, turned around, walked away, and he didn't talk to me again for the whole time.
Well, I don't think we ever spoke again. It was like, you don't really deserve to talk to me.
And that was the way he made me feel. Now, maybe, maybe I'm misreading it, but it just so happened that when
I mentioned where I went to school, he seemed to lose all respect. Okay, whatever.
That's his way. That was his decision. So there are going to be times where where you go to school, and what letter you have on your sweater, or whatever, is going to matter to some people.
But where it counts is your education. Where are you going to get a great education?
And right now, there are some really fantastic seminaries out there that aren't even accredited, because they haven't sought accreditation, but are still wonderful seminaries.
I've interviewed some men on this show who—I interviewed one specifically who was a dean at a seminary that is just a great institution.
They're doing some wonderful things. And so, again, the question comes back to what is going to be the requirement of the—if you're seeking the
PCUSA, if you're seeking that out, there's going to be some requirements. You've got to find out what those are.
But I would certainly recommend that you avoid as much as possible getting yourself into debt.
It can be crippling, it's unwise from a biblical perspective. I think we certainly have the principle of the debtor being the slave to the lender.
So just be careful, Will, for real. And be wise as you're going into this.
Seek the advice of godly men who you trust, and seek out those who would help point you in good directions.
But I will certainly pray that god will give you wisdom in this, because I know how dangerous it can be to get into crippling debt.
So be careful. I want to add one last thought to the question that Will just asked about seminary and debt.
A few years ago, I did do a podcast about whether or not a pastor should have to go to seminary, and whether or not seminary is required for the ministry.
And I'm not going to get into that on this show, but I am going to link that show in the description.
If that's a question that you have or something that you're interested in, I recommend going back and watching that show. I think it would be really helpful.
Guys, that's it for this episode of Conversations with a Calvinist. I hope that the way that I've answered these questions has been helpful, and I hope this has been an interest to you, and it's been helpful for more than just the people who ask the questions.
I want to remind you that if you have a question that you would like me to answer, you can send it in to calvinispodcast at gmail .com.
You can find all of our videos, including our funny denominational videos, along with our podcast and other things, on calvinispodcast .com.
And be watching out for when the new transition comes, when we move from Conversations with a Calvinist to simply your
Calvinist podcast with Keith Foskey. And I want to thank you again for listening to Conversations with a Calvinist.