Thursday, July 30, 2009

The Reformed Comedy Hour Presents Dr. Dan Sweatt

I may be the first - or the three-hundredth - person to react to this sermon by Dr. Dan Sweatt of Berean Baptist Church which was preached back in April of this year. I'm always the last draw at the gunfight, it seems. Either way, please forgive the insensitive title and the excessive polemics. I rarely indulge myself like this. And besides; I'm almost certain Dr. Sweatt will never read this because he doesn't strike me as the kind of man who reads things from the people he rails against.

[Another disclaimer: I am well aware that this is all old hat. I've heard these things all my life. I started saying half of it when I first came out of my mother's womb, before I learned how to read the Bible. I've heard it from family, from teachers at school, and from people who don't understand what Calvinists believe. So why bother giving Sweatt any attention at all? Mainly, because I just want everyone who is interested to see that this sort of error still floats around out there, even after all these years and Time magazine cover stories and such, the people who hate us still refuse to hear us.]

I want to address in broad terms the real issue Sweatt is dealing with in this sermon. He's concerned, because he's just read the book Young, Restless, and Reformed and he thinks all the young fundamentalists are leaving their churches and becoming Piper-ites. He thinks that the colleges are all going to get closed down and the windows are going to be boarded up [13:37; 16:41]. He thinks that everyone's going to abandon inerrancy for a new church order with John Piper at the top as the protestant pope who interprets Scripture for all these poor Calvin-worshippers who don't know how to read the Bible for themselves [32:45] (then why didn't they just stay Arminians!? Ha ha ha!)

But as I was working today and listening to Sweatt's sermon, I was struck by a few horrifying things which I am literally unable to go without commenting on.
[32:00] What is the most familiar New Testament verse that every child in Sunday School learns? John 3:16...For God so loved the cosmos. [In a mimicking tone] 'Well it doesn't really mean that. You know, He only loves the elect. He doesn't love everybody.' That whosoever believeth... 'Well it doesn't really mean whosoever. You gotta understand. It doesn't really mean that.' We tell our people, "Read the Bible. Study the Bible. Trust the Bible." And then we tell them that it doesn't say what it means!
Other than the fact that that last sentence was nonsense... I'm sorry, Dr. Sweatt, but does part of being a fundamentalist mean that you don't actually listen to the people you decide to straw-man? For most of the fundamentalists I know, it does. Is there any Calvinist reading this blog who would interrupt someone reading the direct text of John 3:16 and say, "It doesn't really mean that!"? I mean, come on! John 3:16 literally reads, "God so loved the entire created order that the believing ones would not perish but have everlasting life." In the original text, the word "whosoever" is totally absent. I love this verse, and so do all the Calvinists I know. Not only for its simple truths, but because it teaches specifically Reformed things like particular redemption (notice that according to this verse the benefits of Christ's death accrue only to those who believe). Lets move on to even more outrageous caricatures.
[35:22] Who was Charles Spurgeon's successor at London Tabernacle? [A: Rev. Dr. Arthur T. Pierson] You don't know, do you? Who succeeded Calvin at Geneva? [A: Theodore Beza] Who succeeded John Knox in Scotland? [A: Lawson of Aberdeen]...Now let me show you something. Calvinism has never in the history of the world - the history of Christianity - survived the generation of charismatic leaders. It's never happened. When Spurgeon died...50 years after Spurgeon was dead, the Baptist movement in England was also dead...The point is, who succeeded Martin Luther!? [A: Johann the Constant] ... Every single time in history, these charismatic leaders come to the fore... and when they die, the movement dies. And here's the reason; this is important. The theology will not support church growth and evangelism. It will not do it. If you believe the doctrine, if you believe the theology, you will not win souls!...Find me in history any exception. It never has.
Either this man is a liar, or he is totally ignorant. Well, or he's bad at logic. Or all of the above. Or this is all one very long, sophisticated, and highly ironic piece of first-rate performance art. First of all, the very first protestant missionaries were Calvinists from Geneva! Second of all, Spurgeon left the Baptists due to the downgrade controversy. It was Spurgeon's belief that the compromises leading to the downgrade controversy are what were leading to Baptist declines in England. Thirdly, Calvin is a terrible example, because his successor, Beza was a highly influential theologian and is still read by many today. Simply because Dr. Sweatt doesn't know who Beza is (or doesn't think his audience knows) doesn't prove anything. The same follows with Sweatt's analysis of Knox and Luther. I just wanted to print Sweatt's ignorant and illogical statements so the world (or at least thinking Reformed people) could see the kind of butchered logic and ridiculous truth stretching this man has to use in order to argue against Calvinism.

The only time in this man's entire hour-long self-indulgent diatribe where he even uses the Bible to deal with Calvinism is when he quotes his trusty old friend, John 3:16. He talks about himself and how awesome it is to be him [22:30; 24:15] far more than he even bothers dealing with Calvinists in Scriptural terms.

Some more brilliant nuggets: "[10:45] Today, academic discussion is the reason to be. We gather in great groups to discuss theology. We used to gather in great groups to plan our strategy for reaching the lost." Since he's so obsessed with Piper after reading Hansen's here to see all the resources at Piper's website dealing with evangelism.

"These young men...have run right past a Biblical position... and into the arms of John Piper." Again, the quotes just get better.

More could be said, but it's bedtime. Enjoy the sermon, everyone. You'll howl in pain and laughter; often at the same time.


  1. I can't say I enjoyed it, but I did listen to it a while ago. It's rather sad. I would also add how amazed I was at even William Lane Craig's ignorance of Calvinism. Take a look at James White's podcast and blog archive to see how poorly Craig sunderstands Calvinism as well. Perhaps he and Sweatt could put a conference together.

  2. Thanks for critiquing this one. I have not yet heard this dodgy message, but He has raised a valid point about the 'cult of pastor.'

    Even Piper, Sproul, etc. as biblically faithful as they are, must not be our focus and we must not take every word in thoughtlessley and prayerlessly.

  3. I feel your pain Adam and grew up listening to preachers like that. Logic is a foreign idea to him. He is scared of the idea that anyone could be a Calvinist because to him it is unbiblical. It's sad that he isn't mature enough as a Christian to actually study what someone believes before trying to tear it down in the pulpit of the Lord.

    Sometimes you answer a fool according to his folly and other times you drink wine, so here is a wine review I wrote because in the end it’s better to look to the good things that God has given us then to let someone with a four-year-olds understanding of doctrine get under your skin.

    What a glorious thing it is to serve a loving and gracious God. He gives us good food and good drink so we might have a taste of our glorious rest now. Let me commend to you Archeo’s nero D’Avola as an excellent wine. Very good with pasta or pork and would go perfect with chocolate. It is an exciting red wine vibrant in color and rich in taste. Archeo’s nero d’Avola 2005 can be considered a mild Cabernet Sauvignon or a strong Merlot. One of Italy’s best inexpensive wines it has a hint of oak with a strong dark chocolate flavor. I recently purchased this bottle now sadly empty at Trader Joes for $4.99. I would commend it to you with warm regards.

  4. Rob,

    I love that you gave us a wine review in your comment. That is completely and in always the best response one could have to this.

  5. His question is; "Why are so many young people leaving fundamentalist Baptistic Churches and going into Reformed Calvinistic Churches?
    His answer is; "Because the pastors of the Reformed churches are much more interesting then the ones in the Fundamentalist churches."
    His prediction that after the leaders die off Calvinism will die off because that is what has always happened in history.
    This line of reasoning is so mind-numbingly ignorant that the best thing to do is to grab a nice Cabernet Sovereign and read Romans. In another sermon on Baptism he said that Presbyterians believe that baptism washes away original sin. Hum.....perhaps we need to start drinking something stronger?

  6. No kidding - I heard a sermon earlier this year from a local church. The pastor was going through "World Religions" in his Sunday night service. After covering Hinduism, Buddhism, and the like, he ended on.... wait for it... Calvinism (gasp!)

    Anyway, the main argument of the sermon was that John 3:16 "clearly" proves Calvinism wrong. Wow. I am more and more encouraged each day that, "The more a theologian detaches himself from the basic Hebrew and Greek text of Holy Scripture, the more he detaches himself from the source of real theology! And real theology is the foundation of a fruitful and blessed ministry!" (Courtesy of John Piper quoting Heinrich Bitzer.

    Thanks for the reminder a pastoral need for diligence!

  7. That's incredible, Jonathan. Seriously, incredible.

  8. Have you heard his recent sermon regarding TULIP? It was delivered in June 2010. (It's at More comedy than his Young and Restless sermon.
    I get angry with pastors like him who claim to "stick with the Bible" but really don't. They ignore the wealth of Calvinistic passages and they use non-Biblical arguments like "Calvin got his beliefs from Augustine and Augustine was a Roman Catholic" or "Calvin was a mean ruler in Geneva", etc.

  9. Face it Calvinists-you eisegete and hang your own twisted meaning written by the murderer on another gospel Calvinists call Scripture, and corrupt the simple gospel and make it no effect to the 'non elect'. Sweatts teaching on TULIP is spot on, and that fact that you use twisted interpretation of scripture such that all doesnt mean all, whosoever doesnt mean whosoever means nothing as it pertains to Sweatts study.. Clearly Calvinists are clueless about the nature of God.
    BTW Parker... Calvin did get his doctrine in part from Augustine...Calvin himself wrote:

    “Augustine is so wholly with me, that if I wished to write a confession of my faith, I could do so with all fullness and satisfaction to myself out of his writings.”


  10. Fred, is it your own belief that in Scripture when the word "all" is used, it always means "all without exception"?


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