Anatomy of a Church Split Part 5

Part 5: How Did You Not Know Your Pastor is Calvinist? A Defense of My Majority Non-Calvinist Congregation



There it is. The question that I have been asked the most. Various articulations of:

Come on. How did your majority non-Calvinist congregation not know that your pastor was Calvinist? After two whole years?

If someone had asked me this question in August of 2022, I wouldn’t have had a sufficient answer. When this entire fiasco exploded after David’s November 6th Sunday school presentation to the youth, this was the most common objection I heard reported from church members. Over and over I would hear of very non-Calvinist individuals saying that they did not believe David was Calvinist. How in the world is this possible when we had all been sitting in the same audience, hearing the same sermons for over two years?

These are the questions that spurred the research which resulted in Part 1 of this article series. Historically, there have been two streams of Baptists: a more Calvinist stream and a more Arminian stream. For several decades, the non-Calvinist stream was the dominant and the denomination experienced the majority of its growth during this period. For so long, in fact, that Calvinism is a completely foreign theological system to many, if not most congregations. The reader may refer to the following resources for additional information:


David Circumvents the Pastor Search Committee

It is now an indisputable fact that, despite going through the entire vetting process, the majority of the pastor search committee was unaware that David affirmed the tenets of Calvinism when they recommended him to the church. I say majority instead of entirety, because it is possible that there was one member who did know, yet failed to disclose that information to the rest of the committee. I have reason to believe that the deacon who was sent to interview him and “ask the hard questions” (i.e., hard questions meant to elucidate where David stood on the doctrine of salvation) did know. However, I have no hard evidence to present. Ultimately, there are only two possibilities:

1. The deacon sent to interview him did know, and asked David questions in such a way as to allow for answers evasive enough that they would not raise red flags for the rest of the committee.

2. The deacon sent to interview him was not sufficiently educated on the topic so as to be qualified to ask the appropriate questions, which allowed David to craft his responses in such a way that his views would not be clearly understood.

Whichever is the case, the result was that the congregation voted to affirm David without the awareness that he holds to Calvinist doctrines. This is step 1 of a stealth Calvinist take-over, and David completed successfully.

A sufficiently equipped pastor search committee is absolutely crucial to avoid the catastrophic splits plaguing the Southern Baptist denomination. To avoid this scenario, I highly recommend the following guide: Questions and Answers for Pastor Search Committees of Non-Calvinist Congregations


The Root of the Problem

Previous context considered, the ultimate culprit is a lack of understanding about what Calvinism actually teaches. Even some individuals who have heard enough about the theological system to know they disagree with it, may not be able to identify it when it is actually preached. I understand that this may not sound plausible. How can someone disagree with a system and yet not be able to recognize it when they hear it?

The system itself involves a lot of what non-Calvinists consider to be “double speak,” which makes it very difficult for the individual not familiar with Calvinism to realize what exactly is being asserted. It is often very contradictory. Wikipedia supplies the definition of “double speak” that is closest to my usage here:

“Doublespeak is language that deliberately obscures, disguises, distorts, or reverses the meaning of words. Doublespeak may take the form of euphemisms…in which case it is primarily meant to make the truth sound more palatable. It may also refer to intentional ambiguity in language or to actual inversions of meaning. In such cases, doublespeak disguises the nature of the truth.”

This definition is closest to the mark, however, I’d like to insert one caveat. Since the Calvinist systematic includes contradictory concepts and the requirement that one affirm some mutually exclusive statements to be true simultaneously, the Calvinist preacher may not be using double speak intentionally. Rather, double speak is simply unavoidable in preaching the Bible through the lens of the system. On the other hand, some Calvinist pastors do intentionally employ double speak beyond that which is inherent in the system itself, with the intent to obscure.

Another element adding to the confusion is the fact that Calvinists and non-Calvinists often use the same vocabulary, however, their definitions of certain terms are in opposition to each other. The Calvinist will generally know this, while the non-Calvinist may be completely unaware. Unless the Calvinist clarifies this to the non-Calvinist, the non-Calvinist may have an entire conversation believing they are in agreement with the Calvinist when, in fact, they are not on the same page at all. A full explanation is offered in Part 2 of this article series.

This brings me to the two questions I’d like to pose to the reader:

1. Would you be able to recognize Calvinism if it was being preached from your pulpit?

2. Would you recognize the strategy of “stealth Calvinism” being employed from your pulpit?

I hope the reader will keep these questions in mind while surveying the “Analysis” portion of this article.


Conclusions From My Analysis of David’s Sermons

Conclusions normally come at the end. However, by stating mine in the beginning, I hope the reader will be better equipped to recognize and weigh David’s various teachings against the conclusions I have drawn from them. Have I been fair in my assessment? That is up to the reader to decide.

In trying to understand how in the world the events disclosed in Part 4 of this series could have happened in my church (the reader should understand that Part 4 is merely my personal testimony; David has exhibited unethical behavior toward many other individuals in addition to myself, my son, and Jack Dixon), and in the hopes that I could in some small way help other congregations avoid that fate, I went to my church’s sermon archives page. There, I listened to every single sermon David Kizziah has given from our pulpit from the beginning, while making notes and transcribing relevant portions. The fruit of that labor is below. Remember as you read that our congregation did not know that David was Calvinist, and that hindsight is 20/20. Additionally, many of these teachings occur for a mere matter of minutes in the middle or end of a sermon.

I believe that I am justified in arriving at the following seven conclusions based on my analysis:

1. Even though David rejects the label “Calvinist,” he has been clear enough in his preaching from the pulpit for an individual who is familiar with Calvinist doctrine to know for a fact that he affirms at least 4 points of TULIP, and possibly the 5th: Total depravity as total inability; Unconditional election; Irresistible grace; and Perseverance of the saints. He very well may also hold to Limited atonement depending on what he meant by his statements in his August 15, 2021 sermon.

2.David has also clearly affirmed the Calvinist concepts of exhaustive divine determinism as the definition of sovereignty, compatibilist free will, and the plural wills of God.

3.David began his tenure at AFBC giving the impression that he affirmed an overtly non-Calvinist idea of salvation (the drowning man being tossed a rope), which he referred to sporadically later on, even after he had asserted his true view, the Calvinist Lazarus/corpse analogy.

4.David never gives a complete definition of certain key terms that he uses, which prevents many in the congregation from fully grasping the concepts he is teaching. Examples include compatibilist free will and the general versus effectual gospel call.

5.Since many church members expressed disbelief that David is, in fact, Calvinist, in the weeks following the youth lesson, it is clear that these individuals either: a) did not understand what Calvinism is; or b) did understand what Calvinism is, but were unable to identify it due to its inherent contradictory affirmations, David’s lack of clarity in defining key terms, and/or lack of knowledge regarding the non-Calvinist interpretation of key texts.

6.In light of number 5, it is clear that our congregation was highly vulnerable to a stealth Calvinist take-over agenda.

7.It is absolutely understandable that David would be under the impression that our congregation was “ready” for him to give the explicit presentation of the Calvinist doctrine of election as the only “Biblical” view to the youth.


A Reminder About the Goal of This Series

Before I present my case, it is necessary that I remind the reader of my heart, and my goal in authoring this series. As I’ve stated multiple times throughout, this series is not about demonizing Calvinism as a theological system, and certainly not about disparaging Calvinists as individuals. While I do have very serious concerns about several aspects of the Calvinist theological systematic, which is a necessary corollary to the discussion at times, I also believe that a congregation can be unified in its diversity if it is devoted to this goal and blessed with skilled leaders. This series is explicitly and unapologetically about:

1.Soundly and publicly denouncing the strategies of certain Calvinist ministries and certain Calvinist pastors who aim to “reform” majority non-Calvinist congregations via “stealth” and subversive means, which results in the sundering of congregations.

2.Equipping Southern Baptist laity everywhere to recognize and potentially avoid the heartbreak that my church has endured due to “stealth” reformation agendas.

3.Publically calling out corruption and abuse within the Church (evidenced in Part 4 of this series) in accordance with Paul’s 1 Timothy 5:19-20 distinction:

“19 Do not admit a charge against an elder except on the evidence of two or three witnesses. 20 As for those who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest may stand in fear.” (ESV)

In David Kizziah’s final address to our congregation, he offered the following practical application of the 1 Timothy 5 passage cited above, and I could not agree more with his interpretation and call to action:

“And that is not just a passive activity. It requires action to rebuff it.”

It is in the spirit of fulfilling the two goals above that I offer an analysis of the timeline, trajectory, and content of David’s preaching from the beginning of his ministry in our church all the way to the end. I highly recommend readers who are not already proficient in their understanding of Calvinism to read Part 2: What is Calvinism and/or Reformed Theology before continuing .



David’s First Three Months

Sermons from the time period spanning July 26, 2020 to September 20, 2020 may be accessed in their entirety at the following link:


July 26, 2020:

In this, what I believe is David’s second sermon, he institutes the Robert Murray M’Cheyne Bible reading plan. I knew that M’Cheyne was a very Calvinist pastor. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this reading plan or M’Cheyne. The plan is wonderful and the man, by all accounts, worthy of the Hebrews 11 “hall of faith.” I mention this as a fact of history, rather than any sort of red flag.


August 16, 2020:

54:10: “There is nothing to hinder you right now, this morning, in this room, watching right now. There is nothing to hinder you from embracing this story. For you, right now, to repent of your sin and say, ‘Lord Jesus, I believe in you. I trust in you. I want to follow you.”

Non-Calvinist Perspective: The non-Calvinist in the audience takes this statement at face value.

Calvinist Concept: The Calvinist applies the unstated caveat that no man can even want to believe and trust in Jesus unless he/she is one of the elect that God selected before Creation, and who has been regenerated to enable/ensure this positive response temporally. With respect to the non-elect, the non-Calvinist considers this barrier to be an insurmountable hindrance indeed. If I’m a non-Calvinist in the audience, I am not on the same mental page that David is with regard to the meaning of this statement, but I have been given no inkling that this is the case.


Sermons from the time period spanning September 27, 2020 to December 27, 2020 may be accessed in their entirety at the following link:


September 27, 2020:

David gives an explicitly non-Calvinist analogy for salvation:

1:03:30: “If you see someone out in the middle of a lake and they’re bobbing up and down; they’re on the verge of drowning…They want a rope. They want to be tethered to safety. In Christ, God has thrown the rope. From the top down. Will you grab hold?”

Non-Calvinist Perspective: When David preached this, I believed he was certainly non-Calvinist. This is not any Calvinist’s analogy for salvation. In fact, David preaches the Calvinist view of salvation the very next week. In retrospect, I do not see any option other than to believe that David was being intentionally misleading when he delivered this sermon. This is not a mistake any honest Calvinist would make.

Is it possible that David was actually presenting the non-Calvinist view of salvation rather than intending to give the impression that this was the view of salvation that he holds? Personally, I don’t consider this a valid option, because David doesn’t present the view as any sort of alternative to any other view. In fact, throughout his entire tenure at AFBC, David never presents any non-Calvinist interpretation of Scripture as an alternative when he is presenting a Calvinist interpretation, other than when he is intentionally denigrating a non-Calvinist interpretation. For example, his misrepresentation of the chess-player analogy in his February 28, 2021 sermon.

Calvinist Concept: The Calvinist salvation analogy is the John 11 story of Jesus resurrecting Lazarus According to Calvinism, man is a corpse. A corpse does not have to ability to grab a rope thrown to him.



October 4, 2020:

I came to the realization that David is, in fact, Calvinist in this sermon. Rather than transcribing this entire sermon, I will list the explicit Calvinist concepts taught in this sermon, and only transcribe the portions where David sums it all up. In this sermon David: 1. Conflates Paul’s conversion experience and his election to a specific role (apostle) to the election of individuals before time to salvation; 2. regeneration preceding faith; 3. posits that this determining doesn’t negate man’s responsibility; 4. follows by using the John 11 story of Lazarus as an analogy for salvation.

49:12: “Now I want us to look at four quick components of that revelation that Paul talks about here. Now, again, we’re asking the question, ‘What defines me?’ Right? What is revealed to me? The real Jesus, really revealed to me? Let’s look at the four components of that revelation, alright? […] God’s choice, God’s call, God’s commission, and God’s communion. (emphasis mine)

Calvinist Concept: The order of this is of utmost importance for comprehension of what David is saying. What is required for Jesus to be truly revealed to you? Number 1: God’s choice.


This is followed by some very confusing statements:

51:20: “And God has spoken to every single person in this room, every single person tuning in right now [he means online]. If you have ears to hear, God is saying to you, ‘Before you were born I made a choice. I chose,’ God said.

Mixed Messaging: I believe this an example of intentional double speak. David does believe that God is speaking to every single person via what Calvinist refer to as the “general call.” However, when he says, “If you have ears to hear,” he is saying without clarifying that the listener will only truly be able to hear and respond if God issues His “effectual call,” which He will only issue to the elect. The non-Calvinist listening may not be capable of picking up on the nuance in his statements. He certainly has not clarified that nuance exists.

Calvinist Concept: What David is saying in a convoluted way is this: If you hear and respond positively today, that means that you are one of the elect God chose before Creation.


51:55: “Romans chapter 8 and verse 28, ‘And we know that for those who love God, all things work together for good. For those who are called according to his purposes, for whom he foreknew.’ That means those whom He knew before time began. ‘For those whom he foreknew, he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, and those whom he predestined, he also called, and those whom he called, he also justified, those whom he justified, he glorified.”

Non-Calvinist Perspective: By citing this passage here, David clearly appears to be asserting the Calvinist interpretation of the doctrine of predestination.

Calvinist Concept: Romans 8:28-30 is often referred to by Calvinists as “The Golden Chain of Salvation,” which they interpret as Scriptural support for the idea that God predestined certain individuals to salvation prior to Creation.

De-Calvinized Scripture: If the Calvinist definition of the word “predestined” is correct, then this passage certainly does seem to say exactly what they say it means. The problem from the non-Calvinist point of view is Scripture never defines the term that way. In actuality, the word “predestined” is used six times in the New Testament. In his Christian Theology, Dr. Adam Harwood has included a useful table showing how the term is used in each of these six usages:

For the reader who would like to hear a non-Calvinist interpretation of this passage, I recommend Dr. Flowers’ 10-minute video, Romans 8:28-30 De-Calvinized.


52:25: “Now I know some of you right now are getting a little angry. Wait a minute preacher. Talkin’ about that predestination stuff. What’s going on? What are we gettin’ at here? Are you saying that if God chooses me, it doesn’t matter what I do? Absolutely not, nor does Scripture say it. See, I think we’re scared of that term predestination because, even though it’s all through the New Testament, because we have a wrong understanding of what that means, right? We think God’s first choosing us means we have no will whatsoever. That’s not what it means, right? God may have chosen us in eternity past, but we must still choose Him in space and time.”

Non-Calvinist Perspective: David realizes here that some in the audience may have just recognized that he has asserted the Calvinist version of the doctrine of predestination. However, he seems to indicate that he is disagreeing with what he believes they understand that view of the doctrine to teach (that if God chooses us, our actions don’t matter).

Calvinist Concept: Calvinists view this particular non-Calvinist objection to their definition of predestination as a misunderstanding of what they believe. The Calvinist would not say that our actions don’t matter simply because they are predestined due to the fact that we still have to actually perform that action in time (temporally).

Non-Calvinist Perspective: To the non-Calvinist, this explanation just kicks the can further down the road since, on Calvinism, God’s predestination of the individual to salvation assures that he/she will not fail to perform that action temporally. David never addresses this valid objection, and his last statement is all but meaningless to the non-Calvinist.


54:43: “Have you heard the call of God? You say, ‘I don’t know!’ Well, guess what? The call of God is going out right now! This is a human call. I’m speaking. I’m a human right? I’m calling out through the word. But God, in His sovereignty can give His effectual call right now, if you will choose to hear it.” (emphasis mine)

Mixed Messaging: Here, David even uses the Calvinist term “effectual call.” However, he fails to clarify to the congregation that this call is a different call from the “general call,” which he affirms everyone is receiving through him as a human agent, in that the general call is not sufficient to result in salvation.

I want to point out here, that even though I was positive after this sermon that David was Calvinist, I did not grasp at the time how deceptive his presentation was. That realization was only clear to me in hearing this sermon for the second time over two years later. I did, however, assume that many in the congregation would have realized that he was Calvinist on this day right along with me. That assumption was incorrect.

Calvinist Concept: In the book David selected for the youth curriculum, these terms are explicitly defined:

“This calling is an act of God the Father, speaking through the human proclamation of the gospel, in which he summons people to himself in such a way that they respond in saving faith. Because it comes from God and always results in saving faith, it is sometimes referred to as effective calling.” (p. 96-97)

“But there is a broader sense of ‘calling’ that refers to any preaching of the gospel to anyone, whether they respond or not. In distinction from effective calling , which always brings response, we can talk about the ‘gospel call’ in general, which goes forth to all people, and which is sometimes referred to as external calling or general calling. […] Not all gospel calls are effective. The job of believers is to explain the gospel message; it is God’s job to make that message or call effective.” (p. 97-98)

Mixed Messaging: The statement that I have bolded is very confusing, and I’m not really sure what he means. Surely David cannot be saying that you have the ability to “choose” to hear the effectual call, and if you will, then God will give it. This would just be a lie. Perhaps he is saying that if God knows that this is the temporal juncture at which He has determined that you, as an elect individual He chose before Creation, will choose to hear His effectual call, then He will certainly send it? That’s the only sense I can make of it.

Calvinist Concept: Since Calvinists teach that regeneration occurs prior to faith, the face value interpretation that David seems to indicating (that God will send the effectual call if the individual chooses to hear it) is ruled out. See the youth curriculum text:

“After the invitation to respond to the gospel is given, God must bring about a change in an individual’s heart before he or she is able to respond in faith. That change, a secret act of God in which he imparts new spiritual life to is, is sometimes called regeneration. We play no role in this regeneration; it is completely an act of God.” (p. 99)


After this, David’s sermons are mostly Calvinism-free for about two months. He must not have received any push-back during this time, because with the beginning of the New Year, he routinely adds Calvinist elements into his messages.


David’s Sermons from 6 Months to a Year

Sermons from the time period spanning January 3, 2021 to January 31, 2021 may be accessed at the link below:


January 17, 2021:

42:58: “You’re moving towards a day, Paul tells these learned philosophers [in the Acts 17 context of Paul addressing the Gentiles at the Areopagus], in which you will stand before the living God, who stands supreme above all gods, who sits in sovereignty ordaining and orchestrating every single event that happens. (emphasis mine)

Calvinist Concept: David is establishing exhaustive divine determinism at the outset of this sermon, which also equates to the Calvinist idiosyncratic definition of “sovereignty.” We all believe that God is sovereign. We do not all believe that the fact that God is sovereign necessarily entails exhaustive divine determinism. Dr. Flowers illustrates this point in footnote 31, on page 39 of his book, The Potter’s Promise:

“James White: ‘How can God know future events, for example, and yet not determine them, is an important point’ (Debating Calvinism, p. 163) ‘How could God know it?’ asks White. For White, God must determine it, in order to know it. For White, omniscience is simply a matter of God knowing what He scripted, and since God scripted everything, according to White, then it follows that God must then know everything. White writes: ‘How can God know what these free creatures will do in the future, if they are truly free?’ (Debating Calvinism, p. 168) It’s clear that White doesn’t believe that God could know what free creatures would do, unless God determined their actions.”

David does not clarify this nuance. Many Calvinists, and apparently David is one of them, hold that God has orchestrated every single event that has ever and will ever come to pass. The reader needs to understand that this includes all events, down to the most heinous of sin. For example, in John Piper’s article, Has God Predetermined Every Tiny Detail In the Universe, Including Sin? he writes:

“Has God predetermined every tiny detail in the universe, such as dust particles in the air and all of our besetting sins? Yes.”

 Calvinist Concept:  At the same time, Calvinists argue that they do not believe that God is the author of sin. However, how He is both the determiner and orchestrator (i.e., the unmoved mover in the Aristotelian sense) of every event that occurs without being the author, and therefore culpable for the sin that He has determined is considered a mystery that must simply be accepted. Or, as some Calvinists argue (and as David will argue later) since God Himself has not directly caused the sin, only determined it through secondary means, then He is not culpable. Only the human agent bears responsibility.

Non-Calvinist Perspective: Hopefully the reader is beginning to see why non-Calvinists believe that some of the hidden terms and conditions of the Calvinist system are an assault on the very character of God.


52:17: “…You can seek Him. In fact, that’s why He ordained for you to be born when you were born. Look at verse 27. God is in charge of history, geography, identity. Why? So that all these people whom He has sovereignly placed throughout time all over planet Earth, so that they would seek Him. And in the seeking they would find Him. […] That same word that the English Bible translates (or at least the ESV) that they would feel their way toward him. It’s the same word that was used in that ancient Greek story of the cyclops. Remember, when the cyclops was blinded (and these guys would’ve known this story), he groped in the cave trying to find his way out? That’s what he’s saying. You are blinded, but God has set this thing in motion, your life in motion so that you will find him. And how can He be found? Well, he can be found in His Son.”

Mixed Messaging: Here, despite what he has just asserted about exhaustive divine determinism, David seems to be teaching that all men have the ability to seek and find God, and that God has specifically placed each and every individual in such a time and place so that they would. Nowhere does he clarify that, according to Calvinism, only the elect are enabled to seek God. The cyclops analogy compounds the confusion. Perhaps he means that the elect, after regeneration, are like the groping cyclops? David has already made clear in previous sermons that the state of all men (prior to regeneration) is that of a corpse, just like Lazarus. With all of this mixed messaging it is no wonder people who aren’t familiar with Calvinism are not tracking along with what David is actually saying.


January 23, 2021:

36:30: “And do you know what the basic will of God is? […] You know what God’s basic will is for you today? It is to come and place yourself under the mercy of Christ found at the cross. Come and receive His mercy…And now, God’s will for us is to turn and place ourselves under the fountain of God’s mercy. It’s amazing. That’s what God wants from us.”

Non-Calvinist Perspective: At this point in his tenure at AFBC, David has never explained that he believes God has multiple wills: a “will of decree,” a “will of direction,” and a “will of desire.” He doesn’t elaborate on this until his October 16, 2022 sermon.  Here he seems to be calling God’s will of desire His “basic will,” which is revealed in any Bible passage in which God indicates that it is His desire that all would come to Him in faith, repentance, and belief.

Calvinist Concept: I’ve heard Calvinists define these plural wills of God defined in various ways. Some affirm two wills, others three. John Piper gets at the crux of the matter in Are There Two Wills in God:

“Affirming the will of God to save all, while also affirming the unconditional election of some, implies that there are at least ‘two wills’ in God, or two ways of willing. It implies that God decrees one state of affairs while also willing and teaching that a different state of affairs should come to pass. This distinction in the way God wills has been expressed in various ways throughout the centuries. It is not a new contrivance. For example, theologians have spoken of sovereign will and moral will, efficient will and permissive will, secret will and revealed will, will of decree and will of command, decretive will and preceptive will, voluntas signi (will of sign) and voluntas beneplaciti (will of good pleasure), etc.”

“To avoid all misconceptions it should be made clear at the outset that the fact that God wishes or wills that all people should be saved does not necessarily imply that all will respond to the gospel and be saved. We must certainly distinguish between what God would like to see happen and what he actually does will to happen, and both of these things can be spoken of as God’s will. The question at issue is not whether all will be saved but whether God has made provision in Christ for the salvation of all, provided that they believe, and without limiting the potential scope of the death of Christ merely to those whom God knows will believe.”

Non-Calvinist Perspective: The non-Calvinist argues that this creates a kind of schizophrenic God. What’s more, to the Calvinist, the individual is responsible to obey God’s will of desire. However, according to God’s will of decree, He has not enabled/will not enable the non-elect to do so. A plural will concept is not taught anywhere in Scripture. It is purely a deduction the Calvinist must make in order to make sense of Scripture which contradicts his presupposition of exhaustive divine determinism.

Mixed Messaging: Any non-Calvinist sitting out in the audience who is not familiar with Calvinism’s plural wills of God would have no idea that this is what David means by what he’s saying.


Sermons from the time period spanning February 7, 2021 to April 17, 2022 may be accessed at the link below:


February 28, 2021:

36:19: “Where has God placed you? Just know He’s done that because of providential necessity. […] And He’s placed you there, not as some really good chess player. A really good chess player might place his pawn or his bishop or his rook at a particular spot because his opponent has outsmarted him, and he’s trying to play catch-up. So, he’s gonna place his piece here. No. God is not a chess player. He has placed you where He has placed you. He has placed me where He has placed me, not as a chess player, but as a movie director, who says, ‘No, no, no. Stand right here. Right here. Cause I want the light to hit you in this way. I want the angle of the camera to come, right? I want you right here, because I have a plan and I’ve got all the angles figured out…”

Calvinist Concept: Here David has given a very explicit illustration of his view of exhaustive divine determinism. Remember above that I said that Calvinists roundly denounce that God is the author of sin? This is a prime example of the fact that they often do this while simultaneously employing the analogy of a movie director to describe their view of exhaustive divine determinism. So, to some Calvinists, God as author is not an appropriate analogy, but God as movie director is.

Misrepresenting Non-Calvinist Views: Notice here what David says about the analogy of God as a chess player. There are two options:

1. David either exhibits that he does not properly grasp the non-Calvinist chess player analogy; or 2. he employs a debate tactic called the straw-man fallacy in order to intentionally misrepresent an analogy that some non-Calvinists use to describe their view of divine providence (a chess player), because the version he has articulated is easier to defeat than the non-Calvinist’s real argument.

Non-Calvinist Perspective: No non-Calvinist presents the chess player analogy in the way he has presented it, arguing that God is merely reacting to counter a move in which the enemy has outsmarted Him. Instead, the analogy might be used to illustrate how a master chess player can play a game against multiple opponents simultaneously, not merely able to achieve his planned end by virtue of the fact that he is directing a play in which he has previously determined every action of each actor, but able to achieve his ends by virtue of the sheer fact that his intelligence is such that his ends will be achieved even while allowing his opponents to make moves of their own free accord. Of course, no analogy is perfect, but you get the point.

As Dr. Flowers says in his book The Potter’s Promise:

“Should ‘sovereignty’ be interpreted and understood as the necessity of God to ‘play both sides of the chessboard’ in order to ensure His victory? Or should it be understood as God’s infinite and mysterious ways of accomplishing His purposes and ensuring His victory in, through and despite the libertarianly free choices of creation?” (p. 36)


38:42: “By the way, if you know Jesus, you’re His ambassador, right? We can perform this service as a witness for Him in a dispassionate way, right? […] We can also take this book called the Bible and start bullying people with it, right? […] That’s the next point of this message. The fact of our witness is a providential necessity, but the flavor of our witness should be a profound, not, okay? […] And what I mean is that there should be a warmth to it, right?”

Mixed Messaging: To a non-Calvinist sitting in the audience this next point in his sermon, which comes barely two minutes after his assertion of exhaustive divine determinism seems dizzyingly contradictory. David has just posited that God is placing you so specifically that light and camera angles are precise. In previous sermons he has indicated that every event that comes to pass has been determined (not just known) by God before Creation. Yet, here he is saying that we have some type of control over how we witness: with apathy, bullying, or warmth. I can see how a non-Calvinist who is not familiar with Calvinism’s inherent contradictory, mutually exclusive beliefs would be left feeling that they had to have misunderstood something David has said somewhere in this message.


March 28, 2021:

David is preaching this Sunday on John 2:23 – 3:8. To provide context for his statements the end of John 2 is cited below:

“23 Now when he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many believed in his name when they saw the signs that he was doing. 24 But Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people 25 and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man.” (ESV)

55:12: “If John’s gospel would’ve ended after chapter 2, we should have major heartburn. Oh no. There are some people who believe in Jesus in some way. It seems like they want to have fellowship with Him, and Jesus leaves them hanging?”

Non-Calvinist Perspective: I’d like to point out that this passage is problematic for the Calvinist doctrine of total depravity as they assert it (as total inability). As we’ve seen David teach previously, all men prior to regeneration are corpse-like in that they have zero ability to even want to be positively disposed to Jesus or His gospel message. They can only be repulsed by it. Yet, in this text, there are people who are positively disposed to the message, which according to Calvinism can only happen after regeneration, which according to their doctrine of irresistible grace, necessarily entails that they will have faith, repent, and believe.

Calvinist Concept: In order to address this occurrence in Scripture (and in the reality we all live daily) which seems to diverge from his concept of total depravity, John Calvin deduced a doctrine he called “effervescent faith”:

“Let no one think that those [who] fall away…were of the predestined, called according to the purpose and truly sons of the promise. For those who appear to live piously may be called sons of God; but since they will eventually live impiously and die in that impiety, God does not call them sons in His foreknowledge. There are sons of God who do not yet appear so to us, but now do so to God; and there are those who, on account of some arrogated or temporal grace, are called so by us, but are not so to God.” (Concerning the Eternal Predestination of God p. 66)

“Sometimes, however, he communicates it also to those whom he enlightens only for a time, and whom afterwards, in just punishment for their ingratitude, he abandons and smites with greater blindness.” (The Institutes of the Christian Religion, Book 3, Chapter 24, Section 8)

To be clear, almost no modern day Calvinist affirms this concept of “effervescent faith” in which God grants some form of grace allowing the individual to overcome total depravity and express a type of superficial faith/belief, which evaporates when God later revokes that grace. However, I am unaware of any alternative explanation provided.


55:47: “That’s why the rest of the gospel was written [meaning what he is about to discuss in chapter 3]. To say no. He knows us. He loves us, and He’s gonna refuse to leave us on the surface. And that’s why He’s gonna point us to to what He points Nicodemus to. The need of a new birth regeneration. And that’s why He says in verse 8, ‘The wind blows where it wishes.’ […] You know what He’s saying? You can’t see the wind. Nicodemus, you can’t see the Spirit, but you can definitely see the effect of the Spirit. And the faith you need is saving, Nicodemus. And when you place saving faith in Me, it’s going to have an effect.”

Mixed Messaging: This is a confusing commentary in my opinion. He seems to be saying that we should be relieved by the text of chapter 3, because chapter 2 has indicated that some people can exhibit some type of non-saving faith. He then states that God knows us, loves us, and refuses to leave us at the stage of a superficial faith. This statement certainly cannot apply to all people, otherwise there would be no such thing as the non-elect. From there, David moves to the discussion with Nicodemus about being born again, or regenerated, which will certainly result in visible evidence of this regeneration in the life of the believer. David has made a distinction between superficial faith and saving faith, but offered no explanation for the fact that, apparently, such a thing as a superficial/non-saving faith does exist. This is not a comforting thought, which is why he continues with the following statements.


56:55: “Now if I were you right now, I’d be asking, ‘What’s that effect?’ […] If you’re right now really worried, ‘Oh no, is my faith really saving or superficial?’ Guess what? It’s probably saving faith. Alright? [chuckles]”

Non-Calvinist Perspective: I’m really not sure how this statement is reassuring to anyone. I’ve heard Calvinists express that their doctrinal version of eternal security, perseverance of the saints, is the most robust, comforting version of eternal security. I suppose it is if one is absolutely certain that he/she is elect. Of course, that cannot be definitively stated at any point during anyone’s life. It is only an assessment that can be made if one does, in fact, persevere in faith to the end of his/her life. We can probably all conjure up examples in reality where that failed to occur despite very convincing outward evidence for entire decades. Apparently, perseverance of the saints doesn’t inspire a feeling if security for many Calvinists. Calvinist Michael Patton’s ministry focuses heavily on Christians who are doubting their faith. The following excerpts are from his article, Doubting Calvinists:

“It may surprise you to know that just about every contact I have had with people who are doubting their salvation are Calvinistic in their theology. In other words, they believe in unconditional election. These are the ones who believe in perseverance of the saints. These are the ones that believe that we cannot lose our salvation! Yet these are the ones who are doubting their faith the most.

“Their issue has to do with their election. Are they truly among the elect? If they are, they believe their faith will persevere until the end. But if they are not, there is no hope. But how are they to know for sure whether they are elect? Maybe their faith is a stated faith? Maybe it is false. The gentleman I talked to today was so riddled with doubt, he was having thoughts of suicide. ‘How do I know my faith is an elect faith?’ He wanted assurance so badly, but felt that his Calvinistic theology prevented him from ever having such assurance.

“Isn’t this ironic? I have never had a call from an Arminian (or any other believer in conditional election) about this. In my experience, it is only Calvinists who doubt their faith in this way, with such traumatic devastation. Why?”

                I do, indeed, find this very ironic.


April 11, 2021:

54:55: “Some of you are thinking, ‘Wow, Jesus says the new birth, it’s kind of like the Spirit blowing, it’s a work of God. Well, what about my free will? My responsibility?’ Well. Guess what? He’s about to get to that. And here’s the beautiful truth. Everywhere in Scripture you see these two doctrines: the complete sovereignty of God and the absolute responsibility and accountability of man side by side. You say, ‘Well, I don’t understand that.’ Well, if you believe, guess what? You’ll grow in that understanding.”

Non-Calvinist Perspective: This is exactly the contention between the Calvinist and the non-Calvinist, isn’t it? Obviously, the non-Calvinist disagrees that these doctrines, as explained by the Calvinist, are taught in Scripture.

However, it is David’s last statement that is interesting to me. Is he saying that if I am a true believer, I will simply come to accept the fact that even though those two propositions are a textbook example of two mutually exclusive proposition which cannot rationally be held as true simultaneously, I will come to accept that cognitive dissonance and believe affirm them anyway? Or, is he saying that if I am a true believer, I will begin to understand that these two propositions are not, in fact, mutually exclusive? If David is insinuating the latter, then he should probably explain it to prominent Calvinist John MacArthur:

“…John MacArthur, a notable Calvinistic pastor, was asked the question, ‘If God literally brings about everything then how can He blame me for sinning?’ He answered, ‘I don’t know the answer to that, and I don’t know of anyone who knows the answer to that.’” (The Potters Promise, p. 55)


57:24: “So, you’re not necessarily called to understand and explain it all. You’re called to believe. Nicodemus is called to believe. I’m called to believe. Everyone in this room is called to believe.”

Mixed Messaging: Once again, to the non-Calvinist in the audience, this gives the impression that he is saying that we are all called to believe in such a way that we do actually have the ability to believe. David does not clarify that he is merely referring to the general call here, which does in fact go out to all. He is not referencing the effectual call, which will certainly result in belief, but in no way applies to everyone in the room unless everyone in the room is elect. (See definitions cited above.)


April 25, 2021:

1:01:24: “Notice this phrase [John 4:23], ‘…for the Father is seeking such people to worship…’ You know what that means? God really wants you to get His offer…God the Father is making us an offer, and He is seeking us, He is pursuing us to come and get it. […] Church, God’s offer is being made known today and God’s heart will keep chasing after you until you receive it. Receive it today.”

Mixed Messaging: I truly cannot fathom how these statements do not qualify as intentionally deceitful. The only individuals who “God’s heart will keep chasing…until you receive it” are the elect. This is the Calvinist doctrine of irresistible grace. Yet, David does not clarify this in any way, shape, or form.


May 23, 2021:

58:05: “We need You. We need Your Spirit to even believe. And Lord, we are so grateful that Your word promises that you have set forth the Spirit of Your Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba, Father’…”

Mixed Messaging: Another misleading appeal that likely appears to many in the audience to apply to all people, yet he can only be applying in context to the elect.


June 6, 2021:

53:20: “Now the tense is incredibly important [referring to John 5:24]. He does not say, ‘Whoever hears my word and believes in Him who sent Me will have eternal life.’ He says, ‘If you hear My word and believe on Him who sent Me, guess what that means? You have eternal life.’ You hearing, your believing, is evidence that God has breathed life into you. You say, ‘Well, how is that possible?” It’s possible because Ephesians 2 says we are dead in trespasses and sins. No matter how much you prick, prick a dead corpse, it’s not going to be animated. It’s not going to respond.”

Calvinist Concept: This is an explicit teaching on the Calvinist understanding of election, complete with the Lazarus/corpse analogy.

De-Calvinized Scripture: For a non-Calvinist response to David’s assertion about the meaning of Eph. 2 (and other verses they use to posit total inability), the interested reader may refer to Dr. Flowers’ article, Dead Means Dead.


54:13: “We are in desperate need of God making the first response, and in the gospel of Jesus, that’s what has happened. That’s what happened. God has made the first move.”

Non-Calvinist Perspective: Every single non-Calvinist can ‘Amen and amen’ that statement. Jesus’ death on the cross is God making the first move.

54:38: “This leads us to our second doctrine that sometimes the theologians call compatibilism. Basically, all that means is that when it comes to our salvation there are two truths that seem paradoxical, but they’re not. Here are the two truths: God is completely sovereign to save us, and man is completely responsible to respond.”

Mixed Messaging: David has actually used the word “compatibilism” to define the type of free will he is asserting here, which is indeed more clear than he has ever been before. But he fails miserably in defining it with anything approaching clarity. Below I will cite the (very highly respected Calvinist online resource) definition.  The reader can refer to the definition below to decide if David has been clear with his audience regarding the view of the type of free will he is urging them to adopt.

Calvinist Concept: definition of compatibilism:

“Compatibilism (also known as soft determinism), is the belief that God’s predetermination and meticulous providence is ‘compatible’ with voluntary choice. In light of Scripture, human choices are believed to be exercised voluntarily but the desires and circumstances that bring about these choices about occur through divine determinism (see Acts 2:23 & 4:27-28). It should be noted that this position is no less deterministic than hard determinism – be clear that neither soft nor hard determinism believes man has a free will. Our choices are only our choices because they are voluntary, not coerced. We do not make choices contrary to our desires or natures. Compatibilism is directly contrary to libertarian free will. Therefore voluntary choice is not the freedom to choose otherwise, that is, without any influence, prior prejudice, inclination, or disposition. Voluntary does mean, however, the ability to choose what we want or desire most. The former view is known as contrary choice, the latter free agency. (Note: compatibilism denies that the will is free to choose otherwise, that is, free from the bondage of the corruption nature, for the unregenerate, and denies that the will is free from God’s eternal decree.)”


June 20, 2021:

45:10: “God reveals Himself as a Father. That’s what He is. He’s a good, good Father. Yes, He is. He’s not an ogre. He’s not a genie…He wants us to live a life of love.”

Mixed Messaging: The reader should understand that all comments made in this sermon asserting that God is a good Father apply only to the elect. The non-elect are not God’s children.


46:15: “Here’s the three things I want is to get from this text about the Father. First of all, the Father is generous…’Come to Me! I will give you what you need and more. I am your heavenly Father, and I am generous.’”

Calvinist Concept: The irony here, is that on Calvinism, God will certainly give his children (those He chose as elect before Creation), everything they need. However, with respect to those individuals who He has created, but chosen to “pass over,” He is withholding the one thing necessary to enable them to come to Him in faith, repentance and belief. God has created us all, but He has only chosen to elect certain individuals for salvation. The rest will be damned. On Calvinism, God has created us all, yet only elected certain individuals to be His children, which He will save.

Non-Calvinist Perspective: Non-Calvinists argue that this definition of election is never taught in Scripture, and seems horrifically unfair.

Calvinist Concept: Wayne Grudem answers this latter accusation in the text that David selected for our youth Sunday school curriculum:

“It is important to understand what ‘fair’ really is with respect to salvation. Indeed, it would be perfectly fair for God not to save any human beings who sinned and rebelled against him… […] But if he does save any human beings, then this is a demonstration of grace, which goes far beyond the requirements of fairness and justice. If God saved only five people out of the whole human race, this would be mercy and grace.” (Christian Beliefs, p 89-90)

Non-Calvinist Perspective: The non-Calvinist is not asserting that God would be unjust if He decided not to save any human beings who have sinned and rebelled against Him. Instead, the non-Calvinist is calling into question how the Calvinist description of God’s “goodness” resembles anything that Scripture seems to reveal in definition of the “goodness of God,” in light of presupposing Calvinist doctrines such as exhaustive divine determinism, individual election to salvation before Creation, compatibilist free will, etc.

Non-Calvinists believe the Calvinist systematic completely empties the meaning of the statement “God is good” in one of two ways: Either “good” becomes so ambiguous when applied to God that “God is good” is not informative, or “God is good” becomes a mere tautology, because whatever God does is good just because God does it. Either way, the phrase can offer no comfort, because it has no tangible meaning.


1:02:44: “And you know what Jesus says? Just knock, then. Knock, knock. […] He is a perfect Father, a generous Father, and He is an always present Father. I went to the cross and bled in your place so that that could be a reality. So all you have to do, brother, sister: knock, knock, and He will come to you.”

Mixed Messaging: Again, this is misleading because it only applies to the elect. The non-elect cannot and will not even want to knock because God decided before Creation not to enable them to come for His own good pleasure.


July 4, 2021:

49:23: [In reference to Jonah not wanting to go to Ninevah, he says God is saying the following to Jonah] “You think I just created them, like, you know, you create some Play-Doh creation, just to watch it and crumble it up?”

Mixed Messaging: I really don’t know what David is playing at here unless he’s restricting the scope of God’s comment here specifically to Ninevah only, with the assumption that everyone in Ninevah is elect. This could be what he is doing. If so, he does not make clear at all to the congregation that this is his application. Without this transparency, most in the congregation will likely assume this sentiment applies to all individuals.

Calvinist Concept: The irony is that this is exactly the Calvinist view of God’s purpose in creating the non-elect “for destruction” or as “vessels of wrath” in accordance with their interpretation of the Romans 9 passages. As R.C. Sproul explains in his article Vessels of Destruction:

“Those things that God has ordained include also the eternal salvation of His people, thus leaving the rest of mankind eternally damned. In Romans 9:13, Paul uses the example of Jacob and Esau to demonstrate that salvation and damnation are the results of His sovereign choice. From eternity past, God permitted Esau’s (and the rest of humanity’s) fall into destruction.”

“…As the Creator, God has the right to do with His creation as He pleases. God is just and His glory is manifested in punishing those whom He has ordained to do evil just as a potter has the right to make some vessels fit for destruction (vv. 19–24).”

“This decree of reprobation is God’s action in leaving some people in their state of sinfulness, thus leading to their damnation. The verb ‘prepare’ in verse 22 is passive as opposed to its active use in verse 23, where it refers to God’s work of election of some to salvation. Out of the mass of humanity God actively elects some to salvation and passes over the rest, leaving them in their wickedness.”

De-Calvinizing Scripture: For an excellent, in depth treatment of the non-Calvinist interpretation of Romans 9, I highly recommend Dr. Leighton Flowers’ book The Potters Promise: A Biblical Defense of Traditional Soteriology. The following videos are also helpful: Soteriology 101 Romans 9 Video Playlist            


July 18, 2021:

52:32: [Context is John 6:37-44] “Do you hear what He says? He’s saying, ‘Hey, in the strictest sense of things, you don’t volunteer and sign up for this. If you come to Me, if you accept My offer, it means the Father who sent Me has given you to me.’ It’s even stronger in verse 44. He says, ‘No man can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him.’ The word ‘draw’ was the word used, in other literature in the first century, that Greek word is used for people who go to wells, drop down buckets, and draw it back up. They don’t say, ‘Here water, water, water. [whistles] Here we go. Here water, water, water.’ They drag it up. So Jesus is saying, ‘I don’t want you to be confused and think this is like your signing day, and you’ve got Muhammad’s hat, you’ve got Krishna’s hat, and you’ve got one of the million Hindi gods up there. You got, you know, maybe 18,000 of their hats. Then you got the Jesus hat and we’re all waiting with suspense. “What hat’s he gonna pick? What team’s he signing with?”’ Jesus says, ‘No. I want you to know that My Father has given Me My own, and if you come to Me it means He is drawing you. It doesn’t mean you are volunteering or signing up.”

Calvinist Concept: This is probably the most clear presentation of the Calvinist doctrine of election that David had given up to this point.

Mixed Messaging: Notice that it is the polar opposite description of salvation from the “drowning man being tossed a rope” analogy that he gave on September 27, 2020.


54:10: “Does this negate our free choices? Not at all. It starts our free choices.”

Mixed Messaging: This is another reference to the compatibilist definition of free will, but he still does not offer a complete explanation of that.

54:52: “Yes, your actions matter. Yes, I am inviting everyone to come. Whosoever will. Whoever comes to Me, I’m not gonna cast out. This ain’t no frozen chosen thing. This is saying, ‘Look, you all can come. Come. I want you to come. Come! Believe in Me. Just know, that’s not you. In the strictest sense, the Father has enabled you to do that.”

Mixed Messaging: This is an incredibly confusing presentation for the non-Calvinist who doesn’t understand the inherent contradictions in Calvinism for a couple of reasons:

1.He must know that most of the audience will understand the use of the phrase “whosoever will” along with the phrase “Look, you all can come” as an affirmation that literally every single individual in the world does, in fact, have the ability to believe in Him. (For example, the King James rendering of John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Since David has never given a complete definition of the compatibilist definition of free will, most of the audience isn’t following the nuance involved in his statements.

2.“Frozen chosen” is a phrase specifically applied to Calvinists, as some Calvinist fellowships are known for their lack of welcoming and warmth. (See Westminster Seminary [a Calvinist institution] blog article, A Pastor’s Reflections: The Frozen Chosen?) To me, it seems that he might be mentioning this phrase, which some in the audience may recognize as a reference to Calvinists, in order to insinuate in some way that all the very Calvinist concepts he just articulated somehow don’t indicate Calvinism.

Calvinist Concept: The reader should understand that John Calvin also made similar conflicting statements:

“Therefore, since no man is excluded from calling upon God, the gate of salvation is set open to all men.” (Commentary on the Acts of the Apostles, p. 91-92)

“We call predestination God’s eternal decree (aeternum Dei decretum), by which he compacted with himself what he willed to become of each man. For all are not created in equal condition, rather, eternal life is foreordained for some, eternal damnation for others. Therefore, as any man has been created to one or the other of these ends, we speak of him as predestined to life or to death.” (The Institutes of the Christian Religion, Book 3, Chapter 21, Section 5)

“…individuals are born, who are doomed from the womb to certain death, and are to glorify Him by their destruction.” (The Institutes of the Christian Religion, Book 3, Chapter 23, Section 6)]


55:52: “I know this folks, when I get to heaven I’ll be able to look in the face of Jesus and say it’s only because of Your sacrifice and the Father’s drawing. And the flip side is true too. If I go to hell, I will only be able to say it was because of my own sinful rejection of the offer of the gospel.”

Non-Calvinist Perspective: All non-Calvinists would agree with these statements. They just disagree that a Calvinist can rationally posit them in light of their systematic.

Calvinist Concept: The Calvinist wants to say that God is solely responsible for salvation via their definitions of predestination and election, yet at the same time, God bears no responsibility at all in reprobation. This is what John Calvin had to say about the line of thought expressed by David above:

“Many professing a desire to defend the Deity from an individual charge admit the doctrine of election, but deny that anyone is reprobated. This they do ignorantly and childishly, since there could be no election without its opposite, reprobation.” (The Institutes of the Christian Religion, Book 3, Chapter 23, Section 1)


David’s Second Year of Sermons


August 8, 2021:

30:53: “And Jesus said, ‘If anyone feels that soul thirst let him come to Me and drink.’ And folks, the invitation is still relevant. […] This is an invitation that expands to all humanity. […] If anyone feels their need, let him come to Me and drink.”

Mixed Messaging: To a member of the audience, this may sound like this is an invitation that every single individual (“all humanity”) has the ability to respond positively to. David does not elaborate on the nuance involved in his statement.

Calvinist Concept: The catch is the Calvinist understanding of the phrase “If anyone feels their need.” On Calvinism, only the elect can ever feel their need. Consider this article from titled, Can Someone Who is not of the Elect Be Saved if they Choose Jesus as their Savior:

“The summons to believe the gospel and the offer of Christ is not restricted. The gospel call goes out to all and any who hear it. If men do not believe, it is only because they don’t want to. But left to ourselves there is no one who fits your description. All people turn aside from God (Rom 3:12; Isa. 53:1, 6). Left to themselves, not one man on earth will choose Jesus as their Savior. […] Like a greedy person who runs into oncoming traffic because he sees a dollar bill in the street. He will hear no other voice calling to warn him. Yet even though all people are in active rebellion against God and love darkness, and reject his merciful call to come to him for life… God still has mercy on manyHe gives them new eyes to see, ears to hear and turns their heart of stone to soft flesh… it is these who, because of God’s grace, trust Jesus as their Savior because they behold the beauty truth and excellency of Jesus Christ and what He has done for them. So in the end some get justice… others mercy but no one gets injustice. In Jesus some are pardoned for their sins… They are not getting what they justly deserve… because, in love, Jesus took the punishment in their stead. Believe this day in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.” (emphasis mine)


August 15, 2021:

1:03:58: “This speaks so poignantly of our condition. Every single one of us. This story tells us three things. We’re all this woman [the woman at the well in John 8]. And there are three things about this woman I want you to know. Like this woman we are all guilty sinners before a holy God. […] But secondly, we can all be forgiven sinners before a merciful God…”

Mixed Messaging: David has presented this in a very confusing way. When he says that we are all like the woman at the well in that we are guilty sinners before a holy God, the word “all” does indeed apply to every single individual. All means all. However, when he says we can “all” be forgiven, this “all” only applies to the elect. All does not mean all. The non-elect cannot be forgiven or even desire forgiveness. It would be reasonable for anyone in the audience to assume David is using the word “all” in both statements to mean each individual, yet if he is being consistent with his Calvinistic doctrine of election, then he cannot be using the word “all” in the same way in both statements. He does not clarify this.

1:06:23: “Jesus has already counted the cost. That’s why He’s on His way to Jerusalem. ‘I am going to die for you. I am gonna die for that one. I am gonna die for that one. I am gonna die for all those who come to repentance in faith. All those who feel that they are weary and laden. I am gonna say, “Come to Me and you’ll find the rest for your souls.”’”

Calvinist Concept: I am not certain, but it is very possible from the way he has phrased this that David is teaching the Calvinist doctrine of limited atonement, which holds that Jesus only died for the elect.


October 3, 2021:

38:18: “Lazarus is a representative of all of us. We are dead until Jesus comes by His grace and says, ‘Come out.’ We are dead in our trespasses and sin. Ephesians 2 tells us, right? […] Until God, through the Gospel, intervenes and pulls us out of the grave.”

Calvinist Concept: This is another example of David using the Lazarus story in the typical Calvinist application of an analogy for individual salvation.

Mixed Messaging: However, his last sentence is confusing. Any non-Calvinist would agree that God intervenes “through the Gospel” to save us (think the rope to a drowning swimmer analogy).


October 17, 2021:

1:03:56: “You know what that means? It means the end, church, has begun. That’s why Jesus says when He is lifted up He will draw all people to Himself [referring to John 12:32].”

Calvinist Concept: The reader will recall that in his July 18, 2021 sermon, David included a word study on the use of the Greek word “draw” found in John 6:44. He went to great pains to explain that this Greek word is the word used in contemporary Greek literature to denote “drawing” water from a well. This is important for the Calvinist interpretation of the meaning of the word draw in 6:44, because to them, it rules out the non-Calvinist salvation analogy of a rope being thrown to a drowning man. The Calvinist argues that salvation is not a rope thrown that the sinner is responsible to grab. Rather, salvation is a bucket in which God scoops up the elect.

Non-Calvinist Perspective: The problem with this, is that the same Greek word for “draw” is used here in John 12:32. And here, in John 12:32, Jesus says that when He is lifted up, He will draw all people to Himself.

Mixed Messaging:  This is the verse I had been waiting to hear David preach ever since his July 18, 2021 sermon. David made absolutely no reference to the fact that both passages use the exact same Greek word.


The “Planted and Flourishing” Women’s Bible Study taught by David’s wife began on this day. She used Gretchen Saffles’ The Well Watered Woman. Saffles is recommended by The Gospel Coalition, which only recommends Calvinists.


November 7, 2021:

47:35: “What He’s saying is, ‘Look, I am offering you eternal life. If you make that rotten exchange [to earn the applause of man instead] you will rue the day.’ […] So if you love man’s applause more than God’s, you’re making a rotten exchange. […] It’s not God’s fault that you make that exchange. God has not been duplicitous. He has not been sneaky…God has not tricked you or me. It is our fault we make that exchange.”

Calvinist Concept: Calvinists do hold that man is responsible despite the fact that God has determined (either by active or passive means depending on which Calvinist you ask) you to be non-elect. Yet they hold that somehow, this is not duplicitous on God’s part.

Non-Calvinist Perspective: This is a major contention that non-Calvinists have with Calvinists. The non-Calvinist is simply honest in saying that if we applied this scenario to any situation other than God/salvation, the Calvinist would indeed consider such an offer to be duplicitous. Let’s say I make you an amazing offer. However, I do not enable you to accept that offer even though I am the only one who has the ability to enable you to accept it. What’s more, I repeatedly indicate that I want nothing more than for you to accept my offer. But, if you don’t, you will suffer eternally painful consequences. No one would consider my offer to you to be genuine. In fact, it would be considered cruel.


52:46: “So which is it? Was it that they would not believe in Him, or they could not believe in Him? […] Here’s the nub of it: grace. The grace of the exalted King becoming the suffering servant on our behalf and now extending His offer of eternal life to us. This grace may be refused so persistently as to destroy the power of accepting it. This grace, the grace of Jesus, may be refused so persistently, that a person destroys the power to accept it. […] I will not, one day will become I cannot. We learn this in life don’t we? There are windows for things. But the windows shut…”

Non-Calvinist Perspective: Every non-Calvinist can “Hallelujah!” this teaching.

Mixed Messaging: Unfortunately, it is unequivocally not what he has preached in previous sermons, and it is in direct opposition to David’s statement to me via email that he holds to the Calvinist doctrine of irresistible grace. I do not know any other way to understand this, other than to accept that he is intentionally preaching something that he does not believe to be true. David has preached numerous times at this point that we do not possess the power to accept the gospel outside of God’s prior regeneration. If He does not regenerate us, we can do nothing other than refuse. If He does regenerate us, we can do nothing other than accept. defines irresistible grace below:

“The gospel invitation can be and often is resisted and rejected. We read of this in Acts 7:51, where the people are described as being ‘uncircumcised in heart and ears.’ These are unregenerate and still dead in their sins. But God (such beautiful words) regenerates and gives life by removing the stony heart and replacing it with a heart of flesh. The discriminating, inward, effectual, call of the Spirit is never finally and fatally rejected (cf. John 6:45). This effectual call is not made to all sinners but is made to the elect in Christ only (cf. John :6:65)! This efficacious, invincible, irresistible call can never fail to accomplish the purpose designed and intended by the Triune God. This call never fails to give true faith and never fails to cause the sinner to whom it is given to turn to Christ for salvation and eternal life.”

With this type of mixed messaging, it is no wonder that people in our congregation are confused about what David believes.


January 23, 2022

16:28: “Thirdly, what this church realized [Acts 2:42]…We’re praying to the God who is the orchestrator. This church realizes the God they pray to orchestrates every major and minor detail of their lives. You say, ‘Where do you get that from their prayer? Well, we get in from verses 27-28…”

Calvinist Concept: Here David is claiming that the church is affirming exhaustive divine determinism in Acts 2, based on verses 27 and 28. This is based on the Calvinist assumption that, because God determined the cross, that also entails exhaustive divine determinism overall, for everyone.

Non-Calvinist Perspective: The non-Calvinist disagrees that this conclusion follows from their premise. Many non-Calvinists agree that God has determined certain events. However, this doesn’t mean that He has determined every event. It also doesn’t necessarily mean that He determined particular people to act in certain ways in the events He did determine. He is capable of working with the libertarian free choices of men and still achieving His ends.


37:02: “God’s will for you. You know what God’s will for you, His basic will for you today? Is to come and place yourself under the mercy of Christ found at the cross. Come and receive His mercy.”

Mixed Messaging: Once again, David doesn’t clarify what he means by using the term “basic will,” which can understandably cause many in the audience to think they are on the same page he is, while actually being miles apart.

Calvinist Concept: As Wayne Grudem explains in the book David selected for the youth:

“How then can both sides say that God desires everyone to be saved, in accordance with verses like 1 Timothy 2:4 and 2 Peter 3:9? These verses tell us what God commands people to do and what actions please him (namely, repenting and believing in Christ).  In this sense he truly ‘desires’ and ‘wishes’ that every person be saved. This is what is sometimes called his ‘revealed will,’ what he tells everybody on earth they should do. But such verses are not talking about God’s secret, hidden plans from all eternity to choose some people to be saved.” (p. 91-92)


April 10, 2022:

51:17: “This is not us being, uh, some kind of gospel soup Nazi: ‘No soup for you. No, no, no, no, no. I don’t think you can have it.’ No! It’s for all and we get to proclaim it. We’re echoing heavenly realities in our message of proclamation.”

Non-Calvinist Perspective/Mixed Messaging: Here, David is referencing an episode of the television series Seinfeld, called “The Soup Nazi,” in what appears to be his attempt at responding to the common criticism that when Calvinists share the gospel, they’re not being genuine because they know that some individuals aren’t elect and therefore, the message is not one they have the ability to accept. I brought up this exact argument in my comments under his November 7, 2021 sermon.

Calvinist Concept: Even though he is not as clear in his argumentation as some other Calvinists, David appears to be asserting that when the gospel is proclaimed (under the Calvinist systematic), those who are doing the proclaiming are to do so as if it did apply to all, because they have no way of knowing who is elect and who isn’t. For example, in a 1983 J. Vernon McGee text, he relates Charles Spurgeon’s response to this charge:

“If the Lord had put a yellow stripe down the backs of the elect, I’d go up and down the streets lifting shirt tails, finding out who had the yellow stripe, and then I’d give them the gospel. But God didn’t do it that way. He told me to preach the gospel to every creature that ‘whosoever will may come’…”


David’s Third Year of Sermons


August 7, 2022:

38:00: “So get this. This is not Jesus putting out a ‘Help Wanted’ sign [Mark 13:13]. This is not Jesus asking to, uh, ‘Hey, secretary, will you do a bulletin insert, and uh, would you put all the needs I have in My kingdom enterprise, and hopefully someone will sign up for these needs?’ This is not what Jesus is doing. Jesus is intentionally, we could even say electing. He’s choosing His disciples, the people He wants to be with Him. This is not come one, come all. Alright? Now, we’re gonna qualify that in just a moment, because the gospel invitation is come one, come all…”

Mixed Messaging: This is another extremely confusing presentation in which he seems to be intentionally giving the impression that all can positively respond to the gospel. He explains that Jesus’ election of the disciples was not “come one, come all.” He was electing particular individuals to a specific service or role. He then contrasts this with the gospel call, which he says is “come one, come all.” He never clarifies that by “gospel call” he is referring to the general call, which does not/cannot result in salvation. The effectual call, the only call that can and will result in salvation, is only for the elect (i.e., definitely not come one, come all). (The types of “gospel call” are defined from a Calvinist perspective above.)


August 14, 2022:

37:27: [In the context of Psalm 51 in which King David has Bathsheba’s husband Uriah killed) “…you had Uriah killed. Yeah, you didn’t do it exactly. It was more 2nd degree manslaughter, but nonetheless, by your command the sword was put into the hands that killed him. So you are the man.”

Calvinist Concept: Many Calvinists say that God is not culpable for sin that He decrees because He did not actually commit the sin, He decreed that it would occur via secondary means. Recall David’s explanation to the youth from Part 4:

“With regard to Star Wars, he explained that God is analogous with George Lucas. He pre-determined absolutely everything that would occur, down to everything each character is and everything each character does. He then said something to the effect of: But when you’re watching the movie, and Darth Vader does something horrible, who do you blame, Darth Vader or George Lucas?” He answered his own question saying that, of course, we blame Darth Vader! David further explained that as author, God has decrees that will certainly come to pass. However, he also has desires that appear to be contrary to those decrees. For example, God does not desire that Darth Vader be evil and do evil things, however, as author, He has unchangeably decreed that Darth Vader will indeed be and do both.”


Non-Calvinist Perspective: I included this sermon clip because it highlights the Calvinist inconsistency in considering God’s responsibility for sin in light of exhaustive divine determinism.

As explained above, many Calvinists argue that God is not culpable for sin because He acts, in His sovereignty, via secondary or indirect means. Yet, in this Scripture, David has acted in a very similar way and is still held responsible. No, David did not kill Uriah by his own hands. He did, however, ensure Uriah’s death by the hand of another (secondary or indirect means).

Let’s take this even further, and consider what this event looks like if exhaustive divine determinism is true:

God determines before Creation that David would commit adultery with Bathsheba, and that she will become pregnant. He determined that David would ensure Uriah’s death via secondary means, and that Uriah would die. Then, God determined that His prophet, Nathan, would come to David and drive home the point that David is still responsible for Uriah’s death despite the fact that he set the events in motion via secondary means. Despite all of this, the Calvinist holds that God, who set all these events into motion via secondary means (in accordance with His will of decree), is not responsible. Has vertigo set in yet? To the non-Calvinist, this seems like the perfect instance of a phrase parents have all likely uttered at some point: the self-deprecating admonishment, “do as I say, not as I do.”


Sermons from the time period spanning June 26, 2022 to September 4, 2022 may be accessed at the following link:


August 28, 2022:

42:37: “What’s the purpose of God? Again, the purpose of God is to have a genuine relationship with all the peoples of the earth. People of every tribe, from every tongue, from every nation, from every culture. That’s God’s purpose.”

Mixed Messaging: Once again, this is misleading because most people will misunderstand him to mean that God’s purpose is to have a genuine relationship with all peoples, as in every individual, of the earth.

Calvinist Concept: The Calvinist can say that is God’s will of desire, but it is certainly not His will of decree. Often, Calvinists qualify the word “all” used in Scripture by restricting its meaning from “all people” to “some of all types of people.” This is a common Calvinist tactic for dealing with John 3:16.

Mixed Messaging:  This may be what David is doing here when he lists categories of people, meaning that God’s purpose is to have a genuine relationship with some individuals from all the categories he has mentioned. If it is, he doesn’t clarify.


Sermons from the time period spanning September 11, 2022 to November 6, 2022 may be accessed at the following link:


September 11, 2022:

This entire sermon is about using 1 Thessalonians 1 as a proof text for the Calvinist doctrine of election. Note that it was given two months prior to the youth lesson which turned into a complete fiasco.

45:49: [The following statement is a commentary on the phrase “brothers loved by God” in 1Thessalonians 1:4] “The gospel came and you responded, and it wasn’t because you were better than anyone else. It was simply because God’s unevoked, unbridled love moved Him to bring you out of darkness and into His marvelous light. To change you, who were once an enemy to His throne, to now glad subjects who bow the knee to Him.”

Calvinist Concept: Here, David is singling out the phrase “brothers loved by God,” which in context means that they are believers, as a springboard for answering the following question which he only implies, rather than ask outright: Why did they respond positively to the gospel when others have not? David says that these people didn’t respond positively to the gospel because they were “better” than those who rejected it. The Calvinist is specifically objecting to the non-Calvinist claim that in order for man to be responsible for his decision, then he must have the ability (or free will in the libertarian sense) to make it.

Non-Calvinist Perspective: This is a question not even being addressed by the text he is discussing. A non-Calvinist wouldn’t say those who respond positively are in some way “better” than those who don’t. However, Calvinists believe that is a logical conclusion of the non-Calvinist doctrine of salvation, and this is a commonly way that they argue against it. In my opinion, this is a Calvinist argument that has no substance, but it certainly sounds pious when they make it: What? Do you think you’re better than someone who chose to reject the gospel?


46:28: [The following is commentary on the phrase “that He has chosen you.”] “This is the sweet biblical doctrine of election, that contrary to popular distortion, is never a doctrine to just rouse our curiosity. […] You know why it’s given to us? To humble our pride.”

Calvinist Concept: Again, the Calvinist believes that the ability to accept or reject the gospel, gives grounds to those who accept to become prideful. By contrast, they believe that God choosing who He will elect to salvation prior to Creation, not based on anything He foreknew about us, can only result in humility.

Non-Calvinist Perspective: The ultimate irony is that Calvinists as a whole have earned the stereotype of displaying the exact opposite, which is something most Calvinists even acknowledge. As mentioned in Part 2 of this series, The Gospel Coalition is a Calvinist organization, yet they discuss one common stereotype in their article, Why Are Calvinists So Mean?:

“The stereotype of the mean Calvinist exists for a reason. There’s a reason, after all, that clichés become clichés. If you spend any time in evangelical social media or have a more traveled experience in evangelical churches, you’ve been on the receiving end of a mean Calvinist before. If you’re like me, you’ve wondered at some point, ‘Why do those who subscribe to the doctrines of grace frequently seem so graceless? Is there something in particular about Calvinism that makes people mean?’”

The article goes on to explain a number of reasons for why Calvinism has earned this stigma and a call to action to repair the damage.


46:50 – 47:24: David has us turn to Deuteronomy 7, where he reads verses 6 and 7. These verses are about God’s election of Israel as His people, which was not based on anything they did to earn it.


47:24: “So why did God choose Israel then? Verse 8, ‘But it is because the Lord loves you and is keeping the oath He swore to your fathers.’ That’s why He chose you. This doctrine is not meant to satisfy our curiosity, it’s meant to pommel our pride. There is nothing good in me that God saw that would make Him want to make me His child. Simply that He loved me. It humbles our pride, and guess what? It solidifies our hope. Man, if He saw me and brought me into His family when there was nothing good in me, then guess what? There’s nothing I can do to sin outside of His family. I can’t sin my way away from His family. […] This truth should humble our pride, solidify our hope. It should thrill our heart, and it should encourage our witness.”

Non-Calvinist Perspective/De-Calvinized Scripture: There are several things to point out here:

1. David had to leave 1Thessalonians, the text he is using to assert the Calvinist doctrine of election, to go to a completely different text to assert the doctrine. 1 Thessalonians just does not say what he needs it to say.

2. The text that he goes to, Deuteronomy 7, is not a text about individual election to salvation, yet that is how he is applying it. Deuteronomy 7 is a text about corporate election: God’s selection of a nation as His people. You do not have to read very far into the Old Testament to see that not every single Israelite was one of God’s people.

3. Not only is the text about corporate election, it is certainly not about electing a people to the exclusion of other peoples, which is the point the Calvinist needs to prove from the text. As Dr. Harwood points out:

“God’s choice of a nation entailed a responsibility to his mission. Israel was God’s chosen servant (Isa 41:8-9; 42:1-25; 43:9-13; and others), and they were to be a light to the nations (Isa 42:6; 49:1-7). […] God explained in Isaiah 49:6 why he desired Israel to be a light to the gentiles; he wanted to save people of other nations. Election never meant God loved only one group. Charlie Trimm concludes, ‘Israel’s election did not automatically entail the condemnation of other nations.’ Rather, God chose one group (Jews) to love them and reach others (gentiles).” (Christian Theology, p. 596)

4. As we’ve mentioned previously, this doctrine is not doing a good job of promoting humility among those who adhere to it. In fact, they are stereotypically the opposite.

5. David’s last purpose seems to be to inspire comfort in the Calvinist concept of perseverance of the saints. He says here that he cannot “sin my way away from His family.” This is true, as far as it goes. However, he has preached several sermons indicating that if you are living a life that does not show fruit of your election, if you do not persevere until the end of your life, then you are simply not one of the elect. As Patton’s article (cited above in the comments for David’s March 28, 2021 sermon) concludes, many Calvinists are not finding any assurance at all in this doctrine. Rather they are feeling absolutely horrified by the thought that their faith could be superficial, that they might be non-elect, and therefore unalterably bound for hell since before Creation.


David then goes on to cite J.I. Packer’s definition of a Christian, which is “…the knowledge of God as one’s holy Father.”

50:30: “What’s a Christian? A Christian is someone who has God as his Father. And why has God become our Father? Because He loves us. It’s that simple.”

Calvinist Concept: Again, David is asserting that the only reason God is our Father is because He chose to love us specifically, before Creation.

Non-Calvinist Perspective: It certainly seems reasonable to assert the opposite then: if God is not our Father, it is because He does not love us. It’s equally that simple.


The following is David’s commentary on the phrase, “…because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction…”

54:20: “When we preached the gospel to you, we felt power. We felt convicted. […] Right now, somebody’s being changed. […] We’ve said the words, but something’s happening that did not happen in Athens. Did not happen in other places. But it happened here. What happened? The Holy Spirit is coming upon us, right?”

Calvinist Concept/De-Calvinized Scripture: David is saying that Paul was assuring the Thessalonian believers that they were, in fact, God’s elect in the Calvinistic sense. James Leonard (an Arminian) sums up the Calvinist view of this passage, making it more clear than David has, and includes his own rebuttal:

“Paul’s preaching ministry in Thessalonica was cut short due to intense persecution. Indeed, when Paul fled Thessalonica, the new believers became the object of persecution. As a group, they were newly designated the scum of the earth, worthy of disdain and contempt.

“In this context, Paul wrote 1 Thessalonians, assuring them of their election (‘God has chosen you’ τὴν ἐκλογὴν ὑμῶν). This term ‘election’ (ἐκλογή) gets Calvinists all excited, and causes many-an- inadequately-theologized sermon to go awry.

“Election is not about Calvinistic determinism, not about an arbitrary divine decision prior to the founding of the world, not input or irresistible stimulus provoking a mechanical response in automatons, not an impersonal process. No, none of this.

“Election is about God conferring a special status to believers–and herein lies the glory and praiseworthiness of election. These believers whom society berated and designated them as scum, are reminded by Paul that to God, they were elect.

“Paul could have chosen some other term of salvation in v. 4 (e.g., ‘For we know, brothers and sisters loved by God, that he has redeemed/saved/rescued (etc.) you…’). But he purposefully chose the term ‘election’ precisely to counter the opponents’ derision of the Thessalonian believers and to convey that, of all peoples on the earth, the Thessalonian believers were precious, beloved, and privileged by God.

“Praise the Lord that, despite what the world thinks of us, God has bestowed upon us this privileged status of election. And this privilege is for all who believe.” (Election in 1 Thessalonians: Assurance for Persecuted Believers)

Ben Henshaw points out an additional issue with the Calvinist interpretation of this text:

“Calvinists contend that election cannot be certain until one perseveres to the end in saving faith. They maintain that many seem to receive the gospel and even live with impressive testimonies, but ultimately prove that they were never elect when they eventually fall away. This would make it impossible for Paul to be certain of their elect status simply because they seemed to initially receive the gospel.”

“Furthermore, if Paul had full confidence in their election based solely on their initial reception, why then does he tell them that after that event he feared that they might not have continued in the faith (3:5)?”

“However, if my interpretation is correct and election is conditioned on faith union with Christ, then Paul could express confidence in their election based on their initial response to the gospel.” (How Does the Arminian Understanding of Soteriology Deal with the Text of 1 Thessalonians 1:2-4?)

September 25, 2022:

1:11:34: “God’s wrath, don’t misunderstand, it’s never impulsive anger aimed just capriciously at people He doesn’t like. God’s wrath is the settled, determined response of a holy God against sin.”

Mixed Messaging/Non-Calvinist Perspective: This is a very confusing statement in light of David’s previous message. Two weeks prior, he made abundantly clear that we are only Christian, only a part of God’s family, due to the fact that He loved us, specifically. It seems fair to then conclude (even though many Calvinists do not) that we are non-Christian simply because God chose not to love us, specifically. Who goes to hell? Those who are not part of God’s family. It is fair to say that God’s wrath isn’t impulsive or capricious. But is it fair to say that God’s wrath isn’t aimed at people He just doesn’t like? Not according to his September 11, 2022 sermon. David and other Calvinists may not like that this is a logical conclusion from their systematic, but that doesn’t change the reality that it is.


At some point in 2022, although I’m not sure exactly when, the next pastor’s wife-led women’s Bible study took place. The study was based off of Gloria Furman’s book Alive in Him, which is a study of the book of Ephesians. Again, both Furman and this book are recommended by The Gospel Coalition, which only endorses Calvinist authors. This was the second of two women’s Bible studies utilizing materials from a Calvinist perspective. Members were not informed either time of the theological leaning of the materials.


October 2, 2022:

43:58: “Now, let me just press into something real quick. […] We tend to agonize over outsiders. Those who do not profess faith in Jesus. We agonize over them: ‘Oh, I just pray they Tom will come to know the Lord before he dies.’ […] I’ve shared the gospel, I’ve shared the gospel, I’ve shared the gospel. And nowhere in the New Testament do you see that kind of agony. Now you see Paul in Romans 9 and Romans 10 talking about his great desire for his countrymen, his kinsmen, to be saved. And he says, ‘that’s my prayer for them,’ but he’s praying for them, but he doesn’t seem to agonize over them. The people he does agonize over are not those who need to be saved, but those who need to be sanctified… Those who are on the outside, who have not come to the Lord yet, he tends to have the mentality, ‘Alright, God. I’m gonna preach, and share the gospel, and then You work.”

 Non-Calvinist Perspective: Let’s see what exactly Paul says in Romans 9:1-3:

“I am speaking the truth in Christ—I am not lying; my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit— 2 that I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. 3 For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh.” (ESV)

Does Paul seem to be “agonizing” over his kinsmen? The text says that he has “unceasing anguish in his heart.” He says that he literally wishes he could trade his own salvation for theirs. David is way off the mark here. I believe this is an excellent insight into the apathy the Calvinist system encourages in the heart of some Calvinists toward this nebulous group of “non-elect.”


October 16, 2022:

Three weeks prior to the youth lesson, David finally preached on the Calvinist view of the “wills of God,” plural, to the entire congregation.


46:54: “Sometimes, when we see the phrase ‘will of God,’ that is referring to God’s ‘will of decree.’ […] So, this is God’s will as the great author of the story of the universe, scripting the story of the universe from eternity past to eternity present. […] Y’all with me? All things, including pass interference calls, are being worked together according to the council of His will.” (emphasis mine)

Non-Calvinist Perspective: I bolded the term “author.” Remember, Calvinists reject the idea that God is the “author” of sin. However, David is clearly stating his belief in exhaustive divine determinism here. He says that God is the author, scripting the story of everything that comes to pass in the universe, down to the pass interference calls in football games.


48:06: “Sometimes you see the phrase ‘will of God,’ it’s not speaking of God’s will of decree, it’s speaking of God’s ‘will of direction.’ […] This is often what we refer to when we say, ‘Hey, what’s God’s will for my life?’ […] Sometimes it’s not God’s will of decree of will of direction, it’s God’s ‘will of desire.’ […] Meaning this is what God wants us to do.

Non-Calvinist Perspective: I have no idea why David has broken this concept up into three wills for the purpose of this sermon. In his presentation to the youth and then later to the youth parents’, he spoke of two wills. It appears that he is using both the “will of direction” and “will of desire” to express what is generally meant by “will of desire.”

Calvinist Concept: Regardless, David is clearly teaching that there is a distinction between God’s “will of desire” or “will of direction,” which is what He says He wants for you (i.e., to repent, to believe, to enter into relationship with Him), and His “will of decree,” which is what He has determined before Creation will occur, just as an author writes a script.


49:03: “And we have a choice to do it or not [God’s will of desire]. Now, when it comes to God’s will of decree, what are we to do? We are to trust it. [chuckles] That’s all you can do. […] When it comes to God’s will of direction, what are we to do? We’re to discern it. […] But then what do we do with God’s will of desire? […] It’s easy church! We obey it.”

Mixed Messaging: These statements are absolutely incomprehensible. The entire premise of the Calvinist doctrine of compatibilist free will, which David has affirmed that he holds, it to rule out the possibility that the non-elect have the choice available to them to align themselves with God’s will of desire. David has just stated that man has a choice, and insinuated that this choice is based on a libertarian concept of free will: to do or to not do a particular proposition (in this case, repent and believe).

Calvinist Concept: According to compatibilist free will (which we’ve already defined above)  they cannot choose to comply with God’s will of desire, because they must act in accordance with their own desires, which again, based on the Calvinist doctrine of total inability will always be opposed to God’s will of desire.

Mixed Messaging: He then goes further, and says that “it’s easy” for us to obey God’s will of desire. David does not believe in any way, shape, or form that the non-elect have the ability to thwart God’s will of decree (in which as author, He has scripted every single, solitary thing that will come to pass) by obeying His will of desire that they come to Him in repentance and belief.


October 23, 2022:

On this date, David preaches on 1 Thessalonians 4 and provides varying perspectives on eschatology (theology of the end times). This sermon is not available online. He states his view, explaining that he differs from the majority held Baptist view of a rapture event in which believers will be removed from the earth during the time period referred to as the tribulation.

Non-Calvinist Perspective: This sermon was an excellent example, in my opinion, of David preaching a message in which he clearly and respectfully presents differing views, facilitates unity by reiterating that these are secondary level doctrines, followed by a clear statement of his own views. This is not what we’ve ever seen from him with regard to his preaching of Calvinist doctrine. Therefore, in my opinion, this sermon serves as excellent evidence that he has never intended to facilitate unity with regard to that topic. We’ve now seen what it looks like when facilitating unity genuinely is his goal, and the past two and a half years’ worth of messages are not that.


So, That’s How it Happened

Those are the sermons that led up to the fiasco of a youth Sunday school lesson two weeks later, on November 6, 2022, in which David gave his presentation of what he refers to as the “Biblical doctrine of election.” In retrospect, I can see the scenario from both sides: David’s and the congregation’s.

From David’s point of view, he started us out slow. He began his ministry giving us the impression that he held to a non-Calvinist, “rope to a drowning man,” version of the doctrine of salvation. He was well aware that we were a historically majority non-Calvinist fellowship. The membership would be listening to his introductory sermons with heightened awareness.

Three months later,  in his October 4, 2020 sermon, he clearly laid out that he holds several Calvinist distinctives: he compared Paul’s election to a role with individual election to salvation, explicitly taught regeneration before faith, explicitly taught that God chose you for salvation before you were born, and asserted that none of those negate man’s responsibility. However, he softens the blow with a dose of mixed messaging, stating that God will send His effectual call if you will choose to hear it.

For two months after this information-packed sermon, David doesn’t discuss Calvinist concepts for the most part. It seems reasonable that he was waiting to see if he’d get any push-back from his October 4th revelations. I’m assuming that he didn’t, because from about the sixth month forward, he increases the frequency of sermons including Calvinist content, and becomes even more explicit. However, he always stops short of fully defining terms.

Considering that he had reached the point that he was regularly preaching full-on Calvinism from the pulpit, I cannot imagine he had any concern that the youth lesson would cause any problems, despite the fact that I had visited him to voice my personal misgivings. After all, what could the concern of one woman and her 17-year old son amount to in the overall scheme of things?

The youth room appears to be the only area in which the topic of Calvinist versus non-Calvinist perspectives were being broached on any level at all, and that was mostly attributable to my son asking questions and presenting alternative Scriptural interpretations. Considering this context, I can understand why David felt the time had arrived when he could unilaterally make the decision to preach the Calvinist doctrine of election to the exclusion of the non-Calvinist view, even though the youth pastor had asked him to present both. This was a calculated move to advance his goal of “reforming” our church.

I can also understand now why, when I met with him privately, David was completely unwilling to either pull the Grudem systematic theology text as curriculum for the youth that semester, or to even provide a non-Calvinist resource alongside it. Why would he? At this stage, he didn’t feel that it was necessary to even give the appearance of taking practical steps toward fostering unity between the two theological perspectives.

I also believe this is the reason that David failed to follow through with his commitment to me that he would tell the parents that this curriculum was, to use his preferred term, “reformed.” According to the stealth Calvinist take-over instruction guides, the use of identifying labels is to be avoided at all costs. Church members are far more likely to recognize and oppose the labels even if they aren’t able to detect the principles when they’re preached.

I feel justified in concluding that even if David was still uncomfortable utilizing recognizable terminology, he was wholly confident that he had succeeded in leading the congregation to accept explicit Calvinist principles to the rejection of non-Calvinist distinctives.

However, when David gave the presentation to the youth in a step-by-step systematic theology context complete with visuals on a white board, most of the kids were able to read between the lines, clearly grasp the Calvinist concepts, and connect dots that adults had not connected in over two years’ worth of messages. Many of the youth were extremely upset, and when they explained the finer points of what David taught that day, their parents were both upset and confused.

The irony is too great to ignore. David’s implementation of a strategy for introducing Calvinism by degrees, avoiding identifying vocabulary, softening Calvinist concepts with mixed messaging and superficial/incomplete definition of terms, along with Calvinism’s inherent contradictions left unexplained, had not yielded a majority Calvinist congregation. It had yielded a congregation who largely thought they were on the same page with the pastor only to find that they were not. From the perspective of the majority of the congregation, this lesson came right out of the blue.

Given this context, David’s explanation in his November 27, 2022 sermon for why his presentation to the youth caused an “eruption of confusion,” because “it wasn’t the right time,” is packed with far more meaning than meets the eye. David had misjudged the status of his agenda to “reform” Arab First Baptist Church. Chaos ensued. The church wanted unity in our diversity. David wanted to win.

Go back to Part 4




Anatomy of a Church Split: Part 4

Part 4: My Testimony as a Member of Arab First Baptist; Full Disclosure

What follows is my personal testimony, interspersed with my commentary, of the events occurring at Arab First Baptist beginning on Wednesday, August 10, 2022 and continuing to the time of this writing. Testimony from Jack Dixon regarding her experiences beginning in November of 2022 are also presented. This testimony includes the evidence that I possess to corroborate my story. I have blacked out all names with the exception of mine, my son’s, Jack’s, and David Kizziah’s. However, where necessary for the understanding of the narrative, I have labeled the position of the party involved.

August – September 2022:

After the Wednesday night Bible study on August 10,2022, my 17 year-old son, Kane, found a box of books against the wall in the youth room and asked the youth pastor what they were and if he could have a look. The youth pastor explained that they were the books David had chosen to use as the curriculum for the upcoming youth semester and readily passed him a copy. The book was Wayne Grudem’s Christian Beliefs: Twenty Basics Every Christian Should Know.

Knowing that Wayne Grudem is Calvinist, Kane asked if he could take a book home to look over. The youth pastor had no problem with this.

Wayne Grudem is a well-known and highly respected Calvinist theologian. I personally hold him in high regard and agree with numerous stances that he takes, with the exception, of course, of his staunch Calvinism. In the “Preface to the First Edition,” Grudem states:

“This book is a summary of twenty basic beliefs that every Christian should know.”

“It is a condensed version of my book Bible Doctrine (528 pages), and that itself is a condensed version of my Systematic Theology (1,290 pages). My son Elliot Grudem, an MDiv graduate from Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, Florida, has done an excellent job in saving the most essential sections from those earlier books…”

After looking the book over himself, Kane brought the book to me on that same Wednesday night. He explained that this book was intended as curriculum for the upcoming youth semester and told me that he thought I should have a look, adding that he didn’t think I’d be happy about it. I recognized Grudem immediately, but since the title seemed to indicate that this was simply a teaching on twenty beliefs that are basic for every Christian to know I was not alarmed. That changed when I realized that this book was actually a condensed version of his systematic theology, and that the twenty “basic beliefs” included several explicitly Calvinist distinctives such as the Calvinist version of election and predestination; irresistible grace, including a break-down of the “general” versus “effective” Gospel call; compatibilism presented as the “Biblical” definition of free will; regeneration preceding faith; and original sin as inherited guilt. This list is by no means exhaustive.

In all honestly, I was shocked and more than a little confused. The youth pastor seemed to be completely fine with this text, yet I was all but certain that he was not a proponent of Calvinism. I also believed that the majority of the youth parents were not Calvinist. Historically, Arab First Baptist has been a non-Calvinist church, though I was aware that there were a few Calvinist or Calvinist leaning members. The following day, August 11th, I sent the email below to the youth pastor.

YP = youth pastor



I did not receive a reply from the youth pastor. However,  Pastor David Kizziah sent me the reply below on Friday, August 12th.




As you can see, the tone is direct, yet friendly and respectful. Notice that I have outlined in red where David readily told me that he agrees with Grudem on every Calvinist point of contention I raised. I understand his following statement (“How do I articulate what the Bible teaches about free will? Original sin? Etc… This is our hope for our students. This is what is ‘basic.’”) to mean that it is his hope to teach the Calvinist view of free will, original sin, etc to the youth as doctrines that are “basic” to Christianity.

However, he also follows that by indicating that the youth will be able to “work that out on the anvil” of discussion and good hermeneutics. I was both encouraged and troubled by that last statement. On the one hand, I was happy that Kane would be allowed to question these teachings and explain the non-Calvinist interpretations of key Scriptures, which was something I felt reasonably confident in his ability to do. On the other hand, I was uncomfortable that this scenario could potentially come across as my 17-year old being pitted against authority.

That same day, I sent the following reply to David.


My tone is very friendly and respectful, and I obviously hold a high view of his character. I answered his questions clearly, and clarified that I have not personally had any negative experiences with Calvinism.

At this time I did reach out to my friend Jack Dixon, who was a youth leader, because I wanted to have at least one person that was aware of the situation other than just David, myself, and my son. I brought her the book, showed her my email correspondence with the youth pastor and David, as well as the Word document I attached to my original email to the youth pastor. I didn’t think that she and her family were Calvinist, and I wanted to show her what was planned for the upcoming semester. I told her that David and I would be scheduling a meeting. In later correspondence we set a meeting time for the following Thursday, August 18th, at 10:30 am.

The tone of our meeting was also friendly. I re-stated much of what is in the email above. He was nothing but genial and forthcoming in explaining his doctrinal views to me, confirming that they are in alignment with what Grudem presents in the text he selected for the youth. I explained that I had become aware from his sermons that he was Calvinist shortly after he arrived. I told him that during the time when we were searching for a pastor, I had asked the Associate Pastor (who had since moved on to a different congregation) what he thought the odds were that a Calvinist pastor would be hired, and that he told me he didn’t think that was likely considering our history as a non-Calvinist congregation. However, I told him that I was content to remain, despite the fact that I did not support the use of the Grudem text as a curriculum for the youth.

He asked me once again if I had had bad experiences with Calvinists or Calvinism in my past. I reiterated to him that I had not personally had any negative experiences with Calvinists or Calvinism. I expressed to him that I did not think it was fair to the non-Calvinist youth leaders to expect them to teach Calvinist doctrine. He indicated that they’d be free to teach the lessons as they liked. I told him that I thought this might put them in an uncomfortable position, and I also told him that I was concerned that some of them might not be equipped to articulate non-Calvinist interpretations of the passages the book presents Calvinistically. I asked if he would consider supplying a non-Calvinist resource of his choosing alongside the Grudem text. He declined to do so.

He did express his desire for us all to be unified in our diversity. The meeting lasted for about an hour, and at the end David asserted that he would not consider pulling the text, or supplying a non-Calvinist resource. However, he asked me if there was some other measure that would allow me to leave the meeting satisfied. I asked if he would at least make the youth parents aware that the curriculum is Calvinist so that they could prepare responses to give their children, rather than being taken completely off guard. He said that he did not want to use the word “Calvinist,” because he considered it to be inflammatory. However, he said that he would tell the youth parents that the curriculum was “Reformed.” He confirmed to me at that time that he uses the two terms synonymously.

It did bother me that he was unwilling to even consider supplying a non-Calvinist text despite the fact that he acknowledged that the majority of the youth leaders and parents are not Calvinist. Despite that, David was never rude or angry during the meeting. I was at least relieved that he had agreed to make the parents aware that it was a “Reformed” text, although I was concerned that some parents might not know what that meant. Honestly, I hoped this measure would be enough to cause other parents to voice the same concerns that I had, and perhaps we could get a non-Calvinist resource added to the curriculum. Overall, I would say that I left the meeting uneasy, but not yet concerned about his character.

On August 23rd, the youth pastor sent the following email to the youth parents in announcement of the upcoming semester.


I was upset. Although the name of the book was included, there was no mention that it was a Reformed text, which was the one thing David had told me that he would do. I also noticed that some of the youth parents had been left off the email list, and that of those left off, some were individuals I knew to be non-Calvinist. I am not saying that I believe this was intentional. I’m just stating that these parents did not get the heads up that I had been promised they would get.

Most youth parents have absolutely no idea who Wayne Grudem is, much less than he is Calvinist. Furthermore, the title seems to indicate that the book is a primer on basic Christian beliefs. I doubted that this would raise red flags for anyone.  As parents, we trust the Pastor and the Youth Pastor to provide materials that we would find acceptable. In the context of our historically non-Calvinist church, not a single one of us would expect our youth program to be teaching Calvinism 101 as basic Christian doctrine.

I wasn’t sure what to do. In hindsight, I should have gone back to him and asked him why he didn’t disclose that the book is Reformed as he had agreed to do. But I didn’t. Instead, I reached out to a deacon that I respected, and that Kane particularly looked up to. Kane told me that this deacon had given a presentation at some point in the past detailing why he disagreed with Calvinism. He has a child in the youth program, so I believed that he was a good choice. He also happened to be one of the youth parents that was left off the announcement email recipient list. I sent him the email below on August 25th.



He replied to me that day with the email below.



I didn’t hear back from him for quite some time, but I had also told him there was no rush, and that I had mainly wanted to make him aware.

In the interim, I had decided to let some of the parents that I knew for sure were not Calvinist know about the book, which had already begun to be taught by this time. I agonized over whether or not this was the right thing to do, but I truly felt like I had been painted into a corner. If the situation were reversed and I was a non-Calvinist parent who had no idea that my child was being taught Calvinist doctrine as basic Christianity, I would certainly want to know, if for no other reason than to allow me to have my own conversations with my kids about the topic.

This amounted to 2 parents at the time. I just hadn’t had conversations with the others that would indicate to me where they stood.  I mentioned it (very awkwardly) to the children’s minister’s wife in between Wednesday night children’s service activities.  I was certain that they weren’t Calvinist, but her response made me think perhaps they were okay with the material (they have kids in youth too). I didn’t say anything else to her about it. I now know that she really didn’t pick up on exactly what it was I was telling her. I had been super awkward about it. No to mention the fact that I had brought it up when there were quite a lot of distractions going on around us. I told one other parent, who was also displeased, and asked me to keep her updated on the reply from the leadership I had reached out to.

In the meantime, the book was being used for the curriculum, and Kane would report to me what he had said at each meeting and how it was received. It wasn’t a great situation, but so far nothing earth shattering had occurred.

On September 14th, I received the following reply from the deacon I had made aware of the situation.



I was encouraged that he said he would be bringing this to the attention of the deacons and ministerial staff. However, I never heard anything else about that. I replied to him with the email below on September 21st.

YL = youth leader



November 2022:

The Sunday School Lesson

This is the month that everything went south. The lesson in the curriculum on election was coming up, and the youth pastor reached out to David to ask him to come give a “two views” style lesson in which he would give both the Calvinist and non-Calvinist views of election like he had done for some of the youth the year before. The youth pastor told Kane that he thought he would be pleased, because David had agreed to present both views of election in the upcoming lesson. Kane was encouraged by this news. I told my friend, the children’s minister’s wife, what Kane had been told so they’d be aware.

On November 6th, David gave the presentation to the youth during Sunday School. He did not give two views; he gave only the Calvinist view. There was a lot of confusion. The youth pastor had not been present, however there were a few youth leaders in attendance, one of which was Jack Dixon. Below is a picture that Kane took of the white board that David used in teaching the lesson.



If you are unfamiliar with Calvinism, you may need to refer to Part 2 of this series in order to get a better understanding of what is being taught on this board. David has listed the Calvinist order of salvation, which places God’s choice of the “elect” first. According to Calvinism, He chose the “elect” before Creation, not based on anything He foreknew about any individual. Calvinists don’t like to use the word “arbitrary” to describe the choice, but it does get the point across accurately nonetheless.

After that comes the Gospel call. If you are elect, your Gospel call will be what is called “effective,” meaning He will regenerate you, thus enabling and ensuring that you will respond in faith/repentance/belief, and be saved . If you are non-elect, the Gospel call you receive is what Calvinists refer to as “general.” God will not regenerate you, and you will not be able to even desire to have faith, repent, or believe, so your call will not be “effective,” and you will not be saved.

The umbrella of “sovereign will” over “free will” denotes the Calvinist definition of both God’s sovereign will and man’s free will. Calvinists view God’s sovereign will as equivalent with exhaustive divine determinism (though many don’t like to use the word “determinism”). Instead of defining free will in the libertarian sense (one can choose to do or not do a particular proposition, i.e., choose to either accept or reject the Gospel), they define it in the compatibilistic sense (you’re “free” because you choose to do what you want to do; however, you cannot want to accept the Gospel unless you have been regenerated).

Kane explained to me that David opened the lesson by citing Deuteronomy 29:29 which reads:

“29 “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.” (ESV)

Calvinists cite this verse as corroboration that some of the ways God interacts with us are mysterious and difficult to understand. Kane says he used the example of the Trinity (i.e., it’s difficult to understand how God can be both 1 and 3, but we know it’s true). In my opinion, this is an unconvincing argument. It’s perfectly reasonable to accept that my finite mind is not capable of grasping the details of the metaphysical existence of the Creator of the universe. It’s not reasonable to convince myself to accept two mutually exclusive truths as true at the same time and call it a “mystery.” Especially, when there are valid reasons not to accept that those two mutually exclusive truths are simultaneously true. As Calvinist Paul Helm has cautioned, that “could be license to accept nonsense.”

Kane says that David then began to go through the usual Calvinist proof texts: Ephesians 1:11, Ephesians 2:8-9, Romans 8, etc. During this time, Kane says that David explicitly taught exhaustive divine determinism and compatibilist free will (but neither by name). Next, Kane says that he explained that God has decrees and He has desires. You can see those two words written on the white board. (see the Calvinist view of the two wills of God in Part 2).

Somewhere around this point, Kane tells me that he raised his hand to counter some of the points David was giving with a non-Calvinist perspective. He said he literally only got one word out: “Well,” before David stopped him and asked him to hold all questions until the end, after which Kane did not speak or raise his hand again until the end.

Kane says at that point, David “strongly implied” that some people disagree with this theology for emotional rather than rational reasons, and that some consider it “unfair.” To illustrate all of this, David gave the common Calvinist analogy of God as author and humans as characters. He gave two examples here: one of Star Wars and one of Harry Potter.

With regard to Star Wars, he explained that God is analogous with George Lucas. He pre-determined absolutely everything that would occur, down to everything each character is and everything each character does. He then said something to the effect of: But when you’re watching the movie, and Darth Vader does something horrible, who do you blame, Darth Vader or George Lucas?” He answered his own question saying that, of course, we blame Darth Vader! David further explained that as author, God has decrees that will certainly come to pass. However, he also has desires that appear to be contrary to those decrees. For example, God does not desire that Darth Vader be evil and do evil things, however, as author, He has unchangeably decreed that Darth Vader will indeed be and do both.

When David ended his presentation, Kane was allowed to respond. He says that he picked the random starting place of explaining the non-Calvinist interpretation of Romans 8. He says David said that he was unfamiliar with his argument. Kane tells me that David then shut down his questions, saying that it would be better if they continued their discussion in private because Kane was using words that the rest of the room didn’t understand. Kane said he had merely used the word “soteriology,” which he followed by defining as “doctrine of salvation.”

Kane was angry. More than a few kids were completely confused. Some kids and even one of the youth leaders were coming to Jack and asking her all kinds of questions she couldn’t answer at the moment. Apparently they did feel comfortable asking David these questions. Jack has given me permission to supply the text conversation that took place between her and the youth pastor immediately after the meeting.



I want to point out that Jack’s attitude toward David here is certainly one of respect. She says that David handled everything with respect, and she clearly believes that David will agree to come address the youth again to clear up confusion. She also expresses concern that David not “feel attacked.”

There was a church picnic scheduled the evening of November 6th. Kane was still so upset about the day’s events that we didn’t attend. By evening, the children’s minister had also become aware that some children and parents were upset. He approached David at the picnic and encouraged him to clarify to the parents what had happened. David told him that there was no issue; only a couple of people had problems with the lesson.

The following Tuesday, November 8th, the youth pastor meets with David and requests that he come address the youth again, allowing them to ask questions and to clear up the confusion. David told the youth pastor to have the kids submit their questions in writing, then David would provide him with a script of his answers to read to the kids. The youth pastor did not agree to this, and continued to request that David come and address the youth in person. David relented and instructed the youth pastor to have the kids submit their questions in writing.

The next night, at the Wednesday night youth meeting, Jack and the youth pastor encouraged the kids to submit questions. Ultimately, Kane was the only one to submit questions that I am aware of. In my opinion, this was not because the kids didn’t have questions. Jack sure had fielded plenty. Ultimately, David refused to come address the kids again, saying that since only one had submitted a question, he would just meet privately, one-on-one, with any youth who expressed the desire to do so.

At this point, I was beginning to re-consider my view of his character, but I was still admonishing myself to give him the benefit of the doubt wherever possible, and to wait and see how things played out. He had not reached out to me or to my son at any point.

The following Sunday, November 13th, Jack got to church early to speak with David herself. It was not a scheduled meeting. When she went back to see him, the youth pastor was there as well. She expressed that she was disappointed in his handling of this situation so far. She explained that kids were addressing questions to her about his presentation, and that she felt that put her in a bad position. She is not Calvinist, therefore, any explanation that she gave would be from a non-Calvinist point of view. She felt that this placed her in the position of appearing disrespectful of his authority. He replied that he didn’t know what she meant. She answered that the kids had questions, but he would not agree to come answer them personally. He replied that no one had come to him with questions, she appeared to be the only one. Additionally, he told her that if she was feeling this way, he believed that she must be experiencing spiritual conviction over what he had taught during the lesson and that they should have a one-on-one meeting at a later date. This upset her, and she told David that she was not convicted, that she knows what she believes, and that she did not need a one-on-one with him. She added that if people weren’t coming to him with their questions, then it seems that he has an authority issue, not that she had a conviction issue.

At this point, she saw that he was angry. He asked her what she thought should happen? She answered that she believed he should schedule a meeting with the youth and youth parents in order to discuss what happened and clear any confusion. He told her to go find people that wanted to meet and he would do so. She countered that she was not going to allow him to put that task on her, because it would give the impression that she was the one orchestrating this whole thing. She indicated that he and the youth pastor should schedule a meeting and invite the youth and parents. Ultimately, the youth pastor sent out a text to the youth parents with the date, indicating that David wanted to meet with us to clarify recent events. The texts below are from the youth pastor to Jack after the meeting with David described above.



It is clear that by this point, I was not the only one questioning David’s behavior. David’s treatment of Jack in the meeting was understandably a turning point for her. A youth parent had even reached out to Jack with suspicions that David could have ulterior motives.  It is also obvious to me that the youth pastor already seems to believe that David will not be forthcoming with the youth parents unless someone is present to ask questions that he can’t skirt. Again, the children’s minister reached out to David to encourage him to address the situation. He was told again that there was no situation.

It should also be noted that when Jack talked to the chairman of the deacon’s wife about this, she sent Jack a PowerPoint presenting the doctrines of TULIP. She and I knew that the chairman of the deacon’s family were Calvinist, because Jack had asked his wife directly at our kids’ robotics tournament earlier that weekend. She replied that they were 4-point Calvinists. This took me a little by surprise since she had not been Calvinist when we attended Tuesday women’s Bible study together in previous years, though I had not discussed the topic with her in quite some time.

She and I talked and both agreed that since there was so much confusion about what Calvinism is, it would be beneficial if we could arrange to have David present the Calvinist view clearly and a respected non-Calvinist pastor present the non-Calvinist view.  After that discussion, the chairman of the deacon’s wife sent that TULIP PowerPoint to another female church member that had been sitting with us during this conversation, and to the children’s minister’s wife. I don’t know who else, if anyone, she sent a presentation to. I did not receive one.

At this point, I started to consider the fact that her husband had been on the pastor search committee. I remembered that she had told me back then that he had been tasked with delivering a presentation to the committee on Calvinism. I do not know if they had already become Calvinist at that time. At this particular time, I still believed that David’s character was such that he surely would have disclosed his doctrinal persuasions to the committee. With the information I had at that time, I made the assumption that the pastor search committee as a whole had known that David was Calvinist and had chosen not to disclose that to all of the deacons or to the congregation. I felt betrayed by this.

The conversation between Jack and the youth pastor continues below.



Here, the youth pastor expresses that he feels guilty, saying that he should’ve skipped the lesson. It should be stated that this fiasco was in no way his fault. This is a curriculum book that his pastor selected for him to use. He should not be in the position of having to censor information from the pastor’s chosen curriculum. Additionally, as Jack points out, David did not teach the lesson the youth pastor asked him to teach. It is also clear to all involved that without Jack’s persistence, David would never have agreed to hold this meeting. In truth, he had intentionally endeavored to avoid it. You can also see that Jack and I are already aware that we are, to some extent, being characterized as disgruntled women causing problems.


The Parent Meeting

The parent meeting was scheduled for November 16th. I had come prepared with my question typed up so I would state it properly, and some rebuttals to a few Calvinist claims in cases I needed them. I also brought my copy of Harwood’s Christian Theology. I felt sufficiently put off by this stage that I intended to be very direct with my question. I knew that most of the parents in the room were not aware of the interactions between myself and David at this point, nor were they aware of Jack’s. Therefore, I believed it was important for me to set my question in the proper context by explaining some of the backstory. I, personally, had no interest at all in discussing Calvinism. I wanted to hear him express actionable intent to facilitate unity in our congregation. So many parents attended that we had to move from the youth room to the much larger fireplace room downstairs.

We had been told previously that the meeting was only for parents, but I brought Kane. There were five deacons in attendance, one of which is also a youth leader. This night is like a blur to me due to the intensity of the emotions, the number of people speaking, and the length of the meeting. It was just a lot of content. I’ve don’t the best I can to recount what happened.

After everyone was seated the chairman of the deacons passed out a copy of the Baptist Faith and Message section on election, which is section V, “God’s Purpose of Grace”.

David then told everyone that he wanted to call this meeting to discuss and clear up any confusion from the lesson he had taught the youth. In actuality, he had been all but forced to have this meeting against his will. He began by giving a vague presentation of the Calvinist view of election, which he referred to as the “Biblical” doctrine of election. Since we had all just been handed a copy of the election section of the Baptist Faith and Message, it seemed clear to me that his intent in this style of presentation was to imply that if anyone disagrees with the doctrine of election as he had just explained it, then they are not in alignment with the Baptist Faith and Message. This is false since numerous non-Calvinist scholars and theologians affirm the Baptist Faith and Message. He used very vague terms and indicated that he thought the kids’ confusion was due to their “misunderstanding” of his lesson, nothing more. He then opened the floor for comments.

I raised my hand and told him that I had a question, but that it wasn’t related to Calvinism as I already understood quite well what Calvinism is. I stated that my question was phrased in a very direct manner,  because I felt that was best to get my point across, but that I hoped that it wouldn’t be interpreted as disrespectful since it was certainly not intended to be so. At the time, I didn’t realize that many in the room still did not know that he is Calvinist. In fact, at least one of the deacons that I’m aware of became aware for the first time that evening. I then read aloud the following question, which I have copied and pasted from the same Word document I had typed up for that evening:

“You expressed to me in a private meeting that, despite the fact that our church membership includes individuals who hold to Calvinist doctrines (or, to use the term you prefer, Reformed doctrines, you indicated to me that you use those terms synonymously) and those who do not, it is your desire that we be unified as a church body, being respectful of both historically traditional streams of Baptist belief. When I became aware, sheerly by Kane’s accidental discovery of the box of books the church ordered, that you had selected an explicitly Reformed text as a guide in teaching this semester’s youth program, which was billed to parents as a unit on “basic Christian beliefs,” you declined to accept my suggestion to provide a non-Calvinist text so that both views could be presented to the youth and so that the youth leaders would have a resource to rely upon to accurately articulate non-Calvinist views. It is not only that the Grudem text presents Reformed theology as basic Christian belief. The book goes further by functioning as an apologetic in which dissenting views are presented as inferior or less true to Scripture.  You did agree to inform all youth parents via mass email of the book being used and to directly disclose to them that this book explicitly teaches a Reformed systematic. However, while the email that was sent out did list the name of the book, it did not state in any way that it taught a “Reformed” systematic.  I also noticed that several parents were left off the email list and didn’t receive this information at all. If Kane hadn’t noticed those books and asked if he could take one home, I would have had no idea that he and Ella were about to be taught Reformed doctrine as “basic” Christian beliefs in Sunday School. Despite my efforts to go through the appropriate channels of authority with the goal of informing other parents, most have ultimately been put in the situation of being taken completely by surprise. Additionally, I have noticed that in both terms of the women’s Bible study, a Reformed text was chosen, and no one was informed of this fact. Admittedly, this has altered my initial overall perspective of our meeting and led me to the following question:

In what way are you facilitating unity in practical application by:

1. Intentionally choosing to present explicitly Calvinist doctrine to our youth as “basic” Christian belief, providing solely Calvinist resources while refusing  to provide non-Calvinist resources when requested, and

2. doing so in what appears to be an intentionally secretive manner?

David said a lot of words, but none of them had anything to do with answering any part of my question. He said a lot about what a respected theologian Wayne Grudem is, and how great the women’s Bible study books were. He insinuated that I was saying these materials were authored by individuals who weren’t respected, and went on a long monologue about various respected Calvinists and their deeds. I have no doubt that he knew that was not what I was saying at all.

He said that leaving parents off the email was unintentional. I replied sincerely that I had not intended to suggest that it was intentional, only to note that several had not received it, and were therefore uninformed. He never attempted to explain why the email had not stated that the youth curriculum is Reformed as he had assured me he would do. Overall he seemed to portray a sense of incredulity that anyone would consider any of those things an issue.

He also gave the impression that he didn’t  understand what I was asking him. I must not have been the only one who thought so, because two individuals spoke up to re-state to him my question so that he would respond. The first individual was a deacon’s wife and the second was a deacon. Other than this, no other deacon in attendance made any contribution to the discussion the entire evening, except when the chairman of the deacons called the meeting to a close a couple of hours later. David still did not answer the questions after they had been re-stated by the two individuals.

Many parents spoke up expressing their concerns about the confusion their children felt after his lesson. Some mentioned that their children were upset that it sounded like some people never have an opportunity to be saved. He maintained that the kids misunderstood his lesson and reverted to talking about the doctrine of election in such vague, watered down terms that I, to this day, cannot rationally believe he did not intend to be misleading and placating. To me, he seemed downright patronizing.

Kane kept shooting me shocked glances. David had been nothing but forthcoming about his beliefs in our private emails and in our private meeting. It completely took me off guard to hear him be so evasive to this entire group of people who had gathered with the expectation of honestly and transparency. Some were becoming even more confused than they had been when they arrived,  and it was written all over their faces. Frankly, I was disgusted with David’s handling of this situation by this juncture.

At some point someone asked a question about man’s responsibility. He replied that, of course, man is fully responsible. I knew that he was using the same vocabulary with a different dictionary, so I spoke up and said so. I stated that he had told me he held to a compatibilist definition of free will when most of the people in the room understand free will in the libertarian sense. I asked to explain what he meant by compatibilist free will. He went on for a bit saying things that had nothing to do with my request. I had no intention of making it easy for him to evade yet another important question, so I interrupted him and began giving the definition of compatibilism. At this point he raised his voice and attempted to cut me off several different times to prevent me from explaining the differing definitions. I defined them anyway.

Then, he asked me why I had “so much angst,” and asked me for the third time since August if I had had a bad experience with Calvinists that caused me to feel this way. I was furious. He knew well the answer to that question. I had answered it with abundant clarity twice before. It is my belief that he asked that question in order to make me appear as if I had irrational feelings toward Calvinists due to some mistreatment in my past.

Another youth parent explained that her daughter struggled with self-esteem issues. She asked David how he would recommend that he council her; how could she assure her daughter that she is valuable in God’s sight based on the view that only some people are “elect?” David went on for some time about God’s love for all. David’s youngest son had recently been born and he discussed how he was comforted about his son’s future. He seemed to me to be phrasing his response in such a way that the parents would be understanding him to say that all parents can indeed ensure their children that they are “elect.”

I spoke up and asked him how in the world he could suggest such a thing to any parent. According to the view he has confirmed to me that he holds, no parent has any reason to automatically assume that their child is elect. The look on his face after this statement was one that I interpreted as genuine shock and confusion. To this day, that is one of the most perplexing memories I have from this meeting. I don’t know if that look was feigned to give the impression that what I had said was ludicrous, or if he had genuinely never considered that one of his children would not be elect.

The youth pastor attempted to take responsibility for the whole ordeal by saying that he should never have asked David to teach the lesson, and that he should have been present. A parent quickly came to his defense, saying that this was not his fault in any way. A youth pastor should be able to have complete trust and faith in his pastor to teach a simple Sunday school lesson.

A couple of parents tried to give David a graceful way to reclaim the evening. One mentioned that she had given a lesson to kids before that they completely misunderstood, and she had to clarify later what she meant. He maintained that the kids had misunderstood, but still did not offer to provide any real clarifying remarks.

Another parent mentioned that if the kids misunderstood, they had all managed to misunderstand in the exact same way. David became quiet, sat on his stool and just listened to all the parents speaking. A deacon’s wife spoke up and said that her son had come home extremely upset after his lesson and told her and her husband that it felt as if there was evil in the room the entire time. One parent after another spoke up. He broke his silence to say that maybe he just wasn’t the right pastor for this church. This seemed a bit melodramatic to me since all he needed to do was apologize, agree to offer additional resources, and call it a day.

Shortly afterward, the chairman of the deacons called an end to the meeting, and went to bat for David in his closing remarks. He said that David had a true heart for missions and that he himself had been to Africa with him. If anyone has ever questioned David’s heart for missions, I am unaware of it. He then said that he had been on the pastor search committee, that he had been the one to ask David “the hard questions,” and that he knew exactly where David stood on doctrinal issues. He said that we should give David some time to consider what had been said and come up with an appropriate response.

The meeting was truly disastrous. Parents were no less confused, nothing about his views had been clarified, and some parents later expressed to me that they felt he had done nothing but be evasive and shift blame to the kids’ “misunderstanding.”

For me, the meeting was a watershed moment. I had entered with serious misgivings about his behavior,  but willing to hear him out and give him the benefit of the doubt if he would agree to detail actionable steps to promote unity. A stated assurance of commitment from him to foster unity and trust in light of recent missteps would have been all I needed to hear to put this behind us and move forward. Not only did I not get that, I lost a lot of respect for him.

Going forward, my issues with David no longer centered on his baffling refusal to make parents aware of the Calvinist youth curriculum or supply non-Calvinist resources alongside the Calvinist resources the church was providing.  What had once been isolated incidents that gave me pause, I now viewed as an established pattern of behavior that I recognized from my prior experience as one to distance myself from.


Fallout After the Meeting

 I didn’t know what I was going to do. Jack and I began hearing through the grapevine that we had been responsible for what was being called a “firing squad.” N o one at all reached out to me to get any clarification of what had happened. Some women that Jack had considered to be close friends did not reach out at all and appeared to be believing the things that were being said about us without question. It was incredibly hurtful. We said nothing, although we were hearing of texts going around from various people that seemed to serve the purpose of fostering the perception that we had unjustly attacked David and that he was heartbroken. We didn’t defend ourselves. We were still trying to go through proper authorities to address the issues, as we have continued to do this entire time. At no time did David attempt to reach out to me, Kane, or Jack to make anything right.

Also of note, in the weeks preceding his youth lesson and this meeting, there were three new deacons set to be initiated. I know that one of those deacons is Calvinist (he joined our church because he knew David’s views).

** Update in order to correct the following statement from above: “he joined our church because he knew David’s views.” It has come to my attention that this statement is incorrect. This individual has let me know that he did not join AFBC because David held to Reformed doctrines. ***

I am not including that information to disparage that individual at all. He’s a great guy and I have no known reason to hold him in anything other than high regard. If David had a plan to stack the deacon board in order to push through future changes, I have no reason to think this man knew about it. All those initiations were put on hold while deacons met to work out these issues. If these events had occurred even one week later, the composition of the deacon body would have been much different than it is.


The “Choked Up” Sermon

On November 20th David gave a sermon on I Timothy 3, focusing on verses 1-7 which discuss the character requirements for church leadership. At first, I thought maybe he was going to take responsibility and apologize. He did not. From my perspective, with all the events from the last three months combined with the things that I knew were being said about Jack and me, this sermon came across as an attempt to emotionally manipulate those in the congregation who had heard that something was going on, but didn’t have details, which was the vast majority of the congregation.  That sermon may be accessed by selecting the November 20th sermon at the following link. The relevant portion is located at the 33:30 – 36:00 mark.

After church Kane was upset. He runs tech during service, and he was struggling with acting in the capacity of David’s support staff while he was engaging in what we both viewed  as overt emotional manipulation from the pulpit. I began to feel that the authorities may not intervene, and started to feel that we may have to leave the church. I wrote an email to David that day detailing my feelings and the situation I felt I was in, but I didn’t send it.

I did reach out to the chairman of the deacon’s wife. I had not spoken to her since the night of the meeting, and I was devastated to think that she thought that I would attack David in such a way. I knew that she and her husband were completely unaware that I had been talking to David about this since August and that I had reached out to another deacon during that time as well.

The text that I sent to her is below.



The Acapella Sermon

Our meeting was scheduled for after church. That day, November 27th, David gave a sermon that I now call the “Acapella Sermon” because he dramatically sings hymns acapella from the pulpit for four minutes straight. If I had harbored any doubt that I may have misjudged David’s character,  it evaporated that day. After hearing this sermon, Jack and her family decided they were done. Her husband said he would not return and she called the church office to have her name removed from the role.

If you would like to view that sermon it can be accessed by selecting the November 27, 2022 video at the following link:

Below is a listing of selected content:

32:45- 34:10:

He compares the issues that the church is currently experiencing with a time that his wife misunderstood a comment that he had meant as a compliment. He told her she looked like an elf. In his mind, he meant a Lord of the Rings-type, gloriously beautiful elf, she thought he meant a Keebler elf.

34:12 – 34:51:

“We were using the same vocabulary, but different dictionaries. When you use the same vocabulary, but you have a different lexicon by which to translate those words, let me tell you folks, you are prime for an eruption. […] … it can happen in a local church.”

35:10 -35:38:

He explains that he’s talking about this because this has happened at our church and he’s going to take responsibility for it.

35:40 -36:02:

“A few weeks ago I taught a youth Sunday School class on the Biblical doctrine of election. It was done haphazard. Not enough prep. And it wasn’t the right time. And therefore an eruption happened.”

[In retrospect, I believe the statement in red is the key to understanding what he’s actually saying. I believe, considering what he had been teaching from the pulpit for two years with no push back (see forthcoming part 5 of this series in which I explain with examples from his sermons why it is so difficult for someone who isn’t familiar with Calvinism to pick up on it), that he was confident that it would be fine to proceed with the youth in the manner that he did. He’s not expressing regret for his presentation. He’s saying that he now realizes that he jumped the gun. (See Part 1 which discusses published strategies for covertly reforming churches.]

36:27 -37:52:

“So today I hope to clarify, and I hope for us as a local body, that we can begin to clarify so that the enemy will not get a foothold. […] The confusion erupted and labels were used, terms were used, centering around this doctrine of election. Terms like Calvinism and Arminianism…Well, we’re not gonna do a deep dive into those terms because it’s not helpful, it is not going to help the clarification process.”

[Frankly, clarifying those terms is the only thing that would have been helpful in this process. That is, if your goal is to be clear with the congregation. It is my opinion, which I believe this evidence demonstrates, that he had different goals. He goes on for several minutes saying there are great theologians from both sides and we should all be unified because this is an intramural debate. This would be great if he didn’t follow this statement by asserting that Calvinism is the “Biblical”view. He has an odd strategy for promoting unity. See below.]

39:07 –about 50:00, then picks up again from 1:03:00 – 1:04:30:

He says we need to bring some clarity and the only way to do that is to go to Scripture. He says to get clarity on the doctrine of election, we need to go to the book of Acts chapter 16, which is the story of Lydia.

[This is a Calvinist proof text. The interpretation the he gives is the Calvinist view. Non-Calvinists disagree that this text teaches what David is saying that it teaches, and have their own interpretation which I believe is a much more coherent understanding of the text. The point is, he just spent several minutes telling us this is an intramural debate and that we need to be unified and not argue over secondary issues, only to proceed to “clarify” things to us by explaining that his view is the “Biblical” view of election (and he adds a side of compatibilist free will in there too), which, by default, insinuates that the opposing view is not Biblical. This is not promoting unity. It’s patronizing to those in the audience who understand what he’s actually doing here and it’s gross.]

52:00- about 56:00:

4 minutes of almost constant acapella singing.

1:09:45 -1:10:35:

“Church let’s put the daggers away. […] Let’s leave the Calvary communion table and battle together as a united front in this dark and unsavory world. See, we already saw in Acts 16 the enemy’s attempt to deceive and destroy. You say, what about his attempts to divide? Well, just a very few years later an argument arose in the Philippian church. And there were two women, Euodia and Syntyche, you can read about them in chapter 4. They were the camps. I don’t know. Maybe one was Arminian and one was Calvinist…”

[He might as well have just called out the names “Tiffany and Jack.” That’s the point I believe he intended to get across. Now that you have the full context, you can come to your own conclusions about the actual transparency and intent of David’s message.]


My Private Meeting with the Chairman of the Deacons and His Wife

After church, I met with my friend and her husband in a private room. I told my friend that I had been distressed to think that she might construe the events of the Wednesday night parent meeting as an unprovoked attack on David’s character. After all, she was my very first friend when we moved to Arab, and the reason I had worked up the nerve to join with a body of believers again.

Though I had mentioned at the Wednesday night meeting that David and I had been in conversation months prior, I knew that she and her husband could not understand the weight of it and the reasons that I had come to the conclusions that I had without seeing it with their own eyes. I had brought printed copies of my correspondence with David as well as the correspondence I had with the deacon back in late August/September so that they could see I had reached out to an authority.

They read it all, and I explained that I felt to my core that David’s actions were undeniably wrong. I told them that I knew that they were on the same page with David theologically, but that had nothing to do with the way he was treating me, Kane, Jack, the youth, and frankly the youth parents as well. I also noted that I felt that David’ statement at the end of his sermon that day telling the church to “put the daggers away,” followed by his telling of the story of the two women in the Philippian church who stirred up division, was a not-so-veiled reference to Jack and me.

In all transparency, I was also upset with both my friend and her husband, because I believed at this point that they, along with the rest of the pastor search committee,  had both known that David was Calvinist when he was hired and had intentionally withheld that information. However, I did not bring it up at this meeting.

They expressed sympathy for me, agreeing that David had undeniably handled the situation poorly from the beginning. However, the chairman of the deacons said that he did not intend to involve himself in the situation. They asked if I thought there was any way that I could see myself staying at AFBC if perhaps David offered some kind of apology, and I replied that I just didn’t know at that point. I’d have to give it a lot of thought. It would be hard for me to trust his sincerity.

They both said they wished that our congregation as a whole could better understand what Calvinism is and I agreed with them wholeheartedly. I explained to the chairman of the deacons that another issue I had with David was his lack of clarity about his views from the pulpit. I believed that he had a responsibility to make his beliefs known. The chairman of the deacons told me that if David were to clearly tell the church what he believes from the pulpit, half of the congregation would get up and walk out. This casual statement took me aback, because it seemed clear to me that he didn’t mean that he thought that David should take the necessary steps to be clear. I understood him to mean that David should not do so: an ignorance is bliss sort of situation. There was really nothing left to say. My friend and I both shed tears and hugged.

I didn’t leave the room angry. At the time, I was just sad. It wasn’t until I had time to reflect on the conversation later that I got upset. Based on their statements, I came to the conclusion that they both knew he was intentionally obscuring his beliefs from the pulpit because our church would not accept him otherwise. I also concluded that while they seemed to express sadness that his treatment would likely result in my leaving the church, and while they agreed that his behavior was not appropriate, they were somehow okay with it all and continued to hold him in high regard. Despite all he had done and was continuing to do, they had chosen to support him anyway. I lost a lot of respect for them both that day.

To top off my meeting, I returned home to find Kane still furious from the day’s sermon. He had decided he would no longer support David and officially resigned from the tech team. I know this was hard for him, because being entrusted with this responsibility was very important to him.

Sometime in all these events, the youth pastor was struggling with how to address the issue of his confused youth after the abysmal failure of the parent meeting. David had refused to come back to clarify anything to the youth, and he was left holding the bag. He ended up giving a lesson on the Calvinist versus the non-Calvinist view himself, and apparently without David’s blessing.


I Send David My Email

The “Acapella Sermon,” David’s refusal to take any steps to promote unity, the meeting with the chairman of the deacon’s and his wife, and no indication that David was going to be held to account for any of it. I felt done. I opened the draft of the email I had written thoughtfully and with a clear head the week before, updated it to reflect my thoughts on his message from the pulpit that day, and hit send.



Jack Sends Her Email

A couple of days later, on November 29th, Jack sends her email to David, copies the chairman of the deacons and asks him to distribute it to them as well so that they can see what is going on. The chairman of the deacons does as she asked.



Jack also sent a text to the youth pastor requesting that she be allowed to come say goodbye to her youth group.



Frustrated with David’s refusal to allow her to say goodbye to the girls, Jack reaches out to the chairman of the deacons.



Jack and I had assumed this group of leaders he was referencing were the deacon body. Jack later discovered that it was not the deacon body. We do not know who comprised this “church leadership” the chairman of the deacons met with to levy this decision.

For Jack, this was a gut punch. She had been the only youth leader to consistently go to bat for the confused, distraught youth with regard to this issue. If not for her sheer persistence, David would never have consented to meet with the youth parents. He had actually tried every avenue possible to avoid it. Jack is the only reason he failed. Let’s not forget, at this time,  Jack and I were the only ones putting ourselves on the line, fighting to get David to take steps toward true unity by calling him out for his refusal to even facilitate the presentation of non-Calvinist views to the youth- the majority position of our church! We were being painted as aggressors and he as the victim. Some people who knew this to be untrue did not speak up to counter the narrative being perpetuated by David and those sympathetic to him. It was truly unbelievable.


David Calls a Meeting with the Children’s Minister

At some point in the previous days, I had become aware that a deacon meeting had been scheduled. David had forwarded them the email I sent him and it is my understanding that many deacons were angry.

Since most of them were completely unaware of my interactions with David since August, and since (to my knowledge) the deacon I reached out to that same month and also spoke with in September did not disclose to the deacon body that I had done so, I was eager for the opportunity to present my side of the story. I still cannot fathom this, but at this point, there were still several who were not aware that David is Calvinist, much less how he had treated Jack and me.

I had tried unsuccessfully the week prior to get an email list of deacons. I didn’t want to reach out to the chairman of the deacons, because I didn’t trust him anymore. I asked the children’s minister if he would present my email correspondence with David to the deacon body if I forwarded it to him along with an explanation of my feelings. He was happy to do so. That email is below.

CM = children’s minister


On November 28th David called the children’s minister in for a meeting to discuss me. The deacon meeting had still not taken place. At that point, the children’s minister had been able to view the evidence that I sent him. He also brought the email that I had sent him to distribute to the deacons for David to view. I had served in the capacity of Sunday school teacher for a few years, and David wanted me out of that position immediately.

David asked the children’s minister what he thought of my email. He answered that he disagreed with my opinion of David’s character,  but was on my side of the aisle with regard to the theological aspects. The children’s minister asked David why he did not present both the Calvinist and non-Calvinist views of election as the youth pastor had asked. David told him that he had intended to do that, but that Kane interrupted him so much that he ran out of time.

To this day, this is one of the most repulsive things that I believe David has done. Not only was it a completely different story than he had previously told, it was a blatant lie. He looked his children’s minister in the face and blamed a 17-year old kid for his mistake.

The children’s minister told David that he was not going to tell me that I couldn’t teach, and if David wanted me to be fired that he’d have to instruct him directly to do that. David asked the children’s minister, “Should I just leave?” He replied that that was not a decision he could make for him. David then asked him a few different times something to the effect of, “Are you saying it’s you or me?”

The children’s minister refused to say that. Then, David said that since I had stated in my email to the children’s minister that I could not “in good conscience continue to be a part of First Baptist Arab as long as Bro. David remains its pastor,” he required the children’s minister to tell me that I couldn’t teach. To this day, I believe that the reason David asked the children’s minister more than once in that meeting, “is it me or you?” is that he wanted grounds to fire him. That is my opinion.

Later that day, Jack told me that she had asked the chairman of the deacons to forward her email to the deacon body and that he had. I contacted the children’s minister’s wife and asked if he’d prefer that I do the same so that the responsibility was not on him to distribute my email and forwarded evidence to the deacon body. We agreed that was best. I sent my email to the chairman of the deacons.

He sent me the email below confirming his receipt of all my emails and affirming that he was distributing them to the body. He did not know that the children’s minister was also in possession of the same emails.




I Reach Out To the Chairman of the Deacon’s Wife Again

With my continuing revelations of David’s character, I was struggling to understand how my friend, the chairman of the deacons wife, could continue in her unwavering support of him. I reached out to her again on November 30th. That conversation is below.




My response to her was too long for a text, so I emailed it.



There have been many times in my life that I wish I’d extended more benefit of the doubt. This may be the only time I’ve regretted extending as much as I did. When I discovered later what her husband was in the process of doing that day (and I have no doubt she knew of his plans), I lost the respect I had for them both. The chairman of the deacons did not forward any of the emails to the deacon body. He lied to me. I believe he did so to hide what David had done and the admissions that he had made to me. The chairman of the deacons had no idea that the children’s minister, who is also a deacon, knew that he was supposed to forward that material to the deacon body and that he had come to the meeting with copies of the same material.

Also on November 30th, a church member (I’m not sure who), sent out a mass text inviting the whole church to hold a prayer vigil in the pastor’s yard. The text was addressed to the “church family,” and said that, “Our pastor, his family, and our church need our prayers” followed by a citation of Ephesians 6:17-18. Jack and I were not on the recipient list for that text.

Ironically, a church member who apparently wasn’t “in the know” (a lot of people weren’t at this point) noticed that Jack didn’t get the text and forwarded it to her,  no doubt in a well-intended effort to be inclusive. I believe it was clear that whoever planned the vigil intended to portray the pastor as an innocent victim of an attack Jack and I were waging.


The Youth Pastor Reaches Out to Kane

The youth pastor reached out to Kane on November 30th as well. Their conversation is below.

I was upset because the three of us, myself, Jack, and Kane, were the subject of any number of ugly and untrue accusations I had heard floating around the gravevine. Some people that had evidence at that point to know better were leading others to believe that we were attacking David, and that this was primarily a scuffle about secondary theological issues that we had blown into epic proportions .

Kane was being painted by some to be a trouble-maker in youth for simply defending his views, which is something the reader may recall David promised me the youth would be welcome to do in his very first email to me. As far as I could tell, the deacon that I had initially reached out to had not ever breathed a word to anyone letting them know that I did. I now question whether he ever mentioned anything I said to any other deacons like he told me he would do. If he did he must have mentioned to one of the deacons who is of the opinion that questions should be buried, not addressed. I was exceedingly hurt that those who knew better, like the youth pastor, did not appear to be coming to our defense in the slightest.

I felt betrayed. I felt that they had betrayed Kane. I felt that if they couldn’t find they courage to defend the truth, they could find the time to train Kane’s replacement. Probably not my most proud moment. The conversation continues below.

This was the first we’d heard that we were being defended by anyone other than the children’s minister.

December 2022 – January 2023:

The Deacon Meeting

The deacons met on Thursday evening, December 1st. Jack and I were both hopeful that once the deacon body was able to see the situation in its entirety, we would be defended, and appropriate actions would be taken. I was waiting on the results of this meeting to decide if I was going to remain at AFBC or leave.

I know that the children’s minister was taken by surprise when he arrived to find that none of the deacons had the materials that the chairman of the deacons told me he had distributed to them. This put the children’s minister in the difficult position of having to relate the information from his own copies that he had brought. I know the meeting was several hours long.


The Verdict?

The morning of December 2nd, Jack and I both received the text below from the chairman of the deacons.


I probably don’t have to explain that I was confused, angry and disgusted.  I immediately forwarded my text the children’s minister’s wife. I could not understand how her husband could have put his support behind David with all that he knew. There are a few others in that room I was having trouble reconciling that verdict with as well.

Kane made the comment to me once that every time he thought he had come to rock bottom with respect to his assessment of David’s character, David busted out a jackhammer. That is a completely accurate articulation of my feelings. After all, David knew well what he had done, and he couldn’t even be bothered to reach out to us himself. Instead, he had his chairman of the deacons send a text for him and say that he would be willing to reach out to us IF we agreed to be willing to reconcile.

To me, this expressed a level of arrogance, condescention, and utter disregard for a sister in Christ that would be difficult to match. If any good leader thought that the conclusions I had come to about his character were based on complete misunderstanding, he would not rest until he had exhausted his ability to explain and repair the relationship, regardless of if I was willing to reconcile or not.

David’s character was becoming clearer to me by the day. I truly believe that the chairman of the deacons worded the text this way in hopes that Jack and I would feel so alone, hurt, discouraged, and angry that our departure from AFBC would be certain. To date, I have been presented no evidence to cause me to question that conclusion.

It wasn’t long before the children’s minister’s wife reached out to me and explained that the text was incredibly misleading. Some of the deacons were so concerned that they arranged a meeting for Jack and me to attend at the children’s minister’s house to more clearly convey the feelings of the deacon body. There were three deacons and their wives in attendance at this meeting. The best way that I know to describe this meeting is that these people made us feel that we were wanted, that they cared about us, that we mattered to them, and that the church body was incomplete without us. They let us know that they were not okay with how things had happened, and our valid concerns were not being dismissed. They told us that the number of people who felt that way about us wouldn’t fit in the room we were in. I felt all the emotions, and I’m pretty sure Jack did too. It was the first time in a long time that I hadn’t felt that AFBC considered me and my family completely disposable.

The deacons present explained that they wanted us to continue at AFBC, but at the same time, the deacon body wanted to give David the opportunity to make things right. We discussed Bible verses about forgiveness and extending grace in all circumstances, and it was explained that to go forward we’d need to participate in a reconciliation process with David. The reconciliation process would consist of David owning and apologizing for his errors, and Jack and I apologizing for some things we said in our letters, particularly accusations we had made about his character.

Full transparency: that stipulation gave me pause because I had no reason at that time to believe the conclusions I had come to about his character were incorrect.

It should be pointed out at this juncture, that the entire deacon body was now aware that David is Calvinist. Never once was this considered a reason to demand his departure. Instead, the goal was always to reconcile and move forward.

It had also come to my attention at some point prior to this (I cannot remember when), that the pastor search committee did not, in fact, know that David was Calvinist when they recommended him to the congregation. This came as a surprise to me, but it also cleared up some confusion that I had. I had assumed previously that David had been forthcoming with the pastor search committee. It turns out that that was not an accurate assumption.

I also knew that the chairman of the deacons, who was also on the pastor search committee (though not chairman of the deacons at that time), had known that David was Calvinist. As of this writing, it appears to me that the only member of the pastor search committee that knew David was Calvinist was the chairman of the deacons. If you’ll recall, it was also the chairman of the deacons who went alone to interview David initially, and the one responsible for asking him the “hard questions.” I felt horrible for accusing the pastor search committee as a whole of intentionally withholding that information. I now believe they had that information withheld from them as well.

I did feel convicted that as a Christian, it is my responsibility to extend grace even when it does not appear to be extended in the other direction. Jack felt the same and we agreed to comply with this reconciliation process which involved giving David the benefit of the doubt. Jack and I both expressed that we could do this, but that it would be on a trial basis with the expectation that we would see David act in tangible ways to support unity going forward.  These were viewed as acceptable terms.

As a sidebar, I disclosed to the deacons present at that meeting that the chairman of the deacons had failed to distribute correspondence that I had sent to him for that purpose. They were not happy, and I was asked to forward evidence of this to one of the deacons there, which I did. I have not heard anything come of that to date.


Meetings, Meetings Everywhere

December 1st became  the first of MANY deacons meetings. Judging from the frequency and length of the meetings, unanimity was not something easy to achieve.

Throughout this process a deacon (designated as “deacon 2” in the text below) I trust was assigned the role of communicating with me. This man and his wife have truly been a blessing to me. They have gone above and beyond to ensure that my family feels that we are considered valuable members of AFBC and to keep us informed to the best of his ability.

Also of note, on December 10th, David informed the children’s minister that they would not have worship kid’s style for the remainder of the year. (At AFBC, after Sunday school the kids (K5 – 6th grade) come to the sanctuary for announcements and worship. Afterward, the children’s minister and his wife take them back upstairs where he presents a kid’s level sermon of the same text David is preaching to the adults. They return at the end of service. Every 5th Sunday, there is a break from this and the kids sit with their families during service. )


My Reconciliation Meeting

My meeting was scheduled for Monday evening, December 12th, and my husband attended with me. In the days preceding my meeting, I received two bothersome reports. First, the pastor’s son asked Kane at school if we had found another church yet. Second, in the Wednesday night kid’s worship class, the kids had noticed my unexplained absence and asked where I was. David’s daughter answered quickly and confidently that I would not be back. This seemed to indicate to me, based on conversations his children were hearing at home, that David knew the outcome of my reconciliation meeting before I did.

The text detailing the meeting agenda is below.


Everyone went out of their way to make us feel comfortable, despite the fact that this was an unavoidably uncomfortable scenario for every person present. When the floor was opened for David to speak,  he apologized for “being dismissive” of my concerns about the book initially. He also said that he should have pulled the book immediately.

He said that he intended to reach out to Kane and that he’d like to meet with him one-on-one if that was okay with my husband. To date he has never reached out to Kane for any such meeting.

His demeanor did appear to be one of genuine sincerity. I did not discern any hostility.  That was it. He made no apology about anything else.

The floor was opened to me, and I apologized sincerely for falsely accusing the pastor search committee. However, that didn’t really help things because my apology to the committee entailed an explanation that I had realized they weren’t aware because David hadn’t been clear with them. I didn’t mention the chairman of the deacons. This meeting wasn’t about him.

I explained that I knew my letter was hurtful, but that I did not come to any of those conclusions about his character lightly or purely due to emotion, although coming to those conclusions surely involved feeling emotional. I told David that if I was mistaken in my interpretation of any of the events I had listed in my letter, then I was open and willing to hear him explain to me how I had misunderstood and I would offer my wholehearted apology.

What followed were a LOT of words from David.  However, similar to the youth parent meeting, I felt that there was precious little substance in them. One thing he did clarify was that in handing out the Baptist Faith and Message section on election at the outset of the parent meeting, he had not intended to indicate that if we disagreed with his presentation of election that we were not in alignment with the Baptist Faith and Message (as I had interpreted), but to assert that his view could be encompassed under the umbrella of the Baptist Faith and Message as well. This sounded plausible to me, so I apologized for misunderstanding him and accusing him of being misleading there. That was the only event in my letter that he gave any sort of plausible explanation for,  in my opinion. His tone remained friendly throughout.

It was clear that I was expected to apologize for accusing him of being misleading or gaslighting in other instances mentioned, but as I had not been given an explanation for those events, I could not alter my view of them. There was a lot of discussion about my using “labels” such as “Calvinism,” etc. Deacon 3 was particularly concerned with that. To be completely honest, that particularly objection is tiresome and irrelevant to me for reasons I’ve already explained in my email to the deacons. Generally, objections to the “labels” are for public relations reasons, not because they assign views that aren’t accurate. Despite this fact, a lot of time was spent discussing labels.

Deacon 3 told a story about how he had approached a pastor at one point in his life and asked for him to explain the sovereignty of God, which kept jumping out at him in his reading of Scripture. He said the pastor had told him that you can’t speak of that in a Baptist church, “you’ll get run out.” This was appalling to me, and I told him so.

Deacon 3 is also a youth leader. It did not occur to me in the moment, but when I was reflecting on the meeting the next day I realized that he had just perfectly illustrated my argument to David that the youth leaders desperately needed non-Calvinist resources to be able to accurately articulate non-Calvinist views. He had just shown that if a youth asked him to explain the non-Calvinist view of God’s sovereignty, he would be unable to do so.

At one point I explained that I have considerable difficulty with what I view as a lack of transparency about his beliefs with the congregation. Again, David said a lot of words, but nothing of substance. He seemed to be indicating that he was clear with me about his views because he thought we could “talk shop.” However, other people didn’t need to hear things “on that level.” I disagree, mostly because I believe this is insulting to their intelligence. Of course people can understand it if it is explained to them clearly, which as a pastor,  is something he should be capable of doing. Therefore, I couldn’t grant him the acceptance of that explanation that I know he wanted me to give.

Toward the end of the meeting, David began speaking about his choice of book for the youth again. Remember, at the beginning of the meeting he had said he should have pulled it immediately. Now, he said that he still stood behind the book. Then he looked at me directly and said that at some level there needed to be an attitude of submission to his authority as pastor on those matters. This was said with absolutely no tone of malice in his voice, so it took me a bit to process what had been said. My husband looked at me, but David was already continuing on talking about something else. By the time he finished, my brain had moved on.

This was another instance that I was able to see more clearly in retrospect. Not only was it an incredibly tone-deaf thing to say in the context of a meeting in which he was supposed to be apologizing for breaching precisely that trust, he had actually just walked back the only thing he apologized for at the beginning of the meeting!  Furthermore, I had submitted to his authority and said absolutely nothing else until the youth fiasco ensued.

Eventually, someone called a close to the discussion. It was very late and we hadn’t even started eating the meal deacon 2’s wife had prepared. It was agreed that progress had been made, but that we still had work to do. It was clear that David expected more from me, but I felt that I had extended all his responses had allowed me. I did make clear that I was willing to return to church, extending him the benefit of the doubt that things would improve over time. (Prior to this meeting, Jack and I had been told that we could not attend church.)

It should be noted again that David has not reached out to me at all either before or after this meeting. This seems to me to indicate that he has never had any true interest in reconciling with me. I believe he was doing what he had to do to appear “acceptable” to the deacon body.


Jack’s Reconciliation Meeting

Jack’s meeting was far more eventful than mine. Things occurred that were shocking to me, even after all the shocks we seemed to be getting on a weekly, sometimes daily, basis. However, that is her testimony to tell.

Events After the Reconciliation Meetings

More and more deacons meetings continue to be held. Despite our cooperation in the reconciliation process, Jack and I were both informed that the deacon body as a whole would not consent to allow us to return to our teaching positions. I was told that while some deacons were happy for us to return to our roles, others were not. They wanted to see us return to church on a regular basis and join an adult Sunday school class.

Jack was told that David desired this because he felt that we had breached his trust. We both thought this was ridiculous. He had been the one to breach our trust, not to mention the trust of every youth parent in the congregation, not the other way around.

Considering the trajectory of Jack’s meeting and several other weighty factors, Jack decided for the final time that she was done. I don’t blame her at all.

On December 24th, David sent out an email letting the church know that he had decided to extend the hiatus for worship kid’s style at least through the first quarter of the new year. He had not discussed this with the children’s minister at all. It was a unilateral decision. The only notice that the children’s minister was afforded was an email that David sent him a matter of minutes before he sent the announcement out to the congregation. This trial basis of improved behavior was not starting out on a positive note.

At this point I could tell that something had changed within the context of the discussions occurring within the deacon body, because no one had breathed a word of any continued reconciliation meeting on my part. Deacon meetings continued to occur and the results shared with me were typically: hold on; it’s not over.

At the end of January, one of the adult Sunday school classes compiled a 16-question document that they requested David publicly answer. He refused to do so, but said he would speak to individuals one-on-one. Yet another deacon meeting was scheduled for the next Sunday, the 29th.


The Resignation

Sunday,  January 29th, David resigned as senior pastor of AFBC. He gave the following reason for his resignation:

“Theological confusion over secondary doctrinal issues has escalated into a situation that makes this move the best for our family and this faith family.  Please hear me clearly: I am neither assigning blame nor seeking to evade any blame that might justly be laid on my doorstep. I am simply trying to state, summarily,  the reason for this heart-wrenching decision.”

Even at the bitter end, David seems not to be able to bring himself to perform any action to unify AFBC. To me, his words appear to be crafted with the intent of continuing to  sow division with half truths and misleading statements. There is an element of truth in his statement that “theological confusion over secondary doctrinal issues has escalated into a situation that makes this move best for our family and this faith family,” but it obfuscates as much as it reveals, which is par for his course.

He seems to insinuate that he is having to make this “heart-wrenching” decision due to:  1) several individuals being confused about what he  believes with regard to secondary issues (i.e., Calvinist, or “Reformed,” as he prefers to call it, doctrine of salvation), and 2) a significant enough number of members of our church being unwilling to accept him as pastor due to those beliefs. The preponderance of evidence that I have provided shows that this is a gross misrepresentation of the nature of the issues.

It is my opinion that David has never been willing to promote unity between the differing views in our church, because his goal has been to “reform” our church. I believe that he has gathered and groomed certain individuals to help him in this endeavor. I believe that once it became clear to him  that he was not going to be able to run out or get rid of the individuals who would hold him accountable in promoting unity rather than continuing his attempt to reform the church via stealth strategies, he decided that it was no longer in his interest to remain here. I do not believe that he ever had any desire or intention whatsoever to reconcile with either Jack or myself. I believe that he intentionally promoted and encouraged a false narrative to be spread about both Jack and me, painting us as aggressors and himself as a victim. I believe he has continued to engage in these reprehensible behaviors despite the fact that he is destroying friendships and dividing our church into feuding factions.


Go to Part 5

Go back to Part 3






Anatomy of a Church Split Part 3

Part 3: My Testimony as a Member of Arab First Baptist; Background Information for Context


Isn’t This Sort of Discussion Out-of- Bounds?

I can honestly say this is a blog post I never would’ve believed I’d write. When bad things happen in churches, we all seem to live by this unstated rule that we are to keep silent about it. For almost 6 months now I’ve been mostly silent with the exception of the few church authorities I’ve reached out to. I have attempted to follow the Biblical steps laid out in Matthew 16:15-17 for resolving conflict via the proper chain of authority. That has been a long, arduous process, but in the end (or almost end, this really isn’t completely over), it has been effective. I believe that the deacon body as a whole has done the absolute best they can to address the situation in accordance with Biblical principles, extending grace to all parties involved.  David Kizziah resigned last week as senior pastor of Arab First Baptist Church, which was a decision that I believe was the right one to make under the circumstances he had created.

If that’s the case, why am I writing this? Currently we are at the stage in which church members are deciding whether they will remain at AFBC or leave. There is a lot of confusion, because there has been absolutely no transparency with the congregation as a whole to date. Frankly, David and some of those who support him have been intentionally perpetuating the false narrative that my conflict with him, and the additional conflict that has arisen pursuant to that, is primarily regarding disagreement over secondary theological views (i.e., Calvinism). This is absolutely, unequivocally untrue. It serves only to damage personal relationships and cause division. I have evidence to corroborate that this is false. A few of those who are supporting David have this evidence, yet have made the decision to facilitate this falsehood anyway. Some of those who are supporting David do not have this evidence and likely have no idea that it exists.

Therefore, I find myself between a rock and hard place. I know there are people groping around in the darkness, trying to make good decisions. I’m standing here with a flash light, but I haven’t turned it on. There are other people who I love and greatly respect who will not agree that I should provide this information in such a public forum, and may be angry that I have chosen to do so. Ultimately, my silence, while appropriate at first, now only serves to enable David to continue in what I view as his attempts to mislead and divide.


A Little Full Transparency of My Own

Our family moved to Arab when my children were 10, 6, and 3. I was struggling internally about joining a church. I really didn’t want to. (I have a complicated religious background that involves being raised in a doomsday-type cult up until the age of 14 when the group split.) I felt the conviction of the Holy Spirit to put myself out there again, but I was still resisting. I had been my kids’ Bible teacher for several years and I really wanted them to have the experience of growing with a church family. For all its warts, that is something that the church I was raised in did exceedingly well, and I will always treasure those memories and relationships.

When my youngest turned 4, I enrolled him at AFBC preschool, and later signed him up for the Upward Basketball team. That year, I met a wonderful woman whose son also played Upward ball and went to school with my youngest son. We had some great conversations about the Bible and she invited me to AFBC’s Tuesday morning women’s Bible study. She was really my first friend in Arab. After two years of attending this women’s Bible study regularly, I finally began visiting for worship on Sundays, then we began coming for Sunday school as well. Within a few weeks, the pastor announced that he was leaving, and after that we had several guest pastors, followed by an interim pastor. My children were really thriving in the church’s children’s and youth ministry programs. Honestly, at the time, this was enough to really attach myself to this body.

I was nervous about joining without knowing who the incoming pastor would be, but I didn’t think the one they had when I arrived was Calvinist. I ended up attending a potential member orientation class, and I asked the Associate Pastor who was teaching the class directly what he thought the odds were of a Calvinist pastor being hired. (While I’m not anti-Calvinist, of course one prefers to join with a body as closely in alignment with ones views as possible.) He explained that prior to the pastor who had just left, the pastor they had had for 20 years was staunchly non-Calvinist. This encouraged me, and shortly afterward we joined the church.


David Kizziah is Hired as Pastor of AFBC

At one point during the pastor search, the friend that I mentioned above told me in Sunday school that her husband (who is a deacon and was also on the pastor search committee) had been tasked with presenting a paper explaining Calvinism to the rest of the committee. I did know that there were a few members of our church who were Calvinist. She and I had had conversations about Calvinism in our years together in Bible study, and she knew my stance very well. I no longer know what her stance was at the time of this particular conversation, but I do know that in our previous conversations she had been in agreement with me.

Later on, during the infamous Covid chaos of 2020, pastoral candidate David Kizziah was introduced to our church. The pastor search committee had landed on him after a lengthy search. He had familial connections with the pastor who had been with AFBC for 20 years prior to his retirement, and apparently had that pastor’s recommendation as well. Due to the out-of-the ordinary circumstances Covid caused, the entire pastor search committee did not get to meet with David in person. My friend’s husband went alone to interview him and recorded the interview. When David and his family were introduced to the congregation via video, I instantly liked them. They seemed open, honest, sincere, and were genuinely likeable.  I did wish that the congregation had been kept more in the loop on his views, and maybe even have had the opportunity to ask him questions directly, but I didn’t go to any steps to ask anyone if this was possible. I’m sure that I could have if I had asked, but I did not. He was affirmed by the congregation.

I eagerly listened to his sermons, trying to see if I could pick up any clues regarding his soteriological persuasion. There were various inconclusive remarks that gave me pause, but by his third month in the pulpit I was positive that he was, indeed, Calvinist. In all honesty, I was bummed. However, I truly believed that he was one of the most sincere, genuinely caring pastors I had known. I never considered leaving due to my discovery. The kids were happy in their thoroughly non-Calvinist children’s and youth classes, and I was content to use the content of his sermons that I disagreed with as a tool to teach my kids what we believe and why we believe it. I didn’t say a word to anyone in the congregation.

At the time, it did not even cross my mind to consider why the pastor search committee had not disclosed to the congregation that he affirmed Calvinist doctrine. Why? I have no idea. For some reason it just didn’t. This general state of things continued for about two years. During that time, I began serving in the capacity of children’s Sunday school teacher. My oldest son, Kane, developed a passion for theology and studied it and the Bible like it was his job. Now, at the age of 17, he’s literally my favorite person to have deep theological conversations with. He also joined the tech team and became one of the primary tech guys for the youth as well as the main worship service. I believe this back story sufficiently sets the stage for a proper contextual understanding of Part 4 of this series. We weren’t disgruntled. We were happy overall, and I (we) will forever be grateful for how the children’s and youth ministry staff and volunteers have poured into my children. They have grown in the Lord under their discipleship and my two oldest have been baptized at AFBC.



A lot of people are hostile toward Calvinism. I completely empathize with their reasons, and I’d be lying if I said this experience with David Kizziah has not altered my perception going forward. However, I am still not hostile. When I re-devoted myself to study of the Bible after years of being disaffected with religion in general (but not God), I was very attracted to Calvinism, although I would not have recognized it by name.

David Platt was my favorite pastor for years. I loved to listen to Matt Chandler, Paul Washer, and Voddie Baucham. I took several free, online classes from Credo Courses, which is Calvinist Michael Patton’s organization. When I had Bible questions, I was reading online ministries such as John Piper’s Desiring God, R.C.Sproul’s Ligonier Ministries, The Gospel Coalition, and GotQuestions (yes, they’re Calvinist leaning). That’s probably why I was Calvinist leaning without even realizing it! Almost all theological internet searches are going to land you on primarily Calvinistic resources. Calvinist scholars are prolific writers and Calvinists are excellent in supporting those ministries. I appreciate those ministries and I greatly value all that I have learned from them.

The deeper I got the less satisfied I became with Calvinist answers to certain questions. Whew, some of that doctrinal fine print is a doozy. I became less convinced that their interpretation of certain passages was accurate. Alarm bells went off for me when I realized that I was having to engage in the same cognitive dissonance to “accept” Calvinist interpretations of certain Scriptures that I’d had to employ to follow some of the Scriptural interpretations promoted by my childhood church. By the time of my first associations with Arab First Baptist, I was thoroughly non-Calvinist.

I don’t consider Calvinism to be heresy. I think we’re far too quick to use that word. At this point it is used for just about anyone who disagrees with us in the slightest. That’s not to say that I don’t have very serious disagreements with Calvinism. It is apparent throughout this series that I do. So apparent that I believe it necessary to write this disclaimer before anyone gets the wrong impression. It is my belief that Calvinism, or Reformed doctrine, or the doctrines of grace, or whatever anyone wants to call it, defames the character of God in large part due to its misunderstanding of the Biblical definition of sovereignty.

It is also true that protestant Calvinists and non-Calvinists agree on a whole lot more than we disagree on. I do believe Calvinists and non-Calvinists can worship happily together under the same roof. I think it takes practical, intentional action to foster unity in such a scenario. I want to make abundantly clear that while David’s Calvinist views play center stage in the recounting of this story, they are in no way the reason for the opinions I have come to hold of him. I was content for two years to sit under his leadership knowing full well his theological views, and at no time did I attempt to cause division in our church. Any claims to the contrary are simply fallacious, and without ground.


What Else Do I Hope to Achieve?

It is my sincere desire to use our experience to help other non-Calvinist churches within our own Southern Baptist Convention to avoid this, now all-to-common, Calvinist take-over occurrence.

Go to Part 2

Go to Part 4