Suggestions for Determining Whether a Pastoral Candidate Is a Calvinist

On March 5, 2015 I posted the following article on sbctoday.com. Although the article is the same, the questionnaire that is immediately below this article has been updated.

I believe the vast majority of Calvinists seek to be clear about their belief in Calvinism when interviewed by a pastoral search committee. I personally know some Calvinists who seek to make this very clear in the interview process. However, and quite unfortunately, that is not always the case.

On one occasion, the Director of Missions in one of our Oklahoma associations invited me to speak to the pastors on the subject of Calvinism. The Director told me of two churches in his association that, despite their desire and best effort to call men who were not Calvinists, ended up calling men who were Calvinists. The search committees attributed this unfortunate eventuality to the fact that the pastoral candidates were, shall we say, less than forthright about being Calvinists. In each case, this cast the respective churches into turmoil and a number of people were hurt.

I have received calls regarding this very problem from people who served on their church’s pastoral search committee one church in my own city and one from as far away as California. In both cases the church was seeking to call a non-Calvinist pastor. In each case, the committee asked specific questions such as, “Are you a Calvinist?” Being convinced the man was not a Calvinist, they extended a call to him only to find out later that he was in fact a five-point Calvinist. One even went so far as to say that he agreed with John Piper on everything, but he was not a Calvinist.

By the time I spoke with them, the man had already been called and was serving as pastor. Of course, the churches were in turmoil. All of this could have be avoided if pastoral candidates practiced speaking truthfully about their beliefs so that the members of the committee, usually laymen, could understand precisely the candidate’s position regarding Calvinism.

The Following Questionnaire is downloadable.