Founders Ministries Executive Director Tom Ascol, who in the 1980s helped launch a movement to establish five-point Calvinism as the new orthodoxy in the Southern Baptist Convention, was hospitalized after collapsing at his church Sunday morning.
The Founders Ministries announced on Sunday that Ascol, pastor of Grace Baptist Church in Cape Coral, Florida, “suddenly fell to the ground and was unresponsive” while ministering at church Sunday morning.
He was taken to the hospital, where his vital signs were reported stable and he was “in and out of responsiveness,” according to the statement posted on social media Sunday afternoon.
An update hours later said Ascol was “much more coherent and responsive.”
“While he has little mobility he is speaking clearly, smiling, and talking of the goodness of God,” Jared Longshore, Founders Ministries vice president and associate pastor at Grace Baptist Church, said in the update.
Along with Timothy George, David Dockery and Tom Nettles, Ascol was one of a handful of Southern Baptist scholars in the early 1980s to argue that Calvinism as articulated by the Dutch Reformed Church in the 1619 Synod of Dort formed the primary theological framework for the first two generations of SBC founders.
Named after French Reformer John Calvin, the Calvinist system — popularly summarized by the mnemonic TULIP — asserts that God saves every person on whom God has mercy, regardless of their own unrighteousness.
The Founders Conference, established in 1982, called for renewed attention the so-called doctrines of grace, including ideas such as election, predestination, the sovereignty of God and the inability of man to respond in faith unless God first regenerates him.
While small at first, the group got a boost in 1993 when Albert Mohler was elected ninth president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. Mohler, a prominent Calvinist, demanded literal fidelity to the Abstract of Principles, part of the seminary’s original charter adopted in 1858. By 2010 about 30 percent of recent seminary graduates identified as Calvinists.
Ascol, who earned both the M.Div. and Ph.D. degrees from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, recently spoke out against social justice ideology emerging within the SBC, calling it a “Trojan Horse” that is allowing “godless ideologies” to infiltrate the church.
A trailer for a forthcoming documentary, “By What Standard,” alleged that “unbiblical agendas” are being advanced in the name of social justice “under the guise of honoring and protecting women, promoting racial reconciliation, and showing love and compassion to people experiencing sexual dysphoria.”
Some fellow Calvinists complained they were misrepresented in comments included in the trailer. Three Founders Ministries board members resigned because of disagreements over the film. Ascol said he was saddened by the impasse but intended to move forward with the film project “convinced that the issues we are confronting are of vital importance.”
A longer 14-minute preview premiered Dec. 6.
At this summer’s SBC annual meeting, Ascol opposed passage of a resolution defending the use of critical race theory and intersectionality “as analytical tools subordinate to Scripture” in recognizing distinctions related to ethnicity, gender and culture.
Last month the Tennessee Baptist Convention passed a resolution disagreeing with the SBC statement, denouncing such theories from the social sciences as “inconsistent with a biblical worldview and theology.”