Friday, August 17, 2012

Calvinism in the Southern Baptist Convention

Dr. Frank S. Page has named an advisory group to help the SBC navigate the issues surrounding Calvinism. I know many of the fine people he has appointed to the team. His goal is for these folks to "help him craft a strategic plan to bring together various groups within the convention who hold different opinions on the issue of Calvinism" and then to "develop a strategy whereby people of various theological persuasions can purposely work together in missions and evangelism." This is most welcome, IMHO.

I hope that some of the State-level SBC officials and others who have been attempting to wage an exclusionary campaign against Calvinism in the SBC will re-think their activities in light of what Dr. Page is so graciously doing here. Dr. Page is in print critiquing Calvinism but he also understands that some of the best and brightest (and a significant proportion of the younger generation) of the SBC are Calvinists, and that they are in complete accord with the historic Baptist tradition and the Baptist Faith and Message, and that they are aggressively committed to the Great Commission, evangelism, missions and church planting.

As a Bible-believing Presbyterian (PCA), I am so thankful for the SBC. Of course I love that many SBC Baptists have rediscovered their historic Calvinist roots, but I value the SBC for profound reasons other than that. I rejoice in the SBC commitment to inerrancy. I treasure the SBC's fidelity to the Gospel. I admire the SBC's focus on the Great Commission. I revel in the SBC's warm embrace of complementarianism. SBC Calvinists and non-Calvinists alike embrace these theological priorities. I revere Dr. Paige Patterson and love Dr. Albert Mohler too. I respect Dr. Malcolm Yarnell and Dr. Russell Moore. I appreciate Dr. Chuck Kelley and Dr. Danny Akin as well. I esteem Dr. Mark Dever and Dr. Johnny Hunt. And I could go on.

Friends, the SBC is hugely important to the rest of evangelicalism, and the vitality, unity and theological fidelity of the SBC is strategic for the well-being of robust Gospel witness here in the increasingly pagan Western world. I count you as a friend and ally, brethren of the SBC. Even if you think me to be suspect and dangerous because of my Calvinism and Presbyterianism (and, tell it not in Gath, my paedo-baptist convictions!), I love you still. And I pray for you. And I want you to prosper. And I thank God for you at every remembrance.


Wesley said...

I have not really understood why the SBC (vast sections anyways) have been so hostile towards Reformed soteriology. I'm not saying you have to be Reformed in your understanding of the Bible to be saved, but it makes no sense to have this division amoung brothers and sisters in Christ ala. Spurgeon's quote about Calvinists and Arminians and not needing to "reconcile friends."

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