Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Calvinists and Southern Baptists?

SBC Life has just published a couple of articles on Calvinism and they were brought to me courtesy of Baptist Press. See the articles here and here.

I thought both articles were fairly well written. Akin's was especially helpful in several areas. The sense I got from reading Yarnell's article was that Calvinists and Southern Baptists are two different groups. I'm not familiar with Yarnell and don't really know his theological leanings but his article especially has this flavor with quotes like, "Most Southern Baptists would counter..." and "In response, Calvinists argue...".

I have always seen Calvinism as a doctrinal belief system that can be held by any denominational group. Yet more and more literature seems to be popping up that sets Southern Baptists over and against Calvinism, as if the two cannot co-exist or that they are mutually exclusive. My first encounter with this sort of thinking came in 2000 when I was introduced to Fisher Humphreys' and Paul Robertson's book "God So Loved the World: Traditional Baptists and Calvinism".

The problem one creates when juxtaposing these two is akin to comparing apples with a fruit stand. Southern Baptists are a diverse group with many different doctrinal positions within its bounds. Calvinism is one of these doctrinal systems.

I'm glad we're starting to get some open dialogue about Calvinism in the SBC. I loved some of Akin's remarks and agree that we need some level-headed conversation and cooperation over this issue. The sad thing is that our convention has many men pastoring her churches who are left to die fighting a battle they didn't start over issues they never raised. Some churches have taken it on themselves to root out Calvinists and destroy their ministry, reputation, family (whatever it takes) to get them out of town. I personally know several people who not only approve of this behavior, but find delight in the pain and suffering of pastors who are confronted with such tragedy.

I hope that all of us will do our best to bridge the divide that has formed between Southern Baptists with different theological convictions; major on the majors, find something to rejoice about together, and exalt our God and Savior through love and charity.


Ben said...

Bobby Welch is a Southern Baptist? What?! Just kidding.

Good rhetoric, bro; we tried it in October and it didn't work. I wish it had, but the zeal of those who take delight in exterminating Calvinists causes mob mentality uproar.

Mob mentality + Congregational leadership x fear of Calvinism / reasonable people = my church.

I am also glad that they are atleast talking about it in the SBC. I will have to read the articles.


I'm not worthy! said...

this really has nothing to do with the blog, but I figured I would post up so you could see you have a new comment, get all excited, then get your excitement shot down by this.

But actually, I would really appreciate your opinion on my latest blog, so do check it out.


Question, when you say, "bridge the divide that has formed between Southern Baptists with different theological convictions," do you mean between... Oh... lets say Calvinism and Arminianism? If so, my intuition would ask, "how so?"

Diet Coke Mania said...

I agree that we need to work together. However, it is one thing to work with 3 or 4 point Calvinists (if there is such a thing) but it is quite another to work with an Arminian. Is that possible?

We should not be divisive but we must be biblically and theologically sound in our words and practices of ministry. Part of not being divisive is not mis-representing and attacking a particular theological position. This has got to stop.

One good thing about the attempt to return to the Particular Baptist roots of the SBC is the return to thinking theologically. I only hope that the theological differences that exist will not drive too much a of a wedge between the two groups.

you guys smell that? said...


Antique Religion said...

I am assuming that most Southern Baptist do not hold to staunch arminianism and I did not mention that in my post. Most of the SBC I believe holds to perseverence of the saints and also some form of divine election.

My simple thought was that those who are truly reformed and those who are not need to find the common ground of the gospel and work together on that basis. If someone by virtue of their theological position were to reject some basic tennet of the gospel, then by no means would I consider there to be any ground for cooperation in gospel ministry.

The struggle here as Ben pointed out is that there is a fear, and some are breeding that fear, of the doctrines of grace. Fear takes hold, ignorance fuels the fire, someone gets loud and a witch hunt ensues. This is what has to stop.

Diet Coke Mania said...

All you Calvies are scaring me to death.