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.