Thinking Out Loud

June 2, 2012

Southern Baptists Affirm Non-Calvinist Distinctives

Apparently, this blogger isn’t the only one concerned with the way New Calvinist media — especially books and blogs — are dominating mainstream Evangelicalism.  On Thursday,

“A group of current and former Southern Baptist leaders has signed a statement affirming what they call the “traditional Southern Baptist” understanding of the doctrine of salvation, with the goal of drawing a distinction with the beliefs of “New Calvinism.”

“The statement was posted May 31 at SBCToday.com and includes a preamble and 10 articles…”

The suggestion is that New Calvinism — or what I’ve referred to on this blog as militant Calvinism —  is aggressively infiltrating Baptist thought in order to become the default doctrine.  On a personal level, I’ve seen it happen here in Canada where Baptist bloggers have so strongly identified with the writings of YRR (Young, Restless and Reformed) authors that it defies understanding why they haven’t left their Baptist denomination in favor of the Christian Reformed Church.

The document further asserts that the “vast majority of Southern Baptists are not Calvinists and that they do not want Calvinism to become the standard view in Southern Baptist life.”

“We believe it is time to move beyond Calvinism as a reference point for Baptist soteriology,” the statement reads. Soteriology is the study of the doctrine of salvation.

Each of the 10 articles includes a statement of what the signers affirm and what they deny. For instance, on the article about the Grace of God, the document says:

“We affirm that grace is God’s generous decision to provide salvation for any person by taking all of the initiative in providing atonement, in freely offering the Gospel in the power of the Holy Spirit, and in uniting the believer to Christ through the Holy Spirit by faith.”

The statement then adds:

“We deny that grace negates the necessity of a free response of faith or that it cannot be resisted. We deny that the response of faith is in any way a meritorious work that earns salvation.”

To read this statement in full, along with a reprint of the original ten-point statement, click here.

For the most part, the Reformed-dominated blogosphere has been somewhat silent on this, with most responses coming from within the Baptist movement where the SBC Today web page is more closely monitored.

Tom Ascol at Founder’s Ministries Blog disagrees with the document and has published three blog posts (so far, more to follow)  to respond. Before expressing concerns in part three however, he does provide a charitable, concise summary:

In essence, I believe that those who have published it are concerned by the rise of Calvinism among Southern Baptists at all levels of convention life, from local churches all the way down to various institutions and agencies. They think that Calvinism represents the views of only a small minority  while their own views represent the vast majority of Southern Baptists. They are concerned to be identified positively by what they do believe rather than negatively by what they do not believe (“non-Calvinist”). They have offered this document as a testimony to their beliefs and invite other Southern Baptists to sign it to show just how many agree with their views. By doing so, they do not want to intimidate or exclude Southern Baptist Calvinists, but rather are interested in asserting what they are convinced that most Southern Baptists believe on the doctrine of salvation.

[above link for this article, also available: Part One and Part Two]

At Pulpit and Pen, Jordan Hall writes:

…For example, consider the irony of articulating the “historic, traditional beliefs of Southern Baptists” by creating a new document. The premise itself is laughable. Could it just be our historic confessions and creeds do not suffice because they are, inherently, Calvinistic?

At the site BaptistTwentyOne, Jon Akin writes,

The statement is divisive for three reasons:

  • It inaccurately and unfairly describes the theology of the “New Calvinists.”
  • It implies that “New Calvinists” are having a detrimental impact on “contemporary mission and ministry” in the SBC without a shred of proof to back that up. It claims that the SBC has reached around the world with the Gospel “without ascribing to Calvinism,” and therefore fails to properly recognize that many godly Calvinists have contributed to the spread of the gospel through SBC cooperation in our history.
  • It is trying to unite a segment of Southern Baptist around a new theological statement, when the BFM2000 is enough to unite us in theology and mission.

and also

  • I could be wrong, and would be happy to admit it, but I don’t know any Calvinist who is arguing in print or sermon to make “Calvinism the central Southern Baptist position on God’s plan of salvation, “ or “the standard view in Southern Baptist life.”
  • The statement consistently responds to double predestination, therefore implying that this is the standard position of “New Calvinists,” when in reality it is a minority position, almost certainly an extreme minority. The statement only argues against double predestination and never really addresses what the biblical word “predestination” actually means in the text. The authors make it sound like the “New Calvinism” is fighting for double predestination, and that is simply not accurate.

Josh Buice at Delivered by Grace writes:

… As we move forward, do we want to be considered the “Fightin’ Baptists” or the “Religious version of the Hatifelds and McCoys?”…

…Furthermore, when SBC pastors, leaders, and professors sign this letter, it’s almost as if a line is being drawn in the sand and a request is being made for action.  What should the action be? …

… Have we forgotten our history as Southern Baptists where we had Calvinists such as Lottie Moon, James P. Boyce, John L. Dagg, A.T. Robertson, John A. Broadus, and many others who served in our convention along with those who were less Calvinistic (Reformed) in their doctrine?  They didn’t fight over it, throw mud, and pull out the heresy sword to use on one another.  In recent history we have had Albert Mohler serving together with Adrian Rogers.  Why are we headed down the broken road of schism over Calvinism today?…

There is more available online, and there will be even more as you’re reading this.  William F. Leonhart III, provides some historical context; apparently this isn’t the first time.

We’ll give Jordan Hall the last word on this:

Perhaps most offensive is [David] Hankins’ appeal to consensus. He says multiple times that “the majority of Southern Baptists do not embrace Calvinism.” He may be right. Statistics show that the majority of Southern Baptists do not embrace Christianity, let alone Calvinism. The majority of Southern Baptists can’t be found on Sunday morning. The majority of Southern Baptists are on Synergist church-rolls and are either dead or apostate because of the watered-down and anemic, shallow theology of Finney-style revivalism and easy-believism, decision-regeration that has eaten away at the SBC like a cancer. But Hankins is right; the majority of Southern Baptists are not Calvinists.

But c’mon Jordan, tell us what you really think.

April 4, 2012

Wednesday Link List

The timely graphic above has been making the rounds on Facebook.

  • Who was where, and when?  This Bible Gateway timeline of Holy Week is worth studying.  Click to see the post, then click again to see the image, and click a third time to enlarge it. You’ve never seen the Good Friday & Easter story in such detail.
  • And if you’re looking for a meaningful Easter song, go back a year on this blog and revisit this one.  Or this one.
  • A Christian group prayed over a section of highway leading into their town and anointed it with oil.  An atheist group decided to wash off the blessing. My favorite quote from this article: “What is inexplicable to me is how atheists or secularists could possibly be affected or  ‘offended’ by prayers when they don’t view them as having any real value?”
  • A Delta Airlines passengers refuses to shut off his iPad showing a child-centered pornographic film. The flight attendant refused to intervene.
  • Teens can see the Bully movie in Canada, but can’t in the U.S. In the meantime, the movie is drawing out discussion to a level that gives the issue some profile.
  • Mark Driscoll has stepped down from chairing the Acts 29 church planting network, turning responsibility over to Matt Chandler, which in turn relocates the ministry to Dallas from Seattle.  But he’s also stepping down from the council of The Gospel Coalition. 2-in-1 story at Wartburg Watch.
  • The blog Church and Synagogue Security News, now has a section devoted to security issues arising on mission trips.
  • CNN’s Religion blog gets inside the spiritual heritage of Oikos University, the Christian college in California where Monday’s shooting took place. Excerpt: “Korean-American Christianity probably represents the fastest-growing part of the Asian American religious landscape…”
  • If you enjoyed yesterday’s post by Alicia Yost from America’s Next Top Mommy, here’s another of her well-written adventures in parenting.
  • If October Baby isn’t playing at a theater near you, here’s the official trailer.  And here’s a review: Jeff and his wife really liked it.
  • Check out a couple of (very) modern worship songs from Harvest Bible Chapel in Oakville, Ontario.
  • Seductive faith: If it feels good, you’ve done it right. But consider the source of that kind of thinking.
  • Meet Jason Meyer, touted as the successor to John Piper at Bethlehem Church in Minneapolis. Elsewhere, Piper says, “The reason we are moving forward with the succession plan now has to do with a strong conviction that good pastoring is more than preaching.”
  • Financing a Christian college education ain’t easy. But a “miracle” can happen if you’re willing to work for it!  This Canadian story mentions a few principles that may apply more widely.
  • Nobody puts their hand up anymore in school, or elsewhere.  It’s all done with clickers.  Even the kids at the Bible Quiz at Southgate Church of Christ got mentioned in this New York Times technology story. They’re using 150 of them to record answers to 180 multiple choice questions.
  • Want more links? There’s always Lisa Buffaloe’s Links to Blog Blessings. Or check out The Read and Share File at Master’s Table.
  • Note to regular readers:  The link to the Christian Blog Topsites that usually appears in the sidebar has been removed as the site was apparently hacked. My computer did not entirely avoid some consequences, but is at least functional. Citing health concerns, proprietor Mark Strohm has decided to take the site down. We thank Mark for his years of service to this blog, introducing us to new blogs and introducing new readers to ours.

The Silver is the New Black Theme. Blog at WordPress.com.