“Traditionalists” – What Do You Want from Calvinists?[0

Discussion in 'All Other Discussions' started by Revmitchell, Feb 16, 2013.

  1. Revmitchell

    Revmitchell
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  2. Revmitchell

    Revmitchell
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    "This very good question may result in relatively few comments, given the ground rules restricting Calvinists from chiming in. There are simply a fewer number of Traditionalists who engage SBC Voices.

    While I do not presume to speak for all the Traditionalists, I do write and comment here regularly, so I’ll give this a try and then run off to do some yard work, hopefully allowing my commentator number to fall on my 23rd Anniversary with Karen tomorrow and the week of VBS to follow.

    WHAT DO TRADITIONALISTS WANT FROM CALVINISTS?

    1. We DO NOT want you to abandon your views, be kicked out of the convention, or sit quietly in the corner. You have the same right to express your views as we have to express ours.

    2. We DO want you to respect our right to declare what we believe, to populate a list of people who believe it, and perhaps even to create a few organizations and events focused on the promotion of our own soteriology, just as you have a variety of events and organizations focused on the promotion of yours.

    3. We DO want you to understand that, up until now, we have been far less organized than you have been, possessing no Traditionalist boot camps or missions agencies specifically tied to our own soteriology. We MAY begin to form such groups, and if so, we do not wish for you to perceive that as an ATTACK against YOUR soteriology, but rather as an ADVANCE of OUR OWN.

    4. We DO want you to know that sometimes, even though we believe ours is the majority view, we have encountered on occasion a peculiar sense that the opposite is true. For example, if only 15% of the convention is Calvinist, we should not attend a Southern Baptist Pastor’s Conference in which 50% or more of the speakers are Calvinists, many of them not even Southern Baptists. This makes us feel like strangers in our own convention. We do not want our Pastor’s Conference to become T4G or TGC or to adopt their panel of speakers.

    5. We DO want you to have a voice in convention matters (leadership positions, writing materials at Lifeway, publishing academic books and papers at our seminaries) but we DO NOT want to see that voice presented in a manner disproportionate to the composition of our denomination. Your voice should be as strong as your influence merits, but we do not wish to see our leadership give Calvinists a greater platform than Traditionalists to promote their views, plant churches, host conferences and so on.

    6. We DO want Calvinists to understand that our pet peeve is being told we are unable to comprehend what they believe. As difficult as it is to accept, most of us have indeed mastered at least the easy words of the English language, and we have a fair idea of your doctrinal position. The fact that we do not describe your views in the very same manner that you do is clearly related to our differing views. May I humbly suggest you do not always accurately characterize our views either? I believe this is intrinsic to debate.

    7. We DO want Calvinists to recognize that they are NOT going to be allowed quietly to reform, organizationally, the institutions of the Southern Baptist Convention. Whether or not such reform is being attempted is a moot matter of conjecture. Either way, it is not going to happen.

    I’m sure there are other items that could be added, but I think most of this fits under this final exhortation: “Relax. You already knew we existed. You knew we believed a different soteriology. You knew we were disorganized and a bit caught off guard by the rise of New Calvinism in Baptist life. We do not wish you any harm. But we will not surrender the selection of speakers, the promotion of leaders, or the transitioning of institutions in the Southern Baptist Convention without a clear response from those of us with rather important differences of opinion doctrinally. While we have no intention of losing our majority position, neither do we have any desire to remove adherents of the minority position.” Prayerfully, we can coexist and serve our Lord and Savior together as we share the gospel throughout the world.

    P.S. Upon further reflection, I would have to add one final request, which I recall Dr. Paige Patterson suggesting as far back as the collegial conversation he held with Dr. Mohler at the convention five or six years ago, to this effect: We DO expect all ministers and professors to be forthcoming and crystal clear in all of their theological commitments when being interviewed by schools or churches."
     
  3. Revmitchell

    Revmitchell
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    "I’ll begin with what I DON’T want. I don’t want Calvinistic Baptists to abandon their doctrinal convictions, keep quiet, or leave the SBC. I don’t want to see anyone removed, fired, or replaced. And I don’t expect anyone to sign a doctrinal statement if they can’t affirm it in good conscience. Also, I don’t expect anyone to sign a doctrinal statement which favors either side of this discussion since they serve ALL Southern Baptists. And I don’t want to see any further division or disunity over this issue. I have already heard from dear brothers and sisters who have been hurt by my signing this statement. The convention-wide discussion which this statement has prompted has been, in my view, difficult but necessary.

    What do I desire from Calvinists in the SBC? Two things.

    1. I want to continue serving the Lord together with these brothers as co-laborers in fulfilling the Great Commission. That’s my desire.

    Baptists have always been comprised of those who resist certain Reformed doctrines (of course, that’s me) and others who embrace them (that’s you). We have served the Lord together for 400 years. Back then, we were known as Particular Baptists and General Baptists. Later, we were Charleston Baptists and Sandy Creek Baptists. But because there is significant agreement on most doctrines, we have been able to serve the Lord together.

    2. Please stop characterizing Calvinistic theology as the only view which is faithful to the Scriptures. When Calvinism is held up as the only viable option for serious and faithful Christians, then the implication is that if a person rejects certain tenants of Calvinism, then he is rejecting the clear teachings of God’s Word.

    Because this discussion centers on our understanding of the Gospel, it is critically important. I’m not concerned with the name of the view but with its doctrinal affirmations and denials. If the theological views in Hankins’ statement are unbiblical (which some people have claimed), then there is rampant heresy within the SBC. If, however, the views in the statement are biblical and orthodox, then churches within the SBC should be able to continue to cooperate.

    In my view, Hankins’ statement is an attempt to bring this discussion to the forefront. Can SOME Southern Baptists affirm a doctrine of salvation which rejects several core tenants of Reformed theology? If so, then all is well. If not, then there are much bigger problems than signatures on this pastor’s document.

    Thanks again for the opportunity to be heard, my dear brothers and sisters in Christ.

    In Him,

    Adam"
     
  4. Revmitchell

    Revmitchell
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    I think Rick and Adam have made some excellent points. Let me just add a few comments about three “pet peeves” of mine in this area:

    (a) “Traditional Baptist” — This is not perfect nomenclature, but it’s hard for those of us who sometimes identify with this nomenclature to think of a better nomenclature. I had this problem recently in chatting with Kentucky Baptist Convention leaders about how to describe my dialogue on Calvinism with Dr. York in August. His was pretty easy — he is going to be the Calvinist Baptist. But then, that’s not accurate either, because there are many tenets of Calvinism that he (and indeed no Baptist) accepts. That’s why it is impossible to be fully Baptist and fully Calvinist at the same time. Baptists don’t believe in infant baptism, elder rule, etc. I have suggested the term “Calvinistic” to distinguish these, but language is often not used very precisely in these discussions.

    So, how should I describe my position? My preferred term is “Baptist,” (and hence I am a signer of the “Not Calvinists or Arminians, But Baptists” statement). We would rather not have our theology defined by the framework of either Calvinism or Arminianism. And, I doubt if Dr. York would like it if I were listed as “Baptist,” as if his view weren’t Baptist. So, evidently, a modifier to “Baptist” must be added. “Traditional” is accurate only in the time frame of the last century — if you go back further in Baptist history, Baptists have swung like a pendulum between Calvinism and Arminianism, but usually somewhere in the middle and leaning to one side. It is “traditional,” however, for us who have lived a good while, and all our lives this has been the strong majority consensus. I have often used the term “majoritarian Baptists” because, indeed, LifeWay Research statistics indicate that approximately 90 percent of Souhern Baptists are not 5 point Calvinists. But that’s not a compelling term. “Mainstream Baptists” was already taken by CBF types. To claim “Baptist Identity” (which I do) suggests that Calvinistic Baptists aren’t really Baptists, which I would not want to say. So, “traditional Baptists” is a designator name that we’ll have to live with. :)-)

    (b) “Arrogance” — Arrogance is the word that I hear so often from pastors commenting on young Calvinistic pastors in their association, or bloggers who suggest that anyone who doesn’t agree with them is unbiblical or exhibit poor scholarship. One well-known person told me recently, “I’m just tired of being called stupid.” Certainly, this is the case for many “Calvinazi” bloggers who are insulting, angry, and “in your face.” I’ve gotten to where I have a side avocation of trying to guess how many posts after mine it will take before the first ad hominem attack comes. It seldom gets beyond three. There is evidently (for reasons I don’t understand) an innate academic arrogance in young Calvinists. Westminster Seminary Calvinist Michael Horton in his book “For Calvinism” describes this as the “cage stage,” when young Calvinists should be locked up until they can speak respectfully to others. This has led some to accuse Calvinism of being a modern gnosticism, in that it has a secret knowledge that makes them superior to others. I’m not saying that, but when well-known Calvinistic Baptists claim that the gospel IS Calvinism, or that anyone who reads the Bible faithfully will become a Calvinist, that does come across as very arrogant — I’m right, you’re wrong, and you’re not really fully Christian until you agree with me.

    As Rick and Adam have stated so well, we have no problems with Calvinists being Calvinists in Calvinist churches, or in any church. Our problems are with Calvinists who get in our face, who attack our character, who try to take over churches, and who obviously view us with disdain. That attitude, summarized as arrogance, is a large part of the problem. Most of us have many Calvinistic friends with whom we fellowship regularly. We have worked cooperatively and constructively with them for years, partnering and fellowshipping in many ways. I have brought a number of such people into our own faculty at NOBTS. They are probably the overwhelming majority of Calvinistic Baptists. But the voice of the minority is much louder, and it has created a huge perceptual problem. If Calvinistic Baptists could rein in some of these shrill voices, it would be a great step toward unity.

    (c) “Caricature,” “straw man,” “boogey man” — I think I’ve come to the point that these words almost evoke a knee-jerk response when I see them in blog comments by Calvinists. The truth is, there are many Calvinisms. When traditional Baptists respond to something that a Calvinist has told them or a Calvinist author they have read, it might not be what all Calvinists believe, or even the majority of Calvinists believe. But it is what one or more Calvinist believes. We’re not making this stuff up. A Calvinist has said this, and now we’re worried that more Calvinists or most Calvinists may believe this.

    To put the shoe on the other foot, I think how Calvinists address what they call the “altar call” or “the sinner’s prayer” is a caricature, a straw man argument, or a boogey man. I believe that the misuses they mention are a rare exception, not the rule. I’ve rarely seen it myself in decades of ministry. But I don’t deny that these abuses ever happen. Likewise, there are many varieties of Calvinists and they say a wide variety of things. I just did an accreditation visit at a PCUSA seminary that none of the faculty affirmed the five points of the Synod of Dort. Yet they considered themselves strongly Calvinist. So, it would be great if Calvinists would redirect their claims about being caricatured, and instead acknowledge (as did Calvinist Kenneth Stewart in his book “Ten Myths about Calvinism”) that there are many streams of Calvinism. What would be more productive is for a Calvinistic Baptist to say, “I know that you might have heard some Calvinists say this, but that is not what I’m saying. I disagree with that Calvinist perspective. Let me explain what MY view is . . .”

    I don’t mean to be “flame throwing” in these remarks. I’m just trying to respond to the question about what it is that “bugs” many traditional Baptists about the New Calvinism. Having said that, as I have said many times, my hope is that we can find a way through this present time and discover ways we can work more productively and constructively together for the sake of the Kingdom."
     

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