If you're SBC & not a Calvinist...

Discussion in '2003 Archive' started by rlvaughn, Mar 27, 2003.

  1. rlvaughn

    rlvaughn
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    This topic is for non-Calvinists in the SBC.

    If you are a member of a church in the Southern Baptist Convention, and you are not a Calvinist, how do you feel about the resurgence during the past few years of Calvinism or Reformed theology?
     
  2. ScottEmerson

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    I've been directly involved in four churches since 1994. I read Southern Baptist literature on virtually a weekly basis. I read the Florida Baptist Witness every week. Not a one of any of these places then or now has indicated a surge of Calvinist doctrine. In fact, the only places that I here about such a "resurgence of Calvinism" is on this board (and others like it - any one rememebr the boards on the old reformed.org board?) and from a friend of mine in our worship team, whose previous church had a pastor that decided to brand non-Calvinists and caused a church split in Mobile, AL.

    So, pardon me if I don't completely buy the idea that Calvinism is gaining any kind of momentum. What kind of data do you have to support this claim?
     
  3. rlvaughn

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    Scott, I'm not interested in debating Calvinism or even your perception of whether there is any resurgence. I did not imply that Calvinism is taking over the SBC. I'm not SBC, but I do read a little about it. Unless you're living in a cave, you should know that there is more Calvinsm in the SBC than, say, 40 years ago. Several important leaders/writers are 5-pt Calvinists. So, for you, if there were any resurgence of Calvinism in the SBC, how would you feel about it? Is it a good thing? bad thing? immaterial and harmless? What about the Founder's Conference? Everyone else can answer the original question. ;)

    [resurgence - a rising again to life, activity, or prominence. Used in the first post to mean that Calvinism is on the rise in the SBC, as opposed to decline. When the SBC was formed, it was made up of very Calvinistically inclined churches. Over the years, the Calvinism declined, was maybe even near dormant.]
     
  4. William C

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    Well, I actually was a part of the resurgence myself. I've been to many of the founders conferences and I use to be proud of the Calvinistic growth within in SBC. Now I believe more like the artical that was posted on the other thread in the Baptist Standard. This resurgance is mostly seen among young people because its thrives upon ignorance. Arminians for the most part are ignorant of these issues and could not defend their beliefs if their lives depended on it, therefore many are "converted" because they don't know why they believe what they believe.

    If I sat down with 100 Christian college students I could almost gaurentee that I could get over 85% of them to adopt Calvinism. Then just one week later I could convert most if not all of those back to Arminianism. Why? Most of them are clueless. If someone with a little charisma puts together a couple of good illustrations, throws in a few dozen proof texts and sounds knowledgable they will believe anything he says almost without question. It's really sad.

    My prediction is that Calvinism will grow in numbers until eventually Arminians will actually begin to study and understand why it is they are Arminian in the first place and they will begin to formulate some defense. Calvinists, those who are actually objective with the text, will begin to understand what Arminians truly believe and eventually Calvinism will die out again. Until the next generation becomes lazy in studying God's Word and is hit all over again. History has a way of repeating itself.
     
  5. Hardsheller

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    Brother Bill,

    Calvinism Thrives on Ignorance?

    I'd like to see you debate that subject with Dr. Al Mohler. :D
     
  6. All about Grace

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    If you know anything about SBC life, you know that "resurgence" is a sacred word. I am reluctant to use it to identify the increase of Calvinistic consideration in some SBC circles. I concur that much of this increase comes from callow Calvinists who do not truly understand the issues. As the Associated Press article affirms, it is hard for 18-20 year olds to have a grounded theology at this stage of their journey. I have been through 2 Masters programs and a PhD program and I still do not have a solidified position on these issues. There is room for both.

    I think the increase has generated positive and negative responses. Positively it has caused some to move away from a man-centered theology. Negatively it has caused many to move to far in the opposite direction. It is a known fact the Calvinism issue has created some division in churches where ignorant students or leaders made it a dividing line. The danger of Calvinism is always in the second generation. Leaders such as Mohler have recognized this threat and have recently made attempts to move away from the type of Calvinism that isolates instead of unifies.

    I would put many of the leaders of the Founders movement in the isolates camp. I think they need to make a concentrated effort to get rid of their "our way is the only way - you are less spiritual than us Calvinists" spirit.

    As I mentioned in the other thread, the moment the SBC allows this issue to become focal, they have been distracted from their primary purpose.

    Just my opinions.
     
  7. ScottEmerson

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    Your question asked about the resergence. I replied that the question may not be accurate as there is no proof behind a resurgence.

    Well, it is not.

    And from where do you read this?

    The only times I hear about Calvinism reported in the mainstream Baptist press is when church splits occur, such as what happened to Dauphin Way Baptist Church in Mobile, AL. The pastor (Stephen Lawson) moved quickly to preaching Calvinism - to the point of hyper-Calvinism - and the attendence plummeted from 1,500 to 2,000 on a Sunday to 650.

    THe Calvinist throng of professors at Southern Seminary is often talked about, but they are few and far between at other Baptist seminaries.

    More than 40 years ago? I am aware of a few Southern Baptist Calvinist leaders, but not that many.

    I would probably feel indifferent about it, I suppose. There are so many amazing Baptist churches out there, and the ones who are growing and reaching the lost (from what I have seen and read) are predominently non-Calvinist. Many SBC churches are aligning with the Willow Creek Association, which, IMO, is a good thing (They don't fail to be Southern Baptist of course.) As for the Foudners conference, I cannot find one bit of evidence that says that they are growing in number. In fact, their assertion that Baptists are historically Calvinist has been challenged many times, most recently and notably by Estep from Southwestern.

    So how do I answer your original question? Like this: I feel indifferent since I don't perceive that there is a resurgence.

    [resurgence - a rising again to life, activity, or prominence. Used in the first post to mean that Calvinism is on the rise in the SBC, as opposed to decline. When the SBC was formed, it was made up of very Calvinistically inclined churches. Over the years, the Calvinism declined, was maybe even near dormant.]
    [/QUOTE]
     
  8. All about Grace

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    I agree with this assessment.

    And you will also discover that few of their leaders are pastoring growing churches.
     
  9. romanbear

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    Hi rlvaughn;
    The Bible clearly says in the last days there will be a falling away. This could be part of it. Calvinism IMO is not a Biblical doctrine.
    Romanbear
     
  10. Pastor Larry

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    Has anyone stopped to think that perhaps the willow creek model is not producing real disciples of Christ? I think there is an abundant amount of evidence to that fact. I don't see them taking the world by storm and turning it upside down. We must remember that growth is not only about numbers but about the quality. I can draw a big crowd to a number of things but that is not necessarily growth. Be careful not to mix them up.

    Long before the SBC, in the early days of America, virtually all of the church planting efforts were led by Calvinists. In the early days of missions, virtually all of the missionaries were calvinists. The bottom line is that our failure to evangelize is not about our doctrine but about our obedience.
     
  11. rlvaughn

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    Scott, I find it humorous that you say that you are indifferent toward Calvinism, while your antagonistic post shows that you are not. I ask for information and opinions, and you go off on a tirade. :rolleyes: [​IMG]
     
  12. npetreley

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    Well, I have to agree that Billist-arminianism thrives on knowledge. It thrives on knowledge of what the Bible does not say. [​IMG]

    (Doctrine: It does NOT say that apostles are saved the same way as the rest of us, therefore they are not. It does NOT say that total depravity and hardening are different, therefore they are not different. Etc.)
     
  13. KenH

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    From The Founders Journal, Issue 29, Summer 1997, pages 14-17:

    The Reformation of Doctrine and
    the Renewal of the Church:
    A Response to Dr. William R. Estep

    R. Albert Mohler, Jr.

    One of the most promising signs of renewal in Southern Baptist life is the emergence of genuine theological discussion and historical interest. After decades marked by the absence of significant interest in many doctrines,
    Southern Baptists are awakening to historic doctrinal debates in a new key.

    As if awakened from doctrinal amnesia, the denomination faces the promise of both renewal and reformation. In this process, we may recover our theological heritage even as we address our modern context of ministry.

    Dr. William R. Estep, one of Southern Baptists' most distinguished historians, has recently directed attention to a resurgent Calvinism in Southern Baptist life. The "Calvinizing" of the Southern Baptist Convention, he fears, is a
    dangerous development.

    I am pleased to have the opportunity to respond to Dr. Estep and to present a very different understanding of what is at stake. Though vitriolic and harsh in tone, his article deserves a respectful and thoughtful response.

    First, let me state at the onset that if Calvinism is accurately represented by Dr. Estep's treatment, I will have nothing
    to do with it. Nevertheless, few of Calvin's friends or enemies will recognize Calvinism as presented in Estep's article.

    Calvin and Calvinism

    Calvinism clearly draws its name from John Calvin, the sixteenth-century reformer whose towering intellect and biblical preaching gave birth to the "Reformed" tradition as one of the central streams of the Reformation. Calvin's
    mission was to establish the Church on the basis of Scripture, with its doctrine and practice drawn from Scripture itself.

    His Institutes of the Christian Religion, first published in 1536, was his effort to set forth the doctrines revealed in the Bible. Few works have come close to the Institutes in terms of influence in the Church. Elsewhere, Dr. Estep has
    described the Institutes as "one of Protestantism's greatest attempts at erecting a systematic theology." Calvinism is simply the Reformation tradition which is associated most closely with Calvin.

    Dr. Estep presents a very severe portrait of Calvin the reformer, and those looking for severity in Calvin need not look far. He was a sixteenth-century man who bore many of the prejudices and political dispositions common to his day. He would not understand the notion of religious liberty, and he was ready to use the arm of the law to enforce correct doctrine.
    No Calvinist I know would advocate Calvin's position on these issues, any more than modern Lutherans would endorse Martin Luther's anti-Semitism. Baptists who quickly reject Calvin's theology because of his shortcomings on
    other issues must, if honest, reject virtually any influence from previous centuries. This holds true for Dr. Estep's treasured Anabaptists as well.

    Calvin is not fairly depicted in Dr. Estep's article, but that is not the real issue. The issue is not Calvin, but the truth or falsehood of the doctrines he taught, and the doctrines now associated with his name.

    The Heart of the Matter

    The central tenet of Calvinism is the sovereignty of God. This is the starting point and the highest principle of Reformed theology. Calvinism is God-centered and draws its understanding of God directly from his self-revelation in Scripture. The God revealed in the Bible is the sovereign Creator, Ruler and Redeemer. His omnipotence, omniscience and governance over all things set this God of the Bible apart from all false gods.

    The God of the Bible is the holy, ruling, limitless, acting, all-powerful God who makes nations to rise and to fall, who accomplishes his purposes and who redeems his people. Arminianism--the theological system opposed to
    Calvinism--necessarily holds to a very different understanding of God, his power and his government over all things.

    Calvinism is most closely and accurately associated with the so-called "doctrines of grace," which summarize the teaching of Scripture concerning the gospel. The Bible teaches us that we are born sinners and are thus spiritually dead. Dead in our sins, we cannot on our own even respond to God's grace. Thus, as Jesus told his disciples, "For this reason I have said to you, that no one can come to me, unless it has been granted him from the Father" (John 6:65).

    Further, the Bible makes clear that God has chosen a people "chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father" (1 Peter 1:2). Paul, in writing to the Ephesian church, states that the Father has chosen us in Christ before the foundation of the world, and "predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ" (Ephesians 1:3-5). The New Testament resounds with words including "chosen," "election" and "predestination." The issue is not whether these are taught by Calvin, but whether they are taught in Scripture.

    We would like to think that we are smart enough, spiritually sensitive enough and responsive enough to choose to confess Christ without the prior work of God in our hearts. Unfortunately for our pride, this is not at all what the
    Bible reveals. God chooses us before we choose him. As Southern Seminary President E. Y. Mullins stated, "God's choice of a person is prior to that person's choice of God, since God is infinite in wisdom and knowledge and will not
    make the success of the divine kingdom dependent on the contingent choices of people."

    Calvinism is nothing more and nothing less than the simple assertion that salvation is all of grace, from the beginning to the end. God saves sinners. Jesus Christ died for sinners. As Scripture promises, all those who call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

    The God of the Bible saves sinners and holds those he has redeemed to the end. The vast majority of Southern Baptists hold to the doctrine known as the "perseverance of the saints," but that precious promise makes sense only in terms of the "doctrines of grace." Our choice of Christ is indeed necessary, but he has first chosen us--and he will keep us to the end.
    Many Southern Baptists find predestination and other doctrines difficult to understand and even offensive to our pride. But we cannot read the New Testament without coming again and again to these doctrines.

    Calvinism and Evangelism

    Dr. Estep charges that a revival of Calvinism will lead to a lessening of evangelistic commitment and missionary vision. This is a common charge, but it is reckless and without foundation. Indeed, many of the most significant
    missionary and evangelistic movements in the history of the Church have been led by those who held to the very doctrines Dr. Estep laments.
    These have included Charles Spurgeon, the greatest Baptist preacher of the last century, whose ministry at London's Metropolitan Tabernacle was among the most evangelistic in the history of Christianity. Spurgeon openly and
    consistently advocated all the distinctive doctrines of Calvinism and publicly identified himself as a Calvinist. In a day of doctrinal decline, Spurgeon sounded the alarm for a recovery of biblical truth and the "doctrines of grace." When asked how he reconciled his Calvinism and fervent evangelism, he responded, "I do not try to reconcile friends."
    Dr. Estep claims Andrew Fuller as an opponent of Calvinism, yet Fuller also held to he "doctrines of grace." He clearly advocated the doctrine of election. In The Gospel Worthy of All Acceptation, cited by Dr. Estep, Fuller
    affirms that "none ever did or will believe in Christ but those who are chosen of God from eternity."

    William Carey, the father of modern missions, was himself a Calvinist, as were leaders such as Jonathan Edwards and the great George Whitefield. The Evangelism Explosion program used by so many Southern Baptist churches
    was developed by a Calvinist.

    If Calvinism is an enemy to missions and evangelism, it is an enemy to the gospel itself. The Great Commission and the task of evangelism are assigned to every congregation and every believer. The charge that Calvinism is opposed
    to evangelism simply will not stick--it is a false argument. The "doctrines of grace" are nothing less than a statement of the gospel itself. Through the substitutionary work of Christ, God saves sinners. The great promise is that whosoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

    Calvinism and the Southern Baptist Convention
    Even the opponents of Calvinism must admit, if historically informed, that Calvinism is the theological tradition into which the Baptist movement was born. The same is true of the Southern Baptist Convention. The most influential
    Baptist churches, leaders, confessions of faith, and theologians of the founding era were Calvinistic.

    The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary was born of this Calvinistic tradition, as reflected in its Abstract of Principles. James P. Boyce, in calling for the seminary's founding, charged it to oppose all heresies, including Arminianism.
    It was not until well into the twentieth century that any knowledgeable person could claim that Southern Baptists were anything but Calvinists. In referring to early Southern Baptists (especially James P. Boyce), Dr. Estep charges
    that they misunderstood Calvinism. This is a strange and innovative charge, considering that Boyce, for example, had been trained at Princeton Theological Seminary--the fountainhead of Calvinism in nineteenth-century America.
    Boyce's colleague John A. Broadus--the greatest Baptist preacher of his day--was so certain that Calvinism was revealed in the Bible that he challenged those who sneer at Calvinism to "sneer at Mount Blanc." Broadus was
    certain that the doctrines known as Calvinism were those preached by Paul and the other apostles, and were revealed in Holy Scripture.
    Other Southern Baptist leaders were also well-identified Calvinists. These included J. B. Gambrell and B. H. Carroll, the founder of Southwestern Seminary. Calvinism was the mainstream tradition in the Southern Baptist Convention until the turn of the century. The rise of modern notions of individual liberty and the general spirit of the age have led to an accommodation of historic doctrines in some circles.

    Dr. Estep is correct in noting the modifications to Calvinism which have occurred among Southern Baptists. Most Baptists hold to at least part of Calvinism, while generally unaware of the whole.
    As Southern Baptists seek to recover our theological inheritance and the essence of biblical Christianity, I believe we will see a return to a more Calvinistic understanding of the gospel and a recognition of the absolute sovereignty of God.

    Nevertheless, my main concern is not that Southern Baptists return to Calvinism--or to any human theological system. Our main concern must be to see Southern Baptists return to theological health and biblical fidelity. This
    theological and biblical reformation will, I am certain, also lead to a blazing recovery of missionary zeal and evangelistic fervor--and to the renewal of our churches and denomination. Southern Baptists will truly be headed for
    a well-deserved dunghill only when we retreat from biblical truth and withdraw from evangelism and missions.

    We stand at an historic threshold. Now is the time for Southern Baptists to stand together on the great truths of God's Word and on the front lines of God's redemptive purpose. As Charles Spurgeon reminds us, we should rejoice
    whenever the Gospel is preached and shared--whether by a Calvinist or non-Calvinist.
    My personal agenda is not driven by Calvinism, but by the hope that Southern Baptists will embrace, confess, preach, and teach the truths of God's Word--and share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with every man, woman, and child
    on the earth. In this hope and vision we should all stand together.

    As a dear friend has well stated, the real issue is not whether John Calvin is your personal theologian, but whether Jesus Christ is your personal Savior. By God's grace, may we see genuine reformation and renewal in our churches--
    and a Great Commission vision in our hearts.
     
  14. ScottEmerson

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    Nah - I'm indifferent to the so-called resurgence that people are talking about, merely because there is no evidence to support it.
     
  15. KenH

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    I would hope we would all agree that how many people believe a certain doctrine is irrelevant to whether the doctrine is Biblically true or not. I do not believe what I believe because I think I am part of a majority or even a plurality. I believe what I do because I believe it is what is taught in the Bible and is therefore true. If I have to stand totally alone I am quite willing to do so. [​IMG]
     
  16. Hardsheller

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    Scott,

    I've heard of folks who bury their heads in the sand so they can't see what's happening around them but you are the first on this board who is willing to admit it.

    Thanks for your candid-ness.

    The idea that there is no evidence of a growth in Calvinistic doctrine in Southern Baptist life has been contradicted by numerous Baptist State Paper Articles on the subject in the last 15 years and also through much debate.

    And by the way when you come up for air again you might want to note that Dr. Estep whom you gave credit for a "recent" challenge to Calvinism in the SBC has been dead for almost three years. [​IMG]
     
  17. All about Grace

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    As usual, Mohler's words in the article cited above are well-crafted. He is an effective communicator. One can also see, particularly in the final few paragraphs, how he attempts to distance himself from those who would want to make Calvinism a divisive issue. Neither Al Mohler nor Southern Seminary can allow the true sentiments of some overzealous Calvinists to surface, for if they do, both Mohler and Southern's reputation is at stake.
     
  18. All about Grace

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    BTW, one can see the overzealous tendencies of some in the Calvinist circle by examining the "How to become a follower of Jesus Christ" section on the Founders movement website. It is basically a theological treatise on soteriology. But the time I got through reading about the 4 different types of faith, I was ... [​IMG] . I can't imagine a seeker trying to make it through that article. It kind of contradicts Paul's "believe on the Lord Jesus Christ" approach with the Philippian jailor. Remember making the gospel too complicated is as serious a threat as making it too "easy".

    Just some thoughts. [​IMG]
     
  19. William C

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    If you could set that up I'd be glad to debate with Al. [​IMG]

    But notice I didn't say that Calvinists were ignorant, I was saying that the resurgence is due to Arminian ignorance.
     
  20. ScottEmerson

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    I never said I buried my head in the sand. I told you the places that I've served, worked, read, seen, heard, and so on. NOthing about a resurgence.

    Then bring 'em out, if you have them.

    So dead men do not have good points? Aw, man. Oh, wait - Calvin is dead too. If your only debate against Estep is that he's eben dead for over two years, you have a very small argument, indeed.
     

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