As the Southern Baptist Convention meets in Houston, Texas, Albert Mohler has published a statement about the SBC’s Calvinism Advisory Committee. The committee was formed to address controversies about Calvinism within the denomination. Mohler’s statement is conciliatory and statesmanlike. Here’s an excerpt:
Our sincere hope is that Southern Baptists will be served by this statement. It is an honest statement of great common agreement, and of significant disagreement. That ground of vast agreement on the Gospel and Baptist convictions, mixed with disagreement over specific doctrinal questions, puts us right back where the SBC was founded.
The statement’s title is not accidental. The words are sequential. Truth comes first, then trust. We speak from deep conviction, based upon a common commitment to the inerrancy of Scripture and to the faith once for all delivered the saints. We trust each other, not because we agree on everything, but because we agree where it matters most. We also trust each other because we know each other, not just as participants in debate, but as friends of truth and co-laborers in Christ’s kingdom. We also trust each other because we know each other, learn from each other, and like each other. We are brothers in Christ, not just figures in a great debate.
Out of truth comes trust, and that trust produces a common testimony — even a common testimony about where we disagree. We are thankful that the Southern Baptist Convention is engaged in this debate, and not the debates over core doctrines and biblical morality that are shattering liberal Protestantism.
One symptom of a toxic theological debate is the tendency to write about one another rather than to talk to each other. I am committed, especially after the experience of working together on this statement, to pick up the phone before I pick up my pen.