Those who have been watching the recent debates over Calvinism in the Southern Baptist Convention will be interested in a recent sermon by Dr. Jerry Vines and a response by Tom Ascol.
Dr. Vines, elder statesman of the SBC conservative resurgence, preached a message last Sunday against five-point Calvinism. He delivered the sermon “Calvinism: A Baptist and His Election” at First Baptist Church of Woodstock, Georgia, and charged among other things that “In churches where Calvinist doctrine is taught, there is a tendency to neglect witnessing and evangelism and not win souls” (see the sermon here).
Dr. Vines’ message screams for a response from denominational leaders who never hesitate to issue warnings to Southern Baptist Calvinists whom they label “Calvinazis” and charge with being more willing to fly across the country to debate Calvinism than to cross the street to witness to a lost person. Wouldn’t it make sense that those who issue such warnings should feel some compulsion to issue them in both directions? Will this kind of complete misrepresentation of the theological heritage of the Southern Baptist Convention and the theological convictions of thousands of Southern Baptist pastors be given a pass by denominational leadership? If recent history is any indicator, that is exactly what we can expect (source).
This is an interesting debate that I hope will continue. The Bible, Theology, and Baptist history are all items that Southern Baptists would do well to understand with greater clarity. In this respect, I hope that this continuing conversation will be helpful.
Tracing the Recent Debate among Southern Baptists over Calvinism (From the Baptist Press)
— Daniel L. Akin, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, N.C., and Malcolm B. Yarnell III, assistant dean for theological studies, director of the Center for Theological Research and associate professor of systematic theology at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, wrote differing opinions on T.U.L.I.P. (an acronym relating to the Doctrines of Grace that largely define Calvinism). These originally appeared in the Southern Baptist Conventionâ€™s journal SBC Life, and Baptist Press subsequently published them online. (Link to Yarnellâ€™s column or Akinâ€™s column or see URLs below.)
— On June 12, R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., and Paige Patterson, president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, discussed Calvinism during two one-hour-long breakout sessions of the SBC Pastors’ Conference. The sessions, titled, â€œReaching Todayâ€™s World Through Differing Views of Election,â€ drew standing room only crowds. (Link to the Baptist Press report or see URL below.)
— During the SBC annual meeting, June 13-14 in Greensboro, N.C., John S. Connell, senior pastor of Calvary in Savannah, Savannah, Ga., offered a motion asking the SBC Executive Committee to establish a committee to study the impact of Calvinism on Southern Baptists and to recommend any necessary actions.
Additionally, the first study released by the newly formed LifeWay Research, a department of LifeWay Christian Resources, the SBC publishing arm, addressed Calvinism, finding the number of Southern Baptist pastors embracing five-point Calvinism to be relatively small (about ten percent), but that the conversations on Calvinism within the Southern Baptist Convention have brought renewed interest to the theological system. (Link to a Baptist Press article or see URL below).
Yarnell on T.U.L.I.P.: http://www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?ID=22971
Akin on T.U.L.I.P.: http://www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?ID=22970
Mohler & Patterson: http://www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?ID=23457
LifeWay study on Calvinism: http://www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?ID=23993
Founders Ministries blog: www.founders.org/blog
Ergun Caner: www.erguncaner.com
Emir Caner: www.emircaner.com