Christianity,  Theology/Bible

Southern Baptists and Calvinism

Over the last several years, Southern Baptists have been having a pretty intense intramural debate about Calvinism. In a conversation that sometimes generates more heat than light, I am glad to see a recent conference that was more constructive. The conference was called “Calvinism: Concerned? Curious? Confused?” and it featured a panel of four Southern Baptist leaders who addressed the division in the SBC over this issue. Speakers included David Dockery, Frank Page, Hershel York, Kevin Smith, and Steve Lemke.

There are some positive things coming out of this conference that are worth noting. All the leaders seem to agree that Calvinism need not divide Southern Baptists. There also seems to be a strong consensus that the Baptist Faith & Message 2000 is an adequate confessional statement for Southern Baptist cooperation. I especially appreciate Frank Page’s call for unity on this point—both in his remarks at this conference and in his message to the SBC last June.

For those Southern Baptists who are reading this, I hope you’re paying attention to this discussion. It’s an important one, and these talks are an important part of the conversation. Many thanks to Paul Chitwood and the Kentucky Baptist Convention for putting this meeting together and for making the audio available for free. If you are interested in watching the videos from the session, click here. You can listen to or download the audio below.

David Dockery: Overview of the History of Baptist Theology [download]


David Dockery: The Current Resurgence of Reformed Theology [download]


Calvinism: Dialogue from Differing Theological Perspectives [download]


Panel Q and A [download]


Frank Page: A Vision for a Unified SBC [download]



  • dr. james willingham

    It is duly noted that there was not one solid five point calvinist in the group doing the discussions, and it was evident from their remarks. Strange that a conference would be held on a subject without a single full-fledged representative of the viewpoint being considered. Why? Could it be fear? Poor planning? Little thought? What is coming by the theology is going to be problems and troubles, because those who really grasp the essence of it, and I do not speak of belligerent five pointers or anything like that, will be the awful and awesome experience of The Third Great Awakening, the coming down of Heaven to earth, a spiritual coming of Christ, a transformation of society. What we really need is a conference on Sovereign Grace Theology and and its relationship to Great Awakenings. From 1740-1820 America experienced two Great Awakenings and saw the launching of the Great Century of Missions. The troubles are the froth of the leaven working its way through the mass of dough, changing and altering society and civilization. Only this time, it might well be the winning of the whole earth, beginning with this generation and continuing for a thousand generations as well as reaching to a million planets.

  • Adam Harwood

    I enjoyed the content and tone of the conference but was surprised to hear Hobbs and Rogers called “modified Arminians.” I’m fairly sure they would have rejected that label. Still, it was a helpful event for continuing this conversation among brothers within the SBC…

  • Josh Brown

    Unless Herchael York has recently changed his position on the atonement, he he is a five point Calvinist. In class a few years ago he identified himself as such. Like many Calvinists, both currently and historically, he claimed to hold the “sufficient for all/efficient for the elect” distinction, and expressed belief in God’s particular intention to save his own in the death of Christ. Some may hold a stricter definition, but the view I heard him express is mainstream Calvinistic thought on the atonement.

  • Nate Oliver

    Thanks Denny! I plan on sharing this link with several folks. I thought it was a great example of charity while disagreeing.

    What is your take on Dr Lemke, and plenty of others, really pushing against the idea of “original sin”?

  • Brenda Rick Smith

    Bro. Denny,

    Thanks so much for highlighting the conference on your blog, and sharing content with your readers. It is our prayer that the outcome of the conference will be charity, clarity and unity.


    Brenda Rick Smith
    External Communications Associate

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