An ad-hoc task force appointed to study Calvinism’s impact on the Southern Baptist Convention says the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message is a sufficient guide for orthodoxy in the nation’s second-largest faith group behind Roman Catholics. "We should call upon all Southern Baptists to promote the unity we share within The Baptist Faith and Message and, while recognizing that most Southern Baptists will believe and teach more than what that confession contains, we must never believe or teach less," the 16-member task force says in a 3,200-word report published online at SBC Life.
An informal advisory group appointed by SBC Executive Committee head Frank Page, the task force will not report officially to the convention, but Page is expected to reference it in his report to messengers at the SBC annual meeting scheduled June 11-12 in Houston.
Page named the group last year amid statistics showing that recent seminary graduates embraced a rigid Calvinism at percentages far higher than the people in Southern Baptist pews. Convention leaders worry that young pastors bringing those views into churches can be divisive, particularly if the congregation is unaware of the differences between the two views.
They also fear division among pastors and denominational leaders, as rumor mills circulate reports both of Calvinists trying to “take over” the convention and of qualified scholars being denied teaching jobs because they adhere to Calvinist views.Today (June 11) The Baptist Standard posted a followup article entitled Advisory team seeks to avert SBC split on Calvinism in which it was reported that:
The committee, chaired by Union University President David Dockery, included both Calvinists, who emphasize God’s sovereignty and downplay free will, and others who accept parts of Calvinism, such as mankind’s fallen state and belief that a truly saved Christian cannot fall from grace, but not ideas like God predetermines who is saved or damned and that Jesus died only for the elect. Read more ...
Growing disagreements over the role of Calvinism will make the Southern Baptist Convention stronger, not weaker, as long as its focus remains on evangelism, members of an advisory team commissioned to study the topic told hundreds in Houston June 10.
But whether the rest of the convention sees it that way will depend on churches, pastors and individuals deciding to trust Baptists with whom they disagree on the subject, team members said.
"I sense an extreme level of anti-Calvinist" sentiment across the convention, said SBC Executive Committee President Frank Page, who convened an advisory team made up of Calvinist and non-Calvinist Southern Baptists.
"I deal with an anti-Calvinism that is beyond harsh," Page, a self-described non-Calvinist said during a question-and-answer session attended by at least 300 at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston. "Trust is hitting a new low."
That can be overcome only if Baptists on either side of the theological debate speak "not at each other, but to each other," Page said.
The Q&A session centered on the team’s seven-page report, "Truth, Trust, and Testimony in a Time of Tension," which lays out the differences in the views of election and salvation held by each side, and concludes those views can co-exist if everything else is Bible- and Christ-centered. Read more ...Concerning the "Truth, Trust, and Testimony in a Time of Tension" report, R. Albert Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, stated:
This statement speaks volumes about the ability of all Southern Baptists of good faith and good will to work together eagerly and enthusiastically. As the statement affirms, these tensions have been present within the Southern Baptist Convention from the very beginning of our life and work together. We are people who take theology seriously. But we are also people who take seriously our joy and privilege in working together in service to the Great Commission. We also made a bold statement of support for and agreement in The Baptist Faith and Message. We are a confessional people, gladly affirming together the faith once for all delivered to the saints. I am thankful for every member of this task force and for the privilege of working together in this process and on this historic and timely statement.For more from Albert Mohler on the statement see his blog article here.
I hope you will join with me in praying for the peace of our SBC brethren as they seek to proclaim the Gospel to a lost and dying world.