Is there a conspiracy to Calvinize the SBC as some are now asking? Personally, I do not like the term conspiracy. It is a degrading term intentionally used to shame anyone who dares disagree with what is obviously taking place in the SBC. Is there a conspiracy as some are asking? My answer is “probably not.”
Here is what I do believe is accurate; there is a definite agenda being led by a few that has every intention of bringing the SBC into a Reformed Mode. There is no doubt that this is true. Do these individuals have the right to lead in this agenda? I would answer that question with a qualified “yes” as long as the convention allows it to continue. Note, I did not say “if the convention agrees with it”; I said “allows it to continue.” There is a profound difference in the two statements. This actually favors the Reformer’s efforts and I believe they understand this very well. Inaction is as effective as an affirmation. Inaction is the result of a couple things. First of all, people cannot respond to something they are not aware of. An overwhelming number of churches and individuals have no idea what is going on with respect to the issue of Calvinism and the ramifications of a Calvinized SBC. Secondly, there are churches whose pastors and even people in the pew who are aware of problems to varying degrees but have no desire to get involved in any confrontational circumstances. They are concerned about their Jerusalem and figure God will work out the Judean issues.
Does the convention have the right to say, “Not so fast” to this reformed movement and agenda to further its level of influence in the SBC? Absolutely. Each side has an obligation and responsibility to do what it believes is Biblical and God’s mandate as they see it. That is the beauty of what Southern Baptists have traditionally held to as the Priesthood of the Believer and the autonomy of the Local church, which is extends to the cooperative work of the convention and its entities because the cooperative work is an extension of the work of the local church.
The problem as I see it rests in the ramifications of the agenda if allowed to continue its current path. Some are arguing against the ecclesiastical structure many in the Reformed camp favor. I personally am not as concerned about what a particular church does with its own local leadership model but what concerns me most is this confessional nature of church plants and this obsession to adhere to the BF&M2000 that is consistently being put forth by those who are leading this Reformed revival of sorts; for once this group gains control of the convention, I am personally convinced that the BF&M will be modified to reflect a definite Reformed position that will determine levels of fellowship and at that point the SBC will be forever changed. This would certainly be what I would do if I were a part of that movement. I would expect no less from those who are leading it today.
My concern does not rest with Calvinist pastors. I am personally convinced that a large majority of professing Calvinists understand intellectually that men are dead, TD and that God efficaciously calls them to life through regeneration and the elect are irresistibly saved but I am also convinced that most of them believe in their hearts and preach the substitutionary death of Jesus on the cross to pay the penalties for the sins of men who will repent and by faith trust Christ to be saved. I believe we share the same conviction that the gospel invitation is to all who will come; Calvinists believe that those who do come are those that God has chosen to save. While there are significant theological differences with respect to how and why the lost come, I do believe we all do stand on common ground with respect to wanting to see the lost saved. For that I am grateful.
I am not at all comfortable with the agenda to further Calvinize the SBC. I believe this move will force the convention into a “top down” hierarchy as opposed to a “bottom up” influence and that will bring the SBC to a new place in its history and a sad day for its future. While Calvinists have always been a part of the SBC, if this new found influence in today’s SBC is allowed to continue, it may well produce a history that may not reproduce “His Story.”