The Southern Baptist Convention and Calvinism

I understand the seriousness of the situation that has made these days decidedly difficult to be a Southern Baptist. i responded to a blogger who poured her heart out over the frustration she is experiencing with all the tension that is presently being felt by many in the SBC with respect to the issue of the influence of Calvinism in the Convention. Here is my response to her, and to all who share her frustration. (In reading over this post, I have made a couple grammatical changes here from the original response.)

Thank you for sharing your heart and your frustrations. Your sentiments are probably shared more than you realize on BOTH sides of the isle, even though they may or may not be so easily visible. The problem as I see it, is not really aimed at individuals as much as it is aimed at ideologies. This is the difficult part to this whole process, at least for me. I believe with all my heart, the majority of folks who are participating in the process have as a primary mindset ministry and reaching people for Jesus and being about the business of bringing glory to God. I think we all get that to one degree or another, especially the more mature ministry minded individuals. However, it is often difficult for many to separate the issues from the personal. That is where I believe most of the problems stem in these kinds of discussions and that is what leads to most of the frustrations for all concerned, as you have rightly expressed.

Now, to the ideology. It would be nice for everyone to “get along and go along together for ministry” after all, that is what I believe has made the SBC great and that is the spirit of cooperation in spite of the theological differences. Calvinists and non-calvinists have worked together for decades and the SBC has moved forward. The problem for me is the Calvinist influence that has now taken over the entities of the SBC and continues to grow by the minute. That is my problem. I do believe the Bible teaches that the gospel is the gospel these guys are clearly proclaiming; I do not believe that God and God alone decides who is and by default who is not saved.

Now, it is entirely possible that we may all be wrong but one thing is absolutely clear, we cannot both be right. So, when it comes to how a lost person passes from death unto life and goes from being lost to being saved, there is a MIGHTY gulf that separates me and the 5-point calvinist. And here is the real caveat in this; the 5-point calvinist is as adamant in his position against mine as I am firm against his and he does not like my position any better than I like his. Some in that group want to return the SBC to what they deem its theological roots; I want the convention to preserve its current state, which is decidedly and overwhelmingly non-calvinist. We all have a right to lead and that is what we are all doing and it is painful and will continue to be so until there is some kind of resolution.

So, what is the correct thing to do? My answer is to be as diligent as I can to stand by what I believe by conviction is what the Bible says about conversion and I believe those on the other side of the issue should and will do the same. I hate what is happening; I hate the conflict. I hate the division but I had nothing to do with the issue overtaking the entities and only wish I had seen it coming sooner.

Thank you all for your continued love for the Lord and the lost and His kingdom!

May God continue to lead and bless the SBC and all of our respective ministries for His glory and the benefit of those we are privileged to impact with the gospel message that Jesus has come to seek and to save the Lost!

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About sbcissues

Interested in bringing the issues facing The Southern Baptist Convention to light.
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13 Responses to The Southern Baptist Convention and Calvinism

  1. DRT says:

    Hi, my first time here. I live in Virginia and see the battleground that is out there. I just found your site and have subscribed.

    This is a very difficult issue. The reason I feel it matters is that we become like, or approach, or try to approach, the god that we worship. The god of calvinism is not the type of god that I believe we have nor would I want in our churches.

    God bless.

    • Jan Walker says:

      This is the usual response from one who has been in a traditional Baptist setting most of their lives. My husband and I felt just like you do until we took off the blinders and allowed the Word of God to speak to our hearts. God is sovereign in all things – He is the Potter and we are the clay. Everything about this teaching of Calvin makes your skin crawl when you first hear it. I know – mine crawled. We cannot ever understand the New Testament until we really understand the Old. The secret lies there. I call it a secret because I believe it to be so. Deep things of God are hidden in the Scripture for a reason. Search it out, it is there.

      • sbcissue says:

        Jan,

        Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. You are right, Everything about this teaching of Calvin makes your skin crawl when you first hear it and it is still true for me today. It is interesting indeed that you mention the OT because while I do not believe the NT validates total depravity I find NO evidence of even a hint of total depravity in the OT. There is no indication whatsoever of regeneration prior to God speaking to the Israelites… in fact He speaks to His servants and they speak on His behalf; no regeneration to correct their dead depraved spiritual hearts. In fact, the opposite is true; the children of Israel were a rebellious idol worshiping people who were blessed by in large because of the faithfulness of their leaders.

        Glad you stopped in!

        ><>”

      • reyjacobs says:

        Paul is quoting from the Apocryphal book of Wisdom when he talks about the Potter and the Clay rather than from Jeremiah! This is a major problem.

        In the so-called Wisdom of Solomon, the writer puts forth the argument that the Potter can make two different types of vessels out of the same clay as he chooses. Not so in Jeremiah.

        Jeremiah observes the potter at work and sees the clay marred in the potter’s hands. The potter repurposes what kind of vessel to make the clay into in response to the clay itself. And God’s message is “If I said I will destroy a nation, but they repent, I will build them up instead” and “If I said I will build up a nation, and they do evil, I will destroy them instead.”

        Its not the lame Apocryphal book of Wisdom argument Paul uses — in Jeremiah, the Potter analogy recognizes the Free-Will of man! AMEN!!!!!!!!!!!!

      • DRT says:

        Hi Jan, thanks for responding to my note.

        I have quite a few problems with what you wrote. First, I have been allowing god to speak to my heart and that says that the god portrayed in Calvinism is not a good representation of him. My skin crawled then I realized that it is an evil representation of god and that has made it much much worse than skin crawling.

        Next, I really believe, that in god’s sovereignty, he has given us free will. This is inherently tied up in the Calvinist view and I can’t imagine the god I know condemning some to eternal conscious torment before they were born. That is a monster, not my god.

        Next, while I agree that we get more and more out of scripture the more we read it, god did not hide things in there to keep them from people. Why would he possibly do such a thing?

        I hope that you can continue to study scripture and realize that the Calvinist view is against the view of god given to us by Jesus.

  2. sbcissue says:

    Dave,

    Thanks for stopping by. I have actually been to your site before. Not sure where I saw a link to it but have been there. You comment is in deed unique… calvinism is a very difficult issue and while I will say a church has the right to be as calvinistic as they choose to be, I have the right to be as non-calvinist as I choose to be and that is where I believe the gospel message given in the Bible is clearly planted.

    Let me invite you to check out http://www.transformedtheology.com I believe you will find it very interesting to say the least and you may have been there and that may be why I have seen your blog site.

    Thanks for stopping in and saying hello. May God bless you and your family!

    ><>”

    • Jan Walker says:

      I could not leave the reply after reyjacobs comments so I will have to leave it here. I was not quoting Paul from any such nonsense as the apocrypha. I was quoting Paul in Romans, who was quoting Isaiah. If you are going to blast me, blast me with the truth. And, honestly, if you do not believe in the election of the saints as taught by Calvin – I don’t care — that is your free will. I am not a ‘Calvinist’ in that I believe every jot and tittle the man wrote. I believe the Scripture and have come to understand the doctrine of election very differently than what I was taught as child and nearly half my adult life.
      Lastly, I would like to add – in the not-so-lame book of Romans, Paul asserts that God does indeed make two types of vessels, one of honor and one of dishonor. Rather something like Jacob I have loved and Esau I have hated. Paul is adamant regarding the muteness of the clay – the clay has no rights – neither to complain or recommend another form. God does not bow to the will of the clay —

      • DRT says:

        Jan, hmmmm. No such thing as hyperbole in your world is there? The world is not a cut and dried, either this or that place, it just is not.

      • reyjacobs says:

        “I was not quoting Paul from any such nonsense as the apocrypha. I was quoting Paul in Romans, who was quoting Isaiah.”

        This is a case of you NOT reading what I wrote. I didn’t say YOU quoted the apocrypha. I said that Paul (in Romans 9) is quoting from Wisdom 15:7. I was referring to Romans 9:21 not Romans 9:20. The most important CANONICAL passage on the Potter is Jeremiah 18 which Paul doesn’t reference.

        Yes, when Paul says in 9:20 “Shall the thing formed say to the Potter, why have your formed me like this?” that is a paraphrase of Isaiah 29:16 “Shall the thing framed say of him that framed it, He had no understanding?” Note, however, Paul’s subtle CHANGE. No longer is it about accusing the Potter of having no understanding; now Paul’s implication (totally missing in Isaiah) is that God can make a man EVIL and the man cannot ask “Why did you make me like this?” This is NOT what Isaiah is talking about. Paul is twisting.

        But in Romans 9:21 when Paul says “Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?” Compare that to Wisdom 15:7 “For the potter, tempering soft earth, fashioneth every vessel with much labour for our service: yea, of the same clay he maketh both the vessels that serve for clean uses, and likewise also all such as serve to the contrary: but what is the use of either sort, the potter himself is the judge. 8: And employing his labours lewdly, he maketh a vain god of the same clay, even he which a little before was made of earth himself, and within a little while after returneth to the same, out when his life which was lent him shall be demanded. ” Again Paul twists the meaning, for the author of Wisdom does not mean to deny free-will but only to make fun of idolatry. The potter makes vessels for both clean and unclean uses (what Paul calls vessels of honor and dishonor) and then turns around and makes an idol from the same clay–how senseless. From this rather orthodox point to Paul’s unorthodox predestinarian interpretation is a HUGE leap.

      • Jan Walker says:

        Thank you for the experience. I have been educated by just dropping in a couple of times. Grace and peace to you all.

  3. You and I both believe Jesus saves, and that makes me glad!

  4. V. Abbott says:

    I really cannot understand how any of my Christian Brothers or Sisters could place trust in a theology of salvation put forth by a man who without regret approved of the murders by fire and drowning of our Brothers and Sisters in Christ. That man is John Calvin.

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