By Dr. Dale Denning
As I view the some of the statements being made today with this issue of Calvinism, I’m somewhat reminded of how I feel when I hear the liberal media discuss religious freedom in America today. The obvious agenda of the media over the past 25+ years has been to change the religious climate of main street America. They pressed their agenda and whenever anyone stood in rebuttal they were labeled intolerant and quickly silenced. What America has seemingly failed to realize is that this great country was founded upon the rights of individuals to express their religious views openly and without fear of persecution.
It seems as if conservative Americans were expected to simply sit silently while the most prized freedoms that are ours to enjoy are being gradually stripped away. Sadly, that’s pretty much what I see happening with this issue of Calvinism in the SBC.
I have been a Southern Baptist all of my life, and I’m from a long-line of Southern Baptists. I had never even heard of Calvinism until I went to seminary. I’ve served 6 different churches – none were Calvinist. I have preached many revivals in many different cities and states – I’ve never had one of them indicate they were Calvinist. I traveled and sang for 30 years with a southern gospel group – never heard one church express “reformed” theology.
I have many, many pastor friends across this land – I don’t know of a one who would claim to be Calvinist. I would dare say that the VAST majority of SBC churches would take a firm stand against Calvinism if they truly understood what it was. (I feel this is the reason that many Calvinists aren’t very open about their reform theology.)
Now, having said all of that – do Calvinists think that we should simply sit back and say nothing while they gradually indoctrinate our convention with – what most pastors I know would view as unbiblical? Are Calvinists going to use the same tactics as the liberal media and attempt to silence the leadership of the overwhelmingly vast majority of Southern Baptist churches? Remember – we’re not the one’s attempting to implement change – CALVINISTS ARE!
I for one resent it when any group thinks they have the right to institute a philosophy of change, while everyone who disagrees with their philosophy is viewed as intolerant. If the Calvinist wants to teach his theology – he has the right. He also has the right to disagree with my views, but those of us who strongly disagree with Calvinism have a right to take a stand as well!
Dr. Dale Denning has been Senior Pastor of Chapel Hill Baptist Church in Milan, Tn. for 20 years. He is a graduate of Union University and has his Masters of Divinity and Doctor of Ministry degrees from Southern Seminary. Imagine that! He and his wife Chrsiti have two sons, Andrew and Drake.