On August 15, 2012, Baptist Press released an article that contained the following statement:
“Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee President Frank Page has announced the members of an advisory team who will help him craft a strategic plan to bring together various groups within the convention who hold different opinions on the issue of Calvinism.
The 16-member group will conduct its first meeting Aug. 29-30 in Nashville, Tenn.
“My goal is to develop a strategy whereby people of various theological persuasions can purposely work together in missions and evangelism,” Page told Baptist Press. The list was announced Tuesday (Aug. 15).”
A lot has been written on the state of Calvinism in the SBC. However, while there are many issues theologically with respect to Calvinism, the growing concern now rests not with the theology itself but with the growing infiltration of Calvinist believing individuals in the entities of the SBC. While the theological differences are still an issue, of major concern is now the theological persuasion of the entities because make no mistake about it, where the entities go, the convention will follow.
I believe this argument itself is proof that that the theological pulse of the entities is crucial to the future of the convention. When Dr. Mohler was made president of SBTS, everyone knew that he was a 5 point Calvinist. Dr. Mohler’s theological position was not a major point of concern at that time because the point of contention was theological and not positional and the convention could and still can deal with that. Things have, however, changed significantly in the past 10 years or so and all of this work that has taken place quietly behind the scenes to place key individuals in strategic places in the convention entities has been extremely successful. This transformation began in a couple of the seminaries, primarily and has been extended to NAMB, Lifeway and even to key convention committee appointees. State colleges and newspapers have followed follow this disturbing trend as well. Trustee appointments are being filled with individuals who have connections to and affinities with Dr. Mohler and his brand of theology. This I believe this is the real elephant in the room that no one has been willing to talk about, at least to this point.
Here is the real issue I believe must be addressed and resolved if there is to be any hope for any resolution to the cooperation issue that the SBC currently is facing. Dr. Mohler and others serve in very influential positions and are being paid by SBC entities. While it is accurate to say that they have done outstanding jobs in their respective positions of responsibility, they have also been busy working quietly to direct other areas of the SBC toward a reformed theological position that is decidedly different from their current positions. This has been done quietly and without any outside collaboration and without any word of warning on these individual’s part and this is in and of itself fundamentally wrong. These individuals cannot be allowed to continue this ploy if anyone expects the SBC to move forward in a cooperative manner. As people are made aware of this situation, it is my prayer that the people in the SBC will rise up and rectify this situation if the leadership of the convention is not willing to do so. Understand, the divisiveness is not in those who are now standing up to object to what has taken place but the divisiveness in the SBC rests squarely on the shoulders of those who have taken it upon themselves to Reform the SBC from the inside out with no regard to the current theological disposition of the entities, the SBC and those who support the Cooperative Program with their giving.
I was asked the following question by a member of this advisory committee, “What kind of compromise would you consider a step in the right direction?” Sadly, I am of the opinion there is only one answer to that question. The divisiveness in the SBC is not theological; the division has been caused by a very small group of individuals who have privately and quietly taken it upon themselves to infiltrate the entities with the expressed purpose of guiding the SBC toward a Reformed position. The simple solution is that some of these key individuals need to go. Southern and Southeastern need a different direction. Lifeway needs new leadership. Dr. Mohler needs to be the first to step down. States need to take a good look at their own colleges and newspapers and the individuals who are responsible for them. Remember, the division with regards to Calvinism has escalated not simply because there are more Calvinists, but because the influence of Calvinism in the entities of the SBC that is now propagating itself, producing more Calvinists. The entities are now leading the SBC down a Calvinist pathway with no regard to the vast majority in the SBC who do not favor this move.
Calvinism or Reformed Theology dominating the SBC is the clear cut goal of men like Tom Ascol of the Founder’s Ministry and Al Mohler and it is crystal clear that they are well on their way to achieving their goal without any consensus on the part of non-calvinists in the SBC. While many are aware of the Calvinist issues theologically, very few seem to be aware of the level of indoctrination that has taken place in the entities of the SBC nor are they aware of the danger this indoctrination poses. The SBC is being reformed from the inside out with very little attention being focused on those changes. Those responsible for these self-produced changes need to go. Make no mistake about it, the change that has been brought on the SBC by the efforts of a few Calvinists is what is causing the divisiveness in the convention today.
Once these individuals have stepped aside, the divisiveness could begin to subside and hope for cooperation could begin once again between Calvinists and non-calvinists in the SBC. One thing is clear; if these individuals are allowed to maintain the status quo, the divisiveness will only get worse as non-calvinists are made aware of what has actually taken place and what will no doubt continue to transpire until the goal of a Reformed SBC is indeed a reality.
One final thought. If Reformed Theology were the answer to the problems that exist in the SBC, then The Presbyterian Church with its Reformed Theology foundation would be leading the world but it is not. If Reformed Theology were the answer Dr. Mohler and company insist it is, then Europe would be a bastion of Christianity in the world for Reformed Theology was birthed there. Churches in Europe are largely monuments to what was a vibrant Christian presence but sadly they are empty today. I was told it was not Calvinism that killed the churches in Europe but rather a disobedient people that refused to listen to the teaching and preaching of right doctrine. This is indeed an interesting comment since Calvinism itself maintains that no one can listen and respond favorably unless God FIRST gives them the ability to do so. A consistent Calvinist would simply have to conclude that the reason Christianity in Europe is dying is because that is God’s sovereign choice.
The SBC does not need this kind of theology. If Reformed Theology is correct and God and God alone determines who is and is not saved and the elect will be saved because that is His sovereign plan and work, then a non-calvinist SBC will not hamper God’s sovereign work of salvation. Since most SBC Calvinists were saved as non-calvinists, that should be obvious even to the most unintellectual Calvinist.
It is time for this hijacking of the entities of the SBC to stop. It is time to address the ramifications of the reckless regard for the irresponsible actions of a few to Reform the SBC by taking over the entities of the SBC and leading them to a Reformed center with the final intention of leading the SBC to a Reformed position.
Al Mohler and other have made their beds. The question now is, who will suffer the consequences of their actions? One thing is clear; someone will.