Calvinism in the SBC: A Point of No Return

“The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” (2 Pe 3:9 NKJV)

This post is going to be very simple and relatively short. God is either “lonsuffering toward us” or He is not. He is either “not willing that ANY should perish” or He is not. Here is something that really troubles me in my spirit. I really do hate the issue of the divide that calvinism is causing in the SBC. I have been accused of “hating my brothers in Christ” because I disagree with the implications and ramifications of this issue and its relevance in our convention. Nothing could be further from the truth. This has no personal aspects to it whatsoever. I do not “hate anyone” because of their position with respect to calvinism or any other issue that I am aware of.

Here is question that I would love for someone to answer. Either God is the One who solely determines who is or is not saved or His decision on my eternity is based on my decision with respect to Jesus’ death on the cross and His resurrection. Either God decides who spends eternity in heaven or His decision is based on my decision. The latter in no way diminishes God’s sovereignty because that is an impossibility! God is ALWAYS sovereign because He says He is. This fact does not mean that God cannot base His decision on my decision and that does not elevate free-will to some position over God as has been argued on several occasions.

My question is this: At best, one of these two positions is true and the other false. It is entirely possible that BOTH could be wrong but one thing is absolutely true: both of these positions cannot be correct. Given that premise, how can a calvinist be so critical of my position that theirs does not fit 2 Peter 3:9 when they are in effect saying at least indirectly that their theological position is to correct the inerrant theology of the majority of Southern Baptists and it is clear that they are doing just that?

The calvinist does not like my position any more than I like his but there is this cry for unity when it is obvious to anyone that has eyes to see or ears to hear that neither group wants the other group dictating and directing the theological tenets that will help determine the future direction of the SBC. If one of us is wrong in our portrayal of the character of God, how can either plead for unity when deep down, the divide that separates us is as important to one group as it is to the other?

I believe the SBC is going to have to determine which side it wants to stand on, where the issue of calvinism in the SBC is concerned. The issue has escalated, like it or not, to a winner take all position and it is time for that decision to be made. If the SBC continues to sit on the sidelines and let the current direction continue, the decision will be made for the SBC and the people will one day very soon sit asking, “How on earth did this happen!”

We cannot co-exist as a denomination at this point. Those leading the resurgence of calvinism have taken this issue to a no-return position and one side will ultimately emerge as the predominate theological position and that is now inevitable and irreversible.

May God bless the SBC and its future.

Bob Hadley, Pastor Westside Baptist Church Daytona Beach, Fl.

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About sbcissues

Interested in bringing the issues facing The Southern Baptist Convention to light.
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14 Responses to Calvinism in the SBC: A Point of No Return

  1. I agree with you that this issue needs to be resolved. I feel the same as you in regard to your question, God decides in response to my choice to follow Christ. I do not think that there can be a coexistance. I just pray that the SBC will follow Biblical theology and stay true to their historical position on salvation. Thank you for your post.

    • sbcissues says:

      Let me say something here. The issue of co-existence has nothing really to do with a large group of calvinistic pastors and churches in the SBC. We have co-existed for centuries. The problem I am addressing is the infiltration of calvinism in the entities of the SBC and there is where will be no drawback and that is where it is a winner take all proposition as I see it.

      The direction of the entities will soon determine the direction of the SBC and if left on the present course that will be a strict deterministic position where God is concerned and salvation for Southern Baptists will be one determined by God and God alone and those who go to heaven will be the ones that God decides to save. I do not believe that is the rank and file position of Southern Baptists in the pew and those who are giving monies through their churches to the Cooperative Program that are then in turn going to entities that are to one degree or another working to increase the influence of calvinism in their respective places of ministry knowing that if successful, they will eventually have control of the SBC going forward.

      • I agree with you. I did miss speak when i said coexistance i know that they have taken leadership roles within the sbc entities. Sorry for the confusion

      • sbcissues says:

        My response was not aimed at yours; but was meant to make sure people understood the framework of the post itself. Appreciate your comment.

  2. Jim Dixon says:

    RE: “We cannot co-exist as a denomination at this point because those leading the resurgence of calvinism have taken this issue to a no-return position and one side will ultimately emerge as the predominate theological position and that is now inevitable.”

    I have been of this opinion for years. So, I agree on that point.
    One point of addition: If I understand 19th Century SBC history correctly (my great-granddad was a circuit rider for ~ 6-8 small churches), it was (and is) the non-Calvinist position (by whatever flavor or denomination, including cross-fertilization, e.g., Churches of Christ, Wesley and the Methodists, and Mr. Finney, etc.) which has, for 150 years, replaced the Reformed position which came across to Baptist thinking in the early years of the Republic — on this I do not think I am wrong.

    In other words, there is likely a break coming in the SBC denomination.

    Yet, as an “old country preacher” devoted to nursing homes and the senior citizens (“You must be born again!” — even in old age!), I think that politics and $$ (but not mine) conspire to keep this going. God is in control. He’ll settle it.

    [P.S. I am new to ‘blogging’ so please forgive if this seems unclear. I am not trying to make you mad or cause an argument.]

    • sbcissues says:

      Jim,

      You are always welcome to express yourself here as is anyone. Calvinism has played a part in the history of the SBC but I believe by and large was primarily contained in the educated segment pretty much like it is today. I do not believe it ha ever really been the theology of the person in the pew BUT one thing is certain; calvinism is more popular today that at any time in the history of the SBC.

      You are also correct the SBC has been heavily non-calvinist in the last 150 years as far as the majority position is concerned. You are also correct in your seeing this as a political and financial move; otherwise the Founders Ministries would have formed their own denomination a long time ago but the reward of gaining control of the SBC is toooooo strong to pass up and the powers in control of this calvinist revival have done a masterful job in achieving their goals, at least as I see it. My hat is off to them at this point.

      Come back anytime; even if we do disagree.

  3. Ken says:

    Thank you Pastor Bob for your insightful comments concerning the necessary inevitable separation of the Calvinists and non-Calvinists within the SBC. I agree with all your points.

    God has only one Plan of Salvation and the time has come to expel those who support the Calvinist plan from the SBC. We need an intensive campaign by the vast majority of SBC Christians who believe the Bible’s teaching that God’s true Plan of Salvation is that the one and only way to salvation is to repent of one’s sins and accept Jesus Christ, who died on the cross for the sins of every person, as Savior. Furthermore, the invitation to do so is extended by God to every person born into this world.

    I urge millions of SBC members to address your concerns to Rev. Fred Luter, SBC President, and Dr. Frank Page, SBC Executive Committee President, as I have already done, and inform them that the time has passed for accommodation and political correctness with Calvinists and that the SBC must return to its long-held beliefs in the truth of God’s word. Let’s advise Rev.Luter and President Page that we are holding them responsible for rooting out such Calvinist promoters as Albert Mohler by informing them that they are no longer welcome in the SBC and strongly encourage them to form their own convention instead of criminally attempting by their acts of subterfuge to lay hold of the SBC.

    To paraphrase what Pastor Bob has so eloquently alluded to, there is no room in the SBC for false doctrine. God’s Word is God’s Word, and is not subject to debate. Remember Galatians 6:7, “Be not deceived, God is not mocked, for whatsoever a man soeth, so shall he also reap.” Those of us who sit silently back and allow the word of God to be mocked by the false teaching of the Calvinists within our midst will reap what we sow. Also pertinent to this issue is 2 Corinthians 6:17, “Wherefore, come out from amomg them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing, and I will receive you.”

    What say you, are we up to the battle?

    Ken

  4. Max says:

    Bob Hadley says “We cannot co-exist as a denomination at this point.”

    Bob, your statement is at the core of my struggle with SBC life right now. Indeed, how can two distinctly different views of God’s plan of salvation co-exist in a single denomination going forward?! To reduce soteriological difference to a secondary issue and ask everyone to just get along is to ignore an ever growing elephant in the room determined to occupy the whole zoo. As you note in a later comment, we have had some semblance of unity around theological differences in the past, but New Calvinism has a distinctly different look and feel to it … a mixture in the camp which makes it difficult to agree to disagree to get along to go along.

    As we approach the much anticipated statement from Dr. Page on this issue, I sense compromise in the wind to preserve the Cooperative Program, retirement annuities, and our various denominational entities under one umbrella. With leadership of most of our entities solidly in the hands of reformed brethren via an extremely well-coordinated effort, the SBC I have known for 50+ years is slipping away. The Conservative Resurgence has become a Calvinism Resurgence. While SBC’s rank and file would not agree with “determinism” and the corresponding essential tenets of Calvinism, theological illiteracy in the pew has made the majority easy-pickins for the reformed movement. If Dr. Page’s committee wavers on this (the point of no return), I may very well explore another community of believers to serve with during the last chapter of my life … they will say he left the SBC, but I will know that the SBC left me.

    • Ken says:

      Max

      I have had email exchanges with both Frank Page and Fred Luter and there is no doubt that from their answers to my questions their intent is to preserve the status quo for the purposes you have enumerated, just as was done with the Convention name change issue.

      I have instituted a change in my giving which requires that all my offerings be directed to the Lottie Moon offering alone, thinking that from what I have been able to gather the IMB is the SBC organization least tainted by the Calvinist influence.

      Perhaps if many SBC members would take the same action it will force the zoo keepers to reassess their positions when their feed dries up.

      Like you, I am eagerly awaiting the report of the committee to study the Calvinism issue appointed by Fred Luter and chaired by Frank Page, which appears to have operated in absolute secrecy to date. That report’s content will guide me in deciding whether to remain in a church affiliated with the SBC. I will do so hesitantly since I have been a Southern Baptist for nearly 65 years but I feel it is just impossible to continue associating with any organization which either promotes or turns a deaf ear to, in fact, rejects outright, God’s Plan of Salvation so eloquently summarized in John 3:16.

      At this point we need to be praying with greater intensity that God’s will will be done in this matter.

      Ken

  5. sbcissues says:

    Max,

    The report from Dr. Page’s report will no doubt an interesting one. There is a significant problem with your statement, “I sense compromise in the wind to preserve the Cooperative Program, retirement annuities, and our various denominational entities under one umbrella.”

    There is no question about a desire to preserve the CP. With over 800 million dollars coming in annually, everyone is wanting to “follow the money.” Retirement annuities are important and I have heard an argument made that this is what may keep a majority in check so to speak because so many are financially tied to a healthy GuideStone. Even the desire to keep the entities under one umbrella is an interesting one as they control the monies.

    The various theological positions in the SBC are not the most important problem. The problem is their place of influence in the entities. That is the primary difference that is spurning this revival of calvinism in the SBC. It has always been here to some degree but the entities will determine the direction the convention goes and in fact already is and that is why I am saying there is no possibility of any meaningful compromise. Those leading the calvinist revival are not going to retreat. At this point there is no reason for them to even consider doing so and any perceived retreat will be for show only if there is even any of that. I do not see that happening.

    I am confident that all this draw back is a bit premature for those leading the calvinist revival but that being said, there is really so little attention being drawn to it and virtually no serious contention, these guys are sitting in the cat birds seat and they know it. Now, that could change in a moments notice and their momentum seriously challenged but it will take a special leader that has the ear of the churches. So far that person has not stood up or even raised an eyebrow for anyone to see. That bodes well for the calvinistas.

    I believe we have a year to slow this momentum or sadly your biggest fears may well be shared by many. My prayer is that the SBC does not leave us.

  6. Britt Taylor says:

    The 2 Peter passage, in context, is written to the elect, per Peter’s opening statement in the book. Therefore, the Lord being “longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” is saying that He is longsuffering to the elect! If I wrote a letter, addressed it to a specific group, and used the tern “us” in the letter, this would mean that I was speaking of those I addressed in the letter. Same in this context. Peter is speaking to the elect. “To those who have obtained like precious faith with us by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ:” v 1

    Context is key!

  7. sbcissues says:

    I want to copy a comment made by Chris Roberts, a pastor in Florida who introduced a resolution on unity in the SBC at the SBC in New Orleans. Roberts is a strong advocate of Calvinism in the SBC.

    Here is what he wrote on a blog he co-writes for, speaking about the non-calvinists he says he wants unity with:

    That would be a universal work to all individuals to call people to salvation, but it doesn’t save anyone nor does it actually begin the work of salvation. If an individual has a peculiar sickness and he sees a commercial on the television for a doctor who can treat his sickness, that commercial hasn’t made the first step to the individual receiving his healing. The process of his healing hasn’t begun until he goes to see the doctor.

    In the same way, the Trad statement portrays God as giving the world a commercial about himself: drawing, pleading, wooing, arguing – showing himself to the world the way a business might show themselves through a commercial. But nothing actually starts the work of salvation in an individual’s heart until that individual seeks it out.

    This is actually a step removed from Arminianism. Theologically speaking, Arminians are in better shape than the Trad statement. Arminians agree with Calvinists about total depravity and they see the work of salvation beginning with God first changing the human heart – not wooing, not drawing, not calling, not convincing, but actually changing it – in order to enable us to come. Arminians agree that no human is capable of choosing Christ unless God first makes a very real change on his heart. The Traditionalist statement expressly denies this necessity.

    Here is my response to Chris:

    For the record, I believe this is one of the most repugnant statements I believe I have ever seen ANYONE make much less you. If someone even attempted to write something so ridiculous about calvinism, you would be livid.

    If you have ANY allusion of promoting unity in the SBC, you are not as intelligent as I previously gave you credit.

    This sir is disgraceful.

    You can read the comments by clicking here… http://www.sbcfocus.net/2013/05/29/calvinist-coexistence-bob-hadley-says-no/#comment-4000

  8. Pingback: Calvinist Coexistence, Bob Hadley Says “No!” | JBenSimpson.com

  9. Pingback: Calvinist Coexistence, Bob Hadley Says “No!” | A Heart for Home

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