Similarities Between Liberalism and Calvinism in the SBC???

I was browsing the net for dates on the liberal infiltration of the SBC and I came across a very interesting site called, “Essential Christianity: Contending Earnestly for the Faith.” This site can be accessed by clicking here.

It appears to be written by Rev. Keith Sherlin from South Carolina in the early 2000’s. In looking at his writings on the web site, Sherlin appears to be of the reformed way, not that this matters in a discussion of liberalism in the SBC; well maybe it does. I will at least be quoting someone who understands calvinists because apparently he is one.

He makes some very interesting comments.

In 1961 Broadman Press published a book, The Message of Genesis, whereby Dr. Ralph Elliot taught Adam and Eve were not historical people. Years later when asked about the trouble over this book he stated that while in training at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary the professors taught them how to use “doublespeak” when talking. In this way the people could get by with error by saying such things in one way whereby it covered up what they really meant and believed. This is how these pastors made it into the regular churches. You may have had a liberal pastor and never known it because they used language to cover up what they truly believed! YOU MAY EVEN STILL BE SITTING UNDER A LIBERAL PASTOR! You had better check because many were professionally trained in how to disguise their views! Personally, of all of the errors, this one makes me the most upset. These people intentionally lied to intentionally DECEIVE good people!

He further notes:
Dr. Paige Patterson noted in one of my seminary lectures that the real problem in the SBC life has been mainly two errors: (1) The liberals who did not have enough integrity to tell people what they truly believed, and (2) The conservatives who did not have enough courage to stand up and oust the liberals and do something about it when liberalism surfaced. I have a sneaky suspicion that this will remain the life long struggle in the SBC.

Again he writes,
In 1969 Dr. W.A. Criswell, famous pastor of a 28,000 member SBC church, First Baptist Dallas, wrote a book entitled “Why I Preach the Bible is Literally True.” He in this book exposed liberalism that was growing in all of the seminaries and schools and even by default in the churches. Professors from all of the seminaries, especially Southern Baptist Theological Seminary where he had received his Ph.D in theology, criticized the book and said such a view was outdated and terribly uneducated for someone with a Doctoral degree from Southern Seminary. (Imagine that.)

Sherlin goes on…
President Randall Lolley (1974-1988), who presided over Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary that was founded by liberals, believed and taught that the biblical writers erred but did not do so intentionally.

In 1972, a Midwestern Baptist Seminary professor Temp Sparkman wrote a book Being a Disciple and advocated for a form of universalism (everyone is related to God or will be eventually).

In 1977 Glenn Hinson of Southern Seminary published a work on Jesus Christ. In this book he said the temptation experiences of Christ were myths and that Christ did not physically arise from the grave but only spiritually.

Imagine this…
The Adult Sunday School Quarterly raised questions in 1979 about the authority of Scripture. It questioned if Daniel actually wrote the book of Daniel. Keep in mind that this material spread through many of the churches that used this material. Combine that with people coming into the church from liberal arts colleges and universities, some from Baptist, some from other liberal denominational schools, and then even some from secular state colleges and universities, and you can see how this ideology was welcomed and embraced by many in the pew. You may even be sitting next to a member of the church today who does not believe the Bible is perfectly true and authoritative because of these liberal influences over the years.

Wait… there is more.
In 1982, in response to the conservative resurgence that was being led by Dr. Paige Patterson and other men who loved the Bible and believed everyone should believe and submit to the authority of the Bible, Dr. Russell Dilday, President of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, wrote a book that did not endorse inerrancy and it adopted the idea that only the concepts of the Bible were inspired, not the actual words themselves.

Finally note this criticism of the liberals

Liberals speak a lot about unity but never define unity around biblical truth. Unity to the liberal mind is void and absent of the Bible. It in essence means they want “freedom from” authority. This is the unified theme of the liberals, it is not unity around biblical truth.

WOW… just WOW is all I can say.

Included in this article are direct references to Broadman Press, The Sunday School Board, Southern Seminary and Southeastern Seminary and Midwestern. He does mention some of the other seminaries as well as a host of state supported colleges in his article. And what do you know… the liberals wanted “unity”. Looks like somebody must be reading from the Liberal playbook here.

What is really very sad is one can take this article and place calvinism where liberalism is and the article would accurately portray many of the criticisms being made against calvinism today and even much the same places! Simply amazing.


About sbcissues

Interested in bringing the issues facing The Southern Baptist Convention to light.
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6 Responses to Similarities Between Liberalism and Calvinism in the SBC???

  1. lydiasellerofpurple says:

    Wow! Exact same strategy! And now the most clever is to call “Calvinism”, Conservative. And everything else is liberal. People were starting to catch on.

  2. Carl says:

    Respectfully are you not painting with a very broad brush. There are many Reformed Baptists that are not out to deceptively force the denomination to change into a Calvinistic denomination. Also could one not say the same about the “Traditional” movement? It seems to want to rid the convention of Calvinism. But that is painting that movement with a broad brush. Interesting also that one has to be careful to condemn the practices above since many were used by the Conservative resurgence (right or wrong). I am happy there was a conservative resurgence but do not think all their tactics were great. Patterson has not been shy about claiming the use of interesting tactics to place conservative members in key positions.

    So in the end I guess I would watch out that you do not paint many good movements into a proverbial corner with the criticism of certain Calvinists. We all know that Reformed Baptists are not really Reformed or they would believe in infant baptism ;).

    • sbcissues says:


      Thanks for stopping by. I know this is a difficult issue and one that has a lot of emotion behind it. I agree that there are a lot of folk that are what I call calvinistic in their theology and that is great. I am not talking about that group. I am specifically addressing those who are leading the reformed revival and are using their collective influence to affect the theological predisposition of the entities of the SBC. There is no question that this has and is taking place. I applaud the success of this very capable group, whoever they may be.

      I do not support the current direction a number of these entities are headed. I believe the entities will eventually influence the future direction of the SBC. I do not believe the Bible even remotely supports a reformed platform. Given that theological position. I do not believe it is in the best interests of the SBC to allow this to continue. We all understand the rules. I believe everyone is playing fairly within the bounds of those rules. I have no qualms with that.

      All I am doing is playing within the rules as well making my position known and hopefully will be able in some small way to move the convention away from this Reformed revival back to the whosoever will center. I believe the person elected to serve as president of the SBC in Baltimore will be pivotal in determining the direction of the SBC. I want as many people as possible to understand the importance of what it happening because most people have no clue what is going on. Many will read what I write and say, “the SBC cannot be in that kind of shape”… that bodes well for the reformed revival. It is what it is.

      So your words of warning concerning painting with too broad a brush… is an understatement; I cannot get a brush that is tooooo big. I only wish that were possible. (I know that is NOT really what you meant… just playing with the words a little.)

      Thanks for your comment.

  3. Bob Williford says:

    Bob, I open with your quote, “Dr. Paige Patterson noted in one of my seminary lectures that the real problem in the SBC life has been mainly two errors: (1) The liberals who did not have enough integrity to tell people what they truly believed, and (2) The conservatives who did not have enough courage to stand up and oust the liberals and do something about it when liberalism surfaced. I have a sneaky suspicion that this will remain the life long struggle in the SBC.”

    What is interesting is that I wrote a statement this morning on FB in ‘Baptist Concerns’ that sort of restates the two points that Dr. Patterson made at SWBTS….and I wrote before reading your post. Just insert the word ‘Reformers’ in place of ‘liberals’ and ‘Trads’ in place of ‘conservatives’ and we have a substantial picture of what is going on within the SBC right now. And I think that you saw the similarity before I responded here. What I find amazing is that what I wrote this morning is very similar to what you have written here.

    The struggle continues just as Patterson suggested that it would, but the issues are quite different and perhaps more decisively destructive over the long haul because no one is speaking about in at the local church. A friend said to me recently that he will not enter the fray and I think because his people are divided on the issue. But, he also suggested that his church is ‘tired of the fighting’ that is going on locally….

    Bob, I have been in ministry for 46 years…..36 years since graduating from SWBTS, and the SBC has been in conflict for all of those years…..each and every one. I recall as a student at Louisiana College a fellow student vocally challenging a professor about biblical inerrancy, and that student is a very public and known leader in our SBC today. People are calling for ‘Peace’, but there will be none until we decide which ‘truth’ we are going to follow….that of Calvinist ‘truth’ or the Truth found in God’s Word, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life…” Jesus alone is Lord. Bob Williford

    • sbcissues says:


      You know I appreciate your input and friendship even though we have not met physically. The points you make are the reason I published this pastor’s remarks.

      Let’s keep the banner lifted high. Thanks for your comment.

  4. Pingback: Similarities Between Liberalism and Calvinism in the SBC??? | fencepostdigest

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