A Response to Page’s Calvinism Advisory Committee

A Statement from the Calvinism Advisory Committee

This report can be read in its entirety by clicking here.

I am as concerned with the current state of affairs of the SBC as anyone and have been more vocal than most. I have waited eagerly for this report’s completion and will say that it is much more than I expected. As I read the report, I was impressed with everything that was said. It should have been obvious that this committee report would not solve the theological issues that face our denomination but I applaud their effort “to suggest a course for moving forward together while taking seriously and representing fairly the theological diversity that exists in and has been the strength of Southern Baptist life.” I wholeheartedly agree with the following statement: “We affirm together that Southern Baptists must stand without apology upon truth; that we do indeed have some challenging but not insurmountable points of tension; that we must work together with trust; and that we must encourage one another to testimony.”

I fully support the statements dealing with Truth and will pledge to stand shoulder to shoulder with any Southern Baptist in support of their convictions based on the truth found in the Word of God. I will stand in support of those I disagree with and pledge to work wholeheartedly with them for the proclamation of the gospel and the sake of seeing the lost come to Christ and His church strengthened. I do understand there is a world of lost people who are dying every day that need Jesus and we must make sure we make the main thing the main thing and that is letting those lost individuals know that Jesus has come to seek and to save those who are lost.

Now to the discourse on Trust. Under the section on Cooperation, the following statement is made:

“We deny that the issues now discussed among us should in any way undermine or hamper our work together if we grant one another liberty and extend to one another charity in these differences.” I agree a need for more charity is most certainly warranted and charity begins at home. I will seek to be more charitable and make that more of a priority than I have in the past. It is easy to let the flesh overshadow the Spirit in discussions dealing with theology and its place in denominational life.

“Neither those insisting that Calvinism should dominate Southern Baptist identity nor those who call for its elimination, should set the course for our life together.” This statement is perhaps the most pertinent to me personally. I can wholeheartedly support this statement understanding that it is a two-faceted statement. If it can be demonstrated that NEITHER group seeks to “set the course of our life together” then I am 100% on board and will gladly become the most ardent supporter of our denominational leaders.

I will say this: making a statement is the easy part; stepping up to the plate and accomplishing this is going to prove to be the critical part of this whole statement. My position has been very clear; those leading the Calvinist revival have been actively involved in doing what this statement says they should not be doing going forward. I applaud the statement; my sincerest prayer is that there is a determined demonstration of integrity in accepting the responsibility to follow through on this commitment.

Moving Forward.

I do believe we can celebrate unity if we can “clarify the parameters of our cooperation where necessary.” Obviously those parameters for me will be determined by the ability of those who have taken control of the entities of the SBC and the response they will take going forward in reducing even the appearance of a Calvinist agenda. This must be demonstrated in a number of the entities of the SBC. To acknowledge the need for clarification but to fail to achieve that clarification will prove to be fatal and the outstanding efforts of this committee futile. Eyes will be focused on what will take place in the coming months and years. The day of unnoticed changes is over. If cooperation is the goal, it can be achieved. If it is business as usual and nothing changes cooperation will not take place and without cooperation, unity will not be possible.

I agree and wholeheartedly applaud the statement on respecting and representing all Southern Baptists. I would support the leadership in the entities if they can demonstrate the following: “No entity should be promoting Calvinism or non-Calvinism to the exclusion of the other.” This would indeed be a strong step forward. I believe it is absolutely essential that we do all that we can to “avoid the development of partisan divisions among Southern Baptists.” It is absolutely clear that these partisan divisions are among us. There really is no danger of them developing; we do need to figure out a way to lessen those divisions. A concerted effort to adhere to the suggestions in this statement would indeed go a long way in accomplishing that goal.

I will challenge myself with the following admonition: “If we stand together in truth, we can trust one another in truth, even as we experience tension. We can talk like brothers and sisters in Christ, and we can work urgently and eagerly together.” Tension can be overcome and it can make us stronger if it is dealt with properly and the suggestions in this statement do adequately address the stresses and the solutions.

I will commit myself to accomplishing the closing statement; “let us not neglect the task we are assigned. The world desperately needs to hear the promise of the Gospel.” I wholeheartedly support the statement produced by the Calvinism Advisory Committee and pledge to support it with all my heart, my soul and my strength.

May God continue to bless the SBC for His glory and our benefit.

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

Advertisements

About sbcissues

Interested in bringing the issues facing The Southern Baptist Convention to light.
This entry was posted in Calvinism, SBC and Calvinism, SBC Issues, Southern Baptist Convention, Transformed Theology and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to A Response to Page’s Calvinism Advisory Committee

  1. Randy says:

    This is an encouraging development, if as you say, it simply does not continue with “business as usually.” Like I said the other day, “Look away, nothing to see here.” That’s certainly not going to work. I believe that those of a non-Calvinist stance can work successfully with Calvinists. One of my spiritual mentors is a strong Calvinist (although he’d fall in the 4 point camp). We have great spiritual discourses and I look to him and his wisdom on Scripture and theology. Where we disagree, he respects my stance and I his. What we have found is that we actually agree on many things. He does not try to convert me and I do likewise. This last point is the key problem with the disunity we see in the SBC right now.

    • Tony says:

      I was first saved in the Christian and Missionary Alliance, (C&MA). I sat under both, Pastors who were Calvinists and ones that were not. The Alliance, though founded by Dr. A.B. Simpson, a Presbyterian, left this issue open. I personally am a Calvinist, but have many godly friends who are not. I attend Mt Vernon Baptist Church in West Monroe, La, I am the only member of my Sunday School class that is a Calvinist, or as I like to phrase it, of the Reformed Theology.

  2. Max says:

    “… let us not neglect the task we are assigned. The world desperately needs to hear the promise of the Gospel.”

    And everybody said Amen! In the heat of the debate, I had to continually remind myself that the Gospel task I was assigned did not come via the SBC, but by the hand of God.

    While the “Statement” accurately framed the issues, particularly the tensions, I’m not sure anything has changed. Calvinist committee members can pat each other on the back, as well as those who represented the non-Calvinist majority, while they all sing Kumbayah. The reformed amongst us can still read their interpretations into the affirmations and denials … “all” can still mean “all the elect” … “entire world” can still mean “entire world of the elect” … etc. Likewise, a call to endorse the Baptist Faith and Message (2000), with its theological wiggle room, still provides ample room for everybody under one big tent. Calvinists and non-Calvinists alike would not be threatened by the terms and conditions of the document.

    I don’t think any of us expected anything else from the committee … unity was their mission. Seriously handling the deep seated disagreements with spines of steel would interfere with the desired agree to disagree unity at this juncture in SBC life. Thus, the Mohler machine momentum goes forward with little impact … he knows that.

    Soooo … “let us not neglect the task we are assigned” … the SBC didn’t give it to us and they can’t take it away.

    • sbcissues says:

      Max,

      As I ponder over the ramifications of this report, there are some serious concerns that I do have and you are echoing those concerns. I will be releasing a statement hopefully on Monday addressing some of the concerns and touching on some that you have raised here.

      Unfortunately, I am afraid you are more correct that not.

      Thanks for your comment.

      • Ken says:

        I read this report as a complete capitulation by the non-Calvinist camp in the SBC. It appears that a non-Calvinist will no longer be free to to express his concerns about Calvinism without being labeled a non-politically correct Christian.

        Also the report makes it clear that Calvinism will continue to flourish unimpeded and unchallenged to occupy important positions within the many agencies in the SBC, including the Seminaries.

        If this report is accepted by the Convention in Houston this 65 year Southern Baptist will become an ex-Southern Baptist. I cannot accept any preaching or teaching whatsoever that does not proclaim that God’s one and only plan of salvation provides that each and every person born into this world will be granted eternal salvation if he or she repents and accepts Jesus as Savior; nor will I accept programs and beliefs that are in clear violation of the Baptist Faith and Message.

        Remember, one rotten apple will spoil the whole barrel.

      • sbcissues says:

        Ken,

        I have had a couple share your reservations. I am confident there is no capitulation on the part of the non-calvinist contingency. We will be free to express our concerns and to be labeled anything by the other side is just a continuation of what is already taking place.

        Here is the deal as I see it. I have already voiced this. Extreme voices are not necessarily those speaking the loudest but include those whose voices that are directing the most traffic as well. I point out a couple of these issues above… “avoid the development of partisan divisions among Southern Baptists.” Since there are already several groups or tribes that already exist, I am as interested in the ongoing relationships of existing groups as I am new groups.

        “Neither those insisting that Calvinism should dominate Southern Baptist identity nor those who call for its elimination, should set the course for our life together.” This is the most significant statement in the report as I see it. The problem is not going to be the silencing of the non-calvinists but rather the potential silence of the Calvinist crowd and here is why; they are positioned in the trustees and the entities and they can coast to Baltimore without any real push back… they can agree to anything and maybe even seem to stick to it and once Baltimore gets here they will emerge and be a force in their own backyard.

        This I believe is the real issue to be as prepared for as anything. This is my expectation and greatest concern. This really has very little to do with the report released last week.

  3. Lynn Gray says:

    Dear Brother Ken,

    I too believe that ANYBODY who repents of sin and accepts Jesus as Lord/Savior will inherit eternal life. I believe this completely and I am a Calvinist. All SBC Calvinists I know could agree to this as well.
    Please don’t leave the convention – stay and let’s work and worship together! I strongly suspect we have much much more in common than perhaps you realize.

    Lynn Gray
    deacon – Morning Star Baptist of Meeker, Ok

  4. Max says:

    Ken writes “… nor will I accept programs and beliefs that are in clear violation of the Baptist Faith and Message.”

    Sir, as I noted in my earlier comment, the BFM was revised in 2000 to provide room for various theological positions, including God’s plan of salvation. The Calvinist reads it one way, while the non-Calvinist interprets it another way.

    I’m a black & white sort of guy and very uncomfortable with gray (compromise, etc.). Speaking of gray, another quote from the report got my attention. Committee member David Landrith: “… there is room for various shades of thought on this topic.” I’m sorry folks, but gray is a shade of black in my mind. We need a clear trumpet sound, with one message, one mission to a lost world. Southern Baptists used to have that – the world knew where we stood. Things have changed.

  5. sbcissues says:

    Max,

    I don’t mind some grey the problem is, as I see it who is defining the grey and who is listening to the definition. Calvinists define the grey differently depending on who it is that they are speaking to. For example. If you listen to the calvinists on Monday… most of the people in the SBC are arminians and semi-pelagian and even worse… don’t really know WHAT they believe. Some how they believe they have to “get the gospel right” and correct the errant theology of the poor pitiful SBC’er because that is the reason that there are 16 million Southern Baptists on the books and 1/2 of em the FBI, CIA and IRS cannot even find. The Founders and Al Mohler believes they are convictionally obligated to return the SBC to its reformed roots. It is a fact; there is no denying it.

    However, on Wednesday the calvinists will say… we are all one big happy family… I know we believe you are arminians and semi-pelagians but that is not really any big deal… the issue of calvinism is at best a third tier issue… we all believe the same gospel… we all believe that God is sovereign, that it is God and God alone who saves; who cares about the issue of regeneration… the atonement is important but we can all get along and spend all the money you are sending to the CP.

    Well… I have said it before and I will say it again; I can agree to disagree with a LOT of things but how someone comes to Christ is not one of them and I do not believe that God saves an individual so that person can THEN repent and exercise believing or saving faith. I do not believe it is God who decides who does get saved and who does not get saved. I do not believe God decided in eternity past who would spend eternity with Him and who would spend eternity in hell and NOTHING that anyone can do to change His omniscient mind.

    Let me ask a question here that I have been sort of kicking around all day today. Is it even remotely possible that our finite minds cannot understand what omniscient even means? Here we have defined sovereign and omniscient and built a theology around OUR understanding of those two terms… maybe, just maybe our pitiful ability to understand these two terms are what have led calvinists to their conclusions and if the foundation is skewed, so is the rest of the conclusions.

    This is no grey area for me and I am sorry; I do not want to agree to disagree with this theological position. It is simply something that I cannot find any reason to tolerate. I do not believe in baptismal regeneration. I do not believe in this prosperity gospel that is being preached today. I do not believe calvinism is ANY more Biblical than any of these other theological positions.

    No grey area for me where calvinism is concerned. I do not care WHAT the Calvinism Comittee Report says.

    • Max says:

      “… if the foundation is skewed, so is the rest of the conclusions.”

      “When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do?” Brother Hadley, a new generation of young, restless and reformed has been released upon the Southern Baptist Convention, while the majority slept. It may very well take a generation to turn it back. Drifts in theology always result in shifts of ecclesiology. This new brand of reformer will stop nothing short of changing the nature, constitution, and mission of the SBC churches they penetrate.

      At this point, I trust in two things to hold back this wave as it washes over 45,000+ SBC congregations in the years ahead: (1) local church autonomy, and (2) Biblical illiteracy in the pew. Ironically, the latter may very well halt this movement in some locations. While our folks aren’t theologically deep (as the Calvinists claim), they understand one thing: whosoever will may come. They won’t allow this message of the Cross of Christ to be altered. It’s been the bedrock of SBC belief and practice in my 50+ year affiliation with the SBC … “For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.” To substitute a complex system of man for the simple Gospel message is to build in arrogance a foundation which will crumble. In the meantime “Preach the Word!”

      • sbcissues says:

        Max,

        The calvinists are banking on the following statement:

        “(2) Biblical illiteracy in the pew. Ironically, the latter may very well halt this movement in some locations. While our folks aren’t theologically deep (as the Calvinists claim), they understand one thing: whosoever will may come. They won’t allow this message of the Cross of Christ to be altered.”

        Here is the biggest problem with that position: churches tend to follow their leaders. These guys will come in and depending on their levels of maturity, they will say what they need to say meaning one thing but implying another so people will eventually be drawn into their line of thinking. As the transition takes place gently, relationships are forged with the pastor and whatever key people he can and he will use that leverage to weed out the more vocal dissenters. Some of these churches have gone to membership 101-105 or whatever and only those who complete 105 are eligible for leadership positions in the church… teaching SS… leading in other areas… serving as “elders” or deacons… not saying that all are doing this but I have noticed it in more churches. Of course, calvinist churches may not be the only ones employing this concept but it is a convenient and effective way to gain control of a church.

        I do believe the SBC is rolling in uncharted waters and like the Titanic… most think it is unsinkable… but without a doubt there are so obstacles out there that would make the iceberg that sunk the Titanic look like an ice cube floating in the water.

      • Max says:

        Brother Hadley – you’ve just described the “Quiet Revolution” intended by the Founders Ministries http://www.founders.org/library/quiet/. The strange thing about this development is that “Old” Calvinists (of the Founders’ sort) would have never put up with the young, restless and reformed in the past. But they are now encouraging these young rebels in order for “New” Calvinism to accomplish with youth and energy what they could not. This has been a remarkable linking of forces between Mohler and Ascol … brilliant maneuverings while the SBC giant slept. But it must be a carefully controlled effort going forward, while they continue to gather in SBC entities and funding from the majority to accomplish their end.

  6. Matt says:

    SBC Issues, what did you obtain your PhD on what was your dissertation title? Who were your outside readers for it? Just curious.

  7. Matt says:

    What’s wrong with the question? I noticed you signed your name as Dr. Just wondered where you did your studies.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s