As a consequence of the Conservative Resurgence, Dr. David Dockery, president of Union University in Jackson, TN, makes this prophetic statement concerning the rise of Calvinism in the Southern Baptist Convention; he says:
“I predicted the rise of Calvinism in Southern Baptist life in the twenty-first century. Many could see that while recovering the Baptist doctrine of the truthfulness of Scripture (1979-present) some would reconnect to nineteenth-century Baptist leaders not only to reaffirm their commitments to the inspiration of the Bible but also to be introduced to the soteriological commitments of such men as Richard Furman, J.L.Dagg, Basil Manly Sr., Basil Manly Jr., John A. Broadus, James P. Boyce ….” (1)
At first glance, this indeed seems like a very profound and prophetic statement! Why? Because the very thing that Dr. Dockery predicted has in fact come true. Is he a prophet or a protagonist?
Allow me to ask you three questions that will set up a concluding statement.
Question one: Could Martin Luther have predicted the start of the Protestant Reformation while he was writing The Ninety-Five Theses and preaching against the sale of indulgences by the Catholic Church in order to raise money to rebuild St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome?
Question two: Could Thomas Jefferson have predicted the American Revolution as he was drafting the Declaration of Independence?
Question three: Could President Lincoln’s Secretary of War have predicted the American Civil War while he was amassing troops, weapons, and supplies for the horror that might ensue?
I ask these important questions to prove this point– the people heavily invested in a movement or cause, know what may happen or could happen, at least more so than those who have no clue or idea of the developing rhetoric, emotions, or initial strategic plans. Dr. Dockery has been instrumental in promoting the rise of Calvinism for decades.
Ernest C. Reisinger includes the name of David Dockery in his book entitled A Quiet Revolution: A Chronicle of Beginnings of Reformation in The Southern Baptist Convention. The book was published by Founders Press in 2000 and summarizes the life and work of Reisinger as he rode the coat-tails of the conservative resurgence in the SBC and marshaled forces (people, money, strategy) to begin the Calvinist Resurgence in the Southern Baptist Convention.
Reisinger tells of his beginning projects and the November 13, 1982 prayer meeting that took place at the Holiday Inn in Euless, Texas with the following people in attendance: Ernest Reisinger, Tom Nettles, Fred Malone, Tom Ascol, Bill Ascol, Ben Mitchell, and evangelist R.F. Graves.(2) This meeting was the start of the Founder’s movement that has worked diligently over the last thirty years to calvinize the SBC — beginning with our college and seminary students.
Then Reisinger gives praise to those who served as speakers at Founders conferences during its formative years. Dr. David Dockery is listed as an early speaker along with Al Mohler, Timothy George, John Piper, John MacArthur, J. I. Packer, Tom Nettles, Ligon Duncan (3) and more. Also, Ben Mitchell, one of Dr. Dockery’s professors at Union University was a speaker at the very first Founders Conference in August of 1983.(4) Dr. Mitchell has a prominent place on the new search committee of Union University as they seek the next president of Union University (Jackson, Tennessee).
In conclusion, since Dr. Dockery was actively involved in the early days of Founders Ministries as a conference speaker (1980s) then without question it would be very easy for him to make the bold prediction he made in the 1990s that Calvinism would rise in prominence and position in the Southern Baptist Convention in the 21st century. His statement was more hopeful than prophetic. However, his assessment is proving to be an accurate one.
What say you?
(1) E. Ray Clendenen and Brad J. Waggoner, Editors, Calvinism: A Southern Baptist Dialogue, (B & H Publishing Group: Nashville, 2008) p. 35.
(2) Ernest C. Reisinger and D. Matthew Allen, A Quiet Revolution: A Chronicle of Beginnings of Reformation in The Southern Baptist Convention, (Founders Press: Cape Coral, 2000), 56).
(3) Ibid. 57.
(4) Ibid. 57.