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Would Calvinists Like To See the SBC Become Reformed?

I am not a Southern Baptist but I have many friends who are.  I live in an area of the United States (the South) where the joke around here is that there are more Southern Baptists than there are people.  We also joke that the home missions department of the SBC are church splits.  I know of one SBC church nearby that is splitting and have known others in the past.  While some of them split over petty issues (one church split over a gym), some split over the issue of Calvinism.  In the SBC you have two main colleges (Southern Seminary in Louisville and Southeastern in Wake Forest, NC) that are very Calvinistic while Southwestern in Fort Worth, TX is non-Calvinist.  In the middle are schools such as Charleston Southern who is in need of evangelism.

The SBC is the largest Protestant denomination in the United States.  In the South, the SBC dominates.  First Baptist is typically the largest church in many cities and towns.  The SBC dominates the church life in the South.  The SBC sometimes dominates even in politics in the South.  Yet the SBC is neither Calvinistic nor Arminian.  It is sort of a hybrid with both often found in the denomination.  I know of several SBC pastors and a few of them are reformed in their theology and follow Dr. Albert Mohler from Southern Seminary.  Others are non-Calvinists (they would avoid being labeled Arminians though they are) and follow men such as Johnny Hunt or Jerry Vines.  Dr. Vines, as I noted in a previous post, sponsors the John 3:16 Conference and features various SBC pastors who are not Calvinists.  Dr. Mohler, on the other hand, preaches at many Calvinist Bible conferences himself and is a strong defender of Calvinism.  In passing, I enjoy the ministries of all those I have listed above.  While I disagree with Dr. Mohler on some issues, I find him to be a man of God who loves the Lord and has a deep knowledge of God’s Word.  I likewise appreciate men such as Jerry Vines or Ronnie Floyd who are not Calvinists and would preach and sound very Arminian (and in fact are Arminians if they took the test at the Society of Evangelical Arminians site).

My question here is whether reformed guys would love to see the SBC become a Calvinist church or would they prefer it remain as it is.  I would think that most would want the SBC to adopt Calvinism as some hold that Calvinism is the pure gospel.  Others would point to the history of the Baptists and would say that historically speaking, the Baptists were reformed in their theology for many years before Arminianism made in-roads into the church.  Many would point to great Baptist preachers such as Charles Spurgeon and the fact that he was a Calvinist as proof that the Baptist church should be Calvinistic.

I myself would like to see the SBC remain as she is.  I believe that the debate in the SBC over Calvinism is needed.  It provides the church a place to work together despite our disagreements.  If the SBC can accomplish this, I would be proud.  However, one person said that an oxymoron is truly “Baptist fellowship.”  Can Arminians and Calvinists work together for missions, for church planting, for the gospel?  I would hope so.  As I have said before, neither is the gospel.  They may help us understand the gospel but neither system is the gospel that saves sinners.  Jesus alone saves sinners (1 Timothy 1:15).  I would love to see the SBC become a place of unity, where Christ is preached and glorified.  I pray this happens.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

04/26/2013 at 10:00 AM

One Response

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  1. I live in NC and am all too familiar with the plethora of SBC churches and their offspring (I think most unlabeled churches around are children of SBC churches). Thanks for sharing about the different internal camps, and I agree that it would be good for them to maintain their differences and unity. We could all learn a few things from the positives in this story.

    Matt Brady

    04/26/2013 at 6:05 PM


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