Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Frank Page's Calvinist Advisory Team Meets Tomorrow

Frank Page, our SBC CEO or 'Chief Encouraging Officer' as he likes to say it, appointed sixteen fellow Southern Baptists as a 'team,' an unofficial 'group of helpers' to assist him in coming up with "some sort of strategy document" on "how we can work together."

I think this was a good move on his part.

The composition of the committee includes seminary presidents Mohler, Akin, and Patterson, the former two being head of the two institutions most often praised or condemned as being Calvinistic. Almost all of the members are SBC notables.

The makeup of the group has been criticized for being unbalanced, for not including more of this or that SBC constituency. Alas, wade into this issue and get shot at from all sides. Such is the state of SBC life these days.

Some declare that there are too many Calvinists on the body. Such doesn't concern me. If I were Frank Page I would want to hear from the Calvinists. Let the most outspoken and opinionated of them have their say.

The committee of sixteen does not include your humble hacker and plodder but he did say that others could be added later. I can be in Nashville tomorrow for the meeting, since it's only about a five hour drive for me. No wait, Frank Page doesn't know me from Adam's housecat.

I don't know how Page will approach the matter but if I were present here are a few things I would put on the table for the group:

Questions for Al Mohler and Danny Akin:
  • Al, Danny, there are Southern Baptist pastors and churches who refuse to fund your schools because they are too Calvinistic. Some of the individuals who feel this way are prominent in denominational position and service. Why do you think this is?
  • Some Associational Missionaries and others in positions where they recommend and refer prospective pastors and who are asked for advice by churches who are seeking a pastor or staff member look askance at your graduates when they apply for church positions. Have you ever spoken with any who feel this way and asked how they have become prejudiced against your grads and what might be done to correct this?
  • There are stridently Calvinistic voices in your employ who have been accused of alienating many Southern Baptists by their speech and writing. Are you concerned about that and if so what have you done about it?
  • What steps have you taken to address what is generally recognized as a major denominational problem?
For Frank Page:
  • You have stated that you hear from churches and individuals frequently about the problem of Calvinists and Calvinism. How would you categorize the problem presented? Is it more theological or practical? 
For all on the committee:
  • Would you please explain your perception of why this committee exists?
There are more...but this would be a good start.

The unofficial advisory team has my prayers.


Anonymous said...

The problem is not the Calvinist in and among our leadership, as I see it. The problem lies more in the hands of the anti-Calvinist group.

Who, does it seem, is trying to run the other group out? What are their legitimate gripes?

I know some people want to make it seem like Calvinist pastors are tearing churches apart. Churches have been splitting since our inception. Many of our church count (42,000+) are a result of church splits and Calvinism had little to nothing to do with this.

Church splits today are more an issue of apathy in the pew, rather that Calvinism in the pulpit.

Yes, there are some rabid Calvinist who have caused a split but this would have probably happened if the pastor had not been Calvinist. It was probably more of a Alpha type pastor which was the problem.


William Thornton said...

Ben, my experience and that of many with whom I interact is that there is a strain of Calvinist pastors that have caused church problems. I feel sure that the 'team' will discuss that.

Hughuenot said...

If the two perspectives are ideologically antithetical, how can they remain merged as "one"?

The two schools are self-consciously contradictory:

Election: Conditional or free?
Grace: Resistible or not?
Atonement: Potential & dependent, or efficacious & securing?
Depravity: Partial or total?

Jonathan said...

I do a lot of work in manufacturing. Historically, there are two mindsets regarding manufacturing/industrial engineering quality: 1) See every defect as a potential crisis, allocate a huge amount of resources in inspection and repair so that you can show how many major defects you've fixed. 2) See every potential defect as an opportunity to make the entire value stream more robust, drive the defect to the source and make the necessary changes to eliminate the problem so that it never occurs again.

The focus in #1 is to create opportunities for employment for repair operators and upwardly mobile engineers who are valued more for their powerpoint than their engineering skills. Since you never really focus on eliminating the problems, you create a condition of job security...at least until the economy tanks and the company is overwhelmed by the cost of waste and poor quality.

The focus in #2 is creating a culture of continuous improvement where the crisis is avoided, by design, and the result is a product that has the highest possible quality at the lowest possible cost (resulting in an increasing market share).

There are a number of things that the SBC needs to focus on. The calvinist debate is not in the top 5. So why focus on it? Because, as a rule, the pastoral profession (in the SBC specifically) is more aligned with #1 above. We just luv's us a good crisis...partially because it allows us to focus on anything but our ongoing failures to focus on global mission and steady and slow degradation as relevant force for Gospel advance.

Let local churches sort out the small handful of pastors who attempt covert takeovers and let's leave the sideshows to Barnum & Bailey.