Friday, November 9, 2012

While we were distracted: Secret Calvinism meeting

This past Monday and Tuesday, while America was distracted by the presidential election, there was another secret Calvinism meeting held in Nashville.

Well, no, it wasn't actually secret and I confess to shameless provocation in my title. So sue me.

Baptist Press reported on it:

Calvinism team meets for second time

This was a second meeting of Frank Page's informal Calvinist advisory group. The BP article by "staff" implied that some BP person sat in on the meeting.

The meeting was conducted on background rules involving no quoted statements by or attribution of comments to advisory team members. By consensus, the advisory team agreed that Page would issue a statement after the meeting.

Frank Page has pretty good instincts but I will say again that I think he is making a mistake to have this group meet a bunch of times away from public view and then at the end issue some grand statement. Southern Baptists who are interested in the Calvinist issue and internecine squabbles act like adults for the most part. This philosophy that SBCers cannot tackle a serious matter publicly is wrongheaded and undermines the entire credibility and ultimate effectiveness of this effort.

But this is Frank Page's personal committee and he may certainly do what he wishes with it. Were I closer to Nashville, I would probably ask if I could sit in on the next meeting, even if I had to agree to keep silent about it.

As for the meeting this week, Page issued a boilerplate statement that said not much of anything but did reiterate that he did not intend to recommend any change to the Baptist Faith and Message Statement.

I am not sure what can come out of these private discussions among SBC luminaries that will be helpful to the SBC at large but I am sure that whatever does bubble up out of them will be less helpful that they would be if the meetings were open and public.

Southern Baptists and backroom, private meetings. A marriage made somewhere but not in heaven.


Unknown said...

Darn it all have open meetings. Why is that so hard to do.

Lee said...

Why should there be any surprise at all over the way this is being handled. Secret meetings with "a few prominent Baptist leaders" gathered have been the M.O. of Southern Baptists at all levels ever since I first became aware of convention operations way back in the 70's. It's how the CR got started, at the Cafe DuMonde in New Orleans. But it was in place long, long, long before that. There's an issue, so someone who thinks the SBC runs from the top down "calls a meetin'" usually inviting his closest buds, justifying each choice with their long resume of committee and board memberships and how much their church gives to the Cooperative Program. Then they decide what they are going to do, and who is going to do it, announce it, and declare the problem solved.

Unknown said...

I really have a problem with Dr. Page even hosting such a committee since no Calvinist can truthfully say he agrees with the BF&M without reservation. For instance, take Article II on God which says, “There is one and only one living and true God. He is an intelligent, spiritual, and personal Being, the Creator, Redeemer, Preserver, and Ruler of the universe. God is infinite in holiness and all other perfections. God is all powerful and all knowing; and His perfect knowledge extends to all things, past, present, and future, including the future decisions of His free creatures. To Him we owe the highest love, reverence, and obedience. The eternal triune God reveals Himself to us as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, with distinct personal attributes, but without division of nature, essence, or being.”

The Calvinists I have talked to argue about the term ‘free’ stating that to them this means Adam’s original state apart from man’s state which they quote part of Article III, “By his free choice man sinned against God and brought sin into the human race.”

Consider Article III on Man which says, “Man is the special creation of God, made in His own image. He created them male and female as the crowning work of His creation. The gift of gender is thus part of the goodness of God's creation. In the beginning man was innocent of sin and was endowed by his Creator with freedom of choice. By his free choice man sinned against God and brought sin into the human race. Through the temptation of Satan man transgressed the command of God, and fell from his original innocence whereby his posterity inherit a nature and an environment inclined toward sin. Therefore, as soon as they are capable of moral action, they become transgressors and are under condemnation. Only the grace of God can bring man into His holy fellowship and enable man to fulfill the creative purpose of God. The sacredness of human personality is evident in that God created man in His own image, and in that Christ died for man; therefore, every person of every race possesses full dignity and is worthy of respect and Christian love.”

Calvinist do not believe that man inherits “…a nature and an environment inclined toward sin. Therefore, as soon as they are capable of moral action, they become transgressors and are under condemnation” but rather than man is corrupt and unless God directly intervenes and Chooses him to be saved he will die and go to hell – even the unborn and babies.
Consider Article IV on Salvation which says in part, “Salvation involves the redemption of the whole man, and is offered freely to all who accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour, who by His own blood obtained eternal redemption for the believer.”

How can Calvinist claim to agree with this statement with a straight face? They do not believe that man is free to choose or reject God’s offer of salvation. In fact, they don’t believe that God offers salvation to all men but only to a select few which He chose before creation. Their belief on this subject, like so many others is similar to someone having a van full of children and yelling out, “Who wants an ice cream cone?” Only to respond, “Oh, I didn’t mean all of you, just my two kids on the front seat.”

Based upon Calvinist’s beliefs I have to question whether the god they worship is the God of the Bible. That leads to the next question I have which is how can people who believe so much differently co-minister in harmony.

Just the opinion of an old soldier who has a lot of questions.