Wednesday, May 15, 2013

What's Frank Page's Calvinist Team to say?

Frank Page's Calvinist advisory team, a group of mostly SBC luminaries, leaders, and heavyweights will issue a report during the convention next month. Forgive my pessimism, but the prospects for much impact have diminished greatly since he announced the informal group last June in New Orleans.

They have met. They have discussed, in the lamentably traditional Southern Baptist method of being behind closed doors and without ordinary Southern Baptists being able to listen, and have issued bland statements.

So, what is to come out of this?

Nothing to do with the Baptist Faith and Message Statement, unless it is to restate that the BFM allows for both Calvinist and Traditionalist beliefs.
Page said as much earlier:

I have no interest in changing The Baptist Faith and Message. It has been wisely crafted by previous generations of thoughtful, thinking Baptists to allow for a breadth of interpretations about God's purpose of grace. It was written so that Calvinists and non-Calvinists can join hands and hearts for the common cause of world evangelization.
Current SBC president Fred Luter gave an indication of the outcome in March when he said,

"There's going to be a proclamation given out that hopefully will satisfy everybody," Luter said. "We've got to look at this thing as spiritual warfare. ... It's an issue that has to be dealt with, and unless we deal with it in a Christian-like manner, I really believe the enemy can come and divide us."
I love an optimist and someone who has hopes that "everybody" in the SBC will be satisfied. Such a person is either an incorrigible optimist or has just arrived from Mars. Luter is not from Mars.

Here is my rank conjecture as to what the team's report will say:

1. Both traditions are welcome in the SBC and have been historically present.
2. SBC entity leaders and trustees should be careful not to discriminate on the basis of either Calvinism or Traditionalism in their hiring.
3. SBC seminaries are encouraged to be welcoming and affirming to students from both groups.
4. The BFM is sufficient as it stands and needs no clarification or revision.
5. Southern Baptists of both traditions agree on the primary doctrines and this should be a source of rejoicing.
6. Healthy, civil, congenial, and respectful debate on secondary doctrinal matters is to be expected and even encouraged.

I'm predicting a report that will be encouraging though banal. The silence of this group for the last few months is an indication that nothing surprising is to be expected.

Here are some things that should be said but will not:

1. Any quota system that seeks to apportion seminaries, SBC officers, SBC entity CEOs is harmful and destructive and should be avoided. Trustees should be encouraged to seek the best leaders and administrators and the best and most qualified faculty that are available without regard to how Calvinistic or Traditionalist the candidates are.

2. Trustees of state convention and SBC entities which sponsor websites whose purpose is to promote one camp or the other should reevaluate their priorities and promote Christ instead.

3. Bloggers are to be commended for providing the only arena where the issue of Calvinism and Traditionalism can be discussed openly and civilly by pastors and laypeople in the SBC.

4. Some bloggers who write and comment in a harsh, judgmental, and destructive manner on these issues should just shut up.

5. Any entity that seeks to purge its faculty, administration, or trustee board from either Calvinists or Traditionalists should feel the weight of disapproval from Southern Baptists of both camps and should be marginalized and condemned.
6. Prospective Calvinist pastors should avoid blowing up churches in order to correct what they see as heresy and should fully disclose their intents prior to accepting a pastorate.
7. Any new SBC war along the lines of the Conservative Resurgence of a generation ago will be very costly to our already beleaguered Cooperative Program and to the cause of Southern Baptist missions in our country and around the world should be avoided at all costs.

Some have already drawn the battle lines and are determined to fight. I hope that they are few and that we can find a way to shuffle these bellicose Baptists off to the side while the vast bulk of us do the work of Christ.


Anonymous said...

It will be "encouraging though banal" and totally ineffective. SBC nature is, say, "this", and no matter what SBC does, it cannot be, say, "that". Conservatives fought the battle to be "this" by being the "this" it was and is. Why would anyone think "this" could ever be "that"?

Anonymous said...

This exactly why I have little or no desire to be a member of a SBC church any more. Was an IMB missionary for many years. Left the IMB, went back to same country as a tent-maker missionary. Was as happy as could be.

Retiring the end of this month and returning to my home state, but NOT a SBC church. Will be going to a church that is what SBC churches were like years ago before the "this" and "that" became so important.

I will never will be a part again of a denomination or a mission board that says give your allegiance to the BFM 2000 or you will be fired as a missionary. I will give my full allegiance to God and God alone. If that is not good enough for the SBC, then I no longer want to be a part of that denomination. I am sorry to say my parents and my sons have already left the SBC.

You may not even print this on your blog, but at least you will know how disappointed and frustrated I feel with the SBC.

Returning happy tent-maker missionary from Japan.

Anonymous said...

Think of what the SBC would be today if there had been no Conservative Resurgence. Even though some of the leaders weren't the best, at least it spared us what was about to happen. It could (and would have been) much worse than what you don't like today.

Anonymous said...

" ... it spared us what was about to happen."

What was about to happen?