Monday, June 3, 2013

What Frank Page's Calvinist Team Got Right

Frank Page, our Executive Committee’s “Chief Encouraging Officer” as he likes to describe himself, did well in an honest attempt to stave off further harm to our cooperative work by establishing an informal team to develop  "a strategy whereby people of various theological persuasions can purposely work together in missions and evangelism."

He recognized that Calvinism is a problem in the SBC that will harm us if matters continue as they have for the past decade or so, one of the reasons I both like and respect him.

The 19 member team has issued a report which can be found in this Baptist Press article.

 The team got most things right, including:
1. The Baptist Faith and Message is fine as is and needs no changes.
2. We agree with each other on the doctrines that are most critical.
3. We disagree on some things, none of which are deal breakers.
4. We should disagree agreeably and avoid unhealthy acrimony and disputing.
5. No  SBC entity should promote Calvinism or non-Calvinism to the exclusion of the other.
6. All SBC entities should be welcoming and affirming to both Calvinists and non-Calvinists.
7. Candidates for church positions should be candid about their beliefs, as should the church searching for a minister.
8. Hyper-Calvinism should be rejected.

Not that it’s worth much, but I predicted almost all of these a couple of weeks ago.

The critical conclusions are 1, 6, & 7:

The BFM is our common denominator. Don't mess with it.

As a denomination, we should not employ individuals nor fund institutions that are partisan in this theological respect.

We should not tolerate agencies and institutions that fail to welcome and affirm both Calvinists and non-Calvinists.

I liked Page’s leadership on this and appreciate the effort. There is nothing about the report that troubles me and I commend it all. Perhaps it will help things.

After ruminating on it I am left thinking that we Southern Baptists are predictable to a fault: A problem is recognized. A blue ribbon group is formed. They meet behind closed doors and discuss it. A report is issued complete with alliteration. Prominent individuals offer high praise for the effort and for the folks involved. We slap backs, congratulate each other on how wonderful we are and then go home and forget about it all. I hope this is not the case.

Next: What the team got wrong.



Stephen Fox said...
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William Thornton said...

Fox, don't use my blog to pump your name lists. Thanks.

Ed T. said...

William, as a lowly peon in the pews, I don't really keep up with all this upper-level stuff except for what I read when you post about it here or at our other "gathering place".

Have you ever read C.H. Spurgeon's "In Defense of Calvinism?" Spurgeon seems to do a good job of summarizing and aruging for what I would take as the Traditionalist position and I have ever since considered what we today call "Calvinism" to be more akin to "hyper-Calvinism". However, things are complicated by saying both sets in this issue reject "hyper-Calvinism". Spurgeon rejected limited atonement and allowed for a role for free-will in salvation alongside election, but rejected Arminianism.

I think I'm going to need a chart to figure out the differences outside of election and limited atonement. :(