Friday, May 27, 2016

This election doesn't need to be about Calvinism...and I hope it isn't.

All the candidates were asked about Calvinism by B21. Here is what they said. Crosby gave a short answer so his is complete below. Gaines and Greear gave longer answers, so I have excerpted theirs. Click to see the whole interview.

J. D. Greear: I am pretty confident that if you asked the average person at the Summit whether we were “Calvinist” or “non-Calvinist,” they wouldn’t know what to tell you. I prefer the balance of the BFM 2000 here. We are committed to preaching the Bible, doing the work of evangelism, and giving God all the credit.

David Crosby: No one in the SBC is about to reveal a theological fix to this centuries-old theological conundrum. Anyone who thinks they have tied up all the loose ends is either self-deluded or a heretic. Therefore our solution must be found in the common ground we share in Christ and the work we do together, as it has always been. I don’t want to throw out anyone on either side of this theological discussion. We must focus on Christ and the gospel. We must fight the “party spirit” that always seeks to divide and weaken our work. We can do this work together. If we do it together, we will get more done for our Savior. He prayed that we would be one. Let’s cooperate with the Spirit in the unity he is bringing to the bride of Christ.

Steve Gaines: The SBC has always had Calvinists and non-Calvinists. I’m fine with that, as long as one side does not seek to dominate the other. Calvinism does not need to be taught as the exclusive, optimal theological viewpoint in our seminaries. Non-Calvinist students should not be subjected to Calvinistic professors who proactively seek to convert them to Calvinism. None of our seminaries should have a faculty of professors who are exclusively Calvinistic. Non-Calvinistic professors should be an integral part of each one of our seminary faculties because most Southern Baptists are not Calvinists, and they are the ones that fund our seminaries and pay the salaries of our professors.

While all of them call for working together and unity, only Steve Gaines goes to the specifics of "optimal theolog[y]" in the seminaries, students being subjected to proselytizing profs, and the warning against exclusively Calvinistic faculties.

Huh? Why go after the Calvinists and include all the detail warnings about seminaries and their faculty and practices?

Well, whatever it is, he repeats the same things in an interview with The Baptist Message:
Gaines said the Baptist Faith and Message is broad enough for both groups, but because the majority of Southern Baptists are not Calvinists, Calvinism should not be taught as the principal theological position of any SBC entity.
“I do believe that our students need to know about Calvinism. I don’t mind our seminaries teaching about Calvinism, but it should not be the exclusive theological position taught in any of our schools,” he said.
We should expect all leaders in the Southern Baptist Convention and all entities serving our denomination to affirm, to respect, and to represent all Southern Baptists of good faith and to serve the great unity of our Convention. No entity should be promoting Calvinism or non-Calvinism to the exclusion of the other. Our entities should be places where any Southern Baptist who stands within the boundaries of The Baptist Faith and Message should be welcomed and affirmed as they have opportunities to benefit from, participate in, and provide leadership for those entities.

I haven't heard a candidate for major office, or prominent SBC leader bring the matter up since the report was presented three years ago until Steve Gaines, twice now, tossed out the comments about SBC seminaries, faculties. 

Salient question not asked of Steve Gaines: Do you think that there is a problem in any of our seminaries or entities in regard to Calvinism? 


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