Q&A 9 (Part 2): What Are Your Thoughts About Calvinism?

Reply #2:

Calvinism has become a hot topic of conversation within the SBC in the last decade. Some people gladly embrace it as a return to our roots and our founding fathers while others worry that it is going to destroy our convention. Often we hear stories of churches being torn asunder over the issue of Calvinism.

Now, am I fearful that Calvinism is going to rent the SBC? The answer is no I am not. What I am more concerned about is a Laodicean spirit within the churches of our Southern Baptist Convention where we have lost our passion for Christ, the gospel and the fulfilling of the Great Commission. Further, I think our real problem is not so much with Calvinism as it is immature, prideful and insensitive pastors who go into a church pushing an agenda that is not honoring to Christ and reflective of a shepherd’s heart. In other words, I think churches get torn up by pastors who do not know how to pastor. They get torn up because these men lack wisdom, love and a shepherd’s heart. I have seen just as many, if not more churches, torn up by non Calvinists as Calvinists. In other words pastors who divide and tear up churches are no respecter of theological systems. As a seminary president, I take this issue very seriously because it is our responsibility to teach our students to have the heart of a shepherd and to love their people above all else. Do I think that an aggressive Calvinist agenda is a problem? Yes. But, I think any aggressive theological agenda runs the risk of being a problem. However, I am not one that fears Calvinism is going to be a great divide within the SBC. I think there is a way for us to move forward together with respect and love and a common agenda built around our healthy and common confession of faith (the BF&M 2000) and the Great Commission. That is certainly my heart, and I sense it is the heart of many within the SBC. So lets talk, listen and be brothers and sister to one another. After all, that is who we are.

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  1. Bruce H   •  

    Paul and Barnabas had a difference of opinion about John Mark in Acts 15:37-40 and both were valid points. Contention has forced me into the depth of truth I may never have chosen in my Christian journey. The grace of God has also been a leading force into the inner sanctum of God. Something we miss about the Armenian and Calvinist argument is that it has done much good, too. Even Charismatic’s have affected the worship of Baptist. My point here is we have no problem with the difficulty of accepting the Trinity; One and Three. We can think of one God and we can think of the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit but we cannot think of them simultaneously but we easily accept it that way. Our problem from the beginning is that we want to make God a “free will” God or a “chosen” God. I struggle between one or the other because there is too much flesh in the reasoning of each separately but more Godlike together. For me, I have to view this paradox much like I view the Trinity. Both exist simultaneously and I have to understand that God is incomprehensible, eternal and all wise in order to accept it. Additionally, Jesus was both God and Man simultaneously and we accept that, too.

    IF there is further reading to support what I have written I would appreciate your comment. Thank you.

  2. Bill Nettles   •  

    “In other words pastors who divide and tear up churches are no respecter of theological systems.”

    Often, it’s not a theological divide, it’s a control issue, and that can cut all ways, congregation, deacons, or pastor.

    I’ve known of many churches that had problems not because of the pastor but because of immature, power-hungry members of the congregation. It may have been because a pastor was having to confront a sinful situation (affairs, gossip, back-biting), or someone who didn’t “like” the pastor for whatever reason found out he was “a Calvinist” (never mind he wasn’t aggressively pushing an agenda) and used that as a wedge to push him out or split the church. I suspect that “Calvinism” gets blamed for a church problem, when the real problem is something else.

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