Baptists seek compromise over Calvinisim: The Church of England Newspaper, June 9, 2013, p 7. June 15, 2013Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Southern Baptist Convention.
Tags: Arminianism, Calvinism
In a bid to forestall a theological civil war within America’s largest Protestant denomination, the Southern Baptist Convention, a task force has released a seven page report on Calvinism urging tolerance of competing views on election.
“We affirm that, from the very beginning of our denominational life, Calvinists and non-Calvinists have cooperated together. We affirm that these differences should not threaten our eager cooperation in Great Commission ministries, “ said the report entitled “Truth, Trust, and Testimony in a Time of Tension.”
In August 2012 the Rev. Frank Page, president of the SBC Executive Committee, commissioned an advisory team to craft a statement outlining “a strategy whereby people of various theological persuasions can purposely work together in missions and evangelism.”
The Baptist Press reported last year that a study by LifeWay Research found that the denomination’s 45,000 congregations were equally divided consider between Calvinist/Reformed and Arminian/Wesleyan traditions. During his 2012presidential address to the church’s annual convention, then-SBC President the Rev. Bryant Wright called the tension between “traditional” Southern Baptists and “Calvinists” the “elephant in the room.”
Wright said he was concerned that Christ-centered, Bible-believing Southern Baptists will be so engaged in correcting one another’s theological views when it comes to election and salvation that they will be detracted from their mission of evangelizing the lost.
“These two views on election and salvation can coexist as long as we stay Christ-centered and biblically based in our theology,” Dr. Wright said, while in his address Mr. Page said: “There seems to be some non-Calvinists who are more concerned about rooting out Calvinists than they are about winning the lost for Christ,” while some Calvinists “seem to think that if we do not believe the same thing about soteriology that they believe somehow we are less intelligent or ignorant at best.”
The advisory committee urged Baptists to stand together “in rejecting any form of hyper-Calvinism that denies the mandate to present the offer of the Gospel to all sinners or that denies the necessity of a human response to the Gospel that involves the human will.”
“Similarly, we must reject any form of Arminianism that elevates the human will above the divine will or that denies that those who come to faith in Christ are kept by the power of God,” the task force said.
It said: “No entity should be promoting Calvinism or non-Calvinism to the exclusion of the other” and called for all “to avoid the development of partisan divisions among Southern Baptists.”
The report acknowledged the divisions between Calvinists and Arminians could not be resolved. The task force agreed “God loves everyone and desires to save everyone, but we differ as to why only some are ultimately saved.”