As debate over Calvinism has become heated in the Southern Baptist Convention, one of the denomination’s key leaders announced this week that he has formed a group to figure out how to work together.
“There are extremes on both sides that have garnered attention and I want us to pull us back together to that group who say ‘I may or may not be a Calvinist but I love Calvinists, I love non-Calvinists and we can and will do missions and evangelism together,” Frank Page, president of the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee, said Thursday.
According to Baptist Press, the group – or advisory team – consists of 16 Southern Baptists, including Mark Dever of Capitol Hill Baptist Church, Timothy George of Beeson Divinity School, SBC President Fred Luter, R. Albert Mohler of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and Paige Patterson of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.
Page, a former SBC president, said Thursday during a forum with Mohler at SBTS that it is not an “official” committee.
The debate over Calvinism in the SBC was reignited in recent years as some in the denomination felt there was a push by “New Calvinists” to have their views adopted.
Only a minority of Southern Baptists are Calvinists but a LifeWay Research survey conducted this year found that more people were signing on to the theological system. Sixteen percent of Southern Baptist pastors now say they are five-point Calvinists, up from 10 percent in 2006.
A majority of Southern Baptists (61 percent), meanwhile, indicated that they are concerned about the impact of Calvinism on the SBC.
Interesting developments in the SBC. (At least to me, as a Calvinist.)
Hundreds of Southern Baptists have signed a statement that rejects Calvinist views on the doctrine of salvation and outlines the “traditional Southern Baptist Understanding of God’s Plan of Salvation.”
The statement – which denies that God predestined certain people for salvation and others for condemnation, among other beliefs – has stirred wide debate within the Southern Baptist Convention with some affirming it fully and others arguing that it is causing an unnecessary division.
“Why are we headed down the broken road of schism over Calvinism today?” asked Josh Buice, pastor of Pray’s Mill Baptist Church in Douglasville, Ga.
“Have we forgotten our history as Southern Baptists where we had Calvinists such as Lottie Moon, James P. Boyce, John L. Dagg, A.T. Robertson, John A. Broadus, and many others who served in our convention along with those who were less Calvinistic (Reformed) in their doctrine? They didn’t fight over it, throw mud, and pull out the heresy sword to use on one another.”