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.
This ‘news’ may be a month and a half old, but it’s still relevant; I keep seeing references to the decline in membership in the SBC in other news stories, (e.g. “even conservative evangelicals like the Southern Baptists are in decline“), so I searched this out, and found this piece on the subject.
Membership in the Southern Baptist Convention dropped again over the last year, according to a new report. The largest Protestant denomination in the country now counts less than 16 million members.
This marks the fifth straight year the SBC has lost members. Primary worship attendance has also dropped by 0.65 percent to around 6.16 million.
One Southern Baptist and researcher lamented that the denomination is not only experiencing decline but an acceleration of decline.
Compared to a 0.15 percent drop from 2009 to 2010, membership fell by 0.98 percent from 2010 to 2011.
“Based on the trend of annual percent change in SBC total membership, we are catching up with the Methodists, and will match their decline rate consistently by 2018,” said Ed Stetzer, president of LifeWay Research, in his blog. “This trend points to a future of more and faster decline — and it is a 60-year trend.”
The Annual Church Profile, compiled by LifeWay Christian Resources, was released Tuesday ahead of the SBC’s annual meeting in New Orleans. Thousands of SBC messengers, or delegates, will be converging on June 19 to fellowship, discuss resolutions, and elect new leaders. Perhaps the most anticipated event of the two-day meeting will be the likely election of an African-American as president for the first time in SBC history.
BTW, they did end up electing a black American as their president, a week after the above story.
Whether they did so, because they truly felt he was the best man for the job, or because ‘it was time’ / to get away from their past (explicitly pro-slavery at the time of their founding), I will not speculate.
But I’ll quote him:
“If we stop appointing African-Americans, Asians, Hispanics to leadership positions after this, we’ve failed,” he said. “… I promise you I’m going to do all that I can to make sure this is not just a one-and-done deal.”
Hey, remember how MLK expressed his desire for a colour-blind society, where people are judged “by the content of their character”, and “not by the colour of their skin”? But ‘anti-racist’ types today are ‘bean-counters’, numbers matter greatly to them…
Anyway, I’m still curious about the ongoing struggle in their church between Calvinists and non-Calvinists.
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.”