My Question for Fellow Non-Calvinistic Southern Baptists
Not all of our state conventions in the SBC have adopted the BF&M 2000. Cooperative Program money in some of our state conventions still funds institutions where people deny biblical inerrancy and live, in most ways, in a pre-Conservative-Resurgence SBC.
Now, I understand that soteriology is important. I understand that the circumstances of our day make Calvinism a major topic of discussion. But I have to wonder, why is there so much energy available for talking about Calvinism, and, for some people, so much energy available for attacking Calvinism, but there's so little energy for getting state conventions to adopt the BF&M 2000 and for advancing biblical inerrancy in state Baptist conventions?
Do you think that the nature of election is really a more important question than the nature of the Bible? Are your priorities in this matter reflected in the way that you are spending your time and influence? Why are there people in our convention who are bold to attack the Founders but meek to talk about the CBF?
My Question for Calvinistic Southern Baptists
I know that there are churches where, at the moment, search committees would be unlikely to call a candidate who professed to be a Calvinist. However, not infrequently do I hear some of my Calvinistic brethren talk about SBC churches that they either have planted or have led to affirm the Second London Confession or some other decidedly Calvinistic statement of faith. Indeed, Sam Waldron (a scholar I very much enjoy) published in the journal of 9 Marks (an institution I absolutely love) an article entitled "Why (and How) Your Church Should Hold the 1689 Confession." Couldn't that article also be accurately entitled "Why Your Church Should Tell All Non-Calvinist SBCers That They Aren't Welcome Here As Members or Pastors"?
Isn't that going a good bit beyond what anyone has ever done to try to keep Calvinists out of particular SBC pulpits? Basically, if you do that, aren't you constitutionally setting up a church to make certain that no pastors who aren't Calvinists will EVER be considered for that church? If there's a practice afoot of adopting statements of faith in SBC churches to exclude Calvinists forever, I don't know of it.
Now, our churches are autonomous. I'm not questioning whether any church has the RIGHT to adopt Second London…or whatever. Indeed, our churches have the right to leave the convention altogether or even to leave the faith! I believe in local church autonomy and I'm not undermining it at all. Rather, I'm just asking, isn't it a bit disingenuous to complain of exclusionary practices among non-Calvinist SBCers if, at the very same time, you're setting things up in your church to exclude most SBC members and pastors from ever being able to be a part of your church?
If, as a pastor with that kind of local practice, in a national platform you say that Calvinism isn't something that should divide us, but that we should cooperate in spite of differences over Calvinism, I think you're a bit schizophrenic. How can it be terribly important locally—important enough for church schism—and not terribly important nationally?
I love you both. I'm not going to fight about Calvinism. I'm just not. But as a bystander to much of what is going on in the SBC these days, even if these questions are not troubling to you, they are troubling to me. I wish you'd all think about them. If you've got really good answers, I'd love to hear them.