Calvinism in the SBC – An Update

Baptist Press – Statement on Calvinism draws approval, criticism – News with a Christian Perspective.

Here’s an interesting update (June 1, 2012) on the “state of Calvinism” in the Southern Baptist Convention. Seems the staunch (Arminian) Baptists will “tolerate” Calvinism to a point, but not when it starts to be “pushed” as the standard. There’s much of interest in this summary of what is trending in the SBC. The old Arminian-Calvinist battle lives on even in this post-modern church age. No need to worry: God’s sovereign will and grace will prevail.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP) — A group of current and former Southern Baptist leaders has signed a statement affirming what they call the “traditional Southern Baptist” understanding of the doctrine of salvation, with the goal of drawing a distinction with the beliefs of “New Calvinism.”

…The document was titled, “A Statement of the Traditional Southern Baptist Understanding of God’s Plan of Salvation.” (Read the entire document at the bottom of this story.)

“For the most part, Southern Baptists have been glad to relegate disagreements over Calvinism to secondary status along with other important but ‘non-essential’ theological matters,” the document reads in the preamble. “The Southern Baptist majority has fellowshipped happily with its Calvinist brethren while kindly resisting Calvinism itself. And, to their credit, most Southern Baptist Calvinists have not demanded the adoption of their view as the standard. We would be fine if this consensus continued, but some New Calvinists seem to be pushing for a radical alteration of this long-standing arrangement.”

The document further asserts that the “vast majority of Southern Baptists are not Calvinists and that they do not want Calvinism to become the standard view in Southern Baptist life.”

“We believe it is time to move beyond Calvinism as a reference point for Baptist soteriology,” the statement reads. Soteriology is the study of the doctrine of salvation.

Each of the 10 articles includes a statement of what the signers affirm and what they deny. For instance, on the article about the Grace of God, the document says:

“We affirm that grace is God’s generous decision to provide salvation for any person by taking all of the initiative in providing atonement, in freely offering the Gospel in the power of the Holy Spirit, and in uniting the believer to Christ through the Holy Spirit by faith.”

“A nation of Osteens and Obamas, …a Nation of Heretics”

‘A nation of Osteens and Obamas’ – Guest Voices – The Washington Post.

This amazingly powerful and perceptive article on the state of religion in contemporary America was written by Russ Douthat and appeared in the Washington Post back on May 16, 2012. In describing the present spiritual scene Douthat describes us as a “nation of Osteens and Obamas, …a nation of heretics” because of what we have done to Christianity.

That is what makes the U.S. such a dangerous place to be for the Christian and for the church. We rejoice in our “freedom” of religion and worship, but in doing so we can so easily become enslaved to the man-made brands of Christianity that abound here. This is without doubt the age of heresy and apostasy, and we must stay on our guard in all areas of doctrine and life. It is not as “safe” as we think to be a believer in America. Vigilance according to the Word of God is the need of the day.

I believe you will find this brief commentary to be quite accurate. Makes me want to read his newly published book (see link at end of quote). Here are a few quotes from the piece; read the rest at the link above.

For decades, the cultural tug-of-war between the Christian right and the secular left has encouraged people to envision the American religious future in binary terms –as either godless or orthodox, either straightforwardly secular or traditionally Christian. But these examples and trends suggest a more complicated reality, in which religious institutions have declined but religion itself has not, and Americans increasingly redefine Christianity as they see fit rather than than abandoning it entirely.

We aren’t a nation of rigorous Richard Dawkins-style atheists and equally rigorous Pope Benedict XVI-style Catholics, in other words. Instead, we’re a nation of Osteens and Obamas, Dan Browns and Deepak Chopras –neither a Christian nation nor a secular society, but a nation of heretics.

To many Americans, this description no doubt sounds like a compliment. Because we’ve always been a nation from of religious freethinkers and entrepreneurs –from Thomas Jefferson and Ralph Waldo Emerson to Joseph Smith and Mary Baker Eddy –the word “heretic” often carries positive connotations in our religious culture. It’s associated with theological daring, spiritual experimentation, and a willingness to blaze new trails and push on toward new horizons.

But the heretical imperative in America’s religious life has usually existed in a kind of fruitful and creative tension with more conservative, institutional, and historically-rooted forms of faith –first denominational Protestantism and then later the Roman Catholic Church as well. And the post-1960s decline of these churches has taken a significant toll on our common life, in ways that both religious and secular observers should be able to recognize.

Ross Douthat is a New York Times columnist and author, most recently, of “Bad Religion: How We Became a Nation of Heretics.” He wrote this piece for On Faith.