I’ve been seeing a lot of criticism of Lifeway’s new curriculum, The Gospel Project, and it all revolves around Calvinism. Of course, I have yet to read a critical article from someone who actually claims to have read any of the materials that are posted online or cited them to prove their accusations. Many claims are made about the curriculum, it’s authors and editors, and Calvinists in general. I’ve identified a few of the more prominent ones:
1. Calvinists are incapable of writing with a broad appeal
Judged solely from the negative comments, I’d guess that The Gospel Project is a modern-day Calvinist catechism. Detractors claim that this curriculum doesn’t represent the views of the majority of Southern Baptists.
2. Calvinists are subtly inserting their doctrine in the curriculum
This point is diametrically opposed to the first one. First they say that the material is reeking of Calvinism, then they say it is so subtle that the average person won’t notice it. Since sample materials from The Gospel Project have been posted online for a while, they must be so subtle that even the detractors haven’t been able to find them, since I’ve yet to see any citations of the curriculum specifically linked to Calvinist doctrine.
3. The people writing this are all Calvinists
I’ll admit that there’s quite a few Calvinists associated with The Gospel Project, though the editors have insisted that this isn’t about Calvinism and there were non-Calvinists writing for it as well. But so what if there’s a Calvinist influence on the curriculum? I’ve learned and benefited much from preachers like Adrian Rogers, and I even taught a small group class following his book What Every Christian Ought to Know. I subscribe to all five points of Calvinism, but I’m not threatened by non-Calvinists, and I’m willing to introduce new believers to points of view that differ from my own. Rogers certainly wasn’t tooting any kind of anti-Calvinist horn when he wrote the book, but he still presents election and foreknowledge in a way that is clearly counter to what Calvinists believe.
People who write music, curricula, books, etc. will necessarily show some bias towards the views and beliefs they hold. That doesn’t mean Calvinists (or non-Calvinists for that matter) are incapable of writing with a broad appeal. If an author says, “Trust in our sovereign God,” will my opinion of his book change if I know he’s writing from an Arminian perspective? From a Calvinistic perspective? Just because there are a good deal of Calvinists working on The Gospel Project doesn’t mean Calvinists are trying to sneak their doctrine into everything they write with the hopes of converting readers to Calvinism. Its the detractors who are focusing on Calvinism, not the authors.
Read some of the sample materials for yourself. It’s out there, accessible to anyone who’s interested. I ask that everyone read a little of it, and if you see Calvinist propaganda, point it out in the comments below. I’m serious. I don’t want to play games with words and imaginary offenses. If you see something in there that is clearly teaching Calvinism, point it out.
Conversely, if you read anything you like, copy and paste it in the comments section. Here’s something I liked (and it could easily have come from the pen of a Calvinist or an Arminian):
“The gospel is the story of a God who issues a call to helpless sinners. In our blindness and deafness, we are imprisoned by our own sinfulness. We cannot see the goodness of God until He gives us new eyes. We cannot hear the voice of God until He opens our ears. Like Helen Keller, we struggle to make sense of the world around us—why we are here and where we are going.”
The Gospel Project, Adult Leader Pilot, Volume 1, Number 1 Fall 2012, pg.15