If You Desire Non-Confessional Proportionality in the SBC, You Defeat Yourself

This article was originally posted at my site. I’m married with three children, an SBC pastor, a PhD student at SBTS, and an average Southern Baptist. I’ve authored two books. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and YouTube.

Some Southern Baptists argue for a type of proportionality in SBC leadership which goes beyond confessionalism. In their words, “We want SBC leadership to look like the SBC.” The Baptist Faith and Message 2000–the only confession voted on by Southern Baptists–is not a narrow enough standard for these Southern Baptists. They want SBC leadership to reflect the various nuances of theology possessed by their definition of the “majority beliefs” of Southern Baptists. These “proportionists,” however, in pursuing their relative proportionalism, defeat themselves.

If you desire SBC leadership to look like the SBC beyond the Baptist Faith and Message 2000, you defeat yourself because…

1. You are in the minority based on tradition. What you’re suggesting is something the SBC has never practiced in her history–over 168 years. In other words, true proportionality based on SBC history is the opposite of what you’re suggesting. If you want traditional proportionality, then you want only confessional proportionality. Currently, that’s what we have in the SBC. One only need to affirm the BF&M2K to serve in SBC leadership.

2. You are in the minority based on the vote of the convention. The governing confession for leadership in the SBC is the Baptist Faith and Message 2000. A couple of our seminaries (SBTS and SEBTS) use the first confession forged in the Southern Baptist convention, the Abstract of Principles, as the guiding document (in their charters as sanctioned by the vote of the SBC) in addition to the BF&M2K. Even this form of proportionality is simple confessionalism. Southern Baptists are a confessional people. If one wants to know what a Southern Baptist is, one only need to look at her confessions. If you really want SBC leadership to reflect the majority Southern Baptist position on everything, including proportionality, then you’ll want SBC leadership to be only in favor of confessional proportionality. The majority has only voted for confessional proportionality. In other words, if you want SBC leadership to reflect the SBC, you’ll want people who disagree with you on proportionality to serve in SBC leadership.

Thus, I believe all those in the SBC who argue in favor of Non-confessional proportionality defeat themselves.

What are your thoughts?

This article was originally posted at my site. I’m married with three children, an SBC pastor, a PhD student at SBTS, and an average Southern Baptist. I’ve authored two books. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and YouTube.


  1. Chris Crain says

    What are we talking about here? Is the desired outcome proportional representation in eschatology, worship style, soterilogy? Help me understand.

  2. Greg Harvey says

    There’s a verse for that?

    Knowing their thoughts, He told them: “Every kingdom divided against itself is headed for destruction, and no city or house divided against itself will stand.”

      • Greg Harvey says

        I would add that I view Jared’s comment and this verse very symmetrically. I know Rick has said why he thinks a change needs to happen is the perception that Calvinistic Baptists have achieved gains in influencing or controlling some areas of SBC life. I disagree with his view but agree with the principle being uniformly applied by the Convention.

        I would even offer that when there are multiple networks that are willing to participate in funding a new plant that the new plant choose carefully in order to correctly align with its primary perceived purpose and mission.

        As I said before: I’m an equal opportunity offender.

      • Greg Harvey says

        Unfortunately, the only direction you can take that argumentation is disruptive to conversation, Debbie. Though I acknowledge the central truth–and mystery–of what you’re saying.

          • Dave Miller says

            I disagree with you disagreeing with his agreement with your disagreement over his agreement.

            I think.

  3. says

    Rick Patrick and others have argued at this site for proportionality in leadership. I would say this in regards to that:

    1) Rick Patrick, or anyone else, has the right to argue for, vote for, and promote proportionality to whatever extent he thinks is right. It is a legitimate position that can be argued. Though it is not one I support, he and others have every right as messengers to argue for it.

    2) Until the SBC, in its annual meeting, votes to enforce proportionality, it is not an authoritative principle in the SBC. There is not now nor has there ever been a principle in SBC life that says that the leadership of SBC entities has to follow a proportionality principle.

    3) I agree in principle with Jared that the only theological confession that is enforceable in SBC life in general is the BF&M 2000, approved by the SBC in session.

    (The controversial exception to that, of course, is the Abstract, which predates the BF&M by multiple decades and is authoritative at SBTS and SEBTS).

    Proportionality is only an issue if the messengers of the SBC make it one. Thus far they have not.

    • Rick Patrick says


      As Dave has already mentioned, in appealing to the Abstract of Principles in its hiring decisions, SBTS and SEBTS have clearly chosen to operate from a more narrow theological confession than the BFM2K.

      Should any other Southern Baptist institution, for example, adopt the Traditional Statement, or any other confession, formally or informally, then it is certainly within their right to appeal to a more narrow theological confession as well.

      I mean, if it’s okay for one, it’s okay for the other.

      Surely no one will argue that the date of original adoption matters at all. Who would actually claim that it is okay for Southern and Southeastern to be more narrow than the BFM2K because the Abstract was written in the 19th century, but it is not okay for others to adopt a more narrow confession than the BFM2K simply because their theological statement was written in the 21st century.

      More narrow is more narrow is more narrow.

      Jared likes to make proportionality sound pejorative, but the premise that our leadership should represent the identity of our membership, that they should LOOK like us, that they should REFLECT our identity, is actually a very solid leadership principle. When you form committees or teams in your church, do you not seek to include all age groups, genders, and the like? Do you not want your team to be representative?

      This is the philosophy underlying proportionality, as well as the American ideal that there should be no taxation without representation.

        • William Thornton says

          Wrong, bro. Our identity has many components. It is not encapsulated in the BFM. Even if you walk this back and say “confessional identity” there are some wrinkles to that, as you have noted above.

      • William Thornton says

        Rick, why does it matter? Do seminaries with Calvinistic CEOs graduate less effective pastors? Do Calvinistic pastors baptize less people? Plant less churches? Disciple less? Does their theology seriously depart from the BFM?

        We all have our preferences and yours may well be beneficial to the SBC in the long haul but surely someone can make a case. I may be persuaded.

        We also have our irritants and I will admit that Calvinists in general irritate me more than Traditionalists although the latter have gained in this recently.

        • Rick Patrick says


          If Calvinists are irritating you a bit more than Traditionalists, then we are certainly going to have to step up our game. :-)

          For me, the reason it matters is (1) the principle of fairness in including as leaders the kinds of Southern Baptists who are actually paying the bills, and (2) the different approach often taken by Calvinists and Traditionalists with regard to ministry philosophy and strategy.

          Is it really a coincidence that GCR was the brainchild of our two most Calvinistic seminary Presidents? They are the ones charting our present course, and the clash of competing visions has been clear.

          • William Thornton says

            So, Rick, what about our present course is objectionable to you other than the fact that Mohler and Akin exert influence?

            What exactly are the contrasts in what you point to as “competing visions” that you do not mention but categorically state are “clear”?

            Is there an issue with church planting thrusts?

            Is there an issue with the Calvinist churches that baptize more on average than those whose pastors identify themselves as non-Calvinists?

            Are the seminaries routinely referred to by Trads as too Calvinistic failing in their mission?

            What about the GCR has been harmful to the SBC as a whole?

            What is easily recognizable is that you and others want less Calvinists as SBC leaders and more Trads. Fine. Why?

          • Rick Patrick says

            1. I think the GCR demonstrated an unwise, top down, less than cooperative, and somewhat bullying approach towards the state conventions that has more or less fractured the SBC. The bloated bureaucracy charge may have been withdrawn by GCR leaders for PR purposes, but I truly believe, deep down, they still feel that way.

            2. Yes, church planting is a huge issue. It’s all NAMB wants to do, and some of us not only think they should do a great deal more, but also harbor suspicions that new plants will disproportionately favor the views of my least favorite Sixteenth Century French theologian.

            3. Your stats on Cal and Trad baptism rates, while accurate, are impacted by the larger population of Trads. A greater majority of such churches are the old, established churches in the country or inner city that are, in many cases, “senior adult only” style family churches. A better comparison, in my opinion, would be to look at Trad and Cal churches in similar areas started at similar times.

            4. Yes, I think Southern and Southeastern are failing to educate those Southern Baptist students attending these seminaries who are NOT Calvinistic because they so heavily saturate their guest speaker lists at conferences with the Devers, Driscolls and Mahaneys of the world.

            5. The GCR has negatively impacted state conventions now struggling to take up the slack since NAMB abandoned its earlier approaches. Firing a ton of people tends to negatively affect morale. I expected the old line states not to like it, but surprisingly the new work states have expressed concern as well. Howell Scott has documented the impact in New Mexico. Planting a ton of small churches with little in the way of ongoing support may not be such a great strategy. Some of that so-called bloated bureaucracy is actually “much needed infrastructure.”

            6. Why do I want fewer Cals as leaders of entities? Because I do not want our convention to become Presbyterian. There are a few churches in the SBC that are even now recognizing as members those whose believers baptism, in another denomination, was not by immersion but by sprinkling. I simply have no category for that. It makes no sense to me at all. I am not reformed, and I do not want to see the Southern Baptist Convention become reformed.

      • Dave Miller says

        Rick, I think the only reason the Abstract survives the adoption of the BF&M is because it predates it. Grandfather clause. And, though you dismiss that as important, I think it is the heart and soul of the issue.

        • BDW says

          Historically speaking, it might be beneficial to look at the role of the Abstract at those institutions that have embraced it from Day to 1 to Today.

          The role of the Abstract has varied, how Southern has treated the Abstract has varied, how the Abstract has been interpreted has varied.

          The Abstract was certainly interpreted differently and the practical significant of the Abstract was different in 1858 than it was in 1940 when my grandfather was a student at Southern and 1980 when my father was a student at Southern.

          The same is true now in 2013 when compared with 1940 and 1980.

        • Dave Miller says

          Okay, Let me lob in a theory. The Abstract’s teachings were largely ignored by those teaching in 1940 and 1980. My college religion profs were seminary grads who, as I understand it, were completely in line with the general teachings of the seminary.

          None of them believed much of what the Abstract says. I was ridiculed (shouted at – prof Dr. Thomas Graves had two hands on my desk, screaming in my face, “You mean you actually believe that?”) for my Calvinism (which was much stronger back then than it is now.

          Mohler’s work at SBTS was to restore a more traditional (if not completely so) understanding of and fidelity to the Abstract.

      • says

        Can’t this same demand for proportional representation be eventually used to drag down the SBC into accepting evolution or homosexual marriage?

        • Rick Patrick says


          When we say that leadership is to “represent” the people being led, we do not mean that we copy patterns of errant belief or blatant unrighteousness. Fair representation does not require either the acceptance of doctrinal error or immorality.

          Rather, we say, look at the SBC. In varying degrees, we are male and female, old and young, ethnic majority and ethnic minority, large church and small church, clergy and laity, Calvinist and Traditionalist, and hail from both established states and new work states.

          The idea that we should select trustees who can represent, in proper measure, the identity and composition of our convention, seems to me to be a very sound philosophy. There is nothing in that philosophy that promotes the kind of prurient representation you suggest.

  4. SBC Historian says


    What many (ignorantly) overlook is that SBTS and SEBTS are not the only SBC seminaries that have an additional confession of faith. NOBTS also has a confession other than the BFM2000. It is called the Articles of Religious Belief.

    • Greg Harvey says

      Dave raised the possibility of NOBTS or SWBTS instituting their own confessional statement of clarification. I noted at the time that NOBTS already had done so. I’m actually fascinated by Akin’s position supporting the AoP as Prez of SEBTS while being on record strongly claiming that SEBTS won’t be permitted by him to become a Calvinistic institution. Somewhere in his thoughts is the right ideal in my opinion.

      • SBC Historian says


        What the so-called traditionalists fail to realize, or appropriate, is that the entities they despise (SBTS and SEBTS) are doing the exact same thing that NOBTS and her traditional soteriological statement signing president, Chuck Kelley, have also been doing for years. It’s just doesn’t fit their narrative that only Calvinists require faculty to sign ‘extra’ confessions besides the BFM2000.

        And, if anyone is still interested (though this is kind of off topic), please note that my past claims of the actions, attitude, and moral bankruptcy of Joe Aguillard, president of Louisiana College, continues to be vindicated. Yesterday, multiple items were written and/or released. They should be read in the following order:

        First, read how Aguillard’s lies just cost them $55 million from one donor:

        Second, read a newpaper article that details how a law firm, by request of the Chairman of the LC Board of Trustees, performed a third-party investigation into illegal and immoral actions of Aguillard:

        Third, and finally, read the actual report released by the law firm, the same one that is used by NOBTShttp: //www.scribd.com/doc/137868302/Official-Report-Investigation-of-Louisiana-College-President-Joe-Aguillard

        Anyone who still believes Aguillard is innocent of the charge of immorality is as blind as Bartimaeus before he met Jesus. And these stories ONLY deal with financial impropriety. The report from the law firm, on page 12, specifically notes they are making no statement with respect to the accusations of inappropriate behavior with SACS. The public may, or may never, see all that has happened with his mishandling of accreditation issues.

  5. William Thornton says

    How exactly does Rick Patrick defeat himself on this, Jared? Just pointing out that this has not been practiced does not make your point. And You only presume that he is in the minority, since the question has never been put to a vote.

    You undermine your main point by this rather flaccid argument. No need to thank me.

    That said, there is no reasonable way to formalize Rick’s argument for proportionality. I take it more of an expression of disapproval of the theological direction of recent changes in SBC entity heads than a concrete proposal. It also is a statement meant to register with trustees the fact that A segment of SBCers is now keeping score on such things.

  6. says

    You said: “…A segment of SBCers is now keeping score on such things.”

    That line cracked me up. If Baptist are keeping score in the manner they count on Sunday in most churches – proportionality will be impossible! :)

    Sunday counters always crack me up!

    • William Thornton says

      We may eventually be ‘cracked up’ in another way over this. I hope not. But this is the point. A vocal and visible component of SBCers is now keeping score on what CEOs are Calvinists, which are acolytes of Al Mohler, which have connections to SBTS, etc.

      There are many ways to keep score and I’m not sure keeping score on Calvinism and Calvinists is helpful.

    • Dave Miller says

      “If Baptist are keeping score in the manner they count on Sunday in most churches – proportionality will be impossible! ”

      That’s pretty funny.

  7. Matt says

    Jared’s argument doesn’t make sense to me, but neither does the proportionate argument. As a lay person, I’m astounded at what other lay people believe, even longtime Christians. They just haven’t been discipled. They’re growing where I am, but only because we’re at a healthy church that believes in regenerate church membership and expositional preaching, something that doesn’t take place in the majority of SBC churches. I grew up in SBC churches in the south and would never the proportionate argument to determine what everyone should believe. What happens when the majority are wrong? This is God gave pastor-teachers, isn’t it?

  8. Rick Patrick says


    I read your original post once again and appreciate the way you spoke about the issue and depersonalized it by not mentioning me by name.

    Of course, I’ve written essays about this, and stand behind the concept of a convention whose leaders accurately reflect her members, but I do believe these conversations move along much better as we speak more about ideas and less about personalities.

  9. Rick Patrick says

    By the way, if anyone cares, on Sunday the Lord called me to serve the First Baptist Church of Sylacauga, Alabama, whose favorite son, Jim Nabors, is famous for playing Gomer Pyle. (Feel free to “Pyle” on with one liners about our similar intellectual capacities.)

      • Rick Patrick says

        I have been at Hueytown’s Pleasant Ridge Baptist Church a little shy of thirteen years. I will miss these precious people more than I can say, but I do sense the Lord’s leadership in the transition.

        • John Wylie says

          Awesome Rick,

          I preached view of a call at a church in Ragland, AL. I’m pretty sure that they are going to extende a call. I’ve been at my current church for 13 years and it’s going to be a difficult transition.

          • says

            Aren’t you an Oklahoma native, John? Careful who you root for in sports! Best wishes, whether you go or stay. That’s a nice area up in there above Birmingham.

          • John Wylie says

            Thanks Robert,

            Actually I’m a native Texan but I’ve been up here about 13 years. I know exactly what you mean about sports. If I were to convert to SEC it would have to be as an Aggies fan.

          • says

            I apologize to a fellow Texan for the Okie remark! (Actually I like Oklahoma a lot; the state mostly, but even the college football team). Do you have any relatives around Henderson, TX?

          • John Wylie says

            I might brother. Most of daddy’s side is from around Glen Rose and Granbury Southwest of Ft. Worth. I personally was raised in West Texas outside of a town called Tuscola. But if they spell their last name the same way I do they are kin to me some where down the line.

            Where do you pastor brother?

          • Dave Miller says

            When it comes to SEC and old Southwest Conference territory, one place is about as bad as the other!

          • Rick Patrick says


            When we answer God’s call, it is good to know you are in God’s will, but it is sheer agony to say goodbye to everybody. When you’re in Ragland, let’s meet up in Oxford or somewhere. I pray your ministry transition goes well.

    • Greg Harvey says

      Between Birmingham and Montgomery. My memory recalls that area being beautiful based on trips to each place. Looking forward to hearing more as you get there and settle in! I note with some amusement that a Longhorn in Crimson Tide/Tiger country might even be more entertaining than a Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s court!!

    • William Thornton says

      Congratulations. I travel through AL on I-20 about once a year. If you could meet me at Oxford or somewhere close, I’d love to do that.

    • John Fariss says

      Sylacauga? Friend, I was raised at the foot of Horn’s Mountain about 12 or so miles north and east of there (when you find out where Winterboro and Sycamore are, let me know). From the top of the “Dronny Hill” just down the road from my parent’s home, in winter when the trees were bare, I could see traffic lights in Sylacauga. My father graduated from Sylacauga High School back in the ’30s, and was a classmate and friend of long-time Congressman (now deceased) Bill Nichols. He was also a member of the Sylacauga Fraternal Order of Police Lodge. Notwithstanding all this, and a multitude of people I used to know there, we identified more with Talladega. And by the way, we were friends with the Nabor’s Florist family (in Talladega) who were cousins to Jim Nabors. Go-ol-lee!


  10. William Thornton says

    Since the SBC doesn’t elect any leaders, any argument on formalizing proportionality is moot unless the arduous task of replacing trustees of the individual entities is attempted. I’m not up for that and I doubt many others are, save for the usual cohort of SBC belligerents who are with us always. Rick Patrick is not among the belligerents, unless it is about college football where he is likely beyond hope.

    My guess is that the way this will be approached is through various non-binding resolutions or petitions along with, and this is the key, selective defunding by churches of certain entities considered too Calvinistic. The latter is being done here in GA.

    I have yet to see the argument that a calvinistic CEO is bad for an SBC entity. I don’t think that Rick, Eric Hankins or anyone else has established that.

  11. says

    SBC proportionality would never work for at least two reasons.

    1) As soon as any type of proportionality was adopted we’d argue endlessly over where to draw the proportional lines.

    2) That old truth that cloaks itself as a joke is not going away – whenever two Baptists get together you get three different opinions.

  12. says

    Eventually, someone would suggest that you just have to poll the churches to find the right proportional lines (if that would even work). Which will bring up the argument over do you just count each church, or do you weight each church by membership (which will bring in both the regenerate membership wrangle and the trimming out non-attenders wrangle)? For that matter, do you have each church choose which side they’re on, or have them poll their membership and ‘vote’ proportionately? Perhaps you use the same formula as for number of allowed messengers (which means you’ll have some people complaining that that might allow rich churches to ‘game’ the proportions)? And do you require proportionality in each SBC entity, or can an offset in one balance by a proportional offset in another?

    Now, I’m not someone who been a lifelong member of an SBC church, and it’s not like I’ve ever been face-to-face with SBC politics, so…..What have I missed?

  13. William Thornton says

    To Rick’s very extensive answer (8:16am today to my earlier questions:

    Thanks for the answer.

    This need its own topic but if you look closely at the problems in state conventions you will find the source for that to be 90% dropping CP giving by the churches and 10% changes in NAMB’s kickback funding. This has nothing to do with Cal/Trad stuff.

  14. Dave Miller says

    Rick, question.

    Do you think that proportionality should extend to male and female?
    Pastor and layperson?
    Other doctrinal issues?

    • Rick Patrick says

      I do think we need more females. I do think we need more laypeople. The only doctrinal issue that is killing us is this one.

  15. says

    Here is an interesting side note to this discussion.

    The same EXACT arguments were made concerning proportionality when the conservative resurgence began to take place. This discussion will be settled by future trustee appointments, just as it was in the 80’s and 90’s. Those who pay attention to that detail will win the battle. Those who do not will… well… lose the battle.

    It is what it is gentlemen.

    • Dave Miller says

      There may be truth in that, Bob, but I think it is unfortunate if we view this in CR terms. I was supportive of the CR because there was a BF&M issue, the inerrancy of scripture at stake.

      There is no such issue at stake here. We can live together and serve together without biting and devouring one another on these issues.

      I still think the CR, as many problems as it created, saved our denomination. I think a CR-style battle over current issues will hasten the end of our denomination, or at least render it impotent.

    • says


      With ALL DUE respect, careful attention to the appointment process of trustees is already well at hand. This is NOT a process being considered, it is a process already being employed. Those that fail to recognize the importance of the process, will eventually lose.

      That is a fact, Jack! I mean Dave.

    • says

      One other comment: the reference to proportional representation is what you are agreeing with in this argument with respect to the pre-CR days.

      Unfortunately, when an issue rises to the level this one has, the possibility and even the probability of a win/win outcome is not too good.

      • Greg Harvey says

        You know, Dave, we take a lot of pride in the thought that we were protecting the Convention from those who believe the Bible has errors. But if we were successful, I would argue the plan started in Heaven, not on earth. If it was just an earthly plan maybe we just sowed the seeds of our own destruction.

        That said: continued, denominational confrontation that shows up on sites like these and eventually migrates to news sources confirms the view of post-denominationalists that denominations are too fractious and political. I would offer that this is the last opportunity that we as Southern Baptists have to reaffirm our commitment to each other and to the shared responsibility that God has given us.

        I hope we don’t blow it.

        • says


          Let me ask you a question with respect to your statement: “I would offer that this is the last opportunity that we as Southern Baptists have to reaffirm our commitment to each other and to the shared responsibility that God has given us.”

          When people disagree on important theological issues and one side is determined to solidify their particular theological position with regards to another. how is it THEN possible to reaffirm our commitment to each other…

          Seems to me the key to everyone getting along is unfortunately in the eye of the beholder…

          • SBC Historian says


            You didn’t address your question to me, but I hope it’s ok if I provide an answer. You asked (my paraphrase) how two groups can get along if one wants to solidify their beliefs as opposite of another group’s beliefs. The answer is easy. Reformed folk don’t mind at all partnering with so-called traditionalists within the parameters of the BFM2000. I presume you were referring to so-called traditionalists when you talked about a group intent on forming an alternate identity, right? 😉

          • says

            Here is the real issue with my statement… one side is determined to solidify their particular theological position which describes the actions of the reformed folk to the tee… otherwise we would not be having this conversation because as it has been stated over and over and over and over… again… calvinists have been around in the SBC forever. :)

            Now that there is this concentrated effort to bring calvinism back to the forefront where is ought to be… that alone is the issue of contention that is not going to go away. People can define cooperation in a number of ways… that is why I said “getting along seems to be in the eye of the beholder”…. or who is making an effort to get along and who is not.

            Thanks for your comment.

          • SBC Historian says


            ‘One side is determined to solidify their particular theological position’ sounds a lot more like the so-called traditionalists than reformed folk. I don’t remember a psuedo-confession being proffered from Louisville or Wake Forest; instead, it rolled in from Oxford, MS.

          • says

            Remember the Trad on Soteriology was a RESPONSE.

            What is amazing is how different perspectives can be… and I KNOW I have one too… (Before someone else says it.)

          • Greg Harvey says


            Two comments in response:

            1. I realized as I read your quote of my comment that my use of the adjective “last” is very hyperbolic. I just want to acknowledge that exaggeration is not intended as serious commentary by me but as–very much–hyperbole.

            2. Similarly, I’m not trying to suggest that Calvinists are doing things as a whole in a “correct” fashion or are above a well-placed eyebrow raise or two or three. But I think we all need to inspect our hearts and see if we’re complying with John 17 myself. All the time. I’m not sure I do, but it concerns me that I should.

          • Greg Harvey says

            A butchery happened:

            “But I think we all need to inspect our hearts and see if we’re complying with John 17 myself. All the time. I’m not sure I do, but it concerns me that I should.”

            was supposed to be “with John 17 including myself”.

            Sorry for my act of butchery on my own comment.

        • Donald says

          “I would offer that this is the last opportunity that we as Southern Baptists have to reaffirm our commitment to each other and to the shared responsibility that God has given us.

          I hope we don’t blow it.”

          I hope we don’t blow it, either. This mess seesm to have been started by the YRR crowd and their “rock star” leadership. The ball is in their court.

      • Dave Miller says

        Again, I think the issue has only risen to the level it has because of recalcitrance in the extremes of both sides.

        • Greg Harvey says

          Speaking for the Calvinists only: I think our love is inadequate from time to time and our appreciation for and expression of appreciation for the Traditionalists reflects our concern that we’ll receive the short end of the stick denominationally. It ought to be instead that we pick up the suitcase and carry it as far as it takes to convince the Traditionalists that we’re in this with them to the end.

  16. William Thornton says

    Conspiracy theorists take note: I just got an email touting an event for The Gospel Project. Eric Hankins is featured.

    Proportionality at work?

    • Rick Patrick says

      Harwood will write a lesson as well. And yes, this is progress. Add about a dozen more and the Trads will equal the Cals in TGP. Then I’ll be happy, happy, happy.

      • William Thornton says

        Rick Patrick is to be commended for stating what will make him happy about The Gospel Project: a ‘dozen more trads’ or, one presumes, whatever number that make Trads and Cals equal in that curriculum.

        My suspicion is that Rick tells the truth. He will indeed be happy as an Alabama Baptist at KFC on Sunday afternoon. My experience tells me that many others will never be happy with TGP because they get more satisfaction from being unhappy and complaining.

        I scanned a quarter’s worth of TGP stuff and found it fine. Now, Trevin Wax has high profile Trads involved. This looks suspicious to me…suspiciously like an denominational servant attempting to better serve all of his constituencies. Good for him.

          • volfan007 says

            And, William, maybe we’re seeing this happen due to the “concerns” which have been expressed? Maybe that’s why we’re seeing more Non Calvinists being asked to write lessons? Maybe?

            Anyway, that’s a good step in the right direction……


          • William Thornton says

            I have no doubt, David, that this response is partly because of the criticism of TGP. One would think that it would be pleasing to Trads that denominational employees are responsive to the concerns of SBCers.

    • Bill Mac says

      I wonder why one of the leaders of a movement that believes TGP is a Calvinist takeover tool would agree to participate in that very tool.

      • Greg Harvey says

        I’m excited that Rick thinks this is an improvement. Thanks to all involved for taking this in a direction that is exciting to Rick (among others).

      • Donald says

        “I wonder why one of the leaders of a movement that believes TGP is a Calvinist takeover tool would agree to participate in that very tool.”

        It has always been the desire of the TGP critics to reform the project, not to get rid of it.

        • Bill Mac says

          Donald: Fair enough, but there is a subtle difference. The criticism has not just been that TGP has too many reformed leaning contributors. If that were so, then your comment would be spot on. But the criticism of TGP has gone far beyond that. The folks behind TGP have been accused of deliberately creating TGP as an attempt to subtly indoctrinate people into Calvinism.

          Was it true? Did Lifeway switch gears after their plot was discovered? Lifeway maintained all along that was not their intent. Could it be that they were telling the truth?

          • Greg Harvey says

            There was also a rejection of non-Baptist voices underlying some of the broader complaints. I hope the future contributions continue to emphasize continuity with other believers consistent with the BF&M. Though I personally see no problem whatsoever with discussing Baptist-specific viewpoints on the Gospel.

            For example: John’s baptism seems very likely to be by immersion. Emphasizing participation in baptism as an initial act of obedience and identification with Jesus Christ–who was baptized by a God-identified and confirmed prophet–is why we view the “ritual” as having no essentially mystical content and therefore being “merely” an ordinance. We emphasize immersion as a rejection of non-biblical tradition of other methods particularly in light of the seemingly obvious symbolism of death, burial, and raising from the dead we associate with immersion.

            Now that isn’t to say we can’t rely heavily on Baptists in exploring the “meta-narrative”(s) of the Gospel. But ours is an ancient faith and in all honesty Baptists as a sect–especially the two major strands we recognize as part of the history of the SBC–find their clear origin in history in the 17th century from an English-speaking perspective. The appeal to the Anabaptists Dr. Estep used to hammer in his classes doesn’t really take us before the Reformation. And Landmarkist speculation on a remnant and our ties to it are great spiritual imagination–and might very well be true–but historical support (at least from my memory) is poor.

            That implies there is at least a 1500-year gap where depending on non-explicitly baptistic voices to some extent provides a sense of both connectedness and seriousness to such an effort. Though, admittedly, there is a relative dearth of materials for portions of that time that were–shall we say–in need of the benefits of at least Luther’s Theses.

            And while I prefer as complete a focus as possible on the Bible itself, part of the story is that God renews his fellowship anew with each generation of people through the results of Great Commission efforts. It is the central theme of the near-term promise that enlivened the CR: the Bible is the revelation of a living God who has provided a document that never wears out in its clear insights on the relationship between God and creation: especially with humans.

            If we tell that story clearly and with evidence of how God’s love created the ability in us to love others as he first loved us, then we also have a living, personal testimony to connect to the meta-narrative that is compelling not just on the basis of our words but also on the undeniable, ungameable testimony of our character as individuals and people.

            But we should be prepared to acknowledge our shortcomings since we cannot hide them: sin isn’t gone in this life, we’re susceptible to temptation, pride is one of the common evidences that the work of the Holy Spirit to conform us to the image of Christ Jesus is currently incomplete.

            Not to particularly take issue with the YRR comment that got an amen, but I’ve never spoken to a single unbeliever who raised as an issue whether a “Calvinistic” or “Traditionalistic” perspective on how salvation occurs is a better representation of what the Bible says. Hence why I think we generally should avoid it in a primarily evangelistic setting like–oh say–Sunday School.

          • Christiane says

            that was an interesting comment, GREG

            Baptism has been commented on by the Early Church Fathers, and some report of it is also in the Didache

            St. Ambrose (c. 340 – 397 A.D.) wrote about baptism, this:

            “See where you are baptized, see where Baptism comes from,
            if not from the cross of Christ, from His death.
            There is the whole mystery:
            He died for you.
            In Him you are redeemed, in Him you are saved “ (St. Ambrose)

          • Donald says

            “The criticism has not just been that TGP has too many reformed leaning contributors. If that were so, then your comment would be spot on. But the criticism of TGP has gone far beyond that. The folks behind TGP have been accused of deliberately creating TGP as an attempt to subtly indoctrinate people into Calvinism.”

            I guess that I have not caught that subtle difference. What I have seen and heard is the complaint that TGP is so loaded with Calvinist that it will be impossible not to “subtly indoctrinate people into Calvinism”, this seems to be a very natural conclusion. I would not expect a Molinist to subtly lead people into a more Hubmaierian theology, rather his students would tend to become Molinist.

            Personally,I hope that TGP becomes more palatable, as the rest of the SS offerings from Lifeway are pretty bad.

  17. Dave Miller says

    I am completely lost as to the problems with threading here. It seems to happen most on comments (mine at least) that come in from cell phones.

    But I tried to turn off threading and it went retroactive, which made past comment streams nonsensical.

    If someone has a suggestion.

    • says

      the comment threads always turn radioactive…

      Wait, you said retroactive. Sorry.

      No clue, unless we want to switch to the Disqus platform or otherwise. Might check with The Big Cheese over that idea.

  18. Jim Shaver says

    It would seem to me that if there were a Calvinist conspiracy to take over the convention that us long time Calvinists would have heard of it.

    I’ve been a visible and vocal Calvinist for almost 20 years the the only correspondence I ever get about Calvinism is from my good friend who hosts the annual Midwest Founders Conference in his church. The few times I have actually attended we have never discussed convention takeover plans nor have we done anything other than have good fellowship and worship time. My friends who attend would have surely told me if I missed some “important” discussion on “how to take over the convention.”

    Perhaps all of this is much ado about nothing – or perhaps I’m wrong and in other regions of the country it is a bigger issue.

    If I didn’t read SBC VOICES I wouldn’t know there is a Calvinism Issue in the SBC! Just Sayin’