Getting into politics is like inviting the whole world to clean your closet, or at least rummage around a bit. For better or worse, this holds true for Southern Baptist politics.
In January they announced R. Albert Mohler Jr. would be nominated for Southern Baptist Convention President at the Annual Southern Baptist Meeting this June in Indianapolis, Indiana. (We need to shorten all those names!)
The Anti-Mohlers wasted little time. Within a week, many questions were raised about his character, theology and leadership abilities. Most of this was excepted. What surprised me was the Louisville newspaper’s sudden interest in soteriology.
Of course, this is old news. Mohler has been answering these concerns about his theology for years. That is the point of this post, to show you one example.
Read this quote from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary’s Response to the Baptist General Convention of Texas Seminary Study Committee Report by Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr., President – October 24, 2000.
6. The BGCT report falsely accuses Southern Seminary and President R. Albert Mohler, Jr. of forcing a Calvinist theological agenda upon the institution.
All Southern Baptists are Calvinists of one sort or another. Anyone who believes in the perseverance of the saints or the security of the believer has Calvinist elements in his or her theology. Those who established the SBC were Calvinists, as were early leaders of the BGCT. Southern Seminary’s Abstract of Principles reflects that Calvinist influence, as does the Baptist Faith and Message (and the New Hampshire Confession of Faith, on which it is based).
In the modern era, as in the founding generation, Southern Baptists have included those who were more Calvinistic, and those who were less Calvinistic. Nevertheless, strong Calvinist elements have been present in the Southern Baptist mainstream throughout our history.
The Abstract of Principles requires all professors to believe in total depravity, unconditional election, and perseverance. The Seminary does not require professors to hold a specific view of the extent of the atonement or effectual calling. Southern Seminary’s faculty hold differing positions on these questions, as do Southern Baptists at large.
The President is not forcing a Calvinist agenda other than faithful adherence to the Abstract of Principles. The BGCT report claims that “Calvinism influence is enormous with students being mentored in this narrow theological persuasion.” The committee reached this assessment, apparently without a single interview with a student.
If Calvinism is not to be tolerated by BGCT leadership, then they should make clear their own theological convictions in a responsible manner. Further, they must apologize to BGCT titans such as B. H. Carroll and J. B. Gambrell, who were clear about their own Calvinist convictions.
In a letter printed in the October 23, 2000 edition of the Baptist Standard, the chairman of the BGCT committee, Bob Campbell of Houston, stated: “The Calvinism issue continues and is more prominent at Southern than ever. Baptist Press recently (Oct. 11) announced the hiring of a Presbyterian professor.” This is another evidence of the superficial and farcical approach of the BGCT committee. Baptist Press did indeed announce that SBTS trustees had approved a Presbyterian professor to teach for a limited assignment. Had Mr. Campbell asked for information, he would have discovered that the Presbyterian professor was approved to teach a specialized course in church music—hardly an example of a Calvinist infusion into the Seminary. Men who expect to be taken seriously must act seriously. This is an example of the “research” on which the BGCT report is based.
It’s never dull to see history repeating itself. I expect to read many blog posts sizing up the Mohler nomination over the next few months.
After all, politics is the American pastime.