Are Calvinists being told by some bloggers that they will only be accepted in the SBC if they agree to live as second-class citizens? Bill MacKinnon, one of our regular commenters here at SBC Voices makes that point in the post he sent me a while back. He admits to being a little sarcastic in some of what he says, but he raises some really good questions.
The SBC simply must come to peace with the Calvinism issue. Calvinists are not going away, and neither are those who do not agree with Calvinism. There are certainly Calvinists who have been overly aggressive in advancing their theology. There are also some anti-Calvinist voices out there that seem committed to driving Calvinism from our Convention, or at least to define those who embrace the term Reformed as not really Baptist. One blogger publishes a constant stream of venomous anti-Calvinist screeds that would lead someone like Bill to believe the things he advances here.
So, here is Bill’s article. Read it and then tell us what you think. Can Calvinism and non-Calvinism live together happily in the SBC? Is Bill right?
Acceptable Calvinism (by Bill MacKinnon)
Well, it has finally happened. Calvinists in the SBC are finally being told to hit the road. We have felt our unwelcome for some time now but until recently no one has had the courage to simply tell us to go. I considered posting links, but let’s face it, you know where to go to find your favorite anti-Calvinist commentary.
Now of course the folks I (and you) have in mind will object, claiming that they never said that they wanted all Calvinists to leave the SBC. They will no doubt claim that they work fine with Calvinists and are even friends with some of them. Technically, I have to admit, this is true. I have not truly seen any universal calls for the exit of all Calvinists from the SBC. There are, it seems, some Calvinists who are welcome to remain. It does not take long to find out which Calvinists those are, but I thought I would do the heavy lifting, and compile all the necessary attributes of “acceptable Calvinists.”
Acceptable Calvinists do not hide their Calvinism when they are looking for a ministry position, but if and when they do find a ministry position, they must hide their Calvinism thereafter. They must by no means try to persuade anyone else of their theological position. They must not, under any circumstances, become associated with the Founders organization. They must never refer to themselves as Reformed. Reformed Baptists have been told to take a hike from the SBC.
Acceptable Calvinists should be at most, 4 pointers. Now some may argue that 4 pointers are not Calvinists at all in the truest sense of the word, but that is not a debatable point. They must not hold to limited atonement, nor should they believe that regeneration precedes faith. If anyone ever refers to you as a Dortian Calvinist, you have most certainly not been complimented, and have strayed out of the “acceptable” zone.
Acceptable Calvinists must not use the term elder, but rather the BFM approved term of pastor. They must not seek to introduce a plurality of elders into any congregation in which they serve. If they feel strongly about this, they must become Presbyterians.
Acceptable Calvinists must not abandon the altar call, nor may they call into question its effectiveness or biblical-ness. They must never disparage Charles Finney. Everyone knows that Calvinists in the main are not evangelistic, so acceptable Calvinists must work doubly hard to prove that they are soul winners. Acceptable Calvinists must also not abandon the Sinner’s Prayer, nor terminology such as “ask Jesus into your heart to be your personal Savior.”
Everyone knows that Calvinists have a tendency also to be moderationists, but acceptable Calvinists are never moderationists. Acceptable Calvinists should never enthusiastically promote their soteriology, lest they be called “aggressive”. But they may, and should, aggressively promote abstentionism.
Acceptable Calvinists must be very careful about who they listen to. Patterson? Fine. Piper, maybe. Driscoll? Absolutely not. They must never speak positively about Acts 29. They must not attend Calvinistic conferences and it would be best if they did not associate with other Calvinists at all.
Acceptable Calvinists must realize that they are a tiny minority in SBC life and must never aspire to anything more than that. They must never repeat the insidious rumor that Calvinism was once much more widespread in the SBC.
Finally, acceptable Calvinists must acknowledge that while they will be allowed to remain in the SBC, they are not truly Baptists. Baptists, we are given to understand, are not Calvinists, because Calvinism is a man-made theology and Baptist-ism is straight from the bible. Baptists are biblicists; Calvinists are not. Baptists, are disciples of Christ; Calvinists are disciples of Calvin.
Epilogue: While I have listed these things in a somewhat lighthearted (and admittedly marginally sarcastic) way, I do not believe I have taken liberties with the underlying truth of these sentiments, as I have seen them in the anti-Calvinist, anti-Reformed wings of the SBC blogosphere. The question is: What do you think?
Is Bill right? Are Calvinists being told that they will only be accepted in the SBC if they agree to live in steerage and remain in the background?
Now, it’s your turn.