Sorry, I forgot to credit Greg Davidson with this post. I deleted all the comments, which mostly seemed to be chastising GREG for my mistake. Now, feel free to start commenting on the post.
I, like many, appreciate the loving Christ-like, Spirit-filled attitude of most in our Southern Baptist Convention. Most of us are committed to keeping the main thing the main thing. Yet, there are two small groups that have emerged in the SBC who are polarizing in their attitudes; and distracting some from their main mission.
There is a small group on one side that I would refer to as out-of-balance Calvinists. Now I want to be clear, I have had many friends and professors who were Calvinists; furthermore, there was great unity of spirit between us, for, while we disagreed on some finer points of theology, our focus was on the main things: passionate worship, fruitful evangelism, missions, discipleship, community, revival, and agreement on the great fundamentals of the faith. We all united under the blood-stained banner of the Cross to take back our convention from the liberals, and take the gospel to the nations.
Strangely there is a new group of Calvinists that actually believe that the more points of TULIP you adhere to, the more spiritual you are. Furthermore, this group is committed to placing their fellow 5 pointers in leadership to maintain the “highest spirituality and doctrinal purity”, and deliberately exclude shallow “non-Calvinists.”
On the other side of the spectrum, you have a small group of non-Calvinists who believe many of the ills of the convention can be placed on the shoulders of those who believe Calvinist theology. They are suspicious, believing anyone who is a Calvinist has a high possibility of destroying evangelism and eliminating non-Calvinists from leadership opportunities. They have concluded that the only way to counter this threat is to eliminate all Calvinists from leadership.
Then there are most of us in the middle who watch these out of balance individuals on both sides attack the effectiveness and the character of godly men and woman based on their shallow perspective.
For those of us who have maintained a godly balance, our main concern is not how many points of Tulip does a person believe or disbelieve, but rather does this individual love Jesus, are they reaching the lost, are they discipling, are they mobilizing people to pray, do they believe and preach the great fundamentals of the faith and great theology, are they investing in Great Commission missions, are they godly people, and are they standing strong for the poor and the abused.
Most of us are not impressed when we meet someone, and they almost immediately inform us “I am Reformed.” We are equally unimpressed by those we meet who toss out, early, in their encounters with us, “You can be sure I am not one of those Calvinists.”
Most of us have the depth of spiritually to focus on the aforementioned main purposes of Great Commission Christians. I want to encourage all of us to call our beloved SBC to join in following the passionate urging of Jesus, “By this shall all men know that you are my disciples if you love one another,” and to continue afresh and anew not to be distracted by polarizing groups, but to keep love for our Lord and the Great Commission at the front and center of our vision and mission.
Greg Davidson is pastor of Trinity Baptist Church of Vacaville, California.