I’m not shutting these posts down or anything, but the discussion seems to be winding down to the “gnawing on the bones” phase, so let me do a little post-mortem observation. This is, of course, my opinion, which I hardly need to say you are free to disagree with.
1) The thirst for discussions of Calvinism is almost unquenchable. If you look at the statistics here the last 48 hours, you will see that. I try not to write things just to “stir things up” but if I was going to do that, I’d either write about alcohol or about Calvinism.
2) I remain convinced that the Calvinism issue is the biggest that the SBC faces right now. There are four outcomes and three of them will not be good for the future of the SBC. First, “aggressive and obsessed” Calvinists can prevail and take over the entities of the SBC, in which case the denomination will dwindle and not be able to sustain our current missions effort. Second, “aggressive and obsessed” non-Calvinists could succeed and drive the Calvinists out of the convention. That will also cause the SBC to be unable to maintain it commitments in missions and would be bad for the SBC. Third, we might continue under one umbrella, but see a continuation of the antipathy that seems to exist and the SBC will continue a numerical slide. Not a good thing.
There is one more option. We can learn to work together, accept one another as fellow-laborers in Christ who have some disagreements and adopt what Dr. Steve Lemke called the “in-Christ” option. This is, in my mind, the only option that provides a hope for the future of the SBC as a vibrant, missions-oriented denomination.
We can talk about the GCR, or BI, or being missional, or strategies, or programs, or leadership. But unless Calvinists and non-Calvinists find a way to walk together, all of that is going to be meaningless. We may not have to worry about renaming the denomination. We will have to figure out have to divide our entities and how to name two or three different denominations.
3) Much of the discussion here gives me the impression that, at this current time, the first three options are way more likely than the fourth option. We condemn on the other side what we defend in ourselves. We paint the other side as the enemy. While there have been some good articles written in this series and some wonderful comments made, there has also been plenty of the vituperation and vitriol that has so marked Baptist debate over Calvinism.
I’m not hopeful at this point that we can learn to walk together in unity, joy and partnership. We can do it, but we must all drop our suspicions and caricatures and fleshly resentments and walk in brotherly love.
Seriously, call this sentimentality, but I would encourage you also to simply read your NT and see the emphasis on the importance of unity within the Body of Christ (those who are redeemed from sin by the Blood of Christ). I do not think that our sniping, our nit-picking, our caricaturing or our derogation honors the Savior who died to redeem us.
Either we have to do better or a pox on all our houses!
4) One thing I have learned clearly in this discussion. This whole thing is “THEIR” fault. Who “they” are depends on which side you are on. But whichever side you are on, you are likely convinced that the problem is “THEM.” Again, the only solution to this is for each of us to check our attitudes, spirits, words and behaviors to see that we are walking in righteous paths regardless of what others do.
5) One interesting thing to me is that these discussions seldom focus on scriptures but on perceived injuries and offenses. There seems to be a lot of bitterness related to the rise of Calvinism in the SBC in the last 20 to 30 years.
Calvinism as a point of debate is here to stay. It’s been that way for hundreds of years. The only question left to us is whether this point of debate is going to become a point of division and signal the end of the SBC as we know it.
Overdramatic? Time will tell. But I am convinced that when and if the SBC fails, the spiritual autopsy will reveal that divisive attitudes about Calvinism, pro and con, was the fatal disease that was at the root of our illness.