My first writings here on SBC Voices was a matched pair of articles on Calvinists in the SBC: What I like about Calvinists and Why I’m wary of Calvinists. Those were in the summer of 2011 and, as I recall, each had hundreds of comments.
What made me wary then was (1) Calvinists can be, well, rather arrogant, (2) I’ve been around too many churches that have been wrecked by Calvinists, (3) Calvinists have been known to be less than forthcoming with search committees. It looks to me like Calvinists, having grown considerably in stature, acceptance, and influence in the SBC, have moved from being known in part for wrecking churches to wrecking the Convention as a whole. Lest I be accused of theological partisanship in this, up until the Great Traditionalist Implosion of last year, the Militant Trads had a declared goal of winning elections and turning the convention around. I’d call that wrecking as well.
Almost forty years ago, Ernest Reisenger was invited to my seminary, Mid-American Baptist Theological Seminary in sultry Memphis, Tennessee, where he presented each student with a copy of the reprint of James Petigru Boyce’s Abstract of Systematic Theology (I think I sold my copy on Amazon years ago). SBC Calvinism may have been around from the start but didn’t have a lot of influence back then. In part due to the Founders organization, that changed.
Now, some prominent SBC leaders have distanced themselves from the Founders organization. This week three of their board members resigned. Here is a line from Tom Ascol concerning the resignations: Our conversations [with the three] led to an impasse regarding the nature of sin, unintentional sin, unwise acts and what faithfulness to Christ requires in the wake of each.
Why is it that these theological/political sub-groups gain acceptance, influence, and power in the SBC but then squander it with foolish words and decisions? Is it in the tribal DNA? Do leaders lose touch with reality? I don’t know.
I wasn’t interested in another denominational election war in January of 2018 when the SBC Trads were calling for one. I’m not interested in one now that involves the Rabid Calvinists. While some speculate that the Founder’s leader will be nominated for SBC president next year, I’m not seeing a snowball’s chance in Gehenna of the election of anyone associated with the recent Founder’s debacle.
No one could have scripted this stuff. The worst enemies of the militant Trads couldn’t have engineered the Trad implosion, nor could the most rabid anti-Cal have planned and executed the present scenario.
Does it need to be said that both the militant Trads and the rabid Cals were going to save the convention?
Since I wrote the two Cal pieces in 2011 half of our seminaries have new leadership, as do both mission boards, LifeWay, and ERLC. The current SBC president is the first of a younger generation. Many of the larger state conventions have new leadership who are making positive moves. The IMB has increasing numbers of candidates for overseas service in their appointment pipeline. NAMB has considerable numbers of planters and potential church planters enthused about their work. The mission offerings are very strong, save for the Cooperative Program.
Let’s not mess it up.