Here’s another submission from our friend William Thornton, the SBC Plodder. Somehow, I’m guessing this one could be a little lively.
I’m of the opinion that the internet was made for Calvinists, since there seems to be so many of them who love endless discussions. I’ve been interacting with my Calvinistic brethren/sistren online for almost twenty years, going back to the SBC’s old SBCNet Forum in the 1990s. I do like some things about them:
Almost all of the calvinists I know are serious about their beliefs.
An old prof said to our class years ago, “All you have is what you believe. Figure it out and stand behind it.” OK, so calivinists think they have figured it all out, but I don’t fault them for being studious and serious about Christian doctrine. After all it really doesn’t matter what music we use in churches, what the buildings are like, or even what programs we employ if we’re not serious Christians preaching and teaching the body of belief once for all delivered to the saints.
While most SBC clergy I have known would quickly subscribe to the Baptist Faith and Message Statement, am I far from the mark to speculate that practical theology is the only theology they are deeply familiar with.
Calvinists are willing to address egregious church practices.
One example: The SBC’s Annual Church Profile collects data on the numbers of baptisms of kids under five years of age and there are hundreds, thousands of little kiddies age 4, perhaps younger, baptized. I’ve yet to meet the four-year-old who has sufficient comprehension, who can manage abstract thinking to the degree necessary to place their faith in Christ. Calvinists would address this even if it meant incurring the ire or mom, dad, and granny over a refusal to baptize their exceptionally spiritual three year old.
Calvinists recognize a problem with manipulative evangelism and practices whose main purpose is to generate statistics rather than accomplish God’s will.
I once examined baptism statistics for a state and learned that in one year, half of the baptisms reported were rebaptisms – folks who had already been immersed or sprinkled. Many pastors would be surprised at the numbers of their members who were immersed at 7, 8, or 11 years of age and then again at 20 or 24.
Something has to be amiss here and calvinists I believe would both recognize and address it. We all know evangelists whose main thrust is to get church members lost, then saved, then baptized all over again.
We all know pastors who can generate enough baptisms to lead the association or state convention but who show no church growth as a result. I surmise that my wonderful calvinist pastor colleagues would not participate in such charades.
OK, so I’m having trouble after three. What else might be something good to say about calvinists?