Saturday, December 22, 2007

I Have a Bit of a Problem With That

In a Christian Post article on Calvinism in the Southern Baptist Convention, Audrey Barrick points out that a LifeWay Research study indicates Baptists are becoming increasingly TULIP oriented. Being a Southern Baptist and one who affirms the five points of the Doctrines of Grace, I'm happy to have the company.

I'm also happy to see the Convention's amicable view toward those of us who agree with the soteriology of one of the greatest Baptist preachers and evangelists of history, Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

But I must respectfully disagree with a comment from Convention President Frank Page quoted in a paragraph of the article:

Promoting former SBC president Paige Patterson's practical suggestion, Page said, "When pastor search committees approach pastors and seminary graduates about possible positions, they need to be very honest with these individuals about what they will allow regarding teaching in this area."

Pastor Page said as much here. It is certainly important for a pastor search committee to determine the doctrinal position of prospective occupants of the pulpit. And questions on the Calvinism/Arminianism issue are appropriate, whichever view the particular church hiring the pastor takes (my guess is that most Southern Baptist churches don't take a particular view one way or the other. Unfortunately, most Southern Baptist pastor search committees probably also don't ask many questions about a potential pastor's doctrine, in this area or others).

It's that part about "what they will allow regarding teaching in this area" that I have a problem with. It's not the job of the search committee to "allow" teaching that is part of a family debate within the bounds of orthodox Christian belief. If they hire (or recommend) a pastor who has answered their interview questions honestly and forthrightly, then they must accept what he chooses to preach and teach concerning Calvinism/Arminianism, and in other areas (such as eschatology), as long as he is not teaching heresy or error and as long as he has not, since being hired, changed his position on a view particularly important to the church. You don't get to say, "We're going to hire you even though you're a Calvinist, but you can't preach Calvinism." What, does he take a month off when you get to John chapter 6 or Romans 9, etc, etc?

But I'm glad Pastor Page is open for dialogue on the issue.

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