Sunday, June 10, 2012


SBC Convention time is near, and there is high drama afoot. Last year must have been too quiet because this year the excitement is already building as a group of non-Calvinists have decided to draft a Statement called "A Statement of the Traditional Southern Baptist Understanding of God's Plan of Salvation." According to those who crafted the piece, "The Traditional Southern Baptist Understanding" is, you guessed it, non-Calvinistic. And they want you to know it. So they wrote a Statement. And many people signed that Statement, and lots of people blogged about that Statement. And lots more people commented on those blogs about that Statement. And so I feel it is fitting about the Statement.

In the Preamble, those who put forth the Statement tell us why it is so important they put forth this Statement right NOW and also get people to sign it. It is because, they say:

The precipitating issue for this statement is the rise of a movement called “New Calvinism” among Southern Baptists. This movement is committed to advancing in the churches an exclusively Calvinistic understanding of salvation, characterized by an aggressive insistence on the “Doctrines of Grace” (“TULIP”), and to the goal of making Calvinism the central Southern Baptist position on God’s plan of salvation.
Cue Aunt Pittypat (I'm not sure if she has signed the Statement yet):

I don't know who these New Calvinists are who want to take over the convention, but if I ever meet one of these legendary (I would say "mythical" but I suppose it is within the realm of possibility that there are a couple or so of them out there) folk I think I'd say something like this: "Dude. You're like, way outnumbered in the SBC, so if you feel the need for Calvinism to be the central position, why not just join the Reformed Baptist denomination where Calvinism is the  central position, and leave the SBC to remain a fascinating mix of Calvinists, Arminians, non-Calvinists (I think they are calling themselves 'Traditionalists' now), and people (probably the majority) who don't know what they are, or don't want to be labeled.?" Then maybe the need for this Statement wouldn't be so urgent. Right now. Right before the Convention.

The Preamble also charges Calvinism with "certain unacceptable conclusions" (Surprise! Non-Calvinists think Calvinism has unacceptable conclusions! Who'da thunk?) and also somewhat patronizingly admonishes Calvinists to be humble and circumspect about the "weaknesses" in their system. The Preamble also appears to indicate these non-Calvinists are designating themselves with the moniker of "Traditionalists". I don't necessarily agree the description is accurate, but previously the designation of "Biblicists" was floated, implying Calvinists weren't Biblicists. So at least they seem to have dropped that idea, and "Traditionalists" may just have to do.

The Statement consists of a series of ten articles, in the format of affirmations and denials. Some of the material Calvinists would agree with, some of it is standard Arminian or non-Calvinistic fare, but there are some parts of the Statement which are problematic.

And those parts are cause for concern.


John said...

Mike are you a Calvinist? I think
you know the difference between
Calvinism, Arminianism, & Biblicism. The primary difference
between a Calvinist & a Biblicist
is that the Biblicist does not
agree with ANY PART of TULIP!
Concerning Arminianism, the
Biblicist does not agree that a person that is indwelt by the Holy
Spirit can loose that relationship.
You cannot loose your salvation.
The teachings of Biblicism have
existed before Calvinism & Arminianism ever came into being.
I do not know where the name
Traditionalist came from. It does
not matter. As long as we remember
that a Biblicist is NOT an
Arminianist or a Calvinist.
I have been a Christian for 50 years, & a Biblicist for 40 years.
God bless Brother,
John H. Gregory
God bless brother,
John H. Gregory

mike said...

Greetings, John. Sorry it took me so long to moderate your comment. Obviously, I'm not used to getting lots of comments on the blog, but thanks for reading. As for the term "Traditionalist", I think it was the term adopted by the folks that put together the Traditionalist Statement mentioned in this post.

As for the term "Biblicist", I'm sure that Calvinists, Arminians, and Traditionalists all consider themselves Biblicists, which is precisely why I think the term Traditionalist might work better if the point is to distinguish one's soteriology from Calvinism or Arminianism. Of course, I'm sure folks in all three categories also feel theirs is the "traditional" viewpoint, but if I'm understanding some of the posts over at the SBC Today blog correctly, the Traditionalists seem to be recognizing a heritage from the Anabaptist tradition (albeit with some key differences as well).

Anyway, thanks for your comments and thanks for reading.