The Soft-Petal SBC Calvinists

The CT article on Calvinism in the Southern Baptist Convention is now online.

My favorite quotation was "We're not the kind [of Calvinists] who are off in a Grand Rapids [read: ethnic Dutch] ghetto crossing our t's and dotting our i's and telling the world to get their act together. We're in the New Orleans slums with groups like Desire Street Ministries, raising up black elders through Reformed theology from 9-year-old boys who had no chance." (Although, I was under the impression that Desire Street was actually a PCA mission.)

But notice that the predominant attitude among these SBC Calvinists is that as it concerns spiritual life, gospel truth is "best," but optional. This comes across in Mohler's panel discussion with Patterson at the SBC pastor's conference this year. The gospel will only shake things up in the SBC when it is understood that it should divide churches. Perhaps some of these SBC Calvinists will embrace the perspective of Spurgeon who famously said,
"And what is the heresy of Arminianism but the addition of something to the work of the Redeemer?... [T]here is no such thing as preaching Christ and Him crucified, unless we preach what nowadays is called Calvinism. It is a nickname to call it Calvinism; Calvinism is the gospel, and nothing else. I do not believe we can preach the gospel, if we do not preach justification by faith, without works; nor unless we preach the sovereignty of God in His dispens[ing] grace; nor unless we exalt the electing, unchangeable, eternal, immutable, conquering love of Jehovah; nor do I think we can preach the gospel, unless we base it upon the special and particular redemption [ie, "limited" or definite atonement] of His elect and chosen people which Christ wrought out upon the cross..."
The gospel cannot be optional. Biblical grace is not a secondary, inessential teaching only for the mature. It is the foundation. And there is not a true church apart from the profession of this gospel.

The research department of LifeWay, the "products and services" provider of the SBC and publishers of the Holman Christian Standard Bible, has conducted a survey of SBC pastors and found that about 10% consider themselves Calvinist, with (surprisingly) no present correlation to age of the pastor. With about 42,000 congregations and 10,000 missionaries, a conservative estimate would equal about 5,200 self-identifying SBC Calvinist pastors. Of course, the percentage and correlation with new (younger) pastors may be growing. A similar survey in a decade would be enlightening.

On another note, I suspect that some SBC'ers and other "Evangelicals" have been attracted to the Reformed faith, not only by its explicit teaching and meaning for church life, but also by its implications for worldview and approach to culture. Reformational Baptist David Naugle is the "Piper" or "Mohler" (ie, main promoter) of neocalvinism in Baptist and Evangelical circles. Read his pdf Intro to Reformational Worldview.

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