A group of Southern Baptists has issued a statement pushing back against the prominent strain of Calvinism in the denomination:

Every generation of Southern Baptists has the duty to articulate the truths of its faith with particular attention to the issues that are impacting contemporary mission and ministry. 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.

Albert Mohler, who identifies with the more Calvinist Southern Baptists, responds:
I could not sign the document. Indeed, I have very serious reservations and concerns about some of its assertions and denials. I fully understand the intention of the drafters to oppose several Calvinist renderings of doctrine, but some of the language employed in the statement goes far beyond this intention. Some portions of the statement actually go beyond Arminianism and appear to affirm semi-Pelagian understandings of sin, human nature, and the human will — understandings that virtually all Southern Baptists have denied. Clearly, some Southern Baptists do not want to identify as either Calvinists, non-Calvinists, or Arminians. That is fine by me, but these theological issues have been debated by evangelicals for centuries now, and those labels stick for a reason.

And Justin Taylor points us to an  Arminian response  by Roger E. Olson (who is not, it should be noted, a Southern Baptist). The notable civility of the discussion so far—-a civility which is not inconsistent with firmness in defending and debating the truth—-suggests that unity in service of the gospel will prevail over discord. All of us concerned for biblical truth can learn from the example of our Southern Baptist brothers.

Articles by Matthew Schmitz

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