Beware of Stealth Calvinism!

September 30, 2014

by Roger E. Olson

Beware of Stealth Calvinism!

Several times here I have expressed concern that some Calvinists are attempting to take over churches by stealth. I frequently hear from church members (mostly Baptists but occasionally also Pentecostals and other evangelicals) that their new pastor turned out to be a five point Calvinist without their knowing that when he was called. They only contact me about this when the new pastor attempts to impose Calvinism on the congregation—for example by insisting that all deacons and elders be Calvinists, etc. Numerous reports of this have arisen from especially Southern Baptist congregations that traditionally allowed leaders to be either Calvinist or non-Calvinist.

Now I am beginning to hear reports of denominations that have traditionally included both Calvinists and non-Calvinists subtly attempting to impose Calvinism by means of new statements of faith or amendments to old statements of faith. Usually this happens under the guise of attempting to rule out open theism. Here is the most recent example: A pastor has reported to me that his district of an evangelical denomination (which I know very well) has amended its statement of faith. Under the guise of attempting to exclude open theists the denomination has asked its member churches to affirm the following:

We believe God’s knowledge is exhaustive; that He fully knows the past, present, and future independent of human decisions and actions. The Father does everything in accordance with His perfect will, though His sovereignty neither eliminates nor minimizes our personal responsibility.

I can’t help but note that “independent” should be “independently.” (What is happening to adverbs in American English? They are disappearing.) However, my main objection is that no Arminian should sign such a statement and any church that adopts it is automatically affirming Calvinism—whether they know it or not. Only a Calvinist (or someone who believes in the Calvinist view of God’s sovereignty) can say that God’s knowledge is independent of human decisions and actions. Even a Molinist cannot say that and mean it.

I suspect many people in that denomination will affirm this statement without any awareness of its Calvinist nature or that it excludes Arminianism. Any church that adopts this statement is adopting Calvinism whether it knows it or not. The only way God’s knowledge can be independent of human decisions and actions is if God foreordains them and renders them certain. (Just to head off objections from Lutherans—Yes, some Lutherans believe in that same view of God’s sovereignty, but among evangelicals especially this is especially associated with Calvinism.)

So what do I think is going on in this case? I don’t know, but it certainly appears to me that whoever wrote that statement knew what they were doing. If not, they shouldn’t be writing statements of faith for a denomination and its churches. (No, I’m not going to name the denomination. I have no desire to get into a wrangle with them over this or anything else. Hopefully, however, they will hear of my objections and change their statement of faith. If they don’t, they are automatically excommunicating all their Arminians—a significant portion of their pastors and members—whether intentionally or not insofar as this statement of faith becomes an instrument of doctrinal accountability. And if it’s not intended as an instrument of doctrinal accountability, why write it and ask churches to affirm it? It will eventually become an instrument of doctrinal accountability even if its initial intention is not such.)

This appears to me to be another case, on a grander scale, of stealth Calvinism. I have been warning fellow Arminians for a long time that the Calvinist attacks on open theism will come around to haunt us. I knew that because all the evangelical books attacking open theism include arguments that, if valid, would also rule out Arminianism (e.g., that the open theist God cannot guarantee such-and-such in history because he allegedly lacks the knowledge necessary for that).

This statement (above in italics) is probably being promoted as a guard against open theism, but it’s much, much more than that. If adopted by my church I would have to give up my membership—not because I’m an open theist (I’m not) but because whether intentionally or not it excludes classical Arminianism. It makes any church that adopts it automatically, de facto, Calvinist.
Arminians—beware! This tactic is continuing among evangelicals. Privileging Calvinism is already the case in many evangelical organizations that have always included both Calvinists and Arminians. That is one thing that caused me to begin raising my voice about Calvinism and Arminianism twenty-plus years ago. (For example, a faculty member at a major non-denominational seminary told me that no Arminian would ever be hired to teach there—not because the seminary’s statement of faith ruled out Arminianism [it doesn’t] but because the theology faculty would block his or her hiring. At that time my own president called himself a “recovering Arminian.” He meant it as humor, but to a real Arminian it sounds like the rhetoric of exclusion.)

Now something more than “privileging Calvinism” is going on. Some Calvinists are attempting to impose Calvinism on Christian organizations that have traditionally been neutral with regard to Calvinism and Arminianism and have included both. They are often doing this under the guise of warding off open theism. Arminians need to band together, in spite of our differences over things like open theism (whether it’s a legitimate evangelical option or not) and push back when this happens.

This article was originally posted HERE.

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Andrew D

I would like to hear the rationale for why this article is posted at sbctoday, a blog devoted to Southern Baptist issues? As it relates to foreknowledge & providence, Baptists are in such agreement that Article II of the BF&M says “God is all powerful and all knowing; and His perfect knowledge extends to all things, past, present, and future, including the future decisions of HIs free creatures.” This is not stealth Calvinism as much as an open rejection of classic Arminianism (which Olson notes). SBCToday leadership has consistently advocated that its primary concern are those who are “neither Calvinists, nor Arminians, but Baptists.” The primary discussions in the SBC over Calvinism are about soteriology, not providence or exhaustive foreknowledge. This article, with this title, may cause great confusion and perhaps even division among those who conflate those two issues. There is little division in the SBC over these issues, nor should there be. If the doctrine of exhaustive foreknowledge is the definition of Calvinism, then a vast majority of Southern Baptists, including (I would assume) the editors of this blog, would have to say Baptists have historically been and continue to be Calvinists.

    volfan007

    Andrew,

    The majority of SB’s are not Arminian, and they’re not Calvinists. They’re not Semi Pelagian, either. Most SB’s are just plain ole Christians, who believe the Bible, which makes us Baptists.

    David

Derin Stidd

So let me make sure I get Olson’s point here. Forget the whole argument about Open Theism, because Arminians need to lay that argument aside so they can band together and fight against those evil Calvinist! One problem with that. Open Theism is heresy. There is a legitimate disagreement between Calvinist and those who embrace Arminianism, and we should have that debate openly and honestly. But I find it hard to believe that on a SBC web page there should be any place for someone who is writing in favor of putting the Open Theism debate aside and banning together against Calvinist. To the editors of SBC Today, are you REALLY so against Calvinism that you are willing to embrace open heresy to combat it? Is this where we are going in the SBC. A place where we are so against each other on a secondary matter that we are willing to entertain the idea of laying aside heresy so as to defeat the other side? To be plane and honest, I am a Calvinist. I don’t want to be stealth about it. I am a Southern Baptist first though. And the idea that a Southern Baptist publication is republishing an article that favors ignoring heresy to defeat Calvinism is rather concerning to me as a Southern Baptist.

    Jonathan Carter

    Derin thanks for your comment. Let me respond with the following:

    1. “Forget the whole argument about Open Theism, because Arminians need to lay that argument aside so they can band together and fight against those evil Calvinist!”
    -No. You have missed his point. He is not arguing for or against Open Theism—but he did state that he is not an Open Theist. Your point is absurd. Are you trying to say that you cannot be an Arminian and not hold to Open Theism? I would rebut by asking—Can you be a Calvinist and only hold to four points? Three points? It seems your logic is a bit hasty.

    2. “I find it hard to believe that on a SBC web page there should be any place for someone who is writing in favor of putting the Open Theism debate aside and banning together against Calvinist.”
    -Again he has not made an argument of “putting the Open Theism debate aside” like you have claimed. He is stating that some Calvinists are using this as a guise (hence his title “Stealth”) to creep in their theological sway under a different banner.

    3. “To the editors of SBC Today, are you REALLY so against Calvinism that you are willing to embrace open heresy to combat it?”
    -I am the editor. I embrace/endorse no heresy (though by my Calvinists friends I am reminded that being a Traditionalist is the same thing). Maybe you should read through the “About Us” section for clarity. Here, I will help you: “SBCT does not necessarily endorse all that is said in the blog, not only in the comments section but in the articles themselves.”

    4. “To be plane [sic] and honest, I am a Calvinist. I don’t want to be stealth about it. I am a Southern Baptist first though. And the idea that a Southern Baptist publication is republishing an article that favors ignoring heresy to defeat Calvinism is rather concerning to me as a Southern Baptist.”
    -I am ecstatic to hear that you don’t want to be “stealth” about your Calvinism. But that was the point of this article—there are many Calvinists who want to be “stealth” about it. Again you assert that this article is “favoring ignoring heresy.” This article does no such thing and nor do we at SBCT. I, too, would be concerned about an article that endorses heresy—but it most assuredly is not found in this article.

    Thanks for the interaction and your zeal for Christ.

    Jon Carter

Max

“… subtly attempting to impose Calvinism by means of new statements of faith or amendments to old statements of faith … Any church that adopts this statement is adopting Calvinism whether it knows it or not.”

Dr. Olson, that is essentially what occurred with the SBC Baptist Faith & Message revision in 2000. There is plenty of theological wiggle room for both Calvinist and non-Calvinist belief and practice in the BFM2000, with a definite trend toward reformed theology. The non-Calvinist majority in SBC pews don’t have a clue about this. Churches that saw this coming chose not to adopt the 2000 version and held onto their tattered copies of the previous edition (1963).

Max

“… some Calvinists are attempting to take over churches by stealth.”

I heard a young, restless and reformed pastor of a new SBC church plant in my area say “we are coming in the back door” … in reference to the New Calvinist movement entering SBC life by stealth and deception. He seemed to be fairly proud of that technique since it appeared to be working for him as his church was growing rapidly with a crowd of 20s-40s attracted by the cool band (a crowd, but not necessarily a congregation, since not many folks actually joined the church). I challenged him on his “back door” approach by reminding him that “anyone who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber” (John 10:1). He smiled and walked away.

phillip

Isn’t Roger Olson the “classical Arminian” who accused those within the SBC that signed off on the Traditional Statement of Faith as being semi-pelagian?

    Rick Patrick

    Phillip, you are correct. Olson is indeed an Arminian. We disaffirm a few of his views, especially his offensive characterization of us as SP. In that effort, he actually joined forces with the very Calvinists he criticizes in this piece for the stealth. Traditionalists have wedged a position between Arminians and Calvinists, and sometimes it seems that neither one really appreciates the company. Regardless, Olson is right about the stealth Calvinism going on in many of our churches and denominations. The theological opponent of my theological opponent is my friend—at least today.

      Andrew D

      Rick,

      This article (advocating a view which is outside the BF&M2000), with this title, along with your comment (about theological opponents) and you wonder why some Baptists claim some Traditionalists are being divisive? This is an example of trying to bring division where there is unity, then trying to blame that division on Calvinism. Southern Baptists have clearly spoken to the issue of exhaustive foreknowledge. I completely affirm that biblical doctrine while disaffirming both classic Arminianism and classic Calvinism. You even reassert your claim in your comment that Traditionalist have a position between Arminians & Calvinists. It is clear your (traditionalists) desire to create fear and anger about Calvinism will lead you to break with the doctrine of the “vast majority of Southern Baptists” you claim to represent. If this is the position you’re advocating, then count me among those in the middle who don’t really appreciate the company. Really disappointed in sbctoday for the posting and defense of this article.

        Rick Patrick

        Andrew,

        Thanks for engaging here, but I assure you we are seeking unity and understanding, not division. If you will look at it from our perspective, who is really being divisive—the person sneaking in the back of the house, or the person who says, “Hey, look everybody, someone is sneaking in the back of the house?”

        If you understand this article to be primarily about Open Theism, then I think you have misread it. To clarify, Olson disaffirms Open Theism and so do we. What Olson is truly writing about is a concept he calls “Stealth Calvinism.” It is the same concept Max’s Calvinist friend referred to as “coming in the back door.”

        At SBC Today, we will continue to post essays expressing ideas we think are worth examination—even though we may not agree with every supporting paragraph or observation. In other discussions, we have strongly disagreed with Olson, but concerning the existence of Stealth Calvinism, we happen to agree.

        Perhaps the next article you read at SBC Today will be one you can appreciate much more. Blessings upon you and your ministry.

      phillip

      Rick,

      Understood.

      I just think it’s ironic, and sad, that a man infected with Calvinism (total depravity) is telling others to “beware of stealth Calvinism”.

      God bless.

    Max

    It’s increasingly clear that no single camp has a corner on the Truth. The range in SBC theology is reaching the point of confusion to folks in the pew. And who is the author of confusion?

      Debbie Kaufman

      Max: I have said this again and again. People in the pew as you call them are not dumb. They are not theologically inept. Some of the best people I know theologically come from those in the pew who could get up in the pulpit and preach a Bible filled sermon with the best. I think it’s time to stop calling people in the pew names such as sheep and people in the pew. It’s degrading and simply not true. The reason this issue has not come up in the SBC Convention is that it is not an issue. It will not be an issue.

      Is has been asserted that Founders is trying to take over the churches yet there has not been one peep from Founders in 2 years. Tom Ascol nor anyone from Founders has not said a word about this in 2 years. Are they doing these accusations in the silent? I doubt it.

        Max

        I stand corrected Debbie. I should have used the word “Believers”. I agree – we need to yield some pulpits to certain Spirit-filled believers who sit on those long wooden benches.

John

What do you believe about the doctrine of perseverance of the saints?

Rick Wylie

You have found us out. We would have gotten away with it too if it was not for Olsen and you meddling kids! On the positive side there is no more need for these Five Point Ninja suits anymore. I would like to point out that EVERY single delegate from EVERY single Baptist church that attended the first SBC Convention was from a church that held to Reformed Soteriology. Calvinists ARE the Traditionalists of the SBC. Be warned though, we will not give up. We will be waiting in the dark alleys and around corners to infect your churches with historic Southern Baptist theology.

Chris Whisonant

I would like to know which, if any, of the authors and contributors here at SBC Today are saying that you wish to change the Baptist Faith & Message 2000’s wording:

“God is all powerful and all knowing; and His perfect knowledge extends to all things, past, present, and future, including the future decisions of His free creatures.”

Certainly there is some agreement with Olson’s premise that the following statement is indicative of “stealth Calvinism”, or the post would not have been published:

“We believe God’s knowledge is exhaustive; that He fully knows the past, present, and future independent of human decisions and actions.”

There really is not that much difference between the above statement and the BF&M2000.

If you agree with Olson here, then that means you are placing yourself outside of the SBC’s Confession – in which case you should either re-consider your affiliation with the SBC or if you can be dishonest in claiming to be SBC. If you disagree with Olson, why post this with no comment as to where you do disagree?

    max

    “God is all powerful and all knowing; and His perfect knowledge extends to all things, past, present, and future, including the future decisions of His free creatures.”

    Chris, that sentence was inserted into Article 2 of the BFM 2000 revision. You will not find it in the 1925 or 1963 versions. It’s increasingly clear that such amendments to the Southern Baptist “confession” are enabling Calvinization of the SBC. Whether you agree with his theological persuasion or not, Russell Dilday prophesied the current “trend to shift Baptist identity from its Anabaptist, free church tradition to a reformed evangelical identity.” See Dr. Dilday’s “An Analysis of the Baptist Faith and Message 2000” for more troubling factors with the 2000 revision (troubling to SBC’s non-Calvinist majority of “Traditionalists”, i.e.) … http://assets.baptiststandard.com/archived/2001/5_14/pages/dilday.html

      Bill Mac

      Max: Are you not able to affirm that statement?

        Max

        Yes, actually I can! It’s one of those revisions which offers something for everybody under SBC’s big tent of drifting theology and shifting ecclesiology.

          Bill Mac

          Then aren’t statements like this one, that can be affirmed by all Southern Baptists, a good thing? It seems to be exactly what it appears, a defense against open-theism. I understand the desire to not drift too far into Calvinism, but we need to take care that in doing so, we don’t drift too far in the other direction.

      Rick Wylie

      I cannot see a problem with proclaiming what God says about Himself in the Bible. Honestly, the above statement is very middle of the road. One can see bot the Sovereignty of God in Election and Predestination and the view that God responds to the electing want of those who come to Christ. Both the “chosen before the foundation of the world” and the “God looking down the halls of history and electing those who choose Him” view can be read into that statement. And even the Anabaptists had a confession as early as 1120. Dr. Dilday’s view of Baptist history is selective. http://www.baptist2baptist.net/printfriendly.asp?ID=46 This is a counter-point article written about the same time as Dr. Dilday’s. As Timothy George has noted, “Each of the 293 ‘delegates,’ as they were then called, who gathered in Augusta to organize the Southern Baptist Convention [SBC] in 1845, belonged to congregations and associations which had adopted the Philadelphia/Charleston Confession of Faith as their own.” http://founders.org/fj82/theological-debate-within-the-family/#N_1_ If what Dr. Dilday writes is true, then those instrumental to the founding of the Convention itself were acting un-Baptist because their churches had adopted the 1689 Second London Confession. But I am not willing to break fellowship with my brothers and sisters who differ and am a member of a local Church which would not affirm my understanding of the Sovereignty of God in salvation.

Joseph

Arguments about the BFM 2000 aside, why do all these modern Baptists completely disregard the 1689 London Baptist Confession, and all Baptist founding documents in Britain and America up until the 20th century, that not only acknowledged foreknowledge but explicit election?

    Rick Wylie

    Because it fits the narrative. That is the only explanation I can think of.

Bill Mac

whether they know it or not. Only a Calvinist (or someone who believes in the Calvinist view of God’s sovereignty) can say that God’s knowledge is independent of human decisions and actions. Even a Molinist cannot say that and mean it.

Here’s the problem with this article. The author makes the above claim, and never defends or explains it. I can’t, for the life of me, figure out why any Christian except an open-theist cannot affirm the statement, so obviously Olsen is reading his own presuppositions into it (as I am). The way I read it, is that God gains no new knowledge from human activity, he’s known it all from eternity past. How are you guys reading it?

Lydia

“People in the pew as you call them are not dumb”

Very true. But they do tend to be overly trusting and even somewhat naive when it comes to stealth Calvinism

    Max

    Indeed, the pew is not dumb. To date, the Southern Baptist majority has been largely uninformed or misinformed regarding SBC Calvinization. Leadership at 45,000+ SBC churches should have been having “family talks” on the proliferation of reformed theology in the denomination. As soon as this issue hits their pew, we will see how smart they really are!

Lydia

“Arguments about the BFM 2000 aside, why do all these modern Baptists completely disregard the 1689 London Baptist Confession, and all Baptist founding documents in Britain and America up until the 20th century, that not only acknowledged foreknowledge but explicit election?”

Because some, like me, are not creedal. Why look to confessions/creeds for what you believe? In the hands of movements they start to resemble Mao’s”Little Red Book”.

Rick Wylie

Creed is anglicized from Latin credo “I believe”. Whether you like or not, if you have beliefs, you are creedal.

    Lydia

    “Creed is anglicized from Latin credo “I believe”. Whether you like or not, if you have beliefs, you are creedal.”

    Yes, Rick. ***I*** have “beliefs. They are not based on what some other guys wrote but MY personal relationship with MY Savior.

    So what exactly does that have to do with no being creedal/confessional as in what some dead guys said is orthodoxy? Fun as far as history is concerned and to study, I guess.

    But what, pray tell, does it have to do with MY personal relationship with Jesus Christ here and now?

    I believe every generation, every person within that generation with the inclination to do so, has to take a hard look at the historical Jesus. Why? So no more Nazi Germany’s who so easily made up their own non Jewish, European Jesus—-thanks much to the writings of Luther.

      Eli

      So you’d rather your beliefs be subjective than held in comparison to the beliefs of a wider, more knowledgeable audience, and tested by history?

        Lydia

        “So you’d rather your beliefs be subjective than held in comparison to the beliefs of a wider, more knowledgeable audience, and tested by history?”

        Nice framing of the question, Eli. Your gurus would be proud of you. The problem with your framing is that we are talking about a “relationship” even though I know that sounds a bit esoteric and cliche. How dare me think I can know Jesus Christ without a guru! But, It is what it is– a very serious relationship. A relationship with a “Living Savior”. And that means I am responsible and accountable for what I believe from any wider more “knowledgable” audience. So that means I have to eat my wheaties and do my own digging. BTW: Just how subjective is it to abide in Christ? Do I need a current guru or a dead theologian for such a thing?

        And throwing in “tested by church history” is perfect, thank you. Most of church history is a bloody evil mess. There is your test answer. It IS interesting, I grant you that and I love reading about it. But, my goodness! Most of what it should teach us is what NOT to believe and what NOT to do with those beliefs. And we can start with Augustine and his penchant for Plato and move right on over to Calvin his Geneva then onto the Puritans who tortured Quakers and burned women for being witches.

          Eli

          I guess I just don’t agree with that interpretation of church history. I’m not saying there is a guru who knows better than us, but rather all Christians everywhere have wisdom in trying and testing doctrine compared to us formulating it on our own. Sola Scriptura has been turned into “Solo” Scriptura by too many people.

            Lydia

            “I guess I just don’t agree with that interpretation of church history. I’m not saying there is a guru who knows better than us, but rather all Christians everywhere have wisdom in trying and testing doctrine compared to us formulating it on our own. Sola Scriptura has been turned into “Solo” Scriptura by too many people.”

            You don’t have to agree but facts of history are facts of history although it is often very nuanced. We cannot pretend that there has not been a history of evil done to others in the Name of Jesus. How does one “formulate” a relationship with a Living Savior? My relationship with Jesus Christ IS solo. Our corporate relationship as believers is not solo if there are enough of us around who are not bowing the knee to tyrants in the church.

            My goodness…. any understanding of the Holy Priesthood or soul competency in the SBC has all been lost, it seems. This becomes increasingly clear as I read blogs and read what the younger generation is believing without batting an eye. Without the understanding of soul competency and the Priesthood of believer, we can certainly mentor good little Nazi’s who also went along with their “Christian history” and the invented Jesus of Luther who despised reason, Jews, peasants who did not obey and women.

            The saddest part to me is that these young people do not learn from history but attempt to repeat it to fit the times.

Peter Lumpkins

Brothers,
I scanned the thread and found it stunning. Sorry I didn’t get here sooner. Below are some of the more incredible assertions without the least bit of argumentation. It’s as if the authors assume their conclusions to be insurmountably foregone:

“This is not stealth Calvinism as much as an open rejection of classic Arminianism” So classic Arminianism is necessarily web to Open Theism?

“If the doctrine of exhaustive foreknowledge is the definition of Calvinism, then a vast majority of Southern Baptists…would have to say Baptists have historically been and continue to be Calvinists.” Again, Arminiansim is assumed to be wed to Open Theism, despite the fact that the author (Olsen) categorically denies he embraces Open Theism. What is more, what if we suggested Hyper-Calvinism is wed to Calvinism the same way the commenters seem to think Open Theism is wed to Arminianism? Talk about getting rocks thrown at you!

“Are you REALLY so against Calvinism that you are willing to embrace open heresy to combat it?” See above.

“Is this where we are going in the SBC. A place where we are so against each other on a secondary matter that we are willing to entertain the idea of laying aside heresy so as to defeat the other side?” Secondary? What’s secondary? God’s foreknowledge? Predestination? Soteriology? What? In fact, I didn’t know any doctrine in the BF&M would be classified as “secondary.” Why in Sam’s Hill is it even in there if it’s “secondary”? The BF&M, at least the way I understood it, was supposed to be *what we ALL believed.*

“Really disappointed in sbctoday for the posting and defense of this article.” Perhaps Dr. Patrick did post this to *defend* it. However, there’s no reason to assume he embraces it all. In fact, I think the number one reason Dr. Patrick posted it was to illustrate a) someone other than Southern Baptists *see* and even *experience* firsthand the “stealth” tactics of many Founders-type Calvinists at work; b) the theological subtly with which many Calvinists operate to remain undetected as a Calvinist (here, it’s the one term “independent”). Even so, we could name Baptist Calvinist blogs and sites that routinely have posts from different denominational persuasions, mostly Presbyterians / Bible-Community churches (note: what you will rarely, if ever see, however, is one of the Calvinist sites allowing any posting that is other than strictly Calvinist). What if Dr. Patrick went there and posted, “I’m really disappointed for the posting and defense of this article”? My guess is, he’d get laughed off the thread.
“I just think it’s ironic, and sad, that a man infected with Calvinism (total depravity) is telling others to “beware of stealth Calvinism” Now this really makes a lot of sense.

“I would like to point out that EVERY single delegate from EVERY single Baptist church that attended the first SBC Convention was from a church that held to Reformed Soteriology.” Really? How do you know? Just because a church happens to have a strict Calvinistic confession in their records is absolutely no guarantee the church was/is a practicing “Reformed” church. The last church I pastored had an early, very Calvinistic confession. When I pointed it out to them, they seemed very, very confused since not a single one of them would be characterized as a Calvinist! Furthermore, if all the churches were solidly “Reformed,” what do we make of Boyce’s complaint to Broadus (?) that most of the young preachers who were coming to Southern were *rank Arminians*?! Where did they learn their “Arminian” beliefs? Remember these guys were the *called* to preach guys, not just your average ‘laymen.’

“If what Dr. Dilday writes is true, then those instrumental to the founding of the Convention itself were acting un-Baptist because their churches had adopted the 1689 Second London Confession” Given the views of many on this thread, the founding of the SBC was an UN-baptistic thing since they did not adopt a confession of faith either. By the way, why would “293 delegates” who fully, strongly, and unashamedly held and defended the 1689 Confession of Faith *not* embrace a confession since they *all* believed the very same thing? (i.e. the 1689 Confession)

“Why do all these modern Baptists completely disregard the 1689 London Baptist Confession, and all Baptist founding documents in Britain and America up until the 20th century, that not only acknowledged foreknowledge but explicit election?” We don’t disregard them. But neither are we so reductionistic in our historiography that we squeeze out all the non-Calvinistic confessions from our spiritual heritage as do many of our Calvinistic brothers today. Remember. The first Baptists were non-Calvinistic Baptists. And, the very first systematic theology written by a Baptist was a non-Calvinistic Baptist theology.

With that, I am…
Peter

Keith Echols Jr.

I see this article as being more divisive than constructive. Mr. Olsen makes it seems as thought Calvinist are evil master minds attempting to take over the Evangelical world. The debate over the sovereignty of God versus the free will of man is an “in house” debate. It is supposed to be a discussion among brothers and sisters that affirm the major points of the historic Christian faith. I do not understand how someone who claims to be a follower of Christ could hurl such inflammatory insults at a group of believers that simply hold a high view of God in terms of soteriology. Regardless of what side of the issue we fall on, the point is to search the scriptures for yourself and know what you believe and why. Once you have this understanding, it is then of crucial importance that you take this knowledge and use it to share the Gospel with those who need to hear. The one thing we can all be sure of is that we do not know completely how God saves and we will not know on this side of eternity. Calvinism and Arminianism are theological constructs instituted to help finite man understand an infinite God.

I believe it is healthy and constructive to dig into the depths of Gods word and seek to understand what the scriptures says in terms of the process of salvation. If a person, a church, or a denomination chooses to affirm God’s sovereignty based on how they understand scripture, then praise God. If a person, a church, or a denomination chooses to affirm the free will of man based on how they understand scripture, then praise God. There are 1 billion people in the world that have not even heard the name of Christ. I pray that we as a domination and as believers in Christ stop spending our time chopping each other down, and spend our time working together to get the Gospel to those who have not heard.

We should all be living and laboring for the day when “a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages” (Rev. 7:9) are gathered around the throne of God. On that day Calvinism or Arminianism will not matter. Christ will matter. Brothers and sisters, I implore us all to please stop seeing the person on the other side of the debate as an enemy. We are a family. We are the body of Christ. We may have different roles, perspectives, and understandings of certain theological constructs but that is ok provided we agree on the foundational issues.

I pray that we move past being argumentative to a place of healthy debate. Ultimately, I pray that we then turn our energies to being about our Father’s business. God bless you all.

Keith Echols Jr.

Lydia

“I see this article as being more divisive than constructive.”

After about 9 years of dealing with this issue at ground zero– my conclusion is that the only thing that will stop the label of ” divisive” is for people to shut up and go along with whatever the Neo Cal/ Reformed/YRR movements and their gurus say or do. Which I think is the whole point. :o) If you are not familiar with that sort of tactic you might not the entitlement thinking, authoritarianism and narcissism involved which are the roots of totalitarian regimes/organization. And a gas lighting tactic. Say something I don’t like? You are being “divisive”. That simple. In fact, too simple.

So, ok. Let’s be “divisive”. I know I am at election time in America. And I think it is a good thing to be in some situations. :o)

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