New Calvinism presents us with a duty and an opportunity to more carefully express what is generally believed by Southern Baptists about salvation. It is no longer helpful to identify ourselves by how many points of convergence we have with Calvinism. While we are not insisting that every Southern Baptist affirm the soteriological statement below in order to have a place in the Southern Baptist family, we are asserting that the vast majority of Southern Baptists are not Calvinists and that they do not want Calvinism to become the standard view in Southern Baptist life. We believe it is time to move beyond Calvinism as a reference point for Baptist soteriology.
The SBC Pastor’s Conference has been a place for great preaching through the years. During the days of the Conservative Resurgence, the conference was a rally for inerrancy, and a vital element in turning the ship. While it has not typically been a place of high-quality exegetical sermons (perhaps the setting calls for Biblical topical sermons), the preaching in the past has been some of the best that Southern Baptists had to offer.
Three historic confessions of faith have shaped the theology of many Southern Baptists since 1845 — the inaugural year of our convention in Augusta, Georgia. The intent of this article is to demonstrate that many early Southern Baptists were not solely and singularly rooted in Reformed theology as some so solemnly swear today.
The Particular Baptists, as Calvinists historically seem to do, slipped the other direction into so called “hyper-Calvinism.” What that means, essentially, is an overemphasis on the sovereignty of God to the point of the loss of human freedom, and an eventual loss of any missionary motivation.
I don’t think I would have enjoyed being around John Calvin. I think I’d probably feel that, behind his polite smile and bulging eyeballs, he was sniffing the scent of free-thinking upon me. In a democratic society that would be fine, of course, but in a Calvinocracy like Geneva, that would mean trouble for me.