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.
Here is the grand perplexity in all of this. Why are Calvinists so adamant about the superiority of their understanding of God’s plan of salvation and equally devoted to obscuring such superior qualities in gospel presentations? To respond that the Calvinist is simply following the command to preach the simple gospel begs the question.
Based upon a Calvinist understanding, God has eternally and unconditionally elected some to be the recipients of His loving salvation and has equally determined (one’s perspective regarding the order of decrees is impertinent to this reality) those for whom there is no hope, even if they heard the gospel from God Himself and also could recite the gospel in every language in the universe.
Calvinists are notorious for asking the unsuspecting believer, “Why did you believe in Christ and someone else does not; are you smarter, or more praiseworthy in some way?” I asked this question more times than I can remember as a young Calvinist.
The Gospel must begin with the truth that each person must be born again and spiritually transformed by accepting Jesus and His sacrifice on the cross as his Savior. But it doesn’t end there. As a consequence or fruit of being born again, we are to go into the world as salt and light (Matt. 5:13-16), seeking to preserve against decay, disinfect against the infection of sin, and dispel gloom and depression with the light of the Gospel.