Have You Heard of Connect 316?

November 20, 2014

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Who We Are
We are a ministry fellowship celebrating the Hobbs-Rogers tradition in Southern Baptist life. That’s a fancy way of saying that we believe in the kind of salvation doctrine one might hear at a Billy Graham Crusade. God loves you. He has a wonderful plan for your life. He sincerely wants you to be saved. Jesus died for your sins and the sins of the whole wide world. If you are willing, then you are certainly able to respond to the Holy Spirit’s drawing through the gospel. Jesus has already said, “yes” to you. You can say “yes” or “no” to Him.

Connect 316 strives to strike the proper tone as we distinguish ourselves from brothers and sisters in Christ who hold opposing views. Although we disagree on certain issues with our Calvinist friends on the one hand, and our Arminian friends on the other, we truly love, respect and appreciate them as part of God’s family. Our situation can be compared to the arrangement of churches in the small town where I serve. The Baptist Church is located midway between the Methodists and the Presbyterians. Theologically, this is where we find ourselves as well—and we are committed to maintaining this stance, especially as the pressures of New Calvinism inch us ever closer to the Presbyterians.

We do realize our ideas will often clash with the ideas of others—just as certainly as theirs clash with ours. For this, we make no apology, for it is good when Christians share what we believe and engage in discussion. On principle, we resist any suggestion that unity can only be fostered if we will press the mute button, muzzle our conversation or simply go away! No one can justify, under the pretense of fostering unity, any effort to stifle the voices or shame the concerns of the loyal opposition. Such tactics, by their very nature, are disruptive of the sweet unity sought by all people of good will. We believe in making peace through open, honest and transparent conversation.

Be assured our engagement is a family discussion among brothers and sisters in Christ whom we love, respect and appreciate. It is not our desire to drive anyone from the family, but merely to make certain we ourselves continue to have a place setting at the dinner table. We respectfully disagree with the New Calvinist notion that our denomination needs to grow more reformed theologically. During our very best years, in the latter half of the Twentieth Century, Calvinism had little influence in our convention as the Hobbs-Rogers tradition clearly prevailed. During this time, we grew into the largest Protestant denomination in the United States, developed the most extensive seminary system in the world, established the largest religious publishing house on the planet and formed the greatest missionary sending body in history. Southern Baptists do not need to be reformed. We need to be restored.

How We Came to Be
On July 15, 2013, Connect 316 was launched by five original Board Members, each of whom were faithful Southern Baptist ministers. Founding Executive Director Rick Patrick of Alabama was joined by Ron Hale of Tennessee, Eric Hankins of Mississippi, Tim Guthrie of Tennessee and Tim Rogers of North Carolina. Although many theologically driven ministry organizations existed for the support of reformed pastors and theologians, no such network existed to assist Traditionalists in the task of connecting with one another. Connect 316 was formed as an organization rooted in the theology of the Traditional Statement. In the Summer of 2012, after hundreds of Southern Baptists had declared their affirmation of Traditionalist theology, it seemed beneficial to find ways to bring them together in an ongoing manner rather than simply relying on the one-time signing of a single document.

The Traditional Statement itself was launched after a community of Southern Baptist ministers from across America began voicing their mutual concerns by means of social media. By April 13, 2012, this group was talking about a proposed document. Eric Hankins mentioned the idea of a “Statement on Southern Baptist Soteriology” or perhaps the “Houston Statement on SB Soteriology.” Others in the group gladly endorsed the idea. The following day, Adam Harwood wrote, “I nominate Dr. Eric Hankins to begin working on a first draft of this document immediately.” Working from an original document that was provided by the group, Dr. Eric Hankins, the primary author, began crafting the statement. A draft of the Affirmations and Denials section was presented to the group later in the day, with Eric soliciting their input. The authors consulted regularly with Theology professors at several SBC seminaries and colleges.

Once completed, the Traditional Statement was released and soon made history. Southern Baptists have affirmed many confessions through the years, but this one was different. Rather than addressing theology comprehensively, this one focused like a laser on soteriology alone. Rather than coming from some formal convention organization, it came from grassroots Southern Baptists. Within days, hundreds of pastors, professors, denominational leaders and lay leaders within the Southern Baptist Convention registered agreement with its doctrines. These Southern Baptists had spoken clearly to distance themselves from the New Calvinism sweeping through the denomination.

To summarize, Connect 316 is an organization taking its theological cues from a statement stemming from the concerns of a group. The strength of this ministry clearly lies in the mutual commitment of rank and file Southern Baptists to a view of salvation doctrine handed down to us by Mullins and Hobbs and Rogers—one which we now proudly refer to by the name Traditionalism.

For more information please visit www.connect316.net