Dr. Jerry Vines is Pastor Emeritus of First Baptist Church, Jacksonville, Florida. He holds a Th.D. from Luther Rice University and Seminary. A former president of the Southern Baptist Convention, Dr. Vines inaugurated the first John 3.16 Conference in 2008. The SBC’s Baptist Press covered the event. (http://www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?id=29318)
In the weeks preceding this year’s Conference, SBCToday will post interviews with each person scheduled to speak at the Conference. Our interview with Dr. Vines leads the way.
Interview with Dr. Jerry Vines
Q. What was the genesis of the (2008) conference?
A. The first John 3:16 Conference was held in order to offer a response to the 5 points of Calvinism, expressed by the acronym TULIP. It was done in a scholarly, positive, irenic setting. The Conference was extremely well attended and the lectures later became the best-selling book "Whosoever Will: A Biblical-Theological Critique of Five-Point Calvinism."
Q. What is the conference's purpose?
A. This Conference is part of an ongoing conversation relative to New Calvinism and expands the discussion to include other related subjects.
Q. What is the planned tone and demeanor of the Conference?
A. I have said constantly that there is surely a need for us to discuss these important matters. And, I believe it is important to do so in an irenic, loving, Christ-like manner. The original John 3:16 Conference certainly was that kind of Conference. I am confident the 2013 John 3:16 Conference will be the same. I hope to see people of goodwill, whether Calvinists or non-Calvinists, at the Conference.
Q. What criteria did you employ in selecting the conference speakers?
A. I prayerfully sought to have speakers who are irenic in tone, theologically well versed and evangelistic and missions minded.
Q. A LifeWay survey revealed that almost two-thirds of Southern Baptists have problems with encroaching Calvinism in the SBC. How deeply are you concerned about that, and what, in your opinion, are the ramifications if the encroachment goes unchecked?
A. New Calvinism is a continuing problem in our Southern Baptist Churches. Almost weekly through conversation, phone call, email, etc., I hear of our churches being adversely impacted by New Calvinism. If left unchecked, the result will be what Baptist churches experienced in the 1830s. Those that were 5-point Calvinists in their theology became what we call today Primitive Baptists. The lack of evangelism and the decline in membership of Primitive Baptist Churches is evident.
Q. Do you think the Calvinism debate within the SBC will split our Convention?
A. No. I don’t think it will because I do believe that, as Traditional and Calvinistic views are presented, Southern Baptist churches will solve the problem. One reason I believe that is because Southern Baptists overwhelmingly hold the view that Jesus died for all the sins of all the people of all the world.
Q. What do you hope that pastors, deacons, laypeople and students will gain from the conference?
A. This conference will be extremely helpful to those groups. Local church leadership and membership will be well served if they have an understanding of the essential theological viewpoints of New Calvinism. Students will be helped to see that there are scholarly responses to the views asserted by this theology.
Q. The conference already has gained its detractors — one even calling it "nauseating." What response, if any, would you have to that?
A. Well, I am saddened anyone would call a gathering where Baptists can freely express their deeply held beliefs "nauseating." But, it does demonstrate the truthfulness of what I have been saying for sometime now: There is a New Calvinism among us that is aggressive, hostile, and militant.
Q. I note that your topic is "For whose sins did Jesus die?" Would you share your main and subsequent texts for this sermon and give a teaser as well?
A. I'm going to attempt to let Scripture speak for itself in answering that question. I will use a number of Bible texts. And, I am happy to announce that an old friend, "Billy Baptist," of "A Baptist and His Bible" fame, will be introduced again in the message.
“Billy Baptist” first appeared at the 1987 SBC in St. Louis, preaching a sermon titled: “A Baptist and His Bible.” Among other issues of that day, “Billy” rightly railed against the “higher critical” methodology that still influenced at least three SBC seminaries. With the exception of a small percentage of attendees, that gathering of Southern Baptists responded gleefully and convictionally with sustained applause and hearty amens. The mood in the room was positively electric. If the same spirited “Billy Baptist” who appeared in St. Louis shows up at North Metro Baptist Church, then a second, historic, sermon-of-a-lifetime is in store for those who have the wisdom to come hear “Billy” preach a sermon titled: “For Whose Sins did Jesus Die?”
The editor also recommends you go to
to view a video sample of “Billy’s” sermon in St. Louis. You may also wish to order the DVD at the link noted.