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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Rise of Passionate Missionary Calvinism in the SBC

John CalvinImage via Wikipedia

Morris Chapman in his Executive Committee’s Presidential report (see here) presented on 6/23/2009 at the SBC Convention made the following comments expressing his concerning over the rising influence of Calvinism in the SBC and the negative effects on evangelism and missions that he fears this rising influence of Calvinism will have on the future of the SBC.

The Southern Baptist Convention is experiencing a resurgence in the belief that divine sovereignty alone is at work in salvation without a faith response on the part of man…

Some are given to explain away the “whosoever will” of John 3:16…

The belief that sovereignty alone is at work in salvation is not what has emboldened our witness and elevated our concern for evangelism and missions through the ages. This is not the doctrine that Southern Baptists have embraced in their desire to reach the world for Christ.

If there is any doctrine of grace that drives men to argue and debate more than it drives them to pursue lost souls and persuade ALL MEN to be reconciled to God – then it is no doctrine of our Lord Jesus Christ.


Let me begin by saying that in the face of a young Calvinist movement in the SBC that is absolutely on fire for evangelism and missions these were most unfortunate comments coming from the President of the Executive Committee of the SBC, and that Chapman has seriously misjudged the current mood of cooperation in the convention. Yes, there is indeed great apathy toward evangelism and missions among many in the SBC; however it is among the Non-Calvinist that we see this sad form apathy toward the lost and not among this young generation of Calvinist in the SBC.

The issue of the rise of a passionate, missionary, form of Calvinism in the SBC and the long term apathy of many Non-Calvinist in the SBC toward evangelism and missions is one that I believe will occupy volumes in the future history books of the SBC.

In one very real sense the rise of this passionate missionary form of Calvinism in the SBC, that has lead to us now seeing a vastly disproportionate number of young Calvinist in the SBC becoming missionaries and Church Planters, is due to the fact that for many years these young Calvinist have suffered a constant barrage of criticism from the Non-Calvinist of the SBC (especially from the older generation) that Calvinism kills evangelism and missions. This criticism appears to have had an unintended effect on these young Calvinist. Instead of turning them from Calvinism, as the Non-Calvinist critics had hoped, it spurred these young Calvinist to become the most passionate and dedicated missionaries and church planters the SBC has seen in many generations.

So while many of the Non-Calvinist churches in the SBC have become apathetic toward evangelism and missions, the Calvinist are on fire for evangelism and missions. This is absolutely fascinating!

I would like to add that the Calvinist emphasis on regenerate church membership, and the Non-Calvinist lack of emphasis on regenerate church membership, has played a fundamental role in what we now see going on in the rise of this generation of passionate missionary Calvinist in the SBC. Simply put, those who are not regenerate have no passion for either evangelism or missions. So no matter how hard you preach evangelism and missions to them they simply pay no attention. Yet, if at the same time we see the Calvinist gathering more regenerate (though less numbers of) members in their churches there will be more passion for evangelism and missions among these smaller Calvinistic Churches than we see in some of the larger mega-churches that we often hear so much about from the older generation of SBC Leaders like Chapman.

In a very odd twist of fate the Non-Calvinist, by their harsh criticism of Calvinism, have fueled the rise of the passionate Calvinist Missionary, and Church Planter, we now see in the SBC. As I said earlier, this is absolutely fascinating!

Grace Always,

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4 comments:

James said...

I am amazed that you have forgotten that Calvin is dead and that Jesus is still alive. You seem to be a neo-Calvinist who is obsessed with finding fault with the "other side." You have an unfortunate "us versus them" mentality.

I believe that Calvinism is a legitimate theological system of belief - but it doesn't help to generalize or characterize any Christian belief system in a negative light. We're all on the same team...that's the beauty of the Great Commission Resurgence. I know apathetic Calvinists, Arminians, and those with mixed views of both...but I also know people of all three persuasions who are on fire for Christ! To characterize non-Calvinists as apathetic is unfair, misrepresentative, and biased.

Also, Jerry Vines is not anti-Calvinist! He doesn't affirm the five points of Calvinism, but I know him to be a man who is willing to agree to disagree. NO ONE HAS THE FRANCHISE ON THE TRUTH OF SCRIPTURE! No single person understands it fully. We all fall short in our understanding of the Bible. We all must humbly conclude that the tension between God's sovereignty and man's responsibility can't be reconciled....both are absolutely true.

I don't want to debate the theological aspects of Calvinism and Arminianism, but I do want to encourage you to be loving and open to all Christian theological persuasions. Let the main thing be main thing. Even Hershael York said that the only line he would draw in the sand is the exclusivity of the Gospel - and he's one of Al Mohler's best friends!

I love you, brother. Grace and peace to you.

Greg Alford said...

James,

Your comment: “ I am amazed that you have forgotten that Calvin is dead and that Jesus is still alive.” ranks as the most offensive comment I have ever read posted by someone who claims Jesus Christ as their Lord. And it is also perhaps the best example of the kind of extreme bigotry toward Calvinist that exists in the heart of some Anti-Calvinist in the SBC.

James… again you write “To characterize non-Calvinists as apathetic is unfair, misrepresentative, and biased.” The truth is that this statement is neither unfair, misrepresentative, or biased… Truth is that most of the Churches in the SBC are not Calvinist churches and are indeed apathetic toward evangelism and missions. So I hardly see how you can make the above comment.

And you say: “ Also, Jerry Vines is not anti-Calvinist!” Are you serious? You have heard of the John 3:16 Conference and the mass mailing of his anti-Calvinist sermons to every Pastor in the State of Florida right? If not then I hate to break it to you, but Jerry Vines is an extreme Anti-Calvinist! But, don’t take my word for it… call your local Southern Baptist Calvinist and ask him if he wants’ go to the next John 3:16 Conference with you to hear Jerry Vines speak.

It is clear by the remainder of your comments that you have completely misunderstood, or you are badly uninformed of, the long struggle that many of us Southern Baptist Calvinist have been engaged in simply to be welcomed as fellow brother in the SBC. To no longer be driven from our pulpits and convention positions simply because we are Calvinist. For you to suggest that Calvinists are the one’s who have been intolerant of other theological views in the SBC is absolutely laughable, and absolutely devoid of any truth.

Although you have completely misunderstood my motivation for the post I write, and the struggle I engage in, please know that as your brother in Christ I love you and have no desire to see you driven from the convention that we both clearly love.

Grace Always,

Marvin Merriweather said...
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arminianperspectives said...

I noticed some hits coming my way from this site and it appears to be because Marvin (above) had linked to my site with his name. I want to make it clear that Arminian Perspectives is not Marvin's site and the material written there is not from him. Thanks.