Preview by Dr. HL Champion
Southern Baptists have been in a evangelism decline and many believe that it is due to the growing trends of Pastors toward the doctrines of Limited Atonement and Predestination. Baptist.org will focus upon this issue in forthcoming reports and studies.
500 years later, Calvinism debate still simmers among Southern Baptists
Written by TRAVIS LOLLER Associated Press from the archives of the Tennessean 06/09/2013
Is God’s saving grace free to anyone who accepts Jesus, or did God predestine certain people for heaven and hell before the beginning of the world? That’s a 500-year-old question, but it is creating real divisions in 2013 in the nation’s largest Protestant denomination.
Calvinism is named for the 16th Century theologian John Calvin. Among other things, it teaches that Jesus died only for those who have been elected by God for salvation. That idea does not sit well with many non-Calvinist Baptists, who believe Jesus died for the whole world.
Some of the theological differences between Calvinists and non-Calvinists can get pretty far into the weeds, but what may seem an arcane controversy has become very heated, especially over the past few months.
In January, the president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Louisiana College, Joe Aguillard, wrote in his “President’s Pen” column, “My love for all Baptists including Calvinists, does not constitute our approval of its being advocated at Louisiana College.”
That came at the same time three Calvinist-leaning professors learned that their contracts would not be renewed. Although Aguillard has not given a reason for the dismissals, many people have connected them to the column.
On blog posts, some defended the move, citing it as payback for an inclination at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., to hire Calvinists over non-Calvinists.
More fuel was added to the fire when the SBC’s Campbellsville University declined to renew a professor’s contract this spring. Although there was little evidence, observers speculated online that it was because the professor espoused Calvinist views.
Scott McConnell, vice-president of research for the Southern Baptist’s Lifeway Research group, said one of the reasons that such a theological debate can seem divisive to an outsider is because Southern Baptists are used to being very united on doctrinal issues.
“From my perspective as a researcher, when we ask many questions of Southern Baptist pastors, they are usually in the same space. …Typically we see nine out of ten or 95 percent agreeing to something.”