How Calvinistic are present day baptists?
**God So Loved The World:
Traditional Baptists and Calvinism
**By Fisher Humphreys and Paul Robertson, New Orleans: Insight Press, 2001
Two Baptist professors of theology have done Southern Baptists a favor by authoring this small (102 pages) but very helpful book. There has been a rising tide of interest in Calvinism among Southern Baptists in the last thirty years. I saw evidences of it many times during twenty-seven years of teaching theology. I frequently found that students who thought that they were Calvinists quickly said, “That’s not what I believe,” when presented with a clearer picture of Calvinism.
The Calvinism most often encountered among Southern Baptists today is hyper-Calvinism, the more rigid form that is based upon the Canons of the Synod of Dort, named for the Netherlands city where the Dutch Church council met (1618-1619), backed by the power and authority of the government.
There are five major theological premises enunciated in the Canons of the Synod of Dort. These five statements are the foundation of most of the calls to Baptists to adopt Calvinism as their own expression of the Christian faith. Presently, some of the most noted (and quoted) figures in the new leadership of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) are outspoken proponents of Calvinism. Some of them would like nothing better than to lead all Southern Baptists back to Dort. Indeed, debate over Calvinism may be the next major theological controversy for Southern Baptists, who have devoted much energy to doctrinal debate (often splitting theological hairs) during the last twenty-five years…
The two theologians draw a very important implication from this emphasis on divine love. “The principal motives that drive most evangelistic and missionary work among traditional Baptists are that God loves all people and wants them all to be saved, and that we must share the gospel so that people can be saved” (p. 100). Calvinists do not have these motives since they do not believe that God loves all people and the elect will be saved anyhow because of the sovereignty of irresistible grace. Indeed, Calvinism has sometimes been used as the basis of an anti-missionary theology. Along with the authors, I greatly fear the influence of a predestinarian Calvinism that so easily becomes a rigid determinism, blithely believing that everything that happens is the will of God.
I think that these theologian are slightly wrong. There are many Baptist that are Calvinist and beleive in missionary work. Their are many Calvinist in our Baptist Church that supports many missionarys
I was debating the finer points of Augustinian theology of predestination once, and the Baptist with whom I was debating (although he wasn’t much of a debater; more of a polemicist who allowed the conversation to degrade into semantics and refused to budge on his particular choice of words, no matter how right or wrong either of us may have been) said that the view I was presenting of God’s knowledge of the future, God being outside of time, and man’s free will in relation to those things sounded too Calvinistic and he that he didn’t like it as a result. I was arguing the orthodox Catholic view of these things, and apparently he thought it was too Calvinistic for his tastes. So you meet some Baptists who are Calvinistic, and others who avoid Calvinism like the plague.
Every Baptist Church I have ever visited or attended was Calvinist. I get the idea from CAF posts that it’s kind of regional. (I have only attended Baptist churches in Texas and New Mexico.)
Baptists come in a huge variety of flavors from super-duper fundamentalist (“You’re going to hell unless you’re a member of my church”) to sharing pulpits with Methodists and Presbyterians, from hyper-conservative to liberal, with all points in between. Baptists can be Calvinist/Reformed or they could be Wesleyan/Arminian. (Myself, I’ve been a Wesleyan type of Baptist for a long time.)
I read last year in Christianity Today that the Southern Baptist Convention, which is the largest non-Catholic religious group in the USA, has made a clear and unabashed turn toward Calvinism. A great many Southern Baptist were already Calvinist, but the magazine said that now it’s the official and prefered teaching at all of the SBC seminaries.
Are they not all Iconoclasts?
Correct me if I am misinformed, but I do believe they are.
If so, they deny the incarnation. Calvin obviously, has influenced them.
If by “iconoclast”, you’re referring to “icons”, then very few Baptists have icons. But they do have lots of pictures of Jesus.
This is a good thing! Thank you Ahimsa.
I think you know what I meant!
And just what is “once saved always saved” but a debased form of Calvin’s “perseverance of the saints”?
It’s not a debased form. It is identically “perseverance of the saints.” The popular TULIP / five-points-of-Calvin are really only one point. Start at any one of them and, if you maintain logical consistency, you’ll get the other four.
Southern Baptists are barely more united than Catholics. There has been a great back and forth between moderates and conservatives over the past 30-40 years. The latest head of the convention is slightly more moderate than his predecessors thanks to some campaigning done via SBC blogs on his behalf. I know Texas and to a lesser extent Louisiana have been warring between conservatives and moderates for at least the past 20 years. It’s a real soap opera.