As stated many times I am not in the Southern Baptist Convention, but I have many friends that are. My interest in the issues facing the convention though are more than curiosity. Generally speaking, and
“trendfully” speaking, what happens in the SBC often spills over into the minds of other Baptists, and believers, who are like-minded in many things, though not like minded in everything.
One of the most intense issues among them today is starting to raise it’s head outside of their convention boundaries into other groups, and is becoming a serious growing problem; simply put it is the problem of Calvinism.
To be very specific in this article, among the many problems of Calvinism, and the issues associated with it, is the problem of what a Calvinist cannot say. No true Calvinist can look any man, woman, boy, or girl, in the eye, and honestly tell them, “Jesus died for you.” Because of their belief in a “limited atonement”, the message of the gospel can not be a universal message. Among all the problems that go along with that belief, the primary one is that “it just aint so!” The Bible cannot be clearer, the ink cannot be blacker, and the truth cannot be truer, “he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins ofthe whole world.” Any scholar, that scholars his way out of that is making buttermilk out of motor oil.
It is true that there are countless men of mighty intellect, and spiritual strength, who hold to those Calvinistic teachings; but that no more makes Calvinism true than the best doctors in the 19th century believing you can bleed a patient to life. Furthermore, because a mighty man of intellect may be educated beyond his common sense and is wrong about one school of thought, doesn’t mean that he is wrong about every school of thought. There are Calvinist theologians who though wrong about the conversion of a man, can be right about the issues pertaining to life after salvation.
All of that being said, I recently read a portion of an article calling for Calvinists and Non-Calvinists to have an attitude of “acceptance” toward each other’s “respected opinion.” The problem is that Salvation and the things that pertain to it, are not matters of opinion. The issue of the atonement is not a matter than can be watered down into “let each side think they’re right” and go on. Someone may ask, “what difference does it make; both sides tell people about Jesus? It makes a difference in holding to the Word of God, or not. To compromise the atonement is to compromise the Word of God. To accept something as a “respectable opinion” that is not the truth is to validate a lie. While we must have respect for the scholars that come to the wrong conclusions, we must not have respect for their conclusions. There is nothing to “concede” toward the Atonement of Calvinism that does not compromise scripture. – For that we can never get together.
When the Southern Baptist Convention meets this year, they will have to deal with the issue as it relates to them; and my prayer is that they will have the courage to stand strong for the Atoning work of Jesus Christ. They have already influenced the BMAA, (Baptist Missionary Association of America). The first church that I pastored was in the BMA, and what used to be straight in doctrine is becoming deformed in theology. (Not necessarily as the bodies national policy or doctrinal statement, but the influence of Calvinism is deep and wide within it.)
There is a permanent divide between Calvinist and Non-Calvinist because both ideas cannot be true. One is Biblical and the other is not. The Atonement is not a “tertiery” issue as moderates and liberals like to call it. Just dealing with the atonement alone, not to mention the other weeds in the flower, is a fundamental issue of truth and error.
Friends can be wrong and still be friends. Brothers can be wrong and still be brothers. But Biblical wrong can’t be biblically wrong and still viewed as a viable opinion, especially when dealing with the atoning work of Jesus Christ. Jesus died for the whole world, and any other variance is not a change worth making.