What Frank Page's Calvinism study team got right

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What Frank Page's Calvinism study team got right

Postby William Thornton » Tue Jun 04, 2013 7:39 am

Frank Page, our Executive Committee’s “Chief Encouraging Officer” as he likes to describe himself, did well in an honest attempt to stave off further harm to our cooperative work by establishing an informal team to develop "a strategy whereby people of various theological persuasions can purposely work together in missions and evangelism."

He recognized that Calvinism is a problem in the SBC that will harm us if matters continue as they have for the past decade or so, one of the reasons I both like and respect him.

The 19 member team has issued a report which can be found in this Baptist Press article.

The team got most things right, including:
1. The Baptist Faith and Message is fine as is and needs no changes.
2. We agree with each other on the doctrines that are most critical.
3. We disagree on some things, none of which are deal breakers.
4. We should disagree agreeably and avoid unhealthy acrimony and disputing.
5. No SBC entity should promote Calvinism or non-Calvinism to the exclusion of the other.
6. All SBC entities should be welcoming and affirming to both Calvinists and non-Calvinists.
7. Candidates for church positions should be candid about their beliefs, as should the church searching for a minister.
8. Hyper-Calvinism should be rejected.


Not that it’s worth much, but I predicted almost all of these a couple of weeks ago.


The critical conclusions are 1, 6, & 7 which I summarize as:


The BFM is our common denominator. Don't mess with it.


As a denomination, we should not employ individuals nor fund institutions that are partisan in this theological respect.


We should not tolerate agencies and institutions that fail to welcome and affirm both Calvinists and non-Calvinists.



I like Page’s leadership on this and appreciate the effort. There is nothing about the report that troubles me and I commend it all. Perhaps it will help things; however, after ruminating on it I am left thinking that we Southern Baptists are predictable to a fault: A problem is recognized. A blue ribbon group is formed. They meet behind closed doors and discuss it. A report is issued complete with alliteration. Prominent individuals offer high praise for the effort and for the folks involved. We slap backs, congratulate each other on how wonderful we are and then go home and forget about it all.

I hope this is not the case.


Next: What the team got wrong.
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Re: What Frank Page's Calvinism study team got right

Postby Timothy Bonney » Tue Jun 04, 2013 7:52 am

On point number "8" did they give any definition as to what distinguishes Calvinism from Hyper-Calvinism in the SBC? I'm mostly just curious.
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Re: What Frank Page's Calvinism study team got right

Postby William Thornton » Tue Jun 04, 2013 8:46 am

Timothy Bonney wrote:On point number "8" did they give any definition as to what distinguishes Calvinism from Hyper-Calvinism in the SBC? I'm mostly just curious.


Here's the relevant paragraph:

"We must stand together in rejecting any form of hyper-Calvinism that denies the mandate to present the offer of the Gospel to all sinners or that denies the necessity of a human response to the Gospel that involves the human will. Similarly, we must reject any form of Arminianism that elevates the human will above the divine will or that denies that those who come to faith in Christ are kept by the power of God. How do we know that these positions are to be excluded from our midst? Each includes beliefs that directly deny what The Baptist Faith and Message expressly affirms."
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Re: What Frank Page's Calvinism study team got right

Postby Timothy Bonney » Tue Jun 04, 2013 9:27 am

That is a good quite a defines the SBC position fairly clearly. My observation is that this seems to describe what I always felt was the position of the SBC, kind of a modified Calvinism.
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Re: What Frank Page's Calvinism study team got right

Postby Sandy » Wed Jun 05, 2013 3:35 pm

It's still fairly early, but I see this committee and its product as a trademark of Frank Page. It was a very well balanced committee, not stacked like some committees I've seen in Baptist circles through the years, no one on either side should complain about its makeup, including different expressions of Calvinism and non-Calvinism. It's work appears to be very thorough, and its conclusion was well stated and concise. It is consistent with other similar events in the SBC over the years.

I don't think there was much danger of the convention splintering, splitting or fragmenting over the influence and application of the Calvinism that existed within its boundaries. But I think this committee addressed the issue properly, and some of the individuals on it sent a signal with it to stop the bickering.
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Re: What Frank Page's Calvinism study team got right

Postby Timothy Bonney » Wed Jun 05, 2013 3:39 pm

I'm out of the culture of the SBC for too long. Why the term "non-calvinist" ? It seems obtuse but maybe I'm missing something.
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Re: What Frank Page's Calvinism study team got right

Postby TrudyU » Thu Jun 06, 2013 2:24 pm

Timothy Bonney wrote:I'm out of the culture of the SBC for too long. Why the term "non-calvinist" ? It seems obtuse but maybe I'm missing something.


Ed: I have have limited contact with the SBC culture since becoming involved with ABC USA in 1998. But as I read them the bulk of the Leadership with a few dissenters such as Mohler and Akin find little traction in advocating for either Calvinism or Arminianism. They do how ever seem to perceive either label unnecessary and divisive. And Tim, I have an Idea they would call their choice judicious rather than obtuse. And I am quite sure it is not a big issue with 95% of the folk in SBC pews. OK that 95% is a guesstimate. :wink:
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