Veteran of Southern Baptist Calvinist ‘reformation’ reflects

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Veteran of Southern Baptist Calvinist ‘reformation’ reflects

Postby Rvaughn » Sat Jul 29, 2017 1:51 pm

Veteran of Southern Baptist Calvinist ‘reformation’ reflects on success
https://baptistnews.com/article/veteran-southern-baptist-calvinist-reformation-reflects-success/#.WXzKJrLyvre
The movement turned a corner in 1993, with the election of Dever’s longtime friend Albert Mohler as president of Southern Seminary, pledging to uphold the “confessional faith” of founders including Abstract author Basil Manly Jr. and the first president, James Pettigru Boyce.
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Re: Veteran of Southern Baptist Calvinist ‘reformation’ refl

Postby William Thornton » Sat Jul 29, 2017 3:20 pm

Yeah. I saw that. Ed especially will appreciate what is said about Mohler.
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Re: Veteran of Southern Baptist Calvinist ‘reformation’ refl

Postby KeithE » Sat Jul 29, 2017 6:36 pm

Calvinism should (I say should logically) remove any religious impetus to do right or voluntarily accept Jesus. It has all been unchangeably ordained by God. Fortunately, I know many Calvinists who do not actually live by their stated beliefs (i.e. they evangelize, they exhort to better behavior, etc.). Reminder: formal Calvinism agrees with the Westminster Confession of Faith Chapter 3:

I. God from all eternity, did, by the most wise and holy counsel of His own will, freely, and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass;[1] yet so, as thereby neither is God the author of sin,[2] nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures; nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established.[3]

II. Although God knows whatsoever may or can come to pass upon all supposed conditions;[4] yet has He not decreed anything because He foresaw it as future, or as that which would come to pass upon such conditions.[5]

III. By the decree of God, for the manifestation of His glory, some men and angels[6] are predestinated unto everlasting life; and others foreordained to everlasting death.[7]

IV. These angels and men, thus predestinated, and foreordained, are particularly and unchangeably designed, and their number so certain and definite, that it cannot be either increased or diminished.[8]

V. Those of mankind that are predestinated unto life, God, before the foundation of the world was laid, according to His eternal and immutable purpose, and the secret counsel and good pleasure of His will, has chosen, in Christ, unto everlasting glory,[9] out of His mere free grace and love, without any foresight of faith, or good works, or perseverance in either of them, or any other thing in the creature, as conditions, or causes moving Him thereunto;[10] and all to the praise of His glorious grace.[11]

VI. As God has appointed the elect unto glory, so has He, by the eternal and most free purpose of His will, foreordained all the means thereunto.[12] Wherefore, they who are elected, being fallen in Adam, are redeemed by Christ,[13] are effectually called unto faith in Christ by His Spirit working in due season, are justified, adopted, sanctified,[14] and kept by His power, through faith, unto salvation.[15] Neither are any other redeemed by Christ, effectually called, justified, adopted, sanctified, and saved, but the elect only.[16]

VII. The rest of mankind God was pleased, according to the unsearchable counsel of His own will, whereby He extends or withholds mercy, as He pleases, for the glory of His sovereign power over His creatures, to pass by; and to ordain them to dishonor and wrath for their sin, to the praise of His glorious justice.[17]

VIII. The doctrine of this high mystery of predestination is to be handled with special prudence and care,[18] that men, attending the will of God revealed in His Word, and yielding obedience thereunto, may, from the certainty of their effectual vocation, be assured of their eternal election.[19] So shall this doctrine afford matter of praise, reverence, and admiration of God;[20] and of humility, diligence, and abundant consolation to all that sincerely obey the Gospel.[21]


If you agree with the red above, you cannot agree with the blue above. Appeals to high mystery is the only option. The SBC has been weakened, imo, by the rise of Calvinism championed by Mohler.


BTW, have any of you read Saved by Allegiance Alone. I have not, but its core idea resonates with me - “allegiance" combines mental ascent and action (iow, faith/belief and works).

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Re: Veteran of Southern Baptist Calvinist ‘reformation’ refl

Postby William Thornton » Sat Jul 29, 2017 7:30 pm

Keith, your understanding of Calvinism is too sterile and removed from present reality in regard to the SBC. I don't know by what measure one would say the SBC has been weakened by it. It has been a mixed bag.
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Re: Veteran of Southern Baptist Calvinist ‘reformation’ refl

Postby KeithE » Sat Jul 29, 2017 11:21 pm

William Thornton wrote:Keith, your understanding of Calvinism is too sterile and removed from present reality in regard to the SBC. I don't know by what measure one would say the SBC has been weakened by it. It has been a mixed bag.

Sterile understanding? I have been around Calvinism my whole life (Evangelical Covenant and PCA churches prior to joining a Baptist church in 1986). Studied the issues involved fro many years. Most relatives and some of my best friends are strong Calvinists (my sister is one {she lives in Huntsville now and regularly listens to Mohler’s podcast} and goes an “Evangelical Presbyterian Church” which is Calvinistic). I regularly met with a work friend for ~ 6 years (1994-2000 while both of us at Teledyne Brown) who casted himself as a “Founders member" and an Al Mohler fan just to “discuss” these and other theological issues. Even currently have taken a class by a self-described Calvinist Presbyterian minister at my Discovery Center.

I may be "removed from present reality” of the typical SBC congregations but have kept up with the academic debates from both sides within the SBC (read books both by Roger Olson - Arminian and books by Bruce Ware - Calvinist).

Note that I merely said:
The SBC has been weakened, imo, by the rise of Calvinism championed by Mohler.

Any theological debate within a denomination can weaken it and that is my assessment of what has happened to the SBC.

Image
Plot credited to Big Daddy.

Something slowed the growth in the SBC starting circa 1980 - perhaps the Takeover generally dated from 1979 (Adrian Rogers elected as SBC President).

And something has reduced SBC membership from 1990 - 2010 - perhaps starting with the rise of the Founders in 1992 ( 20th anniversity marked in 2002) and/or Al Mohler’s premature ascension at STBS in 1993. The leadoff article of this topic bears witness to the success(??) of the Calvinistic movement within the SBC - more SBCers may be Calvinistic (i do not know), but SBC membership has suffered since 1990.

In all likelihood both the Takeover and the “new Calvinism” have hurt membership, but I really cannot prove that as fact. It may be other factors such as the rise of non-denominational churches (who tend to not have as much theological infighting).

William, perhaps you could described that “mixed bag” from your perspective.
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Re: Veteran of Southern Baptist Calvinist ‘reformation’ refl

Postby Jon Estes » Sun Jul 30, 2017 2:09 am

KeithE wrote:Calvinism should (I say should logically) remove any religious impetus to do right or voluntarily accept Jesus. It has all been unchangeably ordained by God. Fortunately, I know many Calvinists who do not actually live by their stated beliefs (i.e. they evangelize, they exhort to better behavior, etc.). Reminder: formal Calvinism agrees with the Westminster Confession of Faith Chapter 3:

I. God from all eternity, did, by the most wise and holy counsel of His own will, freely, and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass;[1] yet so, as thereby neither is God the author of sin,[2] nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures; nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established.[3]

If you agree with the red above, you cannot agree with the blue above. Appeals to high mystery is the only option.

I cannot agree to the red and blue because you can't fathom how it works or cannot accept things scripture speaks to that you refuse to accept by faith? Now, that (such a thought) is plain stupid.

The SBC has been weakened, imo, by the rise of Calvinism championed by Mohler.

Opinion noted :roll: :roll: :roll: :roll: :roll: .

i. God from all eternity did, by the most wise (Rom. 11:33) and holy counsel of His own will, freely (Rom. 9:15, 18), and unchangeably (Heb. 6:17) ordain whatsoever comes to pass (Eph. 1:11): yet so, as thereby neither is God the author of sin (James 1:13, 17; 1 John 1:5), nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures (Matt. 17:12; Acts 2:23; 4:27-28); nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established (John 19:11; Prov. 16:33).

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Re: Veteran of Southern Baptist Calvinist ‘reformation’ refl

Postby William Thornton » Sun Jul 30, 2017 5:47 am

Lots of words and charts to end with "cannot prove" and "something."

Much of the growth in numbers of churches is suspected to be due to new churches started by Calvinistic church planters. No data on that because it is too controversial. Southern seminary (decidedly Calvinistic) displaced the formerly mammoth Southwestern (non-Calvinistic) as the largest SBC seminary long ago.

I've been in pretty close touch with the SBC Cal/Trad wars for a long time. The SBC may be weakened by the conflict down the road. No hard evidence yet.
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Re: Veteran of Southern Baptist Calvinist ‘reformation’ refl

Postby Dave Roberts » Sun Jul 30, 2017 8:45 am

I can only see anecdotal evidence in my area. Young pastors coming from Southern and Southeastern have come to churches in this area and told a number of folks in those churches that they did not show evidence of being among God's elect. Usually, this resulted in either a split or the sudden departure of the pastor. Having a background in my mother's family of Primitive Baptists, the true Baptist Calvinists, I see nothing but trouble in the hard turn to Calvinism. The Abstract of Principles at SBTS was drafted in a far different era when the words were applied differently to promote the missionary endeavor of the church. What I see as causing the greatest difficulty is the undermining of the missionary impetus. As one individual put it to me: "Why should I give to Lottie and Annie if God will save his chosen anyway?" I think his question reflects the harder question for the Calvinists.
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Re: Veteran of Southern Baptist Calvinist ‘reformation’ refl

Postby KeithE » Sun Jul 30, 2017 9:34 am

William Thornton wrote:Lots of words and charts to end with "cannot prove" and "something."

Much of the growth in numbers of churches is suspected to be due to new churches started by Calvinistic church planters. No data on that because it is too controversial. Southern seminary (decidedly Calvinistic) displaced the formerly mammoth Southwestern (non-Calvinistic) as the largest SBC seminary long ago.

I've been in pretty close touch with the SBC Cal/Trad wars for a long time. The SBC may be weakened by the conflict down the road. No hard evidence yet.

Causation is famously hard to prove. Thus my admission that I cannot prove anything wrt the to cause of SBC membership decline. But I do believe theological conflict plays a role.
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Re: Veteran of Southern Baptist Calvinist ‘reformation’ refl

Postby William Thornton » Sun Jul 30, 2017 2:18 pm

I don't say this to be argumentative but I don't think either Dave or Keith are in touch on this. Dave has anecdotes on cal church exploders. I do too. These should be exposed and churches warned. I've never heard or read an SBC cal speak like Dave describes although I mound be interested to hear from some of these folks directly, or indirectly through Dave if he knows some.
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Re: Veteran of Southern Baptist Calvinist ‘reformation’ refl

Postby Rvaughn » Sun Jul 30, 2017 4:00 pm

Dave Roberts wrote:Having a background in my mother's family of Primitive Baptists, the true Baptist Calvinists...
Dave, as a "Primitive Baptist sympathizer" (but not Primitive Baptist) I think describing Primitive Baptists as "the true Baptist Calvinists" is problematic; and I think both Primitive Baptists and other Baptist Calvinists would disagree. Most Primitive Baptists I know do not like to be called Calvinists, and (if they are Old Line Primitive Baptists) their "conditional time salvation" viewpoint is something I doubt can be found in Calvin or anyone else who is Calvinist.
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Re: Veteran of Southern Baptist Calvinist ‘reformation’ refl

Postby Rvaughn » Sun Jul 30, 2017 4:05 pm

KeithE wrote:Any theological debate within a denomination can weaken it and that is my assessment of what has happened to the SBC.
I suppose it could be argued that any theological debate within a denomination can both weaken it in some ways and strengthen it in some ways. I agree with what William said earlier, "It is a mixed bag."

As you note, correlation is not causation, and I don't think anyone has come up with the reason for the declining numbers in the SBC. It is likely a combination of several things, some of which may not be particularly related to the other.
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Re: Veteran of Southern Baptist Calvinist ‘reformation’ refl

Postby KeithE » Sun Jul 30, 2017 4:07 pm

William Thornton wrote:I don't say this to be argumentative but I don't think either Dave or Keith are in touch on this. Dave has anecdotes on cal church exploders. I do too. These should be exposed and churches warned. I've never heard or read an SBC cal speak like Dave describes although I mound be interested to hear from some of these folks directly, or indirectly through Dave if he knows some.

I know an ex-minister who started teaching Calvinism in his Skyline Baptist Church in Madison AL circa 1995 and was removed for doing so. He is now an engineer. Anecdotal for sure, but theological disagreements do cause problems. I’ve been in touch more than you might imagine. But I don’t know how one would prove that Calvinism has caused a significant decline in SBC membership.

Are you denying that membership drop? Or do you just prefer to ignore data plots?
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Re: Veteran of Southern Baptist Calvinist ‘reformation’ refl

Postby KeithE » Sun Jul 30, 2017 4:14 pm

Rvaughn wrote:
KeithE wrote:Any theological debate within a denomination can weaken it and that is my assessment of what has happened to the SBC.

As you note, correlation is not causation, and I don't think anyone has come up with the reason for the declining numbers in the SBC. It is likely a combination of several things, some of which may not be particularly related to the other.


Agreed but it would be near impossible to infer that the Founders movement and Calvinism has helped SBC membership. The opposite is far more likely. One can say if you like, the doctrine has been improved, but not the membership.
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Re: Veteran of Southern Baptist Calvinist ‘reformation’ refl

Postby William Thornton » Sun Jul 30, 2017 7:52 pm

KeithE wrote:
William Thornton wrote:I don't say this to be argumentative but I don't think either Dave or Keith are in touch on this. Dave has anecdotes on cal church exploders. I do too. These should be exposed and churches warned. I've never heard or read an SBC cal speak like Dave describes although I mound be interested to hear from some of these folks directly, or indirectly through Dave if he knows some.

I know an ex-minister who started teaching Calvinism in his Skyline Baptist Church in Madison AL circa 1995 and was removed for doing so. He is now an engineer. Anecdotal for sure, but theological disagreements do cause problems. I’ve been in touch more than you might imagine. But I don’t know how one would prove that Calvinism has caused a significant decline in SBC membership.

Are you denying that membership drop? Or do you just prefer to ignore data plots?


I prefer to ignore your data plots.

I see some expressions of Calvinism in the SBC as a problem but don't see that it can be blamed for the decline in SBC numbers. As I said, a good portion of the new churches have been planted by Cals. Numbers of churches are up in the SBC.
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Re: Veteran of Southern Baptist Calvinist ‘reformation’ refl

Postby Haruo » Sun Jul 30, 2017 9:35 pm

Membership drops may be due to an increased willingness to purge the rolls (which may be either ideologically or realistically motivated), or due to a decreased emphasis on encouraging newcomers to actually *join* the church, or due to population declines in areas replete with SBC churches, or due to a number of other factors I can imagine and probably many I can't, and/or to any combination of these. Other denominations that have not seen an increase in Calvinism have also experienced similar drops of late. So I'm not sure how much concern one ought to have, or where any vengeful impulses ought to be directed.

And of course while Calvinism may seem to remove the impetus to evangelism, it may be that if one is predestined from before the foundation of the world to be evangelically inclined, one will be so, regardless of one's theology.
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Re: Veteran of Southern Baptist Calvinist ‘reformation’ refl

Postby William Thornton » Mon Jul 31, 2017 9:59 am

Counting membership is difficult and there is some inconsistency among SBC churches. Some make a guess, some just carry over last year's numbers, some periodically 'clean' or update their rolls, some don't have formal membership. My speculation is that in the last decade or so the SBC has seen more churches update their rolls, usually with a considerable loss of numerical members. I've done this two or three times. What there is no confusion about is weekly worship average attendance. Although self reported and not strictly verifiable (churches can lie on this, but mostly don't), it has consistently declined. No disguising that.

The average SBC church weekly worship attendance is 125; the median is 70.
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Re: Veteran of Southern Baptist Calvinist ‘reformation’ refl

Postby Haruo » Mon Jul 31, 2017 1:11 pm

This probably means there are quite a few churches that are well below 50. I went to the Japanese language service at JBC yesterday, and I think the attendance was right around 25, which I think is the best of any of Seattle's Japanese-language Christian church services. Japanese Congregational (UCC) gets that or less for their combined service (I would say the English service at JBC was probably 75 or 80, maybe even more yesterday. Fremont tends to hover around 25. JBC's English attendance has dropped quite a bit in the last decade, but the Japanese attendance has stayed pretty steady.
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Anybody including Al Mohler and Ascol

Postby Stephen Fox » Tue Aug 01, 2017 6:05 pm

not well versed in Marilynne Robinson's take on John Calvin and Calvinism to paraphrase Randy Newman in the song about Dick Cavett and Lester Maddox, don't know their hiney from a Hole in the Ground. Language softened for Sunday School teachers.

Givenness of Things is a good start for Ascol, Mohler and Thornton.
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Miller of SBC Voices

Postby Stephen Fox » Tue Aug 01, 2017 6:09 pm

isn't that his last name. What does he make of all this Calvinism revisited from the Capitol Church in DC Devers stuff? Just curious
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Re: Veteran of Southern Baptist Calvinist ‘reformation’ refl

Postby Sandy » Wed Aug 02, 2017 6:50 pm

William Thornton wrote:Counting membership is difficult and there is some inconsistency among SBC churches. Some make a guess, some just carry over last year's numbers, some periodically 'clean' or update their rolls, some don't have formal membership. My speculation is that in the last decade or so the SBC has seen more churches update their rolls, usually with a considerable loss of numerical members. I've done this two or three times. What there is no confusion about is weekly worship average attendance. Although self reported and not strictly verifiable (churches can lie on this, but mostly don't), it has consistently declined. No disguising that.

The average SBC church weekly worship attendance is 125; the median is 70.


Membership tracking in the SBC is definitely inconsistent. The last SBC church I served also did a roll cleaning, as William describes, at my initiation, mainly because the membership wasn't a usable tool for its ministry. They'd never done it before. We had several criteria for removing members. We identified those who hadn't attended in more than a decade. We mailed a letter to their last known address, with correction requested. Any that were returned were taken off. Amazingly, we got responses from about a fourth of them, all of whom indicated they'd joined another church, usually one of the big non-denoms, or they requested to be removed. We also removed anyone whose date of birth was more than 100 years from the time we cleaned the rolls. That took us from a membership of just over 1,000 to just under 400 in a church that averaged about 300 in attendance in four services, including two ethnic congregations.

I don't think you can nail down the influence of Calvinist theology in the SBC in terms of "numbers" or percentage of adherents, nor find a way to blame it for the current decline in membership and attendance. It's always been an influence, particularly through Southern Seminary. Anecdotal examples aren't proof of any theory. Look at Dever's church in DC. Declining, and dying, like a lot of mid-sized SBC churches that had their heyday in the 60's and early 70's, under his leadership it is now the largest Baptist congregation in Washington, and the only one of the old, established SBC churches in the city that is growing, and which draws the majority of its membership from the neighborhoods around the church. Other than one African American congregation, it is the only other viable SBC congregation left in Washington. And Dever's congregation is mostly Gen X and Millienials.
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Re: Veteran of Southern Baptist Calvinist ‘reformation’ refl

Postby William Thornton » Wed Aug 02, 2017 8:16 pm

We all decide who to count and why, and how long. It's a howler that your former church picked a cutoff birth date 100 years previous.

For all the SBC talk about regenerate church membership it looks to me like formal membership policies are declining.
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Re: Veteran of Southern Baptist Calvinist ‘reformation’ refl

Postby Sandy » Wed Aug 02, 2017 9:35 pm

William Thornton wrote:We all decide who to count and why, and how long. It's a howler that your former church picked a cutoff birth date 100 years previous.

For all the SBC talk about regenerate church membership it looks to me like formal membership policies are declining.


We figured there was about a 99% chance that those people had passed on, though in that same church, I taught the oldest Adult Sunday School class, and for the first couple of years, I had three 100+ year olds in the class. As I recall, that criterion was responsible for the deletion of right at half of all of those who were removed from the church membership roll.

Southern Baptists have come a long way since the days when most churches wouldn't even accept baptism by immersion from a church of another denomination. "Alien immersion," it was called. But the problems run much deeper than just keeping track of membership. The decline in total membership, resident membership, and weekly average attendance is mirrored by similar numbers reflecting declining giving, and declining overall support for the Cooperative Program. The dollars at the national level have been stabilized only because many state conventions have cut their own programs to "give more" to international missions, but the total giving is down, over the past decade, at about an identical percentage to the decline in attendance and membership. That's not the fault of Southern Baptist Calvinists.
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Re: Veteran of Southern Baptist Calvinist ‘reformation’ refl

Postby Dave Roberts » Thu Aug 03, 2017 9:25 am

The best membership policy I have run across came from Snyder Memorial Baptist Church in Fayetteville, NC. They decided that if someone no longer lived in the community, had not attended for at least five years, had not given for at least five years, and the church could obtain no current address, these folks would be placed in a hold file. They would no longer be counted in the church membership, but if their letter should ever be requested, the church would issue a statement that "___________ was a member of this church from ______ to _________. On that basis, we hereby honor your request." That would eliminate the problems of fake Baptist membership.
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Re: Veteran of Southern Baptist Calvinist ‘reformation’ refl

Postby Tim Bonney » Thu Aug 03, 2017 10:44 am

William Thornton wrote:Lots of words and charts to end with "cannot prove" and "something."

Much of the growth in numbers of churches is suspected to be due to new churches started by Calvinistic church planters. No data on that because it is too controversial. Southern seminary (decidedly Calvinistic) displaced the formerly mammoth Southwestern (non-Calvinistic) as the largest SBC seminary long ago.

I've been in pretty close touch with the SBC Cal/Trad wars for a long time. The SBC may be weakened by the conflict down the road. No hard evidence yet.


I can't say that I get what about Calvinism would positively effect church growth? Ideas?
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