Calvinism in the SBC- A Better Response

Last week I wrote about the current climate of some pastors in the Southern Baptist Convention who are rising up against the increasing popularity of Reformed theology these days. I talked specifically about Drs. Johnny Hunt and Jerry Vines upcoming John 3:16 Conference which is being billed as “a biblical and theological assessment of and response to 5-point Calvinism.” I also spoke about a conference that went on last fall called Building Bridges at Southeastern seminary.

In light of the fact that The John 3:16 Conference is not hosting any Calvinists as speakers one is left to assume that the tenor of this conference will be one pitted solely against the increasing influence of Reformed theology in SBC life (and I have already spoken at length about why I think that is a bad decision). However, looking back at Southeastern’s Building Bridges conference we can call to mind one particular speech which stands out as the response that I would hope to see offered by the John 3:16 participants. That would be the speech by Southeastern president, and admitted non-Calvinist, Dr. Danny Akin.

In this lecture Dr. Akin provides a multi-level argument for why we should seek a co-existence of Calvinism and non-Calvinism in the SBC, instead of carrying on the fight in hopes that one side will eventually win out. Speaking uniquely from his experiences working alongside both Al Mohler and Paige Patterson, Dr. Akin speaks about Calvinism without the necessity for the “gloom-and-doom” type outlook that I’ve seen expressed in past addresses by Drs. Hunt and Vines. Overall, I think this is the most adequate response that could come from a compassionate non-supporter, and unless the speakers at The John 3:16 Conference build on this message I do not believe their conference can be seen as anything but a step back from where we’ve already been.

3 Responses to “Calvinism in the SBC- A Better Response”

  1. Brian Jolley Says:

    When people say that they are a compatablist, I always took them to mean that they are reformed in there theolgy, but prefer to clarify that they are not hyper-calvinist’s that see no need for evangelism, etc. This is what Dr. Akin claims to be. What is the difference between the doctinal beliefs regarding soteriology between Dr. Akin and Dr. Moher? I think of myself as very reformed, but I must not understand compatablism fully, because I do not understand what the difference is. Any help?

  2. Todd Burus Says:

    Brian,
    To the best of my understanding a compatabilist is someone who will accept and teach God’s sovereignty when they see God’s sovereignty, and man’s freedom of choice when they see freddom of choice, never drawing the line too firmly on either side. I am not completely against it, bur it really comes close to religious pandering in my opinion (though I have great respect for a number of compatibilist’s and know that their intentions are towards intellectual humility and not intellectual dishonesty).

    As far as a compatibilist’s level of Calvinism, I would say that they typically fall between 2- and 4-points, always dropping limited atonement and dropping either one or both of unconditional election and irresistible grace (of course I cannot say this with complete authority). As far as Dr. Akin goes, I am certain he drops the L, but beyond that I’m not sure.

  3. Brian Jolley Says:

    Ok…..that makes sense. I will do some more research on it. I am wondering if it is possible to be a 5 point Calvinist and a compatabilist even if it is not common. If not, then I am definitely not a compatalist and that would be helpful to know. Thanks for the response…enjoy MN.

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