A Statement from the Calvinism Advisory Committee
This report can be read in its entirety by clicking here.
I am as concerned with the current state of affairs of the SBC as anyone and have been more vocal than most. I have waited eagerly for this report’s completion and will say that it is much more than I expected. As I read the report, I was impressed with everything that was said. It should have been obvious that this committee report would not solve the theological issues that face our denomination but I applaud their effort “to suggest a course for moving forward together while taking seriously and representing fairly the theological diversity that exists in and has been the strength of Southern Baptist life.” I wholeheartedly agree with the following statement: “We affirm together that Southern Baptists must stand without apology upon truth; that we do indeed have some challenging but not insurmountable points of tension; that we must work together with trust; and that we must encourage one another to testimony.”
I fully support the statements dealing with Truth and will pledge to stand shoulder to shoulder with any Southern Baptist in support of their convictions based on the truth found in the Word of God. I will stand in support of those I disagree with and pledge to work wholeheartedly with them for the proclamation of the gospel and the sake of seeing the lost come to Christ and His church strengthened. I do understand there is a world of lost people who are dying every day that need Jesus and we must make sure we make the main thing the main thing and that is letting those lost individuals know that Jesus has come to seek and to save those who are lost.
Now to the discourse on Trust. Under the section on Cooperation, the following statement is made:
“We deny that the issues now discussed among us should in any way undermine or hamper our work together if we grant one another liberty and extend to one another charity in these differences.” I agree a need for more charity is most certainly warranted and charity begins at home. I will seek to be more charitable and make that more of a priority than I have in the past. It is easy to let the flesh overshadow the Spirit in discussions dealing with theology and its place in denominational life.
“Neither those insisting that Calvinism should dominate Southern Baptist identity nor those who call for its elimination, should set the course for our life together.” This statement is perhaps the most pertinent to me personally. I can wholeheartedly support this statement understanding that it is a two-faceted statement. If it can be demonstrated that NEITHER group seeks to “set the course of our life together” then I am 100% on board and will gladly become the most ardent supporter of our denominational leaders.
I will say this: making a statement is the easy part; stepping up to the plate and accomplishing this is going to prove to be the critical part of this whole statement. My position has been very clear; those leading the Calvinist revival have been actively involved in doing what this statement says they should not be doing going forward. I applaud the statement; my sincerest prayer is that there is a determined demonstration of integrity in accepting the responsibility to follow through on this commitment.
I do believe we can celebrate unity if we can “clarify the parameters of our cooperation where necessary.” Obviously those parameters for me will be determined by the ability of those who have taken control of the entities of the SBC and the response they will take going forward in reducing even the appearance of a Calvinist agenda. This must be demonstrated in a number of the entities of the SBC. To acknowledge the need for clarification but to fail to achieve that clarification will prove to be fatal and the outstanding efforts of this committee futile. Eyes will be focused on what will take place in the coming months and years. The day of unnoticed changes is over. If cooperation is the goal, it can be achieved. If it is business as usual and nothing changes cooperation will not take place and without cooperation, unity will not be possible.
I agree and wholeheartedly applaud the statement on respecting and representing all Southern Baptists. I would support the leadership in the entities if they can demonstrate the following: “No entity should be promoting Calvinism or non-Calvinism to the exclusion of the other.” This would indeed be a strong step forward. I believe it is absolutely essential that we do all that we can to “avoid the development of partisan divisions among Southern Baptists.” It is absolutely clear that these partisan divisions are among us. There really is no danger of them developing; we do need to figure out a way to lessen those divisions. A concerted effort to adhere to the suggestions in this statement would indeed go a long way in accomplishing that goal.
I will challenge myself with the following admonition: “If we stand together in truth, we can trust one another in truth, even as we experience tension. We can talk like brothers and sisters in Christ, and we can work urgently and eagerly together.” Tension can be overcome and it can make us stronger if it is dealt with properly and the suggestions in this statement do adequately address the stresses and the solutions.
I will commit myself to accomplishing the closing statement; “let us not neglect the task we are assigned. The world desperately needs to hear the promise of the Gospel.” I wholeheartedly support the statement produced by the Calvinism Advisory Committee and pledge to support it with all my heart, my soul and my strength.
May God continue to bless the SBC for His glory and our benefit.
Dr. Bob Hadley
Pastor Westside Baptist Church, Daytona Beach, Fl.