Friday, May 31, 2013

A Statement From The Calvinism Advisory Committee

I am at times amused, but also saddened by the bickering among us when it comes to certain doctrines of the church.

Now don't get me wrong on this.  There are certain cardinal doctrines to which there can be NO debate... NO question... NO compromise.

I am dogmatic on the inspiration and inerrancy of the Scriptures.  There are only two possible eternal destinations for the sould of man, Heaven or The Lake of Fire.

God has revealed Himself to us in three persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Salvation is by the Grace of God, through faith in Jesus Christ alone. (Ephesians 2:8-10).  There is no other access to God except through His one and only Son (John 14:6).  Jesus Christ is the virgin born Son of God.  He lived a sinless life.  He died a vicarious death.  He was bodily resurrected from the dead.  He ascended back to the right hand of the Father in Heaven where He makes intercession for the saints.  He is coming again to receive His Bride, the Church, and His this event could be at any time!

The Holy Spirit indwells in the lives of the believer in Christ.  He is there to lead, guide and direct.  Believers are called upon to deny ourselves, take up our crosses and follow Him.  We are enjoined to take His yoke upon us and learn from Him.  The evidence of His presence in our lives is found in the fruit He produces (Galatians 5). 

I could go on, but I think you get the idea.

All true born again followers of Jesus Christ can and must agree on these essential doctrines of Truth.

However, there are are other doctrines (we might call them secondary and tertiary doctrines) in which good, God fearing Christians can, and often do, disagree.  As a result of some of our doctrinal differences different sects and denominations have arisen.  Now I'm not talking about cults that deny the Trinity or the diety of Christ, etc, but I refer to those who simply interpret some areas of scripture a little differently than some of the rest of us might.  I have come to the conclusion long ago that when we can agree on the simple primary doctrines of salvation and the Great Commission, we, as diverse believers should exhibit unity.  When there are disagreements on secondary and tertiary questions, we should exhibit charity.

But what about when we Baptists disagree among ourselves?  Oh, brother, can that get ugly!

One of the issues that at times, and certainly recently, has had the potential of ripping us apart as Baptists is that of what we often call Calvinism.  My, how this issue has had the potential to divide us.  We tend to huddle into our separate camps and label ourselves as "reformed" or "traditional".  In recent years, extremists on both sides have sought to draw battle lines and have often resorted to name calling and demeaning comments about those who may hold opposing views.  Those who may be considered "Molonists" are just caught in the cross fire.

This is nothing new.  It's an argument that has been going on for 500 YEARS.  It has been present in Baptist life for centuries, debated by some of the greatest scholars ever, and is not likely to be settled by any of us any time soon.

The Baptist Faith And Message 2000, is a broad, general statement of the beliefs that unite us as Baptists.  It is purposely broad and silent on the issue of Calvinism, because the framers of the document realized that there is a diversity in our Convention and always has been.

Last year, Dr. Frank Page, President of the SBC Executive Committee, put together a diverse group of Baptists to come together for frank discussion on how we may cooperate for the Gospel and work in an atmosphere of mutual respect for our brethren who may differ on this issue.  Committee members come from both sides of the spectrum and all are well respected leaders in our Convention.  The Committee has released their report, just ahead of our Annual Meeting and having looked over it briefly, I am very pleased with what they have concluded on an issue that will not be settled in our lifetimes.  I invite you to read the report for yourself and draw your own conclusions. You can read the report entitled "Truth, Trust, and Testimony In A Time of Tension" here . 

Comments would be welcome - just make your comments civil and Christlike, please!

No comments: