Thursday, March 6, 2014

Southern Baptists Are NOT Calvinists

I read something today that I found to be rather amusing. One lady wrote, "Southern Baptists are Calvinists". To which another lady responded, "Southern Baptists can be both Calvinists and Arminian."

I just want to set the record straight by saying that the Southern Baptist Convention's 2000 Baptist Faith and Message is undeniably NOT Calvinist. It stands in direct disagreement with  Calvinism on at least 3, if not 4 of the 5 points of Calvinism.

A reminder of the 5 points:
T - Total Inability (or Total Depravity)
U - Unconditional Election
L - Limited Atonement
I - Irresistible (Efficacious) Grace
P - Perseverance of the Saints

 Here is part of what the Southern Baptist Convention says about "Salvation":

Salvation involves the redemption of the whole man, and is offered freely to all who accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour, who by His own blood obtained eternal redemption for the believer. In its broadest sense salvation includes regeneration, justification, sanctification, and glorification. There is no salvation apart from personal faith in Jesus Christ as Lord.
A. Regeneration, or the new birth, is a work of God's grace whereby believers become new creatures in Christ Jesus. It is a change of heart wrought by the Holy Spirit through conviction of sin, to which the sinner responds in repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Repentance and faith are inseparable experiences of grace.

We can contrast that with the Westminster Confession of Faith, which is arguably Calvinist, and what it says about Effectual Calling:

I. All those whom God hath predestinated unto life, and those only, He is pleased, in His appointed time, effectually to call,[1] by His Word and Spirit,[2] out of that state of sin and death, in which they are by nature to grace and salvation, by Jesus Christ;[3] enlightening their minds spiritually and savingly to understand the things of God,[4] taking away their heart of stone, and giving unto them an heart of flesh;[5] renewing their wills, and, by His almighty power, determining them to that which is good,[6] and effectually drawing them to Jesus Christ:[7] yet so, as they come most freely, being made willing by His grace.[8]
II. This effectual call is of God's free and special grace alone, not from anything at all foreseen in man,[9] who is altogether passive therein, until, being quickened and renewed by the Holy Spirit,[10] he is thereby enabled to answer this call, and to embrace the grace offered and conveyed in it.

The Southern Baptist Convention does not entirely line up with Arminianism, either. Especially with the last point, "Falling from grace", as the Southern Baptist position could be described more as "once saved, always saved."  Here is a review of the 5 points of Arminianism:

1. Free Will or Human Ability
2. Conditional Election
3. Universal Redemption or General Atonement
4. The Holy Spirit Can Be Effectually Resisted
5. Falling From Grace

While there are some people who call themselves "baptist" AND "reformed" or "Calvinists", this is definitely opposed to the official position of the Southern Baptist Convention.  This includes such notables as John Piper. I believe a reformed baptist is a Calvinist who ascribes to baptism after profession of faith rather than infant baptism. Infant baptism is the traditional Calvinist teaching. Correct me if I'm wrong, please?

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