Southern Baptists are gearing up for their 2013 convention in
Houston and will be dealing with Calvinism, which has been a topic
of debate within that denomination for quite some time.
Calvinism, a Protestant theological teaching that emphasizes the
irresistibility of grace and the doctrine of predestination, has
stirred controversy within the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) -
and the debate has been present since the denomination's beginning.
Dr. Richard Land, who soon takes over as president of Southern Evangelical
Seminary in Charlotte, North Carolina, explains the teaching
named for 16th-century theologian John Calvin.
"Basically, this belief is that God is so sovereign that he
elects those who are going to be saved, and they ultimately have no
choice in the matter," he offers. "They are the subject of
'irresistible grace' and they will be saved; and those who are not
the objects of 'irresistible grace' can't be saved and they won't
Land, who is not a Calvinist, says a serious
Calvinist voice, but not a dominate one, exists within the SBC. A
report developed by a 19-member advisory committee representing
both sides of the debate will be presented at the SBC Annual
Meeting next week (June 11-12). That report - "Trust, Trust, and Testimony in a Time of
Tension" - urges Southern Baptists to "grant one another
liberty" in the debate.
"I think the report will be a positive step in the right
direction," Land tells OneNewsNow. "But if you mean 'dealt with'
that it's going to go away, no; it will be addressed, but the
debate will continue. It's been going on for a long time in
Southern Baptist life and it will continue to go on." And he does
not believe the issue will split the denomination.
Land points out that Calvinists and non-Calvinists do not
disagree about what the Bible is. They do disagree, however, about
what it says about some issues - including "who can be saved and
how they are saved," he concludes.
Indeed, according to Baptist Press, the report
lists a series of areas of disagreement, such as: "[W]e agree that
God loves everyone and desires to save everyone, but we differ as
to why only some are ultimately saved." But such differences, adds
the report, "do not constitute a sufficient basis for division and
must not be allowed to hamper the truly crucial cooperative effort
of taking the Gospel to a waiting world."