There is a rift developing in the SBC. This rift is not between Calvinists and non-Calvinists. No this is a division growing between two visions for the future of the SBC. And it seems that proponents of both visions are happy to accept Calvinists to their side of the issues. However, one side in praticular seems to be doing a better job at recruiting Calvinists. And so one gets the idea that one side is pro-Calvinist while the other side is anti-Calvinist. I’m not denying that there are strong anti-Calvinist sentiments among some in the SBC. But this whole thing isn’t really about Calvinism.
On the one side we have the Baptist Identity (henceforth and forevermore to be termed BI) movement which wants to emphasize Baptist distinctives such as, Separation of Church and State, Religious Liberty, and Regenerate Church Membership.
On the other side we have the Great Commission Resurgence (henceforth and forever more to be termed GCR), which wants to emphasize cooperation between like-minded believers, both within and without the SBC, for the work of missions.
I think that these letters by Reid and Finn are part of the politics of this battle. The GCR has been consistently more accessible and appealing to Calvinists who are eager to prove that Calvinist theology does not lead to apathy for missions. “Far from it, we want to cooperate with you in the spread of the Gospel”, you might hear one of these Calvinists say.
So which side am I on? Hold on a minute. I want to take some time to explain the complexities of the issues before I reveal myself.
The BI contends that too much cooperation between denominations is dangerous. Our Baptist Identity stands to be lost. The GCR contends that greater cooperation is healthy and desirable between Gospel-believing denominations. Our mission as Christians in the world depends on our cooperation with one another. And as in matters of theology and practice on the blogosphere tend to go, dividing lines were drawn. The BI was labeled Landmarkist and the GCR was labeled Ecumenical.
So what do I think? Maybe these characterizations are true in the most extreme cases, but it is certainly not true of any of the leaders of either movement. I think there is a divide and conquer strategy at work between these two camps. And, no, the mastermind is not Wade Burleson or Paige Patterson. The mastermind is Satan. And if we don’t want our denomination to be controlled by Satan, we need to understand that we have all sought refuge in the SBC for the same reasons. First, we’re Baptists. Second, we want to cooperate together for the spread of the Gospel around the world.
So, I for one, refuse to play this game. I am a committed Baptist who will not consider giving money to plant any kind of Church except for a Baptist Church. But I am also a Christian who will cooperate with anyone who believes the Gospel in order to reach people who are under the control of Satan and the condemnation of God.
I think we have a confession of faith that suits Calvinists, non-Calvinists, BI and GCR. I propose that Calvinists, non-Calvinists, BI and GCR unite under the authority of Scripture, the BF&M 2000 and a cooperative mission program. Let’s call it the Southern Baptist Convention.