“Southern Baptists: Traditionalism verses Calvinism.”

There is a bit of a controversy within the Southern Baptist Fellowship at the moment over the issue of Calvinism and Traditional Baptist theology. Dave Black links to a great article on the subject.

Within the framework of Calvinism verses otherisms I rarely argue doctrine on this blog in any great depth. Note my emphasis is on argue.  I have done way too much of this in the past and now I believe it leads to a weakening  of the Kingdom and doesn’t strengthen it.

I totally believe that doctrine and theology is important. After all every person, whether a believer or not  is a theologian of some kind. However, I believe that way too much of our doctrines and theologising’s stem out of propositional truth, whereas I firmly believe we need to engage in more narrative truth.

Its my observation through the Scriptures that the early church was not concerned about how people were saved through any particular doctrinal position, which explains in details just as to how they were saved…rather, it was their practice to just tell people Christ died for their sins, and allowed the Holy Spirit to do his job of convicting them of their very need.

In many ways I believe that the devil is having a great laugh at the division between us. For the truth is, that salvation is simple…we are called to believe on Christ. I believe we are at great risk of distorting the scriptures if we go past the narrative of what the authors of Scripture taught and how they taught it. Simply put, I do not find any of the authors of Scripture plainly teaching the doctrines of TULIP, or many of the other kinds of theological methodology of which we take great pains to teach.

Perhaps in many ways we are making a mockery of our God, by trying to delve into the secret things of him, where we elevate certain doctrines with a priority that Scripture doesn’t truly allow them to have. Have we replaced the working of the Holy Spirit with mans thinking? With all our striving towards correct doctrine, have we forgotten about right living before God and all of humanity for whom Christ died.

I ask, does the narrative story of our Christianity match the narrative living of the early church? Does our narrative preaching, match the preaching of the early church? By narrative I mean by the way we emulate what they preached and how they preached it. I challenge anyone to show me in Scripture how Paul and any other author of Scripture, made TULIP and other theological methodologies a priority of their plain teaching to the church.

About Craig Benno

I'm an average aussie guy who has lived perhaps a not so average life.
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16 Responses to “Southern Baptists: Traditionalism verses Calvinism.”

  1. reyjacobs says:

    “Its my observation through the Scriptures that the early church was not concerned about how people were saved through any particular doctrinal position, which explains in details just as to how they were saved…rather, it was their practice to just tell people Christ died for their sins, and allowed the Holy Spirit to do his job of convicting them of their very need.”

    Did you mean through the church fathers? Paul wasn’t taken seriously on soteriology in the orthodox church until Augustine. Until about 380, soteriology came from the gospels alone (maybe a smattering of Acts). Paul’s usefulness was expended on church order (the pastorals) and his witness to the resurrection (1 Cor 15) and the like. Romans 3,4,5,7,9, were seen as having no importance; they were avoided like the plague because those were the only passages the Gnostics cared to talk about (just like Calvinists today).

    We need to get back to the idea that the gospels have primacy and that the overall message of the New Testmanet (not Paul’s oddball Gnostic conceptions in Romans 3,4,5,7, and 9 which require twisted interpretation fo the Old Testament) are the heart of the gospel.

    After all, if you read Genesis 15:6 (apart from Paul’s explanation ins Romans 4) you will find that Abraham counted God as righteous. “He believed the LORD and [he] counted it to him as righteousness.” The “it” here is God’s reiteration of the promise to multiply his descendants: “He believed the LORD and [he] counted it [the repetition of the promise] to Him as righteousness.” The hear of the gospel is Christ Jesus not Paul’s misinterpretation of Genesis 15:6 as if it said “Abraham believed God and it was counted to him as righteousness” which it does NOT say. [See the KJV since modern paraphrases probably force it to agree with Paul to fake you out.]

    • Craig Benno says:

      I am talking about all the authors of the New Testament, and how they preached and how they lived.

    • Craig Benno says:

      Sorry for my previous brief comment, I made it on the fly. Rey, My comments were more to have a look at the Scriptures themselves. What did the authors of Scripture preach and how did they preach it. How did the authors live out their lives within the framework of the church and culture and what can we learn from it. I think Paul is done a disservice in much of our current teaching about him – I believe that there was a unity of thought between Luke and Paul.

      They were travelling / ministry companions for a long time. Therefore I believe that Paul and Luke rubbed off on each other and helped shape each others theology and therefore, the Gospel of Luke would have fully been compatible with Paul’s writings and teachings, because simply put, Paul helped shape Luke’s theology and Luke helped shape Paul’s.

      The book of Acts completely complements the Gospel of Luke, and Acts provides the narrative framework for us to understand Paul’s teaching, which is shaped through the very Gospel that Luke teaches…so the Gospel that Paul goes and teaches in the churches, and evangelically shares is the same Gospel as found in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

  2. “I have Calvinist friends who say they hope and pray for the day when all of our seminaries have presidents and faculties that are five-point Calvinists”(Calvinism: a Southern Baptist Dialogue, 253).

    Certainly these yahoos are in the minority so I don’t see why it’s worth spending much time on. I think the title of the post could be Traditionalism verses Calvinism verses Baptists. Might as well throw them in there too since they’re causing all of the hullabaloo.
    Jeff

    • Craig Benno says:

      Hi Jeff.
      Your comment got caught up in the spam filter. Let me know if you ever comment and it doesn’t come through.

      Great example and comment. I’m not sure they are in the minority though. I have many friends who are reformed and are very gracious in their faith, and as you said, I know others who are just yahoos. I like the idea of changing the title, perhaps “Southern Baptists: Traditionalism verses Calvinism.”

      • I’m glad you caught it. Those Calvinists drive me nuts. I’ve never written one bad thing about Arminians on my blog and have even refrained from others I think are on the fringe. There are a few people who I think are rather dangerous that I’ve written about, but like you and arguing, it’s just not my thing and I’ve usually regretted it.

        I think your idea for another title is a great one and is better than mine. It puts it more into perspective.
        Jeff

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  4. I was also going to say, Spurgeon, a Calvinist of Calvinists, would disagree with those yahoos because it makes it sound like heaven will be filled with Calvinists. And I’ve gone out of my way to point that out, putting up a post about it and referring to it often.
    Jeff

    • Craig Benno says:

      That is a great insight you have brought up about Spurgeon. I read a sermon where he spoke very highly of Wesley, and wouldn’t allow any to speak ill of him.

    • reyjacobs says:

      Calvinists and classical Arminians both these days appear to believe in justification by faith in justification by faith alone alone. Or to put it another way, the object of faith is not Jesus but their particular view of ‘original sin’ and either ‘prevenient grace’ or ‘irresistable grace’. Both Calvinists and classical Arminians are disgraces, and I pray that Traditionalism tosses them both out the SBC. Let them go back to the Presbyterian church where all their foolishness started and stay there.

      • Craig Benno says:

        Rey, I lean more towards a Arminian theology then I do any other. However, I don’t put any trust in what I believe in, apart from knowing that Christ died for me. I do agree with you though, that there are some who do seem to put their trust in their own faith, and the doctrines they believe, than what they do in knowing Christ. I have met a number of them, and its not always a pleasant experience.

  5. God started teaching me about his sovereignty and how sovereign he really is. This was eye opening and life changing. It was wonderful to know God better in this way. Turns out Calvinism happens to line up with what I found in Scripture. Same with God’s providence, which of course overlaps. This helped me to know God even more. I love getting to know God through Scripture and happen to have the same view of Scripture as much of Calvinism. I came to believe in election in a way that Calvinists do, although I don’t think that’s something that’s know among those who already believe that way and doesn’t make a lot of difference in other ways, other than the extent of God’s sovereignty. I happen to believe in how the Holy Spirit works in the same way Calvinists do. So I am a Calvinist. Like it or not. I certainly didn’t like it at first. It’s not logical on a human level. There are things I disagree with of course. I don’t believe quite all of the tenets (I’m NOT talking about TULIP) like infant baptism but I see those as minor quibbles. I’m not going to agree with it just because I want to be a Calvinist.

    As far as the yahoos as I’ve been calling them, I could care less, other than them giving us a bad reputation. All of my Christian friends have been Arminian, or mostly Arminian/Semi-Pelagian. So I haven’t even been with any of those people, except on the internet. I try not to pay any attention to them.

    So people like rey can say what they want and think that we don’t care about knowing God. In fact, that’s all I care about. If it doesn’t help me know God better through Jesus and the Holy Spirit, I don’t usually waste any time on it.

    And for those who can’t help railing against Calvinism now and then, that’s the way it goes. I love God and love getting to know Him so much it hurts sometimes. If I’m a Calvinist at the same time, that’s fine with me, I’ve gotten to know God even better by reading his Institutes and what other Calvinists have to say (and Arminians and Pentecostals and Catholic scholars). That’s all I care to say about it.
    Jeff

    • Craig Benno says:

      Jeff.
      Again well said. I find it interesting that both our individual journeys have been so similar, and so diverse in our theological leanings. Wesley and Whitfield were the same. I was saved and discipled through the ministry of a predominantly reformed Anglican diocese (Sydney Anglicans). While the church I fellow-shipped with was charismatic, the majority of Sydney Angs are not, nor that much favourable towards them.
      While I now fellowship with a Baptist church, I value my many years with them – where I gained much experience on Synod, church leadership, preaching, doctrine etc. In the first year of my salvation, I read through the bible so much, it fell apart. I think I devoured it 2 – 3 times.

      In the end, it shouldn’t be the nitty gritty doctrines that unite or separate us that is important; rather its ones personal relationship with God, in Christ, through the Spirit, which unites us together as one in Christ’s body. I think in our modern context the Apostle Paul would say- In Christ, there is neither Jew nor Gentile, Slave nor Free, Male or Female/ Arminian nor Reformed…but all are one in him.

    • reyjacobs says:

      “God started teaching me about his sovereignty and how sovereign he really is.” Its unfortunate that Calvinism has made this word unusable by redefining it. Sovereign refers to a ruler who has nobody above him, like an emperor. He isn’t like a vassal who has to worry that the higher up guy will chop of his head if he screws up, so he has no need to micromanage those under him. He can give his servants freedom to perform their tasks for him without him breathing down their necks. The Sovereign is, in other words, the exact opposite of what Calvinists mean when they misuse the term “sovereignty.” They present a god so concerned with screwing up that he demolishes all freedom and creates a puppet world because he’s afraid otherwise he might screw up, might not be able to accomplish his will. Now, a sovereign, as I said is able to delegate authority to vassals, because he is not afraid of anyone above him. He can give his governors freedom to do the business of the state without fear of a higher up being angry with him if the vassals mess up. The Calvinist god, however, cannot give his vassals (man) freewill lest they screw up his plans — what a weak god who cannot accomplish his will unless he deals with puppets. That is not sovereignty — that is weakness. Further, a sovereign does not micromanage the affairs of the empire, as I said, but delegates. Yet, Calvinists will accuse you of denying God’s sovereignty if you don’t agree with them that God literally micromanages EVERYTHING. I’ve never seen as bad a misuse of a word as the Calvinists misuse “sovereignty”. They certainly are doing no favors to the word. Calvinists often complain how we don’t hear the word “sovereignty” from the pulpits, etc. The reason is because they’ve ruined the word. The concept of God’s kingship is still preached by all Christians, but “sovereignty” has been so misused by Calvinists that everyone else stays away from the term; its been redefined to mean “micromanagement” and therefore isn’t even a term worth using anymore!

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