Thursday, November 7, 2013

You Got Your Calvinism In My Baptist Theology!

Anti-Calvinist baptist reacts with shock upon
discovering Calvinism in her tub of Baptist history.
To put it mildly, some Louisiana Baptists are less-than-enthused about the prospect of coexisting, let alone cooperating, with reformed baptists.

I quickly learned this upon my arrival to Louisiana last year when Louisiana College president, Joe Aguillard, cast the school's woes at the feet of rabble-rousing Calvinists.

A recent edition of the Louisiana Baptist Convention's Baptist Message published a letter to the editor by Jerold R. McBride entitled 'Calvinism is not Baptist theology!' I, naively, was taken aback by such an...interesting title.

Of course, I couldn't resist submitting a response. Here is Dr. McBride's letter followed by my response. Contributions are limited to 250 words. Enjoy.
Writer: 'Calvinism is not Baptist theology!'
Claiming to be something and being something are two different things. Beginning with the time of John Calvin until today, there have been some Calvinists who claim to be Baptists. This is like claiming to be a Christian atheist. The two words are incompatible and in the same way Baptist and Calvinists are also incompatible. 
From the time of Christ until today, Baptists have been a "whosoever will" people. For anyone to attempt to inject Calvinism into the Baptist faith is as absurd as would be an effort to inject falling from grace or praying for the dead. Why would we consider Calvinism and not the beliefs of other groups as well? 
Baptists defend the rights for our friends of other faiths to believe whatever they will. 
But a line is drawn when a person tries to inject non-Baptist theology into our faith. Personal integrity demands that such a person should join a church or even start one that is Calvinistic. 
Some Calvinist[s] are trying to pirate Baptist churches, colleges, universities and even seminaries - none of which they have had any part in building. Some Calvinists claim their takeover effort is the result of other issues.    
I could think far more highly of these people if they would openly acknowledge they have only one issue, the issue of Calvinism rather than hiding behind bogus issues of their own making. 
Calvinism implies that Billy Graham's ministry was really not necessary since the millions of converts were already predestined to be saved. 
Charles Spurgeon said, "Calvin got his Calvinism from Augustine." Augustine taught that God purposely created some people to go to heaven and others to hell. 
No real Baptist would ever subscribe to such heresy. 
Calvinism is not Baptist theology! 
Jerold R. McBride, Winnfield
My title turned out to be less sexy:
To The Editor 
Earlier this year, the SBC's "Calvinism Advisory Committee" released a statement which was praised by Calvinists and non-Calvinists within the SBC for it's charitable tone and unifying impulse.  
The statement recognized the theological differences which exist within the SBC while affirming the need for friendly conversation rather than contributing to a spirit of divisiveness. In light of this encouraging statement, I was disappointed to read "Calvinism is not Baptist theology" in the October 10, 2013 edition of Baptist Message.  
If the letter were merely antagonistic and slighting it could easily be met with a sigh and dismissed. However, the letter contained such basic factual errors that a response is justified lest readers assume it's veracity.   
Even a casual reading of the history of the Southern Baptist Convention makes clear that Calvinism has been present from the very beginning.  
Calvinist theology was, in fact, strongly influential among the founding leaders of the SBC and predominated for several decades.  
The Calvinism Advisory Committee celebrated the theological diversity that has existed from the SBC's very first days citing "theological statesmen such as James P. Boyce and B. H. Carroll" among others.  
These influential SBC leaders held to a strongly Calvinistic theology as did founders of the Louisiana Baptist Convention (see W.E. Paxton's "A History of the Baptists of Louisiana"). 
The writer asserted the absurdity of attempting to inject Calvinism into the Baptist faith.  
I would caution against the absurdity of attempting to purge the historical record of Calvinism from the Baptist faith.  
Jeff Wright, Jr., Pineville
Shockingly, my wife claims she has no idea what the title of this post refers to. If you are also in that unfortunate position, please watch this amazing Reese's commercial. You're welcome. 

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