As a general rule, I’m a fairly easy person to get along with; in fact, it takes a good bit to get me riled up, but the latest anti-Calvinist screed that has been pumped out by some of those in the Southern Baptist Convention has gotten my dander up. You’ll note that the following post contains some sharp language; if you’re easily offended, you may want to pass by this particular post.
Just about the time I sincerely hoped the Caner brothers had entirely dropped out of sight, after the Ergun Caner debacle starting almost 2 years ago and the resultant “Great Evangelical Coverup”, facilitated by Veritas Evangelical Seminary and Dr. Norman Geisler, along comes Emir Caner as a signatory to the pile of rubbish titled “A Statement of Traditional Southern Baptist Understanding of God’s Plan of Salvation.” To that I say, “Horse-feathers and poppy-cock, my good man.”
This “statement” is on of the most confusing, poorly written, and straw-man filled arguments I’ve ever seen! Speaking as a full blown, 5-point Calvinist and baby-baptizing Presbyterian (i.e., more consistently Calvinistic than the vast majority of the Calvinists in the SBC), let me say that what these men are writing against and calling Calvinism is unrecognizable to an actual Calvinist! Furthermore, if you want to see the level of sheer, dumb bias that these “scholars” write with, just trying reading through the nonsense that their mothpiece, Peter Lumpkins, churns out.
Here’s a good example of their bias:
Even the minority of Southern Baptists who have affiliated themselves as Calvinists generally modify its teachings in order to mitigate certain unacceptable conclusions (e.g., anti-missionism, hyper-Calvinism, double predestination, limited atonement, etc.).
I’m just going to deal with these one at a time:
- Just speaking overall, there is an unacceptable mixture here between things that are logical consequence of consistent Calvinism, and those things that are distortions of consistent Calvinism.
- Anti-missionism? Really? Is there no one on the Southern Baptist Covention’s anti-Calvinist team that has read even a smidge of Reformation Church History? I should point out to those who are unfamiliar with Calvinism, that Geneva under Calvin pumped out thousands of missionaries to France and Italy that sealed their confession of faith with the blood of martyrdom; that the modern missions movement, and in fact, the entire missions movement as a whole, has been spawned from Calvinist theology and lead by Calvinists! George Whitefield, Jonathan Edwards, Charles Haddon Spurgeon, William Carey (the “Father of Modern Missions”), Adoniram Judson, John Paton – all Calvinists! This is just the list that immediately pops into my head; it isn’t anywhere close to being exhaustive.
- Hyper-Calvinism here is presented as somehow being a logical extension of, or consistent with Calvinism. The sad reality is that the signers of this statement (Emir Caner, Paige Patterson, Jerry Vines, Jimmy Draper, Malcolm Yarnell, et. al.) can’t even accurately define hyper-Calvinism. As my grandaddy would have put it, “Them fellas could identify a hyper-Calvinist if he took a crap in their hat!”
Here’s another quote:
The very fact that there is a plurality of views on Calvinism designed to deal with these weaknesses (variously described as “3-point,” “4-point,” “moderate,” etc.) would seem to call for circumspection and humility with respect to the system and to those who disagree with it.
So because there are inconsistent Calvinists, it necessarily means that the system is weak? I’d recommend that the authors of this statement read the article “There Are No Four Point Calvinists”, found here. I believe they might find it educational.
But then there is the most egregious statement of all:
We propose that what most Southern Baptists believe about salvation can rightly be called “Traditional” Southern Baptist soteriology…
“What most Southern Baptists believe about salvation”? Speaking as someone who was raised from his birth to the age of twenty in the Southern Baptist Convention, I would be surprised if you could find most Southern Baptists on Sunday morning, especially given that 60% of those claiming to be Southern Baptist don’t attend church! Furthermore, out of the ones you can find, the vast majority, i.e., most of them, couldn’t define the difference between justification and sanctification. Most Southern Baptists are, in fact, functionally Biblically illiterate. I’m not so sure that if I were an author of this paper, I would want most Southern Baptists to agree with me!
I’ll end with this: for years, the anti-Calvinist crowd has been slinging mud in the SBC, yet they have refused to have a substantive, public dialogue/debate on these issues. I believe that they won’t because they know their position to be too weak to withstand scrutiny. But just in case I’m wrong, this is my challenge:
To Jerry Vines, Malcolm Yarnell, Paige Patterson, Jerry Vines, Jimmy Draper, Ergun Caner, Emir Caner, Peter Lumpkins, or any others in the SBC, I will engage you in a moderated, public debate at the time of your choosing. Will you respond?
- Calvinism in SBC Life (theminorphilosopher.wordpress.com)
- Tom Ascol: “I have no interest in participating in any such disunity” by Peter Lumpkins (peterlumpkins.typepad.com)
- Is There A Double Standard In Calvinistic Cooperation? (paulstohler.com)