Friday, August 03, 2007

The Alabama Baptist on Calvinism

Wyman Richardson and Timmy Brister have informed me that the August 2 issue of the Alabama Baptist contains 6 articles on Calvinism written by Dr. James Leo Garrett, Distinguished Professor of Theology Emeritus at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. I am trying to access the articles, but thus far, have been unsuccessful.

Bob Terry, the editor of the paper, explains why he is providing this much attention to this issue in his editorial:
This effort is not an attempt to persuade readers whether this viewpoint is right or wrong. Instead we present a series of articles designed to inform readers about Calvinism. We examine the definition of Calvinism. We explore what the Scriptures say about key teachings. We look at history through examinations of both confessions of faith and Baptist theologians. Alternatives are considered.


Calvinism is an important issue in Baptist life. On the national level, there is what amounts to a pro-Calvinism caucus known as Founders Ministries. The organization sponsors a Web site listing churches in each state that affirm the doctrines of Calvinism. Several Alabama Baptist churches are on that list. Unofficially this Calvinist group also has sponsored candidates for election to Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) offices.
He is mostly right. Though I would never describe Founders Ministries as a "caucus," we do have a website and churches are listed on it. He is simply wrong when he says that Founders has "sponsored candidates" for SBC offices. The closest Founders ever came to anything remotely close to that was last year when I--personally, not as Mr. Founders--along with others encouraged Mark Dever to allow his name to be placed into nomination for 2nd VP. He would have won, too, if Southern Baptist Calvinists didn't all get hungry at the same time. :-)

I commend Bob Terry and the Alabama Baptist staff for dealing with the issue of Calvinism so directly. This is simply further confirmation that the timing is right for the Building Bridges conference I announced yesterday. Southern Baptists are talking about Calvinism. Why not talk about it as carefully and helpfully as possible? That is what this conference promises to do.

I look forward to reading Dr. Garrett's articles. He is one of the finest professors I have ever had. I expect that his treatment will be noted by his characteristic scholarly care and Christian humility. When I get the articles. I will post my thoughts.


Bob Cleveland said...


I read the articles in my issue, last evening. I wasn't looking for anything deeply theological but was, rather, simply interested in what they had to say.

The articles did delve into history quite a bit, and went into various differences in Cavinism vs "Calvinism". It was interesting reading, though, and the big point to me was that he affirmed that the current version of, or should I say the extent of Calvinistic stuff in the SBC is limited to the TULIP explanation. That's true for me so of course I agreed with it. :)

He did mention "Hyper" too, but I didn't focus on that as all the hyper stuff I've personally heard or read is what "normal" SBC'ers say about hyper-calvinism.

DoGLover said...

Bob Terry wrote: "In Alabama, Calvinism has been a source of contention in some Baptist churches. It has put staff members at odds with one another. It has caused the ouster of pastors and other staff members. It has caused exoduses from some churches, and in other places, churches have divided over its teachings."

No doubt that some zealous, Reformed individuals have caused divisions by their method of presenting the doctrines of grace, but in my experience, the doctrines of grace have been more the object of contention than its source.

I've yet to hear an accurate definition or description of Calvinism explains how it undermines evangelism, promotes dissension, or causes warts. Most of the objections I've heard come from the ill-informed fears of pastors & church members whose only real objection is that they don't understand the real issues or what the Bible actually says.

I'm going to do my best to attend the Bridges Conference & continue to teach the unvarnished truth of sovereign grace.

DoGLover said...

I meant to say, "I've yet to hear an accurate definition or description of Calvinism... from someone who opposes Reformed theology."

Timmy Brister said...

I just want to go on record saying that this is the first time I have ever seen a smiley face hyper-linked.

Tom said...


Thanks for your thoughts on the articles. I have only skimmed them and plan to read them more carefully the next few days.


I think you will find Dr. Garrett's defintions to be very careful and miles beyond what is typically offered up by those who disagree with the doctrines of grace these days.


I should get some kind of award or something, shouldn't I?

indie pride said...


I have also read the articles. I think it was rather insightful.

His arguments were essential and I think he should be writing more...

Emery Goldings
Alabama Treatment Centers

duke.glosgow said...

I have read your article and have been following it up since. I have been waiting for your comments on articles from Dr Garret. In Alabama Calvinism has been a source of contention in some Baptist Churches. I would also suggest keeping the languge a bit more simple for all to understand it easily. Great article.
Duke Glasgow
Addiction Recovery Alabama