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.