In my earlier critique of David Allen’s review of Calvinism: A Southern Baptist Dialogue, I did not mention his criticism of the research presented by Ed Stetzer on the growth of evangelical Calvinism within the SBC. Dr. Allen cites many problems with the research and the interpretations that were given to it.
Yesterday, Dr. Stetzer responded to Dr. Allen with a lengthy explanation about the research methodology and why the results should not be dismissed out of hand. Dr. Stetzer writes,
Over the years, we have learned a few things about research in SBC life. Research tends to get people in our denomination excited. Many people quote it, most like it, and some despise it. People will quote and misquote statistics regularly to prove or disprove whatever matters to them. Simply put, we are an enthusiastic, passionate, and often imprecise people when it comes to church research.
As such, when we do research, it gets a lot of debate and discussion. We do not mind at all–and sometimes we read a comment and think, “Good point!” or “We should have thought of that.” As such, we very infrequently respond to inappropriate uses or criticisms of our research.
However, I do see a pattern developing. It appears that when one of the faculty members at one of our seminaries disagrees with the results of our research, they write a rebuttal or a criticism. We actually don’t mind a (good) rebuttal and questioning the wording of questions is normal and expected. However, it does seem that the faculty at Southwestern is making a habit of taking time away from their important tasks to critique our research. I thought it would be wise for me to take this opportunity to respond in what I hope is a gracious way.
Dr. Stetzer’s response is indeed gracious…and convincing. Read it here.