On “non-baptist reformed doctrine” in the Southern Baptist Convention
I don’t often check the blog of Dr. Ergun Caner, mainly due to the fact that he posts so rarely. So I was interested to see the news, posted December 18, 2007, that Dr. Caner is leading Liberty Theological Seminary to change its name back to Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary. (Read the entire article HERE.) Now, as a student of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, I’m all for the word “Baptist” appearing in the name of a seminary in which Baptist distinctives are promoted- in my opinion this is a simple matter of ‘truth in advertising.’ But the more interesting part is the specific reasons Dr. Caner gives for revising the name of Liberty Theological Seminary. Caner states:
…much as changed, both here at Liberty University and in the Southern Baptist Convention. Too many schools have Baptist in their name but not in their doctrine. Some have drifted into liberalism and cultural relativism; still others remain orthodox, but have drifted toward non-Baptist reformed doctrine and cultural isolationism. For us, this was our line in the sand. We want to build bridges to a lost world without burning the bridges of our doctrinal heritage. We are putting Baptist back in our name, and taking back a term that has been misused.
Notice first that Dr. Caner links “reformed doctrine” with “liberalism” and “relativism,” creating a list that seeks to established guilt by [entirely undefined] association in the same manner Dr. Jerry Vines attempted with his “Baptist Battles” sermon series back in 2006.
Also note that Dr. Caner does not define what he means by “non-baptist reformed doctrine.” Does he mean the reformed doctrine defended by P.H. Mell, one of the original delegates who helped found the Southern Baptist Convention and went on to be President of the Convention for a total of seventeen years? Does he mean the reformed theology explained by J.L. Dagg, the first writing Southern Baptist Theologian, who wrote, “All who will finally be saved, were chosen to salvation by God the Father, before the foundation of the world, and given to Jesus Christ in the Covenant of Grace” [J. L. Dagg, Manual of Theology (1857; reprint, Harrisonburg, VA: Gano Books, 1982), 305]? Does he mean the reformed theology taught by J.P. Boyce, the first president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, who wrote, “Election is an act of God, and not a result of the choice of the Elect… This choice is one of individuals and not classes… election is made through the mere good pleasure of God” [J.P. Boyce, Abstract of Systematic Theology (1887; reprint, Cape Coral, FL: Founders Press, 2006), 348-350]? Does he mean the reformed theology celebrated by many of the pastors and teachers at the recent Building Bridges conference, to which his article alludes? A consideration of Mell, Dagg, and Boyce show that a reformed understanding of God’s sovereignty in salvation is far from “non-baptist.” Perhaps Dr. Caner means to indicate some other kind of “non-baptist reformed doctrine,” but if he really means to assert that there are Southern Baptist churches holding to a reformed doctrine of infant baptism, then he needs to give specific examples.Explore posts in the same categories: Other Anti-Calvinism