Archive for the ‘Southern Baptist Convention’ category

“Calvinism” in “Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (1859-2009)”- excerpts from the book by Dr. Gregory A. Wills, Part 3b.

August 6, 2009

3: The “Calvinism” of the SBTS founders

[After the following heading, the remainder of this post is a quote from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (1859-2009).]

b. The “Calvinism” of John A. Broadus (94-96)

Broadus undertook a study of Calvinism in 1857. He wrote Charles Hodge in an effort to acquire an edition of Calvin’s works. He asked his uncle Andrew Broaddus, a veteran Baptist preacher, “how far Calvinism should be carried.” His uncle affirmed both that God was completely sovereign and that humans were fully accountable to repent and believe in Christ, but their perfect compatibility was beyond human understanding: “I can not fathom the mystery connected with God’s sovereignty and man’s accountability.” Broadus concluded that the Calvinist approach was scriptural. (more…)

“Calvinism” in “Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (1859-2009)”- excerpts from the book by Dr. Gregory A. Wills, Part 3a.

July 25, 2009

3: The “Calvinism” of the SBTS founders

[The teaching of the doctrines of grace- commonly called “Calvinism”- was not an incidental matter to the founders of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. One motivating factor for why the chief seminary founder, James P. Boyce, worked so hard and sacrificed so much to establish the seminary is that he was concerned Arminianism might spread throughout the Southern Baptist Convention. In the following excerpts from Dr. Gregory A. Wills‘ new book Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (1859-2009), Dr. Wills gives evidence demonstrating the “Calvinism” of the four founders of SBTS- James P. Boyce, John A. Broadus, William Williams, and Basil Manly Jr. After the following heading, the remainder of this post is a quote from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (1859-2009).]

a. The “Calvinism” of James P. Boyce (93-94): (more…)

“Calvinism” in “Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (1859-2009)”- excerpts from the book by Dr. Gregory A. Wills, Part 2

July 23, 2009

Part 2: “Calvinism” in both Landmark and non-Landmark churches during the early days of the SBC

[In the following excerpt from Dr. Gregory A. Wills‘ new book Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (1859-2009), historical information is given that demonstrates a broad acceptance of “Calvinism” within both Landmark and non-Landmark churches of Southern Baptist Convention previous to 1900.

In Baptist circles, the terms “Landmark Baptists” or “Landmarkers” refer to those who hold to a specific view of Baptist history: namely, that there has been an unbroken line of Baptist churches from the apostles to the present. This view usually has implications for how  Baptists are to relate to other churches or if other groups can even properly be referred to as “churches.”

Baptists who reject the Landmark view of Baptist history would agree that the church during the apostolic era was baptistic in nature- in other words, all Baptists are convinced that we get our ideas about baptism and church government, etc., from the apostles- but consider the idea of an unbroken line of Baptist churches to be historically dubious as well as biblically unnecessary.

That both Landmark and non-Landmark Baptists at the beginning of the SBC held to a “Calvinistic” understanding of God’s work in salvation is interesting for Southern Baptists today because many in the SBC who hold to a Landmark-influenced view of Baptist history- such as the leadership of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary- also reject “Calvinism” and would charge non-Landmark “Calvinists” with over-emphasizing the historical-theological connection between Baptists and the Puritans.

The remainder of this post is a quote from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (1859-2009), pages 91-92.]: (more…)

Timmy Brister on “Morris Chapman, Calvinism, and Saving Faith”

July 22, 2009

On his blog, “Provocations and Pantings,” former SBF blogger Timmy Brister has recently published a 3-part series of posts responding to statements that Morris Chapman, president and CEO of the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention, made concerning Calvinism and saving faith at this year’s Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting. (Timmy also responds to some issues in regards to Chapman’s attempts to clarify his statements since the Convention.)

Below is a compilation and brief explanation of Timmy’s posts:

Part 1: Timmy addresses some issues of hypocrisy in Chapman’s statements and the caricature Chapman makes of “Calvinism.”

Part 2: Chapman’s specific charges against “Calvinism” in the SBC are closely examined and critiqued.

Part 3: Chapman’s use of the concept of “antinomy” and a quote that he gave by Spurgeon are critiqued, and then Timmy examines a series of quotes from Baptists, historical and contemporary, regarding saving faith.

Anyone interested in the current debate in the Southern Baptist Convention concerning the doctrines of grace- commonly called “Calvinism”- would benefit from reading Timmy Brister’s posts, linked above.

“Calvinism” in “Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (1859-2009)”- excerpts from the book by Dr. Gregory A. Wills, Part 1

July 21, 2009

[It is my intention to write a series of posts giving a few selected passages from Dr. Gregory A. Wills‘ new book  Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (1859-2009). These passages, from pages 90-97 and 542-543, are focused on “Calvinism” at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (SBTS) and within the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) as a whole.]

Part 1: “Calvinism” at SBTS and in the SBC at the founding of Southern Seminary (from pages 90-91).

The theology that [SBTS founder James P.] Boyce relied upon was Calvinism. It was the doctrine of the seminary’s Abstract of Principles and the prevailing theology of Baptists in the nineteenth-century South. A significant number rejected the doctrine of “limited atonement”,” and the rest did not make belief in it a condition of fellowship. But the churches and associations generally refused fellowship with pastors or churches that rejected other aspects of Calvinism.

President Johnny Hunt: Friend to the Reformed in the SBC?

June 26, 2009

Speaking at the Founders Breakfast previous to this year’s Southern Baptist Convention, Dr. Danny Akin, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and personal friend of SBC President Johnny Hunt, asserted that Hunt (who he recognized as previously guilty of slandering the Reformed position) has become more friendly to those with Reformed convictions and to Reformed soteriology itself in the past couple of years, largely due to Hunt reading Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology. (Dr. Akin explained the fact that First Baptist Church Woodstock, which Hunt pastors, hosted the anti-Calvinist “John 3:16 Conference” in light of the fact that the Conference was hosted by FBC Woodstock member Jerry Vines, and was planned long in advance.)

One piece of evidence that may tend to support Dr. Akin’s assertion of Hunt’s greater friendliness to the Reformed soteriological position may be found in the Strange BaptistFire article, “A very ‘Calvinistic’ sermon from SBC President Johnny Hunt,” which is the fifth-most viewed post of all time from this blog. I encourage readers to view that post and to listen to the sermon linked on that post and to consider whether those with Reformed convictions may indeed be encouraged by Johnny Hunt’s leadership in the SBC.

Southern Seminary, Southern Baptists, and the Two Religions- notes from a lecture by Dr. Greg Wills

March 11, 2009

[Introduction: Normally this blog is dedicated to providing a responses to a virulent form of anti-Calvinism that is a “strange fire” within some Baptist circles. In past generations, the most significant “strange fire” within Baptist life was liberal theology, which undermined biblical authority and thus central doctrines of the Christian faith. Liberal theology continues to be a threat in Baptist life, and so it is important to review the history of how the leadership of the Southern Baptist Convention returned to a commitment to biblical fidelity from the threat of encroaching liberalism. The following post contains notes from a lecture given by Dr. Greg Wills at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary today. This lecture traced the drift toward and the recovery from liberalism at SBTS. Dr. Wills is currently writing a book on the history of SBTS.]

“Two religions have shaped the Southern Baptists since the 1870s” the older religion was evangelical orthodoxy, the newer was liberalism. The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (SBTS) became liberal in the mid-20th century and became in some ways the headwater of liberalism in the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC).

Dr. Wills mentioned the Toy controversy to demonstrate that SBTS had been a defender of orthodoxy. In the mid-20th century, SBTS was liberal, whereas the majority of the SBC was evangelical. Only through rigorous self-censorship could the administration and faculty of SBTS not be ousted for their progressive views.

Liberals in the SBC were not anti-supernatural naturalists, but they limited the scope of the supernatural and questioned doctrines like the penal, substitutionary nature of the atonement. Liberals in the SBC accepted science and history based on evolutionary models, but sought to also embrace the Bible. The presuppositions of naturalistic evolution and the biblical witness were, however, incompatible, making the liberal experiment inherently unstable.

[Return to the Toy controversy.] Most of the liberals in the SBC were young ministers trained under at SBTS. In the 1870s Toy accepted evolutionary geology and biology, and he divorced the supernatural truths of the Bible from the historical claims of the Bible. For holding and teaching these views, Toy was dismissed from the faculty of SBTS.

E.Y. Mullins, the fourth president of SBTS, practiced an “evangelical liberalism.” Mullins allowed liberal views to be taught be the faculty of SBTS, but sought for the “progress” of liberalism to be implemented slowly. Mullins advocated the “realist approach” by which liberal educators sought to promote “progress” in the SBC, while maintaining denominational diplomacy with an SBC that largely held to traditional orthodoxy.

Liberal scholars longed to share the findings of evolutionary science and the findings of the historical-critical critiques of the Bible with Southern Baptist ministers. Liberal scholars believed that the future of the SBC– the ability of SBC ministers to reach modern men and women with the gospel– depended on the acceptance of a liberal Christianity. Due to this conviction, scholars accepted the “realist approach.” Many liberal scholars did chafe under this approach, however, feeling that they should be able to freely teach in accordance with “modern scholarship.”

In the 1950s, Duke McCall, president of SBTS, dismissed 13 liberal faculty members who were unwilling to follow the “realistic approach.” McCall was therefore seen by the SBC as being a champion of orthodoxy, though he did not disagree with liberalism. McCall’s actions caused the SBC to have renewed confidence in denominational theological education. Meanwhile, liberalism progressed in Southern Baptist seminaries under the “realist approach.”

Ironically, SBTS remained a symbol for evangelical orthodoxy, even at the highest tide of liberalism among the faculty. SBTS founder James P. Boyce and the other founders of SBTS set a commitment to evangelical orthodoxy at the heart of SBTS through the Abstract of Principles, through the Toy Controversy, and through their example of self-sacrifice.


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