Supernaturally Drafted to be SBC President?

Frank Page, the author of The Trouble With Tulip, has been voted to be SBC President. What does this mean? Does this mean Calvinists are definitely unwelcome? What about the charges by some that he is a wolf in sheep’s clothing, e.g. a moderate?

Dr. Page is pastor of FBC Taylors, SC literally and led the GA State Convention to adopt the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message, yet some have questioned his conservative credentials, questioning him as a closet liberal. Others have wondered why he went to ABP when he was nominated. They have further questioned why Bill Leonard would speak favorably of him, when Leonard, a former SEBTS professor, teaches at Wake Forest University’s divinity school and is as liberal as I am conservative.


Let me say a few things as plainly and as down to earth as I can. Dr. Page has stated plainly that he will only appoint inerrantists. There’s your answer. Where is the evidence that Dr. Page will not conform to the BFM 2000 in his appointments? If it cannot be produced, this charge has no merit, and you stand in violation of the 9th commandment. Yes, he went to ABP, and you would too if you wondered if BP is a propaganda machine for the Establishment, against which you are running. I’d add that Dr. Page also answered Tad Thompson’s questions. Is Tad a liberal too? Several Baptist newspapers interviewed him, are they liberal too? So what if Bill Leonard spoke positively about Page! Since when did a theological liberal cease to be a good judge of character or become disqualified to give his opinion, good or bad about the SBC presidential candidates. Usually, people complain when they criticize the SBC presidential candidates. Mr. Leonard’s institution largely serves groups like the Alliance of Baptists, and they are completely separate from the SBC. They are not the CBF. I’d add that not everybody in the CBF is neo-orthodox. In NC, there are many who simply don’t like the tenor of the politics in the SBC. No he does not like the current leadership, but he can still offer his opinion. If he had given a positive opinion about Floyd or Sutton, would this constitute exculpatory evidence against them too?

Dr. Page has pledged not to narrow the parameters of cooperation in the SBC beyond the boundaries of the BFM 2000. The SBC cannot continue to be run by what amounts to preappointed presidents and their cronies, including their family members. Dr. Page was elected fair and square. This is a major boost for the morale of the rank and file Southern Baptist. They are tired of the bickering, and they are exceedingly wary of narrowing the circle so close that they have to stand in it on just one foot in order to be in it at all. I was in a meeting Sunday night, where a man stood up and said, “I am sick of the anti-Reformed rhetoric in this Convention.” Now, most of us there were Reformed, but some were not. Even they agreed. They are sick of it, and they are willing to have a real meaningful conversation, not rants from pulpits.

Yes, Page has written a book against Calvinism. I know men who were for Page and changed to vote for Jerry Sutton for this very reason. Fair enough, that’s their right. My reservation with Sutton had to do with his statement yesterday that he would support an amendment to the BFM 2000 in order to conform it to the IMB’s tongues policy. This is an extremely poor idea; it would set a precedent that the BFM could be changed to reflect the whims of the agencies. It smacks of a Vatican 2 approach to the BFM, “It means what we say it means, and we’ll change it whenever we have to, so that we can find support for our policies.” Think about that, and ask yourself about Calvinism in the SBC. Suppose anti-Calvinism triumphed on the boards. Why not rewrite the BFM? Don’t think it couldn’t happen. They also passed a motion tonight to refer a motion to the Executive Committee to study the impact of Calvinism on the SBC. There was also a motion to investigate the propreity of the use of dual confessions by certain seminaries, e.g. the Abstract of Principles at SBTS and SEBTS.

I will be posting a review of The Trouble With Tulip in a day or so. Dr. Page is SBC President, but he is still not above criticism. He realizes this. This review should be perceived in no way as an attack on him or his ministry.

No, Dr. Page is not a Calvinist. I have two things to say about that. First, God does not need a Calvinist in order to reform His churches. I’d point out that we owe the anti-Calvinists a great debt of thanks, for their work has prompted folks to investigate these doctrines. What do I hear when that happens? Over the din of complaints and venom spewed by some, I hear from people nearly every week saying, “I now believe these doctrines.” God – is- reforming- His-churches! Period. He doesn’t need a Calvinist president to do it. Second, Dr. Page does not make Calvinism a test of fellowship. He works with them and has them in his congregation. I was asked today, “Would you sit under his teaching?” No, I would not, but I’m also a Baptist, and that means I can find another church and still work with my brothers with whom I disagree. Compare this with Jerry Falwell whose magazine this month has featured Ergun Caner’s article, “Why I am not Predestined to Be a Calvinist” along with a big picture of Ronnie Floyd in the magazine.

Before I close let me say this about Wade Burleson. I met Brother Wade Burleson Sunday night. He is a dear friend, and he is a godly, godly man who believes the doctrines of grace as strongly as any of us that staff this blog. That’s right, he’s a big ol’ Calvinist and he’s also a trustee for the IMB. Calvinism, dear ones, is by no means anti-missionary. I need only refer you to my brother Wade for the proof. By the way 75 % of his people show on any given Sunday according to him. They are making disciples!

Tonight, he graciously conceded to allow the IMB trustees another year to resolve their conflicts. He did not have to do this. I would not have done it. I would have told them that they could either let the Executive Committee do this or face having their antics graphically exposed for the whole world to see. He took the high road. I HIGHLY commend him for doing this. God bless you, Brother Wade. If I ever make it to Enid, OK, I will worship with you and your people, and if I can get you to preach in my church in Greensboro one day, I will gladly introduce you to my elders and our people. I would drive to OK to pick you up and bring you and Rachelle here.

I pray a new day is dawning in the SBC. We cannot expect that God will reform the SBC ethically, politically, or theologically in one fell swoop, or that He will reform the whole SBC. I know many who wish He would. Dr. Page won with 50.48 % of the vote. The other half of the vote was almost evenly split. I did a little research to confirm my memory. This is very like Dr. Rogers win. In 1979, the messengers elected Rogers on the first ballot over five other candidates with 51 percent of the vote. The second closest candidate received 23 percent. Now, I’m not saying this is like the beginning of the Resurgence, but it does send an important signal to the leadership. The Cooperative Program is very important to the messengers of this Convention. Narrowing parameters too far is on their minds. Young men and women and bloggers have been a major voice and have made a big difference. (If folks learn from our writing on the SBC itself, you know they also learn from our theological work!) Keep in mind that Jerry Sutton was not truly the Establishment candidate. He was a compromise between Page and Floyd. Yes, only just over half of the Convention voted for Dr. Page, but 75 % voted against Ronnie Floyd.

I suspect that many who voted for Dr. Sutton were composed of a number of groups: those who supported Sutton outright, those who left Floyd for Sutton, and those like some of my fellow Calvinists who were not comfortable voting for Dr. Page. Fair enough. Now the SBC has a president, and he was freely and fairly elected. May this continue to happen. Dustin asked me about the Cooperative Program program at the SBC Founders Breakfast today. Who knows, if the doctrinal parameters stay where they are and we can have honest, irenic theological discussions and cooperate despite our differences, maybe one day we’ll look to associate with them to do missions. I for one would gladly do so. I haven’t felt this good about the SBC in a number of years. I pray it isn’t a vain hope.

The real question I want answered is….who was really supernaturally drafted, Brother Johnny?….

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5 Comments on “Supernaturally Drafted to be SBC President?”

  1. charles rosson Says:

    Good!

    Good!

    Good!


  2. Well, Gene, again, I hope you are right. πŸ™‚ I don’t doubt for a second that you have more wisdom than I do.

    You are right in this clearly: God does NOT need a Calvinist to reform His churches. In fact, it might even bring Him more glory to do it with someone who was not — may God bring it about!

    SDG,
    David Hewitt

  3. centuri0n Says:

    I think the blogosphere was supernaturally drafted to keep the Convention honest.

  4. Sam Hughey Says:

    Dave, you stated: You are right in this clearly: God does NOT need a Calvinist to reform His churches. In fact, it might even bring Him more glory to do it with someone who was not β€” may God bring it about! Considering the false accusations Frank Page made against Calvinism such as, If one does follow the logic of Calvinism, then a missionary or evangelistic spirit is unnecessary (The Trouble With The T.U.L.I.P., p7), I wonder how you think this honors God. Don’t misunderstand me please, I know from the comment you made on Tom Ascol’s blog that you do not defend such deliberate false accusations. I am only curious how such statements as Page (among many, many anti-Calvinists) would bring honor to God.


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