Response to NOBTS interview of Dr. Nelson Price, Part 2

[Continued from Part 1]

2. The resurgence of Calvinism in the SBC has been a controversial issue in some ways. What is your perspective on the resurgence in the SBC?

The school of doctrine is one thing. The method of introducing it into a local church and the contentious spirit of many current advocates are other matters of concern. Calvinism has been a nonissue issue among Southern Baptists for so many years most laypersons were not indoctrinated or even aware of its consideration in our ranks. Therefore most pastor search teams have not known to ask a potential pastor about it. Many pastors predisposed toward Calvinism have practiced a policy of don’t ask, don’t tell, and have come in fully aware the church was not committed to the doctrines of Calvinism. They conduct home cell study groups of confidants until they feel they have enough support to introduce it into the mainstream of the church. This has been highly disruptive to many local churches. It is a destructive deception. A potential pastor should be open and clear regarding the issue. The warrior spirit of many young Calvinists in attacking the integrity and intellect of those with whom they disagree is appalling and un-Christ like. Address principles and don’t attack personalities. Don’t try to defend a principle by attempting to destroy the reputation of a person.

Dr. Price says, “Calvinism has been a nonissue issue among Southern Baptists for so many years most laypersons were not indoctrinated or even aware of its consideration in our ranks. Therefore most pastor search teams have not known to ask a potential pastor about it.” Then he says, “Many pastors predisposed toward Calvinism have practiced a policy of don’t ask, don’t tell, and have come in fully aware the church was not committed to the doctrines of Calvinism.” If Calvinism “has been a nonissue issue among Southern Baptists for so many years,” then, of course, many Southern Baptist churches are “not committed to the doctrines of Calvinism.” The question is, should they be committed to certain biblical doctrines that characterize “Calvinism”? An additional question is if “most laypersons” are unaware of Calvinism, then what good does it do for the potential pastor of a church to declare himself to be a Calvinist? Many Southern Baptists only know about Calvinism through gross mischaracterizations such as perpetuated by Dr. Price himself so that if a potential pastor says, “I’m a Calvinist,” then people hear, “I believe God giggles with glee while tossing babies and true saints into Hell.”

However, Dr. Price does raise an important issue. Assuming, for the sake of the present argument, the legitimacy of the common practice of Southern Baptist churches to have “pastor search teams” seek out pastoral candidates whose life-style and teaching is not already thoroughly known to the congregation (the reader may be able to tell that I have some objections to this), how should someone applying for the position present himself? Certainly, we do not want to support any “deception.” This issue was the subject of some discussion at the Building Bridges conference. The best answer seems to be that a potential pastor should present the congregation with a personal statement of faith. If the pastoral candidate is a Calvinist, then the statement will include the “five points of Calvinism” re-written in the individual’s own words. By reading this statement of faith, the congregation can decide whether or not they can support the candidate ministering to them as a pastor.

Finally, Dr. Price addresses the issue of personal attacks. This is another issue we must consider with humble self-examination. The reader can judge whether the bloggers at Strange BaptistFire have engaged in personal attacks or if we have focused on a rational examination of specific statements.

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4 Comments on “Response to NOBTS interview of Dr. Nelson Price, Part 2”

  1. Arthur Sido Says:

    It would seem that having weak doctrinal teaching for so many years has led to church search committees that have no idea what the issues are in soteriology. When interviewing a prospective pastor, their entire doctrinal stance should be examined, rather than the “Are you now or have you ever been a Calvinist?” litmus test.

  2. Barry Says:

    Arthur, you’re joking.

    They ask that of potential pastors?


  3. Barry, I moved your first comment on this post to the last post, as it is more appropriate there.


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