Statement on Calvinism draws approval, criticism [Excerpts]
A group of current and former Southern Baptist leaders has signed a statement affirming what they call the "traditional Southern Baptist" understanding of the doctrine of salvation, with the goal of drawing a distinction with the beliefs of "New Calvinism."
The statement was posted May 31 at SBCToday.com and includes a preamble and 10 articles, along with signatures from two entity presidents (Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary's Paige Patterson and New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary's Chuck Kelley), four state executive directors (Georgia's Bob White, Mississippi's Jim Futral, Louisiana's David Hankins, Alaska's Mike Procter), and in addition to Patterson, five other former SBC presidents (Bailey Smith, Jimmy Draper, Jerry Vines, Morris Chapman and Bobby Welch).
The document was titled, "A Statement of the Traditional Southern Baptist Understanding of God's Plan of Salvation."
"For the most part, Southern Baptists have been glad to relegate disagreements over Calvinism to secondary status along with other important but 'non-essential' theological matters," the document reads in the preamble. "The Southern Baptist majority has fellowshipped happily with its Calvinist brethren while kindly resisting Calvinism itself. And, to their credit, most Southern Baptist Calvinists have not demanded the adoption of their view as the standard. We would be fine if this consensus continued, but some New Calvinists seem to be pushing for a radical alteration of this long-standing arrangement."
The document further asserts that the "vast majority of Southern Baptists are not Calvinists and that they do not want Calvinism to become the standard view in Southern Baptist life."
"We believe it is time to move beyond Calvinism as a reference point for Baptist soteriology," the statement reads. Soteriology is the study of the doctrine of salvation.