The Building Bridges conference kicked off well today. Unfortunately, I arrived in Asheville just late enough to miss David Dockery's sesssion. I look forward to getting the CD. However, I was able to hear Tom Nettles' address on the historic union of Calvinism and Baptists. I would love every Southern Baptist to hear this address (see the post "Building Bridges 1"). Nettles, who teaches at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary is one of the world's foremost authorities on Baptist history.
He offered eight assertions:
1. Baptist Calvinists are most consistent in their affirmation of biblical innerancy. If we are to affirm the verbal, plenary inspiration of Scripture then we must affirm that God's free will trumps man's free will (only Calvinism upholds this truth). How can we trust the full inspiration and innerancy of the Bible if God was not free to overcome the "free will" of the human authors and cause them to write just as He decreed? Only Calvinism upholds "compatibility" or "concurrance" - the biblical position that God's total sovereignty is compatible or runs concurrant with human responsibility.
2. Baptist Calvinists have an intrinsic dependence upon the Trinity. Only Calvinism consistently upholds the unbreakable nature of purpose and action within the Trinity. In other words, what the Father decrees, the Son successfully accomplishes, and the Spirit unfailingly applies. In other theological systems, that union is broken. What the Father decrees, the Son does not necessarily accomplish. What the Son accomplishes the Spirit does not always apply.
3. Baptist Calvinists are consistent in their affirmation of the substitutionary atonement of Christ.
4. Baptist Calvinists have consistently affirmed religious liberty. Faith cannot be coerced since it is a gift of God.
5. Baptist Calvinists have consistently championed missions and evangelism. Nettles cited such luminaries as William Carey, Adinirum Judson, Luther Rice, John Dagg, and Charles Spurgeon. The founders of the Southern Baptist Convention were uniformly Calvinistic. They founded the denomination for the sake of missions and evangelism. How can the doctrine of the founders of the largest Protestant denomination in the world be condemned as anti-evangelistic?
6. Baptist Calvinists are consistent advocates of Christ-centered preaching. They hold unswervingly to the fact that the Gospel is God’s power unto salvation for all who believe (Romans 1:16). So, it is in the preaching of Christ and Him crucified which leads to genuine conversion. The manipulative mischief which came of age in the days of Finney and are still nourished in many evangelical churches have all been birthed by systems other than Calvinism.
7. Baptist Calvinists are consistent advocates of personal holiness. Because regeneration (the new birth) is entirely a work of God’s sovereign grace, it cannot but produce genuine transformation.
8. Baptists Calvinists are consistent advocates of regenerate church membership. It is the Calvinists within the Southern Baptist Convention from which the calls for a new commitment to regenerate church membership are coming.