Monday, November 10, 2008

Southern Baptists and Calvinism (cont.)

Michael Spencer had the following to say about the recent John 3:16 Conference:

The fundamentalists who run the Southern Baptist Convention are after the Calvinists again. Obviously despairing that the “Building Bridges Conference” didn’t give the right preachers the opportunity to call Calvinists the right names, and faced with nagging possibility that out and out lies don’t go over as well when the guys you’re lying about are present in large numbers, the fundamentalists had a “John 3:16″ Conference at SBC President Johnny Hunt’s church. Speakers preached about the five points of Calvinism and straightened everyone out.

No recordings are posted, but Calvinistic live-bloggers were present (See their posts at My favorite part is the Caner Contention; the continual denial that Southern Baptists have any theological heritage at all except what the Bible says. We aren’t Arminians or Calvinists or anything else, they say. We’re just plain ‘ol Bible believing Baptists. Biblicists.

Bring up those crickets, Van Til. Thank you.

That’s a lie from anyone who says it. Not ignorance. Lying. They all know better.
I’m not a Calvinist, and some Calvinists ought to be put far, far away from the rest of us. But in general, the Calvinists in the SBC are more Gospel-centered and missionary than the rest of the convention. (Guess what seminary has sent the most IMB missionary candidates to the field the last decade? Yep, Southern. Where, of course, they can’t believe in missions. (jn)

The John 3:16 crowd is a sloppy bunch when it comes to scholarship, as Justin Taylor deftly and embarassingly demonstrates on his blog. Just about their every sentence at this kind of meeting makes an informed student of theology pause and wince. But they have Jerry Vines on their side, hawking his products and telling you what the greek really means.

Really, this is silly. Just silly. Calvinists in the SBC are doing far more good than harm, and the truth is that the fundamentalists need someone to blame for the fact that Jerry Falwell-style Evangelicalism is falling apart. One live-blogger said that 90% of the audience was middle-aged and over. That’s your problem old white guys: younger SBCers aren’t even listening to you anymore. You are talking to yourselves.


SS News said...

If anyone is interested in audio recordings I have them from every session (nothing said this was prohibited) so I can email them to you. Just email me at or comment on my blog at (where I am also reviewing and responding to each presenter). Thanks.

Pete Morris said...

This attitude sounds way too familiar. John 3:16 doesn't change anything about God's sovereignty - "whosoever" is still "whosoever." I get confused easily and only want to know "Why can't we all just get-a-long?"

rmkton said...

love this line..."We’re just plain ‘ol Bible believing Baptists."

When someone says "I am (or am not) a (fill in the blank here)...but simply follow the Bible", it makes me know that whoever said it really has very little idea as to what the Bible says or means....or has any idea of the cultural and linguistic filters we bring when we read it. It is not that easy. That is why we have hermeneutics and systems of theology...which leads to other problems/issues.


Todd Pruitt said...


Unfortunately because of sloppy scholarship and outright distortions some of the speakers at the conference do not understand that those of us who are reformed believe firmly that EVERYONE who believes will be saved.

It is also interesting to note the guardedness and in some cases secrecy of the John 3:16 conference compared to the opennes of the Building Bridges conference (and T4G as well). It is also interesting to note that some of the speakers at John 3:16 hold very different views about God's sovereignty and foreknowlege. Of course when you organize a conference for the purpose of stating what you are against then you end up juggling a real hodge podge of opinions.

Harley A. said...

Agree with Mike. When someone says "I just agree with the Bible", the next logical question is, "OK, what does it say?".

Pete Morris said...

God's glory, God's ultimate end: God's chief end is to be known in all His glory. The watershed / "continental divide in theology. If you believe this then the rivers of your thinking run toward God. If you do not, all the rivers run toward man." (Piper)

Too bad reading is not the sixth sense, so many great scholars could save a multitude from "leaning on their own understanding."

Mainline Mom said...

Todd, I am not a theology student, just a former member of COS searching for the right church home in Houston. When I first heard you were coming from a baptist church I admit I was a bit disappointed because I felt COS had already lost too many of their pastors of the "reformed" belief. I've been delighted to learn that you fall on that side, and through your links I've had my eyes opened to the existance of "reformed" baptists, something I thought was an oxymoron. I'm sad to hear about such division in the church such as the John 3:16 conference. In the meantime I have set aside my denominational preferences here in Houston while I search for a church.

Harley A. said...

Mainline mom -

I lived in Houston (before moving back to Wichita and returning to Metro East) and attended Grace Reformed Baptist Church. If you happen to be in the Kingwood area, I can highly recommend it.

Unfortunately, most Baptists think "reformed Baptist" is an oxymoron too! But if you study our history at even a cursory level, you'll find we have a strong reformed heritage.

Good luck in finding a church home !

Todd Pruitt said...

mainline mom,

I wish I could recommend a church in Houston for you. I am sure there are some good ones. My best friend struggles to stay at his church because of the lack of faithful biblical exposition.

Harley is right. There was a time that to be Baptist almost assured that you were reformed. The Southern Baptist Covention was founded by men who were reformed. Alas...

Mainline Mom said...

Thanks so much for the recommendation, but I'm in the Katy area and Kingwood would be a bit far.