Alvin Reid to the Calvinists in the SBC

Dr. Alvin Reid, new contributor to the best SBC blog on the internet, has written an open letter to the Calvinists in the SBC.  Reid is not a Calvinist, though he is certainly not an anti-Calvinist.  Following Reid’s open letter, Dr. Nathan Finn will respond with an open letter to the non-Calvinists in the SBC.

In his open letter, Reid makes four pleas to Calvinists:

1.  Embrace humility.

You have an obvious hunger for truth and for theological depth, which is commendable. But when your love for truth smacks of condescension, even to the point of arrogance, you do no one any good.

2. Don’t equate Calvinism with the Gospel.

Sometimes I hear Calvinist speakers argue (or at least imply) that Calvinism and the gospel are identical, and if one does not affirm the tenets of Calvinism he denies the gospel. Not only is this theologically arrogant, it is unkind.

3. Don’t hesitate to call sinners to repentance & faith in Christ.

Now whether or not you have an “altar call” at the conclusion of your service is less the issue for me than that some of you fail to give those on whom the Spirit is doing His convicting work the opportunity to follow Christ in some public manner. I would submit some of you are far better at criticizing your brothers who give public calls for decision than at offering a biblical alternative for such calls. Some of you seem to have a practical agnosticism concerning personal conversion.

4. Build bridges by cooperating with non-Calvinists.

In your conferences and other meetings, especially those directed primarily to Southern Baptists, consider involving some speakers who may not agree with you at every point.

I really appreciate what Dr. Reid has written.  As someone who is a Calvinist in the SBC, I receive the open letter as a constructive way to engage a topic that has often resulted in further polarization in an already splintered Convention.  When Nathan’s open letter is posted, I will post a summary of it as well.

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36 Comments on “Alvin Reid to the Calvinists in the SBC”

  1. Justin Wheeler Says:

    Good sound counsel from a committed bother. Thanks for putting this up, i didn’t know about Between the Times.

    On another note, do you know if anyone will be live-blogging the True Church Conference this year?


  2. One slight disagreement with Dr. Reid on plea #3:

    Regarding the public profession of faith, I would argue that the public profession of following Christ is made via the waters of baptism, not the altar call. While the opportunity to “publicly follow” does not necessarily occur at the end of every message, certainly the call for sinners to repent and believe in Jesus is and should always be. Both in word and sacrament, the believer’s baptism should be the place where the good profession is made public to the church, and that public profession is affirmed and celebrated by the church.

    The public profession does not contribute to God’s work in conversion, and making the argument that the lack of opportunity for a person to make a public profession at the end of every service somehow limits the Spirit’s regenerating work in the life of a sinner confuses the constitution of personal conversion.

    On the other hand, however, I believe Reformed churches who do not follow the service with an “altar call” should provide a means for people to receive counsel and prayer should they desire that.

    In other words, I think the non-Calvinists need to be more careful regarding the nature of public professions and the implications that lie therein, and the Calvinists need to be more careful to facilitate the work of God establishing in His kingdom in the hearts of men and women where repentance and faith are found.


    • Jesus gave a public invitation after his proclamation. His most widely used phrase was “He who has ears to hear let him hear.”

      He called people to follow Him where both pulbicly and privately, but mostly publicly. A call to public followship to Jesus was a common practice used by Rabbis and should continue today.

      We are called to profess our faith in Jesus at the start of our journey with Jesus and throughout our entire life. We need more public Christians and less private/closet believers. When Christians stop reaching out it is not long before they are smothered out.

      I say let’s follow in the foot steps of Jesus and give a public invitation. Lost people in whom the Holy Spirit is working will want to respond publicly. That is a characteristic of the Holy Spirit working in a person’s life. The Spirit drove Jesus into the wilderness to fast and pray. He compelled Paul to respond on the Damascus Road.

      I have seen grown men run down the ailse to be saved, during an a time of public commitment. It a public time necessary? Why no. It is biblical? Yes. I am for whatever will get a person committed, soldout to Jesus and publicly professing Jesus publicly for the get-go.


  3. Justin,

    I’m not sure about the live-blogging of TCC. I was asked to do it but am not able to. Are you going?

  4. Jerry Says:

    Good letter from Dr. Reid, and good analysis by Timmy.

    I had to chuckle at the “my way or Yahweh” comment, I hadn’t heard that one before.

    While I appreciate Dr. Reid’s points, I wonder if he would ever allow Calvinists to have their own gatherings, such as T4G, or is he calling for them to open up the podium to all viewpoints. I don’t think that it is wrong to have focused events, just so long as we don’t cloister ourselves away and never join with other brothers. Yes, “Building Bridges” was a great idea, it is too bad that the organizers of the “John 3:16” conference didn’t follow the same model.


  5. Jerry,

    I think your point about T4G is a good one. T4G is a trans-denominational network grounded on Reformed soteriology. Building Bridges was a conference within the SBC to bring consensus to the gospel. In other words, T4G began with a core and reached out across denominations while BB began with reaching within one denomination and searching for a consensus.

    Because the two conferences had different purposes, it makes sense for the makeup of these conferences to be different as well. Both purposes are great, and we should not expect all conferences to follow a monolithic protocol.

  6. Justin Wheeler Says:

    Yes we are taking our wives this year and a few of our ministry directors as well, I’m really looking forward to it as usual. Sorry you can’t make it, guess we’ll have to find another lonely guy to take to lunch with us this year.


  7. Very funny Justin. Who said I was lonely?

    Just kidding. You are going to have to convince TCC folks to make the audio available for free online. Good conferences like this should not be marginalized due to monetary revenue.

    Have fun, and give me all the details, live-blogging style, when you get back.

  8. Bill Says:

    #3 rankles a bit. Unless I see some names and/or churches of Calvinists who don’t do this, I think this only feeds the stereotype. Points 1 and 2 are well taken. Making point 3 makes accomplishing point 4 more difficult.

  9. alvin reid Says:

    Thanks Timmy. On your slight disagreement to point three: not a problem. I know that is an area that came up a lot in discussions following Building Bridges. We can agree to differ some of us on this and still come together under the banner of the Great Commission. By the way, and I certainly should have said that, I agree that baptism is the publc profession of faith.

    I can already say from the response I have received personally today that many, many are ready to agree to differ on some things but are much more motivated to truly, to borrow a phrase, come together for the gospel :-).

  10. alvin reid Says:

    public not publc. that coould be missread in an embarrassing way!


  11. Dr. Reid,

    Thanks for the comment(s). I totally agree. While Calvinists have been in error to equate five-points of Calvinism with the Gospel, non-Calvinists have equated evangelism with an altar call or public profession.

    Much grief has been given to Reformed churches who do not practice the invitation system, as though that is the only time and manner in which people are saved. I think this is a good example of how one’s theology drives one’s methodology (or sadly in some cases, how one’s methodology drives one’s theology(!)).

    One of the tensions we face under the umbrella of a Great Commission Resurgence is when and how differences lead to counter-productive results on both sides. I would argue that decisional regeneration and the altar call from the 1950’s onward has in large part fostered the demise of regenerate church membership and increase of nominalism; on the other hand, while I don’t know of any hyper-Calvinists in the SBC, I know there are “functional hyper-Calvinists” out there not “calling all men everywhere to repent.”

    I think that how we address those tensions and work together through an underlying commitment to the gospel will factor in the long-term outgrowth of the Great Commission Resurgence.


  12. I’m stuck on point #2. I think I understand what Reid is saying, but the whole reason for affirming Calvinism is to affirm certain things about the Gospel. Isn’t it?


  13. Jeremy,

    I would like to hear more from Dr. Reid’s perspective too. Nathan Finn has written about this distinction from a Calvinist point-of-view as well. I will see if I can find his blogposts somewhere.

    I think an example of this would be, for instance, affirming the doctrine of substitutionary atonement as the heart of the Gospel. Both Calvinists and non-Calvinists must agree to this or the Gospel is lost. Now, the question then comes to how does each theological tradition understand substitutionary atonement? I would like to know how a non-Calvinist embraces substitutionary atonement and rejects definite atonement (I would say “limited,” but non-Calvinists believe in limited atonement, except they limit it in a different way). I know they do, but I would like that to be spelled out. As they do, I think you would see the distinction between Calvinism and the Gospel. Does that make sense?

  14. Les Puryear Says:

    Timmy,

    I think if Dr. Reid’s perspective would be adopted by all non-Calvinists in the SBC, we wouldn’t have a problem.

    Thank you to Dr. Reid for a fair and balanced view.

    Looking forward to the same from Nathan.

    Les


  15. “Both Calvinists and non-Calvinists must agree to this or the Gospel is lost.”

    But Mr. Reid has already said that this is not going to happen, at least with him.

    “I think you would see the distinction between Calvinism and the Gospel.”

    Exactly, and does that mean that Mr. Reid’s non-Calvinism is the Gospel?

    And would he agree, that if that is not the case, and the Gospel is the primary organizing principal of cooperation, that someone needs to define the Gospel? Or, does it really matter what the Gospel is because soteriology is in question? I find it quite incredible that a Gospel association would say that the doctrines of salvation are secondary and not primary to the Gospel. That is precisely what Mr. Reid is advocating, however. Interesting message the world hears, then, when one says “Christ died for you,” but he really doesn’t know how one is saved.

    Is Mr Reid pledging to cease teaching as truth, opinions that he privately holds? Would he submit himself to “…speak as oracles of God”? Does he believe that his Gospel is the Gospel? Or, when Jesus expounded all that the Scripture had to say about him, was Jesus saying that it wasn’t all the Gospel?

    Something tells me that when he wants Calvinists following in the footsteps of those like Spurgeon who held that the DoG are the Gospel, to quit saying so, he really doesn’t mean what he said about following in their footsteps. Rather, he wishes they wouldn’t.

    Unlike Whitefield who never reconciled his differences with Wesley, nor tempered his condemnation of Wesley’s teaching, nor cooperatively worked GC mandates again with him, the SBC cooperative effort is founded upon a different ethos of allowing for personal beliefs and private interpretation. Ostensibly, it upholds the values of soul competency and liberty of conscience… except when it comes to the right to denounce false beliefs, or at least call for the ceasing of teaching beliefs which are not necessarily the truth. For there to be true liberty of conscience, at least the way the SBC defines it, one must hold to the right to voice such differences- and the condemnations.

    The Arminian faction (non-Calvinists) hold for themselves such a right but are stingy in granting that right to others. From either perspective, withholding the right of condemnation of certain beliefs, or, withholding the right to demand that only truth be taught as doctrine, is not liberty of conscience at all. For if one is compelled to uphold the authority of Scripture, and the things taught in it, and thereby its inerrency, that is, if one is compelled by the love of God to preach and teach the Gospel and that Gospel, they are convinced, is the DoG, and are convinced they are to demand that others are silenced for not holding sound doctrine as Paul commanded Timothy, (Mr. Reid’s inferred assertion is that it is Biblically sound to hold false doctrine as a matter of liberty), and the cooperative spirit is that we have right to such beliefs which would allow us to use such rhetoric, why then the negative reaction to criticism? A truly open and fully embracing cooperation would grow thick skin, not pamper and encourage baby-bottom softness. Instead of naked warriors, it would encourage men of sound mind, mature and fully dressed in the armor of God. That in reality has been the downfall of the fundamentalist conservative/liberalism in the SBC, a “can’t we all just get a long” mentality played out in “if you know what is good for you, keep silent about certain matters.” Of course, that only holds true for those who don’t carry the big schtick.


  16. Les,

    Exactly. Dr. Reid and other non-Calvinists at SEBTS have set the tone for an excellent discussion and dialogue.

  17. Kevin Says:

    Timmy,

    As always, a thoughtful and engaging post. I certainly agree with the heart in which Dr. Reid’s letter is written. I’m glad he somewhat clarified #3 by stating that public profession is through baptism, not the altar call. It would be nice if there were an addendum to his letter on this point, but I’m not that wrankled by it, personally.

    I do look forward to Nathan Finn’s response and trust it will be with the same heart. Hopefully, he will include a rejoinder similar to #2 toward the non-Calvinist rhetoric of framing Calvinism as “God creating people to send them to Hell.” That’s just not helpful and acts as a poison pill to any discussion on the subject.

  18. ChrisB Says:

    Thomas said: “does that mean that Mr. Reid’s non-Calvinism is the Gospel?”

    I think most non-Calvinists will say that we are free to build our theories and theologies as we see fit as long as we preserve the core of the gospel in tact — namely, sin, atonement on the cross, bodily resurrection, and the judgement.


  19. Timmy,

    I think I understand where Reid is coming from, and I have some sympathy for his concern. The Gospel itself is paramount and not my understanding of the Gospel.

    However, if I have been convinced by Scripture that Christ’s death is particular in nature (and since I think both you and I will agree that a substitution only works if there is something to be substituted for), my question is, “Why should I back away from what I believe about the Atonement as a central part of the Gospel?” Because we’re not talking about something peripheral to the Gospel when we talk about the Atonement.

    Maybe I am nit-picking a little, but I still hope either Finn or Reid will address this.


  20. […] 4 Pleas to Calvinists in the SBC Alvin Reid, Between the Times (HT: Timmy Brister […]


  21. Thomas,

    Let me give you an example of the difference between the five points of Calvinism and the Gospel. Tom Ascol and myself are convinced five-point Calvinists, and we preach the Gospel every time we deliver a sermon at Grace. However, you will not find the five points elaborated in our presentation of the gospel.

    The doctrines of grace inform my understanding of the Gospel, but it is not the Gospel in and of itself. When Spurgeon said that Calvinism is the Gospel, I take him to simply say that it is the fullest articulation of the Gospel, not to be taken synonymously.

    I am more concerned that we understand the Gospel accomplished by Christ alone by grace alone through faith alone and to the glory of God alone. When it comes to cooperation and consensus, I am interested in beginning here (and I think Dr. Reid would as well).


  22. Jeremy,

    I understand your concerns. Calvinists should not shy away or back down from their beliefs regarding the Gospel. For the sake of the discussion, would it be okay to think of the Gospel in more theologically generic sense than the doctrines of grace without changing it or watering it down?


  23. I’m a little bit afraid of generic theology. 🙂

    I get what you’re saying. I just don’t want truth to be lost in the discussion, which is what happens a lot of times when we try to build a consensus, for example, ECT. Not that I am drawing a comparison between this discussion and that movement.


  24. “When Spurgeon said that Calvinism is the Gospel, I take him to simply say that it is the fullest articulation of the Gospel, not to be taken synonymously.”

    And I would fully concur. But that isn’t what the non-Calvinists say. We can look at statements that Allen and others have made which reject the fulness of the doctrines of grace as the Gospel, ergo, my question, when considering all there can be said of the Gospel, is the non-Calvinist Gospel it? And, if they are free to condemn others who think otherwise, then where is the freedom they ostensibly hold to as Southern Baptists for others to do likewise?

    My point is simply this, if I believe the DoG is the Gospel (short or full form) and believe that the non-Calvinist Gospel is not, can I say so? Or is it just a shell game, that claim to liberty of conscience?

    Spurgeon would also say: “The doctrine of Election is God’s purposing in His heart that He would make some men better than other men; that He would give to some men more grace than to other men; that some should come out and receive the mercy; that others, left to their own free will, should reject it; that some should gladly accept the invitations of mercy, while others, of their own accord, stubbornly refuse the mercy to which the whole world of mankind is invited. All men, by nature, refuse the invitations of the gospel. God, in the sovereignty of His grace, makes a difference by secretly inclining the hearts of some men, by the power of His Holy Spirit, to partake of His everlasting mercy in Christ Jesus. I am certain that, whether we are Calvinists or Arminians, if our hearts are right with God, we shall all adoringly testify: “We love Him, because He first loved us.” If that be not Election, I know not what it is.”

    Can I insist that regeneration precedes trusting in Christ and the confession of faith and remain Gospel centered SBC?

    “God has sent the Bible into a mixed world, and the gospel is to be preached in ” all the world”, and “to every creature.” “Yes,” they say, “preach the gospel, but not these special truths of the gospel…”

    If Spurgeon held that these were special truths of the Gospel to be generally preached as the Gospel, then, even though he might say the DoG is the fullest expression of it, he also understood that any part of it was the Gospel, also.

    “We should have each doctrine of Scripture in its proper place, and preach it fully; and if we want to have a genuine revival of religion, we must preach these doctrines of Jehovah’s sovereign grace again and again. Do not tell me they will not bring revivals. There was but one revival that I have ever heard of, apart from Calvinistic doctrine, and that was the one in which Wesley took so great a part; but then George Whitefield was there also to preach the whole Word of God. When people are getting sleepy, if you want to arouse and wake them up thoroughly, preach the doctrine of Divine Sovereignty to them; for that will do it right speedily.”

    To Spurgeon’s credit he recognized that the revival that Wesley enjoyed was not the result only of Wesley’s preaching, but Whitefield’s. To be noted, if the DoG is not the Gospel to Spurgeon, then what pray tell, was the substance of Whitefield’s message? Spurgeon is too clear, it was these special doctrines of grace which were indeed the Gospel that brings revival. If some want to claim that the SBC is just another Wesleyan society, fine, I can sing John’s songs beside them, though I might sing them with a Swiss accent. Still, I will insist that Wesleyan grace is insufficient to save just as Whitefield did.

    So, I reject Reid’s offer. For he himself would not agree to remain silent and his doctrine considered non-Gospel, now would he? And I would not expect him to. In fact, the one thing above all that I said, is that we, if we are convinced as to the veracity of Scripture, must say so. If it is mere opinion that Reid holds to, why would he consider it important at all? I applaud him and his peers for their insistence in the veracity of their claims. But is he saying that his opinions which he is not convinced of are the truth while truth that others are convinced of, is not? Upon what basis? If he does not know which is true, how can he know which is false. If he does not know, why the defense of his position against those who say it is false? And just what is the doctrinal expression in discipleship? Does he think both should be taught as equals in the SBC, or, does he expect that Calvinism will not be taught in Arminian churches? If equals with no superior truth claim one over the other, then why not expose the laity SBC wide to both opinions, and why not tell all that they are merely opinions, that each must decide for himself which to believe, and that they are not necessarily Bible truths?

    And that is not the end of it. For cooperation to truly happen we must have the freedom to freely speak our minds fully upon the subject as Spurgeon said and we must not hesitate to declare it as the Gospel we believe and all others pretenders. Or, what we have is a compromised faith for we have no faith at all. And, while we can compromise for the sake of cooperation by laying those differences aside for the expansion of the kingdom in the mechanics and logistics of convention life, we cannot proclaim to the world that we have the authoritative word of God on our side if we among ourselves agree that we don’t know what it says. It is best to let the world see the contestation of truths, to hear of infalibility of the Scripture, then to keep silent for the sake of peace leaving the questions to doubt. We should be able to be mature, and if slapped on one cheek to offer the other by the defense of the Gospel as truth, even if it is a cooperative member slapping another.

    Chris- “we are free to build our theories and theologies as we see fit”- this is what we do, but no, the Scripture does not allow that freedom. It is the freedom which is the basis of the cooperative agreement and there is no other means by which autonmous churches without a defined confession, can operate (the BFM is not a requirement of cooperation but merely loosely stated principles). My question would be: what does atonement mean? That is like what Timmy asked about substitution. These questions are fundamental to the Gospel, just as much as it is necessary to ask a Mormon what he means by his gospel, who is Jesus, what is blood atonement, or how is one saved? They have the terminology, but in reality, are their definitions compatible with Scripture? If we are to be people of the Book, then it shouldn’t be hard, should it, for us to find out what the Book says, if indeed it is the final rule of faith? And, if we cannot determine what it says, then, shouldn’t we have integrity to not teach it as doctrine? The Scriptures are clear that we are not to build with faulty materials, that we are to edify by speaking the truth in love. So, where is the love in speaking opinions as truth? See, first we must establish the truth, then speak it. Scripture does not allow for latitude. We do, when discussing matters in question. But as long as they remain in question, they are not doctrine and Paul forbade that anything other than sound doctrine to be committed to the saints. There is no Great Commission if we cannot determine what it is that Jesus taught his disciples to both keep and do. It is far better to admit ignorance and humbly accept the ingrafting of what is true, than to play the game of fools. Why waste the time on either side of the fense, at SWBS, or SWBTS, indulging in questions unaswerable, at all? Why does either side defend themselves? You see there must be something about it that we believe indispensible, be it Calvinism or Arminianism, or it would truly be secondary, pop theory. But I have yet to see one Arminian throw in the towel, trash their papers and sermons and renounce ever speaking of such foolish arguments again. No, the fact is they believe their doctrine to be Gospel and tenaciously cling to it. I wouldn’t have it any other way.


  25. Jeremy,

    What I mean by generic is that there are foundational truths to the gospel which both Calvinists and non-Calvinists agree to (I admit that self-described “non-Calvinists” is really an empty term in and of itself; better to say Arminian I guess). For example, can you be evangelical not be a Calvinist? Yes. Can you be Roman Catholic and be an evangelical? No.

    Somewhere we draw the lines and say this is the biblical view of the gospel, and while I believe the doctrines of grace to give the fullest exposition of the gospel, the gospel and the doctrines of grace cannot be conflated or equivocated to mean essentially the same thing. I don’t believe you are losing or minimizing doctrines when we do this; rather we are saying that there are grand truths that are foundational to the gospel message that are adhered to by various evangelical traditions upon which their theological expositions are superstructures. Does that make sense?


  26. Thomas,

    Your comments are characteristically long, and I doubt people will read (or engage) all you have said. You reject Dr. Reid’s offer. Fine. Let me tell you why I accept it.

    Should all self-respecting five-point Calvinists get together and discuss the finer points of theology (say the ordus salutis, infra/supra/subla-lapsarianism, etc.), I guarantee you that there would be disagreements among them. The more precise and nuanced you become, the more splintered even the most convinced groups become. Take that and reduce it to absurdity, and you get my point.

    Therefore, as a follower of Christ, I determine where I am going to take my stand with fellow Christians. Am I doing to draw the line at doctrines of grace and cooperate only with Calvinists? NO. I am convinced there will be more people in heaven than Calvinists, and consequently I should not live contrary to that fact.

    With one Lord, one faith, and one baptism, we all have one gospel to believe and to preach. There isn’t a Calvinist gospel and an Arminian gospel; there is only the Christian gospel, and it is there where I take my stand, lock arms with fellow believers (Calvinist and Arminian), and say, “Let us resolve to do nothing less than preach Christ and Him crucified.”

    If we cannot do that, then God help us. I can debate and defend (and have in the past) the precious truths of the doctrines of grace all day long, but I don’t build my ministry off polemics but proclamation. I encourage all believers, regardless of their theological stripes, to do the same as well.


  27. You make sense. I’m still not sure where I would fall though.

    On the one hand I don’t think Calvinists are the sole guardians of the Gospel. As a matter of fact, I think some Calvinists obscure the Gospel with TULIP.

    On the other hand, like you, I believe that Calvinism does give the fullest expression to the Gospel. As such, I have a hard time separating the great truths expressed by TULIP from the Gospel.


  28. Jeremy,

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts. The tensions and questions we face are important and should be glossed over; however, more than that, our love for one another and shared commitment to faithful gospel witness should be even greater. If I err, let me err there. After having preached Jesus with my non-Calvinist brother, then we can sit down over some Southern Baptist fried chicken (okay maybe grilled instead) and have a healthy discussion on different points. At least that’s the way I’m proceeding.

  29. D.L. Kane Says:

    After being introduced to the doctrines of grace, my relationship to the Lord and my understanding of God increased in leaps and bounds. I now find it difficult to not jump into the beauty and glory of God’s sovereignty (even with a lost sinner) right after I have shared with them what Christ actually accomplished on the Cross and why it was necessary. I think at times we forget from where we came.

    I think of Christ’s words as He hung on the cross: “And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise.” I can be pretty certain that the man He was talking to did not know or understand TULIP.

    I also think of Paul’s word’s: “The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains. But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice.”

  30. D.L. Kane Says:

    Dissecting the legitmacy of the grace of God in the heart of men, under the microscope of “doctrinal understanding” can be dangerous business.

    There is a difference between growing in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ versus being reconciled to God through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

    Timmy – You are still not off the hook regarding “Where you were going” with that previous post” (Smiling).

    D.L. Kane

  31. Kevin Says:

    Timmy,

    “but I don’t build my ministry off polemics but proclamation.”

    Well said, and a nice use of alliteration…


  32. Timmy said: I admit that self-described “non-Calvinists” is really an empty term in and of itself; better to say Arminian I guess

    Why is this so? Would it be accurate to call someone like, say, myself, Bruce Ware, Russell Moore, or even Alvin Reid “Arminians” simply because we do not hold all five points? That’s like calling many Calvinists “hyper” when it is quite obvious they don’t hold to hyper-Calvinism.

    This is another caution many Calvinists ignore or simply forget about.


  33. Stephen,

    Point taken. What I am referring to more specifically in the SBC are those are “one point” Calvinists, that usually being a point redefined (eternal security rather than perseverance of the saints).

    Referring to oneself as a non-_________ does not make it easy to have a conversation. It is, to me, a nebulous title with no precommitments, so how can Calvinists have conversations with people who do not say anything positive about what they believe/affirm regarding their soteriological position (except for other nondescript terms like “biblicist”)?

    I know where you, Ware, Akin, & Reid stand for the most part. However, even with all the confessions of Southern Baptists, I am more convinced that the elder generation is less confessional and more pragmatic, thus making doctrinal consensus even more difficult because it is viewed as cumbersome and divisive rather than consensus building and constructive.


  34. […] Brister recently summarized the letters for us here and here, and there is a lot of good discussion on Dr. Reid’s letter at his blog.  I would […]


  35. 1. “Embrace humility.” Interesting. It’s a good admonition for all and hardly a marked distinction of Calvinists aside from others. I have a brother in Christ who is not a Calvinist (I’m a 5-pointer) but with whom I study the scriptures occasionally and have debated this with him from time to time. When the subjects of will and choice, or God’s election and predestination comes up in our studies he has been quick to jump on his soapbox and quickly espouse his non-Calvinist views in a way that would seem to most to be rather condescending. I’m generally slow to debate this when the subject arises since we have been over the territory before.

    I’ve read and heard many non-Calvinists who seem to be condescending, but I’m slow to condemn them as such. It’s more a matter of frustration with the theological tension that generates such passion in our thoughts and I don’t necessarily see it as a bad thing when such passion is borne of a desire to know God better.


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