Calvinism in the Southern Baptist Convention

I do not typically repost other articles, but this one needs to be seen and read by many.  This is NOT about being “anti-Calvinistic.” It is about brethren having two different, well established soteriological perspectives of the scripture, but only one of those perspectives being represented well by those in authority.

Please take a minute to read this article and leave your comments:

Demoralizing Doctrinal Discrimination

Originally posted at

by: Dr. Rick Patrick | Senior Pastor
First Baptist Church, Sylacauga, AL

At the Southern Baptist Convention this past week, one did not have to look hard to find examples of doctrinal bias in favor of Calvinism over Traditionalism. The latter view is summarized in a doctrinal statement that nearly a thousand Southern Baptists have signed and that still remains available for signing today.

For practical purposes, we may simply define Traditionalism as the salvation doctrine espoused by all three primary confessors of The Baptist Faith and Message—Mullins in 1925, Hobbs in 1963 and Rogers in 2000. Traditionalism is therefore a view that many Southern Baptists embrace, although you would not know it based on the promotions, speakers, books, curricula and leadership panels highlighted at the Southern Baptist Convention.

As a White Anglo-Saxon Protestant, I am rather unused to “playing the victim” as some have called it, or appealing for the redress of discrimination against me and my causes or beliefs. However, I can honestly say that when I walk through the convention halls today (compared with fifteen years ago, for example) I absolutely feel like a stranger in a strange land. I feel out of place in my own denomination.

I am not being divisive. I am being forgotten, marginalized and alienated. This convention wants my money, or at least the money of my church, but it appears unwilling to give significant “face time” to leaders, authors, speakers and resources that support and strengthen Southern Baptists with convictions like mine. Below are only a few examples of this demoralizing doctrinal discrimination.

1. Pastor’s Conference Book Promotions—80% Calvinist
A section in the Pastor’s Conference program entitled By the Book promoted five specific authors—one Traditionalist and four Calvinists. Of the four Calvinists, only two were Southern Baptist. All four, however, have been very active in The Gospel Coalition. Calvinists outside the convention are being offered a greater platform than Traditionalists inside the convention who are paying the bills.

2. ERLC Leadership Posts—100% Calvinist
This encroachment of TGC into Southern Baptist life did not begin last week. It is reminiscent of Russell Moore’s first day at the ERLC in 2013, when he hired five people, only two of whom were Southern Baptists. (All five, of course, were active in The Gospel Coalition.) The message is loud and clear—leadership positions and book deals are not for the Traditional Southern Baptists who have given their time and money for many years, but are instead reserved for all the Johnny-come-lately members of The Gospel Coalition, whether or not they are even Southern Baptist.

3. Send North America Conference Speakers—100% Calvinist
Promotional posters for the upcoming Send North America Conference sponsored by NAMB featured an “All Calvinism—All The Time” lineup of five speakers. Not one Southern Baptist Traditionalist was able to slip through the cracks and push his way onto the promotional poster. One of the five speakers is not Southern Baptist, but all of them, of course, are Calvinists and members of The Gospel Coalition—which, by the way, excludes Southern Baptists like me by means of a doctrinal statement that is far more restrictive than The Baptist Faith and Message.

4. LifeWay Curricula Promotional Hype—95% Calvinist
In the LifeWay presentation, much time was devoted to promoting only one of LifeWay’s four curricula—The Gospel Project. The creative team behind The Gospel Project is far more Calvinistic than those involved in the other curricula. Messengers were also shown a lengthy video promoting The Gospel Project. Its popularity was reported by means of subscription statistics. No other LifeWay curriculum was featured in this way, although the resource was briefly discussed. The popularity statistics of no other curriculum were cited. Apparently, our Calvinist produced resources received 95% of the attention while our Traditionalist produced resources remained virtually invisible by comparison.

The usual response from Calvinists when I gingerly raise my hand and point out these glaring examples of doctrinal bias is to be scolded for my feelings of discrimination and alienation as if I were the problem. “Stop being so divisive!” “Quit stirring up trouble and unite for the gospel!” “It’s all about the Kingdom!” “There is no ‘us’ and ‘them.’” “Who cares about this when lost people are dying?”

History is filled with examples of people being discriminated against, marginalized or overlooked who, when they raise their grievance and ask for it to be redressed, are simply blamed for speaking up in the first place. While I am resigned to being treated in this fashion, it is nevertheless true that bias of any kind is demoralizing. If SBC leaders care about people like me, they have a strange way of showing it.

36 thoughts on “Calvinism in the Southern Baptist Convention

  1. 1. Start a coalition to educate Southern Baptists about what Calvin REALLY believed about salvation, which would be totally shocking to most Southern Baptists. B. Stop sending your money to the convention.

    You are funding a false gospel, and I am not talking about election, I am talking about progressive justification.

  2. The Puritans of the 1600’s tried to stay in the hierarchical “Convention” of their day – a.k.a., the Anglican Church – to try to “fix” it. It didn’t work. The Separatists came out of that “Convention” and blazed trails for God in both England and the New World. My suggestion: Do what dear old Dr. B. R. Lakin said he finally had to do. He said, “I just mounted my hoss, tipped my hat, and slowly rode away!” speaking of his becoming an Independent Fundamental Baptist. Doctors Lee Roberson, John R. Rice, and Lester Roloff did the same. Not too shabby a list, in my opinion! I know some IFB leaders, such as Jack Schapp, have given the IFB movement a black eye in recent years; but I still believe we are closer to New Testament ecclesiology, soteriology, and eschatology than any other. So, my invitation is to “come on in; the water’s fine!” God bless you and your ministry, my Brother! 🙂

    1. The Puritans were Calvinists, the Anglicans that they were trying to “fix” were Arminian.

  3. This is a fantastic article, though I would replace “traditionalism” with another term. What you’re arguing for is not “old time religion,” or an understanding of the scripture that is less-than-intellectual. Rather, you’re arguing for a specific belief about how men and women are saved. I’m not a seminarian, and don’t know the proper word for this, but having walked with Christ for over 20 years now, I intuitively know the concept you’re promoting.

    THANK YOU for doing so.

  4. Rick:

    I spent 40 years of my life as Southern Baptist. I am no longer a SB. I am confident I am not missed. IMO, the Southern Baptist leaders have made their feelings loud and clear about Calvinism and will not miss you and your church if you should opt out of the Southern Baptist Convention.

  5. Wow! This is so disconcerting! Thanks for your bold message. This is a fight that many must take up. Most people really don’t know how unbiblical Calvinism is. It supports another gospel, another Jesus and another grace. Stand and fight brother! Reveal the truth about Calvinism.

    1. Calvinism “supports” Sola Fide (by faith alone), Sola Scriptura (by Scripture alone), Solus Christus (through Christ alone), Sola Gratia (by grace alone), Soli Deo Gloria (glory to God alone). Which of these do you oppose, or do you oppose all of them?

      1. The Problem is that Calvinism Redefines dozens of key biblical terms to make it fit with Calvinism. As one apologist put it they use the same vocabulary but have a different dictionary.

        They deny God’s love for the whole World, that Jesus died for All, that God is absolutely holy and does not decree evil or pre-ordain evil so that it comes to pass, they affirm rapes are God’s pre-determined plan and they bring Him Glory. They affirm God’s hatred of most people and only wanting them in Hell having never loved the vast majority. They affirm that God never REALLY gives most people a chance to experience His love, and that God does this on purpose through election. There are dozens more issues that go contrary to the Word of God but are essential for consistent Calvinism.

        Calvinism has it’s roots in Gnosticism and Augustine was the first one to bring Gnostic ideas into the church. Up until 400 AD those same teachings were rejected by the early church fathers and called a heresy. But Augustine brought it in and renamed it with Christian terms this is what we call syncretism.
        On the surface Calvinism sounds biblical but when you really understand it, it has pagan roots of determinism found in the Gnostics and Stocis of the early church days. You need to go deeper than the propaganda language that used. One must understand the Worldview of Calvinism. It is really not biblical on many issues. Some are but many key ones are not.

  6. I have never found where Jesus, or any other in scripture, says that a declaration of your position on this topic is essential to a relationship with Jesus Christ. I lean more to the traditional but would not like to fight over it. What I find deeply disturbing is the fact that you are “divisive” or “stirring up trouble” when you don’t agree! This seems to be a new kind of tolerance. Tolerance being defined as: You have to accept the way I think or you are intolerant and when I don’t accept your rights to think for yourself, YOU are still intolerant and divisive.

    1. Gia, this is not a new tolerance. This is the same tolerance used thirty years ago to say women should not be ministers. The same tolerance of twenty five years ago when the term inerrantist was coined to weed out a few more. This is the only procession that fundamentalism can take. Each new group of “outsiders” must be shown the door, only to pick a new group of outsiders. It will continue until the argument is between two people, and only one can be right. And Satan laughs.

  7. All percentages at or above 80% — the level where Groupthink locks in and All Heretics are Purged by sword and fire.

    Who needs Christ when you have CALVIN?

  8. Question: Some (not all) Calvies say that if you reject TULIP you are rejecting “the gospel.” They accuse those who disagree with Calvinism of “hating the gospel.” Now, if TULIP is NOT “the gospel,” wouldn’t that mean those people are, in fact, promoting a “gospel” that is other than the one the apostles taught? What would that mean in light of Galatians 1:8?

    1. “Calvies” (all) say that “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8) and affirm that “Now when the Gentiles heard this [the Gospel], they were glad and glorified the word of the Lord. And as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed” (Acts 13:48). The Arminian denies both of these Scriptures by saying that faith is of yourself and not a gift of God, and that God foresees your belief and then appoints you to eternal life on that basis. It is the “Calvies” who are teaching what the Apostles taught, not the Arminian.

  9. I read the King James version daily. Used to understand very little of it, have grown much up to today. I know Jesus came into this world through a virgin birth. I know he grew up just as I did, but without sin. I know He taught through wisdom of our Heavenly Father, thereby making it possible for all to find the understanding of God’s love. I know he was betrayed by one of His own chosen deciples. I know He went through a mock trial. I know He was humiliated beyond anything we can imagine. I know He was beaten worse than any other man. I know He carried His own cross as far as He possibly could, being fully man. I know He was nailed to that cross by His own chosen people. I know He died from the result of such mistreatment. I know He was buried in a borrowed tomb of hewn out rock. I know He rose from death on the third day, just like He said He would. I know He now intercedes for me, unworthy as I am, at the right hand of My Heavenly Father and I know He is coming back to this rotten and sinful earth one day and take me home. Whether true, one hundred percent southern baptist or one hundred percent Calvinist really matters not to me. I know what I believe and I will believe what I have written until my death and beyond, or until Jesus comes back. Amen.

  10. I watched the convention online and have attended many SBC conventions, as well as TGC and T4G conferences. I appreciate the unity that exists between those who hold to different perspectives on the doctrines of election, free will and the sovereignty of God. I saw nothing at this or other conventions that would suggest that a Calvinist doctrine is being paraded or forced on anyone. What I continue to see is brothers and sisters joining arms calling for unity and a Great Commission focus.

  11. Rather than being a traditionalist, my pastor coined the term “Jesusist.” Some can follow Calvin while other follow Arminius. I CHOOSE to follow Jesus.

    1. “Now I say this, that each of you says, “I am of Paul,” or “I am of Apollos,” or “I am of Cephas,” or “I AM OF CHRIST.” Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?” (1 Corinthians 1:12-13)

  12. Sue Glasco. Exactly. You can have the Bible or John Calvin: you cannot have both.

      1. Then explain to me how God can be BOTH a God who decrees sin for his glory AND a God who does not decree sin.
        How God can BOTH be a God who has provided an unlimited atonement through His Son AND a God who has not provided an unlimited atonement through His Son.
        How God can BOTH be a God who has meticulously decreed everything that comes to pass including our sinful desires AND a God who has not meticulously decreed everything that comes to pass which includes our sinful desires.

        Sooner or later, you must recognize the contradiction. Both can’t be true.

  13. I often marvel at how people approach the text . . .
    “We believe what so-and-so SAYS the texts says . . .”

    It makes me wonder if they actually believe that if the synagogue at Berea was here today instead of then and the Rabbi Sha’ul were teaching them today instead of then, that the Bereans would go home and check NOT what the text says to see if what Sha’ul said was true, but check to see what Calvin says the text says before they believed him . . .


  14. Seems to me that these so-called Calvinists care more about “returning to our Baptists roots” than they do about truth. I think it’s funny tho, that the “first” Baptists church mentioned in history (John Smythe), was totally Arminian. The second thing that strikes me as odd, is that these ‘Calvinists” love to describe themselves as “reformed.” Now when you call yourself a “Reformed Baptist” what pops in your head? Ever heard of a “reformed alcoholic?” It means you no longer drink. How about a “reformed thief?” It means you no longer steal. So I guess “reformed Baptist” is quite accurate–it means you’re no longer Baptist. You cannot be both Reformed and Baptist,even if you do believe in predestination–even the Primitive Baptists affirm this. To be “reformed” you must accept a SYSTEM of theology, which goes against Baptist beliefs–these include a state sponsored church, infant baptism, covenant theology, time or temporal salvation, church hierarchy, AND the belief that the church is still CATHOLIC but has reformed itself. Baptists were never part of the Catholic church. Oh the Calvinists love to quote Spurgeon–let’s see what Spurgeon has to say on the subject. He said “We believe that the Baptists are the original Christians. We did not commence our existence at the reformation, we were reformers before Luther and Calvin were born; we never came from the Church of Rome, for we were never in it, but we have an unbroken line up to the apostles themselves. We have always existed from the days of Christ, and our principles, sometimes veiled and forgotten, like a river which may travel under ground for a little season, have always had honest and holy adherents. Persecuted alike by Romanists and Protestants of almost every sect, yet there has never existed a Government holding Baptist principles which persecuted others;” Oh but the Calvinist says “when we say “reformed” we mean we believe in predestination and that’s all.” HOGWASH–SO DOES THAT MEAN BECAUSE I AGREE WITH THE CATHOLIC CHURCH THAT CHRIST WAS VIRGIN BORN, THAT I CAN BE CALLED A “CATHOLIC BAPTIST?” not too mention that Baptists have ALWAYS been congregation ruled, NOT elder ruled as many Calvinists are forcing this on the churches

    1. Ken, I assume those are honest errors, but your statements are extremely mistaken. Being Reformed has nothing to do with accepting a state church, etc, etc. The noted Baptist Spurgeon said that Calvinism is just a nickname for Biblical theology, so you should be careful when you quote him. Baptists were never part of the Roman church; if they were never part of the catholic church, they were never in the body of Christ, since catholic just refers to the true and universal church.

      1. CONTEND4THEFAITH, which Calvinism are you speaking of? Calvin’s own or the Classical Calvinists who took his name while perverting Calvin’s own doctrine. “Free agency” is not in Calvin’s lexicon nor can it be genuinely made to be so. Both the WCF and London Baptist Confession of 1689 (9.1) explicitly repudiates a “by any necessity of nature determined to do good or evil” understanding of Total Depravity. This is an understanding, best popularized by Jonathan Edwards in “Freedom of the Will” a few years later, an understanding which ultimately originates with the Hellenistic rationalist and atheist Leucippus (“Nothing occurs at random, but everything for a reason and by necessity.”), Calvin was too much the lawyer, who would have seen the judicial injustice, of such an ontologically-based Total Depravity, with the will being just the rubberstamp extension of the old corrupted nature. Rather our wills are ontologically distinct from the nature, with the will experientially overcome by the members of the nature (Romans 7), until a stronger Will, and from without, overcomes the old nature, for the affections of the will.

        So when you speak of holding Biblical theology, you are being arrogantly presumptuous about the rightness of your position, all the while being wrong to large degree about these matters.

        Although a monergist myself, like Luther, the monergistic framework is helpful in understanding things. But at the end of the day, I must act like a faithful Arminian. And Calvinists, in their doctrinal and catechistic arrogance, in making too much hay about a doctrinal framework which is difficult meat to digest, have impeded many a person from coming to Christ. Read Spurgeon’s own conversion experience. It required Spurgeon to set aside that Calvinist apparatus for the moment in order to look unto the Christ.

  15. When are the muddle heads going to get it?

    Since Calvinism’s TULIP is demonstrably refuted by Scripture not to be the gospel, and yet Calvinists insist that these “Doctrines of Grace” reveal core gospel truths, then Calvinism itself can hardly be termed “Christian”. There is one uniform gospel in the Bible, not two.

    Christians worship a HOLY God who abhors sin, who did not decree man’s sin and who needs no sin to glorify Himself.
    Christians worship a God who is loving towards all mankind without exception–a boundless love revealed by the willing sacrifice of His Son who has made propitiation for the sins of the world.
    Christians worship a God who sincerely offers salvation to all conditional upon whosoever would believe in Him.
    Christians worship a God who is sovereign, just, and truthful and not an arbitrary divine potentate who foreordains sin for all his creatures and then decrees an eternal caste system of elect and non-elect thus predestining all individuals either to eternal life or eternal death at birth.

    You cannot reconcile Calvinism, in any of its forms, with the gospel of Christ. Borrowing Christian terminology, even a belief in a Triune God, means nothing if that Triune God is not identical with the God revealed in Scripture and in Christ.

    Choose this day which God you will serve.

    1. “Muddle Head” response:

      “What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? Certainly not! For He says to Moses, ‘I will have mercy on whomever I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whomever I will have compassion.’ So then it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy. For the Scripture says to the Pharaoh, ‘For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I may show My power in you, and that My name may be declared in all the earth.’ Therefore He has mercy on whom He wills, and whom He wills He hardens.

      “You will say to me then, ‘Why does He still find fault? For who has resisted His will?’ But indeed, O man, who are you to reply against God? Will the thing formed say to him who formed it, ‘Why have you made me like this?’ Does not the potter have power over the clay, from the same lump to make one vessel for honor and another for dishonor?

      “What if God, wanting to show His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, and that He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He had prepared beforehand for glory, even us whom He called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?” (Romans 9:14-24)

  16. The day we made the agreement to work together was the day we turned the SBC over to Calvinist. They’re perfectly happy screaming for unity because they’re silently taking over. We’ve accepted a flase gospel as something not worth fighting over. Very sad day.

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