Question: Just what are your thoughts on Calvinism? Exactly what do you believe and think?
Reply #1: I appreciate the questions very much. I am often asked my thoughts about this issue, and I am more than happy to share my perspective. This is a complex question, and so I will take several posts to respond. Hopefully, I can bring some clarity to the issue and even help move the agenda forward for the glory of God and the advancement of the gospel. It is obviously a timely question. My good friend Frank Page, President of the Executive Committee, recently spoke to the issue and the continuing conversation about it in the SBC. And, a Baptist Association in KY recently turned down a church for membership with the issue of Calvinism being raised as a reason.
A little narrative would probably be a good place to start. When I entered Criswell College I had no idea what Calvinism was. I had never even heard the name John Calvin. I knew of Calvin and Hobbs and Calvin Klein but that was it! In my first semester, I was taken one day by an older classmate into a room and “theologically assaulted!” By that I mean this, this brother, I am sure with good intentions from his perspective, spent more than an hour trying to convert me to double predestinarian, supralapsarian, five-point Calvinism. Never have I encountered a more fervent evangelist in all my life. After being put into a theological hammerlock, and pressed for a decision, I responded. Basically I said, “Brother, whatever you got this much I know, I don’t want it.” That experience left a very bad taste in my mouth with respect to an aggressive form of Calvinism that is more concerned about converting people to a theological system than our Savior. If someone would like my perspective on this in the context of a chapel message, see “The Danger of Loving a Theological System More Than the Savior.” So, in my first response to this question, I have always been suspicious of any aggressive theological system that is more concerned with converting people to it than they are the gospel of Jesus Christ. I have always been concerned about any approach to theology that would give greater emphasis to making converts of a particular theology than fulfilling the final marching orders of the Lord Jesus, the Great Commission. Now, does that mean I fear Calvinism, think it is a serious and ever present danger to the SBC, and could destroy our convention of churches? I will pick that question up in the next blog.