I was privileged to receive an advance copy of the Calvinism Advisory Group Report that recently became public. The advisory group was assembled by the president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee, Frank Page, PhD. Page refers to himself as the CEO of the Southern Baptist Convention but defines his title as the “Chief Encouraging Officer.”
In a marvelous display of leadership, Page requested advice to the SBC from a group of distinguished Southern Baptist leaders who fall on differing sides of the Arminian/Calvinism debate in SBC life. Page himself has gone on record as embracing only one or two of the traditional five points of Calvinism but, in his role as Executive Committee President, sees the need for unity within the diversity of opinions on this issue.
After reading through the report, I offered this response to Page:
“I enthusiastically affirm the spirit, content, and conclusions of the report. Furthermore, I fully commit myself to living according to the wise counsel contained therein and pray that every Southern Baptist will do the same. My gratitude to you for this undertaking and to the members of the advisory group is rivaled only by my tremendous gratitude for the findings of the committee. Needless to say, I am greatly encouraged! Might God grant unity and Great Commission faithfulness and effectiveness to Southern Baptists!”
Those who have followed our work in Kentucky know we have been committed to maintaining a “Big Tent” approach to denominational life. With regard to Calvinism, we hosted Frank Page, David Dockery, Hershael York, and Steve Lemke in a conference several months ago. The conference was well-received and, according to Page, served as a model for how Southern Baptists should proactively seek to engage these and similar issues. Check out video from conference sessions, including Page’s Vision for a Unified SBC here:
My prayer is that these efforts on the state and national levels will help the tone and end results of our conversations and debates on matters of theology to be “clarity, charity, and unity.”
While I rejoice to be living in a day when Southern Baptists take theology seriously, I know the most urgent need of our world is still for the gospel of Jesus Christ. I believe our theological discussions are honoring to our Lord to the degree that they ignite within us a greater zeal for evangelism and a greater commitment to cooperation for the sake of accomplishing the Great Commission. For, as those who have been called to take the gospel to the ends of the earth, we know “It will be good for that servant whose master finds him doing so when he returns” (Matt 24:46).
On that day, might the Lord of the harvest find Kentucky Baptists faithful workers in his harvest!