Why SBC Infighting Will Never End
I have been a Southern Baptist since 1983, and I certainly don’t remember any significant tension between Calvinists and Arminians in the association until recently. That’s because most Calvinists in the SBC have been Reformed Light for the most part. Circa 1981 began a concerted effort to take over the SBC with the rediscovered Reformed authentic gospel. That’s Luther’s centrality of the objective gospel outside of us. Until maybe ten years ago, few Calvinists in the SBC held to that soteriology. They are now known as “aggressive Calvinists” in the SBC.
Right, because the authentic gospel of the Protestant Reformation comes part and parcel with spiritual tyranny and indifference to human suffering. So, do I think it’s a good thing that SBC notables are pushing back against the “aggressive” Calvinists? No, not really. One camp is dying a painless death akin to gangrene, and the leaders of the other camp make you feel the pain. At least in the latter, you know something is going on that needs attention. Then you hope you can figure out the cure.
Fact is, both camps are Protestants, and Protestantism is founded on weak sanctification. And when you have weak sanctification, there will always be infighting. The Reformers had a different doctrine than Rome, but it was predicated on the same philosophy: spiritual caste. It’s an ancient philosophy that believes in the enlightened few ruling over the unenlightened masses. Rome was terrified that the unenlightened masses would get their hands on God’s word. They thought that was like handing a four-year-old a loaded musket or a really sharp knife. The Reformers had the same attitude even though they partook in the printing of Bibles. But one, it is unclear as to whether mass production was intended, and two, it is clear that the Reformers believed that the ignorant masses needed a dumbed down explanation of truth called orthodoxy. Hence, Calvin started the study Bible thing that is all the rage in our culture. Don’t forget, Luther and Calvin both believed that saints remain totally depraved. And don’t forget that two Catholics helped start the Reformation and were revered by Luther and Calvin till the end.
The Reformation was really a fight among philosopher kings for the mutton. And this fight between SBC academics is no different. T4G/TGC verses the John 3:16 crowd is all the same song and dance: philosopher kings fighting for the mutton. How do we know? I will tell you.
Jerry Vines, et al are not stupid; they know that this authentic Calvinism taking over the SBC is progressive justification which is clearly an in-your-face false gospel. So why not tell it like it is? Why not express outrage that the president of Southern Seminary propagates a false gospel? The answer to that is fairly simple: they don’t believe that the average Southern Baptist is able to understand what progressive justification is. And sadly, they are probably right, but no thanks to them. Look, I’m a pastor, and I can tell you that the American pastorate is saturated with the idea that the average parishioner cannot understand doctrine. Therefore, at best, Southern Baptists will live by biblical generalities and whatever the philosopher kings think they might be able to understand. The doctrinal illiteracy of the American church knows no bounds and that is by design; it reflects the spiritual caste mentality that has dominated the pastorate in Western culture for centuries.
Therefore, New Calvinists can’t be called on their false gospel; the other philosopher kings have to rally the spiritual peasantry around issues like the sinners prayer. While the SBC’s flagship Seminary is overseen by a heretic, thank goodness that resolution passed by an “overwhelming majority.”