Count it all joy when you face various trials. --James the brother of Jesus

Friday, July 11, 2008

They Don't Speak for Me

I've written before on this blog concerning the "issue" of Calvinism in the SBC, and I think my views are fairly clear. However, in the interest of being clear, I want to address a few things that are commonly assumed about Calvinists that do not describe what I believe.

1. Evangelism is unimportant since God has already chosen who will be saved.
I hold to a form of evangelical Calvinism that was held to by Baptists such as William Carey and Adoniram Judson. Carey is considered the father of the modern missionary movement. It is just not based in history to think that Calvinism is either anti-missionary or lacks zeal in evangelism.

Rather, I believe that God ordains both the "ends" and the "means" in salvation. He not only has ordained to save each person who will be saved, but he has also ordained the means by which they will be saved--the preaching of the gospel. The fact is that the lost world is dieing and going to Hell, and the only hope that they have is that they hear us preach the Gospel and believe. We don't know who is going to respond and who isn't, but if we don't preach lost sinners will die and their blood will be on our hands.

2. Calvinism is for Presbyterians

This is also not true. Baptists have had two streams from almost the beginning of the English speaking Baptist movement--General and Particular Baptists. Among the English Baptists most of the General Baptists fell into heresies such as Arianism--denying that Jesus was God. The Particular Baptists were the more enduring form which American and Southern Baptists trace their roots. The Particular Baptist confession that was most held to was the 2nd London Confession of 1689. This was brought to America as the Philadelphia Confession, and it was probably the most common confession of Baptists both North and South before the New Hampshire confession was written. This confession is a clearly evangelical Calvinistic document--which has been widely (though not uniformly) embraced by Baptists for over 300 years.

To calm any fears of a form of Presbyterian church government, I will say that I stand with the traditional Baptist church government of "congregationalism." I believe that it is taught in the Bible and I have written a lengthy paper defending this view in a previous post. To make it short and clear--I believe that the hightest authority for making decisions for any local church is the gathered congregation. No outside man made body can impose it's will against the will of the congregation, and no elder or church officer can be given the authority that belongs only to the gathered congregation. A gathered local church of Christ is ruled by Christ through the Biblie and by no other human authority.

I have more to say about this issue, but my time runs short. I will post again soon with some more common misconceptions about Calvinism in Baptist life.

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