What’s Wrong with the Southern Baptist Convention?

Jared Wilson observes for the Gospel Allies the 10th anniversary of the religious reporting that put the New Calvinists on the map, Collin Hansen’s Young, Restless, Reformed. My first take is that it seems odd to celebrate the anniversary of a magazine article. Why not the 20th anniversary of John Piper’s Desiring God, or the 270th anniversary of Jonathan Edwards’s dismissal from First Congregational Church, Northampton?

But stranger is Mr. Wilson’s by-line. He works for Midwestern Seminary, which has been in the orbit of the Southern Baptist Convention since its founding in 1957 and not a subsidiary of The Gospel Coalition.

As an institution of the Southern Baptist Convention, Midwestern Seminary is guided by a board of trustees elected by the Convention in its annual sessions. The trustees in turn elect faculty members and administrative officers. Upon election to the faculty, each professor subscribes to the Baptist Faith and Message 2000 statement adopted by the SBC in 2000.

Each of our faculty members participates in a local Southern Baptist church, teaching classes, serving as a deacon or leading a congregation as an interim pastor. On campus, our faculty is dedicated to equipping men and women in a variety of Christian ministries and is committed to the furtherance of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary students come from a wide variety of cultural, economic and geographical backgrounds. Like our faculty and staff, our students are committed to theological education in preparation for the practice of ministry. Midwestern Seminary has awarded more than 3,500 theological degrees.

Midwestern Seminary derives the majority of its financial support from the SBC Cooperative Program. In addition to Cooperative Program funds and student fees, alumni gifts and endowments from special friends enable the school to further its far-reaching ministry.

Here’s the question: is New Calvinism synonymous with the Southern Baptist Convention or is the former a subset of the latter? Related to this, why does someone associated with New Calvinism not have a higher loyalty to the communion to which he belongs? New Calvinism (and Gospel Coalition) is parachurch, movement oriented. The SBC is a communion. So shouldn’t someone who wants to see churches planted and grow rather put his energies into a real communion than into a movement?

This is the problem with New Calvinism. It seems to be a cover for ecclesiology and churches that have no fellowship with Old Calvinist communions. There’s nothing wrong with being Southern Baptist. At least it’s a church ethos, to modify Walter Sobchak’s phrase. New Calvinism seems mainly sneaky and self-promotional.

18 thoughts on “What’s Wrong with the Southern Baptist Convention?

  1. Dr. Hart asks: “Here’s the question: is New Calvinism synonymous with the Southern Baptist Convention or is the former a subset of the latter?”

    The former is a subset of the latter. There are plenty of Arminians, antinomians, liberation Marxists, post modernist philosophers and other theological retards populating the SBC landscape.

    Oh yeah, there’s a smattering of solid 2nd LBC 1689 folks floating about in the spirit of Bunyan, Gill and Spurgeon too.


  2. I can’t remember. Did you vote for or against the dismissal of Edwards? Why would the efficacy of the sacrament in any way depend on the nature of the profession of the next generation?

    When Edwards attempted to plant an OPC congregation in Stockbridge, how could Edwards teach the native Americans either law or gospel without baptizing them (with covenantal water) first?



  3. Hmmm

    “My point is that, in my opinion, there are ideological and faddish dimensions to the YRRM that help explain its popularity. By no means does that detract from the good that it does. The passion for missions, for example, is certainly a benefit. But the lack of self-criticism and tendency to take itself so seriously and passionate commitment to it as a movement (and especially to its leaders) all point to ideology. And the shallow avoidance of ecclesial commitment on the parts of many of its followers points to faddishness”.


  4. mcmark, “how could Edwards teach the native Americans either law or gospel without baptizing them (with covenantal water) first?”

    easy. You only baptize infants of converted members of the church. I think you know that.


  5. So does Wilson: “gospel wakefulness,” which mean sin part “Nobody saw what I was seeing. Nobody listened to what I was hearing.” Sounds Gregorian.


  6. mcmark, “how could Edwards teach the native Americans either law or gospel without baptizing them (with covenantal water) first?”

    dgh—easy. You only baptize infants of converted members of the church.

    mcmark—So does that mean you would NOT have voted for dismissal of Edwards? If a missionary from a Christian nation is assigned to a heathen nation without any “converted” members, how can that missionary expect to be able to preach law and gospel to those born outside the covenant? Why is the “converted” category important to you in this instance?

    Mike Horton—”Covenant theology doesn’t teach that the covenant of grace itself is “breakable” (67). God promises his saving grace in Christ to each person in baptism, whether they embrace this promise or not. … The word proclaimed and sealed in the sacraments is valid, regardless of our response, but we don’t enjoy the blessings apart from receiving Christ with all of his benefits. …..To be claimed as part of God’s holy field comes with threats as well as blessings. Covenant members who do not believe are under the covenant curse. How can they fall under the curses of a covenant to which they didn’t belong? ”


    “Edwards thought the Indian language ‘barbarous’ and ‘exceeding barren and very unfit to express moral and divine things.”….”Edwards preached to the Indians in a gentler manner compared to his English sermons. In a sermon Edwards preached a month earlier to his English congregation, he lambasted them for lack of response to his preaching. He would ‘rather go to into Sodom and preach to the men of Sodom than preach to you and should have a great deal more hopes of success.’ The unique circumstances of his Indian congregation and the particular trials they faced prompted Edwards to search for different lessons within the same Calvinist doctrines.’ For Edwards, the English had had the benefits of centuries of gospel preaching, so they should have shown more SIGNS OF SPIRITUAL LIFE than their Indian brethren.”


  7. Greg, sure beats Gettysburg.

    C-dubs, as long as we’re being grammarian, quotations flank punctuation, “mean sin part.” In America, that is.


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