SBC Calvinism study group releases report

Meredith Flynn —  June 4, 2013

Tuesday_BriefingUrges cooperation, unity around Baptist Faith & Message ahead of meeting in Houston

THE BRIEFING | Meredith Flynn

The advisory committee formed by Southern Baptist Executive Committee President Frank Page to study the divide over Reformed theology in the convention released its final report a week before the SBC was scheduled to hold its annual meeting in Houston.

Page assembled the group last August, after an annual meeting in New Orleans where Reformed theology was a hot-button issue. Much of the conversation then centered on the need to work together despite theological differences; Page wanted the team to help him develop “a strategy whereby people of various theological persuasions can purposely work together in missions and evangelism.”

The group’s 3,200-word statement outlines nine areas of theology that all Southern Baptists can agree on, and then tackles areas of disagreement within those issues. For example:

“We agree that God is absolutely sovereign in initiating salvation, uniting the believer to Himself, and preserving the believer to the end, but we differ as to how God expresses His sovereignty with respect to human freedom,” the report reads.

Pointing to one of the tenets of Reformed theology, the statement continues, “We agree that the Holy Spirit working through the Gospel enables sinners to be saved, but we differ as to whether this grace is resistible or irresistible.”

But those tensions shouldn’t hinder cooperation, according to the advisory committee, which was made up of people from both sides of the theological divide. Rather, “we urge Southern Baptists to grant one another liberty in those areas within The Baptist Faith and Message (BFM) where differences in interpretation cause us to disagree.”

Later in the report, the group points to the BFM, as adopted in 2000, as the confession that “is to serve as the doctrinal basis for our cooperation in Great Commission ministry.”

A report on the group’s work is expected during next week’s annual meeting, which begins June 11. In its closing words, the statement offers a challenge that could be especially important in Houston:

“If we stand together in truth, we can trust one another in truth, even as we experience tension. We can talk like brothers and sisters in Christ, and we can work urgently and eagerly together.”

Read the full report at BPNews.net.

-With reporting by Baptist Press

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“It shows that it’s not as popular with people as the national media is telling us.”

Smith added that the non-action in Illinois could be a “bellwether” for other states, especially those that don’t lean as far to the left. As the Post-Dispatch pointed out, “If gay marriage fails here, how would a state like Missouri ever even flirt with it?” Read the full story here.

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Meredith Flynn

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Meredith is managing editor of the Illinois Baptist newspaper.