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Friday, November 08, 2013
11/08/2013 01:25:00 PM

A Helpful Dialogue On An Important Issue

While many of you know, some of you may be unaware of my affiliation with the Southern Baptist Convention. Without going into a full testimony, I chose to align myself with the denomination in 2006 as I considered my personal theological beliefs, especially on major issues (those which make or break whether or not one is a Christian), correlated with their stated beliefs. More specifically, I felt they were rock-solid on non-negotiable issues, that they got second-level issues correct (those where disagreements could make it significantly difficult to be a part of the same local church, such as one's view of Baptism), and that they were surely correct to agree to disagree about third level issues (e.g., the timing of the Rapture).

Obviously, my statement above is simplified, and life within the SBC (much less within Christendom as a whole) is far more nuanced and complex. After all, some may feel a particular doctrine or viewpoint should be regarded as a second tier rather than a third tier issue, etc. One such matter that has been a hot topic within the SBC has to do with the nature of how God saves humans, or as it is more popularly known, "Calvinism."

Without going into a big explanation of the differences between Calvinism and non-Calvinism, at the core of how this doctrine is controversial within SBC churches is the relationship between God's sovereignty, omniscience, and purposes with man's ability (or inability) to respond to the Gospel call. Along with this would be the nature of Jesus' sacrifice, whether it was truly substitutionary or only hypothetically so. There are a number of other doctrines that come into play here as well, but these seem to stand at the forefront as the foundational matters.

Although SBC churches and pastors (much less laypeople!) will never come to perfect agreement on  every facet of doctrine, this dialogue below between Dr. Eric Hankins (pastor of First Baptist, Oxford, MS) and Dr. Albert Mohler (president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) is very helpful in showing how churches can cooperate whilst disagreeing on finer matters of doctrine. Why this dialogue in particular is helpful is because of the participants. Hankins and Mohler are decidedly on different sides of this issue. Hankins is unabashedly non-Calvinist, and Mohler subscribes to all of the major tenets of Calvinism. It is encouraging to me to see these men dialoging together and illustrating for the convention as a whole the ability to work together in spite of diverging views on the particulars.

I'd encourage everyone to check it out.


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