December 18, 2017

Three Perspectives on Calvinism

Recently three articles dealing with the Calvinism vs. Armianism vs. In-between-ism came to our attention. One of the articles goes back to 2010, a lifetime in internet years. Each of them reflect different perspectives on the questions surrounding the theology of salvation. None of them are definitive, all-encompassing statements even of their own viewpoints. But they do reflect three distinct points on the spectrum of the debate. Two of these articles are connected with people in the Southern Baptist Convention and the last one is connected with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, a more liberal group that pulled out of the SBC after the “conservative resurgence.”

We present links to these articles for your interest. They help frame the discussion. Truly, we think these issues should be a discussion and not a debate, Christians have been unable to resolve the questions involved for hundreds of years. As each of us consider our own positions and wrestle with the questions involved, we should try to grasp what others are saying. We hope you find these links helpful.

Calvinism and the Southern Baptist Convention

This article, by a Calvinist, is a reaction to some off the cuff remarks by Paige Patterson. It outlines some of the historical Calvinist contributions to Baptist history.

Neither Calvinists nor Arminians but Baptists

This article is signed by several Baptists connected with Southwestern and Southeastern Baptist Seminaries and others. The point of the article is that the signees consider themselves to be neither Calvinistic nor Arminian. Their attempt isn’t merely an at a middle ground, but rather to re-orient the emphasis away from the sometimes prickly debate over unsettled questions to an emphasis on their positive distinctives as Baptists.

For Baptists, a lone Arminian voice crying in a Calvinist wilderness

Roger Olson teaches at Truett Semniary, a division of Baylor University. The article is a brief interview with him. His views are probably a minority among Baptists these days, but they are not unknown to Baptist history. With CBF connections, Truett is going to be much more liberal than those writing in the first two articles. Nevertheless, it is worth reading Olson’s views as you think through your own. He does make this interesting observation at the end of the piece:

Here is where I agree with many Calvinists: the average American church is non-theological. It doesn’t have any particular position. If it does, it’s buried under dust…. So many American churches emphasis what you need to be successful in life. It’s about consumerism and upward mobility. But Arminianism isn’t that.

Whatever you think of his theology, Olson is right on that point. Would that all our churches and our people were more earnest about their theology.

In closing, please note that comments are welcome, but we really aren’t looking for debate on the theology here. The articles are of interest, we are passing them along with the thought that our readers might profit from these pieces.


Although Proclaim & Defend is the blog of the FBFI, the articles we post are not an expression of the views of the FBFI as a whole, they are the views of the author under whose name they are published. The FBFI speaks either through position statements by its board or through its president. Here at Proclaim & Defend, we publish articles as matters of interest or edification to the wider world of fundamentalist Baptists and any others who might be interested.

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