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Monday, June 05, 2006

Youth for Calvin

I've posted this journal article for a few friends interested in the growth of Calvinism among youth and for those involved in the discussion taking place at (talk2action.com). The first author is a Professor of Religion at Baylor (Baptist historian) and the second author is a current doctoral student at SEBTS.
“Youth for Calvin: Reformed Theology and Baptist Collegians”
C. Douglas Weaver and Nathan A. Finn
Baptist History & Heritage 2004
I was not surprised to see an affirmation of inerrancy, but I did not expect to see an affirmation of the 1689 Second London Confession. This thirty-something minister was, at minimum, a five-point Calvinist. I told him that I doubted many congregations would know anything about the Second London Confession. Of course, I was shortsighted. The increasing number of college students in my classes who embrace Calvinist theology points to a different conclusion. Reformed (2) Baptists today are growing at a rate faster than I ever thought possible. (3)
Calvinism in the Southern Baptist Heritage

In his widely-used 1987 text, The Baptist Heritage, Leon McBeth noted the development of a "new Calvinism" among Southern Baptists. (4) Calvinist Southern Baptists, however, argued that their Reformed theology was simply a renewal and recovery of the original theological perspective that dominated the formative years of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) in the mid-nineteenth century. They noted that the key leaders and theologians, such as James Boyce, John Broadus, John L. Dagg, and Jesse Mercer were Calvinists. Modern Calvinists also argued that the The Abstract of Principles, the confessional statement of Southern Baptist's first seminary, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, affirmed key Reformed concepts such as total depravity, perseverance of the saints, and unconditional election for a limited number of persons chosen by God. (5) Many local churches and associations in the nineteenth century also adopted Calvinist confessions of faith. (6) According to Calvinist interpreters, however, a defection from Reformed roots occurred in the twentieth century, most likely as a result of the experiential theology of E. Y. Mullins, professor of theology and president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (1899-1928). (7)

While Baptist historians of all persuasions acknowledged the strength of Calvinism during the early decades of Southern Baptist life, some observers, especially non-Calvinists, painted a more theologically complex picture of Southern Baptist origins. They noted that other theological voices always existed--"the Convention was a hybrid from its inception"--which eventually softened and modified Calvinist emphases. (8) Consequently, non-Calvinists found the roots for a weakening of Calvinism in nineteenth-century practices. In particular, the individualism of the American frontier and the Separate Baptist revivalistic legacy characterized the methods, and eventually the theology, of Southern Baptist missions and evangelism.(9) The milder Calvinism of the New Hampshire Confession of Faith of 1833 also influenced later Baptist thought, particularly the theological orientation of the 1925 Baptist Faith and Message. (10) Mullins and W. T. Conner, professor of theology at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, continued the trend toward a modified Calvinism. Traditional (five-point) Calvinism no longer dominated twentieth-century Southern Baptist life, and for many, became merely an embarrassment of a distant past. (11)

In the last twenty years, Calvinism has revived and "gone public" in the SBC. While many Baptists reject three (actually four) (12) of Calvinism's classic five points--unconditional election/predestination, limited atonement, and irresistible grace--Reformed theology is increasingly influential in numerous areas of Southern Baptist life. In the current landscape, critics sometimes refer to all Calvinists as "hyper-Calvinists," suggesting that the belief in double predestination is inherently "hyper" (deterministic) theology. (13) Other observers distinguish between "hyper" (antimissionary) and "evangelical" Calvinists. Adherents prefer to say that authentic Calvinism is by nature evangelical. (14) They claim the tradition of the Calvinist missionary pioneer, William Carey, because they believe evangelism/preaching are God's divinely appointed methods for the elect to accept the gospel and be saved. (15)
Sources for the Growth of Contemporary Baptist Calvinism

Sources for a resurgent Calvinism dot the contemporary Southern Baptist landscape. Two of the SBC's six seminaries have presidents who are selfidentified Calvinists: R. Albert Mohler Jr. of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and R. Philip Roberts of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Roberts's predecessor at Midwestern, Mark Coppenger, also advocated Calvinist theology. (16) At present, at least five of the six Southern Baptist seminaries have some Calvinists on their faculties, (17) but Southern Seminary is most clearly identified as a Calvinist institution by observers because of the national prominence of Mohler. When asked by a Texas Baptist pastor if he was a "five-point" Calvinist, Mohler acknowledged that he was, but emphasized his commonality with the theology of the earliest Southern Baptist leaders of the mid-nineteenth century. (18) While Mohler preferred to use nomenclature other than Calvinism, his flagship seminary has become fertile ground for young Calvinists.

Openness to Calvinism exists in some recent Southern Baptist publications, particularly in the work of Timothy George, dean of the Beeson Divinity School at Samford University. In 2000, Lifeway Christian Resources, the publishing arm of the SBC, introduced George's doctrinal study, Amazing Grace: God's Initiative, Our Response, as part of its Christian Growth Study Plan for use in Discipleship Training and other small groups. The book approached the issue of salvation, God's grace, and human free will from a Calvinist perspective. George has further contributed to the growth of Calvinism by editing the Library of Baptist Classics, which has reprinted works by notable nineteenth-century Calvinist Baptists, James R Boyce, Basil Manly Jr., and B. H. Carroll. (19) While not dominated by Calvinism, Southern Baptist literature that receives the stamp of convention approval increasingly has included the works of Calvinist authors like George. (20)

The growing influence of Calvinism is found not only in the seminary classroom and convention literature but also in the pulpit. Numerous congregations and individuals are affiliated with Founders Ministries, an organization committed to propagating the "Doctrines of Grace" among SBC churches. Founders Ministries, which originated in 1982, publishes The Founders Journal quarterly, hosts an annual conference on the campus of Samford University, and has numerous regional networks of churches called "Founders Fraternals." (21) Prominent Baptist Calvinists such as Timothy George and Tom Nettles, professor of historical theology at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, have served as board members for the ministry.

In 1987, Leon McBeth estimated that 400 Southern Baptist pastors were self-identified Calvinists. (22) A statistical study still awaits, but the numbers have clearly risen. In 1997, the Founders Website claimed "2,000 hits" per month (the number of "hits" from Southern Baptists is impossible to ascertain). Whatever their numerical strength, Tom Ascol, the executive director of Founders Ministries, asserted that the group has played a pivotal role in the recent resurgence of Calvinism in Southern Baptist life. He contended that the distribution of more than 100,000 books at Founders Conferences has been significant in spreading the news that the earliest Southern Baptists of the nineteenth century were strong Calvinists. Founders Youth Conferences have been a key to spreading the Calvinist message to future generations. Without hesitation, Founders Ministries leaders have asserted that the Reformed "reformation" of the SBC has just begun. (23)
Youth for Calvin

Calvinist Southern Baptists appear to be getting younger and younger. Educators are noting that an increasing number of Baptist college students are embracing Calvinism. In the fall of 2001, The Center for Baptist Studies at Mercer University held a conference on the recent growth of Calvinism. While the focus of the seminar was not youth, much of the open discussion with featured speaker Fisher Humphreys involved the concern that Baptist churches were sending their young people off to "safe" colleges with good Baptist Student Union ministries like Samford University but their students returned home as members of a Reformed student group and committed to Calvinism. With a sense of alarm, one participant declared that the Calvinist God was more like Allah than the God of the Bible. (24)

The Calvinist phenomenon was also the subject of a 2003 meeting of the National Association of Baptist Professors of Religion--Southwest Region. Some participants expressed serious concerns about Calvinism's growth among students and concluded that the best way to combat "aggressive Calvinism" was to encourage students to study the Bible. Randy Hatchett, a professor at Houston Baptist University, added that Calvinism affected church youth groups in his area. "It has a militant nature, especially around the issue of worship," Hatchett observed. "Calvinists imply non-Calvinists can't worship as well as Calvinists." (25)

The growth of Calvinism among Baptist collegians is attributable, in part, to the increasing openness toward Reformed perspectives in Southern Baptist life. Some students arrive on college campuses already committed to Calvinism, most likely due to the influence of their pastors and local churches. The majority of Baptist college students who adopt Calvinism, however, do not grow up in Calvinist churches. Instead, they adopt Reformed views while in college. While some Calvinist professors teach religion at several of the more conservative Baptist colleges, apparently no religion department at any Southern Baptist college is dominated by a Calvinist ethos. The attraction to Calvinism is best explained by factors other than local church influence and religion departments. Three avenues appear to play significant roles in the introduction of Baptist collegians to Calvinism. These three "gateways" are campus ministries, contemporary Christian music, and popular authors and speakers.
Calvinism and Campus Ministry

For college students, "spending time with Jesus" is often a mid-week worship hour sponsored by a campus ministry rather than a Sunday morning service at a local church. Baptist Student Unions (also called Baptist Campus Ministries or Baptist Student Ministries) dominate the campus ministry market at colleges and universities in the United States and maintain an especially strong presence on Baptist campuses. (26) Campus ministries of other denominations and parachurch groups like Campus Crusade for Christ also offer increasing ministry choices to students in this post-denominational era. Campus ministries that are either explicitly or implicitly Calvinist in orientation are increasingly popular on many Baptist college campuses. The two most visible of these ministries are both Presbyterian in origin: Reformed University
Fellowship and Campus Outreach.

Reformed University Fellowship (RUF) is the national campus ministry of the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA), which is the largest conservative Presbyterian body in the country. RUF claims to have chapters active on seventy-six college campuses. The organization advertises its commitment to the inerrancy of Scripture and requires all of its campus ministers to teach in accordance with the historic Westminster Confession of Faith. (27) RUF is active on many Baptist university campuses, including Baylor University, Belmont University, Mercer University, Samford University, and Wake Forest University. (28)

Campus Outreach is active on sixty-five campuses throughout the world. While technically interdenominational, Campus Outreach began in 1978 when Briarwood Presbyterian Church (PCA) of Birmingham, Alabama, established the ministry at the flagship institution of the Alabama Baptist Convention, Samford University. (29) Like RUE Campus Outreach affirms biblical inerrancy and a faith statement for campus ministers. While not the Westminster Confession of Faith, the confessional stance is clearly Calvinist in its anthropology and soteriology:
Man was created in the image of God as a rational, moral and
spiritual being. Man sinned in Adam, and fell with him in his first
transgression. Man's fall affected him spiritually, intellectually,
and physically leaving him in a state of complete depravity. He is
restored only by the renewing grace of the Holy Spirit and the
cleansing Mood of Jesus Christ. God is the initiator and completer
of this work, and is sovereign throughout both salvation and
sanctification. Man's response to God's offer of salvation is
repentance from sin and faith in the atoning work of Christ
(italics added). (30)

Campus Outreach tends to be active on small and medium-sized campuses like Samford University, Furman University, and Shorter College.

Campus ministries like Reformed University Fellowship and Campus Outreach promote Bible studies and provide settings for expository Bible teaching that is clearly Calvinist in perspective. They also provide an avenue for students to immerse themselves in contemporary Christian music, another potential gateway to Calvinist theology.

Calvinism and Contemporary Christian Music

Southern Baptist music and youth ministry went "contemporary" in the 1970s. Christian music for young people was strongly influenced by the shifts in the pop culture of the 1960s. The sound of rock and roll drew youth, and the Jesus Movement helped bring this contemporary sound to Christian teenagers. Occasionally, songs from secular artists were "Christianized," (31) but Christian rock artists like Larry Norman and The Second Chapter of Acts popularized contemporary Christian music (CCM). Music and youth ministry often combined forces in the advent of the "youth musical." Upbeat music accompanied by drums and guitars made its way into church sanctuaries, only to be greeted by mixed reviews from the adults.

On the college campus, campus ministries and chapel services now usually feature CCM. Musical styles range from hard rock to "pop" (anything but a traditional rendition of a hymn) and is led by "praise bands." To worship through music means "praise and worship" choruses, often with hands raised (the phrase "charismatic lite"--hands but no speaking in tongues-acknowledges CCM's indebtedness to the "charismatic movement" in American religion). (32)

Like most evangelical college students, Baptist collegians listen to CCM; and like evangelicalism itself, artists of numerous theological and liturgical expressions have appeared on the CCM scene in this post-denominational atmosphere. Among collegians and other young adults, many of the most popular recording artists/acts are Calvinist in their theology and worldview. Artists who are strongly Reformed or influenced by Calvinism such as Bebo Norman and groups such as Watermark and Caedmon's Call are enormously popular with college students. Bebo Norman's act was the first to be signed by Watershed Records, a Christian recording label. (33) In Norman's lyrics, the Reformed emphasis is evident in small doses. His song, "Big Blue Sky," subtly affirms total depravity, irresistible grace, and perseverance of the saints:
I'm coming alive
Nothing is good apart from you
I'm coming alive ... with you

I may not have a lot to give
This broken world can make it hard to live
I may have nothing left to say
But I know that you will never go away. (34)

Norman's popularity with collegians seems poised to increase. He received seven Dove Award nominations in 2003, the annual "evangelical grammys" awarded by the Gospel Music Association. (35)
Clearly, the most popular CCM group that promotes Calvinist theology is Caedmon's Call. The band, formed in 1991, made an immediate splash on the college scene. Reportedly, they developed large followings on campuses all over the country, from "Boston's Harvard University to Malibu's Pepperdine University on the California's coast." (36) CCM, the magazine of contemporary Christian music, put the group on its cover in 1999 because they "turned the Christian music industry upside down in 1997." (37) Originally from Houston, Texas, Caedmon's Call's founder and vocalist, Cliff Young, is the son of former SBC president and mega-church pastor, Ed Young, of Second Baptist Church, Houston. (38) In this computer-driven era, numerous Websites about the rock band are visited and managed by collegians.
Caedmon's Call is clearly committed to Calvinist theology. Derek Webb, one of the band's lead vocalists and principal songwriters, lists Reformed theology as "an obsession." One of his favorite books is Chosen by God, written by conservative Presbyterian theologian R. C. Sproul. (39) Keyboardist (and Belmont University student) Josh Moore also lists Sproul as his favorite theologian. (40) This strong commitment to Calvinism is clearly evident in the band's lyrics.
Their 1999 album, 40 Acres, preaches Calvinist perspectives. On the album's second track, "Thankful" (written and performed by Webb), the Reformed emphases on total depravity, unconditional election, and irresistible grace stand out:
'Cause we're all stillborn, and dead in our transgressions
We're shackled up to the sin we hold so dear
So what part can I play in the work of redemption
I can't refuse, I cannot add a thing

I am thankful that I'm incapable
Of doing any good on my own

It's by grace I have been saved
Through faith that's not my own
It is the gift of God and not by works
Lest anyone should boast. (41)

Like many CCM acts, Caedmon's Call has capitalized on the popularity of "praise and worship" choruses by producing an album of worship songs. (42) While most of the music on the album was original to the band, two of the songs, "I Boast No More" and "Laden With Guilt," were modern renditions of hymns originally written by Puritan pastor and prolific hymnist Isaac Watts. (43) Calvinism is implied in many of the album's other tracks.

Reformed theology is not only found in the lyrics of some CCM artists, but many "praise and worship" songs and modern hymns are written from a self-consciously Reformed worldview as well. Sovereign Grace Ministries (formerly PDI) is a popular music recording/distribution company among Calvinist college students. Sovereign Grace songs--like the name of the company--are heavy in theological content, and the theology is often overtly Calvinist. The lyrics of "How High and How Wide," for example, explicitly affirm total depravity and irresistible grace, and the doctrines of election and perseverance of the saints are strongly implied:
No eye has seen
And no ear has heard
And no mind has ever conceived
The glorious things that You have prepared
For every one who has believed
You brought us near
And You called us Your own
And made us joint heirs with Your Son

Objects of mercy who should have known wrath
We're filled with unspeakable joy
Riches of wisdom, unsearchable wealth
And the wonder of knowing Your voice
You are our treasure and our great reward
Our hope and our glorious King

How high and how wide
How deep and how long
How sweet and how strong is Your love
How lavish Your grace
How faithful Your ways
How great is Your love, O Lord (44)

Also popular among Calvinist collegians is the "updating" of classic hymns. Many of the great hymns are set to more upbeat music to make them accessible to markets that prefer contemporary worship music. Among the most popular recording acts to use this revised hymnology is Indelible Grace, based out of Nashville, Tennessee. Kevin Twit, who serves as both college pastor at Christ Community Church (PCA) in Franklin, Tennessee, and campus minister for Reformed University Fellowship at Baptist-affiliated Belmont University, organized Indelible Grace. (45) The group has updated classic hymns by such writers as Isaac Watts, Augustus Toplady, and Charles Wesley. Ironically, Wesley was a staunch Arminian, though his lyrics are sung by some collegians as though his Calvinist friend and fellow evangelist George Whitefield could have written them.

Other modern hymns and "praise and worship songs" deal broadly with the theme of God's sovereignty and glory. Although Calvinists are not the only Christians to affirm these theological concepts, songs with these emphases are particularly popular with Reformed students because of Calvinism's emphasis on God's sovereign control over all of life and his concern that God's glory be known among all the peoples of the earth.

Contemporary Christian music is not exclusively bound to Calvinism or any theological perspective (and some students clearly listen to the music without digesting any theology). Nevertheless, Caedmon's Call and other popular Reformed CCM artists have introduced many collegians to and nurtured them in Calvinism. Baptist collegians are often attracted to emotional informal worship, and CCM fills that need. Consequently, the worship styles of post-denominational young people is clearly a gateway to the growth of Calvinism. The most influential avenue into Reformed theology for college students, however, is found in the immense popularity of several contemporary speakers/authors.
Calvinism and Popular Speakers

Reformed pastors and theologians are popular among collegians. Whether through sermons at collegiate conferences or through books, many students are being introduced to Calvinism by these well-known Reformed "personalities." These include Presbyterians such as R. C. Sproul and the late Francis Schaeffer, Anglicans such as J. I. Packer and Gerald Bray, and Baptists such as Donald Whitney, John MacArthur, and John Piper. Of these pastors and theologians, Piper apparently is the most influential among Baptist college students.

John Piper is pastor of the 2000 member Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Piper's sermons and books are distributed through his teaching ministry, Desiring God Ministries, and he is a frequent conference speaker. (46) Piper's popularity among Southern Baptists--he served as keynote speaker for a fall 2003 conference at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary on worship and missions and as the lecturer for the Mullins Preaching Lectures at Southern Seminary in 1999--is more evidence of the increasing openness to
Calvinism in the denomination.

The doctrinal perspective found in Piper's writings is explicitly Reformed. In his popular treatment of the doctrine of God, The Pleasures of God, Piper has a chapter entitled "The Pleasure of God in Election" and an appendix entitled "Are There Two wills in God? Divine Election and God's Desire for All to Be Saved." (47) In his most popular book, Desiring God, Piper promoted what he calls "Christian Hedonism," the idea that "God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him." (48) Piper attempted to ground Christian Hedonism in the first question of the Westminster Shorter Catechism, which asks, "What is the chief end of man?" The answer is, "The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy him forever." (49) Piper's favorite theologian is the eighteenth-century Puritan "prince," Jonathan Edwards, whom he quotes and promotes frequently. (50) Piper has also written other popular books that emphasize Calvinist perspectives. (51)

Many college students have been introduced to Piper via the immensely popular Passion and OneDay Conferences for collegians, the brainchild of Louie Giglio. The "college worship movement," initiated in 1997 with a conference attended by 2,000 students, drew 200,000 students to a 2000 spiritual renewal event in Memphis, Tennessee, the largest collegiate gathering of its kind. Contemporary Christian music, Piper, and other speakers dot the program of the spiritual retreats.

Passion Conferences are not explicitly Calvinistic, but they stress that the lives of students should glorify God rather than be human centered. "Our lives exist for God," Giglio has proclaimed, "God doesn't exist for us. I think if we can really grab onto the thought that life is not about us, it frees us to really live in the full potential of what we were created to do." (52) While this message is common to the larger Christian tradition, it is especially highlighted in the recent Calvinistic renewal in Baptist life. Passion Conferences have helped popularize the ministry of Piper with college students. His books are undoubtedly a significant gateway to Calvinism for Baptist young people, and at least in some cases, become the interpretive lenses through which the Bible is read.
Conclusion

Calvinism among Southern Baptists appears to be alive and well. Southern Baptist publications include Calvinist works, and some seminaries, especially Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, provide fertile ground for the training of Calvinist ministers. Multiple opportunities exist for Baptist collegians to be exposed to Calvinist theology. The three most likely "gateways" for a student to be introduced to and nurtured by a Calvinist perspective are Reformed campus ministries, Christian contemporary music, and popular speakers and authors like John Piper and R. C. Sproul.

Why is there a "youth for Calvin movement?" Tom Ascol contended that "The revival of Reformed theology is growing among younger pastors and ministers in training. This is largely a young church leader movement. Boomers and busters are willing to put aside preconceived notions. More and more seminary and college students are coming to see that the doctrines are nothing more than an accurate summary of the biblical teaching of salvation." (53) Understood from this perspective, campus ministry, Christian contemporary music, and popular Calvinist speakers are three avenues that introduce students to Calvinist concepts who then go to the Bible and see that Calvin "rightly divide(d) the Word of truth."

Non-Calvinists have not found Calvinism so easily in the pages of the Bible. Non-Calvinist observers also have found Ascol's analysis hermeneutically deficient and have suggested that young people, as all readers of scripture, read the Bible through the lenses of history, culture, and tradition. In this case, campus ministries, contemporary Christian music, and the writings of popular Reformed theology have become the Calvinist lenses through which students read the Bible. The books of John Piper, for example, function like the notes of the Scofield Reference Bible did for dispensationalists in the past. Non-Calvinist analysts also often suggest that the resurgence of Calvinism is evidence of the fundamentalist desire for absolutes and the safety of a definite, concrete system of beliefs for postmodern society--"unchanging truths for changing times." (54)

How will the "youth for Calvin" movement impact the future of Southern Baptists? Since contemporary Calvinists are usually inerrantists, oppose women pastorates, and support the Baptist Faith and Message 2000, they and non-Calvinist Southern Baptists have successfully co-existed as long as non-inerrantists provide a common enemy. (55) At some point in the future, however, some analysts surmise that the insistence upon doctrinal conformity in recent Southern Baptist life will inevitably result in an internecine battle between the two different inerrantist perspectives.

What might be the final institutional outcome of Baptist youth embracing Calvinism? Perhaps Calvinism will become the dominant theology once again and successfully challenge many of the accepted Arminianized Southern Baptist practices of evangelistic worship. Perhaps many Calvinists will become disillusioned with the SBC and choose to affiliate with Reformed Baptist denominations. Some may even opt for conservative Presbyterianism and the classical Reformed tradition. What is certain is that Calvinism will continue to be present in Southern Baptist life as long as Baptist collegians continue to find it appealing.

(1.) This story was an experience of Doug Weaver.
(2.) In this article, Reformed and Calvinism will be used interchangeably. Reformed theology is, of course, not monolithic.
(3.) Nathan Finn, the coauthor of this article, was one of those students with an articulate Calvinist theology.
(4.) H. Leon McBeth, The Baptist Heritage: Four Centuries of Baptist Witness (Nashville: Broadman Press, 1987), 773.
(5.) "Abstract of Principles," The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary Catalog (2001-2002), 7-8. Mark Wingfield, "Directors of Missions Plead with SBC Leaders for Unity," Baptist Standard (September 25, 2000), http://www.baptiststandard.com (accessed September 3, 2003). Non-Calvinists have read the Abstract of Principles differently. Bill Leonard notes that James Boyce, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary when the confession was composed, said that "upon no point, upon which the denomination is divided, should the Convention, and through it the Seminary, take a position." Consequently, according to Leonard, the Abstract of Principles acknowledged Christ's work as mediator, "but no single view of the atonement is explicit in the statement.... Boyce himself refused to make questions of double predestination, alien immersion, or close communion a test of fellowship at the seminary." In Leonard's view, Boyce's approach eschewed a forced synthesis but epitomized a grand compromise in Southern Baptist life. See Bill J. Leonard, God's Last and Only Hope: The Fragmentation of the Southern Baptist Convention (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans, 1990), 38-39.
(6.) For example, see "Articles of Faith," Chinch Minutes, 1854, Second Baptist Church, Atlanta. See also Stone Mountain Baptist Association, Minutes (September 7, 1955). For a recent monograph that treats Calvinism and church covenants, see Gregory A. Wills, Democratic Religion: Freedom and Authority in the Baptist South, 1785-1900 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1997).
(7.) At issue is whether E. Y. Mullins was the key factor in modifying Calvinism in the SBC with his focus upon Christian experience. Clearly, he did develop a modified calvinism. According to Paul Basden, "Mullins could use the same words to describe God that were previously used by Calvinists, but he reinterpreted them in a personal and relational way." See Paul Basden, "Predestination," in Has Our Theology Changed? Southern Baptist Thought Since 1845, ed. Paul Rasden (Nashville: Broadman and Holman, 1994), 51. See also Walter D. Draughton III, "Atonement," in Has Our Theology Changed?, 84-96. See also Fisher Humphreys, "E. Y. Mullins," in Theologians of the Baptist Tradition, eds. Timothy George and David S. Dockery (Nashville: Broadman and Holman, 2001), 183-34. For a strong Reformed interpretation that Mullins marked a major shift in Calvinism as "Baptist orthodoxy," see Thomas J. Nettles, By His Grace and For His Glory: A Historical, Theological, and Practical Study, 2nd ed. (Lake Charles, LA: Cor Meum Tibi, 2002), 246-57.
(8.) Fisher Humphreys, The Way We Were: How Southern Baptist Theology Has Change and What it Means to Us All (New York: McCracken Press, 1994), 85. Humphreys relies on the oft-cited work of Walter Shurden that describes four contributing traditions to the formative years of the SBC: Sandy Creek, Charleston, Georgia, and Tennessee traditions.
(9.) Separate Baptists professed to be Calvinists but preached free will like Arminians who invited to salvation "whosoever believes." See McBeth, The Baptist Heritage, 774. See also Bill J. Leonard, "Baptists in Appalachia," Baptist History and Heritage, 37, no. 3 (Summer/Fall 2002), 22-23. See also Bill J. Leonard, God's Last and Only Hope: The Fragmentation of the Southern Baptist Convention (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans, 1990), 34, 67.
(10.) The New Hampshire Confession of Faith and the Baptist Faith and Message of 1925 can be found in William Lumpkin, Baptist Confessions of Faith (Valley Forge: Judson Press, 1969). Lumpkin noted that the Calvinism in the New Hampshire Confession is a modified form. He also noted that the 1925 document was indebted to the New Hampshire Confession. See pp. 361, 391. See also Bill Leonard, Baptist Ways (Valley Forge: Judson Press, 2003), 190-91.
(11.) Basden, Has Our Theology Changed?, 50-56.
(12.) Baptists accept the Calvinist emphasis on perseverance of the saints. They reject four points of Calvinism, the fourth being total depravity. Almost all Baptists believe in the universal pervasiveness of sin, but would deny that sin renders the individual incapable of positively responding to God. The latter idea is the Reformed doctrine of total depravity.
(13.) Timothy George says that a "strong Calvinist undercurrent has always been present just beneath the surface in Southern Baptist life." The favorite hymn for Baptists, for example, has always been "Amazing Grace." George noted, however, that Southern Baptists have developed a strong dislike for "hyper-Calvinism," a "Southern Baptist ghost" that devalues missions and evangelism and thus haunts Baptists who fear a resurgence of Calvinism of any type. Hyper-Calvinism took root on the frontier in the ministry of "Two-Seed-in-the-Spirit-Predestinarian" Daniel Parker. See Timothy George, "Sotuhern Baptist Ghosts," First Things, 93 (May 1999), 22-23.
(14.) In a book that explains some issues in the current Calvinist debate in helpful and irenic terms from a non-Calvinist perspective, Fisher Humphreys and Paul E. Robertson fail to speak about distinctions among Calvinists. See Fisher Humphreys and Paul E. Robertson, God So Loved the World: Traditional Baptists and Calvinism (New Orleans: Insight Press, 2000).
(15.) Critics suggest that evangelistic methods inevitably modify Calvinism and point to the missions legacy of Carey.
(16.) For Phil Roberts's defense of his Calvinism, see "Phil Roberts Named 4th President of Midwestern Seminary by Unanimous Vote," Baptist Press (January 9, 2001). For Mark Coppinger's Calvinist beliefs, see Barry Hankins, Uneasy in Babylon: Southern Baptist Conservatives and American Culture (Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2002), 31-36.
(17.) The authors are unaware of any Calvinists on the faculty of Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary.
(18.) Wingfield, "Directors of Missions Plead with SBC Leaders for Unity."
(19.) See Timothy George, Amazing Grace: God's Initiative, Our Response (Nashville: LifeWay Christian Resources, 2000).
(20.) See Tom Nettles and Russell Moore, Why I Am a Baptist (Nashville: Broadman and Holman, 2001). Both editors are Calvinists as are many, but not all, of the contributors. See also, John Piper, Brothers We Are Not Professionals (Nashville: Broadman and Holman, 2002). This devotional book for pastors includes Piper's explicit Calvinist theology. See also, Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary, rev. (Nashville: Broadman and Holman, 2003. Contributors come from a variety of evangelical theological persuasions with several articles by noted Calvinists.
(21.) Information about Founders Ministries can be found on their Website, http://www.founders.org (accessed August 2, 2003).
(22.) McBeth, The Baptist Heritage, 774.
(23.) See http://www.founders.org (accessed August 2, 2003).
(24.) 21 Both authors attended the conference.
(25.) Mary Knox, "Calvinism Making a Comeback on Some College Campuses," Associated Baptist Press (March 27, 2003).
(26.) In 1997, the most recent year statistics were available, almost as many students were active in Baptist Student Unions (105,232) as in Campus Crusade for Christ, Intervarsity Christian Fellowship, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and the Navigators combined (approximately 112,000). E-mail from Joe Graham, Collegiate Ministries, Georgia Baptist Convention, to Nathan Finn, June 4, 2003.
(27.) Reformed University Fellowship's Website is http://www.ruf.org. For specific information about RUF's theological beliefs, see "Foundations," http://www.ruf.org/beliefs/beliefs.htm (accessed August 4, 2003).
(28.) See "Campuses," http://www.ruf.org/places.htm (accessed August 4, 2003).
(29.) Campus Outreach Ministries, "About Us--Our History," http://www.campusoutreach.org/templates/cusco/details.asp?id=21641&PID=43564 (accessed August 4, 2003).
(30.) Campus Outreach Ministries, "About Us--What We Believe," http://www.campusoutreach.org/templates/cusco/details.asp?id=21641&PID=59360 (accessed August 4, 2003).
(31.) In a music book of Jesus pop tunes that had "Amazing Grace," Kum Ba Ya," and "He's Got the Whole World in His Hands," the following were also included: "Brother Love's Traveling Salvation Show," by Neil Diamond; "Spirit in the Sky," by Norman Greenbaum; and "My Sweet Lord," by George Harrison. The lyrics of the Harrison tune actually included the "Hare Krishna" chorus that reflected the singer's interest in the Hindu tradition. See "Jesus Rock--He Is Love" (New York: Charles Hansen Music and Books, 1971).
(32.) For information on contemporary Christian music, see the journal CCM. See also Mark Allen Powell, Encyclopedia of Contemporary Christian Music (Peabody, MS: Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., 2002).
(33.) Tim Harms, "REVIEW: Bebo Norman defies odds to become influential musician," Baptist Press (November 20, 2002).
(34.) "Big Blue Sky," Bebo Norman, Watershed Records, 2001.
(35.) http://www.doveawards.com/newsroom/article.cfm?NewsID=54
(36.) See the link entitled "Biography" at Caedmon's Call's official web page, http://www.caedmonscall.com (accessed August 20, 2003).
(37.) Harris, "Green Acres," 27.
(38.) See "Bebo Norman Defies Odds to Become Influential Musician," Baptist Press, 20 November 2002.
(39.) See http://www.caedmonscall.net/derekbio.htm (accessed August 20, 2003).
(40.) See http://www.caedmonscall.net/joshbio.htm (accessed August 20, 2003).
(41.) "Thankful," 40 Acres, [c] Essential Records, 1999. Words and music by Derek Webb. Italics added by authors of this article.
(42.) In the Company of Angels: A Call to Worship, [c] Essential Records, 2002.
(43.) Ibid.
(44.) Words and music by Mark Altrogge @ 1992 Integrity's Praise! Music/People of Destiny International/BMI. PDI, the company's original name, referred to People of Destiny International.
(45.) http://www.igracemusic.com/igracemusic/ (accessed August 20, 2003).
(46.) See http://www.desiringGOD.org (accessed September 8, 2003). Piper's church is affiliated with the Baptist General Conference.
(47.) John Piper, The Pleasures of God: Meditations on God's Delight in Being God, rev. and exp. ed (Sisters, OR: Multnomah: 2000). The appendix originally appeared as a chapter in Thomas Schreiner and Bruce Ware, eds., The Grace of God, The Bondage of the Will (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1995).
(48.) John Piper, Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist, 2d ed. (Sisters, OR: Multnomah, 1996).
(49.) Ibid., 15.
(50.) Piper, Desiring God, 39. In 1998, Piper reprinted Edwards's The End for Which God Created the World as part of Piper's tribute to Edwards's theology, entitled God's Passion for His Glory.
(51.) John Piper, A Hunger for God: Desiring God Through Fasting and Prayer (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 1997). John Piper, The Supremacy of God in Preaching (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1990). John Piper, Let the Nations Be Glad: The Supremacy of GOd in Missions (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1993). John Piper, The Justification of God: An Exegetical and Theological Study of Romans 9:1-23, 2nd ed. (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1993). John Piper, Counted Righteous in Christ (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2002). Wayne Grudem and John Piper, eds., Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood: A Response to Evangelical Feminism (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 1991). John Piper, God's Passion for His Glory (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 1998).
(52.) Leann Calloway, "What is Passion? College Worship Movement Growing," Baptist Standard (August 22, 2003), http://www.baptiststandard.com (accessed September 3, 2003).
(53.) Keith Hinson, "Calvinism Resurging Among SBC's Young Elites," Christianity Today (October 6, 1997), http://www.christianitytoday.com (accessed September 8, 2003). Some Southern Baptists have written against Calvinism in the denomination. See Frank S. Page, Trouble with the TULIP (Canton, GA: Riverstone Group Publishing, 2000).
(54.) McBeth, The Baptist Heritage, 775.
(55.) Wingfield, "Directors of Missions Plead with SBC Leaders for Unity." Timothy George noted that some moderate Baptists are Calvinists. See George, "Southern Baptist Ghosts," 23. Moderates consist of a numerous theological perspectives, but Calvinism is a quiet and most likely, a small minority.

C. Douglas Weaver is professor of religion at Baylor University, Waco, Texas, and Nathan A. Finn is a student at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Kentucky.

9 Comments:

Blogger D.R. said...

As a Calvinist, I appreciate you posting on your blog a rather fair assessment of the Reformed movement among Evangelicals and especially Southern Baptists. However, I would strongly urge you to not lump the Calvinist movement in the SBC with the Dominionist or Reconstructionistic Calvinism of Rushdooney and others. The stream of Calvinism in the SBC is strictly soteriological and missiological. Rarely will you see Calvinists in the SBC concerning themselves with engaging in political spheres. In fact, while it is true that most Calvinists vote Republican, it is mostly because of social policy and not because of any sort of overall political agenda. Many Calvinists actually view politics as counter-doctrinal, in that using politics to acheive any sort of spiritual ends goes against the Doctrine of God's Sovereignty and actually causes one to put trust in the State rather than in God, Himself.

So, I think it best to separate what is being talked about on the talktoaction.com website in regards to Christian Reconstructionism and Calvinism from the new Reformed movement in Evangelicalism until such a time as they are shown to be actually related to one another, something for which I have yet to find evidence and for which sufficient evidence has yet to be presented.

2:02 AM

 
Blogger Nathan Finn said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

5:56 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have heard that Baptist churches spread more rapidly on the frontier than presbies because of the lack of trained presby pastors.
Apparently rigourous theological training was not as much as a requirement for Baptist pastors during those times. This could account for the move away from calvinism among Baptists.

5:54 AM

 
Blogger Nathan Finn said...

Aaron,
I would be interested to hear your "young moderate leader" take on the SBC this year, including the discussions about Calvinism. I know you don't post regularly, but I still think it would be interesting to hear a non-SBC perspective.
NAF

11:04 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Am I to assume from the tone of your other blog entries that you think Calvinism is a bad thing?

11:13 AM

 
Blogger Timothy Davis said...

Glad to hear of a return to historic Baptist belief amongst our American Baptist brethren.

2:11 PM

 
Blogger J. Gray said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

10:31 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am a trustee of Golden Gate Seminary, and I will attest that there are several self-identified Calvinists on our faculty. We have added atleast two in the last two years and a third just this month. Our president, Dr. Iorg also identifies himself as a Calvinist, but does not make a big deal of it. Speaking of a recent faculty addition, who described himself as an "evangelistic Calvinist," Dr. Iorg commented, "Doesn't that just mean you're a Baptist?"

5:02 PM

 
Blogger Shelly said...

I was brought to an understanding of the Doctrines of Grace when I was in college 25 years ago (a bastion of secular humanism - The University of Texas). I am currently a devoted member of an SBC church as well as a hard-core five point Calvinist. It's my belief that many college students embrace Calvinism because of its intellectual and logical appeal. That's certainly something that appealed (and still appeals) to me. It has also been my experience that young Calvinists tend to be a little arrogant, because of the larger view of God that Reformed theology brings. However, as they grow in grace, that attitude is usually corrected by the Holy Spirit Himself. As I have matured in my faith I have learned that, although I am much more orthodox than most of my fellow SBC local church members, many, if not most, of them actually know and love God better than I do. Praise God that He does not require strict orthodoxy as a prerequisite for membership in His body. True, right thinking is important, but we are not saved by what we believe, but rather by Whom we trust.

6:35 PM

 

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