Sunday, May 10, 2009

As Promised - I am Commenting... Pt. 1

“The purpose in a man’s heart is like deep water, but a man of understanding will draw it out.”
(Proverbs 20:5 ESV)

A few months ago I blogged briefly about an article in Christianity Today™ that discussed an accusation against SWBTS (Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary) accusing them of a ploy to fire Calvinists from their staff. I posted a link to this interesting article, which you can read here.

To be honest, I would not be surprised either way. Not to dishonor the president of SWBTS, nor to dishonor the other parties involved, but I have been involved in church-life long enough to not really get surprised about much. As far as I know, Dr. Patterson is an Arminian, and if there is a competitive thing going on with Southern, then I could see a possible motivation. But, I don't know. However, I must be careful to not quickly judge the situation with limited knowledge about what all is going on.

However, I do have this to say. Christians have got to stop making sweeping generalizations about people who are identified as 'Arminian' or 'Calvinist'. This is a dangerous and un-loving habit. One of my good friends and mentors was once asked how to best deal with a certain group of believers in his church and he responded, "It's not how we deal with this group or that, the question we should be asking is how we serve one another in love." Amen.

For instance, I know people who would call themselves "Reformed", but they are more Lutheran Reformed soteriologically (salvation), but Dispensationalist in their hermeneutic (bible study method) and eschatology (belief about the end times). This seems inconsistent with our little labels doesn't it? The same is true for the terms 'Emergent' vs. 'Emerging'. They are both different in meaning and what they stand for. However, if one is identified as 'Emergent', this doesn't automatically mean that they deny the Virgin birth of Jesus, etc.

All this to say, I think IF there was a hunt out to get the Calvinists professors at SWBTS out of the faculty I would be very sad. I would be equally sad if the same was happening towards Arminian professors. IF this were the case, then I would be concerned for the seminary. In my time at the Houston campus of SWBTS I was blessed to have Arminian, Calvinist, and Calminian™ (I made it up) professors. It helped to balance me out. To be honest, I entered into seminary with some pretty firm theological convictions that have remained, but have been refined by these awesome, Godly men. I give thanks to God for my time at SWBTS and pray that they will continue to provide a broad-scope of theological views that are within the bounds of orthodoxy and baptistic theology.

My prayer is that this whole thing at the seminary was a huge exaggeration or misunderstanding. However, there is a chance that this is not the case, and if so, I pray that the Lord would offer correction in His kindness.

Lord, help us to be a people who are known by the way that we love one another. (John 13:35)