Featured Resurgence of Particular Redemption and Reformed Leaning Theology in the SBC

Discussion in 'Church History' started by Roger D Duke, Nov 29, 2018.

  1. Roger D Duke

    Roger D Duke Puritan Board Freshman

    To all who are Presbyterian or Reformed:

    What are some observations you may have anecdotally concerning the reemergence of Particular Redemption and Reformed leaning doctrines amongst Baptists in general and the SBC in particular. No pun intended.

    This should give me some good food for thought.

    Get back to me when you can please.


  2. Jake

    Jake Puritan Board Junior

    My journey to becoming Reformed started in Baptist churches, being raised in an SBC church. The issue of "Calvinism" was divisive in my local church and association, as it seemed new pastors and others had to necessarily fall to one side or the other. Calvinism was a broad term, which included everyone from Mark Driscoll to John MacArthur to Wayne Grudem.

    I ended up finding the breadth of the confessional Reformed tradition and finding that to be more satisfying than a loose group of "5 pointers." The Calvinism that is becoming more widespread in the SBC appears to be disconnected from even Baptist confessionalism by-and-large. The 1689 Confession would be a great improvement. Southern Seminary is being credited for an uptick in Reformed-thought in Baptists, but they are also propagating New Covenant Theology. As an example, despite a stated desire to cling to their old confessional standard as an institution, the Abstract of Principles, its section on the Lord's Day seems to be ignored by their NCT faculty.

    In general, the "New Calvinism" movement is much bigger than the Founder's movement, the latter of which is closer to Reformed Theology.
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  3. Contra_Mundum

    Contra_Mundum Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger Staff Member

    I'm not sure these thoughts are anything better than musings.

    First, I agree with your choice of terms, specific terms for this or that doctrine, rather than broad characterizations, such as the borrowing of the proper name "Reformed" (which at one time was a full Confession not reducible to "the 5-points" or something only slightly wider in description). I don't object to the neologism of "Reformed" used primarily as an adjective because we are bound to the history in which we reside, but the late use does call for clarity when much of what the Reformed confessed as a full body of doctrine is not affirmed as such by Baptist brethren.

    That leads me to another thought, namely that I suppose what is in evidence with the reemergence is proof that two sets of mountain climbers can take the same summit of theology using very different routes. I mean, there are two distinct hermeneutics at work, divided between the Presbyterian/Reformed and the Baptist. And yet, in spite of this dual approach, a common consent over the principle of sola scriptura and certain interpretive rules allows for two parties to find and stake out very similar ground.

    But then, perhaps the two approaches also lead to a certain variety in how in general different parties experience theological decline. What peculiarities of a Baptist stance may have led to the loss of (robust) representation of Particular Redemption within Baptist/SBC? Surely there are many factors in the complex-causation nexus: theological constitution, history, demographics, hermeneutics, just to name a few. And lest anyone think this is some partisan criticism, I'll just add here for the record (since the question didn't ask about Presbyterian decline), the same sort of analysis could be brought to bear upon the other approach.

    If one is able to gather some clues that could help explain the loss of Particular Redemption (widely, not wholly) among the Baptists on this continent; that may (possibly) lead to more fruitful exploration of the causes of its reemergence. Is it a retracing of steps, ala the Founders movement? Is it a back-to-basics mentality as far as seminary education goes, a rebuilding of the reputation of solid conservative scholarship, the attraction of "courage of conviction" to young men contemplating the ministry, and a willingness to actually submit to what the Bible says and teach that (without massaging it first)?

    In spite of caricatures from certain quarters, the soteriology with Particular Redemption at its core is not philosophically rooted among those Confessionally bound to it, it is not the product of an a priori. If we admit the Confessional (or Abstract of Principles') derivation from Scripture alone, the whole soteriological description appears to us to arise naturally from the text. As with every system of doctrine, there are places in Scripture that appear to challenge the result or final conclusion of the accumulation of data into a rational order; but are these addressed? Are these treated soberly and fairly, as hermeneutical (not philosophical) issues?

    Therefore, it seems plain to me that some significant aspect of the reemergence of Particular Redemption should be attributed to an earnest desire, born of the Spirit, to truly love, understand, and proclaim the truth of God's Word. This doctrine is bound to make a perennial comeback when a premium is once again placed on a renewed commitment to biblical authority. One must first be in principle submitted (really, truly) to the Word, before that Word has any chance of overruling the natural preferences that regularly filter and cloud one's reading.

    I'm minded of Saul's conversion experience; his physical blindness (imposed, briefly) was removed as a symbol of the renovation of his spiritual insights. They had been reformed in agreement with Stephen's perceptive command of Moses and the Prophets; hence Saul preached Christ Jesus in the same manner as him whom he once saw to the death. The Word overmastered him, in more ways than one, so that he now preached boldly what he once considered foolishness and scandal. It was not the philosophical force of the consistency of Stephen's argument that won Saul over; he had bowed in submission to the Word. He was convinced in spite of his preferences, and afterward endured the loss of all things.

    So, the question might be: will the reemergence of Particular Redemption, or an insistence on "the 5-points," result in the willingness of many pastors, members, and whole churches to endure the loss of all things? The whole NAPARC world could exist unnoticed (numerically) within the SBC, probably even within the nominally "Calvinistic" SBC contingent, at barely 1/2 million souls. The OPC (my denomination) barely registers <1/10 of that total. In the early 20th century the OPC lost everything for the sake of the gospel, a truth that includes Particular Redemption; though, that element was not one of the issues. Could it be an issue, or the issue, for the SBC?

    Different Confessions. Different hermeneutics. But the same (basic) doctrine. So, the same... suffering?
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  4. Roger D Duke

    Roger D Duke Puritan Board Freshman

    brother. Bruce,

    Thanks for the come back. Why don't you tell us how you really, really feel? LOL!

    I am proud that there are some true observers and critics of what has been happening in the SBC of late to offer such in-depth observations. Me thinks if you and I were in close physical proximity and could spend the time we could be friends indeed.

    Thank you again.



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