Southern Baptist Theology — Whence and Whither?

I rejoice in the growing awareness of Reformed theology among Southern Baptists today. I know of nothing that has happened in the history of salvation since the days of James P. Boyce and B. H. Carroll which would make their understanding of God’s grace obsolete in the modern world. To the contrary, a renewed commitment to the sovereignty of God in salvation, worship that centers on the glory of God rather than the entertainment of the audience, and a perspective on history and culture which sees Jesus Christ as Lord of time and eternity, all of this can only result in the building up of the Body of Christ.

At the same time, it is imperative for Reformed Southern Baptists to guard against the real dangers of hyper-Calvinism which emphasizes divine sovereignty to the exclusion of human responsibility and which denies that the offer of the gospel is to be extended to all peoples everywhere. And, as we call on our fellow Baptist brothers and sisters to return to the rock from which we were hewn, we must learn to live in gracious equipoise with some of them who don’t ring all five bells quite the same way we do! In this regard we do well to heed the following statement by the great missionary statesman Luther Rice: “How absurd it is, therefore, to contend against the doctrine of election, or decrees, or divine sovereignty. Let us not, however, become bitter against those who view this matter in a different light, nor treat them in a super serious manner; rather let us be gentle towards all men. For who has made us to differ from what we once were? Who has removed the scales from our eyes?”

–Timothy George, “Southern Baptist Theology–Whence and Whither?” Founders Journal, Issue 19/20, Winter/Spring 1995, pp. 29-30.