I recently read an interesting post by Trevin Wax, a student of my former and soon to be again seminary! In this post he attempts to break the rumors that Southern Baptist Theological Seminary is predominantly and thoroughly Calvinistic when it comes to its faculty and students. There is no doubt that Southern Seminary is known for it’s lean towards reformed theology. I’m sure some of the influence is due to Al Mohler’s leadership and his position on the 5-points of the well known TULIP, of which I find absolutely no problem with.
As a newbie to reformed academics in 2003 debating which seminary to go with I decided to go with Southern based mostly on its reputation for it’s academics and balance with ministry. Being reformed had little to do with my decision although I do see it now as an added benefit. Being in class there were definitely times were distinction was evident among the faculty concerning Calvinist and non-Calvinist views. One thing that did impress me more than anything was the fairness of views expressed by the faculty. No bashing, anti this or that, no criticizing cloaked in innocent jokes. Now I can’t speak for every class and every professor but from the two years of classes that I took I have been blessed by the professors integrity and concern for differing views.
Those concerned with Southern and it’s views on Calvinism should rejoice at the number of students who are continually being interested in their Southern Baptist roots. Clever rhetoric, philosophical arguments, or poor exegesis are no longer being tolerated among younger evangelicals whether Calvinist or not. For those who are of the Calvinistic liking, maybe I haven’t been around much but I have yet to meet anyone who cares little for evangelism in reformed circles. Although I have met Calvinists who do not evangelize as much as they would like due to nerves or lack of training this would be more of a category error where non-Calvinists fit in as well. I have also yet to see any legitimate study where those who espouse Calvinism evangelize less than their differing brothers.
I love my non-reformed brothers and sisters and am encouraged to see the continuing interest in the growth of the young reformed. I am sure much of the cause to the John 3:16 Conference is a reaction to this resurgence. Whether it is a good or bad reaction I guess we’ll find out soon.
As a side note those who are on a crusade to make the spread of Calvinism the main issue in life. Tip for you–> Give it up! Calvinism is not the Gospel!
For more resources on the resurgence of reformed theology among young evangelicals:
- Christianity Today: Young, Restless, Reformed – A good friend and groomsman of mine Brad Cochran mentioned in this article.
- Mark Devers: Where’d All These Calvinists Come From? – Broken up in 10 parts Mark Dever of 9Marks highlights some of the main influences of Calvinism today.
- Building Bridges Conference: Southern Baptists and Calvinism – Click here for all the audio and pdf files.
- Young Evangelicals and Calvinism – An interview with Collin Hansen former assistant editor to Christianity Today
- Christianity Today: TULIP Blooming
- Trevin Wax: Southern Seminary and Calvinism