CRESTWOOD, Ky. (BP) -- A panel of four Southern Baptist leaders Saturday (Aug. 4) talked honestly about the division within the convention over the issue of Calvinism while offering suggestions and maintaining that Southern Baptists should and can unite, despite differences.
|"If we can do missions and evangelism together ... then we can pull this thing together." |
-- Frank Page
"Baptists for 400 years have disagreed over this issue, and we're not going to come to some place where we all agree. I think we can come to a place where we all can work together," said Union University President David Dockery, one of the speakers at a conference sponsored by the Kentucky Baptist Convention. The conference, called "Calvinism: Concerned, Confused, or Curious," was held at Crestwood (Ky.) Baptist Church.
"In the 18th century, there were particular [Calvinist] and general Baptists, but at the sending of [missionary] William Carey, they joined hands together for the common cause of missions. That's something we can do again," Dockery added.
Other speakers were Steve Lemke, director of the Baptist Center for Theology and Ministry at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary; Hershael York, associate dean of the school of theology at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky.; and Frank Page, president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Executive Committee.
The conference included two lectures by Dockery on the history of Baptists and Calvinism, a dialogue between York and Lemke, a panel discussion featuring all four speakers and a charge by Page on his vision for a unified convention.
"Right now, there is deep division in our convention over this issue," Page said. "It comes every year at the convention [annual meeting]. It is not going to stop until we learn how to treat each other, how to be honest, how to clarify what we really are saying."
There are "extremes" on both sides of the issue, Page said. Lemke agreed.
"We've got to rein in some of the people on our sides," Lemke said. "Some of these poster boys for Calvinism are hurting the cause of Calvinism horribly -- some of these guys on blogs that have an un-Christlike spirit and are just mean. ... At the same time, there are some people on my side who are mean and they really don't understand Calvinism. ... They misrepresent or caricature Calvinism. I can't rein in people on the Calvinist side. Dr. York has to do that. And he can't rein in the people on my side. I have to do that." Read More