Akin commends, cautions Calvinist advocates
Akin, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, N.C., spoke from 3 John, exhorting Founders attendees June 23 to live graciously in the manner of two men named in the epistle, Gaius and Demetrius, and not in the manner of Diotrephes, who was egotistical and rejected authority.
Akin is one of the architects of the "Great Commission Resurgence Declaration" that led to the approval of a Great Commission Task Force during the SBC annual meeting's evening session June 23.
"One of the things that is at the heart of the Great Commission declaration is that we would have a radical reorientation of the way we live life, the way we look at life, the way we do life," Akin said. "What we profess, our creed, needs to be more in alignment with our deeds.
"And if we really do believe that Jesus is the only Savior, and if we really do believe that there is an eternal heaven and an eternal hell, it makes all the difference. If that is ever before your mind's eye day in and day out, I promise you, it will change your priorities. It will change the way you do church. It will change the way you lead your people to change the way they think about who they are as devoted disciples of the Lord Jesus."
Akin expressed a deep appreciation and kinship with Founders Ministries, a group that, according to its website, seeks the recovery of the SBC's Calvinistic roots. Akin noted 10 points of appreciation for Founders, citing the group's commitment to:
-- A robust understanding of the Gospel and the biblical reform of local churches.
-- Confessionalism and sound doctrine.
-- Regenerate church membership within local congregations.
-- The recovery of biblical church discipline in local congregations.
-- Expository preaching that is both theological and practical.
-- Biblical inerrancy.
-- Penal substitutionary atonement.
-- Salvation by grace alone.
-- God's sovereignty and providence.
-- The glory of God in all things.
Akin followed with seven areas of caution for Founders and others within the SBC who hold to Reformed doctrine:
-- Don't emphasize Calvinism to such a degree as to exclude non-Reformed Christians. He urged Founders to take a balanced, loving approach to other Christians.
-- Take the high road in their rhetoric, even when others do not.
-- Avoid coming across as a theological elitist.
-- Be known as a Great Commission Calvinist in the mold of William Carey, founder of the modern missions movement.
-- Be a Great Commission Christian and cultivate a love for the nations.
-- Participate in healthy church planting.
-- Do not be known more as a follower of John Calvin than of Jesus Christ.
Akin, who affirms four of the "five points" of Calvinism, concluded with further encouragement for Calvinists in the SBC by reading a written statement he said that had been carefully crafted.
"Please hear my heart this morning," he said. "I absolutely do not think those who sit in this room are to be simply tolerated as redheaded step-children, country cousins who we pray will not show up at the picnic. I don't think you are a weird minority in the Southern Baptist Convention and if I have ever sounded like that, I hope that you will forgive me. I never, ever want to give you that impression.
"I see you as a significant and important part of our family. I want you to know that I sincerely want to partner with you and all Southern Baptists who love the Lord Jesus, who love the Gospel and who love the nations.
"Contrary to what some feel -- and I think their number, though vocal, is small -- I don't want to run you out of the Southern Baptist Convention. I will stand against those who might try. You are real Southern Baptists who are Calvinists, who represent a vital and important stream in our history. My prayer for you and our convention is: let's wed, in a healthy balance, our creeds and our deeds for the glory of God, for the good of the nations as we seek to fulfill the final marching orders of our crucified and risen Savior."
Jeff Robinson is director of news and information at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.