Friends, the last few days have been very frustrating for me. I have watched as a recurring debate has erupted, both on the social networks and in Baptist newspapers over whether and to what extent Baptists should or should not be disturbed by a resurgence of Calvinism in our seminaries and pulpits. I'm not going to get into who I think is right or wrong. That would only fuel the debate even more, and to no good purpose.
Why, I ask, are we debating this when 70% of our SBC churches are either plateaued or in decline? This sad state of affairs cannot be blamed on resurgent Calvinism because the best estimates I've seen put Calvinists in pulpits in the SBC at only about 10%. Something else is driving the downward spiral of our churches. But rather than try to face and deal with that we choose to debate theological minutiae like the Medieval Schoolmen who debated how many angels could dance on the head of a pin.
It's time to set aside the theological wrangling for a minute and refocus on the Gospel. Both Calvinists and non-Calvinists in the SBC (at least the ones I know) believe in the free offer of salvation to all who hear the Gospel. Both believe that it is the responsibility of every believer to share his/her faith with unbelievers and call them to repent of their sins and trust in Christ for salvation. Both believe that whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. Both believe in biblical inerrancy and justification by faith alone in Christ alone. Both believe in the substitutionary atoning work of Christ on the cross.
How can we show a lost world the love of Christ if we can't even show it to each other? It's time to refocus on the main thing. We've got a lot of churches that are dying. Why? Each church has its own particular pathology that must be faced and dealt with. But behind it all may lie a kind of subconscious hardshellism that says "our four and no more." Oh, we would never state it so blatantly (okay, so I've heard of one church that did), but it prevails, I suspect in many of our churches. We say "Everyone is Welcome", but are they really? Do we want drug addicts, alcoholics, prostitutes, and swindlers (you know, the people Jesus went to) coming through the doors of our churches? Our priorities are out of focus, and repentance needs to start with us if we're going to reach a lost nation and a lost world.