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John Daly

I heard Dr. Mohler say one time that his desire was for the local church to put him out of business. Maybe he's getting his wish?

Jacob Hall

A quick word about NOBTS and enrollment. As a Current NOBTS Extension Center Student (Atlanta Campus, although I lived for a year on the main campus) I believe some clarification is helpful. The Extension center students are considered full time by NOBTS for three less hours a semester than their Main Campus counterparts. If its 9 on the main campus for Graduate, its 6 in Atlanta. I believe this is in part due to the cycle of classes and rotation they are offered on. I am not sure if that factored into your numbers or if it should (If the school considers it full time, that is that).

I also want to state something to be very clear, I love NOBTS, I love the professors there, many of them are not simply professors but mentors as well. But my theology and methodology is much closer to that of Southern Seminary. I have no plans to leave NOBTS (Until my degree is finished of course!) nor would I really desire to.

But lets get to the heart of the post, Is the New Calvinism responsible for the decline in enrollment at SBTS and SEBTS. Possibly. It is very possible that students who would choose to go to an SBC Seminary rule out those as options because of its Soteriology.

One thing I would like to throw out that I think is being overlooked is the poor economic circumstances most of us find ourselves in. Moving to college/Graduate school is not a cheap endeavor. If you do not live within driving distance of a School and cant afford to move to one you want to go to, the options become limited. I would be interested to see how many students were enrolling in Liberty's Distance Learning Program instead of moving to a Seminary.

I think there are alot more factors than simply one school being Calvinistic and one being non-Calvinistic.


I was mostly with you until I read the sentence "Is the push for major church-plants a push to put these strict, 5 point Calvinists into ministry?"

I graduated from SBTS, I am not a 5 point Calvinist, and I can assure you beyond all doubt that this conspiracy theory is not true.

Now that I think of it, though, I did take one course at SBTS in which the professor said plainly that new churches should be planted because the way of thinking in older SBC churches was usually outdated. That professor also happened to be the most openly anti-Calvinistic that I ever had. His name was Richard Land.


I intentionally side-lined NOBTS because of stated reasons and hope any future discussion will be side-lined as well. Thanks.

Jacob writes, "I think there are alot more factors than simply one school being Calvinistic and one being non-Calvinistic." I agree. I do not think I suggested otherwise, but only raised questions concerning the potential presence of such a scenario surrounding two specific seminaries.

In addition, I would add that supposing economics to be a major factor in plunging seminary FTE enrollment, if correct, reflects an entirely new posture toward the necessity of seminary education. For example, a generation ago, the "call to preach" was inevitably accompanied by the likely responsibility given to the newly surrendered candidate for ministry as also "a call to prepare." Hence, though not necessarily "kicked out" of consideration by one's home church as being genuinely "called," nonetheless the expectation to attend seminary was a serious one--"a call to preach is a call to prepare."

Additionally, since no such program existed then so far as "distance learning" was concerned, along with seminary expectation was the accompanying expectation to pack one's belongings and move. That's what my family and I did. I quit my Nashville job, packed up a U-Haul, and me, my wife, and three small children headed to Louisville with $120 to our name.

Make no mistake: I was not doing anything uniquely sacrificial. Instead, I was only doing what dozens of men from my church had already done.

I simply rehearse this to suggest there's hardly such distressing economic conditions today which can be cited deter those interested in attending seminary.

With that, I am...



No "conspiracy theories" here, I assure. I asked a question.

With that, I am...

Jeremiah Davies


"are our seminaries--specifically SEBTS and SBTS--selling out to pop Calvinism sweeping the nation among the young twentysomethings? "

I can only Speak from my experience at SEBTS. In the Three years that I have attended I have had but one Five pointer. The rest of the profs usually held to three or maybe four (however they did not call themselves Calvinists) but each professor made it a point to make sure that we drew our own conclusion using scripture. A few of the profs were even Molanists (or how ever you spell that). I think that to say SEBTS is selling out to pop Calvinists ideals would be a mislabeling of the majority of those graduating from this institution. However, there are those that are graduating with their degrees that hold strongly to their Calvinist beliefs that they entered seminary with (those were fun classroom discussions). As i stated i can only speak to what my experience has been at SEBTS.

Those that I have graduated with are actually leaning more in the direction of a New Testament Church mentality, going back to scripture for our Theology. They want to take from scripture what God has to say and apply that to their ministry, church and life rather than the theology of a group of men (biblical men) living a thousand years after the fact(though i do believe we can learn from much of what they say). I fit into that category as well.

As to the enrollment numbers... economy? maybe??


Joseph Gould

As a student at Southern, I know of many students who were full-time a few years ago, but are part-time students now. It also seems new students are taking fewer hours upon arrival. In my experience, in most cases it seems to arise from a combination of economic downturn and the rise in the number of students taking courses who have children. There is simply less time to take courses and less money to pay for them.

That being said, I don't know how those factors have played into FTE #s at other seminaries.

Jonathon Woodyard

The rise in the number of students using on-line resources to pursue their education could be a factor. I, for one, am on staff at a church and take on-line classes. Due to my responsibilities at church I do not take a full-load at the moment. Could it be that since a push at SBTS for students to be involved in local church ministry has sent many into area churches where they are laboring for the kingdom and are not taking full class loads? Just questions.

I think there are many factors that could contribute to the downturn in enrollment. Using Calvinism as one of them just stirs up another proverbial hornets nest and seeks to cause more dissension in our SBC ranks. Not to mention it just doesn't work. There is hardly any denying that most of those who are entering seminary today are part of the "young, restless, and reformed" and would hardly have an issue with a reformed leaning institution.

I think the issue you raise in the post is a good one. Why is there a decline? That is not a bad question to ask...as we are asking it about the SBC in general. Some serious research on the topic would make for helpful reading. Unlike the jab at Calvinism.

Watching this blog from afar, as well as some Calvinistic ones, keeps me informed as to how heated the current culture of the SBC is over this specific issue. You can take that as a compliment or not.

Steve G

G'day Peter,
As an outsider (almost from another planet) may I offer some observations?
Attending the SBC in Louisville was an amazing experience for me. So many like minded people (other than the very small tribe who tried to do away with our friend Bart Barber) all believing the Bible to be the inerrant Word of God and believing that the Lord Jesus Christ is the only Saviour (yes I spelt it right) from a real hell, and all intent on sharing that gospel because they believe the gospel is the power of God to salvation (now where I come from we baptists don't have that unity).
I did notice something rather odd... and it wasn't just you Peter!
Among so many likeminded people, there were small groups running around in special uniforms declaring their "differences" over against the others!
There were the obvious uniforms of the SBTS grads (dark coat and tie: did they all follow Dr. Moore to the taylor or did they get a group discount?).

There were the uniforms of the Dever devotees ( I like Mark D. he has my dress sense: blue open neck cotton shirts, nice trousers, and good shoes).

There were the cool fundo's trying the contemp worship (ahh only a few hawaian shirts.. now usually a nice dress shirt, flash tie and a not matching sports coat)

Contemporary mega church pastors: usually a nice dress shirt, flash tie and a single breasted blazer (white if Ron Floyd).

Church growth guru .. (polo shirt (THEY STILL MAKE THEM WOW) and a pipe.. oh I only saw one or two of those sans pipe)... you could tell the Stezler devotees .. they looked lean and hungry for overweight men of which I am one.. and the Reid devotees.. looked quizical..everywhere.. at everything..

The howling fundos wore white shirts and no ties and braces... on their shorts.

The BIF guys wore blue open necked shirts, jeans and some (Tim Rogers) wore pink open necked shirts.. relaxed casual.. for guys who are supposed to be highly strung... amazing (oh and a louisville slugger .. just in case they ran into you know who.. .. I have the photo as wall paper on my computer Peter!)

While these distinctives of the different groups may each have some merit.. parading the group to which you belong doesn't (1 Cor 1:11 For it has been reported to me about you, my brothers, by members of Chloe’s household, that there are quarrels among you. 12 What I am saying is this: each of you says, “I’m with Paul,” or “I’m with Apollos,” or “I’m with • Cephas,” or “I’m with Christ.” 13 Is Christ divided? Was it Paul who was crucified for you? Or were you baptized in Paul’s name?).
While each of these groups have something valid and encouraging to say to the SBC and evangelicalism as a whole, what unites you is far bigger and far more important than what you are proud to group yourselves around.

I am glad to stand with my BIF brothers when important Baptist distinctives are under fire... BUT... you guys so united around basic doctrines should be able to get on with the great commission now without majoring on your differences.

There is something that the reformed do contribute.. a greater attention to detail and exegesis of scripture and theology... and a reverence for history.

There is something that the anti-reformed do contribute.. a greater passion for evangelism and baptist distinctives.

There is something that the fundos do contribute.. attention to scripture and revernece for it as the word of God..

There is something that the church growth gurus do contribute.. innovation in evangelistic ministry..

There is something that the Dever clan do contribute (are they wearing the SEBT uniform?)..a more loving and thoughtful respect for the Word of God and a compassionate heart for the nonreformed in their ministry desiring to produce unity.
Of course, the desire to belong and to be important is something we all have to deal with.. uniforms give us that belongingness... but we don't need it. The only uniform that is necessary is Jesus' uniform.. a towel and a basin.

The thing that thrilled me most was a small group of very young men at a stall called Josiah Road wanting to disciple young people and getting them reading God's Word.. they were just excited about Jesus! let's just get back to that first love, and the right uniform (mine! ;)).

Blessings bro...



Always a pleasure. I think I'll nominate you for president of the SBC. Would you accept?

Also I think you're right about the squabbling while the GC is being shelved. No doubt. The energies we expend on 'issues' are energies lost on THE issue--a world without Christ.

One way or another, I think, major decisions are going to be made for Southern Baptists relatively soon. Yet, Grosey, I am hopelessly addicted to seeing the current discussion through to the end. For me, at least, it is that important. Indeed I think it may determine whether or not there is an SBC to pursue the GC.

Grace, my brother.
With that, I am...

P.S. When you skyped me the other day, I am on skype with my granddaughter. And, when I tried to get you back, you were apparently offline. We're going to do it yet!



Thank you. And, no: this one time I'll leave your comment up. Yet know I have no interest in a dialog with you here on either Caner or White. Perhaps in another vein, when I post on an Islamic theme, I'd welcome your input. But not on the two personalities I mentioned above.

With that, I am...



A brother sent me two links to posts Trevin Wax wrote concerning Calvinism at Southern.  You can access them here and here.   Both are well-written and stand as a good apology for one’s alma mater.  While Wax makes some good points to be sure, the overall take is personal perspective from a student’s point of view.

Not that a student’s point of view is invalid; to the contrary, I offered two perspectives in my post from student perspectives.  But that’s my point: Wax’s bucket as a student holds no more milk than the two students’ buckets I offered. 

Furthermore, while it is true all profs at SBTS are not “5P Calvinists”—at least I assume that’s so—the decidedly “reformed” reputation SBTS has garnered over the last decade did not just happen.  It was strategically planned and aggressively implemented. 

One walks away from Wax’s posts thinking that SBTS is just another Southern Baptist seminary, hardly something to be overly concerned about, especially pertaining to an alleged agenda to ‘Calvinize’ the seminary and/or Southern Baptists.  From my standpoint, reality hardly matches the description.

With that, I am…




Another thing on the reasons why the FTE is down at both SBTS & SEBTS. First, to dismiss outright that Calvinism may be one reason the FTE is down--or as one put it, Calvinism is injected into the issue as a 'jab' against Calvinism--is hardly reasonable. If a strong 'reformed' culture attracts potential students--and I think we all agree it has at Southern--why may it not repulse others?

Second, to dismiss the decidedly strong 'reformed' culture at Southern as a 'jab' against Calvinism and not potentially relevant to FTE is to dismiss outright the young pastor's stated reasoning precisely why he "didn't fit" at Southern and therefore left.

Third, ultimately, whether it's economic, theology, the rise and acceptability of distance education, or any number of other things, CP monies are given to seminaries based upon FTE count. For SBTS, if my numbers are anywhere near correct, their loss in FTE is equal to at least $1.1m of CP funding! That's serious cash in this economy. That's serious cash in any economy.

With that, I am...

Scott Slayton

Peter, just trying to think through your second point in your last comment. Does one person's experience at a school establish a trend? If one person has an experience, does that necessarily mean that other people have had the same experience? It seems like we would need to talk to multiple people who have left the school and others who chose another school over that one?



Thanks. The answer, of course, is no: one person's experience at a school does not establish a trend. My point above was springboarded from the comment right above it concerning Wax's denial of an overtly Calvinist aggressivism at Southern based on his experience as a student: "Wax’s bucket as a student holds no more milk than the two students’ buckets I offered."

At any rate, my understanding of the shift at SBTS is no way dependent solely upon either one student's assessment nor even several students' assessment. I knew the assessment of neither student I cited in the OP before just a few weeks ago.

Additionally, I base my view, in part, upon what Calvinists view a young Christian journalist's findings in his chronicles of the "Young, Restless, Reformed," a book by Christianity Today's Colin Hansen, a book thoroughly endorsed by Founders Ministries. It is there Southern Baptist Theological Seminary is anointed, "Ground Zero" for the New Calvinism sweeping evangelicalism.

With that, I am...


Even more frightening than a trend, is the thought that schools indoctrinate more than educate. Are we to assume that students go there with blank brains and are programmed by the profs? Or do Reformed leaning students choose to attend schools that are known as Reformed leaning?

Before I knew what Reformed was; I was labeled that by a person who was listening to me preach through the book of Acts. After the service he said I sounded Reformed. I said, I was just preaching the Word. Ever since, Reformed or not, it is secondary. Christ and Him crucified and preaching the Word is first for me.

I find the constant reminding by and individual or church on whether they're Reformation or not bordering on Idolatry; and the same for the focus on Baptistic distinctives.

Jim Champion


Long time no talk - working a real job these days, little time for blog fun.

What would happen to the FTE enrollments at the seminaries if you took the seminary college's out of the mix - and go back to about 2000.

My theory is that the results would be astounding and cause for great alarm to see how many fewer students are being trained at the masters and PhD levels.

On a side note, I am praying that the trustees at SWBTS will not allow Paige Patterson to destroy the counseling program at SWBTS that leads to a license to practice for two reasons. The first and foremost is that putting trained and licensed counselors (who can be paid for by insurance plans), is an opportunity for ministry in an area that apart from trained Christian counselors I would consider atheistic. Second, I know that my pastor and I assume that he in more in the majority than the minority, does not consider himself qualified to counsel past a certain point. Thirdly, the counseling program at SWBTS contains more than 200 students and five professors. The Biblical counseling (non licensed) by contrast contains about 20 students and two proffs.

D.R. Randle


I would challenge you to go back and look up the enrollment numbers beginning around 2000 and incorporating the differences in on-campus enrollments v. satellite campuses. At one point Southern was bordering on having the largest on-campus enrollment, though they have far fewer satellite campuses than do SWBTS and NOBTS (which has a huge GA campus).

There are lots of reasons why FTE could drop and your supposition regarding Calvinism probably isn't in the top 10. You need to look at economic conditions surrounding the various cities where the Seminaries are, the closure or opening of satellite campuses, the beginning or ending of certain programs within the schools, and a number of other variables. From a strictly statistical standpoint, this would represent a poor argument for cause-effect relationship.



Thanks. Of course, I did not intend to project either a definitive cause-effect relation nor single out a shift toward Reformed theology as the sole reason. I did raise the question and offered two anecdotal illustrations.

Nonetheless, I would caution raising economics as a major reason (it seems to be the most popular named here) for the reasons I stated above. Moreover, Louisville losing students at the same time MWBTS gaining students appears to temper the 'economic' factor quite a bit.

Thanks again.

With that, I am...

Matt Svoboda


I spoke with Trevin once about this very issue and what we both found to be true actually surprised us. From our experience at SBTS it is safe to say that the majority of Calvinist students at SBTS were Calvinist before they got their. Which is why Trevin and I didn't think it was accurate to call SBTS "ground zero."

The faculty at SBTS does not have this big "classroom push" to make everyone Calvinists. Every theology professor I had appropriately taught in liberal arts form, rather than only teaching their particular "calvinistic view."

My point being: while the "calvinistic stance" of SBTS could be a reason for the numbers, but I really doubt it. What is funny is that your post implies SEBTS is calvinistic in the same way SBTS. This is not close to true. Akin is outspokenly not a 5 point Calvinist. What this tells me is that those are the 2 schools with the biggest decline in numbers and yet their theology is different, therefore, the theology of the schools is not the issue.

Matt Svoboda


I do agree with you that economics really shouldn't be named as the cause. That would only seem legitimate if all the schools were suffering.

One factor though could be the size of the schools. Some people are overwhelmed when walking into the larger seminaries so they go to a smaller one. SWBTS would be the exception because as we all know, Texans are going to stay in Texas 90% of the time, no matter how big or small the school is.



I asked, "is the apparent move by SEBTS to edge farther and farther toward a Calvinism by default academic culture a move which may, in part, explain its similar dipping FTE*** numbers when compared to SBTS?" Why you think I implied "SEBTS is calvinistic in the same way SBTS" hardly makes sense--at least to me, Matt. And, you are ignoring Billy Birch's testimony as a SE student which lends itself to "edging farther and farther toward" Calvinism.

With that, I am...

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