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Jim Upchurch


90-95%? Is that a verifiable statistic? Just wondering where that came from.

The language of "not any human creed or system" reminds me of the old liberal mantra, "No creed but the Bible."

Don't you think it's true that all Christians have some sort of system to hold things together in their minds? And if you get rid of all formal creeds and human systems don't you still have unwritten and unspecified creeds and human systems?



No, the 90-95% is a deduction--a reasonable one I think--from what we presently know of the SBC.

As for your memory of the "old liberal mantra, "No creed but the Bible," I haven't a clue to what you refer. If you're referencing classic Liberalism, it would be closer to suggest "any creed but the Bible"; if you're referencing neo-Liberalism or moderatism within the SBC, perhaps it would be "No creed but Christ." I dunno...

With that, I am...

Jim Upchurch


I'm not sure about the percentages. I just don't know.

Yeah, thanks for correcting me on the "liberal" tag. I should have said "moderate mantra." And yes, I have heard both statements from moderates, using "Christ" in some instances and "Bible" in others.



What is interesting, calvinists state: scriptura alone!! Yet, they immediately go to either the Westminister Confession or the London (or whatever) Baptist creed, etc.

Many calvinists I have run into take what Al Moehler said one step further: the gospel can ONLY be found in the TULIP. Just a side note. LOL

Insofar as Southern Baptists are concerned, many in my church have their head buried in the sand and don't see that it is all that big of a deal or threat. And, they CERTAINLY don't want to learn anything about it, etc.

Peter, it is so VERY frustrating. The vast majority of those I've come in contact with at my church are still on the milk and strongly resist (even resent) getting into the meat of the Word. I can't help but think of that verse where God says: my people perish for lack of knowledge.

If a calvinist were to take over our church, I don't think that the majority of people there would know or understand. I hope I am wrong, but that is my impression.


One more thing -- a couple years ago, the SBC calvinists had on their website training instructions on how to get into a church (as the pastor) and basically hide the fact that they are calvinists (or Sovereign Gracers). I read it for myself.

But, as I understand it, they have taken that offline for the public to see. I don't know if you were aware of that or not. Talking about deception!!


Mlynn, you are spot when you talk about so many in the SBC being on "milk". I have to wonder if there won't be a significant number of these young Calvinist who might come back from the dark side because they didn't know anything when they were pulled into Calvinism. For an example of this go to Jared Moore's sight for a video on what "Arminians" believe. Maybe that's what Arminians believe but it isn't close to what SBC nonCalvinist believe and yet this is the strawmen that the YRR are always attempting to dismantle. Talk about your caricutures!

Amy Downey


Two primary questions (with a couple of sub-questions):

1. You make a statistical statement that is unprovable and a guess at best as if it codified fact? Does that not indicate that you might not actually be able to handle the truth that the numbers might be different than you suggest?

2. Are you negating even the possibility that the doctrines of the Bible (sola Scriptura) teach the propositions that Calvin and others found there? If so, are you the only arbiter of doctrinal understanding? Is your understanding of Scripture greater than Calvin, Mohler, and myself?

With that I am a 3.5 Calvinist,


peter lumpkins


Thanks. And while I concede the numbers may be high, I do not think the percentages are an unreasonable deduction. But that's just me. Ultimately, the fact remains that the substantial majority presently existing among Southern Baptists is non-Calvinist. Surely no one would dispute this...

With that, I am...

peter lumpkins


Thanks. I think one finds Reisinger-Founders advocating precisely what you're indicating, the "lost gospel" they bemoan is 5Point Calvinism. It's hard to conclude otherwise from my reading of them.

With that, I am...

peter lumpkins



Thanks for the questions. First, while I made a “statistical statement” it is no more “unprovable” than any other statistical statement,even statistical statements based on more controlled methodologies. And, while my 90-95% may be too high—as I have twice conceded above--it is neither a “guess at best” nor is the 90-95% margin inferior to your supposition that I “might not actually be able to handle the truth that the numbers might be different than [I] suggest.” Perhaps a more accurate estimation of my 90-95% margin is that the percentages are “dated at best.”  I must concede again, that very well may be the case—my numbers are dated.

For example, Ed Stetzer writes, “All in all, however, Calvinism is not widespread throughout the Southern Baptist Convention (p.14, emphasis mine here and below unless otherwise noted).* Yet again, “Clearly Calvinism appears to be on the rise among recent seminary graduates compared to SBC pastors as a whole…” (p.15). Indeed seminary graduates who were “Calvinistic” rose from 21% in 1998 to a whopping 34% in 2004 (p.18), with Stetzer concluding, “studies also reveal a transition is taking place among Southern Baptist seminaries [all six seminaries??] with a new order for which institutions are more likely to produce Calvinist leaders” (p.20). Finally, Stetzer summarizes: Churches with Calvinist leaders are still a small minority in the Southern Baptist Convention” (p.24).

So, Amy, while my 90-95% may be dated I confess, I didn’t just pull a number out of a spinning bingo ball. If Stetzer is correct, and Calvinism is not widespread in the SBC with Calvinist leaders still being a small minority,  the only question remains is, what does “not widespread” and “small minority” translate to in marginal percentages?  Hence, while my percentages may be inaccurate, the fact remains that the SBC is still fundamentally and overwhelmingly non-Calvinistic.

Even so, it is changing which is the very reason I’m singing my song. Those who charge me with “conspiracy-theory” need to read and re-read very slowly Stetzer’s words: “studies also reveal a transition is taking place among Southern Baptist seminaries with a new order for which institutions are more likely to produce Calvinist leaders” (p.20). Is Stetzer also a conspiracy-driven nut? I may be a nut, I confess. But I am not prone to “conspiracy theories.”

On your second question I shall not expound as much. No, I am not saying Calvinism or something like Calvinism is an impossible conclusion to draw from biblical revelation. What I am saying is, Calvinism or something like Calvinism cannot be the bucket in which to haul revelation, which is precisely what Al Mohler implied—if I understood him correctly and/or he was quoted correctly—when he indicated the Reformed “structures of thought” (i.e. Calvinism) is “necessary to protect the very gospel…” What we have here is biblical revelatory authority stood on its head. Rather than the gospel being necessary to Calvinism we have Calvinism necessary to the gospel! Unfortunately, this is just another way of saying what Founders has said for years—Southern Baptists have “lost the gospel” (i.e. for them the “lost” gospel is none other than the TULIP, the ‘doctrines of grace, the Dortian 5 points—at least that’s how I read them).

By the way, no; my understanding of Scripture is by no means fundamentally superior than yours or anybody else. Nonetheless, such a concession does not imply the gospel necessitates a protective theological template to guide me through the interpretative process. It was Paul who said, "the gospel is the power of God unto salvation"; hence it needs no interpretative system (i.e. Calvinism or another system) to "protect" it.

Thanks for the questions and I hope this helps.

With that, I am…


*all quotes from Stetzer taken from Calvinism: A Southern Baptist Dialogue (B&H, 2008)

peter lumpkins


You write, "Peter, it is so VERY frustrating. The vast majority of those I've come in contact with at my church are still on the milk and strongly resist...meat..." I hear you and my heart hurts as well.

I think the best we can do is pray, love, encourage, and continually assess our teaching methods. I know how tempting it is to 'fire off a sermon' out of daily frustrations. But if we love the sheep like the Shepherd in spite of their ignorance, patience will bleed through.

I also think it takes time for pastors to learn patience with his people. I recall in my first church being so dogged jealous and energy-driven, I hurt a lot of people because I was not patient with them. I expected them to be as 'fired-up" as I was.

I once wrote a church-wide letter--this would have been around 1983--with the entire church roll listed name-by-name inside the letter. That's not all. Underlined were the members which had not attended regularly. And, depending on how long it had been since they attended determined how many lines each got. For example, if it was a month, they got one line, three months--two lines, etc.

It didn't go so well, especially when I was informed many of the people I'd underlined were dead. The guys who talk about "regenerate-church-membership!" and "where are the people on our rolls?" are hardly expressing a concern I did not years ago.

I have learned to be patient with people who do not see what I see--at least patient with those who aren't bent on overthrowing what I see. And in this instance I learned that from people who may not have saw what I saw--apathetic members--but they knew what I did not know.

Sorry. I didn't mean to go on and on. Pastoral patience will help your people.

With that, I am...

P.S. BTW, I was *NOT fired* from my church for the intemperate display of over-jealousness. I went on for 4 more years of some of the most blessed ministry I've ever had--that is, after public apology, confession, and humiliation...


Peter...whew, do I remember that one! God worked some great stuff in your ministry there. I wonder how many ministers have apologized to their members for some over-zealous act on their part. For that matter, I wonder how many Christians have apologized for some over-zealous accusatory comment they've made to another Christian.

For just calling you "friend", I've been accused of a multitude of things from fundamentalist, to anti-calvinist. Just because one is not a Calvinist, doesn't make them anti...it just makes them non. I happen to dearly love my Calvinist friends. Hear me Grosey, Colin, Trish, Chris, Scott, et al?

You are so right that we need to be more patient with those who are not ready to digest the meat of the Lamb. We must also recognize that some folks will take longer than other folks to grow in faith. If we beat them up while they are babies, why would they want to hear us when they are adolescents? Indeed, we should not be surprised to later have a full-fledged rebellion on our hands when we open our mouths to say anything.

Love beareth all things.

I lean on Jesus, not my own understanding or another man's. Man's understanding is flawed from the get-go. That's just how I see things. selahV

Robin Foster


Didn't Stetzer come out with some statistical information back in 2007 that concluded that 5% of the churches (or pastors) in the SBC were Calvinistic? I thought your 90-95% was being awful generous if that statistic holds.



Peter, it seems like there might be some type Saul Alinsky propaganda campaigns gearing up. This whole "Calvinist have not caused problems in the SBC - it's PDL which causes all the problems.". And now there seems to be some resistance against what previously has been accepted as fact by people like Stetzer that Calvinist are a minority in the SBC. Now we're seeing people actually try to push the idea that Calvinist have somehow become a majority and we nonCalvinist need to sit down and shut up. Very Alinsky like.

peter lumpkins


I do recall such but failed to locate the source. Mt source for deducing my percentages came from Stetzer's chapter in the book I linked.


I think you nailed it good. Of course, it's non-Calvinists like us who are the problem--or, anti-Calvinists I should say. They are want unity; the anti-Calvinists just want to stir the pot...

With that, I am...

Tim Rogers

Brother Robin,

Stetzer's research concluded that 10% of pastors considered themselves as Calvinist.

See http://www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?id=23993


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