Baptist Press executive editor, Will Hall, published a worthy summary of The Barna Group's study on Calvinism's impact within American Protestantism. Hall's very title--Barna study shows apparent divide between SBC, other denominations on Calvinism--reflects what Ed Stetzer, author of the study of Calvinism within the SBC, apparently did not perceive--the gargantuan gulf between what's Calvinistically happening* in Protestantism overall (including the Southern Baptist Convention) and what Stetzer's research allegedly revealed is Calvinistically happening in the SBC exclusively.
Indeed as Stetzer rehearsed The Barna Group's study findings, he seems strangely anxious to dismiss Barna flat-out. Contra Barna's conclusions, he writes:
"I think there IS a resurgence of Calvinism (particularly within evangelicalism), but since it is younger, and a subset of a very large pool of pastors (for polling purposes), it is not evident via the research" (emphasis original, embolden mine)
Furthermore, the comment thread strongly suggests The Barna Group is quite incapable of knowing its business. Said they:
"...as is usually the case with Barna, distinctions & definitions are poorly made and so they arrive at unhelpful conclusions"
"This statements [sic] makes me wonder at the research...He obviously included non-confessional reformed, which doesn't seem to be good research"
Indicative of the above sampling is the tacit assumption that Ed Stetzer's own research into Calvinism in the SBC was much more credible than Barna's is in American Protestantism. However, as Baptist Press pointed out,
"In 2007, the North American Mission Board's Center for Missional Research released findings that nearly 30 percent of recent seminary graduates (1998-2004) serving as church pastors identified themselves as Calvinists. Details about the sample methodology and size were not released and this study [i.e., Stetzer's study] is not available for public review" (embolden added)
What is incredibly difficult to fathom is the gap I mentioned above, the gap between what's Calvinistically happening* in American Protestantism, which includes both evangelicals generally and the SBC particularly (per The Barna Group Study) and what's Calvinistically happening exclusively in the SBC (per Stetzer's study). It seems to me, if we take both sets of numbers at face value (while Stetzer wants to dismiss Barna, he apparently asks us to just trust his methodology was not flawed since the details are not open for public scrutiny), a viable explanation must exist.
At one point, Dr. Stetzer chooses to rely on anecdotal evidence to persuade:
"But, again, I think there is a Reformed resurgence. I just taught at Re:Train in Seattle and preached at Mars Hill Church, so I can see parts of it. Actually, I can see it in some other studies of evangelicals"
While ones own personal experience cannot ever be ruled out completely, I find just shy of humorous that a trained statistician cites his own preaching experience to be indicative toward overturning a full ten-year study by evangelicalism's most notable research organization. In addition, Stetzer cites "other studies of evangelicals" which, according to him, presumably shows empirical evidence supporting his point. We challenge Dr. Stetzer to produce the studies. Give us the goods. We'd like to examine those studies with our own eyes.
With that, I am...
*perhaps what's NOT Calvinistically happening in American Protestantism is more accurate