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Interesting that he lists the Free-Will Baptists in his list. I grew up in a FWB church, they were, and are, extremely conservative and in many cases legalistic.

Robert Vaughn

I guess the list reveals a lot about how Olson feels. Otherwise it is gobbledygook.


While I don't agree with Dr. Olson's reasoning for who he includes or excludes or why he should be the keeper of an "approved" list, I do agree with his observation about the SBC: "Among its churches one can find almost anything ..."

There is no doubt that the SBC denomination is struggling for its identity these days - the blogosphere is full of evidence to support that. In the current atmosphere of go along to get along-agree to disagree-something for everybody under a big tent, it's tough for outside observers to put a fix on who we really are and how to list us. Southern Baptists have as many flavors on the menu as the local custard place. Within a 25 mile radius in my area, I can take you to SBC churches with conflicting theological persuasion and practice, of various forms and methods, which claim they are all united under a common Baptist Faith and Message (but not really).

peter lumpkins


I agree with most of what you say. But I think in a significance sense, much of the diversity remains intrinsic to our Free Church ecclesiology still practiced broadly among the 43k churches. Whatever the case there, as I indicated above by citing at length the CBF, my larger objection to Olson is his implication that CBF churches are less "difficult to generalize" than SBC churches, and for that reason alone, eliminating the SBC from his list of "approved denominations.". For me, that is simply partisan.

Thanks brother. Always appreciate your participation.

With that, I am...


Peter, I track what you are saying about CBF vs. SBC in Dr. Olson's analysis and agree that the criteria applied here is somewhat off-base. I am agreeing to agree with you! However, I believe that Dr. Olson's decision to not include the SBC in his final cut has another underlying parameter. If someone asked him (or me) about an unknown SBC church, he (and I) couldn't say "here's what you can expect if you go there" (I understand that you could also say that about CBF). While the SBC may still be characterized by a majority free church belief and practice, that is changing in certain corners of the SBC landscape ... thus, Dr. Olson's "Among its churches one can find almost anything ..." describes the denomination.

Rick Patrick

First, Obama is re-elected! Next, Roger Olson DISAPPROVES of my denomination! How can I possibly make it through the day?

(This sarcasm brought to you by the Committee Disapproving Roger Olson's Disapproval)


I just don't think Roger Olson can get over the fact that when nonCalvinists in the SBC proclaimed "we're really not Arminians either" he refused to believe us.

Now the question of the day Peter et al. Do all are friends who love to lift a cold Bud Light think it's great that Colorado has now legalized pot? There's no prohibition in the Bible against marreeejewana is there? Are proalcohol pastors in Colorado now going to preach about exercising their "freedom?"

JD Hall

First Mary, there are Calvinists, Arminians, and the Confused. The only untenable position is of those who insist on eternal security but deny God's sovereignty in election.

Secondly, I don't think it's likely that pastors preach about exercising one's "right" to smoke Marijuana because Jesus didn't smoke weed. Jesus did, however, drink alcoholic wine as did the early church and is a gift for Christians to enjoy. It's the silly comparisons that get you teetotaler's so consistently poked fun of.


Rick, You crack me up.

Me thinks Roger simply caught the ivory tower virus. There is a Genevan strain at SBTS.

peter lumpkins


I just mentioned to someone on the phone this A.M. concerning the 'pot' law. I made a rather huge part of the argument in my book on abstinence the very notion you raise:

once one makes a moral case for the pleasurable use of one mind-altering drug (i.e. alcohol), a moral case can hardly be made against the pleasurable use of another mind-altering drug (i.e. "pot")

The routine reply I received wherever I stated a form of this proposition contained some form of the but-pot-is-illegal-and-therefore-wrong-because-we-must-obey-our-govt-according-to-Rom 13 kind of response.

The action by three states demonstrates 2 principles nicely: a) we cannot begin with Rom 13 in building our particularly Christian ethical principles; b) the moral rug to moderately indulge alcohol for pleasurable purposes just got pulled out from under all those who naively argued based upon the illegality of 'pot'. What will they say to their teens now?

it's not the use of pot which the Bible condemns; rather it's the abuse of pot that the Bible condemns

Nor does JD even get the profound point you made. Jesus may not have "smoked weed" but neither would He have been wrong in doing so given the moderationists' own principles.

Even worse, as you imply, since "smoking weed" was hardly an option for either Jesus, the Apostles, etc, and since their is no explicit moral injunctions against 'smoking pot', the moderationist once again is hanged by his own rope. People are morally free to indulge themselves on mind-altering drugs of every sort for pleasurable purposes as long as a) they're legal; and, b) used in moderation.

What a Georgia hoot.

With that, I am...


JD writes " ... alcoholic wine ... is a gift for Christians to enjoy. It's the silly comparisons that get you teetotaler's so consistently poked fun of."

Dr. Olson writes ""Among its churches one can find almost anything ..."



My church is affiliated with the Baptist General Convention of Texas AND the Southern Baptist Convention.

Robert Vaughn

I've read over Olson's piece twice now, trying to figure out what he's saying, as well as checking the comments for any possible clarification. My, there is such a huge theological spectrum from one end to the other of the groups he mentions, it would seem that the differences between individual Southern Baptist churches would pail in comparison. The only thing I could think of is that his list might rule out the likelihood of anyone running across any rigid 5-point Calvinist churches (although I'm not sure that would be exactly true of CBA America, Baptist General Conference, and the National Baptist Conventions). If that is what he meant he should have just said so. "Difficult to generalize" will apply to most all of the groups listed that have any size and geographical diversity.

I also have little doubt that several of the "pentecostal" denominations would be legalistic and fundamentalist -- or at least definitely seem so to middle-of-the-road type folks.


As a scholar, Dr. Olson, in my opinion, has done a very unscholarly thing here.

There is much to criticize here. First, I cannot even imagine making a list like this. Is there not some hubris here?

Second, I suspect that Dr. Olson does not know a lot about many of the denominations he recommends or does not recommend. The commenter above mentioned Free Will Baptists, for example. I something about that denomination and its churches. I am surprised to find it on his list which makes me wonder how much "work" really went into this.

Third, Dr. Olson was not careful. For example, he requires the denominations to be Trinitarian. Really? Inasmuch as the CBF has no doctrinal confession, in what sense can the denomination be defined as Trinitarian. Having no doctrinal confession is a bragging point with most CBFers because of the Priesthood of the Believer. Therefore, each Baptist and church can decide whether it is Trinitarian. The CBF will not rule that out of bounds. Therefore, how can CBF be defined doctrinally?

Fourth, Dr. Olson was arbitrary and capricious in his listing, as you have deftly pointed out.

I can only hope this list doesn't really get dragged out for actual use all that often.



Who cares. Really. It's God who approves the church. Not some Arminian. I'm so thankful to be apart of an Acts 29 church after being very hurt and abused by an SBC church


Quoting from Olson's post: "The common Southern Baptist ethos is compatible with Arminianism, but there is a surge of Calvinism among its churches and in some of its seminaries. It is very difficult to generalize about “Southern Baptists,” so I don’t include the denomination in my list of “approved denominations.” My advice to inquirers about Southern Baptist churches is to check each one out individually and watch out for fundamentalism (e.g., elevation of secondary doctrines to dogmas) and Calvinism."

His concern, as mine, is the upswing of the YRR (Young, restless, Reformed) in the SBC...


A. Price

Gee, I'm sorta' GLAD he didn't include the SBC!! As an SBC'er, I would almost be ashamed to be on it!

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