The book was Young, Restless, Reformed: A Journalist's Journey with the New Calvinists by Colin Hansen. In it, the self-identifying "YRR" journalist dubbed Southern Seminary "Ground Zero" for training and equipping the new army of young neo-Calvinist pastors and church planters to spread the doctrines of grace across the Southern Baptist Convention >>>
In a brief commentary on the chapter entitled, "Ground Zero: The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Kentucky" (pp.69-94), I wrote a few years back:
Finally, we move on to chapter four which stands as perhaps the most notable example of Hansen losing his objectivity as journalist and instead proposing an apology for the rising, restless young Calvinists with whom he gladly dwells. “Ground Zero,” as Hansen has called it, is a chapter given exclusively to Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (SBTS) in Louisville, Kentucky. SBTS is Southern Baptists’ oldest theological school and often referred to as their “flagship seminary”. Hansen rightly observes that when the Conservative Resurgence was fully armed with enough trustees to take the school over, they wasted no time in replacing the old regime with a new one. The pick of the trustees was a young, energetic theologian from Georgia who served as editor of The Christian Index, Georgia Baptists’ denominational state paper—R. Albert Mohler, Jr. (p.69).
The trustees knew Mohler’s unflinching commitment to the keystone doctrine of the Conservative Resurgence, Biblical Inerrancy. And, according to Hansen, the trustees were impressed with Mohler’s “vitality and plan to restore the seminary’s confessional identity” (p.72). Hansen raises the question whether the trustees knew what Mohler meant by “confessional identity.” That is, were they aware Mohler would not only insist upon their keystone doctrine of an inerrant Bible, but would further insist the seminary’s doctrinal position would embrace a rigid Reformed understanding of soteriology which included a robust five point Calvinism? Apparently not, for Hansen writes: “Some of Mohler’s inerrancy allies might have not fully foreseen one small twist. Mohler’s fidelity to the Abstract of Principles has steered the seminary back toward Calvinism” (p.73).
The move toward embracing an exclusively covenantal theological framework at Southern seminary may now be starting to backfire. Young Southern Baptist scholars are questioning Southern's undeniable commitment to strict Calvinism. One such academic is Dr. Adam Harwood, Assistant Professor of Christian Studies at Georgia Baptists' Truett-McConnell College. Only recently did Harwood drop a theological bombshell on the Southern Baptist Convention by raising the question about whether Southern Baptists' oldest seminary was embracing two confessions with at least one potential conflict. The occasion was Harwood's exchange with Southern seminary professor, Tom Schreiner, during a Q/A time after Dr. Schreiner delivered his paper.
Dr. Harwood has once again raised the question and considerably upped the ante. In a piece entitled "SBTS and the BFM," he seems more convinced than ever that Southern seminary may very well be teaching in conflict with Southern Baptist's sole confession--The Baptist Faith and Message 2000. Basing his conclusion on Southern's own interpretation of the BF&M found on the seminary's webpage, Harwood concludes:
It seems necessary that SBTS clarify its position on Article 3 of the BFM. Why? If a denial of inherited guilt is unorthodox, then SBTS needs to be clear. If that is the case, then its interpretation of the BFM should remain and the BFM should be amended to reflect that view. If a denial of inherited guilt is orthodox, then clarity from SBTS is equally important.
Perhaps the faculty of Southern Seminary will consider revising its published interpretation of the BFM. If they regard a denial of inheriting Adam’s guilt to be fully orthodox, then amending their published interpretation would resolve this dilemma. Their view would no longer exclude certain Southern Baptists. If the faculty wereunwilling to amend their published interpretation of the BFM in order to more accurately reflect Article 3, then perhaps they will suggest an amenable resolution to this dilemma.
Adam Harwood writes one of the most significant pieces to date pertaining to the Calvinist Resurgence within the Southern Baptist Convention. Please don't miss it.