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Leslie Puryear

It's interesting that theological disagreement between non-calvinists and Calvinist was raging even before the formation of the SBC. Apparently, SBC Calvinism became the minor view during the first 80 years of the 20th century and arose again in the early 21st century. This issue will probably never be resolved until the Lord Jesus returns.


I love to read how some wrestled with what was the common ingrained thinking of the time. I have always wondered about the evolution of thinking that had to take place in those quarters that could not accept the cognitive dissonance of our Constitution (immersed in the free will thinking of self government) and their determinist God.

Scott Shaver

Based on this primary source material with additional provided by Mr. Lumpkins, I fear, from an historical perspective, that Rick Patrick is in for the worst spiritual/denominational/professional rending of his life.

"Unity Platform" with a beast that knows nothing but "kill and eat".

Scott Shaver

Lets see, we've got Rick Patrick et al looking for a "unity platform" with folks who want to kill em.

Why am I not buying into the "Christian logic" of this proposition?

peter lumpkins


I have to say, from my reading of the source material, it was well before 80 years into the 20th century that Calvinism waned in influence. Indeed James Boyce was barely buried in the ground when his system of strict Calvinistic theology was delivered a broadside by F.H. Kerfoot in his revision of Boyce's Abstract of Theology. Ironically, Kerfoot was hand-picked by Boyce to be his successor at Southern seminary, and it was Kerfoot who thoroughly debunked Boyce's view on Limited Atonement as well as the regeneration-precedes-faith doctrine Boyce undoubtedly picked up from the Hodges at Princeton.

Scott Shaver

Pete: were u responding to "Les" or "let's see" from previous comment. Either way I'm encouraged by your presentation of these sources as guides to historical accuracy. Muchas gracias.

Scott Shaver

Would it be historically fair Pete, to say that Calvinism of the James Boyce stripe did not rear it's head again as a predominant denominational force or constituency in the SBC until the succession of Roy Honeycutt at Southern by Al Mohler?

Ironically, as you've pointed out with Boyce and Kerfoot and even though Mohler would certainly have not been handpicked by Honeycutt, Mohler like Kerfoot, set out to undo the work of of his predecessor in raising the flag of Boyce.

peter lumpkins

Thanks for the encouragement Scott. I think it is fair to say Boyce's theology was tucked neatly away on the shelf until Mohler revived it in the early 90s. Interestingly, Mohler's move back toward Calvinism was subtle but not unannounced. He flat said what he was going to do early on--move the seminary back to its "Confessional roots." But the CR leaders did not compute "Confessional roots" like Mohler meant it. They had on their mind "inerrancy" and Southerns commitment to biblical inspiration via Princeton's theory of inspiration. Mohler however while not disappointing on inerrancy would include in getting back to "Confessional roots" getting back to 19th century strict Calvinism. I don't think it's too much to say, not a single CR leader saw that one coming...

Scott Shaver

And now the cowardly lion, Page Patterson is going to team with Calvinists for a "unity" platform (try and save what's left of his "legacy") while Fundamentalist "Trads" like Rick Patrick are the new opposition with a "transparency" platform.

It's like a cyclical gag reel that keeps repeating itself over and over to the tune of diminishing influence and squandered resources.

You are right, the CR leaders never saw this coming and their previous allies, the Fundamentalist "trads" will be wondering what hit them.

Both camps deserve each other. Better yet, each other is ALL they have now.

dr. james willingham

None of this is as simple and easy as might be presumed. After all, both sides had suffered imprisonment, whippings, and other indignities at the hands of the judicial system acting in behalf of the state church (Anglican then). And the Separate Baptists had one writer who took the position of limited atonement. I refer to Isaac Backus whose writings can be found in libraries today. Actually, there is truth on both sides of the coin which some on either side refuse to recognize or acknowledge, namely, that the two poles of any particular truth is designed to fit the right and left hemispheres of the brain in order to provide a tension to make the believer balanced, flexible, creative, constant, and magnetic or, in other words, mature and able to cope with issues as they arise in life.

peter lumpkins

"None of this is as simple and easy as might be presumed."

If only the Southern Baptist Convention community of Calvinists as a whole would speak, teach, and behave according to this historical maxim, my friend. History IS messy and usually beats the tar out of those who try to contain it to one, solitary trajectory. Hence, those who attempt to make Southern Baptist history Calvinistically neat and uniform end up as committing the unpardonable sin for historians of any field of inquiry--historical reductionism.

Since 2006, SBC Tomorrow has been committed to posting sources to balance out the record too many of today's Calvinists systematically ignore. Our Baptist heritage is a soil far richer than only the TULIP can grow...

Scott Shaver

James Willingham: There is the kind of person who doesn't reject any spiritual "truth" associated with Calvinism but does reject deterministic understandings of God's nature along with the deliverance of church authority into the hands of power-obsessed men rather the power of the Holy Spirit.

A rejection of the tenets of Calvinism is not the same as a rejection of God, contrary to some popular opinion.

Calvinists pointing an accusing finger at Anglicans for spiritual abuse is like the proverbial pot calling the kettle black.

Scott Shaver

If, at the hands of Calvinism, Baptists lose touch with concepts like "soul freedom", church autonomy and the historic baptist emphases on the primacy of the Holy Spirit and believers baptism by immersion...why in the world should anybody do them the dignity of continuing to refer to them as "Baptist"?

People who ride motorcycles are wise to remember that alcohol and gasoline don't mix.

Same holds true in history when it comes to Anabaptists and their intermingling with the heirs of Calvinistic Reform".

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