NASHVILLE (BP) — A 19-member advisory committee on Calvinism has issued its report to Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee President Frank Page, acknowledging tension and disagreement within the denomination on the issue while urging Southern Baptists to “grant one another liberty” and “stand together” for the Great Commission.
“We can talk like brothers and sisters in Christ, and we can work urgently and eagerly together,” the 3,200-word report reads. “We have learned that we can have just this kind of conversation together, and we invite all Southern Baptists to join together in this worthy spirit of conversation. But let us not neglect the task we are assigned. The world desperately needs to hear the promise of the Gospel.”
The advisory team — not an official committee of the convention — was assembled by Page in August 2012 to advise him on developing “a strategy whereby people of various theological persuasions can purposely work together in missions and evangelism.”
The committee was composed of Calvinists and non-Calvinists from different walks of life in the convention. The report lists areas of theological agreement and acknowledges differences between the two camps, saying “we do indeed have some challenging but not insurmountable points of tension.” The committee says its goal was to “speak truthfully, honestly, and respectfully” about the issue, and that disagreements over Calvinism should not “threaten our Great Commission cooperation.”
“We affirm that Southern Baptists stand together in a commitment to cooperate in Great Commission ministries,” the report says. “We affirm that, from the very beginning of our denominational life, Calvinists and non-Calvinists have cooperated together. We affirm that these differences should not threaten our eager cooperation in Great Commission ministries.
“We deny that the issues now discussed among us should in any way undermine or hamper our work together if we grant one another liberty and extend to one another charity in these differences. Neither those insisting that Calvinism should dominate Southern Baptist identity nor those who call for its elimination should set the course for our life together.”
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