I am reformed. There’s really no way around that. I’m strongly in line, theologically, with 4 out of 5 of the doctrines of grace. I’ll leave it to you to determine which one I have a problem with. That being said, most of my friends and ministry partners have generally been those who hold to a traditional “free-will” position. We have worked well together because of our agreements on essential portions of the faith, and our willingness to recognize each others’ positions as orthodox. I also have generally chosen not to spend too much time with too many reformed guys because, in all honesty, many of them have aggravated me. Reformed guys have all too often been known for their dogmatic approach to their theology. They have been very systematic in their approach to scripture and have been annoyingly arrogant about their “theological correctness.” For these reasons, and many more, I’ve chosen not to associate with a lot of guys whom I might otherwise agree with, theologically.
However, recently there has been an undercurrent of those who are viciously opposed to reformed theology. I have become more and more alarmed as many people have questioned the validity of this theology and have even become ridiculously exclusive in their approach to theology. I have heard too often that reformed pastors are killing churches, that they are dividing theological institutions, that their beliefs are “anti-Bible” or “anti-Christian,” when in reality many “free-will” pastors have killed churches over their easy believism theology, they have also divided institutions over their anger with reformed guys and often times the “free-will” guys simply refuse to listen to others’ biblical arguments. For these reasons I have become increasingly less trusting of many “free-will” leaning theologians.
In light of all that is swirling in SBC life today, I want to make a statement; a plea in fact. It is a very simple one, really. It goes something like this. “There’s room at the table for all of us!” It is way beyond time for Southern Baptist pastors and theologians to quit acting like spoiled children and to begin acting like mature godly, biblical men and women.
It is time that reformed guys start admitting that you can be Christian and believe in free will. It’s time that reformed theologians start recognizing that there are biblical passages that lend themselves to free-will thought. “Whosever will,” and “It is My will that none should perish,” are very real biblical passages that can’t just be argued away by a well processed system.
It’s time that “free-will” guys, on the other hand, start recognizing that they have to deal with election and that it’s not simply in reference to Israel, particularly when you consider Paul’s statements to the Ephesians. Beyond that there must be some recognition that too many wonderful theologians/pastors, for far too long, have been proponents of reformed theology. Men like Calvin, Luther, Spurgeon, Boice, Sproul & Mohler were, and are, not biblical idiots who study with blinders on.
There needs to be an admission from both sides that neither reformed theology, or free-will theology is killing churches, but rather headstrong, obstinate pastors, who care more for systems than for the Savior or the saints in the pews, are killing churches.
In other words, we’ve got bigger fish to fry. While we run around devouring each other, somewhere in the vicinity of 1/3 of the world has still never heard the message of Jesus Christ. That is in spite of the fact that we’ve had the complete message for over 2,000 years! That’s also particularly disgusting when compared with the Coca Cola company which 90% of the world is aware of in spite of the fact that they’ve only been in existence for around 90 years. We need to allow each other to have different, orthodox opinions, and still partner together. We must love people and share Christ with them and whether God elects them, or they chose to come, we should rejoice with 1,000 hallelujahs when they respond in faith. We must be people who edify and lift each other up or we will become a shipwreck of a denomination who finds itself shattered on the rocks of dogmatism, further damaging the opportunities of a lost world to know Christ.
Please people, we’ve cannibalized each other long enough! Let’s stop the feeding frenzy today!