Calvinism has been a hot potato among Southern Baptists for many years, and things continue to heat up. Recently a nominee for the presidency of the Southern Baptist Convention brought up the old charge that the doctrine of predestination “has a tendency to blunt the sharp edge of evangelism and missions.”
Blogger Timmy Brister has a great response to this claim that’s worth reading. I’ll only add that I think the brother who made these comments is relying on some shaky numbers. In a post on his blog he makes two claims I found especially suspect:
- “Today the Presbyterian Church and other reformed church groups are not on the leading edge of missions.” It’s hard to know exactly how he would define “cutting edge,” but I would point out that Reformed groups are vastly outnumbered in evangelical circles. So no, our missions groups are not likely to be the largest. I would, however, be interested to learn how many people have been led to explore missions after hearing John Piper or reading his Let the Nations Be Glad!
- “The number of missionaries send [sic] by Presbyterians in the last fifty years have been rapidly decreasing.” I wonder if he’s including the Presbyterian Church (USA) in this– a denomination that has, indeed, been dying a slow death for most of a century, owing largely to their abandonment of historic Reformed doctrine. I’m sure their missionary numbers are “rapidly decreasing”– just like their membership numbers– and that would make the overall Presbyterian number look pretty bad.
This is a tired old line that really needs to be dropped if we’re going to get anywhere in a reasonable, Bible-based debate on these issues. Of course, it’s also a reminder to those of us who do love Reformed doctrine: we need to be tireless evangelists, so that (among much more important reasons) this charge is less and less effective.
Do read Timmy Brister’s piece, though– it’s more comprehensive and better researched than my quick thoughts.