By Samantha Adams
Optimism prevailed at the second meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Calvinism advisory council Nov. 5-6 in Nashville, said Dr. David Dockery, university president and council co-chair.
SBC Executive Committee President Dr. Frank Page organized the unofficial council in August to seek unity between Southern Baptists who hold to Calvinist and Arminian views of salvation.
Calvinists emphasize God’s sovereignty in salvation, while Arminians emphasize the individual’s freedom of will.
“Dr. Frank Page offered good leadership,” Dockery said in a Nov. 7 email. “The conversations were quite substantive; the spirit was quite positive and most encouraging.”
Both Dockery and Page said in October interviews for the Cardinal & Cream that their ultimate goal is for the council to write a statement of a strategy for how to achieve unity between SBC Arminians and Calvinists.
Though neither Page nor Dockery has said what practical implications the strategy will include among SBC churches, an Aug. 15 Baptist Press article said Page stressed that it would not seek to change the SBC’s consensus on theology.
The council did not release a statement after the second meeting.
A Nov. 6 Baptist Press article included the full statement Page released after the meeting.
“Satan delights when he is able to divide and conquer,” Page said in his statement. “On the other hand, our Lord is honored when His prayer for us is fulfilled: ‘May they all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I am in you. May they also be one in us, so the world may believe you sent me’ (John 17:21). I believe our unity — or lack thereof — affects our evangelism. The ultimate goal in my mind is that we work together in such a way that more people are won to faith in Christ.
“I truly believe that if we reclaim the principles of respect, honesty, trust and Christ-like selflessness in our dealings with one another, our brightest days of kingdom advance are still before us.”
Beyond Page’s statement, council members agreed not to discuss what was spoken about in the closed-door meetings or Dockery said new members brought the total number of council members to 19 leaders in Southern Baptist life.
The three new members were Dr. David Allen, dean of the School of Theology at Southwestern Center for Expository Preaching in Fort Worth, Texas.; Dr. Tom Ascol, pastor of Grace Baptist Church in Cape Coral, Fla. and Dr. David Landrith, senior pastor of Long Hollow Baptist Church in Hendersonville, Dockery said.
Landrith’s name may be familiar to Union students. He spoke at the Sept. 5 Union chapel service this year.
The meeting did not spark many discussions on social media sites this time, as the subject has in the past.
Ending on Election Day, the meeting was overshadowed by coverage and discussion of the election results.
Dockery said the council members have assignments to work on before the next meeting, which is projected to be in early 2013.