SBC Leader Says Calvinism Steadily Dividing Church

Article excerpt

A Southern Baptist Convention official says one of the top challenges facing the nation's second largest faith group (after Roman Catholics) is the increasing influence of Calvinism in churches. Frank Page, who heads the Nashville-based SBC Executive Committee, sees the theological divide as "a tremendous challenge for us."

Page, who served as SBC president from 2006 to 2008, said he regularly receives communications from congregations struggling over this issue. His remarks appeared October 18 in a blog interview on the SBC Today website.

"Everyone is aware of this, but few want to talk about this in public," elaborated Page, who assumed the post of president and CEO of the SBC fiduciary and executive agency last year. "At some point we are going to see the challenges which are ensuing from this divide become even more problematic for us."

A former South Carolina pastor, Page wrote an 80-page booklet in 2000 titled Trouble with the TULIP: A Closer Examination of the Five Points of Calvinism. In it he termed Calvinism a "man-made" doctrine not supported by scripture and defended what he called "the true teachings of grace."

The book countered a common acronym for the five main points of Calvinism, a theological model named after Protestant reformer John Calvin. They are: total depravity, unmerited election, limited atonement, irresistible grace and perseverance of the saints.

Page presented an alternative acronym, GRACE: "Given through Christ, rejected through rebellion, accepted through faith and Christ died for all" that summarized four points of a counterview of Calvinism called Arminianism. Page's final "E" departed from Arminian thought with "everlasting life/security of the believer," a Calvinist doctrine held by most Southern Baptists, often described as "once saved, always saved. …