NASHVILLE – An advisory team on the issue of Calvinism met for the second time in Nashville, Tenn., Nov. 5-6, Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee President Frank Page reported after members of the 19-member group convened.
Page named the advisory team – “not an official committee” – in mid-August to develop, as he told Baptist Press at the time, “a strategy whereby people of various theological persuasions can purposely work together in missions and evangelism.”
When he announced the advisory team, Page said at some point in the coming weeks and months he is hoping for “the crafting of a statement regarding the strategy on how we can work together.”
The full statement issued Nov. 6 by Page after the advisory team’s meeting follows:
“I want to see men and women, boys and girls won to Christ. This is my overriding concern. I think unity helps do that.
“My hope is that this group will help us identify areas of agreement and disagreement in Southern Baptist life concerning how God’s redemptive purposes are achieved through Christ. Once these are more clearly identified, we hope to develop some positive strategies that will enhance our ability to work together for the proclamation of the [g]ospel and the fulfillment of the Great Commission.
“Satan delights when he is able to divide and conquer. 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.
“As I stated before, I have no interest in changing The Baptist Faith and Message. It has been wisely crafted by previous generations of thoughtful, thinking Baptists to allow for a breadth of interpretations about God’s purpose of grace. It was written so that Calvinists and non-Calvinists can join hands and hearts for the common cause of world evangelization.
“I truly believe that if we reclaim the principles of respect, honesty, trust and Christlike selflessness in our dealings with one another, our brightest days of Kingdom advance are still before us.”
The next meeting of the advisory group will not take place until after the first of the year.
The meeting was conducted on background rules involving no quoted statements by or attribution of comments to advisory team members. By consensus, the advisory team agreed that Page would issue a statement after the meeting.
In announcing the advisory team in mid-August, Page said additional names could be added to the “group of helpers helping Frank Page come up with some sort of strategy document.”
New team members include David Allen, dean of the school of theology at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas; Tom Ascol, pastor of Grace Baptist Church in Cape Coral, Fla.; and David Landrith, senior pastor of Long Hollow Baptist Church in Hendersonville, Tenn.
Other advisory team members in alphabetical order are Daniel Akin, president, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Wake Forest, N.C.; Mark Dever, senior pastor, Capitol Hill Baptist Church, Washington D.C.; David Dockery, president of Union University in Jackson, Tenn.; Leo Endel, executive director, Minnesota-Wisconsin Baptist Convention; Ken Fentress, senior pastor, Montrose Baptist Church, Rockville, Md.; Timothy George, dean, Beeson Divinity School, Birmingham, Ala.; Eric Hankins, senior pastor, First Baptist Church, Oxford, Miss.; Johnny Hunt, pastor, First Baptist Church, Woodstock, Ga.; Tammi Ledbetter, homemaker and layperson, Inglewood Baptist Church, Grand Prairie, Texas; Steve Lemke, provost and director of the Baptist Center for Theology and Ministry at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary; Fred Luter, president of the Southern Baptist Convention; R. Albert Mohler Jr., president, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Ky.; Paige Patterson, president, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Fort Worth, Texas; Stephen Rummage, senior pastor, Bell Shoals Baptist Church, Brandon; Daniel Sanchez, professor of missions, associate dean and director of the Scarborough Institute of Church Planting & Growth, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Fort Worth, Texas; Jimmy Scroggins, senior pastor, First Baptist Church, West Palm Beach, Fla.