To the Editor
Earlier this year, the SBC’s “Calvinism Advisory Committee” released a statement which was praised by Calvinists and non-Calvinists within the SBC for it’s charitable tone and unifying impulse.
The statement recognized the theological differences which exist within the SBC while affirming the need for friendly conversation rather than contributing to a spirit of divisiveness.
In light of this encouraging statement, I was disappointed to read “Calvinism is not Baptist theology” in the October 10, 2013 edition of Baptist Message.
If the letter were merely antagonistic and slighting it could easily be met with a sigh and dismissed. However, the letter contained such basic factual errors that a response is justified lest readers assume its veracity.
Even a casual reading of the history of the Southern Baptist Convention makes clear that Calvinism has been present from the very beginning.
Calvinist theology was, in fact, strongly influential among the founding leaders of the SBC and predominated for several decades.
The Calvinism Advisory Committee celebrated the theological diversity that has existed from the SBC’s very first days citing “theological statesmen such as James P. Boyce and B. H. Carroll” among others.
These influential SBC leaders held to a strongly Calvinistic theology as did founders of the Louisiana Baptist Convention (see W.E. Paxton’s “A History of the Baptists of Louisiana”).
The writer asserted the absurdity of attempting to inject Calvinism into the Baptist faith.
I would caution against the absurdity of attempting to purge the historical record of Calvinism from the Baptist faith.
Jeff Wright, Jr.
To the Editor
I commend Mr. Rob Phillips for his courage in attempting to explain one of the more controversial passages in the Bible – I Samuel 15:3 – where it states that God commanded King Saul to totally destroy the Amalekites and all of their possessions (in the October 24, 2013 issue of the Baptist Message, titled “Is God guilty of genocide?”).
However this article raised more questions in my mind than it answered. The dictionary defines genocide as “the deliberate and systematic extermination of a national, racial, political or cultural group.”
Although the article justifies the action by the Israelites on the basis of the Amalekite’s debased lifestyle and actions – particularly those directed against the Israelites – this is immaterial as to whether the extermination of the Amalekites constituted genocide.
Mr. Phillips implies that this action by the Israelites was justified because of great sin and moral depravity of the Amalekites. He implies that the little children (characterized as “bathed in idolatry and wickedness”) are worthy only of being killed.
How can this view be squared with Jesus’ command to “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”? And how can this story be squared with Jesus’ command to love our enemies or his command to forgive those who have wronged us? Any attempt to explain this story needs to answer these questions.
If we believe God commanded genocide once in history, what is there to keep some group from thinking that they has been commanded by God to do the same today? And a belief that God once commanded genocide against Israel’s enemies will make us less likely to take seriously Jesus’ command to love our enemies.
Kenny S. Crump