A blog for Southern Baptists opposed to five-point Calvinism is shutting down indefinitely.
An Oct. 30 posting on SBC Today, a news and opinion blog promoting what supporters call a “traditional” Southern Baptist view of predestination, announced the online forum is taking a hiatus “for the foreseeable future.”
Since 2015, SBC Today has been owned and operated by Connect 316, a group formed in the summer of 2013 to counter Calvinist groups such as the Founders Conference, Acts 29, 9 Marks, the Gospel Coalition and Together for the Gospel gaining influence in the Southern Baptist Convention and other conservative evangelical groups.
Connect 316 grew out of A Statement of the Traditional Southern Baptist Understanding of God’s Plan of Salvation written in 2012 by a group of Southern Baptists concerned about efforts to make five-point Calvinism “the central Southern Baptist position on God’s plan of salvation.”
While sharing some views with Calvinists, the self-described “traditionalists” say recent emphasis on “doctrines of grace” such as double predestination and the idea that Christ died only for the elect is a far cry from the gospel preached by past SBC leaders including Herschel Hobbs, Adrian Rogers and E.Y. Mullins.
In June, Alabama pastor Rick Patrick resigned as publisher of SBC Today over a posting on social media using inappropriate and sarcastic language to cast doubt on #MeToo accusations that led to the firing of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary President Paige Patterson.
Patterson, a general in the battle between moderates and conservatives for the control of the SBC in the 1980s and 1990s, has been a leading figure for the revivalist tradition of altar calls and the “sinner’s prayer” carried over from the days of the sawdust trail. Calvinists say emotional appeals that manipulate people into believing they are saved can lead to “unregenerate” church members who are not genuine followers of Christ.
The 2012 traditionalist statement says Calvinists have made important contributions to Southern Baptist history and theology, but the majority of Southern Baptists do not embrace all five points in the acrostic TULIP, used to summarize Reformed doctrine for 400 years.
The letters correspond to labels Total depravity, Unconditional election, Limited atonement, Irresistible grace and Perseverance of the saints. Some Calvinistic notions, such as once-saved-always-saved, are uncontroversial for most Southern Baptists. Other tenets that seem to downplay free will, however, prompt some to pick and choose from the construct’s more moderate elements, describing themselves as “three-point” or “four-point” Calvinists as opposed to a card-carrying five-pointer.
Denials in the traditional Southern Baptist statement include “that only a select few are capable of responding to the Gospel while the rest are predestined to an eternity in hell,” that “Christ died only for the sins of those who will be saved” and that “from eternity, God predestined certain people for salvation and others for condemnation.”
Tuesday’s blog does not say why SBC Today is shutting down for now, but it encourages readers to visit Soteriology 101, a website associated with Leighton Flowers, director of evangelism and apologetics for the Baptist General Convention of Texas and a former five-point Calvinist.
SBC Today was launched as a group blog in 2007 and became inactive in 2010. Truett-McConnell College (now university) picked up the title in 2012 until its final acquisition by Connect 316.
The URL is unrelated to the newspaper SBC Today, published in the 1980s by moderates resisting the “conservative resurgence” rebellion led by Patterson and Houston layman Paul Pressler. The newspaper was later renamed as Baptists Today and sympathetic to the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. Today it does business as Nurturing Faith, an independent publishing venture including a bimonthly journal, books, resources produced in collaboration with CBF and small-group travel.