With all the controversy and struggle between Calvinists and “Traditionalists,” a large and mostly quiet segment of the SBC is overlooked. I’m speaking of those who are “non-Calvinists” but still hold that God ultimately determines the destinies of men—but He does so without impinging the free will of men. You can call them compatibilists, antinomists, congruists, centrists and middlers. But you cannot call them anything that puts them in the camp of those who deny divine determinism or in the camp of those who deny the freedom “to choose otherwise”—except to call them Southern Baptists. The current practice, prevalent in discussions of Calvinism, of breaking the SBC into two categories, Calvinists and non-Calvinists, with the false assumption that all non-Calvinists deny divine determinism, is just plain wrong and gives the impression that the “Traditionalist” (libertarian) ranks are swelled far more than they have earned the right to claim.
Typical Southern Baptist Centrist beliefs:
- God is the ultimate Determiner of destinies, unconditionally electing in eternity past
- Men have free will and are accountable for their choices
- The gospel, Christ crucified and risen, is sufficient to save any and all men
- Regeneration is the life-giving indwelling of the Holy Spirit, which is given in response to the faith of the sinner
- Sinners are unable to come to Christ only because of their moral aversion to God, which provides no excuse
- Those whom God saves were persuaded by God but not forced or coerced; and such gracious persuasion is done from outside the person, as God does not indwell a man until He is invited.
- Calvinists and libertarians/Traditionalists are extremes on either side of the centrally-located, Biblical truth.
I’m a Centrist. Are you?
Ken Hamrick, 2013