The International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention has just elected a new Calvinist president, David Platt. Some may think it unusual to have a mission president who does not believe Jesus Christ died for the sins of all humanity.
For those unaware, a 5-Point Calvinist does not believe Jesus died for the world, only for the elect. This view is often called Limited Atonement, or Particular Atonement. Therefore, if Jesus did not die for you, you have no chance to ever be saved and go to Heaven. You never had, and never will have a chance to be saved.
Southern Baptists have always had Calvinist and non-Calvinist (aka Moderate Calvinists, Traditionalists) as a part of their convention. The majority, however of Southern Baptists for over 100 years have believed Jesus died for all, and as the Holy Spirit convicts, all have the free choice of accepting or rejecting Jesus as Savior. In contrast, many Calvinists do not believe in that free choice, or free will, of man concerning salvation.
Dr. Rick Patrick, of Connect 316, has pointed out the following new SBC executive positions in the SBC all lean heavily in the Calvinist direction.
2011 - North American Mission Board - Kevin Ezell
2012 - Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary - Jason Allen
2013 - Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission - Russell Moore
2014 - International Mission Board - David Platt
And, of course, the strongest Calvinist SBC seminary is Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville.
Baptist Press has not said much about David Platt’s Calvinism. I’m awaiting a reply from questions I’ve sent directly to the IMB concerning this.
The following from the more moderate / liberal ABP has this to say about David Platt:
“He has been active in Together for the Gospel, a biennial preaching conference for followers of the so-called ‘New Calvinism’ — popularized by leaders including John Piper of Desiring God Ministries and Southern Baptist Theological Seminary President Albert Mohler — that emphasizes God’s sovereignty in deciding who is saved.”
From all indications, David Platt is a very capable preacher, husband, father. He is a strong supporter of missions. He has many strengths. But some are wondering when the calvinization of the Southern Baptist Convention is going to end. Must all our agency leaders be Calvinists? Some non-Calvinists (Traditionalists, Moderate Calvinists) are feeling alienated in their convention. I’m convinced things will balance out, but I’m not sure when. Just thought you should know.
Note & Update:
I am now reading articles implying Dr. Platt does not believe in Limited Atonement.
My evidence for the above, however, includes
The ABP story referred to above.
Christianity Today has referred to him as a Reformed Baptist (aka Calvinist).
Several Calvinists themselves have said that Platt believes in Limited Atonement.
At a 2012 Together for the Gospel (a Calvinist organization) conference, Platt preached on Particular Atonement (another name for Limited Atonement). Among his points were, “The atonement of Christ is graciously, globally, and gloriously particular.” He used the same Scripture in the same way as other Calvinists who believe in Limited Atonement.
Saying I believe everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved (said about Platt in one news article), does not exclude belief in Limited Atonement. Those who believe in Particular Atonement simply believe the non-elect (those for whom Christ did not die) will never call on the name of the Lord.
I have seen some, not all, Calvinists twist words, be deceptive, and say most anything, to get a job as pastor or other office. Both Paige Patterson and Al Mohler have pointed out this problem. We need to be open, clear, transparent about what we believe. If asked about Limited Atonement, I would have no problem clearly explaining what I believe. Our leaders should have no problem answering it either.
An answer like Dr. Jason Allen gave (I struggle with Limited Atonement) is not sufficient. Let’s be clear about it.
I well remember in the days of the SBC Conservative Resurgence being told by moderates that we all believe the same thing about the Bible. Well, that was obviously not true. Some today seem to want us to think we all believe the same thing concerning Calvinism. Or, that if we just ignore it, it will go away.
If Platt used to, but no longer believes in Limited Atonement, then let us know that.
I have not yet received a reply to questions related to this issue that I sent to the IMB.
As Southern Baptist Texan Editor Gary Ledbetter said, “There are some constituencies that have concerns about the comments and theological statements Dr. Platt has made as a popular speaker and writer - nothing unorthodox but pretty Calvinistic at times.”
There are 5-point Calvinists I greatly admire. But in this day when Calvinism is on the rise in the SBC, especially among our SBC agencies, we need to be open and specific about what we believe.
-David R. Brumbelow, Gulf Coast Pastor, September 3, AD 2014.
The Calvinists Are Here; Gerald Harris, Christian Index
Books on Calvinism, Predestination
Limited or Universal Atonement by Dr. David L. Allen
Connect316 - A SBC group that believes: God loves every person. Christ died for every person. God wants to save every person.