Just when one believes the Calvinist-Arminian Debate is over due to nausea induced arguments, along comes a voice of reason. In the latest White Paper signed by Dr. Paige Patterson, Dr. David Allen, Dr. Malcolm Yarnell, Dr. Ken Keathley, Dr. Jerry Vines, Dr. Richard Land, and Dr. Steve Lemke, we have a Baptist position expressed by Baptist Theologians. The point that appeals to this writer centers around the fact of who we are. Whenever we modify Baptist with either Calvinist or Arminian we just left the central tenant of being a Baptist-the Bible. The authors of the White Paper certainly express this truth when they write;
As mission-minded and evangelistic Baptists, we are uncomfortable with moving too far beyond scriptural revelation into speculative theological models.
Dr. Vines referred to “simple biblicism” as the place we should remain with the debate. With this in mind the White Paper reminds us there is an understanding that we have Calvinist Baptists along with Arminian Baptists within the SBC. But, as the authors expressed:
We certainly believe that Baptists can be Calvinists and they can be Arminians, but we prefer not to allow ourselves to be defined by either of those great positions, because we see something even greater, something that deserves more attention and requires a higher allegiance. Likewise, theologians open to Molinism, such as Bruce Little and Ken Keathley, do their work with a firm commitment to evangelical Baptist convictions. What we are saying is that our own passion for God’s Word, for Christ and for His Great Commission necessarily places every desire for settling the long-running and seemingly intractable Calvinist-Arminian debate to the side. We recognize this is a debate that will continue to be held and should be held in certain restricted venues. However, the debate itself is trumped by our need to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ, to proclaim Scripture, and to obey His Great Commission. Moreover, we believe our position is the mainstream Southern Baptist position, as Richard Land said in his chapter, “the Separate Baptist Sandy Creek Tradition has been the melody for Southern Baptists, with Charleston and other traditions providing harmony” (50).
This article brings us back to the central tenet that is needed in this debate.