As the SBC winds down its conference, outgoing President Bryant Wright made a thoughtful challenge to the pastors and other church leaders gathered together. As the differing views between Reformed/Calvinist-leaning Baptists and Arminian Baptists continue to be discussed, Pastor Bryant urged everyone to walk in humility. Going even further than that, he warned that we can stumble into making idols of our theological positions and forgetting what the church is supposed to be doing—proclaiming the Gospel.
Here is a brief clip of what Pastor Wright had to say on the issue of pride . . .
Any time there is pride, whether it is spiritual pride or intellectual pride or theological pride, it is always a sin," Wright asserted. "An attitude of superiority with those who may disagree with the finer aspects of theological beliefs is never going to build up the Church of Jesus Christ."
Addressing the latter group, he continued his rebuke, saying "judgmentalism quickly moves into slander," and warned against breaking the Ninth Commandment on false witness.
"It is time to show some respect to those with differing views when it comes to election and salvation," he stressed.
Wright urged pastors to agree to disagree and reminded them that Jesus Christ and the Great Commission should be the central focus.
"Let us understand that these two views on election and salvation can co-exist as long as we stay Christ-centered and biblically-based in our theology.
I can sympathize with Bryant Wright's concerns. I am not Baptist, but E-Free. I am Reformed in my theology and soteriology, with the exception of eschatology, where I am premillennial. As with the Baptists, the E-Free fellowship has both Calvinists and Arminians. Somehow, we manage to get along.
My caution for my fellow Calvinists would to be sure we don't cross the line into fatalism. There is a difference. My caution for my Arminian brothers would be to avoid falling into Pelagianism, or salvation by works. Some of my more hardcore Calvinist brothers view Arminianism as "semi-Pelagianism," and I understand their argument. A friend of mine once said he believes that most Arminians are just confused Calvinists.
The main thing is that we all believe (I hope) that we are saved by grace alone, through faith alone, by Christ alone, and to God alone be the glory. No human work of righteousness can result in salvation, or earn one drop of the blood of Christ. The moment we begin bringing human works into the equation, we have lost the biblical Gospel. And that we can never surrender.