SBC Calvinism Advisory Committee Panel Discussion
In my view, the freshest, most challenging, and most helpful statement in this panel discussion came within the last five minutes of the discussion, from Daniel Sanchez, Professor of Missions, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Dr. Sanchez pled with the other panelists and with those in attendance:
Let's be cautious about the way we articulate our theology. For example, many of our Hispanic people came out of a Roman Catholic background. Many of us think Calvin didn't come far enough away from Catholicism. And issues like the assurance of salvation are extremely important. Issues like salvation by grace alone without works are extremely important. And often the way we articulate these issues can either help us to communicate the gospel or can be obstacles to the communication of the gospel. And there are other groups with other religious backgrounds. So, just a word of caution for us: let's be cautious about the way we articulate theology. We could be so comfortable with our own terminology without realizing we could be erecting barriers for people of other cultures and other religious backgrounds.I believe that all Southern Baptists- both those who would say that they are "Calvinistic" in their understanding of salvation, and those who would reject the label of "Calvinism"- can learn from Dr. Sanchez's words. I have personally witnessed to people who have heard messages from non-Calvistic Baptists such as "Jesus died for you" or "if you pray this prayer and mean it with all your heart, you should never doubt that you're saved" articulated in unhelpful ways. People may hear these things, may have an emotional experience, and believe that they are right with God even if there is no basic change in their heart or life. They go on sinning- walking in the darkness (1 John 1:6)- all the while thinking that they are Christians.
On the other hand, I have personally heard from people who are in unnecessary anxiety because some Calvinistic Baptist minister has told them things like "it is God's will that your baby died" or "due to the deceitfulness of sin, though God keeps His elect, it is nearly impossible to know in this life whether you're saved." People may hear these things stated in an unbalanced way, and their emotional reaction may lead them to believe that they are NOT right with God, even if they have been accepted in Christ through faith by a loving and merciful Father.
My point is- and the point I think Dr. Sanchez was making was- that we must take care that we are speaking about truths concerning salvation in a clear, biblically balanced way.