Traditionalism, Arminianism & Reformed Theology

Over the past several years the debate surrounding Reformed theology has grown more heated.  This is due, at least in part, to the resurgence of Reformed theology over the past several decades.  Popular pastors and authors such as John Piper, John MacArthur and the late R.C. Sproul inspired a new generation of young and passionate Christians to adopt Reformed theology, which is sometimes called Calvinism.  The unifying core of Reformed theology that these three men and many others like them hold in common consists of the doctrines relating to salvation.  The study of these doctrines is commonly referred to as soteriology.  These doctrines address issues such as the will of man, the atonement, the sovereignty of God, election and many more.

“Perhaps there is no place where this rising tension has been more evident than in the Southern Baptist Convention.”

The rise in the popularity of Reformed theology has not gone unnoticed by those who hold a different understanding of the core doctrines that relate to salvation.  Perhaps there is no place where this rising tension has been more evident than in the Southern Baptist Convention.  In 2012, a group of Southern Baptist ministers drafted and affirmed a statement regarding what they have termed “Traditionalism.”  The name is used to designate what these ministers believe to be the most common understanding of soteriology within the Southern Baptist Convention during the twentieth century, though they admit that there is no data to support such a claim.[1]  The name “Traditionalism” has been confusing and frustrating for some, because history clearly shows that Baptists in the United States had been Reformed in their understanding of soteriology for the vast majority of our countries history.[2]

The Traditionalist statement was drafted to outline their disagreements with the Reformed understanding of soteriology.  In the years since that statement was released, proponents of Traditionalism have become increasingly vocal in expressing their disagreements with Reformed soteriology in an attempt to push back against the rising influence of the Reformed movement within the convention.  Others within the convention that hold to an Arminian understanding of soteriology, which has several notable distinctions from Traditionalist soteriology, have also been vocal opponents of the rise of Reformed theology within the convention.

“Far too many of the discussions surrounding these issues devolve into personal attacks, arguments designed to elicit an emotional response or mischaracterizations of the opposing position.”

Many of the upcoming articles that I will be publishing on this site will carefully examine the biblical arguments that are being put forward by those who disagree with Reformed theology.   Most of the Reformed resources that I see online today do a very good job of presenting a positive biblical case for the Reformed position, but in my assessment it would be helpful to provide specific responses to many of the claims and exegetical arguments that are being presented by those attempting to counter the Reformed movement.  Far too many of the discussions surrounding these issues devolve into personal attacks, arguments designed to elicit an emotional response or mischaracterizations of the opposing position.  Handling such disagreements in this manner does not glorify Christ or edify the Church.  It will be my goal to interact with these various positions in an honest, respectful and charitable manner that does just that.

[1] “Why The Term Traditionalism,” Connect316, http://connect316.net/about-us/why-traditionalism/.
[2] Thomas S. Kidd, “Calvinism Is Not New to Baptists: Grace Unleashed in the American Colonies,” Desiring God, https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/calvinism-is-not-new-to-baptists.

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