Some younger fundamentalists have the impression that life in the wider Evangelical world is all peace in the valley, not at all like the quarrels and spats they’ve heard about in fundamentalism. That impression is mistaken.
For example, take Paige Patterson’s recent rant against Calvinists as reported by Baptist News Global. In an article entitled “Chapel Speaker Terms Calvinism ‘Trojan Horse,'” author Bob Allen represents Patterson as suggesting that “Calvinists ought to consider joining another denomination.” His report continues,
“I know there are a fair number of you who think you are a Calvinist, but understand there is a denomination which represents that view,” Paige Patterson, president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, said at the close of Tuesday’s chapel service. “It’s called Presbyterian.”
Patterson is well known as an opponent of Calvinism, just as Albert Mohler is known as an advocate. In the past, both men have tried to downplay their differences over the “doctrines of grace.” Each, however, reflects the commitments of many others who are strongly committed to the two sides of the debate.
There is a right time and place to debate Calvinism. There is also a right way to debate Calvinism. But disputes over Calvinism should not be permitted to disrupt the Lord’s work, either in the SBC or in fundamentalism.
I’ve been happy to work with Calvinists. I’ve been equally happy to work with non-Calvinists. I was privileged to attend a college at which both moderate Calvinism and moderate Arminianism were taught. Hearing both sides of the debate sharpened the issues and helped to clarify my thinking. Just as importantly, the love and respect that the advocates on both sides demonstrated toward each other provided a model to which I continue to aspire.
You can be a committed and enthusiastic Calvinist without being a Crusading Calvinist. Most are. You can be a committed and enthusiastic non-Calvinist without being a Crusading Anti-Calvinist. Most are. Neither Crusading Calvinism nor Crusading Anti-Calvinism is going to edify the body of Christ, and I for one am grateful for committed men who can discuss these differences charitably and sanely.