Al Mohler and New Calvinism

Dr. Al Mohler, president of the Calvinist flagship of Southern Baptist seminaries, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, in Louisville, Kentucky, has stated that "it is not by accident that there are no great Arminian testimonies to the inerrancy of Scripture," implying that all Southern Baptists are Calvinists to one degree or another. This is, on both counts, false. As long as Calvinists keep making outlandish statements such as these, Arminians are going to keep exposing their obvious inaccuracies. When Calvinists stop assuming themselves Evangelicalism's hero, all the while playing the sorely misunderstood martyr, we will accomplish legitimate goals for Christ's body and vie for true unity. 

At a video-streamed table discussion regarding the so-called New Calvinism, Ligon Duncan, Kevin DeYoung, and Al Mohler confess that the core doctrines of Calvinism are Evangelicalism's only hope. Dr. Mohler states: 
If you're a theologically-minded, deeply-convictional young evangelical; if you're committed to the gospel and you want to see the nations rejoice in the name of Christ; if you want to see Gospel-built-and-structured-and-committed churches, your theology is just gonna end up basically being Reformed [i.e., Calvinistic] -- basically being something like this New Calvinism, or you're gonna have to invent some other label for what's just gonna be the same thing. (link)
Again, Dr. Mohler's comments are, simply, false. I think he wants this conclusion to be true, but it is not true, not in the least.

There are a host of conservative  classical Arminians who are theologically-minded, deeply-convictional young evangelicals, committed to the Gospel, wanting to see the nations rejoice in the name of Jesus Christ, especially given that our biblical theology holds that Christ actually died for all in those nations; who long to see Gospel-built-and-structured, committed churches, yet who reject the errors of Exhaustive Determinism (what Calvinists erroneously label "the sovereignty of God"), as well as the highly speculative, philosophical-theological theories of Unconditional Election, Limited Atonement, and Irresistible Grace.

Anyone with a high view of Scripture has, no doubt, considered and read Arminius' Reformed views of the same. From the Statement of Faith on Scripture from the Society of Evangelical Arminians we read: "We believe the Scriptures as originally given by God, both Old and New Testaments, to be the inspired Word of God, infallible, entirely trustworthy, and the supreme authority in all matters of faith and conduct." (emphases added) This statement is every bit as Reformed as is that of the New Calvinists.

Like an ostrich with its head in the Calvinistic sand, thinking that only his Calvinist brothers represent conservative evangelical theology, Dr. Molher continues: 
There just are not options out there, and that's something that I think frustrates some people. But when I am asked about the new Calvinism, I will say, basically, where else are they gonna go? Who else is going to answer the questions? Where else are they gonna find the resources they need? And where else are they gonna connect? This is a generation that understands they want to say the same thing Paul said; they want to stand with the apostles. They want to stand with old, dead people. And they know they are gonna have to if they want to teach and preach the truth. (link)
Yet there is an option out there, contra Mohler's opinion; but the option is found not in the speculative theories of Calvinism but in the evangelical witness of classical Arminianism. I realize he wants others to think that there are no options out there except Calvinism, because that will serve his Calvinistic agenda, but his statement is, simply, inaccurate. If young evangelicals want conservative dead people with Gospel-oriented, scripturally-sound theology, minus the speculative theories of Exhaustive Determinism (which taints the nature and character of our sovereign God), then classical Arminianism is exactly what they have been searching for. 

Let me officially invite the Young, Restless and Reformed people of God to "do their homework," and refuse to be duped by all the misrepresentations, caricatures and lies spread by Calvinists about Arminius and the Remonstrants' theology. I encourage them to visit the Society of Evangelical Arminians site; also note my own resourceful links and read for themselves of the glorious truths of the Gospel via Arminian theology, the theology of the early Church fathers. But a warning remains: the temptation will be strong to become angry at Calvinist laypeople or Calvinist ministers and publishing houses for how Arminius and Arminianism have been mishandled, misunderstood,  and misrepresented.

Also, they should be prepared to be challenged on the Calvinistic interpretations of various passages of Scripture to which they have been exposed (misled). They will never again view Romans 9 in the same fashion, having read Dr. Brian J. Abasciano's Paul's Use of the Old Testament in Romans 9:1-9: An Intertextual and Theological Exegesis, and his follow-up, Paul's Use of the Old Testament in Romans 9:10-18: An Intertextual and Theological Exegesis. (The third in this series is due for publication in 2016, perhaps 2017.) This is brand new scholarship in the classical Arminian tradition. Also, Dr. Abasciano argues for Corporate Election in a JETS article, replying to Calvinist Thomas Schreiner, and also clears up some misconceptions on the classical Arminian view of Election (link).  

What should be obvious to any objective reader, even from this very brief response to Dr. Mohler's erroneous claims, is that Calvinism is by far not conservative Evangelicalism's only option, nor is it by far its only hope. Such an opinion can only be substantiated by locking oneself in a room with like-minded individuals, refusing to engage the broader spectrum of Evangelicalism -- or Protestantism for that matter -- which is exactly what Calvinist leaders today are doing with their star-promoting, ego-feeding, hero worship advocated by video-streamed meetings and conferences. 

Be wiser than them. Do the hard work. Don't repeat the errors of many who listen only to what their leaders tell them without a critical mind and some attempt at objectivity.


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My name is William Birch and I grew up in the Southern Baptist tradition but converted, if you will, to Anglicanism in 2012. I am gay, affirming, and take very seriously matters of social justice, religion and politics in the church and the state.