A Response To Steve W. Lemke’s “What Is A Baptist?: Nine Marks That Separate Baptists From Presbyterians” -- By: Kenneth Gore

Journal: Journal for Baptist Theology & Ministry
Volume: JBTM 05:2 (Fall 2008)
Article: A Response To Steve W. Lemke’s “What Is A Baptist?: Nine Marks That Separate Baptists From Presbyterians”
Author: Kenneth Gore


A Response To Steve W. Lemke’s “What Is A Baptist?:
Nine Marks That Separate Baptists From Presbyterians”

Kenneth Gore

Chair, Department of Christian Ministries
Williams Baptist College

Before I get into my response, let me tell you about my personal pilgrimage with Calvinism. I first encountered it 25 years ago when I was a sophomore in College. One of my friends believed in Calvinism, and he did well in formulating his view. While articulate, he was not able to persuade. He, however, remained a good friend.

Although I lived in Scotland for two years (near John Knox’s home), I did not again encounter Calvinism until I was in seminary. One friend spoke to me about the “Doctrines of Grace,” and he asked me what I thought of them. I said, “I’m somewhere between a 2- and 3-point Calvinist: the ‘T,’ the ‘P,’ and perhaps the ‘L.’” Immediately he fired back, “No! You can’t be 2- or 3-point; it’s all or nothing!” Without hesitation, I simply told him, “Well, that’s where I am; call it what you want.” Basically, I’ve not changed my position. I hold the same basic understanding that Dr. Lemke has noted in his paper, and I believe most Southern Baptists hold the same view.

You may wonder what, if anything, I can offer to this discussion. After all, I’m a professor of Old Testament at a small Baptist school in Northeast Arkansas, one of the last bastions of Landmarkism within Southern Baptist life. We’re still tackling issues of “closed communion” and “alien immersion” in our churches, so how does Calvinism affect us at Williams?

For the most part, Calvinism affects our students with mild interest, since most of them have never encountered it before they arrived to campus. Some of our students will go to “Passion” during Christmas break (and hear John Piper speak), while others at times attend the Reformed Baptist church in our area. In my years at Williams, I have seen the discussion rise and fall: for a while it will be popular, then it will subside. While presently most of the Calvinism discussion on campus has subsided, I’m sure it will appear again. New followers simply appreciate its concise formulaic answers, and many like its structured view of theology. Opponents of Calvinism, however, have two basic concerns to the system: the origin of sin, and the all-encompassing nature of God’s love.

First, if one takes Calvinism to its full conclusion, the question has to be raised: how did sin begin in the world? If Adam and Eve were sinless and had no sinful nature, what made them sin? Though not all believe this, many Calvinists feel that God made them sin. Personally, I find such a view repulsive and ...

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