New Calvinism, the Internet & the Fragmentation of the SBC


Wm. F. Harrell had some interesting things to say in a recent issue of the Baptist Banner. While I agree with much of the original article, I am pretty confident that when Harrell says ‘Calvinism’, he actually means new Calvinism. He discusses the Acts 29 network of ‘churches’ as well as Mark Driscoll, et. al., and therefore, I’ve drawn said conclusion. Below is a section I thought was especially pertinent to the whole issue. The link to the full article is below.

“When one looks at the different facets of the current happenings in the SBC, you can begin to get an idea as to what is actually taking place and where it is all headed. Of course, this assumes that you have enough background. If current trends continue, we will not be able to recognize the SBC in a very few years. Which begs the question: “ Is there nothing right about the SBC?” Is everything wrong and in need of radical surgery? I think not! These people [new Calvinists] are doing with the convention that which many of them have done in churches: radically change the makeup of the church while making those who might oppose them out to be the ones who really don’t desire to be obedient to God or fulfill the great commission. 

Things are changing in our Southern Baptist Zion and they are not for the good. If things continue on the present course, I predict that in only a few years we will not have thirty five state and pioneer conventions but about 25. Some will cease to operate. Some will combine with a more stable convention in order to survive. Additionally, I predict that the Executive Committee will cease to be the entity which has guided us so well in the past because fewer conventions will reduce the number of committee members. As it grows smaller someone will say: “why have the Executive Committee?” “It is now much smaller and we don’t need to waste that mission money on having a meeting since we have the internet with the ability for each person to stay home and participate in a video conference.” There will be a movement to let the officers of the committee meet about twice a year, set up a video meeting, and hold an Executive Committee meeting in such a manner. Next will come the bright idea of: “since we don’t have all those people meeting twice a year and since so much has changed, why don’t we sell the Baptist Building?” “We could take that money and start some more churches and send some more missionaries.” I mean…..who in the world could be against such good things?

One might say I am being an alarmist but I believe that the fragmentation of the SBC is already taking place and it will proceed in that direction until we are no longer the monolithic spiritual body which has influence in the nation and world, but we will be like any other denominational body. We will not be the leader among denominations as we have been but we will be classed with those that the world doesn’t care if they exist or not because they are no threat to the sinful directions of society.

I know that what I have said will be decried as harsh, but we are dealing with harsh realities in the SBC. If things follow a normal course, it will be the young theologues who have little or no experience which will be the harshest in their criticism of my thoughts. They are still “wet behind the ears” and don’t have the experience or background to say very much at all. In general they have no respect for those who have had a ministry of forty or more years. I really don’t care who says what. My observations are built on the foundation of sixteen years on the Executive Committee and thirty eight years of pastoring Southern Baptist Churches.

The things I have mentioned are some of the things that bear watching. Time will prove if I am right or not. I think I am.”

Wm. F. Harrell
Dr. Harrell is senior pastor of Abilene Baptist Church, Augusta, GA

original article entitled “Things That Bear Watching” can be found here.