The Capranica

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Location: Hemet, California, United States

Co-Pastor of First Baptist Church of San Jacinto, California

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Calvinism and Declining Baptisms

Bobby Welch, current President of the Southern Baptist Convention, and Pastor of First Baptist Church, Daytona Beach, Florida, is very concerned about baptisms in the Southern Baptist Convention. He is also concerned about Calvinists within the Convention and what they are doing to the SBC's baptism ratio. He posts his concerns on his church's July 10 Newsletter and makes for an interesting read. Regarding Bro. Bobby's recent cry for one million baptism's this year, see my previous comments at FIDE-O. Concerning his Cavinistic concerns and claims, see Rob Wilkerson's post and a post by Tom Ascol [part 1], [part 2], and [part 3]. I too am concerned about baptisms within the Convention. I am very concerned about my own personal evangelism and that of my congregation. We would no doubt be in Bro. Welch's crosshairs for our lack of water stirred within the past year. I am grieved when the church is not seeing people openly profess their repentance and conversion through the waters of baptism. But, I'm also concerned about many of the baptisms that ARE taking place. In my experience, many SBC pastors [including myself at one time] are ready and willing to dunk anyone who will repeat a prayer after a minimalist [at best] presentation of the gospel. Perhaps we should also be taking statistics on just how many newly dunked professors of faith are also abandoning their confession and their church. I am not convinced that we are merely ineffective in our follow-up techniques and marketing strategies. Pastor Welch did not discuss anything about the gospel we preach, only the numbers he says we should produce. In the end, is the Father going to hold us most accountable for WHAT we preached or how many we reached? Your theological position will determine much of the way you answer this question. While I don't want to excuse the evangelistic laziness of many so-called Calvinists, I do want ask, why is it that we must measure our evangelistic effectiveness by the initial response to the gospel rather than the persevering life of increasing godliness? (Jesus' parable of the soils suggests the initial response may not be a saving response.) Probably, because the figures for the latter are simply too difficult to obtain. Perhaps because the reality of the latter may be too discouraging to discuss. I am thankful for Pastor Welch's zeal for the lost. I am deeply convicted by it. I am less thankful for his misplaced accusations for the cause of our evangelistic complacency. Numbers don't reveal everything nor necessarily the more important issues.

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