Southern Baptist Calvinism

From Curt Daniel’s History and Theology of Calvinism (for historical interest’s sake):

9. Southern Baptist Calvinism.

A. Like the Presbyterians, most American Baptists were affiliated with one denomination until the issue of slavery and states’ rights caused them to split north and south. The division came in 1845. The northern branch today is mainly represented by the American Baptist Convention. As with the Presbyterians, the northern Baptists slipped into forms of Arminianism and liberalism before the century was over. But the Southern Baptist Convention lasted much longer in its Calvinistic Evangelicalism.

B. It comes as great shock to most Southern Baptists today that all of the founders and leaders of the Southern Baptist Convention were, to a man, all emphatic and explicit five-point Calvinists. Such included the following:

(1) W. B. Johnson (1782-1862). First President of the SBC.

(2) Patrick H. Mell (1814-1888). President of the SBC for 17 years.

(3) John L. Dagg (1794-1884). The first major SBC theologian. His Manual of Theology was the standard textbook of theology in all SBC seminaries.

(4) Basil Manly, Sr (1798-1868). and Jr (1825-1892). Leading founders and theologians in the SBC in its formative years.

(5) John Broadus (1827-1895). The official SBC publisher, Broadman Press, gets its name from Broadus and Manly.

(6) James Pettigru Boyce (1827-1888). SBC President, founder and first President of Southern Baptist Seminary. His Abstract of Systematic Theology rivalled [sic] Dagg’s as the leading SBC official textbook on theology.

(7) B.H. Carroll (1843-1914). Founder of Southwestern Baptist Seminary.

C. These are giants among Southern Baptists. And they were all emphatic Calvinists. They had no time or patience for Arminianism of any stripe. But what happened? The change happened in the early 1900’s when E.Y. Mullins (1860-1928) began to disseminate Arminian theology at Southwestern Seminary and in his The Christian Religion in its Doctrinal Expression, which eventually eclipsed Dagg and Boyce’s textbooks in the seminaries. With the Fundamentalist-Modernist Controversy of the 1920’s, Arminian Fundamentalism gained the upper hand. Some of them implied that Calvinism opened the door to Modernism. In any case, Calvinism has been in retreat in the SBC ever since.

D. Today, there is only a small Calvinist wing in the SBC, mainly through the leadership of Ernest Riesinger and Tom Nettles. (Curt Daniel, The History and Theology of Calvinism, p. 128).

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