SBC Votes Today on Whether Millennial Reformed Theology Represents the Future

The election is a test of whether Southern Baptist pastors are leaning toward more Reformed theology tendencies or staying with leaders who tend to be critical of Reformed theology.

Slated for a vote to serve as president of the convention are J.D. Greear, pastor of the Summit Church in Durham, North Carolina, and Steve Gaines, who serves as senior pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church, Memphis, Tennessee, one of the more historic parishes for Southern Baptists….Greear, 43, who is a strong Calvinist, represents the resurgence in Reformed theology, especially among younger evangelicals. Gaines, 58, has a moderately Reformed bent and is seen largely as the continuation of current President Ronnie Floyd, and is held in high esteem by baby boomers. Generation X-ers are largely caught in the middle.

 

Southern Baptists will vote June 14 [balloting will continue on June 15] in Saint Louis, Missouri, for a new convention president in an election experts say might determine the future of evangelism in the nation’s largest Protestant denomination.

The election is also a test of whether Southern Baptist pastors are leaning toward the more Reformed theology tendencies of some of their younger millennial leaders or are staying with leaders who tend to be more critical of Reformed theology.

According to sources who could not be named for this article but who are very familiar with the inner workings of the denomination’s structure and affiliated institutions, at issue is both the theological orientation of the Baptist faith and Message and its overall approach to ministry. What is arguably most at stake is the fervor for evangelism for which Southern Baptists have been known historically.

One indication of the size of the debate is a chart circulating in SBC circles that argues that baptisms have fallen off since 2000, when Calvinism began to reach a critical mass within the Convention. One source argues the chart shows that the number of baptisms steadily increases from 1880 on until 2000, and that in the last year Baptisms only mirrored the numbers posted in 1947 because of the influence of Reformed Theology on younger SBC leaders, even as the number of Southern Baptist churches continues to grow.

Slated for a vote to serve as president of the convention are J.D. Greear, pastor of the Summit Church in Durham, North Carolina, and Steve Gaines, who serves as senior pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church, Memphis, Tennessee, one of the more historic parishes for Southern Baptists. Neither Greear nor Gaines could be reached by press time.

Greear, 43, who is a strong Calvinist, represents the resurgence in Reformed theology, especially among younger evangelicals. Gaines, 58, has a moderately Reformed bent and is seen largely as the continuation of current President Ronnie Floyd, and is held in high esteem by baby boomers. Generation X-ers are largely caught in the middle.

Also nominated for the position is Pastor David Crosby of New Orleans, Louisiana, but he is not considered to be a viable contender.

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