Baptists, Calvinists, Doctrine of Election (2)

Reformed Theology and Baptist Theology

There are several conflicts between Baptists and Calvinists in general theology and teachings. First, there is disagreeance about the issue of infant baptism. Reformed Calvinists advocate infant sprinkling (or infant baptism).[1] Baptists oppose any form of infant baptism because they believe that infants cannot understand faith or have faith and that baptism is for those who have accepted faith.[2] Baptists and Calvinists have been at odds against each other in regards to baptism since the 1630s.[3]

Also Baptists and Calvinists are at odds about the mode of baptism.[4] Baptists believe that baptism should be only by immersion to represent Christ’s death, burial and resurrection. Baptists have a different take on the “separation between church and state” than do Calvinists.[5] In the past, many Baptists churches have opposed the idea of “elder rule,” although recently, many Baptists churches have taken up the concept.[6]

Many of these issues have been debated between reformers and Baptists since the 16th Century.[7] Despite these differences in opinion on these “non-essentials,[8]” Baptists and Calvinists have got along fine over the centuries[9], in fact many great Baptists pastors and theologians have been reformed. [10] The theological issues that really cause more debate and conflict between these two groups are issues of eschatology [11]and the doctrine of election. Many Baptists have a lot of trouble agreeing and getting past these two reformed doctrines in particular. Prominent Baptist leaders have labeled Calvinists as legalistic and intolerant, especially in view of their [Calvinistic] position of the doctrine of election.[12]

[1] Paige Patterson, “Happy Southern Baptists and the Tricky Track.”SBC Today. (2005.) Retrieved from accessed on July 20th, 2009. pg. 1

[2] Robert Handy, “The Baptist family : a heritage of faith.” Review & Expositor 84, no. 4. (Fall 1987): 589-598. ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials, EBSCOhost (accessed July 11, 2009), pg. 589.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Paige Patterson. “Happy Southern Baptists and the Tricky Track,” pg. 1.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Robert Handy, “The Baptist family : a heritage of faith.” pg. 589.

[8] Meaning those beliefs which are necessary to hold (or are essential) for salvation. “In Christianity beliefs matter, but not all beliefs matter equally.” Patton, Michael. “Introduction to Theology – Workbook.” (presented as part of class material at The Theology Program, Frisco, TX, November 2006), Reclaiming the Mind Ministries,

[9] Robert Handy, “The Baptist family : a heritage of faith.” pg. 589.

[10] Calvin, Spurgeon, Edwards, Piper, more will be mentioned below.

[11] As mentioned above, this paper will not discuss the eschatological debate between these two groups. Baptists tend to be pre-trib, pre-mils or post-mils, while Calvinists tend to be amils, of course this is not always the case.

[12] Elmer Towns, “WHAT SHOULD SOUTHERN BAPTIST DO WITH CALVINIST?” The Baptist Banner, March 2009, Vol. XXII, No.3, pg. 12.

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