LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP) — Southern Baptists need to “learn the table manners of denominational life” when discussing Calvinism, R. Albert Mohler Jr. said during a “conversation” with Mississippi pastor Eric Hankins at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
Mohler, president of Southern Seminary, and Hankins, pastor of First Baptist Church in Oxford, Miss., co-chaired a 19-member Calvinism Advisory Committee that issued a unanimous report in May to Executive Committee President Frank Page, who assembled the group. While acknowledging tension over Calvinism within the Southern Baptist Convention, the report urged Southern Baptists to “grant one another liberty” on the doctrine while joining arms for the Great Commission.
In recent years, a debate about Calvinism, a term associated with the doctrine of salvation taught by 16th-century theologian John Calvin has generated controversy within the SBC, with each side of the debate convening conferences, publishing books and issuing theological statements. Mohler holds to Calvinistic soteriology. Hankins was the primary author of “A Statement of Traditional Southern Baptist Understanding of God’s Plan of Salvation,” issued in 2012 as an alternative to Calvinism.
Mohler invited Hankins to hold a public conversation before students and faculty in order to model how Southern Baptists who differ on Calvinism can dialogue with each other while remaining committed to working together. Hankins also preached in Southern Seminary’s chapel earlier in the day.
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