Hundreds of Southern Baptists have signed a statement that rejects Calvinist views on the doctrine of salvation and outlines the "traditional Southern Baptist Understanding of God's Plan of Salvation," the Christian Post website reports today (June 5, 2012).
The statement -- which denies the Calvinist theory that God predestined certain people for salvation and others for condemnation, among other beliefs -- has stirred a wide and divisive debate within the Southern Baptist Convention.
"Why are we headed down the broken road of schism over Calvinism today?" asked Josh Buice, pastor of Pray's Mill Baptist Church in Douglasville, Georgia. He emphasized that previous Southern Baptists "didn't fight over Calvinism, throw mud, and pull out the heresy sword to use on one another."
John Calvin -- who was born in France as a Catholic in 1509 -- became a Protestant at about the age of 25 and moved to Switzerland, where he became an influential theologian and pastor, and developed the system of Christian theology now called Calvinism. Calvin -- honored recently by many theologians around the world on the occasion of his 500th birthday -- is best known for promoting his belief in predestination; that is, the doctrine that God has foreordained all things, including the salvation of individual souls.