Frank Page, President of the SBC Executive Committee, has named his committee to study the issue of Calvinism in the SBC. The goal, I imagine, is to make some kind of definitive statement so that everyone can have a reference point and the arguing, posturing, and political wrangling for power can cease. If the argument flares up again, people can point to the work of the committee and that should be authoritative. The committee has something like 16 members, evenly divided between Calvinists and Non-Calvinists. Baptist Press has an article on it here: http://m.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?id=38507
I don't think it will work - not if we do things the same way we have, anyway.
Have you ever noticed that almost all the same people are on the committees and task forces in SBC life? In just the past few years, we have had a GCR task force, a Nickname task force, and now a Calvinism task force. Al Mohler and Danny Akin have been on all of these committees. Paige Patterson is on every committee, even if he isn't in the room. He exerts that much influence. Has there ever been a committee/task force in SBC life that Al Mohler was not on in the past 15 years?
The supporting cast changes, to be sure. But, at the end of the day, the two poles of power in SBC life are Patterson and Mohler, with a little Akin/Rainer and some Caner brothers thrown in on the side. Even if there is a document that comes out of this that all agree to, when have our entity heads followed their agreements with each other? There is a standing agreement for entity heads to not meddle in each other's business, but that is ignored constantly.
Here is the real problem: I really think that this is about power - who has it, who wants it, and how you get it. "Traditionalists" want rules put in place that limits the number of Calvinists in SBC entities to the percentage of Calvinists in our churches under the guise of "proportionality." That view will not make it far. Calvinists want everyone to see that the founders of the SBC were Calvinists and that they have a place in the convention of prominence. And, the disagreement goes on.
I really do hope that Dr. Page's attempt to bring peace will work. But, the problem is that no one wants to take the lesser seat. Everyone keeps fighting for the best seat at the table. Under the guise of being "right," each side keeps grasping for power or protection or elevation. James 4:1-10 tells us that the reason that we quarrel and argue is because of the desires that are within US. It is not because of the other person, but because of us. We want something, but do not get it. So, we grasp for it. We don't ask God, and when we do, we are just thinking about ourselves. But, God wants us - all of us - and He wants us to repent and return to Him.
This is a "preacher" fight. It is not like the Battle for the Bible that made up the Conservative Resurgence years ago. This is about who gets to lead, teach in the seminaries, and speak at pastor's conferences. It is about power. It is not about theology or control of churches because both views are allowed for and protected by the Baptist Faith & Message 2000.
Unless the leaders that are on this Advisory Team call both sides to repent from trying to assert themselves - or even fight to protect themselves at the expense of others - there will be no real progress or peace made. We will continue to tear one another apart. Mohler and Patterson should lead the way in this repentance, reconciliation, and renewal. If that happens (and that is what I am praying for), then we might see great progress. Perhaps that is what Dr. Page is praying for as well. If they both negotiate for their "side" then even a consensus document will not solve anything.
So, yeah, it depends on what happens between the two leaders - and I am not talking about smiles and handshakes and nice talk. I mean something real. We haven't had very much "real" in some time.