Editorial not worthy of editor or Index
As a former Georgia Baptist, I appreciate you and your service as Index editor. But, your Feb. 10 editorial was not your best. The level of research, organization, and writing are simply not up to what Georgia Baptists have come to expect. Let me share with you three concerns.
1. The editorial seems intent on fear-mongering, and is poorly sourced and organized.
Although you admit in the article that “many great preachers and theologians have embraced Calvinism through the years,” you imply readers should be afraid of Calvinists, as evidenced by the ominous, bold print used for every reference to Calvinism and Reformed theology. Even the title sounds ominous.
There are only vague references to supporting evidence of many of the claims, and others are just wrong. For instance, you say Trevin Wax, the managing editor of our new Bible study The Gospel Project “admits he has been influenced by Reformed pastors and authors” and then you list seven names. Trevin has never said that, however, Trevin did interview someone on his blog once who said that list of people had influenced HIM – not Trevin.
Furthermore, what do Calvinism, a marriage book, and the possible SBC name change have to do with each other? It appears you are simply throwing everything controversial into one article to enflame.
2. LifeWay’s new curriculum called The Gospel Project has no agenda other than responding to a need churches have expressed for a long time – more in-depth Bible studies. Period. Your column repeats as fact baseless charges made by a few anti-Calvinist bloggers. You over-emphasized the role of the initial advisory group which only met one time, a year ago, to talk about general principles of an in-depth curriculum. You didn’t even ask to read the sample lessons for yourself or interview the editor or any of the writers.
Please read the sample lessons at GospelProject.com. You will see there is no agenda other than to help users encounter Christ in the text. LifeWay will not bring any doctrinal system to the text other than the Baptist Faith and Message 2000.
3. I believe the most irresponsible part of the column was your charge that LifeWay president Dr. Thom Rainer “seems to have led the SBC literature-producing agency to become more Reformed.” That is not true, Gerald. You did not cite any LifeWay materials that are teaching Reformed theology, and fail to offer any reason Dr. Rainer would have for doing that since it is well known he is not a Calvinist. Dr. Rainer writes on evangelism and outreach, not Calvinism.
Dr. Rainer has written, “I put my integrity on the line and promise there is no Calvinistic agenda implied or explicit in our curriculum.”
My prayer is that, upon reflection, you will retract these untrue accusations and help instill well-deserved confidence in LifeWay’s resources.
Director, LifeWay Communications
P.s. The above letter was provided with permission to republish. I have also responded more fully to Gerald Harris in the following two parts.
1) The Calvinists: a Reply to Gerald Harris Part I
2) The Calvinists: a Reply to Gerald Harris Part II
A pdf. version is also available in one file: The Calvinists: a Reply to Gerald Harris