In November 6-7, 2008, the “John 3:16 Conference” was held at the First Baptist Church of Woodstock, Ga, to make a biblical and theological assessment of five-point Calvinism, and give an appropriate response to it. The conference was sponsored by Jerry Vines Ministries, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary, Luther Rice Seminary and Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary; and about 1,000 pastors and laypeople attended the conference.
In May 30, 2012, a group of the traditional (non-Calvinist) faction of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) issued an (anti-Calvinist) statement titled, “A Statement of the Traditional Southern Baptist Understanding of God’s Plan of Salvation,” whose purpose was “to more carefully express what is generally believed by Southern Baptists about salvation.” This statement can be seen on the Connect 316 website here, a PDF copy of which can be downloaded from here. Dr. Eric Hankins was nominated to produce the draft, with input from other prominent Baptists and theology professors at several SBC seminaries and colleges. (The general leadership of the SBC appear to be embarrassed by this document, and have called it “semi-pelagian” and other uncomplimentary names, and generally avoid making references to it in their public discussions.)
On July 15, 2013, the Connect 316 movement was launched by five original Board Members, with Rick Patrick of Alabama acting as the Founding Executive Director, joined by Ron Hale of Tennessee, Eric Hankins of Mississippi, Tim Guthrie of Tennessee and Tim Rogers of North Carolina. The purpose of the organization was explained as follows: “Although many theologically driven ministry organizations existed for the support of Reformed pastors and theologians, no such network existed to assist Traditionalists in the task of connecting with one another. Connect 316 was formed as an organization rooted in the theology of the Traditional Statement. In the Summer of 2012, after hundreds of Southern Baptists had declared their affirmation of Traditionalist theology, it seemed beneficial to find ways to bring them together in an ongoing manner rather than simply relying on the one-time signing of a single document.” Link.
The chief architects of the statement were Dr. R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary; and Dr. Eric Hankins, pastor of First Baptist Church, Oxford MS; who were the chief members of the “writing committee” set up to produce the draft, which the other members of the Advisory Committee then debated, discussed, amended and finally approved. The complete text of this statement can be seen here. It is a conciliatory statement designed to bring about a reconciliation and unity of purpose among Southern Baptists of the two different theological persuasions, while at the same time acknowledging their differences.
31 What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?
32 He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?
5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:
I prefer to be closer to God’s preaching than his. God’s glory is in fact promoted by our salvation and redemption. That is how God “glorifies” himself—by saving and redeeming us, and atoning for our sins:
Time will tell how it will all play out in the end. My guess is that Southern Baptists will not have an easy ride.