a paper originally presented at Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary in Memphis, Tennessee, April 2005 at the "Maintaining Baptist Distinctives" Conference. Lemke addresses what he considers to be 6 key issues as he thinks about the future of the SBC.For the remainder of the article, Welch (with Lemke's help) basically attributes the decline of baptisms across the SBC spectrum to those pastors and churches who adhere to the Doctrines of Grace. This is a horribly misinformed and overly simplistic answer. The data given by Dr. Lemke is flawed. Too many questions are left unanswered. My biggest beef is Dr. Lemke's allusions that link biblical Calvinism with heretical hyper-calvinism. They are NOT the same thing. I despise hyper-calvinism and will battle it when I see it. To paint the Founders Ministry (and me) with that broad a brush is horrible scholarship. I could just as easily generalize that all Arminians are really Open Theists. That is a seemingly logical conclusion but it would not be accurate.
I have posted below the links necessary to understand all this. First read Welch's article and then to get the full picture, cruise through Lemke's address. After that, I hope you'll read the responses from the Founders Ministry of the SBC (a group that adheres to the reformed doctrine of salvation and calls for a return to the SBC's Calvinistic roots - that's right, the SBC was thoroughly Calvinistic in its first several decades).
Bobby Welch's initial newsletter article
Dr. Steve Lemke's article that prompted Welch's article
Response from Founders Ministry - Part 1
Response from Founders Ministry - Part 2
Response from Founders Ministry - Part 3
Response from Founders Ministry - Part 4
Lemke's response to Founders and Founders rejoinder
There is no doubt that all of us (myself chiefly) should be concerned about our evangelism (or lack thereof). However, I am just as concerned about all the baptisms that ARE taking place in our Southern Baptist churches. So many churces are willing to baptize for the slightest reason (and even re-baptize again and again). Ascol says, "Admit the truth, that we have far fewer disciples than we have baptisms, which means that we are baptizing a whole bunch of people who are not disciples."
Lemke uses statistics to show that non-Calvinistic churches (really a nice way to avoid saying "semi-Pelagian) have a church member to baptism ratio of 1:42 while Calvinistic churches have a ratio of 1:62. That might sound like a lot but it is not. I would like to see the results of THIS study: what is the ratio of baptized people still active in each of these churches (or any church, for that matter) one to two years later. Isn't that a statistic that should matter the most?