Study: Most Southern Baptists Don't Embrace Calvinism

LifeWay Research released the results of its first project this week, showing that the majority of Southern Baptist pastors do not consider themselves five-point Calvinists.

The first of four projects for this year, the study found that only 10 percent of Southern Baptist pastors embrace five-point Calvinism even as conversations on Calvinism has created renewed interest within the denomination on the theological system. Five-Point Calvinism is often used to identify Calvinist theology through the acrostic TULIP: Total depravity, Unconditional election, Limited atonement, Irresistible grace, and Perseverance of the Saints.

According to the study, 85 percent said they do not consider themselves five-point Calvinists and four percent said they "don't know." A slight majority of respondents address Calvinism from the pulpit once a year or less; 45 percent address it several times a year or more; 6 percent speak on it once a month; and 7 percent discuss it more than once a month.

The study found no correlation between the 10 percent who affirm Calvinism and their age as such parallels have been previously made.

"Some have expressed views this renewed interest in Reformed theology is tied to younger Southern Baptist students and pastors," said Brad Waggoner, director of LifeWay Research, according to LifeWay. "It is interesting that the research revealed that there is no significant statistical difference in those who are over 40 years of age responding in the affirmative and those under 40. Therefore, age is not a determining factor in those who embrace Reformed theology."

With increased dialogue and speculation on Calvinistic theology within the Southern Baptist Convention, LifeWay Research chose Calvinism as the first topic of study for the newly formed research organization.

The study on Calvinism surveyed 413 Southern Baptist pastors by phone in July and August.

LifeWay Research was initiated at the inauguration of Thom S. Rainer as LifeWay's ninth president. Research had been conducted before but mainly for its own resources and is now being broadened to include churches and ministries within.

Three more projects are scheduled for this year with results expected each month. Study topics include the formerly churched, churches that are effective in evangelism over a 10-year period and from which sources Southern Baptist churches draw ministry help.

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