Austin, Texas - Pastor Micah Law is excited about the direction that his church is going these days.
"We've become more open and accepting of others" said Law, pastor of Riverside Baptist Church in Austin during a recent interview with TBNN. "We know that our decision to become more open and accepting of Calvinists and Reformed people has caused a lot of trouble within our own denomination, but we feel it is the right thing to do."
Law's church is part of a growing number of churches within the Southern Baptist Convention that are declaring themselves to be Calvinist/Reformed/Sovereign Grace (CRSG)-friendly. While many SBC churches are currently struggling against Calvinistic tendencies within the denomination, some, like Riverside Baptist, are embracing the movement.
"While I myself am personally not a Calvinist, I don't think there's anything wrong with being one" claimed Law. "These people love the Lord and want to serve him too, and I don't think we should hinder them. There's no reason we should shun them or not let them become full members of our Southern Baptist churches."
But not everyone is so welcoming of the idea of a church that openly accepts Calvinists.
"I think it's absolutely terrible" said Rev. Danny Douglas, pastor of Longview Baptist Church in Onida, Arkansas. "It's one thing to say you welcome a Calvinist into your church. Of course we'd welcome one if he came, but we are going to be honest with him about his sin. For him to call himself a Christian and yet remain a Calvinist is just wrong. And these churches out there in our own denomination that are welcoming Calvinists, four and five-pointers and embracing them as brothers and sisters are in serious error."
Still others are even more infuriated by the whole tendency within the denomination.
"My son went off to college and became one of those blasted Calvinists!" shouted an angry Mark Tenderfoot, from Memphis, Tennessee. "I thought I had raised him right. We sent him off to school and a year later he comes to us and says 'Mom and dad, I'm a Calvinist.' It just broke our hearts. We still love him, but he's just not the same to us. Every time we see him we just can't get past it."
But despite objections CRSG-friendly churches continue to grow within the SBC.
"We have seen the good character of Calvinists within the SBC towards those of us who are not" stated Law. "We particularly respect Pastor Dever up at Capitol Hill Baptist, and Dr. Mohler. Both fine men of God. While I don't agree with all of their positions, they have been very gracious to those of us in the SBC with whom they differ and have done a lot for the cause of the conservative revival within our denomination."
When asked to what degree Riverside Baptist Church would allow a Calvinist to serve, Law commented,
"They are free to serve anywhere in our church. They can teach Sunday School, lead children's classes or even pursue pastoral ministry. We want Calvinists to know that they are welcome and accepted here, so that they may freely serve."
When asked if Law would marry a Calvinist couple in his church Law responded,
"Of course, if a Calvinist couple wants to marry, who am I to say that it's wrong."