11 March, 2008

Seminary Fractures over Amyraldism versus Molinism Debate

WAKE FOREST, NC - Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary has become just another symptom of the raging debate over Calvinism within the Southern Baptist Convention. The seminary Board of Trustees announced yesterday that the graduate school will be splitting into two separate seminaries beginning in the fall semester. The logistics of this fracture have yet to be worked out.

Dr. Danny Akin, saddened president of Southeastern, told TBNN, "This is a very sad day here at our school. I thought we could work through our problems. However, the theological differences were just too great. We could not, in good conscience, remain together on the same campus."

Several inside sources have shed light on the developing situation at Southeastern. One student, who wished to remain anonymous, said, "Everyone in the SBC knows that we have one Calvinistic seminary (Southern), and two Arminian + perseverance of the saints seminaries (Southwestern and New Orleans). Here at Southeastern, we tried to find a middle ground on this issue. Most of the faculty and staff wanted to affirm both God's sovereignty and man's free will. I thought we had done that. Unfortunately, we still fell into two main camps that could not be reconciled."

Dr. Stephen Walsh, professor of systematic theology at Southeastern, told TBNN, "The more and more we discussed this issue, the more we realized that about 45% of the faculty and students held to Amyraldism (click here to read about it). Another 45% or so believe that Molinism (click here) is most biblical. Fortunately for this campus, we only have about 5% Calvinists and 5% Arminians, so they have to lie low when these things are being discussed."

TBNN spent some time on the Southeastern campus to get a feel for how the students feel about all this. After interviewing about thirty students, we realized that most of them simply do not understand the difference between Amyraldism and Molinism. Jeremy Sanders, second year Southeastern student, said, "I honestly don't know what is going on. I mean, I know God is in control and that I have free will. Those are both obviously somewhere in the bible. As for Amyism and Molism, I don't really know what they mean or what the difference is."

The general consensus on campus is that since Dr. Akin is the president and also holds to Aryraldism, that faction of the seminary will remain on the current campus in Wake Forest. The Molinist group will have to find another location and form a new seminary. The problem for the Molinist group is reportedly that they cannot find any churches who actually hold to their position; therefore, they do not know where to go. They briefly considered joining with First Baptist - Woodstock, but after they found out about the upcoming John 3:16 Conference, they decided that that was not such a good idea.

Through quiet tears, President Akin admitted, "We tried to work out our differences, but in the end you have to choose a hill on which to die. We just couldn't fold to the Molinists. I love some of those men, but we had to stand up for what the bible teaches. We just couldn't continue to fellowship with those that are leaving. In the end, a split was unavoidable."


Keljeck said...

That's perfect. Great way to start the day, thank you.

Richard Boyce said...

Um....still waiting on the satire here, guys.


Seriously, though...I cringe at the thought of basing a theological assessment of the doctrines of grace on John 3:16. About the only connection there to the five points would be the "eternal life" aspect. I've yet to find anything in there about election, depravity, atonement, and an effectual calling.

Should prove to be interesting.

Scott Gordon said...


Take this however you will...should you just go ahead and remove john 3:16?...or should you deal with it in a theologically consistent way?

Rather than cringe why not deal with it. Understand this comes from a consistent 5-pointer...who absolutely abhors non-thinking Calvinists.

Richard Boyce said...

Scott, my point is this:

John 3:16 is one of the most mis-interpreted texts in all of Scripture. However, here is a brief rundown of what the text teaches:

1. God loved the world.
2. God gave His Son.
3. Whosoever believes on Him will not perish, but have eternal life.

I find nowhere in the text any material that would provide support for or against Calvinism, which is most widely described by the TULIP acrostic...here's a brief run-down.

1. Man is radically depraved due to original sin and will never of their own free will come to God.

2. As such, God is the initiator of said choice.

3. After electing individuals to salvation by no merit of their own, He places their sins upon His Son.

4. When the appointed time arrives, regeneration occurs with the drawing of the Spirit, the end result of which is the man's willing conversion.

5. Whom God saves, He saves forever.

You know all this stuff. I don't know if you misunderstand my initial post, but I don't "cringe" at John 3:16, nor do I refuse to deal with it in a theologically consistent manner. I love the passage, and it has many great truths.

What I cringe at is using the passage as a base for a platform for or against Calvinism. I hear too many people "disproving" Calvinism by shouting out John 3:16 when there's nothing in the text for or against anything other than God's love being the basis for His sacrificing of His Son so that whoever believes upon Him will have everlasting life.

And if you could explain the 'non-thinking' portion of your reply, I'd appreciate it.


Scott Gordon said...


NON-Thinking=without thought; knee-jerk; reactionary.

I concur that the John 3:16 Conference will indeed be a cornucopia of confused thinking with untold means of eisegeting the particular text.

I just get tired of Arminians who want to go on Calvinist witch-hunts AND Calvinists who want to call every Arminian a heretic. I have admired the ministries of many of the men who will be at that conference...even though I disagree with their soteriologies. I'm not a "can't we all just get along" kind of person...I appreciate lampooning Dr. Caner...and will do the same for Dr. Piper. I also will support and state the benefit of ministries like those of Dr. Stanley as well as Dr. Mohler.

Basically I just reacted to what I perceived from your comment as the usual Reformed gripes which I find tiresome. Since that was not your intent, I apologize.

Sola Gratia!

Richard Boyce said...

It's all good, friend.

I also appreciate the kingdom work done by non-Reformed brethren these past 2000 years. As a student at a seminary full of 2-4 point Calvinists, I have learned how to not make the doctrines of grace a 'make or break' matter when fellowshipping with others.

Heck, I can even appreciate an honest attempt to refute Calvinism. My frustrations were towards proof-texting non-Calvinists, not the specific men involved in the conference. See...unlike most of the other side of the debate, I don't consider disagreers to be heretics.

Just misguided.


I want to apologize for biting your head off, as well. I spend too much time defending Scripture...it makes me edgy when confronted with perceived opposition. That's something else I'm working on. Take care.

Darrin said...

"I appreciate lampooning Dr. Caner...and will do the same for Dr. Piper" - not sure if/where you find Piper at fault.
Also, I'd rather call a doctrine problematic than an individual a heretic (though the latter may sometimes be appropriate also), but I do feel that Arminianism in its various forms does tread closely enough to contradicting sola gratia as to present a substantial danger. But in my circles, only the Calvinists seem to get called heretical. Not that you asked.

Jerry Boyce said...

Darrin- are you a 7 point Calvinist? If not, I would think that would be good grounds for you to "lampoon" Piper. Just a thought.

Hi guys.

Billy Birch said...


Perhaps you have been exposed to pop Arminianism rather than classical Arminainism, the kind that James Arminius espoused.

I certainly admit that much done in the name of Arminianism does him no justice whatsoever, much as hyperr-Calvinism or 3-point Calvinism (if there should even be such a thing!) does for John Calvin.

Both sides needs to represent the opposite side well; an aspect seriously missing in this debate.

In Christ,


Darrin said...

Jerry, I guess I kind of understand Piper's additional 2 points, but I can't say I fully embrace them. For some reason I misinterpreted "lampooning" as something more critical, rather than light-hearted satire. Temporary lapse of English, so my apologies to Scott.
Billy, you're right. I've been exposed to much of what exists in Protestantism today, which goes well past the 5 articles of the Remonstrants, closer to Pelagius, I would dare say. In fact, there appears to be quite a bit more similarity between those articles and TULIP (or specifically, the summation of the decisions of the Synod of Dort) than what I think most people today would expect.