Thursday, June 2, 2011

Calvinist No More: Part 2

A few weeks ago, I penned a blog post entitled, "Calvinist No More." In this post, I provided an overview of my journey into Calvinism and back to non-Calvinism. My post seems to have generated quite a bit of interest in both Calvinist and non-Calvinist circles. This post has become my number one all-time read post since I began blogging in 2006.

I thought I had said everything I wanted to say about this topic until some people whom I greatly respect, asked me if I would write regarding what it was about my Southern Baptist roots that drew me away from Calvinism. Their question was in reference to the last two sentences in my previous post, in which I stated,

God has led me safely through my journey in Calvinism back to my Southern Baptist roots with a greater appreciation for His sovereignty and glory. It's good to be home.
So what is it that drew me back to Southern Baptist roots and away from Calvinism? Evangelism and missions.

Please understand what I am not saying. I am not saying that Calvinists are not interested in evangelism and missions. The Calvinist baptists that I know are dedicated to reaching the lost for Christ. They are missions-minded and missions-active. But somehow, it is different from my Southern Baptist roots.

Others may place more emphasis on ecclesiology, worship, social ministry, etc., but nobody does evangelism and missions better than Southern Baptists. I missed being around Southern Baptists who were passionate to reach the lost. I missed being around Southern Baptists who were constantly seeking ways to tell someone else about Jesus. I missed being around Southern Baptists whose main goal is evangelism and missions above everything else.

The priority of Southern Baptists is, first and foremost, to reach sinners for Christ. Our overarching goal is to go into the highways and byways, rescue the perishing, and throw out the lifeline of Jesus Christ to the spiritually dead and dying. Southern Baptists are heralds of eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord. Our deepest desire is to sound the clarion call of forgiveness of sin through the cross of Christ. Our fondest fervor is to tell the old, old, story of the death, burial, and resurrection of our Lord Jesus. Our greatest delight is the glory of God on display when a lost soul turns away from sin and turns to Jesus.  Our most joyful celebration is when the new believer enters the baptismal waters in obedience to the command of Christ, as a public testimony of becoming a new creation through Christ and walking in newness of life.

This is what I have missed. This is the home to which I have returned.


Bill said...

Hi Les: Just a question. You said you missed being around Southern Baptists. Why weren't you around SBs? You were always SB, even when you were a Calvinist, correct? I got the impression when reading your blog that your church was always involved in evangelism and missions and active in Southern Baptist life. Did I miss something?

Les Puryear said...


Thanks for your question.

The Calvinists with whom I was involved were Southern Baptists. I missed being around Southern Baptists who were closer to my roots, i.e., non-Calvinist. Sorry if I wasn't clear in my post.

Churches where I have pastored have all been involved in evangelism and missions and active in SBC life. However, we did not have an all-consuming passion to reach the lost above everything else. We did some things but we could have done more. In my new church plant, missions and evangelism is priority number one.



aaron said...

I don't understand...

Do Southern Baptist Calvinists not have an all-consuming passion to reach the lost?

Les Puryear said...


Of course, I cannot speak for any Southern Baptist Calvinists. I can address my personal experience with Calvinism and its proponents with whom I encountered.


Anonymous said...


I did not comment on your first post regarding your leaving Calvinism. We share a similar story.

For many "non-Calvinists" and Arminians, your holding to Unconditional Election still places you within a Calvinist motif, for Unconditional Election is borne out of a Calvinist framework. Essentially, though perhaps in a weak sense, your are a three-point Calvinist.

Granted there are "non-Calvinists" and Arminians who also vie for Total Depravity and Total Inability (which I think is purely biblical) as well as Perseverance (Arminius himself was ambivalent on the issue), but strict "non-Calvinists" (and of course Arminians) reject the Calvinistic theory of Unconditional Election.

While I, for one, am elated that you do not consider yourself a Calvinist, your view of Unconditional Election, sadly, still puts you somewhere in their camp. What are your thoughts on this matter?

God bless.

The Seeking Disciple said...

Welcome to the non-Calvinist side. :)

Les Puryear said...


My view of election is consistent with the Baptist Faith & Message 2000. An Arminian, such as yourself, might place me in the Calvinist camp but I would respectfully disagree.

I would add that I am neither Calvinist or Arminian. I am a biblicist.

Thanks for your comment.


Anonymous said...


I am happy that you disagree: very happy! "Biblicist," however, is a bit naïve. Please do not be angry at that statement, but both Calvinists and Arminians derive their theology from the Bible. Therefore your appeal to "biblicism" appears a slap in the face to both camps. I hope you understand.

God bless.

Bill S said...


i am not a Calvinist but do believe in the security of the believer. Once you are truly saved you can not be lost. The true Calvinist does not have this security. The Calvinist never know if they will be saved. It is a works salvation.

Bob Hadley said...

Hi Les. I think it is time to come up with some new terminology... to me there is no such thing as a 3 or 4-point Calvinists... an individual either accepts the WHOLE TULIP or they are not a Calvinist. I am a Conversionist... which is a term I am working on with a "NEW TULIP". My major concern has to do with the SBC and the direction the Calvinists would like to take it in. Sometimes it seems to me that while Calvinists are evangelistic, instead of being Christocentric they are more Calvinocentric, which sadly enough they see as one and the same.

Grateful to be in His Grip,