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February 12, 2012 / WithThatIAm...

Documented: Lumpkins on What LifeWay Can and Cannot Produce

In a recent post titled Lifeway Resources pushes Calvinism in latest Bible study curriculum, Peter Lumpkins “outs” all 11 of the contributors to LifeWay’s forthcoming Sunday School curriculum as Calvinists. Lumpkins opines:

Admittedly, the few Calvinist churches in the SBC may be favorably encouraged. However, the indisputably clear majority of Southern Baptist churches may be thoroughly disappointed to know their adults, youth, and children can now be subtly indoctrinated into the doctrines of grace as easily as ordering the Calvinistic doctrines from their Lifeway resources order form. Think also of a staff member who would have few scruples in ordering the material for particular groups but not informing the church of the theological underpinnings of Calvinism the materials possess. A scenario like this could be devastating for individual churches.

Peter asserts that LifeWay’s agenda is indoctrination by stealth and then invents a bogeyman. The bogeyman being a church staff member that orders the “curriculum of indoctrination” for his church without informing the congregation of what the literature’s “underpinnings” are. Surely this scenario could very well happen. However, to attribute inherent danger and devastation to the curriculum because of a hypothetical scenario reveals Peter’s own bias and agenda.

What is most interesting to us here at WTIA is a question asked of Peter in the comments section of the post. Simon Lam asks:

Serious question. Shouldn’t Lifeway be free to produce curriculum for all theological perspectives within the realm of the BF&M?

This is a valid and important question to the discussion of all of Lifeway’s literature. Lifeway has been producing non-Calvinist curriculums for years. Have the Calvinists in the SBC been up in arms and calling for the boycotting of LifeWay? No. We have simply used other materials that align with our interpretation of the Bible and the BF&M 2000. Lumpkins response to the question sheds much light on his total unwillingness to allow any Calvinistic influence within the SBC.


No. LifeWay should not be free to produce curriculum for all theological perspectives within the realm of the BF&M. This does nothing but encourage fragmentation. And, certainly while LifeWay should not ostracize any particular nuance of our theological stream, neither should it cater to one which is precisely what it did with The Gospel Project. There is simply no excuse for their insensitive, misguided decision to make The Gospel Project exclusively a “Reformed” curriculum. Indeed LifeWay’s action drives the wedge of divide deeper. In an environment of division, LifeWay creates more division by stacking the deck with a list of contributors they should have known would not set well with a large portion of Southern Baptists.

There you have it. According to Lumpkins, and I presume many other anti-Calvinists within the SBC, LifeWay “should not be free to produce curriculum for all theological perspectives within the realm of the BF&M.” If rhetoric like this becomes commonplace, the SBC will not survive as a cooperation of Baptists under the BF&M 2000.

It is time for non-Calvinist professors and SBC leaders like Malcolm Yarnell, Steve Lemke, Bart Barber, et al, to call Lumpkins to account for his rhetoric and stop promoting his “majoritarianism” by linking to his blog.

LifeWay should be producing material that fits perspectives within the large theological tent that is the Southern Baptist Convention. To cry foul and promote conspiracy theories when a Southern Baptist perspective is represented by a LifeWay curriculum, if that is the “agenda” of The Gospel Project, merely because you disagree with the perspective, is not an action of cooperation but division. If we are to remain a convention of cooperating Baptists, we must remain cooperating under the tent of the BF&M 2000 and not merely the perspective of the theological majority.

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