In 1979, Southern Baptist Convention conservatives elected the first in a still-unbroken string of presidents who resolved to appoint only biblical inerrantists to the governing boards of SBC agencies.
But even as conservatives were winning the "battle for the Bible," another theologically oriented movement began emerging, largely from within conservative ranks: a resurgence of Calvinistic doctrine, especially among a new generation of the SBC's institutional leadership.
Currently, two of the denomination's six seminary presidents are proponents of Reformed theology: R. Albert Mohler, Jr., of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, and Mark T. Coppenger of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City, Missouri.
By some accounts, the movement began in 1982 with the formation of the Southern Baptist Founders Conference (SBFC). The SBFC—so named because many early SBC leaders were Calvinistic in doctrine—has become a loose-knit network of pastors and other church leaders who hold annual meetings to hear speakers promote "the doctrines of grace."
EARLY TRADITION: During the first 50 years following the SBC's founding in 1845, the denomination elected presidents who mostly adhered to the "five points of Calvinism":
—Total depravity: People are spiritually dead and therefore unable to respond to God's offer of salvation unless he first regenerates them.
—Unconditional election: God chose some to be saved because he loved them, not because of any merit on their part.
—Limited atonement: Christ died only for the sins of the elect, not for everyone's sins.
—Irresistible grace: All whom God regenerates will inevitably choose to repent and exercise faith.