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Commotion arose in February over reports that Calvinists teaching at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (SWBTS) in Fort Worth, Texas, might be in danger of losing their jobs.

Pastor Wade Burleson of Enid, Oklahoma, raised the alarm in a February blog post alleging that SWBTS president Paige Patterson had met with professors and implied that the seminary, which is facing economic problems, might first target Calvinist professors if it had to resort to layoffs.

Seminary officials declined to comment, saying the Calvinism flap was a "non-story" based on false information. Greg Welty, an SWBTS professor for six years and a five-point Calvinist, said Calvinist professors had received no such warning, and urged Burleson to "repent of your lies and slanders."

Burleson did not repent. He told Christianity Today that he received the information from professors who had been in the meetings. Burleson believes his report caused the seminary to temporarily retreat from the alleged plan.

Randall Easter, a student and five-point Calvinist at SWBTS and pastor of First Baptist Church of Briar, near Fort Worth, told CT that tensions remained on campus over the possible firings. He said that some professors who hold to Calvinism told him they had recently been called into meetings with Patterson.

"They started with four-point and five-point Calvinists," Easter said. "They said they were asked about their soteriology, their view of salvation. They were left with the impression that they may or may not be laid off because of their soteriology."

Although Patterson has publicly expressed concerns about Calvinist tenets that he thinks might hurt evangelism, he has said the issue should not divide Southern Baptists. He and close friend Albert Mohler, ...

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In the Magazine

April 2009

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