Back in 2004, my wife and I took a vacation–a real vacation. We drove from Chicagoland to Bozeman, Montana. We were staying over a weekend, and so we figured we should find a place to worship on Sunday. We saw a church that was just down the street: Grace Bible Church. Much to my surprise, a fellow Hughes (though no relation) was pastoring the church (and still is). Pastor Bryan Hughes was preaching on 1 Corinthians 13. It was–hands down–the best sermon I have/had heard on this chapter. I remember at some point leaning over to my wife and whispering, “This guy must be reformed.” Within seconds Pastor Hughes stated something to the effect of, “As many of you know I am reformed.” He went on to lament what I had lamented often times, that many of those in the reformed group of believers act cold and unloving. We tend to have an air of superiority.
Whether or not he said these words, I don’t remember, but I know that since that sermon I have often thought of them: “If I have all Calvinism, but have not love, I am nothing.” If you were to ask my wife or my mom, they would tell you that I am passionate about the doctrines of grace. I came out of a non-Calvinist background and much like a former smoker or a former alcoholic, I am passionate about just saying no to Arminianism (the same would go for Dispensationalism–anything but Dispensationalism!). Though I love my doctrine of grace, and though I can’t imagine for the life of me why anyone would disagree, I would never accuse someone of not being a Christian just because they don’t agree with my stance.
After Billy Graham’s death was announced, I saw many of the Reformed faith making some pretty awful comments on social media. Some of their comments made me think they were made by Westboro Baptist. I am also hearing the rumors of an uproar between the Calvinist wing and the “traditionalist” wing of the Southern Baptist Convention (of which I belong). (Incidentally, Calvinism was the original doctrine of the SBC, thus the traditional side of the SBC).
I don’t know much about the current President of the SBC. I loved Adrian Rogers, and all I know about Steve Gaines is that he pastors the same church that Rogers pastored, is not a Calvinist, and is currently sits as the President of the SBC. But a couple of years ago, his presidency was up in the air. There was a close race between he and J.D. Greear. Both wanted to meet with the other candidate and for the same purpose. Both were prepared to pull out of the race for the sake of unity. Greear was the one who finally decided it should be him who pulled out and let Pastor Gaines take the position. I have much respect for both pastors. They showed leadership, love, and unity. May both Calvinists and non-Calvinists imitate these two men this coming June.