GREENSBORO, N.C. (BP)--Saying they hope to serve as a model for the rest of the Southern Baptist Convention, seminary presidents R. Albert Mohler Jr. and Paige Patterson June 12 discussed their differences over the doctrine of election, stressing that believers can disagree on the topic while remaining friends and unified in the goal of evangelism and missions.
"I do hope … we will provide at least an example on that point, if on no other," Patterson said.
Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., and Patterson, president of Southwestern Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, discussed Calvinism during two one-hour-long breakout sessions ofthe SBC Pastors' Conference at a convention hotel ballroom. Mohler affirms Calvinism, while Patterson does not. The sessions, titled, “Reaching Today’s World Through Differing Views of Election,” drew standing room only crowds.
"We were expecting eight or 10 of you," Patterson quipped.
Each man spoke for 20 minutes before fielding questions submitted prior to the session. Saying that Patterson is a "friend in the Gospel," Mohler pointed to former great men of faith -- such as John Wesley and George Whitefield, Charles Spurgeon and D.L. Moody -- who had disagreements over election but nonetheless considered one another Christian brothers and "cooperated together in evangelism.""This is a conversation among close friends," Mohler said.