“And even though they do not want The Project to be labeled as the Calvinist’s SS/Lifeway curriculum – I find all the writers/consultants/etc. to be nothing more than the 21, who I believe to be all godly and well meaning, but also blatantly Calvinistic. If we are not to believe The Project is Calvinism in SS clothing, may I make a suggestion – how about asking someone to make a contribution to it who is not sold on all 5 points of Tulip. You can’t just tell us its not Calvin’s SS quarterlies – you must also do something directional to prove it so. How about a Rose? How about a writer or consultant who is 3 point or 4 point something, but not all the way 5? How about inviting Baptist #22 to contribute.”
This morning, Trevin Wax, the managing editor of The Gospel Project visited the Georgia Baptist Convention center and took time to not only explain the core ideas behind The Project but to also answer questions from the audience. The first question addressed the elephant in the room. Though I did not catch his name or the church he represented, my brother in the red shirt expressed our concerns to Trevin perfectly. How can we as pastors and leaders, who are very appreciative of the Jesus centered ‘grand narrative’ approach of the curriculum, communicate to our congregations that The Project is not merely Calvin’s SS Quarterly if it seems that everyone ‘advertised’ on the website as contributors seems to represent strong Calvinistic viewpoints (my words, not his)?
Trevin did not shy away from the fact that the names listed as “The Advisory Council” on The Gospel Project website do represent a strongly Calvinistic pool of people. He said they were chosen because of their work in preaching, writing, and teaching from a gospel as ‘grand narrative’ of Scripture perspective. Trevin also shared that though he was not considered to be a part of the ‘advisory council’, that George Guthrie, author of Read the Bible for Life had a major influence on The Project, especially the two quarters on God’s Story in the Old and New Testaments. While these people have made a great contribution to The Gospel Project, Trevin stated that they were not involved in the “day to day” workings of producing the curriculum itself. I wish that I could quote Trevin precisely here, but basically he shared that the actual writers on The Project represented Baptists from various viewpoints of salvation theology (or soteriology). He said that from a ‘salvation theology (not Trevin’s words here)’ viewpoint, the pool of writers on The Project is pretty representative of the pool of writers on all other Lifeway curriculum offerings. He said when it comes to the precise points of our theology of salvation, The Gospel Project will reflect the spirit of the Baptist Faith and Message which allows for pastors, teachers, and churches to make their own decisions on where to land in these matters. IF THIS IS INDEED THE CASE, I CANNOT OVEREMPHASIZE HOW MUCH THIS NEEDS TO BE STATED, AND HOW OFTEN IT SHOULD BE STATED TO OUR PASTORS AND CHURCHES. It is probably something that should be more apparent on The Gospel Project website. This is what we desperately need to hear and our laypeople who are fearful and trying to investigate the matter need to hear.
I am deeply appreciative of our leaders at GBC, Lifeway, and for Trevin for putting the meeting together today. It was helpful to me as a pastor and made me feel much more confident about The Gospel Project going forward. I made an assumption about The Project that was mistaken. I think a lot of other pastors and laypeople are in the same place I was before today’s meeting.
I really do want this to work. The Gospel Project represents a perspective of teaching, Christ as the grand narrative of Scripture, that I reflect in the pulpit and have wanted to also see reflected in our curriculum for quite some time. I do not want to see The Project derailed out of fear, ignorance, and mis-information. As a pastor, I also do not want to be misunderstood as I try to implement something into the local church that I believe will result in better health for the congregation. Clear communication and a spirit of openness is vital. Today’s meeting went a long way with me. I hope it does the same with others. I hope everyone who attended the meeting today will also share their impressions.