A Formal Response to “A Statement of the Traditional Southern Baptist Understanding of God’s Plan of Salvation”

May God bless the future of the SBC. As some have well said, God does not need the SBC; the SBC needs God. I maintain the world needs a healthy SBC. The health of the SBC is indeed waning and there are those who believe the soteriological position being presented by this new breed of Calvinists is the answer to the health and welfare of the future of the SBC. I respectfully disagree.

Make no mistake about it, the soteriological position of Southern Baptists is vitally important. I do not believe anyone would disagree with this statement. There is serious disagreement on the essential elements of salvation that needs to be addressed. We, non-calvinists and calvinists alike may BOTH be wrong but one thing is absolutely clear; we cannot both be right. I believe it is time for Southern Baptists to come to a clear and concise position on what we believe to be essential in the salvific process. Like it or not, there are some things that we cannot agree to disagree on and how someone passes from death unto life and God’s role in that process is something that needs to be defined and I believe needs to be done TODAY. If we as Southern Baptists do not take a stand to make this definition clear TODAY, it will be made clear for us in the future by those who now believe the Doctrines of Grace hold the answer for the future of the SBC.

While I agree with every statement contained in this carefully crafted document, I believe a couple are paramount and need to be re-emphasized:

We deny that any person is regenerated prior to or apart from hearing and responding to the Gospel. I suggest the following addition: We deny that any person is regenerated prior to or apart from repentance and saving faith. Calvinists contend God and God alone makes the choice to regenerate those He wills to be saved and His choice is the sole determining factor in who are and who are not saved. This is an essential element of Calvinistic theology and this needs to be articulated as clearly as possible so that everyone can understand exactly what is being said on this issue.

We deny that election means that, from eternity, God predestined certain people for salvation and others for condemnation. The position that people condemn themselves to hell, not God is a moot point if ALL are condemned to hell BUT God graciously chooses to save some. It is amazing to me that Calvinists can intentionally and deliberately say that God is NOT responsible for those who go to hell. There is no escaping this fact in the Calvinist theological system.

We deny that the decision of faith is an act of God rather than a response of the person. We deny that there is an “effectual call” for certain people that is different from a “general call” to any person who hears and understands the Gospel. To be clear, the general call does not save anyone; it is the “effectual call” that some maintain saves and it does so “irresistibly.” Now, this is not to be misunderstood as “kicking and screaming against someone’s will” as I have seen this defended, for no one would resist or reject the offer of God’s salvation. However, this is a poor response to what “effectual call” actually means for it fails to take into consideration the counter position of the lost person who “cannot” or “will not” accept the general call because he is a “slave to his sinful nature that will not allow him to not sin.” God MUST give this person a new nature before he can even respond positively to the gospel message.

A lot will be said in response to this statement and in fact already has been, concerning what is or is not the “majority Southern Baptist position” as if there is no such thing. Let me emphasize one other statement. This majority Southern Baptist position is not a statement denying the history and heritage of calvinist leaders who have preceded us. This majority Southern Baptist position is that position that exists behind the pulpit and in the pew today in the SBC. We as Southern Baptists now have an opportunity to stand up and speak out on this vitally important issue of what it means to “be born again.” The future of the SBC is in our hands. It is time to decide what the Bible says is the determining factor in the salvific process where God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility are concerned with respect to how a lost person comes to Christ and is indeed “born again.”

Your comments are welcome. I would respectfully ask that everyone limit their comments to the issue at hand with respect to the issues presented in this document and not responses to individuals. Please respond affirmatively or negatively, with your name, title, church and city and state. Please state whether your church is Southern Baptist or not. Please understand that most comments that do not fit this request, will in all likelihood be moderated and deleted.

Once again, may God bless the SBC; may God bless the churches of the SBC; may God bless America and the world for His glory and our benefit. May God bless each of us so that we can be a blessing to those around us as well as to those around the world.

><>”

Bob Hadley, Pastor, Westside Baptist Church, (SBC) Daytona Beach, FL.

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30 Responses to A Formal Response to “A Statement of the Traditional Southern Baptist Understanding of God’s Plan of Salvation”

  1. Rick Patrick says:

    Bob,

    Affirmative. Thanks to all who drafted this statement. It is refreshing to be able to describe what I believe without any reference to a system I do not believe. As for a positive word to describe our position without having to resort to the prefix “non,” may I recommend borrowing a word from the title of this document and simply referring to our position as “Traditionalist.”

    Rick Patrick, Senior Pastor
    Pleasant Ridge Baptist Church
    Hueytown, Alabama

  2. I appreciate your thoughts on this, though I really wish a statement on consensus between Arminians and Calvinists were made instead. SBC Leadership that draws lines in the sand between Bible-believing conservatives isn’t want we need. Surely, the moderates and liberals that left the SBC must be enjoying this “in-house debate.”

    Now, the BFM2K states (and I cut & pasted this exactly from sbc.net), “Regeneration, or the new birth, is a work of God’s grace whereby believers become new creatures in Christ Jesus. It is a change of heart wrought by the Holy Spirit through conviction of sin, to which the sinner responds in repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Repentance and faith are inseparable experiences of grace.” Regeneration as defined by the BFM2K is a response to the Gospel. I agree with your denial that any individual can be regenerated apart from hearing & responding to the Gospel in faith and repentance. Yet you deny that repentance is prior to faith and repentance. How does your denial not go against the BFM2K?

    • By the way, I ask the question out of charity, as I’m wanting to understand your position better and not pick a theological fight. 🙂

    • sbcissue says:

      Adam,

      Thanks for your reply and our interaction has not been of a “theological fight” so I did not see your response as such and even though it is not my intention to make this particular post a dialogue, I will respond to your question.

      First of all, it is not the consensus that is separating us; it is the differences and those differences are significant enough on both sides that they must be settled. I say on both sides because I read statements to the effect that the SBC needs to get back to the basics of “The Gospel” and the need to redefine and to reestablish the gospel in our churches today apparently because the “New Calvinist” group believes we have had it wrong for the last 50+ years. The importance of regeneration is important to the Calvinist as it is to the non-calvinist but it is crystal clear that both place very differing significance on the process. That I believe needs to be clarified and a position one way or the other established. It is certainly established in the mind of the Calvinist; the issue of regeneration is not really a term that well known outside the Reformed circle; I have always referred to being “born again” or “saved” or “converted”; if you were to poll Southern Baptists and ask them if they believed regeneration preceded repentance or saving faith, I believe the overwhelming majority of people would probably as for an explanation and then a resounding “no” would end that discussion.

      As for the statement you referenced, “Regeneration, or the new birth, is a work of God’s grace whereby believers become new creatures in Christ Jesus. It is a change of heart wrought by the Holy Spirit through conviction of sin, to which the sinner responds in repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Repentance and faith are inseparable experiences of grace.” Because most Southern Baptists have no idea what regeneration is, most will read this statement in the following manner: New birth is a work of God’s grace (we are saved by grace) where sinners respond in repentance to God and by faith trust Christ as their Savior. Most will skip right over the last sentence “that repentance and faith are inseparable experiences of grace” and those who do comment will say that conversion is the result of both repentance and saving faith.

      The average Southern Baptist has no clue that the language and wording of this statement was carefully crafted to allow for BOTH camps to co-exist and apart from reading this statement from a definite calvinist bias, the average Southern Baptist will not interpret it in that light. I am sorry, I do not believe God regenerates an individual and they will repent and exercise saving faith, BF&M2000 or NOT. I personally would like to see that changed. I do not favor language that can be taken in one of two ways especially when what is said is being used in an authoritarian manner to justify theological positions when the clear purpose of its crafting was to establish a means of co-existing and cooperation and not for theological leverage.

      Thanks for the question.

      May God bless us all!

      ><>”

      • One more question, if you don’t mind!

        When you state, “God MUST give this person a new nature before he can even respond positively to the gospel message,” are you referring to a calvinist position or your own? I know you deny total depravity, if I remember correctly, so I was wondering why it would be necessary for God to give us new natures if we aren’t totally depraved.

        Again, I’m just trying to put the pieces together in my own head! Thanks!

  3. sbcissue says:

    Adam,

    The calvinist position.

    ><>”

    • That makes sense, now, from what you wrote.

      Who are the New Calvinist groups that you identify making trouble? Just wondering, as the only SBC blogs I look at are yours, SBC Today, and some Kentucky Baptist Convention blogs that don’t blog on soteriology anyway. I’m out of the loop on this discussion, though I know the Kentucky Baptist Convention is going to have a conference to address the issue with guest speakers from both sides (I don’t plan to go, by the way). I didn’t know this discussion in the SBC was this intense.

  4. Max says:

    “There is serious disagreement on the essential elements of salvation that needs to be addressed … Like it or not, there are some things that we cannot agree to disagree on and how someone passes from death unto life and God’s role in that process is something that needs to be defined and I believe needs to be done TODAY.”

    If not today, when?! If this does not make it to the table in NOLA, majority Southern Baptists might just as well sit on a dock in the bay and watch the SBC roll away.

  5. Fort Knox says:

    From your post I would assume you may have us believe that if 2/3 of the SBC voted that the earth is flat, we must find some way to reconcile that it is flat. From your post….(“This majority Southern Baptist position is that position that exists behind the pulpit and in the pew today in the SBC. We as Southern Baptists now have an opportunity to stand up and speak out on this vitally important issue of what it means to “be born again.” The future of the SBC is in our hands. It is time to decide what the Bible says is the determining factor in the salvific process where God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility are concerned with respect to how a lost person comes to Christ and is indeed “born again.”) To be honest, it is time for the non-Reformed, non-Calvinist, or whatever name you place on your new Hobbsian theology of veiled Pelagianism/Arminianism to actually support your stated positions from scripture instead of illogical arguments based on caricatures that go beyond that stated in scripture.

    This inconsistent Ryrie/Hobbs hermeneutic is quite simply Arminianism/Semi-Pelagianism in subtle disguise, no matter what name you prefer to put on it. You say the SBC is sick despite its moving away from the Calvinistic slant, at least all the “caricatured” Calvinistic positions, so my question would be why? I’ve watched our churches “transformed” by excitements meant to induce repentance….certain emotions…certain prayers….certain decision…rolls have swollen as regular attendance declines….lights have been erected, movie screens applied, more coffee, better coffee, great jokes, and out-of-context life application (law as gospel) in case the Spirit had left the building. So, again, what happened with this “traditional” approach. Could it be the back-door legalism rampant in the Anabaptist traditions? Did we lose our bootstraps? Since all these “peripheral”, “minor”, “seeker-friendly”(Rm 3?) church growth strategies have left the average church member in the SBC, as you stated, “not knowing” a bible word (emphasis added) such as “regeneration”, or justification, or the real significance of repentance, what’s next? I can say that we know a bunch of “catch phrases”. You should hear the ABC’s at work. Sounds much like a convention of hippies at woodstock, hey man…just “ask Jesus into your heart” and KaPoW…the God of this Creation is now obligated to send to me to heaven : ). So what do we do now, man?Get up in the morning, early, is best…read your bible every day….have some quiet time.(not that those are bad suggestions, go Willard)…ask your psychologist if journalling may be good for you. What new invention of the “traditional” church since 1931 will be used to “induce excitements sufficient for a decision” or moral transformation, according to your Finney-like new position?

    I hope we both can get this one salient point. No one, and I mean no one, quite frankly cares what the individual SBC elites opinions are, no matter how many sign the document, nor if it were blessed by the ‘vicar’ himself, but only that of scripture (emphasis added). Like it or not, you deny “dead in trespasses in sin”, “in sin did my mother conceive me”, and being “quickened”, “born from above.”

    So if the majority of those in the pulpits trained by the Hobbs “middle ground” approach, with elements of Arminianism, Pelagianism, and “who can know” theology of mysticism mis-applied contextually, preach these assumptions you see in scripture but that historic Christianity does not, why is the SBC sick? Even what God has unveiled, so to speak, has been veiled again in the interest of shallow conversions, church growth, and how to apply the bible to live our best lives now, manage our money, and learn Pharisaical spiritual disciplines (law commentary where there is none) for growth in Christ. This confusion over law and gospel need to go! Why, because scripture interprets scripture. Paul places the “mystery” of the gospel on the inclusion of gentiles into the covenant of Abraham, as before, “they were lost, and without hope in this world..” Eph. 2 You would have us believe that somehow the Old Testamenites, outside of Israel, had choices too? How does Paul in Rm 1 view their pagan choices?

    It is interesting that you and many others in the SBC, in this attempt at presenting a “foundational” view, are actually revealing how veiled your theology appears from the pulpit. This has been an issue for me for several years. You are actually denying Adam as your federal head, but want to climb up the ladder to bring Christ down to you (Rm 9) and your way of gaining access to the covenant community with Christ as the second Adam (how does this fit Rm 5?), instead of faith alone as regeneration by the Holy Spirit (Ezek 36:25) You deny total depravity, or enslavement to sin. You see man as having an ability within himself to respond to God, and thus “activate” the Spirit that “blows wherever it listeth, so it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit”. HOW is your revised position not Pelagianism? God requires belief, repentance, faith, etc. and grants us the faith to believe. Eph 2. Without it, we would be lost and without hope in this world. God requires perfect righteousness and gives Christ as atonement for the church He is building (Rm 3)

    You state that ALL men have an ability within them to pick God or not? How is this not Pelagian?

    I don’t mean to be too harsh, but I have noticed that all this comes right before most of the churches are giving consideration of the gospel project as SS literature. What are we so afraid of? Please, for the sake of the gospel, stop with anti-missional caricatures. The Calvinists I know are the ones resting in the simple faith expressed in Rm 10, and simply go out sharing the work of Christ done on our behalf, calling all to repent and believe the gospel. The difference is we leave the work up to God, and not try to steal His glory in producing some model of evangelism that “works”. The gospel is the power of God unto salvation to all who believe…, and stands on its own.

    God Bless.

    • sbcissue says:

      The only statement that I even care to acknowledge is your last one: the gospel is the power of God unto salvation unto ALL WHO BELIEVE; not those God decides WILL believe.

      Well one other brief comment: apparently calvinism is just as responsible for the sick state of the SBC since you guys have been such an important part of its storied history. It most certainly MUST NOT be the answer you propose for the God you present would have already effectually fixed it. Calvinism is not the answer.

      God bless.

      ><>”

      • Fort Knox says:

        Hold on brother, “care to acknowledge” might place you in the position of ‘militant’ or superiority holding to some higher knowledge, and admittedly, you may, as I am not a preacher. This militant caricature is often reserved for those of us who respect God’s sovereignty, EVEN over the choices of men.

        I have to say, after reading your discussion with the “Nathan” guy, and your hermeneutics on conversionism/transformation theology, along with the nice statements so “carefully” composed to be Non-Calvinist, Non-Reformed, yet trying to appear Non-Arminian, Non-Pelagian theological positions on soteriology, the only thing you appear to try to prove is one point,….God offers salvation to everyone (Arminian), and in the final analysis, man’s ultimate destiny rests in his ability to choose rightly (apart from God’s influence), “free choice”. (Pelagian). “are there few that be saved?” (Matt 7.) This is essentially your screaming “God is not fair” (Rm 9).

        From the post above, you said “We deny that election means that, from eternity, God predestined certain people for salvation and others for condemnation. The position that people condemn themselves to hell, not God is a moot point if ALL are condemned to hell BUT God graciously chooses to save some. It is amazing to me that Calvinists can intentionally and deliberately say that God is NOT responsible for those who go to hell. There is no escaping this fact in the Calvinist theological system.” My only observation, or comment to this presumed position, is what does scripture teach? As to the question of moot points, does God choose to put all things under the law (Gal) and at the same time declare “by the works of law shall no flesh be justified?” Christ’s imputed righteousness, imparted to us by God’s sovereign grace through faith in Christ alone, is the basis of our justification. Praise be to God.

        So, in going just a bit further to help me understand the consistency of God’s work in the redemption of a people for Himself, all those people who died in the flood, the Old Testamenites, Hitler, Bin Laden, etc… Jesus paid the penalty (or atoned as we understand the passover/scapegoat foreshadowing) for everyones’ sins declaring “It is finished” or the debt “paid in full”. Is this what I am to understand by your position? If not, what was He doing on the cross for all those not included in Rev. 7 (Matt 24). See Rev. 13 as well. I do notice that you, honestly, can’t escape the biblical term “election” in the creation of your box/system. I only acknowledge that election, as a wonderful, unifying doctrine of the church, is so rarely presented in the post-Finney, Hobbs era.

        You go to great stretches, in your “separation view of lostness”, to try make the god of your system work along with scripture. My issue is this, the Bible reveals God for who He is…not who we would like he to be, or how fair, or whatever the flavor of the day. For this we must bow to Him, not try to bring Him down.

        I do have to admit one other thing, the veiling of R.C. doctrine is kept from the average mass attendant and takes months to get a blogger to admit that R.C.’s still hold to Trent. SBC doctrine in it’s new (last 70 years or so) 3- or 4- point systems has been very veiled, but even these don’t deny Total Depravity according to historic, time-tested views of Rm 5. It didn’t take you nearly as long to present your positions, and for this it is helpful. If only others in this new SBC camp were so open to share their true views.

        ALL WHO BELIEVE; not those God decides WILL believe. All who believe (yes); not those God decides Will believe (Arminianism- like it or not, re-name or not)

        I also applaud the efforts of Lifeway to finally bring some Sunday School literature to the floor with some substance. Not the paltry efforts of the last 10 years to help believers and unbelievers get the most out of life, with self-help lessons.

        God Bless

      • sbcissue says:

        You are an interesting individual to say the least. I am thankful for one thing, you are not a preacher. Your interpretation of some of my comments you claim to have read are really outrageous. Take the following statement: “God offers salvation to everyone (Arminian), and in the final analysis, man’s ultimate destiny rests in his ability to choose rightly (apart from God’s influence), “free choice”. (Pelagian). “are there few that be saved?” (Matt 7.) This is essentially your screaming “God is not fair” (Rm 9).”

        This is such a ridiculous interpretation of ANY statement that I have made ANYWHERE… first of all, even calvinists attempt to cover God’s offering salvation to everyone in what they term a general call… they then differentiate between a general call and an effectual call… so let’s not be so fast to throw out terms just because you can.

        I also adamantly refute your assertion that my position is EVER ANYWHERE stated that “man has the ability to rightly choose ‘apart from God’s influence’.” The whole thrust of my theological perspective is that men are saved because of God’s self revelation of who He is and His promised provisions to all who will believe and His reconciliatory work in the convicting work of the Holy Spirit in the heart of an individual is what compels men to believe. For the record, this is in direct opposition to the calvinist position that men are converted solely because of God’s decree; for apart from His decretive, effectual call, salvation is not at all possible. This ridiculous charge that anything that is not draped in total depravity/inability is Pelagian simply proves your your limited view of soteriology or the fact that you are just spouting what you have read from someone else because you are unable to connect the dots on your own.

        The latter is certainly the case in your assessment of my theological position. Your assertion that I cry “God is not fair” is so far off base there is no decent response even necessary.

        It might be well for you to spend your time somewhere else and in 2 years of blogging, even though I have thought that of some, this is the first time I have actually said it. I really do not believe there is any reason for you to “waste anymore of your precious time”; you certainly need to be spending it in much more important places than here.

        ><>”

  6. Fort Knox says:

    I’m sorry if I have offended you. You said below that “sinners are saved as (emphasis added) they believe,” and “Once a sinner is confronted with the gospel, it is his response that will determine his eternal destiny”. I noticed the cherry picking approach of 1 Corinthians 1. Did you noticed the “called” in verse 24? That will come into play later on. So, I don’t think it so ridiculous to have some conclusion other than his response determines his destiny. It is how you present the what determines his response (emphasis added) that is disturbing to some viewers. If I understand Num 2:9 correctly they were to just “look and live.” (9 So Moses made a bronze serpent and set it on a pole. And if a serpent bit anyone, he would look at the bronze serpent and live) This was not Moses “plan” of salvation, but to point forward to Christ. In getting to the “how” they are saved, by grace through faith, your approach is making belief a “work” of faith, or “demonstration” of faith, although I hear your denial. I included your whole post below in it’s context,
    … see your post on May 7th….”The truth of the Scriptures is Jesus has come into this world to save sinners. God has chosen the foolishness of preaching to save those that are lost. How does the preaching of the gospel save sinners? Sinners are saved as they believe. (I Corinthians 1:21) This is why Paul said that Jesus had sent him to preach the gospel! (V17) Jesus said it all when He said, “14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. 16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. 18 He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” (John 3:14-18
    NKJV) This is what Paul believed; it is what Paul experienced in his own conversion and it this is the message that Paul believed anyone could hear and respond to and that is why his admonition was “Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” Once a sinner is confronted with the gospel, it is his response that will determine his eternal destiny and today is all anyone is promised.”

    The personal attack as my being an “interesting individual”, thank you. I would hope by interesting you were implying someone you would like to be in fellowship with discussing the truths of scripture, for sake of the gospel and edification of the body. Would you attack a brother in Christ in same manner who believes that he is saved by simple faith in the finished work of Christ and his imputed righteousness?

    Of course, “faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” so as to some of my other comments regarding SBC programs, cokes and jokes, maybe coffee, etc are all ideas for getting people (“seekers”) to come….and stay. Maybe if they like “us”, they’ll like our Jesus. The gospel, or Good News of what God has done in Christ to save sinners, has been relegated to “say the ABC’s”, and done. Then off to SS where the teaching may be anything from let’s save the environment Greeny, Roman Catholic dogma, Pelagian, Arminian, Ben Franklin, Robert Schuller, Oprah, Dr. Phil, or Osteen. So again, I’m sorry for any miscommunication on my part. “I’m not a smart man” to quote Gump.

    1. Good, we are agreeing that preaching the gospel precedes conversion, and is the means of salvation God has ordained in scripture, not excitements, cokes, jokes, contextualized stories, etc. was the thrust of my other comments. I understand that it may be hard to see this from your vantage point if your always swimming in the “company Kool-Aid.” This is joke from my industry, lighten up brother. : )

    2. You are glad I’m not a preacher. Ouch? Me too : ) And, I pray your continued work be blessed for the sake of the gospel. Please don’t be offended if asked to explain your theological position to a Berean-like layman.

    3. It seems to me that you, and many others, are apparantly ‘uncomfortable’ with the true biblical revelation of election (or remnant, etc.) as God’s prerogative. It is your “non-system” (and hence I maybe implied you) that screams out trying to convince us that God is fair on the basis of a universal “offer” of salvation to everyone and that Christ’s work on the cross atoned for the sins of every single person ever created. Therefore, you take passages where Paul himself argues for his own kinsmen and slant them to suite the Arminian in your new system (see Rm 9).

    4. As to Paul’s conversion “experience”, I am thankful that he didn’t make his individual testimony the theme of his sermons, but instead preached Christ and Him crucified. When we say we are bringing Christ down into “our heart of hearts” (got this from one of your previous sermons) does this then imply that now, because of our belief the “transaction” is complete and Christ’s death NOW applies to us. The heart is then transformed and not as God implies through David, “the heart is deceitful and desperately wicked above all things.”? This gives the appearance that we are cooperating (however freely) along with God to transform us. (so when are we declared righteous). The “transforming” of the heart, sounds like a good thing, but how does that square with God creates in us a new (emphasis added) heart, one that responds to him? (Ezek 36) (I apologize for coming across harsh, but moral transformation was Finney’s objective and Boyce failed to see any change a years later. My historical comments are used only to frame some past events, and hopefully help us avoid these same traps that we, as I’ve explained before, are already in.

    5. From above you state that “The whole thrust of my theological perspective is that men are saved because of God’s self revelation of who He is and His promised provisions to all who will believe and His reconciliatory work in the convicting work of the Holy Spirit in the heart of an individual is what compels men to believe.” I wonder why you add “will” and “compels” to this seemingly great thesis.

    You can attack me again if you like, or un-invite me to the party, but I encourage you to at least be respectful to another believer, even if I’m not at your level, so to speak.
    A few questions from an interested individual, please answer from your perspective on scripture:
    1) If God ‘desires’ everyone to be saved, why aren’t they?
    2) Why does scripture speak of a remnant, or a ‘people’ of every tribe, tongue, and nation?
    3) Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think I’m understanding now that you are(emphasis added) saying that conversion does require the work of the Holy Spirit? To this we both whole-heartedly agree, to create “something” (I would call that something belief, but you would call that something a release from bondage to sin in order to free man’s will) in the sinner, where before there was none. Prior to that they would “suppressing the truth (about God) in unrighteousness.” Rm 1 ?
    4) From statement 5 above, you say correctly that God’s self revelation, and I would say all in the person and work of Christ, provides for the reconciliation of God to man. But here you present the man (from earlier post) back in the garden freed, shall we say, to choose. If each and every man who hears the gospel and (emphasis added) therefore, according to your system, “must” be convicted (emphasis added). This in order to “enable” them to be freed from the bondage of sin, and to be free to choose “whom they will serve”. If then they are back in the garden (even if spiritually speaking, to be “in the garden” according to your separation view of lostness,) they would no longer be separated & Christ already atoned there sin according to your system, why not just stay there in the spiritually free from the bondage of sin garden?
    Or, since Christ already atoned for all the sins of every single person in the whole world, in order for the offer to be real & universally effective, everyone (emphasis added) must be convicted (emphasis added) by said preaching so that everyone has the opportunity given Adam. You at that point are like Adam, no longer separated by God, and therefore, WAIT…how would we get separated again if our sins are atoned, the chains are gone, we are back in the garden like Adam with a free will towards things heavenly…my friend, you have described Adam’s condition prior to the fall.
    I know you really don’t want this to BE your position, but a little leaven leavens the whole deal, doesn’t it. Much like your TD straw man.
    We must come to scripture and accepting it as God’s inspired word, believing it for what it says, and the God it reveals. Yes, some things are difficult for us to understand, but to God be the Glory, both now and forever. Amen.

    God Bless you Brother

    • Fort Knox says:

      As to your reply regarding my lack of soteriologic knowledge as compared to that of your own, may I respectfully submit that it is you who is denying the concept of Total Depravity, or Original Sin, in its historically understood sense, prior to the Reformation, remind you. For it was Pelagius who first articulated what you now are contending as your separation view with free choice.
      Your comment below:
      “This ridiculous charge that anything that is not draped in total depravity/inability is Pelagian simply proves your your limited view of soteriology or the fact that you are just spouting what you have read from someone else because you are unable to connect the dots on your own.” : (

      I am asserting that we are by nature sinners…Eph2:3, Ps 51:5, Rm 5:12, that no one does good, nor seeks God…Rom 3:10-12, and that no one is able to do God’s will…Rom 6:16, 7:14.

      The man you most resemble from a historical perspective in history is Pelagius.
      “Nothing impossible has been commanded by the God of justice and majesty…Why do we indulge in pointless evasions, advancing the frailty of our own nature as an objection to the one who commands us? No one knows better the true measure of our strength than he who has given it to us nor does anyone understand better how much we are able to do than he who has given us this very capacity of ours to be able; nor has he who is just wished to command anything impossible or he who is good intended to condemn a man for doing what he could not avoid doing.” Pelagius
      “Grace indeed freely discharges sins, but with the consent and choice of the believer.” Pelagius.

      Please help me “connect the dots”, but using scripture, to show how your separation view is NOT just Pelagianism in new clothes.

      • sbcissue says:

        FK

        I appreciate your efforts in these last two comments to link the relevance of what you are saying to what I have said… as I read the previous comments, I did not see the relevance and couple that with any conceivable misinterpretations, I was completely lost and therefore made the comment I made. I promise there was no intended idea of intellectual superiority in my position versus yours… I could not correlate WHAT you were writing to anything that I had said and so I suggested you spend time somewhere else. I am sure you are busy and I can assure you that I am.

        I have also learned that it is much easier to respond in shorter passages because it makes my response almost impossible… Just take for example your reference to cokes, and jokes and whatever it was that you mentioned… I agree… and those comments are totally irrelevant to anything I have posted or even come close to suggesting ANYWHERE in my writings… then when I read… “Then off to SS where the teaching may be anything from let’s save the environment Greeny, Roman Catholic dogma, Pelagian, Arminian, Ben Franklin, Robert Schuller, Oprah, Dr. Phil, or Osteen. So again, I’m sorry for any miscommunication on my part. “I’m not a smart man” to quote Gump.”

        I can only assume there is some relevance to me in that post and that is what I do not have time for… I fully understand the term… drinking the kool-aide… I have been tempted to use it myself but so far have been successful in not doing so.

        Consider your statement on #3… It seems to me that you, and many others, are apparantly ‘uncomfortable’ with the true biblical revelation of election (or remnant, etc.) as God’s prerogative. I simply do not see election in the same light you do… there is no reason to cast verbal innuendos … you continue… “It is your “non-system” (and hence I maybe implied you) that screams out trying to convince us that God is fair on the basis of a universal “offer” of salvation to everyone…” first of all I have no clue what your reference to a “non-system” is to and for the record I am not even coming close to attempting to convince you of anything. I am sharing MY theological position and contrasting it to the calvinist position, as I see it.

        Look at your last comment… (not exactly sure at all what your point was with Adam and God’s presence… ) You wrote, “We must come to scripture and accepting it as God’s inspired word, believing it for what it says, and the God it reveals. Yes, some things are difficult for us to understand,”

        I take it that is what you are doing; i assure that is what I am doing to the best of my ability and with the help of the Holy Spirit, I might add… so the question is not WHAT are the difficult parts, it is how do we handle them when our view is different from someone elses? I do not believe the correct answer is to instruct the other person to “look to the Scriptures” because i am not going to be engaged in a conversation in the first place with someone who has no Scriptural basis and reference.

        Calvinism is a system that assumes certain presuppositions that are arguably Scripturally supported but they are subjectively constructed and follow a pattern of logic that I simply do not agree with. the fact that I do not believe in Total Depravity or what I would prefer to refer to as Total Inability, means I do not accept the logical presuppositions that you do. Does this mean that one of is not Scriptural?

        I do not think so. It does mean that one of us is wrong… and that concerns me especially where conversion is concerned and that is the only reason I am even engaged in this debate where the SBC is concerned. I would not even be concerned with debating the issue with Presbyterians. I do not engage charismatics… I do not engage Catholics… if calvinism was not an issue in the SBC and more specifically the entities of the SBC, I would not even be blogging today. It is and that is why I am doing what I do.

        ><>”

  7. sbcissue says:

    JK

    You wrote, “For it was Pelagius who first articulated what you now are contending as your separation view with free choice.” This is why I said you do not know enough about my position to pass judgment on it. Nothing could be further from the truth. I am no expert on Pelagianism but the major factor in his theology as I understand it was man’s natural born ability to please God apart from God’s intervention. For the record, and I believe you acknowledged this briefly in a comment you made but I am not finding it… salvation is NOT possible apart from the hearing of the gospel message and the convicting work of the Holy Spirit. I suppose some could argue my position as a form of prevenient grace… but I do not believe man is totally depraved so there is no nature that has to be corrected to enable man to respond to God.

    I am very familiar with the language and terminology related to this issue in 2 years of debating it. I am very comfortable in my position as it has evolved in that time and will no doubt continue to do. I believe man’s sins nature is the result of his being separated from God’s perpetual presence; that is why God’s remedy for man’s problem is the incarnation and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in the heart of the born again child of God. The difference in Adam’s situation and our situation is that God created Adam and they walked together. Adam chose to sin and God put him out of the garden, which is where every person that has been born has been born; outside the garden and outside God’s perpetual presence. Because we are away from Him, every decision we do will fall short of His glory… because I was created for fellowship with Him!

    Here is what God did… when I was born again or from above, God placed His Spirit in my heart.. inside me! I can NEVER go anywhere or do anything and get away from His perpetual presence! I belong to Him forever. Now… what do I do in prayer? I come into His presence where His power is available to me and His provisions and His protection. This I believe is the essence of life in Christ and the victory that is ours in Him!

    So, no I do not have to old to total depravity or inability to be Scripturally based. I maintain there is NO concept of total depravity in the OT where God ever regenerated ANYONE so that they could respond to Him.

    Be blessed!

    ><>”

  8. Max says:

    sbcissue said “Calvinism is a system that assumes certain presuppositions that are arguably Scripturally supported but they are subjectively constructed and follow a pattern of logic that I simply do not agree with.”

    I count it all joy that a Holy God performed a very illogical act of extending His love to me, a sinner. When I was lost and undone, He sent not a system but a Son … and in my depraved state allowed me the choice to accept or reject that gift freely. We can argue, presuppose, and construct Scripture to fit a theolgy until the cows come home … but I’m already home with Truth. I know that I know that I know. Praise God!

    • sbcissue says:

      AMEN Max…

      I am glad that God sent His Son instead of some system as well… and He has forgive me of my sin and made me part of His forever family and I too know that I know that I know that I am saved!

      ><>”

      • I, too, rejoice that the Father sent Christ to save us, Max & Bob. Our salvation is in Christ alone not in a system. Yet this salvation isn’t illogical – it’s hyperlogical; it’s beyond us but makes sense in the mind of God – as we don’t understand all of God’s purposes now but will have an eternity to praise him and understand him more. One day we’ll see clearly.

        Every Bible believing Christian seeks to be logical and consistent in their theology, whether or not they end up having Arminian or Calvinist tendencies in their theology and whether we acknowledge it or not. At the end of the day, both camps look at the biblical data then look at the opposite camp and say, “I don’t think their view makes sense given what I’ve understood the text to mean.” For that reason, we should want both biblically and logically consistent Arminians and Calvinists within the evangelical spectrum, as both camps proclaim salvation in Christ alone.

      • Max says:

        Brother Embry – as you pursue your education at Southern, beware of complex systems which attempt to put the mind of God into a neat theological box. We must hang our ministries on neither the “A” or “C” approach, but on revealed truth. Keep your prayers and spiritual antennae up, young man.

  9. What did you have in mind to be worried about at Southern?

    • I tell you what, Max, I’ve just discovered this new discussion in the SBC in the past few weeks, and it really saddens me. For example, there’s a lot of strong disagreement and mis-characterizations today over at SBCToday. It’s never good to start implying that people are heretical. Max, I hope you don’t think students at Southern act like what’s going on over there, today. I’ve met a lot of sweet people from all of the seminaries and am thankful for them all. I actually wanted to do my D.Min. at New Orleans or Southwestern, but I can’t afford to the travel expenses.

    • Max says:

      Only that which God reveals to you (not me) as you sort through theological tenets. Education is fine (I even have some) … but education does not produce one ounce of revelation. Preachers usually figure that out when seminary is in the rear view mirror and ministry hits the road. I’m praying for you Adam.

  10. I meant SBCVoices in my last post, not SBCToday.

  11. sbcissue says:

    Adam,

    Let me state something here: it is really an insult of sorts to suggest that Baptists are Arminian or Calvinist, as if that is all the options out there. This is a serious mistake. I point to a recent post by Dr. Roger Olson, Mr. Baptist Arminian himself and he makes the following statement in reference to the statement on salvation that we are discussing today: “Leaving the statement as it stands, without a clear affirmation of the bondage of the will to sin apart from supernatural grace, inevitably hands the Calvinists ammunition to use against non-Calvinist Baptists.
    It doesn’t matter what “most Baptists” believe or what is the “traditional Southern Baptist understanding.” For a long time I’ve been stating that most American Christians, including most Baptists, are semi-Pelagian, not Arminian and not merely non-Calvinist.” Olson’s article may be seen by CLICKING HERE.

    Now he does charge the statement as bordering on being semi-Pelagian or that is could be interpreted by the Pelagian camp as Pelagian. This is undeniably incorrect as no Southern Baptist that I know will say that anyone has the innate ability in himself to come into God’s presence in a right standing. It is God who saves. It is the Holy Spirit that convicts men of their sin and draws them to repentance and saving faith so the Pelagian charge most certainly does not apply.

    Why would Olson make such a charge one might ask? The answer is simple. Arminians are like Calvinists where total depravity and total inability are concerned. Both stand on the same ground at that point. Identical positions. So, TD is essential to the foundation on which both systems stand. So just as the calvinist does, the arminian does as well; they both charge anyone that does not believe in total depravity MUST be Pelagian/Semi-Pelagian. This is simply faulty deduction.

    Thanks for the spirit of your comments! i appreciate that.

    ><>”

    • Well, I sure do hope this doesn’t become divisive issue in the SBC, as we have much kingdom work to do and a good reason to celebrate a historic convention this year!

  12. This is hardly the traditional view of southern baptists. This is pure revisionist garbage that is divisive and uncalled for. It misrepresents Calvinism in places and if this is the view of the SBC you can count me and my great great great great uncle Charles Spurgeon out.

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