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.