A Statement of Traditional Southern Baptist Soteriology SBC Today.pdf
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The following is a suggested statement of what Southern Baptists believe about the doctrine of salvation. Compiled by a number of pastors, professors, and leaders in response to the growing debate over Calvinism in Southern Baptist life, it begins with a rationale for such a statement at this time, followed by ten articles of affirmation and denial. The goal was to create a statement that would accurately reflect the beliefs of the majority of Southern Baptists, who are not Calvinists. The concern of the developers of this statement was that the viewpoint of this majority was not well-represented by the term “non-Calvinist” and that an instrument was needed by which that majority might articulate positively what they believe vis-à-vis Calvinism. There is no thought that this document reflects what all Southern Baptists believe or that it should be imposed upon all Southern Baptists. We believe that it does reflect what most Southern Baptists believe for good, biblical reasons. Its purpose is to engender a much needed Convention-wide discussion about the place of Calvinism in Southern Baptist life. If this Statement is reflective of your understanding of the doctrine of salvation in the life of the Convention, we would love for you to add your endorsement. To do so, see the instructions at the end of the statement and list of signers.
A Statement of the Traditional Southern Baptist Understanding of
God’s Plan of Salvation
Every generation of Southern Baptists has the duty to articulate the truths of its faith with particular attention to the issues that are impacting contemporary mission and ministry. The precipitating issue for this statement is the rise of a movement called “New Calvinism” among Southern Baptists. This movement is committed to advancing in the churches an exclusively Calvinistic understanding of salvation, characterized by an aggressive insistence on the “Doctrines of Grace” (“TULIP”), and to the goal of making Calvinism the central Southern Baptist position on God’s plan of salvation.
While Calvinists have been present in Southern Baptist life from its earliest days and have made very important contributions to our history and theology, the majority of Southern Baptists do not embrace Calvinism. Even the minority of Southern Baptists who have identified themselves as Calvinists generally modify its teachings in order to mitigate certain unacceptable conclusions (e.g., anti-missionism, hyper-Calvinism, double predestination, limited atonement, etc.). The very fact that there is a plurality of views on Calvinism designed to deal with these weaknesses (variously described as “3-point,” “4-point,” “moderate,” etc.) would seem to call for circumspection and humility with respect to the system and to those who disagree with it. For the most part, Southern Baptists have been glad to relegate disagreements over Calvinism to secondary status along with other important but “non-essential” theological matters. The Southern Baptist majority has fellowshipped happily with its Calvinist brethren while kindly resisting Calvinism itself. And, to their credit, most Southern Baptist Calvinists have not demanded the adoption of their view as the standard. We would be fine if this consensus continued, but some New Calvinists seem to be pushing for a radical alteration of this long-standing arrangement.
The following tribute to Dr. Wayne Ward was recently written by James Leo Garrett, Jr., and read at Dr. Ward’s funeral. Dr. Garrett served alongside Dr. Ward as Professor of Christian Theology at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary from 1959 to 1973 and is currently Distinguished Professor of Theology, Emeritus at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. More information about Dr. Ward may be found in this Baptist Press article http://www.bpnews.net/BPnews.asp?ID=37898 and in this First Person essay by Paige Patterson http://www.bpnews.net/BPnews.asp?ID=37916. We appreciate Dr. Garrett for granting SBC Today permission to publish this moving tribute.
Wayne Ward’s life was marked by loyalty and fidelity from his childhood to his final years. He was committed to Jesus Christ as the only Son of God, his Lord and Savior, for by grace he had been saved, and to the total revelation of the triune God–Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Wayne was loyal to his nation by serving in the danger-ridden Naval Aviation in the Pacific theater during World War II. He was loyal to Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. As a young boy he met and heard President E. Y. Mullins and accompanied his attorney father to the campus so that the father could do legal work for the seminary and brought canned goods lovingly prepared by Baptist women for students and their families during the Great Depression. Before entering military service, Wayne first enrolled in the seminary. As visitor, as student, as professor, and as retiree he was for eight decades–from the Mullins era to the Mohler era–loyally bound to the institution. His doctoral dissertation, his writings, and his field of specialization, New Testament theology, demonstrated his loyalty to the Holy Scriptures. His care for and advising of students showed him to be a dedicated mentor. The object at times of criticism from certain colleagues, the recipient of administrative action reckoned by some as unjust, and the decliner of invitations to serve elsewhere, Dr. Ward loyally and graciously kept himself committed to the mission of the mother seminary of Southern Baptists–the equipping of called men and women for gospel ministry.
Wayne’s pastorates, interim pastorates, Holy Land tours, and service to overseas missionaries manifested his loyalty to the preached word and to the people of God, who were eager to hear him. His exemplary devotion to and care for his dear wife Mary Ann, especially during her years of deteriorating health, marked him as the loyal, self-giving husband.
For 53 years I have been blessed by his loyal friendship. The servant has now entered into the presence and joy of his crucified and risen Lord. Thanks be unto God!
James Leo Garrett, Jr.
May 24, 2012
By Franklin L. Kirksey, Pastor, First Baptist Church of Spanish Fort, Alabama, and author of Sound Biblical Preaching: Giving the Bible a Voice.
These expositions by Dr. Kirksey are offered to suggest sermon or Bible study ideas for pastors and other church leaders, both from the exposition and from the illustrative material, or simply for personal devotion.
People love to read success stories, for example, the Horatio Alger “rags to riches” variety. Former Louisiana Governor, James Houston “Jimmie” Davis (1902-2000), was such a man. Dr. R. G. Lee (1886-1978), former pastor of First Baptist Church, New Orleans, Louisiana, shares the following, “Never have I read a book that has given me as much pleasure and profit as You Are My Sunshine. To read how Jimmie Davis climbed from poverty to plenty, from obscurity as a share-crop country boy to prominence, from being a farm boy to steering the Ship of State in a wise and successful way is wonderful!
I have known this great and good man personally. All who read this story will enrich their lives as they are made to think of a man who experienced the biblical truth: ‘No good thing will God withhold from them who walk uprightly’ (Ps. 84:10).”
Ironically, people equally enjoy reading accounts about the failure of others. Success stories allow people to enjoy the thrill of victory in the life of another with a secret hope that it might happen to them. Accounts of failure in the lives of others often make people think; at least I am not as bad as he or she. Paul warns in 2 Corinthians 10:12, “For we dare not class ourselves or compare ourselves with those who commend themselves. But they, measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.”