Archive Monthly Archives: June 2012

A Commentary on Article Eight of “A Statement of Traditional Southern Baptist Understanding of God’s Plan of Salvation ”

June 26, 2012

SBC Today mistakenly posted an earlier version of Dr. Hunter’s article. Now posted is his completed article. We apologize for our inadvertent mistake.

–The Contributing Editors of SBC Today


By Braxton Hunter, PhD, Professor of Philosophy and Apologetics at Trinity College of the Bible and Theological Seminary in Newburgh, Indiana, and former President of the Conference of Southern Baptist Evangelists


Article Eight: The Free Will of Man

We affirm that God, as an expression of His sovereignty, endows each person with actual free will (the ability to choose between two options), which must be exercised in accepting or rejecting God’s gracious call to salvation by the Holy Spirit through the Gospel.

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.

(Genesis 1:26-28; Numbers 21:8-9; Deuteronomy 30:19; Joshua 24:15; 1 Samuel 8:1-22; 2 Samuel 24:13-14; Esther 3:12-14; Matthew 7:13-14; 11:20-24; Mark 10:17-22; Luke 9:23-24; 13:34; 15:17-20; Romans 10:9-10; Titus 2:12; Revelation 22:17)


Of the utmost importance for discussions relevant to the entirety of the document in question is what is meant by the authors when they use the term “free will.” It is not uncommon for laymen and theologians alike to misunderstand the terminology and philosophical implications of this central subject. As is the case with so many of the elements comprising a proper biblical worldview, one cannot merely rely on the vernacular of the 21st century to grasp the concepts with which thinkers have grappled throughout the ages. Moreover, in an effort to limit one’s own bias, it is prudent to step outside of the understanding of free will that has been fostered by his preferred doctrinal stance. It is also not enough to settle this issue by merely defining terms. The truth of man’s free will and the reality of God’s sovereignty are in symphony with one another in Article 8. The charge that non-Calvinists deny, limit, or reduce the sovereignty of God has been answered. Indeed, if the intention of Article 8’s affirmation is properly understood, the charge has been laid to rest.

Commentaries on previous articles have briefly addressed the question of what free will actually is; yet here we will flesh it out in greater detail. Typically, Calvinists deny that they are what philosophers refer to as “hard-determinists.” On this view, most common among philosophical naturalists, free will is merely illusory. One may experience the various events and actions of his life as though they represent genuine choices; however, this is a byproduct of living in a closed system of cause and effect. No choice, of any kind, actually exists. Conversely, many non-Calvinists hold to what is known as “libertarian free will.” According to this model, man has, as a special gift from God, the ability to transcend cause and effect and actually make real decisions. These decisions may be influenced by outside factors, but not to the point of coercion. “Libertarian free will” is consistent with the language of Article 8 in the phrase “actual free will (the ability to choose between two options).”
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A Commentary on Article Eight of “A Statement of Traditional Southern Baptist Understanding of God’s Plan of Salvation ”

June 24, 2012

NOTE: a revised version of this article has been posted.


By Braxton Hunter, PhD, Professor of Philosophy and Apologetics at Trinity College of the Bible and Theological Seminary in Newburgh, Indiana, and former President of the Conference of Southern Baptist Evangelists


Of the utmost importance for discussions relevant to the the entirety of the document in question is what is meant by the authors when they use the term “free will.” It is not uncommon for laymen and theologians alike to misunderstand the terminology and philosophical implications of this central subject. As is the case with so many of the elements comprising a proper biblical worldview, one cannot merely rely on the vernacular of the 21st century to grasp the concepts with which thinkers have grappled throughout the ages. Moreover, in an effort to limit one’s own bias, it is prudent to step outside of the understanding of free will that has been fostered by his preferred doctrinal stance. It is also not enough to settle this issue by merely defining terms. The truth of man’s free will and the reality of God’s sovereignty are in symphony with one another in Article 8. The charge that non-Calvinists deny, limit, or reduce the sovereignty of God has been answered. Indeed, if the intention of Article 8’s affirmation is properly understood, the charge has been laid to rest.

Commentaries on previous articles have briefly addressed the question of what freewill actually is, yet here it becomes necessary to flesh it out in detail. Typically, Calvinists deny that they are what philosophers refer to as “hard-determinists.” On this view, most common among philosophical naturalists, free will is merely illusory. One may experience the various events and actions of his life as though they represent genuine choices, however, this is a byproduct of living in a closed system of cause and effect. No choice, of any kind, actually exists. Conversely, many non-Calvinists hold to what is known as “libertarian free will.” According to this model, man has, as a special gift from God, the ability to transcend cause and effect and actually make real decisions. These decisions may be influenced by outside factors, but not to the point of coercion. “Libertarian free will” is consistent with the language of Article 8 in the phrase “actual free will (the ability to choose between two options).”
Continue reading

An Interview with Emir Caner about Issues in the SBC

June 24, 2012

In this video, Dr. Emir Caner, President of Truett-McConnell College in Georgia, is interviewed by Joel Southerland of Talk SBC at the Southern Baptist Convention in New Orleans. The interview addresses issues such as the election of Fred Luter as the President of the SBC, Caner’s perspective on “A Statement of the Traditional Southern Baptist Understanding of God’s Plan of Salvation,” his perspective about how Baptists differ from classical Calvinists and Arminians, his support for the Sinner’s Prayer resolution adopted by a strong majority at the SBC, and his hope for traditional Baptists to have constructive dialogue with Calvinists within the SBC.