A Response to Dr. Al Mohler
Regarding “A Statement of the Traditional Baptist
Understanding of God’s Plan of Salvation”

June 7, 2012


By Dr. Eric Hankins, Pastor of the
First Baptist Church in Oxford, Mississippi


I am appreciative of Dr. Mohler’s willingness to reply to our Statement, and I agree with much of it. He is a statesman whose influence on Southern Baptist life is inestimable, and he is owed a debt of gratitude for his tireless work for the cause of the kingdom. His involvement in this debate is crucial to a God-honoring conclusion. I am thrilled over Dr. Mohler’s affirmation of the necessity of this discussion and his agreement that “it’s time to talk.” The most ubiquitous criticism of the Statement over the last several days has been that it is unnecessarily divisive and that our concerns about Calvinism are contrived. We are thankful that Dr. Mohler acknowledges that it is good, right, and healthy to have a robust discussion of these important and very real issues. Along with him, we wholeheartedly affirm that The Baptist Faith and Message forms the sufficient boundary for our collective theological interests and should continue to be our principle guiding document.

Although most of what Dr. Mohler has stated is quite helpful, I am afraid that much of it will be ignored because of two very unfortunate charges he levels concerning the Statement. These charges, especially in light of the more vitriolic responses to the Statement in the blogosphere, are likely to fuel the rancor that will foreclose upon the very discussion Dr. Mohler feels is so important have. The two serious charges to which we strenuously object are (1) that the Statement appears to be heretical and (2) that the Southern Baptist leaders (former presidents, seminary presidents, state executives, seminary professors, evangelists, and pastors) who signed the statement were not sharp enough to recognize the heresy. To these charges, I offer the following reply:

First, we will never concede the charge of Semi-Pelagianism; it is patently false. Semi-Pelagianism is the view that man initiates his own salvation and that grace attends subsequently. Even a cursory reading of the Statement reveals that such an understanding of salvation could not be further from our intention. The language of the affirmation in Article Two is drawn almost verbatim from the BF&M. Most of the criticism has been directed at the “denial,” which is often divorced from its connection to the affirmation and criticized without respect to the rest of the Statement. Here is what we mean and what we will be glad to debate: We are all ruined by Adam’s sin. We are born with a sin nature. We all persistently, perniciously, and at every opportunity want to be Lord of our own lives. We cannot save ourselves. The power of the Gospel through the initiative and drawing of the Holy Spirit is our only hope, and it alone is sufficient to pierce our spiritual darkness and rescue us. But our real response to the Gospel of Christ in the power of the Spirit matters to God.

Now, there is no doubt that we are calling into question the Calvinist-Arminian grid that sets the parameters and defines all the terms of the debate. It matters little to us that such discussions are centuries old. These abstrusely medieval, exhaustingly philosophical, and theologically troubling categories have never been comfortable for most Southern Baptists, and we have never felt bound by them. We don’t refer to them when we preach and teach, and we have been moving away from them confessionally for well over a century. Baptists weren’t afraid to walk away from Augustine and Calvin on issues of infant baptism and ecclesiology, and we have not been afraid to walk away from their soteriology, which demands that most people will not be granted the capacity to respond to the Gospel. We are calling the Augustinian-Calvinist synthesis into question not because we are spiritually immature, biblically illiterate, doctrinally cowardly, or erroneously humanistic. We are calling it into question because it is a post-biblical lens that too often distorts crucial biblical texts.

Do the authors and signers of the Statement think that people can save themselves? No! Do they think people can do anything to merit their salvation? No! Do they think anyone can trust Christ apart from the initiative of God and the drawing of the Holy Spirit? No! But they also don’t think that most people are predestined to an eternity in hell no matter what. And they do think that every person has the opportunity to respond to the Gospel under the leadership of the Spirit who is willing to move upon the heart of anyone. In this debate, the charge of Semi-Pelagianism is little more than a “bogeyman.” It’s a label that intimidates and confuses, and we emphatically reject it.

Second, while Dr. Mohler admits that Calvinists often appear “elitist,” is not a bit of elitism on display in his negative assessment of the theological acumen of the signers of the document? Before expressing his love for the group, which is commendable, Dr. Mohler makes the following statement: “I do not believe that those most problematic statements truly reflect the beliefs of many who signed this document.” Surely, Dr. Mohler understands that this can only offend the signers of the Statement. He implies that they signed a doctrinal statement containing assertions which they did not fully appreciate. Seminary presidents and professors, renowned evangelists and preachers of the Gospel can’t recognize Semi-Pelagianism? Some of the most effective soul-winners in our history inadvertently agreed that people can procure their own salvation by their own initiation and their own effort? Were several of the individuals who helped revise the BF&M not able to see that they now stand in clear violation of it? How does Dr. Mohler think that “doctrinally careful and theologically discerning” people came to sign this theologically deficient document? “Doctrinally careful and theologically discerning” people, by definition, are not easily duped or reckless with endorsements.

If Dr. Mohler intends for his words to engender an irenic but honest debate of these issues, opening with a charge of apparent heresy and chiding its signers for being too ignorant to know it is a strange way to begin. It is important for him to understand that, though he would certainly reject this characterization, he is often considered a principal force behind the very tribalism he is seeking to disavow. Charging us with being heterodox and obtuse doesn’t help. We will hope for his better instincts to prevail as our conversation continues.

I conclude by returning to the question at the center of this entire discussion. Dr. Mohler states that he “rejoices in its statement that ‘the proclamation of the Gospel is God’s means of bringing any person to salvation.’” I would like to know how such an affirmation comports with his self-avowed Calvinism. It is likely that he means salvation is for any person who has been pre-temporally chosen out of the mass of humanity, the rest of whom will be passed over for salvation, never to be granted the ability to respond to the Gospel, no matter what. This is not what we mean. We mean that every person who hears the Gospel has the opportunity to respond in repentance and faith, and we will continue to insist that this is what most Southern Baptists believe.

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Bob Hadley

Very well said.

“Do the authors and signers of the Statement think that people can save themselves? No! Do they think people can do anything to merit their salvation? No! Do they think anyone can trust Christ apart from the initiative of God and the drawing of the Holy Spirit? No! But they also don’t think that most people are predestined to an eternity in hell no matter what. And they do think that every person has the opportunity to respond to the Gospel under the leadership of the Spirit who is willing to move upon the heart of anyone. In this debate, the charge of Semi-Pelagianism is little more than a “bogeyman.” It’s a label that intimidates and confuses, and we emphatically reject it.”

><&gt”

    John Carpenter

    It’s nothing but a denial of the obvious. The statement is unBiblical and the denial of imputation of Adam’s sin and depravity is, at least by itself, Pelagianism. Just shouting “no”, doesn’t change that fact.

      Leslie Puryear

      Mr. Carpenter,

      Just saying it’s Pelagian or semi doesn’t make it so either. You are wrong. Period. It’s obvious that you don;t know what Pelagian and/or Semi-Pelgian even means when you make such a statement. Perhaps the PCA would be a better fit for you than the SBC.

        John Carpenter

        There’s a post below, quoting Herman Bavinck (at 2:01) and another further below, quoting an apologetics web-site definition of semi-pelagianism. I believe both definitions show that the statement appears to be semi-pelagian. We’re not just saying it is. We didn’t make it up. Any person with a solid theological education who reads :

        “We deny that Adam’s sin resulted in the incapacitation of any person’s free will or rendered any person guilty before he has personally sinned.”

        should know that that is problematic, either semi- of fully Pelagian. And Mr. Hankins doesn’t do anything to disprove that as simply asserting it isn’t doesn’t count as really dealing with the statement.

      Bob Hadley

      Mr. Carpenter,

      Your statement is quite incredulous in and of itself. “The statement is unBiblical and the denial of imputation of Adam’s sin and depravity is, at least by itself, Pelagianism.”

      Your statement indicates one of three things: 1) You have no idea what pelagianism is or 2) you don’t care what it means or 3) both. As you see it, the denial of total depravity is the problem of the statement and so you simply hurl accusations because you can.

      Pelagianism posits man’s ability on his own to come to God or seek Him out with no initiative on God’s part in the process. The Semi-pelagian position posits God’s granting grace once man has made the initial move to Him. This statement clearly does not fall any where close to that condition.

      The truth is your theological framework must begin with TD/I to set the stage for irresistible grace and the calvinist position on limited atonement. So as you see it, anyone who denies total depravity/inability has to be Pelagian or at least semi- because you cannot consider a position apart from TD/I. However, that being said, refuting TD/I does not make one pelagian.

      All pelagians and s-p will no doubt reject TD/I but that does not mean the converse of that statement is true, that all who reject TD/I are necessarily P or S-P.

      Your argument simply is not valid just because you say it is.

      The highly respected, very articulate framers of this statement have adamantly disagreed with this lame assertion and to continue this line of criticism would seem to call into serious question your own qualifications to continue to speak to the issue and be taken seriously.

      ><>”

        John Carpenter

        As above, there are serious definition of semi- and full Pelagianism below. And as I comment below, initiative really isn’t the issue (at least not with Arminianism) but with who has the crucial, determinative choice: God or the sinner. The statement denies imputation of Adam’s sin (in violation of Romans 5) and that people are incapable of exercising their “free will” (a term totally absent from scripture) to choose for God; that is, it implies (at least in the denial) that people are free, unaided, to choose for God. By itself, without any other context, that’s stark Pelagianism. Perhaps the context waters it down to semi-pelagianism. But, let’s be clear, theologically sophisticated orthodox evangelicals would not write such a sentence.

          Leslie Puryear

          John,

          You may want to check out my post today on the proper definition of semi-pelag.

          Donald Holmes

          From Adam Harwood –

          Infants inherit from Adam death, not guilt. We note contra-opinions of Augustine and John Calvin, who argued and taught that sinful guilt was inherited from Adam. Calvinists cite Rom 5:12-21, where “Paul parallels the work of Adam and the work of Christ. But despite the teachings of Augustine and Calvin, Paul was not arguing for our guilt in Adam. Rom 5:12 states, ‘Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned.’ Paul connects sin to death and states that all have sinned,” We need to be careful not to read a theological system into the text of Scripture.

    Nelson Banuchi

    That is the part that caught my attention and especially when Dr. Hankins states, “But [the signers) also don’t think that most people are predestined to an eternity in hell no matter what. And they do think that every person has the opportunity to respond to the Gospel under the leadership of the Spirit who is willing to move upon the heart of anyone.”

    I applaud the signatories of the Statement, despite the criticism, for their courage to back away from such elitist and theologically flawed doctrines that would present God in such a way as having a morally opaque, if not monstrous, attitude towards those whom the Bible clearly claims he loves, that is, all men without exception.

      Bob Hadley

      Nelson,

      Thanks for your comment. Last week I read the following statement made by someone I respect highly, THEY ARE SAYING THINGS ABOUT GOD THAT THE BIBLE DOES NOT SAY! BECAUSE WHAT THEY SAY ABOUT GOD IS A REPROACH TO HIS NAME AND GLORY! I agree 1000%; it is really interesting that anyone would even dare charge God with being the One who determines who does and does not go to heaven. I believe if that statement were true, we would not be having this conversation because all would be headed there… not just the calvinist ALL either.

      Now, let me also clarify something before someone jumps in with some of this theological double-speak I have heard before… we all know that it is God who saves and that is what we ALL believe. The difference is in who does believe and who it is that determines who those who believe actually are. The issue with Calvinism, not Calvinists, is that this theology says those who believe are those God decrees will believe and those are the ones God chose to believe and they are the ONLY ones going to heaven and everyone else goes to hell. As I see the Scriptures, that is a DOG that simply will not hunt.

      One final note. I find it especially interesting that the people who are advocating that it is God and God alone that decides who will and will not be saved are the same ones saying the signatories of this statement are semi-pelagian and are therefore theologically incorrect or ignorant.

      I will agree with this; someone is indeed ignorant and incorrect.

      ><>”

Lydia

“Now, there is no doubt that we are calling into question the Calvinist-Arminian grid that sets the parameters and defines all the terms of the debate. It matters little to us that such discussions are centuries old. These abstrusely medieval, exhaustingly philosophical, and theologically troubling categories have never been comfortable for most Southern Baptists, and we have never felt bound by them. We don’t refer to them when we preach and teach, and we have been moving away from them confessionally for well over a century. Baptists weren’t afraid to walk away from Augustine and Calvin on issues of infant baptism and ecclesiology, and we have not been afraid to walk away from their soteriology, which demands that most people will not be granted the capacity to respond to the Gospel. We are calling the Augustinian-Calvinist synthesis into question not because we are spiritually immature, biblically illiterate, doctrinally cowardly, or erroneously humanistic. We are calling it into question because it is a post-biblical lens that too often distorts crucial biblical texts.”

You have no idea what a blessing it is for me to see this written by an SBC pastor! Thank you for this response.

    Jim G.

    The Augustinian model of nature-grace as well as the Augustinian model of the economy of God’s actions in and to the world both need called into serious question. It is the uncritical adoption of Augustinian categories that are front-and-center in this debate. I listed these in another post, but here are those assumptions:

    1. Augustine’s assumption of a well-ordered universe as the highest ideal of beauty, which has its sister assumption that God is the upholder of such beauty in his ad extra work.

    2. Augustine’s overemphasis on a simplistic (proto-infralapsarian) view of humanity that holds humanity as a mass of perdition while underemphasizing that the fall did not destroy human nature thereby allowing some measure of created freedom that could conflict with assumption 1.

    3. Augustine’s view of grace that demands it be dispensed through the sacraments, which leads to the precipice of theistic determinism when the election of God can only be accomplished with a right-ordering of events in space-time. (i. e. unbaptized babies go to hell)

    Many Calvinists will certainly reject much of assumption 3, but Augustine’s understanding of nature and grace (on which the Reformers were intoxicated) cannot stand without it. We must re-examine these assumptions and now would be a great time to do it!

    Jim G.

    2.

dave

maybe this whole discussion would be more fruitful if we stopped throwing around terms like “semi-pelagian” and instead said “brothers, we know that you do not believe that salvation has come by your own merit but we do not think article 2 of your confession is adequate given what the Bible says about the condemnation that Adam’s sin brings to all humanity.”

On the opposite side maybe it would be helpful to say “brothers, we recognize that you have a desire to share the Gospel with all people, however we are concerned that your views of particular redemption and unconditional election are not consistent with a free offer of the Gospel to all people, help us understand”

I am a Calvinist (mostly) who has been guilty of name calling in the past. I am sorry and will try to do better.

Joshua

Dr. Hankins,

You said: “If Dr. Mohler intends for his words to engender an irenic but honest debate of these issues…”

I present you with the words of Jerry Vines which, to my knowledge, has received no criticism from anyone of the non-Calvinist stripe.

Jerry Vines recently stated, “I have stated before, so it’s not new news, that should the SBC move toward five-point Calvinism it will be a move away from, not toward, the gospel.”

I applaud your endeavor for irenic discussion and join you in this endeavor. However, when one of the main signatories of the document associates the Calvinism of Mohler and many other Southern Baptists as something “away from, not toward, the gospel,” I am not sure I see a consistency in a desire for irenic discussion.

    CW Griffith

    Just like Dr. Mohler saying that those who want gospel committed churches must be Reformed. Pot. Kettle. Black.

    peter lumpkins

    Joshua,

    You’ve milked that cow so much the teats bleed. I thoroughly debunked your insinuation about Vines’ statement long, long ago. I think I’d change cows were I you.

    Nor is it remotely comparable to suggest as did Vines a perspective carries a less than clear understanding of the gospel with suggesting, as did Mohler, that Hankins, et al actually embrace heresy. Please.

    With that, I am…

    Peter

      John Carpenter

      So, did you ever get any corroboration of the accusation that the Liberty trustees voted unanimously to disinvite Mark Driscoll? You got so embarrassed about being asked about it, you banned those who challenged you. Not the kind of response I’d expect from someone who has proof of what he’s saying.

      The statement quoted here on sin is semi-pelagian. Just denying that fact doesn’t make it go away.

      Phil

      Peter,

      I cannot remember which blog it was on, although I have searched and searched. I’m not sure how to do all of the fancy search stuff. But didn’t you say (not specifically but please bear with me) that it is absurd for a commenter to provide a link to his/her own personal blog in a comment thread in order to prove a point? I also believe you were reprimanding Joshua for doing so. Please follow your own example.

    Joe Mcee

    Joshua

    Your response reminds me of something that politcians would say and do. When a democrat says or does something unacceptable, another democrat will defend his democratic brother by responding how some Republican did something similar years ago. (the Republicans do the same). Why not just stick with what the person in question did or stated without pointing to others people’s actions to defend them.

Josh

Dr. Hankins,

I’m not a pastor; I’m not a theologian. But I am a member of the Southern Baptist Convention. For me, the main concern over this entire debate is this: what is the end goal for the framers of the document? Surely some greater purpose is in mind, otherwise why such effort over constructing such a document and taking such a stance? Is it the intention of the framers to propose this document as a doctrinal statement that all SBC churches/members must affirm in order to remain in fellowship with the Convention? I struggle to imagine any other outcome. Debate for debate’s sake seems trivial.

If this document is paving the road for Convention-wide doctrinal affirmation, please understand the implications of broken fellowship among Jesus-loving believers it is sure to cause. In the meantime, please help us all understand where the Convention is headed—with regard to this issue—and what we can expect in the days ahead. Thank you in advance for your consideration.

In Christ,
Josh

    John Carpenter

    I think they’re just responding emotionally to the growth of something new in the SBC: greater theological depth, Biblical seriousness, thinking clearly what the Word of God says about the gospel. As Charles Spurgeon said, ‘Calvinism is just a nickname for the gospel.’ And many in the SBC just are not very clear thinking about the gospel.

      Bob Hadley

      John,

      In re-reading this statement of yours, the first sentence you wrote is absolutely correct: “they’re just responding emotionally to the growth of something new in the SBC.”

      We all agree there is a new growth. Yep. Ummmm… definitely new growth.

      ><>”

      Jack Maddox

      Josh – I share many of the concerns others have about this document. I also would be against using this document for some kind of doctrinal accountability. However, your comments are not only arrogant and immature, but quite frankly they are the very thing that the ‘traditionalist’ (their term) cite as the problem. I am a modified calvinist who will stand against any move to alienate or remove other calvinists from SBC life and leadership – I will also stand against the very theological arrogance you project in your statement.

        Mary

        Mr. Maddox, are you sure you wanted to address this to Josh?

          Mary

          or maybe Joshua and not Josh or some other J name? I thought Josh was pretty respectful myself, but the other J’s not so much. I don’t agree with what Josh is saying but he didn’t come across as some others on this thread have. JMO.

      Ken Parker

      Why the hurtful words? The implication that because I’m not a Calvinist I lack theological depth, biblical seriousness, thinking clearly what the Word of God says about the gospel. Please . . . please . . . for the very sake of the gospel let’s not paint ugly pictures of our brothers in Christ.

    Ed B

    Is anyone going to answer Josh’s question? Preferably Dr. Hankins since it was addressed to him. I thought the question was presented in a respectful manner and as a fellow layman in an SBC Church I have same question.

    All the best

    Ed B

Tim G

Joshua,
Since you are quick to signal out Vines, why have you not done the same with Mohler? His statement that Calvinism is the only place to go in true Biblical Soteriology is equal to that of which Vines stated.

Have you stated that Mohler was not consistent in his desire for an irenic discussion?

    Mary

    Tim, if we really wanted to play Tit for Tat I think Mohler would win with the number of insults he’s hurled against those outside his tribe. One of my personal Mohler favorates was something similar to the insult he hurled at Traditionalist “We’re all really Calvinists, some simply don’t know enough to understand that.” Yes that’s a paraphrase.

    My kids ar all teenagers and I keep wondering when I will get past the time that I have to say “I don’t care who started it STOP IT!”

Max

Brother Hankins –

Thank you for your clear and concise articulation pertaining to majority Southern Baptist belief and practice.

I sure hope you are planting churches!

James

In seeking to understand this perspective, I have a question for those who have signed the document (or would align themselves with it).

What is the eternal destiny of people who die without hearing the name of Jesus and are therefore never “granted the ability to respond to the Gospel”?

    John Carpenter

    Good question. Eventually their “Arminianism” (and basically that’s what it is) will lead to the same liberalism and unbelief as other Arminianisms have. It’s unreasonable to assert both that our eternal salvation ultimately rests on our own “free” choice and also that many people have lived and died without even having a chance of hearing the news and making a “free” choice. Eventually people will either see the superior reason (as well as better Biblical basis) for God’s sovereign grace, or they’ll believe that people can be saved other ways.

      Jim G.

      John,

      I have a question for you: if Arminianism causes a slide into liberalism, what is Princeton’s excuse? They had Hodge, Warfield, and Machen, didn’t they?

      Jim G.

        John Carpenter

        modernism. But if you want evidence of Arminianism leading to liberalism, go visit your local Methodist church.

          Jim G.

          So modernism does in Presbyterianism, but only Arminianism does in the Methodists. Nice….

          Explain Old Constitution United Brethren, Assemblies of God, most holiness denominations, many freewill baptists, most fundamental baptists, and on and on who remain Arminian (or closely so) and not a whiff of liberalism in sight.

          Your comment is condescending, arrogant, and historically inaccurate. And if I remember right, you like being called “Dr.”, especially by the women over at SBCTomorrow. So act like you have a terminal degree and fairly represent that which you are describing.

          Jim G.

          Patrick

          “Explain Old Constitution United Brethren, Assemblies of God, most holiness denominations, many freewill baptists, most fundamental baptists, and on and on who remain Arminian (or closely so) and not a whiff of liberalism in sight. ”

          Jim, I’d suggest you actually look at the theology of the denominations you list. Are they “liberal” as far as “social” issues go? Of course not. However, compare their actual theology to that of the United Methodists, PCUSA, ELCA and UCC.

          Lydia

          It was proclaimed by an YRR pastor on another blog a while back that there are no liberal Calvinists.

          I had to laugh because what seems to pass for “education” is often sad but amusing. The Presbyterian seminary (across the street from SBTS) in Louisville is one of my former clients. They were very liberal 20 years ago. To my knowledge they have not had a conservative resurgence. :o)

          John Carpenter

          Hi Jim G.

          The Assemblies are not all Arminian but are also very new (historically speaking) as are the holiness denominations, and I wouldn’t agree that there is not a “whiff” of liberalism in sight. In fact, I’ve published an article in response to a Pentecostal “liberal.” Given enough time, the implications of Arminianism lead to liberalism, since both are human-centered.

          My comment is true and your name calling only shows that you don’t want to deal with it right. And my doctorate is in Church History.

          John Carpenter

          Hi Lydia,

          It’s true that there are no liberal Calvinists. To be liberal is to be man-centered (as also Arminianism is). To be Calvinists is to be God centered. The Presbyterian seminary across the street was liberal, not Calvinist.

          Jim G.

          John,

          The Old Con UB goes back to the 18th century and is about as old as the MEs in America. The holiness movement goes back to the 1830s and predates the rise of Protestant liberalism. They existed before the actual founding of the SBC. Even the AoG will be 100 years old in a couple of years. I don’t know if the “new denomination” argument holds water.

          Jim G.

          John Carpenter

          Hi Jim,

          You’re obviously not a church historian.

      Tim G

      If I am following your reasoning here, you would then hold to the idea that there have been and will be babies who die in infancy that go to hell? Is this what you are saying?

        John Carpenter

        Scripture doesn’t say one way or the other, that I know of, about babies. Perhaps they are all saved by the blood of Christ. I hope so. But to reason, that we have to get babies into heaven so, (1) we reject the imputation of Adam’s sin (in Romans 5) so that (2) they can go to heaven because they haven’t sinned which means (3) that there is another way to salvation besides Christ (namely, dying before committing an actual sin), is either semi- or actually full blown Pelagianism and is a direct attack on the sacrifice of Christ on the cross.

          Alan Davis

          This is true…good response

        Alan Davis

        actually there will be no baby’s in heaven or hell… We will receive a body like unto the Son of God. I do not and can not believe based on scripture that there is this eternal baby in heaven or hell.

        The scriptures tell us we are born sinners, we don’t become sinners because we sin, we sin because we are sinners…born in iniquity, none righteous no not one.

          John Carpenter

          Good points. And assuming that those who died in infancy are in heaven, which I hope, they are there because Christ paid for their sinfulness, not because they died before they committed a specific act of sin. This is crucial and the framers of this statement don’t seem to understand how they are undermining the gospel.

      Max

      Only Jesus justly judges and graciously saves.

      Ken Parker

      John . . . I’m not a Calvinist . . . that does not then, by default, make me an Arminian. The statement “and basically that’s what it is,” may seem like a good, broad brushstroke, but to put all of us who are not 5 point Calvinists into the Arminian camp is simply erroneous.

    Alan Davis

    Well according to their articles…they can get their of their own free will….Thats the only conclusion one could come too…

    Bob Hadley

    John,

    Sir, may I ask you to share some of your “greater theological depth, Biblical seriousness, thinking clearly what the Word of God says about the gospel” with respect to James’ question. Why not let your “little light shine” as you share with the rest of us mere mortals… who knows what may happen!

    ><>”

      Tim G

      The question was NOT from a perspective of “getting anybody into heaven…” but rather the effects of your stated beliefs and the conclusions and applications of them. Should have been obvious. But I guess when one only desires to score debate points and avoid discussion one should expect this.

      Alan,
      The term “babies go to heaven…” was NOT made without knowledge that when we leave this earth we are given a new glorified body which does not reveal age.

      When my boys hit the teenage years I am thankful they were not as attacking and condescending as some of the post in this comment thread. Sad!

      A true discussion is the desire of this statement. Throwing darts as if only a few are enlightened intellectually will further the divide. When one asks a question, is it not possible to simply answer the question? I would hope so.

    Kyle Mullaney

    This has brought little clarity. Sin brings guilt. Guilt brings consequences/punishments. Death is at the very least a consequence of the son act. How is it that a consequence of a sin act, the indication of guilt, abides but guilt does not. I think the answer to questions like that will help bring clarity.
    Also, how is it that one with a sinful nature is NOT separated from fellowship with God. To have a sinful nature entails all actions to be touched by sin whether culpable not. I gues what I mean is wether or not you are morally accountable for you sin actions your sinful stains all action. That entails separation from God, does it not.
    That is the confusion create in article two, at last for me and I would LOVE an answer so I can better understand the position. That would help me make a clearer determination about it.

Darryl Hill

Here’s a suggestion: admit that article 2 is poorly worded and rewrite it.

Brad Whitt

Dr. Hankins,

Thank you for a strong, well-reasoned and Christian response to Dr. Mohler’s blog post on The Statement. Our convention desperately needs men of your caliber and commitment as we move forward to reach the whole world for Jesus. Thank you again for your leadership and courage.

John Carpenter

This explanation only digs the hole deeper. The anti-Calvinist statement says,

“We deny that Adam’s sin resulted in the incapacitation of any person’s free will or rendered any person guilty before he has personally sinned.”

This is surely a denial of the Biblical doctrine of depravity, spelled out in numerous scriptures, such as Genesis 6:5, Jeremiah 17:9, Ephesians 2:1, etc. It is also a denial of imputation of Adam’s sin found in Romans 5. Put like that, it is subject not only to semipelagian interpretation but, without context, to rank Pelagianism.

Then in this article, Dr. Hankins says, “We are all ruined by Adam’s sin. We are born with a sin nature. We all persistently, perniciously, and at every opportunity want to be Lord of our own lives. We cannot save ourselves.” If that is true, and I agree with him, how is that not a sinful condition and thus renders us guilty? If we are “ruined” then how can we respond with faith? If we are “born with a sin nature”, then how can we do something as fundamentally good as trust the Lord? If we all “want to be Lord of our own lives”, then how do we suddenly make ourselves able to declare Jesus Lord? Either God makes us born again first (1 John 5:1) or Hankins statement is false and the Pelagian statement above is true.

The tired and fundamentally ignorant statement that Calvinism “demands that most people will not be granted the capacity to respond to the Gospel” shows how little theological understanding there is on the part of the drafters of this statement. Hanskins doesn’t appear to know that some of the greatest missionaires and evangelists in church history have been Calvinists, such as George Whitefield, Jonathan Edwards, William Carey, Adorniram Judson, Charles Spurgeon, etc.

Further, it doesn’t help that Hanskins makes ahistorical and anti-intellectual statements, like calling the Calvinist-Arminian debate “medieval”. No serious historian would put the Reformation, much less the 1609 Remonstrance and 1618f Synod of Dort in the medieval period. And the attempts to sound like the drafters of the statement are above the Arminian-Calvinist fray sound only like double-talk, as though you don’t understand the implications of your own theological statements (as above illustrates). So, to be honest, No, we don’t think you recognize semipelagianism when you see it.

    alsbc623

    Mr. Carpenter:
    If you are going to call out names, it is generally a good idea to actually spell the name correctly (if you actually inadvertently spelled Dr. Hankins’ name incorrectly 2/3 of the times you wrote it.)

    I would compare that to trying to make a big exit after a debate, only to walk through the closet door…

    I am not sure if you are just being overtly disrespectful, or you are just sloppy. Either way, it doesn’t put you in a good light….

      John Carpenter

      Do you have a serious comment to make about the CONTENT of what was said?

        alsbc623

        no, I’m good…
        my experience is that your posts are generally devoid of content worthy of a comment.

        Your arrogant, careless, vitriolic, and disrespectful tone, however, is another matter altogether…

          Mary

          Call him Johnny and see what happens. He somehow doesn’t get that his posts here only confirm every criticism against SBC Calvinists.

          John Carpenter

          I just don’t think you’re being honest about what the traditionalists statement is saying. It says people have no guilt prior to their own sin (so there is no imputation of Adam’s sin, contrary to Romans 5). It says that people are not incapable of choosing God of their own free will. The question is whether it is fully Pelagian or only semi-pelagian. I think critics are being charitable by assuming it is only semi-pelagian.

          John Carpenter

          Hi alsbc623,

          That you spew insults without engaging in any serious discussion of the ideas, and then have the audacity to call others “vitriolic” and “disrespectful”, suggests you’re a hypocrite. My original statement had plenty of content for you to engage if you felt like doing so.

          Mary

          Keep ranting Johnny, you’re doing great work here. It just doesn’t happen to be helping the Calvinists any.

          Les

          Hi Mary. Great to see you over here engaging the discussion.

          Les

          Mary,

          I almost forgot. You are doing some jam up reporting over at the west GA hangout.

        Mary

        And Les, it’s nice to see how consistent you Calvinists are in calling out bad acts. Consistent in not calling out Calvinists behaving badly.

        Don’t worry about Johny C. though he’s determined I’m not even saved and that I have sexual hangups because I think Mark Driscoll is a misogynist jerk. Classy guy is that Johnny C.!

          Mary

          Yeah Les, I’m really sad that there are no more like buttons. I was the Queen of Like over in W. GA for a while there.

    Godismyjudge

    “The tired and fundamentally ignorant statement that Calvinism “demands that most people will not be granted the capacity to respond to the Gospel” shows how little theological understanding there is on the part of the drafters of this statement.”

    This is not a miss-representation of Calvinism. Per Calvinism, the non-elect are totally depraved and don’t have prevenient grace or regeneration and therefore cannot respond to the Gospel.

    The original point of the statement was to discuss Calvinism. Let’s not get overly distracted with charges of Semi-Pelagianism, shall we?

    God be with you,
    Dan

      John Carpenter

      It’s a total misrepresentation of the Calvinism as any fair minded person with a knowledge of Church history would have to admit. Note the important Calvinist evangelists and missinaries I named. Basically, the modern missionary movement is the product of Calvinists.

        Godismyjudge

        John,

        Missions is a red hearing. The statement was about the non-elects inability to respond. Which do you disagree with:

        1) the non-regenerate cannot believe in Christ
        2) the non-elect are not and will never be regenerate?

        God be with you,
        Dan

          John Carpenter

          Both are true. And both are Biblical. But both are beside the point as we don’t know who the elect and reprobate are. So we preach the gospel freely to all, with hopes and prayers that God will use it to bring those who are elect to Himself. That’s what you’ll find in the Bible (particularly Acts). And that’s what drove the first modern missionaries.

          It’s not a red herring that the modern missions movement arose from Calvinists because it proves that Calvinism does not discourage evangelism.

          Godismyjudge

          John,

          If both are true, then you can’t avoid the conclusion that that Calvinism “demands that most people will not be granted the capacity to respond to the Gospel”.

          God be with you,
          Dan

          Les

          Dan,

          I agree with John that both are true. I disagree with you that the result of those truths “demands that most people will not be granted the capacity to respond to the Gospel”.

          Many Calvinists are postmillennial or amillennial and most see a great harvest of souls over the many centuries ahead of us. Loraine Boettner writes well,

          “The writer of the Apocalypse says: ‘I saw, and behold, a great multitude, which no man could number, out of every nation and of all the tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, arrayed in white robes, and palms in their hands; and they cried with a great voice, saying, Salvation unto our God who sitteth on the throne, and unto the Lamb’ (Rev. 7:9,10). God has chosen to redeem untold millions of the human race. Just what proportion of the race has been included in His purposes of mercy, we have not been informed; but in view of the future days of prosperity which are promised to the Church, it may be inferred that much the greater part eventually will be found among that number. Assuming that those who die in infancy are saved, as most churches have taught and as most theologians have believed, already much the larger proportion of the human race has been saved.”

          I agree!

          John Carpenter

          Only those who are born again can respond to the gospel (1 John 5:1). To deny that is to make salvation something we can earn by making the right choice, which Paul explicitly denies in Romans 9:16.

          As for “most people”, the Lord Jesus told us about that in Matthew 7:13 “the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many.”

        Godismyjudge

        Les,

        Fair point, thought that\’s somewhat of a technicality. But if we want to get into the weeds, even if infants are saved, they still don\’t have the capacity to respond to the Gospel and are simply saved in spite of that.

        Still overall, I think it\’s probably better to exclude infants from this statement – see John Carpenter\’s quotation from Christ on the wide road.

        God be with you,
        Dan

          Les

          Dan,

          My intent wasn’t to bring infants to the discussion, though I happen to believe that all infants dying in infancy are elect and go to be with Jesus. Discussion for another day.

          My point was/is that many Calvinists do not see a small number over all of history in the kingdom, contra the assertion of the statement. many of us see the great multitude Boettner describes from the Rev. passage.

          Les

          Dan, and to John’s quote, I do not think that necessarily is intended to provide a sort of quantitative analysis of how vastly or not heaven will be populated.

          Les

          John Carpenter

          Hi Les,

          I cut off the quote in the middle: “For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14 For the gate is narrow and hthe way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.”

          “Many” and “few” are proportional terms, especially when used in contrast to each other, as here. It’s true, as you rightly quote from Revelation, that there will be a vast number in heaven. But it appears, sadly, there will be more elsewhere.

      Patrick

      Way to show your complete and utter lack of theological understanding there, Dan!

        P Via

        Apparently the Bible is Pelagian or S. P. because “few” are able to find the narrow way?

        14 For the gate is narrow and hthe (sic) way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.”

        They shouldn’t be able to find anything. They are dead in sins and do not know anywhere to go, nor can they go anywhere

        alsbc623

        Patrick,
        Could you explain to me how your comment to Dan exemplifies Col. 4:6?

        Ken Parker

        My brother, please let us talk through the issues without resorting to insults. I’m sure you’re a fair-minded man . . . let’s get back to talking about the issues.

Braxton

This is an excellent response. If anyone hereafter takes issue with article two after the architect has made his meaning and intention clear, it would require a careful consideration regarding wording. Accusing him of holding to constructs that he denies here would represent an attempt to force a view on Dr. Hankins to which he does not subscribe. There are, no doubt, many on both sides of this discussion who would prefer that these matters were kept out of the collective SBC’s field of vision. Nevertheless, it truly is time to talk. Rather than avoid it any longer, it is my hope that the SBC can just “have it out” in an academic, loving and appropriate way (even if it is a spirited discussion).

    John Carpenter

    It’s not an excellent response. It says that either he (1) doesn’t understand the theological implications of the Pelagian denial of depravity or (2) that he’s just doing double-talk. When one makes a theological problematic statement, one can’t just say “it means what I think it means at any given time”. It means what it says on paper. And what it says is that they don’t believe in the Biblical teaching of original sin, depravity, imputation, etc.

John Carpenter

Current Southern Baptist ideas about salvation are a hodge-podge of contradictory propositions, each geared to elicit the best numerical response at an altar call (but not necessarily to make disciples). Their ideas emphasize the need of an immediate decision to their message, which anyone is capable to doing, which grants an eternal reward that can never be lost. The lost sinner has a free will to choose for Christ but the person who’s prayed the “sinner’s prayer” has no free will to apostatize. It’s frankly absurd to say that the unsaved sinner has “free will” to be saved but the professed Christian has no free will to fall away. But it sells well: it’s the evangelistic equivalent of a full warranty. To call their theology “Arminian” would be an insult to the intellectual consistency of Arminianism.

    Jonathan S. Jenkins

    John,

    While I disagree with your theological assessment/responses to almost every affirmative post on this article, I have 2 bigger issues. How do you have so much time on your hands to be the Calvinist hall monitor on this blog, and 2ndly how can you think it is a good use of your time to play that role.?

    The tenor of none of your posts seems like an effort to engage in the theological discussion, it seems like your struggling to stop just shy of condemning all of the authors, signers, and affirmers to hell, over a different stance on a secondary aspect of theology that you disagree with.

    I hope you will reflect on your tone if nothing else as it is not helping if you true hope is too engage and not condemn a differing side of the theological conversation.

    Praying for you and us all in the SBC as we engage these discussions.

      John Carpenter

      That’s not helpful at all. If you have some ideas to discuss, then do so. If you don’t like absurdities being called absurdities, then go do something else.

        Leslie Puryear

        So if I understand what you are saying, you’re saying that 5 SBC presidents, 2 seminary presidents and scores of seminary professors don’t understand semi-pelaginism and you do? Am I correct in what you are saying?

          Stephen

          Is the ‘Traditional Statement’ supposed to be an authoritative declaration of Baptist leaders or is it supposed to be “an opportunity to more carefully express what is generally believed by Southern Baptists about salvation” and, I therefore infer, a chance to discuss how careful they have actually expressed their beliefs?

          Mary

          Hey Les, is it six seminaries? Southern, Souteastern, Southwestern (We should dump those south names as they are soooooo offensive!), Midwest, New Orleans, and Golden Gate?

          Two are openly Calvinist. Midwesten doesn’t currently have a President? And is Golden Gate pretty much Calvinist? I know they luuvvve James White at Golden which someone needs to address.

          Mary

          And Les I forgot to ask, how many of those SBC Presidents have doctorates in theology? I know Dr. Patterson, Dr. Vines and then all the other Drs. who signed. And you know these guys have real doctorates from accredited schools – not one of those store front doctor mills.

          I think I’ll wander over to see what Dr. Lumpkins is doing – his doctorate is from that lowly institution THE Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. I know you’ve probably “heard” how he was a Calvinist back there at Southern. Just FYI!

        John Carpenter

        Hi Leslie,

        First, SBC presidents aren’t theological scholars and are you aware that there are at least 5 SBC seminaries which means they couldn’t get 3 of them to sign. Elsewhere, we’ve commented on the theological poverty of the SBC.

        There are two separate definitions of semi-pelagians below from good sources. The anti-Calvinist statement clearly fits and just denying it isn’t answer it. Mr. Hankins article above makes no serious attempt to show that the statement isn’t Pelagian. It just denies it. That’s not convincing.

        Jonathan S. Jenkins

        So calling belief systems different than yours absurdities is helpful? Trolling a site to be condescending to people is helpful? Brother, I do not need that kind of help, I get enough of it from arrogant, people outside of the church.

        I apologize for my raising of my two issues with you it was off base and unnecessary to main point of your tone. the idea I am getting from your continued smug, arrogant, elitist tone is that you like to talk at people not to or with them and that is sad because it is not the picture I see of discipleship or education in Scripture.

Mary

Perhaps SBC Today could post Dr. Yarnell’s response to the cries of semi-Pelegianism? It would be good to have all this information in one place.

John Carpenter

I got a BA in Religion at a Southern Baptist college in the ’80s and it was mostly devoid of any theology. Danny Akin, of SEBTS, complained that the education he got at Southwestern was mostly empty theologically. Part of the way that Southern Baptist institutions remained neutral was simply to make very few theological claims at all. And so, when they feel challenged to do so, such as in this statement, they show themselves to be embarrassingly ill-prepared.

    Darryl Hill

    Hey John, I got a Masters in Christian Ed from Southwestern and my experience is similar to yours. That which I’ve learned of theology has been since then and mostly from my own readings. When I was at Southwestern (1997-1999) Calvinism was a dirty word and these soteriological issues were avoided. As you say, they just didn’t take a stand on anything. It’s amazing to me that I took a course in Pauline Epistles and the doctrine of election was given so little treatment.

      John Carpenter

      Agreed! I don’t want to totally discount my Baptist education. They taught me Greek, which is great help. And some basic Bible content. And I have to admit that a lot of Calvinists have the opposite problem: always teaching theology and sometimes rarely getting to the exposition of the Bible. But Baptists have been theologically deficient and it shows here.

    Lydia

    “I got a BA in Religion at a Southern Baptist college in the ’80s and it was mostly devoid of any theology.”

    I hope there wasn’t any subsidizing of your tuition by the ignorant non Calvinist tithers! LOL!

Chris Twilley

I agree with Al Mohler. The statement is ‘semi-pelagian’ and you haven’t successfully explained how it is not. Ephesians 2 is the clearest text. In verse one it says ‘We were dead in trangressions and sins’ and verse 5 says, ‘But God made us alive.’ We were dead (that means incapible, that we have no ability, because of our sin nature). God’s Grace ‘Makes us alive’ in the miracle of conversion. That is why He gets all the credit and all the glory.

    John Carpenter

    You’re right. The statement is semi-pelagian and Hankins statement here is just a denial of that fact, not an explanation of how the statement can possibly be interpreted in a non-semi-pelagian way or how it does justice to the many scriptures on sin, imputation, and depravity.

Darryl Hill

Dr Hankins wrote…
“It is likely that he means salvation is for any person who has been pre-temporally chosen out of the mass of humanity, the rest of whom will be passed over for salvation, never to be granted the ability to respond to the Gospel, no matter what. ”

Do you mean this?

Romans 8
29 For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren;
30 and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.

Yes, chosen from before the foundation of the world. He foreknew THEM, not their choice- and then He predestined them to be born again. And then, in real time, He called them and justified them. This is the work of God.

And yes, it’s very simple to understand how Dr Mohler could make the statement that he rejoices that “the proclamation of the Gospel is God’s means of bringing any person to salvation.” How? God not only ordains the ends but also the means of salvation. God ordains that someone would be sent to preach the Gospel to that person- and yes, it could be ANY person. We do not have power over that. We preach the Gospel to all. The message is proclaimed to ALL. Who is saved is God’s business, but the ordained method is the Gospel.

Again, there is a vast misunderstanding of what sovereign grace is really about. Most of the time, people find themselves battling straw men of their own making, caricatures of the doctrines of grace.

Another example: irresistible grace. The caricature is that God drags men, kicking and screaming, against their own will, into the Kingdom OR that God stiff arms those who desperately desire to repent and come to Him because they’re not “chosen.” These are ludicrous.

Another example: that sovereign grace means no free choice. Of course man must make a choice at the moment of salvation. And of course it is a free choice with no sense of coercion involved. The point here is that man’s will is enslaved to sin and that given that choice, EVERY natural man will choose sin and self over repentance and belief. As Luther explained in the Bondage of the Will and others (Jonathan Edwards, Freedom of the Will) stated, man’s will must be set free from the bondage of sin before he will ever (of his own accord) choose life. That is what regeneration is all about. The thing that I would deny about free will is that no person has libertarian free will- absolute freedom to choose and do anything he wants at any time. Only God has that. Most theologians would deny that regardless of their other beliefs.

There are so many misunderstandings floating around here about what the Doctrines of Grace (Calvinism is a poor description) are really all about. I suppose this discussion can be good if it clears some things up between the sides. By the way, I was on the other side just about 7 years ago but (I would say) God has changed my mind. But I was constantly attacking straw men myself in those days- I’d create a caricature of Calvinism and then blast it to oblivion. It’s great fun, but useless.

    John Carpenter

    Hi Darryl,

    Good post of yours. Thanks for it. I especially liked, “man’s will must be set free from the bondage of sin before he will ever (of his own accord) choose life. ” This John mentions in 1 John 5:1.
    Keep up the good work!

      Darryl Hill

      Thanks John. You know, I understand the frustrations of those who feel they’re being attacked or that their faith is being attacked. I felt the same way. It’s funny, when a student of mine came to me with this, I was offended, spouted of my age and degrees, and wanted to know how he dared to question me. The debate raged on for about a month in an online blog of his, and when I could no longer honestly defend my position in light of the mounting evidence, I deleted all my posts, took my ball, and went home. But God was already at work. Actually, though I couldn’t deny it intellectually, I still hated it for well over a year before God changed my heart. So, I’m no longer ashamed of the Gospel, for it is the power of God unto salvation for all who believe. :-)

        John Carpenter

        I considered myself “Arminian” even after completing my M.Div. (I couldn’t go for the “traditional Southern Baptist” stuff because it is too self-contradictory to assert that people have a “free will” as sinner to trust the Lord but then no free will to apostacize.) I changed my mind when teaching a Bible college course on Romans. Romans 9:16 — “it does not depend on human will or exertion” — is just too over-whelming. Either one rejects the Bible or one rejects Arminianism (and the “traditional view”).

    Jon

    Darryl,

    Great response. I too was very opposed to “Calvinism” as a young believer. But one day as I was studying Romans 9, in my apartment at NOBTS, God showed me, in His Word, that He was Soveriegn over all things including my salvation. I later had to confess to the church that I was pastoring that my theological and doctrinal position on salvation had changed. Since then, we have seen a great growth in the understanding of Scripture as a Church not just merely individuals. We understand that apart from the calling of Christ we would remain in our sin, having been born in sin (Rom. 5). We are slaves to sin until Christ frees us to become slaves to righteousness (Rom. 6 & 7). We are then set on a path of becoming conformed to the image of Chrsit, just as we had been predestined to do in the foreknowledge of God (Rom. 8).
    Right on Brother. Keep preaching the Truth.

    John,
    I am glad you are sharing the truth. The truth hurts, but the Gospel of John tells us that the “truth will set us free.” Knowing God is Soveriegn over all things and situations brings a great deal of freedom. Don’t you think?

Alan Davis

Here is what we mean and what we will be glad to debate: We are all ruined by Adam’s sin. We are born with a sin nature. We all persistently, perniciously, and at every opportunity want to be Lord of our own lives. We cannot save ourselves. The power of the Gospel through the initiative and drawing of the Holy Spirit is our only hope, and it alone is sufficient to pierce our spiritual darkness and rescue us. But our real response to the Gospel of Christ in the power of the Spirit matters to God.
If this is what you intended to say then why didnt you say it instead of…
“We affirm that, because of the fall of Adam, every person inherits a nature and environment inclined toward sin and that every person who is capable of moral action will sin. Each person’s sin alone brings the wrath of a holy God, broken fellowship with Him, ever-worsening selfishness and destructiveness, death, and condemnation to an eternity in hell.

We deny that Adam’s sin resulted in the incapacitation of any person’s free will or rendered any person guilty before he has personally sinned. While no sinner is remotely capable of achieving salvation through his own effort, we deny that any sinner is saved apart from a free response to the Holy Spirit’s drawing through the Gospel.”

Alan Davis

Which one is REALLY traditional?

Principles of Faith of the Sandy Creek Association:
Article III. That Adam fell from his original state of purity, and that his sin is imputed to his posterity; that human nature is corrupt, and that man, of his own free will and ability, is impotent to regain the state in which he was primarily placed.

The “New Traditionalist Baptist View”
“We deny that Adam’s sin resulted in the incapacitation of any person’s free will or rendered any person guilty before he has personally sinned. While no sinner is remotely capable of achieving salvation through his own effort, we deny that any sinner is saved apart from a free response to the Holy Spirit’s drawing through the Gospel.”

So by my will I can be saved? And I’m innocent till I sin, making the possibility of perfection?

(Joh 1:12-13) But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:(13) Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

Alan Davis

This should be good enough…it IS what we have agreed to already.
IV. Salvation

Salvation involves the redemption of the whole man, and is offered freely to all who accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour, who by His own blood obtained eternal redemption for the believer. In its broadest sense salvation includes regeneration, justification, sanctification, and glorification. There is no salvation apart from personal faith in Jesus Christ as Lord.

A. 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.

Repentance is a genuine turning from sin toward God. Faith is the acceptance of Jesus Christ and commitment of the entire personality to Him as Lord and Saviour.

B. Justification is God’s gracious and full acquittal upon principles of His righteousness of all sinners who repent and believe in Christ. Justification brings the believer unto a relationship of peace and favor with God.

C. Sanctification is the experience, beginning in regeneration, by which the believer is set apart to God’s purposes, and is enabled to progress toward moral and spiritual maturity through the presence and power of the Holy Spirit dwelling in him. Growth in grace should continue throughout the regenerate person’s life.

    Randall Cofield

    Indeed. That this new “Statement” is in disagreement with the Baptist Faith and Message is disturbing. That its framers seem unaware of this is downright ominous…

Brad Bunting

“And they do think that every person has the opportunity to respond to the Gospel under the leadership of the Spirit who is willing to move upon the heart of anyone.”

Just to be clear, you surely aren’t implying that “every person has the opportunity to respond to the Gospel…”, are you?

Alan Davis

Put these side by side and it looks kinda close.

Semi-Pelagianism as defined by Dutch theologian Herman Bavinck in volume III of Reformed Dogmatics:

According to semi-Pelagianism, the consequences of Adam’s fall consisted for him and his descendants, aside from death, primarily in the weakening of moral strength. Though there is actually no real original sin in the sense of guilt, there is a hereditary malady: as a result of Adam’s fall, humanity has become morally sick; the human will has been weakened and is inclined to evil. There has originated in humans a conflict between “flesh” and “spirit” that makes it impossible for a person to live without sin; but humans can will the good, and when they do, grace comes to their assistance in accomplishing it.

New Traditionalist view:
We affirm that, because of the fall of Adam, every person inherits a nature and environment inclined toward sin and that every person who is capable of moral action will sin. Each person’s sin alone brings the wrath of a holy God, broken fellowship with Him, ever-worsening selfishness and destructiveness, death, and condemnation to an eternity in hell.
We deny that Adam’s sin resulted in the incapacitation of any person’s free will or rendered any person guilty before he has personally sinned. While no sinner is remotely capable of achieving salvation through his own effort, we deny that any sinner is saved apart from a free response to the Holy Spirit’s drawing through the Gospel.

    John Carpenter

    Good evidence. It shows that the anti-Calvinist statement is definitely semi-pelagian and so we ask Pastor Hankins why he won’t just admit that.

    Jim G.

    Did you catch the end of Bavinck’s statement? It reads

    “But humans can will the good, and when they do, grace comes to their assistance in accomplishing it.”

    Nowhere do the traditionalists affirm the most important plank in the SP platform, the latter clause “when they do, grace comes to their assistance.” THAT is what makes someone a semi-Pelagian. EVERYTHING in Bavinck’s paragraph leads up to that crucial sentence, and NOWHERE – do you hear? – NOWHERE (I am shouting for I fear some of you are hard of hearing) does the traditionalist statement affirm it. To keep insisting this is SP reveals more about the bias and motive of the accuser than anything else. Let’s put this tired accusation to bed.

    By the way, if you really think the traditionalists are heretics denying the faith, why on earth do you want to fellowship with them?

    Jim G.

      John Carpenter

      I just don’t think you’re being honest about what the traditionalists statement is saying. It says people have no guilt prior to their own sin (so there is no imputation of Adam’s sin, contrary to Romans 5). It says that people are not incapable of choosing God of their own free will. The question is whether it is fully Pelagian or only semi-pelagian. I think critics are being charitable by assuming it is only semi-pelagian.

        Jim G.

        John,

        “I just don’t think you are being honest”

        Calling me a liar (along with a heretic) isn’t helping, and there is no need to respond to you any further.

        Jim G.

          John Carpenter

          The statement says what it says: that people have no guilt prior to their own sin; that people are not incapable of choosing God of their own free will. Not being willing to admit that is what is says makes progress impossible.

John Carpenter

Besides the problematic statement denying the Biblical doctrine of depravity, the statement makes salvation depend on the man’s will, in direct contradiction to Romans 9:16: salvation “depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy.”

The major question to those who drafted this statement: Why don’t you believe this scripture?

    Alan Davis

    Good question

    Godismyjudge

    John,

    So do you think the verse is saying no one chooses Christ?

    God be with you,
    Dan

      John Carpenter

      Hi,

      No, everyone who believes chooses Christ. What Romans 9:16 says is that our salvation doesn’t depend on our choice. The confusion is over causation. Does our choice cause God’s grace to be effective in our life (Arminianism) or does God’s grace cause our faith? Romans 9:16 says that our salvation doesn’t depend on our “will”, wish, choice. It depends on God’s mercy. When God has mercy on us, then we believe. In 1 John 5:1, everyone who is born of God (first) then believes. Our faith is a product of God giving us new life.

        Godismyjudge

        John,

        Arminians agree that our faith does not cause salvation. Rather, God chooses to have mercy on believers.

        Also, 1 John 5:1 does not say we are regenerated first. In Greek, the timing of the regeneration is pegged to the writing of the epistle (i.e. they believed before John wrote the letter) rather than to the timing of the conversion of John’s audience.

        God be with you,
        Dan

          Godismyjudge

          Correction (i.e. they *were born again*before John wrote the letter)

          God be with you,
          Dan

          John Carpenter

          Hi Dan,

          Arminians don’t agree that our faith does not cause salvation. For Arminianism, the faith of the person is the ultimate, determinative reason of why one person is saved and another is not. That’s the crucial difference. Even the “foreknowledge”, is foreknowledge of future faith, in Arminianism.

          1 John 5:1 says, “Everyone [not just recipients of his letter] who believes [present tense, now] that Jesus is the Christ has been born [perfect tense, completed action in the past, prior to believing] of God [His work, not ours], . . . ” That is, regeneration precedes faith and makes faith possible.

Alan Davis

It also seems a little disingenuous of Dr. Hankin to portray the “denials” as the Calvinism he seems to want to battle. The denials seem as a set-up and I personally don’t know of a calvinist in Baptist circles that holds to some of this.
It would also seem somewhat of an elitist also for making it appear we must swallow this because of who signed it. I would take CH Spurgeon over any of these men any day if it was to come down to following a man but it isn’t about following Dr. Hankin, Dr Vines or Dr Moler…it is about following Jesus who I can personally read of without any of these mens input and have the capability of interrupting the scripture without following them. No discount of their abilitys, just scriptural truth.

W B McCarty

I’m relieved to hear the label “Semi-Pelagian” disclaimed. But I would be more relieved if I could hear the substance of that label disclaimed.

The essence of Semi-Pelagianism is the doctrine that men, though having a corrupted nature, are able to call out to God for salvation apart from any special work of the Spirit. That is, though they cannot save themselves, they can initiate their salvation.

Dr. Hankins disclaimed the ability of men to save themselves. But he did not disclaim the ability of men to initiate their salvation. It is at precisely this point that the statement is inadequate in the opinion of its critics.

Has Dr. Hankins simply overlooked the need to disclaim this point? Or, is he deliberately distracting attention from the point in order to express a Semi-Pelagian view without the onerous label? I don’t know Dr. Hankins. But, as a SBC brother, he is entitled to my presumption that he simply overlooked this point. Nevertheless, I would be greatly relieved if he and others who signed the statement would simply deny, in straightforward fashion, that man is not only unable to save himself but also cannot initiate his salvation apart from special grace.

May I humbly ask that he and the other signers offer this denial?

Blessings in Christ,

    John Carpenter

    You are irenic. Perhaps I’m more cynical but I have a hard time seeing how the denial of the “Semi-Pelagian” without a renunciation of the Semi-Pelagian statement is just double-talk.

    Successful theological debate depends on the integrity of all the parties to accept the truth — in this case, that they issued a “Semi-Pelagian” statement — when they are confronted with it. Alan Davis, at 2:01 above, proves that.

      Ron

      John Carpenter,
      Is your church ..Covenant Reformed Baptist Church a SBC congregation?

        John Carpenter

        We originally joined the SBC but stopped participating in our association and sending in money to the Cooperative Fund because, as a church plant, we were getting no help from them and when we decided to buy a local gym, that happened to be near an established SBC church, the association opposed us. So much for being “Great Commission” people. I wish the association had worked out but it didn’t.

        Brad Whitt

        Thanks Ron for asking this question. I think since this is a discussion within the Southern Baptist family, only those who are “kin” should be around the table discussing these issues. If you are not a Southern Baptist then you really have no business nosing into a family talk.

          Les

          Well, Brad. What constitutes being the SBC family? Member or minister of a SBC church? Denominational EE? How about “kin” who are in one of those categories?

          I am not now a member of a SBC church. In your opinion, should I be able to participate?

          Thanks,

          Les

          John Carpenter

          It’s just that kind of attitude that resulted in us leaving the SBC.

          volfan007

          Sometimes, subtraction is a good thing.

          David

          Les

          David, not kind.

          Mary

          David, I LOL at your comment and Les’ response. It’s funny to see how Calvinists like to defend their own but refuse to call out someone like Johnny C. who in this thread has posted such vitriolic attacks against Traditionalists.

          I don’t know if you remember the Liberty Blow up at Peter’s but Johnny C. got so mean and nasty Peter had to ban him. He was SO bad, David, that Debbie Kaufman was defending ME!

          John Carpenter

          Hi Mary,

          That’s inaccurate. Peter Lumpkins banned me from commenting because I kept asking him for corroboration for the rumors he was spreading about Liberty. He couldn’t provide any proof and so, instead of apologizing for rumor mongering, he silenced those calling for him to prove his accusations.

          Your disrespectful attitude is sad. Your accusation that I’ve been “vitriolic” is false.

          Mary

          Johnny, the evidence of your vitriol is posted here for all to see and you are mistaken, Peter banned you because you continued to attack me after he told you to stop. Of course you want to pretend otherwise. I think Lydia and maybe even Jim G. will remember the hate and vitriol you were spewing. I’m sure Peter remembers as well.

    Alan Davis

    I agree WB, these are our brothers and I will give leeway (and hope they will do the same) but some questions need to be answered and just more than a denial of things that are already written.

      Lydia

      “Your disrespectful attitude is sad. Your accusation that I’ve been “vitriolic” is false.”

      Mary, In case you did not get the memo, John gets to decide what is disrespectful toward him and is the arbiter of what is vitriolic. You should just be thankful you did not wander into his church, get love bombed and then sign a membership covenant so he would eventually “discipline” you. That sort of thing has happened to a lot of other people who found they could not leave without these guys nipping at their heels to “make them submit to our discipline for sinning by questioning the great leader”

      See? There is a bright side to this.

        Mary

        Lydia, careful, Johnny may declare that you are unsaved just like he did me.

        It’s interesting how the Calvinists act on a site where no one trying to keep them on a leash so as to not show how mean and nasty Calvinists can be. That must really bother some in Louisville who can’t just pick up the phone and say “Hey, those Calvinists are making us look bad, tighten that leash!”

          Les

          Mary and Lydia,

          It is kind of amusing watching you two carry on. You seem so concerned with vitriol and attacks, etc. over here. Yet any even casual observer over at your west GA hangout will easily see far worse from you.

          John has strong opinions and challenges assertions and lack of substantive responses on these serious theological matters.

          I’m reminded of that great quote by a famous lawman,

          “Now, men, I have just one thing to say. This isn’t gonna be kid’s stuff, and you’ll be on your own, and there will be no mollycoddling.”

          Les

        Mary

        Lydia, I get the feeling Les doesn’t want us to come play at the Pravda playground anymore. But take Heart Lydia, this is from the man who agrees that this traditionalists statement is as violent as the violence in Israel. Maybe we wimmins folk should wander back to W. GA for our safety.

          Les

          Mary,

          “Lydia, I get the feeling Les doesn’t want us to come play at the Pravda playground anymore.”

          Oh no. Come on over and jump in the fray. Double dog dare ya!

          And that feeling? Could be a virus or something.

          And the Israel violence thing? Much ado about nothing. I saw no foul there.

    W B McCarty

    John, I understand your concern. And I read Bavinck as you and Alan do. But I have hope that some who signed or affirmed the statement may disclaim the essence of Semi-Pelagianism, notwithstanding our interpretation of the statement. That would be a positive outcome, would it not? And, if others are unwilling to offer such a denial, at least the issue has been clarified and narrowed to a single theological proposition: Does man have the ability to initiate his own salvation without special enabling grace (other than the Gospel itself, of course)?

    Technically, I’m asking for an affirmation of some sort of prevenient grace. But, like the term “Semi-Pelagian,” the term “prevenient grace” has become loaded. Some who would disclaim the label might affirm the doctrine. At least, I hope that’s the case.

    Blessings,

      John Carpenter

      To move them to affirming some doctrine of universal prevenient grace is, I suppose, progress. It’s to move them from semi-pelagianism to Arminianism. But it’s not much progress.

      To me, denying the “Semi-Pelagian” label while still clinging to the substance suggests either incorrigible ignorance or a worse character problem: a lack of integrity. And lack of integrity makes successful theological dialogue impossible.

      W B McCarty

      John, the term “prevenient grace” is commonly understood as peculiar to Wesleyanism. But the term has a longer history and properly refers generally to any special grace by means of which the sinner is, shall we amicably say, awakened. Thus, even Calvinists affirm prevenient grace though they might disclaim the term.

      Blessings,

      Mary

      Mr. McCarty, have you read Malcom Yarnell’s response on his blog regarding the charge of semi-Pelegianism? I think he might answer your questions.

      I hope SBC Today will post it here.

    Godismyjudge

    WB,

    He said the Holy Spirit takes the initiative through drawing. I think the word initiative is there to answer this very objection.

    God be with you,
    Dan

      John Carpenter

      The crucial issue is not initiative but who’s choice is finally determinative. That is, whose will is ultimately done: God’s will or human will. One could argue, as some Arminians do, that God takes the “initiave” with everyone (in the form of prevenient grace) but then leaves the final choice up to the individual. That’s the crucial issue that divides Arminianism (including this statement) and the Biblical gospel. Romans 9:16 answers that question emphatically.

        W B McCarty

        John, I understand your position and your concern. But, at this point I’m not concerned to argue for Calvinism versus non-Calvinism. I can happily work with non-Calvinist SBC members. In fact, the whole point of the SBC is cooperation among men who agree the BFM but may disagree on other matters, even matters they deem important.

        Therefore, my current concern is ONLY with the issue of semi-Pelagianism and the ambiguity, as I see it, of the statement on that point. Frankly, I think that advocacy of Calvinism, and of non-Calvinism, are alike counter-productive at this time. That conversation is one that can appropriately be pursued later, among brothers, when the specter of semi-Pelagianism has been put to rest.

        So, the only point that now concerns me is whether we can all agree that some special grace, call it what you will or call it nothing in particular, precedes the sinner’s response to the Gospel. I’m comfortable with the term “prevenient grace” which, as I recall, translates a Latin phrase used by Augustine and thus has a very long-toothed pedigree.

        Blessings,

      W B McCarty

      GodIsMyJudge, yes he did say that. But please see what I wrote, below.

      I think that clause in question is ambiguous and the unfortunate ambiguity seems to me the cause of much misunderstanding. Men with one sort of background tend to interpret the clause one way, honestly I’m sure, whereas men of another background tend to interpret it another way, with equal honesty.

      Please be reminded that I have extended the presumption of theological orthodoxy and that I make no accusation. But I would be greatly relieved if the clause in question could be clarified.

      To speak to one possible elephant in the room, I’m not alleging negligence in construction of the statement. I fully realize how inhumanly difficult it is to precisely and correctly summarize a biblical doctrine. For my own part, I hope I can be trusted when I write that I ask for clarification only because, in all sincerity, the language seems to me unclear.

      Blessings,

alsbc623

Dr. Hankins wrote: “…We cannot save ourselves. The power of the Gospel through the initiative and drawing of the Holy Spirit is our only hope…”

What part of “initiative and drawing of the Holy Spirit” do you disconnect with that would prompt you to write “But he did not disclaim the ability of men to initiate their salvation.”

http://www.dictionary.com is a link that I feel would help you in future postings, to help you learn the definitions and usages of words such as “initiative” and “drawing”, and phrases like “only hope”.

    John Carpenter

    But if someone can die before committing their own sin (since there is no imputation of Adam’s sin), then aren’t they saved? That is, if someone dies before committing their own sin they are saved based on their own sinlessness? Isn’t that what the statement suggests? And so isn’t there another hope besides Christ? And so the gospel isn’t the only hope? There are two hopes: 1. dying young and 2. the gospel. And, of course, it won’t be but a couple of generations before people start adding to that list.

    And that’s not to mention the problem that people “dead in their sins” will not respond to the initiative and drawing of the Holy Spirit unless the Spirit regenerates first (1 John 5:1.)

      alsbc623

      points to certainly ponder, to be sure. Truth is, I don’t have the answer to that or many other tough questions. I do know one thing; call me a coward if you will, but I would not want to be the one to go to a couple of parents that just lost their week-old child unexpectedly and tell them that their child may or may not have made it on “the list”. God thankfully has that contingency covered in whatever way He, in His infinite, unfathomable wisdom sees fit. Romans 3:23 sums up how I feel about the above; I don’t have the answer. There are just questions that are above ALL of our pay-grades…

      What happens to the countless millions throughout time that never heard or will hear the Gospel message? Are they condemned to hell just because they never heard the Gospel Message (yes, I am familiar with Romans 1:19-20). I don’t know. Again, God’s got that covered too. There are questions on both sides of the debate that people infinitely smarter than me have been pondering and debating for centuries. Yes, we all deserve eternal separation from God. Anyone that receives God’s unmerited favor is far more ahead of the game than they deserve to be. Not you, me, or anyone else knows for sure how God will handle the “what about…” scenarios. ONLY GOD KNOWS, and we won’t know for sure until we see Him face to face.

      My ire is up from listening ad nauseum to individuals so enamored with their knowledge (on BOTH sides of the equation) that they spend so much time researching and retorting that they miss the main thing. They also feel that they are so “enlightened” that all others that don’t’ think the same exact way they do are duped, dumb, or doomed.

      Question: When is the last time you (in a general sense) have picked up the phone and called a senior adult or a widow for no other reason than to listen to them? When is the last time you have sought out a young person; not the promising young valedictorian, but the troubled youth with a single parent that none really wants to associate with, and took them out for coffee to counsel and mentor them? If any or all of you are doing the above with the same passion that you are blogging and flogging, then rock on. If not, then maybe a reevaluation of time and focus priorities is in order…

      It hacks me off that people’s actions, or more importantly INactions imply that all of this is more important than what truly being a selfless follower of Christ really is. I am not necessarily talking about anyone that has posted here, but I have seen 1st hand people in both “tribes” talk the talk, but not walk the walk. Yes, we should talk about our faith. Yes, these are important discussions to have. BUT… If it is not balanced with Phil. 2:2-4 and coupled with James 1:26-27, it’s just a bunch of people advancing nothing else than their own agenda.

      Last time I checked, John Calvin and Jacob Arminius were just as human as Calvin Klein and Georgio Armani. Any and all of this is ultimately MAN trying to order and define an Infinite and Unfathomable God. Ain’t gonna happen. Not on this side…

      My solution? STOP the insanity, realize that there are things we cannot and will not understand or comprehend fully until we see Him face to face, and put down the grenades posing as words of knowledge, and degrees doubling as bludgeoning sticks. Agree to disagree, but do it respectfully. Don’t throw caustic opinions like darts.

      Let’s figure out how to work together to advance the Gospel. I once heard a very good pastor say “I worship like I am reformed, and evangelize like I am an Arminian”. I like this…

      I do feel that I have been quick to listen, slow to speak, and although it has certainly come out today, slow to anger. I am just fed up with the biggest black eyes being put on Christians and Christianity coming from fellow Christians.

      That said, I need to ask forgiveness from John Carpenter and WB McCarty for going overboard with my sarcasm.

      I am sure that I will be flamed for my post, if anyone even dignifies it with a response. All I would ask is that before you post it, call someone that you can’t gain something from or who can’t benefit your cause or life, tell them you are thinking about them, ask how they are doing, and ask them how you could pray for them. Then, pray with them. After that, come back and roast me…

      That is all…

        W B McCarty

        alsbc623, I confess that I didn’t carefully read every word that you wrote. But your plea for amicability is welcome and mutual. Though I am, as I’m sure you have inferred, a Calvinist I have Arminian brothers whom I respect and admire and with whom I regularly co-labor for sake of the Gospel. This matter is not for me an issue of carnal partisanship, I assure you.

        It witness of that representation, I ask that you and others here take note of the fact that none of my comments has addressed the issues of Calvinism versus Arminianism. My only concern has been with the appearance, and I trust that’s it’s a mere appearance, of semi-Pelagianism. Thus my concern in this matter is narrowly focused and easily addressed, though I admit my distress increases hour by hour in the absence of clarification. For the sake of peace of mind, I just need to hear precise affirmation that man cannot reach out to God unless God has first reached out to man. One of my Arminian friends often says aptly, “Salvation is of the Lord.” Fundamentally, that’s the simple affirmation I’m eager to hear from Baptist brothers.

        With brotherly affection in Christ,

        John Carpenter

        Apology accepted!

        But, it’s not “insanity” to preach the gospel. And “Calvinism”, as C. H. Spurgeon said, is just a nickname for the gospel. The gospel is that God will save His people; not that He’s made a way possible for the few people to save themselves by making the right choice.

        Our church is openly Calvinistic and I believe we are the most out-reaching, evangelistic church in the county. The two go together.

    CW Griffith

    Thank you. You saved me the trouble.

W B McCarty

alsbc623, thanks for your reply. I might ask that you simply consider me dense and indulge me by offering the denial. That would not be an entirely unreasonable request, would it?

But, the reason why I (and, I suppose, others) believe the clause to which you refer does not deny semi-Pelagianism, though it may well have been intended to do so, is that the clause links the Gospel with the initiative. The special enabling (prevenient) grace that excludes Semi-Pelagianism is not the Gospel, though some affirm that’s the case. Instead it’s just as I wrote, a special grace; that is, one apart from the Gospel and coming prior to the apprehension of the Gospel. Unfortunately, the statement’s mention of the Gospel at this point in the statement renders it ambiguous.

In other words, the statement can be consistently understood in a non-semi-Pelagian fashion but it can also be consistently understood in a semi-Pelagian fashion. Given that so many men have expressed concern, including disinterested parties such as Dr. Roger Olson, cannot those who affirm the statement condescend to clarify this point? It seems to me a small thing to ask and the benefit would be considerable.

Your sarcastic reference to a dictionary grieves me. If I have done anything deserving of your contempt, I apologize.

Blessings,

    alsbc623

    It is I who should apologize. I would like to ask for your forgiveness for my sarcasm directed at you. Guess I should have reread Col. 4:6 before engaging…

    Grace and peace to you and yours

      W B McCarty

      alsbc623, please see my earlier comment above. I can readily perceive that, despite some important differences, you and I are fundamentally on the same page and working for the same cause: the glory of God in Christ through the salvation of lost mankind. I’m pleased to be reconciled to you and look forward some day to greeting you in person.

      Blessings,

Lydia

“It’s true that there are no liberal Calvinists. To be liberal is to be man-centered (as also Arminianism is). To be Calvinists is to be God centered. The Presbyterian seminary across the street was liberal, not Calvinist.”

John,

I don’t think they know they aren’t real Calvinists. You may want to write Dr. Jinkins and let him know. :o)

    John Carpenter

    They likely do. I didn’t some doctoral work at a liberal Presbyterian seminary. My original statement is true.

      Lydia

      “They likely do. I didn’t some doctoral work at a liberal Presbyterian seminary. My original statement is true.”

      Okaaaay…… Thank you for an illuminating interaction.

        John Carpenter

        oops, typo. I meant I DID some graduate work at a liberal Presbyterian seminary. They would likely see Calvinism as part of their heritage but in much the same way that modern Americans would see slavery as part of their history.

          Lydia

          Geneva is very liberal too, now. (wink)

        John Carpenter

        Yes, and Geneva isn’t Calvinist now! :)

          Lydia

          What happened to the I &P in Geneva? No U given there? :o)

        John Carpenter

        God irresistible calls and preserves individuals, not cities or denominations. Nice try.

          Lydia

          But the whole city was Calvinist! Where did they go? They baptized their infants so that cannot be the reason. (wink)

          Oh wait….they were forced by the magistrates so they did not need the P back then. I forgot that part.

    John Carpenter

    Lumpkins is the same guy who asserted that Liberty University trustees had voted rescind the invitation to Mark Driscoll. I repeatedly asked him to corroborate that. He couldn’t.

Max

Dr. Hankins – The “Statement” and your further clarification certainly speak to the importance of an ongoing and active preaching of the Gospel to win souls for Christ. I thank God that He still saves in a present, right-now time and place! I contrast this with Dr. Mohler’s response that “We should be thankful that we are discussing God’s plan of salvation and the right way of understanding how God saved sinners. What could be more important?” Did you catch that? … “saved” not “saves”. “Saved” implies accomplished in eternity past … “saves” implies the eternal present ministry of Christ and the Great Commission of His church. Perhaps just a slip of Dr. Mohler’s pen, but if not … that, sir, represents a divergent view from majority Southern Baptist belief and practice which must be addressed. It is, indeed, time to talk! What could be more important?!

    selahV-hariette

    Max, just had to comment here…in light of “it’s time to talk”. I’m gonna go off topic and share a sweet tidbit of positive thought. As I’m reading through this bevy of comments, my ten-year-old granddaughter is in our master bedroom reading two chapters of Genesis to her little 7 year-old and 5 year-old cousins…(she just decided it would be nice to know more about God since she’s been going to VBS this week). They are discussing Adam and Eve and what all their sin meant. They came out a moment ago, musing as to what would the world be like today if Adam had not sinned. They are certain there would be no mosquitoes, ticks or fleas. And everyone would love one another. Amazing the theological conclusions a child comes to when they read God’s Word, huh? Blessings my brother, selahV

      Max

      Thanks Hariette for this good word from the mouths of babes! Best “theology” I’ve heard all week! “Jesus loves me. This I know, for the Bible tells me so.” An illustration of the very reason we must protect the next generation of Southern Baptists from misrepresenting God’s love by declaring He saved some but damned others before they ever drew breath.

Justin Owens

I would suggest everyone also read Danny Akin\’s post from 2006 that relates to the whole Calvinism debate in the SBC.

http://www.sbclife.org/articles/2006/04/sla7.asp

John Carpenter

Mr. Hankins’ statement is welcome insofar as it appears to embrace Biblical teaching on sin and depravity. However, he doesn’t really explain how what he describes here squares with what the anti-Calvinist statement says,

“We deny that Adam’s sin resulted in the incapacitation of any person’s free will or rendered any person guilty before he has personally sinned.”

This is a denial of the Biblical doctrine of depravity, spelled out in numerous scriptures, such as Genesis 6:5, Jeremiah 17:9, Ephesians 2:1, etc. It is also a denial of imputation of Adam’s sin found in Romans 5. Put like that, it is subject not only to semipelagian interpretation but, without context, to rank Pelagianism.

Then in this article, Dr. Hankins says, “We are all ruined by Adam’s sin. We are born with a sin nature. We all persistently, perniciously, and at every opportunity want to be Lord of our own lives. We cannot save ourselves.” If that is true, and I agree with him, how is that not a sinful condition and thus renders us guilty? If we are “ruined” then how can we respond with faith? If we are “born with a sin nature”, then how can we do something as fundamentally good as trust the Lord? If we all “want to be Lord of our own lives”, then how do we suddenly make ourselves able to declare Jesus Lord? Either God makes us born again first (1 John 5:1) so we can believe, based on his foreknowing us (committing to us before hand on the basis of His grace) then predestines, and then calls us (certain to finally glorify us) (Romans 8:29f) or we can save ourselves after all by making the right decision.

The suggestion that Calvinism discourages evangelism is wrong. Some of the greatest missionaires and evangelists in church history have been Calvinists, such as George Whitefield, Jonathan Edwards, William Carey, Adorniram Judson, Charles Spurgeon, etc. Mr. Hankins statement that Calvinism“demands that most people will not be granted the capacity to respond to the Gospel” is, I suppose, true, but misleading. First, the Lord Jesus said that “many” will go to destruction and few to life (Mt. 7). So,
that being the case, who makes the ultimate, determinative decision? If people have the capacity to respond to the gospel and don’t, then they make the determinative decision (and this is Arminianism). But what does scripture say? “So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy.” (Romans 9:16.)

Stuart

“We are born with a sin nature. We all persistently, perniciously, and at every opportunity want to be Lord of our own lives. We cannot save ourselves. The power of the Gospel through the initiative and drawing of the Holy Spirit is our only hope, and it alone is sufficient to pierce our spiritual darkness and rescue us. But our real response to the Gospel of Christ in the power of the Spirit matters to God.\”

Presumably no semi-pelagian would affirm that.
I know few Calivinists who would deny it.
So, maybe when the goal genuinely becomes unity in the convention and cooperation around the gospel, that explanation would be a good starting point.

    John Carpenter

    See my comments above. That explanation does square with the statement he is trying to defend. He doesn’t even really try to make it square. Is it double-talk or is he confused or something else?

      Leslie Puryear

      You said “This is a denial of the Biblical doctrine of depravity.” you are incorrect. This is not a denial of depravity. This is a denial of total depravity. Big difference.

        John Carpenter

        Hi Leslie,

        The Biblical doctrine of depravity is the doctrine of total depravity. That’s why the anti-Calvinists, semi-pelagian statement is wrong: it’s unBiblical. The Bible doesn’t teach just that we’re weak or influenced by sin. It says we are “dead in our sins”. What this statement is attacking is the plain teaching of the Word of God itself.

        Genesis 6:5: “The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.”
        Genesis 8:21: “And when the LORD smelled the pleasing aroma, the LORD said in his heart, “I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth. Neither will I ever again strike down every living creature as I have done.
        Job 15:14: What is man, that he can be pure? Or he who is born of a woman, that he can be righteous?
        Job 15:15: Behold, God puts no trust in his holy ones, and the heavens are not pure in his sight; how much less one who is abominable and corrupt, a man who drinks injustice like water!
        Job 25:4-6: How then can man be in the right before God? How can he who is born of woman be pure? 5 Behold, even the moon is not bright, and the stars are not pure in his eyes; 6 how much less man, who is a maggot, and the son of man, who is a worm!”
        Psalms 51:5: “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.”
        Psalms 58:3: “The wicked are estranged from the womb; they go astray from birth, speaking lies.”
        Ecclesiastes 7:20: “Surely there is not a righteous man on earth who does good and never sins.”
        Ecclesiastes 9:3: “This is an evil in all that is done under the sun, that the same event happens to all. Also, the hearts of the children of man are full of evil, and madness is in their hearts while they live, and after that they go to the dead.”
        Jeremiah 17:9: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?”
        Jeremiah 13:23: (NIV): “Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard its spots? Neither can you do good who are accustomed to doing evil.”
        Isaiah 64:6 “We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away”
        Isaiah 64:7 “There is no one who calls upon your name, who rouses himself to take hold of you, for you have hidden your face from us and have made us melt in the hand of our iniquities.”
        Isaiah 64:8 “But now, O LORD, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand.”
        Mark 7:21-23: “For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”
        John 3:19: “And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their deeds were evil.”
        John 6:44: “[Jesus said,] ‘No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.'”
        John 6:64-65: “[Jesus said,] ‘But there are some of you who do not believe.’ And he said, ‘This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.'”
        John 8:34: “Jesus answered them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin.'”
        Romans 3:10-11: “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God.”
        Romans 3:23: “For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God”
        Romans 8:7-8: “For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.”
        1 Corinthians 2:14: “The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.”
        Ephesians 2:1-3: “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience – among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.” (our depravity being emphasised in the concept of being “dead”; only something external -i.e. God- can give a dead man life)
        Titus 3:3: “For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another.”

James Thompson

Matt Slick, “Semi-Pelagianism”, Christian Apologetics & Research Ministry:

Semi-Pelagianism is a weaker form of Pelagianism a heresy derived from from Pelagius who lived in the 5th century A.D. and was a teacher in Rome. Semi-Pelagianism (advocated by Cassian at Marseilles, 5th Century) did not deny original sin and its effects upon the human soul and will. But, it taught that God and man cooperate to achieve man’s salvation. This cooperation is not by human effort as in keeping the law, but rather in the ability of a person to make a free will choice. The semi-Pelagian teaches that man can make the first move toward God by seeking God out of his own free will and that man can cooperate with God’s grace even to the keeping of his faith through human effort. This would mean that God responds to the initial effort of person and that God’s grace is not absolutely necessary to maintain faith.

The problem is that this is no longer grace. Grace is the completely unmerited and freely given favor of God upon the sinner. But, if man is the one who first seeks God, then God is responding to the good effort of seeking him. This would mean that God is offering a proper response to the initial effort of man. This is not grace, but what is due the person who chooses to believe in God apart from God’s initial effort.

The original statement denies the impact of original sin on the will. That puts it even beyond what Semi-Pelagianism holds to and makes it close to full Pelagianism. The denials of the second article of the original statement are incredibly problematic because they go beyond the affirmations and would seem to, at least hypothetically, contradict them. The statement puts the human will beyond the effects of sin and that is not justifiable from Scripture.

    John Carpenter

    Thanks for that. That is helpful. Alan Davis has some corroborating evidence above, at 2:01, from respected theologian Herman Bavinck.

    Alan Davis

    If you line up what the document says with this definition of SP you must come to the conclusion the document SEEMS to promote the same idea. Now it may not have been the intent of the writers and signers to do this, but non the less it appears that is where the document is headed. The writers and signers have every right to make their statement and to sign it, for whatever reasons. But just because some past and present SBC bureaucrates (many of which I have respect for) signed it does not mean it is free from critique. And for the life of me I can not see the prupose since we already have BFM2000 and many earlier faith documents in Baptist life that are much better written.

    Alan Davis

holdon

“But if someone can die before committing their own sin (since there is no imputation of Adam’s sin), then aren’t they saved?”

Indeed: there is no imputation of Adam’s sin. Those words are not in the Bible.

Romans 1: 19 to 5: 11 deals with what we have done, and Christ’s propitiation as the remedy, adding His resurrection as the great seal of it. From verse 12 it deals with what we are. He speaks of state, not guilt, though of course guilt is there. From 5:12 Paul deals with the causal factor: the sin principle. Up to 5:11 he dealt with sins (plural); those sinful acts that people commit because they are sinners. For sins there is blood and forgiveness. For sin (the principle) there is only one remedy: to die. The old man dies, we walk in newness of life.

Verse 12 says that based on the fact that all are in that state being brought into by Adam, all sin and death passes on them all. It is not a question there of them being personally guilty because of what Adam did (that could not be: see Ezek. 18:20), but it’s a question of what the cause of it all is: the sin principle. What is born of the flesh is flesh. All have the sin principle in them, if born out of Adam’s descent.

Children do not enter into the question here in Romans 5 as the case is argued generically. Of course children die too, not because of personal guilt, but because of being born of Adam’s descent which causes death (and they will commit sinful acts when growing up).
Children cannot be held accountable and they cannot convert. They are saved because Jesus came to save what is lost (Mt 18:10,11).

    John Carpenter

    Hi Holden,

    So, you’ve just denied the necessity of Christ’s work; you’ve established a way of salvation outside of the atonement, mainly dying young.

    And, like Mr. Hankins, you don’t seem to understand the implications of your own words. If, as you rightly say, “all sin and death passes on them all” then that is the doctrine of imputation, which you denied at the outset and then denied again after having affirmed it in essence. If “sin” — whether in “principle” or however, passes to us from, then we are guilty of Adam’s sin. “In Adam’s fall, we sinned all.”

    But you’re wrong about Romans 5:16 “For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation”; that is, we are condemned for Adam’s sin. That is known as imputation. And you’ve tried to create the situation that we are sinful by state but not guilty, which is an absurdity. If we are rebels by nature, we are guilty, even if we haven’t committed a particular act of rebellion yet.

    Finally, if “children cannot be held accountable” (a statement completely lacking Biblical support) then they are saved by their supposed sinlessness, and not by Christ. And so you have denied the exclusivity of salvation by Christ.

Paul Fries

If this statement is true from the article, “Along with him, we wholeheartedly affirm that The Baptist Faith and Message forms the sufficient boundary for our collective theological interests and should continue to be our principle guiding document.” why do we have to continue to publish papers such as yours Dr. Hankins. In my opinion there are many who want to add to or even change the BF&M instead of acknowledging there are real theological differences but we still fit under the same large tent.

    James Thompson

    To be honest I would like to see the BF&M restored to the precision present in a few articles, including Article III, that were present in the 1925 edition. The discussion over Semi-Pelagianism wouldn’t be present if the statement from Hankins, et al, was in line with the 1925 BF&M when it comes to the Doctrine of Man. But in 1963, in the midst of liberalism, some aspects of the BF&M were downgraded and they’ve never been revisited in a substantive way. And it is from that downgraded statement that Hankins’ statement borrows its language concerning Man.

holdon

Mr. Carpenter,

“Finally, if “children cannot be held accountable” (a statement completely lacking Biblical support) then they are saved by their supposed sinlessness, and not by Christ. ”

It seems you’re angry and cannot read what I wrote and your response really misrepresents what I said.

I wrote that Jesus came to save the lost: children in context of Mt. 18:10,11. So, it is not their “sinlessness”, but Christ who saves.
I wrote also that all are born with the sin principle; or if you will “flesh born out of flesh”. So, I did not infer any “sinlessness” at all. The main Christian and biblical teaching is that people sin, because they are sinners not the other way around. Can a bad tree produce good fruit?

But what is graver is that it seems you don’t read the Scriptures very well either, because Rom 5:16 says: “For the judgment was of one to condemnation” and you added to that something it doesn’t say: “that is, we are condemned for Adam’s sin. That is known as imputation.”.

I hope you didn’t confuse “imputation” with this: “but sin is not put to account when there is no law;”. Because it clearly shows that those who have no law (those before Moses and Gentiles for instance) cannot be guilty of breaking it. But yet they were sinners and death proved it: all died.

But Romans 5:16 just states that the consequence, the sentence for the one act was separation from God and all are born in that state. It doesn’t talk about “guilt” or “imputation” at all. “Imputation of Adam’s sin” to us is not found in Scripture.

You need to understand the difference between “sins” and “sin”.

    John Carpenter

    Hi Holdren,

    I’m not angry. I just don’t think you understand the implication of your own words. How does Christ “save” people who have no sin? That’s just more double-talk. That is, you say “Christ’s saves them” but then you’ve already established they have nothing to be saved from. People need to be saved from sin. That’s what the atonement is for. If they have no sin for which they are held guilty of, as you’ve said is the case with small children, then there is no reason (or way) for Christ to “save them”.

    People before the law died because they were held guilty of Adam’s sin: imputation. There’s no idea in scripture of a “sin principle” which does not bestow guilt. “Imputation” is the name for the idea being described in Romans 5.

    Again, if you’d like to learn, go back and read my response to you and stop teaching the pelagianism that people have no guilt until they commit their own sins.

      CW Griffith

      So can we assume that you are not only against the drafting of this document, but also the Baptist Faith and Message which says in Article 3:

      “By his free choice man sinned against God and brought sin into the human race. Through the temptation of Satan man transgressed the command of God, and fell from his original innocence whereby his posterity inherit a nature and an environment inclined toward sin. Therefore, as soon as they are capable of moral action, they become transgressors and are under condemnation.”

      Because the BF&M clearly supports a belief that children are not “transgressors” and “under condemnation” until they are “capable of moral action.” Therefore, your issue is not just with non-Cals but the SBC as a whole right?

        John Carpenter

        No. The “man” there is Adam. This refers to the Fall. In Adam fall, sinned we all. However, the last sentence is problematic. The Bible doesn’t say that people “become” transgressors. It says they are that way by nature. That last statement at least implies something that is not Biblical.

          CW Griffith

          So as I stated your problem is with the SBC at large since this is our common confession of faith?

          John Carpenter

          Hi CW,

          One of my objections about this whole thing is the struggle to be “traditional”. I gave my life to the Lord to serve the Lord, not a denomination. And traditionalism and clinging to unBiblical beliefs and practices is going to be the death of the SBC.

Brad Reynolds

John,
Based on imputed guilt to all men and the truth that men are saved only by faith would it be fair for someone to infer by your statements that you either believe:

1) Infants who die in the womb are somehow capable of repenting of their sin(s) and expressing faith in Christ in the womb (even though they have never heard the gospel)
or
2) Infants who die in the womb go to hell
or
3) God has somehow graciously made a way for man to be forgiven of his sins outside of repentance and faith

Thanks

    John Carpenter

    Hi Brad,

    That was addressed above. It’s a very serious problem for pelagians, like the drafters of this statement and others who deny the Biblical doctrine of imputation because it creates another way of salvation: dying young.

    Perhaps all babies are all saved by the blood of Christ. I hope so. But to reason, that we have to get babies into heaven so, (1) we reject the imputation of Adam’s sin (in Romans 5) so that (2) they can go to heaven because they haven’t sinned which means (3) that there is another way to salvation besides Christ (namely, dying before committing an actual sin), is either semi- or actually full blown Pelagianism and is a direct attack on the sacrifice of Christ on the cross.

      Brad Reynolds

      John
      Forgive me for asking again but I did not see your answer to my question, except for a statement that perhaps all babies are saved by the blood of Christ. Would that mean that you would reject 2) of my inference and hold to either 1) or 3) or both 1) and 3). It is one thing to claim others have a problem with infants in heaven it is quite another for you to present a solution. I would argue if you held to 1) or 3) you have a much more difficult issue than the imputation of sin.

        John Carpenter

        Each of those statements are false. Those are beliefs that people are forced into when they are Pelagian or semi-pelagian. When one rejects the imputation of Adam’s sin and proposes that we’re condemned only for our own sin (and further that babies are accepted into heaven on the basis of their sinlessness), then one has attacked the work of Christ on the cross and created another way of salvation beside the atonement, and that’s besides ignoring the vast amount of scripture on human depravity. Biblical doctrine avoids all of them.

          Brad Reynolds

          John
          I appreciate your vigor and determination. Two qualities which can serve the kingdom well. But may I point out you have yet to answer the question. Were I in you position, I would probably do the same, but it isn’t unnoticed.

          Your answer “perhaps all babies are saved by the blood of Jesus” has left only three options from your position: 1) All babies are not saved; 2) the blood of Jesus is applied without repentance and faith; 3) babies demonstrate repentance and faith in the womb.

          It is fine if you refuse to answer the question (perhaps wise knowing the options you have). My only recommendation is to be careful about chastising those who have at least tried to honestly deal with this difficult issue if you are unwilling to do so.

          I am not sure we can go any further in this discussion if you refuse to answer.

    Les

    Brad, you didn’t ask me, but may I answer?

    I will choose door number 3. The LBC 1689, agreeing with the WCF says,

    “Infants dying in infancy are regenerated and saved by Christ through the Spirit, Who works when, where, and how He pleases. So also are all elect persons who are incapable of being outwardly called by the ministry of the Word.”

    It is my belief that regeneration is 100% an act of God. Monergism. There is no reason to believe that an infant cannot be regenerated and forgiven on the basis of Jesus’ blood atonement.

    Most Reformed folks believe John the Baptizer was regenerated in the womb. In any case, there is no theological or biblical impediment to an infant or a severely mentally handicapped person to be born again.

    Les

Dr. Bruce McLaughlin

Frank Page’s reluctance to take a stand is predictable; one year after his departure from Taylors, he was replaced by a Calvinist pastor.

My website (www.christianapologetic.org) under Theology Corner, “Can God’s Will be Thwarted,” contains a systematic, definitive refutation and repudiation of Calvinism based on logic, reason and Scripture, the Achilles tendons of all false teaching.

In the ensuing 400 years since the 1618 Synod of Dort, the battle between Calvinism and Arminianism has been primarily confined to inconclusive skirmishes in the TULIP field of combat. However, the main force of Calvinism long ago repositioned itself in such documents as the 1646 Westminister Confession and the 1689 London Baptist Confession. The latter document states, for example, “God hath decreed in himself, from all eternity, by the most wise and holy counsel of His own will, freely and unchangeably, all things, whatsoever comes to pass.” This is just another way of saying: (a) the word “decree” is synonymous with the word “will” as applied to God and (b) the biconditional expression “A if and only if B” where A = (event happened) and B = (God willed event) can never be false. This means A and B must both be true or both be false for every conceivable event. Polemics on the TULIP have become a pedantic distraction from the primary confrontation. Here are some interesting consequences of Calvinism. The second one might be blasphemy!

•Regeneration precedes faith because God elected only certain specific persons for salvation. These persons alone are unconditionally and irresistibly regenerated by the power of the Holy Spirit and subsequently demonstrate repentance, faith and obedience. The souls of most men, women, children and babies are, upon death, sent to eternal damnation never having had an opportunity for salvation. God is self glorified as He watches this plan unfold.

•God is the first-cause of all evil. All tragedy, suffering, disease, decay, iniquity, corruption, immorality, wickedness and depravity covering the manifold of sin in heaven and earth were decreed by God before anything existed except the Trinity.

•In eternity past, God unchangeably ordained everything; therefore, your prayers can change the outcome of nothing.

    John Carpenter

    So, about #2, the one you said might be blasphemy: was Joseph blaspheming when he told his brothers that the Lord intended their evil for good? What was God saying in Exodus 4:11 where He says He makes people blind, mute, etc? Who was in control of all the sins unleashed on Job? Were the Apostles blaspheming when they prayed, in Acts 4, that Herod and Pontius Pilate murdered Jesus exactly as God predestined that they would?

volfan007

Dr. Hankins,

What a tremendous response, and very gracious, too! Thanks, Brother. The more I read your posts, the more I like them. I’m thrilled to see such a brilliant, young mind and heart in the SBC; and for being willing to speak out what most of us in the SBC believe.

The resulting comments in this thread are not just concerning, but the very evidence of why this Traditional Statement even came into being. The hateful, mean spirited, arrogant comments made by more than just a few in this thread are sad to see… and an example of what some of us have been dealing with for a long time. My prayer is that the Holy Spirit will move in a great way in our SBC, and bring a refreshing rain of life, joy, peace, truth, and love.

Thanks again, Dr. Hankins….you bless me every time you write something.

David

    Mary

    David, I keep clicking on this thread which is titled “A Response to Al Mohler” and yet the majority of the comments are attacking Dr. Hankins for not explaining why he’s not a semi-pelegian. LOL! Let’s see, did Al Mohler go into detail as to why he thought Dr. Hankins et al was a semi-pelegian? Uhh no, he did not. But, alas, as you and I both know David, the rules are simply not the same for Traditionalists and Calvinists!

    And I agree with you that if anyone was in doubt of the necessity of a Traditionalist movement this thread alone should be enough to open their eyes.

      John Carpenter

      It doesn’t require much explanation to show that the statement is semi-pelagian. Just some understanding of what semi-pelagianism is. I’m getting the feeling that many of those denying that they are semi-pelagian don’t even know what semi-pelagianism is. The real question is whether the single statement on sin is semi-pelagian or out-right Pelagian.

        Mary

        Yeah Johnny, you totally missed what some would call “the point.” But thanks for playing!

          Darryl Hill

          Mary, are your continued ad hominem attacks on John helping your case? Do you feel justified in attacking him somehow? Is he deserving of attacks because he disagrees with you or because he articulates his arguments well and knows this subject matter well? Personal attacks are not valid arguments even if they make one feel somewhat better.

          Mary

          Of course, Darryl, attacks are only allowed from the Calvinists. How could I forget!

          I think my coregent in mean Lydia, can appreciate how real men like to call out bad behavior from women, but don’t do the same thing to men. Wonder why that is?

    Tim G

    David,
    I agree.

holdon

“People before the law died because they were held guilty of Adam’s sin”

Well you don’t agree with the Scriptures then:

“but sin is not put to account when there is no law; but death reigned from Adam until Moses, even upon those who had not sinned in the likeness of Adam’s transgression”

John Carpenter

Hi Holdon,

You’re grievously misinterpreted that scripture and could probably profit from a good course in exegesis. Their individual violations of what would later be prohibited actions by the law, were not counted against them. It doesn’t say that Adam’s sin (which was against God’s law) was not counted against them. Indeed, that would be the reason they are counted guilty and die, for they had no other law to violate. They were condemned because of Adam’s sin. That’s why death reigned over them, because their head Adam sinned. Since they had no law to violate, and so no way to have sin counted against them, how do you think they were condemned?

    holdon

    “It doesn’t say that Adam’s sin (which was against God’s law) was not counted against them. Indeed, that would be the reason they are counted guilty and die, for they had no other law to violate. ”

    The Scripture says: “even upon those who had not sinned in the likeness of Adam’s transgression”

    So, Adam’s sin was definitely not counted against them.

      holdon

      Mr. Carpenter,

      “It says: (1) that they died (even though there was no law to count sin against them;”

      Right. They were sinners, but not guilty of breaking any law. The principle of sin was active in them, therefore they died. There is no “guilt” or “imputation” of Adam’s sinful act to us here at all.
      Such a thought is completely contrary to Scripture: Ezek 18:20; Jer. 31:29,30.

      ” (2) even those who had not sinned in the same way Adam did (by violating God’s command).
      Now, why did they die? Because Adam’s sin was counted against them.”

      No, it says clearly they did NOT sin in the same way as Adam. Nor does it say that Adam’s sin was counted against them. There is no trace of that. It says exactly the opposite: “nothing was put into account” to them, yet they died and that proved they were sinners.

      “Sinning in Adam”, “imputation of Adam’s sin (or guilt)” are not found in Scripture at all. Adam brought sin into the world and all his descendants (except Christ) are contaminated with it.

      “Do you believe that all those people are saved because they have no sin counted against them. Read all of Romans 5.”

      Here you go misrepresenting again. No, I don’t believe that at all. Why do you think that I do?

      You still don’t understand the difference (a fundamental one) between “sin” as a principle and “sins” as the sinful acts people do.

        holdon

        Mr. Carpenter,

        You are going too far here: you accuse me of “false doctrine”, and being “stupid”. I don’t think such things are going to get you a lot of sympathy here.

        Now, in your last post there are too many things wrong to enter into here. So, I am lifting out what I think is the core falsity of your reasoning.

        “The reason they are sinners, of course, is because Adam’s sin is imputed to them, as Romans 5 teaches. ”

        There is no “Adam’s sin is imputed to them” in Romans 5 nor in the entire Bible. It is bad doctrine. How would you feel if a sin act of Marilyn Manson was imputed to you? There is no such thing that somebody else’s act can be imputed to anyone: not for good, not for bad. That’s just fundamental justice. Guilt is always personal: Dt 24:16; 2 Ki 14:16; 2 Chr 25:4; Ezek 18:20; Jer 31:29,30. None of someone else’s sin can be counted against you.

        “they died because they had Adam’s sin imputed to them (since they had no sin of their own to hold against them because there was, as yet, no law for them to break).”

        This is completely wrong reasoning and exactly against what Paul argues. They commit sins because they are sinners, not the other way around as you seem to think. And they did absolutely have sin of their own, that’s what Paul is saying and the proof is this: they all died. “Sin reigned in death” v. 21. How did they get sin of their own: through being descendants of Adam and therefore the need of a new “race” that of Christ is required to get rid of the sin principle. The solution for the old race is death and we get Christ as the Head of the new race.
        Again as verse 19 says: “For as indeed by the disobedience of the one man the many have been constituted sinners”. Note it doesn’t say “the obedience of the one man is imputed to the many”. None of that. Because not only would that be completely unjust, but also would mean that there would be no inherent sinfulness in themselves: after all it would be someone else’s sin being imputed to them and not due to their own condition. And there would be no need to be born again into a New life: Christ’s.
        But the many became a fallen race, being in Adam’s state, they are sinners through and through and therefore they will commit sins.

        I think you are completely off the Scriptural foundations here.

        holdon

        Mr. Carpenter,

        Imputation of Christ’s righteousness is a term and thought foreign to Scripture. Your attempts to foist it into the text and force your opinions on it, are meaningless.

        The term “Christ’s righteousness” is not even found in Scripture. Even less is it true that Christ’s righteousness is imputed to the believer. Must I conclude that this too belongs to Calvinistic nonsense?

        The whole idea that one’s act can be imputed to another is completely false. It doesn’t go for sins nor for righteous’ acts. If Christ’s righteous acts could be imputed to us, then His atoning blood shedding and death would not be necessary. So, you seem to be invalidating His atonement altogether.

        Romans 5 says nothing that at all by the way. And per your dictionary “constitute” is the right word for v19. And even “place” is not completely wrong, because it is about the sinful state Adam’s descendants are put in. There is NO imputation is v19 nor in all of Romans 5 as anybody can see.

        You have not interacted with the verses I gave you where it is made clear that guilt is always and solely personal.

        Your attitude by the way is not a pleasant one.

          Lydia

          “The term “Christ’s righteousness” is not even found in Scripture. Even less is it true that Christ’s righteousness is imputed to the believer. Must I conclude that this too belongs to Calvinistic nonsense? ”

          Yes this is taught in several NC venues. :Jesus obeyed for us” is another way to put it. This is one reason why they can stay totally depraved after salvation .

            Les

            Lydia,

            Same question for you as holden:

            I want to understand: are you denying that the righteousness of Christ is imputed to believers? i.e. are you denying the historic Protestant doctrine of the imputation of Christ’s righteousness?

              Lydia

              Les,

              Historic? That is your selling point? Shall we talk about some of the other “historic” Protestant doctrines that we do not subscribe to today and Calvinists do not want us to bring up? Historic? Church history is a bloody evil mess. Appealing to it always makes me cringe. We have better resources. (wink)

                Les

                Lydia,

                Did you miss the word “doctrine?”

                Do you know that some doctrines are historic? Like the trinity. It has been believed and confessed during the “history” of the church. Does that help?

          Les

          holden,

          You said, “The term “Christ’s righteousness” is not even found in Scripture. Even less is it true that Christ’s righteousness is imputed to the believer.”

          I want to understand: are you denying that the righteousness of Christ is imputed to believers? i.e. are you denying the historic Protestant doctrine of the imputation of Christ’s righteousness?

          Thanks,

          Les

            holdon

            Les,

            Absolutely. Imputation of Christ’s righteousness is not found in Scripture at all. So, whatever “historic”, “protestant” or “doctrine” labels you apply, I cannot recognize that which is not Scriptural.

            By “imputation of Christ’s righteousness” is meant that Christ’s righteous acts (some say even His law keeping) during His life somehow would be transferred to the believer. There are a few things wrong with this thinking:

            1. The term does not exist in Scripture (of course Trinity isn’t either, but we have to be very careful to state things that God never did)
            2. The righteousness of Christ is of course something we all recognize; but it is never stated in Scripture as such in itself.
            3. Imputation means not a “transfer of a certain quantity of righteous acts from one account to someone else’s account” as is often said. But imputation means “regarding as”; “estimated to be”; “considered”; “reckoned”. When Paul says: “shall not his uncircumcision be reckoned for circumcision” it means that one is considered to have something when he has not. So here: “blessed the man to whom the Lord shall not at all reckon sin.” But of course that man did have sin, but (through grace) the Lord does not consider that he does. By the way, we never see that Lord reckons (imputes) that someone has the sins of someone else. Actually, we see that from Dt 24:16; 2 Ki 14:16; 2 Chr 25:4; Ezek 18:20; Jer 31:29,30 everyone’s sin is his own.
            4. We the believers are imputed righteousness the moment we believe like Abraham. Based on that faith, God holds us to be righteous.
            5. Also David recognized that blessedness that God holds a man for righteous: =imputes righteousness to him, completely without works. So, then Christ’s works are necessarily excluded from that as well.
            6. If righteousness could be obtained through Christ’s righteous acts during His obedient and law abiding life, then the blood shedding, death and resurrection would not have been needed. “imputation of Christ’s righteousness” therefore obliterates the need for the Cross and the atonement.
            7. The business of “transferring righteousnesses” is older than Protestantism. It was (and is) the basis on which the RC church distributes “righteousness”, the RC church being the broker in the middle. See supererogation, indulgences and that kind of stuff. But the principle is wrong to begin with and an insult to Christ’s expiatory work on the Cross.

              Les

              This got placed somewhere above.

              holden,

              Well I’m shocked. Are you a Southern Baptist and did you sign the statement that is the subject of these posts?

              Les

                P Via

                He is probably a fan of N.T. Wright

    Darryl Hill

    Hey John. Looking back on my earlier days ministry, one of my most common errors was isogesis combined with private interpretation. That’s what I often see in these discussions. Part of what I learner in the process of my theology changing is the value of learning the historical Christian position (orthodoxy) on various texts and doctrines. I have become fond of making the statement “if you come to a conclusion that few (or no) other Christians in history have held, it’s not historical Christianity that is in error- it’s you. Actually it was historical Christianity that was among the most convincing in my personal reformation.

      volfan007

      Darryl Hill and John Carpenter,

      How old are yall? I’m just wondering.

      David

    alsbc623

    John,
    I would like to understand better where you are coming from. Could you explain to me how your statement to Holden (and many other statements to others) looks in the light of Colossians 4:6?

    Thanks

John Carpenter

John Alosi writes:

Doctrinal statements mean something. And those who sign them should be very careful lest they end up affirming something contrary to Scripture. The authors of this recent statement claim to be putting forth the understanding of salvation held by the “vast majority” of Southern Baptists. I can only hope they are mistaken in this claim. In addition to disagreeing with the apostle Paul on the issue of original sin, the authors and signers have also staked out a position opposed to the original doctrinal statement of the flagship school of the Southern Baptist Convention. In 1858, the charter statement of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary required all professors to adhere to the Abstract of Principles. Article six of the Abstract affirms that Adam’s descendants stand “under condemnation” before they become “actual transgressors.” In other words, it affirms that humans are born guilty and liable to condemnation prior to the act of sinning. Apparently, a number of Southern Baptist leaders believe that the Abstract of Principles now lies outside the bounds of the “Traditional Southern Baptist” understanding of salvation.
http://calvinismisthegospel.com/is-there-pelagianism-in-the-sbc/

John Carpenter

Dr. Tom Ascol has written a six part response to this non-sense, which you can read here: http://blog.founders.org/2012/05/response-to-statement-of-traditional.html

W B McCarty

Dr. Hankin wrote, “No person ever takes the first step toward God” (Beyond Calvinism and Arminianism: Toward a Baptist Soteriology. JBTM Spring 2011, 100. ). This affirmation, IMO, negates any and all concern that the statement he drafted was deliberately written to express a semi-Pelagian position. I urge that any suggestion to the contrary cease immediately. Though I disagree in important ways with the statement I believe that it reflects an orthodox position.

Blessings,

    Ron Hale

    Thank you Mr. McCarty … you are gracious and kind to bring this forward.

    Blessings!

    volfan007

    WB,

    Thank you, Bro. I’d buy you a cup of coffee if we were close to each other.

    God bless you.

    David

    Robin Foster

    Thank you Dr. McCarty. Many of us are willing to except disagreements with this statement if they don’t see eye to eye to the Scriptures as we do. But, when it comes to leveling a charge of heresy towards us, that is too much. Thank you again sir!

Mary

Mr. McCarty, thank you for your graciousness in this conversation. You set an example. (Not that I’m always so great at following good examples) but I recoginize one when I see it!

I hope you had a chance to read Malcolm Yarnell’s post on this subject. I think you might find his post and the comments enlightening.

Ron Hale

John Carpenter,

Don’t you think that since you have made 1/3 of the comments on this blog and you’re not even a member of a SBC congregation … that you take your poison to other wells?
Blessings.

    Steve Evans

    Ron, you beat me to the point. But may I say, touche!

volfan007

John Carpenter,

Seriously, you’ve made your point. Everyone knows what you’re saying. We dont agree with you, but you’ve made your point. So, would you please quit?

David

    Mary

    You guys should be careful. Johnny C. has some defenders. OH WAIT! It’s only women they’re calling out! You’re safe!

      Darryl Hill

      Nah Mary. I am just waiting for something of substance from someone. I find it painfully clear that those who have been reduced to namecalling and asking for a brother to just leave clearly have little else of substance to add. You may not like what he says but I have yet to see an ad hominem attack from him in this thread. But I suppose if we are using the rationale of the original document in question as our model, having the majority in this comment thread means you must be right and he must be wrong.

        mary

        Oh yeah Darryl, sure, no personal attacks. Only calling people liars, heretics, telling them they don’t know anything, clearly have no degrees in this that or the other. Yeah right, no personal attacks.

          mary

          And now he has just questioned the integrity of one of our great Baptist theologians. yeah no personal attacks. Here’s a hint for ya – Al Mohler is not going to be happy to see anyone attacking one of the smartest and nicest guys in the SBC – Malcolm Yarnell.

          I just don’t understand why people won’t debate the Calvinists on this thread. I mean after all why wouldn’t they want to speak to people who have called them names and keep telling them over annd over how biblically illitereate they are and how superior the Calvinists are.

          Les

          Mary, I’m gonna have to throw a flag on you here. You just said,

          “And now he has just questioned the integrity of one of our great Baptist theologians. yeah no personal attacks.”

          The flag is for calling out someone for doing the very same thing you do. You know you’ve questioned the integrity many times of Dr. Mohler over at the west GA hangout.

          15 yard penalty. :)

          mary

          Well let’s see there Lester, Mohler has actually done things and said things that bring his integrity into question. What has Yarnell done but refuse to respond to the Calvinists trolls? What exactly is it that Yarnell has done to Johnny C. that he deserves such vitriol from him?

          What’s the Latin phrase for the argument “well the other guy does it.”

          What’s worse me a lowly women doing something wrong or Johnny C. who is supposed to be the Pastor of a church calling out someone like Malcolm Yarnell.

          I thought you Calvinists were all about accoutability and discipline. Who exactly is holding this Calvinist Pastor responsible for his trollish behavior. The man is so trollish he’s even gone over the lenient blog lines here at Today so that they are deleting his comments in other thread.

          Nice friends you got there Les. You Calvinists sure do love violence.

          But thanks for being consistent. Calvinists love to correct women while the men – the Pastors – so-called leaders – are running around spewing vitriol at anyone who won’t bow down to their alleged superior spiritualality and intellect.

Matt

Eric,

Some of the signers of this devisive statement have attempted to defend it by saying that the denials are not denials of what you represent as Calvinism. I know you have made it perfectly clear that you no longer feel that stating points of agreement with Calvinists is usefull, and you have made it very obvious in your series Beyond Calvinism and Arminianism that the beliefs denied in this statement are what you represent Calvinists as believing. Will you please give an outright honest statement that what you deny in this statement is what you are representing Calvinists as believing?

Jonathan

What we need is more clarification on some of he statements. I’m fine with creating new categories for theological discussion, but it takes a great deal of writing–writing we should encourage–to clearly define new frameworks. It seems that some of the dissagreements revolve around what a particular statement could mean. One of the reasons the framework of Arminus, Calvin, Augustine, and others has enddured is because they were prolific writers. I for one would be interested in more clarification on the non-incompasitation of mans will and an explanation of what election is and how it works.

James

I read Dr. Mohler’s response to this statement, and I have to say, walking away from both Mohler’s response and Dr. Hankins response, there was at least more humility shown on the part of Dr. Mohler. Of course, whether or not there is I cannot tell except from the words that were written.

Dr. Hankins – “It is important for him to understand that, though he would certainly reject this characterization, he is often considered a principal force behind the very tribalism he is seeking to disavow.”

Dr. Mohler – “At times, however, Calvinists can be tribal and elitist, more concerned with counting points of doctrine and less concerned with pointing us all to the mission of the Gospel. Such a tribalism is inconsistent with the very beliefs we cherish. This goes to show that we, too, can be inconsistent in faith and practice. Of such tribalism we must all repent.”

It does not appear to me that he would reject this characterization for he applied it to himself and to all those who consider themselves “Calvinist.”

And the charge of being semi-Pelagianism was not a formal charge. Dr. Mohler’s words were, “Some portions of the statement actually go beyond Arminianism and appear to affirm semi-Pelagian understandings of sin, human nature, and the human will — understandings that virtually all Southern Baptists have denied. ”

He said they appeared to affirm semi-Pelagian understandings. He was not charging anybody of being a semi-Pelagian, but merely saying that things could have been worded a bit better than they were, and let’s face it, the second article’s denial does contradict scripture such as Romans 5 which teaches that man did not just receive a nature inclined towards sin, but that death and condemnation came to all because of Adam’s sin. David also writes in the Psalms that he was not just conceived with a sin inclined nature, but that he was conceived in sin (Psalm 51:5).

So at least how I interpreted Dr. Mohler’s article, and I could be wrong, is that he was not charging anyone with heresy but rather that heresy could easily come from this if caution was not used because the natural implications of the second article could easily lead to a belief that somehow man could keep himself from sinning and therefore live a sinless life. I am not saying that is what Dr. Hankins or any other of the writers meant, but it could be a dangerous conclusion to this article if taken to it’s logical implications.

As a student of the Word who agrees with Reformed (Calvinistic) theology, I would like to say that I do appreciate what men like Dr. Hankins is attempting to do with this statement, and that is to open up dialogue and help us to wrestle with these difficult issues. However, I am only seeing dissent and division among many Baptists because of this statement and I hope the cool-headedness that Dr. Mohler demonstrated can win out in the end and that we can all remain as one united body of Christ, whether we consider ourselves to be Calvinist, non-Calvinist, Arminian, or “Traditionalist.”

    Lydia

    “I read Dr. Mohler’s response to this statement, and I have to say, walking away from both Mohler’s response and Dr. Hankins response, there was at least more humility shown on the part of Dr. Mohler.”

    James, did you miss the part in Mohler’s statement where he says his friends and colleagues (Seminary presidents, pastors, etc) he knows who signed the statement did not really believe what they signed? You call that humble?

    This is just one example of where I think there is a real delusion in the Reformed camp. Or a lack of thinking. To think a statement that arrogant is “humble” is astonishing to me. This is what leads me to believe there is a lot of cult of personality involved.

      James

      Lydia,
      I am not saying that he was correct in everything he was saying, but I believe there was more of a spirit of charity and kindness in his letter than what I have seen in most other posts. My prayer is that we can all stop belittling each other and stop with the name calling on both sides because we have all been guilty of a divisive nature. We need to put away our anger at one another and discuss this issue with love and kindness. It’s time for all of us to repent for our attitudes towards one another whether we be Calvinist, Arminian, or “Traditionalist” because our attitudes are not bringing glory to God.

      Grace and Peace to You in our Lord Jesus Christ,

      James

        Lydia

        James, He used the Dale Carnagie tactic of the sandwich insult on his “friends” who are also his colleagues on an issue that is part of their vocation.

        It was a low blow. I really thought Mohler had more wisdom than that. What bothers me the most is that it does not bother more Calvinists. I think Mohler forgets he is an SBC employee.

          Jared

          No Lydia. He is not an employee of the SBC. The SBC does not exist except for two days per year when they are in formal business session. He is an employee of The Southern Baptist Seminary and answers two the trustees of that institution. No one else.

Justin R

You have to love blog comments!

People arguing about the gospel in the most anti-gospel tone with the most anti-gospel rhetoric.

What a sad indictment and pitiful representation of our convention.

    alsbc623

    totally agree…

Lasaro Flores

When I was converted in a SBC church, I believed and preached the \”arminians\” doctrines that was generally preached and taught in SBC churches. But as I study the Word of God, I began to see that much of it did not conform to the Word of God; especially I could not find any Scripture that taught that man had a free will. On the contrary, the inerrant Word of God disprove such a doctrine. The longer I studied I found that Southern Baptists in general DID NOT believe the total incapacitation of man as far as his sinfulness was concerned. They gave sinful man and ability and power that God\’s Word clearly taught that man DID NOT have. Therefore, I was brought to the conclusion by the Holy Spirit that man\’s salvation had to be ALL OF, and BY GRACED; from the beginning to the end. It was not man making a decision for Christ; but God making a decision to save sinners in Christ, even before the foundation of the world; and this was an election unto salvation from the beginning (Eph.1:3ff.; 2 Thess.2:13). No argument or denial can change this glorious truth: That if God does not intervene on behalf of sinners, than no one will be saved: and if God chose some and left the rest in their sins, why are you complaining? Doesn\’t God have the right to do as He wills with His salvation? Don\’t you know that all of mankind in Adam fell into the cesspool of sin (and they enjoy it!), but God of the riches of His sovereign Will gave some of them to His beloved Son to be saved by Him; and they will come to Him because He will \”draw\” them because it will be \”given\” to do so! If YOU believe that YOU CAN do something of your own so that God has to save YOU (which you claim it is of your \”free will\”), then, my friend, I have to say to YOU: You are a stranger to the Grace of God; for if YOU CANNOT confess that it is FREE GRACE, and not FREE WILL, YOU do not KNOW it for yourselves; and I say this humbly and reverently in the glorious Name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

    Ron Hale

    Bro. Lasaro,
    I praise the Lord that you were converted in a SBC Church. Thanks for sharing your message respectfully and with humility of heart. We do not agree, but I hope you see me as a Brother in the Lord. Blessings!

      Mary

      Ron, did his last sentance make the implication that if we dont accept his Calvinism we can’t be saved?

      Mary

      Of course I know that you and I believe that we can do nothing on our own to earn salvation, but we are not unable to respond when God reaches out to us. Salvation is completely of God. It seems like he is saying if we believe we can respond, ie TD does not = TI, that we can’t be saved.

      But I agree with you he seems nicer than some.

        wingedfooted1

        Blessings, Mary.

        Just an observation.

        From Lasaro’s own confession, it appears he is saying he was “saved” accepting an “arminian” interpretation of the gospel. It was only after he was saved, he converted to calvinism.

        The blogspheres are full of personal testimonies of people confessing “I was saved 5, 10, 20 years ago, but just recently came to accept the doctrines of grace”. That alone is proof that calvinism is not the gospel. One must believe the one true gospel in order to be saved.

        Calvinism has never added one soul to the kingdom of Christ. In fact, calvinism is hid from the Lost.

        In Him.

          Mary

          Thank you for pointing that out. I believe you’re right. I apologize for my mistatement.

          James

          Wingedfooted,

          You are absolutely correct! Calvinism has never added one soul to the kingdom of God and praise God for that! Neither has Arminianism either. Only God by the blood of Christ has added souls to the kingdom of God. That is why it is so important that we do not become divisive on this issue. While we can hold our theological beliefs about how salvation works and we need to do the best we can in interpreting Scripture, we must not allow them to become divisive. Sadly, this statement is saying that either you are part of the “traditional” majority of SBC members by accepting it, or you are out of the loop if you do not. I, for one, do not want to be a part of the SBC “traditionalists.” I don’t want to be a Calvinist or an Arminian. I want to be a Bible based believer who trusts in God alone to work out our salvation. And I pray that’s what we all do, however we might believe God works that salvation out.

Jeff White

Dr. Mohler is exactly right, as usual. I said from the beginning, before Dr. Mohler’s response, that this statement BOARDERS on Semi-Pelagianism. If God chooses people because He forsees their faith (in other words, if election is BASED on foreknowledge, not just consistent with it), then people are in effect INITIATING their own salvation, because where did their forseen faith come from? If we say it is a gift of God (which it is), then why didn’t God give saving faith to everyone, and therefore, choose everyone? Man initiating his salvation is a mark of Semi-Pelagianism.

One of the main facets of all this is that the signers of this statement must believe that the founding fathers of the SBC were incorrect in their soteriological beliefs, because originally, unlike today, the majority of Southern Baptists were Calvinistic. It’s clear from the founding writings of SBC leaders, such as the “Abstract of Principles” at Southern Seminary.

Either God is ABSOLUTELY sovereign or He is not. If He is, which I believe, then that includes human wills and human destinies. If He is not, then He isn’t really God.

This statement will be completely devisive in the end, and will make it more of an issue than it already is. This will only throw gas on the fire in both directions.

wingedfooted1

Blessings, James.

You said…. “Calvinism has never added one soul to the kingdom of God and praise God for that! Neither has Arminianism….”

Ironically, Arminianism is still Calvinism, just to a lesser degree. Arminians are, after all, either 1 or 2 point Calvinists. Both Calvinists and Arminians believe in the Augustinian concept of total depravity (the difference only being in the solution). And it is because of this one Roman Catholic concept that is causing this controversy (by the way, Augustine was a Roman Catholic. He was never a Baptist and wouldn’t be today).

You said…. “I don’t want to be a Calvinist or an Arminian.”

I agree. And I am not. However, when asked if Arminians are saved, Calvinist R.C. Sproul answered “yes….but just barely.”

Now if, according to Calvinists, Arminians are just barely saved, what does that say about the salvation of you and me? Or the contributors to this new statement?

Calvinism has always been divisive and since it is not the gospel (as you rightly confirm) I believe the leadership of the SBC is correct in outlining what the true gospel of Jesus Christ is. And as long as this statement omits any hint of Calvinism’s total depravity, both Calvinists (4 and 5 pointers) and Arminians (1 and 2 pointers) won’t be happy.

Grace

Lasaro Flores

My response to Mary: I didn’t say that if anyone doesn’t accept my “Calvinism” they don’t get saved. Calvinism does not save anyone; it is God of His Free and Sovereign Grace in Christ Jesus that does it! In fact, I can say that one can be a Calvinist doctrinally and yet not be saved; just as an “Arminian” by their theology will not save them. But one thing I am sure of: Just as Spurgeon once said that to him what is referred as “Calvinism” is the true and only “gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20:24), there can be no salvation apart from it. But it is not because it is called “Calvinism,” but because it is the true doctrines that are “to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit, AND BELIEF OF THE TRUTH” (2 Thessalonians 2:13). The Doctrines of Grace, commonly called “Calvinism,” are the only ones that give hope to sinners. These glorious doctrines were from the beginning, even before Calvin.

Response to Wingfooted1: No, I wasn’t saved because I heard an “Arminian” interpretation of the Gospel. I was saved because in spite of the Arminian Gospel, God had His eyes on me from eternity past in Christ Jesus and so He “saved (me), and called (me)with an holy calling, not according to (my) works, but ACCORDING TO HIS OWN PURPOSE AND GRACE, WHICH WAS GIVEN (ME) IN CHRIST JESUS BEFORE THE WORLD BEGAN” (1 Timothy 1:9). So, I can say Biblically and not be incorrect: Any “Arminian” that is saved right now is saved because God has chosen him/her for salvation. In time, if they are truly saved, they will be able to confess: “But by the grace of God I am what I am” (1 Corinthians 15:10) because they will be taught of God (John 6:45) that it is ALL OF, and BY GRACE, “to the praise of the glory of his grace” (Ephesians 1:6). Amen.

Another thing we have to remember: Every sinner that is saved is not “theologically correct”. They are babes in Christ; and so the only thing they know and believe is the gospel according to 1 Corinthians 15:1-4, “which…makes (them) wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 3:15). They will know and understand the Doctrines of Grace as they are taught by the Spirit, unless they are taught differently by man. I can verify to that as I stated in another post, that it was only as I continue to study God’s Word after my conversion that I began to see the Doctrines of Grace as the Spirit of truth…guided (me) into all truth” (John 16:13). In fact, man had nothing to do with me rejecting Arminianism and accepting Calvinism; and because I believe it to be the true Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, I will stand on it for my soul’s salvation. Don’t misunderstand me: It is not a man’s name I’m referring to, but the glorious truths of these doctrines. Hallelujah!

One more thing I have to say: Doctrine is very important in “growing in grace and in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18). If you and I do not have a doctrinal foundation, then what do we believe? Perhaps you might be like many that boast and think it very noble to say: “I don’t believe in any doctrine but only in Jesus Christ.” I wonder then what is it they really believe… Even to just believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, one need to know and believe certain doctrines about Him, i.e. of His Deity, of His Person, of His Atonement, His bodily Resurrection, of His Salvation, of His Justification, etc. One can be totally and fatally wrong of these truths; and even claim to believe in Him and yet not be saved. So we cannot just think we can do away with doctrine; or put it aside for love or unity sake; especially more so if it has to do with the Glory of God and the salvation of the souls of men. You see, that is the difference between Arminianism and Calvinism: Arminianism only makes the possibility of salvation; whereas Calvinism makes certainty of salvation. In Arminianism man makes the deciding factor in being saved depending on his “free will;” whereas in Calvinism God makes the deciding factor in being saved depending on His “Free Grace.” Amen.

Did you know, brethren, that ALL OF US, whatever we claim to be, are ALL Calvinists on our knees? Our prayers are to a Sovereign God who answers our prayers as He sees fit; for don’t we pray as our precious Savior prayed: “Nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt” (Matthew 26:39). There on our knees we forget all of Free Will but only look to Free Grace for our precious Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. May it be so with each one of us for His sake. Amen.

wingedfooted1

Lasaro,

You said… “But one thing I am sure of: Just as Spurgeon once said that to him what is referred as ‘Calvinism’ is the true and only ‘gospel of the grace of God’, there can be no salvation apart from it.”

Thanks for sharing what you truly believe.

The Lord Jesus said in Mark 16:15-16… “And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth (the gospel) and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not (the gospel) shall be damned.”

If calvinism is the gospel, then how can someone reject it and still be saved?

    Bob Hadley

    John,

    You have finally made a statement that actually has some relevant truth to this whole discussion you have been so eloquently a part of… you wrote, “It is Arminianism, semi-Pelagianism, Pelagianism, that confuse that. They end up saying that God has provided a way to help people save themselves; they have to do something to add to it, even if it as as small as saying a prayer, making a choice. But scripture decisively answers that, in Romans 9:16, “it does not depend on human will or exertion but on God who has mercy.”

    “To help people save themselves” is a pelagian application. I challenge you to show how the statement you are criticizing meets your own statement. It does not.

    May I also suggest to you that your definition of what “helps people save themselves” as saying something as small as a prayer or making a choice” also impugns calvinism because the calvinist position is that repentance and faith which are choices individuals make are still necessary for conversion… (it is just God that gives them the ability to make them)

    As for the passage in Romans you cite, salvation is indeed not dependent “on human will (that would indeed be pelagianism) or exertion (hum… could be calvinism… I said COULD BE) but on God who has mercy.”

    ><>”

      wingedfooted1

      John,

      You said… “The truly saved person will repent and believe but he does so because he has been already saved by God, regenerated.”

      Just for clarification…..are you saying salvation (regeneration) precedes faith?

      Bob Hadley

      John,

      Thanks for clearing things up so clearly… you are doing a wonderful job!!!!

      You said, “The one thing in common with Arminianism, Semi-Pelagainism and Pelagianism (three nuances of synergism), is that the final, determinative act for salvation must come from the human person. ”

      Understand P and S-P do not concern themselves with the “final determinative act” as much as they concern themselves with the initial act of salvation as coming from man and God’s grace to follow. You have danced around this nuance and failed to acknowledge that.

      I really do thank you for your typo and for correcting it: I will even bold print your clarification: “The truly saved person will repent and believe but he does so because he has been already saved by God, regenerated.”

      I think I will highlight it again: “The truly saved person will repent and believe but he does so because he has been already saved by God, regenerated.”

      For the record, this is why I as a Southern Baptist adamantly disagree with Calvinism. It is rare that a calvinist will own up to this statement. I appreciate your doing so.

      ><>”

      Les

      Bob,

      As you quote John,

      ““The truly saved person will repent and believe but he does so because he has been already saved by God, regenerated.”

      Maybe clarify before you run off and paste in in elsewhere. I agree with John’s quote with this clarification,

      “The truly saved person will repent and believe but he does so because he has been regenerated by God.”

      As I have said elsewhere when one of you synergists says something like, “I don’t understand why you Calvinists think God saves you so you can get saved,” “salvation” is a word encompassing all of calling, regeneration, conversion, etc.

      That’s why I like my modification of John’s quote better. lest synergists try to use it to make us look inconsistent of silly.

      Les

      wingedfooted1

      Les,

      I think John’s comment was quite clear. Its not the first time I have read that line of thinking.

      Loraine Boettner writes…
      “A man is not saved because he believes in Christ; he believes in Christ because he is saved.” (The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination)

      Put simply, they are saying salvation precedes faith.

      Donald

      “Calvinism (i.e. the gospel)”

      Wow! Here, then, is your problem. You need to spend a little more time in the Bible (i.e. The Gospel).

      I can’t help but notice where you capitalized and where you did not. Bit of a telling slip, there.

      Bob Hadley

      Les,

      Couple of comments: first of all, it is not my habit to “run off and past in somewhere else” anything. I am fully capable of arguing my on my own.

      Second, I will not take your remark “As I have said elsewhere when one of you synergists says something like…” as condescending as some might do.

      as for your clarification, ““The truly saved person will repent and believe but he does so because he has been regenerated by God.”

      I still disagree and your linguistic alteration does very little to clarify anything and here is why: I do not believe the “truly saved person” or “the truly converted person” WILL REPENT AND BELIEVE: that is problematic any way you rearrange the words…

      A truly LOST PERSON will repent and believe and THAT PERSON WILL BE TRULY SAVED.

      That is the reason this discussion is taking place. It is important HOW one presents conversion and God’s role in salvation. Calvinism posits God’s role as the single determining factor, in fact the ONLY determining factor in salvation. That means He is the determining factor in who is NOT saved. This is a statement that challenges the character of God and what SOME believe the Bible teaches. I am one of those.

      ><>”

        Alan Davis

        Bob,

        Not arguing brother just asking a question. How does God electing and predestination challenge His character? Can we actually challenge God on this? I mean are you saying “that just isn’t fair” or do some or all humans “deserve” a second chance? Im not sure how it challenges the character of God at all. If He let us all go to hell right now it would be justice, perfect justice.

          Bob Hadley

          Alan,

          Personally I see reprobation as a charge against God’s character. It is one thing to say God is just in His punishing me for my sin and His not giving me a chance to repent. I simply cannot accept that view of soteriology.

          Simple as that.

          ><>”

            Alan Davis

            I hear your point Bob. I am not sure what one would do with several passages and principles through scripture from that view point. I also still cannot see how God being omnisciencant and from Rom. 9 in how He seems to make his choosing by and for His on purpose (and also Eph.1) and the fact some things must be left up to the “mystries of God”, how this all should make us question God’s character. Given we must accept the fact that many die without ever hearing the gospel and many died who had no faith nor even heard of the God of the Bible before Christ. seems if God’s character is called into question on election and predestination the logical thought pattern would be to also question His Character in Billions who never heard the gospel and died? However I do hear you Bob and do understand what you are saying even though I do not fully agree with it.

            Alan Davis

      Les

      Bob,

      I certainly meant no disrespect when I referred to you as a synergist.

      You said,

      “as for your clarification, ““The truly saved person will repent and believe but he does so because he has been regenerated by God.”

      I should have been more careful. Let me rewrite:

      “”””The truly BORN AGAIN person will repent and believe but he does so because he has been regenerated by God.””””

      “I still disagree and your linguistic alteration does very little to clarify anything and here is why: I do not believe the “truly saved person” or “the truly converted person” WILL REPENT AND BELIEVE: that is problematic any way you rearrange the words…”

      Well conversion IS repentance and faith (belief).

      “Calvinism posits God’s role as the single determining factor, in fact the ONLY determining factor in salvation.”

      Not correct to the Calvinist view. Man’s response is also a factor, of course not to mention ordinarily the preaching of the gospel.

      “That means He is the determining factor in who is NOT saved.”

      True in a sense. He elected some before the foundation of the world. Others he did not so elect.

      “When the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord; and as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed.” Acts 13.48

        Bob Hadley

        Les,

        “Calvinism posits God’s role as the single determining factor, in fact the ONLY determining factor in salvation.”

        Not correct to the Calvinist view.Man’s response is also a factor, of course not to mention ordinarily the preaching of the gospel.

        What is more accurate is not the way calvinists explain it. God’s role in salvation is the only factor that matters or else you would not use the term effectual grace; while it is true that man’s response is also a factor, you must accept the reality that the only person who can or will respond and believe is the individual God gives the ability to believe… thus my contention that God and God alone is the sole determining factor for the calvinist view of salvation.

        Just clarifying myself a little more.

        ><>”

          Les

          Bob,

          “…you must accept the reality that the only person who can or will respond and believe is the individual God gives the ability to believe… thus my contention that God and God alone is the sole determining factor for the calvinist view of salvation.”

          Bob I certainly see what you are saying. I suppose for you it is an either/or situation? Or a both/and?

          “…God and God alone is the sole determining factor for the calvinist view of salvation.”

          Soli deo gloria!!!

      wingedfooted1

      Hi John.

      I do appreciate the clarification. I admire your conviction.

      At least we do agree on one thing. That salvation takes place at the moment of regeneration. In other words, regeneration, or the new birth, is how God saves us (Titus 3:5).

      Obviously where we differ is when salvation (or regeneration) takes place. I believe we are saved (regenerated) by grace thru faith (Ephesians 2:8) and not saved (regenerated) by grace to faith.

      Grace with peace.

    Lasaro Flores

    First, wingfooted1, even if we leave out the term “Calvinism;” the true Gospel of the Grace of God remains; for it is not Calvinism that makes the Gospel. I agree with Spurgeon when he said the term “calvinism” is just a nickname by which it is referred, and reveals what a professing Christian believes about the gospel.
    Now to your statement: “If calvinism is the gospel, then how can someone reject it and still be saved?” Every sinner will NATURALLY will reject the Gospel, no matter who preaches it. There is within every person a hate for God (Rom.1:30); and doesn’t want to do anything with Him. That’s why it is said “there is none that seeketh after God” (3:11); and the word “none” means ‘absolutely no one.’ Left to himself, they “will not come to (Christ), that (they) might have life’ (Jn.5:40). Unless God of His grace intervene on their behalf, they will never believe it and will keep rejecting it. That is their natural action; for “the natural man (i.e. every lost and spiritually dead person, which is ALL OF US) receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Cor.2:14). And as long as they remain in that state, they will reject the gospel and never be saved.
    Of course, personally I rejected the Gospel for many years; but when it pleased God of His grace to reveal to me His beloved Son as my only hope, then I believed on His Name and received Him as my Savior. This will be true of all “that the Father (has given to His Son in election) shall come to (him); and him that cometh to (CHrist) (he)will in no wise cast out.” (Jn.6:37). None of the elect will ever reject the gospel and be lost; in time, (i.e. God’s time) they will be brought to faith by the grace of God to their salvation. Amen.

J.R.

I am not a member of a Southern Baptist church. I have been previously, and I hold no ill feelings toward the SBC. I am glad that this issue has finally won the attention it deserves, but I am afraid there is precious little ground left for those who would not join a “tribe” of either viewpoint.

I am reminded of a few things by the comments here. I had a friend once ask me “what existed before creation?” I had to answer that we don’t really know. When did this answer become unbearable for so many? There are so many efforts in which we all participate and agree need to be accomplished, how can this debate divide us? In practice there is no observable difference between the Calvinist and the non-Calvinist. Both support missions, outreach, benevolence ministries, etc. I don’t think anyone here is claiming to be see the “stripe on the backs” of God’s elect. Aren’t we all preaching salvation through faith in Christ? Truth be told, there are those who fall away from church attendance and participation in Calvinist and non-Calvinist churches alike. Perhaps a discussion about discipleship would be more productive. Even the debate as to whether or not the tithe is a Christian obligation could be more helpful.

Just some rambling thoughts from an outside observer.

J.R.

Jon Speed

Apparently denial of original sin is no longer part of semi-Pelagianism? If you want to be taken seriously you all ought to be honest with the theological terms at hand. The statement on original sin is a denial of the doctrine based on ANY definition of it.

BTW, a denial of the truths that the founders of the SBC held to since 1925 is not “historic.” The right word is “recent.” My grandfather was born in 1919. In the space of a couple of generations the SBC has left its doctrinal moorings and the result is a largely unregenerated membership because practice follows belief. Easy believism and decisional regeneration have rendered all of our nose counting as nothing more than an exercise in the lie that is a statistic. At best it’s grandiose posturing.

To the Word and to the testimony. The burden of proof is squarely on the shoulders of the writers of this sham of a document to demonstrate that the proof texting they have done is a right interpretation of the Word of God in soteriology. So far, they have failed miserably. Citing Ephesians 1 to deny election is like citing John 1:13 in order to support the idea of free will. Citing a verse does not negate the truth of it.

    Lydia

    “In the space of a couple of generations the SBC has left its doctrinal moorings and the result is a largely unregenerated membership because practice follows belief.”

    Hmm. Like the Puritans. The Presbyterians. Geneva, etc. After all, practice follows belief.

      Jon Speed

      I may be ignorant but I don’t recall at any point in history that those who held to the Westminster Confession or the Second London Baptist Confession of 1689 where any Reformed church was counting as members either those who did not attend the church in the space of years or those who were physically dead. Neither do I recall any time when they denied original sin or considered as saved those who performed some outward ritual such as walking to the front of a church.

    Les

    Jon,

    And more if this denial theological truths is being exposed each day here. See a person going by “holden” near the bottom of this thread where he denies the imputation of Christ’s righteousness. And apparently some on here agree with holden!

    Leaves me wondering what other biblical doctrines will be jettisoned next.

Dale Pugh

I made the following comment in a thread elsewhere, but it seems that this would be the more appropriate place to join the discussion. After some consideration, I have edited and expanded my original comment.
I quote a traditionalist here:
“This ancient document is the most excellent epitome of the things most surely believed among us. It is not issued as an authoritative rule or code of faith, whereby you may be fettered, but as a means of edification in righteousness. It is an excellent, though not inspired, expression of the teaching of those Holy Scriptures by which all confessions are to be measured. We hold to the humbling truths of God’s sovereign grace in the salvation of lost sinners. Salvation is through Christ alone and by faith alone.” C. H. Spurgeon–”Spurgeon’s Introduction to the Confession of 1689″
I’m interested in knowing exactly when the BF&M (Any of them. Take your pick.) became “confessions” and not “statements”? In my opinion, the difference between the two is that a confession defines essential qualities of doctrine (what I must believe) while a statement describes qualities of doctrine (these things guide my beliefs). Never in my years as a Southern Baptist (Baptist college and seminary educated) have I ever been told, as Mohler in his rebuttal to this document states, “…we must recognize and affirm together that we have already stated where Southern Baptists stand on the great doctrines of our faith. The Baptist Faith & Message is our confession of faith, and it binds us all together on common ground. The BF&M does not state doctrines comprehensively, but it defines our necessary consensus. Every Southern Baptist is free to believe more than the confession affirms, but never less.” In other words, The BF&M is defining what I am to believe. Should I believe that there are articles or statements within the BF&M having edifying qualities but not binding qualities, then I am outside the faith. Those outside the faith, that faith being defined by the binding qualities of the confession, are wrong. They have to be wrong. Otherwise the confession says nothing of import. Therefore, since I don’t find some of the statements within the confession to be of much value to my faith since Christians have always disagreed somewhat on those issues, I am, in the end, a heretic. A heretic. Really? Even Spurgeon didn’t go that far. (For example, the statement on Peace and War. Since when do I have to believe anything in particular about peace and war to be a believer, much less a Baptist? But since it is in the BF&M, it is part of the Confession. Being part of the Confession, it is, in Mohler’s view, binding. Remember, I can believe no less than what the BF&M says.)
Since when has the BF&M had the intent of binding me to any particular doctrinal position by it’s definitions? Is that the intent of this “traditional statement?” Then I reject them both. However, if the intent is to edify and describe the faith I hold dear, then I prayerfully and thoughtfully embrace parts of both while at the same time questioning and willingly debating some other parts.
Mohler warns against “tribalism.” Tribalism has been with us for almost 2000 years (1 Corinthians is a prime example of early tribalism). Can I still work with those with whom I disagree on certain doctrinal matters? I certainly hope so, or I stand alone. Do I have to sign their confession or statement or whatever you may wish to call it? I certainly hope not, because I won’t.
One reason I didn’t pursue a career within our SBC educational institutions is because I knew in my own conscience that I couldn’t sign the BF&M. I will not be contractually bound to any man’s interpretation of what I should or shouldn’t believe. Not because I necessarily disagree with those statements, but because of the inordinate theological/doctrinal weight bestowed on them. They are “Statements of Faith,” in my estimation, and they hold no binding, authoritative, or inspirational qualities which have been or ever will be a fully worked out theology with no room for error or debate.
It’s interesting to read the names of the signers of this document. Many of them were part of the “conservative resurgence.” I wasn’t a part of that movement either, but what’s happened here? Do they see something in the “new Calvinism” that they deem dangerous? How is it that they came to the conclusion that this statement was necessary? I’m not part of the inner circle privy to the answers, but it would be interesting for those of us who are “everyday” Southern Baptists to hear what the “upper echelon” (who seem to possess a personal authority to speak for the rest of us) was thinking when they came up with this.
One final though: The tenor of this discussion and others found elsewhere shows that some of us, while claiming to believe the doctrines of grace, fail to actually possess grace in the form of “speaking the truth in love.” While espousing truth do we slap our brother in the face with shouts of “Liar”? I’m not pointing at anyone in particular. I’m simply saying that we might want to tone down the rhetoric. Honest debate is impossible where truth is sacrificed on the altar of emotion. I offer this admonition while recognizing that some will ignore it. Oh well…….

Alan Davis

OK, with all the banter the question remains, even though Dr Hankins denys the statement in anyway even appears to support or affirm SP and that was not the intent of the statement in anyway, the wording of the staement still stands and does to appear to affirm SP.
Semi-Pelagianism is a weaker form of Pelagianism a heresy derived from from Pelagius who lived in the 5th century A.D. and was a teacher in Rome. Semi-Pelagianism (advocated by Cassian at Marseilles, 5th Century) did not deny original sin and its effects upon the human soul and will. But, it taught that God and man cooperate to achieve man’s salvation. This cooperation is not by human effort as in keeping the law, but rather in the ability of a person to make a free will choice. The semi-Pelagian teaches that man can make the first move toward God by seeking God out of his own free will and that man can cooperate with God’s grace even to the keeping of his faith through human effort. This would mean that God responds to the initial effort of person and that God’s grace is not absolutely necessary to maintain faith.

The problem is that this is no longer grace. Grace is the completely unmerited and freely given favor of God upon the sinner. But, if man is the one who first seeks God, then God is responding to the good effort of seeking him. This would mean that God is offering a proper response to the initial effort of man. This is not grace, but what is due the person who chooses to believe in God apart from God’s initial effort.

“New Traditionalists”
We affirm that, because of the fall of Adam, every person inherits a nature and environment inclined toward sin and that every person who is capable of moral action will sin. Each person’s sin alone brings the wrath of a holy God, broken fellowship with Him, ever-worsening selfishness and destructiveness, death, and condemnation to an eternity in hell.

We deny that Adam’s sin resulted in the incapacitation of any person’s free will or rendered any person guilty before he has personally sinned. While no sinner is remotely capable of achieving salvation through his own effort, we deny that any sinner is saved apart from a free response to the Holy Spirit’s drawing through the Gospel.
We deny that the decision of faith is an act of God rather than a response of the person.

Alan Davis

The document also appears to contradict this portion of the BFM. Once again i am not sure of the intents and am not saying this was intentional on writers part.

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.

“to which” seems to be key I think. the change is wrought by the Holy Spirit “to which” the sinner responds with the inseparable graces of repentance and faith. Seems we have already agreed that the Holy Spirit does the work of regeneration first then the sinner responds with repentance and faith.

Now I full well know that everyone of these men who have written and signed this document can discern this and much more themselves. I can in no way know the “intent” but the document still appears to be in contradiction of what I have written of, or at least to some of us SB.

Alan Davis

    P Via

    John, Alan, you wrote:

    Sorry: typo above. It should be:
    “The truly saved person will repent and believe but he does so because he has been already saved by God, regenerated.”

    “to which” seems to be key I think. the change is wrought by the Holy Spirit “to which” the sinner responds with the inseparable graces of repentance and faith. Seems we have already agreed that the Holy Spirit does the work of regeneration first then the sinner responds with repentance and faith.

    If regeneration precedes faith, is that not a form of Hyper-Calvinism?

      Alan Davis

      Dear PVia,

      I am not totally positive what I wrote would be hyper-Calvinism, I do not think it is hyper-C. However what I wrote is what our BFM 2000 says we believe (SB) concerning regeneration.

      Alan Davis

        P Via

        Hi Alan,

        This is from the BFM 2000:

        A. 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.

        So you are saying that regeneration precedes faith by this statement? I thought that it says that the change of heart wrought by the Holy Spirit first and then the sinner responds. That is when regeneration takes place, isn’t it? Or this regeneration already happened before the sinner was convicted of his sin, according to the BFM?

          Alan Davis

          I’m saying what it says…just as it says, “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 brought by the Holy Spirit which causes the sinner to respond in repentance of faith.

    Donald

    No. Diagraming the sentences really helps here.

      J.R.

      Here’s what I take from this statement:

      “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.”

      Where “Holy Spirit through conviction of sin” = A
      and
      Where “sinner responds in repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ” = B
      and
      Where “It is a change of heart” (Regeneration) = C
      then
      A+B = C

      The BF&M is stating that regeneration is a change of heart occurring when the work of the Holy Spirit in the conviction of sin is met with the response of repentance toward God and Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

      Not particularly Calvinistic or controversial.

Jared

Reading articles such as this makes me wonder why He allows any of us to enter into His presence. He creates the universe and we have the audacity to tell Him how far He is allowed to go when it comes to redeeming His enemy!

At the end of the days I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High, and praised and honored him who lives forever,
for his dominion is an everlasting dominion,
and his kingdom endures from generation to generation;
all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing,
and he does according to his will among the host of heaven
and among the inhabitants of the earth;
and none can stay his hand
or say to him, “What have you done?”
(Daniel 4:34-35)

Dale Pugh

Some questions:
1. If Calvinism is clear thinking about the Gospel and one cannot be saved without such clear thinking theology, were there no clear thinking Christians prior to John Calvin? Were there Calvinists before Calvin? Was Peter a Calvinist? How about John or James? Surely Paul was a Calvinist! They just didn’t know it yet. Thus, their thinking could not really be clear (Indeed, Paul recognized that he saw things as in a shadowy mirror. Waiting for the light of Calvin, I suppose.), though inspired by the Holy Spirit and esteemed as Scripture by us today who, thankfully, have John Calvin to explain it all for us.
2. If Arminians are “barely saved” as Sproul is quoted above, what does such salvation look like? How is one “barely” saved? Did Christ “barely” die for these who are “barely” saved? I recognize Sproul’s humor in the statement, but…….
3. Such quotes point out a bigger problem–How do we define “saved”? If one proclaims faith in Christ, follows Him in baptism, lives in discipleship, and then walks away from that proclamation and lifestyle, is such a one “apostate”? Has that one never truly believed, thus was and is not a “true” Christian (whatever that means)?
4. “While no sinner is remotely capable of achieving salvation through his own effort, we deny that any sinner is saved apart from a free response to the Holy Spirit’s drawing through the Gospel.”–How is this semi-Pelagianism or, even worse, full Pelagianism? The sinner is not saved by his or her own effort, but must personally respond to the drawing of the Holy Spirit.
5. Is God in His sovereignty unable to handle my free will? Just as my own children make their own choices about life, does Sovereign God not allow us to choose, even though that choice may be against Him? Saul sinned and turned his back on God who had called him. David sinned and repented. Judas sinned, betrayed Jesus, experienced sorrow for his actions, and ended up walking away from Jesus. Peter sinned, denied Jesus,experienced sorrow for his actions, then was restored to fellowship with Him by his choice–“Lord, you know I love you.”
Any enlightenment is appreciated.
Be nice.

    Jared

    Dale,

    Do you believe “once saved, always saved”? (If not, Stop Reading)
    Just for clarification, I do not believe a believer can lose their salvation. I think what a lot of people want is just consistency. Do you believe that a man has a free and unfettered will completely capable of Accepting, Choosing, Turning, Giving, or Deciding (whatever verb you choose) the unmerited grace offered fully and freely by God at any time? I hope I am not presuming that you would say Yes! Then why would a just God who respects the complete autonomy of His creation bind the free will of man once he becomes a child of God. Would I not be able to exercise that same free will in rejecting that same grace at any time, and then reaccepting at any time and so on?

      Dale Pugh

      To answer your questions:
      1. Yes. And I did continue reading……..
      2. No. I believe Ephesians 2:8 would guide me on this point. I do honestly wrestle with Jesus’ statement that “not all who call me ‘Lord, Lord’ will enter the kingdom of heaven.” And I suppose some of my struggle comes from that fact that He also says “you will know them by their fruits.”
      Let me clarify that I am in no way pointing a finger at or judging the heart of another. I suppose that my desire is to make sure that I remain constant in fellowship and discipleship and to be an example of such to the people in my sphere of influence.
      Thanks

    wingedfooted1

    Hi Dale.

    Let me attempt to address a few of them.

    1. According to Calvinist James White, our Lord Jesus Christ taught extreme Calvinism. What we are reading in these threads is what the Calvinist truly believes. That Calvinism, and Calvinism alone, is the one true gospel.

    Consider this quote from Spurgeon….
    “The doctrines of original sin, election, effectual calling, final perseverance, and all those great truths which are called Calvinism—though Calvin was not the author of them, but simply an able writer and preacher upon the subject—are, I believe, the essential doctrines of the Gospel that is in Jesus Christ. Now, I do not ask you whether you believe all this—it is possible you may not; but I believe you will before you enter heaven. I am persuaded, that as God may have washed your hearts, he will wash your brains before you enter heaven.”

    Basically, what Spurgeon is saying, and Calvinists secretly believe, is that the kingdom of Christ is nothing more than a Calvinist Convention. Spurgeon says more…

    “I believe the man who is not willing to submit to the electing love and sovereign grace of God, has great reason to question whether he is a Christian at all, for the spirit that kicks against that is the spirit of the devil, and the spirit of the unhumbled, unrenewed heart.”

    Hmmmmmm…….

    3. “Saved”, from my understanding of scripture, is being born of the Spirit. We are “saved” when we become a child of God. Salvation is not a process. The moment we become a child of God (regenerated/born of the Spirit) our salvation is complete (Titus 3:5). After that is the beginning of the sanctification process, our maturing and walk with Christ. My walk and growth might be embarrassing at times, but there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

    4. Calvinists (and this includes Arminians as well, since they are either 1 or 2 point Calvinists) believe in Total Depravity (they only differ on the solution). Since this statement doesn’t speak of any supernatural work of the Holy Spirit, via regeneration (hence Calvinism) or being released from the bondage of sin (hence Arminianism), being necessary for bringing the sinner to faith, for them, the only option left is semi-pelagianism. Both Calvinists and Arminians error when they use John 6:44 and John 6:65. When read in context, these verses are not suggesting the sinner must be regenerated (calvinism) or released from the bondage of sin (arminian) in order to believe, but rather we come to faith in Jesus Christ thru divine instruction. “They will all be taught by God” (John 6:45). As long as this SBC statement omits any hint of total depravity, since it is essential to their theology, they won’t be happy.

    Grace

      Dale Pugh

      Grace to you as well! I love that word “grace”!
      In response to your thoughts:
      1. Hmmmmm……..indeed!
      3. My understanding as well.
      4. Touche’

Donald

John Carpenter says “The idea of a will that is free, by itself, to choose for God, is semi- or full-blown Pelagianism.”

Well, since that is not what the statement says nor what any of the signers believe I have to wonder what it has to do with this discussion.

How about a will that can respond to the drawing of the Holy Spirit?

Alan Davis

What the statement says:
We deny that Adam’s sin resulted in the incapacitation of any person’s free will or rendered any person guilty before he has personally sinned. While no sinner is remotely capable of achieving salvation through his own effort, we deny that any sinner is saved apart from a free response to the Holy Spirit’s drawing through the Gospel.
We deny that the decision of faith is an act of God rather than a response of the person.

Definition of SP:
OK, with all the banter the question remains, even though Dr Hankins denys the statement in anyway even appears to support or affirm SP and that was not the intent of the statement in anyway, the wording of the staement still stands and does to appear to affirm SP.
Semi-Pelagianism is a weaker form of Pelagianism a heresy derived from from Pelagius who lived in the 5th century A.D. and was a teacher in Rome. Semi-Pelagianism (advocated by Cassian at Marseilles, 5th Century) did not deny original sin and its effects upon the human soul and will. But, it taught that God and man cooperate to achieve man’s salvation. This cooperation is not by human effort as in keeping the law, but rather in the ability of a person to make a free will choice. The semi-Pelagian teaches that man can make the first move toward God by seeking God out of his own free will and that man can cooperate with God’s grace even to the keeping of his faith through human effort. This would mean that God responds to the initial effort of person and that God’s grace is not absolutely necessary to maintain faith.

Looks like from the very document that is where this is heading, SP.

    Bob Hadley

    I guess you guys only read comments with respect to what you write or you just read your own comments…

    Lets look at what YOU just wrote…. “The semi-Pelagian teaches that man can make the first move toward God by seeking God out of his own free will and that man can cooperate with God’s grace even to the keeping of his faith through human effort. This would mean that God responds to the initial effort of person and that God’s grace is not absolutely necessary to maintain faith.”

    Nowhere in this statement or any other statement is there ANY hint that man in and of his own volition makes any kind of move toward God and God responds to his initial effort. This is the most essential element of pelagianism and its derivatives.

    Besides, think about it; it does not matter WHAT an individual thinks… it is impossible for ANYONE to make a move toward God because God has already taken the first move in His Son dying on the cross… now… what you are really doing is resisting the issue of this statement refusing to accept total depravity and inability and this is pelagian charge is the empty retort.

    It simply is not so; anyone who has any integrity would not level such a charge unless of course they did not know any better. So can we PLEASE move to something of more substance; this argument is getting old.

    ><>”

      Alan Davis

      Bob,

      Not arguing just stating what was said in the statement and stating the definition of SP…
      New Traditionalists:
      “We deny that the decision of faith is an act of God rather than a response of the person.”
      SP:
      “The semi-Pelagian teaches that man can make the first move toward God by seeking God out of his own free will”

      Is denying the act of faith is an act of God and that man makes the first move…the response in the first statement…that is what it says, the same as the second statement?

      And Bob, are you saying that Christ dying on the Cross is the act of the drawing of the Holy Spirit to salvation? That doesn’t seem to line up with scripture. If that was the case then Paul wouldn’t have needed the Damascus road experience.

Alan Davis

Once again:
We as SB have already agreed on the workings of repentance, even though this is a statement and not a test.

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.

“to which” seems to be key I think. the change is wrought by the Holy Spirit “to which” the sinner responds with the inseparable graces of repentance and faith. Seems we have already agreed that the Holy Spirit does the work of regeneration first then the sinner responds with repentance and faith.

Now I full well know that everyone of these men who have written and signed this document can discern this and much more themselves. I can in no way know the “intent” but the document still appears to be in contradiction of what I have written of, or at least to some of us SB.

    Alan Davis

    Sorry, meant regeneration in last post, even though repentance is also included.

    J.R.

    Alan,

    Let me respectfully suggest that you may be misreading this statement: “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.”

    Consider that this may be the meaning: Regeneration is a change of heart wrought by, or worked out by, or accomplished by the Holy Spirit. I think we agree on that. Regeneration is accomplished by the Holy Spirit through conviction of sin. The “to which” refers to conviction of sin. The sinner responds to the Holy Spirits conviction of sin in repentance and faith.

      Alan Davis

      Brother JR,

      I do believe the sinner responds to the conviction of sin brought by the Holy Spirit. We may differ on why the sinner responds, I respectfully submit it appears from scripture and what our BFM says that the Holy Spirit brings the regeneration with a result of Holy Spirit caused conviction for sin (not just a worldly sorrow but a godly sorrow, which only God can bring) which results in the regenerated sinner responding with those inseparable graces of repentance and faith.
      However Brother JR, please hear me, my belief in the above does not lessen the command I have from our Savior to preach the gospel to all men everywhere calling them to flee from Christ. I feel from your short statement that you too have that heart and may the Lord continue to use the both of us in proclaiming the claims of Christ. Thank you for your kindness.

      Alan Davis

        Alan Davis

        “FLEE TO CHRIST” in the above statement. Please forgive me, I do not know how to change that post.
        Alan Davis

Alan Davis

Just a thought:
I believe I am so spiritually corrupt and prideful and rebellious that I would never have come to faith in Jesus without God’s merciful, sovereign victory over the last vestiges of my rebellion. (1 Corinthians 2:14; Ephesians 2:1–4; Romans 8:7).

I believe that God chose me to be his child before the foundation of the world, on the basis of nothing in me, foreknown or otherwise. (Ephesians 1:4–6; Acts 13:48; Romans 8:29–30; 11:5–7)

I believe Christ died as a substitute for sinners to provide a bona fide offer of salvation to all people, and that he had an invincible design in his death to obtain his chosen bride, namely, the assembly of all believers, whose names were eternally written in the book of life of the Lamb that was slain. (John 3:16; John 10:15; Ephesians 5:25; Revelation 13:8)

When I was dead in my trespasses, and blind to the beauty of Christ, God made me alive, opened the eyes of my heart, granted me to believe, and united me to Jesus, with all the benefits of forgiveness and justification and eternal life. (Ephesians 2:4–5; 2 Corinthians 4:6; Philippians 2:29; Ephesians 2:8–9; Acts 16:14; Ephesians 1:7; Philippians 3:9)

I am eternally secure not mainly because of anything I did in the past, but decisively because God is faithful to complete the work he began—to sustain my faith, and to keep me from apostasy, and to hold me back from sin that leads to death. (1 Corinthians 1:8–9; 1 Thessalonians 5:23–24; Philippians 1:6; 1 Peter 1:5; Jude 1:25; John 10:28–29; 1 John 5:16)

David

Here is a bit more detailed definition of Semi-Pelagianism according to Phillip Schaff vol 3 of his “History of the Christian Church.”

Semi-Pelagianism is a somewhat vague and indefinite attempt at reconciliation, hovering midway between the sharply marked systems of Pelagius and Augustine, taking off the edge of each, and inclining now to the one, now to the other. The name was introduced during the scholastic age, but the system of doctrine, in all essential points, was formed in Southern France in the fifth century, during the latter years of Augustine’s life and soon after his death. It proceeded from the combined influence of the pre-Augustinian synergism and monastic legalism. Its leading idea is, that divine grace and the human will jointly accomplish the work of conversion and sanctification, and that ordinarily man must take the first step. It rejects the Pelagian doctrine of the moral roundness of man, but rejects also the Augustinian doctrine of the entire corruption and bondage of the natural man, and substitutes the idea of a diseased or crippled state of the voluntary power. It disowns the Pelagian conception of grace as a mere external auxiliary; but also, quite as decidedly, the Augustinian doctrines of the sovereignty, irresistibleness, and limitation of grace; and affirms the necessity and the internal operation of grace with and through human agency, a general atonement through Christ, and a predestination to salvation conditioned by the foreknowledge of faith. The union of the Pelagian and Augustinian elements thus attempted is not, however, an inward organic coalescence, but rather a mechanical and arbitrary combination, which really satisfies neither the one interest nor the other, but commonly leans to the Pelagian side.

Lasaro Flores

I would like to suggest something: Leave out the term”calvinism” and all the others, then solely state the doctrines on believes and compare them with the inerrant word of God, and see where you are at. Someone ask the question whether Peter was a “Calvinist;” of course, the answer Peter was before Calvin; nevertheless, the Doctrines of Grace preceded even before Peter. I know, by the grace of God, that what I believe with respect to TULIP, is nothing else but the truth as it is in Jesus.
There is no sense of using “straw men” in order to try to disprove any theological system… Go to God’s Word and prove what you believe; for as 2 Timothy 2:16 states: “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” If am I am wrong about doctrine, correct me with the Word of God, but grant me the right to do the same; in love, of course (Ephesians 4:15); “but speaking the truth in love, (so we all) may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ.” Amen.
By the way, as a thought, consider these Scriptures and see what it teaches: “All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and HE TO WHOMSOEVER THE SON WILL REVEAL HIM” (Matthew 11:27); and “Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for FLESH AND BLOOD HATH NOT REVEALED IT UNTO THEE, BUT MY FATHER WHICH IS IN HEAVEN” (16:17). Is this Arminianism or Calvinism? There will always be a tendency to refer to such “names” in that it reveals what we believe about the Gospel of Christ. I praise God for His amazing grace and mercy in Christ Jesus; for I wonder where we would be without it? Amen.

Roof

I’m not sure if this was already quoted: Psalm 51: 5 Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.

Also Romans 9:14-18

What then shall we say? Is God unjust? Not at all! For he says to Moses
“I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.”
It does not, therefore, depend on man’s desire or effort, but on God’s mercy. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh: “I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden.
One of you will say to me, “Then why does God still blame us? For who resists his will?” For who are you, O man, to talk back to God?….

There are things about God we will not understand on this side of eternity. But God is good, and merciful, and just, and above all Holy, Holy, Holy.

Calvinists have their Biblical basis for their beliefs, just as Arminians do. We should stand together for the sake of the Gospel and the Great Commission as our Lord Jesus commands, and be careful not to stand in judgement of what the Bible says to be true just because it goes beyond our own understandings. I don’t want to be guilty of talking back to God.

Rather, as in Psalm 2:12, Kiss the Son, lest he be angry and you be destroyed in your way, for his wrath can flare up in a moment. Blessed are all who take refuge in him.

I readily admit I don’t understand this fully, but I fear God and am weary of drawing conclusions about deep things I know I cannot understand at this time.

Les

holden,

Well I’m shocked. Are you a Southern Baptist and did you sign the statement that is the subject of these posts?

Les

Lasaro Flores

To Holden: You stated: “The term “Christ’s righteousness” is not even found in Scripture. Even less is it true that Christ’s righteousness is imputed to the believer. Must I conclude that this too belongs to Calvinistic nonsense? ”

What is your righteousness before God; and when you appear before Him in Judgment Day what will be your “righteousness” which He will accept from you? More could be ask of you, but suffice it for now. Consider the following the following Scriptures and disprove that true believers DO NOT have Christ’s righteousness imputed to them…
1. “The righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe” (Rom.3:22);
2. “For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted (imputed) unto him for righteousness;” “Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works;” “And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness;” “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth” (Rom.4:3,6,22; 10:4);
3. “But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption” (1 Cor.1:30);
4. “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him” (2 Cor.5:21);
5. “For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith” (Gal.5:5);
6. “And (Noah) became heir of the righteousness which is by faith” (Heb.11:7); and of course, many more.
By the way, it is not “faith” that is our “righteousness,” but the righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ, who is made our righteousness (1 Cor.1:31); and in Whom we are made the righteousness of God in Him (2 Cor.5:21). Hallelujah and Amen!!!

Alan Davis

Thought this was a good quote:

“Men demand to be the masters of their destiny. This is the energy that drives the hatred of Calvinism. No amount of scripture or logic will change this hostility. Men are not content to be the clay. They demand to be the Potter. To satisfy this craving they will believe the absurd and illogical.” ~ JW

Alan Davis

Thought this was a good quote:

“Men demand to be the masters of their destiny. This is the energy that drives the hatred of Calvinism. No amount of scripture or logic will change this hostility. Men are not content to be the clay. They demand to be the Potter. To satisfy this craving they will believe the absurd and illogical.”~JW