A Response to Dr. Tom Ascol
Concerning His Adherence to Imputed Guilt
Despite Its Denial in the Two Most Recent
Versions of The Baptist Faith and Message

June 12, 2012

By Dr. Rick Patrick
Senior Pastor
Pleasant Ridge Baptist Church
Hueytown, Alabama


In November, fellow Southern Baptist Pastor, Dr. Tom Ascol, will celebrate his thirty year anniversary as Executive Director for the Founders Ministries, an organization “committed to the recovery of the Gospel and the reformation of local churches.” By this, they clearly mean to influence churches toward the acceptance of Calvinism, as is their right, just as it is my right to oppose their efforts if I believe that both the Gospel and the churches they seek to influence are better left alone, as is, of course, the case.

Nevertheless, congratulations are in order for this thirty year anniversary. While I cannot wish upon Dr. Ascol that his tribe would increase, I can acknowledge the three decade existence of this tribe and commend his diligent leadership, especially compared with the fledgling clan I do not lead, but merely serve. I only pray that, in like manner, my new fellowship centered on John 3:16 traditionalism will be around in thirty years.

I am especially grateful for Dr. Ascol’s comprehensive discussion of A Statement of the Traditional Southern Baptist Understanding of God’s Plan of Salvation. Although I disagree with his conclusions, the attention he has shown by taking this document seriously and interacting with it carefully only confirms the need in our convention for this conversation to take place, and is certainly commendable and praiseworthy.

Unfortunately, in Part 5 of his series, dated June 5, 2012, Dr. Ascol concludes by admitting his fear that an Arminian is actually correct, and that Dr. Roger Olson may have been right to claim that “most American Christians, including most Baptists, are semi-Pelagian.” For a Calvinist and an Arminian to join forces and suggest that most Baptists are guilty of heresy seems, on the face of it, to be a much more divisive action than it would be for hundreds of Baptists, for example, to sign a simple doctrinal paper without accusing anyone of any kind of heresy at all.

It would also seem to me that if one were going to suggest the error of others, one might wish to be found in complete agreement with the confessional statement currently embraced by one’s own denomination. Dr. Ascol possesses no such standing. His position that guilt precedes sin rejects both the 2000 and the 1963 Baptist Faith and Message versions and must go all the way back to 1925 for support. Before describing the Traditionalist position that sin precedes guilt as an incorrect view, Dr. Ascol must first place a copy of the document in a DeLorean and then allow the flux capacitor to whisk it back to 1962, the last time The Baptist Faith and Message contradicted it.

Although such a fictional journey back to 1962 would indeed render this one portion of the Traditional Statement outside the boundaries of The Baptist Faith and Message of that time, the trip would have its share of unintended consequences. While gaining his preferred doctrine of imputed guilt, Dr. Ascol would in return lose a much more valuable Calvinist asset through this direct denial of unconditional election:

“The blessings of salvation are made free to all by the gospel. It is the duty of all to accept them by penitent and obedient faith. Nothing prevents the salvation of the greatest sinner except his own voluntary refusal to accept Jesus Christ as teacher, Saviour, and Lord.”

 

Furthermore, the 1925 version explicitly places faith before regeneration, which is described as a “free grace conditioned upon faith in Christ.” One wonders if these are truly trades Dr. Ascol would be willing to make. We cannot help but sympathize with him in his time travel quandary. He can remain here with a neutral position on election, a neutral position on the order of faith and regeneration, and the clear placement of man’s transgression before his condemnation, OR he can step into the DeLorean in order to place man’s condemnation before his transgression, but in the process, he must then deny unconditional election and place faith in front of regeneration.

The irony should not be lost upon anyone that Dr. Ascol, who opposes at least part of the  current Baptist Faith and Message, dares to suggest the existence of heresy among those who embrace it in its totality! Objectively, and I am making no such charges at all, but would it not make much more sense if things were the other way around?

His insinuations grow even more inexplicable when one considers that the President of the Convention who appointed the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message Committee, along with 27% of its membership, has already signed the Traditional Statement. While the Traditional Statement enjoys complete compatibility with the BFM 2000 and is strongly supported by those who drafted it, one cannot help but remain perplexed that Dr. Ascol would make such an effort to distance himself from our current confession.

Further evidence of Dr. Ascol’s disapproval of both the 1963 and the 2000 versions of The Baptist Faith and Message is found in the following tweet:

tom ascol (@tomascol)
6/9/12 15:49
Why was it necessary for Jesus to be born of a virgin if, otherwise, he would only have inherited “a nature & environment inclined toward sin?”

 

Credit Dr. Ascol with persistence in refusing to affirm The Baptist Faith and Message 2000! Clearly he prefers the definition of original sin from earlier confessions, in which man was said to inherit “a nature corrupt and in bondage to sin” that is already “under condemnation.” It is curious he would argue about the effects of the fall by considering the only man who did not participate. Jesus, born of a virgin, did not possess original sin regardless of how it is defined. I believe in the necessity of the virgin birth, but not the necessity of the necessity. Our Sovereign God was free to send us His Son in whatever way He chose, regardless of how it might fit in some system of man’s reasoning.

Who is in alignment with the Baptist Faith and Message 2000?

“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.” 

Baptist Faith and Message 2000, Article III

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.” 

A Statement of the Traditional Southern Baptist Understanding of God’s Plan of Salvation,” Article II

“Why was it necessary for Jesus to be born of a virgin if, otherwise, he would only have inherited ‘a nature & environment inclined toward sin’?” 

— Tom Ascol tweet, 6/9/12

 

Time does not permit me to deal at length with Dr. Ascol’s treatment of the Abstract of Principles, a document which, like the Traditional Statement, narrows the doctrinal parameters of the BFM 2000, and has garnered the signatures of hundreds of Southern Baptists, at two of our seminaries in particular.

In the interest of fostering Christian unity, I will also bypass Dr. Ascol’s charge that the denial of imputed guilt found in the Traditional Statement (also found in the BFM 1963 and the BFM 2000) is much closer to the Mormon view of sin. This is a very weak attempt at guilt by association, and is the classic ad hominem rhetorical fallacy.

In the hope that our discussion might rise above such tactics, I would invite Dr. Ascol to turn his attention neither to a non-Christian religion like Mormonism nor to confessions that were written in 1925, but rather to the post of June 8, 2012 by Dr. Danny Akin, entitled Divine Sovereignty and Human Responsibility: How Should Southern Baptists Respond to the Issue of Calvinism?

Perhaps because Dr. Akin’s stated desire is not the “recovery of the Gospel” or the “reformation of local churches,” he possesses greater liberty than Dr. Ascol to meet Traditionalists halfway on the major soteriological issues and to demonstrate a very statesman-like effort to bridge these gaps and foster unity. One wonders how Dr. Ascol might address these solutions offered by Dr. Akin:

  • A statement strong on Total Depravity but stripped of Total Inability.
  • A statement on Unconditional Election admitting human freewill and concluding that “Southern Baptists will likely debate this point until the Lord returns, but there is certainly no need for division or ill will over it.”
  • A statement on Limited Atonement admitting its rejection by most Modified Calvinists, and describing the atonement as unlimited in its “provision” but only limited in its “application” by the free acceptance of salvation received by those who place their faith in Jesus. Frankly, one would be hard pressed to offer a weaker endorsement of Limited Atonement.
  • A statement on Irresistible Grace rather truncated, redefined and softened, so as to permit, in the words of Dr. Timothy George, the “creaturely freedom” to respond to the God who “beckons and woos…pleads and pursues…waits and wins.”
  • A statement on Perseverance of the Saints conflating classic eternal security with the Reformed emphasis on perseverance of good works in order to prove one’s salvation sure.

I cannot help but wonder about the willingness of the Founders to come to the table with the Traditionalists and seek some type of common ground such as that suggested by Dr. Akin above. If they sincerely desire to achieve the goal of greater unity, they might begin by refusing to appeal to the views of Arminians and Mormons, and instead engage other Southern Baptists seeking a middle way such as Dr. Akin and Dr. George.

On the other hand, one must consider that such a compromise may in fact conflict with the stated ambitions of the Founders Ministries. Having spent nearly thirty years trying to turn churches like mine into churches like his, Dr. Ascol cannot possibly object to the existence of a Traditionalist strategy now inviting churches like his to become churches like mine. After all, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Although in this race, the Founders may have the advantage of a thirty year head start, at least we Traditionalists are running the race with a copy of The Baptist Faith and Message 2000 in our pockets, which is more than can be said about Dr. Ascol as he leads the Founders Ministries.

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Jared

Congratulations!

For the most part, the posts on this site have been cordial in tone and directed at theological differences. I am glad to finally see someone with the intestinal fortitude to go directly after a specific individual. The amount of sarcasm and snide personal attacks used in such a short time should truly be applauded! I say, let us follow the lead of Mr. Patrick, do away with the pleasantries and go straight for the jugular!

Who can spot the 7 most ironic words ever written?

Here is a hint!
“In the interest of fostering Christian unity”

    Tim Rogers

    Jared,

    For the most part, the posts on this site have been cordial in tone and directed at theological differences. I am glad to finally see someone with the intestinal fortitude to go directly after a specific individual.

    Yea, it appears you are coming here to debate the issues.

      Jared

      I am all for debating the issues. I was simply pointing out that Mr. Patrick obviously wrote this article with the intent of directly attacking Mr. Ascol. He did so by using a smoke screen of patronizing pleasantries and a poorly constructed argument. To which he did not even make a coherent point.
      I don’t know why Mr. Patrick seems to have a personal vendetta against Mr. Ascol but it certainly seems as though it is deeply rooted based on the content of this post. Every sentence of this article is overflowing with sarcastic contempt.
      If you have a legitimate disagreement with a theological stance, fine, debate away! My problem with this particular article is that I was raised to handle personal issues in a private manner, not on a public forum.

        Cb scott

        Jared Moore,

        Rick Patrick does not have a personal vendetta against Tom Ascol. He is doing nothing more than Tom has done on numerous occasions by responding to a position held by various personalities in Southern Baptist life–nothing more, nothing less.

        It appears, as seems to be your common custom, that it is you who is writing from the putrid well spring of vendetta.

        You are seemingly lacking in the ability to engage Rick Patrick in the theological arena. Therefore, you build this strawman to attack him by making these obviously false accusations that he is on a vendetta against Tom Ascol.

        it is also your custom to continually challenge those who write posts or make comments that are in opposition to your various positions to “prove” with indisputable evidence that they are right in what they state. Therefore, I shall present to you the same challenge in this particular case. If you have indisputable evidence that Rick Patrick has a personal vendetta against Tom Ascol, then present that evidence in full.

        If you cannot do so, then you should apologize to Rick Patrick for your false accusations. In addition, if you can engage Rick Patrick on the substance of his post, do so and leave off the false accusations.

        If you lack the theological depth of understanding of that which you embrace relating to soteriology and the various polarities of dogma attached to it to engage Rick Patrick in reasonable debate here without spewing your false accusations, then, in silence, read and learn from those who can.

          Jared

          CB Scott,

          You are correct sir. Mr. Patrick is doing nothing more than what Tom Ascol has done in the past. This “he said, she said, lets meet on the playground” attitude is spinning wildly out of control.

          I have never met Mr. Patrick and probably will never have that pleasure in this life. I have no personal interest in Mr. Patrick what so ever other than I hope we bump into each other in eternity. I was simply responding to the article and its tone.

          Forgive me if my frustration about the content of these posts and comments is rearing its ugly head.

          As for debating theological issues. Far greater men than myself, Mr. Patrick or anyone else posting comments on this site, have spent endless years debating these issues with CIVILITY! I feel no need to flex my intellectual prowess in a completely meaningless forum.

          Lydia

          “You are correct sir. Mr. Patrick is doing nothing more than what Tom Ascol has done in the past. This “he said, she said, lets meet on the playground” attitude is spinning wildly out of control.”

          Jared, Have you presented this same position on any of Tom Ascol’s blog posts? If not, why?

Chris Roberts

“While gaining his preferred doctrine of imputed guilt, Dr. Ascol would in return lose a much more valuable Calvinist asset through this direct denial of unconditional election”

Haven’t finished reading yet, but I choked on this falsehood. I know there has been fury over the observation that Article 2 is semi-Pelagian, but we are at least dealing with your actual words yet you repeatedly ignore our words when we explain what election is and is not, does and does not, and what it is that is offered and required of all people. The gospel is offered to everyone. All are obligated to respond. Those who refuse the gospel do so by their own will. God does not hinder people from responding, people choose not to respond. I don’t know what you are aiming at, but it is not Calvinism.

    Alan Davis

    Right on Chris.

Chris Roberts

Having caught my breath and finished reading, I’ll once again limit myself to just one observation (other than the one already made):

I believe Section III of the BF&M has been badly weakened in its last two incarnations. The 1925 version is much stronger and much more biblical. The reason I can continue to affirm the BF&M is because while Section III is weakened, it doesn’t insist that we go no further. Article II of the Statement goes further than the BF&M when it not only affirms that we are born inclined toward sin, but it denies that we are incapacitated by sin. The BF&M makes no such claim against incapacitation, so while I think it is badly formulated, I can still affirm it so long as it doesn’t prevent me from going further and embracing all that the Bible teaches about sin’s effects (I argue at length about the biblical teaching about sins’s effects at http://www.seektheholy.com/2012/06/08/why-god-must-first-change-the-heart/ ).

I think the shift in the BF&M at least opens the door to reflecting the broader shift in our society of seeing people as being born innocent and neutral. This is not biblical Christianity, this is secular humanism. In my church we have been discussing the BF&M, working through the various sections, and at times I’ll note how it has changed over the years. When I showed the change from the 1925 to the 1963 text of Section III, I was very surprised when one of my more strongly non-Calvinist members spoke up and said he thought this reflected liberal ideas creeping in. Most likely this man wasn’t aware of how Section III factors into the debate over Calvinism, but Calvinism aside, he recognized the influence of secular ideas in the weakening of Section III. This is one reason why I think the change is a big deal: the change in the BF&M nudges us toward, and the Statement pushes us toward, embracing ideas about humanity that come not from Scripture but from liberalism. That should give us a moment’s pause.

    Tim Rogers

    Chris,

    So are you making the BF&M the maximum or the minimum we must hold? If we would have wanted to be generic in our theological persuasion we would have just pointed to the BF&M. Like the Abstracts we have more narrowly defined what we understand about salvation. And that is wrong, how?

    If we are going to hold only to the BF&M then we need to do away with the Abstracts, Chicago Statement on Inerrancy, CBMW statement, Philadelphia Confession, London Confession, Synod of Dort…you name it and any further confessions need to be pronounced anathema.

      Chris Roberts

      Tim,

      I think what I said should make it fairly plain that I hold the BF&M as a minimum statement. There is nothing wrong with going beyond what it says, I certainly do that with my Calvinist beliefs, but going beyond it is not the same as contradicting it. As for Article II, while it is consistent with Section III, it does go beyond Section III. I think Patrick is correct when he says that “the Traditional Statement enjoys complete compatibility with the BFM 2000” but that is not to say that the BF&M agrees with Article II since Article II says more than is said by the BF&M.

      In other words, Patrick can’t criticize Ascol for saying more than the BF&M when the Statement itself says more than the BF&M.

    Brad Reynolds

    Chris
    You are correct that the BFM2000 does not “deny that we are incapacitated by sin” but it also does not deny that one could deny it and still affirm the BFM2000. In other words, our denial of man’s incapacitation does not juxtapose us with the BFM2000. However, those who believe in inherited guilt from Adam seem to be at odds with the BFM2000 because it states clearly: “Therefore, as soon as they are capable of moral action, they become transgressors and are under condemnation.” – Not before.

      Chris Roberts

      Brad,

      I have elsewhere had to acknowledge that I have to do a little dance to affirm the current BF&M on this point, just as I think a little dance is required by those who want to affirm the BF&M yet deny that regeneration precedes faith. In this case, the statement is correct – we become transgressors once capable of moral action. But it does not say when we are capable of moral action and it does not close the door to those who would say we were already under condemnation.

        Brad Reynolds

        Chris,
        It does close the door on the idea that one is a transgressor before he is capable of moral action. Thus, in order to affirm imputed guilt one would have to believe at the moment of conception one is capable of moral action. AGREED?

          Chris Roberts

          Brad,

          Yes, it closes that door, though it would remain to define what is meant by capable of moral action, when that takes place, what it implies, etc. For instance, does being a transgressor, does being capable of moral action, always imply culpability? All my children, ages ranging from 1 to 6, are fully capable of sinning, as they demonstrate regularly, but is there moral transgression counted against them? They are sinners, transgressors already, but in what way is their guilt held against them? I’m not trying to open that discussion, nor provide an answer, just to say that the BF&M statement isn’t as cut and dry as some might like to make it. A bit of wiggle room remains.

        Brad Reynolds

        Chris
        I readily acknowledge that a one year old is capable of moral action although not culpable. But a one year old is totally different than “at the moment of conception” – it seems to me to hold to inherited guilt and capable of moral action you would have to say at the moment of conception the infant is capable of moral action. Are you saying that?

          Chris Roberts

          Brad,

          That is not the way I would express it, but I could agree to it when what is meant is that even at birth children are born with natures and hearts turned away from God so that even from the moment of conception humans are not living, thinking, acting, being the way God intended and designed, and thus are living in sin, in violation of God’s moral decrees and expectations for the work of his hands.

          We tend to get sentimental when talking about children, but let’s be clear about what’s in focus: small humans. Not a different species, not a different type of being, but humans early in their development. There are differences in terms of knowledge, maturity, even biological development, but they remain humans, which is why we fight so hard to extend to the unborn the same human rights we extend to the born.

        Brad Reynolds

        Chris
        I appreciate your honesty.

        It appears by your own admission that in order to affirm the BFM2000 you are taking “Therefore, as soon as they are capable of moral action, they become transgressors” to mean “from the moment of conception humans are not living, thinking, acting, being the way God intended and designed, and thus are living in sin.” I think we can both agree this understanding is not authoral intent (thus your dance).

        So, since Calvinists can do this in order to hold to “inherited guilt” would it be ok for 5 point Arminians to affirm “All true believers endure to the end. Those whom God has accepted in Christ, and sanctified by His Spirit, will never fall away from the state of grace, but shall persevere to the end” provided they understand “state of grace” to mean “while they are saved” and “end” to be the “end of their faith in God?” Thus, somehow affirming one could lose his salvation and still sign the BFM2000. This would be a dangerous road on which to travel.

          Chris Roberts

          “I think we can both agree this understanding is not authorial intent”

          Actually, I think it’s admirable how well the BF&M has been written (intentionally or not) to include areas of ambiguity that can be taken multiple ways. See, for instance, the statement dealing with regeneration and faith. As for your proposed wiggle room on the section on assurance, the room for variation is much less there. I believe my take on Section III is possible because of the words chosen for that section. Your proposed alternate interpretation on assurance does not share that possibility.

          Brad Reynolds

          Chris – disagreed. I think the proposed solutions are far closer than you realize. We all have some subjectivity that hinders true objectivity but I with less subjectivity here than either a 5 point Calvinist or a 5 point Arminian as I am neither.

    peter lumpkins

    I find it odd that Calvinists desire to claim affinity with the 1925 BFM. Few, if any, dispute E.Y. Mullins as the chief author of our first convention-wide confession. Even so, Mullins flat rejected imputed guilt from Adam:

    “Men are not condemned therefore for hereditary or original sin. They are condemned only for their own sins. They are called to repentance and faith by the gospel. It is their own act of rejection which is the basis of their condemnation” (Edgar Young Mullins, The Christian Religion in Its Doctrinal Expression, 1917p. 302).

    For my part, it’s difficult to miss that historically, the 1925 BFM was a definitive step away from high Calvinism, and more so than perhaps the 1963 since it explicitly denied, as Dr. Hankins indicated, regeneration preceded faith, one of the non-negotiable theological strongholds upon which Dortian Calvinists insist: “It [regeneration] is a work of God’s free grace conditioned upon faith in Christ and made manifest by the fruit which we bring forth to the glory of God” (Article VII, italics added).

    Even so, for one to cite the 1925 BF&M as if it had a more robust Augustinian-Calvinist flavor about it since it allegedly reflected imputed Adamic guilt or bore other strongly Calvinistic contours in contrast to the 1963 & 2000 editions is hardly believable.

    With that, I am…
    Peter

    Johnathan Pritchett

    Hang on a second. There are too many non-sequiturs being assumed here in this bit of unhelpful rhetoric.

    I actually DO believe infants are conceived and born “innocent” (I am most happy to discuss certain Psalms floating in your head right now as well), IF by innocent, we mean “haven’t committed any personal sins (transgressions).

    I allow for the category of “innocent” to NOT entail one therefore being “righteous, holy, etc.”, and so tossing out words without content is unhelpful.

    I haven’t the slightest idea what is meant by saying a human is born “neutral”, so I won’t even address that word.

    Being innocent of personal transgression does not mean born connected to God (unless God wills it…i.e. John the Baptist, for instance), nor being born free from the consequences of a world consigned to disobedience, subjected to futility, in which sin and death reign.

    One need not jump to secular humanism and liberalism as a comparison. That is simply straw, and it is rank question begging that Augustinian Christianity is identical to Biblical Christianity.

    Our issue is that we do not find in the Bible (nor many people off the Augustinian grid THROUGHOUT the history of the global Christian church) the notion of imputed guilt, so to say the position of the “Traditional Statement” is NOT Biblical Christianity is totally baseless.

    The most on could say here is that it is not Augustinian Christianity. But, we couldn’t possibly care about that at all.

      Chris Roberts

      Jonathan,

      While I think that particular Psalm is relevant, it is not the only relevant passage. Scripture repeatedly affirms the natural and pervasive sinfulness of man. Children are never listed as an exception.

      “Being innocent of personal transgression does not mean born connected to God (unless God wills it…i.e. John the Baptist, for instance), nor being born free from the consequences of a world consigned to disobedience, subjected to futility, in which sin and death reign.”

      But if we are truly born innocent then we would need to concede at least the theoretical possibility of perfection, which is where Pelagius went with the idea of innocence. Semi-Pelagians sought to correct Pelagius by adding the idea that though born innocent, we still carry a sickness from sin, an inclination toward sin that will ultimately make sin a reality in our lives. They maintained that we continued to possess some small ability to do good – namely, respond to the offer of the gospel – but conceded that all would ultimately sin and would stand in need of the grace of the gospel.

      The problem with the semi-Pelagian notion, and any similar ideas of “innocent but inclined” is it creates the curious state in which a person is clean (innocent) yet sick (inclined toward sin), but where does that sickness come from and how does it not negate cleanliness? If a creature is inclined away from God, how can that itself not be sin? If we are oriented toward sin, how can that in itself not be sin?

      “One need not jump to secular humanism and liberalism as a comparison. That is simply straw, and it is rank question begging that Augustinian Christianity is identical to Biblical Christianity.”

      I mention humanism and liberalism as observations that as the world has embraced the idea of inherent human goodness, many Christians have followed suit, even if we have not gone as far as the world. I believe there is a connection – this is one place where the church has allowed the world to influence our thinking. The Bible is clear: we are all sinners, we are all sinful, we are all thoroughly corrupt, and we have all always been this way. The only exceptions are three: Adam and Eve who didn’t start that way but ended that way, and Jesus who lived in holiness.

      “Our issue is that we do not find in the Bible… the notion of imputed guilt…”

      I understand we have different interpretations on this, but for myself I believe the biblical evidence is abundant and clear. As I mention elsewhere, I wrote a bit about the biblical case for universal and thorough human sinfulness at http://www.seektheholy.com/2012/06/08/why-god-must-first-change-the-heart/ and while this doesn’t address imputed guilt (and what is meant by imputed guilt), per se, it does point in that direction.

        mike white

        Chris,
        You said,
        “The problem with the semi-Pelagian notion, and any similar ideas of “innocent but inclined” is it creates the curious state in which a person is clean (innocent) yet sick (inclined toward sin), but where does that sickness come from and how does it not negate cleanliness? If a creature is inclined away from God, how can that itself not be sin? If we are oriented toward sin, how can that in itself not be sin?”

        Because sin imputed requires a certain level of knowledge and understanding. Those who can not know yet what righteousness is, can neither know what sin is, and are not held accountable by God.

        God is a righteous judge. he is a more righteous judge than we humans are, yet even we do not judge children and the mentally challenged as harshly as an adult.

        Imputed Adamic guilt is not necessary to hold to the Doctrines of Grace or to TULIP or to be Calvinistic or Reformed. Don’t allow a made up man’s doctrine like Adamic Federal Headship to lead you astray, if that is what is you believe.

          Chris Roberts

          “Those who can not know yet what righteousness is, can neither know what sin is, and are not held accountable by God.”

          Maybe, maybe not. On that, the Bible is not clear. However strongly we may hold a particular belief, I would caution against being dogmatic where the Bible is silent. I do believe God does not hold infants, etc, accountable for sins, for reasons similar to yours, but I would not insist on it since the Bible does not.

          Either way, that is irrelevant to the argument. Whether or not they are held accountable for their sins doesn’t change whether or not they have committed sins.

          “Don’t allow a made up man’s doctrine like Adamic Federal Headship to lead you astray, if that is what is you believe.”

          Which man made up Romans 5?

        Johnathan Pritchett

        The only relevant part of your post I will respond to below, so as to keep things tidy. :)

        “But if we are truly born innocent then we would need to concede at least the theoretical possibility of perfection, which is where Pelagius went with the idea of innocence. Semi-Pelagians sought to correct Pelagius by adding the idea that though born innocent, we still carry a sickness from sin, an inclination toward sin that will ultimately make sin a reality in our lives. They maintained that we continued to possess some small ability to do good – namely, respond to the offer of the gospel – but conceded that all would ultimately sin and would stand in need of the grace of the gospel.”

        I honestly don’t care what Pelagians or Semi-Pelagians thought in regards to this particular conversation as to how theology is done in regards to what the statement affirms or denies.

        The Statement I affirmed, and the theological case I made elsewhere stands outside of that debate since our terms are not defined by the terms of old councils. One must deal with what we mean by what we say.

        I am neither interested in, nor affirm “theoretical possibilities”, nor is that what I was saying by my careful statements regarding the word “innocent”, regarding where Pelagius went with it.

        I say this because in my argument elsewhere, I do not believe in such a theoretical possibility whatsoever due to the human condition of being born separated from God, dead in Adam, in a world subjected to futility, consigned to disobedience, and under the reign of sin and death.

        “The problem with the semi-Pelagian notion, and any similar ideas of “innocent but inclined” is it creates the curious state in which a person is clean (innocent) yet sick (inclined toward sin), but where does that sickness come from and how does it not negate cleanliness? If a creature is inclined away from God, how can that itself not be sin? If we are oriented toward sin, how can that in itself not be sin?”

        Most often in Scripture, sin is a law-breaking action, or metaphorically speaking, a reigning power. I think your way of talking about it in a theological conversation brings up ontological issues regarding what sin is. Hence, I don’t know what you mean by “sickness”, and the mixing of of that metaphor with judicial language.

        As far as the origin of the inclination, I offer Romans 5:12-21 (and 1 Cor. 15:22) as my understanding of it. As for inclinations themselves being sinful. A big NO to that. For instance, lust is a sin, but natural sexual desire is God-given. See the difference?

        The statement “If we are oriented toward sin, how can that in itself not be sin?” carries with it un-Biblical baggage of assuming God condemns natures and not persons for sin(s).

        I think clearing up some ontological issues regarding what sin is would be helpful in furthering our discussion. Also, see Dr. Harwood’s video linked in this comments somewhere for the Biblical case. I agree with that, so watching that will help further this conversation without rehashing everything needlessly.

          Chris Roberts

          “One must deal with what we mean by what we say.”

          Sure, but if you say is what they say, then it is fair to associate your beliefs with theirs.

          “Most often in Scripture, sin is a law-breaking action, or metaphorically speaking, a reigning power.”

          Most often, but not always. For instance, Paul in Romans 14:23 is able to say that anything which does not come from faith is sin. It is not just a judicial breaking of laws but an overall pattern of life – living oriented toward anything but God.

          “As for inclinations themselves being sinful. A big NO to that. For instance, lust is a sin, but natural sexual desire is God-given. See the difference?”

          But we are not talking about inclinations to do the right thing, but inclinations to do the wrong thing. The Statement says we have a nature inclined toward sin. If we are inclined toward sin, we are inclined away from God. Is this a good state for us? Is it a right condition for our hearts? Do we have a peculiar condition in which our hearts are not right yet we are not wrong? I believe much of Jesus’ attention in the Sermon on the Mount is directed at the fact that sin is not only what we do but also what our hearts produce.

          “…assuming God condemns natures and not persons for sin…”

          What about Romans 7:7-25? While I admit I still have a number of questions about Romans 7, Paul does seem to make a clear distinction between me and the sin in me and the death I experience because of the sin in me. The sin in him could not be separated from him, it was part of him, but he still speaks of condemnation coming because of the sin that is in him, in his flesh, in his nature.

        peter lumpkins

        Chris,

        You write, ” Semi-Pelagians sought to correct Pelagius by adding the idea that though born innocent, we still carry a sickness from sin, an inclination toward sin that will ultimately make sin a reality in our lives. They maintained that we continued to possess some small ability to do good – namely, respond to the offer of the gospel – but conceded that all would ultimately sin and would stand in need of the grace of the gospel.”

        My brother, unless Rebecca Hardin Weaver fell out of her academic rocker, what you’ve just described as what Semi-Pelagians both embraced and did may be soberly viewed as little more than fictional rhetoric. In her book, Divine Will and Human Agency: A Study of the Semi-Pelagian Controversy (North American Patristic Society Monograph Series 15, Mercer University Press, 1996), the Marsallies monks are described as having not the least affinity for Pelagius. Instead as supporters of Augustine, they posed a question concerning how Augustine’s stiff predestanarianism didn’t question, if not completely destroy, their sacrifical monastical code. They definitively had no allegiance to Pelagius. Rather, as Weaver notes, they embraced Augustine. Weaver observes the Semi-Pelagian controversy started over an inquiry into Augustine’s conclusions, not an attempt to correct or modify Pelagius.

        Nor apparently did the Semi-Pelagians embrace that fallen creatures “continue to possess”, as you put it, “some small ability to do good – namely, respond to the offer of the gospel” unless, by that, one avoids adding the significant factor that God must intervene in fallen human beings via an act of grace.

        Nor, if I understand Weaver correctly, did they simplistically equate the grace needed with the gospel itself as you strangely appear to suggest when you conclude that the Semi-Pelagians “conceded that all would ultimately sin and would stand in need of the grace of the gospel” (italics added). Rather they held grace was necessary to believe the gospel, which is hardly the same. According to Weaver:

        “In fact, these persons [i.e. those who became known as “Semi-Pelagians”] accepted Augustine’s arguments against the Pelagian heresy. They, too, insisted on the necessity of grace. It was only as Augustine carried his arguments to their logical, predestinarian extreme that Gallic opposition arose. As monks striving to please God and thereby attain eternal reward for their efforts, they assumed a reliable connection between human actions and the salvific outcome of these actions. The De correptione et gratia challenged this connection and, in fact, their whole way of life. Thus, the Gallic opposition arose only at the point of monastic insistence upon the genuineness and relevance of human agency in the process of salvation (pp.40-41).

        Unless we’re careful, a whole new mythical understanding of so-called “Semi-Pelagianism” is going to take this conversation over.

        With that, I am…
        Peter

          Chris Roberts

          Peter,

          I’ll have to respond with more substance later, but a simple question for now: do you thus believe semi-Pelagianism is an acceptable belief?

Michael Vaughan

“The blessings of salvation are made free to all by the gospel. It is the duty of all to accept them by penitent and obedient faith. Nothing prevents the salvation of the greatest sinner except his own voluntary refusal to accept Jesus Christ as teacher, Saviour, and Lord.”

Sir, as an SBC 5-point Calvinist, I can affirm this fully. A man’s will is warped so that he only wills evil, and therefore it is “own voluntary refusal” that damns him.

This is not a denial of Calvinist belief at all. I would be happy to talk (either by chat or email or phone) with you to better explain what it is we believe, since it would appear we have not expounded it clearly to you. Blog posts and articles are poorly suited for asking questions and establishing a back-and-forth.

Yours,
Michael Vaughan

    Michael Vaughan

    Moderators,
    My above comment is still “awaiting moderation.” Could someone please approve it and post it? Thanks.

    Rick Patrick

    I agree that his “own voluntary refusal” damns him, but in your view, would not that same “voluntary refusal” be true of every man who is dead in his sin, even those who are predestined to be saved, until God irresistibly breaks through and changes his heart?

    I was under the impression that, in your view, any lost person’s salvation was indeed prevented by the absence of his unconditional election by God as decreed before the foundation of the world.

    Put another way, if unconditional election does not prevent the salvation of the damned and allow for the salvation of the saints, what exactly does it do?

      Chris Roberts

      Election itself does nothing but rather through election God chooses who will receive the fullness of saving grace. All people are offered salvation. What makes salvation unattainable is not that God withholds salvation but that their own sin blinds them to their need for God and the glory of the gospel. The lost person who is ultimately judged goes to Hell not because God decided that this one should be judged, per se, but because he decided to pursue his sin. It is a problem we are born with, and a problem we pursue. We are separated from God because of our sin.

      Part of what makes the gospel so glorious is that God not only offers us salvation but destroys that in us which kept us from ever wanting to be saved. He undoes what we did so that we might repent and believe. If he doesn’t undo that, if he leaves people in their sin, that doesn’t negate his free and fair offer of the gospel and it does not negate the fact that such people stand condemned because of their own sin.

        Gary Snowden

        Can a 5-pt. TULIP Calvinist truly affirm the claim you make that “all people are offered salvation”? If Christ died only for the elect (assuming for a moment that limited atonement is true), in what genuine sense can it be said that all people are offered salvation? If Christ didn’t pay the price of the sins of the entire world (as many Scriptures affirm), how can it truthfully be said that all people are offered salvation?
        You claim that God doesn’t withhold salvation from them, but if no provision has been made for their sins, aren’t you just engaged in semantical wordplay?

          Michael Vaughan

          Gary,

          God offers salvation to all. He tells everyone that they must believe in his son and repent to be saved. That invitation is open to every man on the planet.

          BUT, every person on this planet, without God’s grace and election, would continue to reject him. He’s told people what they must do, and they ignore him. Therefore, men are responsible. God isn’t doing anything to PREVENT them from responding. He’s giving an extra nudge to some, if you will.

          Does that work for you, or is that still just semantics?

          Chris Roberts

          Gary,

          Provision is made for the payment of sins of all who would repent and believe. If a person will repent and believe, his sins are paid for. As it happens, the only people who will repent and believe are those chosen by God for salvation, thus we say that Christ died for the elect.

          Gary Snowden

          The nesting of comments made it impossible to reply directly to Michael or Chris below, so I’m going to do so here. Sorry about the delay but I was cheering the KC Royals on to victory over the Brewers tonight and got home late.

          Michael, I struggle to make sense of the two paragraphs because they appear mutually contradictory. You state that God offers salvation to all, tells everyone they must believe in Christ and repent, and extends that invitation to all. So far so good.

          Your capitalized BUT obviously indicates a major shift and so it proves to be. Without God’s grace and election you state that men will continue to reject God, and therefore men are responsible. It’s that final phrase that proves problematic for me. How can men be held responsible if they have no possibility of repenting and believing if indeed God hasn’t elected them?

          The nearest parallel I can come up with in real life is to require my children to do something which is utterly impossible for them to accomplish on their own without my aid, and then punish them for their inability to fulfill the requirement. How can I hold them responsible for something they humanly cannot do?

          Chris, your statement is a tautology which simply argues that limited atonement is true because Christ died only for the elect. If atonement is only provided for those who will repent, and only those whom God has elected can repent, you’ve structured a tautology that is internally consistent but fails to address the real question of man’s responsibility on the one hand, and the justice of God on the other.

          I suppose that you’ll respond by stating that it’s a mystery, or that God’s ways are beyond our comprehension. I’ll certainly concede that there is much about God that we cannot fathom with our finite minds as Scripture clearly declares. Yet your stance leads I think inevitably to Calvin’s double predestination wherein some are predestined for salvation and others are predestined for eternal suffering with no possibility of repentance. That’s not what Michael argues above, but logically both paths lead to the same conclusion. If God excludes a segment of the world’s population from the very possibility of repentance and faith in Christ because they weren’t elected by an eternal decree with no regard whatsoever for a willful decision on their part, I can’t see how you can avoid the conclusion that there is no good news in the gospel for them.

          Chris Roberts

          Gary,

          “I suppose that you’ll respond by stating that it’s a mystery, or that God’s ways are beyond our comprehension.”

          No, I’ll respond by stating that you misunderstood me. :) I’ll try to phrase myself better.

          God knew from ages past who would be his. He knew because he chose them, but that’s irrelevant to what I’m trying to communicate. In ages past, God knew who would embrace him by faith. He also knew who would not embrace him, who would not receive salvation. His death, then, paid for the sins of all those who he knew would embrace him by faith. He did not pay for the sins of those who would reject him, else they would not be punished for God would not accept double payment for sin. He paid for those who would be saved, those he knew would be saved. When I go and preach the gospel, I can do so in the full assurance that all are invited to respond and all who do respond will be saved because Jesus died for them because he knew they would respond.

          Limited Atonement does not limit the possibility of salvation (despite its unfortunate name), it highlights the extent of God’s knowledge and preserves God’s justice in recognizing that God does not accept double payment for sin. Jesus paid for the sins of those who would be saved. All others will forever pay for their own sins.

          Michael Vaughan

          Gary,

          I’m responding here because there is no “reply” function under your latest post, which is unfortunate.

          Yep, it’s a difficulty.

          This illustration might work:

          We could illustrate the principle with two metaphors.

          I can ask a child to fly like a bird. This would be weird, and it would be immoral to punish them for not doing so. They simply can’t.

          I can ask a toddler to stop hitting his brother. It is not that he is physically incapable of obeying, but he WON’T. Discipline is appropriate.

          It’s not a perfect metaphor, I’ll admit, but it illustrates the dichotomy. A man is perhaps capable of not sinning personally (I’m leaving imputed guilt out of this), in that he could physically perform actions leading to holiness, but his sinful nature has so warped his will that he simply will not do so.

          I’ll admit, I’m largely pulling from Jonathan Edwards’ brilliant treatment of the subject in Freedom of the Will. If that doesn’t satisfy you as at least a potential solution (I’m not here to win people over–I just want us to see that both camps are trying to faithfully interpret scripture), then I would recommend first the Bethlehem Baptist Elders’ Statement “What We Believe About the 5 Points of Calvinism,” as well as R.C. Sproul’s “Chosen By God.” If you’re a glutton for punishment and you have read both of those, try Edwards’ book.

          Again, though, I really just want to show that 1) both camps are trying to faithfully exegete scripture and need to be humble about it, and 2) we’re not as crazy as is often portrayed. I wouldn’t be trolling these comments otherwise.

      Michael Vaughan

      Like Chris said.

      Man’s free will chooses sin and rebellion. It is MAN’S will that results in his damnation. God does nothing to prevent a man fro being saved.

      God chooses to save some. He reaches down and plucks men that are marching happily towards destruction. He changes their hearts and wills so that they happily choose him.

      Men are responsible; God saves. The doctrine of election PREVENTS nothing. Men are able to choose in the sense that a bird is able to fly, but they don’t because their wills are warped by sin. A Calvinist would never say that a man that wants to choose to be saved is unable to be saved; a Calvinist argues that no one wants to be saved in the first place.

      Does any of that make sense?

      One of the most effective explanations that helped me sort through this as I was evolving towards Calvinism is the Bethlehem Baptist Elder’s statement titled “What we believe About the 5 points of Calvinism (http://www.desiringgod.org/resource-library/articles/what-we-believe-about-the-five-points-of-calvinism). That, along with R.C. Sproul’s Chosen by God, were both instrumental in putting to rest many of the misunderstandings I had regarding the doctrines. I would highly recommend reading the elder’s statement–it is one of the most logical, easy to follow, and yet complete explanations on the subject.

      Blake Gentry

      “Put another way, if unconditional election does not prevent the salvation of the damned and allow for the salvation of the saints, what exactly does it do?”

      Perhaps I can sum this up quickly: The world is full of people on their way to hell, as it has been from the beginning. Unconditional election takes the world of lost sinners and draws out from it those whom God has purposed to be vessels of mercy, based on no merit of their own. Unconditional election has no detrimental effect on nonbelievers, not in the slightest.

      If out of a world of lost sinners God pulls some out for the purpose of His good will and pleasure, who is wronged? The question is not, why does God choose to save some and not others? The question is, why would God choose to save anyone at all?

Patrick

It seems curious to me that nothing in this article really constituted an actual theological defense of the denial of imputed guilt. I would have thought that regardless of whether or not a version of the Baptist Faith and Message supported or denied it, the most important factor would be whether it is actually theologically consistent with Scripture. That seems to be an afterthought here.

    Tim Rogers

    Patrick,

    Where are you serving in the convention?

      Patrick

      Ah yes…Tim Rogers acting like a jerk….now there’s a surprise!

    Johnathan Pritchett

    I think the burden is on those who wish to affirm the imputed guilt of Adam to his posterity, not on those who reject it. Since the Bible nowhere says this and all…

    Even saying the “imputation” of Adam’s sin is not technically Biblical.

    Imputation is a technical term, and the notion of imputation of sin (and thus guilt) between Adam and Moses is actually flatly rejected by Paul in Romans 5:13-14. So saying it is imputed to the entire human race because of Adam is totally out of the bounds of the text here that used to supposedly affirm that very thing.

    Sin is not imputed where there is no law (Rom. 5:13). Paul says people who sin without the law simply perish (Rom. 2:12), but again, it does not say sin is “imputed”.

    God need not impute sin for the consequences of Adam’s sin, personal sin, and death to take its toll on the human race where all die in Adam, all sin being born separated from God under the reign of sin and death, in a creation subjected to futility in the bondage of corruption, where all are consigned to (not imputed) disobedience (1 Cor. 15: 22, Romans 5:12-21; 8:20-21; 11:32) by God.

    Thankfully though, in Christ, God has not left us helpless (Romans 3:21-31).

    If we are going to use the word “imputation”, then the most we could affirm in accordance to Scripture is saying something like the consequences of Adam’s sin are “imputed”.

    However one wants to formalize and whatever one wants to affirm about the relationship of Adam’s sin and the impact on creation generally and his posterity specifically, one can not affirm what the Bible explicitly rejects.

    Romans 5:13-14 (cf Rom. 4:15) explicitly says no sin is imputed anywhere to anyone absent the law. Any exegete worth their weight knows that law in Romans is Torah. It seems perfectly reasonable then to infer that neither sin nor guilt is imputed anywhere between Adam and Moses (so saying imputation to all his posterity is totally without Biblical warrant), that sinners simply perish and die because of sin WITHOUT the law or imputation (Rom. 2:12; 5:13-14 again). It would further seem reasonable to infer that if imputation happens where there is the law, then it happens to lawbreakers for their own transgressions, not those of others (Ezek, 18).

    Perhaps getting off a certain systematic grid, with its superfluous and gratuitous use of terminology, would greatly increase the likelihood of actually being Biblical.

    Now, whatever further SYSTEMATIC problems of human inference one may wish to further engage with here is not our problem.

    This is what the Bible teaches, and more to the point, it is HOW the Bible teaches it. Anything else is mere inference not required by the Bible (which is the ONLY rule of faith, practice, and doctrine affirmed by Baptists).

    If the Bible alone does not satisfy someone in its explanation, then that is their problem, and not the problem for anyone else.

    Though Patrick has not said it, I wish to add to this post, finally, that the charge of “semi-pelagianism” is bogus and off-target on several counts:

    1. One must demonstrate that specific councils to which this issue refer are correct in their theology (I can demonstrate problems here).

    2. One must demonstrate that the specific councils to which this issue refer are even relevant. If the theology of a statement is not even on the same systematic theological grid of the councils or their opponents they were condemning, then there is no relevancy at all.

    3. One must demonstrate that those who affirmed the “Traditional Statement” are in agreement with those whom the relevant councils condemned. By the statements own affirmations and denials, as shown repeatedly by capable men on blogs everywhere, they are NOT.

    4. One must have a proper definition of semi-pelagianism that is ACTUAL and CORRECT, and not merely rhetorical and private.

    5. That one must show that free Southern Baptist churches (and their members) are bound in any way whatsoever by the canons of ANY council and must be in agreement with some or all of that council’s theology. While historical theology is useful, it is not authoritative.

    It is worth noting that the argument I presented here is actually remarkably similar to Thomas Schreiner in his Romans commentary on Chapter 5 (though my own position is closer to Don Garlington than Schreiner). It is also worth noting that Thomas Schreiner’s view of double predestination was rejected at the Council of Orange, where “semi-pelagian” cropped up.

    Charging heresy here is simply way too problematic to be useful for those opposed to the “Traditional Statement” to toss about, and it is unbecoming of them to toss that charge around as carelessly as they do in any case.

E.R.

Just the tone we do not need! Sad how low some are willing to go in this discussion. We would have expected more from Dr. Patrick. May this sort of attack, provocative writing be quickly discarded.

    Rick Patrick

    If by “attack, provocative writing” you mean that writing which falsely accuses others of heresy, for example, I could not agree with you more. It is in defense of such writing by Ascol that I prepared this response.

      E.R.

      Rick, I think I have read most of what Dr. Ascol has written on the subject. It has been very gracious. He is a gracious man. He has addressed this issue carefully from Scripture. You may disagree with his conclusions but his faithfulness in this is impeccable.

Johnathan Pritchett

Like many in the Reformed tribe, Dr. Tom Ascol is a wonderful, intelligent Christian brother who says exceedingly stupid things with alarming regularity.

Jesus was born of a virgin to be a sign, not to avoid something that Mary would have possessed anyway under his own theological paradigm. Unless, of course, he wants to go with the RCC and say that, she too, was without sin. Does he affirm seminal transmission rather than Federal Headship? Does he think sin is a goo floating around in semen?

What in the world is he actually saying?

    Tim B

    To add a little clarity to which I know you would agree…Jesus was born of a virgin not just as a “sign” but because He was in fact the Son of God and not the son of a man. If he had a man for a father then he would not have been the Son of God. And I agree, it has nothing to do with passing on anything through male lineage.

      Johnathan Pritchett

      We are in agreement. Thank you for adding the clarity, as you correctly noted, I was merely addressing a particular issue in regards to Ascol’s statement.

        Tim B

        Ascol’s tweet is woefully off the mark. His statement opens him up to the charge of being gnostic leaning. Does he believe that if not for Federal headship Jesus could have been born of a human father and then infused with the Spirit of God later?

Dr. Bruce McLaughlin

A “seeker” walking into a Southern Baptist Church might find zero point Calvinism, the seven point Calvinism of John Piper or any soteriology in between. He might even find the universalism of Rob Bell or the Chrislam of Rick Warren. The current theological status of the SBC disgraces the name of Jesus Christ. Our leaders talk of “consensus accord” but such accord is not possible. The Calvinists came to SBC Today with 44 magnums but some supporters of the 10 statements are still using the language of appeasement forgetting that you don’t take a knife to a gunfight. Here is an allegory that might discribe the current status. The great Southern Baptist cruise ship is steaming on a long journey somewhere in the North Atlantic. The passengers are sleeping in deck chairs, stuffing themselves from an endless buffet, enjoying a wide variety of entertainment and wallowing in ritual and tradition. Cheerful crew members prance through the corridors chanting peace and unity like left over flower children from the 60’s. But behind the façade, the ship’s officers are not united. Some would like to take over the ship in a quiet mutiny of stealth, subterfuge and deceit to make sure the “elect” aristocracy on board can occupy the special peerage they deserve. These officers claim to have privileged information indicating the lower class passengers must never be permitted to disembark at the same port as the elect aristocracy. The lower class passengers don’t know it yet, but they will be dumped off the ship at an unpleasant location which doesn’t appear on their itinerary. But the mutinous officers say that’s what these sorry reprobates have deserved from the time they left port. Many of the remaining officers are troubled by this plan particularly since some of the reprobates might be pastors, deacons and Sunday school teachers. But these officers are afraid to speak up for fear of being “divisive.” They have been intimidated into believing that shipboard peace and unity must be preserved. While all this melodrama is taking place, a few of the intimidated officers have noticed that the ship is headed for an iceberg only a few nautical miles off the starboard bow. Like the Titanic, the great ship may shear in half before sinking thousands of fathoms into the icy darkness never to be seen again. If only the sleeping passengers would awaken and exert their authority in time to avert disaster. Should the intimidated officers risk disunity by taking command of the ship, alerting passengers to the imminent danger and working with them to restore the ship to its proper course? What would Jesus do? Did Jesus and the apostles sacrifice truth on a glorified altar of peace and unity (Mat 10:34; 1 John 4:1-4; 2 Pet 2:1)? Is the history of the Christian church one of theological appeasement (1 Thes 5:21)? Did the church welcome the beliefs of the Gnostics, Docetists, Ebionites, Arians, Apollinarians, Nestorians, Eutychians and Sabellians in the name of peace and unity?

    Chris Roberts

    “Some would like to take over the ship in a quiet mutiny of stealth, subterfuge and deceit to make sure the “elect” aristocracy on board can occupy the special peerage they deserve.”

    I’m still waiting for any evidence of a Calvinist conspiracy to take over the convention. It is not real, it does not exist, it’s an imaginary enemy.

      Dr. Bruce McLaughlin

      Years of experience with the Calvinist SBC takeover assault, both in churches and as an Associate Professor in an SBC college, have taught me that no “Consensus Accord” is possible except one like Neville Chamberlain reached at Munich. Takeover has been the orchestrated objective of Calvinists since the “conservative revolution” two decades ago. When a Calvinist pastor takes charge of a Traditional church and splits it in half, this outcome is not viewed as disruptive or destructive; Calvinists view it as “purification.” This is not just a cosmetic divide. It is about diametrically opposed divine personalities. It is about the very essence of God. The Calvinist sees the face of a God who condemned the greater part of mankind to eternal damnation before the universe was formed. The Traditional Baptist sees a God who desires all to receive the great gift of salvation.

        Chris Roberts

        Bruce,

        As a Calvinist, I do not know what you are talking about. Furthermore, as a Calvinist pastor of an almost entirely non-Calvinist church, I think we demonstrate that unity is possible. I’m still looking for something more than hearsay to show that Calvinists are seeking a takeover.

        I would also like more than hearsay to prove that Calvinist pastors are more likely to cause disruption than non-Calvinist pastors. I had an email exchange with my associational missions director about this, and he acknowledged that while the two Calvinist pastors in our association did have good relations with both our non-Calvinist church members and our fellow pastors in the association, he said we were the exception. But I don’t know where he gets this: out of two Calvinists in the association, two of them get along fine with their non-Calvinist members and neighbors, and we’re somehow the exception? We seem to be the norm.

        As for your caricature of who sees what, it is sad and discouraging to see people not only believing but proclaiming such false things about what Calvinists believe the Bible teaches.

    Jared

    Let me get this straight.

    Are you are claiming that we who hold a reformed theology believe we have some kind of sixth sense or elect radar that allows us to know who the Creator of the Universe announced as His elect before the foundation of the world.

    And secondly did you just compare Brothers and Sisters in Christ who hold to a Reformed Theology to the Gnostics, Docetists, Ebionites, Arians, Apollinarians, Nestorians, Eutychians and Sabellians?

      Dr. Bruce McLaughlin

      Calvinism is actually more insideous than some of the early heresies about the person of Christ because Calvinism blasphemes the Holy Spirit. By the 1646 Westminster Confession (God from all eternity, did, by the most wise and holy counsel of His own will, freely, and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass) and the 1689 London Baptist Confession (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), 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 willed by God before anything existed except the Trinity. Injustice also reigned since the greater part of mankind was predestined to eternal damnation by God’s decree before the universe was formed (Mat 7:13, 14).

      Matthew 12:31, 32 and Mark 3:29, 30 present the “unpardonable sin” of blaspheming the Holy Spirit. Attributing, to Satan, Christ’s authenticating miracles, done in the power of the Holy Spirit, is one path to blasphemy. What about attributing Satan’s evil to the Holy Spirit? Is that less heinous than attributing the Holy Spirit’s goodness to Satan? Might that be another path to blasphemy? Is Calvinism just one more arrogant theology concocted by a few Christian elite to create an “elect” aristocracy or is it blasphemy at its core? How could Augustine, Calvin and their theological progeny embrace such a grievous error?

      This doctrine is novel. In the first four hundred years after Christ, no mention is made of it by any writer, great or small, in any part of the Christian Church. The foundations of it were laid in the later writings of Augustine, when unguardedly writing against Pelagius. It was afterward taught by Dominicus, a popish friar, and the monks of his order, and at last, it was unhappily taken up by John Calvin.

      •This doctrine is injurious to God because it makes Him the author of all sin and represents Him as delighting in the death of sinners, expressly contrary to His own declaration (Ezek. 33:11; I Tim. 2:4)

      •This doctrine makes the preaching of the Gospel mere mockery and delusion since many of those to whom it is preached are, by an irrevocable decree, shut out from being benefited by it.

      •This doctrine makes the coming of Christ and His sacrifice upon the cross, instead of being a fruit of God’s love to the world, to be one of the severest acts of God’s indignation against mankind. God only ordained a very few for salvation while hardening and increasing the damnation of the far greater number of mankind, namely all those who do not believe. The cause of this unbelief is the counsel and decree of God.

      In contrast to Calvinism, Traditional Bapists beliefs affirm that God has willed all to be saved and sacrificed his unique Son on the cross so that the great gift of salvation would be available to all mankind. There is hardly any other article of the Christian faith so frequently, plainly and positively asserted. It is that which makes the preaching of the gospel ‘Glad tidings to all.’ Had this offer of salvation been confined to a few, it would be ‘Sad tidings of great sorrow’ to most people.

        Johnathan Pritchett

        I think it depends on the Calvinist whether or not God is the author of all evil, and how robust any particular Calvinist’s understanding of secondary causes actually is as it relates to the issue of evil. One must know these things before one can make that kind of blanket comment.

        I fully affirm the statement “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.”

        I also affirm the rest of this particular paragraph. I simply reject the Confession’s broader application of that statement. But there is nothing wrong with that single statement itself.

        What we can debate is what is involved in the decree. Even Calvinists debate this among themselves. Any affirmation of God’s complete foreknowledge and infallible wisdom can affirm that statement from the confession to some degree or another. The sticking point here is how much of the decree is based in God’s knowledge and wisdom, His will (and what His will actually is), and how much is based on God’s ignorance and indifference to creation and his eternal knowledge of it.

        As for many of the points you raise, again, it depends on the Calvinist. Are they a Sproul Jr. or are they a Michael Bird sort of Calvinist. Those two, for instance, are miles apart in their theology, and yet both Calvinists.

        In any case, when you write “This doctrine makes the preaching of the Gospel mere mockery and delusion since many of those to whom it is preached are, by an irrevocable decree, shut out from being benefited by it.”

        I find this a non sequitur, because, even for the sake of argument in granting Calvinism (even in its worst form)
        the proclamation of the Gospel is never a mockery because:

        1. It is truth. Proclaiming God’s truth is never mockery.

        2. It redounds God’s glory.

        3. Proclaiming the Gospel is done first and foremost in obedience to a command of the Lord, and NOT because we simply feel bad about people going to hell (and we should care for them, I am not saying that we shouldn’t) and we want them to not go there for their own happiness. If their eternal happiness is our top priority, then Christianity is just another form of humanism with a sacred text.

        I don’t agree with Calvinism, but I don’t like my position being reduced to straw, and I don’t want to reduce the whole of Calvinism to these strawman arguments either.

        Some of what you write is applicable to certain Calvinists, but certainly not the majority of them, and not any in the SBC that I know of.

        It is one thing to point out good and necessary consequences of certain formulations, it is quite another to accuse them of things they do not believe.

        Those sorts of accusations (accusing people of what they don’t believe) is the purview of intolerant Calvinists, not for those opposed to that kind of attitude.

        When I was a Calvinist, I believed none of the things you accuse them of believing, and when I was a Calvinist, I rejected and opposed the Calvinists that do believe what you are saying here, because while there is a minority that do affirm all that, they aren’t the majority in the SBC for sure, and I doubt there are any in the SBC that believe any of that at all (these sorts of Calvinists are mostly fringe Presbyterian sorts that believe those things…ad maybe the Westboro Baptist Church, but they are not SBC anyway).

        Settle down friend. These posts are not helping.

        Chris Roberts

        Bruce,

        How do you explain passages such as Proverbs 16:33, Acts 4:28, and similar passages which speak of both random acts and terrible events happening according to God’s decision and predestined plan?

        The question of the Bible is not, does God ordain all things? He does, even terrible things. The question is, how do we reconcile the fact that God ordains all things with the fact that God is not the author of sin? Both are biblical truths: God ordains all things, God is not the author of sin. I’m not sure that we will ever quite understand how those two go side-by-side.

        Alan Davis

        Once again, if it were Christ’s intention to save all men, how deplorably has he been disappointed~CH Spurgeon
        Eph 1:4-5 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: (5) Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,

        Michael Vaughan

        Dr. Bruce,

        Rather than retread old ground and attempt to correct many of the misunderstandings you have regarding Calvinism, I want to ask a simple question (which you seem to have missed in my earlier post):

        Do you believe Calvinists to be Christians at all?

        You’re teetering on the edge of denying it, so I would appreciate it if you just 1) came out and said it, or 2) corrected my misreading of your post.

        If you believe that we are not Christians at all, then this becomes an inter-, rather than intramural debate, on the level of a debate between Christians and Mormons or Jehovah’s Witnesses (at least on your part), and I think we would all like to know what you see this as before proceeding any further.

          Dr. Bruce McLaughlin

          Are Calvinists Christians? In the spirit of R.C. Sproul, “Just barely.”

          Dr. Bruce McLaughlin

          For those readers not familiar with the “Calvinist Takeover” culture spawned by the SBC Conservative Revolution, some history might be useful. R.C. Sproul, a professor of systematic theology, is one of the poster-boys of SBC Calvinists. Several years ago he wrote, “People ofter ask if I believe Arminians are Christians. I usually answer, ‘Yes, barely.’ … Their view of the relationship between faith and regeneration is fundamentally un-Christian.” That would, of course, make Traditional Baptist views fundamentally un-Christian. SBC Calvinists only wax indignant when the tables are turned. A frequent Calvinist tactic is to appear to be the victim of mean spirited opponents while merely seeking peace and unity.

        Michael Vaughan

        Dr. Bruce,

        I would also encourage you attribute your sources. You did so on your website, but the John Wesley quote above appears without any attributions. Just a friendly reminder.

          Dr. Bruce McLaughlin

          This blog is not a refereed journal publication. It is more interesting to use the exact words of a great evangelist, preacher or theologian and then watch as the “hit-squad” implies that the words are non-Biblical, incomprehensible “junk.”

          Cb scott

          Bruce McLaughlin,

          It is an error of the highest order to state that Calvinists are “just barely” Christians. Actually, to state such is in the highest order of ignorance. Such statements are those of which continue to fuel the fames which have burned this great divide over soteriological dogma in these recent years.

          Michael Vaughan

          Dr. Bruce,

          Yeah, I’m going to agree with cb on this one. I can admit that both Calvinists and Traditionalists are trying to faithfully exegete scripture, and I embrace the other camp as brothers. You, with your “just barely,” are clearly not interested in the kind of family debate that I am interested in, and I do not intend to interact with you on these comments further. Take your vitriol elsewhere, and read today’s post for a great example of how to engage in this debate without defaming your brothers.

    E.R.

    Dr. Bruce,

    The original drivers of the SBC ship were folks who held to Calvinistic theology. With the demise of Calvinism came the demise of sound theology in the SBC which ultimately led to the moderate/liberalism stuff which was thankfully defeated by the CR. The passengers need to wake up to the easy believism, man-centered theology that has been plaguing the SBC since at least 1925. Without sound God-centered theology the man-centered ship can’t keep floating.

    Michael Vaughan

    Sir, this is totally unhelpful to this conversation.

    There are a lot of things I would like to address in your post, but I really want to tackle this one above all others. You have compared us to the gnostics and a host of other heretics.

    Do you believe we cannot fellowship together at brothers? Do you believe we worship a different God? Do you think we are lost and damned because of our Calvinism?

    If so, this becomes an entirely different issue. If not, then you defame us, sir, and the watching world will never know the truth of John 13:35.

    I would also like to know, in your analogy, if you believe that the Calvinists are steering the ship towards the iceberg, or if you believe that the division among the officers has allowed the ship to stray towards the iceberg. If the first, again, I challenge you in the fiercest of terms to back up your arguments. If the second, then I could in some ways agree–this conflict should in no way distract us from our gospel mission to take the salvation of Jesus to all the nations.

      Dr. Bruce McLaughlin

      I was reminded once again this morning about the true nature of the SBC Calvinists who only want peace and unity with their Traditional brothers. They only want a “consensus accord” which allows everyone to unite under the SBC umbrella and lovingly march forward together. They are surely not the Calvinists who raise their fists during chapel shouting, “Only the elect. Only the elect.” I received an email from a man who is a member of a large Southern Bapist church. He did not know his pastor had signed the statement of soteriology posted on this website. Names have been deleted to prevent retribution.

      “Our Pastor, XXXXX, of XXXXX, is under fire. The Southern Baptist Convention begins June 19th and the Calvinist have labeled him a “Heretic.”

      Wow, that is quite a statement, considering they are already assuming that “their” theology is the accepted theology of the SBC. This is scary stuff……”

        Michael Vaughan

        Sir, I’m having trouble understanding your post. Which “Calvinists” were labeling this man a heretic, and in what context? Was it his congregation? What does the annual meeting have to do with any of this? I’m just not clear what the relationship is between this man who emailed you and his pastor. And why did he contact you? What capacity do you serve within the SBC that you are receiving these emails?

        I was following the beginning of your post, but then the caricature of Calvinists shouting “only the elect” made me think that perhaps you were being sarcastic. In any case, I think your posts continue to demonstrate a misunderstanding on your part of what we believe about election. I can relate; I was had the same misunderstandings.

        I hope I can dispel the misunderstanding. Election does not mean that someone that appears to be a Christian gets denied salvation because they are not elect. I’ve seen it written by a non-Calvinist (and I cannot remember who) that Jesus pulls up in a bus to a bus stop full of Christians, but then denies many of them, including infants, a place on the bus because they are “not elect.” He tells them that they are to board the next bus, driven by Satan and bound for hell.

        The problem with this illustration is that no Calvinist would argue that anyone is waiting at this bus stop that isn’t elect. [Now, I say that with the caveat that both Traditionalists and Calvinists believe there are many in the church that are not regenerate (“I never knew you”)–I’m not speaking to that. I’m talking about those who really love Jesus.] Again, if you’re at the bus stop waiting for Jesus, it means that you’re there because Jesus elected you to be there. He’s not going to turn away any who call on him because they’re not elect–they call on him because they are elect in the first place!

        If someone is a Christian, it is so because they are elect. If someone is seeking after God, reading their bibles, working in the capacity of ministry, etc., these are all signs that someone is regenerate or elect. A Calvinist would say that someone that is not elect would show none of these outward traits. There is not a secret, core group of the elect aristocracy among the larger body of believers. No one loves Jesus that is not elect. If you love Jesus, it means you’re elect.

        Election is really something that is observed best in hindsight–you look back on your salvation experience and say, “Wow, I had nothing to do with my salvation. Praise God that he had mercy on a sinner like me!” It’s not something that you look ahead to, saying, “I love Jesus, but I sure hope I’m elect when I die.”

        I’m not sure how better to explain this, except maybe to repeat that no one is going to be denied Jesus that really wants Jesus. We just go a step further and say that only the elect want it.

        Does that make sense? You might try reading the Bethlehem Baptist Elders’ Statement, “What We Believe About the 5 Points of Calvinism” for a better explanation.

        To summarize, I think you’ve got some fairly large misunderstandings about what we believe, and I think that if we could somehow explain this stuff to you better it will remove a lot of your vehemence towards Calvinists. I’m all for friendly theological debate, but you continue to display a level of anger that I think is not appropriate.

          Dr. Bruce McLaughlin

          Do I need a certain SBC position to be contacted by concerned Southern Baptists? Perhaps the man’s church has been infiltrated by “New Calvinists” who plan to amend the BF&M at the Convention to make the SBC a Calvinist denomination. The problem with your scenario about only those who don’t love Jesus being lost, is that the lost don’t love Jesus because of the counsel and decree of God. God made sure they would not love Jesus.

          Michael Vaughan

          Tell you what, if a group of Calvinists try to amend the BFAM at the annual meeting, I’ll eat my shirt. If they don’t, how about you admit that you’re chasing boogey men?

          It wasn’t a bunch of Calvinists that converted me. I was a card-carrying traditionalist for years. And then I decided to memorize Romans. By the time I was through with chapter 9, I was a Calvinist,

          I’m not saying that Calvinism is the only lens to read scripture through; I recognize that we’re all trying to faithfully understand the text and I’ll grant that we’ve all probably got some things wrong. But don’t presume that all of us new Calvinists came to the movement because of some insidious work of the seminaries.

    Johnathan Pritchett

    Dr. Bruce McLaughlin, I must also say that I found your post unhelpful. Here are some reasons I would ask you to prayerfully consider with all due respect:

    1. Your tone here reflects the very attitude those of us who signed the document find unwelcome in certain (but certainly not all) Calvinists.

    2. It added no theological substance whatsoever to the conversation, but added a whole lot of needless blasting of God’s great work in the SBC that is much bigger than the comparatively small issue of debating Calvinism. This too, reflects some poor antics of the Calvinists that have posted on this very thread.

    3. It borders on being totally incomprehensible anyway.

Joe Mayes

I’m not a bigger blogger or read many blogs. But as a Southern Baptist (and a Calvinist), this did get my attention. Often I hear this debate, and have heard the debate of the Traditionalist and my heart becomes sadden. It’s not that I’m against debating this issue, but so often it comes off as an attack against a person or a group of people. Comments such as “While I cannot wish upon Dr. Ascol that his tribe would increase,” just is not helpful. It’s not about a tribe increasing unless our tribe is the Christian faith. It’s my prayer and desire, whether it’s “traditionalist” or “non-traditionalist”, “calvinist” or arminian” that all would see the Kingdom grow. Even as one who strongly supports election, I hope my brothers and sisters who oppose that view will have churches that are growing and seeing people saved. Any other opinion seems wrong. There’s a place to debate this, but not taking jabs at one another. There are parts that I agree with Dr. Ascol and parts from Dr. Akin, and even Dr. Iorg. As Dr. Iorg has said, I’m Baptist and this issue doesn’t determine if I’m Baptist or not. But they way we have misinterpreted much of Baptist history about it has been ignorant at times. So I say this to encourage us to work together for the sake of the Kingdom and be less concerned about taking jabs at one another.

Randall Cofield

Dr. Patrick,

You write: “…the Traditional Statement enjoys complete compatibility with the BFM 2000…”

While there seems to be quite a few nuanced incompatibilities between the T. S. and the BF&M, there is at least one which is quite glaring.

TRADITIONAL STATEMENT (V):
WE AFFIRM that any person who responds to the Gospel with repentance and faith is born again through the power of the Holy Spirit.

WE DENY that any person is regenerated prior to or apart from hearing and responding to the Gospel.

BAPTIST FAITH AND MESSAGE (IV):
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.

The Traditional Statement and its framers and signatories seem to be denying that regeneration *precedes* repentance and faith, whereas the BF&M clearly *affirms* it.

How may this be viewed as “complete compatibility?”

Respectfully

    Rick Patrick

    Randall,

    Your excellent question allows me to walk you through an order of salvation events consistent with both documents, namely: (1) the Holy Spirit convicting of sin or “drawing through the Gospel,” (2) the sinner responding in repentance and faith, and (3) the resulting change of heart by God’s grace turning a believer into a new creature in Christ.

    I believe the two interpretations hinge upon the grammatical interpretation of your highlighted “to which the sinner responds” phrase, whose antecedent I take as “conviction of sin” and not as “a change of heart.” In other words, in my interpretation, the Holy Spirit convicts of sin, to which conviction of sin the sinner responds with repentance and faith, all of which describes the process wrought by the Holy Spirit to produce a heart change we call regeneration.

    I trust that the many signers of both the Traditional Statement and the Baptist Faith and Message 2000, including many drafters who actually served on the BFM 2000 committee, would describe in some similar fashion their view that the Baptist Faith and Message 2000 does not REQUIRE that regeneration must precede faith.

      mike white

      Rick,
      you said:
      “Your excellent question allows me to walk you through an order of salvation events consistent with both documents, namely: (1) the Holy Spirit convicting of sin or “drawing through the Gospel,” (2) the sinner responding in repentance and faith, and (3) the resulting change of heart by God’s grace turning a believer into a new creature in Christ.”

      How come you put the change of heart as a result of the sinner’s repentance and faith? How does one repent with faith if the heart is still needing to be changed?

        Rick Patrick

        From Article Two of the Traditional Statement:

        “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.”

        Thus, to answer your question, in this view, a person repents with faith because they have been given the capacity and the free will to respond to the Holy Spirit’s gracious drawing through the Gospel.

    wingedfooted1

    Blessings, Randall.

    BAPTIST FAITH AND MESSAGE (IV):
    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.

    I read the above as denying that regeneration precedes faith. Notice it reads ..

    “Regeneration, or the new birth, is a work of God’s grace whereby BELIEVERS become new creatures in Christ Jesus”

    If it suggested “regeneration precedes faith” it would have to read…..

    “Regeneration, or the new birth, is a work of God’s grace whereby UNBELIEVERS become new creatures in Christ Jesus”

    Also, it denotes that this change of heart occurs thru conviction, and not regeneration.

    Grace.

      Randall Cofield

      Wingfooted1,

      You said: “Also, it denotes that this change of heart occurs thru conviction, and not regeneration.”

      Brother, the BF&M actually says that regeneration (“It”) IS a change of heart….

      Also, see my response to Dr. Patrick’s defense of this interpretation. Your (and Dr. Patrick’s) interpretation of this statement is neither consistent with English syntax, nor the Historic Baptist Confessions, nor logic, nor Scripture.

      Grace and Peace

Jay Beerley

With links, please can anyone who originally signed this document point to “Calvinists” who were, before the document was released as a “response” to Calvinism being pushed in the convention, writing things there were of this tone and such a slanderous nature. I think this article is a direct piece of evidence about where the hostility lies within the convention.

Now, on to content:
Are we a confessional people or not? Do confessional statements matter across the board? I seem to be confused from this “traditionalist” position.

For the record, Tom Ascol doesn’t HAVE to reconcile ANYTHING with ANY of the BF&M’s for his theology. I don’t know why this whole article seems grounded in the fact that you have to choose ONE BF&M and reconcile all of your theology to it. That’s just weird and I can’t wrap my mind around it. And let’s just say, I wouldn’t want to associate myself with much of anything that was produced from our convention in the midst of the liberals being in charge, which many of those who signed this document fought against.

Anyway, it’s interesting that an article dealing with imputed guilt doesn’t actually engage with the biblical truths of being a slave to sin or dead in sin, or really, any Bible passage whatsoever. So, I think until that is done, Dr. Ascol is still clearly in the more biblical position, since no biblical position has been offered here.

    Johnathan Pritchett

    I agree with the gist of what you are saying. No Baptist has to affirm anything in any BF&M, something Mohler himself needs to learn. He recently stated the opposite.

    In any case, your problem with the content lies in this sentence:

    “Anyway, it’s interesting that an article dealing with imputed guilt doesn’t actually engage with the biblical truths of being a slave to sin or dead in sin, or really, any Bible passage whatsoever.”

    1. That is technically incorrect, though prooftexting any confession is a crapshoot, and Douglass Wilson even made this comment about the proof citations of the Westminster confession.

    2. No one that signed the Statement disavows the Biblical truths of being a slave to sin or dead in sin. So I don’t know what the problem here is. On the other hand, the imputation of Adam’s guilt in not taught in the Bible at all. And the Bible states clearly on the matters of being slaves to sin and being dead in sin, but those are Biblical truths of WHAT IS the case. The passages that teach these Biblical truths have nothing whatever to do with WHY it is the case.

    The imputation of Adam’s guilt is little more than a bad Augustinian inference as to WHY it is the case people are slaves to sin and dead in sin, and it is an un-Biblical one too since it is taught nowhere in Scripture. As such, it is hardly worth affirming, especially when the testimony of Scripture rejects this understanding, as I have argued above (from the very passage people think this notion is taught even).

Darryl Hill

This article definitely sticks out among the others posted on this site as filled with personal attack and sarcasm. If I were watching Sesame Street and hearing that little song…. “One of these kids is doing his own thing…” this article would be the one that doesn’t belong.

    Rick Patrick

    Darryl,

    With respect, Dr. Ascol has suggested that yours truly, along with 500 of my Southern Baptist friends, are guilty of heresy. Being unaccustomed to such a charge, please forgive me if I am inexperienced in striking the proper tone.

    I will certainly grant you that the piece is written in a more editorial style than some of the other articles on this site. For a fuller explanation of my reasons, along with a promise that any future article focused specifically on theology will neither mention Dr. Ascol nor contain a defensive tone, please consider my response to Jon below.

      Darryl Hill

      I think the statement made in article 2 of the original document here does clearly read as semi-pelagian, whether intended or not. (and I don’t think that was the intent) I think the issue was a combination of wanting to distinguish yourselves from Calvinists and wanting to get that “free will” buzz word included in the document. I appreciate your response, but I’m not even going to attempt to wade through your article to respond point by point. The entire thing is argumentative and strikes a poor tone for this debate, in my opinion. It sounds as if you’d be happy to have anyone with a “calvinistic” understanding of soteriology just jump off the Baptist ship altogether. It sounds to me like you don’t want to discuss these things with me, but that you just want to tell me where I went wrong. By the way, the church I’ve served on staff with is not Calvinistic and I have not attempted to “convert” them or undermine my pastor. Actually, I’ve now had 3 pastors and NONE of them agree with me on reformed theology.

      My theology changed on these issues only a few years back and I did go through what many refer to as a “caged phase” where I thought everyone had to agree with me or they were not true believers. I’d submit that many people deal with these kinds of issues. I would also submit that some of the behavior we’ve seen from these “new calvinists” is likely just the result of youthful enthusiasm and some of what I went through as well.

      There is an answer here, by the way- an answer that need not require a division or an angry fight. We can coexist. Drawing lines in the sand is not a good way to begin the discussion, though, and I fear that this is what you and other well-meaning brothers have done in creating this unnecessary document and asking people to pick sides. There is tension between many of these issues in Scripture, so why should we expect any less in the church? This whole situation seems a strategy of the enemy to divide and harm the real mission we all have in common, which is to advance the Kingdom.

Alan Davis

With all due respect; Would someone prove with good solid hermenutics that man is born innocent till he sins? That does not seem to be what scriptures say at all, irregardless of what the BFM says…the BFM is NOT God’s Word and can be wrong.

Is that what the drafters and signers of this document are saying? That man is born innocent with no sin? When is the point he is no longer innocent? This makes no biblical sense no matter what the BFM says. I’m at a loss here now we have this large group of SBC leaders saying man is born innocent? really?? i have been a member of SBC churches all my life and have pastored 2 for the last 18 years, my parents were in SBC churches all their lives along with grandparents (I know endless genoligies…lol) and I never heard that from any of them, just the opposite, that man is born guilty as a sinner. Maybe the SBC has left me…and I am NOT trying to pick a fight, I say this with all the respect I can. This is majorly serious and I’m not sure what table the author is talking about here.

    Johnathan Pritchett

    With all due respect; Would someone prove with good solid hermenutics that man is born guilty of Adam’s or any other person’s sin before he sins?

    But then the argument will be, what is good solid hermenutics?

    :)

    Anyway, I have made two posts in this thread regarding this specific inquiry. Have another look and reply to them. I am always eager to discuss Scripture with those who submit to its authority in a friendly way preferably.

    Feel free to find me on Facebook if you would like to converse in private exchange away from an audience seeking to tear apart every jot and tittle either of us may write.

    Just type in my name above and you will see my name with a picture of an ugly guy standing next to a beautiful woman, in front of a maroon curtain. :)

      Alan Davis

      Thank you for your reply brother Johnathan. will look you up on FB later, gotta go visit tonight though. Thanks again.

      alan davis

    Rick Patrick

    Alan,

    Man is born with a sin nature due to Adam’s fall. While we admit original sin, and the bent toward sinning that stems from it, we deny original guilt, which is to say that we are not responsible for Adam’s sin, but merely for our own.

    In our current confessional statement, our condemnation comes only after our own personal transgression. Years ago, the view of our confessional statement was that we stood condemned ourselves because of Adam’s sin before we had ever committed a sinful act.

    A more thorough treatment of the issue is presented by Dr. Adam Harwood in his excellent book, The Spiritual Condition of Infants: A Biblical-Historical Survey and Systematic Proposal.

    For a chapel presentation by Dr. Harwood in which he explains the Baptist Faith and Message 2000?s affirmation of inheriting a sinful nature but rejection of imputed guilt, see http://www.truett.edu/chapel/fall-2011-chapel/fall-2011-chapel-video-player.html

      wingedfooted1

      Rick,

      Scripture appears to support this.

      Romans 7:9-11……..
      Once I was alive apart from law; but when the commandment came, sin sprang to life and I died. I found that the very commandment that was intended to bring life actually brought death. For sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, deceived me, and through the commandment put me to death.

      In Him

      Alan Davis

      Thank you for your reply Dr. Patrick. I hear you and I think I have a handle on what you are saying. I know that this is a hypothetical question but is the document theoretically saying that man is not born in need of Christ but becomes in need of Christ?

      I promise I am not dancing with you on this just an honest question concerning the intent of the document.

        Alan Davis

        Rom 5:12 Therefore, just as tsin came into the world through one man, and udeath through sin, and so death spread to all men5 because wall sinned—

          Alan Davis

          29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

          SBC Layman

          A careful reading of this passage does not teach inherited guilt for Adam’s sin. All it says is that sin entered the world through Adam. No one denies that. Furthermore, the context of this passage is clearly a contrast showing that God’s grace is even more pervasive than man’s sin. That is all you can say about original sin from this passage without extrapolating beyond the text.

          SBC Layman

          First comment was in regard to Romans 5. Regarding Romans 8, I do not understand why these verses are always pulled from context and separated. I challenge anyone who exegetes and interprets any passage in Romans to always read the whole letter when you do it. What is Paul doing with Romans? The overriding, overarching theme of Romans – the question Paul is answering – is “What about the Gentiles? How is it that the Jews have sought God through the Lay and yet the Gentiles are included in grace?” Paul answers this question explaining that it was always God’s plan to offer the gospel to the Gentiles. Ascribing these verses to individuals is going beyond the text. Again, I challenge you to never read Romans without reading it all and see if it doesn’t affect the way you understand it. Context is king!

          SBC Layman

          I said in post above:

          “How is it that the Jews have sought God through the Lay and yet the Gentiles are included in grace?”

          “Lay” should have been “Law”.

        Rick Patrick

        According to the denial of imputed guilt, man is born in original sin with a sin nature and in need of Christ. However, he is not born under condemnation for Adam’s sin, but only stands condemned after he has actually transgressed. I hope that answers your question.

      Randall Cofield

      Dr. Patrick,

      You wrote: “In our current confessional statement, our condemnation comes only after our own personal transgression.”

      This seems to be a flat denial of the doctrine of original sin. Am I reading this correctly?

      Respectfully

        Rick Patrick

        No. The doctrine of original sin is preserved. It is the doctrine of original guilt that is denied. Compare the three versions of the Baptist Faith and Message Article III on the Fall of Man at the link below and look carefully for the placement of the word “condemnation.”

        http://www.sbc.net/bfm/bfmcomparison.asp

      Blake Gentry

      Rick, so we are not born sinners? We are not destined to hell, despite the fact that the Bible teaches that we are IN Adam?

        mike white

        Blake,

        One goes to hell because one has personally sinned. Unless the good Lord rescues that one from himself.

          Blake Gentry

          So, are we born neutral, Mike?

Christopher Young

I would like to ask a question concerning this debate. Who or what is primarily responsible for us having this division/discussion? In my opinion, this did NOT start with the Hankins resolution. The person responsible for this issue has to be Dr. Mohler. Being a Southern Baptist all of my life, I can not remember the issue of Calvinism ever being raised until Mohler had been president of Southern for a few years. After a tenure of nearly 20 years, Dr. Mohler and the seminary have produced hundreds if not thousands of graduates who are now leading churches deeper into “reformed” doctrine. Did the SBC, when approving Dr. Mohler, agree to a fundamental change in Baptist soteriology? I understand the need to rescue SBTS from liberalism that was rampant there in the 70’s and 80’s, but is this an example of over correction or is what the leaders of the SBC wanted? Before anyone scolds me, I am a graduate of SBTS and went to school there under Mohler’s presidency.

Fred Johnson

This post at SBC Voices deserves a reading and response: http://sbcvoices.com/who-are-the-new-calvinists-start-naming-names/

    Randall Cofield

    I think it is rather clear that Mohler himself is being “named” as a “New Calvinists”….at least if the “Traditionalist” responses to his blog are any indication…

Randall Cofield

Dr. Patrick,

You said: “I believe the two interpretations hinge upon the grammatical interpretation of your highlighted “to which the sinner responds” phrase, whose antecedent I take as “conviction of sin” and not as “a change of heart.”

Respectfully, to make the antecedent of the response of repentance and faith merely the “conviction of sin” seems a stretch for at least three reasons:

1) “It is a change of heart wrought by the Holy Spirit through conviction of sin,” is clearly, in its entirety, a descriptor of regeneration. To isolate “conviction of sin” from the “change of heart” and the third person pronoun “It” (regeneration) is inconsistent with the rules of English syntax….AND…

2) It is to deny what the vast majority of historic Baptist Confessions of Faith, including the Abstract of Principles and the 1689 London Baptist Confession clearly state: regeneration is prior to repentance and faith.

3) Conviction of sin alone is not the cause of repentance, let alone faith.

Neither syntax, nor Baptist history, nor logic, nor Scripture allow for the interpretation you seem to be suggesting.

Soli Deo Gloria

    Alan Davis

    This was my point on anther blog. Thank you

    Rick Patrick

    Arguing further over the antecedent of “to which the sinner responds” is pointless since we will never agree on that.

    However, I would point out that IF your view is correct and the Baptist Faith and Message 2000 ABSOLUTELY REQUIRES the belief that regeneration precedes faith, then we have MANY, MANY Baptists who have signed that confession without knowing what they were signing, including famous pastors and world-class scholars who have apparently been duped by the phrasing of Article III.

    I am unwilling to presume that notion.

      Randall Cofield

      Dr. Patrick,

      Yet the historic Baptist Confessions are perfectly clear on this point. Are they not? And if so, at precisely what point did the many to whom you refer sever themselves from their historic foundations?

      Are these not reasonable and legitimate questions, brother?

      Soli Deo Gloria

      Alan Davis

      Dr. Patrick,

      So because of accolades you would never presume “learned men” are wrong or mistaken? There are men on both sides of this issue that have great creditably but “two opposing ideas can not both be right”. Someone is right and someone is wrong and that means there are some highly respected and credited people wrong here.

    wingedfooted1

    Randall,

    Again, look at the opening sentence. It reads…

    “Regeneration, or the new birth, is a work of God’s grace whereby BELIEVERS become new creatures in Christ Jesus”

    Clearly, this states that it is believers who BECOME new creatures in Christ Jesus thru regeneration. Again, if calvinism is true, then it is UNBELIEVERS who become new creatures in Christ Jesus so they can believe.

    Not biblical.

    If the second sentence is implying that sinners repent and believe because they are new creatures in Christ Jesus via regeneration, then it is a blatant contradiction of the previous verse.

    That said, it is obvious this could have been stated more clearly.

    Also, your statement earlier to me that this belief (faith preceding regeneration) is inconsistent with “logic” and “scripture” is just your opinion. Nothing more, nothing less.

    God bless.

      Randall Cofield

      Wingfooted1,

      Let’s say, theoretically, I cede you the BF&M, logic, and Scripture.

      Shall we ignore the historic Baptist Confessions, some dating back 300 + years?

      If not, you may be forced to return to me the BF&M, logic, and Scripture…… :-)

      Soli Deo Gloria

Alan Davis

I would also, and this is with respect, like to know what the point of the statement would be and what the intent of use for the statement is and will be? It would be good to hear from the writers of the document on this. maybe they have already addressed this and I have missed it if so please give me a link. Thanks men.

Randall Cofield

Dr. Patrick,

You wrote: “In our current confessional statement (I assume you are referring to the new “Traditional Statement”), our condemnation comes only after our own personal transgression.”

This seems to be a flat denial of the doctrine of original sin. Am I reading this correctly?

Respectfully

    Rick Patrick

    First of all, by current confessional statement, I mean the BFM 2000.

    To answer your question, no. The doctrine of original sin is preserved. It is the doctrine of original guilt that is denied. Compare the three versions of the Baptist Faith and Message Article III on the Fall of Man at the link below and look carefully for the placement of the word “condemnation.”

    http://www.sbc.net/bfm/bfmcomparison.asp

      Randall Cofield

      Dr. Patrick,

      Thanks for clearing that up. I must confess I stumble a bit even at the current BF&M wording on this point. It is ambiguous and best, and completely wrong at worst.

      I do, however, fail to see how it is possible to retain original sin without original guilt.

      Grace and Peace

        mike white

        Randall,
        The Bible is quite clear in many places that one is condemned for the sin they commit and on that they will be judged. Did YOU commit the sin in the Garden of Eden? If not, how can you you be justly guilty of it?

          Randall Cofield

          Ro 5:18 Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men.

          volfan007

          RAndall,

          So, you’re a universalist? ;)

          David

          Randall Cofield

          @David

          Not at all. You? ;-)

John Tucker

I am disappointed that so few within the SBC actually know their roots, let alone their Bibles.

Jon

So I gather you have no Biblically-based critique of Dr. Ascol’s views? This article did not at all interact with him theologically – what I see is a series of poorly contructed personal and strawman attacks.

    Rick Patrick

    Just as Dr. Ascol wrote about various religious groups, quoted certain scholars and addressed the doctrines found in various confessional statements, my four page response was limited to these matters, while also questioning whether the purpose of the Founders might be germane to our denominational conflict.

    However, because of your encouragement, along with that of others, that I discuss the order of transgression and condemnation from a strictly biblical perspective, I may eventually offer such a defense for the denial of imputed guilt in a subsequent article that will not reference Dr. Ascol’s original post at all.

    Once I am no longer responding to his suggestion of my heresy or the way he likened my view to that of Mormonism, you may find that my straightforward theological writing is much easier to digest in terms of tone. In fact, I promise that if I write a subsequent piece addressing the theology in question, I will not even mention Dr. Ascol at all.

    Many of the recent articles posted here containing much more irenic tones were specific commentaries on one of the Statement’s ten articles and were not written in response to a suggestion of heresy. If indeed I write such a piece, I can assure you, any tone of defense or righteous indignation will be absent.

M. R. Williams

Can anyone explain the first sentence in this statement from Dr. Patrick? “I believe in the necessity of the virgin birth, but not the necessity of the necessity. Our Sovereign God was free to send us His Son in whatever way He chose, regardless of how it might fit in some system of man’s reasoning.”

    Michael Vaughan

    I believe he is questioning Dr. Ascol’s juxtaposition of original sin/imputed guilt/etc with the virgin birth.

    Catholics, and perhaps Dr. Ascol–I’m just going by what I see here, as I haven’t read much of anything by Ascol, believe that Jesus HAD to be born of a virgin (who was also without sin–>immaculate conception) in order to be free from original sin. Dr. Patrick, and I think most of us here, Calvinist and “Traditionalist” alike, would deny that doctrine.

    It was necessary for Jesus to be born of a virgin because the prophecies demanded it, but not necessary that he be born of a virgin for God’s saving purposes.

      M. R. Williams

      Michael, I appreciate the comment. I was trying to figure out how the first statement, “I believe in the necessity of the virgin birth, but not the necessity of the necessity,” fits with the second statement, “Our Sovereign God was free to send us His Son in whatever way He chose.” Is he saying God could have sent His Son in another way other than the virgin birth?

        Michael Vaughan

        I think he could have, but once he made a prophesy about a virgin birth he sort of locked himself in, so to speak. But before Isaiah, yeah, he could have done whatever he wanted to. Christ being sinless wasn’t contingent on a virgin birth, because original sin is not transmitted in semen as some believe (the other reference he made).

    Rick Patrick

    Dr. Ascol was questioning why the virgin birth would have been necessary if Jesus was only in danger of inheriting a “nature and environment inclined toward sin” (BFM 1963, BFM 2000, TS 2012) as opposed to a “nature corrupt and in bondage to sin…under condemnation” (BFM 1925). Presumably, if Jesus had merely inherited this inclination, He would have been able to overcome such temptation and remain sinless, although if he had inherited the corrupt nature, He would have been under condemnation for Adam’s sin, and thus could not have eventually become the perfect and sinless sacrifice.

    My argument is not that Dr. Ascol’s system does not fit. Frankly, it does. My argument is that God is not bound by our logic to satisfy our systems. To argue backwards from the existence of the Virgin Birth in order to prove imputed guilt assumes God could not have based the Virgin Birth on any other rationale. For example, one could argue that the necessity of the Virgin Birth does not stem from Adam’s imputed guilt, but rather from Adam’s sinful nature, a doctrine we all believe. Just because I believe in the necessity of the Virgin Birth as a fundamental doctrine of our faith does not mean that I believe it was made necessary simply to satisfy the reasoning of Dr. Ascol’s view.

      M. R. Williams

      Dr. Patrick:

      Thanks for taking the time to respond. I guess I was caught off guard by this: “Our Sovereign God was free to send us His Son in whatever way He chose.”

      I assume then that you believe the incarnation through a descendant of Adam (in this case, we all know it was Mary) IS AN ESSENTIAL. In other words, you do believe Jesus Christ HAD to be a descendant of Adam in order to redeem us. Correct?

      Respectfully submitted.

        Rick Patrick

        Yes, and my statement could have been much better worded. What I was really getting at was that God could have chosen the process of the Virgin Birth on the basis of a different argument than the one Dr. Ascol used.

          M. R. Williams

          Dr. Patrick:

          Thank you, sir. I appreciate your responses.

          I too believe Christ HAD to be a descendant of Adam in order to redeem us. In other words, even though God could have formed a body out of the dust of the ground and myteriously (just as mysteriously as in the womb of Mary) enacted the hypostatic union, the problem would be that this “man” would not be related to Adam and therefore not the true representative of Adam and His race. he would not have been our “near kinsman.”

          I am glad to hear you affirm this!

          Again, thank you for your time.

      Mike Davis

      You are correct that the logical necessity of the virgin birth could be applied to either the purpose of overcoming inherited sin nature or original guilt (or both). Also, there is an entirely independent and overriding necessity for the virgin birth, which is that Jesus is the Son of God. This is a first-order doctrine, so we should be careful to protect the apologia of our Christology, on which both Calvinists and Traditionalists agree (as does the BFM 2000, obviously).

      While we may disagree about imputed guilt, the real concern about Article Two is whether it intends to distinguish between the inheritance of a sin nature from Adam and the inheritance of a nature merely inclined toward sin (and thus does not become sinful until a sinful action is performed. This, and the denial that free will has been incapacitated by original sin are the concern about Article Two. You appear to affirm that an actual sin nature, not just a proclivity to sin, are inherited from Adam. But that is not clear from Article Two.

M. R. Williams

Dr. Patrick:

In your illustration of Dr. Ascol’s ride in the Dolorean, you claimed he would be better off staying here with – and I quote – “a neutral position on the order of faith and regeneration.” REALLY???? Come on!! The current BF&M says, “It (i.e., regeneration) 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.” Any grammarian would tell you that this sentence has regeneration preceding faith.

Respectfully submitted.

    volfan007

    MR,

    If this is so clear, then why would so many on the BFM2K not believe in regeneration before faith? And, why would so many SB Seminary Presidents and Seminary Profs disagree with regeneration before faith? Why would so many Baptist College Presidents and Profs not hold to regeneration before faith? SBC former Presidents? etc, etc, etc????

    Are you saying that they ALL do not a) understand the BFM2K? or b) agree with the BFM2K?

    Also, are you saying that the vast majority of the SB’s in the SBC dont belong in the SBC, because they do not believe in regeneration before faith?

    David

      M. R. Williams

      David,

      I suppose I’m saying (B).

      No sir, I’m not saying they don’t belong in the SBC. I suggest that since the majority of Southen Baptists don’t believe in regeneration prior faith, change the statement to reflect that. I’m suggesting consistency.

      I think if the traditionalists are correct and they represent the majority of Southern Baptists, eventually they will have to address this sentence.

      Repectfully submitted.

        volfan007

        MR,

        I have to disagree with you. I do not believe that the BFM2K is teaching regeneration before faith. I can say amen to this part of the BFM2K wholeheartedly, and I do not believe in regeneration before faith. I’d also imagine that all the former SBC Presidents, SB Seminary Presidents and Profs, former BFM2K committee members, and 170 something Pastors know exactly what the BFM2K says, and agree with it…..and, they dont believe in regeneration before faith….

        David

      volfan007

      That should have read “on the BFM2K committee”

        M. R. Williams

        David,

        And I understand your answer. I’m just saying that where you may not see that sentence as saying that regeneration precedes faith, the Calvinists in the convention believe that is exactly what it says. And I think the wording favors their position.

        “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.”

        Whatever the “it” is, the statement says the sinner “responds” to it in repentance and faith.

        If I were in an English grammar class, I don’t think I’d get an “F” for saying the “it” refers to regeneration. Its a very real option – and I think the correct one when you just read the sentence.

        So, why not change the wording and remove all doubt about what the majority of Southern Baptists believe instead of leaving this sentence there for the Calvinists to claim?

        God bless.

          Rick Patrick

          Grammatically, consider marriage:

          “It is a change of life brought about by one’s spouse through a commitment of love, to which the other spouse responds with kindness and grace and a lifetime of companionship.”

          Is the spouse responding to the “change of life” or to the “commitment of love?”

          I tell you, our problem is the existence of an indefinite antecedent, possibly placed there intentionally so as to keep the statement neutral.

      Randall Cofield

      David,

      “If this is so clear, then why would so many on the BFM2K not believe in regeneration before faith?”

      It clearly does place regeneration before faith…as does the Abstract of Principles, The New Hampshire Confession, the 1689 London Baptist Confession, and dozens of other historic Baptist confessions.

      Back up a few posts to were this was addressed above.

      Peace

        M. R. Williams

        Randall:

        My point is that this is a glaring inconsistency between the BF&M and what the traditionalists have written. They say regeneration does not precede repentance and faith, but this sentence says just the opposite. And I don’t think I’m making it say that – it is what it says.

        So I think the traditionalists will at some point have to refine this statement – i.e., change this part of the BF&M – in order to reflect what the majority believes.

        Respectfully submitted.

          Randall Cofield

          Yeah, I’m with you. Made that point very early on this thread in response to Dr. Patrick’s contention that the Traditional Statement was completely compatible with the BF&M2K.

          It ain’t.

        Brad Reynolds

        Randall,
        I think the rules of grammar actually point to the antecedent of “to which the sinner responds” being the “conviction of sin.” In English, it is normal for an antecedent (whether clausal or not) to modify the closest noun before it (especially if it might be unclear) or in this case the closest phrase.

        Further the fact it doesn’t use the same language as other more Calvinistic confessions may give us a hint it is not saying what previous confessions are saying

        Finally it appears to be saying in my words “Regeneration is a work of God, whereby sinners become new creatures in Christ” PERIOD. I say that because there is a reason the period is there. Then the authors move from the description to what is involved. “Regeneration is a change of the heart, this change of heart is brought about by the Holy Spirit, who does this through the conviction of sin to which the sinner responds in repentance and faith.” Thus a change in heart occurs when through conviction by the Holy Spirit a sinner responds in repentance and faith.

        I think it is the Calvinist who would struggle signing this. Moreover, the Calvinist should really really struggle signing since the BFM2000 says men become transgressors “when they are capable of moral action” not before. Which certainly seems to deny inherited guilt from Adam. If a Calvinist can affirm this that is fine by me – just don’t redefine the words. Redefining words makes documents meaningless.

          M. R. Williams

          Brad:

          You wrote: “Redefining words makes documents meaningless.”

          Agreed!

          God bless.

          Chris Roberts

          “If a Calvinist can affirm this that is fine by me – just don’t redefine the words.”

          It does not redefine words to observe that the BF&M takes no position on *when* people are capable of moral actions.

      kyle.mullaney

      Because most don’t read it!

Clark Dunlap

He almost had at “Hello” but when he mentioned: “…hundreds of Baptists, for example, to sign a simple doctrinal paper without accusing anyone of any kind of heresy at all.”
I wondered what paper this was. Surely not the Statement of the “Traditionalsists” that apparently he has signed. That was fairly hurtful to me.

But I really gagged at his accusation of Dr. Ascol: “This is a very weak attempt at guilt by association, and is the classic ad hominem rhetorical fallacy.” What a bald-faced unfounded accusation. Neither Ascol, nor Akin, nor George speaks for me, even though I admire them all. But A fair warning that something smacks of a heresy embraced by a known cult does not have to be either of the things he accused Ascol of doing. Can he read his mind? is he privy to the secret thoughts of the heart? No, he isn’t. He is a verbal bully. And we know what we should do about bullies.

I’m really getting SICK of this kind of language, and it was largely this “Traditionalist” statement that escalated it. Dr. Ascol was addressing the words that were written. I applaud Akin and George for trying to build bridges. But Ascol, from the parts I have read, which is not every word, has been honestly writing about the words that were written, not the people who wrote them. Unlike this Dr. Patrick, who would rather spend his time bullying.
Sorry, that’s how it seems to me.
And I’m still waiting for the first apology from a signer of this “Traditionalist” document.

M. R. Williams

Dr. Patrick:

You wrote to me in a previous post: “I tell you, our problem is the existence of an indefinite antecedent, possibly placed there intentionally so as to keep the statement neutral.”

Thank you for responding. Your answer demonstrates the reason why I am asking the question: Why leave it that way? If what the traditionalists have written is the majority position, why keep it neutral? If it was so important to write in the recently released document that regeneration does not precede repentance and faith, why leave it open in the BF&M? Shouldn’t there eventually be a move to change the wording so as to be consistent with the majority view?

Respectfully, pastor, your answer reveals that even you can’t be sure what the original writers meant by the statement.

God bless.

    Rick Patrick

    I would not mind at all if the BFM 2000 were to be revised in such a way as to remove all doubt about the order of faith and regeneration.

    I suspect that the desire is for the BFM to be the broad umbrella confession, while the Abstract of Principles on the Calvinist side and the Traditional Statement on the Traditional side provide us with more fine tuned confessions.

      Jimmie B

      RP: When you have the opportunity I would appreciate your review of my two responses to Don Allred posted on 6/13, as well as a third poston 6/14. I welcome your review and response from a biblical perspective.
      I am respectfully,
      Jimmie B.

M. R. Williams

You know, going back and really looking at the current BF&M, the statement on justification says nothing about the imputed righteousness of Christ. And I know I saw someone on a post the other day flatly denying that the righteousness of Christ is imputed to us in our justification.

So, I guess the obvious question is, do the authors of this document believe in the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ in justification?

Randall Cofield

Dr. Patrick,

You stated earlier on this thread: “…a person repents with faith because they have been given the capacity and the free will to respond to the Holy Spirit’s gracious drawing through the Gospel.”

This begs the question: What of those untold millions who have lived and died without ever hearing the Gospel? Is God just in leaving them in their state of condemnation?

If I don’t miss my guess, the answers to this question will expose a massive elephant in the room of the Traditionalists.

Grace and Peace.

Randall Cofield

M. R.,

When read closely the BF&M2k is plagued by a number of weaknesses similar to the one you have named concerning the imputed righteousness of Christ.

I think one of the….dare I say “delicious” ironies…?…of the publishing of the Traditional Statement is that it is rapidly becoming responsible for exposing these weaknesses in the BF&M.

The BF&M2k is the result of a century of modifications, many of which have been made to accommodate the majority (read Traditionalist) opinion within the SBC. Even still, the strength of the theology of the founders of the SBC still permeates the document.

The great irony of this present debate is that those claiming the “Traditional” position are going to be forced to yet further eradicate the traditions (read strong theology) of the founders to accommodate their “new” traditionalism…

OR…the attention called to all of this by the new Traditionalists may, in the long run, result in some returning to their Southern Baptist roots and becoming…..wait for it…..Calvinists! Gasp!

Soli Deo Gloria

    M. R. Williams

    But will they actually go so far as to make these changes to the BF&M to reflect the view of the majority? And will they at some point say, “You know, the men that were influential in establishing the convention in the 19th century were just wrong in a lot of their soteriological views?” They don’t mind saying that about the current group of Calvinists.

    Maybe they have already made those statements and I am unaware of them.

    God bless.

      Randall Cofield

      M. R.,

      I honestly don’t know if they will change the BF&M or not. While I think the Calvinistic presence in the SBC is stronger than they realize, the “Traditionalists” certainly have the numbers to make the changes if they so desire. Cooler heads have prevailed to date, but if the current frenzy is any indication, that could definitely change.

      I think that a fundamental problem driving this whole debate is a poor understanding of historic Baptist theology (and, by extension, soteriology). Being an optimist, I hold out hope that the exposure these issues are currently enjoying could actually have the opposite effect than was intended. If a large number of Southern Baptists begin objectively questioning what is going on we could see another “Resurgence” in which we return to our roots. Wouldn’t that be glorious?!

      Soli Deo Gloria

        M. R. Williams

        I would not object! :-)

Randall Cofield

Dr. Patrick,

You said: “I suspect that the desire is for the BFM to be the broad umbrella confession, while the Abstract of Principles on the Calvinist side and the Traditional Statement on the Traditional side provide us with more fine tuned confessions.”

I think you just hit the nail on the head. Functionally, the theology of the founders that remains in the BF&M (despite efforts to eradicate it) has held us together for 150 years.

Close the umbrella by eradicating what remains of the founder’s theology and you are rid of most of the Calvinist “problem.” But you also sever yourself from the deep, rich, and historic theology of the Baptist faith.

Which will it be? That is the question, brother. That is the question.

Soli Deo Gloria

    Randall Cofield

    CORRECTION: “…founders’ theology….”

M. R. Williams

Brad Reynolds wrote: “Redefining words makes documents meaningless.”

I agree with him. Here was his context.

“Moreover, the Calvinist should really really struggle signing since the BFM2000 says men become transgressors “when they are capable of moral action” not before. Which certainly seems to deny inherited guilt from Adam. If a Calvinist can affirm this that is fine by me – just don’t redefine the words. Redefining words makes documents meaningless.”

But is that what has been going on (on BOTH sides) when these documents (BF&M and Abstract) are being signed by denominational leaders and seminary instructors? There are men who signed the traditional statement who once taught at institutions where they had to sign the Abstract, right?? So shouldn’t they have had really really struggled to sign?

My answer is, “Yes.”

I’m not disagreeing with Brad at all. To me its been a huge inconsistency. Both sides have had to “redefine” (or maybe even ignore) what was written on these documents.

Someone has mentioned an elephant in the room?? :-) To me, this is an elephant.

God bless.

    Brad Reynolds

    M. R.
    You bring up a good discussion – a similar one was held on SE Seminary’s campus during the days of the late Dr. L Russ Bush
    The BFM 2000 (very similar to the Articles) is required to be signed at both Southern and Southeastern. There are some who see contradictions between the two. Thus, the question was typically posed by Dr. Bush (a great man) to potential faculty “does not the BFM2000 contradict the Abstract?” At the end of the day neither Dr. Danny Akin, nor Dr. Al Mohler, nor Dr. Paige Patterson, nor the host of faculty at both institutions felt there was contradictions.

      M. R. Williams

      Brad:

      Looks like they changed their mind. :-)

      God bless!

Lydia

“I think that a fundamental problem driving this whole debate is a poor understanding of historic Baptist theology (and, by extension, soteriology). ”

This is a bit of interesting SBC history

http://peterlumpkins.typepad.com/peter_lumpkins/2010/11/are-baptists-calvinists-revisiting-dr-zt-cody-founders-calvinists-worst-nightmare-by-peter-lumpkins.html

    M. R. Williams

    Thanks Lydia, hadn’t read that.

Randall Cofield

Dr. Patrick,

You stated earlier on this thread: “…a person repents with faith because they have been given the capacity and the free will to respond to the Holy Spirit’s gracious drawing through the Gospel.”

This begs the question: What of those untold millions who have lived and died without ever hearing the Gospel? Is God just in leaving them in their state of condemnation?

If I don’t miss my guess, the answers to this question will expose a massive elephant in the room of the Traditionalists.

Grace and Peace.

    Chris Roberts

    Randall,

    I could be wrong, but I don’t think the answer to that would really be different for either the Calvinist or the non-Calvinist. It would hinge on Romans 1:20 and texts following that.

      Randall Cofield

      Hi Chris,

      That makes my point precisely. If the traditionalists plead the general revelation of Ro. 1:20ff, the necessity of hearing the gospel is eliminated and the whole Traditionalist system becomes self-contradictory…

      Soli Deo Gloria

        Chris Roberts

        I may be misunderstanding something, but hearing the gospel is still necessary for salvation. God’s general revelation is sufficient to condemn sinners for their wrong. God makes himself and his commands known to us. We are responsible for doing what we know to do. But we fail to obey, we sin, we rebel. Because of that, we are condemned. Since we are condemned due to our disobedience, we stand in need of salvation. For salvation, we must hear the gospel. General revelation does not tell us of the salvation available in Christ.

        Now (this may be where you’re going with it), one thing this leads to is that the sinner who sins but never hears the gospel is still justly condemned for his sins. He knew God’s righteous commands yet chose not to obey, and this chain of rebellion stretches all the way back to Adam in the garden. Because of sin, we stand condemned. If we never hear the gospel, that doesn’t change the justice of God’s judgment. Even if we do hear, if God does not intervene in our hearts to open our hearts and eyes and minds to the glory and grace and need of the gospel, thus bringing about our response to the gospel, that still doesn’t change God’s justice, he is still just to judge us. We were created with the knowledge of good and evil. We have consistently and always, on our own, chosen evil. Thus we stand justly condemned. Anything else is pure grace.

          Randall Cofield

          Very well said.

Joe Jarboe

In an effort to add some clarity to this discussion, I offer a definition of original sin:

By yielding to the Tempter, Adam and Eve committed a personal sin, but this sin affected the human nature that they would then transmit in a fallen state. It is a sin which will be transmitted by propogation to all mankind, that is, by the transmission of a human nature deprived of original holiness and justice. It is a “contracted” and not “committed”– a state and not an act. It does not have the character of a personal fault in any of Adam’s descendants. It is a deprivation of original holiness and justice, but human nature has not been totally corrupted: it is wounded in the natural powers proper to it; subject to ignorance, suffering, and the dominion of death, and inclined to sin.

Bill Mac

I think we need to realize (and maybe it is fine) is that what is being said is that infants and the mentally handicapped have no need for a savior, for they are sinless. There is nothing to save them from, therefore they are guaranteed heaven because they have done nothing to condemn them. Is this what “traditionalists” believe? If not, why not?

    volfan007

    Bill Mac,

    I cant speak for all “Traditionalists,” but infants and the mentally handicapped are not sinless…no more than they are innocent. We’re just saying that they’re not held accountable for their sins, until they’re old enough, except for the mentally handicapped, of course, to understand what they’re doing. They are still born as sinners, just like the rest of us. They’re still fallible, human beings, who do bad things…just like the rest of us. They still have a sinful nature, just like the rest of us. But, we’re saying that they’re not held accountable for thier sins, until they reach the age where they knowingly, willingfully commit sin; of course, a lot of mentally handicapped never reach this point. We’re saying that they’re not guilty and condenmed for the sin of Adam….but, they’re all affected by the sin of Adam….just like the rest of us.

    And, when a child reaches the age of accountability, then they’re gonna sin, because they’re sinners. Just like a hog will go to mud, because its a hog; so children will choose sin, one day, because they’re sinners. And, they will be judged for thier works….not for Adam did…but, according to their works.

    David

      Bill Mac

      David: I appreciate the response, but that certainly does not appear to be what is being said. Your explanation seems to be the classic view and I doubt that very many Calvinists would take issue with it. But that is not what “the statement”, or any of the subsequent explanations say.

        volfan007

        Bill Mac,

        I’m pretty sure that this is what most Calvinsts are not happy about….in regards to the statement. And, they’re not to thrilled about man being able to respond to the calling and convicting of the Holy Spirit….that total depravity did not make them incapable of responding to the working of the Spirit of God….

        David

          Bill Mac

          David: This document is a refutation of Calvinist doctrine, so there isn’t much of it that Calvinists will agree with, and that’s fine with me. It is folly to expect non-Calvinists to affirm Calvinist doctrine.

          Your statement:

          I cant speak for all “Traditionalists,” but infants and the mentally handicapped are not sinless…no more than they are innocent. We’re just saying that they’re not held accountable for their sins, until they’re old enough, except for the mentally handicapped, of course, to understand what they’re doing. They are still born as sinners, just like the rest of us.

          is one I can happily affirm. If that is what statement 2 is truly saying, then I have no problem with it. However the explanations I have heard about statement 2 do not seem to agree with what you said.

          Bill Mac

          Could some traditionalists please respond to what David has written and tell me if he is interpreting the statement correctly, especially his statement where he says infants and the mentally handicapped are not sinless? Because the statement seems to say infants are in fact sinless until they reach a certain age, which was what prompted me to ask whether infants and the mentally handicapped are in no need of a savior, since they are sinless.

          Bill Mac

          Anyone?

      Cb scott

      Vol,

      Excellent comment, especially the hog and mud part. A card carrying member of the SEC never gets too far from the components of B-B-Q in his theology or football. :-)

        volfan007

        CB,

        Its just in us; aint it?

        :)

        David

      Randall Cofield

      “We’re saying that they’re not guilty and condenmed for the sin of Adam….”

      Ro 5:18 Therefore, as *one trespass led to condemnation for all men,* so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men.

      1Co 15:22 For as *in Adam all die,* (death is the penalty for all those under the condemnation of sin) so also in Christ shall all be made alive.

      -Those IN Adam (all men without exception, from the moment of physical conception–the point at which we receive the nature of Adam) are under condemnation and die.

      -Those IN Christ (only those who have been born from above,–the point at which we receive the nature of Christ) are justified and live.

      Unless, of course, you are a universalist…and believe that God is going to “violate” EVERYONE’S “free will”….. :-)

      Grace and Peace

        volfan007

        Randall,

        Yep, all die in Adam. I’ve seen this happen all thru my lifetime. Everybody dies.

        So, yea, I believe this verse. The consequences of Adam’s sin is that all men die. And, all men are born spiritually dead. Okay. And?

        David

          Randall Cofield

          David,

          You said: “And?”

          You seem to be contending that a child who has not reached the “age of accountability” is not condemned because of Adam’s sin. Yet they often do die…and in your framework they die not having committed any sin for which they are accountable.

          So why do they die?

          Peace

          volfan007

          They die, because of the effects of Adam’s sin on the universe.

          David

          Randall Cofield

          David,

          “They die, because of the effects of Adam’s sin on the universe.”

          Now that just don’t seem fair, does it? I mean, here they are, perfectly sinless creatures….and yet they often experience this thing called death (which scripture says emphatically is the “wages” or the just desert of SIN) …and yet they die in sinless perfection….never having committed a single sin for which they are culpable.

          So why do they die?

          Peace

      Randall Cofield

      David,

      You said: “And, when a child reaches the age of accountability…”

      I think the idea of an “age of accountability” is a necessary prop for those who deny original sin/guilt. I could be wrong, BUT…I think it is incumbent upon those who postulate such to defend the idea of an “age of accountability” from scripture.

      I’ve tried to come up with such a defense…and failed.

      Can you help me?

      Grace and Peace

        volfan007

        Randall,

        I’ve heard Calvinists say that its wrong to tell a Mom and Dad, that their dead baby is in Heaven. I’ve heard Calvinists say that some babies may be elect, and others may not be….only God knows. Do you believe this?

        Also, if I had time, which I dont…sermon preparation and ministry is calling; effectually, BTW…I could talk about David’s baby dying….about the Scriptures that talk about the ones, who know the difference between their left and thier right…and there’s other passages, which seem to teach that babies and those people, who are mentally handicapped, go to Heaven. But, I just dont have the time to write a term paper on this. Sorry. I’m just taking a break from sermon prep, right now. BTW, I’m preaching thru the book of Jude right now.

        David

          Randall Cofield

          David,

          “I’ve heard Calvinists say that its wrong to tell a Mom and Dad, that their dead baby is in Heaven. I’ve heard Calvinists say that some babies may be elect, and others may not be….only God knows. Do you believe this?”

          Emphatically not.

          Just can’t find support in scripture for this so-called “age of accountability.”

          Soli Deo Gloria

          kyle.mullaney

          I have heard a lot of people say stupid things. I have heard a lot of people say mean and hurtful things. All have reasons. Do you forget that we are all born sinners in the need of Grace? I a, so tired of this and I have only just heard about it tonight! I am in Taiwan. Neither group has a corner on missionaries. While most I meat are some form of Arminian that does not speak to their quality or effectiveness. The most effective missionaries are those who pray, live a life of piety, and seek the good of those they minister too! That life style crosses theological boundaries. Indeed often the least theologically inclined live that way.
          So we sit around saying Calvinists do this and say this and hurt feelings! Arminians do this and say that. NO sinners hurt other sinners feelings! We all have flags or badges we wear! Indeed we all stand behind a badge and lay claim to right because of it. You feel obliged to make snide comments and rare at those who Christ has redeemed by his blood because of a caricature of Calvinists. Well listen CHRISTIANS have a caricature the world over one that you don’t want people to say of you, imperialistic, dogmatic, mean spirited, love you of if you listen to them, bible thumping, jerks! Does that picture sum up most Christians you know? Surely not but it is what many think of Christians. Yeah young (not age wise but maturity wise) Calvinists, we say stupid uncaring things. In our weakness of conviction we try to be bold but are rather stupid instead. I would prefer a young Calvinist to be a silent Calvinist for 8-10 years but we don’t have that luxury. (and I hate that term) if we are polemical it is because we learn early on we will have to defend ourselves, but it would be wise if we would apply ourselves to living by faith but such is American culture we fight and fight hard. We reinforce the caricature. Please young people don’t define the group. Just like the Catholic church of the 1500’s doesnt represent Christianity. But many take it that way and apply that picture to you!

          Randall Cofield

          David,

          You said: “BTW, I’m preaching thru the book of Jude right now.”

          …. :-) ……

          So, when you preached verse 1, did you preach that Jude was writing this letter only to the “called”…..or that he was writing it to all men without exception….?

          I’m sorry. To quote Flip Wilson: “The Devil made me do it.”

          Peace, brother.

      Chris Tolbert

      I have a few honest questions.

      Are you saying that a pig is born a pig, but not counted as a pig until it can act like a pig? Unless it is a mentally-handicapped pig, whereby, even in acting like a pig it is still not counted as a pig?

      What is this age of accountability, as I’ve not been able to find reference to even the idea of it in Scripture? Perhaps one could point me to where it is taught.

      Are you saying that someone who is mentally-handicapped and does something that is clearly forbidden in Scripture is not a sinner because he/she doesn’t have the mental capacity to know that it is sin?

        Randall Cofield

        Chris,

        Just ain’t sensible, is it?

        Peace

    M. R. Williams

    Bill:

    It would seem to me that this is indeed the position they have to take.

M. R. Williams

Where are the authors of this document on the issue of imputed righteousness? In justification, is the righteousness of Christ imputed to us?

I have noticed the framers of this statement cited Romans 5:12 in the proof texts but omitted 5:18-19. And I have seen in recent posts a denial of the imputation of the righteousness of Christ in justification.

M. R. Williams

Trying carefully not to put words in others’ mouths. ‘Cause I don’t like it being done to me .

Here goes. Are the traditionalists saying faith causes the new birth OR are they saying faith is the prerequisite God requires in order to grant the new birth?

Randall Cofield

“I was preaching, not very long ago, at a place in Derbyshire, to a congregation, nearly all of whom were Methodists, and as I preached, they were crying out, “Hallelujah! Glory! Bless the Lord!.” They were full of excitement, until I went on to say in my sermon, “This brings me to the doctrine of Election.” There was no crying out of “Glory!” and “Hallelujah!” then. Instead, there was a great deal of shaking of the head, and a sort of telegraphing round the place, as though something dreadful was coming. Now, I thought, I must have their attention again, so I said, “You all believe in the doctrine of Election?” “No, we don’t, lad,” said one. “Yes, you do, and I am going to preach it to you, and make you cry ‘Hallelujah!’ over it.” I am certain they mistrusted my power to do that; so, turning a moment from the subject, I said,
“Is there any difference between you and the ungodly world?” “Ay! Ay! Ay!”
“Is there any difference between you and the drunkard, the harlot, the blasphemer?” “Ay! Ay! Ay!” Ay! there was a difference indeed.

“Well, now,” I said, “there is a great difference; who made it, then?” for, whoever made the difference, should have the glory of it.
“Did you make the difference?” “No, lad,” said one; and the rest all seemed to join in the chorus. “Who made the difference, then? Why, the Lord did it; and did you think it wrong for Him to make a difference between you and other men?”
“No, no,” they quickly said.
“Very well, then; if it was not wrong for God to make the difference, it was not wrong for Him to purpose to make it, and that is the doctrine of Election.”
Then they cried, “Hallelujah!” as I said they would.

The doctrine of Election is God’s purposing in His heart that He would make some men better than other men; that He would give to some men more grace than to other men; that some should come out and receive the mercy; that others, left to their own free will, should reject it; that some should gladly accept the invitations of mercy, while others, of their own accord, stubbornly refuse the mercy to which the whole world of mankind is invited. All men, by nature, refuse the invitations of the gospel. God, in the sovereignty of His grace, makes a difference by secretly inclining the hearts of some men, by the power of His Holy Spirit, to partake of His everlasting mercy in Christ Jesus. I am certain that, whether we are Calvinists or Arminians, if our hearts are right with God, we shall all adoringly testify: “We love Him, because He first loved us.” If that be not Election, I know not what it is.

SPURGEON

Don Allred

You seem far more enamored with the most recent version of the Baptist Faith and Message and the ‘Traditional…etc…statement’ than you are the Word of God or our historic roots, both theological and ecclesiological. You’re post had a very indepth exposition of y’all’s latest statement of faith.

Maybe I can pick up a copy of the, no doubt, soon to be published, Patrick’s Word Pictures on the latest semi-pelagian SBC statement of faith. Maybe we can do like some of the scribes of Christ’s day. Have commentaries on the commentaries of the ‘Traditional…Statement.”

Its fine to discuss theological differences. And even to have statements and affirmations that some or all of us affirm from time to time. However, Ascol has no power whatsoever in the SBC denominational structure like the consummate insiders pushing the latest doctrinal flavor of the month. I and all Calvinists in the SBC supported them in the inerrancy controversy and purge of the last 30 years or so. Even if we ranged from 5 point to 4 point to 1 point Calvinists, or maybe I should say 1/2 point — Security of the Believer — while most modern SBC New Non-Calvinists have abandoned the flipside of Sec. of Bel., the Perseverance of the Saints. With the current ratio of baptisms to actual church growth and discipleship, I can understand the desire by many to drop that nagging Perseverance doctrine–you know–1 John 2:19 and such–a lot of this theme is in Hebrews. We’re not saved by our works (James) but our works are proof of our genuine salvation. We’re not saved finally and eternally because we hang on and persevere, but we persevere because we’ve been changed, received a new nature, and God hangs onto us. If you think the tone of this post is a little sarcastic, I just went went with the spirit and tone introduced by your self-congratulatory post. Don’t wear yourselves patting yourselves on the back. Dr. Asc0l is a fine man of God who is trying to help many SBC members, theologians and pastors hold onto to the historic doctrines of the SBC and the Calvinistic or Particular Baptists from which we came. Just like many conservatives in America are trying to hang onto and get back to our nations Founding ideas and documents. No statement is worth a plug nickel when or if it strays from proper exegesis and interpretation of Scripture. There will always be this debate between the Sovereignty of God and the of man’s free will. Anyone who says there is no dynamic tension between what the Bible says about predestination, election, and man’s responsibility before God hasn’t studied the matter the matter enough. If the SBC wants to force those that hold to the theology of Spurgeon, Manly, Boyce, Broadus, etc., etc. out of the SBC, they can bring enough pressure to bear, that Founders or Ascol could not and would not. Baptist ‘Calvinists’ are actually soteriological, not ecclesiological Calvinists or Calvinistc in church polity. And almost all Baptists have refused to budge on baptism by immersion , not for regeneration but for a witness. I was first introduced to the Doctrines of Grace by SBC theologians I consulted for a paper on Sec. Bel. and later in sophomore Christian Doctrine class with our textbook by W.T. Conner, a 4 point Calvinist. I was amazed to learn that the vast majority of our early heads of our seminaries, and Presidents of the SBC like P.H. Mell, who served 18 years in that position, and so many others were 4 or 5 point Calvinists. I began to examine Scripture that most shallow preachers simply skim over that reinforced the sweep of God’s Sovereignty and Grace in the Bible, as well as man’s responsibility.

I hope the black-balling that is one of the dirty little secrets of SBC ministerial life when men of diminished character and integrity get too much influence and power. We have all seen DOM’s or state or national leaders sometimes act more like little regional bishops than servants.

One of the things that saved the SBC from total being swallowed by liberalism was the autonomy of the local church. That autonomy will once again be a bulwark against these kinds of power plays.

In our association, the largest church used to be the church pastored by a man who eventually served as SBC President. He was fairly accomodating of our church when it was one fourth the size of his. When our church caught up and passed his in size, he cut off all fellowship with our pastor, refused to attend or allow staff or members to attend the annual associational meeting when it was held at our church even though we attended meetings at his church. He is one of the big signers of the Tradition Statement. Oh how impressed I am. I see a few more on there like that. I see some who I believe are sincere. I see some who are always angling for more power and always will be. Not that there aren’t always a few bad apples in any movement. This is the most unncecessary stirring of a hornet’s nest I have ever seen. Only two of the Six CP seminaries are led by moderate Calvinists. The state Baptist Colleges are so liberal and humanistic, your most statement will be much more palatable to them than the Philadelphia or London Baptist Confessions or even the 1925 BFM. Your statement is much more touchy-feely than ours–much more in step with the spirit of the age. Cheer up–New Non-Calvinists. You have the power and that man-centered theology so popular these days. You keep Charles Finney–we’ll stick with Charles Spurgeon. Post yor list on the Web–have your comrades push the idea that churches should not call anyone as pastor, etc. if he won’t sign your new Statement. Baptists have always informally networked, fellowshipped and referred each other. This will go way beyond that because I how men like Vines and Welch think when it comes to power and manipulation. BTW, I voted for all the Conservatives from ’85 in Dallas to ’97 in New Orleans, including twice for Vines. My health began to break down about then so I haven’t been to a Convention since. I don’t lump all the signers in with those two, btw. You have truly produced a statement primarily by and for theological pygmies, compared to the SBC theologians of the 1800s that built our great theological institutions.

Jimmie B

In the many articles and responses it is evident that a great chasm has existed, and is now being forced into the open by the posting of the Ten Articles of Affirmation and Denial. Sad to say, there has been an awful lot of appeal to the numerous Baptist confessions over the last 400+ years; and very little appeal made to scripture. One issue seems to be near the front of the line in discussing the doctrine of original sin; and that issue seems to be how can a perfectly just and righteous God, declare one guilty and hold thme accountable for the actions of Adam? It seems Romans 5:12-14 clearly teaches that fact. “Wherefore as through one man (the) sin entered into the world, and (the) death through (the) sin; and so (the) death passed upon (eis, unto or into) all men, for (as much as) as all sinned.” Sinned here is in the aorist indicitave active; and it clearly is tied directly to the death in the preceding clause. What is the import of this? All men, the elect as well as the non-elect were created upright, and without sin in Adam; and since all were created by God in Adam, in the same condition as Adam was in before he ate of the tree. Therefore when Adam ate of the tree, we were in him, and his actions became my actions; and just as Adam died, all in Adam died. All in Adam were seperated from God the moment he ate of the tree; and all died spiritually; and he day of every persons natural death was forever fixed. V13-14 give us the explanation of this: (“For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed (reckoned or charged) where there is no law. Nevertheless (in spite of the fact there was no reckoning of personal sin), (the) death reigned (held sway, I am aware of Enoch being translated) from Adam to Moses, even over the ones not sinning after the likeness of Adam’s trangression, who is the figure of the One that was to come.” So we can say there were no innocent ones from Adam to Moses; except those like Noah, who found grace (not that he was searching for grace) in the eyes of the Lord; just as Abraham did in Genesis 15:1-6.

I believe we are failing to grasp the enormity of our sin, and Adam’s, when he ate of the tree; and since we were alive in Adam until he ate; God justly condemned all who were in Adam; which was every man, with the exception of Jesus Christ, for He is not the seed of the man (Adam), but the Seed of the Woman. My hope is that we will engage this issue from a strictly biblical perspective, and not from the BFM, LBC, WCF or any othe statement.
Respectfully,
Jimmie B

    Jimmie B

    I believe many of the Reformers may have inadvertently left the door open for the charge by some that a perfectly just and righteous God would be unjust if He imputed Adam’s sin to another, and held them guilty for that sin; and then elected some out of fallen humanity unto eternal salvation; while either passing by, or predestining, the remainder of humanity to eternal condmenation and punishment.

    It seems there is a serious mis-understanding of man’s condition as created in Adam. I believe that almost all in the Arminian, as well as the Calvinist camp’s, would agree that we were in Adam seminally: otherwise Paul’s statement in 1 Corinthians 15:22 makes no sense at all. And having been created in Adam, we were created in the same condition as Adam was when he was created; and Paul declares in Romans 5:12-14 “Wherefore as by (dia, through) one man (*the) sin, (definite article there and following) entered into the world, and (the) death by (dia, through) (the) sin; and so (the) deth passed (dierchomai, abroad, every where, through) upon (eis, into or unto) all men, for that (a relative pronoun, with antecedent being all men) all sinned (aorist indicative active): (For until law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed (reckoned or counted) where there is no law. Nevertheless (in spite of the fact there was no accounting of personal sin) (the) death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over the ones not sinning after the likeness of Adam’s transgresion, who is the figure of Him that was to come.”) Here we have Pauls’ statement that the sin of the one man brought the death, and the death passed upon, or spread, to all men in that all sinned.

    Now, my statement that I believe that many of the Reformer’s left the door open for a charge that God would be unjust in condemning another for the sin of one man; that charge falls when we see that the Church, the Body and Bride of Christ, was chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world; therefore the elect were in Christ before they were in Adam; they, along with all men, were created upright in Adam, but His bride committed spiritual adultery in Adam. It appears that this very well may be what is pictured in the actual biblical account of Hosea and Gomer, when God tells Hosea to go and take Gomer, a harlot, to be his wife.

    I am respectfully,
    Jimmie B.

Don Allred

Good stuff, Jimmy B. I apologize for the rambling, and even sometimes a little incoherency in my previous post, as well as some spelling and grammatical errors. It was the raw ‘first draft’ without the aid of the helpful features of a word processor. I meant to be a little edgy, but the sarcasm meter was pegged over too far. I blame it, in part, on my sin-nature, with which I was born, like all born in Adam, my passion for this issue and too much Mountain Dew & lack of sleep. (Also, occasional key-tapping with brain partially disengaged.)

Night, night, everyone…………………..

Jimmie B

Hi Don: In the Articles of Affirmation and Denials, as well as many of the comments in the posts; I believe one of the problems is that most everyone approaches the word pistis, translated faith, as if is a verb and not a noun. Every use of the word pistis in the NT is a noun, simply because the word is a noun and not a verb. Being a noun, we know it’s not used to describe a person, or place, therefore it has to be used to describe some thing. The question comes then; what is the thing the word describes, and the thing it describes is an ability to believe. Now Paul tells us in 2 Thessalonians 3:2 that “all men do not have faith.” Faith is a spiritual ability, not a natural ability, therefore one must have spiritual life before they have faith; and this is the new birth, a spiritual birth, John 3:3 “Except a man be born again (i.e. of the Spirit V 5-8), he cannot see (eido, oida, more than mere natural sight, mind, understand) the kingdomk of God.” V8 “The wind blows where it wills, and you hear the sound of it, but ccannot tell from where it comes, and where it goes: so (likewise, in like manner) is every one born of the Spirit.”

Jesus declares in John 6:63, “It is the Spirit that quickens (zoopoieo, makes alive); the fesh profits nothing: the words that I speak unto you, are spirit, and are life.” Paul tells us in Romans 1:16 that “the gospel is the pwoer of God unto salvation, unto all who are believing.” How does one believe? Faith gives the ability to believe; and faith is God’s gift that comes to His children by (ek, out of, source) His grace, Ephesians 2:8. Now while faith is a noun, there is the verb form 0f the word pistis, which is pisteuo; but here is I believe a very important fact concerning the verb pisteuo which is translated believe: the verb has it’s root in the noun, rather than the noun finding it’s root in the verb.

God’s grace is the message of the gospel; and the gospel is the message of what God has done, in and through His Son Jesus Christ, in saving His people from their sins; and any thing other than that message is not the gospel of God’s grace that the Lord Jesus Himself revealed to Paul during his time in the Arabian desert.

Now to the red herring issue that’s often raised; that God would not command men to do that which they have no ability to perform, i.e. belief in Christ, and repentance toward God. I believe this is the very reason Paul says in 1 Cor 1:18 that, “the preaching of the cross is to hem that are perishing foolishness, but to us which are saved (present passive middle participle, something that happend, or is happening to these) it is the power of God.”

When Jesus stood before the tomb of Lazarus and issued the command “Lazarus, come forth.” That was, from a human perspective, a foolish statement to a dead man; but inherent in the command was the power to beget life in Lazarus and he that was dead came forth; still bound in his grave clothes; but as alive as he would ever again be in this life.

I submit that believing is the normal response to having been brought to new, spiritual
life in Christ; just as responding to the command of Jesus to “ome forth”, was the normal response of Lazarus after having been brought to life.

I am respectfully,
Jimmie B.

Dr. Bruce McLaughlin

I have received inquiries about how to detect the concealed infiltration of Calvinism into a local church. Here are some tips. Infiltration is often accompanied by efforts to (1) undermine all discussion and teaching on this issue and thereby maintain a level of ignorance within congregations and particularly within pastor search committees, (2) subordinate the importance of this issue to church growth, music, other entertainment and family ministries, (3) argue that the seriousness of the conflict is contrived in the sense that a Traditional Baptist pastor is really no different than an evangelical Calvinist pastor who believes in unconditional election, limited atonement and irresistible grace, (4) utilize Seminaries and Bible Colleges to convert Christians to Calvinists, (5) avoid Articles of Faith that clarify the denominational position, (6) assert the simultaneous validity of both Calvinism and Traditional Baptist beliefs using a type of logic popular among intellectual elite called “positive tolerance,” (7) claim to be above the fray by just “believing in the Bible” and (8) assert the sovereignty of God and the free will of man are like two parallel lines that meet at infinity. Once the core conflicts of Calvinism/Traditional Baptist can no longer be suppressed by clever strategies, the proponents of Calvinism will generally maneuver from a tactical playbook that includes some of the following items.

•Avoid admitting you are a Calvinist.
•Avoid engaging your opponents with logic and reason.
•Erect a few “straw-man” arguments, attribute them to your opponents and then show their weaknesses. (A typical straw-man argument erected by Calvinists is that Traditional Baptists believe in salvation by works because the act of free will acceptance is a “work.” But Scripture never portrays a choice to receive a gift from God as a “work.”)
•Never advocate the full face of Calvinism; instead, gradually weave theological threads into the preaching and teaching of the church.
•Assert that Calvinist men and women are hard working persons of the highest integrity whose motives are beyond reproach.
•Suggest that your opponents are divisive, narrow minded, mean spirited and instruments of discord.
•Assert the intellectual, academic and spiritual superiority of Calvinist theologians and spokespersons.
•Extol the magnificence of the Reformation and the Reformers.
•Teach that peace and unity are more important than some antiquated concept of truth.

The opponents of Calvinism need only three items.

•Calvinism is not supported by Scripture taken in its entirety.
•Calvinism is not supported by logic and reason.
•Calvinism is blasphemy at its core.

    t.r.

    This post comes across as evil to the core. You seem to desire to be enemies with Christian brothers, Calvinists, who believe in the doctrines of grace. Very sad.

Jimmie B

BM: I have read more than one of your posts in which you make numerous remarks calling into question the honesty and integrity of those who hold what is often referred to as a “Calvinistic” view of scripture. In your latest attempt to refute that doctrine, you make three statements at the end of your article: 1) Calvinism is not supported by Scripture taken in its entirety. 2) Calvinism is not supported by logic and reason. 3) Calvinism is blasphemy at its core.

In response to statement # 1: I find it incredible that you would make such a statement in a public forum, and offer not one book, letter, chapter or verse of scripture to support that statement. It appears that you believe, that you and you alone, or at least only you and those who agree with you, have a view of scripture in its entirety. I confess that I certaintly do have have an understanding of scripture in its entirety; and in spite of my disagreement with your article; I really do not think that you believe that either. I only make this observation to point out the danger in making
such general statements about what millions of God’s children have believed over the last 6,000 years or more.

In response to statement # 2: I would ask this question; Since when has man’s reason or logic become a yardstick by which we measure the truth of Scripture? That logic has been disavowed repeatedly by the Church over her history.

Finally to your statement # 3: Calvinism is at its core blasphemy. Are you contending that all the men and women who have held this view over the history of the Church were blasphemers? Men such as Agustine, Savanarola, Wycliff, Hus, John Owen, John Gill, John Knox, George Whitfield, Jonathon Edwards, Thomas Goodwin, Charles Spurgeon, Arthur Pink, Martyn Lloyd Jones, James Montgomery Boyce; and we could go on and name scores if not hundreds more and ask you again if you are prepared to call all these and more blasphemers. If so; then based on my admittedly limited understanding of scripture I am left with no other recourse but to conclude that you, yourself, are not one of God’s children. I hope and pray that you would truly say; “I am not willing to state that all these were blasphemers.” I would be willing at any time to engage you in a biblical searching out of these things; not for the purpose of winning a theological debate, but for the purpose of both you and I, coming to a clearer, more complete understanding of the glorious truths God has laid down in His Holy Word.

I am respectfully,
Jimmie Bates

authorative in a doctrinal discussion

Jimmie Bates

My statement should read: I certainly confess that I do not have an understanding of scripture in it’s entirety.

I am respectfully
Jimmie B

Dr. Bruce McLaughlin

(1) The papers posted on this website in support of the 10 soteriological statements are filled with Biblical text refuting Calvinism.
(2) The role of logic and reason in the Christian faith is discussed at http://www.christianapologetic.org .
(3) The Calvinists in your list were the theological progeny of a pitiless, ruthless, merciless and brutal man who, you are asking me to believe, was raised up from the dust bin of history to resurrect and extrapolate a theology dormant for eleven centuries, a theology not found in the Christian Church for the first 400 years after Christ. Check out the dozens of web sites on John Calvin’s evil and see if you would want John Calvin to be your pastor. Here are some sample sites:

http://www.evangelicaloutreach.org/michael-servetus.htm

http://www.probertencyclopaedia.com/CX_JOHN_CALVIN.HTM

http://one-evil.org/people/people_16c_Calvin.htm

http://freeebooks.itz4u.com/_Ebooks/Doctrines/Calvinism.pdf

Jimmie Bates

I would remind you that if you are referring to John Calvin in your remarks, several of the men named in my post preceded John Calvin by many years, including Augustine who lived a thousand years before Calvin. Savanarola, John Hus, John Wycliff, together with scores of others lived and taught and held these things to be true, most importantly it certainly appears that Jesus, Paul and his fellow apostles likewise taught the same. I would challenge you to examine the language in Ephesians 1:11, especially the word Paul uses that is translated with the phrase, “obtained an inheritance”, give me your understanding of this verse.

I am respectfully,
Jimmie Bates

Jimmie Bates

I did not see your response to my question at to whether you were prepared to say that all these men were blasphemers. I do not think there can be blasphemy without there being a blasphemer; and if that’s true then not only these men, but all the men and women within the SBC, and in the greater church at large who believe and espouse these doctrines are blasphemers as well. I find that to be an incredible statement from a pastor or teacher in the SBC. I prayerfully await your reply.
JB

t.r.

Of all the articles written by the neo-trads (that I’ve read any way) this on by Dr. Rick Patrick comes across as the most immature and juvenile.

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