Discussing Article One of “A Statement of the Traditional Southern Baptist Understanding of God’s Plan of Salvation”

June 1, 2012

The posting of ”A Statement of the Traditional Southern Baptist Understanding of the Plan of Salvation,” authored by Eric Hankins and others, has predictably drawn strong interest. It has been referenced in a recent Baptist Press article, multiple blog posts, and many dozens of posts in Facebook and other social media. SBC Today had over 10,000 visits the last couple of days, the comments thread on this statement are now over 500 comments, and over 220 signees (including some key leaders from every level of Southern Baptist life). Because it has drawn such a high readership, we will leave it up for several more days.

The discussion comments thread has offered a good opportunity for discussing this document, but with over 500 comments, it has become so big that it is unwieldy and difficult to follow. Therefore, we will archive the current posts (you can still read them here), and we will try to provide a little more structure for the continuing discussion. We will focus the discussion on each article of the statement, one by one, allowing comments on each article of the statement in order day by day. So, we will have discussion of Article 1 today and Saturday, Article 2 Sunday, Article 3 Monday, etc. You’ll be able to continue discussing these articles individually, but the main discussion will focus on a new article of the statement each day.

If you would like to discuss the document as a whole, you can continue making comments in the current discussion thread here. Otherwise, please confine your comments to the article being discussed that day, with its pair of affirmations and denials.

Just a reminder about the format of the statement for both advocates and critics of the statement:  keep in mind that each of the affirmations and denials in the articles complement each other. This statement mirrors in many ways the format and subject matter of the Together for the Gospel statement signed and/or affirmed by some Southern Baptist leaders who embrace Reformed views, and that of the Chicago Statement on Inerrancy affirmed by most conservative evangelicals. In this format, then, it would be inappropriate to either affirm or critique a point in an affirmation if it is denied in the denial paired with that affirmation. The affirmation and denial stand together in this format, so it would be unhelpful in the discussion to divide them.

Whichever side you find yourself on these issues, thank you for your comments on this statement. It is better to address issues that we face than to pretend that they don’t exist. Your contribution to the discussion helps us to understand your position more clearly. Hopefully, this discussion will aid us in correcting mistaken perceptions about each other, and move us toward finding more constructive paths of working more cooperatively into the future.

The Editors of SBC Today

Click this link to see the full statement of “A Statement of the Traditional Southern Baptist Understanding of God’s Plan of Salvation”
Click this link to see the list of signers of “A Statement of the Traditional Southern Baptist Understanding of God’s Plan of Salvation”
Email to join the movement and sign “A Statement of the Traditional Southern Baptist Understanding of God’s Plan of Salvation” as follows: 

Name, Position, Organization/Church, City, State

For example: John Doe, Pastor, First Baptist Church, Anytown, LA or
Jane Doe, member, First Baptist Church, Anytown, LA or
Jamie Doe, Professor, Some Seminary, Anytown, LA

Read A Commentary on Article 1 by Dr. David Hankins

Discussion of Article One of “A Statement of the Traditional Southern Baptist Understanding of God’s Plan of Salvation”

Note: Today’s comments should focus on the affirmation and denial in Article 1. If you would like to comment on the statement as a whole, you may do so here. Or, if you would like to address another specific article, we’ll be focusing on each of the ten articles day by day in the next ten days, and you can make your comments at that time. Again, please limit your comments here to Article 1.

Article One: The Gospel

We affirm that the Gospel is the good news that God has made a way of salvation through the life, death, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ for any person. This is in keeping with God’s desire for every person to be saved.

We deny that only a select few are capable of responding to the Gospel while the rest are predestined to an eternity in hell.

Genesis 3:15; Psalm 2:1-12; Ezekiel 18:23, 32; Luke 19.10; Luke 24:45-49; John 1:1-18, 3:16; Romans 1:1-6, 5:8; 8:34; 2 Corinthians 5:17-21; Galatians 4:4-7; Colossians 1:21-23; 1 Timothy 2:3-4; Hebrews 1:1-3; 4:14-16; 2 Peter 3:9


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Jason Fisher

I am not going to argue the theology of this article online. I will simply present a few quotes from a founding (i.e. “traditional”) theologian of the SBC .

The title of Article 1 is the Gospel, but to be more theologically correct they are affirming their understanding of Atonement and denying Reprobation. James P. Boyce’s Abstract of Systematic Theology classifies nine systems of Atonement. Boyce was a founder and the first president of Southern Seminary and organized the theological education of SBC ministers for much of the 19th century. He would classify the statements above on Atonement as Arminian.

“A sixth theory of the Atonement is that of the Arminians, who hold that Christ died, and that for sin; but only in the sense that makes it consistent for God to offer salvation to men on the ground of evangelical obedience, and not of perfect legal obedience. This theory teaches a General Atonement without any application of it on the part of God. Connected with the doctrine of sufficient grace to each man, it supposes that the individual does, or does not exercise faith, and obedience, and thus secures eternal life or loses it.”

Boyce then presents five arguments against the Arminian view of Atonement. After presenting a Luthern view and the modified Calvinist view of Fuller, he presents and argues for the Calvinist view.

The Calvinistic theory of the atonement is that in the sufferings and death of Christ, he incurred the penalty of the sins of those whose substitute he was, so that he made a real satisfaction to the justice of God for the law which they had broken. On this account, God now pardons all their sins, and being fully reconciled to them, his electing love flows out freely towards them.

It should be noted that Boyce quotes John Calvin only once in his entire 400 page Systematic Theology textbook. Calvinism is not the study of the man Calvin’s theology, it a label of a systematic theology that has been historically applied by theologians.

Regarding the denial of Reprobation in Article 1, Boyce’s writes:

“God, in eternity, when he elected some, did likewise not elect others; that as resulting from this non-election, but not as efficiently caused by it, he passes by these in the bestowment of the special favours shown to the Elect, and, as in like manner yet further resulting, condemns men, because of sin to everlasting destruction, and while they are in the state of sin and condemnation, he effects or permits the hardening of their heart, so that his truth is not appreciated, but actually rejected.”

Online forums are not a good medium for discussing theology, but it is a good medium for highlighting facts.

Tim Rogers


Let me remind you that the BF&M is the only convention-wide confession. Abstracts have never been approved by the convention. The reason? They are the theology of one man, not the entire convention. The Abstracts is the historical confessional that SBTS was founded upon. The SBC adopted, in 1925, a confessional that all Southern Baptists could affirm. As any simple research will reveal the BF&M was a move away from the Calvinism of SBTS that was so rampant around the turn of the century. The committee formed and headed up by E.Y. Mullins used the New Hampshire confession as their basis. As you probably already know, that confession is less Calvinistic than the Philadelphia confession.

I say all of this to point you back to the use of the term “traditional”. This rise in Calvinism is something that has come about within the last 10 years. I believe one would have to admit that when we placed men in leadership we never asked about their soteriology. Why? They never force fed it to the convention. Had Dr. Al Mohler written in the Christian Index about his 5 points of Calvinism and that in order for inerrancy to survive Southern Baptists would have to adopt the doctrine of Calvin, I can assure you he would have never been offered the helm of SBTS.



    You said: “The SBC adopted, in 1925, a confessional that all Southern Baptists could affirm.”

    So, when the BFM 1925 states “whereby his posterity inherit a nature corrupt and in bondage to sin, are under condemnation, and as soon as they are capable of moral action, become actual transgressors.” you acknowledge that all Southern Baptists affirmed the imputation of Adam’s guilt?

    Traditional Southern Baptists and Southern Baptist confessional statements affirmed, not denied, the imputation of Adam’s guilt to all his posterity prior to actual transgression. For Hankins and others to claim otherwise is historically inaccurate and revisionistic.

    I will not be commenting any further on the matter. Let those who have eyes see.

      Jim G.


      You are confusing original sin and original guilt. The bolded phrase in your post denotes original sin, rather than original guilt. If original guilt were being discussed, the statement would read something like this: “Adam’s posterity are under condemnation the moment they are born, because they are guilty (liable for full punishment, including both physical and eternal death) for Adam’s sin.” That is why Augustine (the great hero to so many SBC Calvinists) insisted on infant baptism. That baptism supplied the grace necessary to remove the effects of original guilt (thus the infant was no longer automatically hell-bound).

      The “traditional” statement affirms original sin and denies original guilt. Original sin is common to all branches of orthodox Christianity. Original guilt is only common to Augustine and his offspring (Roman Catholicism, Reformation Protestantism).

      Moreover, I think if we hold to original guilt, we had better begin baptizing babies, because if original guilt is true, then there is no hope for a dying infant to ever be saved.

      Jim G.


        ‘So, when the BFM 1925 states “whereby his posterity inherit a nature corrupt and in bondage to sin, are under condemnation, and as soon as they are capable of moral action, become actual transgressors.” you acknowledge that all Southern Baptists affirmed the imputation of Adam’s guilt?’;

        Joshua, I am curious how you read “imputed guilt” into that. Filters are powerful things. Espescially ST filters.

        It really makes it come alive how deep the divide is when we have words on a page that people read so differently as to come away with such a major difference as imputed guilt/imputed sin. It certainly gives me pause.

        I have been somewhat curious why some Calvinists in the SBC who believe in imputed guilt also believe in believer’s baptism yet not infant baptism.



          I agree the word “guilt” is not there. But these words are:

          “nature corrupt and in bondage to sin, are under condemnation…”

          If the newborn is not guilty, then what is he or she relative to that corrupt nature and that bondage to sin and that condemnation?

          Why would a 12 hour baby be under condemnation if not guilty?

          I assume you agree that a 12 our old baby has not personally committed a sin, right?

          Now of course you can just say that you disagree with the BFM 1925 and that the 12 day old baby is innocent. But how do you get there?




          I meant to also reference my reply to Jim G re your musing about “…imputed guilt also believe in believer’s baptism yet not infant baptism.”



        Jim G,

        I was planning to hold off on the original sn/original guilt issue until article 2. But since it has been brought up and you’ve commented, I’ll say a little something here.

        I agree that there is a distinction between the two. And unless I misread article 2, it does not affirm original guilt, that is, does not affirm Adam’s sin bringing guilt to his posterity. But more on that later.

        I just want to say here that Reformed theologians can quite consistently hold to original guilt (Adam’s sin bringing guilt on his posterity) as well of course to original sin and still not require a baptismal regeneration kind of infant baptism. Most Reformed Presbyterians I know of baptize infants and hold to original guilt but deny that the baptism saves the child or that it ever could save anyone.

        Presbyterians and quite a few Baptists in history hold that infants dying in infancy are regenerated (not born regenerated but “become” regenerated) and immediately are in the presence of Jesus upon death.

        This was Spurgeon’s view and is also the view of Baptist John MacArthur.

        That is my view as well. i.e. the baptism, if administered by a paedo church, does nothing toward satisfying for the infant’s Adamic guilt. And if the child is not baptixed, as in a credo church, the Adamic guilt is ealt with in the same way as the paedo child…regeneration by God.



          Man I can’t type…

          Should have read:

          “And if the child is not baptized, as in a credo church, the Adamic guilt is dealt with in the same way as the paedo child…regeneration by God.”

          Jim G.

          Hi Les,

          I appreciate the comments. I see your point, but I still don’t think most Baptists really hold to original guilt (SBC or otherwise). I happen to hold to more of an “original death” view articulated by Jonathan Pritchett on another thread here. I think there are some real christological problems with the Augustinian view of original sin/death, but thanks for the constructive comments.

          Jim G.



        How is there condemnation if guilt is not imputed?

        The 1925 BFM declares that every person is born condemned, even before actual transgression. That is imputed guilt, brother.


          “If the newborn is not guilty, then what is he or she relative to that corrupt nature and that bondage to sin and that condemnation?

          Why would a 12 hour baby be under condemnation if not guilty?

          I assume you agree that a 12 our old baby has not personally committed a sin, right?

          Now of course you can just say that you disagree with the BFM 1925 and that the 12 day old baby is innocent. But how do you get there?”

          A minute old baby is “dying”. Born to die. Born in a corrupted body that dies and born into a corrupted world. How is that not bondage to sin?
          We are all “Born to die” as a “consequence” of Adam’s sin. Not “guilt” for it.

          Now, you can do the Calvinistic YRR debate tactic and tell me I did not answer your question. :o)


          Well Lydia, since I’m a grandfather I don’t think I qualify as a YRR. Still, you didn’t answer. I’ll repeat,

          “Why would a 12 hour baby be under condemnation if not guilty?”


          Les, OR and Never Rested

          Jim G.

          Hi Joshua,

          This very debate is why I don’t like the wording. This has nothing to do with you personally. It is 1600 years old. I don’t think the Augustinian categories are best. He redefined things for us, and sometimes I goof up and read it through his lens.

          I much prefer the idea of original death. It does not have the baggage that original sin and original guilt do.

          Jim G.


          Jim G,

          “This very debate is why I don’t like the wording. ”

          I understand that and can appreciate it. But I am really trying to understand your and many others’ view.

          Whatever the words, do you believe that babies are guilty when conceived and later born justly deserving God’s condemnation?

          If not, what state are they in? Are they innocent? Not playing gotcha here. Really trying to understand.

          Thanks brother.


          Jim G.

          Hi Les,

          I understand you aren’t trying to play games. Never thought you were.

          I think this is an incredibly complex theological issue with a lot of nuance. Bear with me, because it is 11 PM and I should be in bed. i’ll try to clarify tomorrow if this seems muddled.

          I am really trying hard, as a constructive theologian, to get out of the Augustinian categories that force us into the types of arguments that become Calvinism vs. non-Calvinism.

          To really grasp the full ramifications of Christian anthropology, we must navigate between two truths. First, we are created in the image of God, and that we are loved by him as the crowning achievement of his creation. Second, humanity has fallen from that pinnacle on which it was placed and is now bound to the law of sin and death. We can all agree to that, I hope.

          Because of the sin of our first parents, all humanity came under the bondage of the law of sin and death. In Adam, sin brought forth death (separation from the source of life – God) and death worked in him to bring forth more sin and therefore death and the vicious cycle continued in him until he physically died centuries later.

          As for his offspring, they/we (with one notable exception – Jesus) are born into death. We are, by nature of our birth (and I really do not know how/if this is physically transmitted), born as offspring of sinful Adam, and that law of sin and death is passed to us. As in Adam, so in us, death brings forth sin, and sin deepens death, and so on. This is the plight of the human condition. We are born into it, and thus cannot initiate any escape from it. This is the view (not in its entirety, of course) that I think the Bible describes.

          Now, the Augustinian tradition has a different take. Augustine, because of his view of the real presence of humanity in Adam (the famous mistranslation of Romans 5:12 in Latin) and acting as a good law-and-order Roman, overemphasized the legal/status nature of human sinfulness, saying that humanity is a mass of perdition. His chief anthropological category became one of legal standing rather than the plight mentioned above. Such a category leads us to ask the question of “justly deserving” of God’s condemnation. I really do not think this is the primary question we should be asking. In the words of Eastwood in “Unforgiven,” “Deserve’s got nothin’ to do with it.” It does, but not as much as we might think.

          Now, to answer your questions directly, given all of this as preamble (all of these questions exclude Jesus, as he is the God-man, but apply to all the rest of us):

          Are babies conceived guilty? No. See below.

          Are babies guilty for the sin of Adam? No. A baby has committed no sin, and is therefore not guilty of any sin.

          Are babies subject to the law of sin and death? Yes. This means that they will sin as soon as they are able. Death brings forth sin, which leads to a deepened death, and more sin, and so on.

          Are babies innocent? Not in the way we think of innocent. They are not guilty of any specific sin, but are still born “broken” (subject to the law of sin and death) and under the sentence of death. Outside of divine intervention, this law is inescapable (hence Pelagianism and semi-Pelagianism are eliminated).

          Is God just in punishing them? (I don’t like the term “punish” because we see it in Augustinian and therefore – my opinion – flawed categories) No. Let me qualify. In our eyes, maybe, but not in his. We westerners see the sin problem almost exclusively as crime and punishment, while I think God sees it more as both sickness and healing and the enemy to be conquered. If I am to take the Scriptures seriously (and at face value) which state that he desires none to perish and that he is not pleased with the death of the wicked and that his hesed endures forever, then I have to think that those who have not consciously done anything evil will not fall under his condemnation.

          I hope I have let you in on where I am coming from. We have an even more fundamental disagreement than this, namely in God’s providence. I imagine you believe that everything that occurs is ordained by God. I do not believe that such an idea is true. But I think if we can understand each other without bickering, then we can display the love of God toward one another despite these differences. I know this is long, but I have done my best. ask away. I’m sleepy.

          Jim G.


          Thanks Jim. I scanned it and since I’m falling asleep at my computer. There’s a lot there. Good writing. I’ll be back sometime tomorrow after my charity golf tourney. Blessings to you.


    dave kerr

    the trustees who elected Al Mohler are still around…we should ask them if they asked Mohler about his soteriology.

    While we are at it we should discuss the fact that many who are in favor of this document seem to have omniscience. They know for a certain what the majority of Southern Baptist believe…they seem to know for a certainty what would happened in a possible world which Mohler had printed an article. You guys have any stock tips you could share??

    Steve Doyle

    Tim, why will you not engage the text of the BFM which contradicts the “traditionalist” statement?

Rick Patrick

I appreciate Jason’s desire to focus on Boyce’s Systematic Theology and to talk about Calvinism. We are most comfortable addressing that with which we are most familiar. However, unlike Jason, I believe if online forums can discuss facts, they can also discuss theology. As I understand the purpose of this post, we are meant to address the actual article itself.

I do agree with Jason that, in discussing the article entitled “The Gospel,” the major theological topics include a general understanding of the atonement (in the affirmation section) and a discussion of reprobation (in the denial section).

It seems to me this is a very good place to start. Consistent with our Great Commission to share the gospel with every person, we affirm that God wants every person saved. On the flip side of the coin, the denial of reprobation means that there is no person that God does not want saved or who lies outside of His boundless redemptive grace.

Why not start a theological statement with something upon which we should all be able to agree? Spreading the gospel to all men everywhere seems perfect to me.

Interestingly, over the past few days of discussion, I have not so much heard Calvinists attack this statement, as I have heard them claim that it does not address the real view of any Calvinists in the Southern Baptist Convention. Frankly, I find it less than compelling that there is not even ONE double predestinarian in our convention.

This points to another issue I have with discussing soteriology only through the lens of Calvinism–it is a very slippery term for one to grasp. As soon as you address what some Calvinists believe — and yes, my friends, there are SOME who really do believe in reprobation — then your Calvinist opponent simply slides past the charge, claiming a different strain, like influenza developing immunity from a certain flu shot.

It would be easier to engage in theological issues if Calvinists would simply stand still in one place long enough to discuss what they believe, with no sliding and no charges of misrepresentation. Frankly, it is easy to misrepresent a system with so many variants, and it is frustrating, when once you have engaged one of these Calvinistic views, simply to be told, “I’m sorry, but you are not arguing against my variant. You don’t understand Calvinism at all.”

Jason Fisher

I never quoted from or mentioned the Abstract of Principles, which was voted on in 1858 as part of the original charter for Southern by the SBC convention in their annual meeting. The text I quoted was the theology textbook for pastors in the SBC.

I hope that we all as Southern Baptists can work together regardless of our soteriology. I just ask that a word other than “traditionalist” be used to classify a theological position. Theology has long been the queen of sciences, and like all science there is a language to the science and the study of God. There is nothing new under the sun or in these articles. Declare proudly the theology you are espousing. Don’t hide behind a label that is not historically accurate or at the least doesn\’t look far enough back historically.

traditional – (1) of or pertaining to tradition. (2) handed down by tradition. (3) in accordance with tradition.

tradition – (1) the handing down of statements, beliefs, legends, customs, information, etc., from generation to generation, especially by word of mouth or by practice. (2) something that is handed down. (3) a long-established or inherited way of thinking or acting.

The founders of the SBC are by any of these Webster definitions a primary source of SBC traditions.

dave kerr

Jason seems to be correct that the convention did approve the use of the Abstract as the confessional document for SBTS in 1858…of course this does not make it a \”convention wide\” confession..but we can\’t say that the Abstract has never been approved by a convention….,,PTID325566_CHID717904_CIID1992708,00.html

Mike Davis

First of all, I believe that a point-by-point discussion should start with the Preamble; in fact, with the first paragraph, specifically with these words, which I believe most SBC Calvinists would not only disagree with, but have repeatedly disclaimed long before this Statement was written:

The precipitating issue for this statement is the rise of a movement called “New Calvinism” among Southern Baptists. This movement is committed to advancing in the churches an exclusively Calvinistic understanding of salvation, characterized by an aggressive insistence on the “Doctrines of Grace” (“TULIP”), and to the goal of making Calvinism the central Southern Baptist position on God’s plan of salvation

This is not my goal, nor, as far as I know, is it the goal of anyone I know personally. Also, while Eric Hankins may see a link between the affirmations and denials of each Article, this does not in any way compel one to accept both the affirming statement and the denial. I have no problem with the affirmation in Article One. The denial, however, makes two points which must be addressed separately:

We deny that only a select few are capable of responding to the Gospel…

This is an inaccurate depiction of the Calvinist position, which states that noone has the capacity to respond to the gospel apart from God’s grace. By the way, that is also the Arminian position and the position of anyone who believes in the doctrine of Total Depravity, and I think most Southern Baptists do hold to that doctrine. A denial of Total Depravity is a move toward a Pelagian or semi-Pelagian belief.

…while the rest are predestined to an eternity in hell.

To quote a famous debater from my younger days, “There you go again.” SBC Calvinists repeatedly state we do not hold to double-predestination; many non-Calvinists even confirm we do not hold to it, yet Eric goes after this straw man right off the bat. I think it is unfortunate that this clause was included in the Statement since it does not represent the mainstream SBC Calvinist position.

    Jim G.

    Hi Keith,

    “While the rest are predestined to an eternity in hell”

    This washes out to be true whether one is a single- or a double-predestinarian. Even if one is a single predestinarian (i.e. denies the decree to reprobate), those not positively elected to salvation are still predestined to hell. So it may not be as carefully worded as you (or I) would like, but it is not a straw man. Those who are not positively elected to salvation (whether passed over in single predestination or actively decreed in double predestination) are predestined to hell, either by omission or by commission. So it all boils down to the same thing.

    Jim G.

      Mike Davis

      Hi Jim,

      I don\’t think it is an issue of \”careful wording\” because I think in crafting a statement of this sort Eric has chosen his words very carefully and deliberately. It is a straw-man argument because it implies that SBC Calvinists are arguing in favor of double-predestination, despite repeated assurances to the contrary. I could extend your argument to accuse anyone who does not hold to Open Theism of believing in double-predestination since the one who will not believe is destined for judgment. But the real issue is that the Article One denial suggests that the debate is about double-predestination when it is not.

        Jim G.

        Hi Mike,

        I called you Keith by mistake. I apologize.

        I know most Calvinists are single-predestinarian – SBC included. I’m just saying that whether you start single or double, the end result (where people are in eternity) is the same.

        But a positive decree of reprobation (double pre) is a lot harder to defend from Scripture than single pre.

        Jim G.


        If some people are chosen by God, and others are not… and if some are predestined to be saved, and others are not…and if some people are irresistibly called, and others are not….and God is sovereign; then there is no real choice for the lost. AND, they are predestined for HEll. That does seem to me to be the logical conclusion of Calvinism.


          Steve Doyle

          Vol… “logic” is the problem. God is transcendent, His decrees transcend our logic and He openly says in His Word that the gospel confounds the wisdom of the wise. Who are we O creatures to question the Maker? Does the pot question the potter? The very questions you are asking were being asked of Paul by concerned Roman church goers. So he writes Romans 9. And gives us NO LOGICAL answer. Only believe that God has purposes in election that stand no matter what.

          But while we’re on it…let’s travel down logic lane. If God can see down the corridor of time and knows who will and who will not freely chose Him, and if men can only choose Him if they are drawn…why doesn’t God do more to draw those who will reject. And if He has done all He can…is He impotent? Surly He can do more. You mean He can’t overcome that man who continues to resist Him no matter what He does? Surely not. Is that a God worth serving?

          Josh Shelton

          David, there is a choice, especially by the lost. Those who aren’t drawn irresistibly are destined for wrath specifically because of their nature, which governs their choices.

          The lost’s choice, their real choice, is their worst enemy and in the end will ultimately damn them. The lost don’t need more choices, they need the effectual grace that creates within them a new nature.

          Josh S.


“Why would a 12 hour baby be under condemnation if not guilty?”

My understanding is that death is one of the consequences of the fall. Death IS condemnation considering the first couple were not created to die. I think it is a BIG consequence and quite “condemning” as a consequence of their sin.

I also think word meanings can change over time depending on the filter. Piper and Mahaney tried to do this a few years ago with their sermons: “Scream of the Damned” where they said Jesus was “damned” on the cross. The word parsing on blogs back then (was it 07 or 09 at Resolve?) was incredible. They were using “damned” interchangably with cursed. Many people immediately bought into it. Only a few really took them on over it. Only one reasonably known Reformed pastor who blogged took them on as far as I know. Most of the Reformed blogging world defended it…. yet their parsing of both word meanings was incredible to me. It was really my first foray into the redefining of word meanings in the Reformed world so we really need to make sure we are on the same page.

I think the word “condemnation” has the same type of definition problem. It implies “guilt” to some when I believe scripture teaches that death IS condemnation as a consequence of sin. For example, I inherit the consequences of Adam’s sin. And even though I will have a billion sins myself but I did not eat any fruit that God said not to eat so I am not “guilty” of “Adam and Eve’s” specific sin the minute I am born. I am born with the “consequences” of their sin (I will die and I live on a corrupted earth in a corrupted body) and I have my own sins I will commit and I stand condemned for them unless I repent and believe. (Jesus’ first “sermon” so to speak)

I don’t think we are ever going to agree. There seems to be a implication that if we do not think we are “guilty” for Adam’s sin upon birth that this makes us heretics.

I totally agree with Jim and others that some of the parsing on this is based on all the baggage from Augustine.

“Presbyterians and quite a few Baptists in history hold that infants dying in infancy are regenerated (not born regenerated but “become” regenerated) and immediately are in the presence of Jesus upon death”

So, it is the same belief as padeobaptists just without the baptism.

When I asked about baptism for babies becasue of this “imputed guilt”, I am told that your view is also Spurgeon’s and McArthur’s view. That is fine but it does nothing for me. I am no scholar but I do believe the Holy Spirit can guide us and illuminate truth to peasants like me who are seeking to learn and understand. I think arguments from history are sometimes spurious. Never has anyone before us lived in such a time with so many excellent resources from language to archeology at their fingertips to study and understand. Can we learn from their writings, traditions, etc? yes and I enjoy reading them. But we actually have more resources and even archeological discoveries than they had. And one thing I have come to really believe is that we must seek to read and understand scripture through the eyes of that particular historical period. (Instead of Calvin’s view)



    I mean no disrespect, but that is a whole lot of dancing around the obvious.

    Are you able to answer: Are babies innocent until they grow up enough to actually sin?

    Also, when the scripture says “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” and,

    None is righteous, no, not one;
    11 no one understands;
    no one seeks for God.

    Does “all” include everyone? Babies? And does “None is righteous” really mean “none?” Except babies in your view?

    Thanks Lydia. As I said to Jim G, I’m truly trying to understand your and apparently a number of other SB views on this.


      Jim G.

      Hi Les,

      I intend no disrespect in this, but your tradition does not take the “all” of 1 Timothy 2:4 and 2 Peter 3:9 to mean “all without qualification” does it? If you can say that God does not really want all to be saved, we can say the “all” of Romans 3:23 does not lead to original guilt. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.

      Jim G.



        I was going to make that very point. Is there an exegetical way for you to take “none is righteous” and “all have sinned” to leave anyone out?

        Are you prepared to say that “some” are righteous?

        No disrespect taken.

          Jim G.

          Hi Les,

          I am prepared to say that some are righteous. Jesus was/is righteous. Abraham was righteous. Chapter 4 is all about his righteousness. Job was righteous. I say this because the Bible says it. They all sought after God. They all followed hard after him in the midst of suffering. In saying this, I know it is traditionally theologically problematic. That is why we have to leave the Augustinian categories we have been dealt.

          The language of Romans 3 is figurative. It is largely made up of quotations of Hebrew poetry, which is almost always figurative.

          And, to add to the discussion, I think I have good warrant to say that the language is figurative because to deny it is to deny the righteousness of three men whom the Bible declares to be righteous. On the other hand, Augustine\’s denial of \”all\” in 1 Timothy 2:4 is based on his observation that some babies die unbaptized. I believe I have the firmer ground.

          Jim G.


“I mean no disrespect, but that is a whole lot of dancing around the obvious.”

I certainly did not think I was “dancing” around anything. Sorry that was communicated to you.

“Are you able to answer: Are babies innocent until they grow up enough to actually sin?”

I am curious what sin they are guilty of in the womb or right out of it. Adam’s eating of the fruit? If the mother also carries the sin gene or icky goo, or whatever it is, how did a Holy God live in Mary’s womb? If that baby lives to age of moral accountability they WILL sin. What about an adult who was born mentally impaired?

“Also, when the scripture says “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” and,”

We all fall short of the Glory of God even at birth because we are born into corrupted bodies that die. That is just for starters. :o)

“None is righteous, no, not one;
11 no one understands;
no one seeks for God.”

I get very suspicious of proof texting early on in Romans when it is a culminating argument Paul is making. It is a very typical Calvin proof text as I well know because I was a Calvinist and dined out on this one all the time.

As to as to the first part of the passage some would say that Cornelius was ‘seeking’ God with his worship of Yahweh so God sent Peter to Him to tell him about Messiah. There are other examples.

Paul is quoting the Psalms and showing that both Greek and Jew are equally lost. I think his point is made in verse 9 where he is trying to make them see they are both under same condemnation for sin. I can imagine the Jews thought they had a leg up on the Gentiles…my guess based on context and situation. So he quotes Pslam 14 to them which starts like this talking about a fool:

The fool says in his heart,
“There is no God.”
They are corrupt, their deeds are vile;
there is no one who does good.

But then Psalm 3:3 says they “turned away”

2 The LORD looks down from heaven
on all mankind
to see if there are any who understand,
any who seek God.
3 All have turned away, all have become corrupt;
there is no one who does good,
not even one.

How can they “turn away” from something they never sought or knew about?

I really think context is key here. I take into consideration that Pslams is poetry, the anger of David (do you say imprecatory prayers?) and teaching the sinfulness of men using a Hebrew Idiom to really get the point across. That is common in Psalms, no?. Do you believe these evildoers were “devouring people like bread”? Cannibals? Funny sometimes what we take literal and what we don’t.

There are other scriptures that tell us of righteous people like Job of which it is said in scripture: This man was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil” (Job 1:1)

So this idea that NO one seeks God and no one is righteous I think is hyperbole used in Psalms and repeated by Paul to shame anyone who thinks they are not as sinful as the Gentiles. I just get very suspicious of proof texting for something this important.

There is more to it, obviously, but that is all I have time for tonight. Anyway that is basically my understanding of that Romans 3 proof text.

    Debbie Kaufman

    The wages of sin was death, both physical and spiritual death. It is why natural man no longer seeks God or wants God and does not understand the things of God apart from the Holy Spirit, who also is God.

      Debbie Kaufman

      I must admit I am a bit confused how one can link original sin to infant baptism as some have attempted to do here. The scripture is where I read of original sin.

      Romans 5:14-21, 6:23, Ephesians 2:1-3, Genesis 2:17, Proverbs 22:15, Genesis 8:21, Psalm 14:2&3, Job 15:14, Jeremiah 17:9, Ecclesiastics 9:3,

        Debbie Kaufman

        Proof texting? Really? I don’t see that when I read the entire chapter. It says what it says.

    Jim G.

    Hi Lydia,

    You are correct in interpreting some of the words of Romans 3 as (I believe) it was intended – figuratively. If we interpret it in a woodenly literal fashion, that is, if there are absolutely no people who are righteous and who seek after God, then what do we do with Jesus? Abraham (whose righteousness is the subject of the next chapter, Romans 4)? Job? If we eliminate the possibility of figurative language (which we should not because it is a quotation of Hebrew poetry, which is full of imagery), we set up the Bible to contradict itself. We certainly do not want that.

    Jim G.

Debbie Kaufman

On Job 1, when we have Christ Jesus as those in the Old Testament did, salvation was the same, belief in Christ except that it was future for them, not past, we are righteous in God’s site. We can be righteous outwardly but it is because of the inward, therefore Job 1 is more a text concerning Job with Christ Jesus and not something good inside of himself. All Christians are righteous due to Christ. This has nothing to do with original sin Lydia.

Debbie Kaufman

It’s not the act of sin that we are sinners, including babies. We are born with a sinful nature as a result of Adam’s sin. We do not have to do the act of sin to be considered sinners, we are born in sin. I don’t know how many times this has to be repeated Lydia.

We need a Savior from the time of birth.

    Debbie Kaufman

    I think to be able to understand Original Sin, one has to understand God’s holiness. His standards are not our standards. They are much, much higher requiring perfection and beyond. This is why He gave His Son to die. It’s why Jesus had to die. Just look at the rigid sacrifices and laws the people had to endure in the Old Testament. It is why people charge God with being cruel and unjust when it is just the fact that God is Holy and even God’s holiness is beyond our human understanding.



      Does this part of the document go against the BFM2K? Does the section on the sinfulness of man not go along with the BFM2K?



    Thanks for your input, Debbie.


      And Debbie, I think there is a miscommunication. We were debating “imputed guilt” not “original sin”. I do not see any disagreement that we are all born sinners. Maybe I missed it?

Jay Beerley

I haven’t read through these comments, just let me offer this:

I consider it very disingenuous to just open up a comment thread on each of these articles for people to talk about. How about offering up some integrity and have THE WRITERS discuss each of these articles and the hermeneutics they used to arrive at their conclusions?!

I’m sorry, but there’s no other word for that than cowardly.

Jeff White

Regarding the AFFIRMATION of Artile I: The Gospel is SUFFICIENT for all (i.e., everyone without exception), but it is EFFICIENT only for the elect.

Regarding the DENIAL of Article I: No one is capable by themselves, or in and of themselves, to respond to the Gospel. Everyone is born dead is sin (Eph. 2:1-3). What can a dead man do? Nothing but stink! Everyone is born a slave to sin (Rom. 6:6). Our mind, will, and emotions are by nature in bodage to sin. They are not FREE before salvation. Only those whom the Jesus sets “free” are free (John 8:30-32). God must open a person’s heart and enable them to respond at the moment of salvation, and produce the response of saving faith and true repentance in and through them (Acts 16:14). Faith and repentance must be a gift of God’s grace in order for them to be acceptable to God, otherwise, they would be the product of human effort, and thus, a human work, and therefore, God would have to reject them since no one is saved by his own human works.

Dale Pugh

I quote a traditionalist here:
“This ancient document is the most excellent epitome of the things most surely believed among us. It is not issued as an authoritative rule or code of faith, whereby you may be fettered, but as a means of edification in righteousness. It is an excellent, though not inspired, expression of the teaching of those Holy Scriptures by which all confessions are to be measured. We hold to the humbling truths of God’s sovereign grace in the salvation of lost sinners. Salvation is through Christ alone and by faith alone.”
C. H. Spurgeon–Spurgeon’s introduction to the Confession of 1689
I’m interested in knowing exactly when the BF&M (Any of them. Take your pick.) became “confessions” and not “statements”? The difference being that a confession defines essential qualities of doctrine (what I must believe) while a statement describes qualities of doctrine (these things guide my beliefs). Never in my years as a Southern Baptist (Baptist college and seminary educated) have I ever been told, as Mohler in his rebuttal to this document states, “…we must recognize and affirm together that we have already stated where Southern Baptists stand on the great doctrines of our faith. The Baptist Faith & Message is our confession of faith, and it binds us all together on common ground. The BF&M does not state doctrines comprehensively, but it defines our necessary consensus. Every Southern Baptist is free to believe more than the confession affirms, but never less.” In other words, The BF&M is defining what I am to believe. Should I believe that there are articles or statements within the BF&M have inspirational qualities but not binding qualities, then I am outside the faith. A heretic. Really? Even Spurgeon didn’t go that far.
Since when has the BF&M had the intent of binding me to any particular doctrinal position by it’s definitions? Is that the intent of this “traditional statement?” Then I reject them both. However, if the intent is to edify and describe the faith I hold dear, then I prayerfully and thoughtfully embrace parts of both while at the same time questioning and willingly debating some other parts.
Mohler warns against “tribalism.” Tribalism has been with us for almost 2000 years (1 Corinthians is a prime example of early tribalism). Can I still work with those with whom I disagree on certain doctrinal matters? I certainly hope so, or I stand alone. Do I have to sign their confession or statement or whatever you may wish to call it? I certainly hope not, because I won’t.
One reason I didn’t pursue a career within our SBC educational institutions is because I knew in my own conscience that I couldn’t sign the BF&M. I will not be contractually bound to any man’s interpretation of what I should or shouldn’t believe. Not because I necessarily disagree with those statements, but because of the inordinate theological/doctrinal weight bestowed on them.
It’s interesting to read the names of the signers of this document. Many of them were part of the “conservative resurgence.” What’s happened here? Do they see something in the “new Calvinism” that they deem dangerous? How is it that they came to the conclusion that this statement was necessary? I’m not part of the inner circle privy to the answers, but it would be interesting for those of us who are “everyday” Southern Baptists to hear what the “upper echelon” was thinking when they came up with this.
My apologies to the administrators for not speaking directly to Article 1 and making a general comment about the Statement as a whole.

Greg Coleman

Seems to me that the original discussion was to be had regarding the definition of The Gospel.

The definition in the Statement falls short.

I see no Substitution, Sacrifice or Satisfaction.

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