By Dr. Jerry Vines, President of Jerry Vines Ministries,
Pastor Emeritus, First Baptist Church, Jacksonville, FL, member of the Baptist Faith and Message 2000 Committee, former President of the Southern Baptist Convention
I was interested to read Dr. Mohler’s response to “A Statement of the Traditional Southern Baptist Understanding of God’s Plan of Salvation,” which statement I gladly signed. His response was thoughtful, kind and forthright. I consider Dr. Mohler a friend. It has been my privilege to fellowship with him on many occasions through the years. I had him preach often at the Pastors’ Conference in Jacksonville, and he used to have me speak at Southern. In the same spirit he has demonstrated, permit me to offer a response.
When I was sent the statement primarily authored by Dr. Eric Hankins, assisted by other notable Southern Baptist theologians, I was pleased with it. So much so, that I gladly added my name to it and emailed a number of my friends suggesting they might also like to be an original signatory. Indeed, many of them did sign. The growing list of signatories includes past SBC presidents, current SBC seminary presidents, denominational ministers, pastors and lay people. This is an impressive list and should not be taken lightly, as Dr. Mohler has not.
In that email I stated that I was in general agreement with the statement and would not attempt to nuance its content. As I view it, this statement is intended to start a much needed debate and, like the BF&M, is not intended to be the final word on all things soteriological. I strongly disagree with Dr. Mohler’s assertion that “some of the statements appear to affirm semi-Pelagian understandings.” I wonder if Dr. Mohler thinks some of us aren’t theologically astute enough to recognize semi-Pelagianism when we see it! My response is not intended to engage this, however. I understand that the primary authors of the statement will submit a response to Dr. Mohler’s blog. So, in a spirit of brotherhood and a humble search for truth, let the discussion begin.