New Calvinism presents us with a duty and an opportunity to more carefully express what is generally believed by Southern Baptists about salvation. It is no longer helpful to identify ourselves by how many points of convergence we have with Calvinism. While we are not insisting that every Southern Baptist affirm the soteriological statement below in order to have a place in the Southern Baptist family, we are asserting that the vast majority of Southern Baptists are not Calvinists and that they do not want Calvinism to become the standard view in Southern Baptist life. We believe it is time to move beyond Calvinism as a reference point for Baptist soteriology.
To be a consistent Calvinist, a person must believe that the Bible teaches God limits His redemptive love toward His creation and that limited love is more reflective of God being the sum of perfect love than God extending His salvational love to all of His creation. Of course, the perennial problem with the Calvinist’s perspective is the explicit claims of Scripture to the contrary.
Obviously, none of these uses of the word “dead” in Scripture imply “total inability.” Quite to the contrary, we often find that after people are described as being “dead” in one of the ways listed above, they are then invited in the following context to turn from death and practice life. So in passages like James 2:14-26 and Revelation 3:1-6, people are called to reverse their state of death by energizing their faith or repenting and returning to the way they used to live.
Since the Calvinist’s analogy can only demonstrate God is the sole creator of life, about which we all agree, and it neither demonstrates nor even suggests that faith results from spiritual birth, I for one believe we should put it to rest. To allow the perpetuation of such a disparate example is to grant Calvinism an undeserved proof every time since it is an undeniable foregone conclusion that faith did not precede the first birth since it did not exist even as a hypothetical possibility.
Kerfoot’s major contribution to his discipline was to reissue in revised form Boyce’s Abstract Although he lauded Boyce as “the greatest leader that Southern Baptists have ever had,” Kerfoot did in fact include, always in small print or footnotes, several points on which he differed from his mentor.