Baptists baptize. Such a self-evident statement might be considered incontestable if not for the curious trend described in this essay. If you will pardon the expression, Southern Baptists are watering down our doctrine of baptism. Today, a number of Southern Baptist Churches are accepting Christians into full membership who have never been scripturally baptized by the mode of immersion. In doing so, they are creating a class of sprinkled Southern Baptists—a development presenting us all with a host of denominationally defining implications.
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.
It is common to hear the LGBT community say the Bible does not condemn homosexuality. This is especially prevalent among those who claim to be Christians. “Nowhere does Jesus address homosexuality” is a constant refrain. Of course, nowhere does Jesus say anything about mainlining heroin either.
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.