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.
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.
This list explores 25 of the most influential Southern Baptists in history who have clearly disaffirmed Calvinism. Some leaders highly deserving of this recognition, such as W. A. Criswell and Lottie Moon, are believed to fit within our Traditionalist wing. However, with some amount of soteriological evidence on both sides, we have chosen to leave them off. Many other worthy names could have been listed. Like the heroes mentioned in Hebrews 11, this is a Roll Call of Faith for SBC Traditionalists.
Dr. Patterson shared with the messengers in June that on rare occasions, he has made exceptions for a few non-Christian students as president of Criswell College, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, and at his current institution. He estimated having done so four or five times in his nearly 40 years of academic administration. His hope with each exception was a desire to see these individuals understand the good news of Jesus Christ.