Is the Traditional Statement Semi-Pelagian? / Adam Harwood, Ph.D.

April 1, 2014

by Adam Harwood, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Theology
McFarland Chair of Theology
Director, Baptist Center for Theology and Ministry
Editor, Journal for Baptist Theology and Ministry
New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary

Shedding a false charge can be difficult. Consider as an example McCarthyism in the 1950s. A person publicly accused of belonging to the Communist Party had difficulty shaking the accusation. “You’re a Communist. Prove you’re not!” How does one disprove such an accusation? Those who affirm “A Statement of the Traditional Southern Baptist Understanding of God’s Plan of Salvation” (TS) find themselves in a similar situation. Claims have been made that the TS is, or appears to be, semi-Pelagian. This chapter seeks to disprove the charge in four ways. First, historical and theological definitions of semi-Pelagianism will be provided and will be shown to be contradicted by claims in the TS. Second, it will be demonstrated that the theological claims made at the Second Council of Orange (529) fail to indict the TS as unbiblical. Third, the historical-theological context of fifth-century semi-Pelagianism suggests that the historical debate has no connection to the current conversation among Southern Baptists regarding the TS. Fourth, errors will be exposed in an early assessment of the TS.

Historical and Theological Definitions of Semi-Pelagianism
Which are Contradicted by the Traditional Statement
According to The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, semi-Pelagianism “maintained that the first steps towards the Christian life were ordinarily taken by the human will and that grace supervened only later.”[1]

The TS explicitly argues against this view. Consider this line from Article 2: “While no one is even remotely capable of achieving salvation through his own effort, no sinner is saved apart from a free response to the Holy Spirit’s drawing through the Gospel.” Article 2 is clear that sinners are saved through a free response to the Holy Spirit’s drawing through the Gospel. This drawing of the Holy Spirit described in the TS occurs prior to the response of the sinner. In this way, the TS prohibits the semi-Pelagian understanding of a sinner taking the first steps toward the Christian life.

The Evangelical Dictionary of Theology explains that the term semi-Pelagian first appeared in 1577 to describe the fifth-century view which rejected Pelagian theology and respected Augustine but rejected some of the implications of his views. Fifth-century semi-Pelagians “affirmed that the unaided will performed the initial act of faith.” The “pivotal issue” in semi-Pelagian theology is “the priority of the human will over the grace of God in the initial work of salvation.”[2] Article 4 of the TS contradicts this view, “We affirm that grace is God’s generous decision to provide salvation for any person by taking all of the initiative in providing atonement.” The TS states that God takes “all of the initiative in providing atonement.” The TS in no way prioritizes “the human will over the grace of God in the initial work of salvation.”

Lewis and Demarest’s Integrative Theology explains, “The semi-Pelagians claimed that sinners make the first move toward salvation by choosing to repent and believe.” Also, “The semi- Pelagian scheme of salvation thus may be described by the statement ‘I started to come, and God helped me.’” The idea that sinners initiate their salvation apart from God’s grace is ruled out by the words of the TS. Consider again Article 2, “While no one is even remotely capable of achieving salvation through his own effort, no sinner is saved apart from a free response to the Holy Spirit’s drawing through the Gospel.”[3]  Also, this sentence from Article 4 bears repeating, “We affirm that grace is God’s generous decision to provide salvation for any person by taking all of the initiative in providing atonement.” The TS is clear that sinners do not “make the first move toward salvation.” Rather, God takes all of the initiative in providing atonement. Article 8 explains that “God’s gracious call to salvation” is made “by the Holy Spirit through the Gospel.” Sinners are saved by responding to the drawing of the Holy Spirit through the gospel.

One more definition, this one from a Reformed perspective, will be provided in order to reinforce the argument that there is a broad consensus on the term semi-Pelagianism. The Westminster Dictionary of Christian Theology defines semi-Pelagianism as follows: “A term which has been used to describe several theories which were thought to imply that the first movement towards God is made by human efforts unaided by grace.”[4] This definition is consistent with those already provided and is contradicted by statements in the TS as demonstrated above. The following chart illustrates our findings:

       
 

Definitions of Semi-Pelagianism

It “maintained that the first steps towards the Christian life were ordinarily taken by the human will and that grace supervened only later.”
The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church

 

It “affirmed that the unaided will performed the initial act of faith” and “the priority of the human will over the grace of God in the initial work of salvation.”
Evangelical Dictionary of Theology

 

“The semi-Pelagians claimed that sinners make the first move toward salvation by choosing to repent and believe.” Also, “The semi-Pelagian scheme of salvation thus may be described by the statement ‘I started to come, and God helped me.’”
Integrative Theology

 

“A term which has been used to describe several theories which were thought to imply that the first movement towards God is made by human efforts unaided by grace.”
The Westminster Dictionary of Christian Theology

 

 

Semi-Pelagianism Contradicted by the Traditional Statement

“While no one is even remotely capable of achieving salvation through his own effort, no sinner is saved apart from a free response to the Holy Spirit’s drawing through the Gospel.”
– Article 2

 

“We affirm that grace is God’s generous decision to provide salvation for any person by taking all of the initiative in providing atonement.”
– Article 4

 

“God’s gracious call to salvation” is made “by the Holy Spirit through the Gospel.”
– Article 8

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Decisions of the Second Council of Orange
Which Fail to Indict the TS as Unbiblical
Immediately after the release of the TS, there were online accusations that the TS affirmed semi-Pelagian views. Some of those online essays included appeals to the Second Council of Orange (529). The appeal to this council to support the accusation of semi-Pelagianism will be addressed in two ways.[5] First, the decisions from the council will be compared to the TS. Second, the thesis of an historical study of the fifth-century controversy will be considered. In both cases, it will be demonstrated that the decisions of the Second Council of Orange fail to indict the TS as unbiblical.

The decisions of the council
compared to the Traditional Statement
At the outset, it is important to understand that the Second Council of Orange is not authoritative for Southern Baptists. The decisions of the council addressed differences between western and eastern theology on the exercise of the will in the context of monastic life (see the next section in this chapter) one millennia before the birth of the Baptist tradition. Even if the decisions at Orange were considered binding for Southern Baptists, then the question arises as to which decisions were violated by the TS and in what way? The decisions were finalized as a list of canons.[6]

In comparing the Canons of Orange to the TS, it will be demonstrated that there is both agreement and contradictions between the two documents. Further, the contradictions between the two documents are theological differences which result from the fidelity of the TS to the BFM. Below are five replies to this charge of semi-Pelagianism based on the Canons of Orange.

1.) Southern Baptists reject baptismal regeneration (salvation via water baptism). But baptismal regeneration was affirmed by this council. Canon 5 refers to “the regeneration of holy baptism.” Also, Canon 13 states: “The freedom of will that was destroyed in the first man can be restored only by the grace of baptism.” The Canons of Orange are not consistent with the BFM. For that reason alone, the council should be regarded as non-binding for Southern Baptists.

2.) Canon 4 requires an admission of the working of the Holy Spirit. Article 2 of the TS states: “(W)e deny that any sinner is saved apart from a free response to the Holy Spirit’s drawing through the Gospel.” That sentence clearly affirms the work of the Holy Spirit, who draws the sinner through the Gospel.

3.) Canon 5 denies that faith “belongs to us by nature and not by a gift of grace.” The TS makes no claim that faith belongs to us by nature. Rather, Article 4 states that by God’s grace, we are united “to Christ through the Holy Spirit by faith.” This means that a person’s union with Christ is by God’s grace (a gift) and through the Holy Spirit. These claims remove any idea that faith could “belong to us by nature.”

4.) Canon 6 affirms that God’s mercy is a gift of God’s grace. So does the TS. Consider Article 4 of the TS, “We affirm that grace is God’s generous decision to provide salvation for any person by taking all of the initiative in providing atonement.” Article 4 of the TS is clear that salvation is a gift of God’s grace and He takes the initiative in providing atonement.

5.) Canon 6 states, “(I)t is by the infusion and inspiration of the Holy Spirit within us that we have the faith, the will, or the strength to do all these things as we ought.” Canon 7 emphasizes this by stating that no one can be saved by “assent to the preaching of the gospel through our natural powers without the illumination and inspiration of the Holy Spirit.” The ministry of the Holy Spirit must be acknowledged in one’s understanding of a sinner’s regeneration. The TS repeatedly refers to the ministry of the Holy Spirit in bringing a sinner to repentance and faith in Christ. Consider these claims in the TS:

Article 2, “(W)e deny that any sinner is saved apart from a free response to the Holy Spirit’s drawing through the Gospel.”

Article 4, “We affirm that grace is God’s generous decision to provide salvation… in freely offering the Gospel in the power of the Holy Spirit, and in uniting the believer to Christ through the Holy Spirit by faith.”

Article 5, “We affirm that any person who responds to the Gospel with repentance and faith is born again through the power of the Holy Spirit. He is a new creation in Christ and enters, at the moment he believes, into eternal life.”

Article 8, The call to salvation is made “by the Holy Spirit through the Gospel.”

The TS clearly acknowledges the necessity of the ministry of the Holy Spirit in the work of God to bring a sinner from death to life. It is unclear how a charge could be sustained that the TS teaches otherwise.

These comparisons demonstrate that it is neither helpful nor accurate to charge the TS with semi-Pelagianism based on the Canons of Orange. Next, the historical-theological context of fifth-century semi-Pelagianism will be considered to see if its views are consistent with the TS.*

(Other headings in the article)

The historical-theological context of fifth-century semi-Pelagianism
Conclusion Regarding the Second Council of Orange
An Early Assessment of the Traditional Statement
Beginning with a false premise leads to a wrong conclusion
Wrongly linking the TS with people who deny an important claim which the TS affirms
Wrongly regarding the non-use of an Arminian phrase as a denial of divine initiative


[1]The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, 3rd ed., s. v. “Semipelagianism.”
[2]Richard Kyle, “Semi-Pelagianism,” Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, 2d ed., ed. Walter A. Elwell (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2001), 1089–90.
[3]Gordon R. Lewis and Bruce A. Demarest, Integrative Theology (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996), 3:20–21.
[4]E.J. Yarnold, “Semi-pelagianism,” The Westminster Dictionary of Christian Theology, ed. Alan Richardson and John Bowden (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1983), 536.
[5]See, as examples, Jeph, “My Response to ‘A Statement of the Traditional Southern Baptist Under standing of God’s Plan of Salvation,’” June 2, 2012, http://righteousbutnotyet.blogspot.com/2012/06/ response-to-statement-of-traditional.html; and Joe Carter, “The FAQ’s: Southern Baptists, Calvinists, and God’s Plan of Salvation,” June 6, 2012, http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/tgc/2012/06/06/the- faqs-southern-baptists-calvinism-and-gods-plan-of-salvation/, who cites Chris Roberts, “Is the Statement Semi-Pelagian?” June 5, 2012, http://sbcvoices.com/is-the-statement-semi-pelagian-by-chris-roberts/ (accessed December 19, 2013).
[6]The complete list of canons will not be listed in this chapter but can be accessed here: http://www. reformed.org/documents/index.html?mainframe=http://www.reformed.org/documents/canons_of_orange.html (accessed September 8, 2012).
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*Click HERE to read the rest of this post by downloading the FREE, 2-volume
NOBTS Journal for Baptist Theology & Ministry.
SBCToday reprinted with permission the above excerpt.

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Mitchell

Dr. Harwood, is the Trad view similar to the Arminian doctrine prevenient grace?

    Adam Harwood

    Mitchell,

    Thanks for your note. In answer to your question: yes and no.

    No, because most “Traditional” Southern Baptists do not presuppose *total inability* as do Arminians and Calvinists. We affirm the total sinfulness of every person, but that is different than affirming total inability.

    Yes, because we presuppose God’s grace. Consider Article 4 of the TS on “The Grace of God”:

    “We affirm that grace is God’s generous
    decision to provide salvation for any
    person  by taking  all of the initiative
    in providing atonement, in freely
    offering the Gospel in the power of
    the Holy Spirit, and in uniting the
    believer to Christ  through the Holy
    Spirit by faith.

    We deny that grace negates the
    necessity of a free response of faith
    or that it cannot be resisted. We deny
    that the response of faith is in any
    way a meritorious work that earns
    salvation.”

    Blessings,
    Adam

Mitchell

Thank you Dr. Harwood. I have always thought there were only two options regarding soteriology, Calvinism & Arminianism. So I find the TS and the Trad views very interesting.

    Norm Miller

    Mitchell: Below is a portion of Dr. Harwood’s essay that we did not post, but is available for free in the downloadable theological journal from NOBTS — a journal I recommend for helping anyone gain a biblical understanding of where the Trad Statement and Calvinism differ. Also included below is a significant footnote w/another resource listed RE your inquiry.
    We appreciate your interest. — Norm
    ===========================================
    Olson moves from a false premise to a wrong conclusion in order to charge the TS with semi- Pelagianism. First, he wrongly assumes that Southern Baptists are limited to only two biblical options for addressing the issues in Article 2: Calvinism and Arminianism. Next, Olson notes the failure in Article 2 to include two theological concepts which are used in debates between Calvinists and Arminians. Arminians acknowledge the bondage of the will and counter it with prevenient grace. Because Article 2 fails to acknowledge both the problem (bondage of the will) and the solution (prevenient grace), Article 2 should be regarded as neither Calvinist nor Arminian. Olson’s error is that he regards the only other option to be semi-Pelagianism. Must one choose between Arminianism or Calvinism in order to affirm Christian views? According to Olson, yes.

    FOOTNOTE:
    9For more on this view, see David Allen, Ken Keathley, et al, “Neither Calvinists nor Arminians but Baptists.” White Paper 36 (September 2010), http://www.baptistcenter.net/papers/Neither_Calvinists_ Nor_Arminians_But_Baptists.pdf (accessed September 3, 2012); and Eric Hankins, “Beyond Calvinism and Arminianism: Toward a Baptist Soteriology” Journal for Baptist Theology & Ministry 8.1 (Spring 2011): 87–100, available at http://baptistcenter.net/journals/JBTM_8-1_Spring_2011.pdf#page=90 (accessed December 19, 2013).

    wingedfooted1

    “I have always thought there were only two options regarding soteriology, Calvinism & Arminianism.”

    Mitchell,

    And that is precisely what both parties would have you to believe.

    But…alas.

Chris

Dr. Hardwood,

Thank you for your careful and thought provoking article. A few questions: It appears that God’s initial acts of grace (I.e. providing atonement & drawing of the Spirit) are primarily external events, am I understanding this correctly? If the atonement was provided for all equally and the Spirit draws all equally what is the distinguishing factor in those who respond in repentance over against those who reject the same drawing? In your mind, what does it mean for the Spirit to draw a sinner? Is this ultimately/definitely effectual or only possibly/potentially effectual? If the will of sinful men is free (I.e. “libertarian” a la Braxton Hunter) what does the Spirit actually do if anything upon man’s will? Why does he need the drawing of the Spirit if his will is free to choose? Thanks in advance for your consideration and may the Lord continue to bless to you.

    Johnathan Pritchett

    Nowhere does the Scripture refer to the grace of God as an “irresistible response generator” (Calvinism) or a “prevenient response enabler” (Arminianism). As Dr. Hankins pointed out in an essay here at SBC Today a while ago, those are ideas designed to bolster Augustine, not Paul.

    I may need to put quotes on that last bit as that may be word for word what he said.

    I am happy to call anything “grace” in the theological sense that God does on behalf of sinners. However, technically, grace language in Scripture is the socio-economic language of Greco-Roman patron-client reciprocity, and not the language of theological metaphysics that “grace” has been commonly used to mean in systematic circles.

    The necessary pre-conversion work of God (which again, I am happy to call “grace” in the theological sense rather than the Biblical sense, so long as it is understood that we aren’t talking about what the Bible means by grace) is the convicting work of the Holy Spirit. In Acts, we find this done in the hearts of people, not the will.

    When we start making these things all the same, dialog becomes muddled and Biblical categories become too intertwined with philosophical ones.

    This is why the Traditional Statement contains many articles that carefully parses things out separately. Certainly it contains theology and philosophy, all statements of this sort do, but this statement keeps things in proper categories rather than mixing them up.

    That has confused many of our Calvinist and Arminian brothers who have, by habit and theological tradition, jumbled things up together when they ought not be.

      Norm Miller

      Johnathan: Your comment is informative and enlightening. You have reminded us of that which is indispensable to exegesis/exposition, and that is to discover what biblical terms and concepts meant to ithe original writers and audiences. Otherwise, we can/will/do superimpose our own cultural/social/moral/ethical window-dressing inappropriately in a way that actually obscures what God intended to communicate through His inspiration (breathing-out) process of Scripture. — Norm

    Adam Harwood

    Chris,

    Thanks for your note.

    Your first question asks if the drawing of the Holy Spirit is an external act. I am unsure what that would mean for this to be an external act.

    Here are some brief replies to your questions:

    I affirm that Jesus died for the sins of the world, meaning all people. Also, Jesus draws all men to be saved.(John 12:32).

    Why do only *some* people repent and believe in Jesus? Those people choose to repent and believe in Jesus rather than to continue rejecting the conviction and drawing of God’s Spirit.

    I reject the view that people are regenerated *before* they believe in Jesus. Rather, people are born again *when and because* they believe in Jesus. I reject the general/special distinction offered by Calvinist brothers to explain why some people are saved and others are not saved. I also reject the view that God has two wills regarding the salvation of all people, one revealed in the Scripture and another which is hidden, or secret (which is contrary to the revealed will).

    Apart from the drawing of God’s Spirit, man will not choose to repent and believe in Jesus.

    Thanks for your questions; I hope this helps you gain a better understanding of our perspective.

    Blessings, brother.
    Adam

      Adam Harwood

      At one point, my answer above was too narrow. (I assumed that the question applied only to those who heard the gospel, but that is not clear in my answer.)

      To refine my reply:

      People who come to the end of their life and have not received Christ either: 1) did not hear the message of the gospel or 2) heard the message of the gospel and rejected it.

      God loves all people, desires all people to be saved, and Christ died for the sins of all people. Because of the work of the Holy Spirit, anyone who hears the gospel can be saved.

      In Him,
      Adam

      Chris

      Dr. Harwood,

      Thanks for your answers, they are helpful and informative indeed. Grace be with you brother.

      Steve

      When you say apart from Gods spirit drawing, man will not choose to repent and believe in Jesus. Isn’t this still the same as Calvinist election? For when the person in a remote village jungle never hears the Gospel and then dies, does this not act in the same manner of election in Calvinism? I see that you are promoting a free will choice, but for those whom God never draws, because they never heard the Gospel, how can they make a free will choice? Isn’t this just the same elect vs reprobate problem? The TS seems to be great in forwarding the ideas of freewill and mans responsiblity in a place where everyone has access to the Gospel, but it doesn’t seem as clear cut to those who don’t have access to the Gospel. In what way and what verses do we bring to the table that God is making an offer of salvation to those who can’t hear the Gospel?

David R. Brumbelow

Dr. Harwood,
Great article.

It seems to me a number of individuals owe an apology to Traditionalists (or non-Calvinists, Moderate Calvinists) for falsely accusing them concerning the Traditional Statement on Salvation and semi-Pelagianism.
David R. Brumbelow

    Johnathan Pritchett

    David, I count Al Mohler among them. He is not a foolish man, and is savvy enough to know thy with his influence and prominence, it is a tiny step for him to say “the Traditional Statement appears semi-Pelagian” and the Internet Calvinist peanut galley to elevate that to “the Traditionalists ARE Semi-Pelagian.”

    That is exactly what happened, and even if he did not intend it to, he is still smart enough to know that would be the outcome.

    Is he responsible for much of what they said on the Internet? The only reasonable answer is “yes” because he gave permission to press into service that language in this in-house dialog in the SBC, and the peanut gallery ran with it. The idea that people of influence like that only says things in a vacuum without fallout involving others is absurd.

    He owes an apology. It is the Internet equivalent of saying “bomb” on an airplane, and when there ain’t a bomb, no one gets off free without so much as an apology, if not even more consequence.

    I have no problem saying as much to his face should I ever get the chance.

      Bob Hadley

      Johnathan,

      I had that chance and did so.

      Robert

      Hello Johnathan,

      I disrespect Al Mohler for his intentional “poisoning of the well” by his remarks about Traditionalists appearing to be semi-Pelagian. If Mohler were just some ordinary blogger it would be one thing. But “to whom much is given much is required” which I always take to mean that the standards and expectations for leaders are higher than others. Mohler being president of a seminary is in a position to influence a lot of people for good or ill in Southern Baptist circles.

      As you correctly observe Johnathan:

      “David, I count Al Mohler among them. He is not a foolish man, and is savvy enough to know thy with his influence and prominence, it is a tiny step for him to say “the Traditional Statement appears semi-Pelagian” and the Internet Calvinist peanut galley to elevate that to “the Traditionalists ARE Semi-Pelagian.”

      Mohler has a giant library and is theologically informed, so he knew exactly what he was doing by his remarks. As you note Johnathan, it is absurd to believe he says things in a vacuum:

      “The idea that people of influence like that only says things in a vacuum without fallout involving others is absurd.”

      And your request is absolutely justified and you provide an apt analogy:

      “He owes an apology. It is the Internet equivalent of saying “bomb” on an airplane, and when there ain’t a bomb, no one gets off free without so much as an apology, if not even more consequence.”

      Fact is, Mohler yelled there was a “bomb” on the Southern Baptist airplane!

      In reality there is no bomb as the Traditionalists hold valid and biblical positions and represent a lot of people in the Southern Baptist convention that are not Calvinists.

      My prediction is that no apology will be forthcoming from Mohler.

      You see he got exactly what he wanted: Traditionalists pegged with an unwholesome charge of heresy that will keep them busy explaining why they are not heretics. While Mohler goes on with his plan of gaining more and more control of the Southern Baptist convention by Calvinists.

      You might ask: and how is he doing so?

      Allow me to quote a sharp friend of mine: if you want to control some organization, get control of the leaders.

      Mohler’s plan which is actually very intelligent, is also quite transparent: gain greater and greater control of the convention through training more and more Calvinist prospective pastors at the seminary he controls. These Calvinistically trained pastors will take over local churches in the future and as my friend puts it so well: controlling those leadership positions will lead to further control and influence of the convention.

      If you were Mohler and you wanted to “influence” the convention to become more Calvinistic: why waste time with a few individuals who have or will have very little influence?

      When you can train and indoctrinate the future leaders of local churches by training and indoctrination of their future pastors?

      Of course the backlash will be that others who are not Calvinists will try the same strategy only at different seminaries and in different contexts. And the result will be a very divided convention.

      And who exactly profits from a weakened and divided organization?

      Robert

      wingedfooted1

      Johnathan,

      Al Mohler wasn’t the only one dropping “bombs”. Roger Olson, a prominent arminian, was quick to suggest that the Traditional Statement reeked of semi-pelagianism as well.

      God bless.

Tim G

Dr. Harwood,
As one of the signers of the TS I thank you for your careful and gracious defense of the statement against false accusations and labels. You have shown with clarity that indeed the label of semi-Pelagian does not fit the TS statement.

Well done!

Ron F. Hale

Dr. Harwood,
As one of the early signers of the TS, I want to thank you for attentive scholarship over the last few years in presenting a theological defense for this historic document. In particular, thank you for your work in presenting a very clear theological understanding of semi-Pelagianism, and how the writer(s) and signers of the TS “Are Not” guilty of this incrimination.

I am curious, as you and others have tried hard to answer questions and clear up differences—have anyone in SBC theological leadership contacted you to say, “I/we are sorry for making the s-P charge? I am curious because sometimes “it’s time to talk” and at other times it is time to say, “I’m sorry.”

Blessings!

    Adam Harwood

    Ron,

    Thanks for your kind and encouraging note.

    I have been in communication with both theologians who made the claim regarding the TS. Neither offered a retraction.

    If the TS *is* semi-Pelagian, then the view is rampant in the SBC (among seminary Presidents, professors, pastors, state executives, and others who affirmed the TS). If, however, the TS is *not* semi-Pelagian, then perhaps a retraction is in order and would foster unity. Until retracted, the claim stands.

    In Him,
    Adam

doug sayers

Adam, thanks for taking the time to fend off the false charge. It is hard to imagine how someone could be irresistibly “dragged” to do something voluntarily but this is what the dedicated Calvinist must sell. It destroys the spirit and meaning of heart repentance.

I do wonder if the framers of the TS have a consensus position on any difference between the working of God’s “initiating” grace in the Old Testament and New Testament time-frames. Is the drawing/teaching/learning of John 6:44-45 essentially the same in both? Perhaps, someone can speak to this sometime.

    Adam Harwood

    Doug,
    Thanks for your note.
    You have asked a good question. I am not aware of an answer by a “Traditional” Southern Baptist on that particular issue. I agree that this is an area which could be explored.
    In Him,
    Adam

    Bob Hadley

    Doug,

    I have argued the importance of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in regeneration which causes two problems in the calvinist system; first regeneration before repentance and believing faith either takes place without the indwelling or has the indwelling before repentance and faith both of which are problematic as I see it. Second, as you allude to, since the indwelling did not take place until Pentecost, there is no regeneration in the Old Testament period and therefore no regeneration as posited by the calvinist position.

    Regeneration before repentance and faith in the OT is nowhere to be found, with a the exception of a couple possible passages that this concept is read into.

    I believe this is an important aspect to further. In the OT God is WITH MEN; at the incarnation God has BECOME MAN so that at the indwelling He is now WITH MAN which I argue restores our right standing before God allowing those who repent and believe to be rightly related to God as Adam was at creation.

Norm Miller

Adam:
Of the many aspects of your constitution and personality I appreciate, I am most grateful for your commitment to theological exactitude and the Savior whose attitude you consistently portray. It is an honor to know you and call you friend, and a deep blessing to know you as brother. Thanks for all you do. — Norm

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