Herschel Hobbs influenced generations of Southern Baptists as author of the commentary for the Life and Work Sunday School Lessons. Sometime ago, a member of my church brought to my office a grocery sack filled with these old commentaries. Since then I have read a few of them and have been cataloging their contents so that I can find Hobbs’ teaching on certain passages and ideas when I need them in my study.
This morning I was perusing some of his writing from 1995. As I read the commentary he wrote for the September 10 lesson of that year, I became aware of how Hobbs’ teaching was clearly reflected the traditional Baptists views treasured by Southern Baptists for generations. Although his lesson was not focused on the current “Reformed Revival” taking place in the Southern Baptist Convention, his clear biblical teaching reveals his belief in the traditional Baptist stance on the doctrine of salvation that has been proclaimed for generations but is now being challenged by the New Calvinists that dominates the Southern Baptist Convention leadership.
Let me quote Hobbs’ comments and you can then compare them to the views being taught by the “young, restless, and reformed” Calvinists who, though a minority, have an inordinate amount of influence in today’s Southern Baptist Convention. Hobbs comments on Romans 3:22: “Within ourselves we are not righteous, but such is God’s righteousness that He chooses to regard as righteous, or justified, in His sight every single one (all without the definite article) who through faith believes in Jesus Christ. In God’s sight there is no difference, no distinction, between Jew and Gentile; both are treated alike.” (emphasis Hobbs)
That certainly stands in contradistinction to the teaching of the New Calvinists that election is unconditional. Hobbs teaches that God regards as justified every single one who through faith believes in Jesus Christ. Both Jew and Gentile are treated alike by God. Now, I’m sure a Calvinist might respond that those who are unconditionally elected will place their faith in Christ. They might even say they agree with Hobbs teaching in the passage quoted above. But Hobbs won’t let them off the hook that easily. He concludes his comments in this lesson by saying, “Everyone can be saved through faith in Christ. Our responsibility is to see that all people everywhere have the opportunity to believe in Him.” (emphasis mine)
When Traditional Southern Baptists talk about our doctrinal position being in the Hobbs/Rogers tradition, we are saying that our beliefs about salvation are in harmony with those taught by Herschel Hobbs and Adrian Rogers and millions of like-minded Southern Baptists. We believe that “everyone can be saved through faith in Christ.”
To those who believe that election is unconditional, that Christ’s atonement is limited to a select group, and that grace is irresistible, those of us in the Hobbs/Rogers Tradition of Southern Baptist life would confess that we agree with the thoughts expressed by Hobbs in his Sunday School comments when he wrote:
“God offers us salvation by grace through faith. But in the final analysis the decision is up to the individual’s response to God’s gracious offer.
“We should never cease to pray for lost people. But we should do so recognizing that a holy, righteous God cannot wink at sin or hardened hearts. God offers His salvation on the grounds of the individual’s repentance and faith. These are inseparable graces. If you truly repent, you will believe in Jesus as your Savior. God has done all that He can to save you. But you must be willing to be saved. Jesus ever stands at the door and knocks. If you open the door, He will come into your life. But He will not break the door down against your will. To do that would destroy you as a person and make you into a puppet. God loves you too much to do that. Just remember, He is the Savior, not the burglar of souls!”
*This article was originally published HERE and was used by permission.