Jesus Is the Savior, Not the Burglar of Souls!

November 22, 2014

Marty Comer | Pastor
Sand Ridge Baptist Church, Lexington, TN

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.

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Frank Eckenroad

Come on guys! Jesus can only be the burglar of your soul if he’s breaking and entering a place that’s not his. But since he is the Creator of all things (1 Cor 8:6) all things belong to him (Heb 1:2). Since all things belong to him he is glorified by doing what he wants with what is his (Mt 20:15). This is basic theology regardless of Herschel Hobbs and/or Adrian Rogers.



    Basic Bible is that God calls and convicts people according to the light they have shed on them, and people must respond to God by repentance and faith. Man must respond to God’s gracious working. God does not FORCE people to be saved, or overwhelm them into being saved. People must honestly choose….not just some theoritical, phony choice that’s been put into them by God….which is no choice by man, at all. I hear strong Calvinists say that man must choose, but God so overwhelms man that God makes them want to be saved. That’s not really a choice…not really. And, it’s really not being honest for Calvinists to say that man must choose, but there’s really no choice to it…except on the part of God. Man is just either chosen to eternal glory, or doomed to Hell with no hope whatsoever….none….nada….zilch. That man is predestined to Hell, and he had no real choice to make about it. That’s the philosophy of Calvinism.

    The Bible teaches that man must choose…..a real choice…..and, I believe what the Bible simply teaches about this….God calls and convicts….man responds to this calling….if he responds in humbly surrendering to God in faith, then God saves him….if he refuses to be saved, then Hell waits on him.



Why do those who take the name “Traditional Baptists” and promote “the doctrine of salvation that has been proclaimed for generations” also identify themselves as being in the “Hobbs/Rogers tradition?”

I am less than 40 years old, yet both of these men were alive for more of my life than they have been dead during. It seems to me that if the tradition these Southern Baptists find themselves a part of started with Hobbs or Rogers, then it is not “traditional” and hasn’t “been proclaimed for generations.” It seems to me that if the tradition didn’t start with Hobbs or Rogers, then these “Traditionalists” could/would take the name of their tradition from a more seminal/foundational figure or identify it by its doctrine instead of by the men they follow.

I missing something here?

    Rick Patrick

    Hi Josh,

    Thanks for the question. For a fairly thorough description of the use of the term Traditional for the Non-Calvinist, Non-Arminian, Majority View of Southern Baptists throughout the 2oth Century soteriological position, please click on the link here:

    While I appreciate your suggestion, we are not obligated in the least to call ourselves by a theological label identifying with the seminal theologian responsible for teaching Whosoever Will doctrine. You should know, however, that if the theological label police forced us to do so, we would have to adopt the name Jesusists, for we understand Christ to be the first advocate of our view.

    Have you ever been to a Traditional worship service in a Southern Baptist Church? It probably featured the kinds of classic hymns and older Gaither choruses popular in the SBC from 1950-1980. The word Traditional simply does not have to mean 1845. (Even if someone did press the case and insist that our view had to be represented in 1845, we can clearly show that W.B. Johnson, the first SBC President, believed as we do.) That is a discussion for another day, however. It is not the case we are making simply by using the term Traditional.

    To really understand the label, I encourage you to read the link above. In a nutshell, this label comes from a book published in 2000 and a public statement written in 2012. The position, we believe, is old. The articulation of this position, is somewhat new. It’s a unique Southern Baptist position between Arminianism and Calvinism. We have no plans to give it up. Perhaps in time, you will get used to it. Thanks again for engaging here.



      Your reply comes across very antagonistically. I am not sure if you meant it that way our not. I will give you the benefit of doubt and assume that you did not.

      You said, “While I appreciate your suggestion, we are not obligated in the least to call ourselves by a theological label identifying with the seminal theologian responsible for teaching Whosoever Will doctrine.” Firstly, I was not making any suggestion at all. In my original comment, I simply asked a question and then gave a rational for why the question existed in my mind. I asked why those who take this position use these two labels (“Traditional Southern Baptist” and “Hobbs/Rogers” tradition) at the same time. I then explained why that question existed in my mind (because for the reasons I mentioned, it seems to me that those two labels contradict one another).

      Secondly, it seems that you have misunderstood or conflated what I was saying. Maybe that is why you is understood my question. I was saying that it makes sense to me to identify either by a seminal figure (e.g. On the other side of where you seem to be, Augustinan, Calvinist, Arminiam, etc.) as you do with Hobbs/Rogers or by a theological label (e.g. Doctrines of Grace, Free Will Theism, etc.) as you do with the term Traditional. It even makes sense to use both as virtually all other positions do.

      My only question was that it seems to me that the two labels you have chosen (“Traditional Southern Baptist” and “Hobbs/Rogers Tradition) are contradictory. To claim that this understanding of salvation (which I have not necessarily said that I disagree with) has been “proclaimed for generations” and then identify it with two men who are both of the previous generation seems a little disengenuous to me.

      So I was not making a statement “You should do something else.” (Which is what you responded to.). I was asking a question “Why do you do what you do?” (Which I am very interested in the answer to but which you did not really answer or even address at all. You took more of a defensive stance against an imagined enemy instead of straight forwardly answering the question that was asked in a way that would increase my knowledge and understanding.)

      To answer your questions: Yes, I am in a traditional Southern Baptist worship service 3 times each week (Sun. Morning, Sun. Evening, and We’d. Evening). I am the chairman of deacons in a small rural Southern Baptist church in KY. Again, I was not suggesting that the word traditional had to mean 1845. I was simply asking why you use those two labels that seem contradictory to me–especially when saying your position has been proclaime for generations and then identifying with such recent men.

      In addition to all of this, I would suggest (the first suggestion that I have made thus far) that the Traditional position on the doctrine of salvation is not a “unique Southern Baptist position between Arminianism and Calvinism” as you say. Where I have spent my life (TN and KY) there is a relatively large presence of Cumberland Presbyterian churches. While there are obvious differences when it comes to baptism, church government, women in ministry, the doctrine of scripture, and perhaps other issues, when it comes to the doctrine of salvation, the Cumberland Presbyterian and Traditional/Hobbs-Rogers position are virtually synonymous if not absolutely identical. CP’s embrace a “medium theology” between Arminianism and Calvinism and call their understanding a “Whosoever will” theology. They reject total inability, unconditional election, regeneration preceding faith, limited atonement, irresistible grace, etc. just like SBC Traditionalists.

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