The ETS, the AP & the BFM

November 29, 2012

Adam Harwood, PhD
Assistant Professor of Christian Studies
Truett-McConnell College
Cleveland, Georgia


The Evangelical Theological Society (ETS) met for its annual meeting in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on November 14-16, 2012. ETS bills itself as “a professional, academic society of Biblical scholars, teachers, pastors, students, and others involved in evangelical scholarship” (www.etsjets.org). Its membership is currently 4,000 people worldwide. I do not know the breakdown of denominations but it includes a variety of evangelicals, from Lutherans to Presbyterians to Wesleyans to Bible church to interdenominational colleges and seminaries. Their peer-reviewed journal, JETS, is one of the premier conservative, biblical-theological journals in the world.

I have been a member of ETS since 2003, attended some of the meetings, and presented papers at five regional or annual meetings. The annual ETS meeting is a three-day marathon of paper presentations in the areas of biblical studies, biblical archaeology, systematic theology, ethics, and philosophy. In addition to the academic stimulation, it was refreshing to meet some of the people whose writings sit on my shelf in the form of commentaries, biblical studies, and systematic theologies. Like the annual meeting of the SBC, the annual meeting of the ETS is a chance to see old friends, make new friends, and overspend my book budget.

The number of fine papers was plentiful and I benefited from hearing several of them. Of particular interest to me was a presentation by Dr. Tom Schreiner entitled “Original Sin, Original Death: Romans 5:12-19.” The subject was central to my Ph.D dissertation (http://goo.gl/MZtrZ) and I plan to address it at a conference next Spring (http://goo.gl/GnwOd). Schreiner currently serves as James Buchanan Harrison Professor of New Testament Interpretation at Southern Seminary and has published widely in the field of biblical studies. (The students in my General Epistles course use as a textbook his volume on 1, 2 Peter and Jude in the New American Commentary series.)

Schreiner’s paper was prepared as a chapter for a forthcoming book which argues for the historicity of the first Adam. Schreiner provided no further details about that project but it might be related to a Fall 2011 panel presentation at Southern Seminary in which he participated, “Adam and the Gospel: Is a Historical Adam Necessary?” (http://goo.gl/WQnwm). I look forward to reading that forthcoming volume.

Because the paper is pending publication, Schreiner did not provide copies at ETS. But as he spoke, I scratched out two pages of notes and recorded the audio of his presentation on my laptop. Schreiner has since provided a copy of the paper on the conditions that I neither quote nor distribute the paper.

Schreiner’s view is basically as follows: Romans 5:12-19 presents Adam as the covenant head of humanity. Schreiner stakes out a slightly different position on a clause in Romans 5:12 than he advanced in his 1998 commentary on Romans (http://goo.gl/a7s0I). But the nuance on that minor point does not change his basic view that all people enter the world as sinners and under condemnation due to Adam’s sin. Schreiner describes and rejects the view of Henri Blocher. In Original Sin, Blocher taught that people do not inherit Adam’s guilt. Schreiner rejects that view. Instead, Schreiner affirms the view of John Murray, the long-time Presbyterian seminary professor. In The Imputation of Adam’s Sin, Murray taught that people inherit Adam’s guilt. Schreiner affirms that view.

There is much more to Schreiner’s argument. He deals with each of the verses in Romans 5:12-19 in detail as well as several other Old and New Testament texts. Schreiner makes careful distinctions between similar topics, such as between personal sin and Adam’s sin as well as between spiritual death and physical death. There is much to commend in the paper and I am thankful for Schreiner’s reflections on this difficult topic.

But Schreiner’s paper raised a question in my mind as I listened in Milwaukee. So I raised this question in the customary Q&A following his presentation: “Dr. Schreiner, Is the view you presented consistent with the statement of faith of your denomination?”

Article 3 of the Baptist Faith and Message 2000 states clearly that people inherit something from the first man. But the BFM does not state that we inherit guilt or condemnation. Instead, we “inherit a nature and environment inclined toward sin.” According to the BFM, people do not begin life under condemnation. Rather, “as soon as they are capable of moral action, they become transgressors.”

The pertinent section of the BFM reads as follows: “Through the temptation of Satan man transgressed the command of God, and fell from his original innocence whereby his posterity inherit a nature and an environment inclined toward sin. Therefore, as soon as they are capable of moral action, they become transgressors and are under condemnation.” (See http://sbc.net/bfm/bfm2000.asp.)

But Schreiner’s view, which is standard fare in Reformed confessions and many systematic theologies, is that people come into the world under condemnation due to Adam’s sin. That is contrary to the BFM 2000.

There are several possible objections to my brief essay. Below, I will attempt to anticipate and address some of those possible objections.

Objection #1: Harwood has either misunderstood or misrepresented Schreiner’s view. Because Harwood was unable to quote Schreiner, readers are not able to verify certain claims.

Reply: Perhaps I have misunderstood or misrepresented his view. If so, then I look forward to being corrected. But I heard, recorded, and took notes on the presentation. Also, I have a printed copy of the paper provided by the author. Further, a cursory reading of any Schreiner book will reveal his presupposition of covenantal theology, which typically entails an affirmation of the imputation of Adam’s guilt to his posterity. When the chapter finds its way into print, closer scrutiny can be given to Schreiner’s precise claims.

Objection #2: Harwood has either misunderstood or misrepresented the BFM 2000. Article 3 is compatible with the view that all people inherit Adam’s guilt.

Reply: In exactly what way have I either misunderstood or misrepresented the BFM 2000? It makes no mention of inherited guilt. Rather, it affirms clearly an inherited sinful nature and states that people “become transgressors and are under condemnation.” In what way is that compatible with inherited guilt? Is a person under condemnation before he is a transgressor? Reformed theologians hold this view but it cannot be sustained from the language of the BFM 2000.

Objection #3: Although the BFM does not affirm inherited guilt, other earlier Baptist confessions do. We should interpret these vague statements in the BFM with clearer statements in earlier confessions.

Reply: Some earlier confessions do make particular affirmations that are not found in the BFM. But I am not bound by any of those confessions. As a faculty member at two institutions, I have signed an affirmation of the BFM 2000. Also, I reject the following notions: that the BFM is unclear on this point; and that we should interpret the BFM by earlier confessions. The BFM clearly affirms an inherited sinful nature over any mention of inherited guilt; and while historical perspective is helpful, the BFM is a summary of our understanding of the Bible, not a summary of our understanding of previous statements of faith.

Objection #4: Schreiner’s view may not be in line with the BFM but it is consistent with Southern Seminary’s other statement of faith, the Abstract of Principles. In that way, it is consistent with a founding document of Southern Baptists.

Reply: The Abstract of Principles is a founding document of our first seminary and a fine historical document, but it is not a founding document of our denomination. The entire statement on “The Fall of Man” is as follows: “God originally created Man in His own image, and free from sin; but, through the temptation of Satan, he transgressed the command of God, and fell from his original holiness and righteousness; whereby his posterity inherit a nature corrupt and wholly opposed to God and His law, are under condemnation, and as soon as they are capable of moral action, become actual transgressors.” (See www.sbts.edu/about/truth/abstract.)

Compare the AP and the BFM on the fall of man:

Abstract of Principles (1858)

The Baptist Faith and Message (2000)

Observations

…through the temptation of Satan, he transgressed the command of God, Through the temptation of Satan man transgressed the command of God, To this point, the two documents are basically the same.
and fell from his original holiness and righteousness; and fell from his original innocence Notice the different original condition of Adam: holiness and righteousness (AP) rather than innocence (BFM).
whereby his posterity inherit a nature corrupt and wholly opposed to God and His law, whereby his posterity inherit a nature and an environment inclined toward sin. Notice the different inheritance: a nature which is initially opposed to God and His law (AP) rather than a nature inclined toward sin (BFM).
are under condemnation, and as soon as they are capable of moral action, become actual transgressors. Therefore, as soon as they are capable of moral action, they become transgressors and are under condemnation. Both affirm that people become transgressors as soon as they are capable of moral action. And both refer to condemnation. But the AP places the statement of condemnation before moral capability.

With the verbiage of the Abstract of Principles available to them, the BFM 2000 committee, which included SBTS President (and AP signer) Albert Mohler, chose to retain the language of the BFM 1963 when describing our inheritance from Adam.

I am not asking two seminaries (Southern and Southeastern) to abandon the Abstract of Principles, an historical Baptist document. But are there differences in the documents (see above)? If all six SBC seminaries train pastors and leaders for all 40,000+ SBC congregations, then should the professors teach according to the statement of faith that has been affirmed by our convention of churches (the BFM 2000) or according to a statement which has not been affirmed by our convention of churches (the Abstract of Principles)? By asking this question, I am not faulting any person who has signed both documents. There is a great deal of consistency between the documents. It is not the fault of anyone at either institution that at that particular points their two statements of faith conflict. The covenantal view of inherited guilt/condemnation is a point at which I see a contradiction between the two statements. But if seminary faculty teach according to the BFM, then all is well.

Tom Schreiner’s ETS presentation causes me to wonder if some seminary professors at Southern and Southeastern Seminaries are in an impossible situation when they address our inheritance from Adam. If they affirm inherited guilt, then their view is consistent with the Abstract of Principles but inconsistent with the BFM 2000. If they affirm a view of inherited sinful nature, then the reverse is true and they have taught a view which is inconsistent with the AP but consistent with the BFM.

I am not attempting to cause trouble for Schreiner and am not requesting that he reply. He is a gifted scholar and I am thankful for his work. But no scholar is infallible. His academic presentation prompts two clarifying questions:

1. Is Dr. Schreiner’s view of inherited guilt/condemnation contrary to the BFM 2000?

2. Do we expect SBC professors to teach according to the BFM?

 

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Steve Martin

Interesting piece, Dr. Harwood.

Being an “actual transgressor” comes quite early on. The Bible seems to say that it was “in the womb”, if we still call transgression, ‘sin’.

Observing babies who are taking each other’s rattle and bottle’s away, seems to confirm St. Paul’s sentences that “there is none that are good. No not one.” And, “no one seeks for God.”

Thank you, sir.

    Norm Miller

    Let’s go back to the moment of delivery, Steve. Your example notes infants who steal rattles. What act of sin has a seconds-old infant committed?
    I refuse to believe that a God who knows when a sparrow hits the ground would send to hell an infant who never stole anyone’s rattle. I know that is contrary to your Lutheran bent, but that is one among several reasons I am a Baptist.
    BTW: If you have not read Dr. Harwood’s book on the spiritual condition of infants, then I will gladly send you a copy. — Norm.

      Steve Martin

      Norm,

      The Bible tells us quite plainly and clearly that we were “conceived in sin”.

      “No one is good, no not one.”…means NO not one. Yes, even babies inherit that ‘sin’ condition from Adam.

        Norm Miller

        ‘Conceived in sin.’ Could that mean that sinners are responsible for our conception? I’m well aware of the verse you cite. I just reject your interp. — Norm

          Steve Martin

          I guess one could come up with anything.

          But when we do theology and we read Paul in Romans, a better bet would be that ‘as of our conception, are condition is one of ‘sin’.

          Here’s a video of twins (in the womb), fighting and trying to gain ground.

          Sounds like…us.

          http://wtvr.com/2012/11/30/sibling-rivalry-video-shows-twins-fighting-in-the-womb/

            Norm Miller

            Really, Steve? You actually know what is in the minds and hearts of the twins? You know the motivations behind those actions in the womb? Wow, brother, you need to find another job. With a talent like that, you could make millions.
            Per you first comment, “I guess one could come up with anything.” I couldn’t agree more. Calvinists prove that every day. Here is but one among many examples: “Behold the lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the elect.” Yes, the hermeneutical gymnastics of Calvinists would win gold medals if scripture twisting were an Olympic event. — Norm

            Johnathan Pritchett

            Conceived in sin? Surely you aren’t referring to Psalm 51:5 to mean that there is some sin goo in womb humans are “conceived in”. A “spiritual sin goo” perhaps?

            Of course, that is all silly and a complete wrong-headed approach to the passage (it is the Psalms, do you understand how to read the Psalms?)

            Finally, the verse literally says “in sin my mother conceived me”, not “I was conceived in sin inside my mom…” or whatever.

            Lastly, when a baby takes a rattle from another baby, please tell me the moral content of that action. Is it “actually” stealing, or does it only appear as stealing by observers with knowledge?

    Adam Harwood

    Steve,

    Thanks for your note. Your comment highlights the issue on which many (not all) in the SBC differ on the issue of sin and guilt. It is within Christian orthodoxy to affirm inherited guilt. My assertion is this is not the position articulated in Article 3 of the BFM 2000.

    On your comment regarding when people become transgressors, the AP and the BFM 2000 speak with one voice: “as soon as they are capable of moral action.”

    On your comment denying the goodness of infants: I agree. No one is good but God.

    Thank you for interacting with my post on this topic.

    Blessings, brother.

    In Him,
    Adam

      Steve Martin

      Thank you, Dr. Harwood.

      I appreciate your comment to me.

        Norm

        Does that mean you don’t appreciate mine? — Norm

Bob Hadley

Dr. Harwood,

You wrote, “So I raised this question in the customary Q&A following his presentation: Dr. Schreiner, Is the view you presented consistent with the statement of faith of your denomination?” What was his answer?

As for the issue of the imputation of Adam’s guilt to all men, this is something that is being read into the text. The Bible simply says that all men have sinned and come short of the glory of God. Take Ro 5:12, “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned — ” There is no textual hint of imputed guilt; all Paul is saying here is that sin causes death and death is obvious because all men have died so the converse of that is that all men have sinned. I believe verse 13 substantiates that position, Ro 5:13
13 (For until the law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law.” Even there was no law as such from Adam to Moses, all men died so all men sinned. (See also Romans 4:15)

So how did Adam’s sin effect mankind? Here is an interesting perspective on that question. What did God do to correct the problem? He sent Jesus and listen to the angel’s announcement; Mt 1:23, “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.” To me this speaks volumes when it comes to the problem that Adam’s sin caused. What takes place at conversion? The Holy Spirit takes up residence in our hearts. Conversion fulfills the angel’s announcement! God is no longer simply present as He is everywhere, He is now in us; we become the Temple, not a tabernacle but a permanent dwelling place of the presence of God Himself . What do we do in prayer, we are to come BOLDLY into His presence.

If God sent Jesus to be “with us” and send the Holy Spirit to dwell in us, then perhaps the root to sin is not the sin itself but separation from God, which is the cause of our sin or what some might refer to as a sin nature. If that is plausible, then it can be accurately stated that Adam can be seen as the covenant head of humanity as Schreiner suggests. But it is not the original sin that man is charged with nor Adam’s guilt, but rather the separation that was the result of Adam’s sin.

God cast Adam and Eve out of the garden and every person that has been born has been born outside the garden, which represents among other things, the perpetual presence of God. Ironically, what is heaven but the place of God’s perpetual presence.

If we take the definition of sin as “anything that falls sort of the glory of God” (Ro 3:23b) then this separation problem most certainly satisfies that because man was created to be in the perpetual presence of God… What does God say all through the OT… I want to be your God and I want you to be My people. God is the source and substance of life itself. There is no separating God from life. Abundant life is a life that is lived in His presence.

So, to be born outside His presence is to “fall short of His glory” because everything we do is outside His perpetual presence. And so at conversion, God corrects the separation problem because of what Christ did on the cross and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Once the separation problem is solved, then the sin problem can begin to be dealt with; apart from the separation problem being corrected, there is no solution for the sin problem.

I believe this view deserves more attention and discussion and may well hold the key to this whole discussion related to Adam’s role in sin and death in our world today.

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    Adam Harwood

    Bob,

    Thanks for your interaction with my post.

    Regarding your question about Dr. Schreiner’s reply to my question during the Q&A, please see my replies below to Ben Simpson.

    Blessings, brother.

    Adam

    Johnathan Pritchett

    You’re the man Bob! I’ve been beating that drum for a while now. How is it smart theolgians can get “sin and guilt of Adam is imputed” when the only time imputation is mentioned in the passage is in the negation.

    However one interprets this passage, one interpretation not even remotely possible is making “sin is not imputed” to mean “sin is imputed”.

    As Schreiner himself notes in his commentary (see p. 278) on this passage (though he is wildly all over the place and internally inconsistent in his treatment of this passage), Romans 2:12a states that sinners perish without the law, Romans 5:13 says there was sin before the law.

    The obvious conclusion to draw from this is that sinners will perish without the law OR the imputation of sin. Imputation is a specific thing, and obviously, is not required for sinners to perish.

    So why someone like Schreiner would argue for a position opposite of what Scripture says, especially while he inconsistently acknowledges part of what I am saying by way of using his own commentary, is totally beyond me.

Dave

I would like to hear Dr. Schreiner’s reply to your question. Perhaps you should also email Dr. Patterson at SWBTS and ask him if he sees these two documents as being incompatible. He signed them both when he agreed to both of them as the President and professor at SEBTS.

As a side note Southern’s website seems to claim that the convention did approve the Abstract of Principles in 1858..http://archives.sbts.edu/the-history-of-the-sbts/our-beliefs/the-development-and-role-of-the-abstract-of-principles/
So when you say that the Abstract has not been approved by our convention of churches do you mean 1) It doesn’t count anymore because it was a really long time ago 2) The 1858 approval of the abstract was nullified in 1925, 1963, and 2000 when it approved the BFM or 3) The SBTS website is inaccurate when it says “In 1858, a year before Southern opened its doors, the convention accepted the Abstract and instituted it as the seminary’s official creed.”

    Adam Harwood

    Dave,

    Thanks for your note.

    In answer to your question about hearing Schreiner’s reply in the Q&A, please see my lengthy reply below to Mary.

    Regarding the compatibility of the two documents on our inheritance from Adam and how people understand those documents: Great question. I will not attempt to provide a reply for either Dr. Schreiner or Dr. Patterson. They can (and do) speak for themselves. My essay is about one professor rejecting the inherited-sinful-nature-only view, a view which is consistent with the convention-wide statement of faith, the BFM 2000.

    If Dr. Patterson had presented a paper which advanced a view which is not in accordance with the BFM 2000, then my post would have been about Patterson’s paper. But that is not the case. Regardless of who signs both documents (AP and BFM), my concern as a Southern Baptist is that our professors teach in accordance with our agreed-upon convention-wide statement of faith, which is the BFM 2000.

    Let me restate my argument:

    – Schreiner affirms a view of inherited sinful nature AND inherited guilt.
    – Schreiner seems to reject the inherited sinful nature view if it is NOT accompanied by inherited guilt.
    – The BFM affirms explicitly only an inherited sinful nature.
    – If I have accurately represented Schreiner’s view, then it is not in accordance with the BFM.

    I am not asserting that he cannot affirm inherited guilt. I think he’s wrong on that point. I make a sustained argument against inherited guilt in my Ph.D dissertation, which was revised for publication last year. But it’s not Schreiner’s affirmation of inherited guilt that is problematic; by doing so he is simply saying _more_ than the BFM on the matter. MANY Southern Baptists do so.

    The problem is that by rejecting the view that we inherit ONLY a sinful nature, Schreiner denies the view which is explicitly stated in Article 3 of the BFM. By denying the inherited sinful nature view, Schreiner is saying _less_ than the BFM. That’s the problem.

    Regarding convention approval of the Abstract: Thanks for the clarification. I did not mean to imply the Abstract was never approved BY our convention but never approved FOR our convention. The convention never approved the use of the Abstract as a governing document for our convention of churches. In this way, my point remains. The only statement of faith which has been approved by our convention of churches as a governing document for our convention of churches (along with its various denominational structures) at present is the current edition of the BFM.

    Blessings, brother.

    In Him,
    Adam

lydia

Bob, Totally agree with what you wrote.

Dr. Harwood, thanks for putting the AP and the BFM wording on this issue side by side. It is very helpful to see it clearly since so many use these man made documents as a source of affirmation depending on the issue at the time.

I can remember reading an article about the discussion around the BFM2000 concerning the Priesthood of believer(s). I was amazed at the parsing of whether to have an “s” or not. but it turns out the “s” was very important:

“The same issue was addressed by a leading member of the revision committee during a news conference in Orlando. At that news conference, Al Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., explained the difference between the phrase “priesthood of the believer” as used in the 1963 statement and “priesthood of believers” as used in the 2000 statement.
___”Baptists believe in the priesthood of believers, but it is dangerous to say the priesthood of the believer,” Mohler said. “It is not just that we stand alone; it is that we stand together–and we stand together under the authority of God’s word.”
___Henderson found irony in this explanation being given in a news conference after the vote was taken. This is not the interpretation he has understood to be the Southern Baptist position in the past, he said.
___”While I am content to stand before God under the authority of Scripture, I can do so whether I’m alone or in a crowd of all 15.8 million Southern Baptists,” Henderson wrote. “While I appreciate the committee’s efforts to at least partially restore a pair of key Baptist doctrines, I am confident it is not dangerous to be a lone priest/believer in the presence of Almighty God through the power of his Holy Spirit.”
Baptist Standard, July 17, 2000

Words mean things. Even adding an “s” to a word can change it’s meaning for some in leadership.

    Adam Harwood

    Lydia,

    You provided a great illustration of the significance of precise wording and interpretations of doctrinal statements. Your anecdote reminds me of another time when the homoousios/homoiousios controversy centered on a single letter and the accompanying interpretation.

    Thanks for your note, sister.

    In Him,
    Adam

Rick Patrick

I always wondered why doctors spanked babies in the delivery room. I thought it had something to do with making them cry in order to open their airways. But now I realize that they are born guilty and blameworthy and deserve to be punished from the start.

By the way, my revised position on this issue is that I never ate the pomegranate.

Thank you, Adam, for this excellent article advocating your position with clarity and conviction, while choosing your words carefully as a gentleman and a scholar.

    Norm Miller

    Rick: What a knack you have for tickling the funny bone, stimulating the mind and engaging the heart. Well done, Sir. — Norm

    Adam Harwood

    Ha.

    Thanks for your kind words, Rick.

    In Him,
    Adam

    Dell Russell

    Rick, the doctor spanks a new born to show the new mother how to get started on raising good children.

      Rick Patrick

      Dell,

      Thanks for clearing that up. My mother learned the lesson well!

        Rick Patrick

        By which I mean to imply not that she raised a good child, but that she spanked him frequently and with appropriate enthusiasm.

          Dell Russell

          Same here Rick. I think this old fashioned (and biblical I may add) technique should be reimplemented while there is still time.
          Proverbs 22:15; Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive far from him.

rhutchin

The BFM appears to reflect the tension within Southern Baptist circles about the salvation of children. If, per the Calvinists, we allow God to save whom he will, then it is possible that God will not save all children and many find that distasteful. Thus, the language of the BFM is designed to require God to save all children and subject them to judgment only after they actually sin.

The issue is that which the Bible tells us. The Bible says that God is sovereign over His creation and not man over God. Thus, man cannot tell God whom to save as BFM appears to do.

Schreiner’s forthcoming paper suggests that Southern Baptists need to clear up some muddled thinking on this issue and align themselves to that which the Bible tells us.

    Tim Rogers

    rhutchins,

    So are you saying that the bible teaches infants go to hell when they die?

    Robert

    Rhutchin provides yet another perfect example of why I can’t stand calvinism and its doctrines. They make these pronouncements that imply that only they believe in things such as that God is sovereign, that God saves whomever he chooses to save, etc. Calvinistis like Rhutchin also seem incapable of acknowledging that they equate their INTERPRETATIONS AND THEOLGY with biblical truth.

    They are not the same at all.

    An interpretation is not the same as nor on the level of the biblical texts.

    “If, per the Calvinists, we allow God to save whom he will,”

    Stop right there, it is not “If, per the Calvinists”, that God can “save whom he will”. That is false and a typical calvinist pronouncement.

    All Bible believing Christians believe that God can save whom he will (not just calvinists as rhutchin falsely implies).

    The question is what is the nature of God’s plan of salvation????

    If it is salvation by a unilateral action of God in which he regenerates preselected individuals whom then necessarily become believers: then God is saving whomever he wills.

    On the other hand, it has been the teaching of the Christian church throughout church history (with the exception of deterministic calvinists) that God chooses to save those who choose to trust Him alone for their salvation. If this is the case, then God’s plan of salvation means that He has sovereignly set things up in such a way that he chooses to save whomever freely chooses to trust in Him.

    If this is the case, then God does in fact “save whom he will” and that means he wills to save those who trust Him.

    We see this in the paradigm case of Abraham and it continues with all of his spiritual descendants (i.e. those who are saved by God because they, like Abraham, trust the Lord). The bible provides tons of evidence that this is the way that God chooses to save whom he chooses to save.

    The contrary and false way of salvation suggested by calvinists/determinists is not found in scripture and can only be arrived at if scripture is ***interpreted*** in a deterministic manner (and all of the scripture suggesting choice and that faith precedes regeneration are ignored and reinterpreted).

    “And this in then it is possible that God will not save all children and many find that distasteful. Thus, the language of the BFM is designed to require God to save all children and subject them to judgment only after they actually sin.”

    God is not “required” to save anyone.

    The common position among Baptists is that God saves the able minded persons who freely choose to trust in Him alone for their salvation (i.e. able minded persons are saved through justification by faith alone).

    Baptists who believe in the age of accountability also believe that God out of mercy saves all children. This is seen as a merciful and loving action by God of persons who are incapable of having faith on their own (this is also related to the Baptist belief that we ought only baptize those who are capable their own profession of faith: babies are incapable of such a profession of personal faith and so ought not to be baptized). The idea that individuals ought only be judged for their sin “after they actually sin” is based upon multiple biblical texts that suggest that each is responsible for their own sin not the sins of others. Most of us also believe that it takes a certain amount of mental capacity to sin on your own (a capacity that children prior to the age of accountability do not possess).

    “The issue is that which the Bible tells us.”

    Right and the bible tells us over and over and in myriads of ways that God saves those who freely choose to trust Him.

    The issue is also what is the best available interpretation of the biblical texts (in some cases competent scholars take very different positions on particular texts, as we will see shortly).

    “The Bible says that God is sovereign over His creation and not man over God.”

    Again this kind of pronouncement implies that only calvinists believe that God is sovereign. And this is just not true at all.

    God is sovereign if He does as He pleases in any and all situations.

    And this is in fact true, God is sovereign and does as He pleases (there is abundant scripture explicitly presenting this truth). What this also means is that God ****is**** sovereign over the nature of salvation and the plan of salvation (i.e. God decides how people will be saved). And determinists like rhutchin just cannot accept what the bible explicitly and repeatedly teaches: that God saves those who freely choose to trust Him. And this trust is a freely made choice on the part of people, it is not coerced it is not necessitated by regeneration.

    “Thus, man cannot tell God whom to save as BFM appears to do.”

    Another false characterization.

    The BFM attempts to be in accord with what the bible properly interpreted presents. The bible presents that the fall led to spiritual death of all people subsequent to the fall (i.e. all are born separated from God at birth, spiritual death means separation from God). The bible does not explicitly say that all human persons are born condemned by acts of sin they or Adam committed (this is an ****interpretation***** first presented by Augustine and adopted by theological determinists ever since). The BFM is attempting to hold these truths simultaneously (i.e. (1) that people are born spiritually dead due to Adam’s sin and yet (2) they are not born condemned for sin, this second claim relates to the Augustinian doctrine of imputed guilt and is false, it has been rejected by the Eastern Orthodox and others who do not find it when Romans 5 is properly exegeted). The BFM also seeks to hold to the truth that while babies are born spiritually dead/but not condemned for sin: they nevertheless have a tendency to sin which will be fulfilled as soon as they are capable of sin (cf. “Therefore, as soon as they are capable of moral action, they become transgressors and are under condemnation.”.)

    The BFM does not tell God whom he can save: he has already revealed in scripture that he chooses to save those who, like Abraham, trust him.

    “Schreiner’s forthcoming paper suggests that Southern Baptists need to clear up some muddled thinking on this issue and align themselves to that which the Bible tells us.”

    Southern Baptists do not need to clear up “some muddled thinking”, Schreiner merely represents a modern advocacy of the Augustinian view of imputed sin (i.e. that all are not only born spiritually dead, but all are born spiritually condemned for the sin of Adam, i.e the sin of Adam is imputed to the entire human race).

    It should be noted that the Eastern Orthodox have for centuries rejected this Augustinian invention of imputed guilt. And in contemporary scholarship scholars such as N. T. Wright, Robert Gundry, etc. etc. have rejected this Augustinian doctrine of imputed guilt on exegetical grounds. Speaking for myself I am well aware of the positions taken by people like Piper/Schreiner (who argue for the Augustinian interpretation) and Wright/Gundry (who argue against the Augusitinian interpretation): when I look at Romans 5 I see that Adam’s death clearly resulted in spiritual death for all of his descendants (this can be established by proper exegesis of the text). But I do not see the doctrine of imputed guilt in the text of Romans 5. This is ***read into the text*** by those who advocate the Augustinian interpretation.

    And that brings up a crucial point here; we are dealing with competing interpretations of the Romans 5 text. If the text clearly and explicitly presented the doctrine of imputed guilt, we would all believe it. But it does not do so. And that is why you can find extremely competent scholars who hold to both interpretations. Lastly it should be remembered that the doctrine of imputed guilt comes from Augustine (he originated this interpretation) and it is usually also closely connected to covenant theology. I reject covenant theology and believe Augustine wrongly interpreted the text of Romans 5. So there is little basis for holding to imputed guilt in Romans 5.

    Robert

    Adam Harwood

    Thanks for your note, rhutchin.

    The only “tension” in the SBC over infant salvation is being imposed from certain people _outside_ our denomination.

    President Mohler represents, in my view, some of my more-Calvinistic brothers in the SBC. The paper he and President Akin co-authored on infant salvation (http://goo.gl/80KIv) is very good. They write: “We believe that Scripture does indeed teach that all persons who die in infancy are among the elect.”

    Southern Baptists who don’t employ Calvinistic theology explain infant salvation in a different way than Drs. Mohler and Akin. But Southern Baptists share a strong consensus that all people who die as infants are safe with God in heaven.

    It is common among Calvinists outside the SBC to limit assurance of infant salvation to Christian parents only (for example, Wayne Grudem). Mohler and Akin do _not_ limit infant salvation to infants of Christian parents. Again, Southern Baptists share a consensus on the topic of infant salvation.

    I do not accept your statement: “Thus, the language of the BFM is designed to require God to save all children and subject them to judgment only after they actually sin.” I am confident that neither Adrian Rogers nor Albert Mohler, who served on the BFM 2000 study committee, assumed anyone can compel God to do anything by their language. That would be inadequate view of God and an overestimation of the power of language. We simply think the BFM 2000 reflects the words of the Bible. Other Christians differ with us; that’s okay.

    Some Southern Baptists affirm inherited sinful nature _and_ guilt. Other Southern Baptists affirm only an inherited sinful nature. This is the in-house discussion you are observing.

    Bottom line: There is neither “muddled thinking” nor “tension” among Southern Baptists on this issue.

    Thanks for your note, brother.

    In Him,
    Adam

Bob Cleveland

We don’t have to go back to the 1858 to find guilt for original sin. It was in the 1925 Baptist Faith & Message:

“He was created into a state of holiness under the law of his Maker, but, through
the temptation of Satan, he transgressed the command of God and fell from his
original holiness and righteousness; whereby his posterity inherit a nature corrupt
and in bondage to sin, and are under condemnation, and as soon as they are capable
of moral action, become actual transgressors.”

We are under condemnation when born, according to that. Folks decided they didn’t like that in 1963, apparently.

    Tim Rogers

    Bob,

    Ok, let’s go back to the ’25BF&M.

    Vi. The Freeness of Salvation.
    The blessings of salvation are made free to all by the gospel. It is the duty of all to accept them by penitent and obedient faith. Nothing prevents the salvation of the greatest sinner except his own voluntary refusal to accept Jesus Christ as teacher, Saviour, and Lord.

    lydia

    Bob, this is where I get confused. When the term “Original sin” is used, does is always include the concept of “imputed guilt”? The last line in the BFM1925 you quoted seems to clarify that a person must be aware to be an “acutal transgressor”:

    “…..and as soon as they are capable of moral action, become actual transgressors.”

    As a newborn infant would they not be transgressors already with the concept of imputed guilt?

    peter lumpkins

    Bob,

    Well apparently Dr. Mohler was among those who didn’t like it either in 2000. ;^).

    More seriously, you would be hard-pressed to read the 1925 statement in the terms you insist if you considered the context of those who actually wrote the confession. Most agree E.Y.Mullins was the chief author of the 1925 statement. But to interpret the confession as do you, Mullins would have written a confession for Southern Baptists with which he flatly disagreed! Add to this, other lights on the committee were E.C. Dargan and Z.T. Cody–both of whom vehemently denied imputed sinful guilt and the case completely vanishes into thin nothingness that our first confession affirmed imputed Adamic guilt.

    With that, I am…
    Peter

    Adam Harwood

    Bob,

    Thanks for your note. Tim, Lydia and Peter have all made interesting points and raised instructive questions. To those comments, I’ll add:

    There are certain points at which I differ with some previous Baptist confessions of faith. No matter. The current statement of faith for the SBC is the BFM 2000. That is the convention-wide document which denominational servants–including seminary professors–affirm.

    Thanks, brother.

    In Him,
    Adam

Mahlon Smith

Dear Dr. Harwood:
I enjoyed reading your post today. I too appreciate the fruits of scholarship coming from ETS. I think your paper was very irenic, well thought out and humbly written. With that said, I wanted to give a few responses. First, I think in order to test both your proposal versus Dr. Schreiner’s, we have to remember that not only are we dealing with the manner of Adam’s sin being transmitted to the whole human race but also the manner of transferral of Christ’s accomplishment of salvation to all who by grace through faith believes. How is that done? If by imputation, then how much is imputed in Adam and in Christ? If not by imputation, then how do the objective events of the fall and the cross become a subjective experience in either those born into this world or born again by grace through faith? Romans 5:12-21 presents two humanities: in Adam and in Christ. How far we parallel the dynamics of Adam’s sin-guilt-death being imputed to his posterity to that of imputation of Christ’s righteousness-cross-resurrection to all who believe must be factored into this discussion. Then second, if guilt is not reckoned unto me until I am capable of moral action in Adam, then would that line of thinking carry over to the parallel of Paul’s argument in the reckoning of Christ’s righteousness to the believer? I tend to think imputation is the key to Romans 5. Our justification by faith alone by imputation in Romans 4:1-25 and our union with Christ by faith because of imputation in Romans 6:1-11 is spelled out in Romans 5:1-21 by how imputation works due to our reconcilation to God in Christ. Without imputation, I cannot see how justification by faith, reconciliation to God and union in Christ would be able to logically and theologically connect to one another.

    Adam Harwood

    Mahlon,

    Thanks for your note. Because I reject the covenantal notion of imputed guilt, I am not bound to affirm the covenantal formulation of atonement.

    Like Millard Erickson, I reject the view that Adam’s guilt is unconditionally imputed to people prior to their attaining an age or stage of accountability. For more on this view, please see my essay of 6/6/12 listed on the right column of this web site. Thanks, brother.

    In Him,
    Adam

Norm Miller

Dr. Harwood:
Inasmuch as I enjoyed your article and also resonate with it, I am struck by the parallel you inadvertently indicate.
That parallel may be described as history repeating itself. Here’s what I mean. As one who was involved with and knowledgeable about the SBC Conservative Resurgence, your article reminds me of the hue and cry coming from tithe-paying Southern Baptists regarding what professors at SBTS were teaching; or, rather, not teaching. That is, the professors were not teaching in accordance with what the unquestionable and overwhelming majority of Southern Baptists believed. For evidence of this, one need only to read Noel Hollyfield’s 1976 Master’s thesis entitled: “A Sociological Analysis of the Degrees of Christian Orthodoxy Among Selected Students in the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.” His SBTS faculty-read and -approved thesis documented the neo-orthodoxy prevalent among students at the seminary. And, as the thesis indicated, the reason was that many professors were teaching in such a manner as to foster a neo-orthodox environment in the classroom, thus proving the adage that a rotten root bears rotten fruit.

Hollyfield’s thesis was a prime motivator in the Conservative Resurgence — no question.

I am certain, Dr. Harwood, that your article does not intentionally or otherwise allege the sort of JEDP-rooted, higher-critical methodology once prevalent at SBTS. Nor do I believe that you necessarily intended what your article indicates to me, either. But what I am saying is that, it seems history is repeating itself at SBTS in some manner if the answer to both of your following questions is yes.

1. Is Dr. Schreiner’s view of inherited guilt/condemnation contrary to the BFM 2000?
2. Do we expect SBC professors to teach according to the BFM?

Of this much I am absolutely certain: Your second question is not new; it is a repeat of history. Our Conservative Resurgence forebears (CP-supporting, tithing Southern Baptists) answered a resounding yes to that question, and that answer was a prime motivator in the Conservative Resurgence — no question.

    Tim Rogers

    Norm,

    Your last answer is correct to Dr. Hardwood’s question #2. The reason we changed the preamble of the BF&M in 2000 was that professors were using “Jesus is the criterion” as a loop hole big enough to drive a Mack truck through to teach various scriptures were not correct because “Jesus would not do something like that”. I sat in a chapel service in 1989 and heard a prof at SEBTS preach from the Book of Thomas because Mark’s narrative was just not what Jesus would do. He referenced the very part of the preamble that I just noted.

    Adam Harwood

    Norm,

    You have raised an interesting–but limited–historical parallel. Thanks, brother.

    In Him,
    Adam

Ben Simpson

Dr Harwood,

You do realize that two could play your game, right? We’ll be expecting you to refrain from teaching that regeneration is the result of repentance and faith since the BF&M2000 clearly states that regeneration is first: “Regeneration, or the new birth, is a work of God’s grace whereby believers become new creatures in Christ Jesus. It is a change of heart wrought by the Holy Spirit through conviction of sin, to which the sinner responds in repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ,” (Article 4A). Is Dr. Harwood’s view of regeneration/faith contrary to the BF&M 2000? Do we expect SBC professors to teach according to the BF&M?

As Bob Hadley pointed out above, you forgot to tell us his answer to your smoking gun question. A full spirit of fairness and brotherliness would have led you to include that in the original post. In fact, I encourage you to add it in ASAP as an update.

Now, clearly the BF&M on some issues is meant to be a minimalist document, bringing together the various streams of SBC life. Dr Schreiner, I’m assuming, clearly affirms the minimal that we “inherit a nature and environment inclined toward sin.” However, he, like I, would like to affirm a little more than the minimal by affirming we also inherit guilt because we are convinced by the Scripture that that indeed is the case. Nevertheless, we gladly cooperate with those who would only make the minimal affirmation.

Furthermore, the position I hold (and perhaps Dr Schreiner holds also, although I don’t know) makes sense of the BF&M this way: we are conceived in guilt because of our federal head Adam but God does not hold us accountable for that guilt until we are capable of moral action, at which point we will sin and become actual transgressors who are accountable unto condemnation.

I have no trouble affirming the BF&M2000 in article 4, even though my congregation uses a simplified version of the New Hampshire Confession as our statement of faith. Does the BF&M2000 say everything that I would say in the way I would say it based upon my understanding of Scripture? No, but it’s close and leaves room for some variance on these issues.

    Ben Simpson

    I meant to say that I have no problem affirming article 3 of the BF&M. Of course, article 4 looks pretty good to me!!

    Norm Miller

    Ben:
    You do realize that the published author Dr. Harwood doesn’t play games with theology. His questions at the end of his post are serious and deserve to be answered. Also, did it occur to you that Dr. Harwood’s omission of Dr. Schreiner’s answer to the smoking gun question actually did reflect a “full spirit of fairness and brotherliness”?
    Dr. Harwood can deal with your “regeneration” question as he deems fit. In the mean time, the two questions he raised deserve answers.
    BTW: Would you consider your congregation’s use of a simplified New Hampshire Confession a “minimalist” statement of faith. Just wondering. — Norm

    Donald

    “the BF&M2000 clearly states that regeneration is first”

    Ben,
    This has been said many times, but still remains in error. I have corresponded with two of the BF&M 2000 committee members (Gaines & Vines) and both confirm that there was no intention of saying that Regeneration precedes Faith. Please feel free to contact any of the committee members for clarification on this matter, as I am sure they ALL would be eager to put this forced reading of the BF&M 2000 to rest.

      Ben Simpson

      Donald,

      There was an entire committee and not just Drs Vines and Gaines. Nevertheless, what does the BF&M2000 say? Repentance and faith are responses to regeneration. Therefore, the BF&M2000 causally puts regeneration first.

        Donald

        <>

        Ben,
        This is why I invited you to ask ANY of the committee members for yourself. That is, if you are actually interested in the truth rather than just using the BF&M as a foil.

        Do you know how to diagram sentences? I know you don’t want to sound like one of the guys who used “The criterion by which the Bible is to be interpreted is Jesus Christ.” from the BF&M 1963 to justify themselves despite the witness of men like Herschel Hobbs who were there when the words were penned.

        From the BF&M 2000:

        “Regeneration, or the new birth, is a work of God’s grace whereby believers become new creatures in Christ Jesus. It is a change of heart wrought by the Holy Spirit through conviction of sin, to which the sinner responds in repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Repentance and faith are inseparable experiences of grace.”

        I.E. The sinner responds in repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ due to conviction of sin which is wrought by the Holy Spirit. This is Regeneration.

        IF you will first Diagram these sentences and then (should any doubt remain) please consult ANY of the committee members. You will then have evidence from both the document itself and the testimony of the authors.

        peter lumpkins

        Ben,

        To suggest that “the BF&M2000 causally puts regeneration first” (embolden mine) exactly reveals the questionable interpretation overlayed upon the BF&M and why many today cannot theologically warm up so easily to their strict Calvinistic brothers. To read the BF&M in such rigidly scholastic terms could only come from a rigidly scholastic Calvinism. You’d have us naively believe the 2000 BF&M committee–chaired by a rigidly non-Calvinist pastor–employed philosophical causality to teach a doctrine he personally found anti-biblical.

        Nor is it remotely clear that the BF&M says “Repentance and faith are responses to regeneration” as you strongly maintain. Your own part of the quote you cited says no such thing; but rather indicates that regeneration is a grace-initiated transforming work wrought by the Holy Spirit through conviction of sin, a conviction which presumably includes the twin responses of repentance and faith.

        Nor would it be a small departure from the 1925 statement if the 2000 BF&M did officially mean to place regeneration chronologically before faith, for in the 1925 statement, regeneration was clearly conditioned upon faith not vice versa as you maintain for the 2000 statement: “[Regeneration] is a work of God’s free grace conditioned upon faith in Christ and made manifest by the fruit which we bring forth to the glory of God” (Article VII, 1925 BF&M).

        Let’s see if we understand what you’re asking us to historically embrace: the 2000 BF&M corrected the earlier confessional faith-precedes-regeneration belief and did so by a committee led largely by regeneration conditioned upon faith adherents and passed by a SBC largely led by those not affiliated with the Reformed resurgence in the SBC. Sorry, friend. You expect entirely too much from those of us who know a little about our history.

        Finally, it apparently does not seem apparent to you that again you ignore the explicit words and terms the statement of faith does employ (rather than the “causal” connections you insert). Example from the citation you use:

        “Regeneration, or the new birth, is a work of God’s grace whereby believers become new creatures in Christ Jesus”

        And, upon whom may we ask is regeneration bestowed? Who becomes a new creature in Christ? Believers Faith is presumed as a condition of the new birth precisely as the 1925 BF&M explicitly stated; for according to the BFM2K, it’s believers who receive the new birth leading to new creaturliness not lost persons.

        With that, I am…
        Peter

    Adam Harwood

    Ben,

    Thanks for your note.

    First, I am unsure what provoked the tone of your opening sentence. If I have offended you, please let me know so I can apologize.

    Second, I do not regard my post to be a game. Recognizing the seriousness of the situation, I pondered the possible ramifications for several days before deciding to write a carefully-worded essay for readers to consider.

    Third, please refrain from characterizing my theological positions unless you are able to support your claims with evidence from my published or online writings, preaching, public presentations, or classroom notes.

    Fourth, Article 4 of the BFM 2000 provides an excellent definition of regeneration which I affirm. I am unable to see in that article that regeneration either precedes or follows repentance and faith temporally. Perhaps these are coterminous experiences.

    Fifth, I do not regard Dr. Schreiner’s reply during the Q&A to be a “smoking gun.” There were several reasons I didn’t include it in the original post. I didn’t regard his answer to be necessary for the post. Perhaps I was mistaken. Also, he provided a lengthy and complex answer. Why? During our 5 minute exchange, I asked a lengthy, multi-part question which I summarized to a single question for the post. But I probably spent as much time asking my question as he spent answering it. I was comfortable summarizing my lengthy question but I was uncomfortable summarizing his lengthy answer. I didn’t want to “put words in his mouth.”

    Since this morning’s post, several people (inside and outside this comment stream) have asked how he answered the question. I have not yet replied. I have nothing to hide on this matter. Schreiner gave an intelligent answer. But I didn’t intend for the point of the post to focus on how he answered my question. The point of the post was to compare the content of his presentation with the content of the BFM 2000 and provide a possible explanation (the AP) for why some seminary professors might unwittingly teach a particular view which seems contrary to our convention’s statement of faith.

    My recording of Schreiner’s presentation includes the Q&A session. I spent some time this afternoon playing and re-playing our 5 minute exchange in order to transcribe the entire dialogue. Because the dialogue was at a public academic presentation (rather than over coffee or via e-mail) and because my promise to neither quote nor distribute his paper did not extend to the Q&A dialogue, I will consider releasing both the audio recording (which is low-quality) and the transcript if that would be helpful.

    Sixth, the proposed solution you offer in your second to the last paragraph is one solution among Christians. My argument in this post is that such a view cannot be established by the words of Article 3 of the BFM 2000.

    Blessings, brother.

    In Him,
    Adam

    Ben Simpson

    Adam,

    First, I suppose my tone came from the fact that I was taken aback that you are going after one of the premiere scholars of the Southern Baptist Convention, even of contemporary Christendom in my opinion, for holding a historic Baptist doctrine. I just wanted to point out that the tables could just as easily be turned on you, my brother.

    Second, I didn’t intend my use of the word “game” to communicate that you are not taking this seriously. I was simply using a common idiom. Most certainly what you are doing is not a game in the literal since. In fact, you are implying nothing less than the firing of Dr Schreiner and many others.

    Third, as for your theological positions, where did I misrepresent you? Are you implying that you do hold to the position that regeneration precedes repentance and faith?

    Fourth, perhaps regeneration and faith are coterminous experiences, but the BF&M2000 doesn’t express that, which puts you in dangerous territory in light of a strict interpretation.

    Fifth, I’m not sure why you didn’t regard Dr. Schreiner’s reply during the Q&A necessary for the post. Your entire post is raising a question that challenges Dr Schreiner’s status as a SBC professor. What’s more, you apparently asked him the very question your post raises and then failed to provide his answer to this most important question which has great personal implication to Dr Schreiner. Most certainly his answer is necessary, and I’m glad you’re going to provide it. I’m looking forward to hearing his answer!

    Sixth, my proposed solution is within the grounds of Article 3 of the BFM 2000. At no point does it deny inherited guilt. I believe that the document purposefully doesn’t mention it to make room for both positions.

      lydia

      “In fact, you are implying nothing less than the firing of Dr Schreiner and many others.”

      Ben, Where on earth did you learn to think this way? Do you think that discussing an theological stance that was presented in a public venue is an attempt to “marginalize” someone and have them fired? I use that term because I am afraid that is where you learned to think like that. Cannot adults discuss serious issues without it being perceived as a threat?

      You do realize what it means if you really believe that? It means never questioning the teaching or position of anyone who has been labeled by some as a great authority. Do you really want that? Is that where the SBC is going?

      Ben Simpson

      Lydia,

      Was that “marginalized” comment a cloaked reference to Dr Mohler? I’m not surprised with such coming from you and your crew.

      Since you challenged my thinking, let me put it back to you. Read, think, and then answer the following question: Was Dr Harwood merely 1) questioning the rightness of Dr Schreiner’s position, or was he 2) questioning the rightness of Dr Schreiner to teach his position at a SBC entity? I can see the wheels turning already!

      The article was most certainly and completely dealing with #2. If you’re still not convinced, just read that last two questions of his article again. He’s not just having a discussion about theology. He’s having a discussion about employment in a SBC entity.

      No, Dr Harwood didn’t explicitly call for the firing of Dr Schreiner, but that’s the implication. Dr Harwood is convinced that Dr Schreiner’s position is contrary to the BF&M2000 and is at least implying that Dr Schreiner should not be teaching at a SBC entity. If you can’t see that, then YOU need to learn to think.

        lydia

        “No, Dr Harwood didn’t explicitly call for the firing of Dr Schreiner, but that’s the implication. Dr Harwood is convinced that Dr Schreiner’s position is contrary to the BF&M2000 and is at least implying that Dr Schreiner should not be teaching at a SBC entity. If you can’t see that, then YOU need to learn to think.”

        I am trying. :o)
        So, If I take your declaration in question #2 to it’s logical conclusion then Dr. Schreiner may not be the only one. And if I take your declaration further then I have to wonder why you think Dr. Harwood has the power you seem to have automatically bestowed upon him. If he does not have such power, why be so vitriolic about the questions?

        My guess is that Dr. Schriener is not even as insulted as you seem to be. I do not know him but publicly he seems an irenic fellow.

        You moved from the 2 questions at the end of the post for discussion to implying he has no right to ask the questions and since he does, it is obviously for personal nefarious reasons against Dr. Schriener. Where does that thinking come from?

        You are trying to put me in your box. No go. I ask you back, can we not discuss questions that are obvious to many that need to be discussed without you feeling threatened or declaring someone’s intentions when they have not been declared?

        If we cannot ponder hard questions on an obvious issue, we are done. We are authoritarian, controlling and censoring. All dictatorships try to censor what they do not want discussed. They make it a crime or a sin. Are we not adult enough to have discussions where there is strong disagreement?

        I am starting to think the questions asked are very uncomfortable and that is the real problem. It might scare some to have them in a public venue. People might start thinking…..:o)

Tim Rogers

Ben,

we are conceived in guilt because of our federal head Adam but God does not hold us accountable for that guilt until we are capable of moral action

You just presented a hypocritical God. The bible tells us that “judgement is without mercy” (James 2:13). If one is conceived in guilt and that guilt follows the offspring and that offspring dies before becoming capable of moral action then there will be no mercy shown.

Help me understand your rationalization of your and Dr. Schreiner’s positions.

    Ben Simpson

    Tim,

    I’m thankful for the example of the Bereans. I’m not sure why you misquoted James 2:13 (other than to prooftext maybe). It doesn’t just say, “Judgement is without mercy,” as you say. You forgot to finish the verse, which puts the first part in a completely different light. James 2:13 says, “For judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment.”

    Now as for my reasoning, this all boils down to the question of the eternal state of little children who die before trusting in Christ. I’ve never thought about how James 2:13 bears on this topic until you half-quoted it, but it certainly does. All children, guilty as they are, will find mercy in judgment because they’ve never been merciless to anybody. For them, mercy triumphs over judgment! Thanks, Tim, for the golden nugget!

    What particularly drives me to me to say that we inherit the guilt of Adam at conception is Romans 5, which I believe tells us that death means guilt. Do children die before the age of accountability? Sadly they do–some before birth and some after. Death indicates guilt. One cannot separate the inherited consequence of death from inherited guilt. The wages of sin is death (Rom 6:23). The only way a baby has earned that is by being imputed with Adam’s wicked work.

    If children before the moment of accountability are innocent, then none of them would die. Therefore, I understand the Scripture to teach that we inherit Adam’s culpability (guilt) along with his consequence (death) and his corruption (sin nature), and all that takes effect at our conception.

    I’ll not fill the comment stream with my full answer to the question of the eternal state of little children who die before trusting in Christ. If you’re interested, I’ve given my answer here: http://westmainbaptist.com/broben/the-eternal-destiny-of-little-ones-who-die-before-trusting-christ. My basic position is that all children who die before the moment of accountability will go to heaven not because they are innocent (as you and Dr Harwood would say), but rather because although they are guilty of Adam’s sin and eventually their own, they are graciously not held accountable by God due to natural inability. In other words, they are not held accountable because they do not have the natural, developmental ability to understand the glory of God or the gospel. So, they have an excuse, and God excuses them by grace. Their sin was imputed to Jesus, and Jesus’ righteousness is imputed to them. Again, nobody will be in heaven based upon their own righteousness or lack of unrighteousness.

    You charge me with putting forth a hypocritical God, but I’ve actually put for a consistent God. Every person who will be in heaven will be there because of Jesus Christ. I have all of heaven going in by God’s grace through Jesus’ sinlessness. You have a portion of heaven going in by their own sinlessness. I say all young children are guilty sinners, but God mercifully doesn’t hold them accountable because they have an excuse (guilty but not accountable). You say they are innocent, which means you have a multitude in heaven who will be there because they earned it, or at least didn’t lose it by actually sinning. My consistent view has every person who will be in heaven there only because of what Jesus earned.

      Carl Peterson

      Ben,

      I enjoyed your post and agree with much of it. We have different views as to whether or not some infants will go to heaven or not but that is okay and for another discussion. I agree that one cannot have the wages of death without being guilty of sin. I think this is proven in Romans but possibly also in Genesis because Adam did not die until he was guilty of sin. For me it just does not fit because a punishment comes before any guilt from a crime or sin. Thus God (in the view of BFM promoted on this site) is punishing young children who have not actually committed a sinful act and are not guilty. Why is He is punishing them with death or even an inclination towards sin and towards death and a life of estrangement from Him? I think that is something the Traidiotnalists have to answer.

      CARL

peter lumpkins

Dr. Harwood,

Well written reflecting a genuinely Christian scholarly gentleman. I hope Dr. Schreiner or other imputed Adamic guilt scholars interact with your cautious but nonetheless challenging reflection.

Grace.

With that, I am…
Peter

Carl Peterson

Adam,

Another thought provoking post. I think you know my problems with the view that one can be punished by God (inherit an inclination towards sin) and yet not be guilty before God. I think this makes God into a punisher of the innocent. Why should a baby want to sin if the baby is not guilty of anything? What does this make God out to be? Why would God allow children to die who had not yet become transgressors and thus guilty? Again is that not punishment before guilt?

But alas! I think I am digressing from the main point of your article. It was not to debate article 3 once more. The subject was whether Schreiner and other SBC professors and leaders should be held to a strict understnading of the BFM 2000 or not. That is an issue for Baptists to figure out and I am no longer one. I do think that southern Baptists will have to much discussion clearing out the muddied waters of the language in the BFM 2000 or the SBC might split.

I think the most glaring weakness of the BFM 2000 is that it is a completely rigid document. I am presbyterian and thus affirm the Westminister standards. However, I am allowed to disagree with the Westminister standards where it does not line up with my understanding completely. For example I disagree with some of the teachings regarding the Sabbath. I was allowed to not accept those teachings but still accept the WCF. Some doctrines I must believe like the incarantion. But the WCF is flexible in order to give a wider viewpoint. The BFM does not.

If the BFM was just a bare bones “This is Orthodox Christianity” statement then that would be fine. Or if even it was a bare bones Baptist document but it is not. It has teachings on women and other views that go beyond a bare bones Baptist document. In an intersting way the doctrines regarding women in ministry are treated with the same force as the doctrines of the Trinity and the incarantion. I am a complementarian but that is besdies the point. I think that is a mistake. And I think the weakness of the BFM is being displayed here. This issue is one that conservative Baptist disagree. Why not let the disagreement instead of creating a BFM that makes one side have to choose? Oh well maybe it is for the best.

Again I affirm that I went to SWBTS and never heard once anyone teach that men are born not guilty until they become actual transgressors. Not once. I have never heard it in any church I have been a member. I did hear that I should never marry anyone whose wife will ever had to work to support the home. I have also heard that birth control is wrong. I have heard many things but not that babies are born without guilt.

    lydia

    “In an intersting way the doctrines regarding women in ministry are treated with the same force as the doctrines of the Trinity and the incarantion”

    Carl, Something we can finally agree on but not for the same reasons. :o)

    “I did hear that I should never marry anyone whose wife will ever had to work to support the home. I have also heard that birth control is wrong. I have heard many things but not that babies are born without guilt.”

    This could be because while engaged in the culture war, we put doctrinal wars aside, until now?

      Carl Peterson

      Lydia,

      I said: “I did hear that I should never marry anyone whose wife will ever had to work to support the home. I have also heard that birth control is wrong. I have heard many things but not that babies are born without guilt.”

      You said “This could be because while engaged in the culture war, we put doctrinal wars aside, until now?”

      I say: okay but I think many who would be on the conservative side would disagree with the teachings I quoted. the prof. who was teaching the latter was telling this to many whose wives were working to help put those students through seminary. In my experience at SWBTS many if not most wives of students worked. Also I see no biblical reason to agree with that statement. These kinds of statements take conservative Baptist thought and bring it into the exterme fringe of conservative Christianity and dare I say a hint of fundamentalism.
      Carl

        lydia

        “These kinds of statements take conservative Baptist thought and bring it into the exterme fringe of conservative Christianity and dare I say a hint of fundamentalism.”

        I agree. Poor women have always worked to earn income for the family. Some picked cotton with babies strapped to their backs.

    Donald

    “If the BFM was just a bare bones “This is Orthodox Christianity” statement then that would be fine. Or if even it was a bare bones Baptist document but it is not”

    You misunderstand the document. It is a statement of commonly held beliefs among Southern Baptist drawn by consensus from the churches themselves, with a focus on issues of the time in which it is written. It is what it is, nothing more. It is certainly not complete.

      Carl Peterson

      donald,

      I do not know if it could simply be that since it is being used as a document that professors and others have to sign in order to pass the “I am a true Baptist” test.

        Donald

        Carl,
        Actually, it is being used in order to pass the “I’m going to take Cooperative Program Dollars so I need to share the common beliefs of the Southern Baptist who pay me” test. We’re talking about a professor at an SBC Seminary here, and YES I do want them to pass this test if they are taking my dollars.

          Carl Peterson

          Donald,

          Thank you for making my point. So you agree with me. The BFM is being used as a test to make sure profs. are teaching Southern Baptist doctrines. It is the measuring rod as to if a prof. is interpreting scripture correctly (at least in the doctrines that are in the BFM).

          CARL

            Donald

            Carl,
            Was that your point? I assumed that it is a given that Southern Baptists demand that those who make a living from their tithes and offerings ought to teach in accordance with the beliefs of those who pay the professors’ salaries.

            Carl Peterson

            Donald,

            My point was just that the BFM is being used as a statement that this is what it means to be a Southern Baptist. I think the BFM is not a very good document for that purpose since it does not have ways for those with slight differences with the document to disagree and remain in the group. It delves into doctrines of importance but not ultimate importance even for Southern Baptist identitiy so I think the document is flawed.

Drew Wales

Dr. Harwood,

I appreciate the chart demonstrating the differences between the AP and BFM. I do find it interesting where you noted the difference between the statements on the nature of man. You said:

“Notice the different inheritance: a nature which is initially opposed to God and His law (AP) rather than a nature inclined toward sin (BFM).”

You also raised some objections and in one of the replies you stated “Some earlier confessions do make particular affirmations that are not found in the BFM. But I am not bound by any of those confessions.” You also correctly noted that the BFM Committee retained the language from the BFM 1963 in the BFM 2000 on this article.

You failed, however, at recognizing that in the preamble to the BFM 1963 it clearly says that ” In no case has it sought to delete from or to add to the basic contents of the 1925 Statement.”

This poses a problem for your interpretation. The BFM 1925 clearly affirmed inherited guilt, which was in line with the AP and the changes in 1963 were not meant “to delete or add to” the 1925. The BFM 2000 must not be read in a vacuum and must be read in light of the preceding documents, especially the AP.

The AP predates the BFM and it still serves as an active document in two of our seminaries. If the BFM 2000 contradicts the AP then we have a serious problem. What we have is professors teaching in accordance with something other than the BFM 2000, which would make them something other than Southern Baptist.

    Adam Harwood

    Drew,

    It’s nice to meet you. Thanks for your comments.

    Is it your position that:
    – because the Article 3 of the BFM 2000 draws heavily from the BFM 1963 and…
    – because the BFM 1963 preamble states that the committee did not intend to add or subtract from the 1925 edition…
    – in order to correctly understand the BFM 2000 we must depend on the BFM 1925? If that were true, then why don’t SBC employees sign the BFM 1925?

    I value our earlier Anabaptist and Baptist statement of faith. They inform our present understanding. But I am not bound by any other statement of faith, including the Abstract of Principles. It is a fine document but if our convention of churches had preferred to adopt the AP, they would have done so. They didn’t. Not in 1925. Not in 1963. Not in 2000. Our convention of churches crafted and adopted a different document in 1925, the BFM. And they revised it. Twice. Today, we have the BFM 2000.

    The “preceding document” I consult in order to clarify the BFM 2000 is neither the BFM 1925 nor the AP but the Bible.

    Moving to your last paragraph, you state:

    – “The AP predates the BFM and it still serves as an active document in two of our seminaries.”
    I agree.

    – “If the BFM 2000 contradicts the AP then we have a serious problem.”
    Again, I agree. That is precisely the issue I am attempting to raise in my post.

    – “What we have is professors teaching in accordance with something other than the BFM 2000, which would make them something other than Southern Baptist.”
    I kindly suggest that you have jumped to an unnecessary conclusion and it is not a conclusion I endorse. My post illustrates a possible instance of one professor who affirms one point (inherited guilt) which does not seem consistent with the BFM 2000. The professor’s teaching on the issue in question (inherited guilt) is consistent with one of his seminary’s statements, the AP. My argument is that such an affirmation is inconsistent with the seminary’s convention-affirmed statement, the BFM 2000. This scenario in no way makes the professor “something other than Southern Baptist.” This simply means that professors at two seminaries are required to sign two statements of faith which seem to conflict on this significant point.

    I haven’t yet heard this solution proposed: Perhaps the AP should be revised to reflect the convention’s current statement of faith, the BFM 2000.

    Blessings, brother.

    In Him,
    Adam

      Donald

      Adam,
      Perhaps you can clarify something for me concerning the Abstract of Principles. It seems the point of contention between the AP and the BF&M is in Article V1 and specifically the phrase “are under condemnation”. If these words were removed there would be no seeming conflict.

      My question: Must the term “under condemnation” only mean damnation? When I first read the Abstract of Principles posted in the grand foyer at Stealey Hall I understood this as condemnation to physical death.

        Adam Harwood

        Great question! If “condemnation” we’re only regarded to be physical death, then they would be free from guilt. Schreiner, though, affirms Murray’s view: Infant death demonstrates their condemnation. When using the word condemnation in this way, Schreiner and Murray both mean guilt.

        Blessings, brother.

        In Him,
        Adam

Ron F. Hale

Dr. Harwood,
A very interesting article, thank you for sharing your scholarship in this area!

The AP was greatly influenced by the Charleston Tradition and especially men like Basil Manly, Jr. and John A. Broadus who attended Princeton Seminary and were soundly “reformed” by Dr. Charles Hodge — and they “transplanted” the Tulip over into SBTS.

BTW …I have truly enjoyed your book: the Spiritual Condition of Infants!

Blessings!

D.R. Randle

Adam,

Unfortunately, I think your article here fails to take in account a number of issues related to confessions vs. creeds and prescription vs. description. But I don’t have time to dive into all that such a discussion entails. Therefore I will simply say that the answer to your 1st question is most certainly “NO” and here’s why:

1) It is false to say that the two statements on this matter from each document (the AP & BF&M 2000) contradict each other.

The BF&M says, “Through the temptation of Satan man transgressed the command of God, and fell from his original innocence whereby his posterity inherit a nature and an environment inclined toward sin. Therefore, as soon as they are capable of moral action, they become transgressors and are under condemnation.” What it does not say is that individuals most certainly do not inherit original guilt. Never does the BF&M 2000 deny this. It simply doesn’t speak of it. In fact, as a historic Reformed Baptist in the vein of Boyce and Broadus, I can actually affirm what is written here as true. However, I would add to this statement my own personal belief, which is in keeping with the BF&M 1925 and the AP. The 1963 in no way denies original guilt, rather it seems to ignore such as a test of fellowship.

2) While you have spent most of your time answering possible objections to the idea that the AP and BF&M 2000 say two contradictory things about inherited nature/guilt, you seem to have ignored the question of whether the 1963 or 2000 BF&M Committees purposely changed this article in order to reject inherited guilt as a legitimate Southern Baptist theological viewpoint.

Drew Wales pointed this out to you up above and you failed to understand his point – opting instead to sidestep it. His point was, as he stated quite well, “The BFM 2000 must not be read in a vacuum and must be read in light of the preceding documents, especially the AP.” You sidestepped his point by suggesting that he was saying that the SBC is bound to previous documents in the same way that they are bound to the BF&M 2000 (which was, in fact, a far cry from his point). Understood properly, Drew affirmed that the BF&M 1963 committee deliberately chose wording that was different from the Confessions that came before it. However, there is no indication they did so in order to reject inherited guilt (and certainly Dr. Mohler did not affirm such a thing in 2000 by not seeking to change it back). Furthermore, the statement in the 1963 Preamble concerning deletion and addition of the core beliefs of the 1925 would seem to override any notion that this was their intent. And nothing in the Preamble or in the writings of Hershel Hobbs tell us that such a change was made to reject a previously affirmed SBC belief.

Thus, the burden of proof lies with you to prove that the 1963 and 2000 committees sought to reject inherited guilt as a legitimate view for Southern Baptists. Otherwise, we must accept based on the Preamble’s wording that they did not intend to wholly reject it.

3) Perhaps you have failed to consider another option – that the 1963 Committee chose the wording of Article 3 to reflect a growing number of Southern Baptists who had rejected inherited guilt and allow for a broader position on this point.

This seems to make much more sense, especially in light of the entire purpose for the 1963 Revision, which A.J. Smith claims in his book The Making of the Baptist Faith and Message (2008, Wipf and Stock – the same company that published your book I believe) was “to avert an immediate denominational split through the reformulation of key historic Baptist doctrines, wording some broadly to allow for widely divergent interpretations without sacrificing the Convention’s conservative base.” It seems that the changes to Article 3 would be best explained by such a purpose and not by a desire to reject inherited guilt as a legitimate viewpoint of SBC Churches, employees, or professors.

Given these three reasons, I would add that if it cannot be proven by you or others that the 1963 Committee sought to reject inherited guilt as a legitimate doctrinal view for Southern Baptists (or that the 2000 Committee affirmed the Statement on Man in agreement with such a viewpoint), then the following conclusions should be made:

1. Inherited guilt, having previously been affirmed by many (if not most) of the Founders of the Southern Baptist Convention, should be seen as an historic, Orthodox position within the SBC, but one that need not be affirmed by all Southern Baptists.
2. This change is better seen as a move by the 1963 Committee to broaden the doctrinal parameters on the Doctrine of Man, rather than further limiting them beyond the scope of many of the SBC Founders, as well as some SBC Churches, pastors, laypeople, professors, and denominational employees serving in 1963 and beyond.
3. Therefore, the deletion of a strict statement on inherited guilt within Article III of the 1963 & 2000 BF&M documents cannot be seen as a rejection of this view, nor as a current test of fellowship for employees and professors of the Convention.

Finally Adam, should you object that the intention of the 1963 Committee for changing the wording on Article 3 does not matter, then you would be making the same error as the liberals who chose to interpret the phrase “The criterion by which the Bible is to be interpreted is Jesus Christ” in a way that far outstripped the original intention of the 1963 Committee. The intention of any such change is vital to interpretation, as these statements (as Drew points out above) are not created in a vacuum.

Therefore, in response to your 2nd question, I conclude (and I think you should too) that while the professors of Southern Baptist Seminaries should indeed be held to the BF&M 2000, on this issue of inherited guilt there is no necessary contradiction or proof of such valid enough to make the claim that Dr. Schreiner (or any other SBC professor) should violate their conscience or the trust of the SBC Churches by holding to such a view.

    Norm Miller

    Just a few thoughts, D.R. pertaining to your concluding list:
    1. Historicity doesn’t necessarily equate to orthodoxy. If not all SBC founders were Reformed, then shouldn’t their historic positions also be considered orthodox? Your logic says yes.
    2. Unless you have interviewed the 1963 BFM panel, you, nor anyone else, can say with certitude their intent on the points in question. And what you and others seem to be ignoring is that the BFM is the officially adopted statement of SBC faith — not the AP, or the ’25 and ’63 BFM statements. it is perfectly fair to review those statements and opine about them, but none of them are the official SBC statement of faith. That is why I reject calling the latest BFM the “BFM 2000.” Southern Baptist have but one official statement of faith, and it is not the AP.
    3. You say the “deletion of a strict statement on inherited guilt within Article III of the 1963 & 2000 BF&M documents cannot be seen as a rejection of this view.” Of course it can. Your speculative statement must also allow for the inverse. If it doesn’t, then whatever reasoning negates the inverse view can also be inverted to reject your speculations as well. Please be cautious about stating your opinion as fact.
    Regarding the “test of fellowship” you noted: This was the sort of verbiage moderates used to defend profs at SBTS back in the CR days, so this plea is not new. Southern Baptists then demanded that those who made a living from their tithes and offerings ought to teach in accordance with the beliefs of those who paid the professors’ salaries. The next cry was “academic freedom.” Again, the same financial/theological accountability applies. And when one considers that the LifeWay survey noted 60 percent of Southern Baptists have concerns about encroaching Cavinism – that makes Dr. Harwood’s article all the more apropos. — Norm

      lydia

      “1. Historicity doesn’t necessarily equate to orthodoxy. If not all SBC founders were Reformed, then shouldn’t their historic positions also be considered orthodox? Your logic says yes.”

      Very true!

      One of the things not taken into consideration is ‘when’ the AP was written. Before the Civil War. Some may scoff at that but losing the war was a huge wake up call for some who followed the determinist God paradigm of Calvinism in the South which was wrapped up in the slavery issue. Boyce really believed that slavery was positive because it made it possible to disciple the slaves.

      We see a movement away from the determinist God of Calvinism over the next 50 years or so in the SBC as seen in the 1925 BFM.

    Adam Harwood

    DR,

    Thanks for your note. You put a lot of thought and time into your post and I appreciate you doing so.

    To respond thoroughly to every issue you have raised would require a couple of hours. But I want to offer a reply in order to acknowledge that I have read and considered your points.

    This is my reply:

    – The BFM can be interpreted to affirm inheriting a sinful nature only or to affirm inheriting a sinful nature and Adam’s guilt.
    – Schreiner affirms a view of inherited sinful nature AND inherited guilt. This view IS consistent with the BFM.?
    – The problem is this: Schreiner seems to reject the inherited sinful nature only view when it is NOT accompanied by an affirmation that we inherit Adam’s guilt. But that’s an acceptable interpretation; in my view, it’s the PLAIN reading of Article 3.
    ?- That is why I regard Schreiner’s view to be contrary to the BFM.

    Blessings, brother.

    In Him,
    Adam

Ray

Dr. Harwood,

The two questions at the end of your essay:

1. Is Dr. Schreiner’s view of inherited guilt/condemnation contrary to the BFM 2000?

2. Do we expect SBC professors to teach according to the BFM?

Your implication is that Dr. Schreiner’s view is indeed contrary to the BFM 2000 and that indeed we should expect that SBC professors teach according to the BFM. If those are your implications then should it not follow that you should call for Dr. Schreiner to be fired? If the answers to your questions are yes then Dr. Schreiner must be relieved of his duties because he has signed the BFM with his fingers crossed. I do not think that Dr. Schreiner’s position is contrary to the BFM but consistent with it. But the logical conclusion of your essay, as best I can see, is that Dr. Schreiner is teaching in opposition to a document that he has promised to uphold. If that is what you are implying, it is a serious charge. If that is what Dr. Schreiner is doing then what choice does SBTS have at this point? Forgive me if I have misunderstood and as always thank you for your hard work.

    Tim Rogers

    Ray,

    Let me jump in for Dr. Harwood. I am not his spokesman nor do I carry his water, he can do that much better than I. Dr. Harwood is not going to openly call on a colleague to be fired. Even during the CR no conservative profs called on liberal profs to be fired. What we called on them to do was be honest about their beliefs and teach with integrity. Many of the people used double-speak to get around much of what the issues were. Double-speak was perfected at SBTS and Dr. Mohler was the teaching fellow to the president whom Dr. Jerry Johnson accused of not believing the scriptures. SBTS has learned well “double-speak”. For example in 1992 Dr. Mohler said something like ‘I praise God that he has returned SBTS to her confessional roots and it is my intention that she adhere to her confession’. For conservatives we heard that we were getting back to the belief in the inerrancy of the scriptures and Southern was where we held tenaciously to that believe when Boyce gave Crawford Toy his walking papers because Toy was teaching contrary to the Scriptures and that placed him teaching contrary to the AP. What Dr. Mohler was referencing was not the scriptures but the 5 points of Calvinism that Dr. Boyce adhered to.

    Had SB’s understood Dr. Mohler was speaking of Calvinism there would have been a huge resistance. Dr. Mohler is the reason that Bill Leonard made his statements concerning the future split of the convention. Leonard’s statement was not a reference to fundamentalism it was a reference to Calvinism.

    As to your perspective of Dr. Harwood’s article and Dr. Schreiner teaching contrary to the BF&M you are correct. But Dr. Schreiner is not teaching contrary to the AP, which is Dr. Harwood’s point. We find ourselves in a dilemma in that we have two statements that are contrary one to another. That is his point.

      Ray

      Thank you for your perspective. I understand that Dr. Harwood is not \”openly\” calling for anyone to be fired but firing the non adherent to the BFM 2000 is the necessary answer to Dr. Harwood\’s argument (it seems). Dr. Harwood\’s questions:
      1. Is Dr. Schreiner’s view of inherited guilt/condemnation contrary to the BFM 2000?

      2. Do we expect SBC professors to teach according to the BFM?

      It seems clear enough in Dr. Harwood\’s essay that he believes that Dr. Schreiner\’s view of inherited guilt/condemnation is contrary to the BFM 2000. And it seems equally clear that he thinks that SBC professors are to teach according to the BFM. Therefore it seems to be reasonably logical to conclude that though Dr. Harwood is not \”openly\” calling for Dr. Schreiner to be fired that is his strong implication at least. In reality the BFM 2000 is graciously broad (in the most positive sense of the word) allowing for Harwood\’s and Schreiner\’s views to co-exist and therefore for Schreiner (and others) to embrace the Abstract of Principles all the while holding to the BFM. If we are calling for everyone to come clean on their beliefs–then we should not be so subtle about our implications. If Dr. Schreiner holds a contradictory view to a clear statement in the BFM and the BFM is the binding doctrinal standard of the SBC then SBTS seminary has no choice but to \”fire him before midnight\” to use a Bailey Smith phrase (he used in reference to liberals during the CR). Of course I do not believe that Dr. Schreiner should be fired. He is orthodox in his theology and his teaching on inherited guilt is consistent with the BFM (built upon earlier statements without denying any of them). Thank you.

Rick Warren

Adam reveals a very important distinction that I had not noticed between BF&M and Abstract. Saddleback has always held to the BF & M, but I’ve always loved some of the wordings in parts of the Abstract. This article was helpful, and so are many of the comments afterward.. Rick Warren, Saddleback Church

    Norm Miller

    Thank you, Rick, for your remarks. Though other notable Southern Baptists are reading Dr. Harwood’s article, I am curious why they have yet to comment. — Norm

    Adam Harwood

    Pastor Rick,

    Thank you for weighing in on this important topic.

    I heard your interview earlier this week in which you discussed “The Purpose Driven Life: What on Earth Am I Here For?” Count me among one of the many readers of the original edition who was encouraged in my walk with the Lord by reading the prior edition. May God continue to bless your ministry.

    In Him,
    Adam

Jim G.

Hi all,

Let me first say that I have deep respect for both Tom Schreiner and Adam Harwood. Both are doing the kingdom of God a great service with their teaching and scholarship and calling on one or the other to be fired is just plain silly. We are missing the bigger picture.

The SBC (and Baptists as a whole), because of their twin roots (Anabaptism and English/Dutch Reformed), are the latest installment of an epic historical clash that predates our existence by over 1000 years. Ever since Augustine’s innovative ideas concerning providence and anthropology, there have been two competing visions of the Christian message. They can roughly be divided as Eastern (pre-Augustinian) and Western (Augustinian). Because of cultural, geographical, and linguistic barriers. these two visions existed side by side through the Dark Ages and early Middle Ages. One of the tipping points for their division (the Great Schism of 1054) was the “filioque” clause in the West. The Great Schism will “celebrate” its millennial anniversary in 42 years.

The Anabaptist movement (for reasons too complex to state here) largely mirrored the Eastern view of God and humanity. The reformed view clung tightly to Augustine. Those twin sources are now working in SBC life. What we have in our midst is two competing visions of Christianity, though now they go by the names of “Trad” and “Calvinist.” The names vary every few centuries. It is the visions behind the names that do not change.

In SBC life, we argue over the primacy of faith and regeneration, the extent of the atonement, election, the resistibility of grace, and the like. What we fail to see is that these discussions are the outworkings of a greater and deeper divergence in theology proper and anthropology. We are discussing symptoms and ignoring the disease.

Here’s the deal: Augustine had a fundamentally differing concept of God and his work from that of the Eastern fathers. This led to a divergence in the doctrines of providence and anthropology (a divergence given 600+ years led to the Great Schism). It is from providence and anthropology that we derive our differing conceptions of (original) sin (and hence original guilt), the person and work of both Christ and the Spirit, salvation, and the church. The divergence in providence and anthropology (that seems slight to everyone but the theologian, it seems) leads to the wider divergence in the soteriological doctrines that derive from them.

If we really want to unify ourselves, we have to go back and theologically hammer out a consistent doctrine of providence and a consistently Christian anthropology. We as Baptists have neither. Instead, we have piggybacked on our theological forefathers without rethinking to see if what we believe is truly consistent with either the whole counsel of Scripture or the teaching of the church universal. If we are willing to do this, we can avert our own “Great Schism.” If not, it will happen sooner or later. we must learn from history or we are doomed to repeat it.

Jim G.

    Carl Peterson

    Jim G.,

    Interesting post. I have studied the Eastern Orthodox and while they are more similiar to Arminians than Calvinists, I have never thought of AnaBaptists as being super similiar to the Eastern Orthodox regarding God and humanity. Maybe I have really focused more on how the EOs are very Trinitarian in theology and spirituality compared to all of the West (except a small few, i.e. John Owen) to see the real connection. Where can I find more information about the similarities between the two and perhaps the similiarties vs. the reformed approach? I do guess though one would have to choose the right strand of Anabaptists since not all were very Orthodox. Again I have studied the Eastern church Fathers. Gregory the Theologian and Cyril of Alexnadria are two of my favorite theologians. I have also studied some of the contemporary EO theologians (Behr, McGuckin, Florovsky, Staniloae, Lossky, etc. ) but do not see a real connection between EOs and Anabaptists or Arminians (even though EOs are more similiar in certain aspects of theology to Arminians. Anyways, any help and guidance would be appreciated.

      Jim G.

      Hi Carl,

      When I say Anabaptist, I mean the orthodox ones such as the Swiss Brethren and Mennonites. I don’t think there is an explicit theological connection between them (as in Menno or Hubmaier following Gregory or Cyril), but I do think there is a practical connection in that the orthodox Anabaptists are much more Eastern in their anthropology and providence than Augustinian, at least as far as I can see. The Anabaptists did not follow Augustine’s axioms in these areas with any degree of consistency.

      Arminians, however, are Augustinian at least part-way. They affirm Augustinian original sin while rejecting Augustinian original guilt. They affirm Augustine’s pessimistic view of humanity but allow for libertarian choice is salvation due to universal prevenient grace. They affirm, as do the Eastern fathers, of conditional election based on foreknowledge and reject Augustinian determinism on both the cosmic and individual levels. Arminians are sort of a blend of East and West. While I am unclear whether or not Arminius was influenced by the East, I know Wesley held an affinity for EO. Calvinists, of course, are thoroughly Augustinian, and some (5-pointers) advance beyond Augustine.

      Again, I don’t think there is a specific way to “connect dots.” What I see is the Anabaptist rejection of Augustinian axioms (which alone leads them closer to EO) and Arminian rejection of some of them (which makes them a blend). Some contemporary SBs reject the Augustinian axioms too. Some hold some and reject others. Some follow Augustine to a tee. Augustine really is the main player in this discussion. He casts a very long shadow. Hope that helps, Carl.

      Jim G.

    lydia

    “We are discussing symptoms and ignoring the disease” and “we must learn from history or we are doomed to repeat it.”

    Boy is that the truth. Good information in your comment

    Ron F. Hale

    Jim G,

    I have enjoyed your posts!

    You state: “If we really want to unify ourselves, we have to go back and theologically hammer out a consistent doctrine of providence and a consistently Christian anthropology. We as Baptists have neither. Instead, we have piggybacked on our theological forefathers without rethinking to see if what we believe is truly consistent with either the whole counsel of Scripture or the teaching of the church universal.”

    This is why Dr. Eric Hankins has written, “After four hundred years, Calvinism and Arminianism remain at an impasse. The strengths and weaknesses of both systems are well-documented, and their proponents vociferously aver each system’s mutural exclusivity. This paper is based on the observation that these two theological programs have had sufficient time to demonstrate their superiority over the other and have failed to do so. The time has come, therefore, to look beyond them for a paradigm that gives a better account of the biblical and theological data.” (Journal for Baptist Theology and Ministry, Spring 2001, New Orleans Seminary).

    Are you two saying the same thing?

      Jim G.

      Hi Ron,

      I think Eric and I are saying the same thing. I am advocating leaving the Augustinian philosophical/theological synthesis of nature and grace. Both Calvinism and Arminianism are heavily indebted to Augustine’s ideas and I think both are a theological dead end. They have spend the better part of the last 4 centuries blowing holes in each other’s arguments. Each has indeed demonstrated the other’s fatal shortcomings.

      My point is that Baptists are re-living the same fight that the unified catholic/orthodox church fought in the 7th – 11th centuries. The church of that period was not able to overcome Augustine’s synthesis either. If we do not, we will split. It may take a year, or 2, or 50. But it is coming.

      Jim G.

Adam Harwood

Friends,

At the risk of opening a theological can of worms and leaving the room before all of the worms are back in the can, I must extricate myself from this comment stream.

After investing several hours on Tuesday and Wednesday writing this post and several more hours yesterday crafting replies, I am simply out of time. I haven’t read the comments since last night–not because I am uninterested but because I spent the morning teaching classes. I have a stack of student papers that need to be graded, kids to pick up from school, and a date night with my wife. I’m not providing that list to complain–I’m a blessed man–but to explain why your interesting comments and questions may go unanswered. It’s not because I don’t value your thoughts. I simply have other commitments which require my attention. By the time Monday or Tuesday rolls around, I’m unsure it will be helpful to post replies.

Of course, this comment stream will probably continue without me. Perhaps another blog or two will craft a reply. But I didn’t want to give the impression by not responding that I either don’t care or can’t formulate a reply.

I have received several private notes of encouragement and support on this post as well as a couple notes of concern–all from people who have not commented in this stream. Thanks to all who have taken the time to read my post and the subsequent comments.

In Him,
Adam

    Mary

    Adam Harwood,

    You leave the conversation without including Dr. Schreiner’s reply during the Q&A. WHAT????????????????? How can you do that????? Unbelievable behavior! I’ll remind you of what Ben Simpson wrote:

    “I’m not sure why you didn’t regard Dr. Schreiner’s reply during the Q&A necessary for the post. Your entire post is raising a question that challenges Dr Schreiner’s status as a SBC professor. What’s more, you apparently asked him the very question your post raises and then failed to provide his answer to this most important question which has great personal implication to Dr Schreiner. Most certainly his answer is necessary.”

    Yes! Most certainly Schreiner’s answer is necesary. It is absurd that you have not already included it!

      r smith

      I agree 100%.

      Adam Harwood

      Mary,

      Thanks for your note.

      You and Ben Simpson and r smith seem troubled that I didn’t provide Dr. Schreiner’s Q&A reply in my essay. I’ll explain.

      The position set forth in the essay does not depend on Dr. Schreiner’s answer. Why? The post is about the view he advanced in his academic presentation, not the exchange which followed his presentation. In other words, my post is not about how Schreiner answered whether his view conflicts with the BFM 2000 but whether his view actually contradicts Article 3 of the BFM 2000.

      I am not sure it would be fair to judge Schreiner’s view of inherited guilt/condemnation and determine whether his view is in accordance with the BFM 2000 based on the spontaneous, unscripted exchange between us.

      Schreiner invested many hours crafting a carefully-worded, thoroughly-researched academic paper. He spent a lot of time thinking through every word and the implication of the way he would present his biblical-theological position. Would it be fair for us to set aside his sophisticated, skillfully-nuanced position in favor of some remarks he made after his formal presentation? I think not.

      Including footnotes, Schreiner’s paper amounts to over 8,000 words. In addressing my lengthy, multi-part question, he spoke approximately 300 words. Would it be fair to judge his 8,000 measured words by his 300 spontaneous words? Again, I think not.

      Next, you quoted Ben, who wrote: “Your entire post is raising a question that challenges Dr Schreiner’s status as a SBC professor.”

      I flatly reject that characterization of my post. In what way did I challenge his status as a professor? Instead, I spoke highly of Dr. Schreiner:

      I note that he “has published widely in the field of biblical studies.”
      I reveal that I currently require students in one of my classes to purchase and read one of his commentaries.
      I write, “There is much to commend in the paper and I am thankful for Schreiner’s reflections on this difficult topic.”
      I also write: “He is a gifted scholar and I am thankful for his work. But no scholar is infallible.”

      The critiques that I provided relates to the particular view he articulated, not his status as a professor. Consider my comment:

      “But Schreiner’s view, which is standard fare in Reformed confessions and many systematic theologies, is that people come into the world under condemnation due to Adam’s sin. That is contrary to the BFM 2000.”

      That is a statement which critiques his view but makes no statement which “challenges Dr Schreiner’s status as a SBC professor” (Ben’s words which you echo and r smith affirms).

      You, Ben, and r smith wrongly assume that pointing out any difference between his view and the BFM is a challenge to his status as a professor. On the contrary, I point out the difference and provide this plausible explanation for such a contradiction: “Schreiner’s view may not be in line with the BFM but it is consistent with Southern Seminary’s other statement of faith, the Abstract of Principles. In that way, it is consistent with a founding document of Southern Baptists.”

      In this way, Schreiner’s view is inconsistent with our convention’s statement of faith (the BFM) but consistent with the other statement (the AP) at his institution. He is consistent with ONE statement of faith, just not the one which has been adopted by our convention.

      To summarize:
      It is Schreiner’s view that is in question here, not Schreiner’s answer to my question about how his view compares with Article 3 of the BFM 2000.
      By citing several quotations from the original post, I demonstrated that my post made only positive or neutral statements regarding Schreiner. This evidence refutes the claim that I challenged his status as a professor.

      Thank you (and Ben and r smith) for your comments. Blessings.

      In Him,
      Adam

Daniel Wilcox

Lydia,

Your comment “some who followed the determinist God paradigm of Calvinism in the South which was wrapped up in the slavery issue. Boyce really believed that slavery was positive because it made it possible to disciple the slaves.”

Wasn’t this theological view–that theological determinism– of many Baptists also one of the primary causes of segregation and intolerance for many years after the Civil War and well into the mid 20th century?

Why do you think so many Baptists are becoming determinists?

Last month my wife and I followed the Civil War trail of tears from battlefield to battlefield. And I studied even more books of the Civil War (already read for years) and the culmination of all of this was the shock again of realizing how much of the carnage was directly based in theological determinism.

There were many of the famous leaders, of course, who so emphasized hard Calvinism, but even many other individuals also took a fatalistic view of the war, claiming God or Nature was the cause of the war, even though they were the actual ones doing the actual slaughter and the destruction of homes and country-sides.

Even after Reconstruction, it was the “Redeemers” (how significant the religious term and how ironic) who saved the South.

How so very tragic. This is why I am so totally baffled by the incredibly huge movement of the last 20-30 years toward theological determinism in Evangelicalism in general and in Baptists in particular.

And the American Civil War and slavery is only two of many historical cases of the “fruit” of theological determinism. As I’m sure you know, George Whitefield, the Calvinist, was one of the main individuals who brought slavery to Georgia, back when it was banned! Then there were the Puritans, Cromwell, Knox….

Of course, theological determinism also sometimes brings goodness. For instance, Stonewall Jackson (besides causing the killing of thousands because God told him to and led him in even the smallest detail on the battlefield)
also, did good because he thought God was theologically determining everything. He taught his slaves in a Sunday school class every week.

If only the theological determinists would stop focusing on the power and sovereignty of God and remember that God humbled himself
for every person in love.

A number of astute thinkers have suggested the recent move toward theological determinism among Baptists and other Evangelicals, at least in part, stems from insecurity about the present crises in the world.

What is your view?

I was raised Baptist, my dad a Baptist minister, me a Baptist youth pastor before moving to high school teaching. Our middle name was Eternal Security:-), but
Baptist faith was the total opposite of determinism.

I can’t comprehend all the Christians I see flocking to determinism since Calvinism’s whole basis is that they are the “chosen few.” And by definition all the rest of were foreordained for eternal damnation.

I see no eternal security in that only the havoc of history past and eternal despair future.

Daniel

    lydia

    ” number of astute thinkers have suggested the recent move toward theological determinism among Baptists and other Evangelicals, at least in part, stems from insecurity about the present crises in the world.”

    I think a case could also be made it is a backlash to the shallow seeker movements that grew like crazy in the 80’s-90’s. The whole focus was an “felt needs’ consumer driven Christianity.

    I think the resurgence will eventually run it’s course as it has historically. But a lot of confusion and wounded left in it’s wake. I have met a few over the past few years.

    I am also aware that at least half of the population of the USA is no longer interested in Liberty which make them prime candidates for determinism. Decades of socialistic thinking has been the foundation of most curricula
    even in private schools and Christian colleges which adds to the problem of independent thinking and responsibility but fits nicely with determinism.

    Controlling authoritarian movements of all sorts are on the rise. I even saw it in business with the rise of leadership gurus that people were only too happy to pledge allegiance to.

      Daniel Wilcox

      Lydia says
      “I think a case could also be made it is a backlash to the shallow seeker movements that grew like crazy in the 80?s-90?s. The whole focus was an “felt needs’ consumer driven Christianity.”

      I don’t know about that since I’ve not been part of the “seeker movement” but am more of the anabaptist-type which focuses on sacrificing for those in need, in response to God’s love.

      Also, strangely, I personally know of two churches, one a huge Southern Baptist mega-church, which somehow combine both “seeker movement” and “hard Calvinism.” They present to visitors a “seeker sensitive” outlook, but when people become more committed, they emphasize hard theological determinism. Since I’m not either, I don’t understand.

      Then you add,
      “I am also aware that at least half of the population of the USA is no longer interested in Liberty which make them prime candidates for determinism….Controlling authoritarian movements of all sorts are on the rise.”

      I agree with this. There’s much talk of “freedom” by people, but when it comes to life I am amazed at how few subscribe to it practice. And notice how many secular people are opting for philosophical determinism like the New Atheists such as Sam Harris.

      I’m glad there are some leaders who are still emphasizing God’s love and will that everyone be saved and that God has given us a choice. And that unborn infants aren’t guilty in when conceived.

      Daniel

      Daniel

Mary

I have questions for Dr. Harwood:

Is it consistent with BFM and Baptist faith in general to conclude that there are a vast number of human beings who do not need salvation in Jesus Christ?

Is it consistent with BFM and Baptist faith in general (and even evangelicalism) to conclude that there are a vast number of human beings who will be in Heaven by virtue of their own sinlessness?

Is it consistent with BFM and Baptist faith in general to conclude that a vast number of human beings will have no need for the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross?

This, my friend, is the logical conclusion of your belief system Dr. Harwood.

Should a person who teaches that babies go to Heaven by virtue of their own virtue(!) and not by virtue of the death and resurrection in Christ be teaching in our SBC Seminaries??

That is the real question. My concern is that this doctrine which Dr. Harwood espouses, leads to clear heresy that is neither Baptist nor evangelical and was certainly never the intent of the drafters of the BFM.

    Adam Harwood

    Mary,

    Thanks for your note.

    You provided three questions which you regard to be logical conclusions of my view. I reject those statements and deny they are logical conclusions of my view.

    In order to read my detailed essay on this topic, I refer you to my June 6, 2012 article on this site entitled “Inherited Sinful Nature:
    A View Permissible as both Biblical and Baptist.” You can find the link on the right column of this site.

    Perhaps after reading the essay you will be persuaded that the claims you made regarding my view cannot be sustained. I am not asking that everyone agree with my view–only that it be accurately represented. Blessings.

    In Him,
    Adam

      Mary

      Dr. Harwood,

      I genuinely apologize for my use of the word “heresy” and any other harsh ways of speaking. I do not think that about you. And I am sorry.

      However, I think why I am so disturbed is because (in my personal understanding of what I read) you went after the jugular of a fine Baptist teacher’s teaching–a teaching which in my mind protects the fundemental biblical teaching that Jesus is the Savior of all mankind (including infants!). That no one will enter God’s presence without Jesus their Savior. In my mind (right or wrong) that is what you have done, and you did it using a doctrine, which can lead to serious doctrinal error, in my opinion. Moreover you did it using the BFM 2000, even though you must know full well that Albert Mohler as a Calvinist signer would disagree with you using the BFM to limit, rather than broaden, what teaching is acceptable in the SBC. With the previous BFMs and the Abstracts, and the Founders of our denomination, etc. the burden of proof is on you (for the limits you try to impose) not on Schreiner, who stands within its BFM’s broadness.

      I find it extremely hypocritical, for example, that many who responded to Ben Simpson’s comment here: ““Regeneration, or the new birth, is a work of God’s grace whereby believers become new creatures in Christ Jesus. It is a change of heart wrought by the Holy Spirit through conviction of sin, to which the sinner responds in repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ,” (Article 4A). Is Dr. Harwood’s view of regeneration/faith contrary to the BF&M 2000? Do we expect SBC professors to teach according to the BF&M?”

      Oh, so, in this case, you want the “broad” interpretation of the BFM. That way Dr. Harwood’s teaching is protected. But in the case of Schreiner’s teaching, you choose the “narrow” interpretation of the BFM. How can anyone with eyes open not see this as hypocritical???????????????????

        Adam Harwood

        Mary,

        I accept and appreciate your apology. Thanks for your kind reply.

        I understand why you are disturbed. It seems that a denial of inherited guilt removes the need for the cross of Christ. I assure you that is neither my view nor a necessary implication of my view.

        My objection to Schreiner’s position was NOT that he affirms inherited guilt. Although I regard that to be an error and inconsistent with the BFM, he also regarded as problematic a common interpretation of the article on sin, which is the affirmation of an inherited sin nature with a denial that we inherit Adam’s guilt. Perhaps this will become clearer in the coming months. This issue is not going away.

        On the negative reaction to Ben’s assertion regarding my view on regeneration: There was no hypocrisy and no one was treating me in a different way. The reason is this: I made no statement in the post on regeneration. Ben made an unsupported claim that I affirmed a view which I never affirmed. In trying to illustrate a point, he was putting words in my mouth which I never used. (Again, the difference is that Schreiner actually does affirm the position I was comparing against the BFM.)

        Blessings, sister.

        In Him,
        Adam

          Mary

          Adam,

          Thank you for your kind reply to me. I’m grateful for your graciousness toward me and your humility…and your biblical knowledge as well. I’m certain there is a great deal I can learn from you.

          Mary

          Johnathan Pritchett

          The article doesn’t affirm a “sinful nature” though. It only affirms inheriting a nature and environment that inclines towards sin.

          That “nature” could be understood as something other than “sinful nature”.

          Some people understand “sinful nature” to be a “defect” in either the biological material of which we are composed (a view which certainly smacks of gnosticism), a defect in the spiritual “stuff” (which would thus make God the effecient cause of sin in humans), or both (which is a mixture of two unBiblical contentions.

          I would argue that this way of understanding “sinful nature” is extremely problematic and contrary to anything the Scripture teaches about God, creation, and persons.

          I am thankful for the wording of the BF&M on this point. Because it allows freedom to move away from the “anthropological malfunction which causes sin” understanding of what a good God creates, and gives us an opportunity to chart out more Biblical territory.

          I.e. the “nature” inclined towards sin, as I see it, is the “death nature”, and therefore “sin reigns in death” (1 Cor. 15:22, Rom. 5:12-21) rather than some inherent sin generating mechanism malfunction in either our physical or spiritual “stuff”, anthropologically speaking.

          After all, persons are sinful, not the physical or spiritual materials and substances God creates and shapes things with. As most all non-Reformed theologians affirm, God judges persons, not substances and natures, and persons are not identical to the “stuff” they are made out of, either the physical or spiritual.

Norm Miller

Mary:
If you are going to intimate that Dr. Harwood is a heretic, please provide specific examples (and not mis-characterized interpretations), and then defend your position from the Bible. To say that what “Dr. Harwood espouses, leads to clear heresy” smacks of calling someone “semi-pelagian,” e.g., and carries with it serious ramifications for all concerned. — Norm

    Mary

    I am not trying to call him a heretic. I regret those choice of words. However, his (what view as an attack) on Dr. Schreiner’s teaching as something that isn’t Baptist, I find offensive. The real dangerous teaching (in my honest opinion) and what should cause all Christians to be concerned, is Dr. Harwood’s teaching on this subject. I have already outlined (above) the reasons I find it dangerous. I doubt you need me to repeat it again here.

    Of the two positions: Harwood’s or Schreiner’s, Schreiner’s is in keeping with the Gospel of Christ. The other inevitably opens the door for something that cannot be sustained by Scripture. This is just my opinion, as a lifelong Baptist.

      Johnathan Pritchett

      Have you read Schreiner’s commentary on Romans? There is much to commend in his section on Rom. 5:11-21, and much to cause for confusion (or even outright mock and laugh at) as well.

      It is the most inconsistent treatment I have ever read.

      The following two quotes should sum up the cake and eat it too mess he made of the passage.

      “If this view is correct, then the Augustinian view is substantially vindicated, though on grounds other than Augustine suggested.” (p. 275)

      “The problem with this view, however, is that it suggests a Pelagian understanding between Adam’s sin and the sin of the rest of humanity. One could respond to this charge by saying that we should not read our theology into the text, and if Paul’s teaching appears Pelagian, so be it…Nevertheless, we should not read a Pelagian interpretation from this…” (pp. 275-276)

      When one reads his whole treatment, one suspects (at least in 1998) that he was trying to walk a tightrope and be innovative at the same time, coming up well short of the “original death” view of someone like Don Garlington, and the “original sin” view of traditional Reformed theology.

      In any case, parts of Schreiner’s exegesis on this passage is actually logically incompatible with his theology and firm statements on imputed guilt. As hard as he tries to consistently interpret the passage, it is a mess. It is no wonder to me he has since altered it since his commentary.

      In any case, the theologian Schreiner is a lot more consistent than the exegete Schreiner.

      Being critical of, and questioning the work of scholars (and questing the scholar himself), is not the same thing as an attack on the scholar as a person, but scholarly criticism and reaction to their work.

        Johnathan Pritchett

        And before someone says those are ripped out of context, read the whole treatment. He affirms the positions where these quotes are considering (given the nature of critical commentaries). He argues at length that Rom. 5:12 refers not to sinning in Adam, but the individual sins of individuals (which smacks of Pelagianism, as he himself notes).

        Mary

        Johnathan Pritchett,

        No. I have not read Schreiner’s commentary on Romans 5. Perhaps it is something to “outright mock and laugh at” as you say. But have you ever read “A Statement of the Traditional Southern Baptist Understanding of God’s Plan of Salvation” by Eric Hankins? I would think that document would give Schreiner’s treatment of Romans 5 a run for its money. ;-)

        I’ve only read Schreiner’s book “Paul: Apostle of God’s Glory in Christ”, an awe inspiring book.

          Mary

          In case you are wondering what statement I am refering to from the statement, I refer to this:

          “We deny that Adam’s sin resulted in the incapacitation of any person’s free will”.

          Wow! Now THAT statement is laughable and should be mocked. It goes beyond Arminianism to hyper-Arminianism. Even John Wesley recognized the effects that the Fall had on mankind and that a first work of grace is necessary to make it possible for men to freely choose Christ. Since that awful statement above still has not been edited as it surely needs to be, it surely deserves to be mocked. Any faults of Schreiners pale in comparison to the afore mentioned hyper-Arminian and unBaptist statement.

            lydia

            “We deny that Adam’s sin resulted in the incapacitation of any person’s free will”.

            So you did not write that comment freely? God made you or…..

            :o)

            Mary

            Lydia,

            Well, since I am a Christian, and Christ has already made me free, your question is a moot point.

            lydia

            “Well, since I am a Christian, and Christ has already made me free, your question is a moot point.”

            You could not think or reason before you became a Christian? And Reformed doctrine teaches that God controls every molecule whether you are saved or not.

          Johnathan Pritchett

          Don’t take my comments too harshly. I write a lot of mock worthy and laughable things too. ;)

          Seriously though, Trying to find somewhere in the middle between Augustine and Pelagian is not only goofy, but also unnecessary.

          I’m with those who say it is time to get off that grid completely.

            lydia

            “I’m with those who say it is time to get off that grid completely.’

            Me too. It is a dead end of circular reasoning that takes responsibility away from humans. I cannot understand why people cannot see that Calvin lived out his beliefs and it is not a good thing. According to Mary’s understanding of being “free” in Christ, burning Servetus was a good thing just as Calvin thought it was.

            Mary

            Lydia wrote: “According to Mary’s understanding of being “free” in Christ, burning Servetus was a good thing”

            Huh? That’s a big jump. I said nothing about Servetus or Calvin for that matter. I said that the statement above is an extreme form of Arminianism, and that is what it is. It goes beyond Arminianism so that even Arminians can’t embrace it. And I can only suppose that the reason so many dug their heals in, rather than edit the “Traditional” statement is pride and a lack of humility. Because it is more than obvious that the statement needs to be rewritten to include God’s grace.

            Johnathan Pritchett

            The Traditional Statement does comment on the necessity of grace, just not in that article. That is why there are multiple articles in it, so that not every article has to state everything each time, which would be absurdly redundant,

            It isn’t a statement for Arminians, so their rejection of it is totally irrelevant. The question is whether or not it is Biblical, and not whether or not it lines up with various opinions scattered through historical theology from the time since Augustine hijacked the discipline with goofy metaphysics, categorical errors, and a gnostic, pseudo-Platonist philosophy.

    Mary

    To several commenters; you know who you are:

    It seems to me that when it comes to Harwood’s teaching on regeneration, you have chosen to accept the “broad” interpretation of the BFM, rather than the narrow interpretation, which would call into question whether Adam Harwood should be teaching in SBC seminaries.

    However, in the case of Schreiner, you have chosen to accept the “narrow” interperetation of the BFM, which would call into question whether Tom Schreiner should be teaching in SBC seminaries.

    Several commenters in this post, are guilty of this clear inconsistency. I trust the Holy Spirit who is in you, will grant you humility in this matter and not a hardened heart.

    Mary

Daniel Wilcox

Maybe, also, we need to consider that Augustinian categories are the completely the wrong way to think of small children and infants!

When a child grows to an age where he becomes spiritually and morally aware, encounters testings and temptations, sometimes fails, sometimes intentionally chooses wrongly, falls short of the Goodness of God–then he can respond to the conviction of God’s Spirit, and invite Jesus into his heart. At such a time speaking of “sin” and the need of “virtue” are valid.

But as for infants and small children, Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.”
(Notice, he said nothing about ‘let the little guilty sinners conceived in sin…’)
He said nothing about their having to be baptized because they had inherited guilt and sin from Adam, but said
“to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.”!

And he also quoted Psalms
“‘And the children crying out in the temple, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” they were indignant, 16and they said to him, “Do you hear what these are saying?” And Jesus said to them, “Yes; have you never read,
“‘Out of the mouth of infants and nursing babies
you have prepared praise’?” ESV

Babies and small children are loved infinitely by God. They are precious in his sight.

If in doubt, check out my new grandson:-) well except for those poopy diapers;-)

Daniel

    Mary

    Infants have sinned in Adam. Thus they die “death spread to all men, because all sinned.” (Rom. 5:12)

    But Jesus died for the sin of Adam. Thus, the guilt of infants has been taken away in Christ; therefore they all go to God’s Kingdom because of Jesus their Savior.

    Any other position makes it so they no longer need Jesus as their Savior, which is unscriptural.

      Bob Kundrat

      That doesn’t appear to be the view Adam Harwood holds is it? Isn’t that different than the sin-stained but not-guilty view that he states throughout his book?

      I only asking because Arminians like Roger Olson seem to make the distinction that inherited guilt being set aside by the work of Christ but it don’t remember Adam Harwood making that distinction in his book.

Sean Cole

Has anyone actually seen what seminary professors actually have to sign? Does it say that they will teach in accordance with the BFM 2000 or that they will not teach in contradiction to it? What is the wording? Do they pledge to uphold? Affirm? Endorse? In totality? Every jot and title or that they are in substantial agreement with it? It would be helpful to see the actual wording or document that each professor is required to sign and if the wording is consistent between each seminary for that fact. I know SBTS and SEBTS require the AP but do they also require the BFM 2000? What is the wording for GGBTS, NOBTS, and MBTS? Just a question.

    Johnathan Pritchett

    For the record, I think making professors sign documents that are too specific, is a cause for academic dishonesty…even among conservatives. No matter how innocuous the statement tries to be for the sake of inclusiveness and diversity within conservative theology, it still is a cause for problems. It is hard for academics to teach (or avoid teaching) according to one specific view, while publishing books incompatible with it.

    I am sympathetic to Schreiner (though I think he is an inconsistent scholar), because he should have the academic freedom to do the best he can; even if some of his results are hash on the one hand, and outside some statement, even the BF&M 2k, on the other.

    If some of his views are out of step with the BF&M 2k, then so be it. I am not as ate up about that as perhaps Dr. Harwood and others would be. I would prefer all our conservative scholars be intellectually and academically honest here or there that might not line up perfectly with some statement, than to teach or write something (or avoid teaching or writing something) they do not actually agree with out of fear of not lining up with such statements in ways that make others uncomfortable.

    I hear the responses…its a slippery slope to liberalism, or, we expect Baptists to teach everything perfectly Baptist…but this smacks of being out of whack with other Baptist distinctive.

    Put two Baptists in a room to discuss theology and you will get four opinions from both on the one subject.

    If Schreiner simply answered “No Dr. Harwood, it isn’t perfectly in step with the BF&M 2k on this one point”, then…so what? What would happen or be called for then? The correct answer ought to be “nothing”.

Ron F. Hale

There was a professor that had 99 comments on his thread; would he leave the 99 and go out seeking that one comment to make it 100? So a Good Samaritan came along and made it an even 100 comments! :)

Blessings!

Herman Waits

Dr. Harwood,

Excellent insightful article. I must agree with Rev. Rick Warren and his statement “Adam reveals a very important distinction that I had not notived between BF&M and Abstract.” However, I would like to hear from Dr. Albert Mohler. It seems to me that his silence is deafening.

Herman

    Adam Harwood

    Herman,

    Thanks for your note. Dr. Mohler is a busy man and I didn’t expect him to reply. I do, however, hope he will be able to read and reply to my next essay.

    Blessings.

    In Him,
    Adam

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