Thursday, May 31, 2012

Traditional Southern Baptist Understanding of God’s Plan of Salvation - And My Take On It. (Which could be considered my Correction of it.)

A Statement of the Traditional Southern Baptist Understanding of God’s Plan of Salvation
Preamble (Somewhat condensed)
Every generation of Southern Baptists has the duty to articulate the truths of its faith with particular attention to the issues that are impacting contemporary mission and ministry. The precipitating issue for this statement is the rise of a movement called “New Calvinism” among Southern Baptists. This movement is committed to advancing in the churches an exclusively Calvinistic understanding of salvation, characterized by an aggressive insistence on the “Doctrines of Grace” (“TULIP”), and to the goal of making Calvinism the central Southern Baptist position on God’s plan of salvation.     (Clark: (Underlining mine) Who is committed to that? I have not heard that from any of the Calvinistic Baptists that I know of. Am I committed not to deny I believe this and help others see the beauty of the doctrines of Grace? Certainly I’m committed to that. But not in order to change a denomination. Just to make the wonderful grace of Jesus known!)
     While Calvinists have been present in Southern Baptist life from its earliest days and have made important contributions to our history and theology, the majority of Southern Baptists do not embrace Calvinism. ...For the most part, Southern Baptists have been glad to relegate disagreements over Calvinism to secondary status ... The Southern Baptist majority has fellowshipped happily with its Calvinist brethren while resisting Calvinism itself. And, to their credit, most Southern Baptist Calvinists have not demanded the adoption of their view as the standard... but some New Calvinists seem to be pushing for a radical alteration of this long- standing arrangement. (Clark: (underlining mine) Who are these New Calvinists? Approximately 70% or more of Southern Baptist individuals, schools, and agencies are made up of non-Calvinistic Baptists. We know this. We still cooperate and support these same institutions.)
We propose that what most Southern Baptists believe about salvation can rightly be called “Traditional” Southern Baptist soteriology (Clark: I stand aghast at that proposal! Aghast I tell you!), which should be understood in distinction to “Calvinist” soteriology. ...the clear trajectory of the BF&M since 1925 is away from Calvinism (Clark: The 2000 BF&M put the brakes on that a bit). ... Without ascribing to Calvinism, Southern Baptists have reached around the world with the Gospel message of salvation by grace through faith in Christ alone (Clark: Yes, and some of them have been calvinistic Baptists.) ... While we are not insisting that every Southern Baptist affirm the soteriological statement below in order to have a place in the Southern Baptist family,(Clark: Well, thanks for that.) we are asserting that the vast majority of Southern Baptists are not Calvinists and that they do not want Calvinism to become the standard view in Southern Baptist life... (Clark: OK, I’m OK with that.)
    ...We believe that most Southern Baptists, ...will find the following statement consistent with what the Bible teaches and what Southern Baptists have generally believed about the nature of salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. (Clark: Some Southern Baptists have “generally believed” this, but since the beginning of the convention there have been those who disagreed. Are they not traditional Baptists as well?)                                                      
(Clark: Also, while I embrace the Doctrines of Grace which were embraced by Spurgeon, Broadus, Manly, B.H. Carroll and others, I’m NOT a Calvinist. I reject infant baptism, pure covenantal theology, and double predestination. Just FYI.)
Articles of Affirmation and Denial Article One: The Gospel
We affirm that the Gospel is the good news that God has made a way of salvation through the life, death, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ for any person. This is in keeping with God’s desire for every person to be saved.                                                                                                    We deny that only a select few are capable of responding to the Gospel while the rest are predestined to an eternity in hell.                                       Genesis 3:15; Psalm 2:1-12; Ezekiel 18:23, 32; Luke 19.10; Luke 24:45-49; John 1:1-18, 3:16; Romans 1:1-6, 5:8; 8:34; 2 Corinthians 5:17-21; Galatians 4:4-7; Colossians 1:21-23; 1 Timothy 2:3-4; Hebrews 1:1-3; 4:14-16; 2 Peter 3:9                                                                   
Clark: Agree! But recognize that God’s desire is not the same as His secret decreed will. Unless one recognizes that the “will” of God in scripture refers to 2 or 3 different things, this will be misunderstood. For instance, the 10 Commandments is a pretty good statement on the Will of God. This is how he desires people to act. Do all obey? Of course not. Also, it was God’s will that Jesus be crucified. Was he? You betcha! This was decreed by God to happen. See Psalm 22 and Isa 53.
Article Two: The Sinfulness of Man
We affirm that, because of the fall of Adam, every person inherits a nature and environment inclined toward sin and that every person who is capable of moral action will sin. Each person’s sin alone brings the wrath of a holy God, broken fellowship with Him, ever-worsening selfishness and destructiveness, death, and condemnation to an eternity in hell.                                                                                                                                                            We deny that Adam’s sin resulted in the incapacitation of any person’s free will or rendered any person guilty before he has personally sinned. While no sinner is remotely capable of achieving salvation through his own effort, we deny that any sinner is saved apart from a free response to the Holy Spirit’s drawing through the Gospel. Genesis 3:15-24; 6:5; Deuteronomy 1:39; Isaiah 6:5, 7:15-16;53:6; Jeremiah 17:5,9, 31:29-30; Ezekiel 18:19-20; Romans 1:18-32; 3:9-18, 5:12, 6:23; 7:9; Matthew 7:21-23; 1 Corinthians 1:18-25; 6:9-10;15:22; 2 Corinthians 5:10; Hebrews 9:27-28; Revelation 20:11-15
Clark: YES, to the Fall and the inherited fallen nature that humanity is born into. YES, to the fact that every person sins. But if everyone is bent towards sin, and everyone will sin, and does in fact sin, how can one claim that free will is not incapacitated in some way? If Free will is intact, why hasn’t there been another sinless person? Because, even though we still bear the image of God, we are totally depraved! That doesn’t mean as bad as we could possibly be, it simply means that every aspect of humanity, Will included, has been tainted by the Fall.                                                                                                                            
Rom. 7:14-15, 24 We know that the law is spiritual; but I am carnal, sold under sin. I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. ... Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?                                                                                                                 Rom 5:12  Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned—    Humans are born dead! How can that not affect the human condition concerning spiritual things?
Article Three: The Atonement of Christ We affirm that the penal substitution of Christ is the only available and effective sacrifice for the sins of every person.                                                                                                                                           We deny that this atonement results in salvation without a person’s free response of repentance and faith. We deny that God imposes or withholds this atonement without respect to an act of the person’s free will. We deny that Christ died only for the sins of those who will be saved. Psalm 22:1-31; Isaiah 53:1-12; John 12:32, 14:6; Acts 10:39-43; Acts 16:30-32; Romans 3:21-26; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Galatians 3:10-14; Philippians 2:5-11; Colossians 1:13-20; 1 Timothy 2:5-6; Hebrews 9:12-15, 24-28; 10:1-18; I John 1:7; 2:2
Clark: I Absolutely Agree to the penal substitution of Christ. I agree that a person must respond in repentance and faith. But think about this quote from above: “We deny that God imposes or withholds this atonement without respect to an act of the person’s free will.Does this mean that all persons on earth since the time of Christ had an opportunity to believe the gospel? Seriously? The Africans who never heard? The Native Americans that never had any access to the gospel prior to the 1500s? It seems to me there are many from whom God withheld the message of the Atonement of Christ. I don’t know why that is, but I accept it as part of God’s sovereign will.
Further, think about the possible outcome of leaving it all up to people to choose. Knowing that men's hearts are deceitfully wicked, if left to "Chance" No-one would be saved. God would have sent His Only Begotten for NO-One! That is unacceptable theology. Especially in light of scriptures telling us that we were chosen before the foundations of the world.
I do agree that Jesus’ death was sufficient for all.
Article Four: The Grace of God
We affirm that grace is God's generous decision to provide salvation for any person by taking all of the initiative in providing atonement, in freely offering the Gospel in the power of the Holy Spirit, and in uniting the believer to Christ through the Holy Spirit by faith.   
We deny that grace negates the necessity of a free response of faith or that it cannot be resisted. We deny that the response of faith is in any way a meritorious work that earns salvation.                                                                                                                
Ezra 9:8; Proverbs 3:34; Zechariah 12:10; Matthew 19:16-30, 23:37; Luke 10:1-12; Acts 15:11; 20:24; Romans 3:24, 27-28; 5:6, 8, 15-21; Galatians 1:6; 2:21; 5; Ephesians 2:8-10; Philippians 3:2-9; Colossians 2:13-17; Hebrews 4:16; 9:28; 1 John 4:19
Clark: Once again, I almost agree with the whole statement, but not quite. My only difficulty with this statement is in the phrase, “We deny that grace ... cannot be resisted.Along with the general call there must be a call that “effects” and enables the change in the person who is dead in trespasses and sins. (Rom 8:28-30) When that effectual call occurs God’s grace will not be resisted.   
John 6:37 All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.   
John 6:44-45: "No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him.... Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me."                                                                                                                                                  John 6:65: "[N]o one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father."
Article Five: The Regeneration of the Sinner
We affirm that any person who responds to the Gospel with repentance and faith is born again through the power of the Holy Spirit. He is a new creation in Christ and enters, at the moment he believes, into eternal life.                    
We deny that any person is regenerated prior to or apart from hearing and responding to the Gospel. Luke 15:24; John 3:3; 7:37-39; 10:10; 16:7-14; Acts 2:37-39; Romans 6:4-11; 10:14; 1 Corinthians 15:22; 2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 2:20; 6:15; Colossians 2:13; 1 Peter 3:18
Clark: I used to believe this way. And still agree with the fist part, but not the denial. I have come to see that Biblically there is a regeneration, the dead person quickened so that they might express faith and repentance and be saved.           
Tts 3:5 Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;                                                                                                                                                          Joh 1:12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: 13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.                  
Philippians 2:13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to do his good pleasure.                                                                
The Lost cannot please God:  Rom 8:7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. 8 So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.                                                                                  
Without Faith one cannot please God.  Heb 11:6 But without faith it is impossible to please him:                                                      So how can the lost please God when they are in the flesh, unless there is an enabling by God when He gives them the ability to believe? I would call that regeneration. Not salvation. That comes after the person freely believes and repents of sin. 1Co 2:14  But the natural man receives not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
Article Six: The Election to Salvation
We affirm that, in reference to salvation, election speaks of God's eternal, gracious, and certain plan in Christ to have a people who are His by repentance and faith.                                                                                                 We deny that election means that, from eternity, God predestined certain people for salvation and others for condemnation. Genesis 1:26-28; 12:1-3; Exodus 19:6; Jeremiah 31:31-33; Matthew 24:31; 25:34; John 6:70; 15:16; Romans 8:29- 30, 33;9:6-8; 11:7; 1 Corinthians 1:1-2; Ephesians 1:4-6; 2:11-22; 3:1-11; 4:4-13; 1 Timothy 2:3-4; 1 Peter 1:1-2; 1 Peter 2:9; 2 Peter 3:9; Revelation 7:9-10
Clark: I Agree in part. Here the writers are arguing with those who believe in double predestination. That before time God chose some to be saved and some to be damned. Let me ask you this: Did God know before time who would be saved and who would be damned? If Yes, then, could anything change what God already knew would happen? No.                                              So here is what happened. Omniscient God knew that Adam would sin. That death would be passed on to all humanity. Then God purposed to save some. None deserved it. All are without excuse, but He made a way to save some of those who were in Christ’s own words, “condemned already.” (Jn 3:17)     
Acts 13:48: And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord; and as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed.
Romans 8:29-30: For whom (the individuals He knew personally) He foreknew He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the first-born among many brethren; and whom He predestined, these He also called; and whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.                       
Ephesians 1:5: He predestined us (not some) to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will.
Article Seven: The Sovereignty of God
We affirm God’s eternal knowledge of and sovereignty over every person’s salvation or condemnation.            We deny that God’s sovereignty and knowledge require Him to cause a person’s acceptance or rejection of faith in ChristGenesis 1:1; 6:5-8; 18:16-33; 22; 2 Samuel 24:13-14; 1 Chronicles 29:10-20; 2 Chronicles 7:14; Joel 2:32; Psalm 23; 51:4; 139:1-6; Proverbs 15:3; John 6:44; Romans 11:3; Titus 3:3-7; James 1:13-15; Hebrews 11:6, 12:28; 1 Peter 1:17
Clark: I agree 100%. BUT, unless God enables a person to have faith in Christ, no-one will be saved.                                            Eph 2:8  For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.                                                                                                                                                                            However you parse the above verse, faith is at least part of the Gift of God. Along with grace, it stands over against works. Again, the lost, carnal, natural man cannot please God, understand the things of God, or express faith in God. God has to give him faith, that he then freely places in Christ.
Article Eight: The Free Will of Man
We affirm that God, as an expression of His sovereignty, endows each person with actual free will (the ability to choose between two options), which must be exercised in accepting or rejecting God’s gracious call to salvation by the Holy Spirit through the Gospel.                                                                                                                      We deny that the decision of faith is an act of God rather than a response of the person. We deny that there is an “effectual call” for certain people that is different from a “general call” to any person who hears and understands the Gospel. Genesis 1:26-28; Numbers 21:8-9; Deuteronomy 30:19; Joshua 24:15; 1 Samuel 8:1-22; 2 Samuel 24:13-14; Esther 3:12-14; Matthew 7:13-14; 11:20-24; Mark 10:17-22; Luke 9:23-24; 13:34; 15:17-20; Romans 10:9-10; Titus 2:12; Revelation 22:17
Clark: Now this one is just unfortunate! The ability to choose between two options is fine as long as neither option requires FAITH or REPENTANCE! Which shirt to put on, which way to turn the car, what to eat for dinner: All fall within the realm of human choice.                                                                                                                                                                          Romans 8 clearly teaches that all who are called are justified. (The called were already predestined) There must be a difference between the call of the evangelist and the Call of the Spirit of God. God is the caller, the church merely echoes that call.                                                                                                                                                                                                                     Rom 8:29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. 30 Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.                                                                                    Rev 22:17 And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that hears say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.
Article Nine: The Security of the Believer
We affirm that when a person responds in faith to the Gospel, God promises to complete the process of salvation in the believer into eternity. This process begins with justification, whereby the sinner is immediately acquitted of all sin and granted peace with God; continues in sanctification, whereby the saved are progressively conformed to the image of Christ by the indwelling Holy Spirit; and concludes in glorification, whereby the saint enjoys life with Christ in heaven forever.                                                                                                                                      We deny that this Holy Spirit-sealed relationship can ever be broken. We deny even the possibility of apostasy. John 10:28-29; 14:1-4; 16:12-14; Philippians 1:6; Romans 3:21-26; 8:29,30; 35-39; 12:1-3; 2 Corinthians 4:17; Ephesians 1:13-14; Philippians 3:12; Colossians 1:21-22; 1 John 2:19; 3:2; 5:13-15; 2 Timothy 1:12; Hebrews 13:5; James 1:12; Jude 24-25
Clark: I agree 100%. But, of course, I would add, that salvation is all of God and all of Grace and since we didn’t bring ourselves into His Kingdom neither can we take ourselves out. But then I’d probably be just wishing for a fight! ;-)
Article Ten: The Great Commission
We affirm that the Lord Jesus Christ commissioned His church to preach the good news of salvation to all people to the ends of the earth. We affirm that the proclamation of the Gospel is God's means of bringing any person to salvation.                                                                                                                                                                 We deny that salvation is possible outside of a faith response to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Psalm 51:13; Proverbs 11:30; Isaiah 52:7; Matthew 28:19-20; John 14:6; Acts 1:8; 4:12; 10:42-43; Romans 1:16, 10:13-15; 1 Corinthians 1:17-21; Ephesians 3:7-9; 6:19-20; Philippians 1:12-14; 1 Thessalonians 1:8; 1 Timothy 2:5; 2 Timothy 4:1-5
Clark: and finally, I agree with this 100% as well. In fact, I support Southern Baptist Missionaries knowing that many would probably sign this document and disagree with me. But I trust they preach Jesus and Him crucified for our sins. And that salvation comes only by Grace through Faith.


  1. I concur in what I suppose Article 10 was intended to affirm. But, does that article leave room for the salvation of children dying in infancy and others who are incapable of a faith response? It seems to me that, as written, it does not.

  2. I'm not sure salvation applies to infants or those incapable of an informed faith. I "think" they would place that under the idea of unaccountability. Babies and the mentally challenged would be deemed as not responsible for their sins. I'm not sure I agree totally with that. I think its more complicated than that. But I am sympathetic with the concept.

  3. Clark, we're on the same page, I think. As I understand the statement, it goes further than denying that children dying in infancy are responsible for their sins. Instead, it affirms that such children are in no sense guilty and therefore apparently not in need of salvation. As such, it seems to overlook the distinction between innocence, on the one hand, and the holiness without which no one will see the Lord, on the other.

    Though my own convictions are in line with the doctrines of grace (that is, Calvinism as some would have it), in the interest of fellowship I had thought to step into the theological shoes of those who affirm the statement. Even from that non-Calvinist standpoint, I cannot avoid the conclusion that the statement is not theologically satisfactory. Then again, I suppose that if I could be satisfied that any non-Calvinist theology could be fully consistent then I would not be a Calvinist. So it must be that any attempt on my part to put myself within the shoes of non-Calvinists was doomed from the outset. Probably, the notion of a distinction between innocence and holiness is distinctively Calvinistic, though I wouldn't have supposed it to be so.

  4. Good job -

    I still think this was one of the most bone-headed things Vines and the like have done to and in the well as everyone who signed onto it.

    1. Bone-headed is a possible adjective! Not for stating their opinions of course. But the straw-men they set up, the implications and aspersions cast at those who are more reformed etc. Bone-headed is growing on me!
      Did you see my "soulful statement" above?


Feel free to tell me and others what you think. You can use the tools of rhetoric but please, be clean and nice.