Wednesday, June 6, 2012
Southern Baptists And Salvation
Until about three-and-a-half years ago, I had been a life-long Southern Baptist. I was trained in a Southern Baptist university and seminary. I served in Southern Baptist churches as a youth pastor, and later as a senior pastor. For years there has been a controversy within the Southern Baptist fold concerning Calvinism. What many Southern Baptists do not realize is that the founders of the denomination and first seminaries were Calvinistic Baptists. The very first Southern Baptist confession of faith ("The Abstract of Principles") is a baptiststic derivative of the Westminster Standards. However, as time went on Southern Baptists came under the influence of holiness movements and revivalism and consequently began to shed their founding theological moorings. But over the last 15 years or so there has been a significant resurgence of reformed soteriology within Southern Baptist life. For some this has been a movement of God. For others, not so much.
Recently a document was drafted defining what the writers call "the traditional" Southern Baptist understanding of salvation. It is an attempt to call Southern Baptists away from the Reformed understanding of human sinfulness and God's sovereignty in salvation. Unfortunately the document misunderstands Southern Baptist history and (unwittingly I hope) adopts a semi-Pelagian position on sin and salvation.
Al Mohler has written a gracious response.
Also, check out Joe Carter's helpful summary of the debate.
Roger Olson, a professor at a Southern Baptist institution and self-proclaimed Arminian calls the document semi-Pelagian.
Tom Ascol has a very helpful series of responses HERE.