"I went to Jerusalem to become acquainted (Gk. istoria) with Cephas" - Paul's words from Galatians 1:18.

The Inspired, Inerrant, Infallible Bible Is Sufficient for Me (Part II)

Yesterday I pointed out that the BFM 2000 and the Abstract of Principles of Southern Seminary and Southeastern Seminary teach two different things regarding the consequences of Adam's sin. The Abstract teaches that all men are condemned on the basis of one man's sin (Adam), while the BFM 2000 teaches that all men are condemned not by one man's sin, but by their own, personal sin upon reaching the age of accountability (or as the BFM 2000 states, 'as soon as they are capable of moral action').

I chuckled when I read a couple of blogs that called for my resignation as an IMB trustee, another that proceeded to call me duplicitous and a few other choice adjectives, and then laughed out loud at a comment from a Baptist pastor who is not even Southern Baptist who said I was attempting to split the convention.

I couldn't help but chuckle. One of these days they may learn that I am in this for the long haul and it might be better to try to understand the point I am making.

This is my point. I made it yesterday, but some seemed to have missed it. I give it again in bold letters:

"I believe that there is room for Southern Baptists who believe both interpretations. Some Southern Baptists believe condemnation is because of Adam's one sin, and others believe that no condemnation comes until there is personal, actual sin. I think the 'tent' is big enough for people who hold to these two different interpretations on this point of doctrine which is not an essential of the faith."

Let me point out, again, for the third time in two days the important sentence on yesterday's post:

I THINK THE TENT IS BIG ENOUGH FOR PEOPLE WHO HOLD TO THESE TWO DIFFERENT INTERPRETATIONS.

The tent is the SBC.

Of course, some are attempting to say that there is no difference between the two documents. All right. Let's say, for now, that there is no difference.

Let's ask Dr. Mohler and Dr. Patterson: "Gentlemen, since there is no difference between the Abstract and the BFM 2000 what do these documents teach about the fall of Adam? Do they teach . . .

(1). All men, including infants, are under condemnation because of Adam's sin, even if they never personally and actually sin (as in the case of infants who die in infancy)? or . . .

(2). All men, including infants, are under condemnation only when they are capable of moral action and choose to sin personally ('the age of accountability') and no human being is under condemnation for the sin of Adam?

These two statements are not saying the same thing. Which one of the above statements reflects the teaching of the Abstract of Principles and the BFM 2000 if they BOTH teach the same thing?

How would Dr. Patterson respond to the question 'what does the Abstract and BFM 2000 teach about the consequences of Adam's fall'? How would Dr. Mohler respond to the question 'what does the Abstract and BFM 2000 teach about the consequences of Adam's fall'?

Did anybody else hear these two men debate in Greensboro besides me?

These men do not agree on this point of doctrine. I would also propose that the Abstract and the BFM 2000 are contradictory on this point of doctrine, but I will let those who have signed both documents clarify for me which statement above best reflects the teaching of both documents. :)

BUT DON'T MISS THE POINT: HERE IT IS --- AGAIN!

People in the SBC believe different things about the gifts, ecclesiology, soteriology, eschatology, etc . . .

It is the BIBLE that should be our rule of faith. It is the BIBLE that is inerrant, infallible, and sufficient for our study, memorization, mediation and application.

But two conservative, godly evangelicals can come to DIFFERENT conclusions after READING THE SAME BIBLE about doctrines that are not essentials of the Christian faith.

THERE IS ROOM IN THE SBC FOR MORE THAN ONE INTERPRETATION!

For some reason there are people who are being very deceptive in the blog world by trying to make it look as if I am advocating liberals (those who deny the inerrancy of the Bible) have a place at the table of leadership in the SBC.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

I was asked via a comment on my blog "If you had the power..would you place an indvidual into a position of influence in the SBC...who believed and lived the Bible to be inspired, infallible, authoritative, sufficient...but truly believed that the Bible is not inerrant?

I responded: Short answer: No.

Anyone who says I am attempting to broaden the tent to include those who are not 'inerrantists' is the problem. All they can do is shout, "He's a liberal!" or "He wants liberals at the table."

No. Not at all. Liberals who deny the accuracy, authority and reliability of the Word of God would be better off in leadership in another convention. It's not that they are not brothers in Christ, and it's not that we wish them harm, they just don't represent what we believe about the Bible.

But in my mind angry Fundamentalists who wish to exclude fellow evangelical conservatives who disagree with their interpretations of the sacred text don't deserve SBC leadership positions either.. If a Fundamentalist demands you interpret the sacred text as he does, and calls you neo-orthodox or 'moderate' or 'liberal' if you don't, then he (the Fundamentalist) is the one who does not deserve leadership in the SBC.

Irenic conservatives must lead the SBC, and a shift is happening.

For Fundamentalists with a capital F it is painful, and the more they see it happening, the more they shout and scream.

By the way, I love Fundamentalists! I mean it. They just seem to have a hard time loving me, and the only thing they understand is someone with courage who will stand up to them and say, "The Bible is authoritative and sufficient and the perfect guide for faith and practice --- and I will not accept what you say is 'truth' just because you say it --- you must PROVE it from the text. And if you don't prove it to my satisfaction, then I will not change my mind. By the way, it is not important to me that you change your mind either --- let's work together."

For some reason that is hard for some to comprehend.

There are at least two interpretations on the gifts (cessationists and continualists), there are at least two interpretations on soteriology (Calvinism and Arminiansm and everything in between), there are at least two interpretations on ecclesiological government (congregational and elder rule), there are at least two interpretations on separation of church and state, there are at least two interpretations the authority and credentials of the baptizer, there are at least two interpretations on the consequences of Adam's sin, etc . . . I could go on, and on, and on . . .

WE MUST BE VERY CAREFUL THAT WE DON'T GET TO THE POINT WHERE A DISAGREEMENT OVER THE INTERPRETATION OF THE DOCTRINES CONTAINED IN THE SACRED TEXT SEPARATE AND EXCLUDE ONE GROUP OR THE OTHER.

I would like to close with a very practical thought from my father, Paul Burleson, who has had the benefit of pastoring Southern Baptist Churches for over fifty years:

"For many years of pastoring, long before and during the resurgence, I always led our congregation to affirm two things in the opening of our constitution and bylaws. One was a...commitment to the holding of the Bible to be the inspired, infallible, and inerrant in the original manuscripts, Word of God. [This being important because a confidence in the inerrancy of those original documents gave cause to seriously translate from the earliest manuscripts we have to get the best translations.]

A second was a...commitment to the BF@M INSOFAR as and as LONG as it was and remained true to the text of the scripture. This permitted us to differ with a minor point or two without being argumentative or being unbaptistic about it. This also allowed our folks to see the difference in the authority and nature of the BF@M in relation to the Scriptures themselves.

We believed this gave guidance to the people to practice their study of the Word with real conviction as to it's integrity and to appreciate our Baptist doctrinal heritage without elevating it to a level of sacredness reserved for Scripture alone.

I think personally that that is a good way to hold both in proper appreciation."


Couldn't have said it better, Dad.

In His Grace,

Wade

47 comments:

irreverend fox said...

Wade,

at some point we do have to have boundaries beyond simply acknowledging the Bible for what it is, right? The AoG/CoGiC affirm inerrancy...they are brothers and sisters in Christ, but, would not their interpretation of the sacred text place them "out of bounds" for inclusion in our convention?

That's just one example. The same could be said of Presbyterians and Evangelical Lutherans I suppose, for different reasons. Don't you think that we should have some boundaries in interpretation, especially for leadership?

I do think we should have interpretation boundaries, but just broad boundaries... I certainly don't want NO boundaries in interpretation of the sacred text.

Do you feel the same way? Because it sounds like you are sorta saying all you care about is affirmation of inerrancy of the Bible and not much else. Am I not reading you right?

If I’m not and you do want some kind of boundaries for interpretation what do you suggest those boundaries should be? The BF&M2000? Abstract Principles? The Apostles Creed?

Wade Burleson said...

Fox,

You are hearing me.

Keep the boundaries broad.

Only the fundamentals of the faith.

Sola Scriptura, Sole fide, Sola gratia, Sola Christos is a good starting place.

Let autonomous churches work out the minute doctrinal confessions on the local level --- then cooperate with all the churches who affirm the essentials.

wade

CB Scott said...

Wade,

I understand your point perfectly. It is the basis of your argument that is faulty.

There is no difference in substance between the documents. There is a difference in verbage. The conclusion is the same.

Frankly, the SBC has been as you speak with desire for all of our history. Why do you think we fight so much?

It is a big tent with many campers parked under it that were built in many different factories, but all can be identified as campers.

cb

TruthOfActs said...

Fox,
Who did Christ replace the prophets with? He (Holy Spirit) is better than all the prophets put together.

But the people didn’t want prophets. They wanted a king.
You remind me of those people when you keep wanting tight boundaries for Baptists to live by.
You want Christians to give up their individual priesthood of obeying the Holy Spirit, and obey a king or the BFM like your church members obey elders and their pastor.

In my opinion, you don’t want Baptists to be Baptists. The more the Holy Spirit is replaced by rules, the closer we get to being Catholics and those people wanting a king.

The trouble with the SBC is the growing tendency not to trust the Holy Spirit to guide Christians without them helping out.
Rex Ray

TruthOfActs said...

Wade,
I believe you made the same mistake in your choice of words today as you did yesterday in your comments.
Yesterday, you said, “Anyone who says I am attempting to broaden the tent to include ‘inerrantists’ is the problem.” Today you said the same thing in your post.

Rankin said everyone on the IMB were inerrantists. In short the SBC is run by inerrantists. Right? I think you meant to say ‘moderates’ as we have been excluded for many years. (Excluded means everything but our money and voting at the SBC.)

You wrote, “For some reason there are people who are…trying to make it look as if I am advocating liberals (those who deny the inerrancy of the Bible) have a place at the table of leadership in the SBC.”

A long time ago, do you remember your definition of a liberal? It was really really bad—didn’t even sound like a Christian. But today, as you state above anyone who does not believe in inerrancy is a liberal.

Moderates believe in the true, perfect, infallible Word of God.

‘The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy’ defines infallible: “Infallible signifies the quality of neither misleading nor being misled and so safeguards in categorical terms the truth that Holy Scripture is a sure, safe and reliable rule and guide in all matters.”
But today, you say that’s a liberal because it’s not inerrancy.

If we could only see ourselves as others see us when you state:

“We must be very careful that we don’t get to the point where a disagreement over the interpretation of the doctrines contained in the sacred text separate and exclude one group or the other.”
Reminds me of a ‘speck’ and a ‘beam.’
Rex Ray

kevin said...

Great comments as always, Wade.

martyduren said...

Wade-
Out of curiosity, does Dr. Mohler or Dr. Patterson hold your particular view of original sin?

Of the people who have called for your resignation, will they also call for the resignation of the seminary president who holds your view?

Na, didn't think so.

David R. Mills said...

I have a real problem with "essential" and "non-essential" doctrines or first, second, and third "tiers" If the whole Bible is not from God and given to man for doctrine, reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness, what's the point, and who determines the important and un-important. Is it only me who confused?

Monte Erwin said...

The truth is, neither of these statements should be "teaching" anything. These are faith/belief statements, not teachings of the church and/or seminaries. Forgive me for harping on semantics, but I believe this to be dangerous territory. If we're not careful we may begin treating these as the Talmud. Oh, wouldn't that be fun?

Roger Simpson said...

Wade:

I am sort of a neutral bystander to this debate since I'm a layman on the sidelines.

The situation with some who disagree with you is that they "blur the lines" between these two statements.

#1 I hold that the Bible is inerrant. I hold to what it says.

#2 I hold that the Bible is inerrant. I hold to my interpretation of what it says while recognizing that their could be other "conversative" interpretations.

Most of those who disagree with you are in camp #1. The simply won't consider that other interpretations are admissible. I believe most of your opponents are sincere in their understanding that "my interpretation is the only interpretation". From reading their blogs I'd say that they occupy a small space that is well within the boundaries of conservative Baptist theology.

I don't think there is any cogent argument that could be raised that will move certain people from #1 to #2. No matter how carefully crafted the argument is, it is falling and will continue to fall on deaf ears for a particular subset of those in SBC life.

I think its about time both sides stood down and took a breath. I guess I'm saying this,

.. "Wade you are right in what you are saying. You have made your point and many (but not all) agree with you. I agree with you. Some will never agree. I think at some point you are going to reach "saturation" in your argument. Doing a cost / benefit analysis could reveal that it is time to give this a rest. .. "

If I was Bill Gates I'd charter a fishing boat and force you and Les to go on a trip in the Carribean in a quest of denizens of the deep. I'd entice both of you to do this by donating $1,000,000 to your church building fund (or your favorite charity) to the guy catching the biggest fish. The prize would be null and void if any theological discussions took place at any time during the trip.

Roger Simpson Oklahoma City OK

Tom Bryant said...

I am confused, which is not unusual with me. Are you saying that anyone who starts with the "solo's" can join us as southern baptists?

Wade Burleson said...

CB,

If there is no substantive difference between the documents -- great! What difference does it make?

I am not 'arguing' for anything.

This is like 'the fly in the water' to me.

I am pointing out that people disagree on this fine point of doctrine, and the Abstract seems to differ with the BFM, and if fine men and women like you don't see it --- fine!! I could be wrong about the documents teaching two different things regarding man's fall --- I could frankly not care less.

What I do care about are people who yell and scream at others who have interpretative differences of THE SACRED TEXT and then seek to exclude them from participation in missions and ministry in the SBC.

PPL anyone?
The fall of Adam anyone?
Separation of church and state anyone?
End times interpetations anyone?
Congregational rule or elder rule anyone?
and the list will keep building.

There's room for interpretative differences of the infallible, inerrant, and sufficient Word of God.

Thanks CB, enjoy your bear hunt :).

Wade

Wade Burleson said...

David Mills Tom Bryant and others . . .

I am saying that our MAJOR confessional document --- the BFM --- should handle only first and second tier doctrines --- the nature of Scripture, the person of Christ, salvation by faith, the final judgment, etc . . .

We should not narrow our confession of faith to the point of demanding conformity to a particular interpretation of Scripture.

READ CAREFULLY: I am not concerned about the BFM 2000.

READ EVEN MORE CAREFULLY: I am concerned about a spirit I see in the SBC that goes FAR beyond the BFM 2000 and demands for conformity on the interpretation of the SACRED text in areas of minor doctrines, or those doctrines NOT essential to the Christian faith.

Wade Burleson said...

Roger,

Very, very perceptive.

You understand.

One down. 15,999,999 to go.

It might take me a while to locate the others.

:)

Just kidding.

wade

Wade Burleson said...

Rex Ray,

I want to thank you for pointing out the typo.

Rex, I know you get angry with me because I advocate placing only those in leadership who are 'inerrantists,' but I believe that is what is best for the SBC.

At least you represent me truthfully, unlike a few others who struggle with truth.

I am asking that you give me a call today at my office --- Emmanuel Baptist Church.

I have several appointments, so if I can't get visit when you call, I'll get back to you as soon as I can.

Blessings,

wade

Bob Cleveland said...

Wade:

When the issue of infants came up in our church .. after our pastor taught on "hyper-calvinism" one Sunday night, I sat down with our Senior Pastor and our Associate Pastor later in the week (about other matters). Knowing my Calvinist leanings, they both asked about the infant issue.

I simply asked them what God said about infants who die .. or children who die before the "age of accountability". They both said that the Bible didn't actually say anything about it.

So I shared my view: I'd much rather trust in a God Who has so lovingly and clearly revealed Himself in His word, than trust any conclusion I could possibly make about it. I trust God to handle children who die in a manner consistent with His revealed nature.

I never lost a child, personally, but I have to think that'd be the most comforting thought for me, if I had.

Since the 2 documents do show a conflicting view, then perhaps neither is relevant in its statement. Unless I'm mistaken, all the folks reading, writing, and agreeing to it are already past the age, anyway.

Snoofy said...

Just for the record, a moderate needs to speak up here.

I'm afraid, from a technical point-of-view, it is very hard to find perfection in material objects this side of heaven. Why is it important, precisely, that a material copy of the every word in the Bible at one time existed in inerrant form, even though no one pretends it exists now? Is this really a necessary component to the doctrine of God's revelation to man?

I'm going to get technical here to make the point. Although the doctrine could probably be advocated with intellectual integrity in regard to the NT, it's quite problematical with respect to the OT. From R.E. Harrison's (a icon of conservative thought) Introduction to the Old Testament (1969) pp. 219-220 we read:

From the evidence presented by the Qumran discoveries it appears that there were at least three distinct types of Biblical text in circulation among the Jews of the Second Commonwealth. This development, which already has done much to shake the foundations of traditional literary criticism, depending as it did upon a standard "fixed" text, has made it clear that the Massoretic form was representative of only one textual form, contrary to the views held by some scholars of an earlier generation, as has been demonstrated conclusively by the fragments of the Pentateuch recovered from 4Q.

In regard to the OT the question becomes, "What were the original copies?" The text was edited for centuries before we got the OT Massoretic text we have today. In exactly which century did a physical copy become the canonical authoritative text which was inerrant? Before someone inerrantly appended Moses' writing to furnish a more complete history, or after? Are we postulating no copying errors until the final inerrant appending of the inerrant text was accomplished?

If one thinks about it long enough, one will realize the difficulty of the matter.

Rather our fellowship should be based on the fact the Kingdom of God has come, Christ is risen and the Church of the living God lives in God's Spirit to rescue the souls of men. I don't mean to minimize doctrinal issues, but why are you excluding people who choose to wrestle with the details of what you say must be affirmed to be in fellowship with the SBC?

Rich said...

Wade,

It seems that the issue regarding the nature of original sin has changed the nature of the discussion of inclusion in the SBC. While other issues (the charismatic gifts, alcohol, etc.)truly have been what you call "third-tier" and not addressed by the BF&M, these issues are different:

1) This issue does present a potential higher-tier doctrine, as it does deal with the doctrine of original sin (which brings about the necessity of salvation) and the nature of man (which made Christ necessary for that salvation). While it could simply be a difference of "verbage," it also seems that the BF&M could be interpreted to deny the necessity of Christ for salvation of the young and infirm, which is problematic. It is difficult (at least for myself) to simply brush differences regarding the necessity of salvation or Christ for any person born under the sin of Adam into the "third-tier" category;

2) Unlike the other issues, this doctrinal difference IS a part of the BF&M. Thus, the Convention, through its messengers, have decided this is at least a "second-tier" doctrine by affirming it as a confession of Southern Baptists. If our objection is that it is unfair for any SBC institution to require affirmation to something not in the BF&M, how can we make the same complaint regarding that which has been included? If the BF&M is not the standard for being Southern Baptist and we are free to disregard those parts of the BF&M that we disagree with, and yet still desire to be included in the tent of the SBC, I cannot see how we can ever exclude anyone from the SBC.

Anonymous said...

Forgive the anonymous post, but I'd prefer it if my church didn't know I'd spoken with another search committee. But here's a story for you...

I was turned down by a search committee for making this exact point. When asked about BFM2K, I said that I basically agree with it. Concerned with the meaning of "basically", they asked for clarification.

I explained that I tended to agree with the Abstracts at this point re: sin, stating that I believe the Abstracts' statement better explains our need for a salvation wholly of God as described in other articles of BFM2K.

BUT...I also clearly articulated to them that it was not a point of contention for me and that I would gladly work along side people who take the stronger or softer position on inherited sin.

That was it for me. I was soon informed that I was no longer a candidate in their search.

I think a problem arises when peole fail to realize that Article I describes "the Scriptures" themselves and not the BFM2K as "perfect" "divine" "with God for its author" etc.

When BFM2K was written, I was an ardent defender. I still defend several of the improvements, including calling Scripture "revelation" and not just a record of it, recognizing that priesthood is a plural word, etc. I would still defend those changes and others.

The irony lies in the fact that some would accuse you (and me, apparently) of being "liberal"--and even call for your resignation--for taking a position on the sin article that is, if anything, MORE conservative.

I probably would have enjoyed pastoring that church, but such is life. It was a real learning moment for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is the reminder that when Sharach, Meshach, and Abednego refused to bow to an idol, the Lord was with the in the fire that ensued.

Wade Burleson said...

Rich,

I gently disagree.

I do not believe disagreements over the extent and of condemnation for Adam's original sin against God is 'an essential of the faith.'

You may never know you are condemned for Adam's ONE sin, but you are very aware of your own sin, and you can be saved by 'believing on the Lord Jesus Christ.'

And I call 'brothers' multitudes of people who take the Arminian approach to original sin. I love them, I will work with them, and they should be included in the SBC.

I think the anonymous pastor right above this comment articulates beautifully the issue, who said, "it (the differences of interpetations over the consequences of Adam's sin) is not a point of contention for me and I would gladly work along side people who take the stronger or softer position on inherited sin."

Wade Burleson said...

By the way: For all those who are concerned with the babies who die in infancy and are under condemnation because of Adam's one sin, as is taught by the Bible and affirmed by the Abstract of Principles, here is your answer.

The Bible teaches infants who die in infancy are saved the same way those who consciously, personally and willingly sin against God.

They are chosen by God, redeemed by Christ and regenerated by the Holy Spirit.

I happen to believe and teach that ALL babies who die in infancy are part of the elect. They are part of the Bride of Christ. The are partakers of divine grace.

This is one of the reasons I agree with Jonathan Edwards that heaven will be more populated than hell.

But babies who die in infancy are in heaven NOT because they are innocent (Arminians believe this), and NOT because they have been baptized (Roman Catholics believe this), but because a gracious God chose to give them to His Son, a faithful Son willingly died in their stead, and a powerful Holy Spirit regenerates their hearts and souls (apart from any personal sin, or personal faith by those infants).

I believe there are strong arguments to be made FROM SCRIPTURE that all infants who die in infancy shall be in heaven.

But they are in heaven because of God's grace ---

Not because they are 'innocent.'

If they were innocent, they would not have died.

"For the wages of sin is death" (Romans 6;23).

"But the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ" (Romans 6:23).

I happen to believe God has given this gift of eternal life to all infants who die in infancy.

Gavin Brown said...

Wade,

I wil have to respectfully disagree about this issue being a non-essential. I think that the doctrine of Original Sin is actually quite foundational.

However, the SBC is not an actual local church, so I will agree that there is room for both views (Imputation of Adam's sin and the Age of Accountability) within the convention.

It seems that a serious distinction needs to be made between a local church and the Convention...they are not the same thing.

Charles said...

"Then said they unto him, Say now Shibboleth: and he said Sibboleth: for he could not frame to pronounce it right. Then they took him, and slew him at the passages of Jordan: and there fell at that time of the Ephraimites forty and two thousand."
Judges 12:6

No matter how hard I have tried over the last couple of decades to say Shibboleth (inerrant) so that I could be considered "includable" by my brothers and sisters of my Convention, I can only frame to say Sibboleth (infallable) for my long term personal, spiritual and intellectual integrity ranks higher in importance to me than the ever dynamic "includablity" quotient of the day for the SBC.

I move quickly to say to all who can say Shibboleth with personal, spiritual and intellectual integrity that you are my brothers and sisters. I love you and I respect you and I would love to work with you in building God's kingdom. "The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few." Luke 10:2

The closest I might could come to saying Shibboleth is to say "Shibboleth - in it's original manuscripts" but I'd have to add-"which we ain't got." But I have some trouble still when I try in my heart, mind and soul to square that with Hebrews 4:12 - "The word of God is LIVING..."

Brother Wade, you are now where I was in the '80's. Now, the boundary of the Jordan has moved. You are, as I have been for some time now, judged by others to be like an Ephraimite, worthy only to be seized and killed by the ford.

Welcome. I'd love to work with you building God's kingdom on this side of the Jordan.

With prayers that Christ be honored...

Charles

Wade Burleson said...

Mike,

Sorry we disagree. I try to keep the comments on track with the post.

Wade Burleson said...

Gavin,

I concede.

You win the point.

It is important, and it is important to me and my church --- but I don't require others to believe it in the convention in order to cooperate.

However, those who draw a paycheck from Southern and Southeastern are in a different category.

They are bound to believe the Abstract --- integrity demands it :).

I feel a post coming.

:).

Jeff Brock said...

Hey Wade,

2 quick points: 1)There are generations of pastors in SBC churches who are frankly too scared to preach "grace" because they don't trust their congregations to live it out. They simply feel like they have to give them rules so that they don't live out the lifestyle of a "carnal Christian". Yes, I realize there is no such thing, but the true freedom in living out a lifestyle of grace scares the living daylights out of these pastors. Such fears are found in places such as church attendance, alcohol, etc. 2) As a former youth pastor, who incidentally served beside some very fundamentalist pastors (if I may use that expression), I've found that holding and using the doctrine of federal representation is a great tool in evangelism. Why? Because there is a trend among SBC churches to rank and file individual sins. For example, homosexuality has been deemed the scourge of our culture, and Baptists are avoiding such sinners as untouchable, or beyond salvation. That sounds harsh, but it is a reality. The doctrines that hold us under Adam's sin are better evangelistic tools because they avoid political and social misunderstandings of scripture. We can simply approach someone and say "because you were born without hope, come to Christ in whom all hope exists"! It is simpler, truer, and more powerful. I know these doctrines are not the issue. Cooperation within the doctrines (or in spite of the doctrines) is the issue. Evangelism is the truer issue, and is the reason for your concern at the IMB level. If we are going to debate doctrine, at least debate it with the desired end of effectiveness in reaching the lost - not desiring an end of conformation within the convention.

Wade Burleson said...

Jeff Brock,

Excellent point.

Well done.

wade

Gavin Brown said...

No Wade, I agree with you. Employees of the Convention should affirm the Abstract, but employees of a local church (in SBC speak, an "autonomous body") get to weigh certain positions/doctrines however they please.

Of course, all this grows out of my misguided belief that the SBC is first and foremost a Missions Cooperative of like-mided believers:) Crazy, huh?

Rich said...

Wade,

I fully agree that those Christians who don't subscribe to the doctrines of grace (among the litany of other "non-essentials") are still my brothers in Christ and I also have no problem ministering alongside those brothers, not just as a convention, but even within the local body.

My concern, similarly to irreverend fox's, is "simply" this: What does it mean to be associated with others in the SBC if it does not mean sharing a common set of beliefs? And if those beliefs aren't those contained in the current version of the BF&M, what are they?

irreverend fox said...

Rex,

you have not read anything I've ever written apparently.

Wade,

the only problem with your notion about all babies being elect is this: faith. Either justification is through faith ALONE or it is not. your view seems to say that justification is through faith most of the time.

Also, we are in agreement on boundaries. Sola fida, gracia, scriptura...even the Holy Trinity are interpretations of the sacred text. As I said, at some point we have to have tighter boundaries than simply "we believe the Bible is inerrant". TD Jakes would affirm that yet deny the Holy Trinity.

Wade Burleson said...

Gavin,

I think I might do what was done to me. As a sitting trustee, I've just found someone who I believe thinks like me :).

Come join me. I'll get you on!

:)

Just kidding, though you would make a great IMB trustee.

CB Scott said...

Wade, you wicked SOONER:-)

Just as I think I have read your play book, you bring in a new offence.

You are correct to say there is room for interpretation within the tent. At the same time some things are not open to diverse opinions.

Some things are very fundamental (Not FUNDAMENTALIST) to the faith. The doctrine of Anthropology may be one of those wouldn't you think?

ROLL TIDE:-)

cb

Wade Burleson said...

Fox,

Quick thought for you.

Justification is an immanent act of God. This means it comes from within Him. It is an act that 'immanates" from within His gracious character. Nothing man does is the foundation of justification. God justifies 'sinners.' He justifies 'the ungodly.'

"Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus" (Romans 3:24).

You are correct, however, that the Bible teaches quite clearly that we are justified by grace 'through' faith. The 'through' faith is the vehicle through which the ungodly apprehend their justification by God.

Sometimes the Biblical writers, and we, shorten the description to 'justification by faith,' but that is an abbreviation of the full Biblical teaching that is called 'justification by grace through faith.'

This is how every sinner is redeemed --- by grace.

We apprehend justification 'through faith.'

As the scholarly theologian John Gill states in his commentary on 5:1 "Faith is not the efficient cause of our justification; it is God that justifies, and not faith. Faith is not the moving cause of it, that is the free grace of God . . . Faith is the means of our knowledge, and perception of our justification by Christ's righteousness, and of our enjoying the comfort of it; and so we come to have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ (through faith)." The Baptist Commentary Series, Volume 8, page 446, Dr. John Gill.

No man has warrant to believe that his sins are pardoned, he is clothed with Christ's righteousness, and he is friend of God WITHOUT faith in Christ.

But infants who die in infancy and imbeciles who cannot reason are are justified by God's grace without faith in this life (and for that matter without personal sin). They are under condemnation and die for the sin of the first Adam, and they are justified by the obedience of the second Adam. These infants who die in infancy and mentally retarded individuals who cannot reason will only become aware of their justification in heaven --- and of course the gift of faith which they will receive will be theirs' forever.

It just so happened I did not die in infancy and that the gift of faith in Jesus Christ was given to me at the age of seventeen.

But it was not my faith that pardoned me, redeemed me, justified me --- it was God who did these things for me through His Son Jesus Christ --- my faith brought me the blessed benefit of knowing that God justifies ungodly people like me; sinners deserving of hell, and a settled peace washed over my soul.

It is a peace that passes all understanding.

But I was saved just like those infants who died in infancy.

The free grace of God.

So, as you can tell, I have no problem believing that all infants who die in infancy are saved by God, because I believe the Bible teaches God does the saving, not man.

Those babies are justified by God's eternal grace through Christ Jesus our Lord, the same way I am saved.

The question for those who have reached moral consciousness, which includes everyone who has the ability to think morally is this:

Will you trust in the ONLY Savior given for sinners, Jesus Christ?

If not, then you are hopeless and helpless. You will be condemned.

But those who have faith in Christ, even if it is a little faith, show evidence of God's justifying grace in their hearts.

But that faith is not the cause of their justification ---

God is.

In His Grace,


wade

Wade Burleson said...

CB,

I think you meant "offense" rather than 'offence.'

But, who am I to correct a scholar and a gentleman?

And, I am sure the Freudian slip will be loved by many in our little blog world.

:)

To answer your question: Of course the doctrine of Adam is important. I know what I believe and am emphatic about it being Biblical truth. But many of my brothers in the modern SBC disagree, (very few Baptists prior to 1925 would even dare think of disagreeing with my orthodox, Biblical and Baptistic view of original sin).

What I am saying it makes no difference.

We are a convention of conservative believers who believe in the inerrancy, authority and sufficiency of God's Word. Let's disagree but not stop cooperating in taking the gospel to the nations.

wade

irreverend fox said...

Wade,

I certainly believe that salvation is of the Lord. He is the Savior and does the saving from first to last. I struggle with the issue of infants...I assume they are elect...that's all I can say, I assume...

colinm said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Greg Hicks said...

Wade,

Very clever way of framing your point. If you haven't done so already, would you forward your question to both of the good doctors? I'd like to read their response, and I suspect that it will further illustrate the point you are making and then some...

Wade Burleson said...

Tim,

Sorry. I have had some trouble with comment moderation. I think your excellent comment was lost. Please resend.

wade

Wade Burleson said...

Greg,

I have a call in to both instutions, but they are busy men.

I think the point is proved regardless of their responses.

Wade Burleson said...

Well, ColinM,

It seems that you and I have more in common than you might first believe. I'm puzzled why you took your comment down.

:)

CB Scott said...

Wade,

I have to go back to work tomorrow. I am going to miss this little scrimmage. Remember one thing. I am only a gentleman to those on the sidelines. Please stay in the game. You did say you were "in for the long haul" right?

until we suit again:-)

cb

Kevin Bussey said...

I guess my first comment didn't make it.

My fear is the hymn says, "there is room at the cross for you." But there is no room in the SBC.

Winning Truth w/Tim Guthrie said...

Wade,

The questions I keep coming back to are:

1. If we accept the idea of levels of importance of doctrine (tiers); are not the issues of sin and PPL both top level since they deal with the basic nature of salvation and outflow?

2. Who sets the levels and determines the importance of each doctrine?

These may seem simple questions but I believe they are of profound ramifications>

colinm said...

I dropped my comment because it was redundant. When I posted it, your response was not up, and I wanted to give Fox an answer; and being that he is emerging, I wanted him to emerge into the correct answer first. You said what I said in an expanded edition.

We agree much on soteriology and ecclesiology. But my aim is to keep everyone on their toes. I try not to be on a team, because I like fellowship with my friends who have picked teams on both sides and just can't find it in themselves to be cordial anymore. It is sad. And you would be surprised who is causing the division here...and it tain't the "F"undamentalists. Frankly, if ecclesiology and soteriology are next to come down the pike, and if this battle is victorious, it will be a pyhrric victory. Too much political capital is being spent. Materiel isn't cheap, and in this environment, it rarely is renewable.

Wade Burleson said...

Believe it or not Tim.

I agree.

:)

I don't know the answer, but I can say this --- it sure needs to be done by scholars, with due diligence, and clear cut, definable and evidentiary reasons.

Nothing shoddy. Nothing half-hazard. Nothing without clear reasons for moving something from a non-essential category to an essential category and a corresponding demand for uniformity or conformity.

Who does it? I would propose irenic conservative SBC scholars.

Maybe even a panel of scholars like Dr. Dockery, Dr. Nettles, Dr. George, and the like.

TruthOfActs said...

Wade,
When your blog came up this morning, the only words appearing: “You do not have permission to open” and I thought “Ut Oh, the Pharisees have struck again.”
Will the day come when our computers must have ‘666’? I hope it won’t be a group NAMED Baptists leading the way.

My wife and I took our church clerk to the doctor yesterday. She is 68 and raised Baptist. She is one of the hardest ‘workers’ in our church. I wondered if Baptists all over the world would be more united if they asked what she asked: “What’s an inerrantist?”
Rex Ray

TruthOfActs said...

Wade,
Let’s see—you said on Monday, October 30, “I have received probably 100 comments favorable for a statement of cooperation…there have been 4 that could be considered critical of it including the 2 that focused on Ron’s comment—for the sake of keeping the focus on the issue at hand I am closing the comment section.”

Well, well, well—what kind of truth and grace is that? Should Ron’s comment be deleted because two people didn’t like it? He wrote what he thought was the truth. Let’s hear what these two guys say. I thought discussion was the basis for your blog. To shut the post down is what Hitler did to newspapers.

Wade, a few times you have disappointed me, but this is the first time I’m angry. You say you want to change the SBC, but you’re not going to do it with your tail between your legs.
Rex Ray