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

San Antonio: Welcome To The Big Leagues

For nearly two years now I have been concerned that the there is a brand of leadership in the Southern Baptist Convention that would treat our cooperating convention as if it were a local church. Rather than championing cooperation in missions and evangelism ministry by uniting on the essentials and granting liberty on the non-essentials, authoritarian leaders at a few of our SBC agencies have taken it upon themselves to issue, by fiat, the terms of Southern Baptist identity.

I warned that if we did not draw a line in the sand we would soon see efforts to bring conformity to our convention 'post de fact,' by simply changing policies and guidelines at agencies and then a few years down the road pointing to those changes and saying, "See, how can you not agree with this doctrinal interpretation of Scripture: The _____________ (insert any SBC agency's name you please) has had this as a doctrinal guideline for ten years?"

Some who initially doubted me have now seen the light. The issue before us is very clear. There are those who would, using artful and sophisticated language, make it clear that ANY AGENCY OF THE SBC can move beyond the BFM 2000 and establish any doctrinal standard it chooses. Read carefully the following section of this proposed resolution on the BFM 2000:

RESOLVED, That we acknowledge the appropriateness of entities adopting and enforcing additional theological standards such as the Abstract of Principles as a part of the unique responsibility of the board of trustees of each entity, operating in conscientious accountability to the convention, to govern the entity in its charge in all matters theological and otherwise; and be it further

Other than the fact the Abstract was in force at Southern long before the BFM 2000 was even conceived, there are HUGE problems with this very, very dangerous statement:

(1). If an entity of our convention establishes a policy or guideline that goes well beyond the BFM 2000 (by way of a hypothetical example: you can't pray in your closet in a language our trustees don't understand), there is no way under the sun the Southern Baptist can order, demand, or actually remove that policy or guideline. It CAN'T happen. The only thing the convention has control over is the election of trustees. But the convention cannot INSTRUCT an agency to remove an adopted policy or guideline. Our agencies are autonomous.

Likewise, the agency cannot remove a trustee. Only the Southern Baptist Convention has that authority. So, if an agency does not like the fact a trustee is questioning why a particular SBC agency is narrowing the parameters of our cooperation by establishing a doctrinal guideline that goes beyond the BFM 2000 and demanding conformity by ALL SBC churches in order to participate, then that agency just can't get rid of that trustee because they don't like his challenge -- the Southern Baptist Convention alone has that authority.

Therefore, the trustees of the SBC actually control the direction of the SBC. And the President of the SBC controls the appointment process of all our trustees. I believe we need trustees who are committed to not move our agencies, particularly those that represent the ENTIRE convention (the IMB, NAMB, Lifeway, etc . . .) BEYOND the BFM 2000 and make demands for conformity on interpretations of tertiary doctrines a standard of cooperation. We RIP the delicate fabric of cooperation in the SBC if we do that.

Personally, I don't have near as much of a problem with SEMINARIES having confessions that are narrower than the BFM 2000. If you wish to study at a Calvinistic Seminary -- go to Southern. The Abstract of Principles, the document that all professors must sign, is far more narrower doctrinally than the BFM 2000 --and, it is a Calvinistic document. If you wish to attend a semi-Pelagian seminary, attend Southwestern, for the anti-Calvinistic tendencies of the President are well known, and the policies and guidelines of that school will reflect his views. People in the SBC should have a choice on where, and how, they wish to be trained theologically.

But if we don't wake up we will find every single one of our agencies has overnight decided to be anti-Calvinistic, hyper-dispensationalist, Landmark, cessationist and non-cooperative in our work with fellow evangelicals. I have often called the above 'Fundamentalism' simply because my independent, fundamentalist Baptist brothers and sisters at Bible Baptist Church right down the street here in Enid believe exactly like the above. Some have asked me to use a different nomenclature than 'Fundamentalist', and if I could figure out another descriptive adjective to use, I promise, I would. All I know is I don't want our agencies to become like Bible Baptist Church, and only the trustees can insure we don't.

(2). I get confused. Initially the BFM 2000 was supposed to be the document for 'doctrinal accountability' and though those SBC missionaries, who were initially commissioned under the 1963 Baptist Faith and Message, were told they would not have to sign the BFM 2000, over time, leaders either forgot - or intentionally broke - their early pledge and demanded all missionaries sign the BFM 2000. In one day, more missionaries resigned from mission field service than at any other time in the history of the SBC. These men and women refused to sign what they saw was becoming a 'creed' rather than a confession.

Someone might ask, why would they not sign? Were they liberal? No, those who resigned ALL affirmed the essentials of the Christian faith and true Baptist identity(they never would have been appointed if they had not) - but they were now being told EVERYTHING in the BFM 2000 is ESSENTIAL to believe in order to be identified as a Southern Baptist. Frankly, in some regions, missionaries were rightly told they could sign the BFM 2000 and express in writing their disagreements on tertiary doctrines, and after review, they were allowed to stay in the field. THAT'S THE WAY IT SHOULD BE. There should be unity in the essentials, liberty in the non-essentials, and charity in all things. (By the way, I have shown my disagreements with the BFM 2000 on tertiary doctrines including 'closed communion,' 'the innocency of infants prior to personal transgression,' a statement that the Holy Spirit 'baptizes' us when the Bible teaches Christ baptizes us in the Holy Spirit, and the statement that 'justification' is simply acquital and not the declaration of being righteous, but of course, I wholeheartedly affirm the doctrinal essentials of the BFM 2000).

It is very, very evident that there is a growing demand that EVERY single Southern Baptist believe EXACTLY like those who 'are in charge' demand you believe. Now remember -- those in charge are those who are running the agencies -- trustees.
I am of the firm opinion that trustees should be focusing upon the business that the convention gives us and should STAY COMPLETELY AWAY from establishing doctrinal guidelines that go way beyond the BFM 2000, not to mention the Bible.

HOWEVER, if some trustee group, somewhere, gets an itch to narrow the parameters of cooperation at one of our agencies, and then issues an edict that "ninety five percent" of all Southern Baptists believe the way we have written this doctrinal guideline, and then tries to remove that trustee from service who has the gall to stand up and say, 'Wait a minute, that's not OUR JOB' to narrow the our doctrinal standards,' then maybe in the providence of God that becomes the impetus to turn the entire convention around. Maybe.

The man who wrote the BFM resolution to be submitted in San Antonio for convention approval is saying, "IT IS THE JOB OF OUR TRUSTEES TO NARROW THE DOCTRINAL STANDARDS OF OUR CONVENTION -- AND WE SHOULD TRUST THEM." I will borrow a word from my thirteen year old son to describe my feeling to that view -- 'Beans.' :) It's not our job. It's not an issue of trust, it is an issue of responsibility -- we trustees don't have it.

(3). There is a clear choice as to how people should respond to this narrowing of the parameters of cooperation and demands for conformity on interpretions of tertiary doctrines -- conscientiously vote for those resolutions, recommendations and candidates that (who) say, 'Enough is enough.'

Allow me to conclude today's post with the following comments from people who have frequented this blog:

R. Graneemann writes:

The debate is about two SLIGHTLY different views of what Baptists are. One side glories in Baptist distinctives, the other in a broader evangelicalism. One side wants denominational power to enforce their view, the other is affronted by the attempt. One side wants to sign creeds to protect the mother denomination, the other side's conscience is offended. One side sees security in rule making, the other the very death of the denomination. Perhaps it's about two human temperaments, one authoritative and the other free-spirited.

T.D. Webb states,

"Apparently, those who want to impose their view of Baptist doctrine as a prerequisite for anyone holding a SBC leadership position, are sufficiently aroused to do their best at what they do best, especially when they can't specifically address the issues you raise . . . that is, to distract readers from the focal issues of your remarks with clever rhetorical sophistry coupled with personal attacks on the messenger!

In my opinion Chris Hilliard nails it when he write:

We acknowledge that there are Christians (who meet 1st tier essentials) who don’t agree on the 2nd tier doctrines. We won’t declare them unsaved but we believe these doctrines are clearly presented in the Word and should not be compromised. Thus, it’s what separates us (Baptist) from the others. Third tier doctrines are simply ones that we all acknowledge we aren’t quite sure about. We have our opinions (even convictions) but we aren’t dogmatic about them.

Personally, I believe we have allowed some 3rd tier doctrines to come into the argument and confuse us. Is baptism by immersion a 1st tier, 2nd tier, or 3rd tier? Is it necessary for salvation? No. Is it clear in Scripture? Yes. Thus it’s second tier. Is being a continuationist/cessationist a 1st tier doctrine? Is it necessary for salvation? No. Is it a second tier issue? Is it absolutely clear in Scripture? Debated, in my opinion. Thus, it’s a 3rd tier doctrine.

If the BFM is simply a confession of 1st tier doctrines, then I believe we should be held accountable to them. If the BFM is a confession of 1st and 2nd tier doctrines we must ask whether or not we should be held accountable to it as well. If 2nd tier doctrines are as I defined them, I could possibly see the merit in saying yes. But, the problem with the BFM is that it contains what I believe are 1st, 2nd, and possibly even 3rd tier doctrines. Plus, I believe many are beginning to confuse 2nd and 3rd tier doctrines. And as long as the possibility lies that 3rd tier doctrines are currently a part of the BFM or might be in the future, we must not let the BFM become a “creed”.

Chris Hillard does not agree with me on everything. He has let me know that often. :) However, he is an example of a person that I not only could be friends with, but a fellow conservative, evangelical Southern Baptist pastor with whom I and my church are honored to serve with in missionary and evangelistic cooperation. His logic is crystal clear.

There is nothing wrong with a confession containing third tier doctrines, as long as the convention acknowledges that the confession is 'a consensus of opinion,' a 'mutable (changeable) document,' and dissent and disagreement over third tier doctrines is allowed. In other words, it is a confession - not a creed.

That's the way ALL Southern Baptist confessions should be viewed.

Unity in the essentials, liberty in the non-essentials, charity in all things.

In His Grace,


Wade Burleson

P.S. Tomorrow, my most meaningful post of the year - preventing child sexual abuse in our churches and our convention.

66 comments:

Dr. Whitcomb said...

My friend.

You are brilliant.

I mean it. You saw what others never saw. You acted in courage when many sat still in fear. You endured when most would have caved.

And now the SBC is turning. You are a real leader. Thanks for being a Southern Baptist.

Steve H. said...

Wade,
Thanks for leading the charge on these issues. If the trend toward fundementalism becomes the norm it will, strangely enough, have the unintended consequence of creating a lot of independent Baptist churches. Not independent in the traditional sense, but independent of the denomination because we won't have a seat at the table anymore.

Thanks to EBC also for allowing you the freedom and time to take on these issues.

Gary Snowden said...

As one of those who chose to resign from the IMB rather than sign the BF&M 2000, I appreciate your dogged determination to resist the spread of creedalism and the insistence that all Baptists have to believe identically on the non-essentials in order to be considered good and faithful Baptists. I don't doubt that my family and I would still be serving with the IMB had there not been the insistence to sign what by its own language (instrument of doctrinal accountability) became a creedal document rather than a historic confession of faith.

We were in all honesty offered the opportunity to express in writing our areas of disagreement with the BF&M 2000 (which I did in my letter of resignation), but the clincher for me was that I had to pledge to conduct my ministry and teach in accordance with and not contrary to the contents of the BF&M 2000. In good conscience I could not do so, as some of the changes introduced in that document in my opinion moved away from historical Baptist principles of soul competency, the priesthood of the believer (singular), and the autonomy of the local church, just to name a few areas of concern that I had.

I do pray that Southern Baptists will wake up to the direction that an extreme group of fundamentalists wish to take the convention and the dangers that represents for viable cooperation in the area of missions. I think there have already been enough casualties in this battle and continued insistence on narrowing the parameters of acceptable doctrinal stances will only further debilitate the SBC's ability to work constructively with other Great Commission Christians to reach a lost world for Christ. Last time I checked, I thought that's what we were supposed to be doing.

Anonymous said...

I still don't see what 3rd tier doctrines are in question from the BFM. It seems that it clearly describes the confession of what the scripture says about what it means to 1)be a follower of Jesus Christ and 2)be a participant in the wonderful historical tradition of Southern Baptist ideology and polity. Maybe I am just naive but I don't see where the arguments taht the SBC is becoming Landmarkist or Ultra-conservative fundamentalist comes from. Are some just using fear tactics to get their point across or is the SBC really on the verge of the great collapse that is being put forth?

Oklahoma Joe

Oklahoma Joe

Bryan Riley said...

Although I have greatly appreciated much of what Chris Hilliard has been writing of late, and I always appreciate your ministry, Wade, I'm still trying to figure out why we would separate over issues that aren't, as you denote them, 1st tier. If they are a part of our family, why do we separate? Why divide? Why distinguish? It seems contradictory to scripture, contradictory to the motto of essentials, unity, non-essentials, liberty and in all things, charity.

Jim Paslay said...

I have tried to understand all the noise about the 2000 BF&M versus the 1963 BF&M. Missionaries signing one but not the other.

I listened after the debate about the family amendment in 1998. I am still convinced to this day that some oppose the family amendment because it acknowledges that life is sacred from the womb to the tomb therefore upsetting Southern Baptists who are for abortion.

There was also alot of noise about Ephesians 5 put in the amendment talking about the husband being the head of the house. To this day, I cannot understand the opposition to God's Word quoted in a document as a statement of faith for Southern Baptists. I can understand a feminist or a lesbian not agreeing with the family amendment, but missionaries and pastors? If opposition to the family amendment is not a theological problem, I don't know what is.

I can only hope that the messengers of this San Antonio convention will conduct themselves in a more Christian way than in 1988. Who will forget a missions professor from Southeastern, Alan Neely, encouraging people to quack when Dr. Rogers said the word "fairness." Hopefully, we have come a long way from such infantile actions!

Anonymous said...

Your own statement:

"I am confused"

Is all that needs to be said.

Wade Burleson said...

Indeed.

I am confused as to who you are.

:)

Anonymous said...

Wade,

I must admit that while I affirm that we need some measure of doctrinal accountability I am uncomfortable with the present resolution. I was at the first Baptist Identity conference in 2004 where Dr. Mohler first delivered his essay on "Southern Baptist Triage." The problem that confronts us at present is that we have not correctly identified what is a secondary and what is a tertiary doctrine. I for one believe that matters of eschatology, Calvinism, and Strict or closed communion are tertiary matters.
Until we have settled this matter I beleive it is dangerous to use the BF&M2 as a standard for all SBC employment.

Ray Wilkins

Debbie said...

It just goes to prove that maybe we do know what we are talking about as hard as hard as it is to hear and write.


I concur with what Dr. Whitcomb has relayed in his post. But of course you knew that already Wade. :) I am proud to call you my minister. I don't even want to think where I and my husband would be personally if you weren't. It took six years under your teaching to get it myself. :)

Bob Cleveland said...

There's also always the (sometimes) "scare tactic" of "what's next?" Well, I may have stumbled upon one such example.

In a particular narration, a certain well-known head of an SBC agency stated that a particular worship center was built "they way every baptist church should be built .. without a center aisle". The mere fact, all by itself, that one person thinks he knows how all baptist churches should be laid out, and says so, is frightening.

Anyone who doesn't see a trend isn't looking for one. All the actions we've seen have started by someone thinking it was ok to define this, narrow that, or mandate something different. If we don't recognize and react to such things, we'll deserve whatever we get.

CHRIS HILLIARD said...

Bob,
I know exactly what narration you are talking about. Although I highly admire the individual who said it, I found it quite strange as well.

What's next? The type of suit the preacher should wear when preaching?

CHRIS HILLIARD said...

He IS suppose to wear a suit isn't he? :)

volfan007 said...

chris and all,

i almost never wear a suit, and i wear a tie as little as i can get away with.

and, i never wear pink hats!
:)

david

Anonymous said...

Dr. Welty,

[Wade, excuse me for commenting on something you have not posted about]

I’m sure you are familiar with both of these statements:

The Abstract

VI. The Fall of Man.

…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.
The BF7M 2000

…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…

A Few Thoughts:

1. I think it is good for us to think about what the BF&M 2000 retains, omits, or modifies from the Abstract to help us properly interpret the BF&M here.
2. It is obvious that much of the language from the Abstract is seen also in the BF&M.
3. However, the phrase “are under condemnation” is slid from coming after a statement on inheriting a sinful nature (as it is in the Abstract) and put after a statement on man being capable of moral action and voluntarily transgressing God’s command.

The Abstract’s order seems to be:
a. Inheritance of a sinful nature (because of Adam’s disobedience)
b. Condemnation (because of Adam’s disobedience)
c. moral ability
d. voluntary transgression

The BF&M’s order seems to be:

a.Inheritance of a sinful nature (plus a statement on environment)
b.Moral ability
c.Voluntary transgression
d.Condemnation (seemingly because of voluntary transgression because of this order)

• Now at this point, I think you would say “Yes, this just means that the BF&M is silent on whether or not man is condemned because of Adam’s transgression.

4. The BF&M states that “as soon as they are capable of moral action, they become transgressors”. Now, I think all of us would agree that this means that man was not a voluntary transgressor before he was capable of moral action. Hence the language of “as soon as”.
5. Therefore, if we are to be consistent, then it seems to me we must also take the rest of that sentence the same say: “as soon as they are capable of moral action, they become transgressors and ARE UNDER CONDEMNATION” (emphasis mine).

In other words, it seems that the BF&M, when read in the light of the changing of the order from the Abstract and in the light of its own wording, teaches that man is NOT under condemnation until moral capability and thus voluntary transgression takes place first. And if this is true, then this would contradict the Abstract’s teaching that man is condemned BEFORE moral capability and thus voluntary transgression on the basis of Adam’s sin.

God Bless

Benji

Bob Cleveland said...

David: 2 out of 3 is super. You're coming along nicely! :)

Wade Burleson said...

B I N G O

And B E N J I is his name-o

:)

Get ready for a voluminous mountain of words to try to correct your very precise, logical and succinct comment.

I believe, Benji, that you and I would say the same thing -- there is room in the SBC for both views.

For the life of me I can't figure out why there is a blind, almost obsessive attempt to act is if both documents are saying the same thing.

They are not -- and intentionally they are not.

Of course, some of the professors who post here happen to forget to mention the fact that the Abstract was FIRST, so the argument, 'the institution can add further and deeper doctrinal requirments than the BFM 2000' doesn't wash.

The BFM 2000 contradicts what the earlier Abstract taught -- and now everyone who has signed the Abstract is pretending they adhere to the BFM 2000.

Why can't they admit they believe one thing and the BFM seems to teach another? Is it because ANY disagreement on doctrinal matters - even tertiary matters - CANNOT happen in their minds?

I don't know, but feel like we are living out the old fable,

'The Emperor Has No Clothes.'

Anonymous said...

Wade,

On an aside, when you refer to the differences of doctrines within your own congregation, you used the term "Arminian" yet in this post, you reference Dr. Patterson [SWBTS] with the more aggressive "semi-Pelagian." Would you see these two doctrines as different, or why the two different labels, one more "packed-with-punch" than the other? Just a simple question.

John B.

Bob Cleveland said...

I think I'd have to toss my brains out in order to believe that the re-statement about sin an condemnation wasn't done to try to change the message. So the question is why did they want to change it?

Somebody had to decide we didn't want that pesky "original sin" imputation thing any more; wanna get rid of that millstone so as not to offend someone or other.

BF&M2K doesn't simply restate it. It removes what is, to me, a biblical truth.

We all died in Adam. Something like that. Maybe that means only those old enough to read, or something.

And maybe we're supposed to be able to look at objective facts and tell about salvation. No need to get to know God, and trust HIM with infants, etc. Let's formulate a checklist so we can all be comfortable without bothering Him. After all, He's busy with all those other people that aren't like us.

Yeh right.

Wade Burleson said...

No difference intended. I consider Arminianism semi-pelagianism and apolgize if it sounds more aggressive. I did not mean for it to be.

Alan Cross said...

Wade,

I submitted a resolution to the SBC along these very lines. I do not know if it will make it out of committee or not, but I thought it was worth a try. Here is the link if anyone wants to read it:

http://www.downshoredrift.com/downshoredrift/2007/05/a_proposed_reso.html

It was the May 10, 2007 post my blog, downshoredrift.com.

volfan007 said...

wade,

"Of course, some of the professors who post here happen to forget to mention the fact that the Abstract was FIRST, so the argument, 'the institution can add further and deeper doctrinal requirments than the BFM 2000' doesn't wash."

sure it does. if the bfm2k is going to be our maximum standard of belief and practice, then the abstracts should go.

btw, i really dont want to see you walking around naked at the convention. please wear clothes. :)

david

Bill Scott said...

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But wait there is more. Just take a look at these hand-crafted, steel-toed wing tips. Just perfect for the shins of those moderates and liberals that attempt to sit at your table.

Don' forget about our famous neck tie collection. These 100% cotton ties come in a variety of colors (black and blue). They are guaranteed to limit the blood flow to your brain so as to limit your ability to cooperate with others.

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Wade Burleson said...

I ain't the emperor.

:)

volfan007 said...

wade,

also, could you ask your friend, ben, if he could get me a room at the marriot riverwalk?

david

Wade Burleson said...

David, obviously, we have a failure to communicate. I honestly thought you had a room, and until you informed me differently, did not know that you did not. I thought Bill Dotson obtained for you a room, but nevertheless, I'll see what I can do.

Baptist Theologue said...

Wade, you said,

"Everyone who has signed the Abstract is pretending they adhere to the BFM 2000."

Wow! Do you really mean that?

Scott said...

Wade,

It has been absolutely fascinating reading the comments for the last few posts.

You wrote,

"The BFM 2000 contradicts what the earlier Abstract taught -- and now everyone who has signed the Abstract is pretending they adhere to the BFM 2000.

Why can't they admit they believe one thing and the BFM seems to teach another? Is it because ANY disagreement on doctrinal matters - even tertiary matters - CANNOT happen in their minds?"

A couple of comments:

You believe the BFM contradicts the Abstracts, but you have to admit that some people, including some that have signed both statements don't think there is such a contradiction. Therefore, your statement that they are "pretending" to adhere to the BFM doesn't follow unless you think they are being intellectually dishonest. Is that what you are saying?

This leads to the second paragraph quoted above. They can't admit "it" because they apparently dont' see "it". Why won't you allow for that?

Finally, your final statement is a straw man. I think if you queried any of the men who signed both statements, they would vehemently disagree that disagreement over tertiary doctrine cannot happen.


I agree with you in general, but I think such statements don't serve your argument or position well.

volfan007 said...

wade,

i was supposed to have a room at the marriot. now, i dont. but, dont worry. i have a room now.

david

Colin said...

Wow, Wade. This certainly is far from the No-Spin Zone.

You say, "Why can't they admit they believe one thing and the BFM seems to teach another? Is it because ANY disagreement on doctrinal matters - even tertiary matters - CANNOT happen in their minds?"


Interestingly, they (again) exactly DID NOT SAY THAT:

Welty said:
"So reasonable men can disagree as to whether there is said contradiction, and can in good faith sign up to both documents (which is all that Bart's resolution is calling for in this respect, and as he has affirmed in the comments above). It is not a requirement of signing up to either document (or to both) to believe that there is some contradiction. So your private opinion on this matter does not represent the consensus opinion of the convention as expressed through its confessions."


Welty said it can be both. You said it HAS TO BE A CONTRADICTION. The reader can decide who allows more latitude of opinion on doctrinal matters.

Anonymous said...

Do you ever get the feeling that some folks like to force change just to show everyone else that they can do it? In the business world, New Coke came along but disappeared because the consumer rejected it. If we all have to be in lockstep on these tertiary issues like closed communion, some rooster might be able to crow, "See whut ah did?" but the SBC will suffer for it because people just aren't going to put up with such garbage.

Steve Austin

Anonymous said...

Wade,

It seems you are looking so close at the words that you are loosing the context.

The BFM does not affirm what you claim.

You claim that "The BFM 2000 Teaches Infants Are Innocent And NOT Under God's Condemnation Until They Personally Sin" but the statement does not say that at all. You are inferring that upon the text.

If you look at the statement again it reads...
"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."

At the beginning of the quote from the BFM you see the phrase " Through the temptation of Satan man transgressed the command of God" which points to the source of all humanities sin, that of Adam. In your interpretation of the BFM and your source of reasoning, how can man be a transgressor because of the fall to Satan's temptation and not be under condemnation, then become a transgressor when one is capable of moral action and then only be finally condemned? The fact that the word condemnation comes at then end of the sentence does not mean that what is stated happens in chronological order.

You are also out of line for the comment “The BFM 2000 contradicts what the earlier Abstract taught -- and now everyone who has signed the Abstract is pretending they adhere to the BFM 2000.”

For someone who criticizes others for judging your motives you often do so. You do not know the intentions of the professors at Southern Seminary and you do a great disservice to them to accuse them of “pretending they adhere to the BFM 200.” I have sat under many of them in the classroom and have gotten to know some personally and you have once again stepped across a line you often chasten others for doing.

Oklahoma Joe

Baptist Theologue said...

From Dr. Mohler:

“The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary is unembarrassed in our commitment to require all professors to teach ‘in accordance with and not contrary to’ our Abstract of Principles and the Baptist Faith and Message. Furthermore, we expect our professors to hold these convictions as personal beliefs and commitments, not merely as contractual
obligations for teaching. This model of robust confessionalism is a critical dimension of our accountability to the churches. Our confession represents a living tradition, and it is the structure of our theological integrity.”

http://www.sbts.edu/pdf/bfmexposition.pdf

Wade, are you actually questioning the integrity of the faculty at Southern? Please tell me that you are not doing so.

Anonymous said...

Wade,

Isn't it amazing that the part of the convention which practically ignores the great Baptist confessions and wonderful historical creeds are turning themselves and the BFM 2000 into the new canon? Sounds creedal to me...

Jeffro

Bryan Riley said...

Anywone, how is the notion of a second tier doctrine biblically based?

Wade Burleson said...

Theologue,

You are missing the point -- big time.

Every Southern Baptist affirms without equivocation with the major doctrines of the BFM 2000.

The point is over tertiary doctrines, including the basis of condemnation -- which in the Abstract is Adam's sin and in the BFM 2000 it is personal sin.

:)

Blessings to you.

wade

Wade Burleson said...

Theologue,

By the way, nobody's salvation is in question if there are differing views on whether or not a person who never commits an actual sin is condemned by God (i.e. 'infants who die in infancy).

Baptist Theologue said...

Wade, you said,

"Everyone who has signed the Abstract is pretending they adhere to the BFM 2000."

Then you said,

"Every Southern Baptist affirms without equivocation with the major doctrines of the BFM 2000."

So, I am assuming you mean that those who have signed the Abstract affirm the major doctrines of the BFM 2000 but only pretend to adhere to the minor doctrines of the BFM 2000. Is my assumption correct?

Colin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
bryan riley said...

Is the gender issue a major doctrine?

Still wondering about biblical bases for second tiers.

Wade Burleson said...

I believe, sir, you would be correct. If you were to read my previous posts you would see the discrepancies are very, very minor.

Wade Burleson said...

But, they are there!

:)

And to sign both documents with integrity it would seem to me one would need to voice where he/she disagrees on the tertiary doctrines ('the Holy Spirit baptizing vs Christ baptizing,' the innocent of infants vs the condemnation of infants for Adam's sin, etc . . . )

docjoc said...

Why are we proud to be Baptist?

Most certainly it is not because of anything we did or did not do. Most of us are Baptist because our parents were Baptist, or because it is our family tradition, or because our friends (maybe that very special girl or boy friend) went to a Baptist Church.

And why are we so proud of our doctrines and our beliefs. We got them by listening to Baptist pastors and for attending those Baptist Seminaries…who hire only Baptists who must teach only fully approved Baptist doctrines.

What else would we be expected to believe?

But we hold on to them like we thought them out all by ourselves…we are so proud of ourselves.

How could another born again Christian believe anything different than in our “glorious Baptist traditions” that for the most part we had no part in forming?

We thank God we are not like all those other folks.

Baptist Theologue said...

Wade, thanks for clarifying that point.

Anonymous said...

I post anonymously only to protect the innocent.




Baptist Theologue:
You said

"Wade, are you actually questioning the integrity of the faculty at Southern? Please tell me that you are not doing so."


No doubt most of the profs in our schools are great men, however, history itself teaches that this is not always the case.

One, who is now teaching at one of our seminaries, was fired from his position at another one of our seminaries.

All organizations have men who have questionable integrity.

So, if someone wants to question or doubt profs, it is only natural.

Only one man was perfect and He didn't go to semnary. The seminary folks did slander him though.

Winning Truth w/Tim Guthrie said...

Wade,
YOu wrote "HOWEVER, if some trustee group, somewhere, gets an itch to narrow the parameters of cooperation at one of our agencies, and then issues an edict that "ninety five percent" of all Southern Baptists believe the way we have written this doctrinal guideline, and then tries to remove that trustee from service who has the gall to stand up and say, 'Wait a minute, that's not OUR JOB' to narrow the our doctrinal standards,' then maybe in the providence of God that becomes the impetus to turn the entire convention around. Maybe."

I do believe my fellow Pastor that this may be the most revealing post concerning your desires and "movement". Using your experience as a motivator to turn the entire convention around is assuming that the entire things needs turning around and that you somehow have been given the right insight to know that your issues are the ones of most importance.
WOW - just does not seem to cover it. To say one thing results in the whole thing needing a turn is making a huge leap in arrogance and assumptions - dont you think?

Webster7 said...

Wade, in your post, you said: "If you wish to attend a semi-Pelagian seminary, attend Southwestern." In a comment, you followed up: "I consider Arminianism semi-pelagianism and apolgize if it sounds more aggressive."

Wade, your linking of Arminianism and semi-Pelagianism is historically and theologically incorrect, and you're labeling an SBC seminary heretical!

Semi-Pelagianism is the belief that there is sufficient power remaining in the fallen human will to initiate the movement of man toward salvation, but not enough power to bring it to completion. Hence, grace is needed to assist the power remaining in man after the fall to bring salvation to completion. This view was condemned as heresy at the Second Council of Orange in 529.

Arminians believe that there is NOT sufficient power in the fallen human will to obtain, or even begin to move toward, salvation. They believe that there's no power at all: man is completely fallen and totally dead in his sins, and he needs a special infusion of grace to even begin to move toward salvation. God's grace--and it alone--is the cause of the beginning, process, and completion of man's salvation. Since no one could believe or persevere without this grace, all good works must be ascribed solely to the grace of God in Christ, even though this grace is not irresistible.

In short, Arminians believe that all humans are born morally and spiritually depraved and can't exercise a good will toward God without a special infusion of grace to overcome the effects of original sin. Semi-Pelagians believe that humans still have some good left in them and can exercise a good will toward God without the help of grace.

Arminians place the initiative of salvation on the divine side (where the Bible places it); semi-Pelagians place it on the human side (contrary to scripture). That's why semi-Pelagianism was condemned as a heresy.

So, to say, "I consider Arminianism semi-pelagianism" is to say the equivalent, "I consider an apple a peach." They are two different things, and there's substantive and clear theological differences between them.

And to say, "If you wish to attend a semi-Pelagian seminary, attend Southwestern" is to say, "If you wish to attend a heretical seminary, attend Southwestern."

The former is factually wrong, and I hope the second isn't true--or the SBC has bigger problems than it thinks! I hope you correct your post and refuse to blur the two views together anymore. I also recommend that you read Roger E. Olson's Arminian Theology: Myths and Realities to get a correct view of Arminian theology and prevent future missteps on this issue.

peter lumpkins said...

Dear Webster7,

Do not wait without a good dipper and a bucket full of water. Wade retract something? Or correct something?

Know you are surely correct though. Arminianism is definitively not semi-pelagianism. Indeed Arminianism is fully as Reformed as Calvinism, not to mention James Arminius himself embraced John Calvin's teachings. He just would not smoke from John Gill's pipe.

Grace. With that, I am...

Peter

Africa M said...

Africa M says:

Tim,

To say there is no problem, you must not live where I do. Our concern over narrowing the parameters and losing good, qualified missionaries who are willing to sacrifice all so that some might hear and respond to the good news says a lot about what is really important to us. Where I live 99% are lost. We need all the help we can get.

Does there need to be correction? IMHO Yes and it has been long overdue. We cooperate as Baptists to reach the lost. It is time that we quit narrowing the parameters and let good, qualified, conservative, Southern Baptists follow God's leading to reach those who may otherwise never hear.

Will power and conformity on all theological issues be more important than God's kingdom coming in peoples hearts? I hope and pray not. I also pray for more men like Wade who will have a heart for missions and be able and willing to "Wade" into the muck and politics that we call our convention and make a difference for the sake of God's kingdom.

I guess I might say WOW to the fact that there are pastors out there who are willing to keep people from sharing the good news with the lost who have never had a chance to hear over doctrines like PPL and believer's immersion baptism that didn't happen in one of OUR churches or have one of OUR pastors doing the dunking.

While we spend our time building our kingdoms HIS kingdom suffers.

Africa M

Anonymous said...

This could not get any better...People are slipping!

peter lumpkins said...

Dear AfricaM,

Correction and revolution are not quite the same.

The Lord bless you. With that, I am...

Peter

Webster7 said...

Do not wait without a good dipper and a bucket full of water. Wade retract something? Or correct something?

I hope that he makes an exception in this case, since (a) he's clearly mistaken about the comparision and (b) he's effectively (although unintentionally) slandered an SBC seminary as teaching rank heresy.

Bryan Riley said...

I'm sure glad God won't be asking me if I was a semi-pelagian or an arminian or a calvinist. I am looking forward to simply being accepted into the new heaven and new earth because I know Him.

volfan007 said...

is that not par for the course? to slam southwestern seminary at this moment? before the big meeting at the sbc? according to some in the blogs right now....you'd think that dr. page patterson is kin to the devil. so, now, swbts is teaching semi-pelagianism? what?????

ppl's...all baptisms accepted... ecumenism....caveats to the bfm2k...drinking alcohol...dr. patterson is the devil's kin... now, swbts is teaching semi-pelagianism?

this is just getting to be too much.

david

othoniel a valdes sr said...

Since you feel so strongly about the negative leadership positions of some of our leaders why don't you be a man & identify them by name & position in order to give them an opportunity to respond to you & your concerns publicly.
Of all people you should do this since you are so transparent and do not appreciate closed doors & secret meetings.

GeneMBridges said...

At the beginning of the quote from the BFM you see the phrase " Through the temptation of Satan man transgressed the command of God" which points to the source of all humanities sin, that of Adam. In your interpretation of the BFM and your source of reasoning, how can man be a transgressor because of the fall to Satan's temptation and not be under condemnation, then become a transgressor when one is capable of moral action and then only be finally condemned? The fact that the word condemnation comes at then end of the sentence does not mean that what is stated happens in chronological order.


That's an astute observation.

It says that a man (child) becomes a transgressor as a result of inheriting his sinful nature from Adam.

He does not become a transgressor until capable of moral action, and as soon as that day arrives, they are also under condemnation.

1. If men sin because of their sin nature, then that nature is causal to sin, which rather undoes everything some of our non-Calvinist pastors have to say about libertarian free will. Libertarian freedom means that choices are, by definition, uncaused. Freedom is contra-causal. For example, "On the libertarian conception of freedom, one acts freely only if, in the very circumstances in which one acted, it was within one's power to do otherwise--which is incompatible with efficient causation of action. But as I see it, the only alternative to efficient causation is absence of causation; and, if one's actions are only 'free' because they have no causes, then this is not a kind of 'freedom' worth wanting." (Graham Oppy, Arguing About Gods (Cambridge 2006). Ironically, Oppy is an atheist, but he's stating the defintion of libertarian freedom accurately. Just crack any book on the subject. So much for those who deny the doctrines of grace based on their libertarianism. Our non-Calvinist pastors do not generally articulate a doctrine of universal prevenient grace. In UPG, the will prior to its application is free in a compatibilistic sense. When UPG is applied, until the time it is withdrawn (if withdrawn - it depends on the flavor of Arminian who articulates this idea)-the will is free in a libertarian sense, but where did Hobbs argue for UPG? Where does the BFM argue for UPG?

2. What you are noticing, therefore, Brother Joe, is a tension in Southern Baptist confessional theology as a consequence of trying to hold onto both libertarian free will (the age of moral capability coupled with a denial of imputation of Adam's sin is a classic libertarian move, and we know what Hobbs' views on those were) and the Adamic inheritance of a sin nature. That's the real problem here.

The Abstract, by way of contrast, is an Abstract of the 2nd London Confession. Ergo, we need to see how it phrases this issue:

Though God created man upright and perfect, and gave him a righteous law, which had been unto life had he kept it, and threatened death upon the breach thereof,1 yet he did not long abide in this honor; Satan using the subtlety of the serpent to subdue Eve, then by her seducing Adam, who, without any compulsion, did willfully transgress the law of their creation, and the command given to them, in eating the forbidden fruit,2 which God was pleased, according to His wise and holy counsel to permit, having purposed to order it to His own glory.
1 Gen. 2:16,17
2 Gen. 3:12,13; 2 Cor. 11:3

Paragraph 2. Our first parents, by this sin, fell from their original righteousness and communion with God, and we in them whereby death came upon all:3 all becoming dead in sin,4 and wholly defiled in all the faculties and parts of soul and body.5
3 Rom. 3:23
4 Rom 5:12, etc.
5 Titus 1:15; Gen. 6:5; Jer. 17:9; Rom. 3:10-19

Paragraph 3. They being the root, and by God's appointment, standing in the room and stead of all mankind, the guilt of the sin was imputed, and corrupted nature conveyed, to all their posterity descending from them by ordinary generation,6 being now conceived in sin,7 and by nature children of wrath,8 the servants of sin, the subjects of death,9 and all other miseries, spiritual, temporal, and eternal, unless the Lord Jesus set them free.10
6 Rom. 5:12-19; 1 Cor. 15:21,22,45,49
7 Ps. 51:5; Job 14:4
8 Eph. 2:3
9 Rom. 6:20, 5:12
10 Heb. 2:14,15; 1 Thess. 1:10

Paragraph 4. From this original corruption, whereby we are utterly indisposed, disabled, and made opposite to all good, and wholly inclined to all evil,11 do proceed all actual transgressions.12
11 Rom. 8:7; Col. 1:21
12 James 1:14,15; Matt. 15:19

Paragraph 5. The corruption of nature, during this life, does remain in those that are regenerated;13 and although it be through Christ pardoned and mortified, yet both itself, and the first motions thereof, are truly and properly sin.14
13 Rom. 7:18,23; Eccles. 7:20; 1 John 1:8
14 Rom. 7:23-25; Gal. 5:17

Now, that's a lot more clear, and those tensions are resolved. The problem is the BFM. The BFM is apparently trying to straddle two fences, and thus it is generating a tension that can't be relieved without resorting either to libertarian action theory and a doctrine acclimated to it or Refomed Baptist doctrine. I normally agree with my dear Brother Greg Welty, but on this, I must agree with Wade. At best, the BFM2000 is vague, at worst, it is absolutely contradictory to the Abstract. That's one reason why I advocate, among other things, using positive and negative articles that have better clarity and, in consequence, dropping what is now the 4th iteration of the New Hampshire Confession for a new confession that is from scratch, that, perhaps, our better theologians in the seminaries (and not denominational politicians and pastors - some of whom have proven sloppy theologians in recent history) have crafted.

So, to say, "I consider Arminianism semi-pelagianism" is to say the equivalent, "I consider an apple a peach." They are two different things, and there's substantive and clear theological differences between them.

The problem here is that Arminianism has doctrine of Universal Prevenient Grace, so, in reality, the noetic effect of sin on the will is not a functional category. The person is still left to a state of nature to respond to the gospel. It isn't a "real" decision unless it arises from the agent himself, and Olsen says so on page 36. That isn't lexical, historic semi-Pelagianism, but it is functional semi-Pelagianism, because the agent himself is the one who exercises his will, and his will is not in a regenerate state. It is "an intermediate stage between being unregenerate and regenerate" (p.164). Do not confuse what Wade, or any of the Reformed or Sov. Grace people among us mean when we use that word in relation to Arminianism. We are not talking about historic semi-Pelagianism; we are talking about functional semi-Pelagianism.

The problem is that, given libertarian freedom, the Arminian is not in a position to know from whence agent causation comes, so he is no position to say that it comes from a state of grace. How does he know this, if, indeed, the will is free in a libertarian sense? That little tidbit cannot be known, since, by definition, libertarianism means that choices are not caused or, at the very least, their cause cannot be known. There is no way to know if the will is responding from a state of grace, a state of equilibrium, or a state of nature. Ergo, it is charitable to read it as "semi-Augustinian," but not necessarily uncharitable to read it as "semi-Pelagian," because, in the end, they cash out at the same place, and the designation is also quite dependent on the flavor of Arminian. Patterson is no Wesleyan. Wesleyans have a doctrine of UPG. Where is Dr. Patterson's?

The argument is as follows:

{As to Dr. Olsen's work, it has been reviewed. Here is one: http://www.reformation21.org/Shelf_Life/Shelf_Life/316/vobId__5642/)

The second thing is that at certain crucial points Professor Olson misstates or misrepresents his own position. I shall use his remarks on prevenient grace to illustrate this. In line with his argumentative strategy, he holds that ‘Arminius believed strongly in original sin as inherited corruption that affects every aspect of human nature and personality, and renders human persons incapable of anything good apart from supernatural grace’. (142) That is, Arminius held to the indispensability of prevenient grace, just as much as Calvin did: human co-operation is itself a divine gift. (143) But the question is, is prevenient grace effectual? May a person possess it and fail to co-operate with it? Arminius himself is clear on what the issue is: the vital question is: is grace resistible? And so it emerges ‘Even repentance and faith are gifts of God in traditional Arminian theology, although they are gifts that must be accepted by a bare decision not to resist them ‘. (159, emphasis added). Does this amount to a natural power to co-operate or otherwise? Clearly it does. Does it yield a different account of the effects of sin on the will? Yes it does. Is this Semi-Pelagian? Yes it is, even if the stress is laid on the intrinsic power of the will to opt out, to innately resist the overtures of prevenient grace, rather than on its intrinisic power to opt in. Are such acts (or failures) of co-operation important? I’ll say they are, for God suspends his decree of predestination on their divinely-foreknown outcome. (180)

That said, Arminianism is not historic semi-Pelagianism, but neither is it "fully Reformed." It would be "fully Reformed" if it was not semi-Augustinian. But semi-Augustinianism and strict Augustinianism are not the same things. Arminianism is reformational, like Lutheranism is reformational, but, because it is semi-Augustinianism, it is more Roman Catholic than it is Reformed, for semi-Augustinianism is common not to the Reformed but to Rome. It is somewhat closer to Lutheranism in that respect. "Reformed" and "Reformational" are not convertible categories. Those who make that claim are turning their claim on a systematic equivocation of terms.

Semi-Augustinianism states: Through the fall free will has been so weakened, that, w/o prevenient grace no one can love God, believe on Him, or do good for God's sake, as he ought. Through the grace of God all may, by the cooperation of God, perform what is necessary for their soul's salvation.

That's Arminianism, is it not?

Arminianism is fully as Reformed as Calvinism That's a rather latutudinarian view of what is "Reformed," but we all know you're parroting what Olsen says, and we all know that what he has done is systematically discount any "Arminians of the head" for "Arminians of the heart." That simply begs the question in his favor.

Arminianism is surely a Reformed child, indeed, Reformed theologians classify it as a Reformed heresy, but "fully Reformed...?" I believe Episcopius, Vorstius, and Van Limborch might disagree with that, and they were certainly representative Arminians, and I doubt that F. Turretin, or Gomarus (who was forced from the Leiden faculty by Arminians), nor Voetius, who was expelled from the dormitory for his support of Gomarus and opposition to Arminianism, and many others would agree with you either. I prefer the judgment of the representatives of the Reformed tradition itself to Dr. Olsen's ipse dixit.

(a) he's clearly mistaken about the comparision and (b) he's effectively (although unintentionally) slandered an SBC seminary as teaching rank heresy.

Is Dr. Patterson a semi-Pelagian or a semi-Augustinian? As one listens to his sermons on Calvinism, his talk last year, and his writings on the subject, one is struck by the absence of a doctrine of universal prevenient grace. Indeed, if we are to believe Ergun Caner who has in recent history said his doctrine is supported by Patterson is like that of Elmer Towns, UPG has been redefined as "common grace," since that is the term that Towns himself uses. Unless he is conflating the terms, common grace and UPG are two different phenomena. When these men have addressed this issue, they have been quite clear that the closest they come to UPG is the external call, not, ""an intermediate stage between being unregenerate and regenerate." One is by way of design and presentation and is external, the other by way of the atonement and is internal to the hearer. Until Dr. Patterson articulates an Arminian doctrine of UPG for us, and, for that matter, Jerry Vines, Johnny Hunt, and others do so as well, they are rightly classed as semi-Pelagians, not only functionally, but historically. Maybe he has such a doctrine, but we can only go by the information that he presents for us.

Webster7 said...

That isn't lexical, historic semi-Pelagianism, but it is functional semi-Pelagianism

Gene, if Arminianism doesn't fit the "lexical, historic" definition of semi-Pelagianism (as I've shown it doesn't and you agree), then it doesn't make sense to me to still use that term to describe it, whether you qualify it with "functional" or not. At the very least, that's a less-than-clear way of describing it, and at worst, it's an intentionally misleading one (since branding it with a heretical name obviously identifies it with heresy).

The position described by the term "semi-Pelagianism" has a specific content, and the position described by the term "Arminianism" doesn't match that content. Our terms have to mean what they actually mean if they are to mean anything at all. Let your yes be yes and your no be no.

Baptist Theologue said...

Gene, my impression is that you think that libertarian free will is impossible. I’m wondering what your opinion is about Satan prior to his first sin. Satan was in a perfect environment, and he was not created with a depraved nature. Thus, the cause for his sin did not come from outside him, and it did not come from inner depravity. I think you would agree that his first sin had a cause, and I also think you would agree that God did not cause him to sin. So, what is your opinion about the cause of Satan’s first sin?

Michael F. Bird said...

Wade,
Bravo! Well said - AGAIN!

J.G. Machen said that Liberalism is not Christianity. But it must be said, that neither is Fundamentalism!

Greg Welty said...

Gene Bridges says:

[[[
I normally agree with my dear Brother Greg Welty, but on this, I must agree with Wade. At best, the BFM2000 is vague, at worst, it is absolutely contradictory to the Abstract.
]]]

Then you are *agreeing* with me. Do you have any reason for assuming contradiction here *rather than* mere vagueness (which I regard as equivalent to "incompleteness," something the preamble already informs us about)?

The BFM is vague here for good reason: it neither rules out nor in our guilt via Adam's sin. Why not think the "best" of revisers like Al Mohler, who both sat on the BFM 2000 committee and was president of an institution which subscribed to the Abstract? Why think the "worst" of them?

Gene says, "Wesleyans have a doctrine of UPG. Where is Dr. Patterson's?"

Of course, Patterson doesn't tell us faculty at SWBTS what soteriology we must have, beyond the BFM. He is not only aware of our diversity on soteriology, he *encourages it*. In faculty meeting after faculty meeting, he encourages us to *advocate* our own views in the classroom, even if they *contradict* the President's views, as long as we are collegial, and we inform our students of the range of options here. Those are his own words.

This is why Wade's statement is so ignorant. He said that, "If you wish to attend a semi-Pelagian seminary, attend Southwestern, for the anti-Calvinistic tendencies of the President are well known, and the policies and guidelines of that school will reflect his views." This is just false. Indeed, Patterson has personally expressed his appreciation to me individually, for publicly envisioning SWBTS as a place where we can all work together despite our differences in these soteriological details.

country baptist preacher said...

What can wash away my sins?
NOTHING BUT THE BLOOD OF JESUS

What can make me whole again
NOTHING BUT THE BLOOD OF JESUS

Oh precious is that flow, that MAKES ME WHITE AS SNOW

No other fount I know

NOTHING BUT THE BLOOD OF JESUS


My Momma was raised in the cotton fields of Oklahoma, loved her Saviour completely, raised 5 boys and a girl, and played piano in church for over 40 years. She was not educated past high school but was extremely wise.

Momma used to say that I should never let my seminary education or my opinions become more important than those few words of this old hymn. Momma said if my education or opinions were spoken more than the theme of this song, then my words were in danger of becoming dribble before the Lord.

Momma was wise

Anonymous said...

Dr. Welty,

If the phrase "are under condemnation" in the context of the Abstract communicated that it was the first point in which man was condemned [not only on the basis of Adam's disobedience, but on any basis whatsoever], then how can this exact phrase in the BF&M not communicate that it was the first point in which man was condemned on any basis whatsoever as well?

Benji

Karen Scott said...

David007,

Dr. Patterson spells his middle name Paige.

Karen

farmboy said...

Roger Olson's "Arminian Theology: Myths and Realities" is one source that a person may consult in an effort to understand Arminian - as opposed to Reformed - theology. However, it will be useful to consult other sources, such as John Girardeau's "Calvinism and Evangelical Arminianism".

Regardless of the accuracy of the label "semi-Pelagian" the Arminian system leaves one decision entirely up to man: The decision to accept or reject the free offer of salvation. Advocates of the Arminian position can dress this up all they want, but in the end, this is entirely man's decision. Regardless of how much persuading the various Persons of the Godhead may engage in, in order to respect man's free will, ultimately, this decision must remain man's. Appropriate or not, this is leaves Arminian theology open to the charge of semi-Pelagianism.

Webster7 said...

Farmboy, you're right that Arminians believe that it's "man's decision". However, the ability to make that decision at all is a gift of grace. Semi-Pelagians, in contrast, believe that we are fully capable of making that decision in our fallen state apart from grace. That's the difference between Arminians and semi-Pelagians, and that's why charging Arminianism with semi-Pelagianism is, to use farm terminology, pure hogwash.

Anonymous said...

This is what happens with a Rouge SPC and Baptist Churches that don’t want to put into effect church discipline/accountability. The churches 16 Million Minions know it all and they are the only ones that will be in Heaven.