History is like medicine; you may not like it, but you're in trouble without it. A few Southern Baptist leaders seem to suffer from history deficit disorder which manifests itself in askewed views of what defines "traditional" Baptists. For example,a handful of Southern Baptists recently issued a statement defining "the traditional Southern Baptist understanding of God's plan of salvation." These Southern Baptists, some of whom served as leaders of the SBC in recent years, would verbally squash anyone like a bedbug who dared implied they did not believe the Bible. "We are inerrantists!" would be their retort. It's interesting to me that these self-professed inerrantists have titled their white paper "The Traditional Southern Baptist Understanding of God's Plan of Salvation..." instead of "The Biblical Teaching of God's Plan of Salvation...." Of course, they would argue "We are Southern Baptists who believe the Bible. Our traditional Southern Baptist understanding of God's plan of salvation is precisely what the Bible teaches!"
Here's just a sample of what these modern Southern Baptist inerrantists believe (from their paper).
(1). We deny that Adam’s sin ... rendered any person guilty before he has personally sinned.
(2). We deny that (Christ's) atonement results in salvation ...
(3). We deny that there is an “effectual call” for certain people ...
(4). We deny that election means that, from eternity, God predestined certain people for salvation ...
(5). We deny that any person is regenerated prior to or apart from hearing and responding to the Gospel.
Pelagius might well have considered the above denials orthodox statements of Christianity, but traditional Baptists would not. For example, 125 years ago this spring, Charles Haddon Spurgeon confronted growing liberalism in the Baptist Union by writing the following words:
"We believe that Calvinism has in it a conservative force which helps to hold men to the vital truth" (The Down Grade, The Sword and the Trowel, April 1887)
Spurgeon went on to write:
"In proportion as ministers deny... the old Calvinistic form of doctrine, they commonly become less earnest and less simple in their preaching, more speculative and less spiritual in the matter of their discourses, and dwell more on the moral teachings of the New Testament, than on the great central truths of revelation."
It's not my desire to debate my Southern Baptist inerrantist friends who are attempting to present The Traditional Understanding of God's Plan of Salvation. I simply wish to point out some irony. The word "irony" has its etymology from Latin. Its early meaning was "to disassemble by speech." This means that the Romans considered something "ironic" when someone wrote (or spoke) words which were obviously contradictory to circumstances or history.
It is highly ironic that modern Baptists--Baptists who claim for themselves the title 'biblical inerrantists"--are now actually arguing for the very things that their famous inerrantist Baptist forefather claimed were signs of a denial of Biblical inerrancy and the gospel.
Maybe the issue among Southern Baptists has never been inerrancy. Maybe the issue among Southern Baptists has always been our sin of pride within.