Tuesday, June 05, 2012

What a Difference 125 Years Makes In Baptist Inerrancy

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.


Bob Cleveland said...

I wonder what they'd do with Proverbs 16:4 ... "The Lord hath made all things for Himself: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil."

Anonymous said...

In our family of Southern Baptists (ones who grew up in Emmanuel (I under Pastor Wade's teaching)) would say that they are getting into being over "Political Correctness"....


Anonymous said...

So how do these "Southern Baptists" explain:

Romans 5:12-21:
"Death Through Adam, Life Through Christ
12 Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned-- 13 for before the law was given, sin was in the world. But sin is not taken into account when there is no law. 14 Nevertheless, death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin by breaking a command, as did Adam, who was a pattern of the one to come. 15 But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God's grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many! 16 Again, the gift of God is not like the result of the one man's sin: The judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation, but the gift followed many trespasses and brought justification. 17 For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God's abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ. 18 Consequently, just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men. 19 For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous. 20 The law was added so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, 21 so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord."


Anonymous said...

or how do they explain Romans 9:1-29

"God's Sovereign Choice
1 I speak the truth in Christ--I am not lying, my conscience confirms it in the Holy Spirit-- 2 I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. 3 For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, those of my own race, 4 the people of Israel. Theirs is the adoption as sons; theirs the divine glory, the covenants, the receiving of the law, the temple worship and the promises. 5 Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of Christ, who is God over all, forever praised! Amen. 6 It is not as though God's word had failed. For not all who are descended from Israel are Israel. 7 Nor because they are his descendants are they all Abraham's children. On the contrary, "It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned." 8 In other words, it is not the natural children who are God's children, but it is the children of the promise who are regarded as Abraham's offspring. 9 For this was how the promise was stated: "At the appointed time I will return, and Sarah will have a son." 10 Not only that, but Rebekah's children had one and the same father, our father Isaac. 11 Yet, before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad--in order that God's purpose in election might stand: 12 not by works but by him who calls--she was told, "The older will serve the younger." 13 Just as it is written: "Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated." 14 What then shall we say? Is God unjust? Not at all! 15 For he says to Moses, "I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion." 16 It does not, therefore, depend on man's desire or effort, but on God's mercy. 17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh: "I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth." 18 Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden. 19 One of you will say to me: "Then why does God still blame us? For who resists his will?" 20 But who are you, O man, to talk back to God? "Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, 'Why did you make me like this?' " 21 Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for noble purposes and some for common use? 22 What if God, choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath--prepared for destruction? 23 What if he did this to make the riches of his glory known to the objects of his mercy, whom he prepared in advance for glory-- 24 even us, whom he also called, not only from the Jews but also from the Gentiles? 25 As he says in Hosea: "I will call them 'my people' who are not my people; and I will call her 'my loved one' who is not my loved one," 26 and, "It will happen that in the very place where it was said to them, 'You are not my people,' they will be called 'sons of the living God.' " 27 Isaiah cries out concerning Israel: "Though the number of the Israelites be like the sand by the sea, only the remnant will be saved. 28 For the Lord will carry out his sentence on earth with speed and finality." 29 It is just as Isaiah said previously: "Unless the Lord Almighty had left us descendants, we would have become like Sodom, we would have been like Gomorrah.""


Anonymous said...

I mean I don't know...those passages there seem pretty straight forward....so....not sure how they are explaining 1,2,4 away....and these are in the new testament...so they really can't say... "Well thats Old Testament talk, and you don't really follow by that any more".
Maybe you can explain better how they are dismissing huge passages away from the Bible.

To me, it almost reminds me of an encounter I had once with a Jehovah Witness on the internet where they strung passages together and spliced verses together, cutting out parts of it to make it read all like one passage to fit what they wanted it to say. They left the references with the verses. When I took the time to read the passages and context of the verses and the full verses they had hacked....it didn't flow at all and was taken completely out of context.


Rex Ray said...


“We are inerrantists!” is the ‘code word’ for approval by the powers that be—that is the ‘conservative resurgence’ that high jacked the SBC.

When Paige Patterson ‘attacked’ the IMB for having women over men, the first line of defense was “We are all inerrantists.”

1. “We deny that Adam’s sin…rendered any person guilty before he has personally sinned.” is confusing the way it is stated since all are born sinners but are NOT accountable until the age God determines.

2. “We deny that (Christ) atonement results in salvation…” is an incomplete sentence that cannot be ‘judged’.

3. “We deny that there is an “effectual call” for certain people…” is a grey area that only God knows for sure since man can so easily fool himself. For instance, why are there about two would be pastors for every church?

4. “We deny that election means that, from eternity, God predestined certain people for salvation…” To me “election” means I’m NOT voting for Obama, but I agree God didn’t design some people for hell and some for heaven.

5. “We deny that any person is regenerated prior to or apart from hearing and responding to the Gospel.” That would mean no one was saved before Calvary, but other than that I whole heartedly agree.

Aussie John said...

I can only shake my head in amazement, but I'm certain Pelagius would be please.

The very first sentence implies a very user-friendly,cheap aproach to God's great grace:

"We affirm that the Gospel is the good news that God has made A WAY (not THE way) of salvation through the life, death, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ for any(??) person.

Anonymous said...

You are soooo right about this one.


Tim G said...

Do you thus believe that some babies who die go to hell? I ask this honestly based on your points that are denied in the statement.

Unknown said...

"Maybe the issue among Southern Baptists has never been inerrancy. Maybe the issue among Southern Baptists has always been our sin of pride within." Well said - spiritual arrogance is killing us.

Wade Burleson said...

Tim G.

I believe any sinner, including babies, go to heaven by God's grace, Christ's atonement and the Spirit's regeneration.

"The wages of sin is death."

Aussie John said...


There is a disease inflicting a large part of what claims to be Christin, which Martin Luther identifies, very clearly:

"Did the Law ever love me? Did the Law ever sacrifice itself for me? Did the Law ever die for me? On the contrary, it accuses me, it frightens me, it drives me crazy. Somebody else saved me from the Law, from sin and death unto eternal life. That Somebody is the Son of God (Who loved me and gave Himself for me). Hence, Christ is no Moses, no tyrant, no lawgiver, but the Giver of grace, the Savior, full of mercy. (p.65)

Luther then goes on to say on page 66:

"Visualize Christ in these His true colors. I do not say that it is easy. Even in the present diffusion of the Gospel light, I have much trouble to see Christ as Paul portrays Him. So deeply has THE DISEASED OPINION THAT CHRIST IS A LAWGIVER (my emphasis) sunk into my bones. You younger men are a good deal better off than we who are old. You have never become infected with the nefarious errors on which I suckled all my youth, until at the mention of the name of Christ I shivered with fear. You, I say, who are young may learn to know Christ in all His sweetness. For Christ is Joy and Sweetness to a broken heart. Christ is a Lover of poor sinners and such a Lover that He gave Himself for us. Now if this is true, and it is true, then are we never justified by our own righteousness.

(Martin Luther's commentary on Galatians, Google books)

Tim G said...

Your answer would lead one to believe that you thus do not know whether a baby that dies goes to heaven. Am I right? Thus some do and some don't?

I am curious about this in the Calvinist thought and doctrine. I have yet to find anyone who will explain/flesh this out publically.

Anonymous said...

Safe in the Arms of God by John MacArthur deals with this from a reformed point of view.

Anonymous said...

You are right, no one seems willing to discuss this matter. I have asked this same question many times. It appears that the Calvinists would like to have it both ways on this issue. However, the simple conclusion is, if you believe in election then logically you must believe that God creates some people (who all begin as babies) for whom there is no hope of salvation. If I am wrong would someone please just say so. The answer to Tim's question should be as simple as "Yes"or "No".

Ramesh said...

Wade has answered this question here and here.

Anonymous said...

Thy Peace,
Thank you for the links. It appears that Bro. Wade has given a clear and concise answer to the question. However, he, by his own admission, is not a Calvinist.I am afraid that many would disagree with his answer.

Wade Burleson said...

Thy Peace,

Thanks! I hope Tim clicks your links.


Unknown said...

A very good article. Thank you.

Tim G said...

Having read your articleband posts as linked above, I now have come realize that those who claim the term Calvinist are as varied as those who don't.

Your provisions for babies and the mentally ill are rare compared to much of the discussion today. I would also say you may not be a full Calvinist with holding to that provision.

Thank you!

Anonymous said...

The real issue is that they are so blind to the real issues that their position is both apostate and damnable yet they fail to realize either.

Romans 5:1

I know, I know, its inflammatory; yet it is true.

Debbie Kaufman said...

Tim G: It is a consistent view unless you can provide proof that it isn't. Do a search and you will find it to be a pretty uniform Reformed view.

Anonymous said...

I guess Baptists must be bored so they have to find something new to argue and fight about. The average person in the pew does not give a second thought to their musings.