A couple of weeks ago, I commented on a blog post written by Dr. Eric Hankins of FBC Oxford, Ms. My comment reads:
According to many leaders and scholars within the SBC and out, they surmise that most of the SBC is semi-pelagian. If that is so, how much weight should be behind “what most Baptists believe and think is a good idea for others to believe?” The fact is, most churches need more building up in orthodox doctrine than fine-tuning.
I honestly had no idea that such a comment would draw blood. I have heard and read from numerous people within the SBC that churches are by and large doctrinally deficient or “doctrinally anemic.”
[M]ost of the SBC is semi-pelagian? Most of the Southern Baptist Convention is heterodox? Does that include Southern Baptists like me? I think men like Adrian Rogers and W.A. Criswell represent where most Southern Baptists are in their soteriology. Do you think they were semi-pelagian? If you do, I wouldn’t go around saying it. I don’t think most churches need a “building up of orthodox doctrine” (which mainly means indoctrination into Calvinism).
Third, what leaders within the SBC are saying that most of the SBC is semi-pelagian? I don’t know of anyone outside the Founders group who is saying that. I guess there are some Presbyterians making that charge, but I don’t really think Presbyterians should be setting our theological agenda.
So, Hankins labels comments regarding SBC churches being doctrinally deficient as agenda-driven and made by only a small group of SBC Calvinists who are merely attempting to indoctrinate others with Calvinism. I must say, these are pretty wild charges.
Two recent Southern Baptist leaders who have made comments about SBC churches being by and large doctrinally deficient include Dr. Charles Quarles of Louisiana College Caskey School of Divinity and Pastor Bill Harrell of Abilene Baptist Church, a former SBC Executive Committee chairman.
Quarles recently wrote in the Louisiana Baptist Message:
The claim that Baptists did not win the battle for the Bible will probably puzzle many readers. However, evidence to support this claim is plentiful.
For the last three years, Louisiana College has administered a newly-developed BASE (Belief Assessment of Spiritual Essentials) exam to incoming freshmen to determine how well they understand the essential doctrines of the Christian faith.
These are not the lofty doctrines that only erudite ivory-tower theologians discuss and debate in the back rooms of dusty libraries; these are essential gospel truths that a person must understand and believe to be considered truly Christian.
Such doctrines include humanity’s sinful and lost condition, Jesus’ identity as God, the necessity of faith in Jesus for salvation, and our Lord’s bodily resurrection.
Here are some of our discoveries:
• 78 percent believe that all people are basically good and have no real need for a Savior
• 65 percent cannot identify a simple definition of new birth in a multiple-choice question. They think that being “born again” means experiencing reincarnation or transmigration in which a person who has died returns to earth in another life form so that they can make up for the sins of the past.
• 54 percent think that faith in Jesus is unnecessary for salvation. In their view, as long as a person believes in a god and has fallen in love with him, her, or it, he is right with that god.
• 42 percent believe that people go to heaven because of their personal morality rather than because of Jesus’ sacrificial death.
• 32 percent do not know that Christianity affirms the Deity of Jesus Christ, even though the NT repeatedly insists that faith in Jesus as God is necessary for salvation.
• 25 percent do not know that Christianity claims that Jesus literally rose from the dead.
Overall, our freshman scored an 67 percent on the BASE exam, a failing grade, despite the fact that 90 percentpercent of the college’s incoming freshmen claim to be Christians and nearly 60 percent of them grew up in our own Louisiana Baptist churches!”
Source: Baptist Mesage – Southern Baptists must learn to ‘choose our battles wisely’ http://www.baptistmessage.com/node/7527
Last week, Pastor Harrell made these comments in a sermon at Abilene Baptist Church:
So, are most Southern Baptist churches doctrinally deficient? Well, it would appear so in Louisiana in light of the Louisiana College BASE exam. It seems Pastor Harrell has a pulse on the doctrinal anemia going on across SBC churches as well.
What say you? Do you believe the average SBC church is doctrinally deficient?