Infographic: SBC Traditional Soteriological Statement: A Mighty Majority?

Below is an infographic for “A Statement of the Traditional Southern Baptist Understanding of the Plan of Salvation”.

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  • Christopher O’Neil

    In terms of its position regarding general versus particular atonement, I imagine “A Statement of the Traditional Southern Baptist Understanding of the Plan of Salvation” truly does represent the beliefs of a majority of Southern Baptists and Southern Baptist leaders. But in their statement and defenses of their stance on original sin, I suspect the drafters and signatories have placed themselves and their document well outside not only SBC tradition, but the SBC majority.

    It is interesting that in drawing a line in the sand on the Calvinism question, they have also set battle lines as to the imputation of Adam’s sin to all mankind and whether man is capable of responding to Christ of his own accord. I wonder if that was intentional, and the drafters are seeking not only to express a rejection of Calvinism but also to push the SBC further away from an imputational understanding of original sin, or whether this was an unintentional miscalculation.

    Regardless, it is clear that the signatories and defenders now fight a war on two fronts. In fact, the apparent similarity of the document’s claims to Semi-Pelagianism has become the centerpiece for debate. Certainly, that result cannot have been intended. It is also not surprising, however. Calvinists within the SBC may not like that the document seems to explicitly draw a dividing line between them and “Traditional Southern Baptists” for many important reasons, but ultimately they are accustomed to challenges against their soteriology. Southern Baptists in general are not so accustomed to attempts to have their doctrine of original sin defined for them.

    • http://www.thedailybleat.com/ Joshua Breland

      Chris,

      It appears from Eric Hankins’ new post that they are “digging in” and will not be revising the statement. I don’t believe they truly hold to a semi-Pelagian understanding but the document is so poorly worded you cannot arrive at anything less.

      • Christopher O’Neil

        The “Semi-Pelagian” label never really mattered in the first place, any more than “Calvinist,” “Arminian,” or any other label. What matters is the doctrine, not the label. So much of the fallout from the document’s release has focused on whether its assertions fall under the definition of Semi-Pelagianism, but that misses the point.

        The question, as raised quite explicitly in the document, is whether a majority of Southern Baptists believe the doctrines set forth. In my understanding, the relevance of the Semi-Pelaginism question is whether Southern Baptists align with 1) the Calvinist assertion that original sin condemns all men and renders them totally unable to choose God unless he first elects to reveal to them his irresistible grace; 2) the Arminian assertion that original sin condemns all men and renders them totally unable to respond to God, but the Holy Spirit has made all men capable of responding or resisting according to their free will; or 3) the Semi-Pelagian assertion that original sin involves the transference of a mere tendency, not an imputation of sin or guilt, and does not impact man’s ability to respond to God.

        It seems that the document’s proponents are now focused on arguing that their position is something different. Something… “traditional.” They would distinguish their beliefs from any of the categories above, and create a new fourth category, “Traditionalism,” that occupies some portion of the space between Arminianism and Semi-Pelagianism. I certainly have no problem with that, although I take serious issue with the name.

        But whether it is distinguishable from Semi-Pelagianism or not, and I do not dispute that the two doctrines can be reasonably distinguished, there can be no dispute that the position set forth in this document moves closer to Semi-Pelagianism than either Calvinism or Arminianism have ever been willing to go. And the question, for the purposes of this document, is whether a majority of “traditional” Southern Baptists are truly ready to discard an imputational understanding of original sin.

        • http://www.thedailybleat.com/ Joshua Breland

          “And the question, for the purposes of this document, is whether a majority of “traditional” Southern Baptists are truly ready to discard an imputational understanding of original sin.”

          Well said!

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