Friday, November 16, 2007

Current Baptist Theology: Mixed-up and Inconsistent

As a Southern Baptist myself, I can speak freely and from an informed position on this issue: I believe Southern Baptists in general have a mixed-up and inconsistent theology of salvation.

I am not talking about statements of faith such as the Abstract of Principles or the Baptist Faith and Message 2000.

I am talking about the average Southern Baptist who faithfully attends church and loves the Lord Jesus. I am in no way questioning the actual salvation of the Baptists I am discussing.

Here is the Baptist inconsistency: prior to salvation, the typical Southern Baptist believes that it is ultimately his own choice as to whether or not he accepts Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. In other words, it is the human who is sovereign over his getting saved (he has free will).

However, after the moment of salvation, the Southern Baptist believes that he will always be saved. He holds to what is called "perseverance of the saints" or "eternal security." He believes that God is sovereign to hold his salvation securely.

Do you see the mixed-up inconsistency? In this soteriology, God is sovereign after salvation, but not before. So the Southern Baptist believes that God actually changes in His sovereignty prior to and after salvation.

Unfortunately for the Southern Baptist, this combination of beliefs is absurd and unbiblical. Either God is sovereign over salvation or He is not. This must refer to what occurs before and after salvation. God does not change character (in this case referring to His sovereignty) just because a person gets saved.

If you have ever read this blog before, you know that I am not an Arminian. However, I was raised in that tradition, and understand it well. I grew up being taught that God desires that all people come to know Him as Lord and Savior (I believe that now but in a different way). I was told that God is most honored when people, who have complete free will, reject the things of the world and submit to Him as Lord. I believed that God elected based on His foreknowledge of who would choose Him. I held to a general atonement. Finally, I believed that after I was saved, I could also reject God's salvation at any point in time.

The Arminian belief system, although I disagree with it, is consistent. Man's free will reigns supreme. God hopes all will be saved, but can only "woo" people and hope for the best.

I have made it clear by now that I now hold to the Doctrines of Grace (Reformed Theology or Calvinism). This belief system is, like Arminianism, consistent. God is sovereign over salvation both before and after salvation. The well-known acrostic TULIP explains it fairly well. Man is totally depraved, and therefore has no ability to choose God or desire to do so. God unconditionally elects those who will be saved. Christ's atoning work on the cross is limited to the elect. God's grace is irresistible (effectual). Finally, saints persevere to the end (God's saving work is secure). In this belief system, God reigns as the sovereign of the universe. Man's only free will is to follow his own desires.

Calvinism is consistent.

I switched to Reformed theology about 4 years ago after studying the bible in depth for several months looking at this particular issue. I believe that Calvinism is, quite simply, much more biblical than Arminianism.

Now back to most current Southern Baptists. Most in the SBC are Arminian before salvation and Reformed after. How can this be? How can God be sovereign at one point and not at another?

I am putting out a call to all Southern Baptists: Please be consistent in your view of salvation. As folks who claim to be "people of the book," at least then be consistent in your beliefs about the God who wrote the book. You are being unfair if you believe in free will before salvation, but God's sovereignty after it.

Please, Southern Baptists, if you have such a deep desire to have free will, then give up on perseverance of the saints. Just grasp onto Wesleyan-Arminian theology all the way. Either that or submit to God's sovereign election and control over all aspects of salvation.

Southern Baptists must do away with this current inconsistent, mixed-up theology of salvation. God is sovereign or He is not. Make a decision one way or the other - and do it with your bibles open.


Aussie John said...


This country has the same inconsistencies of which you speak They began aroun 1628, as identified by Augustus Toplady: "When archbishop Laud's papers were examined, a letter was found among them, thus endorsed with that prelate's own hand: "March, 1628. A Jesuit's Letter, sent to the Rector at Bruxels, about the ensuing Parliament." The design of this letter was to give the Superior of the Jesuits, then resident at Brussels, an account of the posture of civil and ecclesiastical affairs in England; an extract from it I shall here subjoin: "Father Rector, let not the damp of astonishment seize upon your ardent and zealous soul, in apprehending the sodaine and unexpected calling of a Parliament. We have now many strings to our bow. We have planted that soveraigne drugge Arminianisme, which we hope will purge the Protestants from their heresie; and it flourisheth and beares fruit in due season. For the better prevention of the Puritanes, the Arminians have already locked up the Duke's (of Buckingham) eares; and we have those of our owne religion, which stand continually at the Duke's chamber, to see who goes in and out: we cannot be too circumspect and carefull in this regard. I am, at this time, transported with joy, to see how happily all instruments and means, as well great as lesser, co-operate unto our purposes. But, to return unto the maine fabricke:--OUR FOUNDATION IS ARMINIANISME. The Arminians and projectors, as it appeares in the premises, affect mutation. This we second and enforce by probable arguments."

Eric said...


Thanks for your comment.

I'm really hoping that all Christians will be more consistent in their approach to interpreting scripture. I can speak more specifically for Baptists (because I am one), but I think we all probably have a few "blind spots" when interpreting scripture. I hope we can all at least try to be consistent while trying to figure out what the scriptures mean.