I Am NOT a Semi-Pelagianist

by Rick Patrick on June 5, 2012 · 199 comments

Pelagianism teaches that Adam was merely a bad example whose sin brought injury to himself and no one else. In this view, everyone born after Adam is the same as Adam was before the fall. This heresy is a denial of the doctrine of original sin. It is expressly rebuked in Article Two of A Statement of the Traditional Southern Baptist Understanding of God’s Plan of SalvationWe affirm that, because of the fall of Adam, every person inherits a nature and environment inclined toward sin and that every person who is capable of moral action will sin. 

Semi-Pelagianism is a milder form of the heresy admitting that the sin of Adam passed on to his posterity resulting in our propensity to evil. However, it still maintains that (1) salvation begins with man, (2) this inclination on the part of man toward God is a meritorious work, and (3) this results in man cooperating with God in the salvation of his own soul.

Although the kind of decisional regeneration common in most evangelical and Southern Baptist churches may indeed appear quite similar to Semi-Pelagianism, I contend that the view of Traditionalism can be distinguished from it at each of the three points listed above.

  • Traditionalists do not believe salvation begins with man.  The relevant portion of Article Two states: “While no sinner is remotely capable of achieving salvation through his own effort, we deny that any sinner is saved apart from a free response to the Holy Spirit’s drawing through the Gospel.” Thus, the process begins with the Holy Spirit’s drawing and not at all with man’s seeking.
  • Traditionalists do not believe man’s response is a meritorious work. The relevant portion of Article Four states: “We deny that the response of faith is in any way a meritorious work that earns salvation.” When I give my sons birthday gifts, they neither earn the income to buy them, nor go to the store to purchase them, nor put them in gift bags with bows and cards. All they do when I extend my arm holding the free gift is to reach out and receive it from my hand with gratitude. I believe most Southern Baptists can clearly distinguish between performing a work and receiving a gift.
  • Traditionalists do not believe they are cooperating with God in salvation. Consider this section of Article Two: “Each person’s sin alone brings the wrath of a holy God, broken fellowship with Him, ever-worsening selfishness and destructiveness, death, and condemnation to an eternity in hell.” Does that really sound like a person capable of lending God a hand in His presumably meager salvific effort? What an absurd claim!

Although Semi-Pelagianism was declared heresy in A.D. 529, I have heard more than one Calvinist Southern Baptist level such charges against the afore-mentioned statement since its publication just a few days ago. It seems embarrassingly humorous that they have laid these charges at the feet of the writers and signers of the statement, for in doing so, they are declaring as heretics six former SBC Presidents, dozens of seminary professors and denominational workers, over a hundred pastors and a growing number of Southern Baptist laypeople. If the only thing worse than being a heretic is being a lonely heretic, then at least Southern Baptists will never suffer that fate, for there is plenty of company on Heretic Row.

Ironically, from the other end of the soteriological spectrum, Dr. Roger Olson, a well known Arminian, has characterized the statement as Semi-Pelagianism, proving that politics is not the only endeavor that makes for strange bedfellows. That both extremes should so quickly agree to equate Traditionalism with the heresy of Semi-Pelagianism is rather compelling evidence that they must feel somewhat threatened by this new and crystal clear soteriological view establishing its place firmly between them.

Perhaps one item confusing those favoring other soteriological systems is this sentence from Article Two: We deny that Adam’s sin resulted in the incapacitation of any person’s free will or rendered any person guilty before he has personally sinned. While the sentence referenced earlier clearly embraced the original sin nature, what is being denied here is more properly understood as original guilt. This sentence admittedly takes a very high view of man’s personal responsibility, leaving no room to blame Adam or God or Satan or even our own sinful nature for the sins we have freely chosen to commit and for which we must personally be held accountable.

Yes, in the view of Traditionalism, man is responsible–able to respond. Thus, unlike the Arminian, he needs no prevenient grace to respond to God because he is already able to do it, and unlike the Calvinist, he needs no unconditional election, since God’s election (or salvation) of his soul is conditioned upon his free and faithful acceptance of God’s grace.

My Calvinist and Arminian friends need to hear me say clearly that I do not believe they are teaching heresy. Although I disagree with their positions, I believe these positions fall within the broad category of orthodox Christianity. I would hope, as they consider the implications of this new soteriological system, that they might respond to my Traditionalism with the very same measure of grace.

 

1 josh June 5, 2012 at 5:19 pm

On one hand you say the process of salvation “begins with the Holy Spirit’s drawing.” Yet on the other hand, you reject the idea of prevenient grace. What is prevenient grace if not the drawing of the Spirit of God?

2 Rick Patrick June 5, 2012 at 5:35 pm

Andrew actually had a nice summary of it on Chris’ comment stream, but I’ll try here: For the Arminian, prevenient grace overcomes the inability of man to respond to God. For the Traditionalist, man is already free and able to accept God’s grace in response to the Holy Spirit’s drawing.

Let me guess, if these ideas are so closely connected that you equate them, does that mean I will go from being a Semi-Pelagianist to being an Arminian?

Maybe I should just let you all see my preferred “ordo insultis” below:

1. Traditionalist
2. Arminian
3. Calvinist
4. Semi-Pelagianist
5. Pelagianist
6. Democrat
7. Yankee Fan

3 Robert Vaughn June 5, 2012 at 5:41 pm

Rick, you write that “For the Traditionalist, man is already free and able to accept God’s grace in response to the Holy Spirit’s drawing.”

What is the Holy Spirit’s drawing? How would you define it?

Thanks.

4 Rick Patrick June 5, 2012 at 5:45 pm

Off the top of my head, something akin to the Holy Spirit’s illumination of the Word and stirring of my heart to respond to God’s grace. That’s not a formal definition, but I hope it might suffice.

5 Allen June 5, 2012 at 9:32 pm

Rick,

So- man CANNOT freel come to God of his own doing unless 1st the Holy Spirit moves upon his life? AFTER the holy Spirit’s initiative THEN man can respond in repentance and faith right?

I’m not sure the difference in what your saying and prevenient grace. Also, Calvinist say the exact same thing! Only that the holy Spirit’s work is actual effectual in that He quickens us (Eph. 2, John 3) and we freely respond to Him in repentance and faith.

6 Max June 5, 2012 at 6:12 pm

Perhaps I should become a Democratic Yankee Fan since I don’t feel at home in this SBC world anymore.

7 Allen June 6, 2012 at 7:25 am

“For the Traditionalist, man is already free and able to accept God’s grace in response to the Holy Spirit’s drawing”

Just curious your opinion on this: No man can come to Christ unless the Father draws Him. So, does God then draw every man?

If God does draw every man then is drawing people who don’t even hear the Gospel? Could they too freely “accept” His grace?

If God does not draw every man then did He know before the foundations of the earth that He would create some people who He would NEVER draw?

8 volfan007 June 6, 2012 at 7:49 am

Allen,

Yes, I believe that God is drawing every man…according to the light they have.

Men cannot be saved apart from hearing the Gospel…so, the light of nature and the light of conscience is not enough for them to be saved…..but, it is enough that they should want to know the God of creation, whom they know will judge thier sins.

Of course God knew that there’d be people, who would never hear the Gospel. God knows everything.

David

9 Allen June 6, 2012 at 9:16 am

So we can’t interpret John 6:44 as though God is “drawing” every person in the same way right? Those who never hear the gospel aren’t being drawn like those hearing the Gospel. You at least have to admit that (although I’d take it further).

No one “wants” to know God (Rom. 1-3) And no one can know God unless He first draws them. So even based on your reply God elected some and chose not to get his message to others

10 Allen June 6, 2012 at 9:20 am

To again clarify- God is not drawing anyone apart from the preaching of the Gospel

11 Joshua June 5, 2012 at 5:22 pm

“Yes, in the view of Traditionalism, man is responsible–able to respond. Thus, unlike the Arminian, he needs no prevenient grace to respond to God because he is already able to do it,”

Yeah, that is historical semi-pelagianism. The post-modernism and willful rejection of historical realities going on in this discussion is dizzying.

12 Rick Patrick June 5, 2012 at 5:38 pm

By signers such as Paige Patterson, Chuck Kelley, David Allen, Steve Lemke, Morris Chapman, Steve Gaines, Jerry Vines…

Joshua, I know you’re just debating with little old me, but don’t you think if this were really heresy that some of the above list would have recognized it?

13 Joshua June 5, 2012 at 5:50 pm

Rick,

I am as surprised as you are.

Even non-Calvinist seminary educated pastors I speak with are noticing it is heresy. I don’t understand why these gentlemen did not notice the error.

14 Mike Bergman June 5, 2012 at 6:13 pm

Even non-Calvinist seminary educated pastors I speak with are noticing it is heresy. I don’t understand why these gentlemen did not notice the error.

Um…help me out here… other than they agree with you what makes you’re seminary educated guys correct and Rick’s wrong?

In fact, this exchange from both you and Rick almost seems like a game of, “My seminary educated guys are smarter than your seminary educated guys.”

15 Joshua June 5, 2012 at 6:41 pm

Mike,

I am not arguing matters of authority, just giving Rick a perspective that even his own side is acknowledging the error being presented by the Trads document.

16 Andrew Wencl June 5, 2012 at 5:57 pm

I believe that same argument was used against Luther, Augustine, Athanasius…

17 Joshua June 5, 2012 at 5:58 pm

Indeed.

18 Chris Roberts June 5, 2012 at 7:29 pm

Rick,

One would wish they would have recognized it. It is truly puzzling and saddening that they did not. My guess is that in the desire to position against Calvinism, several sloppy statements were given a pass.

19 Rick Patrick June 5, 2012 at 7:43 pm

Perhaps you are right, Chris, and a bunch of blogging Calvinists have indeed identified a seed of heresy or exposed the astonishing negligence among a good portion of the faculties at SWBTS and NOBTS, not to mention seminary and convention presidents.

On the other hand, as sensitive as you Calvinists have become lately to the injustice of others who misrepresent your views, I believe humility should dictate that you at least consider whether or not you might possibly be doing the very same thing.

20 Chris Roberts June 5, 2012 at 7:48 pm

Rick,

As far as I can tell, you have not disagreed with any way I have characterized your views, you have just disagreed with what I have called it.

21 Dan Barnes June 6, 2012 at 11:00 am

Why do we have to say things like “you Calvinists”. There is 0 respect for one another.

22 John Daly June 5, 2012 at 5:26 pm

What is really funny that out of all the comments the past few weeks, it boils down to like seven people who are actively engaged in this “debate.” I think the average SBC’er (me) is not overly concerned with this topic. As I have stated before the nuances of this discussion should happen at the local church level.

Rick obviously I would never join your church and you would never join mine and praise God we can still meet under the SBC tent. If a person is truly a Blood bought child of the King then that is sufficient for local, state, national, global, and heavenly cooperation.

23 Joshua June 5, 2012 at 5:31 pm

“I think the average SBC’er (me) is not overly concerned with this topic.”

They should be, because some of their seminary professors and Convention presidents are affirming a document that affirms doctrinal error.

As for the average pew sitter, being ignorant or completely uninterested in right doctrine is nothing to boast about. I hope this isn’t the case with most Southern Baptists lest we end up in need of another Conservative Resurgence.

24 John Daly June 5, 2012 at 5:38 pm

I get you missed the part about it happening at the local church level. Visit our church and you’ll get the London Baptist Confession, the NH Baptist Confession and so many TULIPS you’ll have a flower bed. My point was at the SBC national level. And you also might have missed where I said you could inflict great bodily harm on me and I would never sign that document.

AND how many seminary professors are already teaching doctrinal error?

25 Rick Patrick June 5, 2012 at 5:46 pm

However, I’m not sure at all that I agree that we have many seminary professors teaching doctrinal error.

26 John Daly June 5, 2012 at 5:49 pm

To be fair, I did not say many, I said how many? You might be reading and responding too fast :)

27 Rick Patrick June 5, 2012 at 5:51 pm

I thought the question implied a significant number.

28 Joshua June 5, 2012 at 5:55 pm

John,

I wasn’t addressing your statement but the perceived reality of doctrinal apathy going on in the SBC.

I agree with all you said.

29 Rick Patrick June 5, 2012 at 5:42 pm

I agree John. We can cooperate together in Southern Baptist life.

30 Andrew Wencl June 5, 2012 at 5:29 pm

That both extremes should so quickly agree to equate Traditionalism with the heresy of Semi-Pelagianism is rather compelling evidence that they must feel somewhat threatened by this new and crystal clear soteriological view establishing its place firmly between them.

Wow. When the Arminians and the Calvinists look at something and say, “That looks like semi-Pelagianism,” they must be in cahoots.

31 Brent Hobbs June 5, 2012 at 5:58 pm

Andrew’s comment here hit the nail on the head.

32 Allen June 5, 2012 at 5:32 pm

I appreciate your post and think I understand your heart on this. However, I have a couple problems.

1. I don’t understand why we are arguing original guilt. Paul lays out in Romans 5:12ff the explanation of imputed guilt and imputed righteousness. We get credit for Adam’s sin just like we get credit for Christ’s righteousness. I honestly didn’t know so many actually had an issues with this.

2. In every view stated above man is RESPONSIBLE to respond to the Gospel. But Jesus says no man can positively respond to the Gospel. No man can come to Christ. No man has the ability. UNLESS God intervenes. John 6:44. Calvinists believe man is responsible and so do traditionalist and so do Arminians.

33 Andrew Wencl June 5, 2012 at 5:35 pm

What’s a “semi-Pelagianist?” Maybe I’m not qualified to speak on the belief system if I don’t know the proper terms. I’ve always thought they were semi-Pelagians.

34 Rick Patrick June 5, 2012 at 6:14 pm

Fine, but I’ve read the term with the -ist ending in journals, encyclopedias and blogs. Also there is a mystic group from Italy in the 1600′s called the “Pelagians” who would be insulted to identify with Southern Baptist heretics like me. Finally, much like my linguistic preference for Traditionalist, I like keeping the same -ist ending on theological labels.

I’ll be praying that God will give you the grace to overlook my terminology.

35 Jerry June 5, 2012 at 5:37 pm

If it looks like a duck and sounds like a duck…

The fact that both Roger Olson AND Tom Ascol think that it looks like semi-Pelagianism should give even the casual observer some pause.

The shame is that the average SBC’er isn’t concerned, overtly or not.

36 BDW June 5, 2012 at 7:36 pm

Are there other prominent Arminians voicing agreement with Olson?

Because, I’m not prepared to take Olson as some authoritative source. He himself has long been accused of being semi-Pelagianism, right? Frankly, this looks like a good opportunity for him to return the favor in the direction of a group that he doesn’t exactly have much love for…

37 Dan Barnes June 5, 2012 at 5:37 pm

That both extremes should so quickly agree to equate Traditionalism with the heresy of Semi-Pelagianism is rather compelling evidence that they must feel somewhat threatened by this new and crystal clear soteriological view establishing its place firmly between them.

Maybe it’s not fear or being threatened. If I see a bear, I say it’s a bear, not because I’m threatened (which I may be) but because it’s a bear. The bear can says “well I am clearly a moose, and you must feel threatened, but I have dark black fir, which clearly makes me a moose”, but it’s still a bear. I’ll still call it a bear, whether it admits it’s a bear or not.

38 Christiane June 5, 2012 at 5:52 pm

now it’s talking bears . . . this is getting good

39 Andy Miller June 5, 2012 at 5:37 pm

Is this soteriological position new or Traditional? I’m not sure I understand how it can be both.

40 Rick Patrick June 5, 2012 at 6:02 pm

“Traditionally” held by many if not most of our Southern Baptist churches here in America, perhaps in the same way that your Traditional service might feature hymns from the 1950′s (but not of the 1850′s) rather than the choruses of the new millennium featured in your Contemporary service.

“Newly” formulated and published as a Ten Point Soteriological System last week with the opportunity to replace the Five Points of Calvinism as a reference for discussions of Southern Baptist soteriology.

Hence, both Traditional and New.

41 Andy Miller June 5, 2012 at 6:23 pm

Are you sure you want to compare the statement to 1950s hymns? I’m probably showing my age with that jab.

42 Rick Patrick June 5, 2012 at 8:47 pm

Just trying to point out that the word “traditional” need not go back to 1845 or to the 1500′s.

43 Joshua June 5, 2012 at 8:52 pm

Rick,

It doesn’t even go back to the 1925 BF&M…

44 Jim June 5, 2012 at 5:38 pm

This puts the matter clearly in blight and whack terms, except where it paints it in shades of whighk and blat.

45 Doug Hibbard June 5, 2012 at 8:21 pm

Now that is a comment worth reading twice.

46 Godismyjudge June 5, 2012 at 5:42 pm

“Ironically, from the other end of the soteriological spectrum, Dr. Roger Olson, a well known Arminian, has characterized the statement as Semi-Pelagianism, proving that politics is not the only endeavor that makes for strange bedfellows. That both extremes should so quickly agree to equate Traditionalism with the heresy of Semi-Pelagianism is rather compelling evidence that they must feel somewhat threatened by this new and crystal clear soteriological view establishing its place firmly between them.”

This view is not in between Arminianism and Calvinism. In this view grace does less than it does in either A or C.

God be with you,
Dan

47 Rick Patrick June 5, 2012 at 6:24 pm

Dan,

You know, of course, that I will never admit that God’s grace is greater in your system than in mine. Can we not agree that God’s grace is equally amazing and mighty and powerful regardless of our theological view?

It is by grace, in my view, that God has made man totally free to accept His grace. I just think it’s not right for you to claim more grace for the Arminian view or the Calvinist view than for the Traditionalist view.

48 Godismyjudge June 5, 2012 at 7:19 pm

Rick,

“It is by grace, in my view, that God has made man totally free to accept His grace.”

Twas grace that taught my heart to fear and grace my fears relieved…

So in your view, God’s grace has to first free us to accept? That sounds a lot like preveinient grace to me. Is it just the term PG you don’t like or am I missing something?

God be with you,
Dan

49 Rick Patrick June 5, 2012 at 8:54 pm

You are all missing something, but I don’t blame you. I think our different viewpoints almost force us to speak a different language. We use some of the same words, but we do not mean the same things by them.

By the way, the statement could not be more clear that the salvation process begins with God’s Holy Spirit drawing us by grace. It’s not a work of man, not even partly. It is not Semi-Pelagianism.

50 Chris Roberts June 5, 2012 at 8:55 pm

A semi-Pelagian could say what you said.

51 Godismyjudge June 5, 2012 at 10:00 pm

Rick,

Avoiding equivocation is part of why I asked. You denied PG, but that’s typically and Arminian or RC term. But with enough description, miss understanding can be avoided.

Many parts of the statement deny semi-Pelagianism, which is why I asked if you spoke for the group (since the statement your opening post denying PG, if you define PG in the normal Arminian sense, seems to contradict the statement).

So to be clear, PG minimally means we need God’s super-natural grace to enable us to believe in Christ. Could you agree with PG under this general description?

God be with you,
Dan

52 Godismyjudge June 5, 2012 at 5:48 pm

Rick,

When you deny the necessity of prevenient grace, do you speak for the group of signers or have some insight into their original intent?

God be with you,
Dan

53 Rick Patrick June 5, 2012 at 6:29 pm

I do not speak for the signers, but my understanding is that the statement expresses no need for a pre-gospel work of God such as prevenient grace or unconditional election to overcome man’s inability to respond to God, simply because God has created man in such a way that he already possesses the free will to express that faith.

54 Godismyjudge June 5, 2012 at 7:22 pm

Rick,

Creation is typically called “nature” in distinction to super-natural grace. So what do you mean when you say God’s grace makes us free?

God be with you,
Dan

55 David R. Brumbelow June 5, 2012 at 5:55 pm

Rick,
You’ve presented some very good thoughts. Thanks.
Interesting how the majority of the SBC, is the minority here.
David R. Brumbelow

56 Dan Barnes June 5, 2012 at 6:17 pm

At one time, a vast majority of Christians believed that Jesus was created by the Father until the Council of Nicaea. Not sure that majority argument helps your cause much.

57 Rick Patrick June 5, 2012 at 6:31 pm

Thank you, David. Sometimes I feel like a Traditionalist fish in a bowl looking out at all these Calvinist Cats circling around the coffee table.

58 Dan Barnes June 7, 2012 at 12:06 am

How are the Calvinists such a threat when such a minority?

59 Frank Turk June 5, 2012 at 5:57 pm

Rick –

There are a lot of funny moments being generated by this ex nihilo document, and your post is one of them. The term is “semi-pelagian” and not “semi-pelagianist” for starters, which interests me only insofar as it show how essentially familiar you are with the issues at stake here.

It’s odd, I think, that you stick to the “top” of the document rather than to the “bottom” of the argument where the force of the arguments being built by the affirmations and denials really catch a footing. For example, how does Article 4 relate to Article 10? Doesn’t something about 10 require 4? If so, what does that relationship say about the theology involved?

Lastly, it’s exciting to see you translate the statements about the -document- into statements about the -people- who wrote it. If that’s the case, perhaps we should use that logic to decode the meaning of the accusations in the -document- to see who they are condemning. Unless, of course, there’s an alternative to the conclusion you draw — namely, that the document just has flaws which need correction.

Thanks for the laughs on a Tuesday.

60 Rick Patrick June 5, 2012 at 6:43 pm

Frank,

If the document is truly “ex nihilo” and only God can create something out of nothing, then it follows that “A Statement of the Traditional Southern Baptist Understanding of God’s Plan of Salvation” must have truly come from God.

Thus, let me simply say how pleased I am to know that you embrace it so wholeheartedly. Rest assured, I will share your “ex nihilo” description of this document as often as I have the opportunity.

61 Les June 5, 2012 at 6:15 pm

AA Hodge characterized this way:

2. What three great types of doctrine on the subject of human ability to fulfill the law of God have always coexisted in the church?

1st. Pelagian.—(a) Moral character can be predicated only of volitions. (b) Ability is always the measure of responsibility. (c) Hence every man has always plenary power to do all that it is his duty to do. (d) Hence the human will alone, to the exclusion of the interference of any internal influence from God, must decide human character and destiny. The only divine influence needed by man or consistent with his character as a self–determined agent is an external, providential, and educational one.

2nd. Semipelagian.—(a) Man’s nature has been so far weakened by the fall that it cannot act aright in spiritual matters without divine assistance. (b) This weakened moral state which infants inherit from their parents is the cause of sin, but not itself sin in the sense of deserving the wrath of God. (c) Man must strive to do his whole duty, when God meets him with cooperative grace, and renders his efforts successful. (d) Man is not responsible for the sins he commits until after he has enjoyed and abused the influences of grace.

3rd. Augustinian.—Which was adopted by all the original Protestant Churches, Lutheran and Reformed. (a) Man is by nature so entirely depraved in his moral nature as to be totally unable to do anything spiritually good, or in any degree to begin or to dispose himself thereto. (b) That even under the exciting and suasory influences of divine grace the will of man is totally unable to act aright in cooperation with grace, until after the will itself is by the energy of grace radically and permanently renewed. (c) Even after the renewal of the will it ever continues dependent upon divine grace, to prompt, direct, and enable it in the performance of every good work.

Does any of this fit the statement?

62 Rick Patrick June 5, 2012 at 9:33 pm

Most germane to this discussion, I suppose, is that I categorically reject the Semipelagian requirement (c) meaning that this particular definition does not fit me.

63 Les June 5, 2012 at 6:30 pm

From Dr. Herman Hanko,

One of the opponents of Augustine was Cassian. Cassian did not agree with the position of Pelagius that the will is free in an absolute sense of the word, but he did insist on maintaining that the will is free to a certain extent. Sin as it entered the human race through the fall of Adam did not rob man of a free will, but sin did weaken man’s will so that it is difficult for man to choose for the good; he is in need of divine assistance.

Just as Augustine’s teaching of the inability of the human will to choose for the good led him to the doctrine of sovereign predestination via the truth of sovereign grace, so also did Cassian proceed from the idea of a free will to the doctrine of a divine love which wills the salvation of all. It ought to be clear how these two ideas stand connected: if salvation is ultimately dependent upon the choice of man’s will and not upon the choice of God in sovereign predestination, then it is obvious that God on his part loves all and seeks the salvation of all. God’s love, which is all-embracive, extends to all men. Whether a man is ultimately saved depends upon his own choice of the overtures of love.

Of particular similarity to the statement is,

“if salvation is ultimately dependent upon the choice of man’s will and not upon the choice of God in sovereign predestination, then it is obvious that God on his part loves all and seeks the salvation of all. God’s love, which is all-embracive, extends to all men. Whether a man is ultimately saved depends upon his own choice of the overtures of love”

64 Jeph June 5, 2012 at 7:01 pm

Rick,

It’s funny when you narrowed the definition of semi-Pelagianism to its logical conclusion while ignoring its main distinguishing mark that leads to that conclusion. Shows your complete ignorance of how the debate started between Augustine and the Pelagians / semi-Pelagians.

So you’d know, the debate between Augustine and Pelagius started when the latter protested against the former’s famous humble prayer: “Command what thou will, and grant what thou commandest.” Pelagius argued that God doesn’t need to grant what He commands because men are born with a free determination of will to live rightly. In response, Augustine developed his view on original sin and asserted that all men are born dead in Sin and void of any natural inclination of will towards righteousness. It is only by God’s grace that anyone is able and willing to believe and fulfill his duty. The Church eventually sided with St. Augustine in the Council of Carthage (418) and condemned Pelagianism as heresy. From this moment on, the standard confession of orthodox anthropology is that man cannot perform any godly virtue apart from a prevenient enablement from God.

However, a certain Vitalis of Carthage around 420 AD contended that while all men are born with a corrupt nature and incapable of seeking after God apart from the divine revelation, yet they can still believe by their own freewill upon hearing the Gospel. Vitalis interpreted the “prevenient enablement of God” not as an internal work of God on the soul, but a mere external call of God through the preaching of His Word. Augustine responded by asserting, again, that man’s will has lost its moral liberty due to the fall, and that the grace needed for man to be able to fulfill his duty is not a mere external preaching of the gospel, but an internal divine work.

The same dispute took place within the walls of the African monastery of Hadrumetum four years later, and then on Southern Gaul. The debate lasted many years, but in 529 AD the Church sided with Augustine once more, declaring that and condemned semi-Pelagianism as heresy. Key statements are found in canons 3 to 8.

So, in other words, and this is the point I’m trying to make here, is that your excuse that the document is not semi-Pelagian on the basis of its rejection of works-salvation is simply lame. The dispute between Augustine and the other guys is NOT about whether salvation is by works, but whether we have the natural capacity of will to fulfill any godly virtue apart from the internal, divine enablement of God; the denial of which the early Church has equated to espousing works-salvation.

-Jeph

65 Rick Patrick June 5, 2012 at 9:09 pm

I do not believe we have any “natural capacity of will to fulfill any godly virtue…” I do not consider the acceptance of God’s grace as a “work” fulfilling anything.

Thus, I reject all of the above as not applying to me. For that matter, neither does the statement accept that man can do anything meritorious. This is just going in circles.

66 Jeph June 5, 2012 at 9:43 pm

Rick,

The statement denies that Adam’s sin resulted in the incapacitation of any person’s freewill, which is the very core of semi-Pelagianism. How is this not equivalent to saying that man can have the willingness to believe the Gospel apart from the internal, divine enablement?

Again, the question is not whether man can do anything meritorious or that the acceptance of grace is “work.” The question is whether man has the natural capacity of will to respond to the Gospel without being first enabled by God. We are going in circles because you keep on ignoring the real issue.

67 Rick Patrick June 5, 2012 at 10:00 pm

I have already yielded that issue, my friend, quite clearly and openly. What I am trying to get across is that there is more to Semi-Pelagianism than the freedom God gave man to accept His grace when drawn by the Holy Spirit, and that it is this other baggage that comes along with Semi-Pelagianism that I categorically reject.

In other words, what you (and others) are focusing upon as the only real issue is, for me, only one of several issues that define this heresy, and if we will focus more broadly upon the rest, we can more easily distinguish Traditionalism from Semi-Pelagianism.

68 Jeph June 5, 2012 at 10:20 pm

Rick,

I’ve already presented an overview of the historical background regarding the semi-Pelagian controversy, and it’s clear that the “just the other baggage” you are referring is in fact the MAIN thing that makes up a semi-Pelagian.

In the first place, the controversy between Augustine and the semi-P’s centered around the effects of Adam’s Sin on man’s moral liberty. Whether salvation should be a collaboration of human effort and God is not the point of contention.

There’s no escaping the clear historical facts. The statement (and I would NEVER call it Traditionalist because it is NEVER the Southern Baptist position from its roots) is clearly semi-Pelagian.

-Jeph

69 Bob Hadley June 6, 2012 at 2:17 pm

Rick,

It appears to me the bottom line to this argument is simple; to deny total depravity or inability, is semi-pelagian. While it is true that semi-pelagianism does deny total depravity, Jeph is applying the converse to justify his claim. It simply is not true.

Here is a perfect example simplified so everyone here can understand it. A Corvette (the S-P) is made by Chevrolet (those who do not believe in TD/TI). So all Corvettes (S-P) are Chevrolets (do not believe in TD/TI) but not all Chevrolets (those who believe in TD/TI) are Corvettes (S-P). All semi-pelagians deny total depravity/inability; not all who deny TD/I are S-P.

This is NOT the only issue that determine who is and is not a semi-pelagian and that is the bulk of most of the argument as I have seen it articulated and it simply is not true. One single statement does not a theology make and it is takes a real narrow minded individual to even level such a charge in light of the statement in its entirety.

><>”

70 Jeph June 6, 2012 at 2:22 pm

[not all who deny TD/I are S-P.]

Right, because it’s either P or SP. Check your history books.

-Jeph

71 Bob Hadley June 6, 2012 at 2:30 pm

Since I am neither, I certainly do not claim to be an expert on P or SP… glad some of you you guys are…. it is certainly comforting. The primary differentiating characteristic between the two as I understood it, was basically there is NO difference in P and SP where conversion is concerned but where SP differs significantly from P is that God gives His grace in sanctification… thus we have this idea that man coems to God and God gives him the grace he needs to finish the journey as opposed to man having to struggle alone along the way.

Either way… nothing in this statement even hints that man comes to God on his own and is given grace at that point.

Nothing.

><>”

72 Jeph June 6, 2012 at 2:44 pm

Bob,

What you said about man cooperating with God for salvation and must persevere in that status is NOT the primary distinguishing mark of semi-Pelagianism. The dispute between Augustine and the SP’s was never about whether or not man must cooperate with grace (in fact, Augustine himself agrees that man has a cooperating role in the whole process of Salvation). What they were disputing is about whether we can have any positive willingness accompanying Salvation (i.e. to believe, repent, etc) apart from the internal enabling work of God’s grace. The answer of both sides to this question is what essentially draws the line between them.

-Jeph

73 Jeph June 6, 2012 at 3:00 pm

Bob, you said:

[Either way… nothing in this statement even hints that man comes to God on his own and is given grace at that point.]

Same question I gave to Volfan007,

If Adam’s sin didn’t resulted to the incapacitation of any person’s freewill, what is it, then, that keeps sinners from being able and willing to come to God on their own?

74 Bob Hadley June 6, 2012 at 4:28 pm

I believe man is separated from God’s perpetual presence and in that state of separation every decision he makes falls short of the glory of God which is sin. This removes the ethical aspects of man’s decisions. What did God do to correct this separation problem? He sent His Son to be born of a woman… His sacrificial death bridges the gap sin had created. Through the convicting work of the Holy Spirit God speaks to sinful man and reveals who He is and His promises and man is faced with an eternal dilemma; do I faith God or do I faith something else? Our eternity depends on our decision relative to God’s draw on our hearts and our lives.

Notice NO P or SP… it is impossible for anyone to come to God on his own; God has made provision for salvation to all who will believe. I do not believe it is God who determines who does/will or does not/will not believe.

><>”

75 Steve June 5, 2012 at 7:26 pm

Thiswebsite is like a proverbial train wreck. You can’t help but look at the carnage! I committed a few days ago not to come and read the comments…and here I am…what carnage!

Incidentally, as I have shared previously with Tim Roberts, a more biblical analogy of these differences centers on whether or not God spiritually resuscitates all spiritually dead people enabling them to chose or reject or whether He particularly resurrects those He has chosen before the foundations of the earth.

I believe the Bible speaks clearly here…

76 Chris Roberts June 5, 2012 at 7:36 pm

Rick,

Where did you get your definition of the semi-Pelagian position? It’s simply not accurate. It might be helpful to see what Christiane posted in the other comment stream, quoting from the council that condemned semi-Pelagianism: http://sbcvoices.com/is-the-statement-semi-pelagian-by-chris-roberts/#comment-93181

Also, here’s how Herman Bavinck summarizes the semi-Pelagian position:

According to semi-Pelagianism, the consequences of Adam’s fall consisted for him and his descendants, aside from death, primarily in the weakening of moral strength. Though there is actually no real original sin in the sense of guilt, there is a hereditary malady: as a result of Adam’s fall, humanity has become morally sick; the human will has been weakened and is inclined to evil. There has originated in humans a conflict between “flesh” and “spirit” that makes it impossible for a person to live without sin; but humans can will the good, and when they do, grace comes to their assistance in accomplishing it.

(See more from Bavinck at http://www.seektheholy.com/2012/06/05/semi-pelagianism-the-statement-and-herman-bavinck/ )

Everything I see you and others saying, even in your post above, easily fits this definition of the semi-Pelagian theology.

77 Bob Hadley June 6, 2012 at 2:21 pm

Chris,

Look at what this 1800′s guy you quote wrote… but humans can will the good, and when they do, grace comes to their assistance in accomplishing it.

No where in this statement you are criticizing is there any hint of man doing ANYTHING warranting God coming along afterwards with His grace… for someone who has whinned and complained about misrepresentation you sir have taken the cake here!

><>”

78 TK June 5, 2012 at 7:37 pm

Interesting, very interesting.

79 John June 5, 2012 at 7:44 pm

I liked your illustration of the free gift offered to your children. Did any of them ever reject it? I know I wouldn’t! And I can’t imagine anyone else doing it either. Why would anyone turn it down?

80 Rick Patrick June 5, 2012 at 9:19 pm

Irresistible, would you say? Well, I want to give gifts to every child in the world, but every child doesn’t have a gift. Some of them refuse to come when I call. Others sulk and run away from me. But thankfully, yes, my two sons freely have received their father’s and their Father’s gifts.

81 Chris Roberts June 5, 2012 at 7:52 pm

At risk of having a duplicate comment, I have a comment in moderation limbo, probably because of some links in it. Let me try again.

Rick,

Where did you get your definition of the semi-Pelagian position? It’s simply not accurate. It might be helpful to see what Christiane posted in the other comment stream, quoting from the council that condemned semi-Pelagianism, currently comment #42.

Also, here’s how Herman Bavinck summarizes the semi-Pelagian position:

According to semi-Pelagianism, the consequences of Adam’s fall consisted for him and his descendants, aside from death, primarily in the weakening of moral strength. Though there is actually no real original sin in the sense of guilt, there is a hereditary malady: as a result of Adam’s fall, humanity has become morally sick; the human will has been weakened and is inclined to evil. There has originated in humans a conflict between “flesh” and “spirit” that makes it impossible for a person to live without sin; but humans can will the good, and when they do, grace comes to their assistance in accomplishing it.

(See more from Bavinck at my blog )

Everything I see you and others saying, even in your post above, easily fits this definition of the semi-Pelagian theology.

82 Rick Patrick June 5, 2012 at 9:52 pm

I thought I would get my definition from a Calvinist since I did not want to misrepresent anyone. Rev. Brian Schwertley, in a paper summarizing these views, drew largely from Hodge’s Systematic Theology as his primary reference. I will mark in bold his three point Semi-Pelagian definition, although I now believe that whatever definition I use, you will still call me by this name, simply choosing your own definition, or disregarding my appeal to stop misrepresenting what I believe. There is really no point in going on with this. I will never admit to heresy, and you will never drop the charge. Nevertheless, here is a brief paragraph from Rev. Schwertley’s paper:

After Pelagianism was defeated with the help of great theologians such as Augustine (A. D. 354-430), bishop of Hippo, it went underground and reemerged in a milder, more palatable form. Although the original semi-Pelagians differed in many areas, the general teachings of Semi-Pelagians are as follows. Contrary to Pelagius, the sin and corruption of Adam did pass on to his posterity causing disease, suffering, mortality and a propensity toward evil. Therefore, man needs divine assistance if he is to do anything spiritually good. But contrary to the pure grace system of Augustine they held: “(1) That the beginning of salvation is with man. Man begins to seek God, and then God aids him. (2) That this incipient turning of the soul towards God is something good, and in one sense meritorious. (3) That the soul, in virtue of its liberty of will or ability for good, cooperates with the grace of God in regeneration….”

83 Rev Kev June 5, 2012 at 8:02 pm

In a word – Excellent!

84 Rick Patrick June 5, 2012 at 10:15 pm

Thanks, Kevin. Oddly, the SBC Voices community insists on calling me and you and all the other signers of this fine, outstanding, doctrinal statement of Southern Baptist soteriology by a term used for heretics. I can’t talk them out of it, and they won’t get me to admit to heresy, so I guess this thing will run its weary course.

I appreciate your support.

85 Joshua June 5, 2012 at 10:20 pm

Rick,

I hope a fellow non-Calvinist can explain to you why the statement is semi-pelagian and appeal to you since you believe what has been going on here is merely “Calvinists behaving badly.”

86 Rick Patrick June 5, 2012 at 11:15 pm

Joshua,

According to David Worley, another member of the BFM2000 Committee has just signed the Traditional document. I don’t say that to impress you with the credentials of men, but to caution you that in calling this statement heresy, you are clearly implicating a growing number of very theologically astute men–fellow Southern Baptists.

Maybe some Traditionalist signer will recant and explain to me why, but for now, I don’t like the box I feel I am being placed in. I’m not at all sure that it fits. Perhaps we could tone things down a bit. Of course, I am far outnumbered on this board, which only contributes to my sense of fatigue.

87 cb scott June 5, 2012 at 8:09 pm

Rick Patrick,

First, I know you, nor the other guys I know who signed the document are Semi-Pelagians or any other type of soteriological heretics. Please rest assured of that.

Yet, as I read Article 2, I continue to be puzzled as to how it coincides with the doctrine of total depravity and the imputation of sin, especially if one understands Romans 5 (as a primary passage) to give credible evidence to the seminal view of imputation (Natural) or the representative view of imputation of sin (Federal).

I have not found any person, thus far, who has ventured to answer this question. I think that some of us, such as Alan Cross and myself, who have ardently opposed those who would call the drafters and those who signed the document various types of heretics desire some clarity on this issue. Can you lend me a hand?

88 Brent Hobbs June 5, 2012 at 8:33 pm

I agree with CB. I think that was well stated and I’d like to know the answer as well. It sure seems like the statement is arguing that Adam’s guilt/condemnation is not imputed to all of humanity.

89 Dave June 5, 2012 at 8:34 pm

for right now I am just assuming that Article 2 is badly worded.

90 Rick Patrick June 5, 2012 at 10:44 pm

CB,

First of all, thank you for the tone and structure of your question, and for refusing to label me with words used for heretics.

I understand your point regarding Total Depravity. According to Article 2, man’s ability to respond to the gospel is linked to “a free response to the Holy Spirit’s drawing through the Gospel.” Total inability? Well, yes, unless the Holy Spirit draws through the Gospel. But, no, since the man may then freely respond to to the Spirit’s voice. Clearly, it resolves the issue without reference to unconditional election. Prevenient grace is perhaps found in the Holy Spirit drawing phrase. But I think the goal is to find a way to resolve this without resorting either to Calvinism or Arminianism. I will admit this position is unique.

Regarding the imputation of sin, I believe it is fair to say that the statement was designed to affirm original sin without blaming it for our own, and to deny our original guilt for Adam’s sin while embracing the guilt that is justly our own. Perhaps this could be clarified better.

I believe an article by Adam Harwood might be coming up soon on Tim Rogers’ blog that could do a far better job than I have done in attempting an answer to your questions.

Blessings to you and your family. I hope to see you in NOLA.

91 cb scott June 5, 2012 at 11:15 pm

Rick Patrick,

Thanks for your answer. I must admit that I have struggled with Article 2 as have others of whom I have been in contact since the document became public.

I do think, hope, and pray that this specific issue can be better clarified if dialogue could continue without the constant charges of heresy against men whose lives, words, and deeds declare them to be true followers of the Christ and adherents to biblical and theological orthodoxy.

92 Rick Patrick June 5, 2012 at 8:36 pm

Chris,

I disagree with your characterization of my views as any form of Pelagianism on the three grounds of my OP which, according to my definition and understanding of the heresy, must be present for the charge to stick: (1) salvation not originated by man, (2) no meritorious work of man, and (3) no cooperation with God in salvation. Therefore, no Semi-
Pelagianism.

Yet, you still repeat the charge on the sole premise that since I believe man is able freely to respond to God’s grace once God’s Holy Spirit draws him, I am somehow in error. Fine. Call me whatever you want. I don’t believe the term fits, but I cannot force you to stop calling me a Semi-Pelagian. (That’s for you, Andrew and Frank.)

Ultimately, all I can do is ask, and say, “Please.” Perhaps I could appeal on the basis of promoting greater unity between our positions. Frankly, I cannot help but wonder if the Old Calvinists would level these charges on some of our greatest leaders. Surely the issue is not just coming up now for the first time. The Old Calvinists have had years to root out this so-called heresy, but it is only now being attacked by the New Calvinists.

93 Chris Roberts June 5, 2012 at 8:45 pm

Rick,

If your views are semi-Pelagian, why shouldn’t I use the label? If it applies, why avoid it? Your explanation of the semi-Pelagian position is incorrect, and you have been shown by me and others several places where different people have explained semi-Pelagianism. You have also seen me explain why Article 2 fits within the semi-Pelagian position presented by those sources. You insist that you are not semi-Pelagian and prove it by building something that is not semi-Pelagianism, calling it semi-Pelagian, and saying it doesn’t describe you. I won’t back away from calling it semi-Pelagianism until you tell me how, according to the various sources you have been shown, your views are not semi-Pelagian.

94 cb scott June 5, 2012 at 10:21 pm

Chris Roberts,

Is it not well established in Church History that Semi-Pelagianism is the common position of the Roman Catholic Church in relation to soteriology? Is it not true that those who embrace Semi-Pelagianism believe that complete ability remains part of human nature although sin has weakened the human will and human nature has been affected by the fall of the First Adam?

Is it not true that any person who “desires” to be positionally regenerated, according to Semi-Pelagianism, must, by his own volition, choose God’s redemptive plan, upon which God then adds His grace? Is it not also true that, according to Roman Catholics who embrace Semi-Pelagianism and among various other less known groups/denominations, that the affects of Original Sin are washed away/made void/ eliminated/ erased/ by water baptism?

Chris Roberts, have you ever heard one (even one) of the men who signed the document preach or teach such in a local church, Bible conference, seminar, seminary class, associational meeting, state convention meeting, or during the Southern Baptist Convention preach a sermon in which he promoted those specific Semi-Pelagian concepts and precepts? Have you ever heard such a proposition from any person in the SBC who had any theological training from any entity we have among SBC institutions?

Chris Roberts, I do not think you have ever heard such from any of these men and for you to continue to demand that they are promoting such a heresy is without merit.

I think Dave Miller was right when he stated, “for right now I am just assuming that Article 2 is badly worded.”

95 Joshua June 5, 2012 at 10:28 pm

CB,

This is all about the document, not what these men have said or written in the past. This is about the document and it is seriously flawed.

96 cb scott June 5, 2012 at 10:39 pm

Joshua,

I have to challenge that conclusion, but first let me say that it should be “all about the document,” but sadly, it is not. More than one (several) individuals on these threads have made comments about the men who have written and signed the document. Those comments sometime suggested that and sometimes made the accusation that the guys who signed and wrote the document were or had become heretics.

If you read the threads, you will see that to be true. Joshua, I wish you were right. I wish it was just about the document. There are questions that I, personally, would like to have answered.

Nonetheless, as long as some insist that these guys are heretics, I will aggressively defend them because I know the accusations are not true.

97 Joshua June 5, 2012 at 11:07 pm

CB,

It has not been the business of Chris Roberts, myself, and most of us here to call those who have signed the document “heretics.”

I believe learned men let a poorly and flawed wording slip past their radar. It is my hope that a much needed revision comes out A.S.A.P. instead of just kicking the can down the road and “digging in.” The document is seriously flawed and needs to be revised.

Focusing on the perceived name calling is hardly important when biblical truth is being abandoned at a national level in SBC life.

98 Chris Roberts June 5, 2012 at 11:49 pm

cb,

I’ve read just about every comment on both Rick’s post and my own, and while there have been several discussions of heresy, I don’t recall anyone saying that yes, the men who signed it are heretics. I do recall several people who see the Statement as semi-Pelagian nonetheless saying the signers are (probably) not heretics. That’s my own position as well.

99 Jason G. June 5, 2012 at 11:02 pm

cb,

I guess here is where I differ from you.

If this document teaches that man does not inherit sin and guilt from Adam…and that man is able by his very nature to respond to the offer of the Gospel apart from any other work of grace by God, because his nature is not so fallen that it cannot respond positively. If that is what this document teaches, then this document teaches a heresy…and anyone who says they believe it should be taken at face value that they also believe that heresy. If they sign the document they are showing they affirm the heresy.

If that is the case, then your statement that we have never heard or seen them teach such is without merit as they would have stated clearly by their signature that they do in fact believe and teach such an error.

I think that is point you are missing here…if they say they believe what this document teaches AND this document teaches heresy THEN they attest they believe heresy. This is not a witch hunt, it is simply believing what they tell us they believe.

Now, I don’t think we are to that point….but that is where people are coming from with regard to calling them heretics. I don’t think it is helpful to do so at this point…but I wanted to explain the logic behind the argument since it seemed lost in translation.

100 cb scott June 5, 2012 at 11:28 pm

Jason G.,

I think that Vol has made the best observation of the situation I have read during this controversy. He stated something to the effect, (this is not a precise quote) that if the men who signed this document were or have become Semi-Pelagians or have embraced a man-centered gospel, the SBC is gone.

Vol, correct me if I have misquoted your intent in the comment.

Jason G., I can do nothing less than agree with Vol. Nonetheless, I have known some of those guys over 35 years. I know they are not heretics and I am praying for more clarification. That is all I can state with any honesty at the present.

101 Jason G. June 5, 2012 at 11:53 pm

I agree with that sentiment.

As I have said repeatedly, I agree they are not heretics. I have never made that charge.

It is also clear that some men have signed their name to a document that very well could teach semi-pelagianism. That is troublesome…and it needs a better response than what I have seen repeatedly of “trust us, these guys aren’t heretics”. I want to see some actual response to the issue. Don’t you? I don’t believe these guys are heretics…so it begs the question: why did they sign the document? Do they not understand what it says? Were they just negligent in reading this? Do they actually believe what it says?

I agree that we need to stop the name calling…..but at some point, with no response, we are left with a scenario of people affirming a bad belief in the document. What are we then to
do and say? Are we to ignore the errant belief? Certainly that isn’t your suggestion? What is the proper course of action?

102 Debbie Kaufman June 6, 2012 at 1:51 am

CB: If you read the comments on Article two on SBCToday, no clarification is forthcoming. They are in fact standing by the wording and are defending it. I don’t want to say these men are heretics. I do not. But I don’t see a clarification coming and I don’t see them apologizing for the wording in their comments.

103 Debbie Kaufman June 6, 2012 at 1:55 am

The fact is we are guilty of sin before we ever commit the act. This statement is saying the opposite. But I don’t see how they can say this in light of scripture. Romans 7:15-19.

15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17 As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18 For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature.[a] For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.

104 Chris Roberts June 5, 2012 at 11:47 pm

cb,

I’m not sure just where the Roman Catholic Church falls in relation to semi-Pelagianism, and I’m not interested in what the RCC adds to semi-Pelagianism, I’m just noting that Article 2 of the Statement is semi-Pelagian. You have yourself noted concerns with Article 2, so I think you are able to see some of the problem.

As far as the men who signed it, I don’t think I have heard any of them preach, certainly not more than a message or two, so I cannot say whether the content of their sermons is semi-Pelagian. What I can say is Article 2 of the Statement is semi-Pelagian. I can also note that some who signed the Statement have vigorously defended Article 2 as being both a correct statement and their personal view. So either they do not know their views as well as they should, or they are semi-Pelagian.

105 Christiane June 6, 2012 at 12:24 am

C.B.

concerning ‘water baptism’ and the belief of Catholics:

“See where you are baptized,
see where Baptism comes from,
if not from the cross of Christ, from His death.
There is the whole mystery:
He died for you.
In Him you are redeemed,
in Him you are saved “
St. Ambrose

Gospel of St. John 3: 5-8
“5 Jesus answered,
“Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit.’
6 What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit.
7 Do not be astonished that I said to you, ‘You must be born from above.’
8 The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes.
So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

106 Christiane June 5, 2012 at 8:47 pm

I AM certain of one thing:

you are not a ‘semi-Pelagian’
IF
you believe the following:

God’s Grace ALWAYS precedes our acts in relation to salvation,
be it believing or obeying God’s commandments.

Our freewill plays a role when we decide whether to cooperate or not with God’s given grace.

107 John S June 5, 2012 at 10:28 pm

It is “semi-pelagian,” not “semi-pelagianist.” And if you signed Dr. Hankins document then you have at least one foot in ther door no matter how much you deny it.

108 Rick Patrick June 6, 2012 at 7:24 am

To all my “ist” despising friends, please note that Dr. Akin allowed the use of the same ending to discuss “Semi–Pelagianists” on page 700 of a book he edited entitled, “A Theology for the Church,” which is quoted by Smuschany a few comments below.

You may send your corrections to him at Southeastern Seminary. If you prefer, I will forward to him your comments directed to me concerning this crucial distinction since I want him to experience the very same measure of blessing which they have brought to my soul.

109 volfan007 June 6, 2012 at 7:45 am

lol

David

110 Jason G. June 5, 2012 at 10:53 pm

cb,

I am with you. But, the problem is that if the document is guilty of error and people affix their signatures to it, they are attesting that they believe what is written in the document…and thus they are attesting that they believe the error present in the document.

I am willing to give the benefit of the doubt. I just would like to see some corrections to the apparent bad theology present in the document. So far there has been a lot of saying “trust us, we’re not heretics” and not a lot of answering the questions raised.

I don’t believe these me are heretics….but the truth remains that they have affixed their names to a document that, without correction, teaches some pretty serious errors. If they affirm they believe those errors, then it is what it is. Is it better to say they don’t understand the document they signed, or to say they know full well what it says and they believe it?

This is precisely why they need to answer the questions you raised (and that I raised on the other thread) that have, as yet, been unanswered. Let’s clear up the confusion.

111 volfan007 June 5, 2012 at 10:57 pm

Well, from what I understand, another member of the BFM2K committee has signed the Traditional Statement. So, I guess they dont think that the statement goes against the BFM2K….

And, CB is right, if you want to see real Semi Pelagians, just look at the Church of Christ, some Pentecostal type Churches, Roman Catholic Churches, and Episcopal Churches, etc.

David

112 Jerry June 5, 2012 at 11:53 pm

Poorly written? Absolutely. It would have been much better if it looked like this:

God originally created man in His own image, and free from sin; but, through the temptation of Satan, he transgressed the command of God, and fell from his original holiness and righteousness; whereby his posterity inherit a nature corrupt and wholly opposed to God and His law, are under condemnation, and as soon as they are capable of moral action, become actual transgressors.

113 Dave June 6, 2012 at 12:01 am

Indeed it would have…am I the only one who is having a hard time understanding how exactly some of those that signed this also at one time in their careers signed the abstract of priniciples? the article on the fall in the abstract reads “God originally created Man in His own image, and free from sin; but, through the temptation of Satan, he transgressed the command of God, and fell from his original holiness and righteousness; whereby his posterity inherit a nature corrupt and wholly opposed to God and His law, are under condemnation, and as soon as they are capable of moral action, become actual transgressors.”

We can have a debate about whether or not individual entities should retain the abstract of principles, I think that is a fair question. At the present two of our seminaries do have the abstract and several who have signed this document have also signed the a.o.p. I can’t seem to reconcile the article for this document and the article from the abstract theologically. But, I am not that smart…I really would like to hear how one can hold to both…

114 Chris Roberts June 6, 2012 at 12:28 am

Rick,

Learn something new every day – I didn’t realize you are in Birmingham. I was at Beeson for seminary and pastored Overton First Baptist in the Irondale area.

115 Rick Patrick June 6, 2012 at 7:54 am

Yes, Chris, we’ve been here almost twelve years now, although I am originally from Texas. This may shock some of you, but I have invited many of the Calvinist faculty members at Beeson to speak at the church where I serve as Pastor, including Dr. George, Dr. Smith and Dr. Miller.

There is always the hope that they can straighten out my theology even if this comment stream should fail.

116 Chris Roberts June 6, 2012 at 10:34 am

We miss Birmingham, loved the area, particularly the zoo and botanical gardens (and my own Mecca – the Apple store!).

(And to clarify, I think I recall correctly that Calvin Miller is no Calvinist, and I’m not sure about Dr. Smith, though Dr. George always made his own position quite clear.)

117 Smuschany June 6, 2012 at 12:39 am

The following is from Dr. Daniel Akin’s book “Theology for the Church” B&H Pub, 2007. pp700.

“By the late medieval period semi-Pelagian thinking dominated the church’s understanding of the nature of salvation. The semi-Pelagianists did not believe a person had it within his own power to live in such a way as to save himself, but they did teach that one had the natural ability (or free will) to make the first move toward God and that one cooperated with God in salvation. The most prominent theologian of this time, Gabriel Biel (d. 1495), summed up the semi-Pelagian position when he stated, “God will not deny grace to those who do what lies within them.”

Based upon this, and other intellectually accepted definitions of semi-Pelagian thought, I cannot come to any other conclusion that intentionally or not, this document as it pertains to Article 2 is semi-Pelagian. I would like to give the benefit of the doubt that this was not the original authors, nor the signers intention. But as more and more people jump through grammatical, historical, and theological hoops to try and explain away the issue, the more likely it seems that while some may claim there is a “Calvinist takeover” conspiracy, there may indeed be a “semi-Pelagian takeover” conspiracy going on.

118 Jim G. June 6, 2012 at 1:34 am

This is a sad, sad day in this convention.

Wasn’t it only three days ago that Dave Miller chastised (so did I, but I got deleted) Jeph for saying article 2 was heresy? That seems like ancient history now.

Now almost every Calvinist lurking in SBCT Blogdom that has commented has chimed in with his 2 cents that the article is heresy or at least strongly leans thereto.

I honestly don’t know what saddens me more – that so many people would be so quick to uncharitably read the document that has been signed by so many fellow Southern Baptists as to react with the “H” word or that the bounds (should I say noose?) of orthodoxy is being so quickly constricted to include only an Augustinian framework. Honestly, one of these is bad enough, but both at the same time – all I can do is shake my head in sadness.

On the first point, the statement that “While no sinner is remotely capable of achieving salvation through his own effort” should put this to rest. We are missing the one big, giant elephant in the room here. It is not the human will that saves. It is God who saves. For the sake of argument, so what if I will to be saved before I am saved? It doesn’t mean I am. I might be “willing” all day long, but the point is moot. In the end, I am not able to be saved until/unless God does the work. Whether or not I have a “willing” problem does not matter a hill of beans as long as I have an “ability” problem. The SP says he can take the first step toward God unaided by grace. This document, especially in the quote above, denies that possibility. At least it is clear to me. If it is so clear to me (a brother in Christ and a fellow Southern Baptist), should those of you tossing around the “h-bombs” be able to at least charitably read it so? Even if you disagree, okay, but an “h-bomb?”

As to the second point, why is Augustine (the Augustine of post-396 – and yes, he did change his views) all of a sudden the litmus test for orthodoxy on nature and grace? This is the same Augustine who gave us ex opere operato grace (that grace is dispensed through the sacrament automatically if done by the right person – the priest – without any presence of faith necessary in the recipient), the sacramental system, infant baptismal regeneration, the number of the elect = the number of angels who fell (because of his assumption that the world must be so well-ordered), and a worldview of meticulous divine sovereignty that made every single act of humans in the world part of the necessary divine plan. This is the same guy that turned the doctrine of the Trinity inward to a contemplation of the human constitution rather than focusing on the economy as revealed in Scripture. He is also the same great bishop who turned loose the power of the state to “compel” the Donatists back in. If we see his error on these things, then why automatically trust his views on grace?

The Eastern Orthodox don’t buy his full teachings and neither do I. The EO, as well as every significant church father before him, taught a fully free, libertarian will. But again, will is not the issue with us. The vast majority of humanity on earth today “wills” toward “God.” Humanity is incurably religious. Most people on some level seek after some god in some way. This is nothing but a vestige of the original created free and able will of our ancestors in the Garden of Eden. The human will is still bent that way because it is how we were created, even though it is badly marred due to sin and corruption. The problem is and remains ability. We are now bound to the law of sin and death. We cannot will ourselves to salvation because it is not up to us. Do we not think the pagans on Mars Hill (in Athens) were seeking after God? Of course they were – Paul even says so plainly in Acts 17:22-23.

The point is, we can will until we are blue in the face. We cannot find God until he finds us. God found the men of Athens through the words of Paul. In his words was the life that was the grace of God. Although I think the gift of his grace is implicit in his drawing, I would prefer to see it in Article 2 as well. But, because it is not there (though I think there are unquestionable grounds for its inclusion), so many who are already predisposed against the entire statement have begun lobbing “h-bombs,” fully aware that the men who have spoken up who have signed it (Rick, David, Adam Harwood, and others) deny the charge with a reasoned argument. I find that very, very sad indeed.

Jim G.

119 Dave June 6, 2012 at 1:52 am

maybe I am wrong but I can’t help but think that the primary goal of this last comment was to demonstrate that you have read Peter Brown’s book on Augustine…whether you like it or not most Baptist confessions of faith before 1925 seem to have had an Augustinian slant.

Your argument seems to be that since Augustine was wrong in his view of the Church, the sacraments, his treatment of his Donatists he must have been wrong in his writings against Pelagius and Caelestius. By this same logic we could say that the framer’s of the nicene constantinopolitan creed must have been wrong in their dispute against Arius and his followers because they also had a wrong view of the church and the sacraments….just because one is wrong in one or even several areas it does not necessitate that they are wrong in all areas…the churches of the reformation have generally accepted an Augustinian view of Original Sin..

120 Jim G. June 6, 2012 at 2:42 pm

“maybe I am wrong but I can’t help but think that the primary goal of this last comment was to demonstrate that you have read Peter Brown’s book on Augustine”

You are 100% wrong. But thanks for the attempt at discerning my motives.

Jim G.

121 dave June 6, 2012 at 2:54 pm

Jim,
I should not have said that and I am sorry.
Dave

122 Jim G. June 6, 2012 at 3:34 pm

Apology accepted, Dave. And forgiveness too. :0)

Now I will tell you why I posted what I did.

As you did state above, I know that Augustine’s categories have dominated the broad Reformed tradition since the Reformation. I believe we need to rethink that because we are arriving at the logical conclusion of said categories.

Augustine had, from what I have been able to discern from countless of his writings, three main assumptions which lay under his interpretation of nature and grace:

1. The universe is beautiful because it is well-ordered (Greg Boyd has called this a “blueprint worldview,” since the world is blue-printed down to the tiniest detail).
1a. God is in complete control of his universe and sustains the well-ordering.
2. Humanity is a mass of perdition after the fall, bound to hell because of original sin and original guilt.
3. Not all are saved, because some babies die unbaptized, and so do not have original guilt removed.

All of his views of nature and grace (including TULIP -anachronistically – and his successors’ battles with Semi-Pelagians) can be deduced from the above axioms/assumptions. I happen to have problems with all of them, because they are too simplistic. They do not tell the whole story that Scripture does.

Considering 1, though the creation was very good and the new creation will be very good, we are living in the somewhat-chaotic middle. All of the warfare imagery in the NT is just imagery if everything is well-ordered presently. The devil and the world of evil spirits are just an illusion in a well-ordered world. The entire earthly ministry of Jesus was a fight against sickness, death, unbelief, suffering, and hate. If these things are not real chaos, then we are deceived about Jesus’ true mission.

Considering 2, it is true but not the whole truth. The whole truth says that even though we are dead in trespasses and sins, we are still the crowning achievement of God’s creation with a remnant (though marred and twisted) of the created glory we once possessed, and will possess again in the new creation. We may or may not will toward God, but we are unable to lift ourselves out of the corruption and death within ourselves. God found us. We are simultaneously sinners and the object of God’s unyielding love.

Considering 3, this sets the stage for the decree of God to be played out in time and space. Since, for Augustine, baptism was required for salvation, events in time had to be arranged for the baptism of those who had been well-ordered to salvation, as well as the ordering of events for those who were not chosen so that they would not be baptized. He had the same ordering philosophy for perseverance. I think most, if not all, Protestants in the Reformed tradition would reject 3.

Augustine drew his box too small. There are biblical problems he could not answer (1 Timothy 2:4 for example) so he explained them away. What is going on in SBC life today is the attempt to utilize his categories as the norm for orthodox views of nature and grace. I reject his assumptions, so I also reject what derives from his assumptions. I wanted to communicate that and if we can rethink this topic without some or all of his assumptions, we might arrive at a solution.

An orthodox solution to this dilemma is my goal – my only goal. But “orthodoxy” need not be spelled A-u-g-u-s-t-i-n-e.

Jim G.

123 Christiane June 6, 2012 at 2:11 am

Hi JIM G.

I’ve thought about the ‘purpose’ of people entangling themselves and each other in sometimes heated discussions over doctrine and things theological . . . and I have an idea . . .

when people are intent, in their pride, on proving themselves ‘right’ and others ‘wrong’,
they still go to the sacred Scriptures for something that can be ‘used’ in their arguments . . .

and in doing so, they are exposed to what is sacred and what can call them to God . . . He can use this to work in them, I think, as He calls all of us in ways that are meaningful to us,
although, at the time, we may have ‘other ideas’ about why we are there engaged in searching through and reading the sacred writings

How little we know, sometimes.

Don’t be discouraged by all this trouble.
God brings good out of difficulties in ways we cannot know,
and He has always mercifully reached out to us, even in the midst of our pride-filled, foolish ways . . . a great kindness we do not deserve

Remember this, and be encouraged:

“He called the wise men by a star,
and the fishermen by their art of fishing. ”
(St John Chrysostom)

124 Frank L. June 6, 2012 at 3:03 pm

JIm,

I think some would say that the document was not charitably read because it was not charitably written.

I really don’t think one can place the blame solidly on one side or the other.

I do agree it is sad–for whatever reason–that we cannot find the right things to fight about and against.

125 dave June 6, 2012 at 3:42 pm

Jim G,
I really would like to have this discussion. But I need to stop following this thread. The blog world has taken up too much of my time the last couple of days.

Look me up on facebook if you like and we can continue…the name is David Kerr…and I am in Kentucky.

126 Jim G. June 6, 2012 at 3:48 pm

Hi Dave,

Thanks. I don’t do facebook. I spend enough of my time on the computer working, so I try to socialize with my family and friends face to face. No disrespect meant – my wife does it some, but I never did facebook.

I understand about time, though. Where in KY? I’m originally from WV, but transplanted to NC.

Maybe I’ll create a post on this sometime. It’s a book-in-progress. Thanks for the kind conversation. I will remember your name though, in case I get the facebook itch. :0)

Jim G.

127 dave June 6, 2012 at 4:55 pm

I am close to Ashland…only about 15 minutes from Huntington, WV…where in NC??

128 charley June 6, 2012 at 1:47 am

Having spent some time reading N.T. Wright, I’ve learned that we must look at Scripture apart from the church’s historical debates. We must learn it from the perspective of its first-century writers and hearers, understanding their concerns and how they were linked to the O.T. Admittedly, it’s difficult to read Scripture as if Luther, Calvin, Wesley, etc., never said all they did, but this is the only way to gain a fresh perspective, as Wright has so tirelessly argued. We cannot fully appreciate, for instance, much of what Paul said in his letters if we don’t know the backdrop. His remarks have mistakenly been put in the service of Greco, Medieval, Reformation and Enlightment arguments used to support some agenda that concerns the historical period in question. What the Gospels say and what Paul said were meant to answer the O.T. and all the concerns people had at that moment of resolution, including all of its implications for the future. Only when we comprehend all that are we then able to find our place in it. What we’ve done instead is to read back our own concerns and preoccupations into the text. We’ve come up with a truncated version of the gospel, sometimes asking some very bizarre questions, and at other times asking some that are simply irrelevent, meanwhile missing the big picture. Wright’s explained all of this throughout his popular works.

Yes, the church down through the ages has gone to the Bible and particualrly the N.T. in search of answers to questions people never would have asked in the first century. Greek Christians were certainly guilty of this. The conquering church did it around the time of Constantine. The Roman church did it, too. And finally the Reformers and the liberal Enlightenment scholars did it. If the church had continued to understand the relationship of the gospel to what went before it and what questions that would have raised for people at that time, the questions we’ve been asking would have already been answered or not even asked in the first place! All I could do is to recommend reading Wright’s works. I had no idea the gospel was a paradoxical answer to “when will the restoration be?”, for example. Or that it was the fulfillment of everything promised given then and there. Or how all of this is to play out through time until Christ returns. And how upon that return God’s people will be seen for who they really are–the temple into which God returned never again to depart. Of course you also get salvation from sin and judgment and escape from hell, as Wright states, though so much more is promised. What’s really in view is the reign of God, a new humanity, and a new world in the process of formation. It’s a truly global vision! That Jewish prophets could have imagined such things during O.T. times seems to me to suggest they possessed a profoundly imaginative vision, and rather unique thought categories for their day!

129 Jeph June 6, 2012 at 8:03 am
130 Rick Patrick June 6, 2012 at 8:31 am

Thank you, Jeph. Perhaps someday I can work your name into the title of one of my articles as well. Have a blessed day.

131 Jeph June 6, 2012 at 9:01 am

Rick,

Did my mentioning your name in the title offend you? I’m sorry if it did. Do you want me to edit your name out of it?

-Jeph

132 Rick Patrick June 6, 2012 at 10:59 am

Forgive me for stating the obvious just as strongly as I apparently deny it, but perhaps it might help depersonalize the issue to write a more general headline, along the lines of “Traditionalists Deny Semi-Pelagianism Using Unconvincing Arguments.”

Many other Traditionalists will continue to deny these charges of heresy. Over time, I don’t think it will be necessary to make me the focal point personally, but rather the Traditionalist view represented by the Statement.

As to whether or not you change your headline, it will not surprise you to learn that I consider that a matter of your own free will.

Again, have a blessed day. I’ve got seven hospital visits and a VBS Rally.

133 Jeph June 6, 2012 at 11:29 am

Granted.

-Jeph

134 David R. Brumbelow June 6, 2012 at 9:29 am

It was said above, “Now almost every Calvinist lurking in SBCT Blogdom that has commented has chimed in with his 2 cents that the article is heresy or at least strongly leans thereto.”

Since the “Traditional Understanding of Southern Baptists on Salvation” disagrees with the Calvinist view, it must be heresy :-).

Hang in there Rick, us “heretics” are with you.
David R. Brumbelow

135 Jeph June 6, 2012 at 10:33 am

David,

You know nobody says that. Whose mouth are you putting those words to?

-Jeph

136 David R. Brumbelow June 6, 2012 at 11:32 am

Jeph,
Aren’t you one of the ones accusing Traditionalists of heresy?
David R. Brumbelow

137 cb scott June 6, 2012 at 11:53 am

Yes he was. His comments were found to be of such an abusive nature that Dave Miller deleted them along with mine for my strong rebuke toward him for making them.

Jeph, seems to be one of those who disposition as a Calvinist fueled the fire that brought about the writing of the document in this debate.

I will state an observation about his comments here thus far. I have noticed no other Calvinists here have given their approval to his spew. That is to their credit.

Nonetheless, we may need to give the brother some slack due to his obvious immaturity and limited understanding of the subject at hand. He is mostly just parroting well known Calvinists and quote bombing in a manner which reminds some of us of Steve Fox of bygone days.

138 Jeph June 6, 2012 at 12:01 pm

CB,

So much for the ad hominem remarks. Can we now get back to the real issue? Please?

-Jeph

139 Joe Blackmon June 6, 2012 at 12:04 pm

Steve Fox of bygone days

He used to get so mad at me when I’d spell his name Steven instead of Stephen. He took it as an insult to his mother–which of course made me do it all the more.

140 cb scott June 6, 2012 at 12:20 pm

Jeph,

Feel free to engage the “real issue.” That would be a refreshing change on your part.

141 Jeph June 6, 2012 at 11:55 am

When or where did I say that the Traditionalist position is heresy merely because it disagrees with the Calvinist view?

You know feeding the hungry is a pious thing, but putting words on other people’s mouths is a different story.

-Jeph

142 David R. Brumbelow June 6, 2012 at 2:02 pm

Jeph,
Two of your recent “heresy” quotes on SBC Today:

“Tell me, is this not outright semi-Pelagianism? Is not semi-Pelagianism heresy?” -Jeph

“Now I’m not calling for the firing or removal of all of the seminary Presidents and profs who supported the heretical document from the SBC.” -Jeph

Apparently you had some similar or worse quotes here at SBC Voices that were deleted.

So don’t act now like an innocent victim. Accusing someone of heresy is serious business. By the way, if you are going to accuse people or insinuate people are guilty of heresy, you ought to use your full name on the comment so we can all know the accuser.

C. B., thanks for your comment above.
David R. Brumbelow

143 Jeph June 6, 2012 at 2:20 pm

Okay, I did mention the “h” word, but my question was:

When or where did I say that the Traditionalist position is heresy merely because it disagrees with the Calvinist view?

Show me, I’m waiting!

-Jeph

144 David R. Brumbelow June 6, 2012 at 2:29 pm

Jeph,
Referring to you I said / asked above,
“Aren’t you one of the ones accusing Traditionalists of heresy?”

The answer is yes.
David R. Brumbelow

145 Jeph June 6, 2012 at 4:09 pm

Dave, if you would do a little back read, I was respond to this claim of yours:

Since the “Traditional Understanding of Southern Baptists on Salvation” disagrees with the Calvinist view, it must be heresy.

I asked,

You know nobody says that. Whose mouth are you putting those words to?

Then you replied,

Aren’t you one of the ones accusing Traditionalists of heresy?

Then I answered:

When or where did I say that the Traditionalist position is heresy merely because it disagrees with the Calvinist view?

Obviously, in this statement I was already indicating that yeah, I did use the “h” word referring to the Traditionalist document, but I still pointed to your unsubstantiated claim of Calvinists condemning everyone who disagrees with them as heretics. You then quoted me using the “h” word, but have you shown any statement where I said all non-calvinists are heretics simply because they are non-calvinists? Absolutely nothing!

So in order to save yourself from total embarrassment, you ignored the whole context of our discussion and threw a red herring to divert the issue. Nice try.

-Jeph

146 Jeph June 6, 2012 at 9:53 am

You guys might want to check Dr. Al Mohler’s comment on the issue at hand,
http://www.albertmohler.com/2012/06/06/southern-baptists-and-salvation-its-time-to-talk/

147 volfan007 June 6, 2012 at 10:56 am

I find it amazing that Dr. Mohler would act so condescending towards other SB Seminary Presidents; SB Seminary Profs; Baptist College Presidents and Profs; former SBC Presidents; and 4 or 5 people, who belonged to the BFM2K Committee. Simply amazing.

David

148 Matt Svoboda June 6, 2012 at 10:59 am

What was condescending about his response?

149 Matt Svoboda June 6, 2012 at 10:59 am

One thing I notice about your “camp” is any time someone says something that isnt in agreement they are then the bad guy and you all like to play the victim.

150 volfan007 June 6, 2012 at 11:05 am

Matt,

Yea, right. lol

David

151 Matt Svoboda June 6, 2012 at 11:17 am

Then try answering my question above rather than just playing the “he’s mean, we are the victim” card.

152 volfan007 June 6, 2012 at 11:21 am

Dr. Mohler said, “Some portions of the statement actually go beyond Arminianism and appear to affirm semi-Pelagian understandings of sin, human nature, and the human will — understandings that virtually all Southern Baptists have denied.”
So, Mohler called all the signers as affirming semi Pelagianism, and believing something that all SB’s have denied.

Mohler said, “I do not believe that those most problematic statements truly reflect the beliefs of many who signed this document.”
So, is he not saying that the signers just really didnt know what they were signing? That they were just ignorantly signing a document?

David

153 Les June 6, 2012 at 11:25 am

David,

is it not possible that some signed the document having not really worked through the very fine points and implications of the theology of it? Is it not at least possible? I mean even seminary presidents and past SBC presidents are not above making an error, right?

154 Mike Leake June 6, 2012 at 11:26 am

I have an article that I wrote (that will post around 12:30ET) before I read any comments that deal with two places where I figure those that read Dr. Mohler with suspicion will jump on. The statement you mention was one of them.

The way I see it if Dr. Mohler believed that the statement appeared to be semi-Pelagian (and many do) then he had two options. 1) say that they knew it was semi-Pelagian and didn’t care. Which then we’d need to ask whether there is a place for semi-Pelagianism within the SBC and if it’s right to call something traditional that appears to have been historically denied by SB’s Or 2) believe that in their desire to deny certain tenets that they were not as careful as they should have been. And to believe upon further clarification and pressing that they will show themselves to not be semi-Pelagian but just to have written (or signed) something not very carefully.

He chose the second. And I’m glad he did. The fact that so many have questioned it as semi-Pelagian means that it wasn’t worded correctly. If you are saying “I’m not semi-Pelagian” and others read it and say, “That really sounds semi-Pelagian” the onus is on the writer to craft something that more readily represents his/her position.

155 Jeph June 6, 2012 at 11:58 am

“So, is he not saying that the signers just really didnt know what they were signing? That they were just ignorantly signing a document?”

Personally I wish that was the case.

-Jeph

156 Jason G. June 6, 2012 at 11:29 am

David,

You can’t have it both ways.

Either (a) they know what they are signing, and they affirm some pretty serious errors because they actually believe what is written, or (b) they signed without thinking it through and they don’t actually believe what is written there.

If it is (a), then they are self-consciously ascribing to what appears to be semi-pelagianism, and it does not matter what they appeared to believe in the past because their words NOW show they believe such things. You (and others) have denied that is the case…..so…..option (b) is left.

You may not like that….but that isn’t condescending.

If you could provide another alternative, I’m all ears. But I don’t see it at this point. I choose to believe (b) is true…but if you tell me you know full well what you signed and you believe it, then I am forced to believe (a) is true.

157 volfan007 June 6, 2012 at 11:44 am

Whenever Dr. Mohler states that all of those signers arent smart enough to know what they’re signing, that’s condescending. I mean, he’s talking about fellow SB Seminary Presidents. They were out to lunch in thier minds the day they signed this? They werent thinking straight that day? I mean, we’re talking about former SBC Presidents, as well. We’re talking about SB Seminary Profs. We’re talking about Baptist College Presidents and Profs. We’re talking about Ex. Dir.’s of State Conventions…..all just didnt really understand what they signing thier names to??????? And, that’s not condscending???

And, even worse, calling all of those fellow SB’s, along with many, many SB Pastors “semi Pelagians”……well, that’s pathetic and sad.

David

158 Jason G. June 6, 2012 at 12:05 pm

Again, you can’t have it both ways.

By signing the document they are calling themselves semi-pelagians…so, are we wrong for acknowledging what they affirm to be what they believe?

But if someone says, “I doubt that they are really semi-pelagian, but since the document does teach that, there must be another explanation.” If anything, isn’t this gracious to allow people a way out of a document that does not accurately reflect what they believe?

You want it both ways…and that is not possible. We can’t say, “people affirmed X by their signature, but trust them they don’t believe X – look at their lives they don’t believe X.” Their very signature affirms what they believe. They believe X.

OR – they don’t really believe X, and they misunderstood/didn’t completely read/got caught up in the excitement over an anti-calvinist statement/what they really wanted to affirm was that they don’t believe calvinism – they skimmed through article 2 (and other troublesome articles) and signed their name, though the statement doesn’t actually represent them.

That is NOT condescending…it is just basic logic.

159 volfan007 June 6, 2012 at 12:16 pm

They are not calling themselves semi Pelagians by signing the document. Wow. Incredible.

Have a great day, and God bless.

David

160 Jason G. June 6, 2012 at 12:41 pm

David,

Let me break this down for you, since you don’t seem to grasp it.

If the document teaches semi-pelagianism…and someone affirms that they believe the document is representative of their beliefs….then they affirm they believe semi-pelagianism.

That is how statements of faith work.

Now, you can deny the document teaches semi-pelagianism. (Good luck with that.) But by signing it, you have said you believe what the document says…true? So, if it teaches semi-pelagianism, you are semi-pelagian.

Basic logic, brother.

THAT REALITY is precisely why I have said for several days now that I believe people signed it without giving enough of a look to certain articles (mainly #2) that may not accurately represent what they believe.

So, listen carefully (or read carefully)….I am not saying every person who signed it REALLY IS a semi-pelagian….I am saying if you believe what article 2 says, you are…and if you signed it without careful reading, you are in danger if being lumped in with them, especially if you dig your heels in the ground. Why? Because your signature AFFIRMS you believe what the document says. If you are not a semi-pelagian, I would remove my name from the list UNTIL that issue with article 2 gets cleared up.

161 Godismyjudge June 6, 2012 at 12:47 pm

Jason,

My hang up is in the jump from the document might teach semi-P and that it actually does. Again, the document makes certain statements that seem to contradict semi-P.

God be with you,
Dan

162 Andrew Wencl June 6, 2012 at 10:30 am

Aún los blogueros hispanohablantes creen que es semi-Pelagiano:

http://sujetosalaroca.org/2012/06/06/3511/

Even Spanish-speaking bloggers are saying it’s semi-Pelagian.

163 Rick Patrick June 6, 2012 at 11:09 am

Not all of them…

“Las Tradionistas eres muy intelligente y ortodoxo.”

164 volfan007 June 6, 2012 at 11:24 am

Also, I found this one, Rick….

“Los tradicionalistas son muy guapo y muy inteligente y saben realmente lo que están hablando.”

David :)

165 cb scott June 6, 2012 at 11:59 am

ROLLO DE LA MAREA!!!!!

166 Joshua June 6, 2012 at 12:48 pm

LOL

167 Jeff June 6, 2012 at 12:03 pm

Part of this problem, and virtually any other debate, is the battle for the dictionary, and the insistance to “define” all terms, and all “debaters.” As a Non-Calvinist I can stand flat footed and say, “We are not Semi-Pelagian, NOR are we Calvinist.” I know what I believe and what I don’t believe, and I have a fairly good understanding of the labels that are being thrown around. It is as old as political campaigns themselves, to be the first to define your debate opponent, and to frame their opinion in the most negative light possible. Separating this “tug-o-war” from the actual conflict, however, is tantamount to separating light from the sun. – just an outsiders observation.

168 volfan007 June 6, 2012 at 12:18 pm

Jeff,

Very well said, Bro. What you’ve said here is exactly right, and is exactly what’s going on.

David

169 Jason G. June 6, 2012 at 12:33 pm

Really?

Come on, David…you have had ample opportunity to explain your view and have been asked clarifying questions and you have refused to answer or clarify.

To cry “foul” is a little far-fetched at this point.

Look, certain theological positions have been defined for us by history. It is not hard to discern when we read things that match up with such definitions. There is no fight over definitions as such. There are people trying to shift focus by saying “I’m not semi-pelagian”. But there has been no proof given that what is stated in the document, and what is believed by the signers, differs from a historical definition of that belief. So, you can say “I am not X”, all you want…but if the document says X, and you believe the document…then you are X.

This attempt to paint this as a fight over terms is silly. We don’t get to redefine terms that are centuries old…and even if you want to reject the term, if you believe what the term refers to, it is not unfair to use that term.

(Interesting for “traditionalists” to deny history and tradition when it is convenient. Hmm.)

170 Godismyjudge June 6, 2012 at 12:39 pm

I would still like to know how those who accuse the traditionalists of semi-Pelagians would square there statements like:

While no sinner is remotely capable of achieving salvation through his own effort, we deny that any sinner is saved apart from a free response to the Holy Spirit’s drawing through the Gospel.

with semi-P.

Rick even said: “Prevenient grace is perhaps found in the Holy Spirit drawing phrase.”

God be with you,
Dan

171 Jason G. June 6, 2012 at 12:47 pm

David,

I did not call you a heretic NOR did I say you preach a false Gospel. Where do you even get this stuff?

Respond to what is actually written…stop inventing offenses.

You have responded to none of my points and you have answered none of my questions. Heck, you guys haven’t even answered CB’s questions on the issue.

I have tried to go out of my way to say I do not believe you guys are heretics, yet you continually paint me that way. I really wish you would just engage the issues at hand. Your only responses are “nuh uh” and “are not” and “he called me names”. Brother, engage the issues!

172 Jason G. June 6, 2012 at 12:56 pm

Dan,

It appears you actually want to discuss the issues. I am grateful for that change of pace.

I think a lot of confusion would be cleared up if it was made clear there is a belief in prevenient grace. If prevenient grace is in mind, that makes me feel a lot better about the position in general. Of course, that does move the document to a more classical Arminian position – but I am fine with that.

If that is what is in mind, then it needs to be made clear. Part of the problem is that the article is poorly worded and insufficient. The article points to a man, not given Adam’s guilt (big problem) and then tells us that such a man, though inclined toward sin, is able to respond freely to the offer of the Gospel. The implication (whether on purpose or by lack of clarity) is that no further action of grace on Go’s part is needed between natural man and response to the Gospel – that man is, in his nature, able to respond positively to the Gospel offer. That is where the charge of semi-pelagianism comes in.

As I have said repeatedly…I think the big problem here is lack of clarity in the article. I am willing to bet that most people who signed that are not really semi-pelagian (but when I say that, I get accused of saying they are stupid – which is not what I am saying).

I think the theological issue that is unclear by many respondents (besides denying Adam’s sin spread to his posterity – still a big issue) is how exactly God acts in grace toward man. Is it prevenient grace to all men? Or is it something else? Or is it nothing else – man is able in his nature to respond positively to the Gospel offer apart from any working of the Holy Spirit on his behalf? Answering those questions would clear this issue up.

173 Godismyjudge June 6, 2012 at 1:06 pm

Jason,

Thanks for your thoughtful response.

“The article points to a man, not given Adam’s guilt (big problem) and then tells us that such a man, though inclined toward sin, is able to respond freely to the offer of the Gospel. The implication (whether on purpose or by lack of clarity) is that no further action of grace on Go’s part is needed between natural man and response to the Gospel – that man is, in his nature, able to respond positively to the Gospel offer. ”

Well they didn’t stop short at saying is able to freely respond to the Gospel. They said the Holy Spirit is drawing. Mentioning the Holy Spirit means that it’s more than the man up there preaching and mentioning drawing seems like a reference to John 6:44 and John 12:32, standard texts Arminians turn to for preveinient grace. In short, it seems hard to reconcile that statement with semi-P.

So we can A) force semi-P into the mouht of the traditionalist against their own statements, B) accuse them of inconsistency such that within two sentences they affirm and deny semi-P. Neither of those options sounds all that good.

Option C “ask for clarification” seems like a much better road.

God be with you,
Dan

174 Godismyjudge June 6, 2012 at 1:09 pm

BTW, the exact nature of PG is not monolithic in Arminian circles. Arminius himself said it came by the Holy Spirit working through the law convicting man of sin and more importantly the Holy Spirit working through the Gospel to bring men to faith. Wesley, on the other hand, mad PG more universal such that everyone is able to obey the law and believe the gospel.

God be with you,
Dan

175 Jason G. June 6, 2012 at 1:35 pm

Dan,

Yeah, the lack of clarity in HOW the Spirit is drawing is the point. How is he drawing? Prevenient grace? Effectual call? Call of the Gospel?
And whom does the Spirit draw? All men? In what way?

That is why I say CLARITY is the issue. I would be fine with them revising the statement to clarify this muddy article. As it currently stands, it is troublesome.

You say they use the textx typically used by Arminians for PG. I am fine with them affirming PG, but they don’t clearly state it. It’s a pretty important doctrine, it can’t be left ambiguous.

As it stands, I think the document teaches S-P. I know they don’t like it, but as it stands, it does. I would suggest editing the document so that it has a more complete picture of this process and can clear up confusion – either by clearly showing a belief in PG (and maybe even what PG looks like, since there are varied views) or by outlining how exactly the Spirit draws. I have been suggesting option C for several days and have asked for clarification in several places (CB can back me up on that). Without clarification, though, I think we are left with option A (although I would not say it is forcing anything – it would be taking the statement at face value).

RE: your BTW, that is very true…which is why I would like for them to clearly state they believe in PG (though I have heard several people deny they believe PG) and HOW that works. I think any statement of PG moves the statement in a better direction (though I would still disagree) and moves them toward what I called “a more classical Arminian position”, though that would be tested by HOW they view PG.

I hope that makes sense.

JG

176 Jason G. June 6, 2012 at 1:47 pm

BTW, I also don’t want to forget the troublesome aspect of the comments in the document with regard to sin, as well as man’s nature and will. The problem is not JUST with regard to the nature of God’s drawing…it is deeper and more worrisome on the other side. I think clarity as to how God draws might help clarify issues with regard to man’s nature and will, though. So I am fine with that being the starting point of clarification.

177 Godismyjudge June 6, 2012 at 2:40 pm

Jason,

In the absence of clarity, I try to give people the benefit of the doubt or at least just say it’s unclear (rather than assume they are secret heretics – a claim they specifically deny).

Regarding drawing, it would be nice to know how they define it (and therefore understand John 6:44 & 12:32). But frankly, only a seriously abusive definition of drawing could be squared with semi-P, because drawing in John 6:44 must at least mean God’s gracious enabling sinners to come to Christ.

Regarding being condemned in Adam, I am not sure denying that constitutes being semi-P (though cannon 2 of Orange comes close). While I agree we are condemned in Adam, I do think Romans 5 is complex enough that I can understand some disagreement.

God be with you,
Dan

178 Jason G. June 6, 2012 at 3:18 pm

Dan,

If their definition of drawing is that the only drawing that happens is the preaching of the Gospel (the words in article 2 locate drawing in the Gospel) – and they do not believe in a prior work of the Holy Spirit through PG or a denial of a calling different than such a general call (which they deny later)….then that is representative of S-P.

Again, tied to this issue (and foundational) is the belief about man’s nature. That has not been clarified at all either. That would help a lot of our discussion about PG or effectual call. Is there a need for a work of God or not? If man is innately able to respond positively to the offer of the Gospel without PG or without EC, then that is a S-P view of man’s nature and ability.

Now, just to clarify something, I have called no one heretics…in fact, I have not labeled any person a S-P. I have simply stated that if the document is S-P, and they affirm the document as what they believe, then it doesn’t matter what they want to be called, they are a S-P. There are many steps to get to that point…and I would rather discuss clarification of the points. But just saying “I am not a S-P” means nothing….tell me what you believe about man’s nature, God’s calling/drawing, etc…that will decide what you are. So, I have been calling for questions to be asked and answered since the start of these discussions on here.

179 Jim G. June 6, 2012 at 3:39 pm

Jason,

Serious question – how do we know the drawing of God is not also an enabling? I mean, can you conceive of God truly drawing someone to himself and NOT enabling them to respond?

Jim G.

180 Jason G. June 6, 2012 at 3:47 pm

Jim G.

I believe that drawing/calling is effectual (enabling). I also believe that there is a general call that goes out to all men, but only those who have been enabled by God respond positively.

181 Godismyjudge June 6, 2012 at 3:48 pm

Jason,

“Dan, If their definition of drawing is that the only drawing that happens is the preaching of the Gospel (the words in article 2 locate drawing in the Gospel) – and they do not believe in a prior work of the Holy Spirit through PG or a denial of a calling different than such a general call (which they deny later)….then that is representative of S-P.”

In semi-P all you need is the person up there preaching. You don’t also need the Holy Spirit drawing. At least, not semi-P as defined by the cannons of Orange. Some Calvinists lump Arminians (who hold stronlgy to PG) as semi-P and basically anything short of Calvinism is semi-P. But I hope that’s not what’s going on here.

“Is there a need for a work of God or not? If man is innately able to respond positively to the offer of the Gospel without PG or without EC, then that is a S-P view of man’s nature and ability.”

Per David here, yes, we need God’s help, as the statement on the Holy Spirit’s drawing suggests. Again, only a very abusive definition of drawing could get around this.

God be with you,
Dan

182 Jim G. June 6, 2012 at 3:54 pm

Hi Jason,

Thanks. So to you, the drawing IS enabling (or at least they blend together). For the “traditionalist,” every “draw” (or “call”) is genuine and can be effectual, because it is likewise enabling.

So why can’t we say that the drawing of the Spirit is a work of grace that enables the human heart to respond? As I read the traditional statement, that is what I saw (I know you did not, but the work of God’s drawing is assumed to be gracious by us). Then we are just down to resistible vs. irresistible grace, and hardly semi-Pelagianism.

Doesn’t that sound fair at this point?

Jim G.

183 Jason G. June 6, 2012 at 5:38 pm

Dan,

Correct, in S-P all you need is someone preaching. The HS need not do anything prior to that. Now, I believe everyone (S-Ps included) would say that God is present in the Gospel being preached…but in what way? Here is where it is unclear.

If the HS does something to affect change in a person TO WHICH he responds in belief and repentance…then this is no longer a “free will” decision as attested to in the document. (See Article 8)

So, man is left to himself to make a free will choice.

Now, we are back to man’s nature – how can a man make a free will choice FOR God if his nature is sinful. Arminians say “he can’t, but God graciously gives PG to all men – providing all men with the ability to respond positively, which prior to PG they could not do”. Calvinists say “he can’t, but He graciously calls those whom He has elected and enables them to respond positively, which they will do.” This document says neither. Instead, it falls back on man’s free will ability to respond without need for outside interference other than JUST the calling of God in the offer of the Gospel.

So, your statement is true of this document, “in semi-P all you need is the person up there preaching”. No step of grace is needed between man’s nature and man’s positive response to the Gospel. Now, this may NOT be what they want to say…and it is why I am open to hearing further clarification on this point to flesh out precisely HOW God is working in the Gospel. Remember, though, however He works cannot violate man’s free will, and cannot actually affect His decision even positively (Article 8).

I have clearly differentiated what Arminians believe from what this document says. So, I would hope you would not try and ignore my points and say I lumped in anyone with anything.

Now, the fact that some signers would say God must draw is great. That is true. What I am waiting to see is a statement that clarifies how God draws within the framework of Article 2. (This is precisely why I think Article 2 does not accurately describe what most signers believe.) The document, as it stands, does not clarify HOW God calls. When we get an answer to that, it will clear up much confusion.

This is to your second post to me (from 3:54 pm, 6/6):

I think that is what is true in ACTUAL beliefs, but I do not think that is what the document states because of the wording of Articles 2 and 8. The document is not clear that man needs a work of grace that enables the human heart to respond. In fact, that seems to violate Article 8. It appears to say man is ABLE to respond to the Gospel, so the only place God is at work is in the fact that the Gospel is preached. There is no statement that says that any kind of PG goes out to all men. There is a denial of effectual call. There are statements about man’s ability to believe – and the graciousness of God in preaching the message, but nothing about His enabling in any way. Added to the denial of Adam’s sin being passed down, you have a recipe for S-P: A man able to respond positively, without aid of special grace, hearing the Gospel and believing.
Again, I think more clarification is necessary on this point.

184 Godismyjudge June 6, 2012 at 11:46 pm

Jason,

You bring up article 8, and how it impacts article 2. For reference, here’s the affirmation in 8:

We affirm that God, as an expression of His sovereignty, endows each person with actual free will (the ability to choose between two options), which must be exercised in accepting or rejecting God’s gracious call to salvation by the Holy Spirit through the Gospel.

To be a bit more clear, I think a distinction needs to be made, between two types of freedom. There’s freedom from sin and then there is freedom from determinism. Freedom from determinism is the idea that we are free in a libertarian sense; nothing determines our actions. Freedom from sin is the ability to obey God’s commands and believe His promises. Let’s for the moment say a person has libertarian freedom, but not freedom from sin. He can’t obey God, but he can still choose between chocolate or vanilla, or choose between sinful alternatives (i.e. should I yell at my wife or go out back and smoke pot). If the person doesn’t have libertarian freedom they can’t – if God predetermines I eat chocolate, I cannot eat vanilla. I say this only to clarify the distinction between these two freedom’s.

Article 8 asserts that whoever accepts or rejects the call of the gospel does so with libertarian freedom. Compatiblist freedom is not enough. The Calvinist definition of the freedom we have when we choose Christ is not correct. What article 8 does not say is that man, without God’s gracious call to salvation by the Gospel, is free from sin. It allows that the call itself includes God’s enabling us to respond.

Now for the denial in 8: “We deny that the decision of faith is an act of God rather than a response of the person. We deny that there is an “effectual call” for certain people that is different from a “general call” to any person who hears and understands the Gospel.”

The first sentence is a critique of Calvinism; what they see as the logical implication of man lacking libertarian freedom. Ultimately God is behind the action and it’s not up to us. The second sentence denies the idea of an “effectual call”. Per Calvinism, this call, grantees a positive response. If a person is effectually called, their is a positive response. The call is a sufficient cause of the response. The person cannot say no, they are causally determined to say yes. This is a denial of libertarian freedom (at least with respect to salvation). Article 8 rejects this idea.

While article 8 rejects a sufficient cause of faith, it does not reject God’s grace as being a necessary cause of faith – the idea that with God’s grace we may or may not respond, but without God’s grace we cannot respond.

So in other words, when you say article 8 the Holy Spirit “does something to affect change in a person TO WHICH he responds in belief and repentance…then this is no longer a “free will” decision”, I fear you conflate freedom from sin with freedom from determinism and also God’s grace as a necessary cause of faith with God’s grace as a sufficient cause of faith.

God be with you,
Dan

185 volfan007 June 6, 2012 at 12:41 pm

Jason,

It has been explained over and over again ….by Rick, me, and others… here at SBC Voices and at SBC Today. I’m guessing you just dont like our answers. So be it. We disagree.

I’m not the one calling you a heretic, or claiming that you are preaching a false Gospel….

David

186 David R. Brumbelow June 6, 2012 at 3:41 pm

Jason G.,
So the fine, minute details of how the Holy Spirit works prior to the decision one makes for salvation, determines whether or not one is a heretic?

If one dones not explain himself exactly right on the issue, he is a heretic?

Can Scripture be presented on this heretical belief rather than just calling it Semi-Pelagianism or heresy?

By the way, I appreciate you not calling anyone a heretic, yet.
David R. Brumbelow

187 Jason G. June 6, 2012 at 3:55 pm

David B.,

What a person believes or does not believe about salvation (and the Holy Spirit, man’s sinful nature, etc.) can put him in the realm of heretic. Of course. If it didn’t, why do we have statements of faith and confessions. What we believe is very important. I think you agree with me on that.

The issue with your question to me is: what constitutes “fine, minute details”? Is it a fine, minute detail to describe man’s nature with regard to Adam’s sin and his own ability to respond positively to the Gospel? I think it not “minute” at all, but gravely important.

As for your other questions:
If one explains his position in such a way that lines up with heresy, then, yes, he is a heretic. The failure to clarify does not make one a heretic.
I welcome some explanations that show this belief to be something other than S-P. I have yet to see any explanations except to see it move more toward some form of classical Arminianism (which is fine with me). Most arguments have not dealt at all with the issue of man’s inherited nature, man’s ability and will, or how exactly God draws/gives grace/enables man to respond.

There are a lot of issues at play here….and in this forum it will be difficult to clear up all issues. Thus, you will not hear me call anyone a heretic. Though I will continue to say that something “appears to be” what it appears to be until it is clarified. fair enough?

188 David R. Brumbelow June 6, 2012 at 4:15 pm

Jason G.,
You refer to, “man’s ability and will, or how exactly God draws/gives grace/enables man to respond.”

My point or question is – so one had better perfectly answer these issues or he is a heretic?
Is a man a heretic because he believes God enables rather than draws? Or draws rather than enables?
This discussion just seems to be getting into some minute details.

I keep hearing people, not you, hurl the charges of Semi-Pelagianism. Were are the Scriptures that spell out how exactly God draws, gives grace, enables man?
I would like to see it spelled out in Scripture, rather than just saying if you believe this you are a Semi or full Pelagian.
David R. Brumbelow

189 Jason G. June 6, 2012 at 4:55 pm

David B.,

No, one need not “perfectly” answer those things…but don’t you agree there are WRONG answers to those questions?

Before we can even get to right or wrong, though, we are left trying to figure out precisely what this statement is teaching. Doesn’t that show the defectiveness of this statement? A document meant to clarify, is not clear enough for us to even agree on what it is saying.

So, we need to figure out what the document means before we can draw any clear conclusions. That is what I have been calling for…and trying to accomplish. Help me figure out what is meant by the document…because it seems several signers mean different things by it.

190 Godismyjudge June 6, 2012 at 4:59 pm

Jason,

One thing is clear about this document. It opposes Calvinism. All that’s left is to figure out just how far it is from Calvinism. It seems to stop at Arminianism and doesn’t go on to semi-P, though I admit it should have been more clear on that point.

God be with you,
Dan

191 Jason G. June 6, 2012 at 5:41 pm

Dan,

If they clearly affirm PG, then I can agree with you. Though there are still a few other issues with regard to man’s nature, will, and his relationship to Adam.
Like we have said, clarification will really help us figure out what this document is saying. Right now it looks like S-P at points, with possible ways of clarification back to Arminianism. I would be fine if they agreed with Arminianism. But they also reject that label. So, I’m not sure where that leaves us.

192 Mike Leake June 6, 2012 at 12:45 pm

Historically speaking a duck has webbed feet, quacks, has feathers, and bill, and it lays eggs.

Now if I write an article attempting to outline what I believe to be my belief concerning this “thing” out in my back yard and I describe it using the above features then any reasonable reader would probably respond, “fella, I think what you’ve got back there is a duck”. If I then insist that it is not a duck. I know ducks. It’s not a duck. The onus is then on me to correct my previous article to further explain that though it may look like a duck and sound like a duck–it ain’t one.

Otherwise I’m just not being clear. That is one reason that I like Rick’s article here. Though, I don’t agree with him theologically and I do believe that it’s a tad inconsistent I deeply appreciate what he is doing and believe him when he says he believes, “It ain’t a duck”. Now, of course it could be possible that he doesn’t really understand ducks and when he studies up on ducks then he’ll say…well, maybe it is a breed of duck. But likewise it could be possible that he is totally correct in saying that though it sure seems like a duck and sounds like a duck it is something that does not belong in the duck family.

Now if somebody reads the original article (that has not been edited and still really sounds like a duck) they are not being condescending by saying, “what’s in this fellas back yard sure sounds like a duck. Now we know that historically SB’s don’t keep ducks in their back yard. And I believe this fella isn’t silly and isn’t a duck-keeper. So I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and say that he may not have done the best of job in describing that thing in his back yard. So I’ll press a little and ask a few more questions and we can discuss this thing a little further.” That is not condescending it’s gracious. It’s arrogant to think that just b/c you have a good amount of bird books, duck books, a duck hunting license, duck boots, a degree from the school of Duckology that you absolutely have every bit of knowledge there is about ducks. It’s further not humble to think that if you describe something that sounds like a duck–and other people start calling it a duck–that it’s their responsibility to be more clear. No, you described the thing in your back yard in terms that sound like a duck. Be more clear. The onus is on you.

193 David R. Brumbelow June 6, 2012 at 2:24 pm

Mike Leake,
You said, “a duck has webbed feet, quacks, has feathers, and bill, and it lays eggs.” Thereby implying it is probably correct, if there are some similarities, to call Traditionalists by the extremely pejorative name of Semi-Pelagians.

OK, those are five qualities by which to judge.

Let’s use your example in another way.

Hyper-Calvinists believe in 1. Total Depravity. 2. Unconditional Election. 3. Limited Atonement. 4. Irresistible Grace. 5. Perseverance of the Saints.

Hey, SBC Calvinists also believe in all five of those things!

As you say, if it looks like a duck…

So I’m sure you will not object to Traditionalists calling SBC Calvinists by the term (dare I say heresy?) of Hyper-Calvinism.

By the way, feel free to show how SBC Calvinists are not similar to Hyper-Calvinists in those five areas.
David R. Brumbelow

194 Mike Leake June 6, 2012 at 2:34 pm

David,

First, i’m not saying it is correct to call them Semi-Pelagians. What I am saying is that what they wrote appears semi-Pelagian. And if they are not semi-Pelagian then it should be re-written in such a way that it clearly shows that.

Secondly, I don’t think your comparison stands up. Hyper-Calvinism is a distortion of Calvinism. So to really fit the analogy what I would do is describe it as a duck and then say—but it also has these features and so I’m not sure it can rightly be called a duck. It has all the features of a duck but it doesn’t swim and just so happens to have a human arm growing out its back. Maybe you can call it a duck but it’s a jacked up duck.

All Hyper-Calvinists are Calvinists but not all Calvinists are Hyper. All ducks have feathers but very few of them have human arms growing out their back.

In those 5 areas how do we differ? On the points of the TULIP I’d say most Calvinists and Hyper-Calvinists would probably agree. To be a “hyper” Calvinists doesn’t mean that you getting really excited about Reformed theology. It means that you take it beyond where it ought to go.

Your comparison doesn’t fit.

195 SBC Layman June 6, 2012 at 9:12 pm

It would be nice if we could stop with the labels and deal strictly with the content in this debate. Everyone needs to stop complaining of straw men and deal specifically with the content. It matters little to me whether it was Old-Calvinists, New Calvinists, Dortian Calvinists or Hyper-Calvinists that Hankins and company had in mind with the statement. It really doesn’t even matter if they got their intended view right or not. If someone disagrees with a part of the content, just deal with that. Then it will be obvious enough what you believe. It is completely irrelevant whether you think the content is semi-Pelagian or not. It is irrelevant whether you think they are synergists or not.

One man’s heresy is another man’s orthodoxy, so we won’t get anywhere there. As you walk back through church history, somebody has declared almost every doctrine ever held as heretical at some point. Heresy doesn’t necessarily equal wrong – heresy just equals non-orthodox. Orthodoxy is always defined by the powers that be in any given group.

Calling Calvinism, Armininanism, semi-Pelagianism or anything else heretical does not help anything. Let’s stick to what we believe and why from Scripture. It matters very little to me whether or not guys long dead thought a view was heretical. It matters a great deal to me why they might have thought so. I can evaluate that.

196 Russ June 6, 2012 at 3:52 pm

Rick I liked what you said in the following statement
“Traditionalists do not believe man’s response is a meritorious work. The relevant portion of Article Four states: “We deny that the response of faith is in any way a meritorious work that earns salvation.” When I give my sons birthday gifts, they neither earn the income to buy them, nor go to the store to purchase them, nor put them in gift bags with bows and cards. All they do when I extend my arm holding the free gift is to reach out and receive it from my hand with gratitude. I believe most Southern Baptists can clearly distinguish between performing a work and receiving a gift.”

In Ephesians 2:8-9 we read
8For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9not by works, so that no one can boast

Your illustration was great. Salvation, which is the gift being talked about in Ephesians is received by faith. So faith acts as the hands sort to speak that receive the gift, which is salvation. Gifts can also be rejected as well.

Russ

197 dr. james willingham June 6, 2012 at 11:37 pm

Dear Bob Hadley, especially in number 73, you say, “I do not believe it is God who determines who does/will or does not/will not believe.” Answer: Not only does God determine and even work in us to will, but listen to what He says in Phil.2:12b,13: “…, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which works in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” My professor of Hebrew at SEBTS in the Summer of ’73 asked me why I believed Grace was irresistible, and I answered: “If you will look at Ps.65:4, you will note that it uses the Hiphil verb (the causative verb).” The statement is: “Blessed is the man who you choose and cause to approach unto you.” He opened his Hebrew Bible, looked at it, and said, “You are right.” He never again said anything about the issue. What is interesting is that he had signed the Abstract of Principles which supports that view in other language.

198 Les June 6, 2012 at 11:45 pm

Dr. James,

You are so right. And I’ll tell you, I know 70 something is really not that old, especially since I hit double nickel this year, but you have a really sharp mind. God bless you for continuing to defend the faith here on these blogs.

You remind me of a prof I had at Mid-America Baptist Seminary in the mid 1980s…Dr. Roy O. Beaman. I think he had bee at NOBTS prior to MABTS. He was in his 80s in 1984-87 when I had classes under him. He had the sharpest mind I had ever seen.

Les

199 Scott Hill June 13, 2012 at 10:43 am

Im literally astounded that you can’t see how sections of this statement are in fact semi-pelagian. I can promise you this. I know a lot of Calvinist and not one feels threatened by this document. Quite the opposite. It makes most of us sad at its self contradictory treatment of the Gospel.

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