Points of disagreement with “A southern baptist understanding of God’s plan of Salvation.”

Yesterday, I identified areas in which I would agree with the Southern Baptists who wrote the statement about SB’s understanding of God’s plan of salvation. Now, I want to identify those points on which there can be no agreement.

The first major area in which we disagree concerns Article Two: The Sinfulness of Man. Though I would affirm everything they affirm apart from the word “alone.” Their denial that Adam’s guilt is imputed to all his posterity is absolutely contrary to the clear teaching of Scripture. I would like to follow this up with an exposition of Romans 5:12 ff, but for now, suffice it to say that if the good news that Christ’s righteousness is put to our account is to stand, we must embrace the truth that God has imputed Adam’s guilt to all who are in him.

The second area of irreconcilable difference concerns the design of Christ’s death. Their statement is “We deny that Christ died only for the sins of those who will be saved.” My question would be, What did Christ intend to accomplish by his death for those who will perish for eternity? If he died to redeem them, why aren’t they redeemed? If he died to make all people savable, why would he do so if it was never the purpose of the Father to apply his death to them? Was his death sufficient to save the entire race if that had been the purpose of the Father? Absolutely! Did he intend to save people who were already perishing when he died? Did he intend to save people he knew would never believe? That would seem to imply that God is out of touch with reality.

The third area of disagreement concerns the nature of God’s work of grace in the human soul. I suspect that part of the problem here is the unfortunate phrasing that has been applied to effectual calling. The term “irresistible grace” may give the impression that sinners never resist the gospel or the conviction of the Holy Spirit. Acts 7:51 is the lone proof-text used to show that grace is not irresistible. What that text proves is that, by nature, sinners ALWAYS resist the Holy Spirit. The question is, if sinners ALWAYS resist the Holy Spirit, how is it that anyone ever comes to believe the gospel? The verse says nothing about the ability of God’s grace to overcome the sinner’s natural aversion to God and the gospel. It says volumes about the sinner’s rebellion against God and his recalcitrant refusal to submit to the demands of the gospel. Only effectual grace can overcome the natural depravity of the sinner’s heart.

A fourth area of disagreement is the order of regeneration and faith. Are we regenerated because we believe, or do we believe because we have been regenerated? This discussion leads us to the issue of depravity. Is it total, i.e., affecting the sinner in every part of his personality, or partial, affecting only certain aspects of the sinner’s personality but leaving his will unaffected?
Arminians have historically believed that sinners are totally depraved, but that God has granted
“Prevenient [or preceding] grace” to every person, thus restoring the ability to choose Christ and the gospel. The problem for them is that there is not a shred of biblical evidence for such a doctrine. We believe sinners cannot believe the gospel unless and until God gives us a new spirit, a heart of flesh, and puts his Spirit in us. In close connection with this issue is the issue of calling. Are these guys right when they state that there is no such thing as “effectual calling” and that “calling” in Scripture always refers to the outward preaching of the gospel? If they truly believe that, they must also believe that everyone who hears the gospel call is justified. The apostle Paul wrote, “. . .whom he called, them he also justified. . . .”

A fifth area of disagreement, if disagreement it can be called is the framer’s complete failure to deal with the many clear statements of Scripture that use the terms, “election,” “elect,” “chosen,” etc. They don’t even suggest, as do real Arminians, that God’s choice was based on what he foresaw the sinner would choose. They just seem to ignore the concept altogether. These terms have a meaning. When the Bible declares that God has chosen us believers it can’t just mean God chose a plan. The Bible says God chose people. These guys need to deal with that.

Finally, we need to discuss what we mean by “free will.” Do we mean by that term that sinners are able to choose something to which they are totally and absolutely averse? Perhaps we can come to agreement concerning this term if all we mean by it is that human beings have the ability to make choices and that we are responsible for the choices we make. This is what we mean by “free agency.” God does not force us to make the decisions we make; we make them freely and are completely responsible for them. The issue concerns whether the sinner possesses the ability to choose that which is contrary to the deepest desire of his heart and soul.

In the posts that follow, I want to consider these differences in greater detail and set forth the biblical teaching on these issues. Please feel free to comment.

2 Responses to “Points of disagreement with “A southern baptist understanding of God’s plan of Salvation.””

  1. July 31, 2012 at 8:29 pm

    I believe I agree with you on all points…….

  2. July 31, 2012 at 10:39 pm

    Well, at least two of us are right. LOL

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