What some are willing to do

Someone asked.  I'm here to help.

In the Traditionalist statement, those poor fellows signed a statement that said this:
We 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. 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.

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 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.
Which is not Calvinism, right?  That's the point: by heavens and Annie Armstrong, this ain't Calvinism.

But what is it?  Mere Biblicism?  Maybe if you have never read a book it is such a thing.

In 529, some fellows sat down to think about the teachings of Pelagius, and in thinking about them one of the things they said was this:
CANON 2. If anyone asserts that Adam's sin affected him alone and not his descendants also, or at least if he declares that it is only the death of the body which is the punishment for sin, and not also that sin, which is the death of the soul, passed through one man to the whole human race, he does injustice to God and contradicts the Apostle, who says, "Therefore as sin came into the world through one man and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all men sinned" (Rom. 5:12).
I realize there were no members of the Conservative Resurgence present when that statement was drafted, but it is at odds with the statement proffered by these so-called "Traditionalists".

These "Traditionalists" also signed up for this:
We affirm that any person who responds to the Gospel with repentance and faith is born again through the power of the Holy Spirit. He is a new creation in Christ and enters, at the moment he believes, into eternal life.

We deny that any person is regenerated prior to or apart from hearing and responding to the Gospel.
And then this:

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. 
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.
And those dirty non-Calvinists in 529 AD had previously decided this:
CANON 6. If anyone says that God has mercy upon us when, apart from his grace, we believe, will, desire, strive, labor, pray, watch, study, seek, ask, or knock, but does not confess that it is by the infusion and inspiration of the Holy Spirit within us that we have the faith, the will, or the strength to do all these things as we ought; or if anyone makes the assistance of grace depend on the humility or obedience of man and does not agree that it is a gift of grace itself that we are obedient and humble, he contradicts the Apostle who says, "What have you that you did not receive?" (1 Cor. 4:7), and, "But by the grace of God I am what I am" (1 Cor. 15:10).

CANON 7. If anyone affirms that we can form any right opinion or make any right choice which relates to the salvation of eternal life, as is expedient for us, or that we can be saved, that is, assent to the preaching of the gospel through our natural powers without the illumination and inspiration of the Holy Spirit, who makes all men gladly assent to and believe in the truth, he is led astray by a heretical spirit, and does not understand the voice of God who says in the Gospel, "For apart from me you can do nothing" (John 15:5), and the word of the Apostle, "Not that we are competent of ourselves to claim anything as coming from us; our competence is from God" (2 Cor. 3:5).
Which is a plain refutation of Pelagius.

Now, lastly: some of the friends of those fellows who have signed up for the "Traditionalist" document have now said:
Dr. Mohler claims “portions of the statement actually go beyond Arminianism and appear to affirm semi-Pelagian understandings of sin, human nature, and the human will.” If Dr. Mohler is going to claim that two current seminary Presidents, two current Baptist college Presidents, six former Presidents of the SBC, state executives and hundreds of pastors and laypersons across the convention “appear” to have Semi-Pelagian leanings, surely he would document that charge.  Oddly enough he does not.  He doesn’t define Semi-Pelagian nor does he show where the statement appears to be Semi-Pelagian.  Had Dr. Mohler perhaps quoted the 3rdedition of The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church that Semi-Pelagians “maintained that the first steps towards the Christian life were ordinarily taken by the human will and that Grace supervened only later”and then demonstrated where the TS “appeared” to affirm that one’s first steps in the Christian life are “ordinarily taken by the human will” with grace responding to rather than initiating human will, we would have no qualms.  And, there remains a good reason why Dr. Mohler did not show parallels in the TS to historic Semi-Pelagianism. Namely, the TS nowhere affirms a position close or even similar to Semi-Pelagianism.  We must confess, we are at a loss.  We do not know how to respond.  He has left us with only three options concerning how he could make such an outrageous statement: 1) he did not read the document thoroughly; 2) he does not understand Semi-Pelagianism himself (the exact theological ignorance with which he charged the signers); or 3) he has some other motive.  Because of our faith in his theology and his motives we choose to believe the first option. If we are correct, we still remain confused that a seminary president would identify fellow believers with a belief widely considered heresy if he failed to read their confession carefully.
I am sure Dr. Mohler is utterly capable of speaking for himself.  And it seems these cats are right: the "Traditionalist" document doesn't seem to be semi-pelagian.  It seems like rank Pelagian doctrine when you look back to the place where Pelagius was denounced as a heretic.

So if they want to talk about that rather than wonder if Al Mohler knows what he is talking about, they should stop publishing internet essays through people like the divisive and repugnant Peter Lumpkins and publicly ask for a time and a place to have a substantial and serious discussion about the meaning of orthodox formulations of soteriology.

I am certain Dr. Mohler and many faculty members at SBTS would love to get into that discussion.

Southern Baptist Diagnostics

I realize that I never blog here anymore, but I have about 200 words worth writing about the current SBC stupidity and it's not Pyro-worthy, so I'll put it up here in case anyone's feed is still pointed at this blog.

There's a lot of heat and light right now about the ridiculous document, "A Statement of the Traditional Southern Baptist Understanding of God’s Plan of Salvation."  Tom Ascol is giving it the thrashing it deserves, and even the unbalanced can see that, in the best possible case, it talks about Christian theology in semi-pelagian or perhaps even rankly-pelagian terms.  It's not Arminianism.

Here's what I think: if the men who authored and are proffering this document are serious about being advocates for this way of talking about the Christian faith, let them come forward and have an open, honest, and real discussion with their peers at SBTS about what they mean by it.  This document, like all the other shady little snipes that have come before it, is not any better than gossip and rumor and false accusations until it is brought out into the light of day and tested for its accuracy and orthodoxy. Just because Paige Patterson signs onto a document does not make it either reasonable or serious.

However, unlike a lot of folks who are right now bemoaning what this document does or might do to and for the SBC, I welcome it.  I hail it as a milestone.  This is the chance its advocates have been waiting for: this sets the stage to actually fight the fight for the soul of the SBC so that it may find out what it is made of.

In a million different ways, I would much rather that the SBC actually have it out over the accusations made in this document, and over the shoddy formulations in this document, and settle the matter.  If there is a split, let there be a split -- and let those who accept the unbiblical, unhistorical, and unsystematic claims of this document separate from those who would call them to the abstract of principles of SBTS, among other foundational and historical SBC statements.

Rather than post these random and accusatory documents and then run away, let these fellows offer a time and place where an exhaustive and serious discussion of these issues can be had, and let them be resolved.  Or else: admit that they have no intention of ever doing that, and simply have the courage to walk away from SBTS and the like-minded churches which support it, and go their own irreconcilable way.

That's it.  See you the next time something like this comes up.