… According to Arminians, Catholics and Other Semi-Pelagians
[Note: I have updated some parts of this post after I read Tom Ascol's "Traditional Theology and the SBC".]
The Southern Baptist Convention, by around 80 percent majority, passed a document entitled “Statement of the Traditional Southern Baptist Understanding of God’s Plan of Salvation,” which affirmedÂ that “repentance from sin and personal faith in the Lord Jesus Christ are necessary for salvation… that repentance and faith involve a crying out for mercy and a calling on the Lord, often identified as a ‘sinner’s prayer,’ as a biblical expression of repentance and faith.”
What is this so-called “sinner’s prayer”? The best example is this one from Campus Crusade’s Four Spiritual Laws):
In addition to rightly affirming that “repentance and faith involve a crying out for mercy and a calling on the Lord,” the document also rightly warns that “a ‘sinner’s prayer’ is not an incantation that results in salvation merely by its recitation and should never be manipulatively employed or utilized apart from a clear articulation of the Gospel.”
But what is this Gospel? The document says it is “the good news that God has made a way of salvation through the life, death, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ for any person. This is in keeping with GodÊ¼s desire for every person to be saved” (emphasisÂ added). This is a clear articulation of the Arminian view that Christ did not accomplish salvation for anyone on the crossâ€”he merelyÂ made it possibleâ€”and that his atonement is for every man, woman and child born in this world.
And how does a sinner come to repentance and faith?Â Dr. Richard Land, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, says, “When we attempt to believe, I believe God gives us saving grace. And so when we ask Jesus into our heart, I believe he comes into our heart and gives us saving faith.”
Thus, Land says that a sinner initiates his own salvation. In effect, he saves himself!
Land further adds,
I believe that the Holy Spirit tries to convict all men. If a person is concerned about their eternal destiny, like Woody Allen seems to be concerned with his eternal destiny, that’s the Holy Spirit trying to convict him… [P]eopleâ€”like meâ€”who aren’t Calvinists would say the natural man doesn’t understand the things of God for they are spiritually discerned but if the Holy Spirit convicts you and you feel convicted then you can say, “Lord come into my heart” and the Lord will come into your heart.
What confusion! He affirms that Woody Allen, a natural man, “does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Cor 2:14).Â But then Woody the theologian, unable and unwilling to understand God, hostile to God and hates God, is concerned with his eternal destiny, and “attempts to believe” in God. Huh? There goes the doctrine of total depravity.
A curious comment in the ChristianPost article says, “The sinner’s prayer resolution, [Land] said, is a ‘pushback’ to Calvinists within the SBC who argue that only the Elect can be saved.” Then Land explains that Calvinistic Southern BaptistsÂ ”are saying you can’t ask Jesus into your heartâ€”you have to wait for the working of God’s grace.” Is he saying that people who are not elect can be saved? And that unregenerate people like Woody Allen really want to be saved, yet God deprives them of his grace because they are not elect? Huh?
Land’s comments are summarized in the document’s Article One (paragraph 2), “We deny that only a select few are capable of responding to the Gospel while the rest are predestined to an eternity in hell.” Talking about caricaturing the doctrines of total depravity and unconditional election! This statement is the equivalent of the misleading formula, “Once saved, always saved,” concocted by those who have no idea what the doctrine of the perseverance and preservation of the saints means.
Another pastor, Steve Gaines, gives as an example the 256 children who recited the sinner’s prayer at Vacation Bible School. He said he believes that all of them became true believers after they were “counseled” and led in the recitation of the sinner’s prayer. Huh? How did he know within a few minutes that the Holy Spirit has given new hearts to every one of those 256 children? Does he see the Holy Spirit? Does he have a special insight into the Spirit’s mind?
Then he adds, “[T]here is a particular, puncticular moment that you cross over from being lost and you’re saved.” Like most Arminians, he probably does not believe that a person can be regenerated inside the mother’s womb, such as Jeremiah (Jer 1:5) and John the Baptizer (Luke 1:44), and that regeneration is only effected by one’s profession of faith.
Gaines also defended the popular exhortation to “invite Jesus into your heart,” pointing out as examples, Jeremiah 31:33, where God says he will write his law on their “hearts,” and John 1:12, where the word “receive” Christ is used. But alas! Jeremiah 31:33 is not about inviting Jesus into one’s heart, but about God giving his people a new heart and a new Spirit (cf Ezek 36:26-27). And in John 1:12, receiving Christ is synonymous to believing in him, “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.Â Gaines also ignores the following words in verse 13, which says that these children of God “were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.”
Gaines, a pastor for 35 years, also makes this appalling statement, “Nowhere in the Bible does it say that God regenerates you, and then you repent and believe. It’s always repentance and faith are prerequisitesâ€”not the products of regenerationâ€”but prerequisites for regeneration.” How can a veteran pastor be so ignorant of God’s Word? Did he ever read about Lydia, “The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul” (Acts 16:14). Does it say, “She paid attention to what was said by Paul so the Lord opened her heart”?
Did he ever think about Jesus’ words in John 6:44, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent meÂ draws him”? Or that a dead person cannot give himself life, and then repent and believe, “EvenÂ when we were dead in our trespasses,Â made us alive together with Christ” (Eph 2:5)?
Has he forgotten Jesus’ words about being “born again” by the inner workings of the Holy Spirit?
Do these semi-Pelagian Southern Baptists know that they are Roman Catholics in their beliefs about salvation? That what they are affirming is the Catholic prevenient grace, the view that God sends grace to all mankind that pries open the grip of sin on man ever so slightly that it is possible for them to cooperate with this grace and so believe the gospel? In the Council of Trent’s canons on justification, here are a couple of statements about prevenient grace:
On the doctrine of man’s sinfulness, the SBC document again affirms the Roman Catholic doctrine. Compare the Council of Trent’s Canons 4 and 5 on Justification:
with the SBC document’s Article 2, The Sinfulness of Man:
What an eerie resemblance between SBC’s and RCC’s warped doctrine of original sin!
SBC is percent anti-Calvinist. Whither Founders.org and the “New Calvinism” in the SBC? What most Southern Baptists (and most other Baptists) do not know is that “Calvinism was the theological consensus for the first 70Â years of the SBC [founded in 1845]. The convention’s first official confession of faithÂ [in 1858], which was written to provide doctrinal boundaries for our firstÂ seminary, reflects this consensus.” 2
No wonder, Dr. Albert Mohler, President of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, though he “wholeheartedly and emphatically agree with some of the statementâ€™s most important declarations,”Â commented on this errant SBC document:
Regeneration: no faith without it.
Here are some portions of the original charter of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary which contained it’s “fundamental laws,” and which was adopted in 1858. The following articles are definitely and outwardly the historic Reformed doctrines of grace: Article Vâ€”Unconditional Election; Articles VIâ€”Total Depravity; Article VIIâ€”Particular (Limited Atonement); Article VIII and Xâ€”Irresistible Grace; and Article XIIIâ€”Perseverance of the Saints.