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Nov 29, 2012

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lydia

"After all, should he ever sense called to training and equipping pastors, missionaries, and church planters at the graduate level, even raising this provocative question surely decreases his potential academic career among our presently available seminaries by a discouraging one-third."

I thought about this, too. Which only makes me admire him more.

But early on with the outrage over the Trad document, I wondered if the BFM2000 would ever really enough for unity since the words in it are parsed like crazy.

Debbie Kaufman

I see it as pretty simple. Scripture is the final authority. Romans 5:12 "Therefore just as by one man sin entered into the world and death through sin, so death spread to all men, because all have sinned."

Keith Price

I also see it as pretty simple. Scripture is the final authority. Deut 24:16 - "Fathers shall not be put to death because of their children, nor shall children be put to death because of their fathers. Each one shall be put to death for his own sin."

The question is not whether we have sinful natures or have inherited death, (we have as per Rom 5:12), but whether we have inherited guilt. Deut 24:16 would suggest that we have not.

Jim G.

Hi Peter,

After reading this post, I went back to Adam's post at SBC Today and read it. I was at ETS but did not get to sit in on Schreiner's presentation - some other paper captured my attention at that time slot. So many choices...

I think the discussion of original sin and original guilt opens up a far greater discussion that we Baptists have been heretofore avoiding - that of a consistently Christian anthropology.

I have spent the last 8 months in my own research of the Augustinian views of providence and anthropology - the ones we Baptists have inherited from our theological forebears, more or less. It is with Augustine that the doctrines of real or federal original sin originate, as well as original guilt. I contend that such an anthropology is not fully Christian, but is at its root largely Manichaean, as Augustine imported his Manichaean dualism into his interpretation of the Christian faith (along with numerous Neoplatonist assumptions). He arrived at original sin largely due to a mis-translation of Romans 5:12 ("in whom" all sinned instead of "because") as well as his attempt to answer the question of why evil was present in God's good world.

Long story short, Augustine "solved" the philosophical problem of evil using Manichaean categories of (eternal) good and (eternal) evil. God became the good principle while humanity became the evil principle. Thus evil, in the greatest theological category switch ever foisted upon the church, became an eternal principle and the way God views humanity "from all eternity" (thus the root of Augustine's anachronistic infralapsarianism, unconditional election, and irresistible grace). Even though Scripture clearly acknowledges that sin and evil have both a beginning (everything was originally "very good") and an end (the last 2 chapters of Revelation), Augustine moves evil to eternity by contending that God sees us as ontologically sinners deserving and needing condemnation. To me, this is a gross theological error for numerous reasons, not the least of which is christological (that is a huge can of worms and too long to write here). Suffice it to say that some of our SB theological minds need to do a lot of constructive work in the area of Christian anthropology. We are assuming Augustine's legacy without closely examining it. I think Adam's post might help us start the conversation.

Jim G.

Debbie Kaufman

Keith: Read Deut 24:16 in it's proper context by reading the whole chapter. This passage is not speaking of God giving death or original sin. This is referring to what Magistrates could or could not do. It would be the same as giving our court system a mandate.

I read Psalm 51:5, Ephesians 2:2&3, Proverbs 22:15 speaking of original sin just to name a few of many passages.

One can try to philosophically explain away this doctrine, but I can see no other taught in scripture, which is my final authority.

Keith Price

Debbie:

Scripture is also my final authority.

Perhaps you misunderstood my point. I did not mean to imply Deut 24:16 had anything to do with God giving death or sin. I understand the context. But, this verse is one of the reasons the Jewish faith at the time of Jesus would have rejected the idea of “original guilt.” This is in the Torah and if original guilt is true, based upon this verse, God would be contradicting Himself. This is not a philosophical argument, but a Scriptural one.

By the way, I could also respond just the same: Read Psalm 51:5, Eph 2:2-3, Prov 22:15 (or Rom 5, or I Cor 15 for that matter) in the proper context by reading the whole chapters. While these specific verses are certainly referencing the sin nature, they can hardly be used for a justification of the “original guilt” doctrine as placed within the larger context of the chapters.

Jim G gives a good summary of the Augustine’s philosophical doctrine. I would add that the mis-translation comes from a Latin version of the scriptures. The Eastern Church (Eastern Orthodox) did not use that particular manuscript. They were Greek speakers and the Greek does not contain the mis-translation and therefore they do not have this philosophy of “original guilt.” Note that the modern translations do not have the phrase “in whom.” In fact there are some who have speculated that had Augustine’s works being written in Greek (the language of the Eastern Church) instead of Latin this doctrine may have gotten him branded as a heretic.

When I study the Scriptures I see transference, if you will, of death, of sin, of consequence, but not guilt. As Jim G intonates above, this is not a conclusion arrived at simply or lightly. I would also concur with him that this is something theological minds need to wrestle with.

Dean

Wow! Original sin is simple!!

Thomas

All this gossip is one of the reason why I'm leaving Southwestern to go to Southern. Peter, do you love your Calvinist brothers? Why is it that Calvinist love the non Calvinists but not the other way around? Breaks my heart

Mary

If only we all read the Bible this discussion wouldn't go on for centuries. It's all so simple! Just read the Bible and use it for the final authority and we'll all be happy Calvinists. Because obviously people who disagree with Calvinists don't read the Bible and regard it as their final authority and they must be pretty dumbe besides because it's all so simple!

lydia

Jim G, Excellent comment. Great summary of Augustine's philosophy that became conventional interpretation.I say summary because it is wonderful you were able to explain the basics so well without writing a book!

pauldohse

Jim G.

Hi, Could you email me? I have been researching this issue for about 6 years and would like to correspond with you.
[email protected]

Paul D.

Adam Harwood

Peter,

Thanks for your post. I enjoyed the playful humor (theological bombshell) and the call for further discussion on this topic. May such discussions of faith and practice honor God and strengthen the SBC. Blessings, brother.

Thomas,

Hello, brother. I love my more-Calvinistic brothers and hope I have not given the impression that is not the case.

You mention “(a)ll this gossip.” Gossip, of course, is a sin. In what way has my post or this Peter's post or anyone’s comment in this stream gossip?

Tom Schreiner presented publicly an academic paper. I presented publicly an essay related to that paper and its outworking in SBC life. Peter’s post linked and commented publicly on that post. Readers are engaging the ideas in this comment stream. In what way should any of those actions be regarded as gossip?

If theological discourse makes you uneasy, then I kindly suggest you rethink your move to SBTS because there is probably as much of it there as there is at SWBTS.

Blessings, brother.

In Him,
Adam

Ray

Peter, your concern about Dr. Harwood's potential loss of opportunity to teach at some of our seminaries is humorous. How many SBC Calvinists have no opportunity (regardless of their scholarly credentials and abilities) to teach at most SBC schools. I think of the advertisment in the Christian Index from Dr. Nelson Price when Shorter was seeking a president. One of the criteria in that ad was that a candidate could not have Calvinistic leanings. It certainly is more the Calvinist that is isolated from SBC work more so than Non-Calvinist. I wonder if Calvinists are seriously considered for teaching positions at TMC where Dr. Harwood so excellently serves.

peter lumpkins

Hi Ray,

Why would you find my statement humorous? I suspect it's not ridiculous at all to surmise that the two specific institutions I mentioned which require signatures to documents Dr. Harwood finds contradictory in at least one significant way would judge him an insufficient "fit." So, I miss the occasion for humor I confess.

Nor is TMC comparable to our six seminaries in the concern I specifically cited as affecting our "cooperate infrastructural level". TMC may be accountable to Georgia Baptists but not all Southern Baptists everywhere which I particularly indicated.

Now to your own statement which gives me a belly-busting occasion to guffaw:

"It certainly is more the Calvinist that is isolated from SBC work more so than Non-Calvinist"

Sweet Georgia peaches! A Double Georgia Hoot Award on the final day of November!

Hoping you have a grace-filled Christmas season, my brother Ray.

With that, I am...
Peter

Ray

Peter, glad that I could bust your belly with laughter today. Merry Christmas. R

peter lumpkins

Ray,

Well maybe I overstated my glee just a smidgen :^). Wishing you the best as well, brother.

With that, I am...
Peter

Dean

Ray, I have to make two observations. Shorter advertising for a noncalvanist for president is no issue. Shorter is not operated by the SBC. If it were it is still not an issue because you can be noncalvinist and not violate the BF&M.That is not the case with Dr. Shreiner. He has put something in writing that seems to contradict the BF&M. That is an issue. Secondly, please look at our agency heads and their highest assistants.Calvinist permeate these positions. The percentages of Calvinist in leadership in the SBC is disproportional to the number of Calvinist in the pew. Blessings on you.

Ray

I am teaching at one of our Seminary extensions this Fall and we were discussing this very point last week. In preparation for the class I happened to read W.T. Connor's "The Faith of the New Testament" published in 1940. What he says is quite interesting, "we are safe in saying that no member of Adam's race will be eternally lost apart from personal choice and personal guilt. Any interpretation that says that we as individual members of Adam's race are lost because of a covenant made with Adam in the Garden of Eden or because we were present in Adam and participated in his sin (Federal Headship) as an act of sin--any such interpretation as either of these is not interpreting Paul."

He goes on to say, "Romans 5:12-21 has been given too prominent and determinative a place in Paul's doctrine of sin...if we want to know what he (Paul) teaches on any particular subject, find where he discusses that subject, not where he refers to it indirectly and incidentally. Now, if we follow that rule, we will go to Romans 1:-3:20." In this passage, Paul reveals that all men are guilty and condemned before God because "they" have sinned.

peter lumpkins

Ray,

Thanks. I posted on Conner's view back in July of this year, quoting some of the same portions as you...

http://peterlumpkins.typepad.com/peter_lumpkins/2012/07/wt-conner-on-the-imputation-of-adams-sin-by-peter-lumpkins.html

Rick Patrick

Peter,

Thank you for this post highlighting not only Dr. Harwood's thought provoking article, but also his excellent book "The Spiritual Condition of Infants." Having read the book cover to cover, I can attest that his thesis is solid and his argument is persuasive. I believe it will stand up to whatever challenges may be presented.

This raises in my mind the larger question, "Are seminary professors teaching outside the boundaries of the BFM on other issues as well?" Frankly, I believe this is the case not only in Article Three with regard to inherited guilt, but also in Article Seven with regard to open communion, and perhaps Article Four with regard to the order of regeneration and faith.

Perhaps there are even more examples. I am of the opinion that once we commit ourselves to an insistence upon teaching that is consistent with the BFM in one area, we must also be willing to address all of the other areas in the interest of consistency.

JD Hall

Honestly, I don't see a 'bombshell.' I see the same tired and tried attempt to Arminianize the Faith and Message that's been attempted time and again by Synergists in our Convention. I would like to repeat the truth that the Faith and Message is mirror of the New Hampshire Confession of Faith, written by individuals with very strong Calvinist leanings. At the same time, it would be unfair to characterize the Faith and Message as an explicitly Monergistic document because it's plainly put together to widen the denominational tent and allow liberty of conscience on the finer points of soteriology. It's worth noting, however, that the [intentional] vagueness of the Faith and Message was not designed to allow a few Calvinists into the fold, but at the time, was designed to allow the Arminian-leaning minority a place in our camp. The Canerites over at Truett-McConnell can keep digging, hoping to uncover a new way to interpret our confession of faith.

lydia

Who are the Arminians? Anyone who is not a Calvinist? :o)

Adam Harwood

JD,

You and I may differ on certain issues in theology and Baptist history. That's okay. But I would kindly ask you to refrain from referring to me as a "Canerite." Dr. Caner is my president but I think and write for myself.

In Him,

Adam

Les Prouty

Peter or others,

I'm wondering how "affirming" the BFM2K works for denominational EEs. It seems that Adam and others are taking the position that Thom's view of inherited guilt, while orthodox, is precluded by the BFM2K. Yet, I think I've seen written before here and other places that one must at least affirm the BFM but can affirm more.

If that is correct, then it seems to me that Tom can affirm "inherited sinful nature" and also affirm "imputed Adamic guilt." Peter you wrote above,

"Dr. Harwood should be commended not only for his courteous and respectful challenge to Professor Schreiner and the AP's apparent affirmation on original sin as imputed Adamic guilt rather than inherited sinful nature..."

You wrote, "rather than." Theologically it seems that one can affirm both. I don't see one having to choose. If Tom believes both to be true, he at least affirms what the BFM says plus imputed guilt.

Now I may be missing something. Does the BFM preclude imputed guilt? If so, where or how.

Thanks for anyone who may answer. This is a good discussion.

Ron F. Hale

JD,

When Dr. E.Y. Mullins, then president of SBTS, was given the task of leading Southern Baptists to draw up a new confession, he did not choose his very own school’s AP. He could have, but he did not.

He chose the New Hampshire Baptist Confession of Faith of 1833. In the NHBC, we see a mild to moderate Calvinistic document and in the BFM1925, we see a deliberate move away from the more Calvinistic confessions like the Philadelphia Baptist confession. Of course the 1963 or 2000 documents have continued the move away from a strict Calvinism.

So beginning with the 1833 NHBC, that had a huge impact on Separate Baptists, we see that a large portion of Baptist have been moving away from Calvinism for over 175 years.

Rick Patrick

Les,

You wrote: "Now I may be missing something. Does the BFM preclude imputed guilt? If so, where or how."

In the Abstract of Principles and the BFM 1925, condemnation is placed BEFORE transgression, so that guilt precedes sin.

On the other hand, in the BFM 1963 and the BFM 2000, condemnation is placed AFTER transgression, so that sin precedes guilt.

You can find this argument developed more fully in the third row of the chart comparing the Abstract of Principles with the BFM in Adam's original post.

Les Prouty

Rick,

I see that. And I can see how you and others who deny imputed guilt may then see Tom and others as out of line with it. But, I can also see how Tom and others who affirm imputed guilt can affirm the BFM2K s well. Tom and others can surely affirm what you all affirm and also affirm more.

Because if the word order precludes Tom's view and the word placement is that definitive, then all the "faith precedes regeneration" folks are in trouble. On regeneration the BFM2K says,

"Regeneration, or the new birth, is a work of God's grace whereby believers become new creatures in Christ Jesus. It is a change of heart wrought by the Holy Spirit through conviction of sin, to which the sinner responds in repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Repentance and faith are inseparable experiences of grace."

So in defining regeneration, it says it is...conviction of sin brings about change of heart (regeneration, what is being defined) which brings about a response by the sinner, repentance and faith.

Goose and gander sort of.

Anyway, thanks for responding.

Rick Patrick

Les,

If the "to which" clause has as its antecedent the "conviction of sin" rather than the "change of heart" then the ordo salutis can be understood as (1) Holy Spirit convicts, (2) sinner responds with repentance and faith, and (3) this entire process represents the change of heart known as regeneration. I believe such an interpretation allows faith to precede regeneration, or at the very least, allows them to be coterminous.

Les Prouty

Rick,

Looks like there is some latitude in how people can interpret and apply their view on the BFM2K.

In the case of your view of the "to which" clause, you rightly put the "if" out there because that may not be how one should interpret it. In any case, in the sentence structure there is no doubt that conviction of sin brings about regeneration (change of heart) and the response comes after the conviction of sin which, the way it is written, brings about the heart change all prior to the sinner response.

See, different SB can see the wording differently and still be orthodox and still, per the way they see it, still be affirming the BFM2K.

Rick Patrick

I am willing to grant the ambiguity on the ordo salutis issue. It's a long sentence with a lot of subordinate clauses.

The other matter, it seems to me, is much more straightforward. Condemnation either precedes or follows transgression.

Also, this whole "we believe more but not less" argument is unconvincing if your "more" totally contradicts my "less."

Les Prouty

Thanks Rick. Have a blessed Lord's Day!

peter lumpkins

Dr. Harwood,

Thanks for logging on. And, know I do apologize for J.D. Hall's needless provocation (i.e. "Canerite") not to mention the dubious historical summation he offers concerning our confessions. I doubt he'll be back though. J.D. has a habit of riding by here and lobbing Molotov cocktails only to go safely back to his blog and proudly give us "what for". And know we've challenged his skewed historical statements concerning the confessions before but again J.D. never shows back up to either show our error or defend his own---http://peterlumpkins.typepad.com/peter_lumpkins/2012/07/the-apostle-john-records-as-a-final-invitation-in-his-revelation-of-jesus-christ-these-magnificent-words.html?cid=6a00d83451a37369e2017616bf2989970c#comment-6a00d83451a37369e2017616bf2989970c

With that, I am...
Peter

Louis

There is a difference. I suspected that the difference started with Dr. Mullins, but I was wrong. It started with the 1963 version of the BFM, which Dr. Hobbs directed, I believe.

SBTS and SEBTS were both in existence and had used the AP. All profs at Southern are required to teach in accordance with and not contrary to the AP, and I believe all full profs sign the statement.

So, along comes the 1963 BFM with the change. I doubt that the change was noticed by the rank and file. I suspect Dr. Hobbs noticed it. Whether it was noticed or not at the time, it apparently went essentially unnoticed - until now, hence Peter's hook for this post.

Dr. Mohler has served on the BFM committee 2000. He must have noticed. I suspect others noticed, too.

This is not an insignificant distinction from a theological standpoint. It should be debated and discussed, and I have no problem with that.

But it has no practical significance, really. We are pretty much guessing about infants and such and the mentally disabled. We don't like the idea that God would consign people like that to hell. Take a 2 year old who is told not to take a cookie, but sneaks one anyway. Is that enough? Is he morally accountable? I don't know.

We don't know the answers to a lot of these questions, and if we start dividing up over them, or making them bigger deals than the very people who wrote the BFM and the first Convention that adopted it, I suspect we will descend even further into the dysfunctional category as a denominational family.

SBTS and SEBTS have existed since 1963 with their requirements for their teaching faculties. The SBC has never balked at those requirements. The only time the SBC spoke was when the requirements were being ignored.

But this is an interesting post and an area for good discussion among theologians, lay people and Christians. I am all for that.

I am just not for doing anything on a denominational level, and I suspect most others are not either.

Adam Harwood

Peter,

Thanks for the word of apology but it is unnecessary. Just as I don't speak for Caner, I understand that JD doesn't speak for you. And I fully support a forum in which a person is able to state freely their viewpoint; this also allows a person who is characterized (which is the way I read the remark) to offer a friendly reply.

Les,

Thanks for your question. I agree with much of what you wrote. Because I was unable to quote directly from Schreiner's paper and did not want to put words into his mouth, I did not relate the scope of his viewpoint. Since this post is getting a lot of attention, it will probably be necessary for me to provide a further explanation of my concern.

To clarify:
- The BFM can be interpreted to affirm inheriting a sinful nature only or to affirm inheriting a sinful nature and Adam’s guilt.
- Schreiner affirms a view of inherited sinful nature AND inherited guilt. This view IS consistent with the BFM.
- The problem is this: Schreiner seems to reject the inherited-sinful-nature-only view when it is NOT accompanied by an affirmation that we inherit Adam’s guilt, which IS an acceptable interpretation--in my view, it's the PLAIN reading of Article 3.
- It’s Schreiner’s rejection of the sinful-nature-only view which I regard to be contrary to the BFM.

I am not asserting that he cannot or should not affirm inherited guilt. I think he’s wrong on that point but that alone does not cause him to be in violation of the BFM. It’s not Schreiner’s affirmation of inherited guilt that is problematic; by doing so he is simply saying _more_ than the BFM on the matter. MANY Southern Baptists do so on a variety of doctrinal points.

The problem is when he says _less_ than the BFM. He seems to do this by rejecting the view that we inherit ONLY a sinful nature. Schreiner denies a common interpretation of Article 3 of the BFM. By denying the inherited sinful nature view, Schreiner says _less_ than the BFM.

I began yesterday to draft a follow up to Thursday's essay. Perhaps a subsequent post will help clarify some of these issues.

Blessings.

In Him,
Adam

lydia

Louis, Your comment reminds me of how big the divide really is in terms of unity. For years, Mohler has been implying that NC is the only place to be if one wants to see nations rejoice for Christ. Or that those who are not Reformed do not have the mental processes to understand it.He has aligned himself with many non SBC Reformed to promote such thinking. We have a few years under our belt of following his Reformed peers such as Mahaney, Driscoll and others plus learning of some of the horror stories and analyzing the public teaching of many. We have been told over and over in various ways we simply do not understand Calvinism or we would agree. We have been told the True Gospel is Calvinism, etc, etc.

Now, others who are non Cals are questioning the doctrine behind the words and behavior of the YRR/NC movement and the Reformed are now saying in effect, this is divisive and nothing to really discuss. They seem to want it to go away or they think any questioning is insulting and calling for heads to be chopped off.

I maintain that discussion was precipitated by the environment and all the things I mentioned and more. Now, the response is, "nothing to see here, move along".

The question is really can we peacefully coexist. And from the behavior and words of the YRR over the last several years, the answer from them seems to be a resounding no since even their leader does not believe we Non C's want to see the nations rejoice for Christ and thinks those who disagree in leadership should be "marginalized".

We cannot pretend lots of divisive words and actions have come from the Reformed wing of the SBC.

peter lumpkins

Louis,

Thanks. I hope you had a nice Thanksgiving and looking forward to a meaningful Advent.

First, why would you drop your initial intuition that the “difference” between imputed sinful guilt and inherited sinful nature began with Mullins and posit instead it began with Hobbs & the 1963 confession? What swayed your thinking on this?  From my understanding, you should have kept your original impression for while the “difference” was surely embraced by Hobbs & the 1963 committee, it did not originate there.

I think you'll find most Baptist historians would credit Mullins as serving as the chief theological visionary producing the Memphis statement of faith. If they are correct, this salient fact alone serves as virtually an insurmountable obstacle for not only those seeking to make Southern Baptists’ first convention-adopted confession strongly Calvinistic, but also those like yourself who would assert the alleged “difference” Hobbs incorporated in 1963 by dropping any allusion to imputed sinful guilt (and thus born under condemnation) and substituting instead language indicative of an inherited sinful nature (and thus becoming condemned only after one actually and consciously transgresses God’s law).

The truth is, Mullins most certainly did not accept the Reformed-Augustinian understanding of inherited sinful guilt. He wrote clearly that “Men are not condemned therefore for hereditary or original sin. They are condemned only for their own sins. They are called to repentance and faith by the gospel. It is their own act of rejection which is the basis of their condemnation” (The Christian Religion in Its Doctrinal Expression, 302).

Indeed other theological luminaries similarly questioned the Augustinian imputed sinful guilt model both before 1963 (W.T. Conner) and for that matter, before and contemporary with 1925 (E.C. Dargan). SWBTS legendary theologian W. T. Conner had this to say:

"As to a theory, then, that will explain how we are guilty of Adam's sin, we need no such theory for the simple reason that we have no such guilt. Guilt is a personal matter and is not possible apart from a personal agent who is morally responsible" (see link above for other definitive quotes revealing the long-time Southwestern professor’s anti-Augustinian musings on this subject).

Hence, to suggest Hobbs “started” the move away from imputed sinful guilt hardly makes historical sense.

Perhaps it would make much more historical sense to suggest the confessional phrase penned by Mullins—who incidentally is routinely named by many Southern Baptist Calvinists as one of the chief influences behind the waning of Calvinism in the SBC (I find appeal to the 1925 Confession as particularly Calvinistic by some of these same brothers to be humorously ironic)—along with Dargan and Cody who served on the committee with him, and therefore would have theologically objected to the Augustinian model, be read without attempting to read the phrase as indicative of Augustinian anthropology, an anthropology many of the committee members (including the chair, E.Y. Mullins) would find at odds with their own vocally pronounced theological views.

I think you need to revisit whatever may have swayed you over to thinking the “difference” began with Hobbs.

With that, I am…

Peter

Louis

Lydia:

I don't disagree with you about divisive words and such.

My comment was directed toward whether the SBC would do anything to tackle this, and I suspect not.

I don't know of any Reformed people who are wanting to change the BFM to bring it in line with AP on this point. The BFM may change over time, and probably will, on a variety of issues. But I don't hear or guess that any Reformed people will pick this up and try to change the BFM.

And I don't know of any non-Reformed people who are actually proposing to do anything about it either. There may be some. There are 16 million of us, and I don't know everyone.

I am not sure what could be done anyway. Using the AP as a confessional statement at the 2 seminaries is a choice that is governed by those seminaries. The SBC can appoint trustees and send money, but those are its only remedies.

Plus, I think that if this were brought up at a convention, it would fail. There may be more of one type (Reformed vs. non-Reformed) attending any particular convention, so a vote could be won or lost based on the numbers. But I think that the profile of such people who would speak against any action that would try to tell or suggest to the seminaries that they not use this statement would doom any such effort. I would put Paige Patterson, Paul Pressler and some prominent non-Reformed pastors as persons who would speak against it.

And I believe that Mohler is on really good terms with Patterson and Pressler and some prominent pastors, like Gaines, on the non-Reformed side.

I hope the rhetoric tones down, but I don't know what will happen.

I just think that doing anything about this issue on a Convention level is not going to happen.

But that's just my opinion, obviously.

Les Prouty

Adam,

You may be right, though until I and others can actually see in print or audio exactly what Tom said or says It's difficult for me and others to know exactly what he affirms and what he does not affirm.

I still have to think that for you to say he is out of accord with the BFM because he sees both inherited nature AND imputed guilt as the teaching of the BFM...as the only acceptable affirmation... is a stretch. He may have good reason to hold that view (I can't tell since I cannot see his reasoning).

And, you say above, "I am not asserting that he cannot or should not affirm inherited guilt. I think he’s wrong on that point but that alone does not cause him to be in violation of the BFM."

But in your original post you wrote,


"But Schreiner’s view, which is standard fare in Reformed confessions and many systematic theologies, is that people come into the world under condemnation due to Adam’s sin. That is contrary to the BFM 2000."

Those two statements seem to be at odds.

Blessings brother.

Les

peter lumpkins

ALL,

I find it worth noting that the very issue about which we're discussing here--imputed guilt vs. inherited nature--stands at the very center of controversy over the Traditional Statement (TS) posted by Eric Hankins in Spring this year. Strong Calvinists then blew the warning trumpet about embracing "semi-Pelagianism" because the TS wasn't strong enough in asserting the sinful nature based primarily upon Rm 5:12 if my memory serves me well. Now, we have Calvinists arguing that inherited nature is the "minimum" teaching of the BF&M while the BF&M "allows" for the much stronger imputed sinful guilt doctrine (a.k.a. Schreiner, et al). How interesting this is becoming...:^)

With that, I am...
Peter

Adam Harwood

Les,

Thanks for your reply. This is a complex conversation and I fear that some of the confusion may result from my lack of clarity in every sentence. If that is the case, then I apologize.

When I stated in the comment section above that Schreiner is free to affirm inherited guilt, I mean he is free to affirm it as one possible interpretation of the BFM. If that were the case, then I would regard his view to be contrary to the BFM but I would not have written an essay on the topic. Many other Southern Baptists affirm a similar view. I think they are incorrect and affirm a view which is contrary to the BFM. In that way, my original post and subsequent comments are consistent.

But you are correct that I did not attempt to establish his opposition to inherited-sinful-nature-only-view in my original post. Perhaps I should have done so. But I decided not to do so because I was unable to support such a claim with a quotation from his paper.

Recall that I had agreed not to quote from Dr. Schreiner's paper. I wanted to be careful not to put words in the professor's mouth. Because he affirms covenant theology, I suspect that a quick survey of his writings would reveal his view in other published writings. I haven't looked. But I didn't see a need to do so because I was not attempting in the original post to characterize all of his teachings on the subject. I was simply responding to his public presentation. There were 75-100 people in the room at the time and he was reading from a forthcoming chapter. This was not a private matter.

Les, I understand that you are reserving judgment on this matter until you are able to read Schreiner's own words. Understood. I preferred to simply quote from his paper but was unable to do so.

I consider the transcript of our 5-minute Q&A exchange to be excluded from my agreement to neither quote nor distribute his paper. But I fear that if I were to release the complete audio and manuscript forms of the Q&A, then I (or my school) would be labeled with "gotcha" journalism.

I didn't attend the presentation, record the session, and ask my question in order to trap Dr. Schreiner or to write a blog post. I recorded the session because presenters of his caliber rarely distribute their full manuscript and I wanted to review his position carefully. The biblical text he selected was at the center of my PhD dissertation and is still a text of great interest. Also, Southern Baptist scholars rarely address this text asking about the nature of our inheritance from the first Adam. But that was precisely the text and topic he addressed.

I had my laptop with me and when he announced he was going to present without distributing his paper (but would make it available to those who requested it via e-mail), then I simply opened my MacBook Pro and recorded the audio in Camtasia. (In previous years, ETS recorded every presentation but they recently discontinued the practice due to the logistics and expense of recording 600+ sessions over 3 days.)

It was during his presentation that I realized his view was a REJECTION of the inherited-sinful-nature-only view. I wanted to ask him a clarifying question so he could explain that's not what he intended. I recognized the gravity of my question as the words left my lips. So I explicitly stated I was NOT trying to trap him, but was asking an honest question. I asked a long question and thought I was setting him up to simply acknowledge that he affirms the article on man in the BFM 2000 and move on to the next question. I even quoted the relevant section of Article 3 from memory.

His reply was careful, intelligent, and measured. But nothing he said altered my understanding of his presentation. After reading his paper the next day, I am now certain that Schreiner regards as unorthodox any rejection of the imputation of Adam's guilt. Such a view says MORE (when he includes that we inherit Adam's guilt) but also says LESS than Article 3 of the BFM 2000 (when he REJECTS the view that we inherit only a sinful nature).

Southern Seminary trains pastors and missionaries for all SBC churches. Will a professor in the theology department at SBTS acknowledge that it is both orthodox and permissible for one to affirm that we inherit from Adam a sinful nature but not his guilt? In my view, that's the plain teaching of the Bible, a permissible reading of Article 3 of the BFM 2000, and a common view among Southern Baptists in the pew. I am hopeful that a SBTS professor in the coming months will affirm this view as permissible.

In Him,

Adam

Les Prouty

Thanks Adam for your engagement on this. I will wait to see how this plays out. Thankfully I'm not in a place of having to affirm the BFM2K.I have had to subscribe to the WCF and the LC and SC though. An interesting thing to know, and I do not know, is what exactly does it mean to affirm the BFM2K. I'm certainly not sure. Is "affirm" even the right word to use? In the PCA the word is "subscribe." but that is understand in different ways and there has been much discussion what subscription means. Actually subscribe is a commonly used word. Here is the actual ministerial vow asked of candidates at ordination (among several other questions):

"Do you sincerely receive and adopt the Confession of Faith and
the Catechisms of this Church, as containing the system of
doctrine taught in the Holy Scriptures; and do you further
promise that if at any time you find yourself out of accord with
any of the fundamentals of this system of doctrine, you
will on your own initiative, make known to your Presbytery
the change which has taken place in your views since the
assumption of this ordination vow?"

But there is latitude to differ at some points but not others. Presbyteries must make determinations whether a candidate's exception or scruple is acceptable.

Anyway, maybe someone here could define what it means to affirm the BFM2K for denominational EEs.

Les

lydia

"I just think that doing anything about this issue on a Convention level is not going to happen."

Oh, I totally agree with that. But not sure that matters much.

Adam Harwood

Les,

In your last comment you wrote: "Anyway, maybe someone here could define what it means to affirm the BFM2K for denominational EEs."

This does not answer your inquiry regarding every denominational employee, but I can provide the following information regarding its meaning for a person who teaches at SBTS:

In the introduction to “An Exposition from the Faculty of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary on The Baptist Faith and Message 2000” (http://www.sbts.edu/documents/bfmexposition.pdf), Dr. Mohler explains, “The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary is unembarrassed in our commitment to require all professors to teach ‘in accordance with and not contrary to’ our Abstract of Principles and the Baptist Faith and Message.”

It is my understanding that all six SBC seminaries interview prospective faculty members on their understanding of the BFM and ask candidates if they are willing to affirm by their signature their agreement to teach in accordance with and not contrary to the BFM 2000.

A faculty member might not personally affirm everything as written in the BFM. But those differences on "third-level doctrines" can be discussed with administration. The condition for employment is that one will TEACH in accordance with it and not contrary to it--not that one must personally believe every last doctrine as described in the document. (I'm not advocating this approach, only describing it.)

Some institutions require additional statements, such as the Chicago Statement or the Abstract. But all of them require the BFM 2000.

Blessings.

In Him,
Adam

Les Prouty

Thanks Adam. That is helpful. Somewhat similar to what we do in the PCA. Not exact, but similar. And teaching according to and believing is similar. To a point. For instance one cannot simply say I'll teach according to XXXX that Jesus literally rose from the dead even if that man personally denies the literal resurrection.

But we can in the PCA for instance say we personally believe in paedocommunion, for instance, and still be ordained and instructed not to teach paedocommunion since it is not approved as acceptable in the denomination.

Again, thanks.

Les Prouty

Adam,

I've now found the PDF. Nevermind my last comment re SBTS at least. Mohler also says, "Furthermore, we expect our professors to hold these convictions as personal beliefs and commitments, not merely as contractual obligations for teaching."

Les

Louis

Peter:

I said the change began with Hobbs only because that's when the change to the BFM occurred - with the 1963 BFM that Hobbs directed.

I am aware, and agree with you, that Mullins was certainly a force in shifing theology across the SBC. That's why I expected the change to be in the 1925 BFM.

I was speaking ONLY to the BFM. Obviously, Mullins was a change agent.

But on this particular point, Mullins used the language from the AP.

I do not know why he did that.

I recently read the history of SBTS and there is some material on the BFM committee that produced the 1925 statement.

The faculty at Southern was apparently quite relieved to find that Mullins would chair the BFM committee. One of the big concerns was over the evolution controversy. Mullins completely avoided that. There were other issues, as well, but I cannot remember what they were.

Apparently, the issue we were discussing was not at the top of the list, and Mullins just decided to avoid it. Since the professors at Southern had already signed the AP, making the BFM close to the AP reduced potential difficulties, I suppose.

But I agree completely with you about Mullins being a change agent.

He just was not in this instance. And the change did not occur until 1963 with Hobbs.

And it's interesting that in the interim between 1925 and 1963, the SBC founded SEBTS, and SEBTS used the AP, Calvinist language and all.

The only thing that I can make of this really is that the SBC has not been particulary careful or scrupulous when it comes to its theological confessions.

I think that applies today.

A good number of Southern Baptists have a natural aversion, which is not altogether unhealthy, of theological nitpicking.

But that often results in a bit of laziness, I think.

The problem is that the cure is worse than the disease, in my opinion, particularly on this issue.

JD

Peter, I truly hope that you don't take my only-occasional commenting as drive-by "Molotov Cocktail" throwing. I assume the comment thread is for some light opining and not made available for a detailed counter-analysis of your viewpoints. Concerning the subject at hand, the necessity of staff at the most aggressively anti-Calvinist college in the convention finding a new way to interpret the Faith and Message speaks to the historicity of an explicitly Monergistic Southern Baptist past. There is no doubt that Southern Baptists have been moving away from Calvinism as indicated by certain (slight) changes in the Faith and Message. The question is about who is truly 'traditional,' and I think the answer is clear that Caner's brand of man-centered, semi-Pelagian soteriology would clearly have been out of place at our founding.

Adam Harwood

JD,

Thank you. I so much prefer "man-centered" and "semi-Pelagian" to "Canerite."

Blessings, brother.

In Him,

Adam

William Marshall

Dr. Harwood,
Les quoted you as saying (in your original article I believe):"But Schreiner’s view, which is standard fare in Reformed confessions and many systematic theologies, is that people come into the world under condemnation due to Adam’s sin. That is contrary to the BFM 2000." Schreiner's view, as you worded it here, seems like it is taken straight from Romans 5:18 "Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men..." Adam's trespass led to the condemnation of all men. How do you understand this passage? Thanks for your interaction and for taking the time! (sorry if this moves away from the discussion a bit but I am curious as to how you understand this passage)

wm

Adam Harwood

William,

Thanks for your note. There is much to be commended in Schreiner's view of Romans 5. We share many points of similarity, in both his ETS presentation as well as his Baker Exegetical Commentary on Romans (1998). But there are sharp differences in our views at critical points. For example, condemnation in Romans 5 must be clearly defined and delimited.

Keep in mind that Paul parallels the work of Christ with work of Adam. If condemnation comes prior to personally ratifying the work of Adam, then does justification come prior to personally ratifying the work of Christ by faith? Because we reject Universalism, we say no. (This is Millard Erickson's view of Rom 5:12-21.)

I plan to present my view of Romans 5 at the John 3:16 Conference in March.

As I noted elsewhere (perhaps not clearly enough) in the original post, he was unwilling to allow for an orthodox SBC interpretation rejecting inherited guilt. I'm reluctant to comment more on the Q&A with Schreiner but may include further reflections in a subsequent post.

Consider also that Article 3 was intended to summarize the teaching on man found in the entire Bible, including Romans 5:18.

I hope this helps.

Blessings.

Adam

William Marshall

Dr. Harwood,
Thanks again for taking the time. We probably disagree on the 'personally ratifying' idea. My take, which is more the federal headship idea, is that we are all 'in Adam' because we are all his descendants. Thus, we are all condemned in Adam because of his trespass (inherited condemnation, at least). Likewise, a person receives the benefits of Christ's righteous act when they are 'in Christ' through faith in Him (which would deny Universalism as well because all do not believe). I assume my views are more in line with Schreiner's and others, but thanks for offering your understanding, that helps me better understand where you (and others) are coming from on this issue.

wm

Adam Harwood

William,

Thanks for your reply. Don't go yet. You give the impression that our views are worlds apart. I'm not convinced. May I ask you to clarify your position?

First, you write: "We probably disagree on the 'personally ratifying' idea." Do you mean that it is not necessary that we personally ratify (receive for ourselves) the work of Adam, the work of Christ, or both?

Second:
1. When you were in your mother's womb, were you at that moment under condemnation because of Adam's sin? If yes, then please read on.
2. By "under condemnation," do you mean that in the womb you were regarded as one who was at that time guilty and worthy of God's wrath and judgement of eternal separation from Him? If yes, then please read on.
3. You write that "a person receives the benefits of Christ's righteous act when they are 'in Christ' through faith in Him." You seem to affirm that guilty people must receive Christ by faith; if not, they will remain lost in their sin and guilt. If you do affirm this broadly evangelical view of salvation by believing in Christ, then please read on.
4. Suppose that you (still in your mother's womb, still worthy of God's judgment, wrath, and eternity in hell) die. Do guilty infants who are unable to receive Christ by faith in this lifetime (in our scenario it's you) enter heaven? If so, how? If not, then I have no reply.

I look forward to your reply.

In Him,
Adam

Les Prouty

Adam,

If I may, until William returns, proffer a reply? Me in CAPS for differentiation.

"First, you write: "We probably disagree on the 'personally ratifying' idea." Do you mean that it is not necessary that we personally ratify (receive for ourselves) the work of Adam [YES], the work of Christ [WE MUST EXERCISE FAITH EXCEPT IN UNUSUAL SITUATIONS, FAITH BEING A GIFT], or both?

Second:
1. When you were in your mother's womb, were you at that moment under condemnation because of Adam's sin? If yes, then please read on. [YES]
2. By "under condemnation," do you mean that in the womb you were regarded as one who was at that time guilty and worthy of God's wrath and judgement of eternal separation from Him? If yes, then please read on. [YES]
3. You write that "a person receives the benefits of Christ's righteous act when they are 'in Christ' through faith in Him." You seem to affirm that guilty people must receive Christ by faith; if not, they will remain lost in their sin and guilt. [YES]. SEE ABOVE] If you do affirm this broadly evangelical view of salvation by believing in Christ, then please read on.
4. Suppose that you (still in your mother's womb, still worthy of God's judgment, wrath, and eternity in hell) die. Do guilty infants who are unable to receive Christ by faith in this lifetime (in our scenario it's you) enter heaven? [YES] If so, how? If not, then I have no reply. [SEE BELOW]

FROM LBC 1689"

"Elect infants dying in infancy are regenerated and saved by Christ through the Spirit; who worketh when, and where, and how he pleases; so also are all elect persons, who are incapable of being outwardly called by the ministry of the Word."

SINCE I BELIEVE THAT THE WORD TEACHES MONERGISM, GOD REGENERATING AN INFANT IS NOT A PROBLEM.

Les Prouty

Adam,

One more comment. You say above to William:

"Keep in mind that Paul parallels the work of Christ with work of Adam. If condemnation comes prior to personally ratifying the work of Adam, then does justification come prior to personally ratifying the work of Christ by faith?"

Seems to me this views both the "in Adam" and the "in Christ" aspect in human terms only. As I commented over at SBC Focus where Chris Roberts is reviewing your book,

"Natural birth=imputed guilt. Hence the need to be “born again!” Not naturally, but supernaturally. This is the simple but glorious gospel."

Blessings brother,

Les

William Marshall

Dr. Harwood,
I agree that our views are not worlds apart. They are different (and understand Romans 5:18 differently along with other passages), but they are not worlds apart, sorry if I implied that. I will try and clarify my position by answering your questions best I can.

First, the idea of us personally ratifying, or receiving for ourselves, the work of Adam seems foreign to the context of Romans 5. We are all 'in Adam' from birth. The idea that seems to run through the text (5:12-21) is that we are all 'in Adam' as humans. It is hard for me to see the idea that we are only 'in Adam' when we actually sin. We would agree that we are 'in Christ' when we repent and believe in the good news. Although Paul is making a comparison between being 'in Christ' and 'in Adam' the issue is not so much how we get in but what happens to those who are in, namely those in Adam are condemned and die, those in Christ are righteous and have new life. That seems to be the comparison to me. Likewise, the issue is what Adam has done for humanity and what Christ has done for humanity. Through Adam's action (trespass) we are sinners and condemned. Through Jesus' action (righteous) we are made righteous and given life.

Second, I understand your logical steps that if we believe that men are born condemned, or guilty, then all babies will be judged and sent to Hell. I can only respond with a couple of thoughts. First, just because an argument follows logically that does not mean it is biblical (for example the doctrines of the Trinity or the incarnation). Second, the bible teaches that men will be judged for their deeds (Revelation 20:12-13). Thus, there is a connection between judgment and deeds (which would apply to children, they will not be judged because they have committed no evil deeds), an idea that we probably agree upon (to some degree). Obviously that does not answer all of the questions about the death of children, but since you wrote a book on this topic, I am sure I have nothing new to say that you have not already thought about!!

Hopefully that helps clarify my position a bit. Thanks again for taking the time,

wm

Adam Harwood

Les and William,

Thanks for your gracious interactions and specific replies. The positions you gentlemen described typify a solid and consistent defense of the your interpretations. Although we differ, I do acknowledge that you both described varieties of orthodox Christian views.

I share Les' commitment to neither the WCF/LBC nor to Monergism. Nor do I share his view that an infant in a womb is guilty of another person's sin. As William stated, "the Bible teaches that men will be judged for their deeds." Because I see that truth repeated consistently from Genesis to Revelation, a reading of Romans 5 which imports federal headship is unappealing.

Blessings, brothers. Please keep in touch.

In Him,
Adam

Les Prouty

Thanks Adam. We disagree to be sure. But I think we've done so in a gentlemanly manner. Would that more Christian discourse on these matters be done in the way you have conducted yourself.

God bless,

Les

William Marshall

Dr. Harwood,
Thanks again for the interaction, it helped me better understand your view. Take care brother,

wm

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