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Dec 06, 2012

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Tim G

There you go again Peter! You have revealed FACT that cannot be spun away for one's desired historical rewriting of SBC Doctrinal history.

I wonder why so many are so quick to leave all the facts out?

Nice job!

Paul Thompson

I had read this 1919-20 statement before. Yet when I read it, I read the statements you cite as strong support for the doctrines of grace.

QUOTE From above:
IV. That in his natural state, man is depraved and without true holiness; (this is a statement of total depravity)

V. That salvation is wholly of grace through Jesus Christ; (This is a statement of God's saving work)

VI. That on condition of personal repentance for sin and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ any man can receive the forgiveness of sin and salvation unto everlasting life; (The condition of personal repentance is mandated in Scripture. This is a necessary reaction of man through the saving work of God.)

VII. That regeneration is necessary to spiritual life in Christ, and that this change is effected by the direct action of the Holy Spirit upon the heart of each individual who exercises personal faith in Jesus Christ; (This shows the effect of the direct work, action, or the Holy Spirit. The emphasis is upon the Holy Spirit, not the individual who exercises personal faith in Christ.)

VIII. That sanctification is the process by which, between regeneration and glorification, the spiritual life of the believer is deepened, and he grows in grace and the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ; (One more time, this is a declaration of a reaction that follows the once spiritually dead soul who has been regenerated to repent.)

Dean

Thanks for the post Peter. Revisionist will be terribly disappointed. They were just about to reveal we practiced infant baptism as a denomination demonstrating our children are part of the covenant. Good job.

lydia

Paul,

So, in other words, the words do not mean what they say and must be interpreted for us so we can understand them correctly

Peter, I am constantly amazed at your talent for unearthing SBC historical facts. You should write a book about this issue tracking the historical shifts.

Ron F. Hale

Peter,
Fascinating read! Thanks for diving deep into our history.

peter lumpkins

Tim, Dean, Lydia, and Ron. Thanks. I appreciate your encouragement and readership...

Paul,

Not sure how I'm supposed to respond.

Grace to all

Max

Thanks Peter for your journey into the SBC archives!

Within ten years of releasing BFM1925, O.C.S. Wallace penned "What Baptists Believe." Published by the SBC Sunday School Board in 1934, this book was used in the Training Course for Sunday School Workers for several years. A passage from the book:

"It is by the truth that men are made free and alive. But the truth does not effect the spiritual change working alone ... in order that truth may become effective for the transformation of sinful man, it is necessary for the living Spirit of God to use it upon the man; but, on the other hand, it is necessary for the man to know truth. Regeneration takes place only when the soul of the man yields to these ideas. His yielding does not regenerate, though his resistance may hinder regeneration. It is when his soul assents to the truth which has been lodged in his mind, and consents to the domination of these truths in the realm of will and purpose, that he is regenerated."

Another line from the book: "Salvation comes to the soul that comes to salvation. Forgiving Saviour and penitent sinner meet."

Tweaking history is never a good thing.

JD Hall

I'm terribly sorry I've come so late to this party. Thanks for engaging in the conversation. I've responded in my own blogosphere and don't imagine you want me to litter yours with the small book I've written, so I'll give you a nibble:

"The 1919 Foreign Mission Board statement of belief intentionally reads like doctrinal crib notes. The statement could literally have been written out on a paper napkin. Should we expect the statement to be an exhaustive confession wherein we can interpret its silence as compliance to one school of soteriology over another? The fact is, the accompanied explanation of the the 1919 statement of faith clearly says that it's purpose is to avoid "an exhaustive enumeration" for the sake of a "spiritual union which exists among all believers in Christ" and to "preserve the unity of our denomination."6 The statement was explicitly written to be so shallow and doctrinally accommodating that signers weren't allowed to explain their convictions on any given point, but mandated to "agree or disagree." This is the reason for the vague ambiguities - not because the drafters were ignoring the topics of election or predestination. Indeed, the accompanying plea for denomination unity is longer than the confession itself! Combine this with the reality that the statement was also penned by Calvinist Mullins and any subsequent assertion that the document is explicitly or implicitly Synergistic (as Lumpkins suggests) or 'Arminian' (as Riddle suggests in his 2008 piece in the Journal of Baptist Studies) is absurd.

Even though Synergists in our Convention have wisely conceded that Calvinism waters the roots of our Southern Baptist heritage, they still insist on rewriting our history, claiming that Faith and Message revisions haven't rewritten our history."

Lydia

JD,

Once again the words do not mean what they say. We need the special decoder rings that only the Calvinists seem to posess.

Max

Lydia,

I suspect those special decoder rings will start popping up in yard sales pretty soon. I've already noticed several Piper, Keller and Driscoll books in garage sales at bargain prices ... not that I purchased any of them, but I take that as a good sign.

Wishing you and yours a Very Merry Christmas, Sister Lydia.

peter lumpkins

All

May respond to JDs comment later. I encourage all to read his 'small book'. Talk about ignoring the issue! Whew...

lydia

"I suspect those special decoder rings will start popping up in yard sales pretty soon. I've already noticed several Piper, Keller and Driscoll books in garage sales at bargain prices ... not that I purchased any of them, but I take that as a good sign."

Same here, Max to you and yours

People are becoming more and more exhausted trying to figure it all out. the end result of the Aug/Cal filter no matter how you spin it, is death. Blogging has not been good for the YRR movement in some respects as time marched on. People are analyzing the doctrine very closely and we are coming to the same conclusion that others have throughout history. Calvinism fares better and lasts longer in authoritarian societies. I see it as a trend that will leave lots of wounded in its wake.

Little by little, more and more are waking up to the hollowness of following the gurus.

Max, just a note, as we see more and more articles concerning people leaving church, just remember, some of these are the nones and many are middle aged and older. They simply cannot support what they are seeing in many churches. May God have mercy on us.

Dean

JD, my schedule will not allow me to look up all the quotes that I have heard, read and noted by contemporary Calvinist in the SBC that claim explicitly that our convention was established by Calvinist. They claim that we owe our heritage and very existence to the Reform and they want to recapture our original "historical grace theology." Peter's post, as I read it, is not meant to claim our convention had no Calvinistic leanings or scholars, preachers or leaders because we did. However, they were not exclusive as revisionists today claim. That is why these type posts are such a blessing. I love Dr. Lemke's statement that while we were founded with Calvinistic leanings our convention began moving away from them and has consistently done so. I am convinced an honest evaluation of our our BF&M changes through the years will reveal this to be true. JD, I hope I'm not misreading your statement but it appears that your interpretation of the 1919 statement is that the Calvinist convention watered down the statement so that the few non-Calvinists could participate in missions and there not be a fight.

Max

Lydia writes "... no matter how you spin it, is death ... more and more are waking up to the hollowness ..."

Indeed Lydia. I have been closely following messages and methods of SBC-YRR churches in my area. There is hardly any mention of the ministry of the Holy Spirit and very little evidence of spiritual life flowing through followers of New Calvinism in my neck of the woods. Some are leaving indoctrinated, but disillusioned. I fear that there will be a lot of casualties when the dust settles. Unfortunately, many of these are from the generation of young folks which traditional Southern Baptists could not reach because of their own spiritual complacency in recent years. There's a lot of soul-searching and repentance due on both sides of the fence. I echo your "May God have mercy on us."

peter lumpkins

All,

I encouraged you above to read what J.D. Hall deems as his “rebuttal” to an alleged “challenge” to him I’m supposed to have issued in my post above to “correct" my counter-assertions toward his comment I quoted. I’ve wavered back & forth whether or not to answer Hall since I view his piece veritably innocuous to the content of this piece, but decided, perhaps more for a newcomer’s sake, to offer some extended thoughts in a separate comment below.

One thought I’ll include here about Hall’s needless rhetorical slur:

“…Lumpkins "challenges" me to correct his counter-assertions in the post's comment thread. Instead of waging a comment war with the man who has his finger on the delete button, most of my response will be posted here at the Pulpit and Pen” (//link)

First, I’ll give Hall (or anyone else for that matter) a shiny new nickel for every word he (or another) digs from my post which specifically challenged Hall to do anything. Hall appears to think my brief statement—“I challenge the perceptive reader to demonstrate my error in the thread below”—was specifically aimed at him. That is false. Not only did the little “challenge” above have nothing to do with Hall (that’s not to imply Hall is not a “perceptive reader"), neither did it have to do with Hall’s quote I cited. Instead my rhetorically-driven “challenge” concerned any “perceptive reader” correcting my denial that Southern Baptists were "much more Calvinistic" in 1925 since the confessional language found within the documents themselves could not sustain the claim.

Hence, while my post is, of course, an assault on what I believe to be a clearly skewed understanding of our confessional history indicative of and illustrated by Hall’s quote I cited, I most certainly did not “challenge” Hall to “correct [my] counter-assertions” toward the claims he offered.

Truth is, I honestly get both tired and fairly frustrated when exchanges cannot advance beyond having to go back and show how someone carelessly read a piece and posted an irrelevant response which ought to embarrass the dickens out of them. Unfortunately, I’m sorry to report J.D. Hall appears to have a habit of responding with this inferior type of exchange which brings me to a second thought.

Hall expresses his reservations about commenting here—or, “waging a comment war” he calls it—since the exchange would be with “the man who has his finger on the delete button.” Again, this is the unfortunate type of exchange J.D. apparently likes to initiate—a perpetual flow of slurs and insults rather than just sticking to the ideas involved (on the last post, Hall could not resist insulting Dr. Adam Harwood with his ceaseless string of provocative slurs).

Of course, the implication of Hall’s image of a man with his “finger on the delete button” is, I do not allow dissent on this site and when reasonable objection is logged or perhaps I feel my position threatened, I have my trusty trigger finger positioned on the “delete button” to squelch the supposed damage commenters like J.D. could pose for my position. In order for my view to even be perceived as credible, I must at all costs protect it from learned dissenters such as J.D. Therefore, according to Hall I apparently am not to be trusted that all the salient, reasonable, and devastating rebuttals someone like him would log would be publicly posted; but instead I would just keep deleting worthy contributions to this exchange.

For my part, it’s this type of vindictive criticism indicative of the bad reputation blogging has earned. I hope under God, we’ll all strive to do better than this in 2013.

With that, I am…

Peter

P.S. A more detailed comment follows…

peter lumpkins

WARNING: the comment is very long. But if anyone is interested, here's my response to J.D. Hall.

All,

Here’s a more detailed response to J.D. Hall’s piece “Lumpkins and the influence of Calvinism in the Faith and Message” I’ll try to be as brief as necessary and only address Hall’s the more important points he logs. Hall’s words are emboldened and my response follows. If someone thinks I either fail to give Hall the benefit of doubt or interpret him properly, please feel free to correct my errors:

To counter this assertion, Lumpkins several arguments. First, Lumpkins argues that a side by side reading of the three versions of the Faith and Message do not reveal a twentieth century move away from Calvinism. The “assertion” to which Hall alludes is the quote I cited from him at the beginning of the post. And, my actual conclusion (not argument) was, given my side-by-side reading of the three BF&M editions, the common claim that Southern Baptists were "much more Calvinistic" in 1925 cannot be sustained given the confessional language found within the confessions themselves. I made no argument about the language but challenged others to show where I might be mistaken.

Secondly, Lumpkins claims that the "legendary" E.Y. Mullins (the chairman of the committee presenting the 1925 Faith and Message) had made a "decisive move away from strict Calvinism." Correct. And, I logged a strict Calvinist in support of my assertion (Mohler). I could have logged others just as easily (Ascol, Nettles, and others who cite Mullins as a key figure in leading us away from the doctrines of grace) but noted since it was fairly well publicly established that Mullins was the culprit doing so, there was no need. In addition, I also cited other men (including Cody, Dargan, Scarborough) on the BF&M committee leading to the 1925 confession who would have dissented from Calvinist orthodoxy and thus would bolster my claim. But Hall never gets around to questioning anyone I mentioned but Mullins.

Third, Lumpkins uses as an evidential exhibit the 1919 statement of belief adopted by the Foreign Missions Board, which he claims is explicitly synergistic (my wording). Well, J.D.’s wording is not at all indicative of my claims about the 1919 statement of faith (more on this below)

[I] thank Mr. Lumpkins for his clear acknowledgment that Calvinism was the predominant theological view of the 19th century and that he's chosen to cede the point that our founding (which was in 1845 and not 1925 or 1919) grew from Calvinist soil. J.D. is welcome but I actually never intended to “cede” anything. “Cede” is a term coming from the Latin cēdere which means “to yield” or “to abandon” something. Sorry, J.D. I neither yielded nor abandoned any position or point I’ve previously made on this subject. I’ve never once argued or implied that our SB history lacked a strong Calvinistic presence particularly in the 19th century. So ceding this point is hardly something I could actually accomplish. Nor have I argued or implied that the SBC failed to emerge out of the soils of Calvinistic theology. So ceding that notion is also absurd since I’ve never held to that ridiculously concocted assertion. Instead what I have and continue to argue is, our rich SBC history emerged out of the soils of both Calvinistic and non-Calvinistic Baptists, a notion undeniably sustained by the the historical record itself. The rub comes when Calvinists like yourself—along with any number of Founders-type Calvinists--attempt to make Calvinism the one and only heritage of Southern Baptist orthodoxy. So, J.D. I cede nothing but rather claim far too many Baptist Calvinists today hold to what can only be called a reductionist historiography.

…Lumpkins concedes that the most influential and quintessential denominational fathers were explicitly Calvinistic. Indeed, these men were notoriously Monergistic. “Concedes”??—like the famous phrase Ronald Reagan used, “there you go again…” J.D. I concede nothing because you don’t even mention what I’m supposed to have argued that I now have apparently abandoned! Even so, I would never, in a gazillion lifetimes, concede such an absurd anti-Baptist statement you’ve just created. Leaving aside for the moment the Calvinism of the leaders you mention, to view them as “denominational fathers” is so entirely repulsive to my free church spirit I am ready to throw-up. This is precisely why some say of Baptist Calvinists they are “more Presbyterian than Baptist.” While yes you are correct to suggest Baptists historically have people of influence amongst them (precisely what I presume about Mullins), to view these men of influence as “denominational fathers” is simply misguided at best and anti-Baptistic at worst. For Baptists, we have descriptive precedent which, for us, remains undeniably informative but that’s as far as it goes. To speak of our “fathers” seems to me to imply more authority they neither deserve nor fits well with either a Baptist understanding confessionalism or ecclesiology. And, even if it is so the “founders” or “fathers” were, in 1845, as you suggest,”notoriously Monergistic,” this counts exactly zero toward anything I posted on this piece. I clearly limited my point to circa 1925. But again, even if we did include the formation of the Baptists in the south during the middle of the 19th century, your point would posses little bite. A) the SBC formed without a confession, so we have no confessional language to compare; B) we have little way of knowing precisely how strong the Calvinism was in the churches represented by the 268(?) delegates who met in Augusta.C) to suggest the men you cite all held tenaciously to “monergism” is nothing more than sheer anachronism. You’re reading “monergism” back into their positions. After all, which of them employed the term “monergism” to describe his position? Care to give me a list? But even if they all ”notoriously” held to “Monergistic,” if I am not mistaken, all of the men you listed ”notoriously” held to slavery as well. Should we then ”notoriously” hold to slavery since they, after all, are our “quintessential denominational fathers”?

In fact, there's no shortage of evidence that the majority of our founders could rightly be called "strict Calvinists" by Peter Lumpkins. See above.

But for those who desire to pretend the Southern Baptist Convention began in the 20th century, what about Lumpkins' claims that the Faith and Message hasn't been making a progressive, lurking lunge toward Synergism in the last 85 years? And, just what has pretense that the SBC formed in the 20th century to do with anything I wrote? I neither assumed nor implied such an absurdity. Nor did my post imply anything like “lung[ing] toward Synergism in the last 85 years.” I can only assume this is rhetorical filler to make your “little book” a little longer.

It's interesting to note that 1925 heading matches that found in the New Hampshire Confession of Faith, which is an important notation. Why it would it be an “important notation” that the 1925 heading matches the New Hampshire Declaration of Faith (NHD) J.D. never seems to get around to telling us. I happen to think it’s interesting more headings don’t match since the 1925 statement is purported to be built upon the NHD.

Whereas the 1925 edition says that man "inherit a nature corrupt in the bondage to sin, are under condemnation, and as soon as they are capable of moral action become actual transgressors" (notice this places condemnation comes before moral capability because it is tied to the nature, not to the action), the 1963 says that "[mankind] inherits a nature... inclined toward sin" (thus removing both the bondage to sin and the condemnation in which the 1925 version indicates man is born). The 1963 also adds the words "free choice," which is absent in the 1925. The 2000 doesn't make any notable changes on Article 3, except for having some more positive things to say about man (which stands in stark contrast to the typically Calvinistic view of man). Yes, and as I’ve before stated to J.D. (he ignored my statement), his insistence that the ”condemnation in which the 1925 version indicates man is born” need not necessarily indicate a stronger view of human depravity than either of the later revisions (1963, 2000). In fact, if it does indicate what J.D. and other strict Calvinists ceaselessly insist—that is, imputed Adamic guilt rather than inherited sinful nature—then, it poses problems since its chief author was E.Y. Mullins. Why? Mullins explicitly denied the Bible taught imputed Adamic guilt. Consider:

“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).

It makes entirely no sense whatsoever for Mullins to write confessional language he himself outright rejected. And, not only him, E.C. Dargan and Z.T. Cody (on the BFM committee of 1925) also rejected the interpretation J.D. Hall seems to suggest shows the BF&M was clearly more Calvinistic than either 1963 or 2000.

It's not until the 1963 revision that Hershel Hobbs…felt necessary to include a partial Ordo Salutis, listing regeneration. Uh? First, it’s the 1925 confession not the later ones which focuses upon regeneration (it has it’s own heading!). Second, the idea of “Ordo Salutis” is absolutely foreign to our confessions. This is particularly a Reformed notion within systematic theology and to mix this scholastic model onto Southern Baptist confessions is, in my view, fundamentally skewed. We have no precedent whatsoever to speak of a so-called “Ordo Salutis” within our confessions.

…there is an interesting paragraph split between the 1963 and 2000 revisions… This was clearly a move to remove any possible Calvinistic reading of the 1963 revision. I haven’t the faintest idea where J.D. gets it was “clearly a move to remove any possible Calvinistic reading of the 1963 revision.” Perhaps another reader can figure it out. I do know one thing: Al Mohler would have been a part of the conspiracy to do so since he helped draft (literally) the BFM2K. I also wish J.D. would tell all his Calvinist buddies with whom I’m constantly at odds about to stop insisting the BFM2K teaches regeneration precedes faith. They say it absolutely, clearly teaches it. J.D. laments on the other hand, the BFM2K was clearly a move to remove any possible Calvinistic reading of the 1963 revision. Which Calvinist interpretation should we embrace? 

Even so, what Hall never once mentions in his “book” is my statement showing the new birth is conditioned upon saving faith, a major point I made in the post above. For the confessing 1925 Baptists, regeneration followed faith not vice versa as Hall insists. In fact that’s one of the primary reasons I argue Calvinism was already outta fuel by the time the first quarter of the 20th century appeared. It began to lose its influential grip in Baptist life well before the end of the 19th century. By the first quarter of the next century, strict Calvinism had waned into the background of SB life.

One would be hard-pressed to cover up the gradual move toward Synergism by a side-by-side comparison of the Faith and Message revisions. Well, J.D. cites one possible substantial difference (the “condemnation” coming before actual sin in the 1925 version, a difference I addressed) and proclaims one would be “hard-pressed to cover up the gradual move toward Synergism” in the BF&M. For my part, not too convincing. By the way, now Hall wants to say it was a “gradual move” when he before was talking about a “progressive, lurking lunge” in the last 85 years.

Clearly the language of the New Hampshire Baptist Confession of Faith had to be amended for one reason or another - and a doctrinal shift was that very reason. We agree. The NHD was a decided step away from the High Calvinism of 1689, and the 1925 statement was a step away from the Low Calvinism of NHD. Precisely! 

Indeed, the 1833 New Hampshire Confession was written by John Newton Brown for the explicit purpose of retaining the Calvinist doctrine of older confessions, yet giving it a more mild flavor so that it could be accepted widely by Baptists of every soteriological stripe.4 Here’s where we learn the importance of carefully checking the footnotes people use. I believe in documentation. I think it’s a shame so much is on the internet without footnotes. Frankly, I want to know where someone got their info (while there are obvious exceptions to that, the exceptions only pronounce the rule more loudly!). Well, J.D. says in his footnote (4) that what he’s just done is quote from J. M. Pendleton’s Church Manual Designed for the Use of Baptist Churches. I happen to have a copy of Pendleton but I see absolutely nothing resembling Hall’s wording (while there are no quotation marks, he could have inadvertently left them out. If so, he also left out the page number as well. Not a problem yet. Sometimes when I document something and even when the page number is supposed to show up, it for one reason or another fails). So now I’ll issue my first challenge to J.D.: produce Pendleton’s quote you said you cited. I want to know where it’s either stated or implied that Brown wrote the New Hampshire Declaration of Faith “for the explicit purpose of retaining the Calvinist doctrine of older confessions, yet giving it a more mild flavor so that it could be accepted widely by Baptists of every soteriological stripe.” That shouldn’t be a hard task to do. I’d like to see the quote before I comment on your assertion.

In Mullins' 1912 book Baptist Beliefs he points out that the New Hampshire Confession of Faith has been modified - but not for Calvinists, but for Arminians.5 It's interesting that Mullins didn't suffer the same ailment that requires Synergists to call themselves 'Traditional Baptists' or 'Biblicists,' but squarely called them Arminians. Truly, the starting point of the New Hampshire Confession of Faith was a Calvinist position, softened to accommodate an Arminian contingent for the sake of denominational unity. Thankfully, J.D. gave us the page numbers in this volume so we could read with him his source. Here is the single assertion Mullins records concerning the NHD and modification:

This Declaration has become almost the sole Confession used in the North, East and West, where Calvinism has become most modified by Arminianism (E. Y. Mullins, Baptist Beliefs. Valley Forge, PA: Judson Press, 1925, 84. For the record, I also checked the 1912 version Hall used. It is identical in content to the 1925 version from which I quoted above).

Contrary to J.D.’s assertion that Mullins pointed out that the 1833 New Hampshire Declaration of Faith was “modified” for “Arminians,” Mullins straight-forwardly says that Calvinism had become modified by Arminianism which presumably was the very reason the New Hampshire document became primarily the sole Confession used in the North, East and West where, at the time of Mullins’ writing, strong Calvinism had most of all waned and had been modified by Arminianism. Not a shred of information exists in the Mullins source to warrant Hall’s claim. I didn’t check J.D.’s other sources. But without reading them for myself, I’d have a difficult time accepting his version of them until some type of literary trust could be reestablished. J.D. needs to correct this glaring blunder.

After all, Mullins himself was a 'modified Calvinist', which these days is enough to get your seminary presidential nomination picketed. I do not disagree Mullins was a “modified Calvinist” as apparently were many who confessed the 1925 statement of faith, the very point I continue to argue!  As for the statement about seminary presidents, cute. But J.D.’s cuteness cannot salvage his totally inadequate argumentation thus far.

Lumpkins claims that article IV of this statement [the 1919 statement of faith used by the FMB and approved by the SBC in 1920] leaves out the word 'totally' prior to 'depraved'…  There are a few problems with this hurdle in logic. (1) The word 'depraved' is Calvinist lingo to start with. Sorry - that's our word…  (when was the last time you heard a Synergist use that word in a sermon?). (2) That 'totally' is excluded from this sentence effectively changes nothing - 'depraved' still means "morally corrupt, perverse." When the Calvinist uses the word "totally" it doesn't mean as bad as one could be, but that he is corrupt throughout the entirety of his nature (physically, mentally, spiritually, etc...). Do you think the authors of this document - whatever their intentions - denied that? First, and just who says “depraved” or “depravity” et al is unilaterally a “Calvinist” term? Wm Pope, the famed Wesleyan theologian, has an entire section on “Depravity” under the main heading of “Original Sin” in his seminal work entitled a Compendium of Christian Theology (1879). I just chose a book from my library—Wilbur Fisk—a Methodist writing in 1835. He over and over uses “depravity” and “depraved” to speak of the sinful human condition. To assert as do you “The word 'depraved' is Calvinist lingo to start with” is just plain silly, J.D. Besides, I use this term quite often and have used it in sermons. Please. Nor am I under the impression the confessors denied a certain totality about depravity by just leaving the term “total” out (nor did I state such). What I did note is the conspicuous absence in the 1919 faith statement of the strict Calvinist’s insistence that total depravity equates to total inability, an inability which absolutely requires a spiritual resurrection from the dead (i.e. new birth) prior to the operation of saving faith. Nor can such a reading be imposed upon the 1919 statement without seriously ignoring and/or distorting what the confessors actually state—that regeneration only comes “upon the heart of each individual who exercises personal faith in Jesus Christ.” This remains a flat denial of the regeneration-precedes-faith Calvinist dogma you and others continually maintain contra our Southern Baptist confessional history.

Next, Lumpkins argues that this is evidence that the authors believed in conditional (rather than unconditional) election "or at minimum, conditional salvation," saying "Only on conditions of personal repentance and faith can forgiveness be obtained for salvation leading to everlasting life." Lumpkins has made an argument that no Calvinist on the planet would disagree with. Of course salvation has conditions; chiefly a faith that is demonstrated by repentance. Well, no Calvinists would not agree with what I actually believe the 1919 statement to state. If faith is a condition for salvation but comes before regeneration not after regeneration, then you’re still stewing in the same pot, J.D.—conditions are met by persons who, in your view, are totally unable to meet those conditions. No, I’m afraid you will not agree either with me or the 1919 statement of faith—at least as long as you hold to the regeneration-precedes-faith type of applied redemptive model. And, of course, the only reason you can speak of salvation having conditions is because you believe God sovereignly meets those conditions for the elect. In other words, God endows the elect and the elect only with the gifts of repentance and faith. So, talk of “conditions” all you wish, but those “conditions” are already eternally and irrevocably decided by God’s divine unalterable decree in your framework. You cannot do anything to change that. Period. Hence, “conditions” take on a whole new meaning in your strict Calvinist worldview.

…Lumpkins writes "Nothing is written or implied concerning either eternal election or predestination." And this is where I take issue with Lumpkins' argumentation - that nothing is mentioned concerning election or predestination. Is this an argument from silence? No, frankly it’s not. If one heard the statement “The ball went high as the fence” we have no warrant to assume since it went high as the fence, it probably went over the fence. Other evidence might assist in showing the ball probably went over the fence but the bare statement doesn’t warrant it. Hence, my assertion is a mere observation corresponding to what the 1919 statement said and didn’t say.

The 1919 Foreign Mission Board statement of belief intentionally reads like doctrinal crib notes. The statement could literally have been written out on a paper napkin. That may be your opinion but it actually was used by the FMB and passed by the SBC. So, simply ridiculing it hardly helps your case, J.D.

The fact is, the accompanied explanation of the the [sic] 1919 statement of faith clearly says that it's purpose is to avoid "an exhaustive enumeration" for the sake of a "spiritual union which exists among all believers in Christ" and to "preserve the unity of our denomination." Once again, J.D. doesn’t take the time to read carefully. What he quotes is not an accompanying explanation for the 1919 statement of faith. Instead it is another document entirely added as an addendum to the statement of faith! The purpose of the 1919 statement is clearly indicated from the minutes of the SBC. I summarized it above in the post:

…the statement's purpose was specifically for use by the Foreign Mission Board in order to "facilitate the examination of the frequently large numbers of applicants" and to "satisfy the Board that it is not sending to the field those who will "inject discord" or "promulgate doctrines"  which were "not acceptable to the churches at home which support the work."4 

Instead of looking to the actual purpose stated in the official minutes, J.D. quotes from another document attempting to explain the 1919 statement. Is there any wonder we have so much needless conflict?

The statement was explicitly written to be so shallow and doctrinally accommodating that signers weren't allowed to explain their convictions on any given point, but mandated to "agree or disagree." This is the reason for the vague ambiguities - not because the drafters were ignoring the topics of election or predestination. Indeed, the accompanying plea for denomination unity is longer than the confession itself! I’m at the point of exhaustion here. Hall is creating an artificial interpretation for the 1919 statement from little in the document itself while completely ignoring the stated purpose of those who proposed it.

I encourage all to continue reading our history carefully. As one can see, some-whether intentionally or unintentionally—read our history with jaded eyes. They see and infer what sober, reasonable analysis simply cannot sustain. And, always check the footnotes!

With that, I am…

Peter  

peter lumpkins

All,

In case you didn't desire to wade through the long tome above (I don't blame you), please observe at least one of the concerns I listed above on J.D.'s piece. Here it is as a stand-alone (J.D.'s words are embolden):

Indeed, the 1833 New Hampshire Confession was written by John Newton Brown for the explicit purpose of retaining the Calvinist doctrine of older confessions, yet giving it a more mild flavor so that it could be accepted widely by Baptists of every soteriological stripe.4 Here’s where we learn the importance of carefully checking the footnotes people use. I believe in documentation. I think it’s a shame so much is on the internet without footnotes. Frankly, I want to know where someone got their info (while there are obvious exceptions to that, the exceptions only pronounce the rule more loudly!). Well, J.D. says in his footnote (4) that what he’s just done is quote from J. M. Pendleton’s Church Manual Designed for the Use of Baptist Churches. I happen to have a copy of Pendleton but I see absolutely nothing resembling Hall’s wording (while there are no quotation marks, he could have inadvertently left them out. If so, he also left out the page number as well. Not a problem yet. Sometimes when I document something and even when the page number is supposed to show up, it for one reason or another fails). So now I’ll issue my first challenge to J.D.: produce Pendleton’s quote you said you cited. I want to know where it’s either stated or implied that Brown wrote the New Hampshire Declaration of Faith “for the explicit purpose of retaining the Calvinist doctrine of older confessions, yet giving it a more mild flavor so that it could be accepted widely by Baptists of every soteriological stripe.” That shouldn’t be a hard task to do. I’d like to see the quote before I comment on your assertion.

In Mullins' 1912 book Baptist Beliefs he points out that the New Hampshire Confession of Faith has been modified - but not for Calvinists, but for Arminians.5 It's interesting that Mullins didn't suffer the same ailment that requires Synergists to call themselves 'Traditional Baptists' or 'Biblicists,' but squarely called them Arminians. Truly, the starting point of the New Hampshire Confession of Faith was a Calvinist position, softened to accommodate an Arminian contingent for the sake of denominational unity. Thankfully, J.D. gave us the page numbers in this volume so we could read with him his source. Here is the single assertion Mullins records concerning the NHD and modification:

This Declaration has become almost the sole Confession used in the North, East and West, where Calvinism has become most modified by Arminianism (E. Y. Mullins, Baptist Beliefs. Valley Forge, PA: Judson Press, 1925, 84. For the record, I also checked the 1912 version Hall used. It is identical in content to the 1925 version from which I quoted above).

Contrary to J.D.’s assertion that Mullins pointed out that the 1833 New Hampshire Declaration of Faith was “modified” for “Arminians,” Mullins straight-forwardly says that Calvinism had become modified by Arminianism which presumably was the very reason the New Hampshire document became primarily the sole Confession used in the North, East and West where, at the time of Mullins’ writing, strong Calvinism had most of all waned and had been modified by Arminianism. Not a shred of information exists in the Mullins source to warrant Hall’s claim. I didn’t check J.D.’s other sources. But without reading them for myself, I’d have a difficult time accepting his version of them until some type of literary trust could be reestablished. J.D. needs to correct this glaring blunder.

JD Hall

Once again, I'll respond in my own forum. In the mean time, have a wonderful Lord's Day.

Lydia

"…there is an interesting paragraph split between the 1963 and 2000 revisions… This was clearly a move to remove any possible Calvinistic reading of the 1963 revision. I haven’t the faintest idea where J.D. gets it was “clearly a move to remove any possible Calvinistic reading of the 1963 revision.” Perhaps another reader can figure it out. I do know one thing: Al Mohler would have been a part of the conspiracy to do so since he helped draft (literally) the BFM2K. I also wish J.D. would tell all his Calvinist buddies with whom I’m constantly at odds about to stop insisting the BFM2K teaches regeneration precedes faith. They say it absolutely, clearly teaches it. J.D. laments on the other hand, the BFM2K was clearly a move to remove any possible Calvinistic reading of the 1963 revision. Which Calvinist interpretation should we embrace?"

This is the part I find particularly illuminating as I try to follow the ever confusing Calvinistic debate in the SBC over the BFM.

Calvinism works better when people are not allowed to disagree or dissent from the leaders interpretations. Without that control, then redefining words and interpreting history for us is a must.

Max

Russell Dilday provided an interesting perspective on 1963 vs. 2000 BFM versions in his 2001 article "An Analysis of the Baptist Faith and Message 2000." His list of "troubling factors" essentially prophesied what SBC is experiencing today, including trends "toward Calvinism and mistrust of personal Christian experience" and "shifting Baptist identity from its Anabaptist, free church tradition to a reformed evangelical identity." http://www.baptiststandard.com/2001/5_14/pages/dilday.html

Jeremy Crowder

I agree with several others. Good job as always Peter. Keep up the fight to show the truth despite revisionist efforts about Baptist history.

peter lumpkins

All,

J.D. Hall responded to my comment above. I find few things he wrote worth my time in responding. From my reading, so much of it stands as little more than rhetorical bluster. But if someone here thinks Hall may have raised a legitimate question in the content he posted outside what I mention below, I’ll be glad to respond.

I initially note Hall’s outright dismissal of my concerns over two doubtful sources he cited to bolster his dubious claims about the 1925 BF&M, the New Hampshire Declaration of Faith, and the 1919 statement of faith.

The first source I questioned was Hall’s citation allegedly from J.M. Pendleton’s Church Manual Designed for the Use of Baptist Churches from which Hall indicated that the “1833 New Hampshire Confession [sic] was written by John Newton Brown for the explicit purpose of retaining the Calvinist doctrine of older confessions, yet giving it a more mild flavor so that it could be accepted widely by Baptists of every soteriological stripe.”

According to Hall’s footnote, he attributed this proposition to Brown as “Quoted in J. M. Pendleton…” Consequently, I straight-forwardly requested Hall to “produce Pendleton’s quote you said you cited.”

Instead of giving me a page number, Hall first says,

“I don't know what degrees Mr. Lumpkins has hanging on his wall, so I don't want to judge his academic prowess on this issue. He seems to assume that if a footnote is included it necessitates that a quotation was used in the paragraph's body of work.”

Well, yes, I do assume some type of quotation or at minimum a paraphrase, especially if the citation explicitly says “Quoted in.” If I cite something as “quoted in” you can be darn sure the quotation is there, a paraphrase is there, or I’ve simply made a recording blunder. But, according to Hall, since I hold that a footnote bearing the words “Quoted in” strongly suggests that the proposed citation (whether a direct quotation or even a paraphrase) is, in some form, identifiable in the cited work, there exists a “gulf of misunderstanding the breadth of which can't be crossed by Lumpkins' academic understanding.” Ummm. And all I asked for was a page number. :^).

Hall next says, “There are other reasons to add a footnote, including a paraphrase or restatement of another person's thoughts, facts, information, and data, or supplementary information that is pertinent to the discussion at hand.” I do not disagree. In fact I explicitly gave Hall the benefit of a doubt when I mentioned

“…while there are no quotation marks, he [Hall] could have inadvertently left them out. If so, he also left out the page number as well. Not a problem yet. Sometimes when I document something and even when the page number is supposed to show up, it for one reason or another fails”

Even so, when Hall indicated in footnote citation that what he’d just stated was “quoted in” Pendleton, he fairly well surrendered the “other reasons” option. If the citation is “quoted in” Pendleton’s work, it’s very simple to clear this up: where in Pendleton’s work is the information stated that John Brown wrote the 1833 confession for the “explicit purpose of retaining the Calvinist doctrine of older confessions, yet giving it a more mild flavor so that it could be accepted widely by Baptists of every soteriological stripe”?

Hall fails to offer it. Instead, he offers a quotation by Baptist theologian and historian, James Leo Garrett. Sorry, J.D. Garrett is neither Pendleton nor does Garrett quote Pendleton in suggesting Brown wrote the 1833 confession for the “explicit purpose of retaining the Calvinist doctrine of older confessions, yet giving it a more mild flavor so that it could be accepted widely by Baptists of every soteriological stripe,” a proposition you explicitly attributed to Brown as “quoted in” Pendleton.

So, again, I’ll ask J.D.:

produce Pendleton’s quote you said you cited

Incidentally, the quote from Garrett fails to sustain Hall’s interpretation of the occasion leading to the composition of the New Hampshire Declaration of Faith. Consider Garrett’s quote to which Hall appeals in lieu of producing what he says is in Pendleton (but apparently has no interest in documenting) :

"The New Hampshire Confession (1833), which would later be adopted in the states of the Mid-South and Southwest was the product of a state convention and possibly framed in response to Arminianism of the Free-Will Baptists" (p 151)

Comparing Garrett with what J.D. says is “quoted in” Pendleton, there are numerous differences. First, J.D. earlier says Brown wrote the New Hampshire document. Garrett says it was the “product of a state convention” (Garrett attributes only two articles to Brown. Pendleton did suggest in a footnote Brown penned the entire document. What Pendleton apparently didn’t mention which J.D. attributed to him but will not offer documentation for is why Brown penned it. According to J.D., Pendleton recorded the reason why Brown penned the New Hampshire confession—for the “explicit purpose of retaining the Calvinist doctrine of older confessions, yet giving it a more mild flavor so that it could be accepted widely by Baptists of every soteriological stripe”? Nevertheless, neither Garrett nor Pendleton seem to suggest such an entirely naïve understanding of the formation of the confession).

Second, with the judicious caution of an accomplished scholar, Garrett claims the document was “possibly framed” in response to the Free-Will Baptists (not was framed or even probably framed, but possibly framed). Compare Garrett’s cautious claim with J.D.’s unwavering insistence that Brown decidedly wrote the confession with an “explicit purpose” in mind—to retain “Calvinist doctrine” within the “old confessions” but mildly formulate it in such a way as to “widely” accept “Baptists of every soteriological stripe.” Do we find this in Garrett? No, for the simple reason that no historical evidence has thus far been produced to bolster such a wildly imaginative claim (nor does JD Hall apparently think it’s important to offer the evidence he claims is in Pendleton but avoids giving us any indication as to where in Pendleton it’s supposed to be found) .

Consider: if the New Hampshire Baptists wanted to write a document to be “widely” accepted by Baptists of “every soteriological stripe,” why would they write it in such a way as to exclude Free Will Baptists who categorically denied perseverance of the saints? (cp. NHD, Article XI). On the surface, the confessional notion to include Baptists of every soteriological stripe as the inspirational motive specifically driving the literary composition of the NHD remains fundamentally absurd and historically bankrupt. J.D. just pulled a big white rabbit out of Baptist history’s hat.

Incidentally, Garrett goes on to say on the very same page from which J.D. quoted (in fact, in Garrett’s very same paragraph from which J.D. quoted) the following evaluation of the New Hampshire Declaration of Faith which Hall insists was “written by individuals with very strong Calvinist leanings”. Of The New Hampshire Declaration of Faith, Garrett concludes:

“Although called “moderately Calvinistic,” it could as well be denominated “moderately Arminian” (Baptist Theology: a Four Century Study, p. 151).

If we take J.D.’s description and couple it with the learned Garrett, we have a group of very strong Calvinists who conceivably wrote a moderately Arminian confession. This is the type of nonsensical position one becomes forced to embrace when one screws around with the historical record. 

Now a note on J.D.’s insistence that E.Y. Mullins “points out that the New Hampshire Confession of Faith [sic] has been modified - but not for Calvinists, but for Arminians” when Mullins says absolutely nothing of the kind about the New Hampshire document being modified. Nothing. Zero.

But instead of showing me my supposed error and pointing me to Mullins’ exact words where Mullins indicated the document—any document--was modified and thus correcting my alleged misunderstanding, Hall suggests it may be “a shortcoming of [Lumpkins’] classical education in relation to rules of citation.” (No, I’m not making this up).

Afterward, Hall strangely reminds me that it is not Arminianism that has been modified by Calvinism, but it is Calvinism that has been modified by Arminianism. Excuse me? That’s precisely the point I penned in my response to him to correct his claim that Mullins pointed out the NHD had been modified!  I said, “Mullins straight-forwardly says that Calvinism had become modified by Arminianism” (italics original in my response). But in using my own line, J.D. doesn’t even seem to realize that parroting my statement to him negates his own original statement when he clearly said Mullins pointed out the confession had been modified, something Mullins categorically did not say. Talk about being confusing. Whew!

Moreover, Hall goes on to conclude “Clearly, we are told [presumably by Mullins] that the Calvinist majority had made concessions to the Arminian minority (the majority position does not 'modify' the minority position).” If some brave soul would point out where Mullins clearly tells us anything resembling the “Calvinist majority had made concessions to the Arminian minority” I’ll give up my blogging and go back to driving a truck! ;^)

Surely, there’s obviously a breakdown here in both communication and what we may legitimately infer from other sources and frankly I don’t think it’s me. Hall jumps to wild conclusions that Mullins placed the formation of the New Hampshire Declaration of Faith in what can only be perceived as a religiously political framework—concessions. He doesn’t seem to get it that the reason why Mullins stated the New Hampshire Declaration of Faith became so popular in certain regions was because Calvinism itself had already waned in influence in those regions (hence, Mullins statement that the Declaration was “almost the sole confession” where Calvinism had become most modified); and thus because the regional Calvinists had changed their mind about certain Calvinist doctrines, it would not be surprising that the regional Baptist Calvinists who’d changed views would adopt a confession which more reflected those changed views. And, the confession they chose was the New Hampshire Declaration of Faith, a confession Garrett suggests could be either “moderately Calvinistic” or “moderately Arminian.”

The fact remains that Mullins’ point J.D. erroneously cited has absolutely nothing to contribute about the composition of the New Hampshire Declaration of Faith—what J.D. called being “modified”--but has everything to do with the undeniable waning influence strict Calvinism suffered in the Southern Baptist Convention as early as the last quarter of the 19th century.

I end this exchange by cautioning Southern Baptists to be on guard for subtle re-interpretations of our rich historical record. Reductionist historians and/or pastors exist who’d make Southern Baptist “orthodoxy” nothing more or less than the “doctrines of grace” as interpreted by strict Calvinists. If we don’t know our history, and defend our history, and perpetuate our history, it will be swallowed up in the gargantuan black-hole of the neo-Calvinist resurgence.

With that, I am…

Peter 

JD

Peter,

My work continues to stand while you insist on losing yourself in the proverbial woods, arguing about foot notes and vocabulary and insisting on residing in the periphery. I've presented exactly how the SBC has become LESS Calvinistic over time and not more so. I've demonstrated that the "1-point" Hobbs and his influence was a clear departure from that of "4-point" Mullins. Continue to chase the wind, my friend, and ignore all substance. As evidence is presented to you, your argumentation amounts to that of school child, saying "not so." You've clearly lost on the question at hand, whether or not Baptists have been departing from our truly-traditional, Calvinistic-leaning soteriology in the 20th century. Your notion that we were no less Calvinist in the year 2000 or 1963 than in 1925 is laughably false. I understand your frustration, particularly when forced to keep up appearance for your flock of hens regularly pecking about on this comment thread...but give it up, brother. History doesn't stand with you. You've been corrected on Ergun Caner,and have ignored it. You've been corrected on James White, and have ignored it. I've little hope you'll receive correction on your flawed historiography.

peter lumpkins

All,

One has to continue to have a sense of humor in dealing with some of the internet Calvinists.

For example, above, JD apparently thinks asking for simple documentation concerning one’s claims constitutes “insisting on residing in the periphery.” Think about that for a moment. What does it suggest when one asks for documentation to be told “you’re residing in the periphery”?

Second, our JD suggests I “ignore all substance” and rather make “argumentation” which “amounts to that of school child.” I’ll allow the readership to make a call on that one. I’ve presented the evidences and offered inferences from the evidences as clear as my rhetorical skills allow. I’ll leave it to the reading public whether or not I’m making any sense.

Third, JD clams “You've clearly lost on the question at hand, whether or not Baptists have been departing from our truly-traditional, Calvinistic-leaning soteriology in the 20th century.” I simply do not know how to respond to such grossly ignorant misunderstanding of what I’ve written. That Southern Baptists began moving away from strict Calvinism since (at least) the last quarter of the 19th century up until the Calvinist Resurgence in the post-Conservative Resurgence 1990s has been a common historical trajectory I’ve pursued for six long years on this blog.

Fourth, JD writes, “Your notion that we were no less Calvinist in the year 2000 or 1963 than in 1925 is laughably false.” Well, I wish JD could point to a place—some place...any place--where I share this notion that Southern Baptists were “no less Calvinist in the year 2000 or 1963 than in 1925” so we could all laugh with him. I won’t hold my breath though. He still owes me the Pendleton citation, but since he won’t give me that one I doubt he’ll produce where I’m supposed to have said this about Southern Baptists (hint: everything we may or may not conclude about our confessions may or may not be concluded about our convention. But I don’t think JD appears to get that).

Fifth, JD says “I understand your frustration, particularly when forced to keep up appearance for your flock of hens regularly pecking about on this comment thread...” So, Hall again resorts to insults which, were I a male or female Christian reader/responder on this site, would be highly offended (recall I apologized to Professor Adam Harwood for JD’s round of ceaseless insults he lobbed toward him —yes, JD mentioned the name “Caner” there too perhaps revealing some sort of psychological obsession or other with it, who knows???). I’ve observed through the years when bloggers either have no substantial content to offer or they get really mad, they often devolve into the ceaseless insult mode. JD may be expressing either or both but I will let it go.

On the other hand, I'm compelled to give JD Hall a fair warning (so he can perhaps again accuse me of having my finger on the delete button):

don’t ever, ever show back up on this blog and insult female believers like you’ve just done. Ever. And, ever means ever
You can crow all you like on your own nickel. I frankly don’t care what you do over there. But you will not peddle your misogynistic insults on SBC Tomorrow.

With that, I am…

Peter

Mary

Peter, OT, but I think you and others would be interested in this

http://www.relevantmagazine.com/current/nation/should-christians-smoke-pot-or-not

I wish I had the time to mull this around because as usual Markie Mark misses the mark by a long shot.

eric

You write: “Well, I wish JD could point to a place—some place...any place--where I share this notion that Southern Baptists were “no less Calvinist in the year 2000 or 1963 than in 1925” so we could all laugh with him.

You've seen the TITLE to this post right? I'm afraid JD brought you to your wits end on this one and you've come out on the losing end. That is the presumption of your title.

peter lumpkins

Eric,

I anticipated at least one person would make the mistake of convoluting as did JD the point concerning confessions with my overall point about the convention which is why I went ahead in the comment above and posted a hint, a hint you either ignored and/or with JD fail to observe a crucial didstinction:

(hint: everything we may or may not conclude about our confessions may or may not be concluded about our convention. But I don’t think JD appears to get that).

Nor is it the "presumption of [my] title".

Have a good evening...

With that, I am...
Peter

Louis

I confess to not knowing all of the players sometimes and various dates etc.

My belief is that Mullins was clearly less Calvinistic than Boyce and the other Founders of Southern.

I suspect that by 1925, a large portion of SBC churches would have been influenced heavily by the revivalism of men like Moody, Jones (Sam and then Bob), Sunday and a host of others, many of who would not have been strongly Calvinistic.

But I believe it is accurate to say that by 1963 the SBC was even less Calvinistic than in 1925, and I believe that the 1963 BFM reflects this.

As to how Calvinistic Mullins himself was is anyone's guess. Mullins incorporated AP language in the BFM.

There were other influences in SBC life that affected its confessions that were neither Calvinistic nor Arminian, but were basically neoorthodox.

The concept of missions itself changed from Mullins to Carver, who saw missions as a project not to introduce a personal message of salvation to non-Christian heathen, but to redeem cultures by teaching the people to be better people.

People can say things that are not accurate in promoting their cause, and we should all work toward achieving as much accuracy as can be achieved in these matters.

I think it is accurate to say that the people of the SBC were more Calvinistic in 1925 than 1963, and more in 1900 than 1925, and more in 1880 than 1900.

I do not agree with Dr. Dilday's statement about Anabaptists. The SBC may have some kindred spirit with the Anabaptist, but I think from a standpoint of succession, the Anabaptist's progeny were Mennonites and such, not the SBC.

peter lumpkins

All,

Next time commenters want to post their own personal accolades about bringing either me or another on this site to his or her "wit's end" in an exchange, and consequently proclaiming him or her as coming out on the "losing end," it would be better to at least switch computers from which you type your own toot on your own horn. I'm afraid "eric" above apparently forgot to make those arrangements for the above accolades:

"JD brought you to your wits end on this one and you've come out on the losing end"

What a triple Georgia hoot.:^)

With that, I am...
Peter

peter lumpkins

Louis,

I appreciate your perspective. But your generalities are far too sweeping and seems to ignore the historical record. When you state it is "accurate" to say that the people of the SBC were "more Calvinistic in 1925 than 1963, and more in 1900 than 1925, and more in 1880 than 1900" upon what basis do you make such a sweeping notion?

It seems you base this, in part, upon the three confessions we have under our belt. You claim the 1963 version reflects our less Calvinistic leanings. In what way exactly? Please do not cite the article on the nature of man. We've already dealt with that. What else specifically in the 1963 version reflects a decidedly less Calvinistic understanding than the 1925 BF&M? Surely there's much more in the 1963 version which shows our convention's departure from Calvinism during the 20th c since so many of you keep bringing this up.

Another problem is precisely defining what "more Calvinistic" means. You suggest it is accurate to say that the people of the SBC were "more Calvinistic in 1925 than 1963, and more in 1900 than 1925, and more in 1880 than 1900." If they were more Calvinistic in 1900 than in 1925, what do you make of Z.T. Cody who wrote around the turn of the century

"But it can be very confidently affirmed that there is now no Baptist church that holds or defends the five points of Calvinism. Some of the doctrines are repugnant to our people. Could there be found a minister in our communion who believes in the theory of a limited atonement?"

This was first printed in The Baptist Courier around 1908 or so. The churches to which Cody referred just didn't all of a sudden "become" non-Calvinist. It surely took a while. But from his perspective, not a single 5 Point Calvinist church could be cited anywhere.

The truth is, our history is much more complex than simply suggesting as does Mohler, Ascol, and many Calvinistic pastors that our heritage is exclusively and strongly Calvinistic and only began to wane well into the 20 c. Or, even in the scenario you gave--more Calvinistic in A than B and B than C and C than D. It just didn't work itself out like that, however--at least not from the record I'm reading.

Now what about my question asking were SBs "much more Calvinistic" in 1925 than in the latter 20th century. The short answer is much more Calvinistic, no. Neither the confessional language of the 1925 BF&M nor the precursory statements of faith in 1919 and 1914 bear this out. And, my challenge was to you or another, if I am incorrect, show it. Show where the confessional language employed was "much more Calvinistic" than either the 1963 or 2000. The only article mentioned thus far as a candidate for "much more Calvinistic" was the article on man. Leaving aside the problems of citing this article as "much more Calvinistic" (I've dealt with these at length), one article--even if it could be demonstrated as being "much more Calvinistic"--hardly offers a definitive conclusion that those confessing the Article were "much more Calvinistic". The last time I checked it takes more than the right view of man to constitute strong Calvinism.

For example, the regeneration-precedes faith doctrine is a main staple amongst the new Calvinists today--verily a non-negotiable doctrine. However, the 1925 statement bears marks of what many Calvinists today deem as Arminianism. It explicitly makes regeneration conditioned upon faith first. That's not Calvinism by any stretch--at least the Calvinism taught in our seminaries today and popularly embraced by YRR pastors everywhere. So, even if one would grant the nature of man was "much more Calvinistic" in the 1925 BF&M the nature of the new birth is "much less Calvinistic" than J.P. Boyce.

Hence, it's hard to tell, from my perspective, if the 1925 confession was "more" Calvinistic or not than the latter two confessions (depends on looking at various criteria not just one--the particular placement of "condemnation" in the statement on man). However, the 1925 statement definitively was not, at least as I can tell, "much more" Calvinistic than the latter ones.

With that, I am...
Peter

Louis

Why do you characterize my statement as "sweeping" - "I think it is accurate to say that the people of the SBC were more Calvinistic in 1925 than 1963, and more in 1900 than 1925, and more in 1880 than 1900."

That's about as qualified as it gets.

It's simply a reflection of a trend that occurred over years. You acknowledge that too by pointing to the Cody statement. You may be wanting to push the trend back a decade or two, but that is not significant to me. It is apparently very important to you, inasmuch as you are responding to the "much more Calvinisitc" thesis posited by others.

I am not trying to defend or debunk that statement. But am merely giving opinion that Calvinism in the SBC was strong at first and had a lessening influence over the years.

Cody's statement is interesting, but I would not vest in it some authoritative character. He, like many pastors speaking both to describe and influence, said what he said.

I do believe that Mullins' language lifted from the AP is reflective more of Calvinism than the 1963 BFM.

Also, the History of Southern Seminary clearly reflects shifting faculty opinion over the years. 1880 was one thing, 1900 was another, 1920 another and 1963 another, in line of decreasing Reformed emphasis. I don't really think that is debatable.

Also, I don't believe that the revivalism of those I mentioned and the large crusades in major cities following increased industrialization had an influence on Southern Baptists. Followed by Graham, these all reinforced a good thing in the SBC - attempts at mass evangelism to persuade.

So, if you think that I am some how in the corner of the "much more Calvinistic" statement, please don't.

But I do believe that as a hypothesis that Calvinism's influence in the 20th century was greater in 1925 than 1963. Just as I believe Calvinism's influence in 2012 is greater than in 1963. I expect it to become greater based on current trends, but that is not the focus of this point.

On the BFM 1963, there are differences. Just re-read it. One can find concepts mentioned in 1925, too, but the parlance is different.

The biggest sign in the 1963 statement that it is less Calvinistic is this line, "The criterion by which the Bible is to be interpreted is Jesus Christ."

I have never understood that line. And I have never had someone who really liked that statement really be able to explain it, without having to re-write it.

But one thing's for sure. That would have never been in the 1925 BFM, and those attending the Convention that approved the 1925 BFM would never have voted for it.

Louis

I intended to say that the revivalism DID have an influence on the SBC.

Thanks.

peter lumpkins

Louis,

if you think your statement that A was more than B and B more than C, etc to be “about as qualified as it gets” be my guest. We obviously have different understanding about what “qualified” means.

Second, I didn’t ask you if Cody's statement was “interesting”; nor did I imply “vesting” some kind of “authoritative character” in the statement for heaven’s sake. I asked a genuine question as to what you made of his words. Instead you simply dismiss Cody's words with a glib “He, like many pastors speaking both to describe and influence, said what he said.” Nor was Cody writing simply as a pastor. Besides being pastor of one of the most prominent southern churches in the south, Cody served as VP of the Home Missions Board, and Editor of The Courier, a “theologian of the first rank” according to the Encyclopedia of Southern Baptists. Yet you dismiss him as having no more credibility as just another guy who “said what he said.”

Third, you earlier said “I suspect that by 1925, a large portion of SBC churches would have been influenced heavily by the revivalism of men… many of who would not have been strongly Calvinistic.” You now say, “I don't believe that the revivalism of those I mentioned and the large crusades in major cities following increased industrialization had an influence on Southern Baptists.” I’m confused. [DULY NOTED. I POSTED THIS NOT SEEING YOUR SUBSEQUENT CORRECTION.]

Fourth, you state “So, if you think that I am some how in the corner of the "much more Calvinistic" statement, please don't.” Well, I’m not sure I suggested that but even if I did your qualified statement that “people of the SBC were more Calvinistic in 1925 than 1963, and more in 1900 than 1925, and more in 1880 than 1900” seems to imply a “much more” than before type of trajectory I’m afraid. Personally, given my own research,  I think the “much more" than before can only work well somewhere around or during the last couple decades of the 19th century. But that’s neither here nor there now.

Fifth, you state you “do believe that as a hypothesis that Calvinism's influence in the 20th century was greater in 1925 than 1963.” Yes and I think I asked for some type of evidential affirmation for this assertion but the only thing I see is an analogous assertion—“Just as I believe Calvinism's influence in 2012 is greater than in 1963” which hardly counts as the verifiable evidence I solicited.

Sixth, on the differences between the 1963 and the 1925, you first assure me there are differences and then counsel me to just re-read it. I suppose it would be self-evident to me that the “parlance” would be “different.” Louis, this is sheer patronization. If you either don’t want to exchange or have time to exchange, then please just say so. Sometimes I comment and don’t have the time to offer fuller commentary or more detailed sources. No one can fault that. But to counsel someone to just re-read it is both strange and perhaps a little regrettable coming from you. I assure you, I have read and re-read the 1963 statement. It is the statement my church presently embraces for crying out loud (I did not lead them to embrace it and may succeed in leading them to not embrace it. Time will tell).

Now you do mention one 1963 statement that’s supposed to be less Calvinistic, the "biggest sign" you state that 1963 was definitively "less Calvinistic" than the 1925 statement --

"The criterion by which the Bible is to be interpreted is Jesus Christ."

In response, you claim neither that you’ve personally understood the line nor that you’ve ever met anyone who liked the line to be able to sufficiently explain the line. Granted. How, then, do you conclude the line is definitively less Calvinistic? If you do not know what it means, and cannot find anyone who knows what it means even when they like how it’s put, then perhaps it might be more Calvinistic or at least as Calvinistic as anything we might find in the 1925 statement.

In addition, you remain sure that the statement would never have been in the 1925 BFM. How do you know? Presumably, because even though you confess you don’t know what it means, it nevertheless must mean something less Calvinistic than the 1925 statement (I think it’s called arguing in a circle but don’t quote me on that ;^).

The truth is, I don’t know why Calvinists would not adore the statement. Consider it again:

"The criterion by which the Bible is to be interpreted is Jesus Christ."

Now consider these words by Graeme Goldsworthy, the hermeneutical guru of all the Reformed “gospel-centered” guys:

“The fact that Jesus is the one mediator between God and people has enormous hermeneutical implications (1 Tim.2:5)”

“If Jesus is the one mediator between God and man, then he must mediate the meaning of the whole of God’s communication to us”

“Hence, the ultimate interpretation of the meaning of everything is found only in Christ. This includes every text of the Bible” (Gospel-Centered Hermeneutics, pp. 62-63, italics added)


By the way, Goldsworthy is thoroughly Reformed. Why he could not have written that the “criterion by which the Bible is to be interpreted is Jesus Christ” I have not a clue. Perhaps you can inform us.

One thing is for sure: it remains highly improbable that the 1963 confessional statement about Christ being the criterion to judge Scriptures is connected to Calvinism in any significant way in the Southern Baptist Convention's confessional language. And, since this remains the "biggest sign" in your mind demonstrating the 1963 statement is less Calvinistic than the 1925 confession, perhaps this might sway you to reconsider your conclusion (wink, wink) 

Thanks for the exchange, Louis. Always a pleasure.

With that, I am…

Peter

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