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Ron Hale

I enjoyed reading about Dr. Kerfoot, thanks for the interesting read.

Do you know where we could find a copy [online] of Dr. Kerfoot's revised "Abstracts"?

Since Dr. Kerfoot was with the Home Mission Board toward the end of his life, I'm wondering if he had influence on the Corresponding Secretary of our Sunday School Board, J.M. Frost. Dr. Frost wrote [1900] the book: Baptist, Why and Why Not. He shares a Declaration of Faith at the end of the book and defines "Election".

"IX. Of God's Purpose of Grace

We believe the Election is the eternal purpose of God, according to which he graciously regenerates, sanctifies, and saves sinners; that being consistent with the free agency of man, it comprehends all the means in connection with the end; that it is a most glorious display of God's sovereign goodness, being infinitely free, wise, holy, and unchangeable; that it utterly excludes boasting, and promotes humility, love, prayer, praise, trust in God, and active imitation of his free mercy; that it encourages the use of means in the highest degree; that it may be ascertained by its effects in all who believe the gospel; that it is the foundation of Christian assurance; and that to ascertain it with regard to ourselves demands and deserves the utmost diligence."

Peter ... it indeed looks like Southern Baptists were "moving on"!


peter lumpkins


Thanks. Unless I am mistaken, the version available today of Boyce's work is the version Founders offers and the one edited by Kerfoot.But "editing' does not mean changing in this particular case. I don't think Kerfoot changed Boyce's theological assertions so far as I know.

What Kerfoot did go on to do was work diligently with E.Y. Mullins who did put in place an almost non-existent Calvinism in his systematic theology which was used well into the 20th century as the theological textbook for SB seminaries.

Kerfoot also worked closely with Z.T. Cody another vocal non-Calvinist who studied under Boyce. Cody wrote an essay at the turn of the century entitled "Are Baptists Calvinists?" and answered with an unequivocal "NO!" going so far as to suggest that he knew of no church which could be called "Calvinistic" and stated that many of the Calvinistic doctrines are "repugnant to our people."

Hence, well before the 19th century ended, the Calvinism of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary was in big trouble. Unfortunatley, we have some who'd like to "take us back to the 50s"...the 1850s!

With that, I am...

Tim Rogers

Brother Peter,

Was the Abstracts changed at SBTS during Dr. Kerfoot's tenure? Also, do you see anyplace where Dr. Kerfoot influenced Dr. Mullins away from the Philadelphia confession?


peter lumpkins


So far as I know, I don't think the AP were ever changed. The reality is, the all thru the 19th century Calvinism kept taking one beating after another. From the Anti-missions controversy in the early 1800's to F. Wayland in the mid-century who spoke of Calvinism's waning influence especially on Limited Atonement to A.Fuller's impact when it finally reached us here, strict Calvinism scratched and clawed for survival. Boyce's own students (e'g. Cody) could not swallow the rigid Princeton Calvinism.

Founders generally and T. Nettles particularly credit Mullins for the demise of Calvinism. Such cannot stand under historical scrutiny. While it's true Mullins did put the squeeze on rigid Calvinism; however Calvinism was on the way out before Mullins was in at SBTS.

Also, I'm not so sure 19th century Baptists were as confessionally obliged as we may sometime like to think. The fact is, they cared no more for church confessions than the average church cares for theirs today, and in some cases decidedly less. Hence, changing the AP was probably not even a passing thought. Remember, Mullins didn't want to do a BFM in 1925. He said, "we don't need one" and in doing so, he was saying exactly what they said in 1845--"we don't need a confession."

I understand where we are today. I realize we must have one now. On the other hand, the Separate Baptist aversion to confessions is undoubtedly in my blood. Anyways...I better hush...

With that, I am...

peter lumpkins

Here's a good little taste of Calvinistic compromise as early as the turning of the 18th century!

In 1801, the Elkhorn and South Kentucky Associations (Separate Baptists and Regular (Calvinistic) Baptists) unanimously agreed to unite on the following plan (paraphrased):

1. Bible is infallible rule of faith and practice
2. One Triune God
3. Human depravity
4. Salvation by Christ alone
5. saints will finally persevere
6. Believer's baptism by immersion and prerequiste to the Lord's Supper
7. Heaven and Hell are eternal
8. duty to love one another
9. the preaching (that) Christ tasted death for every man, shall be no bar to communion

Along with a couple of other "associational" matters, that's it. Is there any Calvinism in this document of 1801? Not one thin line. It's all "generic" except the last item in bold which is decidedly non-Calvinist in nature!

This was the beginning of the 19th century. Hence, my asserting strict Calvinism scratched and clawed its way through the 19th century, hanging on until Kerfoot, Cody, Mullins and others nailed the coffin shut, so far as it being a "dominating" influence. Sandy Creek Separate Baptists simply swallowed up Charleston.

Now, we have some who want ot take us back to Charleston. Hopefully, it is only a passing fad.

With that, I am...

Wade Burleson

Actually, Peter, it seems that #9 in the resolution above disproves your point that Calvinism was not the "dominating" influence in 1801, but "scratched and clawed its way through the 19th Century." Read #9 again.

9. the preaching (that) Christ tasted death for every man, shall be no bar to communion.

Only the majority can "bar" the minority from communion.

If #9 had read:

9. the preaching (that) Christ tasted death for only the elect shall be no bar to communion

...then I would see the rational logic and support for your assertion.

peter lumpkins


Unfortunately, Wade it's you who should read the article again, along with my statement about Calvinism's "dominating" influence.

You write, "...#9...disproves your point that Calvinism was not the "dominating" influence in 1801..." Now is that my point?

Nope. I wrote, "Here's a good little taste of Calvinistic compromise as early as the turning of the 18th century...strict Calvinism scratched and clawed its way through the 19th century, hanging on until Kerfoot, Cody, Mullins and others nailed the coffin shut, so far as it being a "dominating" influence.

A) Calvinism had strong influence throughout the 19th century

B) But, they had to desperately fight ("scratched and clawed") to retain their influence

C) As far back as 1801, however, strict Calvinism found it necessary to "compromise" their strict Calvinism if they were to survive. Hence, the "Union Declaration" which is a specific, explicit concession to milder forms of Calvinism, a diluted Calvinism if you will (to some historians even calling it 'Arminianism')

D) A decade or so later, Anti-missions broadsided strict Calvinism again...

E) In mid-19th c, F. Wayland spoke of the waning influence of strict Calvinism

F) along comes Kerfoot, Cody, Mullins & others at the century's end who "nailed the coffin shut, so far as it being a "dominating" influence."

Hence, Wade, unhappily for you, I did not assert as you suggest, "Calvinism was not the "dominating" influence in 1801." What I do think the historical record definitively indicates is, strict Calvinism took a massive beating the entire 19th century ultimately being swallowed up in milder forms of Calvinistic-nonCalvinistic Baptist expressions.

With that, I am...

Eric Opsahl

"they are regenerated by the Holy Spirit, without whose influence none would ever repent and believe,"
In that the Spirit is God, it would follow that those who God doesnt "influence" will not be saved.
Why would God influence some to eternal life and influence others to eternal death. Surly God could influence all.

Would you say that God Influences every man, without exception? Is that what the next statement means when he writes: "as it is the duty of every one immediately to do" ?


Steve Lemke

Excellent article, Peter. You taught me some things I didn' know. Would you understand "chosen in CHRIST 'before the foundation of the world,' by Him who sees 'the end from the beginning'" to be an affirmation of election/predestination of those whose faith response God foresees with His exhaustive foreknowledge?

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