Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The majority of Southern Baptists are semi-Pelagian...???


Today is the first day in over a week that I have actually had 'free' time to spend browsing the internet, attempting to 'catch-up' (s0 t0 speak) on events and topics that interest me. The following caught my eye:


The post begins with the following:

The following is a suggested statement of what Southern Baptists believe about the doctrine of salvation. Compiled by a number of pastors, professors, and leaders in response to the growing debate over Calvinism in Southern Baptist life, it begins with a rationale for such a statement at this time, followed by ten articles of affirmation and denial. The goal was to create a statement that would accurately reflect the beliefs of the majority of Southern Baptists, who are not Calvinists.

Given what I know about the recent 'war' that has been taking place between Calvinists and non-Calvinists in the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) denomination (the largest Protestant denomination in the USA), I KNEW that this newly published document would add gasoline to the flames that were already burning. Like weeds after a fresh rainfall in the spring, charges of "semi-Pelagianism" immediately began to appear on blogs/websites in great numbers. The following Google search is representative:


Having dealt with the issue of semi-Pelagianism at length here at AF (see posts under THIS LINK), I immediately recognized a serious, fundamental flaw that has skewed the attempts to portray the SBC document as semi-Pelagian—a failure to understand what semi-Pelagian actually meant in its original historical context.

The following is a re-posting of material from one of the threads linked to above:

SEMI-PELAGIANISM. The doctrines on human nature upheld in the 4th and 5th cents. by a group of theologians who, while not denying the necessity of *Grace for salvation, maintained that the first steps towards the Christian life were ordinarily taken by the human will and Grace supervened only later. (The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, 2nd ed. 1974 - 1985 reprint, p. 1258.)


SEMI-PELAGIANISM. Doctrines, upheld during the period from 427 to 529, that rejected the extreme views of Pelagius and of Augustine in regards to the priority of divine grace and human will in the initial work of salvation...

Cassian [one of the early leaders of semi-Pelagianism] taught that though a sickness is inherited through Adam's sin, human free will has not been entirely obliterated. Divine grace is indispensable for salvation, but does not necessarily need to precede a free human choice, because, despite the weakness of human volition, the will takes the initiative toward God [apart from supernatural grace]. (Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, 1984, p. 1000.)


Notice that divine grace IS NOT necessary in order for one to accept the Gospel—this is THE distinguishing tenant of semi-Pelagianism—if one denies/rejects this cardinal doctrine of semi-Pelagianism, then one is not a semi-Pelagian.

Now, a careful reading of the SBC document will yield the fact that "THE distinguishing tenant of semi-Pelagianism" is denied. IMO, one must ignore, and/or twist elements of the document to lend any credence to the charge of semi-Pelagianism.

So, in ending, for those so inclined to review the numerous attacks (and defenses) of this newly published SBC document, I would like to urge you to keep in mind what semi-Pelgianism actually taught in its original context...


Grace and peace,

David

8 comments:

Nick said...

David,

You might be interested in this post:
http://is.gd/jahWcK
It goes over a more fundamental problem with Protestants throwing around the word semi-pelagian.

Also, you might be interested in another post:
http://is.gd/QZZLr7
This deals with the term Logizomai and documents massive ignorance and dishonesty within Protestant scholarship.

David Waltz said...

Hi Nick,

Thanks much for the links; heading over there now...


Grace and peace,

David

Lvka said...

Link.

Nick said...

Hello David,

Any thoughts on the Imputation Article?

David Waltz said...

Hi Nick,

You asked: "Any thoughts on the Imputation Article?"

Very comprehensive, especially part IV.

A question: why no mention of N.T. Wright? (At least I did not see any in my reading.)


Grace and peace,

David

Nick said...

Hello David,

I did not quote NT Wright, but mostly because I did not want Protestants to accuse me of quoting "biased" sources. A lot of Protestants shut off when they see NTWrights name.

I have read his main work but don't recall him going over logizomai.

David Waltz said...

Hello again Nick,

In your last response, your wrote:

==I did not quote NT Wright, but mostly because I did not want Protestants to accuse me of quoting "biased" sources. A lot of Protestants shut off when they see NTWrights name.==

Me: Understood—sad state of affairs, but true...

==I have read his main work but don't recall him going over logizomai.==

Me: Note the following from his 2009 tome, Justification - God's Plan & Paul's Vision:

>>...it is fascinating to see two essentially Reformed thinkers both insisting, against John Piper and others, that the "imputed righteousness" of Christ (or of God—we shall explore this confusion below) is on the one hand a legitimate thing to talk about from a systematic theological standpoint, but is on the other hand not actually found stated as such anywhere in Paul. Michael Bird is a younger scholar who might be discounted, when he insists on this, by the Reformed "old guard." But listen to this: "The phrase [the imputation of Christ's righteousness] is not in Paul but its meaning is." That is J. I. Packer, cautiously making the distinction between what Paul said and did not say and what Reformed theology, rightly in his view, can say in summarizing him. The question presses, however: if "imputed righteousness" is so utterly central, so nerve-janglingly vital, so standing-and-falling-church important as John Piper makes out, isn't strange that Paul never actually came straight out and said it?>> (Page 46)

As you know, impute, imputation, imputed, are English translation of the various forms of λογίζομαι.


Grace and peace,

David

Nick said...

Hello David,

Wright has spoken very negatively of imputation in general, such as his famous comment in What did Paul Really Say, where Wright says something to the effect "The Righteousness of God is not some gas that floats across the courtroom and covers over the defendant." Basically, the definition of "Righteousness of God" that Wright uses, imputation is all but ruled out.