An Update On The SBC Soteriology Controversy

I’ve posted once before on this topic, which can be found here.

Now that the “Traditional View” of Southern Baptists on Salvation has been published far and wide, there are some other voices joining the conversation, and most of them are playing a lot nicer than I did. Ligon Duncan has put in his two cents, as has Dr. R. Albert Mohler. But what is most interesting to me is that Roger Olson has gotten into the mix as well.

I want you to see and image taken from my wall on Facebook that helps shed some light on why this is an issue:

Dr. Olson isn’t know for being a friend of Calvinist soteriology, so when even he steps up and says that there’s a problem…much less that the problem is Semi-Pelagianism (!), that, my friends and readers, is really bad.

I’m sure some of you are wondering what, precisely, Semi-Pelagianism might be. For those who want a very full definition, you should follow the link and read what A.A. Hodge had to say about it in his work Outlines of Theology. I don’t completely agree with all of his formulations, but overall, he’s pretty much on target.

Here’s my definition of Semi-Pelagianism, taken from the Rhodia I used for notes during my Ancient Church History class:

Semi-Pelagianism (advocated by Cassian at Marseilles, 5th Century) did not deny original sin and its effects upon the human soul and will. But, it taught that God and man cooperate to achieve man’s salvation. This cooperation is not by human effort as in keeping the law, but rather in the ability of a person to make a free will choice. The Semi-Pelagian teaches that man can make the first move toward God by seeking God out of his own free will and that man can cooperate with God’s grace even to the keeping of his faith through human effort. This would mean that God responds to the initial effort of person and that God’s grace is not absolutely necessary to maintain faith.

The problem is that this is no longer grace. Grace is the completely unmerited and freely given favor of God upon the sinner. But, if man is the one who first seeks God, then God is responding to the good effort of seeking him. This would mean that God is offering a proper response to the initial effort of man. This is not grace, but what is due the person who chooses to believe in God apart from God’s initial effort.

Semi-Pelagianism was condemned as heresy by the Council of Orange in A.D. 529.

The most disturbing thing about this statement’s Semi-pelagianism is that the men who wrote the statement adamantly deny even being Arminian in their theology, much less Semi-pelagian. What does this say about these so-called Southern Baptist “theologians” that they don’t even recognize that they’ve embraced heresy!

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2 thoughts on “An Update On The SBC Soteriology Controversy

    • What shocked me the most in reading their statement was that these men would, I think, roundly condemn semi-Pelagiansim; yet they clearly couldn’t recognize the semi-Pelagian nature of their own document! It just serves to prove my point that these men cannot rightly be called “theologians” in any meaningful sense of the word.

      The irony, at least to me, is thick! The very men who so often cannot accurately define hyper-Calvinism find themselves guilty of unintentionally lapsing into semi-Pelagianism…

      It would be funny if it weren’t so sad!

"I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naïve." (Romans 16:17-18) Please read "The Comments Policy."

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