Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Is Biblical Baptism "Easy Believism"?

In recent discussions on other blogs with those who believe in Calvinism, I have a noticed a curious perspective that continues to raise its head. The curious perspective to which I refer is that one has to answer a set of questions to the satisfaction of a pastor before one can be baptized. Even David Platt alluded to this in his sermon during the SBC Pastor's Conference when he chastised our churces for "easy believism." 

In Holy Scripture, do we see anyone requiring a sinner to go through a questionnaire before he or she was baptized? Absolutely not. The model we do see in Scripture is preaching, response,, baptism,
then teaching. The Great Commission is very clear about how to make disciples.

18 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Amen. Matthew 28:18-20

Let's pay very close attention to what Jesus said. Jesus said for us to go and make disciples of all the nations. I hope we are all clear on that. Now watch this. Immediately following his imperative for us to make discples, He tells us how to make disciples. The first thing we are told to do is baptize and then teach. Baptize and teach. Baptize and teach. This is the biblical formula for making disciples: baptize and teach. Notice it is not teach and baptize. It is baptize and teach.

This formula is exactly what we see happening in the New Testament. First, there is preaching, then people respond, they are baptized and then they are taught. We see these principles in how John the Baptist conducted his ministry (Matt. 3:1-6, John 3:23). We also see these principles in Jesus and His apostles (John 3:22). In the book of Acts, we see Peter preaching and more than 3000 people were baptized that day (Acts 2:36-41). I don't imagine the apostles interrogated 3000 people on whether or not they completely understood the intricacies of the atonement. The Scripture says, "those who gladly received his word were baptized" (Acts 2:41a).

One final biblical example of this biblical formula is found in Philip's encounter with the Ethiopian eunuch (Acts 8:26-39). The Holy Spirit directed Philip to a divine encounter with the man from Ethiopia. When Philip preached Jesus to him, the Ethiopian asked, "What hinders me from being baptized?" Now notice what Philip did not do. He did not take the Ethiopian through a theological quiz in order to make sure he knew what he was doing. He did not tell the Ethiopian he had to take a baptism class or a new member class before baptism. What did Philip say? He said, "If you believe with all your heart, you may." The Ethiopian replied with a confession in Christ and was baptized immediately.

Are you hindering the lost from being baptized? Are you requiring the lost to jump through theological hoops before they can be baptized? Are you reversing the biblical formula for making disciples and insisting on in-depth teaching prior to baptism? If you are, then I submit that you are not practicing the biblical principle of making disciples.

Throughout the New Testament, we see the discipleship process as preaching, response, baptism, and then teaching. Any other approach to making disciples is unbiblical and is man's requirement, not biblical teaching.

When someone gladly receives the word of God, baptize them and then begin to teach them how live a life that is pleasing to Christ. Do not hinder the work of the Holy Spirit by implementing artificial obstacles to someone coming to Christ. If this is easy believism in the eyes of men, then so be it. I will choose to follow the biblical model. 

Comments are open on this post.

Friday, June 15, 2012

A Response To Calvinists' Calls For Unity

Now that Traditional Baptists have gotten together to organize responses to the insurgency of Calvinism into Traditional Baptist churches, they are attempting to portray themselves as taking a "high road" and appealing for unity. Where have I heard this tactic before? Oh yeah, that's the same tactic that Moderate Baptists tried to stem the tide of the Conservative Resurgence.

I appreciate their calls for unity. Unfortunately as long as one group is trying to "reform" Traditional SBC churches, there can be no unity. Traditional Baptists have not compromised the unity; we have revealed an already existing fracure in unity..

When Calvinists make a conscious decision not to go into Traditional SBC churches and try to reform them to Calvinism, then there can be unity. The ball is in their court.

Comments are allowed on this post.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Opposition To Calvinism

Bob Hadley has a great blog, entitled, SBC Issues." I especially recommend his recent post entitled "Objections to Calvinism Simplified for the Average Person." Give it a read. Bob expresses the opinion of the majority of Southern Baptists in this post.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Finding Our Voice

Former SBC President, Dr. Jerry Vines, has written an important blog post that everyone should read. You can find it here. I am so glad that Traditional Southern Baptists are finding our voice and solidifying our message in regard to what the majority of Southern Baptists believe. Thank you, Dr. Vines!

Friday, June 8, 2012

No Way Out?

Over at SBC Today, I put the body of this post in the form of a question to Dr. Jerry Vines, whom I greatly admire as a wonderful man of God and with whom I completely afree on the issue of soteriology. I am posting my remarks here in order to solicit your ideas, opinions, etc., on whether or not Traditonal Baptists and Calvinists can truly cooperate in the SBC.

The differences between Traditional Baptist soteriology and Calvinist soteriology are stark. I don't think I need to discuss those differences in this thread as there are many blog posts that outline said differences.

Our doctrine of salvation will determine how we do missions at home and abroad. Our doctrine of salvation will also determine what kind of churches we will plant with funds provided by faithful baptists in the pew. In essence, our doctrine of salvation is the soul of our convention and has a huge impact on how we serve our Lord.

Foundational doctrinal differences will not allow us to fund Methodist or Presbyterian church plants, so how can we resolve to fund churches which teach doctrine with which the majority of Southern Baptists do not agree?

I understand that tertiary doctrinal issues should be allowed for differences of opinion, however, in my humble opinion, our doctrine of salvation is not a tertiary issue; it is a foundational, principle doctrine of Southern Baptists.

Therefore, I would like to hear your thoughts on how you think we can ever resolve this issue of our differences on the doctrine of salvation. Personally, I do not see any path of resolution because Traditional Baptists will not compromise their position on soteriology nor will Calvinists. What do you think?

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Why Traditional Baptists Are Not Semi-Pelagians

It's really been interesting to watch the response to the recently published statement of Traditional Baptist belief from our Calvinist brethren. If you read the comment section of the post (more than 700 comments), you will see that Traditional Baptists are being accused of heresy and even blasphemy. The particular heresy that we are being accused of by our Calvinist brethren is Semi-Pelagianism.

If one reads the definition of Semi-Pelagian in the 2nd edition of "The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church": Semi-Pelagians "maintained that the first steps towards the Christian life were ordinarily taken by the human will and that Grace supervened only later."

Now the portion of the statement of Traditional Baptist belief that is accused of agreeing with the Semi-Pelagian heresy is Article 2. Here is Article 2 in its entirety.

Article Two: The Sinfulness of Man

We affirm that, because of the fall of Adam, every person inherits a nature and environment inclined toward sin and that every person who is capable of moral action will sin. Each person’s sin alone brings the wrath of a holy God, broken fellowship with Him, ever-worsening selfishness and destructiveness, death, and condemnation to an eternity in hell.

We deny that Adam’s sin resulted in the incapacitation of any person’s free will or rendered any person guilty before he has personally sinned. While no sinner is remotely capable of achieving salvation through his own effort, we deny that any sinner is saved apart from a free response to the Holy Spirit’s drawing through the Gospel.

Genesis 3:15-24; 6:5; Deuteronomy 1:39; Isaiah 6:5, 7:15-16;53:6; Jeremiah 17:5,9, 31:29-30; Ezekiel 18:19-20; Romans 1:18-32; 3:9-18, 5:12, 6:23; 7:9; Matthew 7:21-23; 1 Corinthians 1:18-25; 6:9-10;15:22; 2 Corinthians 5:10; Hebrews 9:27-28; Revelation 20:11-15
There is nothing is this statement that even hints that we believe that one comes to Christ without the initiation of the Holy Spirit. The fact that we believe that each person has a free will and either makes a choice for Christ or not, does not constitute Semi-Pelagianism. The Article specifically states that we deny that anyone can be saved apart from a free response to the Holy Spirit’s drawing through the Gospel. This statement affirms the opposite of Semi-Pelagianism. We do not initiate salvation; the Holy Spirit is the initiator.

So in regard to the statement of Traditional Baptist beliefs affirming Semi-Pelagianism, such an accusation is incorrect.

P.S. Typically I do not allow comments on my blog because my schedule does not allow me adequate time to moderate such comments. I wish moderation was not necessary but due to the vitriol which some commenters use, moderation is necessary. Having said that, I am opening comments on this post for those who wish to honestly, rationally, and calmly discuss my thoughts on this issue. If you do choose to comment, please be patient with me as I have very little time to moderate the comments. I will do my best to get your comment up as soon as possible. May God richly bless you.

A Statement on the Beliefs of Traditional Baptists

With the current attempt by Southern Baptist Calvinists to takeover the Southern Baptist Convention, several traditional baptist pastors, including myself, have been working on identifying the differentating factors between Southern Baptist Calvinists (Reformed) and traditional Southern Baptists.

A previous document which attempts to identify some differentating factors is my document entitled, "Differences Between Reformed Southern Baptists and Traditional Southern Baptist." Another document has been released on SBC Today's blog entitled, "A Statement of the Traditional Southern Baptist Understanding of God’s Plan of Salvation."

I encourage you to read this document and be informed about the what traditional Southern Baptists believe as opposed to Southern Baptist Calvinists.