I am happy for a post Roger Olson wrote yesterday (http://www.patheos.com/blogs/rogereolson/2012/06/thoughts-about-%E2%80%9Ca-statement-of-the-traditional-southern-baptist-understanding-of-gods-plan-of-salvation-%E2%80%9D/), expressing his concern about semi-Pelagianism in a recent statement about salvation, formulated by non-Calvinist Southern Baptists.
Article 2 of “A Statement of the Traditional Southern Baptist Understanding of God’s Plan of Salvation,” states:
“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”
Roger Olson writes:
“The problem with this Southern Baptist statement is its neglect of emphasis on the necessity of the prevenience of supernatural grace for the exercise of a good will toward God (including acceptance of the gospel by faith). If the authors believe in that cardinal biblical truth, they need to spell it out more clearly. And they need to delete the sentence that denies the incapacitation of free will due to Adam’s sin.
Leaving the statement as it stands, without a clear affirmation of the bondage of the will to sin apart from supernatural grace, inevitably hands the Calvinists ammunition to use against non-Calvinist Baptists.
It doesn’t matter what “most Baptists” believe or what is the “traditional Southern Baptist understanding.” For a long time I’ve been stating that most American Christians, including most Baptists, are semi-Pelagian, not Arminian and not merely non-Calvinist.”
I think that Roger has done us Calvinists a service with his persistent distinction between classic Arminianism and the semi-Pelagianism that so many non-Calvinist evangelicals believe. I understand his distress about Calvinist portrayals of Arminianism as semi-Pelagian, and I welcome his alliance in opposing genuine semi-Pelagianism.
For some years, I have been stating my own concern about instances of the doctrine of sin which is enunciated in the statement quoted above. In my view, it is problematic, especially when allied with the common Baptist doctrine of the “age of accountability,” because of the way in which it portrays the final population of heaven as largely made up of people who are there without having needed Christ’s death to get there. Having never been sinners, they need no salvation.