Recently, a group of Southern Baptists published a document titled “A Statement of the Traditional Baptist Understanding of God’s Plan of Salvation.” The statement, which has been signed by several Southern Baptist leaders, is intended to offer an alternative to a more Calvinistic understanding of salvation. Supporters of the statement believe their views represent the best of the Southern Baptist tradition and accurately reflect what most contemporary Southern Baptists believe about the doctrines of grace. Though these claims are up for debate, we appreciate an effort by thoughtful, committed Southern Baptists to clarify some of the most oft-debated doctrines among us.
We are already aware of several Southern Baptists who have offered critiques or defenses of the statement. No doubt more will be written in the coming days. It is not our intent to wade deeply into this discussion, which we feel will potentially distract Southern Baptists from our primary task of proclaiming Christ and planting churches among the unreached and underserved peoples of North America and the wider world. Nevertheless, we do share some concerns about the statement and its helpfulness at this moment in Southern Baptist history. We would refer you to Baptist 21, where Jon Akin has articulated many of the same concerns we would voice about this document.
It is our conviction that Southern Baptists who affirm the evangelical understanding of salvation summarized in the Baptist Faith and Message (2000) can and should lay aside their differences on secondary and tertiary matters for the sake of the Great Commission. Our confessional consensus is broad enough to include most any Southern Baptist who isn’t a hyper-Calvinist or a Wesleyan Arminian. Since we believe a tiny number of Southern Baptists affirm these two aberrant positions, we remain convinced that almost all of us can and should unite for the sake of the gospel. This is our vision for the future of the SBC when it comes to the Calvinism debate and many other similar debates. We would invite you to join us in this Great Commission vision for our convention of churches.