David Westerfield

Gospel. Culture. Technology. Music.

Tag: semi-pelagianism


Turns Out “A Statement of Traditional Southern Baptist Understanding of God’s Plan of Salvation” Isn’t so Traditional After All

A recent formal doctrinal statement on the nature of salvation (or in technical theological terms, soteriology, or the study of salvation) signed on to by none other than Paige Patterson, president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (as one example), amongst others, like Emir Caner, is making quite the stir, even amongst classical Arminians (click to read). The statement was meant to counter what they view as the “threat” of Calvinism spreading in the SBC. At best, it is theological and historical sloppiness. At worst, it is theological and historical revisionism and an open slide toward heresy as it relates to the nature of man’s will as a result of the transmission of the sin of Adam to mankind.

The authors and signers claim they are speaking for the traditional view of the SBC on the issue of salvation. However, as Tom Ascol from Founders Ministries points out, this is hardly the case. Hopefully this will bring to light some issues that have been brewing for quite some time. They have drawn a line in the sand and either need to repent or split in my opinion. Yes, it’s that serious. These issues go beyond Calvinism versus Arminianism into the issues of Original Sin and the nature of the will, pre/post-fall, no less. In addition, I’ve included Tom Ascol’s response. Read on:

First of all, here’s the original doctrinal statement in question

Part 1 – Tom Ascol (Beginning of Response)

Part 2 – Tom Ascol

Part 3 – Tom Ascol

Could W.A. Criswell have signed this statement? – Tom Ascol

Part 4 – Tom Ascol

Part 5 – Tom Ascol

Part 6 – Tom Ascol

Part 7 – Tom Ascol

Part 8 – Tom Ascol

Part 9 – Tom Ascol

Part 10 – Tom Ascol

Part 11 – Tom Ascol

Part 12 – Tom Ascol

Part 13 – Tom Ascol

Semi-Pelagian/Pelagian Point in Question: The Recent SBC Statement on Salvation: A Point of Concern – John Aloisi

The Traditional Southern Baptist View of Salvation? – James White (MP3)

And finally, for a historical, theological background on what the early church concluded pertaining to not only Pelagianism but Semi-Pelagianism, you just have to read the Canons of Orange from 529 AD.

Justified By Faith or Through Faith?

UPDATE: I’ve reconsidered some of the things I originally wrote in this entry and come to understand that Scripture itself, apart from people in general, speaks of both being saved “through” faith and “by” faith and meaning the same thing. The important distinction I wanted to make here was that faith itself a gift granted by God, not something we conjure up out of our dead, sinful hearts. We’re saved by God through faith, a faith that He gives. And at the same time, we’re saved by that faith, for without it, we’re lost.


The distinction between these two ideas may seem like a minute point to contest in the world of theology. But each understanding has dramatic implications for how we view our justification before God. If on the one hand we view ourselves as being justified by faith, we will see it as the ground of our justification, where our doing and willing is what saves us. From talking to many believers, it seems this is how many of us view our justification or standing before God. Yet if on the other hand we view ourselves as having been justified through faith, then we see that our justification itself, and the faith required to obtain it, all rests on Christ’s work alone.

Now of course, many people simply say we are saved by faith and the mean the same thing as through faith. I’m not here to contest that. I’m speaking here of the theological difference of these two words, because each changes our perspective on it once pondered, I believe.

If our faith is the ground of our justification, then we can often wonder if we’re believing correctly or coming to Christ in the right way (which I have often had to dismantle as a concept for a few friends who doubted they had actually believed). But if we see that our justification is rooted purely upon the work of Christ to justify us by the power of His blood alone, then we see that faith is God’s instrument to bring us to Himself; that is to say that faith is a gift of God, not something we work up from within our sinful, unregenerate human nature. Regeneration precedes faith, or the new birth of the Holy Spirit spoken of in John 3 causes, or comes before, or immediately gives rise to faith, not vice-versa.

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