7 Southern Baptists on 7 Salvation Questions (Question 4)

Click here for the introduction to this series. The question is: What have Southern Baptist systematic theologians taught about the doctrine of salvation?

See the previous posts for the answers to Questions 1–3.

                                        

Question 4: Does the theologian understand God to love all people and want all people to be saved?

 

John L. Dagg (1794–1884)

No. Dagg writes the following about the will of God:

  1. God wills whatever He does.
  2. God does whatever He wills to do.
  3. Whatever God does is according to a purpose that is eternal, unchangeable, perfectly free, and infinitely wise.[1]

Also, Dagg raises the following objection: “If God purposed the final condemnation of the wicked, he made them on purpose to damn them.” In reply, Dagg describes God’s final judgment of the wicked and the righteous and writes, “Is there anything in the transactions of that day which is unworthy of God? Is there anything which the holy inhabitants of heaven, throughout their immortal existence, can ever remember with disapprobation? Not so.” Also, “The sentence pronounced will be, in the judgment of God, for just the sufficient cause.”[2] What Dagg has done is presuppose that God selects particular individuals for salvation and advise his readers to imagine questioning at the final judgment this action which Dagg has already attributed to God. But it is not God who is in question; rather, it is the actions being attributed to God by theologians such as Dagg.

Also, Dagg mentions God’s love under the attribute of God’s goodness. Dagg does not write that God loves all people, either in the section on the attributes of God or in the sections on Christ and His offices. Dagg focuses on the duty of man to love God, not on the idea that God loves man.

 

James P. Boyce (1827–88)

In his chapter titled “Reprobation,” Boyce provides four proofs to support his viewpoint. The first proof is, “The decree to reject some.” Boyce clarifies, “This is involved in the doctrine of election. The choice of some and not of the whole, involves the non-election and thus the rejection of others.”[3] Even so, Boyce affirms “the sincerity of God” and quotes 1 Tim 2:4, which notes God “willeth that all men should be saved.”[4] Elsewhere, Boyce affirms a distinction between “the secret and the revealed will of God.”[5] Perhaps this is how Boyce reconciled God willing that all men be saved without electing all men to be saved.

 

E. Y. Mullins (1860–1928)

Yes. Mullins writes, “Christ died for all. God is willing to receive all who will come. God knows that some will not accept. Indeed, he knows that all will refuse unless by his special grace some are led to believe.”[6] Also, “It is clear that God desires the salvation of all, although he does not efficaciously decree the salvation of all.”[7]

 

W. T. Conner (1877–1952)

Yes. He writes, “We can safely say that God does all that he can consistently with his own nature, the nature of man, and the moral order of the world to save all men.”[8]

Also, “Does God’s election of one man to salvation imply that he passes over the one not elected simply because he does not desire his salvation? No; he desires the salvation of all. But it should be remembered that God does not save the sinner, because of the sinner’s perverse and stubborn unbelief. Hence it follows that the reason God purposes not to save the sinner was because of the sinner’s foreknown unbelief.”[9]

 

Dale Moody (1915–92)

Moody does not explicitly address this question, but he rejects particular points of Calvinism throughout his work. For example, he rejects infant regeneration via the covenant and regeneration prior to faith.[10]

 

James Leo Garrett Jr (b. 1925)

Garrett affirms that God “desires that all sinners should repent (2 Peter 3:9).”[11] Also, he affirms a general view of the atonement.[12] And Garrett’s section on the church includes a chapter titled “Mission of the Church(es).” He details the universalist elements, nations attracted to the faith of Israel, and Israel’s identifiable mission to non-Israelites in the Old Testament. He also notes the teachings on mission in the New Testament.[13]

 

Kenneth Keathley (b. 1958)  

Yes. Keathley teaches “five corollaries” resulting from an affirmation of the “congruence of divine predestination and human freedom.” The second corollary is that “in a real and genuine way, God desires the salvation of all humanity.” He continues, “The passages of Scripture that assert God’s universal salvific will can be affirmed at face value without detracting from God’s sovereignty (e.g., Ezek. 18:23; John 3:16; 1 Tim. 2:4; 2 Pet. 3:9).”[14]

 

Tomorrow, I will attempt to answer Question 5 by quoting from each systematic theology.

Click here for a free PDF of the first four chapters of a new book I co-edited, Anyone Can Be Saved: A Defense of “Traditional” Southern Baptist Soteriology. This book sample is provided with the permission of Wipf and Stock Publishers. The book can be purchased here.

 

[1]John L. Dagg, Manual of Theology (Harrisonburg, VA: Gano Books, 1990), 102.

[2]Dagg, 107, 109.

[3]James P. Boyce, Abstract of Systematic Theology (Cape Coral, FL: Founders Press, 2006), 358.

[4]Boyce, 372.

[5]Boyce, 112.

[6]E. Y. Mullins, The Christian Religion in its Doctrinal Expression (np: 1917; reprinted Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock, 2000), 354.

[7]Mullins, 366.

[8]W. T. Conner, Christian Doctrine (Nashville: Broadman Press, 1937), 164.

[9]Conner, 164–65.

[10]Dale Moody, The Word of Truth: A Summary of Christian Doctrine Based on Biblical Revelation (Eerdmans: Grand Rapids, 1981), 322.

[11]James Leo Garrett Jr., Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1990), 1:242.

[12]James Leo Garrett Jr., Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1995), 2:65.

[13]Garrett, 2:482–95.

[14]Kenneth Keathley, “The Work of God: Salvation,” in A Theology for the Church, ed. Daniel L. Akin (Nashville: B&H Academic, 2007), 722. Emphasis his.

7 Southern Baptists on 7 Salvation Questions (Question 3)

Click here for the introduction to this series. The question is: What have Southern Baptist systematic theologians taught about the doctrine of salvation?

See the previous posts for the answers to Questions 1 and 2.

 

Question 3: What is the theologian’s definition(s) of election?

 

John L. Dagg (1794–1884)

“All who will finally be saved, were chosen to salvation by God the Father, before the foundation of the world, and given to Jesus Christ in the covenant of grace.” Dagg declares:

  • “God has an elect or chosen people.”
  • “God’s people are chosen to salvation.”
  • “(E)lection of grace is from eternity.”
  • “(E)lection is of grace, and not of works.”
  • “(E)lection is not on the ground of foreseen faith or obedience.”
  • “(E)lection is according to the foreknowledge of God.”
  • “Election is ascribed to God the Father, redemption to God the Son, and sanctification to God the Holy Spirit.”
  • “Those who are not included in the election of grace, are called in Scripture, ‘the rest,’ and ‘vessels of wrath.’”[1]

 

James P. Boyce (1827–88)

Election as: “an act of God … of individuals … made through the mere good pleasure of God … eternal … to salvation.”[2]

 

E. Y. Mullins (1860–1928)

Mullins writes, “God elects men to respond freely.”[3]

 

W. T. Conner (1877–1952)

He writes, “Election does not mean that God instituted a general plan of salvation and decreed that whosoever would should be saved and, therefore, the man who wills to be saved is elected in that he brings himself within the scope of God’s plan. It is true that God has decreed that whosoever will shall be saved; but election is something more specific and personal than that. It means that God has decreed to bring certain ones, upon whom his heart has been eternally set, who are the objects of his eternal love, to faith in Jesus as Saviour.”[4] Conner then sums up the doctrine in two statements: 1. All saving sufficiency is of God. 2. God saves in pursuance of an eternal purpose.[5]

Reversing the typical order, Conner’s chapter on election (“God’s purpose in salvation”) is before his chapter on the work of Christ. Interestingly, Conner argues for unconditional election to salvation but argues that people must choose to follow Christ.

 

Dale Moody (1915–92)

Moody writes of the predestination of Christ and in Christ. Moody explains, “Christ is the Predestined One in His death and resurrection.” Also, “Ephesians 1:3–5 makes it clear that Christ is the Chosen One and we are chosen in Christ. We are in Christ by faith, but it is only in Christ that we are chosen or elected. God’s grace must be accepted by human faith. Election is a two-sided dialogue, not a one-sided monologue by either God or man.”[6]

 

James Leo Garrett Jr (b. 1925)

Election is “God’s choice of human beings to eternal life.”[7] He asks, “Is it possible that Augustine and later Calvin, with the help of many others, contributed to a hyper-individualization of this doctrine that was hardly warranted by Romans 9–11, Eph 1:3–14, and 1 Peter 2:9–10? Is it not true that the major emphasis in both testaments falls upon an elect people—Israel (Old Testament) and disciples or church (New Testament)? Ought, then, the doctrine of election now be given a more corporate or collective interpretation than has characterized most of its past formulations? Is election, therefore, properly to be seen as the ‘bridge’ doctrine between the Christian life and the church?”[8]

 

Kenneth Keathley (b. 1958)

Keathley writes, “Election is the gracious decision of God by which he chooses certain ones to be the recipients of salvation.” Also, “The doctrine of election addresses the question of the ultimate cause of a persons’ choice to trust Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.”[9] After surveying unconditional and conditional election, Keathley advocates for a third view, known as concurrence or congruence. He writes, “The concurrent position contends the Bible teaches both that God sovereignly and unconditionally chooses the elect for salvation and that each individual person freely decides to accept or reject Jesus Christ as Savior.”[10]

 

Tomorrow, I will attempt to answer Question 4 by quoting from each systematic theology.

Click here for a free PDF of the first four chapters of a new book I co-edited, Anyone Can Be Saved: A Defense of “Traditional” Southern Baptist Soteriology. This book sample is provided with the permission of Wipf and Stock Publishers. The book can be purchased here.

 

[1]John L. Dagg, Manual of Theology (Harrisonburg, VA: Gano Books, 1990), 309–13.

[2]James P. Boyce, Abstract of Systematic Theology (Cape Coral, FL: Founders Press, 2006), 348–54. Rather than one concise definition, Boyce provides describes election in a series of sentences spread throughout several pages.

[3]E. Y. Mullins, The Christian Religion in its Doctrinal Expression (np: 1917; reprinted Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock, 2000), 347.

[4]W. T. Conner, Christian Doctrine (Nashville: Broadman Press, 1937), 155.

[5]Conner, 156–57.

[6]Dale Moody, The Word of Truth: A Summary of Christian Doctrine Based on Biblical Revelation (Eerdmans: Grand Rapids, 1981), 341, 346.

[7]James Leo Garrett Jr., Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1995), 2:443.

[8]Garrett, 2:453–54. Emphasis in the original.

[9]Kenneth Keathley, “The Work of God: Salvation,” in A Theology for the Church, ed. Daniel L. Akin (Nashville: B&H Academic, 2007), 707.

[10]Keathley, 718.

7 Southern Baptists on 7 Salvation Questions (Question 2)

Click here for the introduction to this series. The question is: What have Southern Baptist systematic theologians taught about the doctrine of salvation?

See the previous post for the answers to Question 1.

 

Question 2: Does the theologian advocate decretal theology, also known as covenant theology?

 

John L. Dagg (1794–1884)

Yes. Dagg presents “divine grace” as the “covenant of grace.” Also, he explains, “Writers on theology have employed the term Decrees, to denote the purpose of God.”[1] Also, “The three persons co-operate in man’s salvation according to an eternal covenant.”[2] Dagg also writes, “All who will finally be saved, were chosen to salvation by God the Father, before the foundation of the world, and given to Jesus Christ in the covenant of grace.”[3]

 

James P. Boyce (1827–88)

Yes. Boyce writes on “The Decrees of God,” in which he explains: “The decrees of God may be defined as that just, wise, and holy purpose of plan by which eternally, and within himself, he determines all things whatsoever that come to pass.”[4] Also, his chapters on election and reprobation demonstrate a distinct bent toward decretal theology, probably passed on by his Princeton professor, Charles Hodge.

 

E. Y. Mullins (1860–1928)

No. Perhaps in reply to the view of James Boyce, his predecessor at Southern Seminary, E. Y. Mullins writes this regarding election: “In approaching the subject we should avoid certain errors in the manner of conceiving God’s sovereignty. Chief among these has been the habit of making the sovereignty of God depend upon his ‘mere will’ or ‘good pleasure.’ … Some forms of the older Calvinism will serve as examples of the danger we are considering. … One form asserted that God foreordained some men to eternal life for the exhibition of his love, and others to eternal death for the exhibition of his justice, and that he created men with these ends in view.”[5]

 

W. T. Conner (1877–1952)

Unclear. Conner repeats many of the concepts found in decretal theology, such as two calls (general and efficacious)[6] and advocates the doctrine of predestination. He writes, for example, “God does not save all men. He does save some men. Hence God did not purpose to save all, but did purpose to save some.” Also, “Any plan by which some are saved and others are lost necessitates that God should choose to save some and not others.” Conner’s emphasis, however, on human ability to resist God’s grace is not consistent with decretal theology. Consider, for example, this assertion: “We were saved when we ceased to resist and yielded to the God of all grace.”[7] Also, “He (God) has provided salvation for every man in Christ. He gives him the invitation. He brings influences to bear to bring him into the way of life. All this is grace. If in spite of these things the sinner will not come, he has nobody to blame but himself. As long as he is unwilling to receive the grace that God offers him, he cannot complain because God does not give him more grace. (new paragraph in the original) The sinner’s inability is an inability only so long as the sinner refuses to recognize his dependence on God. If he wants to come, he can. The difficulty is on his part, not God’s.”[8]

 

Dale Moody (1915–92)

No. Moody writes, “The called are those who have heard and believed, but there is no suggestion that some who heard were predestined in a predetermined way to unbelief.”[9]

 

James Leo Garrett Jr (b. 1925)

Garrett’s work tends to describe rather than advocate Christian views. Even so, his discussion of eternal decrees includes this series of questions: “Can we as finite, mortal beings correctly order and arrange the eternal decrees of God as they are indeed in the mind and purpose of God? Is such an effort not in itself a presumptuous attempt? Does the doctrine of decrees extend beyond the clear teachings of the Bible as to the will, purpose, and plan of God, thus posing conclusions that are not specifically provided within the biblical canon?”[10]

 

Kenneth Keathley (b. 1958)

No. Keathley notes three commendable aspects of decretal theology but levels four “weighty criticisms.” Between each statement below, Keathley provides further explanation and support for each claim. Only the thesis sentence of each claim is quoted below.

In its favor:

“First, decretal theology intends to present an entirely gracious salvation.”

“Second, decretal theology strives to uphold God’s sovereignty.”

“Third, the goal of decretal theology is to magnify God’s glory.”[11]

Criticisms:

“First, decretal theology is highly speculative about issues on which the Bible gives little or no information.”

“A second criticism is that decretal theology is a logical system that ultimately fails logically.”

“The third problem is corollary to the previous one: decretal theology leaves the moral problems of predestination unresolved.”

“A fourth criticism brought against decretal theology is that it reduces Christ to the mere instrument by which the decrees are accomplished.”[12]

 

Tomorrow, I will attempt to answer Question 3 by quoting from each systematic theology.

Click here for a free PDF of the first four chapters of a new book I co-edited, Anyone Can Be Saved: A Defense of “Traditional” Southern Baptist Soteriology. This book sample is provided with the permission of Wipf and Stock Publishers. The book can be purchased here.

[1]John L. Dagg, Manual of Theology (Harrisonburg, VA: Gano Books, 1990), 103–4. Dagg raises and answers three objections to the eternal decrees, also known as the purposes of God, of the will of purposes (pp. 104–10).

[2]Dagg, 253–57. Quotation from p. 253.

[3]Dagg, 309.

[4]James P. Boyce, Abstract of Systematic Theology (Cape Coral, FL: Founders Press, 2006), 115.

[5]E. Y. Mullins, The Christian Religion in its Doctrinal Expression (np: 1917; reprinted Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock, 2000), 338–39.

[6]W. T. Conner, Christian Doctrine (Nashville: Broadman Press, 1937), 157.

[7]Conner, 161–62.

[8]Conner, 164.

[9]Dale Moody, The Word of Truth: A Summary of Christian Doctrine Based on Biblical Revelation (Eerdmans: Grand Rapids, 1981), 314.

[10]James Leo Garrett Jr., Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1995), 2:447–48.

[11]Kenneth Keathley, “The Work of God: Salvation,” in A Theology for the Church, ed. Daniel L. Akin (Nashville: B&H Academic, 2007), 712–13.

[12]Keathley, 713–15.

7 Southern Baptists on 7 Salvation Questions (Question 1)

Click here for the introduction to this series. The question is: What have Southern Baptist systematic theologians taught about the doctrine of salvation?

Question 1: Does the theologian identify who initiates salvation, God or man?

 

John L. Dagg (1794–1884)

The language “initiate” was not found in his systematic treatment of salvation. However, Dagg argues that all people are “justly condemned, totally depraved, and in ourselves, perfectly helpless.” Also, “Salvation is entirely of God.”[1]

 

James P. Boyce (1827–88)

The language “initiate” was not found in his systematic treatment of salvation. However, Boyce argues that “election is an act of God.”[2] Also, “The Scripture attributes the birth to the will of God exclusively, thus showing that in some aspect it is not to be regarded as due to the reception of the truth.”[3]

 

E. Y. Mullins (1860–1928)

Yes. The subtitle of Mullins’ chapter on election is “God’s Initiative in Salvation.” He writes, “The motive, the method, and the end of human salvation all arose out of the nature of the infinitely holy God. The initiative was with God, not with man.”[4]

 

W. T. Conner (1877–1952)

Yes. In a section titled “All saving efficacy is of God,” Conner writes, “Men do not turn from sin to God on their own initiative. God must move them to do so if ever they turn.” Also, “In the Bible, salvation is everywhere attributed to God.” And, “He sought us before we sought him. Our seeking was in response to his seeking. Our love was in response to his love. He took the initiative in our salvation.”[5]

 

Dale Moody (1915–92)

Moody does not use the word initiate, but he quotes favorably James Denney, who uses the term. Moody quotes Denney as follows: “When reconciliation is spoken of in St. Paul, the subject is always God, and the object is always man. The work of reconciling is one in which the initiative is taken by God, and the cost is borne by Him; men are reconciled to God in the passive, or allow themselves to be reconciled or receive the reconciliation.”[6]

 

James Leo Garrett Jr (b. 1925)

Garrett writes, “The new birth / new creation stems from the initiative of God or the agency of the Holy Spirit.”[7] Also, Garrett asks this related question: “Is conversion primarily or exclusively the work of God, primarily or exclusively the work of human beings, or in some sense both?” Then, he summarizes three answers: conversion is essentially God’s work (Jonathan Edwards, John Gill); conversion is the human side of regeneration (A. H. Strong, E. Y. Mullins); conversion is the work of God and man (James Boyce, Donald Bloesch).[8]

 

Kenneth Keathley (b. 1958)

“Salvation originates within God’s sovereign choice of Jesus Christ to be the Savior of the world, and we are saved because of God’s plan to redeem a people for himself.”[9]

 

Tomorrow, I will attempt to answer Question 2 by quoting from each systematic theology.

 

Click here for a free PDF of the first four chapters of a new book I co-edited, Anyone Can Be Saved: A Defense of “Traditional” Southern Baptist Soteriology. This book sample is provided with the permission of Wipf and Stock Publishers. The book can be purchased here.

 

[1]John L. Dagg, Manual of Theology (Harrisonburg, VA: Gano Books, 1990), 259.

[2]James P. Boyce, Abstract of Systematic Theology (Cape Coral, FL: Founders Press, 2006), 348.

[3]Boyce, Abstract, 375–76.

[4]E. Y. Mullins, The Christian Religion in its Doctrinal Expression (np: 1917; reprinted Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock, 2000), 338.

[5]W. T. Conner, Christian Doctrine (Nashville: Broadman Press, 1937), 156–57, 162.

[6]James Denney, The Death of Christ, 2nd ed. (New York: Armstrong, 1903), 143f., in Dale Moody, The Word of Truth: A Summary of Christian Doctrine Based on Biblical Revelation (Eerdmans: Grand Rapids, 1981), 329.

[7]James Leo Garrett, Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1995), 2:284.

[8]Garrett, Systematic Theology, 2:259.

[9]Kenneth Keathley, “The Work of God: Salvation,” in A Theology for the Church, ed. Daniel L. Akin (Nashville: B&H Academic, 2007), 705. Note: The quotations and page numbers are from the first edition (2007). The page numbers are different in the second edition. I am unaware of any changes in content in Keathley’s chapter in the revised edition (2014).

7 Southern Baptists on 7 Salvation Questions (Introduction)

What have Southern Baptist systematic theologians taught about the doctrine of salvation? In this study, I develop and answer seven questions concerning the doctrine of salvation from the systematic theologies written by John L. Dagg, J. P. Boyce, E. Y. Mullins, W. T. Conner, James Leo Garrett Jr., Dale Moody, and Ken Keathley.[1]

Why focus on the Southern Baptist tradition? First, it is my own tradition as well as the largest Protestant group in the United States. Those reasons provide personal motivation and academic justification. Second, it is a theological tradition whose doctrines are currently disputed among some historians and church leaders. Third, identifying one’s theological tradition is the first step toward identifying the presuppositions and preconceptions one brings to the Bible. Without such critical self-reflection, readers will simply find in their reading of the Bible the theological formulation which they already affirm. The goal of this study is to describe the various views on the doctrine of salvation found among Southern Baptist systematic theologians.

Four qualifications are in order. First, the views of earlier Baptists will not be considered. Although it would be instructive to survey the views of leaders from the Anabaptist and English Separatist movements, doing so would expand the study into a much larger treatment.[2] Second, other works of systematic theology have been and are currently used in Southern Baptist colleges and seminaries as well as by pastors. Some of those are fine works of theology, such as those written by Millard Erickson, Wayne Grudem, and Norm Geisler. Although useful volumes, they are not included in this study because they were not written by Southern Baptists. Third, some outstanding Southern Baptist theologians did not appear in the study, either because their views on salvation have not yet been published in a work of systematic theology (such as Malcolm Yarnell and Albert Mohler) or their book was not used widely (such as Fisher Humphreys and Herschel Hobbs).[3] Fourth, teachings in a systematic theology textbook do not necessarily reflect the views advocated by all the people in the pews. To accurately articulate a group’s views, it would be necessary to draw upon various confessions and sermons from prominent pastors and evangelists within the tradition. With those qualifications in mind, we will proceed with the study.

The systematic theologies of the following Southern Baptists will be explored:

John L. Dagg (1794–1884) was a Baptist leader who wrote in the areas of theology, ethics, and apologetics. He would serve as president of Mercer University, and his Manual of Theology was the first systematic theology written by a Baptist in the United States. Incredibly, “Dagg was virtually blind, mute and lame at the time of his greatest productivity.”[4]

His students referred to him as “Jim Peter.” James Petigru Boyce (1827–88) was converted while a student at Brown University, the first American college founded by Baptists, and was mentored by Francis Wayland, an organizer of the Triennial Convention. He trained at Princeton Theological Seminary under Charles Hodge and other Presbyterian theologians. In 1859, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (SBTS) was founded, and Boyce became its first president and served faithfully until his death in 1888.[5]

E. Y. Mullins (1860–1928) pastored churches in Kentucky, Maryland, and Massachusetts before serving as President of SBTS (1899–1928), President of the Baptist World Alliance (1923–28), and President of the Southern Baptist Convention (1921–24). Mullins led the convention to adopt its first statement of faith, the Baptist Faith and Message (1925). He maintained peace when three issues polarized the convention: Calvinism, Landmarkism, and the Fundamentalist-Modernist Controversy.[6]

W. T. Conner (1877–1952) was raised in the poverty of the post-Civil War South. He pastored in Texas and was educated at Baylor University (BA), Baylor Theological Seminary / Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (SWBTS) (ThB), Rochester Theological Seminary (BD), and SBTS (ThD and PhD). His mentors and teachers included B. H. Carroll, Walter Rauschenbusch, A. H. Strong, and E. Y. Mullins. He pastored churches near Fort Worth throughout his systematic teaching at SWBTS from 1910 to 1949.[7]

Dale Moody (1915–92) was educated at Baylor University (BA) and SBTS (ThM, ThD). He also studied under Paul Tillich (1944–45) and Karl Barth, Emil Brunner, Oscar Cullmann, and Walter Eichrodt (summer 1948). In 1966, he completed a DPhil at Oxford University. Moody taught theology at SBTS from 1945 until 1983. Moody’s most controversial theological viewpoint was his defense of apostasy.[8]

James Leo Garrett Jr (b. 1925) was educated at Baylor University (BA), SWBTS (BD), Princeton Theological Seminary (ThM), SWBTS (ThD), and Harvard University (PhD). After pastoring three churches during his time at SWBTS, Garrett began teaching at the school in 1949. Ten years later, he accepted an offer to teach at SBTS. In 1973, he accepted a teaching position at Baylor University.[9] In 1979, he returned to SWBTS where he continued to teach classes and write books into his 80s. He no longer teaches classes, but he maintains the title of Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Theology.

Kenneth Keathley (b. 1958) was educated at Tennessee University (BA), Southeast Missouri State University (MNS), and Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS) (MDiv, PhD). He serves as Professor of Theology, Director of the L. Russ Bush Center for Faith and Culture, and Jesse Hendley Chair of Biblical Theology at SEBTS. Before accepting a faculty position at SEBTS in 2006, he served on the faculty of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary for two years and New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary for six years. During his ministry, he served as interim pastor at churches in South Carolina, Missouri, Louisiana, and North Carolina.[10]

The following questions about the doctrine of salvation will be answered from each systematic theology:

  1. Does the theologian identify who initiates salvation, God or man?
  2. Does the theologian advocate decretal theology, also known as covenant theology?
  3. What is the theologian’s definition(s) of election?
  4. Does the theologian understand God to love all people and want all people to be saved?
  5. Does the theologian understand God’s grace to be resistible, irresistible, or something else?
  6. What is the theologian’s definition of salvation?
  7. Does this definition of salvation require individual and explicit repentance and faith in Jesus Christ?

Tomorrow, I will attempt to answer Question 1 by quoting from each systematic theology.

Click here for a free PDF of the first four chapters of a new book I co-edited, Anyone Can Be Saved: A Defense of “Traditional” Southern Baptist Soteriology. This book sample is provided with the permission of Wipf and Stock Publishers. The book can be purchased here.

[1]John L. Dagg, Manual of Theology (1857); James Boyce, Abstract of Systematic Theology (1887); E. Y. Mullins, The Christian Religion in Its Doctrinal Expression (1917); W. T. Conner, Christian Doctrine (1937); Dale Moody, The Word of Truth (1981); James Leo Garrett, Systematic Theology (1990; 1995); Kenneth Keathley, “The Work of God: Salvation,” in A Theology for the Church, ed. Daniel L. Akin (Nashville: B&H Academic, 2007; rev. ed. 2014).

[2]For a comprehensive survey of these earlier Baptists, see James Leo Garrett Jr, Baptist Theology: A Four-Century Study (Macon, GA: Mercer University, 2009).

[3]Herschel Hobbs, for example, will not be represented in the lineup of systematic theologians because his doctrinal work Fundamentals of Our Faith (Nashville: Broadman, 1960) is brief and written for a general audience. It could be argued, however, that due to his influence on the 1963 revision of the Baptist Faith and Message as well as his decades of writing Sunday School literature for the Baptist Sunday School Board, he may have been the most influential Southern Baptist theologian in the second half of the twentieth century.

[4]Tom Nettles, “Preface to the New Edition of Manual of Theology,” in John L. Dagg, Manual of Theology (Harrisonburg, VA: Gano, 1990), n.p.

[5]Timothy George, “James Petigru Boyce,” in Theologians of the Baptist Tradition, ed. George and Dockery (Nashville: B&H, 2001), 73–89.

[6]See Fisher Humphreys, “Edgar Young Mullins,” in Theologians of the Baptist Tradition, 181–201.

[7]See James Leo Garrett Jr, “Walter Thomas Conner,” in Theologians of the Baptist Tradition, 202–215.

[8]Garrett, Baptist Theology, 377–87.

[9]See Paul Basden, “James Leo Garrett Jr.,” in Theologians of the Baptist Tradition, 297–316.

[10]“Ken Keathley CV,” available at http://apps.sebts.edu/FacultyUploads/Ken%20Keathley%20CV.pdf.

Mary Webb: God’s Power is Perfected in Weakness

the-baptist-storyIn recent days, I have been reading a narrative history titled The Baptist Story: From English Sect to Global Movement (B&H Academic, 2015). Written by three church history professors, Anthony Chute (California Baptist University), Nathan Finn (Union University), and Michael Haykin (Southern Seminary), this volume has introduced me to several intriguing figures and movements. This brief story on page 135 illustrates how God’s power is perfected in weakness (2 Cor 12:9):

The Boston Female Society for Missionary Purposes was open to both Baptist and Congregationalist women who pledged their “mites” (so named after the widow’s offering in Mark 12:42 KJV) to support missionaries. Not only was this the first women’s missionary society formed in America; it demonstrated that physical limitations did not preclude one from having a global impact. Mary Webb had been paralyzed since age five but served as secretary-treasurer of the BFMS for half a century. From her home, sitting in her wheelchair, Webb wrote thousands of letters raising awareness and financial support for missions.

Webb’s story inspires me. If you have not already read The Baptist Story, I encourage you to add it to your 2017 reading list.

ETS 2016 Paper in Progress: Incarnation, Change, & Trinity

ETSDuring this week of Fall Break at NOBTS, I have been working on my paper that was accepted for next month’s meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society. The title is: “Did the Incarnation Introduce Change among the Persons of the Trinity?” (Click here to read the proposal.) I was encouraged to find support for my thesis in the writings of theologians as diverse as Wolfhart Pannenberg and Wayne Grudem, among others. Consider these extended quotations:

“The passion of Jesus Christ is not an event which concerned only the human nature that the divine Logos assumed, as though it did not affect in any way the eternal placidity of the trinitarian life of God. . . . It is incorrect, of course, to speak point-blank of the death of God on the cross, as has been done since the time of Hegel. We can say only of the Son of God that he was ‘crucified, dead, and buried.’ To be dogmatically correct, indeed, we have to say that the Son of God, though he suffered and died himself, did so according to his human nature. . . . Nevertheless, we have to say that Jesus was affected by suffering and death on the cross in person, i.e., in the person of the eternal Son. . . . Nor can the Father be thought of as unaffected by the passion of his Son if it is true that God is love. . . . To this extent we may speak of the Father’s sharing of the suffering of the Son, his sym-pathy with the passion.” – Wolfhart Pannenberg, Systematic Theology, trans. Geoffrey W. Bromiley (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1991), 1:314. The word “sym-pathy” is broken in the original.

“in his human nature, Jesus died (Luke 23:46; 1 Cor. 15:3). But with respect to his divine nature, he did not die, but was able to raise himself from the dead. . . . Nevertheless, by virtue of union with Jesus’ human nature, his divine nature somehow tasted something of what it was like to go through death. The person of Christ experienced death. . . . Therefore, even though Jesus’ divine nature did not actually die, Jesus went through the whole experience of death as a whole person, and both human and divine natures somehow shared in that experience.” – Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1994), 560. Emphasis his.

I look forward to completing this paper in order to present it and receive feedback to sharpen my thinking on the intersecting points of incarnation, change, and Trinity.

Some of the works which have informed my writing on this question include:

Augustine, On the Trinity.

Cyril of Alexandria, On the Unity of Christ.

The Canons of the Councils of Ephesus (431) and Constantinople (553)

Crisp, Oliver D., and Fred Sanders, ed. Christology, Ancient & Modern: Explorations in Constructive Dogmatics. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2013.

Crisp, Oliver D. The Word Enfleshed: Exploring the Person and Work of Christ. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2016.

Erickson, Millard J. Who’s Tampering with the Trinity? An Assessment of the Subordination Debate. Grand Rapids: Kregel, 2009.

Fiddes, Paul. The Creative Suffering of God. Oxford: Clarendon, 1988.

Ganssle, Gregory E., ed. Four Views of God and Time. Downers Grove: IVP, 2001.

Gavrilyuck, Paul L. The Suffering of the Impassible God: The Dialectics of Patristic Thought, Oxford Early Christian Studies, ed. Gillian Clark and Andrew Louth. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004.

Letham, Robert. The Message of the Person of Christ: The Word Made Flesh. The Bible Speaks Today, ed. Derek Tidball. Downers Grove: IVP, 2013.

McCall, Thomas H. Forsaken: The Trinity and the Cross, and Why It Matters. Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 2012.

McCall, Thomas H. Which Trinity? Whose Monotheism? Philosophical and Systematic Theologians on the Metaphysics of Trinitarian Theology. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2010.

Peckham, John C. The Love of God: A Canonical Model. Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 2015.

Sanders, Fred, and Klaus Issler, ed. Jesus in Trinitarian Perspective. Nashville: B&H Academic, 2007.

 

Bible-Driven Theology

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