Mohler/Hankins, BF&M, and AL Baptists

Posted: Monday, November 11, 2013 in Southern Baptist Convention

Last week Albert Mohler and Eric Hankins, Jr. had a conversation (not a debate) at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary concerning Calvinism in the SBC, the Statement of the Traditional Southern Baptist, and other things. titled  “Theology and the Future of the SBC.” I found the discussion cordial, with both men showing grace and humility – and one would expect nothing less in such a setting. Often these type of discussions on controversial things comes off as being just a notch better than Obama’s apology about those who are losing insurance coverage, quite devoid of any meaning. While there were some things said by both men that I know might have been said a bit more forcefully in another setting or among friends, the discussion nevertheless encouraged me as an SBC pastor – a Calvinistic SBC pastor. I have a greater hope that if others will take what was said by both men to heart, and demonstrate their disagreements with the same spirit and understanding, then we as Southern Baptists can and will press on as Great Commission Baptists.

That being said, I came away with the conviction that the greatest value (or most edifying aspect) of the discussion was both men’s conviction that the Baptist Faith & Message is central to what Southern Baptists believe and that the confession (yes, it is a confession) is broad enough for both Calvinistic and non-Calvinistic Southern Baptists. Further, I have found that most of the pastors that I have had a discussions with about the BF&M on both sides of this issue have a like sentiment.

Further, I am not only a Southern Baptist pastor – I am an Alabama Baptist – and as I prepare to attend our annual convention tomorrow I will again go wondering why Alabama Baptists have not adopted the BF&M as our statement of faith. If it is true that the BF&M is broad enough (and I agree it is), and since it has been adopted by the convention as a whole, then what keeps Alabama Baptists from rallying around and coming together in what makes us Baptist? While I still disagree with Dr. Hankins and other non-Calvinist Baptists understanding of soteriology, I DO NOT disagree with the gospel that Dr. Hankins proclaims or the God that he believes in or that one must be born again to be saved or the requirement for repentance and faith to be saved or that baptism is by immersion after conversion or what constitutes the church or what awaits mankind in the return of the Lord. The BF&M contains what is essential for one to be a Christian and those beliefs necessary for one to be a Baptist – nothing more.

Given this truth, I pray that sooner rather than later we as Alabama Baptists might adopt the BF&M as a statement of faith – a statement of our common faith to the world, to other denominations, and perhaps more importantly to one another – as to what we consider to be the minimal beliefs one must hold to be Baptist. Might we agree on these things?

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