The Southern Baptist Convention’s (SBC) annual meeting will be convened tomorrow in New Orleans. At this meeting, the SBC is set to make history in its election of its first African-American president. The Christian Post reports:
America’s largest Protestant denomination, which remained predominantly white and endorsed racial segregation for over a century, is posed to elect its first African-American president, a pastor from Louisiana, at its two-day annual meeting that begins Tuesday.
Even just a day before the Southern Baptist Convention’s meeting in New Orleans, La., the Rev. Fred Luter Jr. remained the only candidate for the office of the denomination’s president.
Perhaps mildly overshadowing this historic election is the ongoing conversation surrounding the recently released “Statement of Traditional Southern Baptist Understanding of God’s Plan of Salvation.” The document, written by Dr. Eric Hankins, “is a suggested statement of what Southern Baptists believe about the doctrine of salvation.” The preamble to the document states that it was written as a means of countering the rise of “New Calvinism” among Southern Baptists.
Many have taken issue with the statement, however, raising concerns that some of the language within the document is Arminian or even semi-Pelagian in tone and meaning. In his response to the statement, Dr. Albert Mohler wrote:
That said, I could not sign the document. Indeed, I have very serious reservations and concerns about some of its assertions and denials. I fully understand the intention of the drafters to oppose several Calvinist renderings of doctrine, but some of the language employed in the statement goes far beyond this intention. Some portions of the statement actually go beyond Arminianism and appear to affirm semi-Pelagian understandings of sin, human nature, and the human will — understandings that virtually all Southern Baptists have denied. Clearly, some Southern Baptists do not want to identify as either Calvinists, non-Calvinists, or Arminians. That is fine by me, but these theological issues have been debated by evangelicals for centuries now, and those labels stick for a reason. Source
This charge of semi-Pelagian language, however, has been opposed by some of the drafters and signers of the statement.
As the SBC assembles for its annual meeting, there is little doubt that this will be a primary topic of conversation. Based upon the vast number of responses from both sides of the conversation, it will be interesting to see if any type of consensus is reached in this matter.