Oxford Baptist Underground

Originating From a Secret Bunker Dug By William Hosea Holcombe and J.B. Gambrell Somewhere Off the Square in Oxford, Mississippi

Question: Who Hasn’t Signed the Traditional Statement? Answer: Almost All Southern Baptists

Despite having been circulated almost everywhere Southern Baptists congregate, the Traditional Statement certainly has not generated a groundswell of support.  As of today, May 3, 2014, signatures are still being solicited on the website Connect 316, yet the total number of signers is a meager 898.  If you believe there are 16 million Southern Baptists, that means over 99.99% have not signed the statement.  This in spite of the fact that supporters have been soliciting signatures for almost two years.

However, among the signers listed, a sizable number list Oxford, Mississippi as their hometown.  Yet all but one of those Oxford signers appear to come from four area churches – First Baptist, North Oxford Baptist, Yellow Leaf Baptist, and New Prospect Baptist.  Noticeably absent are names from the Anchor Baptist Church, which I believe is the largest Southern Baptist church in Lafayette County outside the Oxford city limits.  Their pastor, Gerald Shook, is the dean of Southern Baptist pastors in Lafayette County, having served there for over 30 years.  Why hasn’t he signed it? Surely he was/is aware of it.

I certainly don’t speak for Pastor Shook, but I’ve heard him preach on numerous occasions and strongly doubt he would be in agreement with the Traditional Statement, kind of like non-signer David Rogers (son of the legendary Adrian Rogers).  In fact, speaking of the Calvinist acronym TULIP, David Rogers has said:

I simultaneously affirm 4 1/2 points of TULIP and 3 1/2 points of the non-TULIP, all depending on which perspective you are looking at it from. I also read from and am edified by writers (and listen to speakers) from many different theological camps. I have been especially edified by some of the teaching from some of the Gospel Coalition folks. – See more at: Victims of Soteriological Dishonesty (comment section).

The point here is that whatever Southern Baptists believe, there is no evidence that any massive number adheres specifically to what’s contained in the Traditional Statement.  Rather, I suspect most have views that don’t correspond exactly to either the 5 points of Calvinism or the 10 Articles of the Traditional Statement but nevertheless fall neatly within the parameters of the Baptist Faith and Message.  At SBC Open Fourms, Ken Hammrick has posted a helpful chart showing this full spectrum of Southern Baptist soteriological views.  (By the way, I think this chart also shows why Calvinist-leaning Southern Baptists call their Traditionalist brothers Arminians, a label which the Traditionalists, of course, deny.)

Update:  As of April 18, 2015, the number of signatures stands at 973, which still means that 99.99% of Southern Baptists have not signed the Traditional Statement.

Another update:  As of July 9, 2016, the Connect 316 link above now says “The requested page cannot be found.”  Although the exact reason for its removal is unknown, it would be fair to conclude, based on the paltry number of signers, that the site failed miserably in its intent.  It in no way demonstrated that a majority or even a large minority of Southern Baptists agreed with the Traditional Statement in toto.

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One response to “Question: Who Hasn’t Signed the Traditional Statement? Answer: Almost All Southern Baptists

  1. Ken Hamrick May 5, 2014 at 5:47 am

    SBC Today banned me for the following comment:

    … Dr. Hankins often characterizes the Traditionalist view as the centrist view, citing the reluctance of Southern Baptists to identify with either Calvinism or Arminianism—as if all who share such reluctance were of the Traditionalist mind set. The polarized lens through which Calvinists and Traditionalists argue would leave us to believe that there is no middle ground—were it not for the fact that so many Southern Baptists are of neither side. A large, stable middle has—for a very long time—gotten along well with either end of the SBC spectrum, but is much less vocal and often overlooked. I’m speaking of those who are “non-Calvinists” but still hold that God ultimately determines the destinies of men—but He does so without impinging the “freedom to choose otherwise.” You can call them compatibilists, antinomists, centrists or middlers. In short, they are those who have found a place of theological reconciliation. They have no anaphylactic reaction to the claim that “men have the freedom to choose otherwise, and must of their own free will surrender in repentant faith in order to then be savingly regenerated and born again,” because they find that principle to be clearly affirmed in Scripture; and neither do they have an anaphylactic reaction to the claim that “God is the ultimate determiner of the destinies of men, having unconditionally chosen His elect in eternity past,” because they also find that principle clearly affirmed in Scripture. The centrality of the middle position is not due to a desire for compromise, but due to an unwillingness to compromise: neither principle of Biblical truth should be emphasized at the expense of the other.

    When Dr. Hankins says, “…we believe very simply but very deeply that anyone can be saved and, once saved, is secure forever,” he’s not saying anything that a compatibilist/centrist/antinomist would not say right along with him—and yet these middlers to whom I refer also affirm that (in the words of A.W. Tozer) “God has the master choice” and is the ultimate determiner of the destinies of men. To quote Dr. Hankins (“Beyond Calvinism and Arminianism”), “Another typical strategy of Baptists, at this point, is to appeal to ‘mystery’ or ‘paradox:’ We don’t know how God chooses individuals, and, at the same time, individuals choose God. But, like other complex doctrines such as the Trinity or the hypostatic union, it is still true.” Every time that Traditionalists speak as if they hold all the ground between Calvinism and Arminianism, they err in portraying the size of their movement to be larger than it is. And further, they completely underestimate the size of those who disagree with them on their most adamantly held point, since it is not only Calvinists but also the large group of “non-Calvinists, non-Arminians—non-Traditionalists” who hold that God unconditionally elected us in eternity past. You might say, “Well, then they’re Calvinists;” but you would be mistaken. They do not hold to original guilt, they do not hold to irresistible grace, they do not hold to regeneration prior to faith, they do not hold to a limited atonement, and they do hold to the “savability” of any sinner. Rejecting Calvinism is not necessarily an “all or nothing” proposition, and it does not require one to embrace the kind of Libertarianism that you call Traditional. Obviously, many Southern Baptists have rejected Calvinism and affirmed Traditionalism—but many have also rejected both Calvinism and Traditionalism, and have done so without denying that God has the “master choice.”

    If you like the spectrum chart, you might also like this:
    http://sbcopenforum.com/2012/08/29/beyond-traditionalism-reclaiming-southern-baptist-soteriology/

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