Originating From a Secret Bunker Dug By William Hosea Holcombe and J.B. Gambrell Somewhere Off the Square in Oxford, Mississippi
The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him (ESV). – Proverb 18:17
Below are two links to videos from Christian apologist and author James White analyzing Dr. Eric Hankins’ public comments concerning Reformed Theology. Note that the analysis of Hankins’ comments on the first video doesn’t begin until the 15:20 mark.
We may invigorate our faith and renew our courage by reflecting that divine power has always attended the preaching of doctrine, when done in the true spirit of preaching. Great revivals have accompanied the heroic preaching of the doctrines of grace, predestination, election, and that whole lofty mountain range of doctrines upon which Jehovah sits enthroned, sovereign in grace as in all things else. God honors the preaching that honors him. There is entirely too much milk-sop preaching nowadays trying to cajole sinners to enter upon a truce with their Maker, quit sinning and join the church. The situation does not call for a truce, but for a surrender. Let us bring out the heavy artillery of heaven, and thunder away at this stuck-up age as Whitefield, Edwards, Spurgeon, and Paul did and there will be many slain in the Lord raised up to walk in newness of life.
– J.B. Gambrell
J.B. Gambrell was a student at Ole Miss and served as pastor of the Oxford Baptist Church (First Baptist) in Oxford, Mississippi for five years. He also served as editor of the Baptist Record, president of Mercer University, and president of the Southern Baptist Convention. Source: http://www.sbhla.org/bio_gambrell.htm
The goal of “A Statement of the Traditional Southern Baptist Understanding of God’s Plan of Salvation,” according to Dr. Eric Hankins in his introduction, “was to create a statement that would accurately reflect the beliefs of the majority of Southern Baptists, who are not Calvinists.” Since no specific research was cited to support his claim that a majority of Southern Baptists believe what is contained in the “Traditional Statement,” I will assume that his conclusion is based more on his personal perception than on any documented evidence.
In point of fact, when the “Traditional Statement” was released in late May, it made quite a buzz on the internet. Several hundred Southern Baptists quickly signed the statement in agreement, including such prominent leaders as Jerry Vines and Paige Patterson. SBC Today, the website that initially published the statement, solicited others to add their signatures in support as well. But almost as suddenly as the statement had appeared on the SBC landscape, support for the document began to wane. As of today (more than a month later), the statement has struggled to gain less than 850 signatures. This, despite the fact it was made available for signatures at the Southern Baptist Convention in New Orleans, where approximately 8,000 messengers were in attendance.
By my own perception, I grant that most Southern Baptists are not Calvinists; nevertheless, I see no evidence that they believe what is contained in the “Traditional Statement.” I would argue that most Southern Baptists are non-committal. I have actually been in SBC churches where a Calvinistic soteriology was presented. In every case there were a few that strongly supported it, a few that were hostile to it, but most seemed uncertain. And on those occasions where they (the uncommitted) were forced to choose sides, it was more often influenced by the personalities involved rather than by some firm conviction concerning what the Bible actually teaches on the matter.
It’s also interesting to note that while Dr. Hankins has publicly stated that the “traditional” Southern Baptist view of salvation is the majority opinion among Southern Baptists, he also claims that this “traditional” group is comprised of neither Calvinists nor Arminians, because both groups are Augustinian, which Hankins rejects. But a recent poll conducted by Lifeway Research shows that 30% of Southern Baptist pastors say their churches are Calvinistic/Reformed. Another 30% say their churches are Arminian/Wesleyan. So 60% of Southern Baptist churches, according to their own pastors, are Augustinian in their understanding of salvation, yet that same 60% are not part of the “traditional” Southern Baptist majority, according to Dr. Hankins’ own assertion.
Now, I suppose when Dr. Hankins claims that the “Traditional Statement” is a reflection of “the beliefs of the majority of Southern Baptists, who are not Calvinists,” he could mean that of those in the SBC who are not Calvinists, the statement represents the opinion of most in that non-Calvinist group. Still, I know of no verifiable evidence proving that the “Traditional Statement” represents the beliefs of anyone other than those who actually signed the document, and to date, that is an extremely small percentage of either Southern Baptists as a whole or just the non-Calvinist ones, regardless of what label they may adhere to.