In case you have not read, you need to read this: a-statement-of-traditional-southern-baptist-soteriology-sbc-today. It was put together by a few Southern Baptists. The reason this is embarrassing is because this can so easily lead to division within our denomination, before it will lead to anything positive. This is embarrassing because I do not know a single member at our church that would be able to sign this document, yet we are supposed to be able to link arms with these signatories in church-planting? This is embarrassing because it only highlights the inherent problem that exists in any denomination that puts practical unity over actual theological unity. I just have two pleas:
1. I have never met an “aggressive” Calvinist pastor like the ones these signatories claim inspired their document. Whoever you are, angry Calvinist, please look to the cross of Christ, and repent. Love the Savior, love the sheep, feed the sheep.
2. Anyone who actually believes that document, let’s talk. Let’s discuss the Scriptures, and let’s deal with your poor understanding (which may be no fault of your own, but it is still a bad understanding) of historic Calvinism.
I hope these will give people help in thinking through these issues. My last word on this for now comes from Romans 9. Romans 6-8 is a great exposition of the effects of the gospel (6), the need for the gospel (7), and the benefits of the gospel (8). Someone might see Paul flattening out the distinction between Jews and Gentiles so much that they might wonder if he has any special place in his heart for ethnic Israel at all. I think he addresses that in Romans 9.1-5, and what he does is appeal to past history, not future.
Then he says in Rom 9.6, “But it is not as though the word of God has failed”. In other words, it looks like God made promises to ethnic Israel that have failed to come to pass. But it only looks like that on the surface. And notice what he does not say. He does not say “it hasn’t failed, because one day Israel will get the land of Canaan as promised” (or you can fill in the blanks of supposed promises to ethnic Israel).
Instead he says “for not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel. And not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring, but ‘through Isaac shall your offspring be named.’ This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise who are counted as offspring.” Paul is clearly using the words “Israel” and “offspring” in different ways. Ethnic Jews are not the children of God; spiritual children of promise are. God did not mainly make promises to ethnic Israel, or else God’s word has failed. The point of the OT was not for us to see God making promises to ethnic Israel, but to see God making promises to spiritual Israel (I actually prefer the language of “true Israel” vs. “spiritual Israel”; and I would say, True Israel is first of all Jesus, then secondarily those who are united to Him by faith; but I am happy to simply consider True Israel the Elect, i.e. the Church).
Another reason I think there has always been one plan for one people comes from Romans 5.13-14: “For sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come.”
Paul’s point here is that even before the Law was given, there was a Law, or else men would not have died. So the Law given to Israel was not something completely new, just revealed in a clearer way. In other words there is much more continuity than first meets the eye throughout the Bible. And Paul says you were supposed to know that Adam was pointing to someone future. The OT was not (mainly) about Israel, but mainly (only?) about Jesus.