Savability: Southern Baptists’ Core Soteriological Conviction And Contribution -- By: Eric Hankins

Journal: Journal for Baptist Theology & Ministry
Volume: JBTM 09:2 (Fall 2012)
Article: Savability: Southern Baptists’ Core Soteriological Conviction And Contribution
Author: Eric Hankins

Savability: Southern Baptists’ Core Soteriological Conviction And Contribution

Eric Hankins

Eric Hankins is Pastor of First Baptist Church, Oxford, Mississippi. He is the primary author of “A Statement of the Traditional Southern Baptist Understanding of God’s Plan of Salvation.”

The Southern Baptist Convention was formed in 1845 and is comprised of forty-five thousand churches, sixteen million members, ten thousand home and international missionaries, and six large seminaries with ten thousand students preparing for ministry.1 Last year, over six hundred thousand people were baptized in Southern Baptists churches and ministries in the United States and around the world. The SBC has survived and thrived in a kaleidoscopic and increasingly secular American culture. While mainline denominations are collapsing under the weight of modernism’s flight from biblical authority,2 Southern Baptists’ unique identity, polity, and theology have seen us through difficult days in unparalleled fashion.3 All of these reasons and more provide a sufficient warrant for the articulation of a theological perspective that is uniquely our own. Not a Baptist theology, for we do not speak for all Baptists, but a Southern Baptist theology. This needs to be done not for the purposes of separating ourselves from others or demonstrating our superiority. Rather, it is right for us to codify and contribute to the wider

Christian world what we understand to be the basis for the sustained cooperative kingdom reach that is unique to us. Moreover, because the SBC is being challenged by the threats of fragmentation and decline, it is needful to understand clearly what it is about our identity that should be maintained as we seek to make our message meaningful in an ever-changing world.4 Finally, because no theological paradigm is perfect or eternal, ours needs to be publicly articulated so that it may be evaluated, improved, and retooled for future generations.

Within the broad sweep of systematic theology, soteriology has been the most contested doctrine over the last fifteen hundred years. While Calvinism and Arminianism have dominated the discussion within Protestantism, neither system has prevailed in Southern Baptist life.5 The contention here is that our reluctance to identify with either system is actually a clue to our effectiveness: we believe very simply but very deeply that anyone can be saved and, once saved...

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