The Alabama Baptist and Dortian Calvinism

The current issue of The Alabama Baptist (Aug. 2, 2007) contains seven articles on “Dortian Calvinism”–one by editor Bob Terry and six by Dr. James Leo Garrett.  The purpose of these articles, according to Bob Terry, is to serve as a resource to help Alabama Baptists better understand Calvinism.  Below are the links to the articles for your reading pleasure (if you plan on referencing these in the future, be sure to print out copies of each article as they are likely to not be on the Internet for long).

Understanding Calvinism: A Resource (editorial) – Bob Terry

Articles by Dr. James Leo Garrett:

A question facing Baptist churches

Calvinism: What does it mean?

Does Dortian Calvinism have weight of Scripture in its favor?

Have Baptists always been Dortian Calvinists in their confessions of faith?

How prominent Baptists stack up

What are the alternatives to Dortian Calvinism?

For what it’s worth, I have begun interacting with these articles and putting my $.02 into the discussion.  At this point, I am about mid-way through my response(s).  Here they are as they stand right now:

Response 1: Monergism and Total Depravity
Response 2: Haykin on Hyper-Calvinism and Andrew Fuller
Response 3: Exegetical Tradition and Analysis of Ephesians 2:8
Response 4: Repentance and Faith (Boyce and Spurgeon)
There have been several other responses, and I encourage you to check out the discussion that hopes to be healthy and helpful for all Southern Baptists.

Explore posts in the same categories: Southern Baptist Convention

11 Comments on “The Alabama Baptist and Dortian Calvinism”

  1. Dr. Garrett stated “Sandy Creek (N.C.) Association’s Principles of Faith (1816) was explicit as to perseverance and vague about predestination (art. 4).”

    I can go along with this as far as he goes. Perseverance is explicit and there is no explicit mention of “unconditional” election.

    However, what bothers me is what he does not say.

    The Sandy Creek confession is E X P L I C I T about effectual calling:

    4. We believe in election from eternity, EFFECTUAL calling by the Holy Spirit, and justification in his sight only by imputation of Christ righteousness. And we believe that they who are thus elected, EFFECTUALLY called, and justified, will perservere through grace to the end, that none of them be lost. (emphasis mine)

    Also, I believe total inability is contained in this confession (although it is less clear than effectual calling) in the way “free will” is defined:

    3. That Adam fell from his original state of purity, and that his sin is imputed to his posterity; that human nature is corrupt, and that man, of his own free will and ability, is IMPOTENT to regain the state in which he was primarily placed. (emphasis mine)

    I have the whole confession up on my blog for anyone who is interested.

  2. Also, here is a Sandy Creek document that I discovered in the library in Asheboro, NC [on microfilm].

    Please spread this around if you like. I have not seen it anywhere else. Some parts were hard to copy (as you can probably tell). However, what I could get down is precious. Here you go:

    January 29 day, 1771

    William Walker’s Meeting on Sandy Creek. The proceedings as follows————————————————————————————————————————————————————————-

    For as much as god has been graciously pleased to make known unto us by his revealed will, his word of truth, the great privileges of the Blessed gospel of our dear Lord and savior Jesus Chris, and hath made us Experience his love and favour, in that he hath called us from our state of Nature, in which Estate we were enemy to god by wicked works, and hath revealed Christ in us the hope of glory, therefore for the better carrying on to our mature comfort and the advancement of the great privileges of the true Religion of the glory of god, and praise of his glorious gospel grace, we Whose [a few hard to translate words here] inhabitants of Granville County and ? North Carolina, being all of us Baptised on profession of our faith and belief, of our ever living only true god and of a trinity of persons in unity of Essence, the father the Son and the holy ghost, subsisting in the unity of the god head, the Eternally begotten son of god, one with the father in Essence and Equal in his person in the fullness of time, did take human Nature into that inseparable union with his divine person, and in the same did fulfill the law died on the Cross, thereby making atonement for sin and satisfied divine Justice, and provided peace for sinners that all mankind fell from the Estate of Created innocence, in with and by adam’s first sin and being liable to the wrath of god’s holy law, and in this Estate and condition have no hope of Eternal life untill by the same law convinced of this Estate and condition Consequently have no hope of Eternal life, until by the same law Convinced of this and the damning Nature of all sinners, from this root and so made to fly for Eternal life by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, who alone is the mediation of the new Covenant, and alone Redeemer of god’s Elect, without any merit in us, or moving because of good in us foreseen to merit his mercy, was delivered to death for our offences and that it might be freely Justified by his free and sovereign [some words hard to translate here] only we have redemption through his precious blood Even the forgiveness of our sins, we believe that he ascended into heaven and sitteth at the right hand of god , from thence he will come to Judge the quick and the dead, at the last great day and believing also the [?] of the Scriptures in all orthodox Points [? ?] Baptism, laying on of hands, [?] to the ministerial function final Perserverance in grace the Resurrection of dead bodies of men, and Eternal Judgement to gather with all those Principals and [articles?] of doctrine and Religious practice contained in the confession of faith–adapted by the Baptist association at Philadelphia [? ?] and Reprinted in 1743 and having [? ? ?] appointed the sixth day of December 1755 to join together in a gospel Church Relation and fellowship and having spent Part of the day in fasting and prayer, we gave our selves to the Lord and to one another by the will of god according to the second Corinthians 8th Chapter and fifth verse as a Church of Christ do solemnly and voluntarily and mutually Covenant with one another to meet to gether on every Lord’s day as many as can conveniently to celebrate the worship of god and to Edify one another in his service, in the best manner we Can and do promise to each other to keep the day holy, and to watch over each of our families and Children under our Care, that they do the same at all times behave our selves as becometh the gospel of our dear [?] Jesus Christ, whom we now Take for our head and [?] our prophet and Priest and according to our ability to promote the glory of god our own benefit and the good of others, yet so as not to break the order of a gospel church by taking upon ourselves any office or dignity in the same of the ministry, or other until there unto Called by the voice of the Church according to god’s ordinances, knowing that he that Exalteth him self Shall be abased , and he that humbleth him self shall be Exalted, and that no man taketh this office unto him elf but he that is there unto Called, and jointly to maintain the worship of god and to Edify [?] another in love, and as god shall enable us by his grace to maintain the doctrine of the blessed gospel to Regulate and Practice by the word of god, and to watch over one another in the Lord, Philippians 2 Chapter and fourth verse and admonish, Encourage, and to Reprove one another, if need be according to gospel Rule in love and to be admonished and Reproved by one another, as the word of god directs and as far as god shall enable to perform all mutual duties to [warn?] each other or to those that shall here after join with us, and to keep our own appointed meetings, and keep our own Secrets, being Taught by god’s word that the church of christ is a garden closed, a spring shut up, a fountain sealed, and not to depart from one another [?] or without Regular [?], and that we shall as god shall give us [?] ability [?] and opportunity attend on the means of grace, and the institution and ordinances of the gospel, hoping and Rekying upon almighty god for grace, wisdom and spiritual understanding, guidance, and ability to adorn this our profession, and to perform our duties and to Bless us with grace suitable to our Privileges, he in his goodness and mercy hath bestowed on us in his house through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom be glory in the church throughout all ages World without End, Amen, August 15th 1770–

    We the Committee Certify that this is a true Copy of the original faith and Covenant of the Church at Sandy Creek Meeting house N.. Carolina F. County July 6th day 1850

    N. Davis Self?
    ?? Pearce
    ? ?
    Taylor? ?
    D. Gupton?

  3. Benji,

    Thanks for passing this along. This is good stuff. Did you save the microfilm data as a PDF document? Just curious.

    FWIW, I plan on posting about effectual calling Tuesday or Wednesday of next week.

  4. Timmy,

    Please forgive me for my lack of knowledge in technology. I’m not sure what you mean by a PDF document. I photocopied the documents from the microfilm and I have scanned the documents so that I can bring them up on a computer.

    Also, I’m pretty sure I mailed these documents (meaning what you would see on microfilm, not what I typed) to Tom Ascol. He might have done something with them.

    I hope this helps

  5. Thomas Twitchell Says:

    I know this doesn’t qute fit here. If you want, delete it.

    From SBCLife:

    Postscript to the 2007 SBC Baptist Faith and Message Discussion by Morris H. Chapman

    Identifying our core beliefs in the BF&M allows us the latitude to be drawn together for the purpose of faithfully and obediently lifting up our eyes, and looking on the fields, for they are ready for harvest (John 4:35). What would it be like if the vast energies and resources of this Convention were given for missions and evangelism and God’s people were marshaled to witness to the ends of the earth by the thousands upon thousands? For the born-again believer, it is the most urgent and rewarding work on earth. The world has yet to see what God would do through His people if our hearts burned with the desire to abandon our all to the Lordship of Christ, making Him preeminent in our lives. The question is, “Shall we most desire what God desires for us or what we humanly want for ourselves?”

    Our confession, entitled the Baptist Faith and Message, was intended to be a statement of doctrine around which we could coalesce in order to more effectively and efficiently tell the old, old story of Jesus and His love around the world.

    Let me quote a portion of a sentence in the BF&M Preamble

    “… these are doctrines we hold precious and as essential to the Baptist tradition of faith and practice.”

    After laying this guilt trip on his readers he goes on:


    Section V. God’s Purpose of Grace

    In this section, it states, “Election is the gracious purpose of God, according to which he regenerates, justifies, sanctifies, and glorifies sinners. It is consistent with the free agency of man, and comprehends all the means in connection with the end. It is the glorious display of God’s sovereign goodness, and is infinitely wise, holy, and unchangeable. It excludes boasting and promotes humility.

    “All true believers endure to the end. Those whom God has accepted in Christ, and sanctified by his Spirit, will never fall away from the state of grace, but shall persevere to the end.”

    Section IV. Salvation

    In this section, it states, “Salvation involves the redemption of the whole man, and is offered freely to all who accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, who by His own blood obtained eternal redemption for the believer. … there is no salvation apart from personal faith in Jesus Christ as Lord.”

    The Bible teaches both the sovereignty of God and the responsibility of man. The Baptist Faith and Message agrees that both the work of grace and the responsibility of man are necessary elements in the salvation experience. This phenomenon is called an antinomy (an apparent contradiction between two equally valid principles). For instance, how can salvation be totally an act of God, independent of human means, and a human response to a divine initiative? The Baptist Faith and Message identifies and embraces the antinomy of these two seemingly competing truths. Therefore, a healthy tension (an antinomy) exists in the Bible with regard to these two important biblical truths. Men often have proposed and promoted theological theories in an attempt to reconcile biblical antinomies. But where God’s Word seems to run afoul of our sense of things, He must be trusted rather than a man-made theological system. Man’s understanding always will be inferior to God’s knowledge. God doesn’t tell us everything He knows, but what we need to know to be redeemed and live righteously.

    Since the Baptist Faith and Message embraces both the sovereignty of God and the responsibility of man, it is reasonable for Southern Baptists to expect professors to teach both elements as necessary for the salvation experience. If we are swept up in a Convention-wide debate between those who believe in five-point Calvinism and those who don’t, especially so soon on the heels of the Conservative Resurgence, we will do irreparable harm to the Kingdom of God and our Convention.

    For the sake of reaching the world for Christ, can we not agree that both the sovereignty of God and the responsibility of man are ingredients in our salvation? What have we proven if we become angry and argumentative with one another trying to prove a premise when God, through His Word, offers only what we need to know, not what we think we want to know. This Convention can ill afford continuous acrimonious debate, especially about a doctrinal issue which will never be resolved even by the most brilliant theologians.

    The Bible teaches both the sovereignty of God and the responsibility of man, says Chapman, and no Calvinist disagrees with this. However, he says then:

    The Baptist Faith and Message agrees that both the work of grace and the responsibility of man are necessary elements in the salvation experience.

    Section V says that “election is a gracious purpose of God,” comprehending “all the means in connection with the end. It is the glorious display of God’s sovereign goodness…” But, Chapman seems to bifurcate election, where the BFM does not. Man’s responsibility is comprehended as one of the means of the grace gift of salvation. Salvation is a single gift that includes all means of receiving it, according to this chapter. Where we have problems is what follows in the next chapter.

    “Salvation involves the redemption of the whole man,” I might ask with Chapman, well does it or not? Is his will redeemed? How about his moral inability? Then with, “and is offered freely to all who accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior,” we have to ask about the free offer, which no Calvinist rejects. Is it not also offered to those who reject it? Most Arminians argue that Calvinism is disingenuous in claiming that there is a real offer when we claim that a man must be regenerated to receive it. Here the BFM seems indicate that the offer is limited to those who accept it. We also have to contend with just what part of man was redeemed, “by His own blood… which obtained eternal redemption for the believer.” Was it the whole man, even his inability to accept Jesus Christ, or did man always have that ability, and therefore in that portion of his humanity, needed no salvation? No Calvinist would argue against the fact that “… there is no salvation apart from personal faith in Jesus Christ as Lord.” Our challenge is, and will remain, is faith given in the gracious gift of salvation as it is comprehended as a necessary means of securing eternal redemption, or is faith pre-existent in man, merely awaiting man to utilize what is common to every son of Adam? This goes to a further point in the BFM concerning the fall and man’s nature, but that is another issue, one that Timmy Brister has quite correctly assessed, must be the first to be reconciled if bridges are to be built.

    Chapman asserts:

    Since the Baptist Faith and Message embraces both the sovereignty of God and the responsibility of man, it is reasonable for Southern Baptists to expect professors to teach both elements as necessary for the salvation experience.

    Since when don’t they? The problem here is not that Calvinist do not teach both. The problem is the false juxtaposition of the two doctrines as if the lay on equal planes. It is not an antimony, at least in the way Chapman portrays it. God’s sovereignty is exhaustive and exalted above his creation. Man’s responsibility, by nature a created endowment, is in subjugation to God’s will. Arminians claim libertarian freedom, Calvinist’s subjectivism, that is God’s sovereign claim upon his creation to do with it according to his good pleasure. The conflict is between Libertarianism and Compatibalism, not God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility. There can be no honest conversation until the true nature of the debate is honestly put forth by the anti-Calvinist faction.

    It is amazing that Chapman seem bent on confusing issues. The leadership issue is really not germane to a discussion on Calvinism, though it is part of the Reformed tradition. He states:

    Parenthetically, the matter of elders leading the church as officers is often discussed in association with Calvinism. The Baptist Faith and Message in Section VI. The Church, states, “Its scriptural officers are pastors and deacons.” Are they or are they not? If there is more than one interpretation concerning officers in the church, should not Southern Baptists make the decision on biblical grounds? They did so with the vote to adopt the original Baptist Faith and Message in 1925, and they did so the few times the BF&M has been revised. Why should the Convention’s churches and entities not see that statement as sufficient on the matter?

    The 1925 continued a tradition that preceded it. It name two offices, Bishops, or elders, and Deacons. The later revisions dropped the words Bishops, or elders and replaced them with Pastor. Why? Because biblically they are equivalent terms. The churches do see the BFM as sufficient on the matter. Chapman simply seems oblivious to the equivalency. Pastor are elders. Riverbend Community Church is governed by a plurality of pastors. Pastors, elders bishops, there is no difference. Single senior pastor rule, or senior elder rule is what Chapman means when he want to assert that we should stick with the tradition(s of men). That is just it. It has become a tradition that is not supported by either the BFM, or Scripture.

    But, if he really wants peace, then why did he tie the two different issue together? So, it makes little sense that he would continue to “guilt-bate,” by saying:

    Will Southern Baptists move beyond the distractions caused by constantly badgering each other and instigating heated debates concerning interpretations of doctrines not addressed in the BF&M about which we may never agree? Can we not agree to keep our focus upon obeying Christ’s command to tell the world that “Jesus saves?” Our inability to concentrate upon reaching souls for Christ and sending thousands of missionaries throughout the world will be the cost of not finding good in each other.

    Notice also, that he makes the claim that the BFM does not address these issues, when he has just spent his entire argument claiming that it does just that. And, he claims that it does so, sufficiently, and in such a manner that it allows for cooperation.

    This kind of shattered rhetoric from the fear-mongers, is so tiring. It is shrill. When he says that:

    This Convention can ill afford continuous acrimonious debate, especially about a doctrinal issue which will never be resolved even by the most brilliant theologians.

    How many time have we heard this. The issue has been resolved, and set out conclusively. It is simply skerokardia that will not acknowledged that it has. It would be so refreshing for the opposition to Calvinism, and I might say Protestantism, just to admit that they cannot accept it, and quit the pretentious claim to equivocation.

  6. Benji,

    That’s no problem. There are some microfilm machines that allow you to copy them to a jump drive or external laptop and save them PDF files. That way you can have a digitized copy for yourself. I am not quite up to snuff on mastering microfilm, but I am pretty sure that is possible (depending on the equipment).

  7. threegirldad Says:

    Mr. Ramsaur,

    If you can provide me with copies of your scanned files, I will gladly convert them to PDF documents.

  8. threegirldad,

    Sounds good. Here is my email address:

    Thanks for being willing to do this

  9. In case anyone is interested I have copied the text of all of the articles into one document with links for each document to both the article and the printer friendly copy (easier to cut and past from) of the article. These are just direct cut and pasts with the link to the original article at the end of each section. If you desire a copy let me know.

    As any good journalist will do, sarcasm intended, the first article claims that if one sees a bias it is the reader who has the bias. I have not read the articles in their entirety, yet, but it does seem clear from what I have read that Dr. James Leo Garrett Jr does appear to have a bias, but I guess that is my bias (again sarcasm intended).

  10. threegirldad,

    I have sent the Sandy Creek documents to you. It will come on your e-mail by the name “Jennifer” (my wife).

    Grace and thanks again

  11. John Parr Says:

    I know enough about baptist history to know there is a great debate over origins. Baptists did come from the Reformation tradition, but of course they had a different view of baptism than the rest of the Reformation church, which led to a modified ecclesiology. Regarding soteriology, which baptists have differed on in the past, it is most probable that English baptists inherited a Reformed/Dortian Calvinistic soteriology, which was not distinctively baptist, although it marked the London Baptist statements of faith of 1644 and 1689. The latter statement became the form and substance of Philadelphia ass. in the 18th century, indicating that the American baptists had a strong Calvinistic bent as well.

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