Before any angry Calvinists start throwing rocks at Dr. Price personally…
As I begin this post, I would like to point out that there are many important ways in which Dr. Nelson L. Price has positively impacted the state of Georgia and the world for the cause of Jesus Christ. To focus attention on just one set within the many examples that could be given, take his contribution to Christian education. In his 35 years as senior pastor at Roswell Street Baptist Church, Dr. Price led his congregation in establishing a Christian preschool and elementary school to educate students according to a biblical worldview. Dr. Price was a leading figure in promoting the establishment of a North Georgia campus of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary so that ministers in Georgia pursuing biblical and theological education could receive training without having to leave their home church and move out-of-state. Desiring to reach the largest audience possible with biblical teaching, Dr. Price helped to establish a Christian radio station, WFTD 1080 AM, which broadcast many sermons that were of personal benefit to me (sadly, the radio station as begun by Dr. Price has more recently ceased operation as has been replaced by a Spanish-language secular music station on 1080 AM in Atlanta). Last October, Dr. Price became the chairman for the board of trustees at Shorter College in Georgia. In this position, Dr. Price has been instrumental in helping to bring the conservative resurgence to a Baptist school that had previously neglected its foundational principles. For Dr. Price’s views on what must be the heart of Christian education, I would like to refer Strange BaptistFire readers to the October 16, 2000 article of Baptist Press News, in which Dr. Price quoted the original purpose statement of NOBTS as published in 1918, “this institution shall center around the study of the Bible as the Word of God,” and he followed this with the exhortations, “That should be the foundation of your life and my life,” and, “I appeal to you to study the Scripture. [There you’ll find that] the sovereignty of Jesus Christ is the foundation for our lives.”
If only he’d stuck with that foundation in his recent sermon…
Given what is stated above, it truly grieves me to be in the position of critiquing a recent statement by Dr. Price in this post, especially as I believe his statement to touch the most crucial aspect of the biblical message– the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
On November 26, 2006 at 6:00 PM, Dr. Nelson Price spoke at First Baptist Church Woodstock, Georgia on the subject of those who never hear the Gospel– specifically those who live in countries with no access to the Gospel message. Certain portions of this sermon were dedicated to mischaracterizing and assaulting the doctrines of grace, commonly nicknamed Calvinism. Dr. Price’s zeal in attacking Calvinism led to him repeating the now-infamous “bus illustration,” which he had first published three days earlier in the November 23 edition of The Christian Index, and for which he has now been called into account by Reformed Baptist apologist James White.
Dr. Price seemed particularly interested in trying to refute the “L” of Calvinism, that is, the doctrine of limited atonement (more accurately referred to as “definite atonement”). Now, whenever a Southern Baptist preacher attempts to argue against the doctrine of definite atonement, they run up against an immediate problem. For the confession of faith that the Southern Baptist Convention adopted at the annual meeting on July 14, 2000– the current version of the Baptist Faith & Message– very clearly affirms the doctrine of Christ’s substitutionary atonement (see BF&M II.B). This is a problem for Southern Baptist pastors such as Dr. Price because historically the doctrine of substitutionary atonement has been solidified in Christian thought due to the biblical exegesis of pastors and theologians within the Reformed, or Calvinist, tradition. And theologically the doctrine of Christ’s substitutionary atonement is bound up with the doctrine of definite atonement. For to be a substitute means to stand in the place of another, and if Christ was a true substitute on the Cross, bearing God’s wrath for sinners so that they would be saved, then all those for whom Christ provided substitution will certainly not bear God’s eternal wrath against their own sins. Therefore, in order to consistently hold to the doctrine of substitutionary atonement, one must either embrace the teaching that Christ died as a substitute for a definite number of elect individuals– that is, one must accept the limited atonement view– or else one must become a Universalist, in direct contradiction to the teachings of the Lord Jesus.