A recent statement on the doctrine of salvation has received a good bit of attention in recent days. Since it deals with matters of current controversy, it has generated some heat. Our current task as Southern Baptists is to engage in a theological conversation that will transform heat into light. This is the very least we owe each other as brothers and sisters who are committed to the Great Commission, to the Southern Baptist Convention, and to each other.

The document, identified as “A Statement of the Traditional Southern Baptist Understanding of God’s Plan of Salvation” was written and released by a group of Southern Baptists who clearly intend to make a theological argument. Their public action and serious intention should be welcomed. We should be glad that Southern Baptists are fully capable of engaging in a theological and biblical discussion over doctrine. Furthermore, we should be thankful that we are discussing God’s plan of salvation and the right way of understanding how God saved sinners. What could be more important?

First, we should pause to reflect that, thanks to the Conservative Resurgence in the Southern Baptist Convention, we are not debating the inerrancy of the Bible. That matter is settled among us. We are privileged to be having a debate among those who affirm the total truthfulness and authority of the Bible. Otherwise, we would surely be debating the issues that have consumed the more liberal denominations, such as same-sex marriage, the ordination of practicing homosexuals to the ministry, and feminine God-language.

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