Dialogue on the Traditional Statement

Tom Ascol
| March 31, 2015

Last week I had the privilege of delivering the Darby/Beal Lectures at the Baptist Missionary Association Theological Seminary in Jacksonville, Texas. It was a joy to be on campus and to learn more about the mission and vision of BMATS. I was impressed with the faculty and students that I met and was particularly delighted to meet and fellowship with President Charley Holmes. He is doing an outstanding job of leading that institution and I was encouraged to learn more about it.

I was asked to speak on the “Statement of the Traditional Southern Baptist Understanding of God’s Plan of Salvation” that was issued three years ago by some Southern Baptists who are alarmed over the spread of the doctrines of grace throughout the SBC. I lectured on article 2 (“The Sinfulness of Man“) and article 3 (“The Atonement of Christ“). Those lectures are available here and here.

The highlight of the series was a panel discussion on the whole Traditional Statement, involving Drs. Mike Smith, President of Jacksonville College, Holmes, Malcolm Yarnell, Professor of Theology at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and me. The dialogue was moderated by Dr. Holmes and primarily consisted of observations from Dr. Yarnell and me. I learned some things through the discussion. For example, I did not know that, though Dr. Eric Hankins is the primary author of the Traditional Statement, both Dr. Yarnell and Dr. Steve Lemke, Provost of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, gave input to it before it was published. I also learned that at certain points Dr. Yarnell regards the statement as less than he could have wished for.

It will come as no surprise to most readers of this blog that Dr. Yarnell and I have significant disagreements over matters that the Traditional Statement addresses. These were not ignored and we pointedly expressed our disagreements. But, as all such discussions should be, the dialogue was very cordial and conducted in a fraternal spirit. By God’s grace, we both tried to be ruthlessly biblical in expressing our views and concerns.

I am grateful to have had the opportunity and privilege of such an engagement. I am also thankful that BMATS has made the lectures and dialogue available online here. Though the volume of the panel discussion video is not great, you can watch it here. A better audio recording is available here.