The Writers of the Abstract of Principles were Southern Baptists

Tom Nettles
| July 5, 2017
This entry is part 2 of 13 in the series Southern Baptist Theology

Is it accurate that “Traditionalism is better, that Calvinism is deficient—that’s what it’s always meant to be Southern Baptist”?

The way I understand it, the author of the above quotation was defending a strongly non-Calvinist confession that sets forth a series of affirmations and denials about the doctrines that constitute soteriology, and that is what he meant by “traditionalism.” That confession gives a forceful rejection of each point of Calvinist soteriology with a sort of strange affirmation of absolute preservationism for the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints. So, I understand the progress of his argument to mean that a rejection of about 4 ½ points of the historic Calvinistic soteriology is what it’s always meant to be Southern Baptist.

But a little bit later this same person said (and here he was talking about The Abstract of Principles to which Southern Baptists agreed as a governing document for The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, when it was founded), “The Abstract is simply the codification of the Charleston theological tradition. It is an abstract of the Second London Confession which is just a baptized version of the Westminster Confession.”

I thought about these two statements, both in the same article and thought, “Well, it is clear that if his understanding of the pedigree of the Abstract is true, then his proposed ‘traditionalism,’ supported by the assertion, ‘that’s what it’s always meant to be Southern Baptist’ cannot be true.”

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