The Writers of the Abstract of Principles were Southern Baptists

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.”

Tom has most recently served as the Professor of Historical Theology at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He previously taught at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School where he was Professor of Church History and Chair of the Department of Church History. Prior to that, he taught at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary. Along with numerous journal articles and scholarly papers, Dr. Nettles is the author and editor of fifteen books. Among his books are By His Grace and For His Glory; Baptists and the Bible, James Petigru Boyce: A Southern Baptist Statesman, and Living by Revealed Truth: The Life and Pastoral Theology of Charles H. Spurgeon.
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