Arminians Recognize the Whiff of Semi-Pelagianism Too

Since the non-Calvinists in the SBC rallied around the “Statement of the Traditional Southern Baptist Understanding of God’s Plan of Salvation,” the charge of Semi-Pelagianism has been bandied about.  I did it myself, and I don’t regret it.  In response the theologians who signed the “Statement” have defended it and have asserted that it is not Semi-Pelagian.

Let me be clear.  I do not think these SBC theologians are Semi-Pelagians.  But I am not so sure about the author of the “Statement.”  I did point out that the Articles were poorly worded, and I am still of the opinion that they ought to have been re-written with more precision before being published.

Arminian theologian Roger Olson has written what I thin k is a perceptive post on Prevenient Grace which addresses the issue.  Regardless of my disagreements with Olson, I think he brings a useful perspective:



  1. Hi Paul,
    I read Olson’s observatons and I think he is right. I agree there are numerous problems with the statement and the author, being a trained man and seriously concerned with this issue should have done a much better job if he wanted to avoid the semi-pelagian label. From my perspective, he has no to blame but himself. A plain reading of the statement could arrive at no other conclusion. What is shocking is that so many high-profile men signed the document. I believe it will meet stern oposition now that these errors have been surfaced. It will be interesting to see how the SBC handles the statement and what comes of it after the convention.


  2. OK……this is still muddled in my poor little mind. The statement (Article Two) is semi-pelagian (you and I agree, Dr Olson agrees, etc). Noted SBC theologians signed it but deny that it’s semi-pelagian…Nothing new in people re-defining terms in self-defense.

    But, given the above, how can you say those signers are not semi-pelagian? They endorsed a semi-pelagian statement. What’s missing, apart from their own definition-revision? The only defense I can see is: they did not read it; they did not understand what they read. If that’s the case, they need to rescind their endorsement.

    If they continue in their approval of Article Two, regardless of their redefining the term, they must be viewed as semi-pelagian by the classic definition.

    Like you, I’m waiting to see how this plays out. I am still betting on some kind of “walking back” on it. As to Mr Dingess’ question, I’d say it will never make it to the convention in any serious way.

    1. I feel your pain Ed 🙂 I’m employing a hermeneutics of charity even though several of these men have come right out and defended the Statement. I have read other things by some of these guys which encourages me that they believe otherwise. Maybe I’m kidding myself?

  3. The councils of pedophiles are not binding on Protestants. So a bunch of pedophile priests got together in 529 AD and condemned semi-Pelagianism. Big deal. I condemn the pedophile priests. Amen.

    1. I think you’ve got the wrong end of the stick here. I couldn’t care less about Church councils as authorities. It’s the teaching of Semi-Pelagianism as compared to Scripture which is the issue.

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