Do Southern Baptists believe in free will?

Before becoming “saved”, do most people who became Southern Baptists believe they have a free will? If so, upon being saved, do they now no longer believe they have a “free will”? This has always puzzled me about the doctrine of “once saved, always saved”.

Southern Baptists have quite a variety of opinions on a great number of matters such as free will. You need to remember that Southern Baptist Churches are each somewhat independent and directed by its deacons. And the annual convention is often not fully united.

Once-saved-always-saved means that if you 100% meant that sinner’s prayer of repentance and asked Jesus to come into your heart (you wanted Jesus more than anything else), then Jesus did come in and no he won’t leave you. That is why they think you cannot lose your salvation. John 1:12 – if you were born as somebody’s child can you undo it? Revelation 3:20. John 3:16. And other verses.

But those who think free will I am sure think you always have a free will. It is just that Jesus won’t leave you if indeed He came in.

That having been said, I am now in RCIA. I am “in formation” and not perfected yet in my understanding of Catholic theology. I do understand, however, that Roman Catholics believe you can sin (mortal sin) where you walk away from God and He lets you go.

Southern Baptists believe that a “saved” man has the freedom of will to commit any sin that he feels like committing without any possibility of incurring eternal damnation.

The “unsaved” man would have the same freedom of will to commit sin as a “saved” man, but the “unsaved” man would be one of the damned because he never said the “sinners prayer” and accepted Jesus as his own personal Lord and Savior.

There is a 100% disconnect in the Southern Baptist religion between salvation and moral behavior. Southern Baptists believe that moral behavior is a good thing, to be sure. But Southern Baptists do not believe that manifesting moral behavior is in any way necessary for salvation.

The Southern Baptist flavor of OSAS is the heresy of antinomianism. It is the Calvinst flavor of OSAS that is entangled in heresies involving free will.

[quote=Lucy]Before becoming “saved”, do most people who became Southern Baptists believe they have a free will? If so, upon being saved, do they now no longer believe they have a “free will”? This has always puzzled me about the doctrine of “once saved, always saved”.
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It is not a doctrine of Southern Baptist’s but will vary from church to church and member to member. I have met some that were totally free will, to the point that they did not believe once saved always saved and some that were so Calvinistic they could corner the TULIP market.

[quote=Matt16_18]But Southern Baptists do not believe that manifesting moral behavior is in any way necessary for salvation.

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An illustration of how opinions do vary.

As a Baptist, I figured that if somebody didn’t change as a result of getting Jesus then their full intention in the prayer wasn’t present. Or there was something that they still wanted more than they wanted Jesus (lack of repentance). And as a result they weren’t “saved”. If somebody did get “saved”, they would have a longing for the things of God. And having the Holy Spirit (Jesus Christ) in them would result in a change. This is where they are “separated brethren”. In many cases, Jesus Christ has changed people’s lives. I don’t think you can argue against that even as a Catholic.

Lucy: I see that you are new. I suppose this thread should have been started in “Non-Catholic Religions” instead of “Apologetics”. And when you start a new thread, it is a good idea to do a search to see if the topic has already existed.

‘I do understand, however, that Roman Catholics believe you can sin (mortal sin) where you walk away from God and He lets you go.’

‘He lets you go’ puts it in a false light, i think. the church teaches that we do still have free will, and that what we DO is related to our salvation. it’s not a matter of His having me, and then letting me go. it’s a matter of my walking away from Him, as He continues constantly to seek saving me, and my refusing to let Him.

‘In many cases, Jesus Christ has changed people’s lives. I don’t think you can argue against that even as a Catholic.’

on the contrary, catholics i think would be the first to say that Jesus changes people’s lives. were, in fact, the first. :slight_smile:

with a degree in baptist theology, but as a convert to catholicism, i can give you the 411 on the perspective. :slight_smile: baptists, as has been mentioned, do not all adhere to the same creed. so it’s difficult to say what ‘baptists’ believe. but for the most part, the baptist church teaches that once you’ve been saved, you’ve been turned into a son of God, made a new creation, been born again, are a new man. as such, you cannot ‘unbecome’ a christian, so you cannot ‘lose’ your salvation.

they don’t understand that salvation is a process. they ignore verses that say we ‘work out our salvation with fear and trembling’ or that say ‘so you see it’s by works that you’re justified and not by faith alone’. they reinterpret the words of Jesus, when He (i think pretty clearly) says that what we DO affects where we GO. what we do unto the least of these our brethren, we do unto Him. and, based on what we’ve done to Him, we either go into eternal reward, or eternal punishment. most of His parables indicate a strong relationship between our actions and our destinations.

i know the frustration, both first hand and from my friends, of believing that i’m a new creation, but also knowing, even if i don’t want to admit it, that i still sin. why don’t i act like a christian if i’m a new creation?? the reason? i’m working out my salvation with fear and trembling.

does that make sense?

As usual, Matt presents a caricature of non-Catholics. There are Southern Baptists who hold this view. There are others who are thorough-going Calvinists, but there are lots in the middle, who think that people have the free will to come to Christ but that anyone who has once received grace will receive the gift of perseverance. There is nothing at all illogical about this view–it’s just that the Biblical and traditional evidence doesn’t support it . . . .

In Christ,

Edwin

You rightly note that there is a wide variety in how different Baptist (SBC) interpret the Bible. I had a professor, among others that did not believe in once saved always saved, based on the passage in Hebrews. Also, when I was a youth minister just out of college, I had one man that got red-in-the-face angry because I would not convert to a Calvinistic view on total depravity and double predestination.

Southern Baptists have a very strange attitude towards doctrine. There is no official doctrine that a member of the Southern Baptist religion must confess, and the Southern Baptists take pride in this fact. (Of course, after they pat themselves on the back about their lack of doctrine, they will then engage in viscous internecine warfare about what doctrine will be taught at SBC colleges).

I know that Southern Baptists interpret the Bible in all sorts of diverse ways, and with millions of Southern Baptists privately interpreting scriptures, it is quite impossible to say what Southern Baptists believe without making generalizations.

That said, I am speaking from my own personal experience with Southern Baptists. All the Southern Baptists that I know are antinomian heretics. If one were to ask if it was possible for a “saved” man to commit any sin that would bring about his damnation, the Southern Baptists that I personally know would say that would be impossible. The whole OSAS heresy rests on the false doctrine that a “saved” man cannot lose his salvation by sinning. OSAS is the central belief of Southern Baptists, and their interpretation of scriptures is filtered through an unquestioning belief that OSAS is true.

Southern Baptists don’t deny that “saved” men and women can become “backsliders”. If a saved backslider were to die unrepentant in their backslid condition, they would still enter heaven. Some Southern Baptists believe that unrepentant backsliders will have to suffer a punishing divine wrath before they enter heaven (the Baptist version of Purgatory). The Baptist version of Purgatory is not by any means a widely accepted belief among all Southern Baptists. Many Southern Baptists believe that unrepentant backsliders go straight to Heaven, and their punisment would be that they won’t receive as many rewards in Heaven as the godly Baptists.

Thank you all for your input. And for letting me know I should have discussed this in the non-catholic religion forum. It never occurred to me to do a search. I’m new to this as you noted.

It’s very difficult for me to grasp the concept that before one’s conversion one is free to accept or reject God but that if at some point in their life, one experiences conversion and are “saved”, that from that point on, they are no longer free to change their mind.

I know once a child is born, they are always one’s child but the child is capable of acting in such a way in life that he could merit disinheritance. They would still be related by flesh and blood, but would not share in the “rewards” of inheritance. It’s been explained to me in matters of salvation that such a person was never saved in the first place, but what does that do to the belief in “eternal security”? It makes no sense to me.

‘they were never really saved to begin with’ is the baptist way of explaining someone who recants their faith.

we catholics would agree, to some extent. they WEREN’T saved, at least not completely saved, just like the baptists say. they BEGAN the process of their salvation, but didn’t complete it.

the issue comes to one of punctiliar vs process salvation. we catholics also believe OSAS. but we believe that ‘once saved’ is when we die, not when we pray ‘the sinner’s prayer’.

:That said, I am speaking from my own personal experience with Southern Baptists. All the Southern Baptists that I know are antinomian heretics.:

Actually that doesn’t surprise me. Many of them are. However, the more thoughtful and theologically educated ones would hold something closer to the Calvinist view–and in many cases are genuine Calvinists. Now this still might count as “antinomian” in your view, in the sense that someone might happen to die in what Catholics would regard as a “state of mortal sin” and still go to heaven. But in this more orthodox Baptist view, if such a person had lived, he/she would have repented.

Evangelicals generally hold to the “fundamental option” theory which was rejected by the Catholic Church in recent decades. I really think that’s the best way to understand “sola fide.” For those evangelicals who don’t believe OSAS, the “fundamental option” (i.e., saving faith) can be lost (some of us believe that it can be lost by one act, which is basically the orthodox Catholic view). For OSAS, the fundamental option once adopted is permanent–God grants the gift of perseverance to all the regenerate. But in the Baptist view, someone could commit a serious sin and still go to heaven before repenting–what OSAS guarantees is that the “fundamental option” is still there. This, however, will eventually bring a person back to repentance, assuming that untimely death doesn’t cut them off.

What I’m trying to say, in my wordy way, is that Baptist antinomianism (as held by Southern Baptists generally) essentially amounts to saying that someone who dies suddenly without a chance to repent can still go to heaven. In the more orthodox versions of Baptist belief, a long-term hardened resistance to grace is a clear sign that the person was never regenerate in the first place. This view is not, in my opinion, genuinely antinomian. But as you’ve noticed, antinomianism does hold sway among many Baptists.

One other note–both the more Calvinist Baptists and the extreme fundamentalist “independent” Baptists are generally less antinominan than regular old Southern Baptists. (The position of northern “American Baptists” I do not know.)

In Christ,

Edwin

[quote=Lucy]It’s very difficult for me to grasp the concept that before one’s conversion one is free to accept or reject God but that if at some point in their life, one experiences conversion and are “saved”, that from that point on, they are no longer free to change their mind.
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Most Southern Baptists don’t believe that grace destroys free will. That belief is much more common among the hyper-Calvinist fundamentalists. The hyper-Calvinists build their version of OSAS around the false doctrine of “irresistible grace”.

There are really two distinct flavors of OSAS. The Southern Baptist flavor is typically the heresy of antinomianism – God will never damn a “saved” man for his sins, even unrepentant mortal sins. The hyper-Calvinist flavor of OSAS is the other extreme. In this flavor of OSAS, God despises sin, and sends irresistible grace to the “elect”, which turns the elect into holy meat robots without free will.

[quote=jeffreedy789]‘they were never really saved to begin with’ is the baptist way of explaining someone who recants their faith.
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“They were never really saved to begin with” is the baptist way of saying that they really don’t believe in OSAS. It betrays the fact that they believe that men always have the freedom of to commit sin, and that a man’s salvation is dependent upon living a moral life.

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