Baptists and Predestination

This morning in Sunday School (or whatever it is called these days) we continued our discussion on denominational differences.  During the lesson I heard the teacher state that “all Protestant denominations believe in predestination.”

I joined in on the discussion and stated that may not be entirely correct, that Mainline Protestants tend to believe in variations of predestination (it gets complicated), but Evangelicals, in particular, the Southern Baptists do not believe in predestination.  I say this because of my experience in the Southern Baptist Church.  Thus the reason for altar calls, the sinners prayer, the gift of salvation, and the acceptance of Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior among other things.  The teacher then deferred to some materials to support his thought, and class briefly discussed.

As soon as I got home, I decided to see do a little research.  I took a look at my favorite denominational chart, in particle the section titled, “Predestination.” What was listed didn’t seem as clear as I hoped, so I decided to check out what the official site of the Southern Baptist Church says in their Baptist Faith and Message.  In particular, I looked up the areas of Salvation and Grace.  I still didn’t find what I was looking for, so I decided to use the power of The Google.

I found of all things a blog post, but a rather unique one.  It comes from one Southern Baptist pastor who personally accepts predestination, but wrote further on the topic using the Baptist Faith and Message as a guidepost. In short, he says that individuals in the SBC will differ on the thought, but I don’t think he really gave an answer on how the Baptist Faith and Message addresses it specifically.

So this is where I want my Evangelical and Baptist readers to sound off, cause I know many of you are out there.  I would like to know not if you personally believe in predestination, but using the links provided above, in particular the Baptist Faith and Message, do you think the SBC believes in predestination?

I think it’s going to be hard to say what a whole denomination believes because so many individuals within a denomination may differ.

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36 Responses to Baptists and Predestination

  1. Kim says:

    "I seriously doubt there is any official denominational stance on it."

    I am not theologically trained, but I thought the Southern Baptist Convention has no creed, or statement of belief. So there can't be an official stance on predestination (or anything else).

    I am a conservative Lutheran (not ELCA!), and we believe in predestination to grace, but not predestination to damnation. How is that possible? Well, it's not logical, but we believe that's what the Bible teaches.

    • kevinmccue says:

      You can't have an election of grace and not have an election to reprobation, the latter necessarily follows the former. It's clearly taught in Rom 9

  2. John from Colorado says:

    I think the big difference is how people view the relationship between Predestination and Foreknowledge.

    Many modern Baptists believe in predestination, but say predestination is based on God’s foreknowledge of the way each person will freely choose to accept or reject Christ.

    Most reformed churches see predestination as based solely on God’s sovereign will. (Unconditional Election)

  3. Rev. Hart says:

    Disclaimer: I'm a 5-point Calvinist.

    In your second paragraph you seem to imply that people who believe in Predestination would have no need to evangelize. But this is a misconception (a common one). Predestinarians still evangelize and still believe in personal salvation, calls, and so forth. In fact, many argue that Calvin's doctrines call for a heightened urgency in telling the Good News.

    This article (a Calvinism primer) from explains it better than I can.…

    Grace and peace,

    • Marain says:

      I see nothing in this article that explains why Calvinists need to evangelize. If God has already decided who is going to be saved, and if they are saved by His decision and not their own, then evangelizing seems to me to be not only a waste of time, but hypocritical. Preaching the gospel to sinners, while telling them that some of them may already be damned so there's no point, is also cruel. Calvinism turns the Good News from "God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son" to "Congratulations! You may already be a winner in the Salvation lottery!"

  4. Nathan S. says:

    Predestination is one of those hot topics right now that the southern baptista are all stirred up about. Al Mohler, President of Southern Baptist Seminary, holds to Reformed Theology. On the other hand, Pastor Johnny Hunt, of First Baptist Woodstock is adamantly opposed to predestination. Both are prominent southern baptist. I’ve been on staff at my church.. an independent baptist church, for 9 years. I’ve served under two pastors, one who believed in predestination, the other who is opposes it. In short, it all varies from church to church, pastor to pastor. I seriously doubt there is any official denominational stance on it.

  5. jordan fowler says:

    Baptist, of which I have a Masters in Theology from and SBC seminary, differ in their views.

    Mohler and the Southern Seminary guys are more reformed-calvinist other seminaries of the SBC are not. Some denominations are entirely non-electionist while others are.

  6. Brent says:

    Keith, as you know I graduated from SWBTS, but am not Southern Baptist. If I recall correctly, there is no official denominational position on the issue. In fact, I think it was a matter of some disagreement in some of my theology classes. Looking at the link you provided, under article V (God’s Purpose of Grace), the document states that “(Election) is consistent with the free agency of man.” Free agency = free will. Seems like an endorsement of both predestination/election and free will.

    At any rate, it was probably irresponsible for the teacher to state that all Protestants believe in predestination, especially without adequately defining what he/she meant by predestination. In the Evangelical Protestant denomination I grew up in, I know most church members and clergy were decidedly non Calvinist. Like you said, the emphasis on the altar call and on making a “decision” to follow Christ indicate a leaning towards Arminianism for sure.

  7. Tara says:

    I was blessed with parents that were in the ministry and exposed me to a great deal of denominations and views – nearly all evangelical protestant. With that said, this argument has always been difficult for me in that there seems to be different ways in which people understand the concept of predestination. From my experience there are three schools of understanding:

    #1. Those that thing predestination means that God knows and has a hand in determining the fate of souls.

    #2. Those that think predestination means that God knows the fate of souls, but doesn’t have a hand in it beyond setting the criteria for salvation.

    #3. Predestin-what? Who cares it’s not important to salvation and a life of following Christ.

    One is clearly Calvinistic and one is not, but I hear people use the term to mean both things, which is why I generally hate this whole argument.

    I would fall into camps #2 & 3. I believe God is omniscient and so I believe God knows the ultimate outcome of everything. I believe God is omnipotent and has given us free will to accept or reject the offer of salvation. So while while our free will is a creation or subset of God’s omnipotence and will, being all powerful, God has the ability to separate our will from His and it remains so until we chose to offer it back. I also think the salvation plan is simple – predestination is a thought provoking conversation to have, but ultimately not important to “being saved”.

    I agree it’s irresponsible to make a claim that all or nearly all or a majority of protestants think X about predestination. There seems to be too much variation in thought on this subject.

  8. Andy says:

    I agree with Tara on all points.

  9. Paul Clifford says:

    The statement, “all Protestant denominations believe in predestination” is false. Wesleyan demoninations (Methodists, Nazarenes, Wesleyans, etc) don’t. That’s their official stance.

    I went to Southern but left b/c of this sort of thing. I then finished my M.Div. at Asbury Seminary (a methodist school).

    Remember that the Southern Baptist convention is a loose confederation of churches. If one church says it’s Calvinist, it doesn’t violate anything in church rules any more than another being Armenian. The church I grew up in was an Armenian church even though it’s Southern Baptist. To hear Mohler talk, that’s impossible, but then again my church was on the “Don’t go to this one” list for Southern professors (according to my pastor at the time).

    I’m Christian and Missionary Alliance now; I’ve never been happier.


  10. George says:

    I believe what the Bible says about predestination.

  11. George says:

    Ok, so I don’t get flamed… I’m being sarcastic. I definitely don’t believe what the Bible says about it… oh, wait.

  12. nathan S says:

    Kim, the SBC does have a statement of faith

  13. Jill says:

    Thank you Tara…… I was struggling to put into words what I believe… and you did it at 6:30 in the morning!
    But I am Southern Baptist…..and there are many attitudes I do not share with my fellow Baptists…but I do believe that is where God has called me to serve Him.
    I don’t believe there is a perfect religion out there….only a perfect God. And I have so much to learn as I am walking this path.
    Thank you Mr. Geeding I have always believed that any debates are good as they have always challenged me to seek God’s Truth more than just accepting other’s views.

  14. Kendall says:

    All protestants must believe in predestination as it is clearly addressed in scripture. How they interpret the scripture is were the differences lie.

    As a lifelong Southern Baptist, I grew up in a church that did not teach God determined beforehand whom He would save. In fact, I have never attended a Southern Baptist church that did teach that, although there are many out there. Southern Baptists traditionally do not take a stance on “non essential” issues in order to preserve the priesthood of the believer. The Baptist Faith and Message is more a general statement of essential beliefs held by Southern Baptists. The SBC has in recent years moved away from that to some degree by revising the BFM in 2000 to exclude women from pastoral roles within the church and Resolution 5 in 2006 expressing “total opposition to the manufacturing, advertising, distributing, and consuming of alcoholic beverages”.

    However, I am not aware of any resolution taking a stance on predestination. It is a hotly debated topic within the SBC with many influential Southern Baptists on each side of the issue.

    I can say with certainty that the United Methodists, a protestant denomination, have a strictly Armenian view on predestination, so, without splitting hairs as I did at the opening of my comment, do not believe in predestination as it is typically defined.

  15. Timothy says:

    What most people consider predestination is in actuality "double-predestination", i.e. Calvin's elect.

    Christian doctrine from the NT forward has been that man is predestined to heaven unless man opts out via sin. You'll find links to historical Christian writings on predestination here:



    SECTION 1. – Clemens Romanus

    SECTION 2. – Ignatius

    SECTION 3. – Justin

    SECTION 4. – Minutius Felix

    SECTION 5. – Irenaeus

    SECTION 6. – Clemens Alexandrinus

    SECTION 7. – Tertullian

    SECTION 8. – Origenes Alexandrinus

    SECTION 9. – Caecillius Thascius Cyprianus

    SECTION 10. – Novatianus

    SECTION 11. – Athanasius

    SECTION 12. – Hilarius Pictaviensis

    SECTION 13. – Basilius Caesariensis

    SECTION 14. – Cyrillus Hierosolymitanus

    SECTION 15. – Gregorius Nazianzenus

    SECTION 16. – Hilarius Diaconus

    SECTION 17. – Ambrosius Mediolanensis

    SECTION 18. – Joannes Chrysostomus

    SECTION 19. – Hieronymus…

    While its a Catholic source, the following provides a very good summary of the theology and various theories of predestination:

    God bless… +Timothy

  16. dmacattack says:

    It is awesome when you see that another blogger has referenced one of your posts. It looks like many other Southern Baptists that have made comments share my sentiments on this being a divided issue. To address your comment that “I don’t think he really gave an answer on how the Baptist Faith and Message addresses it specifically”…I actually state in my post that I believe it reads as if the SBC believes in predestination based on foreknowledge. The commenter John hit the nail right on the head. This is still considered predestination, however it disqualifies it as Calvinism due to it supporting conditional election. I have moved to Kansas City from Kentucky since the post you referenced and there are many more Southern Baptist in this area that believe in predestination and even Calvinism versus KY. It is more than likely due to the influence of the Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Here are a few other posts that I have that are somewhat relative.

  17. Jay says:

    I have read mountains on this subject and I have never heard it put better. Tara you are a blessing.

  18. Blair Fraser says:

    There are two paths to Salvation in Scripture, one is the elect or 144,000 which is 12,000 each from the 12 Tribes, all Jews, no Gentiles. The second is Free Will, given as a gift from God, through Jesus Christ and moved in us by the Holy Spirit or Ghost. Since the Psalms God has forgotten our trangrssions and flung them as far as the east is from the west and once forgotten cannoy be recalled for any moments of damnation.

  19. Marci says:

    1 John 1:5 states that "God is light and in Him is no darkness at ALL." As a Christian, I take God's word at face value; therefore, to me the word ALL means all, not part. I believe that the devil knows scripture and uses it out of context to cover our eyes from the truth. Ezekial 33:11 states, "As I live, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live." Also, John 3:16 states, "For God so loved the world that he sent his only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life." WHOSOEVER…again, literally means ANYONE and EVERYONE…not simply CHOSEN ones. How can God be light, if he creates people who will never get a chance at salvation? That is not the loving God I serve. I, by the way, attend a Southern Baptist Church, but I am a CHRISTIAN. I serve a God of love, a God of light, and a God of forgiveness who desires a relationship with men (which is why we were created). Some Calvanists believe that He had a hand in the fall of Eden. How can he create sin and hate and admonish it at the same time? I believe we are predestined as far as God ultimately knows the decision we will make, but I will never believe that he will deny any human the right to have a relationship with him if they accept Jesus Christ as their Savior and DESIRE that relationship. Why else would he command the Great Commission?

  20. Dr. James Willingham says:

    Der Sir: When I was a child growing up in Arkansas on a sharecropper's farm, the local church where my grandfather attended had a pastor who preached Sovereign Grace. Bro. George Washington Gray was an elderly farmer preacher who epitomized that type of a Southern Baptist minister described by Dr. William Warren Sweet, a Methodist historian at th Univ. of Chicago in his Story of Religion in America. After my conversion from atheism in St. Louis some years later and a call to the ministry, I was ordained by a pastor who was a supralapsarian, hyper-calvinist (his terms used in the pulpit and person to person to describe himself). Dr. Ernest R. Campbell pastored some good sized churches, including Calvary Baptist in St. Louis, FBC Hialeah, Fl. among others. He had a Ph.D. from Bob Jones U, founded the American Race Track Chaplaincy (cf. Who's Who in Religion. 2nd edn. Chicago, Il:Marquis Pubs., 1977. Dr. Robert G. Lee thought so much of Dr. Cambpell he put it in his will for Dr. Camnpbell to preach his funeral. Dr. Campbell was a tremendous preacher, soul winner, and revivalist. I came to Sovereign Grace on my own by doing the exegesis of the Greek and Hebrew for relevant passages and by doing research in church history and Baptist history, especially (6 yrs.) I found out that the theology of the First and Second Great Awakenings and the launching of the Great Century of Missions was the theology of Sovereign Grace, the theology of evangelism, missions, liberty, and hopes for the future. Oe f my ancestors, a Holland Middleton made the Alabama Bapt. History by Henry Holcomb, circa 1830s. I am aslo related to the Craigs, one of whom made the deal for religious liberty in Va. A descendant o his was a personal friend. I have seved as chairman of the Historical Committee of the Sandy Creek Baptist Assn. and the Baptist State Convention of NC. Our founders were Sovereign Grace or calvinists in their soteriology. Predestination is an invitation to begin one's spiritual pilgrimage. Jesus gave a paradoxical invitation to a woman who was not a Jew with these words, "I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel." Her response wasto worship him. Every point of the TULIP outline is an invitation along with Reprobation. The liberal allowance of differences began with the calvinistic preachers of Virginia in the Union of Separate and Regular Baptists. They adopted the view that the preaching that Christ tasted death for every man shall be no barrier to communion. The Sovereign Grace truths that had produced the First and Second Great Awakenings and inspired the great mission effort nearly took the whole world for Christ, an it scared the powers that be so bad that they sent in people to polrize and divide the movement in order to stop that Awakening. Now for 37 years in one case and over 50 in another people are praying for another Great Awakening, the Third one, the one that wins the whole earth for one generaton and the for another. Of course, in order to have such a visitation, you need the right theology. So God is raising up believers in such truths who will find that it moves them to go after the whole world for the sake of Christ Jesus our Lord. Remember Abraham must have a seed as numerous as the stars of heaven, the dust of the earth, and the sand by the seashore. Spurgeon in his Aug 6th and Dec.24th Evening devotions prayed for the whole earth to be converted. Quite a thing for a Calvinist, don't you think? In fact, the theology of grace, that is, the truths of it, are all two-sided, apparently contradictory, designed to set up a tension in our minds that will empower us to be balanced, flexible, creative, and magnetic. Paradoxes are the means of empowerment and enablement. The tsunami wave, the flood of the Awakening is coming. Are you ready?

  21. ann caffrey says:

    why don't preachers own up and say they know nothing about predestination or they do know and wont teach the truths which are so clear in scripture if they take the time to study the greek text. had i known these truths so many years ago i would not have been ripped off financially or fellowship with people who were predestined for destruction how can we say we have free will when we are dead spiritually no one can accept Christ as saviour we are dead unless we are quickened by God or birthed by God and become alive can we ask jesus to save us.

  22. ann caffrey says:

    God has predestinate vessels of mercy to be conformed to the image and likeness of jesus ,and God ordained vessels of wrath fitted for destruction.there is only one teacher that i know of who is teaching these truths and can easily be contacted on

  23. angela says:

    I totally agree with Marci. Well put.

  24. Lincoln Jacquett says:

    If one does not believe God elect and predestine people to Salvation then he or she does not understand grace and then he or she cannot believe in spiritual death dead people cannot bring themselves to life all who are saved and will be saved is by the mercy of God he choose to regenerate people and give us a new heart a new desire and when he regenerates a person they freely comes to him because that is the desire of His or her will.

  25. Marquentas says:

    Predestination, God pre-determined that ALL who accept Him will have everlasting life. That's it. Period.

    • kevinmccue says:

      No, that would be "for WHAT (meaning; forseen faith) he did forknow, rather it's for WHOM (a person) he did foreordain to eternal life and thus they believed BECAUSE they were chosen not that they were chosen because they believed Acts 13:48 Now this is the Gospel of Grace, any other gospel is cursed and they who follow it Gal 1 Arminianism and Calvinism is not an "in house" debate. No the Arminians (free-willers) were kicked out of the house as heretics at the Synod of the 1600s

    • Bev says:

      You are correct!

  26. Mamatoots says:

    Marci's reply (88 wks ago) and Marquestas' reply (20 hours ago) state the answer quite simply for me: God loves me, God knows me, God desires me to be in relationship w/ Him. It is my choice to accept His grace through faith or to reject it. The "predestined" part of that is: I was created to be in relationship w/ God. If I choose HIM, I spend eternity w/ HIM, if I refuse HIM, I spend eternity separated from HIM. I've made my choice……………see ya' in heaven!!!!

  27. k.mann says:

    heres my parable of what i believe–and i am a life long southern baptist—theres a train that will only hold a certain number of people. this is because GOD knows how many people will decide to pick up their ticket and board the train. CHRIST has purchased a ticket for EVERYONE, but not everyone will claim their ticket, because they think that if they work hard enough, they can save enough money to purchase their own ticket. BUT NOBODY can afford the price of the ticket, because the price of the ticket is PERFECTION, so their works are in vain. only CHRIST is perfect, and only HE can take away our sin and imperfection, so only HE can pay the price for our ticket. (read next post to finish the story)

  28. k.mann says:

    Enter text right hereso there are enough tickets for EVERYONE, but since GOD in HIS foreknowledge knows how many will repent (change their minds about trying to purchase their own ticket and surrendering to the fact that CHRIST has already paid the price), then the number of seats on the train is fixed at that number. the train represents the church–the elect–so the CHURCH is predestined, NOT individuals –GOD IS NOT WILLING THAT ANY SHOULD PERISH BUT THAT ALL (all means ALL) should come to repentance. the train WILL reach the destination that GOD has predestined it to reach–the destination is this—that all who are on the train (the church) will be conformed to the image if HIS SON, and ultimately be received into glory as the bride of CHRIST. if you want to be in the elect, then run for the office and GOD will elect you! his vote is the only one that counts in this election!

  29. William Pacelli says:

    If predestination were true and God decides who goes to heaven or hell when we die then there would have been no reason for Jesus to suffer and die for us on a cross. There would be no reason for God to give us the Gospels. We could all live a daily life of sin. It wouldn't matter one bit. We wouldn't have to get baptized, or take holy communion or even have churches. In fact, we wouldn't have to even like God. We wouldn't even have to believe in God. I could go on and on but I think I've said enough to make anyone reading this realize there is no such thing as predestination. Does God know the outcome of everyone's life? Yes. But He let's us make our own decisions .We are not robots are we? If predestination were true then we would be nothing but robots. Anyone with a normal, logical thinking mind knows there is no predestination. If anyone still believes in predestination after reading this, well, I don't want to call you stupid. So, I'll just say you are ignorant, my friend. Talk to someone about this. Meditate on it. Pray on it. The holy spirit will enter into any born again Christian and with His help logic will then convince you otherwise. Amen!

  30. Taylor says:

    The Southern Baptists I've encountered believe in predestination-that God has predestined a certain number of people ("The Elect") to heaven and everyone else is going to Hell. I attended a Southern Baptist school for 9 years and they taught us this one time in bible class and and another time in a chapel service. My family and I also attended a Southern Baptist church for 2 years. The pastor actually gave a sermon about how predestination is supposedly biblical. After that sermon we stopped going. Then again I also have a grandmother and an aunt and uncle who are all Southern Baptists and as far as I know none of them believe in predestination. So, I think generally Southern Baptists believe in predestination, but not every Southern Baptist does.

  31. Bill says:

    Free will and predestination are both taught in the scriptures. It's not a choice between one or the other if one accepts all of the Bible to be inspired of God. The issue is the explanation of predestination. First, let's look at free will:

    -Free will: God has given humans the ability to select or reject Jesus Christ as their Savior- "whoever believes" John 3:16, 3:18, 3:36, etc. Scripture does does say when the elect believes; if one interprets these verses in that manner they are adding words to the Bible that are not there.

    -Predestination: Let me illustrate it in this way- God has determined all people in group A are bound for heaven and all in group B are bound for hell. He has predetermined the destination of each group but has not selected who is in each one. By free will I believe in Christ as Savior and therefore become a member of group A that is predestined for heaven. If one goes through life not trusting Jesus Christ as their Savior then they end up in group B and are predetermined to go to hell because that group is, not the individual himself/ herself.

    In Christ, Bill

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