JACKSON, Tenn. – Oct. 5, 2010 – In an effort to transcend the debate between Calvinists and Arminians over the doctrine of election, Richard Land says he has developed a system to bridge the divide between the two camps.
Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, spoke to a group of Union University faculty, staff and students Oct. 4 as part of the annual fall colloquium of the School of Theology and Missions.
“My goal was to find a model of election that would allow me, or any preacher, to expound every verse of Scripture with equal confidence and not have to soft pedal or ignore those passages which are problematic to one view or the other,” Land said.
He gave an overview of Baptist history in America and Southern Baptist history, and discussed what Southern Baptists have typically believed about the doctrine of election.
Land outlined his model for election, which he termed “eternal now election,” and said it is a position close to that expressed in the Baptist Faith and Message and the New Hampshire Confession of Faith. Land used the acronym DESIRE to summarize his views: disabling depravity, “eternal now” election, sufficient salvation, initiatory call of conviction, regenerative grace and eternal security.
“I believe in election,” Land said. “I do not believe you can put yourself under the authority of Scripture and not believe in election.”
But Land said that even though Scripture affirms that God elects certain people for salvation, he makes a distinction between what he calls “Abrahamic election,” which is a corporate election in which God chose the nation of Israel, and “salvation election,” which is an individual election.
He also said the doctrine of election is “clearly a paradox in the Scripture,” in that while the Bible affirms election, it also affirms that evangelism and preaching make a difference when it comes to winning lost people to Christ.
He said the goal should be a “both-and” approach and not an “either-or” approach when it comes to harmonizing Scripture.
Land said he is developing these themes for a forthcoming publication.