Note.....The following started out as a comment to be put up on Wade's blog but got too wordy. I post it here in response to the idea put forth by a Seminary President that he would not have anyone on faculty who could not look every person in the eye and say "Jesus died for you." My main point is to show why it is dangerous to make a belief statement that will not allow for a bit of variation as to how someone might see or say a point of theology. That Jesus died for the purpose of declaring God Righteous in saving whomever He saves and just to do so is not the issue. That Jesus died for sinners is not the issue. The categoical statement that was made I see a little bit differently than does that Seminary President. My view follows.
With respect to missions and evangelism [ie.. telling people what Jesus did at the Cross and what happens to anyone who receives the truth of that message] what I'm about to say I've believed all my converted life and have practiced as a Southern Baptist pastor/teacher for fifty three years of ministry.
I'm also a...[boy I hate labels but for clarity sake I'll use one.]....five-point Calvinist and have been longer than most of you have been alive. But here goes...perhaps nothing.
I would never stand before a human being and say "Jesus DID NOT die for you." I WOULD stand before every human being and say Jesus died for sinners. If YOU are WILLING to recognize you are one and are WILLING to call upon Him as Lord and Savior you WILL be saved." No one IS saved because they are elected or IS NOT saved because they are not elected. [And I believe in election.] Anyone who is ever saved will be so because of the finished work of Christ that is received as a broken, repentant sinner.
Where in the scripture does it say or proclaim that anyone has the right/responsibility to stand before anyone and say "Jesus DIDN'T die for you" OR to say or proclaim that "Jesus DID die for you?" [Every textual reference I read that says "Jesus died for you" is said to people AFTER they have experienced His grace.] We do have the right /responsibility to stand before all peoples and tell them who Jesus is and that He did die for sinners and that He has given the command to repent and call upon Him in faith to every person.
Whether they know why they are willing to repent and believe [It was good thinking on their part or God caused them to think in the first place.] or whether they believe they were chosen before the foundation of the world because God looked down through time and saw they would believe or whether God made the choice Himself for His own reasons, or whether they know the faith they've excercised is a gift in and of itself or the natural ability of fallen people that is of itself without merit, makes no difference in the presentation of the gospel to them. Those are all things we can study, debate, teach as we understand them. But no view one holds on these just stated issues alters the need for the gospel being presented and believed by the hearer. Also, that presentation of the gospel can be done cooperatively as a Convention unless we start demanding uniformity of doctrines [except our belief in the power of the gospel] instead of unity of the Spirit because of our Christ/Cross/Tomb agreement.
Now I could begin to show why I believe God chose of His own will BEFORE the world began and why I believe faith IS a gift and why I believe regeneration brings about an ability to believe.....ad infinitum. But that is for the growth of believers.
Someone may say, "Reconcile the seeming contradiction between the point of the fourth paragraph, especially the last sentence of it, with the statement of the sixth paragraph." Ummmmmm...I think I'll just be satisfied with the clear biblical antinomy, since both are scripturally based, with no "seemingly true" about it. They both are true. Father will have to make all our theology perfectly clear when we get home one day. Until then I'll trust His Word to be true and continue to grow in my understanding of that Word while telling ALL people Jesus died for sinners and if you will repent and trust Him you WILL be one of those sinners that will be saved.