30 Years Ago, A Southern Baptist Atonement Debate

At the height of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Inerrancy Controversy (1979-2000), SBC theologians Paige Patterson and Fisher Humphreys consented to a debate over the nature of the atonement at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary on October 19, 1987.

Often overlooked by those who examine the doctrinal skirmishes within evangelicalism in late twentieth century, the Humphreys/Patterson debate reveals some of the depth of what was in play in SBC theological life. While somewhat an intramural contest among Southern Baptists, the arguments volleyed were well known to the watching evangelical world. Indeed, the essence of the discussion remains and therefore a worthwhile exercise exists in the examination of this dispute.

Therefore, to mark the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the Humphreys/Patterson debate, the Midwestern Journal of Theology is making available today a special preview of an article I wrote for the forthcoming Fall 2017 issue, due out later this year.

The article, “Humphreys/Patterson—1987: A Southern Baptist Debate on the Atonement,” seeks to provide the historical setting of the events that led to the debate, the content of the debaters’ arguments on the atonement, and an analysis of the significance of the debate both for the SBC in 1987 and for evangelicals inside and outside the SBC in the present day.

You can find the special preview of my article here: http://www.mbts.edu/journalpreview.