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Herschel Hobbs

Herschel Hobbs (1907-).

Herschel received his seminary training from Samford and Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY, where he received his PH.D. He was named valedictorian of his Th.M. class, even though he had borne the weight of seminary pastorates (American Baptist) in Southern Indiana.

Hobbs will likely be best and longest remembered for his work as chairman of the committee which produced the 1963 version of The Baptist Faith and Message. This version, as well as its 1925 predecessor, was born in controversy. In Hobb’s words, it served to “anchor the moorings” in the face of liberalism and modernism. In the 1960s Hobb’s committee labored in the storm over faithfulness to the biblical account in seminary teaching. While Hobb’s compared the Christian’s use of Creeds with tying a cow to a post where it can graze in a circle as the rope grows shorter, eventually allowing the cow is so tightly against the post it can neither get away nor graze, he both sat on the committee to create a Creed and defended the enterprise of distilling denominatonal beliefs for “general instruction and guidance” concerning who Baptists are. He also stated that Baptists have no business using The Baptist Faith and Message or similar documents as a test for church membership.

Hobbs has a strong commitment to soul competency,

Baptists oftentimes forget that our basic Baptist belief is not the infallibility of the Scriptures as some call it. It is not even the deity of Jesus Christ, though I believe in the inerrancy of the Scriptures and believe in the deity of Jesus Christ without question. The basic belief of Baptists is the competency of the soul in religion. When we forget that, then we get into all kinds of trouble. When I mention that nowadays, young preachers look at me like a calf looking at a new gate.

TRR Note: It seems rather odd that a person who did not like creedal statements assisted in the creation of a Baptist creedal statement (1963 Baptist Faith and Message) and created his own creedal statement (above) where the competency of the believer’s ability to interpret scripture is “seemingly” placed above the authority of that same scripture.

Hobbs consistently distanced himself from the label, “fundamentalist.” He chose to call himself a “progressive conservative” and positioned himself as a center-of-the-road man. He affirmed “progressive revelation” which refers not to God’s ability to reveal, but to man’s ability to receive the revelation. It is not strange then that Hobbs would hold to only one of the five traditional points of Calvinism, the perseverance of the saints. Hobbs believed though the believer would squander his chances for strategic usefulness at his own Kadesh-barnea, he would never be in danger of falling away from his salvation. Hobbs did not agree with the doctrines of unconditional election and irresistible grace. Hobbs demonstrated the typical contradictory confusion when attempting to refute Calvinistic doctrine in that he believed election is a matter of God’s choosing and that God’s purpose in election was not to save only a few but as many as “possible”. He suggested that the only limitation comes at the point of man’s choice and not at the point of God’s decision (and yet, election is a matter of God’s choosing?, TRR comment). Hobbs believed man’s nature was only “inclined toward sin”, not in bondage to sin. It is quite possible that Hobbs is largely responsible for moving Baptists away from their Calvinistic foundational doctrines to a more semi-Pelagian view known as Arminianism. However, that is hotly debated since he did not hold to a believer losing his salvation, which, in this writer’s opinion, only leads to more contradictory confusion.

Taken, in part, from “Baptist Theologians”,

Timothy S. George and David S. Dockery


Source [Reformed Reader]

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