A Selective Review and Critique of Whomever He Wills – Part 1

August 10, 2012

By David L. Allen

David L. Allen is Professor of Preaching, George W. Truett Chair of Ministry, Director of the Southwestern Center for Expository Preaching, and Dean of the School of Theology at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Dr. Allen is co-author of Whosoever Will: a Biblical-Theological Critique of Five-Point Calvinism.

 

Matthew Barrett and Thomas Nettles, eds. Whomever He Wills: a Surprising Display of Sovereign Mercy (Cape Coral, FL: Founders Press, 2012), 401 pgs.

Whomever He Wills (hereafter WHW) is the latest installment and a welcome addition in the ongoing discussion in the Southern Baptist Convention over the subject of Calvinism. Published by Founders Ministries, with Dr. Tom Ascol as Executive Director, the book is, in part, a response to David L. Allen & Steve W. Lemke, eds., Whosoever Will: a Biblical-Theological Critique of Five-Point Calvinism, published in 2010 (hereafter Whosoever). WHW is co-edited by Dr. Tom Nettles, Professor of Historical Theology at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and Dr. Matthew Barrett, Assistant Professor of Christian Studies at California Baptist University. This multiple-part review/critique is “selective” in that I will not address most chapters in the book, and it is a “critique” in that I will be evaluating the arguments of those I do address.

WHW contains a foreword by Dr. Timothy George, Dean of Beeson Divinity School; a preface by Fred Zaspel, pastor of Reformed Baptist Church in Franconia, PA; and an introduction by the co-editors. Thirteen chapters comprise the book, divided into two parts. Chapters 1 – 9 are introduced with a sermon on Revelation 5:1-14 by Dr. Steve Lawson, pastor of Christ’s Fellowship Baptist Church in Mobile, AL.; followed by five chapters, each addressing one of the letters of the traditional Calvinist TULIP acrostic; and three chapters dealing with the issues of determinism and human freedom, God’s sovereignty over evil, and evangelism and missions in Calvinism. Part Two contains four chapters dealing with Calvin’s understanding of the atonement, sovereign grace and evangelism in the preaching of Bunyan, the SBC and evangelical Calvinism, and the impact of Calvinism upon local Baptist churches. The book contains an index of People and Places along with a Scriptural index.

I was especially interested in reading this book since it is, in part, a response to Whosoever which I co-edited with Dr. Steve Lemke, Provost and Professor of Philosophy and Ethics at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. Indeed, placing the books side by side, one readily observes they are virtually parallel in title, structure and content. The title of Whosoever is taken from John 3:16 and Revelation 22:17, key verses impinging on the character of God and the extent of the atonement. The title WHW is taken from Romans 9:18, a key verse in Calvinist theology likewise impinging on the character and sovereignty of God. Whosoever contains a foreword, preface, introduction, and eleven chapters divided into two parts. Part One is introduced by a sermon (John 3:16); followed by five chapters covering each of the petals of TULIP. Part Two consists of five chapters dealing with key aspects of Calvinism. WHW follows the identical format, with two additional chapters covering aspects of Calvinism. Both books are structured in a clear, easy-to-follow manner, and both contain clear, concise footnotes which allow readers to pursue other sources along with evidence/argumentation in a more detailed fashion. Southern Baptist pastors, laypeople, and scholars alike would find these works helpful in delineating the theological differences over a subject that is often confusing, even to the initiated.

A comparison of the authors in both works reveals similarities and differences. Both books contain chapters written by current or former pastors, and college and seminary professors, all of whom are Baptists. Of the eleven authors in Whosoever, current faculty from three of the six Southern Baptist seminaries is represented: New Orleans, Southeastern, and Southwestern. Authors include two former SBC Presidents, a seminary president, the president of the SBC Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, two seminary Vice-Presidents/Provosts, and two Deans. Though the TULIP acrostic remains problematic as a theological measuring stick for a number of reasons, we will nonetheless retain its use for purposes of this review. The authors of Whosoever adhere to as few as two points and as many as four points of the TULIP acrostic. Whosoever does not include any “Arminian” contributors.

The fifteen contributors (including foreword and preface) to WHW include six pastors, one associate pastor, six seminary professors (including one Dean and two who are also pastors), one college professor, and one PhD student. Of these fifteen, twelve are associated with Southern Seminary in Louisville in that they taught, currently teach, are PhD candidates, or earned their PhD from the seminary. (Drs. Nettles and Ascol both earned PhDs from Southwestern Seminary.) In addition, as far as I am able to ascertain, all but one of the authors are five-point Calvinists. Dr. Bruce Ware is a moderate Calvinist who rejects limited atonement.

In this review, it is my intent only to consider the content of the Foreword, Preface, and Introduction. A comparison of these is quite instructive. The forewords are remarkably similar in tone and content. Timothy George authored the foreword for WHW and Johnny Hunt wrote for Whosoever. Both are well known statesmen in the SBC. Both stake out irenic ground, and both achieve success.

The prefaces in each work are of a similar length and both are written by systematic theologians. James Leo Garrett wrote the preface for Whosoever. Garrett is an icon in Southern Baptist life as the Distinguished Professor of Theology Emeritus at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He has taught theology at both Southern Seminary and Southwestern Seminary. Garrett’s preface generally covers the following ground: Dort and Baptists in the 17th century; Calvinism in the SBC and his personal career pilgrimage from student to professor emeritus; the neo-Calvinist movement since the 1980s; the varieties of Calvinism; acknowledgment that there has been a major strand of Calvinism in SB life [at the conclusion of this paragraph Garrett wrote: “Such issues need to be approached in a reflective and irenic spirit, not in a hostile, polemical fashion. The contributors to this volume have sought to do this” (xi)]; a brief one to two sentence summary of each chapter; and a concluding statement: “All who wish to consider seriously the role of Calvinism in Baptist life today can find stimulation in these pages, which in turn invite further discussion and dialogue” (xii). Though Garrett is not a Calvinist, one will not find a scintilla of a hint that he is biased in any way in what he says. As evidenced by his two-volume magnum opus on systematic theology, Garrett maintains a descriptive approach and achieves balance in his preface.

The preface in WHW was written by Dr. Fred Zaspel, pastor and adjunct professor of Systematic Theology at Calvary Baptist Seminary in Pennsylvania. Like Garrett, Dr. Zaspel is an accomplished author. His first paragraph speaks of the legendary B. B. Warfield who argued “that if a Theist allows the necessary implications of the Theism he has already embraced, he must be a Calvinist. . . . [S]oteriological Calvinism is but the implicate, the necessary consequence of Theism.” In his second paragraph, Dr. Zaspel states: “Moreover, soteriological Calvinism is the embodiment of the prophet Jonah’s declaration, ‘Salvation is of the Lord!’ (Jonah 2:9). It is the outworking of the proposition that salvation is God’s doing, that it is His gracious gift to undeserving sinners, and that He saves in such a way that only He receives the glory for it (1 Corinthians 1:26-31; Ephesians 2:8-10).” Then follows this statement: “If we adhere to these propositions we are Calvinists” (xv).

Dr. Zaspel avows that Calvinists embrace soteriological Calvinism “ultimately, because we find it to be taught us in the Scriptures” (Ibid.). His next paragraph develops the notion that the discussion is important because a right understanding of these issues is not a matter of exegetical faithfulness only, but also gospel faithfulness. He affirms that those who differ with him on these issues are indeed his brothers and sisters in Christ. He rightly states our unity is in the gospel and doctrinal accuracy is vital to this. He also notes we must discuss our differences frankly and wisely and concludes “each new generation of Christians must feel compelled to seek ever-increasing clarity concerning them” (xvi). His next two paragraphs point out that these doctrines are “worship shaping doctrines.” Dr. Zaspel concludes his preface with comments about the motivations behind the contributors to WHW:

It is not party spirit but worship. Not personal prejudice but jealousy for God that

  • has grown out of a deep and humbling sense of rescue. They do not mean to say
  • that those who disagree are not Christians. But neither do they mean to say that
  • these issues are therefore unimportant. These issues are essential to a consistent
  • Theism. They are essential to any confession of divine rescue. They are an essential
  • part of the very fabric of the biblical revelation of divine salvation. They are essential
  • to a right understanding of the gospel. They are essential to a worship that would
  • rightly acknowledge God as the savior of sinners. And they are basic to a realized
  • joy in God’s salvation (xvii).

While I agree with much of what Dr. Zaspel says, I cannot help but be struck by the occasional difference in tone and direct statements in his preface when compared to that of Dr. Garrett.

Rattling first out of the box is an approving quote of Warfield’s problematic suggestion that a necessary implicate of Theism leads to Calvinism. I find Warfield’s statement incredible. In one fell swoop in the first paragraph, non-Calvinists are shackled with criticism for failing to discern that Calvinism is a “necessary consequence” of Theism. Such a claim might appear to some to smack of arrogance. I have known and read many Calvinists throughout the years, and though I have occasionally seen and heard statements like this expressed, I certainly think that the majority of Calvinists do not agree with this sentiment. These statements do not help foster dialogue and unity that Dr. Zaspel speaks of further down the page. They risk trammeling both.

Furthermore, how is it that one is to conclude that to say with Jonah “salvation is of the Lord;” that it is “God’s doing;” that “it is His gracious gift to undeserving sinners;” and “that He saves in such a way that only He gets the glory for it;” mean one is a Calvinist? I myself adhere to all these propositions, and yet I am not a Calvinist.

Finally, Dr. Zaspel concludes by indicating that “these issues” are of the upmost importance. “These issues” are “essential” to “consistent Theism,” “any confession of divine rescue,” “part of the very fabric of the biblical revelation of divine salvation,” and “a right understanding of the gospel.” The key question here concerns the meaning of “these issues.” If he is speaking generically, in the sense of “these broad Soteriological issues of human depravity, election, extent of the atonement, the nature of grace and free will, etc.,” then people on both sides of the aisle can agree wholeheartedly, for the disagreement is not over these issues as clear biblical concepts, but over the interpretation of the meaning of these issues. If, however, his intended meaning (or antecedent) of “these issues” is “a Calvinistic Soteriology,” then I am afraid he is stretching the word “essential” beyond its legitimate limits when referencing Soteriology, and pressing the envelope of almost branding those who disagree as somehow “inconsistent,” and lacking “a right understanding of the gospel.” That seems to me to be an unreasonably broad swath to cut in a three page preface. Let me be clear. I certainly do not refuse Dr. Zaspel the right to believe that those who disagree with the Calvinist paradigm are “inconsistent” at points in their theological framework. I have argued the same from the other side of the aisle with respect to aspects of Calvinism in Whosoever, particularly when it comes to Limited Atonement. Nor do I question his right to believe and state that his grasp of Soteriology rightly understands the gospel as revealed in Scripture. I also have argued in Whosoever that adherence to Limited Atonement misunderstands and misrepresents an important aspect of the gospel. Rather, my concern lies with his use of the word “essential.” If Dr. Zaspel means to suggest that a Calvinistic understanding of the gospel as expressed in the traditional TULIP is “essential” not only for a “consistent Theism” but also for a “right understanding” of the gospel itself, then therein lies one of the reasons I find this aspect of the preface problematic. Indeed, I suspect it is a statement which many Calvinists themselves would be uncomfortable with, especially those who reject limited atonement. Although I find myself in appreciative agreement with much of what Dr. Zaspel says, for the reasons above I find aspects of his preface to be somewhat problematic.

Turning to the introductions in the two books, a comparison here is also quite interesting. The introductions are written by the co-editors of each book and each is roughly nine pages in length. In Whosoever, Dr. Lemke and I cover four broad areas: resurgent Calvinism in the evangelical world and the SBC; a brief history of the debate over Calvinism with a focus on Dort; the fact that Calvinism is not a monolithic system; and the importance of a unified spirit between divergent views. We point out that the Arminians at Dort were Reformed who had concerns about the extremes to which some Calvinists had taken aspects of Reformed theology. We also addressed the issue of caricaturing the Arminians at Dort as Pelagians or Semi-Pelagians. Concerning Calvinism and the SBC, we wrote: “Can Baptists be Calvinists? Yes, but Baptists can be non-Calvinists too. Baptists have always had both Calvinists and non-Calvinists within their ranks. Two extremes must be avoided: (1) Southern Baptists should never be Calvinists, and (2) true Southern Baptists must be Calvinists” (5).

For the authors of Whosoever, the book

involves the authors’ deep convictions concerning what they believe the Bible teaches  about who God is and how He works in the world. Clearly, others have different convictions, flowing from their biblical interpretations and views of who God is and how He works in the world. These beliefs matter, for the convictions of the overwhelming majority of Southern Baptists and other evangelical Christians deserve to be heard, and lie at the heart of what Christianity is and what the gospel proclaims. The contributors are not “anti-Calvinist” and therefore are interested in dialogue not diatribe. We have no desire to sweep the SBC clean of Calvinism. . . . any and every agenda to remove Calvinism from the SBC needs to be opposed (9).

In the final paragraph Dr. Lemke and I wrote: “Our hope is that disagreement can occur in an irenic Christian spirit, without disagreeableness or harshness. We humbly ask forgiveness when we fail to do so, or when we misunderstand what others have intended. We take our stand on God’s Word and challenge our readers to search the Scriptures to discover what the Bible says about these key issues” (Ibid.).

The introduction to WHW covers much the same territory as Whosoever, beginning where Whosoever leaves off – with a statement of principled agreement with our final section on the importance of a unified spirit. This is followed by a section on the cruciality of Soteriology since “every theological discussion in the history of the church eventually dissolves into soteriological implications” (xx). Next is a section biblically comparing the two themes “whomever He wills” and “whosoever will.” Drs. Nettles and Barrett write: “We are trying to provide an expanded viewpoint to be considered alongside, and frankly in many places as a corrective to, the volume entitled Whosoever Will.” Under the heading “Calvinism: the Consistent Baptist Expression,” the co-editors acknowledge the Calvinistic leanings of early Baptist history. They acknowledge that there is much we agree on including the nature of biblical authority. They state: “Areas in which we are seeking clearer and more precise agreement constitute the subject matter of this volume” (xxv). Likewise, “This volume is an attempt to take a step forward, not backward, in providing clarity and moving toward unity on these matters” (Ibid.). The co-editors acknowledge the fact that writers in both volumes are not in complete agreement on all issues discussed. I find little if anything to quibble about up to this point.

The final section of the introduction addresses what is at stake in the Calvinism debate. The following statements appear in this section (xxv-xxviii):

“It is this common commitment to divine sovereignty and divine glory that is at stake in the Calvinism-Arminianism debate. If God must condition His sovereignty and salvific plan on the will of man, then man in some way, even if it be small, contributes to his salvation and consequently God cannot receive all of the glory in redemption.”

“. . . inevitably God is at the mercy of man.”

“In essence, God is robbed of His glory at the expense of demanding libertarian freedom. There can be no way around it; these are the consequences of the Arminian view.”

Quoting John R. de Witte, “Arminianism essentially represents an attack upon the majesty of God and puts in place of it the exaltation of man.”

“Be not mistaken, opposing Arminianism is an aspect of this present volume. And for good reason too for as J. I. Packer states, Arminianism involves a ‘partial denial of the biblical faith in the God of all grace. But we cannot stop there. It is not enough to oppose those views contrary to Scripture. Rather, we oppose them in order to help others see better what Scripture teaches.’ As Packer explains, Calvinists should ‘approach professed Arminians as brother evangelicals trapped in weakening theological mistakes, and seek to help them to a better mind.’ In part, that is our aim in this volume.”

“We love the doctrines of grace because they serve as the foundation on which the gospel itself is built.”

“. . . a God who already determined the end from the beginning, including the destination of every living soul, not on the basis of anything we will do but purely because of His good pleasure. He is a God who sends his Son to die for those whom He has predestined.”

“Because God is sovereign over all things, rather than having His sovereignty limited by libertarian freedom, . . . .”

Quoting Spurgeon, “I have my own private opinion that there is no such thing as preaching Christ and Him crucified, unless we preach what nowadays is called Calvinism. . . . Calvinism is the gospel and noting else.”

“Consequently, if we are truly to be consistent, it is not an exaggeration to say that the evangelical gospel stands or falls with Calvinism.”

“And as R. Albert Mohler, Jr., has said, ‘The “doctrines of grace” are nothing less than a statement of the gospel itself.’” “It is only when we ‘return to a more Calvinistic understanding of the gospel and a recognition of the absolute sovereignty of God’ that we will ‘recover our theological inheritance and the essence of biblical Christianity.’”

“Therefore, what is at stake in this debate is obvious: the glory of our sovereign God.”

Comparing the two introductions, several similarities appear. Both are committed to biblical authority and a love for the gospel. Both express appreciation and desire for unity with those who see the issues differently. Both acknowledge the Calvinistic heritage of the SBC. Both understand the foundational nature of soteriology for theology and praxis. Both agree there is room for us all in the SBC. On these issues, and others, we are simpatico.

However, I am troubled by what I see as a significant difference between the two introductions in one area. Dr. Lemke and I sought to be careful in both content and tone not to word our disagreement with our Calvinist brothers and sisters in a way that would foreclose on the discussion. I think we were successful in that attempt, but our readers will have to be the ultimate judge of that. The co-editors of WHW, by their quotes cited above, all of which occur in the final part of their introduction, reveal something of their mindset and why I believe it is difficult to have a discussion with those who appear to be entrenched in such a mindset. Here are the concerns as I see them. First, the authors persist in their attempt to label contributors of Whosoever as Arminian and to frame the discussion according to the traditional Reformed historical categories of Calvinism vs. Arminianism, in spite of the fact that none of the authors of Whosoever is Arminian and that we have disavowed this moniker on numerous occasions since the publication of the book in 2010 (see “Neither Calvinists Nor Arminians But Baptists” http://www.baptisttheology.org/documents/NeitherCalvinistsNorArminiansButBaptists.pdf) Second, we do not believe or assert that God conditions his sovereignty on man’s will or that God is at the mercy of man. Third, it is one thing to state that one believes the consequences of our view “rob God of His glory,” and quite another to state “There can be no way around it; these are the consequences of the Arminian view.” Statements like “there can be no way around it. . . ” tend to foreclose on the issue up front.

Fourth, the authors indicate our view is an “attack” on the majesty of God. Again, it seems better to express this along the lines of “we believe the authors’ views expressed in Whosoever entail . . . .” Authors in both books are committed evangelical Christians and are not “attacking” things like the “majesty” of God. Fifth, in stating one of their purposes for writing, the author’s avow “it is not enough to oppose views contrary to Scripture. . . .” This kind of statement merely assumes that the authors of Whosoever are unscriptural in their positions while the authors of WHW are the defenders of the Scriptural doctrine. What the authors of WHW are doing is opposing views they believe to be unscriptural just as the authors of Whosoever are doing. That, of course, is fair game for both sides. Otherwise, merely asserting one’s interpretation of the text as Scriptural truth is an exercise in begging the question. Sixth, we are told that the authors are opposing our errant views with a view to helping us extricate ourselves from the trap of theological mistakes to a “better mind.” It is difficult not to infer something of a condescending attitude in this remark. Seventh, it simply won’t do to attempt to mitigate Spurgeon’s statement that Calvinism is the gospel by telling us that if we understand Spurgeon correctly, he was not saying that only those who are Calvinists believe in the gospel or that only Calvinists are Christians. We understand that well enough. But when we are told that “it is not an exaggeration to say that the evangelical gospel stands or falls with Calvinism,” the implication is clear: those who don’t believe in Calvinism have a significantly flawed understanding of the gospel. It is simply unwise and in fact in our judgment wrong to imply or say that Calvinism is the essence of the gospel, Spurgeon notwithstanding. Calvinism is not the esse (essence), of the gospel, as Greg Welty correctly pointed out at the Building Bridges Conference in 2007. He stated: “To my fellow Calvinists I will be a bit more blunt. . . .” Such a statement as “Calvinism is the gospel” can be “both misleading and unhelpful,” and if taken at face value, would “draw the circle of fellowship more narrowly than Christ Himself has drawn it.” (Greg Welty, “Election and Calling: A Biblical Theological Study,” in Calvinism: A Southern Baptist Dialogue, eds. E. Ray Clendenen & Brad J. Waggoner [Nashville: B&H, 2008], 243.)

Though each of the statements quoted above range in my estimation from moderately problematic to egregious, taken together they seem to indicate something of a mindset concerning how the authors of the introduction in WHW view those who disagree with them. We should all remember that in one sense a way of seeing is a way of not seeing. We all come to the table with a certain grid through which we filter and interpret things. We think that our interpretation is the correct one; otherwise we would not hold it. But when we express ourselves in language that identifies our view with Scripture and the other guy’s view with “attacking” a Scriptural doctrine or when we give the appearance that we could not possibly be mistaken in our view and thus have to lovingly help or monish the errant one to see the error of his ways, we have moved beyond the boundary of suasion and have foreclosed on the discussion at the outset. At issue is the correct interpretation of texts, yes; but it would be helpful if we did not speak or write in such a way that tends to place our counterparts in the discussion on the defensive by assuming or overtly claiming the biblical and hermeneutical high ground. This appears to me to be especially important in an introduction to any work since the introduction usually serves to set the tone for the discussion.

My critique above should be read in the bright light of my stated agreement with much of what has been written. Most of the preface and introduction to WHW would be affirmed by those of us who are not Calvinists. I would encourage the reader to look again at both prefaces and introductions to see whether my observations have merit or not. Regardless of one’s conclusions, I certainly want to express my appreciation for Drs. Ascol, Nettles and Barrett, along with the authors who contributed to WHW for their response to Whosoever and for their effort to foster an ongoing dialogue in the hopes that we all may come to a clearer understanding of these vital issues and work together for God’s kingdom and His glory with an ever-greater appreciation for each other in the process.

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Jeremy Crowder

Calvinists in my opinion deal in a black and white, this is my impression from this post and others as well as my interactions with them. Monergism or synergism, Calvinist or Arminian, and the list goes on. Most people like me borrow from the systems we may be OSAS Arminian or an Arminian that holds to Once Saved Always Saved or a Moderate Calvinist one that rejects limited attonement. However the Traditional Statement to me shows that many Baptists are truly different from either group. Yet it’s something that the black and white view of Calvinism has yet been able to me find a way to compute. So they drag out terms regarding a monk, ancient Church councils felt was in error to lable Traditionalists. At the same time I think a fluid movement exists between OSAS Arminian, Traditionalist, Moderate Calvinism, and Calvinist that the SBC should be careful about. A person may not always be in one camp this may be true for Seminary Professors but I suspect many Pastors and those in the pew travel between these groups without any problem. The SBC is very diverse clearly in doctrine and I believe it was always the case or the case a whole lot longer than Calvinist historians are willing to admit. The beauty of now having the Traditional Statement combines with (Whomsoever) the book is it gives at least a starting
point for Baptists that feel 100% that the other options don’t fit them to explain where they are coming from. Anyway this is my simplistic view of this discussion.

Rick Patrick

When I grow up, I want to be just as smart and just as nice as Dr. David Allen.

(By the way, in the closing days of his youth ministry at Prestonwood thirty years ago, Dr. Allen provided decision counseling for me after my profession of faith. I am quite certain he confirmed my decision by the use of the Sinner’s Prayer, and I am happy to report that I am none the worse for his appropriate use of it.)

What an exemplary and sweet spirited tone Dr. Allen strikes in this review. This is the way for Christian scholars to disagree with one another. It is respectful and irenic, but clearly addresses that mindset in which the authors of WHW attempt to foreclose the issue from the very start. Thank you, Dr. Allen!

Ron Hale

Dr. Allen,
I enjoyed Part One of your review of … Whomever He Wills! Thank you.

Thanks for dealing with this issue … “Rattling first out of the box is an approving quote of Warfield’s problematic suggestion that a necessary implicate of Theism leads to Calvinism. I find Warfield’s statement incredible. In one fell swoop in the first paragraph, non-Calvinists are shackled with criticism for failing to discern that Calvinism is a “necessary consequence” of Theism. Such a claim might appear to some to smack of arrogance. I have known and read many Calvinists throughout the years, and though I have occasionally seen and heard statements like this expressed, I certainly think that the majority of Calvinists do not agree with this sentiment. These statements do not help foster dialogue and unity that Dr. Zaspel speaks of further down the page. They risk trammeling both.”

    Bill Mac

    As a Calvinist, I agree. It is arrogant to presume that if people just thought things through properly, they would think like us.

    But it works from both sides. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard “I’m not a Calvinist, I just believe the bible”, with the implication of course that if we all “just believed the bible” we would think as they do.

    “Just believing the bible” doesn’t mean our interpretation is infallible. Baptists, Charismatics, and Lutherans all “just believe the bible.”

      peter lumpkins

      Bill Mac

      Well, perhaps some imply by their statement if we all “just believed the bible” we would “think as they do” but I’m not so sure that is the chief implication and wonder if it is even a seldom implication. I know while I’ve denied the Calvinist-Arminian label(s) lots of times, I’ve never, to my knowledge, done so implying if people would come to grips with the Scripture, they’d inevitably come to the same conclusions as I. Rather, I’ve stated it–i.e. a form of “if we all just believed the bible”–as a way to purposely deny a systematic hermeneutical overlay placed upon the Scripture, thus having little to do with others always coming out where I come out.

      And, I encourage you to take Dr. Allen’s challenge seriously–“I would encourage the reader to look again at both prefaces and introductions to see whether my observations have merit or not.” The question Dr. Allen raises compares the two prefaces and two introductions of the two books mentioned not anecdotal encounters you and I have. His point is there seems to be a marked difference in the two treatises not in our experiences.

      With that, I am…
      Peter

      Steve Martin

      This Lutheran believes what the Bible says.

      ‘Whomever’ means anyone.

      Never on my worst day would I say to someone, “Christ might have died for you.”

      Not only does it sound ridiculous…it is ridiculous.

peter lumpkins

Dr. Allen,

Thank you for giving me good things to say in my own random thoughts about WHW. I may just read your piece verbatim with the camera rolling! Just kidding…

I think you hammered a nail so often either overlooked or ignored by our Calvinist brothers. Perhaps in their zeal, they don’t see what seems so obvious to so many others–their unguarded language that only Calvinism can protect the gospel or more still, only Calvinism is the gospel. If I embraced or projected this notion as wholeheartedly as they appear to do, I could not find myself co-operating at all with a belief system about which I was absolutely convinced intrinsically undercut the biblical gospel.

I plan next a short presentation on “Total Depravity” by Dr. DeVine. I was taken by surprise by the chapter. In the Intro, it was explicitly stated that the book would “open the curtain” so to speak on what Scripture had to say about the DoG. What I found in the chapter, however, was what Dort had to say about total depravity. Very interesting.

Thanks again, Dr. Allen.

With that, I am…
Peter

A. Chadwick Mauldin

Dr. Allen below appeals to a quote from Dr. Welty (a Calvinist and former professor of mine). I would just like to enthusiastically agree with Dr. Welty and the posture he takes on this issue–very helpful indeed.

“Calvinism is not the esse (essence), of the gospel, as Greg Welty correctly pointed out at the Building Bridges Conference in 2007. He stated: ‘To my fellow Calvinists I will be a bit more blunt. . . .’ Such a statement as ‘Calvinism is the gospel’ can be ‘both misleading and unhelpful,’ and if taken at face value, would ‘draw the circle of fellowship more narrowly than Christ Himself has drawn it.'”

jdbarker

“Though the TULIP acrostic remains problematic as a theological measuring stick for a number of reasons, we will nonetheless retain its use for purposes of this review. The authors of Whosoever adhere to as few as two points and as many as four points of the TULIP acrostic. Whosoever does not include any “Arminian” contributors.”

4 pt. calvinism is logically inconsistent. You are either a 5 pt. calvinist or you are something else, say arminian for lack of a better term. The scope and intent of the atonement have much broader implications for the Gospel message than most people realize. Check out what R. C. has to say about it-

http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/justintaylor/2007/08/17/sproul-on-four-point-calvinism/

    Mary

    JDBarker, I guess you didn’t get the memo. SBC Today is not allowed to use Presbyterians like Sproul when discussing Calvinism says the Calvinists at SBC Voices.

    “Rick, quoting Presbyterians is a crap shoot to see how much can stick. It is a dishonest divide and conquer approach. Quoting Presbyterians to knock down SBC calvinists is not the same as quoting “Piper, Driscoll, MacArthur and many others.” This is an equivocation”

    The rules may be different for you being a Calvinist and all. I think pretty much the rule is that Trads are not supposed to quote anyone about Cavlinism without the express written permission of a Calvinist being as it’s a known fact that only Calvinists understand Calvinism.

      peter lumpkins

      Mary,

      As I will show in my next installment of Whomever He Wills, the lion’s share of quotes in the chapter on total depravity comes from…guess who? And, our Calvinist brothers and sisters wonder where some get the notion that strict Baptist Calvinists are visibly wed to historic Presbyterian theology.

      With that, I am…
      Peter

        Mary

        Peter, :) We need to write down these rules. Calvinists can quote Sproul but Trads cannot. This would make a great satire post.

        Another one would be just because Calvinists like Founders have an avowed purpose to reform the SBC it doesn’t mean they have actually done anything toward reformation. Ignore things like conferences, Founder’s Breakfast, Founder’s Journal etc and the years of advice givin to Calvinists on how to “quietly” reform individual churches that many of us have experienced first hand. No proof of any agenda there no siree bob!

      jdbarker

      Neither you or Peter discussed what I actually posted about; the inconsistency of 4 pt. calvinism. I am Baptist and I am visibly wed to historically correct theology whatever tradition that may be.

        Mary

        JD, sorry Peter and I were wandering down the rabbit trail about the inconsistency of Calvinists in this “conversation” and the rules of the “conversation” being set by Calvinists.

        As a Trad it’s the U that matters to me so as far as 4 points or 5 if you’re in agreement with U that’s a Calvinist to me. You all can argue amongst yourselves about the inconsistency between points 4 and 5.

        For the Pew sitters it’s the U that matters. Talking about LA is to swing a shiney object to distract from the problems people have with Calvinism in the SBC.

        That’s why someone like Danny Akin claims he’s not a Calvinist and than will wander around talking about LA and withhold his views on U.

          jdbarker

          Limited atonement is the point that 4 pt. calvinists take exception to. That’s why I posted a section of David Allens text. He claimed that none of the contributors were “arminian”, but I would argue that if one does not hold to limited atonement then you are something very close to an arminian if not an actual arminian. Unconditional election is the point that seems most apparent in scripture to me. It requires tricky interpretation to say that God’s election is conditional upon someone’s faith that God saw before the foundation of the world. But I suppose that is why I would call myself a calvinist and you would not.

            peter lumpkins

            JDBarker,

            Actually, I wasn’t attempting to address your question. However, I am very familiar with Sproul. Unfortunately, Sproul doesn’t speak for all Calvinists. And, while I am very much aware of Founders-type arguments concerning a Calvinist being a 5pt player or no player at all, I reject such an assertion outright and have history on my side. Did you not read the chapter you quoted? Allen critiques Limited Atonement using only Calvinist sources. The most devastating critiques of Limited Atonement come from the Reformed community itself! Yet the way I’m understanding your statement, one would be right in concluding all the sources Allen cited from the Reformed faith were virtual Arminians.

            With that, I am…
            Peter

            Mary

            JD, I understand that 4 pointers reject the L and some even claim to be 3.5 pointers rejecting part of the I. I also know there are those who call themselves 2 point or 1 point Calvinists.

            I reject all 5 points based on how Calvinists define the 5 points. I accept Total Depravity but deny it leads to Total Inability. I believe Saints Persevere not because of anything they do but because God Preserves those whom He saved.

            For me unconditional election does not line up with everything the Bible teaches about God. I beleive that when one looks at the whole counsul of Scripture God is a God who does not arbitrarily choose some for heaven and some for hell. In His Sovereignty He allows His creation a real choice.

            I respect that my Calvinists brothers and sisters see things differently. I understand how they interpret the Bible the way that they do, I just happen to disagree with them.

            The U when discussed among rank and file SBC is important and it seems to be the point as I stated that 4 Pointers like Danny Akin refuse to associate themselvs with when being called out as 4 Pointers.

            Now you can call 4 Pointers whatever you want. But one thing I know Trads are neither Arminians or Calvinist and they continue to ask fellow Christians to show a modicum of respect and not call them a name which they have denied for themselves.

jdbarker

I may choose not to eat meat and that would define me as a vegetarian, but I get offended when people call me a vegetarian. Instead I prefer the term “animal lover” and from this point forward I demand that everyone call me by my new self created title.

Some of the views that you describe line up with arminianism, except maybe your take on the perseverance of the saints. It is not unreasonable to call someones theology what it actually is.

(I am not actually a vegetarian…I mean animal lover)

    Mary

    JD, sorry to hear you’re not an animal lover. I am animal lover who eats meat.

    So we’ve gone full circle! You can choose to call people whatever you want despite the fact that they disagree with you on your description, so therfore we can call 4 pointers Calvinists! They may be inconsistent, but they are Calvinists none the less.

    And no I’m not actually Arminian because what I gave you was a very brief description of my beliefs. Some would choose to label me a semi-Pelegian but I reject the heretic label also. And then some like those quoted in the original OpEd would just put me in the “poor dear she’s not a Calvinist so she’s not too swift is she. Maybe someday she’ll reach the “university of election.”

    I happen to be so slow on the uptake that I think “unity” will not happen as lone as one side declares they have the right to label anyone any name they choose despite the labelee rejecting the label.

    Just not sure what it says about Christians who insist that they get to namecall when the namecallee has rejected the label. Even if you’re right in your namecalling should Christians really be demanding the right to call other Christians whatever they want. Should Christians really be going around with this attitude that they know what others believe better than they themselves?

    Dean

    You are a Presbityrian. You can call yourself a Baptist but you belief lines up with the Pres church. It’s not fun for others to call you something your not. :))

David Allen: Hypocrisy Or Incompetence? | SBC Today | A Rose by Any Other Name

[…] “A Selective Review of Whomever He Wills – Part 1” | SBC Today. Though each of the statements quoted above range in my estimation from moderately problematic to egregious, taken together they seem to indicate something of a mindset concerning how the authors of the introduction in WHW view those who disagree with them. We should all remember that in one sense a way of seeing is a way of not seeing. We all come to the table with a certain grid through which we filter and interpret things. We think that our interpretation is the correct one; otherwise we would not hold it. But when we express ourselves in language that identifies our view with Scripture and the other guy’s view with “attacking” a Scriptural doctrine or when we give the appearance that we could not possibly be mistaken in our view and thus have to lovingly help or monish the errant one to see the error of his ways, we have moved beyond the boundary of suasion and have foreclosed on the discussion at the outset. At issue is the correct interpretation of texts, yes; but it would be helpful if we did not speak or write in such a way that tends to place our counterparts in the discussion on the defensive by assuming or overtly claiming the biblical and hermeneutical high ground. This appears to me to be especially important in an introduction to any work since the introduction usually serves to set the tone for the discussion. […]

jdbarker

I don’t call someone’s theology arminian because I have a desire to “name call” as you put it. There has to be distinction and using historical terms to describe theology is helpful for discussion. Labeling your theology “traditionalism” does not mean that it ceases to have arminian or semi- pelagian elements. It is concerning that you would affirm what we would call semi-pelagian thought, which has been condemned as heresy.

Unity can only exist within truth.

    Mary

    No, no, no JD it’s ok. Chris Roberts has declared that semi-Pelegianism is no longer heresy since he insists that Trads are semi-Pelegian. You Calvinists are going to have to get together on the rules here. If Trads are heretics than you Calvinists would have to be talking about kicking out all the Trads.

    So of course you being a Calvinist you think you have the right to insist on calling people names which they deny themselves but because you are “right” you get to name call. It doesn’t matter if I reject your label you being superior to me get to decide what name I shall be called, but you’re not name calling? Calling me a name I reject just because you insist – in your vast intelectual and spiritual superiority that I don’t know enough to reject your name?

    People who insist that they know more about me and what I believe and show that they think I don’t know enough to reject “historical” labels – I call them jerks. I am not an Arminian, a semiPelegan, a Calvinist or a heretic. You Calvinists will insist on calling me whatever you want but you really show by forcing your names on me that you think you are superior to me and thus you have the right to label me that which I reject. With such condescending attitudes and such a lack of just a basic small level of respect that Christians should be willing to show one another – there will be no unity.

jdbarker

As I talked about in my previous satirical statement about vegetarianism, if one does not eat mean then they are the definition of a vegetarian despite the fact that they do not like the label. This labeling is not based upon my “intellectual and spiritual superiority” but upon definition. I do not claim to know you or all of your beliefs, but choosing to believe in semi-pelagian or arminian thought makes you a semi-pelagian or arminian by definition.

You stated in your previous post that you would also have the right to label 4 pt. calvinists actual calvinists. I would accept that for the purpose of discussion. I might assert that under scrutiny their denial of the 5th pt. causes the whole of the system to crumble, but I would use the term calvinist to describe them for the sake of distinction and discussion because that is reasonable.

I fail to see how you have the right to reject an accurate historical label just because you don’t like it. If you don’t like a label because of its association with heresy then maybe you should reevaluate your adherence to that doctrine. I’m a little surprised by the emotional response you have given me. I said that your views would appear to be arminian or semi-pelagian. You on the other hand alluded that I was a jerk. I did not mean to offend you but wanted to have a discussion on the semantics of these labels.

Mary

JD, If you don’t see how this statement of yours shows pure arrogance and condescesion than there’s no point in trying to discuss anything.

‘I fail to see how you have the right to reject an accurate historical label just because you don’t like it. If you don’t like a label because of its association with heresy then maybe you should reevaluate your adherence to that doctrine”

This discussion has already taken place ad infinitum. Trads have patiently explained using historically references why we don’t see ourselves as heretics or Arminians. Calvinists reject those claims and declare themselves the winners and rulers of all debates and thus the superior in all discussions. We lessor mortals are just supposed to sit back and accept the abuse. You have proven several points in the original Op Ed. Calvinists believe themselves to be the intellectual and spiritual superiors to all who reject Calvinism.

If you don’t mean to offend than stop being offensive. Perhaps you should “reevaluate” your adherance that you get to determine what it is that others actually believe and you get to insist on the labels others must wear.

jdbarker

This whole discussion is ridiculous.

I was born and raised in Texas and I live there now. That makes me a Texan by definition. Hypothetically if for some reason the term Texan comes to have a history of un-Americanism associated with it, that still does not change the definition of what a Texan is. I may draft a statement that includes ten articles describing what I shall now call a “New Texan.” After many months of fierce online debate someone asks me where I was born. I reply “Texas.” Then they have the audacity to call me a Texan when clearly I have created a new title for myself and demanded that everyone use that title. I will now call them arrogant and condescending.

This whole issue with the theological labels is silly. Traditionalist have embraced a theology but get offended when someone calls that theology what it actually is. If your going to adhere to a doctrine then at least have the courage to call yourself by the name of that doctrine.

    Joseph

    JD, It seems ridiculous that you and Mary have carried on this conversation so long. Yes. I agree that Traditionalism does seem just like Arminianism under a new name. But so what? What difference does it make? Why argue about it? Moreover, Traditionalists strongly contend that one cannot lose his salvation. Under your own definition of a Calvinist, a 4-point Calvinist is not a real Calvinist. I would imagine that Arminians would claim that a 4-point Arminian can’t really be an Arminian. So what should they call themselves? How about “Traditionalists”? 4-point Arminians and 4-point Calvinists don’t fit in either system. But really, who cares? It seems rather unimportant to use or disuse a label.

      jdbarker

      “Yes. I agree that Traditionalism does seem just like Arminianism under a new name. But so what? What difference does it make?”

      To me the problem is that traditionalists do not like the label arminian or semi-pelagian. Why? I believe it is because they know well what those labels imply, i.e., that their theology is erroneous at best. So, even though they draft a statement that is overwhelmingly semi-pelagian, they claim to have the right to reject that term. Again, if you are ashamed of a title because it connotes heresy then maybe that’s not a good doctrine to hold on to. But you are right, this discussion is silly.

      I pray that God uses this recent controversy to again reiterate the true Gospel.

        joseph

        To call it “overwhelmingly semi-pelagian” is too much I think. Though I do believe their denial that Adam’s guilt is imputed to the human race is clearly semi-pelagian. But they don’t think it is, so wouldn’t it be better to consider Traditionalists inconsistent, and be gracious, rather than consider them heretics?

    Lydia

    “If your going to adhere to a doctrine then at least have the courage to call yourself by the name of that doctrine.”

    I think it is unfortunate that any believer labels their beliefs after the name of an old dead guy.

    But your vegetarian metaphor sort of hit on the problem with these labels. Some vegetarians eat fish. Is fish a meat? What about eggs which come from chickens but it not a vegetable or from vegetation. We do know that many vegetarians eat nuts as a protein and the nut is not technically a vegetable as is commonly thought of although it culls from vegetation. Some eat diary and some do not. So the label is not technically correct or, at the very least,needs some explanation from whichever vegetarian you are talking with at the time. And there is our problem. The definitions.

      joseph

      It always annoys me when people say we shouldn’t use the label “Calvinist” when that same person proudly wears the label “Baptist”.

        Lydia

        Why? Because they might mistake us as followers of Jean Baptiste (King of Sweden) another old dead guy?

Dr. Bruce McLaughlin

I find it incredible that the denominational “insiders” writing in these blogs believe that the unsaved, the seekers and the new Christians around the world are too stupid to see that the SBC “emperor has no clothes.” The emperor claims to be clothed in self consistent, Biblical truth. But he is really wallowing naked in the quicksand of “positive tolerance.” A new Christian is told to believe election is unconditional, the atonement is limited and grace is irresistible or he/she might be told to believe election is conditional, the atonement is unlimited and grace is resistible. It really doesn’t matter. Both are equally true. Can the vast unsaved of the world be treated like fools without damaging Great Commission work?

    joseph

    I would never tell someone that grace is resistible or that election is conditional since I find both positions to be unscriptural.

    Bob Hadley

    Joesph,

    I would never tell someone that grace is irresistible or that election is unconditional since I find both positions to be unscriptural.

    ><>”

Lydia

“So, even though they draft a statement that is overwhelmingly semi-pelagian, they claim to have the right to reject that term”

Again, that is YOUR opinion and the opinion of the “other side”. Many smart guys here have explained over and over why that is not true even going back into time of the controversy in history and presenting evidence. They have even pointed out some of the same source materials think Calvinism is heresy!

These other smart guys (like you all) are not believed because YOUR side is claiming to know the real definition. Again. Definitions. It has become a waste of time to even discuss it anymore. You all have been asked not to accuse the brethern of something they think is heresy yet you all persist. Even to the point that one guy who put forth a “unity” resolution redefined SP to only “error”. Again, Definitions. He who defines, wins.

I think the bigger problem is few in the Reformed/New Calvinist wing have been challenged thus so in their indoctrination. They have been in a sort Reformed bubble of like mindedness with their icons.

    Joseph

    “They have been in a sort Reformed bubble of like mindedness with their icons.” Wouldn’t a comment like that receive a tongue lashing from Traditionalists if said to them? Lydia makes it sound like Calvinists blindly follow cult leaders.

      Lydia

      “Lydia makes it sound like Calvinists blindly follow cult leaders.”

      Joseph, what do you think Calvin was after he consolidated his power and influence in Geneva the second time around there? If he was going back there, it would be for keeps.

      The big Reformed argument is that Calvin did not have that kind of power. That simply is not true and history (not the official written by the Reformers) proves it. The archives opened up after WW2 give us a pretty good picture of what it was like there.

      I mean, you HAD to attend church. You HAD to baptize your infant, etc, etc. It was more of a political/religious cult because the power of the magistrate was behind it. You went along or you suffered imprisonment, bannishment or worse. How many courses Genevans could have at each meal was regulated! Calvin and his coharts were determined to usher in a religious utopia and they did this by micromanagement and the political power of the magistrate.

      He is a scary person for so many to be so enamoured with.

        Joseph

        Calvin was a genius and a hero of Christendom, in my opinion. Though I don’t wear the label Calvinist because of Calvin. It is a theological framework which does not depend on Calvin himself.

          Lydia

          “It is a theological framework which does not depend on Calvin himself.”

          You are right. He systemized Augustine.

          A “hero” of Christendom who carries despotic baggage. His doctrine affirmed his cruelty and a state church or he was living a lie and did not practice what he preached? Which is it? Scary stuff.

          Dean

          I wonder if Michael Servetus considered him a hero?

            Joseph

            Michael Servetus would have died in any place in Europe because at the time, blasphemy against God was punishable by death. It was “the law of the land” throughout Europe, which means it was God’s law, as God is the one who raised up these rulers to exact justice:

            “For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves.” Rom. 13:1-2

            Servetus deserved to die in the context in which he was in. Calvin pleaded with him to recant of his blasphemy against the Holy Trinity, so that he would not die. Servetus refused. He made a choice. Calvin did nothing wrong.

            Dean

            Joseph, my brother when the law of the land contradicts God’s Word civil disobedience is called for by the church. Do you feel that abortion drs are doing nothing wrong today in the eyes of God. Your hero ,the pope of Geneva, burned the man at the stake, supposedly a fellow believer, keeping a promise he made seven years earlier in a letter to Farel in Feb of 1546. Genius no doubt! Hero no way!

            Joseph

            Dean,

            Servetus denied the Trinity. Why would I think that someone who denies the Trinity is “a fellow believer”? What people today deny the Trinity that you consider “fellow believers” Dean? I can’t think of anyone. Is there any church in the SBC who denies the Trinity? Any evangelical church? I can’t think of anyone that we fellowship with as Christians who denies the Trinity.

            What is worse: Denying the Trinity or committing theft? I would think that denying the true God is a worse sin. The reason I ask is that when the thief on the cross said that he deserved to die for his theft (Lk 23:41), it is interesting that Jesus did not correct him. Jesus’ silence would seem to indicate that death by crucifixion was a just punishment for theft. Perhaps death by burning was also a just punishment for blasphemy against God. After all, God is going to burn people for all eternity in Hell for blasphemy. Servetus may still be burning right not for his denial of the Trinity.

            Lydia

            “Michael Servetus would have died in any place in Europe because at the time, blasphemy against God was punishable by death. It was “the law of the land” throughout Europe, which means it was God’s law, as God is the one who raised up these rulers to exact justice:”

            Wow, those Anabaptists who refused to baptize their babies deserved being drowned in the Limmat?

            It is this thinking of yours Joseph which scares me to death when it comes to Calvinistic thought. Servetus deserved it because all of the politico-religio leaders of Europe were corrupt and depraved in how they interpreted scripture? So if the Catholics were gonna do it anyway, it was no big deal your hero’s did it?

            Do you understand the slippery slope thinking here just to prop up your icon?

            Not too long ago, there was another “Servetus deserved it” guy commenting over at Voices/. The only person who really took him on was CB. What ARE we coming to?

            Joseph

            Lydia, you see Calvin as a monster. I see him as merely judicating the law. Moreover, Calvin went to Servetus’ cell to plead with him to recant. Moses did no such thing when he exacted God’s laws killing similar blasphemers. I don’t see Moses as a monster. Nor do I see Calvin that way. Calvin showed more grace by pleading with the blasphemer to recant. I honestly don’t think Calvin did anything wrong. He upheld the law of the land. …just my opinion.

            Joseph

            “Michael Servetus…. was in some ways “a bit more insane than the average of his time,” announcing the end of the world in which “the Archangel Michael would lead a holy war against both the papal and Genevese Antichrists.” Unquestionably, he was a rank heretic whose ravings about Christ reflected a combination of Islam and Judaism, both of which intrigued him. …His otherwise outrageous ideas might have passed unnoticed had he not published them and attempted to force them upon Calvin and his fellow ministers in Geneva with aggressive, contemptuous, and blasphemous railings.”
            Written by Chuck Smith (an Arminian who despises John Calvin)

            Lydia

            “Lydia, you see Calvin as a monster. I see him as merely judicating the law.”

            Joseph, This was the Nuremberg defense.

        Debbie Kaufman

        Lydia: If John Calvin were guilty of half of what you accuse him of he would not have had time to write the Institutes, which he did write, a whole commentary on the entire Bible, which he did write, preach his sermons, run for his life, work himself so hard ministering to his congregation, preach, teach in a distinguished institution, and worked himself to a unhealthy state. You are the one rewriting history Lydia and this can be proven in so many ways. Let’s begin here:

        http://www.desiringgod.org/resource-library/biographies/the-divine-majesty-of-the-word

          Debbie Kaufman

          As for Calvin and the Servetus incident, this was a horrible thing and a huge mark against Calvin, but where is it any different than what you are doing except you use your tongue Lydia, not just you but others as well. It shows what happens when Christians use the world’s methods for battling.

          It’s no different than some are doing now in the SBC against those they disagree with. It’s just more civilized now, it’s not burning at the stake but burning people with the tongue by saying things that just are not true.

            Debbie Kaufman

            I pray this fighting and battle ends . It’s already gotten too bloody and vicious.

            Lydia

            “As for Calvin and the Servetus incident, this was a horrible thing and a huge mark against Calvin, but where is it any different than what you are doing except you use your tongue Lydia, not just you but others as well. It shows what happens when Christians use the world’s methods for battling.”

            Let me see if I understand you correctly. Putting someone to death by burning at the stake because they believe differently from the state church is sin on the same par as me discussing history on a blog that you disagree with?

            Debbie, this is why I rarely engage you and when I do I always regret it.

            Cb scott

            Obviously there are some Baptist folks who have never seen, smelled, or heard someone be burned to death.

          Lydia

          Piper is not the best place to learn Reformed history.

Lydia

BTW: Some better hero’s of the faith are mainly nameless and were drowned in the Limmat for their “third” baptism (including women) or hiding from the despotic Reformers and the long arm of the magistrates in the woods. Of course, this is all depending on YOUR defintion of “hero”.

Mike Davis

First of all, I enjoy reading Dr Allen’s posts. Not that my opinion matters, but it would be okay with me if he posted more often!

Second, the discussion in the meta about the definition of a Calvinist brings up an interesting point. My own personal definition (not my view, but my definition) is 4 points. My personal view is I’m a 4.4-pointer. I used to be a 4.5-pointer until I read Dr. Allen’s post on limited atonement at this site–so see, we do consider what you folks say ;^). But it doesn’t hurt my feelings if the Calvinists say I’m not a Calvinist.

And there are a number of aspects of the Calvinist or Reformed Theology “system” outside the 5 points that I don’t hold to, (like so-called Reformed eschatolgy) and my view of compatibilism does see a true tension between God’s sovereignty and human will that many Calvinists don’t see.

All this to say that many SBC Calvinists would not be considered Calvinists by other, particularly non-SBC Calvinists. Sometimes a particular label is just shorthand for defining the soteriological perspective one is coming from without having to go down the list of beliefs every time.

Joseph

The great American historian George Bancroft stated, “He that will not honor the memory, and respect the influence of Calvin, knows but little of the origin of American liberty.”
The famous German historian, Leopold von Ranke, wrote, “John Calvin was the virtual founder of America.”
John Adams, the second president of the United States, wrote: “Let not Geneva be forgotten or despised. Religious liberty owes it most respect.”

Lydia

“John Adams, the second president of the United States, wrote: “Let not Geneva be forgotten or despised. Religious liberty owes it most respect”

I would love to see a source on that quote. I want to check it out as I have read a ton of
Adams and about Adams and it does not ring a bell.

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