Archive for June, 2012

A Biblical Critique of Calvinism
Part 1a: The Inclusivity of the Gospel Invitation

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A Biblical Critique of Calvinism
Part 1a: The Inclusivity of the Gospel Invitation



by Dr. Michael A. Cox, Pastor, First Baptist Church, Pryor, OK
and author of Not One Little Child: A Biblical Critique of Calvinism


This is the beginning of a series of articles by Dr. Cox, with a Biblical critique of Calvinism drawn in part from his book Not One Little Child.


The Bible teaches that whosoever will may come to Christ in repentance and faith. As we will see, Scriptures related to this doctrine are numerous through all the genres of the Biblical text. This article will address the references from the Old Testament through the book of Acts.

A Psalm of David teaches that the Lord responds to all who call upon Him in truth (Ps. 145:18) and that the Lord hears the cry of those who fear Him and promises to save them (Ps. 145:19). Jeremiah recorded God’s words when He said that even heathen nations who repent and turn to Him can become His people (Jer. 12:16). Joel registered God’s words when He said that whoever calls upon the name of the Lord will be delivered (Joel 2:32). These Scriptures accurately summarize the testimony of the Old Testament regarding “whosoever will.”

Then, the New Testament champions this doctrine unmistakably, providing a plethora of scriptural testimony which harmonizes perfectly with the Old Testament witness. The words of Jesus declared that God says to no person “seek in vain,” but “seek and you shall find” (Matt. 7:7). He promised that all who ask receive (Matt. 7:8). Notice that asking precedes reception. Man clearly has a role in the salvation event, and it is requesting the Lordship of Jesus Christ by faith coupled with repentance. Jesus guaranteed that He would confess before His Father in heaven everyone who confesses that He is the Christ (Matt. 10:32). Jesus also averred that all humans are more valuable than any animal (Matt. 12:12). He asserted that whoever humbles himself or herself in childlike faith to Himself is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 18:4). Jesus also taught that everyone who abandons all for Him, making Him his or her top priority, shall inherit eternal life (Matt. 19:29). Further, we read that the invitation to join the bridal feast is issued to all (Matt. 22:9). And, finally, in the Gospel of Matthew, we learn that whoever humbles himself will be exalted (Matt. 23:12).

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A Commentary on Article 10 of “A Statement of the Traditional Southern Baptist Understanding of God’s Plan of Salvation”



By Robin Foster, Pastor of Immanuel Baptist Church in Perkins, Oklahoma


Article Ten: The Great Commission

We affirm that the Lord Jesus Christ commissioned His church to preach the good news of salvation to all people to the ends of the earth. We affirm that the proclamation of the Gospel is God’s means of bringing any person to salvation.

We deny that salvation is possible outside of a faith response to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Psalm 51:13; Proverbs 11:30; Isaiah 52:7; Matthew 28:19-20; John 14:6; Acts 1:8; 4:12; 10:42-43; Romans 1:16, 10:13-15; 1 Corinthians 1:17-21; Ephesians 3:7-9; 6:19-20; Philippians 1:12-14; 1 Thessalonians 1:8; 1 Timothy 2:5; 2 Timothy 4:1-5


While many things can be written about the Great Commission (GC), Article Ten of “A Statement of the Traditional Southern Baptist Understanding of God’s Plan of Salvation” relates the GC specifically to salvation and the gospel.  What does the good news of salvation (gospel) have to do with the Great Commission?  This article intends to show three areas in which the GC should impact the “church to preach the good news of salvation to all people to the ends of the earth.”

First, the gospel is for every person and every person is responsible to respond to it (John 3:16, Acts 17:30, 1 John 2:2), but not all will.  Never the less, Jesus is the only name “given among men by which we must be saved.” The gospel is open to all who would call on the Name of Jesus for salvation (Rom 10:13). An example of this is Paul preaching on Mars Hill (Acts 17:22-34).  Paul preached to an open crowd for everyone to respond to the message.  He even declared that it was every man’s responsibility before God to repent of his sin (Acts 17:30).  This part of Paul’s ministry is a perfect illustration that the gospel is for every person and while many did not respond at the preaching of God’s Word, some men did join Paul and believed (Acts 17:32-34).

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Today’s Discussion Topic:
Article 9: The Security of the Believer
in “A Statement of the Traditional Southern Baptist
Understanding of God’s Plan of Salvation”

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Today’s Discussion Topic:
Article 9: The Security of the Believer
in “A Statement of the Traditional Southern Baptist
Understanding of God’s Plan of Salvation”

A Statement of the Traditional Southern Baptist Understanding of God’s Plan of Salvation,” authored by Eric Hankins and others, has drawn strong interest in many social media and news outlets. The statement and the discussion of it have been accessed over 60,000 times and over 150,000 pageviews in SBC Today the last few weeks, and have evoked thousands of comments. At this point, over 800 persons have signed the document, including some key leaders from every level of Southern Baptist life. You cansign it also by following these directions.

To structure the discussion, we are focusing the comments on the affirmation and denial statement of one article of the statement at a time. Today’s discussion will address the Southern Baptist doctrines of grace in Article 9: The Security of the Believer. Keep in mind that each of the affirmations and denials in the articles complement each other, just as they do in the Together for the Gospel statement signed and/or affirmed by some Southern Baptist leaders who embrace Reformed views.

Please confine your comments to the article being discussed each day, not general comments about the statement. If you want to comment on other things, follow the links to other discussion threads:

Thank you for your comments on these important theological issues!

The Editors of SBC Today


Click this link to see the full statement of “A Statement of the Traditional Southern Baptist Understanding of God’s Plan of Salvation”
Right click to download
A Statement of Traditional Southern Baptist Soteriology SBC Today.pdf
Click this link to see the list of signers of “A Statement of the Traditional Southern Baptist Understanding of God’s Plan of Salvation,” or to see how to sign the statement.
We welcome the signatures of all Southern Baptists who would affirm this statement. If you would like to add your name in affirmation of the statement, please emailsbctoday@gmail.com, with the following:

Your Name, Ministry Position, Organization/Church, City, State

For example:
John Doe, Pastor (or Associate Pastor, Youth Minister, Deacon, member, etc.),
First Baptist Church, Anytown, TX
or
Joe Doe, Professor (or DOM, Evangelist, etc.), Seminary/College/Association,
Anytown, NC

We will be glad to add your name to this list of those affirming the statement!


Discussion of Article Nine: The Security of the Believer in “A Statement of the Traditional Southern Baptist Understanding of God’s Plan of Salvation”

Note: As we discuss each article of the statement, today’s comments should focus on the affirmation and denial in Article 9. Please limit your comments here to Article 9.

 


Article Nine: The Security of the Believer

We affirm that when a person responds in faith to the Gospel, God promises to complete the process of salvation in the believer into eternity. This process begins with justification, whereby the sinner is immediately acquitted of all sin and granted peace with God; continues in sanctification, whereby the saved are progressively conformed to the image of Christ by the indwelling Holy Spirit; and concludes in glorification, whereby the saint enjoys life with Christ in heaven forever.

We deny that this Holy Spirit-sealed relationship can ever be broken. We deny even the possibility of apostasy.

John 10:28-29; 14:1-4; 16:12-14; Philippians 1:6; Romans 3:21-26; 8:29,30; 35-39; 12:1-3; 2 Corinthians 4:17; Ephesians 1:13-14; Philippians 3:12; Colossians 1:21-22; 1 John 2:19; 3:2; 5:13-15; 2 Timothy 1:12; Hebrews 13:5; James 1:12; Jude 24-25

A Commentary on Article Eight of “A Statement of Traditional Southern Baptist Understanding of God’s Plan of Salvation ”


SBC Today mistakenly posted an earlier version of Dr. Hunter’s article. Now posted is his completed article. We apologize for our inadvertent mistake.

–The Contributing Editors of SBC Today


By Braxton Hunter, PhD, Professor of Philosophy and Apologetics at Trinity College of the Bible and Theological Seminary in Newburgh, Indiana, and former President of the Conference of Southern Baptist Evangelists


Article Eight: The Free Will of Man

We affirm that God, as an expression of His sovereignty, endows each person with actual free will (the ability to choose between two options), which must be exercised in accepting or rejecting God’s gracious call to salvation by the Holy Spirit through the Gospel.

We deny that the decision of faith is an act of God rather than a response of the person. We deny that there is an “effectual call” for certain people that is different from a “general call” to any person who hears and understands the Gospel.

(Genesis 1:26-28; Numbers 21:8-9; Deuteronomy 30:19; Joshua 24:15; 1 Samuel 8:1-22; 2 Samuel 24:13-14; Esther 3:12-14; Matthew 7:13-14; 11:20-24; Mark 10:17-22; Luke 9:23-24; 13:34; 15:17-20; Romans 10:9-10; Titus 2:12; Revelation 22:17)


Of the utmost importance for discussions relevant to the entirety of the document in question is what is meant by the authors when they use the term “free will.” It is not uncommon for laymen and theologians alike to misunderstand the terminology and philosophical implications of this central subject. As is the case with so many of the elements comprising a proper biblical worldview, one cannot merely rely on the vernacular of the 21st century to grasp the concepts with which thinkers have grappled throughout the ages. Moreover, in an effort to limit one’s own bias, it is prudent to step outside of the understanding of free will that has been fostered by his preferred doctrinal stance. It is also not enough to settle this issue by merely defining terms. The truth of man’s free will and the reality of God’s sovereignty are in symphony with one another in Article 8. The charge that non-Calvinists deny, limit, or reduce the sovereignty of God has been answered. Indeed, if the intention of Article 8’s affirmation is properly understood, the charge has been laid to rest.

Commentaries on previous articles have briefly addressed the question of what free will actually is; yet here we will flesh it out in greater detail. Typically, Calvinists deny that they are what philosophers refer to as “hard-determinists.” On this view, most common among philosophical naturalists, free will is merely illusory. One may experience the various events and actions of his life as though they represent genuine choices; however, this is a byproduct of living in a closed system of cause and effect. No choice, of any kind, actually exists. Conversely, many non-Calvinists hold to what is known as “libertarian free will.” According to this model, man has, as a special gift from God, the ability to transcend cause and effect and actually make real decisions. These decisions may be influenced by outside factors, but not to the point of coercion. “Libertarian free will” is consistent with the language of Article 8 in the phrase “actual free will (the ability to choose between two options).”

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A Commentary on Article Eight of “A Statement of Traditional Southern Baptist Understanding of God’s Plan of Salvation ”


NOTE: a revised version of this article has been posted.


By Braxton Hunter, PhD, Professor of Philosophy and Apologetics at Trinity College of the Bible and Theological Seminary in Newburgh, Indiana, and former President of the Conference of Southern Baptist Evangelists


Of the utmost importance for discussions relevant to the the entirety of the document in question is what is meant by the authors when they use the term “free will.” It is not uncommon for laymen and theologians alike to misunderstand the terminology and philosophical implications of this central subject. As is the case with so many of the elements comprising a proper biblical worldview, one cannot merely rely on the vernacular of the 21st century to grasp the concepts with which thinkers have grappled throughout the ages. Moreover, in an effort to limit one’s own bias, it is prudent to step outside of the understanding of free will that has been fostered by his preferred doctrinal stance. It is also not enough to settle this issue by merely defining terms. The truth of man’s free will and the reality of God’s sovereignty are in symphony with one another in Article 8. The charge that non-Calvinists deny, limit, or reduce the sovereignty of God has been answered. Indeed, if the intention of Article 8’s affirmation is properly understood, the charge has been laid to rest.

Commentaries on previous articles have briefly addressed the question of what freewill actually is, yet here it becomes necessary to flesh it out in detail. Typically, Calvinists deny that they are what philosophers refer to as “hard-determinists.” On this view, most common among philosophical naturalists, free will is merely illusory. One may experience the various events and actions of his life as though they represent genuine choices, however, this is a byproduct of living in a closed system of cause and effect. No choice, of any kind, actually exists. Conversely, many non-Calvinists hold to what is known as “libertarian free will.” According to this model, man has, as a special gift from God, the ability to transcend cause and effect and actually make real decisions. These decisions may be influenced by outside factors, but not to the point of coercion. “Libertarian free will” is consistent with the language of Article 8 in the phrase “actual free will (the ability to choose between two options).”

Read more ...