Read Part 1
What does the text not say? Neither (13:8) nor any other references to the book state the deciding factor of how names came to be in the book. Calvinists treat the passage as though it does state the determining factor, which is God’s determination to elect some to salvation, and therefore record their names; however, it does not.
It tells us that names were recorded before the foundation of the world, and none of those names will ever be removed (Revelation 3:5). It does not tell us why some names were placed in the book and others were not. Thus, from the text alone, one can only derive certainty not causality, and security not selective process. To wit, the passage tells us nothing about why a person’s name is in it despite Calvinists’ certainty that it is due to God’s unconditional monergistic elective purposes. One must let the passage say what it says and no more, and then look elsewhere to establish the determiner for names being placed in or excluded from the book.
**The title below dons chapter 16 in Pastor Ronnie Rogers’ book, “Reflections of a Disenchanted Calvinist.” Obviously, the subject matter is election. The author has permitted SBCToday to post the entirety of the chapter. At apx. 4,000 words, the chapter will appear in four installments. Here is the first.**
I affirm that the “Lamb’s book of life” contains all the names of those who have or ever will be saved. I also affirm that the names have been written in the book since eternity past (Revelation 13:8). I further affirm those in the book are there because of exercising grace-enabled faith unto salvation and could have done otherwise, and those not in the book could have been there by exercising grace-enabled faith.
The means of this grace enablement include but are not limited to: conviction of the Holy Spirit (John 16:7-11), working of the Holy Spirit (Hebrews 6:1-6), good soil (Matthew 13:1-23), and the power of the gospel (Romans 1:16). Further, I affirm that man, because of these gracious provisions and workings of God, can choose to seek God, such as the Bereans, where it says because they studied the Scripture, “therefore many of them believed” (Acts 17:12). Moreover, no one can come to God without God drawing (John 6:44), and that God is drawing all men (John 12:32). The same Greek word for draw, helku?, is used in both verses. “About 115 passages condition salvation on believing alone, and about 35 simply on faith.”[i] Other grace enablements may include providential workings in other people, situations, and timing or circumstances that are a part of grace to provide the most optimal moment for an individual to choose to follow Christ.
The editors of SBCToday present a two-part interview with Ronnie W. Rogers – pastor, Southern Baptist statesman, and former Calvinist — whose 2012 book, “Reflections of a Disenchanted Calvinist,” recently caught our attention. SBCToday will also post selected excerpts from his books in the ensuing days.
Ronnie is senior pastor of Trinity Baptist Church in Norman, Okla., a university city cited by the North American Mission Board in 2006 as the most unchurched in the state. Pastor Rogers’ expositional sermons draw large collegiate crowds during the school year as he preaches and teaches (and writes) from a biblical perspective that boldly challenges popular culture.
What was the tipping point in your life that caused your trek away from Calvinism? Did you have a sense of breaking new ground, or that you were returning to teachings, sermons, etc., that you had known in your earliest Christian experience?
No, I did not return to earlier beliefs, it was brand new ground for me, scary, and very disconcerting. But I have, by God’s grace, always awakened every day wanting to know God more, both cognitively and experientially.