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

June 26, 2012

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).”

Nevertheless, it is not our position that man can freely ascend to God without the offer and work of “the Holy Spirit through the Gospel.” Rather, this offer and work is available to all. The denial “that the decision of faith is an act of God rather than a response of the person,” means that although God is responsible for the salvific work and offer, man is responsible for receiving or rejecting the gift.

What is often considered to be a middle ground position between these two understandings is known as “compatibilism.” Overwhelmingly, Calvinists understand human freedom in this light. In compatibilism, man is free to do whatever he wants, but not free to want whatever he wants. That is to say, man has freedom to exercise his will in accordance with his desires, but he has no control over those desires. Since man cannot manipulate those desires, and man is not naturally inclined toward God, the compatibilist Christian maintains that man will never freely respond to God on his own. However, it is often maintained by Calvinists that, “There is a mysterious wonder in this truth that the sovereign God effectually brings persons to salvation in perfect harmony with their free will and response to the gospel.” [1]

What is troubling for many non-Calvinists, is that there is no observable, practical difference between determinism and compatibilism. To say that man is free to do what he wants, but not free to want what he wants, is to say that man is not genuinely free to make undetermined choices. It is for precisely this reason that compatibilism is often referred to as “soft-determinism.” On these grounds, William Lane Craig asserts, “Determinists reconcile universal, divine, causal determinism with human freedom by re-interpreting freedom in compatibilist terms. Compatibilism entails determinism, so there’s no mystery here. The problem is that adopting compatibilism achieves reconciliation only at the expense of denying what various Scriptural texts seem clearly to affirm: genuine indeterminacy and contingency. [2]

Since Scripture so frequently gives the impression that man is not only free, but responsible, the text seems to support some version of libertarian freedom. If this were not the case, then a number of biblical passages (such as those documented in the statement) become awkward. If man is bound by his will to only choose according to his sinful desires, then he simply cannot choose godliness. Worse still, he is punished for choosing “A” rather than “C” when, in fact, only “A, B, and D” were available to him. Such a proposal strikes the thinker as absurd. One might retort that this is precisely the beauty of Calvinism. God breaks in and draws the lost individual out of the bondage of his will and into a grace that is, quite literally, irresistible. This does not resolve the problem.

First, while this does sound quite pleasing with respect to the new believer, it does not avoid the logically awkward situation of the sinner being punished for choosing one of his only sinful options, “A.” In, for example, Luke 12:4 and Mark 9:42-49, Jesus himself is found warning individuals of what will happen if they remain at enmity with God. He stresses the nature and reality of hell to serve as a clear motivation and clarion call to redemption. In the well-known Matthew 23:37-39 passage, Jesus explains that peace could have been had on the part of the unbelievers he references if only they would come to God, but he says of them, “you were not willing.” While, many Calvinists are quick to point out that salvation may not have been in view here, the call to make a libertarian choice in submission to the Father surely is. If compatibilism is true, then there is no way that these stiffnecked people could have chosen “C”; thus, the passionate declaration of Christ would have been misdirected. But, what about proof texts for compatibilism?

Ephesians 1:11 explains, “In Him we were also made His inheritance, predestined according to the purpose of the One who works out everything in agreement with the decision of His will.” – Non-Calvinist Southern Baptists have always agreed that God “works out everything in agreement with the decision of his will.” What the passage does not say is precisely how this predestination occurs. Is it with respect to the conformity to the image of God’s Son, for those who God knows will be saved? Is it with respect to the church in general, as N.T. Wright has said? Is it predestination as the Molinist understands it? Each of these is a possible understanding of predestination that has been held by strong Southern Baptists throughout the decades. Thus, this verse is hardly a demonstration of compatibilism.

John 8:34 declares, “Jesus responded, ‘I assure you: Everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin.’” – Indeed, the man in prison shackles may still see the authorities through the bars and beg for mercy. Moreover, all of us experience the addicting power of sin in this world. Yet, to say that man cannot cry out in repentance is going beyond the text and into eisegesis. In context, this was said in response to the Jews who were claiming that they were not enslaved by any other earthly authority. Jesus was demonstrating that we are still plagued with sin.

John 6:44 explains, “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him, and I will raise him up on the last day.” — This hearkens back to the ongoing debate regarding limited atonement. Non-Calvinist Southern Baptists hold that the Savior knocks on the heart’s door of the lost of this world. This is not limited to a chosen few. Moreover, it may even be the case, in context, that when Jesus goes on to say, “Everyone who has listened to and learned from the Father comes to Me,” that he is referring to the God-fearing Jews who were open to God’s message through Jesus and became some of his earthly disciples. Either way, this is not a declaration of compatibilism.

Secondly, the result of this problematic understanding of biblical freedom is compounded by the questionable separation of the “general” and “effectual” calls of God. Article 8 denies this distinction because many non-Calvinists read scripture with a “libertarian” view of free will. This is not to say that they assume libertarian free will a priori. Instead, they see it as the view of the biblical authors for the reasons detailed above. Furthermore, the purpose of the general call is hard to locate on any other view. If the effectual call goes out to only the elect, and only the elect can respond to it, then what of the general call? Two possible reasons for the general call come into view. It could be that the general call is merely the byproduct of the preaching of the word for the elect. In attempting to spread the gospel so that the elect might respond, the message spills over into the ears of the unelect. They hear, but cannot respond to the message. After all, Calvinists agree that they should evangelize every person because of our ignorance of who is and is not elect. Still, on this view, the general call did not even actually go out to every man. It went out to the elect and was heard by others. Perhaps, the general call exists so that the guilt of those who do not respond to it is made even more apparent. However, if this is the case, we must loop back to the problem previously mentioned. They are still being punished for choosing “A” rather than “C,” when “C” was not available to them. Either way, what is the purpose of the general call? The division seems to be a strange byproduct of a compatibilistic view of biblical freedom. Such a division is not necessary for those who see biblical freedom as libertarian, and thus it is denied in the statement.

As for common proof texts related to the division of the effectual and general calls, these passages (such as Romans 8:29-30), when properly exegeted, do not require readers to fall into a framework which may be wrought with the philosophical problems mentioned. As Dr. Yarnell points out in his article, various Southern Baptists have maintained various Calvinistic and non-Calvinistic interpretations of biblical election. Is the Calvinistic explanation of such texts the only possible understanding? Does it represent a position that can be demonstrated with overwhelming certainty by Southern Baptists? Surely not. When combined with the problematic and philosophically awkward items that would follow from a compatibilistic view, non-Calvinists are justified in rejecting such a notion in favor of one which avoids these pitfalls.

Ultimately, God is sovereign over man in that he is in control and could have acted otherwise. As the affirmation clarifies, man has libertarian free will because it was endowed to him by God, “as an expression of His sovereignty.”


[1] Daniel Akin, “How to be a Slave,” http://www.danielakin.com/wp-content/uploads/old/Resource_595/Jude%201.2%20Happy%20To%20
Be%20A%20Slave%20manuscript.pdf
, (accessed June 11, 2012).

[2] William Lane Craig, “Molinism vs. Calvinism,” http://www.reasonablefaith.org/molinism-vs-calvinism (accessed June 11, 2012).


Today’s Discussion Topic:
Article 8: The Free Will of Man
in “A Statement of the Traditional Southern Baptist
Understanding of God’s Plan of Salvation

A Statement of the Traditional Southern Baptist Understanding of the 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 120,000 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 8: The Free Will of Man. 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 theological issues!

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Discussion of Article Eight: The Free Will of Man 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 8. Please limit your comments here to Article 8.

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Jeremy Crowder

This is my favorite part of the statement. Dr.Hunter I feel does a good job explaining the concerns of us non-calvinists on determinism and compatibilism which I agree many of us me included have trouble with the differences between the two.

Mark Morrison

Where exactly does it state in the Bible that God knocks on the hearts door of the lost of this world ? It doesn’t and to use Revelation 3:20 in that context is misleading the lost.

Mark Morrison

Dr. Hunter States “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.” I’m sorry but to simply say I’m right and your wrong doesn’t end this debate. I am going over the text that has been provided by you and have yet to find evidence of “free will”. It could be that I’m looking in the wrong places could you suggest some? Before you suggest John 3:16 I have already looked at it. Also your speculation of what Jesus meant and what He said in John 6:44 is very far apart. I have long held to the teaching of “free will” but the deeper I get in the Bible the more I lean toward election.

Thanks for your time,
Mark Morrison

Greg Alford

I am going to hazard two serious questions here…

1). Does God Himself posses the same sort of free will as here expressed in this statement? If so then why cannot God choose to sin? If your answer is that it is against God’s nature, being righteous, to choose sin… Then you are limiting God’ s will according to his nature. If God is so limited by his nature does it not stand to reason that man is also limited by his nature? And if that is your answer, then I must ask you what effect, if any, did the fall of man have upon the nature of man? Is man still the same creature he was in the garden and if not how so?

2). Does man retain his free will in heaven? Or, is it only in this life that the will is truly free?

Grace for the Journey,

    Godismyjudge

    Per the TS, we receive a nature inclined toward sin that cannot save itself and needs the Holy Spirit’s drawing to come to Christ.

    God be with you,
    Dan

    Jeremy Crowder

    Greg I admit I have never thought of that question. God is the opposite of sin so I don’t see God and sin in the same space. Man however when we go against God commits sin when we follow God we aren’t in sin. The concept of sin makes no sense when we try to apply it to God since the definition of sin.
    Theology
    a. Deliberate disobedience to the known will of God.
    b. A condition of estrangement from God resulting from such disobedience.
    http://www.thefreedictionary.com/Sin
    I read this defintion and I think “Can God disobey God?” It to me is not very reasonable.

      Greg Alford

      Ok, I think you missed my point about both God and man’s will being linked (bound) to our separate natures. Apart from Jesus Why has every man who was ever born sinned? If man has a true free will then why have none ever chosen not to sin? If Election destroys man’s free will then so does his fallen nature, for “all have gone astray…” If all will eventually sin then free will is a myth. (Notice, I am speaking about “free will” here and not “free choice”, which is the making of decisions according to our nature).

      How about question #2???

        Godismyjudge

        Greg,

        All sin because all have a sin nature. That does not mean we don’t have free will. Minimally, we can still choose between sinful options. But God’s grace also enables obedience and unlike Calvinism we find in scripture that God’s grace extends to all mankind. So there’s plenty of room for free will and a sin nature.

        In heaven, we will have free will, in that we will still be able to choose between good options (even if in our glorified state we will no longer be able to choose evil ones). There are a great number of passages that look at this life as a test. In heaven, those tests will be over.

        God be with you,
        Dan

          Shane Dodson

          A will that is enslaved to sin (John 8:34) cannot be–in any sense–considered “free” other than an enslaved will is free to engage in activity which corresponds to that which enslaves…which, in our case, is SIN.

          Greg Alford

          Dan,

          “All sin because all have a sin nature.”

          Exactly! Our “will” is bound to our “nature”… and all have sinned because all have a sin nature. So if we are all “predestine” to sin then our will is not “truly free” then is it? Again, I am not arguing against “free choice”… just trying to make the point that we, and God, cannot choose that which is contrary to our nature.

          The BFM2000 teaches that “Regeneration is a work of the Holy Spirit” that frees the will so that a “truly free” response of faith and repentance can be made.

          Godismyjudge

          Shane and Greg,

          Despite our sin nature our will remains free in the ways I describe above (i.e. free to choose between sinful options and freed by God’s grace). But just because we agree that we need God’s grace to be able to believe does not mean we agree on the details (or even the big picture).

          On the issue of determinism, sin nature isn’t really relevant. Per libertarian free will, we could still choose say to either get drunk or yell at our wife. But if God has determined a person to get drunk, he must get drunk and cannot yell at his wife.

          Another difference that remains (even if we agree we need grace to believe) is the idea that given our sin nature, we require regeneration or irresistible grace to be able to believe.

          Another difference is the idea that God only reaches out to the elect and is not drawing the non-elect. Meanwhile God is commanding, inviting, warning and attracting the non-elect. That’s God treating someone who is unable as if he is able.

          So some serious differences remain, even if we agree we need God’s grace to be able to believe.

          God be with you,
          Dan

          Greg Alford

          Dan,

          I am glad we agree that no one ever gets saved apart from “a work of the Holy Spirit”. That is no small point of agreement!

          The rest are just details… :-)

          Hope you have a blessed day in the Lord,

          Randall Cofield

          GodismyJudge,

          I’ll stir the pot a bit here. :-)

          So…we’re dead in sin (Eph.2) and unable to choose God…but God “makes us alive” (Eph.2) so that we can make a “free will” choice for or against him…but if we reject Him we return to being spiritually dead?

          How does that work?

          Grace and Peace

          Shane Dodson

          “Despite our sin nature our will remains free in the ways I describe above”

          No, Dan…my Lord tells me that everybody is enslaved to sin.

          Are you saying that we are enslaved to sin EXCEPT…(fill in the blank)?

          Greg Alford

          Randall,

          You make a good point… If we accept that Regeneration precedes repentance then what are we to do with those who might reject God after Regeneration?

          My answer is twofold: (1) No single doctrine stands in isolation, but is instead a part of a much larger system that must be considered as a whole. One doctrine is linked to another, which is linked to another, and yet another. This is why both Calvinism and Arminianism are comprised of several important doctrines that must be considered together. In this case the doctrine of “Irresistible Grace” (the I in TULIP) teaches that having been set free the “will” of a regenerate person will find God’s offer of forgiveness in Christ “Irresistible”. In short, if God regenerates someone they will accept his offer of forgiveness. (2) Eph.2:1 says what it says. I don’t know anyway around it.

          Godismyjudge

          Shane,

          You asked: “Are you saying that we are enslaved to sin EXCEPT…(fill in the blank)?”

          Nothing. Without God freeing us, we would remain in our miserable state.

          Hum… I get the feeling you think I am going to rip the mask off at some point and reveal that I really am a semi-Pelagian. If that the case (and I don’t know that it is) the “big names” that have thrown out that charge have done some damage.

          God be with you,
          Dan

        Godismyjudge

        Greg,

        Hope you have a nice day as well.

        God be with you,
        Dan

        Godismyjudge

        Randall,

        I can only answer that by making a discinction. If by regeneration we mean the impartation of eternal life, then no one ever comes to life and dies. This I think is regeneration in the stricktest sense. If however, by regeneration, we mean God’s whole work in conversion, including His drawing us before we come to faith, then in this sense people can be drawn at one time and not another. Scripture often speaks of resistible grace and the consequences for resisting sometimes is the removal of grace (i.e. My Spirit will not strive with man forever or I have given her space to repent).

        God be with you,
        Dan

          Shane Dodson

          Scenario…

          Two men are drowning. One man reaches out, grabs a life preserver that is offered, and is saved.

          The other man either doesn’t reach out at all, and is not saved.

          What is the difference between the two men?

          The life preserver? Nope. It was available to both.

          The difference is the man’s effort to reach out to grab it.

          Thus is the claim of the synergist. He says with his mouth that Christ is 100% responsible for his salvation, but his doctrine shows him to be inconsistent.

          Remember…one dies lost. Another dies justified.

          Synergistic doctrine says the difference is the man who chose correctly.

          Godismyjudge

          Shane,

          How do you escape your own scenario? Which of the following do you deny?

          1) Believing is man’s action
          2) men are responsible for their actions
          Therefore, 3) man is responsible for belief.

          The real answer (for both Calvinists and Traditionalist) is that believing doesn’t save people. Rather, God mercifully chooses to save believers.

          God be with you,
          Dan

John

Your joking right?
“SBC Today mistakenly posted an earlier version of Dr. Hunter’s article. Now posted is his completed article. We apologize for our inadvertent mistake.”
24 hours of Commentary on Article Eight posted and responded to. And you want a do over with no pointing out of errors that may currently still be misleading your readers.

    Braxton Hunter

    The entire content of the unrevised post is still present here, all comments regarding the unrevised article are still relevant. None of the shared content was changed in any way. What are you talking about? I stand by everything in the original article. None of that data was changed.

    With all respect to commenters, I have spent an entire day defending my comments in lengthy posts and enjoyed doing so very much. At this point I will just say that while I have had a great time and love all of you guys and gals on both sides, I’m going to bow out. You guys have at it. Of course I reserve the right to become incredibly impatient and post anyway. But I’ll try not to.

      John

      If I misinterpreted what SBC Today states I apologize to you Dr. Hunter. You put a lot of work into replying to commenters and I am sure you did not want that work lost. I was trying to understand statement 8 better and your dialogue helped. Sorry we have lost it, it was good reference material.

      Knowing that you come from an academia background I am sure you along with others here would have desired different outcome.

        Braxton Hunter

        Thanks. All of those comments are still up on the previous post for reference. Just look on the right side of the screen at the top.

          John

          Thanks Dr. Hunter. I did not know to look at the right hand side of the screen for links to both versions along with your responses to questions. Clarity is not always as clear as I need. May unity with Christ be our Goal.

          Soli Deo gloria

          Mike Davis

          Dr Hunter,
          Thanks for all the interaction. You were a good sport to engage with us to such a degree in the comments of the first post.

      Jeff

      Dr. Hunter,

      You quote scholars, theological terms, and a few verses – but you forgot a few of the very key texts that must be dealt with in this discussion of free will.

      Romans 3:10-11 – as it is written:
      “None is righteous, no, not one;
      [11] no one understands;
      no one seeks for God.

      Ephesians 2:1 – And you were dead in the trespasses and sins

      John 1:12-13 – But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, [13] who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

      Key point – no man (through history – Jew or Gentile) seeks after God. Prior to salvation, we were dead in our sins and could not come to life on our own (spiritually). The only way a person is born again is by the will of God – not the will of man. These verses make it abundantly clear.

      Although Adam and Eve enjoyed the free will as you describe (Libertarian) – after they fell – no person – including yourself – has enjoyed that type of freedom. We are born sinners as David mentioned in Psalm 51. Romans 5:12 – sin entered into the world and death (spiritual and physical) came into the world as a result.

      You also error when you claim that God’s call is extended to all people. What do you do with the people who have never heard the gospel? Did they have freedom to come to God? What happens to them when they die – having never heard the gospel?

        Braxton

        Jeff,
        I’m just now seeing this post about a week after I was last on this page. Sorry for the delayed response.

        As for Adam and Eve having free will, I’m glad that you see this free will as libertarian. That means that necessarily you cannot hold that man having free will conflicts with God’s sovereignty.

        As far as the passages that indicate that no man seeks after God, and that man is dead in his sin, I think that Calvinists carry this claim too far. The evidence is clear. Once we get saved, we are dead to sin. Does this mean we never sin? surely not. Thus, the way Paul speaks of deadness is not the same as what the Calvinist needs it to be. The exasperation that no one seeks after God is, I think, Just that.

        The fate of the unevangelized is an interesting topic, which I believe warrants the thoughtful consideration of all believers, but so long as there are any possible explanations for how God deals justly with them I do not see a problem. There are various explanations of how God judges such souls, and if any one of them is even remotely possible, then we have established a philosophical defeater.

    Bob Hadley

    John,

    Braxton submitted an original copy for the editors of SBC Today to look at before the decision was even made as to who would write the response for article 8. This is what inadvertently got published. Dr. Hunter submitted a second article with more content later and because of all that was going on last week with the SBC etc, the second article was overlooked.

    I am not associated with SBC Today but I am familiar with what happened in this particular case and it is as it has been stated. I am sure you never fail to overlook things with the possible exception of the tone you spoke in questioning the reposting of this corrected article, which I am sure you did not intend.

    ><>”

      John

      Bob between your tone and my tone through out these statement posting, we both have a lot to repent for.

      Soli Deo gloria

Godismyjudge

I like the new version’s added interaction with texts such as Matthew 23:37, John 6:44, Ephesians 1:11 and John 8:34. It makes for a much stronger presentation.

God be with you,
Dan

Malcolm Yarnell

Very helpful. Thank you, sir.

volfan007

I really would like to see some more of yall deal with what Mike Morrison said in the other post. He said:

“A New Testament Example of Libertarian Free Will: Mark 10:17-23

The rich, young ruler “came running, knelt before Him, and asked Him, ‘Good Teacher, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?’” (NKJV)

He was obviously under conviction; he knew that something was lacking. He had outwardly obeyed the commandments but had not completely surrendered his life in repentance and faith. Jesus made it clear that righteousness apart from God is impossible.

“Then Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, ‘One thing you lack: go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow Me.’ But he was sad at this word, and went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. Then Jesus looked around and said to His disciples, ‘How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God!’”

The rich, young ruler had an opportunity to be saved, but he made the wrong libertarian freewill choice. Jesus indeed loved him but didn’t regenerate him. If regeneration precedes repentance and faith in logical order, why didn’t Jesus regenerate this man that He loved? If Jesus did regenerate him, why did the man refuse to surrender every part of his life? Most Calvinists believe that regeneration occurs at the same temporal moment as repentance and faith but that it precedes repentance and faith in logical order.”

David

    rhutchin

    The rich young ruler asks, “What shall I do…” He asks Jesus to identify a work that he can do to gain eternal life. Jesus, knowing his heart, naturally specifies a work that the young man would never be willing to do. What we see is that salvation is not by works. As it says that “Jesus loved the man…,” we might speculate that the process of salvation involves bringing the sinner to the point that he realizes that there is nothing he can do to be saved. Contrast the rich young ruler with the man who said to God, “Be merciful to me, a sinner.” How could the pharisaical young ruler, a sinner in denial, think that he could so easily be justified except through the distorted thinking of a sinful nature?

      volfan007

      rhutchin,

      The fact is…Jesus LOVED him. Jesus told him the way of salvation. The man chose to not be saved….even though Jesus loved him.

      I’d say that the man had a real choice, and the Lord Jesus really wanted to save this man; but the rich young ruler WOULD NOT…just like Jerusalem WOULD NOT, even though many times, Jesus would’ve gathered them under His wings.

      David

        rhutchin

        We see that the way of salvation offered by Jesus was a “work” was it not? There is no discussion of faith as the means of salvation. The rich young ruler was unwilling to do the specific work Jesus told him to do.

        The question here is whether the man would have been saved had he done the work Jesus required of him. I think not, and that Jesus picked a work that He knew the rich young ruler would not do.

        The choice here is interesting. The rich young ruler was not willing to incur the cost of working for his salvation and he went away sorrowful when he could have had that same salvation for free without giving away anything.

        Randall Cofield

        David,

        You said:

        I’d say that the man (RYR) had a real choice, and the Lord Jesus really wanted to save this man; but the rich young ruler WOULD NOT…

        It seems that you are interpreting this passage that Jesus’ will/desire/wish/etc. was to save the RYR, but the RYR frustrated Jesus’ will/wish/desire/etc.

        If that is the case, how would you interpret these passages?

        Mt 19:24 ….I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.

        To which the disciples responded, marveling:

        Mt 19:25 “Who then can be saved?”

        To which Jesus responded:

        Mt 19:26 “With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.”

        My question is simple:

        In light of these passages, did Jesus have the ability to save the RYR?

        If Jesus didn’t have the power to save the RYR, right there on the spot, how do you interpret the above passages?

        Grace to you, my brother.

      Mike Morris

      Before Jesus offered the RYR a choice, He explained that salvation is not by works (Mark 10:18). By saying that only God is good, He meant that only God is good in the absolute sense (i.e., immutably, perfectly good). Because the RYR could not meet that perfect standard, then he obviously could not be saved by his works. As I said in the post, “Jesus made it clear that righteousness apart from God is impossible.” Later in the passage, Jesus offered the RYR a choice (Mark 10:21): Choose to follow Me or choose to keep your riches. In order to become a Christian, a person must be willing to surrender all of his life to Jesus in repentance and faith. The RYR was not willing to do so. Thus, Jesus adequately explained salvation to the RYR and offered him a clear choice. You said:

      “Jesus, knowing his heart, naturally specifies a work that the young man would never be willing to do.”

      You seem to imply here that Jesus gave the RYR a choice between two alternatives, but the RYR really did not have the ability to choose to surrender all of his life to Jesus. If the RYR was unable to surrender his life to Christ, then why did Jesus lovingly offer him such a choice? If you believe that regeneration precedes repentance and faith in logical order, why did Jesus not regenerate this man that He loved?

        Les Prouty

        Mike,

        “If you believe that regeneration precedes repentance and faith in logical order, why did Jesus not regenerate this man that He loved?”

        Because the RYR was not of the elect, or as I and others have said earlier, he was like me and later repented and believed (though that is speculation, but a possibility. We’re not told).

          volfan007

          Les,

          But, Jesus LOVED him, and offered him salvation…

          David

          Les Prouty

          David,

          I and others have offered that in a sense God loves all, not in a saving sense though.

          But even if I grant that Jesus loved the RYR in a salvific sense, if the RYR was not being effectually called at that time, then he would have walked away. How many times did you or I walk away from a gospel call before you or I finally responded. What was the difference? Effectual call.

          Now before someone says, “yes, but this was JESUS offering him salvation,” remember that a) we cannot know why Jesus would do that in this particular case and b) Judas was with Jesus and followed Him too. Why didn’t “take?”

          volfan007

          Judas rejected….he had a lot of light….

          David

          Les Prouty

          “Judas rejected….he had a lot of light….”

          Yes he was in close proximity to the Savior, as were many people who rejected Jesus. Why? God did not draw Judas to Himself. God did not open his heart like Lydia. God did not effectually call Judas.

          Les

          Mike Morris

          Les, in answer to my question about why Jesus did not regenerate the RYR, you said:

          “Because the RYR was not of the elect, or as I and others have said earlier, he was like me and later repented and believed (though that is speculation, but a possibility. We’re not told).”

          1. If the RYR was not of the elect, why didn’t Jesus give that explanation to His disciples in Mark 10:23. Instead, He said, “How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God!” Are all rich people non-elect?

          2. If the RYR was elect, why would Jesus not regenerate Him during this time when He presented the gospel to him? The RYR was clearly under conviction and had a sense of urgency (Mark 10:17: He ran to Jesus, knelt before Him, and asked Him how to inherit eternal life). The RYR clearly understood the choice to be made, and he made his choice and walked away sorrowfully. Jesus used the RYR as an object lesson of rejection for His disciples. He didn’t say, “Well, later the RYR will make the right choice when I effectually call him.

          Les Prouty

          Mike, good questions. I’ll answer to the best of my understanding and speculation.

          1. If the RYR was not of the elect, why didn’t Jesus give that explanation to His disciples in Mark 10:23. Instead, He said, “How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God!” Are all rich people non-elect?

          I don’t know why Jesus did not give that explanation at that time. And of course I don’t think that all people who are rich are non-elect. I have it on pretty good supposition that the founder of Chick-Fil-A is wealthy and a believer.

          2. If the RYR was elect, why would Jesus not regenerate Him during this time when He presented the gospel to him? The RYR was clearly under conviction and had a sense of urgency (Mark 10:17: He ran to Jesus, knelt before Him, and asked Him how to inherit eternal life). The RYR clearly understood the choice to be made, and he made his choice and walked away sorrowfully. Jesus used the RYR as an object lesson of rejection for His disciples. He didn’t say, “Well, later the RYR will make the right choice when I effectually call him.

          I don’t know why, assuming he was elect and trusted Christ later. Perhaps he was like me and many others who heard the gospel perhaps thousands of times, even making false professions with tears streaming down my face, but ultimately walked away from the tings of God until 1983.

        Lydia

        “He said, “How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God!” Are all rich people non-elect?”

        Bingo! Perfect time to mention the elect, eh?

        But the problem is that the text says Jesus looked at him and LOVED him……. and then consigned him to hell by withholding regeneration? We all know the RYR had no choice in the matter according to Calvinism.

        They cannot get around that and all the parsing in the world won’t work. The text said Jesus looked at him and LOVED him. But not enough to make him one of the elect.

        That was the passage that I could no reconcile the “I” in TULIP. Our Lord could look at someone, LOVE them and then send them to everlasting hell with NO choice in the matter? This is the Calvinist Savior

          Shane Dodson

          “Our Lord could look at someone, LOVE them and then send them to everlasting hell with NO choice in the matter? This is the Calvinist Savior”

          You don’t undestand Calvinism.

          A choice can only be made which comports with the NATURE of the one making the choice.

          A person cannot make a choice that runs contrary to his/her nature UNLESS his/her nature is supernaturally changed.

    Shane Dodson

    “The rich, young ruler had an opportunity to be saved, but he made the wrong libertarian freewill choice. Jesus indeed loved him but didn’t regenerate him. If regeneration precedes repentance and faith in logical order, why didn’t Jesus regenerate this man that He loved? If Jesus did regenerate him, why did the man refuse to surrender every part of his life? Most Calvinists believe that regeneration occurs at the same temporal moment as repentance and faith but that it precedes repentance and faith in logical order.”

    You miss the entire point of the accounts of the rich young ruler. Who is say that that young man didn’t come to repentance later in his life (he was “young” after all)? Or perhaps he went to his grave loving his goodies over Christ.

    In either case, the application of that story is not a doctrine of regeneration.

    What are Arminians to do with the conclusion of this text when Jesus proclaims (concerning salvation)…

    “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

    Amen!

      volfan007

      Shane,

      Of course, its impossible for a man to save himself. A man, enslaved to his sin, will not even seek after God. It takes a supernatural work of the Holy Spirit to save a man.

      But, the simple fact remains….Jesus loved him, and offered salvation to him, but he walked away by a free choice of his own will….

      David

        Shane Dodson

        “But, the simple fact remains….Jesus loved him, and offered salvation to him, but he walked away by a free choice of his own will….”

        You’re reading your idea of libertarian free will into the text. That is eisegesis.

        We know why the rich young man walked away. The text tells us why….you only need to read it.

        “…because he had great possessions.”

        He was enslaved to his greed and, thus, unwilling and unable to come to Christ.

        “And he said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.”
        (John 6:65 ESV)

        “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws (literally means “drag”) him. And I will raise him up on the last day.”
        (John 6:44 ESV)

        So we don’t have to assume some man-centered doctrine. We know why the rich young man didn’t come to Christ.

      Mike Morris

      Shane, you said the following:

      “Who is say that that young man didn’t come to repentance later in his life (he was ‘young’ after all)? Or perhaps he went to his grave loving his goodies over Christ. In either case, the application of that story is not a doctrine of regeneration. What are Arminians to do with the conclusion of this text when Jesus proclaims (concerning salvation)… ‘With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.’”

      1. In regard to the possibility of the RYR coming to Christ later in life, you seem to be implying that Jesus did not regenerate him during the conversation in Mark 10. Why not? Jesus loved the RYR with agape love. Why would Jesus give the RYR a choice between two alternatives when the RYR could only choose one alternative? John MacArthur Jr., a Calvinist, said the following:

      “When one rejects Christ at the peak experience of knowledge and conviction, he will not accept at a lesser level. So salvation becomes impossible.”

      MacArthur, “Hebrews,” The MacArthur New Testament Commentary (Chicago, Illinois: Moody Press, 1983), 148.

      Clearly, the RYR rejected Christ “at the peak experience of knowledge and conviction” in Mark 10.

      2. In regard to Jesus’ statement in Mark 10:27, I agree with David that it is “impossible for a man to save himself.” The supernatural, convicting work of the Holy Spirit is necessary.

        Shane Dodson

        “In regard to the possibility of the RYR coming to Christ later in life, you seem to be implying that Jesus did not regenerate him during the conversation in Mark 10. ”

        I’m not implying anything, Mark. The text speaks for itself.

        “In regard to Jesus’ statement in Mark 10:27, I agree with David that it is “impossible for a man to save himself.” The supernatural, convicting work of the Holy Spirit is necessary.”

        And is the work of man to respond positively necessary as well?

        If you believe that, you’re a synergist.

          Mike Morris

          Shane, correct me if I am misunderstanding you, but I think you are saying that a positive response to a gospel presentation (without being regenerated first?) is a work, a meritorious deed. How is surrender a meritorious deed? No soldier who surrenders is given a medal for surrendering. How is receiving a gift a meritorious deed? It’s the giver of the gift, not the receiver, who does the good deed.

          Shane Dodson

          “The supernatural, convicting work of the Holy Spirit is necessary.”

          So at what point does the Spirit stop working and leave it in the hands of the sinner to “make his choice?”

          Les Prouty

          “So at what point does the Spirit stop working and leave it in the hands of the sinner to “make his choice?””

          That is a great question. How does this Holy Spirit work on men (who ultimately reject the gospel) work? For synergists it is not irresistible grace.

          So how much “wooing” if any does the HS do? When does he let up and let the sinner exercise his libertarian free will?

          Inquiring minds really want to know?

          Mike Morris

          Les and Shane, you asked:

          “So at what point does the Spirit stop working and leave it in the hands of the sinner to “make his choice?”

          The Spirit places the non-Christian under conviction and enables him to see God’s perfect standard of righteousness and understand the gospel, as was the case when Jesus dealt with the rich, young ruler. During this time, the Spirit enables the non-Christian to make a libertarian freewill choice. The Spirit deals with the non-Christian in this way until the non-Christian makes an ultimate, final choice to reject Christ, refusing to surrender his life to Him in repentance and faith.

          Les Prouty

          Mike,

          “The Spirit places the non-Christian under conviction and enables him to see God’s perfect standard of righteousness and understand the gospel, as was the case when Jesus dealt with the rich, young ruler. During this time, the Spirit enables the non-Christian to make a libertarian freewill choice. The Spirit deals with the non-Christian in this way until the non-Christian makes an ultimate, final choice to reject Christ, refusing to surrender his life to Him in repentance and faith.

          In all seriousness and with all due respect, and you know all this how? From what passage?

          Les

          Mike Morris

          Les, we’ve already discussed the rich, young ruler. I’m assuming you want to discuss the ultimate, final rejection of Christ. This is the unpardonable sin. Some people think blasphemy of the Holy Spirit consists simply of attributing the work of Christ to Satan, as the Pharisees did in Matthew 12:24. I believe, however, that what the Pharisees did in that verse was a symptom of their ultimate, final rejection of Christ. While commenting on Matthew 12:31-32, Craig Blomberg said the following:

          “Probably blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is nothing more or less than the unrelenting rejection of his advances.”

          Craig L. Blomberg, “Matthew,” The New American Commentary, ed. David S. Dockery, vol. 22 (Nashville, Tennessee: Broadman Press, 1992), 204.

          Herschel Hobbs also discussed the unpardonable (unforgivable) sin:

          “By continued rejection of Christ the soul becomes so calloused as to be unresponsive to the convicting work of the Holy Spirit—thus no conviction, no repentance, no faith, no salvation. Some question whether this sin is possible now. The writer thinks that it is. Certainly persistent unbelief until death is unpardonable (John 3:18). Even in the midst of life a continued rejection may lead to an inability to respond to the convicting power of the Holy Spirit.”

          Herschel H. Hobbs, What Baptists Believe (Nashville, Tennessee: Broadman Press, 1964), 70.

          E.Y. Mullins and H.W. Tribble, former professors at The Southern Baptist Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, related the unpardonable sin to “hardness of heart”:

          “That sin is hardness of heart which takes the form of opposition to, or blasphemy against, the Holy Spirit. The sphere in which the unpardonable sin takes place is the sphere of the inner relations between God’s Spirit and man’s; and the form it assumes is resistance to the truth which the Spirit reveals.”

          E. Y. Mullins and H. W. Tribble, The Baptist Faith (Nashville, Tennessee: The Sunday School Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, 1935), 47.

          Louis Berkhof also described this sin:

          “This sin consists in the conscious, malicious, and wilful rejection and slandering, against evidence and conviction, of the testimony of the Holy Spirit respecting the grace of God in Jesus Christ, attributing it out of hatred and enmity to the prince of darkness. It presupposes in those who commit it a rather profound knowledge of the truth, an inner illumination of the Holy Spirit, and an intellectual conviction of the truth so strong and powerful as to make an honest denial of it impossible. . . . It is unpardonable, not because its guilt transcends the merits of Christ, or because the sinner is beyond the renewing power of the Holy Spirit; but because it is a sin that excludes all repentance, sears the conscience, and hardens the sinner.”

          Berkhof, Manual of Christian Doctrine, 1933 (Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1998), 147-148.

          John 3:36 is relevant here: “The one who believes in the Son has eternal life, but the one who refuses to believe in the Son will not see life; instead, the wrath of God remains on him” (HCSB).

          The Calvinist Charles H. Spurgeon commented on the verse:

          “The unhappy persons in this text will not believe in Jesus Christ, they reject God’s way of mercy; they hear the gospel, but refuse obedience to its command. . . . It must be admitted that not a few of these persons are blameless as to their morals. You could not, with the closest observation, find either dishonesty, falsehood, uncleanness, or malice in their outward life; they are not only free from these blots, but they manifest positive excellences. Much of their character is commendable. . . . When the Holy Spirit comes to convince men of sin, the especial sin which he brings to light is thus described: ‘Of sin, because they believed not on me.’ . . . Furthermore, the wilful rejection of Christ is also an insult to God the Father. . . . That the text saith it abideth, and the present tense takes a long sweep, for it always will abide on you. But may you not, perhaps, escape from it, by ceasing to exist? The test precludes such an idea. Although it says, that you ‘shall not see life,’ it teaches that God’s wrath is upon you, so that the absence of life is not annihilation. Spiritual life belongs only to believers; you are now without that life, yet you exist, and wrath abides on you, and so it ever must be. While you shall not see life, you shall exist in eternal death, for the wrath of God cannot abide on a non-existent creature. . . . It has been suggested that a sinner, after suffering God’s wrath awhile, may repent, and so escape from it. But our observation and experience prove that the wrath of God never softened anybody’s heart yet, and we believe it never will: those who are suffering divine wrath will go on to harden, and harden, and harden, the more they suffer, the more they will hate: the more they are punished, the more will they sin.”

          Spurgeon, “The Unbeliever’s Unhappy Condition,” sermon number 1012, preached Sept. 24, 1871 at the Metropolitan Tabernacle.

    David H.

    David,

    Just a question. I’ve thought about this a lot. If the rich young ruler was obviously under conviction, why didn’t the Lord just lead him in the sinner’s prayer (or something like it)? If under conviction, the rich young ruler seems to be fruit ripe for the picking. To ask him to sell everything he has and give it away seems extremely odd.

      volfan007

      David H.,

      The Lord didnt lead him to say a sinners prayer, because the rich young ruler was not willing to repent and be saved.

      David

        David H.

        I guess that’s my issue. If repentance is equal to selling everything you have, then the free gift is not really free. Also, if we must have a “willingness” to give away everything in order for any of us to have repentance unto salvation, how can any of us know for certain that we are truly “willing,” unless we too first give it away. Otherwise, we are like Simon Peter, who claimed he would never deny Christ.

          volfan007

          David H.,

          Repentance is not a work, and neither is faith a work. Repentance simply means to turn….to turn to God in a surrendering faith. There’s no works involved in that….that is just simply saving faith.

          David

          David H.

          David,

          Two final questions. 1) I may be missing something, but if repenting is something we do and believing is something we do (both as acts of our wills), how are they not works? 2) Why didn’t our Lord simply respond to the rich young ruler’s question by saying salvation is a gift received by repentance and faith, instead of requiring him to sell everything he had?

          volfan007

          In stressing repentance to the RYR, Jesus knew that this man loved his material wealth and things. This love for his wealth was at the heart of the matter. So, the Lord approached repentance with the RYR, by telling him that he had to be willing to surrender what he loved most….his money and land and things. Jesus went right to the heart of the matter, because He’s God….He knows whats going on inside the heart of a man.

          But, the simple fact is…that the Lord wanted him to be WILLING to give it all up. He wasnt willing to do that. He wasnt ready to surrender.

          David

    Les Prouty

    David,

    Either, the RYR never came to Christ and thus we conclude he was not named among the elect, whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life. If that’s the case, that he was not elect, then of course Jesus would not have irresistibly called him and what we see in the passage is human seeking and human sorrow.

    On the other hand, as Shane said, perhaps he came to faith later. We cannot know that.

    In any case, this in no way is a proof positive of a libertarian free will.

      volfan007

      Les,

      In the least, it gives the Traditionalist Baptists view a Scirptural mooring for our beliefs. In the most, it proves our point. Either way, our view is backed by Scripture.

      David

rhutchin

This is a repost I made on the earlier version. I think it is still accurate.

If I understand the Statement’s affirmation and Dr. Hunter’s defense, then it denies the Calvinist concept of Total Depravity. Thus, a person’s “free will” was granted to man at the creation and not vacated by Adam’s sin. Before and after Adam’s sin, a person is able to consider salvation and make a reasoned decision to accept or reject that salvation because he has the ability to do so via a free will. It would have made sense (to me) for the authors of the statement to just say this directly. They could then have focused the argument on the condition of man after Adam’s sin and have addressed more profitably those Scriptures that Calvinists use to support Total Depravity (as some cited in comments on the earlier version).

The issue here is not really free will but whether the Scriptures describe man as Totally Depraved [recognizing that the term is not found in the Bible but was coined to summarize that which is said in those verses speaking to the spiritual condition of people]. If a person is Totally Depraved, then there is no free will argument (at least, not as we find expressed in the earlier comments).

    Greg Alford

    Show me one man, apart from Jesus Christ, who has lived his life without ever choosing sin… and I will show you a “Free Will”.

    Grace for the Journey,

Dr. Bruce McLaughlin

This is my final post on this website. I leave some parting thoughts.

For nearly 500 years theologians, at least as intelligent as us bloggers, have searched for a “consensus accord” and failed. But now a Southern Baptist Committee is going to start with the thesis of Calvinism (God willed all events) and the antithesis of Arminianism (God did not will all events) and, by some Hegelian Dialectic, produce a stunning synthesis which everyone can embrace? I don’t know whether this is ignorance or arrogance.

These blogs contain a litany of unfounded attacks on Arminianism by ignorant New Calvinist bloggers making Southern Baptists look like fools to the Wesleyans, Nazarenes, Methodists, Free Will Baptists, Pentecostals, and the rest of the Christian community. It might be good for the New Calvinist blogger hit squad to actually review H. Orton Wiley’s Christian Theology or Watson’s Institutes. In the early church, the doctrine of prevenient grace (the grace that comes before) was questioned only by the Gnostics and Manichaeans. Here is a brief summary: (1) Man is completely depraved; prior to regeneration, any good in man must be attributed to the Holy Spirit, (2) the state of nature in which man exists prior to regeneration is a state of preliminary or prevenient grace, (3) in this state, the Holy Spirit tries to call, awaken, draw near, convict and empower. The Spirit leads the sinner from one step to another in proportion as He finds response in the heart and a disposition to obedience, (4) there is human cooperation as the Spirit quickens, aids and directs the free will of man, (5) however, the grace of God may be resisted by the free will of man so as to be rendered ineffectual. This is what the New Calvinist is calling semi-Pelagianism!

Neither a divided church nor a divided denomination can stand. Those who reject the following items cannot comfortably commune with those who embrace them:

•Given two propositions (event happened) and (God willed event), both are true or both are false for every conceivable event.

•Regeneration precedes faith because God elected only certain specific persons for salvation. These persons alone are unconditionally and irresistibly regenerated by the power of the Holy Spirit and subsequently demonstrate repentance, faith and obedience. The souls of most men, women, children and babies are, upon death, sent to eternal damnation never having had an opportunity for salvation. God is self glorified as He watches this plan unfold.

•God is the first-cause of all evil. All tragedy, suffering, disease, decay, iniquity, corruption, immorality, wickedness and depravity covering the manifold of sin in heaven and earth were decreed by God before anything existed except the Trinity.

•In eternity past, God unchangeably ordained everything; therefore, your prayers can change the outcome of nothing.

Signing off,

Bruce McLaughlin

    Greg Alford

    “This is what the New Calvinist is calling semi-Pelagianism!”

    I’m, an “Old Calvinist” and I am calling this Semi-Pelagianism!

    Because it is!!!

    Grace for the Journey,

    rhutchin

    Dr. McLauglin says, “•God is the first-cause of all evil. All tragedy, suffering, disease, decay, iniquity, corruption, immorality, wickedness and depravity covering the manifold of sin in heaven and earth were decreed by God before anything existed except the Trinity.”

    That God decrees an outcome does not require that God cause the outcome. Southern Baptists affirm that God is both omnipotent and omniscient. God knows all outcomes in the future and has the power to change any outcome He chooses. Normally, it seems that God allows natural events to play out without interference form Him. Thus, God could have intervened in the Nazi efforts to kill all Jews but choose not to do so. God allowed evil people to work their evil unhindered by Him. In the same way, God has allowed many things from hurricanes ripping apart New Orleans to tsunamis flooding Indonesia and Japan. There is no way to avoid this conclusion. Nonetheless, it was not necessary for God to cause, incite, or entice the Nazis to act as they did. The Nazis did what came naturally to them.

    Dr. McLauglin says, •In eternity past, God unchangeably ordained everything; therefore, your prayers can change the outcome of nothing.” True, but this means that the certainty that a person’s prayers will be effective is guaranteed. Dr. McLaughlin cannot argue against God ordaining all things so is he arguing the futility of prayer or the power of prayer? Context suggests that he is arguing that prayer is futile but why?

Shane Dodson

If you decide to return to the threads, Dr. McLaughlin…perhaps you can tell us where you get this doctrine of “prevenient grace” from.

It certainly doesn’t come from the Holy Scriptures.

“The Holy Spirit TRIES….?”

How utterly offensive. God doesn’t “try.”

God accomplishes all He purposes to do.

Isaiah 46:10 should serve as an open rebuke to such offensive doctrines.

volfan007

I believe fully in the total depravity of man. I just dont believe it the way that some Calvinists believe it. I dont think the sinfulness of man causes man to be inable to respond to God’s calling, convicting work.

I dont accept the totally, dead man laying on the ground, who cant think, smell, talk, touch, or choose theory. I believe being dead in our sins means that we’re separated from God, and that we’re wondering around in the darkness of this world, with no hope, unless God intervenes. We’re in a stormy sea, with huge waves crashing upon us….with not hope of survival, whatsoever….unless God throws us a rope, and pulls us to His boat.

David

    Shane Dodson

    “I believe fully in the total depravity of man. I just dont believe it the way that some Calvinists believe it. ”

    Do you believe that our will is enslaved to sin or not?

      volfan007

      Shane,

      Yes, I believe that man is a slave to sin. He is dominated by sin. Before a person gets saved, they are most assuredly enslaved to sin. I just dont accept the deterministic philosophy that man is unable to respond to God, just because he’s a slave to sin. I dont accept that slavery to sin means that a man cannot/ is unable to choose whether to follow Christ, or walk away….as did the Rich Young Ruler….as did the people of Jerusalem….

      I understand that you adhere to the deterministic philosophy, which believes that man is so enslaved to sin that he cant even choose. I get it that you’ve accepted Luther’s view of the will of man….that man cannot choose, or that he will never choose God, unless he is first regenerated. I do not agree with you, based on my study of the Word of God.

      David

        Shane Dodson

        “I dont accept that slavery to sin means that a man cannot/ is unable to choose whether to follow Christ, or walk away….as did the Rich Young Ruler….as did the people of Jerusalem….”

        So…we’re enslaved, just not REALLY and TOTALLY enslaved, right?

        You’re defining the word to agree with your tradition.

    Greg Alford

    David,

    So when the Scriptures (not Calvin, or Shane, or Greg) refer to man before Regeneration as being “dead in trespasses and sins” (Eph.2:1) just what does that mean?

    Every translation I have read says “dead”… (see here http://bible.cc/ephesians/2-1.htm)

      Godismyjudge

      Greg,

      Paul’s primary sense for the word “death” in Romans 5 & 6 is under a sentence of death and under judgement in opposition to having eternal life or the gift of life we find in Christ. This sense would make sense in Ephesians 2:1 and seems almost required in Ephesians 5:14 which does not paint the picture of someone who does nothing:

      “Awake, O sleeper,
      and arise from the dead,
      and Christ will shine on you.”

      Likewise Eph 2:2 speaks of the dead those who “walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience”.

      So on a simple exegetical basis, I take dead in Eph 2:1 as meaning under a sentence of death and lacking eternal life.

      However, on a systematic theology perspective, there’s nothing wrong, in principle with the idea that we are dead in the sense that we need God’s grace in order to believe.

      God be with you,
      Dan

        volfan007

        Dan, above, gives a good comment on this.

        I’d say that death means separation from God. That’s what death is. Even in physical death, we dont cease to exist. We’re still living somewhere…thinking, feeling, understanding, etc. Physical death is simply the separation of the soul from the body. Spiritual death is the separation of man from God. Eternal death is separation from God forever in Hell. But, in no situation does death mean “ceasing to exist,” or “cant think, feel, choose, talk, etc.”

        So, Greg, of course, we’re dead in our sins and trespasses, until we’re made alive to God by the power of the Holy Spirit. We’re not alive in Christ. We donot have the life of Jesus. We’re dead to God, unitl we’re made alive….given life….brought into a relationship with the Lord.

        David

          Greg Alford

          “So, Greg, of course, we’re dead in our sins and trespasses, until we’re made alive to God by the power of the Holy Spirit. We’re not alive in Christ. We donot have the life of Jesus. We’re dead to God, unitl we’re made alive….given life….brought into a relationship with the Lord.”

          Very Well Said David…

        Greg Alford

        Thanks for the reply…

        However, if what you say is the proper translation into English of Eph. 2:1 then every single Bible Translation so far has gotten it “grossly wrong”.

        I believe some very gifted language scholars, from a diversity of theological backgrounds, have worked on these translations and not a single one of them gives the translation you are suggesting.

        No, I think the meaning in the original language must be spiritual “death” in this case… Which go toward man’s inability to rescue himself.

          Godismyjudge

          Well I was answering the question of what “dead in trespasses and sins” means rather than how to translate nekros. Nekros should be translated dead.

          God be with you,
          Dan

          Don Johnson

          I don’t think anyone here believes that man has the ability to rescue himself.

          Being able to believe the Gospel without first being regenerated is not the same as rescuing one’s self.

          Tim B

          Paul says in Romans 8:10 “though the body is dead because of sin…” The body is clearly not dead. Paul uses the term “dead” to refer to a current condition that has an inevitable result of death. Sometimes the hero in the movies says to the bad man after a serious affront…”you are a dead man.”

          It could also refer to to a separation that results in a breach in relationship. Expectant father said of his wayward son, “this son of mine was dead but now he is alive.” In Eastern culture, if a child shames the family they may put them out and say, “You are dead to us.” They may even hold a funeral. Incidentally, if the “dead” child repents then he becomes alive again to the family.

          It is not true for any living human being that any of the body, soul or spirit is dead. The only sense in which the spirit could be considered dead is that contact with the heavenly father has been breached by sin. All will be dead if the relationship with the Heavenly Father. In any case, I’m not sure that either colossians 2 or Ephesians 3 (or Romans 3) are attempts to teach that a man cannot hear God’s call or with the help and grace of the Holy Spirit respond. Rather, they seem to be teaching the dire situation in man’s predicament before Christ’s saving work on the cross.

        Randall Cofield

        GodismyJudge,

        The context of Eph. 5:14 (Awake O sleeper…) is the sanctification of those who are already saved.

        “Arise from the dead” is what the dead do at the command of Christ, not what the dead do at the behest of their “libertarian free will.” (see Lazarus).

        Paul’s emphasis here is that they (Ephesian believers) should walk and live as those who have risen from the dead.

        He’s not addressing the lost.

        Peace, brother.

    rhutchin

    David, You say, “I believe fully in the total depravity of man…I don\’t think the sinfulness of man causes man to be inable to respond to God’s calling, convicting work.”

    Your thinking goes against both Calvinists and Arminians who say that Total Depravity does mean that a person is unable to respond to God’s call. Thus, both say that God, by grace, must enable a person to respond to salvation. The Calvinists say that such grace is irresistible and the Arminians say that such grace is prevenient. Regardless what we call it, the final outcome of this grace is that the elect come to salvation and the reprobate do not.

    So, where are you getting your theology? Is it just your personal belief?

      volfan007

      RHutchin,

      This is what Traditional Baptists believe the Bible teaches. We believe that man can respond to God….that total depravity did not make man unable to respond to the calling and convicting of the Holy Spirit.

      David

        rhutchin

        When you say, “We believe…,” are you talking about the authors of the Statement and those who have signed on to it? If yes, then that is what I thought they were doing. That would make the focus on free will an obfuscation of the real issues with Calvinism.

Randall Cofield

David, Greg, GodismyJudge, Shane,

I don’t think this “dead” thing is complicated at all. In Eph. 2 Paul is using “dead” as a metaphor to communicate a spiritual truth. We were spiritually dead, now we are spiritually alive.

If one is physically dead, one cannot seek, hear, see, understand, respond, choose, accept, etc.

If one is spiritually dead they cannot seek spiritual things, hear spiritual things, see spiritual things, understand spiritual things, respond to spiritual things, choose spiritual things, or accept spiritual things. This is exactly what Paul describes in Romans 8:5-8.

Turn it around and insert “alive” in all of the above statements and you get the full picture of what Paul means when he say we were “dead” but have been now “made alive” by the grace of God in salvation.

The whole problem with the TS and this “libertarian free will” is that it denies that man is actually spiritually dead

Grace to you, my brothers.

    Don Johnson

    Spiritually dead does not mean inability. It primarily means separated from God (Is 59:2, James 2:26).

    The rich man in Luke 16 was spiritually dead when he was alive physically and still spiritually dead when he was dead physically. However, even though he was spiritually dead and his body in the grave, he somehow “now” had ability.
    He could see, hear, feel, taste and even had spiritual concern for his 5 brothers.

    I haven’t read any comments on the subject. But do Calvinists believe the lost only have “inability” when they are physically alive?

      Randall Cofield

      Hi Don,

      Spiritually dead does not mean inability. It primarily means separated from God (Is 59:2, James 2:26).

      Brother, neither those passages prove your stated thesis. Nor do they address the metaphor Paul uses in Eph. 2.

      The rich man in Luke 16 was spiritually dead when he was alive physically and still spiritually dead when he was dead physically. However, even though he was spiritually dead and his body in the grave, he somehow “now” had ability.
      He could see, hear, feel, taste and even had spiritual concern for his 5 brothers.

      I see nothing in the context of Lk. 16 that the rich man saw or understood anything remotely approaching the spiritual truths of salvation after he died. His entire focus is upon his own suffering and a desire to see his brothers avoid the same. No recognition at all of the need of forgiveness of sins or need to believe the gospel.

      His ability to “see, hear, feel, taste” had everything to do with the torment of his soul and nothing to do with the spiritual things of God. He was not “hearing” the Gospel with spiritual ears, he was not “feeling” spiritual remorse for his sin, and he certainly was not “tasting” and “seeing” the spiritual reality that the Lord is good.

      Grace and Peace, brother.

        Don Johnson

        Randall,

        The rich man knew his brothers needed to repent (Luke 16:30). I thought Calvinists believed in repentance. Is there some other way of escaping Hell that I’m not aware of?

          Randall Cofield

          Don,

          Brother, you just made my point for me better than I made it in my post.

          What was the rich man’s understanding of repentance…according to the text?

          Peace, brother

          Don Johnson

          Randall,

          I didn’t know there was more than one type of spiritual repentance. You’ll have to tell me the other types.

          The rich man knew his brothers needed to repent in order to escape his abode. Again I ask is there another way of escaping Hell?

          Randall Cofield

          Don,

          Brother, I’ve seen people “repent” thinking it was a get-out-of-jail-free-card all of my life. Heck, I even tried to do it myself.

          I’m afraid you may be reading more into the text of Luke 16 than is actually there.

          Grace and Peace

          Don Johnson

          Randall,

          Actually, you are the one reading into the text. Jesus was one who used the word repent. However, you believe He didn’t really mean repent. Your argument is not with me, but with Jesus.

          Could you give me another example where Jesus or the disciples said repent but did not mean really mean repent?

    Godismyjudge

    Randall,

    As I mentioned above, Paul often uses dead in another sense (i.e. under a sentence of death). When he says the wages of sin is death, he isn’t talking about incapacitation, he’s talking about a sentence of death.

    God be with you,
    Dan

      Randall Cofield

      GodismyJudge,

      The contrast of dead and alive in Eph. 2 certainly speaks to incapacitation. Look at the context.

      Dead: Enslaved to sin/Satan…Alive: Created to good works
      Dead: In sin…Alive: In Christ
      Dead: Disobedient…Alive: Obedient
      Dead: Walking according to world….Alive: Seated in heavenly places
      Dead: Children of wrath…Alive: Objects of grace

      The bottom line is that Paul is painting a picture in which we were once dead and utterly without ability to please God, BUT now we are alive and fully pleasing to God.

      “Libertarian free will” is flatly positing that we can to that which is pleasing to God (repent, believe) while we are still dead in our sins (Eph. 2), living according to the flesh (Ro. 8:5), and hostile to God (Ro. 8:7).

      Not so, according to the Apostle Paul:

      Ro 8:8 Those who are in the flesh (dead in trespasses and sins) cannot please God.

      Grace and Peace, brother

        Godismyjudge

        Randall,

        Here’s Ephesians 2:1-7:

        And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body[a] and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.[b] 4 But[c] God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ— by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

        Now you described a dead person as one who “cannot seek, hear, see, understand, respond, choose, accept, etc”.

        Four contextual factors move against you. First, a dead person cannot walk, nor can he follow the devil, or disobey, or live in the passions of his flesh or carry out his desires. As you said, he cannot respond. But a person under a sentence of death can do those things. Second, God’s wrath corresponds directly to His judgment or a sentence of death rather than to incapacitation. Third, Paul parallels being made alive with being saved. Justification or the removal of the sentence of death is salvation, but regeneration (prior to and apart from justification) does not save. Fourth, the description of heavenly places and the coming ages corresponds more directly with eternal life rather than regeneration (that is regeneration as understood apart from the impartation of eternal life).

        I have already discussed why libertarian free will does not mean the ability believe apart from grace.

        God be with you,
        Dan

          Randall Cofield

          GodismyJudge,

          “First, a dead person cannot walk, nor can he follow the devil, or disobey, or live in the passions of his flesh or carry out his desires. As you said, he cannot respond.”

          Brother, a spiritually dead person does exactly that, at least according to Paul.

          Notice the contrast: Those who a spiritually alive do the opposite.

          Ro. 8:7 “Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.”

          Spiritually dead men spiritually walkin’ and spiritually talkin’ ain’t a biblical concept. :-) (Ezek. 37)

          Grace and Peace.

          Soli Deo Gloria

          Godismyjudge

          Randell,

          Maybe you need a more detailed description of what you think Paul means by “dead” in Ephesians 2:1 – rather than “one who cannot seek, hear, see, understand, respond, choose, accept, etc”. Probably you mean this in someone what of a qualified sense and there are specific actions you are ruling out. But without some restrictions, it’s looks like you are saying the “dead” man can and cannot respond.

          For the most part, I have laid out my case as to why Paul is talking about a repentance of death rather than inability in Eph 2:1. If what I have so far isn’t enough to convince you, I better just leave it at that.

          God be with you,
          Dan

    Les Prouty

    By the way,

    How dead was Lazarus? How in the world was he able to hear Jesus? Ya think there was any significance in that sequence of events?

      Don Johnson

      Who said anything about hearing Jesus?

      Godismyjudge

      Lazarus believed first, then he was raised from the dead. Calvinists say it’s the other way around.

      God be with you,
      Dan

        Randall Cofield

        GodismyJudge,

        Come now, brother. That has every appearance of being a game of semantics. I trust that was not your intention.

        Lazarus was physically dead. He didn’t physically hear Jesus command to “come forth” and then say “hmmm…should I choose to rise from the dead…or should I just reject Jesus and just go on with my being dead….”

        That would be absurd. Lazarus was dead. Jesus commanded him to rise. Life very life of Jesus Christ infused Lazarus’ dead body and he arose–entirely by the power of Christ’s command.

        And I’ll preempt the caterwauling that will probably ensue from some on this thread: What dead person, being given life from the dead, would say “…wait a minute! That’s a violation of my libertarian free will. You can’t do that!”

        This is one of the clearest teachings on spiritual regeneration (salvation) in all of scripture.

        Apply the metaphor and you have regeneration by the power and grace of God alone.

        Soli Deo Gloria!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

        Les Prouty

        Of course Randall is right. Lazarus had to be mad alive to hear Jesus’ voice. And he didn’t have to ponder whether or not to come out. It was Jesus calling.

        That’s what happens in salvation. God makes a spiritually dead person (yes he is walking around, eating, sleeping, making non-salvific decisions with his precious will) alive. He was blind, but now he sees. He was deaf (to spiritual things, remember Paul talked about this) but now he can hear. His will was enslaved to sin. Now the shackles fall off. Even Wesley (not a Calvinist) got this:

        Long my imprisoned spirit lay,
        Fast bound in sin and nature’s night;
        Thine eye diffused a quickening ray—
        I woke, the dungeon flamed with light;
        My chains fell off, my heart was free,
        I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.
        My chains fell off, my heart was free,
        I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.

        Is tis not what the resurrection depicts…dead (not 99.9% dead) but then made alive?

        Godismyjudge

        I think your trying to get too much out of the parallel (it’s not like the bible says Lazarus is a picture of regeneration), but if you do press the analogy, the I think you should have to address the fact that Lazarus was a believer before he died. After all Christ did say “Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live”. So believing precedes and is a condition for going from death to life by Christ’s power. Now you could say I am pressing the analogy too far, but that’s what I think your doing.

        God be with you,
        Dan

          Les Prouty

          Dan,

          I wasn’t trying to press the resurrection of Lazarus when I said, “Is tis not what the resurrection depicts…dead (not 99.9% dead) but then made alive?”

          I was talking about the resurrection of Jesus.

      Les Prouty

      You guys make me chuckle.

        volfan007

        I’m pretty sure that Lazarus heard the Lord give the command to come out of that grave. I seriously doubt that Lazarus was “soul sleeping” in that grave. Being dead doesnt mean a person ceases to exist, or that they are not still thinking, hearing, feeling, etc. The rich man in Hades is a good example of this…he felt every torment of Hades….he was concerned about his brothers….

        David

          Les Prouty

          David,

          “Being dead doesnt mean a person ceases to exist, or that they are not still thinking, hearing, feeling, etc.”

          Say what?

          Les Prouty

          I mean the last time I was in a funeral home, that body was doing nothing!

          volfan007

          Les,

          So, you believe in soul sleep?

          Or, do you believe that death means that we cease to exist?

          David

          Les Prouty

          David, my point was that the analogy of a physically dead person…cannot see, hear, talk, get up…etc., portrays the spiritual in Lazarus’ case. He was dead. Stinkig. He could not physically hear Jesus call out to him unless he was resurrected. He had to be made alive…quickened…regenerated. Physically. That’s all I was pointing out.

          Les Prouty

          BTW David, do you agree that “was dead. Stinkig. He could not physically hear Jesus call out to him unless he was resurrected. He had to be made alive…quickened…regenerated. Physically?”

        Les Prouty

        David,

        I think I may have misunderstood you earlier whan you wrote, “I’m pretty sure that Lazarus heard the Lord give the command to come out of that grave. I seriously doubt that Lazarus was “soul sleeping” in that grave. Being dead doesnt mean a person ceases to exist, or that they are not still thinking, hearing, feeling, etc.”

        Are you suggesting that though Lazarus’ body was there in proximity to Jesus, stinking and decaying, that wherever Lazarus’ spirit was, he from there, heard Jesus call, re-entered his decaying body and then came forth?

          volfan007

          Les,

          Correct.

          David

          Don Johnson

          Yes!

          Does the text state otherwise?

          Les Prouty

          Ok David and Don,

          So how, in your view, did Lazarus’ spirit make that journey? On his own? How did he navigate the spirit world? I think you agreed with what I said asked, did he “re-entered his decaying body?”

          Did he do that on his own? And since his body had decayed, how did his heart start beating again? His brain, how did that start working again?

          Because you, Don, asked, “Does the text state otherwise?”

          So, what does the text say about these things…Lazarus re-entering on his own (free will I guess), heart, brain. etc.

          volfan007

          Les,

          Lazarus wasnt saved in this situation. He was raised from the dead.

          David

          Don Johnson

          Les,

          I wouldn’t say it was his own free will, but it was his desire to be alive and well. Otherwise Jesus would not have been sent for in the first place.

          I find it interesting to say the least, Calvinists must use a case of one receiving physical life to somehow “prove” regeneration precedes faith. Surely if the doctrine were true there must be at least one example in the Bible.

          Randall Cofield

          Hi Don,

          Ezekiel 37 would be quite an interesting passage to interpret with the “libertarian free will” hermeneutic…. :-)

          Peace, brother.

          Don Johnson

          Randall,

          Have the events in Ezk. 37 happened yet? I think not. Therefore whatever the chaper is teaching has nothing to do with anyone in the last 2000 years.

          Again, I must ask since regeneration and the new birth are New Testament terms, one would thing there would be at least one case of someone being regenerated and then receiving faith.

          Randall Cofield

          Dan,

          I’ve given you two.

          Can you give me two which demonstrate that faith precedes the new birth?

          Peace.

        Les Prouty

        David, I wasn’t saying he was saved at that point. But I still would like to see answers to the questions about how he did the spirit travel, how his heart was re-started, etc., particularly you and Don apparently see that in the text.

        Thanks

          volfan007

          Les,

          This is not an account of someone getting saved. And, of course, the only reason he came back to life was because of the command of the Lord. The Lord brought him back.

          David

    Godismyjudge

    Randall,

    You mentioned Romans 8, but it uses death in the sense of eternal judgement and life in the sense of the resurrection or salvation. Here’s Romans 8:11-13

    11 If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus[d] from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you. 12 So then, brothers,[e] we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. 13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.

    Giving life to our mortal bodies is the resurrection, not regeneration and the future death if we live after the flesh is judgement, not incapacitation.

    God be with you,
    Dan

      Randall Cofield

      Giving life to our mortal bodies is the resurrection, not regeneration and the future death if we live after the flesh is judgement, not incapacitation.

      Mt 19:28 And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

    Greg Alford

    Randall,

    Exactly!

    Grace for the Journey,

Randall Cofield

David,

You said:

I’d say that the man (RYR) had a real choice, and the Lord Jesus really wanted to save this man; but the rich young ruler WOULD NOT…

It seems that you are interpreting this passage that Jesus’ will/desire/wish/etc. was to save the RYR, but the RYR frustrated Jesus’ will/wish/desire/etc.

If that is the case, how would you interpret these passages?

Mt 19:24 ….I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.

To which the disciples responded, marveling:

Mt 19:25 “Who then can be saved?”

To which Jesus responded:

Mt 19:26 “With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.”

My question is simple:

In light of these passages, did Jesus have the ability to save the RYR?

If Jesus didn’t have the power to save the RYR, right there on the spot, how do you interpret the above passages?

Grace to you, my brother.

    volfan007

    Randall,

    Did Jesus have the ability to save the RYR? Of course, He did.

    Men cannot save themselves. And, many times, it’s harder for a rich man to humble himself enough to be saved. That’s why its hard for a rich man to be saved….he has a hard time seeing his need for a Savior. But, with God, even the rich can be saved. In other words, its hard, and may even look impossible, for a rich man to be saved….because so many of them live for thier riches. But, its not impossible….why? because, nothing is impossible with God.

    David

      Randall Cofield

      David,

      ….. :-) …..

      “….it’s harder for a rich man to humble himself enough to be saved….nothing is impossible with God….

      Do you see the logical fallacy in the highlighted portions of your statement?

      If it is the rich man who must humble himself…then what possible relevance does nothing is impossible with God actually have?

      Of course, if “nothing is impossible with God” actually is relevant to what Jesus is saying, it becomes clear that the “humbling” is not the work of the rich man but the work of God.

      Grace and Peace, brother

Drake Cash

Can anyone give one example of free will (the ability to choose between two options)?

    volfan007

    Drake,

    Have you been reading the comment threads, Brother? The Rich Young Ruler; the people of Jerusalem, who WOULD NOT be gathered by Jesus like a hen gathers her chicks; the Philippian Jailer and his house; King Agrippa; the false teachers, who deny the Lord, who bought them; etc, etc, etc.

    David

      Randall Cofield

      David,

      Those examples prove nothing in relation to free will. The only thing that one can conclusively derive from them as that all of those did not choose rightly.

      Grace and Peace.

        Randall Cofield

        or did choose rightly, in the case of the jailer.

        These passages only tell us that a choice was made. They do not tell us what caused the choice.

        No effect (in this case, a choice) exists without prior cause.

        Grace and peace

    Mike Morris

    Drake, here are other examples of libertarian free will:

    1. In a recent edition of the Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, Paul Himes, who at the time of writing was a Ph.D. student in NT at SEBTS, wrote an article about the libertarian free will in 1 Corinthians 10:13. Here is the verse: “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man ; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it” (NASB). Himes commented on the verse:

    “If this article’s exegesis is correct, 1 Cor 10:13 implies libertarian will (the power of contrary choice) and thus presents a difficulty for compatiblism. If whether or not a Christian sins at a particular point in time is already predetermined by his or her value system, then 1 Cor 10:13 loses all of its homiletical force. The apostle Paul’s entire argument in both 1 Corinthians 9 and 10 seems to presuppose the ability of a believer not to sin at a particular situation.”

    Himes, “When a Christian Sins: 1 Corinthians 10:13 and the Power of Contrary Choice in Relation to the Compatibilist-Libertarian Debate,” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 54, no. 2 (June 2011): 343.

    (Obviously we have been discussing non-Christians and libertarian free will, but you asked for examples of libertarian free will.

    2. We also see it in 1 Kings 18:21,39:

    “Elijah came near to all the people and said, ‘How long will you hesitate between two opinions ? If the LORD is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him.’ But the people did not answer him a word. . . . When all the people saw it, they fell on their faces ; and they said, ‘The LORD, He is God ; the LORD, He is God.'”

    They had not yet committed themselves to either God or Baal. A lecturer in Hebrew and Greek studies at the University of Edinburgh, A. Graeme Auld, commented on the passage:

    “Elijah turns his people’s neutrality or indifference between Yahweh and Baal to his own advantage. They become umpire or jury. . . . When Yahweh’s power is demonstrated, the people acclaim him not simply as being worthy of being called ‘a god’. The Hebrew of verse 39 rendered rather more literally than in RSV has them say: ‘Yahweh, he is the god’. They recognize him now as ‘the [sole] god’—or simply, as RSV has it, as ‘God’ with a capital ‘G.'”

    A. Graeme Auld, “I & II Kings,” The Daily Study Bible (Old Testament), ed. John C.L. Gibson (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: The Westminster Press, 1986), 120.

    3. Satan and Adam

    God did not cause Satan to sin. The only possible explanation is that Satan had libertarian free will when he first sinned.

    The Calvinist Arthur Pink commented on Adam:

    “Adam’s will was therefore in a condition of moral equipoise: that is to say, in Adam there was no constraining bias in him toward either good or evil, and as such, Adam differed radically from all his descendants.'”

    Pink, The Sovereignty of God (Blacksburg, VA: Wilder Publications, 2008), 107.

      Randall Cofield

      Here’s a radical idea:

      Ability to choose between right and wrong created in the First Adam…then lost in the Fall.

      Ability to choose between right and wrong recreated by the Last Adam Jesus Christ

        Don Johnson

        It’s radical alright, because it’s not true.

          Randall Cofield

          Don,

          You’re unaware of the First Adam/Last Adam soteriology of the Apostle Paul?

          Peace

          Don Johnson

          Randall,

          Somewhat.

          However, it has nothing to do with the ability to choose right and wrong.

Randall Cofield

TO ALL INVOLVED IN THE LAZARUS/EPH. 2 “DEAD” DISCUSSION

If you back up and read all that has been said here, I think we have just seen the birth of a new…how shall I put this?…..”extra-biblical” doctrine:

SYNERGISTIC RESURRECTION: The resurrection of the dead is not the monergistic work of Christ alone, but a synergistic work wherein Christ extends the “invitation” to be raised from the dead, but man must exercise libertarian free will and “choose” to be resurrected.

It appears that the resurrection of the dead at Christ’s return may not be as dramatic as we once thought…

………. :-) ……….

I hate using this phrase, but here goes: I never thought I would see the day.

Someone needs to notify the scholars so that all our Systematic Theologies can be realigned to fit the new paradigm.

Grace and Peace, brothers

    Randall Cofield

    Ooops…sorry about all the bold face. Missed an HTML tag.

      volfan007

      Randall,

      Drink a cherry coke and chill out. I believe one person said what you’re saying. One. And, it wasnt me. So, you’re seriously gonna freak out with the above comment all because of what one person erroneously said?

      David

        Randall Cofield

        David,

        That is the essence of whole “spiritually dead doesn’t actually mean spiritually dead” argument that lies at the very heart of the TS.

        The “one person” to which you refer is the only one who understand the implications of what the rest of you are saying–so he went ahead and said it.

        He’s way ahead of the rest of you.

        :-)

        Peace, brother.

    Lydia

    “Someone needs to notify the scholars so that all our Systematic Theologies can be realigned to fit the new paradigm.”

    It never ceases to amaze me that a mere man thinks he can systemize God. And then mere men follow that system thinking they are following Christ!

    Les Prouty

    Randall, wow. I’ve been away a few hours and come back to some here affirming synergistic resurrections. Brother you are doing a great job in exposing what I think is really behind this so called traditional statement. There is such antipathy for all things Reformed that it is leading some to get themselves painted into theological corners in many areas all to avoid what has been in many cases settled interpretations since, well forever.

    Who would have thought that Lazarus was disembodied and somewhere else listening and then re-inserted himself into his rotted corpse. But we see that here now. All to seemingly avoid the seemingly obvious…monergism.

    Heck, even a week or so ago a Trad supporter was denying the imputed righteousness of Christ and no one besides me called that out, as I remember. He wanted to avoid imputation of Adam’s guilt and led himself to deny all imputation. Bizarre days these.

      Randall Cofield

      Hi Les,

      Yeah, bizarre about sums it up. Some of this stuff is so far outside the pale of orthodoxy I find myself struggling to even know how to respond.

      I was recently asked how I know God raised Lazarus and Ezek. 37 dry bones against their will.

      How in the world do you answer a question like that?!

      Grace and Peace, brother

      volfan007

      Les,

      To attribute the Traditional view as stating that Lazarus re-inserted himself into the dead corpse is a gross mischaracterization and misrepresentation of the Traditional Baptist belief. What you are saying, and what Randall is saying, is absolutely not true. And, if you would’ve read my comment above… in answer to you….about this very thing, then you’d know better than this. Or, did you read it, and just conveniently decide to not acknowledge it?

      You and Randall are making a strawman, here. The only person, who has come close to saying what yall are talking about is Don Johnson, whom I dont even know.

      So, would you and Randall please use a little wisdom and reading comprehension in this discussion?

      David

        Les Prouty

        David,

        I’m trying my best on the reading comprehension and wisdom thing. But the contradictions in the Trad positions are a bit dizzying. No offense intended.

        So you have somewhat clarified on Lazarus, though I still don;t agree with you.

        But you didn’t mention this quote I had above, “Heck, even a week or so ago a Trad supporter was denying the imputed righteousness of Christ and no one besides me called that out, as I remember.”

        I know you deny imputed Adamic guilt. But what about imputed righteousness of Christ?

Randall Cofield

TO ALL INVOLVED IN THE LAZARUS/EPH. 2 “DEAD” DISCUSSION

Could one or more of you humor an old Calvinist and interpret this passage for me using the “libertarian free will resurrection” hermeneutic?

Ezek. 37:1 ¶ The hand of the LORD was upon me, and he brought me out in the Spirit of the LORD and set me down in the middle of the valley; it was full of bones.
2 And he led me around among them, and behold, there were very many on the surface of the valley, and behold, they were very dry.
3 And he said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” And I answered, “O Lord GOD, you know.”
4 Then he said to me, “Prophesy over these bones, and say to them, O dry bones, hear the word of the LORD.
5 Thus says the Lord GOD to these bones: Behold, I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live.
6 And I will lay sinews upon you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live, and you shall know that I am the LORD.”
7 So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I prophesied, there was a sound, and behold, a rattling, and the bones came together, bone to its bone.
8 And I looked, and behold, there were sinews on them, and flesh had come upon them, and skin had covered them. But there was no breath in them.
9 Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, Thus says the Lord GOD: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live.”
10 So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived and stood on their feet, an exceedingly great army.
11 Then he said to me, “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. Behold, they say, ‘Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are clean cut off.’
12 Therefore prophesy, and say to them, Thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, I will open your graves and raise you from your graves, O my people. And I will bring you into the land of Israel.
13 And you shall know that I am the LORD, when I open your graves, and raise you from your graves, O my people.
14 And I will put my Spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I am the LORD; I have spoken, and I will do it, declares the LORD.”

…. :-) …..

Soli Deo Gloria

    Tim B

    Do you believe they or Lazarus was/are raised against their will?

      Randall Cofield

      Hi Tim,

      Please remember here that I have no idea of the motivation behind your question, but the question itself is utterly astounding to me. But here goes:

      I don’t think their will had anything to do with their resurrection.

      What do you think?

      Peace

        Tim B

        You are implying that this is an example of a unilateral raising from the grave. Do you know in fact that the subjects were not willfully cooperative with the divine imperative?

          Randall Cofield

          Tim,

          It’s your turn. :-)

          What do you think?

          Peace

Randall Cofield

We deny even the possibility of apostasy.–TS

What happened to “libertarian free will”?

Soli Deo Gloria

    volfan007

    Randall,

    Once a man is changed, he is forever changed….like a caterpillar turning into a butterfly.

    David

      Shane Dodson

      “Once a man is changed, he is forever changed”

      Nice sentiment, David…but it doesn’t address the question.

      What if the man–once changed–wants to be UNchanged?

      He did–after all–choose to be changed.

      Right?

volfan007

Les and Randall,

The comment thread is getting long, so I re posted this…

Les,

To attribute the Traditional view as stating that Lazarus re-inserted himself into the dead corpse is a gross mischaracterization and misrepresentation of the Traditional Baptist belief. What you are saying, and what Randall is saying, is absolutely not true. And, if you would’ve read my comment above… in answer to you….about this very thing, then you’d know better than this. Or, did you read it, and just conveniently decide to not acknowledge it?

You and Randall are making a strawman, here. The only person, who has come close to saying what yall are talking about is Don Johnson, whom I dont even know.

So, would you and Randall please use a little wisdom and reading comprehension in this discussion?

David

    Les Prouty

    David, if I have misunderstood you, please correct. I was going on how you responded to this I wrote,

    “Are you suggesting that though Lazarus’ body was there in proximity to Jesus, stinking and decaying, that wherever Lazarus’ spirit was, he from there, heard Jesus call, re-entered his decaying body and then came forth?”

    You replied, “Les,

    Correct.

    David”

    So, did I misunderstand what you wrote?

    Les

      volfan007

      Les,

      I told you that the only reason Lazarus came forth is because the Lord Jesus told him to come forth….it was only by the power of God. It had nothing to do with Lazarus wanting to come back. It had nothing to do with Lazarus deciding anything. Jesus commanded Lazarus to come forth, and he did.

      But, to say that Lazarus was in some sort of soul sleep, where he could no longer hear, think, feel, etc. is not a correct thing. To say that Lazarus did not hear the voice of Jesus giving the command is not correct. From the spirit world, I’m very sure that the soul of Lazarus heard the voice of Jesus very clearly, and obeyed.

      Now then, since that’s cleared up….what in a TN hoot owls screech does Lazarus being raised from the dead have to do with the free will of man and salvation?????

      David

        Shane Dodson

        “From the spirit world, I’m very sure that the soul of Lazarus heard the voice of Jesus very clearly, and obeyed.”

        Fascinating, David…

        So are you implying that Lazarus could have heard Jesus voice very clearly and DISobeyed?

        Let’s examine where this logic takes us.

          volfan007

          Shane,

          You read too much into what’s being said, in your attempt to prove and disprove.

          So, do you think that people cease to exist after death? Or, that they go into some kind of soul sleep until the judgment?

          Or, do you believe like me, and the Bible, that people live on after death?

          David

          PS. I do not believe that Lazarus had a choice to come back, or not. How ridiculous….

          Shane Dodson

          “PS. I do not believe that Lazarus had a choice to come back, or not. How ridiculous….”

          Come again? I thought you said Lazarus “obeyed.”
          Do you believe that you have a choice to obey or disobey?

          PS. I agree the entire concept is ridiculous, but you’re the one making the argument.

        volfan007

        I’m gonna say this as kind as I can. What in the world are you talking about? And, are you really reading what I’m writing? Seriously…

        Of course Lazarus obeyed….his body came out of the grave. And, I never said that Lazarus had a choice in the matter.

        David

          Cb scott

          Vol,

          LOL in spades!
          I would gladly give $100.00 to have seen your face when you read Shane Dodson’s last comment to you.

          volfan007

          lol

          Shane Dodson

          “Of course Lazarus obeyed….his body came out of the grave. And, I never said that Lazarus had a choice in the matter.”

          I never said you DID say that, David.

          Note the question mark at the end of my sentence.

          You were saying something about reading what somebody writes…?

          volfan007

          Shane,
          You’re still not reading what I’m writing. In the words of a famous movie, from a man wearing sunglasses….”What we have here is a failure to communicate.”

          I was responding to the very question you were asking, Shane. I couldnt believe you would even ask something like that. So, yes, I saw your question mark.

          God bless, Bro.

          David

volfan007

Charles Spurgeon: “You will never be saved against your will; God drags nobody to heaven by the ears.”

    Jeff

    You are exactly right to quote Spurgeon on this – and yes, he is exactly right! God NEVER forces anyone to be saved AGAINST their will. What God does is causes them to be born again (Ephesians 2) and they gladly have a new changed will (2 Corinthians 5:17) that will always RUN to Christ having been freed from sin (John 8:36). Hear Jesus speak (John 6:37): “All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.” He explains why this is the case in vs. 44 – “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him.”

Jeff

Dr. Hunter,

You quote scholars, theological terms, and a few verses – but you forgot a few of the very key texts that must be dealt with in this discussion of free will.

Romans 3:10-11 – as it is written:
“None is righteous, no, not one;
[11] no one understands;
no one seeks for God.

Ephesians 2:1 – And you were dead in the trespasses and sins

John 1:12-13 – But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, [13] who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

Key point – no man (though history – Jew or Gentile) seeks after God. Prior to salvation, we were dead in our sins and could not come to life on our own (spiritually). The only way a person is born again is by the will of God – not the will of man. These verses make it abundantly clear.

Although Adam and Eve enjoyed the free will as you describe (Libertarian) – after they fell – no person – including yourself – has enjoyed that type of freedom. We are born sinners as David mentioned in Psalm 51. Romans 5:12 – sin entered into the world and death (spiritual and physical) came into the world as a result.

You also error when you claim that God’s call is extended to all people. What do you do with the people who have never heard the gospel? Did they have freedom to come to God? What happens to them when they die – having never heard the gospel?

    Braxton

    Jeff,
    I’m just now seeing this post about a week after I was last on this page. Sorry for the delayed response.

    As for Adam and Eve having free will, I’m glad that you see this free will as libertarian. That means that necessarily you cannot hold that man having free will conflicts with God’s sovereignty.

    As far as the passages that indicate that no man seeks after God, and that man is dead in his sin, I think that Calvinists carry this claim too far. The evidence is clear. Once we get saved, we are dead to sin. Does this mean we never sin? surely not. Thus, the way Paul speaks of deadness is not the same as what the Calvinist needs it to be. The exasperation that no one seeks after God is, I think, Just that.

    The fate of the unevangelized is an interesting topic, which I believe warrants the thoughtful consideration of all believers, but so long as there are any possible explanations for how God deals justly with them I do not see a problem. There are various explanations of how God judges such souls, and if any one of them is even remotely possible, then we have established a philosophical defeater.

      Jeff

      Dr. Hunter,

      Thank you for responding. When we are saved by grace, we are released from the bondage of sin and free to live in the liberty of God’s grace and obedience to Christ. Although we may sin (temporal disobedience to God) through temptation to sin, we are not bound to it as in the previous case of our deadness to sin. That seems to be consistent with Scripture – right? How is that too far? Isn’t that what John 8:36 is teaching – in light of the bondage we are in from birth (Eph. 2)?

      So – you are suggesting that the sinner who never hears the gospel may go to heaven when he dies? Is that right?

        Jeff

        CORRECTION: not “deadness to sin”….should have said – “dead state of sin” in the sentence that reads, “Although we may sin (temporal disobedience to God) through temptation to sin, we are not bound to it as in the previous case of our deadness to sin.”

          Braxton

          Jeff,
          Thanks for engaging. On the issue of deadness, I am simply saying that if man is dead in sin, which according to Calvinist thought means he cannot do anything, then when he is described after salvation as dead to sin, the rules should not suddenly change. He should now, on Calvinism, be unable to sin. Clearly this is not the case, and thus, deadness does not mean what Calvinists claim it to mean.

          As for the fate of the unevangelized, I do not know how they are judged. If we say that they are all destined for Hell, then it seems to me that we are bound to say that all infants who die will also be in Hell. I’m not making an emotional appeal. That may be your position, and I think it would be consistent with your view. What actually seems to me, as an outsider, to be the most logical Calvinist explanation is that with infants and the unevangelized they will be judged on whether or not they were the elect. Or is it your position that if someone is elect, they will, as a necessary state, hear and respond to the gospel? I’m genuinely trying to find out where you stand because I’ve heard both positions defended.

          As for me, I am happy to confess that this is an area of my worldview about which I do not have a robust explanation. What I meant by the above post is that there are possibilities. For example, many Molinists claim that via God’s middle-knowledge he recognized that certain individuals would never freely accept him, no matter what situation they were placed in, and thus he created in such a way that these (who have trans-world depravity) would end up being the unevangelized. Many hold a view that is like what John Piper says about infants. That Jesus may preach to them in some after-life experience (Abraham’s bosom?), but I have no idea which if any is correct.

          Ultimately, I see this as a red-herring. It has no real place in this discussion.

Jeff

Dr. Hunter,

I do appreciate the fact that you are honest enough to claim that you don’t know what happens to those who never hear the gospel. At least you are willing to be transparent about it. That’s what Joel Osteen said on Larry King a few years back, he wasn’t sure what would happen to them either – he said the people in India love “god.” However, I think the Bible is very clear and it seems that Jesus Himself made it clear – John 14:6 says that nobody will be able to go to the Father except through Him. This very issue does have much to do with this debate because it forces both Calvinists and Arminians to look squarely into the face of God’s sovereignty as described in the Bible. The issue of where a person is born, in what year that person is born, and other specific facts are completely out of control of that individual’s freedom – and God is the One responsible for those decisions. Therefore, this is a BIG issue that must be explained in relation to God’s sovereignty.

Furthermore, the Calvinist who believes that all who never hear the gospel will die and go to hell under the wrath of God’s justice (a necessary requirement due to our sin that must be judged) seems much more evangelistic and zealous to get the gospel to the nations than the Arminian who is claiming that the unevangelized and unreached people groups get a “Get out of Jail Free” card due to the fact that they simply never heard the gospel. BTW – Many Calvinists throughout history such as Adoniram Judson and Lottie Moon believed this and it is what fueled their missionary hearts to go to the nations with the good news of Christ.

On the issue of infants – wouldn’t it be possible that the same sovereign God who chooses us before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4) would also be able to create a world to where every single infant who dies is the elect (chosen by God before the foundation of the world)? Most Calvinists (or those who hold to a certain number of the points of Calvinism) that I know in the SBC and in the public eye believe that all infants are the elect of God (Mohler, Akin, MacArthur and more).

Last of all, since this article is about the freedom of man – I would like you to explain John 1:12-13. Just break it down and explain it to me so that I can see how it aligns with Romans 3 and Ephesians 2.

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