A Need for a New Identity:
Conversionism, Transformed Theology, and a New Tulip
Part 1: Total Lostness

December 8, 2011

By Bob Hadley, Pastor of Westside Baptist Church in Daytona Beach, Florida, and Chancellor of Atlantic Coast Bible College and Seminary


This article is the first in a series that offer an alternative to the classical Reformed T.U.L.I.P. The entire series is available at www.transformedtheology.com. This article addresses “Total Lostness.”

Calvinism and Arminianism have been a major part of the theological landscape for centuries and the debate today is no closer to being resolved than it was in the days of Calvin and Arminius, themselves. A number of attempts have been made to strike a balance between the two. Conversionism and Transformed Theology is an attempt to begin that process. There are a number of ways that one might establish a new identity associated with a change in terminology from Calvinism to Conversionism and from Reformed Theology to Transformed Theology. One way involves modifying the framework that Reformed Theology has built itself around, namely the TULIP which is an acronym representing the five points of Calvinism. By using the same five letters, this section will focus on a new identity that will find its significance in a New Tulip. Consider the following acrostic:

  • An Argument for Total Lostness
  • An Argument for Unconditional Love
  • An Argument for Limiting Atonement
  • An Argument for Irrefutable Gospel
  • An Argument for Perseverance of the Savior

In evaluating this new proposed position, it is important to remember that each plank must rest on its own merit based on what the Bible has to say as opposed to interpreting each through the lens of some preconceived premise. For example it can be argued that each of the points of Calvinism have been so developed to support the underlying premise that Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross could not have been for all men because it is obvious that not all men are saved and headed for heaven. While the latter part of this statement is absolutely true, that does not validate the former part of the statement. To be fair, there is always a tendency no matter how well intended, to frame one’s theology around certain preconceived theological foundations and frameworks. Just as every man is a product of his own environment, so is his theology a product of his overall evaluation of the Scripture itself. However, when questions concerning theology are presented, it behooves those on both sides of the issue to consider certain arguments on their own merit in light of a standard, which must be the Word of God. Please consider the following points with an open Bible and an objective mind.

An Argument for Total Lostness

The first step in establishing a new identity based on this new terminology being proposed is an argument for Total Lostness as opposed to the Calvinist plank of Total Depravity. This tenet says that man by willful transgression fell from a state of righteousness and holiness in which he was first created. Man, since the fall of Adam, has inherited this fallen nature and exists in a state of total spiritual depravity or lostness. This is a state of death in trespasses and sins in which he is held as a slave of sin and an enemy of God. If left in this sinful state, he will face the eternal consequences of his sin in eternal punishment, which is the second death. Sinful man is lost in that he is unable to attain divine righteousness by his own efforts and he must be redeemed and delivered by the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ as it is revealed to him by the convicting work of the Holy Spirit (Romans 3:23-25, 5:12-21; 1 Corinthians 15:1-4; 2 Corinthians 4:3-4).

Make no mistake about it; man is no doubt depraved in his humanity. The Bible is absolutely clear on this point. All men, both Jews and Greeks are under sin.

10 As it is written:
“There is none righteous, no, not one;
11 There is none who understands;
There is none who seeks after God.
12 They have all turned aside;
They have together become unprofitable;
There is none who does good, no, not one.”
13 “Their throat is an open tomb;
With their tongues they have practiced deceit”;
“The poison of asps is under their lips”;
14 “Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness.”
15 “Their feet are swift to shed blood;
16 Destruction and misery are in their ways;
17 And the way of peace they have not known.”
18 “There is no fear of God before their eyes.” (Romans 3:10-18; see also Leviticus 23:40-45).[1]

 

The purpose of the Law was to establish man’s guilt before God and “by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin” (Romans 3:20). “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). “If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us” (1 John 1:8; see also 1 John 2:4). “All our righteousnesses are like filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6). As the children of Israel made their way through the wilderness on their way from Egypt to the Promised Land, they repeatedly acknowledged their sin before the Lord.[2]

Because all men have sinned against God, they are hopelessly and helplessly lost (Jeremiah 50:4-6). In Psalm 119, David acknowledged his sin and says, “I have gone astray like a lost sheep” (Psalm 119:176). In Matthew 18, Jesus Himself speaks to this issue of being lost. He says, “For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost” (Matthew 18:11). In verses 12 through 14, Jesus asked the question:

12 “What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them goes astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine and go to the mountains to seek the one that is straying? 13 And if he should find it, assuredly, I say to you, he rejoices more over that sheep than over the ninety-nine that did not go astray. 14 Even so it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish (Matthew 18: 12–14).

 

Luke expands on Jesus’ parable and adds the following statement, “I will say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance” (Luke 15:7). Luke goes on to record two more parables dealing with lostness that Jesus gave. The second is of the lost coin. In this parable (Luke 15:8–10) Jesus speaks of a woman who had 10 coins and realizes that one has been lost and she searches her house until she finds that one lost coin. Jesus makes the following concluding statement, “Likewise, I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents” (verse 10).

The third parable that Jesus used as He spoke on the subject of lostness is of the lost son, which is often referred to as the parable of the prodigal son. In this parable a father has two sons. The younger son comes to his father and asks him for his inheritance, which the father gives to him. The son leaves home and squanders away everything his father gave him. Jesus makes an interesting statement in Luke 15:17-19:

17 “But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! 18 I will arise and go to my father, and will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you, 19 and I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired servants.”’
The young man makes his way back home. He is greeted by his father, and he asks for his father’s forgiveness. Listen to his father’s response:
22 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet. 23 And bring the fatted calf here and kill it, and let us eat and be merry; 24 for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ And they began to be merry” (Luke 15:22-24).

 

The son fully understood his situation. He knew he was down and depraved. He knew he needed help. He knew his father could take care of his needs. He knew all the details with the exception of one: he had no idea what his father’s response would be. This lost son had a choice to make. He could keep on doing what he was doing, and he would have kept on getting what he had always gotten. Or, he could get up and make the journey home where he would be able to live. This son had a choice to come home or to continue on in the hog pen.

In the parable of the lost or prodigal son, Jesus adds a very important twist to this issue of being lost. This is Jesus’ final story in this trilogy of parables. In verse 17 Jesus intentionally mentions the young man’s “coming to himself.” Now it is clear that in coming to himself, he is still hopelessly and helplessly lost. The importance of this intentional phrase is seen in what the young man does as he turns from his present condition and goes back to his father. While this young man was no doubt depraved, he had not forgotten how his father had provided for him for most of his life. The young son understood that his father represented the only hope he really had. He made a choice to walk away from his immediate past and walked toward a future that only his father could provide. Here is one of the clearest passages in the Bible that deal with the lost condition suffered by all who are outside of a relationship with God through faith in Jesus Christ (Luke 15:17).

Jesus understood the tragedy of man’s lostness. Jesus underscored the significance of the inability of the lost coin and the lost sheep to find themselves and no longer be lost. The shepherd went out to find the lost sheep and the woman searched until she found the lost coin. In Luke 19 Jesus spoke to a tax collector named Zaccheaus; He told Zaccheaus to come down out of the tree, because He wanted to go to Zaccheaus’ house for dinner. Jesus was criticized sorely when people said that he ate with sinners! Jesus’ response was, “9b ‘Today salvation has come to this house, because he also is a son of Abraham; 10 for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.’” (Luke 19:9b-10).

Jesus identified what it meant to be lost. In the third chapter of John, Jesus explains to Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews, what he must do – as one who is lost – to be found. The Bible is not clear why Nicodemus came to Jesus; it simply says he came. Because Jesus understood Nicodemus’ greatest need, He ignored his flattering tribute and He told Nicodemus,

5b “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ 8 The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit” (John 3:5b-8).

 

Here Jesus equates being found with being born again or being born from above. This is vitally important because just as was the case with the lost sheep and the lost coin, an individual who is lost cannot find himself. He cannot simply come to himself and realize and recognize that he is lost; he cannot correct that on his own. He must do as the prodigal son did as he turned from his sinful present state to his father. In looking at the prodigal’s “coming to himself” we must understand that he was able to do this because of the promises and provisions he had experienced personally, which was the result of the personal relationship he enjoyed with his father. He came to himself and turned and went to his father. It was his father who forgave him and made him part of his family once again. The son came asking to be a servant; his father restored his sonship. The actions of the young man’s father are what changed his status from “lost” to “found.” Praise the Lord God who can do the same to all who come to Him!

In Nicodemus’s case, he too left the comfort of his environment and he came to Jesus looking for answers. No doubt Nicodemus had a number of questions he wanted to ask Jesus. Jesus addressed the only question that mattered. In order to go to heaven, Nicodemus was lost and needed to be found; he needed to be born from above. Nicodemus needed what only Jesus could provide. Jesus goes on to explain what He meant when He said to Nicodemus, you must be born again. Nicodemus asks a very simple question:

9 Nicodemus answered and said to Him, “How can these things be?”
10 Jesus answered and said to him, “Are you the teacher of Israel, and do not know these things? 11 Most assuredly, I say to you, We speak what We know and testify what We have seen, and you do not receive Our witness. 12 If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things? (John 3:9-12).

 

Basically what Jesus was saying here was that Nicodemus along with the other Jewish leaders and teachers of the Scriptures should have recognized Jesus for who He was, for the Old Testament was full of passages that spoke of His coming. Instead of Nicodemus coming to Jesus with questions, he should have been coming to Jesus with answers! The gospel is the same way for men today. God has given mankind every reason to come to Christ just as Nicodemus did.

In verses 14 through 21 Jesus goes on to explain to Nicodemus what it means to be born again or born from above:

14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. 16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:14-16).

 

Just as the prodigal son came to himself and made his way to his father, so was it Nicodemus’s responsibility to “come to himself,” and by believing in the promises of God that are clearly laid out in the Scriptures, Nicodemus would not perish but have everlasting life. By believing in Christ, Nicodemus would be saved or born again, and in that process he would pass from death to life, from being lost to being found.

In Matthew 19, another wealthy young ruler came to Jesus and asked Him:

16b “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?”
17 “Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.”
18 “Which ones?” he inquired.
Jesus replied, “‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, 19 honor your father and mother,’ and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’”
20 “All these I have kept,” the young man said. “What do I still lack?”
21 Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
22 When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth (Matthew 19:16b-22).

 

What is the difference in the results of the visits of these two men? Both came asking essentially the same thing. Nicodemus went away with Christ and the other went away sorrowful because he made the mistake of thinking what he had was more important than what Christ had for him. This was a choice the two men made themselves. Jesus did not decide that one would be saved and the other lost.

Make no mistake about it; Jesus understood man’s lost state. He understood the gravity of sin. It was for this reason that Jesus left heaven in the first place. “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved” (John 3:17) Jesus did not need to leave heaven to condemn the world. Man, in his sin, was already condemned. It was Christ’s sacrificial death on the cross that provided man any hope at all. That’s why Jesus said what He did in verse 18; “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” Verse 19 addresses this issue of Total Depravity or Total Lostness. Listen to what Jesus said about the extent of man’s depravity:

19 And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. 20 For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. 21 But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God (John 3:19-21; see also Jeremiah 50:4-6, 15-21).

 

Man’s depravity is pictured in Jesus’ statement that “light has come and the world and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil” (verse 19). Had Jesus stopped there, we could draw a number of conclusions. We even might be able to conclude that men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil; and they were so depraved that they were blind and could not see the light without God first opening their eyes. But the text prohibits that interpretation. First of all Jesus chides Nicodemus for being a teacher of the Law and not understanding these things. Verse 20 explains why men love darkness and hate the light. Men do not hate the light because they’re blind and cannot see it; they hate it because they see it and do not like what it reveals – their evil deeds. Men do not want to be told the truth. They want to do what seems right in their own eyes (Psalm 36:2; Proverbs 3:7; 16:2; 21:2; 26:12, 16; 30:12). But there are those who see the Light for what it is; and not liking what it reveals, they choose to move toward the Light instead of away from it. This is the choice that Jesus offers those who are lost, those who He has come to seek and to save.


[1] All biblical citations are from the New King James Version unless otherwise stated.

[2] Numbers 12:11; 14:40, 21:7; Deuteronomy 1:41; Judges 10:10, 15; 1 Samuel 7:6; 12:10; 1 Kings 8:33, 35, 47, 50; 2 Chronicles 6:24, 26, 37, 39; Nehemiah 1:6; Psalm 106:6; Isaiah 64:5; Jeremiah 3:25, 8:14; 14:7, 20; 33:8; 40:3; 44:23, 50:7; Daniel 9:5; 9:8, 11, 15; Hosea 10:9.

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Bob Hadley

I will be glad to attempt to respond to reasonable comments regarding statements that I have made or concepts that I have laid out in this post. I am not going to attempt to respond to generalized statements that simply restate the normal arguments that typically permeate the landscape of Calvinistic thought. I am NOT Calvinist in my thinking at all; not even 1-Point, technically. All I ask is that you take that in consideration as you read what I have written and see if you can take off the Calvinist shades and try to see something positive in the thought process if you can. If you can’t, that is ok and understandable.

Also, these thoughts are somewhat introductory and the beginning process not the finished and final product by any means. So, my sincere prayer is that in this dialogue I can learn things that will be beneficial. I will read your comments with an open mind with the honest and heartfelt desire to know Christ and His salvific purpose as laid out in His Word to us. The Calvinist/Arminian debate has raged for a LONG TIME and today we are no closer to any resolution that we ever were. So, it is not a given that either side has the corner on correctness and the truth is, this will not fit either camp!

Please keep one other thing in mind. There seems to me to be a LOT of eisegesis in the exegesis of the Scriptures. I have attempted to do the best that I possibly can to avoid that temptation.

May God bless us all as we seek to know Him and the power of His message to us and to the world He gave His life for.

Grateful to be in His grip!

><>”

peter lumpkins

Brother Bob,

I only had time to scan your piece. I’ll take a deeper look later. To offer some encouragement, I like your creativity with the TULIP. You definitely should continue developing the idea. It has literary potential to be sure.

With that, I am…
Peter

    Bob Hadley

    Peter,

    I will look forward to your input. The whole article can be found on my blog under the tab “Foundation.”

    Grateful to be in His Grip!

    ><>”

Trey

How would you say this differs from the first point of Arminianism?

Thanks

Bob Hadley

I am not an expert on Arminianism and do not proport to be so; I am not commonly accused of being an expert on Calvinism either. My position will not sit well with any theological position that begins with total depravity. Arminianism seeks to define election from a foundation laid by total depravity. It is not that I am denying the idea of man’s depravity; I do not believe he is totally depraved as the term is defined and applied in most theological discussions that I have read.

I would be interested in your take on your own question.

><>”

    Joshua

    Bob,

    Are you aware of the term “semi-Pelagianism” and its definition? If so, how does your position differ?

    Trey

    Thanks for your reply.

    The claim may be to total depravity, but not in the sense of the Total Depravity of Calvinism, i.e. man is not dead.
    Here is the first article or “point” of Arminianism:
    “Although human nature was seriously affected by the fall, man has not been left in a state of total spiritual helplessness. God graciously enables every sinner to repent and believe, but He does not interfere with man’s freedom. Each sinner possesses a free will, and his eternal destiny depends on how he uses it. Man’s freedom consists of his ability to choose good over evil in spiritual matters; his will is not enslaved to his sinful nature. The sinner has the power to either cooperate with God’s Spirit and be regenerated or resist God’s grace and perish. The lost sinner needs the Spirit’s assistance, but he does not have to be regenerated by the Spirit before he can believe, for faith is man’s act and precedes the new birth. Faith is the sinner’s gift to God; it is man’s contribution to salvation.”

    My reason for asking the question is that I really did not see any difference between the two. Man being effected by sin is stated, however, as you conclude. “there are those who see the Light for what it is; and not liking what it reveals, they choose to move toward the Light instead of away from it.” IOW man is able in and of himself to choose God. He is wounded, but not dead. To me, this would contradict such passages as the Rom 3 mentioned, and Eph 2, 1 Cor 2; in addition to 2 Cor 4 which states our minds have been blinded.

    A reading of the Remonstrants and Synod of Dort would perhaps prove profitable…

    Blessings!

      William W. Birch

      Trey,

      Where did you get this from?

      Here is the first article or “point” of Arminianism:

      “Although human nature was seriously affected by the fall, man has not been left in a state of total spiritual helplessness. God graciously enables every sinner to repent and believe, but He does not interfere with man’s freedom. Each sinner possesses a free will, and his eternal destiny depends on how he uses it. Man’s freedom consists of his ability to choose good over evil in spiritual matters; his will is not enslaved to his sinful nature. The sinner has the power to either cooperate with God’s Spirit and be regenerated or resist God’s grace and perish. The lost sinner needs the Spirit’s assistance, but he does not have to be regenerated by the Spirit before he can believe, for faith is man’s act and precedes the new birth. Faith is the sinner’s gift to God; it is man’s contribution to salvation.”

      Neither Arminius nor the Remonstrants ever spoke or wrote in such terms, so, I’m wondering the origins of this quote.

      Article III of the Remonstrance of 1610 reads:

      That man has not saving grace of himself, nor of the energy of his free-will, inasmuch as he, in the state of apostasy and sin, can of and by himself neither think, will, nor do anything that is truly good (such as saving faith eminently is); but that it is needful that he be born again of God in Christ [a form of prevenient grace, not regeneration proper, as we think today], through His Holy Spirit, and renewed in understanding, inclination, or will, and all his powers, in order that he may rightly understand, think, will, and effect what is truly good, according to the word of Christ, John 15:6: “Without Me ye can do nothing.”

      The one and only difference between the Calvinist and Classical Arminian view of Total Depravity and Total Inability is its solution (Effectual Grace vs. Enabling Grace respectively).

      Once finals are over, I may have the time to engage this piece further. God bless you all.

        Chris Roberts

        William,

        Would it be fair to say that you would not consider Hadley an Arminian, based on how he presents his theology?

          William W. Birch

          Chris,

          No, I don’t think Bob is a Classical Arminian. He and I have had this discussion before. Arminius and the Remonstrants held to a strong form of Total Depravity/Inability, just as did the Calvinists — only the solution to the problem differs. They also held to Original Sin as did/do the Calvinists, and many Southern Baptists deny this doctrine as well.

          God bless.

        Les

        Mr. Birch,

        Why do you insert the brackets [ ] thusly?

        “…but that it is needful that he be born again of God in Christ [a form of prevenient grace, not regeneration proper, as we think today], through His Holy Spirit, and renewed in understanding, inclination, or will…”

        Else it reads,

        “…but that it is needful that he be born again of God in Christ, through His Holy Spirit, and renewed in understanding, inclination, or will…”

        I noticed you do that on your website as well.

        So, is that your way of answering the certain question to come…”How can one talk of a prevenient grace which a man can ultimately choose to reject when the wording above says he is “born again” by prevenient grace?”

          William W. Birch

          Les,

          I insert the information in the brackets in order for readers to understand that Arminius and the Remonstrants believed that faith preceded regeneration. From a cursory reading of comments as the one I quoted, people might think otherwise.

          God bless.

          Les

          Thanks for this clarification. I do understand that they believe that, as do many like Bob and many Southern Baptists. I, as you may suspect, see no scriptural support for that position. Rather, I see regeneration preceding faith, of necessity. But that is why these discussions take place.

          Thanks again.

          Les

        Les

        Mr. Birch,

        Would you agree with the following from Wesley’s Order of Salvation? Is that a fair definition for Arminians?

        “Human beings are totally incapable of responding to God without God first empowering them to have faith. This empowerment is known as “Prevenient Grace.” Prevenient Grace doesn’t save us but, rather, comes before anything that we do, drawing us to God, making us WANT to come to God, and enabling us to have faith in God. Prevenient Grace is Universal, in as much as all humans receive it, regardless of their having heard of Jesus. It is manifested in the deep-seated desire of most humans to know God.”

          William W. Birch

          Les,

          Yes, I think Wesley’s definition is fine. However, Wesley was an Inclusivist, and Arminius and the Remonstrants were Exclusivists. Also, the Wesley brothers believed that Prevenient Grace is operative to everyone in the world now, whereas Arminius and the Remonstrants believed that Prevenient Grace is only operative when the Gospel is being preached (Rom. 1:16-17; 10:13-17), and the Spirit of God is convicting people of sin (John 16:8-11).

          I constructed a post that might be helpful: Demarcating Wesleyan-Arminianism & Classical Arminianism. Too many people assume that the two are synonymous.

          God bless.

          Les

          Mr. Birch,

          Thanks for your reply.

      William W. Birch

      Trey,

      I thought I recognized that erroneous definition of Classical Arminianism on the subject of Total Depravity. It comes from David Steele, Curtis Thomas, and S. Lance Quinn, does it not? I just looked at my own post “Calvinists Still Honing Their Skill at Misrepresenting” on my site for confirmation.

      Their book The Five Points of Calvinism: Defined, Defended, and Documented, updated and expanded, accomplishes little more than caricaturing Classical Arminianism, and is a futile attempt at seriously addressing and engaging Arminianism. How easily they destroyed the Arminian straw men they constructed. But their inept scholarship at doing so is embarrassing for Calvinists and for Calvinism.

      I sincerely hope that you and others are not relying on the lies and misrepresentations of most Calvinists when engaging Arminianism.

        Bob Hadley

        William,

        Thanks for your contribution. I wrote in this thread that I was neither Arminian nor Calvinist. I appreciate your confirmation oof my statement! LOL. Here is a statement that I think deserves a LOT of attention from us all: “It is so easy seeing things from our own perspective that we fail to see other’s perspectives clearly and correctly.”

        Here is the problem that I see with that statement. First of all, it becomes so easy to hurl criticisms at those who have different thoughts about things than we may have by lumping them into some category that we consider illogical and incorrect. This is unfair and in some ways even unintentionally demeaning. The second problem that I see is this, if I cannot follow what someone is saying in a discussion like this and be fair to the other person’s explanations etc… how on earth can we speak to a lost person and help him see the “TRUTH” if all we see is our own personal reference point and his as “Pelagian, Semi-Pelagian, Arminian, Calvinist, etc.?

        People really have a hard time even fathoming the point of even debating Calvinism and Arminianism in the first place… but that is not what we are doing. (Or at least not what I am doing.) I am challenging myself to seek to understand sin and its effects on individuals and the world we live in and how conversion overcomes those effects. Now, it just happens that those discussions are framed by those who call themselves Calvinists and Arminians and that is why it is no surprise that I am neither.

        I really do appreciate the challenges that lie in these discussions because it does force me to consider my position and seek to understand the Bible for myself. I am not here to change anyone’s mind or convert anyone… that is the responsibility of the Holy Spirit. I have engaged for my personal benefit and for that I am appreciative of all that participate in this process.

        May God bless us all and our efforts to serve Him and those He places in our path.

        Grateful to be in His Grip!

        ><>”

          William W. Birch

          Bob,

          Since we’ve engaged one another on-line, I have always appreciated your thoughtfulness and your godly demeanor, though we disagree on some rather significant doctrines. I pray that our brotherly dialogue continues, for our mutual benefit, and for the glory of Christ Jesus.

          I have also appreciated the tone of both Chris and Trey with myself. Any conversation via the Internet with Calvinists that is respectful is so very much appreciated. (I’ve had plenty to the contrary.)

          God bless you all.

      William W. Birch

      Trey,

      And please do not take my words as a personal threat or in any way negative toward your character. I certainly don’t intend to come off as smearing your character, or any other such notion.

      But if we are all going to engage one another theologically, we must be honest with the actual views of our theological opponents, and many Calvinists, on-line as well as in print, have not represented Arminius and the Remonstrants even remotely accurate. God bless.

        Trey

        William,

        No offense taken. And you are correct in where it came from. I don’t refer to that often (if it is of any consolation :) ) but thought it would provide a contemporary summation. Perhaps it just served to confuse things as it seems we’ve been going in circles on this. I, of course, would disagree with your assessment of the “lies and misrepresentations of most Calvinists” and have to ask after a quick look at your website: IS there a Calvinist (alive or dead) who you would say ever represented Arminianism correctly?? :)

        Blessings and may you, by our Lord’s grace, be successful in your final exams.

          William W. Birch

          Trey,

          I am assuming, then, that you perused the posts which I note the numerous Calvinists, both dead and alive, who have and who continue to misrepresent Arminianism. John Owen and Abraham Kuyper explicitly lied about Arminius, the Remonstrants, and Arminian theology, and Owen was by far the worse. His hatred of Arminians is nothing shy of demonic.

          To answer your question, yes, Calvinist theologian Richard A. Muller comes to mind immediately! His book on Arminius, God, Creation, and Providence in the Thought of Jacob Arminius, is excellent!

          Now, Muller is not one hundred percent accurate, as he makes a couple of inferences that I don’t think are completely correct, including calling Arminius a Molinist. Even Molinist Dr. Ken Keathley informed me recently that Arminius was no Molinist, from his very Molinist perspective.

          Moreover, Muller and James Bradley, in their book, Church History, sorely misrepresented Arminius on one important point, which affected Arminius’s stellar reputation and integrity (all are noted on my site). Nonetheless, Muller’s work is, overall, greatly appreciated by Classical Arminians.

          R.C. Sproul, Sr., in his book, Willing to Believe: The Controversy over Free Will, is fair to Arminius in that chapter, with two exceptions. However, in the Introduction, he undoes all of his goodness by agreeing with the likes of J.I. Packer, stating that Arminians are “barely saved,” by what is called “a felicitous inconsistency” (25). Scripture informs me that, by grace through faith in Christ, I am “saved to the uttermost” (Heb. 7:25), not “barely.” Comments like these could be multiplied by Calvinists I’ve read over the last fourteen years.

          I have two sources I trust implicitly — one Calvinist and one Arminian — who say that Michael Horton is very fair and accurate regarding Arminianism in his latest book, For Calvinism, and I am grateful. (I look forward to reading both Zondervan counterpoint books.)

          So, I can at least point to those three men who mostly represent Arminius well. As for the host of others, including Owen, Toplady, Kuyper, Spurgeon, Packer, Sproul (included for his horrible statement about our being “barely” saved by a “felicitous inconsistency”), MacArthur, Mohler, Dever, Driscoll and, seriously, so many, many more that I could name, I think my point is proven beyond any shadow of a doubt.

          God bless, and thank you for your grace.

          Bob Hadley

          Trey,

          As I was walking my dog your question was reverberating in my mind… “I, of course, would disagree with your assessment of the “lies and misrepresentations of most Calvinists” and have to ask after a quick look at your website: IS there a Calvinist (alive or dead) who you would say ever represented Arminianism correctly?? :)”

          Let me ask you a question… do you think Calvinists are misrepresented by Arminians or non-Calvinists? I have read that battle cry over and over again by many…

          It is almost comical to hear anyone say…. I, of course, would disagree with your assessment of the “lies and misrepresentations of most Calvinists” and have to ask after a quick look at your website: IS there a Calvinist (alive or dead) who you would say ever represented Arminianism correctly?? :)

          The only possible arguing point would be the word “most”… and your question itself even suggests that William is so anti-Calvinist that ANY criticism from them would be unfairly considered a misrepresentation.

          Did I misread you or misrepresent your position in this last post?

          ><>”

          Les

          William and Bob,

          My concern is this phrase made by William,

          “I sincerely hope that you and others are not relying on the lies and misrepresentations of most Calvinists when engaging Arminianism.”

          I happen to know Lance Quinn. I’ve known him and counted him a dear friend for almost 25 years. It is offensive to me, and to him as well if he saw this, for an accusation of lying to be made about Rev. Quinn.

          Brothers, this kind of slanderous accusation should not be allowed to stand.

          Now, perhaps Rev. Quinn did not fairly state his case. I don’t know since I’ve not read that book.

          But to accuse him (and others) publicly of lying? Who among this crowd knows hi heart? Who has the insight to know that he intended to deceive in his book?

          Accusing someone (like Lance and John Owen, et al) of lying is a most serious accusation!

          Brothers, this is quite unbiblical and I believe deserves a retraction.

Steve Lemke

Bob,
Sometimes Calvinists and Arminians alike utilize the phrase “Total Inability” to indicate that without God’s grace, we are unable to respond to God. (For Arminians this happens by God’s prevenient grace through the Holy Spirit, for Calvinists through irresistible grace). They both do so to avoid Pelagianism or Semi-Pelagianism, which in various degrees affirm that unaided humans can take the initiative to seek God. Short of Semi-Pelagianism, do you agree with people from the Reformed perspective that we are “dead” spiritually and thus cannot respond at all to the Holy Spirit, or do you think some living spark remains from the image of God, even though greatly damaged from the Fall, to permit such a response?

Bob Hadley

To Trey:

You wrote, “Although human nature was seriously affected by the fall, man has not been left in a state of total spiritual helplessness. God graciously enables every sinner to repent and believe, but He does not interfere with man’s freedom. Each sinner possesses a free will, and his eternal destiny depends on how he uses it. Man’s freedom consists of his ability to choose good over evil in spiritual matters; his will is not enslaved to his sinful nature. The sinner has the power to either cooperate with God’s Spirit and be regenerated or resist God’s grace and perish. The lost sinner needs the Spirit’s assistance, but he does not have to be regenerated by the Spirit before he can believe, for faith is man’s act and precedes the new birth. Faith is the sinner’s gift to God; it is man’s contribution to salvation.”

As I read what is written in this paragraph, I do not have a problem with this statement as such as long as it is understood that man in and of himself is not able to repent apart from the convicting work of the Holy Spirit in his heart. This is where the Pelagian and Semi-Pelagian arguments come into play. Pelagianism is the teaching that man has the capacity to seek God in and of himself apart from any movement of God or the Holy Spirit, and therefore that salvation is effected by man’s efforts. In the latter, man can (unaided by grace) make the first move toward God, and God then increases and guards that faith, completing the work of salvation.

Both of these positions are faulty as I see them because they do not require anything outside of man to bring about his conversion. Basically both are virtually the same as far as conversion is concerned and the latter pickes up God’s grace after conversion in the process of sanctification. Seems that is a lot of argument concerning these two terms that is commonly misapplied to this whole argument.

I am not comfortable with the concluding statement, “Faith is the sinner’s gift to God; it is man’s contribution to salvation.” Have not seen that statement before. I am not saying I disagree with it; I just am not sure how comfortable I am with it.

Dr. Lemke: To your question, “Short of Semi-Pelagianism, do you agree with people from the Reformed perspective that we are “dead” spiritually and thus cannot respond at all to the Holy Spirit.” No, I categorically disagree with this statement. The Bible tells us “the wages of sin is death.” What does sin do? Sin separates us from God. If Jesus is life as He claims He is, (John 14:6) then it seems plausible to me that the absence or separation from Him would be death; death is the absence of life.

I believe the principle difference between my position and Calvinism is this: To the Calvinist, Regeneration is the catalyst to conversion. To me, Revelation and Reconciliation are God’s initiative to confront us and our sin; both require a response on our part. Adam’s sin in the garden was a conscious choice; his sin separated him from God. We inherited the same condemnation of separation. Our lives are the product of the choices we make. The challenge that God has given to us is to look to Him for the best choices as opposed to self or the world. The problem that I see that mankind has is this; sin has blinded our eyes and we are separated from God and therefore lost and condemned because of our sin to an eternity demanded by God’s judgment. His initiative at Calvary brings about His initiative of revelation and reconciliation to fulfil His purpose to “be our God and for us to be His people.” In short, Jesus’ death on the cross was to bridge that gap that sin has caused. If revelation and reconciliation are God’s initiatives as I believe the Bible teaches, then human response is required and we are responsible for our response. What happens when we are converted? The Holy Spirit takes up residency in our hearts; the separation from God is corrected and we are born again and we inherit life.

The Calvinist says that regeneration is required as a condition for repentance and saving faith where I believe revelation and reconciliation demand our response that brings about regeneration.

As to the second part of your statement, “do you think some living spark remains from the image of God, even though greatly damaged from the Fall, to permit such a response?” Since I do not believe that man is “spiritually dead and incapable of hearing God’s voice or responding to the revelatory and reconciliatory work of the Holy Spirit, this is really not applicable and is illustrative of what I see as one of the major problems in a lot of theological discussion. This notion of total depravity dominates so much of the theological discussion, people force themselves to define their positions based on what I believe is a faulty foundation in the first place. It is one of the reasons that Calvinism seems to make so much sense and makes everything else seem so illogical. If we do not begin with total depravity THEN the tables are turned and things may not seem so illogical. (just some theological rambling here.)

Grateful to be in His grip!

><>”

Les

Bob,

One of the problems, at least as I see it, is that you seem to avoid the implications of what you state. One example is this reply to Dr. Lemke:

He asks, ““do you think some living spark remains from the image of God, even though greatly damaged from the Fall, to permit such a response?”

And you respond, “Since I do not believe that man is “spiritually dead and incapable of hearing God’s voice or responding to the revelatory and reconciliatory work of the Holy Spirit, this is really not applicable…”

You appear to want to avoid the implication of NOT believing in total depravity. If you do not believe that man is “spiritually dead and incapable…” then you must believe that some spark of spiritual life remains and that man is indeed capable of hearing God’s voice and responding…”

Now granted, you seek to make new definitions of god’s overtures to man (revelation and reconciliation) but the fact remains. It seems to me that no matter how you define it, you do believe that man is spiritually capable (since he is not spiritually dead) apart from God’s enabling, to initiate his response to God (i.e. the gospel call by a preacher).

Am I missing it?

Blessings,

Les

    Joshua

    Well put Less. This is my observation as well.

    Bob Hadley

    “You appear to want to avoid the implication of NOT believing in total depravity.” That makes me a terrible communicator or you a poor reader. I have said in what I believed to be clear and undeniable terms that I DO NOT BELIEVE IN TOTAL DEPRAVITY. I do not know how I can make that statement any clearer. (You already know that.) Since I see revelation and reconciliation as requiring a response, I do believe that man is fully capable of responding to God… otherwise I would be saying that God is incapable of revealing Himself and reconciling a lost world unto Himself… and since that is what HE SAYS HE is doing, I simply stand on His Word.

    I am not making “new definitions of god’s overtures to man (revelation and reconciliation)… revelation and reconciliation are God’s initiative and require a response… See Romans 5:11 and 2 Corinthians 5:18 and I am hoping the issue of revelation does not need confirmation!

    ><>”

      Les

      Bob, I’m sorry for not being clearer. I said, “you seem to avoid the implications of what you state.” Emphasis on implication. I’m clear on the fact that you deny total depravity. Wjhat I’m not clear on is if you’ll state if you “think some living spark remains from the image of God, even though greatly damaged from the Fall, to permit such a response.”

      Do you?

Les

Bob,

I wold also point out what the bible says:

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins
(Ephesians 2:1 ESV)

and…

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins
(Ephesians 2:1 ESV)

I find it difficult to get around what these verses say. Dead is, well, dead.

volfan007

I believe that man is dead to God in the sense that he is separated from God. Death really means “separation.” When a person dies a physical death, his soul separates from his body. It’s not that he ceases to exist. He’s just separated from his body, which goes into the ground, while his soul goes to be with Jesus.
When a person dies an eternal death. It’s not that he ceases to exist. He still feels and thinks and lives…but, he is separated from God…separated for all eternity…separated from God in Hell.
And, a person who is lost is separated from God. The Holy Spirit does not live inside of them. They are dead to the things of God. But, they’re still able to feel, think, and make choices. They’re more like the man, who is in a stormy sea, who cant get back to the boat. He cant stay afloat much longer. He cant save himself. He will drown without help. That is the condition of man. And, the only thing that can save him from certain death is the Lifeguard, the Lord Jesus.

I dont believe that man being dead is a man laying on the sidewalk, who can feel nothing from God, think nothing about God, and cant make any choices. Laying there like a corpse, with no awareness whatsoever of what’s going on around him.

David

Les

The other verse should have been…

even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—
(Ephesians 2:5 ESV)

Les

David that is fine for you to believe that. But I do’t think you can support that belief from scripture without redefining what scripture says.

Someone else has said, and I agree, that it is like a man, not floating on the water needing a life vest tossed to him so he can reach out to it. Rather, he has drowned and has settled on the ocean floor and rigor mortis has set in. He is DEAD. Only the Savior coming down to him and breathing life into him can save him.

Blessings,

Les

Trey

Bob,
Can you provide us with any theologians who share this view? I’m becoming a little confused with what your view is…

Thanks

    Bob Hadley

    Les,

    Your interpretation of “dead in our trespasses” as illustrated by the example you sited is no more Scripturally based than David’s… which echoes at least to some degree what I said earlier. (Being careful not to put words in David’s mouth!) I do not believe that Paul was saying that we are “Dead” as your illustration seems to allude to.

    That poor guy on the bottom of the ocean floor who is DEAD cannot sin either. So… I guess in some respect, you are correct in your assertion for him to respond to the Savior Jesus is going to have to do something for Him! The problem is, the gospel is preached to those on top of the ground and ocean, and revelation and reconciliation are God’s method of touching our hearts and convicting the lost of their sin and need for Christ who died on the cross paying the penalty for their sin, redeeming them if they would place their trust in the finished work at Calvary and repent and believe in their hearts that Jesus rose from the dead and because He lives we can life for Him today and with Him forever.

    Regarding the issue of what it means to be dead, here is what I wrote earlier: “Adam’s sin in the garden was a conscious choice; his sin separated him from God. We inherited the same condemnation of separation. Our lives are the product of the choices we make. The challenge that God has given to us is to look to Him for the best choices as opposed to self or the world. The problem that I see that mankind has is this; sin has blinded our eyes and we are separated from God and therefore lost and condemned because of our sin to an eternity demanded by God’s judgment. His initiative at Calvary brings about His initiative of revelation and reconciliation to fulfil His purpose to “be our God and for us to be His people.” In short, Jesus’ death on the cross was to bridge that gap that sin has caused. If revelation and reconciliation are God’s initiatives as I believe the Bible teaches, then human response is required and we are responsible for our response. What happens when we are converted? The Holy Spirit takes up residency in our hearts; the separation from God is corrected and we are born again and we inherit life.”

    Trey… I cam commenting on MY theological position so I cannot refer you to someone else to clarify that. Sorry.

    ><>”

Les

Bob,

The illustration is just that. Of course we are referring to spiritual things, not physical. My point was to show David a better illustration of the Reformed position.

Anyway, you wrote:

“…then human response is required and we are responsible for our response.”

Of course. I agree completely. Reformed folk believe both. Where we differ, as we’ve noted before, is on how. Reformed folk believe the scripture teaches that man is born spiritually dead and therefore, similar to every other definition of “dead,” is unable to respond to the outward preaching call. Further, he is unwilling in his state of “enmity with God” to respond positively. He must have a Savior…One who changes his inability and unwillingness to ability and willingness. In short, he must be “born again” to be enabled and be willing.

Then, the regenerated man enthusiastically embraces Christ.

But we’ve been here before. Thanks again for the discussion.

Les

    Bob Hadley

    You are right; we have been here before. As for the comment above, I was really kidding on the not being able to read part… so glad you graciously overlooked that… so thankful for grace!!!

    I did not respond to the wording of the statement… “think some living spark remains from the image of God, even though greatly damaged from the Fall, to permit such a response.”

    My point is that I do not believe man’s ability to make decision was impaired by the fall… it was his source of reference that changed. Sin looks inward; God wants us to look upward. So… technically a “spark does not remain” in my thinking. As I stated earlier, I am not going to participate in a discussion that has as its foundation “total depravity”… where my position is concerned.

    Appreciate the dialogue!!!!

    ><>”

Ron Hale

Bob,
I enjoyed reading your article and look forward to how they build and connect to each other. I like the term “Transformed Theology.”

    Bob Hadley

    Thanks Ron. Look forward to your input as well. Appreciate you brother!

    ><>”

Trey

Bob,
Again, thanks for your replies and discussion. I too am looking forward to your other articles though I must admit a few statements give cause for concern:

“I am commenting on MY theological position so I cannot refer you to someone else to clarify that. Sorry.”
So there is no one you can point to who shares (even if in part) your viewpoint? If I was a member of your church, this alone would give me cause for concern?

“As I stated earlier, I am not going to participate in a discussion that has as its foundation “total depravity”… where my position is concerned.”
Ok, but you just eliminated over 500 years of church history. I think here lies part of the confusion (at least on my part). You state that man cannot respond in and of himself, that he is dead, however, it is not dead in the sense of that he is unable to respond. A spark does not remain, yet his ability is not impaired to make a decision after the fall. From here, it seems (to me) that you would agree with the first point of Arminianism, yet you said this, “I am not comfortable with the concluding statement, ‘Faith is the sinner’s gift to God; it is man’s contribution to salvation.’ Have not seen that statement before. I am not saying I disagree with it; I just am not sure how comfortable I am with it.” However, you affirm this statment in a sense when you say, “The Calvinist says that regeneration is required as a condition for repentance and saving faith where I believe revelation and reconciliation demand our response that brings about regeneration.”

So the question for me becomes, what is this response you are referring to? Is it faith and if so, where do you believe faith comes from and are we justified by grace alone through faith alone?

Once again, thank you for the discussion.
Blessings!

Tim Rogers

Brothers All,

The problem within this debate all comes back to the definition of “dead”. I am going to with the Red Bishop in Fort Worth on this one. Here is what he said concerning Ephesians 2:1-3 in the book “Whosoever Will”.

Note that those who were dead in sin walked in lust and fulfilled the desires of the flesh and mind. When Adam and Eve first took the fruit of the tree, they died–“The day that you eat of it you shall surely die? (Gen 2:17). They did die then! Yet in another sense they kept on living. Though dead spiritually, they could and did respond to God, preparing for His visit, hiding, talking with Him, and eventually accepting His remedy for their nakedness.”

Then later he quotes Robert Picirilli to make his point of how an unregenerate is able to move toward God:

“Robert Picirilli speaks of preregenerating grace. Of this he pointed out, ‘By definition, pre-regenerating grace is the work of the Holy Spirit that ‘opens the heart’ of the unregenerate (to use the words of Acts 16:14) to the truth of the gospel and enables them to respond positively in faith.’ Further he stated:

‘Theologically, this concept meets the need of the totally depraved sinner. As already acknowledged, the unregenerate person is totally unable to respond positively, by his natural will, to the offer of salvation contained in the gospel. Pre-regenerating grace simply means that the Spirit of God overcomes that inability by a direct work on the heart, a work that is adequate to enable the yet unregenerate person to understand the truth of the gospel, to desire God, and to exercise saving faith.”

I pray this helps get the conversation back on track.

Blessings,
Tim

    Bob Hadley

    I will respond to the two “T’s” at the same time.

    I wrote, “This is a state of death in trespasses and sins in which he is held as a slave of sin and an enemy of God. If left in this sinful state, he will face the eternal consequences of his sin in eternal punishment, which is the second death. Sinful man is lost in that he is unable to attain divine righteousness by his own efforts and he must be redeemed and delivered by the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ as it is revealed to him by the convicting work of the Holy Spirit (Romans 3:23-25, 5:12-21; 1 Corinthians 15:1-4; 2 Corinthians 4:3-4).

    There is a major difference in saying man is dead and incapable of responding to God and saying he unable to attain divine righteousness by his own effort. God has determined to reveal Himself to sinful men through His Word. I maintain revelation demands a response. He tells us that He is in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself; again, reconciliation requires a response. A response is a part of the process of both revelation and reconciliation. As God initiates both, He expects a response. If He expects a response, I must be able to give Him one!

    I do believe man is depraved; I do NOT believe that he is incapable to respond to God’s initiative in any way. Our lives are the product of our decisions and the challenge that life presents is continually, will I look within or around or up.

    As for your quoting Picirilli and his notion of “pre-regenerating grace” is also of no significant importance to me. His statement, “‘Theologically, this concept meets the need of the totally depraved sinner.” represents what I see as the crux of the problem in theological circles in the first place.

    If I have to defend my theological position on the basis of total depravity, then one of two things is most likely to be true. One, I must arrive at most of the conclusions that everyone else has argued and debated for centuries. If I do not, then I am going to appear terribly illogical.

    Since I do not begin with the premise of total depravity, I am not limited by the boundaries that total depravity demands and I am able to present arguments from a much different perspective. I realize that is a little difficult for some folks to wrap their thought process around but that is where my focus is.

    The statement, “Pre-regenerating grace simply means that the Spirit of God overcomes that inability by a direct work on the heart, a work that is adequate to enable the yet unregenerate person to understand the truth of the gospel, to desire God, and to exercise saving faith.” If we do not begin with total depravity then there is no need for a “work to enable to unregenerate person to understand the truth of the gospel.” That is the purpose of revelation. That is why we have the Word of God. That is why we have the Great Commission. That is why we preach and teach the Word. The Holy Spirit works in the hearts of sinful men to convict them of their sin and to lead and guide them to repentance, which brings about regeneration. Regeneration is not possible apart from the revealing, convicting work of the Holy Spirit.

    ><>”

      Chris Roberts

      I have stayed out of this discussion because, frankly, I think many if not most of your arguments have been faulty and contradictory. I hardly know where to begin.

      I’ll point out one example from what you have just said:

      “That is the purpose of revelation. That is why we have the Word of God. That is why we have the Great Commission. That is why we preach and teach the Word. The Holy Spirit works in the hearts of sinful men to convict them of their sin and to lead and guide them to repentance, which brings about regeneration. Regeneration is not possible apart from the revealing, convicting work of the Holy Spirit.”

      You insist that man retains the ability to respond to the offer of the gospel but then you turn around and say that the ability to respond comes through revelation and the Holy Spirit, that the Spirit must be active in revealing, convicting, and leading if a person is to respond to the gospel and be saved. Doesn’t this mean that a person is not fully able to respond? If he needs the Spirit’s work, it is because he is unable to respond; if he is able to respond, then all he needs is information.

      I know what some Arminians teach (I think Burch is among this group) is that man is totally depraved (there is no reason to dislike or avoid that term) but revelation itself is what enables man to respond – prevenient, enabling grace comes along with the revelation of the gospel, that the power of the gospel is such that when a dead, depraved sinner hears it, the gospel gives him the power to accept or reject. You almost seem to speak of revelation in this way – that it is more than just information, but is the means by which people are able to respond. But doesn’t that imply they are thus unable to respond on their own?

        Chris Roberts

        Correction: where I mentioned ‘Burch’ it should have been ‘Birch’ as in William Birch who commented above.

          Bob Hadley

          Chris,

          The confusion comes because you are looking from a total depravity position. I do not believe men are incapable of responding to God. I do believe that apart from revelation, man will choose to look inward and any decision that is not of God is sin. By the way, that is true of the lost man just as it is the Child of God.

          So, revelation does not give man the ABILITY to respond; it demands a response. The Holy Spirit does not “regenerate the lost person” as the Calvinist contends; He simply reveals the message of God’s love and provisions and in that revelation seeks to reconcile the lost one to God.

          Even though the two may SEEM to be similar, they are drastically different. That is why I am no more Arminian than I am Calvinist. I am a Conversionist!

          Appreciate your comments.

          Grateful to be in His Grip

          ><>”

          Chris Roberts

          Bob,

          But you say the Holy Spirit is required in salvation in order to lead, reveal, and convict. If we retained the ability to respond to God, we would not need the Spirit’s work. He might be able to help, might be able to do a little nudging, a little convincing, but such work would not be an absolute necessity. The only reason he would be necessary in bringing us to conversion is if we, on our own, were not able to respond.

        Les

        CHRIS,

        I think you have nailed but one of the many contradictions on this post. If man has the ability (he can!) then what need is there for the Holy Spirit? If man cannot (he can’t, not won’t) then HS is required. If HS is required, then of course man can’t respond. It just goes in a circle.

        If prevenient grace is true (as opposed to regenerating grace) then how much of man’s spirit is enlightened? A little? A lot? But not enough to actually be converted?

        Further, where is scriptural support for this theory? Where does scripture teach prevenient grace?

        Further, is not resurrection rendered meaningless by some sort of partial enlightenment and by the idea that man is not, as Bob says “I do not believe that man is “spiritually dead and incapable of hearing God’s voice or responding to the revelatory and reconciliatory work of the Holy Spirit…”

        Resurrection is from death.

        Mark

        Chris,

        I thought your observations were good and worked within Bob’s own framework i.e. the theological framework he presented.

        Thanks.

Bob Hadley

“I thought your observations were good and worked within Bob’s own framework i.e. the theological framework he presented.”

They were good observations but they were not within the framework of what I wrote. I am sorry but that ought to be pretty clear. Chris, you said, “But you say the Holy Spirit is required in salvation in order to lead, reveal, and convict. If we retained the ability to respond to God, we would not need the Spirit’s work.”

Stop and think about what you just said… If the Holy Spirit is responsible for the revelation then we still need the Spirit. I said we do not need the Spirit to respond. This is not rocket science. My perspective is different from yours but it should not be so complicated that you cannot follow what I am saying.

Grateful to be in His Grip!

><>”

    Chris Roberts

    So the Spirit’s role in salvation – at least in the sinner’s response – is simply to provide the revelation, to inspire sacred Scripture which in turn is proclaimed by humans to humans? Earlier you said:

    “The Holy Spirit works in the hearts of sinful men to convict them of their sin and to lead and guide them to repentance, which brings about regeneration. Regeneration is not possible apart from the revealing, convicting work of the Holy Spirit.”

    Revealing would be through revelation. Conviction is also through revelation? Would you say the Spirit plays any roll in at least wooing lost sinners to salvation? That is, even if the Spirit is not needed to enable humans to respond, does the Spirit still work – apart from revelation – to draw sinners to God?

Joshua

These statements represent a very slippery but real slope to Pelagianism or at minimum Semi- Pelagianism.

“I do not believe men are incapable of responding to God.

“I said we do not need the Spirit to respond.”

I understand you do not mean to imply such but your wording is very confusing. Also, not being able to provide a single source that agrees with your position is probably not a good apologetic for us all to adopt your proposed theological framework.

    Chris Roberts

    Semi-Pelagianism – though denied – has already been made apparent.

      Trey

      Agreed Chris.

        Bob Hadley

        Hey guys… humor me… would you explain in a short paragraph or two HOW what I am saying is P or S-P?

        Maybe I am missing the boat here. I really am interested in your perspective on this.

        ><>”

          Chris Roberts

          Pelagius believed there was no such thing as original sin or total depravity. He rejected it completely. In his case, he felt it was within the realm of possibility for a person to live a sinless life and thus not even need salvation. But most people were not like this, and yet people retained goodness through the fall, retained the ability to seek God, to do righteousness, etc. Such people must seek God for repentance, but the seeking, the desiring, the responding is something they are fully capable of doing on their own. There are a few differences between this and what you have said – namely, you reject the possibility of any sinlessness. But it is similar in that, like Pelagius, you seem to believe man’s ability to seek and respond to God is not hindered in any way.

          Semi-Pelagians are a wee bit better than Pelagians, but still have always been recognized as somewhat other than biblically faithful theology.

          Semi-Pelagianism recognizes the sinfulness of man, but not total-depravity. They reject it as Pelagius rejected it. Man is not born unable to respond to God, but is born with a natural ability to desire salvation, desire God, etc. But beyond that, semi-Pelagians do not believe humans are capable of pursuing righteousness on their own. We can respond to the gospel, we can desire righteousness, but apart from the new birth and the work of God, we are not able to live righteous lives – this is the main distinction between Pelagianism and semi-Pelagianism.

          What you advocate sounds a lot like semi-Pelagianism, even if you reject the label. You believe man retains the ability to seek God, though you also believe man is not able to be righteous apart from God.

          Pelagianism and semi-Pelagianism were both condemned and declared heresies in various councils through the 5th and 6th centuries, though both continue to pop up throughout the history of the church.

          Historically, even Arminians have rejected Pelagian and semi-Pelagian teachings, advocating a view of total depravity which is very similar to the Calvinist view, though with a view of prevenient grace that in a sense overrides total depravity and, in effect, leads to a result that is similar to semi-Pelagian thought, which is why many have mistakenly accused Arminians of being semi-Pelagian. But if you reject man’s natural inability to respond to God and believe man is able to respond to the gospel without God first having to elevate him out of his inability, then I’m not sure what distinguishes you from semi-Pelagianism.

          In what way are you not semi-Pelagian?

          Bob Hadley

          Chris… (Hope this falls under your post)

          As I understand P and S-P BOTH are the same where conversion is concerned… the difference between the two is that the latter sees the work of the Holy Spirit in the heart of an individual AFTER regeneration.

          So, in that respect I cannot be S-P and not P.

          There is a profound difference in Pelagius’ position, “but the seeking, the desiring, the responding is something they are fully capable of doing on their own” and your assertion that my position is similar in your assessment, “you seem to believe man’s ability to seek and respond to God is not hindered in any way.”

          The two may seem to be saying the same thing but that is not the case in my position. There is a difference in being unhindered and coming on your own. Pelagius said the lost person can come unaided by the Holy Spirit, ie, on his own with no outside impetus.

          To come unhindered means, I hear the invitation to come and I am able to turn from self and my sin to the Savior. Total Depravity says I am not able to turn… because I am dead and incapable of turning unless Christ enables me to do so. The P or S-P argument I believe is misapplied in this whole discussion to include more than the theologies themselves seem to suggest.

          Your reference, “semi-Pelagians do not believe humans are capable of pursuing righteousness on their own.” is a reference to sanctification, where S-P are concerned… not conversion as I understand it and that is a gross misrepresentation in the discussion of conversion and commonly misapplied because salvation includes BOTH conversion and sanctification.

          Now… a disclaimer… since I am not a Calvinist (who tend to use these terms and apply them to folks like me)… most of the terminology I am responding too is really foreign to me. I have studied it and was vaguely familiar with it to pass a test years ago… but never even really considered the claims and attempt to connect the dots until I began to be associated with some of these tags by others. So… if I am incorrect in my assessment… I will listen and consider the arguments.

          Your reference to 5th and 6th century declarations of heresy is also interesting and used quite often by many… but as I see it, those councils were largely reformed… so that would be tantamount to presenting our arguments today to the Founders for their official opinion on the discussions. Just an observation from a non-Calvinist.

          Grateful to be in His Grip

          ><>”

          Chris Roberts

          Bob,

          Tacked my comment to the bottom of the comment page.

    Bob Hadley

    Not being facetious here, but do the Scriptures count?

    One of the general observations that I have is that it seems to me there is as much credence given to statements that men make about the Scripture as the Scripture themselves. Why quote Piper or Rogers for that matter when John 3:16 speaks for itself?

    ><>”

      Chris Roberts

      I’m looking for the part of John 3:16 that either refutes or advocates total depravity…

      Les

      Bob, I do’t think anyone on here disputes John 3:16. A wonderful verse. But just quoting it doesn’t really further the discussion on total lostness, it seems to me.

      Bob Hadley

      Gentlemen… PLEASE….

      That was a generalized statement and I just pulled John 3:16 out of the air so to speak, not as any direct reference to total depravity.

      Seems interesting to me that the passage reference was the focus of response and not the gist of the post itself… which was the tendency to quote men and give their statements equal footing with Scripture.

      This is probably the biggest frustration I see with blogging in the first place… too many seem to be focused on a tree and fail to comment on the forest… (I started to use speck and log but decided that might not be well received.)

      ><>”

        Chris Roberts

        I don’t think I have yet to quote anyone but myself. Don’t think I’ve even quoted Scripture. But in your post you mention a number of the Scriptures I would ordinarily bring up in this discussion. Your interpretation of those passages is flawed, but since I already know what you think about them, raising them would serve little purpose. Instead, I’m trying to nail down some of the particulars of what you believe about salvation.

        Les

        My apologies Bob. I misunderstood what you intended with the John passage quote.

        That said, I think we all agree that scripture is the source for our positions whatever they are. Quoting theologians past and present is often helpful, though, as no one of us is a theological island. It’s always a good thing when we have a theological position on a matter to look back in history to see if others held our position. If corroboration is nonexistent or scant, then maybe we should keep studying lest we find ourselves on that theologian island. Alone. Could we be the ONLY one ever to hold a position? I suppose it’s possible. But not too likely.

        Blessings

        Bob Hadley

        Thanks guys… I was really making a point raised earlier that I do not quote others to back up my position… which was raised by someone earlier… my comment on giving equal credence to statements made by theologians was somewhat “tongue and cheek” but it is a problem at times… Personally… for me if Adrian Rogers says something… I listen… for others that may be Mohler or Piper… I certainly understand the benefit pf reading others comments or I would not be here.

        Now… Chris

        To be fair… You wrote “Your interpretation of those passages is flawed, but since I already know what you think about them, raising them would serve little purpose. ”

        Why not be fair and say, your interpretation is vastly different from mine… or is different from the reformed position or any other position but to simply charge it as flawed seems rather egotistical to me.

        Just because you and I see things differently does not mean mine is flawed and yours is somehow “gospel”. Otherwise, I would just read you and become YOUR disciple.

        ><>”

          Chris Roberts

          You think I’m wrong; I think you’re wrong. If I think you are wrong then I think your understanding of these verses is flawed (and you think the same about my understanding of these verses). Why shy away from such language? It is hardly egotistical; it is a simple observation.

          Bob Hadley

          Just for the record.. I do not see your interpretation as flawed… I see them as different from mine. Flawed seems to be a judgmental thing.. but not a biggie… I was just writing. I am probably guilty of making similar statements…

          Bob

          Chris Roberts

          Why are we so afraid to say it when we think someone is wrong, that their beliefs are flawed? It is hardly judgmental; to do otherwise borders on moral relativism. We do not simply have different interpretations, at least one of us has a wrong interpretation. This issue has come up on this and other blogs on several occasions and it drives me crazy. It is not judgmental, aggressive, rude, egomaniacal, or any other such thing to say, “I believe I am right and you are wrong.” It is no wonder that the value of truth has grown so degraded in our day when even church folks are afraid to say, “You are wrong.”

          Bob Hadley

          I see your point. I have put it this way… we may both be wrong but there is one thing that is certain, we cannot both be right.

          In thinking about my response to your original statement… I try very hard to communicate in a way that does not alienate the reader/hearer and to me to say… “you are flawed… you are wrong” almost shuts the door of communication.

          It hit me wrong and so I responded.. which broke one of my own cardinal rules… I cannot help what someone else does… all I can do is be in control of my response.

          No foul… sorry I mentioned it in the first place. was more of an observation than anything.

          ><>”

Debbie Kaufman

Without the presence of the Spirit there is no conviction, no regeneration, no sanctification, no cleansing, no acceptable works . . . Life is in the quickening Spirit. — W A. CRISWELL

Bob Hadley

I want to copy a response I just posted in the middle of this thread… I almost missed several comments that were added later to statements made earlier… this makes blogging a little difficult… because it make sense to add a comment in the place you are responding too… but that can mean a comment I made on Monday is responded to on Saturday so you have to keep scrolling to see those comments! Here is a response to William who answered a question of me being Arminian… that is really not why I am reposting this… but the statement that follows…

William,

Thanks for your contribution. I wrote in this thread that I was neither Arminian nor Calvinist. I appreciate your confirmation oof my statement! LOL. Here is a statement that I think deserves a LOT of attention from us all: “It is so easy seeing things from our own perspective that we fail to see other’s perspectives clearly and correctly.”

Here is the problem that I see with that statement. First of all, it becomes so easy to hurl criticisms at those who have different thoughts about things than we may have by lumping them into some category that we consider illogical and incorrect. This is unfair and in some ways even unintentionally demeaning. The second problem that I see is this, if I cannot follow what someone is saying in a discussion like this and be fair to the other person’s explanations etc… how on earth can we speak to a lost person and help him see the “TRUTH” if all we see is our own personal reference point and his as “Pelagian, Semi-Pelagian, Arminian, Calvinist, etc.?

People really have a hard time even fathoming the point of even debating Calvinism and Arminianism in the first place… but that is not what we are doing. (Or at least not what I am doing.) I am challenging myself to seek to understand sin and its effects on individuals and the world we live in and how conversion overcomes those effects. Now, it just happens that those discussions are framed by those who call themselves Calvinists and Arminians and that is why it is no surprise that I am neither.

I really do appreciate the challenges that lie in these discussions because it does force me to consider my position and seek to understand the Bible for myself. I am not here to change anyone’s mind or convert anyone… that is the responsibility of the Holy Spirit. I have engaged for my personal benefit and for that I am appreciative of all that participate in this process.

May God bless us all and our efforts to serve Him and those He places in our path.

Grateful to be in His Grip!

>”

I really am thankful for the opportunity to engage and learn and be challenged!

    Chris Roberts

    I have yet to figure out a good way to keep track of new comments on a threaded discussion. Scroll, scroll, scroll and glance throughout and hope I don’t miss something new, or search the page for comments added on a particular date. Either way, a little difficult, even if threaded comments add their own useful features.

Les

I posted this far above, but I think it deserves to be seen and not lost in the thread above.

“William and Bob,

My concern is this phrase made by William,

“I sincerely hope that you and others are not relying on the lies and misrepresentations of most Calvinists when engaging Arminianism.”

I happen to know Lance Quinn. I’ve known him and counted him a dear friend for almost 25 years. It is offensive to me, and to him as well if he saw this, for an accusation of lying to be made about Rev. Quinn.

Brothers, this kind of slanderous accusation should not be allowed to stand.

Now, perhaps Rev. Quinn did not fairly state his case. I don’t know since I’ve not read that book.

But to accuse him (and others) publicly of lying? Who among this crowd knows hi heart? Who has the insight to know that he intended to deceive in his book?

Accusing someone (like Lance and John Owen, et al) of lying is a most serious accusation!

Brothers, this is quite unbiblical and I believe deserves a retraction.”

    Bob Hadley

    Les,

    Brothers, this kind of slanderous accusation should not be allowed to stand.

    But to accuse him (and others) publicly of lying? Who among this crowd knows hi heart? Who has the insight to know that he intended to deceive in his book?

    Accusing someone (like Lance and John Owen, et al) of lying is a most serious accusation!

    Brothers, this is quite unbiblical and I believe deserves a retraction.”

    I can only assume since you addressed the remarks noted above and the term, Brothers , that you are including me in your post, as if I ought to retract a statement I made, which was a “serious accusation.”

    Can you explain WHY you used “brothers” and included me in your tirade here?

    ><>”

      Les

      Bob,

      In light of William’s clarification I apologize for including you in my post calling William out. Perhaps you didn’t take what he said the way I did.

      Many blessings,

      Les

Les

Bob,

First, I don’t think it was a “tirade.”

Second, I used brothers because I’m assuming all of us commenting here are brothers in Christ.

Third, though you did not make the accusation of lying, I included you because you are 1) the author of this post where these comments were made and

2) you said in response to Williams comments, “William, Thanks for your contribution.”

I am hoping for you as author of the post to repudiate William’s comments. That’s all. I in no way was accusing you of making the lying accusation.

I’m sorry if you took it that way.

Les

William W. Birch

Les,

I happen to know Lance Quinn. I’ve known him and counted him a dear friend for almost 25 years. It is offensive to me, and to him as well if he saw this, for an accusation of lying to be made about Rev. Quinn.

John Owen and Abraham Kuyper have “lied” about Arminius and Arminians, and I was referring to them. Other Calvinists have “misrepresented” Arminius and Arminians. Saying that Calvinists have historically and some presently “lied” and “misrepresented” Arminius and Arminian theology does not mean every single Calvinist, obviously, nor does it mean that David Steele, Curtis Thomas, and S. Lance Quinn lied or are liars. I think you over-reacted to that one, brother.

Clearly, they actually did misrepresent Arminian theology, and they should be held accountable for it — especially by their Calvinist brothers, and this is a major problem among Calvinists, Les, be they laymen or scholars. None of them are being held accountable for misrepresenting (and sometimes lying — e.g. Owen and Kuyper) Arminius and Arminian theology. Now, this has go to cease!

I’m not going to retract a single statement. If Bob or Dr. Lemke or any other blog moderator wants to delete my comments, they are welcome to it. But I am not going to apologize for telling the truth of this matter.

In Christ.

    Les

    William,

    Your comment about “…relying on the lies and misrepresentations of most Calvinists…” surely came in a Quinn and Steele context, but I will take you at your word that you were not accusing these particular men of breaking the ninth commandment.

    As to John Owen and others lying, I still don’t know these so many years later how you know the intentions of their hearts, but oh well.

    As to misrepresenting, of course it is possible to unintentionally misrepresent another’s theology and it happens all the time. Whether they did so remains a subject of debate, your certainty notwithstanding.

    Blessings to you.

      William W. Birch

      Les,

      Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks. That’s how I can know the intent of Owen’s heart when he spewed forth lies about Arminius, the Remonstrants, and Arminian theology. The same can be said of Abraham Kuyper. He lied about Arminius deriving his Christology from the heretic Socinus!

      You can be sure that if any Arminian ever said the blasphemous words uttered or written by Owen regarding Calvinism, the Calvinist community would (rightly!) be up in arms over it.

      Calvinists who misrepresent Arminian theology — as well as have historically lied about the same (Owen et al.) — do not need modern day Calvinists such as yourself, a respected brother, to just dismiss it. We need you, Les, to be outraged as well. For it is not fair, it harms Calvinism more than you realize, and it divides the body of Christ.

      In Him.

        Les

        William,

        This will need to be my last comment on the lying issue.

        It MAY be true that Owen, Kuyper and other modern day authors have misrepresented Arminians. I’m sure some have.

        But to claim to know ANY of them were (the dead ones) lying really undermines your credibility. Dear brother, you simply cannot know they were lying. And all your statements to the contrary will not make it so.

        I have much to do today, so with that till later…

        Les

          William W. Birch

          Les,

          Then I, too, will make this my last comment on the subject. Given Owen’s seemingly vast knowledge of Arminius’s teaching, as well as that of the Remonstrants, given his seventeenth-century context, and that he was privy to the actual writings and teachings of the same, and then to spew forth what he did in his book A Display of Arminianism can only, it would appear, be utterances of lies. For he knew their actual teachings, since they were widely published after 1621, and yet he on every turn misrepresents them — i.e. he lied.

          Lying is when one knows the context, and intentionally misrepresents that context. He does so throughout his book, calling Arminians corrupt, idolators, “tares in the field,” and satanic. And we’re supposed to just accept Owen’s remarks as true? I will stand by my words until Jesus returns that the man lied, as did Kuyper.

          God bless.

          Chris Roberts

          He calls Arminians Satanic; you call him demonic; seems a fair tit for tat.

Chris Roberts

Bob,

Tacking this to the bottom in capitulation to this recent trend. :)

“the difference between the two is that the latter sees the work of the Holy Spirit in the heart of an individual AFTER regeneration.”

Not entirely. Pelagius taught that human beings were capable of righteousness prior to salvation, semi-Pelagians disagreed. The most fallen humans are able to do apart from the work of the Holy Spirit is seek Christ in order to receive the Holy Spirit.

“There is a difference in being unhindered and coming on your own.”

I should have phrased myself a little better. I would imagine that you do believe sin can hinder, entangle, trip up a person, etc. But you do not believe that sin removes a person’s ability to desire God. Although sin may entice a lost person from salvation, sin cannot stop a lost person from the possibility of desiring, seeking, and responding to salvation. He remains unhindered in the sense that he remains fully capable of turning to Christ, despite the presence of sin and absence of the Holy Spirit.

“Pelagius said the lost person can come unaided by the Holy Spirit, ie, on his own with no outside impetus.”

He would not deny the need for revelation; no one can respond to Christ unless they know there is a Christ to respond to. But this view of revelation treats it as little more than information – the sinner learns that an invitation has been given and the sinner is fully capable in himself of responding to that invitation.

“Your reference, “semi-Pelagians do not believe humans are capable of pursuing righteousness on their own.” is a reference to sanctification…”

No, it refers to any righteousness we might do apart from the work of Christ through the Holy Spirit. Pelagius believed a person could do righteousness even if they were not saved and did not have the Holy Spirit. Semi-Pelagians believe that the only righteous act a lost person can perform is to accept the gospel, to receive Christ. They say the lost person is otherwise incapable of doing good. What do you think?

“as I see it, those councils were largely reformed… so that would be tantamount to presenting our arguments today to the Founders for their official opinion on the discussions.”

It would be peculiar indeed to find Reformed councils being held 1000 years before the Reformation…!

In fact (perusing Wikipedia), Pelagianism was officially condemned at the council of Ephesus in 431, the same council that condemned Nestorianism. Semi-Pelagianism was condemned in 529, at the Second Council of Orange. According to Wikipedia, while this council rejected semi-Pelagianism and affirmed that faith is impossible without the grace of God, the council also rejected the strict predestination theology of Augustine. All my history books are in my office, so I can’t dig into that any more at the moment.

    Bob Hadley

    Les..

    “the difference between the two is that the latter sees the work of the Holy Spirit in the heart of an individual AFTER regeneration.”

    Not entirely. Pelagius taught that human beings were capable of righteousness prior to salvation, semi-Pelagians disagreed. The most fallen humans are able to do apart from the work of the Holy Spirit is seek Christ in order to receive the Holy Spirit.

    Your response to my statement is irrelevant in a discussion of conversion where P and S-P are concerned. Both as I understand them are virtually the same where conversion is concerned; Consider the following statements,

    Semipelagianism in its original form was developed as a compromise between Pelagianism and the teaching of Church Fathers such as Saint Augustine, who taught that man cannot come to God without the grace of God. In Semipelagian thought, therefore, a distinction is made between the beginning of faith and the increase of faith. Semipelagian thought teaches that the latter half – growing in faith – is the work of God, while the beginning of faith is an act of free will, with grace supervening only later. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Semipelagianism

    [Semi-Pelagianism]
    While not denying the necessity of Grace for salvation, Semi-Pelagianism maintains that the first steps towards the Christian life are ordinarily taken by the human will and that Grace supervened only later. http://www.monergism.com/thethreshold/articles/onsite/Arm_Semi_Differences.html

    Given the previous statements defining S-P, I do not agree with your statement, “Semi-Pelagians believe that the only righteous act a lost person can perform is to accept the gospel, to receive Christ. They say the lost person is otherwise incapable of doing good. What do you think?”

    What I think is… (and again I can care less what S-P or any other particular theology states, but I will respond as I see it) is that S-P believe a person comes to God in conversion (which is what P says) unaided by grace or the Holy Spirit… and THEN when the Holy Spirit takes up residence in the heart of an individual, the journey to righteousness begins. Since BOTH are essential to salvation, the primary difference in P and S-P is seen in sanctification and not conversion.

    This distinction also makes discussions concerning salvation difficult because salvation is much more than conversion. My focus is solely at this point on conversion because how a person comes to Christ to me is fundamental and vitally important.

    Now… lets consider your statement and question.. “I would imagine that you do believe sin can hinder, entangle, trip up a person, etc. But you do not believe that sin removes a person’s ability to desire God. ”

    Technically and I know this is going to elicit a ton of comments… my answer is NO… I do not believe sin can hinder, entangle or trip up a person. Now… before you blow your top… let me explain… sin is a decision… so the decision itself does not hinder me or entangle me and it does not “remove my ability to desire God.” Sin is the result of choosing anything but God and His perfect will for my life at that moment.

    I do not think we have a very good concept of what sin is or how it affects our lives. I see my life as the result of my choices and decisions… sin is what I do… not something that controls me. Now… there is this nature that I have and my nature is to serve self instead of surrendering to God…. which is falling short of His glory and that is the definition of sin.

    I suppose that is why I do not ascribe to the concept of Total Depravity and all that it proposes, which is at the heart of the original post in the first place.

    As to your statement, “Although sin may entice a lost person from salvation, sin cannot stop a lost person from the possibility of desiring, seeking, and responding to salvation. ” to me sin does not entice me as much as it is the result of my response… temptation and my nature may entice me but not sin itself… as far as desiring, seeking and responding to salvation (conversion)… the process is more… my response to the Holy Spirit where conversion is concerned… which is the same in sanctification by the way. Conversion takes place WHEN the conviction that I am lost because of MY sin… breaks my will to be controlled by my own selfish nature… and I repent and turn from self to Christ and THEN God forgives my sin and makes me part of His forever family.

    So… sin does not hinder me… sin is the result of choosing anything other than God and His perfect will for my life.

    Now… to be fair please, I am thinking out loud here… so take that in consideration… I am not like some folks… my theology is still a work in progress.

    Grateful to be in His Grip

    &gt:<>”

      Bob Hadley

      Sorry… did not close out the bold print in that last post.

      Bob

        Trey

        Bob,
        Sorry, just saw your question to me after the endless scrolling and viewing which has become quite tedious. As to your question I believe my point was pretty well made by William when he stated how many Calvinists have not lied or misrepresented Arminianism…. THREE …. In ALL of church history, three. So with that, I’m done. This is going nowhere. I think myself and others including William have been more than gracious and given you a fair hearing only to be told we can’t see the forrest through the trees. Sorry Bob, but you seem to want to play in your own forrest devoid completely of any aspect of church history. You can say its because I’m a Calvinist and I can’t see past my filter, however one of the basic principles of hermeneutics is if no one on church history espouses the view…. Run.
        Blessings…

          Bob Hadley

          Trey,

          I think my question to you was in reference to your concept of HOW WHAT I WROTE WAS P or S-P… (as far as seeing the tree for the forest.) I am not sure what you are referring to with respect to William’s post…

          I did ask if Calvinists argue that they are unjustly characterized… so the same argument that someone was making about “Name a Calvinist who has lied or misrepresented Arminians” is equally argued in the reverse.

          Now… I hope you are not trying to say that 3 Calvinists in all of history have misrepresented Arminianism… (which I can care less about since I am neither) but surely you are not trying to say that 3 Calvinists have given the rest a bad name for shamefully misrepresenting Arminianism… sounds like to me that statement in and of itself is a cry of foul for Arminians to even assert that Calvinists would do such a thing!

          The real gist of the post dealing with the trees and the forest is that a LOT of discussion is not on the thrust of the whole of the comment but on a fragmented part of the post that may or may not even have anything to do with the thrust of the statement being made.

          Since I really have no idea why you made the statement, “William when he stated how many Calvinists have not lied or misrepresented Arminianism…. THREE …. In ALL of church history, three. So with that, I’m done. This is going nowhere. I think myself and others including William have been more than gracious and given you a fair hearing only to be told we can’t see the forrest through the trees.”

          I have no idea what the relevance of what you just wrote even applies to me at all.

          Little confused on that one. Sorry.

          ><>”

          William W. Birch

          Trey,

          Now you are guilty of misrepresentation. You didn’t ask me for an exhaustive list of all Calvinists who have represented Arminianism correctly in Church history. You merely asked me, “IS there a Calvinist (alive or dead) who you would say ever represented Arminianism correctly??”

          I not only gave you one (singular) Calvinist alive or dead, but I listed three! And then you have the audacity to make this comment: As to your question I believe my point was pretty well made by William when he stated how many Calvinists have not lied or misrepresented Arminianism…. THREE …. In ALL of church history, three. So with that, I’m done.

          I in no way whatsoever “stated how many Calvinists have not lied or misrepresented Arminianism … THREE … In ALL of church history, three.” You, brother, owe me an apology.

          In Christ.

      Chris Roberts

      When I mention the entanglement of sin, I have in mind Hebrews 12:1.

      I still believe you are misunderstanding the Pelagian/semi-Pelagian distinction, and much of your comment only deepens my confusion as to what you actually believe. Some of what you say sounds outright Pelagian, but then you end with this:

      “Conversion takes place WHEN the conviction that I am lost because of MY sin… breaks my will to be controlled by my own selfish nature… and I repent and turn from self to Christ and THEN God forgives my sin and makes me part of His forever family.”

      Now you are almost sounding back in the camp that sees the necessity of the Spirit’s work not just to provide revelation but to change the sinner so that he is, at least, able to respond (Arminian) or in some sense compelled to respond (Calvinism).

      Most people think of conviction as the work of the Spirit, and you say that conversion is when conviction breaks our will; do you mean the Spirit, in his convicting work, breaks the will of the sinner, opening the way of repentance and salvation? Also,

      o Why does my will need to be broken?
      o Who breaks my will?
      o How is it broken – how does conviction break my will?
      o Is it possible for me to repent and turn from self to Christ unless my will is broken in this way?

        Bob Hadley

        Hebrews 12:1 speaks of the “sin that so easily ensnares us”

        Now… to me when Paul says, “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,” he is in essence saying, “let us lay aside the weight… which is what? The sin that ensnares us… the sin that he is speaking about are the decisions we make that are not of God… so it is not sin itself that ensnares us but rather the decisions we continue to make, which are themselves sin.

        This could be paraphrased this way… “let us lay aside the weight and the decisions we make that weight us down and run with patience the race that is set in front of us.”

        In what way were the references I cited incorrect with respect to a misunderstanding of P and S-P? Since those were not my statements, I am missing something here.

        We can play with words till the cows come home and we can shape the wording any way we want too… I knew what I wrote would generate a similar response…

        Here is what I wrote, “Conversion takes place WHEN the conviction that I am lost because of MY sin… breaks my will to be controlled by my own selfish nature…”

        Now… I am not hanging my theological position on the world “breaks” as you have picked up on. It was a statement that I made “thinking out loud” as I mentioned in the original statement.

        As for being P… it is NOT; really is immaterial as to your opinion on it.

        Now as to your comment… Now you are almost sounding back in the camp that sees the necessity of the Spirit’s work not just to provide revelation but to change the sinner so that he is, at least, able to respond (Arminian) or in some sense compelled to respond (Calvinism).

        The work of the Holy Spirit is absolutely and unequivocally essential to conversion… No… I do not see the work of the Holy Spirit as changing the sinner so that he is able to respond nor compelled to respond.

        It is more of the nature where the Holy Spirit reveals the reality of God’s Word, both the plight of the sinner and the provision of the Savior… and this demands a response. I do not know how to work this any simpler.

        Now… you can look at the statement through the lens of total depravity and my position is probably going to be confusing.

        o Why does my will need to be broken? Because it is mine and not God’s.

        o Who breaks my will? I do… as I respond to the Holy Spirit.

        o How is it broken – how does conviction break my will? Just as my choice is to sin, my choice is to repent and surrender to the touch of the Master’s Hand through the message of the cross, which is the ultimate expression of His unselfish love for me… that is revealed to me by the Holy Spirit in contrast to my selfish nature which has brought separation from God; which is what sin does.

        o Is it possible for me to repent and turn from self to Christ unless my will is broken in this way? I cannot repent and turn to something I know nothing about; It is possible for me to respond to the Holy Spirit as He works in my heart.

        Once again, I am answering your questions “on the fly” and “thinking out loud here”….

        Grateful to be in His Grip

        ><>”

William W. Birch

Les,

Have you read John Owen’s A Display of Arminianism? Or have you read Abraham Kuyper’s The Work of the Holy Spirit?

Les

WILLIAM,

I have read Owen’s work years ago but not Kuyper’s work.

William W. Birch

Chris Roberts,

Technically, I wrote that his hatred of Arminians was nothing shy of demonic, not that the man himself was demonic. You should read a bit more carefully before accusing someone of a confession he did not make.

    Chris Roberts

    Is there a difference in that distinction? Hatred originates from a person; whatever traits we ascribe to a display of emotion must also be ascribed to the person displaying it.

William W. Birch

Chris Roberts,

You’re trying your best to put words in my mouth, which is very telling of you, brother. Does a person who is demon-possessed or influenced by a demon, in whatever manner, to whatever degree, speak about the individual himself?

For example, Paul writes, “Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil” (Eph. 4:27 ESV). Thus venting one’s anger gives the devil a foothold. This does not mean that the individual is demonic, but has allowed the devil a place of influence in his emotions, which manifest as sin. That Owen can be guilty of allowing the devil a place in his emotions with regard to Arminians does not entail that he was himself demonic.

I am hoping that you can understand the clear distinction.

Job

Pastor Bob Hadley:

Hello. I have discussed the so-called Calvinism issue with you in the past on your own site, to counter your claims that Calvinism is anti-missionary and that the majority of the rank-and-file Baptists never were and could not have possibly been Calvinists. I appreciate the opportunity to continue the dialogue here.

Allow me to state (as I have on other articles on this site, and it is a recurring frustration of mine) that depicting the contemporary Baptist divide as that being Calvinism versus Arminianism in my opinion unfairly “rigs the debate” towards the non-Calvinist Baptists. The fact is that while plenty of Baptists are and have always been “Calvinists”, virtually no Baptists have ever been Arminians or Remonstrants. So, it allows non-Calvinist Baptists to assert that the “true Baptist position” is neither Arminian or Calvinist by erecting Arminianism as a false choice, or a straw man.

Arminianism has as much to do with Baptist theology and history as does snake-handling. By contrast, “Calvinist” Baptists go back at least 370 years, and up until the Second Great Awakening in the early 19th century constituted the vast majority of Baptists at the denominational, pastoral, and rank and file member level. So, folks who play the “neither Arminian or Calvinist but Baptist” shell game do so for the purposes of denying or marginalizing a huge portion of Baptist history that includes such figures as John Bunyan, Charles Spurgeon and William Carey. Spurgeon and Carey ardently and consistently promoted and defended limited atonement (or the Baptist formulation of this doctrine, which is particular atonement), and they and the MANY men like them make the “neither Arminian or Calvinist but Baptist” slogan that is now commonplace in many quarters (including this one) to be a ridiculous falsehood.

Again, erecting a doctrinal system that almost no Baptists have ever believed (Arminianism) as the equivalent of a doctrinal system that huge numbers of Baptists have believed for hundreds of years (so-called Calvinism) for the purposes of claiming that you represent neither but instead some “true Baptist position” serves no useful purpose because it is not based on the truth. And the fact that the vast majority of Baptists today are not so-called Calvinists does not excuse this willful, purposeful deviation from and suppression of historical truth.

The “neither Arminian or Calvinist but Baptist” stuff has to stop. Arminianism is as irrelevant to Baptists as is infant baptism, and it should be discussed no more. Also, so-called Calvinist Baptists should cease referring to non-Calvinist Baptists as Arminians, because that is just as much a theological and historical falsehood and purposeful misrepresentation of the truth as the “neither Calvinist or Arminian but Baptist” diversion. I am a 5 point Calvinist who has been under the shepherdship of a non-Calvinist pastor for several years, and were this pastor actually an Arminian I wouldn’t have spent 5 minutes in his church. To put it another way: this non-Calvinist pastor baptized me. Had he been an Arminian who teaches that it is possible for me to lose my salvation and make my baptism to no effect, I most certainly would have sought another church to be baptized into. The so-called Calvinist Baptists who go around calling good Baptists like my pastor “Arminians” know perfectly well that the charge is false, and should cease those false accusations immediately.

So, the real issue should not be framed in terms of “Arminians versus Calvinists” so non-Calvinists can self-servingly declare themselves to be “neither but Baptists”, but rather Generals versus Particulars who are both doctrinally and historically Baptist. General Baptists go back to at least 1609. (Attempts to claim the Anabaptists as Baptists are historically and doctrinally problematic, as the Anabaptists had much more in common with second and third wave Pentecostals than Baptists). Particular Baptists go back to at least 1644. The General Baptists were first, but the Particular Baptists became numerically dominant (and overwhelmingly so). Then the Particular Baptists declined (especially in America) and the General Baptist numbers exploded. But both are and have always been Baptists. That is a historical, theological and denominational truth that should not be denied just because some folks are peeved at Al Mohler running Southern Seminary, Ed Stetzer running Lifeway Research, and the Acts 29 church plants.

Now the General and Particular Baptist name is problematic because many (most) contemporary “Calvinist” Baptists reject particular atonement, and as a result are the so-called “3 point” or “4 point” Calvinists. But it is still an improvement over the “General Baptists are Arminians” falsehoods on one side and “neither Arminian or Calvinist but Baptist” deception on the other by acknowledging the truth: that both non-Calvinists and so-called Calvinists are counted among the ranks of Baptists, have worshiped together in the same denominations and churches, and this is the way that it has always been since the Baptist movement began in the early 17th century. Non-Calvinist Baptists are not Arminians, so-called Calvinist Baptists are not Presbyterians. The current dispute and divide between non-Calvinists and Calvinists in the SBC will not be resolved until the straw men, false choices and distortions used to deny the “legitimate Baptist” (or “majority Baptist” or “mainstream Baptist”) label from the other side. And that allows the people who are uninterested in the resolution of the dispute because they only want “their side” to win because they view the doctrines of “the other side” as heresy or offensive to be a lot more influential – and to operate without their true intentions being known – than would otherwise be possible.

    Bob Hadley

    Job,

    Thanks for joining in the discussion.. I think.

    First of all, you and I have not had any discussions on Calvinists being “anti-missionary” because I do not argue that point. many Calvinists are missionary and always have been… I do not believe that Calvinism has ever been more popular than it is today… I am fully aware that Calvinists have been Baptists but I ardently disagree with Dr. Mohler that Baptists have always been Calvinist. But that has nothing to do with the original post here.

    To be fair to your post here, I personally agree with the assertion that the discussion does not need to be Calvinist or Arminian. Since I am neither, I would love for that to be the case but unfortunately that seems to be in impossible task.

    The “neither Arminian or Calvinist but Baptist” stuff has to stop. Maybe you cut and pasted your response to the wrong post. I do not remember seeing that in ANY post in this thread… unless it has been added since I last scrolled the thread, which was 10 minutes ago. I glanced at my original post and do not even think I mentioned anything about this being “Baptistic” at all… so the whole of your post seems moot to me. My original statement did affirm the undeniable FACT that this whole discussion of Arminianism and Calvinism is if anything growing to be a deeper divide than it is to any consensus but that ought to be obvious, reading this blog. I made no reference to its relevance to our Baptist Heritage.

    As I have said on a number of occasions, I also do not care who was or who was not Calvinist where history is concerned. The fact that ANYONE was or is Calvinist is an inconsequential statement for me. I have sought to make the Bible my guide and not what someone else may or may not have written. Now… of course I read what others write and then seek to form my own “theology” so to speak so the whole argument on the history of what others have believed is valuable in that it has helped shape all of our theological positions… but is of little value to me in seeking to discredit what you or I may think personally.

    With respect to your comment, “That is a historical, theological and denominational truth that should not be denied just because some folks are peeved at Al Mohler running Southern Seminary, Ed Stetzer running Lifeway Research, and the Acts 29 church plants.”

    My response is that these guys have a right to their opinions etc… I just don’t believe it is in the best interest of the SBC to continue in the Calvinistic direction that it is headed in today. I also maintain, that the Calvinism of today is a more determined brand of Calvinism than what has existed in the past. The vast majority of Southern Baptists in the pew are overwhelmingly non-Calvinist… dont know the difference between a tulip and a turnip… and would put a stop to this whole business if they DID… am I peeved at Mohler and others… no… do I think they ought to be somewhere else other than in Southern Baptist institutions, Yes. Will that happen… probably not. Acts 29 church plants… should not be receiving money from NAMB either IMHO.

    On no… you have done it now… TREY… where are you…. look at what Job wrote… “The current dispute and divide between non-Calvinists and Calvinists in the SBC will not be resolved until the straw men, false choices and distortions used to deny the “legitimate Baptist” (or “majority Baptist” or “mainstream Baptist”) label from the other side.” Here he is… a Calvinist crying out about being falsely labeled…

    Additionally you wrote, “And that allows the people who are uninterested in the resolution of the dispute because they only want “their side” to win because they view the doctrines of “the other side” as heresy or offensive to be a lot more influential – and to operate without their true intentions being known – than would otherwise be possible.”

    Guess that falls in the last discussions with Chris… about flawed theology…

    For the record… I am NOT going to be commenting any further on this thread. Unless it pertains to the original post.

    Grateful to be in His Grip

    ><&gtl:

    William W. Birch

    Job,

    Your post was very well thought out. I hope you don’t mind my interacting with it. I’ve been wrestling with being an Arminian in a Southern Baptist context (seminary, including a SBC church back home) for at least the last two years.

    Now, with regard to Perseverance: Are you suggesting that those who deny Unconditional Perseverance are not Christian? The reason I ask is because of your views of being baptized among Arminians who deny the doctrine of Necessary Perseverance (i.e., that you would not be baptized under such people). If Arminians who deny Necessary Perseverance are genuine Christians, then why would you not be baptized among them, or in one of the congregations?

    From my perspective, as a convinced Arminian presently in a SBC context, I’ve been implicitly shown the exit door by both Calvinists and “General Baptists,” if you like. I wonder: In your opinion, is this a majority view of both regarding true Arminians in the SBC? (Though I think the number of genuine Classical Arminians in the SBC is very, very low. Most Southern Baptists, seemingly, are “non-Calvinistic” or “General Baptists”.)

    God bless.

Trey

William,
Wow, brother. Talk about not granting the same grace. Ok, first I guess you didn’t catch the “smiley” I put at the end of the initial question. Why did I do that? Because I had looked at your website and, honestly brother, you take issue with pretty much anyone affirming Calvinism! I get that, it’s completely your right to do so, but as for me, my purpose is not to “convert the world” to Calvinism or in your case, to Arminianism. The question was actually in jest because you had already made it crystal clear (given your reaction to my posting of Quinn, et al) where you stood. So I thought it was obvious we were already on the path of “we’re not going to agree here…” and could jab each other a bit. Guess not. However, if I offended you, I apologize.

Bob,
I’ll try and clear up things here from your last question to me. Please keep in mind, my “so with that, I’m done” is NOT a display of anger. Was simply my way of saying that I’m tired of going in circles and will just wait for your next blog to see if maybe your view will become clearer.

Here’s your previous question(s) to me:
“Let me ask you a question… do you think Calvinists are misrepresented by Arminians or non-Calvinists? I have read that battle cry over and over again by many…

Sure I do. But (refer to my reply to William) the question itself was rather tongue & cheek but apparently that wasn’t communicated.

“It is almost comical to hear anyone say…. I, of course, would disagree with your assessment of the “lies and misrepresentations of most Calvinists” and have to ask after a quick look at your website: IS there a Calvinist (alive or dead) who you would say ever represented Arminianism correctly?? :)
The only possible arguing point would be the word “most”… and your question itself even suggests that William is so anti-Calvinist that ANY criticism from them would be unfairly considered a misrepresentation.”

See the “smiley” up there?? It should be comical because I knew how William was going to respond. He had already established his bias by the statement
“lies and misrepresentations of most Calvinists”.

Hope that helps…

    Bob Hadley

    Trey,

    No apology necessary… like William I did not catch the “smiley face” and as William said… it is difficult sometimes to hear the “kidding” in words written. I was being a little tongue and cheek in my comments as well as those in response to Jobs above as well.

    Two brief comments… I don’t take objection to anyone “being” Calvinist. I am not for the influence that Calvinism is enjoying in the SBC… but beyond that there is no issue with anyone being Calvinist. I am NOT Calvinist nor Arminian so I do speak to those issues with the desire to make sure what I believe is in line Scripturally as it is viewed by others. What you write actually gives me reason to think… which is what I wish everyone would do.

    So… your participation is important! I appreciate it and hope something you say challenges me to better my own position… not convert anyone from theirs. If that were not the case, I would not have accepted the invitation to do this series nor would I spend much time on blogs… I do have a lot of things going on so it is not like I am bored and have nothing more to do. This is important to me and that is why I am engaged, as I am sure most others are as well.

    ><>”

William W. Birch

Trey,

Okay, smiley taken into consideration, I totally “get it” now. I didn’t then; I get it now. If we were discussing these issues in person the dialogue would probably flow so much smoother. God bless, man.

Mark

First, here is a definition of semi-pelagianism from a Roman Catholic source which should eliminate any charge of Reformed bias. :)

(1) the beginning of faith (though not faith itself or its increase) could be accomplished by the human will alone, unaided by grace; (2) in a loose sense, the sanctifying grace man receives from God can be merited by natural human effort, unaided by actual grace; (3) once a man has been justified, he does not need additional grace from God in order to persevere until the end of life.

Then, Bob wrote:

Here is what I wrote, “Conversion takes place WHEN the conviction that I am lost because of MY sin… breaks my will to be controlled by my own selfish nature…”

And

Now as to your comment… Now you are almost sounding back in the camp that sees the necessity of the Spirit’s work not just to provide revelation but to change the sinner so that he is, at least, able to respond (Arminian) or in some sense compelled to respond (Calvinism).

Bob’s position seems to fall in-line with point 1 in the above semi-pelagian definition since he is denying that the Spirit is working within the person and only working externally through natural revelation. Point 2 of the definition may even be in play and I’m not sure point 3 has been discussed.

Bob continues.

The work of the Holy Spirit is absolutely and unequivocally essential to conversion… No… I do not see the work of the Holy Spirit as changing the sinner so that he is able to respond nor compelled to respond.

So we do have the work of the Spirit posited as being essential to conversion, but in what way? Again, the work of the Spirit in Bob’s paradigm is external to the person leaving the sinner to rely on self to respond to God.

Finally, the BFM2K under section “God the Holy Spirit” states.

The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God, fully divine. He inspired holy men of old to write the Scriptures. Through illumination He enables men to understand truth.

So, at this point I am confused on Bob’s position.

Bob Hadley

Mark,

First of all, the quote, Now as to your comment… Now you are almost sounding back in the camp that sees the necessity of the Spirit’s work not just to provide revelation but to change the sinner so that he is, at least, able to respond (Arminian) or in some sense compelled to respond (Calvinism)” was from Chris… I just copied it before I responded to it.

I am sure S-P covers a LOT of ground and I am also sure that the term has taken on a lot of meaning that may or may not be accurately attributed to it. However, the definition that you quoted, 1 and 2 seem to be accurate as I understand it to be. Basically… as I see it, there is no difference in P and S-P where conversion is concerned; but differs in the area of sanctification, which is what 3) above may be referring to… although I am not sure about that statement!

Sorry… your contention that I have somehow referred to the work of the Holy Spirit as “natural revelation” is grossly incorrect. I am not denying that the Spirit works “within” the individual. I am denying that the Holy Spirit changes the sinner so that he is able to respond nor compelled to respond to the gospel. That is ALL I am saying. I continue to be amazed at how quick folks are to label everyone else… and tag them even when they say they are not. I have friends who claim not to be Calvinist but when I read what they say and write and how they may argue their position, it sounds to me like they are pretty much in the Calvinist camp… but I don’t argue the point with them.

To continue to label me or anyone else as a S-P or an Arminian or whatever seems to me to be a bad way to discuss differences in theology…

Back to your final comment… So we do have the work of the Spirit posited as being essential to conversion, but in what way? Again, the work of the Spirit in Bob’s paradigm is external to the person leaving the sinner to rely on self to respond to God.

You finally make a statement that is accurately stated… at least partially. the Holy Spirit works in and on the heart of the unregenerate lost individual through the convicting, revelatory and reconciliatory work and every individual is responsible for his or her decision. I do not believe man is incapable of responding to Revelation or Reconciliation, which are solely of God…

><>”

Bob Hadley

PS

Your reference to the BF&M2K also does not speak to the issue of regeneration nor HOW the Holy Spirit works in the heart of an individual in conversion. It simply says “Through illumination He enables men to understand truth.” Since it is my contention that we must understand the truth BEFORE we can repent, this statement is perfectly consistent with my theological position. I can also argue that the Holy Spirit’s responsibility is to “enable me to understand” the truth and my responsibility is to act on that truth… in repentance and saving faith. Notice the statement does not say “enable me to repent or have faith.”

><>”

Mark

Bob,

Please slow down with the complaints about labels. Historical theological labels help us to sort through issues such as we are here. I don’t understand why you object. You would not object to be called a Baptist, right? People use labels to further the conversation and it is helpful when a seemingly new position such as yours is put forth. Ironically enough, I stated a position, but you were the one who brought the Calvinist and Arminian labels back into the conversation. This shows an implicit need for labels on some level.

You say that my claim that you are contending for a form of natural revelation is “grossly incorrect”. I made the suggestion of natural revelation because of your assertion that the Spirit works through revelation rather than within the individual as I understood you. You now clarify that that you do not deny the Spirit’s work “within” the individual. Great!

However, (here is part of my confusion) you then state that,

I am denying that the Holy Spirit changes the sinner so that he is able to respond nor compelled to respond to the gospel.

Before saying much else and adding more confusion to this exchange I have two questions that may help my confusion.

1. If the Holy Spirit does not enable or compel a person to respond, then what does the Spirit do “within” the person?
2. Given your denial of the Spirit enabling or compelling a person, is it your position that man in his natural state without God’s grace can believe?

Quick note on the BFM quote.
I quoted the statement, “Through illumination He enables men to understand truth.”
The reason I quoted it is because you denied that the Spirit enables the individual while the BFM says He does.

You reply.

Since it is my contention that we must understand the truth BEFORE we can repent, this statement is perfectly consistent with my theological position.

As well as.

Notice the statement does not say “enable me to repent or have faith.

If one must understand truth before he can repent and believe and the Holy Spirit enables one to understand truth as the BFM states, then it seems the Spirit’s role in repentance and faith is certainly one of enabling. Unless, of course, you put the idea of repentance and faith in a different category than that of understanding truth.

Thanks!

Bob Hadley

It is not that I have a problem with labels… as long as they are those we choose for ourselves. I have a general distaste for labels used to describe others… YOUR assessment may not be accurate and so to label someone can be unfair and unjust and misleading.

Perhaps I misapplied your use of “natural revelation” which I took to refer to studying nature, literature, human beings, etc and coming to some position on our relationship with God. I clearly stated that repentance is in RESPONSE to the work of the Holy Spirit. I suppose your semantics of playing with the words “within” are where your conclusions may be coming from but that is your doing not mine.

I do not believe the Holy Spirit changes the sinner so that he is able to respond nor compelled to respond to the gospel. I believe the sinner is fully capable of responding to the work of the Holy Spirit. That is not that difficult to understand.. I have repeated it several times. I do not expect you to accept it but at least understand that it is MY position and lets stop this ring around the roses approach to this issue.

2. Given your denial of the Spirit enabling or compelling a person, is it your position that man in his natural state without God’s grace can believe?

If we can interpret the work of the Holy Spirit as God’s grace then I have no problem with this statement… but again since man is not totally depraved and he has the ability to reason and sin, which the Bible defines as falling short of the grace of God, he can respond in repentance and saving faith to the work of the Holy Spirit…

A major difference in our positions is while the work of the Holy Spirit is absolutely essential in the salvific process, He does not enable (or more specifically regenerate) nor compel the sinner to repent;

Is that better? I do not use “enable” as you would regenerate?

><>”

    Chris Roberts

    “I do not believe the Holy Spirit changes the sinner so that he is able to respond nor compelled to respond to the gospel. I believe the sinner is fully capable of responding to the work of the Holy Spirit.”

    Then you are clearly at least semi-Pelagian. I know you will not accept the label, but a rose is a rose even if the rose has an identity complex. In a nutshell, you believe man retains the ability to respond to the gospel without God having to first enable him. In an abundance of ways, you have confirmed – willingly or not – that your views are consistent with semi-Pelagianism. This position contradicts not just the Bible but also the Baptist Faith and Message which sees the necessity of the Spirit’s enabling work – at least insofar as recognizing that fallen man is unable to understand revelation and must have the Spirit’s enabling in order to understand.

    And with that, I’m finally out of the conversation.

      Bob Hadley

      We all have our perspectives. Keep in mind if you are wearing blue tinted glasses a white wall looks blue. Is the wall blue of is it white? I guess you could argue that it is a matter of perspective.

      You are correct. I believe man has… not necessarily retains… the ability to respond to the gospel without God enabling him to do so. (if you define enable as regenerate) The S-P says man can come to God on his own with no influence of the Holy Spirit. (This why it has been labeled a heresy.) The S-P says the Holy Spirit begins working in an individual’s heart after regeneration. I do not agree with that. There is a difference in saying that a man can on his own come to Christ apart from God’s drawing and man is able to respond to God’s drawing, through revelation and reconciliation.

      Thanks for the input thought. I do consider WHAT you write. I appreciate that.

      My prayer is that we all have great days at our various churches and that Christ is lifted up and God glorified! May the Holy Spirit find liberty in the hearts of all who are worshiping with us tomorrow!

      Grateful to be in His Grip!

      ><>”

Debbie Kaufman

One of the clearest messages I have heard is from John MacArthur and entitled The Doctrine of Absolute Inability

It’s ten minutes in length, but it clarifies this doctrine and is full of scripture.

Debbie Kaufman

Correction: This is part 1 and 2-5 are also on this same site. The entire message is about 30 minutes, but well worth the time spent.

Debbie Kaufman

MacArthur from his sermon says when Nicodemus asked how can I go back into my mother’s womb and be born again, Christ gives an amazing answer. He doesn’t say to pray a prayer, he doesn’t give 4 steps to do in order to be born again. No, Christ says:

5 Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ 8 The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.” John 3:5-8

    Bob Hadley

    So…. how does Jesus statement to Nicodemus relate to the second birth? Obviously the second birth is essential but what does the following statement say about this second birth?

    “8 The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

    ><>”

      Les

      Bob, most commentators believe that Jesus is stating that the Holy Spirit’s work in the new birth is a sovereign work. That is He does when and to whom and how as He pleases, though we cannot see it as He works in subduing the rebellious human heart. Baptist John Gill says,

      “…the Spirit of God is a free agent in regeneration; he works how, and where, and when he pleases; he acts freely in the first operation of his grace on the heart, and in all after influences of it; as well as in the donation of his gifts to men, for different purposes; and this grace of the Spirit in regeneration, like the wind, is powerful and irresistible; it carries all before it; there is no withstanding it; it throws down Satan’s strong holds, demolishes the fortifications of sin; the whole posse of hell, and the corruptions of a man’s heart, are not a match for it; when the Spirit works, who can let?”

        Joshua

        This is what Southern Baptist James P. Boyce had to say about God’s sovereign use of the Spirit in John 3.

        John 3:3-8. Regeneration is here spoken of as essential to entrance into the kingdom of God. This precedes any act on which election is said by any to depend. Yet the sovereignty of God in this is declared in John 3:8. “The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the voice thereof, but knoweth not whence it cometh, and whither it goeth; so is every one that is born of the Spirit.”

        Boyce, James. Abstract of Systematic Theology (p. 261). Kindle Edition.

Debbie Kaufman

I believe in the power of the Holy Spirit who takes a person in the midst of hearing the Word of God either through a sermon, Sunday School lesson or my telling them the Gospel and in the midst of it, the Holy Spirit, who is God, bringing that person to spiritual life without them even leaving their pew or seat. Faith comes from hearing and hearing from the Word of God.

Bob Hadley

Wow… that is a LOT to read in 32 words!

When I first started preaching (35 years ago) I did not know better than to preach from John 3 and did so quite often. I remember reading this passage and not knowing what it meant. What does the wind blowing have to do with coming to Christ?

I realized that the wind was a reference to the coming of the Holy Spirit. I understood that salvation was impossible apart from the work of the Spirit who was “everywhere and touched everyone”. We could “hear” the wind even though we didn’t understand where it came from but KNEW it was with us… “so it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

Look at Nicodemus’ question… “How can these things be?” His question is in reference to Jesus’ declaration, “so it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

Jesus then goes on to say three very special statements in response to Nicodemus’ question. First of all… “You are a teacher of the law and do not know this answer?” Jesus expected a teacher of the law to understand what He was saying. Interesting comment there… wonder what Jesus would say about us today?

Listen to this… “11 Most assuredly, I say to you, We speak what We know and testify what We have seen, and you do not receive Our witness.” I don’t get the reference here to “irresistible grace” or the statement, “there is no withstanding it; it throws down Satan’s strong holds, demolishes the fortifications of sin; the whole posse of hell, and the corruptions of a man’s heart, are not a match for it; when the Spirit works, who can let?” I admit this may be true… but to read all that into these 32 words seems awful eisegetical to me!

“12 If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things? It seems to me that Jesus is acknowledging man’s responsibility to believe the truth of the Word of God… which He EXPECTED them to do… especially since He will say that He Himself IS the TRUTH… John 14:6.

Here is the 3d thing in Jesus’ response to Nicodemus’s question… my favorite verse in ALL the Bible… the gospel in a nutshell…

14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. 16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. ,/b>

18 “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

I do not claim to be the smartest person in the world… but When I read this passage I see Jesus answering Nicodemus’ question by saying New birth comes to “all who believe” this wind that they hear but do not know where it comes from or goes to!

Now one final comment about who Jesus died for… the world that He came to is the same world He came to save… BOTH are mentioned in this one short verse… fortunately for the “elect” they are a part of the world as a whole, for which Jesus came into and died for.

Thank God for the message of Christmas… “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. 21 And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” (Matt 1:20-21)

><>”

    Trey

    (Ok, can’t believe I’m allowing myself to be drawn back in…LOL)
    Bob,
    Just quick question: Can you give us any others who share in your interpretation here of the John 3 passage?

    Thanks

Bob Hadley

Trey…

Why is it so important to have people who “believe as I do”? I don’t have a clue who may or may not agree with what I have written… nor do I really care. Goodness… I am speaking about WHAT the Scriptures say to me… I never really gave a LOT of thought about what others thought about it… until the last 10 years or so…

So… if that makes me somewhat of an oddball in this arena, then so be it. I am sure there are more than a few others who are in the same boat, just a different sea.

Since, as I said in the beginning of this passage, this was what I saw as I read this passage years ago, that is what I wrote today. I still see significance in it and that is why I wrote what I did.

Sorry I do not run around quoting a lot of “mere mortals” who have a huge following. I quoted the Lord. He was crucified. Seems to me to be a good reference.

><>”

    Les

    Bob, I wrote this earlier. I think it applies here.

    “That said, I think we all agree that scripture is the source for our positions whatever they are. Quoting theologians past and present is often helpful, though, as no one of us is a theological island. It’s always a good thing when we have a theological position on a matter to look back in history to see if others held our position. If corroboration is nonexistent or scant, then maybe we should keep studying lest we find ourselves on that theologian island. Alone. Could we be the ONLY one ever to hold a position? I suppose it’s possible. But not too likely.”

    With all due respect, yes you did quote the Lord. But you then put your interpretation on what He said. I think for all of us it is always a good idea to read widely present and past commentaries, lest we do find ourselves on that theological island.

    Blessings,

    Les

      Bob Hadley

      I doubt seriously that I will write anything that someone has not written. I simply am not one to try to attempt to read everything that is out there for it seems to me to make some “mad” for as I read a LOT from so many who do as you have suggested, I am no more pleased with the conclusions that have come up with and I have not found a writer that I really think has everything together so until I do… I will persevere brother…

      After all… neither of us has to answer to the Lord for what the other read or thought… all I am responsible for is for how I responded to the Master right? (with the possible exception of teaching others what the Lord has taught me… even if it is not consistent with some mainline theological posit.) The Great Commission clearly says that I am to be “20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

      So… my job is to teach folks what the Lord has taught ME… not what He has taught someone else.

      I do read ALL the time. I might read something that you say and it causes me to think of something completely different from what you may be saying to me… but it lights a light… so that is why I even engage in this kind of forum in the first place.

      My goal is NOT to enlighten you or anyone else… but to be enlightened myself and to learn and put pieces of this puzzle together and maybe connect a few more dots.

      Again, for that opportunity I am grateful and I am equally grateful for your participation! I really do appreciate it.

      ><>”

Les

Bob,

First, the Gill quote was from verse 8. Your reference to him being “eisegetical” is where you were dealing with verse 11.

Second, Gill’s comments were not at all eisegetical. He was simply explaining the results and implications of his interpretation of verse 8. Hey, if Gill is guilty of eisegesis, Spurgeon must be the master of it.

Finally, this post and most of your comments further explaining your new view has become more and more confusing and convoluted, at least to me. I’ll try to sit the rest of this one out and see if I can better understand the next post.

God bless,

Les

Bob Hadley

Les,

Sorry for the confusion… I was using what Jesus said in verse 11 and following to clarify what He said in verse 8… which did not seem to me… to support Gill’s remarks on verse 8. If you read Gill’s comments and others on verse 8 and come up with this idea that Jesus was saying IN THIS PASSAGE…verse 8… or anything even remotely related to the following statement, “this passage points to “irresistible grace” or the statement, “there is no withstanding it; it throws down Satan’s strong holds, demolishes the fortifications of sin; the whole posse of hell, and the corruptions of a man’s heart, are not a match for it; when the Spirit works, who can let?”

That is clearly eisegesis… with no question. Now… is it accurate? I say no and you say yes… but the accuracy of the conclusion has nothing to do with the reality that those presuppositions are being read into the text.

Man up! That is a fair assessment.

Ooopppssss I missed your statement, “Second, Gill’s comments were not at all eisegetical. He was simply explaining the results and implications of his interpretation of verse 8.”

I guess your second part of your statement is supposed to excuse the first part of you statement. I guess I am missing something in the definition of eisegesis.

><>”

Les

Bob, Gill, like most Solid preachers in his era, we’re exceptional in their preaching in that they were so steeped in the entirety of the bible, they were able to bring from other places in scripture what we might today call cross references. If Gill believed that John 3:8 teaches the sovereign work of God in regeneration, as I and many others also believe, then the comments following fit perfectly in further explaining the implications of that sovereign work. Very common method in preaching and Puritan era writing.

So, not eisegesis at all. but I’ll try to man up anyway.

    Bob Hadley

    Les,

    I guess it is only considered eiesgesis when it disagrees with what the writer’s assertion. When we agree with it, I guess it is considered “cross-referencing” and if we do not agree with it, it is eisegesis…. otherwise the term would not even exist!

    Kind of like beauty in the eye of the beholder.

    Thanks for clearing that up. I am learning!

    ><>”

      Les

      I think this is what Gill was trying to communicate…that it is God who births men into the kingdom. As in nature men don’t have one jot or tittle or anything else to do with their natural birth, so in the spiritual world. One can no more assist in any way his spiritual birth than he can assist in his natural birth. And the way the wind blows and moves, invisibly, is likened to how the Spirit moves. We cannot see the wind and we cannot see the Spirit working in a man’s heart. We can only see the result. And no power on earth or in hell can stop God from effecting the new birth.

      More evidence for God’s sovereignty in this whole process:

      Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, (1 Peter 1:3 ESV)

      Notice “he has caused…”

      “If you know that he is righteous, you may be sure that everyone who practices righteousness has been born of him.”
      (1 John 2:29 ESV)

      Notice, “born of him…” Of Jesus, not of ourselves at all.

      i.e. same idea as in John 3. No person grows up and says, ” Yeah, I decided when the time was I was to be born. My mom was offering for me to be born and was perfectly willing for me to be born. But she left the decision to finally be born again up to me.”

      Blessings to you.

        Bob Hadley

        Good Morning Les…

        Hope your Sunday was great and also wanted to applaud your work in Haiti! What an awesome task you have taken on. May God continue to bless your ministry there and at home.

        Would it be fair to say, your use of Nicodemus’ response to Jesus statement about “being born again” might be a little misplaced in lending your interpretation to verse 8?

        ><>”

          Les

          Bob, I’m not sure what you mean by misplaced.

          Nicodemus makes a statement in v. 2 about the signs Jesus does.

          Jesus responds in v. 3 that unless one is born again one cannot see the kingdom of God.

          Nic then asks in v. 4 how one can be born when he is old.

          Jesus’ answer to Nic’s question of verse 4, follows in vv. 5-8. In particular Jesus says in v. 7, ” Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.” This is in direct reference to Nic’s question. Jesus then follows with v. 8 as further explanation of the idea of the new birth.

          Thanks for your comments about Haiti. I am greatly blessed to be doing that ministry.

          Bob Hadley

          I was commenting on the closing statement that you made, “i.e. same idea as in John 3. No person grows up and says, ” Yeah, I decided when the time was I was to be born. My mom was offering for me to be born and was perfectly willing for me to be born. But she left the decision to finally be born again up to me.”

          I took as a reference to Nic’s question to Jesus:
          4 Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?”

          Jesus was not confirming his statement; He corrected by simply saying… in order to see the Kingdom of God you must be twice born, not just born physically but born again.

          His statement as I see neither confirms nor denies this notion of regeneration as is suggested in your interpretation of verse 8.

          ><>”

          Les

          Bob,

          I’ll just reiterate my words written today at 7:54 am. i.e. God is sovereign in the new birth process. That is the point of the wind analogy in v. 8. He does what He wants when He wants and no man or demon can stand against His actions.

          1 Peter 1:3 agrees (of course since scripture will not disagree with itself) that God “causes” us to be born again.

        Andrew Patrick

        Les, did you realize that you destroyed your own argument?

        Les wrote:

        Notice, “born of him…” Of Jesus, not of ourselves at all.

        i.e. same idea as in John 3. No person grows up and says, ” Yeah, I decided when the time was I was to be born. My mom was offering for me to be born and was perfectly willing for me to be born. But she left the decision to finally be born again up to me.”

        When considering a human mother and child, neither one has a choice in the birth process. Excepting extraordinary circumstances, the child shall be born, regardless of the will of the mother. Although it is true that the child cannot choose not to be born, it is also true that neither can the mother choose not to give birth!

        Mother and child have equal say about whether the child will be born … equally ZERO, that is. If a mother could prevent her child from being born simply by wishing it wouldn’t happen there would be a lot less children in the world today!

        A word of caution: if you seek to preserve your analogy by reminding us that abortion does exist at the will of the mother and not the child, then you are also risk that Calvinist doctrine of Perseverance of the Saints…

        To “prove” that man has no will about being born, you assigned man the role of the infant and God the role of the mother. But if the analogy was meant to speak of the will of the participants, then you have proved too much.

        Thus, your John 3 reasoning, if allowed to continue, actually disproves the sovereignty of God. I cannot accept your interpretation, because I must believe that God has at least some say about whether we are “born of the Spirit” or not.

        Your analogy was just plain flawed to begin with… a classic example of eisigesis (and as much as I despise that term, that is its proper application!)

        Back to the topic of “Total Depravity” (etc…)

        When I do read John 3, I see how he tells us that the Son of Man will be lifted up like the serpent in the wilderness, and in another place he also speaks of being lifted up, saying:

        Joh 12:32 KJV
        (32) And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.

        Jesus told us that “God so loved the world” (John 3:16) also he said that he would draw “all men” unto him (John 12:32.) Read the scriptures!

        Mat 23:37 KJV
        (37) O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!

        If Jesus wanted to gather them together, and they would not, then obviously their will has something to do with all of this. I cannot speak for anyone else, but I trust the words of Jesus above those of Gill and Spurgeon.

          Les

          Andrew,

          Any human analogy is ultimately flawed. I know that and I assume you know that too. In fact you proved it as well when you wrote:

          “When considering a human mother and child, neither one has a choice in the birth process. Excepting extraordinary circumstances, the child shall be born, regardless of the will of the mother. ”
          Firs, you brought in “Excepting extraordinary circumstances” which destroys the first part of your statement. Of course besides abortion, a doctor can do a c-section and totally preempt the mother.

          But we do know that the mother has choices she can make and the baby has no choices.

          You said,

          “Thus, your John 3 reasoning, if allowed to continue, actually disproves the sovereignty of God. I cannot accept your interpretation, because I must believe that God has at least some say about whether we are “born of the Spirit” or not.”

          Sorry. Can’t see how it disproves the sovereignty of God. And you have every right to reject my interpretation. And I agree God has “at least some say about whether we are “born of the Spirit” or not” as you say. In fact I believe the scripture teaches He has ALL the say.

          You say, “Read the scriptures!”

          Thanks. I have.

          Now here’s a question: Since you mentioned the sovereignty of God, do you believe God is sovereign over all things?

          Thanks

          Bob Hadley

          Les,

          Do you believe that God is sovereign over all things? Define what you mean when you say “sovereign over all things?”

          Oh… good morning to you!

          ><>”

          Les

          Morning Bob.

          Yes, I believe God is sovereign over all things. There is nothing that happens in the universe without His permission and control. I do not think here is even one atom or neutron or proton or particle of dust nor anything else that can operate or does operate outside His control.

          I know that the above gets somewhat into God’s decrees, but nevertheless. God is the supreme power and is above any external control.

          Our God is in the heavens;
          he does all that he pleases. (Psalm 115:3 ESV)

          Blessings!

          Les

          Bob Hadley

          So, how does sin play into this picture of God being in control of everything that happens?

          If you say He allows or permits it, then why is it impossible for God to permit or allow a lost individual to “believe or not believe the truth of the gospel?”

          Why is one considered NOT challenging the sovereignty of God and the other is? I hear this idea that in conversion that IF man has a choice then his choice somehow supersedes God’s sovereign choice where conversion is concerned… but when we sin… God’s sovereignty is not called into question…

          my will then is not in conflict with God’s sovereign will.

          ><>”

          Les

          Bob,

          “So, how does sin play into this picture of God being in control of everything that happens?”

          Of course we know from scripture that God is not the author of sin and cannot be charged with sin. this is mysterious for sure. But the example of Job and Joseph’s brothers and Habakuk tell us that God does not create fresh evil in man’s hearts. But He does use man’s evil intentions and actions for His purposes.

          “If you say He allows or permits it, then why is it impossible for God to permit or allow a lost individual to “believe or not believe the truth of the gospel?””

          Nothing is impossible with God. He does “allow a lost individual to “believe or not believe the truth of the gospel.” The problem is not what God allows. He allows that. The problem is man is morally incapable and morally unwilling to believe unless and until he awakened from his spiritually dead state. Then man is able to respond in faith and repentance, willingly and happily. Man is not dragged kicking and screaming into the kingdom. But his nature is changed by God.

          Why is one considered NOT challenging the sovereignty of God and the other is? I hear this idea that in conversion that IF man has a choice then his choice somehow supersedes God’s sovereign choice where conversion is concerned… but when we sin… God’s sovereignty is not called into question…

          In conversion, repentance and faith, man does have a choice and he chooses Christ. Once his eyes are opened by God and he is quickened by God, he runs to the glorious Christ!

          Bob Hadley

          Thanks Les…

          Again as you and I have dialogued together… I appreciate the interaction as well as that of others… because it pushes me to make sure what I believe is Sound for ME…

          You wrote: “Of course we know from scripture that God is not the author of sin and cannot be charged with sin. ” I agree.

          Here is the problem that I have with the determinism that Calvinism maintains… Make no mistake about it… I Know God is 100% sovereign. No debating that FACT.

          However, to say, anything along the lines of your following statement, I think is dangerous: “I do not think there is even one atom or neutron or proton or particle of dust nor anything else that can operate or does operate outside His control.”

          In light of this determined stance related to God’s sovereignty, He by default becomes responsible for sin; you can say he is not… in fact I have read the argument that the Westminster Confession says on one hand that “every event that takes place is according to God’s sovereign will” and then in the same statement, it says “sin is the sole responsibility of man.” I did not look it up and an paraphrasing it from memory but that is basically what you have just said…

          Seems to me that is like calling “heads I win, tails you lose.” If I bring up an objection that God cannot be in control of something, the answer is God is in control of ALL things…

          If I say God is responsible for sin, the reference is to the second part of the confession or as you did, quote Scripture that says God cannot be responsible for sin.

          Since the there is no debating the latter statement, I see room for debate on the former statement that God in His sovereignty IS in absolute control of all things. Since the Bible says He is not in control of sin, He cannot be in control of all things, since most of what takes place in the world is directly related to the sinful actions of a world that is 90% lost and depraved!

          In fact, (thinking out loud here) since roughly 90% of the world’s population is lost and depraved and unregenerated, according to Calvinist tenets, man hates God and the things of God and is totally incapable of responding to God unless and until God regenerates him, how is God in control of EVERYTHING that goes on, when the vast majority of what it going on is sinful and brings no glory to God in the least?

          Does not seem to me that He is in control of every atom and proton… Is He still sovereign… absolutely… could He control everything absolutely… is He in control of everything… absolutely NOT.

          Now… your last statement is equally interesting. At a casual reading it sounds perfectly fine… and if it were not seen in this particular setting I would say AMEN.

          I will not even comment on the last statement. been drug out far enough already.

          ><>”

          Les

          Bob,

          I love talking about the glorious doctrine of His sovereignty. One verse (of many) that spells out His sovereignty is:

          I form light and create darkness,
          I make well-being and create calamity,
          I am the LORD, who does all these things.
          (Isaiah 45:7 ESV)

          In many places in the bible God’s absolute sovereignty over all things is spelled out.

          Spurgeon says,

          “”I believe that every particle of dust that dances in the sunbeam does not move an atom more or less than God wishes – that every particle of spray that dashes against the steamboat has its orbit, as well as the sun in the heavens – that the chaff from the hand of the winnower is steered as the stars in their courses. The creeping of an aphid over the rosebud is as much fixed as the march of the devastating pestilence – the fall of . . . leaves from a poplar is as fully ordained as the tumbling of an avalanche.”

          Then,

          “What is fate? Fate is this – Whatever is, must be. But there is a difference between that and Providence. Providence says, Whatever God ordains, must be; but the wisdom of God never ordains anything without a purpose. Everything in this world is working for some great end. Fate does not say that. . . . There is all the difference between fate and Providence that there is between a man with good eyes and a blind man.””

          Yet, as you expect, I do affirm that yet notwithstanding, He is not the author of sin. If you’ve never read Jonathan Edwards on this matter, please do. He says,

          “If by ‘the author of sin,’ be meant the sinner, the agent, or the actor of sin, or the doer of a wicked thing . . . it would be a reproach and blasphemy, to suppose God to be the author of sin. In this sense, I utterly deny God to be the author of sin.” But, he argues, willing that sin exist in the world is not the same as sinning. God does not commit sin in willing that there be sin. God has established a world in which sin will indeed necessarily come to pass by God’s permission, but not by his “positive agency.”

          and he says God is…

          “the permitter . . . of sin; and at the same time, a disposer of the state of events, in such a manner, for wise, holy and most excellent ends and purposes, that sin, if it be permitted . . . will most certainly and infallibly follow.”

          and…

          “sin is not the fruit of any positive agency or influence of the most High, but on the contrary, arises from the withholding of his action and energy, and under certain circumstances, necessarily follows on the want of his influence.”

          and…

          “God may hate a thing as it is in itself, and considered simply as evil, and yet . . . it may be his will it should come to pass, considering all consequences. . . . God doesn’t will sin as sin or for the sake of anything evil; though it be his pleasure so to order things, that he permitting, sin will come to pass; for the sake of the great good that by his disposal shall be the consequence. His willing to order things so that evil should come to pass, for the sake of the contrary good, is no argument that he doesn’t hate evil, as evil: and if so, then it is no reason why he many not reasonably forbid evil as evil, and punish it as such.”

          Now, you and others are by now decrying my quotes from dead men. Some of you (not necessarily you, Bob) will say something like, “Wel I don’t care what Spurgeon or Edwards said. I don’t care what any man says. I just believe what the bible says.’

          To which I will reply in advance, so do I believe what the bible says. So did they. The difference is in how we understand or interpret what the bible says.

          Finally, is not Jesus and the cross a great example of this? Was it not pre-ordained (pre-determined) that Jesus would be born at a specific time and in a specific place, etc. And that He would live a sinless life and ultimately be betrayed by the sinner Judas?

          Surely no one of you believes that God left Judas’ betrayal of Jesus up to chance or free will. Can we not agree that God knew beforehand and planned that Jesus would choose Judas who would betray Him? And that betrayal of the Savior cannot be charged to God the Father, can it?

          In fact, read:

          The Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man if he had not been born.”
          (Matthew 26:24; Matthew 26:25 ESV) Judas, who would betray him, answered, “Is it I, Rabbi?” He said to him, “You have said so.”
          (Matthew 26:24; Matthew 26:25 ESV)

          Jesus didn’t say, “Woe to my Father who put my betrayal in the heart of my betrayer.”

          No, He pronounced the woe on Judas because Judas did what Judas’ do. God didn’t have to put that into his heart. Judas was a betrayer from the beginning.

          Yet, and his is so magnificent, and demonstrates the utterly mind-boggling sovereign and providential rue of God, though God didn’t create the evil in Judas, He sovereignly and providentially orchestrated all events throughout history leading up to the betrayal to ensure His holy will was accomplished…namely the arrest and crucifixion and resurrection of His Son!

          Man! Sounds like a sermon. Friends, don’t come to Calvin, or Spurgeon or Edwards. Come to the Son of God and bow down to the King of all kings!

          Ok. I’ll be quiet now.

          Blessings.

          Les

          This:

          “the utterly mind-boggling sovereign and providential rue of God” should have read,

          “the utterly mind-boggling sovereign and providential rule of God…”

          Bob Hadley

          Les

          just re-read your post on sovereignty… Of course as I have already said… the issue of God’s sovereignty is not a questionable issue… HOW that sovereignty is seen to work in the hearts and lives of individuals is another matter altogether.

          You wrote… “What is fate? Fate is this – Whatever is, must be. But there is a difference between that and Providence. Providence says, Whatever God ordains, must be; but the wisdom of God never ordains anything without a purpose. Everything in this world is working for some great end. Fate does not say that. . . . There is all the difference between fate and Providence that there is between a man with good eyes and a blind man.””

          Here is an interesting question… do you think it is possible for finite minds to describe an infinite God using such concepts as providence and fate… seems that these terms might be so limiting to even begin to define HOW God’s sovereignty would be expressed in our world and in our lives. Just a thought. After all, those terms are not dealt with in the Scriptures.

          I found the following statement intriguing indeed. But, he argues, willing that sin exist in the world is not the same as sinning. God does not commit sin in willing that there be sin. God has established a world in which sin will indeed necessarily come to pass by God’s permission, but not by his “positive agency.”

          Now if I am understanding this statement, God ordained sin… corporately and not individual specific sins. I actually like that idea. Here is a question. Why is that not possible where conversion is concerned? He has willed that people be saved and has established a world whereby conversion WILL take place by His Divine will but not His “positive agency”?

          Is that even a “remote possibility”? I am sure liking this idea.

          ><>”

          Bob Hadley

          Les,

          Let me modify the response I made a little earlier…

          In speaking on the issue of God being the author of sin, you credited Jonathan Edwards with the following statement: “God has established a world in which sin will indeed necessarily come to pass by God’s permission, but not by his “positive agency.” (Let me say this, I don’t care if Edwards really said this nor do I care what he or whoever said it may or may not have meant by the statement. I am simply giving credit to Edwards for saying it.) The point from my perspective and the reason for this post, is I really do like this statement.

          I do not believe that God is the author of individual sin. Obviously God did create the world. He has allowed and certainly permitted sin. He was not and is not a “positive agent” of individual sin. So, it seems logical and Biblical to say, “God has established a world in which sin will indeed necessarily come to pass by God’s permission, but not by his “positive agency.”

          In the same manner, I like the following statement, “God has willed that people be saved and has established a world whereby conversion WILL take place by His Divine will but not His “positive agency”?

          Grateful to be in His Grip,

          ><>”

Trey

Brother, it’s NOT important that people believe as you do. To be quite honest, I pray that they don’t. First, you didn’t just quote our Lord and you didn’t just give an application, you gave an INTERPRETATION of what you thought the passage MEANT. This means you are interpreting
Scripture and with that comes the use of some fundamental hermeneutical principles which you have severely failed time and time again to use. One of them being that if no one else shares in your INTERPRETATION you should ABANDON that interpretation! In other words it IS important that you believe as others do – at least some others! And you refuse to incorporate any aspect of church history. This has all been discussed before! You’re not coming up with something new brother. The only problem is when it is pointed out as wrong, you simply say, “well that’s your opinion”.
Second, you are on a blogsite represented by the SBC. This is read by those who do have a developed theology and those that don’t, but none the less they come here at least halfway expecting to be able to trust that whoever they are reading is on solid ground. (Regardless of whether they claim a label or not) You however, have come under the guise of trying to work something out, some “new way of thinking” and yet have been shown time and time again that not only is a lot of your thinking in error, but it is in contradiction with the BFM. Yet your response is simply to the effect, “well that’s your opinion.” A site of this nature is not the place to work out your own brand of theology. That is to be done on your own personal site, which you have and seems to be very active. Also, for someone who claims they are not an expert on Arminianism or Calvinism, or not very well read in church history except for years ago for a test, you seem to never be in lack of refuting noted theologians when you are in disagreement.
Third and final, you are a pastor. You are supposed to be called of God to present an accurate interpretation of the Truth. To use principles that have been tried and tested so that you may then teach the people. You are responsible to teach your flock. To see that they approach the text accurately. Do you really espouse this “Me and My Bible” approach? Do you teach that to your congregation? I pray not. If so, then you should have no problem with me being a member of your church regardless of what I believe whether it be Calvinism, Arminianism, Conversionism, or even Atheism!

Brother, I want to say this lovingly, cease from this. It is not fruitful. Fine and well to continue this venture on your own site, (although I would encourage you to get a good book on church history and hermeneutics and spend the next few weeks reading) but not through the SBC site. This is not edifying anyone and is on dangerous ground.

    Bob Hadley

    a couple brief comments because as you say, this is not really very helpful. That I agree with.

    Your assertion, “that if no one else shares in your INTERPRETATION you should ABANDON that interpretation!” cannot be a valid hermeneutical or there would be NO NEW thoughts… Amazing Grace was contemporary to someone… who knows… I may gain a few followers or gain some insight into my writing from these posts.

    As i see it, you asked me ONE question, “How would you say this differs from the first point of Arminianism?” and did not bother to even comment on the original post. Later you asked for references. If that is the extent to your participation and then rail me for not playing according to the rules that you deem essential, then we are both wasting each others time.

    I at least attempt to respond as responsibly to what You and others have written.

    As far as the significance of what I am writing on a SBC web site, I was given an invitation to do so by the operators of the site. As people come on here, “at least halfway expecting to be able to trust that whoever they are reading is on solid ground.” they have the benefit of reading what I have written and make their own minds up as to the relevance. I read a LOT on here and other SBC Blogs that I certainly do not agree with. I am assuming that is why these forums exist in the first place.

    As far as my pastoral responsibility, Neither you or I are bound to the other’s standard. I hope that we BOTH or all for that matter, are serving the Lord in an attitude of an audience of One… seeking to please Him in all that we do and to be obedient and sensitive to His leadership and guiding. If that were not true for me, I would be the first to resign. The tried and tested principles that i try to teach are from the Scriptures, not those promoted in the endless quotes of various individuals who are recognized by others as experts in their respective theological positions.

    It seems to me that would be a difficult model to argue as successful since we are no closer to any resolution of these arguments than they were when they were first postulated.

    So… as long as my comments are welcome at SBCToday, I will continue to do so and invite you to challenge anything that I say… but I am in agreement with you, “Brother, I want to say this lovingly, cease from this. It is not fruitful.”

    If you do not want to comment on something that I have actually said… then don’t.

    If no one else comments, then I guess there would be no need for your complaint would it?

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