Author Archive

A Selective Review and Critique of Whomever He Wills – Part 2B

David L. Allen

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


(Ed.’s note: Dr. Allen’s “Part 2” is approximately 8,000 words in length. SBCToday will therefore publish Part 2 in 2,000-word (approximate) increments. These shorter installments will be signified thusly: Part 2A; Part 2B; etc. What follows below is Part 2B. This follows sequentially Dr. Allen’s “Part 2A” that appeared on Aug. 13.)

2) Dabney Misread.

Schrock cites my appeal to the negative inference fallacy, and my citation of Dabney. He says my point would be well-taken if these “bare positive statements” [texts which speak of the extent of the atonement “for His people” or “for the church.”] were all there was (80-81). Notice his next move. He follows by saying “However, these texts are but visible geysers forced to the surface by the power of God’s plan to save a particular people. As we will see below, the fountainhead of these verses is God’s covenantal relationship with His particular people” (81). Nothing here mitigates or refutes what I have said at all. Schrock footnotes J. Ramsey Michaels (Ibid.). He then quotes Michaels: “Most references to Jesus death in John’s gospel have to do with its benefits for believers, of Jesus’ own disciples, and are thus fully consistent with ‘particular redemption’ as the early English Baptists understood it” (81-82). Again, this has nothing to do with the price of tea in China. We are not talking about the benefits of the atonement being limited only to those who believe. All agree with that. Nothing in Michaels’ statement contradicts the notion of an unlimited atonement. Nothing in God’s covenantal relationship with His people, i.e., believers, mandates particular redemption either, but Schrock promises more on this later, so we will address this issue later as well.

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A Selective Review and Critique of Whomever He Wills – Part 2

David L. Allen

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


(Ed.’s note: Dr. Allen’s “Part 2” is approximately 8,000 words in length. SBCToday will therefore publish Part 2 in 2,000-word (approximate) increments. These shorter installments will be signified thusly: Part 2A; Part 2B; etc. What follows below is Part 2A. This follows sequentially Dr. Allen’s “Part 1” that appeared on Aug. 10.)

In Part 2 of this review, I intend to cover the first two sections of David Schrock’s chapter “Jesus Saves, No Asterisk Needed: Why Preaching the Gospel as Good News Requires Definite Atonement,” 77- 119. Schrock replies in part to my chapter in Whosoever Will: a Biblical-Theological Critique of Five-Point Calvinism entitled “The Atonement: Limited or Universal?” (61-107). Schrock’s chapter is divided into five sections: “Christ’s Death is Particular,” “Christ’s Death is Efficacious,” “Priestly Arguments for Particular and Effective Atonement,” “The Covenantal Nature of the Atonement,” and “The Universal Impact of Definite Atonement.” I intend to offer a detailed two-part critique of Schrock’s chapter. What follows is the first installment covering his sections “Christ’s Death is Particular” and “Christ’s Death is Efficacious.” By way of clarification throughout this review, with respect to definitions, the phrases “limited atonement,” “particular redemption,” and “definite atonement” as used in Schrock’s chapter and by me in this review all should be defined to mean that “Christ died only for the sins of the elect.” The “limited” in “limited atonement” refers to the limited sin-bearing nature of Christ’s death; he only satisfied for the sins of the elect.

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

By David L. Allen

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

 

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

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

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

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The Current SBC Calvinism Debate:
Observations, Clarifications, and Suggestions

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The Current SBC Calvinism Debate:
Observations, Clarifications, and Suggestions


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


The release of “A Statement of the Traditional Southern Baptist Understanding of God’s Plan of Salvation” has engendered a Convention-wide discussion and made nation-wide news. Tongues have been wagging and fingers have been pecking computer keyboards ceaselessly these past few weeks. The Statement has received both acclaim and criticism. In reflecting on the tsunami of words, and as a conversation partner along with my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, I have asked the Lord to help me be wise as a serpent and harmless as a dove. I hope the following thoughts will be helpful as we continue the conversation in the days ahead. By way of brief personal background, I have served the local church for 26 years, 21 of those years as a senior pastor of two churches. I have served two theological institutions in the classroom since 1985. In addition, I served on the Board of Trustees at one of our SBC Seminaries for 12 years. In the interests of full disclosure, I am a signatory of the document.

Two things are crystal clear. The issue of Calvinism in the Southern Baptist Convention is not going away, and finding our way forward is not going to be easy. Calvinism is viewed through many prisms in the SBC. Some see it as absolutely vital to the health and prosperity, both theological and otherwise, of the SBC. Others view it as theologically flawed, a niggling nuisance spawning various levels of problems, including divisiveness, in the churches. Regardless of which camp you are in, or somewhere in the middle, Southern Baptists need to proceed with caution in the days ahead. When it comes to Calvinism in the SBC, a fair amount of misinformation, misinterpretation, misunderstanding, and misrepresentation characterizes the current climate. This makes it difficult for most to cut through the discrepant fog.

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Recovering the Gospel — Why Belief in an Unlimited Atonement Matters


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


Article 3 addresses the Atonement of Christ. It consists of one proposition in affirmation and three in denial.

I expect there will be no disagreement on the affirmation regarding the penal substitution of Christ. The penal substitutionary atonement, though often attacked and vilified in modern theology, is the bedrock doctrine for explaining the work of Christ on the cross for the sins of the world. Sin can only be atoned by the shed blood of Christ on the cross as our substitute. The word “penal” connotes legal imagery. Jesus’ death on the cross satisfied the justice and wrath of God against our sin. Apart from Christ, there is no salvation. Apart from his atonement, there is no salvation. Only the cross of Christ provides an available and effective sacrifice for the sins of every person.

The first proposition in the denial states: “We deny that this atonement results in salvation without a person’s free response of repentance and faith.” The operative word here is “free.” The Scripture teaches that the atonement is only applied to those who meet the condition of repentance and faith. When it comes to the question of free will, it needs to be understood that all Calvinists affirm some form of divine determinism along with free will. Most affirm “compatibilism,” by which is meant God changes the will of the individual by means of irresistible grace, such that having been regenerated, he genuinely and freely desires to trust Christ. It should be noted that according to compatibilism, the individual does not have the ability to choose any differently. Compatibilism is heavily dependent on Jonathan Edwards’s concept that we always act according to our greatest desire.

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