Author Archive

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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The Pulpit Strut – Great Preachers or Great Preaching?


Southwestern Seminary Launches New Theological Matters Blog

SBC Today is pleased to share in helping announce the recent launch of a new blog Theological Matters, sponsored by Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. We are posting an article from Theological Matters to give you a taste of this new blog. The contributing editors of SBC Today suggest that you add Theological Matters to your “Favorites” list and make it a part of your regular reading.


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.

This article is the fifth in a series by Dr. Allen on important issues in preaching posted in Theological Matters. The articles in this series discuss The Call to Preach, The Method of Preaching, Preach the Word, Learning from the History of Preaching, On Sermon Form, Preaching Style, and Making God and His Word Paramount in Preaching, and On Preaching Paragraph Units through Bible Books. Click the links to read these additional articles in the series.


We all know preachers who are too big for their britches. You know the type. In the extreme, this is the guy who can strut sitting down. He exudes arrogance, either in the pulpit, outside the pulpit, or both. Probably for must preachers, however, our pride is not that extreme, but it is pride nonetheless. It is difficult to remain humble when you are constantly told by church members at the end of most Sundays’ sermon something like: “Pastor, you are my favorite preacher of all time.” “Pastor, you are the next Billy Graham.” “I’ve never heard preaching like that before!” “Pastor, that was a great sermon.”

You’ve no doubt heard about the pastor who was driving home after Sunday morning church with his wife. He thought he had preached the stars down. In a haze of reverie, reflecting on the sermonic diamond with which he had just dazzled his congregation, he mused out loud: “I wonder how many truly great preachers there are in the world today?” His wife sardonically replied: “I don’t know, but there is one less than you think!”

The Scripture has much to say about pride. Pride caused Satan to be cast out of heaven. Pride caused Adam and Eve to sin and be cast out of the garden. It brought down prophets, priests, and kings in the Old Testament. It kept many a Pharisee and Sadducee out of heaven in Jesus’ day. It caused Pilate to wash his hands concerning Jesus of Nazareth. Pride goes before a fall, the Scripture says. Of the seven things God says he hates, first on the list is pride. There are few sins as destructive as pride. The Latin word for pride is “superbia” which means “aspiring to be on top.” More than one preacher has been brought low by pride. Only God is on top.

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