Author Archive

On the Insufficiency of the Notion of Sufficiency Among Some Calvinists, part 2 of 3

DavidAllen2

by David L. Allen
Dean, School of Theology
Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary

(Ed’s. note: A careful researcher and Southern Baptist statesman, Dr. Allen does not ascribe a singular view of Christ’s atonement to all Calvinists, universally; however, his sensitive use of qualifying terms provide both clarity and distinction regarding the topic at-hand.)

IV. John Owen’s Problematic Revision of the Lombardian Formula

When John Owen formulated his argument for limited atonement, he did so using the problematic categories of a commercialistic sense of the atonement where the sins of the elect only were imputed to Christ. This approach led Owen to modify the traditional sufficiency-efficiency model originally promulgated by Peter Lombard and accepted by all the Schoolmen and the early Reformers: “sufficient for all; efficient for the elect.” This modification prompted Richard Baxter, who himself held to an unlimited atonement, to call Owen’s sleight-of-hand “a new futile evasion.”[5] For Owen, as for all who affirm limited atonement, the atonement can only be sufficient for those for whom it is efficient. Forget the fact, according to all Calvinists, that the non-elect will not be saved given God’s discriminating purpose of election; this particular problem involves the fact that there is no atonement made for them in the first place! Double jeopardy indeed!

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On the Insufficiency of the Notion of Sufficiency Among Some Calvinists, part 1 of 3

DavidAllen2

by David L. Allen
Dean, School of Theology
Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary

(Ed’s. note: A careful researcher and Southern Baptist statesman, Dr. Allen does not ascribe a singular view of Christ’s atonement to all Calvinists, universally; however, his sensitive use of qualifying terms provide both clarity and distinction regarding the topic at-hand.)

I. The Problem Stated, or Ambiguity & Equivocation in High Calvinism

Some Calvinists who affirm what is traditionally called Limited Atonement, or what they may prefer to call “Particular Redemption,” or “Definite Atonement,” maintain that Christ’s atonement is sufficient[1] for all people, even though it only satisfied for the sins of the elect. Recent blog and Facebook posts and comments on the subject by High Calvinists (five-point Calvinists) have addressed this issue. While some of these posts and comments are accurate and helpful, I find some contain statements that are either inaccurate or lack proper qualification.

The sufficiency argument of those who hold to limited atonement[2] goes like this: Christ died only for the sins of the elect. Nevertheless, the death of Christ is sufficient for all people. Therefore we should preach the gospel to all people since it is sufficient and since we don’t know who the elect are.

Here is the problem: How can Christ’s substitutionary death be said to be sufficient for the sins of the entire world, when, according to limited atonement, no atonement for sins exists for the non-elect? What strict Calvinists are actually saying is that the atonement would or could be sufficient for all “had God intended it to be sufficient for them.” But God, according to them, did not intend the atonement to be made on behalf of the non-elect, thus, there is no satisfaction made for their sins. Thus, the sufficiency of the atonement can only be understood to be a statement about its infinite intrinsic value, such that it could hypothetically be satisfactory for all, but it is not “extrinsically” or “actually” satisfactory for all.

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Dr. David L. Allen, 2013 John 3:16 Presentation, Part 3/3

Below is a portion of a March 21-22, 2013 John 3:16 Conference presentation.

Read the Baptist Press article about the conference here: http://www.bpnews.net/BPnews.asp?ID=39992

A free e-book containing the 2013 John 3:16 Conference presentations is scheduled to be released at SBC Today on May 30, 2013.

Passages in the Bible which Indicate Faith Logically Precedes Regeneration[1]

L. S. Chafer noted there are about 115 passages that condition salvation on believing alone, and about 35 that condition it simply on faith.[2] Consider the following out of many that could be presented:[3]

“Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” So they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved . . . .” (Acts 16:30-31)

If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. With the heart one believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth one confesses, resulting in salvation. (Romans 10:9-10)

For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. (Rom 10:13)

So then faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the message about Christ. (Romans 10:17)

In Him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation — in Him when you believed —- were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit. (Ephesians 1:13).[4]

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Dr. David L. Allen, 2013 John 3:16 Presentation, Part 2/3

Below is a portion of a March 21-22, 2013 John 3:16 Conference presentation.

Read the Baptist Press article about the conference here: http://www.bpnews.net/BPnews.asp?ID=39992

A free e-book containing the 2013 John 3:16 Conference presentations is scheduled to be released at SBC Today on May 30, 2013.


Key Scripture Passages on the Relationship Between Regeneration and Faith

            Exegesis must always precede systematic theology . . . logically and temporally! Can the notion of regeneration prior to faith be demonstrated exegetically?

John 1:12-13

In John 1:12-13, the use of the aorist tense verb translated “were born” indicates a past event, and often the inference is drawn that the act of the new birth precedes the act of believing. However, nothing in the grammar or syntax mandates such an interpretation. The verb is passive in voice, indicating that the act of being “born of God” was initiated by God and the one being “born” is the recipient of God’s act. However, one should not conclude that this excludes any participation by man. Nothing in the Greek of the text permits us to draw that inference. Finally, nothing is said that would indicate that being born of God was an act of man’s self-determination or man’s independent free will. None of us believes that “man’s self-determination” has anything to do with our salvation. None of us believes in any free will that is “independent” of God’s sovereignty. Free will does not vitiate God’s sovereignty nor does it eliminate the absolute necessity of God’s grace acting first on man before man can respond to God in faith. Why were the people in John 1:11 not given the right to be adopted? Was it because they weren’t regenerated? No, it was because they had not received Christ. Verse 12 gives the conditions for adoption: receiving Christ and believing on his name.[1]

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Dr. David L. Allen, 2013 John 3:16 Presentation, Part 1/3

Below is a portion of a March 21-22, 2013 John 3:16 Conference presentation.

Read the Baptist Press article about the conference here: http://www.bpnews.net/BPnews.asp?ID=39992

A free e-book containing the 2013 John 3:16 Conference presentations is scheduled to be released at SBC Today on May 30, 2013.


Does Regeneration Precede Faith?

David L. Allen, Ph.D.

 

Introduction

            Most Calvinists believe that regeneration precedes faith. Consider the following statements:

“A man is not saved because he believes in Christ; he believes in Christ because he is saved.”[1]

“A man is not regenerated because he has first believed in Christ, but he believes in Christ because he has been regenerated.”[2]

“We do not believe in order to be born again; we are born again that we may believe.”[3]

“Faith is the evidence of the new birth, not the cause of it.”[4]

“. . . regeneration is the necessary precondition and efficient cause of faith in Jesus Christ.”[5]

“the revived [regenerated] heart repents and trusts Christ in saving faith as the only source of justification.”[6]

Some Calvinists believe that regeneration can occur in infancy and remain inactive until faith years later.[7] Other Calvinists reject the notion that regeneration precedes faith.[8]

Why do most Calvinists believe regeneration precedes faith? There are two reasons. First, most Calvinists define total depravity to mean total inability in the sense that a person cannot exercise faith unless regenerated. Second, appeal is made to key Scripture passages such as John 1:12-13; 3:1-16; Eph. 2:1-10; and 1 John 5:1. We shall consider these reasons in a moment.

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