by David R. Brumbelow
David R. Brumbelow is pastor of Northside Baptist Church in Highlands, Texas. He holds a B.A. from East Texas Baptist University, and an M.Div. from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is the author of The Wit and Wisdom of Pastor Joe Brumbelow, which is about his father. David also wrote Ancient Wine and the Bible: The Case for Abstinence, Free Church Press. David blogs at gulfcoastpastor.blogspot.com, where this article first appeared Oct. 24.
We have a responsibility to be good citizens. We should do what we can to make this country a better place in which to live. As Christians, we are to “render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s (the state), and to God the things that are God’s” Mark 12.17.
Scripture tells us to be respectful to the governmental authorities: Rom. 13.1-7; Titus 3.1; 1 Peter 2.13-17.
In a democracy, informed voting can make a difference for the better.
Since 2003, Dr. L. Paige Patterson has presided over Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. Previously, Dr. Patterson was president of Southeastern Seminary in Wake Forest, N. Car. The post below – an extensive and detailed sermon outline – originates from a student’s hand who heard Dr. Patterson deliver the message on August 27, 1998, at SEBTS. Checked for accuracy against an audio file of the sermon, the outline below is presented with Dr. Patterson’s permission and with SBCToday’s gratitude not only for Dr. Patterson’s sermon, but also for his leadership in our beloved Southern Baptist Convention especially since 1979.
Eight Theses Concerning the Doctrine of Election, 1 Peter 1.1-2
by Paige Patterson
I. Two mistakes can be and often are made.
A. To treat the doctrine of election in the Bible as though it did not exist at all.
1. There are evangelistic, missionary-to-the-core churches that do not speak of or teach the doctrine of election.
2. The pastor is afraid to speak of election even though it is prominent in the Scriptures, and this fear deprives members of one of their greatest blessings.
B. To construct one’s theology and soteriology primarily around the doctrine of election.
1. This model cannot be found in the Word of God.
2. The soteriology and even the theology of the New Testament is constructed around the person and the work of the Lord Jesus Christ, His atoning sacrifice, and his Great Commission to take the Gospel to the end of the earth.
II. Any assessment of the soteriology of the Bible must reckon with the entire witness of the Scripture without facile handling of apparently divergent texts.
A. E.g., the ardent Calvinist says the “whosoever wills of the Bible” refer to the elect.
1. This is facile use of the Word of God.
2. It is a poor explanation of what the Bible says regarding the doctrine of election.
3. It does not consider the whole witness of Scripture.
III. Any construal of the doctrine of election which makes one more of an evangelist for a system of theology than an evangelist for Jesus and His free salvation to all men is seriously at odds with the Word of God.
A. More clearly: If one is more of an ardent advocate of Calvinism than you are of Jesus as an answer to men’s souls, then you are out of step with the clear teachings of the Word of God. This is determined by what one speaks of the most, Calvinism or Jesus.
IV. Any formulation of the doctrine of election which diminishes in any way either intentionally or unintentionally the passion for or aggressive practice of confrontational evangelism must be jettisoned as unworthy of both the spirit and the mandate of the New Testament.
A. More clearly – Whatever your doctrine of election is — if it intentionally or unintentionally slows you down in the task of confrontational evangelism, you have yet to discover what the Bible teaches about election.
V. Any formulation of the doctrine of election which eliminates some or most of all of the people on the face of the globe from any possibility of salvation at the outset and automatically condemns them to hell reduces the warning of Jesus about the unpardonable sin to little more than spiritual terrorism, or worse, deliberate deceit, since by definition every sin of the non-elect is unforgivable.
A. This thesis is the hardest to understand, but is the most devastating.
B. Jesus issued a poignant warning against an unpardonable sin.
VI. Election is somehow bound up in the foreknowledge of God.
A. Clearly in 1 Peter 1.2 “according to the foreknowledge of God….”
B. This raises the questions for Calvinists: “Which came first, the chicken or the egg? If God foreknows something to be the case, is it conceivable that it be any other way?” And the answer is “No.”
C. But be careful. Not once, but twice the Scriptures speak of election being bound up in the foreknowledge of God.
1. Romans 8.29-30 – For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.
2. It cannot be argued or denied that this passage of Scripture is not sequential in nature.
a. Glorification does come after justification.
b. Justification does come as a result of calling.
c. Calling does come as a result of the predestining act of God.
d. Predestination is based in the foreknowledge of God.
3. Even though we don’t understand it, we must not deny that it.
VII. Although it is all together a healthy exercise to wrestle with the doctrines of election and responsibility, sovereignty and human freedom, the failure of 2000 years of theological reflection to crack the mysteries of God’s electing providence should instill humility rather than hubris in the interpreter.
A. For 2000 years people have been discussing this and it may be the only reason for building cafeterias and coffee houses on seminary campuses. No one has come up with an explanation to satisfy anybody else.
1. My explanation doesn’t satisfy you.
2. Yours for dead sure doesn’t satisfy me.
B. Under such conditions, is it not better to say, “God, in Your greatness you have done, thought and acted in ways too transcendent for me to embrace”?
VIII. If we are unable to resolve the apparent paradox of biblical instruction, its heavenly wisdom proving too transcendent for fallen intellects, then perhaps we should advance to a new question. Maybe instead of asking how it all works, we ought to ask instead, “Why is the doctrine of election in the Bible?”
A. If God has placed something in the text that seems to be too far beyond us, and we can’t make it all make sense with human logic as we know it, then why would he do a thing like that on such an important topic?
B. If you change the question from how does it all work to why is it there and then read Romans 8, it will unfold like a magnificent panorama of unparalleled beauty before your very eyes. You will discover four things.
1. As long as doctrine of election is in the Bible, salvation is God’s act from beginning to end.
a. It is not what man does, but it is what God does.
b. Man never thought of it.
c. Man never planned it.
d. Man can’t produce it.
e. Man can’t sustain it.
f. It is God’s act from beginning to end.
g. Romans 8:29-30 says “For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son…whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.” You do not read anything about man in this text.
2. As long as election is in the Bible, the impossibility of apostasy is made crystal clear.
a. Romans 8:35-39 asks who will separate us from the love of God?
b. When you come to Jesus Christ and you are regenerated and born again, you can never forfeit that salvation. How would it be possible for God to lose somebody He had elected to salvation?
c. As long as the doctrine of election is there in the Bible, it guarantees that once you are saved, you are always saved.
3. As long as the doctrine of election is in the Bible, it guarantees God providential oversight of His children.
a. Romans 8:28: And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.
i. It doesn’t say that everything was good.
ii. (Mt 7:11) – If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!
iii. Your heavenly Father takes the worst things that the devil and life itself can deal to you by way of a hand, and He turns it into a winning hand and blesses you through the whole thing.
4. As long as the doctrine of election is in the Bible, we don’t have to worry about how the world is going to end.
a. It guarantees a designed climax of the age, even though we may differ on the specifics of culmination. All may be somewhat surprised – post-tribbers more than others.
b. Romans 8:21-23 says that the whole creation groans and travails awaiting something – what? – rejuvenation of God’s created order.
c. All is not out of control. Ultimately, we do not have to worry who has the missiles. We know that God is guiding world events inevitably toward the designed climax of the age, and election guarantees it.
C. So if you ask the question “Why is the doctrine of election in the Scriptures?” you will feel much better about the answers that you get. And you will have to leave unresolved, until we get to heaven, the question of how to reconcile the apparently divergent positions of Scripture.
Cont’d from last Sunday
SOUTHERN BAPTIST CONVENTION
MIAMI BEACH, FLORIDA, 1967
H. FRANKLIN PASCHALL, was pastor of First Baptist Church of Nashville, Tenn. A native of Kentucky, Paschall was pastor of the First Baptist Church of Bowling Green, Ky., from 1951-55, before coming to Nashville. Previously he was pastor of the Hazel Baptist Church in Hazel, Ky. He is a graduate of Union University, Jackson, Tenn., and Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Ky., where he earned the Doctor of Theology Degree. Paschall was born May 12, 1922, in Hazel, Ky.
President’s Address: Mandate to Minister, part II
By H. Franklin Paschall
The Practice of This Ministry in Today’s World
We must continue to give primary emphasis to man’s relationship to God. Our persistent plea should be, “Be ye reconciled to God.” If man is not in right relationship to God he cannot really be in right relationship to man. If one does not believe that God loves him he cannot really believe that man loves him. Faith in God gives sanctity and meaning to human relationships. It is imperative that we seek to win men one by one to faith in God and commitment to our Lord Jesus Christ.
Jason Allen and The Gospel Project
Doctoral dissertations are typically not the stuff of widespread attention (mine certainly was not and rightly so!). However, in light of Dr. Jason Allen’s nomination and appointment to the presidency of Midwestern Seminary, his dissertation (http://digital.library.sbts.edu/bitstream/handle/10392/3722/Allen_sbts_0207D_10055.pdf ), finished just last year, has evoked quite a bit more than the normal interest. Because Dr. Allen is a fairly unknown commodity, I read his dissertation and found it to be a very relevant piece of scholarship for the present hour in the life of our Convention.
The dissertation is entitled “The Christ-Centered Homiletics of Edmund Clowney and Sidney Greidanus in Contrast with the Human Author-Centered Hermeneutics of Walter Kaiser.” I must admit that the title itself caused my ears to prick up just a bit. It is no secret that I am quite concerned about the advance of Calvinism in the SBC. Allen’s strong associations with Southern Seminary and Steve Lawson, for which he expresses great appreciation in his preface (viii-x), have raised concerns that he will be promoting Calvinism at Midwestern. The title, at first glance, appears to reinforce such concerns because “Christ-centered homiletics” is all the rage among Reformed preachers (http://thegospelcoalition.org/preaching-christ/ ).
Under the auspices of making sure that Christ is proclaimed in every sermon, the net effect of such an approach is often to pry texts out of their contexts in order to insert the preacher’s own theological pre-commitments. This ensures not only that every text might “preach Christ,” but also that every text might preach Calvinism. This sort of eisegesis is Walter Kaiser’s concern, and that’s why he’s spent his entire career honing the tried-and-true methodologies of biblical hermeneutics, especially with the regard to the OT, that take seriously authorial intent as the key to a text’s meaning. This approach drives great evangelical exposition. Certainly, Kaiser’s hermeneutics take into account the necessity of speaking of how any text, whether OT or NT, points to the grand redemptive history sealed in the pre-existence, incarnation, life, death, resurrection, reign, and return of Christ. What is different about the “Christ-centered” homiletic of Clowney is that it actually allows for a wedge to be driven between the meaning intended by the original author and the meaning appropriated by the subsequent interpreter. This, as Kaiser rightly points out and Allen duly notes, is highly problematic (79). When the intent of the original author can be dislodged from the meaning of text, the door to all sorts of trouble is opened.
Interestingly enough, Kaiser’s (and Allen’s) concerns about “Christ-centered homiletics” are exactly my concerns about LifeWay’s The Gospel Project. Just watch Matt Chandler’s promotional video (http://vimeo.com/34692625) of the curriculum, and you’ll see a first class example of the weaknesses of “Christ-centered” hermeneutics. The David and Goliath story is not about living faithfully as one faces giants; it is about how Jesus is our champion. Now, there is nothing inappropriate about seeing in this story an analogy to the Christ-event. There would be nothing at all wrong with emphasizing that analogy as a particular approach to interpretation or preaching. What is wrong is saying that, since the “Christ-centered meaning” of the text has been discovered, the narrative has nothing to say about faithful living, since the Bible, in Chandler’s opinion is not a “roadmap to life.” He seems to indicate that teaching people that the Bible is a roadmap from this passage actually harms them. In doing this, Chandler abandons the sound hermeneutics of, for instance, Fee and Stuart, who teach that every OT narrative has three interpretational levels: a “bottom level” which deals with the meaning of individual narratives, the “middle level,” which deals with the story of what God is doing in Israel, and the “top level,” which is God’s great plan of redemption, ultimately revealed in the story of Christ. Clearly, the bottom level of the David and Goliath story is demonstrating how David is the true Israelite, a “man after God’s own heart,” living fruitfully in the fullness of covenant fellowship. So, there is much instruction to believers about “facing the giants.” At this level, the story is not guaranteeing personal success; but it is a story about living sacrificially for the fame of God’s name in every circumstance. To eliminate this from the exegetical import of this passage is simply erroneous. And it ignores the fact that the NT regularly points us to the examples of OT characters as encouragement to faithfulness in times in trouble (He 11, James 5:13-18).
I say the Bible is a “road-map to life,” a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. Now, it is certainly more than that. The good news of God’s grace to sinners is the referent of every page of Scripture and should be proclaimed in every sermon. But, the goal of preaching is to expose the text as it stands, not make it say what we want it to say through allegorical manipulation.
I certainly appreciate the reminder from the Reformed guys that biblical preaching must be more than moral pep-talks and chicken-soup-for-the-soul because the Bible is much, much more than that. But anytime we decide it is okay to ignore the authorial intent of a passage, we are in dangerous territory. A case in point comes from the Calvinism Conference in Kentucky this past August. Dr. Hershael York (Allen’s dissertation committee chair) is giving a defense of Limited Atonement, and he places into evidence the Day of Atonement from the OT. He makes the inference that, since the High Priest did not make atonement for every nation on the earth but God’s chosen people, Jesus the High Priest did not make atonement for everyone in the world, just the elect. This is “Christ-centered” hermeneutics. Unfortunately, it is also bad exegesis. Following Kaiser, the question of the meaning of Day of Atonement is rooted in what Moses intended to teach the people of Israel. Was the point of the Day of Atonement passage to show Israel how God was excluding the nations from His redeeming purposes? Hardly. Israel’s vocation was to be a light to the Gentiles and kingdom of priests. Could a foreigner benefit from the Day of Atonement? Certainly (Lev 16:29). Also, the NT is clear in the book of Hebrews that the limited nature of the sacrificial system has been superseded by the vastly superior work of Christ, who provides atonement beyond anything offered in the OT sacrificial system. And, of course, 1 John 2:2 essentially settles the matter. But Dr. York has already decided that Limited Atonement is the truest understanding of the Gospel and reads it back into the texts concerning the Day of Atonement, rather than exegeting it from the text.
If The Gospel Project is intending to teach people to see how all of the Bible is related to the overarching story of God’s plan of redemption, that’s worthy goal, although I’m not sure why such a concept needs its own Sunday School curriculum. If it sets that hermeneutical layer above, outside of, or in opposition to the intended meaning of the author, then it is flat wrong, and more so if Reformed theology is loaded back into the texts because “Calvinism is the Gospel.” The disproportionate number of Reformed thinkers on the advisory board for the project and the curriculum’s frequent references to Reformed authors concern me that this could be the case.
All of which brings me back to Dr. Allen’s dissertation. Allen is actually arguing that Kaiser’s author-centered hermeneutics are superior to Clowney and Greidanus’s Christ-centered homiletics (11-12; 132). Allen’s style is, admittedly, oblique, but his point is clear enough: while Christ should always be exalted when preaching, authorial intent alone is the exegetical launch pad for any sermon (“Be Expositional First and Christological Second,” 145). Allusions to Christ may certainly be made when Christology isn’t explicit, but allusions are what they are and no more (144). Care must be given not to read any meaning into a text that is not rooted in the author’s intent. I hope the writers of The Gospel Project are listening to the new president of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary because he is calling into question the conventional wisdom of “Christ-centered” hermeneutics.
 Gordon D. Fee and Douglas Stuart, How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth, 2d ed. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1993), 79-80
 Hershael York, “Calvinism: Dialogue from Differing Theological Positions,” recording from Calvinism: Concerned? Curious? Confused?, August 4, 2012, available at http//:kybaptist.org/calvinism; accessed October 12, 2012. York’s comments begin right the 30:00 mark.