Beyond Calvinism and Arminianism: Toward a Baptist Soteriology
Part 4: The Anthropological Presuppositions

April 24, 2012



Eric Hankins is the Pastor of First Baptist, Oxford, Mississippi


Editor’s Note: Today’s post is the fourth of a four-part series by Eric Hankins entitled “Beyond Calvinism and Arminianism: Toward a Baptist Soteriology.” This series attempts to frame Baptist soteriology in a different structure than the traditional “TULIP” comparisons with the doctrines of Calvinism or Arminianism.

  • In Part 1, Hankins contrasts “individual election” (a key Biblical Presupposition in Calvinism and Arminianism) with “corporate election” in a Baptist soteriology.
  • In Part 2, he contrasts the Philosophical Presuppositions of “The ‘Problem’ of Determinism and Free-Will” in Calvinism with “The Freedom of God and the Free-Will of People” in a Baptist soteriology.
  • In Part 3, he contrasts the Theological Presuppositions of “Federal Theology” in Calvinist soteriology with “Covenant in Christ” in a Baptist soteriology.

Total Depravity

The Scriptures clearly affirm that all people are sinners. Because of sin, humans are in a disastrous state, unable to alter the trajectory of their rebellion against God, unable to clear their debt of sin against Him, unable to work their way back to Him through their best efforts. This situation is one of their own creating and for which they are ultimately responsible.[1]

About these realities, there is little debate in evangelical theology. What is at issue is what being a sinner means when it comes to responding to God’s offer of covenant relationship through the power of the gospel.

Both Calvinism and Arminianism affirm that the Fall resulted in “total depravity,” the complete incapacitation of humanity’s free response to God’s gracious offer of covenant relationship.[2] In Calvinism, the only remedies for this state-of-affairs are the “doctrines of grace” in which the free response of individuals is not decisive. For Arminianism, total depravity, which is purely speculative, is corrected by prevenient grace, which is even more speculative, and makes total depravity ultimately meaningless because God never allows it to have any effect on any person.

Nothing in Scripture indicates that humans have been rendered “totally depraved” through Adam’s sin. Genesis 3 gives an extensive account of the consequences of Adam’s sin, but nowhere is there the idea that Adam or his progeny lost the ability to respond to God in faith, a condition which then required some sort of restoration by regeneration or prevenient grace. In fact, just the opposite appears to be the case. The story of God’s relationship with humankind is fraught with frustration, sadness, and wrath on God’s part, not because humans are incapable of a faith response, but because they are capable of it, yet reject God’s offer of covenant relationship anyway. To be sure, they are not capable of responding in faith without God’s special revelation of Himself through Christ and His Spirit’s drawing. Any morally responsible person, however, who encounters the gospel in the power of the Spirit (even though he has a will so damaged by sin that he is incapable of having a relationship with God without the gospel) is able to respond to that “well-meant offer.”

Therefore, the time has come once again for Baptists to reject another dichotomy mediated by the Calvinist/Arminian debate: monergism and synergism. Monergism insists that salvation is all of God. Monergists conclude that faith emerging from a decision within the will of the believer is a “work” that makes salvation meritorious, but this idea demands a theologically objectionable determinism. As a technical theological concept, synergism[3] still operates off of a framework that views sovereignty and free-will as problematic, often forcing too fine a distinction between “what God does” and “what man does.” Synergism tends to put “faith” in the category of performance, rather than an attitude of surrender. This has led some Arminian theology into over-speculation concerning the nature of the act of faith, psychologizing and sensationalizing the “moment of decision,” so that one’s experience becomes the basis of his assurance. Synergism also tends to demand further acts in order to receive further blessing and opens the door to the possibility that, if a person fails to act faithfully subsequent to the experience of salvation, God will cease to save.

Baptists must get off of this grid.[4] We have preferred terms like “trust,” “surrender,” and “relationship” to “monergism” or “synergism” when we reflect on God’s offer and our response. These terms secure the affirmation both that individuals can do nothing to save themselves, yet their salvation cannot occur against their wills or without a response of faith that belongs to them alone.

The Sinfulness and Salvability of Everyone

The anthropological presupposition is that no one can save himself, but anyone can be saved. No person ever takes the first step toward God. Humankind’s history is broken; its destiny is death; it’s context darkness; its reality is rebellion. This sinfulness has put us out of fellowship with God and under the verdict of eternal separation. Through the person and work of Christ, which is proclaimed through the gospel, God reaches out His hand of “first love,” providing a ground of salvation to which any one can respond in faith. If people do not hear and respond to this gospel, they will not be saved. So, we preach the gospel broadly, regularly, and passionately. We offer an invitation every time we preach because we believe every unbeliever, no matter how sinful and broken, can respond, and no matter how moral and self-righteous, must respond.

Baptist anthropology affirms that, because of personal sinfulness, no one is capable of coming to faith in Christ without the proclamation of the gospel in the power of the Spirit. While there are certainly unique instances of individuals receiving the gospel through dreams and non-human proclamation, this is not God’s normal manner of working and those instances of salvation still require both a proclamation of Jesus as Lord and a response of faith. Baptists believe that the proclamation of the gospel is necessary for a faith response to Christ. Those who do not hear will not be saved. Everyone who does hear has the opportunity to respond to Christ in faith or persist in unbelief. This is the only proper biblical motivation for the urgent proclamation of the gospel. Baptists have excelled in evangelism and missions because we believe it really matters.

Conclusion

So, what would a biblically-sound, Christ-centered, grace-filled soteriology look like without appeals to individual election, determinism, Federal Theology, or total depravity? What would it look like if it were free from the presuppositions of Calvinism and Arminianism? It would look exactly like what most Baptists have believed instinctively all along. Baptists have consistently resisted the impulse to embrace completely either Calvinism or Arminianism. We simply posit that we are “neither.”[5] The basis for this resistance to the two systems is our aversion to theological speculation beyond the clear sense of Scripture and our willingness to go our own way when Scripture and conscience demand. The way forward is basically backward, a massive simplification, a walking out of the convoluted labyrinth that evangelical soteriology has become in the debate between Calvinism and Arminianism. It is a move not dissimilar to the basic impulse of Luther at the birth of the Reformation, which was to reject the Medieval scholasticism that had turned the gloriously simple gospel of grace into its absolute antithesis. For Luther, the solution was to start over with the Scriptures (and Augustine), no matter what the implications. Baptists need to apply the Reformation principles of sola scriptura and semper reformanda to Luther himself. Augustine’s soteriology and the bulwark constructed subsequently to defend it must be removed.

Baptists believe in the clarity and simplicity of the Bible. We search in vain for decrees, a Covenants of Works, the distinction between a “general call” and an “effectual call,” hidden wills, and prevenient grace. We react with consternation to the ideas that God regenerates before He converts, that He hates sinners, that reprobation without respect to a response of faith brings Him the greatest glory, or that the truly converted can lose their salvation. Baptists have felt free to agree with certain emphases within Calvinism and Arminianism, while rejecting those that offend our commitments to the possibility of salvation for all and to the eternal security of that salvation based exclusively on faith in the covenant promises of God. The free offer of an eternal, life-changing covenant with the Father through the Son by the Spirit to all sinners by the free exercise of personal faith alone has been the simple, non-speculative but inviolable core of Baptist soteriological belief and practice. Baptist soteriology (specifically including the doctrines of the sovereign, elective purposes of God, the sinfulness of all humans, the substitutionary atonement of Christ, salvation by grace alone through faith alone, and the security of the believer) is not in jeopardy and does not need to be reinforced by Calvinism or Arminianism. It can be successfully taught, maintained, and defended without resorting to either system.

Baptists’ historic passion for evangelism and missions is underdetermined by Calvinism and Arminianism. For Calvinism, if the decision about who is saved and who is not has already been made by God, then the actual sharing of the gospel with the lost does not matter. The vast majority of Calvinists strenuously object to this charge, employing a variety of tactics to obviate what is, unfortunately, the only logical conclusion of their system. Saying that God elects the “means” of salvation as well as the individuals who are saved demands a determinism that is theologically unacceptable and philosophically unsustainable. Insisting that evangelism is still necessary because it “glorifies God” and demonstrates obedience to the Scriptures is simply a variation of that same determinism. The historical struggles of Calvinism with doctrinal and attitudinal opposition to missions and the “promiscuous preaching of the gospel” is evidence of the weakness of their system. Insisting on a “well-meant offer” while at the same time insisting that not all are able to respond is not the affirmation of a “mystery;” it is stubborn fidelity to a logical contradiction. For Arminianism, if election is based on foreseen faith, then it must be assumed that every person will receive enough of the gospel to trust or reject Christ. We know that billions still have not heard the gospel. This privileges the effort of the faith-capacity of people over the power of the gospel alone to save. If all people have the ability to figure out some form of faith in Christ, why worry overmuch about evangelism? It is this sort of weakness that lends itself to the frequent liberal trend in Arminianism.

Without committing to either Calvinism or Arminianism, Baptists have evangelized millions, planted thousands of churches, and reached literally around the globe with the life-changing, world-changing message of salvation by grace through faith. When either system has come to the forefront in debate or dispute, the outcome has rarely been positive for kingdom work through us. Baptists have been well-served by a simpler, less-speculative, less metaphysical approach to soteriology. As we move into a new millennium, a more constructive, positive statement of our soteriology based on this heritage of simplicity and faith-focus will sharpen us as to what is essential to the message and motivation of the gospel for all who stand in desperate need of it.


[1] Paul’s point in Rom. 1-3, the locus classicus of human sinfulness, is not that people cannot respond to God, but that they will not, even though the results lead to their utter ruin.

[2] Ephesians 2:1 and 5 are frequently cited in support of this view, with a focus on the phrase “dead in your trespasses.” “Dead” here is taken to mean “spiritually” dead, utterly unresponsive to spiritual things. This reading, however, does not work exegetically. Paul’s point in 2.1-7 is that Jews and Gentiles alike were in the same sorry situation and in need of the resurrected and ascended Christ. If Paul means that everyone was “spiritually” dead, then he must also mean that everyone was made “spiritually” alive “with Him.” Does this mean that Jesus was, at some point, incapable of a response to God? Is Paul’s point that Jesus is now “spiritually” alive, responsive to God? Are we now “spiritually” raised and seated with Him in heavenly places? What could this possibly mean? Clearly, Paul is speaking eschatologically here: “Before we trusted Christ our destiny was the condemnation of death. Our behavior confirmed that we were deserving of that sentence. But now our destiny is bound up with His destiny so that ‘in ages to come’ the inclusion of sinners like us will put God’s unbelievable grace on display. How did we come to belong to Christ? By faith.” Paul’s point is not that we are incapable of faith without “regeneration.” His point is that Christ has made a way for those deserving of death to have eternal life, no matter what their ethnicity or level of religious effort.

Moreover, if Paul thought that Adam’s sin resulted in spiritual death/total depravity for everyone else, how could he write in Rom. 7:9: “I was once alive apart from the Law”?

[3] “Synergism,” to be sure, would be the category to which the soteriological viewpoint of this paper belongs, if we persist in using these categories, because monergism, in the true sense of the term, in untenable. Unfortunately, this word has theological associations that Baptists reject. Synergism is often considered to be the functional equivalent of semi-Pelagianism, which throws the whole discussion back into abstruse arguments about “operative” and “cooperative” grace, “general” and “effectual” calling, facere quod in se est, etc. forcing us to approach soteriology from Augustinian and medieval Roman Catholic categories rather than biblical ones. Monergism and synergism have simply outlived their usefulness.

[4] See Keathley, Salvation and Sovereignty, 101–8. After thoroughly dismantling the determinism of Calvinism, Keathley, a Baptist theologian, still wants to retain the term “monergism,” qualifying it with his assertion that people can still refuse God’s grace. But if one’s refusal matters, then salvation is not monergistic. Any Calvinist worth his salt would agree. Persisting in the use of the term “monergism” and in defending the logically contradictory concept that “what man does matters and what man does doesn’t matter” is unhelpful.

[5] Malcolm Yarnell, Neither Calvinists Nor Arminians but Baptists, White Paper 36 (Ft. Worth, TX: Center for Theological Research, 2010), 7.


These posts are adapted from Eric Hankins’s article “Beyond Calvinism and Arminianims: Toward a Baptist Soteriology,” published in the online Journal for Bapist Theology and Ministry, Spring 2011, Vol. 8, No. 1. It is amended and reposted here with the permission of the author.

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Michael K

WOW! That’s about all I can say. “Nothing in Scripture indicates that humans have been rendered “totally depraved” through Adam’s sin.”……hmmmmm, wonder what DEAD in trespasses and sins means.

    Les

    “Like” your Wow!

    I think it must be kind of like “It depends on what the meaning of “is” is.

      Eric Hankins

      Les,

      No, it all depands on what the meaning of “dead” is. It has to mean what Paul meant, not what Augustine meant. As I have demonstrated in my paper (footnote 2 in the article above), “dead in your traspasses” cannot mean “spiritually incapacitated,” because it does not work exegetically, unless you take those verses out of context, which, unfortunately, is what Augustine tended to do.

        Eric Hankins

        “Depends,” that is.

        Debbie Kaufman

        Why did Paul specifically used the word dead? The Bible does not use words without a reason. Why the specific choice of the word dead?I believe because it means exactly as it reads. Dead means dead as in not alive. It has to be both spiritual and physical. The Bible also specifically says they cannot.

        Where the scripture speaks of the will it says the word will, but in this passage the Bible says they cannot choose God.

          volfan007

          Debbie,

          Yep, we’re dead to God. We’re not alive in God, before we get saved. We’re dead to the things of God. Separated from God.

          That does not mean that man does not feel, think, breath, reason, and is completely unable to respond to God. Being dead in our sins does not mean that man cannot respond to the calling and convicting of the Lord.

          Where does it say that in the Bible?

          David

          Lydia

          “Dead means dead as in not alive. It has to be both spiritual and physical.”

          We were “physically” dead? Can you elaborate?

      Randy Everist

      What people don’t know about that “is” episode is that Clinton was trained as a philosopher prior to law school, adn he was asking for the difference between the “is” of identity (as in, “I am a person”) and the “is” of predication (as in, “I am six feet tall”). Not saying he wasn’t guilty of perjury; just saying that it’s less funny now than it was then!

    Tim Rogers

    Michael,

    Did you read footnote #2? I think Brother Eric expresses that thought clearly in the footnote. Wouldn’t you agree?

volfan007

Once again, good, good stuff. Brother, it is true….Baptists are neither Calvinists or Arminians….we are Baptists….we are Biblicists. I always tell people that I’m a Christian by the grace of God, and a Baptist by conviction….that Baptists stick closest to the Bible.

Thanks, Brother.

David

    Joshua

    David,

    Baptists are Calvinists, Arminians, anon-Calvinists, non-Arminians, non-Whatever Else.

    Why do you constantly disparage Baptist Calvinists and Baptists Arminians?

      volfan007

      Joshua,

      I like the idea that we need to move away from “ism’s” to being just plain, ole Baptists. But, if someone wants to be a Calvinists, that’s fine with me. If someone wants to be Arminian, that’s fine with me, too. I still count them as my brothers and sisters in the Lord.

      I dont like the mentality and attitude of the New Calvinists, who make their views a matter of fellowship, though.

      David

        Joshua

        David,

        Amen! Baptists are made up of Calvinists, Arminians, and non-Calvinists.

        What do you mean when you say the NC “make it a matter of fellowship?”

          volfan007

          Well, it seems that the New Calvinists wouldnt send anyone as a SB missionary, unless they were at least a 3 point Calvinist. They wouldnt appoint people to the SBC boards and committees, unless they were at least a 3 point Calvinists. They dont want anyone, who is not a Calvinist, to be the DOM of their local Association. They call people, who are not Calvinists, “semi Pelagians,” “preaches of a false Gospel,” “preaching a works salvation,” and other such things. They make it a mater of fellowship…their Calvinism, that is.

          In other words, to these people, if you’re not a Calvinist, then you’re not really to be a part of thier world. Calvinism is the defining thing in their minds.

          David

          Chris Roberts

          David,

          And yet which group in the SBC is presently engaged in aggressive moves because of what some in the SBC believe or who some in the SBC choose to associate with? All of the fuss in the Calvinist/non-Calvinist issue is being raised by non-Calvinists who don’t like individuals believing and teaching Calvinism and don’t like churches self-identifying as Calvinist or associating with Calvinist organizations.

          I’m not aware of anyone trying to force Calvinism on the SBC. But I see lots of energy running the other direction. Who is being divisive?

          Joshua

          David,

          Are there some links you could give me that support all the things you’ve just said?

          Like Chris, I am not aware of these folks you speak of.

          D.R. Randle

          David,

          The last time you brought this “not fellowship with anyone that isn’t at least a 3 point Calvinist” thing you said it was based on a comment on SBC Voices by Tim Brister who you claimed said he could only cooperate with folks who were 3 point Calvinists. When I asked for the link, you said “If you want to see the blog comments between Timmy and myself, you’ll have to look at SBC Voices.”

          Well, I did. And you unfortunately do not remember the conversation correctly. Brister responds twice to your questions. You ask:

          “Could Founder types truly walk hand in hand with those of us, who are not at least a 3 pt. Calvinist?”

          After expressing his sympathy for having to deal with uncooperative Calvinists, he answers:

          There’s a lot that could be said here, but let me go on record and say that yes, I would be happy to cooperate with those who would be “Calvinistic” (in your terms 3 points). Of course, there should be room for robust & substantive debate within like-minded, cooperating brothers, but we are together on the essentials of the gospel (see my other comment below).

          The comment he mentions below is this:

          I will just say for now that my desire is that any Southern Baptist who clearly preaches and teaches the gospel of Jesus Christ, and that it is by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone for the glory of God alone, let’s roll together. If you call sinners to repent and believe in Christ crucified & risen & coming again, let’s roll. And if you can embrace a Trinitarian orthodoxy whereby salvation is purposed by the Father, purchased by the Son, and applied by the Holy Spirit, let’s roll. These are first order gospel matters I believe cooperating non-Calvinists and Calvinists can agree. And I can’t speak for Founders or other Calvinists, I imagine most if not all would share the same convictions (like Wesley & Whitefield or Spurgeon & Moody).

          Those are the only comments Brister makes on that thread. So it appears that he at first misunderstood your question and thought you asked if he could cooperate with those who were merely Calvinistic 3 pointers. Later he clarifies by clearly indicating that he could cooperate with anyone who preaches the Gospel and even uses Whitfield and Wesley and Moody and Spurgeon as examples.

          So no where does Tim (or any other Calvinist for that matter) say they “wouldnt send anyone as a SB missionary, unless they were at least a 3 point Calvinist. They wouldnt appoint people to the SBC boards and committees, unless they were at least a 3 point Calvinists.”

          As for the DOM stuff, that was your experience in ONE association, not in every one. You can’t claim that all New Calvinists would do something you saw take place on one occasion. Additionally, it is true some Calvinists have used that terminology. But the same kind of language is used about Calvinists by non-Calvinists. I just heard about a pastor in my area who after preaching his convictions about election from the pulpit (in a rather humble and non-threatening way – and I know this guy and there is not an arrogant bone in his body), he was approached by an older pastor who called him a “heretic”, told him if he was a Calvinist “there would be problems”, and may be currently trying to get him fired.

          Now, if I on the basis of that experience (and I have several I could mention just like that) were to come over here and claim that the non-Calvinists in the SBC don’t want anyone as an SB missionary who is a Calvinist and want to kick them out of SB Churches and on and on, you would have a hissy fit about it. And the reality is that you should have a hissy fit. It would be a ridiculous, overly-generalized comment that is based on limited experiences and not on reality.

          So David, let’s just agree that there are plenty of mean folks on both sides and that continuing to try to paint each camp in this way is not only unhelpful, but it will lead to the kinds of further division that we as Southern Baptists cannot afford to experience.

          volfan007

          DR,

          I know that it said at least a 3 pt. Calvinist. So, if it doesnt now, then I dont know why it doesnt, or maybe you didnt look at all the comments. I dont know.

          Anyway, I know what I’ve seen and heard out of the New Calvinist crowd. They are aggressive, obsessed, and make Calvinism a matter of fellowship. I’ve seen it. Others have seen it. And, I’m not gonna get into the prove it game. I do not have the time to look up all the things to prove it, nor to rehash everything that’s been talked about over the past years on this issue.

          Maybe we should start with the T4G Conference and Sovereign Grace Ministries and their connection with Southern Seminary? Maybe we should start with the Gospel Project having all Reformed advisors…2 of which arent even Southern Baptists? Maybe we should start with NAMB’s connection with Acts 29? Maybe we should look at Founders vision of taking over the SBC one church at a time?

          Hummmmm???? maybe that should tell us all something?

          David

          volfan007

          But, DR, let’s just take the words that you quote here…”I would be happy to cooperate with those who would be “Calvinistic.” So, I’d have to be, at least, Calvinistic.

          What if I’m not Calvinistic? whatever that means in your scenario. What if I’m not a Calvinist, at all? What if I’m not an Arminian, at all? So, even if we just take the words that you found at Voices by Brister, it still carries the idea of being a Calvinist? Does it not?

          DAvid

          D.R. Randle

          David,

          So you are shown to be wrong and instead of saying, “Well I got it wrong” you insinuate that maybe it was changed? Really?

          Here’s the link:

          http://sbcvoices.com/the-calvinists-have-been-here-by-william-birch/

          Perhaps you remember it wrong instead of it being changed. Go visit the link and consider what you are claiming. Is it more likely you read what you wanted to or that some editor (namely, Dave Miller) went back and changed Tim’s comment?

          As for all the other claims you make about Calvinists not wanting to cooperate you have failed to substantiate it on a larger scale. You use one or two examples – that proves nothing. And you know this so you refuse to back up your statements.

          And what does T4G (an ecumenical event) have to do with your premise that:

          the New Calvinists wouldnt send anyone as a SB missionary, unless they were at least a 3 point Calvinist. They wouldnt appoint people to the SBC boards and committees, unless they were at least a 3 point Calvinists. They dont want anyone, who is not a Calvinist, to be the DOM of their local Association. They call people, who are not Calvinists, “semi Pelagians,” “preaches of a false Gospel,” “preaching a works salvation,” and other such things. They make it a mater of fellowship…their Calvinism, that is.?

          What does having Reformed advisers (who didn’t write any material) for the Gospel Project have to do with the above statement? Did they say they refused to allow anyone but Calvinists work on it? NO. They used the best men out there on Biblical Theology – which we should all appreciate. As I pointed out in the comment where you falsely accused Tim Brister, it appears you will only accept your explanation for matters and will only assume the worst about your brothers and sisters in Christ. You clearly have a bias and no amount of evidence – even when it is shown to you in print will dissuade you.

          volfan007

          DR,

          Maybe you looked over the “have to be Calvinistic” statement?

          DR, I have said this before, and I’ll say it again and again and again….I can get along with Calvinists. I have and I do get along with Calvinists. I have no problem with SB’s, who are Calvinistic in their theology. I can worship the Lord with them….serve God alongside them… appoint them as missionaries, etc.

          The problem is the New Calvinists that I’ve run across for the past 20 something years…and who seem to be gaining ground, here lately. I cant begin to tell you the stories….story after story after story….of the bad experiences of churches and my friends, who have dealt with the New Calvinist crowd.

          But, you dont wanna believe it. I get it. You’re a Calvinist, and you dont like seeing or hearing about the bad things that are going on in SBC land, right now, because of the New Calvinists.

          Also, DR, I do know that there are some people, out there, in SBC land, who are very anti-Calvinists. I’m not one of them.

          David

          D.R. Randle

          David,

          First, what “have to be Calvinistic” statement did I overlook? Quote please?

          Secondly, you keep saying the “New Calvinists” are a problem, but when given the chance to defend what you wrote above you can’t adequately do so, but then claim you have all these stories you can’t begin to recount. Everything you’ve recounted on blogs for months has revolved around the same 2-3 stories – the associational thing, the Tim Brister thing, and the Founders thing.

          If you have all this evidence that the “New Calvinists” (by the way, can you name some of these guys instead of just labeling “them” out there somewhere), then present it. Show me something more than the same tired 3 stories of unwillingness to cooperate. It just seems that if there is so much to worry about you wouldn’t continue to present the same problematic issues over and over again.

          Sorry man, but it’s hard to believe you when you make claims that someone said something that clearly they did not, then make the counter-claim that the comment must have been changed.

          In the end you are presenting a boogieman – a phantom menace that is out there somewhere – while being unwilling to name it, unwilling to demonstrate it, and unwilling to defend your accusations when challenged.

          This to me is the very definition of anti-Calvinism. You wouldn’t let me get away with such generalities and you would be right in labeling me an angry, divisive Calvinist were I to do the same thing. It just seems like a clear double standard is at play here.

          volfan007

          DR,

          Here is the quote that you gave me from the conversation at Voices…from your comment above:

          “There’s a lot that could be said here, but let me go on record and say that yes, I would be happy to cooperate with those who would be “Calvinistic” (in your terms 3 points). Of course, there should be room for robust & substantive debate within like-minded, cooperating brothers, but we are together on the essentials of the gospel.”

          YOu will notice that we all would have to be “Calvinistic” from the quote you have given. I remember reading the 3 pt. Calvinist statement….read it over about 3 or 4 times to make sure I was reading it right. But, if it’s not there, then I dont know what happened to that part. Anyway, if we just take “Calvinistic” was the point I was making.

          And, sorry, but the stories I have are a lot more than just 3. I could give you dozens…and I’ve heard dozens from others in other parts of SBC land.

          Anyway, I am not anti-Calvinists. I have many, many dear friends, who are Calvinists. New Calvinists are a different bird, altogether.

          David

          D.R. Randle

          David,

          You completely ignore Tim’s comment below (and you conveniently fail to quote where he says, “see my comment below”). In his comment below that one he clarifies what he means. Clearly he misunderstood your question and you fail to give him the benefit of the doubt. He doesn’t say “have to be Calvinisitic” as you claimed and then he clearly says this later in the comments:

          I will just say for now that my desire is that any Southern Baptist who clearly preaches and teaches the gospel of Jesus Christ, and that it is by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone for the glory of God alone, let’s roll together. If you call sinners to repent and believe in Christ crucified & risen & coming again, let’s roll. And if you can embrace a Trinitarian orthodoxy whereby salvation is purposed by the Father, purchased by the Son, and applied by the Holy Spirit, let’s roll. These are first order gospel matters I believe cooperating non-Calvinists and Calvinists can agree. And I can’t speak for Founders or other Calvinists, I imagine most if not all would share the same convictions (like Wesley & Whitefield or Spurgeon & Moody).

          How much more clear can he be when he says, “let’s roll” (he is from Alabama after all)? And why mention cooperation between the two sets of men if he really thought that was wrong for them to do?

          So let’s recap:

          1) You read “have to be Calvinistic” into Tim’s comment, when clearly he didn’t say it.
          2) You completely ignore his comment below, which he points to in the comment you misunderstand.
          3) You use said comment to make outlandish claims about how new Calvinists want to kick out everyone from the SBC who isn’t a 3 Point Calvinist.
          4) You are shown clear evidence that you are wrong.
          3) Instead of taking responsibility and apologizing for your wrong assertions, you insinuate that “someone” changed the comment because clearly he said something different.
          4) And then now after realizing how silly that was you again try to ignore his more clear comment.

          David, you are going to quite a few lengths to accuse Calvinists of being uncooperative. And yet you continue to claim you are not an anti-Calvinist? Brother, if it walks like a duck…well you know the rest.

          volfan007

          DR,

          This is a direct quote…copied and pasted…from your comment above…where YOU were quoting Brister from Voices…here it is…

          “There’s a lot that could be said here, but let me go on record and say that yes, I would be happy to cooperate with those who would be “Calvinistic” (in your terms 3 points). Of course, there should be room for robust & substantive debate within like-minded, cooperating brothers, but we are together on the essentials of the gospel.”

          David

          D.R. Randle

          David, David,

          Again you leave out the remained of his comment. Why? Why would you do that?

          He says, “see my comment below” and then clearly he articulates a statement of cooperation between Calvinists and non-Calvinists in the SBC. Why do you ignore that? Why?

          I tell you what, I will text Tim and ask him to come and clarify. Let’s agree that whatever he says, we will believe and whichever one of us is wrong will apologize and drop the whole thing. What do you say?

          Tim Brister

          I’m not sure if this is the correct place for me to reply in the threaded discussion, but I would like to respond to the David Worley’s imposition of my comments (or his understanding of them) in this discussion.

          1. As far as changing the content of my comments, that was simply never done. I remember what I wrote (and where I wrote it). It is accurate and unchanged, either by me or any of the editors of SBC Voices.

          2. I never said that someone has to be at least a three-point Calvinist for me to cooperate with them. If you look at my comment, I said “calvinistic” which, if you ask many SBC leaders, they would argue the BFM2K is “calvinistic.” The only mention of “3 point Calvinist” came parenthetically in reference to what David Worley said, not me.

          3. As to whether Founders churches or other Baptist Calvinists could cooperate with folks who are not 3 point Calvinists, it depends on what you mean by cooperation. Could we cooperate in missions by supporting the Cooperative Program? Sure. Could we cooperate by planting a daughter church with someone who did not share our doctrinal distinctives? I personally would not. There are multiple levels of cooperation, and if you are going to use that term, it is most helpful if you define what you mean by that, and in particular what that cooperation seeks to accomplish (for instance, I will feed the poor with a Methodist, but I will not fund a Methodist church plant).

          But that is a local church issue, and each church is autonomous and can determine how they cooperate. For instance, there are churches who hold to dispensational theology that I, in good conscience, could not serve as a pastor. That’s where they stand, and I respect them for that. But the fact of the matter is that *every* church has criteria they use for cooperation on *various* levels of cooperation, whether explicit or implicit.

          4. As I stated in my original comments at SBCVoices, the issue for me is more foundational, namely the gospel. As Daniel Randle tried to point out, this is the grounds of my cooperation as a Southern Baptist, not Calvinism. As it has been quoted already, I will quote it again. I said then and say again now,

          I will just say for now that my desire is that any Southern Baptist who clearly preaches and teaches the gospel of Jesus Christ, and that it is by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone for the glory of God alone, let’s roll together. If you call sinners to repent and believe in Christ crucified & risen & coming again, let’s roll. And if you can embrace a Trinitarian orthodoxy whereby salvation is purposed by the Father, purchased by the Son, and applied by the Holy Spirit, let’s roll. These are first order gospel matters I believe cooperating non-Calvinists and Calvinists can agree. And I can’t speak for Founders or other Calvinists, I imagine most if not all would share the same convictions (like Wesley & Whitefield or Spurgeon & Moody).

          My statements are clear. I am not responsible for the agendas of other people or theories made in the minds of people without first-hand information or direct source. I do ask, however, that if my name is going to be used to enforce an argument, that I be quoted directly and asked beforehand for clarification on any matter that might be in dispute. I think we can all agree that would be a honorable and charitable thing to do.

          Let me say to you personally David, that I have not followed the discussions or debates on the blogs. I would not be here were it not made known to me. I am a local church pastor trying to invest my life in shepherding our people and encouraging other pastors and plantings to live out the Great Commission in making disciples and planting churches. That’s my agenda. I don’t sit around with other Calvinists either online or in person thinking how we can take over the SBC. I have never thought that and don’t care to. And whatever you hear from others, my feelings are shared with just about every Calvinist I know in the SBC.

          People are going to believe what they want to believe. I can’t keep you from coming to your own conclusions based on whatever criteria you choose to use. I’ve tried to be cordial and conversant with you in our exchanges, and I hope to continue to. I don’t think you have represented me or my statements accurately. I also don’t think you are right in your conclusions. What you do with that is between you and our Lord. I have no invested interest in the ongoing discussion but only hope to clear up any confusion that might have involved anything I said in the past.

          Grace and peace.

          volfan007

          Tim,

          1. I will take your word for it that nothing was changed in your comment at Voices. I will take you at your word that you never said that someone had to be at least a 3 pt. Calvinist, but rather that they had to be Calvinistic.

          2. So, you believe that all Baptists are Calvinistic? That the BFM2K is a Calvinistic document? What about those of us, who believe the BFM2K, but are not Calvinists? Where do we fit in?

          3. I’m glad that yall could cooperate with non-Calvinist, Baptist Churches in the CP. But, what I am more interested in is…would Calvinists like you be able to send missionaries to the field, if they’re not Calvinists, if Calvinists like you were in control of the mission boards? Would yall be able to appoint people, who are not Calvinists, to SBC Boards and Committees? Would you be able to hire them as Professors, if you were in charge of..say, Southern or Southeastern, for example?

          4. I would hope…seriously hope….that Calvinists and SB’s, who are not Calvinists…could work together, as we’ve done for years and years. A lot of us are not so sure, anymore; due to the things that we see and hear. I hope we’re wrong.

          5. I am also very busy as a Pastor of my Church, as well. I really did want to get into much more of this issue with you, or anyone else. But, I was trying to make a point of concern for me, and others like me, and I used the conversation we had at Voices to make a point…along with using the Founders vision of taking over the SBC one church at a time. Have yall changed this vision? or, are yall still on this agenda, BTW?

          7. I count you as a Brother in Christ. I have no desire to fight with you, or anyone else, for that matter. But, I do not want the SBC to become a Reformed denomination, and I have concerns that it is being influenced in that way. Thus, I say the things I do….from the experiences that I’ve had in life….and from the things I see and hear that’s happening around the SBC. But, honestly, I wish I could believe that Calvinists and non-Calvinists could work together in the SBC.

          David

Bob Hadley

Eric,

Thank you for your concise and carefully constructed treatment concerning the soteriological aspects related to the issues of Calvinism and Arminianism and our unique position as Baptists today. You are absolutely correct; we are neither. We do share a history and a heritage with great individuals who have to varying degrees held to both and I believe God has used their influence to mold and shape our theology and our passion to go and tell the story that Jesus Christ has come to seek and to save them that are lost. I am proud that the SBC holds the gospel to such a high standard that we believe it is the power of God unto salvation for ALL who will believe that God is indeed everything He says He is and He will do everything He says He will do for EVERY man, woman, boy and girl who will repent of their sin and come to Him in faith to be saved and that decision is ours to make and the eternal consequences of that decision is His!

Appreciate your work!

><>”

    Chris Roberts

    You are neither. And yet here I stand, Southern Baptist, fully affirming our Baptist doctrinal statement, member of an SBC church in good standing, participant in my local association, supporter of the state convention, contributor to the Cooperative Program and missions offering, and a Calvinist.

    Southern Baptists are many things. It is getting very tiring to see people insist that Southern Baptists cannot be Calvinists.

      Bob Hadley

      Chris,

      I am grateful that your church is what it is and I have no doubt that it is a great church and doing great things. I did not say or even remotely suggest that Baptists cannot be calvinists. Eric has not done so. We are saying that Baptists are neither calvinist nor arminian. We have a unique position that has been influenced by both but are not uniquely either one.

      That has nothing to do with your or your church’s particular theological ideology. You can certainly be calvinist without the whole of Southern Baptists being calvinist.

      May God continue to bless your ministry and the outreach of your church!

      &gtl<>”

        Chris Roberts

        “You can certainly be calvinist without the whole of Southern Baptists being calvinist.”

        That’s about as much as I’m saying. What I would prefer is for people not to say, “The SBC is neither Calvinist nor Arminian” but to say, “The SBC contains both Calvinists and Arminians, and people who are neither”. Saying the SBC is not Calvinist comes across as saying one cannot be Calvinist and Southern Baptist.

          Eric Hankins

          So when the Founders group speaks of “recovering the Gospel,” Al Mohler speaks of New Calvinism as the only real option for young pastors, Joshua Breland avers that many key leaders within evangelicalism think most Southern Baptists are semi-Pelagian, Matt Chandler leads a church planting network that makes Reformed commitment non-negotiable, etc., we’re supposed to assume that New Calvinists merely want a seat at the table and are “all good” with non-Calvinism?

          Joshua

          Eric,

          Let it be known: I am “all-good” with non-Calvinism in the SBC. :) I don’t think you will find a single sentence of anything I have written that would make you “seriously” question my approval of non-Calvinism in the SBC. I have no desire to “purge” the SBC of non-Calvinists at the state or national level. I am against such hostility.

          To lament the doctrinal state of the SBC is not to disapprove of non-Calvinists in the SBC. Lest you be forced to criticize Bill Harrell for doing the same, as I have documented on my blog. Which, I doubt you would extend such ungracious non sequiturs to Pastor Harrell as you are to me.

          Non-Calvinism, whatever that means, is a valid expression of Baptist belief, so is Calvinism.

          D.R. Randle

          Eric,

          It seems from this comment that you believe you need to “read between the lines” and reject what your Calvinist brothers and sisters have plainly said – which is that they want to cooperate with the majority of the SBC under the theological banner of the BF&M. Are you now saying you agree with the men who have put forth conspiracy theories that guys like Al Mohler are trying to take over the convention? Is that what you are trying to communicate here? Do you believe that Al Mohler and Matt Chandler and others have nefarious motives in mind, hoping to rid the SBC of non-Calvinists?

          Chris Roberts

          Eric,

          Indeed.

Debbie Kaufman

Man is never sufficiently touched and affected by the awareness of his lowly state until he has compared himself with God’s Majesty. -John Calvin

    Eric Hankins

    How can he “compare himself with God’s majesty” if he has been rendered incapable of any responsiveness to God’s majesty.

      Joshua

      Eric,

      Man does respond to God’s majesty. He hates it, despises it, and flees from it.

      Calvin’s words are not meant to reflect that man cannot make a response at all. His words communicate that man cannot make a POSITIVE response towards God without an enabling grace that is also a regenerating grace.

        volfan007

        If man is as dead to God as Calvinists believe, then how can they resist, hate, flee, or despise God’s majesty. They should not be able to know anything about it….if they’re as dead as some Calvinists claim man is….

        David

        Eric Hankins

        Joshua,

        That statement absolutely proves what all of this is about. Thank you for making it so clear. There is nothing about your explanation of Calvin above that makes sense unless God is a deterministic, evil-causing tyrant, who purposefully creates some people in order to damn them. This is not the God is the Bible. This is who God is when Five Point Calvinism is run out to its necessary conclusions. The algebra of “enabling grace” and “regenerating grace” and a “response” that cannot be otherwise is little more than gnosticism, a twisiting of the simplicity of the gospel into maze of syllogisms that only a select few can ever master. I reject it. The vast majority of Baptists reject it.

          Matt

          Eric,

          This quote from Calvin was meant for Christians to encourage piety. It gives you a good perspective on our relationship with God when you consider who He is exactly and then consider who you are in comparison. This consideration can also help guard against those ideas that God allows evil things to happen merely out of reverence for man’s free will.

          Eric Hankins

          Matt,

          That is not what Joshua thinks it means. He thinks it has to do with the nature of salvation.

          God doesn’t have a reverence for free will, His sovereignty is on display as people exercise their free will.

          Matt

          Eric,

          My comment was made in response to your response to Debbie.

          You say, “His sovereignty is on display as people exercise their free will.” According to your view this is the same as saying: His sovreignty is on display where it is not. You will never convince me that choosing not to be sovreign is actually more sovreign than being sovreign.

          Matt

          Eric,

          You say, “God doesn’t have a reverence for free will” in response to my statement, “This consideration can also help guard against those ideas that God allows evil things to happen merely out of reverence for man’s free will.” I understand that you don’t like my use of the word “reverence”, but I think it applies. Just to illustrate something that we touched on previously, I would like you to give me a straight answer to a question: Why does God allow people to do evil, hurtful things; like kill, rape, and torture others?

        Les

        Well Joshua I think Eric’s comments to you make clear that if there are very many who agree with his characterization of Calvinism, then getting along in the SBC will be impossible.

          volfan007

          Les,

          Calvinism is a philosophy that you have to learn, as is Arminianism.

          Why dont we just get back to the Bible?

          David

          Joshua

          Les,

          I worry not. I don’t believe 1% of the SBC would agree with Eric’s statement.

          It is humorous that Eric is calling the theology of the SBC founders and first 5 presidents of the first SBC seminary “gnostic.” To disagree is one thing, to call an accepted Protestant theology “gnosticism” is beyond the pale.

          Les

          Joshua,

          “to call an accepted Protestant theology “gnosticism” is beyond the pale.”

          Yes, on the gnostic thing a whole lot of Christendom got thrown under the orthodoxy bus.

          Eric Hankins

          Joshua,

          You speak of “an accepted Protestant theology.” Accepted by whom? Because the only acceptance germane to this discussion is the acceptance of Southern Baptists, who don’t accept the necessary conclusions of Five Point Calvinism and don’t want seminaries and agencies that produce people who do.

          Les

          David,

          “Calvinism is a philosophy that you have to learn, as is Arminianism.

          Why dont we just get back to the Bible?”

          Ok, let’s just get back to the bible. Adam sinned and plunged all humanity into guilt and sin leaving them helpless. None deserving salvation. All deserving hell. But God chose some of those of humanity as a special people for himself and sent a Savior to come and stand in for their punishment and pay for their sins. The rest he left in their sins to get what they deserve. Some et what they deserve and some get what they don’t deserve.

          And in the course of time the Holy Spirit comes upon His chosen and revives them from their state of spiritual death and they choose to repent and believe. They are saved.

          That’s just bible.

          Les

          Eric,

          You appear to be becoming more and more sectarian as these posts come alog.

          “the only acceptance germane to this discussion is the acceptance of Southern Baptists, who don’t accept the necessary conclusions of Five Point Calvinism and don’t want seminaries and agencies that produce people who do.”

          You know, it’s one thing to say that you don’t want 5 point Calvinists produced by seminaries and in agencies.

          Ok, you disagree with Calvinism. Everyone here gets that. Loud and clear. But to refer to Calvinism as gnostic is quite extreme. Is it that you want SBs to think of Calvinism as gnosticism?

          Is the PCA a gnostic denomination? How far will your antipathy for Calvinism push you.

          You guys keep up this kind of talk and you are going to need to apologize to the YRR and stop calling them the angry New Calvinists. I think there’s a new and emerging angry group whose anger far exceeds anything I’ve seen from the supposed YRR.

      Debbie Kaufman

      John Calvin is speaking about us who are born again. We can see it, we can compare. The Gospel is not just for unbelievers. Believers need to hear it too.

Debbie Kaufman

Romans 5:12,19 – sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned… by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners

    Eric Hankins

    Romans 5:18: “So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so though one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men.” So, Paul is a universalist? Or is something other than the imputation of guilt to every human at work here?

      Debbie Kaufman

      Eric: What does the passage say? What is the interpretation of this passage in light of the whole chapter? You are asking the wrong questions in your above comment. If our view comes from scripture, which it should, then let us have our view come from scripture in its proper context.

        Eric Hankins

        Debbie,

        First of all, you were the one who started quoting individual verses out of context as though they settle the matter, not me. You quoted Romans 5:12 and 19 because they make your case. You left out Romans 5:18 because it hurts your case. If you’d like to demonstrate how your reading of Romans 5:12 and 19 does not result in a universalistic understanding of verse 18, I’d love to hear it.

          Debbie Kaufman

          I don”t believe they are out of context and are perfectly in line with the rest of the chapter and chapters. And I was simply responding to the verses as you yourself gave them. Here is the whole passage with Romans 5:18. Romans 5:18 is the best part. Just as death came to us all by one man(Adam), so life came to us by one man, Jesus Christ who perfectly fulfilled the sacrifice for us that a Holy God required.

          1Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:

          2By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

          3And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience;

          4And patience, experience; and experience, hope:

          5And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.

          6For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.

          7For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die.

          8But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

          9Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.

          10For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.

          11And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.

          12Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:

          13(For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law.

          14Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam\’s transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come.

          15But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many.

          16And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offences unto justification.

          17For if by one man\’s offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.)

          18Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.

          19For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.

          20Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound:

          21That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.

        Randy Everist

        Indeed, Debbie, it’s not enough that the immediate passage be considered, but the entire text of the letter itself! Romans is one long argument, so that it won’t do to compare sin, death, faith, and salvation in some parts of the letter (cf. Rom. 3, where sin is individual, death is the consequence, faith is exercised individually in response to God [not of itself apart from God, but in response to] and then subsequent justification) and other parts (Rom. 5, under consideration) as though they were not parts of a unified whole of Paul’s argument. Basically, it makes more sense to interpret Romans 5 in light of Romans 3 (and the end of chapter 9 and beginning of 10) than vice versa. We’d have to argue it only appears as though Abraham is respoonding, but really Paul’s argument is that no one can. If one reads through the entire book of Romans in one sitting, it is doubtful that person would come away with a Calvinistic understanding of the text. That just seems to be a gross misunderstanding of the overall argument.

          Debbie Kaufman

          It makes more sense to read Romans 1 through the end and interpret in this way. It causes one to go with the flow of the book and get the complete message rather than jump around and attempt to fit it together. It becomes incomplete then.

          Debbie Kaufman

          It’s funny you should say that if one reads the entire book of Romans, one would not come away with a Calvinist point of view because this is exactly what happened to Calvin who read the entire book of Romans, along with Luther and myself. I came to my view by reading the entire book of Romans in one sitting and then going back again and again. Others have the same testimony.

          volfan007

          My bet is that you had a Calvinist friend, who first told you about Calvinism. I’ll bet that you had some friend, or Pastor, or someone, who was encouraging you to go that way. …before you became a Calvinist.

          I have also read Romans over and over and over again. I’m not a Calvinist. And, I had friends, who tried to convert me to Calvinism, vigorously. But, I’m still not a Calvinist.

          David

      Debbie Kaufman

      I think you know the story of the Garden Eric. Everything was perfect, Adam and Eve were without sin at this point. That changed with the fall. When this happened, they had children born in sin, who had children born in sin, who had children born in sin, until the whole world was born in sin. Until Christ came and changed this. I am simply going by what the passage says Erik and not trying to explain it away, but reading it and going with it.

        Eric Hankins

        Debbie,

        I’m still looking for that explanation of how, on your reading of Romans 5, verse 18 is not advocating universalism. “All were condemned” and “all were justified.” If “all” means all of Adam’s descendants in were condemned, than “all” means all of Adam’s descendants were justified, ergo universalism.

          Matt

          Eric,

          I hope neither Debbie nor yourself mind if I throw my two cents in on Rom.5:18.

          To start with, verse 18 doesn’t say, “All were condemned” and “all were justified.” It says, “Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgement came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life.” To be clear about what verse 18 is saying we need to consider what is said leading up to that verse. Verse 17 says, “For if by the one man’s offense death reigned through the one, much more those who recieve abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.” It’s very clear in verse 17 that what is accomplished by Christ is limited to “those who recieve abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness.” Where verse 18 says, “through one man’s offense judgement came t0 all men” it is clear that all men were placed under judgement as a result of Adam’s sin, but it is not necessary that the resulting condemnation is applied to all men. Verse 17 seems to say that it is not applied to “those who recieve abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness.” So, where verse 18 says, ” through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men” it could very understandably mean that the offer of the gospel came to all men, but doesn’t necssarily mean that the resulting justification was applied to all men. Once again, verse 17 seems to limit this to “those who recieve abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness.” The idea of universal salvation requires a forced interpretation of this verse that we all agree cannot be. I still haven’t heard any legitimate exegesis of all the verses here that make it very clear that we are all under judgement due to Adam’s sin; a judgement that results in condemnation for those who do not recieve “abundance of grace” and “the free gift of righteousness” The reductio ad absurdum argument of “Your argument requires universalism” is not valid.

          Eric Hankins

          Matt,

          I agree. There is no legitmate exegesis of this passage that demands the imputation of Adam’s guilt to all men without respect to their own choice to sin. That is, however, the point that Debbie is making. I am making the point that, if you follow Debbie’s reading, universalism is the only way to understand verse 18.

Debbie Kaufman

Romans 3:9-12 – What then? Are we Jews any better off? No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.”

Chris Roberts

I may come back and offer a more comprehensive response, but I only have a moment so I thought I’d go ahead and throw this out there.

First, I think you continue to be a bit disingenuous when you say things like “total depravity, which is purely speculative” and “Nothing in Scripture indicates that humans have been rendered ‘totally depraved’ through Adam’s sin.” You know that Reformed and Arminian folks have biblical reasons behind their arguments, you just disagree with those arguments. In the case of prevenient grace I’ve argued that there is virtually no biblical argument, and Arminians always seem to have to struggle to come up with one. But to say there is nothing in Scripture to indicate total depravity is simply dishonest. Many passages seem to indicate it, the question is whether or not total depravity is actually being taught in those passages. What you are doing is trying to make Calvinism out to be a speculative beast, something someone thought up and then came back to try and force Scripture into a Calvinist mode. This fails because it is actually the other way around – Scripture shouts out Calvinistic theology. The theological system we call Calvinism or Reformed grew out of the plain meaning of Scripture.

That rant aside, on to what I actually wanted to say.

I am a bit surprised by your footnote 2, how you interpret Ephesians 2 and your belief that Paul is speaking eschatologically. You ask, “Are we now ‘spiritually’ raised and seated with Him in heavenly places?” The answer is yes, absolutely! We have been raised with Christ. Baptism symbolizes this, that we have even now been raised with Christ, and in case any confusion remains, Colossians 3:1-4 should settle the issue. In verse 1 Paul speaks of those who have already been raised with Christ, then in verse 4 speaks of the eschatological hope we have of appearing with Christ in his glory. Back to Ephesians 2, the passage does not make an eschatological interpretation possible, for similar reasons. You were dead in your sins, but God did something in Christ which changes it so that even now we are made alive with Christ, raised with him, seated with him, so that in the future he might do something with us. Isn’t this something of how we are to understand the church universal? We are one spiritual body in Christ, united in him, joined by him, even now while we walk the earth. Being united to him, being his body, we are raised with him and seated with him in Heaven. This is present reality. And the future reality – really, I think, present to future, from now and in the ages to come – is that God will be glorified through us by the display of his grace and kindness.

    Randy Everist

    I don’t think it makes any sense to say we are actually seated in heavenly places–that seems to be a future interpretation. If not, can you tell me who is to my right? ;)

      Chris Roberts

      It is amazing how little has to make sense to our minds and yet still be true. It does not make sense to me that we are in a very real sense united as one body, one bride, in Christ. All Christians in all places and all times, united together under Christ, joined to Christ in salvation. This is a clear biblical truth, yet how can we understand it? And yet if I am united to Christ, then I am also with him. He is seated at the right hand of God, and being joined to him, we are seated with him.

        Randy Everist

        None of that is a defense for the above-made claim. In fact, if God is timeless, it can be argued that all such events can be viewed with a “perfect” tense of completion, regardless of whether or not the event has actually transpired. Besides, if paradoxical claims are not necessary to be affirmed, then they shouldn’t be. I don’t see any textual reason that makes it necessary that Paul was saying were are actually located in Heaven right now. Assuming that is our soul, is our soul also here? If our soul is inherently temporal, how does it become atemporal? If it does not become atemporal, then isn’t it true that if we are now in heavenly places, then it follows our souls are in two places at once, or not here at all? I not only see no reason to thin kthe interpretation is true, I see reason to think it is false.

          Chris Roberts

          Paul writes Ephesians and Colossians with respect to his time-perspective, not God’s. He writes of our experience now, and our experience in the future, and he makes the lines plain. His statements are not paradoxes, they are mysteries. And I reject any idea that there is no such thing as mystery in the faith. In what sense am I seated with God in Christ? I don’t know. But I do know that this is what Scripture teaches. In what sense was I raised with Christ in his resurrection? I wasn’t even born yet, so I don’t know. But the Bible tells me I was. It is so peculiar that Calvinists are accused of relying on philosophical speculation, and yet who is finding the need to speculate and explain away what Paul clearly says? What is left for me is to accept the teaching of Scripture, acknowledge that God is God and I am not and some things are beyond my understanding, and move on from here. If I try to make Scripture mean only what I can fully understand, then I am dragging God down to my level.

          Randy Everist

          @Chris, first, it is impossible to engage in any interpretation of any text without philosophical speculation. Next, you then have backed off your former interpretation, and merely say it is a “mystery” (in the sense of “unknown) as to what sense the texts are. But in that case you can’t affirm a present reality with respect to its temporality–for you *do not even know what sense is meant*. Further, no one is trying to “explain away” anything. Rather, I am asking for a coherent, sensible defense of a particular interpretation, one which you have not been able to provide, appealing ony to “mystery.”

          If that is acceptable, then any disputed text’s interpretation can be epistemologically regarded to be true, but it’s simply a mystery as to how it is so. How would it follow that if there are some things that are unknown, yet correct, that your interpretation, though unknown, is correct? I see no reason to place that level of infallibility on someone!

          Chris Roberts

          Randy,

          I’m not backing away when I say it is a mystery. I continue to affirm that the text states we are presently seated with Christ in the heavenlies. The mystery is how this can be. How can I be here, with my experience, yet be seated with Christ in Heaven? I don’t know. By that same token, how can I be here, individually, with no sense of attachment to others, and yet be united with all believers? I don’t know. By that same token, how can God be the three-in-one? I don’t know. There are mysteries in the faith – truths we affirm and know to be true even if we cannot understand how they can be.

          Randy Everist

          @Chris, but again that’s no reason to think your particular interpretation is true, and literally you have offered no reason to think so! In contrast to the Trinity (which can at least be successfully defended), it seems to be metaphysically unlikely, contextually bizarre, and existentially nonsensical. Nothing so far has been offered in defense of the interpretation. You can stand by bare assertions, but do not expect anyone else to think something is “plainly” being said!

          Les

          Chris, you are right here. I might add, how can I be at the same time a sinner and justified before God?

          It’s funny a bit that we Calvinists are often accused of all about our “system” and trying to figure it all out or having figured it all out.

          Along come the Arminnonarminnoncalvinists and accuse us of hiding behind mystery.

          Look who apparently has it all figured out.

          Randy Everist

          Les, that’s just rhetoric, and not particularly good rhetoric at that. Rhetoric is no substance for actual argumentation. Just making an assertion, claiming that some things cannot be understood, and that your interpretation is one of them is not really defensible. I don’t trust the infallibility of people.

          Chris Roberts

          Randy,

          I haven’t tried to offer a substantial defense of the interpretation other than the fact that it is the plain meaning of the text. There are times when the plain meaning is misleading because the text means something else, particularly taken in context, but I believe this is one case where the plain meaning of Ephesians 2 and Colossians 3 is these things are present realities. I don’t think context provides room to avoid this simple understanding. I think seeing the whole passage as eschatological requires inserting into the text something that isn’t present, while also ignoring some elements that are present.

          This isn’t a formal defense, just some observations. If you want me to give a more formal argument for my position I can do so.

          Randy Everist

          The only way to know it is the plain meaning of the text is to do an interpretation, so again, this defense (informal or otherwise) has failed. Indeed, it seems obviously false, depending on one’s view of time, that it is a present reality. For one, it implies that I am both now here, at my computer, and not here, in Heaven. Because “I” is an irreducible concept, I don’t see how a contradiction is avoidable. Mystery won’t help here. Moreover, if objective becoming is actually real, then being in heaven, a future reality to me, cannot be now, else it wouldn’t be future. If temporal becoming is unreal, it can be argued that the “me” who is in Heaven isn’t really me at all but some other entity (in essence, not just in character). Those are all very good reasons for supposing the view is something other then temporally literal with respect to the present moment.

          Les

          Randy, when you get it all figured out, or maybe you have already, let all of the Reformed churches in on it. Somehow all these centuries we’ve missed it and chalked up some things to mystery.

          Ah, but man’s knowledge.

          Chris Roberts

          Randy,

          I believe you are demonstrating my claim of imposing preconceptions on the text.

          How can God flood the whole earth? How can something come from nothing? How can a virgin give birth? How can God be everywhere? How can the trinity be true? How can physical beings continue after the physical body has died? How can a body be raised from the dead? On and on the list goes with things that at the end of the day all we can say is, God is God and we are not. We may not know the *how*, but we know God’s promises and God’s word and trust them to be true. It doesn’t matter whether or not we can understand how it can be, it doesn’t even matter whether or not we like what it is saying. The question is whether or not we will believe what God has said.

          I realize someone could well disagree with me about what God has said, but I want textual reasons for that disagreement. It is not enough to say, “That’s logically impossible.” So are a lot of other things in Christianity.

          Ours is a reasonable faith, but it is a reasonable faith that requires both components – reason, and faith. Reason to discern that which God has revealed, and faith to accept these things as true, even when we do not understand them.

          I still have not offered an actual defense of my interpretation, but I’m offering a defense of why my interpretation is tenable even if it is something we cannot fully understand. I continue to be astonished that anyone would see Ephesians 2:4-6 as eschatological events rather than present realities, I’ve not heard anyone suggest that before. I’ll be digging in this some more and will come back later to write a more comprehensive defense of my interpretation (unless my interpretation changes) later today.

          Chris Roberts

          It took longer than I expected, but here is my promised defense of my interpretation of Ephesians 2:5-6 as referring to things already carried out in the life of the believer:

          http://www.seektheholy.com/2012/04/25/a-look-at-ephesians-21-7/

    Gary Snowden

    Chris, you state, “Scripture shouts out Calvinistic theology. The theological system we call Calvinism or Reformed grew out of the plain meaning of Scripture.” It is this kind of statement that non-Calvinists find particularly disturbing and unsettling. You are in effect arguing that if non-Calvinists would simply read the Bible clearly like Calvinists do, they would all be converted to the glorious truths of Calvinism. Do you see how pretentious and arrogant those words sound to someone who isn’t at all convinced by Calvinism’s TULIP?

      Randy Everist

      Agreed: I could understand if they said non-Calvinists were simply mistaken. But apparently non-Calvinists are either too depraved or too dense (or both) to understand what is being said.

        Chris Roberts

        What is the difference between saying “you are wrong about what the text means” and saying “you misunderstand what the text means”? And can’t you see that either of these is different than saying “your beliefs are based on philosophy rather than the Bible”?

        I understand the non-Calvinist argument, and I know non-Calvinists use their Bibles in making that argument, but I am convinced that non-Calvinists are wrong/mistaken/incorrect/etc about what the Bible says on these soteriological issues.

          Randy Everist

          Chris, but that’s not all you said. You said it was “plain,” and argued elsewhere we were trying to “explain it away.” That is vastly different than someone who simply does not understand. If you were to give a theological treatise to a small child, they likely would misunderstand, but it doesn’t follow that to them it should have been plain, nor that they are being disingenuous. Adults of normal mental capacity should be able to understand, with sufficient education, something stated in a common language “plainly.” Yet sufficiently educated people do not understand it plainly. Therefore, either the people are not of sufficient mental capacity, or they are being disingenuous. I hope this helps you to realize how a lot of Calvinists come across. I disagreed with the recent post that made it sound as though Calvinists were evil. That’s not a proper response either.

          Chris Roberts

          Randy,

          Whether we like it or not, we all approach the Bible with certain theological presuppositions. The challenge of good exegesis is getting beyond our presuppositions. But when I read phrases like, “…theologically unacceptable and philosophically unsustainable…” (Eric, in his entry) then I become suspicious that I’m dealing with presuppositions rather than biblical evidence. That one’s theology or philosophy cannot sustain a teaching does not mean the teaching is not biblically true, it could mean your theology and philosophy need to change.

          So a Calvinist and a non-Calvinist may well disagree on what a passage mean, and we may well even disagree on what the plain sense of a passage is, because we are both dealing with presuppositions and assumptions that make understanding more difficult. Obviously, being the Calvinist that I am, I believe that Calvinists do the best job at getting to the plain and contextually accurate meaning of Scripture on these issues.

          Randy Everist

          But again, that’s not what you said, nor is it what your position entailed.

      Bob Hadley

      Gary you wrote, “You are in effect arguing that if non-Calvinists would simply read the Bible clearly like Calvinists do, they would all be converted to the glorious truths of Calvinism.”

      Do not forget about God’s decretive will; if God wanted me to be a calvinist He would make me one. Since He has not done that for me, then I can only assume I am right where He wants me to be and I am happy with that.

      ><>”

      ><>”

      Chris Roberts

      Gary,

      I understand, and yet isn’t this what we are all saying? I believe Calvinism presents a correct understanding of Scripture. You believe it does not, that the correct understanding of Scripture would lead one away from Calvinism, etc. I am not making a unique claim here. This is what it means to believe something.

      But at least you should be able to catch a glimpse of my own frustration with Eric’s claims that these things are based on philosophical speculation rather than Scripture, and that such things are nowhere found in Scripture. He is saying that Calvinists are not just wrong about the Bible (which is what I say about non-Calvinists, and is what non-Calvinists would typically say about Calvinists) but that Calvinists aren’t using the Bible at all.

        Gary Snowden

        Sorry about the delay in responding to the comments. I would agree that Eric is indeed arguing that Calvinism relies heavily on a philosophical construct in addition to the Scriptures. I don’t think he ever states that Calvinism ignores the Bible, but he does argue that as a system it borrows heavily from Augustinian philosophy. I would also concede that in his conclusion, Eric does make the claim that Baptists have been inclined toward accepting the Bible’s clarity and simplicity, so in effect I suppose one could object that he is making the same argument in reverse as you (Chris) have claimed when you state that a simple reading of the Bible leads to Calvinism.

        In effect, you have two different camps each claiming that their biblical interpretation is the most straightforward and clear meaning of the biblical texts. That pretty much leaves everyone at the current impasse that exists in the SBC, with each side talking past each other. Founders types argue that the SBC was established by Calvinists, while non-Calvinists dispute this assertion and point to the multiple streams of thought that influenced Baptist life from the early 1600s and persisted even as Baptists settled in the colonies and expanded westward with the frontier.

        Will the conflict be peacefully resolved? I think the groups co-existed in a more harmonious fashion when Calvinism was a more silent minority. The recent upsurge in Neo-Calvinism as a result of the seminary graduates coming out of Southern and Southeastern predominantly has certainly sparked concerns by some. I realize that Calvinists affirm that these fears or concerns are totally unfounded as they’re simply living out their biblical convictions.

        In searching for a historical parallel to the unsettled feelings that the majority perceive or sense when a “new” emphasis is introduced (recognizing that Calvinism obviously isn’t new in a historical sense), the example that comes to mind is the neo-charismatic movement of the mid 60s and early 70s. A lot of established churches were troubled by rising numbers of young believers coming to faith in Christ in the Jesus Movement who did so in the midst of charismatic fellowships. While many rejoiced over their conversion to Christ, there was concern about where some of the neo-pentecostal or charismatic emphases might take these believers.

        Having witnessed on the mission field how divisive this kind of emphasis was among Baptists in Argentina in the early 1990s as churches split over neo-charismatic doctrines, I’m sympathetic to those who feel threatened by a sudden surge in a movement that they don’t fully understand and which they consider to be a departure from historical Baptist practice.

        This was a longer reply that I anticipated writing, but I hope it sheds some light as to the challenges that many non-Calvinists perceive as they consider the blossoming movement of neo-Calvinism.

      Les

      Gary and Randy,

      Gary this is funny, “You are in effect arguing that if non-Calvinists would simply read the Bible clearly like Calvinists do, they would all be converted to the glorious truths of Calvinism” since this whole series is riddled with the same kinds of statements as this, only the other way around.

      “I could understand if they said non-Calvinists were simply mistaken.”

      But Eric says,

      “The algebra of “enabling grace” and “regenerating grace” and a “response” that cannot be otherwise is little more than gnosticism, a twisiting of the simplicity of the gospel into maze of syllogisms that only a select few can ever master.”

      And you two decry what Calvinists say and ignore what Eric just called us Calvinists? Really? Gnosticism denied the incarnation of Jesus. Really?

      I’m amazed at the lengths you all will go to try and avoid especially Calvinism.

        Randy Everist

        I’m amazed at the anti-intellectualism that pervades this thread, quite frankly.

          Les

          Randy,

          I’ll just talke that as the slam it was likely intended to be.

        Eric Hankins

        Les,

        It is obvious to anyone that was using “gnosticism” in a metaphorical way to decribe the lengths to which New Calvinists will go to justify the necessary conclusions of their system. Clearly, I wasn’t calling all Calvinists gnostics, nor was I saying that they believed the totality of the 2nd century heresy. I am characterizing the twisting and turning and special pleading of most of the argumentation I’ve seen here analogous to the argumentation of gnosticism, higher knowledge that only made sense to a few. To take such an obvious use of the term and twist it to make it look like I’m accusing people of heresy proves the point I was making. And this from people who have accused me directly of all manner of heterodoxy.

          Les

          Eric,

          Oh. Perhaps you should be a bit more careful in the language you use. I certainly know that we Calvinists have been so exhorted.

    Lydia

    “. This fails because it is actually the other way around – Scripture shouts out Calvinistic theology. The theological system we call Calvinism or Reformed grew out of the plain meaning of Scripture.”

    This thinking never ceases to amaze me. So, until Calvin there was no real understanding of the plain reading of scripture? From that plain reading of scripture, Calvin’s ST believed in a state church, a strange “priesthood” which consisted of magistrates who came to your home if you failed to attend church or baptize your baby and other attend to “sacraments”. Oh and don’t forget his council that regulated how many courses Geneveans could have at each meal. Of course, he was a brilliant “theologian”. I always find it interesting that SBC CAlvinists ignore these inconvenient facts about Calvin but explain them away that he was a “man of his time”. So was Felix Mann. I will take Felix if I have to take a human.

    And the fact you have to call it “Calvinism” the name of a mere man does not tell you something? Christianity was finally understood in the 1500’s?

    Eric has it right. It is simply Christianized Plato for those who want to lord it over using God. But I give you guys a pass since you are still totally depraved. :o)

    I think Satan delights in the fact that Calvin’s name is defended and exhalted instead of the Name of Messiah, Jesus Christ.

      Matt

      Lydia,

      Certain decriptive names are given to things and become known to universaly signify those things. That’s why languages work. Calvinism does not mean and never has meant the belief that John Calvin was right about everthing he ever did or said. Calvinism refers to a certain set of beliefs that Calvin held, although he was definitely not the first to hold those beliefs. I don’t know why the most popular term to describe people who hold these beliefs had to be Calvinist, but since it is universaly understood to signify what I believe, I accept and use the term. Someone would be more justified in saying that Satan delights that you call yourself a Southern Baptist since this term doesn’t exalt Christ but a group that condoned slavery. I’m not saying that is a fair thing to say about you, but the whole attack of John Calvin instead of the actual beliefs of Calvinists isn’t fair either.

Matt

Eric,

I haven’t had a lot of time lately to get into these posts, and have so many things that I want to address. I’ll try to start with just a few comments right now.

In regards to total depravity you say, “In Calvinism, the only remedies for this state-of-affairs are the “doctrines of grace” in which the free response of individuals is not decisive.” Later on you say that Baptists react with consternation to the idea, “that reprobation without respect to a response of faith brings Him the greatest glory” I certainly hope that all Christians condemn the belief that individual’s responses to God don’t matter. I, as well as others in these posts, have explained that this is not the Calvinist position, and have elaborated on the reformed docrine on primary and secondary causes as well as given examples from scripture. The reformed position is that God’s sovreign decree is the primary cause for all things, and that the vountary decisions of men are the secondary causes of things where human decisions are concerned. In your post that I have not yet fully responded to, you said, “You say that “God’s sovereign decrees extend to all things including the voluntary actions of his creatures.” I say this is logically contradictory. Preordained events are not voluntary. It’s like a square circle. Square circles can’t exist; Decreed voluntary actions actions can’t exist.” So, were Joseph’s brother’s actions voluntary when they sold him into slavery? Didn’t God preordain this to happen for His own reasons? Gen. 50: 20 says, “But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.” Is the Bible telling us about a square circle here? Ofcourse not, and in no way does this story or the Calvinist position affirm a contradiction. No calvinist that I’m aware of will say that human decisions do not matter. God has never forced anyone to sin against thier will, and the reformed position is that every person in hell is there because they voluntarily rejected God. If they had not rejected God, they would not be in hell; and if God had actively worked in thier hearts causing them to reject Him, thier rejection would not have been voluntary. All of this has been explained before; so, why is it that we are on the fourth article regarding this subject, and Calvinism is still being misrepresented with statements about, “reprobation without respect to a response of faith”?

I would also like to point out that even though you want to reject the labels of monergism and synergism, your view is very synergistic. I also think the statement, “individuals can do nothing to save themselves, yet their salvation cannot occur against their wills or without a response of faith that belongs to them alone.” needs to be clarified. Is a response of faith nothing or is it something? Since it is very obvious that it is something and that you believe it precedes any type of spiritual regeneration, words such as “trust,” “surrender,” and “relationship” don’t get you “off the grid” and the term synergism still applies to your position.

I also want to adress the false notion that somehow Calvinism is detrimental to evangelism. You say, “The historical struggles of Calvinism with doctrinal and attitudinal opposition to missions and the “promiscuous preaching of the gospel” is evidence of the weakness of their system.” What church history have you been reading? Did Johnathan Edwards’ Calvinistic beliefs oppose his preaching when he began the second Great Awakening? How did Calvinism prevent Charles Whitfield or Charles Spurgeon from spreading the gospel to so many people? Calvinists believe that we are to spread the gospel to all who will listen. We don’t know who will believe and who won’t, but we believe that we should follow God’s command to spread His word. There is no difference in this and what non-calvinist believe; our difference is over certain details of why some do and some do not belive. Since the people who will believe are not disernable from the people who will not believe to any of us, Calvinist or not, our motivation for evangelism should be the same, and in a practical sense, there should be no difference at all in our sharing of the good news. I have heard this objection to Calvinism so many times, but I have never heard a Calvinist in any way object to evangelism. Church history also rejects this anti-calvinist notion. It just isn’t true, and I think it is a very unfair accusation to level against Calvinist.

One more thing for this post, I took a little time to look into the theory of downward causation and some of it’s proponents, such as Nancey Murphy, who you quoted without much explanation in your second article in this series. What I read from Nancey made it clear that she is a physicalist who does not believe that humans have souls. She believes, as did the originator of the theory Donald Campbell, that we are merely systems made up of physical components. She opposes the reductionists who say that all causation can be reduced to the lowest physical level (molecules, atoms, or smaller). The proponents of downward causation believe that, although we are made up of only these lower physical levels, we are somehow greater than the sum of our physical parts taken individually. They believe that there is a relational component of these physical parts taken as a whole, the supervenient level, that exerts a selective type of causation that eleminates certain physical possibilities at the lower physical level. Thier examples include things like all snow flakes having six prongs; something that is not determined by the molecules that make up the snow flakes, and they attribute to downward causation from the supervenient level. Also, the way that the molecules within heated liquids move in a certain patern. The proponents of downward causation claim that moving to more complex systems means more complex supervenient levels. When moving up to a system as complex as a human, proponents of this theory hope to one day be able to show that a person could have done something other than what they did do in the same situation. This would be impossible since the exact same situation cannot happen to the same person twice. I would like to point out that all versions of this theory fall apart once you leave the physicalist’s assumption that humans are purely physical beings. Once you begin to consider that humans have a soul or spirit that is something more than neurons firing in the brain and is independent of the atoms that compose our physical bodies, you have causal agent that is very different than the supervenient level of a purely physical system. I would also like to point out that the woman you quoted, Nancey Murphy, doesn’t believe we have wills. She claims to only use the term for the sake of dialog. I also found it interesting that when applied to the universe theistic proponents of downward causation endorse panentheism. This reduces God to the supervenient level of the physical universe, and makes Him dependent on the atoms or sub-atomic particles that comprise the universe for his existence since the supervenient level of anything is simply the collective system of physical parts. Now surely there is more to this theory than what I read; however, I did spend a while trying to locate and read as much as I could online, especially articles and lectures by Nancey Murphy since you quoted her directly. I know you don’t believe that there is nothing other than the physical, especially when talking about our souls or God. I don’t believe that you are a panentheist, so why are you looking to a theory that requires these things for proof of libertarian free will? I also saw that you mentioned quantum phisics in a response to me, and even though quantum movement in the brain was mentioned in something I read about experiments that were being explained in different ways by both reductionists and proponents of downward causation, it was not part of the theory itself. I don’t see any way that quantum physics could ever explain libertarian freedom being compatible with an omnicient, omnipotent Creator since it is impossible to explain a contradiction. I hope you aren’t looking at the movement of sub-atomic particles like the quantum leap and interpreting them as uncaused effects since this would be denying causation and would leave us with such a huge epistomological difference that dialog would be impossible. I’m not accusing you of that, I have just seen that argument about the quantum leap before.

Well, I have spent more time than I intended and still have not adressed all I would like to here. Maybe another day. God bless.

    Randy Everist

    One thing I would like to add is that you seemed to poison the well; you made next to no argument that downward causation actually entails these things, just that some of these things are said to be entailed by downward causation (or that said causation is implied logically from other systems). But in the first case, it’s simply a bare assertion to eliminate it on those grounds (or else poisoning the well). In the second case, the logical entailment is backwards and it would be fallacious to assume it runs both ways.

      Matt

      This is not a Christian theory, and the beliefs of it’s proponents vary widely. It’s hard to pin down an exact orthodox belief for the group of proponents as a whole, so I referred mostly to what I read by Nancey murphy since Eric quoted her in the second part of this series. All of the proponents of downward causation are phisicalist and do not believe in the soul, and everything I could find where the theory was explained in relation to God, stated that panentheism was the only possibility. My point is that, while I am not an expert in all the different directions that this theory goes, if something like a soul or any spiritual being that can exist independently of physical matter and exert a causal influence exists then the whole theory that tries to explain causation as coming from purely physical systems fails. Since no one here is a physicalist, there is no need to go any deeper because we can all agree there are spiritual beings and that all existence is not physical. This isn’t poisoning the well or making a bare assertion; it’s simply stating something as epistomologicly agreed between both parties in this discussion. If Eric can show some off shoot of this theory that doesn’t assume physicalism and panentheism, then we can discuss that.

    Eric Hankins

    Matt,

    As always, I appreciate your thoughtfulness.

    1. The Joseph story is not evidence of God’s meticulous foreordination. It’s a fantastic example of Romans 8:28. On your view, God caused Joseph’s brothers to sin, and James 1:13 says God doesn’t do this. Was it necessary for Joseph’s brothers to sell him into slavery in order for God to bring about that great salvation? Of course not. In fact, it was God’s will that they not do that.

    2. Calvinists do not believe that human decisions matter in any normal sense of the word “matter.” Their decisions cannot be otherwise, and so they are actors on a stage. They go to hell for their own sins, but they had no opportunity to do otherwise. This is simply not freedom. I am not misrepresenting Calvinism in this. I believe Calvinists often misrepresent their position by not making it clear that this what they mean by “free will.”

    3. I have been reading the church history that includes Baptists John Gill and John Brine who believe it was wrong to offer an invitation because of their commitments to Calvinism. Calvinism was behind the opposition to William Carey. Daniel Parker’s predestinarianism drove his anti-mission impulses. I see such anti-evangelism attitudes in the way many New Calvinists make fun of terms like “plan of salvation” and “sinners prayer” and the growing reluctance to offer atlar calls. I was fair in saying that most Calvinists are not anti-missions but that their rationale for such is weak.

    I know that Nancey Murphy is a non-reductive physicalist. That has no bearing on the legitimacy of downward causation. Your view of determinism is the same logic of causation employed by atheistic determinists. Does this make you an atheist? My point about downward causation is that it enables us to get out of a trap set for us by the supposed “problem” of determinism and freedom. My use of quantum theory was an illustration of the way in which epistemological paradigms change.

      Chris Roberts

      “The Joseph story is not evidence of God’s meticulous foreordination. It’s a fantastic example of Romans 8:28.”

      Can you expand on that a bit more? I can understand why you would need to draw that conclusion (and I’m assuming you have a certain understanding of Romans 8:28 – because I agree, this is a Romans 8:28 instance, but not in the way you think), but I’m not sure how the text allows that conclusion. Genesis 50:20, Joseph says, “You meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive…” So Joseph is saying to his brothers, “Your intention behind this situation was to bring evil against me, but ultimately this is about God’s intention, not yours – and God’s intention behind this situation was to save many lives.” Joseph does not say, nor imply, that God’s role was to come along and make the most of a bad situation, but that God’s role was to channel their sinful actions and desires in the direction that would accomplish his will. Did he make them sin? No. Did he ensure that their sin would go in a direction which (did he ensure that what they did) would lead to the accomplishment of his plan, his will, his desire? Yes.

      This is not altogether different from perhaps the clearest text on this, Acts 4:27-28 which plainly and boldly declares that the actions of Herod, Pilate, and the Jews was part of God’s predestined plan. The cross was not God’s making the most of a bad situation, the cross was God’s providential plan and Herod, Pilate, etc, through their own sins, were nonetheless acting in accordance with God’s plan. These men were still culpable for their sin, and Paul quotes David who marvels that any would rage against God, and their culpability is due to the fact that they carried out actions according to their own desires and decisions, this despite the fact that they were doing what God planned and predestined to take place.

      I can’t explain exactly how we balance God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility (age old question that it is!) but I have to trust that when God tells us that Herod’s actions were planned and predestined by God, and when God tells us that Herod is responsible for his sin, both these things are true.

        Eric Hankins

        You “balance” God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility by denying real human freedom, which turns all of human history into a charade. The cross is the glorious display of God’s incredible sovereignty over the horrible but real decisions of people. If not, then we are back to a series of deals struck between the members of the Trinity and Adam. Human history is just play acting.

      Debbie Kaufman

      Eric: In my view God allowed Joseph’s brothers to sin, he did not cause it. He allowed it for his own good purpose which is evident in Joseph’s finding favor with his captors and his rise to the position he rose to in order to be able to give food to his family among other things. What does the God inspired passage actually say word for word Eric? We have to interpret what the Bible is actually saying, so what does this passage word for word, punctuation for punctuation say?

        Debbie Kaufman

        I have to laugh here Eric, you believe Calvinists misrepresent their own position? Really? We are all bound to hell for our sins, we freely choose Christ because he first chose us. He first loved us the Bible says. When we are given a heart of flesh that the passage in Ezekiel talks about we stop running from God and turn around and run to him. We can’t run fast enough to jump into his warm embrace.

        Eric Hankins

        Debbie,

        Could Joseph’s brothers have done otherwise? Could they have chosen not to mistreat Joseph? If not then who is the cause of their actions? In your view, God’s causing and His permitting is a distinction without a difference.

          Debbie Kaufman

          Erik: I have clearly stated my view and yet you seek to change it. Fact is that the brothers did what they did, God allowed it to occur for his purposes. I can’t seem to get past who God really is and that he is not passive but active. Do you think God did not know what they would do? The brothers are responsible for their sin just as we are.

          Debbie Kaufman

          When you read the Bible in the context of it all pointing to Christ this alone makes a huge difference. DR Randle has given a pretty extensive interpretation and I agree.

      D.R. Randle

      Eric,

      You say:

      The Joseph story is not evidence of God’s meticulous foreordination. It’s a fantastic example of Romans 8:28. On your view, God caused Joseph’s brothers to sin, and James 1:13 says God doesn’t do this. Was it necessary for Joseph’s brothers to sell him into slavery in order for God to bring about that great salvation? Of course not. In fact, it was God’s will that they not do that.

      The big problem with this of course is that within Biblical theology, Joseph is type of Christ. And you would not want to say the same things about Jesus that you say about Joseph. Clearly the actions taken against Jesus are meticulous in their foreordination. We see this pretty clearly in Acts 2:22-23 where we read:

      “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know—this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men.”

      You simply can’t say of Jesus (as you did with Joseph):

      Was it necessary for [Jesus to be crucified] in order for God to bring about that great salvation? Of course not. In fact, it was God’s will that they not do that.

      It was God’s will that Christ be crucified. And He prophesied about it “beginning with Moses”. If God’s acts that way with Jesus, then He acts that way with Joseph. And if He acts that way with Joseph, then He can act in that way with us. Thus we have Peter saying in 1 Peter 4:

      Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name. For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And
      “If the righteous is scarcely saved,
      what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?”
      Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.

      Here it is plainly God’s will for us to suffer at least for insults (and if we take this contextually it is legitimate to expand that to all difficulties Peter mentions in 1 Peter – including all things done to Christians by non-Christians). So if it is clear that it is God’s will for Christ to suffer at the hands of sinful men and clear that it is God’s will for us to suffer at the hands of sinful men, why can it not be true that it is His will that Joseph suffer at the hands of sinful men?

      How can you legitimately say that “it was God’s will that they not do that” when clearly elsewhere it is God’s will for men to do harm to His people?

      And we haven’t even talked about all the passages where the prophets speak of God’s will to destroy the Israelites through foreign nations. It just seems your position on Joseph doesn’t comport with the full record of Scripture.

        abclay

        LOL, I can’t help but think of my pastor’s response when I explained to him that if it was God’s ‘decretive’ will that all people everywhere be saved, then you can bet your buns that all people everywhere would be saved!

        He asked then, “Now you are telling me that God has more than one will?”

        Maybe Brother Eric is making distinctions between the different types of the “wills” of God?

      Matt

      Eric,

      1. The reformed view does not teach that God caused Joseph’s brothers to sin. He did not work thier hearts toward the sin, but to say He caused them to sin implies that He made them do something they didn’t want to do. They sold Joseph into slavery because they wanted to, and that is what the reformed view says. The Bible says, “God meant it for good” Taken at it’s plain meaning, isn’t that the same as saying He intended it? Joseph said “God sent me ahead of you” Isn’t this placing responsibility for the same act on God and Joseph’s brothers for different reasons? How would you think this goes against Rom.8:28? This verse tells me that God only chooses to allow sins that ultimately work toward the good of those that love Him. You say, “Was it necessary for Joseph’s brothers to sell him into slavery in order for God to bring about that great salvation? Of course not.” Well, I guess He could have just not allowed the famine to happen, but then he would not have been glorified the way He was. We would have one less thing to talk about on here too.

      2. Like I already said above, everyone in hell rejected God because they wanted to. This is the reformed view and doesn’t seem very well represented by your statement, “reprobation without respect to a response of faith”. I tend to go with the infralapsarian view of election; although I don’t especially like ordering knowledge, even if it is not chronological order, that is simply perfect and eternal. Another misleading statement was in your response when you said, “They go to hell for their own sins, but they had no opportunity to do otherwise.” No. Like any other choice they had the opportunity to do exactly what they wanted and they did.

      3. As for the four individuals you mentioned, all I can say is thanks a lot to those clowns for giving you non-calvinist something to support your claims of Calvinisms anti-evangelistic teachings. I wasn’t aware of these guys, so I learned something new today. However, these few men, who definitely are not representitive of Calvinism, don’t negate the evangelistic work of the Calvinists I mentioned or change what I said about evangelism being the same for all Christians. As for the sinner’s prayer, there is no “repeat after me” prayer that you need to say to be saved. The way such prayers are presented, as though you are not saved before saying it and are saved after saying it, is what is theologically objectionable. This view does not prevent the preaching of the gospel. I think altar calls are great for making public professions of faith among other things, but not for calling people up to say a sinner’s prayer or “be saved”

      4. You say, “I know that Nancey Murphy is a non-reductive physicalist. That has no bearing on the legitimacy of downward causation.” Actually from what I saw it does; not simply because of what she believes but because the theory assumes physicalism. What it hopes to prove as free is not what either of us believe a will is. Not to mention that what it hopes to one day prove is that people could somehow do something other than what they did in a specific situation, which is impossible. It can’t be poven by logical necessity, and the empirical experiments they do can never prove anything about doing the same thing in the exact situation if for no other reason than the fact that it’s impossible to do something for the first time twice. Atheistic determinists do not believe in the same type of causation I do. They believe in blind phisical law regulating the universe. I believe in an eternal, omnicient, omnipotent, providencial, spiritual Creator who knowingly created the universe and actively intervenes in the causal process. Pretty big difference, don’t you think?

        Eric Hankins

        Oh, brother! I went to the movies (October Baby) and the dam burst!

        So, let me just make a few summary statements:

        1. For those who think I am being really mean and prejudiced against Calvinism, which has always been a part of Baptist life: you can’t have it both ways. If it’s not a big deal, not a first order matter, not central to the correct understanding of Scripture, then drop it. Don’t have groups, conferences and networks that trumpet it as the cure for what ails the convention. That offends, bothers, and seems threatening to non-Calvinists. If it is a big deal, a first order matter, then at least acknowledge that, right now, the vast majority of Southern Baptists disagree, and don’t get mad or surprised when you are vigorously opposed.

        2. For all of the hysterics over my treatment of the Joseph narrative, I stand by interpretation. It is a narrative that highlights the fact that what we do really matters, that it changes the story, but it cannot thwart God’s ultimate purposes. To all the quotations of Acts 4:28, I say I agree. As I state in my paper, free will is like any other force in nature, God is free to contravene it anytime He likes. The question is, Is that is normal modus operandi? Is the sense of scripture really that people cannot do otherwise. No. The plain sense reading of the vast, vast majority of the Bible is that people really have options for right and wrong choices. If they don’t, then covenant and relationship really are just a mirage. You say, “Like any other choice they had the opportunity to do exactly what they wanted and they did.” This is just soft-determinism, which is not demanded by the Bible, but by Calvinism.

        3. Come on, Matt. You asked me to provide some historical examples of when Calvinism created problems for evangelism in Baptist life. I provide them and then you dismiss them as not representative. How about just conceding a point. John Gill wasn’t a clown. He was a major Baptist theologian. If care is not exercised, the logical conclusions of Calvinism lead to hyper-Calvinism. The truth is, hyper-Calvinists are just being consistent with the system. I believe that one is not saved before he prays the sinner’s prayer and that he is saved after. You find this theologically objectionable? This is exactly my point.

        4. It would take me another hour to hammer through my take on downward causation, and it still won’t be satisfying to you. Nancey Murphy is not a panentheist. Her physicalism refers to her approach to the problem of mind-body dualism, not the problem of God’s relationship to the world. She isn’t denying the existence of a soul, she is just getting at the discussion of it in a different way. Downward causation and non-reductive physicalism can be used as the philosophical basis of naturalism, just as determinism can. That’s my point about you’re not being an atheist. Your determinism posits a non-contingent God, Murphy’s supervenience does as well. The reason I think downward causation is the way forward is because it conceives of the relationship between sovereignty and free will in whole new way that allows both realities function fully, rather than cheating on one or the other, which are the only options when the two are conceived of as problem. The reason Calvinists don’t like this proposition is not the specter of panentheism, but the threat to the Calvinistic system that demands determinism. It’s not that Calvinists can’t believe in libertarian free will. They don’t want to.

          Chris Roberts

          “I believe that one is not saved before he prays the sinner’s prayer and that he is saved after.”

          I assume you would be willing to elaborate on that? If all it took were praying the sinner’s prayer, we’d be paying people just to pray the prayer, then rejoicing that they were now brothers and sisters in Christ! In truth, this is what happens too often. I saw a situation much like this while out doing door-to-door evangelism. We found a receptive couple and the man I was with led them to the point of “praying the prayer”. They repeated his words, but there was no indication to me that they were doing anything other than being nice. But they prayed the prayer! So we got back in our car and the man said, “Praise the Lord! Two more souls added to the kingdom.” I appreciated his desire to see souls saved, but I saw no reason to believe these two had been saved. And yet this man walked away saying they were now believers. They no longer need evangelizing. And the two are left thinking they had been saved, so the next person who knocks on the door will hear, “Oh, we’re already Christian!”

          Sad to say, the couple never darkened the door of our – or best we could tell, any other – church. They prayed the prayer, but were not sinners falling to their feet before the Savior, calling out with repentance, pursuing Christ by faith. They remain lost, yet because they prayed the sinner’s prayer they might feel a comfort that is not really theirs.

          No theological system is immune from such issues, but many if not most of our simplistic evangelistic methods and church invitations make these issues much more likely.

          Matt

          Eric,

          You say, “You asked me to provide some historical examples of when Calvinism created problems for evangelism in Baptist life. I provide them and then you dismiss them as not representative. How about just conceding a point.” I thought I did concede that you were able to provide some; however, to say that these few are representitive of calvinists, especially after I pointed out Calvinists that were some of the greatest evangelists of all time, is rediculous. Let me apply this reasoning to your beliefs. Let’s see… Your belief that faith is something that originates within us and is exercised according to our free will; and that this faith determines whether or not God gets to do what He really wants in our lives (save us), leads to belief in the prosperity gospel. I can produce many more times the examples you can. proponents of the prosperity gospel share your belief in the origin and exercise of faith, they just extend it out to the idea that your faith can be applied to your health and wealth. Are they just being consisetent with your system? My point is that someone who ignores the great commission is deffinitely NOT representative of calvinism in that belief.

          As for the sinner’s prayer, we can tell people of man’s need for God and of reconciliation to God through the atonement of Christ, but a “repeat after me” prayer is nowhere in scripture. If there is sincere repentance for sins, a true love of God, gratitude for Christ’s atonement, and a new desire to please God then you can be sure a person has been spiritualy regenerated and is saved. Having someone repeat your words in a prayer with the understanding that they are now “saved” for repeating your prayer doesn’t create believers, it creates apostates. Preach the gospel and watch God work in hearts. Then you can invite people to come forward and profess thier new faith in God and altruistic desire to follow Him.

          As for downward causation and Nancey Murphy you say, “She isn’t denying the existence of a soul, she is just getting at the discussion of it in a different way.” No. I not only read this in something she wrote; I watched her make this very clear at the beginning of a video of one of her lectures. In fact, if she believed in a non-physical soul, she would not be a physicalist. As for being a panentheist, I did not see that exact term come from her, but from others describing her and certain other proponents of downward causation. If she believes in a non-physical spiritual being who created the universe then downward causation would be irrelivent. The problem would still exist: an omnicient, omnipotent Creator would certainly know all the results of His creation, whether or not some results were accomplished though bottom up or downward causation, and He would intentionaly bring those results about by initiating that creation.

          Believe me, the reason Calvinists don’t like anything involving panentheism is because it is not Christian. I in no way feel that Calvinism is threatened by downward causation. Downward causation is a theory constructed by non-christians, and if Christians believe that it can successfully be applied to human will in a way that proves libertarian free will, then they either do not understand or are in denial of thier origional problem. It is logicaly impossible for an omnicient, omnipotent God to create anything that can do something that He did not intend when He created.

          Matt

          Eric,

          Just let me retract my statement about conceding anything about any Calvinists being anti-evangelism. First of all, in response to your comments about John Gill and John brine, I want to say that alter calls are not part of the gospel and not having them in no way prevents the speading of God’s word. As for William Carey you say, “Calvinism was behind the opposition to William Carey.” I’m really glad you had to push your point about these guys, because it prompted me to do a little research on your claims. William Carey was a devout Calvinist who spoke against some hyper-calvinists and started the Baptist Missionary Society. This supports my point, not yours. Did you not know this? As for Daniel Parker you say, “Daniel Parker’s predestinarianism drove his anti-mission impulses.” No. I just finished reading his own words on the subject. He was not anti-missions he was anti-mission board. He claimed to be very supportive of the idea of a Baptist mission board at first, but on further investigation decided that a board that sends and directs missionaries is not found in or prescribed in scripture. He went on to plant 9 churches on the frontier in Texas, which was part of Mexico at the time, himself. Another fact that supports my point. Seriously Eric?

          Eric Hankins

          Matt,

          1. Your understanding of Murphy’s philosophy is just not very good. Watching videos and relying on second-hand reviews are not going to cut it. Read her book on physicalism (Bodies and Souls or Spirited Bodies) and Anglo-American philosophy carefully and then make an informed response. And then always remember that your determinism is based on “non-Christian” philosophy as well.

          2. Seeing Daniel Parker as a church planter and hero of evangelism is absolutely ridiculous. Viewing John Gill and John Brine as protectors of robust gospel evangelism is as well. William Carey was opposed by hyper-Calvinist John Ryland. These are facts of history. They function within a theological perspective distinct enought o be termed hyper-Calvinism. Is it representative? Thankfully, no. But the logic of the five points moves inexorably to that conclusion.

          3. The analogy: Calvinism is to hyper-Calvinism as libertarian free will is to the prosperity gospel is just not very good.

Tim G

Eric,
This is a masterpiece! Wonderful job on this! Thank you for taking the time to flesh this out so diligently!

Mike Davis

1. The Joseph story is not evidence of God’s meticulous foreordination

Yeah, that statement is bugging me too, Eric. Are you sure you meant to say that? You don’t hold to Open Theism do you?

    Eric Hankins

    Yes, I meant to say that. No, I don’t hold to Open Theism. You don’t believe God meticulously foreordains things like the Holocaust, do you?

      Chris Roberts

      You probably know the answer to that one already.

      D.R. Randle

      Eric,

      Do you believe that the Holocaust was more heinous in nature than the crucifixion of Jesus, the Son of God? And yet, clearly you affirm Acts 2:23 and Acts 4:28. What do you do with the destruction of the nation of Israel by the Babylonians (“For behold, I am raising up the Chaldeans… – Habakkuk 1:5-11)? What about Jesus claiming that He would bring destruction to the Jews in 70 A.D. and doing so through the Romans (Matt. 24; Mark 13)? It just seems you ignore those passages that don’t fit into your paradigm and instead choose to respond with “zingers” like the Holocaust. I don’t think this helps to forge the discussion ahead.

        Eric Hankins

        So, the holocaust is a “zinger”? It’s much more than that. It’s a massive problem for theological determinism. If it isn’t, then just say it: “Yes, God meticulously foreordained the Holocaust. It could not have been otherwise.” Examples like the Holocaust “don’t help forge the discussion” because it doesn’t help your case.

        I deny that God manifests his sovereignty through deterministic foreordination. He has created libertarian free will and it functions within his guidance of the cosmos to His intended conclusion for it. It must be so in order for real relationships to be possible. The Chaldeans weren’t robots, Joseph’s brothers weren’t robots, Jesus wasn’t a robot. God has an unstoppable plan for the cosmos. He is bringing it about in concert with free will because that is the kind of world He wanted. Is He not able?

          Mike Davis

          Could God have delivered Joseph from His brothers if He had wanted to just like He delivered David from Goliath? In fact, He did prevent Joseph from being killed by them, thwarting their original plan, so was He not in control even as the secondary causes were in play? Could God not have allowed Reuben to rescue Joseph? Did God foreordain what happened to Job? What about Matthew 24: 21, which describes a future tribulation worse than the world has ever seen? Is this part of God’s plan or not? Why does Jesus instruct believers to in verse 20 to pray concerning the timing of the event? Why pray if God is not in control, if He refuses to assert His sovereignty over the secondary causes of human will? Finally, are you seriously claiming the cross of Jesus was not God’s plan from all eternity? Seriously? It seems you have become so determined to argue against any restriction on human autonomy that you are putting forth some very extreme statements, even for a modified Arminian “off-the-grid” approach ;^) like yours.

          D.R. Randle

          Eric,

          You conveniently ignore clear Scriptural implications in order to continue to bang your libertarian free-will philosophical hammer. The funny thing is, I used to do the same thing in college before I was a Calvinist – I even said things like “I am not a robot.” Finally I realized that my philosophical leanings in no way compare to the clear teachings of Scripture. When all you have left for defense is philosophy you are standing on thin ground. The Scriptures are clear – if you can’t deal with them then just admit it and let’s move on, but throwing around philosophy as if that solves the issue of the clear teaching in Scripture that Christ suffered in accordance with God’s will, that Joseph as a type of Christ suffered according to God’s will, and that we, according to Peter, suffer at the hands of sinful men in accordance with God’s will, is just grasping at straws.

          Finally, why don’t you answer the foundational questions I asked, instead of trying to lay down a philosophical red herring?

          So answer the question Eric:

          1) Is the Holocaust a more heinous event than the crucifixion of the perfect Son of God?
          2) What do you do with the destruction of the nation of Israel by the Babylonians (“For behold, I am raising up the Chaldeans… – Habakkuk 1:5-11)?
          3) What about Jesus claiming that He would bring destruction to the Jews in 70 A.D. and doing so through the Romans (Matt. 24; Mark 13)?

          And yet, clearly God predestined those events to occur exactly as they came about – God’s sovereignty and compatibilistic free will clearly at work in one event.

          Eric, it’s time you put away your man-centered philosophy and bowed the knee to the clear teachings of Scripture. It’s freeing brother – I promise you that.

          abclay

          rrrrribet…

          rrrrrribet….

          rrrrrribet….

          Eric Hankins

          1. Mike Davis: Why pray if the fix is in? If everything is already decided, why does God speak to us as though our requests matter? In your view, he is just feeding us the lines. We’re actors on a stage.

          I am not saying that God is not in control of history. He purposed to save us through Christ and nothing could stop that. I am denying that He has to eliminate free will in order to bring His purposes about.

          D.L.: Anwer my question about the Holocaust and I’ll answer your questions. You’ve become overly snarky and you only answer questions that help your case, so I’m inclined to end the conversation with you. I think I’ve been pretty generous with my time through this process, and I’m not going to be given the back of the hand.

          D.R. Randle

          Eric,

          I have no problem affirming Scripture consistently – I will allow Scripture to speak as my answer:

          Is a trumpet blown in a city,
          and the people are not afraid?
          Does disaster come to a city,
          unless the LORD has done it?

          Amos 3:6

          Now, (and I say this sincerely) I understand why you are frustrated Eric – you are caught between your philosophy and the clear teaching of Scripture. So far you have chosen your philosophy, but I honestly think if you’d go back and read your responses and see that almost all of them are the same thing (we aren’t robots, choices must matter, etc.), you will see that you are operating not from a Scriptural standpoint, but a philosophical one. We aren’t called, Eric, to understand all of it, but we are called to believe Scripture. Those of us who are Calvinists didn’t come to this position through philosophy, but through clear Scriptures we had to deal with. And when we did so, we threw out our philosophical presuppositions in favor of more solid Scriptural views. Our hope is that you will do the same thing.

          Sorry that I was snarky at times – that wasn’t my intent and I apologize that it may have distracted from the Scriptural arguments. I did get a little loose in my language, but overall I do think I have built a solid Scriptural case that you simply can’t run away from. God predestined the crucifixion, just as He predestines our own suffering, just as He did with Joseph’s suffering. How that works with free will, I don’t understand. I simply believe Scripture and that’s good enough for me. I would rather error on the side of God’s sovereignty and be able to defend it Scripturally than error on the side of man’s libertarian free will and not be able to defend it Scripturally. A compatibalistic free will view isn’t perfect, but at least it’s a whole lot more Scriptural.

          Thanks for your time, but in the end, I don’t think you have made a convincing Scriptural argument, and to me and tons of other young adults – that’s the most important thing and that’s why we are convictional, historical Baptist Calvinists who love the BF&M and SBC and simply want to glorify God by showing Him to be absolutely sovereign and absolutely glorious.

          God bless.

          Eric Hankins

          D.L.

          You just can’t do it, can you? You still haven’t answered clearly a very simple question: “Did God meticulously foreordain the Holocaust for His glory?” You know that, because of your philosophical presuppositions, your answer is “Yes.” Why won’t you say it? I thought you guys were cool with a Great Big God who can do whatever He wants, but you seem a little embarrassed about this particular event in history. I thought this was a “robust” theological system, one that can be shouted from the roof-tops. So, let’s hear you shout it: “The Bible says, ‘God foreordains everything, including genocide! Nothing could have been done to stop it. Halelujah!'” I can’t say such a thing, not merely because I find it philosophically problematic, but because it is biblically impermissible.

          Until you are willing to own all of the implications of your system, I say your Calvinism does not offer a reliable way forward.

          D.R. Randle

          Eric,

          It’s kind of interesting that the difference between you and I is that Scripture is good enough for me, but it is not for you. I don’t have a philosophical system that I have to fit the Bible into. You do. That’s why you keep going back to philosophical arguments and non-Biblical scenarios, while all I have done is quote the Word of God and you get upset. That’s kind of telling, I think. None of us here who are Reformed are embarrassed of our position, but we think Scripture should speak for us. Since when is quoting Scripture insufficient?

          Again, here is what God’s Word says,

          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

          By the way, Eric, have you ever thought while railing about God’s role in the Holocaust that this same God commanded the Israelites to commit Canaanite genocide? How does that fit into your philosophy?

          “When the Lord your God brings you to the land that you are going to occupy and forces out many nations before you-Hittites, Girgashites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites, seven nations more numerous and powerful than you – and he delivers them over to you and you attack them, you must utterly annihilate them. Make no covenant with them nor show them compassion!

          Finally, Eric, your philosophical system is still deficient because of one fatal flaw – you still must recognize that at any time God could have prevented or stopped the Holocaust. So you are still not letting God off the hook, so to speak. Scripture clearly teaches that God does all that He wants (“The LORD does whatever pleases him, in the heavens and on the earth, in the seas and all their depths”). So in some sense it must have pleased Him to not stop it from occurring. And God had full knowledge beforehand that it was going to take place. God not acting to do something is still a conscious moral choice of His. At the very least it is still passive predestination. Even your philosophical system can’t solve that dilemma. So you are still no better off. Yet, I still have the clear teaching of Scripture to base my views on.

          Eric Hankins

          D.L.,

          Well, you didn’t technically say that God meticulously foreordained the Holocaust, but that’s what you mean. It’s still a mystery why you’re so uncomfortable saying it.

          I figured you throw up the Cannanite ban argument. Too bad it doesn’t work. The Canaanites were being judged for their sin, not systematically exterminated because of their ethnicity. It wasn’t genocide. It was their sinful use of their free will. This only works as an analogy for the Holocaust if you are saying that God was judging the Jews for their sinfulness. You’re not saying that, are you?

          Next, you go to the “God is still the cause in your system” argument: God didn’t prevent it, even though He knew about it and could stop it. But this doesn’t work either. God has determined that human choices matter and that there will be consequences for those choices, but that world is better and more pleasing to Him than a world of robots who cannot have a real relationship with Him (It also begs the question of why, if God meticulously foreordains everything, did He write a play (1) with so much suffering, devastation, and death and (2) with a plot that seems to indicate that at our actions do matter?). I know that my children will not scrape their knees if I never let them outside, but I am not the cause of their knee scraping if I do let them outside. In fact, if I lock them in a closet, they will never scrape their knees, but I have deprived them of life in any normal sense of the term because I have deprived them of freedom. This does not mean that I do not feel for them when they get hurt or that I do not pay the cost of their healing, even though they are to blame for their pain.

          The Holocaust was the end result of millions and millions of tiny rebellions against God. Pride, rejection of biblical authority, prejudice, cowardice, hatred, apathy, nationalism, murder, just to name a few. There were millions of opportunties for obedience, millions of opportunities to avert a self-inflicted cut so massive, we are still aching. But it was a mess we made, not God.

          What was God doing? Nothing? No, He was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself. What is God’s word and deed about the Holocaust? The cross and the empty tomb. “No matter what you do, no matter how deep the evil, I have entered in and overcome and I will put it right.”

          Now, would a robot-world with no free will and no Holocausts be better? Not to a Trinitarian God of relationship. He paid the highest price imaginable for this world and for its glorious, unstoppable conclusion.

          I’m afraid that it is the God of determinism who is the weak God, the unbiblical God. I heartily affirm every verse you’ve quoted above and your conclusion that God can do whatever He wants. He absolutely can. The question is, “What does He want”? What does the Bible say?: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” He has guided the cosmos to that central declaration of Scripture and actual free will is critical to that purpose. Determinism negates every word of that verse.

          D.R. Randle

          Eric,

          For someone who uses so much philosophy and so little Scripture, you don’t seem to understand the difference between hard-determinism and no free will of any kind (of which you claim every Calvinist holds to – I don’t by the way) and soft-determinism and compatibalistic free will.

          As for the Jews in the Holocaust and the Canaanites, both were indeed being judged for their sins – one directly, the other indirectly. In fact, every single evil event in the world that takes place is a judgment for sin. All of it happens because of sin. And neither group was innocent in their suffering. The same is true of Christ’s judgment on the Jews in A.D. 70 by the Romans and God’s judgment on the Jews through the Babylonians and the Assyrians, which He, Himself, declared to come about in the Prophets (I’ve already posted those Scriptures and you ignored them).

          Now, let me address your premise that “God has determined that human choices matter and that there will be consequences for those choices, but that world is better and more pleasing to Him than a world of robots who cannot have a real relationship with Him.”

          The problem here is that God often does not allow the consequences of human sin to come about, does He? He doesn’t allow His creatures to make free choices. He limits their will considerably:

          The LORD brings the counsel of the nations to nothing; He frustrates the plans of the peoples (Psalm 33:10).

          He frustrates the devices of the crafty, so that their hands achieve no success. He catches the wise in their own craftiness, and the schemes of the wily are brought to a quick end. They meet with darkness in the daytime and grope at noonday as in the night. But he saves the needy from the sword of their mouth and from the hand of the mighty. So the poor have hope, and injustice shuts her mouth (Job 5:12-16).

          And that’s not to mention how God prevents the works of both Pharaoh and Sennacherib by sending the death angels.

          So again your philosophy doesn’t explain why God chooses to allow genocide in one instance, but providentially blocks it in another. Why does He make the choice to allow it to occur in the Holocaust, yet prevent it elsewhere? I actually can explain it through 2 Calvinistic principles:

          1) That God’s chief end is His own glory and all that He predestines both actively and passively aligns with His will and His purposes.

          2) Compatibilism

          Sorry, Eric, but holding to a Libertarian free will view cannot explain why God allows some tragedies because He “determined that human choices matter and that there will be consequences for those choices” and yet at the same time has “determined that human choices [DON’T] matter and that there will [NOT] be consequences for those choices.” Either your view teaches a schizophrenic God or there is a different, more Biblically faithful choice – namely compatibilism.

          In that way, God is the most free Being in the universe (as it should be) and everything that happens is brought about after the counsel of His will – whether that be the salvation of His people or even genocide.

Les Puryear

Eric,

Let me say that this series is brilliant! You have articulated the Baptist position very clearly. Thank you for taking the time to write this wonderful series.

Leslie Puryear

    Chris Roberts

    He has articulated what some Baptists believe, not the Baptist position. Baptists hold no monolithic position on this issue.

      Joshua

      Chris,

      Now don’t you go trampling on these fine men and their Baptist Identityism. :)

      Eric Hankins

      90% of Baptist pastors are not Calvinists.

        Chris Roberts

        And yet it remains that Baptists hold no monolithic position on this issue. There are views held by the majority, but this is not one of the topics seen as separating Southern Baptists from non-Southern Baptists

        D.R. Randle

        Eric,

        What exactly is this supposed to prove in regards to your contention that you are advocating “the Baptist soteriology”. There was a time when 90% of the SBC held to slavery as being moral as well – yet we certainly shouldn’t claim that was the Baptist view. The soteriological pendulum swings back and forth. It’s swinging to Calvinism again. Suggesting that there is a “Baptist” soteriology simply because that is the majority view on April 25, 2012 is historical myopia.

          Eric Hankins

          D.R.,

          I am proving that since 90% of pastors aren’t Calvinists and about the same number aren’t Arminians, they must believe something else about the nature of soteriology. This non-Calvinism fits a 100 year-old trend, so it’s not some momentary spike or aberration. So, I believe that it is legitimate to call this the Baptist position.

          Now, until recently, the Baptist position I am articulating included a very friendly and open attitude toward Calvinists, who were not interested in making Calvinism a first order issue, who didn’t say things like, “Calvinism is the theological future.” That kind of talk puts the 90% of us in the position of choosing to go with you or stand against you. We’ve been fine with having Calvinism exist peacefully within a soteriological pluralism, but the New Calvinists are not fine with that.

          You guys want to have it both ways. You want to argue on one side that Calvinism is the founders’ position, the truly Baptist position, the one we should believe. Then you want to argue that there is no monolithic position, like that is a good thing that you agree with. Which is it?

          Bob Hadley

          DR

          You wrote, “The soteriological pendulum swings back and forth. It’s swinging to Calvinism again. Suggesting that there is a “Baptist” soteriology simply because that is the majority view on April 25, 2012 is historical myopia.”

          The soteriological position of a vast majority of pastors and people in the pew today in the SBC is unquestionably non-calvinist. That is a FACT. You may be correct that the pendulum is indeed trying to swing in favor of calvinism. I would suggest that it may be a little early to celebrate.

          Eric is 100% correct in his statement that we have had a very friendly and open attitude toward calvinists who were not interested in making calvinism a “first order issue.” The problem has risen, just as it did with the liberals in the 70’s, when calvinism was moved to position its theological tenets as a “first order issue” that needs to redefine The Gospel and correct the theological misgivings of the last 100 years or so, then we have a serious problem and there is no “free pass”.

          ><>”

          Debbie Kaufman

          Where did anyone who was converted in scripture pray the prayer? No one that I can read about. I believe one can be hearing a message or a testimony, believe in Christ and be eternally saved. No prayer no walking down the aisle. But belief, that is what saves.

          volfan007

          Debbie,

          Is anyone saying that saying a prayer saves anyone? Just saying a prayer doesnt save a single person. Of course, it takes repentance and faith…Acts 20:20-21. But, are you saying that prayer is not the way to ask the Lord to come into your life as your Lord and Savior?

          Romans 10:9-10 and 13 seems pretty clear to me…and, there are many other passages in the Bible, which talk about calling on the Lord. Is not calling on the Lord in faith, prayer? Aint that what prayer is?

          I agree with you, and Platt, that just saying a prayer wont save anyone. Easy believism has led many people astray. We must surrender our lives to Christ, in faith. We must turn to Jesus with all of our hearts, and pur our faith in His cross, for our salvation. But, calling on the Lord is Biblical.

          David

          D.R. Randle

          Eric,

          You prove my point about historical myopia with this point:

          I am proving that since 90% of pastors aren’t Calvinists and about the same number aren’t Arminians, they must believe something else about the nature of soteriology. This non-Calvinism fits a 100 year-old trend, so it’s not some momentary spike or aberration. So, I believe that it is legitimate to call this the Baptist position.

          Even if I were to give you the “100 year-old trend”, which is hard to concede given that there was still a large swath of Calvinist churches and pastors well into the 1930’s – as well as the fact that the BF&M 1925 was based on a moderately Calvinistic statement of faith (one that would have disagreed with much you have written here) – you still have about 275 years of Baptist history to content with.

          So you are really claiming that because only 90% of 1/4 of Baptist history (our current state) holds to a soteriology, it is “The Baptist Soteriology”? That is the very definition of historical myopia! So what if in another 100 years the SBC is 90% Calvinistic? Would you say it would be legitimate to claim that Calvinism represents “The Baptist Soteriology” then?

          Now, at the end you go and put words in folks’ mouths. You are painting folks like me with a broad brush based on the comments (some taken out of context) of a few people. That’s unfair and ad hominems are beneath a person with a Ph.D. Let’s be sensible Eric instead of trying to paint one another in the worst possible light?

          I, nor anyone I know who is Reformed in the SBC, is trying to “make Calvinism a first order issue” – many of us are just trying to survive and keep our jobs, while many non-Calvinists are trying to get us fired from Churches and institutions of higher learning based on false accusations and conspiracy theories. I don’t know of any Calvinists who are trying to do that same thing.

          As for soteriology being monolithic, absolutely it is not. I have never made that claim, but neither should you. Just because someone does, it does not give you the right to do the same thing. It makes both of you wrong. Pointing at another person and saying, “Well, he did wrong too!” is so 4th grade Eric. Seriously, again, so beneath a guy with a Ph.D.

          So let’s be respectful Eric and not make claims that either one of us is setting forth “The Baptist Soteriology”. Why not allow cooler heads to prevail and try to work with your brothers and sisters instead of using the same tactics you are claiming they are using? If you really are trying to help, why not do so, instead of just ramping up the rhetoric with more false accusations and broad brush painting? Because in the end, the whole “he started it” argument is tired, weak, and terribly immature. We as Christian brothers and sisters should be better than that. Don’t you agree?

          Eric Hankins

          D.R.

          1. Uh, yes. If in a hundred years, the SBC is 90% Calvinist, then that will be the Baptist position. You yourself admit that 1925 BF&M is “moderately Calvinistic,” not Refomed like the founders, but “moderately Calvinistic.” So, the Baptist position in 1925 was “moderately Calvinistic.” What was it 2000? Not even moderately Calvinistc. The language had shifted even further from Calvinism. The statement left room for Calvinists, and no one was pushing the issue. I don’t know why you can’t seem to follow the logic, except that it doesn’t help the case you want to make.

          2. Did the New Calvinists start conferences and church planting networks because they were being excluded from Convention life? Because there was some anti-Calvinist juggernaut? No. They started these things because they feel that Reformed theology is of first importance, that non-Calvinism won’t do. They wanted to fellowship with others who don’t think Baptist distinctives are of first importance, but who do think Reformed theology is of first importance. These same people are leaders and employees of a Convention that does not share this viewpoint and has been moving steadily away from it for some time. Again, why you cannot see that this is going to become problematic is a mystery to me.

          3. New Calvinism is pushing for Reformed theology as a first order matter in the SBC and you are not paying attention if you think otherwise. This position is not that of some lunatic fringe. It is the position of Mohler, Dever, Platt, and Chandler, for starters. They are on the record. T4G is on the record. If you don’t think it should be made into a first order matter, then (1) start voicing that opinion much louder than you. Let’s here a nice contructively critical statement from you about your concerns about what Mohler et al are saying. And (2) stop trying to make the argument that we’ve always been Calvinists because, unless you are trying to make the case that we should return to this as a matter of first importance, it is kind of a moot point. We used to be very Calvinistic a long time ago. The vast majority of us are not now. End of story. Nobody was saying that you couldn’t advocate Reformed theology until you guys started low-rating non-Calvinism.

          4. I defy you to name one false accusation that I have made. Let’s hear it.

          D.R. Randle

          Eric,

          Allow me to respond by number:

          1) That doesn’t make sense. Why describe something as “the Baptist Soteriology” when it could shift dramatically in a matter of years? Why not label it something more sensible like – “A Baptist Soteriology that Most non-Calvinists scholars of the SBC hold to” – that would be a much more accurate statement than “The Baptist Soteriology.” I don’t think it’s logical, thus I don’t follow it.

          2) Actually, for my response to this one let me skip down to #4 – you say, “I defy you to name one false accusation that I have made. Let’s hear it.” My answer? Pretty much the entirety of #2. Reformed conferences weren’t started to make Calvinism a first priority issue. That’s your false assertion and conclusion. They were started to help guys with similar views fellowship together and hear the Pastors they most wanted to hear – guys they weren’t hearing all together anywhere else. Besides, it’s not like these guys came up with the idea of a conference on their own. There have been tons of conferences that Baptists have participated in over the years. There was just a Premillennial Dispensational conference here in GA a year or so ago. Would you say the same thing about them – that it was started because they “wanted to fellowship with others who don’t think Baptist distinctives are of first importance, but who do think [Dispensational] theology is of first importance”? Of course you wouldn’t. That would be silly.

          It seems you have started with a premise – “New Calvinists think that Calvinism is of first priority” and instead of defending it with clear statements where SBC Calvinists have said that, you have joined the anti-Calvinists in the SBC in constructing conspiracy theories like the one above. You have taken Mohler’s and others’ words and dissected them and made them say what you want them to. I mean seriously, you are a mover and a shaker in the SBC, have you ever actually considered calling Al Mohler and asking him what he thinks? It’s not like he wouldn’t return your phone call. In fact, I would almost guarantee he would.

          But instead, you refer to those boogiemen who are out there (who you never truly define or pinpoint) and say “they” feel like that. Well who is “they” – name them and show clear evidence of them saying it, which bring us to:

          3) You say, “New Calvinism is pushing for Reformed theology as a first order matter in the SBC and you are not paying attention if you think otherwise.” Eric, again a false accusation. Prove it! And not by saying “that’s why they started the conferences, that’s what Mohler is implying (as if you know his heart without asking him), that’s what “they” believe. Show some clear proof of an influential SBC leader saying anything similar to “Calvinism is a first priority belief”.

          You go on to say, “This position is not that of some lunatic fringe. It is the position of Mohler, Dever, Platt, and Chandler, for starters. They are on the record. T4G is on the record.”

          This is another false accusation. First, of all it’s laughable about Platt – his mentor is Jim Shaddix! Do you even know Platt? Seriously? That’s crazy.

          As for Mohler, he is on the record in regard to his Theological Triage that Calvinism and non-Calvinism in the SBC is a third tier issue. He can’t claim it to be first tier if he places it in the third tier on his triage, unless you are suggesting that Mohler is a liar. And have you actually read the Affirmations and Denials of T4G – almost every single Baptist would heartily agree with them. And that’s their statement of faith in regard to what speakers are chosen – what speakers the attendees want to see – attendees like myself who cooperate with non-Calvinist Southern Baptists more often than with Calvinist ones.

          Still, even if T4G’s statement was thoroughly Calvinistic that in no way means that Mohler, et al is trying to elevate Calvinism to a first order issue. It just means that for the sake of those gathered, who have desired to hear from Reformed speakers, they will seek those that the attendees want.

          Finally, as for speaking out, people have spoken out – it is you who are not listening. Plenty of Calvinist leaders have said over and over again, “I will cooperate together with other Southern Baptists within the confines of the BF&M and the BF&M alone.” In fact, Resolutions written by Calvinists are currently in committee for this year’s SBC that state that very thing.

          Eric, no matter how much you put your fingers in your ears and scream “the Calvinists hate us” it’s not true. I cooperate every day with non-Calvinists. I have been the Vice-President and President of my local association’s Minister’s Conference. I have been vice-moderator. And I’m on about 3 different committees right now. And in almost every capacity I have worked hand in hand with a majority of non-Calvinists. And most of these guys have worked with me and know I am a Calvinist. And the thing about that is that every other “new” Calvinist in our association and every other association I know around here is exactly like me in that regard. I’m no anomaly.

          So while you can try to claim that I am not paying attention, I think based on my experience, I am probably paying more attention that the conspiracy theory guys. I actually attend T4G and the Gospel Coalition. I actually lived in Louisville for 3 years while attached to a Church where mostly Seminary students attended. I am on the inside of this movement. And it appears that guys like you who are on the outside just simply are refusing to listen to folks like me and then have the wherewithall to tell me I am not paying attention. That’s just crazy.

          Here’s the bottom line – Calvinism in the SBC isn’t going away. It’s on the upswing. But if guys like you continue to make false accusations about guys like me, it’s only going to cause further division and heartache for the SBC. If that’s what you want, then fine – you can have it. But don’t try to blame guys like me when you wonder where all the future leaders went. I am cooperating – why aren’t you?

          Bob Hadley

          DR

          If I were to read your last post here… is it your contention that the calvinist influence in the seminaries just happened; that calvinist seminarians just happened to cluster around certain seminaries and NAMB just happens to be calvinist sympathetic and Lifeway just happened to be Reformed in its leaning… is that what you are saying?

          That is like the Big Bang Theory in the SBC. These things did not just happen out of logical osmosis. Get your heard out of the sand friend and own up to the truth that there are those who have been following the money in the entities of the SBC and are now using those entities to attempt to influence the direction of the future of the SBC.

          I say that in a highly complimentary manner. My hat is off to those who have guided this revival. They have been infinitely more successful than the liberals were a few decades ago. I am not sure the tide can be turned. I believe it can be but only time will tell.

          ><>”

          Eric Hankins

          D.R.

          You asked for proof that New Calvinists beleive that it is the only way forward for the next generation, that it is essentially the key to biblical understanding. If you have about 12 minutes, take a gander at this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T6lRMMvNCn8. It’s posted by the Gospel Coalition, so it’s not edited or tinkered with to change the message. It’s Mohler, Duncan, and DeYoung chatting about how New Calvinism is the key to the future, that TG4 is about moving past second order issue and coming to the core-Reformed theology, which is a recovery of the gospel.

          Eric Hankins

          My bad. The video in the post above is one that is edited. This is the one posted by the Gospel Coalition:

    Eric Hankins

    Thanks, Leslie!

Kevin Burden (Rev Kev)

Bro. Eric, All four parts of your article is absolutely excellent. Had to pull out my theological dictionary a couple of times, but totally agree. This needs to be published and on the shelves at Lifeway. It would be great to put it in the hands of every Bible college/seminary student attending SBC funded schools. God bless you!

Lydia

“So when the Founders group speaks of “recovering the Gospel,” Al Mohler speaks of New Calvinism as the only real option for young pastors, Joshua Breland avers that many key leaders within evangelicalism think most Southern Baptists are semi-Pelagian, Matt Chandler leads a church planting network that makes Reformed commitment non-negotiable, etc., we’re supposed to assume that New Calvinists merely want a seat at the table and are “all good” with non-Calvinism?”

And then they speak of “unity”. It is cognative dissonance at it’s most obvious. Their leader, Mohler, says if you want to see the nations rejoice for Christ then NC/Reformed is the only place for people to go. That is unity from an SBC employee? I am told that when Mohler said this, he was basing it on me being a Calvinist and not knowing it since some “founders” were Calvinist. But they were also pro slavery. So not sure why that matters.

    Debbie Kaufman

    Lydia: Founders hasn’t said a word for almost 2 years. Al Mohler has been friends with Patterson for many years he has been in the SBC. Why is it instead of sticking to talking about what scripture says, it comes down to this?

    Where in all the history of the Convention have Calvinists specifically tried to take over as you claim? Nowhere that I see. Both have worked together just fine until some who love to fight ran out of things to fight about and years later it is Calvinists who are the target. Look at past blogs in just the past six years, look at our history. It has just been now that everything else has been fought against that Calvinists are in the rifle range target site. It will be something else in a few years.

    Yes some were pro-slavery just as some non-Calvinists were pro-slavery. Both were wrong, but I do not believe their doctrine was wrong. That according to what I read in scripture, they got right.

    It’s just so interesting how the fighting few have come around to fighting the very thing they have basically used to get to the point they are right now. They used Calvinists for their gain of power, now they are turning on the very people that helped them gain that power.

      Lydia

      . “Lydia: Founders hasn’t said a word for almost 2 years. Al Mohler has been friends with Patterson for many years he has been in the SBC.”

      Debbie, I will be the first to admit I have no idea what the above is supposed to mean or prove.

      ” Why is it instead of sticking to talking about what scripture says, it comes down to this?”

      People are talking about scripture and they disagree as to interpretation. I believe that was pointed out concerning Romans (and other passages) earlier as an example of such differences.

      “Where in all the history of the Convention have Calvinists specifically tried to take over as you claim? Nowhere that I see. Both have worked together just fine until some who love to fight ran out of things to fight about and years later it is Calvinists who are the target. Look at past blogs in just the past six years, look at our history. It has just been now that everything else has been fought against that Calvinists are in the rifle range target site. It will be something else in a few years.”

      Debbie, this is typical of any movement. Once the battle is won it turns inward. I honestly believe we would have been fine if some of our leaders did not make such declarative statements such as here is ONE example: If one wants to see nations rejoice for Christ then Reformed/NC is the only place they can go.

      And that is just ONE.

      An employee of the SBC said this. I also think we would have been much better off without our associations with Acts 29 and CJ Mahaney. Mahaney is an “Apostle” from the “People of Destiny” which morphed into SGM and is heavy into the “shepherding movement”. Mohler obviously supports such a structure as he had made very public statements supporting him and his “strong leadership”. This is frightening to me.

      “Yes some were pro-slavery just as some non-Calvinists were pro-slavery. Both were wrong, but I do not believe their doctrine was wrong. That according to what I read in scripture, they got right.”

      You missed the inconvenient point. Much is made of the fact that we started out as Calvinists or have Calvinist roots and they are simply going back to those roots. My point is that our roots are pro-slavery, too, so not sure that is a good argument for us going “back to Calvinism”. In fact, it only pointed me to study up on our founding and reading Broadus’ bio of Boyce which was interesting to say the least.

      “It’s just so interesting how the fighting few have come around to fighting the very thing they have basically used to get to the point they are right now. They used Calvinists for their gain of power, now they are turning on the very people that helped them gain that power.”

      I have no idea what this is supposed to mean but it sounds very silly. I suppose the non Calvinist could claim they were used, too? Not sure how such a position is

        Debbie Kaufman

        Lydia: You brought up a long paragraph on Founders who hasn’t said much at all in a couple of years, I responded to that, then you cry why don’t we stick to scripture. Oh brother Lydia. I love scripture and would be glad to stick to it, but that doesn’t seem to be what you did at all in your comment. Instead you take issues so far back and bring them out as if they are in the present to have something to yell about. I was simply pointing out that Tom Ascol and Founders have been silent on this issue.

          Lydia

          Debbie, I have never understood your reasoning and still don’t. :o)

        Debbie Kaufman

        What battle? The only time battle was done, were from those who began to cry throw the Calvinists out. I don’t even know why I respond. Sometimes people are silent because it’s the wise thing to do. Responding just brings on more rhetoric and battle. I should follow that move actually. Talking seems to be no good. You guys are going to believe what you believe and battle no matter what. This time it is Calvinism, next time something else. It’s always going to be a battle. I for one am tired of it. It ‘s hampering the reason for the SBC which is missions.

        We’ve got much deeper problems than Calvinism. Some you have mentioned such as the beating of the flock by CJ Mahaney and Mark Driscoll, which has to do with power and control and not anything to do with the doctrine of Calvinism or Calvinists.

        The corruption and sin of pedophilia that is sweeping our denomination as big as the RCC scandal if not bigger. These are the things we need to discuss but are not.

Debbie Kaufman

Erik: I do appreciate your willingness to interact. You are the only one who does this to this extent and I for one appreciate and respect you for it. The only way we are going to work through all of this is through dialogue. I belong to a wonderful church where both Calvinists and non-Calvinists are members. I have been there 20 years, and trust me when I say that we have had differences in theology, but we all love each other and get along. We have had the same minister for those 20 years I have been there. It can be done.

    Debbie Kaufman

    I might also add that we are a church of over 2200 members. Yet Calvinists and non-Calvinists get along and there has been no one wanting to take over whatsoever, and both views are taught. Sometimes side by side. It’s great!

      Eric Hankins

      Debbie,

      What would happen if your pastor stepped the pulpit and said, “New Calvinism is the only viable theological option for the next generation. That’s the direction we need to head. We are going to support Reformed only church planting networks that plant Reformed only churches.” Is everybody going to feel good about that?

        D.R. Randle

        Eric,

        That’s hilarious! You don’t know who Debbie’s pastor is, do you? Haha.

          Eric Hankins

          D.R.,

          I understand that you’re just trying to needle me in order to get me to post something that you can exploit. But I’m not going to bite.

          I’ll just keep at it, because your position is just incredibly weak. You know good and well what my point was in posing that question to Debbie. Soteriological plurality can exist in a church (as it does in mine) until a leader stands up and says one view is out-moded and problematic. Such an act is disunifying on its face. So it is with the leaders of a convention.

          Bob Hadley

          DR

          Your own argument here is ridiculous as well. Your own contention, “until a leader stands up and says one view is out-moded and problematic” is actually a major part of the problem in this whole mess. Card carrying calvinists are every day crying out that the SBC has it wrong where the gospel is concerned. The Sbc needs to return to its theological roots. All Southern Baptists are really calvinists, whether they know it or not. The only real logical reason anyone would not be Reformed is because they are ignorant of what the Bible says.

          I would say by your own admission, leaders “standing up and saying one view is indeed out-moded and problematic.” That is the first statement I have ready of yours that I can wholeheartedly agree with. Now… one other small tidbit. There was no turmoil of any significance over this issue UNTIL these leaders made it a “first order issue” in the SBC. Otherwise, we would not even be having this discussion.

          ><>”

          D.R. Randle

          Dude,

          You are a seriously paranoid guy. It was an innocuous comment. Chill out.

          D.R. Randle

          Bob,

          Uhh…that was Eric’s comment, not mine. That’s pretty funny.

          Debbie Kaufman

          DR: :)

        Bob Hadley

        I smiled on that one too.

        ><>”

        Debbie Kaufman

        Eric: That simply would not happen so I don’t know how to answer this. I would be against it. I love those who are in our church too much to see them pushed out. But again, that is so hypothetical in our church that I don’t quite know how to answer.

    Debbie Kaufman

    I’m sorry that should be Eric. Not Erik.

      volfan007

      I’d say that most of the people that you see commenting in this blog are willing to get along with Calvinists….to co-exist peacefully. I’m one of them.

      But, a lot of us feel that thats not the intent of the New Calvinists. They make their Calvinism a matter of fellowship. When you have entity heads claiming that Calvinism is the only real option of intellectual belief, and you have T4G conferences, which is all reformed, and Southern giving their students class credit to attend it. Also, I believe that Trevin Wax is the head of this thing, and he is in charge of the new “Gospel Project” SS material, where all reformed people are on the advisory board..two of which are not even Southern Baptists! Then, when you see the inroads that Mark Driscoll has, speaking frequently at Southeastern, and at other places. And, we see NAMB sponsoring Acts 29 Church plants, even featuring them in their magazine….Acts 29 where you have to reformed to even be a part of it….and, where Elder Ruled Churches are strongly encouraged. And, there are many other things, which I just dont have the time to go into at the moment.

      But, yes, there’s a lot of us, out here, who think that the New Calvinists would not be for getting along….not really. Oh, they might allow us to stay in the SBC. But, I cannot see the New Calvinists sending anyone, who’s not a Calvinist, to the mission field. I cant see them putting any New Calvinists on any SBC boards and committees. I cant even see any New Calvinists hiring non-Calvinists to teach theology in the seminaries and schools, which they control. I’m sorry, but I just dont see that happening.

      I’d imagine that the SBC would start looking more like Acts 29 and the T4G Conference….only Reformed allowed.

      David

        volfan007

        That should read “non-Calvinists on any SBC boards…” not “New Calvinists.”

        Also, I forget to bring in the new move by Sovereign Grace Ministries, moving to Louisville. And, planning on hooking up with Southern on some things????

        I’m sorry, Debbie, but a lot of us feel that we would NOT be welcome in an SBC controlled by New Calvinists and their friends.

        David

        D.R. Randle

        David,

        So much of this is based on suspicion, conjecture, and bias. You have no concrete evidence, yet you let your emotions get the best of you and join others wanting to kick Calvinists out of the SBC. It’s a sad day when we made decisions based on our feelings rather than giving our brothers and sisters the benefit of the doubt and believing them when they clearly state they want cooperation. It seems we are trying to return to a time when “Everyone did what was right in his own eyes”.

          Lydia

          Well David, I guess that is about as low as it can get. You are “emotional” and base your beliefs on your “feelings”. (can you hear that song in your head now…..feelings…oooooo feelings…). Just like a girl! I bet your throw like one, too!

          Of course we know DR never operates out of emotion. His comments are never agressive or condescending. ( like Driscoll). Know why? He gets to decide the standards for such things. (wink)

          This “emotion” tactic is learned in seminary class: Calvinist Combatic/Guerilla Apologetics 101.

        Debbie Kaufman

        David: I don’t see that being the case, but I will tell you this and mean it. If Calvinism were the test of fellowship and the New Calvinists have this as their goal, I would totally stand against them on this. One person like myself doesn’t really matter. But there would be no way I would be for this and I don’t blame you for standing against it.

          volfan007

          Debbie,

          Thank you.

          David

Scotty

Eric, I will give you this. I have heard what I thought were exaggerations from some Calvinists who would say that non-Calvinists believed in a “frustrated God.” You are the first real, flesh-and-blood one to actually claim it.

“The story of God’s relationship with humankind is fraught with frustration, sadness, and wrath on God’s part, not because humans are incapable of a faith response, but because they are capable of it, yet reject God’s offer of covenant relationship anyway.”

Brother, I don’t care what your soteriological persuasion is, it is a failure of Biblical theology to associate the word “frustrated” with God. I hope you will correct that because if that is really your perception of the Almighty I think you have a bigger problem than a difference of opinion with Calvinists.

    Ron

    Scotty,
    Forty years of wilderness wandering …a golden bull worshipped and all the whining to go back to Egypt. Our God is longsuffering …yes…there has been saddness and frustration in this relationship.

      Scotty

      Ron,

      God may be sad (although I would not try to argue it) but He is not ever frustrated! From Webster –
      1.
      a : to balk or defeat in an endeavor b : to induce feelings of discouragement in
      2.
      a (1) : to make ineffectual : bring to nothing (2) : impede, obstruct b : to make invalid or of no effect

      Which of those are you willing to impute to God?

    Eric Hankins

    Scotty,

    Here’s an illustration of what I mean by God’s frustration: Genesis 6:6 “The Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart.” I mean “frustration” in the affective sense, heart-break. God’s disappointment and grief over humanity is a constant theme of Scripture.

      Ron

      Eric,
      I could not have said it better! :)

        Scotty

        Eric,

        I like “frustration in the affective sense” even less. It suggests that external deprivation creates internal conflict. No matter what adjective you attach to frustration it demeans the character of God. You citation of Genesis 6 only reveals that you take the mystery of God in His dealing with sinners and make Him into a more human god whose responses are more familiar to us. The further you take this the further you go from the Biblical revelation of God. Apparently Ron understands this perfectly, but I certainly don’t. Lest you think this is just my obsession I would suggest that you consult a theologian of your own choosing and ask if they are comfortable attributing “frustration” in any sense to God.

          Ron

          So Scotty … Can God be grieved?

        Scotty

        Ron,

        If you take “grieve” in the Biblical sense of course He can because Scripture says so. What does that even remotely have to do with being frustrated? Rather than diversion to other questions consider the reality of what is being ascribed to God when, in any sense, you suggest that He is frustrated.

          Scotty

          Just for added thought:

          “Almighty God, just because He is all mighty, needs no support. The picture of a nervous God fawning over men to win their favor is not a pleasant one. Yet if we look at the popular conception of God, that is precisely what we see. Twentieth-century Christianity has put God on charity. So lofty is our opinion of ourselves that we find it quite easy to believe that we are necessary to God. Probably the hardest thought of all for our natural egotism to entertain is that God does not need our help. We commonly represent Him as a busy, eager, somewhat frustrated Father, hurrying about seeking help to carry out His benevolent plan to bring peace and salvation to the world. Too many missionary appeals are based upon this fancy frustration of God. An effective speaker can easily excite pity in his hearers, not only for the heathen, but for the God who has tried so hard and so long to save them and has failed for lack of support.”

          abclay

          Scotty,

          It seems that some people have a tremendous problem letting God be God.

          Who wants to worship a weak, frustrated god that is continuously wringing his hands over what humans may or may not do?

          Silliness.

          volfan007

          AB,

          I dont think I’ve read anywhere where someone was saying that God is weak and wringing His hands over what humans will do.

          God is sovereign God, who is accomplishing His will and purposes. He is rolling out of eternity like a steamroller. And, humans can either get on the steamroller, and go with God; or else, they can resist and be run over.

          But, just because man has a free will, doesnt lesson God’s sovereignty and power and strength. In fact, it makes God more sovereign and powerful and strong for Him to give man free will, and still bring His purposes and plans to pass. That…is a great, big God, Who is bigger than our comprehension and understanding!

          David

Debbie Kaufman

David: As you know I am not a Mark Driscoll fan by any means, nor am I for the SGM. The abuse that occurs in these churches is beyond description and the hurt people from these abuses is in the hundreds so far. That is too many. I still believe in the doctrine however, I just don\\\’t see the Bible saying anything else when read as a whole.

I also think you are wrong in that non-Calvinists are in positions at the table along with non-Calvinists and certainly Bryan Wright, Ed Stetzer, and Fred Luter to name a few among many are not Calvinist. Time will tell of course, but I do not think the goal of the new Calvinists are to take over but to work together toward the same goal. Non-Calvinists are missionaries along with Calvinists who are missionaries. That is currently the case. I don\\\’t think that will change at all. I think you will be more pleasantly surprised than not.

The thing I am against in both Fundamentalist and some current Calvinist churches such as Driscoll, Noble, SGM, are the abuses and the way out interpretations on scripture concerning tithing and women. In those two areas there is no difference between the Fundamentalists and these men. Ditto on spiritual abuses.

Jerry Vines

Dr. Hankins. Thank you for this excellent series of articles. Your dad sent them to me earlier. Hopefully they will make it clear that we are not required to pick neither the Calvinist nor the Arminian path. Jerry Vines

Jerry Vines

Forgive my careless grammar. I should have written, “Hopefully they will make it clear we are not required to pick either the Calvinist or Arminian path.” I am an old schooler trying to navigate what all the young guys find so easy!

    Eric Hankins

    Thanks, Dr. Vines!

    Debbie Kaufman

    Dr. Vines: You are correct, no they are not. But neither can one push the other out nor refuse to give them a seat at the table. Neither can a Calvinist or non-Calvinist say one system is dominant over the other in the SBC. Both are SBC. That is my main concern. Not whether one embraces the Calvinist position or not. But the fact that both should have a voice. Both should be a big part of the SBC. According to your past John 3:16 conferences, you disagree with that. I hope that has or will change.

Lydia

“Do you believe that Al Mohler and Matt Chandler and others have nefarious motives in mind, hoping to rid the SBC of non-Calvinists?”

No way. If they got rid of the non Calvinists, there would be very little money for the GBC. I think they want to convince people they really are Calvinists and don’t know it. :o)

Lydia

“You say, “His sovereignty is on display as people exercise their free will.” According to your view this is the same as saying: His sovreignty is on display where it is not. You will never convince me that choosing not to be sovreign is actually more sovreign than being sovreign.”

LOL!!

And this comment above sums up my view of what Calvinism is really all about: God is not Sovereign over His own Sovereignty.

Lydia

“But that is a local church issue, and each church is autonomous and can determine how they cooperate. ”

And that brings up another problem. SBC funded church plants like Acts 29 and possibly SGM style churches (as I believe that is where it is going) would be autonomous after we have funded them with part SBC money. They would then be free to beat the sheep in their shepherding authoritarian-style churches as MH and SGM have done. I am opposed to funding spiritual abuse.

Ron

Eric,

I know this is the last in a 4-part series, but by the outpouring of comments, questions, and straightforward answers … I think “the people” are crying for more.

Great job!

abclay

Eric,

Thank you for being generous with your time throughout this series in answering questions and concerns that your brothers and sisters in Christ have been asking about your positions.

    Eric Hankins

    Thank you. By and large, it’s been a very useful experience for me, and hopefully, at the very least, it’s defined some of the parameters of the debate. I know that people who contribute to blog interchanges tend to be a bit more intense than than the average person and that blogging offers a measure of anonymity that makes it easy to be harsh, but, beyond the rhetorical flourishes, is the stark reality that the paradigm of non-Calvinism and the paradigm of New Calvinism are incompatible. Unless we just agree to disagree and let the debate recede back into the theological background (which I think is a really good option), then the only option left is for the New Calvinist paradigm to displace the non-Calvinist one. As a non-Calvinist, a Baptist who sees us as as a people who moved beyond such distinctions some time ago for good reason, I will not go gently into that good night.

Johnathan Pritchett

Acts 4:27-28 “for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place.” ESV (used on purpose when talking to Calvinists)

Okay, so what does this verses actually say? Aside from other concerns that “predestined” is a horrible translation of ????????? (Predetermined is better, so long as one doesn’t fill it up with some idea of “philosophical determinism” foreign to the actual meaning of the word determine), this verse only lays the charge of what the people did TO THEM, and that the “do whatever” (??????? ???, lit. “to carry out as great as”) of the plan by God’s hand revolved around one thing. The anointed one: Christ. The “Your hand” and “Your plan” are references to Christ, not to puppeteer…just as in verse 4:30 “Your hand” is worked through the name of Jesus Christ, His Holy Servant. I think the other reading of this, which completely lacks exegetical support of Lukan theology, makes it LESS Christ-centered, and more “determinism” centered, and that, to me, is ERROR.

It says nothing about God “deterministically controlling” everyone, or that the “plan” required God to meticulously control them even. That is brought into the text, not gained from it.

It merely says that they were there to DO what God had predetermined to occur, which is specifically the crucifixion. This is a Christ-centered, God-centered exgesis, and the proper Biblical one.

Now, having said ALL that, even though I am not a Calvinist, and I have no problem asserting that from eternity it was God’s plan, NOT only for Christ to be crucified, but for it to occur when it did with those involved to do it, specifically.

However, this verse doesn’t demand it be read in a deterministic way. It ONLY says those people were gathered to DO what God had predetermined (the crucifixion), but God’s plan was the crucifixion, and God need not “puppeteer” (I know, I know) those people in order to carry it out. So, unlike Eric, I see no need to posit God contravened their “will”, so to speak.

God KNEW their will, from eternity, and planned accordingly.

God is not ignorant, and Calvinism is basically another form of Open Theism (in eternity) prior to the decree. The idea that God doesn’t “know” anything of the future unless He “decrees” it is pure rubbish, God knows EVERYTHING whether He ever decreed anything or not, or otherwise, God is not omniscient, and thus not God. Knowledge is an attribute, and God possesses it regardless of taking any action in eternity (to decree is an action).

The question before us on this passage is NOT an exegetical one (Calvinists lose that fight), but rather a philosophical one. The question is, how much ignorance or knowledge was involved in God’s predetermined plan.

The Calvinist position maintains it was all of God’s initial ignorance, hence, until the decree (from a “blank sheet of paper”, so to speak), it is all without deference (or even knowledge of characteristics and actions) to those named in the passage…Herod, Pilate, Jews and Gentiles… and what they would do in that situation.

According to the Calvinist, God can’t know unless he decrees they do all that they do. I.e. Calvinism’s eternity paradigm: Natural knowledge –> decree —> free knowledge. That construct is both un-Biblical and philosophically bankrupt.

The Biblical understanding is one of knowledge (Acts 2:23, and NOTE that Acts 2:23 is a reference to the plan and knowledge specifically…and that foreknowledge is a NOUN in 2:23, and not a verb like foreknew in the “intimate knowing” sense…which I agree with the Calvinists on that understanding of the word in the verb usage, as in Paul Rom. 8:29).
————————————————————————————–
Genesis 50: 20 “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.” – ESV (again, for obvious reasons…mainly that it is the only correct translation for Calvinists these days…I kid…)

If the above verse said “God meant for good what He meant you to mean for evil”, I would be a Calvinist. However, this is not what the verse says. A few things of note (unpopular to both Calvinists and Arminians).

It NEVER once states “when” or at “what point” God meant it for good.

We all agree (except Open Theists) that God knew from eternity (however one hashes that out) what was going on. But since that philosophical perspective is not directly addressed in the passage, it is eisegetical to even talk about it in those terms anyway, but of course we will anyway, and I will below.

Note first that what THEY meant was evil.

If it said that “God meant you to mean evil because God meant it for good”, again, I would be a Calvinist. However, again, it doesn’t say that at all.

It says that they meant something for evil, and as a feature of narrative, their intentions are stated FIRST, and that their intentions are directly attributed to THEM. But secondly, and BUT in the MAIN sense (agreeable to Calvinists I think) is that God intentions are BEYOND and BEHIND (but not “underneath”, or the cause of) and with A VIEW TO do good EVEN THOUGH THEY intended evil.

Nowhere in the text does it say God intended them to intend the evil at all, so that God could do good. They independently had their intentions, and so did God, the bringer of good from evil, lest we think God allows any evil with no purpose (I think Calvinists would agree with that statement at least).

To think that God had to intend them to intend evil so God could intend the good is a complete eisegetical rewrite and explanation of the verse (and of the story on the whole as it plays out as a fact of history recorded in the narrative).

Now, to bring the philosophical concerns (the esiegetical concerns not even in view of the text that was mentioned earlier), again, the question becomes whether or not God played out His intentions from an initial place of ignorance in eternity prior to the decree, or in view of His knowledge of what would be the case should He ordain such a world to come to pass that included these events and intentions of the brothers in those circumstances?

Calvinists affirm the former (natural knowledge —>decree —> free knowledge = including future contingents), and others affirm the latter (God knows everything prior to His decree and is wise in His own council of what He will do before, in, around, and in response to His all-knowledge prior to His FREE decree to bring about whichever world He so desires to actualize).

Exegetically, there is nothing in either passage above that helps the Calvinist position. I can argue the same for Romans 8:28 – 9:33, Ephesians 1-2, and John 6…No sweat.

One of these days, all believers on all sides of the spectrum will have to hang it up and recognize that the Bible says LESS than what people think it says. When we make it say more than it does, we add to it our conjecture.

All I have done here is present exegesis that doesn’t ADD to what’s there, and takes away what certain theology insists is there due to prior philosophical (but not necessarily Biblical) presuppositions, but isn’t actually there in the text at all.

    Johnathan Pritchett

    Hmm…the Greek showed up in the box. I wonder why it came up “??????????” when posted… Oh well…

      sbctoday

      NOTE: even though Greek and Hebrew display when you write the comment, it will not display properly when posted.

selahV-hariette

Johnathan, wow, hello. who are you, Johnathan Pritchett?

“One of these days, all believers on all sides of the spectrum will have to hang it up and recognize that the Bible says LESS than what people think it says. When we make it say more than it does, we add to it our conjecture.”

I think this is “one-of-these-days” for me…and must confess that it has always been “one-of-these-days” for me. selahV

    Lydia

    I will add a hearty AMEN to Jonathon’s quote.

    Debbie Kaufman

    “One of these days, all believers on all sides of the spectrum will have to hang it up and recognize that the Bible says LESS than what people think it says. When we make it say more than it does, we add to it our conjecture.”

    And I believe the Bible says more than some people realize. The Bible points to Christ from beginning to end. I believe that there are so many passages that people do not realize are even in the Bible. I am one who believes that if the Bible is studied as written to the first century Christians, it is amazing what truths begin to unfold.

      Debbie Kaufman

      I don’t see where Calvinists are adding anything. I realize this sounds condescending, but that is how strongly I see what Calvinism teaches in every page of scripture. No adding. Simply letting scripture interpret scripture and letting the passages speak for themselves.

Debbie Kaufman

Jonathan: What in the world are you talking about? What you have written is not what Calvinists believe. In fact I don\’t even recognize what you are saying at all. Good grief. You just took how many comments and wiped them out in one failed seriously flawed comment. I give up. When people like you come along and totally dismantle what Calvinists believe, there is no sense continuing. Yep, I am angry. Your comment is simply not true from the beginning of your first word to the period behind your last word.

    Johnathan Pritchett

    Assert whatever you like, but it has no merit unless you can explain what exactly is false about it.

    Do Calvinists believe that God has, in eternity, natural knowledge —> then decrees —> and then has free knowledge? Yes they do.

    Ultimately, this amounts to ignorance on God’s part that requires God to DO something in eternity in order to know something (an attribute) about the future.

    This is the Calvinist claim, I just put it in its proper perspective by pointing out that this is tantamount to calling God ignorant and construing God as relying on His action in the decree to know the future with certainty.

    That is the Calvinists’ problem, not my problem in putting it in those terms.

    Debbie, sorry, but you aren’t a very knowledgeable Calvinist if you don’t recognize my Calvinism critique in my post.

    You either believe that God predetermined and decreed all that comes to pass, without deference to the creatures’ faith, or sin, or personality, or whatever, and merely based on nothing more than God’s good pleasure and will or you do not. If not, you are not a Calvinist.

    You either believe that God’s certain knowledge of the future is based on his decree or you do not. If you do not, then you are not a Calvinist.

      Debbie Kaufman

      Jonathan: Being a Calvinist myself, it is not I who is not knowledgeable. It is you. Don’t try and tell me what I believe. I know what I believe and why.

        Debbie Kaufman

        Jonathan: Do not tell me who is qualified to be Calvinist and who is not.

          Debbie Kaufman

          Do Calvinists believe that God has, in eternity, natural knowledge —> then decrees —> and then has free knowledge? Yes they do.

          Jonathan: I have been a pretty strict Calvinist for many years and I have absolutely no idea what you are talking about here. I will tell you what I believe in the area of God\’s sovereignty but I think you are trying to take your view of God\’s sovereignty and somehow mix a form a small form of Calvinist view in here and call it fact. Either way your definition is gibberish to me.

          I believe that all things are under God\’s control. There is nothing that occurs that God is not in control of or must have his permission to occur. He is not passive, he is very active. I agree with John Piper who says of God\’s Sovereignty: \”He is a God Who works, not just some things, but all things after the counsel of His own will (see Eph. 1:11). God\’s purpose is all- inclusive and is never thwarted (see Isa. 46:11). Nothing Takes Him by Surprise

          It is not merely that God has the power and right to govern all things but that He does so always and without exception.\” – John Piper

volfan007

With regards to all the Calvinist folks in here saying that New Calvinists and Calvinists are not trying to weed out anyone who is not a Calvinists; I’d like to just ask a question….and, I honestly do not know the answer to this…..I’m sincerely asking this from people, who might know the answer, and could help me to see it….has Dr. Mohler hired anyone, who would be teaching theology, who is not a Calvinist? Has he hired only Calvinists to teach in the areas of theology at Southern?

What about Dr. Akin and Southeastern?

David

    Lydia

    “has Dr. Mohler hired anyone, who would be teaching theology, who is not a Calvinist? Has he hired only Calvinists to teach in the areas of theology at Southern?”

    David, you cannot ask the question like that because they have redefined what constitutes a “Calvinist”. It is a hall of mirrors.

    D.R. Randle

    David,

    This has been related to me by multiple sources – Mohler, to his credit, actually tried to hire a non-Calvinist (less than 3 points) for his very first appointment to the school – Grant Osborne – an incredible NT scholar. But it was shot down by both the trustees and the faculty. I’ve heard it was essentially unanimous, which seems strange because at the time the faculty at the time was split – liberals and conservatives. Liberals voted no because Osborne was a conservative and the conservatives voted no because he couldn’t hold to the founding document – The Abstract of Principles. The Trustees held up the decision of “no” because they too believed that the BF&M was too weak at the time (and clearly it was) and because they believed the Abstract should be upheld (by the way, these would have been the Trustees appointed by Jerry Vines, Morris Chapman, and Homer Young. Since that time all the Trustees elected by all the other non-Calvinist Presidents of the SBC have ratified this decision.

    Now, having said that, one can be a 3 point moderate Calvinist. Ken Hemphill is currently a Distinguished Professor of Evangelism and Church Growth and Richard Land has been an adjunct professor, as well as Eugene Merrill.

    As for Southeastern, most of the faculty there today was hired by Paige Patterson. Akin has had only a few appointments since his tenure began (mainly due to the recession and the need to cut faculty positions).

      volfan007

      So, all of Mohler’s hires in the area of theology have been Calvinists, because I’m not counting adjunct profs. Even though, I’m glad to hear that he does use them. Also, I wasnt aware that Hemphill was a Calvinist….not even a 3 pointer.

      And, you’re telling me that Akin hasnt hired anyone since he’s been there? Wow. That’s kind of amazing, in and of itself.

      Thanks for answering my question, DR.

      DAvid

        D.R. Randle

        David,

        I’m not sure you read my comment careful. You missed this plain statement:

        Akin has had only a few appointments since his tenure began (mainly due to the recession and the need to cut faculty positions).

          volfan007

          DR,

          Yes, I did read over that…so, who were his hires?

          David

          D.R. Randle

          David,

          If you read what I wrote then how did you ever get the idea that I said Akin hasn’t hired anyone? “A few appointments” is not equal to “hasn’t hired anyone”. That makes no sense.

          As for who Akin hired, I don’t know. I gave you all the information I had. Surely you can do the rest yourself.

          volfan007

          DR,

          I said that I did read over….oh well, nevermind.

          David

        volfan007

        DR,

        I’m sorry. I just realized what’s going on. I meant, I read OVER it….didnt catch it….reading too fast…didnt catch that. You’re thinking that I was saying that I did read over the material you wrote, and still cant see it.

        What we have here is a failure to communicate. lol

        I’m from TN, Brother. I guess my way of speaking and your way of speaking werent matching up, right there. lol

        David

          D.R. Randle

          Ah…I see as well. Yes, I am from TN too, but the very urban part where we wear blue and dodge bullets regularly.

          Sorry about the confusion.

Ron Hale

Eric,

Maybe … we Baptists need to do a serious book study of Job.

Here we see a man face trials and tribulations, yet of his own free will, while not understanding the chaos and calamity … chose to remain faithful to Jehovah God!

Job wasn’t dictated by a divine decree or that God shackled his will, no … Job chose to serve God in the face of terrible things. He could have cursed God, life, family, and died. He could have. He was encourged to do so. Job consciously and willingly served the Lord.

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