Calvinism is Heretical: A Plea for Unity?

July 23, 2012



By Dr. Brad Reynolds
Vice President for Academic Services
Truett-McConnell College


Were I to make the statement “Calvinism is heretical” and then claim “Traditionalists and Calvinists need to work toward unity and cooperation in the Southern Baptist Convention,” my Calvinist brethren could rightly question my sincerity concerning unity and cooperation.

There are certainly some non-Calvinists who believe Calvinism ultimately leads to God foreordaining men to evil, which was condemned at the 2nd Council of Orange.1 However, to claim Calvinism is heretical would be a stretch most of us are unwilling to make.2 There is a major difference in addressing: 1) the belief that God foreordains men to evil as heretical; and 2) calling all Calvinists heretical. The former I would gladly affirm; the later I would wisely avoid.

When Calvinists refer to those of us who have signed the Traditional Statement (hereafter referred to as TS) as being Semi-Pelagian or having apparent Semi-Pelagian leanings, and then speak of unity, they should not be surprised that we reject such duplicity. If we are to have unity in the SBC between the Traditionalists and Calvinists, then the name-calling should cease. Rather than paying the unity resolution verbal homage without committed action, I would recommend the following suggestions as a start for true unity between Traditionalists and Calvinists.

1. Recognize Christian Orthodox unity still has boundaries. “and if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him…” (2 Th. 3:14).

    Scripture is our authority. And when something is unbiblical, then there is just cause for disunity. During the Battle for the Bible, the concept “Unity around Missions” was ultimately rejected for the concept “Unity around Truth.” When unity with an individual would cause us to deny a Scriptural truth, then we are wise to desert the unity rather than the truth. Concerning the current discussion, the BFM2K provides the minimal “truth” parameters we as Southern Baptists have affirmed for unity in education and church planting.

    Moreover, as we discuss Calvinism and Traditionalism, may we do so appealing to Scripture. Men and Church Councils have erred but God’s Word is inerrant. A corollary to this truth is that God’s Word is inerrant in all matters to which it speaks including secondary and tertiary doctrines (which is why Baptists are not “unified” with Presbyterian Calvinists or Methodist Arminians in planting churches). It is not that we think they err on the primary doctrines of the faith (i.e., the doctrines necessary to affirm for salvation), but the secondary and tertiary ones which are still Scripturally authoritative.

    Thus, we should not compromise Scriptural truth for unity.

    In fact, if there are Southern Baptists who sincerely believe those of us who signed the TS are Semi-Pelagian, then it is their duty to cut ties with us heretics.3 I suggest they protect the convention from our heresy by bringing a resolution to the convention floor condemning the TS as heretical. To do otherwise would be the first step in reversing the battle for the Bible. Never sacrifice truth for the sake of unity4; that is what the Moderates asked us to do.

    Concerning the accusation of Semi-Pelagianism, we note that many of the arguments behind the accusation have referenced our denial of inherited guilt. However, some of the language used was actually borrowed from the BFM2000. Notice the similarities.

    BFM2000

    Adam’s “posterity inherit a nature and an environment inclined toward sin. Therefore, as soon as they are capable of moral action, they become transgressors and are under condemnation.”

    TS

    “and that every person inherits a nature and environment inclined toward sin and that every person who is capable of moral action will sin.”

    (NOTE: In speaking of what man inherited from Adam, those on both the BFM2000 and the BFM1963 committees chose not to say “guilt” but rather “nature and environment inclined toward sin” – It appears it is not the TS statement that is at odds with the BFM)

    We do clarify our position by spelling out some of the implications of the above statement, but to insist that the BFM2000 affirms inherited (or imputed) guilt is foolishly erroneous. The BFM2000 language clearly implies that one becomes a transgressor and is under condemnation WHEN one is capable of moral action, not before! Thus, unless one wants to argue that embryos are capable of moral action at the moment of conception, then the language seems to affirm a denial of inherited guilt.

    2. Recognize we all err. “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” (1 John 1:8)

      Before pointing out the sin of others, I would be wise to recognize my own. None of us like swallowing our pride and admitting we were wrong; but we have all been in situations where we should (and hopefully did), and we will all be in similar situations again. We all sin. Sadly, the fullness of the effect of sin blinds me (via my own pride, subjectivity and presuppositions) to both my errors and the intent of others. Recognition of this effect would prove beneficial during discussions and may generate a more friendly atmosphere for discussion.

      3. Confess when we err. “If we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us…” (1 John 1:9)

      Confession and humility are both honored by God. This truth, in and of itself, should encourage us. Additionally however, we engender the respect of others. When I see individuals apologizing for an error they made I respect them (and, yes, calling the TS signers Semi-Pelagian [heretics] is erroneous, as is calling Calvinists heretics). On the other hand, one should not be surprised if respect is withheld from those who refuse to admit their prideful error. May we provide encouragement when others confess their errors. May our discussions be of such a nature that confession feels welcome but pride feels out of place.

      4. Forgive others before they ask. (Matthew 18:21-35)

      Not much needs to be said here – pretty cut-and-dried, scripturally. I understand how hurtful and embarrassing cutting words can be. But God didn’t give us much of an option on this one.

      5. Be careful about attributing motives. “And GOD who knows the heart…” (Acts 15:8).

      We do not know what is in a person’s heart, only he/she and God know that. Not only should we avoid attributing ill motives to individuals, but it is healthy to attribute pure motives. Choose to believe the best of your Christian brothers/sisters with whom you disagree. The medium of blogs is laden with misunderstandings and misinterpretations. Therefore, it is dangerous to interpret words without assuming pure motives on behalf of those typing.

      6. Avoid inflammatory language. “And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity…” (James 3:6)

      Name-calling is usually unwise when one is correct, and sinful when one is incorrect. My feathers are not ruffled much when Arminian Methodists or Calvinist Presbyterians call me names. I almost expect that. They are not Baptists. We have more in common with each other than we have with them. Dr. Al Mohler and Dr. Paige Patterson have more theologically in common than Dr. Ligon Duncan and Dr. Mohler do or than Dr. I. Howard Marshall and Dr. Patterson do. We as Baptists should actually be more at home with each other than we are with the Presbyterians and Methodists.5 They are more tied to the writings of man than we are. We truly are Scripture alone. May we be more faithful to cooperate with fellow Baptists (even in our conferences) and avoid inflammatory language which hinders such cooperation.

      7. Do our best to forsake pride in our theological position. “…God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” (James 4:6)

      Pride is at times more difficult to spot than a Traditionalist at a Founders’ breakfast. Pride is one of those sins that is so deceptive we are tempted in it even when we are repenting of it. We recognize it in others rather quickly but find it most difficult to recognize in ourselves (I will be the first to admit I have it and find it difficult to recognize). But perhaps one way to avoid pride and engender unity is to never assume our theological perspective (when it comes to Traditional or Calvinist soteriology) is also God’s position.

      There is no doubt that the T.S. is a grassroots movement which includes very godly individuals and has received great popularity across the convention (the TS received almost 1/5 the signatures of the GCR in 1/3 the time even though it was not pushed from any seminary chapel, was not passed around seminary campuses, was not advertised by any of our entities websites, did not use the terms “Great Commission,” was not broad enough theologically to include all individuals in the SBC, was not pushed from the leadership of our convention, but was truly Baptistic in its grassroots) nevertheless for me to state that it is therefore a work of God or God’s truth to man is arrogant.

      Were either a Calvinist or a Traditionalist to state his doctrines and/or a reviving in the beliefs of his doctrines are from God is blatantly arrogant. To say such is to imply the other side is holding views which are against a movement of God or the truths of God. This type of rhetoric has no place at the table of unity. The Traditional Baptist doctrines and the doctrines of grace are not equivalent to Scripture by any stretch of the imagination. They may be a summary of what we believe Scripture teaches but that is not the same as Scripture. May we be careful to recognize the fullness of the boundaries in the BFM2000 (affirmed by both Traditionalist Baptists and Calvinist Baptists). Further, may both sides be careful to affirm we believe our position is closest to Scripture and therefore we think God may be blessing us without crossing the line to affirm that our position is God’s position (such reveals a blindness to our own subjectivity).

      Finally, unity always flourishes when we pray for one another. I would cherish your prayers and have purposed to pray for those with whom I may disagree.



      1 From the Second Council or Orange: “We not only do not believe that any are foreordained to evil by the power of God, but even state with utter abhorrence that if there are those who want to believe so evil a thing, they are anathema.”

      2 In fact, most of us would not claim Calvinism appears to have heretical leanings.

      3 Some may object to the strong language here (“heretics”). But Traditionalists would agree with the early church that the concept of man initiating his salvation without God’s grace is “heretical.”

      4 I am assuming all agree that the truths in the BFM2000 protect us from Semi-Pelagianism. If some feel it does not, then they should bring a motion to revise the BFM2000 in order to protect us from such heresy.

      5 We should be more together for the gospel with our Baptist brethren than we are with our Presbyterian or Methodist brethren. If we are not, then perhaps we should be Presbyterian or Methodist.

       

       

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      Matt

      Brad,

      I can’t help but think that this article is, at least partially, written with me in mind. I know that there have been others who have leveled the semi-pelagian charge against the author of the TS, and some have even called the statement heretical. I believe these concerns are justified, as I have shown by quoting the TS, other writings of the only known author of the TS, and the earliest church findings on what is known as semi-pelagianism (the Second Council of Orange). I did not say that the Second Council of Orange was binding on us as Baptists or even Christians, infact I said that I believed it was not. I did not say that all the signers of the TS were semi-pelagian, infact I said they were not. I did not say that Dr. Hankins was a heretic, infact I said that I did not consider semi-pelagianism to be outside the bounds of Christianity and did not believe Dr. Hankins to be a heretic. I said all of this in a discussion with you on the comments section of “A Biblical Critique of Calvinism part 1c”, yet you insisted over and over again that I was calling you and the other signers semi-pelagian and thus heretics and that I was being “unChristlike” for doing so. I finnaly got tired of explaining that I was not doing this and quit responding to your comments because of your paternalistic attitude and refusal to address what I was saying instead of putting words in my mouth. Here you are, though, writing an article telling others to quit using inflamatory language like “semi-pelagian” or “heretic”.

      Let me try to state this simply and briefly, and then everyone can decide for thierselves whether or not there is any justification to the concerns that have been voiced about the denial of article 2 of the TS. Here is the questionable part of article 2 of the TS:

      “We deny that Adam’s sin resulted in the incapacitation of any person’s free will”

      Here are a couple of other quotes from the only known author of the TS, Dr. Hankins, in part 4 of his series “Beyond Calvinism and Arminianism” which can be found here in the SBCToday archives in April 2012:

      “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.”

      “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.”

      I believe that it is perfectly clear from these statements that Dr. Hankins believes that we were not rendered incabable by the fall, that we are still perfectly capable of responding to God in faith, and that no enabling grace is required (resistible or irrisistible) to make us capable of responding to God. If you look at cannons 4-7 of the Second Council of Orange, which I posted in the comments section of the article “A Biblical Critique of Calvinism part 1c”, this belief is semi-pelagian.

      I am very aware that Dr. Hankins mentions the “preaching of the gospel in the power of the Holy Spirit” and the “drawing” or “convicting of the Spirit”. I think it is phrases like these that have lead many signers of the statement to believe that there could be no semi-pelagian intent in the TS. It all depends on what these phrases mean. Looking at the quotes provided above, there are only two logical possibilities:

      1. These phrases do not mean that the Holy Spirit must give us some sort of enabling grace because we are naturally able to respond to God’s offer of the gospel in faith. If this is the case, then these phrases are consistent with the quotes I provided by Dr. Hankins found in the TS and his series I mentioned, and there is a semi-pelagian intent in the denial of article 2 of the TS.

      2.These phrases do mean that the Holy Spirit must give us some sort of enabling grace because we are naturally unable to respond to God’s offer of the gospel in faith. If this is the case then there may not be any semi-pelagian intent in the denial of article 2 of the TS, but the author of the TS has plainly contradicted himself.

      Once again, I would like to make it perfectly clear that I am not accusing anyone of heresy. I belive the proper use of that word is for beliefs that undermine the essence of the gospel itslef. I do not believe that semi-pelagianism crosses that line. I am not claiming that all the people who signed the TS are semi-pelagian; I know that at least most of them are not. Based on what I have pointed out above, I believe that concerns about the denial of article 2 of the TS are justified, and if Brad or anyone else thinks that voicing these concerns is “unChristlike” I can live with that. My duty is not to please anyone on here; my duty is to God and to contend for truth.

      God bless

        Matt

        Brad,

        P.S. The semi-pelagian question has nothing to do with inherent guilt unless you are willing to admit that our fallen natures are themselves a pronouncement of punishment on guilty creatures.

        Brad Reynolds

        Matt
        I do recall our discourse but can assure you that is not what precipitated this article. Nevertheless, your comment and the time you spent deserves an answer. First allow me to clarify something. Claiming a document is Semi-Pelagian but then turning around and saying those who sign it as their belief statement are not is either insincere, duplicitous, or assigns ignorance on behalf of the signees (none of which is endearing). Further, claiming SP is not heretical is something with which I would probably disagree. I think I find myself with the early church in claiming that the idea that man can come to God and initiate salvation without grace is heretical. I guess we can disagree on this.

        Concerning Dr. Hankins, I understand what you are trying to do but taking his own statements and conflating them with the TS is unfair both to him and those of us who signed the TS. Even if one agreed to his comments outside the TS that does not make it part of the TS. You consistently say the “author” pr “only known author” when in reality he is the “only known author to you” in fact the very document you purport to be examining makes clear this document was “Compiled by a number of pastors, professors, and leaders in response to the growing debate…”

        So to take his comments (whether true of not) and conflate them with the TS is something that is not fair to him nor the TS. On a side note I have encouraged you to contact him since you believe he is Semi-Pelagian and yet he has signed this statement (clearly not SP as you will see below) and affirms the BFM2000 – also clearly not SP. Perhaps giving people the benefit of the doubt without name-calling until they clarify their position would be honorable. (suffice it to say I understand his comments in light of his affirmation of the BFM2000 and thus have a different perspective than you)

        Concerning the Article and SP notice the following:

        It is important to note that the TS has never been shown to be in direct conflict with the Canons from Orange – to do so would require something like this: “The 2nd Council of Orange states “If anyone…does not confess that even our will to be cleansed comes to us through the working and infusion of the Holy Spirit…” and the TS states “our will to be cleansed does not come to us through the working and infusion of the Holy Spirit””

        Obviously, this has not, nor can it be done. Moreover, insisting they are at odds is erroneous when one actually reads them.

        The following are from the Canons and the TS respectively followed by my personal observations:

        A. Canon4: “If anyone maintains that God awaits our will to be cleansed from sin, but does not confess that even our will to be cleansed comes to us through the infusion and working of the Holy Spirit, he resists the Holy Spirit himself…”

        TS: Article Two: ”we deny that any sinner is saved apart from a free response to the Holy Spirit’s drawing through the Gospel.”

        My Comments: We deny a sinner is saved without the Holy Spirit’s drawing. While some may deny that the drawing by the Holy Spirit of God is God’s grace, we do not. Nor do we deny that the gospel is the power of God unto salvation. In fact, we highlight that.

        B. Canon 5: “If anyone says that not only the increase of faith but also its beginning and the very desire for faith, by which we believe in Him who justifies the ungodly and comes to the regeneration of holy baptism — if anyone says that this belongs to us by nature and not by a gift of grace, that is, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit amending our will and turning it from unbelief to faith and from godlessness to godliness, it is proof that he is opposed to the teaching of the Apostles…”

        TS: Article Two: see above; Article Four: “We affirm that grace is God’s generous decision to provide salvation for any person by taking all of the initiative…in uniting the believer to Christ through the Holy Spirit…”

        My Comments: Notice we affirm that it is by God’s grace and through the Holy Spirit that a sinner comes to Christ and that God took ALL the initiative.

        C. Canon 6 “If anyone…does not confess that it is by the infusion and inspiration of the Holy Spirit within us that we have the faith, the will, or the strength to do all these things as we ought.”

        TS: Article 2: see above; Article 4: see above; Article 8: “We affirm that God, as an expression of His sovereignty, endows each person with actual free will (the ability to choose between two options), which must be exercised in accepting or rejecting God’s gracious call to salvation by the Holy Spirit through the Gospel.”

        My Comments: Notice we define free will as the ability to choose between two options but we do not state the will was not affected by sin. Further, we affirm God’s call is a call given via grace (gracious call) and by the Holy Spirit.

        D. Canon 7: “If anyone affirms that we can form any right opinion or make any right choice which relates to the salvation of eternal life…”

        TS: Article 2 See above; Article 4 See above; Article 8 See above; Article 7 “We affirm God’s…sovereignty over every person’s salvation or condemnation.”

        My Comments: I do not know what others think we meant by “Sovereignty over” but what we meant is that God is Sovereign over every person’s salvation.

        Matt, you can choose to do whatever you desire to do. And yes, you can call us Semi-Pelagian just as I can choose to call you heretical: neither of which is true to my knowledge and neither of which honors Christ. This article was written primarily for those who choose to take the unity resolution seriously. I can assure you there is no ill will on this end. And I hope the Lord blesses you.

          Chris Roberts

          I’m looking over the canons now and will respond more in a bit, but I think the canons make it ever more abundantly clear that the Statement falls in the semi-Pelagian camp. Some of the things being opposed in the canons have been claimed in these discussions almost verbatim. More later.

          Matt

          Brad,

          I don’t have the time to go through and address all the minor little points one by one right now. Maybe I will be able to later. For the time being though, I would like to point out that I have already addressed the phrases used in the quotes you have cited from the TS. For the quotes that differ from the ones I have already addressed, the same question remains. Do they mean that we are naturally unable to respond to God in faith and require some sort of enabling grace, or do they not. If they do then Dr. Hankins has flattly contradicted himself; If they do not then Dr. Hankins is consistent with his other statements found in the denial of article 2 and elswere but is semi-pelagian.

          As I do not know Dr. Hankins personally and am two states away from him, I am unable to go sit down and discuss this with him. I would like to point out that this is not something that I am sneaking around talking about behind his back. I am voicing my concerns here on the public forum where he posted his beliefs in the first place. At least at times in the past few months, he has been very active at commenting on here about what he believes. It would be wonderful if he left a comment here clearing this all up, and telling us which of the two possiblities I mention above is the case.

          By the way, I never just started accusing anyone of semi-pelagianism. After Dr. Mohler stated his concern that parts of the TS “seemed” to be semi-pelagian, and Roger Olson made his comments, there was a challenge issued by some signers of the TS to show semi-pelagianism or justify these concerns. As someone who saw the reason for the concern, but had not yet called anyone semi-pelagian, I was told that we were on a witch hunt. So, I have simply answered the call to provide evidence.

          You wrote a pretty long response to what I said, but you never addressed the quotes I provided in which Dr. Hankins clearly denys that we are unable to respond to God in faith without the enabling grace of the Holy Spirit. Instead you provided quotes that, as I had previously mentioned, may or may not agree with the quotes I provided. Am I to understand that you are arguing for the possiblity that Dr. Hankins contradicted himself? I don’t think you are.

          You say that Dr. Hankins is not the only author of this statement, and that may or may not be the case. He is the only one that we know of, and people have asked for the names of others if there are any. If there are others who actually took part in the writing of this statement, then I would be interested in knowing who they are and what thier exact contribution to the statement was. For now we only know of Dr. Hankins, who at the least, seems to be the principle author.

          I have already typed more than I intended to at this time, but I would like to mention one other thing. You say:

          “It is important to note that the TS has never been shown to be in direct conflict with the Canons from Orange – to do so would require something like this: “The 2nd Council of Orange states “If anyone…does not confess that even our will to be cleansed comes to us through the working and infusion of the Holy Spirit…” and the TS states “our will to be cleansed does not come to us through the working and infusion of the Holy Spirit.””

          The denial of article 2 of the TS has been shown to be in direct denial of the Second Council of Orange. In the example you give, you claim that Dr. Hankins would have to say, “our will to be cleansed does not come to us through the working and infusion of the Holy Spirit.” Can you not see that by saying, “We deny that Adam’s sin resulted in the incapacitation of any person’s free will” the TS is saying that our will is not even in need of being cleansed. Dr. Hankins believes that our wills are perfectly capable of responding to God in faith and do not need to be cleansed to do so. The other quotes I provided make this even more clear.

          God bless

            Brad Reynolds

            Matt
            Thank you for your comment.
            A couple of responses are in order.
            1. I have stated before I am not Dr. Hankins and will not speak on his behalf. I know he affirms the BFM2000 which states “Regeneration, or the new birth, is a work of God’s grace” and thus denies Semi-Pelagianism. He is much better to reconcile to your satisfaction your quotes of his than I am. If I may inquire: have you e-mailed him as I suggested?

            2. Conflating his quotes as the TS is unfair both to him and the signers of the TS

            3. I did say Dr. Hankins is not the only author but I said that because the statement itself says that. Surely, you are not implying the authors of the statement are lying?

            Finally, the idea that man is born sinful, with his will twisted and perverted by sin but not incapacitated does not in anyway reveal our will does not need to be cleansed nor that we do not need God’s grace. Such conflation reveals more about one’s presuppositions when interpreting our words than it does about our words.

            I hope that is helpful. Thanks again for engaging

              Matt

              Brad,

              1. You say that you are not Dr. Hankins and will not speak on his behalf, but then you go on to say that since he affirms the BFM2K that he is not semi-pelagian. That kind of sounds like you are speaking on his behalf. You quote the BFM2K as saying, “Regeneration, or the new birth, is a work of God’s grace”, and then comment, “and thus denies Semi-Pelagianism”. Dr. Hankins has made it very clear that he believes that regeneration is the gracious work of the Holy Spirit that occurs AFTER a person takes the first step of responding to the gospel in faith. This in no way denies semi-pelagianism.

              If you happen to have Dr. Hankins email address, I would be happy to email him and ask him directly whether or not he believes that we retained the natural ability to respond to God in faith after the fall. I believe he has made his answer clear in multiple places here before though.

              2. His quotes give us a clear understanding of his beliefs, which he expresses in both his articles on this site and the TS. How is quoting his own words “unfair” to him? What about the quote directly from the denial of article 2 of the TS? Is that somehow “unfair” to anyone?

              3.I am not calling anyone a liar. Why are no others named? Why has no one else claimed any responsibility for the statement. I would be interested in knowing how significant a role any others played in the framing of this statement. Maybe some people just sent him points of disagreement that they thought should be included in the statement. Maybe someone edited it for him. Maybe others read over a rough draft and offered suggestions for revision. So much of the language in the statement seems to come straight from his previous writings on Calvinism that I find it hard to believe that he was not the main author.

              4. You say, “Finally, the idea that man is born sinful, with his will twisted and perverted by sin but not incapacitated does not in anyway reveal our will does not need to be cleansed nor that we do not need God’s grace.”

              To begin, I would like to point out that point of importance here is not whether or not we need any kind of grace. Even Pelagius claimed that God’s grace preceded our efforts in the sense that He endowed us with free-will. The question, pertaining to semi-pelagianism, is whether or not we need enabling grace to give us the ability to respond to God’s offer of the gospel in faith.

              The word incapacitated means rendered uncapable or unable. If we are not incapacitated then we are capable or able. If we are able to respond to God in faith, then it is obvious that we do not need the Holy Spirit to cleanse us in order to do so. If the Holy Spirit’s cleansing is necessary then we are not capable of responding to God in faith. If we are capable of responding to God in faith, then the Holy Spirit’s cleansing is not necessary. The denial of article 2 says that our wills are still capable, and is thus semi-pelagian.

              God bless

                Brad Reynolds

                Matt
                A couple of things in order:
                1. By speaking of “not speaking for him” in the context I was referring for how he reconciles his belief in the BFM2000 with the quotes you reference – I was not speaking about affirming that he believes in the BFM2000 – Sorry for any misunderstanding.

                2. Perfectly fair to quote directly from the article. But those quotes do not necessitate the position of SP as I explained.

                3. I think calling him the primary author seems very fair by the limited information on the authorship but calling him the only one seems unfair.

                4. If you can show where we state that we do not need God’s grace to make our faith possible I would be interested. Further, if you will point out that the only saving grace we reference is God’s creation of our will I would be even more interested. I think you will be unable to do so. Finally, the capacity question is fair. So let me respond. I may have a body capable of running one mile in 5 minutes (I wish) but perhaps I am infirmed in such a way (perhaps 105 degree temperature) that while I am physically capable I cannot do so without first being healed. I would argue we are capable of believing in God because God created us as humans with the “ability” to believe. That ability to belief was not lost in the fall (I can still believe as a lost person that a plane will fly), however, it was so affected by the fall that I cannot believe in God without God’s grace. I hope that helps.

                Luther Jones

                It does seem very possible that Article 2 is semi-pelagian. Why not just fix it by adding “we believe in grace-enabled faith” or something to that affect? Why stick with something many honest onlookers feel could well be semi-pelagian? It could be easily edited so that the document and signers would stop appearing to advocate something semi-pelagian.

                Brad Reynolds

                Luther
                Thanks for sharing. My main rationale for not changing it is the same rationale which I would assume the authors of T4G would use in not ratifying article 8 to satisfy those of us who are not Calvinist. Namely: it is our beliefs, not others. We affirm them and find them sufficient. I hope that helps understand why we would be so opposed. Thanks again for the interaction.

                Matt

                Brad,

                You say, “If you can show where we state that we do not need God’s grace to make our faith possible I would be interested.”

                Once again, here are quotes from Dr. Hankins. I would like to make it clear that Dr. Hankins does say that we need God’s grace in the sense that Christ had to provide an atonement, and we had to hear the gospel before being able to respond to it in faith, but reading the cannons of the Second Council of Orange makes it clear that these are not the type of grace addressed in the semi-pelagian issue. The question is whether we have retained the natural ability to respond to God in faith or if some kind of enabling grace is required for us to do so. When considering the semi-pelagian question it doesn’t matter if you consider this grace to simply enable or effectuate faith; either way semi-pelagianism is avoided. If, however, a person claims that our wills are naturally able to respond to God in faith despite being fallen, then this is a semi-pelagian claim. Here are Dr. Hankins words again:

                “We deny that Adam’s sin resulted in the incapacitation of any person’s free will”

                “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”

                You go on to say, “Further, if you will point out that the only saving grace we reference is God’s creation of our will I would be even more interested.”

                I think it is clear that I never said this about anyone on here. I refered to Pelagius to show that even he affirmed some kind of grace had to precede our efforts. I did not mean that this was the only type of grace that Dr. Hankins affirmed.

                You also say, “That ability to belief was not lost in the fall (I can still believe as a lost person that a plane will fly), however, it was so affected by the fall that I cannot believe in God without God’s grace.”

                I can agree with this statement completely, but this is not what Dr. Hankins says. He makes it clear that he is talking about responding to God, and not just the ability to believe anything in general. He says, “nowhere is there the idea that Adam or his progeny lost the ability to respond to God in faith.”

                I appreciate the time you have taken responding to all the comments on here. I know it must require a huge amount of effort. Thank you.

                God bless

                Brad Reynolds

                Matt
                Thanks again – this allows the TS to stand on its own without the accusation of SP. Let’s be clear as to what SP is – it is the idea that man initiates salvation only to be accompanied by God’s grace later. Let’s further clarify that as Baptist we do not hold church Councils (which typically persecuted the free church) as authoritative. Nevertheless, having said all of that and with the clear Augustinian leaning of the 2nd council of Orange we still deny the TS is at odds with it unless one views them both through the lens of Calvinism (which we choose not to do). Thus to you query.

                Incapacitation and not losing the ability should not be conflated with the idea of unaffected or untainted by sin. If we state in the TS that our wills were untainted by sin I would see your point. Since, we do not, then your point means very little to those of us who do not assume a Calvinist presupposition. This is not intended to offend at all but to be honest.

                Further, if in the TS you can find that we deny God’s grace enables men to believe I would further argue you have a point but it is not in there. This again we do not appreciate being defined by what we do not say. We would prefer to be defined by what we do say without inferences being made as to why we didn’t say it the way someone of the Reformed belief would.

                Please know that my comment is not intended to offend at all but to continue to enlighten those who do not hold to our views. I hope it has done so – I appreciate very much your encouraging words. They really were encouraging and I hope I can be an encouragement to you as well to continue interacting in the same spirit with which you commented above. THANK YOU. I know the blog world can be frustrating and offensive but if we all tried to understand the other side better without using inflammatory language we might be surprised the unity that would follow. That is my goal and I hope I do not fail.

                Matt

                Brad,

                You say, “if in the TS you can find that we deny God’s grace enables men to believe I would further argue you have a point but it is not in there.”

                The denial of article 2 says, “We deny that Adam’s sin resulted in the incapacitation of any person’s free will” Incapacitation means rendered unable. If we are not rendered unable, then we are able. How can people be enabled who are already able?

                God bless

                Brad Reynolds

                Matt
                I may be able to run 2 miles but because I have a high temperature (say 106) I am too sick to do so without some medication. The fall did not incapacitate my ability to freely make a decision (not forced) but it did render my choosing of God to be only possible via the grace of God.

                Matt

                Brad,

                I would agree that before the fall man had the ability to place faith in God, but since the fall we do not. You use the analogy of a sick person not being able to run 2 miles, even though they could have done so if they were not sick. My point is that, in the same way that a sick person is unable to run 2 miles, a fallen person is unable to respond to God in faith. If Dr. Hankins denies this inability by saying that we are sick but still able to run 2 miles or respond to God in faith, then he is affirming semi-pelagianism.

                You say, “The fall did not incapacitate my ability to freely make a decision (not forced) but it did render my choosing of God to be only possible via the grace of God.” I agree with this totally. Dr. Hankins has made it clear though that he believes we were not rendered unable to respond to God in faith. One of the quotes I provided says this as clearly as it could possibly be said. What other meaning could the denial of article 2 mean? I don’t see any sense in making the belief that we have the ability to believe in some things in gerneral that do not deal with salvation an article in a statement on soteriology.

                God bless

        Dale Pugh

        Matt:
        You said: “I did not say that Dr. Hankins was a heretic, infact I said that I did not consider semi-pelagianism to be outside the bounds of Christianity and did not believe Dr. Hankins to be a heretic.”
        I believe that your statement would be at odds with what most other Calvinists here have understood about the semi-Pelagian charge. In fact, you’re the only one I’ve read so far to make the assertion that semi-Pelagianism is NOT heretical. I also think that your assertion is not in line with what most Traditionalists would say about semi-Pelagianism.
        I’ve been told that I’m trying to “redefine” total depravity by affirming the God-given gift of free will, that total depravity has historically meant “total inability” (which, in my opinion, is NOT DENIED by saying that God has given man a free will), and that understanding God’s grace as “prevenient” and necessary to the process of being drawn to Him for salvation is, in fact, semi-Pelagianism. So, if I define total depravity in any way other than the Calvinist (Augustinian) defines it, I’m attempting to redefine it, the TS is attempting to redefine it, and we’re all embracing semi-Pelagianism. This really has to stop.
        Terms and verbiage can quite often be emotionally charged. When an Al Mohler (Calvinist) or Roger Olson (Arminian) begins to toss out a word that is clearly intended to question someone else’s orthodoxy, then the resulting discussion is going to go on in an “electrified” atmosphere. The debate soon gets lost in all the name-calling. I respect both of those men as theologians and I wish they would have taken more care in their selection of words.
        If one is willing to drop the bomb, then that one should be willing to come in and help with the clean up. It appears, though, that many have taken their shots and dropped their bombs but are afraid of the fallout. So they’ve taken a “duck and run” approach. You are one of the few who has been willing to come back and take responsibility for what you’ve said, how you’ve said it, and then explained what you meant by it. I applaud you for that.
        That being said, semi-Pelagianism IS understood as heresy by most of Christianity, and the charge has been made. It is not embraced by Hankins, it is not present in the TS, and no Baptist I know is semi-Pelagian. Yet we’ve been told that denying the charge doesn’t make it any less of a reality.
        I’m afraid that the proverbial cat is now out of the bag and we’re going to be chasing it for a long, long time.

          Chris Roberts

          “In fact, you’re the only one I’ve read so far to make the assertion that semi-Pelagianism is NOT heretical.”

          I’ve said that on multiple occasions.

            Dean

            Hey Chris hate to bust your bubble though you have written a statement does not mean that Dale nor anyone has read it. I also believe he was making reference to accepted authorities he has read on the subject.

        Godismyjudge

        Matt,

        Dr. Hankins also said:

        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.”

        http://sbctoday.wpengine.com/2012/04/24/beyond-calvinism-and-arminianism-toward-a-baptist-soteriologypart-4-the-anthropological-presuppositions/

        I am afraid you are confusing the inability to initiate salvation with the inability to respond to the Gospel with the help of the Holy Spirit’s drawing. It is no contradiction to affirm the first, but deny the second. Put another way, yes we need grace to be able to believe, but must that grace be irresistable?

        God be with you,
        Dan

          Matt

          Dan,

          I have not confused the “inability to initiate salvation with the inability to respond to the Gospel with the help of the Holy Spirit’s drawing”. If you look in my post, you will find that I address Dr. Hankins use of phrases like the “power of the Holy Spirit” and the “Sprits drawing”. It all depends on what he intends these phrases to mean. Without knowing, we are left with the same two possibilities that I mentioned above: 1. this is semi-pelagianism or 2. Dr. Hankins has contradicted himself.

          God bless

            Godismyjudge

            Matt,

            Dr. Hankins has been quite clear in denying semi-Pelagianism and affirming we need grace to be able to believe – no need for guessing.

            I do think you missing the distinction between “the inability to initiate” and the “inability to respond”. However, part of the issue seems to be you assume a separation between the inward and outward call of the gospel. But what if the gospel is (at least normally) accompanied by the drawing of the Holy Spirit? Let’s say Traditionalism teaches this and go back and look at your two logical possibilities:

            “1. These phrases do not mean that the Holy Spirit must give us some sort of enabling grace because we are naturally able to respond to God’s offer of the gospel in faith. If this is the case, then these phrases are consistent with the quotes I provided by Dr. Hankins found in the TS and his series I mentioned, and there is a semi-pelagian intent in the denial of article 2 of the TS.

            2.These phrases do mean that the Holy Spirit must give us some sort of enabling grace because we are naturally unable to respond to God’s offer of the gospel in faith. If this is the case then there may not be any semi-pelagian intent in the denial of article 2 of the TS, but the author of the TS has plainly contradicted himself.”

            Your phrasing assumes God’s offer in he gospel can be separated from the Holy Spirit’s drawing – but traditionalism denies this. In Traditionalist terms, what you should have said is:

            1. These phrases do not mean that the Holy Spirit must give us some sort of enabling grace because we are naturally able to initiate faith.

            2.These phrases do mean that the Holy Spirit must give us some sort of enabling grace because we are naturally unable to initiate faith.

            In which case 2 would clearly have been true and 1 false. Alternatively, you could have said:

            1. These phrases do not mean that the Holy Spirit must give us irresistible grace because we are naturally able to respond or not to the Holy Spirit’s drawing us to believe the gospel.

            2. These phrases do mean that the Holy Spirit must give us irresistible grace because we are naturally unable to respond or not to the Holy Spirit’s drawing us to believe the gospel.

            In which case, #1 would have been true and 2 false.

            God be with you,
            Dan

              Matt

              Dan,

              The ability to respond to God and his offer of the gospel is what is meant by the ability to initiate. This is the only sense in which it has any bearing on the semi-pelagian question. This is what is spoken of in the cannons of the Second Council of Orange and this is what was taught by Cassian (the original semi-pelagian).

              You say, “But what if the gospel is (at least normally) accompanied by the drawing of the Holy Spirit?”

              This is what Arminianism teaches, and they believe that the drawing enables people to respond to the gospel in faith. They teach this because they believe that we were rendered incapable of responding to God in faith by the fall. They call this enabling work or drawing of the Spirit in this sense prevenient grace. By stating thier beliefs in this way, they have avoided the error of semi-pelagianism. I know that many of the signers of the TS affirm this belief, but Dr. Hankins has flattly rejected it. He says, “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.” Dr. Hankins’ quotes that I have provided make it very clear that he sees no need for any type of enabling grace, whether the prevenient grace of the Arminians or the effectual grace of Calvinists, because he states that, “nowhere is there the idea that Adam or his progeny lost the ability to respond to God in faith.” This statement is about as clearly semi-pelagian as you can find anywhere.

              So, we are still left with the two possibilities that I mentioned previously. Either Dr. Hankins intended what he clearly stated and is semi-pelagian, or he actually intended phrases like the “drawing of the Spirit” to mean some kind of enabling grace and flattly contradicted himself.

              God bless

                Godismyjudge

                Matt,

                You overlooked my comments on the inward/outward call distinction, but it was the reason I said drawing accompanies the gospel.

                As for the comment on Arminianism, it’s hard to discuss another’s theology, since a term means one thing to someone and another to someone else. I suspect Tradtinalists and Arminians are worlds apart as far as historic movements, but not that far apart as far as soteriology – except on the question of perseverance. Sometimes, Dr. Hankins and others, may overstate those differences. But generally, Baptists might view the sytematic theologies of some of the methodists (Watson, Milley…) as overly speculative and not rooted deep enough in scripture. That may well be behind Dr. Hannkins comments. But on the other hand, he might not say, object to some of the Arminian commentators take on passages such as John 6:44 or Romans 8:7.

                God be with you,
                Dan

                Godismyjudge

                Matt,

                As a follow up, two examples of “Arminian” prevenient grace, that Dr. Hankins would have a problem with. First, Arminius said God’s third decree, in the logical order of decrees, was giving prevenient grace and then in the forth decree (again in the logical order) God foresees who will believe and persevere through that prevenient grace. Dr. Hankins has said some things contrary to that.

                Wesley said the unevangelized receive prevenient grace so they can respond to the light given to them and be saved. Dr. Hankins has said some things contrary to that as well.

                God be with you,
                Dan

                Matt

                Dan,

                I didn’t overlook your comment on separating the inward and outward call. What is referred to as the inward call would be the enabling work of the Holy Spirit. As a Calvinist I believe this inward call is effectual an given to the elect only. I mentioned Arminian belief to show that this Calvinist belief is not the only way to avoid semi-pelagianism. Arminians believe that enabling grace accompanies the preaching of the gospel, is reesistible, and is given to all who hear. this would seem to go along with what you said, “But what if the gospel is (at least normally) accompanied by the drawing of the Holy Spirit?” It doesn’t matter what the exact details of these doctrines are, when considering the semi-pelagian question, as long as you affirm our natural inability to respond to God in faith without some kind of enabling grace of the Spirit. This brings us back to my original purpose in these comments, which is to show that Dr. Hankins doesn’t believe in the need of any type of enabling grace because he says, “nowhere is there the idea that Adam or his progeny lost the ability to respond to God in faith.”

                God bless

        Johnathan Pritchett

        I do not see any contradiction between the TS statement and Dr. Hankins statements from his article you quoted.

        Dr. Hankins rejects Total Depravity, if what is meant is total inability to respond to the Gospel. This rejection says nothing about what he believes DOES occur by the Holy Spirit that makes a response happen one way or the other. You jumped to a false conclusion.

        Dr. Hankins statement about Arminianism is regarding prevenient grace, if by that some sort of “partial regeneration” occurs. There is no evidence of that in Scripture, so he rejects it. Rejecting “regeneration preceding faith”, full or partial, is not semi-pelagian, nor is it a denial that God does something to people when the Gospel is presented.

        Furthermore, it makes no sense that one is partially regenerated, as SOME Arminians claim, only to reject the Gospel and lose that partial regeneration. He also appears to reject prevenient grace if by that it is some sort of “thing in itself” without giving the word “grace” in prevenient grace any content, which is how OTHER Arminains use it. Grace is not a “thing in itself”. There is nothing in Scripture that necessitates a “partial regeneration” to make the Gospel “respond-able” for God’s creatures, nor is there anything in Scripture that warrants a mysterious X (undefined prevenient grace) to be posited prior to man’s response. Dr. Hankins is rejecting this. Rejecting these as such is not a denial that God does something to people when the Gospel is presented.

        These rejections, again, says nothing about what Dr. Hankins DOES believe about the work of the Holy Spirit and what a man can or can’t do with that work regarding responding to the Gospel. Dr. Hankins defines that as “drawing”, “calling”, and conviction” as per the TS which he AFFIRMS. So once again, you jumped to a false conclusion.

        So, from Dr. Hankins, we have a rejection of partial regeneration or grace being used as some mysterious thing in itself. I know plenty of Calvinists who would agree with both those rejections, even if for differing reasons.

        His second statement you quoted is a statement I’ve seen made, rightly, by Calvinists as well. On Arminianism’s attempt to give lip service to Total Depravity, they take away any real meaning they want to give it. His rejection is doing theology on that grid altogether in the absence of Biblical evidence.

        So once again, neither quote from his article “Beyond…” is a positive statement about what Dr. Hankins DOES believe and affirm, which is clear from the TS, that he DOES believe that God initiates, draws, calls, and convicts, etc. Those things ARE “enabling graces”, but that is not what Arminians usually mean by “prevenient grace”, because by that they either think “prevenient grace” is a thing in itself, as the word “grace” gets thrown around as if people automatically know what is meant by it, or a partial regeneration of some sort.

        You have tried to force a contradiction where none exists and wrote an exceedingly long post that fails to prove what you hoped it did about Dr. Hankins either being semi-pelagian, accidental or otherwise, or that he contradicted himself. Neither is true.

        Nice try though, but there is absolutely nothing in what Dr. Hankins wrote that justifies this statement: “Dr. Hankins clearly denys that we are unable to respond to God in faith without the enabling grace of the Holy Spirit.”

        As you noted, you made this public, and since you have stated as fact about Dr. Hankins something that is false about him, you should publicly apologize, at least for not fully understanding what the man was saying and speaking out of turn with accusations rather than seeking clarifications since, as I have demonstrated, the failure is completely on your part.

        Since you say it about others without noticing your own, enjoy writing another long post to clarify. You can either do it in pride and continue falsely accusing brethren of heresy or incompetence, or do it by apologizing in humility. Your choice.

          Johnathan Pritchett

          Wanted to clarify that the above is written to Matt regarding his first post.

          Matt

          Johnathan,

          You say, “I do not see any contradiction between the TS statement and Dr. Hankins statements from his article you quoted.”

          I don’t either. I suspect they are both full of semi-pelagian intent, but to avoid speculation, I must allow for the possibility that he contradicted himself.

          As for the rest of what you wrote, try to reread the quotes I provided and my original post without leaving out essential parts of my argument.

          God bless

            Johnathan Pritchett

            Again, your suspicions are as off base as is the assertion he contradicted himself.

            I left out the essential parts of your argument in your post because they were completely off base to what he was saying, and therefore completely worthless to address directly since they weren’t even applicable, as I demonstrated.

            Reread my post if you need to, since apparently, you didn’t get that bit. But the price of tea in China is about as relevant as initial your post, and I have little interest in discussing either.

            And you still owe Dr. Hankins an apology.

              Matt

              Johnathan,

              Learn the history and meaning of semi-pelagianism, read a book on basic logic, learn how to address a grown man, and then try commenting again.

      Steve Martin

      This is not my battle. I’m neither a Baptist nor Calvinist.

      But I would like to add one idea that I think is clarifying, or may be to some.

      Semi-Pelagianism is (in a nutshell), ‘ a lot of God, and a little bit of me’.

      Anyone who is not a Christ alone person. (Christ does it all with respect to our gaining faith and salvation) is a semi-Pelagain.

      That does not mean (at all) that they aren’t Christian. Churches are full of these folks.

      It does mean that the freedom that Christ so dearly died to give them, is not quite all there.

      Thanks for indulging me.

        John Wylie

        Steve,

        I have been a bit perplexed by your comments on this subject. You have made some very Calvinistic comments and then made some very Arminian comments. I guess it demonstrates perhaps that you’re a bit more balanced on this subject than many are.

          Steve Martin

          John,

          I don’t think I have made Calvinist or Arminian type comments since I am neither of those things.

          I was shooting to make good, confessional Lutheran comments as I am a fairly well-trained layman who has studied this topic for over 15 years.

          I know it’s often difficult for a Lutheran ( a real outsider) to be heard in such discussions, but I greatly appreciate the civility here, and the chance to make a contribution now and then.

          You folks are great. Thanks.

        Brad Reynolds

        Steve,
        That is interesting but probably consistent to Lutheranism. Personally, I would prefer to stick to the evangelical definition of one who believes man initiates salvation only to be accompanied by God’s grace later. To affirm that SP is any belief that does not have God giving man man’s faith is to affirm that pretty much anyone below a three point Calvinist is Semi-Pelagian. Something with which I would disagree. But certainly welcome the insights from a Lutheran. One thing we can agree on: salvation is all God. Where we disagree: my belief in that salvation is not all God – I play a role in my belief.

          Steve Martin

          Exactly, Brad. We do disagree on that point.

          The New Testament paints a picture of a ‘bound will’, and not a ‘free-will’.

          But, as I said, I appreciate the chance to opine with a view that is different than the current stream of thought on the matter.

            Brad Reynolds

            Steve,
            Again we would disagree in Christian unity but please know I can certainly understand a Lutheran affirming that this view is not the current stream of thought.

          wingedfooted1

          Brother Brad.

          You said…. “One thing we can agree on: salvation is all God. Where we disagree: my belief in that salvation is not all God – I play a role in my belief.”

          I understand where you are coming from, but I would caution against “my belief in that salvation is not all God – I play a role in my belief” language.

          Clearly (and biblically), “salvation is of the Lord”. I would say we play no role in our salvation (justification and new birth), however we do play a huge role in our conversion (faith and repentance). God both justifies (makes righteous) and saves (regenerates) the believer; never the unbeliever.

          God bless.

            Brad Reynolds

            wingedfoot1
            I personally would not separate conversion from salvation.

              wingedfooted1

              Brad,

              I can appreciate your position.

              Still, we would both agree that faith is not a work, therefore you and I contribute absolutely nothing to our salvation.

              Peace.

      RobertSC

      In point number 6 are you calling Ligon Duncan a man tied to the writings of man, or Presbyterians and Methodists in general? Is point 6 implying that we should stick to our own and never have fellowship or learn from guys like Tim Keller, Tullian T, Ligon Duncan, and Sinclair Furgeson? Personally, I don’t feel my ecclesiology is threatened by hearing from other evangelical voices.

        Brad Reynolds

        Robert
        Thanks for the interaction. I think my words were “we have more in common with each other (Baptists) than with them” and “we should be more at home with each other (than with them)” and “we should be more faithful to cooperate with fellow Baptists.” If from any of that, you inferred I meant we should never fellowship or learn from others I apologize. I never intended such and certainly did not say such. But thanks again for the interaction.

          RobertSC

          Thanks for the clarification. I am hopeful for the SBC/GCB future.

      Dr. Bruce McLaughlin

      This is not just a cosmetic divide. It is about diametrically opposed divine personalities. It is about the very essence of God. For nearly 500 years theologians have searched for a “consensus accord” and failed. Can a politically correct SBC Committee start with the thesis of Calvinism (God willed all events) and the antithesis of Arminianism (God did not will all events) and, by some Hegelian Dialectic, produce a stunning synthesis which both sides can embrace? The intersection of two disjoint sets will always be the null set.

      Can Traditional Baptists embrace any of the following four points? If not, which ones are the Calvinists willing to abandon?

      •Given two propositions (event happened) and (God willed event), both are true or both are false for every conceivable event.

      •Regeneration precedes faith because God elected only certain specific persons for salvation. These persons alone are unconditionally and irresistibly regenerated by the power of the Holy Spirit and subsequently demonstrate repentance, faith and obedience. The souls of most men, women, children and babies are, upon death, sent to eternal damnation never having had an opportunity for salvation. God is self glorified as He watches this plan unfold.

      •God is the first-cause of all evil. All tragedy, suffering, disease, decay, iniquity, corruption, immorality, wickedness and depravity covering the manifold of sin in heaven and earth were decreed by God before anything existed except the Trinity.

      •In eternity past, God unchangeably ordained everything; therefore, your prayers can change the outcome of nothing.

        Job

        Bruce:

        And yet non-Calvinists and Calvinists have co-existed, not only in the same denominations and seminaries but the same local churches, since 1609. If no Hegelian Dialectic or political correctness was needed then, why are those humanistic enlightenment inventions needed now? Why cannot we be a convention of Biblicists who agree on nearly everything except a few doctrinal points that have no real impact on practice just like we have always been?

        Adam Harwood

        Bruce,
        During my brief window of Internet access from another country, I offer this note: Most of the more-Calvinistic brothers in the SBC will disagree with most of your doctrinal formulations, which reflect the highest (5-point) Calvinism.
        In Him,
        Adam

      Job

      Hello:

      With all due respect, there are two issues here.

      1. Among modern Calvinistic Southern Baptists – as well as modern Calvinistic/Reformed conservative evangelicals generally – the term “semi-Pelagian” has taken on another meaning, call it a connotation peculiar to members of that group, that basically means “I strongly disagree with it, but it is not heresy.” Honestly, traditional and other non-Calvinistic Southern Baptists commit the same crime against their Calvinist Baptist brethren when they refer to Calvinism as a man-made system, and do it even more so when they purposefully ignore the 400 years of Calvinistic Baptist developments in theology and practice that separate them from the magisterial (i.e. state church/hierarchical denominational, strong covenant theology, and infant baptism) Calvinists and Reformed.

      2. Calvinistic Baptists, Mohler et. al., honestly believe that the traditional statement goes further than the doctrinal statements of traditional, General and other non-Calvinistic Baptists in the past. To that you are free to respond “it was borrowed from the BFM2000”; but know that on this issue Baptists are free to disagree, and it is not merely the Calvinistic Baptists that have done so. Lots of non-Calvinist Baptists throughout history – including a great many Southern Baptists today – adhere to imputed sin and imputed guilt, and asking Calvinistic Baptists to pretend as if it is not the case is asking quite a bit. So, it is fair and appropriate to say that there should be an internal debate amongst the non-Calvinistic SBC supermajority on soteriology before any such discussions and debates with Calvinists should take place.

      There may well be 4 distinct groups within the SBC.
      1. Non-Calvinists who do not believe in imputed guilt, merely an inherited sin nature. 2. Non-Calvinists who believe in imputed guilt AND an inherited sin nature.
      3. Calvinists who believe in universal atonement.
      4. Calvinists who believe in limited atonement.

      If that is the case, then the difference between groups 2. and 3. really isn’t that great (whether members of the respective camps are willing to admit it or not). We know that the vast majority of the Calvinists in the SBC are in group 3, the so-called 3 and 4 pointers. Calvinists in the SBC allege – based on anecdotal and historical evidence – that the vast majority of the non-Calvinists in the SBC, meaning the vast majority of the SBC itself, are in group 2.

      But back to my first point: enough with the pretense that there is much of a difference between calling the traditional viewpoint heresy (which isn’t really what was meant when the Calvinists used the semi-Pelagian) and saying that the Calvinism is a man-made system that if taken to its logical conclusion can only lead to heresy, and even in its moderated or tempered forms often hinders evangelism, is aggressive and divisive, and leads to a distorted view of God. Really, the difference between “semi-Pelagian” and what is commonly said about Calvinism by non-Calvinists in the SBC doesn’t amount to a molehill of beans. It is demanding that one be counted as a peace-maker and unifier for going right up to the “Calvinism is heresy” line but refusing to cross.

        Brad Reynolds

        Job
        I think by definition “man-made” refers to a system that is not “God-made.” If you want us to accept the idea that Calvinism is “God-made” then you are asking us all to admit Calvinism as the only viable Biblical option and we would recoil at such a concept. Thus, calling Calvinism a “man-made” system would be the equivalent of calling Arminian a “man-made” system or calling the TS a “man-made” statemement. It is not the equivalent of saying the TS is Semi-Pelagian (a statement ripe with heretical accusations and a blatant falsehood).

        Further, to imply we must accept such a term because Calvinists have redefined it as “I strongly disagree with it, but it is not heretical” is to ask us to go beyond our beliefs. While you may not desire to say that the concept that man initiates salvation without God’s grace is “heretical,” we would say that.

        I hope that is helpful.

      florin

      Historically, this conversation will never end. Truth exists in only one form, however, and sometimes we are to live with questions only partially answered due to limitations of our minds.

      Faith does not exist in a vacuum, and it is not an innate ability of men outside of the Gospel. There is no faith in Christ if there is no knowledge of Christ. Objects have no color unless exposed to light. The more light, the brighter and clearer colors are. In the same manner, the longer the exposure to Gospel truth, the stronger faith grows. Little knowledge turns into confidence as one learns more. The more we learn of Christ, the more we want Him. We discover the kindness of God and the love of Christ and in face of sinful self our emotions are stirred for Him. The result is that our wills turn. This transformation occurs naturally in those who “receive” the truth and in that, faith is not of their “own”. The receiving is not meritorious as we are created along with all things to receive life from God. In this sense, if any man were to be exposed to Gospel truth long enough, any man would be converted.

      If knowledge of truth is rejected, this is a willful resistance to light, and it is man’s ability only. Man cuts off revelation of truth in order to protect self interest. As man exercises resistance and it gets stronger and easier in spite of more light, therefore more light is used by unbelief to harden itself.

      We do not determine to hear the Gospel. It providentially happens. We cannot even take credit for understanding it either – we just do. We do know however, that holding onto sin, blocks this understanding. How can we then take credit for believing? We just believe! We do take the blame for resisting however. If believing is spontaneous and the result of Gospel truth presented to us, then if there is any credit it should be in obeying this truth that we believe. Yet we are credited with righteousness before we get to obey, where obeying is following the the implications of the truth.

      God is not the author of disobedience. He declares light and darkness exists in the absence of light. God forknows disobedience and still allows it to happen, much as He anticipated the original sin or the fall of Satan.

      Most of us would agree with what is said so far. Many would say that it leaves questions with no answer. Are not the pigments in the fabric determining the color when exposed to light?

      Now, it is because we are not pleased to live with revealed truth, it is tantalizing for us to go beyond its boundaries and conflicts ensue. As apposed to basic doctrine much of theology is fiddling with the obscure borders of truth.

      Clearly Christ is the Author of our faith. Is He not?

      I personally avoid conversations regarding predestination. Whether for the glory of God or for love of mankind, we are to preach the Gospel and call people out of the world. Predestination is not a dividing factor unless we make it so.

        Dr. Bruce McLaughlin

        Should “seekers” be told they lack the academic, theological and spiritual credentials to understand Southern Baptist soteriology? The doctrine of salvation cuts to the very heart of the Christian message. How do we “tap dance” around it without resorting to double talk? Here is an illustration of Calvinist and Arminian soteriologies in a nut shell. What is the “consensus accord” Southern Baptist soteriology?

        More than 150,000 people die in this world each day. Some souls are saved from eternal damnation but most are not. The Calvinist believes, at the end of each day, not one of the lost could have been saved even if the level of Christian evangelism had been increased by a factor of one billion for the past 1900 years. Conversely, at the end of each day, not one of the saved could have been lost if the level of evangelism had long ago dropped to zero. Before the world was formed, the Calvinist believes God assigned each person to one of two mathematical sets; elect and non-elect. Nothing can move a single person from one set to the other. When the Calvinist evangelist addresses a throng, he is not praying that all will be saved. He merely wishes to be God’s instrument for helping the elect identify themselves prior to their unconditional regeneration.

        The Arminian believes, at the end of each day, all 150,000+ human souls could have been saved and God grieves deeply for those who were lost. The Arminian believes salvation is offered to all by the prevenient grace of God which is the grace that comes before salvation. This concept of grace includes the following:

        •Man is totally depraved and not capable of thinking or doing any good thing – a concept embraced by both Arminians and Calvinists (Rom 3:23).

        •The prevenient grace of God that brings salvation appears to all men through the unconditional benefit of the atonement (Titus 2:11; Rom 2:15; Rom 1:20).

        •Prior to salvation, God initiates, advances and perfects everything that can be called good in man (no semi-pelagianism here). God leads the sinner from one step to another in proportion as He finds response in the heart and disposition to obedience (John 16:8; Rev 3:20).

        •Some men allow God to quicken, assist and nudge their free will to facilitate confession of sin, remorse, repentance, faith and obedience so they may receive the great gift of salvation (1 Pet 1:9).

        •Other men choose to resist and reject the grace of God (2 Thes 1:8-9).

        Arminianism holds that salvation is all from grace; every movement of the soul toward God is initiated by divine grace. But it recognizes also the cooperation of the human will in that the grace of God can be resisted and rejected.

        We Southern Baptists enjoy holding Arminianism up to ridicule but what do we offer in its place? I know an ex-deacon who left his church and became a Roman Catholic. He said, “At least Catholics know what they believe.”

          florin

          Dr. Bruce,

          Disagreement exists because we all, in some measure, fail to see some facet of the truth. You say above:

          “The Arminian believes, at the end of each day, all 150,000+ human souls could have been saved and God grieves deeply for those who were lost. ”

          No conversion comes as a surprise to God. Whether rejection of Christ is self determined or ordained by God (which I don’t see), God already knows who will receive the Gospel. Even so an Arminian adheres to the omniscience of God, amazingly, “at the end of the day” an Arminian still believes he could’ve altered the count (150,000+). How could he expect to alter an established conclusion?

          Therefore, I fail to see how evangelism is affected negatively in a practical way by the idea of predestination. I believe the focus of the conversation should be whether rejection of Christ is a personal choice or God ordained (or both). The scope of atonement is also pertaining to this conversation. The effect on evangelism is not, unless we accept open theism @see wikipedia:

          God knows everything that has been determined as well as what has not yet been determined but remains open. As such, God is able to anticipate the future, yet remains fluid to respond and react to prayer and decisions made either contrary or advantageous to God’s plan or presuppositions.

          In that case, an Arminian would state one thing and act as if believes another.

          Correctly understood, predestination should lead a preacher to pay diligence that the message and the manner of its delivery remain within the confines of the Gospel. It is the scope of the atonement that may be conduce to double-talk but not predestination.

          The idea that only an Arminian God would grieve over the death of the sinner is patently incorrect. So is the idea that a calvinistic preacher is not emboldened by love and only by duty. God is love and He grieves over his creation and so would a child of God.

            Dr. Bruce McLaughlin

            The Arminian concept of exhaustively definite foreknowledge does not require the foreordination, by God, of salvation for some and damnation for others. Only Calvinism makes that requirement.

            Classical Wesleyan/Arminians do not embrace the straw man of Open Theism you have introduced.(http://evangelicalarminian.blogspot.com/2009/02/arminian-theology-and-open-theism.html)

            Even if you know in advance that a loved one is about to die, you still grieve when it happens unless, of course, it was your plan for them to die from the beginning to somehow glorify yourself.

          Shawn

          Bruce,

          My dear brother, it saddens me to see how you continually misrepresent the view of Calvinists. I have appreciated how comments in these forums have helped me to better understand my brothers and sisters who are coming from the Traditional perspective. I would have hoped by now that you would have gleaned (and become able to accurately represent) a proper understanding of the evangelical Calvinist’s position.

          That being said, the greatest flaw in the system you have elucidated above is the idea of prevenient grace. Where in the Bible do we see any teaching about an application of Christ’s grace that makes all men savable without actually saving them? Where do we see God waiting for men to “allow” Him to change them? Did Saul “allow” Christ to change him on the road to Damascus? I am willing to be taught by you, brother, if you will take me to the text and show me where Christ’s grace makes men savable without actually accomplishing their salvation.

          In my thinking, the greater question is: If God is ultimately a loving God who desires the salvation of all men, and He is a sovereign God with the power to accomplish all He desires, why are all men not saved? Your response is: “Because they reject His offer of grace.” You are effectively saying that our sovereign God will have unmet desires because His will is limited by men’s will. Or to put it in your wording, God is still sovereign, but He voluntarily limits His own will so as not to force Himself on His free moral creatures. This begs a critical question:

          How is God more “loving” in this scheme? He truly desires that all men be saved and He has the power to accomplish all He desires (Psa 115:3). He knows that many men will reject the gospel which will result in their eternal torment. He has the sovereign ability to override their choices and save them from eternal torment, but He does not do so out of deference to their free will. How is God more “loving” if he wants to save all His children, is able to save all His children, and yet lets men die in their sins out of deference to their choice?

          I contend that this perspective reduces God to one who is waiting anxiously in heaven, wringing His hands, wondering who will respond (or if anyone will respond) to His offer of grace in Jesus Christ. It also means that Christ died only to accomplish the possibility of salvation for men, not the certainty of salvation for His people. It diminishes His love, His power, and His majesty. It further places in our hands a decision that Scripture says we are unable and unwilling to make.

          The fact of Romans 3 is that we all have sinned and continually fall short of the glory of God, of His perfect standard of holiness. Yes, men can reject God’s offer of grace. IN FACT, it is the natural bent of every single human being to reject God’s offer of grace. 1 Cor 1:18 says the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, and WE ARE ALL PERISHING in our sins. There is not one of us who understands, not one of us who seeks for God. We are all children of wrath. Though we all may hear the gospel, none of us would or could choose to believe on our own.

          If God were to allow us all to die and go to hell in this state of sinfulness, He would be completely just to do so. He would be no less loving, no less merciful, no less holy, no less righteous. These traits are intrinsic to His character and nature, and He would be completely just in allowing us all to die in our sins and suffer the eternal punishment of hell. In our unbelief, we stand already judged (John 3:18).

          But praise be to God, for His own glory in redemption and to accomplish the fullest display of His love and mercy, He sent His Son to die for the salvation of His people. All of us stood condemned and dead (Rom 5:12,17). All of us were bound to hell. But God knew men would transgress His commands and incur His judgement. So in eternity past, He elected to save some from their condemnation (Matt 26:28, Rom 8:29-30, Acts 2:39, Rev 13:8, etc). These He gave to Christ to accomplish their redemption (John 17:1-2). He is not unrighteous and His intrinsic love is in no way diminished in the fact that He has passed over some, allowing them to suffer just condemnation for their sins in hell. And His mercy and love and grace are put on full display through those He has chosen to save through His Son, Jesus Christ.

          His choice of His people secures the fact that they will hear His voice and believe in His Son. That is why Jesus refers to certain people as His sheep before they even hear His voice and join His flock (John 10:16). The Gospel call to repent and believe in Jesus goes out to all men (the means of gospel proclamation are ordained as well as the ends — Rom 10:14-17), but within the general call is the effectual call of God that brings the elect to salvation (Matt 22:14, Acts 16:14, 1 Cor 1:26-31, 2 Tim 1:9, Rom 11:5-7, 2 Tim 2:10). Those who do not believe do so because they are not His sheep (John 10:26-27). Those who do believe are the ones whose hearts have been changed by the Spirit. No one is dragged kicking and screaming to Christ. He makes us willing to come and desirous of Christ (John 3:7-8, John 6:44, 1 Cor 1:18,23-24). And because Christ is the one who has secured our salvation, it can never be lost (John 10:28-30).

          These truths are what undergird Paul’s teaching in Romans 9. Paul begins the chapter by speaking of God’s chosen people, Israel, and his personal desire for their salvation. But Israel has largely rejected their Messiah and His message of salvation. Does that mean that God’s purpose of grace has failed (Rom 9:6)? Paul’s answer is NO. For they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel (vs 6). As he continues in verse 7, he clearly moves from the idea of national election to individual election. Jacob and Esau are treated as persons, not nations. God has elected men individually based upon His own merciful choice (vs 15-16). He hardens whom He desires and has mercy on whom He desires (vs 18). This reality begs an important question: If God, in eternity past, has already decided who He will save and who will suffer the punishment of Hell, what about man’s free will? How do man’s choices still matter? In Romans 9:19, Paul anticipates the question: “You will say to me then, “Why does He still find fault? For who resists His will?”” Doesn’t this make God unjust to requires something of men that they were never capable of choosing? (Rom 9:14) NO, God can never be accused of injustice, because we all deserved hell, and He would have been just to allow every single one of us to suffer it. Nor do we have any basis to complain that we were not chosen, because being chosen is purely a matter of His grace (vs 20-24). We are not automatons — we have real wills through which we make real choices with real consequences. It is not either/or but both/and when it comes to man’s exercise of will and God’s complete sovereignty. Look at Acts 4:27-28 — The early church acknowledged that though Herod, Pilate, the Gentiles, and the Jews were all acting according to the sinful intentions of their own hearts (and thus completely culpable for their sins against the Christ), these persons were also gathered against Jesus to “do whatever God’s hand and God’s purpose predestined to occur.” If you interpret Romans 9 to be only about national election, then the questions Paul anticipates regarding man’s culpability make absolutely no sense.

          The truth of election is this: God has saved His chosen people from the path of destruction they would have chosen. He has set His heart upon them to save them for His own glory, and He is to be honored and praised in His creation for this marvelous display of grace. In this Scriptural view, God is not left in heaven, wringing His hands and waiting on men to decide whether or not to believe in Him. He is not left will unfulfilled desires. Every single person whom He has decided to save will be with Him in glory. His love will be perfectly displayed in and poured out for all those He has determined to save, and they will worship Him for all eternity.

          I still pray to God for lost people to be saved, I still do cold-call evangelism, I still go on mission trips all over the world to preach the Gospel to all mankind. I don’t know whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life, only God does. And because He does, we don’t have to wonder about results or manipulate results — we know that our evangelistic efforts will be used by Him to redeem people from every tribe, tongue, and nation to Himself (Acts 18:10). That is what I (we) believe to be the teaching of Scripture. In the future, brother, please try to represent this view accurately.

          (Together we would affirm) It is only by His Grace,

          Shawn

            holdon

            “God is not left in heaven, wringing His hands and waiting on men to decide whether or not to believe in Him.”

            Well He was doing that here below and there are indications that He has been doing that in heaven as well:
            “how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen her brood under her wings, and ye would not.”
            “I have stretched out my hands all the day unto a rebellious people”
            “and account the longsuffering of our Lord to be salvation”
            “And he rose up and went to his own father. But while he was yet a long way off, his father saw him, and was moved with compassion, and ran, and fell upon his neck, and covered him with kisses.”

            Don Johnson

            Shawn,

            Where do you get the idea Paul was changed by Christ on the road to Damascus?

            Shawn

            Holden and Don,

            I hope you brothers are well. In previous posts and exchanges, we have already established that you, Holdon, don’t even have an orthodox evangelical belief system — God is compassionate and long-suffering, not impotent, as you contend.

            Isa 46:9-10
            9 “Remember the former things long past, for I am God, and there is no other; {I am} God, and there is no one like me,
            10 Declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things which have not been done, saying, ‘My purpose will be established, and I will accomplish all My good pleasure’; (NAS)

            And you, Don, continually accuse Calvinists of picking and choosing texts, yet you prove yourself the master of interpreting texts to mean the opposite of what they say. I have not the time to enter into discussions with men who have no sound practice of Scriptural interpretation.

            I pray you both will be well, and that the Study of Christ’s Word will grow you in His grace.

            Dr. Bruce McLaughlin

            You are truely the master of double talk and circuitous reasoning. As Rush Limbaugh says about liberals, I know Calvinists better than they know themselves (http://www.christianapologetic.org/thology.htm#2 ). I’m afraid the concept of peace and unity within the SBC is a pipe dream of SBC bureaucrats.

              Don Johnson

              Shawn,

              I don’t have a problem with Calvinists picking and choosing texts. It’s their lack of defense of them. If your not going to defend your texts, just don’t list them to begin with.

                Shawn

                Don, Shouldn’t you be somewhere else arguing that Ishmael was saved? You are the one who ignores Scriptures that do not fit your view and you are the one who cannot defend what you set forth. Take care, brother.

              Shawn

              Bruce,
              Interesting article, but it is based on numerous false assumptions and premises as well as ignorance of some crucial Scriptures. The bias of the material is overwhelming. You think you know Calvinists, but you continue to prove yourself wrong. Peace has existed between these two viewpoints in our convention for over 150 years — it is only divisiveness like yours (and the divisiveness of radical Calvinists on the other side) that will bring our convention to a split. Please avail yourself of some advice that was given to me on this issue 20 years ago — read some scholars you don’t agree with to make sure you have properly weighed and understood the other position.

      Chris Roberts

      I’ll say more later, but a quick note regarding footnote 4: unfortunately, no, the current BF&M does not guard against semi-Pelagianism. The 1925 BF&M did, but in 1963 the language was weakened to the point where semi-Pelagianism is consistent with what the BF&M says about human nature. Thus a semi-Pelagian can affirm the current BF&M. That said, the BF&M still leaves the door open for those who reject semi-Pelagianism. Whereas the Statement’s affirmations and denials put it clearly and solidly in a semi-Pelagian mode, the BF&M leaves room for those who believe the Bible teaches that man’s corruption is radical and thorough and that our sin leaves us desiring and doing only sin.

        Brad Reynolds

        Chris,
        Thanks for sharing. I would disagree a little. I do think the language of the BFM2000 actually protects against the idea that man initiates his salvation without God’s grace (Semi-Pelagian) notice the language : “Election is the gracious purpose of God, according to which HE regenerates…” and again “Regeneration…is a work of God’s grace whereby believers become new creatures in Christ Jesus…”

        However, I can appreciate your take, but would encourage you (if you really feel it does not protect us from such a heresy) to bring your concern to the convention floor.

        Finally, I think many here would applaud if you as the author of the unity resolution were to, for the sake of unity, accurately state that the TS does not affirm that man initiates salvation and thus is not Semi-Pelagian. I would be first in line to be grateful for such a unifying act on your part.

        Thanks and may we continue to be more unified as we discuss.

          volfan007

          Chris,

          What I find ironic is that YOU were the one, who offered the resolution on unity! Then, you’ve done nothing but call the signers of the TS “Semi Pelagians.” Wow! Where’s the unity, Brother? And, do you not see that this is a little….well….what’s the word I’m looking for? …….I mean, YOU offer the resolution on unity, but just continue to call us kissin’ cousins to heretics!!! ????!!!!

          David

            Chris Roberts

            David,

            Unity does not require ignoring reality. It does not harm unity to recognize something for what it is. I did not invent semi-Pelagianism, nor did I invent the Statement, nor did I write the statement in such a way that what it affirms matches the claims of historic semi-Pelagianism. What I did (along with many others) is recognize these facts. It does not undermine unity to affirm reality.

              Lydia

              “Unity does not require ignoring reality. It does not harm unity to recognize something for what it is.”

              Chris,
              This is pure narcisssism. I cannot believe you you really believe this. Could you really be unified with someone while calling them by the name of a heretical doctrine they disagree with and have gone a long way to point out how they are not heretics but you claim it is truth so it should not affect unity?

              Do you really truly think this way? You see no cognative dissonance or hypocrisy or even arrogance in your stance as the author of the unity resolution?

              Do you realize that it is your type of thinking that is tearing churches apart? The arrogance and lack of humility? After all these threads, I really do not think you can see it. And in your arrogance you have claimed you will stop calling them names if they change the statement language to suit you.

              Those who have taught you or mentored you for ministry have done you a terrible disservice.

          Chris Roberts

          Brad,

          “I do think the language of the BFM2000 actually protects against the idea that man initiates his salvation without God’s grace (Semi-Pelagian)”

          This is not semi-Pelagianism.

          “would encourage you… to bring your concern to the convention floor.”

          What I would like to see is something that moves us back to the 1925 language. Would you be able to affirm the 1925 BF&M?

          “I think many here would applaud if you as the author of the unity resolution were to, for the sake of unity, accurately state that the TS does not affirm that man initiates salvation and thus is not Semi-Pelagian.”

          I would be glad to affirm that the Statement is not semi-Pelagian if the writers of the Statement would revise it to remove its semi-Pelagian characteristics! Any affirmation that man retains the ability to respond to God without God first working to change the individual is at least semi-Pelagian. As it stands, the Statement is clearly semi-Pelagian and has been identified as such by multiple sources. Those who seek to deny this have done so by trying to change the definition of semi-Pelagianism.

            Brad Reynolds

            Chris
            Perhaps it is your personal definition of Semi-Pelagianism which may have caused your misunderstanding and mischaracterization of the TS. If this is the case then it is understandable and no one should attribute impure motives; but once you do read the church’s definition than perhaps we can expect you as the author of the unity resolution to state publicly as an act of unity that the TS is not Semi-Pelagian. We hope this to be your desire and heartbeat.

            The 3rd edition of The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church states that Semi-Pelagians “maintained that the first steps towards the Christian life were ordinarily taken by the human will and that Grace supervened only later” – thus man initiating it without God’s grace (as I stated).

            I hope that is helpful and look forward to our steps toward unity.

            Concerning the BFM’s I think Dr. Mohler and Dr. Rogers did a great job with the BFM2000. If you think we should forsake it for the 1925 then you have every right to bring such a motion to the convention floor.

            The idea that this document has been identified as Semi-Pelagian by multiple sources surely needs some documentation. Neither Dr. Mohler nor Dr. Olson went so far as to say it was Semi-Pelagian (although they did sadly say it had “apparent Semi-Pelagian leanings” – interestingly neither of them cited the leanings).

            Please see my comment to you concerning the ACTUAL 2nd Council of Orange Canons and the TS. If you would like to PROVE it is Semi-Pelagian by showing where we state man initiates his salvation without God’s grace we welcome that conversation – otherwise don’t be offended that your call for unity seems disingenuous. Further were you following the Golden Rule, you certainly could not be upset if we were to call you a heretic also, and yet for the sake of unity we choose not to do so. I think this very conversation may reveal from whence the disunity is generated.

            I am grateful for the interaction though.

              Chris Roberts

              Brad,

              I’ve studied multiple sources, including John Cassian, to reach my understanding of semi-Pelagianism and believe what I have said is consistent with what I have read.

              Mohler spoke of its apparent leanings, but Olson did say it is semi-Pelagian: “My surprise is that the framers of this statement didn’t immediately go back and rewrite it because it is so obviously and blatantly semi-Pelagian.” http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2012/juneweb-only/baptists-calvinism-heresy.html Various other bloggers and commenters here and elsewhere have also noted its semi-Pelagianism.

                Brad Reynolds

                Chris
                You quoted part of Olson but he also said “Now, earlier here I criticized the statement of some Southern Baptists about the “traditional Southern Baptist” view of salvation because it seemed to OPEN THE DOOR to semi-Pelagianism…And it is technically a heresy” (Caps Mine). Notice Dr. Olson affirms it is heretical. Dr. Harwood addressed this.

                Concerning Dr. Mohler, I had not read that. Thank you for pointing that out to all of us. I am sure this will be helpful as we try to work toward unity.

                Having said all of that, it does not detract from what the church defined as Semi-Pelagian nor the absence of such in the TS.

                So please, if you can find in the TS where it states man begins salvation without God’s grace we are willing to hear, if not then please consider your words.

                Chris Roberts

                Brad,

                My quote was from Olson, not Mohler. As you noted, Mohler’s comment was much more tentative.

                I’ll be posting more soon showing yet again that the Statement is semi-Pelagian, despite the efforts of some to redefine semi-Pelagianism. For this latest post of mine I’m grateful to you since you’ve required me to take another look at the Canons and I believe they clearly show that what they oppose is what the Statement, and many people in follow-up discussions, have affirmed.

                Brad Reynolds

                Chris
                Thanks for the clarification on Dr. Olson. I would have been shocked had Dr. Mohler said such. Further, I quoted Dr. Olson in an article written AFTER the one you quoted. Perhaps he actually read what we meant in the words we used, rather than forcing his interpretation on them and thus was backing away (something that those who truly desire unity would do well to emulate) from his earlier statement. But quite honestly, he is not Southern Baptist; and I am more interested in unity amongst SB than outside our walls.

                Thanks again for the interaction and for the sake of unity please note I am choosing not to call you a heretic, even though I feel your soteriology logically ends up making God the author of evil. I could state that you believe God authors evil but that would not be fair to you – because to my knowledge you have not said such. Nor will I try to define your beliefs for you. I will allow you to do so.

                Now, for the sake of unity in affirming both my article and your resolution I ask you to join me. I will refrain from saying you believe in the heresy of God authoring evil and in turn you will refrain from calling us Semi-Pelagian. Does this sound unifying to you? This can prove you and I both are willing to live up to our statements (article and resolution) and provide leadership to others for the sake of unity.

              peter lumpkins

              Dr. Reynolds,

              I wouldn’t worry too much about Chris’ continued crusade about “Semi-Pelagianism”. Scholars who specialize in the controversy flat deny the TS is “Semi-Pelagian.” I talked to one scholar at length about this and she remains “baffled” why anyone would assert it. Chris will not give up his Reformed polemics concerning the TS. He grabbed his definitions from Reformed sources and now quotes selectively to match his Reformed definitions. Fairly simple.

              In addition, he’s also been corrected more than once that the Council of Orange did not affirm his Augustinianism either. Even so, he continues to speak as if his own position was affirmed at Orange. Nor will Chris publicize the fact that Orange was not a universal, ecumenical council and thus had no authority to pronounce any doctrine anathema. Rather it was a local council. Additionally, a sister local council just a year before Orange, apparently voted and agreed with the semi-Pelagians contra the Augustinians. What a Georgia hoot! Yep, we sure love the definitiveness of the catholic councils, alright…

              With that, I am…
              Peter

                Brad Reynolds

                Peter
                Good word!!!
                Thanks for bringing more light on the subject!

          Donald

          “Finally, I think many here would applaud if you as the author of the unity resolution were to, for the sake of unity, accurately state that the TS does not affirm that man initiates salvation and thus is not Semi-Pelagian. I would be first in line to be grateful for such a unifying act on your part.”

          +1

        Dale Pugh

        Chris:
        I would agree with Brad. You need to bring your concerns to the Convention floor.
        But let me ask exactly how you are defining “semi-Pelagianism”. Is it heresy, as history has shown (Council of Orange, Caesarius, Pope Boniface, and all of that)? Or do you define “semi-Pelagianism” as Job does above: “[The] term “semi-Pelagian” has taken on another meaning, call it a connotation peculiar to members of that group, that basically means ‘I strongly disagree with it, but it is not heresy.'”
        Does the BF&M leave open the door to heresy, yet at the same time leave open the door for those who stand for orthodoxy? Or is this just a matter of “strong disagreement”? As I re-read our interaction from last Friday, I would say that your concerns constitute more than a simple “strong disagreement.”
        And I would remind you of your words to me this past Friday:
        “You can’t just claim any name you want and redefine it (similarly, you cannot insist a name doesn’t fit when it does!)”–your words, and I’m sure you stand by them.
        Unity is not possible where truth has been sacrificed or obscured.
        I don’t mean to be combative, though I know that’s how it sounds. I’m very concerned about this current line of reasoning and the epithets being hurled about from all sides. Unity isn’t possible where such charges are being leveled.

          Chris Roberts

          Dale,

          My original response to you included a few links so it is being held in moderation. Here is the heart of my comment, minus the links. The links all pointed to my blog (click my name to reach it) where I have written several things showing that the Statement is semi-Pelagian, including drawing from multiple sources to explain the semi-Pelagian argument.

          As for whether or not the Statement is heresy, no, I don’t think it is heresy. I think it is an error, I think it requires a serious abuse of Scripture, but I think those who affirm semi-Pelagian beliefs (as does the Statement) are brothers and sisters in Christ. I stand with Augustine in this who referred to semi-Pelagians as brothers and fellow workers. He clearly differentiated between people like John Cassian and people like Pelagius. One was a brother who had a theological error, the other was a heretic.

          “Unity is not possible where truth has been sacrificed or obscured.”

          I agree, which is one reason why I think it is important to recognize the Statement for what it is. I am surprised and more than a little dismayed that there continues to be such a strong reaction against the comparison when, in my opinion, the truth is blatantly obvious: the Statement affirms that man retains the ability to respond to God, that man remains able to move toward God, that man does not need to be changed before responding to God’s grace – in other words, the Statement is semi-Pelagian.

            Lydia

            “As for whether or not the Statement is heresy, no, I don’t think it is heresy. I think it is an error, I think it requires a serious abuse of Scripture, but I think those who affirm semi-Pelagian beliefs (as does the Statement) are brothers and sisters in Christ.”

            Chris, do you not see what you are doing now? History called it heresy but “Chris Roberts” now says it is simply “error”.

            But those you are calling such things recognize that history called it heresy. You don’t get to rewrite history, too.

            Norm Miller

            Ed.’s note: Posts with more than one link in them are withheld. One link previously has been permitted.

            Dale Pugh

            Chris:
            I apologize for not responding sooner. My schedule has not allowed for interaction in this discussion today. Unfortunately, the rest of this week promises more of the same, but I felt it necessary to reply to you specifically since you took the time to respond to me.
            First, I have not read your statement on semi-Pelagianism. I promise to do so at my earliest convenience so that I might better understand your usage of the term. I appreciate your brief explanation here.
            Second, I would say that the charges of semi-Pelagianism have been tossed about now for some weeks. Maybe the best approach would have been for there to be an acknowledgment of any misunderstanding over the use of the term before now. Whether that has been done in the past I don’t know, but I would say it has not happened because of the continued use of the term and the continued offense over the use of the term.
            Third, I apply your own words to you once again: “You can’t just claim any name you want and redefine it (similarly, you cannot insist a name doesn’t fit when it does!)” Augustine of Hippo (354-430) may have referred to Pelagians as “brothers,” but there can be no doubt that by the time of the 2nd Council of Orange (529) that Pelagians, semi- or otherwise, were considered heretical, not brothers.
            So that I may not be accused of abusing history in this regard or of attempting to redefine it on my own terms, let me lift a quote from the website of the Center for Reformed Theology and Apologetics: “The Council of Orange was an outgrowth of the controversy between Augustine and Pelagius. This controversy had to do with degree to which a human being is responsible for his or her own salvation, and the role of the grace of God in bringing about salvation. The Pelagians held that human beings are born in a state of innocence, i.e., that there is no such thing as a sinful nature or original sin.

            As a result of this view, they held that a state of sinless perfection was achievable in this life. The Council of Orange dealt with the Semi-Pelagian doctrine that the human race, though fallen and possessed of a sinful nature, is still “good” enough to able to lay hold of the grace of God through an act of unredeemed human will. The Council held to Augustine’s view and repudiated Pelagius.”
            On a seemingly Arminian website, the Christian Resource Institute, Dr. Dennis Bratcher states, “Pelagius had denied the Augustinian doctrine of original sin, which held that human beings were so corrupted by sin they they had no will to choose God. Instead, Pelagius held that human beings were born in a state of innocence without any sinful nature and could, by nurture and discipline, on their own choose God. Human beings were given by God at creation the power not to sin. This elevated human freedom (free will) but at the expense of God’s grace and God’s action in salvation. In effect, Pelagius did not need Christ for salvation since human beings were capable on their own of being morally perfect.”
            All church historians rightly note that semi-Pelagianism was an attempt to narrow the divide between Pelagius and Augustine, but the 2nd Council of Orange most definitely tipped the balance to Augustine’s favor, and any other understanding was deemed heretical.
            Every church history book I’ve ever read understands this Council as having dealt with semi-Pelagianism as a heretical concept. Every church historian I’ve ever heard lecture has held the same view. A number of learned and highly accomplished professors of theology, men who have spent more time and invested more effort in the study of church history than I would ever care to, understand semi-Pelagianism as being a charge of heretical belief. Some of those well-read and widely respected scholars have written about such issues on this very Internet site.
            Again, I haven’t read your work. I will do so with interest as I find the time over the next few days. I may even have some questions for you, and I look forward to any future interaction we may have. I hope that it will be in a spirit of cordiality and a mutual desire to learn and grow. But please understand, we see the use of this term as being highly problematic. Its use has been toxic to the discussion simply because of its prevalent historical definition. Those of you who have used the term knew exactly what you were saying. Now you wish not only to use it in reference to us but to redefine it for us.
            To this I say, “No.”
            If, in fact, we are in error, and if, in fact, we are abusing Scripture, then we have a serious problem to deal with. You think you have the answer for our erroneous viewpoints and Scriptural abuses in Calvinism. We say Calvinism is one way that theological truth and the Bible may be understood, but it is not an end in itself. There are other ways.
            Calvinism is not the Gospel and the Gospel is not Calvinism, as some have attempted to posit here and in other places. Calvinism is not the highest form of logic, as one commenter observed. Logic is much more complicated and variegated than that. The Gospel is much bigger than that. The God of the Bible is so much greater than that.
            We stand on level ground at the foot of the Cross. And believe it or not, I have had to trust in the saving grace of almighty God just like you. I could never do for myself what He has done for me. I brought nothing to Him but my emptiness, yet His grace is sufficient for me. By grace and through faith He has saved me. Brother, don’t accuse me of semi-Pelagianism or whatever error you think I’ve committed. To do so smacks of doctrinal arrogance.
            All that being said, I want to say that I hold no ill will toward you, nor do I harbor any resentment toward you. I also hope that you hold none toward me. I hope to one day meet you along with many others involved in this debate. Possibly we could sit down over a cup of coffee and simply get to know one another, pray together, and move on in unity and like-mindedness for the sake of Jesus Christ Who died for us. That would be my hope and prayer. May God grant such in the future.

      earl simmons

      Having been a Baptist all my life, I can assure you all I never heard about Calvinism until recently. I started reading the blogs. And I hope that this topic stays in the blogs to give you something to talk about. If these preachers start preaching about this in Sunday sermons you can still have blogs but there will a lot less churches that call themselves Southern Baptist and send money to the SBC. To dig up this topic now that has been debated for hundreds of years with no resolution in sight is pretty absurd. Just to feel that one is “right” reminds me of a book by Eric Hoffer. The True Believer, a study of people who needed a flag to wave and march under to give their life meaning. So if Piper and the boys keep this up you can watch the SBC dissolve into nothing.

        Bob Hadley

        Earl,

        I want to thank you personally for saying what you have said. I believe you are absolutely correct on several levels. Number 1, most SB’s are like you; they would be appalled at reading this. I believe they would be irritated at both sides! I also believe the money issue would be effected because our churches would not support this kind of mess.

        Here is the REAL problem. This is not being drug up and discussed for the fun of argument. Calvinist leadership has brought this reformed influence into the educational system in certain institutions; they have carefully positioned themselves in the other entities, namely NAMB and Lifeway so that their influence is being moved in a reformed position. These leaders have carefully established their presence in key committees of the SBC so that they have the best possible opportunities to mold and shape decisions that are being made that will have an impact on the direction of the SBC of the very near future.

        This is why this is an issue today. There are those who are correct. Calvinism has had an impact on the SBC since its founding but it has never held the position of influence it holds today and with communication at the level it is today, their position is hugh. That in and of itself is the result of great planning and patience and they have every right to do what they have done.

        The question now is… what are we as non-calvinists going to to about it. We have basically two options. We can continue doing what we have been doing and I believe in 24 months, you can kiss the SBC as you know it good-bye. The reformed group will successfully take control of this convention at the SBC annual meeting in Baltimore and the trustee appointments etc and the SBC will emerge as a reformed convention. Now, the ramifications of that chage will be disasterous I believe and money will dry up but I am afraid that will be a little too much a little too late.

        So, that is why these discussions are taking place so that people like you can see what is going on and decide, what can I do to make sure the SBC of tomorrow is the SBC I believe God would have it be. I am NOT saying the SBC needs to look like I think it ought to look but I can say that I for one do not want the SBC to continue to move in the direction it is NOW moving in…

        Now… for the record… this is MY POSITION and it is not the position of anyone else that I am aware of… so in advance… no casting of stones at anyone else… I have broad shoulders and the ability to back up my position or I would not have written what I have written.

        ><>”

          wingedfooted1

          Bob,

          You said… “The reformed group will successfully take control of this convention at the SBC annual meeting in Baltimore and the trustee appointments etc and the SBC will emerge as a reformed convention.”

          Exactly.

          Do we seriously believe the “reformed” Baptists will be nearly as tolerant as the “non-reformed” Baptists have been?

          Calvinistic history strongly suggests “no”.

          God bless.

            Lydia

            “Do we seriously believe the “reformed” Baptists will be nearly as tolerant as the “non-reformed” Baptists have been?

            Calvinistic history strongly suggests “no”.”

            Very true and we are already seeing the fruit of it with sex obessesed Driscoll of Mars Hill and scandals of SGM. The former we have partnered with in Acts 29 and the latter, which is a shepherding cult, is moving to Louisville to “plant a church near the semimary” and has been supported by both Mohler (an employee) and Dever during the Mahaney scandals. Very hierarchical and you can also see the fruit from the accusations of heresy, semi heresy, leaning toward heresy even from Mohler (an employee) toward his learned siblings in Christ. Now he is calling for people to be “marginalzed” because of the TS. I am stunned he has not been censored by his Trustees for daring to utter such a thing. Perhaps they are yes men? Evidently his power is that great with the SBC leadership that one of our employees can make a call to “marginalize” people…even pastors. Talk about changing how our polity as a convention is to work!

            Now we see the Gospel Coalition promoting Doug Wilson of all people. One of the more fringe Calvinists theonomists. All of this is coming out of the Reformed wing of Christendom through GC and T4G.

            But it does sound Calvinistic. And the bottomline is our non Calvinist “tolerance” love and don’t forget the money… has brought us to this point.And that is one reason guys like Chris Roberts think we should actually listen to him after explaining things to him over and over in “tolerance”.

            I personally think all this should be done on the convention floor. Let us vote to go Calvinist or not. It would be more honest than what has been done to date by stealth. Then people will know what they are paying for.

              Bob Hadley

              Lydia,

              Here is a real problem… you said… “I personally think all this should be done on the convention floor. Let us vote to go Calvinist or not.”

              I am not so sure the convention could even effectually do such a thing because the entities are controlled by the trustees and not the convention messengers. The messengers could affirm a vote against calvinism or for it but it is the trustees that determine the direction the entities go… that is where the real problem lies as I see it today.

              The status quo heavily favors the current direction and those leading the movement fully understand that fact.

              ><>”

                Lydia

                I understand Bob and your points are valid. But even trustees and entity leaders have to think about the money. They need non Calvinist money to operate and to plant churches for the YRR guys looking to have their own church right away. A vote would not end all problems but it would put the issue out there for the pew sitters to discuss and that would affect giving over time.

                If the Calvinist were able to tweet their way to win the vote, the money would dry up over time anyway. But in the end, People have a right to know what they are funding. And since a vote to go Calvin or not would make national news, it would definitely motivate people to look closer at the history and doctrine of a man named Calvin. And that is a good thing. They should as it bears his name.

                Let’s face reality. The whole face of giving is changing anyway as the economy changes. And think of this, even those who do not know who Calvin is won’t like the SBC following a mere man’s system of scripture interpretation. That is the “Baptist” part of being Baptist. :o) No King but Jesus. And another reason why we are not Presbyterians. (yet)

          Robert

          Hello Bob,

          Bob you wrote:

          “The question now is… what are we as non-calvinists going to to about it. We have basically two options. We can continue doing what we have been doing and I believe in 24 months, you can kiss the SBC as you know it good-bye. The reformed group will successfully take control of this convention at the SBC annual meeting in Baltimore and the trustee appointments etc and the SBC will emerge as a reformed convention.”

          What are your reasons for believing this to be true?

          Robert

      Bill Mac

      I brought this up before, but I don’t think it was fleshed out enough.

      I’ve never made the SP charge. It’s beyond my understanding, and quite honestly I haven’t given “inherited nature vs inherited guilt” much thought.

      But this is what article 2 seems to lead to: Babies who die in infancy are not “saved” because they were never lost. If they are not guilty of any sin, then they have no need of a savior. They are granted heaven because they are sinless, although I suppose their sin-inclined nature would have to be adjusted. Am I wrong? If so, how so? Thanks.

        Brad Reynolds

        Bill Mac
        Dr. Adam Harwood dealt with this in the article “Inherited Sinful Nature…” published on June 16th on this site. That will probably be very helpful.
        BR

          Bill Mac

          Thanks, I’ll go look.

          Bill Mac

          OK. I went back. I’m afraid I didn’t quite follow the logic that infants are not guilty of sin but are also not sinless. I understand sinless to be without (less) sin. Infants, because of their lack of cognitive development, and therefore moral capacity, cannot sin. And yet Dr. Harwood claims they are not sinless, I guess because they have a nature inclined towards sin. He goes on to say that God judges our sins, not our nature. Fair enough. But following that reasoning, infants then do not need a savior, because they have nothing to be saved from. God does not save us from our nature, but rather from our sin. I don’t see how we can have it both ways.

          As I said, I’m not arguing for imputed guilt, I’m just saying this logic is a little fuzzy.

          Brad Reynolds

          Bill Mac
          Thanks for engaging. I try to never speak for others and thus will refrain from putting words in Dr. Harwood’s mouth. So let me speak for myself. All mankind inherit both the sin nature and the sinfulness of Adam but the guilt of man’s sin comes when one cognitively (for lack of a better term) sins. It is the exact way in which the righteousness of Christ is imputed to man – cognitive decision. Hence, I would argue that although an infant is sinful and thus saved by Christ\’ work and resurrection, he is not held guilty yet and thus does not need to cognitively repent before he is allowed into heaven. I am not sure I cleared things up any but I hope so. The other option which is still left unanswered by Calvinists is how an infant (that will die in the womb) can cognitively repent at conception.

          I hope that is helpful and I hope I haven’t muddied the waters further.

            Bill Mac

            Brad: I think we may be getting closer, but we’re not there yet. I’m not sure how you are distinguishing sinfulness and sin nature. How are they different?

            Perhaps I’m wrong, but you seem to be saying that the infant does in fact sin, but without the cognitive ability to repent, is held guiltless. Am I following? It seems to me that the very lack of cognitive ability that prevents infants from repenting also prevents them from sinning.
            I don’t see how a one day old infant, for example, is capable of sinning, or repenting.

            I can’t see this the way you are seeing it. Sinful but not guilty of sin, where sinful does not mean the same thing as having a sin nature. I honestly don’t understand it.

              Brad Reynolds

              Bill Mac
              Yes they sin. My 19 month old transgresses. He transgresses God’s law. He sins but it is not with a “knowledge of good and evil.” He has no clue as to right and wrong. He could suffocate my 6 month old without any knowledge of what he was doing or remorse for doing so. Perhaps this distinction will help.

              Which is our point: when they “cognitively” sin (reach the age of accountability if you will) they are held guilty and thus should cognitively repent.

                Bill Mac

                Yes they sin.

                Brad: OK. This is where we diverge I think. But I appreciate the straight answer. I don’t see how a one day old infant can sin, or how a preborn infant can sin. What sin can the unborn commit?

                God forbid that such a thing happen as in your example, but I would not call what he did sin. What sin?

                And while I appreciate your answer, I frankly don’t think it lines up with the TS, which states that only persons capable of moral action can sin.

                Brad Reynolds

                Bill Mac
                The 19 month old would have sinned by transgressing God’s law regarding the taking of another’s life. While he did so without knowledge of his action or God’s law he still did so.

                Further, I think I am right in line with the TS. It actually says when a person is capable of moral action he will sin. This does not necessitate that he will not innocently transgress before such.

                I hope that is helpful.

                Bill Mac

                Brad: Accidental taking of life is not sin. Murder is sin. Also you haven’t told me how a preborn infant can sin.

                Regarding the TS, that is perhaps your understanding, but I wonder if that is the intent of the framers? That people incapable of moral action can still sin? I suspect it is not.

                Brad Reynolds

                Bill Mac
                I would disagree – in the OT even accidental killing had a penalty (leaving one’s home and having to flee and relocate to a city of refuge) and required a sacrifice (unintentional sins – Leviticus).

                I fear my answer on unborn children may be one of ignorance. While they certainly have a sin nature I do not know that if they sin in the womb or not. I have no evidence that they do.

            Not The Original Les

            Brad,

            To your, “The other option which is still left unanswered by Calvinists is how an infant (that will die in the womb) can cognitively repent at conception.”

            They can’t. Should one die in the womb, he or she is regenerated and immediately in the presence of Jesus. Same with severely mentally handicapped. At least that’s how Reformed have mostly understood it. Monergism is not an issue for the Reformed.

            Les

              Brad Reynolds

              Les
              So you are saying heaven is full of people who have not repented of their sins? They are guilty of sins but unrepentant and in heaven? Are you saying some can be regenerated without repentance? If so, can you point to any Scripture that would validate such a thought which seems to run contrary to the entire book of Acts (and the NT for that matter)?
              Thanks for interacting. Few Calvinist travail this path.

                M. R. Williams

                Hi Brad!

                I haven’t been able to converse in a while.

                You wrote, “So you are saying heaven is full of people who have not repented of their sins? They are guilty of sins but unrepentant and in heaven?”

                A few posts earlier you wrote, “My 19 month old transgresses. He transgresses God’s law. He sins but it is not with a “knowledge of good and evil.” He has no clue as to right and wrong. He could suffocate my 6 month old without any knowledge of what he was doing or remorse for doing so.”

                First of all, God forbid that should ever happen to you and your family, my brother!!! But, in your senario, would your six month old go to heaven? I believe the answer is YES!!! But would not that six month old go to heaven without repenting?

                To me, you are left with the same “problem” as the Calvinist who believes God regenerates in the womb.

                Respectfully,
                Michael

                Not The Original Les

                Brad,

                “So you are saying heaven is full of people who have not repented of their sins? They are guilty of sins but unrepentant and in heaven?”

                Yes. The LBC on Saving Faith says, “The grace of faith, whereby the elect are enabled to believe to the saving of their souls, is the work of the Spirit of Christ in their hearts, and is ordinarily wrought by the ministry of the Word;”

                Ordinarily. And that is what we expect to see most in the NT.

                But remember that faith is the instrumental cause where a sinner comes into a right relationship with Christ. Faith is a response to regeneration of the spiritually dead person.

                Now you all say that persons have original sin (do I have that right?) but have not committed actual sin so are therefore not accountable. You say that a person’s actual sin is the only ground for condemnation, right?

                We Reformed have a vastly different view of man’s (and infant’s) moral condition prior and until redemption.

                So, while repentance and faith are ordinarily involved, monergists need not hold that position.

                And no, I do not have any scriptures which show that infants dying in infancy are regenerated and go to be with Jesus, bypassing the ordinary hearing and responding to a presentation of the gospel.

                But I add, we both are in somewhat speculative territory. You on an age of accountability (you said above, “Which is our point: when they “cognitively” sin (reach the age of accountability if you will) they are held guilty and thus should cognitively repent” unless you have a chapter and verse) and we on the ultimate fate of infants.

                i.e. we are reaching our conclusions based on our presupposition coming to the discussion: our view of Adam’s guilt. We see guilty infants. You don’t. Which leads many of us to ask why they need Christ anyway in your view.

                Thanks for the interaction.

                Les

                Brad Reynolds

                Michael
                Thanks for the interaction. Yes, the six month old would go to heaven without repenting which is my point. According to the Calvinist even the one day old is guilty of sin via Adam whether he had sinned or not. Thus, in need of repentance. But my views holds he in not guilty. I hope I am making sense. Sometimes, internet is a difficult medium.
                Thanks

                Brad Reynolds

                Les
                I would actually say in some cases their is actual sin but their is not guilt for sin unless one has cognitive knowledge of sin.

                Please do not be offended as I mean no harm but I just find the concept that sinful guilty man (infants) finds a way to heaven outside of repentance and faith contrary to Scripture. I understand why you feel you must hold such a position but that is the same concept Universalists affirm. I am sure you find our belief that infants are not guilty as contrary to Scripture as well.

                But in all fairness we have a little more solid footing in rejecting your view in that we can point to numerous passages which require both faith and repentance for salvation of guilty sinners where as you will find it difficult to find a passage which states infants are guilty of sin.

                I hope that is helpful in understanding my position better.

                PS – Thanks for your consistency

                Not The Original Les

                Thanks Brad. Of course I’m not offended by what you say. Just to be clear, I don’t think the historical Reformed view of infant salvation is even in the same universe (pun?) with universalism.

                But again, thanks for the interaction. I think in almost every case I’ve seen on these posts, your demeanor in interaction has been very good and others on both sides should take note. Though we differ probably 180 degrees, there has not been the need for snarkiness, nastiness, name calling, judging of motives and the like.

                Thank you for that.

                Les

                BTW, I keep offering any and all Trads to come along to Haiti with me. Preach in my partner Baptist church. Same offer goes for you. Because at the end of the day, or shall we say when in the pulpit, Trads are going to preach the word and call sinners to repent and believe in Jesus. And that is something I as a Calvinist can partner with all day long!

                Brad Reynolds

                Les
                I would love to go to Haiti with you!!! Thank you for the offer. I am not sure I can this year (taking some students to El Salvador). But I would love to go. Would you mind to possibly e-mail me the information for the future. Thanks again for being a unifying voice.

                Not The Original Les

                Brad,

                I’ll email you some info.

                Thanks and God bless. And also, as you said elsewhere, thanks for praying for me and my family.

                Les

      Chris Roberts

      “If we are to have unity in the SBC between the Traditionalists and Calvinists, then the name-calling should cease.”

      I am not interested in calling people what they are not, nor am I interested in ignoring what people are. The Statement has historical precedent, one not found in Calvinism or Arminianism but found in semi-Pelagianism. This is not name-calling, this is not belittling, this is not undermining, this is identifying, simple nomenclature, recognizing something for what it is. I am not raising a false charge here, I am looking at history, I am looking at a number of writers over the years, and I am looking at the Statement and realizing that the Statement matches what writers have said about semi-Pelagianism and matches what John Cassian himself (the original semi-Pelagian) had to say.

      “…when something is unbiblical, then there is just cause for disunity.”

      Yes and no – there is cause for disunity when the matter is considered significant enough. We have cause for disunity over practices such as infant baptism, because we cannot in good conscience practice baptism in a way contrary to the Bible’s teaching. We have cause for disunity over universalism because we cannot in good conscience be united with beliefs that are simply not Christian. But we can remain united even with disagreements over a host of issues. One common example is eschatology: this is not a belief that (ordinarily) impacts the life of the church nor leads to acts of disobedience (as infant baptism would) so we can remain united while disagreeing. I would say the same of the Calvinism issue. We disagree on some significant matters (and by the nature of the disagreement, we think some people are wrong about the Bible), yet we can continue to labor together without disrupting the life of the church. It is the same with the semi-Pelagian error. It is wrong, it misinterprets the Bible, it teaches wrong things about human nature, yet a semi-Pelagian would still talk much like a Calvinist when it comes to salvation: you need grace, you need to repent, you need God’s mercy, you need to be born again, etc, etc. In the area of evangelism, we agree. In the area of what is necessary for salvation (repentance and faith), we agree. In the area of baptism, Lord’s supper, etc, we agree. Thus, though I consider it an error that needs to be corrected, I can be united with semi-Pelagians.

      There is historical precedent for this attitude: Augustine himself was friendly toward the original semi-Pelagians, affirming them as brothers and showing a measure of gratitude that they clearly recognized the error of Pelagius.

      “When unity with an individual would cause us to deny a Scriptural truth, then we are wise to desert the unity rather than the truth. Concerning the current discussion, the BFM2K provides the minimal “truth” parameters we as Southern Baptists have affirmed for unity in education and church planting.”

      A hearty “amen” from me! This is what the unity resolution is meant to affirm. I believe signers of the Statement can in good conscience affirm the BF&M. I believe Calvinists can in good conscience affirm the BF&M. I believe this provides a strong enough common framework that we can work together, even as we clearly disagree in other areas.

      “Never sacrifice truth for the sake of unity”

      Absolutely. So long as we are free to disagree without having to sacrifice truth, we can get along.

      “Concerning the accusation of Semi-Pelagianism, we note that many of the arguments behind the accusation have referenced our denial of inherited guilt.”

      More specifically, the heart of the Statement’s semi-Pelagianism is not its denial of inherited guilt but its affirmation of human ability. When it affirms that men are sick yet denies that men are incapacitated, it is semi-Pelagian.

      “However, some of the language used was actually borrowed from the BFM2000. Notice the similarities…”

      The Affirmation section of the Statement is very similar to the BF&M. The difference comes with what the Statement denies.

      “Name-calling is usually unwise when one is correct, and sinful when one is incorrect.”

      Throughout this article, the phrase “name calling” is being used in an unusual way. Normally, name calling means I call you something intended to belittle you, demean you, or diminish your value. So if one of my kids were to start saying her sister is stupid, I would discipline her for name-calling. But it is not name-calling in this sense when something is identified for what it is, even when such identifications use very harsh language. The Bible does not hold back from speaking harshly against people, but even that is not what I and others have done. What we have done is to simply recognize that a shoe fits, that the Statement walks and talks a certain way, that there is a historical position that matches the Statement. This is not name calling in the way we usually speak of name calling.

        Brad Reynolds

        Chris
        Thanks again for replying. My I ask that you share where the language of the TS conforms to the idea “that the first steps towards the Christian life were ordinarily taken by the human will and that Grace supervened only later” (Semi-Pelagianism according to the 3rd edition of The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church). If you are unable to do so then please stop referencing it as Semi-Pelagian or do not get upset that your stated desire for unity seems vacuous. You will notice in my response above to you that I actually quote from both the canons and the TS and show that the TS is not Semi-Pelagian via the canons themselves.

        The idea that man is twisted, corrupted, sinful and in need of God’s grace to come to Christ but not incapacitated is Semi-Pelagian, is rejected based on the definition of Semi-Pelagian.

        I think at heart here is your definition of Semi-Pelagian which allows you to call us that, and still not call us heretics. But the church has called it a heresy, and thus I hope you are not offended if we prefer to use the church’s definition to yours and thus reject the idea that we are Semi-Pelagian.

        Donald

        Chris Roberts,
        Who (with both standing and credibility) concurs with you in your personal definition of semipelagianism?

        Donald

        Eddie OBrien

        Chris,

        Perhaps you already have in previous posts, but so that I can follow your charge of Semi-Pelagianism against the TS, could you please list which exact phrase(s) are in question so that I can get on the same page as you?

        Thanks

          volfan007

          Chris,

          You are a hyper Calvinist. The definitions of hyper Calvinism that I’ve seen before, in the past, all point to the evidence that you are a hyper Calvinist. I’m not saying that you are into heresy, but you’re definitely into error.

          David :)

          David

      Not The Original Les

      Any of You Who Have Affirmed the Trad Document,

      I wrote this yesterday to Bob in an exchange we had going. He hasn’t had time yet to respond. But I would very much like to see one or some of you interact with it if you will. I said,

      “Just to further clarify, I believe that God’s Spirit comes on a sinner and invades that sinner via what we call regeneration or the new birth. The sinner is awakened spiritually, is able to hear God, see the kingdom and Christ and his glory and then as it were falls prostrate before God as a man undone by the sight of his sin (which he previously could not see). He repents and exercises faith and is thus converted. He is a new man.

      In your [TRAD] view, as I understand it, the Spirit comes on a man and does some work of conviction. The man then decides whether or not to believe. If he chooses to exercise faith and repents, then the Spirit goes further with the man and the Spirit comes on and in the man permanently. If the man refuses to believe, the Spirit withdraws from the man, at least for that time, maybe to come on the man another time. Is that right?

      I think what I have stated as the TRAD view is correct, but maybe it is not. What Chris and others are trying to get at is what is it that the Spirit does to the sinner. Does the Spirit change the man at all before the man either exercises faith or rejects Christ?

      Is this a fair representation of the trad view?

      Thanks,

      Les

        Bob Hadley

        Les,

        Here is the statement that predeeded your question stated here…

        I think it is fair to say that the difference in our views of conversion is rooted in your own language… We see repentance and faith as the necessary response to the new birth.

        I see repentance and faith as necessary for new birth; not a response to it.

        New birth takes place when the Holy Spirit takes up residence in a person’s heart. The Holy Spirit comes after repentance and faith… not before.

        Now to your response and question. I believe the work of the Holy Spirit in conversion of the unregenerate is one based on revelation, which requires the Word of God and then is reconciliatory which requires the finished work of Christ on the cross. The Holy Spirit convicts the lost person and reveals to him the truth about WHO God is (as He reveals Himself in His Word) and what it is that He wants to do in him or His promises to him; namely to forgive his sin if he will call on His name in repentance and saving faith God will forgive that person and adopt him into His forever family.

        So salvation is without doubt of God; in fact I can say it is all of God. God has made provision for our salvation and He has solely determined the conditions of receiving those provisions. His provisions are available to those who believe. This is the same for the calvinist. The question is, is God responsible for who believes or is man?

        I believe man makes that choice and not God. So I would say generally your statement would be fairly correct as I read it; I will reserve the right to retract that affirmation given any nuances that you might attatch to it that I would not.

        I do not agree with total depravity or inability; I would argue that such a position smacks at God’s sovereignty and imnipotence to say that He cannot reveal Himself to someone or seek to reconcile them to Himself without first effectually calling them to do so.

        Paul’s statement about his ministry of reconciliation in II Cor 5 where he says, that God has “committed to us the word of reconciliation. Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God.” (2 Cor 5:19-21)

        I do not know… but man’s responsibility to believe is not conditioned upon God decision to give him the ability to do so… not as I read the Scriptures.

        ><>”

          Not The Original Les

          Thanks brother Bob. Please see my response to Donald. That is what I would ask back of you.

          Les

          Robert

          Bob wrote:

          “So salvation is without doubt of God; in fact I can say it is all of God. God has made provision for our salvation and He has solely determined the conditions of receiving those provisions. His provisions are available to those who believe. This is the same for the calvinist. The question is, is God responsible for who believes or is man?

          I believe man makes that choice and not God.”

          That sums up nicely one of the major differences between determinists/calvinists and non-calvinists. Does God alone decide who is saved or not saved and make that decision before anyone exists on earth, or does God leave the decision of whether or not one wants to be saved up to man?

          Robert

      Donald

      Les,
      I would not use your wording. Perhaps the ordo salutis might help:

      1. Foreknowledge
      2. Predestination
      3. Calling
      4. Contrition
      5. Repentance
      6. Faith
      7. Regeneration
      8. Justification
      9. Reconciliation
      10. Sanctification
      11. Adoption
      12. Glorification

        Bob Hadley

        I prefer the following…

        1. Revelation
        2. Reconciliation
        3. Conviction
        4. Contrition
        5. Repentance
        6. Faith
        7. Regeneration
        8. Justification
        9. Sanctification
        10. Glorification

        ><>”

        Not The Original Les

        Donald,

        Thanks. I think where the rub here is on the article 2 issue and man’s will not being incapacitated. ““We deny that Adam’s sin resulted in the incapacitation of any person’s free will…”

        In your listed OS, you have “calling” in the #3 spot. What this SP issue seems to revolve around is, what is that “calling” and how can the unregenerate sinner respond. Darryl said below that it seems to be per the trad,

        “God initiates salvation but man can choose to “flip the switch” or engage the mechanism of salvation on his own with an infusion of grace.”

        My question above is trying to get at what effect, if any, does the Spirit via calling, wooing, etc. have on that will of the sinner that remains incapacitated per the trad document?

        Somone please explain in layman’s terms what the Spirit does or does not do in this “gospel call” or “conviction” or “wooing.” If the sinner’s will has not been incapacitated by the fall, what need is there for the Spirit? If you acknowledge there is a need (and you all do) what does He do? The sinner’s libertarian free will apparently is still in tact, so does the Spirit change his will? What happens?

        Thanks Donald.

          Darryl Hill

          Hey Les, that quote of mine should have read…

          “God initiates salvation but man can choose to “flip the switch” or engage the mechanism of salvation on his own withOUT an infusion of grace.”

          That is, it seems to me that the traditional document would say that the Holy Spirit’s “drawing” is merely an external “wooing” so to speak. The Holy Spirit’s involved, according to the TS, could not rise to the level of any internal, spiritual change until AFTER the person has flipped the switch by agreeing to it.

          Actually, that is the very position I held before. When I was younger, I would have stated more emphatically that salvation is about man choosing God. As I got older and studied the Scriptures more, I acknowledged the passages that said “He first loved us” and “no man can come to Me (Christ) unless the Father who sent me draws him” and concluded that a drawing must happen, and I further acknowledged that the Holy Spirit was involved, convicting the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment, but I still maintained that all of this remained external until man flipped the switch and said yes.

          And I should say that I still believe man says yes to the whole transaction. It’s not like God drags people against their own will into heaven. I simply believe that man’s will must be freed from its bondage to sin before he will freely choose repentance of sin and submission to a Lord. He will naturally choose sin and self over repentance and trust every time. But when God opens his eyes to see his true condition, He freely and enthusiastically throws himself upon the mercy and grace of God.

            Not The Original Les

            Darryl,

            Thanks for the clarification. In my fast reading, and knowing your position on this, my mind read it as “without.” That is exactly the point I believe that you and I are making. Man’s unaffected libertarian free will, left intact after the fall, is also then left unaffected by the Spirit in the trad document.

            Reformed say that the will WAS in fact affected by the fall and only by the Spirit changing the man spiritually and internally can and will the man then freely choose Christ.

            What I am trying to do is really have the trad folks drill down deeper into what they think the Spirit does in the wooing, conviction, etc. If He fundamentally changes the sinner (that is, if the bare libertarian free will is not capable of choosing Christ unless and until changed by the Spirit), then all they have to do is correct the statement by clarification. I will still disagree with nearly everything else in it. But the charge of a SP leaning or meaning can be put to rest. And we all woud like to see that. After all, the document is not on par with scripture and can be amended and clarified.

              Mary

              Les, you’re so thoughtful! Wanting to help Trads change the Statement to suit you!.

              ” If He fundamentally changes the sinner (that is, if the bare libertarian free will is not capable of choosing Christ unless and until changed by the Spirit),..””

              Gee Les, if ony Trads would admit that Calvinism is correct you’d be happy!

              No there is no change.

              Holy Spirit speaks

              Sinner hears

              Sinner can respond because Total Depravity does not = Total Inability to respond to GOD. When God speaks sinner hear.

                Not The Original Les

                Mary,

                “Les, you’re so thoughtful! Wanting to help Trads change the Statement to suit you.”

                Just trying to help. But thanks for responding. Now we know that trads believe that sinners are the captains of their own souls. Some men by their own self ability get themselves saved, per Mary on behalf of trads.

                Les

                Mary

                Yeah, Les that ain’t what it said at all Les, but thanks for the continued insults and showing how you really have no respect for the Trads at all.

                Not The Original Les

                Mary, No disrespect. But please clarify where I’ve misunderstood.

                Les

                Mary

                Of course you meant disrespect to me unless you want to claim anything I wrote was something completely contrary to what Trads have been saying.

                Not The Original Les

                Mary,

                “Of course you meant disrespect to me …”

                Mary, I said no disrespect. Can you the intentions of my heart?

                Clarify where I misunderstood you?

                Not The Original Les

                Mary,

                Should read
                “Mary, I said no disrespect. Can you know the intentions of my heart?

                Mary

                I can only know your actions Les and you ain’t dumb. You know claiming someone believes they saved themselves is the highest form of insult on these blogs. It’s right up there with calling people heretics.

                see there is a big difference between you and me Les. You can tell me I’m mean and snarky and nasty – and I won’t deny it and try to act like “I just want to understand” You on the other hand play this game acting like you’re nice when every once in while the real you slips out. You have no respect for Trads at all.

                Not The Original Les

                Mary,

                You have the last word Have a nice evening.

                Les

              Mary

              Because I’m all about the fans in the cheap seats. Theres like this whole PDF one can look at off to the side if one wants to know what Trads actualy believe!

              Again, very simply,

              Holy Spirit Speaks
              Sinner Hears
              Sinner Responds freely (not because God regenerated them before faith)

              Artcle 2 HOLY SPIRIT SPEAKS

              While no sinner is remotely capable of achieving salvation through his own effort, we deny that any sinner is saved apart from a free response to the Holy Spirit’s drawing through the Gospel

              Article 4 HOLY SPIRIT SPEAKS, SINNER HEARS, FREE RESPONSE

              We affirm that grace is God’s generous decision to provide salvation for any person by taking all of the initiative in providing atonement, in freely offering the Gospel in the power of the Holy Spirit, and in uniting the believer to Christ through the Holy Spirit by faith.

              We deny that grace negates the necessity of a free response of faith or that it cannot be resisted.

              We deny that the response of faith is in any way a meritorious work that earns salvation.

                Lydia

                “Now we know that trads believe that sinners are the captains of their own souls. Some men by their own self ability get themselves saved, per Mary on behalf of trads. ”

                Not nice, Les. I do not believe we are “captains of our own souls” but I also do not believe we are totally unable puppets on strings being micromanaged by God. And my only recourse for those who do believe such things is why on earth should I listen to them? They are totally unable, depraved lack ability to reason and missing out on the New Birth. :o)

                Not The Original Les

                Lydia,

                I was really not intending to be snarky. BTW, I also don’t “believe we are totally unable puppets on strings being micromanaged by God.”

                Les

          Bob Hadley

          Les,

          First of all, I do not like the term libertarian free will… when I read people defending or criticizing that it is like a dog chasing his tail… no one really knows what it is they are really arguing for or against in a lot of cases.

          I believe God gave us the ability and responsibility to make decisions and the decisions we make determine our destiny… both in this life and in the life to come. I personally believe and am developing this as you already know… that our sin nature is a direct reference to our “position with respect to God’s presence” and so because I am separated from God and His purpose for my life, every decision I make is sin because it falls sort of God’s glory.

          Now I know that is not really a position for this post but since I do not believe in TD/TI your question is really irrelevant as I see it. You want me to attempt to justify my position given your presuppositions and I am not inclined to attempt that.

          Now… when I got saved or was born again or converted… since saved is an ongoing process… the Holy Spirit touched my heart one night at a revival and I realized for the first time in my life (at 10 years old) that I was lost… it was the MOST horrible feeling in the world… I was a great kid… or my daddy and my daddy saw to it… but I knew I was lost… and God forgave my sin because I asked Him to do so… I know that I know that I know that I am saved and headed to heaven not because of anything I did but because of all that He did. But… had I not surrendered my heart to His provisions for my life… I do not know what would have happened. I believe we are all responsible for the decisions we make.

          I simply do not believe the Bible says that God decides who does and does not believe and repent. I am sorry. Call me a simpleton. I do not believe that is in the Bible as I read it and have been reading it for 45 years.

          God convicted me of my sin; I cried out to Him to forgive me and save me… He did. What need is there for the Spirit? The same need there is for His Word and His provisions… the Spirit works in our hearts to bring us to Christ.

          Jesus chose to go to the cross; I believe I did the same thing when I by faith trusted Gods promises and His provisions if I would believe and repent. I did. Praise God He did what He promised He would do!

          ><>”

            Not The Original Les

            Brother Bob,

            I mean no disrespect by using the term libertarian free will. I think I have seen that advocated on this site by trads. But let’s just go with free will.

            “Now I know that is not really a position for this post but since I do not believe in TD/TI your question is really irrelevant as I see it. You want me to attempt to justify my position given your presuppositions and I am not inclined to attempt that.”

            I’m not really trying to get anyone to justify anything. I really would like to see everyone get by the SP impasse. I’m just looking for clarity. That’s all.

            “God convicted me of my sin; I cried out to Him to forgive me and save me… He did. What need is there for the Spirit? The same need there is for His Word and His provisions… the Spirit works in our hearts to bring us to Christ.”

            Praise God for that. You see, I can affirm the exact same thing. Every Calvinist I know can affirm that very same thing. We agree. Our testimonies, at least most of us, sound just like that. It’s when each side of this debate wants to get behind the curtain and begin to ask, “Well what do you mean? Do you mean that you did that on your own? Do you think God drags us into that repentance and faith?” etc.

            Thanks bro,

            Les

              Bob Hadley

              Les,

              I am not really sure what you mean when you said… “Well what do you mean? Do you mean that you did that on your own? Do you think God drags us into that repentance and faith?” etc.

              So I will let it slide. Here is the deal… God’s provisions are for those who believe. Simple enough to understand. Now… the provisions require a response.

              Do you think it is fair to say that God is the One who gives me my response? That is the problem I have with calvinism.

              ><>”

                Not The Original Les

                Bob,

                Sorry. I forgot to reply to you. All I meant in that short series of questions is that no matter that you and I can have virtually identical testimonies, as I said above, we on both sides want more. We want each other to define more, and then differences show up.

                As to this, “Do you think it is fair to say that God is the One who gives me my response?”

                I believe God gives us the gifts of repentance and faith. I believe He radically changes us so that somewhat mysteriously we repent and believe, yes, WE repent and believe. He does not repent for us. He does not believe for us. He does not coerce us or force us to repent and believe. So my response is my response. It is not God responding for me.

                The biggest issue I have with non Calvinism is yet to be truly answered. Brad somewhere on this post did end up affirming some bit of mystery on the salvation process. I much prefer that candor.

                Here is the thing. A preacher is proclaiming the gospel to two men. Both lost. Each can hear the words and scriptures being quoted. i. e. their hearing works fine. At the end man A responds to a call to repent and believe by professing faith in Christ. Man B responds by shaking his fist at the preacher and God and walks away.

                Both men heard the exact same thing. Why did man B walk away?

                Calvinists say it’s because both men came under the preaching in the same condition…lost, spiritually dead, spiritually deaf and spiritually blind. Both were as Paul describes in 1 Cor., unable to spiritually discern spiritual things in their natural born state.

                But in that gospel presentation, something happened. We say the Spirit regenerated man A and suddenly his spiritual hearing worked. His heart warmed to the things of God, where before he had been cold and indifferent to them. All of a sudden he could see the beauty of the kingdom of Christ and he sees himself undone and hopeless and helpless in is and repents and believes in Jesus as a conscious decision. God didn’t have to force him like a puppet master. All god had to do was remove his heart of stone and make alive a heart of flesh. Open his ears to hear.

                If I understand what you and trads here are saying, Man A and Man B are neither one acted on in that way as I described. Please tell me if I’m misunderstanding. What I see you all saying is that both men have the same Spirit working in that presentation on them. They both are convicted. They both have capacity to understand the gospel and both have capacity to respond positively.

                If one does believe and the other doesn’t, Calvinists look at that and see that the only difference in the responses in Man A and Man B is the human will.

                That appears to go against scripture in our view. I.e. it looks like in your system man ultimately decides his own fate.

                I’ve gone too long.

                God bless Bob,

                Les

                Bob Hadley

                Les,

                Two men listening to the same sermon and the two respond in completely different ways. That is reality. Your assertion is really oversimplified even for your own system; for God uses the events and decisions in that person’s life to effectually call him even for the calvinist. It is not like God simply at a pre-subscribed moment just zaps the unregenerate and he is causally regenerated at that moment and repentance and saving faith follow… or that is NOT what I would expect you to say.

                So why does one person repent and another not? I know the Bible says that now is the accepted time, now is the day of salvation and it also warns that God’s Spirit will not always strive with man.

                Covenant in the OT was always God’s initiative and man’s response. God’s provisions were available to those who responded in obedience. (thankfully because of God’s grace, they were available when man did not respond in obedience and provisions were abundantly provided to the nation because of the faithfulness of a few.)

                I see God’s provisions available to those who believe that God is everything He says He is and that He will do everything He says He will do. Here is why this is important. My faithfulness and your faithfulness are seen by others and our witness and our testimony become an incentive for someone else to believe and by faith come to Christ. Does God’s grace extend to everyone in the same degree?

                My answer is no. Why is that true? I do not know. Here is what i do know; (certainly as i see it) God has commanded all men everywhere to repent. He has promised that those who do will be saved. The wages of sin is death; the GIFT of God is eternal life. Choose life and you and your descendants will live.

                Why do some choose life and others do not? I believe it is because men do one of two things; they do what seems right in their own eyes or they respond to the Word of God and His promises realizing that He is indeed THE way, The truth and The life.

                I do not believe God commands all men everywhere to repent knowing that He is the Only One who can enable them to do so and if He does not, they cannot or will not.

                ><>”

            Lydia

            “Now I know that is not really a position for this post but since I do not believe in TD/TI your question is really irrelevant as I see it. You want me to attempt to justify my position given your presuppositions and I am not inclined to attempt that. ”

            Bingo

              Mary

              Les, keeps trying to force everyone to accept his definition of TD/TI and then pretends he doesn’t understand why we won’t just admit we’re either and Arminian or a Calvinists.

              “I really just want to understand! Here’s the definition of TD you have to accept now defend your positon using my terms.”

              Not The Original Les

              Hey Lydia and Mary,

              Have a great evening.

              Les

      Darryl Hill

      Here’s one man’s opinion. This opinion and a dollar will get you a cup of coffee at McDonald’s. Nevertheless, I’m just going to tell you what I think.

      Reading the denial of article 2: “We deny that Adam’s sin resulted in the incapacitation of any person’s free will or rendered any person guilty before he has personally sinned.”

      When I read that statement alone, I immediately think semi-pelagian. I’m not going to sit here and say I don’t think it just because I don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings. What kind of brother would I be if I just winked and nodded if I see something that appears to be one of those red flag kinds of statements? Now, I realize that Augustine is not respected by all traditionalists here, but the way semi-pelagianism has been “defined” for centuries is according to those councils and by Augustine’s interactions with Pelagius and his followers. Just because this statement is not a direct refutation of that council’s conclusions does not mean that the thought “we deny that Adam’s sin resulted in the incapacitation of any person’s free will” is not in contradiction to the spirit of that council’s statements. Are we bound to that council’s conclusions? No. But how else have we defined semi-pelagianism?

      Just look again at the 2 statements side by side:
      2CouncilOrange: “If anyone maintains that God awaits our will to be cleansed from sin, but does not confess that even our will to be cleansed comes to us through the infusion and working of the Holy Spirit, he resists the Holy Spirit himself…”
      TradStatement:“We deny that Adam’s sin resulted in the incapacitation of any person’s free will…”

      It is not a direct refutation of the council’s conclusions, but it is not close to the same. The TS is saying that no man’s free will has been incapacitated whereas, the Council’s statement reads that “even the will to be cleansed from sin comes to us from the working of the Holy Spirit.” Semi-pelagianism has in view primarily the affect of the fall on man and on the will of man. Semi-pelagianism believed that man could desire to be cleansed from sin and believe based on his own natural desire. God initiates salvation but man can choose to “flip the switch” or engage the mechanism of salvation on his own with an infusion of grace. That is, man is very sick in sin but he he needs the help of a doctor, so to speak (or a priest or spiritual leader who might point him in the right direction). Yet, the council’s conclusions were that man not only could not initiate salvation, he did not have power to respond to the Gospel offer without an infusion of grace. And according to the portion I quoted and other selections Bro. Brad quoted in a response above, man does not even have the power to even “will” or “desire” such a change without an infusion of God’s grace. Yet, the TS says that no man’s will is incapacitated. At the very least, this phrase from article 2 might need to be revisited or reworded.

      Having said all of that, I am NOT leveling a charge of heresy against the writers nor the signers of the TS. First, I do not believe the entire statement as a whole is semi-pelagian, but really only the statement I’ve mentioned. I have some other disagreements with the statement, but that is to be expected. My second reason for not declaring the signers heretics may seem insulting (as Bro. Brad has pointed out above), but we’re all human, as has been noted by many, and I think they may not have been reading critically to anticipate the objections. A third reason is this: they may have making a statement AGAINST Calvinism more than anything. I’ll speak for myself here: In 2005, before my theology changed on all this, I would have quickly signed this TS document because it shows how my former position was juxtaposed to Calvinism, which was something I was very passionately against at the time. What I’m trying to say is that I think the signers were making a statement MORE about what they oppose (Calvinism) than about what they believe (Traditionalism).

      Furthermore, given the fact that this Traditional Statement is really the first of its kind, attempting to formulate a concept which is neither Calvinist nor Arminian while opposing Calvinism, I do not expect that a first draft would necessarily be without any peccadilloes. As a matter of fact, I believe that Dr. Hankins himself, in an interview that was posted on this very site, graciously granted the possibility that the statement was never intended to be a formal confession of faith and that it might even need revision in places.

      But hey, as I say, this is one man’s opinion. I will tell all of you this, speaking again only for myself. I do not have less respect for those who signed this statement. I will work with any of them. I will stand side by side with them. As a matter of fact, just last summer I went on a mission trip with 9 pastors from our area and the majority of them were traditional according to TS. There were 3 of us who were more reformed on that trip. I worked side by side with all of them. The only reason the subject was even discussed at all is because someone brought it up while we were traveling to have dinner one night. There was a disagreement but all handled it with grace. Otherwise, it never affected our unified purpose for being there.

      One final thought: I do allow for the fact that some fully read and understood but simply disagree with my observations and conclusions. That happens as well. I am not the foremost authority here, by any stretch. So, there you go. Take it for what it’s worth.

        volfan007

        Darryl,

        All 4 and 5 pt. Calvinist are hyper Calvinists. They are fatalistic. I’m not going to sit here and say I don’t think it just because I don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings. What kind of brother would I be if I just winked and nodded if I see something that appears to be one of those red flag kinds of statements?

        David :)

          Darryl Hill

          Hey David, if you really believe that, I think you should tell me, yes. But hey bro, I don’t have a problem with your answer, really. It gave me a chuckle to be honest. Point taken. :-)

          I think you understand the spirit of my post. I believe exactly what I said- no more and no less. I work with trads all the time. I work in a church filled with them. I’ve had opportunities to leave multiple times since my theology changed, but I’ve stayed here for about 7 years longer. I do not have a grand conspiracy in place to change everyone into a calvinist. It’s been good for me in many ways to stay here and I hope and pray that it’s been good for both the Kingdom and for the people in our church. By the way, I’m not antagonistic toward traditionals I interact with on a daily basis, and this includes my own pastor. (are you antagonistic toward Calvinists you meet? Sometimes I wonder with some of the trads here) Actually, my experience proves that it is very possible, even healthy, for calvinists and traditionalists to coexist and work together. We provide good balance for one another.

            Lydia

            I just don’t want you teaching my child Mark Driscoll, Piper, Mahaney, Doug Wilson, etc. are people they should listen to. And I fear most of the SBC Calvinists are following Mohler’s lead in promoting these men through GC and T4G.

              Darryl Hill

              Actually Lydia, I have a hard enough time getting people to read Scripture. I have never recommended Driscoll, Mahaney, nor Wilson. I have recommended some of John Piper’s materials. But you want to hear something funny? I’ve had many different folks who I would consider to be very traditional, according to the definition we use here, who have recommended to ME John Piper and John MacArthur, among others. I do inwardly chuckle when that happens, I must say. You may not be able to see it or admit it, but these men have written some very solid non-calvinistic devotional kinds of books. We did book studies of David Platt’s book Radical and Francis Chan’s book The Forgotten God last fall. They were excellent.

              I do believe you are more than simply mildly concerned here Lydia. The truth of the matter is that there is a very narrow section of reformed teaching that you hate so strongly but it seems you would disqualify these men from being able to speak to ANY subject or text of Scripture because they teach doctrines of grace. One of the most inspirational sermons I’ve heard preached in recent years was by John Piper at a T4G event, which I didn’t attend but heard some of the audio. It was on joining Christ outside the camp and taught us to be willing to stand up for the Gospel, despite the ridicule we will surely endure from the world. I guess I wonder if you think the subject of every sermon and every book is about TULIP.

                Lydia

                “The truth of the matter is that there is a very narrow section of reformed teaching that you hate so strongly but it seems you would disqualify these men from being able to speak to ANY subject or text of Scripture because they teach doctrines of grace”

                Hate? I guess you could say I hate what the teaching of the Mark Driscoll and Doug Wilson types do to people. And Piper affirms them both. Well, in the case of Driscoll he moved real fast to take his “I love Mark Driscoll’s theology” promo vid off line when the real Driscoll (some of us saw the red flags long ago) was finally discovered by too many peasants.

                It has little to do with Calvinism per se, but Calvinism does seem to attract those who love hierarchies. But I suspect their rise in the Reformed movement has everything to do with their Calvinism. Funny how that works.

                I fact, I think Piper lacks serious wisdom and discernment. I am not surprised that non Cals recommend Piper. He has been marketing his wares mainstream for a while now and he is a bit of a shock jock and people like that. Christian Hedonism, Scream of the Damned, women should take abuse for a season, and so on.

                There is a great way to get people to read their bibles. Quit talking “at them” and be more interactive as in 1 Corin 14. Calvinists have a tendancy to make it all too complicated. Remind them they have the Holy Spirit, too, and to pray for the illumination of understanding and truth. Too many people have been convinced they cannot understand it. But then, if everyone prayerfully read and studied their bibles, you might be out of a job. :o)

                Darryl Hill

                Lydia, I’ve never been too keen on Driscoll. He often seems like a kid that found a rubik’s cube already solved and walks around showing people how cool and smart he is for something somebody else did. I honestly don’t know a thing about Doug Wilson. You can tell I’m not too up to date on some of these guys. I think I’ve watched clips of Driscoll 2 or 3 times and it’s usually regarding some kind of controversial statement he has made.

                I’ll tell you flat out. I’ve struggled through years of studying, thinking, and praying through these things and I’m still in the process of figuring it out. I have not come to these conclusions lightly and I wouldn’t expect anyone else to, either. But I do want people to stop just being helpless sheep and figure out what they believe and why. I wrote an article stating this very thing, which you can read here: http://www.stratospherenetworking.com/1/post/2012/07/do-you-even-know-what-you-believe.html

                I’m not about converting people to Calvinism Lydia. I’m not about hierarchies. I’m not about suppressing the voices of women. I’m not about making things complicated or theoretical. I believe strongly in applying the teachings of Scripture to life- that our faith should change who we are. I certainly do not present the truths of Scripture in some Catholic way where the masses need me (a Baptist priest as it were) in order to wade through it. You’re making some assumptions about me here that are not true. As a matter of fact, it seems to me that you attack any person here who dares defend the doctrines of grace as though they all represent the absolute worst of that system. And I am aware of the dangers of this particular system. I have experienced some of those dangers and have even flirted with taking things too far (in my own mind) at times. God has graciously kept me from taking things too far in regard to the people He has me leading and teaching.

        Brad Reynolds

        Darryl and Les
        I think you are understanding incapacitated to mean “unaffected by sin” or “unstained by sin.” If we had wanted to use those terms they were certainly available for our use. We chose to use incapacitated because we would not deny than man was affected by sin. In fact we would affirm he is, but we would deny that this affect removed free will. We would not nor have we affirmed man’s freewill to be saved can be exercised apart from God’s grace.

        Thus, in all fairness to the Trads, you are both aware from this blog that we affirm God’s grace for salvation. We further have on numerous occasions denied that incapacitated means unaffected by sin. Finally, we have asked for clarification as to exactly where the document affirms SP and have gone to great lengths to demonstrate via both the canons of the 2nd Council of Orange and the TS that it is not Semi-Pelagian (something yet to be done by those accusing it of such).

        In the spirit of unity we will try not to define your beliefs for you. We are simply asking for the same consideration. And having interacted with both of you before I feel certain we will receive such, as you have both proven gracious. Thanks for being so.

          Not The Original Les

          Brad,

          Thanks for more clarification. And know that I’m not calling anyone a SP. I’m truly trying to understand.

          I hear what you are saying. But what I’m not hearing any of you explain is how the sinner, who is spiritually deaf and blind, and cannot understand the things of God because they are spiritually discerned, how he can exercise that will without an operation of change by the Spirit on the natural man’s will. Does the Spirit change the man’s nature, his disposition due to the effects of the fall, thus enabling him to believe? Doe the Spirit open his heart where he can spiritually understand? There are at least mixed messages by Trads as I have encountered.

          If you affirm that the spirit changes the man’s disposition somehow, enabling him to then make his willful decision, and he refuses, does the change go away? Brother, I’m sincerely trying to understand.

          Thanks Brad,

          Les

            Brad Reynolds

            Les,
            You have interacted enough with me to know I fear (and I honestly mean that) going beyond Scripture. And thus, I am afraid my answer will not be satisfying.

            Concerning the salvation of individuals I know a few things concerning your query. 1) The Holy Spirit convicts the WORLD of sin (John 16:8). 2) The GOSPEL is the POWER unto salvation to EVERYONE who believes (Romans 1:16). 3) Whosoever beliefs in Christ will be saved (John 3:16). 4) God gives universal sincere invitations (Isa 55; Matt 11). 5) God desires all men to come to a saving knowledge (1 Tim 4:2). 6. God is love (1 John 4:8). 7. God is in control (The BIBLE).

            This tells me a couple of things. First the Holy Spirit does some sort of work in everyone (conviction of sin). Second it tells me that the Power unto salvation is not election but something innate within the gospel itself. Third God offers salvation to all. Fourth “whosoever” chooses to believe will be saved. Fifth, God is sovereign over man’s salvation

            Exactly, how all this works in relation to man’s free but tainted will is something I have no desire to conjecture about. Some of the other Trads may choose to better answer your question and I apologize about not being able to do so.

              Not The Original Les

              Brad,

              Thanks for your candor. I don’t agree with all you say on the subject…soteriology. I sense some willingness to hold some of this as mystery beyond our understanding. Whether you are affirming some mystery here, I surely am. We Calvinists are often berated for at some point calling mystery to our side. But I do believe that some of this is just that…mystery.

              Thanks,

              Les

          Darryl Hill

          Brad, I think the point at which we disagree is a fine point. I think it comes down to just how much our inherited sin affects man’s will. That is the bottom line.

          Paul said it this way to the Corinthians: (1 Cor 15:21-22)
          21For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. 22For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.

          In addition, I would add Paul’s words in 1 Cor 1:18
          “The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing…”

          Adding Romans 3…
          “There is none who seeks for God…”

          Going old testament, we see the very problem with the human condition back in Genesis 6…
          “The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.”

          And again, King David adds…(Psalm 51)
          “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.”

          It seems clear to me that the fall left man’s will very much incapacitated as it regards his salvation.

          Now look, I understand this. I don’t expect you guys will agree with me. I think we both agree that the Holy Spirit must work in salvation and that the Gospel must be preached (truth presented). We agree that the Holy Spirit draws and works in the lives of men before they will respond. We simply disagree regarding the EXTENT of the work needed by the Holy Spirit.

          We’re not going to agree, but I would be willing to bet that our Gospel presentations are nearly identical. Now, I’m not going to use a repeat-after-me prayer, though I did just encourage students in our VBS to cry out to God for mercy. (6 precious children made professions of faith after God granted me the opportunity to share the Gospel) That’s where the rubber meets the road. Do you think when they cried out for mercy to God that they became Calvinists because I shared the Gospel? Do you think because I believe in particular atonement that it affected who responded and who didn’t? Do you think I spent any time attempting to determine who in the room was elect before I shared?

          My point? I know we don’t agree and that’s ok. The same atonement has made a way for you and me. I believe I was a Christian before my theology changed. I don’t think less of anyone who disagrees with my views regarding “tulip.” I do not demand people agree with me. I fully believe that you guys desire the glory of God, for His Kingdom to come, and to share the Gospel with all nations, including our own. So, we’re good.

            Brad Reynolds

            Darryl
            Thanks for your kind spirit and PRAISE GOD for those precious children!!! And yes, I bet our presentation of the gospel is similar:)

            Robert

            Hello Darryl,

            I believe that your post gives an opportunity to clarify some of the differences between determinist/calvinists and non-Calvinists.

            “Brad, I think the point at which we disagree is a fine point. I think it comes down to just how much our inherited sin affects man’s will. That is the bottom line.”

            No, I disagree with your suggested “bottom line.” One difference is that for the determinist, regeneration precedes faith. In the determinist way of thinking, God decided who would be saved before anyone existed (i.e. unconditional election). He then at a specific point in time regenerates those who were preselected. Regeneration then causes a faith response in those who were preselected for salvation.

            For the non-Calvinist faith precedes regeneration (the person chooses to trust in the Lord and the Lord then regenerates them, in this way of thinking regeneration does not cause faith and faith does not cause regeneration, rather, God regenerates those who choose to trust Him).

            Another difference is that while both believe that the Holy Spirit must work in the sinner prior to their conversion. For the determinist, if the Spirit enables a faith response, this faith response will ***necessarily*** occur (i.e. the work of the Spirit necessitates a faith response). For the non-Calvinist, while the preconversion work of the Spirit is absolutely necessary to enable a faith response to the gospel: the work of the Spirit enables but does not necessitate a faith response.
            You gave some proof texts, but none of these texts in and of themselves presents theological determinism:

            “Paul said it this way to the Corinthians: (1 Cor 15:21-22)
            21For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. 22For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.”

            To be “made alive” in Christ occurs only for those who fulfill the condition of faith (and for the non-Calvinist faith precedes regeneration).

            “In addition, I would add Paul’s words in 1 Cor 1:18
            “The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing…””

            It is foolish initially. But as the Spirit works on a person revealing things to them they sometimes become less hostile and more open. Sometimes this openness occurs quickly, sometimes it occurs over time (days, weeks, months, years). And sometimes though people experience this openness they still don’t become believers.

            “Adding Romans 3…
            “There is none who seeks for God…””

            Left to ourselves we don’t seek after God.
            But that is just it. Once the Spirit begins to work in the heart of a person things may change radically. Most of us can look at our own conversions and see that we were not seeking after God until the Spirit started working in us. It seems to me that it is as if determinists forget the preconversion work of the Spirit. This work is powerful and changes even the hardest hearts, though it does not necessitate a faith response.

            “Going old testament, we see the very problem with the human condition back in Genesis 6…
            “The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.””

            And again, this verse describes where people are BEFORE the work of the Spirit in them.

            “And again, King David adds…(Psalm 51)
            “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.”
            It seems clear to me that the fall left man’s will very much incapacitated as it regards his salvation.”

            If you mean by “incapacitated” that the human will is non-functioning, that is just not true at all. Both believers and nonbelievers retain the capacity to have and make our own choices. If you mean in regards to choosing to trust in Christ for salvation, we cannot do THAT unless the Spirit works in us to enable a faith response to the gospel.

            ‘Now look, I understand this. I don’t expect you guys will agree with me. I think we both agree that the Holy Spirit must work in salvation and that the Gospel must be preached (truth presented).”

            Yes we agree that the preconversion work of the Spirit is necessary. But here is the big difference. The determinist believes that God only does this work in those who were preselected for salvation. And that this work necessitates a faith response. The non-calvinist believes that God does this work in people and some of them end up believing and some of them may end up never believing (i.e. because again the non-calvinist believes the work of the Spirit enables but does not necessitate a faith response.

            “We agree that the Holy Spirit draws and works in the lives of men before they will respond.”

            But again for the determinist if the Spirit draws and works in the lives of men their response is necessitated, they have to believe, they cannot and will not do otherwise. On the other hand for the non-calvinist if the Spirit draws and works in the lives of men their response is not necessitated.

            “We simply disagree regarding the EXTENT of the work needed by the Holy Spirit.”

            No, we don’t disagree regarding the EXTENT of the work needed by the Holy Spirit (we all believe that the sinner is incapable of a faith response to the gospel unless the Spirit works in them). Our disagreement is in regards to the nature of this work of the Spirit. For the determinist, if the Spirit works in this way in the sinner then he will necessarily have a faith response. For the non-calvinist if the Spirit works in this way in the sinner then he may or may not have a faith response.

            Determinists make much of this difference attacking the non-calvinist view claiming that this must mean that the sinner’s choice/decision to trust the Lord is what ultimately then saves them. But this is a caricature of the non-calvinist view of the place of faith in the process of salvation. An analogy may help here.

            Suppose a person is faced with a major operation which must be done in order for them to survive (say a quadruple bypass surgery). The person must choose to trust in the doctor and surgical team to do the surgery which would save his/her life. So they give their consent to the operation (say they sign a form). The surgery is then performed successfully (while the person is unconscious) which saves the person’s life. Who actually saved the person? Of course it was the work and efforts of the surgical team. Could the person do that surgery to himself and save himself? No. Did the signature on the form **ultimately** save the person? No, again that signature did not perform the surgery; the surgical team did the work (you could have that signature but if the surgical team did not do the work of the surgery that signature would not have meant a thing).

            The non-calvinist believes that in God’s plan of salvation he leaves the decision to whether or not you want to be saved to the human person (after having had the Spirit work in them to enable them to make a decision to trust the Lord). Though the actual saving of the person is done by the Lord. Of course the determinst disagrees because for them God makes the decision of who will be saved or lost in eternity before people ever exist.

            Determinists sometimes try to attack this, claiming that the person could then boast about saving themselves or that their decision is what ultimately saves them. That it amounts to being “captain of your own soul” or saving yourself. Ask a person who has had successful surgery, and they don’t boast about their having signed the consent form. Nor do they have any false ideas that they saved themselves, that they did the surgery. They were unconscious and did not take part in the surgery at all! Instead they are thankful and grateful for what the surgical team did on their behalf.

            Likewise non-calvinists who experience saving faith realize that it was the Spirit that enabled their faith and that God saved them that they cannot and did not save themselves. So God gets the praise for their salvation and they are grateful for the spiritual surgery that God does which saves people.

            Robert

      David R. Brumbelow

      Chris Roberts,
      Would you please show in a short, concise way, from Scripture, why we are semi-Pelagians and why it is un-Scriptural?

      It seems to me much of the charges of semi-Pelagianism is just Calvinists upset because we disagree with Calvinist doctrine.
      David R. Brumbelow

        Mary

        Calvinists are not just upset that we disagree with Calvinist doctrine – they’re upset because for years they’ve presumed to tell us we’re all Arminians exposing the fact that for years they had no clue what a majority of the SBC actually believes. And instead of just admitting that they never bothered to listen to the other side all these years in the SBC they have to resort to name-calling to make themselves feel better.

        Calvinists do not want unity no matter how many unity resolutions are passed. What they want is to tell people what they believe and for people to submit willingly to the superior intellect and biblical betters. That’s the definition of unity for Calvinists.

          Darryl Hill

          Mary, I know you’re upset, but your rant here in no way reflects my attitude or desire.

          Actually, I’m not upset at all. I’m simply here attempting to offer a reasonable response to the questions and discussion because I desire unity. I’m a life-long Southern Baptist who grew up a traditionalist and whose theology changed around 2005. I have no desire whatsoever to leave the SBC. I love Southern Baptists, love the Cooperative Program, and want to see unity among my brethren, whether we agree on every detail of doctrine or not.

          As far as any evaluation of the trad statement being semi-P, I have already given my explanation above. I do not think the entire statement is S-P. I simply think that the denial from Article 2 implies it, and I think this is a reasonable and defensible position. I do not think all the signers are semi-p or have any intention of holding that position. I simply think that one phrase implies it and could be rewritten or modified slightly and the whole semi-P charge goes away; and the entire tenor of this discussion changes instantly. And I know there is nobody here who would be willing to concede that point and that it seems an insult to everyone that I would suggest it. I’ve even pondered ways to change the phrasing that might be acceptable to all without changing what I believe to be the intent, but I think the very thought of that to most trads is tantamount to admitting complete failure, so it will likely never happen. (so I haven’t offered any suggestion)

          But hear me when I say this- I am ok. I am not angry. I do not think you are all a bunch of heretics. I am not trying to insult anyone. I am not trying to control the convention or anyone else for that matter. I am simply trying to explain my point of view. I am not attacking anyone, questioning anyone’s intelligence or motives, or anything even remotely similar to that. But it seemed to me that the article above wanted either an explanation or a surrender entirely. I have offered an explanation. But know this, I am fine if this doesn’t get changed. I will not lose sleep over it or kick my dog for it. Life will continue, Lord willing. But if you want to know WHY people have used that phrase, I think it has been explained.

      Tim Rogers

      Chris,

      I am about to explode. You have been challenged by your false understanding on the position of semi-Pelagian doctrine by a friend of yours, by Peter Lumpkins and myself, by others on various blogs and even by Dr. Brad Reynolds here today and you still insist on holding forth your definition. Even after being challenged in your “proposal for unity” you even push the envelope by saying you are trying to expose truth. So, your charge is we are hiding truth. Do you realize what you are saying?

      Here it is one more time just for you.

      A simple understanding of semi-Pelagianism dates back to 529ce. It was originally referred to as Marseillianism because Marseillies was condemned for teaching the “relics of Pelagius”. However “semi-Pelagianism” wasn’t named this until the 1500 or 1600’s when Molina needed to be discredited because of his “Middle Knowledge”. So basically “semi-Pelagianism” was the charge that was charged against Molinism. Are you now telling us that Molinism is semi-Pelagian?

      As one reads Marseillies and the monks that followed his teaching one will find basically three positions.

      1.) Faith is produced by a person as an act of moral goodness thus is a work of the free will only.

      2.) While condemning the Pelagius position that everyone is morally good and as such are free from sin and perform morally good acts, they affirmed that everyone has a right to grace or a claim to God’s grace regardless of anything else.

      3.) They affirmed that a person was saved as long as their good works maintained their position in God.

      The above three positions are basically what Marseillians taught and is described as semi-Pelagianism. Thus, the second Council of Orange of 529 was convened, not as a result of heretical teaching, but as a result of teaching that was not consistent with Augustine.

      None of the above Marseillian positions can be found in the TS that is clearly positioned in “affirmations” and “denials”. Therefore, as your friend over at whytheology so eloquently stated concerning the TS

      it is labeled semi-Pelagian merely because it is not a strict adherence to the Augustinian view of the Original Sin. According to Augustine, every person inherits both a nature inclined toward sin as well as the guilt of the initial sin of Adam (prior to any moral action themselves).

      At no place have we, the originators and signers of the TS, denied that every person inherits a nature inclined toward sin. At no place have we, the originators and signers of the TS, denied that salvation is initiated by God. At no place have we, the originators and signers of the TS, affirmed that humans are morally capable of saving themselves through good works. We have differed in only one place from Augustine. We deny that people inherited Adam’s guilt.

      So, Chris, stop this vendatta you have against the signers and originators of the TS simply because you cannot, from the wording of the TS, explain how it is semi-Pelagian. You have repeatedly misapplied the words from the Council of Orange in your effort. Thus, if this is the unity that you were shooting for them let’s just bring back the CBF because they repeatedly tried to tell us they were conservatives based on their definitions.

        Eddie OBrien

        As far as I can tell, Chris is taking his definition of Semi-Pelagianism from R.C. Sproul and Herman Bavinck in his 4 volume work called “Reformed Dogmatics.” It’s the article directly under “The Resolution on Unity.”

        Are we really allowed to make up our own definitions? I’m confused…

          Brad Reynolds

          Eddie,
          I agree that is the definition he is using. And affirm your question. Can Calvinists simply redefine the definition of S.P.? One surely has to wonder to what end would one desire to redefine the church’s definition? To what end would it serve to marginalize us as Semi-Pelagian? While we would not want to judge motives, it surely begs the question.
          Thanks for the interaction.

        Chris Roberts

        Tim,

        See this for more demonstration that the Statement is semi-Pelagian: http://www.seektheholy.com/2012/07/23/the-statement-and-the-second-council-of-orange/

        As for your explosive condition, I’ll grab a bunch of duct tape to put you back together.

          Tim Rogers

          Chris,

          I am not going to go to your place to read your sad, self-imposed, self-defined, definition of Semi-Pelagianism. I will, however, since you are insistent on the Council of Orange being the defining council on semi-Pelagianism remain with the definitions found in that Council’s decision. I will refuse to heed your personal definition based on RC Sproul’s personal definition of the Council. I can read as well as the next person, thus we will stay with the Council of Orange.

          Now, show me from the Council of Orange where the TS is semi-Pelagian.

            Chris Roberts

            Tim,

            “Now, show me from the Council of Orange where the TS is semi-Pelagian.”

            That’s exactly what I do in the post I linked above. Whether or not you choose to read it is up to you and the free exercise of your will.

        Lydia

        ” You have been challenged by your false understanding on the position of semi-Pelagian doctrine by a friend of yours, by Peter Lumpkins and myself, by others on various blogs and even by Dr. Brad Reynolds here today and you still insist on holding forth your definition. ”

        I might add that Jim G addressed this on both SBC Voices and Peter’s blog. He gave some very good background on the problems with Chris’ definition. I wish I could remember what thread it was in on Voices.

      Eddie OBrien

      Sorry, I forgot the source for the previous post… http://www.seektheholy.com/

        Tim Rogers

        Eddie,

        Here is the issue. We have asked numerous times about the definition. Each time there is no reality of the definition. We have refuted every position that has been thrown at us and shown in the TS how it is not semi-Pelagian. Now, if you would like to own RC Sproul’s definition of semi-Pelagian, then feel free to use that definition and reveal how the TS is shown to be semi-Pelagian according to RC Sproul.

          Tim Rogers

          Eddie,

          Also, if Chris is using RC Sproul’s definition of semi-Pelagianism answer one question. Where in the TS have we said;

          “There remains in the core of our being an island of righteousness that remains untouched by the fall.”

          At no place have we said that we have something good within us.
          <blockquoteArticle 2: we deny that any sinner is saved apart from a free response to the Holy Spirit’s drawing through the Gospel.
          Nothing there that speaks of an “island of righteousness”.

          Article 4: We deny that the response of faith is in any way a meritorious work that earns salvation.

          Nothing there that speaks of an “island of righteousness”.
          Article 5: We deny that any person is regenerated prior to or apart from hearing and responding to the Gospel.
          Nothing there that speaks of an “island of righteousness”.

          Article 7: We deny that God’s sovereignty and knowledge require Him to cause a person’s acceptance or rejection of faith in Christ.

          Nothing there that speaks of an “island of righteousness”.

          Article 8: We affirm that God, as an expression of His sovereignty, endows each person with actual free
          will (the ability to choose between two options), which must be exercised in accepting or rejecting God’s gracious call to salvation by the Holy Spirit through the Gospel.
          We deny that the decision of faith is an act of God rather than a response of the person. We deny that there is an “effectual call” for certain people that is different from a “general call” to any person who hears and understands the Gospel.

          Nothing, and I repeat NOTHING, found there either speaks of or affirms and “island of righteousness”.

          Thus, please show me where the document is a semi-Pelagian document using Sproul’s personal definition.

            Eddie OBrien

            Tim,

            Oh… You’ve got the wrong guy… I signed the TS without hesitation… I simply made the observation above that it was curious Chris would turn to two extremely Calvinists sources to define Semi-Pelagianism, a doctrine they obviously would give a harsh definition… and apparently a definition that is strangely different than the one Brad listed from the Oxford… With a proper definition of Semi-Pelagianism, I am confused why anyone cannot see that the TS are not such… I think I will give a hearty “I don’t think so…” to Sproul’s definition… and therefore, to the definition Chris is operating from.

            Eddie

      volfan007

      Here is my new resolution on Unity. We will seek to have unity in the SBC with all Bible Believers, who hold to Baptist doctrine. We do believe that all Calvinists are in error, due to thier fatalistic beliefs.

      How do you like that resolution Chris?

      David

        Chris Roberts

        David,

        I don’t mind a person stating I am in error (though I do hope they have reasonable means of arguing why I am in error), nor do I hold back from saying that the Statement is in error. Such is the nature of belief.

          Lydia

          “Such is the nature of belief.”

          No Chris, it is not. And that is the big problem. There are doctrines we must divide over but this is NOT one of those issues. Your brothers in Christ have explained themselves ad nauseum to you with tolderance and love trying to build unity for two months now. Yet, you insist on elevating your specific interpretive position over love for your siblings. That is not honoring Jesus’ commands. True belief results in love not this nitpicking. You are elevating a minor point of doctrine over people. I am not sure you realize this but that is one of the tenants of cultish thinking.

          Unless, of course, you have redefined “love” for us, too

      Chris Roberts

      Brad,

      Regarding the Statement’s semi-Pelagianism and the Second Council of Orange, I’ve written up my thoughts here: http://www.seektheholy.com/2012/07/23/the-statement-and-the-second-council-of-orange/

        Brad Reynolds

        Chris
        You have demonstrated an excellent ability to make a point via redefinition but have yet to show the T.S as SP

        I will respond in short demonstrating your ability.

        1) You conveniently quote the statement as stating “when a person responds in faith to the Gospel, God promises to complete the process of salvation in the believer…” but neglect to state the statement further states “We affirm that grace is God’s generous decision to provide salvation for any person by taking all of the initiative…in uniting the believer to Christ through the Holy Spirit.” One is immediately struck as to why one would do such? For, what reason would one not affirm that the statement speaks of God’s grace initiating salvation? Especially, when SP is defined as man initiating salvation with God’s grace coming later. Surely, this begs the question concerning your supposed call to unity. (You also neglect to mention that we affirm God is Sovereign over every person’s salvation – but again admitting such might negate the very post you wrote)

        2) Your point concerning faith being man’s response conflates faith with “desire for faith” – If you can show us in our TS that we state that our desire for faith comes from us and not God we would certainly be interested in seeing such. Alas, I fear you will be unable to do so, for it is not there.

        Concerning the rest of your statement, for times sake let’s just say you read the Council’s Canons (and the TS for that matter) through the lens of a Calvinist. Something we shall choose not to do, nor to be forced to agree with. Further, we choose not to accept your definition of Semi-Pelagianism in lieu of the Oxford’s Dictionary of the Christian Church’s definition.

        One thing that should be clear to everyone, however, is that there is no doubt Augustine had major influence on the Canons and he was Calvinist before Calvin:) Nevertheless, even though Scriptures alone are binding (and Councils make mistakes) and even though Augustine had major influence we still deny that the TS conflicts with the Canons unless one chooses to interpret both the TS and the canons through the lens of Calvinism.

        Another thing that should be overwhelmingly evident by now is from whence comes the disunity in the SBC. Quite frankly, your call for unity is as vacuous as a Militant Muslim’s call for peace. I have no intention of being quarrelsome here but had you given as much effort in working toward unity as you have in trying to prove we are Semi-Pelagian you would have numerous Trads applauding your actions (which would have matched you words). As it is you continually drive a wedge between Calvinists and Trads which is unChristlike.

        Please note that I am choosing not to call you a heretic, even though I feel your soteriology logically ends up making God the author of evil. I could state that you believe God authors evil but that would not be fair to you – because to my knowledge you have not said such. Nor will I try to define your beliefs for you. I will allow you to do so. We would appreciate the same courtesy, especially from someone who addresses the entire convention with a call for unity!

        Finally, as I stated earlier: for the sake of unity in affirming both my article and your resolution I ask you to join me. I will refrain from calling you a heretic by saying you believe in the heresy of God authoring evil and in turn you will refrain from calling me a heretic by falsely claiming I signed a Semi-Pelagian document. Further, I will defer from defining your beliefs and in turn you will defer from defining mine. Does this sound unifying to you? This can prove you and I both are willing to live up to our statements (article and resolution) and provide leadership to others for the sake of unity.

          Chris Roberts

          “For, what reason would one not affirm that the statement speaks of God’s grace initiating salvation?”

          I quote that section directly and discuss it in my summary of the Statement’s position. I’m sorry you didn’t read that paragraph, but a quick search will turn it up. It does raise the question of how carefully you read the post. I can accept that you’re busy and have things to do other than read other people’s blogs, but to respond as you did and yet give indication that you didn’t even bother to read all that I wrote, that says quite a bit.

          Either way, in my discussion I think it is made clear that the Statement’s idea of God’s initiative does not refer to what the Council had in mind.

          “You also neglect to mention that we affirm God is Sovereign over every person’s salvation”

          I thought about including that, but God’s sovereignty gets a single unclarified sentence in the Statement so it’s not clear in what way God is seen as sovereign over man’s salvation. I cannot summarize what the Statement means about God’s sovereignty in salvation when all it gives is the bare statement.

          “If you can show us in our TS that we state that our desire for faith comes from us and not God we would certainly be interested in seeing such.”

          Let me ask you: where does the desire for faith come from? Does God implant the desire? Does God create it in individuals? Are individuals incapable of desiring God so God must give them that desire? I grant that the language of desire is not in the Statement, yet I believe what I put is consistent with the Statement. For instance, the Statement clearly affirms people have the free ability to choose between two options. This opens up a host of possibilities, including this one of desiring faith: a person is presented with the gospel and is told that God’s grace is the most precious gift available, that we should desire his grace, a grace we receive by faith. When the individual looks upon grace as something desirable, something he wants, something to be received only by faith and he thus desires faith through his free-will choice, does that not place the origin of desire in himself on the basis of his choice? If not, then from whence comes the desire for faith?

          “Concerning the rest of your statement, for times sake let’s just say you read the Council’s Canons (and the TS for that matter) through the lens of a Calvinist. Something we shall choose not to do, nor to be forced to agree with.”

          That could be fair, if you could demonstrate that my arguments are inaccurate and reflect a biased reading.

          “Further, we choose not to accept your definition of Semi-Pelagianism in lieu of the Oxford’s Dictionary of the Christian Church’s definition.”

          I also interact with that definition in my post, something you might have noticed had you bothered to read it.

          “we still deny that the TS conflicts with the Canons unless one chooses to interpret both the TS and the canons through the lens of Calvinism.”

          You deny that which is plainly obvious and I don’t know what else to say. On point after point, the Statement affirms what the Council denies, and the Statement denies what the Council affirms. Read the Canons and tell me you could sign off on them. If you are right that the Statement does not conflict with the Canons then shouldn’t a signer of the Statement be able to sign the Canons?

          “Another thing that should be overwhelmingly evident by now is from whence comes the disunity in the SBC.”

          Indeed. So please stop denying simple, obvious reality, call the Statement what it is, and let’s get back to cooperating in the work given to us.

            Tim Rogers

            Chris,

            For instance, the Statement clearly affirms people have the free ability to choose between two options.

            This is the absolute bottom line disagreement you have with the TS. You deny that people have the free ability to choose. We affirm people have the free ability to choose.

            And for this, Mr. Unity, is calling us heretics?

            Brad Reynolds

            Chris
            I really have no desire to further interact with you. Were you a Trad friend of mine I would have already contacted you privately to encourage to stop dividing Christians. I am really at a loss as to why you insist on name-calling. First, you cannot be trying to keep people from signing the statement. Second, I am confident neither of us care what others think so it is not about “winning.” And third by your definition of SP our belief is not heresy (although we still choose not to affirm your definition over Oxford’s dictionary of the Christian Church). Thus, one is struck as to why another Christian would purposely drive a wedge between Christians? Do you really think calling us SP honors Christ?

            I will address a couple of items of your concern. First I read your entire post, your accusation that I did not is assumptive at best. However, I understand why you would make such an assumption. I only responded to the points you made concerning the TS and the canons. What I failed to do was memorize your post and thus recall that quote. However, this does not negate the fact that you have chosen to interpret our words the way you desire. Which is what we are most reactive against. You have chosen to define what we mean by God takes all the initiative. We don’t define your beliefs and yet you continue to define ours.

            You said “Either way, in my discussion I think it is made clear that the Statement’s idea of God’s initiative does not refer to what the Council had in mind” which evidences you read both through the lens of Calvinism rather than letting our statement and us speak for ourselves. And yet, even though you explain what we mean by God initiating you say it is beyond you to explain what we mean by Sovereignty. Interesting and more to the point of my comment to which you responded.

            Further, I never said you didn’t interact with Oxford’s definition (again either an assumption or not a careful reading of my post – something you are reacting against me about) you just replace it with your definition to which we object.

            Frankly, Chris you actions are demonstrable and do not match your words for unity. The Bible speaks of such duplicity. Therefore, I have no desire to continue discussions with you. I have offered an olive branch which you have refused. And yet, I will still NOT call you a heretic.

              Chris Roberts

              Brad,

              “Therefore, I have no desire to continue discussions with you.”

              Then if this is to be our final interaction let me wrap it up by saying may God continue to bless you as you work in his kingdom for his glory.

                Brad Reynolds

                Chris,
                I did want one final interaction and that is to apologize publicly for misquoting you. I called you out publicly for not saying something and yet you did say it – you defined it in your terms which is what offends us, but you did say it. And so I do sincerely apologize for that.

                I wish I could further state I appreciate your words concerning God’s blessing on my life but frankly I do not appreciate someone calling me a heretic and then saying he is not calling me such (be redefining SP) and then asking God to bless me. It is not your asking God to bless me that is offensive, but the duplicity of such. I hope and pray that makes sense one day.

        Brad Reynolds

        Chris
        If I may offer an explanation as to the response you are getting from so many Trads here. We find it somewhat duplicitous for the primary voice calling us Semi-Pelagian (something many Calvinists in this very comment thread have refused to do (possibly out of their desire for unity or simply out of courtesy)) to be the one that called the convention to unity.

        I hope that is helpful in understanding why you are receiving such a response.

      Alan Davis

      There has been much said on the threads here in days past concerning Faith…is it a gift from God or is it a response of man. The question has arose from the Traditional Statement that has been the subject of a lot of responses. The authors and signers have every right to draw up this document. It certainly has caused many of us to dig a little deeper and think a little harder. First let’s take a look at what the Traditional Statement says distinctly about faith:
      “We deny that the decision of faith is an act of God rather than a response of the person.”
      Now lets see what our BFM2000 says concerning faith:
      A. Regeneration, or the new birth, is a work of God’s grace whereby believers become new creatures in Christ Jesus. It is a change of heart wrought by the Holy Spirit through conviction of sin, to which the sinner responds in repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Repentance and faith are inseparable experiences of grace.”
      So the TS says they deny faith is an act of God, and the BFM says faith is a grace. Now according to the Webster dictionary, grace is- unmerited divine assistance given humans for their regeneration…a virtue coming from God. Now according to Nelsons Bible Dictionary grace is- favor or kindness shown without regard to the worth or merit of the one who receives it. We all know the tried and true definition that grace in relation to God is God’s unmerited favor.

      I believe the writers and drafters of the BFM2000 probably had a similar definition in mind as those above. With that in mind they wrote and we as Baptist have said in the BFM2000 that “repentance AND faith are inseparable experiences of grace.” If faith is an experience of grace then it is a gift since that is what grace is. I do not know if all baptist believe grace is a total work of God but I do believe that historically that is what Baptists have believed as a whole. If faith is a grace then it cannot just be the response of man and not an act of God.

      Eph.2:8 tells us; “For by grace are ye saved through faith: and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God”

      Now some have said this can not be interrupted as faith is a gift. Well lets look at some interruptions from some well known theologians. The Pulpit Commentary says of the later part of this verse; “this usage confirms the view that it is not merely faith, but the whole work and person of Christ which faith receives, that is meant here as ‘the gift of God”. The writers seemed confirmed that enabling grace, salvation and faith are all three a gift of God.

      Now lets look at what HA Ironside says of this verse; “Theologians have questioned as to whether “not of yourselves’ means the salvation or the faith. We may apply it to the whole subject in question, “by grace are ye saved, and that not of yourselves.” The grace, the salvation are not of yourselves. ‘by grace are ye saved through faith, and not of yourselves.” The faith is not of yourselves; it is all the gift of God. But somebody says, ‘if faith is the gift of God and God is not pleased to give me that gift, how can I believe?” Scripture says, “Faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.” God gives the gift of faith to all who give heed to the message of the gospel”

      And then we have Warren Wiersbe speaking of this very verse; “It refers to the whole experience of salvation, including faith”

      Herbert Lockyear says of faith in All of the Doctrines; “Faith is a gift of God resulting from His grace. He not only supplys a Savior but the faith to believe in Him as such.”

      I purposely used non Calvinists in this post.

      Now when reading the TS statement about faith being a response of man and not an act of God and after reading over and over by some bloggers here how faith is not a gift of God I begin to think my understanding that faith is a gift of God was a foreign concept that maybe needed some further study. This I have done and the above is a small piece of that study. My conclusion based on scripture, several known theologians and the BFM2000; faith is a gift of God. This conclusion is probably not as rare nor as foreign a concept in SB life as some would have us believe.

      Alan

        Brad Reynolds

        Alan
        No one I know has denied that grace is needed for faith – hence this conforms to the BFM. Saying faith is experienced via grace is not equivalent to saying faith is a gift.

        Regarding your quotes from commentaries I certainly appreciate your work here. However, moving from the commentaries to Scriptures we find that the noun form of faith in the NT (translated as faith) is no where used as a gift from God (with the only possible exception being Eph 2:8 – however a better understanding of “that” is “salvation” not “grace” for that is the context of the verse and conforms to Paul calling it the Ephesians faith (not God’s faith given to them) just a few verses earlier. Moreover while faith is never used in reference as a gift from God it is used 39 times in reference to man’s faith. Even John Calvin rightly interpreted Eph 2:8).

        I personally would not struggle with it referencing a grace faith salvation. But the gift is still the salvation with grace and faith defining the type of salvation. The gift is not the grace nor the faith in this text (although I affirm grace is a gift) but the salvation which is a grace faith salvation.

          Alan Davis

          Brother Brad,

          Hope you are having a good day. As to the first sentence in your response; I was just pointing out what appears to be a rejection that God has anything to do with our faith (saving faith). If God’s grace is needed for faith then why deny it is an act of God. This sentence seems to me to deny God has anything to do with it “…deny it is an act of God”

          TS “We deny that the decision of faith is an act of God rather than a response of the person.”

          I did not include the preceding affirmation as it does not appear to lend directly to understanding this sentence nor have I included the sentence after for the same reason. So I feel I haven’t wrestled the sentence out of it’s context.

          Given that the sentence appears to “deny” (reject) that faith is an act of God. That is what it says. It also seems to be saying that it is totally an act of the one responding. If it isn’t an act of God then it must be totally the act of man. The statement rejects God has anything to do with our faith (deny that faith is an act of God)

          Now as to the second sentence of your response; The BFM2000 says of repentance and faith; Repentance and faith are inseparable experiences of grace.”
          The best I can tell with a little help is that the sentence structure makes repentance and faith the subject of the sentence. If one experiences repentance and faith, the subject, then it is of grace (the gift). Let’s put the short definition for grace in place of the word grace in this sentence from the BFM2000
          Repentance and faith are inseparable experiences of God’s unmerited favor.” Now if God had not shown His unmerited favor (grace,gift) there would be no experience of repentance and faith which are graces (gifts) of God. The grace written of here is the same grace that gifts salvation.

          As to what you have said of Eph 2:8 as far as word usage, Wolverd and Zuck agree with you as does John Phillips and I am sure others. However the ones who recognized what you have pointed out as to word usage, some have said what Wiersbe said (who also recognized the word usage). “The whole experience of salvation written of in this verse; grace, salvation and faith, are gifts from God.”

          Also as to the scriptures never referencing faith as a gift, there is some who would disagree with you on that. Some of the commentators above that I have mentioned and probably more than a few SB living. Once again numbers do not make anyone right though. I am just pointing out that there is another thought pattern on faith being a gift.

          However, my point in writing on faith was to point out the idea that faith (saving faith) is a gift from God is not a foreign concept at all nor rare in SB life. In the past or now.

          Thank you for your response you always seem gracious and make me think. I certainly do take your words in serious contemplation and respect your thoughts. We certainly are after the same thing and plowing in the same field.

          Alan

            Brad Reynolds

            Alan
            Thank you friend. Let me respond in short if I may. There is certainly some sentence structures in the BFM which could be more clear. I assume they were left vague to be able to be inclusive of both Trads and Calvinists. That being said I think it is very reasonable to understand the sentence as saying Repentance and faith are both inseparable experiences that take place via grace. I would not argue that one could also interpret it the way do. (I will however, point out concerning the BFM2000 that I do not think one can interpret “Therefore, as soon as they are capable of moral action, they become transgressors and are under condemnation” as allowing inherited guilt unless one assumes an embryo is capable of moral action).

            Further, by denying faith is an act of God none of us have nor would we say God’s grace is not involved. In fact, we have over and over and over again said it is involved. If that in your mind makes it an act of God then I am fine with that, but for the authors and signers of the statement it does not. And we have consistently asked not to have others tell us what we mean (and to your credit I have never seen you do this and for that I am grateful).

            You finally say some would disagree that Scriptures refer to faith as a gift. If you could point to another Scripture where “faith” as a noun in the Greek is referenced as a gift I would certainly desire to research it. I have looked myself and to my knowledge there is no such passage.

            Thanks again for the interaction and the way in which you do so.

              Alan Davis

              Brother Brad,

              I hear you and understand some what better the stance. I especially hear you at the last part of the first paragraph. I have read some of what was written concerning this and saw the debate.

              I think you are right concerning the writing and the writers of the BFM2000 leaving some room for both camps. Thank you for the conversation brother and I hope you have a great evening. By the way, thank you for your prayers, will be doing the same for you and many on here.

              Alan

                Brad Reynolds

                Alan
                Thanks brother. You just reminded me again to pray for you and others. May God continue to use our prayers for each other to bridge gaps which would otherwise not be bridged.

        Bob Hadley

        Alan,

        Brad is correct. Grace is needed FOR faith. Read the BF&M that you quoted..
        Repentance and faith are inseparable experiences of grace.”
        So the TS says they deny faith is an act of God, and the BFM says faith is a grace. You are taking liberties with the BF&M that simply are not there. There is a BIG difference in saying faith is an experience of grace and saying faith is a grace.

        I absolutely disagree with your assertion that faith is a gift using Eph.2:8. “For by grace are ye saved through faith: and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God” It is the gift of God does not refer to faith; “it” refers to grace, the subject of the sentence which brings about conversion. To prove my point, I can leave the phrase out that refers to faith and the verse still has perfect meaning.

        “For by grace are ye saved: and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God” No change in meaning whatsoever; through faith further clarifies by grace are you saved for faith is the condition God gave for the provision He provided for conversion. So grace comes from God and faith is from man.

        As I said earlier in this thread, God’s provisions are for those who believe. Simple enough to understand. Now… the provisions require a response.

        Do you think it is fair to say that God is the One who gives me the response He requires from me for Him to save me? That is the problem I have with calvinism.

        ><>”

          Alan Davis

          Brother Bob,

          Hope your day is a good one. I do not feel I have taken liberties brother. Forgive me Bob for repeating but this is my response to that;

          The BFM2000 says of repentance and faith; Repentance and faith are inseparable experiences of grace.”

          The best I can tell with a little help is that the sentence structure makes repentance and faith the subject of the sentence. If one experiences repentance and faith, the subject, then it is of grace (the gift). Let’s put the short definition for grace in place of the word grace in this sentence from the BFM2000
          Repentance and faith are inseparable experiences of God’s unmerited favor.” Now if God had not shown His unmerited favor (grace,gift) there would be no experience of repentance and faith which are graces (gifts) of God. The grace written of here is the same grace that gifts salvation.

          What does this sentence say repentance and faith is? experiences of grace (God’s gift). To experience repentance anf faith is a gift (grace) from God. So i do not feel I have taken any liberty that is not there on that particular matter brother Bob.

          Now as to Eph.2:8 According to what I have read of this verse and my studies you are partly correct but missing some according to many commentators. As I said to brother Brad above some of those who proclaim the sentence structure and the word usage the same also include the whole experience of salvation referenced in 2:8, that the whole experience, grace, salvation and faith are gifts from God.

          Once again the reason I wrote above was to point out that the idea that faith is a gift from God is not some foreign or rare concept in SB life, in the past nor now.

          Bob, thank you for your interaction brother and your thought provoking responses. I read one of yours the other day and I thought that it was right on. Have a fruitful day for the Lord brother.

          Alan

            Bob Hadley

            Alan,

            Sometimes I am not as humble in what I write as I ought to be but I do try… and then sometimes in trying to communicate a thought in print, I may appear to be less humble and more aggressive and then there are times when I have written to certain people and neither applies! You fell in the one I intended to be gracious to!!! Thanks for your gracious reply as well.

            Here is my rub. I see faith being touted as a gift by those who are supporting effectual calling and irresistible grace. Their contention is that faith is a gift from God and that faith like a seed germinating in the ground brings about new birth in the lost unregenerate individual.

            My point is this: that position is not established in the language of the BF&M… now one can argue the BF&M does not refute it but to attempt to argue the BF&M necessarily affirms that position is in my opinion in serious error. It seemed to me that was your position. You indicated that the following statement was in conflict with the BF&M and I do not believe that to be the case…
            “We deny that the decision of faith is an act of God rather than a response of the person.”

            The use of Eph 2 is also a popular one that I have argued on a number of occasions. If one did not read that passage with calvinist lenses, I do not believe they would read into that verse Faith is a gift from God that effectually brings about one’s conversion. I reject that totally.

            Thanks again for your input.

            ><>”

              Alan Davis

              Brother Bob,

              Thank you brother for the reply and I do hear you and see what your talking about though we may not line totally up on a few points.

              Just one note for thought; grace enabled faith (saving faith) does not have to be one of a Calvinistic bent (though I am somewhat: spurgeonist). I did notice on a previous article that you had a list of actions God takes and mans responses. I enjoyed yours and the other fellows. In a non Calvinist (or non-SG) thought pattern, God could easily give faith as man responds to light already given. The idea of faith as a gift could fit into a non-Calvinistic thought pattern. just saying, I know that you have your thought pattern already and it is well thought out.

              Anyway, that was just a musing of mine to you brother Bob. Hey have a great evening and hope you have a great Wed service tomorrow brother. Plow on.

              Alan

      Denilio Gorena

      It never ceases to amaze me that people will say that we ought to stop labeling each other in order to keep the peace. However, you wrote:

      “If we are to have unity in the SBC between the Traditionalists and Calvinists, then the name-calling should cease.”

      Really? If this is the case, then why do you separate us by these labels?!?

        Brad Reynolds

        Denilio
        If you affirm the doctrines of grace and being called a Calvinist offends you let me know I will try to refrain from such when commenting with you. Labels help describe our beliefs. “Christian” is a label. “Muslim” is a label. For most here Traditional and Calvinist is not offensive because it helps clarify positions on soteriology. I hope that is helpful as to why I would use those labels.

          Denilio Gorena

          Brad:

          Thanks for your clarification. I did not claim to be either Calvinistic or Traditionalist, rather, for clarification sake, if you use labels while saying that we need to cease using labels seems to me a contradiction. This was the point. An immediate example is your assumption that I am a Calvinist and that I would be upset by your words. I was not nor am I upset with you for making the suggestion of refraining from using the term. It appears to me that some are upset by people calling them Calvinist or Traditionalist or whatever else.

          It matters not to me what you claim you are (Calvinist or Traditionalist). What matters most is that we are both seeking for Truth that is only found in the Person and Work of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and what is found in His Word.

          With that said, thanks again for the clarification of what you were saying.

          Denilio

            Brad Reynolds

            Denilio
            I apologize for any miscommunication. I don’t think I implied I was opposed to labels but rather to name-calling. For the record I am not opposed to labels that describe our beliefs. I am opposed to hurtful name-calling. Thanks again for the interaction and I strongly affirm your words “What matters most is that we are both seeking for Truth that is only found in the Person and Work of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and what is found in His Word”

              Denilio Gorena

              Brad:

              I appreciate the interaction. Your graciousness is well received.

              Denilio

      Donald

      Chris Roberts,

      Who (with both standing and credibility) concurs with you in your personal definition of semipelagianism?

      Donald

      M. R. Williams

      Brad:

      I promise!!! I’m trying REALLY hard on this end to follow this. You write:

      “The 19 month old would have sinned by transgressing God’s law regarding the taking of another’s life. While he did so without knowledge of his action or God’s law he still did so.”

      I THINK what you are articulating is your understanding of Romans 5;13 – sin is not imputed where there is no law. It’s not that there is no law, but for your 19 month old there is “no law” because he has no cognitive understanding of what he did. Thus, what he did in your senario was technically a transgression, but since he can’t perceive it as such due to his lack of understanding, it is not imputed to him.

      Am I on track?

      Respectfully,
      Michael

        Brad Reynolds

        Michael
        No I wasn’t referencing Romans 5:13 – I think that references those other than Israel. I was speaking that the infant at the time is incapable of “knowing” God’s law. I am not saying the sin is not imputed to the infant. I don’t think imputation is involved in one’s personal action. What I am saying is the infant is not held guilty until knowledge of right and wrong (sin) is attained. I hope that clarifies a little.

          Debbie Kaufman

          So a brand new Christian who is an adult, and not knowing everything that is sin, commits sin, but since he/she doesn’t realize it is sin is not liable or responsible for that sin? So then what do we do with these passages?

          That servant who knows his master’s will and does not get ready or does not do what his master wants will be beaten with many blows. But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows. From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked (Luke 12:47-48 NIV).

          Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief (1 Timothy 1:13 NIV).

            Brad Reynolds

            Debbie
            I apologize if I may have left that impression. I was speaking of infants not reaching the age of accountability (age of the knowledge of good and evil). I certainly affirm infants as well as adults commit innocent sins but I do not affirm infants are guilty of such before the age of the knowledge of good and evil. And thus was using that phrase to reference the time when they knew sin was sin (knowledge of evil). All adults with the exception of some mentally impaired reached that age long ago. I hope that helps and thanks for the interaction.

      Debbie Pearce

      Why not explain what you believe directly from scripture? As a untrained lay-person, I tire of the constant quotes from other documents. I tire of the labels each side puts on each other. I am a Christian who chooses to worship in a Southern Baptist Church.

        selahV

        Debbie Pearce, hello, I believe I understand your desire to have the TS explained via scripture. That is what the writers of the Traditional Statement did in the statement when they gave us scripture references. Then each of the 10 articles in the statement were written about separately here at SBC Today, (and other places in blog-land). The problem as I see it in today’s climate is that folks who disagree with the Traditional Baptists’ Statement want to bring into the mix a bunch of councils of those people you do not want to know about. So the writers and authors and defenders of the Traditional Statement have to answer their questions (ad nauseum), and explain (ad nauseum) why their Traditional Baptist Statement does NOT line up with their own definitions of those councils (like Orange), and other theologians/philosophers like Augustine and Pelagius from thousands of years ago (not to mention hundreds of writers and theologians born since then).

        I am a lay person, my husband is a retired Southern Baptist minister. This debate between New Calvinists and Traditional Baptists has reached a pitch which causes most of we lay-folk to cringe, scratch our heads, and–gratefully, to search our Bibles and read more carefully the Scriptures which speak to our faith as Southern Baptists, as Christians. I weary of being called a heretic for believing what I believe. However, after reading the arguments from notable Calvinists (like Dr. Al Mohler, president of the SBTS which is all-calvinistic theologians), and reformed bloggers (mostly Chris Roberts’ since he is the author of the Southern Baptist 2012 Unity Resolution), I’ve been convinced that the word “unity” has taken on new meaning. It obviously does not mean what I think it means.

        Dr. Brad Reynolds, and others, have repeatedly shown, with great patience and tolerance, that we Traditional Baptists are not heretical in our beliefs. Yet it is not enough. We are not ever, in my opinion, going to be able to satisfy their opinions of us unless we either embrace the Doctrines of Grace (as they define them), and become Calvinists, or we change our Traditionalist Statement to read the way they want it worded, according to THEIR belief and doctrinal interpretations. Thus, here we are. Now as a traditionalist, here is how I, a lay-person, understands the portion of the Statement which has so many calvinists in a dither. http://selahvtoday.typepad.com/sbcenc/2012/06/a-laypersons-take-on-article-two-of-the-statement-of-traditional-southern-baptists.html

        Hope this helps a little bit, Debbie. I pray God’s greatest blessings upon you and yours. selahV

          M. R. Williams

          Enjoyed reading about how God saved you.

          Respectfully,
          Michael

      Brad Reynolds

      To all with whom I have disagreed:

      Last night as I finished responding God prompted me to pray for each of you by name. I prayed for you and your families (I am not aware if you are all married and have children but I prayed as if you were). I prayed that if your children were not yet saved they would come to such a time. I do not say this in anyway to receive man’s accolades. Such selfish and prideful motives are offensive (yet I confess I am too oft tempted). Rather, I share this first to state I want to be faithful to what I have written and second to try to work toward unity.

      I would truly appreciate your prayers for me and my family as well. I have a wife and four children. May God use our prayers to build unity amongst such diverse soteriological positions.

      Thank you all for responding

      and to my fellow Trads the Holy Spirit also prompted me to pray for each of you who commented.

        M. R. Williams

        Brad:

        Thanks for praying!

        – Marrried for 33 years
        – 4 children (all married) & 8 grandchildren (and 2 in layaway!)
        – pastor of a church which is 10 years old

        God bless you brother.

        You’ve been nothing but cordial to me in every exchange!

        Michael

        selahV

        Brad, thanks so much for praying for all those who’ve engaged your post. You and others who have tried to explain the position of Traditional Baptists have shown yourselves beyond tolerant and manifested a tone which all ambassadors for Christ could emulate. I know, for me, I am learning from your gracious responses to comments here at SBC Today. May we all become as patient and steadfast. selahV

        Alan Davis

        Brother Brad,

        Thank you brother! I promise to do the same for you and others.

        Alan

        Lydia

        Brad, What a blessing you are.

      volfan007

      Chris,

      I find your calls for unity hollow. Your accusations and name calling make it ring very hollow. So, please quit talking about unity, if you’re gonna keep name calling and accusing.

      David

      Robert

      Hello Les,

      You gave a hypothetical scenario. This is a typical move by determinists. To argue the so-called “what makes you to differ argument” (i.e. if people make the decision to trust in the Lord freely, then they might boast about it, or we might claim the one that chooses to believe as opposed to the one that chooses to reject is smarter, more spiritual, etc.). What the determinist seems to forget is that if the non-calvinist is correct, then God leaves the decision of whether or not you want to be saved up to the human person (though the decision itself does not save the person, God alone saves people).

      “Here is the thing. A preacher is proclaiming the gospel to two men. Both lost. Each can hear the words and scriptures being quoted. i. e. their hearing works fine. At the end man A responds to a call to repent and believe by professing faith in Christ. Man B responds by shaking his fist at the preacher and God and walks away.
      Both men heard the exact same thing. Why did man B walk away?”

      Simple answer: he chose to reject the gospel message at that time.

      I say at that time because most people don’t convert the first time they hear the message (usually they have to hear more and on different occcasions). So a person may hear the message multiple times before deciding to accept it. He may also hear the message multiple times and keep choosing to reject it.

      Just as people have different reasons for choosing to trust in Christ, people also have different reasons for choosing not to believe at a particular time.

      There is no single reason why one decides to trust and another decides to reject.

      “Calvinists say it’s because both men came under the preaching in the same condition…lost, spiritually dead, spiritually deaf and spiritually blind. Both were as Paul describes in 1 Cor., unable to spiritually discern spiritual things in their natural born state.”

      Apart from the preconversion work of the Spirit we are all unable to choose to trust in Christ for salvation (cf. Jn. 6:44). The work of the Spirit enables but does not necessitate a faith response.

      “But in that gospel presentation, something happened. We say the Spirit regenerated man A and suddenly his spiritual hearing worked. His heart warmed to the things of God, where before he had been cold and indifferent to them. All of a sudden he could see the beauty of the kingdom of Christ and he sees himself undone and hopeless and helpless in is and repents and believes in Jesus as a conscious decision. God didn’t have to force him like a puppet master. All god had to do was remove his heart of stone and make alive a heart of flesh. Open his ears to hear.”

      Most determinists that I have encountered believe that regeneration both precedes and NECESSARILY PRODUCES a faith response in people.

      For these calvinists, if regeneration occurs that person will become a believer, will choose to trust Christ, and that response is determined and unavoidable. And these same calvinists believe that God only regenerates those whom he first decided in eternity to save. So only those preselected for salvation will be regenerated and all of those regenerated will become believers. All others not selected for salvation will not be regenerated and so are never enabled to have a faith response to the gospel.

      Les cloaks his determinism with language such as: “God didn’t have to force him like a puppet master. All god had to do was remove his heart of stone and make alive a heart of flesh. Open his ears to hear.” But regeneration does **force** a sinner to have faith, he cannot avoid it. He has to do it if he is regenerated. “Removing the heart of stone and making it alive” in the minds of determinists is just language for what regeneration does. And it must be remembered that within this deterministic theology, while God could save everyone because he could regenerate everyone in this way, instead he chooses to regenerate only some (only those preselected for salvation) while intentionally damning the rest.

      “If I understand what you and trads here are saying, Man A and Man B are neither one acted on in that way as I described. Please tell me if I’m misunderstanding. What I see you all saying is that both men have the same Spirit working in that presentation on them. They both are convicted. They both have capacity to understand the gospel and both have capacity to respond positively.”

      Yes if the Spirit works in a person he has the ability to enable even the most hardened sinner to have a faith response to the gospel (I have seen it first hand many times). But the non-calvinist does not believe this preconversion work of the Spirit ***necessitates** a faith response (as regeneration necessitates a faith response according to determinists) because we are not determinists.

      “If one does believe and the other doesn’t, Calvinists look at that and see that the only difference in the responses in Man A and Man B is the human will.”

      And the problem with that is?

      Especially if it is ****God himself**** who sovereignly decided that things would be that way?

      If God decided that he would choose to save those who freely choose to trust Him, then isn’t that the way it would be?

      Because determinists and non-calvinists have different views of salvation and free will, they end up with different conclusions. For the determinist God alone decides who will be saved or lost and this is decided in eternity. For the non-calvinist while God foreknows who will decide to believe and who will decide to reject, God leaves this decision to the human person. And I cannot overemphasize that while the decision of whether or not to trust the Lord for salvation is left to the human person: the decision in and of itself is not what saves the person (God does by the things He does).

      “That appears to go against scripture in our view. I.e. it looks like in your system man ultimately decides his own fate.”

      And vice versa, theological determinism appears to go against scripture in our view. I.e. it looks like in your system man does not make the decision, God alone does. And something must be said about this claim that man ultimately decides his fate. That is not an accurate portrayal of the non-calvinist view. In our view the decision about whether you want to be saved or not is left up to human persons. But God ultimately decided that things would be this way and God’s actions are what ultimately save us, not our own actions. One of these “systems” appear to be in error and they are direct opposites so someone is correct in this and somone is mistaken in this.

      Robert

        Not The Original Les

        Robert,

        Thanks for your reply. While I disagree completely with you, I appreciate you taking the time to respond.

        “You gave a hypothetical scenario. This is a typical move by determinists.”

        Also, I am not a determinist. I am a compatibalist. I would appreciate in the future if you would refrain, at least when addressing me, that you not refer to me as such. You may think you can draw such a conclusion, but you would be incorrect. I’ll refrain from drawing conclusions that you are an Arminian or a semi-Pelagian and will not refer to you as such.

        Thanks brother.

        Les

          Robert

          Les wrote:

          “Thanks for your reply. While I disagree completely with you,”

          Well that is to be expected, no surprise there.

          “Also, I am not a determinist. I am a compatibalist.”

          Les is this another example of affirming a contradiction? (like your affirming both paedo and believer baptism simultaneously?) :-)

          In standard usage among both theologians and philosophers, a compatibilist with regard to free will ****is**** a determinist. Determinists are usually further distinguished as either “hard” determinists or “soft” determinists.

          Another name for soft determinist ***is*** compatibilist.

          “Compatibilist” and “soft determinist” are synonymous and interchangeable terms.

          Many calvinist scholars designate themselves as determinists/compatibilists. As I said in another thread to TR, “determinist” is not a pejorative term (Just as saying that someone is a “libertarian” is not a pejorative term.). These are merely commonly used terms to refer to people’s positions regarding free will.

          TR claimed that the term “determinism” itself is a pejorative term when applied to calvinists. He is completely mistaken in this claim because of the fact that **calvinists themselves** use the term ***in reference to themselves***.

          Many examples could be given to establish this point but I will present only one as it is crystal clear and authoritative. One of the most famous books on the subject of Calvinism, sovereignty, free will is the book PREDESTINATION & FREE WILL: Four Views of Divine Sovereignty & Human Freedom. John Feinberg presented the Calvinist position in that book.

          Look at what Feinberg says **of himself**:

          “Instead, like many other determinists, I claim that there is room for a genuine sense of free human action, even though such action is causally determined. . . .According to determinists such as myself, an action is free even if causally determined so long as the causes are nonconstraining. This view is often referred to as **soft determinism** or ** compatibilism**, for genuinely free human action is seen as **compatible** with nonconstraining sufficient conditions which include the will decisively in one way or another.” (p.24-25).

          Note Feinberg says twice of himself that he is a determinist. He has no problem with the term determinism being applied to himself. He also says that this form of determinism is also called **compatibilism** (in contrast Les said: “I am not a determinist. I am a compatibalist.”).

          Now Feinberg certainly would not be applying it to himself if he saw the term as pejorative or implying that his beliefs were heretical.

          The terms “compatibilist” and “libertarian” are NOT pejorative terms but instead are *****terms of common usage*****. Feinberg and numerous other Calvinist scholars view themselves as determinists/compatibilists and I believe they are both credible and accurate in this usage. So I will continue to use the term determinist when referring to calvinists.

          Calling a traditionalist a pelagian or semi-Pelagian **is** speaking pejoratively about them. Calling a calvinist a determinist **is not** speaking pejoratively about them (especially when calvinist scholars such as Feinberg etc. etc. etc. call themselves determinists with no hesitation or misgivings).

          I will not reject comon usage of terms, merely because Les appears to be unaware of the meaning of the terms and how they are commonly used by both non-calvinist and calvinist scholars, philosphers and theologians. I will continue to refer to calvinists as determinists and/or compatibilists. And I will not be the least upset if they in turn want to refer to me as non-determinist and/or libertarian.

          Robert

            Not The Original Les

            Robert,

            Whatever floats your boat brother. I asked. You’ve responded as you have.

            BTW, because Feinberg calls himself one does not make it so for all of us Calvinists. All I would have to do is find a Trad or several who denies the imputation of Christ and call you a “denier of imputed righteousness.” But I shall not, though those people exist.

            And I am not unaware of the historical usage of the word and its present usage.

            So whatever works for you, call me that. I’ll not lose even a wink of sleep over it.

            Grace to you,

            Les

              Robert

              Les you responded with:

              “BTW, because Feinberg calls himself one does not make it so for all of us Calvinists.”

              You intentionally avoid the point, Feinberg is merely representative of what many calvinists say of themselves. They are aware that compatibilists **are** determinists and that these are interchangeable and synonymous terms.

              “All I would have to do is find a Trad or several who denies the imputation of Christ and call you a “denier of imputed righteousness.” But I shall not, though those people exist.”

              And that has nothing to do with our discussion. We are discussing terms of common usage (the terms “determinist” and “compatibilist”). As far as we know there are no traditionalists going around calling themselves “imputationists” or “non-imputationists”! :-)

              On the other hand, many calvinists such as Feinberg, refer to themselves as compatibilists and/or determinists.

              “And I am not unaware of the historical usage of the word and its present usage.”

              From your comments apparently you ***are unaware*** of the historical and contemporary usage of the terms determinism and compatibilism.

              If you were, you (like Feinberg and myriads of other calvinists) would **know** that a compatibilist **is** a determinist.

              Again anyone actually aware of standard usage of the terms knows that a compatibilist is a form of determinist (and you made the claim that you are a compatibilist but not a determinist: “Also, I am not a determinist. I am a compatibalist.”)

              What is strange to me is why you would be so against a term of common usage? What are you hiding from? Why the evasiveness with something that involves a commonly used term?

              “So whatever works for you, call me that.”

              If it does not matter what terms are used, if they are not carefully used, we end up with Humpty Dumpty kind of thinking (i.e. when confronted with his strange and idiosyncratic use of terms replied: “When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.”).

              I suggest that we operate by standard usage of terms to make for reasonable discussion.

              You appear to want to be like Humpty Dumpty, just ignoring standard usage and making words mean whatever you want them to mean contrary to common usage. But again coming from you this is no longer surprising since you’re the same guy who claims that both paedo and believer baptism ought to be simultaneously be practiced. :-)

              Robert

                Not The Original Les

                Robert,

                Where did you learn to write with such grace?

                I saw a quote yesterday. It seems sort of appropriate here.

                “I’m sorry. In order for you to insult me, I must first value your opinion. Nice try though.”

                All in good fun brother, at least on my part.
                Have a grace filled evening. :)

        M. R. Williams

        Hi Robert:

        You wrote, “Apart from the preconversion work of the Spirit we are all unable to choose to trust in Christ for salvation (cf. Jn. 6:44). The work of the Spirit enables but does not necessitate a faith response.”

        Article two of the TS statement says, “We deny that Adam’s sin resulted in the incapacitation of any person’s free will or rendered any person guilty before he has personally sinned.”

        I have been reading with interest the discussions back and forth between several on the list and Chris Roberts. As a onlooker, this is what I “think” he sees as a major issue. What you say and what the TS says in article two sounds different. You say apart from a pre-conversion work of the Holy Spirit man is unable to choose to trust Christ. Whether a person believes in resistable grace or irresistable grace, this statement can be affirmed.

        But this is not what the TS seems to indicate. And repsectfully, to all involved in the conversation, I think that is why the SP issue keeps coming up.

        Respectfully submitted,
        Michael

          Brad Reynolds

          Michael
          Thanks again for your spirit. But if I may I would argue the SP issue keeps coming up because some refuse to accept either our statement or the Christian definition of SP – As Dale says above “Every church history book I’ve ever read understands this Council as having dealt with semi-Pelagianism as a heretical concept. Every church historian I’ve ever heard lecture has held the same view. A number of learned and highly accomplished professors of theology, men who have spent more time and invested more effort in the study of church history than I would ever care to, understand semi-Pelagianism as being a charge of heretical belief.” Further as Peter notes “Scholars who specialize in the controversy flat deny the TS is “Semi-Pelagian.” I talked to one scholar at length about this and she remains “baffled” why anyone would assert it.”

          My point is the SP issue keeps coming up because those who did not sign the statement continue to tell those of us who did what it actually means as they redefine our terms (and SP for that matter). Something that is a tad offensive.

          I do appreciate your spirit but would kindly disagree as to why the SP issue continues to come up.

          Robert

          Hello Michael,

          You wrote:

          [[“You wrote, “Apart from the preconversion work of the Spirit we are all unable to choose to trust in Christ for salvation (cf. Jn. 6:44). The work of the Spirit enables but does not necessitate a faith response.”
          Article two of the TS statement says, “We deny that Adam’s sin resulted in the incapacitation of any person’s free will or rendered any person guilty before he has personally sinned.”
          I have been reading with interest the discussions back and forth between several on the list and Chris Roberts. As a onlooker, this is what I “think” he sees as a major issue. What you say and what the TS says in article two sounds different.”]]

          I think you are leaving out part of the article 2 statement which if you properly took notice of it would show that I am not saying something different from .

          Recall the statement says:

          “We deny that Adam’s sin resulted in the incapacitation of any person’s free will or rendered any person guilty before he has personally sinned. While no sinner is remotely capable of achieving salvation through his own effort, we deny that any sinner is saved apart from a free response to the Holy Spirit’s drawing through the Gospel.”

          Notice these lines include:

          “While no sinner is remotely capable of achieving salvation through his own effort, we deny that any sinner is saved apart from a free response to the Holy Spirit’s drawing through the Gospel.”

          Isn’t that what I have been saying?

          I said that a sinner is incapable of responding in faith to the gospel unless the Holy Spirit works in them first (the article 2 statement refers to this as the drawing of the Spirit: “we deny that any sinner is saved apart from a free response to the Holy Spirit’s drawing through the Gospel”).

          I said the work of the Spirit enables but does not necessitate a faith response (the article 2 statement refers to the fact that when a person is saved it involves “a free response to the Holy Spirit’s drawing”).

          Michael you wrote:

          “You say apart from a pre-conversion work of the Holy Spirit man is unable to choose to trust Christ. Whether a person believes in resistable grace or irresistable grace, this statement can be affirmed.”

          Well if you can affirm my statements you should also be able to affirm the article 2 statement that: ““While no sinner is remotely capable of achieving salvation through his own effort, we deny that any sinner is saved apart from a free response to the Holy Spirit’s drawing through the Gospel.”

          You also said:

          “But this is not what the TS seems to indicate.”

          I believe that the TS statement says the same thing that I said. Just in different words.

          The preconversion work of the Spirit is required (my words) because “no sinner is remotely capable of achieving salvation through his own effort”(article 2 statement).

          The preconversion work of the Spirit enables but does not necessitate a faith response (my words): “we deny that any sinner is saved apart from a free response to the Holy Spirit’s drawing”(article 2 statement).

          Note this statement found in the article 2 statement says that: the person must freely respond to the Spirit’s drawing. That means they have a choice, that they can choose to respond to the Spirit’s drawing or choose to reject the Spirit’s drawing (i.e. often referred to as resistable grace in contrast to the determinists who promote irresistable grace). If they have a choice to respond or reject the work of the Spirit then their faith response is freely chosen ***not necessitated***. I say this briefly as: the work of the Spirit enables but does not necessitate a faith response.

          “And respectfully, to all involved in the conversation, I think that is why the SP issue keeps coming up.”

          The SP issue keeps coming up, in my opinion, and from my observations, because some are refusing to listen to the clarifications and explanations given by the so-called Traditionalists. They have made themselves clear that the preconversion work of the Spirit is necessary or no one can be saved. They have made themselves clear that God initiates this work of the Spirit. They have made themselves clear that while they may deny imputed guilt, they do not deny the sinful human condition that requires the work of the Spirit in order for someone to be saved. They have made themselves clear that they are not Semi-Pelagian. Etc. Etc. Etc. But some are not content with the clarifications and explanations and keep pressing the semi-Pelagian button in order to discredit the Traditionalists.

          Robert

            M. R. Williams

            Hello Robert:

            You wrote, “Well if you can affirm my statements you should also be able to affirm the article 2 statement that: ‘While no sinner is remotely capable of achieving salvation through his own effort, we deny that any sinner is saved apart from a free response to the Holy Spirit’s drawing through the Gospel.’

            Yes sir, I can most definitely affirm it!!

            I know those who signed/support the TS grow weary with SP issue. I know for me, I have read what you have explained and have no problem saying, “Robert is no semi-Pelagian.” But what I think happens – and it happened to me when I first read the document – is a Calvinist sees that denial that man’s will was not incapacitated by the fall and all sorts of alarm bells go off.

            “Incapacitated” in the dictionary I used was defined as “made unable to perform a certain action.” Thus, when I read man’s will was not incapacitated, and then I see your statement, “Apart from the preconversion work of the Spirit we are all unable to choose to trust in Christ for salvation (cf. Jn. 6:44),” I’ll admit it left me scratching my head.

            But, Robert, I agree with you that if you read a little further in the TS, the statement affirms no man is saved apart from the Holy Spirit’s drawing through the gospel (which I TOTALLY AGREE WITH).

            I appreciate you (and Brad and many others) for talking to me about the matter. I may not agree with all of y’alls conclusions, but I think I am much better informed on y’alls position than I was a few weeks ago.

            God bless you, sir.
            Michael

              Robert

              Hello Michael,

              “You wrote, “Well if you can affirm my statements you should also be able to affirm the article 2 statement that: ‘While no sinner is remotely capable of achieving salvation through his own effort, we deny that any sinner is saved apart from a free response to the Holy Spirit’s drawing through the Gospel.’
              Yes sir, I can most definitely affirm it!!”

              Good to see that you say that you agree that: apart from the work of the Spirit no one would be able to choose to trust in Christ alone for salvation.

              One possible problem though. The statement which you claim that you “definitely affirm” also includes the words; **“a free response to the Holy Spirit’s drawing through the Gospel.”** By free response they mean that a person who is enabled by the Spirit to choose to trust may also choose not to trust. He/She is choosing freely because they can choose both to trust and reject. Do you agree with that?

              Do you agree that the preconversion work of the Spirit enables but does not necessitate a faith response?

              “I know those who signed/support the TS grow weary with SP issue. I know for me, I have read what you have explained and have no problem saying, “Robert is no semi-Pelagian.” But what I think happens – and it happened to me when I first read the document – is a Calvinist sees that denial that man’s will was not incapacitated by the fall and all sorts of alarm bells go off.”

              The language about incapacitation of the will, in my opinion, is to guard against theological determinism (the idea that everything is predestined and we do not have free will as ordinarily understood). So while we are incapable of choosing to trust without the work of the Spirit, even the nonbeliever has a will that still functions. They still have and make choices so their will is not completely nonfunctional. They still retain the ability to choose what cereal they will have for breakfast or what dinner item they will order at the Restaurant.

              ““Incapacitated” in the dictionary I used was defined as “made unable to perform a certain action.” Thus, when I read man’s will was not incapacitated, and then I see your statement, “Apart from the preconversion work of the Spirit we are all unable to choose to trust in Christ for salvation (cf. Jn. 6:44),” I’ll admit it left me scratching my head. “

              Note you state two different things here.

              You state “when I read man’s will was not incapacitated” (call that statement 1).

              And you also state “and then I see your statement, ‘Apart from the preconversion work of the Spirit we are all unable to choose to trut in Christ for salvation (cf. Jn. 6:44)” (call that statement 2).

              Statement 1 concerns the idea that human free will is not eliminated and destroyed by the fall of Adam in the garden. Even the nonbeliever still has and makes his own choices. So free will still exists in human persons.

              Statement 2 concerns the fact that while humans still have free will, due to the effects of sin there is a choice that they cannot make (unless enabled by the Holy Spirit). That choice is the choice to trust in Christ alone for salvation. “On their own” the sinner cannot make that choice (which is what I believe Jn. 6:44 is refering to: that unless a person is drawn they cannot have a faith response to the gospel).

              So my position (and I believe it is also the position of so-called Traditionalists within the SBC) is that the nonbelieving person has free will, but apart from the work of the Spirit in them, they cannot choose to trust in Christ alone for salvation.

              An easy way to explain this is to distinguish between the capacity to have and make choices (what most people mean by free will) versus a person’s **range of choices**. Take Donald Trump and I with regard to our range of choices when it comes to purchasing things as an example. Trump and I both have the capacity to have and make our own choices (i.e. we both have free will). But Trump has a much broader range of choices when it comes to purchasing things than I do. He can choose to buy million dollar buildings, I cannot. Within his range of choices are choices I do not have and probably never will have. So we both have free will, but we have a very different range of choices when it comes to purchasing things.

              This distinction is important theologically because I can affirm BOTH (1) that human persons have free will, and (2) that the choice to trust Christ without having experienced the work of the Spirit is not within any sinner’s range of choices (though they have free will, they can choose what cereal they will eat this morning as that is within their range of choices). The sinner has free will with regard to some things, but the choice to trust Christ is not within his range of choices unless the Spirit works in him and enables that choice. If you understand this distinction between the capacity to have and make choices (i.e. free will) and the inability to choose to trust in Christ without the preconversion work of the Spirit (i.e. a person’s range of choices), you can understand what I am maintaining.

              This also explains how the will is not incapacited and yet the choice to trust in Christ is unavailable to a person who has not experienced the preconversion work of the Spirit.

              “But, Robert, I agree with you that if you read a little further in the TS, the statement affirms no man is saved apart from the Holy Spirit’s drawing through the gospel (which I TOTALLY AGREE WITH).”

              Glad to see this agreement as well. I believe that that additional language clarifies things quite a bit. That additional language in the TS makes it clear they are not Pelagians or Semi-Pelagians.

              “I appreciate you (and Brad and many others) for talking to me about the matter. I may not agree with all of y’alls conclusions, but I think I am much better informed on y’alls position than I was a few weeks ago.”

              I don’t expect everybody to agree, I do hope everyone’s views are clearly expounded and understood.

              Robert

      Debbie Pearce

      To SelahV,

      Thank you, it is a interesting read.

      Blessings,

      David R. Brumbelow

      Brad Reynolds,
      Thanks for your time. You have graciously presented a wealth of information under trying circumstances.
      David R. Brumbelow

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