Category: Calvinism

A Biblical Critique of Calvinism
Part 1b: The Inclusivity of the Gospel Invitation

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A Biblical Critique of Calvinism
Part 1b: The Inclusivity of the Gospel Invitation



by Dr. Michael A. Cox, Pastor, First Baptist Church, Pryor, OK
and author of Not One Little Child: A Biblical Critique of Calvinism


This is the second of a series of articles by Dr. Cox, with a Biblical critique of Calvinism drawn in part from his book Not One Little Child. Read part 1a here.


I admit that the book of Romans is very challenging to understand. I have preached and translated through it word-by-word twice now and am somewhat tempted to write a commentary on it. But, for now, let me review several key passages which harmonize well with all the previous verses I have examined and dispel any notion that Paul taught the redemptive exclusion of any, except for those who exclude themselves through refusing to believe. He stated that the gospel is the power of God for salvation to all who believe (Rom. 1:16). This means that the gospel uniquely demonstrates God’s power. The gospel of Jesus Christ is something of which to be proud, not ashamed. True Christians are those who are neither ashamed of the gospel nor a shame to it.[1] Are you ashamed of the gospel? Are you ashamed for others to know your hero and Savior is a Jewish carpenter who was executed as a criminal? Are you ashamed to follow Him in baptism? Are you ashamed to say you believe the Bible? Are you ashamed that doing so might damage your popularity? Paul shouted that nothing could turn him against the gospel!

Conversely, I am ashamed of unchristian beliefs dressed up as Christian beliefs: infant baptism as washing away the taint of original sin; transubstantiation; the Mormon doctrine of becoming a god and populating one’s own planet; and many of the claims of Calvinism. The gospel is the good news, and good news necessarily implies that “bad news” exists. The gospel is good news to receive, not a code to keep.[2] It is God’s dynamic power and divine energy. Christians see God’s power at work in lives and understand that one test of anything is to examine the results which are produced. The transforming power of the gospel is more than a theory; the gospel gets results. Christians are not powerless to change the evil in the world because the gospel is God’s power to change lives, granting salvation to all who believe. The goal of the gospel is salvation. Salvation means deliverance from sin and its penalty and includes rescue from the wrath of God. In fact, the term “salvation” presupposes peril or danger from which humans need to be rescued.[3]

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John Calvin: In His Own Words


By Ron F. Hale.
He has served as Pastor, Church Planter, Strategist (NAMB), Director of Missions, Associate Executive Director of Evangelism and Church Planting for a State Convention, and now in the 4th quarter of ministry as Minister of Missions.


Did John Calvin teach a double predestination, that is, an election to salvation for some and reprobation to eternal punishment for many others?  In his own words, Calvin shares the following:

“By predestination we mean the eternal decree of God by which he determined with himself whatever he wished to happen with regard to every man.  All are not created on equal terms, but some are preordained to eternal life, others to eternal damnation; and, accordingly, as each has been created for one or other of these ends, we say that he has been predestined to life or death.” (John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, 3:21:5)

 

John Calvin believed that in eternity God decreed a plight and path for every man. He believed that “all are not created on equal terms.” Some (the Elect) are chosen to eternal life, while the rest of humanity to eternal damnation.

Some would teach a positive-positive schema in God’s activity; meaning that God actively works to bring about regeneration and faith for the Elect and actively works sin and unbelief in the lives of the non-Elect.  The classic position would be more of a positive-negative schema of viewing the monergistic work of God’s grace for the Elect, while passing by the non-Elect leaving them to themselves and the results of their sin.

Calvin believed the destiny of each person is determined. Predestination to life (heaven) or death (hell) is the decision of God.  If double predestination is true, then the biblical phrase “whosoever will may come” may only be a sad sentiment for those created and preordained to eternal damnation.

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A Biblical Critique of Calvinism
Part 1a: The Inclusivity of the Gospel Invitation

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A Biblical Critique of Calvinism
Part 1a: The Inclusivity of the Gospel Invitation



by Dr. Michael A. Cox, Pastor, First Baptist Church, Pryor, OK
and author of Not One Little Child: A Biblical Critique of Calvinism


This is the beginning of a series of articles by Dr. Cox, with a Biblical critique of Calvinism drawn in part from his book Not One Little Child.


The Bible teaches that whosoever will may come to Christ in repentance and faith. As we will see, Scriptures related to this doctrine are numerous through all the genres of the Biblical text. This article will address the references from the Old Testament through the book of Acts.

A Psalm of David teaches that the Lord responds to all who call upon Him in truth (Ps. 145:18) and that the Lord hears the cry of those who fear Him and promises to save them (Ps. 145:19). Jeremiah recorded God’s words when He said that even heathen nations who repent and turn to Him can become His people (Jer. 12:16). Joel registered God’s words when He said that whoever calls upon the name of the Lord will be delivered (Joel 2:32). These Scriptures accurately summarize the testimony of the Old Testament regarding “whosoever will.”

Then, the New Testament champions this doctrine unmistakably, providing a plethora of scriptural testimony which harmonizes perfectly with the Old Testament witness. The words of Jesus declared that God says to no person “seek in vain,” but “seek and you shall find” (Matt. 7:7). He promised that all who ask receive (Matt. 7:8). Notice that asking precedes reception. Man clearly has a role in the salvation event, and it is requesting the Lordship of Jesus Christ by faith coupled with repentance. Jesus guaranteed that He would confess before His Father in heaven everyone who confesses that He is the Christ (Matt. 10:32). Jesus also averred that all humans are more valuable than any animal (Matt. 12:12). He asserted that whoever humbles himself or herself in childlike faith to Himself is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 18:4). Jesus also taught that everyone who abandons all for Him, making Him his or her top priority, shall inherit eternal life (Matt. 19:29). Further, we read that the invitation to join the bridal feast is issued to all (Matt. 22:9). And, finally, in the Gospel of Matthew, we learn that whoever humbles himself will be exalted (Matt. 23:12).

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The TULIP of Calvinism
In Light of History and the Baptist Faith and Message

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The TULIP of Calvinism
In Light of History and the Baptist Faith and Message


Dr. Malcolm B. Yarnell III is Director of the Center for Theological Research and Associate Professor of Systematic Theology at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas.


Recently, Dr. Danny Akin reissued his classic article on Calvinism at a sister blogsite. We welcome that re-contribution to the ongoing conversation. In that same spirit, a sister piece from the same April 2006 publication is reissued here, with minor revision, for your consideration.


The following is a summary of the “TULIP” of classic Calvinism, set against the backdrop of its origins and compared to the Baptist Faith and Message, with the full recognition that Scripture is the final authority on all beliefs and doctrinal systems.

TULIP’s Origins and Emphasis

After the death of John Calvin, Theodore Beza and other Calvinist theologians reformed their doctrine around predestination in the matter of salvation and developed their various “doctrines of grace.” Their major emphasis on divine sovereignty led to theological assertions that caused division in the Reformed theological community. Jacob Arminius, a Dutch student of Beza, countered some Calvinist teaching. In 1610, the “Arminians” crafted five articles that affirmed the election of believers but disagreed with the Calvinists’ interpretation of election. In 1618, the Calvinists of the Dutch Reformed Church convened the Synod of Dort in order to condemn the Arminians and their five points. Dort’s “five heads” of doctrine were later rearranged under the acronym TULIP.

Total Depravity

Calvinists at Dort viewed man not simply as sinful, but argued that every aspect of man’s being is affected by sin, including his will. Some of Calvin’s later followers went so far as to say that God actually decreed humans to become sinners. On the basis of Scripture (Romans 3:23), Southern Baptists have consistently affirmed that all humans are sinners by nature and by choice, but have generally rejected extreme views of post-Dort Calvinists that man is incapable of moral action and that God is ultimately responsible for human sin. The Baptist Faith and Message states, “By his free choice man sinned against God and brought sin into the human race …. Therefore, as soon as they are capable of moral action, they become transgressors and are under condemnation.”[1]

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

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




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


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

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

Total Depravity

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

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

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

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

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