by Dr. Michael A. Cox, Pastor of First Baptist Church in Pryor, Oklahoma, and author of
Not One Little Child: A Biblical Critique of Calvinism
This is the thirtieth of a series of articles by Dr. Cox, with a Biblical critique of Calvinism drawn in part from his book Not One Little Child. All Scripture quotations are taken from the New American Standard Bible unless otherwise noted.
Views on the Fall of Man
A discussion of election might best be prefaced by explaining the primary schools of thought opining when election occurs. There are two principal views regarding the Fall of man: the supralapsarian and the infralapsarian.
The supralapsarian view argues that election preceded the Fall. Supralapsarian proponents posit the following chronology, saying that (1) God proposed to elect some individuals to salvation and condemn others to destruction, (2) God then proposed to create, (3) God proposed to permit the Fall, (4) God proposed to send Christ to redeem only the elect, and, (5) God proposed to send the Holy Spirit to apply redemption only to the elect.1
Moore misrepresents Harwood. Again.
You write: “Harwood believes that mankind is only condemned for his own transgressions, and his sinful nature and environment are not ‘sin’ that requires a trust in Christ for redemption. The only answer for sin in the BF&M2K is faith in Jesus Christ. Consider Article IV of the BF&M2K where sin is only forgiven based on faith in Christ.” Once again, you have misrepresented my view. Your arguments would be strengthened if you supported them with evidence.
First, it is your view, Rev. Moore, which results in the salvation of guilty infants in contradiction to the BFM, which states: “There is no salvation apart from personal faith in Jesus Christ as Lord.” You argue 1) all infants are born sinful and guilty and 2) they are saved by the grace of God. But consider: How can an infant have “personal faith in Jesus Christ”?
Questions I’m Not Asking
To guard against being misunderstood:
My question is not: “What does Dr. Mohler affirm?”
Your post concerns itself with that question under Reason #1 (http://sbcvoices.com/adam-brought-sin-into-the-human-race-a-response-to-adam-harwood/).
My question is not: “Does Dr. Schreiner affirm the BFM?”
Of course he does. He also affirms the Abstract of Principles. That, as my Nov. 29 article (http://sbctoday.com/2012/11/29/the-ets-the-ap-the-bfm/) attempts to demonstrate, may be problematic for professors at SBTS and SEBTS (both of which affirm the BFM and AP). The documents can be interpreted as making conflicting statements regarding the timing of condemnation. The AP mentions condemnation before moral capability; the BFM mentions condemnation after moral capability. In both documents, however, people become transgressors as soon as they are capable of moral action. Regardless, I never questioned Schreiner’s affirmation of the BFM.
My question is not: “Can people affirm inherited guilt and the BFM?”
People can affirm whatever they want to affirm. But people who serve as seminary faculty don’t have the luxury of teaching anything they choose to teach. Their employment entails teaching in accordance with and not contrary to the BFM. (Note: The point is similar to the one made by Conservatives regarding the teachings of SBTS professors during the “Resurgence.” SBC constituents rightly expected the professors whose salaries they paid to teach in accordance with and not contrary to the BFM.)
Sunday morning, Dec. 23, I awoke to find this unexpected present under my Christmas tree: http://sbcvoices.com/adam-brought-sin-into-the-human-race-a-response-to-adam-harwood/. Although thankful for the opportunity to hear from an SBC pastor on a topic of theological and denominational significance, it was difficult to give the post much attention. After all, it was posted on a Sunday morning–on Christmas Eve Eve (as one of my children likes to say). Nevertheless, the post generated a great deal of interest. Within 48 hours, it garnered over 200 comments. If you had contacted me privately, I would have addressed your concerns privately. But you didn’t. Since you posted a public response to my essays, my reply will also be public.
I’ll begin with the end of your post. Like you, I desire unity in the SBC. That was the primary motivation behind my two recent essays at SBC Today. My goal is to seek clarification from SBTS regarding their view of our inheritance from Adam. Because Dr. Schreiner’s recent paper and the faculty exposition of the BFM advance a theological position not affirmed in the BFM, I am unclear on their interpretation of the BFM. My queries regarding SBTS are prompted by a desire for unity within the SBC. As I wrote in my Dec. 11 essay: “Because Southern Baptists are a theologically diverse group, all the seminaries should allow for theological differences which are permissible within the convention’s statement of faith, the Baptist Faith and Message 2000 (BFM).”
By Dr. Rick Patrick
Pleasant Ridge Baptist Church
Long before the dot-com crisis fifteen years ago and the real estate disaster five years ago, from the Dutch Golden Age of the Seventeenth Century comes the fascinating story of the world’s very first speculative economic bubble. Known as Tulip Mania, the price of tulips in the Netherlands skyrocketed so rapidly that at its peak in 1637 a single tulip bulb sold for more money than ten times the annual income of a skilled craftsman.
This frenzied excitement stemming from instant fortunes was frowned upon by the stern Calvinists of the day as a denial of the virtues of moderation and diligence. Please take a moment to savor the delicious irony of Calvinists refusing to embrace the tulip.
The bubble burst at an auction in Haarlem, when buyers apparently refused to show up. Only sellers existed, with no buyers at all to purchase the flowers. In just a few weeks, prices fell to one percent of their earlier value. Many wanted to sell the tulip, but nobody was buying it anymore. Everyone who really wanted a tulip already had one. The trend would not continue its skyrocketing trajectory, but was destined for a mighty crash.
In a similar fashion, ministries often confuse short term trends with long term realities. A church growing from 0 to 500 over five years believes it will run 1,000 in ten years, following the logic of a simple straight line progression. One might ask the bankrupt Rev. Robert Schuller about the validity of such projections. Sometimes trends drop off mildly, while other times they crash, which explains the reason investment companies disclaim their funds by stating: “Past performance is no guarantee of future results.”