Category: Doctrine

The ETS, the AP & the BFM

Adam Harwood, PhD
Assistant Professor of Christian Studies
Truett-McConnell College
Cleveland, Georgia


The Evangelical Theological Society (ETS) met for its annual meeting in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on November 14-16, 2012. ETS bills itself as “a professional, academic society of Biblical scholars, teachers, pastors, students, and others involved in evangelical scholarship” (www.etsjets.org). Its membership is currently 4,000 people worldwide. I do not know the breakdown of denominations but it includes a variety of evangelicals, from Lutherans to Presbyterians to Wesleyans to Bible church to interdenominational colleges and seminaries. Their peer-reviewed journal, JETS, is one of the premier conservative, biblical-theological journals in the world.

I have been a member of ETS since 2003, attended some of the meetings, and presented papers at five regional or annual meetings. The annual ETS meeting is a three-day marathon of paper presentations in the areas of biblical studies, biblical archaeology, systematic theology, ethics, and philosophy. In addition to the academic stimulation, it was refreshing to meet some of the people whose writings sit on my shelf in the form of commentaries, biblical studies, and systematic theologies. Like the annual meeting of the SBC, the annual meeting of the ETS is a chance to see old friends, make new friends, and overspend my book budget.

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

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A Biblical Critique of Calvinism
Part 1c: 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 third 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 and part 1b here.


Paul’s second epistle to the Corinthians maintains that Christ died for all (2 Cor. 5:15). Paul believed that Christians had been given the ministry of reconciling all to Christ (2 Cor. 5:18), not just a select group. Further, Paul echoed the words of Jesus found in John 3:16 when he wrote that God was in Christ reconciling the entire world to Himself (2 Cor. 5:19).

Paul’s letter to the Colossians discloses that the apostle pleaded with everyone he could to come to Christ (Col. 1:28). If language means anything, Paul taught everyone that he or she could come to Christ (Col. 1:28), and passionately desired to present everyone complete in Christ (Col. 1:28).

The writer of the Book of Hebrews said that Christ is the source of eternal salvation to all who obey Him (Heb. 5:9). In Heb. 12:15 the same writer admonished his readers to exhaust all resources to see to it that no one misses out on the grace of God. This insists that people pursue the grace of God. Evangelical Christians then must strive to see to it that nobody comes short of the grace of God, for we are our brother’s keeper. To rely on one’s own works is to come short of God’s grace. The writer to the Hebrews knew well that to become aware of God’s grace in Christ and still revert  to the temple sacrifices would spell disaster. To rely on anything other than the blood of Christ is to come short of God’s grace. God’s grace is tall, man’s works are short. God’s grace is deep, man’s works are shallow. God’s grace is free, man’s works are costly. God’s grace brings cleansing, man’s works leave filthiness. We must be active evangelistically such that we do all that is within our power to see to it that every person has the opportunity to experience God’s grace. And it is plainly possible to reject God’s grace. We must allow no root of bitterness to spring up, cause trouble, and defile because bitterness rots the bones. Bitterness, like sin itself, is contagious. We are herein told to uproot bitterness in our life. When the weed of bitterness rears its ugly head it poisons everyone around it. We must prevent this. Does this verse not demonstrate that God’s grace is both resistible and accessible to all? I believe that it does.

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A Commentary on Article 7: The Sovereignty of God of “A Statement of a Traditional Southern Baptist Understanding of God’s Plan of Salvation”

Article Seven: The Sovereignty of God

We affirm God’s eternal knowledge of and sovereignty over every person’s salvation or condemnation.

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

Genesis 1:1; 6:5-8; 18:16-33; 22; 2 Samuel 24:13-14; 1 Chronicles 29:10-20; 2 Chronicles 7:14; Joel 2:32; Psalm 23; 51:4; 139:1-6; Proverbs 15:3; John 6:44; Romans 11:3; Titus 3:3-7; James 1:13-15; Hebrews 11:6, 12:28; 1 Peter 1:17


Article 7 of “A Statement of a Traditional Southern Baptist Understanding of God’s Plan of Salvation” addresses summarily the issue of God’s Sovereignty juxtaposed to human responsibility. Although we do affirm God’s knowledge of and sovereignty over every person’s salvation or condemnation, we do not embrace the assertion that God’s sovereignty and knowledge requires Him to cause a person’s acceptance or rejection of faith in Christ. In short, we do not embrace the understanding of God’s sovereignty as proffered by our Calvinistic brothers.

Before you take this as an attack, please understand that many who embrace this understanding are friends. By no means should this be construed as an attack on them, but rather an attempt to reconsider and clarify the meaning of God’s self-revelation in Scripture. When the proverbial dust settles, the bigger issue is our quest to understand who God is and what He has communicated.

In every attempt to understand Scripture, we must ask “What does it say? What does it mean? And, What do I do about it?” All the while, we must keep in mind both the genre and the context.

In order to avoid the accusation that I am addressing an issue that is not really a concern, or that my understanding of the issue is not really what our Reformed-oriented brothers are saying (or believing), permit me to interact with a text I have read multiple times and actually used as a required text when I taught evangelism, Packer’s Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God.

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I Never Ate the Apple
A Defense of Inherited Sinful Nature Without Inherited Guilt

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I Never Ate the Apple
A Defense of Inherited Sinful Nature Without Inherited Guilt


By Dr. Rick Patrick
Senior Pastor
Pleasant Ridge Baptist Church
Hueytown, Alabama


I must confess at the outset I have always been rather sympathetic toward Adam, for although he is not the only man in history to do whatever a naked woman told him, he does have the distinction of being the first. I do not presume for a moment that if it had been me in the garden things would have turned out any differently. I am a sinner who is guilty of my own sin–and no one else’s. To my shame, my sins have brought plenty of guilt upon myself without borrowing any of the guilt Adam’s sins brought upon him.

In a previous article, I dealt extensively with the subject of inherited guilt, responding to a fellow Southern Baptist who rejects the current confessional position of The Baptist Faith and Message on this issue. My treatment was limited to arguments rooted in the various versions of our confession, along with a discussion of the positions espoused by certain theologians and other religious groups. A few of the reactions to my response indicated a desire for a more thorough biblical and theological treatment, which is the purpose for this article, no longer shackled by the chains of a polemical response to the aforementioned brother, but now able to provide a more freestanding exegetical essay.

Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, in this way death spread to all men, because all sinned. (Romans 5:12)

 

Let me disclaim any suggestion that my view on the effects of the fall diminishes the existence of original sin. Because of the fall, we all inherit from Adam a sin nature and the inclination to transgress. Fallen, we will all sin. The issue I am addressing is not sinful transgression, but guilty condemnation. Adam’s sin spread to me and inclined me to transgress, but I am only guilty of sin “because all sinned,” including, of course, me.

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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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