Category: Doctrine

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.

Read more ...

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

">

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).

Read more ...

A Commentary on Article Eight of “A Statement of Traditional Southern Baptist Understanding of God’s Plan of Salvation ”


SBC Today mistakenly posted an earlier version of Dr. Hunter’s article. Now posted is his completed article. We apologize for our inadvertent mistake.

–The Contributing Editors of SBC Today


By Braxton Hunter, PhD, Professor of Philosophy and Apologetics at Trinity College of the Bible and Theological Seminary in Newburgh, Indiana, and former President of the Conference of Southern Baptist Evangelists


Article Eight: The Free Will of Man

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.

(Genesis 1:26-28; Numbers 21:8-9; Deuteronomy 30:19; Joshua 24:15; 1 Samuel 8:1-22; 2 Samuel 24:13-14; Esther 3:12-14; Matthew 7:13-14; 11:20-24; Mark 10:17-22; Luke 9:23-24; 13:34; 15:17-20; Romans 10:9-10; Titus 2:12; Revelation 22:17)


Of the utmost importance for discussions relevant to the entirety of the document in question is what is meant by the authors when they use the term “free will.” It is not uncommon for laymen and theologians alike to misunderstand the terminology and philosophical implications of this central subject. As is the case with so many of the elements comprising a proper biblical worldview, one cannot merely rely on the vernacular of the 21st century to grasp the concepts with which thinkers have grappled throughout the ages. Moreover, in an effort to limit one’s own bias, it is prudent to step outside of the understanding of free will that has been fostered by his preferred doctrinal stance. It is also not enough to settle this issue by merely defining terms. The truth of man’s free will and the reality of God’s sovereignty are in symphony with one another in Article 8. The charge that non-Calvinists deny, limit, or reduce the sovereignty of God has been answered. Indeed, if the intention of Article 8’s affirmation is properly understood, the charge has been laid to rest.

Commentaries on previous articles have briefly addressed the question of what free will actually is; yet here we will flesh it out in greater detail. Typically, Calvinists deny that they are what philosophers refer to as “hard-determinists.” On this view, most common among philosophical naturalists, free will is merely illusory. One may experience the various events and actions of his life as though they represent genuine choices; however, this is a byproduct of living in a closed system of cause and effect. No choice, of any kind, actually exists. Conversely, many non-Calvinists hold to what is known as “libertarian free will.” According to this model, man has, as a special gift from God, the ability to transcend cause and effect and actually make real decisions. These decisions may be influenced by outside factors, but not to the point of coercion. “Libertarian free will” is consistent with the language of Article 8 in the phrase “actual free will (the ability to choose between two options).”

Read more ...

A Commentary on Article Eight of “A Statement of Traditional Southern Baptist Understanding of God’s Plan of Salvation ”


NOTE: a revised version of this article has been posted.


By Braxton Hunter, PhD, Professor of Philosophy and Apologetics at Trinity College of the Bible and Theological Seminary in Newburgh, Indiana, and former President of the Conference of Southern Baptist Evangelists


Of the utmost importance for discussions relevant to the the entirety of the document in question is what is meant by the authors when they use the term “free will.” It is not uncommon for laymen and theologians alike to misunderstand the terminology and philosophical implications of this central subject. As is the case with so many of the elements comprising a proper biblical worldview, one cannot merely rely on the vernacular of the 21st century to grasp the concepts with which thinkers have grappled throughout the ages. Moreover, in an effort to limit one’s own bias, it is prudent to step outside of the understanding of free will that has been fostered by his preferred doctrinal stance. It is also not enough to settle this issue by merely defining terms. The truth of man’s free will and the reality of God’s sovereignty are in symphony with one another in Article 8. The charge that non-Calvinists deny, limit, or reduce the sovereignty of God has been answered. Indeed, if the intention of Article 8’s affirmation is properly understood, the charge has been laid to rest.

Commentaries on previous articles have briefly addressed the question of what freewill actually is, yet here it becomes necessary to flesh it out in detail. Typically, Calvinists deny that they are what philosophers refer to as “hard-determinists.” On this view, most common among philosophical naturalists, free will is merely illusory. One may experience the various events and actions of his life as though they represent genuine choices, however, this is a byproduct of living in a closed system of cause and effect. No choice, of any kind, actually exists. Conversely, many non-Calvinists hold to what is known as “libertarian free will.” According to this model, man has, as a special gift from God, the ability to transcend cause and effect and actually make real decisions. These decisions may be influenced by outside factors, but not to the point of coercion. “Libertarian free will” is consistent with the language of Article 8 in the phrase “actual free will (the ability to choose between two options).”

Read more ...

“It is finished.”
False Assumptions because of the Cross
Part 2 – I don’t have to pursue salvation

">

“It is finished.”
False Assumptions because of the Cross
Part 2 – I don’t have to pursue salvation



Dr. Thomas Douglas
Pastor
Parkway Baptist Church
Kansas City, KS


This is the second part of series; click to read part one.


If you have pastored for even a year, you recognize among our congregations a general lack of concern for their eternal lives. It’s seen in the ease in which people dismiss services, dismiss their obligations to the church, and dismiss the commands of God’s Word for a more culturally acceptable position. As pastors, we should not be shocked that our people don’t care about the eternal souls of others because by their behavior they lack concern for their own souls. Why do our people seemingly not care for their eternal souls?  I believe it stems from a second false implication about the finished work of Christ on the cross that has settled in our Baptist churches.

False implication #2:

Because Jesus died on the cross for my sins, I don’t have to pursue salvation.

Mix some of our favorite invitation hymns (“Only trust Him, only trust Him, only trust Him now. He will save you, He will save you, He will save you now.”  “Faith is the victory!  Faith is the victory!  Faith is the victory that overcomes the world.”  “Victory in Jesus, my Savior forever. He sought me and bought me with His redeeming blood.”) with spiritual laziness on the part of the believer and you get sinners content in their rebellious lifestyle, claiming their eternal salvation based on a said belief in Jesus as the Son of God who died on the cross for their sins.

This false implication takes the complete work of the death of Christ and the biblical understanding of the security of the believer to an illogical conclusion. The thinking goes, “Since Jesus death obtains eternal salvation for me and I can’t lose my salvation, then I don’t have to pursue eternal salvation.”  This frees people to pursue the American dream instead of experiencing God in their lives. Just a few weeks ago during the Easter season, the news across America fixated on people standing in lines for hours to buy tickets for a $640 million lottery jackpot. How many of our people came to church that Sunday more disappointed that they didn’t win and had to go to work on Monday than excited about encountering the living God who bought their eternal souls with the blood of His one and only Son?

Read more ...