Dr. Leighton Flowers
Director of Apologetics and Youth
Evangelism for Texas Baptists
Paul used a literary device called “diatribe” by which he would anticipate the objections of his audience. Discovering who the objector is in the mind of the inspired apostle tells us everything we need to know to discern his soteriological position. Let’s consider the two options side by side:
Calvinism: The objector is an non-elect, salvifically hated reprobate who God has chosen from before the foundation of the world to pass over in a sovereignly decreed fallen condition from birth — a completely hardened condition from the time they are born until the time they die and thus without hope of salvation EVER.
Traditionalist: The objector is a Jew, who has freely rebelled in the face of God’s loving patience for generations (Rm. 10:21; Mt. 23:37), but who is now stumbling, being cut off, and hardened in their rebellion so as to accomplish a greater redemptive good through their rebellion. However, though he has stumbled he has not stumbled beyond recovery (Rm 11:12); though he has been hardened he may be provoked to envy and saved (Rm 11:14); though he has been cut off from the vine he may be grafted back in if he leaves his unbelief (Rm 11:23).
Which objector is the one represented in the text? You decide.
At this point, another objection I often hear from my Calvinistic brethren goes something like this:
“Well, how is that interpretation any better than ours? You still have God blinding Jews from hearing the gospel and blaming them for their rebellion. Don’t you believe that makes God unfair?”
I love this question because finally I get to say in response to my Calvinistic friend, “Who are you oh man to question God!?” And ironically it is probably the first time they have heard that reply where it actually fits the context of the original objection.
What many Calvinists do not realize is that we DO allow for the objector in Romans 9, but we just happen to believe it is the same objector Paul addresses in Romans 3:1-8. It is not the objection of a non-elect reprobate born hated by God and unable to respond to His clear truth. It is the objection of a Jew who has grown calloused by his own choices, but who now is being blinded by God in that rebellious condition so as to accomplish a greater good for all the world, including those hardened.
Pick up a copy of The Potter’s Promise for more.
Dr. Rick Patrick, Senior Pastor
First Baptist Church, Sylacauga, AL
Executive Director, Connect 316
Over the past few years, some Southern Baptists have been making overtures about the possibility of combining our North American Mission Board with our International Mission Board. I can already envision the slick public relations campaign. It will sound spiritual, logical and fiscally responsible, like the clear, God-given solution to all of our problems:
We must merge these two great organizations in order to demonstrate our gospel unity because a house divided against itself cannot stand. Our financial crisis can only be solved as we marshal our forces and work together to glorify God and fulfill the Great Commission.
Mighty fine sounding words. But look deeply at such a proposal and you will discover a troubling knot of principles that threaten our historic Southern Baptist governing philosophy. Such a consolidation of raw power would strike a serious blow to principles like shared leadership and participatory decision-making. It would ignore important differences in the mission and function of each board. And it would represent the logical, if misguided, extension of a Great Commission Resurgence Plan begun in 2010 that has consistently failed to deliver on its promises.
Frankly, this centralization of authority at the national level, eerily reminiscent of Obamacare, would create more headaches than it would solve, for once the two organizations were enmeshed, it would be extremely difficult to untangle them. This merger is the kind of idea we should oppose even before it has been formally proposed. Like the telemarketer who interrupts your dinner, we should reject his pitch on principle without bothering to digest his fast-talking spiel and overblown promises of time-sharing nirvana.
Dr. Mike Holloway, Pastor
Ouachita Baptist Church, West Monroe, LA
SBC Executive Committee Member
This article was originally published in The Louisiana Message.
ALEXANDRIA (LBM)–Where are we going in the Southern Baptist Convention pertaining to the love of God?
I am hearing and reading about more and more Southern Baptists who say that God does not love the world, with some using theologically hair-splitting statements like “well God doesn’t love everyone the same or with the same kind of love” to argue their point.
I would like to see the Bible verse that tells us that.
More importantly, I really want to know if the Southern Baptist Convention is moving in that direction, one that discourages me from going to my neighbor and telling Him that God loves him and has a wonderful plan for his life.