Category: Salvation

Theological Terminology Thursday:
The Study of Specialized Words Relating to Theology

Conversion and Regeneration

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Theological Terminology Thursday:
The Study of Specialized Words Relating to Theology

Conversion and Regeneration


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.


A Personal Application of the Words

I was born into a lost and sinful world; weren’t we all!

Sin messed up the world after the fall of Adam and Eve, and the mess has been growing like a blazing inferno. Sin’s power to destroy, distort, and devalue will never change. It is seated in the very soul of sinners. Immorality and corruption, prejudice and pride, iniquity and evil, out of which grow wars and rumors of war will continue unless the hearts of men are changed.

By the age of nineteen, I was the youngest man in my state to acquire a license to sell alcohol and was part-owner and manager of a 500-seat nightclub in my hometown. The business grew. It was sort of the happening place in our city and the largest dance club between Memphis and Nashville. I was messed up and helping people make a bigger mess of their lives.

Something happened to me that changed the course of my life, family, and the lives of others. According to John 3:3 and 2 Corinthians 5:17, I was born again by the regenerating power of God; the old was gone and the new had come! In Christ, He brought about a new spiritual, volitional, moral, and intellectual change. Thirty-five years later, God continues cleaning up the mess in my life through His life-changing power.

How did this change come about in my life? Did God zap me with a bolt and jolt of regenerating power? Did I say the right words of righteousness or do something to gain God’s favor? Was it God? Was it me? What happened?

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Beyond Calvinism and Arminianism: Toward a Baptist Soteriology
Part 3: Theological Presuppositions

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Beyond Calvinism and Arminianism: Toward a Baptist Soteriology
Part 3: Theological Presuppositions




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


Editor’s Note: Today’s post is the third 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 contrasted “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.
  • Now, in Part 3, he contrasts the Theological Presuppositions of “Federal Theology” in Calvinist soteriology with “Covenant in Christ” in a Baptist soteriology.

The Theological Presupposition in a Reformed Soteriology:

Federal Theology

Both Arminians and Calvinists assume a “Covenant of Works” between Adam and God in the Garden of Eden, even though there is no biblical basis for such.[1] The Covenant of Works, they assert, was a deal God made with Adam whereby Adam would be rewarded with eternal life if he could remain morally perfect through a probationary period. Failure would bring about guilt and “spiritual death,” which includes the loss of his capacity for a good will toward God. Adam’s success or failure, in turn, would be credited to his posterity. This “Federal Theology” imputes Adam’s guilt and total depravity to every human.[2] In Calvinism, actual guilt and total depravity are the plight of every person. Free-will with respect to salvation is, by definition, impossible, and with it, the possibility of a free response to God’s offer of covenant through the gospel. The only hope for salvation for any individual is the elective activity of God. In Calvinist soteriology, election is privileged above faith because regeneration must be prior to conversion. In Arminianism, the effects of Federal Theology and the Covenant of Works must be countermanded by further speculative adjustments like “prevenient grace” and election based on “foreseen faith,” a faith which is only possible because prevenient grace overcomes the depravity and guilt of the whole human race due to Adam’s failure. All this strays far beyond the biblical data. Such speculation does not emerge from clear inferences from the Bible, but is actually a priori argumentation designed to buttress Augustine, not Paul.

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Are We Bootstrap Baptists?


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.


It sounds like an All-American axiom: He pulled himself up by his own bootstraps!

This phrase indicates that a person labored long and hard to improve his or her situation in life by time-consuming toil and self-effort. Self-made men may happen in the financial world, but not in the Kingdom of God.

Some of my more Calvinistic friends write like they have a monopoly on monergism[1] — the belief that the new birth is completely and perfectly (100%) a work of God and the sinner adds nothing, not even faith in Christ. In essence, the picture has been painted quite successfully that the majority of Southern Baptists pull themselves up by their bootstraps when it comes to salvation; a self-salvation, so to speak. Nothing could be further from the truth! We believe the Holy Spirit is the exclusive agent affecting regeneration and He needs no assistance from us (2 Cor. 5:17).

The vast majority of Southern Baptist pastors believe that salvation is all of God! Yet my more Calvinistic friends will say SBC non-Calvinists hold to a synergistic salvation with the Holy Spirit being dependent on man’s will. Our God is not a co-dependent personality feeding off the fear of our personal rejection or acceptance of Him. We just believe that God’s forgiveness must be received! We see ourselves as the beggar and God as the benevolent benefactor.

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Beyond Calvinism and Arminianism: Toward a Baptist Soteriology
Part 2: Philosophical Presuppositions
about Freedom and Determinism

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Beyond Calvinism and Arminianism: Toward a Baptist Soteriology
Part 2: Philosophical Presuppositions
about Freedom and Determinism




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


Editor’s Note: Today’s post is the second of a four-part series by Eric Hankins attempting to frame Baptist soteriology in a different structure than comparing it to Calvinism and Arminianism. In the first article, Hankins contrasted individual election as a key Biblical Presupposition in Calvinism and Arminianism with corporate election in a Baptist soteriology. In this article he contrasts the Philosophical Presuppositions of Calvinism (The “Problem” of Determinism and Free-Will) and that of a Baptist soteriology (“The Freedom of God and the Free-Will of People”).


The Philosophical Presupposition of Calvinism:
The “Problem” of Determinism and Free-Will

Like Calvinism and Arminianism, the 2,500-year-old debate concerning the “problem” of determinism and free-will has also reached an impasse. This is because absolute causal determinism is untenable.[1] Put simply, the “problem” is not a problem because the paradigm for causation in the Western philosophical tradition is wrong. The whole of reality cannot be explained in terms of uni-directional causation from a single first-principle. The universe does not work that way. Causation is complex, hierarchical, and interdependent. God sits sovereignly and non-contingently atop a hierarchy that owes its existence to the functioning of the levels below it, levels that include the fully operational free-will of humans.[2] Opposing God’s sovereign guidance of the universe and the operation of free-will within that universe is a false dichotomy based on reductionistic metaphysical assumptions. God has made a free and sovereign decision to have a universe in which human free-will plays a decisive role. Human agency is one force among many that God has created to accomplish His cosmic purposes.

Free-will plays a unique role within God’s purposes for the universe because it is the unique power of human beings freely to enter into covenant relationships, especially a covenant relationship with God. This makes human willing fundamentally moral. Under certain circumstances, God, in His freedom, contravenes free-will, just as He is free to contravene any other force in nature, but this is not His normal modus operandi. Because God is God, He knows all of the free acts of humans from eternity, but this knowledge does not cause these acts nor does it make Him responsible for them. Moreover, the existence of these acts in no way impinges upon either His freedom or His ability to bring about His ultimate purposes. The ability of humans “to do otherwise” does not call God’s sovereignty into question; it actually establishes and ratifies His sovereignty over the particular universe that was His good pleasure to create. Opposing free-will and sovereignty is, from a philosophical perspective, nonsensical.[3]

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The Message of the Cross


By Bob Williford, former director of the Hope Migrant Mission Center at the Migrant Farm Labor Center near Hope, Arkansas (a ministry of the Arkansas Baptist Convention), and author of Fence Post Digest blog.


The only solution for sin is the Cross of Christ

When one has failed while doing everything to keep from failing only darkness and confusion remain. Because the Lord is NOT the author of confusion without Him life becomes unbearable in a tumultuous sea of storms.

Everyone knows failure at some juncture and will give some kind of advice about how to succeed, but the truth is, they do not know. Many who claim to know Christ give advice about how to live and have no idea what it means to live ‘in Christ’. Because of this I find it difficult to believe that a born again Believer in Jesus Christ cannot or does not live for the Lord.  If a Believer does not understand the message of the Cross there is no direction about how to live for God.

Paul writes that if we place our faith in anything apart from Christ and Him crucified that He will be of no value to you. “that if you receive circumcision, Christ will be of no benefit to you.” (Galatians 5:2).

Clearly, the work that we attempt apart from faith in the Crucified and Resurrected Christ will amount to nothing.

“Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” (Galatians 5:19-21).

If the Believer does not understand the Cross of Christ these “works of the flesh” will manifest themselves in life.  However, many Christians ignore each of them believing they simply cannot apply today because our culture has ‘matured’.

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