Category: Theological Error

Theological Vocabulary Thursday
Comforter, Counselor, or … ?

">

Theological Vocabulary Thursday
Comforter, Counselor, or … ?

_______________________________________________________________

By Brian Robertson, Pastor, FBC, Kenton, TN

_______________________________________________________________

Words, words, words. My, how their meanings can change. For example, “cool” in today’s verbiage means “great” as well as “cold.” When someone today says, “that’s bad,” they may mean “awesome” or something is not good. How a word is used always affects its intended meaning. Scriptural translation clearly is impacted by these changes. Several weeks ago, I was asked about the term “Counselor” in John 14:16. Newer translations (NIV, HCSB) interpret the Greek term “Paraclete” (“parakletos”) in this way. Older texts (KJV) use the term “Comforter” to represent the meaning. Both English words are used to describe the Greek term. The question is, Which translation best describes John’s meaning?

The Apostle John uses the term “Paraclete” five times in his Gospel (14:16, 26, 15:26, 16:7-11, 12-15). Jesus uses the term “Parakletos,” literally meaning helper or intercessor, to describe the role of the Holy Spirit. Jesus says that after He leaves the Apostles, the Father will send another “Parakletos” to them, insinuating that Jesus was also a Parakletos. Andreas Köstenberger states, “In secular Greek, ‘parakletos’ refers primarily to a ‘legal assistant’ or ‘advocate.’ In John’s Gospel, legal overtones are most pronounced in 16:7-11. Both the noun ‘paraklesis’ and the verb ‘parakaleo’ are used in the OT w/ regard to the ‘consoling’ expected to occur during the messianic era.” (Andreas Köstenberger, John, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament [Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2004], 436-37).

Read more ...

Theological Vocabulary Thursday
Libertarian Free Will: Jesus’ Reaction to Jerusalem’s Rejection Reflects the Father’s Reaction

">

Theological Vocabulary Thursday
Libertarian Free Will: Jesus’ Reaction to Jerusalem’s Rejection Reflects the Father’s Reaction

By L. Manning Garrett III, Ph.D., Pastor, East Laurel Baptist Church, Jackson, TN

Regarding last week’s article, “Two Versions of Free Will in Southern Baptist Life,” there were several comments pertaining to my reference to Jesus’ reaction to Jerusalem’s rejection of Him in Matthew 23: 37-39 and Luke 13:34-35. One respondent observed that it is not clear why nonCalvinists think this episode in Jesus’ life counts against Calvinism. I will show why I think this text supports the idea that Jesus believed that the Jerusalemites had libertarian free will — they rejected Him but could have accepted Him.

Calvinist compatibilists will argue that the Jerusalemites are responsible for rejecting Jesus because they were acting on their deepest desire: they wanted to reject Jesus. Further they will argue that the Jerusalemites “could not have accepted Jesus,” while libertarians claim that the Jerusalemites had the real option to accept Jesus but chose to reject Him. NonCalvinist libertarians and Calvinist compatibilists differ with respect to whether or not the Jerusalemites had the real option “to desire to accept Jesus.”

Read more ...

Theological Vocabulary Thursday
Free Will: Two Versions in Southern Baptist Life

">

Theological Vocabulary Thursday
Free Will: Two Versions in Southern Baptist Life

By L. Manning Garrett III, Ph.D., Pastor, East Laurel Baptist Church, Jackson, TN

This article is intended to be of interest to pastors and lay persons.  I do not begin with the assumption that all of the readers of SBC Today are familiar with the philosophical discussion surrounding the issue of free will. Nonetheless, the writer’s motivation is to encourage the reader to check out his/her view about free will with regard to an issue that is foremost in the mind of every evangelical Christian: whether one who rejects Jesus Christ as Savior, Son of God, Messiah, and Lord does so by one’s own free will choice and if so to ask: what does free will mean? It is assumed that most Southern Baptists will affirm that the decision to reject Jesus follows from a free will decision. In Southern Baptist life there are and probably have always been two versions of free will that separate most NonCalvinist and Calvinist Southern Baptists: libertarian free will and compatibilistic free will.

Most NonCalvinist advocates of libertarian free will maintain that in regard to a choice or action that was exercised the agent had a real option to have wanted to do otherwise. In other words, there were genuine alternatives other than the choice and action that was made.  Most Calvinists who hold to compatibilistic free will maintain that determinism eliminates real options but determinism does coexist with a free will.  So, the choice is determined but the agent also can be said to have exercised free will.  Clearly, there is a definitional difference among Southern Baptists over what it means to exercise a free choice.

Read more ...

Using Logic in Theology:
The Fallacy of False Alternatives

">

Using Logic in Theology:
The Fallacy of False Alternatives

By Steve Lemke, Provost and Professor of Theology and Ethics at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary

As a philosophically-trained theologian, it causes me considerable chagrin to see some of the most basic errors in logic committed over and over again in theological discourse.  This fuzzy thinking arises in every area of doctrinal from time to time, but (perhaps because of my interest in this area) I note it particularly in regard to soteriological discussions relating to Calvinism vs. Arminianism.  Over the next few posts, I want to identify several common logical errors which lead to ill-formed arguments, fallacious logic, and unsound conclusions. I apologize in advance that this discussion gets a bit technical at points, though I have attempted to convey it for a non-specialist audience. I beg for patience from those for whom it seems overly technical.

The Fallacy of False Alternatives (also known as the False Dichotomy Fallacy, False Dilemma Fallacy, All or Nothing Fallacy, or Black or White Fallacy) results when we simplify everything into an “either-or” choice, and thereby fail to take into consideration other viable alternatives. One of the common mistakes made by “shade tree” theologians is to oversimplify theology into Calvinism or Arminianism, as though those were the only choices regarding any given theological issue.  They are not.

In logic, an “either/or” statement can be described as a disjunctive syllogism (“either A or B is true”). The logic goes pretty easily from there – if not A, then B; or if not B, then A.  But many possible disjunctive syllogisms fall into the fallacy of false alternatives.  The syllogism works only if there are just two possible alternatives.  So, for example, the following argument might be proposed: “Either a Yankees fan or a Red Sox fan.”  (Hence, if Yankee fan, then not Red Sox fan; or if Red Sox fan, then not Yankee fan). These teams are fierce rivals, of course, and to be a fan of one almost guarantees not being a fan of the other (a Yankees fan will not be a Red Sox fan, and a Red Sox fan will not be a Yankees fan) – but these are not the only alternatives.  I happen to be a Rangers fan, so I could not properly be said to be either a Yankees or a Red Sox fan.  At times I might cheer for either the Yankees or the Red Sox, but I would do so not because I am their fan, but because either of them winning or losing might afford some advantage to the Rangers (such as home field advantage in the playoffs).  So the argument that you must be either a Yankees fan or a Red Sox fan commits the fallacy of false alternatives.

Read more ...

Thursday is for Theological Terminology:
The Study of Specialized Words relating to Theology

">

Thursday is for Theological Terminology:
The Study of Specialized Words relating to Theology

by Ron F. Hale, Minister of Missions, West Jackson Baptist Church, Jackson, TN


Total Depravity or Total Inability

Bernd Brandes was a person with a passion for pain.

This bizarre mania caused him to respond to an internet ad placed by another German man by the name of Armin Meiwes.  This spine-chilling internet ad declared that Meiwes was seeking “a young, well built man who wants to be eaten.”

Brandes responded and became the menu of Meiwes. This modern day cannibal was later sentenced to serve eight years and six months in prison. How would you like being the sleepy-eyed cell mate of Meiwes?

This story reveals the ever-present wickedness of mankind, that we are not deprived but depraved sinners. Forever and a day each of us will always fall short of the glory of God due to this sin nature.

Under the statement on Man, the following sentences taken from the Baptist Faith and Message, 2000 enlighten us on our depravity:

By his free choice man sinned against God and brought sin into the human race. Through the temptation of Satan man transgressed the command of God, and fell from his original innocence whereby his posterity inherit a nature and an environment inclined toward sin. Therefore, as soon as they are capable of moral action, they become transgressors and are under condemnation.

Throughout God’s Word, we see man’s devious and depraved nature has an explicit bias toward evil resulting in our certainty to sin; therefore, it cannot be escaped since our human nature has been corrupted by sin.

Read more ...