Comparing Calvinism to SBC Traditionalism

July 23, 2014

Our thanks to Dr. Adam Harwood and Connect316.net for use of this chart
comparing Calvinism to SBC Traditionalism. View the chart at Connect316.

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Verbiage from Connect316:
Our first goal is to advocate views rooted in the Hobbs-Rogers tradition. This chart, *with the original labels Calvinistic Southern Baptist and Non-Calvinistic Southern Baptist*, was provided by Dr. Adam Harwood, McFarland Chair of Theology, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, and is meant to illustrate general theological views among Southern Baptists. There are far more views in common than views which separate these groups. Also, there are always exceptions to categories and definitions, including those listed below. However, the views below are rooted in historic confessions and the writings of representative theologians.

Cism-and-Tradism

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Clay Gilbreath

great chart… I can’t wait to see the responses from reformed folk… do they claim this misrepresents their beliefs? If not, this chart should go out to all Baptist churches so they can know the differences!

    Wade

    This chart is stupid. It does not represent the views of a single Calvinist I have ever spoken with. This type of dishonesty and micharacterization is what is wrong with the dialogue surrounding this topic in our convention.

      Michael Vaughan

      What are your concerns with it? I detailed two in my response below, but it’s fairly consistent with what I believe otherwise.

      Robert

      Now it’s getting fun, we have one Calvinist, Wade, already disgusted with the chart as seen by his words:

      “This chart is stupid. It does not represent the views of a single Calvinist I have ever spoken with. This type of dishonesty and mischaracterization is what is wrong with the dialogue surrounding this topic in our convention.”

      On the other hand, another Calvinist, Michael, contradicts Wade and writes:

      “What are your concerns with it? I detailed two in my response below, but it’s fairly consistent with what I believe otherwise.”

      Note that Wade says it does not represent the views of a single Calvinist he knows and yet Michael says “it’s fairly consistent with what I believe otherwise.”

      They contradict each other!

      So did God ordain for Wade to write what he wrote and for Michael to write what he wrote?

      Did God ordain for these two Calvinists to contradict each other?

      Or is it more reasonable to believe that both of them freely chose their responses?

      Michael went on to clarify his beliefs in comparison with the chart:

      “As a Southern Baptist in the Reformed tradition, I’d say the left-hand column is a close representation of my own beliefs. The bit on Providence is rather simplistic and needs a little more explanation so as not to blame God for evil. I’d also say that the order of salvation is wrong: we would agree with Traditionalists that one is saved by believing in Jesus, but we would add that one believes because one has been given the grace to do so through regeneration.”

      Any brief statement on providence is going to be “simplistic” as it is a complex subject.

      The chart is not going to include all qualifying phrases such as that “Calvinists believe that God ordains all things though not in such a way that God is to be blamed for sin”. If you kept adding qualifying and explanatory phrases it could not be a brief comparison! And the chart is itself prefaced with a comment saying as much:

      “Also, there are always exceptions to categories and definitions, including those listed below.”

      So the chart is not going to convey every Calvinist and Traditionalists views, nor was it meant to!

      Regarding the order of salvation, I think what it was getting at is two very different and opposing views concerning the timing of faith and regeneration. Calvinists such as Michael maintain that regeneration precedes and produces faith: while Traditionalists believe that faith precedes regeneration. This difference could be stated in the chart by means of parentheses (so on the Calvinist side it would have:

      (regeneration precedes and produces faith)

      and on the Traditionalist side it would have:

      (faith precedes regeneration).

      Even with Michael’s two clarifications the chart does appear to represent Calvinist beliefs fairly.

      Wade is just having an emotional reaction a meltdown response (typical of many Calvinists when their beliefs are challenged). In contrast Michael provides a more reasoned and less emotional response. Michael’s response is conducive to further dialogue, Wade’s is not.

      Robert

        Gary

        I could almost agree with you, Robert. Except, of course, for your snarky comments about “fun” disagreements that God did or did not ordain and about “typical” Calvinist reactions. I have seen plenty of meltdowns by “traditionalist” believers. These kinds of comments are also not conducive to further dialogue.

        The other thing that is not conducive is this constant insistence that reformed believers be called “Calvinists”, while non-reformed believers be called “traditionalists”, “biblicists”, or some such. This is not at all helpful, just as saying ridiculous things like “I don’t like Calvinists because they think JC stands for John Calvin” are not. To be fair and helpful:

        1. If you insist on calling us “Calvinists”, you should call yourself “Arminians”. Don’t tell me you don’t follow Arminius: we don’t follow Calvin, either. The question here is which system do our beliefs more closely align to, and every “traditionalist” I’ve ever talked to agrees with at least four articles of remonstrance and zero or one “points of Calvinism”.
        2. If you insist on calling yourself “traditionalist”, you should call us “reformed”

          Rick Patrick

          Hi Gary,

          I assure you none of us are trying to offend with our use of labels. I have been chastised before for using the term “Reformed” by individuals who preferred that I call them a “Calvinist,” which is the exact opposite of your preference. Sometimes, it’s just a Catch-22.

            Gary Bisaga

            I appreciate that, Rick. However, I strongly suspect that the difference between myself and others’ views on this is the difference between a “five point Calvinist” and a (as I believe I heard Kim Riddlebarger once say) “fifty point Calvinist”. That is, people who, like me, agree with Calvin on his soteriological views, but disagree with him on other views would prefer “reformed” over “Calvinist”. I would say that the specifics of this article do not touch on those other issues, so labeling this the “reformed” position is much more accurate, as well as less inflammatory.

            I do understand though that one is in a difficult place with the typical audience of this kind of article. It’s difficult for all of us to differentiate between fine positions when we find all of them repugnant. How many times I have been told that in my favorite kinds of music – jazz, bluegrass, classical – “it all sounds the same.” And I expect that most readers of this kind of article hate anything other than their traditional Arminian view of God as spelled out in the chart above. I think my 20 year old son (and Liberty University student) is very wise when he prefers not to go into these labels at all: we could probably all learn a lesson from him.

Jon Yarbrough

Great chart. Dr. Harwood does great work. We are blessed to have him as Southern Baptist scholar..

Michael Vaughan

The site seems to have eaten my first response.

As a Southern Baptist in the Reformed tradition, I’d say the left-hand column is a close representation of my own beliefs. The bit on Providence is rather simplistic and needs a little more explanation so as not to blame God for evil. I’d also say that the order of salvation is wrong: we would agree with Traditionalists that one is saved by believing in Jesus, but we would add that one believes because one has been given the grace to do so through regeneration.

Any other questions?

Yours,
Michael

Max

Great chart! A clear, concise statement of the way it is. Print it out and stick it on your refrigerator, folks! This side-by-side comparison needs to be stuffed in the bulletins at all 45,000+ SBC churches next Sunday! The folks in the pew ain’t got a clue what’s heading at them with the Calvinization of their denomination. Can two distinctly different theologies of God’s plan of salvation “really” coexist in a single denomination going forward? There are those who argue “They always have – diverse soteriological views have been a part of our rich heritage”, “We need to agree to disagree, go along to get along, and make room for everybody under the big tent”, etc. … but New Calvinists I have come to know are more aggressive and arrogant than the “old” Calvinists who have been in SBC ranks (they claim that the rest of lost the gospel and they must restore it, you know). However, I’m not sure at this point that the pew really cares about this development, an apathetic attitude which benefits the NC agenda.

    Michael Vaughan

    Hi Max,
    What are you proposing, exactly? My church’s pews (stacking chairs, actually, since we’re a tiny church plant) are filled with Southern Baptists in the Reformed tradition. Those who aren’t Reformed are welcome, we do outreach together, and we worship together each Sunday through the music, teaching, prayer, and ordinances. We co-exist just fine, and share a 1 Peter 3 unity.

    Do you want us gone, out of the denominatiin? Do you want Traditional pastors to take over and steer us in the right direction? If our church weren’t Reformed, would I be welcome to become a member of your church, or would you deny me membership? What exactly do you want to happen?

    Yours,
    Michael

      David (NAS) Rogers

      I am definitely not a Calvinist, and I’m not necessarily a “Traditionalist” (I don’t really like the name, I wish there were a better one that summarily described the actual soteriology) although I’m much closer to that grouping than Calvinist. Having said that, you certainly could become a member of the church I pastor. There is no Calvinism test here in this east Arkansas church. I teach a non-Calvinism but also make sure that Calvinism is accurately represented. I don’t require conformity to all of my theology and in fact probably hold to the minority positions on some matters. But since most Calvinists hold to what I consider the core beliefs of the saving Gospel then fellowship is present in most capacities.

        Michael Vaughan

        So the answer to your question, “Can two distinctly different theologies of God’s plan of salvation “really” coexist in a single denomination going forward?” is “yes?”

        Gary

        There is such a term, David: “Arminian.” And I am totally agreed that there is fellowship between saved “Calvinists” and “Arminians.” I am a “Calvinist” in a fully “Arminian” denomination – Calvary Chapel – and, despite our theological differences, there is definitely fellowship and sharing the work of spreading the gospel.

      Max

      “What exactly do you want to happen?”

      Hi Michael,

      Well, at this juncture, it appears that SBC leadership is comfortable with both soteriological streams flowing in one channel. Thus, I would be satisfied if SBC’s 45,000+ pastors would simply grab a ladder and paint “Reformed/Calvinist” or “Traditional/Non-Calvinist” on their church signs. That way, members and prospective members would know exactly where the church staff stands in belief and practice. Some church planters and splitters in my area have not been clear about their theology. Would you be willing to do that?

        Mike

        Max, I wonder what you would have my church do. We have both traditional Southern Baptist Calvinists and traditional Southern Baptist non-Calvinists on staff. We get along very well. We also have both streams in our membership. We are all clear about our theology, and we recognize our Southern Baptist heritage as one of cooperation. We love each other. Really, your approach is way too aggressive and divisive for my liking. We have one Lord, one faith, one baptism. Our mission is the Great Commission, we baptize new converts frequently, and we train our people in evangelism, doctrine, and apologetics. I’ll never understand why people like you are so hostile to people like me. Would it not be more productive to focus on a unified effort to make disciples instead of on those things about which we disagree? I find it unfortunate that blog posts like this exist, since they only serve to create (or deepen) division among brethren.

        Michael Vaughan

        We already do, actually. Berea, my old church in Augusta, GA, rented a billboard and tagged it, “Evangelical. Reformed. Baptist.”

        At Emmanuel here in Southaven, MS, I’m afraid we don’t merit a sign yet, but our website has several statements of faith that stand clearly in the Reformed tradition.

        We’re one of two churches here in the Southaven area that are Reformed (there are another two in Memphis and a couple farther South), so we embrace it and provide a home for Southern Baptists of our persuasion. We’re not going to turn folk away, but we’re happy to be ourselves. The non-christians that come in don’t know the difference, obviously, but there’s not much help for that.

          Max

          Michael – I visited Emmanuel’s website and found the following descriptor on your “Beliefs” page:

          “Emmanuel Baptist is an Evangelical, Reformed, Baptist Church. We want to be as clear and honest as possible about who we are.”

          Sir, that is exactly the transparency I would like to see at all 45,000+ SBC churches! While I don’t agree with reformed theology, I sincerely appreciate the integrity of your church leadership to clearly state who they are and what they profess, supported by links to the confessions they hold. That’s what I would like to see happen across the SBC landscape. I live within shouting distance of an SBC church which experienced theological stealth and deception by a young pastor which resulted in an agonizing church split. The people of God deserve more. Just tell us who you are!

            Paul

            What do you mean by “theological stealth and deception”? There must have not been that much, if the church split. Isn’t the BF&M 2000 loose enough to support both theological convictions?

              volfan007

              Paul,

              By stealth, means that a Calvinist comes into a Church that is not Reformed, and tries to secretly convert them to Calvinism. Then, when the congregation wakes up, and sees what’s happening, then the members rise up, and say, “No, no,no…not in this Church.” Then, the strife, fighting, and dissension begins….leading to some bad things for the life of that Church. I’ve seen this happen in more Churches than I can count on 2 hands….too many Churches. So, that’s exactly what is meant by “stealth,” and it’s unethical and deceptive.

              David

                Paul Abeyta

                David,

                So you believe that Calvinists have an agenda to disrupt churches? I don’t think that happens. There are people who may come to understand the doctrines of grace or a Calvinistic soteriology and then explain that to others, but this should be allowed shouldn’t it. Just like a person who through their study of the Word and has Arminian theology is free to speak up and explain that to others in a Calvinistic congregation. There’s nothing stealth about this…unless maybe you are trying to keep this information from others. But I doubt people are doing that.

                  volfan007

                  Paul,

                  I’m talking about a Calvinist, Reformed Pastor coming into a Church, which he knows is NOT Reformed. And, he comes into the Church, and tries to CONVERT them to Calvinism.

                  That is deceptive and unethical. It’s just plain ole wrong. And, God is not happy with these Pastors, who come into a Church, and cause division and strife. Nope, He aint happy with those fellas.

                  David

                    Gary

                    So you’re saying that it’s unethical and wrong to go in and teach what you think the scripture is honestly saying? That if you as a pastor went into a church who taught to what you honestly believe is some unbiblical teaching (e.g. that you have to be baptized to be saved) that you should not try to convince the people of the truth from the Bible? If that’s what you think, then I hope you never get responsibility to teach in church. There’s a reason why James said “not many of you should become teachers” – if you value people’s comfort with their traditions over what the Bible teaches, please do not ever teach in a church.

                    Now causing divisions is something else entirely. That is never right. I am a member of a very Arminian church (Calvary Chapel), but I would never try to cause a division. But I do have to ask: if a preacher comes in and preaches the truth, and some in the church object to that truth and split off, who is doing the dividing here? To put responsibility for being “divisive” on the pastor is as bad as liberals claiming conservatives are being “divisive” because they don’t agree with them.

                    Finally, the idea of “converting” somebody to “Calvinism” is ridiculous. Not only do I wish only to convert people to Christ, but by steadfastly holding to your “traditionalist” teaching, youdoing the exact same thing you accuse us of – trying to “convert” people to Arminianism (though most are not honest enough to use the name). This whole thing is silly though. It’s not a matter of “converting” somebody to our viewpoint: it’s explaining the truth in a way so as people understand and accept it. In short, God IS “happy with those fellas” – the fellas God ain’t happy with are the ones who don’t care enough about their fellow Christians to properly represent them.

                    volfan007

                    Gary,

                    Where do I start? with all the things that you apparently didn’t read, or took out of context, where to start?

                    Let me just say this…..I believe every Pastor should preach the truth of the Bible….always.

                    That being said, I’m not talking about a Calvinist not preaching what he believes. I’m talking about a Calvinist going to a Church, to be their Pastor, knowing that they are NOT a REFORMED Church, and trying to convert them. I’m talking about a Calvinist Pastor being deceptive, right from the beginning….not telling the Search Committee, nor the Church, that they are a Calvinist, or Reformed….and then, him seek to convert that Church to Calvinism….and thus, causing major strife and division…..not from just preaching the Bible…but, from preaching his Calvinist view of the Bible to a Church, which did not want to be Calvinist.

                    It’d be like me going into a Church, which I knew was Reformed, and not telling them that I was not a Calvinist. And then, I started teaching my non-Reformed interpretation of the Bible to them. How do you think that would go over? And, I would be wrong to sneak into a Church, which I knew to be Reformed, and try to teach them my beliefs about the Bible….unless, of course, I told them upfront, and they were alright with it.

                    Do you understand now?

                    David

                    Gary

                    I would be interested in the list of the things I “didn’t read, or took out of context.” It’s easy to make such an allegation, but it seems to me you ought to specify what you’re talking about if you want to do it.

                    To be clear, I am NOT talking about the person who lies to the committee. I admit that I didn’t specifically mention that in this particular comment. That can never be substantiated, and if you read my comments elsewhere in this thread, you will see I say exactly that. To be fair, you didn’t mention lying to the committee either – it is not something I didn’t read or take out of context. We’re both guilty of not being clear enough.

                    So, we’re agreed: God is not happy about fellas lying to get into a church. Both sides need to be clear and honest on where they stand. But if the point is never raised (and it’s not made obvious what is expected regarding the theological stance of a pastor), then I cannot blame that pastor. Frankly, I think a much bigger problem than a lying reformed pastor — since such a man is highly unlikely to be a pastor to start out with — is a committee not saying where they stand, saying just “we’re biblicists/traditionalists/whatever” but actually having clear hidden Arminian traditions in mind. My own denomination of Calvary Chapel is a prime example of this, as are most Baptist churches. In such churches, we say we don’t have any particular systematic theology, “nothing but the Bible,” when we agree 100% with the Arminian view and disagree 100% with the Calvinist one. If I went into such a church, and they say “we teach nothing but the Bible” and I asked “would you be open to me trying to correct misunderstandings” and they said “yes,” then I can hardly be blamed for lying. This is also why I really dislike this concept of “traditionalist.” It is not at all clear, since Baptist tradition (as do most denominations) clearly contains so many different streams.

                    In summary, I agree lying to get a job is wrong and doubly wrong if you’re a pastor. Now, I have never known of a pastor who specifically lied to the committee to get a job, but there may well be a small number of them (again, a few substantiated examples would be helpful). But I know for a fact there is a huge number of churches who pretend to not have any theological stance but really do. I suspect most cases of “lying pastors” are really cases of “pretending search committees.”

                  volfan007

                  Gary,

                  Most Pastor Search Committees are not theologically astute enough to talk about things like Calvinism, and Arminianism. You and others may not like that, but it’s just the way it is. Therefore, it should be the potential Pastor’s job to talk about things that he KNOWS might be very controversial. And, if he is into Reformed theology, then he should bring that up…..he should be theologically astute to know that something like Reformed theology could be a potentially controversial subject, unless a Church is Reformed, already. And, for a PASTOR to take on a Church that he knows is not Reformed…without talking to the Search Committee about his views…..is unethical and deceptive. I’ve seen this happen at more Churches than I can count on one hand, and then some. It has led to strife and division in each and every case…every one. Because, the unsuspecting congregation didn’t know about such things, because they’ve never been to seminary…..but, once the fella came in, and started teaching such things….then, boom! It turned ugly. And, I’ll guarantee you that those Churches are now theologically astute…and won’t hesitate to ask a fella if he’s a Calvinist, or not. And, they let it be known that they absolutely do NOT want a Calvinist to be their Pastor. In fact, one of the churches, which I’m talking about, even told Calvinists to not apply. They were burned… went thru a lot of strife and division due to the Calvinism of that Pastor….and do NOT want another one.

                  That’s what I’m talking about….a Reformed Preacher not informing a potential Church that he is Reformed, and will preach that way…but instead, he stealthily comes into that Church…..starts preaching his Calvinism….and then, the people balk….and the people wonder what in the world is this guy talking about…and, they wonder why did he come to their Church, if he believed that way?

                  David

                    Gary

                    It seems to me that a pastor search committee ought to have at least one person who is theologically astute enough to understand the difference between Calvinism and Arminianism and know which one they are closest to rather than clinging to terms like “traditionalism” or “biblicism.” Of course, the level of discernment in the church today is sadly low, so maybe we should not expect anything better. But if that is what you are talking about – not made clear until now – then I agree with you. However, I will reiterate that I have seen plenty of churches – entire denominations, in fact – pretend to not be Arminian while clinging to every tradition of that belief yet not admit it.

                    I would still think it useful to know a few actual cases of such pastors. I suspect, if one investigated the actual cases, it would not simply be a matter of the big, bad Calvinist walking in and hoodwinking an innocent congregation and single-handedly causing division and strife.

                Max

                David – Sorry to hear that this is also happening in your area. I suppose that quiet revolutions to take over and change an established church can be embraced by both reformed and non-reformed pastors (of any age). But, for the life of me, I don’t understand how young pastors who begin their ministry this way can think God will bless it. You can reform with integrity!

              Max

              In this case, “theological stealth and deception” = lying to the search committee about theological persuasion, followed by moving the church to elder rule after recruiting enough new members to swing the vote to change church governance.

              Yes, the BFM revision crafted in 2000 is loose enough to support both theological convictions. Should it?

                Paul Abeyta

                Max,

                Thanks for replying. I understand that this could happen, but that is not a Calvinistic characteristic. Lying like that, especially from a person that is desiring to shepherd a congregation shows that the person is a wolf – a false teacher. I’ve heard of people with a synergistic view of salvation doing that same sort of thing – these are wicked men. Nobody who truly understands the doctrine of grace would lie to get a job. Nobody. You can believe that.

                I take no issue with the BFM 2000. It’s the confession that we use at the church where I pastor for our statement of faith. We have people who would consider themselves Calvinist and people who consider themselves Arminian at our congregation. Sometimes, this leads to people coming to a conclusion that they should worship somewhere else, but more than often, this difference is not a barrier to us pursing the Great Commission.

    Ken Miller

    Thanks, Max. Well put.

Ken Miller

This represents the most clear comparative analysis between Calvinism and Traditionalism I have seen. Thanks for it.I agree with it 100%.

Lydia

“This chart is stupid. It does not represent the views of a single Calvinist I have ever spoken with. This type of dishonesty and micharacterization is what is wrong with the dialogue surrounding this topic in our convention”

Wade, over the years, I have quoted Calvinists to Calvinists who say,” but that is not Calvinism”! :o). I think Dr. Harwood kept it simple (A non Calvinist approach) and pretty much nailed it. It boils down to determinism. I realize that Calvinists have many fancy words to explain how God is not the author of evil in their construct but taking their doctrine to its logical conclusions ,says otherwise. I fear much is attributed to God in the determinist construct that is really from Satan.

One either reads scripture solely through the determinist construct filter….or they don’t. I think it is that simple. That is why the proof text war does not work well.

What is dishonest is when Calvinists tell pulpit committees they are not Calvinists– when they are. That is happening in my world right now. But some are fooled because they are not familiar with Calvin, Pink, Piper, Puritan authors and so on and on ad nauseum. All the names the candidate has taught from, quoted and gushed over the last few years. Not a non Cal among them. Yet, the candidate claims not to be a Calvinist. One of the problems we have with the “unity” talk right now is: Trust. Credibility becomes a problem. Quiet Revolution did not help now that many of us have read it.

Michael Vaughan

You know, now that I look at it, I do one have point in particular that concerns me: the title of this article. “Comparing Calvinism to SBC Traditionalism.” Why does “Traditionalism” get the modifier “SBC” but not “Calvinism?”

It really should be “SBC Calvinism vs SBC Traditionalism.” If you guys get the modifier, we should, too. It’s a rhetorical tool that diminishes one side. It was done without malicious intent, I’m sure, but it conveys a lot about where the author stands.

    Sylvia

    If you want to know where the author stands, read the paragraph above the chart. It looks like SBC Today changed the author’s original title.

      Rick Patrick

      To clarify the terminology used….

      Dr. Adam Harwood: “Calvinistic Southern Baptist and Non-Calvinistic Southern Baptist”
      Connect 316: “Calvinism and Traditionalism”
      SBC Today: “Calvinism and SBC Traditionalism”

      The term “Non-Calvinist” is one I personally despise. I am also a Non-Martian, but there is so much more to me than not being from Mars. The real problem with Non-Calvinist is not simply that it is vague, but that it frames the issue as if we were only talking about ONE thing—Calvinism—with some of us IN FAVOR and others of us AGAINST. This will always leave *Traditionalists / Conversionists / Decisionists / Savabilists / Volitionalists / Extensivists* subject to baseless charges of breeding disunity. The truth is we are talking about TWO issues and not one. As each side promotes its own view, it necessarily disaffirms the other side.

      Perhaps one day another term will replace Traditionalism. For now, it is the most commonly recognized term to describe the Hobbs-Rogers tradition. It may not be a perfect term, but frankly, neither is Calvinism or Arminianism or any of the others. (For a more lengthy explanation, see http://connect316.net/aWhyTraditionalism)

        Michael Vaughan

        I can respect that. It’s just like the abortionists labeling themselves pro-choice and us anti-abortion. I’ll call you guys whatever you want to be called.

        I personally try to avoid the word Calvinist, since there is so much baggage associated with the term and 5 different people will mean 5 different things by it. I’m hoping another term catches on, like Neo-Reformed. I really like the new acronym PROOF instead of TULIP, but I don’t see a good label developing (“Proofers” doesn’t quite have the same ring to it!)

          Johnathan Pritchett

          Actually, I think Proofer is quite catchy.

          I call myself a Traditionalist. Proofer sounds better and is less than a mouthful, and Traditionalist is commonly used for people who hold some “traditional” view a opposed to a contrary view. Like, the Annihilationists at Rethinking Hell call people who hold the eternal conscious torment view “traditionalists” for short, for just one example of many. Others use it in similar ways in talking about positions on a variety of theological issues.

          At least Proofer would be a uniquely soteriological identification tool. I would say call yourself a Tulipist, as that avoids “Calvinist” broadly considered since Calvinism is not mere Tulipism, and technically, as some argue, Calvinism proper is would only be Tuipism (no L) with respect to soteriology. But, you like PROOF better than TULIP.

          I know some people have suggested and use “Dortian” as a moniker that gets the soteriology point across without other baggage. That may be helpful.

          I think Traditionalist will stick though, and I don’t mind using it so long as when I use it, people recognize its soteriological context when I use it.

          In the end, labels are good since they do avoid repeating long discussions.

Allen Rea

Dr. Harwood,

Our entire theological persuasion is once again in your debt.
Rick, I am fond of the term “Traditional.” I, however, have been known to modify it with “Young” and “Settled.”

Carl Peterson

It is very hard to make a chart depicting two separate traditions especially when one is part of one of the traditions. The authors of the chart should be commended for their attempt and there are some good parallels made. However, I think the chart still does not make the true differences between the two traditions clear and I would suggest to add Arminianism to help distinguish between Traditionalism and Calvinism and because some Baptists are Arminian.

As others have noted the “Order of salvation” section as worded makes little sense. I think the word salvation should be scrapped because it is a somewhat ambiguous term with more than one meaning. For instance many would state that they have been saved, are being saved, and will be saved. It would be better to use a more precise word from the Ordo salutis such as regeneration. If the point of the chart is to make the positions and their difference clearer than a new word would be advisable. Right now I do not know what the “Order of salvation” section is trying to say. It is probably about regeneration preceeding faith but it can be taken so many ways.

Another point is that according to Hoekema and other scholars the more traditional view of the Reformed faith is that God desires that all men be saved but still does not regenerate all. Calvin has a discussion of this in his commentary on 2 Peter 3:9. He states that God does desire to save all and that “God stretches his hand out to all alike, but he only grasps those to whom he has chosen before the foundation of the World” ((Commentary 2nd Peter). This is not my favorite passage but I am only using it to show that the Reformed tradition has traditionally believed in the paradox of election to salvation and God desiring all to be saved (because both are scriptural). A good chapter on this is “Gospel Call” in Heokema’s Saved by Grace.

In the “God’s grace and human response section” it would be helpful to state “effectual call” instead of only call since Calvinists believe that God does indeed call everyone to salvation (General call).

I personally believe that unregenerate man can respond faithfully to the gospel but will not do so because of the desires of their own hearts. Thus nothing stops them from accepting Christ but themselves. But many Calvinists say “cannot” so that is not such a big deal. But I think that it is clear that both those who say can but will not and those who state will and cannot both mean that the person’s desires make it so they will not choose God. It is not about God blocking their path to salvation.

There are some other little things that are not exactly to my liking but that would occur in any chart of this nature. In the end I think the chart is nmore helpful to those who are Traditionalists who are looking for a simple way to state why they do not believe in Calvinism. I do not think it does as helpful of job demonstrating accurately the differences between the two belief systems.

CARL

Lydia

“It really should be “SBC Calvinism vs SBC Traditionalism.” If you guys get the modifier, we should, too. It’s a rhetorical tool that diminishes one side. It was done without malicious intent, I’m sure, but it conveys a lot about where the author stands.”

I am so glad that we do not have a name for our beliefs after a mere human. I would be ashamed to admit I believe something named after a historical tyrant. Talk about a “rhetorical” tool! :o)

    Michael Vaughan

    Welcome to the conversation, Lydia.

    It sure helps when you get to name your own side, doesn’t it? You can avoid all that pesky historical detail and choose something without baggage like “Traditionalists. ”

    To address your point directly, I find the doctrines of Reformed belief in scripture. It’s just a historical fact that John Calvin was one of the men who helped reclaim them from the grips of the Roman Catholic Church. In the end, I really don’t care about the man, and his life doesn’t affect what I read in scripture. You could tell me that he worshipped Satan, and my response would simply be that we really need to change the name of our tribe. Attacks against the man, founded or unfounded, lend nothing to the doctrinal discussion at hand.

      Carl Peterson

      Good points Michael. It is kind of like the Donatist schism of the early church. The morality/spirituality of the man does not change truth. If Calvinism is the truth (or mostly truth) that is revealed in scripture then it should not be rejected based on the morality of Calvin. This is the same as the sacraments not becoming void because of the morality of the priest administering. I believe though while Calvin had some glaring faults, he is often judged too harsh by his critics and given too much of a pass by his friends. But whichever way if the Reformed doctrines are supported by scripture they should be believed and if not then they should not. This is true whether Calvin was a saint or monster.

Lydia

Welcome to the conversation, Lydia.

It sure helps when you get to name your own side, doesn’t it? You can avoid all that pesky historical detail and choose something without baggage like “Traditionalists. ””

I am sorry you have no volition in such matters.

“To address your point directly, I find the doctrines of Reformed belief in scripture. It’s just a historical fact that John Calvin was one of the men who helped reclaim them from the grips of the Roman Catholic Church. In the end, I really don’t care about the man, and his life doesn’t affect what I read in scripture. You could tell me that he worshipped Satan, and my response would simply be that we really need to change the name of our tribe. Attacks against the man, founded or unfounded, lend nothing to the doctrinal discussion at hand.”

Oookaaaay.

Silly me. If correct doctrine does not drive behavior then what is the point? You have no idea how thankful I am that punishing heretics is against the law now.

    Michael Vaughan

    Hi Lydia,
    I’m sorry I’m not being clear, let me try to rephrase.

    I didn’t arrive at Reformed doctrine because I read Calvin. Neither did you arrive at Traditionalism because you read some non-reformed writer. I arrived at it through the reading of scripture (though I’ll also acknowledge that people like yourself arrive at an understanding of Traditionalism through your honest reading of Scripture. I don’t fault you for that. I don’t demonize you for it. I can respect it. I’m okay with merely agreeing to disagree).

    I would ask you to forget about John Calvin when discussing Reformed belief with me, because he is irrelevant. In the same vein, I don’t lump you together with TD Jakes, or Joel Osteen, or Mormons, or Fred Phelps, simply because you share a doctrine or two with them. Your faith and your doctrine don’t rest on their character or their theology as a whole–it was shaped separately, and your doctrine is completely unrelated to theirs. Neither does mine with John Calvin. They are irrelevant to you; Calvin is irrelevant to me.

    Can we agree on this?

Lydia

Carl, yes how shallow of the Donatists to expect non corrupt priests. Made Augustine furious enough to want to wipe them out. (Sigh)

Not exactly a position of trust you are coming from Carl. Hide the children and lock up the silver the Calvinist are coming over.. Evil Christians are perfectly okay if they believe the correct doctrine. I get it.

    Carl Peterson

    Lydia,

    You missed the point Everyone wanted priests who had not sacrificed or broken under persecution. The point was that the sacraments were not illegitimate because the priest was not moral. for instance the baptism were judged to be true baptism even though an immoral priest administered it. Because the sacraments did not depend on man’s morality. They depended on God’s. Same thing with the truth taught in His Word. Get it now?

      Lydia

      Carl,
      . I beg to differ. When Christianity was declared legal and made the de facto religion of the Roman Empire, Christianity was turned to the same purpose as the Roman pagan religion before it had been: to bring all people into a single body/system. The Donatists rebelled against this idea thinking it was actually a form of the fall and harming purity (as in set apart). To them, this state sanctioned church was making a mockery of sacraments by making them the sacrament an object of worship.
      .
      My response was focused on how Augustine responded to their “rebellion”. Tyrant. He was a “company” man so to speak. And he had little problem with the merging of Pagan ideals into Christianity, anyway. The question for me is not how right their position was but did they deserve the disdain and backlash from Augustine for going off the institutional reservation? Like the Reformed Stepchildren, they often get a bad rap and their history is twisted to fit the Reformed view, imo.

        Carl Peterson

        Lydia,

        Ok. I think that Donatists also get a bad rap sometimes. I also think Pietists get a bad rap sometimes. i disagree wit some of your points regarding Augustine and the church after the Edict of Milan. I think it displays and older view of church history held by some historians in the early 20th century (lat 19th). Harnack comes to mind although you and he would not agree on much theologically speaking. But anyways church historians have moved on from that view into a more nuanced view.

        But anyways that was not my point when i brought the Donatists up. The points was that the church rightly held at that salvation and truth are based upon God and not the morality and actions of men. I agree that one’s theology should change how one lives their own lives. However the actual truth of a doctrine does not diminish because of the sins of a theologian. I am hoping you agree.

Doug Sayers

Michael says,

“To address your point directly, I find the doctrines of Reformed belief in scripture.”

Thanks Michael, you have opened the most important door in all these discussions but you have not walked in.

If we believe the Bible is the final rule for faith, practice, and church signs then we are going to have to do the work of explaining biblical texts. Arguments from church history and ad hominem stuff will not get the job done for either side of the debate over Calvinism.

My challenge to you would be to search the Bible to see where the Calvinistic points are explicitly taught (or necessarily inferred). For what its worth to you, I dumped my Calvinism when I realized that the distinguishing points of Calvinism were actually *inferences* that failed to account for all of the biblical revelation. They weren’t clear biblical teachings.

There are no texts in scripture which teach clearly, or by necessary inference, that God imputes the guilt of Adam’s sin to his posterity. This is not taught in Romans 5 or Psalm 51. It is biblically and rationally unsustainable that anyone can be born guilty of sin. It is biblically and rationally unsustainable that the LORD would send anyone to hell for that which they had no control, (that is Adam’s sin). This biblical omission, by itself, is the end of Calvinism. In Scripture, sin is not imputed where there is no law. (Rom 4:15; 5:13) How can a newborn baby have broken God’s law? We know that Jacob and Esau had not done any evil before they were born. (Rom 9) We shouldn’t need the Bible to know this but I’m glad it’s in there! We are born with a sinful nature, to be sure, but no one is born guilty.

There are no explicit texts which teach that Jesus did not make a definite atonement for every sinner in the world. (If there was such a text then you can be sure that all Calvinists would be rallying around it like desperate bees on a lone flower.) Jesus came so that the world through Him might be saved. John 3:17

There are no texts which explicitly teach that we must receive the “washing of regeneration” BEFORE we can repent and be justified by faith. Saving faith is nowhere said to be an irresistible gift for a predetermined elect.

Lastly, there are no texts of scripture which teach, or infer, that the final judgment essentially took place before anyone was born and this alleged judgment was based on NOTHING foreseen in those being judged. You can’t have a judgment over nothing.

Keep studying my friend and don’t worry about who’s side your on, or how you are perceived.

    Carl Peterson

    Doug,

    You said there are n texts that discuss the imputation of the guilt of Adam to progeny and none that state that God sends anyone to hell for which they ha no control.

    Explain Romans 3 to me? Also what about Isaac and Ishmael and Jacob and Esau. Clearly they had done no evil before they were born but that does not really address the point. That just states they had not committed any acts of sin. Why did God choose Isaac and Jacob and reject Ishmael and Esau? They did nothing for God to reject them. They had no control over the situation they were being born into and it was no fault of their own. So why does scripture say that God hated Esau before he had done anything wrong? Does this jive with your statements above?

    Also when does someone become able to commit acts of sin in which they are responsible? When do people have control over their actions in regards to sin? I am not looking for exact dates or ages. Is their an age of accountability? Is that explicitly taught or inferred in scripture?

    I have more questions. Those are just a few and enough. I believe that Romans 3 does explicitly teach that All are guilty of sin. That all means all. Jews and Gentiles.

      Doug Sayers

      Thanks Carl, hopefully I can clarify. These are places where we must be precise. My claim was, “There are no texts in scripture which teach clearly, or by necessary inference, that God imputes the guilt of Adam’s sin to his posterity. (And you may know that there has been disagreement on this question among Calvinists since there have been Calvinists). I certainly did not say that there are some people who are not sinners! Romans 5 teaches that we are made sinners as a result of Adam’s fall and God’s curse upon the race. But Scripture never says that anyone was born guilty. It is possible to be a sinner yet not have the guilt of our sin imputed to our account. Every believer can praise God and exalt the name of Jesus for that blessed truth!
      .
      There is a lot in Romans 3, but I assume you were thinking of this: “Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.” This text reinforces my point and the point of Romans 4:15 and 5:13 where we learn that sin is not imputed where there is no law. The guilt here in Rom 3 is talking about our guilt before the law (that is, the law contained in Scripture and the law written on our hearts). So I agree that we are all guilty of sin as we knowingly break the law but disagree that we are born guilty of sin. How can an infant be held accountable to the law?

      The hating of Esau in Rom 9 is not in the context of eternal salvation but in the context of patriarchal blessings. There is nothing said about heaven, hell, forgiveness, or repentance and faith in Rom 9. The context of this unconditional election was ethnic/earthly… not eternal/salvific.

      These doctrines have very practical implications. Do you think that the babies in your church deserve to perish in hell? If so, does your church teach, at the funerals of small children, that they will be sent to hell if they died before coming to the faith?

      Lastly, take an objective look at Romans 7:9. Paul is describing a time in his life when he was “alive” without the law and then he “died” when the law came. He was the son of a Pharisee. The only time that he would have been without the law would have been in his childhood. Adam “died” the day he ate. He became dead in trespasses and sins. Likewise, we each “die” when God imputes the guilt of our own sin to our own account.

      All for now, thanks for your interest and your civility in disagreement.

        Johnathan Pritchett

        Doug, find me on Facebook or e-mail (Norm will give it to you).

        We agree theologically, and both have left Calvinism, but I would like to talk to someone who isn’t a Calvinist on differences in exegesis. It would be a fun and nice change of pace to discuss areas of disagreement with someone on my team! :D

        Primarily, I would like to talk about about Romans 7:13-25 and Romans 9.

        I like your writing and appreciate your contributions.

        Paul Abeyta

        Hi Doug.

        You come to some interesting conclusions that I wanted to push back against. If you have time, help me to see how you are coming to your conclusions. I do agree with you that these are area’s in which we must be precise.

        So, speaking of that, I wonder what it is you mean by “guilt”. Do you mean to say that people, even though they are born with a sin nature, are innocent? It does seem like you agree that people are born with a sin nature, inherited from Adam.

        You say that there has “been disagreement amongst Calvinists on this since there has been Calvinists”. Can you tell me who is involved in these disagreements? I think some Lutherans may agree about the no guilt, but I’m not aware of Calvinists with this position. There perhaps can be some, but I would like to know if it is someone prominent even.

        Now, I’m not Carl, so I don’t know for sure if this is what he meant, but I think he could have possibly meant something different than what you did about Romans 3 (although your exegesis is a bit confusing). I would have thought that he was speaking more along the lines of –

        What then? Are we Jews any better off? No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, as it is written:

        “None is righteous, no, not one;
        no one understands;
        no one seeks for God.

        (Romans 3:9-11 ESV)

        So we know Paul is quoting from the Psalms, and his point is that no Jew or Greek person (and note, he’s not making any sort of age designation – he’s lumping everyone together) and he says that “none is righteous”. Now if none are righteous, then the implication is that they are unrighteous. If they have no guilt, even if they don’t have the capacity to sin, how is it that they are unrighteous?

        Your explanation of Romans 9 is also confusing to me. Why would this hatred of Esau have anything to do with patriarchal blessing and not salvation as well? You mention that it’s in the “context of patriarchal blessing”, but the context of Scripture which it is in, is about salvation. Look at the flow of the book of Romans. What was Paul talking about in Romans 8? He was clearly talking about salvation – he was making a case for it and in Romans 9, he explains his freedom in it. It would be weird to think that he is not talking about Salvation in Romans 9. Even more, most people will agree that Romans 9-11 is making one large point. In the beginning of Romans 9, he addresses the blessings of the covenant that come for Israel (and not all of Israel is Israel – those blessing being summed up as unbroken fellowship with God). By the end of Romans 9, he is talking about righteousness (in terms of salvation – certainly not patriarchal blessing) and then in 10 and 11, he is clearly dealing with salvation. In your understanding, what would be the point of Paul making the point that God hated Esau concerning unconditional election in ethnic/earthly terms?

        It seems like you may be trying to raise up a straw man, by bringing up the issue of babies. There is much written on this from reformed men. Search the topic from teachers like John MacArthur, R.C. Sproul, Michael Horton, R.C. Clark, James White. I’m sure it won’t be hard to find adequate information on this topic.

        I’m also confused with your explanation of Romans 7:9. Are you saying that those “who are without the law” don’t die, since they are always alive? What about people who never hear of the law? In this day and age, most people do, but a few hundred years ago, if not for a missionary, the law didn’t reach anybody. I would argue that Paul is wanting to explain the holiness of the law. He says, “if it had not been for the law, he would have not known sin”. His point in Romans v9 being that he was ignorant of the law, thinking he was made righteous by it. He had been thinking that it brought life (“the commandment that promised life”) had in fact brought death. He is explaining his realization of his need for grace, because he can’t keep the law. Note 7:8 – apart from the law – sin is dead. The statement in 7:9 is in contrast to that statement. Even more, all people have the law written on their hearts – Paul in chapter 7 was speaking about the right realization of the ramifications of the law. Here’s Romans 2 for reference –

        For all who have sinned without the law will also perish without the law (why – because they are guilty), and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law. For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified. For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them

        (Romans 2:12-15 ESV)

        I hope I was clear in what I have wrote.

          Doug Sayers

          Thanks Paul, I will try to briefly respond to some of what you’ve said. Also, please know that my remarks, here, may not represent the views of the SBC Today folks. I appreciate their willingness to give us this forum. (From time to time we should offer a word of thanks to the poor schmuck who has to wade through every word of all these comments and filter out the nonsense and hateful rhetoric.) Anyway, I don’t claim to be speaking for anyone else, here.

          We need to distinguish between being guilty of committing a sin and having the guilt of that sin imputed to our eternal account. True believers still commit sins, and are thus guilty of them, but, thanks to Jesus, we do not have the guilt of those sins imputed to us. Likewise, with children who are born in a state of grace, in spite of their sinful natures. When a toddler steals some candy from a store he is guilty of breaking the law but we would not prosecute the child (most of us anyway) because of his ignorance of the law and his inability to understand and obey it. The guilt of that sin would not be imputed to him. The child is not to blame for being born with the natural inclination to take everything he sees that is not nailed down. Now, we would hold a police officer guilty of taking some candy from a store. Thus we see that there are two contexts of guilt. One is earthly and temporal (the police officer should be busted and repay his debt, Christian or not) and there is also an eternal context of guilt. If the cop was a genuine believer then his sin would be imputed to Christ by virtue of his faith and God’s unbelievable willingness to be merciful to those who don’t deserve it.

          FYI: Charles Hodge (Systematic Theology) has a fairly thorough breakdown of the various views held by the Church (Calvinist and Non) regarding the imputation of Adam’s sin to the race. There you will see an explanation of Mediate Imputation, Immediate Imputation, the Realistic Theory, and Edwards’ theory of Identity/Oneness…

          But before you go to our friends on the bookshelves I would encourage you to open Romans 5 and read it very carefully. Paul notes the people born from Adam to Moses whose sinning was not *like* the transgression of Adam. Therefore, if their sin was not according to the likeness of Adam’s transgression then it is clear that they had not committed the transgression of Adam. Nevertheless, they all were sinners and ultimately died. They were held accountable to the law written on their hearts. But they (and the rest of us) did not commit the sin in the Garden. Eve was not our wife, in Adam and we did not name the animals, in Adam. We didn’t exist and you can’t do something wrong if you don’t exist!

          When God imputes the guilt of our own sin to our own account we are dead in sin. Like He did with Adam. When our sin is imputed to Christ we are alive in Him.

          Lastly tonight, for those who have had to bury babies and small children… this is no straw man.

            bruce mercer

            the death penalty was passed on to adam’s children. so why the penalty if no guilt was imputed. people are counted as if they had acted if a representative of theirs acts (i.e. congress decares war, the nation goes to war). therefore John 3 tells us those not believing are under the wrath of God. nomiddle ground. Romans 5 therefore correctly says 12 Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned: when did we all sin? in our representative adam. in the same way, when were believers righteous?
            19 For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.
            or the great transaction 2Cor 5:21 For He hath made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.

              Robert

              Hello Bruce,

              Bruce I want to respond to your “drive by” post (i.e. like a drive by shooting you just made some quick shots :-)). All of your statements presuppose Calvinistic beliefs are true. I reject Calvinists beliefs so your points which may seem obvious to you, have little to them from my perspective.

              You wrote:

              “the death penalty was passed on to adam’s children.”

              I agree, everyone born after the fall was born “spiritually dead” (out of relationship with God). When Adam and Eve sinned they did not die physically immediately (in fact they lived many years after that): they did die spiritually however the instant they sinned. And this separation from God was passed on to all their descendants.

              “so why the penalty if no guilt was imputed.”

              Because Adam and Eve began their existence in a personal relationship with God, they did not begin spiritually dead and then become saved. All their descendants begin their existence not being in relationship with God. And the Biblical principle is that each is responsible for their own sin: according to Ezekiel 18:20 the son/child is not responsible for the sins of the father nor is the father responsible for the sins of the son/child. If you check Judaism they have never held that children are born with the guilt of Adam. This belief the imputation of Adam’s guilt to all, was invented by Augustine (and maintained by the Reformers).

              “people are counted as if they had acted if a representative of theirs acts (i.e. congress decares war, the nation goes to war).”

              Adam as representing us is Calvinistic theology; it is not stated by scripture but is a doctrine and belief developed by the Reformers.

              “therefore John 3 tells us those not believing are under the wrath of God.”

              John speaking of those “not believing” is speaking of able minded persons who are nonbelievers, he was not speaking of babies or the mentally disabled who are incapable of knowing the difference between right and wrong and so incapable of not believing (they can neither believe nor not believe, which is one of the reasons why Baptists do not baptize children but only those who understand their own sinfulness)

              “no middle ground.”

              No middle ground between what options?

              “Romans 5 therefore correctly says 12 Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned: when did we all sin? in our representative adam. in the same way, when were believers righteous?”

              Again your reference to us sinning “in our representative Adam” assumes a theology that I reject.

              Romans 5:12 is a scripture that Augustine misinterpreted. The key phrase there is “eph’ho pantes hemarton”. Augustine relied on Latin translations of Greek texts. In Latin, the Greek idiom “eph ho” which means *because of* was translated as *in whom*. Saying that all have sinned in Adam is quite different than saying that all sinned because of him. The Eastern Orthodox have recognized Augustine’s mistake for centuries so they have rejected the Augustinian doctrine of the guilt of Adam being imputed to all of Adam and Eve’s descendants. It should also be remembered that part of Augustine’s motivation for interpreting Rom. 5:12 in this way was to validate infant baptism. Augustine had to justify infant baptism, and he did so by arguing that this imputed guilt from Adam was washed away by infant baptism. If people believed that infant baptism washed away this imputed guilt from Adam it gave them a very good reason to baptize infants. As Baptists we recognize that our baptism does not wash away our sins nor does it eliminate imputed guilt from Adam. Rather, it is symbolic of what has happened to us in our conversion based upon the work of Christ. His work on the cross is what takes away our sin, not our baptism. It should be noted that some modern groups, e.g. The Church of Christ still maintain that our baptism literally washes away our sin, therefore they argue that if you are not baptized you are not saved. Baptists believe that baptism does not save us, but we do it because we are saved and it is a public testimony of the Lord’s work in our lives.

              Augustine mistakenly took it to mean “In Adam all sinned”. According to the Greek it is “because of Adam all sinned.” It is true that Adam got the ball rolling, but after Him, we all sin on our own (when we reach the age of accountability) and so are responsible for our own sins. I am sure that Adam committed other sins after the fall during his hundreds of years of existence: are we all responsible for all of those sins as well? No.

              “19 For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.”

              Be careful about taking this scripture too woodenly, the obedience of Jesus did not make all people righteous, did not justify all people (if it did, then universalism would be true). I reject universalism, not everyone will be saved, not everyone was made righteous or justified by Jesus.

              “or the great transaction 2Cor 5:21 For He hath made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.”

              It is true that our sin was put on Jesus while he was on the cross, that is explicitly stated by scripture and so ought to be believed by all believers. But scripture does not state that we all are born with the guilt of Adam. That was a doctrine invented by Augustine not explicitly presented by scripture.

              Robert

                Charles D. Blew

                Robert, I saw this response to Bruce and would like to make a couple of comments. First of all, I don’t know if you are the same Robert as the one that had responded to one of my posts, but I responded to a Robert this morning. You may infer from my response this morning that I think that the infant baptism controversy was only one of mode but I misspoke and I realize that the controversy was much more than that. I don’t know much about the reformer’s thoughts on infant baptism. I do believe that immersion of professing believers is the biblical way to respond in obedience to the Lord’s ordination of that sacrament. But the reformers labored long and hard over scripture, much more than me, so if I took the trouble to follow their thoughts on this, I might better understand their position. Enough of that.

                Regarding your response to Bruce: I believe that scripture is clear that we are not created independently as each of the angels. Fleshly mankind was created and constituted in the first Adam; spiritual mankind was created and constituted in the second Adam, Jesus Christ. Therefore, God looks to the two Adams to see what we have done and what we have become. We have a bad record (original sin and personal sins) and a bad heart (corrupt nature) in the first Adam. We have been justified (the bad record erased) and made righteous (a new nature which is a righteous seed) in the second Adam. Paul begins to show the parallel here in Romans 5:12, with the beginning “Therefore, just as….” He then stops to prove original sin before continuing. Being born under the reign of death means that you have sinned, in this case, in Adam, before you were ever born. Robert, since the whole intention of Paul, at the outset of this passage, is to show the parallel between the two Adams in the constitution and being of man, your attempt to sever the relationship with the first Adam necessarily severs the relationship with the second Adam. I don’t think that you want to do that. I believe that this constitution of mankind is the best argument for limited atonement. Christ died for only those that were in Him, the second Adam, those chosen in Him before the foundation of the world and that is why there is no universal atonement.

                Charley

                  Robert

                  Charley,

                  “Regarding your response to Bruce: I believe that scripture is clear that we are not created independently as each of the angels.”

                  I disagree, I believe every human person is created independently (i.e. we each have an individual soul that was created by God, it is not an eternally existing soul, and we do not all have the same identical soul, this partly explains why different people have different giftedness).

                  “Fleshly mankind was created and constituted in the first Adam; spiritual mankind was created and constituted in the second Adam, Jesus Christ.”

                  Where in the Bible does it say any of this about people being “constituted” in Adam or “constituted” in Jesus???

                  As I said to Bruce in the earlier post, Augustine got it wrong on Romans 5:12 (He interpreted as “in Adam all sinned” based on Latin translations of the Bible rather than the correct “because all sinned”). Apparently you have swallowed Augustine’s error hook, line and sinker!

                  “Therefore, God looks to the two Adams to see what we have done and what we have become.”

                  No, the Bible says that God judges each individual person individually for what they have done. This judgment is not based on either Adam or Jesus. We cannot blame Adam for our own sins.

                  “We have a bad record (original sin and personal sins) and a bad heart (corrupt nature) in the first Adam.”

                  True, we start in a sinful condition (i.e. we are spiritually dead separated from God and without hope in the world prior to our conversion), but then God wants to see what we have done once he has delivered us from our sinful condition (cf. the parable of the talents where each is judged on what they did with what they had).

                  “We have been justified (the bad record erased) and made righteous (a new nature which is a righteous seed) in the second Adam.”

                  It is true that we are justified in Christ, but even then the Bible speaks of believers having their works judged. There is this thing called “sanctification”!

                  “Paul begins to show the parallel here in Romans 5:12, with the beginning “Therefore, just as….” He then stops to prove original sin before continuing.”

                  Paul’s point in contrasting Adam and Jesus is to argue that while Adam brought sin into the world, Jesus is the one who brings life and justification through his work on the cross. Or put another way: the grace of God through Christ overcomes the sin and death brought by Adam.

                  “Being born under the reign of death means that you have sinned, in this case, in Adam, before you were ever born.”

                  No, that is not at all what the phrase (being under the reign of death) means. Paul says nothing about us sinning “in Adam before you were ever born.” Paul personifies Death in that passage and says “Death” was ”reigning” from the time Adam sinned (the point being that Jesus brings spiritual life where there was only spiritual death caused by sin). The verse says nothing about us sinning “in Adam”, that is read into the Bible by reformed types like yourself. It is not in the Bible, it is an Augustinian invention rejected by the Eastern Orthodox and others knowledgeable about Augustine’s error.

                  “Robert, since the whole intention of Paul, at the outset of this passage, is to show the parallel between the two Adams in the constitution and being of man,”

                  No, Paul is not talking about the “constitution and being of man” at all in this passage. That is not even on his radar.

                  The intention of Paul is to contrast Adam who brought sin and death to man and Jesus who brings life and justification for those who believe.

                  “your attempt to sever the relationship with the first Adam necessarily severs the relationship with the second Adam.”

                  Again, you assume reformed categories that I reject. You are reading in something into the passage that is not there while missing what is there: the contrast between Adam and Jesus when it comes to which each brought to mankind (one brought sin and death and the other brought life and justification to those who believe).

                  “I believe that this constitution of mankind is the best argument for limited atonement.”

                  That is a really bizarre argument and makes no sense at all. Because the passage says nothing about the “constitution of mankind” nor does it say anything about the extent of the atonement (whom did Jesus die for). Rather than going by a contrived argument why don’t you go by what scripture explicitly and clearly presents: that Jesus died for the whole world?

                  “Christ died for only those that were in Him, the second Adam, those chosen in Him before the foundation of the world and that is why there is no universal atonement.”

                  Instead of relying on a strange argument for limited atonement, you ought to instead base your conclusions on what scripture reveals: that Jesus died for the whole world.

                  Robert

                    Charles D. Blew

                    Robert,

                    Your approach to scripture is filled with human tradition. Remember, the Lord says that His ways are not our ways and His thoughts are above our thoughts. That is why the Holy Spirit must guide us in the Word. You must reread carefully Romans 5:12-14 where Paul is proving his statement that all sinned in Adam. His “all sinned” in Adam is exactly parallel language with 2 Corinthians 5:14, “one died for all, therefore all died.” This language is parallel because Adam and Christ are the two heads of mankind as shown in the language of 1 Corinthians 15:45-50, where they are called the first Adam and the last Adam and the first man and the second man. Now this language pretty well excludes all the rest of us because if you have the first and last who are also the first and second, then that pretty well excludes the rest of us in making a critical impact on human history. Our eternal state will depend upon which Adam we are in. You need to come out of your human traditions and begin to think biblically. I would suggest that you purchase Robert Haldane’s commentary (an 18th century Scot) on Romans for a biblical understanding of Romans 5.

                    Charley

                    Norm Miller

                    Charley:
                    We know of no one from the ‘Traditionalist’ position who believes that anyone comes to faith in Christ on his own. We surely embrace the working of the Spirit in conviction and wooing. If I understand Calvinists, however, if the Spirit ‘taps anyone on his spiritual shoulder,’ so-to-speak, then that someone will then be saved (irresistable grace). Whereas we affirm the initial work of the Spirit, we dis-affirm that such a work is overpowering of a person’s will to resist it. So, to be clear, what some of us have called “grace enablement” is a reality, we believe that such a work may be countered by an “otherwise” or “contrary choice.”
                    This is the rub.

                    Charles D. Blew

                    Norm,

                    If the Holy Spirit doesn’t overpower your natural will to resist, you will be lost forever. New Covenant language, “Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put My spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances.” I don’t find any reference to man’s free will to resist in this passage. This language is all about what the Lord is going to do. He will not share His glory with another.

                    Charley

                    Norm Miller

                    Context is everything when interpreting Scripture.
                    In your system, the command to repent is meaningless.

                    Charles D. Blew

                    Norm,

                    I agree that context is everything when interpreting scripture. I assure you that in “my system”, which is the serious pursuit of the meaning of scripture as revealed by the Holy Spirit rather than a humanistic reaction to the written Word, the command to repent is not meaningless. Any command in the Lord’s word must be taken seriously. I think that I can truthfully say that as an Arminian/Semi-Pelagian, you automatically infer that a command from God can be obeyed by you, independent of His grace; otherwise He would not give it. But I think by this inference, which is driven by human tradition, you ignore why law (commands) is given. The Bible is clear that the law was added because of transgressions and through the law comes the knowledge of sin. Paul says that he would not have come to know sin except through the law. So the law is primarily given to show you that you cannot keep the law and, therefore, to drive you to a Savior. You must shake this desire to infer obedience by the giving of the law. You musn’t react to the law as the Jews did in Exodus when they said, “All the words which the Lord has spoken we will do!” Rather, they should have recognized, by the law, the sin in their hearts and said, as Paul in Romans 7, “Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?” Remember, for if a law had been given which was able to impart life, then righteousness would indeed have been based on law.

                    As far as repentance goes, it can only be truly achieved when granted by the Lord (Acts 5 and 2 Timothy 2).

                    Charley

                    Norm Miller

                    The ability to repent may be given, but the choice to repent is not up to God. It is incredibly disingenuous of God to call, even command all to repent, but say under his breath (but not all of you can). Calvin’s god is not my God.

                    Norm Miller

                    Charley’s unpublished response to my comment insinuated I am lost and going to hell. We cannot/will not tolerate such verbiage at this blog.

                    Norm Miller

                    Calvin states that God ordained people to go to hell, and that he takes pleasure in doing so. That is not the God I worship.

                    Norm Miller

                    “Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, each according to his conduct,” declares the Lord God. “Repent and turn away from all your transgressions, so that iniquity may not become a stumbling block to you. Cast away from you all your transgressions which you have committed and make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit! For why will you die, O house of Israel? 32 For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone who dies,” declares the Lord God. “Therefore, repent and live” Eze. 18.30-32.

                  wingedfooted1

                  “That is why the Holy Spirit must guide us in the Word.”

                  “You need to come out of your ‘human’ traditions and begin to think biblically. I would suggest that you purchase ‘Robert Haldane’s’ commentary (an 18th century Scot) on Romans for a biblical understanding of Romans 5.”

                  Ironic.

        Carl Peterson

        Robert,

        Thanks for your well thought out response. Paul asked many of the questions I have about your post. I was thinking of the “none righteouss” passage more than anything else. How are all unrighteouss and yet some are not guilty of sin?

        Also i do not think I said that you stated that there were some who were not sinners. I think I said that you believe that there are some who had not commited acts of sin. If this is the case then are there some who die not guilty? If so then why are these ever deserving of any kind of punishment?

        I also find it strange that patriarchal blessing was not tied to salvation. It seems salvation was tied to Israel. Some foreigners became jews and thus were saved (Rahab, Ruth). In the Pentateuch there are detailed directions for allowing foreigners to become a part of the covenant community. Also God clearly is still punishing Ishmael and Esau and chose to do so before they did anything wrong. Before they had committed no acts of sin. So god is punishing them when they are not guilty (according to your theology). This sounds very strange to me. Why does God punish Ishmael and Esau for something they had no control over at all. Why is there punishment without guilt? This of course brings up why every man is punished by God with a sin nature when man is not guilty (because he has committed no sinful acts). This really sounds strange to me. God only punishes Adam after he eats the fruit. The curses only come after the fall and not before.

        Regarding babies, I believe in the salvation of infants who die in infancy but not because of an age of accountability. I will have to look into Romans 7 more and get back with you if I can. One of the last things you said is intriguing though. So not all are dead in sin. Only the guilty are dead. So many passages regarding salvation (Col 2, Eph 2,) have nothing really to do with babies. They have no need to accept Christ even if it is possible. If they are not dead in sin then why do they need to become alive in Christ? Do they?

        CARL

          Carl Peterson

          I think I meant Doug here sorry.

          Doug,

          Doesn’t imputation usually describe an alien thing becoming reckoned as ours. For example the Sin of Adam was imputed to us or the righteousness of Christ was imputed to us. I have not heard imputed used for our own sins since they would not need to be reckoned to us since they are ours already.

          Also since we had nothing to do with Christ’s righteousness, can that be imputed to us? Can I receive a nont guilty vedict from Christ and His righteousness but not receive sin from another? If so then how do these verses work?

          Romans 5:18-19
          “Consequently, just as one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people, so also one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people. 19 For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.”

          Notice one sin condemned all people. They were made guilty by one sin. I do not think one could just say that a person received a sin nature and not guilty if they were condemned.

          CARL

            Doug Sayers

            Carl, I hear you and this is where we must slow down and be precise. Sometimes we all can be a slip of the tongue or careless word away from a false teaching/interpretation.

            First, note that the word for impute/reckoned is not used in Romans 5, neither is the word guilt. Thus to conclude that Adam’s *guilt* is imputed to his posterity would be an inference, not an explicit teaching. Every child of Adam suffers the *consequences* of his sin but not the actual guilt. Again, how can someone be found guilty of a sin committed, by someone else, before they existed? How could the law be in effect in our lives before we are born. (Rom 4:15; 5:13) Remember, Jesus chose voluntarily to be our Scapegoat. I would need to see a very explicit biblical text before I could believe such a bizarre notion about Divine justice. Inferences won’t get the job done at such a crucial point.

            No doubt we agree that believers receive the imputation of Christ’s (alien) righteousness, via faith,and that is our free ticket to heaven. Rom 4

            I think it makes more biblical sense to understand the “condemnation” in Rom 5 to be speaking of the consequence of physical death. Indeed, everyone dies, even believers. We don’t expect to be delivered from the curse of death in this life but we do hope to be delivered from eternal destruction, that is the second death.

            Noteworthy here is Ps 32:2: “Blessed is the man to whom the Lord does not impute iniquity.” This is what happens to all believers as they are justified by faith. Again, I would assert that when God imputes the guilt of our own sin to our own account we become dead in sin. (Like Adam, the day he ate, and Paul, when sin was revived by the law and he “died.”) Rom 7

            When God forgives us we are quickened/made alive to new life in Christ, as explained in Col 2:13-14:

            “And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, 14 having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.”

            Give it some thought, brother. I am more at peace with the entire Bible, now, than I ever was as a Calvinist.

            Doug

      Robert

      Carl,

      Baptists hold to a doctrine of age of accountability.

      And yet you ask:
      “Is their [there] an age of accountability? Is that explicitly taught or inferred in scripture?”

      Carl are you a Baptist or not?

      And if not why are you posting here on an ostensibly Baptist blog?

      Robert

        Carl Peterson

        Robert,

        Never said I was Baptist. Used to be but changed while I was at SWBTS. I am here because I used to be Baptist and have many family and friends who are still Baptist. Many of my friends are students and professors at many of the SBC seminaries. I see no where in the commenting guidlelines that state I have to be Baptist and have been upfront from the beginning that I was not a Baptist anymore. I think the SBC is and has been great. I fear that the fighting between Traditionals and Calvinists will reduce the SBCs presence it has in the Christian community. I think the SBC has long been strong because it has been able to have Calvinists, Arminians, and traditionals in one denomination. I fear it will not be long before their will be major negative changes in the SBC.

        I also like to discuss things (especially theology). I do not like to just argue (like some) but I am of course not perfect.

        I hope that helps.

        CARL

        Paul Abeyta

        Robert,

        Not all baptists hold to an age of accountability I would think. Is there something in the BF&M 2000 which makes you come to this conclusion?

        Paul

    Johnathan Pritchett

    What Doug said. Well done. :)

    Michael Vaughan

    Doug, I intend to answer your post, but not tonight.

    Michael Vaughan

    Doug, you said, “You have opened the most important door in all these discussions but you have not walked in.” I had hoped to convince the editors here to let me post a two part reply as a guest article, the first being a general call to civility and a dispelling of myths about Calvinists, and the second a direct response to your question, but they aren’t interested. As this article is already falling far down the pages of SBC Today, I thought it’d be best to go ahead and get a reply up to you, rather than continue to try to edit and tweak it.

    I want to make very clear at the outset that I do not come to this debate accusing Traditionalists of being dishonest, or ignorant, or poor scholars. There are people on both sides of this that will approach the text with humility, with honesty, with scholarship, and walk away with two very different interpretations.

    Also, if you’re interested in hearing why I personally believe what I do, fine. If you want to hear sound and well-written arguments in favor of these beliefs, you would be much better served by reading R.C. Sproul’s “Chosen by God,” or the Bethlehem Baptist Elders’ Statement “What We Believe About the Five Points of Calvinism,” or Jonathan Edwards’ “Freedom of the Will.”

    That said, here we go:

    Sin, Adam’s and Ours
    Romans 5:
    Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned–for sin indeed was was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come.
    But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. And the free gift is not like the result of that one man’s sin. For the judgement following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification. For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.
    Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteouness leads to justification and life for all men. For as by the one man’s obedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.

    When I read the above, scripture seems clear to me that “many died through one man’s trespass.” The question that follows is, do the many die “through,” as in, “as a direct result of,” or do many die “through,” as in “by their own hand and by their own sin because they follow in his pattern?” This is the murky part that we disagree on. I think the answer can be found in the next bit: “so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men…so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.” Jesus’ obedience, his alien righteouness, is imputed to us, and the passage links this imputation with Adam’s sin.
    Reading backwards, if we are alive as a direct result of Jesus’ actions of obedience, then we are dead as a direct result of Adam’s action of disobedience. If Paul intends a strict parallel, and his intention was that instead of being receiving Adam’s imputed guilt, we follow in Adam’s pattern and thereby die by our own actions, then it would be implied that instead of receiving Christ’s imputed righteousness, we are made righteous when we follow in Jesus’ pattern. That conclusion is obviously heretical, so the only point of contention would be whether the parallel exists in a strict form. I think it does; Traditionalists might disagree.
    This is the idea of Adam being our federal head: in him we died (imputed guilt), but in Christ we live (imputed righteouness). We are guilty, and not just prone to sin, because of Adam.
    (Also, I find the Traditionalist position to suffer from the same supposed shortcomings of Reformed theology when it comes to imputed guilt. If it’s not okay for God to judge men based on Adam’s actions, why is it okay for him to cause a sin nature to be passed to us from him? Is it really that different, when it comes down to it? I think Jonathan Edward’s Freedom of the Will is an excellent philosophical approach to God as the first-cause mover behind all other events in the universe, and I find his arguments hard to overcome. Before you leap to conclusions, I would urge you to read his book.)

    The Will of Man
    Romans 3
    As it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.”

    We all agree that no one is righteous, but Reformed folks take it a step farther and say that our sin has so warped our will that we do not choose God. A lot of ink has been spilled on this topic, but I think of lot of argument could be saved by avoiding the word “cannot.” A sinner, under Calvinism, can choose God, but they do not because their will is warped. Jonathan Edwards argues (I think very effectively) that to speak of human will apart from human action is dishonest. If a human wills something within their power, they will accomplish it. There are competing wills involved, but ultimately the most valued will wins out. In this case, our will is deranged by sin, and we do not seek after God. We are dead in our sin, and dead men have no will for God–we’re dead! If “no one seeks after God,” how in the world can we come to him in faith of our own accord? Left in our deadness, we all go to hell. That is our will. We have free choice, and because of our free choice, we choose hell, every single time. (Conversely, Reformed folks would deny that anyone that sought after God wasn’t elect. The seeking implies election. There will not be a single person that stands before God and says, “I wanted to follow you, but I just wasn’t elect. I read my Bible and went to church, but you just didn’t see fit to save me.” People that are elect might worry about being elect, but people who are not elect will never worry about being elect.)

    Made Alive for Good Works Prepared Beforehand
    Ephesians 2
    And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world…carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us live together with Christ–by grace you have been saved–and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

    Again, we see here that we “were dead.” We see that we were “carrying out the desires of the body and the mind,” following our free will to choose evil freely. We see that God, “being rich in mercy” made us “alive” “by grace.” “By grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing.” What’s more, the direct antecedent to “not your own doing” is “faith.” This salvation is the gift of God, and you can see that Christians were created with a destiny for doing specific good works according to God’s plan.

    A Distinct People
    John 17
    “…since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him…I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know everything that you have given me is from you. For I have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you…I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours. All mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them.”

    The Father has a people for his own possession, and he is giving them to his Son. All those whom the Father gave the Son have been saved. The Father gave them to the Son, and therefore they believe in the Son. I can’t make a claim that this is a slam dunk for a Reformed position, but interpreted in the light of election it takes on a different meaning.

    Effectual Call
    Romans 8:
    For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

    This goes along with my last bullet point. We saw in Ephesians that God created us with specific good works to do and made us alive through mercy. We can see something of the order of salvation here: foreknowledge -> predestination to conformity -> calling -> justified -> glorified. So those he calls, he glorifies. Does he call all? Those he calls he justifies. Clearly, that’s not everyone. So, working backwards, those whom he will not glorify are not justified, those whom he will not justify are not called, those whom are not called are not predestined, and those whom are not predestined are not foreknown.
    And what is foreknowledge? Calvinists say that foreknowledge is active. If foreknowledge is a passive knowledge, then it would follow that God foreknows who will choose him, so he destines them to conform to the image of his Son. That’s not an unreasonable interpretation, but I disagree with it because of Romans 9.

    God’s Choosing
    Romans 9
    For this is what the promise said: bout this time next year I will return, and Sarah shall have a son. And not only so, but also when Rebekah had conceived children by one man, our forefather Isaac, though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad–in order that God’s purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls–she was told, The older will serve the younger. As it is written, Jacob I loved but Esau I hated.
    What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means! For he says to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion. So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. For the scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills.
    You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?” But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory–even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles?

    This was the hardest passage for me to reconcile with my Traditional beliefs before I became Reformed. I didn’t really know what to do with it. Now I do. Paul lays out very clearly that before they were born and “had done nothing either good or bad…not because of works but because of him who calls” God chose Jacob over Esau. He does it again and again throughout scripture, calling a people to be his covenant people out from among the pagans. And I don’t think you can shrug it off and say it doesn’t apply to salvation–in the OT, being part of the covenant people = salvation. Esau had no part in Israel; that was God’s sovereign choice. And notice, “so that God’s purpose of election might continue” and “not because of works but because of him who calls.” It’s his choice to save some. Paul anticipates the argument and spends the next several paragraphs telling us not to question God when he does something that we don’t understand, or that might seem “monstrous” as some of the posters here have put it. We ask, “how can he find fault?” We complain that if the Calvinists are right, how can we be held responsible for our actions, since we lack “choice.” “Who are you, o man?” Indeed, this clenched it for me. I argued and I argued and I argued every time I read this, but I had to submit to scripture.

    Some Practical Points and Assorted Tidbits
    EVANGELISM: So what do we do with election? I think the Bethlehem Elders’ Statement puts it best when it says that election is something best understood on this side of salvation. When I think back to my salvation, I can recognize God’s hand at work–I wasn’t seeking God, I had no love for God, and yet in an instant, in a moment, he revealed himself to me in his word and called me to himself. That was election, and no good of my own.
    When we speak to unbelievers, we have no idea who is elect and who is not. But we know that God has promised to save some. We pray, knowing that the one that we pray to is the one who will call people to himself (why would we pray for someone’s salvation if we didn’t think God would intervene?) and we share the Gospel with all. The invitation is to all. Those who respond do so because God has elected to save them, plucking them from their desperate run towards hell and setting them out of harm’s way. For all intents and purposes, a Calvinist and a Traditionalist should look identical when it comes to evangelism.

    CHILDREN: This is a hard one. I find nothing in scripture that convinces me of any particular position, and so I hold none. I’ve lost a child through miscarriage; I’m not coming to this topic lightly. Many Reformed folks that I know hold to a hybrid position of age of accountability and imputed guilt. Perhaps God does not hold infants responsible for their imputed guilt until they come of age, and so Christ’s righteousness is imputed to them if they die in infancy. I like this idea. It’s comforting. But I can’t stake a claim on any particular position because I can’t find anything specific in scripture. I can know that God is good, and I trust him and I trust that his way is best. That’s enough for me for now.

      Norm Miller

      Michael: I mentioned that SBC Voices would be far more interested in your article than we would be. The majority of the readership at Voices is Calvinism-sympatico. That is not the case, here. NM

Lydia

“Can we agree on this?”

Nope. One has to read scripture through the determinist god filter to arrive at Calvinism. Why would Yahweh create earth/humans with the intent of purposely destroying some of it? That is how the monster god of Calvin glorifies himself.

Why would Yahweh randomly choose some for destruction/eternal life before Adam sinned or the person was even born? You call that grace. I call it a culture of death along the lines of Islam, to be frank about it.

I have no ill will toward you personally. Just what you support/teach and will always disagree with it publicly. I cannot “unify” with that culture of death doctrine.

And yes, I already know “I don’t really understand it”. Thanks, heard that one for a while now. :o)

Jordan

Lydia,
Why would Yahweh create entire people groups in the Promised Land with the intent of purposely destroying them at the hands of the Israelites?
You ask why would Yahweh randomly choose some for destruction/eternal life and Romans 9 gives the answer. To display His glory on objects of mercy. I know you don’t hold to the Calvinist view, but you have to acknowledge that IF God chose to work that way, He would be justified, glorified and still good. That’s what Paul said…IF God did this… then this. The point is, God could have worked that way and still been a fully good, just and righteous God.

Michael Vaughan

Lydia,
I wasn’t asking if we could agree on Calvinism, merely if you could agree that my Calvinism has nothing to do with John Calvin the man.

So are you for the expulsion of Calvinist Southern Baptists from the convention? What would you propose?

Lydia

“I wasn’t asking if we could agree on Calvinism, merely if you could agree that my Calvinism has nothing to do with John Calvin the man.”

You cannot be serious? Only if I agree to live in complete cognitive dissonance 24/7. Do you read history? There is a pattern and theme with Calvinism to today. And it is not pretty.

:Lydia

“Why would Yahweh create entire people groups in the Promised Land with the intent of purposely destroying them at the hands of the Israelites?”

I do not agree that He did. I read the OT very differently than you do. I read it understanding there is a very pagan backdrop. We are talking people who not only sacrificed animals but children!

“You ask why would Yahweh randomly choose some for destruction/eternal life and Romans 9 gives the answer. To display His glory on objects of mercy. I know you don’t hold to the Calvinist view, but you have to acknowledge that IF God chose to work that way, He would be justified, glorified and still good. That’s what Paul said…IF God did this… then this. The point is, God could have worked that way and still been a fully good, just and righteous God.”

Well, I don’t agree that is what Paul was referring to and I do not read Romans the way you do. And I cannot acknowledge that God chose to work that way “randomly”. I think the idea blasphemes a God of HESED and sounds more like Allah.

Lydia

“So are you for the expulsion of Calvinist Southern Baptists from the convention? What would you propose?”

here we go. Jump to conclusions much? I am a libertarian and believe you have as much right there as I do. I highly value religious liberty unlike the Calvinist paradigm throughout its history which is based on much authoritarianism and a caste system Christianity.

However, let us discuss theology in the public square including church. Education is good. Indoctrination bad. The only thing I am seeing in the SBC are those trying to shut down discussion and play “unity” when there really isn’t unity.

The problem with my view is it entails “choice”. And that is not a good word for the Calvinist construct. It does not fit well. :o)

    Michael Vaughan

    Lydia, I never accused you of wanting to expel Calvinists. I was asking what you would propose. If you see that the God I worship as a “monster,” what would you want to see happen within the SBC? I’m genuinely asking you a question; I’m not accusing you of anything. Can we work together? Can NAMB and the IMB continue to plant a mixture of churches?

    As to your second post, again, I came to my Reformed belief through scripture, not through John Calvin. I’ve never touched the Institutes. I know little about the man. Just because he has become associated with this doctrine doesn’t mean that my faith in that doctrine rests on him. Continuing to bring up Calvin as an argument against Calvinism is a theological non-starter.

    You brought up a lot of issues that I’m not really clear on. What do you mean by a “caste system Christianity?” Also, what’s wrong with “choice” in the Calvinist system?

      Robert

      Lydia commented about choice:

      “The problem with my view is it entails “choice”. And that is not a good word for the Calvinist construct. It does not fit well. :o)”

      Carl responded:

      “Also, what’s wrong with “choice” in the Calvinist system?”

      I think we have been through this before here.

      People can only have genuine choices (where they could choose this or that, and the choice is up to them) *if* everything has not been pre-ordained.

      If instead everything (including our actions of making a choice) are ordained by God before we make these choices, then we *never ever* *have* a choice.

      Take my typing this post as a mundane example. If I have a choice, then I could choose to write and submit this post or choose not to write and submit this post. If I have choices regarding the words, then I chose the words and I also could have chosen other words as well to express what I intended to say.

      But if all is ordained by God (as the Westminster confession puts it: “God ordaineth whatsoever comes to pass”) then I do not have these choices.

      If God ordained that I not write this post then it was impossible for me to have chosen to do so. If God ordained that I write this post then it was impossible for me not to have chosen to do so. And this would apply to the individual words as well.

      What many Calvinists miss is that they claim that God ordains all events without exception, and yet they then talk and think and act as if we actually have choices (when in fact we never ever have a choice if all is ordained, because all being ordained would include the actions of choice that we make as well as every other event that occurs).

      So the answer to your question: “what’s wrong with “choice” in the Calvinist system” is that if Calvinism is true then:

      we never ever have a choice!!!!!

      And THAT is a problem because we have and make choices all the time. And to claim that we have these choices when we never do, makes the whole thing just one big sham where God becomes like a puppet master who pulls our strings so that we only and always do what he controls us to do. Nobody (including Calvinists) lives that way because it is not reality. In reality we sometimes do have and make our own choices. We all know this and live this way, but the Calvinist system makes Calvinists in denial of this universal reality.

      But it gets worse, because Calvinists simultaneously play semantic word games when they talk about freedom, choices, etc. when these things cannot exist if all is ordained. When directly confronted on this game they are playing they make it even worse claiming that “compatibilism is true” (i.e. all events are predetermined by God and yet at the same time we are acting freely). This also means they mean something completely different by the words “choice” and “freedom” and “freewill” then non-Calvinists do. For non-Calvinists the ordinary understanding of “choice” is that you really can choose to do this or that. For the Calvinist we are supposedly acting freely though our every action is predetermined.

      Robert

Lydia

“I was asking what you would propose. If you see that the God I worship as a “monster,” what would you want to see happen within the SBC? I’m genuinely asking you a question; I’m not accusing you of anything. Can we work together? Can NAMB and the IMB continue to plant a mixture of churches?”

Here is my answer which I thought you would catch where I am coming from:

However, let us discuss theology in the public square including church. Education is good. Indoctrination bad.

“As to your second post, again, I came to my Reformed belief through scripture, not through John Calvin. I’ve never touched the Institutes. I know little about the man. Just because he has become associated with this doctrine doesn’t mean that my faith in that doctrine rests on him. Continuing to bring up Calvin as an argument against Calvinism is a theological non-starter.”

I would read up on him and history of the Reformation/ It was more about political power than doctrine although some good things came from it, of course. Not freedom to be an Anabaptist, though, sadly. And ask yourself how what one believes can have nothing to do with their behavior. I find it odd people think that way. As in “Yes Calvin did evil things but his doctrine is correct”. Huh? Where was his Holy Spirit to convict him not to punish/burn/torture people for disagreeing with his doctrine? Sorry, forgot “he was a man of his time” and the Holy Spirit did not convict men of their time.

As to choice: Perhaps you are not a Calvinist?

    Michael Vaughan

    I’m still not catching your meaning on what you would have happen in the SBC. Could you spell out our for me? I’ve already been at work 14 hours, so I may be a little slow.

    As to choice, I firmly believe in choice as a Calvinist. Jonathan Edwards has a great book called Freedom of the Will. It took me a while to parse the language, but it’s a huge help in wrestling with these things.

    As to Calvin: I took a course in Church History, and I’ve read MacCulloh’s masterful “The Reformation,” but the point that I keep trying to make is that I don’t derive my theology from John Calvin. My theology doesn’t tell me to run a state church, or to execute heretics, or the rest of the things that you keep linking to Calvinism. I make no excuses about his behavior. I make no claims to his theology or how they should have influenced his belief. (Although I will noted that Peter was an apostle, and at times a Judaizer, even AFTER Pentecost. A man can be a Christian and still make mistakes).

    The bottom line is this: I am Reformed because I find it in Scripture. My Reformed beliefs are completely unrelated to the life of John Calvin. In some ways I was Reformed before I knew it was a thing. I do not care what kind of man he was. Talk badly about him all you want–it doesn’t change a thing.

David Pauley

I am going through this chart and I do see one glaring error in the left column describing Calvinistic Baptists. In the row marked “Order of Salvation”, it says of Calvinistic Baptists, “People believe in Jesus because they are saved.” This is definitely a misrepresentation of the Reformed Order of Salvation. The Reformed Order of Salvation distinguishes between regeneration by the Holy Spirit and salvation as two distinct aspects of the work of redemption. The one (regeneration) produces faith (belief) resulting in salvation. The correct order is: (1) Regeneration (the Spirit awakens the individual, granting spiritual eyes to see and ears to hear the Gospel) which results in (2) faith/belief, which in turn, results in (3) salvation. In every correct Reformed order of salvation, faith always precedes and results in salvation and not the other way around. In the chart above it is (1) saved (2) belief, but the correct order is (1) regeneration, (2) believe, (3) faith. I hope the author makes this very critical correction.

    David Pauley

    Excuse me, quick correction to a typo in my second to the last sentence above, it should read that the order of salvation for the Reformed Baptist is “(1) regeneration, (2) believe, (3) salvation.”

David Pauley

Another point is a point of clarification, not so much correction. In the row labeled “election”, it says of those who would identify themselves as Calvinists believe that “non chosen people cannot and will not be saved.” The way this is phrased could be very misleading. The reason they cannot, according to Reformed theology is NOT because God won’t let them. Some people wrongly think that this is what Reformed Baptists think. This is actually untrue. The reason they cannot is because they refuse to come in of their will. God isn’t preventing them, they are preventing themselves of their own will by continuously and willfully rejecting the Gospel. So, the “cannot” of Reformed theology is NOT God not letting people in, but people of their own will not letting themselves go in by refusing Christ and the gospel. Thus, the “cannot” is because they “will not”. That’s a critical distinction that makes all the difference as to whether the Calvinistic position is or is not rightly understood.

Lisa

Interesting article which I knew would generate interesting conversation and by reading the comments I was proved right. Being raised in the “traditional SBC” (I don’t like those two words together because it is not a true representation) for more than 40 years and having had the Holy Spirit show me in scripture the truth of the reformed view I can honestly say that I am grateful having been taught both views because with a correct understanding of my salvation, I have a deeper love for Christ.

Lydia

“I’m still not catching your meaning on what you would have happen in the SBC. Could you spell out our for me?”

It won’t happen but it would be the grown up thing for churches to have a serious discussion on the Character of God. Is God revealed in Jesus Christ or is He more like the entitiy described by Calvin, Puritans, etc. That is where it starts, IMO. Our view of God. If Jesus Christ is the representation of God then Calvinists have a problem. That is why I think there is more indoctrination than anything else in the Calvinist movement. And why it resurges and dies down, historically. I do see the irony that the Puritans, for the most part, became Unitarians. The Presbyterians, for a large part, went the social justice route and so on. Even the SBC started turning away from it after they lost the civil war.

    Michael Vaughan

    Lydia,
    I don’t see your suggestion as any great novelty. We as a church have discussions about God and his character every week in our small groups, and you can’t escape discussing God’s character in the weekly sermon.

    Or do you mean inter-church discussion, to which my response would be “how?” and “to what end?” Are you suggesting conference-style events similar to John 3:16? Only a small percentage could attend. And we already had the task force from last year. If your aim would be to have smaller conclaves of local churches around the country meet to discuss these issues, I’m not sure that anything would come of it. Calvinists, in general, have thought long and hard about the implications of their theology. I don’t expect that you would see Calvinists becoming Traditionalists in droves because of such a meeting, nor would I expect the opposite. I think that, in the end, we would arrive at the same place that we are now, agreeing to disagree within our own autonomous churches.

    Or did you have something else in mind?

Alex Miller

Great work on this chart! While perhaps some find it oversimplified, and I would for sure delve deeper than this chart when wanting to know finer details from either side’s perspective, it certainly helps me with remembering the general points.

Robert

I can’t believe that I have been hoodwinked again! I tend to trust professing Christians assuming that when they are posting on internet discussions they have good intentions.

But I just realized who Carl Peterson is!

I had forgotten and just assumed he was a Calvinist who was posting here to defend his Calvinism and promote Calvinism within the SBC.

But that is not who Carl Peterson is.

Carl Peterson is a guy who went to a Baptist seminary and for many years was a Baptist and then completely rejected Baptist beliefs and is now Calvinist/“Reformed”.

And a good question to ask would be:

why is a former Baptist someone who completely and knowingly rejects our Baptist beliefs posting here?

Answer = He is an evangelist for Calvinism and Reformed theology!

He wants to convert Baptists here to his Reformed Calvinistic beliefs. And though his points and arguments have been dealt with here before. He has repeatedly posted here pretending to be interested in genuine dialogue. Yet he questions the same things over and over (e.g. his supposedly innocent questions about the age of accountability: when in fact he knows that Baptists hold to this). His questions are not coming from say, someone who is still thinking things through, instead they come from someone who has already made his mind up *against Baptist beliefs*, already *rejected Baptist beliefs*, and already accepted non-Baptist beliefs. This is no neutral person just having a conversation asking sincere questions.
This reminds me of the guy who professes to be Christian for many years, knowingly and completely rejects Christianity and becomes a committed atheist who then shows up at the weekly Bible study just to engage in “genuine dialogue”. Are you kidding? He knows exactly what he believes, and he rejects Christianity and he wants others to follow his example. Only a very committed evangelist for atheism would do this kind of thing. Likewise, only a very committed evangelist for Calvinism would . . . . .

Robert

Debbie Kaufman

Robert: Are you Southern Baptist? Because there is not just one explicit doctrine for age of accountability. I am Southern Baptist and I ask you where in scripture is there specifically an age of accountability.

    Robert

    Hello Debbie,

    I am a Baptist and have held Baptist distinctives for many years (I am biased I admit: I actually believe and teach and practice that Baptist theology and beliefs and practices are the best available and closest to what scripture properly interpreted presents).

    Regarding “age of accountability that is a standard Baptist belief. I forgot who wrote about it here in the past (Norm perhaps you remember and can post the link?) but someone wrote about it here in the past and it was discussed there. So I will not reinvent the wheel, I suggest those like yourself who are asking about it should see what has already been said about it.

    I am surprised that you say you are a Baptist and yet you seem to reject the age of accountability belief. Have you rejected the standard verses offered by Baptists in support of an age of accountability? Have you allowed reformed theology to impact your thinking on this issue? This is a genuine difference between Reformed theology and Baptist theology, we affirm an age of accountability while the Reformed tend not to.

    Robert

Lydia

“I don’t see your suggestion as any great novelty. We as a church have discussions about God and his character every week in our small groups, and you can’t escape discussing God’s character in the weekly sermon. ”

Micheal, I just wrote you a long comment explanation (I know, snore) but because my “maths” seem to be wrong (I can subtract!) the whole thing was lost. ARGH!!! So time is short for me right now but let me say this: What you describe above are not really “discussions”. They are set venues that are more “teaching” with limited interaction. It is the interaction I am focused on.. I am thinking more free flow facilitation which is messy, cringeworthy and unconventional and one best check their ego at the door and bit their tongue quite a bit to engage. But worth it!

Just think if there had been such discussions in Geneva and Zurich with Ana Baptists how different things might have been.

    Michael Vaughan

    Lydia, how’s this for irony: my response to your post was eaten by the website.

    The small groups in my church are led by lay leaders; we trade places each quarter. The format is literally along the lines of, “What does this passage tell us about God and his character? What does it tell us about Jesus? What does it tell us about man? Etc… My wife and I follow the same format in our home study. So we’re definitely discussing these things and not merely hearing a lecture. Plenty of opportunity for questions and even debate.

    If I’m understanding your intent correctly, you’re advocating for local discussions between pastors/elders/deacons regarding their soteriology? (I assume pastors, because to invite the general public would be unwieldy for a real discussion–there are already enough churches in my area that just the pastors would fill a small auditorium!). My pastor should invite the local pastors to a sit-down discussion about Calvinism, probably in manageable chunks, and they in turn would have to meet with others in manageable chunks, so that we’re talking about each individual meeting a half a dozen times with half a dozen other individuals each time until everyone has met with everyone else?

    I’m not against the idea in principle, but from a practical standpoint I’m just not sure. It’s a lot of people, even if you limit it to just the senior pastor of each church. I don’t know that there would be a lot of buy-in from the local pastors (maybe I’d be wrong), and it would eat up a lot of time and energy from pastors that are trying to shepherd their own (autonomous) flocks, preparing for sermons, and in some cases working bi-vocationally. I don’t know what practical outcome would come from it–I doubt anyone would change their mind on the issues, though I would certainly hope that putting faces to these doctrines would change the tone of the discussion. And it also begs the question about whether to discuss other points of distinction, like where pastors fall on the pre-/a-/post-mil continuum, or where they stand on public policy issues like our relationship with modern Israel, or any number of other potential disagreements between our churches.

    What are your thoughts, and please clarify for me if I’m misunderstanding what you’re advocating for? I’ve been awake for about 40 hours now, so if I was slow last night, I’m barely crawling along at this point.

    (9 x four! It’s like the site is *trying* to lose my post!)

Lydia

“Robert: Are you Southern Baptist? Because there is not just one explicit doctrine for age of accountability. I am Southern Baptist and I ask you where in scripture is there specifically an age of accountability”

I don’t recall Robert stating a specific age. But it also begs the question as to if and when we are accountable for what we believe/do. I realize in your view there really cannot be such a thing as “accountability” because you believe a person is elected before they were even born. What is there to be accountable for?

An interesting point to this discussion is how much longer people live today than they did in the 1st Century. How old do you think Mary might have been when the Angel visited her?

It seems the longer our life span the longer it takes us to mature into accountability. What we call a teen today would have been a man/woman in the 1st Century.:o) Now, much to my chagrin I am hearing 25 year olds labeled as kids. When 70 years ago, a 25 year old had stormed the beaches of Normandy, come home and started a family/job. (Sigh)

Then we have the issue of those mentally disabled. And so on.

I take it you are not padeo baptistic? That was the historical answer to imputed guilt.

(7-5=2)

Lydia

Micheal, Maybe we are not supposed to be having this convo? :o)

No, not the smart leader guys in the room. Not that at all. I am not even talking about a bible study on the front end. My longer post went into more detail but will try to keep it shorter.This is a pastor blog so my idea will not be popular. I am talking about “facilitation” only for interaction in small groups of about 20 or 30. What do we believe and why. What informs us. How do we live out what we believe, etc. People have to feel free to really interact. There are no dumb questions and no dumb answers. I believe our God meets us where we are just as He did with the Israelites who had become more like pagans than the light of the world they were supposed to be. So, He met them there and instituted His law which also included sacrifices. They were used to that part from being around pagans.

The goal is to get pews thinking, digging, praying, etc. without telling them what to think. I am talking about what it takes to become a more mature believer. People do not get there by being told what to believe. Christianity is a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. It is not about having correct doctrine in every area. (Gasp, I know). Conformity is not spiritual unity. And I fear that is what too often takes place at church.

I grew up SBC and we had more education in church back then. Training union. Oh the nostaligia! Bible drill young taught you the structure of scripture (and you could find stuff real fast!) but we graduated from there to a sort of simplified hermeneutics. We learned the genres, etc. We learned about Baptist distinctives such as Priesthood of believer, soul competency, No king but Jesus, etc. Drilled into our heads full of mush. We understood we were part of the priesthood and personally responsible and accountable for what we believed and how we lived that out. We were taught to “own” it. I think that is missing today. I see way too many people actually bragging about being sinners as if that makes them appear humble. It only scares me. :o)

I have done this in the past with several groups including teens and the results are incredible. But it is cringeworthy and you have to bite your tongue off. But the point is to get them thinking and digging through facilitation. Then they own it and become responsible for what they believe and why. It is not just what some guru told them to believe or what is truth. We both know people don’t read their bibles much as a past time. Just ask people in a safe open environment what their view of God is. You can get anything from the santa claus grandpa to the spy in the sky to the micromanager to a combo of the three. Rarely do you hear someone (church goers!) say, Jesus Christ is the exact representation of God.

If our churches need anything it is the pew causing havoc by asking too many questions and challenging what they are taught because they are studying too and owning this quest. We actually need more of it with a love and lightness to it because it is a glorious journey. But we have to get them to own it first. And if they “own” it that is not very Calvinistic. :o)

Charles D. Blew

SBC traditionalism is a laugher. The SBC, when founded in 1845 was primarily made up of Calvinists, reformed thinkers who believed in the Doctrines of Grace. It was hijacked in the 20th century by synergistic Arminians. So if we speak of the true SBC tradition, we need to go back to the root of the matter, which was Calvinist in the beginning. In fact, I have a copy of “The New Convention Norma Manual For Sunday School Workers” which was published by the Sunday School Board (predecessor of Lifeway) of the Southern Baptist Convention in Nashville, Tennessee. It was published in 1918 and, still, at that late date, the back of the manual contains doctrines which Baptist believe. One such section is labeled, “Doctrines Which We Hold in Common With Many Other Evangelical Christians.” This is followed by the statement, “And, in common with a large body of evangelical Christians nearly all Baptists believe what are usually termed the ‘doctrines of grace’. This is followed by a listing of those doctrines. So, the real SBC tradition is one of reformed thought or Calvinism.

It was also humorous to see the Hobbs/Rogers tradition. Since Calvinists are often vilified for following a man rather than the Bible, I found this term rather ironic.

    Rick Patrick

    Charles,
    Thanks for weighing in. I don’t think we’ve met online before. I’m not sure what you intended by saying Traditionalism is a “laugher.” Perhaps you believe Traditionalists are claiming ours is the *only* SBC tradition, a misconception we have endeavored to clear up. Perhaps you believe the name Traditionalism is a “laugher.” Perhaps you believe our theology is a “laugher.” You are certainly entitled to all of these opinions. However, if you wish to understand our use of the name Traditionalism, you may find an explanation here: http://connect316.net/aWhyTraditionalism.

    Although we have never claimed that ours is the only *true* SBC tradition, we do, however, believe that ours is a legitimate stream of Southern Baptist theology—finding parallels with the Anabaptists, and tracing our doctrines through the English General Baptists (who preceded the Particular Baptists) as well as the Separate Baptists of the Sandy Creek tradition. I will allow other historians to debate with you which tradition was indeed the earliest. In my view, it doesn’t really matter so much, for this is not some game of SBC Historical Capture the Flag, in which the team that got here first wins.

    You mentioned a “hijacking” in the 20th Century by Synergistic Arminians. I suppose you are talking about Southern Baptists who believed like we still do. For what it’s worth, they made contributions worthy of our celebration—building our denomination, mission boards, seminaries and publishing house—with many achievements unprecedented in church history. This primary Twentieth Century Southern Baptist doctrinal tradition influenced the Baptist Faith and Message in 1925, 1963 and 2000. All reflect strongly the theology of confessors E. Y. Mullins, Herschel Hobbs and Adrian Rogers. And yes, we mention their names, not to glorify man, but in order to speak of our tradition in respectful ways that most informed people can understand clearly.

    Personally, Charles, I think you’ve been a bit hard on us. We certainly do not view ourselves as “laughers” or “hijackers.” However, if you wish to view us that way, you may certainly exercise your free will in just such a manner. Many blessings upon you, for even though we disagree on these matters, I trust we both love Jesus, and are thus brothers in Christ.

      Charles D. Blew

      Rick,
      I went to Connect 316 and even read the Traditional Statement and remain convinced that this whole traditional effort is an attempt to revise or reject Southern Baptist history. The statement even contains wording to the effect that Southern Baptists must move beyond any reference to reformed thought as a description of Southern Baptist soteriology. Why do you want to negate the first 80 years of Southern Baptist history by what has happened in the last 90 years? I see the last several decades as a subtle move toward Romish ways. I believe many of the statements in the Traditional Statement are not biblical, and that brings me to my final point. This is not a discussion among men whereby differing ideas of soteriology can be held and yet fellowship continues unaffected. One of us is right and the other wrong or we are both wrong. The truth lies outside of both you and me, Rick, and we cannot know that truth unless the Lord reveals it to us. The truth is the truth whether you and I believe it or not. The truth is revealed by the Spirit through Holy Scripture so all thoughts by men must be reconciled with scripture. Reformed thinkers always have the upper hand here because of their willingness to submit to the Word. Our beliefs must always exalt the Lord and always humble man, for the Lord says, “But to this one I will look, to him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word.”

        Robert

        Hello Charles,

        You wrote:

        “I see the last several decades as a subtle move toward Romish ways.”

        You make an assertion here, so what is the evidence for your claim?

        You also claim that:

        “I believe many of the statements in the Traditional Statement are not biblical,”

        Which ones, can you be more specific?

        Traditionalists say the same thing about Calvinistic beliefs, so this claim goes both ways.

        You continued:

        “and that brings me to my final point. This is not a discussion among men whereby differing ideas of soteriology can be held and yet fellowship continues unaffected.”

        Ok, so assuming your claim here is correct (and I believe you are right in this assessment) would you agree then that Calvinism presently will become (if it is not already) a divisive issue among SBC people?

        You next make some statements that are both logical and factual and I agree with:

        “One of us is right and the other wrong or we are both wrong. The truth lies outside of both you and me, Rick, and we cannot know that truth unless the Lord reveals it to us. The truth is the truth whether you and I believe it or not. The truth is revealed by the Spirit through Holy Scripture so all thoughts by men must be reconciled with scripture.”

        You are right, Traditionalists or Calvinists cannot both be correct. Either one is right and the other is wrong, or they are both wrong.

        You are also correct that by its very nature truth is objective, it is outside our minds and preferences, it is there whether we accept it or not, whether we believe it or not.

        You are also correct that when it comes to scripture, the Spirit works through the scripture to reveal truth to us.

        On all of these things we should agree, at least on the nature of truth.

        Your next statement is however outright false (at least for Baptists):

        “Reformed thinkers always have the upper hand here because of their willingness to submit to the Word.”

        Reformed thinkers held to and developed the doctrines surrounding infant baptism. Infant baptism is unbiblical and wrong, it was the Reformers going beyond scripture and going by tradition that led to their adherence of infant baptism.

        Charles are you a Baptist?

        If so, do you believe the Reformers were wrong about infant baptism?

        And Charles the severe persecution of the Reformers done to the Anabaptists, was that evidence of “their willingness to submit to the Word” or something else?

        “Our beliefs must always exalt the Lord and always humble man, for the Lord says, “But to this one I will look, to him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word.””

        Agreed, and again taking the example of Baptism, was it the Anabaptists or the Reformers who were humble and contrite of spirit, who trembled at My word’?

        Seems to me the Anabaptists displayed this humble and contrite spirit while the Reformers and their extreme persecution of the Anabaptists manifested a very hateful and different spirit.

        Charles do you believe the Anabaptists got it right and the Reformers were in error (or the opposite).

        And if you agree with the Reformers, do you really believe they manifested a “humble and contrite spirit” in their dealings with the Anabaptists???

        Robert

          Chares D. Blew

          Robert

          Thanks for your thoughts. I will try to respond to your questions. My reference to Rome comes from this perspective. All efforts by Rome can be summed up as an attempt to control the grace of the Lord. The church dispenses grace as a church member meets certain conditions. (In fact all idolatry is marked by the defining of a God that you can please by your own works.) The thought that the free will of man partners with the Lord to bring salvation is of the very same vein. But grace must be entirely free in order to be grace. Grace brings faith–not the other way around.

          I believe that the first nine articles of the Traditional Statement are unbiblical. Only in the tenth might I agree. As an example, the denial in the sixth is in direct contradiction with Romans 8:29-30. They even use this scripture as a reference for their denial and is a perfect example of how men can draw completely different conclusions about the revealed Word without the working of the Spirit in their hearts and minds.

          Calvinism (and I believe, with Spurgeon, that Calvinism is only a nickname for biblical soteriology) has already become a divisive issue within Southern Baptist circles. But we should not expect anything differently since the Lord said that he brings a sword rather than peace. If He divides biological families, should He not also divide the public, professing church? The church is the New Testament fulfillment of the Old Testament family of God, the Israelites. And Paul shows in Romans 9 that they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel, in order that God’s purpose according to His choice might stand.

          I still stand by my statement that most development of scriptural truth has come from reformed pens. I think that history shows that this is yours and my heritage as the Lord has superintended His Word down through the centuries. But let’s cut the reformers some slack here. The best of men are men at best. These men had been raised in a church that taught infant baptism and it was difficult to jettison ideas that you had invested your life in. The thought that they labored through all of the crises created by such truths as justification by faith alone and other solas and then to criticize them for a baptismal mode comes only because we are not living through those times. They loved the church and were trying to reform it from within. I agree with the thought that infant baptism is part of an incomplete reformation.

          I am in a Southern Baptist church and am a reformed Baptist in heart, mind and soul and believe that immersion is the most biblical way to be obedient to the Lord’s ordination of that sacrament. But I believe that the mode of baptism is of a tertiary nature (although the obedience to the Lord in carrying out this sacrament is critical for a new believer) and that is why I found myself participating in the infant baptism of my grandchildren. My son and his family belong to a PCA Presbyterian church, a conservative, reformed body that follows in the teachings of R C Sproul. I was relieved to discover that no baptized child is allowed to participate in the weekly Lord’s Supper until they have demonstrated a heart knowledge of the realities behind that sacrament.

          Isaiah 66:1-2 is wholeheartedly true because the Lord has said it. It remains for us to be obedient to that description if we are to be pleasing to the Lord and thus, saved. Humility, contrition and trembling at His Word, leaves no place for the free will of man as it is understood by most Southern Baptists today.

          Charley

            Robert

            Hello Charley,

            Clearly you are strongly committed to your Calvinistic theology. The problem is: what if your Calvinism is wrong?

            The vast majority of Christians throughout Church History and today have rejected Calvinism as both unbiblical and false wherever and whenever it has appeared.

            I have always thought it extremely odd and disconcerting that if Calvinism were true and if God ordained whatsoever comes to pass as Calvinists believe. Then that would mean that the God of truth intentionally ordains for most of His own people, believers, to not know the truth regarding soteriology and when they hear it to reject it. That makes no sense if God is a God of truth.

            “‘All efforts by Rome can be summed up as an attempt to control the grace of the Lord. The church dispenses grace as a church member meets certain conditions. . . .But grace must be entirely free in order to be grace. Grace brings faith–not the other way around.”

            You present a false dilemma here (i.e. either “Grace brings faith” or “the other way around”/which would be “faith brings grace”).

            You leave out a third possibility which ironically is what the Bible presents: “faith in response to grace”.

            The biblical message is that God took the initiative in sending Jesus to become flesh ( it is not deserved nor was it in any way earned) and to die for the sins of the whole world (again, neither deserved nor earned). The gospel message is that a faith response to this grace of God found in Christ is what justifies us. The Bible never says that “grace brings faith” (nor does it say that “faith brings grace”), rather, it says that faith responds to the grace of God.

            “I believe that the first nine articles of the Traditional Statement are unbiblical. . . . .They even use this scripture as a reference for their denial and is a perfect example of how men can draw completely different conclusions about the revealed Word without the working of the Spirit in their hearts and minds.”

            You reject these articles because of your commitment to Calvinism: those who reject Calvinism hold these articles because they believe them to be biblical rather than Calvinism. That is just an impasse.

            Sadly you say here that those who disagree with you do so because the Spirit is not working in their hearts and minds!

            “Calvinism (and I believe, with Spurgeon, that Calvinism is only a nickname for biblical soteriology) has already become a divisive issue within Southern Baptist circles.”

            And that is a bad thing.

            Sadly you attempt to justify the division caused by Calvinism:

            “But we should not expect anything differently since the Lord said that he brings a sword rather than peace. If He divides biological families, should He not also divide the public, professing church?”

            This is sad because if Calvinism is false (and this is incomprehensible to you I am sure), then the division it brings to the church is not God’s will at all.

            To justify this sinful division by an illegitimate appeal to Jesus’ comment about bringing a sword is also sad. Jesus was speaking about families being divided when some of them became Christians (not them becoming Calvinists or promoting Calvinism).

            “I think that history shows that this is yours and my heritage as the Lord has superintended His Word down through the centuries.”

            There is no evidence of Calvinism prior to Augustine. Augustine invented some of the key Calvinistic doctrines which were later systematized by Calvin and other Calvinists.

            “But let’s cut the reformers some slack here. The best of men are men at best. These men had been raised in a church that taught infant baptism and it was difficult to jettison ideas that you had invested your life in.”

            Doesn’t matter, your admission here proves your earlier statement (i.e. ““Reformed thinkers always have the upper hand here because of their willingness to submit to the Word.”) is a completely false claim.

            The fact is, they do not “always have the upper hand”, they were mistaken on some things and they were not willing “to submit to the Word” or they would reject infant baptism and they would have treated the Anabaptists differently.

            “The thought that they labored through all of the crises created by such truths as justification by faith alone and other solas and then to criticize them for a baptismal mode comes only because we are not living through those times.”

            I brought up infant baptism because your earlier statements suggested that the Reformers got it all right. Infant baptism clearly shows they did not get it all right. I also brought up their sinful treatment of the Anabaptists.

            “I am in a Southern Baptist church and am a reformed Baptist in heart, mind and soul and believe that immersion is the most biblical way to be obedient to the Lord’s ordination of that sacrament.”

            Good, then that means you agree the Reformers were wrong about baptism and also wrong in their sinful persecution of the Anabaptists.

            I note you made no reference to the Anabaptists at all in your response, sort of like you want to just put their treatment at the hands of the Reformers under the rug. But it cannot be put under the rug because it shows the Reformers to be hateful and even murderous towards those with whom they disagreed.

            “Isaiah 66:1-2 is wholeheartedly true because the Lord has said it. It remains for us to be obedient to that description if we are to be pleasing to the Lord and thus, saved.”

            Right, and you completely ignored my point that the Anabaptists displayed the humility and right spirit while it was the Reformers who displayed a contrary spirit, a hateful spirit, a murderous spirit.

            “Humility, contrition and trembling at His Word, leaves no place for the free will of man as it is understood by most Southern Baptists today.”

            This is again a very sad and false statement. God desires for his people to freely choose to obey Him. He does not control us like robots. He challenges us with His Word, He commands us to do things, and He desires for us to freely choose to obey Him. Sanctification *is* cooperative, does involve us freely making the right choices rather than the wrong ones. Our salvation is more than just our justification it is also our sanctification. The NT says much more about Christian character and the freely made choices that we need to make to develop this character and mature in our faith than it speaks of Calvinistic issues.

            Robert

              Charles D. Blew

              Robert,

              I will try to respond in order to some of your points. First of all, don’t think it odd that much of the professing church today is not the true church. I am not sure that church members can be considered true believers if they do not “know the truth about soteriology and to reject it when they hear it.” The Lord always has his remnant within the church according to His gracious choice. This is what Romans 9 is all about.

              Your third possibility, “faith in response to grace,” is not valid because you have not dealt with how faith arises. You believe that it arises from within man independent of the grace of God and I believe that it arises as a result of the grace of God. In fact, it comes from the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ.

              I reject the articles in your statement, not because of Calvinism, but because I believe that they directly differ from scripture.

              Division is necessary because the truth divides. It cannot abide with error; this is what Christ was referring to. The truth is that salvation is all from the Lord, from start to finish. He will not share His glory with another. We are saved by grace alone. That salvation is experienced by us through faith alone and that faith is the gift of God.

              The doctrines of grace were not invented by Augustine. He articulated scriptural truths taught by the apostles. Think on this, Robert. Paul teaches a theistic determinism (a determinism which is one of grace to believers, of judgment to unbelievers) in Romans 9. Paul’s message is met with resistance by the objector in verse 19. Robert, would your message today bring the same objection? If not, aren’t you and Paul on opposite sides of this matter? And isn’t that a problem for you?

              I stand corrected. The best of men are men at best means that they do not always have the upper hand. I know very little about infant baptism and the history of the Anabaptists so I will concede you your point, hoping that you have a clear understanding of that history. I still believe that the reformers interpreted scripture properly, for the most part, even if the practice of such understanding was not always the best. I assume that you agree with me that the persecution that they endured is one that we can never fully appreciate. We are deeply in their debt.

              You said, “God desires for his people to freely choose to obey Him. He does not control us like robots.” The Bible says, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you,….And I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances.” That’s new covenant language; it doesn’t seem to agree with yours. He will not share His glory with another.

              You said, “He challenges us with His Word, He commands us to do things, and He desires for us to freely choose to obey Him.” The Bible says, “Through the Law comes the knowledge of sin.” “Why the Law, then? It was added because of transgressions…” “But the scripture has shut up all men under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.” The Lord will not share His glory with another.

              You said, “Sanctification is cooperative…” We labor in sanctification but that labor is sustained by the grace of God. His grace is evident in every step of the way in salvation, for scripture says, “For whom He foreknew, He also predestined….and whom He predestined, these He also called; and whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.” “Salvation is of the Lord.” If you go to glory, then you were foreknown, predestined, called, justified and sanctified. He will not share His glory with another.

              Charley

        Rick Patrick

        Charles,

        So you “remain convinced that this whole traditional effort is an attempt to revise or reject Southern Baptist history?” Hmmm. Not one single Traditionalist has ever claimed that our motive has anything to do with historical revisionism, yet you are convinced that it is. However, we have provided other, clearer, stated motives, such as the desire to express what most Southern Baptists believe about salvation.

        You mention wording to the effect that Southern Baptists must move beyond referencing reformed thought in defining our salvation doctrine. This is a move away from the TULIP. Interestingly, Hankins is not the only one who desires this. We find so many other acronyms attempting the same—Timothy George uses ROSES, Richard Land uses DESIRE, a new book is now using PROOF, while Eric had no such acronym for his ten points, so I took the liberty of reducing them to the POINSETTIA. People on both sides of this issue would like to see us get past the TULIP framework, for it has generally proven quite insufficient—based on the myriad caveats required.

        I’m not negating the early days of the SBC, although I disagree with you if you think Sandy Creek separatism had no place in Southern Baptist life. I agree with Richard Land that the Sandy Creek stream has always provided our melody and the Charleston stream has always provided our harmony. Obviously, if you believe in the Founders version of SBC history, you will disagree with that assessment.

        Nevertheless, our “whole traditional effort” has much less to do with our history than it has to do with our future. We want to restore Southern Baptist Traditionalism as the theological and cultural identity of our denomination—against the Calvinizing influences currently driving the agenda in the SBC. There’s no need to look for a hidden agenda with us—we’re more than happy to tell you exactly what it is. We think the Calvinizing influences are currently out of balance in the SBC—with denominational leadership disproportionately more Calvinistic than the laypersons in our churches—all of which contributes to instability and distrust.

        If the majority of our people are Traditionalists, then we should be leading the institutions, publishing the books, and speaking at the conferences. The SBC has been knocked off balance with the minority leading the majority for some time. Our agenda is three-fold: theological positions, ministry practices and leadership principles.

          Charles D. Blew

          Rick,
          I just can’t get past the idea that somehow “traditional” is an appropriate name to describe a decades long drift in Baptist circles from a reformed soteriology to that more Arminian in nature, particularly when the beginnings of the denomination are grounded in the doctrines of grace. Just come out and say that the denomination must throw off the notion that the Lord is absolutely sovereign in salvation and must affirm that He holds that sovereignty subservient to the free will of man where salvation is concerned. I don’t believe that this is biblical (in fact, I know that it is not), but let’s not wrap this position in something called Baptist tradition. I do believe the Founders position on Southern Baptist history.

          Rick, you now have a substantial majority in your camp so go to it. I believe that this is a liberal move in many respects like the effort a few decades ago to liberalize the view of scripture. Just remember that in your three-fold agenda, theological positions drive ministry practices and leadership principles. Without reformed thinking in the denomination, SBC life will go down the slippery slope. It has already begun, in many respects.

            Rick Patrick

            Charles,

            We profoundly disagree–over pretty much every point in your paragraph. But the main thing I would like you to understand is that we are not at all using the term “Traditional” to mean “the first or the original.” While I have strong opinions regarding our history, it frankly wouldn’t matter to me if every single Southern Baptist in 1845 were from the Charleston tradition or if the Sandy Creek tradition did not arrive until the day before yesterday. I am not making the case you think I am making—that we were here first. I really don’t care who was here first.

            Many of our churches have “Traditional” worship services in which they feature worship music popular from the 1950’s through the 1980’s—a mixture of hymns, Gaither choruses and Sandi Patty songs. Even though they use the term “Traditional” they are not using it to refer to 1845 and the beginning of the SBC. Neither are we.

              Charles D. Blew

              Rick,

              I do understand that you are not necessarily using the term “tradition” to mean “the first or the original.” But your disclaimer is pretty much meaningless because the meaning of “tradition” is something handed down from generation to generation or a long established or inherited way of thinking or acting. This definition pretty much necessitates the inclusion of the beginning of something.

              I already mentioned the fact that I had a publication that showed that as late as 1918, a significant majority of Southern Baptists believed in the Doctrines of Grace. If you had published your Traditional Statement back then with all of its unbiblical assertions and denials, you would have been branded a heretic and dismissed from the church. Rick, the snapshot of the SBC that you take at this moment might reflect primarily Arminian or Semi-Pelagian thought and might reflect the theological drift that has occurred in the last 80 or so years, but this does not qualify your beliefs as traditional SBC thought. Your statement was not handed down by generation after generation of Southern Baptists. In fact, your statement would not even be recognized by the majority of Southern Baptists in the first 80 years of their existence.

              The preamble of your statement delivers the real motive of your attempt to describe yourselves as traditionalists. It says, “We believe it is time to move beyond Calvinism as a reference point for Baptist soteriology.” Reformed soteriology has played an important part of Southern Baptist history. It may have waned in recent years, but it cannot be swept under the rug as though it is not an important part of Southern Baptist tradition.

              Charley

                Robert

                Charley and Rick,

                I was just reading your exchange and basically you two disagree and are at an impasse (one represents Traditionalism the other represents Calvinism). So there was really no reason to add to your discussion.

                But then I read Charley’s latest post and he makes one of the most scariest statements I have yet seen in exchanges between Traditionalists and Calvinists here. If he represents what Calvinists in the SBC really believe in their hearts, then this division between Traditionalists and Calvinists is going to get much worse and severely fracture and divide the SBC.

                Charley wrote:

                “I already mentioned the fact that I had a publication that showed that as late as 1918, a significant majority of Southern Baptists believed in the Doctrines of Grace. If you had published your Traditional Statement back then with all of its unbiblical assertions and denials, you would have been branded a heretic and dismissed from the church.”

                Even though Traditionalists affirm the key essentials of the Christian faith including the Trinity, the divinity of Jesus, a final judgment with eternal destinies, inerrancy and inspiration of scripture and affirm Baptist distinctives (such as believer baptism): according to Charley simply because they challenge and question Calvinism they are viewed as heretics and ought to be dismissed from the church!!!

                This is not happening now because Calvinists are not in the majority; they do not presently have the power to do so. But he believes that would have occurred in the 1918 when supposedly more Baptists in the SBC held to Calvinism. Charley may represent what Calvinists in the SBC really believe. Most, unlike him will not be that candid and forthright, but it seems to me that if the Calvinists were the majority, or if they had enough power and control, declaring Traditionalists heretics and dismissing them from SBC churches/seminaries/etc. is exactly what they would like to do.

                This should not at all be surprising. If you study church history, you find this exact pattern every time Calvinism rears its ugly head. Every time Calvinists get in control, they have no hesitation in declaring other BELIEVERS who believe differently to be heretics and if they could they would eliminate these others from the church (check out how they treated the Remonstrants/Arminians and the Anabaptists for clear examples).

                Those of us who are not Calvinists must never forget history, don’t forget how Calvinist majorities have behaved in history. Some Calvinists may say they believe in a “live and let live” mentality where differing theologies are all acceptable in the SBC (or anywhere else). But that is not the truth at all, whenever they are in control whenever they are the majority, they view others who believe differently as heretics and they do want to eliminate them. Because of this attitude they are dangerous and divisive and they always will be. I view Calvinists as mistaken and holding to a false theology: but I do not see them as heretics. But this does not go both ways. They view us as heretics and if they could they would eliminate all non-Calvinists.

                Robert

                  Michael Vaughan

                  So, Robert, when I say that I have a “live and let live mentality” and you respond that this is “not the truth at all,” would you call me a liar or just ignorant of my own deep-seated and hidden beliefs? Please elaborate.

                  I make no excuses for others on this board, but I would appreciate it if you would refrain from blanket statements.

                  Charles D. Blew

                  Robert,

                  I just saw your post to Rick and me. Let me say one quick thing. You all seem to come at these things from a humanistic point of view. That if man believes something, then it must be given some honor whether it honors the Lord or not. In that way, you can live with the conclusion that several different theologies can live under the same tent. I assume you hold this approach within Christianity and resist the temptation to extend some acceptance to Universalism. I overstate my point but do you see why I am troubled by shoutdowns when I struggle to differentiate truth from heresy. By the way, Robert, how can you view Calvinists as holding to a false theology and not also see them as heretics? Truth matters. If truth has been revealed to us through the scriptures, do we not have a moral obligation to brand something as heretical when compared to the scriptures? I realize that there will be disagreement and opposition to truth, but are we not obligated to speak the truth anyway? Are we not to consider it a serious thing to let error reside unopposed with the truth? I know that I am producing an outcry in your hearts as I say this and I know that as a mere man, that I cannot set myself up as the sole diviner of truth. But the Lord has revealed His word to us and we must wrestle in faith with its meaning. I hope that I have made some sense; here is an excerpt from a dialogue that I had recently and hopefully shows more clearly where I am coming from:

                  Here is an example of why my statements are considered offensive to someone who disagrees with me. I believe that faith comes through Christ, that he perfected faith as a human being as He became a curse, by faith, for us. The righteousness of God was manifested by Christ’s faith. In turn, as our Head, he gives faith to His own. So my ability to believe the Lord comes from the faith that has been poured out on me by Christ. I believe that all of these things, and so much more, can be shown from scripture. So when someone says to me that they can accept the gospel by their own free will, what am I to do? In my own mind, they have denied the Lord because I believe that the Lord, as head of the church, must pour forth the faith that He perfected on earth in order for anyone to believe. My speech, in turn, will reflect that deep-seated conviction. Thus, the offense comes. Let me quote Luther, who captures this sentiment. This quote comes as Luther is commenting on John 1, particularly verse 16:
                  “John is here saying, not only that grace is not received by any effort of our own, but that it comes by the grace of another, that is, ‘one man, Jesus Christ’. So, either it is false that we receive our grace for the grace of another, or else it is apparent that ‘free-will’ is nothing; for these two positions cannot stand together, that the grace of God is both so cheap that it may be gained anywhere and everywhere by a little endeavor on the part of any man, and so dear that it is given to us only in and through the grace of this one great man!
                  And I could wish that the guardians of ‘free-will’ would be taught by this passage to recognize that when they assert ‘free-will’ they are denying Christ. For if I obtain the grace of God by my own endeavor, what need have I of the grace of Christ for the receiving of my grace? When I have the grace of God, what do I need besides? The Diatribe said, and all the Sophists say, that we obtain the grace of God by our own endeavor, and are thereby made ready to receive it, not, indeed, as of condignity, but as of congruity. This is plainly to deny Christ. It is for His grace, the Baptist says here, that we receive grace.”

                  What else can I say? I believe that this is what scripture says. The gospel is all wrapped up in the two Adams.

                  Charley

                    Michael Vaughan

                    Charles, you need to take more care in distinguishing between heresy over core distinctives of Christianity and that which is not. We cannot join with heretics. We can work together as Baptists. I would admonish you to remember 1 Peter 3: “Finally, all of you…”

                    Charles D. Blew

                    Michael,

                    Thanks for your cautionary note. I will take it to heart. Thanks again.

                    Charley

                    Charles D. Blew

                    Michael,

                    I don’t know if you have read my posts to Robert tonight, but I was just reflecting on them and on your caution to me today and I feel kind of like I have left the reservation. I love the Lord and just want to honor Him best by understanding the truth that He has revealed about Himself. Arminian thought attempts to elevate man which necessarily diminishes the Lord. To me, this then becomes essential doctrine that must be called out for what it really is. If I believe that I must have the grace of Christ for the receiving of my grace, then I can’t abide the thought of man’s independence from the Lord by his free will. Without Him, all of our righteousnesses are as filthy rags. If I believe a doctrine to be essential, it becomes difficult to pretend harmony where there are differing views of that doctrine. I know the fragility of my human frame and that those that think they stand must take heed lest they fall. But if I am convinced of the truth of an essential doctrine, I must state that truth clearly which, in turn, causes rancor. Luther saw “free will” as the key issue in the reformation, for he writes to Erasmus in his conclusion of “Bondage of the Will,” “Moreover, I give you [Erasmus] hearty praise and commendation on this further account–that you alone, in contrast with all others, have attacked the real thing, that is, the essential issue. You have not wearied me with those extraneous issues about the Papacy, purgatory, indulgences and such like–trifles, rather than issues–in respect of which almost all to date have sought my blood(though without success); you, and you alone, have seen the hinge on which all turns, and aimed for the vital spot. For that I heartily thank you; for it is more gratifying to me to deal with this issue, insofar as time and leisure permit me to do so.”

                    I feel that we must continue in this vein, but I will try, with the Lord’s grace, to season my assertions with grace.

                    Charley

                    Michael Vaughan

                    Charley,
                    I appreciate your responsiveness.

                    I may be able to encourage you in this way. The heretics came at it with the attitude of, humans do the initiating work of turning to God, and God responds to those works.

                    I think most Traditional baptists would instead start with God, saying that God calls and humans respond. When I was a Traditionalist I used the term “prevenient grace.” I think most of the folks here would describe something similar, even if they have different terminology for it.

                    And I think that this is the important distinction that separates Tradionalists from heresy.

                    Do I disagree? Sure. But I recognize that Calvinists and Traditionalists both start from grace, and both give honor and glory to God for that.

                    Would folks on both sides agree with that?

                    Robert

                    Charley,

                    “Let me say one quick thing. You all seem to come at these things from a humanistic point of view. That if man believes something, then it must be given some honor whether it honors the Lord or not. In that way, you can live with the conclusion that several different theologies can live under the same tent.”

                    I don’t think it is “humanistic” at all to be charitable towards other believers with whom you disagree. To not instantly label every believer who believes differently than you to be a heretic.

                    “I assume you hold this approach within Christianity and resist the temptation to extend some acceptance to Universalism.”

                    Yes, I am talking about when genuine believers do not always agree on things.

                    “I overstate my point but do you see why I am troubled by shoutdowns when I struggle to differentiate truth from heresy. By the way, Robert, how can you view Calvinists as holding to a false theology and not also see them as heretics?”

                    Easy, I make a distinction between essential doctrine that all genuine believers affirm, and non-essentials where believers can and do disagree while remaining believers. Let’s take Presbyterians as an example. Most Presbyterians in their eschatology believe in Amillennialism. And some believe in Postmillennialism and even Premillennialism. Should the Amills declare the Postmills and Premills to be heretics?

                    And let’s say these Amills, Postmills and Premills all believe in the trinity, the deity of Christ, the inspiration and inerrancy of scripture, a final judgment with eternal destinies of heaven and hell.

                    Should they declare each other to be heretics because they disagree on their views on the Millennium?

                    I say this would be both unnecessary and tragic.

                    What is important is that they are believers who affirm the essentials.

                    Now let’s extend it out to Baptists and Presbyterians who disagree in their theologies. We affirm believer baptism and a congregational style of church government; they affirm infant baptism and a Presbyterian style of church government. And let’s say these Baptists and Presbyterians further agree on the trinity, the deity of Christ, the inspiration and inerrancy of scripture, a final judgment with eternal destinies: should they declare the other group to be a bunch of heretics?

                    I used to work with Walter Martin in counter cult ministry. We reserved the term “heretic” for those who denied some essential of the Christian faith (such as those who denied the deity of Christ). So we did not use the term heretic for other believers who affirmed the deity of Christ. Nor did we use the term heretic for those who held differing views within Christianity.

                    I happen to believe that Presbyterian theology is wrong on infant baptism and their form of church government (I’m a Baptist). So they are in fact mistaken in their theology on baptism and church government. So with regards to baptism and church government I view Presbyterians has holding to a false theology: and yet I do not consider them to be heretics for doing so.

                    What is much more important to me is what a person believes on the essentials. If they affirm the trinity, the deity of Christ, etc. they can be mistaken on millennial views, baptism, church government, their view on free will, even in soteriological issues (like Calvinists) and yet I do not view them as heretics. And it goes both ways (or at least it should) the Calvinist should see that I am thoroughly orthodox on the trinity, the deity of Christ, the inspiration and inerrancy of the Bible, so though I may be mistaken on baptism and church government (I am thinking of a Presbyterian looking at my Baptist theology) and even mistaken in soteriology (I hold to universal atonement while the Presbyterian is a Calvinist who holds to limited atonement) I am not a heretic.

                    Charley let’s make this personal for you so you see the point: you are a Baptist and you said your son attends a Presbyterian church (should you declare him to be a heretic because of his mistaken theology on baptism and church government? Should he declare you to be a heretic because of your mistaken theology on baptism and church government?)

                    ‘Truth matters. If truth has been revealed to us through the scriptures, do we not have a moral obligation to brand something as heretical when compared to the scriptures?”

                    And where do we draw the line? A person’s mistaken millennial view? Their mistaken view on baptism? Their mistaken view on local church government? Their mistaken view on the rapture? Seems to me that heresy ought to be reserved for denials of the essentials of the faith. Can a Christian be mistaken in some areas and still be a Christian and not be a heretic? Yes.

                    “I realize that there will be disagreement and opposition to truth, but are we not obligated to speak the truth anyway?”

                    Yes we are obligated to speak the truth. We are also obligated to treat other believers the way the Lord wants us to treat them. And that is not to automatically declare them to be heretics because they believe differently in some areas than we do if we hold the essentials in common.

                    “Are we not to consider it a serious thing to let error reside unopposed with the truth?”

                    Which is why I opposed cults in the past and Calvinism now.

                    “But the Lord has revealed His word to us and we must wrestle in faith with its meaning.”

                    Yes we must wrestle with His Word, but we cannot conclude that just because other genuine believers who also wrestle with His Word and yet they disagree with us, they are heretics. The fact is that good and godly Christians do disagree on some things. We cannot (or should not) declare all those who arrive at different conclusions to be heretics. These other believers may be mistaken in their theology but that does not make them heretics.

                    Robert

                    Charles D. Blew

                    Robert,

                    I will ask one question because your response seemed to avoid completely the major thrust of my message. Do you consider it essential doctrine when you affirm that your faith comes from within yourself and is independent of your Lord and Savior? I say that scripture makes it clear that the Lord authored and perfected faith and that my faith comes from Him. Luther says that you have denied Christ when you affirm free will to the exclusion of the free grace of Christ in saving you. The grace of God comes by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ. I consider that essential doctrine. A difference on this matter can result in a difference in eternal destiny. The Lord will not share His glory with another.

                  Michael Vaughan

                  Robert, you wrote, “Some Calvinists may say they believe in a “live and let live” mentality where differing theologies are all acceptable in the SBC (or anywhere else). But that is not the truth at all, whenever they are in control whenever they are the majority, they view others who believe differently as heretics and they do want to eliminate them.”

                  What is your response to me when I say that I am a Calvinist with a “live-and-let-live mentality?”

                    Robert

                    Michael,

                    Michael I want to address my comments on some Calvinists saying that we ought to have a “live and let live mentality”. Let’s take a historical example. During the time of the Reformation, the Reformers and their followers severely persecuted the Anabaptists. Literally torturing these folks to death (in some cases they would drown the Anabaptist just to the point of death and then revive them and do it again and again until they finally died: in this way mocking their belief in believer baptism). It is accurate to say that at that time because they were in control these Calvinists declared others who believed differently to be heretics and wanted to eliminate them from the church? Yes. Does this mean that there were absolutely no exceptions that no Calvinist anywhere had sympathy towards the Anabaptists? No. Of course there were exceptions (I am sure there were some Calvinists who had a “live and let live” attitude at that time as well). So you can maintain both that the claim that these Calvinists when in power declared the Anabaptists to be heretics and wanted them eliminated from the church AND at the same time admit that there may have been exceptions. But the existence of exceptions does not change the fact that these Calvinists when in power did these things.

                    With that in mind consider your comments:

                    You asked:

                    “What is your response to me when I say that I am a Calvinist with a “live-and-let-live mentality?”

                    My response then is good, you are an exception. It is nice to hear that you would not engage in persecution of others who believe differently than you do. It also must be remembered that you are not in power! :-) I was speaking specifically of when they are in power. See how they behave when they are in power.

                    You also asked me to elaborate:

                    “So, Robert, when I say that I have a “live and let live mentality” and you respond that this is “not the truth at all,” would you call me a liar or just ignorant of my own deep-seated and hidden beliefs? Please elaborate.”

                    I would again say you are an exception.

                    “I make no excuses for others on this board, but I would appreciate it if you would refrain from blanket statements.”

                    It is not an inaccurate “blanket statement” to say that the Reformers and their followers when in power declared the Anabaptists to be heretics and wanted to eliminate them from the church. They persecuted them to the point of death, imprisoned them, excommunicated them from churches, exiled them, did whatever they could to eliminate them, they particularly went after the leaders. Again did every Calvinist at that time do this, were there no exceptions? No.

                    Likewise with Dort and the Remonstrants. The Calvinists were in power there too, and they did the same things to the Remonstrants (went after the leaders in particular,took away their pastorates, had them imprisoned, exiled, some died from these actions, etc. etc.). Did this mean that every Calvinist at that time attacked the Remonstrants? No.

                    What you need to do Michael instead of limiting things to your own experience, is to actually study church history when the Calvinists are in power for yourself. If you do so, you will be utterly shocked to see how Calvinists treated others who believed differently. People like to bring up Servetus in the case of Calvin. But that is just one bad example. There were many, many more, literally thousands more of these bad examples. What people need to see is the way Calvinists in power treated the Remonstrants and how they treated the Anabaptists. And arguing that they were merely creatures of their own time as some modern Calvinists vainly do in order to justify these sinful actions just doesn’t work. When you see all this persecution including killing people, imprisoning them, removing them from their pastorates, exiling them, etc. etc. etc. you then wonder if these were even genuine Christians at all. Oh, and I am not making this up, sadly it is all documented history.

                    Robert

    volfan007

    Charles D. “Blew,”

    First of all, is this your real name? Or, did you jump into this comment thread anonymously? For some reason, this sounds like a fake name. Is it? And, if so, why did you use a fake name? Ashamed of what you said? Not willing to own up to your words?

    David

      Charles D. Blew

      David,
      This is my real name. I am 67 years old and my last name has been misspelled many times. I probably should have just used Charley. No, I am not ashamed of what I have said as long as I believe that it is biblical. I pray that the Lord will lead me out of any ignorance. I sometimes feel that the manner in which I write should be seasoned with more grace. I also pray that the Lord will help me with that.
      Charley

        volfan007

        Charles,

        Ok…that’s great. There’s some people, who’ll say some pretty strong, harsh things, and they’ll use a fake name. They want to say something mean and ugly, but they don’t want to fess up to their words. I appreciate that you’re willing to own your words.

        With that being said, I hope you read Rick Patrick’s response to you…about your statement. He pretty well says all that I’d want to say to you, and more. So, I’ll just let his words be mine, as well, concerning your comment.

        David

    Michael Vaughan

    Hi Charles,
    Welcome to the conversation.

    I’ve been trying to encourage folks on both sides of this to be congenial in their tones. I’d encourage you to avoid inflammatory language; it’s not conducive to debate and only makes it harder for us to convince this crowd that Calvinists can be winsome rather than angry.

    I agree with Rick that this isn’t some theological game of capture the flag, but is also point out that this applies to both sides–a lot of the Traditionalists on this site seem to regard Calvinism and its resurgence as an unwanted intruder.

Lydia

“The SBC, when founded in 1845 was primarily made up of Calvinists, reformed thinkers who believed in the Doctrines of Grace. It was hijacked in the 20th century by synergistic Arminians. So if we speak of the true SBC tradition, we need to go back to the root of the matter, which was Calvinist in the beginning. ”

Charles, I agree with you that the SBC was founded primarily by Calvinist. I disagree with you that this means something significant for us today. The SBC was founded so that missionaries could take their slaves on the mission field. It is not news to some of us history nuts that Calvinism has a history of seeing slavery as the Providence of God. There was a conumdrum concerning this determinist god paradigm when the pro slavery Calvinists did not win the war. And rightly so, there was an evolution away determinism for many years afterward.

We can see the ebb and flow throughout history: The Puritans for the most part became Unitarians. The Presbyterians for the most part went social justice route. And so on. Calvinism tends to resurge and die down. And there is a reason for that. It does not apply well to every day life.

There is a history of the caste system Christianity of the Reformers: Hatred of Jews in Germany going back to Luther’s writings. The Dutch Calvinist Boers in South Africa implemented Aparthied. There is also a history of banishnig, punishing and torturing those they claimed were heretics from the Puritans who killed Quakers and burned women as witches back to Calvin’s state church in Geneva that tortured and banished “heretics” which included Ana Baptists. I find Calvin’s state church confusing as attendance was mandatory. Does that make sense in light of his doctrine concerning election?

So you are right but not sure why it is important for today. I cringe at the thought of going back to that sort of caste system, authoritarian thinking. We don’t think it applies to today because our laws protect us from punishing heretics. EVen though leaders can still “marginalize” them within their own denomination. But even our country is becoming more and more oligarchical as our SBC churches, if you have not noticed.

My church is voting on a Calvinist pastor (we were told he is not one of the “bad Calvinists” in the SBC that want to convert churches) right now. But, you know what we were told this morning? That “voting” for a pastor is wrong and not the way it should be handled in the Body of Christ. He said the church is not a democracy. (Neither is our country, btw. We are a representative Republic) . But how else does the “least” member of the Body have an equal say? Cannot the least member have the same anointing? (1 John)

But, Here we go…. The Calvinist. caste system Christianity. No, in his doctrine, a few people who declare the Holy Spirit for us should make the decision. That is where the SBC has gone. And the pews are falling for it and willing to give up the place in the priesthood. You guys won.

    Max

    “You guys won.”

    Lydia, it was really an easy road for the New Calvinists … the non-Calvinist SBC majority (both pastor and pew) simply allowed this to happen with little challenge. While the SBC leadership (the Calvinism Committee) advised everybody to get along under the BFM2000 big tent, Dr. Mohler spurred the New Calvinism movement forward with statements like the following: “Where else are they going to go? If you’re a theological minded, deeply convictional young evangelical, if you’re committed to the gospel and want to see the nations rejoice in the name of Christ, if you want to see gospel built and structured committed churches, your theology is just going to end up basically being Reformed, basically something like this New Calvinism, or you’re going to have to invent some label for what is basically going to be the same thing, there just are not options out there …” Obviously, the multitudes of non-Calvinist Southern Baptists opted to do church wrong all these years – we lost the gospel, you know. It does, indeed, appear that the young folks have won the day. We’ll see how that works for them in the years ahead. (By the way, I also am committed to the Gospel and want to see the nations rejoice in the name of Christ … ALL folks in them).

Robert

Pastor Paul Abeyta appears to be a Baptist pastor and yet he asked me:

“Not all baptists hold to an age of accountability I would think. Is there something in the BF&M 2000 which makes you come to this conclusion?”

Seems to me that Baptists hold to the age of accountability unless they are Calvinists and unduly influenced by Calvinistic Presbyterian theology regarding original sin and baptism.

Steve Lemke wrote a helpful paper titled:

“What is a Baptist? Nine Marks that separate Baptists from Presbyterians”

In that paper he lays out nine differences between Baptists and Presbyterians. One of them is the age of accountability. Here is a portion of what Lemke wrote (note especially what he says about the BF&M:

[[“Mark 2: Age of Accountability (not Original Sin as Inherited Guilt)

The Presbyterian perspective on personal accountability flows from its conviction about original sin. According to the Westminster Confession, from the sin of Adam and Eve “the guilt of the sin was imputed, and corrupted nature conveyed, to all their posterity descending from them by ordinary generation,”60 and “[e]very sin, both original and actual, being a transgression of the righteous law of God, and contrary thereunto, does in its own nature, bring guilt upon the sinner, whereby he is bound over to the wrath of God, and curse of the law, and so made subject to death, with all miseries spiritual, temporal, and eternal.”61

Infant baptism is a logical corollary of the belief that children are guilty of sin since birth:

“Not only those that do actually profess faith in and obedience unto Christ, but also the
infants of one or both believing parents are to be baptized.”62

Baptists have not typically understood the impact of Adam and Eve’s sin in the Presbyterian way. While the Calvinistic Second London and Philadelphia confessions repeat much of the Westminster Confession language as an attestation to the profound impact of the Fall, the focus appears to be placed on actual sins rather than inherited guilt: through the “original corruption” of Adam we are “inclined to all evil,” and from this proclivity we commit “actual transgressions.”63 More noticeably, both these Calvinistic Baptist confessions delete the affirmation of the Westminster Confession that “Every sin, both original and actual . . . [brings] “guilt upon the sinner.”64 All standard Baptist confessions of faith point to fallen human nature having a strong disposition or proclivity toward sin. For example, the BF&M affirms that Adam’s posterity “inherit a nature and an environment inclined toward sin.”65 However, Baptist confessions tend not to use the term “original sin” by name, and two Baptist confessions explicitly deny it. John Smyth in his Short Confession of 1609 affirmed, “That there is no original sin (lit., no sin of origin or descent), but all sin is actual and voluntary, viz., a word, a deed, or a design against the law of God; and therefore, infants are without sin.”66 Likewise, the Short Confession of Faith of 1610 affirmed that none of Adam’s posterity “are guilty, sinful, or born in original sin.”67 The focus is on guilt from actual chosen sin, not inherited guilt. The Westminster, Second London, and Philadelphia confessions all allow for the divine election of “infants dying in infancy” and persons “who are incapable of being outwardly called by the ministry of the Word.”68 The Second London and Philadelphia confessions, however, delete the Westminster Confession’s allowance for infants to be baptized, asserting instead that only “those who do actually profess repentance towards God, faith in, and obedience to, our Lord Jesus Christ, are the only proper subjects of this ordinance.”69

The age of accountability is a key but often overlooked Baptist doctrine. It is presupposed by the concept of soul competency, and is propaedeutic to other Baptist beliefs such as believer’s baptism and the gathered church. All three BF&M statements assert that “as soon as they are capable of moral action” they become “transgressors” and are under condemnation.70 While it may be more of a “state” of being accountable rather than an “age” of accountability, apart from mentally challenged individuals this state of accountability is normally associated with a “coming of age.” No specific age is given; it is assumed that individual children mature at different paces from each other. By affirming the age of accountability, Baptists deny that children are guilty upon birth, and so deny infant baptism. Only those who are of age for moral accountability are capable of recognizing their own sinfulness, the first step toward salvation in Christ. One cannot be born into the church by physical birth, although a Christian upbringing clearly affords wonderful opportunities for young people to grow up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.”]]

So Yes it appears that Baptists would and do hold to the age of accountability, unless they have been overly and negatively influenced by Presbyterian/Calvinistic ideas and theology. The default position then of Baptists is that we hold to the age of accountability.

Those influenced by Calvinistic theology will argue against the age of accountability and for the false doctrine of imputed guilt (i.e. that the guilt of Adam was imputed to all people including babies, small children and the mentally disabled). It is clear from your comments in this thread Paul that you are one of those persons.

Robert

Lydia

Max, If they will permit me, I would like to quote from an Essay written by Udo Middleman. He is a son in law to Francis Shaeffer and part of the Francis Schaeffer Foundation. His essay is titled “The Islamization of Christianity”. Folks can google it.

“When life gets tough, we have all heard here and there in Christian circles one or the other of the following comments: It was the right time for her to die. God must have had something better in mind. God in his grace took him home to himself. God allowed it to happen. He made it come to pass. God must have wanted it that way.”

Wait a minute! Are these comments typical for Islam or do we hear and read them in wide circles of the contemporary church? They have a ring of familiarity about them. They are the comments made in the face of what we used to consider tragedies. People comfort each other by these words!

To the extend to which we agree with these statements and find them a comfort, we have ourselves moved over from a Biblical perspective to an Islamic one. The change can be gradual and insidious, but we have redefined God for the sake of our peace, our longing to make life in a fallen world less absurd existentially. We have found a way to make the experience of brokenness acceptable: we assume that it was acceptable to God.

Worse, we have redefined God. He now becomes the one who authors good and evil. We declare our inability to understand, then turn around and suggest that he must have thought it to be good. We are no longer partners of a God who is a war with a fallen world, who grieves over death and who has pity and compassion for people caught in a horrible situation after the fall. That God has been banished by us.

We may not have noticed this subtle, but radical change in our thinking. It leads finally to immoral consequences. If Islam considers doubt and questions a blasphemy, it is equally blasphemous for Christians to stop the complaint about death in its many forms and to assume that God identifies with everything that happens. Many have in fact become friends of the friends of Job. They overlook that much on earth is not right. It is even absurd. There is a war going on in heaven, with consequences in the life of Job and each believer. Life in war is a mess, and the just suffer without cause.

The will of the Lord is precisely not yet being done on earth in the same way it is already being done in heaven. The Lord’s prayer encourages us to pray for a future time when there will be no such discontinuity. In the world today it is very real and painful. There is no tidy world in the Bible. We are not allowed to bow to fateful circumstances, but to question them and to resist them, where that is morally demanded. Even Joseph did not resign himself to being sold to Egypt. Though God would turn to good what his brothers had meant for evil, Joseph rightly asks the steward to remember him before Pharaoh, lest be left to rot in prison alone. The cause of the tragedy was not the will of the Lord.”

His words explain better why I often mention Islam when discussing the brand of Calvinism coming out of the SBC.

    Max

    Lydia – This reminds me of a scene from Lawrence of Arabia when the servant boy gets lost in a sand storm. When Lawrence decides to go back to look for him, he is advised by the Arabian leader of the caravan not to do so for “It is written.” Lawrence responds “Nothing is written” and rescues the boy. Some of our theology these days is nothing but stinkin’ thinkin’.

    By the way, Lydia, you are one of the mostly godly men I know ;^)

bruce mercer

best i can tell, the traditional SBC theology is calvinism. (A Southern Baptist Looks at Predestination by Patrick Hues Mell). Mell was an original delegate of the SBC (1845) and served longer as its president than any other has.

    Max

    Yes, Bruce, the Southern Baptist Convention was formed by Calvinist pastors and their members who were slave holders. Author Bruce Gourley says in his book “Diverging Loyalties: Baptists in Middle Georgia During the Civil War” that the Calvinism that caused many Baptists to view the war as God’s providential hand guiding the Southern cause waned as early victories turned to defeat and all but disappeared from public discourse by the turn of the 20th century. What is referred to as “traditional” on this blog site is the non-Calvinist majority within SBC which “evolved” out of its Calvinist beginnings and who now see God’s plan of salvation as available to ALL men.

Lydia

Max,

(blushing)

Love the scene from Lawrence. Yes, let us value life here and now and risk ourselves to eradicate suffering.

I was struck by this line from Udo’s essay as particularly relevant for what has happened in the SBC:

“We are no longer partners of a God who is a war with a fallen world, who grieves over death and who has pity and compassion for people caught in a horrible situation after the fall. That God has been banished by us.”

Let it not be so….anymore.

Robert

Gary,

I looked over the thread and I had missed your comments to me. I looked at your other comments as well. Like the other Calvinists, you folks seem incapable of admitting that there are some Calvinists who are attempting to get in and take over congregations in a less than honest manner, actually in a dishonest and stealth manner ( you wrote: “I would still think it useful to know a few actual cases of such pastors. I suspect, if one investigated the actual cases, it would not simply be a matter of the big, bad Calvinist walking in and hoodwinking an innocent congregation and single-handedly causing division and strife.“). Multiple people have testified here at this blog directly from their firsthand experiences about these situations contrary to your claims.

So then should I trust you on this (an apologist for Calvinism who was not involved in any of these situations), or people who were directly involved in these situations and testifying from firsthand knowledge???

This also means your comments attempting to explain away these situations or to claim they are not happening are to be completely rejected.

You wrote:

“I could almost agree with you, Robert. Except, of course, for your snarky comments about “fun” disagreements that God did or did not ordain and about “typical” Calvinist reactions.”

I admit I was being sarcastic, but sometimes when I compare reality with your Calvinistic theology I cannot help it! :-) You Calvinists want us to believe that God predestines everything. There are major problems with this theology where everything is prescripted. At times consideration of this theology gets comical: if God prescripts it all, then why is he prescripting for so many Calvinists to be so hostile and argumentative? And not just with non-Calvinists or “Traditionalists” but also among themselves? I could understand if God prescripted it all that at least he would prescript for all the Calvinists to get it right and be on the same page: but reality presents a very different picture.

“I have seen plenty of meltdowns by “traditionalist” believers.”

No one has a monopoly on “meltdowns” that is true, however, the Calvinist movement has produced so much division, confusion, and arrogance that even Calvinist leaders have explicitly commented on this (e.g. James White a staunch Calvinist speaks of cage stage Calvinists: “I’ve seen it many times. The Cage Stage. . . . .And for a while, they have more zeal than they have knowledge. We call it the “cage stage.” That period in the experience of the new Calvinist where they would be better off kept in a cage until they can gain enough maturity to handle these vitally important topics aright. That time when they are more likely to hurt themselves, and others!”)

You also wrote:

“The other thing that is not conducive is this constant insistence that reformed believers be called “Calvinists”, while non-reformed believers be called “traditionalists”, “biblicists”, or some such.”

Actually “Calvinist” is a perfect term for people like you who hold to Calvinistic theology.

“Reformed” is a broader term than “Calvinist” and usually includes a commitment to infant baptism and covenant theology.

Apparently you are oblivious to the fact that there are some Baptists who call themselves “Reformed Baptists” and that other Calvinists who are “Reformed” (who do hold to infant baptism and covenant theology) refuse to acknowledge them as “Reformed” because of their Baptist beliefs. Historically “Reformed” refers to Presbyterian like theology rather than Baptist theology. Most “Reformed” people have a strong commitment to infant baptism and covenant theology.

And we can use you as a perfect example of this. You are involved with Calvary Chapel (a movement you say yourself is very non-Calvinistic) which is definitely not “Reformed” (they, like Baptists reject infant baptism and practice believer baptism). By the way Chuck Smith who was a major leader in that movement was extremely hostile towards Calvinism: have you read his material where he makes this very plain??

You want to be called “Reformed” (which usually includes commitment to infant baptism/covenant theology) and yet you are involved with Calvary Chapel and you believe in believer baptism. So assuming you reject infant baptism and yet hold to Calvinistic beliefs the proper term for you *is* he narrower term “Calvinist” rather than broader term “Reformed”.

You wrote:

“1. If you insist on calling us “Calvinists”, you should call yourself “Arminians”. Don’t tell me you don’t follow Arminius: we don’t follow Calvin, either. The question here is which system do our beliefs more closely align to, and every “traditionalist” I’ve ever talked to agrees with at least four articles of remonstrance and zero or one “points of Calvinism”.’”

I believe that the reason the Baptists here call themselves “Traditionalists” and not Arminians is because most Arminians deny eternal security while Baptists affirm eternal security. Most Traditionalists would also claim that their beliefs are more Baptist then Arminian.

The appellation “Calvinist” is perfectly appropriate for someone who affirms the five points of TULIP.

You also wrote:

“2. If you insist on calling yourself “traditionalist”, you should call us “reformed””

Again, to take you as a perfect example, I doubt that you hold to infant baptism. I also doubt that you hold to covenant theology another distinctive of those properly designated as “Reformed”. In the context of the SBC discussions (Baptists who reject infant baptism and for the most part do not hold to covenant theology discussing their beliefs) the opposite of a “Traditionalist” is not “Reformed” but “Calvinist.” Again “Reformed” goes beyond the five points and goes to things such as infant baptism, Presbyterian form of church government, covenant theology (things most Baptists here reject, including Baptists that are Calvinists). Of course it could be the case that you hold to infant baptism, covenant theology and other Reformed distinctives, in which case the question then becomes: what are you doing at a Calvary Chapel????

Robert

    Gary Bisaga

    Robert, you make a number of assertions without a lot to back it up. This is a very long comment and I don’t have a lot of time to respond, but let me mention a few things. First, “cage stage” Calvinists are totally a thing, I cannot deny it. I have seen a large number of them myself, and I expect I was one at one point. However, we are not talking about people who have newly accepted the doctrines of grace: we are talking about pastors, men who should be more mature. (I am assuming the pastors in question are older than their 20s.) I still maintain I would like to hear about some actual examples.

    Second, I would be interested to see some documentation of how “reformed” means paedobaptistic and “Calvinist” means a 5 pointer. Even the prima facie meanings suggest otherwise. “Calvinist” would seem to mean “follows Calvin” (who, among his other beliefs, taught paedobaptism) and “reformed” suggests “stands with the reformers on the most central part of their teachings”, which would be something much more akin to the “5 points.” You seem to be familiar with reformed baptists, which would reinforce my position but make no sense with yours.

    Third, “most Arminians deny eternal security while Baptists affirm eternal security.” I would question this. It is true, the main traditionally Arminian denomination (Methodist) denies eternal security. However, I suggest you read the five articles of remonstrance: the fifth article clearly states that only loss of faith is a reason to lose your salvation. I think most “traditionalists” today would agree with that, if they thought it through that far. Also Calvary Chapel, which I think without much doubt is the largest and most vibrant Arminian denomination in this country today other than “traditionalist” Baptists, is clearly in the Arminian camp on this fifth article. I wish most people who claim to be knowledgeable about this subject would read both the 5 articles as well as the 5 points and honestly ask themselves how their beliefs stack up against the two.

    Speaking of Calvary, OF COURSE I have read Chuck Smith’s materials on the subject. He is the source of why I can authoritatively say Calvary is thoroughly Arminian. I think this is a prime illustration of how us reformed folks are NOT the only ones causing division. I can have fellowship with other Calvary believers because we may differ in soteriology, but we are united in Christ, preaching the gospel, etc.

    Finally, “Most Traditionalists would also claim that their beliefs are more Baptist then Arminian.” But that is precisely my point. I have heard George Bryson and Ergun Caner thunder that they are NOT Arminian, yet their beliefs differ from full-blown traditional Arminianism according to the 5 articles by only the slightest bit, if at all; while they are happy to throw reformed and Calvinist and even hyper-Calvinist into the same stew without a second thought. As I said, I understand a reluctance to really understand positions we find repugnant. But we should have more respect for our fellow believers – with whom we will praise Jesus and enjoy heaven forever – than that.

      Robert

      Gary,

      “Robert, you make a number of assertions without a lot to back it up.”

      What I have said is accurate and true. You are operating from some very idiosyncratic definitions of terms. For example while prominent Calvinists like Sproul and Piper are not offended by being referred to as “Calvinists” you don’t want that label for yourself though you hold the same beliefs that they do.

      How is it that they are not repulsed when referred to as “Calvinists” and yet you are?

      You also seem to be ignorant of “Reformed theology” (which for centuries has included commitments to both covenant theology and infant baptism). You represent what some modern Calvinists want to do, cherry pick their theology, they want to pick and choose what they like from the Reformers and calling themselves “Reformed”. The Reformers got it right on some things (e.g. their opposition to Catholic theology on certain points, I say certain points because they did not object to all of it, for example if they were really consistent with sola scriptura they should have jettisoned infant baptism but they did not, instead they severely and unfairly persecuted the Anabaptists who held the correct view on baptism). The Reformers got it wrong on baptism they also got it wrong on eschatology and church government (again I speak as a biased Baptist! :-))

      “First, “cage stage” Calvinists are totally a thing, I cannot deny it. I have seen a large number of them myself, and I expect I was one at one point.”

      You admission here totally establishes my point.

      In talking about the modern Calvinist movement I have said it produces a lot of arrogant, argumentative, and divisive people.
      You openly admit here that “cage style” Calvinists exist (“I cannot deny it”): in fact you go much further and even admit “I have seen a large number of them myself”. A movement that produces “a large number” of arrogant, argumentative, hostile, divisive people is not biblical and should be opposed (not excused, and rationalized and defended as you are doing).

      “Second, I would be interested to see some documentation of how “reformed” means paedobaptistic and “Calvinist” means a 5 pointer.”

      In modern discussions of Calvinism it is both easy and convenient to speak of Calvinists in terms of their allegiance to TULIP. Hence terms such as “five pointer, etc. Regarding “Reformed” theology I suggest you do some further research yourself on the Reformation period and the churches that followed from it. If you do so, you would find that “Reformed theology” traditionally and for centuries has included commitments to both infant baptism and covenant theology. Again, you appear to be one of those who wants to cherry pick with “reformed theology” were you pick the views associated with TULIP that you like, but don’t pick the infant baptism and covenant theology. Someone truly committed and conversant with reformed theology would not only hold to TULIP but would also hold to infant baptism and covenant theology. Your response was deafeningly silent on infant baptism and covenant theology.

      “Even the prima facie meanings suggest otherwise. “Calvinist” would seem to mean “follows Calvin” (who, among his other beliefs, taught paedobaptism) and “reformed” suggests “stands with the reformers on the most central part of their teachings”, which would be something much more akin to the “5 points.””

      Your comment here clearly shows your cherry picking approach. You define “Calvinist” as someone who follows Calvin.

      While “Reformed” according to your idiosyncratic definition refers to someone who holds to the “most central part of their teachings.”

      That is not the normal definition of “Reformed” at all.

      “You seem to be familiar with reformed baptists, which would reinforce my position but make no sense with yours.”

      To briefly reiterate the situation: some Baptists who are Calvinists hold to believer baptism rather than infant baptism. These same Baptists want to be viewed as holding to “Reformed theology”. But others, those who hold to “Reformed theology” who are not Baptists do not want to accept these Baptists as holding to “reformed theology.” The fact this division exists, supports my claims that “Reformed theology” normally involves commitments to infant baptism and covenant theology.

      If that were not true, then why are these others rejecting the Reformed Baptists and claiming they (the reformed Baptists) do not hold to reformed theology????

      Your next statement is also mistaken:

      “Third, “most Arminians deny eternal security while Baptists affirm eternal security.” I would question this.”

      Most classical Arminians do not hold to eternal security. That is one of the reasons the “Traditionalists” distance themselves from Arminianism.

      “However, I suggest you read the five articles of remonstrance: the fifth article clearly states that only loss of faith is a reason to lose your salvation. I think most “traditionalists” today would agree with that, if they thought it through that far.”

      Again you are dead wrong here: Traditionalists who are Baptists affirm eternal security, they would never claim that a person could lose their salvation (even if “they thought it through that far”).

      “Also Calvary Chapel, which I think without much doubt is the largest and most vibrant Arminian denomination in this country today other than “traditionalist” Baptists, is clearly in the Arminian camp on this fifth article.”

      Again you prove my point here by saying Calvary Chapel which you see as an Arminian denomination denies eternal security. Yet every Baptist Traditionalist here affirms eternal security.

      “As I said, I understand a reluctance to really understand positions we find repugnant. But we should have more respect for our fellow believers – with whom we will praise Jesus and enjoy heaven forever – than that.”

      I used to work with Walter Martin against non-Christian cults; one of the key principles was to always properly and fairly represent the position held by these other groups. The problem was that these folks would often respond that we really did not understand their position or were misrepresenting their position. Many Calvinists do likewise, when you present their position properly they respond with: “well you really don’t understand my position” or “you are misrepresenting my position”. The motivation for these kinds of statements is to defend, rationalize and protect their position from challenge.

      Robert

Robert

Charley,

I think I am just about done with you. I took the time to answer your question as to how I could view Calvinists as mistaken while not viewing them as heretics. You ignored everything I said. Didn’t interact with any of it.

And you have the gall to respond with:

“I will ask one question because your response seemed to avoid completely the major thrust of my message. Do you consider it essential doctrine when you affirm that your faith comes from within yourself and is independent of your Lord and Savior? I say that scripture makes it clear that the Lord authored and perfected faith and that my faith comes from Him. Luther says that you have denied Christ when you affirm free will to the exclusion of the free grace of Christ in saving you. The grace of God comes by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ. I consider that essential doctrine. A difference on this matter can result in a difference in eternal destiny. The Lord will not share His glory with another.”

I will not answer your question because your mind is made up and you are so thoroughly committed to the false Calvinistic theology that you view Calvinistic beliefs as essential doctrine. Therefore to disagree with them is to *disagree on essentials* of the Christian faith and be a heretic and be someone who ought to be eliminated from the church. This amounts to the ultimate “us versus them” division with the Calvinists on one side and ALL OTHERS as heretics on the other side. That is quite a divisive stand to take and according to you will result in “A difference on this matter can result in a difference in eternal destiny.”

You display well the same attitude and beliefs as that of your Calvinist predecessors/the Calvinists who persecuted the Remonstrants and Anabaptists. You are completely wrong about all of this, there are many, many genuine believers who are not Calvinists, who are not heretics and should not be eliminated from the church (many of them are in the SBC and some even call themselves Traditionalists).

I just hope others see your views for what they are and use them as motivation to oppose Calvinism in the SBC. Charley you are a very good example of what Calvinism produces.

Robert

Charles D. Blew

Robert,

I just happened to stumble onto your reply; I don’t know why I wasn’t advised of your comment by email. It is probably best that we end our conversation. The Lord must move before either of us sees the light.

I would shake your hand if you were here standing before me. I consider it of utmost significance to know the Lord through His word. Nothing else in our lives ultimately matters. You are important to me so I thank you for giving me the time of day. Let us pray that we will not hang our heads in shame when He comes because we failed to give Him all of the glory.

I consider my question as essential doctrine. I was not surprised that you did not answer it; what are you going to say? You run the risk of differing with scripture and a giant of the faith.

Thanks again, Robert, for your time. I honestly mean that.

Charley

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