Dr. Eric Hankins, 2013 John 3:16 Presentation, Part 1/3

May 28, 2013

Below is a portion of a March 21-22, 2013 John 3:16 Conference presentation.

Read the Baptist Press article about the conference here: http://www.bpnews.net/BPnews.asp?ID=39992

A free e-book containing the 2013 John 3:16 Conference presentations is scheduled to be released at SBC Today on May 30, 2013.

For audio CDs of the 2013 John 3:16 Conference, click the banner below/right.

 

Who Are the Elect?
Eric Hankins, Ph.D.

            Recently, I made my first trip to Israel. It’s hard to describe how powerful it is to see in living color the place where the God who speaks and acts executed His plan to save us all through His chosen people and His Chosen One. It was an utterly providential juxtaposition that I would be in God’s chosen land at the same time I was finishing this lecture on election. In that place so imbued with the words and deeds of the covenant-making God, in that place where the convergence of election and mission whispers through every valley, two fundamental theological realities were radically reinforced. The first was the intensity of God’s passion for covenant relationship with all people. He doggedly engages us in the context of human history and calls us ubiquitously to fellowship with Himself. Unquestionably, this pursuit requires a response of faith from us. What transpires in the interaction and response of men to God matters in the unfolding of His plan. The question that echoed in my head as we travelled from place to place was, “Why would God go through this incredibly complex, incredibly painful process of bringing salvation by faith through the history Israel and her Messiah and His church if, in the end, it is all just ‘sound and fury signifying nothing?’ What purpose is there for putting on this show if the fix were already in without any consideration of our real response to Him?”

There is, however, no question that everything unfolded exactly as God had planned. The outcome was never in doubt, no matter how badly sinners rebelled. From Jeroboam’s sickening temple to Baal in Dan to Yad Vashem, the Holocaust museum in Jerusalem, the capacity for pure evil in the human heart is boundless. Yet, God makes a way, secured ultimately in the person and work of His Son. God’s promises for saving relationship with us have never been in question, but these promises for saving relationship with Him demand a real response of faith.

Second, everywhere I turned, Israel displayed the magnificence of God’s mission to and through that particular and peculiar chosen place for the whole world. Israel is tiny, about the size of New Jersey, and most of it is desert. It has essentially no natural resources, nothing inherently valuable. Even the interesting part is ordinary. The Sea of Galilee is a lake and not a very big one. The Jordan River is a creek. The only real mountain is Hermon. Cities that sound so epic to our ears, Capernaum, Nazareth, Cana, were villages of a few hundred in Jesus’ day. Jesus’ ministry took place in an astoundingly small, astoundingly common place. So, why was I so deeply moved everywhere we went? Why do millions visit from all over the world every year? Because what happened there in that small place of small people through that One Solitary Life was for us all.[1] From the hill where Jesus taught to the hill where He died to the hill where He commissioned, Jesus empowered and taught those unremarkable people that they had been especially selected by God to change the world. Through this tiny postage stamp of a place, through these difficult people, and through One Man, the good news of salvation has gone out to the whole world.

My time in Israel, therefore, reinforced two fundamental realities about election that form the basic premise of this lecture: Whatever our view of election, it is wrong if it means we are not free to respond in faith, because without freedom to respond, covenant relationship is impossible. And, whatever our view of election, it is wrong if it means that salvation is not for every person in the world.

So, who are the elect? The typical, though truncated but not necessarily incorrect, answer is that the elect are those individuals whom God has chosen for eternal life.[2] The doctrine of election emphasizes the utter necessity of God’s initiative in, provision for, and administration of the salvation of sinners. About this, there is little on which to disagree. The question that vexes us is, “What, precisely, does God’s choice of sinners for salvation entail?” While there are a variety of dynamics to this question, I believe the heart of the issue of election for most of us has to do with the nature of God’s foreknowledge of and providential activity in the salvation of free individuals, freedom being an essential aspect of human existence. The Scriptures give us the concept of election, and what is most interesting to us about the concept is that, on some level, it means that God has a certain plan to bring about an individual’s salvation, a plan which must include his responsibility to respond freely. So, the key question of the doctrine of election for our purposes could be put like this, “What precisely is the nature of God’s certain plan to save free individuals?”

Our question of the doctrine election, therefore, is a specific issue within the larger doctrinal category of soteriology. Soteriology asks the question like this: “Who are the saved?” That question has, for Southern Baptists, a simpler answer than the one which I’ve been assigned. “Who are the saved?” The saved are all those who repent and believe in Jesus Christ alone. Therefore, from the outset of this discussion, the critical relevance of the faith-response of individuals to the gospel will be allowed to have its full weight and central significance.[3] When the question of the salvation of individuals is raised in Scripture, the primary biblical answer is “faith,” not “election.” The faith-response of the individual is necessary to his salvation. Calvinists, of course, will exclaim that their view of unconditional election affirms this as well, but, ultimately, they do not mean what I mean, they do not mean what most Southern Baptists mean, and the logical consequences of what they believe actually eviscerate the biblical meaning of faith. Calvinists believe that the faith-response of certain sinners has been determined by God alone. I do not. The only way for a faith-response to be meaningful is if it is free, not determined. I will not hide from the fact that our real freedom is necessary for our salvation. The sovereign God of all things can create any kind of universe He likes. If God wanted a world filled with automatons who always do His bidding (even if the automatons think they are doing what they desire most, though they have no choice over their desires) then He is certainly well-able to have that kind of world. But the Scripture clearly teaches that our ability to choose between revealed, morally-differentiated options is real and that these choices, including our response to the gospel, matter to God. Certainly, this world and human nature have been radically marred by compounding sin, but God continues to call us to covenant relationship through the Spirit and the Word, and our response of faith matters. For it to matter, it must be free. For it to be free, we must be able to do otherwise. Again, I don’t apologize for the significance of human freedom in salvation. God created the world this way because it is the best possible world. Therefore, whatever election means, it must include real freedom. Whoever the elect are, their free response plays a part in their salvation.

Moreover, when the Bible raises the soteriological question, “Who are the saved?” the answer is unequivocally “anyone.” Anyone can be saved. This is in keeping with the central soteriological claim of the Bible: God wants everyone to be saved; therefore, anyone can be saved. Whatever election means, it cannot contradict this central claim.[4] Therefore, from the outset of this discussion, I must state clearly that election cannot mean that God chooses some and not others without respect to their free response of faith. Election cannot mean that only some are saved while the rest are damned for God’s good pleasure alone, having nothing to do with the individual, unless you dispense with the clear teaching of Scripture and its central soteriological claim that God loves everyone and wants everyone to be saved.

The savability of all and the necessity of freedom form some of the crucial boundaries of biblical soteriology and, therefore, they control the meaning of election. Therefore, these two issues are at the crux of the conflict between ourselves and Calvinists. Calvinists do not believe what we believe about freedom or savability. In fact, I want to assert here that they do not believe in freedom or savability at all in the normal sense of the terms but only in the most qualified and, frankly, contradictory sense. This is not about mystery or antinomy or paradox. I am fine with those who want to say that it is a mystery how God is sovereign in salvation and yet we are responsible. But Calvinists are not appealing to mystery; they are appealing to a contradiction. They are saying that God causes the free faith response of sinners. God determines their free choices. Despite the protests of Calvinists (“You are misrepresenting our views! We believe in freedom! We believe that faith matters! We believe in God’s love for all!”), their determinism simply does not work.[5]

Now, I can already hear the protests of Calvinists: In Wayne Grudem’s chapter on election and reprobation in his systematic theology, he anticipates our objections to his doctrine of unconditional election. Non-Calvinists like me raise six problems for which Grudem believes there are simple answers:

 

  1. Unconditional Election means that we do not have a choice to accept Christ.
  2. Unconditional Election means that our choices are not real.
  3. Unconditional Election means that we are robots.
  4. Unconditional Election means that unbelievers never had a chance to believe.
  5. Unconditional Election is unfair.
  6. Unconditional Election contradicts the idea that God desires to save everyone.[6]

 

I agree with Grudem that this is essentially the list of objections. Grudem’s answers, however, to these objections are all the same. He simply assumes that theistic determinism[7] is true. So, (1) God causes us to choose Christ freely. (2) If God says that caused choices are free, that settles it. (3) We are not robots; we are people. But all of our choices are caused by someone else (like robots). (4) Unbelievers do have a chance to believe, but in the deterministic way in which the matter is already settled. (5) Unconditional Election is fair because God can do whatever He wants because He determines everything. (6) God does want to save everyone, but He wants to determine to save only some even more, so He sort of doesn’t want to save everyone. In Grudem’s chapter on providence, he essentially admits that he doesn’t know how God can determine everything and yet not be the cause of evil.[8] He just is not. Again, this is not an appeal to mystery. It is an appeal to what is logically fallacious.

This core difference between us and Calvinists must be constantly kept in mind. The disagreement has no middle ground. There is no mediating position. Either theistic determinism is true and representative of the biblical data concerning salvation or it is not. If it is true then the Calvinists are correct. If it is not, then Calvinism has real problems.[9] The question is whether or not we will grant one another liberty in holding one view or the other. In the past, this liberty was granted, even though real freedom and true savability were the majority view. The peace has been shattered recently, not by us, but by Southern Baptist Calvinists, who aver that our views on soteriology are deficient and outmoded.[10] If that’s the road we are going down, then we are going to respond in kind.

Within these broad soteriological parameters of the freedom and savability of all, we can turn to our specific question of election, “What precisely is the nature of God’s certain plan for the salvation of free individuals?” It is extremely important to note that, while that specific question is of intense interest to us, it is a level of philosophical interest not shared by the authors of Scripture, including Paul. The Bible simply assumes both God’s complete sovereignty over salvation and the reality of human freedom in salvation without offering an explanation as to how both can be simultaneously true. This is not to say that the biblical concept of election does not allude to our question or supply us with some information about and constraints for the answer. But the Bible doesn’t address our question precisely. Election, as we shall see later, functions in the Scripture for different purposes. Our question arises from very specific and post-biblical philosophical concerns about the nature of divine action, divine foreknowledge, freedom, time, and the individual, among other things. While the Bible certainly affirms the reality of all of these things, it does not treat them philosophically or systematically.

An observation made by Alister McGrath about the doctrine of justification in his seminal work Iustitia Dei helps illustrate the point I am trying to make. He notes:

 

The concept of justification and the doctrine of justification must be carefully distinguished. The concept of justification is one of many employed within the Old and New Testaments, particularly the Pauline corpus, to describe God’s saving action toward his people. . . . The doctrine of justification has come to develop a meaning quite independent of its biblical origins, and concerns the means by which man’s relationship to God is established. . . . The ‘doctrine of justification’ has come to bear a meaning within dogmatic theology which is quite independent of its Pauline origins. . . .[11]

 

Now, McGrath is not making the point that the doctrine of justification in its post-biblical development is necessarily wrong; but it is post-biblical, and it is not the equivalent of the meaning of justification in the Bible. When we load that post-biblical development back into the biblical text, however, that is when Paul’s meaning can get distorted. McGrath goes on to relate how certain “accidents of history” (his words, not mine) forged the development of the doctrine that de-coupled it from its biblical meaning. These post-biblical “accidents” are related to the theology of Augustine (who was committed to philosophical determinism[12]) and his particular treatment of the letters of Paul.

I believe the same sort of distinction developed between the concept of election in the Bible and the doctrine of election as it developed after the close of the canon for many of the same reasons, especially those having to with the influence of Augustine’s determinism. The biblical meaning of election is yet another of the manifold ways that the Scriptures (as McGrath says) “describe God’s saving action toward his people.” But the imposition of determinism by Augustine and his attendant redefinition of free will, both of which were intensified in the thinking of Luther and Calvin, resulted in the Reformation’s meaning of election, which, to re-appropriate McGrath, “concerns the means by which man’s relationship to God is established,” a meaning “which is quite independent of its Pauline origins.” The focus on the specific inner-workings of the doctrine of election with respect to the metaphysics of divine and human action moved well-beyond the borders of the biblical data. And because of a commitment to determinism that the authors of Scripture do not share, the Reformed doctrine of election has come to mean God’s determined and unchanging decision to save some and damn others without respect to their free response of faith. When confronted with the plain-sense meaning of the Scriptures that speak of God’s love for and desire to save all by a free response of faith, the theology of Augustine, Luther, Calvin, Beza, and their followers simply trimmed away at the meanings of “love,” “save”, “all,” and “desire,” and “faith” until room was made for its post-biblical determinism. When this distorting determinism is replaced by a view that gives a better account of all the biblical data, those biblical terms can return to their original shape. We will return in a moment to the topic of determinism, but let’s make sure we grasp the significance of the distinction between the biblical meaning of election and the meaning of election as the doctrine developed after Augustine. One of my goals for this presentation is that you would be better equipped to have well-informed and incisive conversations with your Calvinist friends about election. One of the matters you need to establish up front can be introduced in the form of a question: “Are we talking about the meaning of election in the Bible or the meaning of election as defined by Calvinism?” “Are we talking about God’s sovereignty in election or are we talking about theistic determinism in election, because those aren’t the same things?”

Why is this distinction so important? Because Southern Baptists put a premium on the authority of Scripture, and rightly so. Both Southern Baptist Calvinists and Southern Baptist Traditionalists, at the end of the day, want to say what the Bible says about election. Calvinists insist that they are just letting the Bible speak for itself on the matter of election. They assert that they are simply taking the Bible seriously on the matter, even if God’s determination of the damnation of most people without reference to their response of faith is indeed a “horrible decree.” They trot out their central texts, Romans 8 and 9-11, Ephesians 1 and 2, John 6, etc., and say, “How can these verses be understood any other way? God chooses some and not others. His choice has nothing to do with them, and that’s just the way it is.” Then we trot out our verses, John 3:16, 2 Peter 3:9, 1 Timothy 2:4, 1 John 2:2, etc. and say, “God loves everyone and wants everyone to be saved. He would never cause some people to go to hell, and that’s just the way it is.” They have their verses, we have ours, and the debate bounces back and forth with apparently no hope for resolution. Can anything break the tie? Do we just throw up our hands and declare it all to be a “mystery”? I don’t think so. Anytime there is a textual/theological deadlock like this, we must turn, of course, to the issues of hermeneutics and systematic theology. What preconceived notions are we bringing to the texts that could be skewing the way we are reading them? How do we bring together the various texts touching this topic in a coherent way?

Therefore, it must be acknowledged by all comers that our question of the meaning of election, “What precisely is the nature of God’s certain plan to save free individuals” is a post-biblical discussion that requires philosophical and theological speculation and systematic construction. It is a question explored by systematic theology, not biblical theology per se. In fact, our question, to a great degree, runs in the opposite direction of the emphases within the biblical meaning of election. Our question is concerned about decisions God made before the beginning. Biblical election is much more eschatological. Our question is interested in individuals; biblical election is focused on the corporate people of God. Our question treats the moment we became believers in Christ. Biblical election is focused on the total mission of the redemption of the whole world. Our question is interested in what God has done with respect to us with little concern for those who are not elect. Biblical election concerns God’s love and desire to save everyone.

eric_hankins2By Dr. Eric Hankins, pastor
First Baptist Church, Oxford, Miss.


[1]C. S. Lewis, Miracles: A Preliminary Study (New York: MacMillan, 1947), 140-41: “After the knowledge of God had been universally lost or obscured, one man from the whole earth (Abraham) is picked out. He is separated . . . and made an ancestor of a nation who are [sic] to carry the knowledge of the true God. Within this nation a further selection: some die in the desert, some remain behind in Babylon. . . . The process grows narrower and narrower, sharpens at last to one small bright point like the head of a spear. It is a Jewish girl at her prayers. All humanity . . . has narrowed to that.”

[2]Millard Erickson, Christian Theology, 2d ed. (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1998), 921; James Leo Garrett, Jr. Systematic Theology, 2d ed., vol. 2 (North Richland Hills, TX: BIBAL, 2001), 490; Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2000), 670; Kenneth Keathley, “The Doctrine of Salvation” in A Theology for the Church, ed. Daniel L. Akin (Nashville: B&H Academic, 2007), 707; Alister E. McGrath, Christian Theology: An Introduction (Cambridge, MA: Blackwell, 1994), 397-400; Fred Klooster, “Elect, Election,” in Evangelical Dictionary of Theology.

[3]Garrett, 490, says it well: “If election is to be determined as the divine plan or the principle of selection through faith, what God foresees in human individuals must not be inherently meritorious with the result that the free grace of God is denied. If election is to be interpreted as the eternal choice of particular human beings, that choice must not be totally detached from the faith of those human beings.”

[4]Ibid., 472: “The doctrine of election presupposes a personal God who has a saving or redemptive purpose for his human creatures and who is able to work out such a purpose for and among human beings in the created order and within human history.”

[5]Jerry L. Walls, “Why No Classical Theist, Let Alone Orthodox Christian, Should Ever Be A Compatibilist,” Philosopia Christi 13 (2011): 98-99: “. . . theological compatibilists often make claims and engage in rhetoric that naturally lead people to conclude that God loves them and desires their salvation in ways that are surely misleading to all but those trained in the subtleties of Reformed rhetoric. . . . Such language loses all meaning, not to mention all rhetorical force, when we remember that on compatibilist premises God could determine the impenitent to freely repent, but has chosen instead to determine things in such a way that they freely persist in their sins.”

[6]Grudem, 680-84.

[7]Kenneth Keathley, Salvation and Sovereignty: A Molinist Approach (Nashville: B&H, 2010), 65-69.

[8]Grudem, 330.

[9]Dean Zimmerman, “Yet Another Anti-Molinist Argument,” (Rutgers University, accessed November 11, 2012); available at http://fas-philosophy.rutgers.edu/ zimmerman/Anti-Molinist-Arg-Jan-25.pdf : “And increased enthusiasm for Calvinism [while notable in theology] is not detectable within philosophy. It appears to me that most Christian philosophers—including many who, like Nicholas Wolterstorff and Alvin Plantinga, identify closely with Calvinist theological traditions—reject Calvin’s teachings on grace and predestination” (37). Zimmerman argues that the reason for this is that the problem of evil poses such massive philosophical problems for Calvinism.

[10]Collin Hansen, Young, Restless, and Reformed: A Journalists Journey with the New Calvinists (Wheaton: Crossway, 2008), 12: “Reformed theology had recently become a major point of contention in . . . the Southern Baptist Convention.” Cf. pages 69-93. In a section of By His Grace and for His Glory, rev. ed. (Cape Coral, FL: Founder’s Press, 2006), entitled “Opposition in High Places,” Tom Nettles names Adrian Rogers, Jerry Vines, Frank Page, Roy Fish, and Paige Patterson among those who are opponents of the advance of biblically sound theology in SBC life (268-88). Nettles states in a chapter entitled, “A Historical View of the Doctrinal Importance of Calvinism among Baptists” in Calvinism: A Southern Baptist Dialogue, ed. E. Ray Clendenen and Brad J. Waggoner (Nashville: B&H Academic, 2008), “At the same time, one could argue that these commonly held core affirmations are more consistently attested in the Calvinist system, and thus a decline in Calvinism will mean a decline in overall health of the churches” (52).

[11]Alister E. McGrath, Iustitia Dei: A History of the Christian Doctrine of Justification, 2d ed. (New York: Cambridge University, 1998), 2-3.

[12]Katherin A. Rogers, “Augustine’s Compatibilism,” Religious Studies 40:4 (2004), 415. See also, James K. Bielby and Paul R. Eddy, eds. Divine Foreknowledge: Four Views (Downers Grove: IVP, 2001). The chapter on determinism, written by Paul Helm, is called “The Augustinian-Calvinist View.”

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Ron F. Hale

Thank you!

Shane Dodson

“What precisely is the nature of God’s certain plan to save free individuals”

Wrong question.

“Everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin.” (John 8:34)

So what precisely is the nature of God’s certain plan to save ENSLAVED individuals?

    sbcissues

    Shane,

    Here is Dr. Hankins’ full statement: “The Scriptures give us the concept of election, and what is most interesting to us about the concept is that, on some level, it means that God has a certain plan to bring about an individual’s salvation, a plan which must include his responsibility to respond freely. So, the key question of the doctrine of election for our purposes could be put like this, “What precisely is the nature of God’s certain plan to save free individuals?”

    Is it not at least remotely unfair to take one sentence and ignore the former sentence and its context and criticize someone? Obviously “to save” means there is some other issue to “free individual” even in the context of the sentence you highlight but when taken with the sentence before it, it is obvious that the statement refers to “God’s certain plan to save individuals who are given the responsibility to make a response to be saved free of a deterministic effectual decision on God’s part to make that decision for the elect.

    To me your criticism is like Jesus’ admonition of straining to see a gnat and swallowing a camel.

      Shane Dodson

      That doesn’t change the substance of my statement…nor does it overturn the words of Christ.

      “a plan which must include his responsibility to respond freely.”

      A “free” response which is made in accordance with our NATURAL will and nature is to reject God and hate Christ.

      “Those who are in the flesh CANNOT please God.” – Romans 8:8 (emphasis mine)

      Are unregenerate people “in the flesh?”

Norm Miller

It’s not either/or, Shane; it is both/and. — Norm

    Randall Cofield

    Good morning, Norm,

    But isn’t it precisely the freedom of our will that leads directly to our enslavement to sin? Don’t we both believe that all, without exception, have freely chosen to sin–and therefore have become slaves to sin (Jn. 8:34)?

    Hence, God’s purpose to save individuals is a purpose to save not free individuals, but enslaved individuals.

    Right?

    Grace to you, brother.

      Jim P

      Hello Randall,

      But the meaning of free is relative. An enslaved individual can know they are enslaved, be given a choice to be free or remain a slave. He, by God’s grace, the enslaved individual can know he is a slave has the free choice to be free of remain enslaved.

      Jim P.

        Randall Cofield

        Jim P.,

        A will enslaved to sin makes…what kind of choices?

        Grace to you, broher

          Jim P

          Randall,

          In your view can a person enslaved know they are enslaved?

          Jim P

          Randall,

          A person whose will is enslaved to sin can not think?

          Norm Miller

          A will enslaved to sin runs into the burning house of complete strangers and rescues them. Why? — Norm

            Shane Dodson

            “A will enslaved to sin runs into the burning house of complete strangers and rescues them. Why?”

            Read Romans 1:18-20.

            For the same reason they treat sick children…help old ladies across the street…give me a warm greeting, etc.

            They are made in the image of God, have innate knowledge of His existence, and have His law written on their heart.

            Does this suddenly make Christ’s words of no effect?

            NO.

              Norm Miller

              Shane:
              Leaves are green.
              Grass is green.
              Leaves are made of grass.

              Norm Miller

              You mean these words?:
              “Come to me, ALL you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” Mt. 11.28

            Shane Dodson

            “You mean these words?:
            “Come to me, ALL you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” Mt. 11.28”

            No.

            These words…

            “Everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin.” (John 8:34)

            “Shane:
            Leaves are green.
            Grass is green.
            Leaves are made of grass.”

            And this addresses my response to you…how, exactly?

              Norm Miller

              My farcical syllogism was illustrative of those I have read from Calvinists. — Norm

      Norm Miller

      Boiling it down, Randall, Shane’s comment is derived from his position (and maybe yours, too) that total depravity means total inability. I reject the latter. Slaves to sin. Sure. But free enough to choose to respond to God. That’s why I say, both/and. — Norm

      PS Been missing you here. Good to see you back.

        Randall Cofield

        Thanks, Norm. Been a busy few weeks, but glad to be back.

        Yeah, it all hinges on the “total” in total depravity, doesn’t it?

        I genuinely struggle with attributing the ability to please God to creatures possessed of a sin-nature and enslaved to sin. (cf. He. 11:6; Jn. 3:19; Jer. 13:23; 17:9; 31:31-35; Ge. 6:5; Job 15:14-16; Ps. 51:5; Ps. 53:1-3; Mt. 15:18-20; Ro. 3:10-19; 8:5-8; 1 Co. 1:18; 2:14)

        Grace to you, brother

          Norm Miller

          I don’t reject these passages at all. However, the *ability* to respond to God, either positively or negatively, is my point. I say a fallen man whose spiritual attention God gets has the choice to respond of his own free choice. Calvinists’ *total* inability is contra my position.
          As previously noted, Dr. Allen cited about a dozen passages demonstrating fallen unregenerates choosing to respond to God.
          But Calvinists *must* hold to this ‘slave’ (total inability) position because it is a linchpin to so much of the rest of their system.
          Also, I resonate with Robert’s observation that the ‘slave’ word was employed because it was culturally understood. NT slaves could choose certain aspects of their lives. Even in slavery, they could choose how much to eat, when they would go to sleep, etc.
          Admittedly, Randall, we will not convince each of the other’s position. — Norm

            Johnathan Pritchett

            1. People are slaves to sin, wretched, totally wicked.

            2. Therefore, they can not freely accept God’s grace in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.

            That is a non-sequitur.

            1. Those in the flesh can not please God (Rom. 8:8)

            2. Accepting Jesus Christ pleases God.

            3. Therefore, those in the flesh can not accept Jesus Christ.

            This one is logically valid at least, but the problem is premise 1 from Romans 8:8

            The problem is that Romans 8:8 has a context. This “pleasing God” that can not be done in the flesh is in regards to God’s law, which in Romans, is Torah, which even Romans 8:1-7 makes obvious, or even starting back as far as, assuming you agree with me and Reformed theologians such as N.T. Wright, and if you hate him, then Robert Reymond, on who the “I” is in Romans 7:7 onward through the end of the chapter, there, plus Romans 1:1-7:6 as well. I mean, come on…Sheesh…and I thought Calvinists were big on exegesis.

            Anyway, it does not mean that they can not freely respond to grace and accept Jesus Christ, which is of grace, not law…which is like a HUGE point in the book of Romans…

            Just saying…

            Randall Cofield

            Jonathan,

            Taking one’s position and shaping it like a wax nose to arrive at a “non-sequitur”…my, my… :-)

            Try this:

            1. People are slaves to sin, wretched, totally wicked.

            2. God is infinitely holy and righteous

            3. Therefore, wretched, totally wicked sin-slaves will not “choose” to “freely accept” that which condemns them.

            Also, no problem with premise one concerning Ro. 8:8. The Torah anticipates the NT command to repent and believe on Lord Jesus with the command to love the Lord your God with all your heart, etc…

            And 8:8 is third person plural–not sure how the “I” of 7:7 changes that…

            Grace to you, brother.

            Johnathan Pritchett

            “Try this:

            1. People are slaves to sin, wretched, totally wicked.

            2. God is infinitely holy and righteous

            3. Therefore, wretched, totally wicked sin-slaves will not “choose” to “freely accept” that which condemns them.”

            Well, this is still a non-sequitur. The conclusion doesn’t follow from the premises, and essentially the same wax nose as before.

            “Also, no problem with premise one concerning Ro. 8:8. The Torah anticipates the NT command to repent and believe on Lord Jesus with the command to love the Lord your God with all your heart, etc…”

            Sure, but that isn’t what Paul is talking about. Paul is talking about those in the flesh unable to please God via Torah observance. I.e. works of the law, in the flesh. Faith is not that (Romans 4:5)

            “And 8:8 is third person plural–not sure how the “I” of 7:7 changes that…”

            You missed the point. The issue is the same, in that those in the flesh can not please God according to Torah. The proper interpretation of the “I” is the person in the flesh. Grammar is irrelevant to the point I am making.

            Johnathan Pritchett

            It is also worth noting that your conclusion is contra Romans 1:21-23, in which the direct response to those verses is 1:24, 26, and 28b. In order for your conclusion to be Biblical, you have to put 1:24, 26, and 28b, or something else, prior to verse 21.

            It is pretty clear people choose to freely accept that which condemns them. They knew God, but did not…

            That’s on them, not God, not some mere influence, not even their sinful nature, but their free choice. Natures and influences don’t do things, persons do things.

            Before you accuse me of offering an incomplete definition of the Reformed understanding of “free will”, I haven’t forgotten that it includes people acting consistent with their nature.

            But this too is problematic. Only a perfect being can act perfectly consistently with their own nature. Only God can do that.

            Given the fact that unregenerate people, being made in the image of God, can sometimes (often times even) make morally correct choices, they do not perfectly act in accordance to and consistent with their sinful nature. That these inconsistencies in the morally correct choices merits them nothing before God is totally besides the point here. The point is that the Reformed understanding of free will is deeply flawed, and implies a type of perfect consistency unobtainable by creatures.

            More to the point, the Bible supports my refutation of Reformed definitions of free will. In Romans 7:7-25, if you properly understand the “I” to be the unregenerate person like Reformed theologians Robert Reymond, N.T. Wright, others, and myself do.

            Romans 7:15-18:

            “For I do not understand what I am doing, because I do not practice what I want to do, but I do what I hate. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree with the law that it is good. So now I am no longer the one doing it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my flesh. For the desire to do what is good is with me, but there is no ability to do it.”

            This flatly contradicts the understanding of free will by Reformed theologians. Sometimes people do not act according to their wants and desires, as this passage clearly states…

    sbcissues

    Randall,

    Please see my comment to Shane above.

    Shane Dodson

    I’ll posit a question I just asked of someone else to you, Norm.

    According to Romans 8:8, those who are “in the flesh CANNOT please God.”

    Are the unregenerate “in the flesh?”

      Norm Miller

      Shane:
      Cherries are red.
      Blood is red.
      So, blood comes from cherries. — Norm

        Shane Dodson

        Are the unregenerate “in the flesh?”

          wingedfooted1

          Shane,

          You mean like Cornelius and Lydia prior to hearing the gospel?

          Johnathan Pritchett

          Yes.

          But, see my response above on this, and put this bad eisegetical argument to rest please.

          Thanks.

      wingedfooted1

      Romans 8:7-8….
      Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

      Brother Shane,

      Paul is saying that man cannot please God by keeping His laws. The Law kills.

        Shane Dodson

        While it is true that man cannot earn his salvation through keeping the Law, that is not what the text says, wingedfoot.

        Is repentance and faith in Jesus Christ “pleasing to God?”

          wingedfooted1

          “While it is true that man cannot earn his salvation through keeping the Law, that is not what the text says, wingedfoot”

          Wow.

            Johnathan Pritchett

            Snap, you beat me to it. I was thinking the same thing and posted this above before looking down a bit to see you cover this. My bad.

            Obviously, Shane has no regard for the context of Romans. The “can’t please God” for those in the flesh is clearly pleasing God with regards to the law, which in Romans is clearly Torah. This goes all the way back to Romans 7:7 onward to make this point clear.

            This is clearly what the text says, means, implies, states, etc.

            Shane Dodson

            “Obviously, Shane has no regard for the context of Romans. The “can’t please God” for those in the flesh is clearly pleasing God with regards to the law, which in Romans is clearly Torah. This goes all the way back to Romans 7:7 onward to make this point clear.”

            No, the context is the carnal (natural) man and his inability to be pleasing to God.

            Why is it that the carnal man is incapable of keeping God’s Law but IS capable of pleasing God through humbling himself, repenting of his sin, and placing the entirety of his faith in Christ?

            Johnathan Pritchett

            “No, the context is the carnal (natural) man and his inability to be pleasing to God.”

            No. The context is that those in the flesh can not please God via Torah observance. If you can’t see that, there is no more discussion. I mean, if verse 8:7, aside from the rest of what comes before it hasn’t made that clear to you, then I don’t know what will. You will just have to live your life misreading Scripture.

            “Why is it that the carnal man is incapable of keeping God’s Law but IS capable of pleasing God through humbling himself, repenting of his sin, and placing the entirety of his faith in Christ?”

            Grace.

JB

Romans 9, God chooses. It’s the most clear passage on election. Paul explains it in great detail. God chooses based on his sovereign pleasure and not on anything that man does. Thats it.

    Mary

    Romans 9 is very clear and it very clearly does not support the Calvinists view on election. And that is it.

      Shane Dodson

      “Romans 9 is very clear and it very clearly does not support the Calvinists view on election. And that is it.”

      Very bold assertion, Mary…but without any argument.

      “So then it (election) depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy.” (Rom 9:16)

      How does that NOT clearly support a view favoring God’s freedom to elect whom He will?

        Norm Miller

        Elected to salvation or service?
        Abraham was elected to serve, and his choice to obey and believe God was counted unto him as righteousness. — Norm

          Shane Dodson

          So, Jacob was elected to “service” and Pharaoh was “hardened” from “service?”

            Norm Miller

            Hardly makes the case, pal. — Norm

            Shane Dodson

            You’re the one attempting to “make the case” about service, friend.

            Are you going to answer my question?

            Johnathan Pritchett

            More horrendous eisegetical pish-posh from Shane.

            One of the key points in Romans 9 is to deny the unBiblical doctrine of unconditional election. The fact that Pharaoh is typology for the unrepentant Israel is obvious of that. Israel was elect, remember? That does not mean God must grant unbelieving Israel mercy simply because they were elect for the purpose of being the people through whom the Messiah would come according to the flesh (Romans 9:5).

            Please read Romans 9 in context, and understand what it is talking about.

            Do you even know what Romans 9:16 means in regards to God’s mercy, willing, and running? Have you ever read Exodus, especially chapters 32-34?

            Who do you think “the one” willing and running is in this verse?

            Johnathan Pritchett

            NOTE, This sentence: “One of the key points in Romans 9 is to deny the unBiblical doctrine of unconditional election.”

            Should read: “One of the key points in Romans 9 is to deny the unBiblical doctrine of unconditional election TO SALVATION.”

            Thanks.

          Kevin Fralick

          Hi Norm,

          Here’s hoping that this comment doesn’t go all the way to the bottom as it has in the past.

          Really enjoy the dialogue on this site. Correct me if I misunderstand, but are you saying that God reserves the right, per your view of Romans 9, to unconditionally elect men to temporal affairs (service) but either does not or cannot do so with respect to matters pertaining to salvation? If so, why do you not face the same difficulty in answering how God could force Abraham to be that of the Jewish nation for example, or Paul to be the chosen vessel that he was? Why not check with them first? Maybe they didn’t want to. Why not allow their free-will or rule the day in these cases as well? Does not the expression “prepared unto glory” in verse 23 show that the scope of Paul’s argument go beyond mere service?

          Blessings.

            Norm Miller

            My only point, Kevin, was that God outlined a plan for Abraham — a plan to serve God. However, the service is not what gained salvation for Abraham, it was that he believed God. God challenged the man, and the man responded in faith. — Norm

            Johnathan Pritchett

            Kevin,

            We need to read on through verse 24 and not forget everything before it either. The clay here, of course, is Israel. A distinction in Israel has already been made as far back as 9:6. In verse 24, Paul throws in the Gentiles as well. So, obviously, God endures unbelieving Israel for a purpose. Nothing in these passages pertains to individual election to salvation. What it involves is people groups. Gentiles, plus believing Jews headed for glory, but unbelieving Israel fitting themselves for destruction, and God using that, in fact, enduring that with patience (which ALSO has a purpose per Romans 2:4…all believers are “ready for destruction” in a salvific sense, including you and me at one time if we go that route a la Ephesians 2:1-3), for the gain of others.

            I guess I just don’t follow your argument. This still has to do with service, since unbelieving Israel still has a purpose in this sense.

        Mary

        I don’t have to make any argument. I just get to make declaratory statements the way you and other Calvinists constantly do.

        But if you were actually interested in how Traditionalist exegete Romans 9 the information is out there. Since you seem to only be here to make it seem like we are all a bunch of simpletons who don’t read the Bible I doubt you are actually interested in the Traditionalist exegesis. You want to score points. You are not here to dialogue so it’s a waste of time to try to engage with Calvinists who make declaratory statements about Romans 9 as if people who reject Calvinism are dumb and/or haven’t read their Bibles.

          Shane Dodson

          “You are not here to dialogue…”

          Why are you being judgmental?

            Norm Miller

            There is a diff between being judgmental and making an observation. And then there is making an accusation. I find that problematic. — Norm

            Mary

            Uhh judging based on the way that you post here. Most of your posts demonstrate that you either have not even read the original Op Ed are you clearly have no understanding of the positions being offered and yet you drive by with what you think are smart one liners. None of your posts show that you seek understanding of a view different than yours – it’s the usual arrogant Calvinist attitude you think you know what’s being presented even though your questions demonstrate you don’t know at all. And you show no evidence that you want to understand.

Scott Moneyham

Regardless of ones position on the Calvinist or Traditional spectrum. No one should ever bring up the idea of what is “fair.” If we received what was “fair,” we would all be in hell without any hope. “Fair” is not a concept that ought to enter into the discussion of salvation. I am glad I have not received what was “fair.”

    Mary

    The question of “fair” is a question of can God be less than who He is. It’s not the fight between siblings because one got a bigger piece of cake. It’s the question of can God be less than a “fair” God or can God be less than a “just” God. When we talk about concepts such as fairness and justness it goes to the heart of who does the Bible say God is. It’s not anything to do with what humans deserve or don’t deserve – it’s about who God is.

      Scott Moneyham

      God is never unfair and is always better than fair when dealing with man. Many who have trouble with election do so because they think God is not acting fairly if He does not let man have a say. When it comes to election no man is old enough to vote.

    Jim P

    But Scott,

    The view you state confronts the very claim Scripture proclaims, “To demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.”

    To say we ought not enter into the discussion of fair says to ignore God’s own revelation of His justice and grace that brings men to repentance and faith.

      Scott Moneyham

      see above

Donald

JB, this has been answered. Consider the linked chapel message by Dr. Malcolm Yarnell Sept 30, 2009 @ SWBTS:

http://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/dr.-malcolm-yarnell-iii/id129063219?i=62107344

    Johnathan Pritchett

    That was a very, very good presentation by Dr. Yarnell.

    Despite a few minor exegetical quibbles I have with it, I really enjoyed that presentation overall. One of the better Trad treatments of the passage.

volfan007

VEry good insight, as always, Dr. Hankins. Thank you for expressing this issue in such a clear, precise way.

Money quote of this article: “Despite the protests of Calvinists (“You are misrepresenting our views! We believe in freedom! We believe that faith matters! We believe in God’s love for all!”), their determinism simply does not work.”

David

Mary

I’m kinda wrestling with this statement by Dr. Hankins:

” The sovereign God of all things can create any kind of universe He likes.”

God can’t be less than who He is – so could God have created an “unfair” or “unjust” universe? But perhaps the key is the two words “He likes” God would not be able to “like” anything that was not just and not fair. So does the doctrine of Unconditional Election fit with who God is? I think the overwhelming evidence the Bible gives us is that no Unconditional Election is not who God is so that thought should drive our exegesis. Seems to me that’s where people make mistakes when reading Scripture – they don’t start with the whole counsel of Scripture that shows us who God is and then fit sections of Scripture into that Biblical revelation of God.

    J Vernon

    This is a part of Hankins problem. Even in his understanding of God, God knowingly created a plan of salvation that would end with people spending eternity in hell. He has and is creating individuals who He knows before He creates them that they will choose Him. Why would a loving God do this? It would seem that He would only create those He knows beforehand who will freely choose Him.

Norm Miller

Precisely, Mary. As a career writer/journalist, I know about bias. I read it. I have it. For one to say he has no bias is a biased statement.

Therefore, one of the most difficult things is to approach the Scripture w/o our biases. Be one a Trad or a Cal, we tend to read verses according to our biases. But we need to lay aside our biases as best we can so God’s Word (and not men’s) may speak to us.

By the time I had ever heard of Calvinism and it tenets, I had read the Bible through several times. But when I heard of C’ism, I found it extremely repugnant, and contrary to the God of the Bible I had read and studied on my own for more than a decade.

You also touch on another point that I believe is illustrated in the life of former Calvinist Ronnie Rogers. Not until he laid aside man-generated theology (Luther’s ‘Bondage’ and Calvin’s ‘Institutes,’ e.g.) and their theologized musings about soteriology, and then studied what the Bible and the Bible alone said about salvation did Pastor Rogers arrive at the truth that Calvinism has some “disquieting realities” that caused him to reject Calvinism.

Pastor Rogers is one who became a Calvinist and then rejected it. Among other aspects, he had the humility to reject a system into which he was so heavily invested.

If there were no Calvin to coax people, I suspect there would be far fewer Calvinists on the planet or in history. — Norm

    Randall Cofield

    Norm,

    By the time I had ever heard of Calvinism and it tenets, I had read the Bible through several times. But when I heard of C’ism, I found it extremely repugnant, and contrary to the God of the Bible I had read and studied on my own for more than a decade.

    Me too!! Except I had studied on my own for almost two decades….

    :-)

    sbcissues

    Same here Randall; 23 years before someone sent me some little book about calvinism being explained to someone from a third party perspective. I may still have that little book; paper back not very long. All I could do was read with my mouth open… I could not believe that anyone actually believed that stuff; I see I was certainly wrong on that one.

volfan007

Whether to remain a slave, or not….

David

    Shane Dodson

    “Whether to remain a slave, or not…”

    That’s entirely up to the Master.

    As if you could please God while in the flesh, anyway. (Rom 8:8)

      Norm Miller

      “Entirely” up to the Master?
      More determinism.
      Not surprised. — Norm

        Shane Dodson

        NOT entirely up to God?

        More synergism.

        Not surprised.

          Norm Miller

          “Choose you this day whom you will serve.”

            Shane Dodson

            “Choose you this day whom you will serve.”

            Are we through discussing texts that actually focus upon election?

            Okay, then.

            Quote the verse in its entirety before you use that a proof text for synergism.

            ” And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

            So the “choice” was between two sets of idols.

            I won’t ask you which one you think Arminians are choosing.

            :-)

              Norm Miller

              The point is this: Why would God tell those who cannot choose to choose? As Mary noted, there are many such passages of appeal. A call to salvation presupposes a response to it.
              I suspect, Shane, that our dialog is fruitless.
              Despite your insulting insinuation that I am an Arminian, you will never convince me of your positions. Calvin was a murderer. Not my kind of guy. Luther was a grog-swilling racist. Again, not my kind of guy.

            Mary

            This is again, Norm, going to the point of reading the whole counsel of Scripture. When you read the Bible as a whole you are bombarded with God instructing people to make a choice. And He even gives them the consequences of choosing this way or that. Romans 9 talks about the potter – go back to the passage in Jeremiah where that’s pulled from and read the whole thing – if Israel does this than this and if Israel does that than that.

            wingedfooted1

            Luke 7:30…..
            But the Pharisees and the experts in the law rejected God’s purpose for themselves, because they had not been baptized by John.

            Acts 13:36…..
            Then Paul and Barnabas grew bold and said, “It was necessary that the word of God should be spoken to you first; but since you reject it, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, behold, we turn to the Gentiles.”

            Shane Dodson

            “The point is this: Why would God tell those who cannot choose to choose?”

            Read the text again.

            The “choice” was not a choice at all. It was a “choice” made within the depraved nature/will of man.

              Norm Miller

              The last phrase of the verse was in my view:
              “But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.”
              So, did Joshua ‘choose’ to serve the Lord?

            Mary

            Norm, I think a big disconnect between Calvinism and Non is the question of what is faith. Calvinists treat faith as just another work – they’ll say they don’t but they do because it’s something that God has to enable you to do. As a Traditionalist I understand that left to myself there is nothing good I can do – I am a slave to sin – but God reaches out to us and because Depravity does not equal Total Inability we are able to respond in faith – which is not a work. Faith is more than or less than a work but is not the same thing as works. And then Calvinists misunderstand that it is not faith which causes our salvation but it is God’s acceptance of faith – He stamps the account paid in full by the blood of Christ that saves us. Salvation is all on the side of God. But faith is not a work so when Calvinists pull the verses of slave to sin they are actually trying to treat faith as a work.

            Shane Dodson

            “The last phrase of the verse was in my view:
            “But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.”
            So, did Joshua ‘choose’ to serve the Lord?”

            How could that be in your view since you quoted the first part of that verse?

              Norm Miller

              Yes, I should have been more accurate. The entire verse was in view, actually, and I assumed you would get that. My bad.
              So, since Joshua was telling others to choose, and then indicated his own choice, I still ask you, did Joshua ‘choose’ to serve the Lord? — Norm

            Robert Magee

            Norm,
            I guess King David is not your kind of guy since he was a murderer as well. We see true believers in the early church of Acts struggling with racial tensions in their heart in regards to the gospel. By the way, Calvin also as a pastor risked his life to share the gospel with people who were suffering from the plague.

          Shane Dodson

          “go back to the passage in Jeremiah where that’s pulled from”

          It’s not pulled from Jeremiah. It’s pulled from Joshua.

          And the context has nothing to do with election.

          It’s a sloppy case of proof texting. Read the verse in its entirety.

            wingedfooted1

            Romans 11:28…..
            “Concerning the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but concerning the election they are beloved for the sake of the fathers.”

            Brother Shane,

            Does this verse deal with election?

            And by the way, I am not a synergist (nor arminian). I believe the new birth is solely a divine work of God.

            Grace

            Mary

            Again you must not have read what is written – I referenced the potter in Romans 9:20 which is taken from Jeremiah 18. And yes I know a Calvinist declares sloppy proof texting and that just must makes it so.

            Shane Dodson

            “Again you must not have read what is written – I referenced the potter in Romans 9:20 which is taken from Jeremiah 18.”

            My misunderstanding. I apologize.

            Lydia

            “By the way, Calvin also as a pastor risked his life to share the gospel with people who were suffering from the plague.”

            Oh dear, you should read outside your mongeristic history sources. This is not true at all. In fact, the opposite is true.

            “In 1543, after the plague struck Geneva, Sebastian Castellio was the only divine in Geneva to visit the sick and console the dying; the Geneva Consistory and Calvin himself refused to visit the sick, Calvin directing his servants to declare him “indispensable” and later writing in his own defense that “it would not do to weaken the whole Church in order to help a part of it.”[

            Zweig, Stefan (1951). Erasmus; The Right to Heresy: Castellio against Calvin. London: Cassell. p. 234

            You might also want to read do some digging as there is some very interesting information in the many letters Calvin wrote that help us connect historical dots. The man was a deceptive cruel tyrants. Lots of folks have tried to rewrite the history of Calvin and his Geneva.

Norm Miller

You mean we have a choice, David? — Norm

volfan007

Well, here it goes, again…lol….this comment was supposed to be under Randall Cofield’s comment on May 28 at 11:29 am….I’m not sure why it went to the bottom of the comment thread, where it looks weird and strange….lol.

David

Mary

Norm, for me I think it is so important to work at reading through the whole Bible continually because keeping in mind the whole Bible or as we say the whole counsel of Scripture is the key to interpreting any Scripture. I know I’ve been guilty in the past of hanging out in the Bible at favorite places – but as I’ve really put a focus on also reading the Bible as a whole I find those favorite places become even more meaningful and I gain new insight.

Peter Lumpkins has a similar testimony to Dr. Rogers of putting aside Calvinism – I think he was preaching through the Bible when things started looking differently for him.

I’ve wondered and I’ve not seen this idea articulated much so maybe some of the more scholarly at a place like Truett would know if my wonderings have any merit – but in the history of the US it seems like when the churches were controlled by the more scholarly – people from Princeton etc. Calvinism was more generally accepted. As the country grew and people spread out and were away from the scholars and all they had was the Bible and the Holy Spirit it seems like this is when we see the movement away from Calvinism. I’ve seen written, heard said that Calvinism has to be taught. Most of the people I know who are Calvinists didn’t just come to Calvinism reading the Bible but had some Calvinist somewhere tell them what exactly passages like Romans 9 means. And of course I’ll be bombarded with I just read the Bible and found Calvinism, but it seems like most of the time the people who claim they used to think like I do (and they actually didn’t think like I do they were wrong then because they used to think they sought God on their own) that those people had an experience where a Calvinist got hold of them.

    Norm Miller

    Not sure who or what initially influenced Calvin. Obviously, some will say the Bible. But what motivated him? Perhaps a desire to reconcile the tension between sovereignty and responsibility? I don’t know.
    But like millions across time and the planet, the Bible doesn’t influence me the way it did Calvin, nor in the way it now influences Calvinists.
    However, I agree with you that, most Calvinists are made by other Calvinists, and not through a solo study of the Bible. Former Calvinists Rogers and Lumpkins prove that.

    If Calvinism is the “it thing,” then why are there far more Roman Catholics in Geneva than Calvinists? — Norm

      Mary

      I don’t know history as well as I should. Wasn’t Calvin influenced heavily by Luther and Augustine? I know there are some historians who can make the links from where Calvin built his ideas.

      I first came across Calvinism way back when I was in youth group and a youth leader unbeknownst to the leaders of the church started pushing it heavily – he was gone pretty quickly. I knew nothing about nothing ( I know less now I’m sure) but I knew in my heart that this just wasn’t right. I couldn’t explain the passages in Ephesians and Romans but everything within me just rejected this idea I would later learn was called unconditional election. I realize now that the church I was at had given me a pretty good grounding of who God is and what is His nature so I think that was my reason for rejecting this teaching – this wasn’t the God I knew. Providentially God hooked me up with a wonderful nonCal husband or I’d be in serious trouble today.

      Shane Dodson

      “Former Calvinists Rogers and Lumpkins prove that.”

      And what do former Arminians (like myself) prove, Norm?

      Let me guess…it’s NOT the same thing that the existence of “former Calvinists” prove, right?

      smh…

        Norm Miller

        So there are only two options?

        Like most, if not all Cals, it appears you think one must be either a Cal or an Arminian. This is reflective of the fault of the LifeWay survey that offered only those two choices.

        I am a Christian first, and a Southern Baptist second. Happy to say I am neither a Calvinist or Arminian.

        If you want to further identify yourself with the one who approved the murder of Servetus (and others) and who believes that God creates people for hell for his good pleasure, and who believes that God is the author of evil, go ahead. — Norm

          Shane Dodson

          And now we’ve come to lighting up the strawmen.

          If you want to identify yourself with those who believe that God lacks the freedom to save whom He will…go ahead.

          See how fun this type of argumentation is?

          :-)

            Norm Miller

            What part of what I said do you reject?
            If you are a Calvinist, then you must embrace his double-predestination.
            To bear the moniker Calvinist is to bear all the baggage unless you are willing to reject that baggage. But instead, you falsely charged me with erecting a strawman when I rather suspect I have accurately pegged you. If I have not, then denounce double-predestination. Denounce the murder of Sertvetus.

            Shane Dodson

            The Servetus claim is actually not a “strawman” but a red herring.

            “To bear the moniker Calvinist is to bear all the baggage unless you are willing to reject that baggage.”

            No…to bear the moniker Calvinist is to believe what the Bible teaches concerning God’s freedom to save whom He will.

            “is to bear all the baggage.”

            What “baggage?” The “baggage” YOU have placed on the term? I am under no logical obligation to bear anything of the sort.

              Norm Miller

              If you call yourself a Calvinist, one may fairly surmise that you embrace what Calvin wrote, did and believed, and therefore deem you as such — unless and until you reject the murder of Servetus and double-predestination. — Norm

            Mary

            “No…to bear the moniker Calvinist is to believe what the Bible teaches concerning God’s freedom to save whom He will.”

            I reject Calvinism with every fiber of my being but I believe what the Bible teaches concerning God’s freedom to save whom He will.

            Johnathan Pritchett

            “If you want to identify yourself with those who believe that God lacks the freedom to save whom He will…go ahead.”

            I smell poo on this one.

            We believe God has the freedom to save whom He wants to save. We believe He will save those who believe in Jesus and freely chose to do so.

            Certainly you affirm that as well. How it comes to be the case a person believes in Jesus is where much of the disagreement lies, but this kind of nonsense above should just be deleted.

          Mary

          See Norm, I would have just played the “you were never really an Arminian card” which is how Calvinists treat men like Rogers and Lumpkins – they couldn’t have ever been Calvinists if they reject Calvinism because once you’ve graduated to the University of Election you can’t go back to grammar school.

          I think too though Shane won’t get this, but Calvinist are really having a hard time with this idea that there could possibly be people who are not Calvinist, Arminian or heretics because that’s the only thoughts they have in their theological boxes. So you can’t really have a conversation with those types of people until you can get them to think outside their box. First they would have to acknowledge that there are actually things they don’t know which they are unwilling to do and so they stay playing around with the straw in their boxes. You have to want to learn to be able to learn. Most of the Calvinists on the internet are entrenched – they own all definitions of all things theological and you have to play on their field. They cannot dialogue with people who refuse to play the game by their rules. There are few Calvinist exceptions out there, but not many.

            Lydia

            “The Servetus claim is actually not a “strawman” but a red herring.”

            True. Strawmen burn faster and Calvin ordered “green wood” for Servetus.

          Christian

          Who was in charge of the Lifeway survey? It shows a lack of basic knowledge of our Baptist beliefs. And also would give false data. Was this the purpose perhaps?

Jim P

Norm,

This is just a suggested answer to your, what motivated Calvin. It is Augustine and the Church fathers. I heard some reformed teachers ‘almost expressed’ equality with the church fathers and scripture.

J Vernon

Will we have a nature that will allow us to choose to sin or not sin in the eternal state? If not, will we be robots? How free will we be? Does that freedom imply that we must have a nature that is subject to sin and not to sin in the new heavens and the new earth?

Lydia

Mary, I was attracted to Calvinism years back because I thought it was the answer to so much evil I saw in Christian leadership.

But i am also a student of history and when reading the Gospels I could not lay aside a nagging problem with the premise of Calvinism. if we are “elected” before the foundation of the world, then Jesus was doing a bait and switch ministry. How could he go around telling all people to repent and believe when the truth was that had already been decided before Adam sinned?

I realize that is peasant thinking to the psuedo intellectualism of Calvinism but there we are….

Here is another question I had. If Calvinism is true and monsters who molest children are going to be elected….why not make sure their election is in effect before they ruin lives? If God is controlling every molecule and election has been decided before Adam sinned, one has to ask this….

    Mary

    Lydia, the peasants aren’t supposed to ask questions. That’s why you frequently see/hear – you don’t understand Calvinism. It’s best if we just sit and allow the high priests to teach us. After all it’s not Priesthood of the Believer anymore but Priesthood of believers. We’re supposed to be believers under a Priest.

    I wonder what would happen if someone in Houston said we need to fix that there error in the BFM back to the Priesthood of the Believer?

    Robert Magee

    Lydia,
    Do you believe their are molecules or anything else that is not under the control of God?

      Lydia

      Sorry Robert, I don’t play the “frame the debate” game anymore. The question, for me, is not “whether” God can control everything. But, IS He controlling every molecule 24/7

        Robert Magee

        Well, is He? I was simple responding to your statement above.

          Lydia

          Robert, This statement?

          “If Calvinism is true and monsters who molest children are going to be elected….why not make sure their election is in effect before they ruin lives? If God is controlling every molecule and election has been decided before Adam sinned, one has to ask this….”

          I believe child molesters molest of their own free will– even the ones who claim to be long time professing Christians and groom children at church.

          And I think Christian leaders who protect the molesters and refuse to report the crime to the “ungodly” government do so of their own free will.

          No, I do not think God foreordained those corrupted molecules in Christians to do such things. I won’t give God the credit for that.

      Johnathan Pritchett

      “Lydia,
      Do you believe their are molecules or anything else that is not under the control of God?”

      I am not Lydia, and I am not a Calvinist, but I don’t believe there is anything not under the control of God. God is sovereign, everything is under His control and rule.

      What this has to do with the price of tea in China or this discussion here is somewhat confusing.

        Robert Magee

        Johnathan,
        The only reason I asked that of Lydia is that originally she said,
        “If Calvinism is true and monsters who molest children are going to be elected….why not make sure their election is in effect before they ruin lives? If God is controlling every molecule and election has been decided before Adam sinned, one has to ask this….”.

        Now, I might be wrong and if so I will apologize, but my impression from her statement was God is not in control of every molecule. That if He is sovereign to the point of being in control of every molecule, then God should be saving this child molesters before they wickedly and sinfully molest a child. I conclude from this that she believes that these type of things happen because God ultimately does not have the say in when a person gets saved. If He did, the salvation would have occurred first preventing the molestation. I am sure Lydia will want to respond and I hope she does because if I concluded wrongly I will want to acknowledge that.

          Lydia

          I conclude from this that she believes that these type of things happen because God ultimately does not have the say in when a person gets saved. If He did, the salvation would have occurred first preventing the molestation. ”

          I don’t understand, Robert. I was actually going along with your view that only GOD chooses…man has no part…. so why not elect the molester BEFORE he molest children if he is going to be elected anyway and God knew it before the foundation of the world or before Adam even sinned? If the molester has no participation in salvation. and becomes one of the elect, then why not elect him before he molests?

          I was looking at it from a Calvinist point of view. Your doctrine teaches we are chosen before creation or before Adam even sinned and have no part in it at all. I am trying to figure out how that also works for long time professing Christian (elected) child molesters and those long time Christian leaders (elected) who protect them from “ungodly” government criminal charges.

          How does something like that work in Calvinism? Do they remain totally depraved after being elected and get a pass because they are “elected”?

          Would this be akin to what some Calvinists say somehow God gets Glory from?

            Shane Dodson

            “I don’t understand, Robert. I was actually going along with your view that only GOD chooses…man has no part…. so why not elect the molester BEFORE he molest children if he is going to be elected anyway and God knew it before the foundation of the world or before Adam even sinned? If the molester has no participation in salvation. and becomes one of the elect, then why not elect him before he molests?”

            Election doesn’t take place within the construct of time, so your question “why not elect the molester BEFORE he molests children” doesn’t make sense given the worldview you’re attempting to “go along” with.

            “Your doctrine teaches we are chosen before creation”

            “so why not elect the molester BEFORE he molests children”

            See the disconnect?

            Lydia

            ‘See the disconnect?”

            No, I don’t. Must be because I lack a decoder ring or some “special knowledge”.

            Actually, I think “constructs of time”, as you term it, arguments do not help Calvinism.. But that is a whole other subject that is huge. And one us mere humans can bat around as we have the leisure to do so. :o).

    Robert Magee

    Lydia,
    Do you believe that Jesus knew that Israel, His own people, would reject Him when He offered Himself and the kingdom to them? Was His gracious offer a boat and switch?

      Robert Magee

      Sorry, meant to say “bait and switch”

      Lydia

      “Do you believe that Jesus knew that Israel, His own people, would reject Him when He offered Himself and the kingdom to them?”

      Not every single Israelite rejected Him. So you cannot possibly be referring to individual election, could you? You must be thinking of corporate election. :o)

        Robert Magee

        You didn’t answer the question? Did he know and still make the offer?

          Lydia

          Robert, do you have kids? Just because you know they will do something does not mean you force or coerce them to do it. It simply means you really do KNOW them.

          What I won’t do is tell my children to do something I already know they can’t do because I made it impossible before they were born to do it. :o) That would be cruel.

            Shane Dodson

            “What I won’t do is tell my children to do something I already know they can’t do because I made it impossible before they were born to do it. :o) That would be cruel.”

            You mean like God commanding His people to obey His moral law (exlempified in the Ten Commandments) KNOWING that it is impossible to keep those laws perfectly?

            You would argue that God is “cruel” on that basis?

              Norm Miller

              Shane:
              While I am sure Lydia can fend for herself, I would ask that, when you “reframe” someone’s position, you do it accurately.
              Thank you. — Norm

            Lydia

            Yes, thanks Norm. Since we are humans our filter for understanding is always going to be human unless we are Piper. :o)

            So, what Shane is suggesting is that before I had children, i decided that to make myself look really powerful and glorfiy myself, I would make sure they sin big time. (Remember, I am only doing this so I can look powerful. As they have no choice, really)

            . Then I would give them some rules to live by that I knew they were incapable of following so I could show my wrath.. And I would do this all so I can be totally in control and powerful.

            The determinist mama.

            All of this would work if they were robots and automans but they aren’t. And then there is the whole Satan problem. Did he have free will? Does he roam this earth today? And then we have another consideration with the New Covenant and the indwelling Holy Spirit promised to believers, etc, etc.

            My problem is that I see your determinst god paradigm as a short walk over to Allah. I realize that others don’t and think there can be unity under the determinist god umbrella. I think that doctrine impugns God character ignoring ALL of His attributes and especially His glorious HESED for all.

            Shane Dodson

            “And I would do this all so I can be totally in control and powerful.”

            You say that as though it’s a bad thing.

            :-)

            lydiasellerofpurple

            And I would do this all so I can be totally in control and powerful.”

            You say that as though it’s a bad thing.

            :-)”

            Shane, To want to be totally in control of other people is not good for anyone and most especially for the one who wants to be in control of others.

            That is not a love relationship. There can be no real love relationship in such a determinist set up. And that is where Calvinism is a giant fail. It lacks love.

      Jim P

      Robert,

      Jesus knew Israel would reject Him because they already proved in their History they did not want God. He know not because of election He knew because He was pure in His relationship with God iand saw they were not.

Stephen Garrett

Dear Dr. Hankins:

If being an “automaton” means one cannot choose the opposite, as you say, then you either have to affirm that saints in glory will either become automatons or else have the power to choose to sin and lose their position in heaven. How am I wrong to conclude this?

Blessings,

Stephen Garrett

wingedfooted1

The words “elect” or “election” only appear 27 times in the KJV.

“Who are the Elect?”

Here’s a novel idea….

Why not just go to those verses and see who the “elect” are?

The word “elect” only appears 4 times in the OT. Perhaps that is a good place to start.

Isaiah 42:1
Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles.

Isaiah 45:4
For Jacob my servant’s sake, and Israel mine elect, I have even called thee by thy name: I have surnamed thee, though thou hast not known me.

Isaiah 65:9
And I will bring forth a seed out of Jacob, and out of Judah an inheritor of my mountains: and mine elect shall inherit it, and my servants shall dwell there.

Isaiah 65:22
They shall not build, and another inhabit; they shall not plant, and another eat: for as the days of a tree are the days of my people, and mine elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands.

Grace

Donald

It means that Arminianism isn’t the “it thing”, either.

volfan007

Shane,

This comment is supposed to go under your comment made on May 28 at 2:25 pm….most of the time, my comments made in response end up going to the bottom of the comment thread for unbeknownst reason….anyhoo….of course, no flesh can please God…we cannot earn our way to God thru good works….but, that has nothing to do with repentance and faith…repentance and faith are responses to the calling and the convicting of the Holy Spirit…they are not works of the flesh….

Wingedfoot is absolutely right.

David

volfan007

Shane,

This comment is supposed to be under your comment made on May 28 at 12:55 pm…I imagine it will end up going to the bottom like my other ones do…

Anyhoo…Pharoah hardened his own heart, before God hardened his heart…..and, God this could even mean that God actually coming against Pharoah was causing Pharoah to harden his heart….you know, that God was going against what Pharoah wanted… and God was sending plagues….and he turned away from God, and God hardened his heart, or caused his heart to be hard….

Anyay, we dont have to read fatalistic determinism into the Bible….cause, it’s not there….it is in Augustinian philosophy, but it’s not in the Bible.

David

Robert

I just want to make note of the fact that both Jesus and Paul use the analogy of being “slaves”. They were using an analogy. Some (usuallyy calvinists) fail to note this. So they take the analogy literally. In the first century if you were a slave, you had a slave master and that slave master had a name. There was no slave master in the first century named “sin” who everybody knew their name was “sin”. So both Jesus and Paul are not talking about a literal human person who was a slave master of all nonChristians. So what were they talking about then? They used a common figure that people in the first century were very familiar with (a slave and his/her slave master who told them what to do). What both Jesus and Paul are gettting at is that the nonbeliever live lives that are characterized by sin, not by obedience to God, not by following the true God. Instead they were idolaters (cf. Romans 1) who all worshipped all sorts of things rather than the true God. That being true it looked as if they were slaves of a slave owner named “sin” and hence the analogy used by both Jesus and Paul. One of the ways when interpreting the bible that you can know that the language is figurative not to be taken completely literally is to ask simple questions. Was there a slave master named “sin” operating in the first century world? No. Did nonbelievers hear “sin” giving them verbal commands of what they should do or not do? No. So it is figurative language. Unfortunately some talk as if there really was a slave owner named “sin” who owned all nonbelievers and commanded them about what they should do or not do. It should be noted that even in the New Testament we have clear instances that show slaves did not always obey their masters (e.g. the book of Philemon is about a runaway slave who most certainly was not listening to his master, in Romans 6 Paul says believers are slaves of righteousness, do we always do the right thing and always obey righteousness?).

Robert

    Lydia

    Thanks Robert. Great explanation. The taking of analogies and metaphors too far, gets old. Somtimes I think it is all about being “passionate” and “shocking” as in you are physically dead. Too much Piper, I suspect.

    Jim P

    Excellent Point. There are so many metaphors used in the bible. When a metaphor is taken to extreme the truth becomes distorted.

    Johnathan Pritchett

    Word up…It is like the “dead” metaphor, also in Romans 6. We are “dead to sin” as well, but we still sin. If “dead can’t do anything”, how is it possible Christians sin?

    Pushing metaphors beyond their intent never goes well…in fact, in many cases in the Empire, it was better to be a slave in certain households than a free peasant. Obviously, being a slave to righteousness, a slave of Christ, etc. communicates this notion as well. The same can’t be said about being a slave to sin in a Christian context though. So…

    The point is that we ought not push metaphors too far in any direction, or give them a eisegetical load they can’t carry.

      Randall Cofield

      Hi Jonathan,

      At the same time, we shouldn’t neuter biblical metaphors and strip them of all meaning. :-)

      To be “dead in trespasses and sins” means, at the very least that one is void of spiritual life–and therefore completely unable to attain such life.

      Likewise, to be a “slave to sin” means, at the very least that such a one is not free, but under the command of another–and therefore completely unable to liberate themselves (the above reference to their ability to “disobey” notwithstanding).

      I mean, do we really think Jesus meant that “he who sins is a slave to sin…unless, of course, he chooses to free himself”?!

      If the metaphors of “slavery” and “death” do not communicate inability, they are really meaningless in their respective textual settings.

      We both know that the statement by Dr. Hankins to which all of this is a response is weighted with the baggage of presupposed libertarian free will. The Trad position is predicated upon a freedom of will uninfluenced by the foreordination of God and capable, from within itself, of rising above the constraints of a fallen nature.

      Choice arises from the will. The will is, by its very nature, sinful and a slave to sin (at least according to Jesus). Likewise, the fallen will is dead (in trespasses and sin) to the spiritual life that is in God.

      Neither of us (you or I) has ever made a single choice that was uninfluenced**–and the innate influence behind every choice you and I made as unregenerate men was that to which we were slaves–namely, sin. Hence, libertarian free will is a myth.

      An alien influence (one from outside our fallen natures) was necessary for us to “choose” Christ. This influence upon our wills at the very least consisted of 1] an alien and absolute conviction of sin, 2] a super-natural revelation of the alone-righteousness of Christ, 3] a convincing certainty of judgment. Simultaneously, we were 4] born from above, remedying our deadness to the life that is in God, and were thereby 5] made new creatures, liberated from the slavery of sin.

      Only by the operation of these alien influences upon our fallen wills were we made “willing” to believe.

      You guys call that determinism. I call it amazing grace, for ’twas grace that caused my heart to fear…and grace my fear relieved. How precious did that grace appear the hour I first believed!

      Grace to you, brother.

      **God alone makes choices uninfluenced by anything outside of the perfection of Himself.

        Johnathan Pritchett

        “If the metaphors of “slavery” and “death” do not communicate inability, they are really meaningless in their respective textual settings.”

        Do you sin? If so, then yada, yada, yada to the rest of your post.

        “Neither of us (you or I) has ever made a single choice that was uninfluenced**–and the innate influence behind every choice you and I made as unregenerate men was that to which we were slaves–namely, sin. Hence, libertarian free will is a myth. ”

        You are on a roll with non-sequiturs. Seriously, at the very least, an unregenerate person can freely choose between sins. In any case, influence doesn’t entail total control over choices people make. They influence them, they not determine them.

        Being a slave to sin does not mean one can not freely accept the grace of liberation extended to him any more than a slave to righteousness can not freely accept the temptation to slop extended to him. Being unregenerate, we can respond to grace just as much as being regenerate we can respond to slop.

        I didn’t know that the Reformed were into Wesleyan perfectionism, but that is where one must go for death and slavery to equal total inability. Since you aren’t into that, and can’t consistently apply these metaphors, I see no reason to think you are understanding the Scriptures properly on this point.

        In any case, none of this has a hill of beans to do with libertarianism and choosing between options.

        Robert

        Randall you wrote:

        “At the same time, we shouldn’t neuter biblical metaphors and strip them of all meaning. :-)”

        No one is stripping them of ALL meaning here. Rejecting your false Calvinistic interpretation of a biblical analogy does not mean the phrase “slave to sin” has no meaning. It means the nonbeliever lives a lifestyle that is characterized by sin: he/she lives as if they had a slave master telling them to sin. But in reality there is no such person. “sin” being personified as a slave master does not make sin an actual person who owns and commands nonbelievers.

        Randall you also wrote:

        “Likewise, to be a “slave to sin” means, at the very least that such a one is not free, but under the command of another–and therefore completely unable to liberate themselves (the above reference to their ability to “disobey” notwithstanding).”

        You again make the same error, you say here that “the slave to sin” metaphor means that such a one is not free, but under the command of another”.

        What person is commanding the nonbeliever to sin?

        There is none.

        What person who was supposedly commanding nonbelievers to sin was named “sin”?

        There is no such person.

        By your statement here you show that you don’t get it, you intentionally refuse to acknowledge that you are taking the metaphor literally (as if there was an actual person, an actual slave owner named “sin commanding people to do things).

        There is also an assumption in your thinking that is completely unwarranted and false. The assumption is this: that slaves always obey their masters. Human slaves did not always obey their masters, as I already pointed out and you conveniently and I am sure intentionally ignored: the book of Philemon concerns a run a way slave who was not obeying his master. The apostle Paul when writing to actual slaves tells them to obey their masters, as if they could disobey them. Paul also says of believers that we are slaves of righteousness and yet we don’t always obey righteousness. So your assumption that slaves always obey their masters is false. You take the “slave to sin” metaphor literally as if “sin” is actually commanding nonbelievers. You also assume that slaves always obey their masters so you combine these two thoughts to arrive at your conclusion that nonbelievers are always sinning and incapable of ever doing the right thing. If you are called on this false notion you then resort to a theological fiction (i.e. that when nonbelievers do something right it is due to the “common grace” of God, a phrase absent from the Bible and invented by Calvinist theologians).

        “I mean, do we really think Jesus meant that “he who sins is a slave to sin…unless, of course, he chooses to free himself”?!”

        Jesus meant that a nonbeliever could only be “released” from his sinful lifestyle by the power of God. We do not believe that nonbelievers can “free themselves” from their sinful lifestyle by their own efforts alone or without the aid of the Holy Spirit.

        “If the metaphors of “slavery” and “death” do not communicate inability, they are really meaningless in their respective textual settings.”

        Not at all, they are quite meaningful for Jesus and Paul and that is why they are used by the Biblical writers.

        Your problem Randall is that according to you, these metaphors either mean inability (your position) or they cannot mean anything else. Here you present a clear example of the logical fallacy of false dilemma (either this or that, as if no other reasonable or correct views are possible).

        The slavery metaphor is a great picture of the nonbeliever’s lifestyle, one in which they live as if they were under a slave owner named “sin”. The death metaphor refers to separation (separation from God =spiritual death, eternal separation = the second death). Both of these metaphors are very useful in conveying spiritual truths. They just don’t convey things you want conveyed. So you read in your meanings into the metaphors (eisegesis) instead of properly interpreting these metaphors.

        Robert

          Randall Cofield

          Robert,

          First, let me thank you for the courtesy of addressing me in the first person.

          That being said….

          – You are still ascribing motive without knowledge
          – You are still ascribing some rather offensive labels

          I’d be happy to dialogue with you, but I wrestle with the temptation to respond in kind–and I am on a much shorter leash here than you are.

          Grace to you, brother. I am not your enemy.

            Norm Miller

            Randall:
            You are right!
            Oh, how it pains me to say that ;^>
            Seriously, you are no one’s enemy here. You are my brother, and I am happy to say that.
            I have come to deeply appreciate your measured tones and commentary.
            Pointed? Yes. But not slice-n-dice. Exemplary to us all!! — Norm

            Randall Cofield

            Norm,

            You are right!
            Oh, how it pains me to say that ;^>

            Put some ointment on it and call me in the morning. :-)

            In all seriousness, I appreciate your patience with me. You sharpened me as a brother in Christ, and for that I am grateful.

            You planning on being in Houston?

              Norm Miller

              Yes for Houston. Will be covering Huckabee’s message for Baptist Press. Also will be at our college exhibit. — Norm

            Johnathan Pritchett

            Randall, I have no problem saying you, or any Calvinists for that matter, are right when you are right, and a lot of times I agree with you guys on other issues. It doesn’t hurt me at all to say so. I go to a (semi) Reformed SBC church after all. The pastor (my best friend) and some of the congregation are Reformed anyway, but aren’t into excluding people like me since it isn’t a divisive issue in that particular church. My main mentor/professor at Biola is a Calvinist as well.

            Contrary to popular opinion, Biola is probably more Reformed than Molinist. The philosophy department at Biola is mainly where the Molinist profs hang out, and the Talbot School of Theology is mainly where the Calvinist profs hang out, with few exceptions in both, and the Apologetics program gets a mix of both kinds professors from those departments in the curriculum. Biola should be the model of theological cooperation for the SBC in my opinion.

            I have a lot more in common with many Calvinists, once away from the soteriological issues, than I do with my fellow Traditionalists, and, as you should know from following this blog, I am the first to protest when some of my fellow Trads want to widen the scope of the Traditionalism moniker to include firm stances on other doctrines besides soteriology.

            Heck, I just got my thesis topic approved for my masters program today. Given my topic, which is the Biblical defense of the role of triumphalism (a dirty word in Apologetic circles) in apologetics, so far in my research, it’s just me arm and arm with long-dead Calvinists, and a scarce few living ones on this one.

            So be it. :)

            Randall Cofield

            Jonathan,

            In this hyper-pluralistic culture triumphalism isn’t just a dirty word in apologetic circles!

            Excellent topic, and I would love to read your thesis when you are done.

            Grace to you, brother.

Donald

“No…to bear the moniker Calvinist is to believe what the Bible teaches concerning God’s freedom to save whom He will.”

…and this is when you realize that it is waste of time to continue the conversation.

    Norm Miller

    Agreed, Donald. Circular reasoning encompasses a closed mind. — Norm

      Mary

      And how much time would be saved if we just listen to Mary.

rhutchin

Dr. Hankins writes:

“… the Reformed doctrine of election has come to mean God’s determined and unchanging decision to save some and damn others…” which is good but then he adds, “…without respect to their free response of faith,” which is false.

“[Calvinists] assert that they are simply taking the Bible seriously on the matter, even if God’s determination of the damnation of most people…is indeed a “horrible decree.” But he inserts, ‘…without reference to their response of faith…” into the middle.

If Dr. Hankins believes this about Calvinism, then he is arguing against something that is not Calvinism. Calvinism is clear on this point: the free response of faith by depraved individuals is to reject Christ because the gospel is foolishness to the Greeks and a stumbling block to the Jews. This outcome requires that God personally intervene to draw people to Christ else none would be saved.

David R. Brumbelow

Eric Hankins,

Great information. Thanks for taking the time to do the research. Hope this finds it’s way into a book soon.
David R. Brumbelow

    Norm Miller

    David:
    Ask and ye shall receive. All of the John 3.16 Conference presentations will be available in a free e-book. We had planned to release is tomorrow, but in anticipation of the Friday release of the report from Dr. Frank Page’s “Calvinism” committee, we are holding the e-book for one more week. — Norm

Robert Magee

The free will of man is a primary emphasis in Hankins understanding about salvation. He even ties in man’s free will as an “essential aspect of human existence.” This quote is taken from the statement that reads “I believe the heart of the issue of election for most of us has to do with the nature of God’s foreknowledge of and providential activity in the salvation of free individuals, freedom being an essential aspect of human existence.” He goes on to say elsewhere in regards to our response of faith that “For it to matter, it must be free. For it to be free, we must be able to do otherwise. Again, I don’t apologize for the significance of human freedom in salvation. God created the world this way because it is the best possible world.”

As I consider this idea Hankins is putting forward that an essential part of human existence is having the ability, having the freedom to do what is right or what is wrong (to believe or not believe, to love and obey Christ or not to love and obey Christ) and that this kind of world where mankind has this freedom is the best possible world, it makes me think of eternal state. Will we not still be just as human in the eternal state as we are now? Changed? yes! glorified humanity? Yes. Able to sin? I don’t think so. But I don’t see how that fits in Hankins idea that an essential part of human existence is having the ability to sin or not sin. In my glorified humanity, I will not have the ability to sin but still will always wantingly and willfully without coercion love the Lord, serve the Lord, and worship the Lord. Yet, I will not be any less human in eternity than I am now. My response will not be robotic and it will not be less meaningful because by my nature I will always desire to love Christ. Furthermore, the new heavens and the new earth with the New Jerusalem, where glorified saints of God from all nations will worship and serve the Lord God in perfection will be the best possible created world.

    Jim P

    A couple comments Robert,

    Our identities become what we give our allegiance to. Whether to sin or to God. Rom. 6:7 says he who has died is free from sin. As we put to death the deeds of the Flesh and live to God our Identities become like the One who we give our allegiance to. Like the One who has no shadow of turning or sin which God has determined ends in death.

    Some thoughts

Randall Cofield

Jonathan,

Do you sin? If so, then yada, yada, yada to the rest of your post.

The difference is I am a freed son, no longer enslaved to sin. Jesus was not addressing the regenerate in Jn. 8:34.

You are on a roll with non-sequiturs. Seriously, at the very least, an unregenerate person can freely choose between sins. In any case, influence doesn’t entail total control over choices people make. They influence them, they not determine them.

Not sure how unregenerate persons being able to “freely choose between sins” makes my position a non-sequitur. No one moves God-ward without external influence.

I didn’t know that the Reformed were into Wesleyan perfectionism, but that is where one must go for death and slavery to equal total inability.

Now there’s a non-sequitur. :-)

Let us dispense with the pejorative language, shall we?

Grace to you, brother.

    Johnathan Pritchett

    Not at all a non-sequitur. If you followed my responses, you’d understand what I meant. If you think the metaphors of “dead” and “slave” imply some sort of “total inability”, then a consistent interpretation of “dead to sin” and “slave of righteousness” or “slave of Christ” to also imply total inability. Hence, Wesleyan Perfectionism. Since we both reject that, I can safely deduce that you misunderstand the metaphors and do not consistently understand or interpret them.

Scott Moneyham

God is never unfair and is always better than fair when dealing with man. Men want to reject election because they see it as unfair if they do not have an equal part. When it comes to election no man is old enough to vote.

Robert

Robert Magee seems to think that the capacity to have and make choices (what most people simply refer to as free will) is not important. I think this is both mistaken and out of touch with most Christian theology throughout church history (i.e. Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox and Protestants have agreed that being made in the image of God is an extremely important reality of human nature: and being made in the image includes having the rational ability to have and make our own choices and to choose to worship the true God over all others, in order to worship the true God over others a person must be capable of both making their own choices and prioritizing between alternative possibilities, which requires what is ordinarily called free will.

In regards to the eternal state we will not lose the reality of being made in the image of God which also means we will not lose our ability to have and make our own choices. The difference between our condition now and then includes our being perfected, our no longer having to deal with “the world, the flesh and the devil”, our being in an environemt where there is no sin and no temptation to sin. In other words, while we will retain our capacity to have and make our own choices, our range of choices will not include sin. So we will retain free will and yet be incapable of sinning. God is in fact a very good example of this. God certainly has free will and yet certain things like lying, denying himsellf and sinning are not within his range of choices. just because God cannot lie it does not logically follow that he therefore no longer ever experiences free will. Just because something is not within an individuals range of choices it does not follow that they no longer have free will.

Robert

    Robert Magee

    Robert,
    Thanks for interacting with my post. I was attempting to interact with Dr. Hankins comments where he said

    ” The sovereign God of all things can create any kind of universe He likes. If God wanted a world filled with automatons who always do His bidding (even if the automatons think they are doing what they desire most, though they have no choice over their desires) then He is certainly well-able to have that kind of world. But the Scripture clearly teaches that our ability to choose between revealed, morally-differentiated options is real and that these choices, including our response to the gospel, matter to God. Certainly, this world and human nature have been radically marred by compounding sin, but God continues to call us to covenant relationship through the Spirit and the Word, and our response of faith matters. For it to matter, it must be free. For it to be free, we must be able to do otherwise.”

    As I thought about the eternal state, God will have created a new heavens and new earth where people always willfully choose to do His bidding as they are doing what they most desire, what they will only desire. There will be no competing desires (sinful desires – heart, flesh, Satan, world). Thus, there will be no alternative possibilities by which one has to prioritize their choices or choose to worship God over others.

    I understood him to be saying that for our choices to believe in God, love God, serve God, worship God to be free and matter, the person must be able to do otherwise. Yet, as you rightly said in your post above, we will be incapable of sinning. I take that to mean we will “not be able to do otherwise.” We will not be able to sin. It will not be in our range of choices because it will not be something we will be capable of doing in our glorified, perfected state. (How I look forward to this day when the struggle with sin will be over and I always love and obey Christ perfectly.) Yet, Dr, Hankins seems to be saying that for our will to be free, we must have the ability to choose something other than faith and love in Christ.

    Grace in Christ!

      Robert

      Robert Magee wrote:

      “As I thought about the eternal state, God will have created a new heavens and new earth where people always willfully choose to do His bidding as they are doing what they most desire, what they will only desire.”

      But that does not mean that they will never ever have choices. To have free will as ordinarily understood one need only have choices where you could pick this or that. And both choices could be good choices. For example say I and a friend are deciding which restaurant to go to for lunch (we are considering two restaurants, one BBQ the other Mexican, both have good food, we know Christians who work at both places so we can say hello to them, the prices are about the same). Either choice is good, neither is sinful or evil. Our choices are not always between something good and something evil. Sometimes our choices are between two good things neither of which is evil.

      “There will be no competing desires (sinful desires – heart, flesh, Satan, world). Thus, there will be no alternative possibilities by which one has to prioritize their choices or choose to worship God over others.”

      In this world we have to prioritize one God, the true God over all other gods. In order to do so we must have free will and the capacity to rationally consider two differing options (and both the capacity to have and make our own choices and the capacity to reason about them are both possible due to the fact we are made in the image of God: and again free will is part of being made in the image of God). In the next world we the choice to give into the flesh, or listen to Satan or be influenced by the world system will no longer be part of our range of choices. But it does not follow that we will no longer have free will, no longer ever have and make our own choices.

      “I understood him to be saying that for our choices to believe in God, love God, serve God, worship God to be free and matter, the person must be able to do otherwise.”

      True, in order to have a genuine choice, there must be at least two differing alternative possibilities, both which are available to us, accessible to us, that we could choose either one. If you never have a choice you are not acting freely. In order to be acting freely as a personal agent there must be alternative possibilities. If you do not have alternative possibilities, if you cannot do otherwise, than you have what one Calvinist called “a choiceless choice” (that is both humorous and incoherent at the same time! :-)).

      “Yet, as you rightly said in your post above, we will be incapable of sinning. I take that to mean we will “not be able to do otherwise.””
      You are mistaken here.

      We will be incapable of sinning because sinful choices will not be within our range of choices.

      But not having sinful choices within our range of choices is not the same as saying we will not be able to do otherwise.

      For a genuine choice to be present we have to be able to do otherwise (i.e. choose this or that).

      Again God Himself provides the best example of the nature of libertarian free will. God has choices, has free will, his actions are not controlled by another person, not coerced, his actions are not necessitated by antecedent causes, he can do otherwise (e.g. he created the world but he also could have done otherwise and freely not created the world). And God cannot lie or deny himself and yet he has free will and can do otherwise when he has a choice.

      “We will not be able to sin. It will not be in our range of choices because it will not be something we will be capable of doing in our glorified, perfected state. (How I look forward to this day when the struggle with sin will be over and I always love and obey Christ perfectly.)”

      Amen to that we should all look forward to that day!

      “Yet, Dr, Hankins seems to be saying that for our will to be free, we must have the ability to choose something other than faith and love in Christ.”

      And he is correct if we are discussing the choice to choose to have faith in Christ, that particular choice is only done freely if we both could choose to have faith in Christ or choose not to have faith in Christ.

      Another area you might want to consider where the nature of free will and having choices is pretty obvious in the Bible is the area of Christian liberty. The apostle Paul spoke on this topic and repeatedly and said that we may face a situation where we have a choice to do A or B (and either choice is acceptable, either choice is doable, neither choice is inherently sinful) and yet we ought to prefer one choice over another (though we have the right and the ability to do either alternative possibility.

      Robert

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