Dr. Tommy Green Tells SBC Today Why He Signed the Statement on Salvation

June 18, 2012


Dr. Green is Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church of Brandon, Florida, and has served as President of the Florida Baptist Convention and Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Southern Seminary.


In an interview with SBCToday.com, Florida pastor Dr. Tommy Green related why he signed “A Statement of the Traditional Southern Baptist Understanding of God’s Plan of Salvation.”

“First of all, I signed the statement not because of any political or divisive reasons. Nor did I affix my signature in an effort to be argumentative or elitist,” said Green, pastor of FBC Brandon, Fla.

Green also serves on the Florida Baptist Convention’s State Board of Missions, is former president of the Florida Baptist Convention, and has concluded in 2012 two consecutive terms as a trustee of Southern Baptist Seminary, Louisville, Ky., where he served as chairman for two years.

“I signed the statement because I believe it is representative of biblical salvation,” Green said. “It is consistent with my preaching, my teaching, and my personal faith and practice in ministry as I understand the Scripture, and is also consistent with the leadership I try to exert as a pastor.”

Green said he “taught through the statement” for his congregation because “I believe that, if a pastor would affix his name to the statement, then his church needs to be aware of the its contents.”

“I received tremendous affirmation from our congregation,” he said. “Our people affirmed, ‘This is who we are as a congregation.’”

Green said he hopes the statement will evoke, in a “loving manner,” a conversation among Southern Baptists: “I hope we realize that, though we may not all have the exact same understanding of biblical salvation, we all believe that salvation comes only through Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior.”

Having recently returned from a mission trip to Haiti, Green said, “I preached in evangelistic crusades, stood before people of a different culture with a totally different frame of reference of life. Through an interpreter, I read the Word of God, proclaimed the truth, and then extended an invitation call for people to come to Jesus Christ. And to see individuals stepping forward and confessing Jesus Christ as their Lord through repentance and faith is an affirmation that the Gospel is for all, and that Jesus died on the cross for the sins of all men.”

“I do believe that the Gospel is a ‘whosoever’ message – ‘whenever, wherever’ – but it is not a ‘however’ message,” he said. “Salvation comes only though a faith relationship with Jesus Christ. The exclusivity of the Gospel must be at the forefront of our mission.”

Green said Southern Baptists’ “strongest position will be when we are Gospel-centered, and are exalting Jesus Christ in word and deed, and keeping our focus on evangelism and missions, as well as unifying our efforts as we cooperatively give resources to extend the message of salvation in Jesus Christ alone to the ends of the earth.”

“If this statement enhances and extends the priority of the Gospel, then I rejoice,” Green concluded. “I trust that we will not allow our differences to be a hindrance to the spread of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”

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selahV-hariette

Great interview. Especially like

“I do believe that the Gospel is a ‘whosoever’ message – ‘whenever, wherever’ – but it is not a ‘however’ message,” he said.”

I also like his reasoning for signing the statement. It’s what he preaches. Amen. selahV

Darryl Hill

I respect his reasoning as well. Seems he’s interested in the same thing I would love to see result from all this- a stronger than ever commitment to the Gospel and a convention unified by our agreement while strengthened by our diversity.

Randy Huckabee

Great word from Tommy and he is dead on in his desire to be clear in his convictions. He represents my response so well. Thanks for being willing to speak truth in love for that is who we should be.

Josh Bishop

The issue I have with this “Traditional” view is that it, in every line, misrepresents the opposing view. Even in this interview Dr. Green misrepresents the position of the, (What I and others like; Dr. Nettles, Dr. Ascol, Dr. Mohler, etc, would dub as the…) “Historical Baptist Position”. To imply that the “Historical Baptists”, or as some like to call us Calvinists, believe that the Gospel is not for all people is a rank distortion of our position. Paul said that the gospel is for all men, Jesus said go into all the world, but the same Paul and the same Jesus also said things like; “many are called but few are chosen” and “Those whom He foreknew he also predestined…”. (Mt. 22:14 & Rom. 8:29)

Because the Historical view says Jesus has limited the atonement to those whom He foreknew in no way implies that the gospel is not to be preached to all men. C.H. Spurgeon, the “Prince of Preachers” as he was known, was not only a baptist, but also a Calvinist. He told his congregation that, “…if the elect of God had a yellow stripe running down their back, I would go across London lifting shirt tails…”. The reason for this statement was to point out the fact that we don’t know who will or who will not come when we share Christ, and that is why the gospel must be preached indiscriminately.

A.W. Tozer said this, “Salvation is from our side a choice, from the divine side it is a seizing upon, an apprehending, a conquest by the Most High God. Our “accepting” and “willing” are reactions rather than actions. The right of determination must always remain with God.” The choice to repent and believe is a real choice, it is however not the action of a sinner, but rather a reaction to the effectual wooing of Spirit. To whom does God call effectually? No one knows, that’s why we ought to echo with Richard Baxter, “I preached as never sure to preach again and as a dying man to dying men.” (Baxter, also Reformed…)

The CONVERSATION needs to happen, but it seems no one is allowing the other side to speak for itself.

    Bob Hadley

    Josh,

    The CONVERSATION needs to happen, but it seems no one is allowing the other side to speak for itself.

    You are more than welcome to speak for yourself and for your position. This is the purpose of this forum and your participation is welcome. Understand misrepresentation is an easy charge to assert and much more difficult to prove. It is no longer going to be so easy to just make a statement implying one thing and meaning another.

    I will make a comment on the following statement that you made: To imply that the “Historical Baptists”, or as some like to call us Calvinists, believe that the Gospel is not for all people is a rank distortion of our position. Paul said that the gospel is for all men, Jesus said go into all the world, but the same Paul and the same Jesus also said things like; “many are called but few are chosen” and “Those whom He foreknew he also predestined…”. (Mt. 22:14 & Rom. 8:29)

    There is a pronounced difference in saying that “the gospel is available to all men” and then in the next breath saying “the Historical view says Jesus has limited the atonement to those whom He foreknew in no way implies that the gospel is not to be preached to all men. ” You see we believe the gospel has the power to save all men. We are saying much more than we are simply to preach to all men and God effectually calls whom He will call to salvation. That is the difference that we are debating.

    So, misrepresention can be offered in a number of contexts; it is one thing for someone else to misrepresent you it is another to misrepresent your own position in light of what is actually being said.

    One final comment. This statement by referring to a Traditional Baptist statement in no was even remotely asserts an notion of exclusion of calvinists in the history of the SBC. This statement is no more inflammatory than the calvinist insistence on historical baptists that you claim. Both have valid arguments of acceptance and for the Traditional to exclude the calvinists is no different than the argument that the historical is exclusively calvinist.

    You preach the gospel indiscriminately because you do not know who God is going to pluck up out of the clutches of hell; I preach the same gospel to everyone who hears of God’s love and provisions and promises and by faith and repentance respond and are converted. God does all the saving in BOTH positions and for that I am and will continue to be eternally grateful.

    I just don’t want the former influence in the entities of the SBC.

    ><>”

      Darryl Hill

      Bob, the influence isn’t going away. 30% of seminary graduates align with some form of Calvinism. Could it be a work of God? I think it is. What if you find yourself opposing God’s work? Is it possible that Calvinists don’t have it all right, but God wants the influence there because the “traditionalists” are in need of the balance? Could be… :-)

      My thought: learn to work together. If I’m willing to work with you, though I disagree with you, could you not offer the same grace to me?

        Don Johnson

        Darryl,

        I’ll assume for the sake of arguement you are a 5 pointer. If that is correct, could you tell any and everyone that Jesus died for them? Or would you somehow qualify the statement to fit your belief in “limited atonement?

          Les

          Don,

          I can’t speak for Darryl, but I am fully Reformed and I will not look a person in the eyes in a gospel conversation and tell them that God loves them and that Jesus died to pay for their sins. I simply do not know the mind of God with respect every individual I come in contact with.

          Those of us who are fully Reformed do not believe that Jesus actually paid for the sins of the non-elect. It’s that simple. We also, therefore, do not know if God savingly loves them.

          So what would I say? Just what the bible says.

          “…that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost,” and you are a sinner as well. “The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent” and “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.”

          That’s what I do say.

          Darryl Hill

          Don, I don’t like labels too much, but I do agree with a true understanding of those 5 points.

          I do not even attempt to determine in any way who in the room is elect or not. I preach to all the same Gospel. I will say what the Scripture teaches, that man is sinful and justly deserves death but that Jesus Christ died so that anyone who believes in Him will never perish but have eternal life. I will tell them that the command of the Gospel is to repent and believe. If there is a difference between what I do and what some others might do, I will usually ask the people if God is at work within them. I might say, “As you have heard the Gospel, have you become aware that God is calling out to you to repent of your sins and trust in Jesus Christ? If so, repent of your sins and believe. I would love to talk to you about these things further.”

          I do not believe it is wise to simply assume God is at work and then declare people to be saved. I do not believe it is wise to receive someone on the spot with no further counsel and baptize them without any further examination. I certainly do not believe it is Scriptural to have someone repeat a prayer and then declare them saved. Having said these things, I know of many non-Calvinists who take these same stances, so they are not unique to Calvinism. Easy believe-ism is not Scriptural, even if the call of the Gospel is to all men.

          Bottom line: I present the same Gospel to all- that Christ died for the sins of all who will believe.

          Les

          I can agree with everything Darryl said at 4:18pm.

          Don Johnson

          Les,

          That’s exactly the problem. It’s the same thing as Abraham saying Sarah was his sister. Though it was true, it was only half the truth.

          If the so called “DOG” are true, why not tell someone what you really believe? It’s certainly true that Christ came into the world to save sinners. However, what you believe that to mean (elect sinners) and what that means to a lost person (himself) are two different things.

          Again, if the “DOG” are so great, wouldn’t it be better to tell someone that Christ “may” love them just as much as He does you, that He “may have “died for them?

          There are also other verses by Peter and Paul that show Christ did indeed die for the whole world.

          Bob Hadley

          I can’t speak for Darryl, but I am fully Reformed and I will not look a person in the eyes in a gospel conversation and tell them that God loves them and that Jesus died to pay for their sins. I simply do not know the mind of God with respect every individual I come in contact with.

          This is the most pathetic statement I think I have read in ALL of the blog comments to date.

          Gentlemen, this is why I will continue to speak to Southern Baptists to say, enough is enough. This statement ought to be repudiated by anyone who has been touched by the grace of God…

          ><>”

          Les

          Bob,

          “This is the most pathetic statement I think I have read in ALL of the blog comments to date.”

          I later said, “We also, therefore, do not know if God savingly loves them.”

          Bob, I agree with most who believe there is a sense in which God loves all mankind. He is after all, even good to the non-elect to allow them to live and breath and often prosper on this earth.

          But I do not believe that He savingly loves all men without exception. He made that clear in for instance Romans 9.

          Les

        Les

        Don,

        First, I’m sure you are striving to see these matters as best you can as you understand the scriptures, as am I.

        Let me respond to with my understand to what you said.

        “That’s exactly the problem. It’s the same thing as Abraham saying Sarah was his sister. Though it was true, it was only half the truth.”

        Brother, I do not see it as a half truth. As I have said many times, I do not know who is and who isn’t elect.

        “If the so called “DOG” are true, why not tell someone what you really believe? It’s certainly true that Christ came into the world to save sinners. However, what you believe that to mean (elect sinners) and what that means to a lost person (himself) are two different things.”

        I do tell them what I believe. I’m not playing word games with them. I actually do believe, based on scripture, that If the person I’m speaking with will repent and place their faith in Christ alone for their salvation, they will be saved. I have no need to try to get int the secret things of God (who is and who isn’t elect or whose sins Jesus atoned for) with the person. I am very happy to leave what happens to the person after they hear the gospel in the hands of God. who does all things well.

        “Again, if the “DOG” are so great, wouldn’t it be better to tell someone that Christ “may” love them just as much as He does you, that He “may have “died for them?”

        No. I am not commissioned to go into all the world and tell all people that God loves them each. I’m commissioned to go making disciples…preach Christ and Him crucified.

        “There are also other verses by Peter and Paul that show Christ did indeed die for the whole world.”

        Of course those verses have been contested for centuries.

        Blessings,

        Les

          Les

          Don,

          I don’t know why my comment a few mnutes ago sort of got out of place.

          Anyway, one more thing. I know that a Reformed view like mine as I have stated it really gets under a non-Reformed person’s skin. You all call it inconsistent and maybe as you said, presenting half truths. I understand that.

          But at the end of the day, whether you and I agree on our beliefs behind HOW God saves someone, at the end of the day Reformed and non-Reformed evangelicals both trust that it is God who saves and whether I say “Jesus died for sinners” or you say “Jesus died for you,” we both agree that calling someone to repent and believe in Christ is right and proper and biblical and that if the person is going to be saved, it is God who does the saving.

          And, I would have no problem tag team preaching with most non-Reformed preachers because I am confident they will preach Christ and Him crucified and call people to repent and believe.

          Not sure if most non-Reformed would tag team preach with me and many other Reformed preachers though.

          Les

          Darryl Hill

          I absolutely agree with Les here. It’s not our job to preach theology 101. It’s our job to preach the Gospel. And the truth is, none of us knows who will repent and believe, no matter what we believe regarding soteriology. And another truth is this, none of us believes that all will be saved. So, we’re all in the business of preaching the Gospel and trusting God. That’s it.

          I do find it humorous that people demand that I must teach TULIP when presenting the Gospel in the interest of full disclosure, as though the person were trusting in ME for salvation.

          I would say that most people, when they first believe, come away from that moment of repenting and believing thinking that their choice was the primary cause in their salvation. It’s natural in a way. I think our theology can change as we grow to understand the depth of our own depravity and come to the conclusion that we never would have come to God on our own. I couldn’t pick where I was born, who my parents were, what kind of home I had, whether I was exposed to the Gospel at a young age or even if I ever heard the Gospel at all, but I think repenting and trusting Christ was all MY idea? Even if it was my idea at that moment, how would I have even had that thought if God had not been already working in my life for years to bring me to that point? After all, it is God who is at work in us both to will and to act according to His good purpose.

          Lydia

          Don, It is all really doublespeak. They cannot with all honesty talk of God’s love, grace and mercy for all people. They can say those attributes exist for some but not all.

          Then the doublespeak is even more interesting when they say God chooses some people for eternal life but the rest chose hell for themselves. God is not responsible even when they had no choice but to choose hell for themselves because God did not choose them!

          Makes perfect Augustinian/Calvin/Plato sense. And we all know it is a big mystery only Calvinists can understand. The rest of us are just ignorant :o)

          Les

          Hi Lydia. We keep bumping into each other.

          You said, “Then the doublespeak is even more interesting when they say God chooses some people for eternal life but the rest chose hell for themselves. God is not responsible even when they had no choice but to choose hell for themselves because God did not choose them!”

          Aside for your statement of doublespeak, here is something from the OPC on a question double predestination. I agree with this OPC statement.

          In other words, God sovereignly ordains the eternal destiny of every human being—the lost as well as the saved. This has sometimes been called “double predestination.”

          However, a careful study of the Westminster Standards will show that this is never to be understood to say—or even imply—that these are parallel to each other in some symmetrical way (as if every aspect in the one case has a corresponding aspect in the other). In the case of the elect there is a divine intervention called regeneration. This is a sovereign work of God the Holy Spirit whereby a sinner who is spiritually dead is made alive. It is this that enables a sinner to see and enter the Kingdom of God (as Jesus teaches in John 3). In other words, God works in those whom he has chosen to enable them to repent and believe. It follows that all the praise, credit and glory belongs to him alone. It does not belong to the elect sinner who repents and believes. In the case of those who are not elect, however, there is no internal work of God. It is not God who makes them evil. They already are evil. In their case the Word of God only hardens them in their sin. And it is to them alone—and not to God—that the blame therefore must belong for their final reprobation.

          As for mystery, see “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

          SDG!

        Lydia

        God wants people saved to “Calvinism”? That is pretty much how it plays out and what is so amazing is people believe this.

        Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
        and gave him the name that is above every name,
        10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
        in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
        11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
        to the glory of God the Father.

        That is going to be your biggest problem long term. The name of Calvin because it is so revered and people who love Christ will not put up with it. Ask yourselves why historically Calvinist followers either die out or go liberal except a very small few?

Bob Hadley

Well said Dr. Green,
“I do believe that the Gospel is a ‘whosoever’ message – ‘whenever, wherever’ – but it is not a ‘however’ message,” he said. “Salvation comes only though a faith relationship with Jesus Christ. The exclusivity of the Gospel must be at the forefront of our mission.”

Thank you for your stand on the Gospel for anyone and everyone who believes.

><>”

    Darryl Hill

    Bob the thing that is sad is that you seem to think someone who believes in the doctrines of grace wouldn’t agree that the Gospel is for anyone and everyone who believes. Just because someone believes that God is sovereign over salvation does not mean I don’t preach “whosoever will” or “for God so loved the world that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish.” Our mission is to command all men to repent and believe. I simply believe God must do the work in their response.

      Bob Hadley

      Darryl,

      Les stated very clearly and I think you actually agreed with him, as he said…

      “I am fully Reformed and I will not look a person in the eyes in a gospel conversation and tell them that God loves them and that Jesus died to pay for their sins. I simply do not know the mind of God with respect every individual I come in contact with.

      I am sorry, but this is a dog that simply WILL NOT HUNT… not for me.

      Your statement does not seem to me to be reasonable.”Our mission is to command all men to repent and believe. I simply believe God must do the work in their response.” God has made provision for our sin but I do not believe He decides who does and does not respond. If God were the one making that decision, EVERYONE would respond in repentance and saving faith “because God is not willing that ANY should perish but that ALL come to repentance.”

      ><>”

        Darryl Hill

        Hey Bro. Bob- I answered this question in a response below- well it was an attempt anyway. I don’t believe I would actually agree with the way Les stated that as you have quoted. I think I know what he means but I don’t think he meant what you think he means there. Sometimes in these discussions we get backed into a corner and overstate things. He restated this and clarified it later. The danger I believe he wishes to avoid is to speak as if he can grant something which is not his to give- namely eternal life. But there is a difference between the love God has for Hischildren and the love He has for all men.

          Don Johnson

          Darryl,

          What kind of love does God have for all men?

          Les

          Darryl,

          You’re right. Bob only quoted part of what I had said, which I clarified later by bring in the rest of what I said. So I agree with you here.

          Darryl Hill

          Yes Don, God loves all men in the sense that He gives life to all men. (Isaiah 42:5) He is good to all men. (Psalm 145:9) He instructs His children to love their enemies and to do good to those who curse you. Then we will be like our Father in heaven, who makes the sun to rise on both the good and the evil, the just and the unjust. (Matt 5:44-45) He has made all men in His image, giving them a living soul, will, emotions. But it is clear that His love for His children is even greater, as it should be. He does not take pleasure in the death of the wicked (Ezekiel 18) and his disposition toward them is that they would repent, even it is clear that He does not decree that they will all repent, even though His kindness has led many wicked men to repentance. He gives good gifts to all men, even as Jesus illustrated in his parable of the rich man and lazarus, with the rich man was reminded that he received good things from God in his life. So yes, God actively demonstrates his love to all men.

Matt

Dr. Green,

I read the above article, and I recognize your desire to further the gospel. I do not at all object to your right to affirm a possitive statement of what you believe. I just can’t seem to understand how you would think that this statement would ever accomplish anything possitive.

I read, “Green said he hopes the statement will evoke, in a “loving manner,” a conversation among Southern Baptists.” and “If this statement enhances and extends the priority of the Gospel, then I rejoice.” How could a statement that singles out one group of Southern Baptists, claims to be written as a rejection of thier beliefs, and then grossly misrepresents thier beliefs ever be expected to evoke anything in a “loving manner” or somehow further the gospel?

God bless

    Josh Bishop

    Well said brother! (@Matt)

    Surely this document is made to call-out and harass as opposed to initiate a dialogue. The BLATANT misrepresentations of the Doctrines of Grace drip from each affirmation and denial.

    Dr. Bruce McLaughlin

    The “New Calvinists” wax indignant and tap dance across the room when called out publically on their beliefs. But their poster-boys (Sproul and Piper) at least have the courage to say exactly what they mean. For example, if anything is not completely decreed, commanded and controlled by God, then everything is in jeopardy. According to Sproul, “If there is one single molecule in this universe running around loose, then we have no guarantee that a single promise of God will ever be fulfilled…Maybe that one molecule will be the thing that prevents Christ from returning.” No matter how hard the New Calvinists try to tap dance around the truth and run away from their convictions in public, the theology of Calvinism is blasphemous at its core: http://evangelicalarminians.org/Predestination-John-Wesley-Charges-that-Calvinism-Makes-God-Out-to-Be-Worse-than-the-Devil

      Les

      Bruce,

      I’m not a new Calvinist. Been Reformed for over 25 years.

      “have the courage to say exactly what they mean. For example, if anything is not completely decreed, commanded and controlled by God, then everything is in jeopardy.”

      I completely agree with Dr. Sproul! Unashamedly!!

      “the theology of Calvinism is blasphemous at its core”

      Your statements like this would be funny if not so really sad.

      Matt

      Bruce,

      Who’s tap dancing? I whole heatedly affirm that there is not, nor has there ever been or will there ever be, an electron circling the nucleus of an atom whose orbit God has not sovreignly decreed from eternity.

      To deny this is to deny either God’s omnicience or His omnipotence. If God is truely omnicient, then from eternity He must have known perfectly all that He would create and all the reprecussions of His act of creation on all levels including the molecular, atomic, and sub-atomic levels. He sometimes acts within His creation altering the natural course of things, and sometimes He simply allows things to continue on thier course that He decreed in His act of creation. Whatever the subject being discussed is, whether the motion of molecules or the salvation of people, it cannot be denied that God has known from eternity, and brought about through His act of creation and subsequent actions exactly what He has intended. If this isn’t true, then either His knowledge was not perfect and He made a mistake or His power fell short of effectuating what He intended.

      So, are you ready to affirm God’s sovreignty in all things including the motion of molecules and the salvation of individuals, or would you rather deny His Omnicience and omnipotence?

      God bless

        Les

        Amen Matt. Well said.

      Chappy

      Dr. McLaughlin,
      Your comments are so outrageous that I have decided that nothing you write is worth reading becasue you are too reckless with your words. Your hatred for Calvinism is evident, but evidence that you deserve attention or respect is lacking.

Don Johnson

Whosoever to the non-Calvinist means anyone. Whosoever to the Calvinist means the “elect.”

    Matt

    Don,

    I am a Calvinist and would accept the translation of anyone instead of whosoever. That would still leave us with an idicative statement that anyone who believes shall have eternal life. This is simply saying all X shall have Y. X is anyone who believes. This verse in no way addresses who will believe or why they will believe. I will never understand those who interpret “whosoever” to contradict the doctrine of limited atonemet.

    God bless

      Don Johnson

      Matt,

      I never said whosoever proves “limited atonement” wrong. There are plenty of texts that show LA to be in error.

      The point I was trying to convey is that anyone could be saved and not just the “elect”.

        Matt

        Don,

        You say, “The point I was trying to convey is that anyone could be saved and not just the “elect”.”

        This strikes at the heart of limited atonement, but what the name of the doctrine this is meant to refute is is not important. My question to you is: How does the word whosoever in John3:16 prove, “that anyone could be saved and not just the “elect”.”? Even if you change the word “whosoever” to “anyone” it is still followed by the qualification “believes in Him”. Unless you are wanting to change the whole phrase, “whosoever believes in Him” to “anyone” at which point you would have changed to entire meaning of the verse.

        God bless

          Don Johnson

          Matt,

          I’m pretty sure I never brought up John 3:16.

          Matt

          Don,

          I’m sorry if I misunderstood you. I thought that when you said, “Whosoever to the non-Calvinist means anyone. Whosoever to the Calvinist means the “elect.”” that that was the verse you were referring to since I have heard that argument presented by non-calvinists before. What verse were you talking about? Surely you wern’t just making this statement about a word out of the dictionary without a context.

George Wright

Okay… this will either be the most naive post ever, or it may be a way we ought to think about the whole discussion:

As I understand “Historic” or “Traditional” Baptist positions, the essence of Baptist soteriology is found in both “sides” of this debate. God is good. God is sovereign. God is holy and just. Man is sinful and unable to redeem himself. In some way, God must initiate, but man is responsible. God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. Salvation is by grace through faith, it is a gift of God. We must go and make disciples of all nations.

It seems to me that if Satan can’t take these essentials away from us… his next best tool is to get Christians to take sides on an issue that—let’s be honest—will only be finally settled when we stand before our glorious Maker and we know even as we are known.

In what I pray is my humble opinion, this argument is a distraction to the purpose of all Bible believing Baptists everywhere and I see it becoming a hindrance to our mission. Preach Jesus Christ crucified. Preach man’s lostness and need for salvation. Preach God’s love and call men everywhere to repentance and faith. Let the Holy Spirit do the work He has been assigned and let’s keep doing what we have been assigned.

Thank You.

    Bob Hadley

    Bro. George,

    As I understand “Historic” or “Traditional” Baptist positions, the essence of Baptist soteriology is found in both “sides” of this debate. God is good. God is sovereign. God is holy and just. In some way, God must initiate, but man is responsible. God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. Salvation is by grace through faith, it is a gift of God. We must go and make disciples of all nations.

    You are absolutely correct; the essence of Baptist soteriology is found on both “sides” of this debate.

    Man is sinful and unable to redeem himself. AMEN.

    God must initiate, but man is responsible. I would add to responsible, for his response to God’s initiative. God is not the One who is responsible for my response. This is the critical issue of the hour.

    Salvation is by grace through faith, it is a gift of God. Again, here the question is, WHAT is the GIFT; salvation or faith. I believe salvation is the gift that is effectuated by our faith; faith is not God’s gift to the lost.

    We must go and make disciples of all nations. AMEN.

    >”

      Darryl Hill

      Bro Bob, of course man must respond to the Gospel. No man can be saved apart from repentance and belief. I don’t know of any Calvinist who believes men are saved without responding to the Gospel. That is hyper-Calvinsim, which would have us all sit in our churches and proclaim “God doesn’t need our help in reaching the lost.” That’s garbage.

      God ordains both the means and the ends. He ordains that people are sent with the Gospel. He ordains that people will go and carry the Gospel. (how beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring the good news) He ordains that the message is preached. He ordains that people will hear the message. He ordains that faith springs up within them as they hear that message. (faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the Word of Christ) He ordains that they should respond in repentance and believing, trusting fully in Christ’s provision. We all know these things must play out in real time. But the Calvinist (and Scripture, I believe) focuses on God’s work in all of this, not man’s. Still, man must respond.

      He is a great fool who thinks that God saves people without their repentance and believing the Gospel. We are volitional creatures- it is part of being made in God’s image. We have a will. But here is the question we must ask and answer: WHY would someone choose to submit to a Lord? Why would someone willingly give up the sin they, by nature, love? “And you he has quickened who was dead in sin.” AND “The reason you do not believe is because you are not of my sheep. My sheep hear my voice and they follow me and I give to them eternal life.” and “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day.”

      Scripture’s answer to “WHY?” is the work of the Spirit of God even in the message that is being heard. God calls. God draws. God makes alive. God opens blinded eyes. As Jesus repeated multiple times, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”

        Matt

        Amen Darryl !

        Bob Hadley

        Darryl,

        Thank you for your humble response. I appreciate your comments here.

        We do agree on your assertions. Here is the area of disagreement. Your final statement above was, “Still, man must respond.”

        Here is my question. Is man’s response God’s responsibility? According to the tenet of total depravity/inability which is not hyper-calvinism it is calvinism 101… God decides who chooses to believe and if He does not give man the “gift of repentance and grace” man will not respond because he cannot respond.

        This is the focal point of contention between our two positions.

        ><>”

          Darryl Hill

          We may actually come to an understanding of one another here Bro. Bob, even if we don’t agree, something I don’t expect really.

          Man’s response is his own. It is a legitimate choice from a volitional being. But the key here, even as Luther surmised, his will is bound in sin. So when he freely chooses, he chooses sin and self. But God by the power of His Spirit and His Gospel set free that man’s will to choose repentance and belief. It is like truly seeing for the first time in your life and beholding the greatest beauty imaginable. And the result is that we freely choose repentance and now seeing we embrace the glory of God for which we were created. But there is no compulsion here or force exerted. It is triumphant grace because no man whose eyes are opened would ever reject so great a love.

          That is the way I understand it.

          Don Johnson

          Darryl,

          You may understand it that way. However, you did not get it from the Bible. Luther maybe, but not the Bible.

          In the Bible faith always precedes regeneration.

          Darryl Hill

          Don there is much pride in your response there my friend. I thought the reformed folks were the prideful ones. Where would Baptists be without the Protestant reformation? And what reformation would there be without Luther? And where do you suppose Luther got his thoughts regarding the bondage of the will?

          How about… and you he hath quickened who were dead in trespasses and sins? Romans 3 makes it clear that there is none who seeks for God. The idea of man needing to be awakened or have his eyes opened to see the gospel is found in multiple places. It can be nearly simultaneous by the way but no one CAN COME to Christ unless he is drawn (as water from a well) to Him by the Father. Why? He has no natural inclination toward Christ because the message of the cross is foolishness go those who are perishing and indeed it is God who is at work in you both to WILL and to act according g to His good purpose.

          Don Johnson

          Darryl,

          You may be correct about pride.

          Is it pride if I said God created the earth?

          Is it pride if I said Jesus was born of Mary?

          Is it pride if I said Paul was a tentmaker?

          Is it pride to make a statement about Scripture when something is clearly taught?

          If the answer is yes, then I plead guilty as charged.

          Les

          Don,

          Conservative Bible believing Christians agree that God created the earth and that Jesus was born of Mary and that Paul was a tentmaker

          The same people may very well disagree on the timing of regeneration first or faith first. And both sides claim scripture as their witness.

          For you to say “something is clearly taught” on an issue that is debated by good and godly men, well that is pride brother.

          Darryl Hill

          Bro. Don, I don’t want to overstate this, but here is where I see some pride…

          “However, you did not get it from the Bible. Luther maybe, but not the Bible.”

          It is prideful to assume that people cannot get the idea that man does not naturally seek God and needs to have his eyes opened (spiritually awakened) in order to be saved from Scripture. The symbolism is everywhere- dead in sin, blind, unable to come, unwilling to come, can’t even see the Kingdom, walking in darkness, and etc.

          It is also prideful, in my opinion, to accuse Luther of false teaching because it is upon the fruit of his labor that you stand, unless you’re a Catholic I suppose. If you are a Protestant, you’re in debt to Luther from a human standpoint. Considering he was an Catholic monk and came out of the middle ages, it is a miracle of God’s grace that he came to conclusions he did regarding so many different things.

          Luther’s “Bondage of the Will” is one of the foremost writings in the history of the Church on the topic of man’s will in regard to salvation. Have you read it? Do you know Luther’s stance or the grounds upon which he makes his claim? Do you know the arguments Erasmus used to attack his position? Do you know the Scriptural support upon which he based the idea that the human will is in bondage to sin? It just seems prideful to make such a statement.

          But I should add- I am guilty of pride myself in these discussions, so all is well. :-)

Don Johnson

Darryl,

Jesus commanded the Gospel to be preached to every creature (Mark 16:15). If the Gospel means good news (and it does), just what kind of good news do you believe can be preached to every creature. Jesus did not say if people repent and believe, it would be good news. Instead, we were to preach the good news to every creature because it is good news for every creature. The reason we can preach good news to every creature is because Jesus died for every creature.

In John 20:31 “But these are written, that ye might believe…” who does the “ye” refer too?

    Matt

    Don,

    The gospel is the great news that God has accomplished salvation for His people. The Bible says that the gospel is “a rock of offense” for those who do not believe.

    God bless

      Don Johnson

      Matt,

      No, the Gospel is great news for all people.

        Matt

        Don,

        You say, “No, the Gospel is great news for all people.”

        But the Holy Spirit through Peter says,”Therefore, to you who believe, He is precious; but to those who are disobedient, “the stone which the buiders rejected has become the chief cornerstone” and “a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense.” 1 Pet.2:7-8.

          Don Johnson

          Matt,

          No, the Gospel is great news for all people (Luke 2:10).

          Matt

          Don,

          The “that will be for all people” in Luke 2:10 is referring to the fact that the Jewish Messiah had come not only for the Jews, but for all kinds of people from all over the world. This was a new concept for the people of that time, and is a huge theme throughout the New Testament.

          Can Luke 2:10 be interpreted to contradict 1Pet. 2:7-8, which I quote above or other verses like 1 Cor. 1:18 “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but for us who are being saved it is the power of God.”

          God bless

Lydia

Hey Les, Re@ OPC quote. Gotta love the Presbyterians. In fact, many of us call SBTS the REAL Presbyterian seminary in Louisville.

That is just a fancy linguistic, ivory tower, snooty way of saying this:

“Then the doublespeak is even more interesting when they say God chooses some people for eternal life but the rest chose hell for themselves. God is not responsible even when they had no choice but to choose hell for themselves because God did not choose them! :

:o)

    Les

    Lydia,

    Let’s cut to the quick here. Did God choose everyone? I’m betting you won’t answer that with a yes or no only. Please prove me wrong.

    Les

      Lydia

      Les,

      It does not matter what my answer is because I do not use your Augustinian/Calvin/Platonic filter for my interpretation of scripture. I am a heretic, remember? :o) I believe man has some ability to respond and I believe that God has enough Sovereignty to allow that.

      So I won’t play the semantic- linguistic- I -am -smarter- than- you- are- because -I can- quote- famous- theologians- who agree- with- Augustine.

      As I read the Gospels over and over, I see a lot of poor, uneducated people flocking to Christ. Even the Apostles were not the cream of the rabbinic school crop, now were they?

      The irony is that Paul, the educated Pharisee, was sent to the Gentiles. I think God has a sense of humor when it comes to the smarty pants guys.

        Les

        Lydia, forget Augustine. What do you think “chosen” means in the bible?

        Im really not trying anything semantic or such. In whatever grid you use, did God choose everyone or not. Just bible.

          Don Johnson

          Les,

          It usually means elected.

          God chose everyone once they are saved. Though He certainly knew in eternity who would become the chosen (elect).

          Les

          Don,

          To quote Lydia, that’s doublespeak.

          Les

          Don,

          I’m talking that “before the foundation of the world” choosing. Did God choose everyone back then?

          Matt

          Don,

          You say, “God chose everyone once they are saved. Though He certainly knew in eternity who would become the chosen (elect).”

          This would not be choosing; it would only be foreknowing. It is impossible for God to simply foreknow who would be saved, when in eternity nothing existed other than God and nothing would ever exist or make any decisions which God did not knowingly bring about when He created.

          God could only simply foreknow the decisions of certain individuals if He were somehow watching a universe already in motion. Since He knew before creating what each individual would do in response to Him and the gospel, it is logically necessary that He chose those who would and would not follow Him by creating the way He did.

          The Bible gives us more specifics of how He works out the salvation of His people through an active calling of the elect and a passive allowence of others continuing in sin, but it is undeniable that He knew before creation where He would intervene in creation, who would ultimately be saved, and then He knowingly acted to bring it all about.

      Bob Hadley

      Hey Les….

      Let me play your own game…. I bet you will not answer this with a yes or no only…

      Did God give man a choice to choose Him?

      ><>”

        Darryl Hill

        I will Bob. The answer is yes. Man makes a choice.

        Les

        Bob, yes.

        Now, please my question above, yes or no, did God choose everyone?

        Chappy

        Could God not determine that a man would freely choose him, thereby acomplishing His will and protecting the man’s free will?

          Darryl Hill

          Yes, that is why I don’t like the term “Irresistible grace.” It makes it seem as though God forces Himself on people against their wills. I believe the truth is that He frees their wills from bondage to sin so that they may freely choose to repent and believe. It is not out of coercion that they do this. It is out of having their eyes opened and their spirits awakened to see the truth of their own sin, the unfathomable love of God, and the truth of the amazing glory of God for which they were made for the first time and running into that light.

          I prefer triumphant grace because I believe it is a better description. God’s grace ultimately triumphs in the lives of His children, even though they may resist Him for years. The phrase “irresistible grace” is really only concerned with the bottom line, which is this (and which offends human sensibilities): if God intends to save a person from before the foundation of the world, He will accomplish it in one way or another. But that doesn’t mean that He drags them kicking and screaming against their wills in the process.

          Darryl Hill

          Chappy, I don’t want to give the wrong impression in my response, and rereading it, I fear I did. I do not intend to give any credit to man’s will in choosing as the basis for salvation. My point is that man does make a choice which is not forced upon him. His will is freed from its bondage to sin. His spirit is quickened. He is awakened. His blind eyes are able now to see that which he could not see before. He would have never repented and believed if not for God’s grace actively working within him because he had no inclination to do so before. Still, man makes a legitimate decision.

        Bob Hadley

        Darryl,

        Your response”yes man makes a choice.” did NOT answer my question. That is NOT what I asked. I asked, Did GOD GIVE MAN the choice to choose, not does man make choices.

        Les,

        If God gave man the choice to choose, then the answer to your own question is NO.

        God has not chosen everyone.

        If God gave man the choice to choose as you affirmed, then His choice to choose me is now dependent on my choice to choose Him.

        The Bible confirms that it is God’s will that all come to repentance and that none perish; it is not God who makes the choice for us to choose Him; He has given us that choice. He is the One who has provided a choice to choose and the consequences for our choices.

        ><>”

          Les

          Bob,

          Yesterday you called one of my comments “pathetic.” I won’t go that far here. I’ll just say your comments above on choice are very convoluted.

          You asked, “Did God give man a choice to choose Him?”

          I said yes. Then you said, “If God gave man the choice to choose, then the answer to your own question is NO.”

          My question was, “Did God choose everyone?” I say no. Lydia refuses to answer. But you now say no too. You and I agree! God did not choose everyone.

          But then you veer off the road with this, “then His choice to choose me is now dependent on my choice to choose Him.”

          Where do you find that in scripture? Where do you find the notion that man has the final say over against what you say God’s will is…that no man should perish?

          You’ve negated God’s choice of some over others.

          Anyway, I said more last night below. God bless.

          Darryl Hill

          I appreciate this exchange Bob. I know we disagree, but I think you understand where I’m coming from here a bit more- and I, you.

          I think what you’re getting at here is freedom. Can man freely choose God? And really it’s even more than that- can man, without an infusion of God’s prior grace, choose on his own to repent and believe? My answer to that question is no. And the answer of historical Christianity is also no.

          But the answer to the question “does God allow man the choice to choose?” is yes. God allows all men to choose and all men, without fail, choose sin and self over repentance and faith because it is in their nature to do so. When given the kind of freedom without interference from God that you are wanting here, man chooses to reject the message of the cross without fail, because the message is foolishness to those who are perishing. So, God must give grace. Once He gives them the grace to see their sin and their need and to see Him for who He is, they still freely choose. But now, liberated from the chains of their own sinful nature, they choose to repent and believe.

          In this way, it becomes not of him who wills nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy.

Les

Bob,

Before we go too far down this dead end, my point is this.

“Did God choose everyone?”

If you answer yes, you’ve got a huge problem. Either you end up at universalism, which I know you’re not, or you end up with God choosing some whom He ends up judging in hell.

If you say no, then you agree with the Reformed group. We all know He didn’t choose, or elect, everyone. However they end up in hell, the fact remains that we know that God didn’t choose everyone for salvation.

So He elected some and not others? Agreed? Therefore, we all know that some of the people we preach to are not elect. They’ll never trust Christ. Agreed?

Others will, precisely because they were chosen before the foundation of the world. In time, as in my case after hearing the gospel probably a thousand times before being saved by God…I responded in repentance and faith, in time His elect will trust Christ.

We’re getting closer.

    Bob Hadley

    Les,

    I hope you are not adopting the Jared Moore school of debating an issue. Your attempt to intellectually lead the conversation to your logical conclusion is not valid.

    “If you say no, then you agree with the Reformed group.” I will agree with this statement. However, if you are asserting that all who disagree with universalism are calvinists, then I must disagree.

    You wrote, “We all know He didn’t choose, or elect, everyone. However they end up in hell, the fact remains that we know that God didn’t choose everyone for salvation.” I will agree God has not chosen everyone to be saved. To your comment, “however they end up in hell” is answered in the Scripture: those who end up in hell are not those God did not choose to believe; those who end up in hell are those who chose not to believe in the Only Begotten Son of God.

    You wrote, “So He elected some and not others? Agreed? Therefore, we all know that some of the people we preach to are not elect. They’ll never trust Christ. Agreed?” Well… I believe God has saved those who repented of their sin and by faith have trusted His promise to forgive their sin and adopt them into His forever family. There are those who will choose not to trust Christ but that is not God’s choice; it is their choice. ANYONE may hear the gospel message and respond and those who rightly respond will be saved.

    “Others will, precisely because they were chosen before the foundation of the world. ” That is a DOG that will not hunt.

    We’re gettin closer. I hope you are right. I hope we are getting closer to determining what we are going to do with the elephant in the room as a denomination. If we do not do so, that determination will be made for us.

    ><>”

      Les

      “I hope you are not adopting the Jared Moore school of debating an issue.”

      I’m not sure what you mean by that but I suppose you don’t mean something good by it. Whatever that is, I don’t need nor want to know.No need to disparage Jared here at all.

      As to the rest of your comments, you have gotten the last word on this early morning exchange. Have a blessed day.

      Lydia

      “I hope you are not adopting the Jared Moore school of debating an issue. Your attempt to intellectually lead the conversation to your logical conclusion is not valid.”

      Exactly. Which is why I refuse to allow them to frame any question premise anymore. They are about painting people into corners so they can use the heretic label. It is simple, I have a different filter that does not include Calvin and that is that.

      They are welcome to think my beliefs make God not Sovereign. (that is used as a scare tactic). I think their interpretations makes man a sock puppet a lot like the fake determinist god Allah has only sock puppets.

      And usually a statement like I just made brings forth accusations of thinking man is higher than God somehow.

Don Johnson

Les,

God doesn’t elect anyone unto salvation. A person becomes elect when they get saved. The only elect unsaved people are Jews.

    Don Johnson

    Les,

    Rom. 8:9 “But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now, if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.”

    The text states he is none of his. Does none really mean none. If none really means none (and I believe it does), then God has no “chosen, elect or a people” until they are saved.

    If you take the approach that none doesn’t really mean none, then I would ask does none really mean none in Rom. 3:10?

Dr. Bruce McLaughlin

The New Calvinists have divided the SBC at a fundamental level; soteriology is a cornerstone of the Christian faith. Without internal denominational agreement on soteriology, how can we carry out evangelism and discipleship? What do we offer a seeker? What do we teach a new believer? By Scripture, “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste and no city or house divided against itself will stand.” Is this passage coming to pass? For five years in a row, SBC membership has declined and the rate of decline is accelerating. We will consistently match the decline rate of the UMC by 2018. We claim to have 16MM members but primary worship attendance is 6MM. God will not intervene to save a corrupted, disobedient church or even a worldwide denomination. But, perhaps the Calvinists plan to raise up a new denomination of the elect from the ashes of the “purification” fire. In the spirit of Spurgeon, each member could paint a stripe on his/her back for ease of recognition.

Randall Cofield

“For five years in a row, SBC membership has declined and the rate of decline is accelerating. We will consistently match the decline rate of the UMC by 2018. We claim to have 16MM members but primary worship attendance is 6MM.”–B. McLaughlin

Perhaps many of these 16MM were “converted” through the easy-believism of such evangelistic tactics as those promoted by the T.S. and the “Sinner’s Prayer” resolution….

    Lydia

    “Perhaps many of these 16MM were “converted” through the easy-believism of such evangelistic tactics as those promoted by the T.S. and the “Sinner’s Prayer” resolution….”

    Where are all the non liberal Calvinists from the last 400 years? What happened to Geneva? Europe? Puritans? the PCA? Princeton?

    Bob Hadley

    I think this indictment is especially reflective of the reformed position… since according to the calvinists, God and God alone is the One who is responsible for who is and is not saved; sooooooooooooo seems to me you guys share the responsibility as well.

    Can’t have it both ways there champ! You are correct by the way; we do need to see change.

    ><>”

      Randall Cofield

      Brother,

      You said: “You are correct by the way; we do need to see change.”

      Assuming that statement is not tongue-in-cheek, it would seem we may share some common ground. What sort of change do you think would enable us to have numbers that reflect a regenerate membership in Southern Baptist churches?

      Grace and Peace

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