Historical Southern Baptist Soteriology, pt. 3/3

April 23, 2014

What Were the Early SBC Leaders’ View of Salvation?
by Emir Caner, Ph.D.
President, Truett-McConnell College
Cleveland, Ga.

(Read part 1, HERE.)
(Read part 2, HERE.)
(Download this essay and all the other theological presentations presented at the 2013 John 3.16 Conference, HERE.)

A closer look into Baptist history demonstrates that Baptists perpetually struggled with theological complexities, especially that of Calvinism. But by the beginning of the Southern Baptist Convention, the stage was set for diversity among the people who would be called Southern Baptists. In terms of Reformed doctrine of salvation, it was acceptable to question all of the classical points of Calvinism with one exception – eternal security. And while Baptists agreed with our Reformed brethren on the basic definition, the intricacies of even this doctrine were debated. Thus, Southern Baptists did not move away from Calvinism due to the experiential viewpoint of Southern Seminary president E. Y. Mullins at the beginning of the twentieth century. As Baptists matured in their faith, they had questioned, rejected, or redefined much of Calvinistic doctrine since the pinnacle of Calvinism in the mid-eighteenth century. They sought and demanded a simple faith, one based in their hope for revival.

A simple survey of the early Southern Baptist landscape will evidence its divergence away from Reformed doctrines either in part or substantively. First, there were obviously those who held to a classical Calvinism. James P. Boyce (1827-1888), one of the founders of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in 1859, was a strict Calvinist. Boyce believed wholeheartedly in his theological system and wanted to convert others towards his theology, believing it would benefit the churches and even bring about revival. His good friend and co-founder of the Seminary, John Broadus, recollected about students entering the new seminary: “Though the young men were generally rank Arminians when they came to the Seminary, few went through [Boyce’s] course without being converted to his strong Calvinistic views.”140

The new seminary, located in Greenville, South Carolina, was ground zero for Reformed theology. Basil Manly Sr., one of its professors and a leader within the Charleston/Particular tradition, explained, “The number of the elect is, to the mind of God, necessarily definite and certain.”141 Other examples of strict Calvinism include J. L. Dagg, Southern Baptists’ first writing theologian, and Jesse Mercer, president of the Georgia Baptist Convention for its first nineteen years (1822-1841). It is clear that Calvinists found positions of prominence early and often organized Baptists into associations and state conventions.

Andrew Broaddus (1770-1848) was representative of a milder breed of Calvinists considered a Fullerite by his contemporaries. A contemporary biographer, Jeremiah Jeter, categorized as “moderately Calvinistic, agreeing, in the main, with those of Andrew Fuller.”142 While affirming faith is a gift from God and that election is not based on foreknowledge, Broaddus did advocate an unlimited atonement. He explained:

These remarks on the nature of the atonement, lead to the question as to its extent. And here I take occasion to say, that a consistent and scriptural view of this subject appears to lead to the conclusion, that the atonement is general in its nature and extent. As opening a way for the salvation of sinners, considered as sinners, it is general in its nature; and as being of sufficient value for the salvation of the world, it is general in its extent. At the same time, it may be proper to remark, that redemption considered as the result and application of the atonement, is limited, of course, to those who actually become the subjects of grace; in other words, to those who become believers in Jesus.143

Broaddus, like most other Baptists of his day, offered open invitations for sinners to lay hold of eternal life. His view of the atonement was most easily seen in these invitations where he would lead in a closing hymn, saying, “Come, my guilty brethren, come, groaning beneath your load of sin. His wounded hands shall make you room, His bleeding heart shall take you in. He calls you all, invites you home – Come, O my guilty brethren, come.”144

Still others recognized that while a mystery, free will, not coercion, is the reason for the conversion of the soul. J. L. Burrows (1814-1893), who attended the first Southern Baptist Convention in 1845 and succeeded Basil Manly Jr. as pastor of the First Baptist Church of Richmond, Virginia,145 stated:

“Now, there is no coercion in conversion…A man is converted because he wishes to be. How the wish is created within his soul by the Holy Spirit and the truth we may not clearly comprehend. But all agree, Calvinist and Arminian alike, that every regenerated soul has desired and sought forgiveness.”146

B.H. Carroll stated likewise about free will, using the Sinner’s Prayer:

Absolutely without partiality, I say to one and all, whoever you are, sinful as you may be, in whatsoever social or financial grade you stand, man or woman, boy or girl, rich or poor, great or small, whoever will this day in your heart seek God and look to one who can save from sin, God will comfort you, your soul will be saved. It is not an idle request. I mean that you thereby admit that you are a sinner. You admit that you need a Saviour. You intend by it that in your heart, not out loud with your mouth but that in your heart to-day you will simply think this prayer, “God be merciful to me a sinner.”147

Other influential leaders who moved away from Calvinism include those of the Landmark movement, which emphasized the local church and Baptist distinctives and opposed any mixed communion with other paedobaptist denominations. J.M. Pendleton (1811-1891), arguably the most influential theologian of the nineteenth century whose Church Manual (1867) reproduced the New Hampshire Confession thus giving it prominence, denounced both Calvinism and Arminianism, explaining, “Presbyterians and Methodists will commune together and denounce each other’s Calvinism and Arminianism the next day, if not the next hour.”148 J. R. Graves (1820-1893), the most controversial figure of Landmarkism who served as editor of the Tennessee Baptist for 40 years, denounced eternal decrees, instead arguing, “God knew from the beginning who would believe. He determined to save those in all ages who would believe, and Christ died for these.”149

Still others attacked the Reformed doctrine of total depravity. Edwin C. Dargan (1852-1930), a renowned professor of homiletics and ecclesiological history at Southern Seminary beginning in 1892, defined total depravity, according to Richards, as “meaning that all of one’s faculties are more or less twisted out of shape by sin, affecting the whole of one’s nature.”150

Ultimately, it is revivalism that halted discussion over doctrinal differences. For example, in a revival at the First Baptist Church of Raleigh, North Carolina, in 1883, Thomas Skinner (1825-1905) preached a simple sermon on the love of God. He proclaimed to the congregation:

Oh what a gospel it is, then, to be able to tell every man and woman, and every boy and girl, salvation may be yours, you may be saved, and this I will prove by four good reasons:
1. Because you are the work of God.
2. Because Jesus Christ died for you.
3. Because so many have been saved.
4. Because the Bible teaches us so.

If you were to make Christ’s forgiving love your own, there must be personal contact of soul with the loving heart of Christ. There must be the individual act of my own coming to Him, and as the old Puritans used to say, ‘my transacting’ with Him. . . . I can shut it out, sealing my heart love tight against it. I do shut it out unless, by my own conscious, personal act of trust I come to Him.151

Such simple biblicism was seen throughout the South as revivals burst forth in the countryside. One contemporary account described a revival that occurred in Kentucky that stopped the theological infighting. It exclaimed: The effect of the revival [1800], on Christians, was permanently good. It imbued them more deeply with the spirit of the Master, and gave them clearer views of the spirituality of religion. It turned their minds away from metaphysical abstractions about dogmas, and inspired a greater earnestness for spreading the gospel of salvation. They became more interested in sinners’ being ‘born again,’ than in determining the comparative orthodoxy of Calvin and Arminius; and were more desirous to promote love and harmony among brethren, than to discover indistinguishable shades of heterodoxy in each other’s creeds. The mere forms, of religious morals, ceremonies, and learning catechisms, gave way to a firm belief in the necessity of experimental religion.152

As this chapter draws to a close, there are at least five lessons we must learn from our past:

1. Revival may be our only hope for the Southern Baptist Convention and its future.
2. While Baptists debated many doctrines, eternal security is not negotiable.
3. Baptists historically moved away from Calvinism if we believed such doctrines could hurt evangelism and revival.
4. We cannot sacrifice the unity of a local church for the unity of a denomination.
5. We cannot abandon our heritage of evangelistic methods, including altar calls.

A Final Example through Melody: Sometimes a Song Better Expresses the Soul than a Sermon

William Walker (1809-1875) – also known as “Singing Billy” – was an American Baptist made famous for his shape-note hymnal sung in three part harmony. “Amazing Grace,” America’s most well known song written by John Newton, owes its modern-day tune and popularity to William Walker. His songbook, The Southern Harmony, which eventually sold more than 600,000 copies, was a folk collection, known as the “people’s music,” that became so prominent in religious circles that its 1854 edition is still in use today.153

In “The Southern Harmony,” we find lyrics like these:

p. 2:
Come, ye sinners, poor and wretched,
Weak and wounded, sick and sore,
Jesus ready stands to save you,
Full of pity, love, and pow’r.
He is able, He is willing, Doubt no more.

p. 4:
Today, if you will hear his voice,
Now is the time to make your choice;
Say, will you to Mount Zion go?
Say, will you have this Christ or no?

p. 84:
Come, humble sinner, in whose breast
A thousand thoughts revolve,
Come, with your guilt and fear opprest,
And make this last resolve:
I’ll go to Jesus, though my sin Hath like a mountain rose;
I know his courts, I’ll enter in Whatever may oppose.

Thus, perhaps the most accurate picture of who we are as Southern Baptists may not be found solely in the sermons preached, but in the songs sung. Let us cast our eyes on the altar. Let us make open invitations. May the Lord help us so we don’t become so intellectual–preaching thunderously without giving sinners the chance to respond.

If our altars be filled, then we may see a coming awakening. However, if our altars remain empty, so, too, does our hope for another Great Awakening. Will the altars in Southern Baptist churches be empty this week? Or will they be filled with two types of people: the lost being saved and the saved as they plead for the souls of men? That is the history of Southern Baptist life. Truth is Immortal.
___________________________________

140John A. Broadus, Memoirs of James Petigru Boyce (New York: A. C. Armstrong and Son, 1893), 54. The admission implies that pastors were not consistently teaching the “doctrines of grace.”
141Thomas J. Nettles, “Southern Baptist Identity: Influenced by Calvinism,” Baptist History and Heritage (October 1996): 22.
142Andrew Broaddus, The Sermons and Other Writings of the Rev. Andrew Broaddus, edited by Andrew Broaddus, Jr. (New York: Lewis Colby, 1852), 49.
143J. B. Jeter, Sermons and Other Writings of the Rev. Andrew Broaddus with A Memoir of His Life (1852), 45.
144Broaddus, 86.
145Caner and Caner, 44.
146J. L. Burrows, What Baptists Believe (Baltimore: H. M. Wharton and Company, 1887), 1.20.
147B. H. Carroll, Evangelistic Sermons, ed. J. B. Cranfill (New York: Fleming H. Revell, 1913), 28, 42.
148J. M. Pendleton, Three Reasons Why I Am a Baptist (Nashville: Graves, Marks & Co., 1857), 203. He also advocates unlimited atonement.
149Timothy George and David Dockery, Baptist Theologians (Nashville: Broadman and Holman, 2000), 238.
150Richards, “Moving Away from Calvinism,” 31.
151Thomas E. Skinner, Sermons, Addresses and Reminiscences (Raleigh: Edwards & Broughton, 1894), 14-16, 58.
152Spencer, 1.543.
153http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y19i50sZ3Ao (accessed May 27, 2013). This video documentary explains the importance of this little-known figure. Walker was a member of the Lower Fair Forest Baptist Church (SBC) in Union County, South Carolina. become so intellectual–preaching thunderously without giving sinners the chance to respond.

 

 

 

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volfan007

Dr. Caner,

Excellent. Thanks for this.

David

Max

Thank you Dr. Caner for your treatise on SBC’s theological roots. It should be the subject of a quarterly study at all 45,000+ SBC churches. Southern Baptists are indeed “Neither Calvinist nor Arminian but Baptist!”

“Ultimately, it is revivalism that halted discussion over doctrinal differences.” Do it again, Lord!

Doug Sayers

Thanks for the history lessons Dr, Caner. I find this all very interesting (even if that means I’m some kind of nerd). I wonder if the SBC will continue to operate under the big tent that includes both Calvinists and Non. As previous posts would indicate, I’m no Calvinist but I do think that both sides can benefit from one another and find myself hoping that the SBC will find a way to keep it together for the sake of all that we so heartily agree on. Bible believers really need to band together, these days, against the rising tide of unbelief. I hope we can keep our family squabbles from ending in an ugly divorce.

Max

Doug & Norm –

SBC’s history is clear that Calvinist and non-Calvinist have found a way to coexist in the denomination in past years. However, “New” Calvinism presents a totally different scenario. The young, restless and reformed movement is intent on changing the belief and practice of the next generation. They have a plan and they are working the plan. They have proven to be aggressive in taking over traditional churches and a preponderance of new SBC church plants are reformed (at least in my area). I am not anti-Calvinist, but I am anti-Calvinization of the SBC. Dr. Caner has sufficiently made the case that Southern Baptists are neither Calvinist nor Arminian, but “Baptist”. Traditionalists would agree with his assessment; Calvinists would not … and the reformed movement continues to move further into SBC life unchallenged except on blogs. While we pause to agree to disagree and get along to go along under the big tent, Calvinization will spread through pulpit and pew. Baptist distinctive, as the majority of SBC members have known it, will disappear. Your children may not note the change, but your grandchildren will.

Eric Robinson, MD

Lest we forget the words of “the Preacher”…”What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun. Is there a thing of which it is said, “See, this is new”? It has been already in the ages before us. There is no remembrance of former things, nor will there be any remembrance of later things yet to be among those who come after.”(Eccl. 1:9-11) Apparently Solomon understood what Baptists have long forgotten, all these “new” perspectives of theology have actually come before. (I noticed many who have said this soteriology was not A, not C, not SP, not U, etc., but voila….a soteriology unique to Southern Baptists.)

Although I am quite familiar with this and other “versions” of Baptist History in America, I am not going to mention any aspects of possible analytical, exclusionary, and reporting bias. I am only going to assume that Dr. Caner under the direction of His Master, would write that which he believes is beneficial for the body.(This means that I have not verified sources as I typically would :) I’m quite surprised, however, by the willingness of most, for the sake of argument, to finally admit that they hold more to their “Traditions,” “Hymns,” and “Historical Precedence” than to Scripture! I’m sorry, this just kinda sounds funny to me, after growing up hearing such vile denouncements of confessional faiths vs. our “bible” faith!. ;)

Doug, I am sorry for your loss, and the lack of support you received during that time. I’ve had the privilege of supporting a sister in Christ through some rough times when a very close relative “came out of the closet”. Thankfully, she didn’t re-evaluate her view of God as revealed in scripture in order to come up with what “tickled her’s or the relative’s ears” (although that would have been easier and more comforting at the time). But instead, she was able by His Spirit, to keep her perspective on God and His word, and not on man, his fallen nature, and his “rationalizing” of sin. I wonder, if you have found it difficult to accept the “imputation” of Adam’s guilt to his posterity, did you not struggle with the same difficulty with the “imputation” of our sin to Christ, and His righteousness to us? WE are all sinners and my hope, along with yours, Doug, is that the SBC would “keep it together” for the sake of the gospel.

Usually this type of dividing thing is wrongfully blamed on Calvinism. However, I think this blog has noted quite well for me, that after a more unifying T5 document, instead it was the T6 that was the divisive axe. Funny how this is never brought out among Arminian, Molinist, Amyrauldian, Roman Catholic, or S-P discussions. I have often wondered why that is. It is canny how the same discussion mimics that of the Sanhedrin regarding Christ, meaning it is essentially a “power struggle” within the SBC elites, but I digress.

Thank you Dr. Caner for this well researched version of the History of Baptists in America (not the first “sandy creek” version I’ve seen, see “The Trail of Blood” for another version with its inherent reporting bias). NOW, can someone help me with the question I posed a month ago about the “straw man” Dr. Hankins proposed to avoid by T6? All the posts are about the SBC wanting to establish 3 things…God loves everyone (agreed, common grace!), Christ died for everyone (agreed in the context of Rm. 8 in that Christ died for world under the curse, the world that “now groans, for the sake of him who subjected it, waiting to be restored.” But I would not agree that Christ, as mediating High Priest of our Confession died an actual substitutionary, atonement for those who God “foreknew” wouldn’t choose Him. It this position that you would have scripture maintain that everyone without exception has their sins “paid for”, but those who are in Hell, are in hell because THEY didn’t make the right choice!), AND that God does not delight in the death of the wicked, and desires that everyone repent (agreed, acknowledging that since all are “dead in sin”, only His sheep are “born from above”, thus Christ in praying for those whom the Father has given the Son, out of the whole lost world of fallen mankind, will come to Him such that none will be lost.)

*****So, Dr. Hankins, Dr. Caner, Norm, Robert, and anyone interested….in this somewhat Molinistic (not A, not C, but swims with A ;) system you are proposing based on Traditional Baptist History, exactly why did God create those He “foreknew” wouldn’t choose Him??
1. If God knew that even one person wouldn’t choose Him and thus would spend eternity in Hell, and “God desires all people be saved”, then why did God go ahead and create these people for Hell in the first place??? (according to your Southern Baptist Soteriologic System you try to avoid this, while using double predestination as a “strong man” to beat against Reformed doctrine. Any idea how far this subtle lie is being used in “advancing the Kingdom?”)
2. Did God create these non-wise choosing/Hell bound people for destruction in the manner that the potter has power over the clay as vessels fit to display His hatred of sin and thus deserving of wrath, was it just by accident, or is their an inherent issue with, or NEED for, your persistent support of “libertarian free will”?
*****

So, if with these caveats of scripture tacked onto the 3 SBC statements regarding an anthropocentric universalistic theology are OK, “kudos” to Baptist Tradition! Now let’s move on to the task before us, preaching Christ and Him crucified for the remission of sin!

If we can move forward, may I suggest that we hold a “mini-hermenutics” conference as to how the current position of the preaching a “potential savior” and the larger biblical view that shrink back from the whole council of God confuses “law” and “gospel”? Any takers? (Potential, Definite, Extent, Intent) My hope while I was in the SBC was for a “big tent” approach, but as these discussions went forward, more and more came from the pulpit to expose the dishonesty behind the actual attempt at a “big tent.” If I ever finish my current book, it will point to several of these issues, and the drastic effect these types of hermeneutic/soteriologic issues have had on the confusion in the SBC churches. The law…..”repent and believe” as a command issued by Christ to everyone without exception presented as the “actual gospel”, something “doable”, or our part, assuming that fallen man is capable of performing (see Pelagius, Erasmus). Or the softer versions of this command to follow Christ, do your best, make a commitment, re-commit, and if their is any confusion over the prayer you prayed to save yourself…pray it again…and MEAN it this time. This myriad of calls for “obedience” have overshadowed, and often opposed, the life-giving gospel, which is the grace of God who by His Spirit breaks the power of sin, gives life to the dead, causing us to cry out “Lord I believe, help my unbelief,” and thereafter, “causes us to walk in his statutes and obey His rules.” Now we walk not as slaves under compulsion, but as bondservants of the most High King.

Ghost Writer, MD

    Robert

    Hello Eric,

    You seemed to be laying down some sort of a challenge when you wrote:

    “*****So, Dr. Hankins, Dr. Caner, Norm, Robert, and anyone interested….in this somewhat Molinistic (not A, not C, but swims with A ;) system you are proposing based on Traditional Baptist History, exactly why did God create those He “foreknew” wouldn’t choose Him??
    1. If God knew that even one person wouldn’t choose Him and thus would spend eternity in Hell, and “God desires all people be saved”, then why did God go ahead and create these people for Hell in the first place??? (according to your Southern Baptist Soteriologic System you try to avoid this, while using double predestination as a “strong man” to beat against Reformed doctrine. Any idea how far this subtle lie is being used in “advancing the Kingdom?”)
    2. Did God create these non-wise choosing/Hell bound people for destruction in the manner that the potter has power over the clay as vessels fit to display His hatred of sin and thus deserving of wrath, was it just by accident, or is their an inherent issue with, or NEED for, your persistent support of “libertarian free will”?”

    I dealt with this argument of yours once before, apparently what I wrote then was too complex as you are repeating your argument once again.

    Let’s break this thing down and make it simple so that everyone can see exactly why your argument falls apart.

    You begin by asking:

    “exactly why did God create those He “foreknew” wouldn’t choose Him??”

    First let’s start with what we mean by “foreknowledge”: we mean that God knows every future event that will occur before it occurs. So say my daughter is going to get together with some of her friends tomorrow. Either that event will occur or it will not occur. Say that it will in fact occur. As it is an event that will in fact occur in the future, God knows that it will happen before it happens. Are we clear so far? When we speak of a foreknown event we are speaking of something that God knows will happen with *certainty*. It is going to happen for sure.

    Second, let’s talk about what a non-calvinist means when we talk about *making a choice.* We have a choice when we have at least two different options from which to choose (in my example I can choose to allow the girls to come over or I can choose not to allow them to come over, stick with these two options to make it simple). If I have a genuine choice then I can actually choose either option. Now note, if they are opposite options I cannot choose both simultaneously (e.g. I cannot choose to watch the Kings hockey game tonight and at the same time choose not to watch the Kings hockey game tonight).

    Third, now those of us who believe that God foreknows everything also believe that he foreknows people’s choices. So God knows (say I allow the girls to come over tomorrow to play with my daughter) that tomorrow I will choose to allow the girls to come over. God also knows that I could have chosen not to allow them over tomorrow. But recall that God foreknows what will in fact happen. So say that instead of choosing to allow the kids to come over I will actually choose not to allow them to come over. In that case God foreknows that I will make that choice. Whatever choice that I make, God foreknows what it will be. [[Now important point here: we do not know how God knows what he knows, we only know that he knows everything.]] And if God knows what choice I will in fact make tomorrow, if I am acting freely then he knows that I could have made the other choices as well. This means that when I act freely I will in fact make some choice that God foreknows that I will make (though I could have chosen to do otherwise). And guess what: if I make the choice then who is responsible for that choice? I am.

    Fourth, let’s talk about someone who ends up in hell. Say this person, Joe, received multiple opportunities to hear the gospel and each time Joe chose to say No, chose to reject God and the gospel presented to him. If each of these choices was made by Joe, then who is responsible for these choices? Joe is. Can we blame his mother for these choices? No. His friends? No. Can we blame God? No. Joe alone is to blame for his choice to reject. If Joe continues to reject for a lifetime then Joe alone is responsible for the result (i.e. he ends up being eternally separated from God). Now in regard to his choices to reject God should we say that God created these choices? No, God did not create these choices, Joe had choices and he kept choosing to make the same choice. Did God create Joe for hell? No, because it was Joe not God who kept making the choice to reject God.

    Now Eric in your question you *assume* that God created Joe to be hell bound. But that is Calvinism not non-Calvinism. In Calvinism God *does* create people for heaven or hell because he decides their eternal destiny before they are born, he decrees their every action and thought (which would include their every choice, which further includes every choice to reject that Joe makes). So Eric in your question you assume calvinism and then project that onto us non-Calvinists. But we reject this assumption that God creates a hell bound person. We believe the person’s choices result in him/her going to hell, but their choices are not created by God, their choices are up to them, and they make the choices themselves and so are to blame for them. We don’t blame God for a person going to hell, we blame the person since they made the choices themselves.

    I have a friend who used to speak of how other people would try to put words in his mouth, put their assumptions on him. He said this was like putting manure in his water. He would not drink water that someone else had put manure in. Likewise, Eric, when you ask your question here about God foreknowing and CREATING people for hell you are putting manure in my water and I refuse to drink it. Don’t put your Calvinistic assumptions on me. I don’t’ believe that God creates people for hell. I don’t believe that God decrees all of our choices. I don’t believe Calvinism, so don’t put Calvinistic ideas in a question or argument and then wonder why I don’t answer them according to your assumptions.

    You have to look at things from our perspective if you want to question or show problems with our view.

    Instead of looking at things from our perspective and showing problems with what we think, you try instead to ask questions that presuppose and assume Calvinism. And it won’t work.

    Do you understand why your assumptions are not our assumptions?

    Do you understand why your questions are no problem for us.

    Your question assumes that God creates people to be hell bound: we don’t hold that assumption.

    Your question assumes that God creates people’s choices: we don’t hold that assumption.

    God foreknows our choices, he does not decree them nor does he “create them”.

    Likewise, if Joe ends up in hell, it is not because God decreed it nor because God created him for hell, it is rather that Joe made those choices himself.

    Does God know he will make those choices (yes if he in fact will make those choices).

    Does God foreknowing those choices cause those choices? No.

    God foreknows our every sin, but that does not mean he created us to be sinners or to do those sins.

    Robert

      Eric Robinson, MD

      Robert,
      Still not sure you addressed the question despite your reply, but I admire your persistence. FYI, I was raised Arminian with a Wesleyan Perfectionist slant, so please don’t assume I don’t understand “your” position. Likewise, for the “new” Molinism, I’ve heard this from the pulpit as well, along with jabs at any passage of scripture that speaks to God’s sovereignty in salvation, such as the entire chapter of Jn. 6, Jn. 10, and parts of Acts. The constant tide of confusion between law and gospel is the reason I left the SBC for the Presbytery. To hear grace through faith because of what Christ has accomplished for us, instead of what else we need to be continually careful to obey actually frees us from the yoke of that law!

      In many discussions I’ve had with dissenting views, and the like, definitions always appear to take center stage. You said that for foreknowledge “we mean that God knows every future event that will occur before it occurs.” But it appears later in your examples you would like to clarify this position of “every future event” as if it occurred with “certainty” or not. Either it did or did not occur, but would God not know if did or did not occur?? Omniscience, my friend, cannot mean two different things, for certain! Either God knows all things, or He does not. Either His foreknowledge means what you say it means, or there is a better meaning. I maintain that since God is not bound by our “space/time continuum”, that there is a better meaning.(Foreknew = knew beforehand) But I will stick with your definition for now.

      I don’t mean for this to be insulting in any way, but the long “examples” about Bob, Fred, and Joe are too complex for me to follow, biblically speaking. They do serve well for an “apologetic” of sorts in todays relativistic culture. I applaud you in that. But to make this even more simple….the following statements I will take from your post and mine, and you can simply respond with “admit” or “deny” according to what you believe scripture to plainly teach regarding God and soteriology, if you are willing to submit to the questions regarding your position.
      1. God is Holy, Sovereign, Just, Merciful, Loving, Long-suffering, Omnipotent, Omniscient, and Faithful, among other attributes.
      2. God knows all things, including all events and choices of man even before He created the heavens and earth.
      3. God created all that exists for His glory.
      4. God does whatever He pleases in heaven and in earth.
      5. Through one man sin entered the world and death through sin.
      6. All men deserve death because they are conceived in sin.
      7. God chose Israel not because of their worth or size, but so His name would be glorified in them.
      8. The “light” of the nation of Israel was Christ.
      9. The true Israel of God is Christ, and all who are “in Christ” by faith.
      10. God knew, with certainty, before the foundations of the world the individuals who would choose to believe in him. (foreknowledge)
      11. The individuals that do not choose God, will spend eternity in Hell.
      12. All individuals that have ever lived on the entire planet have been given the “chance”, or opportunity, to believe.
      13. God knew, with certainty, those individuals who would not choose Him, even before the foundation of the world. (foreknowledge)
      14. Even though God knew those individuals who would not choose Him, He created them knowing their future negative choice.
      15. God must have a purpose for some individuals who receive mercy, and some who receive justice.
      16. God does not tempt any man nor does He associate with any evil.
      17. Man is not spiritually dead in trespasses and sin, but is just sick.
      18. Jesus died on the cross to provide a “way” or path for all men to come to God.
      19. Jesus’ death on the cross did not guarantee anyone would actually come and be saved.
      20. The great news of the NT, or mystery hidden by the ages, was that now the God of Israel was also God of the gentiles by faith in Christ.
      21. Jesus’ statement “repent and believe the gospel” is a COMMAND.
      22. The gentiles are better equipped than Jews to follow God’s commands.
      23. I believe am saved by the shed blood of Jesus Christ no matter what anyone believes about predestination.
      24. The gentiles, who were not given the law, become a law unto themselves when they obey the law of God written on their heart by the Spirit.
      25. God desired for Israel to follow the ten commandments.
      26. God had a greater purpose in their unbelief, or disobeying of the ten commandments.
      27. All people are capable of following God’s laws and thus saving themselves.
      28. God desires for all people to repent.
      29. God will save all people.
      30. God acts for the glory of His name’s sake.

      So first answer by number with “admit” or “deny” please, then elaborate if you feel the need to explain a reason for admitting or denying any of the statements. I think you are saying God “foreknows” all things and choices and events, but you are not willing to say that this position still leaves God bringing into the world those He knows will never ever choose Him. They, in effect, are brought into the world by God, and God foreknows there final destiny. I’m not blaming here, just making a counter point that Hankins was using the classic “double predestination” straw man to make his Molinistic claim against. This is my sole point. Just like “predestination” and “election”, “foreknowledge” is in the bible, and is there for a reason. I did focus a little on Israel with the questions since I know the inherent issues with the dispensational hermeneutic. God Bless you my brother, see #23.
      Thanks for your honest reply,
      Eric

        Robert

        Eric let’s make sure that you understand something: I am not the one on trial here. So I am not going to play 30 questions with you here. I am not going to spend time answering your 30 questions.

        You presented an argument and I showed problems with it. You refused to deal with *anything* that I said, you did not deal with *any* of my points.

        The only thing you did was to try to question my definition of foreknowledge (which does not make sense since we both agree that foreknowledge means that God knows all future events including our choices before we make them).

        You also completely misunderstood my point about seeing things from our perspective. Your argument presupposes or assumes Calvinism (it assumes that God creates people for hell, that God creates our choices, assumptions non-Calvinists do not hold). I reject these assumptions so I reject your argument as it tries to foist Calvinistic assumptions on a non-Calvinist (which again is like putting your manure in my water and expecting me to drink it, and I won’t).

        Eric you wrote:

        “FYI, I was raised Arminian with a Wesleyan Perfectionist slant, so please don’t assume I don’t understand “your” position.”

        I did not claim that you do not understand our position: I claimed that your argument/question assumes Calvinism. In logic your question is known as a “complex question”. A famous example is the question: “have you stopped beating your wife?” That question is framed wrongly as it assumes that at some point you were beating your wife. The question then assumes something that is not true. If you answer Yes, you admit that you were doing so in the past and continue to do so now. If you answer No, you are still admitting that you did do so in the past. But what if you never did abuse your wife? This question assumes that you did. In the same way your question about God foreknowing people going to hell so therefore he created them for hell assumes Calvinistic ideas that are not true and so must be rejected.

        “The constant tide of confusion between law and gospel is the reason I left the SBC for the Presbytery.’”

        Wait a minute, you are not even a Baptist!

        So Eric why are you posting here?

        Are you attempting to reform Baptists?

        If you hold to Presbyterian beliefs are you going to try to persuade us to adopt baby baptism as well?

        And you must know that Baptists reject the Presbyterian form of church government, baby baptism, etc.
        So why are you posting here???

        Now let’s look at how you try to disagree with my definition of foreknowledge (when you hold the same definition!):

        “In many discussions I’ve had with dissenting views, and the like, definitions always appear to take center stage. You said that for foreknowledge “we mean that God knows every future event that will occur before it occurs.”

        Stop right there.

        What is wrong with THAT definition?

        Do you really define foreknowledge differently than this?

        “But it appears later in your examples you would like to clarify this position of “every future event” as if it occurred with “certainty” or not.”

        Right, I was making the point that when we talk about foreknowledge we are talking about events that will occur with certainty. They will occur with certainty and God knows them before they happen. Foreknowledge is not about what might have happened or what could happen, but about what will in fact happen. Does God know possibilities as well as actualities? Yes, God is omniscient meaning that he knows everything.

        “Either it did or did not occur, but would God not know if did or did not occur??” Omniscience, my friend, cannot mean two different things, for certain! Either God knows all things, or He does not.”

        But I was not defining *omniscience* I was defining foreknowledge.

        If you were asking about my definition of omniscience I would say it is the broader concept meaning that *God knows everything* (that includes all past, present and future events, that includes all possibilities, what might have happened, what could have happened, etc. etc.) and foreknowledge is the narrower concept (that God knows all future events that will in fact take place). Foreknowledge is a subset of omniscience.

        “Either His foreknowledge means what you say it means, or there is a better meaning.”

        And what is a better meaning than “we mean that God knows every future event that will occur before it occurs.”

        Put simply foreknowledge means that God knows things that will happen beforehand.

        You then say as much in your next line:

        “I maintain that since God is not bound by our “space/time continuum”, that there is a better meaning.(Foreknew = knew beforehand).”

        So we both believe that to foreknow means to know beforehand.

        So why are you trying to present things as if my definition and understanding of foreknowledge are incorrect?

        Why try to twist things that way?

        What is the purpose of that?

        “I don’t mean for this to be insulting in any way, but the long “examples” about Bob, Fred, and Joe are too complex for me to follow, biblically speaking. They do serve well for an “apologetic” of sorts in todays relativistic culture. I applaud you in that.”

        My examples were simple and they were intended to make points: points again that you completely ignored and did not deal with at all.

        After trying to get me to play 30 questions with you, you return to the subject of foreknowledge in your final paragraph:

        “I think you are saying God “foreknows” all things and choices and events, but you are not willing to say that this position still leaves God bringing into the world those He knows will never ever choose Him.”

        Before you argued that God creates people whom he foreknows will end up in hell. I challenged this and argued that God brings people into the world who have the capacity of choice, which means they can choose to reject Him and even do so for a lifetime resulting in them going to hell.

        If your point is simply that God foreknows that people will exist who choose to reject him and so end up in hell, then everybody who believes that God has foreknowledge would agree with you.

        The issue is how do they become these hell bound persons?

        Non-Calvinists believe they end up as these kinds of persons by their own choices. God does not make them that way, he does not decree them to be hell bound persons, he does not control their every thought and desire and movement so they have to become hell bound persons. Calvinists on the other hand believe that God decrees that they be hell bound individuals, God chooses not to save them, God chooses to damn them, God controls everything and decrees everything so that they necessarily end up in hell. Put simply in Calvinism God creates hell bound persons, “reprobates.”

        “They, in effect, are brought into the world by God, and God foreknows there final destiny.’”

        However, though God foreknows all future events, we cannot logically conclude from this that that since he brought say a murderer or child molester into the world and foreknows they will do these things that he *creates* people to be murderers or child molesters. People become murderers or child molesters by their own freely made choices.

        Robert

          Eric Robinson, MD

          Hey Robert,

          After reading an exchange between you and “Carl Peterson” in a different post, I think you clearly understand my original question and have been avoiding the implications from the start. I didn’t think you would be willing to submit to the questions. Most are from scripture.

          You said above …”Before you argued that God creates people whom he foreknows will end up in hell. I challenged this and argued that God brings people into the world who have the capacity of choice, which means they can choose to reject Him and even do so for a lifetime resulting in them going to hell. If your point is simply that God foreknows that people will exist who choose to reject him and so end up in hell, then everybody who believes that God has foreknowledge would agree with you.” Also in trying to throw the implications within your own “foreknowledge” view…you said “In the same way your question about God foreknowing people going to hell so therefore he created them for hell assumes Calvinistic ideas that are not true and so must be rejected.”

          OK, first off I didn’t say God creates people for hell. You were assuming this on my part in your manure talk, so I guess I could have used better terminology so as not to throw you off track. But to help you get the point of what I am saying, I will take your position that God “brings” people into the world with the capacity for choice, even libertarian free choice! No robots or puppets here! Is that “brings people” wording more satisfactory…it is straight from your last post? Some people do reject Him and end up in Hell, right? So according to your understanding of God’s foreknowledge, doesn’t that mean that God knew what their choice would be in rejecting Him, and yet they are “brought” into the world anyway to make that choice, and thus suffer the consequences of said choice?

          Soooooo, according to the T6, which is where this all began, with the “not this and not that” But Baptists! traditional soteriology, the assertion by the T6 signers were three things right? God loves everyone the same, Jesus died to “atone” for all sins, and that God desires all people to be saved.
          Again, since you have defined for us God’s foreknowledge as His knowing all future events and choices of men, then my question is simply this: why does God bring men into the world that He knows will reject Him??? Since God knows that they will reject Him, and God desires for all people to be saved, then why bring those “rejecting” people into the world in the first place?

          Eric

          (I would tend to define foreknowledge according to the passages in which it is found, such as Rm. 8:28-30, not limiting God to a “corridor of time” view. Instead I would say that God “knew” in an intimate sense all those He gave the Son as the church in all ages)

          If you have ever seen the movie “Zoolander” I have a good analogy for you regarding this logic idea “not true” and “must be rejected.” (Analytical bias)

            Norm Miller

            Robert and Eric:
            No more ‘manure’ words, plz.
            Thx,
            Moderator

            Robert

            Wow Eric you continue to play this game of “I am Biblical {because I am Calvinist} and you are not!”

            You played this game when you wrote:

            “After reading an exchange between you and “Carl Peterson” in a different post, I think you clearly understand my original question and have been avoiding the implications from the start. I didn’t think you would be willing to submit to the questions. Most are from scripture.”

            First, I have not “been avoiding the implications from the start.”

            I have been avoiding reasoning with your and other Calvinistic assumptions. I reject them and refuse to answer questions that presuppose them. I won’t answer the “have you stopped beating your wife” question for the same reason, it assumes things that are not true.

            Second, you asked 30 questions, that was totally inappropriate for a discussion like this. Who has time to answer 30 questions in this kind of discussion. I refused to answer your 30 questions and now you respond with:

            “I didn’t think you would be willing to submit to the questions. Most are from scripture.”

            Hmm, so you imply that I do not submit to scripture, huh?

            You presented your 30 questions and you say that you did not think I would be WILLING to SUBMIT to the questions because they are from scripture.

            So I have a submission problem according to you. This is just ridiculous. You ask your 30 questions which is inappropriate for this context, I don’t answer, and them I have a submission problem, I am not willing to answer scriptural questions! Wow, how twisted can things get.

            I continue to refuse to answer your 30 questions.

            “OK, first off I didn’t say God creates people for hell. You were assuming this on my part in your manure talk,”

            Actually you did, you wrote:

            “then why did God go ahead and create these people for Hell in the first place???” . . . .

            “Did God create these non-wise choosing/Hell bound people for destruction in the manner that the potter has power over the clay as vessels fit to display His hatred of sin and thus deserving of wrath”,

            You actually ask why did God “create these people for Hell.” So how can you now claim that you never said this?????

            You then ask:

            “Some people do reject Him and end up in Hell, right? So according to your understanding of God’s foreknowledge, doesn’t that mean that God knew what their choice would be in rejecting Him, and yet they are “brought” into the world anyway to make that choice, and thus suffer the consequences of said choice?”

            But we could say this about any sin or evil. Take child molestation as an example:

            “So according to your understanding of God’s foreknowledge, doesn’t that mean that God knew what their choice in molesting children would be, and yet they are “brought” into the world anyway to make that choice, and thus suffer the consequences of said choice?”

            Put anything in the slot and it becomes a problem, according to your reasoning here.

            “Again, since you have defined for us God’s foreknowledge as His knowing all future events and choices of men, then my question is simply this: why does God bring men into the world that He knows will reject Him??? Since God knows that they will reject Him, and God desires for all people to be saved, then why bring those “rejecting” people into the world in the first place?”

            Again this reasoning breaks down with any sin or evil:

            “Why does God bring men into the world that He knows will murder, rape, steal, etc. etc.??? Since God knows that they will murder, rape, steal, etc., and God does not desire for people to murder, rape, steal, etc, then why bring those murderers, rapists, thieves, etc. into the world in the first place?”

            Lastly you wrote:

            “(I would tend to define foreknowledge according to the passages in which it is found, such as Rm. 8:28-30, not limiting God to a “corridor of time” view. Instead I would say that God “knew” in an intimate sense all those He gave the Son as the church in all ages)”

            I define foreknowledge by the Greek term used in the NT, it meant “to know beforehand.” Thomas Edgar wrote a very good article on the meaning of foreknowledge in the Greek in the NT (but you probably should not read the article as it contradicts your view and is based on the Greek text of the NT).

            “If you have ever seen the movie “Zoolander” I have a good analogy for you regarding this logic idea “not true” and “must be rejected.” (Analytical bias)”

            Never saw the movie so I have no idea what you are talking about here.

            Robert

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