Interview with Ronnie Rogers, a former Calvinist

July 16, 2012

The editors of SBCToday present a two-part interview with Ronnie W. Rogers – pastor, Southern Baptist statesman, and former Calvinist — whose 2012 book, “Reflections of a Disenchanted Calvinist,” recently caught our attention. SBCToday will also post selected excerpts from his books in the ensuing days.

Ronnie is senior pastor of Trinity Baptist Church in Norman, Okla., a university city cited by the North American Mission Board in 2006 as the most unchurched in the state. Pastor Rogers’ expositional sermons draw large collegiate crowds during the school year as he preaches and teaches (and writes) from a biblical perspective that boldly challenges popular culture.

A magna cum laude graduate from Criswell College in Dallas, Ronnie matriculated to Henderson State University, Arkadelphia, Ark., for a Master’s in Counseling to complement his Bachelor’s in Biblical Studies. Ronnie is a member of the Oxford Roundtable, having presented three papers at the famed institution in England.

From SBC boards to state convention president to the local associational, Ronnie is a Southern Baptist Statesman. He served as chairman of the SBC’s Committee on Nominations, and later on the Committee on Committees; was a board member and later chairman of trustees at Midwestern Seminary; was president of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention; and served as vice moderator for the Garland (Texas) County Association.

Comments about the following interview will be open. However, for anyone wishing to engage Pastor Rogers about his views, SBCToday’s editors recommend reading his book first as we believe he ought not have to rewrite his book as replies to the voluminous comments and questions the interview is expected to generate.

You may obtain a copy of “Reflections of a Disenchanted Calvinist: The Disquieting Realities of Calvinism” at Amazon.com. Pastor Rogers has written two other books: “The Death of Man as Man: The Rise and Decline of Liberty,” 2011; and “Undermining The Gospel: The Case for Church Discipline,” 2004.


How did you initially arrive at your original Calvinistic position?

After accepting Christ, I began studying an average of five hours a day, a practice I have continued throughout my Christian life — 35 years. I read Lewis Sperry Chafer’s eight-volume Systematic Theology three times. This provided me with a systematic approach to the perplexities of Scripture, e.g., predestination, election, free will, etc. This was followed by reading other Calvinists’ commentaries and systematic theologies. I became a 4-point Calvinist and remained unabashedly so for the next 20 years.

Retrospectively, as I have shared with others, I now see another dimension to my choice of Calvinism. When a person becomes a Baptist, he is exposed to two positions — Arminianism and Calvinism — and everything else is simply a derivative of one of those, e.g., 5-point, 4-point, etc. Now, he can’t be an Arminian because at the end of the continuum is the Devil and just before him is Arminianism. Thus, if he does not desire to become a Methodist, he must be a Calvinist of sorts. My pilgrimage, which parallels many others, highlights the problem of defining our theological position based on how many steps up we are on the Calvinist ladder. Even in our seminaries, our theology books are Calvinistic, which profoundly highlights the need to develop non-Arminian, non-Calvinist systematic theology books. Also, we need to define ourselves by some other standard than Calvinism, which practice presently makes Calvinism the default standard of orthodoxy like it or not.

Now, I see this forced decision as the either/or fallacy. I have sought to systematically answer the biblical paradoxes from a biblical vantage point that does not seek to be consistent with Calvinism, Molinism, or Arminianism, but only the Scripture.

I now am not a Calvinist-biblicist, Arminian-biblicist or Molinist-biblicist, but simply a biblicist without a preceding adjective.
What was your sense about yourself at that time, spiritually, academically, theologically?

I was very dedicated to grow in my knowledge of God so that I could follow Him more closely. I was growing spiritually, academically, and theologically. I loved God deeply, and I assume the same today for my Calvinist brothers and sisters.

Retrospectively, I was very prideful about Calvinism. Everything else was wrong and unintellectual. I deeply regret my prideful attitude about that now. This saddens me, and I see it in many young Christians whom I know have not come to truly understand Calvinism or Scripture enough to be so pridefully sure, which is not a statement about the biblical soundness of Calvinism or the lack thereof. That is another issue. However, my experience helps me to be more patient with younger (and some older as well) people who claim to be Calvinist.

Did you have any uneasiness in your heart when you began to imbibe Calvinism?

No. I was very excited, certain and satisfied. I continued to study Calvinism in order to better understand the Scripture, e.g., Institutes, Hodge, Shedd, Boyce, commentaries, etc. Thus, I had no uneasiness about Calvinism at the beginning and for many years thereafter.

Retrospectively, my comfort level with Calvinism was due to what I called then “a gentler and kinder Calvinism” e.g., 4-point, still talked of the tragedy of rejecting Christ, etc., which I now refer to non-pejoratively as “double-talk.” Of course, I admit that I was as guilty as any Calvinist for my quotidian reliance upon double-talk. My desire now is to help Calvinists see their use of this subtle rhetorical skill so that they may see the “disquieting realities of Calvinism,” thereby enabling them to accurately determine whether or not they are a Calvinist. Added to the problem of double-talk is that most people who claim to be a Calvinist, or Calvinistic, have so nuanced their Calvinism that it is no longer Calvinism, but rather a very personalized non-Calvinism Calvinism. Everything hinges on “unconditional election.”

Part 2:  Read part 2 of Ronnie Rogers’ interview tomorrow.
Sneak peek: “I was convinced that Calvinism was wrong and that I had been wrong. I came to believe that there was a better way to interpret the Scripture, although my abandonment of Calvinism left me uncomfortably holding beliefs that still had significant unanswered questions.”

 

 

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Jeremy Crowder

I hate that we are left with “Everything hinges on “unconditional election.”
I’m looking forward to reading the rest.

    Norm Miller

    Jeremy, et al:
    I have received an email from Pastor Rogers indicating he has checked on the blog post today. In that email he said he would be willing to write a subsequent post that would answer substantive and sincere (my words) inquiries and questions.
    In the mean time, he has offered this explanation* regarding yours and others’ comments.
    Thx for your interest. — Norm

    *The following are Pastor Rogers’ words:
    “Unconditional election is the eternal choice of God—who would be saved—whereas, “irresistible grace” is the process for accomplishing “unconditional election”, without which, irresistible grace is unnecessary.”

Ryan

Imbibing? Oh my…

That said, the answer to that question raises more questions than it answers. For starters, how is it double-talk to speak of the tragedy of rejecting Christ, even if you go so far as to say a man was predestined for damnation [or if you stop short and just say he was not predestined to salvation]? Whether or not a person could possibly have reached an alternate end does not change the tragic consequences of persistent unbelief – i.e. everlasting punishment is tragic any way you cut it. The tragedy is in the result of dying in sin, not in the process for how you ended up there; or, the proof is in the pudding.

Hoping part two provides more clarity in its retrospectives. : P

    volfan007

    Ryan,

    I took him to mean that it’s double talk, because people really have no choice in the matter…in the Calvinist scheme of things. That there really is no choice….no real chance to reject anything. People are either going to Heaven, or not going to Heaven, simply due to some arbitrary choice of God. And, those people, who are not chosen by God, really do not have any choice…thus, how can they reject anything?

    David

      Shawn

      “people really have no choice in the matter…in the Calvinist scheme of things.”

      Actually people make the choice all the time … to reject Christ. And that’s all they will ever do, seeing as they are, as the Bible describes us in our natural state as being dead in our sins, at enmity with God, blind and deaf to the things of God, enslaved to sin (and loving it!), and those who encourage others to join us in sin; unable to understand spiritual things, unable to do that which is pleasing in the sight of God (wouldn’t repenting of sin and believing on the Lord Jesus be pleasing in the sight of God?); under the dominion of sin, blinded by Satan, etc. Does that sound like someone who is “free” or who would repent and believe if they had a “chance” to do so? The Spirt of God MUST change the disposition of the heart, or there will NEVER be a change! You have a place to boast in your salvation. You were smart enough to figure out the Gospel was true, while that stupid person who sat on the same pew heard the Gospel and thought it was about as moving as “meow”. Really now. Got anymore straw men and misrepresentations of the Doctrines of Grace?

        volfan007

        Shawn,

        Can the non Elect choose God?  According to your scheme of things, can they really choose God? Can they even respond to God?  If God does not regenerate them first, can they respond to God? If yoyour answer is no, then they really didnt have a choice…..not really. And so, when the Bible commands all men to repent, then God is telling people to do something that they absolutely cannot do.

        David

Tim Rogers

Ryan,

everlasting punishment is tragic any way you cut it. The tragedy is in the result of dying in sin, not in the process for how you ended up there; or, the proof is in the pudding.

Agreed this is tragic. However, the problem is the creation of God that has no hope that is presented. According the Calvinism God chose and we cannot do anything about His choice. Our repentance, remorse, contrite heart, doesn’t get God’s attention in the least? Your very words of “stopping short” by saying God’s not choosing someone for salvation is not the same as saying God chose someone to damnation, is exactly the “double-speak” Dr. Rogers presents here. You seem to overlook a logical perspective to your words. “To choose not to choose, is a choice”. To say that God did not choose someone for damnation but he did not choose them for eternity with him means that God is not responsible for the damnation for the soul is absurd. Given that the system is based all on God and nothing on man.

This very objective you are trying to present violates scripture in a number of ways. Psalm 51:17; Matthew 19:16-26 just to name two.

If I take your Calvinism perspective and symbolize it with an emoticon it would look like this–God hates me :(

If I take my Baptist theology that Dr. Rogers is purporting and symbolize it with an emoticon it would look like this–God loves me :)

    T.R.

    Unless you are an open theist, this applies to you as well. God created the person knowing full well that they would reject Christ and wind up in Hell and He created them any way. You’re own traditionalist double talk, nevertheless, leads to God creating someone He knows He will throw in Hell and He creates them any way.

      holdon

      “God creating someone He knows He will throw in Hell and He creates them any way.

      Typical talk of a Calvinist (or perhaps you’re hyper?).

      God is done creating since what +- 6000 years? God, when He creates, creates well and good. God doesn’t make bad pottery….

      So, God does not create persons “anyway” (they are procreated).

        M.R. Williams

        Holden:

        Why is that “typical talk of a Calvinist”? It is a valid point T.R. makes. Like he says, unless a person holds to an open theistic view, that person would have to acknowledge that God allowed a person to be born whom He knew in His foreknowledge would be eternally condemned if they were not saved.

        Maybe I’m missing the reason why you reponded so.

        Respectfully,
        Mike

          holdon

          Mike,

          What is typical is this reasoning:
          1. “God creates persons”.
          2. “They are all bad (sinners, lost, etc.)”
          3. “God knows who will reject Him, but decides to create them anyway”
          4. “God throws some of them in Hell”

          Where the reasoning is faulty, is number 1: God only created Adam and Eve. Therefore, the final result of some ending up in Hell, is not God’s fault or doing. (otherwise it is, as supra’s will readily admit)
          This has nothing to do with open theism, I think.

      Johnathan Pritchett

      T.R.

      What is the issue here for Traditionalism? How is this double-talk from Traditionalism?

      We fully affirm:

      Article Seven: The Sovereignty of God

      We affirm God’s eternal knowledge of and sovereignty over every person’s salvation or condemnation.

      We deny that God’s sovereignty and knowledge require Him to cause a person’s acceptance or rejection of faith in Christ.

      Genesis 1:1; 6:5-8; 18:16-33; 22; 2 Samuel 24:13-14; 1 Chronicles 29:10-20; 2 Chronicles 7:14; Joel 2:32; Psalm 23; 51:4; 139:1-6; Proverbs 15:3; John 6:44; Romans 11:3; Titus 3:3-7; James 1:13-15; Hebrews 11:6, 12:28; 1 Peter 1:17

      No double-talk here. The difference between Calvinism and Traditionalism is in causation and how it works in eternity and providentially.

      “God creating someone He knows He will throw in Hell and He creates them any way.”

      Absolutely! That is the purview of God in creation. Why He throws into hell those whom He created knowing they will reject Christ is not by deterministic fiat for the Traditionalist as it is for the Calvinist (via meticulous decree). What God knows in eternity to be the case is not identical to WHY it is the case, nor is it the primary cause for it to be the case on our view.

      The Calvinist (whether hard determinist or compatibilist) insists that it is identical to why it is the case and the primary cause for it to be the case.

      Have you ever read a book on providence, foreknowledge, etc. from various perspectives? There are a couple of “Four Views” books out there on the issues. I highly recommend them to get more familiar with the distinctives and differences of each, regarding both how sharp and subtle they may be.

      If you have read them, then you know these distinctives and differences and therefore I would ask that you dispense with red herring rhetoric and defend a position in straight-forward manner absent double-speak on the one hand, and false assertions of the same against your opponents on the other.

        T.R.

        Neo-Traditionalism seems like double talk to me because you believe both that your salvation depends on your freewill and yet you believe that once you believe you are eternally secure. That sounds like inconsistent double talk to me because “If your salvation depends on your freewill, then your salvation depends on your freewill!” It seems like double talk to me also to proclaim you believe salvation is by grace alone, when you do have a contingency that your salvation hinges on: your faith. It seems like double talk to me that you believe in the power of the atonement of Christ, when in reality the neo-traditionalist atonement can do know more than make salvation possible for all man. It secures salvation for no man, not until they do the great act of believing. There is a lot of inconsistent double talk in the neo-traditionalist belief system–a system that is really no less than 4-point Arminianism–but proclaimed to be something different.

    Chris Roberts

    Tim,

    People go to Hell because they sinfully choose to rebel against God. People go to Heaven because God rescues them. The tragedy is that people choose to rebel. The grace is that God chooses to rescue.

      Lydia

      “The tragedy is that people choose to rebel”

      So they can “choose NOT to rebel”?

        Chris Roberts

        Yes, though they never will.

          Lydia

          “Yes, though they never will.”

          Is it really a “choice” then?

          Do I have this right, Chris? You are saying they have the “choice” to NOT rebel? They have this choice while being totally depraved (using the Calvin definition for TD)? All humans?

          Yet, you said this earlier:

          “People go to Hell because they sinfully choose to rebel against God. People go to Heaven because God rescues them. The tragedy is that people choose to rebel. The grace is that God chooses to rescue.”

          This is why many of us see Calvinism as doublespeak.

          Chris Roberts

          Lydia,

          God grants the freedom, we always choose to rebel. The reason we always choose to rebel is because of our corruption due to sin, a corruption that remains in us ever since the fall of Adam and Eve. This truth is presented over and over and over again in Scripture. We are dead in our sins, we never do good, we never seek God, we will always sin apart from God’s grace. This is simple Bible. The choice is real, yet because of the corruption we brought on ourselves, we always choose sin.

          Donald

          “Yes, though they never will.”

          Thanks Chris, for a perfect example of the double talk.

        peter lumpkins

        Lydia,

        Lydia: “So they can choose NOT”…?

        Chris: “Yes…”

        So, whatever happened to total inability in the Calvinist’s arsenal? If he or she could choose not to rebel, does it not follow that it is not a matter of ability or inability but willingness or unwillingness? Sweet Georgia Peaches! Is that not half-baked Semi-Pelagianism? :^)

        With that, I am…
        Peter

          Chris Roberts

          Peter,

          I am sure you know the the answer, or at least should by now. For hints, see my response to Lydia.

          peter lumpkins

          Sorry, Chris. That is *not* an answer–at least to what I logged to Lydia. “Can” and “could” have to do with *ability” remember? You’re the one who said, “Yes” one “could”. Well, if one *could* then it seems to follow *ability* is being referenced. This is not a rhetorical or semantics issue. Rather it’s substantive and very well may demonstrate the “double-speak” latent within Calvinistic positions.

          With that, I am…
          Peter

          Brad Reynolds

          Chris
          If I am incapable of flying then no matter how much someone may insist I have a choice to do so – I really do not –

          unless of course you are saying man is capable of choosing right.

          Johnnie Harrison

          Here is a perfect example Peter. Currently one of my wife’s greatest desires is to stay home with our two daughters. She is unable due to finances. Lets just say that if she had an old desire (this would be just as great as the new desire) to work instead of stay home. This would represent her life before Christ. If then her desires were changed to where they are now, where she wants to stay home with the girls more than almost anything, this would be her new desire given to her by the Lord (Regeneration). Now given a choice in the former, her greatest desire would be to choose to work. She would always choose to work because it is her greatest desire. However, now that her desires have been changed she would never choose to stay at home if given the choice. Her greatest desire would dictate her decision. In the same way when we are regenerated we are changed from God haters to God lovers and our desire goes from hating Him to loving Him. At this point every person regenerated would choose God every time. He has now become their greatest desire.

          Brad Reynolds

          Johnnie
          You seem to be saying a “nonelect” lost person is “capable” of choosing right even though he will not. In otherwords, I think we agree (Jesus died for his sins). We also agree that a person who dies without Christ (nonelect if you prefer) found it too difficult to ever have faith and always chose to suppress the truth rather than believe it. That is different from saying he could not be saved. If I am wrong concerning what you are saying I apologize I would love to understand better.

          Shawn

          Calvinists do not (thoughtfully) say “can and cannot” in the same sentence, when speaking of repentance and faith. The unregenerate is not being stopped by God from repenting and believing, but only by his own sinful nature, and his desire for the love of his life, his sin (and he will destroy all who would take his love from him).

          No one ever came to Christ who was not drawn by the Father FIRST. Jesus said that ALL whom the Father has given him will come to him and he will raise them up on the Last Day. He repeats again that all who come to him are those who’ve learned from the Father, and that he raises ALL of these up on the Last Day.

          The first time Christ mentions this is the few verses prior (all of this is from John 6) where Jesus said “No one can come to me unless the Father draws him, and I will raise him up on the Last Day.” Jesus DIDN’T say “No one MAY come to me unless …” which would be that no one has permission to come, but rather Jesus said “No one CAN come to me unless …” that is, no one has the ability to come to him … unless a required condition is met … that the Father draws them … and Jesus says that ALL whom the Father draws DO come to him.

          WHY?

          Because they have been taught by the Father, and were the very ones whom the Father had already given to the Son, and ALL of these are raised up on the Last Day. ALL of them! Every. Single. One. And none can be snatched from His hand. Jesus laid down his life for the sheep. His sheep know his voice, and follow him, and WILL NOT follow another.

          ALL whom the Father foreknew (not foreknew that they’d do something, but foreknew THEM) … ALL of these were predestined; whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; whom He justified, these He also glorified. ALL who are glorified, are those who were justified. ALL who were justified are those who were called.

          Do all end up being glorified? Are all justified? Then not all were called … not in the manner in which Jesus is speaking. They did not learn from the Father. They were not drawn by the Father unto the Son, for Him to raise them up on the Last Day.”

          And as many as were ordained to eternal life believed.” It doesn’t say “as many as believed were ordained to eternal life.” It says that those who were ordained TO eternal life believed. Jesus said to those who did not believe “You do no believe BECAUSE you are not my sheep.” He then said to His disciples “This is why I said that no one can come to me unless it is GRANTED them by the Father.”

          He SHALL see the travail of His soul and be SATISFIED.

          holdon

          Shawn,

          “They did not learn from the Father.”
          Yes, I (non-calvinist) agree. The learning is everyone’s business to do. God gives the lesson to all:
          “And they shall be all taught of God.”

          Only some are bad learners, like the Jews in Jn 6 that already had made up their mind against Jesus.

          So, it’s synergistic as all teaching is: God provides the lesson; people have to accept it.

          Don Johnson

          Shawn,

          You wrote – “The unregenerate is not being stopped by God from repenting and believing…”

          He does do it sometimes.

Ron Hale

Thanks for the interview; I’m looking forward to the second part!

I felt this line was most interesting …

“Added to the problem of double-talk is that most people who claim to be a Calvinist, or Calvinistic, have so nuanced their Calvinism that it is no longer Calvinism, but rather a very personalized non-Calvinism Calvinism.”

In thinking of the recent controversy concerning the Sinner’s Prayer, as certain Calvinists gave their personal responses to the public on the issue, their responses sounded much more non-Calvinist than in their previous forums. Which begs the questions: is it just an ongoing inconsistency, or a double-talk, or a very personalized non-Calvinism Calvinism?

Overall … I think interviews like this does enhance our overall understanding of the subject and of each other. Blessings!

    Chris Roberts

    Ron,

    I think what’s actually happening is people are starting to see that Calvinism is not the caricature.

    Max

    ‘ … a very personalized non-Calvinism Calvinism.”

    I’m certainly finding this to be the case with some of the young reformed I engage in conversation. There appears to be as many threads of reformed thinking as there are flavors at the local frozen yogurt place. It’s clear that these young folks lean one way or the other depending on the teachings of their primary “influencer” of the day (Piper, Keller, Driscoll, etc.). About the time they think they have it figured out, another “Piper Point” is tossed at them to merge into their personalized form of Calvinism. Driscoll even manufactured his own brand of limited atonement he refers to as a version of unlimited-limited atonement! Throw into this mix of “new” Calvinism, “old” Calvinist perspective and you have these young folks wondering which end is up. For example, Calvinist R.C. Sproul doesn’t have much patience with 4-pointers, believing that such folks are confused about what the doctrine of limited atonement actually teaches. Sproul cites Martin Luther in referring to this as “resistless logic” as one claims unconditional election, but rejects limited atonement. Such noise only adds to the confusion as young folks are trying to bring a balance to non-Calvinism/Calvinism. When you probe the depths of New Calvinist belief and practice at the individual level, uncertainty appears to be growing in their ranks by the more voices they expose themselves to.

Dr. Bruce McLaughlin

“Now, he can’t be an Arminian because at the end of the continuum is the Devil and just before him is Arminianism.”

Was this statement made by someone who deeply regrets a lifetime of theological confusion? Are the Methodists, Nazarenes, Wesleyans, Free Will Baptists, Pentecostals and a few seminaries shaking in their collective boots? Here is an illustration of the great divide between Calvinism and Arminianism. Is Ronnie Rogers somewhere in between? If so, where?

More than 150,000 people die in this world each day. Some souls are saved from eternal damnation but most are not. The Calvinist believes, at the end of each day, not one of the lost could have been saved even if the level of Christian evangelism had been increased by a factor of one billion for the past 1900 years. Conversely, at the end of each day, not one of the saved could have been lost if the level of evangelism had long ago dropped to zero. Before the world was formed, the Calvinist believes God assigned each person to one of two mathematical sets; elect and non-elect. Nothing can move a single person from one set to the other. When the Calvinist evangelist addresses a throng, he is not praying that all will be saved. He merely wishes to be God’s instrument for helping the elect identify themselves prior to their unconditional regeneration.

The Arminian believes, at the end of each day, all 150,000+ human souls could have been saved and God grieves deeply for those who were lost. The Arminian believes salvation is offered to all by the prevenient grace of God which is the grace that comes before salvation. This Biblical concept of grace includes the following:

•Man is totally depraved and not capable of thinking or doing any good thing – a concept embraced by both Arminians and Calvinists (Rom 3:23).

•The prevenient grace of God that brings salvation appears to all men through the unconditional benefit of the atonement (Titus 2:11; Rom 2:15; Rom 1:20).

•Prior to salvation, God initiates, advances and perfects everything that can be called good in man. God leads the sinner from one step to another in proportion as He finds response in the heart and disposition to obedience (John 16:8; Rev 3:20).

•Some men allow God to quicken, assist and nudge their free will to facilitate confession of sin, remorse, repentance, faith and obedience so they may receive the great gift of salvation (1 Pet 1:9).

•Other men choose to resist and reject the grace of God (2 Thes 1:8-9).

Arminianism holds that salvation is all from grace; every movement of the soul toward God is initiated by divine grace. But it recognizes also the cooperation of the human will in that the grace of God can be resisted and rejected. During the period prior to Augustine, this interpretation of the prevenient grace of God was questioned only by the Gnostics and Manichaeans. It was uniformly embraced by church fathers including Justin, Tertullian, Clement of Alexandria, Origen and Cyprian. A lax interpretation of prevenient grace later led to Pelagianism. The unguarded condemnation of Pelagianism by Augustine led to what we now call Calvinism.

    Dale Pugh

    I can’t speak for him, but I think he was making a humorous statement to illustrate how Baptists have viewed Arminianism. That’s the way I took it. It really has only been the past few years that I’ve heard Baptists speak of embracing Arminianism in any fashion. Maybe I was out of the loop or hung out in circles where it wasn’t an issue…….

    Nate

    Arminians believe that a person, once saved, can reject their salvation and be damned. Baptists, at least SBC Baptists, have never believed this, which is why Arminianism is rejected by us. The 2000 Baptist Faith and Message denounces that kind of belief.

      Johnathan Pritchett

      Arminians are evenly divided on that issue, so it isn’t quite right to claim that about all our Arminian brothers and sisters in a general way.

      Arminius himself was virtually silent on the issue, and his followers have been divided ever since.

        Nate

        Arminius skirts the issue. While he does say that a believer is kept by Christ, it is “conditional” upon the believer desiring, working, and striving to persevere. Salvation is conditional upon the individual responding to the gospel, and persevering is conditional to the believer fighting sin, and desiring the assistance of Christ. The Remonstrants, Wesley, and others have always held that apostasy is possible by a “believer.”

          Johnathan Pritchett

          I affirm the eternal security of the believer, even wrote the Traditionalist Article 9 commentary on that issue (soon to be published here), but I would also affirm “it is ‘conditional’ upon the believer desiring, working, and striving to persevere. Salvation is conditional upon the individual responding to the gospel, and persevering is conditional to the believer fighting sin, and desiring the assistance of Christ.” To that, I would add that individual should constantly be doing such things.

          That doing those things is a mark of one being in Christ, and demonstrates the work of God in a person to evidence those traits (and in the lives of believers I would argue that this occurs from beginning of conversion to the end in glorification); that does nothing to take away the “conditional” aspect of that, properly speaking. If a person does not persevere to the end, such a person will not be saved in the end. If a person does, they will.

          Again, that God does a work in someone born again to see this accomplished in them does not mean it is not a condition proper on the part of the individual as well. God’s work in the “that” and “how” it comes about in one meeting a condition is another issue (I would say that all Calvinists, Arminians, and Traditionalists would agree with this generally, but differ in the details).

          If all this were not the case, all exhortation to believers in Scripture to do such things and avoid their opposites are meaningless.

          I also wouldn’t say Arminius skirts the issue either. Rather, he appropriately talks about the issue the way Scripture does in exhorting believers to press on persevering in the faith.

          But, yes, as I said as well, there are streams of Ariminianism that do hold to the possibility of apostasy of the believer.

          I do not, but then again, I am not an Arminian of any stream either. :)

        Jeremy Crowder

        Agree Johnathan.

    Jeremy Crowder

    Good job Dr. Bruce McLaughlin!

Johnnie Harrison

When is SBC Today going to interview a Calvinist to actually see what they really believe and teach? All of the articles on Calvinism I have read thus far are filled with straw man arguments and answers from people who are self proclaimed Calvinists but don’t seem to understand the arguments from the Calvinist side. There is no such thing as 4 point Calvinism. That is simply labeled inconsistent theology. Also the name Lewis Sperry Chafer makes Calvinists cringe. Please interview someone that is a 5 point Calvinist. Try John Macarthur, James White, RC Sproul, Im sure there are many more that people from SBC Today know and could easily get in contact with.

    Norm Miller

    Hi Johnnie: If one wants a Calvinist’s view point, then go to any number of blogs that purport to have such. That is not to say this blog will never have such. In fact, it was the preponderance of Calvinistic blogs that partially influenced the launch of SBCT.
    Many Calvinists have told me that one cannot hold less than all 5 points and be a Calvinist. If that level of specificity exists among true (5-point) Calvinists, then there may be far fewer Calvinists in the SBC than is claimed.
    And in case anyone would be dismissive of Pastor Rogers because he doesn’t hold all 5 points, perhaps a fair reading of his book would help to see where he perceives the “disquieting realities” of Calvinism.
    Thx for your input and interest. — Norm

      T.R.

      It took me 10 years of being a 4 1/2 point Calvinist to finally accept all 5 points. And now I realize that Arminians (such as the closet-Arminian Traditionalists here) are just as guilty of limiting the atonement of Christ. You limit its power to a mere offer of salvation, rather than as the Scripture actually teaches: that Christ forever secured our salvation on the cross.

        Johnathan Pritchett

        T.R.

        You clearly do not understand the Scripture’s witness on the atonement.

        You wrote”…are just as guilty of limiting the atonement of Christ. You limit its power to a mere offer of salvation, rather than as the Scripture actually teaches: that Christ forever secured our salvation on the cross.”

        We fully affirm the full range, power, and purpose of the atonement. We fully affirm that it forever secured the salvation of believers.

        No one here asserts it is a “mere offer”. But we preach as commanded because there is life offered in Christ, His accomplishment on the cross, and nowhere else.

        What in the world did you think preaching, proclaiming, and exhortation of Calvary was for?

        If you want to swap caricatures, here are some for you: Calvinism believes God grants life apart from and distinct from the cross, reducing it to “mere theater”, and instead of the Gospel being God’s power unto salvation and preaching accordingly, those are just “mere means”.

        Can do this all day brother…or perhaps you’d like to return to serious, grown folk conversation.

          T.R.

          Quotes on the atonement for Johnathan Pritchett:

          “In its simplest terms the Reformed belief is this: Christ’s death saves sinners. It does not make the salvation of sinners a mere possibility. It does not provide a theoretical atonement. It requires no additions, whether they be the meritorious works of me or the autonomous act of faith flowing from a “free will.” Christ’s death saves every single person that it was intended to save.”
          The Potter’s Freedom, James R. White, Calvary Press Publishing, 2000 p. 230.

          John Piper writes:
          “It becomes evident that it is not the Calvinist who limits the atonement. It is the Arminian, because he denies that the atoning death of Christ accomplishes what we most desperately need—namely, salvation from the condition of deadness and hardness and blindness under the wrath of God. The Arminian limits the nature and value and effectiveness of the atonement so that he can say that it was accomplished even for those who die in unbelief and are condemned. In order to say that Christ died for all men in the same way, the Arminian must limit the atonement to a powerless opportunity for men to save themselves from their terrible plight of depravity.

          On the other hand we do not limit the power and effectiveness of the atonement. We simply say that in the cross God had in view the actual redemption of his children. And we affirm that when Christ died for these, he did not just create the opportunity for them to save themselves, but really purchased for them all that was necessary to get them saved, including the grace of regeneration and the gift of faith.”
          http://www.desiringgod.org/ResourceLibrary/Articles/ByDate/1985/1487_What_We_Believe_About_the_Five_Points_of_Calvinism/

      Chris Roberts

      Norm,

      My understanding is that most polls in the SBC have specifically asked people if they were five-point Calvinists, which means the numbers of those claiming Calvinism may be much higher than polls indicate.

        Brad Whitt

        Chris,

        It was nice meeting you at the convention.

        As to your statement, “most polls in the SBC have specifically asked people if they were five-point Calvinists.” I don’t think that is correct. If I understood Lifeway’s latest release, the only two options given to SB’s were Calvinist and Arminian. So, are all of those who selected “Calvinist” five pointers? I know Danny Akin isn’t. He says he’s a 4.5. James Merritt too, 4.5. I understand and would actually agree that if you are not a full fiver pointer you probably shouldn’t call yourself a “Calvinist.” At least that is what I’m told by my few Reformed friends. If that is to be the standard, then again, I think that the number of true “Calvinists” in the SBC is much smaller than what was presented at the Convention this past June.

          D.R. Randle

          Brad,

          It only muddies the water to talk about what this group of Calvinists thinks makes a “true Calvinist” vs. what that group thinks makes one. Calvinists are just like Baptists in that when 2 are gathered, 3 opinions probably exist among them.

          As for the reliability of polls, the reality is that when you ask people to be very specific about their beliefs by applying a label to them, you are likely going to get skewed results. And I think that is what Chris is pointing out. Far too many recent studies have focused on using labels that many people on each side of the soteriological divide would eschew, thus leading to an unclear picture of what the SBC actually looks like soteriologically.

          Personally, I think the convention showed that the vast majority are somewhere in the middle of the divide and will continue to side with the group that they believe offers the best vision for the future of the SBC. Right now, I think most Southern Baptists see a brighter future with the Calvinists, not because they agree wholeheartedly with their soteriology, but because they fail to see the dangers of Calvinism that some (like yourself) have tried to promulgate. Instead, I think most in the SBC today (especially most of those under 45) actually resonate better with guys like Matt Chandler, David Platt, and Russell Moore than they do with Paige Patterson, Eric Hankins, and Jerry Vines.

          And, as I’ve said before numerous times on various blogs, until there is actually a positive, non-reactionary, spiritually-vibrant non-Calvinist movement in the SBC, people will continue to be drawn toward a more Reformed vision of the future.

          Lydia

          “Instead, I think most in the SBC today (especially most of those under 45) actually resonate better with guys like Matt Chandler, David Platt, and Russell Moore than they do with Paige Patterson, Eric Hankins, and Jerry Vines. ”

          Driscoll and Piper have been big influencers to the SBC YRR.

          What you seem to be admitting in your comment that this NC is more cultural and what is considered cool.

          I am really hoping we do not have more Acts 29 or any SGM type church plants. I do not think that will be positive for the SBC at all.

          Chris Roberts

          Brad,

          Looks like you are right, to a degree.

          http://www.lifeway.com/ArticleView?storeId=10054&catalogId=10001&langId=-1&article=research-sbc-pastors-polled-on-calvinism-affect-on-convention

          Past surveys have focused on those who affirm five points, while the most recent survey was more general. In this survey, it appears various questions were asked to discern which way people leaned. On the Calvinist/Arminian spectrum, it seems there were two questions: does your church lean Calvinist, and a later question does your church lean Arminian. People were not asked to choose one of the two, they were asked, separately, if they leaned toward either one. But you are right, that particular question made no reference to the five points, though others did: “Seventy-eight percent of pastors responded they personally are not five-point Calvinists, while 16 percent agreed (8 percent somewhat and 8 percent strongly) with the statement “I am a five-point Calvinist.”” So there appears to still be a question as to how many think of themselves as 4 pointers.

          Regarding the Calvinist/Arminian question, that in itself is not very useful since it asked about churches rather than individuals. So my church would be one of those neither Calvinist nor Arminian – though many of the members lean in an Arminian direction, the pastor (and some members) do not – meaning there are Calvinists who would still answer that question “no, my church is not a Calvinist church”.

          In the end, we just do not know how many people in the SBC consider themselves Calvinists. I suspect the number is larger than the surveys indicate, but it doesn’t really matter one way or the other.

    Johnathan Pritchett

    “All of the articles on Calvinism I have read thus far are filled with straw man arguments and answers from people who are self proclaimed Calvinists but don’t seem to understand the arguments from the Calvinist side.”

    Pure rubbish. What a completely useless way to not have to engage in an argument and weakly attempt to undermine the work of others with baseless assertions.

    Any thoughtful Calvinist would not write this kind of drivel, nor tolerate someone at a Calvinist blog writing:

    “All of the articles on Traditionalism I have read thus far are filled with straw man arguments…”

    Anyway, I grow tired of the “don’t understand Calvinism” gibberish that gets trotted out whenever Calvinism is losing the debate. Let’s leave all that out of the dialog and stick to discussing the issues.

    Have a nice day. :)

      Johnnie Harrison

      Jonathan, how can Calvinism be loosing the debate when traditionalists or the majority SBCer’s refuse to publicly debate Calvinists and Calvinism on a level playing field. You can write articles and have discussions all day long on how a man was saved out of Calvinism or what you think Calvinism teaches, but until your side accurately represents Calvinism or defends itself in a public moderated debate with the likes of James White, Tom Ascol, or Albert Mohler, not much fruit will come from your articles. Those who are true thinkers will be able to decide who wins the debate between the two sides.

        volfan007

        Debates do not necessarily bring the truth out. Sometimes, the victory goes to the one, who is the most skilled in debating techniques….not the one, who is standing on the truth. In my part of the world, a long time ago, the Baptist and the Campbellites(Church of Christ) had series of debates. Usually, the one with the best debating skills won, and the Baptists cheered on their Pastor, while the Campbellites cheered on their Elder, or whatever they call him. And then, everyone went home…still what they were when they came…and mad at those others…

        It didnt do a whole lot of good…except to stir up a lot of hard feelings in a community.

        David

        Johnathan Pritchett

        I’d debate Mohler, Waite, Ascol, Piper, etc. on any issue, any time, anywhere…well, as long as they foot the bill on my expenses since I don’t have the kind of loot to travel like they do. :)

        Volfan007 is correct though, debates don’t determine truth, they determine better showmanship and rhetoric. Against those guys, I’d probably trounce them, but that won’t “prove I’m right”…If they were to trounce me, the same would still be true. It wouldn’t demonstrate anything.

          John O

          All you have to Jonathan is contact James White at http://www.aomin.org, and he will be most happy to oblige. So, the ball is in your court.

Mike Davis

Crossing the Tiber stories are always kind of dramatic (after all, look at Francis Beckwith), but at the end of the day the key issue still is what Scripture teaches.

Everything hinges on “unconditional election.”

I’d say it hinges on irresistible grace.

    Norm Miller

    Pastor Rogers says that he crossed the Tiber because of what Scripture teaches. — Norm

      Lydia

      “Crossing the Tiber”

      He became Catholic? How about “crossing the Limmat”? :o)

      By the way, I am reading his book now.

    Norm Miller

    Mike:
    See above, under the first response, for an answer to this. — Norm

Mike Bergman

Ronnie was my pastor for three years while I was a student at the U. of Oklahoma, and he was also a personal mentor after I decided to go into pastoral ministry. I still have a lot of love and respect for him and still draw upon his wisdom that I personally and practically experienced.

I started out as part of that “large collegiate crowd” drawn (irresistibly? :) ) to his “expositional sermons.” It was the first time in my life I had been exposed to such preaching and has positively influenced my preaching and study…and for that I am grateful.

As such, I absorbed his theological positions at first, but I also absorbed his passion to learn the Bible. With that he calls himself a “biblicist” and I know that is what he strives to be. And I will credit him with consistency–since I first met him back in 2000, he has always claimed such a descriptor with no “preceding adjective.”

But… it has also become one of the things (and I’ve heard it stated from more than just Ronnie) that makes me cringe. Since I have moved away from Norman and Trinity BC, I have shifted to a 5-point calvinistic soteriological position. For clarity in certain cases, I find it useful to add such preceding adjectives, but when it comes down to it, I don’t hold my beliefs concerning salvation because I read some books or heard some men and then decided to go proof-texting in the Bible. I hold to my beliefs because I have a firm commitment to Scripture and believe it is what the Bible teaches. From there I view classical/dortian calvinistic soteriology as the best systematic presentation of the Bible’s teachings on the subject.

The point in this being: I know Ronnie is not being intentionally pejorative by using the term “biblicists” in opposition to “calvinism” and for that “arminianism,” and I don’t believe most others who follow suit mean to be pejorative. However it does carry the implication, “Well this is what the Bible teaches and what you believe isn’t.” And here in lies the rub…there is a spectrum of interpretations in regards to an orthodox soteriology, and if we take our theological commitments seriously then no matter where we fall on that spectrum we all strive to be simply “biblicists.”

    Norm Miller

    Thank you for your thoughtful remarks, Mike. I would like to make a distinction, however. For anyone to claim to be a biblicist does not mean he is necessarily, by definition, biblical. Were I a licensed dentist but wanted to perform root canals sans anesthetic, I may still be dentist, but not a very good one.
    I suspect all of us along this soteriological continuum would like to think of ourselves as biblicists, yea, even biblical. But therein lies the matter: those who claim their positions to be biblical do not agree.
    While I hear what you’re saying with regard to the term biblicist, and I think it has merit, I think your position could be nuanced a bit to reflect also what I am saying.
    Thx again for your input. — Norm

carl peterson

“I now am not a Calvinist-biblicist, Arminian-biblicist or Molinist-biblicist, but simply a biblicist without a preceding adjective.”

Okay but I think that most Calvinists would argue the same sentiment. The only difference is that the Calvinist believes that the Reformed view of what scripture teaches is correct while you obviously believe in a more Baptist (Traditionalist – as used here) view. Maybe this was more of a statement of where you were in regards to Calvinism. Maybe you are saying that you argued for Calvinism over and agaisnt what scripture teaches.

“Retrospectively, my comfort level with Calvinism was due to what I called then “a gentler and kinder Calvinism” e.g., 4-point, still talked of the tragedy of rejecting Christ, etc., which I now refer to non-pejoratively as “double-talk.” Of course, I admit that I was as guilty as any Calvinist for my quotidian reliance upon double-talk. My desire now is to help Calvinists see their use of this subtle rhetorical skill so that they may see the “disquieting realities of Calvinism,” thereby enabling them to accurately determine whether or not they are a Calvinist. Added to the problem of double-talk is that most people who claim to be a Calvinist, or Calvinistic, have so nuanced their Calvinism that it is no longer Calvinism, but rather a very personalized non-Calvinism Calvinism. Everything hinges on “unconditional election.””

Yes there is a gentler Calvinism than other types. Some are hyper-Calvinists. However, most I know are very gentle and view any rejection of Christ and any degradation of his glory as a tragedy. I do not see this as double talk but it is nuanced. Also I think you will find many different personal forms (or at leat ways of srticulating a Reformed position on scripture) precisely because each person is trying to understand scripture. I could equally say that there are many different types af Arminian views or “traditional” Baptist views.

CARL

    Norm Miller

    Thx for your input, Carl. I am curious about your concluding sentence, though. Did you mean to imply that the Traditionalist view is also an Arminian view? If so, would you mind adding reasons why you believe that to be the case? — Norm

      carl peterson

      Norm,

      No. I jsut meant that there are many different types of Calvinists, Arminians, and Traditionalists. Or at least one can find different articulations of these views from different people.

      Regarding your comment though.
      I do think Traditionalists are much closer to Arminianism than Calvinism. Also I am not 100% sure it is not mainly just Arminiaism repackaged. But I did not mean that in that sentence and I am not making that statement as a conculsion. I am just thinking about it. But it is not at the top of my list of things to think about either.

mike

“According the Calvinism God chose and we cannot do anything about His choice. ”

Tim respectfully and lovingly, Calvinism teaches no such thing. This is what people who are not Calvinist believe Calvinist believe, as evidenced by your statement.
Actually Calvinism teaches that because we (mankind) are separated from God as a result of our own free will choice to sin ( a free will that is held in bondage to sin). Because our free will is held prisoner to sin, we (mankind) do not want God. We want our sin. We “want” to be God. Our own Gods. We want be the supreme rulers, owners, kings and Lords of our lives.
But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions —it is by grace that we have been saved.
Brother this is what Calvinism teaches. It teaches that we don’t want God. It teaches that we are slaves to sin and God purchased us at a price. It is why Calvinists see God’s grace as so amazing (hence the song Amazing Grace which was written from the perspective of a Calvinist). Calvinist see grace as being so amazing because they were shown absolute undeserved grace. They see this grace as being so wonderful because they know that they contributed not one iota to their salvation. They hated God. Yet He showed mercy despite their disdained of Him thus giving life; life that caused us (all who follow Him) to see what we were missing and to delight in Him.
Because I am in another country I will likely find it difficult to respond if you choose to respond. So if you do not hear from me, know that a lack of engagement has to do with an “inability” rather than a “choice”.
Thank you for being a man who loves the Lord and one who desires to make Him known. May you continue to enjoy and to delight in Him.
Humbly,
mike

    selahV

    Hi Mike, you write: “Actually Calvinism teaches that because we (mankind) are separated from God as a result of our own free will choice to sin ( a free will that is held in bondage to sin). Because our free will is held prisoner to sin, we (mankind) do not want God. We want our sin. We “want” to be God. Our own Gods. We want be the supreme rulers, owners, kings and Lords of our lives.”

    Seems to me we should refer to “free” will as “bound will” according to this statement. In which case, “free” could no longer be claimed “free”. One cannot be free unless like the slaves during the emancipation, they were free but chose to continue working for masters. As we choose Christ as our Savior and Lord, we yield our will to His and become bond-servants and willingly and obediently enslaved to Him of our own free will. As we decrease, He increases. The more of us we hold onto, the less of Him is made manifest in our lives, the less salt, the less light. May God bless you greatly where you are and may His grace abound. selahV

      Norm Miller

      Hey, selahV: “Like” buttons installed on every post, now. How do you “like” that? — Norm

        selahV

        Norm, I’d really like it, if the “like” button showed up on my monitor. ha ha.

      T.R.

      selahV:
      You are correct in that there is no such thing as free will. The Bible teaches no such thing. It teaches that fallen man’s will is enslaved to sin. Of course, the Reformers all denied freewill as well. If you wish to believe in freewill, then you are on the side of Roman Catholicism in the Reformation debate.

        selahV

        T.R. well, now, I didn’t say that there is no such thing as free will. I was just chattin’ it up with Mike about what he said. I think there is plenty of scriptural examples to support free will. Adam and Eve had a choice. They used their free will to choose the wrong thing. While, Cain chose the wrong thing and Abel the righteous. Joshua chose to serve the Lord. Daniel chose to refuse the King’s food. We have the free will to choose every single day of our lives. Even now, we both have the will to accept or reject what the other says. Of course, I doubt you will choose to agree with me on that. :) selahV

          Layman

          I think the hang up here with divine sovereignty and human freedom lies with one’s definition of freedom. It makes a difference whether you’re talking about libertarian freedom or a freedom of inclination. I’m not going to get into it here, but would refer you to Bruce Ware’s discussion of it in his book, God’s Greater Glory. Regardless of which side of the issue you’re on, I think it would be a helpful and enlightening read.
          Blessings,

          T.R.

          If you ever read Martin Luther’s book, “Bondage of the Will” you would deny that the will is free. But this verse from Calvin will suffice:

          “…we allow that man has choice and that it is self-determined, so that if he does anything evil, it should be imputed to him and to his own voluntary choosing. We do away with coercion and force, because this contradicts the nature of the will and cannot coexist with it. We deny that choice is free, because through man’s innate wickedness it is of necessity driven to what is evil and cannot seek anything but evil.”

            Norm Miller

            With all due respect, TR, Luther isn’t the final authority on this matter. — Norm

        Johnathan Pritchett

        You mean “the divines” of Westminster and the copycat LBC 1689 didn’t write articles on free will? LOL

        If one stuck to the strict wording alone of Article 9 of both, without any “explaining what they ‘really’ meant”, I could affirm them no problem, and I hold to Libertarianism.

          John O

          They affirm free will *prior* to the fall, meaning that man had the ability to incline himself to the spiritual good, as well as evil. It’s after the fall that we lost free will in the sense of being able to choose the spiritual good due to the corruption that sin has caused to our total nature. This is, in fact, the big problem that I see in non-Calvinistic argumentation: it either ignores or minimizes the fall (and also prefall condition). This is why Calvinists say that everything hinges on Total Depravity. It all goes back to the fall.

          Now, as Calvin says, if one wants to speak of free will as meaning that we have the ability to make choices that are in accordance with our nature, then fine, we can affirm “free will” in that sense. And, in point of fact, all Calvinists affirm this. We free choose what we want in accordance with our nature. The problem is that our will is now bound to a fallen nature, and as such it is enslaved to that nature, and we are unable to incline ourselves to the spiritual good. This is why we need regenerating grace. And this was Luther’s point. He is speaking about the will of man post-fall and in relation to choosing the spiritual good. To say that man has the free will ability to do that in his fallen condition contradicts Scripture, and is really non-sensical. Thus, its in regeneration where God liberates us from our slavery, and enables us to choose what we previously were unable to choose because of our bondage to sin: Christ. We were dead in trespasses in sin…we were in bondage to sin, unable to come to Christ…BUT GOD (not “but man in his free will) who is rich in mercy, even when we were in that state, made us alive…by grace you are saved.

          Thus, salvation is 100% owing to grace. The reality is that the non-Calvinist cannot say that.

          holdon

          “Thus, salvation is 100% owing to grace. The reality is that the non-Calvinist cannot say that.”

          This is nonsense. Perhaps you haven’t understood what the non-calvinist position is?

          Lydia

          “This is, in fact, the big problem that I see in non-Calvinistic argumentation: it either ignores or minimizes the fall (and also prefall condition).”

          I just do not get this thinking at all. Any believer who has had a dying baby understands the effects of the fall. Any believer dying of cancer understands the effects of the fall. Any believer who has a drug addict for a child understands the effects of the fall. Believing farmers understand the effects of the fall when insect plagues come or rain does not fall. And they don’t have to be Calvinists to get it.

          We live with the effects of the fall every minute of our lives. We fight the flesh and try to take every thought captive.

          Oh yes, we DO get it. We DO know.

          T.R.

          Excellent comment, John O

    T.R.

    Very well written, Mike. It is obvious you understand Calvinism. It is refreshing because so few who make comments comment about Calvinism correctly. It reminds me of Hollywood trying to do a movie on faith. They always mess it up. So the traditionalists always mess up what Calvinists actually believe.

T.R.

It is funny that Ronnie’s testimony is exactly the opposite of Spurgeon, who wrote:

“Well can I remember the manner in which I learned the doctrines of grace in a single instant. Born, as all of us are by nature, an Arminian, I still believed the old things I had heard continually from the pulpit, and did not see the grace of God. When I was coming to Christ, I thought I was doing it all myself…Then, in a moment, I saw that God was at the bottom of it all, and that He was the Author of my faith, and so the whole doctrine of grace opened up to me, and from that doctrine I have not departed to this day, and I desire to make this my constant confession, “I ascribe my change wholly to God.”….

    David R. Brumbelow

    I also like the quote from Charles H. Spurgeon when he prayed,
    “Lord, hasten to bring in all Thine elect–and then elect some more.”
    David R. Brumbelow

Bart Barber

I’m thankful for a blog post that gives me the opportunity to say how much I love Ronnie Rogers and how thankful I am for his ministry. I’ve sent a bunch of students down through the years off to the University of Oklahoma. Several have joined Trinity and have been greatly enriched by their time there.

It is perhaps a controversial statement, but I’d choose every day of the week and twice on Sunday to send students to a secular university with a church home like Trinity than to send them to any “Baptist” university where they would end up in some dead liberal church (or not in church at all). The outcomes I’ve witnessed as a pastor of these two situations speak for themselves.

Thanks, Bro. Ronnie, for your love for the Lord and your ministry for Him!

    D.R. Randle

    Bart,

    I agree, though I am thankful now for much better Baptist schools now like Union University in Jackson, TN and OBU down in OK. They are ranking higher these days nationally than those liberal Baptist schools of the old days. And from what I understand the Churches springing up around these schools are solidly teaching the Word of God as they help build the future leaders of the SBC.

      Norm Miller

      Hey, DR:
      It was good to meet with you a few weeks ago in Athens. I enjoyed the conversation with you and Adam Harwood, although, I must admit I mostly listened.
      Thx for popping in on the blog. May the Lord continue to bless his ministry through you at Cleveland Road Baptist Church. — Norm

        D.R. Randle

        Thanks Norm. I enjoyed meeting and talking with you as well. I am glad to see that you will be adding your input to this blog now. I think your irenic spirit will be helpful here as discussions will certainly continue to be lively.

      Bart Barber

      Yes, D.R., you’re right. I’m suggesting that the nature of the school is not NEARLY so relevant as is the nature of the student’s church experience while at school. Even if one attends a “good” Baptist school, apart from a good church experience, I don’t like the odds.

        D.R. Randle

        Certainly so Bart, I am just more optimistic now that Southern Baptists are so clearly headed the right direction in terms of higher education (the recent events at Shorter College in GA being an example of that). And as my experience taught me while living in Louisville, KY – when schools of higher learning put out graduates who are solid in their theology, Churches in the area become healthier and are much more likely to be of benefit, rather than hindrance to future students’ spiritual lives.

    Mike Bergman

    Bart, you said:

    It is perhaps a controversial statement, but I’d choose every day of the week and twice on Sunday to send students to a secular university with a church home like Trinity than to send them to any “Baptist” university where they would end up in some dead liberal church (or not in church at all).

    Though like I said above, my theological persuasions have shifted in the opposite direction of Ronnie’s…I would very much echo a hearty “Amen, brother” to what you said. I wouldn’t think twice about sending a student down there to OU and pushing them to be involved at Trinity and the Baptist Student Union.

    Even though I was 20 when I landed there and had been in a conservative church all my life, I had never been taught about mentoring/discipleship, I had never experienced preaching that really dissected the text like that, I had never been so challenged to learn the Bible and theology, and I had never been pushed to be held accountable to other Christians. And I had zero desire to be a pastor before I started there.

    I went there thinking I’d check out several churches. Trinity was the first one I visited and so-long as I was in Norman, went nowhere else until after I graduated.

    I know there are good Christian schools out there, etc., but I am convinced I would not be where I am today as a follower of Jesus and as a pastor if not for the influence of Christ at a secular/state university in the heart of Oklahoma.

    A little closer to the topic/recent happenings… I’m not the only one who has come away from Ronnie’s tutelage to come to identify as a “former non-Calvinist” but all the ones I still keep in touch with at least have the same respect and gratitude for his ministry during our time there. It’s part of what gives me hope we (on different points of the spectrum) can actually co-exist under the broader SBC banner with love, grace, and respect… :)

    Doc B

    “but I’d choose every day of the week and twice on Sunday to send students to a secular university with a church home like Trinity than to send them to any “Baptist” university where they would end up in some dead liberal church (or not in church at all). “

    There’s more wisdom in that sentence than many folks will ever even begin to comprehend.

selahV

Spurgeon writes: “I ascribe my change wholly to God.” So do I, without His grace, His creation of me, His love for me, His atonement for my sin, His forgiveness of my sin, His drawing, His conviction, His regeneration I would most likely be dead. However, as willing as I was when I came to Jesus, it was my repentance which made manifest that I was indeed saved. And without repentance, there is no salvation is there? For if we are made new creatures, we will surely turn away from the beasts we once were, won’t we? If the love of Christ is in us, we will obey His commands, love our enemies, bless those who persecute us, strive to live holy as He is holy. While I realize this behavior is a part of the sanctification process, the repentance is a part of the salvation process. Or do you think Spurgeon was saying he was saved before he repented? selahV

    Norm Miller

    I hope you plan on going fishing, selahV, b/c you just opened a can of worms w/your last question. Thx for your input. — Norm

    T.R.

    Spurgeon believed that “Calvinism is the Gospel and nothing else.” His words.

      Norm Miller

      And we all know that Chas. was infallible. — Norm

      selahV

      So, T.R., do you think Spurgeon thought he was saved before he repented? Is that calvinism? selahV

        Johnnie Harrison

        Regeneration is when God takes out a sinners heart of stone and replaces it with a heart of flesh. To that person He has granted the gifts of repentance and faith and they repent and believe as a result of the gifts given. Regeneration precedes faith and once repentance and faith take place the sinner is saved.

          holdon

          I read that God has given repentance to life to all:

          “And when they heard these things they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then indeed God has to the nations also granted repentance to life.” Acts 11:18

          But that is not what you meant or is it?

          T.R.

          holdon: where do you get “all” in that sentence? The Jew Peter is realizing that salvation is not just for the Jews but for Gentile nations as well.

          holdon

          “not just for the Jews but for Gentile nations as well.”

          So, that is “all”. Or who do we miss here?

          T.R.

          How does salvation being available to Gentile nations as well equate to each and every human being? It is just like when the Apostle John penned: “Jesus would die for the nation, and not for that nation only, but also that He would gather together in one the children of God who were scattered abroad.”

          Don Johnson

          holden,

          You must have given Acts 11:18 incorrectly. You wrote “repentance unto life.” If that were true, it would mean faith precedes regeneration.

          I’m sure that must be mistranslated. Ask Norm to pull your post before some Calvinists start to question their tradition.

      peter lumpkins

      T.R.

      Perhaps you need a good lesson from a fellow High Calvinist, Dr. Greg Welty, who said at the Building Bridges Conference* in his paper on Election and Calling: a Biblical and Theological Study concerning Spurgeon’s quotation you reference:

      “To my fellow Calvinists I will be a bit more blunt. There is a distinction between esse and bene esse, that is, between a doctrine’s being part of the essence of the gospel (its esse) and a doctrine’s being part of the well-being of the gospel (its bene esse). In light of this, I find the popular Spurgeon quote unhelpful, to the extent that I never use that quote myself. It’s just not worth it, for it usually generates more heat than light. Surely we don’t want to get someone to think that he has to believe in all the traditional points of Calvinism if he is going to believe the gospel, and yet that is exactly what that quote can convey if it is tossed around loosely. Most of the evangelical non-Calvinists I know may not believe in the five points of Calvinists, but they do believe in the five solas of the Reformation; and even if you think that is inconsistent, God never sent a man to hell for being inconsistent but only for his sins.” (embolden emphasis original)

      You’d do well to drop the Spurgeonese on that point for you can’t even get your best articulators of High Calvinism to embrace the flippant usage of Spurgeon’s quote. All you will do is drive the wedge deeper still, brother.

      With that, I am…
      Peter

      *Dr. Welty’s quotation is also found in the book based on the conference, Calvinism: a Southern Baptist Dialog B&H, 2008. p. 243

        T.R.

        Peter. But the quote comes from such a beautiful message by Spurgeon, one of his best. It would be a true shame not to share that message. Perhaps the problem is just giving that short quote. I would agree with you there. Perhaps the best way is to give the whole message so everyone can read what Spurgeon was trying to communicate. Traditionalists would also appreciate much of this message I think, especially the last part:

        Charles Haddon Spurgeon:
        “I cannot understand the reason why I am saved, except upon the ground that God would have it so. I cannot, if I look ever so earnestly, discover any kind of reason in myself why I should be a partaker of Divine grace. If I am not at this moment without Christ, it is only because Christ Jesus would have His will with me, and that will was that I should be with Him where He is, and should share His glory. I can put the crown nowhere but upon the head of Him whose mighty grace has saved me from going down into the pit….

        Well can I remember the manner in which I learned the doctrines of grace in a single instant. Born, as all of us are by nature, an Arminian, I still believed the old things I had heard continually from the pulpit, and did not see the grace of God. When I was coming to Christ, I thought I was doing it all myself…Then, in a moment, I saw that God was at the bottom of it all, and that He was the Author of my faith, and so the whole doctrine of grace opened up to me, and from that doctrine I have not departed to this day, and I desire to make this my constant confession, “I ascribe my change wholly to God.”….

        The late lamented Mr. Denham has put, at the foot of his portrait, a most admirable text, “Salvation is of the Lord.” That is just an epitome of Calvinism; it is the sum and substance of it. If anyone should ask me what I mean by a Calvinist, I should reply, “He is one who says, Salvation is of the Lord.” I cannot find in Scripture any other doctrine than this. It is the essence of the Bible. “He only is my rock and my salvation.” Tell me anything contrary to this truth, and it will be a heresy; tell me a heresy, and I shall find its essence here, that it has departed from this great, this fundamental, this rock-truth, “God is my rock and my salvation.” What is the heresy of Rome, but the addition of something to the perfect merits of Jesus Christ-the bringing in of the works of the flesh, to assist in our justification? And what is the heresy of Arminianism but the addition of something to the work of the Redeemer? Every heresy, if brought to the touchstone, will discover itself here. I have my own private opinion that there is no such thing as preaching Christ and Him crucified, unless we preach what nowadays is called Calvinism. It is a nickname to call it Calvinism; Calvinism is the gospel, and nothing else. I do not believe we can preach the gospel, if we do not preach justification by faith, without works; nor unless we preach the sovereignty of God in His dispensation of grace; nor unless we exalt the electing, unchangeable, eternal, immutable, conquering love of Jehovah; nor do I think we can preach the gospel, unless we base it upon the special and particular redemption of His elect and chosen people which Christ wrought out upon the cross; nor can I comprehend a gospel which lets saints fall away after they are called, and suffers the children of God to be burned in the fires of damnation after having once believed in Jesus. Such a gospel I abhor. “If ever it should come to pass, that sheep of Christ might fall away, My fickle, feeble soul, alas! Would fall a thousand times a day.”

        If one dear saint of God had perished, so might all; if one of the covenant ones be lost, so may all be; and then there is no gospel promise true, but the Bible is a lie, and there is nothing in it worth my acceptance. I will be an infidel at once when I can believe that a saint of God can ever fall finally. If God hath loved me once, then He will love me for ever….”My name from the palms of His hands Eternity will not erase; Impressed on His heart it remains, In marks of indelible grace.”

          John O

          And…in disagreement with Welty, non-Reformation folks would not and cannot affirm all of the sola’s. Remember, the Reformer’s were all monergists, and they were reacting to the synergistic theology of Rome. All of our non-Calvinists brethren just happen to be synergists, and would have felt much more comfortable with the Rome’s views on these particular issues than the Reformers. Hence, the Sola’s of Sola Gratia, Sola Fide, and Solus Christus cannot be affirmed by any synergistic system. That leaves Sola Scripture and Soli Deo Gloria, and, quite frankly, if you don’t subscribe to the other sola’s, it’s tough to see how one can claim these as well.

          To put the issue in deeper focus, J.I. Packer, in his introduction to Luther’s Bondage of the Will, really gets to the heart of this matter of how modern Protestantism is really at odds with the historical Protestantism as outlined in the Sola’s of the Reformation, and really crystallizes the issue:

          “Much modern Protestantism would be neither owned nor even recognized by the pioneer Reformers. The Bondage of the Will fairly sets before us what they believed about the salvation of lost mankind. In light of it, we are forced to ask whether Protestant Christendom has not tragically sold its birthright between Luther’s day and our own…Whoever puts this book (The Bondage of The Will) down without having realized that evangelical theology stands or falls with the doctrine of the bondage of the will has read it in vain.

          The doctrine of free justification by faith only, which became the storm-centre of so much controversy during the Reformation period, is often regarded as the heart of the Reformers’ theology, but this is hardly accurate. The truth is that their thinking was really centered upon the contention … that the sinner’s entire salvation is by free and sovereign grace only… Is our salvation wholly of God, or does it ultimately depend on something that we do for ourselves? Those who say the latter (as the Arminians later did) thereby deny man’s utter helplessness in sin, and affirm that a form of semi-Pelagianism is true after all. It is no wonder, then, that later Reformed theology condemned Arminianism as being in principle a return to Rome … and a betrayal of the Reformation. … Arminianism was, indeed, in Reformed eyes a renunciation of New Testament Christianity in favour of New Testament Judaism; for to rely on oneself for faith is no different in principle from relying on oneself for works, and the one is as un-Christian and anti-Christian as the other.”

            T.R.

            Thanks for the quote. Luther’s “Bondage of the Will” is the most eye-opening, life-changing book I ever read outside of the Bible. In reality, because neo-traditionalists stand in direct opposition to what Luther taught in “The Bondage of the Will” (the book he believed was his greatest contribution to Christianity) neo-traditionalists are not heirs of the Reformation. Far from it. They oppose the doctrine of the Reformation.

          peter lumpkins

          Yes, T.R. we are aware of the beauty of some of Spurgeon’s passages. Let’s consider this one from The Great Mystery of Godliness he preached at the Tabernacle in 1867, a sermon based on 1 Timothy 3:16:

          “I want you to notice still further, that in this summary there is no exhibition of mere doctrine. I believe, most firmly, in the doctrines commonly called Calvinistic, and I hold them to be very fraught with comfort to God’s people; but if any man shall say that the preaching of these is the whole of the preaching of the gospel, I am at issue with him. Brethren, you may preach those doctrines as long as you like, and yet fail to preach the gospel; and I will go further, and affirm that some who have even denied those truths, to our great grief, have nevertheless been gospel preachers for all that, and God has saved souls by their ministry.

          The fact is, that while the doctrines of election, final perseverance, and so on, go to make up a complete ministry, and are invaluable in their place, yet the soul and marrow of the gospel is not there, but is to be found in the great fact that “God was manifest in the flush, justified in the Spirit,” and so on. Preach Christ, young man, if you want to win souls. Preach all the doctrines, too, for the building up of believers, but still the main business is to preach Jesus who came into the world to seek and to save that which was lost. The apostle tells us in the Corinthians that first of all he delivered unto us as soul saving truth, “how that Christ died for our sins, according to the Scriptures, and that he was buried, and that he rose again on the third day, according to the Scriptures.” Facts about Christ Jesus, and the promise of life through him, these are the faith of the gospel.

          SO, now which beautiful passage shall we consider, T.R.? Which one more sums up Spurgeon on whether Calvinism is the gospel?

          With that, I am…
          Peter

          holdon

          “That leaves Sola Scripture ”

          Yes, and all other sola’s will fall nicely into place. (and I am sure “sola calvinism” and “sola 5 points” are not one of them).

          You can keep Packer and Spurgeon, however beloved they may be.

          Give me Scripture any day. That’s what this Traditionalist wants.

          “Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught”

          peter lumpkins

          Begging pardon, John O. But please don’t tell me (or any number of other non-Calvinist believers) that I cannot affirm what I do, in fact, affirm–

          I believe I am saved by grace alone through faith alone because of Jesus Christ alone for God’s glory alone as revealed in the Word of God alone.

          And, I can affirm such without affirming either extra-biblical categories like “monergism” overlayed onto the pages of God’s Word or buying into a man-made, Calvinistic system to direct my interpretation of God’s Word.

          The audacity of some to boldly inform others what they can and cannot confess remains stunning. And it’s the priggish ideology expressed in telling others they don’t live up to Reformation faith as defined by the self-anointed, self-assigned theological gatekeepers that drains hope any helpful dialog right down the sink.

          With that, I am…
          Peter

            T.R.

            Interesting, Peter Lumpkins, that you openly reject monergism. I thought only heretics and Roman Catholics did that.

          T.R.

          It is great to have you here, John O. I appreciate your comments.

            peter lumpkins

            T.R.

            And we were getting along so good, T.R. Anyways, I noted you didn’t much have anything to say about my Spurgeonism above in competition with your Spurgeonism.

            with that, I am…
            Peter

    Johnnie Harrison

    The bible teaches that repentance and faith are also gifts of God just like grace and regeneration. No, God does not believe for us but we only believe because God has given us the gift of faith. That is why Spurgeon could say it was all from God.

rhutchin

Rogers says, “I became a 4-point Calvinist and remained unabashedly so for the next 20 years.”

“4-point” is a red flag. He should have said that he rejected Calvinism because of limited atonement or whatever. Why would he want to identify himself with something that he did not believe? He should sell some books as people now will want to know what he really was all those years.

    John Wylie

    Rhutchin,
    He told us what he was, a four point Calvinist. This position is nothing new. As a matter of fact several Calvinists posting here and at SBC voices have admitted to holding the same position.

wingedfooted1

“I continued to study Calvinism in order to better understand the Scripture….”

And there you have it.

    rhutchin

    Excellent observation. He should have said, “I continued to study the Scriptures in order to better understand Calvinism….”

    This guy is all messed up.

    Norm Miller

    Have what, Mercury (wingfooted1)?
    Pastor Rogers’ study of Calvinism to better understand Scripture apparently led him to see, scripturally, that he could no longer embrace Calvinism. — Norm

      rhutchin

      Having not read his book, I don’t know that such is the case, and he does not say that this is the case. What he seems to mean is that he studied the Calvinists to understand better the Scriptures but no Calvinist (as he claims to have been despite the denial in his rejection of some parts of Calvinism) would study the Calvinists alone but also the non-Calvinists as it is not sufficient to explain that which one believes but also that which one does not believe.

wingedfooted1

“Retrospectively, I was very prideful about Calvinism. Everything else was wrong and unintellectual.”

And yet a calvinist is a calvinist precisely because he has been given more grace. The more grace God gives you, the more calvinistic you become.

So if Mr. Rogers was a 4 point calvinist for 20 years, this tells us two things. First, God granted him 80% of the grace that resulted in him becoming a 4 point calvinist, but withheld from him the other 20% needed to become a full blown 5 pointer.

Second, it seems after 20 years, God decided (for reasons only known to Him) to remove the 80% of grace previously given (instead of granting him the additional 20% grace he so desperately needed) resulting in Mr. Rogers embracing something “wrong and unintellectual”.

    Cb scott

    It is quite possible that wingfooted1’s summation of Roger’s Calvinism may be the most purely crazy comment in the history of Baptist blogs.

    The Council of Baptist Blog Comment Review may have to convene to confirm this, but I seriously doubt they will be in executive session for very long.

      selahV

      Okay, C.B. when are we going to organize this Blog Council or Review Board? We’ll have to be fair and balanced, a Calvinist, a 1 ptr., 2 ptr., 3 ptr., 4 ptr., 5 ptr., Old, New, Neo, Hyper, hyper, and Arminian, arminianish, and biblicist, and biblicistic, and traditionalist, and non-calvinist, and anti calvinist, and anti-traditionalist, and semi-Pelagian, and Pelagian, and Mormon, and Methodist, and Presbyterian, and AWOL Baptists. Doncha think?

      volfan007

      CB,

      I agree with you. I’ve seen some crazy, silly comments in my life; but this one may take the cake. Rhutcins get close to it, but he skirted by it….but, wingedfoot ran right over it and into the ditch.

      David

    Norm Miller

    Wow, Mercury; I’m having a hard time following that reasoning. So, if God removed 80 percent of His grace from Pastor Rogers, then what if all 100 percent had been removed? Would Pastor Rogers have ‘fallen’ from grace, or would it have been removed providentially? — Norm
    P.S. Amazing Grace truly is amazing. Once I have it all, I’m a Calvinist!

      holdon

      “Amazing Grace truly is amazing.”

      How precious did that Grace appear
      The hour I first believed.

      So, per the (calvinist?) hymn, grace appeared only after believing?

        Norm Miller

        holdon a minute: I’m not sure how you extrapolate your question from my P.S. about Amazing Grace. My comment was in response to what Mercury apparently believes — that only those who have 100 percent of God’s amazing grace are Calvinists. W/all due respect to Drs. Akin, Merritt, et al, I guess they will be dismayed to hear they have only 90 percent of God’s amazing grace since they are less than 5-pointers. — Norm

          holdon

          Hi Norm,

          No extrapolation to what you said, just that I was prompted by you citing “Amazing Grace” and thinking about the second stanza of the hymn as I heard here recently that this was a “calvinist” hymn.

          However, I much prefer the basis of Scripture that says: “For the grace of God which carries with it salvation for all men has appeared”. Notice the “all men”.

          As to your comment though: only a fraction of God’s grace would suffice us all. We’re poured over so copiously with that, that there must be plenty left. Titus 3:6.
          So, Mr. Akin, Meritt and all those less than 100% pointers should not worry.

        M.R. Williams

        Holdon:

        I think Newton wrote it correctly when he said, “‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear, and grace my fears relieved. How precious did that grace appear the hour I first believed!”

        Whenever I sing it at church, I am thankful for grace from beginning to end! I think that’s what Newton was saying he was thankful for. Were it not for grace, we would not even have feared! And based on what I’ve read, both TS and Calvinists seem to agree at this point, right?

        Respectfully,
        Mike

          holdon

          “Were it not for grace, we would not even have feared! And based on what I’ve read, both TS and Calvinists seem to agree at this point, right?”

          I agree more than 110%

        T.R.

        Speaking of “Amazing Grace”. You traditionalists should really stop singing that hymn. First, because it was written by a Calvinist and Second because your salvation doesn’t sound very amazing. God resurrected us Calvinists from the dead in order to bring us to faith. In your case, he just honored your wishes.

        T.R. What is amazing is that you continue to use ‘sabre-rattling’ verbiage while adding far more heat than light to this discussion. — Norm

          holdon

          “God resurrected us Calvinists from the dead in order to bring us to faith.”

          What? Is that the first or the second resurrection?

          selahV

          T.R., are you saying we traditionalists do not believe it is grace which saves us? If so, I think you may have missed something when you read the Trad statement. However, I think that is probably just a tongue-in-cheek statement you made here. That trads believe God just honored our wishes. That’s plain goofy, actually.

          Grace is undeserving. We do not merit God’s grace no matter how much we wish to have it. It is by grace we Trads and you Calvinists and the Arminians are saved–by faith in what Christ did on the cross for us. Saving grace. The “Amazing” part is that He would when we are constantly rejecting Him and putting our desires before His. He loved me before I first loved him. He didn’t hate me before I first loved Him, you know. That’s pretty amazing to me.

          And greater is my faith than the disciples because we believe without seeing as they did. Jesus said so. That’s also pretty amazing to me. And to think when I’ve been with Him ten-thousand years, it will be as though I’ve just begun to sing praises to His name? Well, that’s amazing too. It’s absolutely awesome. selahV

      rhutchin

      Even the Arminians say that God must extend grace (prevenient) to a person to lead them to salvation. As some are said to come to salvation and some not, we understand that God extends differing levels of grace to some and not others (for if God extended the same grace to each, then all would be saved or all lost assuming that some level of grace is both necessary and sufficient to produce salvation). So, it is by grace that a person is enabled to understand the Scriptures, and if a person rejects that which grace has enabled him to understand, do we say that he has fallen from that grace or that God has removed that grace. Perhaps both following Romans 1.

        selahV

        Hutch, it’s “by grace” that every need is met that we have, including faith. However, unless we exercise our faith, our faith is like a muscle that is never used. It atrophies; it is useless. Some folks reject Christ because of religion. Some place their faith in their many works, or moral goodness, or philanthropy, or false religions. And only Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. That’s what I believe, anyway.

        Our works are simply a manifestation of the faith we have in our Savior and Lord. That is how I see scripture explain faith. And by grace, we are justified and sanctified, and grow in greater faith. Is that not how you see God’s grace and faith? selahV

    selahV

    Mercury…

    You write:

    “And yet a calvinist is a calvinist precisely because he has been given more grace. The more grace God gives you, the more calvinistic you become.”

    Surely you jest. You have to be joking. You cannot mean this. ????

      wingedfooted1

      Blessings, Selah.

      I have both heard and read by calvinists that any spiritual insight is due solely to grace. Since calvinists, at least in their own minds, believe they have more understanding it is solely due to the fact they have been given more grace.

      Hence, the more grace one is given, the more calvinistic one becomes. Calvinistically speaking.

      wingedfooted1 (no relation to Mercury)

        Chris Roberts

        Oh, so you are not a Calvinist? In what way was your above comment intended to be helpful?

        selahV

        Hi wingfooted1, gotcha. okay. this makes more sense, now. I believe I see from whence you come. I’m gonna need a whole bunch more grace then. I may not ever get enough by the looks of things. selahV

          wingedfooted1

          Selah,

          Here is some unfortunate evidence to support the above assertion.

          Spurgeon wrote….

          “It is grace that turns us into Calvinists.”

          Another calvinist has said the following…

          “…those who embrace Reformed theology do so by His grace and those who do not embrace it have not yet been ‘turned by grace’.”

          So the reason someone is not a calvinist is because they have been denied the necessary grace by God to be so. The point is….if God wants you to be a calvinist then you will be.

            Norm Miller

            Mercury: You simply must tell me where you buy your bubblegum. The inside of the wrappers apparently make for very interesting reading. — Norm

          wingedfooted1

          Selah,

          If you truly desire to be calvinist, don’t fret. Spurgeon writes…

          “Now, I do not ask you whether you believe all this (calvinism)—it is possible you may not; but I believe you will before you enter heaven. I am persuaded, that as God may have washed your hearts, he will wash your brains before you enter heaven.”

          So according to Spurgeon, the kingdom of heaven will be nothing less than a calvinist convention.

          Mercury: So glad “heaven will be nothing less than a calvinist convention.” And I am as sure as you are that it will be far more. — Norm

          selahV

          wingfooted1, ha…no, I’m not desiring to become a calvinist. Not by any stretch of the imagination. His grace is sufficient to meet my needs. I don’t need Calvin, nor calvinism. :)

          I am certain those calvinists who come to Jesus by faith in HIM, confess their sin with their lips, believe God and repent. will definitely be among the throng of those celebrating with us all in heaven. Do you agree? selahV

          Johnathan Pritchett

          All that doesn’t sound a single thing like receiving “more grace”, but it does sound quite a bit like belief in gnosticism.

          I think there is a great deal of misunderstanding of what grace (charis) is in the Ancient Near Eastern use of the word.

          Grace defined is “unmerited favor/benefaction” as everyone knows, but grace as a concept and function in patron/client reciprocity system is hardly a metaphysical pixie dust sprinkled to performs magic tricks, replaces the person and work of the Holy Spirit in convicting the world of sin and regenerating the believer, or whatever other silly way of talking about it modern theology has devised.

          By definition and use (proper), grace is concrete, conditional, receivable or reject-able, and reciprocal in function. Talking about it in other ways is completely foreign to how the Holy Spirit inspired the Biblical authors to use it, and completely foreign to how the original audiences understood it.

          This applies to areas of “common grace” (i.e. the sun shines, it rains, people exist, etc. and people rejoice or complain) and it applies to redemptive grace (i.e. The Gospel is presented, the Holy Spirit convicts, and people receive it or reject it).

          So, when someone says to me, “grace from God is necessary for X”, I quite heartily agree, but that someone better point to some specific, concrete content of what that “grace” is, or the conversation goes nowhere and I immediately recognize that such a person hasn’t the slightest clue what they are talking about. Just saying the word grace doesn’t cut it for any theological system, because it must be asked, “what is the content of this grace of which you speak?”

          The overloading of regular, common use 1st Century words like grace, justification, etc. with overly-embellished theological definitions in lexicons devised centuries later from their first century usage, social setting, and context is usually the source of most bad or confused theology out there pertaining to those issues.

          It is actually that simple.

          wingedfooted1

          Blessings, Norm.

          You asked “where (do) you buy your bubblegum? The inside of the wrappers apparently make for very interesting reading.”

          First, for clarification, I am not a calvinist. I have studied it in detail for almost 10 years now and reject it in full (all 5 points). This “bubblegum”, which, to me, is putting it mildly (to me, calvinism is something you smoke rather than chew), is what I have been exposed to repeatedly since studying calvinism. The quote from Spurgeon is one such example (and you are right. Spurgeon was very fallible. Even his own personal testimony denies the theology he embraced). I have even heard James White say that any scriptural understanding is a result of grace. And, obviously, James White believes he has been given more grace since his understanding is greater than most. The other quote was provided from another calvinist who visits this very blog.

          How do you even begin to approach people who really believe their system is a result of divine grace when, in fact, they have simply been duped?

    Chris Roberts

    ? I have no idea what you just said…

      Lydia

      “The overloading of regular, common use 1st Century words like grace, justification, etc. with overly-embellished theological definitions in lexicons devised centuries later from their first century usage, social setting, and context is usually the source of most bad or confused theology out there pertaining to those issues.”

      Big fat hearty “Amen” to this, Johnathan.

Darryl W

I am very much interested in Rogers move from Calvinism to Traditionalism because we undoubtedly passed each other on our separate journeys. I’m not truly convinced that any of us knows exactly why we are on one side of the aisle or the other. (Hang on, that’s not an insult to either side.)
What separates us is not any of the essentials of Christianity. Not our view of Christ, the Scriptures, or the Church. If a man is described as a born again Child of God, passionate about Christ, has a high view of the Canon, practices solid hermeneutics (as defined at our SBC seminaries), has a passion for evangelism; and is filled with the love of God -which side of the aisle is he on? Both sides of the aisle would like to claim him and both can because those traits cross the line. Those essentials are not an unstable foundation on which to build common ground.
As I’ve engaged debate among some of the Traditionalists here I have observed a passion to protect the free will of man in salvation that I will admit is much more pronounced relative to my own. I think both sides will agree that this degree of passion or lack thereof is a hermeneutical grid in which one builds their soteriology. Please hear me Brothers; I do not have that passion! I never have and I think that is why I could not find peace as a Traditionalist no matter the amount of effort or desire. Why does one believer seem to have a higher view of man’s sovereignty than the next? I’m not sure. Is one more right than the other? Perhaps, but when I look across the aisle and see a Brother who shares so many essential traits of the Faith it is difficult to find fault. Current, Firm Calvinist -but certainly more empathetic.

-The Other Darryl

    Lydia

    ‘As I’ve engaged debate among some of the Traditionalists here I have observed a passion to protect the free will of man in salvation that I will admit is much more pronounced relative to my own. I think both sides will agree that this degree of passion or lack thereof is a hermeneutical grid in which one builds their soteriology. Please hear me Brothers; I do not have that passion! I never have and I think that is why I could not find peace as a Traditionalist no matter the amount of effort or desire. Why does one believer seem to have a higher view of man’s sovereignty than the next?”

    Hey Darryl,

    Hope you don’t mind a “sister” responding but my position has nothing to do with a “passion for protecting free will”. In my case, it has more to do with having a higher view of God being Sovereign over His own Sovereignty and the attributes of our Holy, Merciful, Wrathful and Perfectly Just, God.

    I think there is an underlying position in Calvinism that anything but the Calvinism grid elevates the human over God. I do not think that is possible because God is Sovereign over His own Sovereignty. Humans can try and God allows us to try, but humans will always fail.

      Mary

      My first thought is never about man’s free will but on who God is – a merciful, just, loving God. Calvinists tell us sinners are in hell because of their own sin. So what’s the difference between sinners in heaven and sinners in hell – God’s choice according to Calvinists. No mercy offered to the sinners in hell – not very just. All have sinned, the difference between sinners in hell and sinners in heaven is either God didn’t choose them or God in his sovereignty gave man a choice and man didn’t choose God.

      Darryl W

      Lydia,

      Touche’ on the gender issue. Sorry for the generality.

      Do note that I used the qualifier relative to my own.

        Lydia

        Darryl, Thanks! When I read “brothers” on baptist blogs or in most scripture passages, I include myself. :o) I just did not want to offend you. Some of us know from experience there are guys out in SBC land
        who are not very sanguine when it comes to engaging sisters in such discussions. :o) Thank you for not being condescending and for being respectful. That means a lot to some of us.

        “Do note that I used the qualifier “relative to my own”.

        Yes, thanks. From my perspective a lot of this also hinges on our view of God which is why I cringe when I see the “free will” position used in any way as a qualifier toward a Sovereign God position.

          Darryl W

          Lydia,

          Certainly no offense taken here. Thank you for your concern.

          I tried to take care when selecting my words. When I look across the aisle I see believers who hold to God’s Sovereignty; however, many will fiercely defend humanity’s efficacious part in salvation. I do not agree with the position and I cannot see the necessity in Scripture. I perceive that to be the watershed point on the two views.

          volfan007

          I also am not passionatly defending free will, just because I dont like determinism. I really, sincerely, wholeheartedly believe that the Bible teaches that man has a free will……and, that God is sovereign.

          David

    Brad Reynolds

    Darryl,
    Great word. As a Traditionalists I appreciate your spirit but I would disagree w how you innocently characterized us – I don’t know of any Traditionalists who wants to protect the free will of man. Rather we all desire to protect the Scriptures that teach that God in His goodness and Sovereignty chose to give man free will.

      Darryl W

      Brad,

      That’s demanding a lot of percision of everything I type. Surely, you get my meaning. If adherence to the Scripture was the only requirement for interpretation then there would not be an issue. The statement is not meant to be offensive but descriptive of the hermeneuetical bias that Traditionalist employ. (Note: Calvinist also employ bias. I will certainly admit. It is part of being human.)

      -Darryl

        Brad Reynolds

        Darryl,
        One of things that is a little offensive to us traditionalists is the idea we are man-centered (something said often, although you have never traversed such language). I guess the equivalent would be for us to say Calvinist believe in a malicious capricious God (which I would never say).

        Notice, concerning your comment, I prefaced it with an appreciation for your spirit and even said I felt you made it innocently.

        I would not expect you to not correct an innocent mischaracterization I made of Calvinism (say if I were to say their hermeneutical bias causes them to defend God’s creation of some infants for hell) anymore than you should not expect me to correct such (we defend man’s freewill).

        My comment was intended to continue a better understanding of Traditionalists because I inferred that was what you desired. However, if my comment was the least bit offensive I certainly apologize…it was not intended as such.

        It was the very recognition we all have bias which prompted that comment and if I mischaracterize Calvinists in the future I hope you will help me understand their position better as well.

          Darryl W

          To be honest Brad I could not fathom where you were coming from. Your statement came across as arrogant and accusatory to me. Sorry for my misinterpretation. I think on occasions I have been very defensive and aggressive. At times I required you to defend portions of your beliefs by pushing your position to absurdum. For that I do apologize. The only reason I came to this site is to understand what Traditionalists think and that includes you in particular. Your devotion to the original language and your pursuit of Truth is obvious and admirable. I hope that my responses can bring insight, understanding, and trust.

          Thanks and Good Evening,
          Darryl

          Brad Reynolds

          Darryl W,
          I can count on one hand the people in my life with whom I have disagreed that have blessed me more than your spirit. Thank you!!! You exemplify how we should discuss.

D.R. Randle

Honestly, this is not all that concerning to me as a Calvinist. Despite the way he describes his movement away from Calvinism in this article, it does appear that he still leans much more toward Reformed theology than toward anything like the non-Calvinists (Traditionalist, if you would rather use that terminology). Not only did Rogers not sign the “Traditional Statement”, but a simply survey of the recommended resources on the Church website show that around 80% of the books he recommends are penned by Calvinists – including those in the categories related to theology.

It seems that while Rogers personally doesn’t hold to Calvinism any more, he certainly would recommend their books and theological works much more readily than non-Calvinists. And it’s encouraging to see that under their stated beliefs you will find the phrases “Total Depravity of Natural Man” and “Church Discipline”. And under books related to the Church, you will find books promoting the Elder Led model, such as Nine Marks of a Healthy Church (Mark Dever), The Master’s Plan for the Church (John MacArthur), and Biblical Eldership (Alexander Strauch).

So for what it’s worth if this is the future of non-Calvinism in the SBC, then I am all for it. I am certain I could work in unity with a guy like Ronnie Rogers!

    Norm Miller

    Thank you, DR. Pastor Rogers is a studious sort, and reads widely, too. Having met with him in NOLA, I found him to be exceedingly humble. He is a gentle man. — Norm
    P.S. Did I say it’s good to hear from you? (Is there an emoticon for ‘backslap’?)

      D.R. Randle

      No emoticons for backslap, but I will go on record and say that I am as anti-emoticon as you can get – using them cries out against my manhood. I hope to convince you of the better way. HAHA.

    Mike Bergman

    D.R.:

    And under books related to the Church, you will find books promoting the Elder Led model…

    I get some humor out of it… Trinity Baptist was my first exposure to the idea of elders. I had never heard of a Baptist church having elders, being elder-led, and only doing business meetings like once a year. Yet to see how they practiced it and their biblical reasoning it all made sense. And of course, they were not Calvinists…

    Then I go off to seminary, graduate there too, get involved in blogs and suddenly see this idea proposed by some that “elder-led” is part of the speak of those reformed guys who want to bring Calvinism into churches.

    Granted my sampling is small–but only one out of the six churches I’ve had personal involvement in could be described as elder-led, and it ain’t calvinist or reformed.

    I believe in elder-led, but not because I’m a Calvinist, I believe it b/c I was taught it and shown it from the Bible by a self-described “former Calvinist.” The irony in relation to certain blog-speak gives me a good laugh…

      D.R. Randle

      Oh yeah, I know quite a number of Baptist Churches (and otherwise) who have elders, but who aren’t in any way Calvinistic. There are a couple of examples right close to me in Georgia. But, it seems this has become part of the identifier for the “YRR” (whatever that has come to mean) or “the New Calvinists” (however that is broadly or narrowly applied). Yet, when we look at the broader Baptist spectrum, elder leadership is not something in which Calvinists have the market cornered.

        Lydia

        “Yet, when we look at the broader Baptist spectrum, elder leadership is not something in which Calvinists have the market cornered.”

        Very true. Most seeker mega’s are elder ruled.

      volfan007

      Elder is just another word for a Pastor, and most large churches would fit what you describe about Ronnie Rogers Church. I have no problem whatsoever with an Elder LED Church. I do have a problem with an Elder RULED Church.

      If a church votes on the annual budget…votes on the Elders…. votes on the committees….even though they vote only once a year…I’d say that that was congregational. Now, Elder RULED Churches are different.

      David

        D.R. Randle

        David,

        Can you please share with me the names of any SBC Churches you know that are truly “Elder-ruled” and please show me any literature written by a Southern Baptist that promotes such a Church government structure?

        Honestly, I think this is another boogieman. I have never seen a Southern Baptist Church with elders that is elder-ruled. If you have, I’d like to hear about it. But, what I typically hear is the mantra “They’re out there”, but I believe that if this is so, then let’s just identify them and move on. Otherwise, bringing up the specter of their existence apart from proof of it fails to add anything helpful to the discussion.

        Thus, David, I await your list of SBC Churches who are elder-ruled. You can post them directly under my comment.

          volfan007

          Dr,

          I simply stated the difference between an Elder Led Church, and an Elder Ruled Church. I wasnt accusing anyone of anything. Where did I say that there were Elder Ruled Churches in the SBC? And, if they are out there, then they are clearly not doing Church in a Baptist way.

          Presbyterian Churches do have an Elder Ruled Church. Some Acts 29 are Elder Ruled, from what I understand.

          David

          D.R. Randle

          David,

          Sorry that I got the wrong idea, but it did appear to me that you were trying to make a distinction because you believe this is a real issue in the SBC at this time. And honestly, your past statements seem to suggest that this is indeed your viewpoint. I seemed to remember statements you have made in the past that led me to think this and when I searched back over articles, I indeed found places where you have suggested that elder-ruled ecclesiology is a problem in the SBC.

          For example, several weeks ago you wrote of the New Calvinists in response to one of Dave Miller’s questions to you about “elder ecclesiology”. You said then, “An Elder ruled ecclesiology…rather than a congregationally ruled ecclesiology….and, that’s with some of them” ( bit.ly/Mha8Pg ).

          So there you seem to imply that there are some New Calvinists in the SBC who hold to an Elder-ruled ecclesiology. Previously this year you also suggested that Acts 29 Churches are by nature elder-ruled when you said, “It is true. NAMB is supporting Acts29 Church starts. My understanding of Acts29 plants is that you have to be Reformed in theology, believe in Elder rule, and it’ll have Driscoll’s thumbprint all over it. Yet, our NAMB is helping start these churches” ( bit.ly/MhdMIU ). In fact, when others tried to correct your opinion, you didn’t seem to accept their responses.

          You made a similar comment last June on SBC Voices (here: bit.ly/NSRTPW ) about Acts 29 Churches, suggesting again that all of them were elder-ruled.

          And probably the clearest example of this was from a set of conversations I was involved in starting at this comment – bit.ly/Mhm0AG – where you do claim to know of elder-ruled Churches, but refuse to name them.

          So again, sorry that I got the wrong impression, but your past statements led me to believe that you were again asserting something that you have failed to prove to be true. I have yet to see any Church in the SBC (and certainly not a movement of Churches) who embrace elder-ruled polity. My suggestion is that we stop referring to elder-rule when speaking of elder-led in order to avoid unintentionally suggesting that this is a real problem in the SBC apart from any evidence that such is true. Otherwise, we run the risk of allowing those ignorant of these matters to believe something untrue about our fellow SBC brothers and sisters in Christ.

    Johnathan Pritchett

    I am a Traditionalist, and my expansive library is filled with books by Calvinist authors whom I quite enjoy, recommend, and benefit from, even if I don’t agree with everything they write.

    It is healthy to be well read in many areas from various perspectives.

Don V

I have been following this conversation since the posting of the Traditional document and this is my first time to post. In my opinion Darryl W just hit it out of the park. His comment ought to be the last comment on this matter. I am strongly in the Traditionalist camp when it comes to soteriology, but this is a Calvinistic brother that I could worship with anytime. I have always believed that the Traditionalist and the Calvinist both believe that there is only one door to salvation – Jesus Christ. We just disagree on how we get to that door. But we both agree that we must go through that door to be forgiven and saved. I have drank deeply from the wells of many of my reformed brethren, and have greatly benefited as a pastor from their wisdom. John MacArthur and Mark Dever in particular. Chapter one in the book “The Deliberate Church,” is worth the price of the book alone. I have also drank deeply from the well of MacArthur’s eschatology and “leaky” dispensationalism and whole heartily agree that this is what the Bible systematically teaches. Many reformed preachers and teachers would and have disagreed with him yet respect him nonetheless. I am currently preaching through 1 Corinthians, and have found Paige Patterson’s commentary extremely invaluable. Darryl W, I agree with you 100%

    Bob Hadley

    Don V

    Well, thanks for your statement: “I have always believed that the Traditionalist and the Calvinist both believe that there is only one door to salvation – Jesus Christ. We just disagree on how we get to that door. But we both agree that we must go through that door to be forgiven and saved.”

    I agree with the statement we all believe that Jesus is the door to salvation. You are absolutely correct there. The next statement is really a little warped though… pardon the expression. Here is why I say that, we do not disagree on HOW we get through the door… really the better term would be who opens that door.

    The Calvinist says God opens the door and if He does not open that door, it does not get opened. Period. So if Christ is the door to salvation, which He is, then He also opens the door so that individuals may come to God.

    The Trad will say that God stands at the door and knocks and ANYONE who opens that door He will come in and dine with him and he with Him and access is granted to the Father to the one who responded to the knock on that door by opening it. I like the picture of Jesus knocking at the door that has NO DOOR KNOB… the door knob is on the inside of my heart.

    It simply seems difficult to see the Bible declaring that by faith we are saved by believing and then turn around and say… God gives some the faith to be saved and the ability to believe… so it is not really faith at all that saves anyone but God’s causative will and His efficacious calling… for without them, salvation is not even a possibility. According to the calvinist, Jesus died for those that God intended to save and those He irresistibly calls and they are saved at His sole choosing.

    No thank you. That is a DOG that won’t hunt… in the Bible as I read it.

    Unfortunately, we may both be wrong but one thing is absolutely true; we cannot both be right. To stand on the Word of God as we each see it, demands respect on both sides and that by necessity requires resolution.

    ><>”

      Norm Miller

      What I’m wondering is how accurately this statement from earlier this morning reflects Calvinism and/or Calvinists. It comes from Dr. McGlaughlin’s post well above on the page. He stated:
      “More than 150,000 people die in this world each day. Some souls are saved from eternal damnation but most are not. The Calvinist believes, at the end of each day, not one of the lost could have been saved even if the level of Christian evangelism had been increased by a factor of one billion for the past 1900 years.”
      Do Calvinists really believe this? — Norm

        rhutchin

        Not exactly. Dr. McGlaughlin makes salvation a work of man (conflating Calvinism with non-Calvinism) so the more work man does (evangelize), the more men will be saved. Calvinists make salvation a work of God so the more men God intends to save, the more work (evangelism) He excites among men. Thus, if salvation were a work of man, then “not one of the lost could have been saved even if the level of Christian evangelism had been increased by a factor of one billion for the past 1900 years” but if salvation is a work of God, then many of the lost “could have been saved if the level of Christian evangelism had been increased [by God] by a factor of one billion for the past 1900 years.” The real issue is who God intends to save and that number, we know, God had settled upon before he created the world.

        RH: Still waiting on that verse that says God will “excite” folks to evangelism. — Norm

          Norm Miller

          Thx, RH. But since we have the Great Commission, shall we not be engaged in evangelism consistently?
          Also, is there a verse that supports your statement “… so the more men God intends to save, the more work (evangelism) He excites among men.”
          While I appreciate your remarks RH, I’m wondering if others of the calvinistic persuasion would weigh in on this. — Norm

          Darryl W

          Norm,

          I think rhutchin has answered well. There is a positive aspect to this view. If Satan and his minions (demonic and human) increased their efforts by a factor of a billion for 1900 years not one soul that God has given to Christ would have been lost.

          For me, I look at Acts 18 where Paul is in Corinth. God said not to be afraid because no one would hurt him because God would not allow it to happen. I interpret that Paul was told that there were lots of Elect to harvest so Paul(God’s chosen evangelistic effort for Corinth) stayed 18 months, under Divine protection, until the harvest was complete.

          -Darryl

          Brad Reynolds

          rhutchin
          Could you clarify something for me as I seek to better understand your statement. Are you saying that if I am not doing evangelism it is God’s fault for not doing the work to excite me to do so?
          Thanks

          Cb scott

          ” Are you saying that if I am not doing evangelism it is God’s fault for not doing the work to excite me to do so?”

          I would kinda like tho read the answer to that one myself.

        John

        Norm,
        “Do Calvinists really believe this?”

        I’ll assume you have not visited Dr. McGlaughlin’s web site and read his writings. I just hope Traditionalist do endorse or embrace Dr. McGlaughlin’s views. Or maybe you have visited Dr. McGlaughlin’s web site and do endorse his views.

        I guess I should have asked you first.

        Norm, do you endorse Dr. McGlaughlin’s views of Calvinist that he has written extensively about on his website?

        D.R. Randle

        Norm,

        I don’t personally know of any Calvinist who would say something like this. But I am sure some of them exist. This is again the problem with painting an entire group of very diverse people with a broad stroke concerning the applications of their theological viewpoints.

        Michael Horton wrote something recently that I think applies here as well. Here’s the link: http://bit.ly/Q0c7cY . Now, what he writes is specifically about prayer, but really applies to any means by which God uses to bring people to salvation. Because compatiblistic free will Calvinists (which are the vast majority – including all SBC Calvinists to my knowledge) believe in means, then often times we see that the greater the use of means the greater the results. That’s not always true, but if God is truly being glorified in the actions of His people, then His glory will bring about the visible manifestions of those actions, such as repentance from sin by Christians and salvation in those previously not of Christ.

        Unfortunately, some Calvinists who don’t believe in means (either being of the hyper variety or who are simply immature in the application of their theology), as well as those who don’t understand Evangelical Calvinism (or even those who seek to malign it without fully understanding it), often paint a picture like what we read above. This is unfortunate, but such a forum hopefully will afford Evangelical Calvinists the opportunity to set the record straight.

        The only question that remains, though, is will non-Calvinists accept such an explanation or will those who cannot grasp this concept continue to promote these caricatures.

          Norm Miller

          Thx, DR. I’ve heard some who claim Calvin to espouse similar to what Dr. M. noted, so his personal position was not really part of my inquiry as one other has inquired if I have been to Dr. M’s blog. I asked if Cs believed what the Doc wrote, and I heard a thoughtful answer from you. Thx much. — Norm

          Johnathan Pritchett

          Will you try to teach T.R. a little more about Reformed theology so we don’t have to respond to caricatures with caricatures anymore?

          D.R. Randle

          Jonathan,

          I haven’t really paid attention to what T.R. wrote, but you know as well as I do that there are many who post on blogs who don’t represent systematized theological positions well. I think it is part of our job as informed theologians to not allow the ignorant to inform our opinion of those theological systems. It is perfectly legitimate to answer their charges Biblically, but also we must recognize that just because one particular person believes something, doesn’t mean all Calvinists or all “Traditionalists” believe that same thing and make that clear in our responses.

          T.R.

          D.R. are you calling me “ignorant” and yourself “informed”? If so, give some specifics and evidence. I would be surprised if you are as well read as I am on Reformed doctrine, the Reformation and Systematic Theology from a Calvinistic perspective.

          D.R. Randle

          T.R.,

          I haven’t read anything you wrote, so I am not calling you anything. I was merely responding to Jonathan’s comment from the perspective of knowing that just because someone writes something on a blog doesn’t mean they are an expert, nor that they epitomize the fullness of any theological system. I am not going to take responsibility for what you wrote because for all I know you could be ignorant of Reformed Theology. Maybe you aren’t. But what so often happens is that people take a comment from one person and claim it is the default position of a theological system, not recognizing that the person who wrote it really doesn’t understand what they are writing.

          So sorry to offend – as I said I haven’t read anything you have written so far. I responded simply on the basis of what I know to be true so often with commenters. Sorry for the confusion.

      T.R.

      Bob Hadley writes: “The Trad will say that God stands at the door and knocks and ANYONE who opens that door He will come in and dine with him…”

      Very true Bob. The Trads do this often, ripping texts out of context and applying them to the world. As you have done here with Revelation 3:20, a text written to the church, not to the world. Other Trads do the same with 2 Peter 3:9 “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” Almost all Trads rip this text out of its context and apply it to the world, even though it was clearly a promise written to the Church, not to the world. Again Trads will insert things that are not in the text, as they do with Romans 8:29 inserting faith, when the text says nothing about faith, nor about knowing anything that the person would do but merely speaks about God foreknowing the person (He knew them. It doesn’t say He knew their faith).

      It is sad but true how often Trads are unfaithful to the context of Scripture.

      T.R. I didn’t see Bob’s citation of Rev 3.20. — Norm

        T.R.

        Revelation 3:20 “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him…”

        Bob Hadley writes: “The Trad will say that God stands at the door and knocks and ANYONE who opens that door He will come in and dine with him…”

        Revelation 3:20 is the only text like Bob’s words. What am I supposed to think? Give me a break. It is obvious. Unless Bob’s words mean nothing, and should never be thought of as relating to any text of Scripture and just speaks nonesense; otherwise, I should relate his words to the text that obviously correspond to those words.

        TR: My bad. It’s been a long day. — Norm

          Lydia

          7 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. Matthew 7

          Debbie Kaufman

          Lydia: Read the entire passage of Matthew 7. This is not written to unbelievers but believers. 9 “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! 12 So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.

          This is speaking to born again Christians. And nowhere in the passage does it have Jesus knocking.

          Debbie Kaufman

          13 “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.

          Debbie Kaufman

          I don’t think Jesus knocks, but instead crashes in, knocking the door down.

          Bob Hadley

          TR

          I appreciate your interaction with my comment. Here is the text… Rev 3:19-21

          19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent. 20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.

          Here is the deal… I know Jesus is speaking to the church at Laodicea… the lukewarm church… and it is the last of the 7 churches… I dont know what the significance of that is… but I do know this…

          I hear ALL the time that the church today is FULL of unregenerate folk… that need to be saved; perhaps that is why this church is lukewarm… has BOTH redeemed and unredeemed folk in it. So… Jesus’ admonition is to those who are there who are NOT saved… to repent… open the door let Jesus in. Now… to those who are saved.. the next verse comes into play;

          21 To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.

          Jesus’ admonition is to everyone in the local church… not the universal church… you see I believe the church is a place for ALL… yep.. ALL who will come.

          It makes NO SENSE at all… for Jesus to be speaking to the born again child of God… behold I stand at the door and knock… what door? I believe He is talking about the door to our hearts… now He does not have to kncok on the door of the born again child of God because the Holy Spirit has taken up residence in MY heart… already… so He does not need an invitation to come in… He is already there.

          Now… verse 21 is for me as a child of God… an overcomer in Christ Jesus!

          So… lets not be so quick to be critical of my position… as I did not see any explanation on your part of the same passage.

          ><>”

        Johnathan Pritchett

        Actually, it is not ripping 2 Peter 3:9 out of context to apply it to the world.

        First, ALL Epistles are addressed to believers, AND ALL OBVIOUSLY assume non-believers will be among the audience. Can we stop having that conversation about who letters are addressed to now as a supposed argument? Seriously, this line is just plain bad, and smart exegets from all sides recognize this. Go read up on ancient documents and salutations…

        Sheesh.

        Now, as to context. The letter is chock filled with warnings to the audience about false teachers creeping in and leading people astray, people wondering from the past, and so forth, along with exhortations to be faithful or else, all the way to the end of the book.

        This patience of the Lord in 3:9 is spoken of AGAIN in 3:15 as an OPPORTUNITY FOR SAVATION (believers don’t need salvation…nor fear of perishing for that matter, but I digress).

        Why would that be an opportunity for salvation?

        Oh…right…”because the Lord is not willing that any should perish…”

        It is SOME Calvinists trying to make this say something other than it clearly does…2 Peter 3:9 is a magnanimous statement about God’s general desire (and EVEN SMART CALVINISTS UNDERSTAND THIS AND SHARE OUR INTERPRETATION, but say it is a “God’s revealed will of His disposition” or something like that in distinction to His secretive will), and it was intended to be such a magnanimous statement about God’s desire for all to come to repentance.

        This is amateur hour…

          Debbie Kaufman

          I believe God is the victor. Christ is the victor. Now not later.

          T.R.

          It is not just who the letter was addressed to Johnathan. Peter writes that the Lord “is longsuffering toward US”. That is who the promise it to “us”. The Church.

          Sorry, but this text, that you continue to rip out of context, is actually for the Church. When I showed this to my former Arminian pastor (a prof at Washington Bible College) he stopped using because he too saw that it was actually a promise to the Church. You should dig a little deeper.

          T.R.

          Arminians insist that in 2 Peter 3:9 the words “any” and “all” refer to all mankind without exception. But it is important first of all to see to whom those words were addressed. In the first verse of chapter 1, we find that the epistle is addressed not to mankind at large, but to Christians: “…to them that have obtained a like precious faith with us.” And in the preceding verse (3:1), Peter had addressed those to whom he was writing as “beloved.” And when we look at the verse as a whole, and not merely at the last half, we find that it is not primarily a salvation verse at all, but a second coming verse! It begins by saying that “The Lord is not slacking concerning his promise” [singular]. What promise? Verse 4 tells us: “the promise of his coming.” The reference is to His second coming, when He will come for judgement, and the wicked will perish in the lake of fire. The verse has reference to a limited group. It says that the Lord is “longsuffering to usward,” His elect, many of whom had not yet been regenerated, and who therefore had not yet come to repentance. Hence we may quite properly read verse 9 as follows: “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise as some count slackness, but is longsuffering to usward, not willing that any of us should perish, but that all of us should come to repentance.”

      Debbie Kaufman

      Bob: I realize that this passage(Revelation 3:20) is used by those who are not Calvinist as an evangelical tool, but look at the whole chapter and the previous chapter with that passage in its proper context again. I see it as being written to those who are already believers, the Church.

Don V

Bob,

If pressed to “flesh out” my statement, I would have drawn the same conclusions you have. However, that was not my point. I never said anything about how we went through the door, only that we must. I understand that this is what the disagreement is all about. I was only agreeing with what Darryl W said in his post. I believe he spoke to the heart of this debate, and really in my opinion, what is going to be the only resolution. By the way, I have appreciated your comments greatly in this entire discussion. You bring a lot to the table from the traditionalist side of things, and have really helped me with some of your thought provoking comments.

    Norm Miller

    Thx for the tenor of your remarks, Don V. Blessings to you. — Norm

    Bob Hadley

    Don V

    Thanks… I was simply responding to what I read… which can be taken in different ways… thanks for the compliment; I never claim to be the smartest person here. Just sincere about my convictions!

    Glad you are participating and contributing.

    ><>”

Eric Lockhart

Is the mention of double-talk supposed to suggest that “Traditionalist” do not have double talk? Perhaps like on issues of God’s sovereignty and salvation.

Eric Lockhart

I asked a question earlier; I’d like to make an observation. I should preface that I am not saying I don’t believer Pastor Rogers, so please don’t read my comment that way. But, what I find interesting is that Pastor Rogers is perhaps the first Calvinist, though now former, that I have ever heard of, who would claim to come to Calvinism through a study of systematic theology. Every Calvinist I know, myself included, would state they came to believe Reformed theology through reading the Scriptures. I just found that interesting.

    volfan007

    Eric,

    Most of the Calvinists I know became Calvinists, because some other Calvinist converted them. Are you saying that no Calvinist talked to you about Calvinism? That you read no books about Calvinism? That your Pastor was not a Calvinist?

    I studied the Bible for years before ever really hearing about Calvinism. My mother is a relentless studier of the Scriptures. She never became a Calvinist, and neither did I. In fact, at Seminary, I had a crowd of Calvinist, who tried to convert me. I seriously considered becoming a Calvinist, but it was the Bible that kept me from becoming one.

    David

      John Wylie

      Eric,
      With all due respect, with the exception of those who were raised in Calvinist churches, every Calvinist I know was influenced by Calvin or Augustine or one of a number of modern Calvinists and that was how they became Calvinist. Every Calvinist I personally know was indoctrinated into it. All man made systems are that way.

        Eric Lockhart

        John W,

        Please see my response to volfan007. It well may be, but if so, I was unaware of it occurring in my life. Since college, there has been plenty of influence in refining what I believe.

      Eric Lockhart

      volfan007, I should first make very clear that I am not trying to say that those who are not Calvinist don’t read their Bibles. Nor am I trying to say the experience is the same for everyone. Just saying I had never heard of such a statement as becoming Calvinist because you studied systematic theology.

      It may be that in passing at some point someone had talked to me about Calvinism. I did not read any books on it until years later. I moved a lot, I guess it is possible that one of my pastors was a Calvinist, though it seems doubtful as neither of my parents are even today. I didn’t know I was a Calvinist until college, and then I learned what I believed about Salvation had an extra label besides Christianity.

      T.R.

      I became a Calvinist by reading Romans 9 over and over again until I came to grips with it. And also, to be honest, reading Martin Luther’s book, “Bondage of the Will” sealed the deal. The Scriptures and Luther turned me into a Calvinist. I did not read a single word of Calvin or any calvinistic writings before this point. That’s the truth.

        John Wylie

        TR,

        Really you became a Calvinist by reading a single chapter of scripture over and over again? Do you not see where that in itself suggests a flaw in the paradigm?

          T.R.

          I had read the entire New Testament eight times by this point and the Old Testament once plus several books of the OT more than once. So it was not as if I was unacquainted with Scripture. But I had not understood Predestination yet, hence my study of Romans 9.

          Don Johnson

          T.R.,

          With your study of Rom. 9 over and over, was Ishmael saved or lost?

            T.R.

            Romans 9 speaks about individuals alright, but not about Ishmael. Rather, it speaks about Pharaoh, Jacob and Esau. You should know that.

Darryl W

Well, I was not going to comment on Part 2 because I really did not have much of a reaction to the piece. But after consideration I guess limited reaction is a comment in a way. I agree with Dr. Rogers, Calvinism is hard. I also agree that Calvinism has double talk. However, the simple Gospel carries those very same attributes.

Norm, you mentioned excerpts from his book. I do look forward to those. As a Calvinist I would very much like to hear how Rogers’ addresses unbelievers choosing Christ as a non-meritorious act. If you are taking requests!

Thanks,

-The Other Brother Darryl

mike

SelahV,
Thank you for your kind response. How refreshing to see a response of grace when discussing this topic. I wish that both sides would show the same grace and charity that you have shown. I’m not so sure that we as professors of Jesus always have the maturity to respond with grace in bloggedom, a grace that reflects its Author. yes I do believe that bloggedom certainly serves an overarching purpose in Gods purposes. However sadly it also brings the worst out in us to. You clearly are one who loves his/her(?) Maker because you have shown the overflowing result of doing so.

Now to respond to your kind response. Yes that free will I spoke of is free though it is still bound. A prisoner is free to do as he chooses. He can curse the warden. He can bang his tin cup on the bars. He can show kindness if he so chooses. Regardless, he is still bound. He is still a prisoner.
The same is true of mankind. We were all once free… Free to sin. Our wills dictated that we live for ourselves. We were king of our lives. Which in no way nor at any point did we seek to truly make God look great.
Calvinism teaches that God sets us free from our bondage to sin. Once set free we then have the ability to choose not to sin (as in to seek to glorify God in all we do i.e. 1 Cor 10:31) which, I believe, is the best definition of free will, the ability to not sin.
You may disagree. If you do, that is OK. It should not prove to be a dividing point. Assuming that you are one who seeks to love God with your entire being, I will affirm you and seek to bless you and serve you since I do not believe you should be “like” me.

I would love to continue to respond to you regarding us choosing Christ… And yielding our will… But I must go. This iPad not having a keyboard is driving me crazy. Besides there are fish to be caught! :)
Bendiciones!!!!

Weston

Calvinism hinges on Total Depravity, not on Unconditional Election. If Total Depravity proves to be true the rest of the TULIP is true.

    T.R.

    “Thumbs up” to Weston’s comment. I agree.

    Don Johnson

    Fortunately, it’s not true.

      Eric Lockhart

      Why is it not true? I would say it is very much true. In fact, every Calvinist I know would say this is true. I’ve never heard anyone say it hinged on Unconditional Election before this article. Unconditional Election did not cause us to be Totally Depraved, but Total Depravity necessitates Unconditional Election.

      That’s my reasoning. I’d honestly love to hear yours.

        Don Johnson

        Eric,

        When I said it wasn’t true, I was referring to what the concept of what total depravity really is, that being
        “total inability.” The Bible certainly teaches we cannot save ourselves, but it doesn’t teach we need to first be regenerated in order to believe the Gospel. There are things which sometimes prevent us from believing, but “total inability” is never one of them.

          Eric Lockhart

          Thanks for your answer. I obviously disagree with your assessment, but appreciate at least your reasoning behind the comment.

Nick Schoeneberger

In order to be a disenfranchised Calvinist, you have to actually first BE a Calvinist. This gentleman has no legitimate claim to having actually understood what Calvinism is in the first place.

First clue: The proper term for a “4-point Calvinist” is “Arminian.”

Calvinism without all of the doctrines of grace interoperating together is not an internally consistent and cohesive system and does not comport with scripture. Calvinistic soteriology with all 5-points fully in tact is undefeatable because it leans entirely on the power of scriptural truth.

The fact that the SBC wants to continue to entertain claims of people like this and put them up as having anything legitimate to say when they don’t interact AT ALL with the text, with the greatest thinkers of church history who held to Calvinist soteriology or even simple laypersons like me is a blight on the denomination. We need to show a little intellectual rigor, people. If you’re going to make claims like these, be serious about it and actually know something of which you speak. It’s just tiresome.

    John Wylie

    Nick,

    “First clue: The proper term for a “4-point Calvinist” is “Arminian.””

    Have you ever heard of an Amyraldian? They are 4 point Calvinists not anywhere close to Arminian.

      John Wylie

      Nick,

      The famous puritan author and pastor Richard Baxter was an Amyraldian (4 point Calvinist). Even its Calvinist detractors still refer to it as a “form of Calvinism”.

        volfan007

        Of course, it’s Calvinism. It’s based on the very same philosophy of 5 pt. Calvinism and Arminianism.

        David

        Nick Schoeneberger

        Calling a Oneness Pentecostal a Trinitarian doesn’t make them a Trinitarian. I’m fully aware of those claiming to be Calvinists in the Amyraldian tradition. I maintain that they are not logically consistent without all 5 points. Additionally, Mr. Rogers does not exhibit a clear understanding of what it is he was against – especially in light of the appeals to emotion and claims of personal sins as if they stem from Calvinism. Any Calvinist who acts pridefully BECAUSE of their “Calvinism” doesn’t understand the doctrines of grace to begin with. They are immensely humbling when understood rightly. Dr. James White will be providing a detailed analysis on Today’s webcast at 2pm EDT which you can stream live here: http://aomin.org/articles/webcast.html

          John Wylie

          Nick,

          Of course Amyraldians are not logically consistent with all five points of Calvinism that’s why they’re called “4 Point Calvinists”. Just because you say that they are not Calvinists doesn’t make it so.

          Further, you comment about pride was really sort of funny in light of your original comment about the need for more intellectual rigor.

          volfan007

          Nick,

          Maybe the people, who are 6 and 7 and 8 pointers, dont consider you a Calvinist, then? Huh? lol. Just how many points do you have to have, before you’re a bonafide Calvinist?

          David

    Norm Miller

    Nick: You make a number of astounding and unsubstantiated claims, some of which may have more unintended consequences than you care to know. One of those is this: If Pastor Rogers was not a Calvinist with only 4 points, then neither are many who also claim to be Calvinist, or at least Calvinistic. Two notable such men would be the Drs. Akin and Merritt.
    You noted that folks opposing your position “interact AT ALL [emp. yours] with the text.” Hmmm. Did you not read the interview? And how do you know with any certitude the extent to which folks opposing your view read and study the Bible. fact is, you made a baseless claim, well, not entirely, for it was based on conjecture. I agree with you about intellectual rigor. Let us all be equally convinced of the need for Christlike demeanor. — Norm

Drew Mery

It is interesting that he was a 4-pointer for his time as a “Calvinist.” I always get a chuckle out of this. One is not truly a Calvinist, in the historical sense, if they do not accept all five 5-points of Calvinism (note: Calvinism is MORE than the “5 Points,” which speak to the area of soteriology). In my own experience, those who deny one or more points of Calvinism usually don’t have a historical-biblical understanding of those points they do accept; and if they do, it just shows theological inconsistency. I do believe that when one truly understands the teachings of Calvinism (and therefore the biblical teaching on these points), it is a most joyous, humbling, and even trembling truth. It exalts God as God and humbles man as man.

    volfan007

    Drew,

    Maybe the 6 and 7 pointers dont consider you a “REAL” Calvinist, either. lol

    David

    John Wylie

    Drew,
    The problem is that even Calvinists recognize Amyraldians as Calvinists. Truth be told there are probably more 4 pointers than 5 pointers in the SBC.

      Drew Mery

      volfano007 and John, both of your responses fail to speak to the historical understanding of Calvinism. First off, while there are so-called 6 and 7 point Calvinists out there, those extra points they add do not take away the original 5 points, but rather speak to other biblical truths that are extensions to the 5 points (or related to them in some way). In other words, whatever points they add on to the original 5 doesn’t mean that 5 point Calvinists don’t agree with those added points. For example, John Piper considers himself a 7 point Calvinists, and yet I agree with his additional two points. Second, I wouldn’t be surprised to find more 4 pointers in the SBC than 5 pointers, but what does that prove? Nothing really, except an inconsistency in one’s theology and a reluctance to accept the clear teaching of Scripture. The bottom line is that, historically speaking, a “4 point Calvinist” is not truly a Calvinist. Yes, while there may be more theological agreement between a 5 pointer and a 4 pointer, than with an Arminian, the 4 pointer is not truly a Calvinist in the historical and confessional sense of the word.

        John Wylie

        Drew,

        I’m sorry but you’re the one who is failing to recognize the historic implications of your statement. Amyraldianism has always been considered by Calvinists a form or variation of Calvinism. Further you speaking of Calvinism as though it were a flawless paradigm but like all man made systems it is not.

          volfan007

          What John Wylie said. Also, no matter what point Calvinist you are, or even if you’re a Classic Arminian; it’s all based on Augustinian philosophy. So, yea, a person is a Calvinist, no matter how many points they are; if thier belief system is based on this Augustinian, philosophical system.

          David

            dr. james willingham

            Baloney, Volfan. I never read Augustine until years after I had changed my theology. I even wrote a paper on the source of his views on God
            s immutability in a graduate course in Philosophy (and he didn’t get it from Aristotle, but from the Bible). It all began with me with the words “CAN” and “MAY.” Jesus said, No man can come,” and that means no one has the ability to respond. They have the permission to come; they just don’t have the ability, and the Lord has to decide to give them the power to turn from sin to the Lord Jesus Christ and to trust in Him. That was the beginning. All Biblical, All scriptural, nothing philosophical. Can’t say either Calvin or Augustine influenced me, since I never read either one until several years after I had come to believe these doctrines of grace and to see in them the heart and soul of missions and evangelism/

dr. james willingham

In the interest of fairness to the origins of the SBC, why not interview an individual who began his ministry about like the average Southern Baptist and came to Sovereign Grace (a more appropriate term than calvinism) a point at a time while pastoring. I have been an ordained Southern Baptist pastor for 50 years (5-20-62). served four churches in two states, did six years of research in Baptist and Church history, and am descended from Southern Baptists going back to their very beginnings in the South. Or is SBC Today only an outlet for the traditionalists, while relegating Sovereign Grace believers to comments on the blogs?

Being a Pastor’s Pastor | SBC Voices

[…] expect.  Recently he wrote a book detailing his journey away from Calvinism.  Our friends at sbctoday posted a chapter from his book as well as an interview he gave.  But I don’t want to talk in […]

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