Interview with Dr. Adam Harwood

February 19, 2013

Harwood2In the weeks preceding this year’s John 3.16 Conference (see ad to right), SBCToday will post interviews with each person scheduled to speak at the Conference.

The following interview is with Dr. Adam Harwood, Assistant Professor of Christian Studies, Truett-McConnell College, Cleveland, Georgia.


1. How has the invitation to speak at the conference impacted you?

I am honored that Dr. Vines extended the invitation and have been praying, thinking, writing, and rewriting my presentation for several months.

 

2. How important is this conference in light of the current climate within the SBC?

In recent years, there have been other conferences on the topic of Calvinism in the SBC–including the John 3:16 Conference in 2008. Next month’s conference will provide an opportunity for Southern Baptists to hear theological viewpoints peaceably articulated in order to advance this important discussion within the SBC family.

I know that some brothers in the SBC do not support this conference because they expect the speakers to advance views they do not affirm. I prefer to consider the conference to be an opportunity to articulate what we affirm rather than what we are against.

A common criticism that I hear from my Calvinistic brothers in the SBC is this: “You’ve told us what you’re against. If you don’t affirm these points of Calvinism, then what do you believe? Make your case from the Bible.”

By God’s grace, that’s my goal.

 

3. How important is your assigned topic — “What did we inherit from Adam? — to the total content of the Conference?

I suspect all the speakers think their assigned question is the most important, but all six questions are highly relevant when considering the doctrine of salvation.

In addition to that question, I will lead a breakout session on the eternal destiny of people who die as infants. During that time, I plan to present the different positions Christians affirm when answering this question: “What does the Bible teach about people who die as infants–before they have a chance to hear and respond to the Gospel?”

 

4. Regarding your main address, what do you hope your paper will accomplish?

I hope to answer one question: Who is guilty of Adam’s sin?

Christians differ on the answer. Some say everyone is guilty of Adam’s sin. I will cite support from the Bible, systematic theology, and church history to argue that only Adam is guilty of Adam’s sin. All people inherit a sinful nature and are responsible to God for their own sin–not the guilt of Adam’s sin.

The best possible outcome for the paper is that listeners who disagree will say the view finds robust support in the Bible, theology, and history–it’s a legitimate and biblical option for Southern Baptists.

 

5. How important is your assigned topic within the broader SBC conversation regarding Calvinism?

My topic is critically important for the convention-wide discussion of Calvinism. Here’s why: Inherited guilt (the view that all people inherit Adam’s guilt) is a theological commitment for most Calvinists–but inherited guilt is not affirmed in the Baptist Faith and Message.

I am not saying that Calvinists cannot affirm the BFM. They can and do. I am simply observing that inherited guilt is not affirmed in the BFM.

Last summer, a theological statement was released which explicitly denies that we are guilty of Adam’s sin. Two SBC seminary presidents (and many other SBC statesmen) publicly affirmed the document. One week later, a third SBC seminary president wrote in his blog that the statement “appears” to affirm semi-Pelagian views. That seminary president has neither clarified nor retracted his remark. (Note: Substitute semi-Pelagian with “unbiblical.”) Even our seminary presidents differ on inherited guilt. This needs to be discussed.

Can’t we simply agree to disagree? No. There are three reasons we can’t simply agree to disagree.

First, if denying inherited guilt is an unbiblical view, then Article 3 of the BFM should be revised. As currently worded, it is consistent to deny inherited guilt and affirm the BFM.

Second, if denying inherited guilt is an unbiblical view, then–since I teach theology at a Baptist college–I should be fired. Why? I deny inherited guilt (and encourage my students to consider denying inherited guilt) every semester when I teach on the doctrine of sin.

Third, if denying inherited guilt is an unbiblical view, then SBC Seminaries should view Truett-McConnell graduates with suspicion; SBC churches should do the same when our graduates interview with churches. Why? Our students sit under Christian Studies faculty who are comfortable denying inherited guilt.

For these reasons and others, we can’t simply agree to disagree. Instead, we need to peaceably and openly discuss these theological differences. My topic is important for the convention-wide discussion in the SBC because it provides an opportunity for people to clarify their theological views. That’s crucial for Great Commission cooperation.

 

6.   What result(s) do you hope to see from the Conference?

Unity. Baptists have differed on certain points of Calvinism for over 400 years. Southern Baptists have differed on Calvinism since the founding of our convention–almost 170 years ago. Even so, we cooperate to share the Gospel with the world. I hope this discussion will restore unity and cooperation among Southern Baptists for the sake of the Great Commission. I don’t expect everyone to affirm the same view of original sin. But I hope that we can differ without labeling the other view as unorthodox.

 

7.   Do you have any response to how the Conference will be received across the SBC?

Yes. Internet chatter has already begun regarding the motive for the conference. Some have claimed it will be a forum for attacking Calvinists. But consider: When Dr. Stephen Wellum (Professor of Christian Theology at SBTS) advocated for limited atonement in a faculty address last year, he was not attacking non-Calvinists. Rather, Wellum was advocating for the Calvinist doctrine of limited atonement (the view that Jesus died only for the elect, not for all people). The message is available here: http://www.credomag.com/2012/07/26/what-does-the-extent-of-the-atonement-have-to-do-with-baptist-ecclesiology/. Similarly, I’m not interested in attacking a group but advocating for a view, which necessarily involves refuting competing views. I hope to persuade listeners that a non-Calvinist view of original sin is superior to the Calvinist view.

At next month’s conference, I plan to advocate for a theological position based on support from the Bible, systematic theology, and church history. This view happens to contradict a view affirmed by most Calvinists. That’s not an attack on Calvinists; that’s making a case to Southern Baptists.

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Norm Miller

Dr. Harwood:
It comes as no surprise that I resonate with your post and position on inherited guilt, and am thankful for both. With near-equal gratitude I appreciate your tone in this interview also. I trust all who comment on this post exercise the wisdom to follow your example. — Norm

Johnathan Pritchett

Dr. Harwood, I can not wait for this paper to be presented. It will not only put to rest ridiculous charges against Traditionalism, but challenge people to rethink their position on this issue, its implications, and hopefully also contribute to the overall discussion of whether or not it is proper in SBC circles to require affirmations to theological ideas neither stated nor implied in Scripture or the BF&M 2k.

I think you doing a break out session on infants is a great idea as well. This is a topic that always comes up in SS classes all across the SBC.

Wish I could be there. I will especially be praying for you, since you are, more than anyone else, addressing the one topic that garners the most controversy.

    Adam Harwood

    Johnathan,
    Thanks for your good wishes and prayers for the upcoming conference. I appreciate–and need–them.
    In Him,
    Adam

rhutchin

It would be nice if this paper could be available to people soon rather than having to wait for it to be published at some later date.

Some points that Dr. Harwood might address in the paper.

“I will cite support from the Bible, systematic theology, and church history to argue that only Adam is guilty of Adam’s sin.” Dr. Harwood might address the issue of why Adam’s children are subject to physical death before they sin if not guilty of Adam’s sin.

“All people inherit a sinful nature and are responsible to God for their own sin–not the guilt of Adam’s sin.” A discussion of a person’s sinful nature and spiritual death would be beneficial. If a child born to Adam has a sinful nature, is that child spiritually dead prior to committing a sin – Why or why not? If not, why a sinful nature before sin?

Adam was driven out of the garden and out of God’s presence. Why would Adam’s children also be denied entry into the garden prior to their sin?

In essence, if only Adam is guilty of Adam’s sin, why does God punish everyone else for that sin? On what basis is God justified in punishing Adam’s children for Adam’s sin (as it appears He does)?

Dr. Harwood seems to be putting a lot of thought and study into this issue. Hopefully, he will not disappoint.

    Norm Miller

    “Dr. Harwood might address the issue of why Adam’s children are subject to physical death before they sin if not guilty of Adam’s sin.”
    The curse of Adam’s sin was universal and includes physical death, as well as our inheritance of his nature — one prone to sin. Such facts do not necessitate that infants who have not yet knowingly committed a sin must go to hell. Neither do these facts necessitate our inheritance of someone else’s guilt.

    “If a child born to Adam has a sinful nature, is that child spiritually dead prior to committing a sin…?”
    The premise of this question assumes there is a difference between an adamic sinful nature and spiritual deadness. I would posit that, yes, we were, as Paul states, dead in our trespasses and sins, but I do not believe that our spirits were dead; they were simply evil and “dead” to the things of God. I think it would be fair to equate an adamic nature to a human spirit prone to sin. If that is true, then the question posed is a distinction without a difference.

    “In essence, if only Adam is guilty of Adam’s sin, why does God punish everyone else for that sin?”
    Again, how does god punish everyone else for Adam’s sin? True, we suffer the consequences: a sinful nature, a fallen earth, and ultimate death. I see those results as God-mandated consequences for all. Though I am a sinner saved by grace, I will still suffer the consequences of Adam’s sin. The earth is degenerating, and I will die. Those consequences have nothing to do with my spiritual condition, so I am not responsible for those consequences. As Rick Patrick noted, “I did not eat the apple.”

    Have you read Dr. Harwood’s book? — Norm

      rhutchin

      “The curse of Adam’s sin was universal and includes physical death, as well as our inheritance of his nature — one prone to sin.”

      Why are the innocent cursed? Why are the sinless cursed?

      “I would posit that, yes, we were, as Paul states, dead in our trespasses and sins…”

      But not at birth, right? Only after sin. Correct? So what causes spiritual death? Obviously sin. Without sin, there should be no death, spiritual or physical.

      Maybe Dr. Harwood will help sort these things out.

        Norm Miller

        rhutchin: Again you are making a distinction w/o a difference. You apparently fail to see that Adam’s sin brought universal, corporate consequences despite one’s spiritual condition, but did not impute individual guilt to anyone but himself.
        No matter how many times you rephrase your questions, they will be fallacious as long as you conflate the universal consequences of the Fall and an individual’s guilt for their own sin (or lack of it, as in the case of infants). — Norm

          Johnathan Pritchett

          Exactly.

          And, again, it wouldn’t kill rhutchin to buy Dr. Harwood’s book and read it.

          rhutchin obviously has a computer, and Amazon has free Kindle apps for computers. $9.99 and rhutchin can start with the book.

          http://www.amazon.com/Spiritual-Condition-Infants-Biblical-Historical-ebook/dp/B004Y6E7IW/ref=sr_1_1_title_1_kin?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1361284481&sr=1-1&keywords=adam+harwood

            rhutchin

            What if I buy the book and it doesn’t do what you claim it does? Will Dr. Harwood send me his conference paper for free?

            rhutchin

            I have a Mac. Is there a kindle app that allows Amazon ebooks to be read on a Mac (not an iPad)?

            Johnathan Pritchett

            I am not claiming that the book does any more than present Dr. Harwood’s view without interruption.

            It provides a frame of reference to the discussion so that he isn’t answering questions unrelated to his view, or responding to criticisms of a view in which he does not hold.

            Yes, there is a Kindle app for Macs.

            I love the Kindle app for my computer. If available, I buy most of my seminary textbooks (and books of passing, but not deep, interest) on Kindle these days to make quoting from the required material much easier (via copy/paste). :)

            Adam Harwood

            I don’t want to build unrealistic expectations for the presentation but I think the case I will present at John 3:16 is much stronger than the case I made in the book–primarily because the book was a revision of a dissertation. It’s not an easy book to read. The paper I have written for this conference is (I hope) much clearer and more compelling.

          Alan Davis

          “You apparently fail to see that Adam’s sin brought universal, corporate consequences despite one’s spiritual condition, but did not impute individual guilt to anyone but himself.”
          This statement appears to be a moot point, Adam sinned and everyone suffers and dies as a result of it. Appears that despite all protests otherwise, others still suffer as a result of Adams sin, period. If one wants to assign guilt to Adam…ok…however everyone suffers the penalty. The debate of the guilt in the reality of life is almost (I said almost hypothetical) because irregardless ALL suffer the results of Adams sin.
          It’s like saying, “Alan and Norm were driving down the road and Alan was speeding and driving recklessly and wrecked, killing both Alan and Norm. Both are dead. Mind you I know this is a real simplification of a deep matter.
          On another note I appreciate Dr. Harwoods approach and demeanor.

            Norm Miller

            I’m now having second thoughts about going to lunch with Dr. Harwood today unless I insist on driving. — Norm

            Alan Davis

            Norm,

            Maybe that wasn’t the best illustration. I promise i do not drive that way. Anymore.

            Johnathan Pritchett

            Not moot at all for four reasons.

            1. What do the Scriptures teach in light of our claims.

            2. What does the issue mean in light of God’s justice? (note the concerns, albeit from different angles, both Calvinists and Traditionalists have on this…none of which are moot or invalid as discussion-worthy concerns, I think anyway…)

            3. How do we understand the results, however one shakes out the guilt and justice issue, in forming a theodicy?

            4. How do we relate our conclusions to the universal need for salvation, and other matters of theology?

            Alan Davis

            Hey Jonathan,

            What happened to your picture with the SM tee?
            Down through the years there we as SB have batted this back and forth somewhat yes. Our current BFM does say what it says, however other BFM have implied the guilt, but the current one seems not to. However (once again on my part) and I know i will be going against the grain on this thread, the result of Adams sin is that ALL are separated from God’s holiness (I would conclude because of sin) thus under condemnation and stand in need of the Savior Jesus Christ.

            Obviously we who were not even alive at the time of Adams sin are not directly guilty of his actual transgression but all of us suffer the result of that including the fallen state. Thus “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”. The result of which is God’s wrath and condemnation and spiritual death, “dead in our trespasses and sin”

            Of course I am not debating the issue with this info. probably just stating well known facts. My personal scriptural take is that in some way we are truly born as sinners in need of the sacrifice of Christ.

            Have a good one Jonathan.

            Alan

              Norm Miller

              Alan:
              Specifically at issue is the spiritual condition of infants. That’s the topic.
              As for your convictions, where do babies who die go, heaven or hell? — Norm

            Alan Davis

            Hey norm,

            Now see I thought I would catch you out to Lunch with Dr. Harwood. I just can’t catch a break…

            I know that you are not asking this in a “loaded” sense but many times this is an emotionally loaded question. No one wants to think of a baby in hell (me included!). But first from scripture in previous studies I would conclude that there are no baby’s in hell nor heaven. They are there in a similar glorified state as adults who are there not as babies. Contrary to emotional pictures painted at times (and I have heard them at Baptist funerals of children) that there is a nursery in heaven there probably is not. When thought of in thie right perspective (the right perspective as I see Scripture, granted) this takes some of the emotional and sentimental load off the question.

            However all that said, I have been at three places in my life as a believer with these thoughts. First I had a conclusion that all baby’s go to heaven because they are innocent period. This was based more on emotion than anything with a small amount of Scripture.

            After a few years as a Christian and studying I developed a new thought process as I saw Scripture, that the elect babies by God’s grace and through the sacrifice of Christ would go to heaven the non-elect would go to hell (that just hurts to type) I was sure that the first conclusion I had was wrong but was at times uncomfortable with this one as can be seen.

            I would say now (the last 14-15 years) my Scriptural thought process and studies have led me to the idea that all babies who die go to heaven by God’s grace through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. I still think they stand in need of the sacrifice of Christ as they too are sinners by default of the effects of sinful man-kind beginning with Adam.

            Now this is way simplified for sake of space but I am being transparent with the process the Lord has brought me through.

            I am still uncomfortable at times with particular matters in this and still have some unanswered questions that I have batted about with other men called to preach the gospel.

            Humbly Submitted (and I mean that especially on this subject)

            Alan

              Norm Miller

              Thx for your tenor, Alan. Emotionally loaded question, for sure, but not meant to entrap.
              I know that when I cite King David’s reference to his pronouncement of his seeing again his child who died (the product of his adultery w/Bathsheeba), some may say I am appealing to Covenantal theology. Nope. I simply see that child as innocent of any sin, and therefore will not be in hell, but will be in heaven. I think David’s pronouncement, which is inspired holy scripture, provides one example for Dr. Harwood’s case. — Norm

            Alan Davis

            Norm,

            That particular Scripture is one I had in mind also Though I may see the baby as in need of Christ’s work because they are sinners never the less they receive this by God’s grace through the work of Christ because of their inability to mentally respond to the gospel with faith as I would see mentally handicapped individuals who can not respond to the light of Jesus Christ. I believe much of this is cloaked in those deep mysteries of God. I am still, after reading some of Dr Harwoods work and others with other takes, uncomfortable with the age of accountability thing but that may be just a personal thing.

            In reading a little a few years ago on this I guess I fall into a similar camp with John Mac. on this somewhat. that might not be to popular here at times but that’s where I am.
            “Will not the judge of all the earth do what is right?”

            Thanks for the interaction, I gotta get to work on some studies.

            Alan

            Johnathan Pritchett

            Hey Alan,

            I don’t know how to get my picture to show up in the comments streams.

            On the other hand, Norm has asked that I soon provide another picture. I don’t think he likes my $5.00 Superman shirt I got from Walmart. :)

            Anyway, I understand your position. We just disagree with it at certain points. No harm no foul in that.

            Adam Harwood

            Alan,

            Thanks for your note. I agree with you that in this way I am addressing a question which does not matter: Adam sinned, we suffer, and Jesus saves. On those points, all Southern Baptists are (or should be) in agreement.

            Even so, it would seem helpful if more-Calvinistic brothers in the SBC clarified their view: Do they regard a denial of inherited guilt to be permissible according to the Bible and the BFM?

            The reason this matters is that some Calvinistic brothers (both inside and outside the SBC) regard such a view to be unorthodox. Also, the SBTS Faculty Exposition of the BFM explains that all people inherit the guilt of Adam’s sin. But that view cannot be found in the BFM. Will SBTS alter their document? Will SB’s amend the BFM?

            I’m hoping these issues can be clarified.

            If you are able to attend the conference, please introduce yourself. I’d love the chance to meet you.

            In Him,
            Adam

          rhutchin

          “You apparently fail to see that Adam’s sin brought universal, corporate consequences despite one’s spiritual condition, but did not impute individual guilt to anyone but himself.”

          That’s true. I don’t see how one can develop a logical argument to support that position. Maybe Dr. Harwood can develop that argument and then lay it out so everyone can see how it works.

          You and Pritchard raise a lot of nice issues and make statements that would be nice to see in print with the logical arguments supporting them spelled out.

            Johnathan Pritchett

            P R I T C H E T T

            Ahem, I have argued and spelled this at length elsewhere on this blog site. I wish I could keep up with what I post where.

            I went round and round on this several times, exhaustively backing it up with logical and Biblical reasoning from the texts themselves. You are free to look at that up.

            In any case, if Norm shares Dr. Harwood’s view, then his view and my view are somewhat different because Dr. Harwood and I do not have the exact same view on this (though close in some ways).

          Tommy

          “You apparently fail to see that Adam’s sin brought universal, corporate consequences despite one’s spiritual condition, but did not impute individual guilt to anyone but himself.”

          Norm, Death is not a “consequence” to sin, but is the divine penalty for sin. See Romans 6:23, death is a wage of sin; it is a penalty. I do not claim to know where babies go when they die, but I can certainly trust that God is just and whichever He decides is according to His will, who am I to question Him. I am not willing to manipulate/mutilate the Bible so I can feel better about dead babies.

            Norm Miller

            “Consequence” is a general term; “divine penalty” is more specific. Semantics.
            My position isn’t so I can feel better about innocents not going to hell; it’s about a proper understanding of scripture.
            David questioned God, as did others in the Bible. I think that is not a sin or even the slightest problem to question God if one is seeking answers from our Lord and one’s motives are right.
            “Who are we that God is mindful of us?”
            BTW: Tom, are you a Southern Baptist?
            — Norm

              Tommy

              “Consequence” is a general term; “divine penalty” is more specific. Semantics.
              My position isn’t so I can feel better about innocents not going to hell; it’s about a proper understanding of scripture.”

              Should we not want to be specific when having a conversation about the Bible? After all we are talking about whether or not children are born sinful. There are actually two problems with the argument that children do not inherit sin.

              1) If children are in fact innocent from birth until they sin, Christ’s death would not have been for them. They would have entered into Heaven based on their own innocence not on the work of Christ on the cross.

              2) Death is the penalty for sin. Hypothetically, if one is without sin there is no death. That is why Christ’s sacrifice on the cross was so significant. He is the only One without sin and He died. He became sin for us.

              Don’t you see, man is not a sinner because he sins, he sins because he is a sinner.
              Romans 5:12-14 “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned. For until the Law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over those who had not sinned in the likeness of the offense of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come.”

              For all those years between Adam and Moses numerous people died. They died because of sin, in fact the Bible says that they all sinned even though they had not broken God’s law in the same manner as Adam. God had not yet given the Law to Moses, so they were not guilty of breaking that Law, but they were sinners simply because of Adam’s sin.

              There is plenty of Scriptural support that sin is passed on through Adam’s original sin. Aside from the Scriptures mentioned above, there are also several others.

              Romans 5:19; “For as through the one man’s disobedience the many were MADE SINNERS, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous.”

              Ps 51:5; “Behold I was brought FORTH in iniquity, and in sin my mother CONCEIVED me.”

              Ps 58:3 “The wicked are estranged from the WOMB these who speak lies go astray from BIRTH.”

              Ge 8:21 “The Lord smelled the soothing aroma; and the Lord aid to Himself, ‘I will never again curse the ground on account of man, for the intent of man’s heart is evil from his YOUTH, and I will never again destroy every living thing as I have done.

              To answer your question, yes I am a Southern Baptist.

            Johnathan Pritchett

            “Death is not a “consequence” to sin, but is the divine penalty for sin. See Romans 6:23, death is a wage of sin; it is a penalty.”

            Indeed, but in terms of physical death, it is not necessarily the only cause of it. That is an unsubstantiated premise based on an assumption that death has only one cause, and even one meaning. This is no different than Ross’ inability to deliver the goods on below.

            “I do not claim to know where babies go when they die, but I can certainly trust that God is just and whichever He decides is according to His will, who am I to question Him. I am not willing to manipulate/mutilate the Bible so I can feel better about dead babies.”

            Ah, such pious platitude. Scores no points here though. Save it for the soapbox.

            No one is manipulating the Scriptures. On the contrary, we reason from them.

            Anyway, it would seem odd that if God elects dead fetuses and babies and damns them at or near the same ratios that we witness among the living throughout history, then Yahweh is the most efficient practitioner of Molech worship in the cosmos.

            Thankfully, God condemns such behavior (Lev. 20:2)

            “Should we not want to be specific when having a conversation about the Bible?”

            Indeed. Feel free to try and refute what Ross could not down below.

            “After all we are talking about whether or not children are born sinful.”

            Actually, no we aren’t. That has never been the issue. What the issue is whether or not they are sinners under condemnation. Saying they are “sinful” isn’t specific enough, and could mean a lot of things. Note the discussion of judgement based on natures versus thoughts, words, and deeds below.

            “There are actually two problems with the argument that children do not inherit sin.

            1) If children are in fact innocent from birth until they sin, Christ’s death would not have been for them.”

            Simply repeating the same unsubstantiated premises of Ross doesn’t make the premises sound.

            “They would have entered into Heaven based on their own innocence not on the work of Christ on the cross.”

            Faulty dilemma. This has been addressed below as well. The redemptive work of Christ is cosmic, not simply humanistic. Christ died for sinners, indeed. It does not follow from this that Christ ONLY died for sinners. He died to redeem creation, and creation includes fetuses, infants, mentally handicapped, etc. that while under the twin ruling powers of sin and death (what Rom. 5 is actually talking about), it does not follow that they are law-breakers under condemnation simply by being vulnerable to physical death in the fallen cosmos being conceived under those reigning powers.

            “2) Death is the penalty for sin.”

            Yes. But again, it does not follow that physical death is only caused by personal sin(s).

            “Hypothetically, if one is without sin there is no death.”

            Another unsubstantiated premise. If it were logically possible for someone other than Christ to live sinless, which is by no means even a logically possibility, they would still be a son of Adam, and in Adam, all die (1 Cor. 15:22). In no Bible verse anywhere does it ever say “in Adam, all sin”…except for the unlearned who haven’t been told yet (which is odd in this day and age) that Augustine muffed on Jerome’s Latin. The Greek, however, offers no such statement at all.

            “That is why Christ’s sacrifice on the cross was so significant. He is the only One without sin and He died. He became sin for us.”

            Well, technically sin bearer/offering/aggregate, but yes. Only Jesus could be the spotless lamb. What this has to do with the topic at hand is about as much as the price of tea in China though.

            “Don’t you see, man is not a sinner because he sins, he sins because he is a sinner.”

            Unsubstantiated premise and popular tossed about phrase…however, it is not an argument.

            “Romans 5:12-14 “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned. For until the Law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over those who had not sinned in the likeness of the offense of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come.”

            “For all those years between Adam and Moses numerous people died. They died because of sin, in fact the Bible says that they all sinned even though they had not broken God’s law in the same manner as Adam. God had not yet given the Law to Moses, so they were not guilty of breaking that Law, but they were sinners simply because of Adam’s sin.”

            That is not what it says. I exegete this below, and the record of Genesis 4-the giving of the Law demonstrates the increasingly horrific sinful actions of the human race. Heck, by Genesis 6-7, God was fed up with human being and flooded the Earth for crying out loud. To say “simply because of Adam’s sin” is against the testimony of Scripture. There was plenty of their own sins involved.

            “There is plenty of Scriptural support that sin is passed on through Adam’s original sin. Aside from the Scriptures mentioned above, there are also several others.

            Romans 5:19; “For as through the one man’s disobedience the many were MADE SINNERS, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous.”

            Ps 51:5; “Behold I was brought FORTH in iniquity, and in sin my mother CONCEIVED me.”

            Ps 58:3 “The wicked are estranged from the WOMB these who speak lies go astray from BIRTH.”

            Ge 8:21 “The Lord smelled the soothing aroma; and the Lord aid to Himself, ‘I will never again curse the ground on account of man, for the intent of man’s heart is evil from his YOUTH, and I will never again destroy every living thing as I have done.

            To answer your question, yes I am a Southern Baptist.”

            Those passages state what is the case. Those passages say nothing about how it came to be the case. Your unsubstantiated premises beg the question and therefore is rejected out of hand as an argument.

            The Psalms do you no good here (see below on that as well).

            I engage Romans 5 below (if you take Scripture seriously, and take 5:19 to be causative, then you just affirmed universalism…it simply says THAT Adam’s action did something, it does not say HOW Adam’s action did something, but we know from elsewhere and from the judgment passages, no one is condemned except for their own sins, i.e. thoughts, words, and deeds.), and Genesis says nothing about infants being evil. The best explanation Romans 5 gives us is in 5:21. Sin reigns in death. Sin and death in the whole passage are (metaphorically) ruling powers.

            Since you are a Southern Baptist, go read Thomas Schreiners commentary on Romans 5:12-21

            Fonts do not show up on this blog, but the word for youth in Genesis 8:21 doesn’t at all refer to infants, fetuses, etc.

            Johnathan Pritchett

            Apologies Tommy, I misread your interpretation of Romans 5:11-14 and thought you claimed that they died because of Adam’s sin only, and didn’t see where you included the phrase “that they all sinned”

            I didn’t see that and was thinking you had said they died from Adam’s sin and were somehow only sinners because of Adam and not also their own personal sins.

            Again, apologies. There is no edit button here…or I would have modified my response.

            Also, you may want to look below for my take on this passage and its relation to Romans 2:12a.

            The whole discussion of imputation, guilt, and all that is included as well.

            Anyway, the main point is that infants are not in view in these passages at all (which even Thomas Schreiner acknowledges in his Romans commentary).

            Referring back to my other arguments on judgement passages, Romans 1, etc. you can find below, as well as the distinctions between.causes of physical death and how to understand sin and death as ruling powers. Romans 5:11-14 provides no basis to assume that the classes under discussion are sinners because of Adam’s sin alone makes them so, even if they die prior to being able to commit any thoughts, words, or deeds that are sins.

            The Baptist Faith and Message rejects this notion of yours as well, when it says “as soon as they are capable of moral action, they become transgressors and are under condemnation.” There is no reason to suppose those classes (fetuses, infants, etc.) incapable of moral action are in either Paul’s view in the passage (again, see the development of his argument from Romans 1-5), or that God holds them as such when those classes have committed no personal sins for which to judge them.

        wingedfooted1

        Romans 7:8-11…..
        But sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, produced in me every kind of covetous desire. For apart from law, sin is dead. Once I was alive apart from law; but when the commandment came, sin sprang to life and I died. I found that the very commandment that was intended to bring life actually brought death. For sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, deceived me, and through the commandment put me to death.

        In what way did Paul “die” after he sinned?

        2 Corinthians 3:6-8….
        He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant—not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. Now if the ministry that brought death, which was engraved in letters on stone, came with glory, so that the Israelites could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of its glory, fading though it was, will not the ministry of the Spirit be even more glorious?

        How can the Letter/Law kill that which is already dead?

        James 1:13-15….
        Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. But EACH ONE is tempted when HE is drawn away by HIS OWN desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.

        Seems pretty simple to me.

          Johnathan Pritchett

          Stop it man! You are making too much Biblical sense on this issue.

          How dare you use the Bible in the face of a cherry-picked notion from the Augustinian tradition used by the Reformers. :)

            wingedfooted1

            And the Lord God said, “The man has now become like one of us, totally depraved and dead, or unresponsive, to any spiritual truth.”

            Lydia

            “And the Lord God said, “The man has now become like one of us, totally depraved and dead, or unresponsive, to any spiritual truth.”

            Ha. Yes, one would expect to see that declared, wouldn’t they?

            rhutchin

            And the Lord God said, “The man has now become like one of us, totally depraved and dead, or unresponsive, to any spiritual truth.”

            By default then we conclude that Adam was still perfect and without sin? Perhaps, you have left something out of your analysis.

            Johnathan Pritchett

            I think what he meant was this:

            “And the Lord God said, “The man has now become like one of us, totally depraved and dead, or unresponsive, to any spiritual truth.”

            – said no Bible verse in Genesis 3 ever.

            Of course Adam had sinned after “the Fall”, but Adam was never “perfect”. That ONLY properly belongs to the divine.

            wingedfooted1

            rhutchin,

            I see you have failed to interact with the 3 portions of scripture I posted earlier.

            So the questions still stand.

            In what way did Paul “die” after he sinned?

            How can the Letter/Law kill that which is already dead?

            What did James mean when he said….. “But EACH ONE is tempted when HE is drawn away by HIS OWN desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death”?

    Adam Harwood

    rhutchin,
    Thanks for your note. I hope to address many of your questions but will probably be unable to untangle all of the theological knots. My paper should be available in published form by date of the conference. When it becomes available, I’ll do my best to spread the word. If you attend the conference, please introduce yourself. I’d love to meet you.
    In Him,
    Adam

Bill Mac

I am a Calvinist who is not convinced of inherited guilt. I appreciate the tone of this interview very much. I don’t know if this muddies the waters or not, but I would point out that Adam and Eve were not necessarily created immortal. The tree of life in the garden granted immortality, and they were driven out before they could eat of it.

    Max

    Bill Mac – Good point about the “Tree of Life.” There were indeed two trees in the garden. Lord knows the church has been eating from the “Tree of Knowledge” too long – fruit from that tree has nurtured countless theological debates re: teachings and traditions of men. When the SBC dust settles, may we rest in the shade of the Tree of Life – Christ prepared the way to eat from that one. Two trees, two Adams, two ways … Lord Jesus, help us to find our way again.

    Adam Harwood

    Bill,

    Thanks for your note. I appreciate you sharing your view on this matter. I find it fascinating that some Calvinists deny (or doubt) inherited guilt but some non-Calvinists embrace inherited guilt.

    That is consistent with the notion that many of the people engaged in this discussion are attempting construct a biblical answer to these questions–even if the answer happens to violate their present systematic-theological framework.

    If you attend the conference, please say hello. I’d love to meet you. Blessings.

    In Him,

    Adam

danielmcgaha

Where can I find the document that the two seminary presidents signed? I would very much like to read it myself.

    Norm Miller

    Daniel: The “Traditional Statement” you seek may be found by clicking on the month of May 2012 under the achive tab above. — Norm

      danielmcgaha

      I really would like to see who signed it and when. It’s intriguing

        Lydia

        Daniel, Some of us did not sign it because we do not sign anything like a creed or statement. And that is one of the problems with the Trads. They are more like herding cats as independent thinkers and do not exactly find following man a good thing so they tend not to rally around a personality like the YRR do with Mohler or Piper. Makes it harder really. But I think it is a good thing.

        However, I agree with the statement. But since I am a nobody, it does not matter. I am sure you are looking for notables :o)

Chris

If Harwood thinks hypothetically that he should be fired and his students viewed with suspicion, if they held the unbiblical view, does he believe in the real world that Southern Seminary professors and students should be fired since he is convinced that they actually do hold an unbiblical view?

    Adam Harwood

    Chris,

    Thanks for your comment. I do not think any Southern Seminary professor should be fired. I do think that all seminary professors should teach according to and not contrary to the BFM. To my knowledge, every SBC Seminary President requires this of his faculty.

    I used the word “unbiblical” after using the word “semi-Pelagian.” Perhaps I was unclear. I was attempting to allow for different historical and theological views which have been articulated in the SBC blogs regarding semi-Pelagianism. Some people regard it to be a heretical viewpoint but others consider it to be an error which does not rise to the level of heresy. My point was to avoid getting side-tracked into that discussion. By using the word “unbiblical,” my intention was to settle on a term on which all sides could agree to reject. We all want our theology professors to advocate for views which are consistent with the Bible.

    To clarify: My institution requires all of our full-time faculty to teach according to and not contrary to the BFM. If I teach semi-Pelagianism, then I should be fired.

    If you attend the John 3:16 Conference, please introduce yourself. I would love the chance to meet you.

    In Him,
    Adam

Norm Miller

The comment insinuating that Dr. Mohler did not need to retract his statement Re: semi-Pelagianism because it was true has been removed, and its author has been put in temporary moderation. — Norm

Matt

Just for kicks, let’s make a list of everyone in church history who’s denied legal guilt from Adam’s sin …

Lydia

“Just for kicks, let’s make a list of everyone in church history who’s denied legal guilt from Adam’s sin …”

And then another list of everyone in church history who believed it was biblical for them to punish people for disagreeing with them about God. Then we can compare lists and see who is on both.

    Norm Miller

    Touche, Lydia. However, isn’t punish a soft word for what really happened, like, murder? — Norm

Matt

Well played, Norm. I’m sure you’re getting paid by SBC constituents to sit around at your college and monitor this comment thread all day.

And you can make the other list. I don’t care.

So, for intellectual honesty’s sake, here it goes again: “Just for kicks, let’s make a list of everyone in church history who’s denied legal guilt from Adam’s sin …”

Perhaps I should direct the question to someone else: Dr Harwood, can you reference several pastors and theologians in church history who’ve rejected that Adam’s sin is legally imputed to humanity? Who’d show up on that list?

    Norm Miller

    To what SBC constituents do you refer, Matt? And “sit around”? That intimates some level of leisure. I worked 12 hours on my job yesterday. True, I sit most of that time, but it’s at my desk.
    And isn’t turn-about fair play? Lydia has as much right to ask you to make a list as you do asking Dr. Harwood. When will we see your list? As for Dr. Harwood, he will have to answer whether he would make a list. However, I am sure he has one since he stated in the interview he would draw from church history on the matter at hand. — Norm
    P.S. Who is paying you while you are on the blogs?

    Johnathan Pritchett

    Dr. Harwood’s book contains a historical survey of church history. Why not buy it? Or, at least glean what you can from the Google books or Amazon’s preview.

    What happened to Christians doing research?

    I think people take for granted Dr. Harwood’s kindness and willingness to engage on this forum. His presence here is no excuse for laziness. Read his book and then ask questions within that frame of reference. Stop asking him to rewrite it here, for you all, for free. It is disrespectful on the one hand, and demonstrates a lack of genuine interest in discussing the matter with him on the other.

    Want to know what he says? Read his book first.

      Matt

      Don’t know if you’re addressing me or not, Jonathan. I just asked a question related to the post. Who in the history of the church held the same position that denied Adam’s guilt is past on to his descendants? I have no problem buying the book, but it’s a legitimate question. I understand I’m not welcome on here. What happened to Christians doing research? Well, I do what I can but I asked a question that I assume Dr. Harwood would know. He might say tomorrow. He might never say. No one asked him to rewrite his book. My question pertained directly to his post.

        Adam Harwood

        Matt,

        Thanks for your note–and for your persistence in asking the same question until you get an answer.

        As promised in the Q&A, I do plan in my presentation to demonstrate that several pastors and theologians throughout church history have denied that all people inherit the guilt of Adam. I prefer to hold my supporting evidence for 4 more weeks. If I lay out my argument on this blog, then people might skip my presentation. ;-)

        If you attend the John 3:16 Conference, then please find me and say hello. I would love to meet you.

        In Him,
        Adam

          Matt

          I hope my comment isn’t deleted again.

          Thank you for replying, Dr Harwood.

          This is what I’ve discovered from the Wikipedia article on original sin: “The Catholic Church … explicitly denies that we inherit guilt from anyone, maintaining that instead we inherit our fallen nature. In this it differs from the Calvinism/Protestant position that each person actually inherits Adam’s guilt, and teaches instead that “original sin does not have the character of a personal fault in any of Adam’s descendants … but the consequences for nature, weakened and inclined to evil, persist in man”.[49] “In other words, human beings do not bear any ‘original guilt’ from Adam and Eve’s particular sin.” … “In other words, human beings do not bear any “original guilt” from Adam’s particular sin, which is his alone. The prevailing view, also held in Eastern Orthodoxy, is that human beings bear no guilt for the sin of Adam.”

          And concerning the Eastern Orthodox Church: “In the Orthodox Christian understanding, they explicitly deny that mankind inherited guilt from anyone. Rather, they maintain that we inherit our fallen nature. While humanity does bear the consequences of the original, or first, sin, humanity does not bear the personal guilt associated with this sin. Adam and Eve are guilty of their willful action; we bear the consequences, chief of which is death.” …

            Lydia

            Matt, I agree with my homosexual neighbor that taxes are too high and the government spends too much. That does not mean I am on his team in other areas of his belief system.

            Is this what passes for critical thinking these days? Have you ever wondered why Catholics baptize infants but we do not….yet Calvin did, too? (If you did not present your child for baptism the magistrates came looking for you!)

volfan007

Dr. Harwood, thanks for another good post, which makes us all think a little more about God, and His heart and mind to save sinners.

I wish I could attend the John 3:16 Conference, but I cannot. I look forward to what comes out of it, though. May the Lord give everyone in attendance a time of refreshing, and a renewed passion to win the lost.

Something that I think some people cant understand, or wont understand…I dont know which….is that Bible Believing, SB’s all believe that man fell with Adam …inherited his fallen, sin nature….live in a fallen world….live with the consequences of Adam’s sin. But, we just dont believe that people will pay for the sins of Adam…we’ll pay for our own sins, which is taught thru out the Bible. And, we dont believe that infants, nor the mentally handicapped, will suffer in Hell, because they’re condemned, because of Adam’s sin….that just because we dont believe that man inherits Adam’s guilt, doesnt mean that we dont believe that man is sinful, and fallen…..does it seem this way to yall?

David

    Norm Miller

    Agreed, Volfan. I have discovered again today that, it doesn’t matter how clearly or how often one attempts to articulate the difference and significance of corporate universal consequences of the Fall and the responsibility individuals have for their own sins. It seems that some, not all, people cup their hands over their ears and start singing, “La,la,la,la,la,” instead of listening with an intent of at least trying to understand. — Norm

      Matt

      Johnathan Pritchett @ 9:33am on 2/13/13:
      “Actually, the context [in Ephesians] (and ancient Neareastern people in general) are collectivist peoples. They do not focus on the individual as individual, but seek personal identity within the corporate group.”

      Individual responsibility in some passages and collectivist representation in others?

        Johnathan Pritchett

        Nope. Norm cited “corporate universal consequences”.

        For the millionth time, corporate collectivism doesn’t exclude individuals any more then individualism excludes corporate bodies.

        In any case, the issue here is guilt. The Bible teaches that God holds individuals guilty for their own sins, but also teaches that the consequences are visited upon groups for generations and generations.

        In collectivist cultures, when a person commits a crime, only that person is charged guilty (in the judicial sense). However, that person’s whole family or kingroup bears the shame and reproach for the action of the individual in the community (not emotional guilt) and suffer the consequences that result from that.

        However, the family or kingroup are not guilty of the individual’s crime in the judicial sense, nor do they all receive or participate in the punishment of the crime itself…unless they commit crimes of their own, individually.

        Likewise, humanity receives the consequences of Adam’s sin, but we do not receive the punishment until we commit a crime ourselves. As such, we affirm in the BF&M 2000 that “as soon as they are capable of moral action, they become transgressors and are under condemnation.”

          Matt

          And how is your position different from Arminianism?

            Johnathan Pritchett

            Like Calvinism, Arminianism is a broad spectrum. I am sure there are points of agreement with some Arminian theologies. It would depend on the Arminianism and the Arminian where I differ or agree.

volfan007

Matt,

Just for kicks, why dont we make a list of all the past theologians, who believed in infant baptism? Let’s also make a list of all the past pastors and theologians, who believe that a person can lose thier salvation? Let’s also make a list of all the past pastors and theologians, who believed that dancing was a sin?

What good would this do? What’s the point?

The best thing we could do is to search the Scriptures…what do they say? Why see what Augustine said, when we can see what God said?

David

    Matt

    What’s the point, David? Well, I think we all know who’d show up on the list of pastors & theologians who deny that who’ve rejected that Adam’s sin is legally imputed to humanity? Who’d show up on that list?

      volfan007

      Matt,

      Just because a lot of people believe something doesnt make it right. A whole crowd that believes in inherited guilt, also believes in infant baptism. Does that make infant baptism right, as well?

      My Momma taught me to not jump off a bridge, just because everyone else is doing it.

      David

        Matt

        I can’t say I don’t disagree with your logic.

        I just asked a question that’s relevant to this discussion: can we reference several pastors and theologians in church history who’ve rejected that Adam’s sin is legally imputed to humanity? Who’d show up on that list?

Matt

Way to get snarky, Norm! I’ve got breaks on my job, which isn’t in a church. I’m sure Truitt’s looking out for you.

So, Norm, any thoughts on who you’d think would be on a list of who in church history denies that Adam’s sin has been imputed to humanity?

    Norm Miller

    Snarky? It’s not fair for me to ask you about who pays you when you made a similar inference regarding my job?
    I will answer your questions, Matt, when you answer mine. You left some unanswered.
    I’m sure Southern Seminary was looking out for Dr. Mohler when he intimated that others were apparenty semi-Pelagian.
    If the shoe fits….. — Norm

John H. Gregory.

I am slightly confused. Brother Matt you say “that Adam’s sin is legally imputed to humanity?”.
I think that we all agree that it was Adam’s sin that was imputed. Do you mean Adam’s sin or
Adam”s guilt was what was imputed, or both Adam’s sin & guilt?
God bless,
John G.

    Matt

    Guilt, but essentially both. Good catch.

    Johnathan Pritchett

    For the record, I do not believe Adam’s sin was imputed. Imputation is a technical term.

    If we were to use that term, loosely I might add, we should say that the consequences of Adam’s sin is “imputed” (in quotes, not imputed) to his posterity.

    Romans 2:12 and 5:13 demonstrate that imputation need not occur for people to die or perish for sin. Sin only needs to be committed for people to perish.

    As such, it appears as though imputation is not a necessary condition for people to die and perish for their sin(s) according to Scripture.

      Matt

      And who else in church history denies what you do?

        Johnathan Pritchett

        I don’t know. I don’t get in to much historical theology. It isn’t a particular area of interest of mine. If I had to guess, it would be more of the Eastern Fathers than the Western Fathers (except for some prior to Augustine perhaps)…given what I gather from Dr. Harwood’s book, which is, by the way, subtitled “A Biblical-Historical Survey and Systematic Proposal.”

        A las, I am still a bit young though. Perhaps I would delve into it further if my particular areas of interest or research ever required it, or if the interest should surface at some later point.

volfan007

Matt,

Okay, let’s see….let’s just say that there’s a long list of those who believe in inherited guilt…from Augustine to the Reformers to some, modern day pastors and theologians. Does that make them right?

David

volfan007

Matt,
same difference….

David

    Matt

    Obviously there is a difference otherwise Dr Harwood wouldn’t have spent the time writing his book and this blog. There are some interesting people who deny the same thing he does.

      Johnathan Pritchett

      So you already have a list then?

    Norm Miller

    Volfan: You forgot to bring along your Jello nails. — Norm

Ron F. Hale

Dr. Harwood,
I hope that I will be able to attend the conference in person to hear your presentation. If not, I will look forward to the tapes and /or essay, or book. Thank you for contending for your position in a way that invites discussion, openness, and straightforward dialogue. Blessings!

    Adam Harwood

    Ron,
    Thanks for your encouragement and blessings. I truly appreciate it.
    In Him,
    Adam

Rick Patrick

Adam,

What an outstanding interview. As usual, both your tone and your observations are exemplary. How I wish I could be present at the conference, but I am leading a Mission Team in Mexico that week. I’ll be sure to read the paper after the fact.

Thanks again for your contribution in Southern Baptist life, reminding our convention that the affirmation of an inherited sinful nature combined with a denial of inherited Adamic guilt is a position fully consistent with the Baptist Faith and Message 2000.

    Adam Harwood

    Rick,

    Declaring the Gospel to people while leading a mission trip–I can’t think of a better reason to miss a theology conference.

    I look forward to hearing how God works in and through your efforts. Thanks for your words of encouragement regarding my upcoming presentation.

    In Him,
    Adam

Johnathan Pritchett

I think this brings something to light about the BF&M though. Lots of positions can be fully consistent with the wording of the statement, which only reads, “inherit a nature and an environment inclined toward sin.”

I do wonder when the BF&M is revised again if there will be a push for it to be changed to include inherited guilt.

Chris Twilley

History helps us so much. Why don’t we just follow the examples of Benjamin Keach, Jonathan Edwards, Charles Spurgeon and George Whitfield. They were fervently evangelistic and held strongly to the “Doctrines of Grace.” I’m not going to be one to say that these brothers were wrong in their interpretations of Scripture. Let’s preach the Gospel to every creature, knowing that only God can save (if He doesn’t, then they aren’t). Before the advent of the “Invitational System” these brothers preached the Gospel and left the results to God. Since I have followed this line of thought, it has been my joy to preach the Gospel to anyone who will listen and I’ve seen many that God has saved. I’m preaching through the book of Romans now, verse by verse. Right now we are in chapter 6 but when we get to chapters 8,9 and 10, I’m going to make the point that in those chapters we see God’s Sovereignty and Man’s responsibility side by side on the page. I will preach both texts with boldness and passion, not compromising either one. I love Spurgeons’ quote when asked how he reconciled Sovereignty and responsibility. He said, “I don’t have to reconcile friends.” The resurgence continues and will continue because expository preaching is making a comeback. Praying for Revival and Reformation in the SBC.

    Johnathan Pritchett

    I have no problem saying those gentlemen were wrong in some of their theology. They weren’t infallible, and are demonstrably wrong in several areas. Such is natural to be the case.

    At its best, Reformed theology is just an interesting, highly contextualized, post-Medieval, Western theology for protesting fair-skinned Europeans. It has its own questions, concerns, thought categories, interpretive grids, and hermeneutics imposed on the text. It isn’t what I would consider acontextual, ahistorical theological truth in the Biblical sense though. At its best, it isn’t less than an interesting, highly contextualized, post-Medieval, Western theology for protesting fair-skinned Europeans, but it certainly isn’t more than that. At least, in my opinion anyway, and in the opinion of many others.

    From all we know now of the Ancient Near East and Second Temple Judaism, and the interests, concerns, philosophical thought categories, interpretive grids (the NT use of the OT) and hermeneutics, and so forth of the Biblical authors, I do not believe Reformed theology is tenable from top to bottom. Much of it doesn’t make sense in light of the paradigm and context in which the OT and NT texts were written, or the beliefs of the theological opponents of the orthodox faith the Church was in the first two centuries (Gnostics, Essenes, Pharisees, Epicureans, etc.) for that matter either

    Reformed theology contains some Biblical truth, but let us not mistake that for possessing Biblical truth in total. Even the various liberation theologies developed in the 20th century contains some Biblical truth…

    Also, when I was a pastor, I preached book by book, verse by verse, and I am not a Calvinist.

    So…I don’t know what you are saying about following their examples, nor do I get tossing in something about the “invitational system” or whatever. Wesley saw a lot of conversions too, why would you not include him, but include his friend Whitfield? Is it because he was not a Calvinist?

    Norm Miller

    Those who wrought the Conservative Resurgence were biblical expositors. So to say that “expository preaching is making a comeback” is inaccurate. And, whoever says that the CR ushered in the new emphasis on Calvinsm also makes a fallacious statement. Those who wrought the CR were not only expositors, they were also inerrantists.
    But one thing they were not? Calvinists!
    So, let no one claim, as some now do, that inerrancy necessarily leads to Calvinism. If that were true, then the inerrantist expositors who wrought the CR would’ve been Calvinists back then, but they were not. — Norm

Chris Twilley

Jonathan,
Did you preach through Romans? or Ephesians?
We can include Wesley. He also did not give a “walk to the front” invitation. I included the invitational system in this discussion because it is a modern invention that I am convinced comes from “bad theology.” With the “sinners prayer” motions that we have seen and the arguments that brothers give in their opposition of the resurgence of the “Doctrines of Grace”, it is clear to me that the walk to the front invitation (“come up here and receive Christ”, “If you need to be saved, come to the front”) is the sacred cow that they want to hold on to. Wesley would record in his journals “Preached the Gospel to hundreds, only the Lord knows how many were saved.” He didn’t try to play Holy Spirit by trying to coach people in the sinners prayer (as if the Holy Spirit needed help in the conversion of a Lost soul). Like I said our job is to preach the Gospel, The Lord does the saving. I don’t mean that Spurgeon, Keach, Edwards or Whitfield were right in all of their interpretations of Scripture, but they were right when it comes to the “Doctrines of Grace” and the clear proclamation of the Gospel. They nailed it and we would do well to follow their example. I’m just saying when someone rejects the Doctrines of Grace, they are saying that these men were wrong in their holding fast to these doctrines, something that I believe is arrogant (as if we just figured these doctrines out the last few years in the modern era- our modern spins are part of the problem). The resurgence in the ‘Doctrines of Grace’ is putting a spot light on the errors of decisionism and easy-belivism, this is partly why there is such opposition to them. I’ve heard Jerry Vines preach many times and read his blogs and with all due respect, I know that is what he is fighting against. The Gospel is enough, we don’t have to “help it” with our “add-ons” at the end of the service. I say this with fear and trembling because just a few years ago I was the one giving the walk to the front invitations. Now I just preach the Gospel and leave the results to the Lord (I’ve seen more conversions over the last few years than I ever did trying to lead someone in the “sinners prayer”)

    Johnathan Pritchett

    Actually no. While I have taught Romans and Ephesians from start to finish. I have not preached through them.

    If you are using “Doctrines of Grace” as another label for Reformed theology, then yes, those men were in error regarding that. It is not arrogant to say that at all.

    According to your thinking, it would be arrogant to say Finney got doctrine wrong, because he presided over all those conversions… Come on. You know better.

    As the “methodology” discussion has been done to death already, and your criticisms are ultimately found wanting, and as Peter Lumpkins has pointed out on his blog, even among many Calvinists whom you probably hold in esteem who use such methods, I will venture no further in that discussion as it would be as off topic as your already mentioning it twice.

    Again, Reformed theology doesn’t go back the Bible, it goes back to the Reformation. The Reformers got some things right, and some things wrong. If by “Doctrines of Grace” you mean Calvinism, or Reformed theology, etc., yeah, they got some things wrong there as well as any other bits of their theology.

    Wesley and Whitfield did not agree on the “Doctrines of Grace”, was Wesley the arrogant one then and not Whitfield?

      volfan007

      Put me down as a Pastor, who preaches verse by verse, thru books…and I also am not a Calvinist. I have been preaching this way since I became a Sr. Pastor in 1989. So, I’ve been preaching verse by verse for 24 years, and I have still not become a Calvinist. I have been called to the ministry since 1981, and have been preaching every since God called me to the ministry…to preach and teach His Word. So, with all of that study of the Bible, Chris would expect me to become a Calvinist. Alas, I dont see Calvinism in the Bible. I also dont see Arminianism being taught in the Bible. Those two systems are “extra.”

      David

    Lydia

    Chris,

    What is with you guys following a path of church history as a guide to truth? Church history is an institutionalized bloody horrible mess. We get past state 1000 years church cruelty of both the Catholics and Protestant Reformers of Europe and we get to the torturing bannishing Puritans New Jerusalem to Edwards and can read about the gruesome suicides of those new believers he was discipling. What is up with that?

    For crying out loud, most of your coveted religious history is political using God as an excuse for cruelty to other believers who happened to disagree! Sorry but your comments reek of idolatry of man.

    You really don’t need them to understand the things of Christ. You have been promised the Holy Spirit.

    I would prefer folks salvation be based upon Christ. Not saved to “Calvinism”. That bothers me a lot.

      Preach BlackMan Preach

      The doctrines of grace were better served when they were the apostles doctrines in which Christ committed to His chosen men and were commanded to commit to faithful men.The gift of grace is the person of Christ Jesus realized in the heart and life of the believer. I am for Christ centered preaching in context but there “must” needs be some Christ-centered soteriology and not Calvin. When a segment of believers would prefer to be identified with a mere man and the movement he was involved with, we have a problem. Remember, they ( Church) continued steadfast in what Christ had commanded His holy apostles by the Holy Spirit.

        volfan007

        Preach BlackMan Preach,

        Amen, Brother!

        David

          Preach Blackman Preach

          That was an excellent place for an “Amen”, Thank you Brother!

            Max

            Brother P.B. Preach,

            I echo David’s Amen!

            There are indeed those in the reformed camp who lean much too heavily toward a Calvin-centered soteriology, with more emphasis on a system than a Savior. For the life of me, I just don’t see how two divergent views of God’s plan of salvation can coexist in a single denomination going forward.

Chris Twilley

I challenge you brothers (who are Pastors) to preach through Romans and Ephesians and preach each text with conviction (without trying to reinterpret or explain it away).

The methodology is the heart of this conflict. It is not a side issue. No one has a problem with John 3:16. No one is denying the truth in that verse. This conference is not about John 3:16. It is about continuing current methodology in the name of evangelism. It could be called the “sinners prayer” conference or the “altar call method” conference. If it was just about doctrine then there no one would have a problem with it. It is the challenging of the status quo and the calling for reformation, that some want stopped. History has shown, one cannot stop reformation, when it is fueled by the Scriptures. Sola Scriptura will guide us to path of reformation that is greatly needed. Hear my heart. Praying for Revival and reformation.

I don’t worship these historical brothers, I do greatly desire to follow the God they served and preached about. I do intend to stand in that historical line. “Here I stand, I can do no other, unless I’m convinced by Scripture”

Love you brothers.

    Preach BlackMan Preach

    Brother Chris, I’m with you concerning Revival and I hear your heart regarding these other matters. I am very familar with the sinner”s prayer discussion and the use of it. For a number of years I used that approach too. My experience ministering in the liberal so-called Black Church ( though I am an conservative, fundamental preacher) found many who had been led in a “prayer” of salvation continued to live as if they knew not the Lord. Some prayed the prayer on Sunday and have yet to come back again. Some of those who stayed weren’t that interested in New Members orientation and so forth. Whatever we do in the New Testament Church must be scriptural and presented in biblical terminology. There is a scarlet thread in the Old and New Testament concerning “repentance” and faith. Typically those who “repented” first experience a wholesome “fear” of God due to sin and the judgement of God in view. This is not popular with some but the Church should pray for sinners. On the other hand confession is an act of the will which can be spoken to say the same thing as God when conviction is complete and the sinner is convinced before a Thrice Holy God .

      Preach BlackMan Preach

      Let me clean up the last statement regarding “confession”. Confession is as much as “agreeing” with God as it is saying the same thing God has said. Matthew 7 speaks to this when there is only lip service. I have no problem with this put in prayer form, however the command given was repent and believe the gospel. There was a time when fruit worthy of repentance was observed by Church leaders and fruit of the Spirit in the believer life as they lived their life in Christ Jesus.

    Johnathan Pritchett

    “I challenge you brothers (who are Pastors) to preach through Romans and Ephesians and preach each text with conviction (without trying to reinterpret or explain it away).”

    Explain away Romans and Ephesians? Do you think if they did this, they would become Calvinists?

    Do you think they have not done this, but rather preach them without conviction and simply “explain them away” to avoid Calvinism?

    What was it you were saying earlier about arrogance?

    In any case, the only people I see doing a lot of “explaining away” is Calvinists. Between scholars like James White who insist Paul didn’t give a hoot about the original contexts of the OT citations in Romans 9 (See podcast debate between him and Michael Brown from a few years ago) to laypersons such as rhutchin reading Ephesians primarily as a personal letter from God to him (see his comments in the interview with Eric Hankins blogpost here) while virtually ignoring the original context…yeah, it is obvious who does all the “explaining away” of the texts…Its the Calvinists. I can cite more examples if you’d like.

    For those of us who care about exegesis and understanding the texts to mean what they originally meant, the particulars to Calvinism are nowhere to be found in Romans or Ephesians.

    All your and my rhetoric aside, post the passages and your exegesis of them from those Epistles, and see if you can convert us to Calvinism, because if your right, it would be the proper action for us to do.

    Have at it.

      Norm Miller

      Johnathan: I am continually perplexed by Calvinists who get exercised about the sinner’s prayer, and ‘come down to the front and receive Jesus’ talk, ad naseum.
      My former pastor, a Calvinist, was whining about this when I suggested to him he must have a low view of sovereignty. Talk about getting exercised!
      Then I asked him why worry about such things, saying that, if his understandings of election and sovereignty were correct, then whatever man does in appealing to other men in these regards was of no eternal consequence. What was fated to happen will happen.
      I still stand by my closing statement to him, which employs Calvinistic verbiage intentionally: A preacher can no more invite the non-elect into heaven than he can invite the elect into hell. — Norm

        Bill Mac

        Norm: I am not as uptight about the sinner’s prayer as many Calvinists are, but I think folks on both sides of the aisle can agree that misuse of both the prayer and altar call is a reality and has inflated some church rolls with unregenerate members, which is never a good thing. Remember 2/3 of all supposed Southern Baptists are only theoretical. There are no doubt many reasons for that, but I’m sure false conversions accounts for some of that number. And Calvinists should not kids themselves that false conversions cannot happen under their methodologies.

          Norm Miller

          Points well-taken, Bill. And, I also appreciate your consistent, reasonable tone. Thx.
          I realize many Cs emphasize the importance of a regenerate church membership — some to the point of even purging the rolls. I am for removing dead and non-resident members from church rolls.
          However, I could not agree w/my former pastor (a Calvinist), who told me his purpose in purging the roll was to “get rid of the dead weight.”
          Hmmm? Why not have a motivation of sharing the Gospel with those folks, first?
          Thx again for your tenor. — Norm

            Johnathan Pritchett

            Norm,
            As you may know, I am somewhat sympathetic with our Reformed brothers on the membership issue. “Inactive church member” is a contradiction in terms. It flies in the face of Ephesians 4, Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12, etc. If a church is to have a roll as a way of identifying members, then the principle of 1 Timothy 5 regarding the widow’s roll can be applied. Rolls, if there are to be rolls, are to be maintained properly and orderly.

            I agree that the roll could also be a “prospect list”, as I have heard stated so many times. There are three problems with this though. 1. If unbelievers are on there, they should never have been on the list in the first place. 2. Very few churches actually do anything to back up the notion of them being a “prospect list”. 3. If they are a “prospect list”, then don’t call it a membership list of any kind.

            At a church in NLR, after hearing the pastor (a dear friend) rant in a sermon about those in the SBC making popular the notion of purging membership lists as something he opposes (without any good reasons given), mentioned this idea of “prospect list”. So, I challenged him on it. I asked who was actually contacting these people to get them back into church. Answer: Nobody (including him). I further challenged him to give me the list, and I will spend a year of my life using whatever free time I had to try to get these people back into church, but at the end of that time, whoever does not come back (and doesn’t ask to be removed) gets their name removed from the membership since they clearly want no part of the church,

            I am still waiting for an answer to this. It has been several months, and no one else is contacting these people either.

            So, while I am all for sharing the Gospel or contacting wayward members to bring them lovingly back to the flock, at some point, something must be done. Otherwise, the church is just lying to both God and man about who is part of the one body with many members, with each contributing to the whole, and growing up into the Head, which is Christ. .

            There is no other way around it.

          Johnathan Pritchett

          Agreed. I see the whole issue of methodology as a distraction from having a real discussion about nominalism, which is as big a problem in Reformed churches as anywhere else.

          Picking on popular methodology, regardless of their merits, is a cheap and easy way to get attention on the one hand, and not seriously deal with the nominal issue on the other.

          However a conversion comes about, the real issue is what is or is not being done once people make a profession of faith regardless of how such professions came about.

          But that is a grown folk conversation that requires maturity. Washer’s rants ten years ago, however sincere, distracted from that conversation, and Platt parroting him, with all the rhetoric but a noticable lack of the real conviction that Washer had, has once again provided a distraction to the real, grown folk conversation. So once again, Calvinists begin methodology criticisms that are demonstrably invalid when it gets down to it, and productive grown folk conversation about dealing with the real issue of nominalism is delayed again.

          Yes, partly because people take the bait and defend the methodology, but mainly because the distraction and baiting happened at all.

            Norm Miller

            From one grown folk to another: WooHoo! You nailed it. — Norm
            P.S. Every time I see your Superman shirt, I see George Reeves rolling in his grave. ;^>

            Johnathan Pritchett

            LOL

            As I challenged you on the other thread about appropriate dress for church a while back, buy me a decent suit and I will wear it every Sunday, and also for a picture to post here! ;)

    Johnathan Pritchett

    Have you looked at the topics of the presenters at the conference?

    I doubt it, given your statements about what you think this conference is all about as opposed to what it is actually all about.

Chris Twilley

Jonathan,
I have seen preachers who did not embrace the ‘Doctrines of Grace’ preach through Romans and actually skip over Romans 9. Why would they do this? It could be because it challenged their already preconceived ideas of soteriology. Embracing what is taught in Romans 8, 9, 11 will promote humility, not arrogance. This is the way that Paul ends chapter 11 when He says that God’s ways are impossible to trace out. Same thing with Ephesians 1 and 2. Paul clearly lays out the doctrine of God’s Sovereign Grace.

Jesus words are so clear in John 6:44 ‘No one can come to me, except the Father who has sent me draws him, and I will raise him up on the last day.’ No one means ‘no one.’ So some say ‘Well he draws everyone the same.’ but this doesn’t square with the context when he says “and I will raise him up on the last day” Christ is not going to raise everyone up, only those that the Father has drawn.

Did you know that Finney admitted at the end of his life that the vast majority of those who ‘came forward’ in his crusades were never converted? He realized it at the end. (John MacArthur’s book “Ashamed of the Gospel” is so helpful in understanding our current church situation.)

Our methodology always comes from our theology. Orthodoxy leads to orthopraxy. You said that the methodology is not the issue, it is the nominalism. I’m convinced that the methodology has created the nominalism. There are 16,000,000 Southern Baptists reported. Only about 4-6 million attend church. So there are 10,000,000 Southern Baptists who some will try to convince us have never been discipled (so we just need to do a better job of discipleship and they will come back) or the other option is that they have never been converted. If they haven’t been converted, then why were they counted as members? (I’ll tell you why, because they walked an aisle, repeated a prayer, were baptized the next week and have shown little to no fruit since then and the only one who might address this would be the Pastor but he knows if he brings up the idea of church discipline for the sin of inactivity (Hebrews 10:23-25), then the church will probably vote him out because many members have family members who are inactive and would never conceive of ‘updating’ the membership rolls, where they are concerned.

I’m encouraged by the resurgence, I’m thankful for what is happening. I think the wrestling with these doctrines and our own baptist history is helpful. There is a reformation happening. (I’m observing and experiencing it, by the Grace of God, alone!).

Thankful to be attending this years “True Church Conference” in Alabama. Conferences like this is what we need: Fervent Worship, rich expository preaching, focused on God’s glory in the church, historical perspectives (Tom Nettles will lead a session on Spurgeon’s ministry and what we can emulate). Conferences like these are edifying, helpful and equipping.

Thanks for letting weigh in on these issues.

Once again, I am “one your side” as we pray for Revival and Reformation.

    lydiasellerofpurple

    “Our methodology always comes from our theology”

    Chris, I agree with this also when I read Reformed history and the bloody mess that ensued from it’s teachings. Let me see….sinners prayer or torture, drowning or imprisonment for disagreeing about God?

    And I am always confused when Reformed folks talk about false converts. How did they know who was a real believer in the state church where attendance was mandatory or the magistrates paid you a visit? Methodology always comes from our theology?

    Johnathan Pritchett

    “Jonathan,
    I have seen preachers who did not embrace the ‘Doctrines of Grace’ preach through Romans and actually skip over Romans 9. Why would they do this?”

    I don’t know. I can’t speak to your experiences. I have not experienced this. Romans 9 is my second favorite chapter of that book, next to Romans 8, of course.

    “It could be because it challenged their already preconceived ideas of soteriology.”

    How exactly would it do that? The passage isn’t about soteriology, but about Israel’s history.

    “Embracing what is taught in Romans 8, 9, 11 will promote humility, not arrogance.”

    Agreed.

    “This is the way that Paul ends chapter 11 when He says that God’s ways are impossible to trace out.”

    Indeed, God’s ways are untraceable. The text of Romans 9-11, on the other hand, is not.

    “Same thing with Ephesians 1 and 2. Paul clearly lays out the doctrine of God’s Sovereign Grace.”

    Well, God is sovereign, grace is not sovereign, since grace isn’t a ruler. So, I don’t know what the phrase “sovereign grace” even means. To make the phrase have any semantic sense at all, you should reconsider stating it as “the Sovereign God’s grace” instead, so that the word sovereign as an adjective has the proper referent.

    In any case, Ephesians 1 and 2 clearly demonstrate that God has chosen the Jew + Gentile church out of His goodness and immeasurable riches of His grace to be the one New Covenant people of God.

    “Jesus words are so clear in John 6:44 ‘No one can come to me, except the Father who has sent me draws him, and I will raise him up on the last day.’ No one means ‘no one.’ So some say ‘Well he draws everyone the same.’ but this doesn’t square with the context when he says “and I will raise him up on the last day” Christ is not going to raise everyone up, only those that the Father has drawn.”

    You are making the same error jimmiedon made the other day, by simply citing a proof text under some mistaken notion that none of us had ever read the verse or something, and him thinking, “BAM, irrefutable Calvinism.”

    Well, no.

    So, actually, let us flesh out the context even more. We all agree not everyone will be raised. We also agree that no one means no one. The issue is what does it mean in context. As I wrote the other day to him:
    ————————————————————————————————————
    Prisoners and nets are dragged, God draws people (which is why no translation committee translates it drag, and Calvinists dominate translation committees, by the way), it is not irresistible (Neh. 9:30 uses the same word “helkuo” in the LXX, which the NT authors cite frequently), so choice (belief) is still a factor….

    The issue (in the passage of John 6) was unbelief, and most immediately, lack of following instruction. Exodus 16 figures in here, so one must go back and see what that is all about (the Israelite people didn’t follow the instructions too well at first, so the manna stinketh!). Isaiah 54:13 figures here as well, so one must go back and look there as well, We see Jesus qualifies that to those who listen and learn out of the “all” who were taught.

    Rather than gratuitously theologizing from the text, you must first exegete the text. Verse 40 states that those who believe are raised, so just because the word “believes” is not in 6:44 doesn’t overturn what Jesus has already said in 6:37, 40, 47, 53-58 and everywhere else in this passage. The drawn must believe/come/eat/drink, in order to be raised and have life. That should be a given.

    There is also the issue of “who” is being given to the Son in 6:37-39 (and thus drawn). Remember, this is a narrative. So those being given to the Son is a people that relates to the narrative of Jesus’ ministry and therefore so do the people being “drawn” at the time Jesus made that statement.

    The answer, of course, is already stated in verse 6:45 for us. Those who listened and learned from the Father. Plus, the whole passage is full of subjunctives, so that should give the Calvinist some pause as well…”
    ————————————————————————————————————
    As for any drawing at the conclusion of Jesus’ ministry, we must look to John 12:31-32, which states “…if I be lifted up, I will draw all to myself. He said this to signify what kind of death He was about to die.”

    Now, the “astute James White Calvinist” will quickly point out, as he does, that there were Greeks that Jesus hid from and did not reveal anything further to (12:36b).

    Response: So what? That is precisely the point! Jesus hadn’t been lifted up yet. It follows then, that after he is lifted up, he will indeed “draw” all to Himself. ;)

    So, we can play semantic games with “no one” and “all” until the cows come home and it doesn’t amount to a hill of beans concerning the debate over John 6:44 and the issue of Calvinism in general.

    So, it is quite right to say that no one can come unless drawn. It is also quite right to say, after the the cross, all will be drawn. What 6:44 means in context is that we must ask who will be the ones God is drawing as it relates to the narrative, and thus raised, provided they believe?

    The verse says nothing about all being drawn come at all. That sets Jesus own words against what He has said before and after this verse.

    Likewise, 12:31 doesn’t say all that are drawn come or are raised. We have to exegete these things properly in their full context. Taking genre considerations and narrative considerations when trying to ascertain meaning.

    The rest of your post is retread of the same go-nowhere rants about methodology.

    So, I take it as a no, you are not going to expound texts for us to demonstrate that Romans 8-11, and Ephesians 1-2 clearly teach Calvinism and we should all change our minds? Flaccid assertions about a proof text from John’s Gospel won’t cut it.

Alan Davis

Chris,

I will be at the True Church Conference also. Good to hear your going. If I had money and time I also would go to hear some of my brothers at the John 3:16 not that I would fully agree with them but I have learned much from a few of these guys down through the years. You are right we all must attempt to be Christ honoring and Scripturally correct in calling people to respond to the gospel. I have seen guys from all camps misuse it and I have seen guys from all camps use it in a godly manner that most defiantly honors Christ. I have a strong feeling many of the regulars on here regardless if they fall into the DoG camp with us or not, give good solid calls of responses with the gospel.

The ones I have seen do it in a poor manner fall into one of two camps; unable to articulate the entire gospel or they are really pushing for numbers (and sometimes both). Seems when this happens we have elongated altar calls, manipulative techniques and stories and quick counseling. I have one pastor friend that is not Calvinistic in many ways but can articulate the gospel well and with anointing, he gives a very distinct call using his sermon as the invitation and God uses him greatly. I keep talking to him though telling him he is a closet Spurgeonist, lol. No matter which camp we fall in we all should be very careful and Christ centered in calling people to respond to the gospel. But call them to consider the claims of Christ none the less. Jesus Himself came calling men to repent and believe and in Luke 24 we are commanded to do the same. Hope to see you at Grace Church.

Chris Twilley

Thank you Alan,
Good Word.
I’m with you. We must clearly call people to repent and trust Christ (and not give them something to do which Scripture does not, like raising their hands, standing up, coming to the front, etc.)

We need to practice the biblical ‘profession of faith’ which is baptism. And not try to put anything in front of it.

Hope to see you there.

    Preach BlackMan Preach

    Where would our methodology come from if not from the pattern found in the holy scriptures? This isn’t a Reformed vs other’s discussion. The Calvinist vs Non- Calvinist debate can score points in other areas of less importance. This is a real problem in the New Testament local Church “apart” from Calvinism, Joeism or whoeverism!

    Listen, there is absolutely no contextual foundation for the sinners prayer in the gospels or in the epistles. We have a reference point in history when this dogma commenced. The sinner’s prayer method wasn’t given to the Church and the holy scriptures substantiate this truth. Those who insist on this method will still have to preach repentance and faith in order to be faithful to Lk.24:44-48 and others text.Our soteriology must be scriptural and not just a trend. Another thing, not everyone who hold this viewpoint is a Calvinist.

      Johnathan Pritchett

      A word about the “sinner’s prayer”.

      From what I can gather, it is merely an aid to assist in someone’s first real communication with the Almighty to express repentance, faith, and gratitude. No more, no less. If someone is saying the prayer (and let’s for the sake of argument assume the person is genuine here), then they have demonstrated repentance and faith as spelled out prior to leading one in the prayer. The “prayer” itself is not the content of the Gospel presentation, and it is pure straw to assume otherwise by any detractors.

      So, such as it is, being a resolution that Platt himself signed, however edited, the SBC recognizes it as a useful way for to lead someone in their first genuine prayer to express what they already have done that caused them to want to follow in the prayer in the first place. As such, it is more of a discipleship tool than a conversion tool.

      I can think of no better FIRST prayer from a new believer than one of repentance, sorrow, and gratitude in sincere faith, than the “sinner’s prayer” in whatever form it comes, being said in corporate fellowship with another person (or other people) who love the Triune God and others as themselves.

        Preach BlackMan Preach

        Well stated and eloquently set forth. I’ m sure this would never be a problem with those of us who were called to preach repentance in His name. The problem is much broader than the SBC. Many across the Christian landscape adopted this method from SBC preachers years ago. Stating it as you have now makes it an after the fact ( repentance & faith) but we both know many used the “sinner’s prayer as the means of salvation. This is how one of “my” mentors and former SBC President said it, “If you want to be saved just pray this prayer”. There you have it. Repentance is a process where the hell deserving sinner comes face to face first with himself in the mirror of the perfect law of liberty. In most instances the Spirits work of repentance is halted by this prayer. Listen, I just wrapped up bible study with some of those who were led in the sinner’s prayer, Many of them are still living in open rebellion in the face of the only God who is Holy. Now in order for them to be saved they must first be “unsaved”. Many have abused this method, just take a good look around the local Church.

          Preach BlackMan Preach

          Also, by the way if this prayer is prayed after conversion we need to call it the “believers” prayer.

            Norm Miller

            P BM Preach:
            Romans 10.9 employs both confession and belief as salvific. “Believers” prayer is splitting a fine hair, if there is a hair at all. — Norm

          Johnathan Pritchett

          No one is saying the methodology can and is abused. There has been much stated in agreement to that.

          That is besides the point. All methodologies can be and are abused.

          Also, looking at Gospel preaching and teaching in the NT, while the essential Gospel content is the same, there is no one methodology to package it or whatever. In fact, Paul essentially speaks to the contrary when he writes what he does in 1 Corinthians 9:19-23

          So…I would think as long as the content is rightly presented and the sinner is sincere, whatever methodology is implemented from there is fine.

            Preach Blackman Preach

            When the apostles Paul engaged these segments in society the sinner’s prayer wasn’t his tool of choice but what was consistly across the spectrum was “repent and turn to God”.

            Excellent discussion, have a great evening what’s left of it.

            Johnathan Pritchett

            Given that the Scripture, especially Acts, gives us summaries, and not exhaustive content of events, we don’t know what all they implemented.

            I am NOT saying that the sinner’s prayer could have been among them. What I AM saying is that I am sure there are a lot of things we just don’t know, and the diversity in Scripture has a trajectory that there will be a diversity in practice down through the ages as circumstances, providential contexts, and particular audiences need or require.

            For instance, I wonder what all Peter said and did that was summarized as “…with many other words…” in Acts 2:40 I get curious about those sorts of things, like Paul in 1 Cor. 9 and so forth. Would have been cool to have been there.

            Be blessed as well.

        Chris Twilley

        Jonathan,
        You sound like a “hyper-calvinist” here my friend. Sounds like they were saved without their knowledge and then someone leads them in a prayer for discipleship. Then why call it “The sinners prayer”?

        I could have affirmed the heavily edited resolution. But most definately not the first version of it. The edited version sounded like Romans 10:13 “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

          Johnathan Pritchett

          Not at all.

          What I am saying, is that a sincere person wishing to follow some believer in a led prayer of repentance and faith, they have that heart of repentance and faith already. Repentance = change of mind. Faith = believing allegiance. The prayer is one way for people to make a vocalized confession, among others. ;)

          I didn’t think that was a point of contention. Nothing hyper-Calvinist about it. Why else would one want to pray such a prayer if they so wanted to?

          Come on…

          As for why it is commonly called “the sinner’s prayer”, I haven’t the slightest. I didn’t come up with it.

      volfan007

      Preaching repentance and faith is the key…..not preaching repentance and faith is easy believism, and is wrong. Saying a sinners prayer is not easy believism…IF….if the person doing the witnessing stresses repentance. Some people need help to call on God…they absolutely just feel like they cant talk to God…to ask Him for anything….and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with helping someone to pray, and to ask Jesus into their heart as their personal Lord and Savior….nothing wrong, at all, if you stress repentance and faith(Acts 20:20-21) in your preaching of the Gospel to people.

      Romans 10:9-10 sure do sound like a sinner’s prayer to me.

      David

        Preach BlackMan Preach

        Roman 10:9-10, I once had a young man who came forward in a meeting, prayed the sinner’s prayer at the altar, then the pastor had him meet with me afterward. I took him to the above verse and asked him if he could confess the above from his heart and he said “he” could not and he did not. Like many he left and haven’t been back and to my knowledge is still out in the world. If the sinner’s prayer is supposed to follow genuine repentance and faith then call it what it is, call it the “believer” prayer.

          Johnathan Pritchett

          Call it whatever your pedantic heart desires. ;-)

            Preach Blackman Preach

            Call it whatever your “pedantic” heart desires. ;-)

            Thank you!

        Chris Twilley

        Here is the deal, this is my problem with the sinners prayer. The Holy Spirit is the “helper” It is wrong, dead wrong, for us to usurp the role of the Holy Spirit. The “help” we give is to explain more about Christ, more about the cross, more about repentance, more about faith. When it comes to crying out for salvation, that is between them and the Lord. There is no example in Scripture of someone leading someone else in a prayer. The Holy Spirit is the one who leads. If a person doesn’t know what to say, then they are deficient in their understanding of the Gospel (so we explain it again). When they are desperate, then they will cry out “Lord, Save me” That conviction, only comes from the Holy Spirit (John 16:8-11). It is very possible for someone to lead someone in a prayer and the Holy Spirit be far from it (I have done it myself and I repented of it many years ago). Attend your local “judgement house’ at halloween and you will see many teenagers scared into a prayer (but in a few weeks you will know how many were really ‘repenters’). We must repent of trying to do what only God can do. Conversion proper is His role and His jurisdiction. Our job is to proclaim the Gospel in all of it’s power and beauty.

          Preach BlackMan Preach

          Amen, Brother Chris

          Johnathan Pritchett

          For crying out loud…so now you are saying that Christians trying to lead others in a prayer around “conversion time”, they are usurping the Holy Spirit?

          Give me a break.

          “If a person doesn’t know what to say, then they are deficient in their understanding of the Gospel (so we explain it again). ”

          Okay, so, oddly enough, YOU are now making this into works-righteousness and making sure we usurp the Holy Spirit so that we have enough proper words so they get whatever your preferred methodological incantation proceeds from their mouth correctly.

Chris Twilley

Jonathan,
Here is another one. John 6:37 “All that the Father give Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out.” This verse (in the same context as 44, helps us understand what is meant by 44). I’m going to take these words at face value. All that the Father gives, will come (this cannot be everyone) They will believe (because they are given by the Father) and the one that comes is secure (security is tied to the Fathers Sovereign action.)

I do not like the term “calvinism” and rarely use it. Calvin got his teaching from the New Testament, Paul in particular. The “Doctrines of Grace” is a better descriptor and doesn’t emphasize one man, but the comprehensive Scriptural foundations for them.

I’m glad that you have seen nominalism as a major problem. I share your desire for church membership to be meaningful. I am glad you are making an effort to address this obvious glaring problem in the modern church. I think we do have to ask ourselves what has caused this sitution and compare it to Scripture and what this means for these people and our current methods (because their is a disconnect between what the Word says that believers lives will look like and the widespread problem of nominalism). We are striving for regenerate church membership in our new church plant. We are also striving to practice church discipline when needed. So far, we are faring better than most in these categories, by the Grace of God. I’m thankful for my fellow elders who help me shepherd our flock. I could not do it without them.

We use the 1689 Baptist confession as our confessional statement. I have recently learned that when the first Southern Baptist convention was held in 1845, there were 93 delegates. Every one of them came from churches that held the 1689 (also called the Philadelphia confession) as their doctrinal statement. Clearly a “Doctrines of Grace” foundation for the SBC.

Article 5 in the 2000 Baptist Faith in Message on “God’s purpose of Grace” and its comments on election continue the historic Baptist tradition of connecting ‘election’ to ‘Gods’ Grace’ (something that Paul does (Romans 11:1-5) “even now, there is a remnant chosen by grace.”

Thanks for the discussion.

    Johnathan Pritchett

    “Jonathan,
    Here is another one. John 6:37 “All that the Father give Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out.” This verse (in the same context as 44, helps us understand what is meant by 44). I’m going to take these words at face value. All that the Father gives, will come (this cannot be everyone) They will believe (because they are given by the Father) and the one that comes is secure (security is tied to the Fathers Sovereign action.)”

    I too take those words at face value. They do not at all refer to everyone. We agree on that. Again, they aren’t just anyone either. So, who are they?

    Yes, the Father will give Jesus a people who will come (believe). In the context of the narrative, the passage, and the Gospel of John as a whole, who are they and why are they given? No presupposed theological answers please, exegetical ones only. Thanks. ;)

    Again, the passage is full of Jesus using the subjunctive mood, so, you must factor that in as well.

    Yes, all election(s) in Scripture is of grace. We agree on that too.

    Everyone gets their teaching from Scripture. ;)

Ross

Original sin is really sin. We are not born with faith (trust in God) or love for God and this is a sin of omission (failing to do what God commands). All are born guilty of this sin of omission even before they are guilty of any sins of commission (doing what God forbids).

    Johnathan Pritchett

    Again, it is the word guilt that gets tricky. Ross, there is something anti-incarnational about this. Jesus Himself, if we are to take His full humanity as seriously as we do His divine nature, grew in stature and knowledge according to Scripture. So, even granting that Jesus was immune to original sin, was fetus Jesus or infant Jesus expected to consciously have faith?

    Since you seem to have insights that we do not have, please describe for us all your thoughts and memories you experienced as an embryo.

      Ross

      “Again, it is the word guilt that gets tricky. Ross, there is something anti-incarnational about this. Jesus Himself, if we are to take His full humanity as seriously as we do His divine nature, grew in stature and knowledge according to Scripture. So, even granting that Jesus was immune to original sin, was fetus Jesus or infant Jesus expected to consciously have faith?”

      Scripture also says Christ was without sin as you know (original or otherwise). So speculation is not necessary. You also know that Scripture says that without faith, it is impossible to please God. Failure to fear, love, and trust God is sin. When we fail to keep His commandments, we are guilty of breaking His law.

      “Since you seem to have insights that we do not have, please describe for us all your thoughts and memories you experienced as an embryo.”

      I don’t get it. What’s your point?

        Johnathan Pritchett

        See Norm’s post.

        There is no sense that in His human nature, Jesus as a fetus had conscious faith. According to your reasoning, He as a fetus to an infant was guilty of the sin of omission, even without the original sin factor.

          Ross

          “There is no sense that in His human nature, Jesus as a fetus had conscious faith.”
          I disagree.

          “According to your reasoning, He as a fetus to an infant was guilty of the sin of omission, even without the original sin factor.”
          Not at all. He was without sin.

          Is it a sin to not fear, love, and trust God?

          Can we be guilty of sins of omission?

            Johnathan Pritchett

            Yes, there are sins of omission.

            Why do you disagree? Back up your claim that human fetuses (or at least Jesus as a fetus) are conscious and have knowledge to express dear, love, and trust.

            See you can’t.

            You start with an unsubstantiated premise, “born having committed sins of omission”, and then assume that since infants commit these sins, Jesus must not have.

            We all agree Jesus has no sin whatsoever.

            So, either you need to substantiate your claim and explain how Jesus via His human nature is different as a fetus than other fetuses (just saying without sin won’t do, because we are talking about sins, plural, not sin, singular), or you need to rethink your position on this.

            Ross

            You and I have a different understanding of faith. Faith is not head knowledge. It is trust in God and is given by the Holy Spirit by His Word. You think it is impossible for God to give faith to an infant and I strongly disagree.

            You demand proof from me and I quoted Scripture below that deal with “little children” (infants) and faith but your theological presuppositions will not allow for it. You’ve probably got some way to interpret them into your rational grid. However, you can’t prove to me that God cannot give faith to infants. I know for sure that you can’t refer to God’s Word to prove it.

            Johnathan Pritchett

            “You and I have a different understanding of faith.”

            Doubtful.

            Faith is not head knowledge.”

            Agreed, well, it is not merely head knowledge, but technically, involves it, since one must have knowledge of the object of faith.

            “It is trust in God and is given by the Holy Spirit by His Word.”

            Yes, and it is an ACTIVE thing, not a passive thing. I even agree that faith is a gift, though we may differ on the sense in which it is a gift.

            “You think it is impossible for God to give faith to an infant and I strongly disagree.”

            I don’t think it is impossible for God to give faith to an infant. I think it is a categorical error to say God gives faith to infants. Faith is not a necktie. Faith is not a thing in which is put into person’s brains.

            Going by this sort of thinking, it would seem that you are the one insinuating that faith is merely reducible to head knowledge.

            “You demand proof from me and I quoted Scripture below that deal with “little children” (infants) and faith but your theological presuppositions will not allow for it.”

            You think Jesus meant literal infants in Matthew 11:25? Is that what Jesus meant?

            “You’ve probably got some way to interpret them into your rational grid. However, you can’t prove to me that God cannot give faith to infants. I know for sure that you can’t refer to God’s Word to prove it.”

            You also can not go to Scripture to find any passages relevant to substantiate your claims. Your proof-texts do not refer to literal infants or fetuses, a definition of faith that includes that infants are given this, that other fetuses and infants are guilty of sins of omission that Jesus in His human nature escapes in that time of his incarnational development, etc.

            Again.

            Please substantiate your claim that fetuses and infants commit sins of omission, by which they are charged guilty of and condemned, and that fetuses-infants are fully capable of exercising either a conscious faith or consciously suppress the truth in unrighteousness, and that Jesus in His human nature did exercise conscious faith from conception through birth so as not to be guilty of these sins (granting that He was conceived without sin and assuming you substantiate the claim that all other fetuses-infants are guilty of these sins), or we will just have to end this discussion at an impasse.

            Ross

            “Your proof-texts do not refer to literal infants or fetuses”

            Look up the original Greek.

            Johnathan Pritchett

            I read it in the Greek. I know what the lexical word means.

            Do you think what Jesus meant was that the word infants literally meant infants in contrast to the wise and learned in Matthew 11:25?

            The Bible says in the Greek that Jesus says “I am the door.” The word for door means door.

            Did Jesus literally mean He is a door?

            Not sure what the Greek has to do with the meaning of the text.

      Ross

      Also, I have no problem with the idea that Jesus had faith in the womb. Do you?

        Johnathan Pritchett

        In His divine nature, no. In his human nature. Yes, actually. Because Jesus was fully man as well as fully God, and neither fetuses nor infants are not conscious enough in knowledge to either 1) exercise faith, or 2) suppress truth in unrighteousness.

          Ross

          Be careful. That sounds like Nestorianism.

          “neither fetuses nor infants are not conscious enough in knowledge to either 1) exercise faith, or 2) suppress truth in unrighteousness.”
          That’s an assumption and I disagree.

          “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.”

          At that time Jesus said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children.”

          Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”

          When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.

            Johnathan Pritchett

            Actually, it isn’t close to that at all. I totally affirm that Jesus Christ is one person with two natures, and nothing I have said contradicts that at all. Nestorianism would mean that Jesus was essentially human, but the Son and Jesus were not identical.

            This isn’t that. This is trying to do justice with the human nature of Jesus.

            Surely you don’t think in Jesus’ divine nature, he wasn’t omniscient. Surely you do agree that in His human nature, he grew in stature and knowledge.

            So again, we can make distinctions without fear of heresies…so that was a bit of a useless aside and distraction to toss in.

            Anyway, I know you disagree. Why do you disagree?

            Can you please tell me about your experiences and amount of knowledge in the womb?

            We aren’t talking about little children, we are talking about human development from conception to birth.

            I am not sure what the Holy Spirit’s involvement with Elizabeth, and John (you left that out…lk. 1:15) speaks to their level of consciousness of either 1) exercising faith, or 2) suppressing the truth in unrighteousness.

            Johnathan Pritchett

            Again.

            Please substantiate your claim that fetuses and infants commit sins of omission, by which they are charged guilty of and condemned, and that fetuses-infants are fully capable of exercising either a conscious faith or consciously suppress the truth in unrighteousness, and that Jesus in His human nature did exercise conscious faith from conception through birth so as not to be guilty of these sins (granting that He was conceived without sin and assuming you substantiate the claim that all other fetuses-infants are guilty of these sins), or we will just have to end this discussion at an impasse.

            Ross

            Nestorianism separates the two natures. You are doing this with the “fetus Jesus”. There is one Christ and what can be said of one nature is true of the whole person. Communication of attributes. Here’s a test:
            Is Mary the mother of God?

            Did God die on the cross?

            Johnathan Pritchett

            Ross, Ross, Ross.

            This is not separating the two natures. This is considering one of the natures in distinction to the other.

            You know better than this, because, again consider omniscience, or hunger, or fatigue. While Jesus the person was those things, I don’t think Jesus in His divine nature got tired, or lacked omniscience, etc. The cross is another good example. Jesus did die on the cross. He did not cease to exist, or cease being God, when He died on the cross.

            Again.

            Please substantiate your claim that fetuses and infants commit sins of omission, by which they are charged guilty of and condemned, and that fetuses-infants are fully capable of exercising either a conscious faith or consciously suppress the truth in unrighteousness, and that Jesus in His human nature did exercise conscious faith from conception through birth so as not to be guilty of these sins (granting that He was conceived without sin and assuming you substantiate the claim that all other fetuses-infants are guilty of these sins), or we will just have to end this discussion at an impasse.

            Ross

            Did God die on the cross?

            Is Mary the mother of God?

            A simple “yes” or “no” answer to each question is sufficient.

            Johnathan Pritchett

            We are both too clever to think it is a simple yes or no.

            But I will answer no, knowing full well that if you wanted to be a jerk, you can find a way to turn that no on me just as you could if I said yes.

            But, I will answer no anyway because I know what I mean and what is and is not entailed by that no…and you do too.

    Norm Miller

    Unbelievable!!!
    The moment my daddy’s sperm pierced my mommy’s egg, I was guilty of an omitted sin. God is so cruelly demanding. NOT!

      Ross

      Well, at what point would you say someone is guilty of omitted sin?

        Norm Miller

        Do you really wanna go there? I would ask you the same question since it is your position.
        My semi-facetious statement to your untenable notion was meant to draw attention to where such a fallacy would lead.
        So, do I go to hell for this omitted sin if I die in my mother’s womb just moments before delivery?
        What if I die when crowning?
        Or, if I die while only half-delivered?
        Careful with your answers, Ross, as you may necessarily advocate abortion. — Norm

          Ross

          So you won’t answer my question. Fine by me.

          “So, do I go to hell for this omitted sin if I die in my mother’s womb just moments before delivery?
          What if I die when crowning?
          Or, if I die while only half-delivered?”

          I can’t answer these questions because Scripture doesn’t answer them. You can’t either.

          “Careful with your answers, Ross, as you may necessarily advocate abortion.”
          I’m not the one saying all babies go to heaven because they are innocent. That is actually a stronger pro-abortion stance than what I’m saying. If they automatically go to heaven, why not abort and save them from the possibility of eternal hell?

            Norm Miller

            I will answer your question. We all are culpable for our own sin (not Adam’s) when we reach an age of moral accountability.
            You can’t answer my questions b/c the Bible doesn’t speak to them? Exactly my point in asking you those questions. The Bible doesn’t speak to your position of a fetus being guilty of an omitted sin. If it does, then trot out the reference(s).
            As to your last question, I ask another: Do you want to be guilty of murder? — Norm

            Johnathan Pritchett

            “If they automatically go to heaven, why not abort and save them from the possibility of eternal hell?”

            Oh, I just love this stupid counterargument.

            Despite its general stupidity, I will answer.

            It is because abortion is sinful. It is the murder of human life.

            We can not condone sin simply because we believe those humans caught up in the sin of abortion will go to heaven. That is an absurd position, and there is no logic behind the statement “If they automatically go to heaven, why not abort and save them from the possibility of eternal hell?”

            It only seems like a logical argument to those who sit lightly to sin.

            Ross

            “when we reach an age of moral accountability”

            So are you saying infants are sinners, but are just not accountable for their sin?
            Or are you saying that infants are not sinners?

            “Do you want to be guilty of murder?”
            Of course not.

              Norm Miller

              Infants are born with a sin nature, but are not sinners, or accountable for their sins until they sin. Having said that, I categorically, whole-heartedly, and in any other way possible completely reject your specious notion that babies in the womb are guilty of any sin, whether ommitted or committed. And, Ross, with all due respect, I prefer not to be engaged on this with you any more. I simply have not the time to engage in such extraneous and futile discourse. You have your position, and I, mine. We will not convince each other, otherwise. So let us engage in more fruitful endeavors, henceforth. God bless. — Norm

            Ross

            “Oh, I just love this stupid counterargument.”

            So our conversation has devolved into name-calling? … I agree that the subject is not helpful to our discussion but Norm brought it up, not me. I certainly wouldn’t call him “stupid”. But then again, I’m not a trained “apologist”.

              Norm Miller

              Name calling? No. No one has been called stupid. And I did not bring up anything; I responded to your inane position. Note the position is inane, not you. — Norm

            Johnathan Pritchett

            To echo Norm. I called the counterargument stupid.

            To me that argument is just as stupid as saying that abortion is just carrying out God’s just sentence of death for all those reprobate, God-hating, enemy fetuses for their suppressing the truth in unrighteousness, so we should condone it.

        Johnathan Pritchett

        We affirm the Baptist Faith and Message when it says “as soon as they are capable of moral action, they become transgressors and are under condemnation.”

      Ross

      “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.”

        Johnathan Pritchett

        What does a poetic, hyperbolic statement about either 1) David’s mother, or 2) the state of the world in which David came into existence, have to do with sins of omission?

        Or, are you making an unBiblical ontological mistake in thinking that sin is some material or (sigh) “spiritual” gunk in either sperm, egg, womb, the spirit that God gives, or all of the above?

          Ross

          “What does a poetic, hyperbolic statement about either 1) David’s mother, or 2) the state of the world in which David came into existence, have to do with sins of omission?”
          Since the context of the Psalm is David’s confession and repentance, I was assuming he was speaking of his own sin in this verse. Looks like you got two other possibilities but haven’t settled on one yet. It doesn’t make sense to me that David would start pointing out his mother’s sin or the world’s sin in general while repenting. Did you read those in a commentary?

          “Or, are you making an unBiblical ontological mistake in thinking that sin is some material or (sigh) “spiritual” gunk in either sperm, egg, womb, the spirit that God gives, or all of the above?”
          No but good question. What is sin? I’ll go first. Sin is any thought, word, or deed that breaks God’s law by omission or commission. Your turn.

            Johnathan Pritchett

            Yes, but commentaries give more options than that, as I am sure you would imagine. One can find a commentary to say just about anything these days… :)

            In any case, I agree it is a Psalm of repentance, the problem is that your interpretation turns it into a Psalm of excuse since, in the words of Lady Gaga, he was “born this way”,

            That won’t do. Men are without excuse. Didn’t work in the garden, doesn’t work in the Psalms.

            But those seem to be the best choices, as other options either make categorical errors or are out of sync with the intent of the passage.

            I agree exactly with your definition of sin, on the ontological level. It is any thought, word, or deed that breaks God’s law.

            Also, in Scripture, it is metaphorically defined as a ruling power (see Paul’s Epistles, especially Romans).

            Johnathan Pritchett

            Given your own definition of sin, then, how do you make since of the following:

            “in law-breaking did my mother conceive me.”

            What is this “law-breaking” that person’s are conceived in, ontologically speaking? Is it solid, liquid, or gas? Is it a material law-breaking stuff, or immaterial law-breaking stuff?

            What is “law-breaking” about the biological act of conception? What is “law-breaking” about God giving a spirit to the biological material united at conception?

            Hopefully, you are now seeing the problem.

            This is where Augustine’s gnostic tendencies he reverted to later in his life really start to come out, and have plagued Christian ontological perceptions of sin ever since.

            volfan007

            Ross,

            Also, about David and the Psalm quote you and Jonathan were debating above. Could that not be about having a sin nature? I mean, we are all born with a sini nature…fallen…because of Adam. No one denies that. We all believe that. Babies are born in a sinful condition. They are sinners. The issue is whether they are GUILTY of ADAM’s sin. Are they born guilty? for just being born? Or, are we all not GUILTY when we commit our first, willful, known sin? In other words, we’re not held responsible for our sins by God, until we’re cabable of willfully choosing to sin….

            David

            Ross

            David,

            First of all, thanks for the kind tone of your post. …

            I agree with you. We are all born sinners (Romans 3:23). What I was trying to say in my original post was that, even if we are not guilty of Adam’s sin (and I’m not saying we are not), we are still born guilty. That’s why I said “Original sin is really sin.”

            You say we are guilty when we COMMIT our first sins. That’s why I brought up sins of ommission. Without fear, love, and trust in God (faith), we are guilty of sin of ommission. Even without willfully committing a sin, we still are guilty of not doing what God commands. Of course, we are also born with a propensity to sin (concupiscence) which will manifest in sins of commission.

            The point is that this inherited condition IS sin and brings condemnation without faith in Christ.

            Even if you disagree with me, am I at least making sense (explaining myself)?

            Thanks again.

            Ross

            Johnathan Pritchett

            “The point is that this inherited condition IS sin and brings condemnation without faith in Christ.”

            No, the inherited condition is death (1 Cor. 15:22), and the Bible teaches that sin reigns in death (Rom. 5:21).

            However, we must take Romans 5:12-14 in total.

            “Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, in this way death spread to all men, because all have sinned. In fact, sin was in the world before the law, but sin is not charged to a person’s account when there is no law. Nevertheless, death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who did not sin in the likeness of Adam’s transgression. He is a prototype of the Coming One.”

            So Adam sins, death came through that sin, death spread, and we know this because all have sinned. BUT, BUT, BUT, BUT it goes on to say, sin was before the law, but sin is not charged when there is no law (echo Romans 4:15). But death reigns despite no sin in the likeness of Adam’s transgression, and without formal charges!

            Hmm…This makes your assertion that “The point is that this inherited condition IS sin and brings condemnation without faith in Christ.” seem speculative and dubious at best.

            Were not done though, since we must also take into account Romans 1:18-2:16

            It seems to me, given this data, that since no sin is imputed to anyone anywhere in a personal way (i.e. they are charged with original sin) between Adam and Moses (Rom. 5:13), it follows that there is no sense in which Adam’s PERSONAL sin OR guilt is “imputed” (to use that term in a non-technical sense, since it is a technical term that is consistently misapplied in these sorts of conversations) to anyone at all IN A WAY (or a sense) THAT AUTOMATICALLY MAKES THEM CONDEMN-WORTHY. Quite the contrary actually, given the passage and other passages to be considered here below.

            This is why the Baptist Faith and Message 2000 declares “…as soon as they are capable of moral action, they become transgressors and are under condemnation.” It is important to note that it is worded precisely this way (and approved by Reformed folks on the committee such as Dr. Mohler), as opposed to other ways some Baptists have taken it (see 1858 Abstract of Principles) because it is a legitimate theological option for Baptists…

            Your assumption (like many in the Catholic and other Reformed traditions) presupposes that something inherited (i.e. in our nature) is something that is condemnable. However, the Bible teaches that God judges our thoughts, words, and deeds, as you have rightly defined AS sin in this thread, and does not, therefore, say anything about judging inherited natures, be they “sinful natures” as some call it, or “death nature” as others such as Garlington, et at (myself included) call it.

            While this nature is inclined toward all moral agents to become sinners, it is not in itself condemnation worthy. God judges our sins, not our natures.

            Still not done though. Because there is more data to consider about condemnation and perishing.

            We must consider that people still perished without the law. This we know from Romans 2:12a. “All who sin without the law perish without the law.”

            So, neither imputation of sin, or formal charges (Romans 4:15, 5:13) are required for perishing. Only sinning is required for perishing.

            Who perishes without the law, and perishes even without imputed guilt or sin of Adam then?

            Does Romans 1:18-2:16 give the impression that fetuses, infants, mentally handicapped, etc. are in view of the idolatry that Paul outlines in this section?

            Hardly…these classes are not Paul’s concern. Seems as if the classes under consideration would still need rescued in Christ from the death problem, but not necessarily a personal sin problem.

            Anyway, those who perish, with or without the law, are sinners who are actively suppressing the truth in unrighteousness (and for the unbelieving Jew idolator who does have Torah, there is the added condemnation for boasting in hypocrisy about Torah given its revelation they possessed that other tribes were without). Applying these passages to fetuses and infants, and mentally handicapped people is without any warrant whatsoever.

            Or, here is another way of looking at all this death and sin stuff to make the point:

            “Oh wretched man that I am! Who will save me from this body of sin” – Said no one in the Bible.

            Rather, “Oh wretched man that I am! Who will save me from this body of death!” Says Paul in Romans 7:24

            “Even if you disagree with me, am I at least making sense (explaining myself)?

            Thanks again.

            Ross”

            Ross, I know we have been cross, and that you were not talking to me here, but at least you are starting to make sense.

            Yes, I disagree with you because I think you have wrong presuppositions in operation.

            But you are a bit clearer here on what you meant. We just disagree.

        Ross

        “Unbelievable!!!
        The moment my daddy’s sperm pierced my mommy’s egg, I was guilty of an omitted sin. God is so cruelly demanding. NOT!”

        “For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment. Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me. Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being, and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart.”

        These two quotes sure look diametrically opposed to me.

        Wow.

          Johnathan Pritchett

          Was David’s bones literally crushed?

          Do crushed bones literally rejoice?

          Does hyssop literally purify one from sins?

          Again, the two better options, given the genre and intent, is either David speaking of the sinful state of the world in which he was brought forth and conceived in, stated in a poetic, hyperbolic way as fitting the genre, or he is saying something about his mother.

          It does not say, “I was conceived in sin in my mother”. It says, “in sin, my mother conceived me.” Hence, it could be saying that his mother did something.

          As you correctly noted above, I have indeed not settled on an interpretation. I don’t have to settle on one or the other until I am fully convinced of one or the other, but these would be the most likely options.

          I see other options as categorical errors or out of sync with the passage as a whole.

          Norm Miller

          They would look far less contradictory if you would remove your tulip-colored glasses. — Norm

          Ross

          I’m not a Calvinist.

            Norm Miller

            Sorry. I meant no insult.
            Things are not always as they seem, Shakespeare wrote. So, if my comment juxtaposed to your proof text seems contradictory, let us say that contradiction, in this case, is in the eye of the beholder.
            I see that you and Johnathan burnt some midnight oil on these matters. Given that he is an exceptionally capable theological apologist, I believe he has answered you aptly and accurately as to David’s being conceived in sin.
            Also, you asked me at what point a person becomes guilty of omitted sin. I offered a response above and also posed some questions for you. — Norm

Norm Miller

I have surmised that it takes a long time to fill up on gnat soup! — Norm

Bill Mac

I really think part of the problem here is that when you have a system (either Calvinist or not), then you think that every possible contingency must fit into that system. It seems incredible to me that we are arguing about whether a 2 day old fetus is guilty of sin? Are you kidding me?

Is it not reasonable to suggest that the commands to have faith, love and trust God, not sin, accept Christ, acknowledge sinfulness, etc, are given to those who can understand them? Do we really have to work unborn children into our system? Can God not deal with exceptions?

    Ross

    If infants cannot have faith, you have two options:
    1. All infants who die are damned.
    2. Faith in Christ is not necessary for salvation.

    What other option is there?

      Norm Miller

      So, the Holy Spirit of God lied when he inspired this verse, wherein David comments about his deceased infant?
      “But now he is dead, wherefore should I fast? can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me.”
      Ooops. Perhaps David is indicating the he, himself, was going to hell and THAT’s where he’d see his infant son again. My bad. — Norm

      Johnathan Pritchett

      3. You have a totally bogus and unsubstantiated premise.

        Ross

        According to your premis, infants cannot have faith in Christ but still go to heaven when they die (which is a result of sin by the way). So you must believe that faith in Christ is not necessary for salvation. If not, then how are infants saved?

        If I’m wrong about what you believe, please explain what you do believe. That would be much more helpful than simply telling me I’m wrong over and over again.

          Johnathan Pritchett

          Infants are saved (salvation denotes rescue and deliverance) by grace in the redemptive work of Christ achieved at the cross.

            Ross

            Of course I would add “through faith” but otherwise agree with you.

            But if they are not guilty, what are they saved from?

            Johnathan Pritchett

            Death.

      Bill Mac

      Ross: A 2 second old embryo cannot have faith, not unless the word means something completely different than what we say it means. Are you a Lutheran perchance?

        Ross

        Winner winner chicken dinner! Well done, Bill. You figured me out. I was also once a Southern Baptist.

      Bill Mac

      The unborn, infants, and a whole host of other people cannot “confess with their mouths” the Lord Jesus. If you are going to claim that infants and the unborn can have faith, then you are bound by the biblically mandated expression of that faith.

        Ross

        What about a deaf or mute person?

          Bill Mac

          Ross: Well, as I said, I believe those prescriptions are for those who are able to carry them out. No system is perfect and there are always exceptions. However, it is my understanding that Lutherans believe that baptism is a means of grace which imparts faith to the recipient. So how do the unborn or the born but not baptized infants receive faith?

            Johnathan Pritchett

            That last question is a good one, and not just for infants and the unborn, but for anyone.

            Though I am not Reformed, I do think that faith is a gift, and understand texts such as Ephesians 2:8-9 to be saying that both salvation and faith are the referent to the gift (even considering the fun that could be had by both sides regarding the grammar), etc.

            My questions are these.

            1. How is the gift of faith received? (i.e. What are the mechanics of the giving and receiving of faith?)

            2. In what sense did Paul (and yes, my Lutheran friend, Paul wrote Ephesians) mean that faith is a gift in the context of Ephesians and how the Ancient Near East audience understood it?. (I.e. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith —and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.”)

Ken

Can someone proivde me with the answer to whether or not Presbyterians and Roman Catholics, both of whom I am told practice infant baptism, attach any salvation significance to the act or is it just a dedication ceremony.

    Ross

    Presbyterians no. Catholics yes.

volfan007

Helping someone get saved is a wonderful thing….that the Holy Spirit uses…to bring people into the Kingdom of God.

We are to be God’s mouth, hands, and feet. God uses people in His work. To say that we are usurping the Holy Spirit is dead wrong. We are being USED by the Holy Spirit to help people come to Christ.

DAvid

volfan007

Ross,

What I am saying is that infants and the mentally handicapped are not guilty and condemned for their sins, because they have no idea what they’re doing. I mean, they have absolutely no idea what they’re doing. They’re not mentally cabable of comprehending sin, God, Heaven, or Hell. Thus, they are not born GUILTY. They are born sinners, though.

The Bible teaches over and over, again, that we will be judged for our own sins…not the sin of Adam. We will give an account of the life we lived.

David

volfan007

Ross,

So, you have to believe that all infants and the mentally handicapped go to Hell, forever, to pay for thier sins. Do you really believe that all infants and the mentally handicapped go to Hell? Because, they cannot put thier faith in the Lord. They dont even have the mental ability to know what faith is.

So, you believe they all go to Hell. That’s the only option for you.
David

    Ross

    No. They are saved by grace alone through faith alone just like all redeemed sinners. Only through Christ’s finished work. No man comes to the Father except through Him.

      volfan007

      Ross,

      Do you not see the error of your statement? Infants and the mentally handicapped cannot put thier faith in Jesus. A fetus cannot put his faith in Jesus. Therefore, according to your reasoning, they go to Hell. They have no hope.

      David

        Johnathan Pritchett

        Well, no. Not since Ross creates a private definition of faith, a private mechanism in which the gift of faith is given by God and received by the recipient, and a private revelation that such faith is exercised in the class under discussion the same as everyone else who receives faith. Add this with a healthy dose of belligerent insistence, and he can avoid your conclusion. :)

Robert

It seems to be that an inordinate amount of time is being spent dialoging with Ross.

He has made his position clear: all (including babies and the mentally disabled) are saved through faith) Therefore, according to Ross, babies and the mentally disabled **are** capable of faith in some mysterious way.

Now I (and it appears most of the people here) deny this belief, as it seems obvious to me (us) that neither babies nor the mentally disabled have the capacity for faith. Ross is simply taking the biblical doctrine of justification through faith to an extreme. Most of us recognize that the scripture when speaking of people needing to have a faith response to the gospel, is speaking to *able minded** persons (i.e. people who under the right circumstances, which includes the preconversion work of the Holy Spirit). Those of us who make a distinction between the able minded and those incapable of their own personal faith response, believe that **everyone** is ultimately saved through God’s mercy. As we make this distinction we see this mercy as operating in two different ways. For the able minded, in order for them to be saved, they must have a faith response, and if they do so, then God has mercy on them. For those who are not able minded (babies and the mentally disabled) while they are not saved through their faith response, they are also saved by the mercy of God (in a more direct way, without the instrumentality of faith).

Ross asked:

“According to your premis, infants cannot have faith in Christ but still go to heaven when they die (which is a result of sin by the way). So you must believe that faith in Christ is not necessary for salvation. If not, then how are infants saved?”

Infants (and others such as the mentally disabled) who are incapable of a faith response are saved directly by the mercy of God on them. God is sovereing and can have mercy on whomever He desires to have mercy upon (cf. Romans 9 speaks explicitly and clearly on this).

Johnathan correctly responded:

“Infants are saved (salvation denotes rescue and deliverance) by grace in the redemptive work of Christ achieved at the cross.”

In other words through the direct mercy of God upon them.

Now what I am wondering is why this is not sufficient for Ross. Why is Ross seemingly claiming that every person has to be saved through faith, even when some appear completely incapable of having faith?

Ross asked:

“But if they are not guilty, what are they saved from?”

They, like all who are saved, are saved from being spiritually dead (i..e all are born separated from God due to the sin of Adam, though not gultly of the sin of Adam) and from the effects of sin upon this fallen creation. Paul notes that not only are the redeemed looking for deliverance from sin and its effects, but so is the entire creation (cf. Romans 8).

Jonathan put it even more succintcly:

“Death.”

Bill Mac asked:

“Ross: A 2 second old embryo cannot have faith, not unless the word means something completely different than what we say it means. Are you a Lutheran perchance?”

Ross answered:

“Winner winner chicken dinner! Well done, Bill. You figured me out. I was also once a Southern Baptist.”

That makes me wonder why is an ex-Southern Baptist, who now clearly rejects believer baptism in favor of what I see to be the unbiblical position and false position of infant baptism doing here arguing on this blog?

Bill Mac correctly observed:

“The unborn, infants, and a whole host of other people cannot “confess with their mouths” the Lord Jesus. If you are going to claim that infants and the unborn can have faith, then you are bound by the biblically mandated expression of that faith.”

This is precisely the extreme claim made by those who claim that the able minded versus incapable of having faith distinction is invalid: they have to claim that in some mysterious way, babies and the mentally disabled can and do have personal faith, and so they, like the ordinary able minded persons, are also saved through faith as well.
Bill Mac operating from the able minded versus incapable of having faith distinction then wrote:

“Ross: Well, as I said, I believe those prescriptions are for those who are able to carry them out. No system is perfect and there are always exceptions.”

I agree with Bill Mac, those presriptions that speak of the demand for faith apply only to the able minded. Bill Mac also notes “there are always exceptions”. And that is just it, if the ordinary way of salvation for the able minded person is through faith, and others are incapable of such faith. Then their way of salvation though not through faith, nevertheless still will be by the mercy of God alone.

He added:

“However, it is my understanding that Lutherans believe that baptism is a means of grace which imparts faith to the recipient. So how do the unborn or the born but not baptized infants receive faith?”

And Lutherans such as Ross will answer that it is a mystery.

David later wrote:

“What I am saying is that infants and the mentally handicapped are not guilty and condemned for their sins, because they have no idea what they’re doing. I mean, they have absolutely no idea what they’re doing. They’re not mentally cabable of comprehending sin, God, Heaven, or Hell. Thus, they are not born GUILTY. They are born sinners, though.
The Bible teaches over and over, again, that we will be judged for our own sins…not the sin of Adam. We will give an account of the life we lived.”

I agree with David here and it is apparent he makes the able minded versus not capapable of having faith distinction as well.

David not understanding Ross’ Lutheran position then asked:

“So, you have to believe that all infants and the mentally handicapped go to Hell, forever, to pay for thier sins. Do you really believe that all infants and the mentally handicapped go to Hell? Because, they cannot put thier faith in the Lord. They dont even have the mental ability to know what faith is.
So, you believe they all go to Hell. That’s the only option for you.”

For the Lutheran as they do not make the able minded versus not capable of having faith distinction, posit that God mysteriously gives babies and the mentally disabled faith so that they like the able minded are all saved through faith.

Ross answered:

“No. They are saved by grace alone through faith alone just like all redeemed sinners. Only through Christ’s finished work. No man comes to the Father except through Him.”

Now perhaps here there is a place for some agreement. All are saved (whether able minded or not capable of having faith) “Only through Christ’s finished work.” It is also true that all come to the Father through Christ alone (“No man comes to the Father except through Him.”)

Where we disgree is that Ross maintains that in some mysterious way babies and the mentally disabled are given faith: the rest of us do not agree with this as we believe them to be incapable of faith under any circumstances. Where we also ought to agree is that all are saved through the mercy of God ultimately, whether they are able minded and exercise faith or not able minded and incapable of faith.

David kept pushing Ross on this with:

“Do you not see the error of your statement? Infants and the mentally handicapped cannot put thier faith in Jesus. A fetus cannot put his faith in Jesus. Therefore, according to your reasoning, they go to Hell. They have no hope.”

According to Ross’ reasoning, infants and the mentally handicapped are mysteriously given faith. While I reject that, that is the Lutheran position and seems to be Ross’ position.

Johnathan then added:

“Well, no. Not since Ross creates a private definition of faith, a private mechanism in which the gift of faith is given by God and received by the recipient, and a private revelation that such faith is exercised in the class under discussion the same as everyone else who receives faith. Add this with a healthy dose of belligerent insistence, and he can avoid your conclusion. :)”

I don’t think that Ross has created “a private definition of faith”. What he has done however is to claim that there is “a private mechanism in which the gift of faith is given by God” by which in a mysterious way God gives faith to the babies and the mentally disabled. Johnathan also say of Ross that he has also added “a healthy dose of belligerent insistence”: actually I see Ross as merely being persistent in presenting his Lutheran view. It is a mistaken view, and not persuasive to me and others here.

Which again makes me wonder why is Ross an ex-southern Baptist trying to argue the Lutheran position here at this obstensively Baptist blog???

And regarding attempting to get Ross to reject his position this will be difficult as he is committed to a premise, presupposition that none of our arguments will dissuade him from (i.e. namely that God can and does give to some faith, though they appear to the rest of us as being incapable of having faith). As long as he holds that presupposition you will not convince him of the contrary.

Robert

    Johnathan Pritchett

    Robert,

    Private because Ross hasn’t defined it.

    Bilegerent insistence due to lack of definitions on the one hand, and not answering inquiries on the other, despite being shown the courtesy of having all his inquiries answered by others.

    Good analysis of the thread.

    Cheers,
    JP

      Norm Miller

      Exactly, JP. Those are the reasons we won’t be hearing from him anymore. — Norm

Mary S.

Adam,

You wrote in this article that we cannot agree to disagree on this issue of inherited guilt. Further, you are going to speak at the upcoming John 3:16 conference about this issue, and when asked what you hope will be the result of the conference, you say “unity”.

According to you, we can NOT agree to disagree and yet you think unity will result??

Does this make sense to anyone?????? It is nonsense.

    Adam Harwood

    Mary,

    Thanks for your comment.
    After suggesting that both sides cannot simply agree to disagree, I provided three specific reasons why that is the case.

    Also, my desire is for unity rather than for ignoring a serious theological divide within the SBC. Recall that one Seminary President was willing to label a large group of Southern Baptist statesmen (including two fellow Seminary Presidents) as semi-Pelagians.
    As I mentioned in the Q&A, this issue needs to be discussed.

    Blessings.

    In Him,
    Adam

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