One Man’s Suggestions for Calvinists and Non-Calvinists

April 4, 2013

by Ronnie Rogers

Although I no longer don the Calvinist label, I do continue to recognize the system of thought as an option within historic Christianity as well as Southern Baptist life. Further, I have no interest in personally attacking my Calvinist brothers’ and sisters’ devotion, piety, or love for God and His word, for I do sincerely believe that most Calvinists are truth seekers. I do not wish to expel Calvinists nor to be expelled by them from SBC life, but rather to suggest and take some substantive steps to help all of us know God better. I assume that is what the vast majority of those of us in this discussion truly desire; although, there is obvious disagreement in how to accomplish this quest.

In order to continue to move our discussions toward lucidity in both articulation and understanding of our various theological perspectives, I would like to suggest implementing the following ideas within Southern Baptist life. My suggestions are drawn from my life as a Southern Baptist, which include both the perspective I gained in my years as a Calvinist and now my post-Calvinist reflections. While I view my suggestions as necessary, I also view them as partial and modifiable. I believe that some of the steps should be implemented immediately, while others are clearly long term goals that may take years. I offer my suggestions with no more credentials than being a rather obscure but concerned Southern Baptist.

I trust that if we speak with grace and listen with humility, we can learn from each other. I do genuinely believe that if the following suggestions are not implemented, the future of the SBC may not be as bright as it could be; although, one may easily find sufficient grounds to view my suggestions dismissively since I do seem to have an extraordinarily unimpressive record as a prophet. As a Calvinist, I loved, respected and worked with those who were not, and now that I am no longer a Calvinist, I hold that same love, respect, and desire to work with those who are.

Please consider the following suggestions:

I         Calvinism’s challenge is to face its disquieting realities and unabashedly seek to elucidate them to the masses by speaking clearly, often, and consistently with the full implications of Calvinism.

Disquieting realities are the cold, harsh, inescapable implications and conclusions of consistent Calvinism, which I do not believe comport with the warp and woof of Scripture. I mention only two examples; first, according to Calvinism, God necessarily desires for the vast majority of His creation to burn in hell forever and ever; meaning that the gospel, according to Calvinism, is that God “loves to save some sinners and equally loves to damn most sinners to eternal torment.” To retreat to “it is a mystery,” “God is sovereign,” or “all people deserve hell and to save one is grace” does nothing to assuage this austere understanding of God, which I believe is fundamentally inconsistent with the panoply of Scripture and a biblically balanced view of the attributes of God; second, in Genesis, God commanded Adam not to eat of “the tree of the knowledge of good and evil” (Genesis 2:17); according to Calvinism’s compatible view of man’s nature, which governs the range of choices he has, God did in point of fact desire—not cause—Adam to sin, and this with full knowledge of all of its ensuing torturous horror, of which we are all both perpetrators and sufferers. Both of these concepts are inextricable components of Calvinism and therefore cannot be dismissed by discussing the order of decrees or declaring “mystery.” I appreciate and applaud my Calvinist brothers who shamelessly seek to proclaim these essentials of Calvinism.

I only ask of those who believe Calvinism to be correct, which necessarily entails believing that it pleases God to withhold salvation from more of His humanity than He saves, to please be no more reticent in proclaiming these realities as often, loudly, and consistently as one does the more palatable concepts of Calvinism. At least Calvinists should be as forthright to declare these inescapable conceptions about God as they are to speak of God’s glory, sovereignty, etc., and this without double talk (see definition in next paragraph). Actually, these realities are as much a part of Calvinism’s understanding of the gospel as is “whosoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” In point of fact, the latter is only trivially true in Calvinism since only the unconditionally elected whosoever can indeed be saved.

By double talk, I specifically and only mean, whether meditatively or unmeditatively, thinking, praying, writing, or speaking in such a way that obscures the disquieting realities of Calvinism. This rhetorical practice of many Calvinists makes substantive conversations regarding the essence of Calvinism, so that both Calvinists and those who are desiderative can fully understand these disquieting realities, frustratingly improbable. If a person accepts and clearly and consistently proclaims such realities, then he can be a knowledgeable and consistent Calvinist; however, if one is unwilling to accept and unambiguously proclaim them, he cannot be a consistent Calvinist.

I am not labeling anyone as a double-talker nor is my use of this term intended in any sense to be pejorative but merely descriptive.[1] I only intend to highlight one of the issues that I believe, if left unresolved, dooms the otherwise potential fecundity of our conversations. Additionally, I truly desire to contribute to a more clear understanding of Calvinism so that individuals can make a more informed choice of whether to don the designation Calvinist. Anything less than a total repudiation of dissembling communication on both sides will simply perpetuate beclouding the issue.

Additionally, the inconsistencies of which I speak are not the inconsistencies that are endemic in the frailty of all human ideologies merely because we are human and growing; thus, my concerns cannot be justly dismissed by noting that everyone is inconsistent unless the inconsistencies referred to in others are essentially similar to the inconsistencies I am addressing. To wit, these inconsistencies must include language that obscures or euphemizes the insufferable and inescapable corollaries of their position. Further, I come to this understanding by reading Calvinist’s theologies and commentaries, and listening to their declarations and messages as opposed to basking in Arminianism.

Cont’d. tomorrow, Part II: Non-Calvinists’ challenge …

© 2013 Ronnie W. Rogers

Rogers---Ronnie---Staff-100

Ronnie Rogers is senior pastor of Trinity Baptist Church in Norman, Okla.


[1] For a fuller definition see my book, Reflections of a Disenchanted Calvinist, Glossary of Authorial Terms, (Bloomington, IN: Crossbooks 2012), 152-153.

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Adam Harwood

Pastor Rogers,

Thanks for your irenic but potent post. I appreciate your humility and forthrightness in attempting to address both “sides” of this family discussion. You have correctly identified two “inescapable implications and conclusions of consistent Calvinism.”

I look forward to tomorrow’s post, which addresses Non-Calvinists. Blessings, brother.

In Him,
Adam

Norm Miller

Thank you, Ronnie, for your willingness to speak forthrightly about the Calvinism you abandoned — a decision you made by studying the Bible. — Norm

    Mary S.

    A problem I have with the above article is that by Ronnie’s own definition of “a consistent Calvinist” verifies that Ronnie was never a Consistent Calvinist himself, by his own definition.

    I look forward to reading tomorrow’s article.

      Norm Miller

      Do you have a problem with Ronnie’s ability to study Calvinism and accurately report on it? Just b/c you “have a problem” with what Ronnie wrote doesn’t mean that what he wrote was wrong. Further, Ronnie is not ascribing all these tenets to every Calvinist. Note that he used qualifiers like “many” and “some”, etc.
      But he is saying that what he has written are the necessary implications of Calvinism for ALL who would claim to ascribe to his teachings. — Norm

rhutchin

There are two basic theological systems. They are Universalism and not-universalism. Among the not-universalists are the Calvinists and the Arminians. Dr. Rogers accurately states, “according to Calvinism, God necessarily desires for the vast majority of His creation to burn in hell forever and ever;” This is correct as Calvinism opposes universalism saying that many will be lost forever. Dr. Rogers calls this a “disquieting reality.” OK, Dr. Rogers is an advocate of universalism.

Dr. Rogers then says, correctly, “according to Calvinism’s compatible view of man’s nature, which governs the range of choices he has, God did in point of fact desire—not cause—Adam to sin….” Calvinism says that God was present observing everything that happened in the garden. God had the power to intervene to prevent Adam from sinning and God choose not to do so. In this case, we see that it was God’s desire to allow Adam to freely disobey if that was what Adam wanted. God made His choice “with full knowledge of all of its ensuing torturous horror, of which we are all both perpetrators and sufferers.” There is no mystery here. Does Dr. Rogers want to suggest that God was not aware of the events in the garden or the impacts of Adam’s sin on future humanity?

Dr. Rogers clearly doesn’t like the idea that anyone should be damned or that God would allow Adam, or anyone, to sin knowing what would follow. He can preach that all will be saved and that God is oblivious to man’s sin and the impacts of sin. Is that really what Southern Baptist’s believe?

    Norm Miller

    rhutchin:
    In this statement: “Among the not-universalists are the Calvinists and the Arminians.”, you left out a third group which comprises the majority of Southern Baptists: Traditionalists.
    Your comment puts words in Pastor Rogers’ mouth which, as moderator, I find extremely problematic.
    You have erected a straw man as my first sentence notes, and proceeded to call Ronnie a universalist.
    If you will read his book, I will send you copy. Let me know. I think you will find that you “are not in Kansas, anymore.” — Norm

      rhutchin

      I have read his book.

      However, let’s take the phrase that Dr. Rogers uses, “God necessarily desires for the vast majority of His creation to burn in hell forever and ever.” In context, he seems opposed to this unless I misread him.

      We may quibble about “vast majority” but certainly, there are a great number who will not be saved. So, what does Dr. Rogers mean here? If he agrees that many are lost, then what complaint does he have with the Calvinists?

        Clay G

        speaking for myself, the “necessarily desires” part is what we take issue with!

          rhutchin

          I agree. I also agree with the Universalists on this: If God necessarily desires that all be saved then all will be saved. The Calvinists, objecting to the Universalist conclusion, then take the position that all are not saved thus it cannot be true that God necessarily desires that all be saved.

          The question raised by Dr. Rogers is whether this means that God “necessarily desires” that a “vast majority…burn in hell…” That, I think is a question worth considering.

          However, Dr. Rogers then frames the issue to ask whether “…it pleases God to withhold salvation from more of His humanity than He saves,…” as he sees the Calvinists doing. Yet, this is the complaint made against Calvinism by the Universalists who say that “it DOES NOT please God to withhold salvation from more of His humanity than He saves,…” thus God will save all.

          So, we have Dr. Rogers arguing his case from an Universalist position but, presumably, not arguing as an Universalist. So, what exactly is his complaint against the Calvinists – a technical issue on what Calvinists mean when they say, “God desires”???

            Alan Davis

            The non-hypothetical truth is, hell already has occupants will have more and God knows that and is sovereign over that.

            It is hypothetical to say “all can be saved” when factually all are not at this very moment. Now it is factual none of us know who will and who will not be saved, so we preach the gospel to all men and let God be God.

            Brother Ronnie seems to demand that one who holds to the DoG must hold to Calvinism as he see’s it (completly) and lays it out to be “consistent”. That is not going to happen is not happening right now.

            Alan Davis

            Norm Miller

            rhutchin: If you will agree that God has the power to limit himself, which I believe he does, then can he not also have desires, but limit himself from the satisfaction of them? The problem with some Calvinists is that they make logical jumps that are not theological. — Norm

        Norm Miller

        rhutchin: Your last two sentences will have to be answered by Ronnie. Were I to venture a guess, I would say he takes issue with Calvin’s position that it pleases God to damn some people to hell. However, that is my guess as to what Ronnie meant. — Norm

          rhutchin

          And he would probably cite, Eze 18:23, “Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die? saith the Lord GOD: and not that he should return from his ways, and live?” and then 2 Peter 3:9. However, this is the Universalist argument that God is “not willing that any should perish” and it means exactly that.

          However, don’t Southern Baptists believe that some will perish so that God must be willing that some perish (so long as it is their decision)? So, again we ask, what is Dr. Rogers’ complaint against Calvinism when it affirms this?

          John Wylie

          Rhutchin,

          Very simply we believe that when people go to hell they do so against the will of God. We believe when people sin they do against the will of God.

      Alan Davis

      Norm,

      I am not convinced that the majority of Southern Baptists are “Traditionalists” as described by the statement of the traditionalists. And I know that the majority is not Calvinists either.

      This claim that the majority of Southern Baptist would believe the traditionalist statement may not be as true as some here would have us believe. I can tell you this, when the traditionalists statement was shown after one of our pastors conferences here, none present would have signed it even though there was only 3 Calvinists of any brand there that day.

      Alan Davis

        Norm Miller

        Respectfully, that is your opinion. Would to God Lifeway’s survey would have provided more than a Calvinist/Arminian response. That survey, however, showed that a majority of Southern Baptists had issues with encroaching Calvinism. I can assure that the majority of Southern Baptists would embrace John 1.29 and 1 John 2.2 as reflective of the universal extent of the atonement.
        I did not say that the majority of Southern Baptists would embrace the Traditionalist statement, so don’t put words in my mouth. But I would stand by the statement that more Southern Baptists would embrace the statement than not. And for sure, brother, millions of us would reject that Jesus’ atonement is somehow limited ala Calvinism. And probably 90 or more percent would out-of-hand reject that God takes pleasure in damning folks to hell, as Calvin posits. Do you believe that God takes pleasure in damning people to hell? — Norm

          Alan Davis

          Norm,

          In humanizing God’s feeling I would say He would not take pleasure in damning people to hell, but with His sovereign ability He knows they are headed there and that many are there and that many will be there in the future and He still creates individuals with His perfect knowledge they will be in hell.

          And yes that is my opinion, as is this yours…”you left out a third group which comprises the majority of Southern Baptists: Traditionalists.”

          In order to be a “Traditionalists” I would think one would have to identify what that is and I thought this sight had done so with the “Traditionalist statement”.

          Alan Davis

            Norm Miller

            So, Alan, you are rejecting Calvin’s teaching that God takes pleasure in sending people to hell? — Norm

            Alan Davis

            Yes Norm,

            I am rejecting and have rejected that. I have no problem whatsoever with rejecting points that a man came up with if I can not see it clearly from Scripture. Not that everything one accepts has to be seen clearly as there are obviously some things we all accept that is not seen clearly.

            Alan Davis

Ron F. Hale

Ronnie,
Thanks for your enlightening article; however, I realize that I must temper my thoughts today, because the hammer will be falling on the non-Calvinists in your next article.

I feel that you are correct in pointing out the disquieting realities on “consistent” Calvinism and their inescapable implications and conclusions. For instance, among New Calvinists in the SBC, I do not read very much being shared on the things like reprobation. Calvin said the following:

“We say, then, that Scripture clearly proves this much, that God by his eternal and immutable counsel determined once for all those whom it was his pleasure one day to admit to salvation, and those whom, on the other hand, it was his pleasure to doom to destruction. We maintain that this counsel, as regards the elect, is founded on his free mercy, without respect to human worth, while those whom he dooms to destruction are excluded from access to life by just and blameless but at the same time, incomprehensible, judgment.” (Institutes of the Christian Religion, 3:21:7)

We find some “disquieting realities” here that are cold, harsh, with inescapable implication and conclusions, for instance:

A. According to Calvin, God by his eternal and immutable counsel determined those chosen or elected to salvation.
B. The reprobate (non-elect for salvation) is doomed for destruction.
C. The eternal and immutable counsel of God determines this destruction.
D. God passes by the non-elect, excluding them from his saving will or decree of salvation. Reformed theology calls this “preterition.” It is defined as God’s sovereign passing by of the non-elect, thus excluding them from his decree of salvation.
E. This determination was made by the pleasure of God.
F. The determined destruction of the reprobate is without respect to human worth.

In our SBC “family discussions” I believe these harder issues can and should be discussed — openly, honestly, and with a spirit of seeking the highest good for each other.

Ronnie … can you name one or two people that you would consider as being “consistent” in their Calvinism?

Thanks again for your great work and I fearfully look forward to your next article.

Blessings!

    rhutchin

    Some don’t like me saying this, but when God created the universe, He knew Adam would sin and He knew the names of those who would be saved in the course of time and those who would be cast from His presence at the judgment (however this was to come about).

    Thus, when God created the universe, it was “by his eternal and immutable counsel,” and God thereby “determined those chosen or elected to salvation” and those “doomed for destruction.” So, it must necessarily be true that “The eternal and immutable counsel of God determine[d] this destruction.”

      Norm Miller

      I am glad to see you are embracing determinism. — Norm

      sbcissues

      rhutchin,

      Let me ask you a question with respect to your statement on God’s “eternal and immutable counsel”: did God know also EVERY sin that you and I would EVER commit in our lives? Did He also by His eternal and immutable counsel determine that EVERYONE of those sins come to pass in our hearts and in our lives?

      Just curious.

        Johnathan Pritchett

        I am a Trad and I can say yes. This doesn’t necessitate determinism in the philosophical sense though.
        That His immutable and eternal council has determined they all come to pass, it doesn’t follow that God has pre-scripted us to perform them a la determinism. That is the difference, and it is a big difference. .

        God knows all things, including all our sins, prior to creation. The fact that the universe continues to be upheld by God knowing all that would come to pass demonstrates that He has “determined” beforehand that it indeed come to pass. We know this by virtue of committing a sin, and noticing the universe still hasn’t ended yet, and God knew it would happen beforehand, back in “eternity’s past”.

        That does not mean that God created a deterministic cosmos without freedom. It only means that God foreknew what all would come to pass, and by virtue of bringing this world into existence and continuing to sustain it, these things will come to pass. That doesn’t mean they must come to pass (a la determinism), but only that they will.

        Rhutchin keeps bumping into the modal error of foreknowledge necessitating determinism. If God knows it will be, in his mind, it therefore must by necessity be. This is simply logically fallacious and has been understood to be such for a long time. Certainly he has read this, and simply keeps on insisting anyway, or he needs to read this, and stop embracing irrationality. .

          Norm Miller

          Preach it, Jman. Foreknowledge does not equal determinism. I believe God in his sovereignty is powerful enough to limit himself. While one commentor called that absurd, he did so to evade my question. Further, if foreknowledge equals determinism, then Calvinists must embrace evil as inspired by God. Many are loathe to do this, but it is an implication of their system.
          Did God foreknow Hezekiah would ask for 15 extra years to live? That account says that God changed his mind and granted the years. Who on this planet will tell God he cannot change his mind? Calvin?

    tsfortner

    The “cold, harsh, with inescapable implication and conclusions” are based on Romans 9:19-25.

    19 You will say to me then, “Why does He still find fault? For who resists His will?” 20 On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, “Why did you make me like this,” will it? 21 Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for common use? 22 What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction? 23 And He did so to make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory, 24 even us, whom He also called, not from among Jews only, but also from among Gentiles. 25 As He says also in Hosea, “I WILL CALL THOSE WHO WERE NOT MY PEOPLE, `MY PEOPLE,’ AND HER WHO WAS NOT BELOVED, `BELOVED.’ “

    The Bible says a number of things about me that I don’t like, but I believe them anyway. I don’t like being compared to a clay pot, but my track record indicates that I have more in common with one than I want to admit.

    I’m just glad to be a pot He made for His honorable use.

      Ron F. Hale

      TS,
      As you know, Rom. 9, the parable of the potter is based on Jeremiah 18. The prophet says in v. 8 “If that nation I warned repents of its evil, then I will relent and not inflict on it the disaster I had planned.”

      Why are the “vessels of wrath” objects of wrath? Because they refuse to repent. The unrepentant Israel became a vessel of dishonor, thereby, bringing upon themselves the judgment or wrath of God.

        tsfortner

        Ron, all true. We face the same situation today. Most of the people in church today are unrepentant because repentance isn’t popular and thus, rarely preached. Our day is too much like Jeremiah’s.

        As far as this applied to our current discussion, it strikes me that Scripture teaches both God’s sovereignty and man’s choice. The question is similar to “the chicken and the egg.” So, did Pharoah harden his heart? Exodus says he did. Did God harden Pharoah’s heart? Exodus also says He did. Both are true, Did God harden Pharoah’s hard because Pharoah hardened his own heart? Neither Exodus nor Romans answer that question for us.

        I make no claims to know “the imponderables of God,” as Dr. Criswell said. I take God’s Word at face value because I know the heart and mind of God well enough to believe in His everlasting trustworthiness. I have no problem with Pharoah hardening his heart, and God making it harder at the same time, before or later. He has a right to do with His creation as He sees fit.

        Does God change His plan in order to adapt it to our behaviors and rebellions against Him. If you look at this from our perspective, then it appears that He does. If you look at it from His eternal vantage point, then, no because His plan was settled in eternity past. The mistake the Open Theists made was to confuse those two perspectives, and we must be careful not to repeat their error.

          Johnathan Pritchett

          “Both are true, Did God harden Pharoah’s hard because Pharoah hardened his own heart? Neither Exodus nor Romans answer that question for us.”

          That actually isn’t the case. Go look at the Hebrew. There are three different words used for “hardened”, and they each have different meanings. Exodus does answer this, and Paul’s echo in Romans demands we take the full understanding with us when he points us back to something (Paul isn’t a gratuitous proof-texter in the way Evangelicals often are, like people used to simply assume before the hard work was done).

          So if God says He will X Pharaoh’s heart, but a passage says Pharaoh Y’d his heart OR Pharaoh’s heart was Y’d or Z’d, then even if it is passive it isn’t a “divine passive”.

          Only when it says the Lord X’d, Y’d, or Z’d, or Pharoah’s heart was X’d (in which we can understand divine passive here because X corresponds to what God initially said He would do” is God doing it.

          Go look it up. I’d do all the work for you, and have this already typed up on a document, but that would take all the fun out of you digging in the Bible.

JB

Norm,

I would agree with you. I do not think that Pastor Rogers is espousing universalism. But, I do wonder what the other option is?

“according to Calvinism, God necessarily desires for the vast majority of His creation to burn in hell forever and ever; meaning that the gospel, according to Calvinism, is that God “loves to save some sinners and equally loves to damn most sinners to eternal torment.” To retreat to “it is a mystery,” “God is sovereign,” or “all people deserve hell and to save one is grace” does nothing to assuage this austere understanding of God, which I believe is fundamentally inconsistent with the panoply of Scripture and a biblically balanced view of the attributes of God”

It may not be as pleasant to view God’s sovereignty in this way, but what is the opposing view…that God is unaware of who will be in hell? Or that no one will be in hell?

Max

“… double talk … that obscures the disquieting realities of Calvinism … I appreciate and applaud my Calvinist brothers who shamelessly seek to proclaim these essentials of Calvinism.”

Amen, Brother Rogers! There is too much argumentative “Is that what God said?” mumbo-jumbo when it comes to this debate. Much has been said in the blogosphere about the stealth and deception employed by some young, restless and reformed pastors in the New Calvinism movement. And too much has been said about dishonesty in pulpit search committee interviews, with church members subsequently caught unaware of the theological leaning of new pastors until “reform” begins to unfold.

While I don’t agree with the tenets of Calvinism, I do respect ministerial integrity on both sides of this fence. Whatever you believe, proclaim it with boldness and clarity … don’t cover it with the shroud of “mystery”! I doubt that God likes inconsistency in any of our testimonies since He is consistently Truth. It would really be nice if leadership in the 45,000+ SBC churches would spend some “family time” with their flock to express their views on this matter and express where they stand personally. An informed pew could then exercise their free will to follow. Just tell me who you are – you’ll always know who I am.

Ben Simpson (@JBenSimpson)

Ronnie,

I find it incredibly ironic that you “truly desire to contribute to a more clear understanding of Calvinism so that individuals can make a more informed choice of whether to don the designation Calvinist,” but say something as patently false as “the gospel, according to Calvinism, is that God ‘loves to save some sinners and equally loves to damn most sinners to eternal torment.'” You’ve just wrongly characterized your brothers and sisters and actually obscured the discussion instead elucidating it as you had hoped.

Your statement is like me saying that the gospel according to Traditionalists (have I mentioned how much I hate that label but will play the game?) is “God has provided the means of salvation and loves to see sinners save themselves through it.” That would be wrong for me to say, and it’s equally wrong to say what you said.

Brother, if you really want to go forward together, I would say that both sides need to go the extra length to describe the other side’s position as that side would describe it.

    Norm Miller

    Ben: The irony you see is imagined. No irony here at all, at least on Ronnie’s part. Now, perhaps Ronnie’s use of the word “love” was too strong. But, as Ron Hale’s post indicates from Calvin’s own hand, God takes pleasure in damning some to hell. This is no mis-characterizartion by Ronnie Rogers, unless Calvin mis-characterized his own position himself.
    Allow me to refresh your memory:
    Ron Hale, citing Calvin:
    “‘We say, then, that Scripture clearly proves this much, that God by his eternal and immutable counsel determined once for all those whom it was his pleasure one day to admit to salvation, and those whom, on the other hand, it was his pleasure to doom to destruction (emph. added)….'”
    (Institutes of the Christian Religion, 3:21:7)
    There it is, Ben, in the King’s English: God takes pleasure in damning some to hell. You can’t deny that, you must own it of you claim to be a Calvinist. The irony, here, is that you see irony where there is none. And, ironically, you do what you accuse Ronnie of doing, and that is you have mis-characterized Ronnie and Calvin.
    Going forward, you should do as you have advised Ronnie to do, and that is to (your words): “… go the extra length to describe the other side’s position as that side would describe it.”
    Ronnie described Calvin’s position accurately, and you have castigated him for it. As moderator, I’d be grateful if you wouldn’t do that. — Norm

    Ben Simpson (@JBenSimpson)

    Norm,

    I appreciate you pointing out once again that you are moderator, but you missed my point. My point was not concerning God taking pleasure in electing and reprobating. Furthermore, I’m not sure I would agree with Calvin, seeing that I am an infralapsarian and see election only up to heaven and never down to hell. Furthermore, I’m not a follower of Calvin but the Bible. I’d have to have more context there from Calvin’s quote to know if it agrees with the Bible or not.

    My point was that when Ronnie says “the gospel, according to Calvinism, is that God ‘loves to save some sinners and equally loves to damn most sinners to eternal torment,” he is patently false and mischaracterizes his brothers and sisters. THAT IS NOT THE GOSPEL THAT WE HISTORICAL SOUTHERN BAPTISTS HOLD. The Gospel to us is: Jesus lived, died, and rose again so that every sinner who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.

    I would appreciate that as moderator, you would help your authors represent the other side accurately. Thank you.

      Norm Miller

      You have indicated one of the problems, Ben. Calvinists are not consistent, meaning that you, as a Calvinist, hold a different view of election/reprobation than other Calvinists. And when someone like Ronnie points to what Calvin himself espoused, then the universal inconsistency among Calvinist factions is displayed when some say, “You are wrongly characterizing me!”
      So for you to say, as you did to Ronnie: “You’ve just wrongly characterized your brothers and sisters and actually obscured the discussion instead elucidating it as you had hoped”, then you are inaccurate, Ben. And, you have wrongly characterized Ronnie.
      Better for you to have said that he wrongly characterized “some” partial Calvinists, if there are such things. (I recall that one brother completely dismissed Ronnie as being a former Calvinist since, because Ronnie was a 4-pointer, he was never a Calvinist at all.)
      I will be happy to help other “authors represent the other side accurately,” as you said. Problem is, which side? There are so many among you Calvinists.
      You said, “The Gospel to us is …”
      Who is us?
      I am glad to see you believe “Jesus lived, died, and rose again so that every sinner who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” You sound like a Traditionalist.
      (Here’s a tip: Typing in all CAPS is considered shouting.) — Norm

        Ben Simpson (@JBenSimpson)

        My caps meant no shouting. I wasn’t sure if html bold code works here. Just trying to draw attention to what I felt was misrepresented. Thanks.

          Norm Miller

          That’s it, Ben? I’ve asked you several questions. I hope you will answer them. — Norm

            Norm Miller

            Ben: You said you are an infralapsarian but not a Calvinist? Are you an Arminian infralapsarian or Traditionalist infralapsarian? — Norm

            Ben Simpson (@JBenSimpson)

            Norm, I never said what you’re attributing to me. First, I said that I’m an infralapsarian unconditional electionist, which is a position inside the larger umbrella of what is typically called Calvinistic soteriology. Then I said that I’m not a follower of Calvin. I’m a follower of the Bible. My goal is not to be beholden to Calvin’s teaching. Where we agree, I’m glad to do so, but where I see the Bible take me differently, I’m glad to as well.

              Norm Miller

              You explained that the “us” in “the gospel to us is…” would be Calvinistic brethren. Thus, that makes you a self-proclaimed Calvinist. However, your Calvinistic brethren demand you hold to 5 points or the whole system crumbles. How, then, can you be a Calvinist? — Norm

            Ben Simpson (@JBenSimpson)

            Norm, I don’t understand you question because 5-point Calvinists can be infralapsarian as well.

        Alan Davis

        “I am glad to see you believe “Jesus lived, died, and rose again so that every sinner who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

        I too believe this, but unlike the Traditionalists I don’t believe that faith is merely and act of man but God wrought and gifted.

        Alan Davis

          Norm Miller

          Then, Alan, you are indeed like Traditionalists. Perhaps unlike you, however, we do not believe that regeneration precedes faith. — Norm

        Ben Simpson (@JBenSimpson)

        Norm,

        1) Please don’t act like nonCalvinism, which Rogers is addressing along with Calvinism, is monolithic while Calvinism isn’t. The Traditional Southern Baptists may be more monolithic, but that’s fairly easy with less than a 1,000 signatories.

        2) Ronnie mischaracterized Calvin and all Historic Southern Baptists when he said that the gospel, according to Calvinism, is that God loves to save some sinners and equally loves to damn most sinners to eternal torment. That’s not the gospel Calvin held to and neither do I. If you won’t cede that it was a mischaracterization, then you are joining in the mischaractization.

        3) The “us” I was referring to when I said “The Gospel to us is…” was Calvinistic brethren in general and Historic Southern Baptists in particular.

        4) You said, “I am glad to see you believe ‘Jesus lived, died, and rose again so that every sinner who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’ You sound like a Traditionalist.” Now, it’s beginning to sink in. We hold the same gospel, Norm.

          Norm Miller

          Ben:
          I am not ‘acting’ like anything. Stay on topic, Ben.

          1) …. but that’s fairly easy with less than a 1,000 signatories.
          I think that the number of signatures may demographically represent millions of Southern Baptists.

          2) Ronnie mischaracterized Calvin and all Historic Southern Baptists when he said that the gospel, according to Calvinism, is that God loves to save some sinners and equally loves to damn most sinners to eternal torment. That’s not the gospel Calvin held to and neither do I. If you won’t cede that it was a mischaracterization, then you are joining in the mischaractization.
          You are flat wrong about this Ben. Whereas you may not hold to Ronnie’s description, you cannot deny Calvin’s own writings when he said that God takes pleasure in the damning of souls to hell. YOU are wrongly characterizing Calvin, not me and not Ronnie.

          3) The “us” I was referring to when I said “The Gospel to us is…” was Calvinistic brethren in general and Historic Southern Baptists in particular.

          This is a bit of a surprise, b/c you said you don’t follow Calvin, but follow the Bible. What shall we say about a man who denies following Calvin but follows Calvinism?

          4) You said, “I am glad to see you believe ‘Jesus lived, died, and rose again so that every sinner who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’ You sound like a Traditionalist.” Now, it’s beginning to sink in. We hold the same gospel, Norm.
          Maybe we do hold to the same gospel, but I doubt it. Here’s why. Did Jesus die for the sins of the whole world, Ben? If you say no, then we do not hold to the same Gospel. Yours is a Gospel limited to the elect. — Norm

          Ben Simpson (@JBenSimpson)

          Norm,

          1) I think that the number of signatures may demographically represent millions of Southern Baptists. Let’s deal with facts, Norm.

          2) You are flat wrong about this Ben. Whereas you may not hold to Ronnie’s description, you cannot deny Calvin’s own writings when he said that God takes pleasure in the damning of souls to hell. YOU are wrongly characterizing Calvin, not me and not Ronnie. Norm, I have never even tried to deny that Calvin said that God takes pleasure in the damning of souls to hell. N-E-V-E-R. I did deny, however, and still do that Calvin had the gospel in mind when he was asserting that God takes pleasure in the damning of souls to hell. Show me where Calvin said that that was the gospel. Rogers mischaracterized him and Calvinists in general. But again, even if Calvin did somewhere say that God taking pleasure in the damning of souls to hell, he would be wrong.

          3. This is a bit of a surprise, b/c you said you don’t follow Calvin, but follow the Bible. What shall we say about a man who denies following Calvin but follows Calvinism? Norm, this is like Theology 101. “Calvinism” is a theological label. It doesn’t mean that I’m a disciple of Calvin. In fact, I’ve read very little of what he’s written. I’ve read a lot of the Bible though, in fact all of it several times, and there I see what has generally been given the theological shorthand “Calvinism.”

          4. Maybe we do hold to the same gospel, but I doubt it. Here’s why. Did Jesus die for the sins of the whole world, Ben? If you say no, then we do not hold to the same Gospel. Yours is a Gospel limited to the elect. Norm, the extent of the atonement does not change the gospel. Every person who believes on Jesus is atoned for and saved.

            Norm Miller

            Ben:
            1. Will you deny that the near 900 who signed the TS are not representative of a greater number of Southern Baptists? If so, argue with the actuarians and the demographers, not me.
            2. How does God take pleasure in electing some to hell if the Gospel is not involved? To say Calvin does not have the Gospel in mind here (as you define the Gospel) is a misrepresentation of Calvin. Additionally, those that Calvin said God is pleased to send to hell are those who rejected the Gospel. You cannot separate the gospel from Calvin’s statement.
            3. You consider yourself among the Calvinist brethren. You noted to wingfooted1 your “Calvinism.” State it outright, Ben, if you are or are not a Calvinist.
            4. There it is Ben, your words and your denial of John 1.29 and 1 John 2.2: “Every person who believes on Jesus is atoned for and saved.”
            John 3.16 often is called the gospel in a nutshell. That verse, as you know, states that Jesus died for the sins of the world. You therefore cannot separate the extent of the atonement from the Gospel itself unless you do as Piper, et al, does in superimposing a theological system on top of biblical exegesis and say that cosmos means eklektos.

            Ben Simpson

            1) Actuarians and demographers? LOL! What firm did you guys contract to do the work?

            The fact is that folks were encouraged to sign the TS through a huge internet push and given the opportunity to sign it at the Southern Baptist Convention. Less than a 1,000 put their name to it.

            You can dabble in pronostications, but I’ll stick to the facts.

            2) Show me where Calvin or any Calvinist says, “the gospel is that God loves to save some sinners and equally loves to damn most sinners to eternal torment.” You can’t do it. You and Ronnie are what you believe are implications and putting words in people’s mouths. Please stop.

            3) I’ve already answered that, Norm.

            4) I love your premature triumphalism! But, no, brother, I’ve not denied any Scripture. Is it not true that every person who believes on Jesus is atoned for and saved? Absolutely that’s true whether you are a universal or particular redemptionist.

              Norm Miller

              Ben: Put your hands up and step away from the keyboard!

              Norm Miller

              Are not John 1.29; 3.16; and 1 John 2.2 true? I do not reject that all who repent and believe have their sins atoned for. Otherwise they would not be saved.
              But that’s where propitiation ends for you. If you want to limit the atonement in that way, so be it. But will you answer this question: Is Jesus the propitiation for the sins of the “whole world”?
              You see, Ben, you have done as others do — ducked my question by posing a different one in an attempt to deflect the propriety and validity of my initial question. Great as a debate tactic, but poor for the purpose of advancing a discussion. And perhaps you think that if I answer yes to your question, then the matter is closed. Something is closed, alright. As we have ‘jousted’ on this blog from time to time, you have left many of my questions unanswered. — Norm

                Norm Miller

                So I’ve got 4 quarters in my pocket, and I walk by 4 homeless guys who are lazing the day away, in the shade, leaning against a chain link fence. I stop several feet away from the men, still jingling the coins, looking at them, then looking at the men. Mine is an obvious but unspoken offer of money to some guys who need money. One guy comes up and asks, “Do you have a quarter?” I give him a quarter. Then another guy — same thing. The two guys with quarters go and tell the other two that I have money. But, for whatever reason, the other two choose not to repond to my unspoken offer, or to respond to the information from their counterparts that I have money.
                I had enough money to be ‘efficacious’ for all the homeless, but my money was ‘efficient’ for only two of them.

            Ben Simpson

            Norm,

            I’m afraid what has happened, as it usually does with you, is that when I answer your question, you basically ignore my answer and just ask another question. I can never answer them all because they never stop.

              Norm Miller

              I have to ask you repeatedly b/c you either do not answer, or you evade the point of my question by diverting to another question of your own. Why is that? — Norm

            Mary

            It’s amusing that when Calvinists get a “win” at the annual SBC meeting it’s portrayed as Southern Baptist have decided! But 900 signatures on a doctrinal statement are nothing.

              Norm Miller

              Yes, Mary, and it is head-shakingly unbelievable that at least one on this blog believes that those who signed the TS are representative of themselves only, thus denying actuarial and demographical theory and principles. Such sad ostrich-ism that is. — Norm

            Alan Davis

            Norm,

            You said; “I think that the number of signatures may demographically represent millions of Southern Baptists.” That may be true, and it may not. If there are millions more than the 900, then why didn’t they sign it since it was offered on line in several places and at the convention. here is a way to prove it. Put the statement back out in every avenue available and lets see how many sign it. There may well be a million or 2 but even if it was say 6 million that wouldn’t be the “majority” of SB as is claimed by the trads.

            Alan Davis

              Norm Miller

              Alan: I have spent the last 30 minutes or so trying to gather the gumption to reach for my iPad so I could tell you there are some notions that hardly dignify a response. Have a nice night. — Norm

        Chad

        I am not interested in being a part of the give and take in this discussion, but only to offer a perspective on your comment to Ben, Norm. When you speak of Calvinists not being consistent or not agreeing with each other on the specifics of election, this should come as no surprise. What is called Calvinism is more rightly denominated Augustinianism, since that church father elucidated this set of ideas (unconditional election) 1100 years before Calvin wrote the first edition of The Institutes.

        Calvin and the other Reformers, including Luther by the way, revived Augustine’s doctrine of unconditional election, but they each handled it differently. Zwingli argued in a deterministic way that election should be understood within an understanding of God’s providence, thus removing almost any notion of human freedom. Luther did much the same in his book The Bondage of the Will. Calvin actually held to a doctrine of the free agency of man, but with Augustine held that unredeemed persons have a limit to their freedom since they are in bondage to their sin, a bondage that can only be broken by the Spirit through the Word.

        Calvin held to a strong doctrine of double predestination. Augustine did not. Many modern “Calvinists” are closer to Augustine than they are to Calvin on this issue, such as R C Sproul and James Montgomery Boice. Why? Because they are first and foremost biblicists, and only secondarily “Calvinists.” I think you would argue that this is the case with Traditionalists, so you ought not to be surprised that Ben and others who are more closely aligned with the Augustinian interpretation would make the claim that they do not woodenly follow John Calvin, or any other teacher not inspired by the Holy Spirit.

        I for one appreciate the effort on this forum and others to bring about a genuine conversation on these issues. On the other hand, I wish at times that we could all just agree to love Jesus and win people to him in the way that we see Scripture telling us to do that without beating up on each other. Most Augustinians love the Lord, love the Bible, love the lost, and love the church. Most non-Augustinians (call them Traditionalists if you like) love the Lord, love the Bible, love the lost, and love the church. We have more in common than we have in distinction. For one thing, most of us also love the SBC. I know I do.

        Chad

      wingedfooted1

      Ben,

      You said… “The Gospel to us is: Jesus lived, died, and rose again so that every sinner who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

      I have no problems with that description (though I would add John 3:16-17), but having a tuned calvinistic ear, I understand the underlying, and perhaps misleading, implication.

      For instance, calvinists will say “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15). True. However, what they really mean is “Christ Jesus came into the world to save some sinners”.

      I maintain that not one soul has ever been added to the kingdom of Christ thru calvinism. What I mean by that is a calvinist will quote 1 Timothy 1:15 to a lost soul and wait for his or her response. Once the lost sinner repents and accepts thru faith what Christ did for him or her on the cross, it is then and only then, that he or she is exposed to calvinism (TULIP).

      Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 4:2….

      “Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God.”

      Our Lord said in Matthew 10:27 “What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the roofs.”

      In regards to calvinism, the Lost are kept in the dark since calvinism is never proclaimed from the roof tops. Calvinism is only taught to the saved.

      God bless, brother.

        Ben Simpson (@JBenSimpson)

        wingfooted1,

        Here’s the problem you and many along with you are having: you are confusing Calvinism/nonCalvinism and the gospel. There’s not a 1:1 correlation. As I said above, the gospel is “Jesus lived, died, and rose again so that every sinner who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” The depravity of man, the nature of election, the extent of the atonement, the effectiveness of God’s calling, and the security of salvation are secondary issues. Yes, I know that the Calvinist Charles Spurgeon said “Calvinism is the gospel,” but he was making the same error that you are.

        Therefore, your nonCalvinism is not the gospel, and neither is my Calvinism. Therefore, I don’t have to proclaim my Calvinism from the rooftops to preach the gospel with integrity. However, once that person has received the gospel in faith, they need to be discipled to understand that God gets complete credit for their salvation and endurance. In other words, they need to be discipled in the biblical Doctrines of Grace.

          wingedfooted1

          Ben,

          But if one is going to be eternally damned, isn’t he or she not entitled to the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth? How can the calvinistic doctrine of “limited atonement” be a “secondary issue” to the Lost in regards to their salvation?

            Ben Simpson

            Because even conditional election lists should hold to particular atonement.

            Johnathan Pritchett

            Nah…I think using words like “limited”, “unlimited”, “general”, “particular” etc. in regards to the atonement is the wrong way to frame a discussion on the atonement. Neither actually comprehend what atonement is and how it functions.

            I mean, for Paul, the primary (but certainly not only) emphasis was God condemned sin (singular) in the flesh of Jesus, for the other authors, the primary (but certainly not only) emphasis was that Jesus took away sins (plural). People try to over-theologize these two aspects, the condemnation of sin and the taking away of sins, but it really is just a function of the rhetoric. The former sense makes the latter sense possible and appropriate, so speaking of both is appropriate.

            The best this discussion yields in agreement, when cast in such opposites between the two sides is the sufficient/efficient distinction…but that is just a truism. Working from the truism that it is sufficient for everyone without exception but only efficient for the believers, we can draw true conclusions from that agreement.

            As such, the best way to understand this from the Biblical perspective (and ANE perspective in general) is a positional atonement which is indeed a penal substitution and yet corporate in its function and outworking. That is certainly the model we find foreshadowed in Torah, and there is little reason to make Christ’s atonement dissimilar in function than that which pointed to it. .

tsfortner

One simple point, and I promise to never be confrontational or abusive, as some say my Calvinist brethren have been:

Historically, we as Southern Baptists have stated that we believe that the cross was always God’s plan to redeem fallen mankind. We have also stated that we believe that this plan was finalized in eternity past, accomplished in time, for the completion of the body of Christ in the glorious future. Thus, Jesus is “the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world” (Revelation 13:8). If the cross was always God’s Plan A, and God is always able to pull of Plan A without exceptions, then Calvinists represent the most consistent group in agreement with Scripture and with our Confessions of Faith. All three of our Baptist Faith and Message confessions have been clear on this.

Current attempts to moderate our Confessions in a Semi-Pelagian direction (Classical Arminians don’t argue for free will, but that the bondage of the will is limited to allow the free exercise of faith when the Holy Spirit enables the human will to do so) are leading us in a Open Theism direction. This is dangerous ground and care must be exercised to prevent us from returning to the battles of the past. Both Open Theism and Semi-Pelagianism have been correctly identified as heresy, and our new discussions of free will will force us to reopen those discussions as well. We may find Clark Pinnock becoming the champion of the Conservatives in the SBC again (tongue in cheek).

Understand that I believe that this discussion is healthy and good for both sides, as it clarifies mushy thinking and forces us to examine all our preconceived notions. But let us not blindly accept “the freedom of the will” without all the heretical baggage that goes with it. Luther’s “Bondage of the Will” was 4 times the length of Erasmus’s tome because the bulk of Scripture points to our wills being “dead in trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1).

Serving the Savior,
Tom Fortner

    Norm Miller

    With all due respect, Tom, Luther was a grog-swilling, racist, masogynist. I am free from his ‘Bondage.’ Further, the number of pages is inconsequential; content is what matters. Further still, Dr. Allen has previously posted (see his John 3.16 post) numerous biblical citations of what so-called “spiritually dead” people can do, spiritually. The argument, therefore, is with the content of Scripture. — Norm

    sbcissues

    Tom,

    You wrote: “Current attempts to moderate our Confessions in a Semi-Pelagian direction (Classical Arminians don’t argue for free will, but that the bondage of the will is limited to allow the free exercise of faith when the Holy Spirit enables the human will to do so) are leading us in a Open Theism direction.”

    No one that I read is guilty of “attempts to moderate our confessions in a Semi-Pelagian direction.” That is a pitifully poor attempt to cloud the discussion. I am familiar with the idea that one who does not accept total depravity and inability MUST be Pelagian but that simply is not true. No Southern Baptist that I have dialogued with even comes close to saying that we believe man has the ability to take the first step toward God and God completes the deal. I also realize that there have been additional concepts thrown in the mix where Pelagianism is concerned and I am by no means an expert on all that the Pelagian tenets include. But, in all fairness as I have read about their positions, that pretty much implifies the position.

    ALL Southern Baptists believe that it is God who has taken the first step to reconcile the world unto Himself… so personally… it does not matter what a Pelagian believes; it is impossible for a man to take the first step toward God since God has already done that. Cloud that any way one wants to but to me that says all that needs to be said about any Pelagian issue.

    The differences between the Calvinist and non-calvinist position deals exclusively with the responsibility of or the lack thereof of man’s responsibility in choosing his eternal destiny. Your conjecture that any move from calvinism by necessity is a move toward open theism is equally problematic and rather simpleminded in my opinion.

      tsfortner

      Guys, my point is that the “Statement of the Traditional Southern Baptist Understanding of God’s Plan of Salvation” clearly states that those who agree with it are not Calvinists. OK, not everyone in the SBC, historically or today, was or is in agreement with Calvinism. That’s fine. But you need to go further than to say, “Here’s why we’re not Calvinists.” Follow me carefully and I think you will agree with what I suggest.

      The bondage of the will vs. the freedom of the will is not a new theological topic. Pelagius was condemned as a heretic by the Council of Carthage (418 A.D.) because he believed in autonomous free will. You need to explain what you believe and why you disagree with Pelagius. You also need to explain what you believe about Semi-Pelagianism and why what you believe is different. Simply saying “we are not Semi-Pelagians” doesn’t clarify anything. This will greatly enhance the discussion.

      Second, you need to define the line between man’s will and God’s will clearly and document that what you believe is not the limited God of Open Theism. This will be much harder than the first task because we bring our experiences into our theology and it colors how we read God’s Word. If man has an unlimited free will (I don’t think you really believe man does) and God is omniscient and omnipotent, how can God’s will be truly unlimited? This is the problem both Process Theology and Open Theism attempt to resolve, and fail to do so, in my humble opinion. It is the theological fruit of Kant’s axiom, “Ought implies can.” I disagree with Kant’s axiom, but then, I’m a Calvinist.

      Please understand that I make no accusations toward any of my Baptist brethren of any heterodoxy through this discussion (I don’t know any truly Semi-Pelagians or Open Theists). It’s just how good theological statements have always been composed. I am fully convinced we can do this without name calling with God’s mercy, and I am convinced it will lead to greater understanding of our theological positions. The “Statement” opens a much larger door than just the old Calvinism debates because of the changes in theology (not necessarily advancements) caused by Enlightenment thought and how it has replaced Reformation thought in the West and, especially, in America.

      The ball is in your court. Are you up on your game?

      Serving the Savior,
      Tom Fortner

        Norm Miller

        Tom:
        I have read several definitions of Pelagianism, and I am not a Pelagian. I do not reject the tenet of original sin, but would disagree with you and Calvin as to who is guilty of it. I take the biblical position, and Adam Harwood best articulates that for me.
        So, am I a semi-Pelagian? No. Again, I read several definitions, and I found this one to be an amalgam of the rest:

        “Semi-Pelagianism is a weaker form of Pelagianism a heresy derived from from Pelagius who lived in the 5th century A.D. and was a teacher in Rome. Semi-Pelagianism (advocated by Cassian at Marseilles, 5th Century) did not deny original sin and its effects upon the human soul and will. But, it taught that God and man cooperate to achieve man’s salvation. This cooperation is not by human effort as in keeping the law, but rather in the ability of a person to make a free will choice. The semi-Pelagian teaches that man can make the first move toward God by seeking God out of his own free will and that man can cooperate with God’s grace even to the keeping of his faith through human effort. This would mean that God responds to the initial effort of person and that God’s grace is not absolutely necessary to maintain faith.”

        I reject that anyone makes the first step of salvation toward God, and I know no Trad who would agree with Pelagian in this regard. So, for Mohler to call two other seminary presidents heretics is outlandish, uncalled for, and I believe unchristian. I know of not a single soul who signed the Trad statement who would reject original sin or say that a person makes the first step to God in salvation. So, the charges of either Pelagianism or semi-Pelagianism are completely unfounded. Calvinists need to stop this unfounded accusation of Trads, and Mohler needs to apologize. He had an opportunity to do so recently when Baptist Press approached him on the matter, and an anonymous spox from SBTS said Mohler declined.

        I do not believe it is accurate to say one is a semi-Pelagian who believes that man’s will is free enough to reject God’s offer of salvation. God’s offer presupposes a response. However, I believe like all other Trads I know that God is the one who makes the first move. No one wakes up one morning and says, “I think I will become a Christian today.” God is the initiator, not man. — Norm

          Mary S.

          Amen Norm! Trads are neither Pelagian nor semi-Pelagian. I believe that.

          Mary S.
          (the semi-Calvinist)

          tsfortner

          Yea, this is real progress! We’re back to the lunch table on the 10th floor of Spurgeon-Harris. Well done, Norm. Neither of us has a black eye after this exchange. ;^)

          I want to take some time to reread your statements, but I don’t see how I could disagree with you. As I’ve said before, we are brothers in Christ and this is a family discussion.

          When you have time to think carefully (hard to do in today’s busy world), please write about the differences between the Trad position and the Open Theist position on the limits of man’s will and God’s will. This is the key issue we face as we discuss this together, and with those who accept the error of Open Theism. Knowing your skills as a writer, I suspect that you will be composing an additional article worthy of attachment to the “Statement.” In my humble opinion, it is one of two additions that are badly needed.

          BTW, this will be the point where definitions will be difficult and clear lines will be hard to draw (initially). The fact that we may disagree on some of the details will sharpen both our thought processes and possibly change our minds about what we believe to be true. It might hurt a little, but God will be honored by it (I believe).

          I’m grateful to God I can call you my friend for some 25 years now.

          Serving the Savior,
          Tom Fortner

            Norm Miller

            This is progress???
            You haven’t changed. You are still the same staunch Calvinist you always have been. ;^>
            I am sure you are still the same compassionate brother you have always been, too.
            You may need to remind me to dig deeper into open theism. I know who I am theologically. I just may not yet know how some would label me.
            Hundreds were wrongly and wrongfully labeled as semi-pelagian by Al Mohler. I would not want to be labeled wrongly again, and in saying that I dont assume you are doing that to me.
            BTW: Going riding in the North Ga Mtns this weekend on my nonharley Honda Shadow. Enjoy your Hog, flatlander! — Norm

            tsfortner

            Cramming in a reply where I can …

            Open Theism’s god is limited in his omniscience, omnipotence and immutability. His will is also limited and frequently frustrated by the bad behavior of those he created. Open Theism worships a god who intends well but can deliver on only a few, if any, of those intentions. Notice the lower case letters in reference to Open Theism’s god because he isn’t big enough to fill in an upper case letter (he doesn’t really exist).

            This is where our discussion about God’s will and man’s will can find opportunity to 1) clarify our position on the differences between Open Theism’s definition of the will of god and Biblical Christianity’s definition of the will of God, and 2) The difference between Biblical Christianity and fatalism. I’ve heard a few Calvinists describe Predestination like fatalism and the will of man like a robot, but this isn’t what Classic Calvinists believe and certainly isn’t Biblical.

            So, 1) we agree that there is only one truly unlimited Will in the universe. He is capable of exercising His will to the point of creating ex nihilo simply by His Will. His Will is everlasting and unchanging (immutable). He is unlimited by time and space and sees all of both time and space as “one eternal now.” Thus, He is fully capable of formulating His plan once and executing it perfectly the first time. Also, 2) we agree that each of us has a limited power of choice because God created us in His image. Our power of choice is limited by a) our nature, as we are not omniscient, omnipotent or immutable – being made in the image of God doesn’t make us God, and b) limited by our fallenness, as our intellect and motives are now twisted and distorted by our sinfulness. Every aspect of our wills are marred by sin, and exercising our wills reveals our sinfulness.

            As I see it, the only real disagreement we have on this topic is the limit of our power of choice. We agree it is limited, just not how much it is limited. Can we begin our discussion at this point?

            And I told my Harley not to spit oil at your Honda. ;^)

            Serving the Savior,
            Tom Fortner

              Norm Miller

              Busy as well.

              You noted: “Open Theism’s god is limited in his omniscience, omnipotence and immutability.”

              ‘Nuff said. That doesn’t describe a biblical view of God — nor mine.

              You are right that our difference regards the extent of ‘free will’ as it is called. Probably not the best term. But it suffices for the discussion, I think. However, I don’t think we can start with the human side of this matter. Let’s start with God. I asked this question of one commentor, but he deflected it. Is God not sovereign enough to allow us to choose?

              You wrote: “Every aspect of our wills are marred by sin, and exercising our wills reveals our sinfulness.” Yes, that’s how I see total depravity. It’s not that we are 100 percent depraved to our core, and by that I mean we are not completely evil and, as such, are as evil as we possibly could be; but we are totally depraved in that not one aspect of our being was left untouched by the Fall. (That’s how a Southern Seminary vice president explained it to me when I interviewed for a job there more than a decade ago. In fact, I had to recite all the 5 points and give their definitions in the interview.)

              Now, if I agree with your quote immediately above, then that does not mean that I would share what I think are your Calvinistic presuppositions that seem evident in your quote. If “exercising our wills reveals our sinfulness” then that makes it a sin for me to choose God’s offer of salvation. So, right off the bat, we have an issue with the formulation of your statement as a basis of our discussion.

              You wrote: “As I see it, the only real disagreement we have on this topic is the limit of our power of choice. We agree it is limited, just not how much it is limited. Can we begin our discussion at this point?”

              And I say, no, we probably shouldn’t start there. Let us settle whether God is sovereign enough to hold the universe together AND give me a choice.

              In all of the above, I am not trying to be contentious. But now I am: Good luck keeping your Hog from spitting oil at all. ;->

              — Norm

            tsfortner

            “My free will to reply is limited to the location of the link on this page …” ;^)

            As I suggested before, we have a limited power of choice. Calling it “free will” is not an accurate description, as you rightly pointed out. Even in our fallenness, we are capable of great good, of creating incredible beauty, and at the same time, great misery and incredible brutality. This is the tension each of us feels if we are honest with ourselves and with God. Francis Schaeffer spent several paragraphs in “How Shall We Then Live?” on this very topic. David Allen’s article expands Schaeffer’s paragraphs quite well.

            I agree with you that we should begin with God’s free will, as He is the only one who has and has ever had free will. That was my intention in my last post. Our limited wills are a reflection of His creative genius in us.

            However, when we respond to God’s invitation to salvation, I see no other possibility than our response is marred by our sin, regardless of whether regeneration occurs first or as a response to God’s overtures. The beauty of this is that God really, truly saves us in our sin, from our sin, right where we are. His ability to save is not marred by our inability to respond properly. He saves us first and makes us like Him (sanctifies) over time. So, even when we are at our worst, God is able to save us. It’s just one of those things I find Amazing about Grace.

            In my years as a missionary to both the Mexican border and to biker clubs, I’ve seen plenty of what we would call “improper responses” to God’s call of grace. Rarely do we see a “sinner’s prayer” in the mission field. Confessions of faith are much more common. Yet, over time those lives and families were changed to reflect who Jesus is and what He does when He saves us.

            So, I think we’re at the point of saying that God’s will is free and unlimited and our abilities to choose are limited (I believe they are limited by design and by God’s mercy). So, can you tell me where you think the limit of our ability to choose exists? We can continue from there, maybe?

            Serving the Savior,
            Tom Fortner

              Norm Miller

              “So, can you tell me where you think the limit of our ability to choose exists?”

              No, I can’t. And I’m not being cagey, here. If I could define that, we both could retire! And if you tell me you know the answer, then you are in the wrong job.

              If have to say, Tom, you don’t sound like the Calvinist I once knew — the one who endured my shouting from across the service bays when we worked for Wingtip Couriers in the shadows of I-75 and the skyscrapers of Dallas. I, however, am probably the same jerk you’ve always known and loved.

              Thx. — Norm

                Norm Miller

                BTW, Tom: I don’t want to be pushy, but that you didn’t hear sinner’s prayers on the field doesn’t negate the validity of such. I am not angling, here, for an either/or proposition but a both/and. What people say when in that salvific moment is more a matter of the heart and not the words, IMHO.
                I don’t know if you would recall this, but Dr. Patterson said in one of his (in)famous Lion’s Dens that a lost person could pray the right words with a wrong heart and go to hell; whereas, another could pray the ‘wrong words’ with a right heart and find forgiveness and salvation. — Norm

Ben Simpson (@JBenSimpson)

Ronnie,

On the issue of double-talk, I hope you call out the nonCalvinists as well, who utilize double-talk in claiming that God is sovereign (God is sovereign but leaves it up to mankind) and that salvation is by grace alone (just utilize your naturally-endowed self-determination to receive that grace). Can’t wait for the next post!!

    Norm Miller

    So, Ben, are you saying that God is not sovereign enough to give man a free will? — Norm

      Alan Davis

      I would say God is Sovereign over man’s free will and many times in spite of it too.

        Norm Miller

        Non-sensicial Alan. If God is sovereign “over” man’s free will, then it is not free. However, if in God’s sovereignty he allows free will, then it is free. — Norm

          Alan Davis

          No man makes totally free choices. If it appears to be “non-sensicial” for me to use the term “free will” as I did, I have no problem with that. I just won’t use it but just say God is sovereign in every way. I’m fine with it. I like CH Spurgeon have no problem with the doctrine of God’s Sovereignty and the doctrine of man’s responsibility. And unlike brother Ronnie I don’t have to make the two mesh perfectly in my mind and neither did Spurgeon.

          Alan Davis

      Lydia

      “God willed the free will of men and angels in spite of His knowledge that it could lead in some cases to sin and thence to suffering: i.e., He thought freedom worth creating even at that price….. God gave [humans] free will. He gave them free will because a world of mere automata could never love…”

      “The infinite value of each human soul is not a Christian doctrine. God did not die for man because of some value perceived in him. He loved us not because we are lovable, but because He is love.”

      CS Lewis

      It really is about God’s “hesed” and not a manufactured automan forced love.

        Robert

        Alan wrote:

        “I would say God is Sovereign over man’s free will and many times in spite of it too.”

        Does “Sovereign over man’s free will” that God directly controls each person’s will? If so, we are not human beings we are puppets.

        And how does Alan define “sovereignty”?

        From my study and understanding of the Bible sovereignty refers to the fact that God does as He pleases in any and all situations. And we all acknowledge this to be true for example when we pray for a person is seriously ill. While we know that God could heal the person (he certainly has the power) we also pray for His will (which may or may not be for the person to be healed). In praying in this way we are declaring our belief that God **is** sovereign, that He can and will do as He pleases in this situation. To affirm sovereignty then is to affirm this to be the case and to live as if it is true. At the same time one can affirm this biblical conception of sovereignty (biblical because it is all over the Bible) without affirming exhaustive predestination of all events (as Calvinists do). It is very important to see there is a biblical conception of sovereignty and a Calvinist conception and that they are not the same at all. Bible believing Christians of all stripes believe in and acknowledge and experience God’s sovereignty. But one need not believe in the Calvinistic conception of sovereignty to affirm the reality of God’s sovereignty.

        Alan went on to say:

        “No man makes totally free choices. If it appears to be “non-sensicial” for me to use the term “free will” as I did, I have no problem with that. I just won’t use it but just say God is sovereign in every way. I’m fine with it.”

        So Alan do you believe that when a believer sins they had to do so, that their action of sinning was predestined to occur by God? Or is a believer freely choosing to sin when they sin? Does the believer have the choice to either sin or not sin? Is it up to them whether or not they choose to sin? Does the believer have a choice when temptation comes to either go with the way of escape provided by God or to give into the temptation? Is that a choice that is up to the believer or is it an action that is predestined by God?

        Alan can talk about God being sovereign over our choices and controlling us, but does he really believe that he never ever has any choices? That nothing is up to him under any circumstances? That nothing is freely chosen by him (including his sin when he was a nonbeliever)?

        Alan do you really believe that your every key stroke as you have typed your posts here at SBC today are all predestined by God and that He controls your mind, thoughts, will, body to make sure that what he predestines comes to pass? And if you believe that He controls you in this way, then how are you different from a puppet whose every move is controlled and dictated by a puppet master?

        Robert

          Alan Davis

          Robert,

          You said; “Alan can talk about God being sovereign over our choices and controlling us, but does he really believe that he never ever has any choices? That nothing is up to him under any circumstances? That nothing is freely chosen by him (including his sin when he was a nonbeliever)?

          Alan do you really believe that your every key stroke as you have typed your posts here at SBC today are all predestined by God and that He controls your mind, thoughts, will, body to make sure that what he predestines comes to pass?”

          I said that God is sovereign, to make whatever He desires to come to pass by whatever means He desires and that He sets His own parameters, all of them over His creation which is everything and everyone. I stand by it.

          I also have said in other posts here that I have no problem with the doctrine of sovereignty and man’s responsibility and no problem that I can not make them mesh perfectly from my human perspective. I do have issues with those who thing they have everything perfectly down pat and know what perfect constancy looks like for I believe them to be delusional.

          I do believe that God gives responsibility to man in the environment and with the influences we have. I believe no man makes totally free choices. I do believe that every key stroke was known by God and if known in the past by God then His perfect knowledge was not changed. My key strokes did not surprise Him, He knew long ago what my key strokes would be.

          Alan Davis

            Robert

            Alan wrote:

            “I said that God is sovereign, to make whatever He desires to come to pass by whatever means He desires and that He sets His own parameters, all of them over His creation which is everything and everyone. I stand by it.”

            I agree that God is sovereign and he can “make whatever He desires to come to pass”. I also agree that He sets His own parameters, so for example if He decides to create us with the capacity to have and make our own choices. He is not later going to contradict His own design plan for human persons.

            “I also have said in other posts here that I have no problem with the doctrine of sovereignty and man’s responsibility and no problem that I can not make them mesh perfectly from my human perspective.”

            And non-Calvinists would say the exact same thing, they too believe that God is sovereign and man is responsible for what he chooses to do.

            “I do believe that God gives responsibility to man in the environment and with the influences we have.”

            Does that “giving of responsibility” include giving man his own choices that are up to him to make or not make?

            “I believe no man makes totally free choices.”

            You will need to elaborate about what you mean by “totally free choices”. People have spoken about people acting freely while operating by very different definitions and understandings of what it means to make a free choice. Even those who believe that everything is predestined still speak of people having “free will” or people acting freely, of people being responsible. These words can mean anything and have meant many different things when not well defined.

            “I do believe that every key stroke was known by God and if known in the past by God then His perfect knowledge was not changed. My key strokes did not surprise Him, He knew long ago what my key strokes would be.”

            But that is not saying much. Any Christian (and that includes non-Calvinists, that includes Catholics, that includes Eastern Orthodox: the only group it does not include are open theists and Socinians) affirms that God has foreknowledge of all future events. So if you believe that God has foreknowledge then nothing surprises Him since He knew from eternity what choices you would make (or not make).

            Calvinists go further. For them not only does he foreknow everything, he foreknows everything because He predestined everything (in fact I have sometimes had Calvinists tell me that God only foreknows the future because He ordained it all, which implies that unless he ordained it He cannot know the future).

            I didn’t ask you whether you believed that he foreknew what your key strokes would be (every orthodox Christian believes that): I asked you, and ask again: did he predestine your every key stroke and control you (including controlling your mind, thoughts, will, body) to ensure that what he predestined you would do, you end up doing?

            That is very, very different from asking whether or not you believe that God foreknows everything.

            The fact God foreknows everything is noncontroversial and taken for granted by most Christians across all theological traditions.

            The further claim by Calvinists that he predestines everything and controls everything directly, continuously and completely to ensure that what he ordains comes to pass is the Calvinist invention. It is that invention that most Christians reject.

            Robert

      Donald

      Norm,
      I wonder if the discussion would be helped by clearly defining what we intend when we say “free will”. It seems that there are many who attack the term, and by their attacks they seem to understand something different than what I would mean should I use the term.

    Ben Simpson (@JBenSimpson)

    Norm,

    So, Ben, are you saying that God is not sovereign enough to give man a free will? What a beautiful absurdity in your position! “God is so sovereign He let’s man be sovereign.”

      Norm Miller

      It is a legitimate question that you have dodged, and not so artfully.
      I did not say that God offered sovereignty to men, only the ability of self-determination.
      I find it ironic that you would complain earlier today about being wrongfully characterized, and then you would do the same to me.
      The issue is in defining sovereignty, as Ronnie indicated.
      Will you answer the question, Ben, instead of dodging it? — Norm

William

God, the God of Calvinism or any other orthodox soteriology, is omniscient. He knew how many would choose Him before He created them. He is also omnipotent, having the power to place people where He will. He places people where He will both geographically and historically. God also knew that Christians would be disobedient to the Great Commission, and that Israel was going to be disobedient to the charge to bless the nations. Yet, it is undeniable that God created certain men and placed them in a time and in a place where He knew that, due to the disobedience of Christians and Israelites, they would never hear the message of saving grace. My contention is that Calvinism offers the only soteriology that can properly account for this undeniable reality AND maintain God’s sovereignty. Now, you say that Calvinists are inconsistent if they root God’s choice to punish these sinners in their sin rather than His non-election of them. What then do you root this choice of God to place these sinners when and where He placed them, with the fore-knowledge that He had before the foundation of the world?

volfan007

Ronnie,

Great insight, Bro. I appreciate the insight you have, as a person, who used to be a Calvinist. YOu have insight into this matter that others have no idea about. It’s like with Peter Lumpkins. He used to be a Calvinist, as well. Of course, he is no longer a Calvinist, either.

You know, at one time in my life…back when I was in seminary….I seriously considered becoming a Calvinist. But, as I prayed about it…thought on it…and READ my BIBLE….I just could not adopt this philosophical system; even though I had some New Calvinists types telling me that I was not intellectual and not spiritual enough, if I didnt adopt Calvinism. I began to see that it was more of a intellectual and spiritual pride thing that was even making me consider becoming a Calvinist. It was not the plain and simple teachings of the Bible. They were leading me away from this Augustinian philosophy.

But, Ronnie, like you….I consider Calvinists my Brothers and Sisters in Christ…and, I know that many of them love the Lord greatly.

Thanks for sharing such enlightening insight. I hope you’ll do more in the future.

David

    Donald

    David,
    The final nail-in-the-coffin of Calvinism (for me) was reading “Introduction to Biblical Hermeneutics: The Search for Meaning”. Of particular interest is the chapter on “The Case for Calvinistic Hermeneutics” where the author declares that “proper exegesis should be informed by theological reflection. To put it in the most shocking way possible: my theological system should tell me how to exegete” I strongly disagreed, in that my exegesis should inform my theology. Calvinism requires a structure of logical and/or philosophical inferences that build on each other; requiring an informed exegesis that takes one away from the natural reading of problematic texts. It, simply, requires leaps that I cannot make.

volfan007

Rhutchins,

The disagreement would come with Calvinists believing that it’s the good desire of God to send millions to Hell….that it’s something He actually desires to do.

Of course, millions are going to Hell. A vast majority of people will end up in Hell. But, God didnt create them for the very purpose of sending them to Hell, and He does not delight in sending people to Hell. He will send them to Hell….no doubt about it….according to His will. But, His desire is that they be saved…and, He takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked….He would rather them be saved.

Therein lies the problem. And, Non Calvinists are not universalists. We most certainly believe that God will send lost poeple to Hell….everyone will not go to Heaven. But, they’ll go because they rejected the light they had, and turned away from the drawing of the Holy Spirit….not because God desired that some of His creation spend eternity in Hell.

David

    Norm Miller

    David: If one rejects John 1.29 and 1 John 2.2 (that Jesus takes away the sins of the world, and that he is the propitiation for the sins of the whole world), then one feels totally free to wrongly characterize Traditionalists as universalists. This is the slippery slope to which eisegesis and hermeneutical gymnastics lead. — Norm

      Lydia

      It seems to me to be an either/or type of hermeneutic. Reformed/Universalist. There is absolutely no consideration for any human volition which makes us….what? I am painstakingly trying to figure out how this hermeneutic does not often confuse God and satan.

    Mary S.

    David writes: “A vast majority of people will end up in Hell. But, God didnt create them for the very purpose of sending them to Hell.”

    I agree. But in reality Trads and Cals share the same problem: We each believe that God knows the future. So we each believe that God allowed every person to be born, who He knew full well would reject Christ. Before they were born, God knew they would suffer for all eternity in Hell and He allowed them to be born anyway.

    Trads don’t get off of the hook on this any more than Calvinists do. The only people who get off of the hook are heretics: ie Universalists and Open Theists.

      volfan007

      Mary,

      BUT, there’s a huge difference in saying that God truly desires the salvation of all people, and His death is sufficient to cover the sins of all people, and the Spirit is drawing all people with the light they have; and with someone saying that God just arbitrarily picked these few to be saved, and chose for all the rest to go to Hell, because it’s His good pleasure to do so. They never really had any hope of being saved, because they were not of the Elect.

      There’s a big, big difference.

      David

Robert

I have read Ronnie’s article and seen the responses and an analogy comes to mind. Sometimes when someone is trying to sell you something (cars are a great example of this as many of us have seen firsthand) those trying to sell you on something will present in very readable print what they believe you will find true or attractive. That portion of the presentation is never the problem. The problem is accompanying this forthright and open message is THE FINE PRINT. And the fine print which is usually very small so it is both hard to read and not as well noticed often has all sorts of problems in connection with the purchase.

It seems to me that a major problem with Calvinists is that they present their commitment to the gospel (which is in the open and not very problematic) but they are not nearly as forthright when it comes to the fine print of their sale.

If you look at the fine print you find major problems such as reprobation (i.e. God chooses to save a few lucky persons and also chooses to damn the vast majority of persons to hell, and these “reprobates” never had a chance to be saved, God preplanned their damnation their unbelief, their every thought and action, and then at the final judgment damns them eternally for being and doing exactly what God predestined them to be and do) limited atonement (i.e. that God did not intend the death of Christ for all men, that God does not desire the salvation of all men) irresistible grace (i.e. that people do not have free will, and since they do not they must be regenerated first before they can believe) and exhaustive determinism (that God predestined everything that happens, which includes all sin and evil making him the author of all sin and evil) etc. etc. Rodgers calls these things “disquieting realities” they also may be referred to as the “fine print”. I am quite confident that if this “fine print” were openly and forthrightly presented by Calvinists in SBC circles that most SBCers would have no difficulty seeing they are unbiblical, false and would reject them quickly and decisively.

Ben Simpson provides a perfect example of this “sales technique”. Ben seems upset that Rodgers is mischaracterizing Calvinism.

Ben wrote:

“My point was that when Ronnie says “the gospel, according to Calvinism, is that God ‘loves to save some sinners and equally loves to damn most sinners to eternal torment,” he is patently false and mischaracterizes his brothers and sisters. THAT IS NOT THE GOSPEL THAT WE HISTORICAL SOUTHERN BAPTISTS HOLD. The Gospel to us is: Jesus lived, died, and rose again so that every sinner who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

If you state the gospel “to us is” that “Jesus lived, died, and rose again”, no Baptist would ever disagree with this. Ben then goes further and adds “so that every sinner who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved”. At first this seems true and again seems like something that any Baptist would agree with. THE PROBLEM IS THE FINE PRINT. If that is all that Calvinists believe about the gospel then there would be no problem with Calvinism, no division, no intense emotions, none of it. The problem is that the fine print which includes reprobation, limited atonement, irresistible grace, the denial of free will, the affirmation of exhaustive determinism, etc. etc. is where it all goes wrong. And Calvinists are not forthright or open when it comes to discussing the fine print that is part of their total package deal.

To take just one example, Ron Hale correctly noted about the reprobation fine print that:

“For instance, among New Calvinists in the SBC, I do not read very much being shared on the things like reprobation.”

There is a very understandable reason for that. What Calvinists believe about reprobation is the fine print, the part of their theology/message that does not sell very well and so must be obscured and covered and hidden in the fine print.

They can talk about how they believe in the gospel of Jesus Christ, but what is the good news when it is accompanied with the fine print of reprobation, limited atonement, etc. etc. etc.???

Robert

JB

Norm,

You said

“I recall that one brother completely dismissed Ronnie as being a former Calvinist since, because Ronnie was a 4-pointer, he was never a Calvinist at all.”

I would have to agree that all of the 5 points build upon one another. It is a complete system, not a salad bar. When you remove one of the points the whole thing crumbles….

    Donald

    “I would have to agree that all of the 5 points build upon one another. It is a complete system, not a salad bar. When you remove one of the points the whole thing crumbles….”

    I agree. For me, it all crumbled on L.

      Max

      And that Donald is why some of us in traditional SBC ranks contend while trying not to be contentious … whosoever will may come.

rogersrw

Worth noting, is while I am often in need of a doctor, I am not one. I am just plain old Ronnie.
With regard to your statement, “In this case, we see that it was God’s desire to allow Adam to freely disobey if that was what Adam wanted”. The disquieting reality of Calvinism is that according to Calvinism and compatibilism, this was the only thing Adam could possibly want, and it was therefore his predetermined free and only choice. He chose freely, but did not have a choice. That is the disagreement between Calvinism and non-Calvinism, and what I believe is a disquieting reality of Calvinism as demonstrated in Calvinists either not understanding that reality or eliding it.
You quoted me “according to Calvinism, God necessarily desires for the vast majority of His creation to burn in hell forever and ever;” and then concluded, This is correct as Calvinism opposes universalism saying that many will be lost forever. Dr. Rogers calls this a “disquieting reality.” OK, Dr. Rogers is an advocate of universalism.”
First, “God necessarily desir[ing]” in Calvinism, is in contradistinction to non-Calvinism because it is inextricably bound to Calvinism’s belief that man is merely compatibly free rather than possessing a salvifically otherwise choice. God’s desire for people to go to hell is evident in Calvinism because if God did not desire man to sin, or go to hell, he could have either created man with a different nature that would have led inexorable to man choosing not to sin or selectively regenerated all of His creation after the fall, which He undeniably did not.
My comments have nothing to do with universalism. It is not that I do not believe the majority of people will go to hell, but rather I reject the Calvinist notion of compatibilism and selective election and selective regeneration, which assures us that God Knowingly withheld what would have inviolably resulted in them not having to sin or going to heaven. I argue from God being the perfect sum of love, and not man’s merit.

With a libertarian view of free choice, once fallen man is grace enabled, he can make a choice to either accept the gospel or reject the gospel and whatever he did in fact choose, he could have chosen otherwise; moreover, in non-Calvinism, God desires all to repent and be saved. Those who do not repent, were given a genuine opportunity and freedom according to God’s sovereign design, which allowed people to choose against God’s desire for them to be saved. He is sovereign since man can do nothing apart from the working of God and that God sovereignly chose to create man with otherwise choice without any external or internal coercion.
Of course the vast majority will not be saved, and that is not my objection. I object to Calvinism’s belief that this eventuality is because God “necessarily desires” such end, which is evident in his choice to give man a compatible free will that moves inexorably in that direction. That eventuality is not “necessarily” connected with non-Calvinism. That is the disquieting reality of Calvinism. Calvinism’s default to compatibilism makes man’s end in hell with no option or choice, God’s necessary desire, which non-Calvinism does not

rogersrw

Thank you for your kind words.

I try to stick to evaluating mainstream Calvinism. Generally, when I see a high level of consistently facing and articulating these disquieting realities, the person is viewed as a hyper-Calvinist. Most Calvinists, wittingly or unwittingly, obscure them, which is most often considered a softer Calvinism. Actually, it is not, but the double talk beclouds the reality.

Alan Davis

Brother Ronnie,

You said “I reject the Calvinist notion of compatibilism and selective election and selective regeneration, which assures us that God Knowingly withheld what would have inviolably resulted in them not having to sin or going to heaven. I argue from God being the perfect sum of love, and not man’s merit. ”

I am maybe unclear on this statement; are you saying that for God to be the perfect sum of love He must offer the gospel to all men equally? To give each and every man ever born equal access to the Word?

Alan Davis

rogersrw

Here are a few responses to various comments on my article

Rhutching,

Worth noting, is while I am often in need of a doctor, I am not one. I am just plain old Ronnie.
With regard to your statement, “In this case, we see that it was God’s desire to allow Adam to freely disobey if that was what Adam wanted”. The disquieting reality of Calvinism is that according to Calvinism and compatibilism, this was the only thing Adam could possibly want, and it was therefore his predetermined free and only choice. He chose freely, but did not have a choice. That is the disagreement between Calvinism and non-Calvinism, and what I believe is a disquieting reality of Calvinism as demonstrated in Calvinists either not understanding that reality or eliding it.
You quoted me “according to Calvinism, God necessarily desires for the vast majority of His creation to burn in hell forever and ever;” and then concluded, This is correct as Calvinism opposes universalism saying that many will be lost forever. Dr. Rogers calls this a “disquieting reality.” OK, Dr. Rogers is an advocate of universalism.”
First, “God necessarily desir[ing]” in Calvinism, is in contradistinction to non-Calvinism because it is inextricably bound to Calvinism’s belief that man is merely compatibly free rather than possessing a salvifically otherwise choice. God’s desire for people to go to hell is evident in Calvinism because if God did not desire man to sin, or go to hell, he could have either created man with a different nature that would have led inexorable to man choosing not to sin or selectively regenerated all of His creation after the fall, which He undeniably did not.
My comments have nothing to do with universalism. It is not that I do not believe the majority of people will go to hell, but rather I reject the Calvinist notion of compatibilism and selective election and selective regeneration, which assures us that God Knowingly withheld what would have inviolably resulted in them not having to sin or going to heaven. I argue from God being the perfect sum of love, and not man’s merit.

With a libertarian view of free choice, once fallen man is grace enabled, he can make a choice to either accept the gospel or reject the gospel and whatever he did in fact choose, he could have chosen otherwise; moreover, in non-Calvinism, God desires all to repent and be saved. Those who do not repent, were given a genuine opportunity and freedom according to God’s sovereign design, which allowed people to choose against God’s desire for them to be saved. He is sovereign since man can do nothing apart from the working of God and that God sovereignly chose to create man with otherwise choice without any external or internal coercion.
Of course the vast majority will not be saved, and that is not my objection. I object to Calvinism’s belief that this eventuality is because God “necessarily desires” such end, which is evident in his choice to give man a compatible free will that moves inexorably in that direction. That eventuality is not “necessarily” connected with non-Calvinism. That is the disquieting reality of Calvinism. Calvinism’s default to compatibilism makes man’s end in hell with no option or choice, God’s necessary desire, which non-Calvinism does not.
Ron Hale

Thank you for your kind words.

I try to stick to evaluating mainstream Calvinism. Generally, when I see a high level of consistently facing and articulating these disquieting realities, the person is viewed as a hyper-Calvinist. Most Calvinists, wittingly or unwittingly, obscure them, which is most often considered a softer Calvinism. Actually, it is not, but the double talk beclouds the reality.

JB
“It may not be as pleasant to view God’s sovereignty in this way, but what is the opposing view…that God is unaware of who will be in hell? Or that no one will be in hell?”
Neither of the two options that you offer is acceptable. God has always known who would spend eternity in hell. The vast majority of people will go to hell; further, the issue of how “pleasant” something is cannot enter into it the conclusion either.

Calvinist’s view God as sovereign over beings that can only salvifically choose as He predetermined that they could (Compatibilism), whereas, non-Calvinism believes God is sovereign over beings who before sin could choose to sin or not sin and after the fall can only choose to trust Christ by God’s gracious enabling work, but they can also choose to reject (libertarian). Trying to understand non-Calvinists through the prism of Calvinism’s compatibilism, causal sovereignty etc, will always lead to misunderstanding.
We reject the notion that God can only be sovereign over beings whose end is predetermined by their nature.
The option is a libertarian view of free will that means: Adam could have chosen not sin or sin and whatever he did in fact choose, he could have chosen otherwise. Fallen man is in need of a loving God providing everything including “grace-enabled” faith before man can choose to accept the gospel, but even grace-enable, he can still reject. This is what the vast majority choose; hence, the discussion has nothing to do with or even coming close to espousing universalism.

Ben Simpson
You quoted me, “the gospel, according to Calvinism, is that God ‘loves to save some sinners and equally loves to damn most sinners to eternal torment.”
You said that my statement was “patently false” and that I had “wrongly characterized… brothers and sisters and actually obscured the discussion instead elucidating it.”
I use the word “love” in the context of speaking of God’s relationship with the non-elect because this is the word Calvinism uses ubiquitously. Please feel free to look at any major Calvinist’ Systematic theology. They work arduously and relentlessly to demonstrate how God loves the non-elect (though differently). There are entire books written by Calvinists seeking to communicate this. Consequently, I use the word love to discuss this point because Calvinists do.

Now, since Calvinists adamantly argue that God loves the non-elect (albeit differently), and He intentionally in this love withholds the very thing that would have inviolably brought them to salvation (compatibilism, unconditional election, selective regeneration) and thereby determined from all eternity that the love He has for them would do everything necessary to preclude the possibility of even one of these loved ones not going to hell. Thus, that God loves to save “some” sinners and equally loves to damn most is an absolutely accurate portrayal of this love of God for the non-elect, which is a disquieting reality of Calvinism. Either God does not love the non-elect, or the love He has for them, lovingly withholds what they eternally need. I think this portrait of God and His love is not reflective of God, the sum of perfect love as portrayed in the Scripture.

Additionally, salvifically speaking, I see no substantive difference between Calvinism’s view of God’s love for the non-elect and if He actually hated them. What would be the difference, eternally and salvifically speaking?
You said, “I’m not sure I would agree with Calvin, seeing that I am an infralapsarian and see election only up to heaven and never down to hell.”
The position one holds concerning decrees has no bearing on my point, but merely continues the obfuscation. I was an infralapsarian as well. However, regardless of one’s view on the decrees, it does nothing to palliate the predetermination of God for the vast majority of His humanity to be so designed and deprived that God’s pleasure is that they spend eternity in torment.
Actually, whether God chose to damn prior to creation, or created and then chose to actively save and actively reprobate, or actively save and looked the other way (passive reprobation), makes no eternal or substantive difference because God always knew He would create, and save, and whom and how; hence, every Calvinist believes in double-predestination—it is inescapable. To say that one only thinks of predestination to heaven is to maintain an inchoate view of soteriology. Whether God actively, passively or consequently did not bother with the non-elect, He did make a conscious choice to predetermine their fate in hell.

Therefore, this speculative theology does nothing to assuage the reality that God willingly brought forth creation and according to Calvinism is pleased and glorified by designing and desiring that most of His humanity suffer in eternal torment.
“The Gospel to us is: Jesus lived, died, and rose again so that every sinner who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
You say I “mischaracterize” the Calvinist gospel. No I simply want everyone to know what the words Calvinist say actually mean. They may appear to mean what non-Calvinists mean, to Calvinists and non-Calvinists alike, but they emphatically do not mean that. This is exactly the kind of double talk to which I refer.

You say that Calvinism’s gospel is, “Jesus lived, died, and rose again so that every sinner who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Actually that is only trivially true. Of Course, Calvinist’s believe this statement, but they equally and vociferously aver that the only sinners who can call on the name of the lord are those who have been unconditionally elected and selectively regenerated. The rest, according to this secret plan of God, have not one wit of a chance to believe. The difference between the gospel and its entailments in the New Testament and the good news according to Calvinism is evidenced by the whole concept of the “good faith offer” and very guarded language.

Here is what Calvinists’ believe, Jesus lived, died, and rose again so that every sinner whom God has unconditionally elected and will selectively regenerate not only can, but they must call on the name of the Lord and will thereby be saved. If a person is not so chosen and regenerated, he not only will not believe but as predetermined by God, he cannot, and this pleased God. My point here that if you are certain that you are correct then please make these entailments clear and obvious to all. To think they are “mischaracterizations” or extraneous to Calvinism is to not understand Calvinism. Actually, the gospel according to Calvinism is the most horrible, ghoulish news one could ever imagine unless of course He is one of the unconditionally elect. Please, make this clear when you speak.
You say, “On the issue of double-talk, I hope you call out the non-Calvinists as well, who utilize double-talk in claiming that God is sovereign (God is sovereign but leaves it up to mankind) and that salvation is by grace alone (just utilize your naturally-endowed self-determination to receive that grace). Can’t wait for the next post!!”
Possibly, your misunderstanding comes from defining “sovereignty” from a Calvinist perspective, which demands that man be strapped with a compatibilist nature (very causel in nature). Sovereign simply means that God is above and over everything. I believe that God freely chose to create beings in His image with otherwise choice. He, without any external or internal coercion, freely chose to do this. He knew man would choose to sin, but he was not so designed as in compatibilism. Thus, God sovereignly chose to create man, knowing that He would freely misuse his freedom, but God would overcome such misuse by coextensively creating and providing redemption in order to accomplish what no one else could. That is to say, He is absolutely sovereign over beings with otherwise choice.

God had also freely chosen to graciously provide man the ability and opportunity to trust Him again after the fall. Actually, Calvinists seem to minimize the power of God in that they can only see Him being sovereign over beings who can only freely choose what He programmed them to choose—salvifically speaking. In non-Calvinism, their salvation is due to God’s perfect love and grace of so sovereignly endowing man with otherwise choice and then working graciously to restore such a choice. Hence, man’s future is dependent upon God’s choice, and provision to give man a choice. This is only against Calvinism’s narrow definition of sovereignty but not against the word or biblical portrayal.

    Ben Simpson

    1) Your speaking of love points to one of the great disquieting realities of nonCalvinism. You hold that God equally loves the Bride and the Bride’s rebel sister. Certainly, that wouldn’t fly in human marriage, and as Paul tells us in Ephesians 5, human marriage is a picture of Christ and His bride, the church. Therefore, I have no problem saying that God has a special, more intense love for Jesus’ bride. Certainly, God loves every person, but He has a special, more intense love for the Bride, such that it looks like hate to the rebel sister.

    2) Unless you are an Open Theist, which I don’t believe you are (correct?), you have the same issue you claim Calvinists have because in your theology, God still created a vast number of humanity that He knew would end up in hell. If love is the only purpose God had, then why did He create people who would end up in Hell?

    3) You said Thus, that God loves to save “some” sinners and equally loves to damn most is an absolutely accurate portrayal of this love of God for the non-elect, which is a disquieting reality of Calvinism. Sorry, brother. That is not accurate. God does not equally love to damn the non-elect to hell. You are perverting the Calvinistic teaching. Does He rejoice in the vindication of His name and tells the saints to do the same forever? Yes (Rev 19:3), but God does not delight in the death of the wicked (Ezek 18:23).

    4) You said, The position one holds concerning decrees has no bearing on my point, but merely continues the obfuscation. It absolutely has bearing. From an infralapsarian viewpoint, the non-elect get what they and the elect deserve while the elect get what nobody deserves. It makes a huge difference!

    5) Ronnie, you are confusing the gospel and Calvinism/nonCalvinism. I don’t have to share Calvinism or nonCalvinism to share the gospel. When I proclaim that Jesus lived, died, and rose again so that every sinner who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved, I sincerely mean that. That’s not double-talk. It’s the only means by which any person is saved. Your implication that Calvinists should share the gospel like this, “If you are elect, believe on the gospel and be saved,” is absurd to the highest degree!

      Norm Miller

      Upon learning of the success of the Japanese raid on Pearl Harbor, Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto said, “I fear all we have done is awaken a sleeping giant and filled him with a terrible resolve.”

        Max

        Yamamoto should have considered that possibility before he pulled the trigger! Recently, I have been thinking about another quote from that era: “When you are in any contest you should work as if there were – to the very last minute – a chance to lose it” (Dwight D. Eisenhower). Thanks for your work Norm.

      Ben Simpson

      Norm,

      I’ll take your Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto and raise you a Franklin Roosevelt, “The only thing we have to fear is…fear itself,” and an Apostle Paul, “If God is for us, who can be against us?”

      Robert

      Ben Simpson brought up a common Calvinist/determinist argument against non-Calvinists when he wrote:

      “2) Unless you are an Open Theist, which I don’t believe you are (correct?), you have the same issue you claim Calvinists have because in your theology, God still created a vast number of humanity that He knew would end up in hell. If love is the only purpose God had, then why did He create people who would end up in Hell?”

      The non-Calvinist does not have “the same issue you claim Calvinists have”: this is a false claim repeatedly made by Calvinists. Let’s see what is wrong with it here.

      The non-Calvinist points our validly, that if God ordains all things as Calvinists believe (and it makes no difference whether they are supralapsarian or infralapsarian, this is more double talk to obscure the issue by the way, because both supras and infras if they are consistent Calvinists affirm exhaustive predestination of all events without any exceptions): then God preplans the salvation of all who are lost and the damnation of all who are lost (which is the majority of mankind). Under Calvinistic premises, God MAKES people into whatever they end up being in their eternal state. In each case their eternal destiny is necessitated by God ordaining everything and controlling everything. In consistent Calvinism since free will does not exist, people end up being whatever God created them to be.
      But this is not true under non-Calvinistic premises. In non-Calvinism as free will does exist, people end up being saved and also damned by the choices they make. This also means that while in Calvinism God creates reprobates: in non-Calvinism he does not create people to become reprobates they MAKE THEMSELVES into reprobates by their own choices. As free will exists in non-Calvinism, those who end up in hell end up there because they repeatedly and for their entire lifetimes rejected God and chose to keep rejecting Him. He or she makes himself hell bound, God does not do it, nor does he create them for hell. It is also important to remember that if they have free will they also could have chosen to have done otherwise, so their damnation does not occur **by necessity** (as is true in Calvinism) but contingently (contingent upon their own freely made choices).

      So we see that under Calvinism God creates people for hell, but this is not true under non-Calvinism where people are not created for hell by God instead they freely make the choices that eventually result in them being hell bound.

      Ben Simpson as is true with many, many Calvinists ignores all this and claims that under non-Calvinism God also creates people for hell: “God still created a vast number of humanity that He knew would end up in hell. If love is the only purpose God had, then why did He create people who would end up in Hell?”

      Ben tries to use the fact of God’s foreknowledge against non-Calvinists.

      The error is that God foreknowing something to be the case is not at all the same as God causing or bringing about that actual outcome.

      Take a simple example to show this error of confusing God’s foreknowing a future event/ foreknowledge and God causing an event. Take a believer who commits some sin, call it sin X. Does God foreknow that this believer will commit sin X at such and such a time and in such and such a place? Yes. Because he foreknows all future events. But did God cause this believer to commit sin X. No, the believer caused the sin himself/herself. Did the believer have to commit sin X? Not if he/she acted freely when they committed the sin. So their sin was not necessitated, it did not have to occur, though they freely made the choice so that it in fact occurred.

      I work with inmates who have committed all sorts of heinous crimes. Did God foreknow them all? Yes, he knew they would do these things before they committed these crimes. Did God’s foreknowing they would do these things, cause these things to occur? No. In each case the choices made by these inmates resulted in the crimes they committed. We do not hold God responsible for these crimes, we hold the inmates responsible for them.

      God’s foreknowledge of all of these events does not cause them or bring them about (whether it is a believer who commits sin X, or an inmate who murders someone or abuses someone). Likewise, God foreknows who will end up in hell, but under non-Calvinism he does not cause it to occur nor does he bring it to pass, nor does he control them to make sure they end up as nonbelievers. So the claim by Calvinist such as Ben Simpson is not true at all.

      Robert

JB

Ronnie,

Thanks for your response. You said,

“Adam could have chosen not sin or sin and whatever he did in fact choose, he could have chosen otherwise. ”

So, would you say that there was a possibility that man could have remained perfect in the garden forever?

Jake Fowler

Pastor Rogers,

I truly appreciate the time and dedication you placed in this article. Personally, I believe the main issue this article is addressing is “trendy Calvinism”. Many people include themselves under the “Young, Restless, Reformed” movement without even being able to Biblically defend the Doctrines of Grace. This problems shows forth in your term “double talk”. This is very true. I would agree that the Calvinist’s issue is that Calvinism has become a popular “fad”. This fad creates many who don the title Calvinist without fully understanding what Calvinism is; thereby, they do not even know the “disquieting realities” you mention here.

However, I must disagree with the “disquieting realities” you mention. First you say:

“…according to Calvinism, God necessarily desires for the vast majority of His creation to burn in hell forever and ever; meaning that the gospel, according to Calvinism, is that God “loves to save some sinners and equally loves to damn most sinners to eternal torment.”

To this I would disagree. First I want you to be clear my soteriology is not necessarily reformed, more so undecided. Now, Calvinism in no way says God has to desire the vast majority of His creation to have eternal judgement. In fact, God’s justice demands every human to burn in hell forever and ever. In Calvinism is the idea of Total Depravity. In accordance with Romans 3, “no one seeks after God”. According to God’s justice everyone must burn; according to God’s desire, everyone should be in heaven; according to God’s grace, those whom God have elected will be in heaven. God can desires that no man should perish; however, only those who believe will have eternal life.

The main issue I continue to have with non-reformed theology is the scriptural proof texts (1 Tim. 2:6, 1 John 2:2) given for plausible universal salvation (the idea that it is possible for any man to be saved) have nothing plausible about them. It is definite Christ gave his life to be propitiation for every man. Does this amount to universalism? No. (1 Timothy 4:10). Commonly Romans 1:16 is cited as the Gospel being the power for EVERY man; however, the verse says “for everyone who believes.”

That being said, the Gospel according to Calvinism would be: God is just; every sinner must go to hell; God desires all men for salvation; all men reject God; God elects whom He wills (Romans 9; that order is not to be meant in time specific way). Therefore, a Calvinist should not say that God, “equally loves to damn most sinners to eternal torment.” Obviously, God loves and desires every man to be saved because of the fact they are not in hell immediately after birth (common grace). A Calvinist would have to say that Christ’s love for His bride is special and more than the love He has for reprobates.Now God’s greater love for elect than reprobates would be the proper first “disquieting reality”.

Second, you say:

“according to Calvinism’s compatible view of man’s nature, which governs the range of choices he has, God did in point of fact desire—not cause—Adam to sin, and this with full knowledge of all of its ensuing torturous horror, of which we are all both perpetrators and sufferers.”

A Reformed man would most definitely say God ordained the fall. Desired would imply what God wants for humanity. God desires that no one perishes most likely he would not desire the fall. Now, one may argue if God ordained the fall He must have desired it. Continuing, if God didn’t desire the fall why didn’t He stop it? A non-reformed person would say God did not stop the fall so that the free will of man was not violated.

Now, take in to view the second major event of the Biblical metanarrative: the Flood. The flood violated people’s free will sending the entire human race except Noah and his family into eternity. If God didn’t desire the flood (causing people to go to Hell) why didn’t He stop it? Well that cannot be answered by saying, “He did not want to violate man’s will.” Therefore, it seems Biblical to say that God does not desire for any man to perish and he ordained the fall and the flood. The proper second “disquieting reality” should be God ordained Adam’s sin with full knowledge of the consequences (and full knowledge of substitutionary atonement Gen 3:15).

A Calvinist in no way has to be unashamed about claiming these “disquieting realities” you purport. Calvinist often make a distinction between God’s sovereign will and His desired will. This is clear in scripture especially because, as He desires everyone to be saved, obviously not everyone will be saved.

Thank you again for writing this article. It is appreciative within the convention to have cordial discussions on the topic. There are a lot of issues within the Reformed movement that do need reforming. I am very interested to read the second part of your article.

soli Deo omnis gloria,
B. Jacob Fowler

JB

Ok, what about this?

” And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” Rev. 13:8

Everything happens just as it was supposed to…there is no such thing as the hypothetical when it comes to fate. Nothing that has ever happened could have really happened any other way.

rogersrw

Alan Davis says:
“are you saying that for God to be the perfect sum of love He must offer the gospel to all men equally? To give each and every man ever born equal access to the Word?”

To me, your question conflates two different issues. It conflates the issue of whether God grants a real choice to believe the gospel or reject the gospel to everyone who hears with whether everyone gets the same opportunity. Calvinism rejects the former (which I believe is biblically unwarranted), and I believe that places Calvinism in a position of inadequately demonstrating how that is perfect love, which opinion I base on their writings in Systematic theologies and individual books on the subject. I believe that if Calvinism is true, if in eternity we were to stand on the precipice of hell, all could see how God was always perfectly just in not letting any sinners into heaven, but I do not see how that demonstrates that He is perfect love since He withheld even the opportunity to come to heaven.

With regard to whether everyone gets the exact same opportunity, my answer is no. Since, this is an actual impossibility in a time and space continuum. However, because everyone may not get the same opportunity does not equal that some received an inadequate or no opportunity.

rogersrw

Ben

Unfortunately you have misrepresented my statements and thoughts (as though I do not recognize different kind of loves). In addition, I do understand Calvinism sufficiently to articulate the entailments of Calvinism, and have no desire to misrepresent. I do have a strong desire that Calvinists be more forthright about these disquieting realities, at least as much as they are about the more palatable aspects, which some are. However, I seem to have been unsuccessful in my interactions with you, and I simply received more standard Calvinistic answers, which I recited myself for many years. I must assume that you really do not see these inescapable entailments of Calvinism. I learned them all from Calvinist by the way. Consequently, I do not see that any further comments would help.

Robert

Norm makes some good points about Pelagian errors and the fact that Trads are not Pelagians. I want to add one more point. Tom was wrong in his comment that “Pelagius was condemned as a heretic by the Council of Carthage (418 A.D.) because he believed in autonomous free will.”

That is not true at all. He was not condemned for affirming the reality of free will. others affirmed free will. No, he was condemned for teaching that the grace of God was not necessary for a person to be saved. it was this denial of the necessity of grace that led to his condemnation, not his affirmation of free will/which Tom maligns as “autonomous free will.” Thre is not such thing as a completely autonomous free will when it comes to human beings. Free will exists but not “autonomous free will”. It was Catholics by the way who condemned Pelagius and Catholics then and now have always affirmed the reality of free will. Even Catholics recognize that a person cannot be saved without the grace of God operating in their life. So Tom twists things when he claims Pelagius was condemned for his belief in the existence of free will. That was not what the debate between Augustine and Pelagious was about. It was about the nature and necessity of grace in the process of salvation.

Robert

rogersrw

Robert

Thanks for your excellent analysis, and lucid responses (in each of your responses)to some of the Calvinists double talk. Your words are very clarifying and helpful for all who desire clarity.

James

Not a Calvinist here, but this is a total strawman fallacy attack on Calvinism. The system has issues, but purported “necessary” desire on the part of God for sin by Adam is not one of them.

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