Talking Past Each Other | Part Two

December 15, 2014

**This article was previously posted by Dr. Braxton Hunter on his website www.braxtonhunter.com and is used by permission.

Dr. Hunter is: former president of the Conference of Southern Baptist Evangelists (COSBE), professor of apologetics at Trinity College of the Bible and Theological Seminary in Newburgh, Indiana

Learn more about Dr. Hunter, HERE.
Follow Dr. Hunter on Twitter HERE.
Follow on Facebook HERE.

My previous article on this subject titled, Talking Past Each Other, generated quite a bit of heat regarding the Calvinist understanding of human freedom. So much so, in fact, that I wrote a follow-up article explaining that the Calvinism debate has become the Black Magic that Calvinists and non-Calvinists both use to generate attention for otherwise slow and unnoticed blogs. The goal should be evangelism, not winning in house debates all the time. In that article I explained that because Calvinism is not a central issue for me, I only write on it occasionally. After every six or seven podcasts, blog articles or videos I complete I take some space to cover this controversial subject (usually only if I’m asked to do so). However, I also received enough generous comments from those on both sides of the issue to warrant a second installment. I am grateful for those of you who shared that my previous article clarified some of the philosophical language, and I hope this helps as well.

The concept of love (particularly how God loves) is a bit different on Calvinism. On Calvinism God loves the elect. Jesus died and rose again, for the few elect. This means that by definition, God as described by the consistent Calvinist is not omnibenevolent. Of course, a Calvinist could redefine the word “love” as it relates to God and claim that it is “loving” for God to allow those he loves to go to hell when they simply could not choose otherwise. In fact, this is the approach that many Calvinists take.

“D. A. Carson, a prominent Calvinist and scholar, says he is often asked in Calvinist circles, ‘Do you tell the unconverted that God loves them?’  It’s a question, it’s a good question Calvinists have to ask, ’cause it’s not obvious what they should say to that.  His answer: ‘Of course I tell them God loves them.’  Now on the face of it, I like his answer; but listen quickly, here’s what he says: there are three different ways God loves people. First, He loves people by giving them material blessings.  Secondly, He loves them by letting the Gospel go out to them, and thirdly, He loves people with electing love.  Now here’s the point: Carson doesn’t know who are the recipients of electing love; he doesn’t have a clue any more than I do, or you.  Now, can he honestly say with a good conscience, ‘Of course God loves you’, if all he knows is God is giving you material blessings, if all he knows is God lets the Gospel be preached to you even though you can’t possibly respond to it?

Jesus said one time, what is a man profited, if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Let me paraphrase that question: How does the love of God profit a man, even if God gives him the whole world in terms of material blessings, but doesn’t give him the grace he needs to save his eternal soul?  How does the love of God profit him?” [1]

To clarify, what the Calvinist is saying is that there are various senses in which God loves different people. Consider the relationship between the wicked stepmother and the protagonist in the famous story of Cinderella. perhaps the wicked stepmother loved Cinderella in a different sense than she loved her two biological daughters. She made sure there was a roof over Cinderella’s head and food in her stomach, she merely wouldn’t allow her to attend the ball. Calvinism describes God similarly, but the situation is actually worse. It’s not just that Cinderella will not be allowed to attend the magnificent festivities, but she will actually live out her days in the house of the stepmother and then experience everlasting torment while others enjoy an everlasting ball. We must remember, though, that Cinderella’s basic needs were supplied for during most of her life. She was given food, clothes and purpose. Isn’t this more Calvinistic stepmother’s sovereignty glorious and loving? The answer is no. It is not. The fact is, we would not say about this character that she, in any way, loves Cinderella. Worse still, we would have to determine that one of the most despised villains of all literary works is, in fact, more loving than God. If you have the tendency to rebut the point by noting that Cinderella was portrayed as innocent (as far as the story goes) while man is sinful and undeserving, see my article, Talking Past Each Other. Nevertheless, this is the approach that many Calvinists use.

In my debate with a Calvinist professor and pastor in 2013, for instance, my opponent clearly explained:

“If my children as free as they are, run into the street, I will override their freedom and I will not ask them, because I love them in a salvific sense and I choose to set my affections on my children. I help coach their softball team. They’re astounding softball players, by the way, and I love all the girls on their team, but not like my two. They’re mine. They’re mine.”[2]

A more honest explanation of the Calvinist understanding that God has different senses in his love could not be imagined. My debating partner loves his own children in a different sense than he loves the other children on the team. Naturally. The problem is that I have seldom heard a Calvinist analogy to the nature of God that works, and this one is no different.

The problem is that my Calvinist friend is limited by his humanity. If he could ensure that all girls were loved in the same manner that he loves his own daughters I have no doubt that he would do so. Worse still, his analogy actually does implicate the problem that Calvinism poses for a biblical understanding of God’s love. The Calvinist says he would override the free wills of his daughters to protect them from traffic because he loves them in a salvific sense, but he loves the other girls differently (i.e. not in a salvific sense). I’m not even pressing the analogy to conclude that based on his explanation, he would not rescue the other girls on the team since they are not his daughters and he does not love them in a salvific sense. He would, based on the analogy, allow them to die in traffic as he stands watching. Fortunately, from the little I know of this particular Calvinist, I’m quite confident he would do no such thing. He would rescue the other girls on the team just as he would rescue his own daughters.

Now let’s imagine what the reaction would be if he followed the implication of the analogy and did not save another girl on the team because he didn’t love her in the same salvific sense he loves his own daughters. He stands by watching as the child is the unfortunate victim of a fatal car accident. He is approached by onlookers who run toward him in fascination and horror. They ask why he did not intervene when he was perfectly able to do so.

His answer, according to the analogy, would be, “I loved the girl, just not in a salvific sense.”

“You didn’t love her in a salvific sense,” we can imagine the bewildered crowd asking.

“No,” he might reply, “but don’t worry, I do love all the girls on the team, just not like my two.”

“Well, how do you love the other girls who are not your daughters,” the interrogators demand to know.

The answer would have to be, “I provide them with lemonade and teach them how to play softball, but I do sometimes let them die in traffic accidents.”

Now in case you think I’m overstating the Calvinist case, I’m actually infinitely understating the facts. On Calvinism it isn’t a mere traffic accident, as awful as that would be, but everlasting conscious torment. So consider faithfully this simple question about the analogy from my Calvinist debating partner, which is far more tame than the picture from Calvinism, “Would we ever say about the coach who stood by watching an accident that he loved the girls he could have saved?” Would we say he loved them in any sense at all? Of course not. We would say that he was nice to them for a while before allowing them to experience a grisly demise. No amount of lemonade or pep talks could make up for this. We would say he was a monster, or a coward. Again, if you’re thinking, “Well, sinners are doing what they want, and they don’t want God,” or, “God is gracious to save some, while all sinners deserve to go to hell,” read my article Talking Past Each Other. In the same way Calvin’s view of God who loves some in a salvific sense, wherein he provides eternal life and an escape from death, but blesses others with a few years of rain and crops before damning them choicelessly to everlasting torment is not loving the unelect in a different sense. He is not loving them at all. He is merely nice to them for a while and then reveals himself to be something else entirely. Yet, Calvinists demand the right to import this definition into some sense of the word love. Strange.

If this move is made, then the term love is so far removed from what believers have always thought about God as to require a different word than “love” altogether. Yet, Jesus commands us in Matt. 22:39 to love our neighbors as ourselves and we’re to love our enemies – love everyone! If we did that and Calvinism were true, then our love would be more encompassing than God’s love. This cannot be. So how can the Calvinist overcome the dilemma? He can honestly admit that in no meaningful sense does God love the unelect. To quote from Calvinist Arthur Pink, “God does not love everybody.”[3] Until this point is made clear, Calvinists and Non-Calvinists will continue to talk past one another.

 

[1] Walls, Jerry, Walls, J., in The Great Debate: Predestination vs. Free Will, (http://theapologeticsgroup.com/product/the-great-debate-predestination-vs-free-will/. internet. Accessed on 11, September 2014).

[2] Myra, Joe, Braxton Hunter Vs. Joe Myra – Is Calvinism True, (http://trinityradio.podomatic.com/entry/2013-10-03T08_03_51-07_00). Internet. Accessed on 11 September 2014).

[3] Pink, Arthur W. (2012-06-18). The Sovereignty of God (Arthur Pink Collection) (Kindle Location 373). Prisbrary Publishing. Kindle Edition. 

Leave a Comment:

All fields with “*” are required

 characters available

Nate

How would you describe God’s love for those who never get to hear the gospel?

    Robert

    So Nate:

    How do you know that some will never get to hear the gospel?

    Where in the Bible does it say there are some who will never hear the gospel?

    From my knowledge of the Bible it never says there are some who will never hear the gospel: so how do YOU know that to be true???

    Robert

      Nate

      Robert, it is simply impossible to believe that after Jesus’ resurrection that everyone in the world living at that time heard the gospel (just to take one time-frame in history). Now, if you want to argue the angels or Jesus appeared to every human alive in say, AD 40, and shared the gospel with them, fine (Scripture to prove that???), otherwise my question is valid.

      We as Southern Baptists wouldn’t be trying to reach Un-Reached people groups if everybody had access to the gospel, so you also have a severe problem with the IMB making the same statement I am making.

      My question is a fair question for Dr. Hunter. I am not a Calvinist, but am simply trying to think through his article, and I do believe my question has merit, and am curious how Dr. Hunter would answer it. I believe that God is love and that He loves the world, but it is a matter of reality that the Apostles couldn’t have taken the gospel to every living being in the 1st century, and we are still attempting to get the gospel to people who have never heard. That reality wasn’t addressed by Dr. Hunter.

        Braxton Hunter

        Thanks, Nate! There are several possible answers to this question. First, it may be that there God judges them based on the light that they have. I personally don’t prefer this answer because of the scriptural passages that seem to indicate that one must be aware of and come through the person of Jesus. Nevertheless, it is one possibility that is often mentioned. Second, it may be that those who seek truly do find. By that I mean that those who genuinely want to know the truth and ask for revelation receive it. Many Muslims have been converting to Christianity in countries where they do not have sympathetic access to the Christian message and they have been claiming that Jesus appeared to them directly. In this same vein, it is interesting that when missionaries have first arrived in unreached places they discover that those who are to be evangelized were praying for an answer. Third, Molinists have at least two answers. Some say that God judges the unevangelized on the basis of what he knows they would have freely done had they been given the chance. Others hypothesize that God chose to actualize a world where he knew the only people who were unevangelized were those who would have never believed under any circumstances.

        Here is the point, I don’t know which if any of these possibilities is correct, but so long as any of them are even remotely possible, then we have a philosophical defeater on our hands. This means that the claim that the existence of the unevangelized is inconsistent with God’s love for every person fails.

        Also, that we don’t know for sure how this all works (and because we are commanded) means that we should definitely be about the great commission!

        Hope this helps

          Braxton Hunter

          The word “there” in the third sentence should be deleted. Sorry. I certainly wouldn’t want anyone thinking I was simultaneously affirming polytheism and using the wrong form of “their.” :)

          Nate

          Thanks for the reply Dr. Hunter. I still think that you haven’t answered the question. Your examples are really based on those who ultimately do hear the gospel (the Muslim who has a dream, or the folks who had prayed and a missionary arrrives). As you indicated, you would be hard-pressed to say that God will judge based on the light they have as scripture passages speak against this ideology. I agree. The discussion concerning Molinists gives some options but really doesn’t answer the question, mainly because both options are purely speculative and have no scriptural warrant that we could base them on.

          Therefore the question is left unanswered. Is God’s love different for those who never heard the gospel? Based on your critique of Calvinists, I have to say that the answer to this question is yes. Any other answer is purely speculative. For reasons you and I cannot understand, God has not allowed people throughout history to hear the gospel and have opportunity to repent and believe. Again, the IMB wouldn’t be focused on “Un-Reached People Groups” if we did not believe this to be true and if we (the SBC) did not believe that these people would die apart from Christ and spend eternity separated from Him. There would be absolutely no need to to and evangelize these people if the Molinist examples you gave were true. In fact, the second one is a Hyper-Calivinst argument.

          By the way, I’m not arguing in favor of a Calvinist view of God’s love per se. I’m merely pointing out that there are nuances here that may be impossible for us to comprehend or explain. Who can know the mind of God?

            Braxton Hunter

            Nate, I understand that you are a non-Calvinist who is (I presume) sympathetic to my own beliefs. I don’t view this as combative. I’m enjoying a good discussion with a likeminded brother :).

            “Your examples are really based on those who ultimately do hear the gospel (the Muslim who has a dream, or the folks who had prayed and a missionary arrrives).” Sorry if I didn’t make it clear. I’m saying that they ended up hearing the gospel because of a desire to know the truth. They sought God and he responded. This same possibility may exist for anyone who genuinely wants to know the truth. General revelation, as I believe is discussed with respect to God’s existence in Romans 1:20, is available to all of mankind. Thus, it may well be that anyone who seeks the truth based on this receives an answer from God. Visions and missionary endeavors might be those answers. I think this is perfectly well consistent with scripture.

            “The discussion concerning Molinists gives some options but really doesn’t answer the question, mainly because both options are purely speculative and have no scriptural warrant that we could base them on.” Let me explain what I mean by a philosophical defeater. If Bill walks in and is dripping wet and onlookers have no way of knowing for sure what caused his wetness, imagine one of them (Sean) demanding that the only explanation is that Bill got into the shower with his clothes on. Sean contests that there is no other logical explanation for Bill’s wetness. Now we don’t know how Bill got wet, but we want to argue that Sean has no grounds for asserting that it MUST be because Bill got into the shower with his clothes on. All we would have to do to demonstrate that Sean’s claim that Bill MUST have gotten into the shower does not follow is to show any other option that is even remotely possible. Perhaps it’s raining outside. Perhaps Bille fell into a pond. Perhaps Bill engaged in a fashionably late ALS ice bucket challenge. So long as any of those options are even remotely possible, we have a philosophical defeater for the claim that Bill MUST have gotten into the shower with his clothes on. Maybe he did, but the claim that this MUST be the case will not follow. In the same way, the Calvinist may claim that it MUST be the case that God does not love everyone (or loves them in different senses) because of the fact that some never hear the gospel. The various option I laid out are like the possibilities for how Bill got wet. In both cases we may not know which if any of the options are definitely the answer, but if any of them are even possibly true then the claim that Bill MUST have gotten into the shower with his clothes on or God MUST not love the unselect as he loves the elect is unsustainable. This is the nature of philosophical defeaters. So, to your claim that the Monist options are speculative, I would respond that that is perfectly fine for a defeater.

            Furthermore, you said, “Any other answer is purely speculative.” The claim that God does not love the unevangelized is certainly speculative if one does not know for sure that all of the above possibilities are NECESSARILY false.

            You said, “Again, the IMB wouldn’t be focused on “Un-Reached People Groups” if we did not believe this to be true. . . ” With this quote there are only two options. Either you are saying that the IMB wouldn’t be focused on reaching these people groups if they didn’t believe that God only loves some people (which is I think the implication of what your saying in context) or, the IMB exists to make God love people groups that he would not have loved at the missionaries not gone and reached them. In either case we have major problems. The IMB goes after these people groups because they understand God’s love for all people and want to see as many of those people saved as possible.

            Lastly, you claimed that the second Monist answer is an example of hyper-calvinism. This is a misunderstanding of the Monist claim. The Monist claim is that these individuals all have libertarian freedom, but that in any possible world they exercise their libertarian freedom to reject the gospel. “hyper-Calvinists,” however, believe that these people have no libertarian freedom. They accept determinism or compatibilism (which is determinism). So there you have the difference. However, I am not here to support that view, I merely wanted to clarify it.

            So in the end, I think these various options do give us a philosophical defeater. This defeater means that it is not necessarily the case that God loves these people in a different sense, or does not love them at all. It just won’t fly philosophically. Biblically speaking, since I maintain that the message of the Bible is that God is love and loves the whole world, this fact sits perfectly well with what scripture teaches.

            I hope this helps.

              Braxton Hunter

              Sorry for my abundant typos. My auto-correct software is unaware of the existence of Molinism and keeps changing it to “Monism.” I trust that you all knew what I meant.

              Nate

              Dr. Hunter, I didn’t think you and I were being combative and I appreciate the back and forth. Unfortunately, I think the title of your article fits well for both you and I. We are talking past each other one what we are trying to convey. It may simply be my fault that I am failing to articulate myself adequately and/or I’m not following your train of thought properly (probably due to expecting a certain response to what I was trying to convey). Nevertheless, I appreciate the discussion. Blessings.

                Braxton Hunter

                Thanks for the great discussion, Nate! I’m not sure why you would say that we are talking past each other. I think I’ve understood your comments pretty well. I’ve tried to respond to them directly and with specificity. If there is a piece of the puzzle I’m missing please let me know. I would be happy to talk privately if you feel that this is not the right venue. Genuinely, if I’m missing something I want to know about it. I just don’t see where we are talking past each other.

                Blessings,
                Braxton

            Robert

            Nate provides a good example of why his position is beset with major problems that he like an ostrich with its head in the sand refuses to acknowledge:

            “Therefore the question is left unanswered. Is God’s love different for those who never heard the gospel?”

            And I say it again Nate ASSUMES that there are some who never hear the gospel and that this must mean that God loves them less or not at all. Fact is he does not know that, he merely assumes that.

            “ Based on your critique of Calvinists, I have to say that the answer to this question is yes. Any other answer is purely speculative.”

            Regarding speculative, Nate is speculating that God loves those who never hear the gospel differently, he does not know this to be true, this is **his speculation**.

            We do know from what God says in His Word that He loves everyone and desires for all to be saved (unless you are a Calvinist). We also know from what God says that he sovereignly sets things up so that everyone seeks Him (that is explicitly taught in Acts 17:26-27). So we don’t have to speculate whether God loves everyone or not (he must as He says he desires that all be saved and that is the most loving thing that can happen to a person). Nor do we need to speculate whether he sovereignly sets things up so that all seek after him (he does, though they can freely choose to reject any light or revelation given to them, cf. Romans 1 were it says God shows Himself to people and yet they choose instead to worship creatures rather than the creator).

            “For reasons you and I cannot understand, God has not allowed people throughout history to hear the gospel and have opportunity to repent and believe.”

            And this statement is just outright false. Many of the people in the OT era never heard the gospel, never heard about Jesus, and yet they were given the opportunity to be saved to repent and to believe. Doesn’t “throughout history” include people in the OT era, or are they not part of “history”?

            Nate’s statement here again assumes his speculation, that God must somehow love those who do not hear the gospel less (because according to Nate if he really did love them then he would have made sure they heard the gospel). But does the Bible say that God loves those who do not hear the gospel less? No. So this is speculation again on Nate’s part. And again I would remind everyone of what God explicitly says through the apostle Paul in Acts 17 (that God has sovereignly set up things so that everyone seeks after him, note it does not say that everyone will be saved but it does explicitly say that he sets things up so that all seek after him). That is not speculation that is explicitly stated by the Bible and yet Calvinists and people like Nick (who want to argue from those who never hear to the conclusion that God does not love them or loves them less) conveniently ignore that revelation from God because it does not fit their position.

            “Again, the IMB wouldn’t be focused on “Un-Reached People Groups” if we did not believe this to be true and if we (the SBC) did not believe that these people would die apart from Christ and spend eternity separated from Him. There would be absolutely no need to to and evangelize these people if the Molinist examples you gave were true.”

            Again a false statement, whether or not the Molinist examples are true or false, we have been commanded to preach the gospel (cf. the Great Commission explicitly reveals this command). So this claim by Nate that “there would be absolutely no need to and evangelize these people” is just completely false. Molinists are supposed to obey the great commission as is every other professing Christian. I once had a Calvinist try to bring this up claiming that if anyone could be saved apart from hearing and believing the gospel about Jesus then there would be no reason to evangelize. I brought up the Great commission and he didn’t want to talk anymore.

            Robert

    Braxton Hunter

    He loves them. God IS love. The deeper question, of course, is how they are judged, or what salvific opportunities they have. However, that is a question for another post.

      Nate

      Thanks for responding, but I don’t think that is an matter for another post, considering you went to great lengths to say Calvinists speak of God’s love differently for those who believe the Gospel when they hear it and those who don’t. Those who never hear, repent and come to faith in Christ, at least according to Scripture, will not be saved, that is, unless we want to speak of Universalism, which I assume you don’t. Therefore, I do think you have taken Calvinists to task for defining different “types” of God’s love, but for those who never hear that would seem to be applicable, in that, God loves them, but not the same as those He allows to hear the Gospel.

        Braxton Hunter

        See my comments above.

        volfan007

        Nate,

        I believe we see that God does love everyone in the world. And, because of this love, every person on the planet has the light of God shining down on them. Now, some people just have the light of nature and conscience, which tells them that there is a God, and there are sins, and there is a judgment coming. The light of nature shouts that there is a Creator God. Our consciences tells us that that God exists. It tells us that there are rights and wrongs. And, it tells us that judgment is coming for the “wrongs” we do. And, if someone would respond to that light, and want to be saved, then I believe that God would move Heaven and Earth to make sure that the Gospel gets to that person. But, of course, man makes idols, instead. He makes gods after his own thinking and wants and wishes. He turns from the light he has, and he turns to worshiping animals, or the Sun, or the Moon, etc. But, he has enough light to show him that there is a Creator God that we will answer to….that he needs to be saved. And, he will be judged for the light that he has shining on him. God will judge him according to the light he has. So, his judgment won’t be as severe as those people, who reject the Gospel.

        Now, of course, the Gospel is the brightest light. And, that’s why it’s so important to get the Gospel to the lost. It’s the most bright and clear light. It shines so bright that it draws men to Jesus and salvation. And, God loves the world….every person….so much that He wants us to carry that Gospel light to the world….so that more people can be saved.

        David

          Nate

          David, I don’t disagree entirely with what you are saying, but I pray that you are not saying, that those who are judged for the light they have shining on them will receive salvation. I AM NOT saying that you are saying that, just making sure we are in agreement. Jesus spoke about varying levels of judgment so I agree with that philosophy, but only those who believe in Him will have everlasting life. If we are in agreement with my first sentence, then God’s love (or call it something else) is different for those that never get to hear the gospel. I don’t care what you want to call it, but for reasons beyond our comprehension some never hear the gospel. God loves the world, yes…. I agree.

          However, my critique of Dr. Hunter was, that he, was critiquing a Calivinst understanding of God’s love toward those who believe and those who don’t. In doing so, Dr. Hunter insinuated that Non-Calvinists do not draw distinctions concerning God’s love. My question to him, which remains unanswered, was to ask him about whether he would have a different understanding of God’s love to those who never hear the gospel vs. those who do. This isn’t a separate matter, it is connected. God’s love (grace) shines on the righteous and unrighteous, but since all do not hear the gospel, is there a more full expression of God’s love to those to whom He allows the gospel to be preached to? It’s a fair question, and until it is answered one can’t say that Calvinists have different understandings (definitions) of God’s love and Non-Calvinists don’t. I’m not a Calvinist, and I will say there is a difference (I don’t fully understand) as to why God allowed me to hear the gospel and He didn’t allow others to hear it. Is that a difference in God’s love toward man? Perhaps not, but it is certainly a difference between myself and someone who did not hear the gospel. Calvinists would say IT IS a difference in God’s love. Non-Calvinists will have to give it some sort of definition. At least in my opinion.

            volfan007

            Nate,

            No, I am not saying that they will receive salvation. I’m saying that they will judged by the light they had. God’s love for lost people is the same. The only reason any people have light is due to the love of God for the people of the world. And, the reason that God has told us to take the Gospel to the world is due to the love of God for everyone in the world. And, if Christians would do more to get the Gospel out to the world, then more people would be saved. If we would have more of the love of Jesus in us, then we would be more concerned about getting the Gospel out to the world. But, just because not everyone has the light of the Gospel, doesn’t mean that God loves them any less. It just means that they don’t have that light like others do…and, the blame is on Christians for not doing more to get the Gospel to them.

            If we’d just have the heart for missions that Moravians had. And yet, there are more missionaries, today, than ever before.

            Now, about the Calvinists….they don’t really believe that God loves every person. They just believe that God loves all the different kinds of people in the world. In fact, God just really loves the Elect. A Non Calvinist like me believes that God truly loves everyone. He really does. I would say that His love for Believers is something far more special. But, His love for lost people all over this world is the same. That’s what the Scriptures teach us; is it not? God loves the world. God desires that all men be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth. God desires that all men come to repentance. He takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked. But rather, God wants the wicked to repent and be saved.

            And Nate, I would just say that just because some people didn’t get as much as light as you and I got, does not mean that God didn’t love their souls. And, it doesn’t mean that God loved you and me more. It’s just that we got in, on the love of God, and they didn’t. We responded to the light and the calling of God, and they didn’t.

            For example; let’s say that I have two sons. And, I tell each son that if they’ll just trust me, and be willing to help me in my business, that I will leave the business to them. Let’s say that one son believes me…trusts me…and come to work, every day, ready to work. I love that son, very much. But, the other son chooses to go another way. He chooses to not have anything to do with the family business. He just wants to go and do his own thing. And, I leave my business to the son willing to work in my family business. Did I love the other son less? No, I loved them both the same. But, one son will enjoy the financial blessings of being my son, while the other son will not. That doesn’t mean that I don’t love him the same. Right? And, I would say it’s the same with God. Just because some people have the light they have, and get saved from it, doesn’t mean that God didn’t love that person, who had less light, and didn’t get saved. I’m sure it breaks the heart of God for people to turn away from the light they have….and, to be lost.

            David

        Robert

        Nate I challenged you because it appeared to me that you were trying to derail the discussion, take it to another subject. Unfortunately, I have seen many Calvinists bring up those who have never heard in order to rationalize their defective view of God’s love. Braxton was nice enough to get off topic and to share a very good post presenting various alternatives that people have suggested concerning the fate of those who never hear the gospel.

        Nate you wrote:

        “Thanks for responding, but I don’t think that is an matter for another post, considering you went to great lengths to say Calvinists speak of God’s love differently for those who believe the Gospel when they hear it and those who don’t.”

        Nate you are missing a very big assumption here. Braxton’s post was presuming or focusing upon the Calvinistic idea that there are those who may receive material blessings in this life but because they are not elect they cannot respond to the gospel with faith, saving faith is impossible for them because they were not chosen to be elect: so we rightly wonder how can it legitimately said that God loves such a person?

        Braxton stated this clearly:

        “Now, can he honestly say with a good conscience, ‘Of course God loves you’, if all he knows is God is giving you material blessings, if all he knows is God lets the Gospel be preached to you even though you can’t possibly respond to it?”

        Notice Nate this is not talking about those who never hear the gospel but about those who do hear it but because they are not elect according to the Calvinist theology cannot believe it.

        Nate you also wrote:

        “Those who never hear, repent and come to faith in Christ, at least according to Scripture, will not be saved, that is, unless we want to speak of Universalism, which I assume you don’t.”

        You present what in logic is called a false dilemma here. Either (A) some will never hear the gospel and so will automatically go to hell, or (B) Universalism is true and so all people will eventually be saved, as if those are the only two possible options. You leave out other possibilities such as (C) the view that universalism is false (not all will eventually be saved) and at the same time some who never hear the gospel may be nevertheless saved (e.g. babies and small children and the mentally disabled who are incapable of hearing the gospel and understanding it and responding with faith to it may nevertheless be saved). Most Christians, including both Calvinists and non-Calvinists (and they are not Universalists) hold to this possibility. And if we discuss this possibility as well as others to (A) and (B) we get away from what Braxton was writing about. So I suggest that rather than going down that rabbit trail, focus on the subject at hand, not the fate of those who never hear the gospel (which includes babies and the mentally disabled, those who receive visions and dreams that lead them to faith, etc.).

        “Therefore, I do think you have taken Calvinists to task for defining different “types” of God’s love, but for those who never hear that would seem to be applicable, in that, God loves them, but not the same as those He allows to hear the Gospel.”

        And this again assumes your view (technically called “exclusivism”) that those who never hear the gospel automatically go to hell. You don’t know that and many, many Christians disagree with you on this and have presented possibilities in which a person does not hear the gospel and yet is nevertheless saved through the cross of Christ (e.g. undoubtedly many in the OT never actually heard the name of Jesus, never heard the gospel concerning Jesus and yet they were most definitely saved). The technical term for this is “inclusivism” and many Christians have held this view.

        And **again** Braxton is not discussing the merits or truth of exclusivism or inclusivism here.

        Robert

          Nate

          Robert, you need to re-read my replies. First, I am not a Calvinst. Second, any discussion I was making concerning those who never hear the gospel and die are representative of adults. You are highjacking the conversation if you are trying to bring anomalies into it. I concede infants, young children, and the mentally disabled are outside the realm of my points. I am speaking of cognitive adults who died never hearing the gospel. Please don’t attempt to derail the discussion. Now, if you believe that cognitive adults who die (who have never heard the gospel, either from a human, or angel, or Jesus Himself, or in a dream from God) will be saved, then Yes, you are advocating Universalism/Pluralism.

          See my reply to David for a fuller statement.

            Robert

            “Robert, you need to re-read my replies.’”

            I did, including your posts here at SBC a couple of months ago.

            From past postings it is clear that the fate of those who never hear the gospel is a major hobbyhorse for you.

            I engaged you in the past on this issue and you said:

            “Robert,, you are completely out of touch with reality.”

            I am not *insane* and I did not appreciate this personal attack the last time. I had provided evidence from the Westminster confession, Helvetic confession, Martin Luther, J. I. Packer, etc. that many Christians have affirmed that some may be saved without hearing the gospel. You ignored the historical evidence and just engaged in personal insults and merely kept restating your view.

            Now once again you are trying to hijack a thread to turn in upon your hobbyhorse again.

            “Second, any discussion I was making concerning those who never hear the gospel and die are representative of adults. You are highjacking the conversation if you are trying to bring anomalies into it.”

            I brought up points to show your view has lots of problems (they are not mere anomalies but outright **contradictory** to your view).

            “I concede infants, young children, and the mentally disabled are outside the realm of my points. I am speaking of cognitive adults who died never hearing the gospel.”

            Why is this such a hobbyhorse for you?

            “Please don’t attempt to derail the discussion.”

            **You** are the one who is derailing the discussion by bringing up your hobbyhorse yet again when it is not the subject being discussed.

            “Now, if you believe that cognitive adults who die (who have never heard the gospel, either from a human, or angel, or Jesus Himself, or in a dream from God) will be saved, then Yes, you are advocating Universalism/Pluralism.”

            Again your statement is false: Universalism is not the belief that some may be saved without hearing the gospel, it is the belief that all will be eventually saved.

            Martin Luther certainly did not espouse universalism and yet he rejected your view.

            The Westminster confession also allows for the possibility that some may be saved without hearing the gospel, and it also does not advocate Universalism not even close.

            So factually, some very famous Christians and confessions contradict your view. Are you really going to claim they are Universalists?

            And **when** are you going to stop trying to derail the discussion into a discussion of your hobbyhorse?

            Robert

              Nate

              Robert, fair enough. And your hobby horse is to believe that there have never been people who never heard the gospel (either by an angel, a dream, a person, or God Himself). Furthermore, you refuse to believe that cognitive adults have lived their entire lives without hearing the gospel and therefore are condemned. Your pluralism ultimately leads to universalism because once one accepts that people can be saved apart from hearing the gospel, repenting and believing in Christ, then how do you stop the dominoes. Luther did not believe one could be saved apart from the gospel (divine revelation). You continually attempt to infer that a person can find God apart from this. The Westminster Confession does not allow people to find God on their own (apart from divine revelation of some sort). Why is it such a incredible thought that people have been born, lived, and died apart from ever hearing the gospel or receiving divine revelation? I’m not excited about this, but it can’t be overlooked. Do you believe everyone from Noah getting off the Ark till the time of Christ received revelation from God? Did they all know and hear about the One, True, and Living God? I doubt that you do. Why then is it so incomprehensible to you that there would be people after the resurrection of Christ that also would fall into that category. I’m only stating the obvious. And, if all those people didn’t need to have someone come to them and share the gospel, then why does anybody share it? My goodness, this is elementary. If people can be saved without the sharing of the gospel, and you believe that each and everyone of them will get divine revelation from God (of some sort) without missionaries going forth, well… This isn’t a hobby horse, it has been the motivation of the church since the resurrection.

                Robert

                “And your hobby horse is to believe that there have never been people who never heard the gospel (either by an angel, a dream, a person, or God Himself).”

                Many in the OT era never heard the name of Jesus nor did they hear the gospel about Jesus and yet they were saved because they trusted in the revelation that God had given them. So I know there are some who never hear of Jesus or the gospel about him. I also know that some were saved.

                “Furthermore, you refuse to believe that cognitive adults have lived their entire lives without hearing the gospel and therefore are condemned.”

                Unlike you I do not believe that God automatically condemns all who have never heard the gospel in their lifetime, that he sends them to hell automatically. In this respect you remind me of Calvinists who are quite pleased they are elect and have no qualms about many never hearing about Jesus and so automatically going to hell. You share this belief with these Calvinists though you claim not to be one. A non-calvinist who believes that God loves the world and desires for the whole world to be saved is not going to take glee in the automatic damnation of those who never hear the gospel.

                Nate you also repeatedly manifest ignorance of basic theological terms, as you did with this comment:

                “Your pluralism ultimately leads to universalism because once one accepts that people can be saved apart from hearing the gospel, repenting and believing in Christ, then how do you stop the dominoes.”

                Pluralism is the belief that one can be saved no matter what religion you are part of. I do not hold that belief, never have, scripture is clear that all are saved through Christ and His atonement. I reject pluralism and used to work counter cult ministry with the late Walter Martin, so I know pluralism is false. Yet you try to pin pluralism on me, you are so desperate to maintain your view that you put labels on me that do not apply at all. Since I don’t hold to pluralism, despite you falsely charging with believing in it, your domino effect does not apply to me. I wish you would use theological terms correctly rather than invent your own defintions for them and then try to pin them on those who do not hold them. You have done this now with me claiming that I hold universalism (I do not) and now Pluralism (I do not). I will appreciate that you stop using terms that you apparently do not understand in order to attack others unfairly. That suggests real desperation on your part.

                “Luther did not believe one could be saved apart from the gospel (divine revelation).”

                Actually he did believe that some could be saved apart from the gospel, do you are displaying your ignorance yet again. Do I really need to quote Luther again on this? Last time I did so with you, you just ignored it.

                “You continually attempt to infer that a person can find God apart from this.”

                If many in the OT era could be save without hearing about Jesus or hearing the gospel about him, then that means others can also be saved in like manner by responding to the revelation given them with faith. God can save anyone through the cross of Christ by applying it to whomever trusts Him.

                “The Westminster Confession does not allow people to find God on their own (apart from divine revelation of some sort).”

                And the Westminister Confession says that some may be saved apart from the gospel. Again do I need to requite it again so you can ignore it again???

                “Why is it such a incredible thought that people have been born, lived, and died apart from ever hearing the gospel or receiving divine revelation?”

                Because Acts 17 says he sets things up sovereignly so that all seek after him at some point and Romans 1 says he reveals himself to people. That is revelation that you reject because it does not fit your view.

                ”Do you believe everyone from Noah getting off the Ark till the time of Christ received revelation from God?”

                Do you believe what God says in Acts 17 and Romans 1??? I take that revelation over your speculations any day.

                “Did they all know and hear about the One, True, and Living God?”

                Yes according to Romans 1 the do know about the one true God. Again why do you reject Romans 1???

                ‘And, if all those people didn’t need to have someone come to them and share the gospel, then why does anybody share it?”

                Because we are commanded do to do so, because it gives a true believer joy to share the gospel, because God desires for people to hear about Jesus, etc. etc. etc. etc.

                “If people can be saved without the sharing of the gospel, and you believe that each and everyone of them will get divine revelation from God (of some sort) without missionaries going forth, well… “

                No one said there is no need for missionaries, no one said that we should not share the gospel with others, our disagreement is on those who never hear the gospel. You believe they automatically go to hell, I believe it is not that simple. If God desires for all to be saved and he is loving and just and fair then he will give everyone at least one opportunity in their lifetime to be saved. That is what a loving and just God would do. Now if you believe that God really does not want everyone to be saved (like the Calvinist) or that God really does not love everyone (again like the consistent Calvinist) then you have no qualms about believing that some automatically go to hell just because due to their life circumstances they never heard the gospel. But again Romans 1 and Acts 17, the Westminster and Helvetic confessions, Martin Luther, J. I. Packer, etc. etc. etc. etc. contradict your view, which is probably why every time I bring them up you just ignore them.

                Robert

Robert

Hello Braxton,

I want to raise the ante on a point that you raised when you wrote:

“So how can the Calvinist overcome the dilemma? He can honestly admit that in no meaningful sense does God love the unelect.”

Actually it is a ****lot worse**** than this.

While it is true that very few professing calvinists are consistent with their own espoused premises, e.g. the false belief called “unconditional election” (i.e. the belief that before God created the world he decided who would be lost and who be damned, choosing some for salvation and choosing the rest for damnation) and God’s “love” for what in their theology are termed the “reprobates”.

People need to carefully consider how the love of God and hatred of God manifests itself regarding the elect and the reprobates in consistent calvinism.

I am firmly convinced that if non-Calvinists really understood the logical implications of unconditional election, they would more readily reject it as it should be rejected. While very few Calvinists are consistent with their premises, some are, some do admit that God does not love the unelect/reprobates. And this is where it gets much, much worse. Not only can the consistent Calvinist not assert that God loves reprobates: if they were truly consistent they would openly admit that God HATES reprobates.

Angus Stewart is one such consistent Calvinist who fully realizes the logical implications of his unconditional election doctrine. Angus holds the exact same beliefs as John Calvin with no attempts to water it down, make it more palpable, make it seem less harsh (as is often the case with many modern calvinists who do not present the unvarnished version when they proselytize others to become calvinists). Notice what he says about God not only not loving the unelect/reprobates, but in reality hating them. Stewart recognizes that what God does to the unelect/reprobates is the MOST HATEFUL THING that could be done to a person.

Stewart correctly realizes that reprobation towards a human person is hatred of that person:

“This is talking about a will of God in reprobation to damn people forever for their sins in hell. That is hatred. There could not be a greater demonstration of hatred than that. Think about it. Any idea this is something less than hatred just will not do.”

And note that Stewart correctly gets just how bad reprobation is and how hateful it is: “There could not be a greater demonstration of hatred than that.”

Stewart is also aware that some calvinists who do not stomach their own reprobation doctrine very well will try to rationalize it not as hatred of these persons, but just God supposedly loving them less or loving them in a different sense:

“If that is supposedly loved less I ask you what more could God do if He really hated them? . . . . If that’s not hatred, I don’t know what hatred is.”

He is correct, that is hatred and what could be more hateful than reprobating a person?

It doesn’t matter if you throw them some bones during this life, give them a nice house or car or possessions, etc.. If God decided for them to be damned and controls everything in such a way as to ensure their damnation, make sure they never had a chance to believe, make sure they were damned from eternity and for eternity, that is the worst most hateful thing that you could to a human person. Just as saving a person is the most loving thing that God could do, the converse, reprobating a person, is the most hateful thing that God could do to that person.

So let’s see the Calvinistic doctrine of reprobation for its genuine ugliness and see the hate that is involved if God really did that to people. It is much worse than merely God not loving people, it is God hating people from eternity, during this lifetime and then eternally in the next. If seeing this doctrine for what it is, makes people squirm, makes them uncomfortable, makes them react strongly against it, that needs to happen for people to reject this vicious and pernicious Calvinistic doctrine.

Robert

    Jim G.

    Hi Robert,

    To piggyback on what you wrote, a consistent application of unconditional election and reprobation (UER) has devastating effects on the Christian doctrine of God. Unconditional reprobation implies that the very nature of God is the source of hate as well as love, which forces us, if we are both honest and consistent, to try to theologically explain what that means. The unavoidable (at least in my mind) implication of UER is that there is some sort of animosity in the Godhead himself. In other words, if God is capable of unconditional hate, then the origin of hate lies “in God” and nowhere else. Since God is eternally one being yet three persons, either (at least) two of the persons have some sort of hate for one another or one of the persons has a kind of reflexive self-hatred. Either type of hatred, then, is the impetus behind the dark side of UER, since the origin of hate lies in God himself. I don’t know how such a conclusion is avoidable. Not only that, but the Christian God is morphed into the Manichean eternal good and eternal evil rolled into one. He alone becomes the eternal source of the ultimate good (election to eternal salvation) and the ultimate evil (reprobation to eternal damnation). UER renders “good” and “evil” ultimately meaningless.

    Since such ideas are absolutely absurd, we must say that hatred for created beings does not originate in God’s nature. If hatred does not originate in God as such, then unconditional reprobation cannot exist.

    Jim G.

      Robert

      Hello Jim G,

      Happy to see you respond. I really appreciated what you shared :

      “To piggyback on what you wrote, a consistent application of unconditional election and reprobation (UER) has devastating effects on the Christian doctrine of God.”

      This is a very good observation and yet another reason that Calvinism should cause people to pause and think what its implications really are.

      “Unconditional reprobation implies that the very nature of God is the source of hate as well as love, which forces us, if we are both honest and consistent, to try to theologically explain what that means.”

      You are right about this.

      If reprobation is the most hateful thing that could be done to a person, then the reality that God has this hatred for most of the human race before it ever exists on the earth is absolutely chilling. This is why Wesley said of this doctrine that it makes the blood run cold.

      “The unavoidable (at least in my mind) implication of UER is that there is some sort of animosity in the Godhead himself. In other words, if God is capable of unconditional hate, then the origin of hate lies “in God” and nowhere else.”

      Yet another gruesome implication of consistent Calvinism.

      “Since God is eternally one being yet three persons, either (at least) two of the persons have some sort of hate for one another or one of the persons has a kind of reflexive self-hatred. Either type of hatred, then, is the impetus behind the dark side of UER, since the origin of hate lies in God himself. I don’t know how such a conclusion is avoidable.”

      Again this idea that God is the originator of hatred and that he originates it and then expresses it towards most of the human race (most of the human race is not going to be saved if they were unconditionally chosen for damnation), again how can Bible believing persons who know the character of God as revealed in scripture and experientially not reject this false theology?

      “Not only that, but the Christian God is morphed into the Manichean eternal good and eternal evil rolled into one.”

      It is significant that Augustine who originated the unconditional election doctrine (it was not found in the early church before him) came out of a Manichean background. Some have suggested that may be partly the explanation as to why he originated the unconditional election doctrine. In consistent Calvinism there are two groups, those God loves the elect and those God hates the reprobates (and this is parallel to the Manichean idea of two gods one evil and one good).

      “He alone becomes the eternal source of the ultimate good (election to eternal salvation) and the ultimate evil (reprobation to eternal damnation). UER renders “good” and “evil” ultimately meaningless.”

      Right, Calvinism leads to a form of relativism at the base of it. There is not intrinsic good and evil, instead, If God chooses you to be elect you become good and if God chooses to damn you, you become evil (and the roles could just as easily have been reversed, he could have damned any elect person instead and saved any damned person, it depends solely on what he chose you to be). I have seen some Calvinists become very downcast when they realize this fact. God elected them in this scenario, but in many other scenarios he could just as easily have elected them to damnation. It all depends on the total plan not on intrinsic good or evil.

      “Since such ideas are absolutely absurd, we must say that hatred for created beings does not originate in God’s nature. If hatred does not originate in God as such, then unconditional reprobation cannot exist.”

      That is an interesting argument against reprobation. If unconditional reprobation is true then hatred originated in God. If it is false then hatred originated with a created being rather than God. The scripture reveals that God is love and that sin originates with angels and men. So that is a good argument against Calvinism (as consistent Calvinism holds to both election to salvation and reprobation). Thanks for your comments and this argument.

      Robert

Andy Williams

Dr Braxton wrote: “They sought God and he responded.”

How is this consistent with, “There is none that seeks God.” and “we love him because he first loved us.” ? Even aside from the Election issue, it seems one can reject calvinism, and be a biblical christian without going so far as this statement. I believe the Classical Arminian explaination of prevenient grace is much more biblically sound than simply saying, “We seek God, and then God responds.” Even a staunch Arminian would reject such a statement. Would not a more biblical statement be: “God seeks us, invites us, draws us, and then we must respond in faith.” ?

Thanks for the discussion,
-Andy

    Braxton Hunter

    Andy,

    Aside from the fact that both the Old and New Testaments encourage the seeking of God, I think you raise an important point of clarification. I have no problem with the idea of prevenient grace. They may seek God (i.e. a desire to hear and seek out the gospel message) in response to God’s prompting them. Perhaps I could have phrased that more appropriately, but there is no problem with that concept. As far as Paul’s words about none seeking God, Paul is referencing Psalm 14 which says, “They are corrupt and have committed abominable deeds; There is no one who does good. The Lord has looked down from heaven upon the sons of men To see if there are any who understand WHO SEEK AFTER GOD (emphasis mine) They have all turned aside, together they have become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one. Do all the workers of wickedness not know, WHO EAT UP MY PEOPLE AS THEY EAT BREAD (emphasis mine) . . .” This passage is clearly making a general statement about man and not speaking in wooden terms. That is to say, that if we take the phrase “no one seeks” so woodenly and literally then we are forced to take the following phrase (in caps above) in the same manner. Does anyone on this blog really believe that all unelect people desperately want to be literal cannibals? I doubt it. As far as the idea of loving God because he first loved us, I see no rub at all. After all, I’m arguing here that God loves all people. Of course we love him because he first loved us. However, I think you were just trying to make a helpful corrective on the terminology and for that I am thankful. Yes, I believe that God must convict and draw before anyone will make a choice in favor of Him. I simply believe that he does this for more people than merely the elect. Further, there is no problem saying that he convicts the unevangelized. Nevertheless, thank you for the opportunity to comment on the oft misused reference Paul is making.

    Blessings

      Andy Williams

      Thanks for the reply and clarification, I agree with most of what you have said here.

      I disagree, however, with the interpretation that Rom. 3 does not apply to all humans…Psalm 14 may have been only referencing the pagan enemies of Israel, but Rom. 3 clearly includes Jews & Greeks. However, you are correct that it does not mean no one seeks God ever…simply that no one seeks God unless God draws him first. The general drawing of all, prevenient grace, whatever you want to call it takes this into account.

      This is one point, I think, in which many SBCers are reluctant to sign on fully to the traditional statement. They may be as opposed to calvinism as Rick Patrick on on caffiene, but cannot agree with “We deny that Adam’s sin resulted in the incapacitation of any person’s free will.” …because they see a further reaching effects of the fall in places like Romans 3, even affecting the will. They are, in effect, more Arminian in their understanding of depravity. (Myself, I’m somewhere in the middle) :-)

      -Andy

        Braxton Hunter

        Andy,

        I would say that anyone who refuses to sign the trad statement for that reason probably misunderstands one simple point. The fall resulted in a nature and environment inclined toward sin. No SBC trad that I know of is a strict or hard libertarian. We are soft-libertarians meaning that we accept that man is influenced by his nature and environment. That man’s will is not fully “incapacitated” (fully being necessitated by the word incapacitated), does not mean that he is not heavily influenced by sin to the point of every man having a sin problem. This I think gives you depravity without the unbiblical idea of total inability. Therefore, taking the trad statement and the BF&M together (as all grads do) not only resolves this concern, but also gives you a picture that I think reflects what most SBs (those not Calvinists) think about the situation.

          Andy

          I think I understand this, at least to a degree, Here’s my final thoughts on the matter.

          1. I still think there are some,perhaps many SB’s, who reject Calvinism out of hand, and yet would take depravity, the effects of the fall further than you and/or the Traditional statement would. Some would have the classical Arminian position of total Depravity, but depravity overcome by a universal prevenient grace applied to all enabling them to once again make a free choice. To speak of simply a “nature and environment inclined toward sin.”, for many, is not what they believe about the fall, or the Romans description of how Adam’s sin affected us. (Yes, I know this is exactly what the BFM2000 states…but what I am saying is that in the baptist churches I grew up in (churches that would soundly reject calvinism)…their view of the fall, was none-the-less more severe, if I can use the word…and really, how many SBCers have actually read the BFM?)

          2. I actually think Traditionalists should use the above differences to further clarity their position. This distinction is the primary reason a traditionalist can say, “NO, we are not Arminians.” If they can do this in a way that does not seek to alienate SB’s who ARE more classically arminian (albeit with a belief in eternal security), then they can join with those other SB’s who would not call themselves Traditionalists, while having common ground on the issue of predestination. I believe it would be a mistake to try to say that what Traditionalists believe is what all non-calvinists SBCers believe. Rather than saying, “Hey, we really all believe the same thing on this issue, you just are saying it differently” Why not readily accept that there is a segment that would take depravity farther than Traditionalists take it…celebrate that difference as a distinction worth making.

          3. I really only have 2 points, but I’ll devote this one to thanking you for your continued and civil replies.

          Andy

          I should probably add, that when I say arminian, I am accepting a classical definition of arminians, one given by evangelical arminians themselves, which clarifies that one CAN be an arminian and belief in eternal security. There is some debate as to whether Jacob Arminius ever actually taught that one could apostasize, and his followerers the remonstrants originally took no position on the issue…though they eventually decided on the possibility of forfieting one’s salvation….and there have always been some arminians who accepted all the points of Arminianism, but believed in eternal security.

            Rick Patrick

            Andy,

            I think vast numbers of Southern Baptists believe in depravity without inability. In other words, they believe man has not lost the ability to say either “yes” or “no” to God. This Responsibility of Man doctrine is consistent with the BFM2K and with everything taught in the Hobbs-Rogers tradition. God still initiates and draws through His Holy Spirit, but not in an individually selective or exclusive manner. He draws through the gospel. Incidentally, while you are right that I disagree with Calvinism, I am not so much opposed to Calvinism per se as I am opposed to the *Calvinization* of the SBC in terms of our leadership, entities, plans, vision, etc.

            Blessings,
            Rick Patrick On Caffeine

              phillip

              “I think vast numbers of Southern Baptists believe in depravity without inability. In other words, they believe man has not lost the ability to say either ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to God.”

              Amen.

              And, Rick, make no mistake, when a Calvinist, or Arminian, speaks of Total Depravity they mean Total Inability. In other words, without a “special” dose of grace man cannot say “yes” to God.

              God bless and a very Merry Christmas to you and yours!

Jim Poulos

The title of this article is “Taking past each other.” Very appropriate. Someone once mentioned that has stuck with me is that if the enemy can get you into a fight you eventually become like your enemy and you forget the true fight. In the movie Sea Biscuit, John Pollard got so angry with another jockey his anger made him lose the race.

In all our correcting each other, May the Lord keep us headed to win “the race He has set before us.” And to do so we really should be articulated even in these discussions what ‘that race’ is.

“But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.”

Braxton Hunter

Jim, as I read over the comments I don’t really see where we are talking past each other. I see responses and counter responses by brothers who disagree, but that is not that same as continually misunderstanding. If I labeled the learning process between student and teacher, which is often full of difficulty, merely talking past each other and surmised that it would be best not to continue, no one would ever graduate kindergarten. Iron sharpens iron. The fact which no Calvinist on this thread has disagreed with is, “On Calvinism God either does not love or loves in a different sense, the elect.” Many Non-Calvinist pastors are not aware of this. That they are not aware of this leads to some major talking past each other. Thus, I submit this article as a way of helping move the discussion along. We all need to understand what the implications of Calvinism, or any other Christian ism are. I agree, however, with your admonition that we do it in a spirit of love while keeping our eyes fixed on the greater goal. I have certainly tried to do that, and I assume others here have as well.

Blessings,
Braxton

    Braxton Hunter

    “On Calvinism God either does not love or loves in a different sense, the elect.” Should read “On Calvinism God either does not love or loves in a different sense, the unelect.”

    Jim Poulos

    Braxton,

    Thank you for the reply and I do appreciate your goals.

    Jim

Leave a Comment:

All fields with “*” are required

 characters available