The Hell Pile

June 3, 2016

Marty Comer | Pastor
Sand Ridge Baptist Church, Lexington, TN

*This article was originally published at Dr. Comer’s website A Living Faith and was used by permission.

In the spring of 1986 I was a sophomore at Mississippi State University and I was excited about the things God was doing in my life. I had been appointed to serve as a Baptist Student Union Summer Missionary in Northwest Pennsylvania in the upcoming summer. But before I could begin my summer mission work, there was still much to be done at school. There were tests to take, papers to write, and duties I had to fulfill.

One of my responsibilities was my work-study job at the University’s Forest Products Resource Laboratory. I worked as a laboratory assistant and it was in the laboratory that I had my eyes opened, not just to the properties of forest products, but to a theological question that I had never before considered. 

One of the graduate students who worked in the lab was involved in something with which I was unfamiliar. It was called the Reformed movement. I had grown up in a traditional Baptist church and had never encountered anyone who was “Reformed” (although I did know a few people who could have benefited from reform school).

On this particular day we were working in the lab with small blocks of wood on which tests were being performed. We were weighing them and compiling data for the research leader to use in her work. In the midst of our tedious work the conversation turned to the doctrine of salvation.

I had always been taught that God created the world and it was good, but that Adam and Eve sinned and their posterity inherited a sinful nature and thus were separated from God. But God, due to His amazing love and marvelous grace, gave his one and only Son, Jesus Christ, to die for the sins of all mankind so that those who believe in him would not perish but have everlasting life.

This belief was at the core of the preaching and teaching that I had been exposed to for the first 19 years of my life. It was central to my faith. It was fundamental to my belief system. And it contained another element that flowed from this basic outline of the gospel. I had always been taught that babies who died before an age of moral accountability were safe from eternal judgment.

But on this day, those beliefs were about to be challenged. As we worked on our tedious duties in the lab I listened as my reformed co-worker shared a version of the Christian story with which I was unfamiliar. He told me that Jesus didn’t die for the sins of all people, but only for those who were the elect. In fact, those who were not chosen from before the foundation of the world to be in the family of God were not just unlucky or unfortunate; they were objects of God’s wrath. In some astonishing way, their sad predicament even reflected the glory and greatness of God. And there was nothing they could do about their plight. It was fixed by an eternal decree given before the foundation of the world.

I explained to my friend that I had never heard this kind of thinking and it was foreign to me. As a nineteen year old who had only been a Christian for three years I didn’t know how to respond to such ideas. Did God decree from eternity who would be saved and who would be lost? Did evangelism make a difference? Was I wasting my upcoming summer by going to serve on the mission field? My mind was filled with questions.

Then, it came to me. Certainly God’s desire to save wasn’t limited and I felt like I could prove it to my co-worker. So I asked him a question that I thought would expose a major flaw in his theology.

If every person’s eternal destiny is settled before the foundation of the world and there is no changing God’s eternal decree of those who would be saved and those who would be condemned, then what, I boldly asked, happens to babies who die in infancy? Surely he would not say that little babies would go to hell. I couldn’t imagine that he would say that the eternal fate of babies who pass away in infancy is determined and that a loving God would condemn some of them to hell.

Perhaps he might assert that God had decreed they all go to heaven, but I couldn’t imagine anyone consigning little babies to an eternity of fire and brimstone. Having grown up in a traditional Baptist church that believed that God’s grace extended to children who died before the age of accountability, a belief that I wrongly assumed at my tender age of 19 was taught by all churches, I thought I had my co-worker cornered.

His answer was stunning. You must remember that we were working in a laboratory on little blocks of wood as we were having our discussion. And my co-worker picked up a little block of wood and dropping it on one side of his work station said, “If this baby was predestined to go to heaven, he goes in the heaven pile.”  He then picked up another little block of wood and dropping on the other side of his work station said, “If this baby was predestined to go to hell, he goes in the hell pile.”

And he continued dropping blocks of wood into two piles while saying, “this one goes in the heaven pile, and this one goes into the hell pile.”

I was in shock. His unemotional, heartless, and unconcerned dropping of symbolic children into the hell pile made my blood run cold.

I could not, did not, and still do not believe that God, before the foundation of the world, created people for the purpose of being dropped into the hell pile.

Jesus didn’t say to Nicodemus, “Too bad, Nick, there is a hell pile for most people and you had better hope you drew a good number in the pre-creation salvation lottery when the decrees were made.”

Instead he said to Nicodemus, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him” (John 3:16-17).

That doesn’t sound to me like God has a “hell pile” created for infants, children, and adults. Instead it sounds like He has a plan to save infants, children, and adults.

Jesus lamented over Jerusalem saying “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!” (Luke 13:34).

That doesn’t sound like a Savior who was unwilling to save. It sounds like a Savior whose heart was breaking because the only thing that kept the inhabitants of Jerusalem from entering His Kingdom was the fact that they “were not willing.”

God has repeatedly revealed His desire to redeem sinful mankind. In the Old Testament, the sacrificial lamb was required for redemption. In the story of Abraham and Isaac, one lamb was substituted for one son (Genesis 22). In the story of the Passover, one lamb protected one family from judgment (Exodus 12). In the worship on the Day of Atonement, one lamb was substituted for one nation (Leviticus 16). It is evident that as God progressively reveals himself and his plan in the Old Testament, that the stream of redemption is ever widening.

First, there is one lamb for one child, then one lamb for one family, then one lamb for an entire nation, and then we come to the New Testament where we are told that Jesus Christ is the “lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).

From one lamb for one child to one lamb for the entire world! Jesus didn’t come to condemn people to the hell pile. He is the sin bearer who came to take away the sin of the world, and to tell the world that, “to all who received him, to those who believed on his name,” he would give “the right to become children of God” (John 1:12).

God loved the world and sent His Son to die for the sins of mankind in order that mankind could be reconciled to Him. Through faith in Christ there is hope for all people. God loves the entire human race. And because of that love, in the words of Paul, he “wants all men to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4).

As C.S. Lewis pointed out in The Great Divorce, “There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, ‘Thy will be done,’ and those to whom God says, in the end, ‘Thy will be done.’”

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Andrew Barker

This I like …. “First, there is one lamb for one child, then one lamb for one family, then one lamb for an entire nation, and then we come to the New Testament where we are told that Jesus Christ is the “lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).”

All well known truths, but put together in a way I’d not seen before.
Thanks :-)

Adam Harwood

Thanks for writing about that conversation, Marty. Blessings, friend.

Adam

Roland Peer

Dr. Comer, we need to get this message out across to a wider audience, and to that end, I’m collating an inductive study guide for small groups and study groups.

The more difficult path is to wade through passages on election and predestination and have an inconclusive, semi-philosophical argument about the character of God and how God accomplishes His purposes.

But the entire TULIP framework hinges on the T – the argument that unsaved men are inherently incapable of believing in and receiving the Lord. If the focus is on the testimonies of and exhortations to unsaved men in Scripture, there is an inductive case that perhaps unsaved men are able to believe without the [unconditional] intervention of God, who overrides the wills of the elect.

And once you establish that perhaps people have agency in accepting or rejecting salvation, then there is no way we can read verses on election and predestination as a lottery system on salvation. It’s quite simple, but it does take some time and effort (self-Bible investigation) to see how this works!

The Traditional Statement touches upon this (which is why it has been inaccurately accused of semi-Pelagianism by Mohler et al). But Arminianism is set up to fail by acknowledging the T (that men can’t believe without God’s intervention).

Bo Grace

Great article Marty…guarantee some of it will show up in a sermon soon. Great quote from C.S. Lewis…never heard that before, right on target.

Dennis Lee Dabney

Brother,

This is an excellent “offering” on the subject.

Reform school was a classic!

Preach!

Lydia

The first time I heard such horror was reading Challies blog comments about 10 years ago. My prior experience with Calvinists were the social gospel or frozen chosen types who either wanted to help you or leave you alone. :o) But real men on that blog were writing in comments that God is glorified when He throws babies into hell. As if it were a hard cold fact that could not be refuted.

I knew I had stumbled into a very dark world of thinking.

Robert

While I know some Calvinists that are good people, can we put Calvinist theology in the “hell pile”?

doug sayers

Thanks Marty. We need to keep answering those who have the shocking honesty to actually apply the Calvinistic inferences to children who die.

We must also be prepared to answer those professing Calvinists who suggest that infant death is proof of irresistible election. Their hearts and creeds are in undeniable conflict.

To those who wonder why we keep this fight up: it is because the impeccable character of God is important.

(Noteworthy also is the subject of Dr Mohler’s Briefing today, where he struggled to distinguish between the growing secular theory, which dispatches moral guilt and responsibility in favor of inevitable physiological causes, and the typical Calvinistic theory about inevitable “inclinations” that would irresistibly cause our decision to receive or reject Jesus. Here, the Calvinist is caught cuddling with un-believing scientists!)

Randall Cofield

That the author as a college sophomore did not recognize hyper-Calvinism is understandable.

That the author as Doctor seems unaware that he was dealing with hyper-Calvinism raises some questions.

That the commenters thus far ignore that this is hyper-Calvinism is…well, I’ll try to be charitable…is characteristic.

Shall I hang around your necks the universalist or annihilationist non-Calvinist and claim that is the logical conclusion of your position?

    Rick Patrick

    Reading through the post again, I do not see that the author even addressed which form of Calvinism (High Calvinism, Low Calvinism, etc.) was being embraced by his co-worker. It seems to me, however, that the relevant “hell pile” doctrines stem from the meticulous determinism essential to the belief in unconditional election and irresistible grace, positions common to ALL Calvinistic theology.

    In other words, as long as it is true that God has determined, either before the world began or outside of the dimension of time, that certain persons will be saved, based upon nothing but His own good pleasure, then the fate of the reprobate has been firmly decided by God—either actively as He casts them in the hell pile, or passively as He chooses not to elect them for the heaven pile.

    Most Traditionalists and Arminians and other Non-Calvinists do characteristically reduce all forms of Calvinism to the type of meticulous determinism being addressed here. We also frequently dismiss the so-called “well meant offer” of salvation, arguing that it cannot truly be well meant if God has determined that man’s decision is unconditionally controlled by Him and that man will irresistibly say yes or no, according to God’s sovereign choice. Essentially, compatibilism reduces to divine determinism.

    I don’t think the author intended to lump Hyper-Calvinists with Five Pointers, Amyraldists, etc. Rather, I think he is merely teasing out the implications of even Four Point Calvinism as it relates to the meticulous determinism of unconditional election and irresistible grace.

      Randall Cofield

      Dr. Patrick,

      Very well. Then you will not begrudge me the opportunity to “tease out the implications” of Traditionalism, “dismiss” libertarianism, and “reduce” your position to its logical conclusion. Let’s call it USELESS HELL TALK.

      Traditionalism holds that man must, when wooed by the Holy Spirit, make Jesus Savior and Lord of his life by an act of libertarian free will. Therefore,

      1) God, being just, must woo all men, and,

      2) God must woo all men equally because he is no respecter of persons. Further,

      3) If any man is saved, the extent to which he is wooed sets an inviolably successful benchmark for God. Further,

      4) As the benchmark is inviolably successful, all men thus wooed will be saved. Yet,

      5) Untold millions have lived and died having never heard the gospel (see 2). Therefore,

      6) The impeccable character of God requires a postmortem wooing equal to the inviolably successful benchmark (see 3), therefore,

      7) Said postmortem wooing will always result in salvation. Therefore,

      8) All men will ultimately be saved.

      Therefore, the Traditionalist is “reduced” to having to say “What’s up with all that USELESS HELL TALK by Jesus?”

      You see, “teased out” thusly, the “implication” of Traditionalism is Universalism. However, Scripture is clear that all will not be saved, therefore, libertarian free will (and, consequently, Traditionalism) should be “dismissed.”

      See how that works? If I get to treat your position like a wax nose (as you do mine), I can make your position into anything I desire it to be (as you did my position).

      Now I’m sure you and others will quickly object to my treatment of your position. But don’t forget, if turn-about is fair play, I get to reshape your objections to my liking and then “dismiss” them out-of-hand.

      But…I will not do any of this, because such tactics render dialogue pointless.

      And brothers, if you continue to use this tactic, sooner or later you will find you are only talking to yourselves.

      Grace to you all.

        Robert

        Randall,
        You are not much of a logician Randall in your attempt at discrediting Traditionalism here. The point you seem to be intentionally missing is that to evaluate a position according to its own logic we start with its key premises and then reason from there.
        The key premise of Calvinism which the article discusses and which does lead to damnation of babies via the decree to reprobate is the premise that: God predetermines all that occurs. From this premise it follows that all individual destinies are decided before anyone is born before anyone has done anything (and that would include babies as they are part of this set of “anyones” whose fate is decided before hand).

        You try to shirk the logic of your own position by claiming it is “hyper-Calvinism”. But it follows from the premise that all things are predecided by God (a premise held by Calvin, Edwards, a premise held by you as well).

        After intentionally ignoring all of this, you then try to attack the Traditionalist view by declaring a set of premises supposedly held by Traditionalists. The problem is that premises of Traditionalism include BOTH that Jesus died for all AND the premise that after the final judgment there will be two sets of persons (those who spend eternity with God/ those who will be eternally separated from God).

        As this **is** a premise of Traditionalism, it is impossible to arrive at universalism from the premises of Traditionalism.

        So your points are invalid and are in fact an intentional misrepresentation of the Traditionalist view:

        “2) God must woo all men equally because he is no respecter of persons. Further,”
        God is sovereign and while he may “woo all men” at some point in their lives, he does not need to do so in exactly the same way (i.e. examine people’s conversion experiences and they are not all the same).

        “4) As the benchmark is inviolably successful, all men thus wooed will be saved. Yet,”
        Another Traditionalist premise which you know we hold, is that the work of the Spirit can be resisted. So all men wooed will not end up saved. Also again recall the second premise, that there are two eternal destinies, this Traditionalist premise also contradicts your point here.

        “8) All men will ultimately be saved.”
        Every Traditionalist that I know holds to the premise that there are two eternal destinies (Heaven and Hell). If this premise is true, and Traditionalists believe it to be true based upon explicit scripture (e.g. Matt. 25 the sheep and goats): then your claim here of what Traditionalists hold is false.

        Your set of points does not logically cohere nor does it represent what Traditionalists hold. Regarding the key premise of Calvinism, that God decides everything beforehand, the article points out the logical consequence of this Calvinistic premise, a consequence you have done absolutely nothing to dispel.

        “See how that works? If I get to treat your position like a wax nose (as you do mine), I can make your position into anything I desire it to be (as you did my position).”

        Ignoring our premises is like treating our position like a wax nose: but no one has treated your position like a wax nose, the logical consequence of the premise that God determines all things is that this will be true of babies as well.
        You apparently need to take a logic class as your understanding of logic and deducing according to premises is extremely flawed. Wesley said correctly that Pastors ought to be educated and part of their training ought to include training in logic. Apparently you never heard that admonition. I don’t mind if someone disagrees with me and shows me what they see as problems via a logical analysis of my position. I do mind if someone tries to present themselves as using logic and presenting the drivel that you presented.

          Randall Cofield

          “You are not much of a logician Randall in your attempt at discrediting Traditionalism here…You apparently need to take a logic class as your understanding of logic and deducing according to premises is extremely flawed…I do mind if someone tries to present themselves as using logic and presenting the drivel that you presented.”

          Them’s awful brave words for an anonymous poster, Robert-no-last-name. And comical, given that I used the same “logic” and willy-nilly belief attribution characteristic of the posts here–and given I was careful to point out what I was doing.

          Are you always this courteous when you engage your brothers in Christ, or am I just special?

          Either way, thanks for the rather revealing diatribe.

            Robert

            Randall,

            “Them’s awful brave words for an anonymous poster, Robert-no-last-name.”

            Is that supposed to be a put down?

            You are making much of the fact that I post only by first name (Yes Robert is my real name and you will find it on my birth certificate). I do not post my full name because I work with a prison ministry that involves thousands of inmates over many states (as I am constantly telling my volunteers, don’t give out your last name as some unscrupulous inmates will use personal information in manipulative ways, e.g. I once illustrated this for a volunteer by taking only their full name and showing within two minutes where they lived, address, city, state: so to protect myself and family I post only by first name). It is interesting that you make much of this, as if posting by first name is posting anonymously when it is not.

            I also find your treatment of Andrew regarding his denominational affiliation to be ridiculous. As a point of logic, even if the Devil says something that is true, is remains true even if it was the devil who said it. So Andrew’s affiliation does not make a real difference, what is important is whether or not the claims he is making are true or false.

            “And comical, given that I used the same “logic” and willy-nilly belief attribution characteristic of the posts here–and given I was careful to point out what I was doing.”

            Having taught logic at different levels including in seminary, I find your posts to be woefully inadequate in the area of logic. Usually I just ignore your posts, this time I chose not to.

            “Are you always this courteous when you engage your brothers in Christ, or am I just special?”

            Actually I am usually courteous with most people, but some such as yourself are “just special”. From the posts that I have seen you post you come across as arrogant and self-righteous. Having seen your posts for a long time now at SBC today, I notice that you like to ask others set up and trick questions but do not answer their sincere questions when asked of you. That is not a good double standard at all. Sadly, you remind me of a group in the New Testament that Jesus did not exactly appreciate either (the Pharisees, except in this case rather than peddling their false theology you peddle the false theology of Calvinism).

            I note that your response to me does not deal with my points, but is instead merely a personal attack (challenging my integrity merely because I post by my first name and claiming that I am only writing emotionally: “Either way, thanks for the rather revealing diatribe.”). Due to the nature of my work I have learned to get along with the worst imaginable types of persons and am able to do so in a courteous manner. But when I sense a “religious” person who is arrogant and self -righteous that is a different story. It is interesting that Jesus (who is my example and the one I am supposed to model myself after) had no problem getting along with the “sinners”, it was the Pharisees that really teed him off. I experience things similarly, I get along better with a tough Hell’s Angel cyclist than I do with “special people” like you.

              Randall Cofield

              I’ve been around long enough to recognize smoke-blowing when I see it, Robert-no-last-name.

    Andrew Barker

    Randall: Your comment suggests that you believe the author made an elementary mistake in not recognising hyper-Calvinism when he saw it, although you graciously concede this might be down to his lack of experience at that time. But I would suggest there is another quite straight forward reason for this so called ‘mistake’, in that there are no current well known teachers/Reformed theologians who openly admit or class themselves as hyper-Calvinists. At least, not one that I know of within the ranks of the SBC! There may be theologians dead and buried who get classed in this category, but among the living? So why would he class this as hyper-Calvinism?

    Your problem though is that if one tries to hold to the belief that God unconditionally elects individuals to salvation before the foundation of the world, then the rest as they say is ‘history’ or to put it more bluntly, determinism. You may argue freewill within compatibilism ’till the cows come home. It makes not a jot of difference if you believe that the central question of who is elect and therefore who ‘can’ be saved has been made before we are even born. If this is not hyper-Cavlinism then maybe you could explain the difference between it and what you believe.

    It’s not so much that people are trying to lump hyper-calvinists and ordinary 5/4 pointers together. There are indeed differences in the way these groups think. But this was the basis of Leighton’s comment in his blog on The Lamb’s Book of Life … “I would be interested to explore how a Calvinist who is not a supralapsarian would maintain their perspective of the Lamb’s Book of Life being completed by God unconditionally before the foundation of the world.” This is not trying to pin labels on people to which they don’t adhere but simply asking them to explain what on the face of it appears to be a blatant contradiction in terms.

      Randall Cofield

      “Your problem though is that…”

      Forgive me for being old-fashioned, Andrew, but I’m not inclined to put much stock in being told my “problem” by someone who guards his denominational affiliation and whether or not he is a member of a local church as if such is a state secret too important to be revealed on a public forum wherein he seeks to correct the soteriology and ecclesiology of others.

      And I’m not quite sure, but you may have to forgive me for that being a run-on sentence. :-)

      Peace, brother.

        Lydia

        Andrew, you should be under church discipline! (Wink)

        Randall’s insistence is weird because I thought the SBC was not a denomination, Perhaps Mohler made it one and just hasn’t told people yet. :o)

          Andrew Barker

          Lydia: Does Randall not know about non-disclosure agreements? (wink) :-D I was the subject of ‘church discipline’ at my previous church …… for expressing my views on Calvinism on Facebook LOL. Had a visit from persons who called themselves titles like Pastor and Elder. That is an age old problem. Do you remember the Pharasees who questioned the man who had been cured of his blindness from birth? “You were born in sin and you seek to question us?” The easiest way to avoid answering a question you don’t want to answer, is to rubbish the person asking it. Some things never change! :-)

            Lydia

            “Lydia: Does Randall not know about non-disclosure agreements? (wink) :-D ”

            Andrew, you gotta learn the rules. Non disclosure is fine for the big cheeses. They are specially appointed by God to keep secrets from others while they spend OPM.

            Wow, you dared express an opinion on Calvinism on your Facebook without getting elder/pastor permission first? Didn’t you know, There is no free speech in Calvinism?

              Andrew Barker

              Lydia: I believe there is free speech in Calvinism, so long as it’s compatible with what they believe. I think that’s what they term compatibilism isn’t it? (wink)

        Andrew Barker

        Randall: I have no ‘problem’ with you not answering any of my questions, that is your prerogative. My denominational affiliations are well known to regular contributors on this blog and I do not intend to go into them every time someone like you brings this up, other than to say I am non-denominational in my belief! :-)
        PS Yes I do attend church. I am the official church organist and they would notice if I didn’t turn up …. I think!

          Randall Cofield

          Anglican, perhaps?

            Andrew Barker

            Randall: What is it about non-demoninational that you can’t get? I was brought up in an open brethren assembly church, have most of my adult life in what are termed free evangelical fellowships etc. and yes I do attend a Church in Wales chuch, but no, I’m not an Anglican. Does that do it for you? This by the way, is common knowledge on this blog.

              Lydia

              Yes, even I knew that. What I don’t understand is the litmus test. Why not simply approach issues and discuss differences? I have my theory. When ones religion was indoctrinated. one tends to approach everyone else that way as if they were indoctrinated instead of educated in critical thinking skills. So it becomes about which system has correct indoctrination and who is the heretic. ,:o)

              Btw, I miss organs at church immensely. My mom played. I miss the classical majestic pieces. Now it is all smarmy over emotional Bob Kauflin stuff from SGM they love at Southern.

              SBTS used to have an excellent Music School. All gone. Thanks to Al.

                Andrew Barker

                Lydia: One of the (few) benefits of attending Church in Wales is there is the facility to mix the older hymns, normally played on the organ, with modern. We normally use a keyboard for those. Nothing special I’m afraid. It pre-dates me, but it enables us to play and sing some of the more modern songs which don’t lend themselves to being played on the organ. I’m no fan of Bob Kauflin either. I’ve seen/listened to him singing the praises of CJ (literally) and it was gut wrenching stuff.

                It’s a real shame that any music school should have gone. Educationally, that was a big mistake. What was Al thinking??

              Robert

              Andrew,

              You wrote:

              “Randall: What is it about non-demoninational that you can’t get? I was brought up in an open brethren assembly church, have most of my adult life in what are termed free evangelical fellowships etc. and yes I do attend a Church in Wales chuch, but no, I’m not an Anglican. Does that do it for you? This by the way, is common knowledge on this blog.”

              A couple things on this Andrew. First, I have known your affiliation for a long time, you mentioned it in the past, so it **is** common knowledge among those who post here.

              Second, something I have done when teaching logic classes is to get people to deal with a statement made by someone they cannot stand (e.g. a statement made by a Ku Klux Klan member, or by a Communist or Democrat or Republican, or Catholic or whatever) when the statement is true. People have to learn that what is important about truth claims is whether they are in fact true or false. Even if the devil claims something it is not necessarily false because he is the one who make the claim. People have to learn to separate claims from persons. Now sometimes the person making the claim is an issue as they are withholding information or they have vested interests so they cannot be trusted in their claims (and there are logical fallacies in regards to this). Randall has repeatedly questioned you about your denominational affiliation as if THAT alone makes your claims false. This is not logical at all, nor is it relevant. What is relevant is whether or not the claims that you make are true or false. You could be (I don’t think you are) a total jerk and yet what you are claiming could be true. For Randall to have kept questioning you on this ridiculous.

        Andrew Barker

        Randall: Now that you’re in the know, as it were, perhaps you could consider answering a few of the comments I made. Of course, you’re not obliged to do this, but if you have a half decent answer as to how somebody can hold to unconditional election and yet at the same time, not be supralapsarian in their Calvinism it would be good to hear it. And just what is a hyper-Calvinist if nobody owns up to being one!!

          Robert

          Andrew,

          “And just what is a hyper-Calvinist if nobody owns up to being one!!”

          That is an easy one, though they will not answer it honestly. The term ‘hyper calvinist” is like the fish that you lay on the trail to get the hounds messed up when they are chasing the fox (cf. the origin of the term for the fallacy known as the red herring fallacy”). It is a **common diversion** used by Calvinists like Randall when things are getting too uncomfortable concerning their false views. You throw it out there in an attempt to persuade others that your position is not at all like the position being attacked, questioned or challenged. So they create this bogey man figure, this mythical figure known as the “hyper-Calvinist”.

          I have at times, to test and keep them honest, quoted John Calvin anonymously and had Calvinists say he was “hyper-calvinist”! :-)

          Done the same thing with Jonathan Edwards, etc. :-)

          What has to be kept in mind is that there is one key premise held by Calvinists (that God predetermines all events, famously stated in the Westminster Confession as “He ordaineth whatsoever comes to pass”). If this premise is held, and it **is** held by all consistent Calvinists, and it was held by Calvin, Edwards, in the past Piper, Frame, Feinberg today: then the person has to believe in unconditional election of both the saved (called the “elect”) and the damned (called the “reprobate”).

          To use an extremely common analogy for this premise, if the author conceives the entire story beforehand, every detail of it, then it must follow that he conceives who the heroes and villains are, and their every thought and action. You cannot author only part of the novel if you are the true author of it, neither can God not predetermine any even that is part of His predetermined plan for all of history. So it is disingenuous for the Calvinist to claim that the elect are elected for salvation but the “reprobates” are merely passed over, or left to the consequences of their own sins (if God authors the entire play, which the premise of all events being predetermined necessarily demands, then God authored both the fate of the heroes/the elect and also the fate of the villains/the reprobates, he also predestined very sin of every nonbeliever). It is not as if God conceived of the elect before He created the world and then thought about the reprobates later in history when the world existed. If he conceives the whole history and exactly how it is to come to pass before He creates the world, then that whole history must include the villains of the story as well. If he conceives and preplans the entire story, that includes the fates of every individual, the sins committed by every individual, the fates of every baby, there are in fact no exceptions whatsoever to what God conceived and preplanned to occur as what we call history.

          Randall Cofield

          Andrew: Thanks for the revelation. Call me crazy, but I like to know a little about those with whom I’m exchanging posts. It eliminates a lot of the silliness that occurs with the numerous anonymous posters who wax bravely belligerent in their anonymity (not referring to you here).

          Did you ever run across a brother by the name of Norman Barr (from Ireland) in the open brethren assemblies? He’s part of the Baptist Union now, but spent many years with the brethren. A dear brother indeed, and a remarkable theologian.

          As to hyper-Calvinism, this is a well-established and historical distinction about which much has been written. Ian Murray’s “Spurgeon v. Hyper-Calvinism” is an informative read if you are interested in understanding the distinction. The attempt to lump all Calvinists into the hyper-Calvinist loaf is as common as dirt, but those who do so (like Robert-no-last-name and others here) simply ignore the distinction for the sake of creating straw men.

          Couple of quick questions: Am I understanding correctly that you attend an Anglican church, but you are not an Anglican? And do you agree with the evangelical free fellowship on a plurality of elders in church government and with their doctrine of private prayer tongues?

          Grace to you.

            Lydia

            Andrew, See what I mean? You have to be thoroughly vetted now that you have mentioned some affiliations. I don’t know if you ever read Pyromaniacs but they are a lot like Randall. Or, Randall emulates them. Especially Turk. Just like Jesus whom they are paid to represent. :o)

            The air must be thin for Randall up there.

            Andrew Barker

            Randall: I don’t mind answering some personal questions, but really my personal circumstances are not relevant to the discussion. I agree with a plurality of elders but not in people having these titles. There are people who act in the capacity of an elder within their church who are not formally recognised as such and there are plenty of people who hold the title of elder who have no such function. The same goes for pastors many of whom do not match up to their ‘position’.

            So when it comes to being a hyper-Calvinist, we can be certain only of one thing which is that normally nobody is one, unless they’re dead! That is unless they happen to be sorting pieces of wood into two piles. This arbitrary choice is, according to your own description, akin to hyper-calvinism but I cannot see any difference between that and how most people describe unconditional election. Perhaps you know enough about me now that you would be prepared to elucidate just why one action is hyper-calvinism as opposed to straightforward unconditional election?

              Randall Cofield

              Andrew: “This arbitrary choice is, according to your own description, akin to hyper-calvinism but I cannot see any difference between that and how most people describe unconditional election.”

              That is likely because, like the hyper-Calvinist mentioned in the OP, you seem to view unconditional election as an “arbitrary” choice made by God. It is anything but arbitrary. Election arises from the good pleasure of the infinitely wise, holy and *just* God (Eph. 1:3-9).

              Do you believe Christians should hold membership in and be active in a local church, Andrew?

                Lydia

                “That is likely because, like the hyper-Calvinist mentioned in the OP, you seem to view unconditional election as an “arbitrary” choice made by God. It is anything but arbitrary. Election arises from the good pleasure of the infinitely wise, holy and *just* God (Eph. 1:3-9).”

                Does God say why some were chosen and others were not. Your scripture reference does not rule out arbitrary as you interpret it from the determinist filter.

                Does He say why He told people to repent and believe when He knew some were unable? You guys really turn God into a tyrannical monster in the image of Calvin.

                Andrew Barker

                Randall: You’ve taken the opportunity to evade the question again. The word arbitrary is not necessary so I’ll drop it and rephrase my question as follows: This choice made by the person is, according to your own description, akin to hyper-calvinism but I cannot see any difference between that and how most people describe unconditional election.

                Why is the choice made by the person in Marty Comer’s illustration deemed by you to constitute hyper-calvinism but unconditional election as defined by you and most calvinists, is not?

                  Randall Cofield

                  Andrew: With all due respect, the fact that I did not answer the question to your liking does not constitute my evading the question.

                  I would answer the revised question the same way I answered your first question.

                  And, speaking of evading questions, do you believe Christians should hold membership in and be active in a local church, Andrew?

                    Andrew Barker

                    Randall: You didn’t answer my question you just stated your views on unconditional election. We know those. You’ve failed to show in what way the person in Marty Comer’s illustration, who you say was a hyper-calvinist, was acting in a way different to the way unconditional election is explained by most calvinists. We have no idea what is going on in the mind of either the person doing the selecting of wooden blocks or God in selecting his elect. Both selections appear to be totally under the control of both examples. So why is one example hyper-calvinism and the other not?

                    Randall Cofield

                    Andrew: I’ve answered your question twice. I’ll try one more time with a little more detail, but my answer remains the same.

                    You queried: “Why is the choice made by the person in Marty Comer’s illustration deemed by you to constitute hyper-calvinism but unconditional election as defined by you and most calvinists, is not?”

                    The person in Marty’s illustration presented God’s election of individuals as a completely *arbitrary* act (just as you admitted in your first questioning of me). “This one goes in the heaven pile, that one goes in the hell pile.” To make an arbitrary choice is to chose without motive, purpose, or any concern for justice. This is the way Marty’s illustration clearly intended to portray unconditional election…and this is the way *hyper-Calvinists* portray unconditional election. Further, this is the way opponents of Calvinism *wish* to portray unconditional election.

                    Contrarily, however, Calvinists hold that unconditional election arises from the good pleasure of God’s will, which good pleasure is *holy*, *righteous*, and *just*. (Eph. 1:3-9). In other words, God’s *choice* of individuals for salvation is *not* arbitrary, motiveless, or purposeless, but is, in keeping with his character, a holy act that is righteous in its motive and holy in its purpose–and is absolutely just in its execution.

                    That is the difference between Marty’s hyper-Calvinistic lab-fellow and Calvinism.

                    Now brother, you may not like my answer, but let’s stop pretending that I have not answered your question, shall we?

                    And finally, do you believe Christians should hold membership in and be active in a local church, Andrew?

            Robert

            Randall,

            You wrote:

            “It eliminates a lot of the silliness that occurs with the numerous anonymous posters who wax bravely belligerent in their anonymity (not referring to you here).”

            In a prior direct post to me you wrote: “Them’s awful brave words for an anonymous poster, Robert-no-last-name.”
            Twice you seem to be claiming that I am writing “bravely” because I am posting “anonymously”.

            You are wrong about me posting **anonymously** as I am posting by my real name.

            So your claim (made repeatedly) that I am posting anonymously is false.

            I also have good reasons to post only by first name (already discussed no need to repeat here).

            But this thing about “bravery” is ludicrous.

            Do you really think non-Calvinists are afraid to post against Calvinism?

            Should we be?

            Are you going to banish or imprison or even kill us as your predecessors did (e.g. the Reformers treatment of the Anabaptists)?

            Do you really believe that non-Calvinists will only have the courage to post against your false theology of Calvinism if we post anonymously??

            “As to hyper-Calvinism, this is a well-established and historical distinction about which much has been written. Ian Murray’s “Spurgeon v. Hyper-Calvinism” is an informative read if you are interested in understanding the distinction. The attempt to lump all Calvinists into the hyper-Calvinist loaf is as common as dirt, but those who do so (like Robert-no-last-name and others here) simply ignore the distinction for the sake of creating straw men.”
            I am quite aware that hyper Calvinism is a term used by Calvinists. Randall like a bad marksmen you keep missing the target. Non-Calvinists here are not claiming that this distinction does not exist. We KNOW that Calvinists make this distinction, our problem is that your usage appears serve just as a diversion. When things get hot in the kitchen, when you feel your cherished false theology being threatened. THEN you bring out the claim that we are only talking about “hyper-Calvinists”, that we are not really talking about your positon. This is strictly an evasion on your part, just a blatant example of the red herring fallacy (you drag the fish, in this case, the mere term ‘Hyper-Calvinist” along the trail to confuse the hounds divert them from the fox).

            One of the things I have been repeatedly told by Calvinists is that hyper Calvinists do not believe in evangelism. But we are not talking about evangelism here, the focus was on the false doctrine of unconditional election and the fact that if someone believes that all things are predecided by God, then that will relate to babies as well.
            And you cannot escape this fact, it follows from your guiding premise that all things are ordained by God (if all things are ordained by God then that has to include the individual fates of babies as well).

            THAT is not hyper-calvinism, THAT is a logically necessary inference from your own premise.

            Now you can try all sorts of diversionary techniques (including mocking me for posting only by my first name, falsely claiming I am posting anonymously, questioning our denominational affiliation, etc.) but none of this has anything to do with the claim that if God ordains all things, then that has to include the fates of individual babies as well. If all is ordained, then that means every event, without exception (to quote an important Calvinist confession again: “He ordaineth whatsoever comes to pass”).

            Randall instead of writing emotionally and engaging in unjustified personal attacks of non-Calvinists and logical fallacies, why not stick to logical analysis of the issue?

              Randall Cofield

              Robert-no-last-name:

              To lump all Calvinists with the hyper-Calvinist college student mentioned in the OP when most Calvinists believe all non-sentient individuals are elect unto salvation is absurd, and you know it.

              And if you are as bellicose in person as you are in your posts here, you have a much more serious problem than your angst about Calvinism.

                Lydia

                Randall. Are you planning to track people down and stalk them? Or perhaps pull a Doug Wilson and call their pastor demanding they be disciplined as a heretic, online? He demands the same, too. You are OTT with wanting last names. It comes off creepy. Your power is in your little kingdom you rule with the lemmings who think you are credible. . Not outside your bubble.

                I am so glad this is not 1500’s Geneva!!! Praise the Lord!

                  Randall Cofield

                  You may be hyper-ventilating, Lydia-no-last-name. :-)

                    Lydia

                    Randall, that is interesting coming from one so emotionally charged.

                    Besides, Southern women get the vapors. :o)

                Lydia

                Randall, here are some new-old insults for you:

                http://ergofabulous.org/luther/

                Robert

                Randall,

                “Robert-no-last-name:”

                If you had any class, after I had explained why I post only by first name (in order to protect myself and family from unscrupulous inmates who use people’s personal information to manipulate them and do all sorts of evil things to them) you would have apologized. But No, instead of apologizing you continue your attack of me for posting only by first name.

                “To lump all Calvinists with the hyper-Calvinist college student mentioned in the OP when most Calvinists believe all non-sentient individuals are elect unto salvation is absurd, and you know it.”

                No, the student in the story, simply followed the logic of the Calvinistic premise that God ordains all events (cf. “ “If this baby was predestined to go to heaven, he goes in the heaven pile.” . . ., “If this baby was predestined to go to hell, he goes in the hell pile.”) Take the emotion away, babies are human persons, God ordains all events including the destiny of all human persons: therefore God ordains the eternal fate of babies, as with adults some are ordained to salvation some are ordained to hell.

                If God ordains all events before they occur, then the student is correct, some are ordained for salvation and some are ordained for hell. This necessarily follows from the premise that God ordains all events. This is strict logic from the Calvinist premise that God ordains all things. Now if you disagree with that premise, if you believe that He does not ordain all things, then you can disagree with the Calvinist student. If you agree with the premise then if you are logically consistent with your own premise/that God ordains all things: then you see the logic of the student. Instead of facing the necessary logic of your own premise you engage in personal attacks of non-Calvinists such as myself (attacking Andrew on his affiliation, attacking me for posting by first name only when I have very good reasons for doing so).

                Now here is where the inconsistency jumps out. Calvinists have no qualms about believing that God preselects adults to salvation or hell, they just get squeamish about babies. So some will argue that God ordains the salvation of all infants. But upon what basis is this group of human persons any different than the group of adult human persons? The basis is the emotional involvement of Calvinists, some just cannot apply their controlling presupposition, their dominating premise that God ordains all events to the fate of babies. Now I happen to know some who are consistent with the premise as this student was. But people like Randall Cofield make a distinction between adults and babies purely based upon emotion, not the logic of their position.

                “And if you are as bellicose in person as you are in your posts here, you have a much more serious problem than your angst about Calvinism.”

                Actually I am not “bellicose” with everyday people: I make exception for “special persons” such as you. Again, take Jesus as the example, examine the interactions He had with every day people. He was not “bellicose” with them at all (cf. he never would have been invited to the parties held by the tax collectors if he were). And yet this same Jesus, absolutely went off (cf. Matt. 23, etc.) on the Pharisees, who prided themselves on their superior theology, Bible knowledge, and daily practices. Sound familiar? Compare it with when non-Calvinists dare challenge arrogant Calvinists who pride themselves on their superior theology and Bible knowledge. I have had inmates tell me things such as “you are religious and yet you are not religious”. It is a nice compliment. And I have never heard any inmate ever say that I was “bellicose”. Common everyday people don’t talk like that: it takes a modern Pharisee to talk to me like that. I seriously doubt that if we could be transported back to the first century via a time machine that Randall would be invited to any of the tax collector parties that Jesus was invited to!

                  Lydia

                  “If you had any class, after I had explained why I post only by first name (in order to protect myself and family from unscrupulous inmates who use people’s personal information to manipulate them and do all sorts of evil things to them) you would have apologized. But No, instead of apologizing you continue your attack of me for posting only by first name.”

                  My many years in and out of secular organizations as a an org development consultant did not prepare me for the evil deeds i saw done to others in the Name of God. The last 15 years have been a real eye opener.

                  I hope I would be considered worthy to attend the tax collectors banquet. :o)

                    Robert

                    Lydia,

                    “My many years in and out of secular organizations as a an org development consultant did not prepare me for the evil deeds i saw done to others in the Name of God. The last 15 years have been a real eye opener.”

                    Yes that is sad, the very place where you expect the best from human behavior you sometimes find the worst. And as you say, it is “done to others in the Name of God”. Bob Dylan once did a song, WITH GOD ON OUR SIDE where he talks about how whenever there is a war people on both sides claim that God is on their side. From people’s bad church experiences I can understand how some want to have nothing to do with some professing Christians. But I try not to worry too much about that because of two Bible passages. The passage that says the wheat and tares are mixed together and grow together until the final harvest/final judgment (note the angels come and they want to root out the tares NOW, but they are told to wait until the final harvest, many of us at times have felt just like the angels wanting evil and evil doers rooted out NOW). And the passage where Jesus says at the final judgment ***MANY*** will claim to know him and they will only find out on the judgment day that He never knew them, never had a personal and saving relationship with them.

                    ‘I hope I would be considered worthy to attend the tax collectors banquet. :o)”

                    I think I know what you are saying, my point was that you have to be a certain kind of person to have been invited to their parties. If you were a “holier than thou” type, religious in a bad or hypocritical way, Pharisaical in you manner, you would not have been invited. I find it interesting that Jesus who was God in the flesh and sinless, and literally was holier than thou, nevertheless was invited to these parties. That tells you a lot about his character and the kind of person that Jesus is. That means Jesus could not have been like some of the professing Christians today. They would never get invited to those meetings. He was, so there is a big disconnect between Him and his character and them and their character. I don’t want to be one of those folks. I have always counted it as a good sign when the street people liked me, the Hells Angels liked me, etc. Not because I engaged in the same things as they did, but because they did not view me as holier than thou in a bad or hypocritical way.

                    Lydia

                    Robert, if we see harm or deception and don’t speak up, we are enablers and perhaps accessories. I am not one to blame God for not fixing it. One of the problems with the interpretation of that passage is many seem to think it means we have no ability to discern or concept of basic right and wrong so both the Tares and wheat are just as likely to harm or deceive others. I don’t buy it. Is the Calvinist strain so immersed in Protestantism we can’t see a problem with that thinking? God will get them in the end so don’t bother protecting innocents or making deception known when it comes to the body of Christ?

                    Randall’s real name is Diotrephes, btw. :o)

                  Randall Cofield

                  Robert-no-last-name:

                  “Take the emotion away, babies are human persons, God ordains all events including the destiny of all human persons: therefore God ordains the eternal fate of babies, as with adults some are ordained to salvation some are ordained to hell.”

                  And yet most Calvinists believe (and make a solid case from Scripture) that God elects unto salvation all non-sentient individuals who die in that condition. And I’ve posted a link to such at the bottom of this thread. Yet you continue to absurdly tell me what I believe despite me telling you otherwise.

                  Unless you think you are the omniscient Lord Jesus (and based on your posts I’m beginning to wonder) you don’t have any idea what I think or believe unless I tell you. Hence, you should cease justifying your bellicose tantrums by appealing to Jesus “teeing off” on the Pharisees as if Lord Jesus could temper his indignation no better than you.

                  As for your aggrandizing explanation for posting anonymously, it has seemingly escaped you that withholding your last name from the inmates you minister to would be the rational and logical thing to do. Then you wouldn’t have to lurk around in the shadows with your brothers in Christ.

                  Now you may continue to throw your fits if you wish, but I will just keep on pointing out the childishness of what you are doing. Your choice.

                    Lydia

                    Randall, I double dog dare you to speak Calvinese with out using “unto”. :o)

                    Randall Cofield

                    And I double-dog dare you to speak egalitarianese on this site the way you do over at TWW.

                    Chameleon much? ;^)

                    Lydia

                    Randall, it is “mutuality-ese” As in the 58 “one another’s”. It is impossible to speak with Pharisees.

                    Robert

                    Randall,

                    “Robert-no-last-name:”

                    You continue to ridicule me for only posting by first name. Not sure why you are being so idiotic on this.

                    “As for your aggrandizing explanation for posting anonymously, it has seemingly escaped you that withholding your last name from the inmates you minister to would be the rational and logical thing to do. Then you wouldn’t have to lurk around in the shadows with your brothers in Christ.”

                    I don’t give my last name out when I speak to hundreds of inmates at a service, so I don’t do it here either because some do try to get the last name so they can do some things. Instead of recognizing that I do this to protect myself and family (which is the right thing to do in my situation) you keep attacking me and mocking me for doing so (this shows you to be a jerk rather than a gracious brother in Christ, because a gracious person would have apologized and said now I understand and left it at that, but you keep pushing it).

                    I made the point that according to Calvinistic logic, there is no basis of arguing that all babies will be saved. Another commentator understands this as well Robert Vaugh wrote: “It is hard for most everyone to approach the issue of infant salvation and damnation without it being a very emotional issue. If unconditional election is an absolute, there would be no reason to suppose that God would not unconditionally elect some who would die as infants and not elect (or unconditionally damn) others who would die as infants. It is supposed to be unconditional after all, and dying in infancy would be a condition. After all, they weren’t any more infant or person at the time God chose than anyone else was.

                    That is just it, if unconditional election is true, then logically it would apply to babies as well. But here Calvinists abandon the logic of their position and argue based purely on emotion.

                    “And yet most Calvinists believe (and make a solid case from Scripture) that God elects unto salvation all non-sentient individuals who die in that condition. “

                    If a person holds to unlimited atonement, then they can make a solid case from Scripture that God saves all babies based upon the cross of Christ. But you don’t hold to unlimited atonement, you hold to unconditional election, and by strict logic that ought to apply to babies just as much as it applies to adults. But due to emotion, you make an arbitrary distinction with babies.

                    “Yet you continue to absurdly tell me what I believe despite me telling you otherwise.”

                    I don’t think you get it, I am speaking about the logic of your premise (unconditional election). From this premise God unconditionally chooses who will be saved or damned whether they are adults or babies. But you don’t follow through on your own premise when it comes to babies. Due to emotion you then discard your own premise so that all babies are saved. So I know what you believe, but what you believe on babies is disconnected from what you believe about adults (and there is no logical basis for doing so, it is pure emotion that is the basis for the distinction).
                    “you don’t have any idea what I think or believe unless I tell you.”

                    I understand what you believe. But you ignore my point, I am speaking logically, based upon your premise of unconditional election. You apply this premise to adults but then do not apply it to babies, that is inconsistent, arbitrary and has no logical basis.

                    “Hence, you should cease justifying your bellicose tantrums by appealing to Jesus “teeing off” on the Pharisees as if Lord Jesus could temper his indignation no better than you.”

                    I was not claiming that Jesus could not temper his indignation no better than me.
                    I was claiming that Jesus had no problem with ordinary common people, he had problems with religious arrogant folks like the Pharisees. In the same way I have no problem interacting with common people, and like Jesus I do have problems with arrogant religious people like you.

    Lydia

    Randall, Universalism is just as deterministic as Calvinism. Which is probably why you see it as a logical conclusion at all.

Ron

How is saving all children who die before the age of accountability any less deterministic than choosing to save some and not save others? (I’m not arguing for or against the age of accountability theory; I just see some inconsistency in the responses.)

    Rick Patrick

    Ron,

    Granted, we believe in a different set of rules for those who have not reached an age or stage of accountability.

    For those who are developmentally or mentally incapable of exercising their free will and coming to Christ, we believe they are covered by God’s grace, and that God has chosen to save 100% of the souls who fit in this category.

    On the other hand, for those who are capable of exercising their mind, emotions and will in making a profession of faith in Christ, we believe that God has chosen to save 100% of those who freely respond to the Holy Spirit’s drawing through the gospel, and that God has chosen to condemn 100% of those who freely reject the Holy Spirit’s drawing through the gospel.

    Thus, I suppose if you want to look at it that way, God is indeed “meticulously deterministic” when it comes to those who have not yet reached the age of accountability (including the preborn, by the way), but He is not meticulously deterministic with regard to those who DO possess the ability to exercise free will, but rather He gives them the freedom to respond either way.

    An example might be: (a) I chose to feed my son peas and carrots out of baby food jars when he was too young to select his own foods, but (b) when we go out to eat today, I let him choose his entree and side dishes…because he CAN choose today, whereas before, he could not.

    I don’t view this so much as an inconsistency so much as the reality of the process of maturation.

      Jon Estes

      Rick,

      What passages of scripture do you use to come to this position?

        Lydia

        How about, “Repent and believe”? :o)

        Rick Patrick

        The age of accountability is not a doctrine with specific proof-texts, but 2 Samuel 12:21-23 reveals that King David expected to see his son in heaven. Here are some other verses the pertain to it: http://www.kingjamesbibleonline.org/Bible-Verses-About-Age-of-Accountability/.

          JON ESTES

          Rick-

          Thank you. I am not one who thinks infants are doomed. I do struggle with wanting the Bible to speak to the subject, in context.

            Doug Sayers

            Jon,
            I cannot speak for the folks at SBC Today but one text that I think applies in all this is Romans 7:9. This is where Paul tells us that he was “alive” once without the law but when the law came he “died.” The only time this Pharisee (and son of a Pharisee) would have been without the law would have been in the ignorance and mercy of his childhood. I think Paul is describing how someone becomes dead in trespasses and sins. Like Adam, who “died” the day he ate from the forbidden tree, we all “die” when the guilt of our own sin can be justly imputed to our own account. This would vary from individual to individual. I don’t think in terms of an age of accountability so much as sin of accountability.

            I think this is a better understanding of the verse than that of Calvin (& followers), who suggest that Paul was saying that he “thought” he was alive once without the law but then realized he was dead when the law came. Paul could have said that but he didn’t.

            Anyway, much more could be said on all this but give some thought to Romans 7:9.

            As far as Randall’s comments go, we should be glad whenever a Calvinist sympathizer gets cranky and tries to distinguish between historical Calvinism and so called “hyper-Calvinism.” It can mean that they are on the road to dumping the 5 points altogether. When I was a Calvinist I found it harder to refute hyper Calvinism than non Calvinism. I really didn’t want to be a hyper Calvinist but came to see that there really isn’t much substantive difference between the two views. The differences are more in presentation than substance.

            This is why we keep harping on the imputation of Adam’s guilt, that is, the error of assuming that anyone is born guilty.

              Randall Cofield

              Hi Doug,

              You state: “I really didn’t want to be a hyper Calvinist but came to see that there really isn’t much substantive difference between the two views. The differences are more in presentation than substance.”

              What did you come to see that Spurgeon failed to see?

              Grace to you.

                doug sayers

                Hi Randall, sorry if this sounds condescending (that is not my intent) but I was once where you are in terms of the debate over irresistible salvation. As you suggest, the best argument for defending the real Calvinistic system is to find their best teachers and hop on their shoulders. Your responses, thus far, are an admission that the best argument for irresistible reprobation is not found in Scripture itself. The Reformed system of salvation is built on inferences, that only the very astute can pass off as explicit teachings.

                Of course, I can’t speak for Spurgeon but I can no longer live with the contradiction of a meaningful *universal* call to repent, (or else), without a truly *universal* provision in the cross, that would be made to those who are refused the very ability to repent. I’m finished tip toeing around that stuff.

                Be sure that this does not stop me from still reading Spurgeon and your writings! I just eat the meat and leave the bones, like we all should do, with extra biblical writers.

                  Randall Cofield

                  Doug,

                  And I was once where you are in this debate, brother. :-D

                  All kidding aside, thanks for your measured and courteous response. My query involving Spurgeon was in reference to the hyper-Calvinism issue. He clearly saw a distinction where you apparently do not, and I was genuinely curious as to what you fell you see that he did not.

                  I don’t find “irresistible reprobation” taught in Scripture, to I don’t hold to irresistible reprobation. I understand that IR seems a logical consequence of unconditional election, but I feel no compulsion to hold the former and feel I have more than adequate scriptural reason to hold the latter. God has revealed all we *need* to know about him, but he has not revealed *everything* there is to know about him. I’m comfortable with that.

                  I confess that there are some questions I have that scripture does not seem to answer, but then I’m sure you are aware that your side of the argument suffers from the same conundrum. Many on here are completely unaware of that reality.

                  I did read a few chapters of your book last night, and hope to eventually read the entire 400 page tome–so you might convert me yet.

                  Grace to you.

Lydia

“How is saving all children who die before the age of accountability any less deterministic than choosing to save some and not save others?”

Are babies guilty? I don’t think it is a question of determinism but more about mercy and justice. The “just” do not throw innocents into hell piles. There is also a problem in how many read the OT ignoring ancient genres of hyperbole and such. Do people really believe that God made the Psalmist say he wanted to dash his enemies babies against rocks? Or was that man talking to God in Hebrew poetry? We tend to be binary thinkers on such things while the ancients were not.

Jon Estes

“Are babies guilty?”

This is a very good question.

In the discussion at hand… I would ask… Guilty of what?

1 – Guilty of making a sinful decision? I do not see how they could be.

2 – Guilty of being able to make a sinful decision? I do not see how they could be.

3 – Guilty by nature? This one can be tough.

For those of reformed persuasion, I think Piper states it as I would (If I could communicate as well as he).

http://www.desiringgod.org/interviews/why-do-you-believe-that-infants-who-die-go-to-heaven

Jim P

Referring to Dr. Patricks comment about 2 Samuel 12

What is happening here is reducing the understanding to a ‘heaven or hell’ issue. A revealing characteristic of both reformed and non-reformed. But King David never said anything about heaven or hell

2Sam. 12:23 But now he is dead; why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me.”

‘Going to him.’ where the child is, for King David, is simply going to the place of the dead, Sheol. They had very little understanding or motivation to know what is after this life. The present life was everything to them. That understanding would only begin to open after Christ’s resurrection.

Yes this is revealing. Reformed and non-reformed are both caught together in the similar convoluted understanding. Interesting. For both sides this is reading into. Not reading to understanding for when it was written.

Randall Cofield

This is fairly representative of what Calvinists believe concerning the salvation of infants:

http://www.gty.org/resources/sermons/80-242/the-salvation-of-babies-who-die-part-1

Lydia

Recent Piper tweet:

“God does not punish innocent children for the sins of guilty parents. There are no innocent children. (Deuteronomy 5:9; Ezekiel 18:20)”

    Andrew Barker

    Lydia: My experience with Piper is that he is so prolific in his output that you can usually find something he’s said to back up whichever point you want to make. But he contradicts himself all over the place so if you read his piece on infants dying before the age of accountability (whatever that is) you’ll see he takes the very standard line of the traditionalist. However, he completely ignores anything he’s said in other places regarding unconditional election. It seems that all infants who die must have been pre-determined to die in infancy hence they can also all be pre-determined for election to life. It would appear that only those who survive through to the age of accountability have the benefit of then facing whether or not God elects to them to life or doesn’t as the case may be. There’s no rhyme or reason to it, other than he makes it up and his followers go along with it.

      Robert Vaughn

      It is hard for most everyone to approach the issue of infant salvation and damnation without it being a very emotional issue. If unconditional election is an absolute, there would be no reason to suppose that God would not unconditionally elect some who would die as infants and not elect (or unconditionally damn) others who would die as infants. It is supposed to be unconditional after all, and dying in infancy would be a condition. After all, they weren’t any more infant or person at the time God chose than anyone else was.

      Michael Wigglesworth’s “The Day of Doom,” which I found in an old literature book years ago, well illustrates this point in the infants’ plea and God’s answer:

      Then to the Bar, all they drew near
      Who dy’d in infancy,
      And never had or good or bad
      effected pers’nally.
      But from the womb unto the tomb
      were straightway carried,
      (Or at the least e’er they transgrest)
      who thus began to plead…

      Many modern Calvinists are unwilling to accept this most logical conclusion.

Greg Peters

Is the work of Jesus, on the cross, necessary in order for babies who die in infancy to go to heaven?

    Randall Cofield

    A most excellent question, and worthy of due consideration…

    Rick Patrick

    Having read Harwood’s, “The Spiritual Condition of Infants,” the short answer is “yes.” Babies are born with an inherited sinful nature—though not inherited guilt. In this condition, they are not innocent, but they are covered by the grace of Jesus, provided by His work on the cross, until they reach an age or stage in which they can understand and respond to God’s grace on their own.

      Randall Cofield

      Dr. Patrick,

      You seem to be saying (with Dr. Harwood–I’ve read him) that Jesus’ atoning blood is necessary for the salvation of those who die in infancy though such have no actual sin. Am I understanding you correctly?

        Rick Patrick

        No, not really. They are not born guilty, but they are born sinners. They possess a sinful human nature. A three year-old who hits a playmate in the sandbox is a sinner. But he is not guilty. He has not reached an age of accountability for that sinful human nature.

        All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. All need the forgiveness of Jesus. Jesus died for all. But no one is born guilty. And no one is born already consigned to the hell pile, which is the topic of the original post.

          Randall Cofield

          Dr. Patrick: Let’s back it up from the three year old in the sandbox to a child who dies at birth. He never committed sin, nor is he, in your paradigm, guilty in any way. Why does he stand in need of the atoning work of Christ (which, incidentally, I believe he receives)?

          If you say his need arises from the fact that he is born a sinner, that traces directly through his parents all the way back to Adam. You have previously denied that Adam’s guilt is imputed to the infant. You say the infant has no sin for which he is guilty, indeed, you contend he cannot even be charged as guilty for possessing a sinful human nature–he is “not born guilty”.

          This is the point at which I genuinely fail to understand your position. If the infant has committed no sin, and the infant is in no way guilty, why does he stand in need of the sin-atoning work of Jesus Christ? What must he be saved from?

          Grace to you, brother.

            Lydia

            What if the 3 year old is instead a 40 year old mentally disabled adult with the brain development of a 3 year old? If they were chosen before the foundation of the world, then I guess they are in the exclusive club of the elect.

            But then I would have to also believe the same determinist god chose for them to be a 40 year old with the brain development of a 3 year old.

              Randall Cofield

              You mean something like this, Lydia?

              https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wPTMA7HIIyk

              Just awful, isn’t it?

                Lydia

                Randall, I saw your link. So is the boy elect or not? Guilty or not? Accountable for his belief and actions or not?

                id your determinist God, who is controlling every molecule 24/7 determine his disability or not.

                Thanks for the example but it only brings more questions about your belief system

                  Randall Cofield

                  John 9:3 Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.”

            Rick Patrick

            Adam really does address this in his book, Randall. The baby, born with a sinful nature, which we affirm, needs the grace of Jesus to cover him. He is sinful but not guilty of any personal sin. We do believe he inherits from Adam a sinful human nature. We do not believe he inherits from Adam the guilt of Adam’s sin.

          Greg Peters

          Rick: In your post, you quoted Romans 3:23. Who do you include in the ‘All’ in Romans 3:23 – ‘All have sinned’?

            Rick Patrick

            “All means all and that’s all all means.” — Eric Hankins

            The interpretation, then, would be that all mankind is under the curse of sin. We are all born with a sinful human nature. We only become guility once we have personally transgressed.

            From the BFM2K: Adam’s …”posterity inherit a nature and an environment inclined toward sin. Therefore, as soon as they are capable of moral action, they become transgressors and are under condemnation.”

            Men are born with a sin nature, but not already guilty. The guilt, or condemnation, comes later when we personally transgress—assuming we reach the age or stage of accountability.

              JON ESTES

              I think a better way to express this is needed.

              The bible does not say… The wages of becoming a transgressors is death…

              Is it our sinful action… Our sinful action when we personally choose to act on sin… Or our sin nature that separates us from God?

              Please don’t quote the BF&M. Let’s stick with scripture.

                Lydia

                “Please don’t quote the BF&M. Let’s stick with scripture.”

                That is a good idea since the BFM can also affirm ESS for the Neo Cal wing of the SBC.

              Greg Peters

              Dr. Patrick: With all due respect, the verse very simply says ‘ALL (have) SINNED.’, NOT that all have a sin nature. So, if as you say, that ‘all means all, and that’s all that all means’ I would ask why the ‘all’ wouldn’t include a stillborn child. By the way, it’s interesting to note that the Greek construction in 3:23 (pas harmartano) is identical to the construction in Romans 5:12 “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because ALL SINNED (pas harmartano)…” You cite the BFM2K (same wording as BFM63) to make your point. In 1963 Herschel Hobbs oversaw the re-writing of this article, by his own confession, to answer the question of the salvific state of ‘unaccountable’ children. In my estimation what he actually did was raise more questions.

    Lydia

    Was it necessary for David’s son?

    Andrew Barker

    Greg Peters: Surely you’re asking too involved a question. All you need to ask is, is it possible for anybody to be saved and go heaven without the work of Jesus on the cross? Answer, no! So why select one particular group when the question has already been adequately answered. There is no basis other than the death and resurrection of Jesus for anybody to be saved. This includes people like Adam, Noah, Abram etc etc. Do you know of any other way that a person may be saved?

      Randall Cofield

      Andrew: Drs Harwood and Patrick seem to contend that babies who die in infancy have no sin and bear no guilt as descendants of Adam. If that is the case, the question becomes: What are such infants saved *from*? Indeed, why are they even subject to death?

      This debate took place on this site several years ago, yet these questions were never answered.

        Andrew Barker

        Randall: When you can provide scriptural support for inherited guilt, then your point might just be worth discussing. As it is, you’re focusing in on an area where there is no direct teaching and then trying to draw principles from it. Instead you should be starting from what is clear and using that to set the guidelines for less well defined areas of theology.

        Nowhere in scripture does it say God chooses individuals for salvation before the foundation of the world. And no, Eph 1: 3-9 does not support your concept of unconditional election. You have obviously failed to properly understand what the term ‘in Him’ means. It is widely used by Paul in his letters and when he does he is clearly referring to those who are believers. To be ‘in Him’ before the foundation of the world would be to suggest that people are actually saved even before they were born.

        It matters no difference to me whether we’re talking about adults or babies. I appreciate that using babies is more emotive, but in truth it doesn’t affect the central truth that if you see God as one who chooses some but rejects others, then being rejected as a baby makes no practical difference to being rejected as an adult. Or indeed, before you were even existed! At least, that’s how I see it. There is of course a discussion to be had regarding young children, but not in the way you’re using it.

          Randall Cofield

          Andrew:

          “When you can provide scriptural support for inherited guilt, then your point might just be worth discussing.”

          Very well: Ro. 5:12 Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned…15 But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. 16 And the free gift is not like the result of that one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification…18 Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. 19 For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.

          If you reject these rather clear statements, then the questions remain unanswered: What do babies/non-sentient individuals need to be saved *from*? Indeed, if they have no sin and no guilt–as you seem to contend–why do they suffer the penalty of death? Do you not impugn the character of God when you assert that he visits the penalty of death on the sinless and guiltless?

          “You have obviously failed to properly understand what the term ‘in Him’ means. It is widely used by Paul in his letters and when he does he is clearly referring to those who are believers.”

          Ok, let’s go with that. Insert your understanding of “in him” into the clause and exposit the meaning of the clause in the context of vss. 3-9. This should be interesting.

          On the matter that you have been evading, you seem (correct me if I’m wrong) to regularly attend an Anglican church, but you say you are not Anglican. Do you not believe that Scripture teaches Christians should hold active membership in a local church?

            Andrew Barker

            Randall: Your problem and ‘problem’ it is, is that focus too much on the personal and not enough on what the person is saying. Of course I don’t reject the clear statement of God’s word. What I reject, absolutely, is your interpretation of it! That sin can affect a person who has not committed it is taught in scripture. In fact it’s in v14 of Rom 5, which presumably is part of the reason you omitted it!

            You are correct in your assessment that I attend an Anglican church but that I am not an Anglican. You are wrong in stating I am evading you. I just don’t think it’s relevant to the discussion and to put it bluntly, I don’t think it’s any of your business either!

              Randall Cofield

              Andrew: So the questions remain for you. What do babies/non-sentient individuals need to be saved *from*? Indeed, if they have no sin and no guilt–as you seem to contend–why do they suffer the penalty of death? Do you not impugn the character of God when you assert that he visits the penalty of death on the sinless and guiltless?

              And what happened to Ephesians 1:3-9? Can you exposit the clause for me using your understanding of “in Him”?

              Do you not believe that Scripture teaches Christians should hold active membership in a local church?

                Andrew Barker

                Randall: You’re good at asking questions, but poor in providing proper answers yourself. I’ve already said the question of babies/children is not central to this discussion. I’ve also said that the bible states that death reigned even over people who had not sinned in the same way as Adam. A point you’ve ignored and not addressed. It’s plainly obvious that if a person sins and commits murder, another person dies and that death is not related to any sin ‘they’ have committed. It’s also plain that nobody claims to be sinless even though we all know that is the standard which God requires.

                You haven’t commented at all on what you think the phrase ‘in Him’ means in Eph 1 and numerous other passages. I suspect this is because deep down, you know that you can’t provide any credible exegesis on this matter. And lastly, I’m not answering any stupid questions on whether or not I’m an active member of a church. It really is disingenuous of you to ask this.

                  Randall Cofield

                  Andrew,

                  “Randall: You’re good at asking questions, but poor in providing proper answers yourself.”

                  To my knowledge, I have answered the questions you have asked, at times answering them two or three times. The mere fact that you don’t like my answers in no way renders my
                  answers to you “improper.”

                  “I’ve already said the question of babies/children is not central to this discussion.”

                  Sure it is. The question by Greg that prompted our discussion on this made them precisely the question.

                  “I’ve also said that the bible states that death reigned even over people who had not sinned in the same way as Adam. A point you’ve ignored and not addressed.”

                  True that. Death reigned even over those who did not have the law. This does not undermine by position of inherited guilt, it rather supports it.

                  “You haven’t commented at all on what you think the phrase ‘in Him’ means in Eph 1 and numerous other passages.”

                  Yet you told me my understanding of “in Him” was wrong, so apparently I said enough for you to pass judgment–you said “…no, Eph 1: 3-9 does not support your concept of unconditional election.” So let’s go with your understanding of “in Him.” Exposit the clause without violating the context.

                  “And lastly, I’m not answering any stupid questions on whether or not I’m an active member of a church. It really is disingenuous of you to ask this.”

                  Why is it disingenuous? You appear on this site quite regularly with the apparent intent to disagree with the soteriology and ecclesiology of Calvinists, yet you seem to personally ignore one of the most basic principles of a sound ecclesiology. Indeed, you admit that you regularly attend a church that practices paedo-baptism to the endangerment of the souls of those involved, which calls your own soteriological position into question. That seems disingenuous to me, but I’m all ears if you can offer a valid defense. Do you not believe that baptism is for professing believers only?

                  And why is it that you reserve for yourself the right to question whomever you will however you wish, yet when someone asks you a question that you find uncomfortable, their questioning of you is “stupid” and “disingenuous”?

                  So my questions stand: What do babies/non-sentient individuals need to be saved *from*? Indeed, if they have no sin and no guilt–as you seem to contend–why do they suffer the penalty of death? Do you not impugn the character of God when you assert that he visits the penalty of death on the sinless and guiltless?

                    Andrew Barker

                    Randall: You say ….”To my knowledge, I have answered the questions you have asked, at times answering them two or three times. The mere fact that you don’t like my answers in no way renders my
                    answers to you “improper.”

                    The fact that you ‘think’ you’ve provided answers does not mean that you have. There is a good reason why I have not been able to critique your comments on the phrase ‘in Him’ and what this means is because you haven’t actually addressed it at all.

                    You’ve stated …”(Eph. 1:3-9). In other words, God’s *choice* of individuals for salvation is *not* arbitrary, motiveless, or purposeless, but is, in keeping with his character, a holy act that is righteous in its motive and holy in its purpose–and is absolutely just in its execution.” So for you, Eph 1:3-9 is about God choosing individuals. But it doesn’t say that at all and you simply read into scripture things which are not there and at the same time fail to address what the passage says.

                    You say God chose us, but scripture says God ‘chose us in Him’. If you think these two statements are equivalent then that is the heart of the problem. They are not and until you can see the difference in the two and what this difference means then there is little point in proceeding any further.

                    Randall, if you seriously think that we can worship God only with believers who think exactly the same as ‘we’ do, then you really do have a big problem …. brother!

        Robert

        Randall seems to think that there is a major problem for traditionalists who hold that babies do not inherit the guilt of Adam and are not born guilty of sin (Randall repeats this supposed problem multiple times in this thread):

        “Drs Harwood and Patrick seem to contend that babies who die in infancy have no sin and bear no guilt as descendants of Adam. If that is the case, the question becomes: What are such infants saved *from*? Indeed, why are they even subject to death?”

        Has it ever occurred to him that if a person is born into this sinful world, that they are born into a world where the surrounding circumstances will affect them?

        You could be a Christian or an atheist and when the Tornado comes through your town it will knock down your house and the atheists’ house and destroy your town regardless of your religious or non-religious affiliation. Likewise a baby born into this world is born into a sinful world where sin has effects on all(this is what David meant when he said in sin did my mother conceive me, not that the intimate act was sinful but that any person born into this world is born into a sinful world where everything has been tainted and twisted by sin). If the parent of a child is an addict the baby can be born with an addiction having never lifted a needle or snorted a drug. Say that baby then dies, does that baby need healing/salvation? I would say Yes.

        Which brings me to my point, the cross of Christ provides justification for individual persons, it also brings healing from the effects of this world (and ultimately even heals the world). The Bible presents God’s “salvation” as being not just about fixing our relationships with Him, but also fixing a sin marred world. The creation itself (due to the effects of sin) is looking forward to being fixed/healed/saved. Everything is broken and everything is effected by sin so the cross of Christ has more consequences than merely providing us with a saving relationship with Christ.

        Seems to me that if a person believes all of this (as no doubt “Drs Harwood and Patrick” do) then the cross of Christ not only brings personal salvation and healing, it also brings cosmic salvation and healing n on the level of healing the effects of sin on the entire universe and everything in it (and that includes babies).

          Greg Peters

          Robert: Chapter and verse please on ‘cosmic salvation’ and how it includes any kind of human salvation. I believe scripture indicates that ‘cosmic salvation’ involves a big fire and a NEW heavens and a NEW earth.

            Robert

            Greg,

            “Robert: Chapter and verse please on ‘cosmic salvation’ and how it includes any kind of human salvation. I believe scripture indicates that ‘cosmic salvation’ involves a big fire and a NEW heavens and a NEW earth.”

            18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19 For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, [a]in hope 21 that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now. 23 And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body. (Romans 8:18-23 NASB)

            18 He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything. 19 For [a]it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the [b]fullness to dwell in Him, 20 and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in [c]heaven. (Colossians 1:18-20)

            Both of these passages speak of a salvation that is broader than just an individual’s personal salvation. Both speak of the entire world being saved by God and the Colossians passage even connects it directly to the cross of Christ. It is this broader sense of salvation that includes the creation and everything in it.

              Greg Peters

              Thanks for your reply. I would be interested in knowing if you can tell me of anyone other Biblical scholar who believes with you that the cosmic redemption covers babies who die in infancy.

      Greg Peters

      Andrew: …too involved?! I thought my question was pretty succinct. I asked it because I believe it reveals a real weakness in the SBC Traditionalist understanding of original sin. I agree fully with you that it is impossible for anyone to be saved and go to heaven without the work of Christ on the cross. My point is that the Bible teaches us that Jesus work on the cross involved dying for sins according to the scriptures. From what I’ve read, SBC Traditionalists don’t affirm that a stillborn child is guilty of anything. So, I ask, why would Jesus work on the cross be needed in order for them to go to heaven? Rick Patrick gave the answer that Jesus work on the cross was necessary in order to overcome the baby’s sin ‘nature’. I don’t know of any scripture that supports this. Jesus died for the sins of men, not for man’s potential to sin.

        Andrew Barker

        Greg Peters: I believe it’s best to start from what is clear and use that to explain what might seem to be difficult. It is “the soul that that sins shall die” so that would be my starting point. If a child/infant has not sinned then their soul doesn’t need to die. Their bodies are subject to being born into a sinfull world, hence they will die. This is, at least, how I would start to explain this subject. I’m sure that there’s more to be said on the matter though

          Greg Peters

          The belief you just stated is a Pelagian belief.

Jon Estes

Let’s say Marty is spot on. I would then say that Southern Baptist are throwing people in the hell pile by refusing to evangelize. Isn’t that a greater topic to discuss than the one at hand?

From my activity in the convention, all the traditionalist churches which Rick says way outnumber the reformed ones are baptizing none to few people each year. I never did hang out with Calvinist but the ones I know are very evangelistic. Most of the church people I pastored were not… including the lay leaders. I’ve been asked to resign or stop evangelizing in a previous church. These were not reformed church people but traditionalist (in the way Rick defines traditionalists).

Marty and Rock – how many active members in your church are active in evangelizing? Would you agree, with where you stand on this hell pile position, your church members are throwing people in the hell pile?

    Rick Patrick

    Yes, we could all stand to be more evangelistic. And to the extent that we avoid the work of an evangelist, forsaking the Great Commission, we are, in essence, throwing people into the hell pile. As much as I lament that fact, and am truly not comfortable with it at all, I am however comfortable with the *logic* that Christians, who sin daily, throw people into the hell pile through our disobedient witness.

    However, I am *not* comfortable with the logic that our Holy God would throw people into the hell pile by predetermining their salvation or reprobation, unconditionally, before the foundation of the world.

    Lydia

    “I never did hang out with Calvinist but the ones I know are very evangelistic. ”

    If only they were honest about what that are evangelizing.

Jon Estes

The following may come across argumentative and confrontational, that is not my intent. I am deeply concerned for the local church, dying and becoming irrelevant. My church – your church – all SB churches especially. This to me is a greater problem that our differing soteriology.

You may feel free to not publish this if it comes across as an attack. I admit it is blunt and my seem offensive. Again, not my intent.

“Yes, we could all stand to be more evangelistic. And to the extent that we avoid the work of an evangelist, forsaking the Great Commission, we are, in essence, throwing people into the hell pile. As much as I lament that fact, and am truly not comfortable with it at all, I am however comfortable with the *logic* that Christians, who sin daily, throw people into the hell pile through our disobedient witness.”

I find that very interesting.

“who sin daily”

This sounds like an out to me.

So you wish to confront those who believe differently concerning soteriology, even if they are active witnesses for Christ, than begin taking a Rhema stand against the obvious refusal to win our world for Christ? I have to ask myself daily as a Pastor… What kind of disciples am I called to train my people to be? Not a theology corrector but soul winners.

I will admit, one of the actions above is easier than the other and that same one pays our salaries.

    Rick Patrick

    Jon,
    You are presenting a false dilemma. We can (a) be concerned about protecting Southern Baptist theology, while at the same time, (b) seeking faithfully to reach the world for Christ. These are not to be set against each other. It’s like, should we love our families or tell the world about Jesus? Of course, the answer is BOTH. And we can do both, without either interfering with the other.

      Jon Estes

      Thanks for the reply Rick and I understand this blog is not intended to be about winning the world to Christ.

      “Of course, the answer is BOTH. And we can do both, without either interfering with the other.”

      What is seen, by those who have Christ and those who need Christ, in blogs like these (and others anti something) is a fight among the family of God instead of a love for reaching the lost.

      Are both there in our hearts? I hope so. Sonce this is a public forum, what we do here, in type, says a lot about us to those we need to reach. Would they want what we have by the love for our brothers and sisters we demonstrate?

      Yeah, we believe we need a place to vent – make our case known – stand for what we believe is right – oppose the evils of others soteriological positions – prove ourselves right and them wrong…

      Where does it get us and where does it end?

        Rick Patrick

        Jon,
        You misread us if you deem us “anti-something.” We are FOR the spread of the gospel…everyone who posts and comments here. Yes, there are conversations about theology and denominational life. These *disagreements* (not fights) do not mean indifference to the lost or that we do not love them, but precisely the opposite.

        Some of us believe this is a conversation worth having PRECISELY BECAUSE it carries implications for the spread of the gospel throughout the world. Has the Calvinist Movement been good for the SBC? The evidence is less than compelling to me. Would a Traditionalist Movement restore equilibrium and improve our outreach to the lost? I believe, in many ways, the answer is “yes.”

        Granted, there are “two visions” for the future of the SBC. That’s why it is called di-vision. Calvinists sometimes cry out, “Why can’t you all just get along and hush if you have concerns?” But that simply ignores the existence of our two denominational wings.

        We are not divided because we have divisive temperaments. We are divided over substantive issues that need to be resolved and not ignored.

          Jon Estes

          Rick –

          “You misread us if you deem us “anti-something.” We are FOR the spread of the gospel…”

          I don’t see it. It seems that many, if not most on here think I am spreading a false gospel because I lean reformed. Do you have a concern that those God has allowed me to witness to and have received Christ (from my reformed perspective) may really be lost? As far as I know I present the same gospel that you do.

          ” We are divided over substantive issues that need to be resolved and not ignored.”

          If resolution to the things you see as substantive issues need to be resolved… How is that going, in relation to this blog and its postings? Has this blog brought any type of resolution or dealt with the problem in a way that may bring resolution? Has it opened the door for dialogue with anyone which might begin to build a bridge that would restore the equilibrium you hope to see?

          Maybe the dialogue here with those sympathetic to your position is helpful… I don’t think so.

          Maybe a dialogue here with those who do differ in a way that actually seems healthy would benefit… If only.

          I do thank you for our discussion in a respectful manner.

            Lydia

            Jon, you might want to talk to your reformed comrade gurus first.

            Mohler believes that reforms is the only place to go if you want to see the nation’s Rejoice for Christ.

            Many reformed in the SBC agree with him. Many of us have been told for years that you will have the true gospel.

            Check this out from the gospel coalition:

            https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/when-grace-hurts-the-church

            I suggest you talk to your reformed comrades about that bridge, first.

              JON ESTES

              Lydia,

              I did not know I had reformed comrades.

              If so, one thing I can live with is those who are either reformed or not reformed yet willing to evangelise as they go.

              I guess we all have our priorities.

                Lydia

                Jon, you certainly seem to be speaking their typical language of nothing bad, deceptive, unjust or unfair happened in the SBC due to the Neo Cal movement. So let’s shame the other side for daring to question and point fingers about unity. It’s called gas lighting. It is extremely nefarious.

                Then we get the German defense: “I did not personally do anything wrong so why hold me accountable for being in that group”? Eisenhower did not buy it. He made the town of Auschwitz clean up the camp.

                  Jon Estes

                  Lydia –

                  I am not sure what language you speak of.

                  I have never said or thought that all was good, reliable, just or fair within the SBC due to anything. My flaws are real and having to deal with them is enough to keep me from leading a pack of others to look for things put down.

                  This thread is about a hell pile, formed with words to draw a conclusion which is not being preached in reformed pulpits, as far as I know. Sure there are fringes on any topic but they are few.

                  I do not know of anyone in the SBC leadership that would say God throws people into a hell pile. Maybe you do.

                  No German ideology here. I do enough wrong to have such an accusation use against me. Can’t speak for anyone else.

    Lydia

    Jon, who is training you?

      Jon Estes

      You are, Lydia. You are teaching me a lot.

Robert Vaughn

“First, there is one lamb for one child, then one lamb for one family, then one lamb for an entire nation, and then we come to the New Testament where we are told that Jesus Christ is the “lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).”

Marty, I really liked the way you expressed God progressively revealing the sufficiency of the Lamb and thought to write something along these lines. I did run into one hiccup though. You write, “In the worship on the Day of Atonement, one lamb was substituted for one nation (Leviticus 16).” When studying the day of atonement, I didn’t see any emphasis on one lamb substituted for the nation on that day. Am I missing something?

Thanks.

    Andrew Barker

    Are you missing Lev 16:33? “and make atonement for the holy sanctuary, and he shall make atonement for the tent of meeting and for the altar. He shall also make atonement for the priests and for *all the people* of the assembly.”

      Robert Vaughn

      Thanks, Andrew. I guess what I was hung up on was keeping the “one lamb” picture consistent all the way through the illustration, where here on the day of atonement it is a bullock, a ram, and two goats (one for the scapegoat).

        Andrew Barker

        Robert: Actually, I think you have a point :) The picture maybe isn’t quite as neat as it first appeared. I still like the idea of progression but since the Lamb of God is not a lamb at all, then maybe using lamb through the progression is not necessary?

Dennis Lee Dabney

But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of God.

Nothing can prevent babies from coming Christ, not their inherited sin nature nor the penalty of death.

Even Death must obey the Lord Jesus Christ who said, “Suffer little children and forbid them not to come unto Me”.

Is God less Gracious to precious babies than He was to the 120,000 down in Nineveh who knew not their right hand from the left?

Beloved, while Jonah had “election” on his mind, the Lord had warning the Wicked to repent or perish on His. He had salvation of the whole city on His mind and Jonah knew it before he left for Nineveh.

Preach!

Dennis Lee Dabney

If our Great God and Saviour is able and willing to reach the nations “through us”. He is just as able and willing to reach and save “without us”, the unborn, the born, those not above the age of accountability, those with special gifts, requiring our special attention, etc.

Since there is absolutely no application in the Holy Scriptures to win babies to Christ, He is able to save them without us.

Leave the babies who haven’t committed sin, even though they have an inherited sin nature, to The Sinless One.

Preach!

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