The TULIP’s Petals and Sepals, part 4

May 9, 2013

by Ronnie Rogers

Irresistible Grace: The Holy Spirit efficaciously applies salvation to those unconditionally elected sinners whom He personally calls to Christ.

Calvinism believes that the general call of the gospel extends to everyone, but the internal efficacious call of the Holy Spirit that is both required and inexorably results in salvation is only extended to the unconditionally elect. The nature of these two calls is that the former can only be rejected and the latter can only be accepted. That is to say, the non-elect can never do anything but reject the preaching of the gospel, and the elect will do the same until they receive the internal efficacious call, which they can only respond to by believing.

Regeneration is monergistic (God alone), and man is totally passive until regeneration is accomplished. After God regenerates an elect individual, then and only then does the relationship become synergistic. Calvinism’s understanding of God’s work of regeneration (sometimes referred to as or included in the concept of the efficacious call) necessarily involves irresistibility in purpose, availability to the unconditionally elect only, and the inevitability of a subsequent free exercise of faith.

Worth noting is that the adjectives “general” and “efficacious” in both order and description are not explicitly taught in Scripture, but rather are understandings of Calvinism. I would suggest that the term “general call” be replaced with the much more biblically congruent term “sufficient call;” additionally, that the efficacious call (if there is such a thing) be understood as consummating (securing) salvation for all who accept the sufficient call rather than initiating salvation for the unconditionally elect.

It is important to understand that while, according to Calvinism, the act of faith that follows regeneration is a free act, the act of regeneration which inescapably leads to this free exercise of faith is forced upon the totally passive and depraved unconditionally elect (monergism and compatibilism). That is to say, the “free act of faith” is more accurately defined as an eternally predetermined free act of choosing, which excludes any idea of having choices (i.e. compatibilism). Thus, eliminating even the remotest possibility for the elect to do other than what he did in fact do and the non-elect the same end. While this is Calvinism’s portrait of the inner workings of the gospel, I do not believe it is the picture of the gospel painted by Scripture.

God’s choice to ration His salvific grace to only the unconditionally elect necessarily means that the lack of faith and resistance to the gospel by the non-elect is as equally and inviolably a predetermined free act as is the predetermined free exercise of faith of the unconditionally elect. Therefore, the offer of salvation to some and the withholding from the incalculable majority were predetermined by God’s good pleasure; thereby, making the gospel the most unfathomably and ghoulishly macabre news for the great majority of God’s humanity.

Therefore, if a person believes the Scripture teaches the following, he cannot be a Calvinist: the gospel is good news for everyone and not merely some who hear the words “whosever” or “who wishes take the water of life without cost;” God has grace enabled all who hear the good news to receive His forgiveness by faith in the gospel. These truths are embraced by other biblical approaches but not in Calvinism.

Ronnie is senior pastor of Trinity Baptist Church in Norman, Okla., and is the author of  “Reflections of a Disenchanted Calvinist.”

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Ron F. Hale

Thanks Ronnie … this one may be the most powerful so far!

I prefer God’s Amazing Grace over Irresistible Grace … “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8 NKJV).

Through the work of the Gospel, the Holy Spirit, the messengers of God … I believe that God enables us to believe, but nowhere in the Bible do we find that God by force makes us believers. Calvinism conjures up the two calls – the general call and internal call. The first can be resisted, the latter cannot be resisted. So … the unbelieving elect are irresistibly overwhelmed and turned into believing elect ones.

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem! …How oftern I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but YOU WERE NOT WILLING!” It doesn’t say, “unable,” but unwilling.

Blessings!

    rhutchin

    “’O Jerusalem, Jerusalem! …How oftern I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but YOU WERE NOT WILLING!’ It doesn’t say, ‘unable,’ but unwilling. ”

    The “YOU” here are the priests. Jesus is speaking to the Pharisees and condemns them because they did not want the gospel preached (that He was Christ) even as their fathers (earlier priests) did not.

    We always see people “willing” to oppose God, even to the extent that they are “willingly ignorant” as Peter writes.

      Johnathan Pritchett

      That interpretation doesn’t hold up.

      The upcoming judgment is upon the city that kills the prophets. The children and the you are Jerusalem. Not simply the Pharisees. It isn’t the Pharisee’s house that is left desolate. It is Jerusalem (i.e. the Temple).

      Seems quite odd to think that Jesus was speaking to just the Pharisees here, preventing Jesus from gathering Jerusalem’s children when obviously they didn’t.

      If it said “Oh Pharisees, Pharisees, how I longed to gather Jerusalem’s children…but you were not willing” You may have a case here. But the “YOU” refers back to Jerusalem.

      Sadly, Jesus laments over Jerusalem, the city who kills the prophets.

      When Osbourne (Matthew, 862), Carson (Matthew, 486) , France (Matthew 331), Morris (Matthew 591) and Keener (Matthew 558) all agree on an interpretation, that Jerusalem was the unwilling (not the Pharisees), chances are you are completely wrong.

      No one serious is buying that bogus interpretation. The only people who are buying it are James White fans. The commentaries give compelling reasons that Jerusalem was unwilling. You should probably read them. Even Reformed commentators disagree with you.

        Johnathan Pritchett

        Matthew 21:8
        “A very large crowd spread their robes on the road; others were cutting branches from the trees and spreading them on the road.”

        Matthew 21:46-47:
        “Although they were looking for a way to arrest Him, they feared the crowds, because they regarded Him as a prophet.”

        Matthew 23:1
        “Then Jesus spoke to the crowds and to His disciples:”

        Man, those Pharisees sure knew how to keep crowds away from Jesus in Jerusalem…

        Er…

        Okay then…

          volfan007

          Amen to what Johnathan said. BUT ALSO, even if it were the Priests and Pharisees that Jesus was talking about….there was still someone who wouldn’t, whenever Jesus wanted to do something. Do you see what I’m saying…..Jesus wanted to gather them….the Priests, or the Pharisees did not want it…SO, the Phariees “KEPT” Jesus from doing something that He wanted to do?

          Now, I agree with Johnathan, here, that this passage is dealing with the people of Jerusalem…Jesus wanted to gather the people of Jerusalem……but, they would not…..they had a choice to make…a real choice…and they rejected Jesus, whenever Jesus wanted them to gather under His wings….

          David

          Johnathan Pritchett

          Matthew 23 was Jesus’ last public address in the Gospel, by the way. Seems like Jerusalem was unwilling, So Jesus kept His word in 23:39

          ;)

Norm Miller

Pastor Ronnie:
As I have read through your posts of this week thus far, what has become even clearer to me is why so many Cals have told me that one must accept all points of C’ism, or none. Even you have been denigrated here as not being a (former) Calvinist, as you more recently noted you previously held only to four points.

Here is what strikes me about this “all or none” proposition of the 5 points. Cals have their proof texts, their scriptural vignettes, and all their creative exegesis constructed in such a way that I now readily see how one must begin with total depravity, accept that, and then move to the next point.

However, if all the points are scriptural, how is it that the removal or denial of one makes the rest of them fail? Surely, not a jot or tittle shall pass away, right? Right!

So then, what is it that fails if any of the five points is removed? The system fails. This, I think, is why Cs are so adamant about embracing all the points. But wait a minute. How can the system fail if it is “scriptural”?

I think I can hear some of my Calvinistic brethren applauding me for making their case. Yet, you and many others have systematically, repeatedly and biblically dismantled Calvinism. And you and numerous others have left the system in preference for a much more biblical view of the salvific process. Yours and others’ are testimonies like unto those who were duped into so-called Charismatic practice, and then ultimately saw it for what it was, and then left it, and also testify about the untenable nature of their former beliefs and practices.

Yours is a testimony of one who embraced Calvinism, and did so for decades, but ultimately left it through biblical study alone. As I like to say, you refused the “Bondage of Luther” and escaped from Calvin’s “Institution.”

Though you do not have a terminal degree, anyone who reads after you (and especially your book) can see that you are no academic slouch. (Some have opined on Dr. Harwood’s Facebook page that your arguments are antiquated and unsophisticated, but I don’t see those whiners effectively rebutting you here, or anywhere else. I guess if one can’t rebut, then he must criticize.)

What you have helped me to see more clearly is that Cals take Bible verses (and even the original Greek), and use such as if they were Legos to construct a system. Then the system becomes sacrosanct because it was drawn from the Bible (the selectivity and creative exegesis notwithstanding).

Cals need to do what you did: Lay aside the flawed writings of fallen men and study only the scriptures in light of the scriptures. This is what led you out of Calvinism, and I am grateful to God for this — especially since you had the humility to reject a system into which you were once so deeply invested.

God bless you, Ronnie.

Norm

    rhutchin

    “Cals have told me that one must accept all points of C’ism, or none.”

    It’s just a technical definition. By definition, a Calvinist is one who accepts the five points. A non-Calvinist does not. I don’t know why an objection by non-Calvinists. Is there some attraction to Calvinism that some people want to be called Calvinist while not, by definition, being Calvinists?

JB

“It is important to understand that while, according to Calvinism, the act of faith that follows regeneration is a free act, the act of regeneration which inescapably leads to this free exercise of faith is forced upon the totally passive and depraved unconditionally elect (monergism and compatibilism).”

Ephesians 2:4-5

4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved),

I’m thankful that God “forced” me to come to faith. I’m thankful that he made me alive while I was dead. If He didn’t, then I would not be saved and neither would any other believer. He has to act against our depraved will.

“Therefore, the offer of salvation to some and the withholding from the incalculable majority were predetermined by God’s good pleasure; thereby, making the gospel the most unfathomably and ghoulishly macabre news for the great majority of God’s humanity.”

This statement assumes that lost people are somehow wanting to be saved, but can’t, because they are of the elect. I think the Bible is very clear about lost man’s seeking of God. They do not want to be saved. It is foolishness to them-

Romans 3:11-18

“There is none righteous, not even one;
11 There is none who understands,
There is none who seeks for God;
12 All have turned aside, together they have become useless;
There is none who does good,
There is not even one.”
13 “Their throat is an open grave,
With their tongues they keep deceiving,”
“The poison of asps is under their lips”;
14 “Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness”;
15 “Their feet are swift to shed blood,
16 Destruction and misery are in their paths,
17 And the path of peace they have not known.”
18 “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

Jake Fowler

Why is so much time being spent arguing and dismantling theology within orthodoxy rather than focusing on heresy that tends to creep in when no one is watching?

    Norm Miller

    Because, Jake, there is a brand of Calvinism that seeks to overtake the SBC, and in so doing, is giving the false impression that all Southern Baptists adhere to Calvinism when most, in fact, do not.
    This brand of Calvinism is radical and unseemly. Almost every week, another church is wrecked because a Calvinist, over a carefully orchestrated period of time, takes over a church and splits it. And if this sort of onerous, offensive and opportunistic form of orthodoxy isn’t checked, more churches will suffer.
    One may argue that this isn’t the theology’s fault. Perhaps. But these actions are motivated by Calvinistic theology.
    How I wish we could lay down our swords and pick up the plowshares because generations of learned men have yet to come to agreement on these matters for more than 4 centuries now. — Norm

JB

Oops, I wrote….This statement assumes that lost people are somehow wanting to be saved, but can’t, because they are of the elect.

It should read…but can’t, because they are not of the elect.

volfan007

AMen Ronnie Rogers and Ron Hale…great insight and words….

David

Don Johnson

JB,

What part of Eph. 2:4-5 even remotely implies being “forced” to come to faith?

sbcissues

Here is a question;

Ronnie wrote,

Regeneration is monergistic (God alone), and man is totally passive until regeneration is accomplished. After God regenerates an elect individual, then and only then does the relationship become synergistic. Calvinism’s understanding of God’s work of regeneration (sometimes referred to as or included in the concept of the efficacious call) necessarily involves irresistibility in purpose, availability to the unconditionally elect only, and the inevitability of a subsequent free exercise of faith.

In the accomplishment of regeneration that necessarily involves irresistibility in purpose, availability to the unconditionally elect only, and the inevitability of a subsequent free exercise of faith…. is that regeneration the result of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit?

As I read the Scriptures, new life is the direct result of the indwelling and is not possible apart from the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. So, given that premise, calvinism has the indwelling taking place prior to repentance, believing and most certainly the exercise of faith… which I believe to be as wrong as wrong can be.

sbcissues

Here is one other comment:

Again Ronnie wrote:

Therefore, if a person believes the Scripture teaches the following, he cannot be a Calvinist: the gospel is good news for everyone and not merely some who hear the words “whosever” or “who wishes take the water of life without cost;” God has grace enabled all who hear the good news to receive His forgiveness by faith in the gospel. These truths are embraced by other biblical approaches but not in Calvinism.

The Scriptures clearly says that the gospel IS THE POWER OF GOD UNTO SALVATION TO EVERYONE WHO BELIEVES

If regeneration is necessary for the unregenerate to respond to the gospel, then the gospel cannot be the power of God unto salvation because it has NO POWER TO SAVE THE UNREGENERATE person. There is no escaping this truth. The gospel only has the power to save the person who is effectually called. It appears that the power of the gospel to save for the calvinist is a sanctifying power and not a converting power.

I realize people claim that the gospel is what converts… so I am NOT SAYING that calvinists do not say this… I understand that they do. What I am saying is that the tenets of calvinism will not allow that interpretation. My point is simple. If the unregenerate cannot respond to the gospel apart from God’s efficacious work in that person’s heart first… then the power of the gospel cannot convert the unregenerate… only God can do that.

It cannot be the means God uses either. For unless and until one is regenerated, the gospel has NO POWER TO SAVE that person. It is only AFTER one is regenerated that the gospel has any power to do ANYTHING… whether it be conversion or sanctification.

Randall Cofield

Marvelous, infinite, matchless, free grace…

Forced on the elect?!

You gotta be kiddin’ me….

    wingedfooted1

    Randall,

    James White commentary on John 6:44…

    “Absolutely necessary is the ‘drawing’ of the Father. The term helkuso is used elsewhere in John of Jesus drawing all to Himself when He is lifted up …… and at the end of the gospel when Peter ‘drags’ the net full of fishes onto the shore”

    So if the correct rendering of John 6:44, as some calvinists teach, is….

    “No one is able to come to Me unless the Father who sent Me ‘drags’ him….”

    Does this not imply force? If a sinner is dragged to Christ, are they going willingly?

    It would seem to me that if the Lost sinner wanted absolutely nothing to do with God or the salvation He is offered, and yet God changed him anyway, it is suffice to say he was forced (thus dragged kicking and screaming against their will).

    God bless

      Alan Davis

      Is that what John 6:44 says? “Absolutely necessary is the ‘drawing’ of the Father.” Do “Traditionalist” believe otherwise?

        Johnathan Pritchett

        Nope, we don’t believe otherwise.

        But while prisoners and nets are dragged, God draws (Neh. 9:30 in LXX) It appears that when God is the subject and helkuo is used, the people actually don’t automatically respond favorably as God desires. No “irresistible” drag here. It isn’t like the (predominately Calvinist, by the way) translators of the Bible don’t know the arguments for “dragged”, it just doesn’t hold up. If the argument was that solid, they would indeed translate it drag there. I mean, why wouldn’t they?

        Rather, we simple-minded Traditionalists simply pay attention to the context and the passage as it relates to John’s Gospel. Also, we certainly interpret it in a way that doesn’t conflict with John 12:32

        Come and believe in John 6 are synonymous.

        Anyone who sees and believes has eternal life and raised. (v. 6:40)

        No one can come (i.e. believe) unless drawn.(v. 6:44)

        Note that belief is not stated in this verse, but is very much implied, because of all the verses in the passage that say belief is required (v. 35, 40, 47, 53, etc.) in the context.

        All are taught, but the listened and learned ones come. (v. 6:45)

        It is real simple.

        The believers are raised (6:40). Can’t believe unless drawn (6:44). The listen and learned ones believe (come 6:45). Therefore, those who listened and learned are the ones who are drawn.

        This is proven by the fact that the listened and learned ones come in v. 45. But the verse before that says absolutely no one can come/believe unless drawn in v.44. Thus, it follows that those who listened and learned are the ones drawn since they are the ones that do, in fact, come.

        Apparently, listening and learning precedes drawing. Quite the opposite of the Calvinist understanding (i.e. regeneration precedes faith), which is typical, since Calvinists rarely allow Jesus to finish his thoughts…as we find the same thing with Calvinists in John 3 as well…

          Norm Miller

          J-man. We’ve been missing you! — N.

            Johnathan Pritchett

            Apologies for the absence. I have been wrapping up the semester. As much as I love spending time here everyday, I must occasionally step away from the internet in order to get stuff done with proper focus.

wingedfooted1

Bob (sbcissues),

You believe what I have maintained that there is no regeneration/new spiritual life/being born again without the permanent indwelling of the Holy Spirit of Christ. When the Lord led me to Romans 8:10 it convinced me that spiritual life, or being born again, is only the result of first being made righteous by His indwelling Spirit.

Romans 8:10 (NLT)….

“And Christ lives within you, so even though your body will die because of sin, the Spirit gives you life (why?) because you have been made right with God.”

Romans 8:10 (amplified)….

“But if Christ lives in you, [then although] your [natural] body is dead by reason of sin and guilt, the spirit (our spirit) is alive (why?) because of [the] righteousness [that He imputes to you].”

Now read that in conjunction with the following….

Romans 4:23-25 (NKJV)….

“Now it was not written for his sake alone that it was imputed to him, but also for us. It (Christ’s righteousness) shall be imputed to us who believe in Him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead, who was delivered up because of our offenses (our sins), and was raised (to new life) because of our justification.”

And so it is with us.

God bless.

JB

Don,

While we were dead, he made us alive. I used the term “forced” because that was the language that Pastor Rogers used to describe the Calvinist position. Dead men can’t do anything. God must make us alive.

    wingedfooted1

    2 Thessalonians 2:11….
    “For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie…”

    Since dead men can’t do anything I guess God must first “make them alive” so that they can believe the lie.

    Jim P

    39″You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life ; it is these that testify about Me;
    40and you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life.

    It is not an issue of ability or not to believe it is about the will and wanting to consider the truth of Christ that they might believe.

    Robert

    JB claims that “Dead men can’t do anything.”

    Presumably he is talking about non-Christians and this is JB’s belief concerning the nature of total depravity.

    But I deal with and evangelize non-Christians all the time: so I know for a fact that his statement that they “can’t do ANYTHING” is absolutely false.

    If JB’s statement were true, then how are they understanding my words and responding back to them? How, after I sometimes encourage them to read the Bible, are they reading the Bible if they “can’t do ***anything***”? How are they then talking about the Bible verses they have read if they “can’t do **anything**? How are they arguing with me and presenting arguments about why the Bible is not true or Christianity is not true, if they “can’t do ***anything***”? And how after interacting with these nonbelievers for sometimes hours, days, weeks, months are they then asking me: “so what do I have to do to be saved?” if they “can’t do **anything***?

    Fact is, the nonbeliever can do all sorts of things. They can even understand spiritual things when the Holy Spirit works in them. They can even choose to respond to the gospel with faith when the Holy Spirit works in them.

    What is it that they cannot do according to the Bible (cf. John 6:44)? According to the Bible they cannot come to Christ in faith unless they are drawn first? And this drawing which is the work of the Holy Spirit (who is Himself God) can soften even the hearts of the hardest sinners towards Christianity, spiritual things, Christ, the Bible.

    Total Depravity does not mean that people are as bad as they can be. Total Depravity does not mean they are incapable of doing anything like a physically dead corpse. Total Depravity is the Biblical truth that sin has corrupted everything, that everything is affected by sin. Total depravity refers to the extensiveness of sin, that it has affected everything in this world. Total Depravity is the Biblical truth that we cannot come to Christ on our own, or by our own initiative, unless we are drawn, unless the Holy Spirit works in us. All of this is biblical and we can believe in and should affirm these things.

    And we can believe in all of this and affirm all of this without being a calvinist.

    And we can definitely believe in and affirm all this without making the mistake that JB makes of making the absolutely ridiculous claim that the nonbeliever “cannot do **anything**” because they are dead.

    “Spiritual death” means separation from God due to sin, it does not mean the nonbeliever is completely unable to do anything like a physically dead corpse.

    Robert

      Alan Davis

      “Total Depravity does not mean that people are as bad as they can be. Total Depravity does not mean they are incapable of doing anything like a physically dead corpse. Total Depravity is the Biblical truth that sin has corrupted everything, that everything is affected by sin. Total depravity refers to the extensiveness of sin, that it has affected everything in this world. Total Depravity is the Biblical truth that we cannot come to Christ on our own, or by our own initiative, unless we are drawn, unless the Holy Spirit works in us. All of this is biblical and we can believe in and should affirm these things.”

      Actually Robert John Stott says something very , very similar in his book on Romans on the 9th chapter.

      Alan D.

      sbcissues

      Alan,

      Actually what I believe you are describing would be depravity not total depravity and certainly not total inability. No one would disagree with what you wrote. Total depravity is more than not being able to come to God on our own or by our own initiative.

      Total depravity says that man is dead in his sin and he has a sinful nature that will not allow him to respond to God or the gospel in any way unless and until God gives that person a new nature that then WILL respond positively to the gospel. Regeneration is necessary to give new life to the dead unregenerate individual and that new life and nature allows him to respond.

      I believe there is a BIG difference in what you wrote and what Calvinism posits in total depravity.

        Alan Davis

        Hey Bob,

        I was just quoting Brother Robert above me. I agree with the statement (I think?!) as he states it. I was just pointing out that Stott said something very, very similar in his book on Romans in the chapter 9 segment. Hope all is well in Fla.

        Alan

          Alan Davis

          Bob,

          sorry for this second post but i read the last paragraph again you wrote. One particular part: “Total depravity says that man is dead in his sin and he has a sinful nature that will not allow him to respond to God or the gospel in any way…” That is not true with all who hold a Calvinistic view. I have found most I have crossed paths with believe it as I quoted Robert above. We as natural men are capable of doing things that are moral and good for man-kind, capable of even being interested in scripture and attempting to follow moral precepts just unable to “see” the need for Christ and His work until God’s Spirit intervenes (and not a small group of Calvinistic guys believe that the work of regeneration and repentance is a simultaneous act). Anyways just trying to give some clarification to the view from my Spurgeonist side.

      JB

      Robert,

      Could you address the passage in Romans 3? Of course lost men can do good things, but they will not come to Christ without the calling and regeneration of the Holy Spirt. I’m saying that our righteousness is like filthy rags. But I do like what you said here;

      “Total depravity refers to the extensiveness of sin, that it has affected everything in this world. Total Depravity is the Biblical truth that we cannot come to Christ on our own, or by our own initiative, unless we are drawn, unless the Holy Spirit works in us. All of this is biblical and we can believe in and should affirm these things.”

      Amen to that.

        Johnathan Pritchett

        Regarding Romans 3. Psalms don’t stop being Psalms just because they are quoted in Romans. Have you read the entire context of the Psalms and the Isaiah 57 reference?

        The whole thing as quoted in Romans, with proper hermeneutics of the Psalms applied here as in the Psalms itself forms a melody about the sinfulness of both Jews and Gentiles. There is in the echo of these passages in their fuller context though that must be brought to bear.

        Paul is no mere proof-texter. The harmony about God gearing up to do something huge in spite of the human condition (even on the behalf of the “righteous” a la Psalm 14: 5) is also detailed in these passages when one looks at the greater contexts from where they are taken. Hence, the unveiling of the righteousness of God in the faithfulness of Christ for those who believe that is announced in verse 21-31.

        Granting the hyperbole, when the Psalmist says “no one seeks God”, he is not saying “no one has, is, or ever will seek God”. Pressing the Psalmist’s language too far from the contextual factors pertaining to properly interpreting the Psalms leads it to contradict other Scriptures.

        In fact, the catena here is marshaled to continue the accusation against the Jews, from their own Scriptures, that they too are under sin (3:9), so that their mouths too are shut-up before God (3:19).

        Don’t confuse “can’t” with “don’t”. Not in terms of pleasing God. That they can’t do. But in terms of seeking God, this passage says that they don’t. It does not say that they can’t. Paul certainly thinks they should (should implies can) since God placed them when and where they are for them to do so (Acts 17:26-27).

        People, both Jews and Gentiles, aren’t doing what they ought, so if you read the larger contexts of the catena passages, we see that God Himself takes action on their behalf, despite human sinfulness, and does so for both Jews and Gentiles.

        Paul’s main point is not, as is often assumed, to give people an existential crisis a la Luther so that they will convert to Christianity. This is a letter to a church already where the majority is probably already converted. It is not an evangelistic sermon to unbelievers.

        Rather, it is to demonstrate that both the Jew and Gentile believers in Jesus are the true people of God, and not the Jews only. This is because the righteousness of God “has been revealed” by the time of his writing the letter, and that there are the people already who “are justified freely by His grace..through faith in His blood”. Namely, the Jew + Gentile audience in Rome he is trying to unite This being the basic point of the first 11 chapters of Romans.

        We believe this, as Robert stated very well, that no one can believe “unless we are drawn, unless the Holy Spirit works in us”.

        Neither of which require regeneration, which is what occurs when repentance and faith occurs, not temporally or logically prior to that. The work of the Spirit is conviction. Some people heed it, others reject it.

        Nothing about Romans 3 suggests that man is unable to do anything whatsoever. All it says is that people, both Jews and Gentiles, are really, really, really, really bad, and this and other passages either state or imply that they neither will nor can do anything whatsoever *on their own* (that’s the difference) and are dependent upon God taking action, which He has done..

          Johnathan Pritchett

          Oops, I means Isaiah 59.

    Norm Miller

    “Dead men can’t do anything.”

    Oh yeah?

    From Dr. David Allen of SWBTS:

    “According to the Bible, the unsaved who are spiritually dead have the ability to:
    Act in accordance with conscience (Gen. 3:7)
    Hear God (Gen. 3:10-13)
    Respond to God (Gen. 3:10-13)
    Adam and Eve died spiritually when they ate the fruit.
    But they were still capable of hearing from/responding to God. (Gen. 3:10-13).
    Repent of sins (Luke 15:18-19)
    The prodigal son, in a state of deadness (Luke 15:32),
    still recognized his sin and returned to the father.
    Seek God (John 3)
    Fear God (Acts 10:2)
    Pray to God (Acts 10:2)
    Both Nicodemus and Cornelius were ‘seeking’ God before their regeneration.
    But if they are dead in their sins, how can this be?
    Know the truth about God (Rom. 1:18-20)
    Perceive God’s invisible attributes (Rom. 1:18-20)
    Again if they are spiritually dead in the sense of total inability, how can this be?”

    Well, J.B.?

JB

Norm,

Romans 14:23

    Norm Miller

    Rom. 14.13: “Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister.”
    OK. JB, I promise never to insinuate that you or any other seminary president, or former SBC president, or millions of Southern Baptists, are semi-Pelagian.
    And, I will never insist that, if you are going to be on my church staff, then you MUST embrace and teach Calvinistic theology, or be fired. — Norm
    P.S. I would be grateful if you would respond to the question regarding your claim that “dead people can’t do anything,” and do so in the light of the verses cited by Dr. Allen.

Jake Fowler

Mr. Miller,

Thanks for the reply! I truly appreciate the time you spend defending scripture. Now please understand that what I say I am doing my best to say in love.

The reason I asked the question above is because I have been looking on this blog recently noticing the frequent posts against Calvinism. So, I presumably wanted to know why this was the case. However, these posts seem not to be in defense for one’s own interpretation, but the attack of another’s interpretation and the people that hold the position themselves; therefore, ‘why’ comes to mind again.

You have affirmed my assumption that these blogs are meant to be an attack and not a defense. I’m not certain that the reason you give is a Biblical reason to “pick up swords.” It also seems like a deductive fallacy:
1. Some Calvinist Pastors destroy SBC churches.
2. Calvinism isn’t kept in check.
3. Therefore, Calvinism will destroy SBC churches.

Now certain well known Calvinist pastors have very healthy churches (i.e. Mark Dever, David Platt, Matt Chandler, et. al.). Given the same logical fallacy:
1. Some Calvinist Pastors have healthy SBC churches.
2. Calvinism isn’t kept in check.
3. Therefore, Calvinism will make healthy SBC churches.
(again, I affirm this is absurd and illogical; I’m simply using it to illustrate the point).

Therefore, please either maintain a better reason why Calvinism is bad or switch from attack to defense. I do not mean that Calvinists should then pick up swords to swing at your shields; moreover, they as well should pick up shields. Biblically, Christians show love in defending their views, not attacking others. I’m not certain why the SBC has allowed these attacks to continue. I would assume the SBC wouldn’t support Westboro Baptist mentality of attacking sinners. How much worse is it that a Christian should attack another Christian!

Please understand that if I have somehow misinterpreted the situation or scripture in anyway I accept full reproof. “If anyone says, “I love God,” yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For the person who does not love his brother he has seen cannot love the God he has not seen. And we have this command from Him: The one who loves God must also love his brother.” 1 John 4:20-21 HCSB

Thank you for any consideration of this reply. Please know that I do love you and am praying for you. Your voice reaches a lot of people. This can be a powerful tool to share the Gospel with many.

soli Deo omnis gloria,
B. Jacob Fowler

    Norm Miller

    Hi Jake:

    Thanks for the tenor of your response. I am grateful for how you express yourself.

    Please note that I cited a “brand” of Calvinism, and I didn’t broad-brush every Calvinist in my remarks.
    Please note that I was victimized by a Calvinist pastor, and that my story has grown increasingly common among other church staffers.
    Please note that one’s perspective determines what is an attack and what is a defense.

    There is no denying that Calvinism in general, and militant Calvinism more specifically, is on the rise on the SBC. Recent appointments and elections to significant offices of power and influence have occurred.

    There is no denying that the Founders movement seeks to “calvinize” churches, and I know of several accounts where some churches have suffered greatly at the hands of a Calvinistic pastors, who kept their theology/soteriology hidden until such time as they could make their moves.

    So, this comment of yours: “Therefore, please either maintain a better reason why Calvinism is bad or switch from attack to defense,” is admirable, but you will understand why it rings hollow to those of us who are aware of what some Calvinists are doing.

    You said. “How much worse is it that a Christian should attack another Christian!” I couldn’t agree more, Jake. And that line is one you should also be feeding to the Calvinists who continue to insist that Trads are Pelagian or semi-Pelagian. Dr. Mohler insinuated such, and as yet, has refused to apologize. Your advice applies as much to Mohler and many Calvinists as it does to anyone.

    I am aware that there are many Calvinists who are pastoring what some consider to be successful churches. You mentioned Dever. Do you know how many members of his church sit on SBC trustee boards and agencies? That number hardly represents passivity in denominational politics. Hard to see that as anything other than an agenda.

    Regarding our syllogisms, you misrepresented my position by the following:
    “1. Some Calvinist Pastors destroy SBC churches.
    2. Calvinism isn’t kept in check.
    3. Therefore, Calvinism will destroy SBC churches.”

    I see how you arrived at point 3., but I didn’t say that. I initially cited a “brand” of Calvinism, and that is what I have in view throughout my response to your original question. If militant Calvinism isn’t stopped, then more horror stories will continue to happen at the hands of some calvinistic pastors. Note that these pastors are motivated by Calvin’s theology in their heinous acts.

    You said:
    “Now certain well known Calvinist pastors have very healthy churches (i.e. Mark Dever, David Platt, Matt Chandler, et. al.). Given the same logical fallacy:
    1. Some Calvinist Pastors have healthy SBC churches.
    2. Calvinism isn’t kept in check.
    3. Therefore, Calvinism will make healthy SBC churches.”

    I agree, your syllogism represents a logical fallacy. The proof is in the number of churches destroyed, embarrassed, and split by Calvinists who apparently care more about the 5 points than they do the Beatitudes, for example. I know that statement doesn’t represent all Cals, but it surely does some. And certainly, as one who suffered at the hands of such a pastor, I know this to be true.

    One other thing, Jake. Whether certain actions appear to be offensive or defensive depends in part upon one’s perspective. Whereas I am sure Calvinists view this blog with disdain (in fact, I know some do) and consider it to be offensive, I can assure you that Trads see the blog as a necessary defense against the brand of Calvinism that is destroying churches and is on the march to have the seats of power in the SBC.

    Again, I do appreciate the tone of your remarks. Such is exemplary to us all.

    Deus Caritas Est,

    Norm

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