Eight Theses on Election: Dr. L. Paige Patterson

October 23, 2012

Since 2003, Dr. L. Paige Patterson has presided over Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. Previously, Dr. Patterson was president of Southeastern Seminary in Wake Forest, N. Car. The post below – an extensive and detailed sermon outline – originates from a student’s hand who heard Dr. Patterson deliver the message on August 27, 1998, at SEBTS. Checked for accuracy against an audio file of the sermon, the outline below is presented with Dr. Patterson’s permission and with SBCToday’s gratitude not only for Dr. Patterson’s sermon, but also for his leadership in our beloved Southern Baptist Convention especially since 1979.

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Eight Theses Concerning the Doctrine of Election, 1 Peter 1.1-2

by Paige Patterson

I. Two mistakes can be and often are made.

A. To treat the doctrine of election in the Bible as though it did not exist at all.

1. There are evangelistic, missionary-to-the-core churches that do not speak of or teach the doctrine of election.

2. The pastor is afraid to speak of election even though it is prominent in the Scriptures, and this fear deprives members of one of their greatest blessings.

B. To construct one’s theology and soteriology primarily around the doctrine of election.

1. This model cannot be found in the Word of God.

2. The soteriology and even the theology of the New Testament is constructed around the person and the work of the Lord Jesus Christ, His atoning sacrifice, and his Great Commission to take the Gospel to the end of the earth.

II. Any assessment of the soteriology of the Bible must reckon with the entire witness of the Scripture without facile handling of apparently divergent texts.

A. E.g., the ardent Calvinist says the “whosoever wills of the Bible” refer to the elect.

1. This is facile use of the Word of God.

2. It is a poor explanation of what the Bible says regarding the doctrine of election.

3. It does not consider the whole witness of Scripture.

III. Any construal of the doctrine of election which makes one more of an evangelist for a system of theology than an evangelist for Jesus and His free salvation to all men is seriously at odds with the Word of God.

A. More clearly: If one is more of an ardent advocate of Calvinism than you are of Jesus as an answer to men’s souls, then you are out of step with the clear teachings of the Word of God. This is determined by what one speaks of the most, Calvinism or Jesus.

IV. Any formulation of the doctrine of election which diminishes in any way either intentionally or unintentionally the passion for or aggressive practice of confrontational evangelism must be jettisoned as unworthy of both the spirit and the mandate of the New Testament.

A. More clearly – Whatever your doctrine of election is — if it intentionally or unintentionally slows you down in the task of confrontational evangelism, you have yet to discover what the Bible teaches about election.

V. Any formulation of the doctrine of election which eliminates some or most of all of the people on the face of the globe from any possibility of salvation at the outset and automatically condemns them to hell reduces the warning of Jesus about the unpardonable sin to little more than spiritual terrorism, or worse, deliberate deceit, since by definition every sin of the non-elect is unforgivable.

A. This thesis is the hardest to understand, but is the most devastating.

B. Jesus issued a poignant warning against an unpardonable sin.

VI. Election is somehow bound up in the foreknowledge of God.

A. Clearly in 1 Peter 1.2 “according to the foreknowledge of God….”

B. This raises the questions for Calvinists: “Which came first, the chicken or the egg? If God foreknows something to be the case, is it conceivable that it be any other way?” And the answer is “No.”

C. But be careful. Not once, but twice the Scriptures speak of election being bound up in the foreknowledge of God.

1. Romans 8.29-30 – For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.

2. It cannot be argued or denied that this passage of Scripture is not sequential in nature.

a. Glorification does come after justification.

b. Justification does come as a result of calling.

c. Calling does come as a result of the predestining act of God.

d. Predestination is based in the foreknowledge of God.

3. Even though we don’t understand it, we must not deny that it.

VII. Although it is all together a healthy exercise to wrestle with the doctrines of election and responsibility, sovereignty and human freedom, the failure of 2000 years of theological reflection to crack the mysteries of God’s electing providence should instill humility rather than hubris in the interpreter.

A. For 2000 years people have been discussing this and it may be the only reason for building cafeterias and coffee houses on seminary campuses. No one has come up with an explanation to satisfy anybody else.

1. My explanation doesn’t satisfy you.

2. Yours for dead sure doesn’t satisfy me.

B. Under such conditions, is it not better to say, “God, in Your greatness you have done, thought and acted in ways too transcendent for me to embrace”?

VIII. If we are unable to resolve the apparent paradox of biblical instruction, its heavenly wisdom proving too transcendent for fallen intellects, then perhaps we should advance to a new question. Maybe instead of asking how it all works, we ought to ask instead, “Why is the doctrine of election in the Bible?”

A. If God has placed something in the text that seems to be too far beyond us, and we can’t make it all make sense with human logic as we know it, then why would he do a thing like that on such an important topic?

B. If you change the question from how does it all work to why is it there and then read Romans 8, it will unfold like a magnificent panorama of unparalleled beauty before your very eyes. You will discover four things.

1. As long as doctrine of election is in the Bible, salvation is God’s act from beginning to end.

a. It is not what man does, but it is what God does.

b. Man never thought of it.

c. Man never planned it.

d. Man can’t produce it.

e. Man can’t sustain it.

f. It is God’s act from beginning to end.

g. Romans 8:29-30 says “For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son…whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.” You do not read anything about man in this text.

2. As long as election is in the Bible, the impossibility of apostasy is made crystal clear.

a. Romans 8:35-39 asks who will separate us from the love of God?

b. When you come to Jesus Christ and you are regenerated and born again, you can never forfeit that salvation. How would it be possible for God to lose somebody He had elected to salvation?

c. As long as the doctrine of election is there in the Bible, it guarantees that once you are saved, you are always saved.

3. As long as the doctrine of election is in the Bible, it guarantees God providential oversight of His children.

a. Romans 8:28: And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.

i. It doesn’t say that everything was good.

ii. (Mt 7:11) – If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!

iii. Your heavenly Father takes the worst things that the devil and life itself can deal to you by way of a hand, and He turns it into a winning hand and blesses you through the whole thing.

4. As long as the doctrine of election is in the Bible, we don’t have to worry about how the world is going to end.

a. It guarantees a designed climax of the age, even though we may differ on the specifics of culmination. All may be somewhat surprised – post-tribbers more than others.

b. Romans 8:21-23 says that the whole creation groans and travails awaiting something – what? – rejuvenation of God’s created order.

c. All is not out of control. Ultimately, we do not have to worry who has the missiles. We know that God is guiding world events inevitably toward the designed climax of the age, and election guarantees it.

C. So if you ask the question “Why is the doctrine of election in the Scriptures?” you will feel much better about the answers that you get. And you will have to leave unresolved, until we get to heaven, the question of how to reconcile the apparently divergent positions of Scripture.

 

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rhutchin

According to the outline, Dr. Paige never got down to defining election; one is presumed to understand the concept. Election means that God knew those who were to be saved (regardless how it comes about) and that He knew these people (calling them the elect) before He created the world. Their names were written in the Lamb’s Book of Life before the foundation of the world (as Revelation tells us). The number of the elect will not be increased beyond that known to God and the number of the reprobate will not be decreased. The purpose of the evangelist is to proclaim the gospel and let the gospel separate the one from the other.

Dr. Paige notes a tension between Calvinism and evangelism (Points II and III) but fails to explain that discussions of Calvinism are normally, and properly, the meat of theological discussions (as occurs on SBC Today) and not the milk of evangelistic sermons.

Nonetheless, Dr. Paige draws the standard Calvinistic conclusion in Point VIII as one should from the Doctrine of Election.

Point VI touches on the relation between election and God’s knowledge. As baptists, we affirm that God is omniscient. Some say that God can look into the future and discover how people will respond to the gospel and then these people become the elect. This position denies omniscience. It grants God some basic level of knowledge and then has God gaining additional knowledge by looking into the future to see what will happen. It says that God can become omniscient but that He is not omniscient necessarily. Non-Calvinists within the Baptist churches have yet to come to grips with God’s omniscience and have yet to challenge the Calvinists on this. The non-Calvinists cannot find a way to affirm that God is omniscient without also denying His omniscience in their theology.

    G Schaub

    Concerning your last paragraph, I think this is somewhat a caricature of non-Calvinists. Of course, the anthropomorphic language of God “looking” into the future is incorrect for God knows inherently all facts in both the past, present and future. He doesn’t have to look; he already knows.

    I would say that those who do say that in fact mean, if they were to give some thought to their use of language, that God knows those (and all) facts. To extrapolate from their use of anthropomorphic language that they deny God’s omniscience is a stretch I think. Do those who use such language need to think more carefully about their language? Of course. Should one then accuse them of denying one of God’s attributes? No

David R. Brumbelow

Dr. Patterson,
Outstanding thoughts on Election and Calvinism.
I pray all will carefully read them and that this will be published widely.
David R. Brumbelow

Tim Rogers

rhuthcin,

Good point about Dr. P’s failure to defining election. However, if one reads his latest commentary on The Revelation one will find on p.324 a definition. He writes;

“The doctrine of election in Holy Scripture is referenced repeatedly in one way or another. That God has acted to choose some to salvation is beyond dispute for anyone who takes the Scriptures to be the infallible Word of God.”

Thus, it seems that would be his definition of election.

As a non-Calvinists I object to your blanket statement of fact that really is not fact at all. You say;

Non-Calvinists within the Baptist churches have yet to come to grips with God’s omniscience and have yet to challenge the Calvinists on this. The non-Calvinists cannot find a way to affirm that God is omniscient without also denying His omniscience in their theology.

Au Contrair, my brother. You are misusing the word in order to make your statement. First, no one has said that God looks into the future to “discover” how people will respond. Dr. P has not stated that and you will not find that in his writings any place. Our election is not based on anything of us but on God’s good pleasure. However, your use of “omniscient” leaves out something about this attribute of God that is very important. Omniscience does not just include God’s intellectual capabilities but also His use of those unlimited capabilities. You see, your use of omniscience limits God to only his capability and does not address his use of His unlimited intellect. As Augustine suggested in his Confessions XI, 31, God knows the whole. You are I are debating from what we already know to what we know is to come. Augustine use the quoting of the 23 Psalm as his example. When we quote Psalm 23 we get to the middle and stop. We know what we have quoted and we know what we are going to quote. God is much different. He know the whole. Thus, for you to say that non-Calvinists deny God’s omniscience is preposterous.

    Robert

    Hello Tim,

    You wrote:

    “Thus, for you to say that non-Calvinists deny God’s omniscience is preposterous.”

    I agree with you completely on this statement. The orthodox teaching of the Christian church across all traditions (including Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Protestant) is that God is omniscient (and this includes exhaustive knowledge of all future events, even those that include actions and choices that involve free will). Put simply the majority position among Christians throughout church history is both that men have free will as ordinarily understood and that God has knowledge of everything/omniscience. Only theological determinists, e.g. calvinists, deny free will. And only a small minority, e.g. open theists, have denied omniscience.

    So when Rhutchin writes:

    “Non-Calvinists within the Baptist churches have yet to come to grips with God’s omniscience and have yet to challenge the Calvinists on this. The non-Calvinists cannot find a way to affirm that God is omniscient without also denying His omniscience in their theology.”

    First he is mistaken regarding non-calvinists needing to “challenge” calvinists on this.

    There is nothing to challenge in regards to this as both non-calvinists and calvinists agree that God **is** omniscient. As they both agree on this issue there is no need to challenge one another on something we already agree upon.
    Second he is mistaken when he claims:

    “The non-Calvinists cannot find a way to affirm that God is omniscient without also denying His omniscience in their theology.”

    Non-calvinists (who are not open theists) affirm omniscience and have explained its compatibility with free will in various ways including: (1) the Boethian way (i.e. God sees everything at once, what C. S. Lewis called an “eternal now”); (2) Ockhamist way (e.g. Alvin Plantinga); (3) Molinist way (e.g. via middle knowledge, Thomas Flint, Kevin Keathley); (4) simple foreknowledge way (e.g. God simply knows the future exhautively, David Hunt), etc.

    What all of these ways have in common is that they **all** affirm that God is omniscient in contrast to open theists.

    Rhutchin’s comments then are absolutely false and show almost total ignorance of theology in regards to this issue. If Rhutchin **does know** of these various non-calvinist theologies and makes his claim, then he is intentionally lying about the situation. I will assume his comments flow from ignorance rather than intentional deceit.

    Robert

    rhutchin

    I think Dr. Patterson could, and should, have written, “…That God has acted to choose some to salvation [before He created the world] is beyond dispute…”

    You say, “First, no one has said that God looks into the future to “discover” how people will respond.” I have heard several Pastors or seminary educated people make this claim. It normally comes in a statement like this, “First you choose God, and then God chooses you.” In the book “Whosoever Will” (Allen/Lemke eds), we read, “…God foreknows those who will respond in faith and on the basis of that foreknowledge He predestines…”(p152) which I understand to be the position I noted. The same statement is made in the book, “Against Calvinism,” Roger E. Olson, who wrote, “Election is simply God’s foreknowledge of who will freely receive this grace unto salvation.” (p.129) If these guys meant something different from what I concluded, it escaped me.

    You then say, “However, your use of “omniscient” leaves out something about this attribute of God that is very important. Omniscience does not just include God’s intellectual capabilities but also His use of those unlimited capabilities. You see, your use of omniscience limits God to only his capability and does not address his use of His unlimited intellect….Thus, for you to say that non-Calvinists deny God’s omniscience is preposterous.” I simply do not understand what this means or what you might mean by writing it. I am using omniscience in the sense of God’s knowledge being perfect and complete; there is not anything unknown to God about the world before He creates the world. I simply do not understand what you are trying to say.

    Otherwise, I enjoyed your comments.

      Tim Rogers

      rhutchins,

      Are you saying that God, before creation, elected those to salvation and reprobation? Or are you saying that God’s election and reprobation came after the fall? Or are you saying that God’s election and reprobation comes after the atonement for all? You view of election will certain speak volumes concerning your okay of the definition of Dr. Patterson.

        rhutchin

        God’s election must have come before the fall; not after. If after the fall, then we conclude that the fall precipitated God’s decision to elect some to salvation. This would deny that God is omniscient (or knew that the fall would occur) given that we find him reacting to the fall rather than anticipating it.

        If after the atonement, then we conclude that it was part of God’s plan all along. I don’t think we should say that God is making decisions on the fly (deciding after the atonement what His next step would be). Given that Christ was slain from the foundation of the world (Rev 13:8), telling us that God has a plan, we are to think that all that happens is the unfolding of God’s plan.

        As it is God who chooses whom to save, we cannot say that God’s choice is precipitated by some event as this also denies God’s omniscience (by saying that God does not choose whom to save until He learns that X has occurred).

          Donald

          The idea of “omniscience” is a formal linguistic construction, unrelated to anything in our experience, with no clear meaning and when used is prone to paradox.

          When your theology consists of “must” and “would” applied to such a man-made construct you simply fail. God is not bound by your understanding of logic/linguistics.

          “Omniscience” is, at best, a theological inference and cannot be used as an axiom in your understanding of who God is, and what he can or cannot do.

volfan007

This blessed me to read it. This was a very good, thoughtful explanation of election and Calvinism. Excellent. Good stuff.

David

    Max

    Amen David! This is one of the best, most concise statements on election that I have seen. It needs to be nailed on SBC doors in Nashville and beyond.

Ben Simpson

I appreciate these words from Dr Patterson! It’s really good to read an article at SBC Today on Calvinism that is aimed at unifying and edifying instead of engaging in polemics and deconstruction. He’s provided some really helpful maxims here to help both sides of the debate.

His number eight is especially good as he encourages us to ask why instead of how. I actually just preached on the doctrine of election and went after one of the why’s. So, I would add one more reason to Dr Patterson’s reasons as to why the doctrine of election is in the Bible: As long as the doctrine of election is in the Bible, God’s special love for the elect is unquestionable. God loves every person, but He especially loves the elect (Mal 1:1-5, Rom 9, Eph 1:3-6). We who are in Christ should never doubt His love for us!

As for his number 6, I completely agree with his thesis but question his explanation of the thesis. Undoubtedly, election is somehow bound up in the foreknowledge of God (1 Pet 1:2, Rom 8:29), and who doesn’t argue that Romans 8:29-30 is sequential? The problem is that Dr Patterson equates foreknowing with foreseeing (aka, prescience), but that’s not at all how Paul is using foreknew in Romans. Paul tells us that God foreknew people and not decisions of faith. Dr Patterson and people along his interpretive line have to add some words to the Bible here to get foreseen faith out of the text: “For those whom He foreknew would believe on Jesus, He predestined…” However, the Bible doesn’t have those words because it’s pointing to God foreknowing people and not people’s faith. When the Bible talks about knowing people, it’s a euphemism for intimacy and love. So, foreknew here has a connotation of God setting His love on a people beforehand and is synonymous with elected or chose.

This meaning is made abundantly clear in Romans 11:2. The meaning of foreknew here in Rom 8:29 should be equal to the usage in Rom 11:2, which says, “God has not rejected His people [Israelites] whom He foreknew.” Is God saying here that: 1) He has not rejected Israel whom He knew beforehand would believe on Jesus, or 2) He has not rejected Israel whom He chose beforehand to be His? I think clearly the answer is #2. Therefore, we should understand Roman 8:29 accordingly.

The same goes for 1 Peter 1:2. Foreknowledge is not merely prescience. God’s foreknowledge led to people being chosen or elected to obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood. There again, it’s foreknowledge of people and not decisions of faith. Just a few verses later in 1 Pet 1:20, we get what Peter means by foreknowledge and foreknow. It says that Jesus Christ was “foreknown before the foundation of the world.” Is this pointing to: 1) merely prescience, or to 2) setting His love on and choosing Jesus? Surely we’d have to agree that 1 Pet 1:20 means #2. Therefore, 1 Pet 1:2 should be understood accordingly as well.

    Calvin S.

    Amen Ben. The non-Calvinist standard position on foreknowledge is completely flawed and doesn’t have a leg to stand on.

      Robert

      Calvin S. makes the following completely unsubstanciated claim:

      “The non-Calvinist standard position on foreknowledge is completely flawed and doesn’t have a leg to stand on.”

      This is an assertion with absolutley no evidence given in support of it.

      The Christian church throughout history has had a simple view of foreknowledge. It is this: that God knows everything, including all future events, and including all future events that involve freely made choices. God as God simply knows everything. Since he knows everything he knows the future exhaustively. This is the standard position of the church throughout church history. It is held across all theological traditions which means it is held by Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Protestants. Only calvinists who historically are always a minority within the church, have denied this orthodox position.

      In contrast to the orthodox position they falsely claim that God only foreknows future events because he predestined them all. Which means that unless God predestines a future event he cannot know what will happen in the future.

      Open theists agree with calvinists on this that God cannot know future events that involve freely made choices which were not predestined by God. But the rest of the church, the majority of the church rejects both calvinism and open theism and their erroneous views on foreknowledge.

      For a good and scholarly treatment of the concept of foreknowledge from a noncalvinist position see Thomas Edgar’s paper on it:

      http://evangelicalarminians.org/?q=node/154&page=3

      Edgar does a very good job of discussing the concept of foreknowledge here in this article.

      Robert

        Calvin S.

        Robert,

        My point is that Ben is correct that Romans 11:22 defines “foreknew” so we can understand what foreknew in Romans 8:29 means. To assume, with not a shread of evidence in Romans 8 that somehow God meant foreknew they would believe is exegesis. It is adding to Romans 8 that which is not there. THAT is the standard non-Calvinist position on foreknowledge, and as I said before, it doesn’t have a leg to stand on!

        Calvin S.

        I meant Romans 11:2

    PreachBlackManPreach

    The underlying issue here and has always been the non-elect, as some say, those who were “marked” out by God for damnation, those who were “left” out of the “eternal life” discussion all together. That’s where most of the energy and passion comes from in this age old Calvinism discussion. All roads lead back to the non-elect.

    There is a tremendous “divide” between The Word, who created “all mankind” and the Last Adam who came to save the world. God is Sovereign, but one must put all of the pleading with the wicked over the years by His prophets and His servants in perspective to which the Holy Scriptures declare. He pleaded with the wicked by His Holy Spirit but they would not repent of their wickedness, He reasoned with the ungodly and they refused to believe. They resisted Him and paid the ultimate price. His actions regarding those who perished in spite of His preaching, in spite of His warning, must not be overlooked.

Calvin S.

It is a very good article, but I do have one complaint with Dr. Patterson’s accusation that, to paraphrase: “After 2000 years of discussing election and human freedom, no one has come up with an explanation to satisfy anybody else.”

I would respond, “Just because you don’t understand it, doesn’t mean it can’t be understood.” It is actually a very proud thought to have that “I don’t understand it; therefore it can’t be understood.”

In Response:
I believe I have a perfectly responsible and simple theory for how God’s election and human freedom work together:

God opens the eyes and heart of the sinner. Now they see how beautiful Christ is and how necessary He is for them, and so they run to Him willingly. Who would not run to Him willingly if they actually saw Jesus for who He really is?

This explains and harmonizes election and freewill.

    Norm Miller

    Isn’t it just as prideful to say, “I do understand it,” Calvin? — Norm

      Max

      Norm, there is no shortage of arrogant statements by New Calvinists when it comes to defending their superior intellect – the prevailing attitude is “we understand … you don’t.” After all, another SBC seminary president has suggested that the reformed faith is the only viable option for thinking Christians and that the young, restless and reformed amongst us “is a generation that understands”:

      “… when I’m asked about the New Calvinism—where else are they going to go, who else is going to answer the questions, where else are they going to find the resources they are going to need and where else are they going to connect. This is a generation that understands, they want to say the same thing that Paul said, they want to stand with the apostles, they want to stand with old dead people, and they know that they are going to have to, if they are going to preach and teach the truth.” (Dr. Albert Mohler) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T6lRMMvNCn8

    Tim Rogers

    Calvin S. or whoever you are,

    God opens the eyes and heart of the sinner. Now they see how beautiful Christ is and how necessary He is for them, and so they run to Him willingly. Who would not run to Him willingly if they actually saw Jesus for who He really is?

    This explains and harmonizes election and freewill.

    Have you lost your ever loving mind? Seriously? Do you actually believe you have “harmonized election and free will?” You are like the person that prayed; “God, I thank you I am ignorant and I pray that you make me ignoranter”. A prayer God answered before you prayed it.

    Cb scott

    Calvin S.,

    Do you live under a rock in Siberia?

    Do you have any idea to whom you are directing such an ignorance revealing statement?

    Would you actually stand flat-footed before the entire Southern Baptist world and say to Dr. Paige Patterson, “Just because you don’t understand it, doesn’t mean it can’t be understood.”??

    Dr Patterson is a Baptist theologian who “understood” before you were ever even a twinkle in your daddy’s eye.

    I believe you to be the very kind of Calvinist that Danny Akin referenced in his recent chapel sermon. Do you really think you have boxed the Sovereign God up in a neat package?

    Pitiful. Just pitiful. Some of you guys go to a conference, read half a book written by a guy who read a whole book, start a blog, and you call yourselves theologians. Amazing. Pitifully amazing.

      Donald

      Calvin S,
      No person, other than you, has declared Dr. Patterson a “Pope”. However, he has proven himself a capable theologian. You need to do a bit more than simply declare that he does not understand based only on the fact that he does not agree with you.

      Cb scott

      Calvin S.,

      No. I know for sure he is not “infallible,” inerrant, or perfect, nor is he the Pope of the SBC.

      I also know for sure that he does not think himself: infallible, inerrant, or perfect, nor does he think himself the Pope of the SBC.

      In addition, I know he well understands the various systems of dogmatics related to biblical soteriology…..as do I.

      Frankly, he has forgotten more about soteriology than you presently understand or will ever understand, as do I and he has forgotten very little, as have I.

      You, Calvin S., are a theological dwarf. I well described you last evening when I stated, rather plainly, “Some of you guys go to a conference, read half a book written by a guy who read a whole book, start a blog, and you call yourselves theologians.”

      And…my conclusion was, and continues to be: “Amazing. Pitifully amazing.”

      I trust that answers your question sufficiently, and to your present stage of “understanding.”

      BTW, the Pope of the SBC was, is, and always will be Judge Paul Pressler. He is infallible.

        Cb scott

        Calvin S.,

        Your imagination is also lacking. Surely you could have been more original that the tissue paper remark.

        Have you any idea how many times that has been said to me?

          Donald

          CB,
          But the TP comparison never really gets old. I’m sure you’ve been in the stands with a box of Tide detergent and a roll of paper…

          “Around the toilet and down the bowl – Roll Tide Roll”

    Robert

    Calvin S the anonymous calvinist who keeps stirring up strife with his posts: strikes again:

    He/She gives us his/her “simple” theory on election:

    “In Response:
    I believe I have a perfectly responsible and simple theory for how God’s election and human freedom work together:
    God opens the eyes and heart of the sinner. Now they see how beautiful Christ is and how necessary He is for them, and so they run to Him willingly. Who would not run to Him willingly if they actually saw Jesus for who He really is?
    This explains and harmonizes election and freewill.”

    Some problems with this supposedly “simple” theory.

    Nothing wrong with the first line: it is absolutely true that God opens the eyes and hearts of the sinner. If the Holy Spirit does not do a preconversion work in an individual they will never be enabled to trust in Christ alone for salvation. So far so good.

    This next line about the beauty of Christ, may be true of a very few individuals. But in my experience the vast majority of believers did not initially come to Christ after they saw the beauty of Christ. In the vast majority of cases, once they were shown by the Spirit that they were sinners, shown their sinful condition, shown the result of this condition if they did not repent (i.e. hell), they then begged God to save them from the wrath to come. I do a lot of evangelism and do follow up. In the hundreds of conversions which I have done follow up on, none of them gave the reason for their initially trusting Christ to be because they saw how beautiful He is. Now that does not mean that it could never happen that way, but it does suggest that if it does happen that way, it is very rare. They do not speak of running to him willingly after having seen how beautiful he is: instead they run to him knowing how sinful they are and how their only hope is to trust Him and what He did on the cross for them to save them! Put simply this theory may sound nice, but it really does not fit the reality of how most people come to Christ. Since the vast majority do not come to Christ because he is beautiful but because they are sinners realizing their need for forgiveness, this theory is false.

    The theory really shows itself to be false with the next line:

    “Who would not run to Him willingly if they actually saw Jesus for who He really is? “

    This claim is extremely naïve and out of touch with reality. Take the devil for example. He was created the greatest angel, he was in the presence of God in a way none of us has ever been, he saw “Jesus for who He really is”. And yet he did not run to Jesus, instead he rebelled and ran away from Jesus.

    Or take the example that sometimes occurs in scripture where God reveals a glimpse of who He is (the response of the people in each case is not to run to Jesus, but to be in total fear!).

    The third and best example that shows this line to be false is the Pharisees. They saw Jesus right in front of them, they heard his words, they saw incredible miracles right in front of them, the power of the Spirit demonstrated repeatedly in ways no one else has ever seen. Did they run to Jesus because they saw how beautiful he is? No, they argued with Him, rejected him, said he was demon possessed and doing the miracles through the power of the devil and wanted him killed! And they said “this man will not rule over us!”

    Fourth, the Spirit in his preconversion work with the sinner does in fact show who Jesus is, and yet people also choose to reject the work of the Spirit. This claim that if people just saw Jesus for who he really is, they would automatically run to him, is just baseless and false. The reality is that sinners need major transformation in order to see how beautiful Jesus is, to value and worship him for who he is.

    So Calvin S’s theory fails. It does not fit reality, does not fit how most people come to Christ, it may be simple in the mind of Calvin S. but it fails.

    And this brings up again an issue that I see repeatedly with calvinists such as Calvin S. by their statements, you get the impression that they do very little evangelism or seem almost completely ignorant of the realities of evangelism. You certainly get the impression that the ones that make statements like Calvin S are big on theory and discussion, but probably have never led another person to the Lord. For example when he says that people run to Christ because they see how beautiful he is, this shows very little experience or knowledge of how people come to Christ. The reality is that they come to Christ for many different reasons. One comes because he wants to escape the wrath to come (as one person told me recently, not so eloquent but nevertheless true: “I knew I was going to hell if things did not change, Jesus saved my butt . . .” Another comes because his reasonable apologetics questions have been well answered by someone who witnessed to him and gave him rational answers as to why he should be a Christian (i.e. he was persuaded that Christianity is true and since it is true he ought to believe it). Another was just reading the bible and began to see that he was not a believer and needed to change, needed to have his sins forgiven, needed to be in personal relationship with Jesus. I could go on and on about differing testimonies. Yes they have some commonalities, but they are also always different. So to claim that sinners come to Christ because they see how beautiful he is, may be true in a very small minority of cases, but not with most sinners who are converted.

    Robert

Shane Dodson

“Dr Patterson is a Baptist theologian who “understood” before you were ever even a twinkle in your daddy’s eye.”

Appeal to authority.

“Pitiful. Just pitiful. Some of you guys go to a conference, read half a book written by a guy who read a whole book, start a blog, and you call yourselves theologians. Amazing. Pitifully amazing.”

Ad hominem.

Try again with no fallacies?

    Tim Rogers

    Shane,

    What exactly are you trying to say? Do you believe you have harmonized election and free will?

      Shane Dodson

      I reject that “free will” needs to be harmonized with anything. You and I are defining “free will” differently.

      The will of sinful man is free to do what comports with his nature.

      Read John 8:34. Jesus says that those who sin are….?

    Cb scott

    Shane Dodson,

    Before we start this dance, are you also going to state that Dr. Patterson does not “understand”?

    If that is what you are going to state, then start the music.

    If you are going to challenge me for taking Ole Calvin S to task, I won’t even give you my arm. You can dance by yourself, because what I stated here about Calvin S. and his comment is true and the song is just to short to get a good two-step going.

      volfan007

      CB and Tim R.,

      We’re seeing first hand a lot of the problem that the SBC is having, right now. We’re seeing it illustrated in this comment thread. Now, of course, it’s not all of the problems we’re having….no, no, no. But, it is a hunk of it.

      We need revival in our SBC Churches. We need it bad.

      David

        Max

        “We need revival …”

        Amen, David! I was reading a comment stream on another SBC blog site the other day – one commenter said “we don’t need revival … we need reformation.” Yet another indication of how wide the chasm is in SBC ranks.

        Unfortunately, I don’t see much move in SBC pulpit or pew toward revival … little evangelism, little prayer. It appears that the SBC masses are satisfied to live without revival.

        Shane Dodson

        “We’re seeing first hand a lot of the problem that the SBC is having, right now. We’re seeing it illustrated in this comment thread. Now, of course, it’s not all of the problems we’re having….no, no, no. But, it is a hunk of it.”

        The SBC has 16.2 million members. The average worship attendance is 6.15 million.

        There’s your huge problem.

        Shane Dodson

        The SBC has 16.2 members. The average worship attendance is 6.15 million.

        There’s your problem.

      Shane Dodson

      Dr. Patterson defines “free will” differently than I do.

      A person has “free will” to do what only what comports with his nature.

      Jesus taught that those who sin are slaves to sin (John 8:2; Romans 6:16). A slave to sin possesses a will that is enslaved to sin, unless you’re going to argue that somehow this will is not enslaved, and can freely choose what is good in the eyes of God.

Robert

Calvin S. makes the following completely unsubstanciated claim:

“The non-Calvinist standard position on foreknowledge is completely flawed and doesn’t have a leg to stand on.”

This is an assertion with absolutley no evidence given in support of it.

The Christian church throughout history has had a simple view of foreknowledge. It is this: that God knows everything, including all future events, and including all future events that involve freely made choices. God as God simply knows everything. Since he knows everything he knows the future exhaustively. This is the standard position of the church throughout church history. It is held across all theological traditions which means it is held by Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Protestants. Only calvinists who historically are always a minority within the church, have denied this orthodox position.

In contrast to the orthodox position they falsely claim that God only foreknows future events because he predestined them all. Which means that unless God predestines a future event he cannot know what will happen in the future.

Open theists agree with calvinists on this that God cannot know future events that involve freely made choices which were not predestined by God. But the rest of the church, the majority of the church rejects both calvinism and open theism and their erroneous views on foreknowledge.

For a good and scholarly treatment of the concept of foreknowledge from a noncalvinist position see Thomas Edgar’s paper on it:

http://evangelicalarminians.org/?q=node/154&page=3

Edgar does a very good job of discussing the concept of foreknowledge here in this article.

Robert

    Calvin S.

    1. Paul mentions nothing about faith in the text.
    2. Paul says God foreknew them, not something about them.
    3. Paul explains what he means by foreknew in Romans 11:2.

PreachBlackManPreach

Election without foreknowledge (prescience) is like grace without faith. If they stand apart, they stand alone. I’m hearing the same argument in respect to foreknowledge verses foreknew. God’s foreknowledge isn’t turned off so to speak in order to make this dogma plausible. Not “One” of His Divine attributes can be omitted in this discussion rather “All” of His attributes rest heavily upon the subject or any “other” for that matter. I understand the intimacy of foreordination but let’s not leave out or even minimize foreknowledge. Election according to foreknowledge fits well in God’s redemptive reconciliation and doesn’t violate His Sovereignty because it is in the “text”.

Remember, those who have perished, did so without excuse, so it will be with those who will perish according to the general revelation of God and the gospel which was preached. Unconditional election is “all” of God and so is the faith which comes from the Word of God. The delivery system for grace is faith which comes from God by the way.

Christ Jesus marveled at the unbelief of the House of Israel. He told some of them that they would die in their sins but this was not to God’s delight as some believe. Jesus Christ, The Eternal Word, Himself many of them thrust Him away to their own doom. Listen, they did not perish without the Word!

In Acts 26 Christ told Paul He would make him a minister, to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God, (repentance) that they may receive forgiveness of sins an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by “faith” in Me. In verse 20, this was Paul’s message to Jew and Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds appropriate to repentance. Those who perish on this side of the flood do so, just as those Antediluvian did. They refused to repent and obey the gospel, perishing without any excuse on God’s behalf and having no excuse they did not obey the Gospel.

The rich man in Luke 16 died, lifted up his eyes in Hades in torments. His agonizing request to Abraham for “finger-water” was denied without mercy. So now he remembers his father’s house, where (5) of his brothers, as far as he was concerned, were on their way headlong to the same deserving conclusion. We find in Abraham’s remarks that the method of salvation involves the Word of God but we also find out why the rich man was in Hades and his brothers on the way (repentance) . The rich man knew he deserved his lot simply because he refused to repent of sin. Prior to his death none of his brothers had come to genuine repentance and faith in God.

Listen, Those who perished in the flood in Genesis did so by rejecting the gospel preached by Noah. They were not marked out in eternity, or left out by decree. The reason I know is they heard the Noah’s preaching for 120 years. Now did it take 120 years for the preacher of righteousness to win his own house? Why, preach to those “above” the eight souls who were marked out in eternity to perish in the flood. Why was God’s heart grieved? Listen, it is the goodness of God that leads to true repentance. When the gospel is preached, the kindness of God is unleashed

PreachBlackManPreach

The problem with liberalism is “liberal” and the problem with Calvinism is “Calvin”. Some have made this theological system that was based around the labor of one man and those who followed him the “sum total” of apostolic soteriology and it falls short. Take for instance “total depravity” which is next door to unconditional election. Since by one man, Adam, sin entered into the world and death by sin. We can sum up dead in “sins and in trespasses” in Adam in one alphabet “I”. Not the Lord but “I”. Adam came down with a serious case of the “I” trouble unto physical death and introduced “I” trouble to all of his kind. Listen, from the brief narrative in Genesis after Adam sin, he still knew the Lord, recognized His voice. Yes, he was dead in sins and trespasses but not without the knowledge of the Lord of Glory. I agree, if left to himself he would face eternity without hope but God didn’t leave him alone. In another connection God said “it is not good for the man to be alone” and I concur especially now since he had rebelled against the Lord God. The Lord God came in search of him, called him by name and refused to leave him alone, refused to leave him naked in sin.

In another place it is written, for when the Gentiles which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves; which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscious also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another. From God’s view point election is unconditional, all of the conditions were met in eternity and made manifest here on earth in our blessed Saviour, Lord Jesus Christ but made a reality by one condition on our end, “For by grace are ye saved through faith”.

It would be interesting to have the Apostle Paul’s take on Calvinism. I believe we do, since he is the apostle to the Gentiles.

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