Why Can’t We All Just Get Along?

April 24, 2015

Dr. Donald S. Fox | President
Clear Creek Baptist Bible College, Pineville, KY

*For more information about Dr. Fox or Clear Creek click HERE

Our inability as humans to get along with each other on the issue of Calvinism, no matter what one believes, is apparent. Although, God’s Word does point out to us that we should be able to get along with each other no matter what one may believe about this issue:

“If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men” (Rom. 12:18; NASB).

The Bible specifically tells us that, as Christians, we should seek to maintain peaceful relationships with everybody, Christians and non-Christians alike. While harmony with others may not always be achievable, the charge is to make sure that, as believers, we are not responsible for the lack of peace.

Related to this issue of Calvinism, we can see this charge applying to believers who are on both sides of the issue. Therefore, the question, “Why can’t we all just get along?” is a vitally important one that needs to be answered because God’s Word says everything that comes from us as believers is to focus on peace with each other.

As President of Clear Creek Baptist Bible College, I feel a responsibility to answer this question as a result of personal experiences I have encountered related to this institution; in turn, the answer will let our constituencies know where this institution stands on the issue of Calvinism.

Why We Can’t Get Along
I still remember vividly the first time I walked into the meeting place at a Baptist state convention years ago. I had only been serving at Clear Creek for a short time, but my encounter this day would only be the beginning of having to deal with the issue of Calvinism whenever I was on the road traveling and representing Clear Creek. Before I could even get my Char Creek display set up, I was approached by someone who wanted to know why Clear Creek had “gone liberal,” in his words. After asking him to explain his question to me, I began to realize the lines that were beginning to be drawn in the Calvinism issue.

At the time, we were in the process of dealing with the issue of Calvinism being promoted on our campus by a few people. It became apparent to me that this person had been talking to some of these people who were upset because the college was not sympathetic to their views on Calvinism. In turn, these people on campus were now “labeling” the college as “going liberal” because, in their mind, Calvinism is the only true theology and anyone outside a Calvinistic theology is a “liberal.”

I also recall an instance when I walked into a church to visit an alumnus who was pastor. The first question he asked me was, “Why is the college teaching open theism now?” I asked him to explain his question; and as he did, I began to realize another “label” that had become prevalent in the Calvinism issue related to Clear Creek.

The same people who were labeling Clear Creek as “liberal” were now labeling us as teaching open theism. In their mind, since we weren’t teaching Calvinism, we were teaching that God doesn’t know everything, God is not sovereign, and thus God changes His mind. So, we were now teaching open theism according to these people.

So, why can’t we just get along? Well, from my personal experience as shown here, there is one major reason: The Calvinists that I continually encounter want to automatically place a “label” on anyone who does not agree with their theology. To be “labeled” a liberal or an open theist just because we do not hold to a Calvinistic theology is just simply wrong. The mindset that I constantly encounter in the Calvinistic arena is the thought that they are the only ones who really have a handle on the “truth,” and the only way I can have it is to agree with their theology. I see this as a dangerous mindset that leads to elitism.

How We Can Get Along
The new buzzword being mentioned these days is “compatibilist” and “bridge builder.” We all need to just get along. Well, these are good words, and I do agree that those on both sides of this issue do need to get along with each other. How can we do this?

Quit targeting students on campus as potential “converts” to Calvinism.
I recall a recent conversation with a faculty member who told me of a student who came to his office in tears because he had been verbally attacked by a Calvinist student because of his non-Calvinistic theology. Non-Calvinists and Calvinists both need to realize that our campus is not a recruiting ground to convert other students to their theological mindset.

Quit initiating the argument.
No matter which side of this issue you are on, both sides need to just quit initiating the argument. In all of my experiences, the argument has been initiated by those from the Calvinist side who are simply trying to “convert” someone to their theological mindset. Non-Calvinists want to be bridge builders and compatibilists. We will be bridge builders and compatibilists if Calvinists will let us.

Quit operating in “systems.”
Calvinists must quit thinking that someone is not operating with the truth if they do not plug-in to a five point system of theology. Just because someone does not buy in to the five point Calvinistic theology does not mean they are automatically an Armenian either. Calvinists need to realize that some people would rather be known as “Biblicists” instead of having their name attached to someone else’s theology.

Quit thinking that all people have a problem reconciling the sovereignty of God and the free will of man.
The reality is that there are some people, myself included, who have no problem reconciling the sovereignty of God and free will of man. We know God is sovereign and He knows all things. He would not be God if He didn’t know everything. But we also realize that His foreknowledge of everything does not limit our free will to choose or reject His free gift of salvation. The statement that I was taught from my theology professor, Dr. Jack Robertson, while I was at Clear Creek years ago settled the matter for me: “God’s foreknowledge is not causative.” While God does know my choices before I ever make them, His foreknowledge of that choice I am going to make does not cause me to actually make that choice.

Where Do We Go From Here?
We must seek to live out Romans 12:18 as best we can; committed to the authority of God’s Word that commands us to do our best as individuals to be at peace with all people:

“If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men” (Rom. 12:18; NASB);

But we must also realize that the issue of peace is not totally dependent on non-Calvinists. There has to be an effort from both sides to get along. When we come to the point where we know that we are doing our best to build bridges and be compatible with those who hold to a Calvinistic theology, but they, in turn, are not, then we will take our stand on this issue as stated.

 

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Les Prouty

Of course the bible verse from Romans is a good start to getting along better. What is interesting are the answers Dr. Fox provides to his question, “So, why can’t we just get along?” His answers are:

1. Calvinists automatically label anyone who disagrees with them.

2. Calvinists target students to convert them to Calvinism.

3. Calvinists initiate the argument.

4. Calvinists operate in “systems.”

5. Calvinists have a problem…think all people have a problem reconciling the sovereignty of God and the free will of man.

So according to this post, the problem is the Calvinists. Only the Calvinists. Maybe there is a part 2 forthcoming listing all the things that non Calvinists need to “quit” doing. We’ll see.

    Kyle Gulledge

    Good morning Les,

    There is no part two coming. Sorry. I think maybe you missed a very important part of Dr. Fox’s article. He said: “As President of Clear Creek Baptist Bible College, I feel a responsibility to answer this question as a result of personal experiences I have encountered related to this institution; in turn, the answer will let our constituencies know where this institution stands on the issue of Calvinism.” This article was written specifically to the problems at Clear Creek. I am always being told that Calvinism is not a problem in our schools or churches–well here is a President that is saying otherwise. As an alumni of this institution I also have first-hand experience with trying to be “converted” to Calvinism. I was also diminished by those converters as being semi-pelagian, ignorant (as in not able to understand scripture). I appreciate your readership Les, but just wanted to clarify why Dr. Fox wrote this particular article. Have a blessed day.

    Les Prouty

    Thanks Jonathan. I have no doubt that the things mentioned have happened by some Calvinists who have wrongly applied their faith in interactions with others.

    I realize that it apparently was not Dr. Fox’s intention to call out among non Calvinists at his institution or on this blog or anywhere else any instances of wrongly applying their faith in interactions with others related to Calvinism. But in the spirit of the Roman passage cited it would sure be appealing for someone from among you non Calvinists to make such an appeal publicly here citing specific instances and decrying such. As Dr. Fox said, “There has to be an effort from both sides to get along.” We Calvinists can only hope.

    God bless brother.

Rick Patrick

Dr. Fox,

What a beautifully statesmanlike admonition for peace among fellow Christians who happen to disagree. From my own personal experience, I would add one additional moniker to the common labels used by some Calvinists to dismiss the views of others. We might add to the charges of “open theism” and “liberalism” the description “semipelagian.”

I think Calvinists struggle with finding a respectable word to call us. They will resist “Biblicist” since they too claim to hold the biblical view. They seem to prefer Anti-Calvinist or Non-Calvinist, which sadly identifies us only in relation to them. They will sometimes try to use “Modified” Calvinist or Arminian, but these partial terms are not precise enough, and most of us disaffirm both. Traditionalist is not bad, although it must be clearly defined as stemming from the Herschel Hobbs-Adrian Rogers “tradition” in Southern Baptist life. Another option is the term “extensivist” coined by Ronnie Rogers.

I truly believe that much of the pejorative name calling would cease if both sides would simply settle on an acceptable, positive, respectable term for our view–one that is neither drawn from existing labels carrying unwanted baggage, nor structured merely as some kind of term of negation.

Thank you for calling us to rise above this kind of name calling and to live in peace with one another.

    Bill Mac

    Rick: You have got to be kidding me. You really think this post is a positive step towards “getting along”? How can you with a straight face call this “statesmanlike”? I understand this man is on your side of the soteriology fence and you are trying to get a movement going but c’mon. This is an anti-Calvinist hit-piece meant to play to the traditionalist base. Given the nature of this site, that’s not really a problem. He hasn’t said anything that hasn’t been said here every day for years. But to couch it in disingenuous unity language is ridiculous.

    I found this quote to be simply incredible:

    But we must also realize that the issue of peace is not totally dependent on non-Calvinists.

    I should say not, since the author placed the onus of getting along entirely on the shoulders of Calvinists.

    Is there a single “traditionalist” that will step up and call this piece what it really is? I hope so but I doubt it.

      Kyle Gulledge

      Good morning Bill,

      I think maybe you missed a very important part of Dr. Fox’s article. He said: “As President of Clear Creek Baptist Bible College, I feel a responsibility to answer this question as a result of personal experiences I have encountered related to this institution; in turn, the answer will let our constituencies know where this institution stands on the issue of Calvinism.” This article was written specifically to the problems at Clear Creek. Check out my response to Les above please. Have a blessed day!

        Bill Mac

        Jonathan: Thanks for the response. Honestly, if Dr. Fox had titled this piece Calvinists Can Be Jerks I would have reacted less strongly. I think the title is misleading. I think the intro is a tad misleading because Dr. Fox talks about how the bible encourages all believers to live peaceably with each other and then goes on to place the entire blame on Calvinists. This is not, as Rick implies, and admonition to fellow believers who disagree, it is pointedly an admonition only to Calvinists. Calvinists certainly are not above admonishment but the door swings both ways.

      Rick Patrick

      Bill Mac,

      My face is only as straight as it usually is. Dr. Fox has challenged both sides to demonstrate unity and love. That is indeed statesmanlike. I believe he is genuinely seeking peace here. But peacemaking does not mean that we must “meet in the middle” and act as if both sides are equally in the wrong in all matters. It means we must accurately describe the situation taking place, from our perspective, and propose a reasonable solution.

      The onus of the name-calling issue is indeed a Calvinist phenomenon and not a Traditionalist one, quite simply because Calvinists, to my knowledge, are pretty much willing to wear the label “Calvinist.” If you prefer to be called by a different term, just tell us what it is. I don’t believe Traditionalists are largely calling Calvinists by any name other than “Calvinist.” But the same cannot be said of the names like “semipelagian” and “open theist” and others that Calvinists frequently use to label Traditionalists.

      I really do believe that Dr. Fox’s heart is in the right place and he wants to see peace among brothers.

        Bill Mac

        Rick: It isn’t quite as simple as you make it sound. Some Calvinists are certainly willing to wear the label. Others are not, for legitimate reasons, and are accused of deception. We’ve seen it here at this very site. See my response to David below. Calvinists have been accused of terrible things, on this very site.

        Something else to think about. You claim you want your movement to be known for being more than simply non-Calvinist. You claim you don’t want to be identified by what you are not. I think that’s reasonable, but I don’t think that’s how it is playing out. If SBCToday is the online voice of SBC traditionalism, then that’s certainly not how it is playing out, because nearly every doctrinal post on this site is about refuting Calvinism. Nearly every post isn’t about why traditional doctrine is right, it is about why Calvinist doctrine is wrong. I don’t have problem in the world with posts refuting Calvinism, but it certainly is not consistent with what you claim your movement is all about. And then come the comments, about how Calvinists are stupid (just a few posts ago), are like Islamists, etc. You end up not promoting Traditionalism, but opposing Calvinism, and then it devolves into bashing Calvinists. This happens alot on the other side too. They have no excuse but neither do traditionalists.

        You know what I would like to see? A series of posts about the main doctrines of traditionalism, their doctrinal foundation, and not a word about Calvinism. I’m not saying this sarcastically, as if the TS doesn’t have biblical merit. I would truly like to see it. You have any number of people who could do it.

          Rick Patrick

          Bill Mac,

          Your wish is our command. You can find the ten journal articles promoting each of the ten tenets of Traditionalism in these two journals. We have featured them before on our site. As we promote our views, we necessarily will clash with Calvinism, and vice versa. We understand that as Calvinists promote what they believe, they necessarily attack what we believe. The issue, I think, is not the disagreement, but the labels. Anyway, here is the very positive treatment of Traditionalism you requested:
          http://baptistcenter.net/journals/JBTM_9-2_Fall_2012.pdf
          http://baptistcenter.net/journals/JBTM_10-1_Spring_2013.pdf

            Bill Mac

            Well, they aren’t quite what I wished for.
            “we necessarily will clash with Calvinism”
            Why? Why is it necessary to contrast your views to Calvinism? Do they not stand alone? Can you not say “God has the same salvific love for everyone” without saying “unlike what Calvinism teaches”?

              Lydia

              “Why? Why is it necessary to contrast your views to Calvinism? Do they not stand alone? Can you not say “God has the same salvific love for everyone” without saying “unlike what Calvinism teaches”?”

              that is not the real problem. The real problem is vast gap between human responsibility and ABILITY and their view of Sovereignty and human inability. That is where it becomes a real problem in application. I want my kids to be around believers who focus on our responsibility and abilility. I want my kids to know that they have the ability to govern themselves and God is pleased when they strive to become more Holy as they mature. So what happens when the Youth pastor is teaching my kids they don’t have ability and repsonsibility? That is not something I can live with. Others can. I get that. But why would I help pay a guy to teach my kids something I totally disagree with that I consider an important distinction?

              If there is one thing I have learned from the YRR insurgence is that it is really hard to deprogram from initially learning about God as a determinist. It is much easier to go from free will to determinism because it is a system. You simply accept the system even if you don’t understand it because mystery is a big selling point. And who are you to question how God does anything? (Not questioning God but questioning their interpretations!)

              Les Prouty

              But Lydia, the scriptures don’t tell you and your kids to govern themselves. “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?” Your and their responsibility is submission to the Spirit’s government, not self government.

                Lydia

                “Your and their responsibility is submission to the Spirit’s government, not self government.”

                When we are saved and seeking the Holy Spirit as our guide, I don’t see any difference. I am not a dualist so would not see it the way you do. And no, I am not going to debate you on your crafty redefinitions and concepts. :o)

                Les Prouty

                “When we are saved and seeking the Holy Spirit as our guide, I don’t see any difference.”

                I agre. We agree! :)

                “I am not a dualist so would not see it the way you do.”

                We sort of agree. I’m not a dualist either so we agree on that. But I disagree we don’t see this the same. We do! :)

                And one more agreement. I don’t want to “debate you on your crafty redefinitions and concepts” either. :)

                Mark the date.

              Rick Patrick

              Hi Bill,

              Brother, what I mean by “clash” is simply this, that the positions themselves are diametrically opposed. On the second Saturday in October, I always root FOR the Longhorns. I’m not so much AGAINST the Sooners. But what I want (victory) is the opposite of what they want for me (defeat). The positions themselves are in conflict. They clash. It’s not personal.

              By the way, the Calvinists do the same thing when they speak of the church where they were raised and the preacher had an invitation and sang 45 verses of “Just As I Am.” For what it’s worth, I do think both sides are FOR their own view, but it will always come across to the other side as, “they’re just a bunch of haters.” I’m not saying it *should* just that it always gets interpreted that way.

              To be clear, the *clash* is between viewpoints, not people.

          Scott Shaver

          I gave up (lost) dogs in this fight 15 years ago and have no interest in reentering, but Bill Mac has completely missed the point in his stalwart defense of “Calvinism” as it pertains to the goals of SBC “traditionalists” and other baptists with labels, especially 3:16Connect.

          THE SOUTHERN BAPTIST HISTORICAL TRAJECTORY HAS ALWAYS BEEN AWAY FROM RATHER THAN TOWARD STRICT CALVINISM.

          And a great number of Southern Baptists would like to see the history and theological distinctives which serve to identify “Southern Baptists” preserved.

          Your obvious angst over the nature of discussion here would be the same thing I would expect from Les Prouty if I attacked the theology and ecclesiastical structure of the Presbyterian church. IMO, Les Prouty’s comments are irrelevant to a conversation among Baptists about being Baptist.

          Sounds to me like you’re a tad more partial to the constructs of “Calvinism” and its wholesale defense than you are the exercised rights of Southern Baptists to talk among themselves about themselves.

          It’s not about the “rightness” or “wrongness” of Calvinism at this point nor in the future….that “rightness” or “wrongness” will be ultimately decided on an individual basis by Christian folks who interact with Scripture and The Holy Spirit.

          You can disagree with their goals and motives as Baptists but you can’t say that “Traditionalists” or any other label of Baptist within the SBC has declared open war on Calvinism…..we’ve been moving away from High Calvinism since even prior to our inception brother.

          Perhaps as a Southern Baptist I should challenge neo-calvinism the same way Les Prouty challenges the anti-calvinist grievances of Southern Baptists who would like to continue being Southern Baptist….by going to Presbyterian websites and blogs and displaying my vast comprehension of both Southern Baptist and Presbyterian theology, soteriology, ecclesiology etc.

          NOT!

            Les Prouty

            Scott,

            Couple of things just as an FYI. “Les Prouty’s comments are irrelevant to a conversation among Baptists about being Baptist.”

            Well they may be irrelevant to you and perhaps everyone else here. But I actually do have several dogs in the hunt. My mother is a SB, all on my wife’s side of the family are SB members. In addition, my ministry in Haiti thankfully has several SB partners in our work there. So how the SBC goes is important to me. I might add that I am an ordained Southern Baptist minister. :)

            “by going to Presbyterian websites and blogs and displaying my vast comprehension of both Southern Baptist and Presbyterian theology, soteriology, ecclesiology etc.”

            Come on over. But the discussions won’t be on Calvinism. That’s a settled issue. But Federal Vision, creation and justification would be fun.

            :)

              Scott Shaver

              “But the discussions won’t be on Calvinism. That’s a settled issue.”

              I rest my case.

              Les Prouty

              Scott not sure what “case” you were making then. But I would dearly love to see you display your “vast comprehension of…Presbyterian theology, soteriology, ecclesiology etc.”

              :)

              Scott Shaver

              Missed both the salient point as well as my sarcasm did you Les?

              Oh well……never mind.

              Les Prouty

              Yep Scott. Guess I did. I’m sure it’s just my “inability.” :)

          Lydia

          Nearly every post isn’t about why traditional doctrine is right, it is about why Calvinist doctrine is wrong.”

          Bill, The Trad statement thread has over 1000 comments with mostly Calvinistists ripping it apart. One of the most zealous pastors arguing its heresy is now an atheist. For a while after that there was article after article defending various stances within the Trad statement from various scholars within the SBC albeit not as well known as Grudem, Piper or Mohler. . Did you miss all that?

            Robert

            Lydia,
            You speak of:

            “One of the most zealous pastors arguing its heresy is now an atheist.”

            Who are you referring to here?

              Lydia

              “Who are you referring to here?”

              Chris Roberts who announced his atheism on Voices not long ago. I want to treat him with the utmost respect and dignity, though. He did announce it publicly so I think it is ok to mention it here.

              Rick Patrick

              I think she is referring to Chris Roberts, the author of the “Unity Resolution” at the convention that year. We should pray for Chris. He is out of the ministry and considers himself an atheist, as I understand it.

            Bill Mac

            Lydia: Calvinists can be jerks. They shouldn’t be. Neither should non-Calvinists. The way the TS is playing out, it is portraying itself as the opposite side of the Calvinist coin, despite their stated intentions to doing the opposite. They are welcome to do so, but for a group that says they don’t want to be known as non-Calvinists, all they seem to want to talk about is Calvinism.

              Lydia

              ” Calvinists can be jerks. They shouldn’t be. Neither should non-Calvinists. The way the TS is playing out, it is portraying itself as the opposite side of the Calvinist coin, despite their stated intentions to doing the opposite. They are welcome to do so, but for a group that says they don’t want to be known as non-Calvinists, all they seem to want to talk about is Calvinism.”

              Then why read here if you think the writers are hypocrites? I don’t get it? Will you only be satisfied when Trads say they are as bad or worse than the YRR movement was for 10 years? At least give them 10 years to discuss Calvinism or their experiences with the YRR movement. :o)

              I do understand it makes people uncomfortable.

              What you might not be prepared for is that people are still dealing with their experiences with that movement and how it affected their lives and their church. I expect we will be hearing about those things for at least 10 years.

              Since you brought up “intentions”, perhaps you could outline the intention of the YRR movement out of SBTS for us? Was it to spread the “true Gospel” that the SBC had lost?

                Bill Mac

                Since you brought up “intentions”, perhaps you could outline the intention of the YRR movement out of SBTS for us? Was it to spread the “true Gospel” that the SBC had lost?

                I have no idea. I have no ties or interest in SBTS and no fondness (or animosity) for Mohler. I will say this: I think traditionalists bear some of the responsibility for Mohler’s power. Mohler is a culture warrior and traditionalists (seem to) love the culture war. I believe they ignored his Calvinism in favor of his culture warrior status.

                  Lydia

                  “I think traditionalists bear some of the responsibility for Mohler’s power. Mohler is a culture warrior and traditionalists (seem to) love the culture war. I believe they ignored his Calvinism in favor of his culture warrior status.”

                  yes, the YRR movement is the fault of the Trads. (???)

                  But I do agree with you in many ways. Mohler is on the radio every morning here still culture warring. But it makes no sense to me that he would expect the “non elect” to have the ability to do anything else than what he thinks is wrong in the culture. Of course, the so called Reformed elect are/have been doing some pretty bad stuff, too, that he conveniently ignores. I think there is a special pass if you are TGC or T4G or something.

                  But I am noticing you seem to focus on everyone but Calvinists for the state of things in the SBC today. Is it because they are totally depraved and cannot help it? And us free will people are to be the responsible ones…as usual ….since we have no excuse like inability or post salvic wicked hearts to blame it on? :o)

                  It is always the practical application of Calvinism that becomes a problem.

                    Bill Mac

                    Mohler is not the only one who errs in the culture war. It seems to me that the whole point of the culture war is to expect non-Christians to act like Christians.

                    You keep throwing Mohler’s transgressions at me, but they don’t stick. I have no association with Mohler. I have no interest in defending Mohler for anything.

                    But I am noticing you seem to focus on everyone but Calvinists for the state of things in the SBC today.

                    Of course this is demonstrably untrue, even in this very thread. I’m only suggesting that it is not only the Calvinists who are responsible for the state of things in the SBC, as the author of this post implies. Yes, I know, they started it.

                  Max

                  “I believe they ignored his Calvinism …”

                  That is increasingly clear. The “conservatives” in the Conservative Resurgence enlisted Dr. Mohler to carry the battle to Southern seminary … to rout those awful liberals and moderates. When they put the young Dr. Mohler on the pendulum of change, I don’t think the CR leaders expected him to swing it all the way back to the 16th century! Thus, the traditionalists do indeed share the responsibility of turning Albert loose in the SBC and leaving him largely unchallenged as he championed the New Calvinist movement within SBC ranks. In the meantime, Calvinization of the denomination has been largely accomplished at the leadership level in most SBC entities. The scuffle has just now filtered down to the grassroots majority of non-Calvinists, but the multitudes don’t appear to give a big whoop in the general apathy of this age … perfect timing to move Calvinism forward in the largest non-Calvinist denomination in the country.

        Jon Estes

        Rick – Is it possible or maybe most likely that when non Calvinists use the label Calvinist towards others there are a lot of sub labels which go with that label which have been thrown about over the past, how ever long?

        I think the article is fine as it is from one man’s perspective of a few events he encountered. I think an article could be written by a Calvinist who found himself in a similar but theologically polar confrontation.

        Each side of the argument is grounded in what they determine to be the truth and really have little want to deal positively with the other.

        Why can’t we all just get along? Easy answer… Because those asking the question don’t want to.

        What would a non Calvinist tell a Calvinist that to get along they must…

        What would a Calvinist tell a non Calvinist that to get along they must…

        If the comments above were filled in, I believe no one would move and things would remain as they are.

        Lastly (since you brought it up)… What do you see as a reasonable solution?

          Rick Patrick

          Jon,

          My reasonable solution for the theological conflict is that everyone respect everyone else’s difference of opinion, refuse to call those who disagree with you by pejorative names they disaffirm, and move ahead serving the Lord. We are not likely to convince many people from the other side to change their opinion, but occasionally, a few will change their minds.

          My larger concern is to find a reasonable solution for the denominational conflict, whereby the minority view (in my opinion) of Calvinism is held by those who have been granted majority status in the SBC–entity heads, new literature launches, missionary initiatives, conference speakers, etc. This leaves Traditional Baptists paying the bills for the Calvinization of our own denomination, a situation I believe is unstable, and one with which I believe the majority of Southern Baptists are simply unfamiliar. The solution is to tell the people in the pews that this is happening, and invite them to show up and vote for the convention to restore balance in our theology, methodology, leadership, literature and other denominational initiatives. If we do not wish to be Calvinized as a convention, we need to say so.

            Jon Estes

            Rick –

            Thank you for your thoughtful reply.

            It is likely that the people in the pew have no clue as to what Calvinism is or a skewed idea not founded on thoughts from a Calvinist but someone who does not agree with them.

            I have a personal example of such. Prior to moving where I presently serve, I was in an established SBC NC church. My visitation partner (we used the FAITH SUNDAY SCHOOL EVANGELISM method) were seeing God do that which only God can do and souls were being saved and people were joining the church.

            My partner (a friend still today) had a conversation with the pastor who led him to the Lord about Calvinism and was told that Calvinist were not evangelistic. He shared this with me (not knowing I was a Calvinist) and when he found out I was, he did not understand why I shared the gospel with anyone. After a long talk and some explaining, he came to see that there is a wrong view of Calvinists (at least this one) and began focusing on the winning of souls rather than the debates of men.

            Back to my point… A mere vote to close the gap of Calvinists running the show is to make sure those voting really know both sides of the debate, not just what some non Calvinist pastor wants them to know.

      Scott Shaver

      Can’t help you there Bill Mac: Due to my views on the CR I would fall under the category of “moderate” where disintegrating baptist labels are concerned.

      The article was short, sweet, precise and to the point. Well done address of a “Southern Baptist” problem. Same problem we’ve dealt with before in Southern Baptist history.

    andy

    Rick, You’re not going to like this, but I just agreed with you on the Pastor’s Conference Topic, so perhaps I have some chips to play. :-)

    I have continued to believe for the last 4 years, that given the historical definitions, the term “ARMINIAN” is the “acceptable, posititive, respectable” term you are looking for. Hear me out!

    Classical Arminianism’s defined limits are NEARLY identical with those of traditionalists. This has become even more apparent to me over the last month or two as articles and debates on this site revealed the difficulty in nailing down the nuances of various traditionalist views regarding the fall, and whether the “grace” needed for salvation can be described as “prevenient” or not. That is the ONLY reason why a classical Arminian might not sign the traditional statement. Eternal Security is not a demarcation. Arminians disagree on that issue. I believe that the term “traditionalist”unnecessarily complicated the conversation…When a much easier, and historically accurate thing to say is simply: “We are not calvinists, our beliefs are very similar to those of Arminians, with a few variations.” Southern Baptists have not like the term Arminian because of some negative baggage, but that is unfortunate that they would not want to be associated with me like John Wesley, CS Lewis. AW Tozer, Roger Olson, & Dr. Michael Brown, and others. Please understand that when I say someone is an Arminian, I do not mean it as a slight to your position.

    Why is this fair to say? Because on the other side, many Baptists are and have been willing to call themselves Calvinists who disagree with points of Classical Calvinism. 4-pointers, 3-pointers, many of them do not get offended when called a Calvinist, if they are allowed to explain where they differ. Of course some of those would NOT want to be called calvinists, but such 3-4 point “Calvinists” have been labeled as such by traditionalists, some of whom would even cry foul if such a person did NOT identify themselves as a calvinist before a church pulpit committee.

    Historically for the last 400 years or so, the Calvinism – Arminian spectrum has served to help people identify where they fall on the issue of soteriology. Some agree with more points of one than the other. There is no denying that Traditionalists agree more with Arminians than with Calvinists. Now of course before Calvin and Arminius, these labels did not exist, and I don’t have the historical knowledge to know what terms they used. Perhaps they did not have labels to identify groups of people on either side…and perhaps that is a noble goal…but if we must have labels…Calvinist & Arminian seem to be as good as any, provided we allow for “Calvinists” who deny limited atonement, and “Arminians” who believe in Eternal Security.

    (I told you that you wouldn’t like it…but you read it anyway didn’t you…)

    -Andy

      Rick Patrick

      Andy,

      Thanks. Roger Olsen would call us Arminians too, so you have company. Personally, I think our view of Depravity Without Inability and our Non-negotiable Perseverance position rescues us from Arminianism. (And yes, I read it.) Thanks for commenting.

        phillip

        Brother Rick,

        With all due respect, we established the fact back in February that the authors of the TS are indeed “Arminian” in regards to TD/TI. You can’t say you reject TI and yet embrace PG. PG is the solution for TI.

        Now some Traditionalists might disagree with the Arminian in regards to HOW this PG works, but both insist that PG is necessary to overcome man’s total inability.

        We just need to accept the fact that the authors of the TS are more Arminian than we care to admit and move on.

        God bless.

          Rick Patrick

          Sorry. I think there is still a distinction between the Arminian and the Traditionalist regarding the T. But the larger difference is the P. For the Arminian, it is a negotiable view. For the Traditionalist, it is non-negotiable. We believe in the Perseverance of the Savior–with no wiggle room at all. That alone is enough to differentiate ourselves from Arminianism.

          We just need Arminians to accept the fact that the authors of the TS reject the label Arminian and move on.

            phillip

            Rick,

            The authors of the TS might reject the label, but they certainly accept the teaching (PG needed to resolve the issue of TI).

            As for as the “P”, that might be true. But since the TS is so ambiguous, who knows? We’d probably need further clarification on that as well.

            If there is any distinction, we now know it rests solely with the “P”.

            Blessings, brother.

              Volfan007

              Phillip, we reject the whole Augustinian, philosophical approach to the Bible, whatsoever. Thus, we are neither Armimnian or Calvinist.

                phillip

                David,

                You said… “We reject the whole Augustinian, philosophical approach to the Bible…”

                PG defined:
                “Prevenient grace is a Christian theological concept rooted in Arminian theology, though it appeared earlier in Catholic theology. It is divine grace that precedes human decision. It exists prior to and without reference to anything humans may have done. As humans are corrupted by the effects of sin, prevenient grace allows persons to engage their God-given free will to choose the salvation offered by God in Jesus Christ or to reject that salvific offer. Prevenient grace is embraced primarily by Arminian Christians who are influenced by the theology of Jacob Arminius or John Wesley. Whereas Augustine held that prevenient grace cannot be resisted, Wesleyan Arminians believe that it enables, but does not ensure, personal acceptance of the gift of salvation.”

                When you say “whole” do you mean “as a whole” or do you mean “completely”?

                Now remember back in February, brother Rick’s research showed/confirmed that PG, though omitted, is at the core of the TS.

                God bless, brother.

                  Volfan007

                  Phillip,

                  I believe what the Bible teaches. The Holy Spirit convicts and calls people according to the light they have….and, people must respond and choose to be saved or not. I do not believe in total inability.

                  Rick Patrick

                  Phillip,

                  I think you are reading what you want into our prevenient grace discussion. As I recall, we left it more or less like this: “The Traditional Statement does not mention prevenient grace at all. The statement is “consistent with” prevenient grace, but does not require adherence to it.

                  This is not to say that man takes the first step. We clearly embrace the priority of God’s grace in revealing Himself through the gospel. Man responds to God, and is free to do so, because God has given man, made in His image, a certain “response ability.”

                  I really do believe a lot of Traditionalists would affirm Total Depravity (nothing good in me) but reject Total Inability (I cannot freely respond unless God performs a pre-gospel work in my heart).

                  I recall using Ronnie Rogers’ term “enabling grace” and also pointing out that certain grace is given through the proclamation of the gospel as God’s Holy Spirit works. But I don’t think the issue of TI is as settled or central to the Trad Statement as you seem to suggest.

                    phillip

                    Rick,

                    Thanks for the response.

                    You said…. “I really do believe a lot of Traditionalists would affirm Total Depravity (nothing good in me) but reject Total Inability (I cannot freely respond unless God performs a pre-gospel work in my heart).”

                    Again, I understand your stance on TD/TI and share it. But I am not so sure the authors of the TS would agree. If you recall there were other observers following along the discussion and they were picking up on the inconsistency as well. So it wasn’t just me.

                    Adherents to PG believe it “overcomes” man’s inability and that was certainly part of the discussion. For them, PG brings man to a point where he “can” freely respond to the gospel (an Arminian belief). If you and I are on the same page we believe man has always been at that point (man never lost his response-ability). However, when I pointed out that the goal of PG is to bring man back to a pre-fall, pre-lost state what did I get?

                    Silence.

                    Look, its obvious the TS was written with the views of Calvinist Baptists, Traditional Baptists and Arminian Baptists (yes…there are Arminian Baptists among us). And that is precisely why the TS is so ambiguous.

                    Rick, I appreciate your time and enjoy your articles. Perhaps we can rehash all this again when the topic is about TD/TI or PG
                    .
                    Until then, God bless you and your ministry, brother.

        Robert

        Rick,

        Why do you feel that you need to be **rescued** from Arminianism? You hold the same beliefs as A’s do on rejecting unconditional election and reprobation, you hold the same beliefs on unlimited atonement and the denial of irresistable grace, the reality of free will as ordinarily understood, that faith precedes regeneration. Regarding perseverance, asssume all A’s believe that you can lose your salvation (you need only specify disagreement with them on this: in fact as you know some A’s especially those who are baptists do not believe you can lose your salvation). Regarding depravity this also arose out of concern for Pelagius’ false belief that we are basically good and can initiate our own salvation. Depravity says that sin has effected every aspect of human persons: you agree with that. You disagree with C’s that depravity can only be overcome with regeneration. A’s argue for prevenient grace out of their concern that a person can intiate their own salvation and come to Christ on their own. Regarding inability, the verse that seems to strongly argue for this is John 6:44 (and I am no calvinist). That verse says that unless a person is drawn they cannot come to Christ. That implies some sort of inability. I believe this inability is easy to explain. we cannot come to Christ unless we experience the preconversion work of the Spirit (including his convicting us of our sin, revealing Christ to us, etc.). I believe the drawing is a synonym for the preconversion work of the Spirit. Contrary to the calvinist, the bible does not teach that only the elect are drawn (cf. Jn. 12:32 where Jesus says all will be drawn) nor that this drawing cannot be resisted. I am very uncomforatble when I hear people deny inability. I believe they are concerned that if they affirm inability then they are espousing calvinist doctrine. But this is not true in light of Jn. 6:44 and the preconversion work of the Spirit that is necessary for a person to have faith but also can be resisted. Lastly regarding prevenient grace, this simply means a grace that goes before salvation. What if the preconversion work of the Spirit is viewed as PG? Then you would be affirming inability (i.e. a person cannot come to faith without the preconversion work of the Spirit) but not calvinism and its mistakes that depravity demands regeneration preceding faith or that a nonbeliever is viewed as a physically dead corpse that cannot do anything. I believe you want to distance yourself from both Arminian error (denial of perseverance) and calvinist error (regeneration precedes faith, inability unless regenerated first, etc.). Alot depends on how you define terms. I don’t think you are as far from Arminian beliefs as you may think. I also understand why you would want to distance yourself from some Arminian beliefs (primarily the denial of perseverance: as Baptists we believe you cannot lose your salvationi if you are genuinely saved).

          Lydia

          “Regarding depravity this also arose out of concern for Pelagius’ false belief that we are basically good and can initiate our own salvation”

          Just curious…how do you know Pelagius believed this? His writings were destroyed and all we have are his rabid detractors word for what he believed and they were so far from human “ability” it makes me wonder if he might be getting a bad rap historically?

          (Someone recently pointed me to a commentary he did on Romans which was fairly recently translated. I have not read it and not sure of its provenance.)

            Robert

            Hello Lydia,

            “How do you know Pelagius believed this?”

            Great question Lydia. I grant my view may be considered an opinion. Here is what is it based upon so you can consider for yourself its validity. First we definitely have one side of the “phone conversation” (i.e. Augustine’s response to Pelagius: I view it as like hearing one person on the phone, often from what person is saying you know what the other person is saying, not inerrantly but you have a very good idea of what the other person is saying based upon what the person you do hear is saying). Second, when I have read reliable church historians such as Jaroslave Pelican, they all seem to say the same things (i.e. that Pelagious was a very moral person, that he believed that mankind was basically good and that man initiates his own salvation). Now if some reliable sources said one thing and others said another then there would be reason to pause. But there is not they all seem to say the same things repeatedly. Third, I have been around the block and seen some things and one thing I have seen over and over from people is that many believe that man is basically good, that man can and does initiate his salvation by seeking after God. In other words these are beliefs that are extremely common among people, not odd or unique views at all. So I can just imagine someone voicing Pelagius type beliefs because I have heard them myself! Fourht when you look at liberal versions of Christianity you find these same beliefs that man is basically good, that man can initiate his salvation at any time (study liberal versions of Christianity and you see these exact beliefs repeatedly). Fourth, again when you examine church history you find certain cycles of two groups who oppose each other. You find Pelagian versus Augistinian, Luther (predestinarian) versus Erasmus (non-predestinarian), conservative versus liberal, etc. The fact these things keep repeating in church history suggests to me that they are common versions of the same debates recycling themselves. Fifth, my experience again is that most people don’t want to view themselves as sinners,, as basically sinful, as needing to be drawn to Christ to come to Christ (in other words most nonbelievers want to believe in the goodness of man much more than the sinfulness of man: most of the people I encounter in the US believe they are good enough already to go to heaven and sometimes get very upset when you speak of things like sin, they don’t do it supposedly and hell, why would God sent such moral people as them to hell?).

            Did Pelagius get a bad rap historicallly? Possibly, I cannot rule it out as I can other possibilities. However in light of the available evidence we do have it seems the picture is accurate. By the way the reliable sources that I have read all say that Pelagius was a very moral persons of very good character. So I am not sure what bad rap you are referring to. He may be a boogeyman for calvinists but they do that with many people (e.g. including Arminius who by all accounts both friends and opponents **was** a godly man of impeccable character. for example while some Reformers unfairly and ruthlessly persecuted the Anabaptists, Arminius invited them into his home for scriptural discussiions of what he perceived as their errors). Hope that answers your question.

              Lydia

              Robert, I agree with the cycles of similar theologies throughout history. I do think Pelagius has been turned into a bad man because his doctrine was considered heresy by those with more power and that is how the historical record was written. Ironically, Abraham Lincoln and Ronald Reagan thought in similar terms as Pelagius, from what we know. And both certainly had experience with evil.

              But without his writings, we can never really know the depths of where Pelagius was coming from. I certainly would not trust the records of the one sided heresy councils where his words were interpreted for him and power/control was one of the goals.. I have witnessed some more modern type of star chambers of a similar vein. It is the imbalance of power we must take into consideration before we make blanket assertions. And perhaps his legacy should be one of a decent man who was unfairly treated? Doctrine over people.

              Makes you wonder if Pelagius thought his detractors were “good” or where they raised to be corrupted and then go after him for controlling what the masses believed. Or perhaps he believed they made evil choices as adults?

                Lydia

                Robert, one more thing to ponder. If we take the whole of their lives into consideration, say Augustine and Pelagius, which one would you be more apt to trust with the welfare of your family if something happened to you? Right off the bat I could say I would trust Pelagius more. Just as I would trust Castillo over Calvin.

                This is where I think most leaders miss it when it comes to Christianity and the doctrinal wars.

                  Andrew Barker

                  Lydia: There are a few articles I’ve found which you may know of, but out of interest here is an extract from Pelagius to Demetrias by Geoffrey O Rhiada. It’s available in pdf format.

                  Few churchmen have been so maligned as Pelagius in the Christian West. For nearly
                  1,500 years, all that anyone has known of the British monk’s theology has come from
                  what his opponents said about him — and when one’s opponents are as eminent as
                  Augustine and Jerome, the chance of getting a fair hearing is not great. Consequently, it
                  has been easy to lay all manner of pernicious heresies at Pelagius’s doorstep. Only in the
                  last couple of decades have scholars been able to recover and examine Pelagius’s works
                  directly. What they have found is that very little of what has historically passed for
                  “Pelagian” heresy was actually taught by him.

                  The other article is PELAGIUS
                  DEFENSE OF THE FREEDOM OF THE WILL
                  Reconstructed by Rev. Daniel R. Jennings

                  Hope these are of interest. :)

                    Lydia

                    Thanks for the refereces, Andrew.

                    Lydia

                    Andrew,

                    the synopsis in your second article referenced clearly outlines the problem I have with tarring Pelagius as a heretical boogeyman. Have we simply taken Augustine and other control freak philosopher king’s word for it? Is it fair to go along with his name being used to define heresy? I would think at the very least we encourage people to refrain from using his name in that way as we have very little to go on except his detractors word for it. And we all know they were not thrilled with peasants believing they had any freedom to think for themselves or a direct route to our Savior.

                    Here is the synopsis I refer to:

                    Synopsis: This book was written by Pelagius and explains his beliefs regarding the freewill that God has given to mankind. It was a short treatise composed of four books.These fragments are taken from Augustine’s two book work entitled “On the Grace of Christ, and on Original Sin”. Unfortunately for those wishing to fully understand Pelagius’ views Augustine is not a faithful quoter when it comes to his archenemy’s writings. Augustine will quote him in one place, then repeat the quote later in a different way, each time wording it in such a way that best suits his argument. We are left to wonder if he has done this with all of the quotations that he has made from Pelagius’ writings, perhaps exaggerating his statements to present them in an extreme light that the original author never meant. This would explain why two ecclesiastical synods, two popes, at least thirty-two bishops and several influential Christians could not find anything wrong with Pelagius’ doctrinal stances.

                    http://www.libraryoftheology.com/writings/pelagianism/PELAGIUSOnFreewill.pdf

                    I have no idea if any of this exonerates Pelagius or not. What I do know is that it is remarkably sad that so many people will believe whatever they are told without doing any digging on the matter. His name has been used to intimidate and insult people for a long while now. I find this reprehensible considering what little we know and what little we know comes from his detractors who held the power at the time.

                    This is part of what passes for official history that just wears me out.

                    Lydia

                    Andrew, Here is an interesting tidbit from your first article referenced:

                    “As with all of Pelagius’s writings, the textual history of the Letter to Demetrias is
                    complicated by his condemnation as a heretic. After the Synod of Ephesos in 431, it
                    became a crime to be in possession of any Pelagian works, so they were transmitted under others’ names. The great irony of this letter is that for centuries it was considered to be one of the works of Jerome and was included in his corpus of writings.[17] Later, the letter would be ascribed to various followers of Pelagius like Celestius and Julian of Eclanum. Today, however, the authenticity of the Letter to Demetrias as a work of Pelagius is not seriously questioned. Textual analysis indicates that its style and vocabulary are typically Pelagian. Moreover, modern scholars point out that Augustine himself knew the letter to have been written by Pelagius, something he mentions in his refutation of it in his work of 417, On the Grace of Christ.[18]
                    http://www.libraryoftheology.com/writings/pelagianism/PelagiusToDemetrias.pdf

                    It makes you wonder at the cruelty of people., even today. The man died maligned and censored. Have all the young men who have used his name as an insult even bothered to do any research past what their seminary profs told them to believe?

                    Lydia

                    Here is one more position from the article I think is worth mentioning considering what we know about his detractors:

                    Today, historians of the Church realise that Pelagius was not condemned simply on theological grounds. Rather, Pelagius’s teaching was seen as a threat, a “potentially dangerous source of schism in the body social and politic.”[10] His central message that there is only one authentic Christian life, the path to perfection, left no room for nominal Christians. If he had gone off into the Syrian or Egyptian desert, he would probably have been a revered “abba.” Instead, he clashed with the comfortable Christianity which had become the basis of unity in
                    the Imperial Church, and, as a result, he has gone down as the West’s chief heresiarch.

                    So some think maligning Pelagius was more about “unity” in Christendom at the time. Sound familiar?

                Les Prouty

                Lydia and Andrew,

                So are we to assume that the past and future statements attributing to the Trad statement looking semi P will be welcomed?

                  Lydia

                  “So are we to assume that the past and future statements attributing to the Trad statement looking semi P will be welcomed?”

                  I have no idea what this is supposed to mean?.

                  Les Prouty

                  Well Lydia,

                  You and others have decried Al Mohler for calling you al semi Pelagians. Of course he really didn’t call anyone a semi Pelagic. Here are his exact words:

                  “Some portions of the statement actually go beyond Arminianism and appear to affirm semi-Pelagian understandings of sin, human nature, and the human will…”

                  Notice the words “statement” and “appear to affirm.”

                  Nonetheless, if you and theaters are correct that Pelagius has been given a bad rap and was not a heretic, what’s the big deal about someone (though Mohler didn’t) referring to someone’s theology as semi Pelagian? Embrace it.

          Les Prouty

          Well I finally found agreement with Robert.

          “You hold the same beliefs as A’s do on rejecting unconditional election and reprobation, you hold the same beliefs on unlimited atonement and the denial of irresistable grace, the reality of free will as ordinarily understood, that faith precedes regeneration. Regarding perseverance, asssume all A’s believe that you can lose your salvation (you need only specify disagreement with them on this:”

          Correct. Several of us have pointed out the similarities with Arminians by Trads. Of all the Arminian “points” there is really only one difference.

          “I don’t think you are as far from Arminian beliefs as you may think.”

          Correct again.

          Rick Patrick

          Robert,

          Most Traditionalists reject the use of the classic Calvinist-Arminian spectrum itself. The ten articles were actually designed to “reframe” the discussion away from these five points. We don’t find it to be the most helpful way of looking at the issue.

          Nonetheless, you are correct that we are *closer* to the Arminians than we are to the Calvinists. I would say that we reject 4 points of Calvinism (embracing only the P) and that we reject only 1.5 points of Arminianism (with a slightly different view of T and an unwavering, non-negotiable commitment to P).

          Even though we are closer to Arminianism than Calvinism, most Traditionalists reject both labels, desiring to hit the hammer right on the nail of our unique position between the two. The idea that a new term is needed is evidenced even by those who reject the term Traditionalist. Various other options suggested include Savabilist, Biblicist, Extensivist, Tozerist, etc. I”m afraid we’re just not going to be happy with Arminian, in light of a few connotations it carries with it.

            Robert

            Rick,

            I understand that many may as you say reject the Calvinist/Arminian spectrum. I also believe the Traditioonalist attempt to reframe the issue away from the five points is both commendable and understandable. I also understand the desire to adopt the label “Traditionalist” as the context is the beliefs of Southern Baptists who unanimously believe in perseverance as against most Arminians who deny perseverance. I also believe your statement that you desire to hammer a nail between the two (as if Calvinism and Arminianism are at two complete opposites of the range of alternatives) is not accurate. Rather than Traditionalism being the middle position between two diametrical opposites as you claim it seems to me to be more like two of three different circles with two of them having such overlap (Arminian and Traditionalist) that they are nearly identical with the differences being minimal and the third circle (Calvinism being much different than the other two having hardly any overlap with the other two circles. Again, Arminians and Traditionalists agree on denying and rejecting unconditional election and reprobation; agree on denying and rejecting limited atonement with both affirming universal atonement [while both deny universalism, though both are misrepresented by calvinists as holding universalism] both deny irresistable grace, both deny and reject theological determinism/compatibism while affirming the ordinary conception of free will (technically called “libertarian free will”). The main disagreement is on perseverance with all Traidtionalists unanimously affirming perseverance: with most Arminians (but not all) denying perseverance. With regards to depravity, it depends on how it is defined. If it refers to the extensiveness of sin that sin has affected every aspect of human persons: Traditionalists and Arminians agree as the bible does teach this. If it is conceived as a nonbeliever is like a physically dead corpse incapable of doing anything or understanding anything, both Arminians and Traditionalists reject this conception of depravity. A’s and T’s also reject the calvinistitc concept that regeneration precedes faith. Regarding “inability” this again depends heavily on how the term is defined. I brought this up in another post, but it seems to me that if you take Jn. 6:44 serioulsy then some sort of “inability” must be posited (i.e without the drawing a person cannot come to Christ in faith; which means on our own we cannot come to Christ on our own). The calvinists go too far with their conception of “inability” so that it means the nonbeliever is inable to believe unless regenerated first. I would point out that the Arminian speaks of a prevenient grace (which means a grace that goes before conversion). Most Traditionalists when it is explained that this PG refers to the preconversiion work of the Holy Spirit have no problem seeing PG as this preconversion work of the Spirit. To put it another way, belief alone is not sufficient for salvation, a person must also repent. In scripture it is stated as the nonbeliever must believe and repent in order to be saved. And what does repentance involve? It involves the conviction of the Holy Spirit, without this conviction of the Spirit people will not be saved. When does this work of the Spirit which involves convicting sinners of their sin occur? Before their conversion. Is this work of the Spirit something sinners earn or work for or merit in some way? No, it is the grace of God in action. My point is that A’s and T’s agree that this convicting work of the Spirit must occur before a person is converted. So they both affirm this before conversion/PG grace. They also both believe that the work of the Spirit before conversion can also be resisted.

            Question of you Rick: you speak of some of the connotations connected with Arminianism that are a concern for you: what are they?

            I would point out that some of the misrepresentations of Arminian theology are created by Calvinists (these include “Arminian theology is man centered”; “Arminians worship free will”, “Arminians are Pelagians,” “Arminians are Semi-Pelagiangs,” “Arminians seek to rob God of His glory” “Arminians view of salvation leades to boasting: etc. etc.) Does any of this sound familiar? It should as these are the same accusations unfairly thrown at Traditionalists by calvinists. This should again suggest lots of overlap between Arminian and Traditionalists beliefs. Am I saying you should label yourself Arminian? No, I believe the traditionalist label fits Baptists in the SBC better than Arminian.

            Scott Shaver

            You see Rick:

            You can declare this is about “Soteriology” all you want. The proof is in the pudding.

            This is about Election my friend.

      Andrew Barker

      Andy: I too have read your piece, but it doesn’t really add up. The debate over soteriology dates back 1600 years, before which there was no debate. It was believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved. No strings, no pre-qualification, no regeneration before faith, no irresistible grace no prevenient grace, just God’s grace.

      Your comment that traditionalists believe much of what Arminian’s believe is not sufficient cause to drop any distinction. After all, there is some agreement on some aspects of Reformed theology. But that doesn’t imply any acceptance of Calvinism as a whole.

      If as you say you have looked at how prevenient grace is described, then have you not considered that there is little difference between it and irresistible grace? There is more synergy between the two than is often acknowledged. Both depend entirely on the will of God and without God’s direct intervention, nobody could come to faith.

      Both also have this in common. They are theological constructs and are unnecessary! I much prefer to take a straight reading of God’s word ie ” the grace of God has appeared bringing salvation to ALL men “. Just what is it about that verse which necessitates the imposition of either irresistible or prevenient grace?

      If you listen to the likes of Piper et al you will soon see the misrepresentation of all doctrine which doesn’t conform to Reformed theology. Arminianism becomes a useful straw man to knock down. This would be good enough reason in itself to reject your call to drop any distinction. The lack of distinction between total depravity and ‘inability’ is enough to confirm matters.

        Robert

        Hello Andrew,

        You bring up the verse that speaks of the grace of God that has appeared bringing salvation to all men (I take that to be a reference to Jesus by the way) and then ask a very good question: “what is it about that verse which necessitates either irresistable or prevenient grace (or calvinism or Arminianism)? Start with irresistable grace. With the coming of Jesus and his death and resurrection, the good news of the gospel. We don’t need irresistable grace to believe because the preconversion work of the Spirit (which includes HIs revealing Jesus to us, revealing our sinful condition to us, revealing the way of salvation through faith in Christ to us, convicting us of our sin, etc. etc.): all things done by the Spirit and all things done before our conversion (hence well described as prevenient grace the grace that comes before our conversion, PG). If PG is seen as the preconversion work of the Spirit then this is necessary for us to be saved. We cannot be saved on our own without this work of the Spirit. Part of this preconversion work of the Spirit is convicting us of our sin. Without that no one comes to Christ in faith for salvation. Believing alone will not get a person converted they also have to be convicted of their sin (not something that results from phony guilt trips or manipulistic evangelism, but by the Spirit alone). Arminians believe in this preconversion of the Spirit and so do Traditionalists. Only true Pelagians deny the necessity of this preconversion work of the Spirit. So in answer to your question, Yes Jesus came and did what he needed to do for us to be saved, but that alone without PG viewed as the preconversion work of the Spirit would not save us. We don’t need irresistable grace then to be saved but we definitley need the preconversion work of the Spirit to be saved. Does that answer your question Andrew?

          Andrew Barker

          Robert: PG is an unfortunate term in that it means different things to different people. It is also adopted by some to counter the accusation of semi-P. This too is unfortunate since most of what Pelagius said has either been lost or obtained through sources which were trying to out him as a heretic. Is it possible that he was arguing simply that people are born response-able ie with a God given ability to choose good or evil?

          If one accepts that depravity does not imply total inability there really is no need to insist on any pre-conversion work save of course accepting that it is the work of the Holy Spirit to convict the world of sin. There is no sense in which a person saves themselves since it is in response to what God has done. If that is what people are calling PG, then I guess I’m with them. I just don’t see the need for the label.

            Robert

            Andrew,

            “Robert: PG is an unfortunate term in that it means different things to different people.”

            Well unfortunately that is true with most theological terms. “Election” means different things to different people. So does “total depravity”, etc. In light of these differences it is always both smart and helpful to define one’s terms and ask others to define their terms as well. I used to work in counter cult ministry and the cults use our common Christian terms but with very different meanings.

            “It is also adopted by some to counter the accusation of semi-P.”

            True, I suggest its use because the Bible and our own experience presents a preconversion work of the Spirit that is essential to our becoming believers.

            This work occurs in the experience of all who are saved and the Bible talks about it: so we better have some term for it.

            Since it is grace and undeserved, and since it occurs in our experience before we are converted this fits the concept of prevenient grace (a grace that goes before) very well. If you have a better term, that is fine. The precise term is not the most important thing, that we can refer to it easily when talking to others is the important thing. But I believe that once it is defined as the preconversion work of the Sprit: those who are biblical (whether Calvinist, Arminian, Traditionalist, Biblicist, etc.) will agree that it is real and necessary in our conversion.

            “This too is unfortunate since most of what Pelagius said has either been lost or obtained through sources which were trying to out him as a heretic.”

            True, but I am not talking about Pelagius but about the concept of prevenient grace.

            “Is it possible that he was arguing simply that people are born response-able ie with a God given ability to choose good or evil?”

            Could be, but again if you don’t experience the preconversion work of the Spirit you will not be saved no matter if you were born with “response-able ie with a God given ability to choose good or evil” or not!
            “If one accepts that depravity does not imply total inability there really is no need to insist on any pre-conversion work save of course accepting that it is the work of the Holy Spirit to convict the world of sin.”

            Almost, not just His work of convicting us of our sin, but also his preconversion work of revealing Christ to us, showing us Jesus’ identity, showing us Jesus is the way of salvation, etc.

            “There is no sense in which a person saves themselves since it is in response to what God has done.”

            True, and primarily our response to this preconversion work of the Spirit.

            “If that is what people are calling PG, then I guess I’m with them. I just don’t see the need for the label.”

            So you are in! That’s good! :-) Regarding the label we need a term for it so that we can refer to it quickly and easily: I call it the preconversion work of the Spirit myself. But what I am calling the preconversion work of the Spirit is also what is normally meant by others as prevenient grace.

      Robert

      Whenever people disagree or are debating something it is critical to consider what their concerns are. Ofen if you know the concerns you know why they are arguing and what they are arguing for. Pelagius said that man was basically good, that man initiates his own salvation. Augustine concerned about these things responded with original sin, the necessity of grace in conversion/that God must initiate salvation: he also added unconditional election and irresistable grace. The Catholic church was espousing a works oriented soteriology. The Reformers concerned about this and other things in the Catholic church responded by bringing up Augustinian ideas and reemphasizing unconditional election, the necessity of grace, original sin, and added perseverance. Arminius concerned about unconditional electiono and reprobation argued against these things and for election by foreseen faith.

      Fast Forward to today. Traditionalists are concerned about he resurgence of calvinism and its errors in the SBC. Traditionalists as Baptists know that the majority of Arminians deny perseverance and so want to distance themselves from this mistaken belief. Tradtionalists also are concerned about unconditional election and reprobation, limited atonement, irresistable grace, the theological determinism/compatibilism and denial of free will as ordinarily understood, the errors of calvinism. What I do not understand is the hostility of some to Arminian theology when both share the same concerns and rejection of unconditional election and reprobation, limited atonement, irresistable grace, theological determinism/compatibilism and its denial of free will? They ought to be able to work together to oppose calvinism and its errors. In another post I will discuss total depravity, inability and prevenient grace.

Volfan007

I agree with this post. I, too, dealt with the very same things by some Calvinists. They tried to convert me. I was called everything from less spiritual and ignorant, to semi Pelagian, to Pelagian, to a few other undesirable names; all because I was not a Calvinist and would not become one. I have friends black-balled from DOM positions and other things due to them not being a Calvinist. So, I completely agree with this post.

David

    Bill Mac

    David: Those things should never happen, I agree. But have you never heard similar things from non-Calvinists towards Calvinists? Have you never heard that Calvinists preach a false Gospel? That the God of Calvinism is a monster? Have you never heard that Calvinists are deceptive, arrogant, divisive? Have you never heard that Calvinists don’t believe the clear teaching of the bible but rather worship Calvin? Have you never heard Calvinism called a heresy? One of my own church members said it not three weeks ago. Have you never heard Calvinism likened to Islam? Have you never heard SBC Calvinists condemned because of the actions of Mark Driscoll and CJ Mahaney? Have you never read any of the over the top things said about Calvinists on this very site week after week?

    A cease-fire requires both side to lay down their arms and Calvinists aren’t the only ones holding weapons.

      Robert

      Bill Mac,

      I sense major frustration coming from you by the words of your post. It seems you are bothered by what you perceive to be unfair attacks against Calvinism:

      “But have you never heard similar things from non-Calvinists towards Calvinists? Have you never heard that Calvinists preach a false Gospel? That the God of Calvinism is a monster? Have you never heard that Calvinists are deceptive, arrogant, divisive? Have you never heard that Calvinists don’t believe the clear teaching of the bible but rather worship Calvin? Have you never heard Calvinism called a heresy? One of my own church members said it not three weeks ago. Have you never heard Calvinism likened to Islam? Have you never heard SBC Calvinists condemned because of the actions of Mark Driscoll and CJ Mahaney? Have you never read any of the over the top things said about Calvinists on this very site week after week?”

      I agree that some of the claims made against Calvinism are unfair or false (e.g. I would not say they “preach a false gospel” because as far as I have seen they preach 1 Cor. 15 just like biblical non-Calvinists do). At the same time some of the claims made are legitimate.
      I think what you are forgetting here is this thing many call the Calvinist “resurgence”. It is organized calvinists trying to gain more control and influence in the SBC leadership and denomination (through seminaries and pastorates, publishing of materials, conferences, etc.) because they believe their doctrine to be biblical and superior to the theologies of non-Calvinists. The calvinists involved in this “resurgence” are pushing hard and pushing on multiple fronts (to use a war analogy: because whether you like it or not it really is a war of ideas).

      If they are going to push then others, who are non-Calvinists are going to push back. Liken it to a pendulum, the calvinists got the pendulum started with their organized “resurgence” and the non-Calvinists are pushing back. When you have a push and a push back, people from both sides are going to sometimes push in an unreasonable and even unbiblical way. You lament the treatment of calvinists, well the other side can push back with exactly the same types of claims (actually I have heard of instances of calvinists trying to take over a non-Calvinist congregation in a stealth manner but I have not heard of non-Calvinists trying to take over a Calvinist congregation in a stealth manner) . I also believe that the disagreements are not going to go away. This is not the first Calvinist “resurgence”. And Bill mac I suggest you carefully study church history and examine what resulted every time a group was pushing calvinism believing it to be a superior theology to non-Calvinism: the results may surprise you. You will see consistent and repeated patterns. I will not tell you what they are; I leave that to you and your own personal research.

        Lydia

        “And Bill mac I suggest you carefully study church history and examine what resulted every time a group was pushing calvinism believing it to be a superior theology to non-Calvinism: the results may surprise you. You will see consistent and repeated patterns. I will not tell you what they are; I leave that to you and your own personal research”

        Absolutely! And what does it often leave behind when it dies down? Unitarians, Social Gospelers and even Athiests. It worked best when forced within a church state system. It does not work well with individual freedom and the belief that man has the ability to govern himself. Which is another reason the last resurgence should scare us all more than it does. People are not connecting dots.

      Lydia

      “David: Those things should never happen, I agree. But have you never heard similar things from non-Calvinists towards Calvinists? Have you never heard that Calvinists preach a false Gospel? That the God of Calvinism is a monster? Have you never heard that Calvinists are deceptive, arrogant, divisive? Have you never heard that Calvinists don’t believe the clear teaching of the bible but rather worship Calvin? Have you never heard Calvinism called a heresy? One of my own church members said it not three weeks ago. Have you never heard Calvinism likened to Islam? Have you never heard SBC Calvinists condemned because of the actions of Mark Driscoll and CJ Mahaney? Have you never read any of the over the top things said about Calvinists on this very site week after week?”

      Don’t blame them for what I say. I have total complete free will and take full responsibility for what I say and do. I base a lot of what I say on what I have seen, read and experienced.first hand. I do not believe I need the equivelant of DNA evidence to speak about it. It is nice that there are blogs that allow it. Most YRR blogs don’t.

      What I really hear is you trying to nconvince people to do is ignore the last 10 years or so.Things like very influential leaders in the SBC literally teach that if you want to see the nations rejoice for Christ that New Calvinism is the only place to go. That is just one example That overall attitude has been ingrained in YRR pastors and youth pastors from seminary and then they are going into churches with it. You can parse it, ignore it and also try to convince people they are “unforgiving” toward it all you want. The damage has been done. There are trust issues that have nothing to do with forgiveness. But now the word is “unity” without any real explanation or repentence of what has taken place over the last 10 years. Let us all just pretend it never happened.

      The other problem is that it is impossible to discuss because mosst of it is denied. Gaslighting is the method most often used toward those who try and point anything out. “You don’t understand. You misunderstood what he was really saying. You just hate him because he is a Calvinist. You just hate Calvin. And so on. I could go through Lifton’s thought reform tactics and point out how they have been used in the New Calvinist movement to great success. . Another tactic is “you are just as bad”. What most of these deflections ignore is the imbalance of power. That is usually the case.

        Bill Mac

        I’m not interested in defending Calvinists or Calvinism. I don’t even consider myself one although I’m sure some might accuse me of being deceptive on that count. I’m certain nearly everything that Calvinists are accused of is true to a certain extent and in certain circumstances. My objective is the characterization that traditionalists are some kind of ecclesiastical freedom fighters whose methods are honorable and whose motives are pure. Call them on some of the tactics they’ve employed and the response is: “they started it !!!”. I was a non-Calvinist for a lot longer than I was a Calvinist and I can tell you from experience that non-cals can be just as aggressive, deceptive, divisive and arrogant as Calvinists. How is accusations of preaching a false Gospel somehow better when non-cals are accusing cals of doing it? How is calling Calvinists stupid for misinterpreting John 3 somehow more noble than when Calvinists claim the intellectual high ground? You fault Calvinists when they invariably defend themselves by saying you don’t really understand Calvinism but people here don’t have a problem telling me I don’t really understand what’s going on.

        Is there an imbalance of power? Sure, there might be. So work for change. Not a problem. But I don’t think it is necessary to demonize Calvinists to achieve your goals.

          Lydia

          “But I don’t think it is necessary to demonize Calvinists to achieve your goals.”

          From the very beginning of the resurgence any questioning or disagreement was considered “demonizing”. So I don’t even consider that anymore. it is just more of the same old posturing. You can label anything demonizing and so can I. The problem from day one is that the other side was too considerate to use the same tactics the YRR movement used. There is nothing demonizing about discussing what has taken place over the last 10 years. You can stay focused on “tone” or words or simply deal with the content.

          I was totally unprepared for how immature the YRR movement was in dealing with disagreement. We have been over this ground ad nauseum and part of the problem is that too many people tried to “get along” early on and what that meant to the YRR was “don’t dare disagree or we will eat your lunch” and you don’t “believe in the true Gospel”. You were either on board or you did not have the true Gospel. I have seen them shush little old ladies at church and confront those who disagreed insisting they had wicked hearts.

          Now we are told “yes they can be jerks”. Seriously? I have never seen such an entitled immature whiny Christian movement in all my life. They were given way too much power too young and could not handle it. No one describes the YRR movement as one of love and justice.

          That is not to even mention all the covert tactics used to get in churches in the first place. It is almost as if they bred immature entitled narcissists in seminary and unleashed them into churches. The damage will be long coming. Now we are to pretend none of it ever happened and to have unity. And the folks who are not jumping on the unity bandwagon are now the bad guys. So now, the other side can expect to be the bad guys if they don’t go along with every Unity word uttered. It is ridiculous. it is cult tactics 101. The YRR are the covert aggressors for 10 years and when there is pushback they cast themselves as whiny victims trying to have unity. Right, that is the way to hold onto power and shut the other side up. We are not dealing with Christianity. We are dealing with politics.

          If you want to call that demonizing, be my guest.

            Bill Mac

            Entitled and whiny or bitter and obsessed. I’m not sure which is worse. No one seems to be winning this war.

              Scott Shavers

              Which category do you fall in Bill Mac?

              Or do you soar above the frey?

            Scott Shaver

            Good point Lydia.

            What leads also breeds.

    Andy

    “”I have friends black-balled from DOM positions and other things due to them not being a Calvinist””

    And of course the opposite happens as well. While I understand Dr. Fox has written this for a specific college situation, doubt that his summary of “It’s all the calvinists fault” will have the desired peace-making effect.

    For real peace-making, Consider a married couple I know: One of whom is a Calvinistic Baptist…the other is a solid Arminian Nazarene. I think they didn’t even talk about it untill after they were married! :-) But they got married, and as of 7-8 years into their marriage, Neither has changed their position…yet they have a good and loving family! I’m sure they’ve had some uncomfortable conversations, but in Christ each of them knows their commitment to that other person as they are is greater than their need to convert them to their side.

Max

It’s increasing clear that the SBC leadership call for unity to agree to disagree, get along to go along, make room for theological diversity under one big tent, etc. ain’t working! The difference in soteriological view alone is just too extreme and the weeping and gnashing of teeth continues.

In the Southern Baptist church I was born in and born-again in eons ago, we would join hands and sing a song at the end of every service which included the lyrics “The fellowship of kindred minds is like to that above.” Kindred minds these days? Not too much of that going around. The common thread that blest the tie that binds is no longer there in many of our churches … this darn theological debate is splitting the ranks, and with it the fellowship of believers. Even a theological triage won’t span this great gulf. I doubt that we will ever return to the proper balance of the sovereignty of God and the free will of man which characterized Southern Baptist ministries I have known for over 60 years. Calvinization of the SBC is well underway – now controlling most entities – and the new generation of preachers coming out of SBC seminaries lean toward reformed theology.

I’m reluctant to share the following quote by Charles Finney (knowing that I immediately lose the attention of the reformed brethren at the drop of his name), but I find it appropriate at this juncture in SBC life:

“It is evident that many more Churches need to be divided. How many there are that hold together, and yet do no good, for the simple reason that they are not sufficiently agreed. They do not think alike, nor feel alike … and while this is so, they never can work together. Unless they can be brought to such a change of views and feelings as will unite them, they are only a hindrance to each other and to the work of God. In many cases they see and feel that this is so, and yet they keep together, conscientiously, for fear that a division should dishonor religion, when in fact the division that now exists may be making religion a by-word and a reproach. Far better would it be if they would agree to divide amicably, like Abraham and Lot. ‘If thou will take the left hand, then I will go to the right; or if thou depart to the right hand, I will go to the left.’ Let them separate, and each party work in its own way; and they may both enjoy the blessing.” (Charles G. Finney, Revivals of Religion, Lecture XVI: The Necessity and Effect of Union)

    Scott Shaver

    Max:

    This mess reminds me of the time I walked into a cactus on Enchanted Rock at Fredricksburg TX.

    Year later you’re still digging the spines out of your flesh.

      Scott Shaver

      Lot of talk and hype these days about “prophetic” this and that…..preaching etc.

      Last sure word of prophecy I heard was that of Russell Dilday who said the CR would lead to final division and demise of the denomination over Calvinism.

      Don’t remember if these words were uttered before or after he was locked and escorted out of the President’s office at Southwestern Seminary.

        Max

        Scott, I’m not a moderate or the son of a moderate, but there is no doubt that Dr. Dilday had prophetic insight regarding the destiny of the Southern Baptist Convention. In his 2001 analysis of the BFM2000 revision, he listed several “troubling factors” that all traditional Southern Baptists should take note of: http://assets.baptiststandard.com/archived/2001/5_14/pages/dilday.html

        Regardless of your theo-political leaning (liberal, moderate, conservative, or hyper), the way Brother Dilday was dismissed at Southwestern was shameful.

          Scott Shaver

          Max:

          Fully agree and I’m not the “son of a moderate” either, my disdain for baptist labels notwithstanding.

          My point with all the argumentation is if “Trads” and “Neo-Calvinists” who were allied under the CR can’t both admit that the motives, method and product of the CR were wrong in substance and intent, OR, if “Trads” can’t successfully employ the tactics by which “TRADS” and “CALS” mutually “reformed/deformed” the SBC label, then the former mercenary arm of the CR will continue to prevail as we see with ongoing calvinization of the literature, educational institutions and mission sending ventures historically associated with the label.

          “TRADS” ironically don’t even want to talk about the CR. They cut off their closest Baptist kinsmen and are now scratching their heads while looking around for allies on a forced march to Geneva.

          At this point…yes, I can find it laughable.

          Because Win, lose, or draw in the good ole “SBC”……..Baptist Christians in the pews these days have greater concerns than whether or not an historically short-lived and currently unrecognizable Baptist sect lives or dies. This day and age they’ve grown very accustomed to dealing with accelerated change and they will adapt.

          They may quit hanging around and funding a lot of “SBC” nurtured and affiliated “baptist” churches however.

            Max

            Brother Scott, you have articulated the SBC dilemma well. As a 60-year SBC veteran, it sads me greatly to witness “ongoing calvinization of the literature, educational institutions and mission sending ventures historically associated with the label.” The challenge being mustered by the grassroots representing SBC belief and practice is a noble effort, but a few years too late.

Lydia

“I’m reluctant to share the following quote by Charles Finney (knowing that I immediately lose the attention of the reformed brethren at the drop of his name), but I find it appropriate at this juncture in SBC life:”

Yes. Finney is the Reformed boogyman. He started out Presbyterian, btw. I will take Finney and his abololitionist teaching any day (Such as Oberlin being the first to teach blacks as equals) over the Calvinists who taught slavery was instituted by God like Boyce.

    Scott Shaver

    Careful Lydia:

    Some might not yet have developed a stomach for that much history :)

      Max

      Scott,

      Speaking of history … the SBC “unity committee” has declared that it’s OK to have two distinctly different plans of God’s salvation in a single denomination, noting that it’s always been there … so, everybody just needs to sing kumbaya. Calvinist and non-Calvinist, as different as they are in belief and practice, should just coexist they say. That seemed to work for SBC’s non-Calvinist majority with “Old” Calvinism, but this “New” Calvinism is a different thing altogether. The “restless” in young, restless and reformed are pushing back the boundaries of SBC life. Thus, if that’s what we are to live with going forward – a mixture of members with diverse soteriological views – then just declare it’s what it is and paint “Reformed” or “Traditional” on the church signs at all 45,000+ SBC churches. Current and prospective members can choose (or elect) to go where they will (or be predestined) to attend.

      Les Prouty

      “the SBC “unity committee” has declared that it’s OK to have two distinctly different plans of God’s salvation in a single denomination…”

      There are not two different plans of God’s salvation. God’s plan of salvation is repentance and faith in Jesus. It’s justification by grace thru faith. One and the sam plan in the SBC.

        Max

        Yes, Les, that should read “two distinctly different theologies dealing with Gods’ plan of salvation in a single denomination.” You know, soteriology … the central item we fuss about all the time on blogs.

JD

I found this when I searched for Clear Creek Baptist Bible College and what doctrinal statement, confessions, etc. that the college affirms;

“According to the school, Clear Creek Baptist Bible College equips individuals called of God for Christian service. We are an agency of the Kentucky Baptist Convention affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention. The college adheres to the New Hampshire Confession of Faith and the Baptist Faith and Message as doctrinal statements.”

This was found on some degree search database. The part that is interesting is this …”The college adheres to the New Hampshire Confession of Faith…”

The New Hampshire Confession of Faith is fairly non committal on any real point of disagreement between Trads and Cals, but the sections on regeneration, faith and repentance are quite interesting;

-VII. Of Grace in Regeneration
We believe that in order to be saved, sinners must be regenerated, or born again; that
regeneration consists in giving a holy disposition to the mind; that it is effected in a
manner above our comprehension by the power of the Holy Spirit, in connection with
divine truth, so as to secure our voluntary obedience to the gospel; and that its proper
evidence appears in the holy fruits of repentance and faith and newness of life

-VIII. Of Repentance and Faith
We believe that repentance and faith are sacred duties and also inseparable graces,
wrought in our souls by the regenerating Spirit of God; whereby being deeply convinced
of our guilt, danger and helplessness, and of the way of salvation by Christ, we turn to
God with unfeigned contrition, confession and supplication for mercy; at the same time
heartily receiving the Lord Jesus Christ as our Prophet, Priest and King, and relying on
him alone as the only and all-sufficient Saviour.

This clearly states that faith and repentance follow regeneration or that they are necessary results of the Holy Spirit’s regenerating work. Now compare this to some of the language found in the Trad statement;

-Article Five: The Regeneration of the Sinner
We affirm that any person who responds to the Gospel with repentance and faith is born again through the power of the Holy Spirit. He is a new creation in Christ and enters, at the moment he believes, into eternal life.

The Trad statement claims that regeneration follows faith and repentance. I would like some clarification as to whether or not CCBBC still adheres to the New Hampshire Confession of Faith.

    Kyle Gulledge

    Greetings JD:

    I am not sure I understand the last part of your post in which you were comparing the TS to the NHC and then followed it up with asking for clarification about CCBBC. Mind clearing that up? Also, may I suggest going to the actual website of Clear Creek to find out what they believe rather than just some internet search. Seems to me if you want the truth you should go to the source. For your convenience here is the link (But please notice that it is at the top of this article!): http://ccbbc.edu/pages/baptist_faith_and_message.php

    Have a blessed day!

      JD

      Jonathan,

      I was comparing the two statements to show that apparently CCBBC had at one time adhered to a confession with a very Calvinistic understanding of regeneration, faith and repentance, but has now obviously flip flopped on that. I went to the website and saw the BF&M 2000, but I wanted to know more doctrinal specifics. That’s when I began searching for more information about confessions. I also discovered a blog post by Jeremy Lee about CCBBC denying central tennets of the confession that they claimed adherence to. That blog post along with an older post by Tom Ascol show just how hostile CCBBC has become towards Calvinism.

        Kyle Gulledge

        Hi JD,

        Thanks for clarifying. I think maybe you made a typo then that was causing the confusion–but alas, I digress. I find it humorous that you would go “searching for more information about confessions” via the internet instead of simply seeing what the institution has to say for itself. The internet has a lot to say–but obviously we both know that doesn’t make it true. I would love to see the article that you are referencing from Ascol, if you don’t mind. But the truth is we could search every Bible College/Seminary in the SBC and there would be those who oppose something they stand for or stand against. CCBBC is a great school–and most certainly not hostile. I fear you may have looked past the point that Dr. Fox’s article, which was part of a conference about Calvinism on campus, was directed at CCBBC itself and the issues they were dealing with on campus. Calvinists were a problem there–most of them had the attitude of elitists and were just down right rude. So is CCBBC hostile towards Calvinism? No. Just because they made a stand on what they believe doesn’t make them hostile. If that were the case, then all Christians are hostile–Just like Jesus ;)

        Blessings in Christ.

        Scott Shavers

        If the case JD states is true,”departure by CCBC from the New Hampshire Confession” maybe it’s because they’re finally realizing who they are and are not as Baptists
        Never too late to do the right thing huh?.

Jim P

Do any here who read articles and comments here see a potential contradiction in the label “Traditionalists.”

Jesus’ own observation of the “Traditionalists” of His day, Matt. 15:6 .’ Thus you have made the commandment of God of no effect by your tradition.’

Myself, trying to be objective here and not a ‘Calvinist’ or a ‘Traditionalist’ as many would like to label, don’t you who are so loyal to your Baptist heritage see the conflict in how you argue the problem when exclusively from you own perspective? “Tradition” when the final word can be an insurmountable obstacle.

In Our Lord’s day, His opponents chose their traditions.

    Rick Patrick

    Jim,

    The sense in which you are using the word “tradition” is general, in that there is both a Calvinist “tradition” and a Traditionalist “tradition.” We are using the term “Traditionalist” to refer specifically to the school of thought expressed through the General Baptists in England, Separate Baptists in America, and eventually, the Herschel Hobbs-Adrian Rogers tradition in Southern Baptist life. Here is a clearer explanation of the term: http://connect316.net/aWhyTraditionalism

      Scott Shaver

      Rick:

      I’m curious. Why do you include Adrian Rogers with Herschell Hobbs when you talk about Southern Baptist “tradition”. Seems like you’re trying to spike the punch of “tradition” with the inclusion of a guy who was willing for the convention to divide over the ruse of innerrancy.

      If Rogers represents a critical element of Baptist “tradition” you want to see perpetuated, then you should be calling not only for wholesale rejection of strict calvinism within the SBC, but dismissal from seminaries and agencies of the SBC any individual or individuals holding to the reform theology of Calvinism. They must be eliminated and their influence minimized by all operational means necessary.

      Such would be more consistent with the “tradition” of Adrian Rogers. Your version of the tradition seems a little more watered-down and compliant than that of Rogers in dealing with current SBC “issues”.

      If you see Adrian Rogers as emblematic of “Southern Baptist Tradition” then by all means emulate his actions..

        Rick Patrick

        Scott,

        Please understand that we are concerned with soteriology and not with rehashing the Conservative Resurgence. There is a simple and clear reason to include both Hobbs and Rogers (and, for that matter, Mullins) when addressing our theology. They were the primary confessors (that is, the chairman of the committees) who led in the formulation of the Baptist Faith and Message in 1925, 1963 and 2000. None were Calvinists. All believed in what we call Traditionalist soteriology today. That is why they are linked.

        Frankly, it has nothing to do with the inerrancy controversy (which is SO thirty years ago) and the tactics employed then, which are obviously still a concern for you. I do not believe at all that it is necessary to emulate the strategic tactics of those Shurden described in his book as “going for the jugular.” I would love to be able to emulate the preaching of Adrian Rogers, the soul-winning of Adrian Rogers and yes, in this case, the soteriology of Adrian Rogers. But there is no need to conclude that out of some sense of consistency I must therefore emulate all of his actions, especially those you find most offensive.

          Scott Shaver

          Fair enough Rick and appreciate your response.

          By all means, let the divisions which are so “thirty-years ago” continue.

            Scott Shaver

            Looks like “going for the juglar” is already being successfully employed by the other…team anyway.

            Too late for that.

              Scott Shaver

              Guess this brings me back to the conclusion/conviction I’ve been working from all along.

              The gravestone and epitaph of historic “Southern Baptist” faith and practice is/was the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message.

              What we’re watching now is a re-inhabiting of the shell.

        Bill Mac

        “If Rogers represents a critical element of Baptist “tradition” you want to see perpetuated, then you should be calling not only for wholesale rejection of strict calvinism within the SBC, but dismissal from seminaries and agencies of the SBC any individual or individuals holding to the reform theology of Calvinism. They must be eliminated and their influence minimized by all operational means necessary.”

        If indeed Calvinists are all that they are accused to be on this site, this is absolutely what should happen.

          Scott Shaver

          They can’t do it Bill Mac.

          They like the spoils of the CR but can’t bring themselves to repeat CR tactics even though their neo-calvinist detractors have no problem following the playbook. Catch 22 situation and the only way out (femporarily) is more PAPER and more STATEMENTS.

      Jim P

      Rick,

      Thank you for your response. I will read the explanation you suggest. I am not sure though that there is a need for many baptist to oppose anything that infringes on their ‘traditions’ in the character of the verse I suggested above. But I will look at it thoughtfully.

      Thank You, Jim Poulos

Rich Albertson

You have heard a great many Arminian sermons, I dare say, but you never heard an Arminian
prayer—for the saints in prayer appear as one in word, and deed, and mind. An Arminian on his
knees would pray desperately like a Calvinist. He cannot pray about free will—there is no room for it.
Fancy him praying, “Lord, I thank You I am not like those poor presumptuous Calvinists. Lord, I was
born with a glorious free will. I was born with power by which I can turn to You of myself. I have improved
my grace. If everybody had done the same with their grace that I have, they might all have been
saved. Lord, I know You do not make us willing if we are not willing ourselves. You give grace to everybody.
Some do not improve it, but I do. There are many who will go to hell as much bought with the
blood of Christ as I was. They had as much of the Holy Spirit given to them. They had as good a charge
and were as much blessed as I am. It was not Your grace that made us to differ—I know it did a great
deal, still I turned the point. I made use of what was given me and others did not—that is the difference
between me and them.” That is a prayer for the devil, for nobody else would offer such a prayer as that!

C.H. Spurgeon excerpt from vol 1 New Park Street Pulpit 1855 sermon 52 “free will a slave”

    Andrew Barker

    There have been few people in history more adept at putting up a straw man and then pulling it apart than Charles H Spurgeon. :)

mark payton

All these comments proved Dr. Fox’ point

    Max

    Yep. Problem is, Mark, there are only about 100 bloggers/commenters on each side of the fence having this dialogue. The multitude in SBC pews are not engaged because they are uninformed, misinformed, or willingly ignorant … and, thus, easy pickins for the major shift in belief and practice that is headed their way as Calvinization of the denomination continues at break-neck speed.

Ken

Dr. Fox(as well as several commentators) apparently doesn’t grasp the obvious fact that accommodation-ism, another form of political correctness, will never solve anything. In fact, accepting or even tolerating heretical beliefs just for the sake of acting nicely in hope of creating harmony and peace will instead merely result in a phony harmony that will eventually invite God’s wrath upon those(including denominations) who choose to ignore the truth of God’s Word.

Furthermore, it could result in the demise of the greatest evangelistic organization in the history of Christianity after the initial first century surge by the apostles and other followers of Christ Jesus. Already the malaise is evident, for recent published statistics estimate that only about 50% of the 16 milliion SBs attend a worship service in any given week.

We should lovingly heed Paul’s instructions to Timothy that “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, and for instruction in righteousness.” (2 Tim 3:16)

So, “Be not deceived, God is not mocked, for whatever a man soeth, that shall he also reap.” (Gal 6:7.) Sobering words indeed!!

    Les Prouty

    Ken there is one thing you said that is 100% correct.

    “In fact, accepting or even tolerating heretical beliefs just for the sake of acting nicely in hope of creating harmony and peace will instead merely result in a phony harmony that will eventually invite God’s wrath upon those(including denominations) who choose to ignore the truth of God’s Word.”

    Amen! And if ever “heretical beliefs” are discovered in the SBC I join in with I’m sure everyone else on this blog in hoping it is exposed quickly. Heretical belief should not be tolerated. On that we all can agree.

Andrew Barker

Lydia: Reading through some of these old letters you can see there really is nothing new under the sun. Pelagius’s big mistake was to take on Augustine and Jerome without sufficient backing for his own position. The result, he may have been badmouthed for 1600 years; theologians have argued over a position he may never have held and his name is used as a synonym for heretic.

One of his stated views is that God enables but we choose. That’s a position many would find agreement with. Sounds like grace and rejecting total inability to me :)

William Lewis

You spelled “Arminian” wrong… Armenians are from Armenia. Arminians adhere to the theology of Arminius.

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