Why I Am Not An Arminian | Part One

March 14, 2016

Leighton Flowers | Professor of Theology
Dallas, TX

**This article was previously posted by Leighton Flowers on his website www.soteriology101.com and is used by permission.

Leighton is: teaching pastor in his local church, an adjunct Professor of Theology, and the Youth Evangelism Director for Texas Baptists.

Learn more about Leighton, HERE.
Follow @soteriology101 on Twitter HERE.
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I’ve often told people that I am not an Arminian, but that is not because I dislike Arminians; nor is it because we disagree over that many issues.  In fact, Traditional Southern Baptists, like myself, agree with much of what many good Arminian brothers teach. But, there are several differences I have with my Arminian friends that should be noted. For instance, some classical Arminians believe one can be genuinely reborn and later lose their salvation by apostasy.  I explain why I reject this view HERE.

Also, some Arminians teach the “foresight faith view” in order to explain God’s eternal plan of election. When I was a young Calvinist, I had been lead to believe the only real alternative to Calvinism was this seemingly strange concept of God “looking through the corridors of time to elect those He foresees would choose Him.” Notable Calvinistic teachers almost always paint all non-Calvinistic scholars as holding to this perspective. Once I realized other scholarly views were available, I became more open to consider them objectively.

I found a much more robust and theologically sound systematic in what is called “The Corporate View of Election,” which so happened to be the most popular view among the biblical scholars of my own denomination (Southern Baptists). Therefore, I have come to affirm the unified declaration of the author’s in the book titled Whosoever Will:

“We are neither Calvinists nor Arminians; we are Baptists!”

Even among Traditional Baptists, there exists various nuances over the nature of fallen humanity in response to God’s revelation. However, the Traditional statement, signed by many notable Traditional scholars, clearly denounces the concept of “Total Inability,” a view maintained by most classical Arminian scholars.

“Total Inability” is the belief that all humanity is born incapable of willingly coming to Christ for salvation even in light of the Holy Spirit wrought truth of the Gospel, unless God graciously works to empower the will of lost man (effectually by way of regeneration for the Calvinist, and sufficiently by way of “prevenient grace” for the Arminian). Traditionalists simply do not accept the presumption that the libertarian freedom of man’s will was lost due to the Fall. As article two of the Traditional statement says,

“We deny that Adam’s sin resulted in the incapacitation of any person’s free will or rendered any person guilty before he has personally sinned.”

Notable Arminian scholar, Roger Olson, critiqued the Southern Baptist Traditional statement by calling it “Semi-Pelagian” (which I addressed HERE). Recently, another Arminian brother and friend, William Birch, has posted a critique of my perspective on this matter.

In the past, William has posted links to my articles on his feed and I’ve re-blogged his articles here, so we agree on many (if not most) theological matters. He is a kind, intelligent brother with a far greater gift in writing than I could ever hope to possess.  I prefer a personal discussion over dueling blog articles any day. Nevertheless, this is my response to his well crafted critique of my views on the subject of Total Inability.

For the sake of brevity, I will only respond to the most pertinent issues, as I see them.  I welcome William (or other readers) to point out any issue that I fail to address which is germane to our disagreement. I will put William’s quotes in red, not because his teachings are to be compared to Christ’s ;-), but because I firmly believe that Christ’s words are at least as believable upon their reading as are his words.

Traditionally, there are a host of scriptural passages referencing an inherent inability within the depraved individual, relegating the individual as naturally deficient in properly responding to the grace of God.

One must wonder what is meant by the term “naturally deficient” in a world where all that is “natural” is ultimately of God’s permission or design? When a Christian theist speaks of what is “natural” are they not, in some way, referencing what is of God’s design or permission? Allow me to explain further…

“What do you have that you did not receive?” was the apostle’s question to the Corinthian believers (1 Cor. 4:7). My next breath is at God’s pleasure (Is. 42:5). My abilities to reason, or think, or make choices are all from God, my Maker (Is. 1:18). As AW Tozer is famously quoted for saying:

“God sovereignly decreed that man should be free to exercise moral choice…the eternal decree decided not which choice the man should make but that he should be free to make it.”[Link]

Why would this be any different with regard to my “natural ability” to respond willingly to God’s own word? It is not as if I (or any Traditionalist who agrees with me on this point) attempts to say that mankind’s ability to respond to the Holy Spirit wrought gospel is of my own making (like I went out into my tool shed and built a nature that was capable of willingly responding to God). Instead, it is a common ability built in us by our Maker, who created in His own image (this image, though marred, was graciously preserved even through the Fall…at least there is no biblical reason to think it was lost, as far as I can see). God was not required to create within us this ability, nor is He obligated to exercise His patience with us in waiting for us to exercise that ability (2 Pet. 3:9).  He could have justly allowed each of us to suffer the immediate life-terminating consequences of our first sin.

At this point, the differences between William’s position and my own seem to be inconsequential. He argues that God supernaturally intervenes (by a work of “prevenient grace”) to grant all of fallen humanity an ability they supposedly lost in the Fall of Adam (something never explicitly or implicitly suggested in scripture as far as I can tell). Whereas, I believe God graciously preserved our human responsibility (the ability to respond) to God’s graciously revealed truth by letting us live, even though He had every right to simply destroy us.

In other words, the hair being split is God’s “common grace” in preserving man’s life and thus his God-given ability to respond willingly to His own word–versus God’s “prevenient grace” in supernaturally restoring man’s lost ability to respond willingly to His own word. I hardly see why any scholar would make the conscience effort to label one of these perspectives a “heresy” (Semi-Pelagian) in defense of the other.

In such a confession, however, we are not referring to an inability to hear the audible voice of God, as with Adam and Eve in the Garden after the Fall (Gen. 3:8, 9), or, obviously, the audible voice of Jesus while on earth. The Fall does not render a person physically deaf but spiritually deaf.

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phillip

Leighton,

Excellent!

I agree with you completely that man never lost his ability to believe and, thus, prevenient grace is not necessary to restore man to a pre-fall condition in order to believe. We reject total depravity/total inability so we see no need for any prevenient grace, which is the Arminian solution for TD/TI.

I think it is safe to say that this article will expose those within the SBC that are Arminian Baptists and not Traditional Baptists.

God bless you, brother!

    Robert

    Phillip is a person that I have encountered over at Leighton’s site who is extremely antagonistic against Arminians and Arminian theology. Don’t know why, but he appears to have a hatred for Arminians and Arminian theology. I have corrected him numerous times. I want everyone to see his errors and false representations of Arminian theology. I want it out in the open for all to see.

    Over at Leighton’s website where this article was first published Phillip suggested it be published here and he got his wish. I believe that Leighton makes some good points but also makes some mistakes as well.

    I think I speak from a unique perspective as I hold **both** Arminian beliefs and Traditionalist beliefs (i.e. depending whom you are speaking with I would be called “Arminian” and also “Traditionalist”).

    Phillip writes:

    “I agree with you completely that man never lost his ability to believe and, thus, prevenient grace is not necessary to restore man to a pre-fall condition in order to believe. We reject total depravity/total inability so we see no need for any prevenient grace, which is the Arminian solution for TD/TI.”

    Let’s grant that first claim, that “man never lost his ability to believe”, let’s assume this is true. So people have the capacity to believe. Next Phillip says that PG is not necessary to “restore man to a pre-fall condition in order to believe”. I do not believe that a person needs PG to be restored to a pre-fall condition. Now some Arminians may believe that, but many do not. So this is a misrepresentation by Phillip.

    It may be helpful of me to provide my definition of PG (prevenient means “before”, so prevenient grace is a grace that goes before, before what? Before a person is converted before a person is saved). And what do I mean specifically when I speak of PG? I am referring to the preconversion work of the Holy Spirit that enables but does not necessitate a faith response. The preconversion work of the Spirit includes convicting us of our sin (Jn. ), revealing Jesus to us (cf. 1 Cor. 12:3 no one can confess Jesus as Lord except by the Spirit), giving us understanding of scripture, etc. UNLESS the Spirit reveals these things to a person they cannot be saved. As a Baptist I have believed and taught this for years. Usually I do not even use the term PG, I just speak of the work of the Spirit in our hearts and minds before we become believers. Without this work by the Spirit we cannot be saved. Phillip tries to argue that we do not need PG. But that depends upon what you mean by PG. if you mean by PG as I do and many Arminians do, and many Baptists do, the preconversion work of the Spirit then most definitely we need PG to be saved.

    Do I believe in depravity? Yes. Again we must explain what we mean by our terms. I do not mean that we are as bad as we can be, nor do I mean that because of sin we cannot believe unless regenerated first (that is a Calvinist doctrine and it is false). I do mean that the fall had consequences, the worst being that all of Adam’s descendants are born spiritually dead (i.e. separated from God). I do not believe that the guilt of Adam was transferred to all of us (this is a Traditionalist belief that I hold). Traditionalists believe in depravity we just don’t believe that it makes us like zombies who are incapable of understanding spiritual things unless regenerated first.

    “I think it is safe to say that this article will expose those within the SBC that are Arminian Baptists and not Traditional Baptists.”

    There is no need to Arminian Baptists to be “exposed” within the SBC. I have been a Baptist for my entire Christian experience. I have held Arminian beliefs and Traditionalist beliefs this whole time. I think the problem is that many Baptists whether they recognize it or not hold to Arminian beliefs. If you want to see someone in the SBC who held very similar beliefs to mine, consider Adrian Rogers. I will cite him in another post to show that he clearly held to the preconversion work of the Spirit being necessary for a person to be saved.

      phillip

      Well, we just exposed one Arminian.

        Robert

        So now that I have been “exposed” what are you going to do about it Phillip?

        What do you want to do now to punish me?

        It should be noted that I am also a “Traditionalist”, so am I acceptable as a Traditionalist, and at the same time to be attacked, misrepresented, persecuted for holding Arminian beliefs and being Arminian?

Allen Rea

Keen insight brother! I have always enjoyed Olson’s writings, but I find him to be quite an enigma. His notion of accepting Open Theism into evangelicalism has made me distance myself from him. The Arminian par-excellence is Thomas Oden. His “Transforming Power of Grace” is the essential read for anyone wishing to understand Arminian soteriology. I’d personally rather hang out with Oden instead of Piper.

    Robert

    I agree with Allen on this. Roger Olson is an Arminian scholar but I don’t think he is the best representative of Arminianism.

    I say this because myself and many other Arminians disagree with him on open theism (we believe open theism the denial that God knows everything is a serious error) and we disagree with him on inerrancy (we affirm inerrancy and he denies it). If you look at Olson carefully he has some questionable beliefs. At the same time I do agree with him that Calvinism is false, unconditional election is false, Jesus died for the sins of the whole world not just the elect, grace is resistible (which is why people remain unbelievers they resist God’s grace to them, they were not predestined to be unbelievers they are unbelievers by choice as they choose to say no to God and His grace).

Chris Johnson

Leighton…this seems to be confusing: “It is not as if I (or any Traditionalist who agrees with me on this point) attempts to say that mankind’s ability to respond to the Holy Spirit wrought gospel is of my own making (like I went out into my tool shed and built a nature that was capable of willingly responding to God). Instead, it is a common ability built in us by our Maker, who created in His own image (this image, though marred, was graciously preserved even through the Fall…at least there is no biblical reason to think it was lost, as far as I can see). God was not required to create within us this ability, nor is He obligated to exercise His patience with us in waiting for us to exercise that ability (2 Pet. 3:9). He could have justly allowed each of us to suffer the immediate life-terminating consequences of our first sin.”

What you teach though seems to still be attaching the definition of freedom to ones own natural working. In other words, “being made in God’s image” is what you teach as “the” state for freedom, “regardless of the effect” of sin/separation. 2 Peter does not appear to be making the same leap. Scripture reveals that God has said the remedy for freedom (restoring relationship) is the working of Himself (Romans 5,8) to overcome sin. Scripture relates humankind’s state after the fall as in Adam, not Christ (everyone is a slave to another, not God, while in Adam). Something takes place to change the state, yet scripture never says it is the creation (in his image) as you seem to be pleading. Can you prove that it is something other than grace that changes the state of those in Adam, who at some point “become” willing to turn to Christ? Is it belief, exposure to the gospel, or grace that is the effectual change agent? Is not the change agent God’s administration…an never dependent upon man’s common ability (built into us by our Maker). Does man get any glory for this “built in” ability? (Romans 3) Don’t we believe (on salvation) because of grace, not ability?

    Leighton Flowers

    Hi Chris. Hope you are doing well.

    What do you mean by “one’s own natural working?” That was a significant point in the article that I raised and may be worth addressing.

      Chris Johnson

      Leighton: Thanks for the question, because that struck me as being the heart of the discussion IMHO. I would carry it a bit further by asking how is it that “freedom” is effected by “one’s own natural working”. I have listened to your 101 podcast and do have a better picture of the framework you use to define freedom, and scripturally there still seems to be more to that framework if we apply the entire contexts. You and I are not really too far apart at all, except that you imply more toward the created “image” allowed man when defining freedom, …as potentially a picture that God is holding the gospel at arms length to all men to be seen and grabbed; that environment being the launching off point for the “image bearer decision” to exercise belief without the assistance of the super-natural. If it didn’t happen that way… “naturally free”… it might be like a fifteen yard penalty for interference against the Holy Spirit (He might be a bit jealous at that point).

      I might posit it another way…..

      1. In the beginning, man/woman is created in God’s image and has the ability to choose good and evil. God reveals to us that man is held accountable for choosing wrongly, and his choice results in a separation from God (where harmony existed before with the same freedom), a change in Inheritance (belonging to a different family with a different Father), and a change in creation overall (physical decay, both human and all other, world, etc.) A lot to overcome by the natural “image bearing” man.

      2. So, the “natural decision” to disobey and go against God brings about real change because of the established law (change, with consequences). This may be where your framework is a bit different from what I see that scripture is teaching. For instance, is this separation (fall, choice to sin, etc) a simple change of venue, or is it a change that requires work in order to reverse the separation. Either of those two do not effect the “image” God gave man in creation. The question becomes, who does the work to restore, cause the separation to disappear, create the rescue, etc.

      3. Does it only require a natural decision to restore the separation? Or, does it require a super-natural and lasting decision to restore the separation. The man/woman has the same “image” of creation, yet can he/she force a natural means (belief) to restore a spiritual separation that requires a trust. Is the natural mind keen enough to overcome the separation by looking at, or hearing the gospel? Many folks do things, many hear, many see. Is the scripture begging the question that if only you hear and see the gospel, that “belief” is all that makes the difference in order to remove the separation and apply Christ’s righteousness. Don’t the demons know Christ and believe. (James 2)

      4. Natural man is natural, where supernatural is required for change. I would submit that God is the supernatural change required for the natural man to know Him. Not simply have access to the gospel (hear, see, preach, etc.). Christ’s work, life, death, resurrection and intercession is the gospel. All the gospel is required to effect the supernatural change. It is the power of God unto salvation.

      5. It appears to me that all men require grace to experience the new birth, and I agree with you that pre-venient grace terminology is using fuzzy math as well. But none the less, the “image bearing” natural man requires the full administration of grace in order to be born from above. God seems to be the only one to do that. I believe He has, and continues to restore without impeding any “freedom” within the “image bearer”. In fact, I might infer that God restores the freedom (grace) once enjoyed, in that same “image” so that a real choice to fellowship and love flow freely, without separation, and all the benefits of that fellowship are seen in the glory of Christ, now and into eternity. In either instance, the administration is God’s moving, and man’s enjoyment.

Andy

“In other words, the hair being split is God’s “common grace” in preserving man’s life and thus his God-given ability to respond willingly to His own word–versus God’s “prevenient grace” in supernaturally restoring man’s lost ability to respond willingly to His own word. I hardly see why any scholar would make the conscience effort to label one of these perspectives a “heresy” (Semi-Pelagian) in defense of the other.”

Leighton, this is an excellent point! To clarify further, are you saying that we should not call your view Semi-Pelagianism, because Semi-Pelagianism IS heresy? Or are you saying that one should not refer to Semi-Pelagianism as heresy, since it is a made-up term anyway without any real adherants?

Also, who is being quoted at the end of your article, and what is the point of it? The quote is not introduced or responded to, and so I’m not sure how it fits.
Thanks,
-andy

    Andrew Barker

    Google it Andy, you have the technology! – quote from Leighton’s site where is puts William Birch’s views in red.

    Leighton Flowers

    Andy,

    I think Jonathan, the editor, wanted to leave you hanging with that final quote so you would have to “tune in” for part 2 to find out how I responded. :-)

    All the quotes I’m interacting with are from William Birch’s article linked at the beginning.

    To answer your question. I do not believe my perspective fits under the label “semi-pelagian” based on what that label has come mean to most scholars, but still I do think its a made-up term which mostly serves as a straw-man/boogie man. On my blog there is an article title “Pelagianism: The Calvinist’s Boogie Man” that goes through all this if you’re interested.

    Thanks

Robert

Adrian Rogers clearly held to the concept of PG (if is is viewed as the preconversion work of the Spirit that enables a faith response). Here is a SBC traditionalist who affirms a form of inability/that without the work of the Spirit we cannot have a faith response to the gospel:

Here is the quote:

“Spiritual blindness makes beggars of us all. … The blind need more than light in order to see. … I used to think, as a young preacher, that what you had to do to get people saved is just to tell them how to be saved. Just turn on the light. But it doesn’t matter how much light there is, or the person is blind because he cannot see it. It takes more than light, it takes sight. And a person who is blind cannot see the light, no matter how strong the light is or how pure the light is. It takes more than preaching to get people saved. That’s the reason I frequently say to you, I can preach truth, but only the Holy Spirit can impart truth. That is the reason why we must be a praying church. That’s the reason you must be a spirit filled soul winner. That is the reason that we must have the anointing, because we are dependent upon God to open blinded eyes to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It takes more than light, it takes sight. We need to understand that nobody can be argued into the kingdom of heaven. Nobody can be educated into the kingdom of heaven. I’m not against letting the light shine. You must let the light shine. You must preach. But remember, there is another dimension.” (Jesus is God’s Answer to Man’s Darkness: John 20:30).

Rogers was a great evangelist and he clealry knew and understood that the preconversion work of the Spirit was absolutley necessary for people to be saved. Was he a calvinist? No. And yet he held to the concept of PG (if defined as the preconversion work of the Spirit).

    Leighton Flowers

    Robert,

    I think we can all affirm the pre-conversion work of the Spirit. We differ on what that work is accomplishing, I think. Some (maybe not you) believe that the Holy Spirit is working in some inwardly supernatural way to make the nature of man capable of understanding and accepting the truth of divine revelation. I believe that God, by the power and work of the Spirit, is bringing revelation through a host of means and it (because it is OF HIM) is sufficient to accomplish the purpose for which it was sent.

    Some seem to believe God works separately from those means to enable man to freely respond. Others believe God works through those means enable man to freely respond. Both acknowledge the need for the work of the Holy Spirit. Do you see the difference?

      Les

      Leighton,

      I realize that Robert is not a Calvinist and I am. But we both agree on the necessity of PG. What you are saying seems confusing.

      Do you not think there is a supernatural working going on when what you describe as this revelation takes place? If not, what is it?

      Also, I think Robert and I would agree (not sure) that this activity of PG is also with means…such as the preaching of the word.

      You seem to be trying to split a hair that can’t be split.

      Can you please try to distinguish your view in another comment?

      Robert

      Leighton,

      “I think we can all affirm the pre-conversion work of the Spirit.”

      And if THAT is what is meant by “prevenient grace” then you hold to the existence of this grace as well as many others who hold to this reality.

      “We differ on what that work is accomplishing, I think”

      I think this is where you may be mistaken. When I speak of the preconversion work of the Spirit I am speaking of His convicting sinners of their sin, revealing Jesus to them, showing them the way of salvation, etc. etc. In all of these things the Spirit does not regenerate us, he does not change our nature, all that He does is enable us to properly put out trust in Jesus alone to save us. I quoted Adrian Rodgers on this earlier in this thread as he is speaking of this preconversion work of the Spirit that enables a faith response but does not necessitate it. This is not irrisistable grace as people can and do resist the Spirit’s work.

      ”Some (maybe not you) believe that the Holy Spirit is working in some inwardly supernatural way to make the nature of man capable of understanding and accepting the truth of divine revelation.”

      I would agree that the Spirit’s work is supernatural as He is God. But he is not changing our nature when he does this. He is giving us understanding of divine revelation, understanding of truth, but our nature is not changed by this supernatural work of the Spirit. Again, some experience this work and they remain unbelievers. I know folks who have a great understanding of spiritual things, they know they are sinners, know who Jesus is, but they refuse to become believers (has their nature changed? No. Did the Spirit work in them? Yes)
      .
      Now note you say Leighton that “some” maintain X. Presumably these “some” are Arminians. But I and other Arminians doe not maintain X, this proves that not all Arminians believe the same things on this. It also means when you say “I am not an Arminian” you have to specify which Arminians you are referring to.

      “I believe that God, by the power and work of the Spirit, is bringing revelation through a host of means and it (because it is OF HIM) is sufficient to accomplish the purpose for which it was sent.”

      I agree with this too, that is why when I get up in front of a few hundred folks and give an evangelistic message, my trust in not in my own intelligence, my own “techniques”, I am not trusting in any evangelistic tricks, instead I trust that the Spirit who is God is perfectly capable of using what I say to lead people to Christ. This is why Rogers said in the quote that I cited that we need to be people of prayer, because we are praying for the powerful work of the Spirit to open hearts and minds not some worldly techniques or tricks or fads.

      “Some seem to believe God works separately from those means to enable man to freely respond.”

      Again, isn’t the Spirit in his preconversion work capable of revealing Jesus to sinners, convicting sinners of their sin, etc. all the means that lead a sinner to Christ for salvation???

      “Others believe God works through those means enable man to freely respond. Both acknowledge the need for the work of the Holy Spirit. Do you see the difference?”

      Not sure what difference you are pointing to here? Perhaps you could explain or elaborate this more clearly.

      I hold the exact same view that Adrian Rogers held (as given in the quote I cited from him), was Rodgers correct or this or not? If he was correct then without the preconversion work of the Spirit (what many call “prevenient grace”) no one can be saved. There is “inability”, it is not an incapacity to believe, it is inability to believe unless the Spirit works in your heart and mind and reveals Christ to you, convicts you of your sin, etc. etc.

        Leighton Flowers

        Maybe I’m not being clear? The difference is some seem to believe The Holy Spirit helps men to understand and believe mysterious truths by the means of the gospel, where as others believe the Holy Spirit has to help men understand and believe the gospel.

        I agree with you that the Holy Spirit uses a variety of means to draw, convict and persuade men to believe (beyond that which accomplished through the gospel) but that’s not because the gospel is insufficient alone to do so. It’s not as if the additional work of the Holy Spirit to aid men in conversion means the gospel is insufficient in and of itself.

        Look at it this way. Could Thomas have believed the testimony of the eye witnesses who saw Christ raised? Of course he could. He had sufficient revelation. He chose not to believe them. It Thomas’ fault, not an insufficient revelation.

        Now, does the fact that Jesus graciously chooses to reveal himself personally to Thomas prove the eye witness testimonies were actually insufficient to enable Thomas’ to believe? Of course not. It just shows that God is so gracious that He sends a variety of means to draw. Does that make sense?

        It seems to me that some point to the Holy Spirits working above and beyond His work through the gospel as proof the gospel alone is insufficient because man is just too fallen to get it. And that isn’t found in the scripture as far as I can tell. The proof texts used to support that are typically about the judicial hardening of Israel (or the messianic secret), not total inability.

          Robert

          Leighton,

          “The difference is some seem to believe The Holy Spirit helps men to understand and believe mysterious truths by the means of the gospel, where as others believe the Holy Spirit has to help men understand and believe the gospel.”

          Let’s assume the second statement here is true (the Holy Spirit has to help men understand and believe the gospel)
          .
          WHY does the Spirit have to help people to understand before they are able to believe?

          As I said about Phillip in another post, Phillip seems to think that the nonbeliever is in a neutral state with respect to the gospel. That is not what scripture says. The Bible says that nonbelievers are often blinded to the gospel by Satan (cf. “And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving, that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” 2 Cor. 4:4). Scripture also tells us explicitly why this blindness exists: ““We that that we are of God,, and THE WHOLE WORLD LIES IN THE POWER OF THE EVIL ONE” 1 Jn. 5:19). So the nonbeliever is not neutral they are blind! Satan’s blinding them makes them unable to believe the gospel unless unblended first. And who does this unblinding? The Spirit does as he convicts people of their sin (cf. Jn.16:8) and reveals the true Jesus to them (cf. 1 Cor. 12:3).

          “I agree with you that the Holy Spirit uses a variety of means to draw, convict and persuade men to believe (beyond that which accomplished through the gospel) but that’s not because the gospel is insufficient alone to do so. It’s not as if the additional work of the Holy Spirit to aid men in conversion means the gospel is insufficient in and of itself.”

          Well if the gospel alone without the work of the Spirit were sufficient, how does this blinding of people towards the gospel by Satan figure in?

          It is not that the unbeliever does not have the capacity to believe the gospel: it is just that this capacity has been covered, disabled, whatever way you want to put it by people being deceived by Satan.

          “Look at it this way. Could Thomas have believed the testimony of the eye witnesses who saw Christ raised? Of course he could. He had sufficient revelation. He chose not to believe them. It Thomas’ fault, not an insufficient revelation.”

          The fault for rejecting revelation is always us. The problem is that there is a lot of deception in this world, lots of false philosophies and theologies and even false Christs and false gospels. The Spirit has to reveal the true Jesus, the true gospel to a person. Unfortunately many of these people have been blinded. I saw this first hand when I worked in counter cult ministry.

          “Now, does the fact that Jesus graciously chooses to reveal himself personally to Thomas prove the eye witness testimonies were actually insufficient to enable Thomas’ to believe? Of course not. It just shows that God is so gracious that He sends a variety of means to draw. Does that make sense?”

          No problem with the idea that “he sends a variety of means to draw”.

          That is not the issue, the issue as Rodgers’ words show so well is that the work of the Spirit is necessary for a person to believe.

          If they do not experience this work of the Spirit they cannot believe.

          “It seems to me that some point to the Holy Spirits working above and beyond His work through the gospel as proof the gospel alone is insufficient because man is just too fallen to get it. And that isn’t found in the scripture as far as I can tell. The proof texts used to support that are typically about the judicial hardening of Israel (or the messianic secret), not total inability.”

          The total inability is circumstantial: it results from being blinded by Satan, worshipping the creation rather than the creator, etc. It is not that people do not have the inherent capacity to believe it is just that all this garbage has covered it up so that the person cannot believe unless they experience the work of the Spirit.

          Leighton you still have not interacted with Adrian Rodgers words, I would like to see you do so as he is a good representative of what a solid SBC evangelist/pastor/teacher believes.

            Robert

            Leighton,

            Perhaps an illustration may make it more clear what I mean by (1) a person having the capacity to make choices but (2) being unable to do so because of their circumstances. I am suggesting this is an inability caused by their circumstances, you could call it “circumstancial inability” if you wanted to.

            It is kinda like a person who has been conned by a con man. The con man persuades them that they should make some choice (say to believe X), and so make the wrong choice. The person deceived has the capacity to believe other things (including the truth, say belief Z) and so they could make other choices, but they do not make another choice because they have been deceived.

            According to scripture the nonbeliever has been deceived about the gospel, so it is veiled or covered to them (2 Cor. 4:4 explicitly says this). So it is like a person deceived by a con man so that they believe the wrong thing/X when the truth, what they ought to believe is Z. The gospel and believing it to be true is belief Z. But having been conned the unbeliever believes the false belief, the wrong thing/X (and X could be all sorts of false beliefs, it could be a false theology such as Watchtower theology/Jehovah’s Witnesses, it could be false philosophy such as atheism, it could be the false teachings of a false prophet like Mohammed, it could be the false gospel of Mormonism, it could be the false ideas of a guru, it could be the false idea that you are saved by doing good works or being a good person, etc. etc.).

            The devil/the con does not care what false belief it is as long as it is not the true Jesus and the true gospel. Contrary to what many may believe the devil does not care if you are religious, as long as the religion is not Christianity. So we have a whole world full of conned and deceived people. They are not neutral to the gospel because of these circumstances making them unable to believe the gospel unless the Holy Spirit works in them first.

            Note – it is not that their capacity to believe is not intact, not functional (they do in fact believe all sorts of things) It is just that they have been deceived/conned about what they ought to believe in by the god of this world.

Robert Vaughn

Leighton, this is not the main import of your piece, but you wrote, “Also, some Arminians teach the “foresight faith view” in order to explain God’s eternal plan of election.” I don’t think you intend to say that only Arminians believe this, so are you crediting its origin to the Arminian viewpoint? I know a lot of people who believe that who, I thihk, would readily conceive of themselves as Traditional Baptists. I think this would have been the dominant view of the traditionalist, non-Calvinist, non-Arminian Baptists of my upbringing — though I don’t think they really said much about it unless pressed for an explanation of election (and there were few Calvinists around to press them, maybe a sincere questioner now and then).

I look forward to reading William’s piece to see how he explains the Arminian viewpoint. That is often quite elusive.

Robert

Let’s talk about these categories “Arminian” and “Traditionalist”. Regarding who is or is not an “Arminian”, “Calvinist” “Traditionalist”, whatever, a lot depends upon how you define the term.

Most people would label me an Arminian based upon the beliefs that I hold, most notably my beliefs in the area of soteriology.

Often people will define you by your affirmation or denial of the popular acronym TULIP (e.g. so if you affirm all five of these elements you are a “five point Calvinist”, if you affirm four of them but deny limited atonement then you are a “four point Calvinist”).

The fun thing is that I am a Baptist who affirms that a genuine believer cannot lose their salvation (what Calvinists are getting at with “P” in TULIP) and from what I have read I am a “Traditionalist” and yet most would label me an Arminian. :-)

In my own thinking I tend to view someone as “Arminian” if they hold common Arminian beliefs. And what are these common Arminian beliefs. Well since people love to do it, let’s compare Arminian beliefs with Calvinists beliefs on TULIP. Arminians affirm “T” but do not believe that a person must be regenerated first in order to understand spiritual things (A’s believe that the Holy Spirit must work in a person in order for them to be enabled to have a faith response to the gospel, this is called “prevenient grace” since it comes before the person is converted, it is undeserved hence “grace” and yet contrary Calvinists it is grace that can be resisted). All A’s deny unconditional election. Now here it gets interesting because all A’s believe in conditional election and yet some A’s believe that election is based upon foreknown faith and some (including myself) hold to a corporate view of election. Conditional election then, whether you hold the corporate view or not, is an Arminian belief. Regarding “L” all A’s deny it and instead believe that Jesus did not die only for the preselected elect but for the whole world. This belief, universal atonement (not to be confused with universalism the idea that all will be saved eventually) is an Arminian belief. As far as I know, Southern Baptist traditionalists also hold this belief. Then there is “I” a belief that all A’s deny and Traditionalists also deny. A’s believe, and Traditionalists believe the same thing, that the preconversion grace of God that we receive (A’s call it prevenient grace, Baptists tend to call it the work of the Spirit) can be resisted. Closely related to this denial of irresistible grace is the affirmation of libertarian free will. Again both A’s and Traditionalists believe that mankind has LFW. Regarding “P” it is true that many A’s believe that you can lose your salvation, but this is not an Arminian distinctive (as with the nature of conditional election) there is disagreement with many A’s believing that you can lose your salvation and some believing you cannot.

Does affirming that you cannot lose our salvation make you a Calvinist? No, Traditionalists are not Calvinists and they affirm that you cannot lose your salvation (and again some A’s also affirm that you cannot lose your salvation).

Can you see a pattern here?

The pattern is that what we would call “Arminian beliefs” (including the denial of unconditional election/the affirmation of conditional election, the corporate election view; the affirmation of universal atonement, the denial of irresistible grace, the affirmation of libertarian free will) are beliefs held by “Traditionalists”.

There is **so much overlap** which explains why a person like Roger Olson says that many, many Southern Baptists are Arminians and don’t know it! :-)

And what about a person like me who is Baptist and holds to eternal security and also holds many of these other Arminian beliefs:
am I an Arminian but not a Traditionalist?

Or Traditionalist but not Arminian?

Or Arminian and Traditionalist at the same time?

I would say that I am both.

    Rick Patrick

    I believe this helps sort out the categories a bit: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/C2P2DJK

      Robert

      Rick,

      I did your survey in the past and while it helps to make some differentiations (primarily between calvinist versus non-calvinist), it is not that good at differentiating between supposedly “Arminian” and “Traditionalist”. Allow me to explain.

      On #1 depravity Calvinists hold “D”, A’s and T’s do not. So you go to “C” and while some A’s would affirm “C” some like myself would not. “B” is the view that is closest to mine, and I am considered by many to be Arminian. Traditionalists hold to “B” but so do some A’s so this does not differentiate between the two. A’s and T’s deny “A”.

      On #2 calvinists affirm “B” but all A’s and T’s affirm “A” (conditional election) so that again does not differentiate between A’s and T’s.

      The same is true with #3, calvinists affirm “B” but all A’s and all T’s affirm “A” (General atonement).

      With #4 calvinists affirm “B” and all A’s and T’s affirm “A” (resistable grace).

      With #5 all calvinists affirm eternal security, many A’s affirm “A” loss of salvation, but some A’s like myself affirm eternal security, all T’s affirm eternal security. Here some Baptists make the mistake of declaring that all A’s deny eternal security, but this is false (there is disagreement among A’s on this).

      Now speaking for myself, in taking this survey, I would answer all five questions the way a Traditionalist would answer them, and yet many classify me as Arminian.

      This survey again shows there is a lot of overlap between Arminian and Traditionalist.

      So am I an Arminian or a Traditonalist, or both?

        phillip

        You are just an Arminian.

          Robert

          Phillip says (and he says this because he really detests Arminian and Arminian theology so he wants me to be in this category of persons that he detests)

          “You are just an Arminian.”

          Here are beliefs that I hold (and note all of them are beliefs of Baptists and specifically Baptists who are “Traditionalists”:

          1. I believe in believer baptism and reject infant baptism
          2. I believe that depravity is true, sin resulted in all being born spiritual dead/separated from God at birth, but I reject that the guilt of Adam is passed upon to all of his descendants, we are responsible for our own sins and guilty of our own sins.
          3. I believe in an age of accountability.
          4. I believe that unconditional election is false, I hold to conditional election, specifically corporate election.
          5. I believe that Jesus died for the whole world (unlimited atonement), that a person must respond in faith to the gospel to be saved.
          6. I believe that the grace of God (i.e. the preconversion work of the Spirit who convicts us of sin, reveals Jesus to us, reveals the way of salvation to us, etc. etc.) can be resisted. Those who resist the work of the Spirit remain unbelievers and are responsible for their rejection of God and His grace towards them. They are not unbelievers because God predestined them to be, they are unbelievers by choice, and they are responsible for this choice.
          7. I believe that not all people will eventually be saved (deny universalism), those who continue to reject God for their whole lifetime will end up eternally separated from God.
          8. I believe that a person who is genuinely saved cannot lose their salvation (I affirm eternal security).

          Now how is it that I affirm all of these things but Phillip wants to claim I am not a Traditionalist but ***only*** an Arminian?

          Or put another way, if you hold the 8 beliefs I just listed, and I know they are held by many, many
          Baptists, are all of us Arminians but not Traditionalists?

        Chris

        “We are neither Calvinists nor Arminians; we are Baptists!”

        Was anyone unsure about their being Baptists? Was that ever a question someone asked?

        Being a Baptist doesn’t preclude you from being either C or A. That’s not mutually exclusive. I don’t understand why that phrase would be said the first time or repeated.

      phillip

      Rick,

      To combat Arminianism, perhaps 1. C should read as follows…..

      Just as physically dead men are incapable of taking any action, so must those enslaved to sin be “released from the bondage of sin” by a special outpouring of God’s prevenient grace in order to overcome this incapacitation thereby enabling saving faith.

      Blessings, brother.

        Robert

        Rick,

        What Phillip suggests fails for two reasons:

        First, there is no reason to “combat Arminianism”. This language again shows Phillips hatred of Arminians and Arminian theology in all of its forms. I say in all of its forms, because I am a Baptist and I hold Arminian beliefs including: 1) that unconditional election is false, conditional election is true, I hold to corporate election (a belief held by many other Baptists as well). If you combat this, that would make you a Calvinist affirming unconditional election.

        Or how about the Arminian belief that (2) Jesus died for the whole world? I affirm that Arminian belief. Should Phillip and other Baptists affirm limited atonement the Calvinist belief instead?

        Or how about the Arminian belief that (3) the grace of God that leads people to Christ to become believers can be rejected (i.e. resistable grace). Does Phillip want to “combat” that and affirm the Calvinist belief of irresistible grace?

        Or how about the Arminian belief in (4) libertarian free will? Should Phillip and other Baptists deny libertarian free will?

        Second, Phillip gives his suggestion as to how your survey section C should be worded. He says that it should say that those “enslaved to sin” be released from the bondage of sin by PG thus enabling faith. This is a complete confusion of the biblical categories of being a “slave to sin”. According to scripture, and Paul speaks of this clearly in Romans, there are only two types of people (A) unbelievers who are characterized as “slaves to sin”, and (B) believers who are characterized as ‘freed from bondage to sin”. That is it, you are either (A) or (B).

        I and many other Arminians believe that PG enables a faith response because PG is the preconversion work of the Spirit who reveals things to you including your sinful condition, the true Jesus, that Jesus is the way of salvation, etc. But you only become “freed from sin” when you become a believer.

        It is not as if we receive PG and are freed from sin, and then choose to trust in Christ (that is a total confusion of categories because that would be a nonbeliever being freed of sin first, believing second, and then third becoming a believer, but according to biblical categories that is not possible). Phillips suggestion then is YET ANOTHER misrepresentation of Arminians and Arminian theology. It may be that some Arminians believe this, but not all, and certainly not me and many others that I know. It should also be kept in mind that this belief that the preconversion work of the Spirit enables faith, is a staple Baptist belief, many Baptists hold to this (I cited Adrian Rogers earlier as a clear example of this, Rogers held to PG if PG is seen as the preconversion work of the Spirit that enables but does not necessitate faith, Rogers was certainly no calvinist, he may not have used the term PG but he clearly believed that the preconversion work of the Spirit enables faith).

Leighton Flowers

Robert and Phillip,

I love you guys and appreciate your insights, I really do. I cannot speak for all the leadership if Connect316 or the Traditionalists, but I believe our “Traditionalist” tent is very large and welcoming. If its not, I hope I can influence it to become such. As you have pointed out, there are certainly some differences among Traditional Southern Baptists, and as we all know there are no two theologians exactly alike on every point of doctrine. William and I agree on far much more than we disagree and we celebrate those similarities while sharpening each other on our differences. I suspect that glorifies God as it deepens our understanding of His word.

I would NOT have a problem with “Arminian Baptists” fitting within the tent of “Traditionalist Baptists,” as long as this brand of “Arminianism” affirmed eternal security (a strongly held Southern Baptist belief), and they were okay with those of us who deny their belief in Total Inability. They are just man made labels after all. I see the value in having such labels, but they are created to unite us not divide us–as far as I’m concerned. Just my two cents.

Blessings to you,
Leighton

    Robert

    Leighton,

    “I cannot speak for all the leadership if Connect316 or the Traditionalists, but I believe our “Traditionalist” tent is very large and welcoming.”

    I believe that the leadership of Connect316/Traditionalists is a tent that is very large and welcoming. That is not my concern here. My concern is when folks like Phillip repeatedly and intentionally misrepresent the positions of others. It is charitable, fair and helpful to present differing views accurately. When people try to argue that they are **not** Arminians when in fact they hold Arminian beliefs, this attempted differentiation will only lead to confusion and unnecessary division.

    Using myself as an example, I clearly hold Arminian beliefs and so could be called “Arminian”, I also clearly hold Traditionalist beliefs and so could be called “Traditionalist”. Someone like Phillip detests the Arminian view and so would like to limit me to being “Arminian”, this theological prejudice is not helpful and misrepresents my position.

    “I would NOT have a problem with “Arminian Baptists” fitting within the tent of “Traditionalist Baptists,” as long as this brand of “Arminianism” affirmed eternal security (a strongly held Southern Baptist belief), and they were okay with those of us who deny their belief in Total Inability.”

    I affirm eternal security and I think the confusion is in regards to “those of us who deny their belief in Total inability.” Granted some Arminians hold a view of TI that is very similar to Calvinists (e.g. Roger Olson): but not all Arminians hold to this conception of TI.

    As in all debates and discussions one must carefully define one’s terms. If TI is defined as the nonbeliever does not have the capacity to believe, I would disagree. The nonbeliever does have the capacity to believe (so this is not where inability is present). It seems from both scripture (e.g. John 6:44 No one can come to me unless the Father draws him) and observation and personal experience (I have spoken with many about their conversion experience and every one of them recounts having experienced the preconversion work of the Holy Spirit [of experiencing conviction of their sin, having Jesus revealed to them, etc.]). So it seems that absent the preconversion work of the Spirit a person is not able on their own to believe.

    Perhaps an illustration may make this clearer. In the past when I worked with counter cult ministry, we often came into contact with people who had been blinded by the devil into believing some false theologies, philosophies and ideas. Now these folks had the capacity to believe in Jesus, but as long as they were in this condition of being blinded, they were not going to choose to trust in Jesus alone for their salvation. With these folks this blindness had to be removed, so that they could then respond in faith to the gospel. They were blind to the truth of the gospel, convinced that some false ideas were true instead of the gospel. The Holy Spirit had to break through this blindness and reveal things to them. Once he worked in their hearts and minds in this way, they were then able to make the choice to have faith in Christ. But absent the Spirit’s work, they were blind to the gospel, and could not believe it.

    This is not an inability of capacity (they had the capacity to believe, some believe in an ability of nature in which unless the nature is changed first the person cannot believe, I reject this form of inability). It is instead what you could call “a circumstantial inability” (i.e. their circumstances, involvement in a cult had created this blindness they experienced). There are all sorts of false theologies, philosophies, ideas out there that blind people to the truth. Satan is the god of this world and he uses the world system to keep people from God and the truth. They have the natural capacity to believe, but they have chosen the wrong faith objects because of their circumstances.

    Leighton did you read the quote from Adrian Rogers? What do you think of what Rogers says? Rogers clearly holds to a form of inability that must be overcome by the work of the Spirit. I hold the same view as Rogers.

    Robert

    Leighton,

    “I cannot speak for all the leadership if Connect316 or the Traditionalists, but I believe our “Traditionalist” tent is very large and welcoming.”

    I believe that the leadership of Connect316/Traditionalists is a tent that is very large and welcoming. That is not my concern here. My concern is when folks like Phillip repeatedly and intentionally misrepresent the positions of others. It is charitable, fair and helpful to present differing views accurately. When people try to argue that they are **not** Arminians when in fact they hold Arminian beliefs, this attempted differentiation will only lead to confusion and unnecessary division.

    Using myself as an example, I clearly hold Arminian beliefs and so could be called “Arminian”, I also clearly hold Traditionalist beliefs and so could be called “Traditionalist”. Someone like Phillip detests the Arminian view and so would like to limit me to being “Arminian”, this theological prejudice is not helpful and misrepresents my position.

    “I would NOT have a problem with “Arminian Baptists” fitting within the tent of “Traditionalist Baptists,” as long as this brand of “Arminianism”
    affirmed eternal security (a strongly held Southern Baptist belief), and they were okay with those of us who deny their belief in Total Inability.”

    I affirm eternal security and I think the confusion is in regards to “those of us who deny their belief in Total inability.” Granted some Arminians hold a view of TI that is very similar to Calvinists (e.g. Roger Olson): but not all Arminians hold to this conception of TI.

    As in all debates and discussions one must carefully define one’s terms. If TI is defined as the nonbeliever does not have the capacity to believe, I would disagree. The nonbeliever does have the capacity to believe (so this is not where inability is present). It seems from both scripture (e.g. John 6:44 No one can come to me unless the Father draws him) and observation and personal experience (I have spoken with many about their conversion experience and every one of them recounts having experienced the preconversion work of the Holy Spirit [of experiencing conviction of their sin, having Jesus revealed to them, etc.]). So it seems that absent the preconversion work of the Spirit a person is not able on their own to believe.

    Perhaps an illustration may make this clearer. In the past when I worked with counter cult ministry, we often came into contact with people who had been blinded by the devil into believing some false theologies, philosophies and ideas. Now these folks had the capacity to believe in Jesus, but as long as they were in this condition of being blinded, they were not going to choose to trust in Jesus alone for their salvation. With these folks this blindness had to be removed, so that they could then respond in faith to the gospel. They were blind to the truth of the gospel, convinced that some false ideas were true instead of the gospel. The Holy Spirit had to break through this blindness and reveal things to them. Once he worked in their hearts and minds in this way, they were then able to make the choice to have faith in Christ. But absent the Spirit’s work, they were blind to the gospel, and could not believe it.

    This is not an inability of capacity (they had the capacity to believe, some believe in an ability of nature in which unless the nature is changed first the person cannot believe, I reject this form of inability). It is instead what you could call “a circumstantial inability” (i.e. their circumstances, involvement in a cult had created this blindness they experienced). There are all sorts of false theologies, philosophies, ideas out there that blind people to the truth. Satan is the god of this world and he uses the world system to keep people from God and the truth. They have the natural capacity to believe, but they have chosen the wrong faith objects because of their circumstances.

    Leighton did you read the quote from Adrian Rogers? What do you think of what Rogers says? Rogers clearly holds to a form of inability that must be overcome by the work of the Spirit. I hold the same view as Rogers.

    phillip

    “Rogers clearly holds to a form of inability that must be overcome by the work of the Spirit.”

    Leighton,

    And that’s precisely why we are not Arminians.

    Man never lost his ability to believe. There is no ability that needs to be overcomed or restored.

    Blessings.

      Robert

      Phillip must be: (1) not involved in real world evangelism, and (2) somehow unaware of how blind nonbelievers sometimes are because of their holding to false theologies, false philosophies, false ideas, false gospels, and false prophets.

      I say this because Phillip appears to believe the nonbeliever is in some sort of **neutral state** with respect to spiritual things, that they are open to Christianity and they just need to hear the gospel and that’s it, they will come to Christ on their own *****apart from***** the preconversion work of the Holy Spirit.

      Anyone involved in (1) real world evangelism will have run into nonbelievers who were clearly (2) blinded with regards to the gospel and Christianity. This is not surprising because the Bible says explicitly that the nonbelievers are often blinded to the gospel by Satan (cf. “And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving, that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” 2 Cor. 4:4).

      As I have said before I saw this first hand because as a new believer I was involved in counter cult ministry. So I KNOW and have seen firsthand just how blind nonbelievers can be: believing all sorts of false theologies, philosophies, and ideas. It is both absolutely naïve and false to claim the nonbeliever is neutral, he is both blind and in rebellion against God (and those who evangelize have all seen this firsthand). Scripture also tells us explicitly why this blindness exists: ““We that that we are of God,, and THE WHOLE WORLD LIES IN THE POWER OF THE EVIL ONE” 1 Jn. 5:19). Nonbelievers are part of the world system that Satan controls, so He has deceived them about Christianity and spiritual things. He is quite content that people be religious, practice all sorts of religions, as long as they are kept from Christianity.

      Adrian Rodgers knew all of this and believed all of this, hence his words about the necessity of the work of the Sprit in evangelism, the necessity that we pray for people, pray when evangelizing and witnessing. Someone ignorant of this spiritual warfare, ignorant of people being blinded towards the gospel, Phillip naively suggests that all we do is preach or witness AND THAT ALONE, without the WORK OF THE SPIRIT, people will believe.

      Adrian Rogers did not believe that, and neither do I (and I would say all who regularly witness know this as well, we all know that we have to rely on the work of the Spirit to enable faith, to unblind people, to convict people of their sin/Jn. 16:8, to reveal Jesus as Lord to people/1 Cor. 12:3, to draw people/Jn. 6:44).

      Phillip writes in response to the Adrian Rogers quote which he clearly rejects and disagrees with:

      “Leighton,
      And that’s precisely why we are not Arminians.
      Man never lost his ability to believe. There is no ability that needs to be overcomed or restored.”

      It is not that people do not have the capacity to believe, the problem is that this capacity has been covered by the blindness that Satan perpetuates on people. If people were neutral they could believe without any help on their own, but the are not neutral they are blinded to the gospel by the god of this world. Now you can ignore scripture on this as Phillip does or you can take these things seriously and agree with Rodgers that we really need the work of the Spirit when evangelizing or people will not be saved. If believing that the work of the Spirit is necessary for people to become believers, then every one of us ought to be “Arminians”! :-) But that is not really needed, you don’t have to call yourself an “Arminian” to believe in the necessity of the work of the Spirit for people to come to Christ. This is a staple Baptist belief.

Greg Roberts

I like the corporate election view but I have trouble getting pass the personal pronouns in Romans 8:29 ie whom, are there any answers to that question .

    Leighton Flowers

    Greg,

    My view isn’t as widely accepted as it once was but I believe Paul is speaking about the same people in Romans 8 as he is in Romans 11….those ‘formerly known’ (i.e. the Israelites of the past who loved God and were called according to his purposes). I have an article which links to other scholars who hold to this view if interested:

    https://soteriology101.wordpress.com/2016/01/07/foreknew-foreseen-or-foreordained-or-formerly-known/

    Andrew Barker

    Greg Roberts: I also favour what you have termed the ‘corporate election’ view, although personally I prefer to just call it election which is corporate in nature. Once you have grasped the idea that God’s choice is primarily of Jesus and that as our head we are elect in Him things start to fall into place. Since we are chosen ‘in Him’ before the beginning of the world, this makes sense in terms of election. God looks forward to see all those who will by faith come to be in Him. But this does not require that God determines beforehand who will and who will not respond to the call of the Gospel. The word used in Romans is 4267[strongs] progin?sk? (from 4253 /pró, “before” and 1097 /gin?sk?, “to know”) – properly, foreknow; used in the NT of “God pre-knowing all choices – and doing so without pre-determining (requiring) them” (G. Archer). Whether or not you like to think God chooses individuals at that point is probably not the most important thing. I happen not to believe that we are chosen individually at that point since I can’t find any scripture to support it. But the most important fact is that God’s choice is seen to be congruent with man’s ability to make an otherwise choice ie God does not determine who will make a choice for salvation and who will not.

    The rest of the verse then also follows. It becomes clear that predestination has nothing to do with who will and who won’t be saved, but has everything to do with the promise of God that all who believe will be conformed to the image of his son. So don’t worry about those personal pronouns. God’s offer of salvation is always to whoever will respond to his call to repent and believe. Hope that helps. :-)

    Doug Sayers

    Not sure what you mean here, Greg. I see a lot of plural (those, many brethren, us) in these verses, especially in the ESV, which is the preferred translation for many of today’s Calvinists. Paul is speaking of believers in general.

    The predestination, here (and in Ephesians) refers to the predestined blessings of those who are believers / in Christ. There is nothing here (or in Ephesians) about any individual being irresistibly predestined to be a believer. Just a bunch of awesome blessings decreed for those who are saved by grace through faith!

    The same is true of unbelievers, in general. They are appointed [destined] to wrath (1 Thes 5:9). There is nothing in Scripture that says someone was appointed (or predestined) to be an unbeliever, but unbelievers are appointed for wrath. Try as they might, our Universalist friends hit a brick wall when they try to put everyone in heaven via the cross.

    Hope that helps.

Ben

I’m sure that nobody really wants to debate labels, but while I respect the authors of “Whosoever Will” as Baptist brothers in Christ, their statement, which Leighton has come to affirm, is on its face erroneous. They write and Leighton affirms, “We are neither Calvinists nor Arminians; we are Baptists!”

Let me make some similar statements to demonstrate the error:
1. “We are neither Cap’n Crunch nor Lucky Charms; we are Cereal!”
2. “We are neither Banjos nor Guitars; we are Stringed Instruments!”
3. “We are neither F-150’s nor Silverados; we are Trucks!”

There error lies in the fact that Calvinists and Armninians are also Baptists, just as Cap’n Crunch and Lucky Charms are also cereals. Surely, these brothers are not suggesting that Calvinists and Arminians cannot be Baptists. I understand that some of these men have tried to fix the error by putting the adjective “Traditional” in front of “Baptist,” but I’m afraid it just doesn’t get the job done since what a “traditional” Baptist consists of is so highly debatable.

I encourage Leighton and those who stand in his Baptist stream to come up with a label that actually differentiates their soteriological position under the larger Baptist label.

“We are neither Cap’n Crunch nor Lucky Charms; we are Cheerios!”
“We are neither Banjos nor Guitars; we are Mandolins!”
“We are neither F-150’s nor Silverados; we are Rams!”

“We are neither Calvinists nor Arminians; we are _____!”

    Chris

    Ben,

    Aptly stated. I’ve always considered the mantra “Neither Calvinists, nor Arminians; we are Baptists!” to be silly and strange. “Baptists”, unlike Calvinism and Arminianism, is not a soteriological system, it is a theological/ecclesiastical position on baptism, viz. credo-baptism. For Traditionalists to make this their battle cry over the last several years has only highlighted their inability/unwillingness to grasp the issues at hand.

    I would also add Leighton, that as in Calvinism, there are varying strata of viewpoints in Arminianism. Whereas Calvinists often differ with each other on issues like the extent of the atonement, the distinctions between effectual call and regeneration, compatibilism vs. semi-compatibilism, and so forth; so also do Arminians disagree on issues such as the nature of the atonement (penal vs. governmental), the nature of foreknowledge (fore knowing of faith vs. fore knowing of a collective in Christ), the perseverance of the saints (some Arminians affirm and some deny btw). Thus, your viewpoints sit comfortably within a form of Arminianism insomuch that even Roger Olson recognized it. Despite someone’s less than informed comment above, Roger Olson is THE Arminian par excellance. I think it takes one to know one :) Why can’t you guys just muscle up and call yourselves what you are? Farewell.

      Robert

      Chris,

      “I would also add Leighton, that as in Calvinism, there are varying strata of viewpoints in Arminianism.”

      This is quite true.

      “Despite someone’s less than informed comment above, Roger Olson is THE Arminian par excellance.”

      Your comment here is wrong Chris.

      I think you may have been referring to me Chris as I do not believe Olson is a good representative of what Evangelical Arminians believe. He is not “THE Arminian par excellance” because he is a theological liberal (Arminius was not and neither are Evangelical Arminians).
      I am part of a group called the Society of Evangelical Arminians. We recognize that Olson is very knowledgeable and has written some good things on the history of Arminianism and its theology. However, he is not a good representative of Evangelical Arminianism because he is theological liberal. This came out in SEA because at first he was a member of the group, then it came out that he denies inerrancy (Evangelical Arminians do not deny inerrancy) and he is very open to open theism (open theism is also denied by Evangelical Arminians). His views on inerrancy were discussed in the group until by mutual agreement he decided to leave the group.

      So an Arminian who denies inerrancy and is open towards open theism and theologically liberal IS NOT a good representative of what an Evangelical Arminian believes.

      Incidentally Arminius himself held to inerrancy and he denied Socinian (what are not called open theist) beliefs. Olson is good for historical information on Arminianism but not as a representative of Arminianism. One last example, where Evangelical Arminians would take the passages where God commands the Israelites to eliminate whole groups of people as literal (Olson takes these merely as figurative and argues God could never do this: his thinking is contradicted because God did command this to be done, and the same God who commanded that also commanded those under Jewish law to execute witches, homosexuals, adulterers, etc.: you cannot pick and choose what you believe God did or did not do, whatever He says, goes). Olson is also not especially strong philosophically (which partly explains why he does not take a stronger stance against open theism).

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