Words With Friends, part 2: Precise Names for Soteriological Views

August 29, 2013

by Dr. Rick Patrick, pastor
FBC Sylacauga, Ala.

From 1982-1990, the television sitcom Newhart entertained America with eccentric characters who lived in a small Vermont town, among them three backwoodsmen who lived in a shack and whose last name was never mentioned. The spokesman for the brothers introduced them the same way every time: “Hi, I’m Larry; this is my brother Darryl, and this is my other brother Darryl.” With apologies to boxer George Foreman, the failure to identify your children with unique names is intrinsically ridiculous.

In a similar fashion, confusion reigns in a small town not far from a church I previously served as Pastor. This town featured street names practically identical to one another—names like Third Place, Third Street, Third Lane, Third Avenue and Third Circle led to the next block where one might find Park Drive, Park Road, Park Court, Park Trail and Park Way. Most Pastors in the community, when attempting visitation, did not even bother with maps or directions, but simply dropped by the fire station for assistance from the professionals who memorized the confusing street patterns in order to save lives.

Fortunately, there is a better way. By giving brothers and streets and theological positions their own unique names, we contribute to clarity, precision and mutual understanding on the part of everyone involved. To put it simply, the Calvinist Family has entirely too many brothers using the same name. We can do something about it.

In Part One of Words With Friends, I discussed a unique, whole, acceptable and unused term for the specific view of salvation doctrine that I believe accurately describes the majority position among Southern Baptists—Savabilism. In Part Two, I will now turn my attention to the moniker Calvinism, a multi-faceted, umbrella term whose strongest proponents must even admit fails the test of theological precision quite miserably. Some will say, “But Calvinism is not a monolithic system.” Indeed. To paraphrase a line from The Incredibles: “If everyone is a Calvinist, then no one is.” Only by providing each theological view their own name, room and cell phone will our communication improve.

A TAXONOMY OF UNIQUE SOTERIOLOGICAL LABELS

1. Fatalist: Also called Hyper-Calvinist, this view rejects the idea that the atonement in any respect was intended for the salvation of all. It thus discourages inviting all men to believe in Christ for salvation. Fatalism lies beyond the scope of Calvinism per se. Thus, a Fatalist is truly no Calvinist at all. An example would be John Gill.

2. Calvinist: This view embraces all five points of the TULIP, while also affirming the free offer of the gospel to all men. May the label “Five Point Calvinist” become viewed as a redundant term, for there is truly no other kind. An example would be Al Mohler. It is possible, however, to identify three noteworthy Calvinist subcategories:

2a. Supralapsarianist: Also called High Calvinist, this view embraces all five points of the TULIP while placing the creation of the elect and the reprobate logically prior to the fall of man. An example would be Jonathan Edwards.

2b. Infralapsarianist: Also called Low Calvinist, this view embraces all five points of the TULIP while placing God’s choice of the elect and the reprobate logically after the fall of man. An example would be Charles Spurgeon.

2c. Nonlapsarianist: This view rejects both of the lapsarian positions above, considering them either speculative, unnecessary or lacking in scriptural support. An example would be Herman Bavinck.

3. Amyraldist: A position disaffirming limited atonement but holding to the other four points of the TULIP. While God provided Christ’s atonement for all, He saw that none would believe on their own, and thus elected unconditionally those He would bring to faith in Christ. An example would be Richard Baxter.

4. Molinist: A position disaffirming limited atonement and irresistible grace, reconciling divine determinism with man’s free will without appealing to the Calvinist explanation of a mystery. Through God’s “middle knowledge,” He knows what His free creatures would do under any circumstance, as illustrated by the statement, “If you enter the ice cream shop, you will choose chocolate.” God also actualizes the world in which we freely choose that which God intends for us. An example would be William Craig Lane.

5. Savabilist: While compatible with the Molinist understanding of election, this view affirms one point of the TULIP, namely perseverance of the saints. Unlike Arminianism, perseverance of the saints is a doctrine embraced in a completely non-negotiable manner. An example would be Eric Hankins.

6. Arminian: A position disaffirming unconditional election, limited atonement and irresistible grace, while embracing an interpretation of total depravity that affirms total inability. Unlike Savabilism, this view remains open to either perspective concerning the perseverance of the saints. An example would be Roger Olsen.

7. Semipelagian: According to the Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, this is “the name given to doctrines on human nature upheld in the Fifth Century by a group of theologians who, while not denying the necessity of grace for salvation, maintained that the first steps towards the Christian life were ordinarily taken by the human will and that grace supervened only later.” An example would be Saint Faustus of Riez.

Please note that the label Semipelagian is rejected by Arminians and Savabilists alike, for neither maintains that the process of salvation is initiated by human free will. In the same way, on the other end of the spectrum, the label Fatalist is rejected by Calvinists and Amyraldists, for they embrace the free offer of the gospel to all men. Our ongoing conversation regarding soteriology invites enormous damage whenever we attempt to push the definitions of our debate partners into either extreme position on the spectrum.

CONCLUSION

 In conclusion, this two-part essay has attempted to promote the use of specific, clear, whole words for each soteriological view. The goal is to distance ourselves from the kind of language encumbered by modifying terms and negating prefixes. To those who say, “We are all Calvinists of one sort or another,” let me reply, “Such a characterization is not at all helpful, for it is profoundly denied by those who disaffirm Calvinism.”

Fortunately, there is a much better way to approach this subject. If we desire to promote improved understanding, collegial conversation and respectful dialogue, let us begin by avoiding the tendency to lump every position into a few broad categories. Let us give each specific view a term of its own and a friendly welcome to the soteriological table. In this manner, whenever I ask Darryl to pass the salt, everyone knows what I mean.

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RD Magee

Rick,
Thank you for the post. It was very helpful. One of the questions I had from reading it was “what would be the chain of salvation for a savabilist.”. What sparked this question was the comment about savablist rejecting semipelagianism because a savabilist does not maintain that the process of salvation is initiated by man’s free will. Also, what Scrpiture references could you give me to study that reveal the “middle knowledge” of God. If I understood right, it seemed like a savabilist would embrace this in their understanding of election. Thanks.

    Rick Patrick

    RD,

    Although I am reticent to provide an entire ordo salutis for Savabilism, a few items seem fairly clear: foreknowledge is embraced, deterministic election is denied, and faith precedes regeneration. In this light, it is not much different from classic Arminianism, but there is a crucial distinction: Arminians view perseverance as negotiable while Savabilists do not.

    Clearly, Dr. Eric Hankins is the pastor-theologian who best articulates our view. His much anticipated upcoming book will no doubt answer many of your questions. By the way, you are right to identify a link between Molinism and Savabilism, for Eric embraces both. However, while a Savabilism might indeed be a Molinist, I am not at all certain that Savabilism absolutely requires such an affirmation. For more information on the “middle knowledge” view, this link might be a start: http://www.reasonablefaith.org/molinism

    Rick Patrick

    RD,

    Although I am reticent to provide an entire ordo salutis for Savabilism, a few items seem fairly clear: foreknowledge is embraced, deterministic election is denied, and faith precedes regeneration. In this light, it is not much different from classic Arminianism, but there is a crucial distinction: Arminians view perseverance as negotiable while Savabilists do not.

    Clearly, Dr. Eric Hankins is the pastor-theologian who best articulates our view. His much anticipated upcoming book will no doubt answer many of your questions. By the way, you are right to identify a link between Molinism and Savabilism, for Eric embraces both. However, while a Savabilism might indeed be a Molinist, I am not at all certain that Savabilism absolutely requires such an affirmation. For more information on the “middle knowledge” view, try searching “reasonablefaith.” (I would post the link, but it gets the comment hung up in moderation.)

Norm Miller

Thx for your leadership, Rick, as you have sought to follow T5 and foster conversation about the issues facing all Southern Baptists.

Robert Vaughn

Rick, where are you placing traditional Baptists who affirm two points of the “TULIP”. You say that the Savabilist affirms only perseverance and the Molinist apparently affirms three points. Would you not see those who affirm hereditary depravity and eternal security as a significant group among traditional Baptists? Maybe I’m out of touch, but I’ve always thought this was the traditional position of the majority of non-Calvinistic Baptists. Is there no room in the soteriology inn for these?

    Rick Patrick

    Robert,

    That’s a very good point. I myself am a bit more comfortable describing my own position as “one and a half points.” In addition to Perseverance, I affirm Total Depravity (there is nothing good in me) while denying its connotation of inability (I cannot respond to God).

    Should we call such a view Two Points or One Point or One Half Point? Depending on one’s definitions, we may indeed need another name to differentiate between these two perspectives. Your question certainly reveals that you understand my goal–a specific term for every view. If Adam could name all the animals, we should be able to name all the theological positions.

      Norm Miller

      Actually, Rick, I am almost loathe to cite C’ism as 2 or 3 or however many points. Along my Christian and theological sojourn, I have been asked about my soteriological views. And the astute inquisitor would hear my positions and try to classify me as this or that level of calvinist. And my response always has been, “No, I am a no-point Calvinist. However, If Calvin and I agree on any biblical views, that does not make me a Calvinist; it makes Calvin a biblicist like me.”
      Of course, our Sitz im Leben necessitates a refinement of all our views; thus, your two-part treatise on Savabilism.

        Lydia

        “Actually, Rick, I am almost loathe to cite C’ism as 2 or 3 or however many points. ”

        Thank you Norm!!! That is getting old. It has almost reached cultic proportions. I cannot tell you how many 3pters I have met in the last few years. Seriously?

        Johnathan Pritchett

        Me too.

        I am happy to consider myself a zero point Calvinist, because it is a bit ridicolous to define one’s theology as this or that modified agreement with this or that point of Calvinism.

        I find none of the points of Calvinism as they are defined particularly useful or helpful in explaining my soteriology, and I would guess part of the reason a name is being tossed about goes back to not defining one’s theology in contrast or divergence from Calvinism.

          Norm Miller

          Candidly, Johnathan, I cannot fathom why anyone would want to identify with a man who posits that God has predestined some people to hell, and has done so for his good pleasure. And I am all but vehemently against my theology being defined by how it measures as compared to Calvin, some of whose followers and devotees murdered our Baptist forebears. Let our theology be formed by the reading of the Scripture and the enlightening ministry of the Holy Spirit.
          It is also good to remember that someone here at the blog posited that theology is man’s study of God. And since we are totally depraved (but not totally debilitated, spiritually), a man-centered efforts must also be flawed and fallen.

            Johnathan Pritchett

            Indeed.

            The Traditional Statement read: “It is no longer helpful to identify ourselves by how many points of convergence we have with Calvinism.”

            I would have said “it is most unwelcome to identity ourselves by how many points of convergence we have with Calvinism.” But that is just me. :)

              dr. james willingham

              But Johnathan: What do you with those Calvinists from 1787-1800 who developed the idea that folks who disagreed on theology should and could work together, like “the preaching that Christ tasted death for every man shall be no bar to communion”? And then there was the Mt. Pisgah Baptist Church organized in 1814 under articles of faith which stated that Christ died for the church, not a word about Him dying for the whole world, and that church had messengers at the Sandy Creek Association in 1816, when Luther Rice enlisted them in the Great Century of Missions. After that they sent out the first missionary to China that Southern Baptists had, Matthew Tyson Yates. And Luther Rice thought election and predestination were in the Bible and that one ought to preach on those truths as well as those that called on men to believe on Christ. In fact, he was rather insistent that one had better preach on it.

            dr. james willingham

            While I acknowledge and recognize the verses where God says that He takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked, I also recognize the verses where His word speaks of them “as natural brute beasts, made to be taken and destroyed,”(II Pet.2:12) and of “them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed.”(I Pet.2:8). Even these verses, as far as I am concerned, are invitations for man to face his inability and to beg as the man did after Jesus came down from the mountain, “Lord, help my unbelief.” No part of the book we call the Bible is to be excluded from being invitations to be saved on God’s terms, even the parts that sound so terrible as those cited above or those that are most boring like the genealogies. Jonah came preaching a totally negative message, forty days and Nineveh shall be overthrown, and he did not want to see a single person saved and yet he expected, quite rightly, that God would spare that city, even using his totally negative message to that end and purpose which is precisely what happened. The same could be said for any of the doctrines suggested by the TULIP acrostic along with predestination and reprobation, for each of these doctrines is an invitation to take the Sovereign God as He is and on His terms.

              Norm Miller

              How is unconditional election to hell (Calvin’s predestination) an invitation to be saved? According to Calvin, the offer does not even exist, much less the possibility.

                dr. james willingham

                My, Norm, but I never said I was a follower of John Calvin per se. In fact, I became a believer in the doctrines of grace long before I ever read any of John Calvin’s writings. In any case, John Gill gives a better answer in his Body of Divinity and Commentaries. He wrote that God decreed to damn no man but for sin, nor did he decree to damn any but for sin. I think that quote is right. My books are still in boxes, but it is close enough. God is not a being we can put in our little boxes of theology and expect Him to jump through the hoops at our command. Even so, I do believe that the choice is unconditional on God’s part for salvation, and while His choice is involved in the process of damnation, it is cognizant of man’s sin. In salvation, there is no recognition of any thing of man – not of works lest any man should boast.” Any one who has freedom of choice can boast, and they do boast of their choice to follow God.

      Robert Vaughn

      Rick,

      Some of the comments below discuss about whether to describe oneself by the number of points of Calvinism. But that was not my point in mentioning “two points”. Just trying some shorthand in relation to the original discussion. I have a little booklet by IFB Curtis Hutson called Why I Disagree with all Five Points of Calvinism. He held total depravity (or something like it) and eternal security, but wanted to make the point that he didn’t believe those two in the way Calvinists believed them (all assuming my memory of reading this is correct!).

      Maybe I am sensitive to this because I was brought up among Baptists who professed to believe in total depravity and eternal security (or “once saved, always saved”). These men preached and taught “total depravity” in a way that was different from what Adam Harwell, for example, presents in his booklet Born Guilty. Ultimately it may come out the same in the wash. Children are sinners, born guilty, but “safe” until they reach the age of accountability. I am not trying to argue this is right or wrong, or a better or worse position. But I think this is still a common view, and think it deserves a distinction of its own.

      Hope this helps.

Bill Mac

Rick: Under the savabilist paradigm, what is election?

    Rick Patrick

    Bill Mac,

    Generally, election would not be viewed as God unconditionally choosing individuals. Rather, God both desires and has elected to save all those who meet His conditions of repentance and faith. Predestination would be associated with foreknowledge rather than any kind of causative or deterministic view. Again, the key distinction between Savabilism and Arminianism is really the petal of Perseverance, with Arminians making this negotiable while Savabilists are uncompromisingly committed to it.

    Johnathan Pritchett

    I would say that in general, anyone not a Calvinist understands election for whatever to primarily be corporate and regarding service. For the elect in Christ, “salvation” is included within that, but salvation and election are not synonymous terms.

    Lack of precision is a big problem in Protestant Evangelicalism in general, and not just in the names for soteriological positions. From the scholars to the pastors to the pews, there is way too much sloppiness and reductionism in the discussions. Election becomes salvation. Salvation becomes justification. Then, one could conclude from this lack of precision that election is justification and so then we are off in the theological ditch. I see it all the time.

Daniel Wilcox

Rick,

Fascinating and powerful terms and explanation. I especially like savabilist.

But I don’t understand the “free offer of the Good News” to everyone in #2 and its subsets. If we are born incapable (T), have been unconditionally elected (U),
and Jesus died only for a limited number (L), and we can only be saved by being irresistibly being drawn (I),
HOW
can God give everyone a “free offer of the Good News” because by the definitions of TULI, it is impossible for us to accept?

This seems like so much double talk to me. If you offer everyone a million dollars, but we are unable to accept it because you haven’t provided a way for us to get the money, then it doesn’t really seem like a real offer.

This is why I think the high Calvinists are the most honest and respectable because they, from the start, own up to their theological conclusions.

    Bill Mac

    Daniel: If I’m reading Rick’s post correctly, high calvinists believe in the free offer of the Gospel.

    Rick Patrick

    Daniel,

    I actually agree with what you have written about the “free offer of the gospel” more or less collapsing into monergism. How can it be freely offered if their response has been settled by God before the foundation of the earth?

    However, I think what Calvinists may mean by that phrase is that since we don’t know whether a prospect is elect or not, we will share a “free (or well meant) offer of the Good News.” This distinguishes the High Calvinist from the Fatalist, or Hyper-Calvinist, who does not even bother with the sharing of the gospel, since whatever is supposed to happen will invariably happen.

    My purpose in defining these views was actually to express what each person claims to believe themselves, without offering much in the way of commentary concerning whether or not I buy into all of the claims.

Ron F. Hale

Rick,
I applaud your desire for clarity and understanding. Many have not joined the ongoing conversation out of a lack of understanding of the terms in the theological labyrinth that has been constructed since the reformation. Blessings!

Daniel Wilcox

Patrick,

Thanks for the quick reply.

And, by the way, what about the difference between those who think all babies are elect versus those who don’t such as the Puritan Simon Wigglesworth. In his famous American poem “The Day of Doom,” Wigglesworth says that non-elect infants will go to Hell, but to the least bad portion of Hell. As an American literature teacher, I taught this poem to many students over the years.

CLXVI.
1321: Then to the Bar all they drew near Reprobate Infants plead for themselves. Rev. 20:12,15, compared with Rom. 5:12,14 and 9:11,13. Ezek. 18:2.
1322: Who died in infancy,
1323: And never had or good or bad
1324: effected pers’nally;
1325: But from the womb unto the tomb
1326: were straightway carriéd,
1327: (Or at the least ere they transgress’d)
1328: who thus began to plead:
………….

CLXXX.
1433: “You sinners are, and such a share Psal. 58:8. Rom. 6:23. Gal. 3:10. Rom. 8:29,30 and 11:7. Rev. 21:27. Luke 12:14,8. Mat. 11:22.
1434: as sinners may expect,
1435: Such you shall have, for I do save
1436: none but mine own Elect.
1437: Yet to compare your sin with their
1438: who liv’d a longer time,
1439: I do confess yours is much less,
1440: though every sin’s a crime.

CLXXXI.
1441: “A crime it is, therefore in bliss The wicked all convinced and put to silence. Rom. 3:19. Mat. 22:12.
1442: you may not hope to dwell;
1443: But unto you I shall allow
1444: the easiest room in Hell.”

“The easiest room in Hell”

I know I am adding more complications, but I find it very intriguing that it seems many modern Calvinists claim all infants are elect, but this was not so historically, at least not in the case of Calvinists such as Wigglesworth.

Hi Bill,
Thanks for pointing out my error. I should have said “some” high Calvinists.

    Rick Patrick

    Daniel,

    Thanks for the poem. I’ll be sure to read it the next time we have Baby Dedications, or perhaps at the funeral of a young child. It’s a doctrine I cannot possibly fathom. I also was not previously conversant with the concept of hell’s “easier rooms.” Hell cannot possibly be a place of blessings, even minor ones.

    Peter’s discussions over at SBCTomorrow are handling this topic of infant damnation quite well, not to mention the article by Gerald Harris. I hope we will continue to press the point, respectfully, that our “time of tension” is clearly not over, and the issues that concern us are worthy of discussion.

    My interest in these two posts on “Words With Friends” is merely to get past all the name calling in order that our conversation might proceed with a more civil tone than it has sometimes engendered in the past.

dr. james willingham

The problem with titles is that even when individuals make use of them, they do not pit the stereotypes that many have in mind as the description of such adherents. For example, my ordaining pastor would tell you from the pulpit and in personal conversation that he was a supralapsarian hyper calviniwt, yet he was an intensely evangelistic minister. He once pleaded with a member of my family to look to Christ for salvation until tears ran down the cheeks of my relative’s face. Across his many years in the ministry, Dr. Ernest R. Campbell preached many revivals across the South. In one country church he had 100 conversions, and when I preached there 40 years later, a deacon from the FBC of Augusta, came to the homecoming and told me that he had been converted in that revival. Dr. Campbell also had a great number of men called into the ministry during His service, including at that time, the pastor of the FBC of Augusta. The latter had answered the call, when Dr. Campbell was pastor of the FBC of Hialeah,Florida. While pastor of Hialeah, Dr. Campbell founded the American Race Track Chaplaincy (cf. Who’s Who in Religion, 2nd edn. Chicago: Marquis Pubs., 1977). Dr. Robert G. Lee thought so much of Dr. Campbell who had been his Associate Pastor at Bellevue at one time, that he put it in his will for Dr. Campbell to preach his funeral, the only participant in the funeral (there were about 5 or 6) named in the will. And then there is Dr. James Petigru Boyce, who, if memory serves correctly, identified his position as that of being supralapsarian. Likewise, the Charleston Baptist Association recommended to its pastors the works of Dr. John Gill, a supralapsarian. Gill and his church were noted for their support of the great Evangelist George Whitefield. Now take the Arminian John Wesley. He wrote a letter in response to Whitefield ‘s efforts to bring unity between the leaders of the Awakening, that he could believe some were indeed chosen of God to salvation and that some would reach a state from which they would never fall. Both men left a bit of humor behind them about the whole deal. Both said they did not expect to see the other one in Heaven. Why because the other one would be so close to the throne and the other so far away that the latter could not see the former. As my pastor who baptized and licensed me said, “It is a tempest in a teapot.”7

dr. james willingham

first line above, “they do not fit the stereotypes…”

Ben Simpson

1) If Dr. Allen is correct in his assertion that John Calvin didn’t espouse limited atonement, is it really accurate then to call those that do limited atonement “Calvinists”? Calvin, according to Allen, was an Amyraldian when looking through Rick’s lens.

2) It’s interesting that the only label that is intrinsically positive is “Savabilist.” All the others are intrinsically neutral (Calvinist, Amyraldian, Molinist, Arminian, and Semi-Pelagian), except for “Fatalist,” which is meant to be intrinsically negative, I think. As I said Tuesday, I’d suggest a neutral term for the “Savabilist” position, perhaps “Hankinsian,” or get ready for others to join the polemical label game. If the latter happens, I might opt for my position to be called “Gracianism” and “Gracian.” (The terms “Gracism” and “Gracist” would actually be better, but they probably sound too close to negative words.) If everybody switched to a new positive, polemical name, what would the Calvinist, Amyraldian, Molinist, Arminian, and Semi-Pelagian switch to? This should be fun! I’ll post my ideas in a bit.

    Rick Patrick

    Ben,

    Regarding point 1, you are right. Calvin was not a Calvinist. In my first draft, I had him listed as the example, but switched it to Dr. Mohler.

    Regarding point 2, Savabilist is not intended to be “intrinsically positive” to use your term. It is intended to be accurate. (When I refer to a term being “positive” in my post, I am speaking about the absence of prefixes like “anti” and “non.” I am not assigning any sort of value to the term.)
    If a Calvinist wanted to be called a Gracist, I would object on the same basis as their objection to Traditionalist. Savabilists believe in grace and do not want the term taken away exclusively for the use of others.

    The difference is this: Calvinists are NOT Savabilists. If I witness to my neighbor, I believe he can truly be saved if he is willing to repent and believe. God has not determined the outcome ahead of time causatively. However, the true Calvinist MUST BELIEVE that he can only be saved if God has predetermined that he is among the elect and therefore will irresistibly respond at some point in his life on earth with repentance and faith. The difference is that I do indeed believe in God’s grace, while Calvinists do not believe in the savability of every person.

    Ben Simpson

    Rick,

    You said, “Savabilists believe in grace and do not want the term taken away exclusively for the use of others.” I say back to you that Gracians (aka. Calvinists) believe in the savability of all of mankind and balk at the term being taken away exclusively for the use of others. Gracians fully believe that there is not one person who outside of the savable reach of God of God’s grace. Every single person is savable according to the Gracian schema. Futhermore, Gracians fully believe that if we witness to our neighbor, he can truly be saved if he repents and believes.

    Again, the issue is that your label pits Savabilists against UnSavabilists. Your label automatically forces those that don’t agree with you to say that there are people in this world that are unsavable. It’s the same dilemma with Pro-Life. It automatically forces those who disagree to be labeled as Pro-Death or Anti-Life. So, then those folks must take up polemical labels and relabel themselves Pro-Choice, which then automatically forces those who disagree to be labeled as Pro-Constraint or Anti-Choice. It’s a lose-lose approach.

    Therefore, if we continue down this path, get ready for those who feel they are being labeled UnSavabilists to begin calling themselves something like Gracians, which will then cause you to feel like you are being labeled “Worksian.”

      Rick Patrick

      Ben,

      I have to agree with Daniel below. True Calvinists don’t really believe in the SAVABILITY of all mankind.

      If a Calvinist says that Joe Smith across the street is SAVABLE, what he means is that Joe is savable IF GOD HAS ELECTED JOE TO BE SAVED, but that Joe is most definitely NOT savable IF GOD HAS NOT ELECTED JOE TO BE SAVED. The Calvinist witnesses to Joe because he doesn’t know if Joe is among the elect and therefore savable or if he is not among the elect and therefore not savable.

      On the other hand, if a Savabilist says that Joe Smith across the street is SAVABLE, what he means is that Joe can be saved if Joe believes and that Joe can believe if Joe chooses to respond in repentance and faith, without the matter being divinely determined. This is true SAVABILITY. Any person can be saved. It denies both unconditional election and irresistible grace. I just don’t see how the Calvinist can truly embrace it.

      Therefore, I don’t find the analogy of GRACIAN and SAVABILIST to be an accurate one at all, for one truly has to surrender one’s Calvinism to become a Savabilist.

        RD Magee

        It would seem the difference would be
        * Calvinists believe all men can be saved and would be saved if God sovereignly willed it so, but He doesn’t. Therefore, the reason why any person is and will be in heaven is because of God’s choice, thus Salvation is ultimately in God’s hands.
        * Savabilists believe all men can be saved and would be saved if all men willed it so for themselves (by personally repenting and believing), but all don’t. Therefore, the reason why any person is and will be in heaven is because of man’s choice (individuals), thus Salvation is ultimately in man’s (the individual’s) hands.

          Ben Simpson

          RD, thanks for highlighting one of the main differences between Gracians & Savabilists: for Gracians, the power unto salvation is from Godwhile for the Savabilists, the power unto salvation is from man.

            Norm Miller

            That is not true, Ben. At least the latter half of your statement. Rick has made the Savabilist position clear, and nowhere can one extrapolate that Savabilists believe that man has the power of salvation. Do you really believe what you said — that for Savabilists, the power of salvation is man’s? I think you have unintentionally mispoken and would ask you to clarify your remark.

              dr. james willingham

              Well, Norm, at some point do you not allow for man to have the power to make the decision, the ultimate decision, about his salvation? Those who hold with Sovereign Grace put that decision with God, the only one with the wherewithal to make it. If I am wrong, please enlighten me.

                Norm Miller

                If man has the power of salvation, the Eph. 2.8-9 is a lie. Man has the ability to choose God’s salvation, who alone can save.
                This is both a semantical and theological issue. So much has been written about it today and in recent days on this blog that I care not to engage in a point that even was settled by Dr. Patrick today.

                  dr. james willingham

                  Ah, Norm, but the issue is not quite settled by Dr. Patrick as you might think. Ephs.2:8,9, declares, “For by grace are you saved through faith and that not of yourselves (the faith is not of yourselves), it (the faith is the gift and, yes, I know about the arguments about it referring to grace and salvation and etc., but I also know that the neuter gender can be so used and was so used in other passages, plus I have the examples of our Lord saying have the faith that comes from God, of God, the genitive of source, Mk.11:22) is the gift of God (look at Phil.1:29, “it is given you in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe…..” Not of works, lest any should boast. And then there is the causative verb in Ps.65:4 and the causation of love in I Jn.4:19, and there are verses which speak of God’s choice. The leper even appealed to God’s Sovereign choice in Luke 5:12, “If you will, you can make me whole.” And then there is the issue stated by the man with the demon possessed son, who said to Jesus, “If you can do any thing, have compassion on us, and help us.” (Mk.9:22) and our Lord answered, “If you can believe,….” The man answered, “Lord, I believe, help my unbelief.” O really, his unbelief. he found faith impossible, so much so, that he begged Jesus for help, and our Lord helped him. Man’s inability is the first lesson in salvation. When one realizes his lack of power to respond, then he cries out for help, for mercy, for grace.

            Ben Simpson

            Norm,

            Norm,

            When I said that for Savabilists, the power unto salvation is from man, I am not stating that man is his own savior. I simply trying to capture what Rick said in part 1 when he said, “A Savabilist believes God has given to every person the ability to respond to the Holy Spirit’s drawing through the gospel, either by freely choosing to accept God’s grace or by freely choosing to resist it.” So, here we see clearly that Rick is stating that man is naturally able and has the power unto salvation within himself. For the Gracian, man is naturally unable to respond to God. There must be a supernatural enabling from God. Therefore the power unto salvation for the Gracian is from God.

            Did that clarify my statement?

              Norm Miller

              Not fully clarified. I still have problems with this interpretation of yours:
              “So, here we see clearly that Rick is stating that man is naturally able and has the power unto salvation within himself.”
              Rick does not believe that, and has not stated it as you say he has. Your interpretation of Rick is not Rick.
              Rick has addressed the fallacy of the unfortunate and inaccurate name Dr. Mohler called us, semi-pelagian. Re-reading that section would be instructive at this point.

            RD Magee

            Maybe it is the idea of “power” unto salvation that is not correct. Maybe the best way to say it is
            “Calvinists believe all those in heaven are there ultimately by God’s choice.”
            “Savabilists believe all those in heaven are their ultimately by their own choice.”

            The issue of “power” really centers on the differences between the two on the ability of man. Savabilists believe man has the ability (power) after the fall of man to come to Christ in response to the Spirit’s drawing. The Spirit draws, convicts, but does not act to regenerate until the man in his Spirit convicted, fallen state willingly responds by repentance and faith. Calvinists believe man does not have the ability (power) after the fall of man to come to Christ even in response to the Spirit’s drawing unless when the Spirit draws, convicts, He also effectually calls someone by regenerating that person. Thus, the regenerated, sinful man willfully responds by repentance and faith.

            Johnathan Pritchett

            Ben, this is incorrect. I would say it is a strawman.

            Both Gracians and Savabilists believe that the power unto salvation is from God.

            What the Savabilist would say differently than the Gracian is that man has a free choice in his conversion.

            Salvation and conversion are not identical. The “power” necessary in salvation is all on God, for all the reasons I stated in a response to the first post in this series. To perhaps say “choice” is a power in conversion fails as well, because choice is not a power the way God’s power is used in activities related to salvation. God’s power in salvation is a supernatural power qua power, man’s choice in regards to conversion is mere volitional ability pertaining to the normal manner of morally accountable and rational creatures. Separate categories of activity. To insist otherwise is a categorical error and an equivocation fallacy on the one who would insist such.

              dr. james willingham

              Now Johnathan: Ps.65:4 uses the hiphil verb, the causative verb, which my Hebrew professor with a doctorate from Oxford admitted, saying, “You are right,” after asking me why I believed in irresistible grace, KJV, “causes to approach”. I had never said a word about believing such in that class, and so his question was remarkable. But he never again said another word to me about such beliefs.

            Ben Simpson

            Johnathan, conversion & salvation are separate? No, no, my brother. To be converted is to be saved!

            You say that I’ve created a straw man by saying that for Savabilists the power unto salvation is of man. Answer me this one question: Since Savabilists believe that God will put forth his maximum power to save every person, why are not all people saved?

              Norm Miller

              Gracians? I have no need of your ‘Gracian Formula.’ My hair is a lovely brown. ;^>

                dr. james willingham

                Well, Norm, not now, of course, but, later, when your lovely brown has begun to turn to gray. A light moment for all of us, undoubtedly, will be at that moment, when you have to have some that gracian formula

            Johnathan Pritchett

            Ben writes: “Johnathan, conversion & salvation are separate? No, no, my brother. To be converted is to be saved!”

            To be converted is to be saved. Sure, but that gainsays nothing I have said regarding the matter that conversion and salvation are not identical things, and you failed to interact with previously mentioned comments to demonstrate why this is incorrect. So, I can affirm your statement, and maintain my position on the matter since your statement is just a truism.

            “Answer me this one question: Since Savabilists believe that God will put forth his maximum power to save every person, why are not all people saved?”

            I can not answer for everyone as to why they respond to the Spirit favorably or unfavorably regarding Christ when presented with the Gospel and the convicting work of the Holy Spirit (though Stephen attributed stiffneck-ness to some Jews on THEIR part, but not to God’s lack of doing or providing something on their behalf), nor can I speak for God’s efforts and the distribution of them to every individual, nor even answer for the Savabilist position since I have not adopted it for myself at this point.

            However, if you are fishing to try to “saddle” me with a retort along the lines of “so you think some people are better/smarter/whatever” than others, feel free. That isn’t how I would nuance it, but go ahead. It is what you are looking for isn’t it?

            Why would I even say “go ahead” though? Does that not open me up to bombastic (though irrelevant) theological platitudes to be tossed my way regarding the sinfulness of sin, the depravity and worthless minds of people, and the grace of God (as if I didn’t account or consider those things)?

            Well, because…I do, in fact, think it is “smarter” to receive Christ than to reject Him, “better” to respond favorably to the Spirit than to resist Him, or whatever else you are fishing for along those lines. Do you not?

            Do you think rejecting Jesus is “smarter”, “better”, or whatever than receiving Him?

            See, I can use misleading, un-nuanced, well-poisoning rhetoric too, even if preemptively (though correctly, since this ain’t my first rodeo and I know for what you are fishing).

            I think rejecting God’s grace is pretty dumb, regardless of the reasons, and believe that people aren’t unreasonably-minded victims of their sin that makes them love darkness. Rather, they are willful criminals. They are also reasonable-enough creatures who can engage on these matters when Gospel and the convicting work of the Spirit comes to them (and neither Romans 1:18-32, nor 1 Cor. 2:14, etc. overturns this). Some either repent and believe, thus receiving Christ, and others toss God’s grace back in His face. Individuals are, after all, individuals, and no one answer is going to account for it all.

            Only the presupposition that there is no choice in the matter of conversion sees it otherwise, and since I reject that as a presupposition, that God operates that way, and that His image-bearers are helpless mental cripples who do not interact with the Spirit in an accountable way or interact with the Spirit at all (which is demanded on your view, since the Spirit does nothing for the non-elect in so far as producing a yes for Christ is concerned), I have no qualms with my position or rejecting yours and the bogus retorts that inevitably come my way when I state my position on why some do and some don’t…i.e. That I haven’t the slightest idea why “yes” or “no” regarding everyone.

            Since none of this, even in the un-nuanced terms you would come back at me with, does anything to overturn grace (and what grace ACTUALLY is in a Biblical context) or whatever non-argument or empty, non-Biblical theological platitude you wish to toss in my direction because I think this, thus, I consider the shots I know you are fishing for the opportunity to take to be a trivial and silly line of argumentation. Certainly, there are a myriad of life factors in addition to the Gospel presentation and the Spirit’s work as to why I converted by receiving Christ that differ from yours, and the same could be said of those as to why they reject Christ.

            Ben Simpson

            Johnathan,

            This isn’t your first rodeo for sure. By the way, I love your big red shoes!

            It’s a shame that you spent all that time bloviating about something that I wasn’t even aiming at, but you nevertheless demonstrated what I was hoping for.

            The point that I’ve been put tying forth is that for Savabilists, the power unto salvation is from man. You said that was incorrect & a strawman. So, I asked: Since Savabilists believe that God will put forth his maximum power to save every person, why are not all people saved?

            You responded, “I can not answer for everyone as to why they respond to the Spirit favorably or unfavorably regarding Christ when presented with the Gospel and the convicting work of the Holy Spirit (though Stephen attributed stiffneck-ness to some Jews on THEIR part, but not to God’s lack of doing or providing something on their behalf)” There you have it! God can do everything within His power according to His will, and it can avail nothing unless man exercises his natural power. As you said, it has nothing to do with God’s lack of doing or providing on their behalf. So, the power unto salvation for the Savabilists (and for Savabilists like you who aren’t comfortable with the label yet) is located in man. This shouldn’t upset you that I point this out. In fact, you should say, “Amen” because God’s fairness is upheld, which is really important to Savabilists.

            Johnathan Pritchett

            “There you have it! God can do everything within His power according to His will, and it can avail nothing unless man exercises his natural power.

            I stated what Luke recorded Stephen saying, and pointed out what wasn’t said in a particular text.

            “As you said, it has nothing to do with God’s lack of doing or providing on their behalf.”

            No, I pointed out that Luke didn’t mention Stephen saying anything about it when they rejected his message, resisted the Holy Spirit, and then stoned him..

            “So, the power unto salvation for the Savabilists (and for Savabilists like you who aren’t comfortable with the label yet) is located in man.”

            Not at all. Your equivocation and categorical errors show up again, and you have yet to do business with why this is not even remotely the case to show otherwise.

            Ben, either you need to do business with the differences I have laid out between conversion and salvation to which I referred earlier, or, you should pack it up and go home. Do not keep on asserting we believe something we don’t when you completely fail to show how this follows. Or, I will insist you believe God is the author of all sin and evil. Yes, what you are doing is that annoying. It is in bad form, bro.

            P.S. There is ONLY one standard Calvinist follow-up retort to any answer given to the Calvinist question of “what’s the difference between…” and it has nothing to do with some notion of man’s “ability” in general, since that wasn’t your question. So, however bogus that retort you had lined up is, as I ruthlessly caricatured, it was what you were aiming at. You know it. I know it. That will be enough, regardless of any future protests on your part. ;)

            Johnathan Pritchett

            Here’s some theater to illustrate my point.

            Calvinist: Since Savabilists believe that God will put forth his maximum power to save every person, why are not all people saved?

            Me: I am not a Savabilist, can’t speak on God’s distribution of power and efforts…but I would say that not everyone is saved because not everyone believes.

            Calvinist: Why doesn’t everyone believe? Is it because God decided to not save everyone, or because man didn’t exercise his ability to respond to grace.

            Me: Because God decided to save those who believe, and decided to not save those who reject Jesus.

            Calvinist: You didn’t answer me question. Why do some believe and not others.

            Me: Because some responded to grace by receiving it via repentance and faith, others rejected it.

            Calvinist: What is the difference between those who respond to God’s grace via repentance and faith and those who do not?

            Me: I don’t know, you’d have to ask everyone.

            Calvinist: Oh, so you think those who received God’s grace via repentance and faith are somehow smarter/better/whatever than everyone else?

            That is exactly where that goes…

            Been there, done that.

            Okay then.

            Norm Miller

            Again, Ben, the power unto salvation is not from man. The Gospel is the power unto salvation. You know this, and you know that I know and beleive this. Please don’t try to pin such a falsity on anyone. Whereas I think I understand what you are implying about Savabilists, I think your understanding of the position is wrong.
            Look at it this way, as I do: I want to turn on my living room lamp, but I see it is unplugged. If I want to empower the light, what do I do? And where is the power that actually makes the light work?
            Of course, all analogies break down, but thinking of this one from this Savabilist’s perspective explains a good bit of my foundational soteriology. I think we are smart enough to see how the analogy applies and also may fail at certain points. But what I don’t intend to do is to debate the analogy or the point that you have repeatedly attributed to Savabilists. I think it cannot be made any clearer.

            Johnathan Pritchett

            Nothing wrong with that analogy, Norm. While there are both good and bad analogies, yours is a good one because it makes the point you wanted to make. Namely, that the power isn’t within you. I would hope no one would argue with the analogy, because arguing peripheral things in an analogy that have nothing to do with the point being illustrated is foolishness and uninteresting because it is irrelevant to the point the analogy was used to make.

            Brilliant people use analogies. Foolish people try to “break down” analogies by arguing against an analogy’s peripherals that were irrelevant to the singular point made with the analogy rather than arguing against the actual point made with the analogy to demonstrate why an analogy is a bad one. Demonstrating that the analogy doesn’t make the point it was intending to make is the only legitimate way to argue against an analogy.

            In order to defeat this analogy, one would have to argue that you internally possess electricity, making a socket to power the lamp irrelevant. If that were so, one could argue against your analogy as a bad one.

            Here is a bad way to argue against the analogy. “Norm, but you want to plug in the lamp on your own, but no one seeks God on their own, so your analogy doesn’t work.”

            The reason that does nothing to show the analogy is bad is because you never were making the point that your wanting to turn on the lamp is the same thing as seeking God on your own. So arguing against the analogy in such a way is foolishness. It is how either ignorant or stupid people try to feel smart, by attacking peripherals of an analogy because they can’t argue against the main point made of it, or argue against the actual issue the analogy was used to demonstrate.

            The point was that you are not a power source, and the incidentals to set up the analogy are only necessary to the analogy in order to set up and make the point it was intending to make, and not to make other points it was never intending to make, Sadly, people who argue against analogies in a foolish way are either ignorant because they don’t understand these things from a lack of teaching, or because they are just too stupid to understand the what and why of analogies regardless of whether or not they’ve ever been taught how to argue against or use analogies.

            Good analogy, my friend. Brilliant people use good analogies to make points.

            Ben Simpson

            Norm,

            Sorry for not being able to respond to your comment until now. I certainly wanted to do so prior to now but was travelling home from West Virginia and then caught up on home stuff that had been neglected while I was gone. Furthermore, I’ve not interacted here like I would have liked to over the weekend. I mostly had zero phone coverage there in WV and no internet connection. And even when I did get a little sliver of mobile data, it’s so frustrating trying to interact on a blog through a phone. I don’t care how smart it is!

            As for your analogy, I think it is perfect and very well might demonstrate that you are brilliant, as Johnathan opined. You have perfectly captured the Savabilist soteriology. You said, “I want to turn on my living room lamp, but I see it is unplugged. If I want to empower the light, what do I do? And where is the power that actually makes the light work?”

            However, your analogy illustrates the point that I’ve been making. Perhaps I wasn’t clear on the point I was trying to make. I know that you, Norm, are a man with a strong grip on the English language given your profession and training. Therefore, you undoubtedly understand prepositions well. I never said that for Savabilists, the power OF salvation is from man. Obviously, the power of salvation for Savabilists is from God. That’s true for Gracians as well. You illustrated this well in your analogy when you implied by your second question that the power that actually makes the light work is from the power company, which is analogous to the power that actually makes salvation work being from God. So, I agree with you 100% that the power OF salvation is from God.

            However, I wasn’t talking about the power OF salvation. I was talking about the power UNTO salvation. In other words, I was talking about how I get plugged into the power of salvation, to utilize your analogy. So, as I said, for Savabilists, the power UNTO salvation is from man. Your analogy perfectly illustrates this fact. You said, “I want to turn on my living room lamp, but I see it is unplugged. If I want to empower the light, what do I do?” Your implied answer is: in order to receive the power of electricity, I must plug my lamp cord into the electric outlet. The power of electricity is right there waiting for me to plug into it, but I’ll never experience a lit light until I plug in my cord. I could be trained in how to plug in a lamp cord; I could receive a thousand postcards in the mail encouraging me to plug in my lamp and even diagramming how to plug in my lamp; the electric company could even send a technician to my door to show me how to plug in my lamp, but again, I’ll never experience a lit light until I plug in my cord. Therefore, the power unto the power of electricity is in the one who must plug in the lamp cord, namely me.

            It’s the same way with Savabilist soteriology. In order to receive the power of salvation, a person must exercise his or her power unto the power of salvation. God has done everything in His power to save individuals, even commanding evangelists to preach to individuals and then drawing individuals by the Holy Spirit, but no one is saved unless an individual exercises his or her own power unto salvation. Now, Savabilists want to minimize this power by saying that this is not actually a power, but it is a great power. Therefore, I conclude again that the power UNTO salvation for the Savabilists is from man. Man is the deciding factor. The power unto the power of salvation is in the one who must plug into the power of salvation, namely man.

            Again, this shouldn’t upset Savabilists. In fact, you should “Amen” me because it’s so important to you for God to be fair and for man to be self-determining. From the Savabilist schema, God is fair by giving the power of salvation to every person, and man is self-determining by controlling the power unto salvation.

            On the contrary, for the Gracian, the power of salvation and the power unto salvation are both from God. God both provides the opportunity for salvation and completes the transaction of salvation for those whom He has chosen to be gracious to. Savabilists believe that this understanding injures the character of God and the being of man, but Gracians glory in it.

              Norm Miller

              Thx, Ben, for the tenor of your remarks. I trust God blessed in the revival meetings in W.Va. We prayed for you.
              RE “power of” and “power unto,” I see the distinction, but I think it is one without a significant difference in the final analysis. I also think what you posit is largely a semantical issue — one of nomenclature. You call it “power unto” and I call it free choice.
              to-MAY-to / to-MAH-to.
              One nuance for me, here, is that my decision to “plug into the power” is an exercise of my will and has no salvific value until the electrodes make contact. Some Cals may think that is a work, and others may think I could not do that unless empowered by God. I say neither is the case. God calls, I answer. I believe my response to God’s call is neither the power of or unto salvation. I am not saved before or on my way to repentance and faith — only after those two things, which I believe are represented in my picking up the plug and shoving it into the outlet.
              What I do believe is that none of that happens unless God in his mercy and grace, gets my spiritual attention. He woos me. It is not a shotgun wedding. He asks, “Will you?” I say, “I will.” (Or, “I won’t.”)
              As I continue to say here, it all gets back to total depravity, which I embrace, but do not define as total inability.
              Candidly, I think it suits a Calvinist/Gracian to define a Savabilist as you have/do. However, it is uncomfortable for me for you to do that because it implies something different than I believe about the salvific transaction. Thus, the need for accurate and specific theological categories so we can move the discussion forward — as Rick has noted so well.
              Welcome home. — Norm

            Ben Simpson

            Johnathan,

             First off, you said that I didn’t do business with the differences you have laid out between conversion and salvation to which you referred earlier.  I have no idea where you laid this out.  Perhaps you could provide a link or a quote that I might interact with.  From what I can see here, you simply asserted that “choice is not a power the way God’s power is used in activities related to salvation” and then declared that I was making a category error.  Just because choice is not a power the way God’s power is used in activities related to salvation doesn’t mean it’s not a power still.  What’s more, self-determiniation is a great power.

            Second, I would encourage you to read my response in this thread to Norm at 03-09-2013, 13:50 to see how I believe his analogy actually makes my point.

             Finally, it’s hard to believe that you have enough to time write a skit trying to argue against an argument I wasn’t making.  What’s more, your skit actually demonstrated the point that I’m making.  For you and the Savabilists (whether you are one or not, this is true of both of you), the power UNTO salvation is from man.  In your skit in response to the question “Why do some believe and others do not?”, you had yourself finally say after beating around the bush and ignoring the question, “Because some responded to grace by receiving it via repentance and faith, others rejected it.”  There you have it!  Man is the deciding factor in your soteriology, making the power UNTO salvation from man.  Refer to my comment to Norm that I pointed you to a moment ago to see the difference between power UNTO salvation and power OF salvation.

              Norm Miller

              Ben: I would remind you that I, too, think you are making a categorical error. When I exercise what former Calvinist Ronnie Rogers calls “otherwise choice,” there is nothing salvific about that. The light doesn’t come on till the light is plugged in. The power unto salvation flows from only one direction, here. When I repent and exercise faith, God makes good on his promise and gives me salvation. You ‘categorically’ want to call that power unto salvation, and that implicitly smacks of the lost person somehow saving him/herself. And for you to continue to make that assertion is, frankly, brother, annoying. I asked you in a previous response to stop making that implication, or, perhaps more accurately, accusation. There is nothing salvific in me unless and until God puts it there. And this point leads to the ordo de salutis which Dr. Allen has addressed, biblically, to my complete satisfaction. Again, your point is semantical in my view. Again, I say, you call it power unto salvation, and I say it’s me exercising my libertarian free will. So, let’s follow the example of Dr. Patrick and try to get our nomenclature clear if any discussion can move forward.

                dr. james willingham

                Dear Norm: I fear you miss the point that there is no power to plug the cord into the socket. Jesus said, “you will not come to me” as well as “no one can come to me”. The clay can hardly tell the potter anything. In fact, the last time I checked, the clay could do only as the potter’s fingers directed.

                  Norm Miller

                  No, Jim, I am afraid you have missed the point. If Jesus doesn’t call, then, true, no one can come. that is to say, no one wakes up one morning and says, “Today, I will follow Christ.” As I have said to you and others before on this blog, and to you for what I hope is the last time, I believe that the Holy Spirit does woo a person. But, unlike Calvinists believe, I say that call can be resisted. I am not denying the verse you cite. So, please don’t again accuse me of missing the point. I think I shared this with you before: If I have a dinner party, you cannot come unless you receive an invitation from me. That illustration does no violence to the truth of the verse you cite. Asked, answered twice — and the last time, please, sir.

                    dr. james willingham

                    Dear Norm: You make my point about Jesus. He asks for the impossible, a therapeutic paradox which in itself carries the power to enable a response..(Mk.10)

                    Norm Miller

                    No, Jim, you make your point about Jesus. Not me.
                    I don’t tend to over-complicate scripture.

            Johnathan Pritchett

            Ben,

            First off, in an earlier reply to you above, I told you where it was: “Salvation and conversion are not identical. The “power” necessary in salvation is all on God, for all the reasons I stated in a response to the first post in this series.” This is second post in Rick Patrick’s series, so if you were confused when I provided you the location the first time…ah, well, it wasn’t that cryptic…you could have asked for clarification regarding where it was the first time I mentioned you look at it.

            I don’t believe I stated man has the power of self-determination, since that language is slippery. I believe we exercise a choice in conversion, that I have stated, as do Calvinists even. However you want to call it, you still equivocated on the word power in your contrast above, which is why I said that. Let’s say people do have the complete power of self-determination (whatever that means to you), it still wouldn’t be a power to or unto salvation, or really a power. As in, I am determined to respond to your post. It would just be volitional ability endowed by the Creator. As such, it would count as nothing, or nothing extraordinary to qualify as power, since any exercise of such ability in conversion would be due to the Spirit’s activity.

            Second, I read the reply, and you responded to the analogy in precisely the way I identified how foolish people argue with analogies, pretty much right down to the example I provided as well.

            Finally, it was not a poor use of my time. I can multitask with my smartphone, and what I was doing at the time while just sitting there reminded me a lot of the contents of your posts, so I thought to respond on a level you obviously understood since we are still talking about it.

            Again, your prepositions are a distinction without a difference, and this has been made clear. You may assert it, and you may conclude that it is the only logical outcome of our position. But, you would be wrong, and just as wrong as someone insisting that for you and the Calvinists, God is the author of all sin and evil.

            I beat around no bush. I stated what is the difference between the person who converts and the person who does not. Do you disagree with my answer? Does everyone receive it and repent and believe in your world? Does everyone reject Christ in your world? What exactly are you on about?

            P.S. I still think it was what you were aiming at, and you got your wings clipped before you could.

            ***—- But, if for you conversion is identical to salvation, and for us receiving God’s grace via a free choice is a man’s power ‘unto’ salvation, rather than ‘of’, fair enough.—-***

      Johnathan Pritchett

      I believe in the “Super Awesome, God-Exalting, Christ-Centered, Spirit-Infused Doctrines of Graces” (plural). Calvinists just believe in the “Doctrines of Grace” (singular). Therefore, I win. :)

      But that isn’t the issue here with the labels for the purpose to one-up other labels. Labels are useful, like jargon (in the good sense), so as to not have to repeat whole conversations in order to have a conversation.

      I stand by my earlier comments regarding the gripes about the label “Traditionalist”. It really had nothing to do with things of importance like historical or theological concerns; rather, it had to do with something petty, like envy since the label didn’t have a dead theologian’s name attached to it. I sense the same thing here.

      I would say that most Calvinists ascribe themselves the label Calvinists. It is a right of self-identity, freely chosen (hehe). I’ve seen many people gripe at Calvinists calling themselves that, saying lame things like “they follow a man, not God” and “they are like ‘I’m of Calvin’ the same way Paul decried in 1 Cor. 1:12”, blah, blah, blah, and I am quite certain that many Calvinists find those kinds of statements made by some their opponents even more annoying than I do.

      I say, pick any label one finds helpful, regardless of how those who differ feel about it, and everyone get over it already.

      Given all that, why should I care about anyone’s quibbles with some label or other? If a conversation can’t get past one’s gripes about the other person’s label, then such people are not worth the hassle of engaging in dialog about serious things.

      Ben, are you telling me that you’d sit there and continue to try to have a conversation with someone constantly blathering about how you follow Calvin and not Jesus or some such nonsense and can’t get off it? If so, you must not value your time all that much.

        dr. james willingham

        JOHNATHAN: I will take up the cudgels with you. I prefer the term Sovereign Grace, as it is the one that can be easily justified from Holy Scripture, Roms.5:21, “so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.” Reign refers to a sovereign, and in this case it is Sovereign Grace. Before John Calvin was ever born, much less born again, a Lollard was tried for heresy in England for his views on Predestination. In fact there were 350 prosecutions for heresy in the first 17 years of the 1500s. Luther posted his 95 theses in 1517 and Calvin was converted somewhere around 1525 and really got rolling after about 1530 (don’t quote me on the last part as it has been a while since I looked at the history of Calvin, but I am taking a stab at remembering). Anyway, I don’t feel any need to be called Calvinist, when a more biblical term exists, Sovereign or Reigning Grace. However, when one speaks in these areas, the term Calvinist crops up. Sometimes one just lets the term stand even though Calvin himself might not have gone so far on the issues as were developed by the time of the 1600s. In any case, the problem is that there are verses which fit every shade of theology on these issues that one can ask. One of the things I have found is that usually two ideas constitute a doctrine and they are apparently contradictory, cannot be reconciled, and are not meant to be reconciled. On the contrary, they are meant to be held in the mind, setting up a tension which enables one to be balanced, flexible, creative, constant, and magnetic. It has been my lot in life to find that most Calvinists had been the balanced, flexible, creative, constant, and magnetic people who get things done, while others grouse. My ordaining pastor, Dr. Ernest R. Campbell was a self described Supralapsarian Hyper Calvinist (His words from the pulpit and person to person), and he was about the most energetic go getter I ever seen. A soul winner, he pleaded with one of my relatives until tears ran down my relative’s face. Dr. Campbell founded the American Race Track Chaplaincy (cf. Who’s Who in Religion.2nd edn. Chicago: Marquis Pubs., 1977), and Dr., R.G. Lee thought so much of him that he put it in his will for Dr. Campbell to preach his funeral (Dr. Lee had at least five to speak, but the only one that was legal as Dr. Campbell use to laugh and say, “was me.”

        Ben Simpson

        Johnathan, are you taking issue with me discussing Rick’s label or as you said “quibbling” over it? Maybe in this long comment stream you have forgotten that his article is completely about theological labels and how they compare to his label “Savabilist.”

          Johnathan Pritchett

          I am taking issue with your misunderstanding the intent and purpose of Rick’s given label, given that many of your quibbles are not legitimate quibbles in my opinion. Since I disagree with many of the quibbles you have, I take issue with them.

Daniel Wilcox

Ben,

You say “Calvinists) believe in the savability of all of mankind.”
?

In 50 years of reading, discussing, debating, etc. Calvinists, I’ve never met a single Calvinist who who believed in the savability of all humankind.
The very definition of Calvinism for all the Calvinists is unconditional election, total depravity (in the sense of inability), irresistible grace.

Some Calvinists such as the assistant pastor here claimed to be 4.5 Calvinists, meaning that he didn’t agree with limited atonement. However, how the atonement be unlimited if unconditional election is believed? By definition, that means all of humankind isn’t savable.

The only exception to this would be universalism, but that is a very different form of Calvinism that most Calvinists themselves reject as not Calvinism.

    rhutchin

    Daniel writes, “You say “Calvinists) believe in the savability of all of mankind.”
    ?
    In 50 years of reading, discussing, debating, etc. Calvinists, I’ve never met a single Calvinist who who believed in the savability of all humankind.”

    Calvinists believe in the savability of all of mankind as Ben notes. That is because it is God who saves and God can save any and all.

    Calvinists do not believe that all will be saved – God has not elected to save all (but Calvinists would not complain if He did save all).

    Limited atonement is limited by God’s purpose and could be limited to “all.” The “limited” merely means that the number of the saved is determined by God and thereby limited. Dr. Willingham discusses this in his comment.

      Ben Simpson

      Very well said concerning the savability of every man, RHutchin!

        Daniel Wilcox

        Ben,

        RHutchin just said that we AREN’T savable because God himself “has not elected to save all.”

        Ben Simpson

        Daniel,

        But there is no person that God cannot elect. So, every single person is savable.

          Daniel Wilcox

          Ben,

          We’re not discussing what is theoretically possible but what DID God choose, according to Calvinists, in unconditional election–to NOT elect some individuals who are now therefore NOT savable.

          So every person is NOT savable, but only a limited number because of unconditional election.

            dr. james willingham

            Let a governor or president determine to forgive some or all of the inmates of a prison, and you folks will find you real quick that no one is pleased with that decision except possibly the person’s kin. I refer only to those who are truly guilty. And in the case of human beings being sinners, there is no doubt about the fact that they are all guilty and deserving of God’s wrath, especially after the come to the age of discretion or reason or accountability. God does not owe salvation to anyone; He has the right to send every sinner to Hell forever for their sins. I repeat all are guilty. That is what the word of God teaches. While God looks with mercy upon the infant and the embecile as they lack the wherewithal to determine what is right or wrong, He owes nothing to the grown sinner and yet He does offer salvation which is refused. And not a one would accept it, if it were not for His choice and grace prevenient and irresistible previous to their conversion. My conversion from Atheism was in such a fashion. Our Lord knocked at my heart’s door (Rev.3:20), and I fled. But two blocks from my home, I decided to tell me mother (and the only reason I can determine for that change was that the Lord did to me what He did to Lydia in Acts 16:14, “whose heart the Lord opened.” On Dec.7, 1957 I was a professing Atheist. Before that day passed into history, I had become a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ. I can still remember crying tears of joy as I felt the burden removed that I had not known I had until the moment of its removal. I was later introduced to the doctrines of grace during my first year of college, and I rejected them. My pastor who baptized me and licensed me, said it was all, “a tempest in a teapot.” My next pastor, my ordaining pastor, preached it, and he had converts and preachers by the score during his lifetime of ministry. R.G. Lee thought a lot of that man. I know.

          dr. james willingham

          Very good, Ben. Someone once quoted Spurgeon as saying that God could elect some more. I have never seen that statement, but I do know of his prayers for the conversion of the whole earth. cf below.

      Daniel Wilcox

      Rhutchin

      ?
      If God, before time began, by unconditional election chose NOT to save some of us, then we are NOT savable.

      dr. james willingham

      Interestingly enough, C.H. Spurgeon who held to the five points believed in the savability of all mankind as he prayed for such on August 6 and December 24 in his Evening by Evening Devotions. Funny, how one can go through a book and use it several times and miss so much. Then – Viola! One day, you see it. I remember how Spurgeon’s devotion for August 6 hit met between the eyes. Because God is Sovereign all of mankind now living or who shall live, are savable, because God is Sovereign in His grace. In fact, I have been praying for years (I actually began 40 years ago (it will be this fall) to pray for revival and awakening and as I learned more, my prayers were made for more. Now they take in the whole earth, hopefully beginning in my generation and continuing for 1000 generations and including not only earth but the millions of planets to which mankind will spread, if God tarries. Far as I am concerned there are already enough souls in Hell, and, no God does not enjoy or derive any pleasure, other than the satisfaction that justice is done, when sinners perish. He plainly says that He has no pleasure in the death of the wicked. What more could any one want, including Calvinists, and I count myself as one except I prefer the term Sovereign Grace, because I do not care for Calvin’s role in the death of Servetus (sp.?). God says He even grieved over Moab’s perishing. Really? Yes, really. At the same time there are the claims of and actual statements of Scripture to the effect of -people being chosen to salvation. And the cause is plain spelled out. A professor of Hebrew, a D.Phil. from Oxford, no less, asked me why I believed that grace was irresistible. Which was strange as I had never said any thing to the professor or in the class about my beliefs (and the professor had signed the Abstract of Principles which includes an article about grace in which one could conclude that it was irresistible. Anyway, I answered the professor, “Well, if you will check Ps.65:4, I believe that you will that the verb is in the Hiphil.” (the causative verb). He opened his Hebrew Bible before the whole class and looked at the verse and said, “You are right.” He then closed his Bible and went on with the class and never again said another word to me about the subject.

        Daniel Wilcox

        Sorry Dr. James Willingham, but C.H. Spurgeon did NOT believe in the savability of all humankind. On the contrary, he believed the exact opposite.

        I have his book on salvation out in my garage, the one which I read many years ago and became filled with despair that this Baptist hero of mine claimed Jesus didn’t die for everyone (LT), that God didn’t will for everyone to be saved (UE), etc. Spurgeon lays out all five points very clearly of how by God’s unconditional election, he wills for only some to be savable.

        I have other writings by him which also clearly explain that he didn’t think it was God’s will for all humans to be saved.

        No, according to Spurgeon, all of us “others” aren’t savable.

        I could quote a bunch of passages from Spurgeon which show this, but surely you already know them.

          dr. james willingham

          But Daniel: I have his works, too, and I cited the dates from his devotion. Pray tell how he could pray for every soul on earth as he did in print on Aug 6 and Dec. 24 in his Evening by Evening devotions? And while you are at it, tell how a supralapsarian like Jonathan Edwards, a hyper Calvinist like Dr. John Thomas, and a five pointer like William Carey could get the Great Century of Missions started/the modern missionary movement? And why the first Southern Baptist missionary to China came from a church which articles of faith that spoke only of Christ dying for the church – not a word about Him dying for the whole world. Why didn’t the General Baptists who held to Christ dying for all get the ball for missions rolling? They did little about winning men to Christ. They even asked people; if they believed and wanted to be baptized and have their names on the church roll here in North Carolina in the 1700s, whereas the Particular Baptists or Regulars and Separates who believed in Particular Redemption sought for a true experience of salvation and were the ones God blessed with the Great Awakening and the growth and increase of their churches and made the Southern Baptists the dominate church in the South.

      dr. james willingham

      I would also like to point out that every one of the five points of the tulip doctrines plus reprobation and predestination are invitations to be saved, to take God at His word as being merciful even for revealing what is seemingly antithetical. Take for example, Jonah’s sermon to Nineveh, a message of judgment, no a single word about mercy. And the prophet did not even want those people saved. And yet the King and his people treated that negative message of condemnation as an opportunity to repent, and they spent the next 40 days repenting just under the thought, “Who can tell?” Even the prophet thought that God was going to use that negative message to move those people to repent so that He would spare the city. The problem with all who reject the Sovereignty of God in salvation is that they limit His power to use whatever message He wants to use in salvation, and some people need to hear the negative messages, the therapeutic paradoxes, which alone can empower them to respond. The rich young ruler faced an impossible demand just like the lame man who was commanded to rise up and walk or the man with the withered arm who was commanded to stretch forth his arm. But the best approach is to appeal to God’s very Sovereignty as the leper did who said, “Lord, if you will, if you please, you can make me whole.” And Jesus said, “I will.” Imagine what our Lord would say to some one who says, “I can believe?” Our Lord actually spoke to one who said, “I believe, but then he stumbled and asked, ‘Lord, help my unbelief.” Some sinners out there in the world need to hear the word, “Come, come as you are.” Others need to hear about their inability, their sinfulness, their viperous nature, their satanic nature, their helplessness, and how Jesus only can bring healing and salvation to their wicked souls, if He is pleased to do so.

dr. james willingham

Actually, the Lord Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners. The problem is that there are not enough sinners to be saved. I.e., the sinners will not admit to being sinners, even if they know they really are. All that the Father gives to the Son, comes to Him, and the ones who come to Him are not cast out. The problem with all this discussion is that it ignores the reality that God does things according to purpose. Human beings do the same, except for those who are not clear as to what they intend, something God never lacks (a clear intention, a purpose that He cannot accomplish). In Isa.46:11, He says, I have purposed it, I will also do it.” In Romans 8:28 the word of God speaks of “them who are the called according to his purpose.” While one might postulate that the wicked perish, because of their own sinful choices and actions, one must recognize that the wicked who are saved were chosen, called, redeemed, regenerated, and converted by the grace of God. The night I was converted, Jesus knocked at my heart’s door, and I fled, but before I got home He opened my heart to consider what I had experienced. The two verses that described my experience are well summed up in Rev.3;20 and Acts 16:14. He knocked and I did not open. Then He went further and opened my heart for me. It is like Lazarus, when Jesus said, “Lazarus, come forth.” He that was dead came forth. I was spiritual dead, and His action brought me to respond. I believe more people will be won to Christ by Particular Redemption, because it is purposeful Redemption. Every one preaches a Limited Atonement, including the savability view that is being promoted herein. Like the General Atonement people, it limits the atonement by man’s will and choice, making the whole affair a seemingly meaningless event. On the other hand, if Jesus could declare to the woman in Mt.15:21-28 that He was not sent but to the lost sheep of the house of Israel and she responded with worship, and He also told His fellow citizens of Nazareth that Elijah and Elisha were not sent to any widow or leper in Israel but to a widow of Sarepta and a leper of Syria. The woman worshipped, but the people of Nazareth hated such preaching so much that they tried to murder Jesus by casting Him down from the brow of the hill on which the city stood. It is obvious from such facts that theology like counseling has therapeutic paradoxes which respect the reality that sinners can be reached by opposites. Personally, I think now that Particular Redemption will reach all the souls on earth in one generation, hopefully, beginning with this one and will continue for a thousand generations (anywhere from 20,000-900,000 years) and taken in the inhabitants of millions of planets, if mankind is permitted to go to the stars which I expect. In any case, what our Lord did in Mt.15:21-28 and Luke 4:16-31 shows conclusively that He uses opposites that are intended to reach souls as witness the woman of Canaan in the first reference.(a woman of the area of Sarepta like the one to whom Elijah was sent.

RD Magee

Copying from the previous post are some of the beliefs of a Savabilists that I believe a Calvinists could agree with:

* A Savabilist is not a universalist. A Savabilist believes that many people will die and go to hell.
Calvanists definitely are not universalists, believing that many people will die and go to hell.

* A Savabilist believes the reason the lost go to hell is neither because God chose them for hell, nor because God declined to choose them for heaven, but rather because they freely chose to reject the grace of God.

Most Calvinists would agree. A person does not go to hell because God chose them for it or because He declined to choose them for heaven. Instead, the reason every person goes to hell is because he or she willfully of their own choosing rejected the grace of God in the good news of salvation in Jesus Christ.

* A Savabilist believes that once a person freely places their faith in Christ and He saves their soul, they cannot possibly lose their salvation, but will persevere eternally since their salvation is sealed by God forever.

Calvinists would agree wholeheartedly.

RD Magee

Taken from post #1:
* A Savabilist believes it is God’s one and only true will for every person to be saved.

Questions:Does a Savabilists believe in only one will of God? Is there a revealed will (desired) and/or a sovereign will (decreed)?

Statement: The problem the Calvinists will have is saying it is God’s “one an only true will” for every person to be saved. It would seem that a Calvinists could, would, and should agree that it is God’s revealed (desired) will for every person to be saved. But, it is not His sovereign (decreed) will since what God decrees will come to be and not all men are or will be saved.

rhutchin

“1. Fatalist: Also called Hyper-Calvinist, this view rejects the idea that the atonement in any respect was intended for the salvation of all. It thus discourages inviting all men to believe in Christ for salvation. Fatalism lies beyond the scope of Calvinism per se. Thus, a Fatalist is truly no Calvinist at all. An example would be John Gill.”

Technically, I think a fatalist is one who believes that no one is in control of that which happens (an evolutionist would be a fatalist).

John Gill believes that God is in control of all that happens. If God is in control, it cannot be described as fatalism.

    dr. james willingham

    Right on rhutchin. I have and read Gills works, and he is definitely not a fatalist; he is a Calvinist, one acknowledge by the leading Calvinists of the 18th century as a scholarly Calvinist. In recognition of his scholarship the University of Glasgow, Scotland, awarded him the honorary doctor of divinity, a degree which one could say he practically earned the hard way, with old fashioned work in massive volumes of research and writing.

      Rick Patrick

      Fair enough, gentlemen, on the Gill issue. But if you wish to keep him within the fold of Calvinism, it must be a Hyper-Calvinism, to be distinguished from merely a High Calvinism. Gill did not believe in the well meant offer. He did not believe evangelism was necessary. By creating a separate category, I am actually trying to rescue High Calvinists from the charge of not being evangelistic. Since High and Hyper get confused so easily, I was using the term Fatalist, albeit not in its common philosophical sense. We can go with Hyper and High just as easily, but there is something about giving each view it’s own clear name that fosters understanding. Come up with another term if you will, but let us not have so many different kinds of Calvinists, with some rejecting evangelism and others embracing it. It is to your advantage to call those folks something else, in my opinion.

        dr. james willingham

        Wal, Rick (as my old great grandpappy would have probably had drawled to you, being a cowboy and fast draw artist), wal, if Gill was so bad, why did he and his church back the great Evangelist George Whitefield? And then there is the matter of this: Why did the Charleston Baptist Association recommend his works to their pastors (I think, but cannot say for sure, that they even purchased his works to have them available for their pastors that could not afford them)? I even know of one fellow who heard Gill as a child and nearly a hundred years later, while setting on his front porch in his rocking chair, he recalled that message and was converted,. Funny, how a fellow like that could win a soul nearly a hundred years after a single sermon.

rhutchin

“4. Molinist: A position disaffirming limited atonement and irresistible grace, reconciling divine determinism with man’s free will without appealing to the Calvinist explanation of a mystery. Through God’s “middle knowledge,” He knows what His free creatures would do under any circumstance, as illustrated by the statement, “If you enter the ice cream shop, you will choose chocolate.” God also actualizes the world in which we freely choose that which God intends for us. An example would be William Craig Lane.”

I think people misunderstand Molinism. Molinism deals with God’s deliberations about the world He would create. God considers all the worlds He might create and then chooses that world that He wants to create. All the action under Molinism occurs “prior to” the actual creation of the world – before Genesis 1:1.

However, once God chooses the world that He desires to create, Genesis 1:1 begins to describe that unique world God has chosen to create. As God considered everything in very possible world before choosing that world to create, He knows all that will happen in the world that He does create. Thus, the world that God chose to create is a Calvinistic world in that all is known to God and determined by God (determined by the creation of that world in nothing else).

That man “freely chooses” in the Molinist scheme is unclear to me. I don’t think the Molinist has really shown this to be true but has only assumed it. At least, in my limited reading on Molinism, I have not come across anything that explains how Molinism demonstrates “free choice.”

    Johnathan Pritchett

    “That man ‘freely chooses’ in the Molinist scheme is unclear to me. I don’t think the Molinist has really shown this to be true but has only assumed it. At least, in my limited reading on Molinism, I have not come across anything that explains how Molinism demonstrates ‘free choice.'”

    On Molinism, it is because God conceives of the choices made by a libertarian creature prior to the decree in the logical moment (though what appears to me to be a gratuitous zillion upon zillion unnecessary logical moments) prior to the decree in God’s Middle=Knowledge, and the choice itself isn’t determined by any other agent but the agent either prior to, or after the point of, creation. God doesn’t determine the agent or his action, but “determines” that the agents and their actions come to pass via maintaining creation while the agent performs the action. That is the only sense in which the choice of the agent is “determined” and it would be an equivocation fallacy to understand that sense of “determined” with determinism qua determinism. Yes, words can be slippery that way, so I used “_”. The choice is free because it is an undetermined choice. In combatibilism, the choice is determined by God because God does not create libertarian free creatures, and as many would argue, can’t create such creatures.

    I am no Molinist, but I do think Craig has at least logically shown that all the complaints about Molinism and Libertarian freedom are bogus and illegitimate. It could be that it is unclear to you only by your limited understanding, and not because of any perceived lack of coherence of the view on your part. Perhaps you have the epistemic humility to acknowledge that.

      rhutchin

      Johnathan writes, “The choice is free because it is an undetermined choice.”

      As far as I know, this is an assumption that the Molinist makes. If anyone knows of the argument for this assumption, I would appreciate a citation. I have gone through Craig’s stuff at Reasonable Faith and did not see anything.

        Johnathan Pritchett

        That is what Molinism argues for. What you are saying is like saying “the choice is determined because it is a determined choice” is just an assumption compatibalists make and not what compatibalists are arguing for…

          rhutchin

          Fine. Get the Molinists to flesh it all out and let me know when they do.

            Johnathan Pritchett

            They have fleshed it all out, and I see no reason to believe from your comments that any thorough investigation regarding these matters has occurred on your part.

            You’ve also been repeatedly answered on SBC Today regarding this issue many times over, previously and by several people, and you have utterly failed in giving any meaningful rebuttals to those comments. At some point, charity runs thin, and your belligerence and cultivated ignorance on the matter stops being our problem.

      dr. james willingham

      But what Dr. Craig failed to do is to explain how man kept his libertarian free will after the fall, when the Bible says he became unable to respond. After the fall, man becomes a slave of sin, a child of satan, by nature deserving of wrath, dead in trespasses and sins. I met Dr. Craig at the SBC in ’06. His room mate at Wheaton College was my landlord for two years. While Dr. Craig in the matter of apologetics had provided some really wonderful answers, his problem develops with the passages in Holy Scripture which teach inability, clearly and without equivocation.

        Johnathan Pritchett

        No one has ever demonstrated libertarian freedom was lost at the fall. Luther’s un-Biblical drivel certainly didn’t.

        Sinners freely choose their sins, can freely choose some sins and not others, at the very least.

        In any case, what has the fall to do with libertarian freedom?

        Answer: Nothing.

          dr. james willingham

          Johnathan, you choose to ignore the references provided. Yes, I agree men can freely choose their sins, but that is all they can freely choose. You can’t choose to be otherwise than the child of your mother and father. All the libertarian free will in the world will not undo that fact, and the same goes from your descent from fallen Adam. Only God can take you out of the first Adam and place you in the second Adam. And don’t you wish you could influence people like Luther did? Your drivel makes his look like banana pudding.

            Johnathan Pritchett

            “Johnathan, you choose to ignore the references provided.”

            Heck of an accusation. The lengths and number of my posts clearly indicate I ignore nothing. To what references do you refer? If I dismissed them, that is not identical to ignoring them, it is simply dismissing them because perhaps you weren’t using them properly and I spared you embarrassment by harping on it.

            “You can’t choose to be otherwise than the child of your mother and father.”

            And what relevance is that to a moral sphere or a “what I will have for lunch” sphere?

            Answer: None.

            Categorical error. Fallacious. Next…

            “and the same goes from your descent from fallen Adam.”

            From which Biblical text do we learn we no longer possess volitional ability?

            Answer: None. Next…

            “Only God can take you out of the first Adam and place you in the second Adam.”

            Truism. Proves nothing since I agree with it and still hold my view. Next…

            “And don’t you wish you could influence people like Luther did?”

            No, because what Luther did was influence people with serious errors that had negative effects that stretched into the Holocaust. Horrible person. I haven’t the slightest desire to influence people *like* Luther did. Next…

            “Your drivel makes his look like banana pudding.”

            Nonsense. Even if what I wrote is drivel, which has not at all been demonstrated, at least my drivel didn’t continue to wreck Western theology on many issues, or be used as propaganda to kill people.

              dr. james willingham

              Dear Johnathan: One is surprised at your knowledge of logic, but it is easy to categorize every thing in terms of the fallacies without realizing that the truth might be other than the strictures of that approach to knowledge allows. In fact, while logic serves to some benefit and, in mathematical logic in particular serves even more, and excepting that area, logic is till wanting due to its judgments made without reference to experiment or research. You might benefit from study of the scientific method and from Kuhn’s work on scientific paradigms (the title escapes me for the moment). Clearly, we are at an impasse, and you will not take me en passant.

            Johnathan Pritchett

            Actually, what I prefer to do is engage on the issues rather than entertaining distracting nonsense. But when nonsense is all I am given, nonsense is all I can return.

            It’s been a Proverbs 26:5 kind of week.

            P.S. Indeed I am familiar with those paradigms. I am only categorizing fallacies as fallacies. Nothing more, nothing less.

    dr. james willingham

    To rhutchin: We have a conservative in our state, a noted one and a leader of the movement. For years I thought he was a Calvinist, and so did others. Then one day he told me he was a Molinist, and I was shocked. But I was not the only one shocked; so was an imminent professor at SEBTS, and the same could be said for a Calvinist who built his library on Spurgeon’s model and thought his friend was a Calvinist. That friend of mine is now deceased; he was a hero of WWII, winning the DSC for his service and heroism as a fighter pilot, flying the P38. We were both stricken with grief at the thought that one we thought believed the original theology did not, and this is not the same thing as those who vary from it on this blog. That was worked out in the United Baptist resolution in 1787-1800.

      rhutchin

      I think Molinists are Calvinists, by definition. Molinism deals with God’s deliberations within Himself as to the world He wants to create. The Molinist theology is a pre-Genesis 1 theology. Once God makes His decision and creates the world in Genesis 1:1, Molinism has nothing more to say and Calvinism (as a description of the world God chose to create) begins.

      People seem to think Molinism and Calvinism are opposing theologies. They aren’t.

        dr. james willingham

        Dear rhutchin: Sorry, but I do not regard Molinists as Calvinists, at least, from what I have read of what they had written. I have been following Dr. Craig for about 13 years, ever since his room mate in college was my landlord in Lincolnton, NC and told me about him. I wrote to him at the time as my grandmother was a Craig. She even named our son before he was born. Anyway, Dr. Craig being a Craig, a part of that big clan in Scotch History, I wrote him a letter at that time. The clan is Scotland’s idea of an extended family. Now that they are not Calvinists does not mean that I do not regard them as brethren. I have a more determinant view of history – not simply knowledge of future events.

rhutchin

“2. Calvinist: This view embraces all five points of the TULIP, while also affirming the free offer of the gospel to all men. May the label “Five Point Calvinist” become viewed as a redundant term, for there is truly no other kind. An example would be Al Mohler.”

While true, you might note that the five points of the TULIP are only part of the Calvinist soteriology. If all that one knows about Calvinism is the five points, he will have an inadequate understanding of Calvinism and will be prone to confusion.

The five points were not created to describe Calvinism but to contrast Calvinism’s differences with Arminianism but only in the narrow sense of man’s depravity – the first, and beginning, point.

Perhaps you might describe it this way:

“2. Calvinist: This view embraces the notion of a Sovereign God who, before the creation of the world, chose, from among fallen mankind, those whom He wanted to save. The plight of mankind and God’s working of salvation in those chosen – the elect – is described in the five points of the TULIP. Calvinists affirm the free offer of the gospel to all men as part of God’s plan to draw the elect out of the world. May the label “Five Point Calvinist” become viewed as a redundant term, for there is truly no other kind. An example would be Al Mohler.”

volfan007

Let’s quit playing word games here. If you believe in limited atonement, and irresistible grace, then salvation is not for everyone on the planet. There are some people, whom God chose to save, died for, and made sure that they got saved; which means that there’s a whole nother group of people, out there, who are lost, and really have no chance, whatsoever, to be saved. If you really hold to the TULIP theory, then you don’t truly believe that everyone can be saved. Oh, you might believe that in some theoritical sense….in some philosophical way, but in practicality, you don’t. Joe was chosen by God before the world begun; Jesus died in his place; and God gently forced him to be saved. While, on the other hand, Sam was not chosen; Jesus did not die to cover his sins; and God does not gently coerce him to be saved. C’mon, let’s quit playing these definition and word games. The basic difference between most, true Calvinists and Traditionalists, Savabilists, or Non Calvinists, is that Calvinists truly do NOT believe that everyone can HONESTLY be saved….because they were not chosen. The rest of us TRULY believe that everyone on the planet can be saved….that God TRULY desires to save all people.

So, the difference is not that we’re man centered, or believe that man has the power to save himself, and that Calvinists are God centered, and believe that it’s by God’s power that we get saved. We all believe that salvation is God centered and it’s only by the power and grace of God that anyone will be saved.

David

    dr. james willingham

    Hello David: As a believer in Sovereign Grace, I believe like Mr. Spurgeon (a five point Calvinist) that we should pray for the whole world and every soul in it as he did in his Evening by Evening devotions for August 6 and December 24. In fact, I have been praying for a Third Great Awakening for (it will be this Fall) 40 years. I also pray that it will reach every soul on earth beginning in my generation and continue for a 1000 generations (that’s anywhere from 20,000-900,000 years, depending on how long a generation is). Just when you thought you had that theology all figured out, here I come along and spoil the whole thing. After all, Grace can be so wonderful, so appealing that it is irresistible. Or as a lady said to a friend of mine named Spurgeon nearly 50 years ago, “O it was so wonderful that I couldn’t resist it.” He thought about it for about 45 years and decided she was right and bagan to believe it himself. Then he found out as a genealogist declared that he was some kin to C.H. Spurgeon.

Rick Patrick

Friends,

In my wildest dreams, I did not expect that Calvinists would desire to embrace the term “Savabilist” for themselves. Remember, my definition of a Savabilist clearly and absolutely denies both unconditional election, irresistible grace and limited atonement. Furthermore, the form of depravity it embraces denies Total Inability. It is, at best, one and a half point Calvinism. If you want to use this term, you must be willing to accept its definition, but make no mistake, to accept its definition is to reject Calvinism. If you can call yourself a Savabilist, then welcome to our side of the theological aisle.

As for your argument that Calvinists believe in the savability of every person, you have to perform some verbal gymnastics and actually move the goalposts of the already stated definition in order to make such a claim. There are two views here, not one:

1. A Savabilist witnesses to a man. Because the result is not determined by God through unconditional election and irresistible grace, he is savable.

2. A Calvinist witnesses to a man. There are now two options: (a) If this man is elect, he is MORE than savable. He is destined to be saved at some point. (b) If this man is not elect, he is LESS than savable. He cannot possibly respond with repentance and faith since God not only foreknew his choice but determined it causatively before the foundation of the world.

Guys, I just don’t know how to make it any clearer. You simply cannot reconcile the position of Calvinism with the position of Savabilism while maintaining the integrity of the doctrines of unconditional election and irresistible grace.

    Norm Miller

    Nothing semantical about that, Rick. Thx for the clarity — again.

      dr. james willingham

      Yes, Norm, but one can think they are savable by Unconditional Election, Irresistible Grace, and Particular Redemption. After all, Rick’s view limits the atonement by the choice of man, i.e., the atonement can accomplish nothing due to the choice of man. It is just so much wasted effort.

        Rick Patrick

        No, of course not. In my view, the atonement accomplished the provision of a way of escape…the opportunity for man to freely respond to Christ’s sacrifice on the cross and be saved. Without the atonement, man would never have such a choice. A pathway to heaven would not exist. So it would not be right at all to say that in my view the atonement can accomplish nothing.

        In fact, I believe it accomplished everything, because I believe that man’s reception of Christ’s gift is not even a work at all. It is the act of a child in a burning building who allows the fireman to wrap his arms around the child and carry him down the ladder. The way that some Calvinists often try to turn that into a work of man has always astounded me.

          Norm Miller

          Yes, Rick. 1 Jn. 2.2 says that Jesus died for the sins of the whole world. It then is up to man to respond one way or the other to the Spirit’s initial drawing. Tangential to this is Dr. Allen’s 3-day post at this link, On the Insufficiency of the Notion of Sufficiency Among Some Calvinists.
          In short, if the atonement is not available to all, it cannot be available to anyone.
          Thx, Rick, for your patience and tenacity to articulate and explicate the Savabilists” understanding of their own soteriology, and that of others.

          dr. james willingham

          But Rick the child is already dead, and the one doing the rescue (Jesus) must give life to the one He rescues.

            Rick Patrick

            It is appointed unto man once to die and then comes judgment. If the child is literally dead, Dr. Willingham, then the game is over. Saved or lost, it is time for judgment. His spiritual condition is sealed when he draws his last breath.

            If, on the other hand, “dead” is a metaphor (just like “lost”) being used to describe the spiritual condition of a person who does not know Christ, then the lost person can indeed be saved and the dead person can indeed come to life, metaphorically. We do not believe the “lost” simply need a literal map to church. We do not believe the “dead” need literally “to be made alive.” They need to respond to the drawing of God’s Holy Spirit through the gospel, and they are able to respond, of course, because they are not literally dead.

              dr. james willingham

              Dr. Patrick, I have already said I believe in infant salvation. While the child is spiritually dead in trespasses and sins, God regenerates that child as it has committed no sins of a conscious nature, though the Bible does speak of the wicked as soon as they be born, go astray from the womb speaking lies, and David speaks of being shapened in iniquity and conceived in sin. A generation of vipers, with the poison under their lips suggests that man has an evil nature. Even so God is saving people who have an evil nature. His word says there is madness in the heart of men while they live, and after that they go to the dead. Eccles.9:3. And God saves such as He sees fit, choosing us in Christ from before the foundation of the world. And neither of you have addressed the issue of such teachings as the TULIP truths being invitations like the therapeutic paradoxes of counselors or why such people initiated the great century of missions, while those who believed in a General Atonement set on their backsides and twiddled their thumbs.

    rhutchin

    Pastor Rick writes, “As for your argument that Calvinists believe in the savability of every person, you have to perform some verbal gymnastics and actually move the goalposts of the already stated definition in order to make such a claim.”

    There are no verbal gymnastics. It is God who determines who is saved. So far as we know, God may have decided to save all or all – 1, or less. From our human perspective, all people are salvable because we do not know those whom God has chosen to save. All agree that God knows the identities of the elect and knew them when He created the world at Genesis 1:1, so the elect and non-elect are known to God. Even you do not deny that, do you? The only limitation on salvation is God’s knowledge of those whom He has chosen to save. So, from God’s perspective only the elect are to be saved and none other. From out human perspective any person we meet may be one whom God has chosen to save.

      Norm Miller

      Submitted on 2013/08/30 at 10:25 am

      In case we have forgotten, and in some instances, never read it till now,
      Calvin in his own words:
      “We say, then, that Scripture clearly proves this much, that God by his eternal and immutable counsel determined once for all those whom *it was his pleasure* one day to admit to salvation, and those whom, on the other hand, it was *his pleasure to doom to destruction.* We maintain that this counsel, as regards the elect, is founded on his free mercy, without respect to human worth, while those whom he dooms to destruction are *excluded from access to life* (Ed’s. note: Savable???) by just and blameless but at the same time, incomprehensible, judgment” (Institutes, 3:21:7).

      How, hutch, can you reconcile yours and Ben’s position with this statement of Calvin. Those God doomed to damnation from the foundation are not savable, per Calvin. How can you say all are?

      Rick Patrick

      rhutchin,

      I disagree, and this is becoming circular. Let me see if I can distinguish between our views, so you can see their incompatibility:

      YOU: “It is God who determines who is saved.”
      ME: “God has determined to save all who exercise their libertarian free will and believe.”

      YOU: “From our human perspective, all people are savable because we do not know those whom God has chosen to save.”
      ME: “Our knowledge is irrelevant to the issue. From both human and divine perspectives, all people are savable, period, because they possess libertarian free will to accept or reject the grace of God. There is no class of people whom God has caused to be ‘non-elect’ by not choosing them. In other words, every lost person COULD HAVE been saved if they had trusted in Christ, and this is a decision they COULD HAVE made because God did not unconditionally elect them or predetermine the eternal condition of their soul.

      YOU: “…the elect and non-elect are known to God. Even you do not deny that, do you?”
      ME: “God KNOWS who will be saved and who will not be saved, but He does not CAUSE it to be so, by choosing certain ones unconditionally or by offering only to some a grace that is irresistible. Therefore, every lost person was indeed savable, since they could have exercised their libertarian free will to accept Christ rather than to reject him.”

      YOU: “The only limitation on salvation is God’s knowledge of those whom He has chosen to save.”
      ME: “God’s knowledge does not limit salvation at all in either direction. Salvation is only limited by the causative determinism that is at work in this process, with Calvinists believing that God determines the outcome through unconditional election, while Savabilists believe that man’s exercise of libertarian free will determines the outcome, since God wants all to be saved.”

      YOU: “From our human perspective any person we meet may be one God has chosen to save.”
      ME: “From your Calvinist perspective, any person we meet may be chosen by God. Thus, they must be described as POTENTIALLY SAVABLE.” It is possible that they are savable if God has chosen them, but impossible if God has not chosen them. But this is a different idea entirely from my position that they are ACTUALLY SAVABLE. God knows what they will do, but God does not cause them to do it. He does not elect them unconditionally. He does not bestow upon them an irresistible grace.

      rhutchin, I appreciate what you are trying to do, but these really are two incompatible positions.

        Norm Miller

        Nothing circular about your reasoning, Rick. Thx for the clarity, again.

          dr. james willingham

          Ah, but Norm, does either one really understand Sovereign Grace, when it is going to have so many saved folks in Heaven that even the Lord would not want to count them (a number that no one can number, Rev.7:9). It is true God uses language that sometimes seems out of order. Remember the execration passages, like Ps.137:9, “Happy, shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones.” I once had a deacon who wanted me to preach on that text. He was astounded I think when I found it an invitation to salvation, an expression of a believer in deep distress over having his little ones dashed against stones in Jerusalem (well, what do you think the Babylonian soldiers did, when they took Jerusalem?)(and don’t you think, one can be so outraged that he or she could find it most difficult not to wish such on their enemies that had done such things to them). Later on, they will find a way through such agonies to the forgiveness that God desires, but that will come with the cross. I picked up a commentary by John Gill and found his comment on Ps.2:8 to the effect that “the amplitude of Christ’s kingdom in all the earth, which shall be from sea to sea, and from the rivers to the ends of the earth.” He also said on Ps.22:25 that the great congregation “will have its accomplishment at the latter day, when great multitudes will be converted, and the voice of praise and thanksgiving will be among them, Rev.7:9,10, and 11:15, and x14:1,2, and 19:1,5,6.”

        dr. james willingham

        But Rick what do you do with Jesus and his statement that no man can, no man is able to come, except the Father which sent Jesus draw him and unless it was given him to come?

          Rick Patrick

          The Holy Spirit’s drawing in the gospel is God’s initiative. Faith and repentance is man’s free response.

          I’m not trying to debate the entire issue of Calvinism vs. Savabilism or Molinism or anything else here, merely attempting for now to define the various positions with unique names so we do not wind up with the confusing situation of talking about two different views at the same time under the guise of the same name.

        dr. james willingham

        But Rick didn’t you say men were saved by the grace of God, which means unconditional favor or do you take it to mean conditional favor?

          Rick Patrick

          I prefer “unMERITED favor,” and do not consider accepting a person’s rescue a meritorious work.

          Johnathan Pritchett

          It is worth pointing out that grace is conditional. Out of your 15,000 books, do you not have any on Greco-Roman culture?

        rhutchin

        YOU: “It is God who determines who is saved according to the counsel of His will.”
        ?ME: “It is God who determines who is saved according to a person’s exercise of libertarian free will to believe.”

        YOU: “From our human perspective, all people are savable because we do not know those whom God has chosen to save. From God’s perspective, He chose His elect before the foundation of the worldand uses the preaching of His prophets to draw His elect to salvation”?
        ME: “Our knowledge is irrelevant to the issue. From both human and divine perspectives, all people are savable, period, because they possess libertarian free will to accept or reject the grace of God. There is no class of people whom God has caused to be ‘non-elect’ by not choosing them. In other words, every lost person COULD HAVE been saved if they had trusted in Christ, and this is a decision they COULD HAVE made because God did not unconditionally elect them or predetermine the eternal condition of their soul.

        [My comment – Your statement seems to deny God’s omniscience – at least I don’t see how God’s omniscience allows your conclusion.]

        YOU: “…the elect and non-elect are known to God. Even you do not deny that, do you?”?
        ME: “God KNOWS who will be saved and who will not be saved, but He does not CAUSE it to be so, by choosing certain ones unconditionally or by offering only to some a grace that is irresistible. Therefore, every lost person was indeed savable, since they could have exercised their libertarian free will to accept Christ rather than to reject him.”

        [My comment – Your statement is not correct when you say, “every lost person was indeed savable, since they could have exercised their libertarian free will to accept Christ rather than to reject him.” God’s knowledge is certain and sure. No other outcome is possible. It is not possible that the non-elect could choose to accept Christ, as God’s omniscience makes their rejection of Christ certain. However, if it helps you to think that the non-elect could choose otherwise, I have no real problem. It doesn’t change anything.]

        YOU: “The only limitation on salvation is God’s knowledge of those whom He has chosen to save.”?
        ME: “God’s knowledge does not limit salvation at all in either direction. Salvation is only limited by the causative determinism that is at work in this process, with Calvinists believing that God determines the outcome through unconditional election, while Savabilists believe that man’s exercise of libertarian free will determines the outcome, since God wants all to be saved.”

        [My comment – God is sovereign; man is not. God’s knowledge makes all things certain and trumps man’s free will; man will exercise his free will consistent with God’s knowledge as man gains his freedom from God.]

        YOU: “From our human perspective any person we meet may be one God has chosen to save.”?
        ME: “From your Calvinist perspective, any person we meet may be chosen by God. Thus, they must be described as POTENTIALLY SAVABLE.” It is possible that they are savable if God has chosen them, but impossible if God has not chosen them. But this is a different idea entirely from my position that they are ACTUALLY SAVABLE. God knows what they will do, but God does not cause them to do it. He does not elect them unconditionally. He does not bestow upon them an irresistible grace.

        [My comment – Potentially salvable is accurate. Actually salvable cannot be correct as God’s omniscience ensures that the non-elect are not to be saved. Man’s free will cannot change God’s knowledge.]

        I think the incompatibility is between your position and God’s omniscience. I don’t see how God’s omniscience – which entails the certain knowledge of the elect and non-elect – allows for your position.

          Rick Patrick

          I’m granting that God knows everything and that what He knows is certain and sure to occur. I’m simply not granting that He CAUSES everything by violating the free will of the elect or the non-elect. His knowledge does not cause their salvation.

          If they FREELY ACCEPT Christ, they are certain and sure to go to heaven like God knows they will. If they FREELY REJECT Christ, they are certain and sure to go to hell like God knows they will. Here is another way to describe this: God’s foreknowledge is not acting upon their free decision; their free decision is informing God’s knowledge. They could have indeed chosen otherwise, in which case, of course, God would have known all about their otherwise choice.

        RD Magee

        Calvinists – Potential Savability, Actual Atonement, Man Acts because God Acts
        Savabilists – Actual Savability, Potential Atonement, God Acts because Man Acts

          Rick Patrick

          Nice effort. I would say, under the heading of Savabilists, that the atonement itself is not POTENTIAL but ACTUAL. What is potential is the free will acceptance by man of that actual atonement, which is different than the atonement being potential. I would also disaffirm that God acts BECAUSE man acts. God acts in initiating the salvation process before man ever acts at all. Yes, God saves only those who freely respond to Him, but He acts first and foremost. God does not act in response to man–man responds to God with a faith that is no act at all.

    dr. james willingham

    Dear Rick: Spurgeon prayed for every soul on earth in his devotions for Aug.6 and Dec. 24 and, like him, I find that I pray for the whole earth to be converted, believing they are savable due to God’s great and irresistible grace. Like the lady said to a friend of mine who was also named Spurgeon nearly 50 years ago as to why she responded so readily, “Oh, it was so wonderful that I could not resist it.” He thought about it for about nearly 50 years and then decided that he believed it, too. About that time he found out that he was a distant kin of C.H. Spurgeon. Personally, I pray for the conversion of the whole earth beginning in this generation and continuing for 1000 generations just so God can fulfill His humorous remark made to cheer His suffering servants in Rev.7:9 about a number that no one can number. In fact, I believe He will likely win them with the five points of TULIP plus predestination and reprobation as each of those 7 points is an invitation to be take God on His terms and be saved. They are like therapeutic paradoxes, only a lot better. When Jesus said it wasn’t right to cast the children’s bread to dogs, the woman of Canaan in Mt.15:21-28 thought the reference to reprobation (a dog is surely an image of reprobation as he returns to his vomit as Peter says) was like candy, a toothsome delight by which to win the praise of the Lord for the Faith He had given her…..Laugh a little, brother. Life is too short to get so bent out of shape, because some believers in Sovereign Grace (I really prefer that term as more biblical) or Calvinists as some call them don’t really know or understand just how far unconditional election and etc. can and does and will reach.

Norm Miller

In case we have forgotten, and in some instances, never read it till now,
Calvin in his own words:
“We say, then, that Scripture clearly proves this much, that God by his eternal and immutable counsel determined once for all those whom *it was his pleasure* one day to admit to salvation, and those whom, on the other hand, it was *his pleasure to doom to destruction.* We maintain that this counsel, as regards the elect, is founded on his free mercy, without respect to human worth, while those whom he dooms to destruction are *excluded from access to life* (Ed’s. note: Savable???) by just and blameless but at the same time, incomprehensible, judgment” (Institutes, 3:21:7).

    wingedfooted1

    Norm,

    And for added clarity Calvin writes…….

    “By predestination we mean the eternal decree of God, by which he determined with himself whatever he wished to happen with regard to every man. All are not created on equal terms, but some are preordained to eternal life, others to eternal damnation; and, accordingly, as each has been created for one or other of these ends, we say that he has been predestinated to life or to death.” – Institutes: book 3, chapter 21, section 5

      Norm Miller

      Yes, my mercurial friend, the two citations together make it patently clear that Calvin does not deem all people as savable. Before the foundation, some were sentenced to hell. I have pity for those who would view God in such a way, and then am perplexed at their audacity to say it is to God’s glory. I say God is love, and as such, believe he would not condemn some to the eternal torments and tortures of hell without first offering a way to obtain his salvation.

        wingedfooted1

        Norm,

        Indeed.

        Someone was quoted as saying…

        “On the front of this doorway of escape for the lost, is that sign ‘Whosoever will may come’, but after we walk through that door of freedom of salvation, if we could look back at the other side of that door, then we would see another sign that reads, ‘Chosen before the foundation of the world’.”

        To that I would add….

        “On the front of the doorway of the Gates of Hell there is a sign that says ‘They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved’, but after walking through that door of torment, if they could look back at the other side of that door, then they would see another sign that reads ‘NOT chosen before the foundation of the world’.”

        God bless.

        dr. james willingham

        But Norm, why does God owe any good to such sinners as we?

        rhutchin

        Calvin describes the situation from God’s point of view. Everything is certain in God’s mind. God knows the elect by name as well as the non-elect and no more will be saved than that number of elect known to God and no more will be lost than that number known to God. I don’t see you arguing against that conclusion.

        Nonetheless, God calls His elect to salvation in the course of time and to this end, God instructs His servants to “preach the gospel” to all and that preaching will draw the elect out from the world. Thus, from our human point of view, all are salvable and the gospel is to be preached to all and all are to be implored to repent and believe the gospel with the certain knowledge that God is working through that preaching to accomplish His purpose.

          rhutchin

          PS – I’m with Dr. Willingham – I think God is saving many more people than we are prone to think, and we should be bold to ask God to save all. Who knows, maybe it was Dr. Willingham’s prayer that was necessary to my salvation since my parents did not seem to care. If God were to save all on their deathbed, I would be fine with that.

            Norm Miller

            If you were elect from the foundation, a million people could have prayed that God NOT save you, but to no avail, right?

              dr. james willingham

              Dear Norm: Because I am elect from the foundation of the world a million people have probably prayed for me. That anyone would pray for me is reason for gratitude. I pray for you as one of the elect of God.

                Norm Miller

                Calvin’s double-predestinarian views negate the need to pray for anyone’s salvation. No prayer will elect the non-elect, or unelect the elect. So, why pray for any result that, according to Calvin and his followers, is a forgone conclusion?

                  dr. james willingham

                  Funny, Norm, but then how you explain the joyful insanity of a hyper Calvinist named Dr. John Thomas who won the first convert of the modern missionary movement, and then went insane with joy? There is also the fact of the prayers of William Carey, a five point Calvinist, as Dr. Danny Akin pointed out? And behind that was Jonathan Edwards call for the united prayer effort in his Humble Attempt which inspired Carey and the others to begin praying and, in turn, led them to launch the great mission effort? Likewise, one must query your issue in the light of Luther Rice and his insistence that one had better preach election and predestination and who went around praying for and enlisting Southern Baptists in the great mission movement? You really need to query those fellows instead of me, even though I pray constantly and have for 40 years (will be this fall, if I live that long) for a Third Great Awakening, one that reaches every soul on earth, beginning, hopefully, in our generation and continuing for a thousand generations. By the way I have pointed that these doctrines are like therapeutic paradoxes; they are invitations to do the impossible, and you have never commented once on the intellectual and spiritual challenge of the word of God written. Our Lord Jesus Christ calls on the spiritual dead, inviting and commanding them to do the impossible, namely, to live. Why, Norm, why. Jesus said in John 5: 25, “The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the son of man and they that hear, shall live.” He wasn’t speaking of physical death, but of spiritual death. Do the impossible: That is what God commands men to do. Have you faced the reality of the impossibility of responding? cf. Mk.10, where our Lord says with men it is impossible. What He asked the rich young ruler to do was impossible. When He says it is possible with God, that means the only possibility for anyone lies with the Lord and His will and desire in the individual’s case.

          Norm Miller

          Foreknowledge is not equal to determinism. And neither is omniscience. Many of us have replied this way to you and others on this point repeatedly, but you seem to be forgetting our answers.
          You seem to be making mental, (il)logical and soteriological jumps for Savabilists, as does Dr. Willingham, who believes that being drawn to Christ is the same thing, ultimately, as receiving salvation. As has been stated *repeatedly* on this blog, Savabilists believe the drawing is first in the ordo salutis that results in salvation, but the drawing can be resisted, even refused. But you don’t, b/c you think the call is irresistible, as I think Dr. W. does, too.
          It all gets back to total depravity — the 4-pound pill that must be swallowed for the rest of Calvin’s soteriology to work. Rick addressed that, too.
          For as long as you have been commenting, here, Hutch, it should be clear to you now that you are not going to convince anyone of your position who is a Savabilist. And, candidly, it is woefully tiresome to hear your same arguments repeatedly, see them answered repeatedly, and then for you to come back again and again, still, and make the same arguments. Asked and answered, brother.

            dr. james willingham

            Dear Brother Norm: I must differ with your reply to brother rhutchin. Foreknowledge in my book follows from the decrees and determination of God. Upon this point I argue from the greater to the lesser, e.g., the crucifixion of our Lord, in Acts4:27,28: “For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou has anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together, For to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done.” The greatest evil in history with every act involved in it, the Bible, the Word of God says, God’s “hand and (His) counsel determined before to be done.” And in Acts 2:23 Petere said, “Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain>” Note the determinate counsel in that text precedes the foreknowledge, and the fact of such determination does not lessen the fact that “by wicked hands (they) have crucified and slain (our Lord).” Zanchius (sp?) in his work on Absolute Predestination points out that God in such decree simply allows men the freedom to do whatever they desire, and what they desire is to murder God and take His place on the throne in their lives. Oh, and by the way, in I Pet.1, the Bible speaks of the strangers in the various places named in verse one as being “elect according to foreknowledge,” and in verse 20 the same term is translated “foreordained” with reference to our Lord whose precious blood redeemed us.” Now, if the worst evil in history was foreordained, predestinated, decreed in such fashion that men did what they pleased and yet accomplished the will of God, so it follows in all events that God maintains His control, yielding not a scintilla (sp-wished I could find the box with my big dictionary) to mankind and yet giving them enough freedom to hang themselves. The problem with rejecting the position of Sovereign Grace is seen in the fact that any other position ignores, overlooks, or explains away the effects of the Fall of Man. In his fall was he just injured a bit or did he actually die spiritually that very day in which he sinned and began to die physically after which follows eternal death. And in man’s spiritual death only a miracle can save him or her, as the case may be.

            Johnathan Pritchett

            “Foreknowledge in my book follows from the decrees and determination of God.”

            But this is obviously false. Any part of God’s knowledge is a part of His attribute of omniscience, which is an essential to His unchanging nature. Actions such as decrees are not a part of God’s nature, and so can not be prior to any of God’s attributes.

            The attributes of God can not in any way be dependent upon God performing actions. God does not need to do something in order to be completely God, whether or not He decides to decree (which is to do something) or not.

            God is God, and nothing He is as it pertains to His nature can be eternally co-dependent, or in any sense dependent, on what He does. As such, nothing of God’s unchanging nature hinges upon God doing or not doing anything. Thus, His attribute can not follow from any action.

            As for the rest, I have, again, been over Acts 2:23 and Acts 4:27-28 on here already, and it went unanswered. Those passages do nothing to gainsay any non-Calvinist position.

              dr. james willingham

              Johnathan, you have no answered “determinate counsel and foreknowledge,” and foreknowledge is also rendered foreordained in I Pet.1:20. And if that is not enough, consider Isa.46:11.12. God acts according to His own purposes. But I grow weary of repeating myself.

            Johanthan Pritchett

            As do I get tired of it, especially around here where Calvinists assert and ask question after question without any engagement to previous answers already given.

            Which is why I recommended you do a search and see much of what I have already written on the subject regarding Acts 2 and 4 in many of these SBC Today comment threads, of which many you were an active participant who opted out of trying to muster a response like everyone else on the Calvinist team.

            In any case, you wrote, ” Note the determinate counsel in that text precedes the foreknowledge”

            Where have you proven that word order in this verse mandates some kind of priority. Right…nowhere. You’ve just asserted it. You did nothing whatever, again, to deal with the problems I pointed out, that makes this impossible…

            Well, makes it impossible unless you believe God logically gains knowledge and His unchanging nature changes and is totally dependent upon Him taking actions in eternity in order to be what He SHOULD be without ever doing a single thing whatsoever.

            Oops… Your contention makes you scarcely better than an open theism, the open theism and nature-changing God you embrace just happens to be a logical moment in eternity rather than a continual God who learns more things as time goes on. But again, I hardly see that as all that much better. (and if you are reading rhutchin, its why I reject Molinism as well)

            As for 1 Peter, I don’t see your point. Verse 20 makes sense because it is about Christ, who existed prior to creation. Neither you nor I, nor anyone else did. Verse 2 of chapter one merely states that the elect were according to foreknowledge. In context, this doesn’t even mean that the individuals were foreknown (though we can say that on other grounds), rather, it means that Peter is telling the temporary residents (a corporate body) that God has always had them in view for a purpose in their sojourn. Only the Calvinism debate usurps the contextual meaning for purposes never intended by Peter. Indeed, you failed to note that even Peter in the text qualified the term used in both verses in verse 20 with “before the foundation of the world” which is why in context the English word reads differently. Note the phrase is completely absent from verse 2 or anywhere near it.

            So…not to be rude, but I don’t know what in the world you are talking about here, but, whatever it is, it has nothing whatever to do with what Peter is talking about (and the same could be said about non-Calvinists appealing to this verse as well).

            In any case, I will briefly, again, sketch out Acts 2:23 and 4:27-28 out of charity.

            Acts 2:23 sees two things in operation. God’s determined plan for Christ, and foreknowledge of how it will happen, tossing in a nice jab at the audience for using the foreign occupiers of Israel to do their dirty work.

            Where is determinism qua determinism here? Answer: nowhere.

            Acts 4:27-28 says that Pilate, Herod, Jews and Gentiles got conspired together against Jesus. What did their conspiring “do” (arguably could be better translated “bring forth”, but doesn’t really matter since the meaning of the passage is the same)? “Whatever” (again, arguably better translated “as many great as”, but doesn’t really matter since the meaning of the passage is the same) God’s hand and plan predetermined to occur.

            Well, what plural “whatever/as many great as” by God’s hand and predetermined plan? The death of Christ, AND, as we see in verse 30-31, healing, signs, wonders, being filled with the Spirit, and boldness in preaching. Things already happening (4:1-22).

            These lawless people killed Jesus (Acts 2:23), but they didn’t accomplish the good of what Jesus’ death accomplished, which is what Luke is talking about here in Acts 4. The good was done by God’s hand and plan, not the conspirators. All Herod, Pilate, Jews and Gentiles did was conspire against God’s anointed to do whatever God’s hand and plan predetermined to occur, which involved Jesus’ death, the redemption inaugurated by it, and the outpouring of Spirit-filled apostolic ministry.

            The conspirators were merely players that brought forth what God had predetermined to occur. Does this entail determinsim qua determinsim? Nope. Nowhere does it imply that. It only implies that Pilate, Herod, Jews and Gentiles got together to do not so great lawless things, but through it God one-upped them because these wicked people brought forth what God had predetermined to do in the great thingS (plural) done by His hand though the death of Jesus, the power of the Spirit, and the Apostle’s ministry in Jerusalem (I.e. “For in this city”). The things done by God’s hand and predetermined plan are good things. The things done by Pilate, Herod, Jews, and Gentiles were not good things, but they were the players who brought forth God’s greatness in His hand and predetermined plan regarding the death of Christ and its outcome that resulted from it (i.e. verses 28, AND 30-31) in that same city and elsewhere moving forward.

            Where is determinism qua determinism here? Answer: nowhere.

            As for Isaiah 46 and the things God plans, purposes and determination to bring them about…again. where is determinism qua determinism. Answer: Nowhere.

            Read in context, dump your presuppositions and rookie errors of equivocation when you see the word “determined” with importing a philosophical category, and learn from the passage as to what it actually says. You can do the search for my fuller, much longer argument unpacking grammar and all sorts of fun stuff like that, but here is the brief(er) version.

dr. james willingham

Ben’s answer was rather clear from my perspective. Man’s free choice is not in evidence at Jn.6:44, 65; I Cors.2:14;Ephs.2:1-5; Eccles.9:3; Jer.17:9; et. al.

    Johnathan Pritchett

    That isn’t the issue. Your problem is that man’s choice in conversion is not eliminated by any of those passages. You act as if no one who isn’t a Calvinist has ever exegeted those passages and considered them.

      dr. james willingham

      Johnathan: My library amounts to some 15,000 volumes. I probably have some 30-40 commentaries on the Gospel John, and they represent every theological view known to the present day. When I prepare a message, I try to read every one of them. The issue in the texts referenced is that there is no free choice until God chooses to supply the power to do it. As to exegesis, I have perhaps a minor in the Greek of the New Testament. One of my courses involved writing a research paper on I Cors.13, the culmination of two years of research and 2000 5×8 notecards. May means permission, can refers to ability. Jesus said, “No man can come to me,” and there we find no one has the ability to come. Just like Lazarus could not come forth from the grave until our Lord called him. Likewise He calls the spiritually dead in Jn.5:25. and when He calls they are empowered and they come to Him. All that the Father gives to me, Jesus said, shall come to me (Jn.6:37).. I think that is rather a problem for your position and that of Dr. Patrick and Brother Norm.

        Norm Miller

        Dr.Jim: As has been repeatedly stated to you, Savabilists do not believe that anyone comes to Christ on his own. Yes, we believe God draws. But we do not believe the drawing overpowers man’s decision to accept or reject the drawing. So, please, sir, stop implying we reject that passage just because we reject irresistable grace. Further, to use our Lord’s calling of Lazarus from the grave as a one-for-one comparison to our Lord’s drawing is not hermeneutically sound. But if you believe in total inability — which Savabilists do not, then it is a comparison of convenience, not exegesis.
        Your explanation of may and can also fails to accurately represent Savabilists. True, no one CAN come to Christ unless he is drawn, but that still does nothing to negate that man CAN reject the drawing. That, sir, is not an issue with our position.

        Johnathan Pritchett

        Your credentials and library, while impressive, add nothing to your point, which is misguided at best, and fundamentally flawed in application at worst.

        There is no problem with those texts at all on our view. I have went through John 6 numerous times on this website, and have been unanswered. I believe you were posting on many of those same threads by the way.

        For all those books and credentials, I find it somewhat sad that you apparently don’t understand what those passages are actually talking about and how they don’t overturn what we are saying, in some cases support what we are saying, or are irrelevant to what we are saying (1 Cor. 2:14 etc. for example)

        In any case, it is in your best interest to examine those passages and get what they are actually talking about, and not what you think they should be talking about in order to debate those who disagree with your soteriology.

        If you examine texts with that in view, you miss what they are really talking about.

        In brief though, and I leave it up to you to search for my larger argument posted elsewhere, here are your John 6 verses.

        John 6 is about following God’s instruction (check the Ex. 16 echo). John 6 says:

        No one can come unless drawn. All have been taught. The listened and learned come.

        Now, if no one can come unless drawn, and the listened and learned come, it follows that it is the listened and learned are who are drawn.

        Listening and learning comes prior to being drawn. Hence, out of the all of those who have been taught, the listened and learned ones come, which can not be done unless drawn, so they are thus the listened and learned ones drawn.

        Listening and learning, following instruction (echo Ex. 16) is important, which is why Jesus is bothering with teaching here in the first place.

        There is nothing here that says the reason the Jews in this passage do not come is because God has passed them over from all eternity, nor because God has no desire at all to draw them, but rather, it because they will not listen and learn, and so are not drawn to Christ.

        In the repeat of 6:65, what was this said in response to? Verse 60, the teaching was hard and unacceptable, Jesus sensed their offense, and they did not listen and learn. Can’t come unless drawn/granted, the listened and learned come, this the listened and learned are the drawn/granted.

        It isn’t hard to understand, and as Norm pointed out, nothing in being drawn gives an automatic response of faith (God is the subject of helkuo in Nehemiah 9:30, and the draw there is not irresistible, nor is it in John 12:32 when Jesus is the subject).

        Since Calvinists seem to never let Jesus finish his thoughts (especially in John…see Calvinism and John 3 for example), they misrepresent what He is teaching and totally miss what the texts are actually saying.

        Surely a man with your credentials and library knows that one can’t simply cite a proof-text or two, spout of some presupposed inferences, and think one has made any kind of point with any kind of merit whatsoever.

        Again, you will have to dig for the longer version of this argument made here, and also in your own reading realize who Jesus is speaking to, why he is telling them this, and the context of what part of the narrative and the when of Jesus’ ministry this dialog occurs.

          dr. james willingham

          Jotnathan: I rather suspect I have considered more arguments than you have years, and your arguments are really arguments of contexts which are excuses for pretexts. I began my ministry believing like you all, but I found that the truth was man’s Fall was his ruin, a ruin to the point where it requires a miracle of God’s supernatural grace to save the sinner. Since you don’t answer my arguments, why should I answer yours?

            Norm Miller

            To the contrary, my good doctor; a text without a context is a pretext.
            Context eliminates pretext.

              dr. james willingham

              Dear Norm: Let one be able to determined the context and he can make the text say or mean anything he desires. The context thus becomes an excuse for turning the text into a pretext. However, we need to remember the Bible is a book that speaks to us in texts, the meanings of which are established by the usages of the word. Consider Mt. 22:31, Have you not read that which was spoken to you by God saying, referring to what was spoken to Moses from the Burning Bush as also spoken to the Sadducees and others of His day, and by like consideration spoken just as surely to us. Then He cites the words, I am the God of Abraham….etc., finding in the tense and action of the verb the very idea that the men were still living on another plane of existence and thus proving the doctrine of the resurrection of the Body. Now look at the idea of Jn.6:44,65, you all have conceded that those verses teach that man is unable to come until God grants him the power. Basically, by saying so much you all have conceded the point. Then you think you have proven libertarian free will, a gift from God, but where in Holy Scripture is such a truth taught? Jesus said it well, men cannot come to me, and :you will not come to me that you might have life. So He has to overcome two things in bringing men to Himself, one is the inability and the other is the unwillingness to come. So He uses the term, draw, in several passages, and we find that the meaning of the word allows for drawing a sword from the scabbard and for dragging Paul and Silas through the streets, both of which suggest at the very least a drawing force greater than any resistance. And certainly that can be assumed in the drawing with which God brings men to Himself. Persons drawn thus, can give all glory to God for doing it all. People who have, if there is any such thing, libertarian free will can brag on their own choice. Norm, it won’t fly. Just because Calvin says some things you don’t buy and I am not all that enamoured of Calvin either, finding Gill in this instance a better representative of the word of God, it does not follow that this theology of Sovereign Grace is all wrong, especially in view of the fact that it was this theology which launched the great missionary movement.

            Johnathan Pritchett

            “I rather suspect I have considered more arguments than you have years”

            I am terribly sorry all your years of study have availed you very little by way of understanding, no offense.

            “Let one be able to determined the context and he can make the text say or mean anything he desires.”

            Indeed, and we’ve seen this in Augustine, the beginning of all erroneous theology in the West, Catholic or Protestant, and we’ve seen error scale new heights and compounded in bogus categories of thought and interpretation from the “magisterial” Reformers, who had very little of an understanding of anything written down through the inspiration of the Spirit by the apostles in the first century Ancient Near East.

            ” Then you think you have proven libertarian free will, a gift from God, but where in Holy Scripture is such a truth taught?”

            Where is determinism taught. Much your your fallacious reasoning, as exemplified above in your posts on Acts, has come from the fact that if you see the word “determined” in your English translation, that says God determined to accomplish something, you make the rookie error of imposing a philosophical import of determinism qua determinism as the means by which all things occur (much like atheism, paganism, the Essenes, the Epicureans, and any number of Paul’s rhetorical foes, and ours today) just because the word “determined” is in the Bible. Equivocation error.

            Well, dern it…turns out determinism qua determinism is not in the Bible anywhere. Nor does the word Sovereignty imply it. Sovereignty has to do with status of authority and rulership, and nothing whatever to do with determinism. You didn’t invent Greek, much less English, and you don’t get to make up new definitions for old words and mandate everyone else agree with your private definitions and your private Biblical interpretations which come from them.

            At least the word freewill is in the Bible, even if it pertains to offerings. While the term is used for offerings, it presupposes even the earliest orthodox Hebrews like Moses had an understanding of free will as it relates to the un-necessitated, and brought it into use. Indeed, every church father until Augustine believed in a free will devoid of either fatalism or necessity. As did the Pharisees like Paul, which Josephus confirms. I.e. libertarian freedom. Why I or anyone else would go with a North African gnostic-influenced neo-platonist-run-amuck who couldn’t even get Pelagius canned until after he died, barely understood Greek, butchered parables, pulled much Romansim doctrine out of his rear that still stinks up the RCC today (and some Protestant traditions as well), and sang out of tune solos that butchered the other Fathers’ harmonies who actually knew the Greek, and some of whom were actually instructed by the Apostles…and then go and worsen it by going with clueless post-Medieval Reformers who compounded such errors is beyond me.

            By the way, what do you think grace is in the Bible? What is grace’s function in the Ancient Near East? To which does it pertain. I am not asking for mere lexical definition, I am asking you to tell me the conceptual framework and function of it, as it was understood by the original audience of these oral documents.

            Can you even answer that? Do you even know?

            We’ve entertained your assertions long enough. It is time you field our questions.

              dr. james willingham

              Well, Johnathan, I am not sure where you got your information about Augustine importing pagan philosophy into his theology, but I had occasion to write two papers, one on Calvin and Augustine in a graduate course on Aristotle at the University of South Carolina (I was teaching a course on Philosophy to the prospective graduates in education at the at time at South Carolina State) and a paper on Augustine and Aristotle in a class on Church History (the particular subject of the subject escapes me now) in Seminary (SEBTS). In both cases I was seeking to find out whether the two men had imported Aristotle’s Unmoved Mover into Christian Theology. In both cases in which I cited their works, I found that neither one had done so. Both introduced the Unchanging God based on the Biblical texts to that effect (to mention two from memory, Malachi 3:6 and Hebrews 13:8) and then they both gave indication that God was self moved (a flaming heresy with Aristotle whose philosophical deity was totally unconcerned and unconnected to the world) which made good sense in view of the self change of God in His Son’s Incarnation. And before you go off in a rant from now on, you should take careful stock of what is being said. The two papers are still in my collection, but, unfortunately, are in one box or another of hundreds of boxes which I am unable to unpack except a little bit at a time, due to a weak heart. (For all practical purposes I fell dead on the Memorial Day weekend after performing a wedding and getting all the documents handled and was going to set down to a steak dinner and, if it had not been for a defibilator in my chest which gave my heart a shock while I was unconscious, I would not be here in this world where every bit of truth is under attack constantly). So my discussion with you is being conducted under some limitations on my part.

              My main field is American Social and Intellectual History for my Master’s which involves a good deal of Philosophy (besides I had an undergraduate minor in that field, not counting religious courses). My work in Greek involves researches into the words, etc. So I am not as lacking in that area as you might think. And I think I have as good acquaintance with determinate counsel and foreknowledge as you. As to the ministers prior to Augustine, you might do well to examine John Gill’s Cause of God and Truth though, if memory serves, some had heaped scorn upon that work. However, I have it as well as some of the early church father’s works in my library. Long ago, I hunted down a number of references in Gill’s work to see if he was quoting people like Justin Martyr, Ignatius, and Clement of Rome correctly. I found that he had quoted them correctly. Concerning Gill’s scholarship, I only know of one huge mistake he made, that of claiming antiquity for the vowel points. Other than that, He fully deserved the doctorate which the University of Glasgow bestowed upon him.(an amazing fact, considering how the other Protestants despised our Baptist predecessors at the time…they were still throwing them in jail and whipping them in Virginia in that century..o yes and fining them in Massachusetts, when there theology was Sovereign Grace just like the Congregationalists and the Presbyterians and the Episcopalians.

            Johnathan Pritchett

            “Since you don’t answer my arguments, why should I answer yours?”

            Rubbish.

            I have answered every actual argument you make. Sadly, they are very few. You mostly make assertions and spout off empty theological platitudes that I find as uninteresting as I do irrelevant.

            This is just your cop out because you haven’t the capacity to answer my arguments.

              dr. james willingham

              Dear Johnathan, rubbish back to you as your answers are wanting in many respects.

            Johnathan Pritchett

            And wouldn’t it be great for you to point out how they are wanting instead of just shooting your mouth off…again.

Lydia

“By the way, what do you think grace is in the Bible? What is grace’s function in the Ancient Near East? To which does it pertain. I am not asking for mere lexical definition, I am asking you to tell me the conceptual framework and function of it, as it was understood by the original audience of these oral documents.”

I would like to hear what you learned as the function of grace in the Ancient Near East, Jonathan. This is an area that is of great interest to me

    Johnathan Pritchett

    In a nutshell, it is a part of the “social-economic” system of patronage in a patron/client reciprocity system. Patrons, or benefactors, give benefaction (some gift or gifts) to clients because the clients can not secure such gifts themselves, usually because they are poor, but not necessarily always. The key is the unequal status of the parties, with the patron being in the higher position, naturally. This is done out of the beneficence of the patron, who is under no obligation to extend such gifts, and has every right to set the conditions on the clients for their receipt of the benefaction that the patron sees fit. There is the expectation of gratitude in return, as well as “faith”, or a loyalty to the patron to boost the patron’s honor. These essentially functions as the basic conditions the client takes on in receiving the gift, however, all manner of conditions can be attached, generally speaking, per the prerogative of the patron. Though, the patron is also esteemed as honorable just for extending the benefaction even if not received, so a rejection of grace not only does nothing to bring shame upon the patron extending the benefaction, but actually shames those who would refuse it.

    As David DeSilva puts it in Honor, Patronage, Kinship and Purity, “From many ancient witnesses we learn that there is no such thing as an isolated act of grace. An act of favor and its manifestation initiate a circle dance in which the recipients of favor and gifts must ‘return the favor,’ that is, give again to the giver…Only a gift requited is a gift well and nobly received. To fail to return the favor is, in effect, to break off the dance and destroy the beauty of the gracious act.” (p. 106)

    Clearly the NT authors used this kind of language in the New Testament, and it is what the original audience would have understood. For me, it is why I, along with Eric Hankins and others, think phrases like “irresistible grace” or “prevenient grace” are kind of goofy and basically misnomers that miss the point in my opinion. As Hankins finely put it on these matters, “Such speculation does not emerge from clear inferences from the Bible, but is actually a priori argumentation designed to buttress Augustine, not Paul.” Though, the latter at least somewhat seems closer to what is going on here, since God initiated the benefaction through the sending of the Son to provide grounds for salvation. The former just doesn’t wash, since it is a conceptual misfire on what patrons do and what clients either do or not do in response.

    In reality, the grace of God (either in His beneficence or His benefaction offered) that saves is Jesus Christ and the Gospel itself (see Titus 2:11-14 for instance), which demonstrates both God as possessing beneficence and extending the greatest of benefaction, namely, salvation. This would be include Christ’s life, teaching, the atonement, work as prophet, priest, and king, the Spirit convicting the world of sin, bringing new life, etc. All of it. The grace of God comes to us via the Gospel proclamation and the work of the Spirit convicting the world of sin. (Romans 10: 14-17; John 16:8-11; et al)

    This is why the above discussion on the proclamation of the Gospel being a “well meant offer” has teeth, and why Calvinists are being taken to task over this issue since they maintain they also uphold the well meant offer of God’s grace in the Gospel as well. But like Paul, we implore people on behalf of Christ, as His ambassadors certain God is appealing to them through us, for them to be reconciled to God. (2 Cor. 5:20) This is Paul discussing what he does in evangelistic ministry. Which includes ministry at places like Mars Hill, where many people reject his message.

    While the Calvinist himself may mean well when proclaiming the Gospel, and then resort to claiming ignorance on who God has predetermined to extend grace to or not as a defense of this well meaning. But that misses the point. The point is whether or not the offer is well meant because it is implored to people on behalf of Christ since we are God’s ambassadors. Is the offer well meant by God or not? That is the issue, because we implore not on their behalf, not on our own behalf, but on behalf of Christ. If a theology must conclude “not”, this dishonors our Patron whom we represent, since He isn’t actually extending the benefaction at all to some people, even though our patron’s beneficence and benefaction is being proclaimed by us on behalf of Christ, as His ambassadors certain God is appealing to them through us, for them to be reconciled to God and that it can be received through repentance and faith as the conditions of receiving the benefaction given by God out of His beneficence.

    In short: it matters.

    Now if it were possible Calvinism were true (it isn’t), and that idiotic statement of Spurgeon that “Calvinism is the Gospel” is true (it isn’t), then in order to not misrepresent our Patron or deal with people unjustly, this rather huge caveat, that some in our audience may have no hope or chance of receiving salvation offered in the proclamation, would be central to the teaching and presentation. Curious we don’t find it in any Gospel preaching in the book of Acts.

    Anyway, a couple of good primer books on the social background data of the Greco-Roman culture, with a view of its use in Scripture, would be “Honor Patronage Kinship and Purity” by David deSilva, and also a newer book, though really good for laymen just getting into it is “Misreading Scripture with Western Eyes” by Randy Richards and Brandon O’Brien.

Lydia

Jonathan, Thanks so much for the brief overview. I had taken a look at the Misreading Scripture book on Amazon before but will go ahead and get it. . I had come across the patron system in reading some of the codes a long time ago but did not connect the dots. It is funny because I do remember thinking it was a form of servitude in some ways to the patron and one hoped the patron was merciful!. But when I was reading your overview I was thinking slave of Christ….my yoke is easy, my burden light….

My view is that Calvinism presents a sort of “bait and switch” God. One who chose you before the foundation of the world but then comes proclaiming, “Repent and believe” knowing some have not been chosen or given the ability to respond. There is more to it but don’t want to go into it here. I suppose I have to wonder, if the ability to not respond is true, what was the point of it all for the kingdom on earth, here and now?

dr. james willingham

My, my, Johnathan, your reference to Spurgeon is quite a put down. Funny, why God should bless him to build the biggest Baptist church in the world in the 19th century and to influence people by millions from England to America to Australia to Africa and other parts of the world. People reading his works in America were converted in so doing. People thought so much of Spurgeon, they even named their children after him. In the year he died, a couple here in North Carolina named one of their sons after Spurgeon, giving him that name as his first name. He would later be converted and be called to the ministry and earn three degrees (B.A.; M.A., from Wake Forest College, and M.Th. from Southern Seminary) and pastor churches in this state until he died in the mid-fifties. When I came to the Gum Springs Church in ’72 one of his sons was a deacon. That son would take me on visitation and he continued to do so through out my ministry at that church (11 years). I preached his funeral in Jan of 2012 and his wife’s funeral in January of this year. Spurgeon was evidently favored of God to win souls. Just think of his saying, while trying the acoustics of Royal Surrey Gardens or Royal Albert Hall (I forget which), “The blood of Jesus Christ his son cleanseth us from all sins.”(I Jn.1:7). A worker hear him fell under conviction, laid down his tools, went home, and was converted. And then there is the case of a fellow who worked on Sundays, but one Sunday he felt he should go hear Spurgeon and during the sermon Spurgeon made specific reference to his job and his working on Sundays (without knowing the fellow or what he did) and it led to the man’s conversion. If Calvinism is so bad as you seem to think, why in the world did God bless those who believed in such theology? Have you considered Whitefield and what he did and what Ben Franklin (not exactly a friend to the Gospel) had to say about him in his autobiography? Or have you read what George W. Truett had to say about Spurgeon and Spurgeon’s theology of Calvinism? Do you know that Truett said, “Calvinism pressed down the crown of responsibility on the brow of man”? That remark was made by Truett at the Spurgeon Centennial in the Royal Albert Hall in London in 1934, where Truett was introduced by the Prime Minister of the then British Empire for the occasion. Seems that the institution for which Norm works is named after Dr. Truett. Hence, the respect Truett had for Spurgeon (Read his address in one of his books. I have it, but it is boxed and I can’t recall the title of the Book, but I think it was the Inspiration of Ideals.” Remember, dear brother, you not only smear Spurgeon’s good name, you also smear the good name of Truett and John A. Broadus A.C. Dixon, just to mention three.

    Johnathan Pritchett

    Look, all I said about Spurgeon was regarding a comment he made. I said nothing else about the man.

    That you wrote a whole post about Truett and Spurgeon over an aside like that is a bit trivial.

    If someone said “Arminianism/Savabilism/Molinism/whatever is the Gospel”, my suspicion is that you wouldn’t think much of that comment. At least you shouldn’t think highly of comments like that.

    Jesus Christ is Israel’s Messiah and the world’s true Lord, who was born of a virgin, lived a sinless life, died for our sins, was buried and resurrected, according to the Scriptures, and all who believe in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life is the Gospel.

    Any statement about what the Gospel *is* that begins with any other subject of the sentence than Jesus Christ is an idiotic statement in my opinion.

    It should also be in yours as well.

Lydia

“Funny, why God should bless him to build the biggest Baptist church in the world in the 19th century and to influence people by millions from England to America to Australia to Africa and other parts of the world. ”

Perhaps it is the same for Joel Osteen? God is blessing him, too?

    dr. james willingham

    Dear Lydia: Not when Spurgeon and Osteen preach such radically different theologies. Spurgeon did not try to please the crowd. I would say that Calvinists/Sovereign Grace ministers (I prefer the second term) and Traditionalists as well are not in the business of being people pleasers. I really am apprehensive for Osteen. By the way Lydia, the Lydia of the Bible, that is one of my favorites, for I desire inscribed on my tombstone, Rev.3:29 and Acts 16:14. The first reference is to how the Lord appeared to me (I suppose it was a vision but it could have been a hallucination) about 20 feet from me in a church where a Youth For Christ meeting was being held in St. Louis on Dec.7, 1957. He had one arm raised like He was knocking at a door and He was looking at me. I fled that place as soon as I could, determined to tell no one what had happened, but before I got home I decided to tell my mother and that led to my conversion. Rev. 3:20 covers the first part and Acts 16:14, “whose heart the Lord opened,” covers the second part. :)

Ben Simpson

Johnathan,

This is in response to your comment at 04-09-2013, 23:37. We need some fresh room. So, I moved down here in the thread.

I still have no idea where you are talking about when you supposedly explained in a comment on Rick’s first post in this series how salvation and conversion are not identical. I looked at the comments of the first post but didn’t see what you’re talking about. So, either provide a link, state it again, or drop it. PERIOD.

That’s quite an interesting debate tactic you are using. There’s probably an official name for it, but I’ll just call it “head ’em off at the pass.” You try to guess where your opponent is going, and then attempt to blow up his argument before he ever makes it. Unfortunately, you headed to the wrong pass with your misguided attempt to “ruthlessly caricature” where you thought I was going when I asked “Why are not all people saved?” I’m sure you’ve shot and missed before, but do you always feign hitting when missing?

As for your second “head ’em off at the pass” attempt, you characterized any who might attempt to argue against Norm’s analogy in the way you projected as “foolish,” “ignorant,” and “stupid.” You basically dared somebody to take up the “I have to plug in my cord” part of the analogy and risk being labeled with such negative adjectives. Surely you know that poisoning the well is bad debate tactics. Furthermore, your poisoning the well mixed in a little ad hominem tactics as well. That’s certainly one way to debate, but it’s a poor one. You basically try to bully a person into shutting up, but it fits your tough-guy persona on the internet. Nevertheless, I’m your huckleberry.

Norm said, “Look at [soteriology] this way, as I do: I want to turn on my living room lamp, but I see it is unplugged. If I want to empower the light, what do I do? And where is the power that actually makes the light work?” He and you are focusing on the electricity that lights the bulb, which represents the power of salvation that is completely from God. I wasn’t arguing that. In fact, I agree with him. The power of salvation is completely from God, but I was arguing how it is that a person personally receives the power of salvation. So, while I might have not argued against Norm’s main point in his analogy, the main point of Norm’s analogy in actuality missed the main point I was arguing. So, I picked up the part of the analogy that I was actually arguing, which in no way is “foolish,” “ignorant,” and “stupid.” You made it to the right pass this time but tripped over fallacies once you got there to no avail.

It’s funny that you say that my prepositions are a distinction without a difference when you were the one who argued that conversion and salvation are not the same. I was simply highlighting conversion (ie, the power unto salvation), which leads to salvation (ie, the power of salvation).

Finally, you asked if I agree with your answers in your little skit. Let’s see:
Q: Why are not all people saved?
A: Not everyone is saved because not everyone believes.

Q: Why doesn’t everyone believe?
A: Because God decided to save those who believe, and decided to not save those who reject Jesus.

Q: Why do some believe and not others?
A: Because some responded to grace by receiving it via repentance and faith, others rejected it.

I can only halfway agree with you because you completely stayed on the level of man’s activity (eg, believing, not believing, receiving, rejecting). It’s not that you said anything wrong. You simply didn’t tell the whole story. You never got on the level of God’s activity. God had absolutely no part in your answers other than setting up the mechanism of salvation, and once God has decided to offer the mechanism of salvation, man is the only deciding actor. It’s sort of like that old saying, “”The Lord has voted for you. The devil has voted against you. You must cast the deciding vote.” There’s so much more going on than that, at least according to the Bible. There isn’t a single point of our salvation from beginning to everlasting that God is not the deciding actor. Praise be to God for His grace!

    Norm Miller

    “God had absolutely no part in your answers other than setting up the mechanism of salvation, and once God has decided to offer the mechanism of salvation, man is the only deciding actor.” Ben, this has been asked/answered so many times.

    Ben Simpson

    Norm,

    Where was God in his answers, other than deciding to set up the mechanism of salvation?

      Norm Miller

      Must Johnathan answer a question you and others have posed before, and have been given answers repeatedly? Your question leads to total inability and ordo de salutis, and Dr. Allen has answered both of those matters.

      Ben Simpson

      Norm,

      I’m sorry. I’m not intentionally being obtuse. Which question are you talking about?

      Johnathan asked me if I agreed with his answers, which were given to questions he made up in his “theater” in the thread above. I suppose I did ask him the first question, which he then brought into his “theater.” I was simply restating the questions and answers he posed there. I don’t think I asked him any questions.

      I did ask you where God was in Johnathan’s theatric answers other than in setting up the mechanism of salvation. That’s the only place I see God in his answers, but perhaps he was just being concise.

    dr. james willingham

    Dear Ben: I like your answer to Johnathan, and to your summary of his understanding, “God votes for you, the devil votes against you, and you cast the deciding vote,” I would like to add this one, “You vote no, the devil votes no, and God votes yes. Guess whose vote is the deciding vote?” Ben, you and I know the answer: It is God’s vote that counts, cause man will vote no every time until God votes yes.

      Norm Miller

      Gents, we will have to agree to disagree. If I send you an invitation to a dinner party, Doc, it is your decision to say yes or no. There is nothing paradoxical or therapeutic about that. I have already said ‘Yes’ to you by sending the invitation. And the decision is yours as the invitee, not mine as the host, to determine your answer.

      This illustration represents how I understand the Scriptures on the matter. I will not convince you otherwise, nor will you convince me otherwise, so let’s leave it here, please.

        dr. james willingham

        Dear Norm: Okay, I will cease and desist, but as I leave I am sure you will appreciate the chessy cat’s grin that remains in the air after he has vanished away, :) (Hope you like light humor)

          Norm Miller

          Doc: One must have a sense of humor to undertake the moderation of a blog, esp. w/the few comments like below. Sometimes I laugh to keep from crying.

            dr. james willingham

            Dear Brother Norm: You have my deepest sympathy.

    Johnathan Pritchett

    Ben, Ben, Ben. You are my huckleberry in more ways than you even realize.

    Just as Norm’s post provided an opportunity to share useful, established principles regarding analogies, your post allows me to provide useful, established principles about informal fallacies as to what they are and are not.

    Per Norm’s excellent analogy. My response to him was to provide useful information. There is no well-poisoning there. Nor was there a dare. It was an illustration. You have now been disingenuous regarding the purpose of your pressing Norm’s analogy into service. You were using his analogy to demonstrate that Norm must conclude per your argument that the power regarding some or other preposition related to salvation was of man. There was no agreement and then you raising a different issue, there was fake agreement on a distinction without a difference where you tried to make on to get on Norm’s good side, in which then you were trying to saddle Norm with a position that his analogy illustrated wasn’t what he believed in the first place. As such, it counts as foolish. You may have not meant to be foolish, but it was. To avoid even that appearance, exercise your own brilliance and use your own analogy. If you had done that, you still would have been trying to overturn Norm in that the power regarding salvation is somewhere in man, “of”, “unto”, whatever, which Norm rejects and used an analogy to demonstrate why. Either way, it was a semantic game with a manufactured agreement that you could then turn around and break using his analogy stemming from a peripheral.

    That Norm entertained you anyway simply means that he is a nicer person than I am. Nothing more. We do not believe man has the power “of” or “unto” salvation.

    When an opponent ever drives you batty in the future regarding an analogy you made, you will find yourself evoking the useful principles you now decry as “well-poisoning”. Don’t be so quick to do so, because it also has application whenever engaging liberal or secular textual critics on regarding parables, by the way. Just own up on this one and let it go…

    Anyway, no well-poisoning, and no dare. Just useful, illustrated information.

    As for ad hominem. This is often misunderstood. People think that any insult, making sport or fun at the expense of someone else or whatever is ad hominem. This is not so, nor what I did. Ad hominem has a specific definition: attacking a man rather than the argument as the means defeat the argument. That insults, making sport or fun, or whatever occurs during argumentation is not, in fact, ad hominem. Were this so, we’d have to dismiss Matthew 23 as one long fallacious rant.
    ***—-Though, if you think you are right and I am wrong, I don’t appreciate what you are implying about my God and Savior the Lord Jesus Christ being fallacious!—***

    That bit above…that is actual well-poisoning, not the useful, established information I provided with an illustration (not dare) regarding analogies.

    Johnathan Pritchett

    As for my theatrics. I didn’t keep it at any level. It was merely an approx reenactment of the sort of conversation where you were trying to take us before you were “headed off at the pass”. Heading off at the pass is something I will do whenever I see fit. Why? Because Ben, your posts are as predictable and unsurprising as you are tired and redundant. It isn’t prophecy, it is just experience. Since nothing you have said I haven’t seen coming, I see no reason to think you may be going somewhere I don’t predict since that has yet to happen, and as such, again, I will head off at the pass whenever I think it proper to do so. Be thankful I do it as little as I do.

    As for being a “tough guy”, perhaps. So, you need to get “tough” and tackle the tough issues of the debate. I am a “tough guy” I suppose because we are always hearing from our Calvinist opponents how everyone who disagrees with Calvinism talks nothing more than philosophy, random proof-texts, and presupposed theological blather.

    These posts, whether anyone likes my tone or not, stand as evidence that it is the Calvinists who do that, not us. It has been nothing more than us answering the philosophical stuff from rhutchin, the random prooftexting from Dr. James Willingham (with next to no commentary demonstrating that they are even relevant, he just cites them as if that alone proves some point or other), and finally, the presupposed theological blather from you, Ben.

    My huckleberry indeed. Thanks for your service.

    So, get your big boy pants on, there are plenty of options for you to get “tough” on the tough issues. You can take me to task over the salvation and conversion issue, which I will not be dropping until you bring something to refute it other than a truism I already affirm. EXCLAMATION POINT

    Nor will I refer you a third time to where I stated what salvation is, why man has no power in it on our view, and how it is different than conversion.

    There is also Acts 2, Acts 4, 1 Peter 1 just hanging out there, as well as stuff on John 6.

    Those are your “anchor texts”, not ours, right? Go take me to task on them. I welcome it.

    Those, my friend (or not, perhaps) are worthy of both of our time. Continuing our rhetorical tit-for-tat sparring that is now devoid of any meaningful content at this point is not.

      Ben Simpson

      Actually, Bro Johnathan, your tone sadly reveals nothing but your immaturity in the Lord and your deep-seated insolence. You are neither as tough nor as smart as you think you are. The fact that you have to turn to ridicule, mockery, and namecalling may not prove in and of itself the weakness of your argument, but it certainly proves the weakness of your character.

        Johnathan Pritchett

        Yeah, all that rubbish you just wrote, that’s an example of ad hominem, and obviously a “no, I don’t have what it takes on the taking up the real issues so I will name call and make it about what I think of you” kind of thing. Talk about poor character and immaturity…find the nearest mirror, sport, and direct those words to yourself.

        .

          Ben Simpson

          Johnathan,

          You are right. I did resort to ad hominem, which is out of bounds. I can certainly take up the real issues, but it was wrong of me to attack you personally. It wasn’t a good representation of Jesus. I let my flesh rule. I’m sorry and ask your forgiveness.

            Johnathan Pritchett

            Ben,

            Done and no problem.

            I don’t take all the clashing rhetoric so personal. It takes quite a bit to offend me. Maybe I think everyone else is the same way on that in debate when perhaps they are not.

            Challenge/riposte is what it is, and it goes where it goes. Perhaps in another time or place, it wouldn’t be read as harsh as it looks.

            If I have offended you, I am sorry as well.

            Perhaps we can just move on.

        dr. james willingham

        Dear Ben: I think you have rightly and accurately summarized Brother Johnathan’s problems. Per Brother Norm’s instruction I ceased to respond to his comments, since it is obvious that to do would reduce us to a mud slinging context, detracting from our Lord’s glory and honor. However, he cannot resist the opportunity to take aim at one who will no longer consider responding to his remarks as the one aimed at me in his comment to you. Norm, I protest. I have kept the peace.

        Johnathan Pritchett

        You guys bear false witness, and your own posts stand as a witness to this charge. You act is if my posts only contain “ridicule, mockery, and namecalling” and nothing more, and act as if your posts do not contain those things.

        Typically, my responses are in the same manner as comments towards me. Again, read what you all write. However, I don’t have a problem using “ridicule, mockery, and namecalling” when it is called for. If those things are a sign of immaturity and poor character, then I gladly join the ranks of Isaiah, Ezekiel, Jesus, Paul, James, Peter, and Jude who also did those things when necessary. Its good company, and in and of themselves, those are not signs of immaturity and poor character.

        That I am better at it than you guys, and that you guys don’t like to be on the receiving end of it though you had it coming given the comments made in YOUR own posts is your problem, not mine.

Ben Simpson

Norm, you certainly caught my attention when you said invitation to dinner. You invite, and I’ll not be contrary in my choice. Yes from me all the way!

    Norm Miller

    Does everyone who writes LOL really lough out loud? I did.

      Johnathan Pritchett

      I do, and I don’t always say LOL every time I LOL even.

      But I find lots of things funny. I even find it LOL funny when a clever quips against me in arguments such as the ones above are landed perfectly. ;)

      I just don’t let them know that what I really thought was, “ouch, that was a good one”.

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