Archive for the 'Uncategorized' Category

08
Aug
19

Authentic Evangelism/The Message/The Gospel Call

13
Jul
19

A Response to Kevin Thompson on Predestination.

13
Jul
19

Leighton Flowers’ View of “Conversion.”

14
May
19

Predestined–But When?

Southern Baptist Traditionalist, Leighton Flowers, along with his merry band of soteriological synergists, has posited a view they call “Corporate election.” The idea is that God has chosen no one but Christ, and believers become God’s elect when they, by their libertarian free will decision, unite themselves to Christ by their faith. Additionally, he states that predestination occurs once a person has made this decision. Once the sinner has made his choice, a choice that he is able to make because he is humbler and more pliable than other sinners, God, then and only then, predestines that he will be conformed to the image of Christ or glorified.

Has anyone noticed that in Romans 8:30, predestination precedes calling—“Those he predestined, he also called?” And, this call is “according to God’s purpose”(v.28). The call could not be according to his purpose [a purpose Leighton argues did not exist antecedently to the sinner’s decision] if the purpose were subsequent to the call.

They have also denied that there is a biblical distinction between the universal call of the gospel and an internal and effectual call. It should be clear to any thinking person that if the call eventuates in justification, it must have been an effectual call. Still, even if one understood the call as nothing more than the hearing of the gospel message, God’s decree to conform his people to his Son, would have to have occurred prior to their being united to Christ by faith and not subsequent to that union having been established.

11
May
19

Less or More?

  • One gets the impression in listening to soteriological synergists [Arminians, Semi-Pelagians, Southern Baptist Traditionalists, and those who flirt with Pelagianism like Leighton Flowers] that they think Calvinists believe God has done less to bring all sinners to salvation than they believe he has done. In reality, Calvinists believe God has done nothing less to bring sinners to himself than they believe he has done. Both groups believe God has flooded sinners the with the revelation of his glory, in creation, conscience, commandments, Christ’s redemptive work, and conviction by the Holy Spirit. We both believe he has clearly expressed his desire that sinners repent and bow before him in humble submission to his sovereign reign and that he has promised to pardon freely all who thus return.

    If you should ask about prevenient grace, my questions would be what is there that is accomplished in this mysterious work of God about which the Scriptures never once speak, that is not accomplished by what Calvinists would call common grace? If someone should answer that it grants to the sinner the power of free will, we would have to ask how the speaker understands the concept of free will. If we should take the definition the Traditionalists have given, i.e., “the ability to choose between two options,” we would have to ask whether all do not concede that all rational beings have that ability as a part of their constitution as human beings. Do we mean by the term, the ability to choose other than we have chosen? If so, we would state that this ability is not granted either by prevenient or by effectual grace as long as we do not mean that we have the ability to choose that for which we have no desire and to which every fiber of our beings is totally averse. This ability does not need to be granted to any sinner. Additionally, the same would apply to the concept that sinners act voluntarily and not by compulsion. No one should deny this. The problem is that all the prevenient grace in the world will not remedy the sinner’s indisposition to choose what he ought to choose and reject what he ought to reject. The problem is not his inability to choose the right if he so desires but his lack of desire to choose the right. There is no evidence that prevenient grace, whatever it may be, does anything to change a sinner’s inmost desires

    The difference is that Calvinists believe God has done more to bring some sinners to himself than he has done to bring all sinners to himself, and synergists don’t think he has the right to do that. He is not free to do for one sinner what he does not do for another. When one boils all the fat out of it, the issue is whether God has the right to be God or not.

  • 01
    May
    19

    What the Traditionalists in the Southern Baptist Should Have Written

    Several years ago a group of leaders in the Southern Baptist Convention, spooked by the specter of a rising tide of Calvinism within the ranks of the SBC and under the direction of Dr. Eric Hankin, contrived a document they called “A Statement of the Traditional Southern Baptist Understanding of God’s Plan of Salvation.” When one reads the preamble to this document, at least two things become obvious.  The first is that those who wrote the document and those who later signed it are painfully ignorant of Calvinistic doctrine, and the second is that they wrote it for the purpose of counteracting the dreaded plague of Calvinism in their cherished denomination.  This is what they stated in the preamble—“ The precipitating issue for this statement is the rise of a movement called “New Calvinism” among Southern Baptists. This movement is committed to advancing in the churches an exclusively Calvinistic understanding of salvation, characterized by an aggressive insistence on the “Doctrines of Grace” (“TULIP”), and to the goal of making Calvinism the central Southern Baptist position on God’s plan of salvation.”

    If that is an accurate assessment of their purpose, one would have expected that the concepts they affirmed would have been teachings that Calvinists deny and the ideas they denied, would have been teachings that Calvinists would affirm.  Interestingly, this was not the case in many of their affirmations and denials. Consider, for example, the following statements from their preamble to which any true Calvinist would say a hearty AMEN!

    They wrote,

    “Traditional Southern Baptist soteriology is grounded in the conviction that every person can and must be saved by a personal and free decision to respond to the Gospel by trusting in Christ Jesus alone as Savior and Lord.”  And, “Baptists have been well-served by a straightforward soteriology rooted in the fact that Christ is willing and able to save any and every sinner.”

    If their goal was to pee on a tire to mark their territory, I suppose they have accomplished what they wished to accomplish. If their goal was to open an honest and meaningful dialogue between themselves and Calvinists, they could not have failed more miserably.

    I have reproduced here what they affirmed and denied in their declaration and what they should have affirmed and denied if they wished to address the real issues that separate them from soteriological monergists, A.K.A. Calvinists.  I am not suggesting that everyone who signed the document had sufficient theological understanding to fathom the depths of the issues under consideration. I am not suggesting that everyone who signed the document necessarily embraced all the implications I have suggested that their doctrine entails.  What I am boldly stating is that it is the issues under the heading “What They Should Have Affirmed and Denied” which Calvinists are concerned to address and not the “straw man” implications suggested by many of their affirmations and denials.  In large part, the issues that divide us are seen in the contrast between what they should have affirmed and what they should have denied.  Generally speaking, what they should have affirmed from their point of view is what Calvinists deny, and what they should have denied is what Calvinists have affirmed. These are the real issues we should be discussing if ever we are to find unity concerning these essential doctrines.

    Consider the contrast between what they affirmed and denied and what they should have affirmed and denied.

    What They Affirmed and Denied

    Article One: The Gospel

    We affirm that the Gospel is the good news that God has made a way of salvation through the life, death, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ for any person. This is in keeping with God’s desire for every person to be saved.

    We deny that only a select few are capable of responding to the Gospel while the rest are predestined to an eternity in hell.

    What They Should Have Affirmed and Denied

    Article One: The Gospel

    We affirm that the gospel is the good news that God has made a way of salvation through the life, death, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ for every person on the condition of their free will decision but has not secured the salvation of any person in particular. This is in keeping with God’s desire for every person to be saved, a desire that is subjugated to the sinner’s free will decision.

    We deny that anyone is incapable of responding positively to the gospel or that God has decreed to permit anyone to remain in their sins and perish.

    What They Affirmed and Denied

    Article Two: The Sinfulness of Man

    We affirm that, because of the fall of Adam, every person inherits a nature and environment inclined toward sin and that every person who is capable of moral action will sin. Each person’s sin alone brings the wrath of a holy God, broken fellowship with Him, ever-worsening selfishness and destructiveness, death, and condemnation to an eternity in hell.

    We deny that Adam’s sin resulted in the incapacitation of any person’s free will or rendered any person guilty before he has personally sinned. While no sinner is remotely capable of achieving salvation through his own effort, we deny that any sinner is saved apart from a free response to the Holy Spirit’s drawing through the Gospel.

    What They Should Have Affirmed and Denied

    Article Two: The Sinfulness of Man

    What they affirm is unequivocally contrary to what Calvinists affirm.

    We deny that Adam’s sin resulted in the incapacitation of any [every] person’s autonomous will.

    We deny that any person is saved apart from an autonomous free will response to the Father’s ineffectual persuasion.

    What They Affirmed and Denied

    Article Three: The Atonement of Christ

    We affirm that the penal substitution of Christ is the only available and effective sacrifice for the sins of every person.

    We deny that this atonement results in salvation without a person’s free response of repentance and faith. We deny that God imposes or withholds this atonement without respect to an act of the person’s free will. We deny that Christ died only for the sins of those who will be saved.

    What They Should Have Affirmed and Denied

    Article Three: The Atonement of Christ

    We affirm that the penal substitution of Christ [that does not actually substitute for any sinner in particular] is nothing but a mere provision that, in itself, did not secure the salvation of any sinner. Though there is provision for the salvation of any sinner who decides to let Jesus’ save him, Jesus’ death was not actually and objectively intended to save any sinner in particular. The sole factor that determines who will be saved and who will be lost is the sinner’s autonomous decision and has nothing to do with God’s design and intention at all.

    We deny that this atonement was intended objectively to secure the salvation of any sinner in particular or that God had any specific design in sending his Son apart from making a mere provision. Furthermore, we deny that any sinner will have this provision applied to him apart from the decision of his autonomous will. We deny that Jesus actually accomplished the eternal redemption of any sinner in particular since he objectively accomplished no more in his redemptive work for those who will make their autonomous free will decision to let him save them than he did for those who will finally be lost.

    What They Affirmed and Denied

    Article Four: The Grace of God

    We affirm that grace is God’s generous decision to provide salvation for any person by taking all of the initiative in providing atonement, in freely offering the Gospel in the power of the Holy Spirit, and in uniting the believer to Christ through the Holy Spirit by faith.

    We deny that grace negates the necessity of a free response of faith or that it cannot be resisted. We deny that the response of faith is in any way a meritorious work that earns salvation.

    What They Should Have Affirmed and Denied

    Article Four: The Grace of God

    We affirm that the grace of God is not intended to secure the salvation of any favored sinner so that God actually brings salvation to any person based on his prior intention, but has determined to permit millions of sinners to perish in unbelief rather than to violate their autonomous will. We affirm that though the sinner’s autonomous will decision cannot, in itself, merit a right standing before God, that decision that is determined by his greater humility, pliability, spirituality, intelligence, etc., is the sole factor that distinguishes him from other sinners. He and he alone is the one who makes himself to differ from other sinners.

    We deny that God’s gracious efforts to save sinners are effectual in any sense but depend completely on the sinner’s autonomous decision to cooperate with God’s ineffectual efforts. We deny that God distinguishes between sinners on any ground other than the sinner’s autonomous decision.

    What They Affirmed and Denied

    Article Five: The Regeneration of the Sinner

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

    We deny that any person is regenerated prior to or apart from hearing and responding to the Gospel.

    What They Should Have Affirmed and Denied

    Article Five: The Regeneration of the Sinner

    We affirm that regeneration is completely unnecessary in regard to bringing sinners to repentance and faith in Christ. The wooing of the Holy Spirit is never effectual in bringing sinners to Christ. There is no real reason for God to change a person’s heart and disposition since those who respond to the gospel are already humble and pliable and willingly respond to the gospel when wooed by the Holy Spirit.

    We deny that any person’s regeneration is effected by the work of the Spirit removing his disposition to resist the free overtures of the gospel in response to which he is responsible to repent and believe.

    What They Affirmed and Denied

    Article Six: The Election to Salvation

    We affirm that, in reference to salvation, election speaks of God’s eternal, gracious, and certain plan in Christ to have a people who are His by repentance and faith.

    We deny that election means that, from eternity, God predestined certain people for salvation and others for condemnation.

    What They Should Have Affirmed and Denied

    Article Six:  Election to Salvation

    We affirm that election to salvation is an invention of Calvinists and Arminians that did not occur at all. We do not believe that God had a gracious plan to save any sinner in particular but only chose a plan according to which he would save any sinner who was sufficiently humble and pliable by nature to make the right decision. We affirm that it is possible that God would never have a people of his own since the outcome depends fully on the sinner’s autonomous will decision and not on any plan that Calvinists and Arminians have imagined that he may have had.

    We deny that God has any control whatsoever in regard to the salvation of sinners.

    What They Affirmed and Denied

    Article Seven: The Sovereignty of God

    We affirm God’s eternal knowledge of and sovereignty over every person’s salvation or condemnation.

    We deny that God’s sovereignty and knowledge require Him to cause a person’s acceptance or rejection of faith in Christ.

    What They Should Have Affirmed and Denied

    Article Seven: The Sovereignty of God

    We affirm that though we believe God has knowledge of all that will occur, he has sovereignly relinquished all control of the universe to the sinner’s autonomous will decision, and would rather see millions of sinners perish in their sins than to remove their stony hearts and grant them a new disposition that would cause them to willingly comply with the demands of the gospel.

    We deny that God’s sovereignty over all things means that he has the right to deal with his creatures as he has seen fit. We deny that he has the right to pass over guilty rebels and leave them to their just destruction and choose to redeem others who are equally guilty and bring them effectually to salvation.

    What They Affirmed and Denied

    Article Eight: The Free Will of Man

    We affirm that God, as an expression of His sovereignty, endows each person with actual free will (the ability to choose between two options), which must be exercised in accepting or rejecting God’s gracious call to salvation by the Holy Spirit through the Gospel.

    We deny that the decision of faith is an act of God rather than a response of the person. We deny that there is an “effectual call” for certain people that is different from a “general call” to any person who hears and understands the Gospel.

    What They Should Have Affirmed and Denied

    Article Eight: The Free Will of Man

    We affirm that, as an expression of his Sovereignty, God granted an autonomy to sinners that cancels out his own autonomy. It is the sinner’s autonomous will that determines all that occurs in human existence. We affirm that since sinners have responsibility to make proper choices and the ability to make improper choices, they must also have the ability to make proper choices. [We could add “Since we are completely ignorant of what Calvinists truly believe, we do not realize that no Calvinist would ever deny that sinners have the ability to choose between two options”].

    We deny that God has any part in actually enabling sinners to believe. Whatever assistance he may give to any, he gives to all so that it is nothing but sinners’ autonomous decisions that determines their salvation.

    What They Affirmed and Denied

    Article Nine: The Security of the Believer

    We affirm that when a person responds in faith to the Gospel, God promises to complete the process of salvation in the believer into eternity. This process begins with justification, whereby the sinner is immediately acquitted of all sin and granted peace with God; continues in sanctification, whereby the saved are progressively conformed to the image of Christ by the indwelling Holy Spirit; and concludes in glorification, whereby the saint enjoys life with Christ in heaven forever.

    We deny that this Holy Spirit-sealed relationship can ever be broken. We deny even the possibility of apostasy.

    What They Should Have Affirmed and Denied

    Article Nine: The Security of the Believer

    We affirm that God’s purpose and promise to keep and save any believer completely, waits for and depends on the sinner’s autonomous decision to believe. Prior to this decision, God has no purpose for any sinner in particular. Once the sinner responds to the gospel in repentance and faith, God responds to his decision and determines to save him completely.

    We deny that there are false professors whose profession and outward conformity to Christian standards may be no different from that of true believers who are in real danger of certain apostasy since they were never truly converted.

    What They Affirmed and Denied

    Article Ten: The Great Commission

    We affirm that the Lord Jesus Christ commissioned His church to preach the good news of salvation to all people to the ends of the earth. We affirm that the proclamation of the Gospel is God’s means of bringing any person to salvation.

    We deny that salvation is possible outside of a faith response to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

    What They Should Have Understood Apart from a Profound Ignorance of Calvinism on Their Part

    Article Ten: The Great Commission

    Unless one believes in the salvation of infants and the mentally challenged, Calvinists would agree with the last article.

    The following are the issues that Calvinists and SBC Traditionalists need to discuss:

    The issue in Article 1 that divides Calvinists and non-Calvinists is not the free and universal offer of the gospel but whether God has determined to make the gospel effectual in bringing a chosen people to himself, or has done all he intends to do and has left the issue in the sinner’s hands to determine the outcome by the exercise of his autonomous will.

    The issue in the denial of Article 2 is not whether sinners are able to freely choose between two or more options but whether sinners are able apart from divine enabling to choose to love and trust the God against whom they are hostile.

    The issue in Article 3 is not whether the redemptive work of Christ is of sufficient value to save every sinner who will repent and believe but whether it was God’s intention merely to provide the possibility of salvation for sinners who would do their part and receive the gospel, or infallibly accomplish redemption for a multitude that no one can number to whom he would effectually apply that redeeming work by bringing them to faith and repentance.

    The issue in Article 4 is not whether God has made a gracious and abundant provision for every sinner who will repent but whether his saving work is a mere provision or a saving accomplishment. Additionally, the issue is whether some sinners are more prone to salvation because of their humility, pliability etc.

    The issue in Article 5 is not whether sinners are regenerated prior to or apart from hearing the gospel, but whether sinners in a state of pervasive corruption will ever respond rightly to the gospel unless God removes their disposition to resist its demands.

    The issue in Article 6 is whether God or the sinner is the final arbiter in the sinner’s salvation. Did God choose a people or a plan and leave the success of that plan to the sinner’s autonomous choice.

    The issue in Article 7 is whether God is sovereign over any sinner’s salvation at all, not whether his sovereignty requires him to cause any sinner’s rejection of faith in Christ. Ultimately, the issue is whether God has the right to rule his creation as he desires.

    The issue in Article 8 is not whether sinners are able to choose between options but whether they have the ability to choose that for which they have absolutely no desire and to which their entire beings are absolutely averse.

    The issue in Article 9 is not whether true believers are secure for eternity but apostasy is a possibility for those who have professed faith in Christ. The evidence of true conversion is a persevering faith.

    The issue in Article 10 is that the document implies that Calvinists do not believe in a free and universal proclamation of the gospel and that they believe a person can be saved apart from a belief in the gospel.

    28
    Apr
    19

    Divinely Caused Love: Is It Genuine?

    One of the soteriological synergists’ favorite lines is that if God caused people to love him [they usually prefer inflammatory terms like “forced”], that love would not be genuine. My question is whether they consider divinely caused obedience to be true obedience. In Ezekiel 36:25-27, Yahweh promised to give a new heart and a new spirit [disposition] to hard-hearted sinners. Additionally, he promised to put his Spirit within them and cause them to walk in [obey] his statutes and keep his rules. It seems to me this becomes especially significant when one considers that every law God has ever given depends on two commandments [see Matt. 22:36-40] and obedience to one of those commandments [love for God] results in obedience to the other [love for one’s neighbor]. Genuine obedience to God reflects genuine love to God. Now, if divinely caused obedience is true obedience, would it not follow that the love from which that obedience results would also have to be genuine and divinely caused as well?