"I went to Jerusalem to become acquainted (Gk. istoria) with Cephas" - Paul's words from Galatians 1:18.

"Foreknowledge" Means More Than Just to Know

Last Friday morning Dr. Chuck Kelley, President of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, was called upon by Dr. Vines to open the John 3:16 Conference with prayer. Before Dr. Kelley prayed, he said that we are in a crisis of evangelism unparalleled in the history of the Southern Baptist Convention, caused by a resurgence of Calvinism. He then thanked the organizers of the John 3:16 Conference for hosting such an important event to determine the appropriate response to Calvinism. From the opening comments and prayer, I felt that the second day of the John 3:16 Conference might be just a tad tougher on Southern Baptist Calvinists than the previous night. I was correct. Over the next few posts I will offer some observatios about the second day of the John 3:16 Conference beginning today with Dr. Richard's land assessment and response to the Calvinistic doctrine called “Unconditional Election.”

Dr. Richard Land, President of the Christian Life Commission; “Unconditional Election.”

Dr. Land’s title for his presentation was called “Congruent Election: Understanding Salvation from an Eternal Perspective.” Dr. Land is a D.Phil from Oxford, and is both bright and articulate. He stated clearly in his introduction that he did not believe at all in L of TULIP (Limited Atonement); he believed totally and completely in P of TULIP (Perseverance of the Saints); but as he would show in this particular session, he only believed in fractions of Total Depravity, Unconditional Election and Irresistible Grace as defined by the Calvinists. Then he made his money statement, “If God had chosen to send Jesus to die for the elect, He would still be a loving, merciful and gracious God – but, that is not what the Bible teaches.”

Land proceeded then to explain what he believed the Bible to teach in terms of election. He began by showing what he called “The Leland Compromise,” which is the name designated for the view of salvation held by 19th Century Baptist John Leland. Dr. Leland believed in both the eternal purpos of God in election and the freedom of the human will. He believed that the preaching most blessed of God is that which emphasizes God’s sovereign grace with a little bit of Arminianism sprinkled in. Land said that Baptists in the south, seventy years before the formation of the SBC, followed Leland's view, emphasizing BOTH God’s sovereignty and human free will. Land observed that we Baptists are always at our best when both truths are emphasized. He added that too many preachers today try to rationalize one truth over the other.

Dr. Land then personally confessed “I believe election is consistent with the free will of man.” He then suggested the more difficult question is “How should election be defined?” Dr. Land proposed that some of the early leaders of the SBC, commonly called "The Founders," taught that God “unconditional elects” certain sinners to salvation, while excluding others. Dr. Land said this "Founders" view of election was contrary to the view of election held by the majority of Southern Baptist laymen at the time. Accordingly, said Dr. Land, some SBC leaders today hold to a view of the Calvinistic doctrine of "Unconditional Election" - a view not held by the majority of the SBC.

Dr. Land said this Calvinistic view of election arises when Baptists confuse the Old Testament teaching of God electing the nation of Israel with the New Testament teaching of God electing sinners. The former he called “Abrahamic election” and the latter he called “Salvific election.” He said Presbyterians confuse the church of the N.T. with Israel of the O.T., and Southern Baptists who hold to Presbyterian ecclesiology have made the same error and taught that God elects certain sinners (not all) to salvation, just like God chose one nation Israel (not all nations) to be His people. He then explained that Romans 9-11 is a consideration of NATIONAL election, and nowhere in Romans 9-11 is personal election to salvation the subject. He said Dr. H.A. Ironside helped him see that the Apostle Paul was referring to nations in Romans 9-11, not individuals.

Dr. Land then became specific on what he believed what the Bible taught about election. He quoted Romans 8:29 which states that we are elect according the “foreknowledge” of God. Dr. Land said God desires all (pas) men to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth. God willeth all men to be saved, and He has given His Son as a ransom for all, but He does not violate our freedom. He will not force us to be converted. He allows us to choose for ourselves.

But, according to Dr. Land, this is where God's “foreknowledge” comes in to play. God knows all things that happen in time - now. There is no "future" to God. Everything is now to Him. God treats sinners as either “elect” or “non-elect” because He knows what the sinner will choose from eternity. Time is irrelevant to God. Again, the future is the now to God. Therefore, He desires all to be saved, He gives His Son for the atonement of all sins without exception, and all that is lacking is the sinner’s reception of what God has provided, and God will treat sinners based upon His knowledge of how they will choose.

Dr. Land then made clear what is required for God to “elect” a sinner. “As the sinner attempts to respond to the saving work of God, then God gives to that sinner saving faith.” In other words, God gives the faith, and treats the sinner as His elect, His child, etc . . . when God sees “an attempt to respond.” He does not turn a deaf ear to the sinner who calls upon the name of the Lord. But, what makes Dr. Land’s view different from classical Armianism is Dr. Land believes God knows the decision of that believer BEFORE creation, and He gives eternal salvation based upon that sinner's initial "response" to God's redemption. God does not give that initial response, but God responds to the sinner's response. And, God treats that sinner who responds as one of "the elect" because God knows what the response will be from eternity. Thus, the title for Dr. Land's talk – Congruent Election. Dr. Land quoted C.S. Lewis who said “To God all the physical events and human acts are present in an eternal now.” God has all knowledge, and He knows which sinner will choose to receive what God has provided in Christ Jesus for every sinner.

My Disagreements With Dr. Land’s View of Election

I appreciated Dr. Land’s desire to protect the reputation of God as a loving and gracious God. It seems to me that most of the speakers at the John 3:16 Conference, including Dr. Land, were seeking to prevent what they perceived to be a Calvinistic belief in partiality – that God creates some sinners in order to save them, and He creates other sinners for the purpose of condemning them. However, if Dr. Land and others would think through their belief that God's "foreknowledge" is simply God "knowing" who would receive His redemption, then they would see that they also are faced with the dilemma of God creating people He knows He will ultimately condemn. God simply knowing the future "free will" choices of sinners does not exempt God from the accusation that He creates sinners with their destiny set before birth of ultimate condemnation.

If in the fulness of time a sinner, one that God knows will not choose to receive the redemption God has provided, comes to the moment of decision, it is impossible for that sinner to choose to receive Christ - for if he did, then God's "knowledge" would be imperfect, and God would not be God. In other words, if salvation is dependant upon a sinner’s response to God’s redemption, and if God simply knows how the sinner will respond, then God is creating sinners that He knows will never believe. He is therefore creating sinners that He will ultimately condemn. Why not just not create them?

To avoid this dilemma of asking why God creates sinners that He knows He will ultimately condemn, some Baptists, like Dr. Greg Boyd, now teach “open theology.” "Open" theists make the claim that the future is “open” and “unknown” to God. This denial of God's omniscience allows the claim to be made that God is TRULY desiring all sinners to be saved, so much so that He creates every human being with the sincere HOPE that the sinner will respond, but He does not really know if the sinner will - or will not - respond. This gives to open theists the peace of mind that God is not creating sinners He knows He will ultimately condemn. The future is open to God - it is unknown.

There is, however, another view. It is the orthodox, historic Baptist, and biblical view of "election." The very view Dr. Land seems to oppose. This view of election is held by those who believe the Bible teaches every human being justly deserves the condemnation of a holy God because every human being is a rebel against God. This rebellion (sin) is not God's fault, it is man's choice. While God takes no pleasure in the death and condemnation of the wicked, He does justly choose to bypass some sinners for deliverance from their rebellion in order that His holiness and justice might be made manifest. However, God has also graciously chosen to save an innumerable company of sinners through Jesus Christ for the praise and the glory of His grace. To those whom He has chosen to redeem, He has also freely given to them all things associated with their redemption, including the gifts of faith and repentance. Those sinners who repent and believe in Christ have experience God's gracious power, for "in the day of His power, His people are made willing." The belief that a sinner will only find Christ lovely when God awakens that sinner to the beauty of Christ is to give to God all the credit for a sinner's salvation.

God's grace and the absence of God's grace is a little like darkness and light. There is no such thing as darkness – it is simple the absence of light. One never really appreciates light until there is a comprehension of darkness. So too, God may choose to righteously punish sinners by bypassing them with His grace in order that those who experience His grace might appreciate what it is that they have received from their gracious God. Bottom line, it seems to me that if Southern Baptists really believed that every sinner is responsible for his or her rebellion to God, and that God is under no obligation to convert and deliver a rebel, then there would be no complaint that God chooses not to save every sinner, but there would be a remarkable astonishment and an unbridled joy that He has chosen to deliver even one sinner - not to mention the innumerable company of sinners the Bible says God has chosen to redeem.

Dr. Land is not an Arminian. He did an admirable job attempting to combine God’s sovereignty with man’s responsibility. However, I think both were not emphasized quite enough. Man is responsible - to obey God perfectly. God holds man responsible for this perfect obedience. Yet, no man seeks God. No man obeys God. No man listens to God. We are all rebels. We are all sinners. The fact that a great number of us will one day repent of our sins and fall in love with Jesus Christ is because He first loved us. Our salvation is due to God's unconditional choice to redeem us and shower us with His favor, which includes the softening of our hard hearts and the vivifying (regeneration) of our spiritually dead hearts. I agree wholeheartedly that if a sinner desires God to save Him, God will. But for a hardened rebel like me to even begin to desire Christ's Lordship, and for me to even come to the point that I hate my rebellion to God, then God must first change my heart. We love our rebellion way too much, and just as it is impossible for the Ethiopian to change the color of his skin or the leopard his spots, so it is impossible for those of us accustomed to doing evil to change our ways.

Contrary to what Dr. Land stated, I believe that when Southern Baptists sometimes talk like a little like Arminians might talk, or when we Southern Baptists sometimes theorize like Arminians theorize, or when we Southern Baptists sometimes debate like Arminians debate, we Southern Baptists might need to just do a little more biblical preaching and a little more gospel singing. The most powerful preaching of the Bible, and the most effectual singing of the gospel, comes from the preaching and singing that exalts the biblical truth that “God saves sinners through Jesus Christ.”

I am reminded of the story of Charles Spurgeon leading his congregation in singing one of the hymns of the famous Arminian Charles Wesley. The congregation sang:

“Long my imprisoned spirit lay, fast bound in sin and nature’s night.
Thine eye diffused a quickening ray; I woke, the dungeon flamed with light.
My chains fell off, my heart was free. I rose went forth and followed Thee.”

Spurgeon closed the hymn book and exclaimed “Wesley, where is thine Arminianism now?”

I really think when Dr. Land and other Southern Baptist preachers preach the Word, which both he and other Southern Baptists do quite well, the theorizing of congruent election goes out the window and God is given sole credit for sinners repenting and turning from their sin.

God's foreknowledge is not simply God "knowing" facts about His people; God's foreknowledge is God's everlasting love for His people. Adam "knew" his wife Eve and she conceived. God "foreknew" His people and they were redeemed. Thank God for his everlasting love (Jer. 31:3).

In His Grace,


Wade

104 comments:

Jason Epps said...

Wade,

A question of clarification: In connecting Paul's concept of God's foreknowledge to the Old Testament usage of the word "know" in the Old Testament, you seem to suggest that both usages carry the a similar, relational-type connotation. I say this because you say something to the effect of "God's foreknowledge means more than just know facts....it is His love." I have difficulty with placing too much weight in this connection for two primary reasons: First, in my study of Greek philosophy, the Greek concept of knowledge which seems to be employed by Paul is a heavily cognitive, as opposed to a relational (as with the Hebrew), concept. Now, Paul was from amore Hebrew as opposed to Greek worldview, but the evidence of his epistles demonstrates several occasions when he uses "gnosis" is a way that is clearly meant to be cognitive. Therefore, to take his use of "proginoskos" (I think this is the term - I would need to consult my Greek text to make sure) and immediately assume that the root "gnosis" refers to the same relational concept as in the Hebrew text seems problematic because of Paul's many uses of the same in a contrary fashion.

Because you are a Calvinist whom I greatly respect, I would appreciate your take on this issue.

Blessings,
Jason

Wade Burleson said...

Jason,

I do not necessarily disagree with your assessment of "foreknowledge" in Romans 8 - except for one little textual point.

The Greek text speaks of PEOPLE whom God "foreknows." For "whom" God foreknows.

The object of the foreknowledge leads one to believe the verse is relational - not cognitive.

I wish I could respond further, but I am on my way to the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma. Serving as parliamentarian this year, so I will be unavailable for further response. Thanks for the question.

Blessings,

Wade

Jason Epps said...

Wade,

I think I understand your position, but I remain a bit skeptical of the idea that because the object of God's foreknowledge in this case is people that an emphasis on cognition over and above the relational is NECESSARILY the case. I see the point you're making though. Maybe we can talk of this further someday - have a good time at the convention, brother.

Blessings,
Jason

Anonymous said...

As I read the post I kept running into statements by Dr. Land that I wanted to reply to. But you eventually got there and you did it well.

One question that helped me and one that might be helpful for those wanting to understand more is the question: "Why do some people believe and others do not?"

No need to mix in any other questions here really. No discussion of free will or foreknowledge or who created sin or God's justice vs His mercy or anything else.

I would always ask myself this: "Why did I believe and a particular friend or family member did not believe? Was I smarter than them? Do smart people have a better chance at making the "right decision"? Did I simply see my need for a Savior and they didn't? If so, why did I see my need and they didn't?

These questions bothered me enough to cause me to plunge deeper.I pray they might be helpful to others.

SL1M

Bob Cleveland said...

Wade,

If God knows that a certain person will be saved, then it must be certain that person WILL BE saved.

That begs the question as to WHY it is certain. Does God (a)know it BECAUSE it is certain, or (b) is it certain BECAUSE God knows it?

If (a), what, then, makes it certain? Fate? Circumstances? Luck?

There goes omnipotence.

If (b), then, well .... there you have it. Election.

Anonymous said...

Bob - I wish you would refrain from commenting immediately after me. Your comments always make mine like stupid.

And I can almost get there by myself. :)

SL1M

Bob Cleveland said...

And for another thing..

God is not sitting in some court of man's manufacture, awaiting our verdict as to whether He is a loving and kind God, based on some observations of men offered in testimony. What we know about Him is what He has revealed to us. What we see that confirms that is useful. But our conclusions about God which arise from our comparisons of His behaviors to our perceptions of fairness, are simply another illustration of man's ego.

SL1M .. whoops .. sorry, but I have to have SOMETHING to do when I can't sleeo.

Benji Ramsaur said...

I agree with Wade said about Romans 8:29.

There is a big difference between saying "for 'what' God foreknew" vs. saying "for 'whom' God foreknew".

Dr. Land is interpreting the text as if it said "what" instead of "whom".

Also, in the same Epistle of Romans, Paul again uses "foreknew" [11:2] in relation to people--Israel.

It would be silly to take this verse to mean that God has not cast away the people of Israel that He knew "about" beforehand.

God knows beforehand "about" everyone [Israel and Gentile]. Therefore, there would not be anything special in bringing up God knowing "about" Israel in the first place.

God knew Israel beforehand [not merely knew about them].

God knew people beforehand and their ultimate end is glorification--Rom. 8:29-30.

chadwick said...

Wade,

Could Land's 'congruent stance' be viewed as the FIRST STEP to Open-Theism 101?

Are those who follow Land's 'congruency' a 'heart-beat' away from embracing Open-Theism?

chadwick

Benji Ramsaur said...

Wade,

When Dr. Land said the "'Founders' view of election was contrary to the view of election held by the majority of Southern Baptist laymen at the time" did he provide any evidence for this assertion?

NativeVermonter said...

While always endeavoring to learn more about the Doctrines of His Marvelous Grace, I find my obedience to the Word far more lacking than my understanding.

Jon L. Estes said...

From assessment of Land by Wade: He added that too many preachers today try to rationalize one truth over the other.

I like Dr. Land and appreciate the work he does for our convention before the Lord but I have problems with the above idea as Wade shares because the John 3:16 meeting and some of the shared remarks by the preachers at the meeting are doing what Dr. Land is sharing is being done too much, rationalizing one truth over the other.

R. L. Vaughn said...

Just an aside to the main topic, but you wrote, "Dr. Leland believed in both the eternal purpos of God in election and the freedom of the human will." I've never heard John Leland referenced as a "Dr." before. Any info on this?

Lin said...

I suppose I am a bit more pedestrian in my thinking...but to me it all goes back to 'how' we are saved. It is a supernatural act. There is no way I could see the depths of my sin and my need for a Savior until the Holy Spirit showed me...and keeps showing me...making me see His Glorious Mercy and Grace.

Anonymous said...

During my seminary days I wrestled with the ideas of Calvinism. I resisted them because I didn't want to become like all the calvinists I was told about (you know, all the ones that never shared the gospel - :)

Biblical truth cannot be drawn from experience, but sometimes experience testifies to the truthfulness of Scripture. What I mean is this...After wrestling with these doctines, I can clearly see that now I (this is just me), have so much more awe of God, and I fing praise welling up inside me more than ever before because of what God has done for me. I was elected for the praise of His glory, and by-golly I praise Him more now that I understand election.

Robert

Bill said...

Of all the objections to Calvinism, I find this one the hardest to comprehend. As a Calvinist, I understand the difficulties inherent in our position, and understand the well reasoned and biblically based arguments against them, although obviously I am not ultimately convinced by them.

However I have always found the "elected because I selected" doctrine pretty lame, and the biblical arguments for it almost non-existent. If God chooses us based on our choice of Him, how is that a choice at all?

All of this brings up one major question: Can God fail?

If God wants every single person to be saved, and is trying His best to achieve that goal, and yet every single person is not saved (or even most), then God is not only failing, but failing most of the time.

Bob Cleveland said...

Oh, and let me trot out my favorite mantra again ... in the 33+ years I have been in Birmingham, every single time someone has asked me "If you were to die tonight, do you know where you'd spend eternity?" (or some other "key question") it has always been asked me by a Presbyterian.

NEVER ONCE by a Baptist.

And the last pre-Baptist church (it was Presbyterian) we belonged to, their missions budget was automatically 50% of the amount of their other operational budget.

In my experience, Baptists who harangue about Calvinists not being missions-minded are either uninformed, or ... well ... I'll leave it at that.

NativeVermonter said...

My favorite missions ministry
http://toeverytribe.com/

Guess what their theology is?

Jon L. Estes said...

I wonder why so many people are afraid of reformed thinking.

At least from the cheap seats I can afford, that's the way I see it.

Mark Richardson said...

I think there should be a John 6:37 Conference:

"All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out."

Jesus said that, not Calvin.

Mark

Elisabeth said...

My first pastor was a Calvinist. He also said we are to evangelize, we are to go on mission trips because we don't know who the elect are that haven't yet become saved. And how are we to say that it wasn't us that God means to bring the words of salvation to these people?

Me, trying to reconcile God's omniscience with Man's free will just gives me a headache. :-p

Anonymous said...

Wade:

Thanks for the follow up article regarding Dr. Land's message.

I think that is actually a good thing that we are discussing theology in the SBC and not just programs.

I hope that the discussion remains on a high level (i.e. no comments about more reformed Baptists not doing evangelism, or comments about less reformed Baptists being stupid), and that it does not occupy all of our time so that we lose our emphasis and interest in actually working on God's mission for the church.

I am actually a bit fearful that your future posts on this subject are going to repeat some silly statements made at this meeting. I hope they were not made, but I fear that they may have been.

As I have stated before, I have found that a younger generation of people in the SBC is more reformed than the older generation. I do not find them less interesting in evangelism than the older generation, but I do find that there are cultural differences that explain why the younger generation does not buy into the evangelism methods that were used by the older generation.

At the SBC a couple of years ago, I heard two SBC evangelists talking about the fact that they were not getting many churches to schedule them for meetings. I like SBC evangelists and have fond memories of hearing some of them as a teenager.

However, our church does not have revivals and we would probably never schedule the services of either of the two evangelists that I listened to that day. While I appreaciate these men greatly, their cultural presentation would be completely foreign to our congregation from a cultural standpoint.

I wonder to what extent some of the concerns related to "Calvinism" in the SBC, while stated and genuinely intended as being theological, is really a concern about the programs and strategies of SBC churches no longer being that effective.

I have said this before, too, but I will repeat that I believe that Baptists have what secular people would call a "Brand" problem. I believe it is due to the hyper-political activity of many Baptist churches that results in fighting and instability that is repeated sometimes on a national level over very minor issues (e.g. the John 3:16 Conference itself may be a manifestation of that if it devolved into name calling etc. I hope it did not). I also believe it is due in some places to the fact that many Baptists may not be effective in personal evangelism because they are out of touch culturally with many people.

Louis

D. Sanders said...

It’s about time the Southern Baptist Convention have a full hearing on these doctrines. I like our chances :) Just wondering... what was the average age of those in attendance? I have a feeling demography, may take care of those who hold the ragin' anti-Calvinist view.

Anonymous said...

God by His Omniscience knows all things, past, present and future.

God's foreknowledge is based upon God's fore-ordination. He knows individuals, because he has ordained their salvation.

in Matthew Jesus said to a group of religious men, ''I never knew you,''that is, ''You were never an object of my approbation.''

If God did not choose men, none would be saved.

Dr. Paul W. Foltz

Benji Ramsaur said...

"I wonder why so many people are afraid of reformed thinking."

Ya know Jon, that's an interesting thought.

And I think I am going to engage in some speculation here of which I freely admit could be fallible.

I wonder if the American ideals, if I may call them that, of both freedom and security have been merged with the Bible in the minds of many.

Is it not a strange oddity that both libertarian free-will [LFW] and eternal security have gotten married in theology?

They are not married in Arminian theology. They are not married in Calvinist theology.

They are married in much American theology.

It would seem that people would take note that if they have the freedom to choose or not choose Christ, then they would also have the freedom to unchoose Christ after they have chosen Him and thus always be [in]secure.

So, what explains the marriage of LFW and eternal security?

Well, if it is an American ideal that no one writes our destiny, but us in that we are the ones who "freely" make our history...

And

If it is an American ideal to be secure from any and all threats while having that freedom...

Then

I wonder if this is where the "interesting" marriage comes from--two American ideals and not Scripture.

If so, then the doctrine that God predetermines your destiny [Rom. 8:29-30] and the doctrine that you are not free apart from the effectual drawing of God [Jn. 6:44] would seem to undermine the abiding union of those ideals.

But again, I'm just speculating.

Anonymous said...

Benji: you have posed an interesting question. I believe that the American experiment has impacted the church.

Dr. Hobbs was known for relating salvation to voting. "God has voted for you. Satan has voted against you. You have the deciding vote. How will you vote?"

Louis

Anonymous said...

D. Sanders: I asked the same question when Wade reported on the conference in his last blog.

The Together for the Gospel conference had 5000 in attendance and attendees were young and vibrant. The speakers were all intellectual types, and there was no entertainment value at all. I wonder about the age of those attending this conference and how many are there.

Louis

Pastor Bob Farmer said...

If Romans 9 were simply speaking of National Israel, then why does Paul use individuals, Esau and Pharoah, etc. as examples. Certainly Jacob could be construed as National Israel but does that make Esau and Pharoah representative of all other nations? If so, why does he then bring the question to the individual, "who are you, o man, answering against God?"
Ultimately the position Land espouses is that Man not God is the final arbiter of Salvation. I think people give to much consideration to Land's academics and not enough to what he says or actually knows (after all he did support a Mormon for president).

Jason Epps said...

Random thought: I find it extremely encouraging to see people doing theology on a blog! With all the negative imagery we see coming out of some blogs, it's nice to see people discussing this kind of thing - I think it's a good thing for us and very healthy!

J

Bob Cleveland said...

Maybe also, within us, is the desire to see results from what we do. Maybe we internally crave to think there's some credit to us, when we do something and see someone's salvation follow.

I think there is that desire, and that calls into question all our pronouncements of "all glory to God".

Otherwise, why aren't we satisfied .. even blessed .. to just go and do as we're told? And if we're satisfied doing that, why do we even have to wonder who's responsible for the decision of the folks hearing our witness?

I think the resistance to election and predestination, both of which seem to be biblical concepts, might just stem from the same "human nature" desire that got Adam and Eve into trouble in that garden incident.

Les Puryear said...

Wade,

To me, the saddest statement of all which you mentioned is the following: "Before Dr. Kelley prayed, he said that we are in a crisis of evangelism unparalleled in the history of the Southern Baptist Convention, caused by a resurgence of Calvinism." (emphasis mine)

Where is the evidence to support such an outrageous statement? To me, this smacks of a presupposition on Dr. Kelley's part without any factual foundation.

Just as I expected, this conference has raised Calvinists as the new boogy-men of the SBC. This would be sad if it wasn't so predictable of the fundamentalist mindset.

I wonder how many sinners Dr. Kelley has led to Christ this year?

Les

johnMark said...

Attendance: Just from looking around I thought there were more than 1,000 folks present, but I was wrong. The last official count from Jerry Vines, I was told, was about 800.

Land: During the Q&A a Calvinist asked about Nations being made up of people and how this doesn't therefore move into individual election. Land only repeated what he said about Ironside and Abrahamic election. he didn't answer the man's question.

During the Q&A I was in the balcony live blogging so I didn't get to ask a question. Too bad...

Mark

Bill said...

I have to echo Les here. I don't doubt that a waning of evangelistic zeal is a problem in the SBC. I seriously doubt, without some convincing stats to back it up, that it is due to the resurgence of Calvinism. Does anyone have evidence of such a claim?

johnMark said...

Les,

There is no proof only assertion.

Which, among other questions, is why I wanted to ask,"A recent Lifeway study that discovered only 10% of SBC pastors are “Calvinistic.” Also, baptist scholar and Arminian, Roger Olson in his recent book Arminian Theology claims that most of the churches in America are semi-pelagian or pelagian. Given these two positions why is there not more focus and uproar against these heresies Dr. Olson states in the SBC instead of Calvinism?.

Mark

Anonymous said...

PSYCHIATRIC HELP: 5 cents please.
The Doctor Is In


Charlie Brown: Do you think Snoopy will be allowed into heaven?

Lucy: Of course not, you idiot, he's a dog. God does not let dogs into heaven, only people.

Charlie Brown: But, he doesn't know he's a dog. He thinks he's a person, one of the 'fur people'. He doesn't KNOW that he doesn't have a chance. He thinks he's going to be with the whole gang in Heaven.

Lucy: What are you going to do when you get to heaven, and Snoopy isn't allowed in?

Charlie Brown: I am going to ask the Good Shepherd to go out and find Snoopy and bring him in.

Lucy: The Good Shepherd only goes after LOST SHEEP, you idiot, not dogs.

Charlie Brown: Does He go after ALL lost sheep? Or just the ones He wants to go after?

Lucy: That's up to Him. He IS however on a mission of MERCY, but ONLY FOR THE SHEEP. If he is only a LITTLE BIT merciful, then a lot of those lost sheep are really in trouble.

Charlie Brown: This news is very depressing.

Lucy: That will be five-cents, please.



SO MUCH FOR THE GOSPEL: where's the joy? Where's the Good News?

MORAL: The sheep are 'in'.

If God chose to make YOU a dog, then you spend your eternity in the dog house.
SO, SHEEP RULE ?????

And I thought God loved dogs, too.
This is depressing news, indeed.

Bob Cleveland said...

Bill,

Having been an active Presbyterian for many years, I can tell you that Calvinism does NOT lead to any indifference toward evangelism. UNLESS one is looking for an excuse not to witness, in which case it's a pretty handy one.

OR unless you're looking for something on which to blame flagging attendance, indifference toward witnessing, and baby Christians, all of which we seem to have in abundance, which results actually stemmed from some other systemic cause. Like weak preaching, non-challenging SS lessons, "easy believism" offered by the churches, and a general lack of conviction regarding obedience to God's command to go forth and win the lost. Particularly where we've so emphasized a "burden for the lost", rather than simple obedience, and education as to how the individual member is to be raised up in his/her area of giftedness, and put to work within the body.

Or not. Just a guess.

Anonymous said...

The Together for the Gospel conference had 5000 in attendance and attendees were young and vibrant. The speakers were all intellectual types, and there was no entertainment value at all. I wonder about the age of those attending this conference and how many are there.


Mon Nov 10, 12:22:00 PM 2008


Let's be real careful what comparison roads we go down. Numbers have nothing to do with truth as witnessed by Osteen's church.

T4G has it's own problems with ESS and Patriarchy coming out of SBTS, SGM and it's heavy handed "discipleship" with authoritarian teaching (which now has 'survivor' blogs!) and Duncan as a baby baptizer.

It could be less of a 'reformed theology' road we are going down than a pro hierarchy, lord it over others doctrine that is attracting many young impressionable men who relish power. They love to follow exhalted leaders and they love rules and formulas to tell others how to live instead of the biblical teaching that we are merely servants with different gifts and there are no 'special' people in the Body.

Lydia

Anonymous said...

Lydia:

I am trying to compare the size, demographics of the respective meetings to see if it tells us anything about who and what types of conferences/discussions are more likely to influence the SBC in the coming years.

I am certainly not trying to compare numbers to see who is theologically correct. I had hoped people on this blog would get that in the first place without my having to explain it. Kind of like a good joke - if you have to explain it...

Your mention of Osteen is right on target.

Still, I suspect that much of the energy, challenge AND effective evangelism in the SBC may not be coming out of the less reformed camp, but out of the more reformed camp, which is truly ironic.

I don't know that to be the case, but it is interesting to see who is attending these things and who may really be seen as leaders today by the young pastors and leaders in the churches.


Louis

Anonymous said...

Hi Louis,

It's me, L's Gran

You wrote: "Still, I suspect that much of the energy, challenge AND effective evangelism in the SBC may not be coming out of the less reformed camp, but out of the more reformed camp, which is truly ironic."

If you have time, could you please explain "less reformed" and "more reformed" because I am confused about how the two differ?

If irony is involved in the application of "what each camp believes"
to "effective evangelism in the SBC"
could you please explain why you find irony present? L's

Kevin M. Crowder said...

I wonder if the time has come to defund anti-Calvinistic entities. Here is my short list. Feel free to add to it (or take away if I am wrong):

1. SWBTS
2. NOBTS
3. ERLC
4. MBTS
5. EC
6. MBC (64.5% of my CP dollars go to the anti-Calvinistic Missouri Baptist Convention)
7. ?

How are we going to "build bridges" when the SBC President hosts a Conference which calls into question the nuts and bolts of my soteriology? I have no problem working alongside Arminians or Arminists or Calminians for the sake of the Gospel. This new SBC president has at the very least just alienated 10% of the Convention. (Of course we know better than to accept the 10% number, it is indeed much higher, but even so.)

This conference should outrage many in the Convention. And judging from the blogs, it has nearly done just that.

Way to go Johnny!


-Kevin

Anonymous said...

L's:

Some of the people in the less reformed camp say that the more reformed people are not as evangelistic because of an improper emphasis on God's sovereignty and too little focus on man's responsibility.

I use the terms more and less reformed because of Baptist history. the SBC came from tje reformed tradtion, not the Arminian tradition.

louis

Les Puryear said...

Johnmark,

Excellent point and question. I also think Chadwick has an excellent question about the possibility of open theistic tendencies of some of our leaders.

To all,

Will someone who knows more than me (which is just about everyone) address Chadwick's question?

Evangelistic apathy is rampant within our churches and according to Lifeway's own study only 10% of our pastors are Calvinists. Dr. Kelley needs to rethink his position on the problem of evangelism in the SBC.

As for Dr. Land, perhaps he would be more convincing if he actually researched theological issues for himself instead of hanging his hat onto Dr. Ironside's shaky theology. Dr. Ironside is the guy who says the Holy Spirit can be removed from the world and people can still come to Christ.

Les

WatchingHISstory said...

wade

Wesley was praising prevenient grace not regeneration!

If Wesley was Calvinist, according to his lyrics, then Spurgeon was Wesleyan, The SBC is a Wesleyan denomination!

Actually isn't the doctrine of BF&M's enablement similar to Wesley's position? far removed from Spurgeon's position?

Anonymous said...

Hi LOUIS,

Thanks for the information. I did find this info on Wikipedia about Arminianism. Is this info. consistent with your understanding of the term 'Arminian' or is there another variation?

Thanks, if you can help. L's Gran

FROM WIKIPEDIA:
"Arminianism holds to the following tenets:

Humans are naturally unable to make any effort towards salvation (see also prevenient grace).

Salvation is possible only by God's grace, which cannot be merited.

No works of human effort can cause or contribute to salvation.

God's election is conditional on faith in the sacrifice and Lordship of Jesus Christ.

Christ's atonement was made on behalf of all people.

God allows his grace to be resisted by those who freely reject Christ.

Salvation can be lost, as continued salvation is conditional upon continued faith."

WatchingHISstory said...

Read my related post on my blog today

http://watchinghidtory.blogspot.com/2008/11/rogers-island-of-righteousness.html

Anonymous said...

Frames of reference:

1. No one disputes that God is all-knowing and knows ahead of time that a person will accept or reject Him.

ONE EXCEPTION: "To avoid this dilemma of asking why God creates sinners that He knows He will ultimately condemn, some Baptists, like Dr. Greg Boyd, now teach “open theology.” "Open" theists make the claim that the future is “open” and “unknown” to God."

2. God is a God of Justice. It is impossible for God not to behave in a just manner.

3. God is a God of Mercy. It is impossible for God not to behave in a merciful manner.

PROBLEM: Apparently, some in Christianity do not accept that God's mercy and justice occur throroughly without conflicting with each other.

Rather than accept that God is perfectly JUST and perfectly MERCIFUL throughout all eternity, some in Christianity think that God must perform JUSTICE at the expense of MERCY, or vice-versa.

Many in Christianity believe that God IS justice and God IS mercy, completely, without the sacrifice of either characteristic and that this is a GREAT MYSTERY that mankind cannot yet understand.

4. Some Christians disagree on how much of God's FORE-KNOWLEDGE of man's ultimate 'fate' affects how God will or will not INTERVENE to help a person. Herein variances to do with the nature of grace, salvation, and responsibility play out:

GRACE: freely given, we don't deserve it, helpful, we need it.
Does God give grace to ALL or just His 'elect'?

SALVATION: Christians are all over the place on the nature of salvation. Does God decide who will be saved before hand? Does the person have any ability to affect his own salvation? (Sample: choosing to believe in Jesus.
Sample: charitable actions towards others trumping other virtues. Sample: God's interventions prompting us to turn to Him for salvation: are the interventions to ALL? or just to the ELECT? )

RESPONSIBILITY: Has God decided before any effort on the part of any human, who He will save?

OR, does God offer, as a part of justice, equal opportunities to each of his human creations to choose between sin and acceptance of God? This one is especially difficult because ALL are equally compromised and sinful: begging the question 'Are ALL equally given God's loving care to enable them to accept Him?'

ARE WE 'programmed' by God to accept Him? Or, ARE WE given real choices and we must VOTE our choice whether or not to take God up on salvation?

SUMMARY: God picks his choices.
OR do "His" pick Him.
Some may think it is a combo of both.

5. CHRISTIAN RESPONSE TO THE WORLD IS AFFECTED BY THEIR FAITH FRAMEWORK:

a. What should a Christian do in the world and what should the motive be?

b. Are 'acts of loving-kindness' an expression of salvation OR are they seen as 'filthy rags' instead of 'fruit' ?

c. With the Christians who accept salvation by 'faith alone', what IS, if any, the value of the 'social gospel'? How is it that charity is more important than the faith that saved them? Or is 'charity' an expression of that faith? Many variations here.

These are some perspectives on faith frameworks and Christian responses.

Looks like 'shopping mall' Christianity: you go to the store that sells your kinda doctrines. Beware: the ones that come 'cheap'. The only Doctrine that everyone needs to buy is the one that was paid for by Jesus Christ: it's Cost was very dear.

Alan Paul said...

When my mom heard about this strange, new concept of predestination (strange and new to her) - she was flabbergasted at first, and then asked, "Well how do you knows who He's chosen?" and even better, "How do you know you're chosen?"

Her comment, I think, conveyed her understanding that God's mind is incomprehensible, and therefore, it is foolish and arrogant to assume we know God's mind by assuming we are His chosen. But I may be putting words in her mouth... but it was a good question - one that cannot be answered except to say that when you truly come under Christ's Lordship - whether He drew you or you chose Him or both, you KNOW that your heart has changed. I believe I told her I have tried numerous times to run away from God, but to no avail. he will not allow me that option. That's how I know I am chosen.

Bob Cleveland said...

I seem to have been somewhat logical so far, so I'll try to change that now.

Does it have to be 2008, to God, now? Does He exist in the present, only in this year? Could He exist now, listening to the Gettysburg address live and in color?

Could He be looking back on next year's SBC Convention?

Hmm... is He really limited by time? In either direction?

If we can't even comprehend the answers to those questions, then maybe we're onto something.

Alan Paul said...

YOUR dollars KMC? Or God's dollars entrusted to your congregation?

WatchingHISstory said...

ap

my daughter said the same thing to me about Calvinism.

Your answer was good! i like it!

Charles

Anonymous said...

I remember a movie, "Sophie's Choice", wherein a Polish woman was being taken to a concentration camp with her two children. She pleaded, in front of her children, for them to stay with her. The sadistic guard said, 'choose one' in front of the children.

We are all 'children' of the Creator. Would He sadistically say to one, 'You are mine', and not the same to the next one, in the conscious presence of both?
Apparently some openly feel they are the 'lucky ones'. Feeling happy about it? Don't. It shows a lack of humility, it shows presumption, it shows a lack of compassion for the ones who you believe were not selected.
Oh, and once, you're in the 'in crowd', don't dare judge ANYONE ELSE: the price is that you must then face the same type of judgment as your victim before the Lord.

There are people who ARE the 'chosen': for God's service in the world. They are given gifts to share with all of us. Gifts of healing and compassion and feeding and teaching. Everyone has a gift to share.

The very special chosen DO KNOW ABOUT IT: they are called to God's ministry and they KNOW THEY ARE CALLED.
They hear the Lord say their name and their lives will never be the same again. These people will give up everything to go and serve Him. You will mostly find them in the places no other Christians go: the inner cities, the prison ministries, the AIDS wards, the missionary fields, the third world slums.
THEY are the Chosen Ones, given the honor to serve Him in a special way. Why? Because they were humble enough. And as the quiet, persistent voice of the Lord called their name, their spirits listened and heard His Voice.

Anonymous said...

A child is born into the world as one of the 'un-elected'.

The child dies and is sent to hell, but at what age?

As an infant?

Or does God have some special 'nursery' somewhere for the souls of children that He is going to 'abort' from a chance for Eternal Life?

When the soul of the un-elected child is 'ready', then is it to be aborted into Hell?

What say the great theologians?

If you want to figure out what God would do: think about what He would do to a little child's soul.

You must think about it.

Is God an abortionist of a child's salvation, if that child is not among His 'elect'?

Place your doctrine in the simplest terms possible: the impact of it on a little child.

And then, see if your Doctrine still floats.

Ray said...

Wade, haven't there always been two groups of Baptists (particular and general)

Stephen Pruett said...

There is an interesting secular philosophy web site that addresses the question, "does forknowledge eliminate free will?" (http://www.iep.utm.edu/f/foreknow.htm). I can't find a flaw in the logic, and the conclusion is that forknowledge does not preclude free choice. In other words, God knowing in advance what choice one will make does not, at least not in a logical philosophical sense, eliminate free choice.

Given that some passages of scripture seem to conclusively indicate free will and some seem to conclusively demonstrate election, it seems to me that the answer must be some type of duality that includes both choice and election. If one view or the other was entirely correct, wouldn't there have been a consensus by now? Wouldn't someone have been able to articulate the position with enough clarity and to address objections will sufficient persuasion to convince all but a few diehards? Christians have been debating this for hundreds of years, and some of the most brilliant minds on earth have come down on each side. How long does this have to go on before we step back and heed the wisdom of Forrest Gump, "I think maybe it's both".

Excellent questions about how to fit God's absolute sovereignty into a view that includes a role for choice have been raised here. However, can't God choose to limit Himself? If God chose free will as a component of election and thus granted man a degree of sovereignty, is not this within the purview of God?

One other minor point. one of the most powerful philosophical arguments against atheism or agnosticism is that in the absence of God there is no rational basis for meaning or purpose. Meaning and purpose depend on two conditions; free will and a sufficient reference point (this is not entirely my formulation, but borrows heavily from Francis Schaeffer). If there is no free will (which nature only atheists contend) then we are merely robots acting in accord with natural laws. Free will is an illusion and no thought or action can possibly have any ultimate meaning because is it merely the result of a complex set of biochemical reactions. Even if we had free will but had no sufficient reference point there could be no formulation leading to ultimate meaning or purpose. To illustrate, if I lived in the year 1647 and found a laptop computer that slipped through a time ward, it would have no meaning or purpose for me. This object only has meaning because someone knows how to use it and gives it meaning. Of course, the only reference point sufficient to give human beings meaning is God. I relate all of this to state that I have presented this to a number of atheists and agnostics (including a Nobel prize winner), and they have been unable to refute it. This is a powerful way to give reasons for the hope that is within us. it would be a shame to rule out free will and move believers into the same philosophical category as those who deny the existence of the supernatural in general and God in particular. If it was clear in scripture that there was no free will, scripture would trump philosophy. However, I don't think it is clear.

WatchingHISstory said...

Anon(Mon Nov 10, 08:55:00 PM 2008)
ask, "What say the great theologians?"

The great theologians say: "Therefore, as soon as they are capable of moral action, they become transgressors and are under condemnation." BF&M- III Man

greater theologians said: "He was created in a state of holiness under the law of his Maker, but, through the temptation of Satan, he transgressed the command of God and fell from his original holiness and righteousness; whereby his posterity inherit a nature corrupt and in bondage to sin, are under condemnation."

According to the SBC "all have not sinned" only those who are actual transgressors.

anon said:
Place your doctrine in the simplest terms possible: the impact of it on a little child.

And then, see if your Doctrine still floats.

"I say the unelect baby sinks!"

Anon, you want to put the blame on God for not electing.

Put the blame on Adam for sinning.
God elects some babies. He doesn't have to at all. He remains gracious regardless. But he does elect some! How great is our God!

How dreadfully awful is man!

chadwick said...

Charles Spurgeon on infants who die:

"Among the gross falsehoods which have been uttered against the Calvinists proper, is the wicked calumny that we hold the damnation of little infants. A baser lie was never uttered. There may have existed somewhere, in some
corner of the earth, a miscreant who would dare to say that there were infants in hell, but I have never met with him, nor have I met with a man who ever saw such a person. We say, with regard to infants, Scripture saith but very little, and therefore, where Scripture is confessedly scant, it is for no man to determine dogmatically. But I think I speak for the entire body,or certainly with exceedingly few exceptions, and those unknown to me, when I say, we hold that all infants are elect of God and are therefore saved, and we look to this as being the; means by which Christ shall see of the travail of His soul to a great degree, and we do sometimes hope that thus the multitude of the saved shall be made to exceed the multitude of
the lost. Whatever views our friends may hold upon the point, they are not necessarily connected with Calvinistic doctrine. I believe that the Lord Jesus, who said, “Of such is the kingdom of heaven,” doth daily and constantly receive into His loving arms those tender ones who are only shown, and then snatched away to heaven. Our hymns are no ill witness to
our faith on this point, and one of them runs thus:
“Millions of infant souls compose
The family above.”
Toplady, one. of the keenest of Calvinists, was of this number. “In my remarks,” says he, “on Dr. Nowell, I testified my firm belief that the. souls of all departed infants are with God in glory; that in the decree’ of
predestination to life, God hath included all whom He decreed to take away in infancy, and that the decree of reprobation hath nothing to do with them.” Nay, he proceeds farther, and asks, with reason, how the and Calvinistic system of conditional salvation and election, or good works foreseen, will suit with the salvation of infants?

It is plain that Arminians
and Pelagians must introduce a new principle of election; and in so far as the salvation of infants is concerned, become Calvinists. Is it not an argument in behalf of Calvinism, that its principle is uniform throughout,and that no change is needed on the ground on which man is saved,whether young or old? John Newton, of London, the friend of Cowper, noted for his Calvinism, holds that the children in heaven exceed its adult inhabitants in all their
multitudinous array.

Gill, a very champion of Calvinism, held the doctrine,
that all dying in infancy are saved. An intelligent: modern writer, (Dr.Russell. of Dundee), also a Calvinist, maintains the same views; and when it is considered that nearly one half of the human race die in early years, it is easy to see what a vast accession must be daily and hourly making to the blessed population of heaven." (Excerpt from, "A Defense of Calvinism" by: Charles Haddon Spurgeon)

chadwick

Bob Cleveland said...

Although I'm a Calvinist, I have no problem with the "all babies go to heaven" idea. If they die in infancy, and if God is indeed omniscient, then there's no reason why those babies couldn't all be "elect".

Isaiah 7: 15-16 says .. twice .. that there was a time in Jesus life when He did not know "know enough to reject the wrong and choose the right..". I can't think of any reason for that revelation, other than as a message to us about children, today.

If that was noteworthy about God in the Flesh, I dare say it's noteworthy concerning us mere mortals, too.

WatchingHISstory said...

If we could just create a good God who does not send infants to hell!

Perish the thought that a single infant goes to hell, but if it does Adam is to blame. I struggle with "our" free will but clearly Adam had free will and by his will we are all sinners, damned to hell.

Even to create a good, merciful and loving God is idolatry. "Let God be God and every man a liar."

NativeVermonter said...

Forgive me if someone has previously mentioned that King David was confident that he would see his child again. And if that's the only Scripture I have then I'm hanging onto it.

BTW-I apparently remain alone on this take but I much prefer the Doctrines of Grace. First, why use a term that is named after a mere human. Luther didn't want that and I would hope Calvin wouldn't either. In addition, if you do use the term does that mean you adhere to all of Calvin's beliefs? I would say it does, if you're going to use the man's name then your in lock, stock and barrell.

A special thanks to those who serve our country today. And I would say that even if I didn't get the day off :)

Bob Cleveland said...

NativeVermonter: Regarding "Calvinism" vs "Doctrines of Grace":

Check 2 Timothy 2:14.

ps: I don't get today off. I'm retired, and unfortunately, I don't have anything to be off from.

WatchingHISstory said...

Isn't the phrase "inclined toward sin" BF&M foreign to the "doctrines of grace"?

Isn't it a man made doctrine; to believe in the age of accountability to comfort parents? (I am a grandfather with 4 perfect grandchildren and one on the way, perfect in every way!)

a convenient doctrine to expedite free will evangelism.

r. grannemann said...

Stephen Pruett,

Excellent post.

The strength of 5 point Calvinism is that it is a thoroughly logical system. It's weakness is that it's a deterministic system. It makes us automatons (if you really think about it).

Scientific materialism has two branches. One is a deterministic model (Einstein's belief: "God does not play dice with the universe"). The other is the modern quantum mechanics model where chance enters in. But neither path lead to free will. Five Point Calvinism is fundamentally aligned with scientific materialism at this point.

But everything about life seems designed to give us some autonomy. The strength of Christianity is that it frees us from the deterministic model AND the quantum model -- and is consistent with what we inwardly feel.

Our Free Will derives from our transcendence. Belief in transcendence is what fundamentally separates Christianity from scientific materialism. This is also Christianity's advantage over an exclusively scientific model.

I would venture that the decline in evangelism is due more to intimidation by science than the laziness of Christians. If we more clearly saw how Christianity transcends a failed world philosophy, zeal for evangelism would return.

Anonymous said...

We should be obedient and share Christ with everyone to be sure, but we should also remember that those who are not of the elect wouldn't have it any other way.

Just as no one will be in heaven boasting of their decision, there will be no one in hell who longed to believe and know the Christ as their Savior, but God wouldn't hear it.

Benji Ramsaur said...

Stephen Pruett,

If one interprets the Bible according to the principle that the more clear texts should help us interpret the less clear, then I think it is ball game over for libertarian free-will [LFW].

There are no texts of scripture that "explicitly" teach LFW.

Therefore, one has to resort to "inferring" LFW from different texts.

There are texts that do explicitly teach the inability of man--John 6:44, 65; Romans 8:7-8.

One must make a distinction between biological determinism and God's determinism.

I do believe that man is more than mere matter. I believe he has a body and soul.

I don't believe man voluntarily does what he most strongly does not want to do.

I do believe man voluntarily does what he most strongly wants to do [with some limitations--for example flapping my arms up and down will not make me fly].

Therefore, I do not believe that man is a robot.

I don't think the ultimate strength of the 5 points is that they logically hold together.

I think the ultimate strength of the 5 points is that there are clear texts of Scripture that will inescapably lead one to an affirmation, at least to a certain extent, of those points if:

1. One simply follows the logic of the biblical writers.

2. One does not resort to philosophizing in a sphere that is not close to the text.

3. One does not cave in to emotionally charged/sentimental arguments.

Grace

Benji

WatchingHISstory said...

anon

Why will they gnash their teeth and be "God haters"?

Will this be because of their lack of a decision or God's decision.

Seems they would gnash their teeth eternally at themselves for their lack. Their hatred is directed toward God. Their last contact with heaven were the hands of God's angel pushing them into hell.

WatchingHISstory said...

Wade

Was Wesley singing about prevenient grace/enablement or regeneration?

Surely Spurgeon didn't think that Wesley was mistakenly praising regeneration!

Anonymous said...

History,

The damned's anger/regret will not because they are mad at God because they wanted to be saved and tried to be saved but they couldn't be saved because they weren't one of the elect.

Marilyn Manson (google if necessary, but stand back if you do) is not one of the elect, I think it is safe to say.

And he wouldn't have it any other way. That is, until that day he receives the fruit of his labor.

If someone reading this is concerned about whether they are one of the elect or not, and there is a concern about where they will spend eternity, and if they see their sin, and they understand their need for a Savior, then by all means cry out to Him.

That is a sure sign they are indeed one of the elect. And the glorious news is that if they will do that, He will save them. PTL!!!

That was my simple point. I'm sorry I didn't relay it very well.

Thanks for your patience.

WatchingHISstory said...

anon

bear with me, please, I am not trying to be difficult.

I can not safely say that Manson is not of the elect. Who but God can?

Neither can I speak for Manson whether he wants to be saved or not. Only Manson knows that.

If he goes to hell he will be a God hater. He will not regret his decision he will be a lover of self and his delima will be unimmaginablly conflicted and painful.

Now before he goes to hell, if he goes, he will lift up his eyes in a place where he will be a selfhater and a lover of God. He will regret his decisions in this life. He will be conflicted and his torment painful.

I am a rigid 5-pointer who believes there is a wideness in God's mercy, much wider than Arminians and moderate Calvinist think!

Thanks for your patience, anon.

Anonymous said...

WATCHING HISTORY said,

""I say the unelect baby sinks!"

I have a different teacher who says to me "Suffer the little children to come unto Me, for such is the Kingdom of Heaven."

I finally understand WHY there are so many who do not reach out to help others.
It isn't that that refuse to do it.
It's just that they think, 'why bother?' I and my house are 'saved'; the others will burn in hell anyway, so why should I waste my time.

Thank you for helping me to finally understand what before has made me so sad: that 'good Christian people' can 'look away' and 'walk away' and do it in good conscience, because they feel no call from God to help the OTHERS.

Wow, what a strange religion.

By the way, just when do souls of the dead babies of the 'unelect' burn? Right when they die? Or are the babies' souls kept in some kind of Hell Limbo, until they reach a certain stage, when they are pushed into the pit of fire?

I think that the God of the Calvinist must have no mercy. God by His Nature, if merciful, is completely merciful, not selectively so.
The God I serve is merciful and is a different God. Now I am sure of it.

Different religions. Different God. What a lesson. Sad.

Does the conversation always have to end with a 'My God is better than Your God' ?

Only the followers of Satan could rejoice that THEY survived while others perished.

Anonymous said...

Hi History,

I sincerely think we are saying the same thing.

You are right about not knowing about Manson's soul. I was only trying to make a point.

If you have access to him, share Jesus with him. :)

Anonymous said...

Watching History

I say such idiotic things. I don't know what gets into me. I say things without thinking and I make no sense. I am sorry and I hope that you will find it in yourself to forgive me.

WatchingHISstory said...

Anonymous

I forgive you and forget about it. We all have bad days.

Your God is my God and He is merciful always.

Watching

Anonymous said...

We must love our neighbor as ourselves.

And who is our neighbor?

Surely only the 'elect', for how could a Christian EVER love anyone who was not of the 'elect'?

A Christian follows the Will of God.

If God chooses not to 'elect' someone, no Christian is to love or show mercy to that rejected soul?

So, it's okay to have hate groups, concentration camps, torture of prisoners, ghettos for the poor, and bad schools in the inner city: 'these people' do not deserve any better.

And the Jews? Well maybe Hitler had it right after all. Burn 'em.
Babies, too. Sure, killing is a sin, but if you are one of the 'elect', you are guaranteed a free ride to heaven, all sins forgiven.
And the gays are next. Westboro Baptists must be five-point Calvinists.

God have mercy, but only if you are the 'elect'. Oh, and Praise God I Am Saved, and THEY are not saved.

Wait a minute: what about that commandment to 'love thy neighbor'?
In the Bible, wasn't the Samaritan one of the 'unelected'?

Yes, WAIT A MINUTE.
OR A LIFE TIME.
BEFORE YOU REJOICE THAT YOU ARE BETTER OFF THAN 'YOUR NEIGHBOR'.

May God forgive our foolish ways.
It is not about 'I' , it is about the Kingdom of God. If there is not enough room for 'non-elect' little babies in the Kingdom of God, I don't belong there either.

Anonymous said...

ALL creatures great and small.
The Lord God loves them all.

He sends the rain and sunshine on all, not just the 'elect'.

Anonymous said...

WATCHING HISTORY said,

""I say the unelect baby sinks!"

There speaks a REAL Christian.

oc said...

Anonymous 3:32, You know not what you do.
Please don't praise WHS. If you knew what you were actually saying and approving of, and if you knew to whom you are actually saying it to, it would gag you and you would wish to emasculate someone, maybe even yourself, and certainly someone who is in the midst of some kind of sickness. So instead of taking the risk, save your kids and your grandkids, and praise the perp no more.

oc.

Anonymous said...

I believe Manson is mentally-ill, or a five-point Calvinist. Maybe he thought he was only killing the un-elected?

greg.w.h said...

Wade:

Two op-eds that speak to the zeitgeist of the SBC and conservatism in general:

1. Richard Land's comments in the WSJ on what the Republican Party needs to attend to in order to continue to appeal to evangelicals. (should be free, but I think it requires an account to be set up to track access to the Wall Street Journal.)

2. David Brooks comments in the NYT on the G.O.P. (should be free, but I think it requires an account to be set up to track access to the New York Times.)

While both specifically address with the Republican party or Republicans in general, neither is interesting solely because of the things it has to say about the Republican party itself, but mostly the "spirit" of conservatism in general. I think Land's comments are pitch perfect and aligned with the Cal Thomas comments I pointed to a week or so ago. Brooks is highlighting a way of thinking among Traditionalists that I think is helpful as a perspective with respect to understanding the John 3:16 conference. (That the opposite of the Traditionalists, in the Brooks op-ed, are the Reformers is purely a coincidence.)

Underlying both is the question of the extent to which Southern Baptists and evangelicals in general should be courted as part of a coalition and to what extent the other members of the coalition should be courted (with the assumption that SBs/evangelicals compromise on some values that are of secondary importance in order to preserve key positions that are of primary importance.)

Greg Harvey

Anonymous said...

No name Anony - Go pick a fight somewhere else with all your gobbly dee gook. You are rambling, incoherent, and it is impossible to discuss anything of value with you.

Especially if you are too stupid to know the difference between Marilyn Manson and Charles Manson.

You were clearly in too big of a hurry to fling insults that you didn't read the name correctly.

But you flung it all in "christian neighborly love"...right?

Step back and take a breath before slinging mud next time so you at least don't make stupid mistakes.

Anonymous said...

WATCHING HISTORY said,

""I say the unelect baby sinks!"

WatchingHISstory said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

WATCHING HISTORY said,

""I say the unelect baby sinks!"

Anonymous said...

Watching History said,

"Even to create a good, merciful and loving God is idolatry. "Let God be God and every man a liar."

Anonymous said...

WATCHING HISTORY SAID:

"Perish the thought that a single infant goes to hell, but if it does Adam is to blame."

So Adam's sin
is more powerful
than God's Mercy?

You have made your god weak and small and mean. Did you make him in Your own Image, History?

Don't forget to tell God that.
(But I think He already heard you.)

Too late.

WatchingHISstory said...

Wade

Was Wesley singing about prevenient grace/enablement or regeneration?

Surely Spurgeon didn't think that Wesley was mistakenly praising regeneration!

Charles Page

Anonymous said...

A mother left her beautiful, perfectly-formed newborn baby boy in the woods near our town. He was laid on the snow with just a thin blanket under him.

It was written in the newspaper this: that the little one cried until the Angels came and took him home to heaven.

Now, having learned about Calvinism, maybe the story was different: maybe Satan's devils came and took the crying baby to Hell.

I don't like this God of the Calvinists and I will not worship him. If that baby is in Hell, then this God deserves no worship.

Anonymous said...

Strange that the Almighty Master of the Universe is not powerful enough to save the soul of a little baby.
I never knew this until I studied Christianity.

Anonymous said...

We are advised as follows:

"One does not cave in to emotionally charged/sentimental arguments."

Oh no. We mustn't by all accounts, listen to the quiet voice of the Holy Spirit working on our hearts, to warn us of something that is not of God.
Not if we want to be good little obedient Calvinists.
Ignore those feelings that tell you something is not right here.

Anonymous said...

THE YEAR IS 529 A.D. :


"the Second Synod of Orange in 529 and again the Council of Trent had pronounced the ecclesiastical anathema (cf. Denzinger, nn. 200, 827). This condemnation was perfectly justified, because the heresy of Predestinarianism, in direct opposition to the clearest texts of Scripture, denied the universality of God's salvific will as well as of redemption through Christ (cf. Wisdom 11:24 sq.; 1 Timothy 2:1 sq.), nullified God's mercy towards the hardened sinner (Ezekiel 33:11; Romans 2:4; 2 Peter 3:9), did away with the freedom of the will to do good or evil, and hence the guilt of the bad, and finally destroyed the Divine attributes of wisdom, justice, veracity, goodness, and sanctity."



CENTURIS LATER:

The very spirit of the Bible should have sufficed to deter Calvin from a false explanation of Rom., ix, and his successor Beza from the exegetical maltreatment of I Pet., ii, 7—8. After weighing all the Biblical texts bearing on eternal reprobation, a modern Protestant exegete arrives at the conclusion: "There is no election to hell parallel to the election to grace: on the contrary, the judgment pronounced on the impenitent supposes human guilt .... It is only after Christ's salvation has been rejected that reprobation follows" ("Realencyk. für prot. Theol.", XV, 586, Leipzig, 1904). As regards the Fathers of the Church, there is only St. Augustine who might seem to cause difficulties in the proof from Tradition. As a matter of fact he has been claimed by both Calvin and Jansenius as favouring their view of the question. This is not the place to enter into an examination of his doctrine on reprobation; but that his works contain expressions which, to say the least, might be interpreted in the sense of a negative reprobation, cannot be doubted. Probably toning down the sharper words of the master, his "best pupil", St. Prosper, in his apology against Vincent of Lerin (Resp. ad 12 obj. Vincent.), thus explained the spirit of Augustine: "Voluntate exierunt, voluntate ceciderunt, et quia præsciti sunt casuri, non sunt prædestinati; essent autem prædestinati, si essent reversuri et in sanctitate remansuri, ac per hoc prædestinatio Dei multis est causa standi, nemini est causa labendi" (of their own will they went out; of their own will they fell, and because their fall was foreknown, they were not predestined; they would however be predestined if they were going to return and persevere in holiness; hence, God's predestination is for many the cause of perseverance, for none the cause of falling away)"

Anonymous said...

If God's Salvation Plan was limited in the predesination doctrines, is this what is being said? Or something different?

So, you are SAVED before you are born and before you ever hear of Jesus Christ.

OR

You are DAMNED before you are born and before you ever hear of Jesus Christ.

Okay.

But why then, Christ? Why did He have to suffer at all?

If no one had to believe in Him because they were already saved or damned, and an act of faith on their part did nothing contribute to their salvation OR nothing to prevent damnation. Why Jesus?

Were the pre-elected PROGRAMMED to believe?
Were the pre-damned PROGRAMMED not to believe?
What is the need for any faith?

No choices? None? Just reaction to what is implanted by God?

As a matter of fact, why bother with Creation at all?

Anonymous said...

Anony - Since you clearly haven't read the bible, why don't you just google "Calvinism for Dummies" and you can get all the answers to all your questions about reformed theology.

Meanwhile, give it a rest here because no one is going to interact with your comments that have no biblical foundation.

You aren't looking for answers to sincere questions and / or concerns you might have. You are looking for a fight.

And we are not interested. Have you noticed no one is exchanging with you?

I know. It's because we don't have the answers, right? We serve a small god that you would rather go to hell than to serve, right?

Fair enough. Then stop and move on to www.ihatereformedtheology.com or whatever.

Thanks in advance.

Sincerely,

Everyone else here.

Anonymous said...

WATCHING HISTORY said,

""I say the unelect baby sinks!"

Anonymous said...

Does Andrea Yates have access to a computer in her hospital?

Anonymous said...

"he that is glad at calamities shall NOT GO UNPUNISHED."

PROVERBS 17:5



"everyone that is proud in heart os an ABOMINATION to the Lord "

PROVERBS 16:5

Anonymous said...

"And He spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others"


. . . stood and prayed, thus, with himself, 'God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are. . . "


LUKE: 18

Anonymous said...

The comments on this blog are getting, well, interesting, I guess. I can't tell if its the same person or 10 people

Scotte Hodel said...

As a layman I'm not going attempt any precise treatment of this topic. I do have a couple of stories that I think are relevant to the discussion.

When I was in college about 25 years ago (!) I met an American student who called himself a Taoist. He told me that in his faith the highest form of truth is a paradox. I wish I had had the presence of mind at the time to tell him, "Then you need to be a Christian: we got a million of 'em!"

For example, a year or so ago I purchased an audiobook of Arthur Pink's The Sovereignty of God. He makes it plain that there are balancing and contrasting truths that must both be embraced: the responsibility of man, and the sovereignty of God. They are both true. This audiobook emphasized the latter. (I'd love to get his material on the other topics!)

Again, for example, when talking with a family of Jehovah's Witnesses a few years ago we of course discussed the doctrines of the trinity and the deity/humanity of Christ. Is Jesus a man? Is he God? How can you say "yes" to both? How can God be three and one? Eventually, the man reached to his 8 year old daughter and asked me, "That is confusing. Why would God make this world so confusing so that we can't understand him?"

My answer then, much as it is in the current discussion, was this: "Sir, I am a professor of electrical and computer engineering. I can assure you that the fact that something is confusing does not mean that it is untrue."

So I have embraced the paradox(es) of our faith, because somehow these various truths do coexist, even if I don't grasp the whole of it.

WatchingHISstory said...

Wade

Was Wesley singing about prevenient grace/enablement or regeneration?

Surely Spurgeon didn't think that Wesley was mistakenly praising regeneration!

Charles Page

Anonymous said...

SCOTTE HODEL said, "So I have embraced the paradox(es) of our faith, because somehow these various truths do coexist, even if I don't grasp the whole of it."

I must also agree.
God is completely just.
God is completely merciful.
The one does not cancel out or over-rule the other.

How can this be?
Because He IS God.

Why do we not understand?
Because we are not God.

Anonymous said...

JOHN THE BAPTIST'S WITNESS:

'The next day John seeth Jesus comint unto him, and saith,
BEHOLD THE LAMB OF GOD
WHICH TAKETH AWAY
THE SIN OF THE WORLD.

Gospel of John 1:29


And so it was fore-told, that One had come among mankind to offer healing from sin: and to offer it to all, to the 'whole world'.

Another testament of God's grace offered to all mankind.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
"The comments on this blog are getting, well, interesting, I guess. I can't tell if its the same person or 10 people

Tue Nov 11, 09:12:00 PM 2008 "

Let's hope that the CAUSE of the
'well, interesting' comments is not the result of some kind of mental or emotional stress on the part of the writer. Or writers.
? Hopefully, election results have been accepted and most of the 'trauma' of last week's loss of the White House by the far-right is fading. It may take a while longer for people to calm down, from the looks of things.

Robert said...

From C. H . Spurgeon,

"The old truth that Calvin preached, that Augustine preached, that Paul preached, is the truth that I must preach to-day, or else be false to my conscience and my God. I cannot shape the truth; I know of no such thing as paring off the rough edges of a doctrine. John Knox's gospel is my gospel. That which thundered through Scotland must thunder through England again."—C. H. Spurgeon

T IS A GREAT THING to begin the Christian life by believing good solid doctrine. Some people have received twenty different "gospels" in as many years; how many more they will accept before they get to their journey's end, it would be difficult to predict. I thank God that He early taught me the gospel, and I have been so perfectly satisfied with it, that I do not want to know any other. Constant change of creed is sure loss. If a tree has to be taken up two or three times a year, you will not need to build a very large loft in which to store the apples. When people are always shifting their doctrinal principles, they are not likely to bring forth much fruit to the glory of God. It is good for young believers to begin with a firm hold upon those great fundamental doctrines which the Lord has taught in His Word. Why, if I believed what some preach about the temporary, trumpery salvation which only lasts for a time, I would scarcely be at all grateful for it; but when I know that those whom God saves He saves with an everlasting salvation, when I know that He gives to them an everlasting righteousness, when I know that He settles them on an everlasting foundation of everlasting love, and that He will bring them to His everlasting kingdom, oh, then I do wonder, and I am astonished that such a blessing as this should ever have been given to me!

"Pause, my soul! adore, and wonder!
Ask, 'Oh, why such love to me?'
Grace hath put me in the number
Of the Saviour's family:
Hallelujah!
Thanks, eternal thanks, to Thee!"


Your browser may not support display of this image. I suppose there are some persons whose minds naturally incline towards the doctrine of free-will. I can only say that mine inclines as naturally towards the doctrines of sovereign grace. Sometimes, when I see some of the worst characters in the street, I feel as if my heart must burst forth in tears of gratitude that God has never let me act as they have done! I have thought, if God had left me alone, and had not touched me by His grace, what a great sinner I should have been! I should have run to the utmost lengths of sin, dived into the very depths of evil, nor should I have stopped at any vice or folly, if God had not restrained me. I feel that I should have been a very king of sinners, if God had let me alone. I cannot understand the reason why I am saved, except upon the ground that God would have it so. I cannot, if I look ever so earnestly, discover any kind of reason in myself why I should be a partaker of Divine grace. If I am not at this moment without Christ, it is only because Christ Jesus would have His will with me, and that will was that I should be with Him where He is, and should share His glory. I can put the crown nowhere but upon the head of Him whose mighty grace has saved me from going down into the pit. Looking back on my past life, I can see that the dawning of it all was of God; of God effectively. I took no torch with which to light the sun, but the sun enlightened me. I did not commence my spiritual life—no, I rather kicked, and struggled against the things of the Spirit: when He drew me, for a time I did not run after Him: there was a natural hatred in my soul of everything holy and good. Wooings were lost upon me—warnings were cast to the wind—thunders were despised; and as for the whispers of His love, they were rejected as being less than nothing and vanity. But, sure I am, I can say now, speaking on behalf of myself, "He only is my salvation." It was He who turned my heart, and brought me down on my knees before Him. I can in very deed, say with Doddridge and Toplady—

"Grace taught my soul to pray,
And made my eyes o'erflow;"


and coming to this moment, I can add—

"'Tis grace has kept me to this day,
And will not let me go."


Your browser may not support display of this image. Well can I remember the manner in which I learned the doctrines of grace in a single instant. Born, as all of us are by nature, an Arminian, I still believed the old things I had heard continually from the pulpit, and did not see the grace of God. When I was coming to Christ, I thought I was doing it all myself, and though I sought the Lord earnestly, I had no idea the Lord was seeking me. I do not think the young convert is at first aware of this. I can recall the very day and hour when first I received those truths in my own soul—when they were, as John Bunyan says, burnt into my heart as with a hot iron, and I can recollect how I felt that I had grown on a sudden from a babe into a man—that I had made progress in Scriptural knowledge, through having found, once for all, the clue to the truth of God. One week-night, when I was sitting in the house of God, I was not thinking much about the preacher's sermon, for I did not believe it. The thought struck me, How did you come to be a Christian? I sought the Lord. But how did you come to seek the Lord? The truth flashed across my mind in a moment—I should not have sought Him unless there had been some previous influence in my mind to make me seek Him. I prayed, thought I, but then I asked myself, How came I to pray? I was induced to pray by reading the Scriptures. How came I to read the Scriptures? I did read them, but what led me to do so? Then, in a moment, I saw that God was at the bottom of it all, and that He was the Author of my faith, and so the whole doctrine of grace opened up to me, and from that doctrine I have not departed to this day, and I desire to make this my constant confession, "I ascribe my change wholly to God."
Your browser may not support display of this image. I once attended a service where the text happened to be, "He shall choose our inheritance for us;" and the good man who occupied the pulpit was more than a little of an Arminian. Therefore, when he commenced, he said, "This passage refers entirely to our temporal inheritance, it has nothing whatever to do with our everlasting destiny, for," said he, "we do not want Christ to choose for us in the matter of Heaven or hell. It is so plain and easy, that every man who has a grain of common sense will choose Heaven, and any person would know better than to choose hell. We have no need of any superior intelligence, or any greater Being, to choose Heaven or hell for us. It is left to our own free-will, and we have enough wisdom given us, sufficiently correct means to judge for ourselves," and therefore, as he very logically inferred, there was no necessity for Jesus Christ, or anyone, to make a choice for us. We could choose the inheritance for ourselves without any assistance. "Ah!" I thought, "but, my good brother, it may be very true that we could, but I think we should want something more than common sense before we should choose aright."
Your browser may not support display of this image. First, let me ask, must we not all of us admit an over-ruling Providence, and the appointment of Jehovah's hand, as to the means whereby we came into this world? Those men who think that, afterwards, we are left to our own free-will to choose this one or the other to direct our steps, must admit that our entrance into the world was not of our own will, but that God had then to choose for us. What circumstances were those in our power which led us to elect certain persons to be our parents? Had we anything to do with it? Did not God Himself appoint our parents, native place, and friends? Could He not have caused me to be born with the skin of the Hottentot, brought forth by a filthy mother who would nurse me in her "kraal," and teach me to bow down to Pagan gods, quite as easily as to have given me a pious mother, who would each morning and night bend her knee in prayer on my behalf? Or, might He not, if He had pleased, have given me some profligate to have been my parent, from whose lips I might have early heard fearful, filthy, and obscene language? Might He not have placed me where I should have had a drunken father, who would have immured me in a very dungeon of ignorance, and brought me up in the chains of crime? Was it not God's Providence that I had so happy a lot, that both my parents were His children, and endeavoured to train me up in the fear of the Lord?
Your browser may not support display of this image. John Newton used to tell a whimsical story, and laugh at it, too, of a good woman who said, in order to prove the doctrine of election, "Ah! sir, the Lord must have loved me before I was born, or else He would not have seen anything in me to love afterwards." I am sure it is true in my case; I believe the doctrine of election, because I am quite certain that, if God had not chosen me, I should never have chosen Him; and I am sure He chose me before I was born, or else He never would have chosen me afterwards; and He must have elected me for reasons unknown to me, for I never could find any reason in myself why He should have looked upon me with special love. So I am forced to accept that great Biblical doctrine. I recollect an Arminian brother telling me that he had read the Scriptures through a score or more times, and could never find the doctrine of election in them. He added that he was sure he would have done so if it had been there, for he read the Word on his knees. I said to him, "I think you read the Bible in a very uncomfortable posture, and if you had read it in your easy chair, you would have been more likely to understand it. Pray, by all means, and the more, the better, but it is a piece of superstition to think there is anything in the posture in which a man puts himself for reading: and as to reading through the Bible twenty times without having found anything about the doctrine of election, the wonder is that you found anything at all: you must have galloped through it at such a rate that you were not likely to have any intelligible idea of the meaning of the Scriptures."
Your browser may not support display of this image. If it would be marvelous to see one river leap up from the earth full-grown, what would it be to gaze upon a vast spring from which all the rivers of the earth should at once come bubbling up, a million of them born at a birth? What a vision would it be! Who can conceive it. And yet the love of God is that fountain, from which all the rivers of mercy, which have ever gladdened our race—all the rivers of grace in time, and of glory hereafter—take their rise. My soul, stand thou at that sacred fountain-head, and adore and magnify, for ever and ever, God, even our Father, who hath loved us! In the very beginning, when this great universe lay in the mind of God, like unborn forests in the acorn cup; long ere the echoes awoke the solitudes; before the mountains were brought forth; and long ere the light flashed through the sky, God loved His chosen creatures. Before there was any created being—when the ether was not fanned by an angel's wing, when space itself had not an existence, when there was nothing save God alone—even then, in that loneliness of Deity, and in that deep quiet and profundity, His bowels moved with love for His chosen. Their names were written on His heart, and then were they dear to His soul. Jesus loved His people before the foundation of the world—even from eternity! and when He called me by His grace, He said to me, "I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee."
Your browser may not support display of this image. Then, in the fulness of time, He purchased me with His blood; He let His heart run out in one deep gaping wound for me long ere I loved Him. Yea, when He first came to me, did I not spurn Him? When He knocked at the door, and asked for entrance, did I not drive Him away, and do despite to His grace? Ah, I can remember that I full often did so until, at last, by the power of His effectual grace, He said, "I must, I will come in;" and then He turned my heart, and made me love Him. But even till now I should have resisted Him, had it not been for His grace. Well, then since He purchased me when I was dead in sins, does it not follow, as a consequence necessary and logical, that He must have loved me first? Did my Saviour die for me because I believed on Him? No; I was not then in existence; I had then no being. Could the Saviour, therefore, have died because I had faith, when I myself was not yet born? Could that have been possible? Could that have been the origin of the Saviour's love towards me? Oh! no; my Saviour died for me long before I believed. "But," says someone, "He foresaw that you would have faith; and, therefore, He loved you." What did He foresee about my faith? Did He foresee that I should get that faith myself, and that I should believe on Him of myself? No; Christ could not foresee that, because no Christian man will ever say that faith came of itself without the gift and without the working of the Holy Spirit. I have met with a great many believers, and talked with them about this matter; but I never knew one who could put his hand on his heart, and say, "I believed in Jesus without the assistance of the Holy Spirit."
Your browser may not support display of this image. I am bound to the doctrine of the depravity of the human heart, because I find myself depraved in heart, and have daily proofs that in my flesh there dwelleth no good thing. If God enters into covenant with unfallen man, man is so insignificant a creature that it must be an act of gracious condescension on the Lord's part; but if God enters into covenant with sinful man, he is then so offensive a creature that it must be, on God's part, an act of pure, free, rich, sovereign grace. When the Lord entered into covenant with me, I am sure that it was all of grace, nothing else but grace. When I remember what a den of unclean beasts and birds my heart was, and how strong was my unrenewed will, how obstinate and rebellious against the sovereignty of the Divine rule, I always feel inclined to take the very lowest room in my Father's house, and when I enter Heaven, it will be to go among the less than the least of all saints, and with the chief of sinners.
Your browser may not support display of this image. The late lamented Mr. Denham has put, at the foot of his portrait, a most admirable text, "Salvation is of the Lord." That is just an epitome of Calvinism; it is the sum and substance of it. If anyone should ask me what I mean by a Calvinist, I should reply, "He is one who says, Salvation is of the Lord." I cannot find in Scripture any other doctrine than this. It is the essence of the Bible. "He only is my rock and my salvation." Tell me anything contrary to this truth, and it will be a heresy; tell me a heresy, and I shall find its essence here, that it has departed from this great, this fundamental, this rock-truth, "God is my rock and my salvation." What is the heresy of Rome, but the addition of something to the perfect merits of Jesus Christ—the bringing in of the works of the flesh, to assist in our justification? And what is the heresy of Arminianism but the addition of something to the work of the Redeemer? Every heresy, if brought to the touchstone, will discover itself here. I have my own private opinion that there is no such thing as preaching Christ and Him crucified, unless we preach what nowadays is called Calvinism. It is a nickname to call it Calvinism; Calvinism is the gospel, and nothing else. I do not believe we can preach the gospel, if we do not preach justification by faith, without works; nor unless we preach the sovereignty of God in His dispensation of grace; nor unless we exalt the electing, unchangeable, eternal, immutable, conquering love of Jehovah; nor do I think we can preach the gospel, unless we base it upon the special and particular redemption of His elect and chosen people which Christ wrought out upon the cross; nor can I comprehend a gospel which lets saints fall away after they are called, and suffers the children of God to be burned in the fires of damnation after having once believed in Jesus. Such a gospel I abhor.

"If ever it should come to pass,
That sheep of Christ might fall away,
My fickle, feeble soul, alas!
Would fall a thousand times a day."


If one dear saint of God had perished, so might all; if one of the covenant ones be lost, so may all be; and then there is no gospel promise true, but the Bible is a lie, and there is nothing in it worth my acceptance. I will be an infidel at once when I can believe that a saint of God can ever fall finally. If God hath loved me once, then He will love me for ever. God has a master-mind; He arranged everything in His gigantic intellect long before He did it; and once having settled it, He never alters it, "This shall be done," saith He, and the iron hand of destiny marks it down, and it is brought to pass. "This is My purpose," and it stands, nor can earth or hell alter it. "This is My decree," saith He, "promulgate it, ye holy angels; rend it down from the gate of Heaven, ye devils, if ye can; but ye cannot alter the decree, it shall stand for ever." God altereth not His plans; why should He? He is Almighty, and therefore can perform His pleasure. Why should He? He is the All-wise, and therefore cannot have planned wrongly. Why should He? He is the everlasting God, and therefore cannot die before His plan is accomplished. Why should He change? Ye worthless atoms of earth, ephemera of a day, ye creeping insects upon this bay-leaf of existence, ye may change your plans, but He shall never, never change His. Has He told me that His plan is to save me? If so, I am for ever safe.

"My name from the palms of His hands
Eternity will not erase;
Impress'd on His heart it remains,
In marks of indelible grace."


Your browser may not support display of this image. I do not know how some people, who believe that a Christian can fall from grace, manage to be happy. It must be a very commendable thing in them to be able to get through a day without despair. If I did not believe the doctrine of the final perseverance of the saints, I think I should be of all men the most miserable, because I should lack any ground of comfort. I could not say, whatever state of heart I came into, that I should be like a well-spring of water, whose stream fails not; I should rather have to take the comparison of an intermittent spring, that might stop on a sudden, or a reservoir, which I had no reason to expect would always be full. I believe that the happiest of Christians and the truest of Christians are those who never dare to doubt God, but who take His Word simply as it stands, and believe it, and ask no questions, just feeling assured that if God has said it, it will be so. I bear my willing testimony that I have no reason, nor even the shadow of a reason, to doubt my Lord, and I challenge Heaven, and earth, and hell, to bring any proof that God is untrue. From the depths of hell I call the fiends, and from this earth I call the tried and afflicted believers, and to Heaven I appeal, and challenge the long experience of the blood-washed host, and there is not to be found in the three realms a single person who can bear witness to one fact which can disprove the faithfulness of God, or weaken His claim to be trusted by His servants. There are many things that may or may not happen, but this I know shall happen—

"He shall present my soul,
Unblemish'd and complete,
Before the glory of His face,
With joys divinely great."


All the purposes of man have been defeated, but not the purposes of God. The promises of man may be broken—many of them are made to be broken—but the promises of God shall all be fulfilled. He is a promise-maker, but He never was a promise-breaker; He is a promise-keeping God, and every one of His people shall prove it to be so. This is my grateful, personal confidence, "The Lord will perfect that which concerneth me"—unworthy me, lost and ruined me. He will yet save me; and—

"I, among the blood-wash'd throng,
Shall wave the palm, and wear the crown,
And shout loud victory."


I go to a land which the plough of earth hath never upturned, where it is greener than earth's best pastures, and richer than her most abundant harvests ever saw. I go to a building of more gorgeous architecture than man hath ever builded; it is not of mortal design; it is "a building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the Heavens." All I shall know and enjoy in Heaven, will be given to me by the Lord, and I shall say, when at last I appear before Him—

"Grace all the work shall crown
Through everlasting days;
It lays in Heaven the topmost stone,
And well deserves the praise."


Your browser may not support display of this image. I know there are some who think it necessary to their system of theology to limit the merit of the blood of Jesus: if my theological system needed such a limitation, I would cast it to the winds. I cannot, I dare not allow the thought to find a lodging in my mind, it seems so near akin to blasphemy. In Christ's finished work I see an ocean of merit; my plummet finds no bottom, my eye discovers no shore. There must be sufficient efficacy in the blood of Christ, if God had so willed it, to have saved not only all in this world, but all in ten thousand worlds, had they transgressed their Maker's law. Once admit infinity into the matter, and limit is out of the question. Having a Divine Person for an offering, it is not consistent to conceive of limited value; bound and measure are terms inapplicable to the Divine sacrifice. The intent of the Divine purpose fixes the application of the infinite offering, but does not change it into a finite work. Think of the numbers upon whom God has bestowed His grace already. Think of the countless hosts in Heaven: if thou wert introduced there to-day, thou wouldst find it as easy to tell the stars, or the sands of the sea, as to count the multitudes that are before the throne even now. They have come from the East, and from the West, from the North, and from the South, and they are sitting down with Abraham, and with Isaac, and with Jacob in the Kingdom of God; and beside those in Heaven, think of the saved ones on earth. Blessed be God, His elect on earth are to be counted by millions, I believe, and the days are coming, brighter days than these, when there shall be multitudes upon multitudes brought to know the Saviour, and to rejoice in Him. The Father's love is not for a few only, but for an exceeding great company. "A great multitude, which no man could number," will be found in Heaven. A man can reckon up to very high figures; set to work your Newtons, your mightiest calculators, and they can count great numbers, but God and God alone can tell the multitude of His redeemed. I believe there will be more in Heaven than in hell. If anyone asks me why I think so, I answer, because Christ, in everything, is to "have the pre-eminence," and I cannot conceive how He could have the pre-eminence if there are to be more in the dominions of Satan than in Paradise. Moreover, I have never read that there is to be in hell a great multitude, which no man could number. I rejoice to know that the souls of all infants, as soon as they die, speed their way to Paradise. Think what a multitude there is of them! Then there are already in Heaven unnumbered myriads of the spirits of just men made perfect—the redeemed of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues up till now; and there are better times coming, when the religion of Christ shall be universal; when—

"He shall reign from pole to pole,
With illimitable sway;"


when whole kingdoms shall bow down before Him, and nations shall be born in a day, and in the thousand years of the great millennial state there will be enough saved to make up all the deficiencies of the thousands of years that have gone before. Christ shall be Master everywhere, and His praise shall be sounded in every land. Christ shall have the pre-eminence at last; His train shall be far larger than that which shall attend the chariot of the grim monarch of hell.
Your browser may not support display of this image. Some persons love the doctrine of universal atonement because they say, "It is so beautiful. It is a lovely idea that Christ should have died for all men; it commends itself," they say, "to the instincts of humanity; there is something in it full of joy and beauty." I admit there is, but beauty may be often associated with falsehood. There is much which I might admire in the theory of universal redemption, but I will just show what the supposition necessarily involves. If Christ on His cross intended to save every man, then He intended to save those who were lost before He died. If the doctrine be true, that He died for all men, then He died for some who were in hell before He came into this world, for doubtless there were even then myriads there who had been cast away because of their sins. Once again, if it was Christ's intention to save all men, how deplorably has He been disappointed, for we have His own testimony that there is a lake which burneth with fire and brimstone, and into that pit of woe have been cast some of the very persons who, according to the theory of universal redemption, were bought with His blood. That seems to me a conception a thousand times more repulsive than any of those consequences which are said to be associated with the Calvinistic and Christian doctrine of special and particular redemption. To think that my Saviour died for men who were or are in hell, seems a supposition too horrible for me to entertain. To imagine for a moment that He was the Substitute for all the sons of men, and that God, having first punished the Substitute, afterwards punished the sinners themselves, seems to conflict with all my ideas of Divine justice. That Christ should offer an atonement and satisfaction for the sins of all men, and that afterwards some of those very men should be punished for the sins for which Christ had already atoned, appears to me to be the most monstrous iniquity that could ever have been imputed to Saturn, to Janus, to the goddess of the Thugs, or to the most diabolical heathen deities. God forbid that we should ever think thus of Jehovah, the just and wise and good!
Your browser may not support display of this image. There is no soul living who holds more firmly to the doctrines of grace than I do, and if any man asks me whether I am ashamed to be called a Calvinist, I answer—I wish to be called nothing but a Christian; but if you ask me, do I hold the doctrinal views which were held by John Calvin, I reply, I do in the main hold them, and rejoice to avow it. But far be it from me even to imagine that Zion contains none but Calvinistic Christians within her walls, or that there are none saved who do not hold our views. Most atrocious things have been spoken about the character and spiritual condition of John Wesley, the modern prince of Arminians. I can only say concerning him that, while I detest many of the doctrines which he preached, yet for the man himself I have a reverence second to no Wesleyan; and if there were wanted two apostles to be added to the number of the twelve, I do not believe that there could be found two men more fit to be so added than George Whitefield and John Wesley. The character of John Wesley stands beyond all imputation for self-sacrifice, zeal, holiness, and communion with God; he lived far above the ordinary level of common Christians, and was one "of whom the world was not worthy." I believe there are multitudes of men who cannot see these truths, or, at least, cannot see them in the way in which we put them, who nevertheless have received Christ as their Saviour, and are as dear to the heart of the God of grace as the soundest Calvinist in or out of Heaven.
Your browser may not support display of this image. I do not think I differ from any of my Hyper-Calvinistic brethren in what I do believe, but I differ from them in what they do not believe. I do not hold any less than they do, but I hold a little more, and, I think, a little more of the truth revealed in the Scriptures. Not only are there a few cardinal doctrines, by which we can steer our ship North, South, East, or West, but as we study the Word, we shall begin to learn something about the North-west and North-east, and all else that lies between the four cardinal points. The system of truth revealed in the Scriptures is not simply one straight line, but two; and no man will ever get a right view of the gospel until he knows how to look at the two lines at once. For instance, I read in one Book of the Bible, "The Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely." Yet I am taught, in another part of the same inspired Word, that "it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy." I see, in one place, God in providence presiding over all, and yet I see, and I cannot help seeing, that man acts as he pleases, and that God has left his actions, in a great measure, to his own free-will. Now, if I were to declare that man was so free to act that there was no control of God over his actions, I should be driven very near to atheism; and if, on the other hand, I should declare that God so over-rules all things that man is not free enough to be responsible, I should be driven at once into Antinomianism or fatalism. That God predestines, and yet that man is responsible, are two facts that few can see clearly. They are believed to be inconsistent and contradictory to each other. If, then, I find taught in one part of the Bible that everything is fore-ordained, that is true; and if I find, in another Scripture, that man is responsible for all his actions, that is true; and it is only my folly that leads me to imagine that these two truths can ever contradict each other. I do not believe they can ever be welded into one upon any earthly anvil, but they certainly shall be one in eternity. They are two lines that are so nearly parallel, that the human mind which pursues them farthest will never discover that they converge, but they do converge, and they will meet somewhere in eternity, close to the throne of God, whence all truth doth spring.
Your browser may not support display of this image. It is often said that the doctrines we believe have a tendency to lead us to sin. I have heard it asserted most positively, that those high doctrines which we love, and which we find in the Scriptures, are licentious ones. I do not know who will have the hardihood to make that assertion, when they consider that the holiest of men have been believers in them. I ask the man who dares to say that Calvinism is a licentious religion, what he thinks of the character of Augustine, or Calvin, or Whitefield, who in successive ages were the great exponents of the system of grace; or what will he say of the Puritans, whose works are full of them? Had a man been an Arminian in those days, he would have been accounted the vilest heretic breathing, but now we are looked upon as the heretics, and they as the orthodox. We have gone back to the old school; we can trace our descent from the apostles. It is that vein of free-grace, running through the sermonizing of Baptists, which has saved us as a denomination. Were it not for that, we should not stand where we are today. We can run a golden line up to Jesus Christ Himself, through a holy succession of mighty fathers, who all held these glorious truths; and we can ask concerning them, "Where will you find holier and better men in the world?" No doctrine is so calculated to preserve a man from sin as the doctrine of the grace of God. Those who have called it "a licentious doctrine" did not know anything at all about it. Poor ignorant things, they little knew that their own vile stuff was the most licentious doctrine under Heaven. If they knew the grace of God in truth, they would soon see that there was no preservative from lying like a knowledge that we are elect of God from the foundation of the world. There is nothing like a belief in my eternal perseverance, and the immutability of my Father's affection, which can keep me near to Him from a motive of simple gratitude. Nothing makes a man so virtuous as belief of the truth. A lying doctrine will soon beget a lying practice. A man cannot have an erroneous belief without by-and-by having an erroneous life. I believe the one thing naturally begets the other. Of all men, those have the most disinterested piety, the sublimest reverence, the most ardent devotion, who believe that they are saved by grace, without works, through faith, and that not of themselves, it is the gift of God. Christians should take heed, and see that it always is so, lest by any means Christ should be crucified afresh, and put to an open shame.


Amen, Amen ,Amen


Robert I Masters
From the Southern Baptist Geneva

Anonymous said...

" O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest ANOTHER, thou condemnest thyself . . "

Romans 2:1

Joella said...

I left Calvinism because I believe that the system upon which it stands strains credulity when it comes to adequately dealing with the biblical subjects of anthropology and soteriology; and even Christology to some degree. I believe that God is absolutely sovereign and whatever He desires to happen will happen, but I also believe that somewhere in the mystery of what He has determined to do with humans, He has provided a way for REAL relationship, response, and responsibility. I think Jeremiah 18:1-11 best sums my theology of relationship:

The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD: "Arise, and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will let you hear my words." So I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was working at his wheel. And the vessel he was making of clay was spoiled in the potter’s hand, and he reworked it into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to do.
Then the word of the LORD came to me: "O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter has done? declares the LORD. Behold, like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel. If at any time I declare concerning a nation or a kingdom, that I will pluck up and break down and destroy it, and if that nation, concerning which I have spoken, turns from its evil, I will relent of the disaster that I intended to do to it. And if at any time I declare concerning a nation or a kingdom that I will build and plant it, and if it does evil in my sight, not listening to my voice, then I will relent of the good that I had intended to do to it. Now, therefore, say to the men of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem: 'Thus says the LORD, Behold, I am shaping disaster against you and devising a plan against you. Return, every one from his evil way, and amend your ways and your deeds.' (ESV)

The passage highlights God’s sovereignty via the image of the potter, but in the midst of the revelation God reveals that humans differ from clay in that we are capable of response. The result is that OUR RESPONSE in some way has an impact on God’s plan. Why? How? To What Degree? I don’t know – but I do know that this passage and many just like it make it clear that what we have a relationship with God – a relationship in which we do play a part.