A New Approach to this Soteriological Debate

by Dave Miller on June 27, 2012 · 80 comments

I think that if I was growing up today, I’d have been diagnosed with ADD and probably medicated. I am easily distracted from the work I am supposed to be doing.  I tend to lose interest in discussions after a certain length of time. So, I don’t know if it is my attention-deficit or what, but I can tell you this:

  • I am sick to death of this discussion of the Traditionalist Document. Could we beat that thing into the ground a little more? We’ve devoured it, sucked out the marrow and gnawed the bones, have we not?
  • I am sick to death of talking about Calvinism and variations of non-Calvinism, and all of the attendant issues. In blogging, emphases have come and gone. IMB Policies. Tithing. Alcohol. Baptism. Ecclesiology. Each has had its moment in the sunshine. But during all of this, one issue has stayed continually at the center of our focus. Calvinism.  Anti-Calvinism. Non-Calvinism. Arminianism. Traditionalism.

And, after all these year of daily and voluminous arguments, we are no closer to solutions than we were 7 years ago. We have inflicted great damage on one another. The average SBC Calvinist has a catalog of injuries and false accusations inflicted upon him (or her) by those who oppose his soteriological position. The average SBC non-Calvinist has an equally lengthy catalog of equally valid injuries. And as soon as the subject is brought up, we start recounting those injuries and productive debate is thwarted.

Ever feel like one of those hamsters running on a wheel?  Faster and faster we run, but we are getting nowhere.

On the other hand, we cannot ignore these issues.  They are central, they are significant, they are essential. We have to talk about the interconnection of God’s Sovereignty and human responsibility. We have to talk about the process of regeneration. We cannot hide our heads in the sand and act as if there is no real issue.  This is a real issue.

So, maybe what we need to do is just take a different tack in how we discuss the issue.  Instead of trying to organize “my team” to gather a majority to defeat “your team,” maybe we could try a different approach.  Maybe my idea will never work.  Maybe Southern Baptists cannot have a grownup debate on issues related to Calvinism.  But maybe we can, if we try a slightly different approach.

Here’s my suggestion.  I’d like to try a different way.

I am loathe to censor the contributors of SBC Voices, so I will probably continue to publish what they write and what they send me, even if it ignores this request.  But I would suggest that instead of simply rehashing old arguments and recounting old injuries, we attempt to focus more on exegesis and biblical argument.

Instead of another post on how arrogant Calvinists are, or on the weakness of the “traditionalist” system, maybe we could have posts that focused on biblical passages.

  • Maybe instead of using John 3:16 as a weapon, someone could exegete it and we could have a discussion of the theological depths of the passage.
  • I’m already planning a post on the passages that make the doctrine of limited atonement a problem for me.
  • Could a non-Calvinist exegete Romans 9 and explain biblically why they view that passage differently from the Calvinist interpretation?
  • Maybe we could have “dueling posts” on the doctrine of depravity.  Looking at the biblical evidence, what does Scripture say about the human condition?  Of course we are lost sinners deserving of hell.  We all agree on that. But just how far does human depravity go? That is a key discussion.
  • We could have word studies on the meaning of “foreknow.”
  • I really like the “point-counterpoint” approach. A Calvinist and a non-Calvinist could team up. One side writes 500 words on a topic. The other side writes 500 words on the same topic.  Then, each gets 500 words to critique the other’s view. Then, I post it!

And then, when these posts are presented, maybe we could TALK about the exegesis of the passages, and EXPLAIN our differences instead of the useless, pointless and unproductive debate that has marked blogging discussion for years to come.

I am sure there are a few people who would be disappointed, on both sides.  I think there are some who like gnawing on bones of a tired debate.  But there are 66 books of the Bible to feast upon.  Maybe we could talk about what the Bible says on this issue and transform our discussions a little.

I don’t know, its just an idea.  What do you think?

1 Matt Svoboda June 27, 2012 at 4:56 pm

I think you are right Dave…

I probably need to go write my own, brand new statement on Soteriology so we have something else to discuss! You’re welcome.

2 Mike Leake June 27, 2012 at 4:59 pm

Dave,
I’m for it.

Can I make another suggestion as well?

For one day. One week. One month. Whatever. Everyone that is a self-proclaimed Calvinist has to do his darndest to defend Traditionalism, Arminianism, or whatever. And vice versa. Kind of like a backwards day or week. I bet we could learn a ton.

Personally, I became a Calvinist when I tried writing a paper to defend it and then refute it. I bet both sides could learn a bunch by just trying everything they could do to make the other position correct.

3 Mike Leake June 27, 2012 at 5:00 pm

One more suggestion.

I’d like to see (somehow) only Calvinists give the more hard-hitting critiques of Calvinism. And only non-Calvinists give the more hard-hitting critiques of non-Calvinism.

4 Jim Pemberton July 1, 2012 at 3:14 pm

Mike,
I like these suggestions. In fact I do this myself when forming and evaluating my own positions. I care little about making true what I want to believe than changing what I believe to align with what is actually true. I want to be my own biggest critic. So I’ve developed a beefy foundational hermeneutic.

For all of us our thinking is influenced by a number of factors. These include the teachings of people we personally respect, cultural sensibilities with philosophical import that provide categorical structures for analysis that may or may not yield accurate theological conclusions, the combination of rhetorical device and connotation between individuals, etc. These things must be investigated and overcome. One does this by self-refutation.

5 Chris Roberts June 27, 2012 at 5:05 pm

Mike,

Personally, I don’t care for that approach. One of my most unpleasant moments in seminary was when we were required to write a paper defending the opposing view in the egalitarian/complementarian debate. I ended up writing two papers. I think people should be expected to understand the arguments of the other position, but I don’t think people should ever be asked to defend the arguments of the other position.

6 Mike Leake June 27, 2012 at 5:41 pm

I think it sharpens you. Of course you aren’t saying that you really agree with it but it helps. If I’m discussing these issues I like to know their position well enough that I could argue it and have them say that it’s a fair representation

7 Dave Miller June 27, 2012 at 6:37 pm

My initial impression is that what you are suggesting would be best in some kind of closed blog group. Calvinist only. Non-Calvinist only. A private, closed group – kind of a peer-review thing.

8 Jeremy Crowder June 27, 2012 at 5:02 pm

I would enjoy reading Point and Counter point style posts like you suggest. Also it would place the focus off of ourselves and back to scripture which we all value in common.

9 Jeff Meyer June 27, 2012 at 5:59 pm

Jane you ignorant…

10 Dave Miller June 27, 2012 at 6:28 pm

Wow.

11 Jeff Meyer June 27, 2012 at 6:30 pm

Sorry, I heard “Point, Counterpoint” and immediately thought of that SNL skit…

12 Dave Miller June 27, 2012 at 6:38 pm

Oh, yeah, I remember that. I bet most of these young whippersnappers don’t, though.

13 Jeremy Crowder June 27, 2012 at 7:41 pm

I have no idea who Jane is so glad I came back after it was mentioned it is based on a SNL segment.

14 Jeff Meyer June 27, 2012 at 8:34 pm

Yeah, I should have mentioned that in the comment. I forget sometimes that 40 is old these days… :)

15 Chris Roberts June 27, 2012 at 5:03 pm

“But during all of this, one issue has stayed continually at the center of our focus. Calvinism. Anti-Calvinism. Non-Calvinism. Arminianism. Traditionalism.”

Dave, that’s four issues. I’m now worried that we have a 2nd VP who cannot count. But it’s okay – you still count in God’s eyes!

“And, after all these year of daily and voluminous arguments, we are no closer to solutions than we were 7 years ago.”

The solution is we should all just listen to CB and agree with him when he speaks.

As for your suggestion, I like it, particularly the point-counterpoint idea: let’s address the same text or issue and show what the Calvinist or the non-Calvinist says/does with that issue or text.

One suggestion/request: can something be done about the nested comment problem that keeps popping up in threads?

16 Dave Miller June 27, 2012 at 5:19 pm

Technically, Mr. Smarty-pants, wouldn’t that be 5 issues?

17 Chris Roberts June 27, 2012 at 5:34 pm

I never said I could count.

18 John S June 27, 2012 at 5:04 pm

Sir, would it be possible for you to get me your email address. I have a blog on which I did exactly exegete (I hope) John 3:16. I would love to send you the post for your thoughts. Thank you for your time.

19 Dave Miller June 27, 2012 at 5:13 pm

I have an email I use (started out as a joke – because of complaints about moderating comments) for SBC Voices-related business.

davemillerisajerk@hotmail.com

Yes, it is a real email.

20 Debbie Kaufman June 27, 2012 at 8:19 pm

You need to change that address to davemillerisajerkand2ndVicePresident@hotmail.com

21 John S June 28, 2012 at 12:25 am

Dave, I sent you an email.

22 rick June 27, 2012 at 5:06 pm

Can we just avoid John 3:16? It says people who believe won’t perish but will have everlasting life. Makes us think that people who don’t believe will perish instead of having everlasting constant torment.

Bad verse for those with a traditional view of hell.

Unless we want to resort to a convoluted definition of the word “perish” that allows a conscious existence? Yeah, let’s do that.

Never mind.

23 cb scott June 27, 2012 at 5:27 pm

Heretics never quit ticking.

24 dr. james willingham June 28, 2012 at 12:50 pm

CB: You wouldn’t know a heretic, when you see him looking back at you from the mirror. :)

25 Dave Miller June 27, 2012 at 5:29 pm

Actually, if I had the nerve, I’d request a whole week of exegesis/discussion on John 3:16 only. Enough in there to keep us all busy.

26 rick June 27, 2012 at 5:37 pm

And to be honest, I would like to see what a thorough exegesis did with the words, “apoletai” and “apollumi”. Does it really mean “destroy”?

27 Christiane June 28, 2012 at 2:17 pm

I would like to see that, DAVID.

It would be wonderful to see posts that examine St. John’s Gospel.

28 Tom Fillinger June 27, 2012 at 5:08 pm

Dave, I have appealed for exegesis rather than polemics for years. My appeal has fallen on deaf ears. I have proposed what you have written – -point counter point. Exegesis makes clear that there is no WHOSOEVER in John 3:16.

I will support and affirm the approach you are proposing. My suspicion is that some are not willing to do this because the skills requisite have been lost. Stay in touch.

In Grace,
Tom Fillinger

29 Jeff Parsons June 27, 2012 at 5:10 pm

The only way this will work is if you reserve the right to edit out anything you perceive to be a “shot” at the other side. Too often in this debate, I’ve seen one side articulate their beliefs and the other side either act like they didn’t read it or flat out tell them that’s not what they believe. This had lead to more than sarcastic responses. Being one who claims sarcasm as a second language, I’m all for having fun with it. I think we’d all agree it’s gone too far, however. Reserving the right to edit posts as you see fit may help prevent the comment stream from descending into everything you’re trying to avoid.

30 Dave Miller June 27, 2012 at 5:16 pm

Yes, implicit in this concept is a “deal with the exegesis” demand for comments. Attempts to bring in the same old tired pro/anti arguments would be shot, imprisoned, drawn and quartered, jailed, and then shot again.

In Christian love, of course.

31 Jeff Parsons June 27, 2012 at 5:31 pm

Well….of course….:)

32 Chris Crain June 27, 2012 at 5:15 pm

Great post! I agree with you 100%. I have decided to hold the doctrines of human responsibility and God’s sovereignty in antinomy without synthesis. I believe that the subject is so complex it is just under the Trinity in its magnitude. So, if you ask me if I’m a Calvinist my question will be “what text are you talking about and I will tell you?” I look forward to seeing some of the posts from our wonderful pastors, teachers and other exegetes.

33 Dave Miller June 27, 2012 at 5:18 pm

That is pretty much my position, and thus, the correct one.

34 Wes June 27, 2012 at 5:22 pm

It would be neat to have a discussion where we assume the other side is a good Calvinist or good non-Calvinist (or good Arminian). I mean we can certainly take any theological system and emphasize certain points so that it becomes bad theology (Calvinism becomes hyper-Calvinism, Arminianism becomes Pelagianism). I want to see critiques of Calvinism and Arminianism at their best. I don’t want to see critiques of hyper-Calvinism or Pelagianism.

35 Mike Bergman June 27, 2012 at 5:26 pm

I’ll be game to get into exegesis… as soon as I get this cast off my hand.

Stupid cast, keeping me from writing longer segments and riding the best roller coasters at Six Flags… :( (I’m really most upset about the roller coasters, mind you!)

I’ve been kicking around some limited atonement exegesis ideas in my brain for a while… just haven’t had the chance to put them down. :)

36 Chief Katie June 27, 2012 at 5:27 pm

Dave,

You are few days late. Ed Young has already defined Calvinism for all of the SBC.

I’m happy to comply with whatever you think is best. We haven’t done so well on our own.

37 Dave Miller June 27, 2012 at 5:30 pm

That was unfortunate. One of the low points in this debate. But I hope we can raise the level from that.

38 Chief Katie June 27, 2012 at 7:27 pm

Dave,

As heated as it gets here from time-to-time, have never seen anything more inaccurate and downright mean as he displayed. I was waiting for the lions and the Christians to appear to whoop up a frezy.

I’d go further, he’s a disgrace to the entire SBC with his ridiculous antics and lowering the gospel to a side show.

I will promise you to do my best to abide by whatever guidelines you deem appropriate. You give me hope for a sane convention in the future.

39 Derin Stidd June 27, 2012 at 5:40 pm

YES!!! Well said. Thank you!

40 Tom Bryant June 27, 2012 at 5:51 pm

I really do appreciate what you’re trying to say and do, but can’t you see that a debate that has lasted and been argued for hundreds of years won’t be settled in 7 years or 700 or even 7,000? Do we think that more blog posts will help us understand and appreciate the differences in our various soterioloigcal arguments?

41 Dave Miller June 27, 2012 at 6:28 pm

Perhaps not, Tom. But if we are going hash this subject out, it might as well be exegetically based discussion.

42 Derek Browning June 27, 2012 at 7:29 pm

Hi Tom, I doubt we’ll figure it out, but the SBC needs to at least have the conversation with a level of mutual respect and intelligence. We shouldn’t assume that people hundreds of years ago having a thorough biblical discussion is easily transferable to our generation. The saddest thing about Ed Young’s rant is all the applause it garnered from people that haven’t seen the debate at a scholarly level.

I would like to see moderation on the topic that eliminates emotional rhetoric, IE: when someone tells a story about a lady at VBS saying raise your hand if you don’t want to go to hell, or a story about a preacher ran out of church for believing something. My vote, if it matters for anything, is that the exegetical posts only allow for dealings with the text, no personal experiences (or non-personal: my cousin’s friend’s dog groomer experiences).

I believe the first topic that would be most beneficial would be the effects of the fall on the will of man.

43 Tom Bryant June 28, 2012 at 8:21 am

Is that because we have never really had a discussion about this? I keep thinking about the insanity definition about repeating an action and expecting a different result.

If it would ever possibly work there would have to be strict moderation, but i doubt that Dave has that kind of time and then he’d get in trouble because those whom he moderated thought he was heavy handed. A suggestion might be that the moderation of each side be done by a “responsible” member of that particular viewpoint.

44 John K June 27, 2012 at 5:56 pm

Can you keep the exegesis down to the required reading level of only one Ph.D needed?

45 Dave Miller June 27, 2012 at 6:27 pm

That shouldn’t be too big of a problem.

46 Jeff Meyer June 27, 2012 at 6:29 pm

There’s a law that says that whoever gets pulled over for drunk driving three times will lose their license.

When you read that, is the first thing you think “that law says that everyone has the free choice of drunk driving” or “makes sense….I wish it was one time though…”. The whoever is limited – “whoever gets pulled over for drunk driving three times”.

Likewise, whosoever wins lottery gets a bunch of money.

Does that mean that everyone in the world without exception or distinction has the ability to win the lottery, even if they don’t play? Of course not – the whosoever is limited “whoever plays the lottery” – it is not making a statement about ability.

Likewise …God sent his one and only son hina pas ho pisteuon eis autos will not perish but have everlasting life.

A completely literal translation of the “whosoever will” part would be:

“so that everyone who believes in him”

That makes complete, perfect, and utter sense. God loved the world so he sent His one and only Son so that everyone who believes in Him would not perish but have everlasting life. The whoever is limited to “whoever believes in him”.

So, the question should not be one of ability here. It should be one of “belief” – “do you believe or not?” not “do you have the ability to believe”. John 3:16 should not be part of the free will debate at all – it is a WONDERFUL statement of the gospel – if you believe, you will be saved!

47 Dan Barnes June 27, 2012 at 7:03 pm

Just become a wovenist.

48 Jim Lockhart June 27, 2012 at 7:53 pm

I am not ordained and I did not go to seminary. Most times I consider that a blessing although I do appreciate theology in its better sense of looking as deep as you can into God. It is why I follow the debate about Calvinism/Traditionalism to try and see how it really makes a difference in my salvation and my ministry of teaching and sheparding a Sunday School class. I know my class and what we do is not a big deal to those well positioned denominationally (so to speak) but to me and those whom I am blessed to minister to it is where God wants me.

So why say all of this? Because, if you are looking for some way to find peace, you might try explaining how it matters to my class. We talk deeply about God, we are humbled by salvation, and we build our lives on faith and humility. We are blessed by justification and we really do make at effort to participate with God in our sanctification. But we also care deeply for each other without regard for the nuances of belief because, quite frankly, soteriology is nice (I like the discussion because it helps me see the grace behind mine) but how and when grace, repentence, or regeneration might occur, it really does not have anything to do with love.

So, why don’t you try telling me why all of this matters so I can tell my Sunday School class?

49 Jeff Meyer June 27, 2012 at 8:37 pm

Anecdotally? Because I was saved by two of my friends arguing about this topic. :) Seriously.

I wonder, would you say the same thing about the Trinitarian vs. Unitarian debate? About annhilationism vs an eternal hell?

I’m not trying to be snippy, but where should we draw the line as to what doctrines are important or not?

Oh, and I’m not seminary trained either.

50 Jim Lockhart June 27, 2012 at 10:03 pm

Jeff,

Part of my point is that we never talk about this stuff; we talk about how to grow in our faith, encourage one another, comfort one another, and try to make as big a place as possible for God in our lives. We have some whom I believe are not saved but they remain reticent and quiet – and still they listen. I try to let them catch a glimpse of the Jesus I know and love and why it should matter in their lives. I also try to let them see that there is sin and grace and salvation and place at the table if they would just allow it. I don’t want to consider the possibility that they might never find salvation and do not ever want to consider that God might not somehow be interested in them – and they do not want to hear it. Perhaps it is a truth that ought to be taught but I would not want to hear it if I were struggling with God.

There are serious lessons about the sovereignty of God, the power of grace, and the wonder of regeneration. It just never seems significant to parse the process into discrete parcels and argue over which comes first.

I have also talked about theology and it has helped me help others catch a glimpse of heaven and allow them to be overcome by grace and come into the kingdom. It just seems enough that they are alive without wondering about the particulars.

I find it intereting that I never hear about love in any of this and that is what people respond to at my level (so to speak).

I am not saying this discussion is not important. I follow it because because it shakes things up so I can catch a deeper glimpse of God. But only if it does that without becoming determinative of fellowship.

As for Unitarianism they would laugh if anyone posited that as serious. They did roll their eyes when I acquainted them with Rob Bell’s argument for everyone goes to heaven. I read the book and we discussed it and the discussion was more in preparation for what we should say to those who cannot see how God really sees sin.

Thanks for the insight.

Jim

51 Jim G. June 27, 2012 at 8:53 pm

Hi Jim,

I’ll bet your class is interested in why bad things happen. That is a question that cuts right to the heart of the Augustinian paradigm. Augustine’s answer (that bad things are ultimately God’s will, often for reasons we cannot fathom), and the answer of all his historical disciples, is seriously found wanting in my opinion. But I think your class can find some practical and theoretical value in how we answer that question.

Jim G.

52 Jim Lockhart June 27, 2012 at 10:16 pm

Jim,

We have discussed why bad things happen to good people but the context is always about our lives, especially when we are hurting over a loss or potential loss (my brother in law is struggling with a virulent form of cancer right now). Somehow we can never seem to lay it at the feet of God, as if God is responsible. As a matter of fact, we once had a very serious Calvinist in the class. His response was always that this or that thing was due to the sovereignty of God and everyone sort of looked at him kindly in the way you listen to people who cannot seem to understand that a loving God would not be the author of so much pain in the lives of those who love him and are in His Kingdom. We do acknowledge the consequences of sin but, if anything, it makes us yearn for heaven. Not in the “you will get your pie in the sky when you die” sense, but in the sense that God wants so much more for us.

Reason is a wonderful gift, especially if illuminated and guided by faith and the Holy Spirit. But my class still seems awed by the mystery of God (“we see in a mirror dimly”) but yet holds firm to the essential goodness of God.

It is why I love to read Spurgeon’s sermons. He may have had a theological position but he preached as if God should matter to everyone and that there is no full and complete life without God.

Thanks for the comment. I really do appreciate it.

53 Jim G. June 27, 2012 at 10:27 pm

Hi Jim,

That’s why I do what I do. I may be a theologian in my day job, but I’m a Christian 24/7. The practical side of this seemingly abstract battle is immense. Sometimes we are discussing fine points of this and that, but however one sees those fine points trickles down into the everyday worship of everyday people. The amount of God’s determination in people’s lives affects how we see the bad things that happen as well as the amount of divine desire or enabling in the work of salvation. It carries over into our view of the world and our view of others in it. Its far-reaching effects cannot be minimized. A true Bible student stands with one foot in eternal mysteries and the other in the everyday world of our fellow brothers and sisters. We can’t avoid it.

Jim G.

54 Frank June 27, 2012 at 8:40 pm

“Exegesis!”

We don’t need no “Extra Jesus!”

Heresy!!!

55 Clark Dunlap June 27, 2012 at 8:49 pm

I like the recommendation, lets stay away from ad hominem, even in its subtlest forms and… Oh look at the pretty clouds.
What was I saying? Oh yeah, no more hominy, just grits, with butter salt and pepper.
Oh, I remember that song…
what was I saying?

56 Clark Dunlap June 27, 2012 at 8:50 pm

Who is ADD?! I got yer exegesis

57 Bob Cleveland June 27, 2012 at 9:55 pm

To paraphrase somebody-or-other: “Never have so many with so little to say, said so much to so few”.

I’m lovin’ it, myself.

:)

58 Max June 27, 2012 at 10:00 pm

Exegesis would be a refreshing change. There’s been way too much eisegesis on the loose in the blogosphere.

59 Anthony Clay June 27, 2012 at 10:16 pm

Who wrote Hebrews? People want to know!

60 Jim G. June 27, 2012 at 10:21 pm

Hey Dave,

I’d be happy to volunteer for the non-Calvinist side, but I’m not too interested in exegesis. At the end of the day, I’m likely to agree to whatever my Calvinist “opponent” will say concerning the words written. I don’t think exegesis gets us very far. The words on the page are the words on the page. We all should, exegetically, arrive at the same conclusions, whether Calvinist or no.

But hermeneutics, now, there is where the rub is. It is not what the Bible “says” that we are questioning. We are rasslin’ over what it “means.” That is not exegesis, that is hermeneutics. Hermeneutics takes in all of our preconceived ideas. It is where our biases and presuppositions lie. The heart of our disagreement lies there.

Let me give you an example. A brother up the thread said John 3:16 should not have a whosoever in it. Okay, I can likely live with his exegesis. But that does not come with a deterministic assumption attached to it. I think it would be extraordinarily difficult, if not impossible, to show that the biblical writers in either testament operated with deterministic assumptions of providence. One would have to do that in order to “exegete” deterministic conclusions. That is why we are working with hermeneutics. We are in the world of meaning, not grammar/syntax. I think the debate should be there, but, hey, what do I know?

Jim G.

61 Dee June 27, 2012 at 10:41 pm

Hi, I’m new to this debate and one of you was my previous pastor. I know y’all like to study from the Greek perspective. I however like to study from the Hebraic given that the writers were Jews, pharisees, etc. and writing from this perspective. I have found resources to help find the Hebrew equivalent word through either a Septuagint concordance or an easier lexicon to use called The Greek to Hebrew Dictionary by Jeffery Benner who did all the hard work for me.
Another wonderful thing about Hebraic thought is one can see both sides at once. I can see both that YHWH is all knowing and realizes who will come when called and who will not, yet gives a free will to all and loves all not willing that any miss eternity with him. Yet we choose and fail and he keeps calling ready to hold us and bind our wounds till the day…His day when the earth is again so full of evil he comes too vanquish the foes and marry His Bride dance with us.

62 cb scott June 27, 2012 at 11:12 pm

“but, hey, what do I know?”

Well Jim G.,

I hope you know something, because you just “said” a lot, don’t you think?

Frankly, I tend to agree with much of it. Nonetheless, if you throw yourself under the bus, I don’t plan to go with you.

So, if you know, go ahead and say so and don’t make statements like; “but, hey, what do I know?”

You know what you know and it seems to me that it is “root hog or die” time in the Baptist blog world. So if you can cowboy up do so. Ole New SBC Boss Number Three has given the invitation. So go ahead and come forward.

63 Jim G. June 27, 2012 at 11:46 pm

I ain’t skeered.

The problem is, CB, I know where my limitations lie. There’s lots of things I don’t know. I’ve been around long enough to know that I don’t know nearly as much as I used to know (or used to think I knew). If I am invited back to the blog-o-rama bowl, I’ll appeal to my own ignorance a lot.

But I still ain’t skeered. :0)

Jim G.

64 cb scott June 28, 2012 at 12:05 am

Jim G.,

I know you “ain’t skeered.” I also know you paid your fees, read the assigned books and far more, made the grade and walked the aisle. I know you know what you know and you know enough to know you don’t know it all and you are honest enough to not lie about what you don’t know.

You are the perfect candidate to write a position paper on the pertinent texts to this discussion and like you stated; You “ain’t skeered” to deal with the questions and counter point to your conclusions.

So give Ole New SBC Boss Number Three a test document and let’s see if his idea will hold water or if the Wild Geese will fly in and squawk it to bottom of the Idealist Sea.

65 Bruce H. June 28, 2012 at 6:10 am

Dave,

I think it is a great idea. It would be a great time for some of us to sit back and learn from some of you educated thinkers on this important subject. Hopefully, we can ask questions, too. However, I can’t help but believe that it could have similar ramifications as the battle between evolutionist and creationist. It basically comes down to what a person believes about where salvation begins.

66 Jim Lockhart June 28, 2012 at 8:21 am

Jim G wrote:

But hermeneutics, now, there is where the rub is. It is not what the Bible “says” that we are questioning. We are rasslin’ over what it “means.” That is not exegesis, that is hermeneutics. Hermeneutics takes in all of our preconceived ideas. It is where our biases and presuppositions lie. The heart of our disagreement lies there.

And

Sometimes we are discussing fine points of this and that, but however one sees those fine points trickles down into the everyday worship of everyday people. The amount of God’s determination in people’s lives affects how we see the bad things that happen as well as the amount of divine desire or enabling in the work of salvation. It carries over into our view of the world and our view of others in it. Its far-reaching effects cannot be minimized.

To me these statements sum up the issue we are facing; the divide Dave is trying to bridge.

I understand the effect one’s view of the Bible can have on church life. Once upon a time I belonged to a church that got caught up in the conservative resurgence but in the wrong way: our pastor took our church to the CBF. I heard a lot of talk about the Bible but mostly I saw a lot of pride and selfishness. Those whom I thought were my friends and brethren in Christ suddenly looked at me (an inerrantist, a conservative) as someone slightly Neanderthal, a person who clung to superstition, and made an idol of the Bible. It damaged my family and wounded me (I have a son who was taught at Falls Creek that people like me are evil and hurtful and we are still working through that) and it wounded a lot of other people. I am now in a vibrant, solidly Biblical Southern Baptist Church and being around like minded people is what makes church a true fellowship. Church is back to being good. I want to keep it that way.

Now there seems to be another war brewing but this time (and given what Jim G. observes) it has all of the possibility of filtering down to my Sunday School class. In following the Southern Baptist blogosphere I can see the hurt that is accumulating, the invective that is inflicting the kind of wounds that take too long to heal, the incipient formation of exclusive tribes, and the staking of positions that appear to be determinative of inclusion (i.e. who might the “good” Christians be). We don’t need another war splitting our churches and sundering our families. I have listened to the recent anti-calvinist sermon from the guy down in Texas (forget his name) and I read the Founder’s Ministry blog so I know what is at stake.

Let me know what I can do to help. I would like to leave a legacy of peace because I firmly believe that we conservative, evangelical, and strongly Biblical believers are the last ones holding the keys to the kingdom in this postmodern world of ours.

Thanks, Dave, for all you are doing.

Jim

67 Bob Hadley June 28, 2012 at 8:36 am

Jim,

The problem that exists today can be best seen in the statement you made, “the incipient formation of exclusive tribes, and the staking of positions that appear to be determinative of inclusion (i.e. who might the “good” Christians be).”

What seems incredibly interesting is that this tribal language is now the talk of one side in the SBC… “we do not need to be tribal.”

Amazing. Simply Amazing. I sense the unity already!

><>”

68 Jeff Pasons June 28, 2012 at 9:07 am

“I sense the unity already!”…and thank you for making my point about undue sarcasm and how it will destroy any attempt to bring about the result Dave is seeking. As I said in my comment, sarcasm is my second language, but when tensions are high and especially when both sides seem somewhat unwilling to concede the slightest inch to the other, sarcasm does nothing but make things worse. I’m not suggesting it be banned……I mean, 2nd VP or not…Yankee fan? Really?

69 Jeff Parsons June 28, 2012 at 9:08 am

……and my computer mysteriously deleted the “r” from my last name….

70 Ken Hamrick June 28, 2012 at 9:19 am

The idea sounds good. I hope it will not be merely Hankinsian Self-determinism v. Calvinist Determinism, but will also include the soft-determinist centrist view.

71 Jim G. June 28, 2012 at 9:54 am

Hi Ken,

I went to your site and looked at some of your basic reasoning. I’m intrigued to say the least. I think you are on to something there.

Anyway, for a point of clarification, I don’t think Hankins can be rightly labeled a self-determiner. I think he is in the midst of the same struggle you and I (and the original semi-Pelagians) are: to find a way around the deterministic conclusions of the Augustinian-Calvin synthesis. I want to scrap the synthesis altogether and rebuild from the ground, but that’s my approach.

I’m not sure your appeal to soft determinism (if by that you mean taking a compatibilistic approach) is going to yield a complete answer, because, as I replied to you somewhere else (it was 10 minutes ago – I can’t remember! ARGH!) this is chiefly a doctrine of God question, not a chiefly anthropological one. But, hey, I admire anyone willing to take on the real problem here. Thanks for your work.

Jim G.

72 Ken Hamrick June 28, 2012 at 10:06 am

Jim,

Thanks for taking the interest to look a little further.

As is true of most theology, it is all connected.

Ken

73 Dale Pugh June 28, 2012 at 9:30 am

I, for one, look forward to reading that which is offered! For those of us looking for an honest discussion, I believe it can be helpful and insightful.
Of course, there will always be those who take a black-and-white approach to exegesis and hermeneutics. Those are the ones looking for the right or wrong of the Bible. If godly people have been debating these issues for hundreds (or thousands) of years, we probably won’t win the day with our own discussions. But possibly we can come to some understanding of one another. As a pastor, and one who approaches theology from a pastoral perspective, that matters to me. Exegete away!
On the other hand:
It seems that a new can of worms has been opened over at the Founder’s blog with charges of coercion. Certain signers of the document felt pressured to sign, though the names of those coerced and the identities of those applying pressure are not given. Such accusations do not help us in the process. If someone was coerced into signing the document, then he or she is gutless and deserves little consideration. If another person (or persons, or SBC “tribe”) is pressuring people to sign it, then we have denominational bullies and they should be outed as such. Such talk only serves to widen the divides between those who care about the issues at hand.
It basically boils down to an issue of trust. Who in leadership is worthy of my trust? I’m the bi-vocational pastor of a tiny country church in the middle of nowhere. As such, I have no standing or say in what goes on within the SBC other than my vote at the Convention. I’m just like thousands of others who just want to know that the leaders of our Convention are trustworthy and respectable men and women of God. I believe that the vast majority of them are.
My point is that once we get the exegesis out there we still have the human element involved. People have a party spirit, an “us/them” mentality. We want to win. I love the exegesis. I love the Bible. I love people. I even love my Convention, as flawed and conflicted as it may be. I pray that we would not sacrifice truth on the altar of emotion, thus stifling the possibility of honest debate.

74 Greg Alford June 28, 2012 at 10:02 am

Speaking of Unity and Diversity within the SBC… We could all stand a large serving of G.R.I.T.S.

75 Fletcher June 28, 2012 at 10:35 am

I know I do not comment very often on here, but I thought I would share my two cents on this idea as well. I think it would be a wonderful thing to pursue, and is something that is needed. So far when ever posts of this nature come up on here I just skip reading them. After the first few I found them not to be very beneficial and just turned into a rehash of the “debating” I witnessed destroy friendships and ministry leadership in college.

I would find myself reading more of the kind of posts you are describing Dave because I believe I could really learn from them. Right now I feel I do not learn anything form the posts that deal with this discussion. I do not mean that to be insulting to the authors of the posts, but I feel a big part of the discussion has been ignored for so long, and that is the part that Dave is presenting. Right now the discussion has felt solely opinion and experienced based. I’m ready to start hearing what people think Scriptures take on the discussion is.

76 Bernie June 28, 2012 at 10:50 am

Y ou’re right Dave- an excellent suggestion. The Word of God should be the final arbiter of any such issue. My hope and prayer is that the extremnists and their positions on both sides ‘of the aisle’ will study and see the truth for what it is- the antinmony that is sovereign grace.

We cannot completly reconcile or comprehend it nor are we supposed to (Ro. 11:34-36), but we are to fundamentally understand and affirm the truth that God is sovereign in salvation (like everything else, Ro. 9) and that man is responsible to deal with the gospel and chose to trust in Christ by repentant faith or reject him. Both are equally true and non-contradictory, no matter how paradoxidcal that might appear.

Why do I know this? Because ‘the Bible tells me so.’

77 Godismyjudge June 28, 2012 at 11:07 am

I really like Dave’s point/counter-point approach. Any Calvinists out there want to do a 500 word point/counter point with me on a specific passage? I am open as to which passage – Romans 9, Ephesians 1, Acts 13:48….

God be with you,
Dan

78 dr. james willingham June 28, 2012 at 1:13 pm

Thought I would give you all the results of a little research on the net from yesterday. It is a quote from the Church Letter of 1787 of the Georgia Baptist Assn, by Silas Mercer (if my memory still works, I think that Silas was Jesse Mercer’s father, and Jesse is the fellow after whom Mercer is named…I think). “Therefore, we believe it is to be the duty of every Gospel minister, to insist upon this soul comforting, God honoring doctrine of Predestination as the very foundation of our faith.” and “We cannot see how the plan of salvation can be supported without it. And we believe it to be a doctrine which God generally owns and blesses to the conviction and conversion of sinners, and comforting of his saints.”

Like I have been trying to say for many years now, to quote Dr. Eusden: “Predestination is an invitation to begin one’s spiritual pilgrimage….”, all of the doctrines of grace are really the most intense invitations, therapeutic paradoxes designed to accomplish the very opposite of what they do ordinarily provoke, which is hostility. Think. Remember even C.S. Lewis thought that Christianity was going to demand the whole of you. Brains and all.

God’s word is designed to jump start your mind to thinking and reflecting and reasoning, concerning the madness that is in your being from conception until death, the need for a sovereign miracle of mercy and grace, that you might come to be so transformed that you are willing to die for His sake and suffer any loss for Truth as He reveals it….and all with the least amount of harm you can work. Like the nurse hired to care for a child traumatized by WWII. Her job was to pick up and hold the child, while the child struck her repeatedly,. How long that went on, I do not remember from what I read, but one day, suddenly, the child laid her head over on the nurse’s should and began to cry. Love won the day…just as God did on the cross…and even his hardest doctrines are expression of that love. Yes, even reprobation is an invitation to trust and believe and it empowers the reprobate to do it. The woman of Canaan was willing to admit that she was like a dog and would take the crumbs that fall from the children’s table (which no one would want to take off the floor, dirt or other wise, to give to the child). Gentlemen and Ladies: We are getting ready to have a Third Great Awakening, I do hope and pray, and it might well be beginning to already occur. As the Antique in this discussion, though my father would have snurled up his 90 year old nose at his youngster’s offering such identification, I hope I have cause to envy what you all and our son will see in the way of Divine Visitations in the years and milleniums that lie ahead (1000 generations, allowing 20 years per, is 20,000 years). Of course, God has the right to end it today, but I think he wants enough saved souls in Heaven in order to crack that bit of humor in Rev.7:9 for the comfort of His beleaguered children. Nothing like the laughter of Special Forces in tough situations.

79 Wes Taylor June 29, 2012 at 11:31 am

I am Pastor of a small SBC church in rural Florida. I am not seminary educated. The only degree I hold is a PhD from the school of hard knocks. While I have always considered myself to be a somewhat comprehensively complete self-educated individual, I realize that I am in no way qualified to enter this debate with such well-educated Bible scholars, so I will refrain from doing so. However, there is one thing that even a simple man like myself can see for sure. The ugliness, personal attacks, and division I see on BOTH sides of this issue are not of God, they do nothing to advance His kingdom, and Satan is having a field day with that approach. Believe me, I fully understand consuming passion for an issue that you believe strongly in, that is surely who I am. However, I believe that we can be passionate and stand firmly, wherever that stand may be, without being ugly and vindictive. I want everyone to know that I am not making an accusation pointed toward Calvinists here; nor toward non-Calvinists, nor traditionalists or anyone else. I just believe that we give Satan more ammunition to use against us if the unsaved of this world see us being mean-spirited and treating each other as enemies. I encourage us all to stick to the Bible and what it says and to leave out the rhetoric and sarcasm that causes division. Let me remind everyone, if we are REALLY interested in doing God’s work, we are all on the same team here.

80 Dave Miller June 29, 2012 at 1:47 pm

Very much agree.

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: