A Response to Dr. Nathan Finn, Part 4: The New Calvinists (by Dr. Eric Hankins)

Dr. Eric Hankins is the Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church, Oxford, Mississippi. He is the author of the much-discussed Traditionalist Statement and was central to the Calvinism Task Force appointed by Dr. Page, which reported at the Houston Annual Meeting. This is part 4 in the series. Read Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3

In this final post, I offer a response to the second question Nathan Finn puts to Traditionalists in his recent essay in the Journal for Baptist Theology and Ministry. Finn asks, “Who are the New Calvinists, and what have they done?” (68). Finn understands the preamble to the Traditional Statement (TS) to be insinuating that New Calvinists (NCs) are theologically rigid in places where Southern Baptists (SBs) are flexible and that they are anti-missional hyper-Calvinists. He counters with the assertion that NCs are actually theologically diverse and passionate about missions. If Finn’s analysis is correct, then he is right to wonder why Traditionalists are so alarmed. Unfortunately, Finn both misses the point of the preamble and fails to characterize adequately New Calvinism. The preamble is not charging NCs with insisting on only one brand of strict Calvinism. Instead, it is making the point that all the adjustments Calvinists have had to make across the years to keep the system from becoming hyper-Calvinist and anti-missional are reasons why SBs have historically resisted Calvinism and ought to continue to do so.

Since Finn’s answer to his own question is inadequate, let me put into evidence the answer of a New Calvinist Finn mentions, John Piper. Who are the NCs? Piper says they are passionate about the authority of Scripture, the centrality of the gospel, and the glory of God as these things are described by John Calvin, which is to say, as these things are understood through the lens of theistic determinism. Piper begins his answer by describing how NCs respond to tragedies like 9/11. Instead of a god who was either too weak or not good enough to stop those events, the God of NCs has a bigger plan. What Piper does not spell out, as he does in other places, is that God meticulously foreordained the events of 9/11 so that they could not have been otherwise. He determined to be most glorified in that destruction as the elect learn to be most satisfied with even that “frowning providence.” The Bible is the story of a determining God. The gospel is the story of God’s determination of the destiny of every person with respect to Jesus Christ: some are in, most are out. The glory of God, deterministically enjoyed by some, is the central reality of the Bible, the gospel, and the Christian life. These are the beliefs of the New Calvinists.

What have they done to draw the criticism of people like me? Piper himself acknowledges that Calvinists are often negative. He proposes three reasons why this is the case. First, because of the powerfully coherent nature of the system, it tends to appeal to rigorous minds, serious intellectuals who often are not the warmest, friendliest people. They don’t suffer fools gladly and are impatient with those who can’t or won’t acknowledge Calvinism’s internal consistency. Second, they are sometimes angry that they went so long without recognizing the doctrines of grace in the Scriptures or without being taught them in their churches. In a real sense, their churches and pastors failed them, and they are justifiably upset and justified in their efforts to correct those problems. Third, a New Calvinist sometimes comes off as overbearing because he has been graciously enabled and now is passionately overwhelmed by the truths that teach that he “has been awakened from the dead, like being found at the bottom of a lake and God, at the cost of his Son’s life, brings him up from the bottom, does CPR, brings him miraculously back to life, and he stands on the beach thrilled with the grace of God.” Piper goes on to say that the negative impression that people get from this passionate advocacy is sometimes due to the sinfulness of the Calvinist but also “to people’s unwillingness to see what is really there in the Bible.”

Piper’s is the correct answer to Finn’s question. A strong motivation for the production of the TS is that NCs often come off as arrogant, angry, and cocksure that their deterministic soteriology accounts for the totality of the biblical data. To Piper’s answer, I would give a little tweak and some further application to the SB context. My tweak would be to make as clear as possible that what ultimately defines a New Calvinist is his commitment to theistic determinism. Not just an emphasis on the Bible, but an emphasis on a deterministic reading of the Bible. Not just an emphasis on the gospel, but a deterministic understanding of the gospel. Not just as an emphasis on the glory of God, but a deterministic understanding of the glory of God.

The coherence of Calvinism is the coherence of determinism. Biblical texts that don’t fit the system are marginalized or reinterpreted to fit it. A variety of shims are inserted into the system to soften or hide the jolting but necessary demands of determinism. These fixes (Amyraldianism, single predestination, “duty faith,” God’s two loves, His two wills, compatibilistic freedom, “mystery, paradox, antimony,” etc., etc., etc.) actually destroy the coherence of determinism, even though they are well-intended—they are crafted to rescue the character of God, the plain-sense meaning of many biblical texts, and a legitimate rationale for taking the gospel to every person. In the past, most SBs were willing to live with these “adjustments” because Calvinists didn’t push determinism hard and so we weren’t highly motivated to hammer out our specific response to them. But that’s changed. NCs are actively promoting this approach to theology, and Traditionalists are no longer going to give them free passes on its problematic affirmations and implications. NCs are going to have to spell out, in a compellingly coherent manner, how determinism fits with our passion about the fact that anyone can be saved. So far, no such articulation has been provided. If NCs can’t offer an acceptable explanation, then we will either have to return to the detente that has characterized the SB relationship to Calvinism in the past or find a way to sublimate the best of both soteriological approaches while dropping determinism as a theological presupposition.

The supposedly overwhelming beauty of Calvinistic determinism is, in fact, disturbing to most SBs. We are not interested in a God who drowns us all for the sin He foreordained that we commit and then resuscitates a few of us for His own glory. This is not a straw man; this is not misrepresentation. This is what John Piper thinks is at the core of biblical soteriology. NCs make this work by keeping the attention on those who “[stand] on the beach thrilled with the grace of God” and off of all the dead people at the bottom of the lake who will never have an opportunity to be anywhere else. Well, I see dead people. And we are going to talk about them. We are not troubled by the claims of Calvinism because we don’t understand them. We are troubled by the claims because we do. Finn is correct in pointing to the concern raised in the preamble to the TS that NCs are pressing for the “radical alteration” of a “long standing arrangement” (68). NCs want to move their deterministic soteriology from the periphery to the center, which means that the idea that anyone can be saved will be replaced with the idea that only some have been meticulously foreordained for salvation while all others are without hope. This has never been at the heart of SBC evangelism and missions, certainly not since the crafting of the first BFM and the formation of the Cooperative Program. We have always resisted this view, and we will continue to resist it. That’s our old problem with New Calvinism.

Comments

  1. dr. james willingham says

    Our problem with the Traditionalists and their criticisms of the so-called Calvinism, really Sovereign Grace, is the same with much of what our New Calvinists set forth, namely, that neither group knows their Sovereign Grace views very well. Just consider this: Dr. John Thomas, who as accused of being a Hyper Calvinist by some of his contemporaries, won the first convert of the Modern Missionary Movement, Krishna Pal, and the latter was baptized by William Carey, a five point Calvinist. Why? Because Thomas went insane with joy at seeing the first convert after 14 years of ups and downs which drove him into a frenzy of elation on the upside concerning the new convert. There is also the issue of George W. Truett pointing out in his Address at the Spurgeon Centennial in London in 1934 where he was introduced by the Prime Minister of the British Empire that “Calvinism presses down on the brow of man the crown of responsibility.” How could this be, if the Calvinists were unconcerned for missions and soul winning? My ordaining pastor was a self-professed Supralapsarian Hyper Calvinist (and he knew his theology, having a Ph.D. from Bob Jones University) who preached with such passion for souls that tears ran down his checks. Dr. Robert G. Lee thought so much of Dr. Campbell, who had been his associate at one time, that he put it in his Will that Dr. Campbell would preach his funeral. Dr. Campbell use to laugh and say, “Dr. Lee had five preachers, but I was the only one that was legal, required by law.” Whitefield would stop in his sermons and say, “I must weep for you that cannot weep for yourselves.” And he would burst into tears for souls that were unable to weep for themselves. It was my privilege to know two branches of one family where two brothers and their mother were converted under Whitefield. One branch became Baptist, and the other Presbyterian. A Baptist minister in the first branch was my personal friend, and my wife worked for a member of the second branch in a funeral home. The people from Whitefield’s efforts, like Shubal Stearns and a host of others, were the converts who spread the Baptist evangelistic effort across the South and, ultimately, around the world. As Rev. Luther Rice indicated in his memoirs, the doctrines which the Traditionalists seem to think hinder the work, are in the Bible and had better be preached.

  2. William Thornton says

    Piper’s explanation of why Calvinists are often seen as arrogant is one of the most arrogant things I have read in a very long time. I’ve witnessed that in a few SBC churches that had Calvinistic pastors. The results were ugly.

    • Bill Mac says

      I have to agree, and I’m a Calvinist. What a silly defense of arrogance.

      • Tarheel says

        Yea, BillMac, while I haven’t taken the time to evaluate Pipers full context of comments, on the surface (from Eric’s analysis) I gotta agree that he seems to justifying ungodly behavior in a, to use your term, in a silly way.

    • John Carpenter says

      I don’t believe that John Piper is arrogant or that his explanations are arrogant.

      The arrogant person is the one who will not accept the Word of God.

  3. says

    Eric,
    “NCs make this work by keeping the attention on those who “[stand] on the beach thrilled with the grace of God” and off of all the dead people at the bottom of the lake who will never have an opportunity to be anywhere else. Well, I see dead people. And we are going to talk about them. We are not troubled by the claims of Calvinism because we don’t understand them. We are troubled by the claims because we do.”

    Indeed!

    Intellectual honesty is a must in this conversation. And Piper has now provided the evidence to finally put an end to all of the “straw man” claims and deal with fact. We do know what the system teaches and it is because of this that we have problems with it.

    I still laugh when someone says I am stirring trouble for stating what I believe and how it is different than Clavs claim and yet they are somehow not doing the same for doing the same!

    Great response!

  4. Tarheel says

    Traditionalist are New Universalist and this view has never been been the heartbeat of Southern Baptist missions at least not since we started the cooperative program and we have resisted this new Universalism and we will continue to resist it and it ought to be so.

    • says

      Most trolling comment I have seen on this site in a long time. The fact that you make it anonymously makes it all the more trolling.

      I disagree with a lot of the rhetoric that comes from the Traditionalist camp, but I will not stand by and see men like Rick Patrick, Eric Hankins, Tim Rogers, and Brad Whitt (among many others) be labelled as Universalists. They are men who believe and proclaim the Gospel and who believe that people who do not know Jesus are going to hell. They are evangelists, disciplers, and passionate followers of Jesus. To call them Universalists, because you disagree with their biblical and defensed understanding of soteriology is indefensible.

      I’m a fire brand, a loud mouth, and an opinionated son of a gun. I’m Reformed and not shy about it, but I’m also not mad about it. You sir, or madam, owe these men and women, our brothers and sisters in Christ, an apology. A sincere one.

      At the very least, you ought to have the courage to put your real name to such baseless allegations.

      Coward.

      • Tarheel says

        Ryan,

        I will not return in-kind and speak to you by calling you names while decrying what you define as inappropriate behavior seems a little hypocritical so I won’t do it.

        That’s exactly my point no I do not think they are universalist all I did was merely took a definition upon it to them and then argued against the definition that I defined that’s exactly what Eric does I was making a point Made.

        In fact I simply rearranged Eric’s wording in his article…used his tactic of defining what others believe and then arguing against what I say they believe.

        Again I do not think traditionalist or universalists I was making a point and apparently made it quite well.

      • Dave Miller says

        Tarheel, I think you need to tone down your rhetoric. You can be direct without being disrespectful.

        calling people universalists is not a path to productive discussion.

        You can do better.

        • Tarheel says

          Yea, As I said I was making a point…that one can ( mis) define someone else’s view and then argue against that definition….

          Remember the thread a week or so ago where several of the Calvinist persuasion were desperately trying to convince people that they were arguing against positions the hold and They continued to do so.

          This article continued on that vein.

      • John Carpenter says

        Tim Rogers? The man who called me on the phone angrily and repeatedly calling me an “idiot” because I challenged him about his defense of proven, unrepentant liar Ergun Caner? He’s a passionate discipler of Jesus? Really?

  5. says

    Tarheel,
    It is comments like yours that seek to define to your own liking (always in the negative) that sow the seeds feeding the fire. We are NOT Universalists – nor New Universalists.

    This type of tone and rhetoric must stop!

    If you disagree, do so being intellectually honest.

    • Tarheel says

      Like I said above I know you’re not universalists but if y’all get to define what we believe and then argue against it why can’t we do it? I was making a point…. Point mate

  6. says

    A Reformed definition is in order. John Samson writes:

    “Compatibilism is a form of determinism and it should be noted that this position is no less deterministic than hard determinism. It simply means that God’s predetermination and meticulous providence is “compatible” with voluntary choice. Our choices are not coerced …i.e. we do not choose against what we want or desire, yet we never make choices contrary to God’s sovereign decree. What God determines will always come to pass (Eph 1:11)…

    In light of Scripture, (according to compatibilism), human choices are exercised voluntarily but the desires and circumstances that bring about these choices about occur through divine determinism. For example, God is said to specifically ordain the crucifixion of His Son, and yet evil men voluntarily crucify Him (see Acts 2:23 & 4:27-28). This voluntary of evil act is not free from God’s decree, but it is voluntary, according to these Texts. Or when Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery in Egypt, Joseph later recounted that what his brothers intended for evil, God intended for good (Gen 50:20). God determines and ordains that these events will take place (that Joseph will be sold into slavery), yet the brothers voluntarily make the evil choice that beings it to pass, which means the sin is imputed to Joseph’s brothers for the wicked act, and God remains blameless. In both of these cases, it could be said that God ordains sin, sinlessly. Nothing occurs apart from His sovereign good pleasure.

    We should be clear that NEITHER compatibilism nor hard determinism affirms that any man has a free will. Those who believe man has a free will are not compatibilists, but should, rather, be called “inconsistent”. Our choices are our choices because they are voluntary, not coerced. We do not make choices contrary to our desires or natures, nor seperately from God’s meticulous providence.”

    **That** is the determinism of Reformed theology and we of the Reformed faith need not apologize for it.

  7. Tarheel says

    I posted that on purpose not because I necessarily believe it but because I was using absurdities to illustrate absurdity.

    In other discussion threads and in the opening post traditionalists have taken to defining what we believe and then arguing against their on definition … I was simply illustrating how fallacious that can be.

      • Tarheel says

        It’s not bull….

        I’ve never outside of this post identified those who disagree with me universalists….I’d did it only to make a point.

        In fact in other threads i’ve argued that we are brothers and sisters in Christ and I’ve argued that these are not points that need to divide us but they are dead set on it….. In fact Eric Hankins helped write, heartily affirmed, and signed the calvinism study committee report document stating that these issues were not points that we should divide over yet he still writes blogs saying we should divide on it.

        In another comment stream I asked him about that and crickets I was not the only one who asked him several others asked and crickets.

        So I thought I’d try another tactic you don’t like my tactic that’s fine but don’t call me a liar.

    • says

      Guys
      High pitch rhetoric, name calling, and absurd statements are certainly not limited to the Cal/Trad discussion in SB life. Being the old kid on the block, I heard the same type of thing in the inherency discussion, the Evangelism verses Social Action discussion, and the Millennial arguments. Hence I am not surprised, aggravated, but not surprised. The subjects change and the people change but the attitude remains the same.
      I agree with Martin Luther…”If I were God and I created the world, and the world treated me like it treats Him, I would kick the wretched thing to pieces”.

      I wonder how and why God puts up with me.

  8. says

    John Piper said that some Calvinists who are rude might be rude because they take an intellectual position and have poor people skills. Some might be rude because they are unsaved. Some might be considered rude because they are so passionate about what they believe, but are not socially adept at communicating.
    Some not all.
    To paint all of any group because of some is bearing false witness.
    It is improper and un-Christian.

  9. volfan007 says

    Once again, Eric Hankins nails the whole issue to the wall. The man has great insight and intellect, and he can spell it out so clearly that even I can understand it.

    David

  10. dr. james willingham says

    Funny. It is my understanding that Tarheel is not a Calvinist, if my memory of what he has said on the issue at other times is correct. It is obvious that he was merely making a rhetorical point, i.e., for the sake of argument. I would not go out on a limb like that, however, as Christians are supposed to refrain from such tactics. Just think of a Hyper Calvinist being the founder of the American Race Track Chaplaincy, and yet such was the case with Dr. Ernest R. Campbell (cf. Who’s Who in Religion. 2nd. edn. Chicago: Marquis Pubs., 1977). The theology of the future, the theology which produced religious liberty in actual practice in the past, is the theology which will take us into space and throughout the starry universe in order to win the number of souls requisite to the numbers foretold in the biblical texts. Go read Roger Williams and the actions of Dr. John Clarke in Rhode Island, and please note that the first (and at the last account I had) and oldest synagogue in the New World was built in that colony in the 1600s. And if anyone has a problem with that consider how Jonathan Edwards preached on the subject of “Pressing into the Kingdom.” Quite a subject for a Calvinist unless the theology is not as is presently understood even by its present adherents.

    • volfan007 says

      Dr. Willingham,

      I think he/she is a Calvinist. I’m pretty sure that he/she has said that before.

      Tarheel, are you a he or a she?

      David

      • Tarheel says

        David is right…I’m a Calvinist.

        You know I’m a male…I’ve identified myself as such on numerous occasions….

  11. says

    Philosophy is a poor place for Christians to argue out their differences.
    Words like determinism, compatibilism, and libertine free will are philosophical terms usually employed by people who do not place God the Father of Jesus the Son of God in highest esteem like MOST passionate Calvinists [like John Piper] or most passionate Traditionalists [like Eric Hankins].

    And when try to fit Biblical truths into philosophical categories, it can be like fitting square pegs into round holes.
    For example, most Trads I know seem to be libertarian free will type people. But do any of them doubt the Word of God when it says in Acts 2:
    “Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst, just as you yourselves know— this Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death.”

    More ever, do they, Traditionalists, doubt that those who nailed Jesus to the cross also did so by their own free will?

    In other words, they are what many Calvinists are in philosophical terms: compatibilists. Which philosophically means that it is possible for God to determine before hand what free men must but freely choose to do.
    To repeat, most Calvinists and every Trad itionalist type person I speak to are compatabilists meaning they think it is possible that God may PREDETERMINE the FREE CHOICES of man.

    And furthermore, I would think that any person who has even looked into this idea would not wish to cause division by arguing over philosophical terms when the Bible is clear; men often do freely what God has predetermined them to do.

    peace brothers,
    mike

    • says

      Mike,

      “And furthermore, I would think that any person who has even looked into this idea would not wish to cause division by arguing over philosophical terms when the Bible is clear; men often do freely what God has predetermined them to do.”

      Exactly right brother. Our Trad brothers agree with compabitalism even if they don’t like to admit it.

      • says

        Les,

        And if they admit this truth, which the Bible starkly reveals, then one of their main objections to predestination simply disappears: For if God can predestine the free will choices of men, why couldn’t He predestine their choice in election as well!

        • says

          Les,

          I don’t believe God HAS to predestine that choice. I believe that any person, whosoever, to whom God reveals His glory to in the face of Jesus Christ will desire God above the world and above him or herself.
          No human goes to Hell if they believed in their earthly life that Jesus is indeed the crucified risen Lord of all.

          • Braxton Hunter says

            Mike, it is surprising to me that you warn of using philosophical rhetoric in making a case for or against an issue like this, when you then go on to use it to argue against libertarian freedom. Seems strange. Also, the Acts 2 passage is easily explained if one makes the appropriate distinction between God’s determining something (in a biblical sense) and determinism (in a philosophical sense). God can plan to do something or bring something about without removing man’s libertarian freedom. Any non-calvinist could happily deny compatibilism so long as he doesn’t make the categorical error of assuming that when the Bible says God determines to do something that this means philosophical determinism (which by the way is a move that could likewise get one charged with forcing philosophy onto the Bible). Secondly, this passage is often used as a prooftext for Molinism. Molinism similarly allows one to affirm libertarian freedom in situations like this. Lastly, we all bring philosophical considerations to our understandings of Scripture. If I pose the question, “is it possible that Scripture is both true and false in the same sense?” we would all want to answer, “No.” But why is this the case? It is because we affirm the law of non-contradiction. Furthermore, the usefulness of proper philosophy in this regard is I think why you find yourself, respectfully, chastising some for arguing by means of philosophical principles before you then argued by means of philosophical principles. Blessings.

          • Nate says

            Braxton,

            The question concerning compatibilism against libertarian free will has a sharp distinction after one is saved, don’t you think? I don’t know of any in the SBC who would argue against “once saved, always saved.” However, if one has true libertarian free will doesn’t that person have the means through which they can be truly saved one day and then “choose” to walk away from the faith and no longer be saved.

            It would seem, regardless of where the line in the sand is about free will prior to salvation, all in the SBC are compatibilists post salvation.

          • Braxton Hunter says

            Nate,

            I guess, I’m not tech-savy enough to figure out how to post a response to your question below. There was no reply button under your text. You said, “However, if one has true libertarian free will doesn’t that person have the means through which they can be truly saved one day and then “choose” to walk away from the faith and no longer be saved.”

            I love answering this question, because it demonstrates why I am not a 1 point calvinist even though I affirm eternal security. It’s also very simple, intuitive and makes sense of scripture. On compatibilism/calvinism, man will not fall away because God has overwhelmed/overridden his will in such a way by irresistible grace that he will never want to fall away. On a libertarian view, it’s much more streamlined than that. Man will never lose his salvation because accepting God’s offer is a free choice that has a permanent outcome. There are many things like this in the world. Some vaccines, for example, have an effect that lasts for the rest of one’s life. One freely chooses to get vaccinated, but they cannot choose to be unvaccinated. When salvation is understood in this way, it does not result in compatibilism. It results in a free person who has made a permanent decision.

            Therefore, your conclusion, “It would seem, regardless of where the line in the sand is about free will prior to salvation, all in the SBC are compatibilists post salvation” does not attain.

            Moreover, even if it were the case that compatibilism were true, but only after salvation, Calvinism would still be false.

          • Nate says

            Braxton,

            When there are so many replies you have to just go to the last reply button, so you replied to me. Thanks for the answer.

            I understand your analogy, but I think you only affirmed my position (which wasn’t exactly Calvinistic by the way). I merely pointed out that a “once saved always saved belief” had to relinquish libertarian free-will after salvation. Your analogy of the inoculation, while deft, is never spoken of when sharing the gospel. In other words, nobody says, “as soon as you confess Christ you will give up your libertarian free will, are you good with that.”

            I think that is a good trade-off, but people who believe in full libertarian free will don’t share in that way (at least none that I know).

          • Braxton Hunter says

            Nate,

            Thanks for the civility which is so often lacking in these dialogues.

            I don’t think you give up your libertarian freedom upon being saved. it sounds like you thought I was conceding that. I merely said that even if that were the case it would not support calvinism which requires compatibilism to be true prior to and after salvation. But this should not be taken to imply that I think compatibilism is true after salvation. Blessings!

  12. Dave Miller says

    Discuss the post. Do so in a reasonable manner. I’m tired of this nonsense.

    • Wm. Dwight McKissic, Sr. says

      Dave,
      You are right. I just saw this instruction from you. I joined in the fun ’bout Tarheel’s hair, but if I had read your instruction first, I wouldn’t have. I would respect your right to remove my hair comment.

      Regarding this post, I have been so impressed with Dr. Hankin’s post on this subject. I happen to share his soteriology and very much appreciate his ability to communicate my views on this subject far better than I could, or most traditionalist(or whatever we are suppose to be called) could. I also love the irenic spirit in which he refutes Calvinism. Rick Patrick also does a fine job addressing this topic.]

      The notion that God assigns people to hell without them having a choice, or being able to exercise their will in the matter is a serious and dangerous misreading of key text(s) in Scripture. Without voices like Dr. Hankins, Rick Patrick, Tim Rogers, Jerry Vines, Paige Patterson, and others–the younger generation would not have alternative voices and influences to turn to on this subject–given the popularity of Piper, MacArthur, Sproul, Mohler, Keller, Duncan, and that crowd. I am also seeing a younger generation of Black Pastors gradually shift toward Calvinism. This discussion has not yet reached a boilerplate response in the Black community, but I sense that it is coming. I find Hankin’s post quite helpful in preparing to formulate my own response. I appreciate you allowing both sides of this discussion to be aired here.

      Since Calvinist believe that God has already determined that God has assigned that certain people go to hell, in some kind of arbitrary, cold, non-calculating fashion, who then is inspired to know who those people are? Just as the moderates could not tell us which parts of the Bible are inspired, and which parts are not; the Calvinist cannot tell us which persons God has assigned to hell, and those he has not. That position in my judgement, is only not true to Scripture–it would be a nonstarter from my vantage point as it relates to missions and evangelism. Therefore, I have much much respect and much appreciation for what Hankins is saying here. It is a message that it desperately needed.

      Finally, C H Spurgeon is a hero of mine, as he is to so many. He was right and fair on the race question even in his day. He spoke against slavery, and that chapter was removed from one of his books when printed in America. However, I most vehemently disagree with his statement that Calvinism is the gospel. That mindset is gaining a stronghold in the SBC, and that should be refuted with a sense of urgency, and intellectual prowess. Thank God that Dr. Hankins has the mantle upon him to rise to the occasion and address this crucial need. It appears, like Esther, that God has brought him into the Kingdom for such a time as this.

      • says

        Dwight,

        “The notion that God assigns people to hell without them having a choice, or being able to exercise their will in the matter is a serious and dangerous misreading of key text(s) in Scripture.”

        It is a “dangerous misreading of key text(s) in Scripture.” And if that is what Calvinists believed I would stand with you to refute it. But that i snot what Calvinists believe.

        “Since Calvinist believe that God has already determined that God has assigned that certain people go to hell, in some kind of arbitrary, cold, non-calculating fashion, who then is inspired to know who those people are?”

        But that is NOT what Calvinists believe. And only God knows who are the elect.

        “the Calvinist cannot tell us which persons God has assigned to hell, and those he has not.”

        The more proper way to state what Calvinists believe is to state that Calvinists cannot tell you or anyone else whom God has chosen from the foundation of the world. Thusly we also cannot tell you exactly who will willingly reject Christ either.

        Blessings brother.

          • says

            DL,

            “But that i snot what Calvinists believe.” Well, either I am snot, which is possible, or more likely Trads think Calvinism is snot.

            But the truth is more simple. “But that is not what Calvinists believe.” :) and good catch.

        • says

          Les,
          Certainly ~some~ Calvinists believe that all men are condemned in Adam and really don’t have a choice. But there are many SBC Calvinists who do not go to that place. They believe that people are condemned when they sin themselves.
          Thus the do have a choice, and they choose to sin and rebel against God and are rightly condemned.
          Some of those, but not all, hear the Gospel. Those that never hear remain condemned justly for their own sins.

          • says

            Mike, my point is what Calvinism actually teaches. There may indeed be some Calvinists who believe man has not real choice. But that is not what true Calvinism teaches. Mine is an appeal that non Calvinists accurately portray what Calvinism actually teaches.

      • says

        Dr. Dwight
        You have hit on a very disturbing problem. You are so very correct that young pastors are very influenced by well know men. This I think is problematic. The celebrity concept has led many young pastors “astray” depending on one’s theology. Far too often i hear a person say so and so says as opposed to what scripture says when delineating a position.

        Any type of group thinking that has a central celebrity leader is dangerous.

        I do not have a solution just a problem.

      • says

        Dwight,
        You said,
        Since Calvinist believe that God has already determined that God has assigned that certain people go to hell, in some kind of arbitrary, cold, non-calculating fashion, who then is inspired to know who those people are? – See more at: http://sbcvoices.com/a-response-to-dr-nathan-finn-part-4-the-new-calvinists-by-dr-eric-hankins/#comment-238522

        Gosh, golly, gee, brother, be part of the solution of unity, not a pusher of division. No Calvinist says God uses a cold calculating way to determine election. Why do you enter the discussion with your fists up?
        But to answer the overall thrust of your question: ONLY GOD knows. God knows all things, including the profound wisdom behind if and why He does elect some. That IF He does do it, well then it is of course arbitrary since God never answers to anyone, and needs no counsel, just like His decision to create the world was arbitrary, full well knowing EXACTLY who would go to Hell, how many and what each of their names would be.

        Peace in Jesus,
        mike

        • Wm. Dwight McKissic, Sr. says

          Parsonsmike,

          It is always my goal to be a man of peace, and to pursue unity, not division. But, if Calvinist believe that God predestines persons for hell without any regard to their freewill factoring into the equation–wouldn’t that mean that He assigned them to hell in a cold, noncalculating, arbitrary fashion? My expressing it that way was not my intent to enter this discussion with my fist up, but to discuss this matter in a way that common people will understand it. If Calvinism continue to grow in the Black Church Community, I will feel compelled to eventually address it. I am trying to become well versed on the subject so when I do address it, I will shed light, rather than heat. Although, I addressed the subject in a crude manner from your vantage point, or preferred communication style–my question is: did I in anyway misrepresent Calvinist theology in my stating that Calvinist believe that God assigns certain persons to hell without their will being factored into the equation?

          • says

            Dwight,
            Three things.
            One. You assigned your reasoning to others as if it were their reasoning. It was inflammatory.
            Second, You lumped all Calvinists in one big pot. Many SBC Calvinists believe in an age of accountability where as man does use his free will to rebel against God and earn condemnation.
            Three. IF God did do it that way, do you think He would do it a cold way?

            So you disagree with a doctrine. As you know i disagree with some of yours. But i am sure you do not like it when people make false accusations against Charismatics on the whole when only some might believe you need to speak in tongues to be saved, for example.
            Blessings brother,
            mike

        • says

          Here is what Calvinism teaches about God’s decree and relation to man’s will:
          From the London Baptist Confession 1689 on God’s Decree.
          “God has decreed in Himself from all eternity, by the most wise and holy counsel of His own will, freely and unchangeably, all things which shall ever come to pass.
          – Yet in such a way that God is neither the author of sin nor does He have fellowship with any in the committing of sins, nor is violence offered to the will of the creature , nor yet is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established.

          – In all this God’s wisdom is displayed, disposing all things, and also His power and faithfulness in accomplishing His decree.”

          Blessings brother.

      • Tarheel says

        Dwight,

        “Since Calvinist believe that God has already determined that God has assigned that certain people go to hell, in some kind of arbitrary, cold, non-calculating fashion, who then is inspired to know who those people are? Just as the moderates could not tell us which parts of the Bible are inspired, and which parts are not; the Calvinist cannot tell us which persons God has assigned to hell, and those he has not. That position in my judgement, is only not true to Scripture–it would be a nonstarter from my vantage point as it relates to missions and evangelism.”

        If what you stated were an accurate detailing of Reformed theology, I’d be concerned too, but it’s not….so I’m not.

        No Calvinist believes that anything that God does is in any way arbitrary, cold or calculating.

        Also, no Calvinist purports to know or announce who is elect and who is not…we simply proclaim the gospel of Christ as the power of God unto salvation for everyone who believes!

        • Tarheel says

          Lol! It appears that mike, les, and I were cross posting and in agreement in doing so….

        • Adam G. in NC says

          IMHO this right here has opened up more unlikely white folks’ eyes to hip-hop than anything.

        • Tarheel says

          I for the life of me can’t follow Dwight’s reasoning here….is he saying its a bad thing that some pastors are becoming Calvinists and f it continues he’s gonna have to do something? Along those same lines I don’t get the hand wringing over the Calvinists coming out of Southern seminary.

          I just can’t wrap my head around that.

          I don’t look to southwestern and say “there are a lot of noncalvinists coming out of there…we gotta address that!”

  13. Stephen says

    Though it resulted in a lot of bickering, I think Tarheel did have a point. Hankins goes long on claiming NCs’ entire system boils down to determinism, but this is hardly found in his links (by the way, there is a big difference between a natural disaster like a tornado and a human act of aggression like 9/11).

    He then claims that traditionalists were okay with Calvinists in the past because they did not push determinism as much, but now, despite all the “adjustments” like 4 pointers, 2 wills of God, etc., NCs are actually pushing determinism more. Where is the historical support?

    • Tarheel says

      Honestly, I kinda object to the New Calvinist label….I am not sure from whence it hailed…but I think it’s now being used to marginalize Calvinists in potraying those who hold to reformed theology as peddling some strange and foreign new doctrine. It’s goes hand in hand with the comendering of the idea of baptist (even southern baptist) tradition by non Calvinists as if they have a sole right to it.

      In other words, what I believe is not “new” and it fits well within church tradition as a whole as well as SBC tradition.

      • says

        Tarheel
        This is not our first rodeo as SBs debating Calvinism. It has a long history. For the most part it has been amiable. One of the men whose scholarship I respect most is my brother-in law and he is a Calvinist. I am not. He and I have had many discussions, but still have a strong friendly respectful relationship. I think historically that has been the case in the SBC.

        The “New” Calvinist I believe came on the scene with more aggression and was readily met by “New” Trads with equal aggression and the fire was lit. Now we find ourselves where we are now.

        I believe guys like you and I have been around this a long time with little problem. However the “News” on both sides need to back up a little and ask, “what are we trying to accomplish?” I am not sure the “News” really know.

        Just my opinion

  14. says

    As i re read the OP, i was struck by attacking mode it was written in. That in lacking compassion and being rude, some NC’s are in error is sad, for it is sad that some trads are in error in people skills as well. To attack all because some are wrong is, well… wrong.

    To attack others based on mis-characterizations of doctrine when the truth is, most Trads hold much of the same beliefs, is wrong.
    That some NC’s believe “in a God who drowns us all for the sin He foreordained that we commit and then resuscitates a few of us for His own glory”, does not mean most do. Every NC at my church is involved in missions, including going to Africa and S. America to preach the Gospel, or to help others in our church do that very same thing.

    That people believe they have the truth and want to share it with others, and even debate it should not demonize them, for even Eric Hankins does that. He doesn’t want what he considers NOT the truth becoming the SBC. And he went to a lot of effort in promoting what he believes is the truth. But here he seems to be disdaining those who do the same as he is doing, simply because he doesn’t like what they believe.

    I urge everyone on either side of this debate to treat others like they themselves desire being treated. So even if a poor tactic is used, it does not justify another’s use of it. Turn the cheek and trust in the Lord. especially us Calvinists who believe God is in control, is sovereign, and who never fails.

    peace in Jesus.
    mike

    • Tarheel says

      For those of you who understood the point I was attempting to make, thank you. Parson, thank you for pointing out the attack mode of the OP.

      I was truly just trying to illuminate with absurdity the absurdity I saw in the OP.

      I should have posted an explanation for the rhetoric sooner, perhaps in the same post – but at the same time in order to make the point, I felt it was necessary to let it sit.

      I’ll try to be more thorough in the future. This medium doesn’t always detect sarcasm….had we all been in the same room my sarcasm would have been evident and no one would have thought, I don’t think anyway, that I really think traditionalists are universalists.

      To be clear, again, I DO NOT THINK ERIC HANKINS, nor any other TSer I’ve interacted with on this blog for that matter, IS A UNIVERSALIST.

  15. says

    In discussing that post…

    Eric says, “what ultimately defines a New Calvinist is his commitment to theistic determinism. Not just an emphasis on the Bible, but an emphasis on a deterministic reading of the Bible. Not just an emphasis on the gospel, but a deterministic understanding of the gospel. Not just as an emphasis on the glory of God, but a deterministic understanding of the glory of God.”

    I would propose that hat defines all true Calvinists is what I quoted at 7:47pm. See there.

    Further, I do see what Tarheel was trying to do. But as has been the problem before, Calvinism must be defined correctly if it is to then be evaluated. Eric and others continue to want to demonstrate the entailments or implications of Reformed theology. And mostly they’re not true. I think what Tarheel was trying to show something like that. None of us thinks Eric and others of the Trad persuasion are universalists. But when they talk about a universal atonement, and we know what the atonement does, then we can say that their Trad theology may necessarily entail a position (universalism) that they really don’t hold.

  16. says

    The terms we use Cal, Trad, etc. plus philosophical terms in as much as possible must be dropped. Like buzz words, they will always mean different things to different people. This is a major problem in the discussion of this and other subjects. Descriptive statements will be the only way the discussion can move forward, and even with that it will be difficult.

    In a graduate seminar at Okla. Univ. in Philosophy, the Prof. pointed out how terms have a signifiant difference in that setting than what I experienced in Seminary. At times it was almost like not having studied it at all.

    I am not sure what my point is except to ask “what is our goal in these discussions of Cal and Trad across the convention”? If it is academic, great lets’ have fun. If we are trying to “settle” the issue, it will never happen. If we are trying to bridge a gap, we are widening it.

    Would it help to state clearly what we hope to accomplish by continuing this discussion in the SBC?

  17. Ron F. Hale says

    Les,
    Universal Atonement is technical term and is defined in the book Calvinism: A Southern Baptist Dialogue (edited by E. Ray Clendenen and Brad J. Waggoner) in this manner (p285):

    The belief that Christ bore the wrath of God for all persons indiscriminately. It is held by all evangelicals except for five-point Calvinists. Not only is it thought to make sense of biblical passages like John 3:16 and I John 2:2, but it is also thought to warrant the free offer of the gospel to all persons.

    • John Carpenter says

      “The belief that Christ bore the wrath of God for all persons indiscriminately” is called universalism and is heresy because, if so, then everyone is saved since God has no wrath left for anyone, including unbelievers. If Jesus bore everyone’s punishment, then everyone is saved since God has no punishment left for anyone.

      • volfan007 says

        John,

        The belief that Jesus died for the sins of everyone in the world is not universalism, and it is not heresy. The Bible says that Jesus died for the sins of everyone in the world. And, just because His death is sufficient to cover all the sins of every person, doesn’t mean that they all have to be saved. Why? Because, the Bible tells us that people have to receive this gift of salvation from God.

        David

        • says

          No where does it say receive the gift, it says nothing about accepting Christ. Repent, believe and confess, yes.

          And saying “it’s not universalism” doesn’t make it not universalism. It makes salvation into accepting and sinners are condemned not for sin, but for not accepting.

          • volfan007 says

            Dan,

            Salvation is a gift from God. People receive gifts. One does not earn a gift. One takes the gift that someone offers to them. Thus, salvation is most certainly a gift. And yes, the way we receive God’s gift of salvation is to repent and believe….to surrender to Christ in faith.

            Universalism is the teaching that everyone is saved. I do not believe that. I know of no Traditional, Southern Baptist that does believe in Universalism.

            About sinners…..sinners are condemned for their sins…and, their rejecting, or not accepting, is a sin.

            Are you saying that someone, who believes that the atonement was for the sins of every person in the world is a universalist?

            David

          • Tarheel says

            Volfan, i do not think you’re a universalist or a heretic….I think you preach the gospel of Christ and I’m looking foward to your buying me a cherry coke and Krispy Kreme doughnut ( I like the boston creme ones) at the convention.

            Sincere query …. In order to defend a universal atonement and not be a Universalist don’t you have to argue that the atonement is not sufficient/incomplete because it does not accomplish all that God intended for it to accomplish …. As in if Christs death was to atone for everymans sin – yet somehow it doesn’t work and people end up in hell?

          • volfan007 says

            Christ’s atonement does accomplish what it’s meant to accomplish….to save all the people, who will believe, who will repent and put their faith in Jesus and His atoning death.

            There’s no failure to His death just because a lot of people don’t get saved. The ark of Noah was a huge success, even though most of the people would not listen to Noah’s preaching and repent. The ark still worked….floated…and, the people in the ark were still saved from the flood. It worked just fine.

            David

          • Tarheel says

            “Christ’s atonement does accomplish what it’s meant to accomplish….to save all the people, who will believe, who will repent and put their faith in Jesus and His atoning death.

            There’s no failure to His death just because a lot of people don’t get saved. The ark of Noah was a huge success, even though most of the people would not listen to Noah’s preaching and repent. The ark still worked….floated…and, the people in the ark were still saved from the flood. It worked just fine.”

            I told ya we agree on more than you think.. I agree with what you just posted…in fact I could have posted it myself. ;-)

          • volfan007 says

            Tarheel,

            Yes, we do agree on more than we disagree. And Tarheel, you’re almost there, my friend. You’re very close to the truth!

            :)

            David

          • Tarheel says

            I’m already been set free by the truth I pray that you will one day walk in the truth. ;-)

        • John Carpenter says

          The Bible says that every inclination of people’s hearts are only evil all the time (Gen. 6:5), that the human heart is desperately sick and beyond (natural) cure (Jer. 17:9), that we are slaves of sin (Rom. 6), that natural (unsaved) people cannot accept the things of God (1 Cor. 2:14), that we are “dead in sin” (Eph. 2:1), etc.
          Therefore, every example of someone accepting Christ is an example of God’s sovereign grace giving life to otherwise dead hearts, before they believe (1 John 5:1).

          As for Esau, God says He hates Him (Malachi 1:2, Romans 9:13). It doesn’t say it “looked like” hate (to who?) compared to the way He treated Jacob. God Himself says He hated him.

  18. Rick Patrick says

    “I see dead people.” Priceless! We must continue to explore the nature of God’s love for the reprobate. Is He feeding His attribute of wrath by pouring condemnation upon those powerless to accept Him? Or is He demonstrating His love by “taking away the sins of the world” so that all enjoy the genuine freedom to accept Him and live?

    • John Carpenter says

      People are “dead in sin” (Eph. 2:1) and so are not free to accept Him. That’s why the Bible no where states that people have a will that is free to accept or reject God. It says the opposite.

      Did God love Esau?

      • volfan007 says

        John,

        On the contrary, the Bible is full of people making the decision to follow Christ, or not…..full of examples.

        And yes, God did love Esau. In fact, God chose to bless Esau and his descendants, the Edomites. But, compared to the way He chose to bless Jacob, it looked like He hated Esau. But, He didn’t literally hate Esau. He still loved Esau.

        David

        • says

          “but I have hated Esau, and I have made his mountains a desolation, and appointed his inheritance for the jackals of the wilderness” Malachi 1:3

          The bible is full of people making the decision to follow or not follow Christ, but it’s also clear about God’s stance toward Esau.

          • volfan007 says

            Luke,

            Okay, Esau had many children and grand children, which was seen as a sign of God’s blessings, back in that day. Genesis 36

            Esau was blessed with a lot of livestock….so much so that he had to separate from Jacob….and went to Edom. Genesis 36

            And, the Edomites were blessed by God…..just not nearly as blessed as Jacob and his children.

            Luke, this kind of language is called a degree of comparison…it’s just like when Jesus told people that they couldn’t follow Him, unless they hated their mother and father and brothers and sisters. Do you believe that God wants us to hate our family?

            David

          • John Fariss says

            I think “hate” is being used here in the form of Middle Eastern hyperbole, not in an absolute sense. It merely refers to degree of love, much as the New Testament does. That fact that our 21st Century, western European culture uses the word “hate” in a pejorative and absolutist sense does not mean the people 2000+ years ago in Middle Eastern culture were obligated to do so.

            John

          • Tarheel says

            Sure God blessed Esau….common grace benefits all.

            Special Grace is extended to all those who believe.

          • Adam G. in NC says

            A compromis…if “all” means “all”, then “hate” means “hate”.

      • Les Prouty says

        David,

        “On the contrary, the Bible is full of people making the decision to follow Christ, or not…..full of examples.”

        And Calvinists agree there are such examples. Why? Because we affirm that man must make a choice with his will.

        • Les Prouty says

          Oops David. Didn’t realize it was a private back and forth. Carry on brother.

          • volfan007 says

            Les,

            It’s not that. It’s just that I was just answering John. So, I wasn’t sure why you were telling me that.

            No problem.

            David

          • Les Prouty says

            David, no problem here. The reason I even commented was to point out that Calvinists also believe what you were stating to John. It appeared you were saying that about people choosing Christ as if Calvinists don’t also believe that.

            Blessings brother and fellow MABTS alum.

        • John Carpenter says

          Yes, people make a choice. The only way they can choose for Christ is if Christ first chooses them. “No one comes to the Father . . . ”

          “We love because . . . ” we first choose to? No. Because God first chooses to love us. But He doesn’t choose to love everyone. Some, like Esau, He hates. No matter what you want to do with the word “hate”, it means that He doesn’t love all equally.

  19. says

    Rick, your answer is here:

    “What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction? 23 And He did so to make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory, 24 even us, whom He also called, not from among Jews only, but also from among Gentiles.”

  20. says

    Eric, what qualifies as a “legitimate rationale for taking the gospel to every person?”

    Which Southern Baptist Calvinists who have any scale of influence in SBC life “push determinism hard?” How about even those less influential? Do you have names? Blogs? How about evidence of influence that is reason enough for Traditionalists to “hammer out our specific response to them?”

    NCs are going to have to spell out, in a compellingly coherent manner, how determinism fits with our passion about the fact that anyone can be saved.

    Why do certain Calvinists who hold such a position of determinism owe you an answer? What if most Southern Baptist Calvinist do not think twice about determinism as motivation to share the gospel? Will you stop demanding answers to your made-up questions?

    • Don Johnson says

      There is only one legitimate reason for taking the Gospel to every person. The reason is because the Gospel is for every person. Otherwise it would not have been called the Gospel (good news).

  21. says

    Eric said,
    NCs are going to have to spell out, in a compellingly coherent manner, how determinism fits with our passion about the fact that anyone can be saved. –

    The only ones who can be saved are those God has foreseen being saved. Could be everyone else alive. Could be no more. Prudent guess is somewhere in the middle. Fact is we are not to worry about how many God saves, rather we are to seek to be obedient as the Spirit leads us in proclaiming the Gospel.
    The fact is unless God has foreseen them being saved, they can’t be saved. But that truth shouldn’t stop us from linking arms and hearts and preaching the Gospel to the world.

    • Christiane says

      once again, ‘foresee’ is a term that does not work in eternity, where our concept of time has no meaning

    • Don Johnson says

      Mike,

      It seems we have different ideas as to what the Gospel is. Here’s briefly my definition.

      1. God loves you
      2. You are a sinner
      3. Christ died for your sins
      4. Christ was buried
      5. Christ was raised 3 days later for our justification
      6. Those who believe the above are saved (Mk 16:16)
      7. Those who don’t are damned (Mk 16:16)

      Where do we disagree?

        • Don Johnson says

          Mike,

          I thought you were a 5 pointer. I didn’t think a 5 pt. would tell someone that Christ died for their sins up front, because they don’t really know if He or not.

          • says

            I don’t know a Calvinist who claims to know who is in and who is out. So when the Gospel is proclaimed it’s proclaimed in the manner in which you describe. It’s a person’s ability to respond that is determined in the mysteries of God’s wisdom. I don’t know why that is so hard to understand.

            Haven’t you ever given the perfect explanation of the Gospel to a person and watched them was away? What went wrong? You told them the right things. They understood intellectually what was said to them. They were simply uninterested. Why? Because it takes more than a stunning intellectual display or a perfect presentation to see someone saved. It takes the movement of God in that person to see and understand their condition and what Jesus did for them in response to their sin.

      • Christiane says

        Christ rose from the dead because death did not have the power to hold Him.

        ‘He is Risen’
        Alleluia

        words like ‘justification’ are difficult to comprehend and can confuse,
        but to the people of the first century,
        the words ‘He is Risen’ were received with a sense of wonder and awe at the mighty power of God over the enemy ‘death’.

  22. says

    To whomever might answer,

    I am sincerely attempting to understand Calvinist theology by asking this question. I’ve asked it before, but perhaps not clear enough to get a clear answer. Here’s the question: Do Calvinist generally believe that God assigned people to hell without their will factoring into the equation?
    ParsonMike stated that a certain ilk of Calvinism believe that persons earn their rebellion before the age of accountability, therefore their wills did factor into the equation. But, is that group the norm, or is it generally a belief of Calvinism that God assigns the non elect to hell on the basis of their rejection of Christ, or non acceptance of Christ, or He predestines them to hell without any consideration of the choice that they would make upon hearing the gospel? I really wish that I could get a clear answer to this question. Thanks for whoever will give me a clear, understanble answer to my question. If God allows me to attend the Baltimore gathering, and if you would stomach my presence long enough to eat, I will buy the person a meal if they would please answer this question. To rephrase the question: When God elected the elect, did He do it based on His foreknowledge of the will that they would exercise of given a choice; or was this decision made by God to elect certain without their wills having anything to do with it?

    • says

      Dwight, I will try to succinctly answer.

      You asked, “When God elected the elect, did He do it based on His foreknowledge of the will that they would exercise of given a choice; or was this decision made by God to elect certain without their wills having anything to do with it?”

      No, God’s election and choosing of some out of the whole of humanity deserving of eternal destruction, was not because God looked down thru time to see who would exercise a given choice.

      God’s choosing *some* for eventual and certain salvation out of the whole of humanity (who all deserved eternal destruction) was purely of His special love for the elect and for His maximal glory.

      The last part of your question, “or was this decision made by God to elect certain without their wills having anything to do with it?” is not the correct “or” question. The fact is that those who choose Christ in real time upon hearing the gospel and those who reject it do so using their wills.

      Perhaps a good way to as you say, “understand Calvinist theology,” is to read Reformed documents themselves. In the Baptist tradition the London Baptist Confession 1689 is good as well as Boyce’s theology.

      Blessings brother.

    • Tarheel says

      Here is a great explanation of the doctrine of predestination….

      Ephesians 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 6to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. 7In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, 8which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight 9making knownc to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ 10as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.

      11In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, 12so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. 13In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14who is the guaranteed of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it,e to the praise of his glory.”

    • says

      Dwight,
      Thanks for asking.
      Some C’s believe that men are born condemned. Original sin and federal headship and all that.
      Many believe, as i do, that no one is condemned before their own personal sin at an age where God deems them accountable under the Law.
      Very few of them believe that rejection of the Gospel is what damns them [if any].
      Most of them do not know why God chooses one sinner over another.

      you asked,
      When God elected the elect, did He do it based on His foreknowledge of the will that they would exercise of given a choice; or was this decision made by God to elect certain without their wills having anything to do with it? – See more at: http://sbcvoices.com/a-response-to-dr-nathan-finn-part-4-the-new-calvinists-by-dr-eric-hankins/#comment-238561

      Most Calvinist say that God elects with out any reference to the merit or will of the individual. But many, like myself, says that God condemns based on the free will sin choice. In my case I look at Romans 7:

      What shall we say then? Is the Law sin? May it never be! On the contrary, I would not have come to know sin except through the Law; for I would not have known about coveting if the Law had not said, “You shall not covet.” But sin, taking opportunity through the commandment, produced in me coveting of every kind; for apart from the Law sin is dead. I was once alive apart from the Law; but when the commandment came, sin became alive and I died; and this commandment, which was to result in life, proved to result in death for me; for sin, taking an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me. So then, the Law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.

      That once we were alive [not yet condemned] but when the commandment came [we became accountable] we sinned and were slain [condemned]. The Law though good and for life, resulted in my death because i chose to sin.

      That now as a rebel against God, and a hater of Him and His ways, I need His mercy and grace to be reborn and live again.

      Some C’s see it that way, some don’t.
      Just like some non-C’s see one can lose their salvation and some don’t.
      Its just best never to generalize.

      Good night all,
      mike

  23. says

    Don,
    Where we disagree is that you said the Gospel is for every person and that is the only legitimate reason for us taking it to every person.
    The only legitimate reason is because Jesus told us to go and preach Him to all the world.
    That is what I am doing through my church. What they are doing through our own missionaries and in giving to various SBC missionary endeavors. Whether those who hear, and not all do, see it as good news is not up to us as ministers of the Gospel.

  24. says

    “NCs want to move their deterministic soteriology from the periphery to the center, which means that the idea that anyone can be saved will be replaced with the idea that only some have been meticulously foreordained for salvation while all others are without hope. This has never been at the heart of SBC evangelism and missions, certainly not since the crafting of the first BFM and the formation of the Cooperative Program. We have always resisted this view, and we will continue to resist it. That’s our old problem with New Calvinism.”

    Again definitions are important. “[T]he idea that only some have been meticulously foreordained for salvation while all others are without hope” is not Calvinism. Calvinism affirms that no one is without hope. All one has to do is repent and believe. That all do not is not owing to God but to fallen man.

    There is nothing in the Calvinist compatible deterministic view that is outside the BF&M. So then in that agreement signed by Eric TTT in a Time of Tension when it says re Tension, ” Southern Baptists who stand on either side of these issues should celebrate the freedom to hold their views with passion while granting others the freedom to do the same,” what does that mean really? Words expressed here in this article by Eric seem to not “celebrate the freedom to hold their views with passion while granting others the freedom to do the same.”

    This from TTT, “With a full recognition of the limitless wisdom of God’s Word and the limited wisdom of ourselves, we urge Southern Baptists to grant one another liberty in those areas within The Baptist Faith and Message where differences in interpretation cause us to disagree,” seems to not be reflected in this post. Or maybe I’m just missing something.

  25. Bill Mac says

    If the heart of NC is determinism, what was the heart of Old Calvinism? In the BNC (before new calvinism) era, were Calvinists less deterministic?

    • Tarheel says

      I think they (TSers) seek to distinguish “news” from the “olds” because there is no way to deny a rich Calvinistic history in the SBC, the modern missions movement manifested in numerous heros of the faith from yesteryear so they have to purport that we are following, advocating, and teaching something “new”. IMO, This is a political strategy to marginalize those who hold to a more reformed theology than they do.

      • volfan007 says

        Many of us view the New Calvinists as the militant, aggressive types, who are out to “convert” everyone to Calvinism, and who would say something like: “If you’re not a Calvinist, then you’re not preaching the true Gospel.”

        David

        • Scotty says

          David do you believe that the New Calvinists and the Traditionalists are both preaching the true gospel?

          • volfan007 says

            Scotty,

            Yes. We just differ in the particulars of the Gospel….in the gray areas of the Bible. But yes, I do believe that Calvinists are preaching the true Gospel….as am I.

            David

        • Tarheel says

          David,

          Ok, but do you really believe that most Calvinists are like that?

          Might also be that what you perceive as militant and trying to convert is simply pastors and teachers and theologians who are faithful to what they believe and proclaim it boldly?

          Might you also admit there are some militant anticalvinists who seek to silence, marginalize and essentially (if not literally) kick us to the SBC curb.

          • volfan007 says

            Tarheel,

            Yes, I know of many militant, aggressive, New Calvinists. I have met them face to face. My friends and family have dealt with them, in their Churches. Yes, I have met, and know of, many.

            Also, I know many regular ole, Evangelistic Calvinists….who are my friends, BTW. I respect their ministry, and have them preach in the Churches I’ve pastored.

            David

          • Scotty says

            So do I. Yet, there are many Traditionalists who say that the gospel the Calvinists preach is a perversion of the gospel and presents an unworthy view of God. Let us agree that the main focus ought to be a discussion of issues and not a response of outrage that someone has said something mean about us. Then we can dispense with all the rhetoric about how mean each of us can be.

      • says

        Tarheel,

        I saw this quote this morning by Trevin Wax:

        “The Calvinists are always talking about ministry and mission; the non-Calvinists are always talking about Calvinism.”

        Now I know it’s always not best to say always, but in the post he is talking about general observations. I think he is right. Ironically we Calvinists also end up talking about Calvinism when we respond (me included) to the incessant posts about Calvinism by non Calvinists. :)

        • volfan007 says

          That statement by Trevin Wax was insulting to all of us, who are not Calvinists. And, it’s simply not true. Most of the people that I know, who are talking about Calvinism…including me…are doing so, because we feel like it’s been thrown into our face. And, we’re being portrayed as Semi Pelagian heretics, who aren’t preaching the true Gospel.

          So, I disagree with Trevin Wax….WE would NOT be talking so much about Calvinism, if it weren’t being shoved down the SBC’s throat, and all of us, Non Calvinists, feeling like we’re being put down and set aside, because we’re not Calvinist.

          David

          • Trevin Wax says

            David and Les,

            To clarify, that quote from my blog is a summary of multiple conversations with Traditionalist pastors who were giving their perception of online conversations and blogs. It was not in reference to Calvinists or non-Calvinists offline. I included it to show, perhaps one reason why younger Southern Baptists who are non-Reformed are less likely to engage in the Calvinism controversy: they find the Calvinist blogs and websites pastorally helpful.

            If we were to move to offline conversations, I think that quote falls apart quickly. I’ve met plenty of Calvinists who want to talk about Calvinism all the time and convince everyone of their position.

            Just clarifying the context of that quote…

          • volfan007 says

            Trevin,

            Thanks for the clarification. It really looked to me….from your article….that Calvinists were more interested in ministry and missions than Non Calvinsts.

            That kind of idea was insulting and mystifying, and I don’t see that as the truth, at all.

            I appreciate your clarification.

            David

        • says

          Thanks Trevin. I assumed you were talking about online conversations. Hence my comment about our responding to “posts” about Calvinism. Thanks again brother.

          Les

          • Trevin Wax says

            David, I agree with you. Thankfully, Calvinists and nonCalvinists are all committed to ministry and missions. I was exploring why nonCalvinist young pastors frequent Calvinist blogs and websites, and that’s the context for the quote. I went back and added a note to the post to make sure people don’t take that quote out of context.

  26. Bill Mac says

    I don’t think it will work, but I think we (Calvinists) should consider no longer responding to things like this. We simply aren’t going to gain acceptance by talking this through. If you think we are being wronged, perhaps it is better to take Paul’s advice and just accept it. Every article in this series (and indeed every Calvinism related article ever published here) has a huge comment stream and no movement. Non-cals are just as suspicious of Cals as they have ever been. Maybe it’s time we just let it go.

    • says

      Bill Max, you may be right. It is difficult though to constantly have the Calvinist view misrepresented and not to at least attempt to correct the misrepresentations. But it should be done, if at all, in a kind way. At least here there is wide latitude to make those corrections, if done in a kind way, without getting banned.

      • Tarheel says

        Bawahaha….and in your apology for typing “Bill Max” you typed “Mill Mac”…..

        :-).

        I hope the grammar snobs/nazis are taking the morning off, my friend.

    • Tarheel says

      I understand your point, BillMac. Little to no (much closer to no) movement is made. You’ve certainly made a point with considering.

      But, I also think Les is making an important point….distortions and in some cases intentional deceptions and efforts of marginilization are hard to ignore.

      I admit, I’m just not sure how to balance it.

    • Dale Pugh says

      And Cals are just as dismissive of non-Cals as they ever have been. And you are correct, there has been no movement. I guess we’re just predestined to disagree.

      • Tarheel says

        That….Or I’m using my free will to actually believe the bible. ;-)

        (that was posted with my tongue firmly planted in my cheek, much like I assume your little quip was.). :-)

    • says

      That us why, Bill, I seldom engage in these.

      If you watch these, there is a small group of commenters who have an insatiable desire for unproductive discussions of Calvinism – both pro and con.

      • Tarheel says

        Ok….I’ll go first.

        If the anti/non cals stop posting provocative OP’s …. I promise to stop arguing against the posts in the comments.

        I further will stop posting about Calvinism altogether if the anti/non cals stop posting comments and OPs concerning the issue.

        • Bill Mac says

          Tarheel,
          I used to think the same. But honestly, it is fruitless. I have come to think that if Calvinists simply stop defending themselves incessantly, we will all be better off. Nothing new is ever said in these conversations. The same back and forth, the same misunderstandings, the same strawmen (from both sides). It never ends, it never gets resolved, it never moves forward. Never. I frankly don’t think we are capable of discussing this to any perceivable benefit.

          • Dave Miller says

            Of course, I tend to agree Bill.

            I’ve seen productive POSTS. But I’ve yet to see a productive discussion.

  27. William Thornton says

    You guys make the mistake of presuming that the universe of all who read these pieces and who might be influenced are the handful of regular commentators.

    It is odd that Calvinists are considering leaving the field that for so long was dominated by our Calvinist friends.

  28. Chuck Quarles says

    Eric,
    In your earlier response to Nathan Finn, you attempted to remove any suspicion regarding intentions behind the Traditional Statement by asserting that “no attempt has been made at any level (not even at the local church level as far as I know) to adopt the statement formally.” I posed several questions to you in a previous comment under your third guest post, but have not yet received a response.
    I regret the need to press you on this issue, especially in a public forum. However, I believe that your statement is demonstrably inaccurate. Not only was an effort made to impose the Traditional Statement at Louisiana College, four men and their families were casualties of this effort.
    I ask that you please consider these requests. Please either
    1. Retract your statement.
    2. Clarify or qualify your statement.
    3. Suggest a fair and unbiased forum in which others and I may present evidence of the effort to impose the Traditional Statement on the Christian Studies Division and Caskey School of Divinity of Louisiana College.
    Thank you for considering these requests. I hope that you will grant me the courtesy of a reply.
    Sincerely,
    Chuck Quarles

    • says

      Dr. Quarles

      Aside from Louisiana College do you know of places where this has been done. I ask because, as concerning as the situation is for Louisiana Baptist, that is a Louisiana issue. I am quite content to let the folks there handle it. I am concern about the broader scope and how it might affect me in Montana.

      Blessings my brother

      • Chuck Quarles says

        D. L.,

        I do not have direct information about similar efforts at other institutions or agencies, so I must refrain from addressing that. I hope and pray that the terribly unhealthy dynamics that led to the events at Louisiana College are unique to Louisiana. Some of these dynamics are contrary to historic Baptist principles (and I have in mind at the moment issues of polity, not soteriology) and I tend to doubt that the effort could be replicated in other states. However, I am still a bit shocked by the outcome in Louisiana. I did not expect what occurred there either, so I do not feel qualified to prognosticate about what might happen elsewhere. One of the reasons that I feel compelled to speak up is that I do not want what happened at LC to occur in other institutions or agencies. I am grieved by the loss of some very gifted and godly men to our Southern Baptist causes. I am a Southern Baptist by both heritage and conviction. I was proud to serve alongside my younger colleagues and had great hope for our state convention with men like those in positions of influence for the next generation. I am alarmed by the desire of some to exclude brothers from our ranks even though they affirmed every jot and tittle of the BFM and were champions for that confession in the classroom. I do not understand why some seem more intent on burning bridges than building them. In my old August 2011 article from the Baptist Message, “Baptists Must Choose Their Battles Wisely,” I warned of the costs of battling over the wrong issues. Some chose the wrong battle and the cost for Louisiana Baptists has already been catastrophic. I think that the ultimate cost for Louisiana Baptists will be greater still.

        Forgive me for signing off. I will probably not post here again until I receive a reply from Eric.

        Thanks brother,

        Chuck

        • says

          Dr. Quarles
          Thank you for your response. I know only what other people know about the situation at LU. This is indeed sad and from what little I know should not have happened. I truly grieve for the Professors and families as well as the College because of these events.

          Please know, that i will put you and the school on my “Seven day prayer list”. I know you are busy and I want to respect your time, hence you need not respond beyond what you have said. For that response again I say ‘thank You”.

          Blessings my brother

          • volfan007 says

            Chuck Quarles,

            I’m pretty sure that I went to Mid America Bapt. Seminary with you. Did you attend Mid America in the 1980’s?

            David

  29. Scotty says

    I would like to respond to Dwight McKissac’s question. The Calvinists with which I am familiar would argue that people are condemned to hell because they will not repent and believe. They would also argue that no one will be saved unless they repent and believe. That is what the Bible says. Scripture also says that our sinful nature is expressed in our non repenting and non believing because that is what we choose. The difference in our views is in understanding why someone chooses against their nature and against the preference of their mind and heart? The Calvinist says it is because of God’s mercy in changing their heart. The non-calvinist argues that without any help from God different than His help for all people “they just do.” There are many parts to this kind of discussion, most of which, including arguments raised against the Calvinist view are found in Romans 9:8-24. This includes the question of whether it is just for God to judge someone for sin when they are doing what God purposed for them to do. The answer of the text is not “NO!” I am continually amazed that the vast majority of this discussion is based on logic, philosophical disagreement, etc and not the actual Scriptures which deal with it. Those who dismiss this because “it is national and not personal” ignore the actual persons being discussed including those persons among the Jews who do not believe which is the cause of the discussion.

    • Eric Hankins says

      Scotty,

      It is incorrect to say that “the non-calvinist argues that without any help from God different than His help for all people ‘they just do.'” That’s semi-Pelagian and Finn himself has argued that such a charge is not applicable to Traditionalists. Our view is that the Spirit working through the preaching of gospel is absolutely necessary for salvation. The question is whether or not one is making a libertarian response or a compatibilistic response. I am prepared to defend the implications of saying that we have libertarian freedom to respond. I am asking that Calvinists do the same. When you say that our response to the gospel is determined by another agent besides the one repenting, there are serious implications.

      • Scotty says

        Eric, I specifically did not say there was no help given by God, but that it is given only in a general rather than a specific way. In what way, in your view, is “the working of the Spirit through the preaching of the gospel absolutely necessary” in a specific way for one person? Do you believe that God gives spiritual help to one person that He does not give to all? If you don’t, then how have I misrepresented your position? And if you don’t then what explanation would you give for why one repents and believes and another does not other than “they just do”?

        I am perfectly prepared to say there is another agent besides the one doing the repenting and that agent is God. I rejoice in the fact that God is the agent whose working effects my response to the gospel. I can say without reserve that I have nothing other than what I have received, that if it were not for the actual working of the Holy Spirit I would be lost.

        I would further ask you, If the working of the Spirit through the preaching of the gospel is absolutely necessary for salvation, is that not asserting another agent whose absence would determine that you would not repent and believe? What, in your view, does the Spirit’s working actually do? Is His work in a believer any different than His work in one who does not believe? And if it is not, then how is there any actual work done? Do you think that asserting a necessary working of the Holy Spirit without asserting that work as another agent in the actual working of repentance and faith has serious implications?

        • volfan007 says

          Scotty,

          We believe that the Holy Spirit is calling and convicting people thru the amount of light that they have(creation, conscience, Gospel).

          Also, we believe that men really do have to make a choice in salvation….to respond or not respond to the light and conviction of the Holy Spirit. And, it’s a real choice. Whereas, a lot of Calvinists believe that a person is regenerated before they get saved. Thus, they have to be saved in order to get saved. Brother, irresistible grace would do away with whether people really have a choice in salvation, or not. Because, according to Calvinists, the only way a person can make the choice to be saved, is if God irresistibly calls the person. And, God has to regenerate the person before they can repent and put their faith in Jesus.

          We believe that people….all people….really do have to make a real choice.

          David

          • says

            Volfan,

            No greater truths have ever been spoken. I got my laugh for today when you said Calvinist believe that you have to be saved in order to be saved. The whole “choice” matter or lack thereof–iresistable grace and limited atonement are two facets of Calvinism that I find most unbiblical and unpalatable to a Baptist tongue.

            Question: Where were the Calvinist in the SBC prior to the launching of the CR in ’79. I don’t recall this being an issue back then. This must have been an issue simmering all along, but what factors are now driving it to the forefront?

          • volfan007 says

            Dwight,

            There were many people in the SBC, who were Calvinists, before the CR. They were evangelistic, and didn’t wear Calvinism on their sleeves. They weren’t out there trying to convert everyone to Calvinism. Really, the group that was trying to convert the SBC was very small. The Founders organization was the only one that I knew of that was aggressively trying to take over the SBC.

            David

          • Scotty says

            Okay. I believe people have to repent and believe as surely as do you. I believe that a person must make a conscious choice in that and that God demands such a choice and He does not repent and believe for them. I believe all people have to make a real choice and that they actually do make such a choice. I believe that choice is described in the Bible – “there is none who seeks after God” and “we have turned every one to his own way.”

            I will ask you, Does the Holy Spirit call and convict people (through whatever light they have) in such a way that He is the difference maker? The constant assertion of ideas ascribed to Calvinists or inferences drawn from those assertions are a never ending distraction. Does the work of the Holy Spirit actually make the difference in a person’s response to the gospel or not? If not then how is the working effective? What does it actually do? I would say that He opens the ears of the spiritually deaf and the eyes of the spiritually blind they repent and believe. What would you say?

          • volfan007 says

            SCotty,

            Yes, it’s the working of the Holy Spirit on the heart that brings a lost man to repentance and salvation. But, it’s also very true that the person has to make a choice….to respond, or not to respond….to the working of the Spirit. I don’t believe that God irresistibly overwhelms a person to make the choice to be saved, in some arbitrary fashion…..while, some ole boy, who lives next door, is just living in a sinful condition, and never really and truly has any opportunity…not a real chance….of being saved, because God arbitrarily chose to NOT irresistibly call him.

            The Gospel is not Good News for that ole boy. There’s no hope for that ole boy. Not really.

            David

          • says

            Volfan007
            Thank you for the statement May 6, @11:46. This is so very true. I was/am surrounded by Calvinists. The people I love most on this earth are Calvinists. I am not. We have always had Cals in the convention. While there has been discussion we were able to work side by side pre-CR.

            I know the mechanics of why that has changed. However, I do not understand the mind-set that brought about those mechanics.

            Any help to the question, “why is it seen as necessary to tighten the belief lines on this subject except the same old “they are trying to kick us out/they are trying to take over argument”?

          • says

            Scotty,

            You asked, “Does the work of the Holy Spirit actually make the difference in a person’s response to the gospel or not?”

            Brother that is the yet unanswered question by Tradistic brothers. David did not answer it and neither has anyone else.

            I think I know why. For Tradistic brothers the answer has to be the human will is the difference maker. The human will is the final difference maker.

  30. says

    Dr. Eric Hankins,

    Thanks for another masterful explanation of the issues and defending what Traditionalists (aka non-Calvinists; Moderate Calvinists) believe.

    Notable quotes by Hankins:

    “What ultimately defines a New Calvinist is his commitment to theistic determinism. Not just an emphasis on the Bible, but an emphasis on a deterministic reading of the Bible. Not just an emphasis on the gospel, but a deterministic understanding of the gospel. Not just as an emphasis on the glory of God, but a deterministic understanding of the glory of God.”

    “In the past, most SBs were willing to live with these “adjustments” because Calvinists didn’t push determinism hard and so we weren’t highly motivated to hammer out our specific response to them. But that’s changed. NCs are actively promoting this approach to theology, and Traditionalists are no longer going to give them free passes on its problematic affirmations and implications. NCs are going to have to spell out, in a compellingly coherent manner, how determinism fits with our passion about the fact that anyone can be saved. So far, no such articulation has been provided.”

    “NCs want to move their deterministic soteriology from the periphery to the center, which means that the idea that anyone can be saved will be replaced with the idea that only some have been meticulously foreordained for salvation while all others are without hope.” -Dr. Eric Hankins

    David R. Brumbelow

    • Tarheel says

      Yes, it was quite masterful.

      Well, at least we can agree the OP was masterful….but mastering of what is where we disagree.

  31. Andy says

    A few thoughts:

    1. If the problem is that the New Calvinists are promoting their beliefs more than in the past, is Eric telling them in essence to “believe whatever you want in private, but don’t talk about it?” While he and the traditionalists can and should promote their beliefs?

    2. Must all non-traditionalists be calvinists? Is there a place for those who, after examining the 3 primary views on Election (Individual Unconditional Election to Salvation, Election conditioned on foreseen faith, and Corporate Election) believe that Unconditional election to salvation makes the most biblical sense…without knowing how exactly it all works out? Without denying man’s real choice to receive or reject God?

    3. Can we not all admit that we are discussing the inner decisions, from eternity past til now, of an infinitely wise God, and that no one knows exactly how those things work? …and as such may work together viewing each other as brothers and partners, provided the Calvinist acknowledges the privilege and responsibility to take the gospel to all peoples (as most do), and provided the non-Calvinist acknowledges that no man can save himself apart from God’s spirit (as most do)?

    • Eric Hankins says

      Andy,

      Good questions.

      1. I am calling on Calvinists either to offer a coherent explanation of how compatibilism fits with the Southern Baptist emphasis on the belief that anyone can be saved or to stop talking about how compellingly coherent it is (as Piper does above) or to concede that they don’t really believe that anyone can saved.

      2. I think there is room for flexibility. I am just trying make clear the implications of one’s affirmations. If you are saying that you want to affirm Unconditional Election in the Calvinist (compatibilistic) sense and “man’s real choice to receive or reject God” in the libertarian sense, I am saying that doesn’t work, and all Calvinists would agree with me. You’re either a compatibilist or a libertarian. If you are a compatibilist, you have to own all the implications of the view, including the difficulties it creates for a coherent affirmation that anyone can be saved.

      3. You’re describing how things used to be. I’d encourage you to read Piper’s comments to which I refer because they characterize the change in tone over the last several years. I believe that Calvinists want to take the gospel to all peoples, but I don’t think they have a coherent reason for doing so. If they just want to say it’s a mystery (and by that they mean logically contradictory), then they need to stop talking about how superiorly coherent it is.

      • says

        Eric,

        How about answers to your questions in light of the Baptist Faith and Message 2000?

        Seems you want answers from your perspective while asking for them from a Calvinist perspective. But maybe I’m wrong. If you could answer the following question, maybe we could better grasp what you are looking for.

        Eric, what kind of explanation would you accept as coherent of outside of the Traditionalist position of “how compatibilism fits with the Southern Baptist emphasis on the belief that anyone can be saved?”

      • says

        One more question, Eric.

        Why didn’t you challenge Mohler face-to-face when they were talking about these issues recently at SBTS?

        By the time you and Mohler sat and talked theology the Traditional statement had all ready been out for a time. Mohler is one of the most prominent Calvinist voices in the SBC, he was on the Calvinism committee, and a drafter of the current BFM. What a great opportunity to share your concerns with him.

    • says

      Eric, I have a question re your #1. You say that you are calling on “Calvinists either to offer a coherent explanation of how compatibilism fits with the Southern Baptist emphasis on the belief that anyone can be saved or to stop talking about how compellingly coherent it is (as Piper does above) or to concede that they don’t really believe that anyone can saved.”

      Webster defines coherent as: “logical and well-organized : easy to understand: able to talk or express yourself in a clear way that can be easily understood”

      Which part of that definition are you referring to? “logical and well-organized?” “easy to understand?” “able to talk or express yourself in a clear way that can be easily understood?”

      The reason I ask is no one would argue that Calvinists’ have a disorganized theological construct, right? :) So really is what you are asking is, is compatibilism logical? Or are you asking for Calvinists to offer an easily understood position on compatibilism?

      Thanks brother in advance for your response.

      Les

    • says

      Also Eric, I’m aware that Piper used the word coherent in the link you provided. He used it in the context of describing all of the doctrines of grace, not with reference to any one part of the doctrines of grace.

      Thanks brother.

  32. Troy M Long says

    I was young … Now I am old. I read The Institutes (Vol 1 & 2) translated from German (early sixties). Have read some on John Knox. Not sure how much I understand.

    I have grand son, age 2. If he dies … Where does he spend eternity? I had another grand son who died at birth? Same question?

    I have never believed in “C”. I believe they are both in the loving arms of the Master.

    Troy

    • says

      Troy,
      Regretfully some C’s and even some non-C’s believe children are condemned from conception.
      But many C’s believe, and the BFM affirms that those who die young are not condemned.
      Al Mohler believes that all those who die young are saved by the grace of God in sort of a special dispensation so that without faith they are covered by the blood of Jesus.
      My belief is similar in that I believe in an age of accountability where as God does not hold anyone liable for their sins until they are mature enough to to be accountable before the wise and merciful Judge. Like Mohler, I am a 5 point Calvinists.
      I am sorry to hear of your loss. Please find consolation in 2nd Samuel 12:

      Then the Lord struck the child that Uriah’s widow bore to David, so that he was very sick. David therefore inquired of God for the child; and David fasted and went and lay all night on the ground. The elders of his household stood beside him in order to raise him up from the ground, but he was unwilling and would not eat food with them. Then it happened on the seventh day that the child died. And the servants of David were afraid to tell him that the child was dead, for they said, “Behold, while the child was still alive, we spoke to him and he did not listen to our voice. How then can we tell him that the child is dead, since he might do himself harm!” But when David saw that his servants were whispering together, David perceived that the child was dead; so David said to his servants, “Is the child dead?” And they said, “He is dead.” So David arose from the ground, washed, anointed himself, and changed his clothes; and he came into the house of the Lord and worshiped. Then he came to his own house, and when he requested, they set food before him and he ate.

      Then his servants said to him, “What is this thing that you have done? While the child was alive, you fasted and wept; but when the child died, you arose and ate food.” He said, “While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept; for I said, ‘Who knows, the Lord may be gracious to me, that the child may live.’ But now he has died; why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him, but he will not return to me.”

      David in looking toward the resurrection said, “Can I bring him back again? I will go to him, but he will not return to me.”
      Someday my brother, you too will go to and see your grandson.

      May His peace fill your heart,
      mike

  33. Andy says

    Anecdotal demonstration of my last comment:

    My current church is within the geographic area of SBTS. We have 4 Somewhat Calvinistic pastors (some more than others). We have a wide range of views on all 5 points among our church leadership, deacons, and membership. We have some members, and even one or two deacons who believe one can lose their salvation (one of these also seems to believe in unconditional election…go figure). One of our more vocal non-calvinist members will often joke with the Senior Pastor about calvinism and egg him on…but they are good friends and go on missions trips together. We had a series of Sunday School classes on Soteriology in which we had good open discussions about Election, depravity, Eternal security, and atonement. As far as I know, no enemies were made during those discussions.

    • Tarheel says

      Andy,

      DL and I (maybe you too??) were having a discussion recently on another comment thread about that very thing that these issues should be dealt with at the local church level. It’s there that real friendships relationships and godly mentoring can take place.

      No matter how much some like to pretend that’s impossible on blogs even if you know the posters real name…. Only when it’s real relationships and not Internet relationships can real and constructive discourse take place.

      All the solutions being offered by the traditionalist including quotas and litmus tests on the national/state entity level etc. will never work.

      • says

        Tarheel

        Amen! Re. quotas etc. you are spot on, not only will they not work, there is no mechanical way to put it into place. Keep in mind I am not a Calvinist, but the Trads are going to have to be more serious than this if we are going to work this out.

        On the subject of working it out, I have a deep feeling that this whole situation is going to turn out bad. I am the eternal optimist but just saying…

    • volfan007 says

      Andy,

      That’s the way it used to be in the SBC. But, whenever leaders and popular speakers start making statements to the effect of not being a Calvinist means that you’re not preaching the true Gospel; and, not being a Calvinist or Arminian means that you’re a Semi Pelagian(heretic); and where some New Calvinsts going into some Churches that aren’t Calviinist with the intent of changing them; and some other things taking place; then, it makes for division and strife.

      I pray that we can all just along with mutual respect and Christian love and forgiveness. I pray that we can see a day in the SBC where people aren’t trying to “convert” the SBC to something, or trying to “push out” and marginalize and ostracize people, who aren’t “like them.”

      David

      • Tarheel says

        Which of our SBC leaders has said “if you’re not Calvinist you’re not preaching the true gospel?”

        Not being a jerk, but include video or transcript please….because I’d like to address them personally if they are saying such ridiculousness.

        I got to say I ask this because I read a lot of our Calvinistic leaders I’ve been to conferences and I’ve never heard or read such statement. If I’ve missed it I’d like to know when that was said and who said it.

        • Andy says

          Spurgeon, for one, said “Calvinism is the Gospel.” I head it repeated during my time at SBTS…I’ve also seen it on other discussion forums…not necessarily by SBCers, but it is out there nonetheless, and is simply not a helpful thing to say.

          Other things I’ve heard “Said at Southern” (did you see what I did there? :-):
          -“Paul was a calvinist”
          -“Jesus was a calvinist”
          -“I just don’t see how any intelligent person could have any other view” (paraphrase).

          • Tarheel says

            Andy,

            Spurgeon was not Southern Baptist.

            As for the comments made a Southern….Were these phrases uttered by students or by faculty? I as because I see a great difference between the two.

            My views have evolved (and believe it or not softened) since I was in school. i think that the normal course of the way it works…Typically, I think people do not hold to the “isms” later in ministry as firmly and harshly as they did when they were 20…

            I agree that in as much as it is said it is not helpful (I will add that Volfan and others have levied that accusation before – but never proved it.) …I think it is ridiculous to say that if you don’t ascribe to my view of orthodoxy you are not preaching the gospel. That is just as stupid as people saying the KJV is the only translation or that Jesus and John the Baptizer were Baptists.

            The gospel itself is the power of God unto salvation. Seriously saying that someone is not preaching the gospel is ridiculous, if of course they are preaching the gospel.

            From what I have seen on this blog almost all of us agree on what the gospel is.

            I would not say that TSers do not preach the true gospel and I have never heard or read any SBC leader say that either.

          • Andy says

            I know Spurgeon was not SBC, the point is many SBCers have repeated his folly.

            Statements were a mix of students and guest speakers (a semi-well-known speaker, I might add).

          • Tarheel says

            Also, if it is not SBCers (well, except students) saying these things then why all the angst toward SBC Calvinists?

            OK, Volfan is not offering proof to the accusation he levied….but you are mentioning some things…so I ask this;

            Are we wedded to whatever stupid thing Mark Driscoll might say or do next?

            Are we so mindless that we eat whatever Piper serves us without thought??

            Do we not think for ourselves? Is there a thought that we embrace everything Keller, Sproul or Carson might say?

            For people who argue against people being “puppets” or “robots” the Traditionalists seem to think Calvinists are such…

            LOL…as to the students bumping their gums….I just remembered something an older pastor told me not too long ago….we were talking about a couple of churches in the area who had hired young (BTW both were NON REFORMED) pastors but they freaked out the people so bad with their excitement that they got run off….

            he said “we should go to the seminaries and put all graduates in a cage for at least 2 years until the calm down a little before allowing them to pastor a church.”

          • Andy says

            To tarheel’s questions: No, no, yes, & yes I’m sure there are some who think that.

      • Andy says

        Curious…If, after a frank discussion of his views of Election, eschatology, social engagement, etc… a Calvinistic pastor honestly told a prospective search committee, “While I hold these particular views, and of course I believe them to be correct and hope some others will see what I see, these are not hills for me to die on, or views the entire church has to adopt or agree with.” …Would such a man still be accusable of “trying to change the church?”

        I only ask this because every prospective pastor has areas in which he probably disagrees with the church’s former teaching, some areas bigger than others….and may even hope to bring the church along to what he sees as the correct view. As long as he does not make that the central goal of his ministry (as I realize some do), this seems to be a given.

        • Tarheel says

          agreed….

          So long as it is not the primary or central focus – it is a given.

          It is all but certain there will be theological and pragmatic differences with a new pastors and their congregations.

          Several years agon, I think it has somewhat died down now, I rememeber reading and hearing about pastors “tearing up churches over music” because he and others in the church favored a style that others did not like….or “tearing up churches over ___________”

          The idea of tearing up churches is very subjective and is often in the “eye” of the teller of the break up….as a member and get one reason…ask another member and get another one….then ask the former pastor and get a third one…ya know?

          As I said numerous times when this topic comes up – total honesty and open disclosure of ones theological framework is not only the right thing to do…it is the godly thing to do. Anyone who goes into a church, no matter his soteriological stripe, and deceitfully or with an agenda (or to use your term with a central focus”) in mind to bring havoc is wrong. Period.

          *unless we are talking about a non negotiable tenant of the faith (deity and exclusivity of Christ, Trinity, inerrant of Scripture, etc.) – then I think it may be OK to cause a little trouble, if necessary, if ya know what I mean.*

  34. says

    So out of question, how many of your churches, associations, and/or state conventions have had real dialogue about this? It should be worked out on a local level, but is that being tried?

    My association has not, nor has my state, to my knowledge. They acknowledged the statement of understanding at the last convention, but nothing beyond a word in the state paper about it.

    Anyone have experience with this being worked out somewhere besides blogs?

    • says

      Luke
      The reason many associations and i assume states, tho I have no direct knowledge, have not dealt with this is because it is not a real problem for them. In my association (I am the DOM) we have both Cals and Trads, but there is no dissent over the issue. It is my sincere belief that there are some aggressive vocal Cals and some aggressive vocal Trads who talk much about it. However most pastors and churches want to accept the differences and work together.

      The real issue seems to be at the appointment level i.e. who will get what job or what school will hire whatever etc. I maintain that most SB pastors really do not care about that because they feel far removed from it and not involved unless they are on a board. Most SB pastors do not care if the new hire of an entity is Cal or Trad.

      I am not saying this is good ,but it is, I think reality. In short is it being handled…no. Why not…not a problem

  35. Scotty says

    David, all you did was assert what I said that I believed as if it was something in opposition. You then inserted a lot of other ideas that you believe suggest a rebuttal. You believe in the working of the Holy Spirit — what is it? What does that working actually work to accomplish?

    Inferences drawn and supposed implications thrown out again and nothing actually responded to. More comments from othes with “he said/he said” and “I am offended.” None of that means anything at all. I am done with this, too many comments to keep up with and I have things to do – things that I hope to actually accomplish or my wife is going to say that I actually did not do anything at all besides say that there was necessary work to be done.

    Out of here.

  36. Clay says

    Hey, I understand we all have different opinions, but let’s get along and love one another.

    We can argue over who is right and who is wrong, but the bottom line still remains the same, God’s grace, will be only found through Jesus Christ.
    (Ephesians 2:8-9). Arguments and/or discussions like these, waist the time of a Christian, in my view. We fight over what, Jesus Christ being who He said He was? If lost people looked over these discussions, do you think they want to be a Christian? (Read over the discussions)

    In all of this, one question still remains (found in God’s word), do you Galatians 1:10?

    Through all these discussions, I rarely saw scripture presented. I saw more of man’s thoughts than Jesus’ thoughts.

    If you need something to talk about, try figuring out what we need to do to strengthen our Cooperative Program.

    • Andy says

      “If you need something to talk about, try figuring out what we need to do to strengthen our Cooperative Program.”

      We tried that one already…I think we decided it can’t be strengthened. :-)

  37. dr. james willingham says

    I went back and read and took notes on Piper’s The Justification of God, 2nd end, that is, with references to verses 9:22, 23. It was interesting to recall my assessment from having read his work several years ago. His problem is with the voice. The vessels prepared for honor is set forth in the active voice in the Greek, while the vessels unto dishonor are “fitted” by the use of the passive voice. The problem that seems to have bothered Piper, though he seems to give short-shrift to it, is the fact that the middle and the passive voices are one and the same, and he still devotes more attention to that issue indirectly than to any other view. It is when we go back in history and take a look at how others have explained the matter that we find that permission is a term used which, in spite of John Calvin’s denying that it should be used and yet as even Dr. Mohler cited in the Q & A session with Dr. Hankins that Calvin used permission in comforting a female member of his congregation (Dr. Mohler’s inimitable humor on the subject, juxtaposing Calvin’s denial and usage brought down the house; it really was hilarious), the permission whether passive or middle voice in this case tells us that the issue of Predestination is asymmetrical. That is: it can’t be reconciled in this life; it can be made logically consistent as Gordon Clark and others have argued. Jerome Zanchius as well as others have allowed for the use of permission, and we find even James Petigru Boyce using the term in his Abstract of Systematic Theology. Dr. John Gill who was the strong Calvinist of the 18th century and who won souls with his heavy sermons (believe it or not) wrote that God decreed to damn no man but for sin, nor did he decree to damn any but for sin. That puts the asymmetrical nature of the doctrine in a nutshell. In addition, I would point out that Clark and Calvin were making use of Aristotelian logic which demands logical consistency, and we all know how that ran aground on the experimental stage of scientific development. We also really need to be aware of the fact that most of our Puritans were influenced not by the logic of Aristotle. No, the single most important figure in the logical thinking and system of the Puritans was a fellow named Peter Ramus whose Ramist logic dominated the Calvinistic theology for over a hundred years or, from about 1560-1660 (and even longer, reaching into the 18th century).

    Ideologically, the asymmetrical or the apparent contradiction (which was never meant to be reconciled as it serves another purpose) or what we call paradoxical involves other aims of the Divine nature. Take the pole of Divine Sovereignty and Human responsibility, and you will find both poles are designed to create a necessary and welcome tension in the human mind, enabling the thinker to respond appropriately to the situation as it develops (clearly Divine Sovereignty must be used to meet some situations while human responsibility serves to meet others). To put it in other terms, the tension between the two poles in the mind of the believer enables him or her to be balanced, flexible, creative, constant, andmagnetic, all aspects of conduct reflected by the Baptists in the period from approximately 1740-1820, the time of the First and Second Great Awakenings and the launching of the Modern Missionary Movement. Add to that the beginning of the greatest nation the world has ever seen, one with more freedoms than anyone had dreamed hitherto.

    Now we are in need of a Third Great Awakening, and we need a recapturing of the ideological understanding and application of biblical truths. Here we are on the verge of going to the stars, and we are in desperate need of such a visitation. This ideological thing is scriptural, intellectual, analytical, and synthetical, the latter being one of the most needed approaches to dealing with such difficulties. Consider how George W. Truett said that Calvinism pressed down on the brow of man the crowns of responsibility. I would also reverse the idea and point out that human responsibility recognizes the crown of Divine Sovereignty as belonging to our Lord alone. There is the possibility of awakening a thousand generations, reaching every soul on earth and extending to the inhabitants of quadrillions of planets in the next 20,000-900,000 years, if we but consider the seed that cannot be numbered like the stars of heaven and the sand by the sea shore. And God does not waste words, II Chron.16:15, the word which He commanded to a thousand generations.

  38. dr. james willingham says

    note predestination cannot be made logically consistent as Clark and Calvin argued.

  39. Dave Miller says

    These discussions reach a point pretty quick where any possible value is outweighed by the circles the discussion goes in.

    Thank you, Dr. Hankins, for your series of posts. They have certainly been interesting and discussion-provoking. But, it’s probably time to move on for now.

Trackbacks

  1. […] One of the blessings of social media is the freedom to insert oneself into a discussion between two others, even without an invitation. Dr. Eric Hankins recently wrote a series of four articles published here in response to an article by Dr. Nathan Finn that appeared in the NOBTS “Journal for  Baptist Theology and Ministry” (Volume 10, Number 1). For the most part, I stay out of discussions of Calvinism-related topics because I’ve not seen them to be highly productive. And, again, neither party has asked me to weigh in. But I wish to respond to Dr. Hankins’ fourth post. […]