Are Liberian and Mexican Souls Less Valuable Than American Souls?

In the August 6 edition of the Southern Baptists of Texas’ Digital Texan, an article named “52,000 Immigrant Children and the Call to Love Outsiders” appeared (originally published on erlc.com), coauthored by Criswell College’s Barry Creamer and Brandon Smith. The article encouraged Christians to sensitively consider that the border crisis is more of a people crisis than a political one. It was a well-thought out article that posed and answered important questions concerning the situation.

On the same day, Ann Coulter published a blog on her own website called, “Ebola Doc’s Condition Downgraded to ‘Idiotic,‘” in which she argues that Dr. Kent Brantly, the man whom contracted Ebola, was “idiotic” for traveling to Africa for a mission trip. Coulter’s main contention is that Brantly lived next to Zavala Country, one of the poorest counties in the nation, and there was thus no good reason to travel to a poor country in Africa. According to Coulter, “serving the needy in some deadbeat town in Texas wouldn’t have been ‘heroic.’ We wouldn’t hear all the superlatives about Dr. Brantly’s ‘unusual drive to help the less fortunate’ or his membership in the ‘Gold Humanism Honor Society.’ Leaving his family behind in Texas to help the poor 6,000 miles away — that’s the ticket.”

Coulter says that this is “Christian narcissism.”

So why am I juxtaposing an article on the immigration issue and the Ebola issue? Aren’t they two mutually exclusive topics? Well, yes. Yes, they are. However, there is a common denominator between the two topics that deserves attention, mainly because Creamer and Coulter–two respected voices–come at the same issue from two entirely different angles.

Creamer looks at foreigners as precious people that need God’s love from Americans.

Coulter looks at foreigners, at least the ones in Liberia, as risky outsiders undeserving of God’s love from Americans.

Coulter holds no punches in suggesting that Christian Americans have no place in Africa. For her, it’s not worth the risk. She goes as far as to say that Brantly “risked making his wife a widow and his children fatherless,” as if he was eager for the chance to contract a disease with a 90% fatality rate that would decimate his family for years to come.

Hundreds–more likely thousands–of Christian Americans travel to Africa every single year for mission work, and this is the first time in history that one has contracted the Ebola virus and brought it back to the United States. If I were a betting man, I would be very comfortable betting that Dr. Brantly didn’t intentionally risk “making his wife a widow and his children fatherless.” I’m sure that he was aware of the risks and that his goal was to come back home to be a husband to his wife and a father to his children, and hopefully lead people to Jesus in the process.

And this is the real issue. How far should a Christian go to share the gospel? How much should he risk?

I think the answer to those questions depends on the value we place on souls.

Coulter argues that Christianity would have been better served if Brantly “had practiced at Cedars-Sinai hospital in Los Angeles and turned one single Hollywood power-broker to Christ.” She says that Brantly “would have done more good for the entire world than anything he could accomplish in a century spent in Liberia.” She also says that, “If he had provided health care for the uninsured editors, writers, videographers and pundits in Gotham and managed to open one set of eyes, he would have done more good than marinating himself in medieval diseases of the Third World.”

In light of these comments, it seems that Coulter might be suggesting that a soul in America is more valuable than a lost soul in Africa. In fact, Coulter goes as far as to put a monetary value on Liberian souls, writing, “Whatever good Dr. Kent Brantly did in Liberia has now been overwhelmed by the more than $2 million already paid by the Christian charities Samaritan’s Purse and SIM USA.”

I don’t know if Brantly led anyone to Christ, but Coulter’s statement is general enough to encompass the potential of just one salvation. In short, she argues that it’s better to spend millions of dollars to save a physical American life than it is to spend millions of dollars to save a spiritual Liberian life.

This is very American, but very unchristian.

This might be a better example of “Christian narcism” than what Coulter originally argued. It reminds me of the old adage, “We spend more time praying people out of heaven than we do praying people in!” This is to say that we spend more time embellishing the lives of the saved than we do enthralling the lives of the lost.

I think Boyce College’s Denny Burk captured Coulter’s thoughts well when he called them “sub-Christian garbage” and “pagan foolishness.” Micah Fries, Vice President of Lifeway Research, agrees, writing that Coulter, “completely misunderstand[s] – if not misrepresent[s] – the nature of Christianity and the missionary heart of God.” He says that her blog “is a grotesque example of missing the point.”

As for me, my response is the same one I give when I’m asked, “Pastor, why do we go on mission trips overseas whenever we have lost people right here in our own city!” My response is, “The gospel isn’t restricted to regions.”

You see, Coulter assumes that one option is better than the other. In fact, she basically says that there is no reason to ever go overseas for mission trips, so it’s not just that one option is “better,” it’s that there is really just one option.

But the gospel isn’t restricted to our local contexts. If I’m in India on business and come across a lost person, I would never tell him, “I would love to share the gospel with you, but you see, there are a ton of lost people in my hometown, so I cannot talk to you about how you can have eternal life in Jesus.”

This is because the gospel is for everyone. We should share it with our neighbors across the street and with the strangers across the world.

This is what Jesus taught:

“Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation” (Mark 16:14).

As Americans we ought to be concerned about the open border, and we ought to be concerned about our own citizens contracting the Ebola Virus from foreigners. But as Christians we ought to be more concerned about the salvation of people. All people. Liberians. Mexicans. And Americans. And our Christianity should always, always, always override our Americanism.

Comments

  1. Dave Miller says

    I don’t follow, read, or listen to Ann Coulter much. Even when I agree with her, I find her belligerence, anger, even hatefulness distasteful.

    She sure seems to have struck a nerve among Christians with this one!

    Thanks, Jared. (and Alan!)

    • says

      Me, too, David. I have a few of her books. Well, one anyway (without going through my whole library in its disorganized state). Coulter reminds me of Ayn Rand without the latter’s literary wherewithal. I am surprised that Americans consider Coulter. Her conservatism is full of gaps. Anyone who speaks thus of a Christian effort to help others has rocks in their clock. There is a conservatism that is completely off base, a conservatism in politics that is Catholic (and one wonders whether it has a hidden agenda), a conservatism in Southern Baptist that is not given to conservatism in practicing the Christian Faith as witness the firing of various individuals where Conservatives are in control and just wanting to get rid of some one they did not like. That is something that will hurt the cause. I use the term biblical orthodox to describe my position or the original views of the Baptists in America. I just about want to die laughing, when I see some folks trying their best to include the general atonement folks in our origins and give them the credit for the evangelistic and missionary effort. First, the General Baptists were not very evangelistic or missionary minded. Their idea of evangelism was to ask someone, if they believed in Jesus and would be willing to be baptized. They never asked whether the individual had an experience or not. While some folks without a definite experience can be truly saved, it usually is a cover for no conversion at all. On the other hand, to be fair, conversions can be false. In any case, a few of the General Baptists in North Carolina were persuaded to change their views on the atonement and join with the Philadelphia Association directing them in 1755. The ministers who led these folks to change were Peter Peterson Van Horn and Benjamin Miller. The people and churches adopting the Sovereign Grace view then continued for the next 46 years baptizing 25-30 a year. Then came the Second Great Awakening, and they baptized some 870 in 1801. The like might be coming our way in spite of all the troubles we seem to be facing now. We shall see.

  2. Rick Mang says

    “Coulter looks at foreigners as disease-ridden outsiders undeserving of God’s love from Americans.”

    As bombastic as Coulter is, I didn’t see this inflammatory sentiment in her article.

    Rick

    • says

      Rick,

      I read Coulter’s article several times. And then I read, and reread, mine to make sure I wasn’t responding to her inflammatory sentiment with inflammatory sentiment.

      With respect to Coulter, and anyone that disagrees, I’m comfortable with the comment I made. She of course might not phrase it that way, but that is essentially what her blog communicated.

      I considered and reconsidered this particular phrase, and felt comfortable keeping it in. I can agree that I could dilute it a little, but I felt that it was a fair sentiment.

  3. Bill Mac says

    I’ve heard of trickle down economics, but Coulter’s article is the first time I’ve heard of trickle down charity, ie: the best way we can help Africans is by helping Americans. 2+2=9

  4. says

    Seeing as their is nothing Christian in Coulter’s comments, instead of “Christian narcissism,” I’d call it American elitism, which sadly is rampant these days

  5. says

    Jared, I do not believe that you have been completely fair with your treatment of Ann Coulter. You use this statement, “Coulter argues that Christianity would have been better served if Brantly “had practiced at Cedars-Sinai hospital in Los Angeles and turned one single Hollywood power-broker to Christ” to conclude, “So, there you have it. A lost soul in America is more valuable than a lost soul in Africa.”

    This indeed is the entire sentence you quote by Ann Coulter “If Dr. Brantly had practiced at Cedars-Sinai hospital in Los Angeles and turned one single Hollywood power-broker to Christ, he would have done more good for the entire world than anything he could accomplish in a century spent in Liberia. Ebola kills only the body; the virus of spiritual bankruptcy and moral decadence spread by so many Hollywood movies infects the world.”

    Her sentiment seems to be that leading one to Christ is more beneficial than treating a disease, especially if that redeemed soul can change Hollywood. It was pointed out earlier that there is nothing unethical in only quoting half of a source if you do not change the author’s intention. Do you feel you have fairly represent Ann Coulter by saying she believes an American soul is of more value than a Liberian soul based on taking half of this sentence completely out of its context?

    • says

      Dean,

      Thanks for interacting with the blog. I can see where you are coming from.

      I honestly don’t know what Coulter’s thoughts are about the value of souls. I merely interacted with the content on this particular blog of hers.

      I think many are giving her the benefit of the doubt, which is that she is arguing for national missions ‘before’ international missions, but I don’t see her make that argument in this blog. I see her argue against international missions in general, mainly because it’s too great of a risk, and because we have enough need here in America.

      This is very evident in that she calls Brantly “idiotic.”

      She never says, “Hey, I’m not saying that we shouldn’t go to Africa. I’m just saying to remember America.” She says, “Brantly’s condition downgraded to idiotic.” And then she spends the rest of the article talking about how Africans are not worth the risk of American lives.

      I’m sure Coulter wouldn’t–or at least I hope–say that one soul is more “valuable” than another, but her article sure seemed like she would.

      If Coulter is going to be so bombastic in her language against Christians going to serve the Lord overseas, I think it’s warranted to hold her accountable to what she said, which is that international missions is “narcissistic, idiotic, and unheroic.”

      • says

        Jared, I agree she should be held accountable for what she said, especially that Christians who do foreign missions are narcissistic, idiotic and unwilling to engage in the culture war. I will act like a gentleman and refrain from telling you how I feel about her for making these comments. One of the greatest influences in my life is a missionary. Since I was 13 years old he has invested his life in mine. On top of this career missionary one of our college students, as good as a young man as there is in America, just this week returned from 2 months in the Philippines. I promise these comments offend me.

        It is my opinion, however, she is being held accountable for some things she didn’t say. I disagree with your conclusion she places value of one soul over another. She argues not that a Hollywood power broker’s soul is more valuable than a peasant in a third world country but that she believes the Hollywood powerful could have a greater impact on the world than the peasant. I have been present with SBC missionaries as we prayed for a particular influential person’s salvation. The missionary leaders said if this person can be saved it will open up the Gospel to this whole region of the country. This soul was of no more value than the beggar on the street but I understood what the missionary was saying.

        Some ask if she was narcissistic worried that she might get sick. Here is a quote from her article, “There’s little danger of an Ebola plague breaking loose from the treatment of these two Americans at the Emory University Hospital.” If one read the article it is puzzling how such a question could be asked.

        She mentions the cost factor of doing short term missions as opposed to working in the USA. She has no clue how to speak as a Christian should nor how to share her thoughts in a pleasant way but this is a legitimate question that takes place every week in SBC churches. People discuss the financial wisdom of doing short term missions. On this site many times I have seen churches lampooned for spending money on multimillion dollar buildings with some deriding the foolishness of such spending. Can questions not be asked concerning spending for foreign missions? I believe I read an article on this site recently that said Americans who do short term missions need nationals more than they need us and our expressions of wealth undermine the work of the national church. Putting all these comments together can it not be asked maybe we should do less short term missions and invest more in career missionaries and national work. I know she did not ask this particular question; she would rather spend the money on saving America. I understand comparing Ebola research/treatment with VBS in Belize is ridiculous. One a national can certainly do the other is probably dependent on short term medical missionaries. But Ann Coulter is not the first who has stated short term missionaries are little more than glorified vacationers looking for a photo opp. If you read many blogs this has become a pretty popular sentiment especially among church planters in North America. This may have been Coulter’s biggest mistake to attribute such accusations to Dr. Brantly who has paid a tremendous price for Jesus. If she would have posted the same report without the 2 million dollar jet bill and Dr. Brantly’s disease and rather showed photos of prayer walkers who spent $20,000 to walk the streets of Brazil praying it would not had been nearly offensive and some probably would be agreeing with her.

        Anyway, I do not expect much from Ann Coulter but I do from the fine folk I have read at Voices through the years.

  6. William Thornton says

    Come on Jared, there was plenty of material in her piece without you putting words in her mouth (“she essentially argues” “she basically says”).

    Cheap shot: “Coulter looks at foreigners as disease-ridden outsiders undeserving of God’s love from Americans.”

    Ignoring a valid point in favor of your preformed conclusions: The goods doctor certainly would have done better to convert a mogul or media baron that see patients in Liberia. The counter to that would be that it is a false and presumptive choice. You didn’t deal with that.

    You are all goofed up on this…

    …but never mind that. I have a question for all my indignant SBCV friends. We make opportunity cost decisions all the time about church and mission spending. Is there not some teensy tiny question raised about $2m spent to get 2 Americans home when that amount would have greatly advanced indigenous ability to handle their disease problem? Another false choice but a legitimate question.

    Both Samaritans purse and our IMB have this kind of money and can do these things. I believe we self insure, meaning that donations would have been used rather than insurance dollars. Most NGOs could not have managed this. Their decision would have been, “Do we medivac and exhaust our bank account for the foreseeable future thereby ending our ministry’s work, or…?

    I don’t buy Coulter’s stuff about the US providing the upstream purity that flows down to the soiled masses of the world. We manifestly are ineffective at that in spite of the billions we spend stateside.

    There are legitimate questions raised by all this.

    • Bennett Willis says

      And from the point of view of “money raised,” there is likely some insurance money in there somewhere–maybe a lot.

      • Bennett Willis says

        Oops, William addressed the insurance thing. But there may still be a “disaster clause” insurance–or not. Sorry I got started on this path.

  7. jim says

    Coulter is typical of many media talking heads, particularly those on the ‘right’. She wraps herself in an American flag above all else. Her Christianity seems to have Western culture Moral Majority-type leanings; some biblical, some unbiblical.

    Ms. Coulter would serve her readers better by sticking to politics and use restraint in her opinions on Christian matters that are much deeper than a price tag.

  8. Greg Harvey says

    Jared:

    It’s actually Mark 16:15. And it has a similar construction to the Great Commission verse in Matthew. The “to go” derivative is a participle, is in aorist passive nominative plural, and the translation “Go” is arguably a poor rendering. A better translation probably is “Having dispersed (gone) into the world, proclaim the Gospel”. It’s implicit that we don’t congregate and separate. But it isn’t exactly a direct imperative the way the verb “proclaim” (keruxate) is in that verse.

    One possible way to convert the “go” to an imperative is to note that the aorist passive sometimes implies that God arranges the circumstances and creates the result starting at an indeterminate point in the past. But even then, that isn’t an active imperative like we have in English where we delete the subject and it becomes implicitly second person singular (YOU) or plural (effectively “Y’ALL” for SBs at least.) that is the construction of “Go” in the translation you present.

    I don’t disagree with any of the things you are saying. I just beg that we use more precision in our handling of Scripture and less dependence on the sometimes disheartening translations into English. If there is a specific takeaway of my “rant”, though, it is that we can depend on the Holy Spirit to guide us to the exact circumstance where we then have an obligation (of love) to proclaim the Gospel to all of creation.

    Clearly Coulter, Trump, and Savage demonstrate a lack of spiritual sensitivity to the work of the Holy Spirit. Which is why they’re all wrong about how this was handled. If they remind us of anyone in the Bible, it’s Judas Iscariot and his questioning of the lavishing of a year’s wages worth of perfume on Jesus in worship. It is precisely the responsibility of the missions organization to determine how to take care of the people who are serving God. These people have lavished years of effort on Jesus in worship. Questioning the price of honoring them with life-saving medical support is beyond the pale.

    • Bill Mac says

      Mohler’s response is excellent, from a man who, I dare say, has done more in the culture wars than Coulter could ever hope to.

    • Wm. Dwight McKissic, Sr. says

      Greg,

      Thanks for linking to Mohler’s response to Coulter’s most unfortunate, unwise, unnecessary, untrue, and unkind Ebola commentary. Just read his piece. I was so grateful and relieved that an evangelical,and particularly a Southern Baptist, not only provided a Christo-logical/biblical response to Coulter–but also stopped just short of calling her comment what I am going to call it–and that’s racist and ethnocentric. And yes it’s possible for her comment to be racist and she not be one. Therefore, I am not calling Coulter a racist. I don’t know her, nor have I read/listened to her enough to form an opinion regarding whether or not she is a racist. But her commentary that values the lives of the Hollywood elite over the West Africans is racist, elitist, and nationalistic. I have made comments that were racist, though I am nor racist. Many of us have. So again, I am not calling Coulter a racist. But, her comment need to be condemned as racist by upstanding White evangelicals like Mohler and others. Her type of comment keeps the racial divide in this country, even among evangelicals, alive and well. That’s why Mohler addressing the racial aspect of her commentary was so very important.

      I believe Coulter attends Keller’s church in New York. A few months ago while visiting a Black Church whose newly called pastor holds to a Calvinist theology, I was privileged to participate in a friendly, yet at times intense conversation, with the pastor and some of his key leaders regarding Calvinism from a Black Church perspective. One of the leaders offered a rejoinder to the pastor’s Calvinist theology that I found quite intriguing. This leader gave the usual objections to Calvinism that many of us who are traditionalist would give, but additionally he added; John Calvin was a White Man condemning all of these millions of Black people to hell in Africa and elsewhere, without them having a say so in the matter. He argued that the “elect” in Calvinist theology were Whites. And Blacks, Native Americans, and other people of colors were referred to as “noble savages,” “pagans” “lost,” “hellbound,” etc. I found his analysis and perspective quite fascinating. Given the fact that Keller is a Calvinist, and presumably Coulter is as well-it makes her comment that much more horrifying.

      I am in no wise suggesting that Keller, Mohler, or contemporary Calvinist would embrace that line of thinking. But Coulter’s commentary certainly reminded me of the Black church lay leader who rejected Calvinism in part on the basis that this theology was championed by a White Man who was inadvertently arguing that multiple millions of Blacks would be predestined to hell without them having a choice in the matter. The only way Coulter’s “idiotic” comment would have any degree of theological or rational credibility behind the statement would be if her comment was driven by Calvinist theology.

      Thank you Dr. Mohler for refuting her. Because her comment deepens then divide between Black and White evangelicals; and potentially deepens the divide between Calvinists and Blacks evangelicals who are overwhelmingly traditionalist on the question of soteriology.

      • Adam Blosser says

        Dwight, good to see you are still around. I hope things are going well for you and your ministry. I was tracking with you until you said this: “Given the fact that Keller is a Calvinist, and presumably Coulter is as well-it makes her comment that much more horrifying.”

        Your comment reminded me of a Calvinist black pastor I know who is often ostracized by other black pastors for holding to a “white man’s theology.” Though you are not a Calvinist, I expect you have experienced some of the same reaction from fellow black pastors because of your involvement with the SBC. Maybe such will cause you to hesitate a little more before equating Calvinist soteriology with racism again.

        I have known too many racist non-Calvinists to make the same connection as you have made above.

        • Wm. Dwight McKissic, Sr. says

          Adam

          All is well. This summer has been quite busy and interesting. Thanks for asking.

          Yes. As a National Baptists lady said to me recently,”Southern Baptists are doing a lot better, but they still are not there yet”; that pretty much tells the story of how those of us who are Black SBC’ers are viewed by those outside of the SBC, who are Black. We are viewed as belonging to a group who is “not there yet” . So there is some level of rejection, ridicule, and disdain for those of us who are Black SBC’ers, in the same way Black political conservatives are rejected and ridiculed.

          However, this is not a fit analogy for my comment. I don’t reject or ridicule Black Calvinist. I simply reported to you how one lay-leader responded to his Black pastor’s Calvinism.

          • John Wylie says

            Adam G,

            First of all, Dr. McKissic was simply relating a point of view which he had been a witness to, he never personally said anything about Calvinism one way or another. Secondly, the statement that they lay leader made was really accurate in the early days of Calvinism. Thirdly, Dr. McKissic stated that he did not believe that modern Calvinists like Keller held to those early Calvinists views.

      • Adam G. in NC says

        Until now, I thought I had heard all of the best and the worst of the arguments against Calvinism, but this one takes the cake. Just…wow.

        If there ever was a gross misrepresentation/misunderstanding of Calvinist theology, this is it.

        • Dwight McKissic says

          Adam G.,

          Would you be kind enough to be specific as to exactly what was stated/written that would be a “gross misrepresentation/misunderstanding” of Calvinism? You threw that charge out there without any quote, citation, or explanation as to exactly spelling out what you found that “takes the cake.” Maybe it is readily understood by others, but I am at a total loss regarding how the statement that I made misrepresented or reflected a misunderstanding of Calvinism. Therefore, I respectfully and humbly request that you enlighten me. Thanks.

      • says

        Brother Dwight,

        You quoted this other person as saying essentially, “This leader gave the usual objections to Calvinism that many of us who are traditionalist would give, but additionally he added; John Calvin was a White Man condemning all of these millions of Black people to hell in Africa and elsewhere, without them having a say so in the matter.”

        I realize you didn’t say it but his statement to that effect is just ridiculous. No one, and I mean no one, can demonstrate a cause and effect in holding to Calvinism and being a racist. Your lay leader friend is demonstrating a gross ignorance on this matter.

        As Tarheel has shown in his link, Coulter is not a member of Redeemer. But this statement by you, “The only way Coulter’s “idiotic” comment would have any degree of theological or rational credibility behind the statement would be if her comment was driven by Calvinist theology,” suggests that even you lend some credibility to a Calvinist/racism connection. Do you see such a connection?

        Last, many non Calvinists not only attend but are actually members of PCA (Redeemer is PCA) and yet are not Calvinists themselves. I’ve been an elder in a PCA church since 1992. I’ve conducted countless membership interviews. I can attest that many profess Christ and love much about the PCA and yet are not Calvinists. One does not have to be a Calvinist to be a member of a PCA church.

        Blessings brother.

        • Dwight McKissic says

          John Wylie, Tarheel, Les Prouty, Bill Mac,

          Thanks to all of you for responding to my plea to better understand Adam G’s response to my response to Coulter.

          John Wylie in a few words expresses how I would respond to Les Prouty, and perhaps Adam G. I won’t repeat Wylie’s response here, but again, he sums up my response. Thanks, Brother John.

          Tarheel, thanks for the link, quite informative. I could simply recall reading a few years ago that Coulter attended and/or was a member of Keller’s church. And u and Les are right; to draw inferences about her theology and whether or not Calvinist theology influenced her comments might be a stretch. I will admit that, but, I can’t totally rule that out either. What then are the theological, philosophical, or intellectual underpinnings that caused her to believe that her comment was credible? Agreeing with Mohler that her comment bordered on racism; the question becomes, how can a person of her intellect and value system make a racist statement unless, she could actually defend the statement somehow-either factually, logically, intellectually, theologically, etc.?
          Finally, Les I agree that there is no cause and effect association between Calvinism and racism. Setting Coulter aside for a moment; is it not a belief of Calvinism that God sovereignly selected certain persons to eternal life and others to eternal damnation, solely based on His sovereignty? Am I misunderstanding Calvinist theology on the question of predestination is solely based on Sovereignty? I am not a student of Calvinism so I may be wrong, but that has been my understanding for many years. Please correct me if I am wrong. If I am correct though, and if by any chance that was/is Coulter’s thinking-predestination solely based on sovereignty-then, could that not been a factor in her thinking that the people in Hollywood were more valuable than the people in West Africa? Clearly, she placed a higher value on the souls of the Americans than the soles of Africans, the question is why? If I were a Calvinist and believed that some people were sovereignly selected for hell, and others were not, then I would place a higher value on those who in my mind were selected for heaven. Coulter’s comments easily lends themselves to an interpretation that the Africans were not worthy or as worthy of redemption as the Hollywood elite. I am trying to get into her head and figure out, at what point did she draw such a conclusion? And in any way did Calvinism inform her thinking? It is a fair question-not an uninformed question from my vantage point. Something informed her thinking; what was that?

          Johnathan Edwards, Furman, and a host of other Calvinist were pure and unadulterated racists. Contemporary Calvinist have largely abandoned this mindset, though Wilson’s writings(Doug, I believe is his first name) scare me. His view of slavery is racist and atrocious. A theological system that believes that a great majority of the world’s population have been predestined to hell, without them having a choice in the matter(and given the fact that the majority of the world’s population are made up of people of color) is going to have some sociological ramifications. I was simply making the point that Colter’s comment sounded to me like a sociological ramification of a faulty theological system. But, again, her remark could indeed have zero connection to Calvinism. And with Mouler, Denny Burk, and the head of the ERLC, all speaking out against her comment, I am starting to believe that it probably has no connection to Calvinist theology, but it may indeed be rooted in old fashion racism, the sub conscious type, that she amazingly typed out.

          • says

            Brother Dwight,

            A quick comment with more to come later. You said, “Johnathan Edwards, Furman, and a host of other Calvinist were pure and unadulterated racists.”

            May I suggest Thabiti Anyabwile’s lecture at Trinity on Edwards and the issue of slavery as a much read if we are going to bring Edwards into the discussion?
            http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/justintaylor/files/2012/02/Thabiti-Jonathan-Edwards-slavery-and-theological-appropriation.pdf

            Here is one small excerpt:

            “In what way could Edwards’ theology be thought to lead to his status as slave owner? According to his critics, the doctrine of election or predestination deserves the blame. They contend that belief in God’s predestination—especially in any historical or social sense—tended toward a support of slavery. We can understand why critics would think this given the “manifest destiny” styled abuse and misapplication of the doctrine to Black slavery. The Bible nowhere teaches that God predestined Africans to slavery, so the suggestion by pro-slavery Calvinists rightfully draws ire.

            But as far as we know, Edwards never argued such a view. He cherished the doctrine of election because it undergirded the free grace and love God shows toward undeserving sinners who could never merit his grace. Already during the New England of Edwards’ day, there were defections to Arminian and free will theology. Arminians then, as do many Arminians today, assume or claim that their theological commitments represent a more egalitarian and freedom loving view. One simply needs to note the many Arminian theologians and pastors who held slaves to uncover the weakness of the claim. There is no causal relationship—or even descriptive correlation— between theology proper and 18th century slaveholding.”

            Later brother.

          • says

            Dr McKissic,
            You had asked before to point out where you misrepresented Calvinism. I’ll point out one in this comment:

            “A theological system [Calvinism] that believes that a great majority of the world’s population have been predestined to hell, without them having a choice in the matter…”

            Calvinists don’t believe that. Since it’s off topic, I won’t go into an explanation of why and I don’t have time right now for an extended discussion of it anyway. But that’s at least one as I skim forward through the comments in my in-box.

          • Dwight McKissic says

            Jim,

            If Calvinist don’t believe that God sovereignly selects a segment of the world’s population to eternal damnation solely based on His sovereignty, then I have misunderstood Calvinism, and I apologize for misrepresenting and misunderstanding Calvinism. I have acknowledged not being a student of Calvinism, but predestination solely based on sovereignty I thought was the root of Calvinism. Therefore, since I have misunderstood what I thought was the heart and soul of Calvinism, I request that you at the very least point me to a reference written by a Calvinist that would explain their beliefs on the subject at hand that would contradict what I thought their belief was.
            Dr. Harwood wrote a brilliant comparison graphic statement between Calvinism and traditionalism over at SBC Today, that was published within the past 30 days or so. As he explained Calvinism(and I basing this on memory, which may be faulty), I believe that my understanding would be correct. So, please, explain or point me to a source that clearly reveal that my view of Calvinism is incorrect. Merely pronouncing it, is not sufficient. Thanks.

          • says

            Sure thing. See Article 3: Total Inability of The Third and Fourth Main Points of Doctrine from the Canons of Dordt. In short, Calvinists believe that no one, given a choice, will choose God. Your contention begs the question that Calvinists believe that God doesn’t give some people a choice when in face, Calvinists believe that everyone who has a choice outside of regeneration will reject God and have indeed done so.

          • volfan007 says

            Dwight,

            I agree with you….Dr. Harwood’s chart is excellent and informative.

            Also, to go along with Dwight’s thinking…..and, just playing the Devil’s advocate, here…..would not the Calvinist view of predestination and election….along with the fact that not many Europeans are being saved, right now, but there was a time when Christianity swallowed Europe….along with the Africans of the past not having any Christian witness….and, along with the Asian countries of the past not knowing anything about Jesus and salvation…..would that not mean that God was picking to save White, Europeans in the 1500’s -1700’s? But, He was not choosing to save Chinese and Laotians and Pygmies and Zulu’s? I mean, according to the 5 pt. Calvinist point of view and beliefs?

            If not, then please explain…..don’t just make a generalized statement of “Oh, you just don’t understand Calvinism.” All of us, out here, who aren’t Calvinists, are getting tired of hearing that one, every time we point out the logical end of Calvinist doctrine.

            David

          • Bill Mac says

            I have plenty of disagreement with Harwood’s chart, but what’s the point of discussing it? Non-Calvinists are derisive of the beliefs on the chart, and derisive of Calvinists if they disagree with the chart. Just look at the comment stream after the post on SBC Today.

            There’s a lot of diversity among non-Calvinists on a lot of things: age of the earth, eschatology, moderation/teetotalism, complementarianism, etc. But no one seems to accept that there might be diversity among people who in one way or another associate with Calvinism. Servetus will be held over our heads until the end of time, despite the fact that a lot of Calvinists have not read a word of the writings of John Calvin, and strongly denounce what happened there. Luther was a racist also but I don’t hear people denouncing protestantism. To draw a line between Calvinism and racism is completely unwarranted.

          • says

            Brother Dwight,

            Jim has answered well to this quote from you, ““A theological system [Calvinism] that believes that a great majority of the world’s population have been predestined to hell, without them having a choice in the matter…”

            As Jim has correctly pointed out, Reformed folks do believe that man has a choice. He cited Dort. May I also add the WCF:

            WCF 3,1 “God, from all eternity, did, by the most wise and holy counsel of his own will, freely, and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass: yet so, as thereby neither is God the author of sin, nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures; nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established.”

            Notice that Reformed theology confesses that God does not violate the will of man and liberty is not taken away.

            And chapter 9 on Free Will:

            “1. God hath endued the will of man with that natural liberty, that it is neither forced, nor, by any absolute necessity of nature, determined to good, or evil.

            2. Man, in his state of innocency, had freedom, and power to will and to do that which was good and well pleasing to God; but yet, mutably, so that he might fall from it.

            3. Man, by his fall into a state of sin, hath wholly lost all ability of will to any spiritual good accompanying salvation: so as, a natural man, being altogether averse from that good, and dead in sin, is not able, by his own strength, to convert himself, or to prepare himself thereunto.

            4. When God converts a sinner, and translates him into the state of grace, he freeth him from his natural bondage under sin; and, by his grace alone, enables him freely to will and to do that which is spiritually good; yet so, as that by reason of his remaining corruption, he doth not perfectly, nor only, will that which is good, but doth also will that which is evil.

            5. The will of man is made perfectly and immutably free to good alone, in the state of glory only.”

            Now, back to the topic at hand.

          • Wm. Dwight McKissic, Sr. says

            Jimpemberton, Les Prouty,

            1. I can’t thank Jim enough for linking/leading me to this treasure trove of a clear delineation and explanation of Calvinist thought. I just hurriedly read through it.

            2.I am more convinced that I not only have not misrepresented Calvinist thought, at least three statements were made that explicitly under-gird what I thought to be true of Calvinism. Just one quote: Article 6: God’s Eternal Decision “The fact that some receive from God the gift of faith within time, and others do not, stem from his eternal decision.” Time does not permit me to provide quotes from several areas of your most valued link that supports everything that I’ve said about Calvinism. One quote made it clear that the persons did not have a “choice” in the matter.

            3. You stated earlier that Calvinist believe that given a choice every person would reject God. I find that viewpoint absolutely inconsistent with all of the “choice passages” in the Bible. If your statement is true, that renders the choice passages in Scripture errant and without authority.

            We obviously will not resolve this matter on this thread, inasmuch as it has not been resolved in over 2000 years of church history. It is off topic, and I am going to bow out before Dave kicks us out. But, your link is so helpful to informing me in a simple straightforward manner to understanding Calvinism. Thanks again.

            I found at least three statements in the Council of Dordt totally reprehensible and against the plain teaching of Scripture. What I read reenforced everything that I thought that I knew about Calvinism. If that link represent the official belief of Calvinism and if that brand of Calvinism is being taught in our seminaries, the SBC has a huge problem on her hands that is a far greater problem than the inerrancy debate/battle. I can’t fathom how that brand of Calvinism can coexist in the same convention with a traditional soteriology. Final question: Is the Council of Dordt kind of Calvinism being taught at Southern or any other SBC seminary as representing biblical teaching and Baptist beliefs? Thanks again.

          • Les Prouty says

            Brother Dwight,

            It’s interesting that you can say on the one hand that Calvinista don’t believe the non elect have a choice and them we show you where Calvinism explicitly teaches that he non elect DO have a choice (see the WCF quite I provided) and then come back and say that your original statement is true. Puzzled.

            Now, you may not agree that our view provides a genuine choice (see Vol for an example of that). But it is undeniable that Reformed theory confesses that the non elect do on face have a choice.

            Les

          • Wm. Dwight McKissic, Sr. says

            Les,

            Bingo!!!! The so call choice that God offers as explained by Calvinist, is a non-choice choice. The notion that all men would reject God’s offer if given a choice, is not supported by Scripture or logic.

            This so call choice that you speak of reminds me of the day that I dared walk across the athletic field at the boys club/girls club during the days of segregation in my hometown as a 7th or 8th grader. A voice came across the loud speaker as I walked saying “if you don’t have a 1968, ’69(?) Pine Bluff Boys Club membership card, please remove yourself from the premises”. I was not given a choice to secure a ’68, ’69 Pine Bluff Boys Club membership card due to my race. Yet, the announcement left the impression that I was able to secure one. Later I found out that the man who donated the land to the Boys Club did so under the condition that no Black could ever be allowed to be a member. My White friends who had invited me to come down there assumed that all I needed to do was to fill out the paperwork and pay the fee for the membership card. My friends didn’t realize that a certain group of people were “sovereignly”selected, and another group was “sovereignly” rejected, although in theory we all had a choice. This reminds me of Calvinism, based on the way you all explain it.

          • says

            Brother Dwight,

            Bingo? What do I win?

            Seriously, I think we are finally on the same page. Allow me to summarize.

            Reformed theology confesses that the non elect indeed has a choice.

            You and many others of the libertarian free will camp do not believe that our confession of the non elect choice is really a true choice.

            So, it is important that when non Reformed folk discuss the Reformed view of election you at least acknowledge that the Reformed view confesses the non elect’s valid choice but that you disagree with our view.

          • John Wylie says

            First of all, Dr. McKissic that Boys Club analogy is one of the best I’ve ever seen brought to bear on this subject.

            Second, what I have noticed though in all of this is the lack of Calvinist commentary on supralapsarianism. If God indeed did predestine some to reprobation than no matter how you slice it they never were legitimately given a choice. With all due respect to the Calvinists on here, and I truly do respect you, to say that all men left to themselves would choose against God as a rationale for God giving people a legitimate choice in my opinion is incredibly weak. To call on all mankind to trust Christ and then give them no power to do so is no legitimate choice.

      • Bill Mac says

        Dwight: I very much doubt that, despite her use of a few prooftexts, Coulter is concerned about theological issues at all. She is the queen of neocons and her only concerns are with the preservation and advancement of the conservative American empire. Her very words, and the backlash against them, make it clear she doesn’t understand Christianity. Actually, she has done us a favor, and more than a few eyes are being opened to the dangerous marriage of Christianity and right wing politics. (Cliven Bundy anyone?)

  9. says

    I certainly have a problem with Coulter calling Christian missions narcissistic. As much as missionaries sacrifice in order to go, it’s anything but narcissistic. However, using John Piper’s understanding of it, it is hedonistic. Frankly, what issue Coulter has with it in this instance can only be narcissistic. Why does it matter to her? If she’s afraid of catching illnesses from Christians bringing things back from other countries or afraid of some damage done to the economy, then it’s only because she fears for herself. Even if she claims that she fears for other Americans, why would she not have the same fears for the people in the country of origin? Because it’s too close to home.

    So she mentions money, and we naturally are concerned for money. We need to steward well the resources we have been entrusted with. But I’ve seen God provide in amazing ways. It’s never truly about the money. It’s about trusting God to provide for his purposes. Inasmuch as we desire to be be involved in his purposes, we will rejoice in his provision. That goes way beyond money. That goes for what God doesn’t provide as well as understanding that various difficulties, even death, are part of his provision as well.

    • Greg Harvey says

      You could have made the point that from her role as a provocateur she has plenty of money and could easily have covered the costs with a single check. So she’s using the situation to draw more attention to herself and make more money.

      But you were above doing that. So I made the point for you.

  10. says

    I edited my original comment about how Coulter views foreigners with a qualifier that is more contextual with the content of her post. I hope that it better communicates what I was attempting to say.

    Enjoying the conversation about international missions, although I hate why we are having it.

  11. Tarheel says

    I’m not sure why anyone is surprised by the predictable opines of Coulter, Trump, and Bolling. I expected such and expected it from where it came.

    Ive said this many times in my church and i’ll say it here….

    The creeping danger and temptation (sent by the evil one) of an anti missionary and anti worldwide gospel mentality infesting American believers is most certainly diguised and wrapped in the American Flag and shrouded in bombastic political conservatism.

    The evil one is one shrewd son of a gun.

    • Adam Blosser says

      I am not sure that those speaking out against it are really surprised. Rather than being surprised, I have chosen to speak out because I know that many are easily deceived by terrible theology when it is wrapped in an American flag and political conservatism. I think you agree.

  12. volfan007 says

    Jim,

    Total inability and man being a dead corpse….according to Calvinist….would mean that people don’t really have a chance to be saved, and have no choice, whatsoever, to be saved, or not….not in reality. I hear what you’re saying, in theory….but, in reality, if a person hasn’t been picked by God to be saved, then they really have no choice….they’re gonna be lost and go to Hell….and, they, in reality, had no choice in the matter….it was all up to God’s choice. And, He didn’t choose them, so they had no hope, and no choice, and no chance, whatsoever, of being saved….none….nada…. zilch….zippo….according to what Calvinists teach and believe.

    David

  13. Bill Mac says

    Instead of rehashing all the Calvinist vs non-Calvinist arguments again, can we just focus on this alleged link that Dwight and Volfan have implied between Calvinism and racism? Could you guys spell it out for me again?

    How is Calvinism responsible for, or linked to racism, exactly?

    • says

      Bill Mac I’m with you on tht question. Did you happen to follow the link I posted this morning to Thabiti Anyabwile’s lecture on Edwards and slavery? It’s a short read and I think he pretty well dispels the notion that Calvinism necessarily leads to slavery (though I know the question here is a link to racism, the two not necessarily being the same thing).

  14. volfan007 says

    First of all, Bill Mac, I never said that all Calvinists were racists. I said that I was playing the devil’s advocate, and trying to say that I could see what Dwight was trying to say….that it wasn’t that far of a reach for him to say what he was saying….when we looked at the people that God was “choosing” back in the 1500’s and 1600’s and 1700’s….White, Europeans. Now, it seems that God is not choosing too many in Europe, anymore….but instead, many in China, Cuba, several African countries, and many Latin American countries are being “chosen” at this time.

    Secondly, as John Wesley said….yes, I’m actually quoting Wesley….. Addressing Calvinists, John Wesley says:
    “You suppose [God] to be standing at the prison-doors, having the keys thereof in his hands, and to be continually inviting the prisoners to come forth, commanding them to accept of that invitation, urging every motive which can possibly induce them to comply with that command; adding the most precious promises, if they obey, the most dreadful threatenings, if they obey not; and all this time you suppose him to be unalterably determined in himself never to open the doors for them! even while he is crying, ‘Come ye, come ye, from that evil place: For why will ye die, O house of Israel!’ … Alas! my brethren, what kind of sincerity is this, which you ascribe to God our Saviour?”’

    • Les Prouty says

      Vol,

      Wesley: “and all this time you suppose him to be unalterably determined in himself never to open the doors for them!”

      That’s Wesley’s and perhaps your mistake. He is not so determined as Wesley says. God stands ready to open that door. Problem is that many of those prisoners are running away and shouting angrily at God all the while He reaches out to them They cry out “We hate you!” “Away with your religion!” Away with your Jesus!”

    • Wm. Dwight McKissic, Sr. says

      Volfan,

      Great Wesley quote. It paints the picture. It tells the story. If the deck is already stacked against certain persons, how sincere can we be?; and how cruel are we?; to offer them something that we sincerely believe that has already been determined that they will never receive? Brilliant, Volfan, simply, Brilliant!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  15. Bill Mac says

    What does your perception of Calvinism have to do with the charge that Calvinism is linked to racism? I don’t have a problem with someone disagreeing with my theology. I do have a problem with people charting my supposed beliefs, and getting it wrong (Harwood). I have a bigger problem being associated with racism because by people who disagree with my theology.

  16. Wm. Dwight McKissic, Sr. says

    Bill Mac,

    I speculated out loud that just maybe Coulter’s perception of devaluing the Africans in favor of the Hollywood crowd may have perhaps been influenced by a belief in predestination in a Calvinistic sense. Mohler stated that her comment was in effect borderline racist. I was trying to get into her mind and determine what may have influenced her thinking along those lines. Because I recalled her saying that she attended Keller’s church, and knowing that Keller is Calvinist, I began to do some homespun psychology connecting dots, that I admit probably should not be connected.

    I thought that I’d made it crystal clear that I did not believe that contemporary Calvinist were racist. I do not believe that Calvinist are inherently racist, no more-so than National Baptist, Arminians, Methodist, or anyone else. Please forgive me for not making it clear that I don’t hold that Calvinism is associated with racism among modern day adherents.

    I did quote a young(actually mulatto lay-leader) whose mother is Black, who argued that he inherently did not trust Calvinist theology in part on the basis that John Calvin was a White gentleman who had championed a belief system that argues that God had assigned certain persons to hell solely at His discretion. Inevitably, given the fact that over 2/3 of the world’s population is comprised of people of color, here you have a White Man teaching the worldwide body of Christ that God had assigned the majority of these persons of color to hell. I simply stated that I found his argument intriguing. I’d never heard that before. I don’t necessarily embrace his position, but I do see how he connected those dots. If John Calvin had been Black I would still strongly disagree with Calvinism.

    Calvinism and cessationism in my judgement cannot be arrived at from a casual or critical reading of the Scripture. One must be influenced by someone else to arrive at a Calvinist or cessationist position. The lay leader that I refer to simply has determined that he is not going to allow Calvin or any of his spiritual descendants to determine his soteriology. If I could find in the Scripture a Calvinist soteriology, I would embrace it. But since I don’t, I won’t.

    I hope that I cleared up this matter for you, Bill Mac. I am not associating Calvinism with racism. I only associated Coulter’s remarks with racism, and wondered out loud did Calvinism in any manner influence her thinking.

  17. says

    I’m not in a position to judge anyone else’s faith. But when I hear words like this from Ann Coulter, or Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Michael Savage, Sean Hannity, et al, and hear all the neo-religious political rhetoric in the right wing about “Biblical Worldview,” I have to conclude that either they do not have any understanding about what that means, except as a term to use to advance their own agenda, or those who use the term do not know what it means.

    Over the course of the 35 years since I became a believer in Jesus, I’ve been through a lot of Bible study, and I’ve had to admit, many times, that I’ve had to change my theology and doctrine because I couldn’t make the Bible support my presupposed ideas. It’s hard on the ego to admit you are wrong.