Calvinism Conference: Frank Page

God’s intent is that we be one in essence. We must one is essence, purpose, and plan; one unity; one purpose. There are many voices pulling us away from one another. It’s God’s plan that we’ll be together. Can we come together for something greater than ourselves?

God has a plan for unity:

1. Respect

1 Pet. 2:17. This is inerrantists disagreeing with other inerrantists. We respect each other’s right to hold opinions. I don’t see that happening. We’re talking about and at each other too often.

2. Peace

Heb. 12:14-15. We make every effort to castigate, but Scripture says the opposite.

3. Love

Eph. 4:15. We must relearn this. It’s time for honesty. Tell the search committee what you believe.

4. Honesty

5. Scriptural adherence. Hold to the Word. We need to quote the Author before we start quoting other authors. We must quote Scripture first.

6. Great Commission. We must go into all the world teaching, baptizing, and teaching. The issue before us is the souls of men, women, boys, and girls. The bottom line issue is men and women who need the gospel.

If we do these things, Calvinists and non-Calvinists can work together.

Comments

  1. says

    Has anyone ever considered how ludicrous it is that we are having conferences where we are telling grown men, most of them pastors, that we are to respect, love, and be at peace with one another? I mean, if you don’t understand that, why are you even in the ministry? What do you have to say to anyone? This is beyond basic – kindergarten stuff – and, we can’t grasp it. Maybe the problem is not in theological systems but I or own flesh that we refuse to submit to God so we can just be decent to each other. Some of this should be a given. Honestly, most every person I talk to I real life over this is civil and respectful, even when we disagree. Maybe we should talk more about how you handle yourself on blogs and the Internet and Facebook and Twitter?

    Just a thought.

    • says

      Alan,

      I have the same concern as you, but in Scripture we see Paul constantly exhorting the church to love one another. I suspect much of his exhortations were because Christians were not loving each other just as we are failing to do.

      Maybe if we, myself included, had more exhortations to love we would be inclined to think more about what we are called to do by God. Most of the exhortations we receive lately are to fear and be wary of each other because of political and denominational issues. That’s from my view of the mountain.

    • Frank says

      Alan,

      Good words. Think about it: what does it matter if others on a blog do not like your theology? It’s not like they are going to come vote in your business meetings.

      I learn a lot listening to people on both sides of this issue. I guess it helps the learning process when I don’t have a “dog in the hunt.” If someone asks me which side is right I know exactly what to answer:

      neither.

      Having said that, I am amazed at myself that my blood pressure goes up when people on a blog say something condescending, or outright mean.

      It’s a lot like the guy who flips me off on the freeway. Why would I allow someone I don’t know, will never meet cause me a moment’s grief.

      I’m going to try to follow my advice, Alan, and remain calm.

    • Christiane says

      I suppose Jared wants for things to be better. His post certainly projects that kind of hope.

    • Dave Miller says

      Alan Cross just had a “wow” moment.

      That was one of the best comments in world history, Alan. Make it into a post and share it with us!

      • says

        Why thank you, Dave. I might do that next week. Dr. Page’s comments just seemed very elementary to me and I thought about how the conference had brought him all the way from Nashville to tell Baptist preachers to be nice, respect one another, and love each other, and then that gets tweeted and blogged and what-not. This is all so basic, however, that it is embarrassing. To be divisive and hateful and prideful and spiteful and backbiting and a gossiper, among other things, is all sin. Yet, it goes on and on and on and we have conferences where people tell us to be nice and we ignore it and keep indulging the flesh.

        I am sick of talking about or hearing about or thinking about Calvinism/Non-Calvinism, etc. This all seems to me like it is about who is in control and not about theology much at all. So, those who want control are mad with those who they fear and/or think have control.

        Wanting control is also a sin of the flesh. We have to lay all this down.

          • says

            By the way, is it common knowledge here that I am NOT a Calvinist? I know that you have known that for some time now. Not sure if others do. Lots more diversity around here than some think. But, again, I am so weary of this subject.

        • Max says

          “Dr. Page’s comments just seemed very elementary …”

          Yep … yet another sign indicating just how far off track we are in SBC life. “Don’t kick”, “don’t bite”, “don’t cuss” … and “don’t stick your tongue out at me when I’m finished talking to you!”

          “If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.” (Galatians 5:15)

    • Bill Mac says

      Another thing that concerns me is that I keep hearing people on both sides anxiously awaiting Frank Page to convene the unity committee or whatever it is. If we think it is going to take such a committee to iron out these problems, we’re doomed. How often are our problems solved by committee?

      • Max says

        “If we think it is going to take such a committee to iron out these problems, we’re doomed.”

        And everybody said AMEN!

  2. says

    Gentlemen,

    What do you do when someone like me does not like what I see taking place in the SBC entities and the theological underpinnings that are both behind those moves and those ahead of us as well?

    Obviously, there are those who are in favor of those moves and we have differing perspectives not only on WHAT we believe but on what we need to do about things that have already been done… and are continuing to be done very effectively.

    How do we agree to disagree agreeable?

    The suggestion that I am over-reacting is not going to work. The charge that I do not know what I am talking about is not going to work and in ALL FAIRNESS to that charge has no relevant foundation because it applies equally to both sides…

    We disagree theologically. Can we agree to disagree agreeably on theology? While I do not believe there is any reason to do so on Scriptural grounds because this issue deals explicitly with HOW a person passes from death unto life… and there is no room for compromise in this area especially where God’s salvific role is concerned, I maintain neither of us really wiling to compromise there… I do believe we can love one another and have respect for one another and even churches because I do not want the SBC telling me that I MUST be a calvinist nor do I believe the SBC should tell calvinists they MUST be non-calvinist.

    An individual and a church have the right respectively to make that decision for themselves. However, when it comes to the entities of the SBC we both have the right and responsibility to make sure that they work according to our respective positions…. or at least be part of the process in securing their stability.

    This is what I believe the real issue with calvinism in the SBC. I do not see an amicable solution because I believe things have advanced to the point that there is no turning around and the lines are being and in fact have already been drawn to a large degree.

    I wish there was an amicable answer but I do not believe it is a love issue or one side being irresponsible over the other. For the record, I really do believe Mohler and company have done an outstanding job and continue to do so and have every right to be doing what they are doing in a deeply convictional basis.

    However, I believe the non-calvinist side is equally responsible and are waking up and beginning to stand up to do the same thing. There simply is no way in this situation to agree to disagree agreeably.

    One final comment. The same argument for unity in the SBC can be made with other denominations… we all need to love one another and get along for the sake of the gospel… as a matter of fact, that is the same argument I hear being made in the religious circles of toleration; we all need to get along for the sake of mankind; lets make love the universal language and lets all get along for the good of mankind.

    OK… lets all sign up!

    >&;t’>”

    • says

      I was not being hostile. I was being as honest as I know to be and really asking for the opinions of others who I know differ from me in my position. After all, that WAS one of the suggestions made in the conference we are discussing.

      &gt'<>”

    • Dave Miller says

      Bob, I think it is the sense that many of us get reading your posts that you want to root out those who disagree and banish them.

      During the SBC, you tried to add an amendment to a resolution that both Calvinists and non-Calvinists were set to agree to – a great piece of work done by the resolutions committee.

      Your amendment would have forced Calvinists to vote against the unifying resolution (I think it was the Sinner’s Prayer thing). Why would you try to poison the water there?

      It seemed to me at that point that you wanted division, that you wanted not to work together with Calvinists.

      That is the impression I get, Bob. I do not get the idea from you that you want to partner with Calvinists.

      • Dave Miller says

        If these things aren’t true, then we somehow have a perception and communication problem.

      • says

        Dave,

        I have my opinions as to the motives of folks just like you have yours. I have been as transparent as I can possibly be and the question I asked above is as heartfelt a question as I know how to make.

        What I do find interesting is that you did not even attempt to answer the question I asked but spoke to your opinion as to my motives. I seem to remember you chiding me in the past because I challenged the motives of others and then additionally was accused of knowing people better than they know themselves.

        Please understand, I am concerned about the theological leanings and direction that the entities of the SBC are currently headed in. That is the sole point of my position.

        As for the motion I made to amend the resolution on the sinners prayer that was not an attempt to be divisive as you so aptly state; it was a statement that I thought was important to further qualify the power of the gospel with respect to those who hear it, not just believe it. Most people have no idea that the resolutions committee has the power to rewrite a resolution submitted to them. I personally find that very interesting. Amazing how that works.

        Now the fact that YOU did not appreciate my motion to amend the resolution ought not be an occasion for you to cast an accusation of intent on my part. I would not do that of you.

        So, your impression is really irrelevant, especially seeing that it is incorrect. So, do you have any suggestions about the questions I raised in my comment above or not?

        ><>”

        • says

          “So, your impression is really irrelevant, especially seeing that it is incorrect.”

          This statement is not true. First, his impression is what it is. It is not “incorrect,” because it is his actual impression. Second, it is not “really irrelevant,” because you don’t seem to understand the way your expression of your position comes across to people. It is very relevant to try and give you a sense of how others perceive the delivery of your message. For what it’s worth (not much, I know), I share the same impression as Dave does about how your communications on this issue come across.

          • Tom Parker says

            Bob:

            You do come across as totally dismissive of anyone who does not see it your way. Is it possible that your impression is wrong?

            And to tell Dave Miller that “his impression is totally irrelevant, especially seeing that it is incorrect.” shows you are not interested in dialogue. IMO you are hurting you own cause. Time will surely tell.

        • says

          Gentlemen,

          How someone sees another’s intentions is irrelevant if it is indeed incorrect. I understand that I come across as dismissive when calvinists read what I am writing because I disagree with their theological persuasion and for many that means I cannot understand calvinism or I would be one. It is what it is. I am not overly concerned with that.

          What I said in my original comment is that the theological divide in us as individuals is one thing.. the theological divide in individual churches is one thing. The theological divide in the entities of the SBC is one that is entirely different and is the focus of my contention. I complimented those leading this calvinist revival and the great strides that have convictionally made with respect to the leadership in the entities of the SBC. I also said that I believe they have had every right to do what they have done and have every right to continue their quest. How is that being detrimental to calvinists?

          Now if I had stopped there you guys would be praising me to high heaven. I said that I as a non-calvinist have every right to say I disagree with the calvinist infiltration of the entities of the SBC. If my doing so means that I am being divisive then so be it. I have every right to do what I am doing just as those calvinists have in doing what they have and continue to do.

          My point is that given the dynamics of what is actually causing the divide as I see it, the possibility or potentiality of an agreeable disagreement simply does not exist. This is the thrust of the post and Page’s comments.

          Dave did not speak to what I said. He simply spoke about his impressions of my intentions. Frankly that is what you guys have done as well. I know MY heart and my intentions and am speaking intelligently to the issues as I see them.

          I will continue to do so in preparation of the SBC meetings in Houston and especially Baltimore. I appreciate and welcome disagreement in what I say but accusations as to my intentions and motives are really unbecoming to Christian discussions… and even blogs.

          ><>”

          • says

            Bob, you offer no hope of disagreeing agreeably, but we are supposed to believe that you are truly interested in dialogue and solutions? These two things are mutually exclusive.

            I will tell you the same thing I told Rick Patrick just yesterday. I think you are making more of the difference than the difference deserves. We preach the same Gospel. We simply differ in regard to the way God works behind the scenes.

            From what I can see, you have pretty much talked yourself into believing that this is an impossible situation. You have chosen to see me as your enemy, but I am not. I refuse to be your enemy.

        • says

          Bob, you can just invite me to come and preach a Sovereign Grace Awakening series of messages, and we can study John Wesley and George Whitefield together along with Jonathan Edwards who took Whitefield to task for preaching so harshly on the unconverted ministry. In the end both Wesley and Whitefield came to see one another as being likely to be so close to the throne while the one doing the seeing was so far away thqat he could not see the other. A great instance of humility on the part of two men with big egos. We really need some study done on how they managed to work on those differences, and we need to start applying what we learn to our situation.

    • says

      Bob,

      We cannot agree to disagree while seeking to suppress the presence of one side in any aspect of denominational life, whether it be churches, missions agencies (from NAMB church plant to international missionaries), seminaries, other entities, leadership positions, etc. Any attempt to limit the influence of a particular group is not a movement toward unity or amicability.

      • says

        Chris,

        Any attempt to limit the influence of a particular group is not a movement toward unity or amicability.

        What about the effort to exert the level of influence? There are two sides to that coin. Since that is what has already done and continues to take place, then by your own admission there is not going to be a movement toward unity or amicability.

        I think you have adequately echoed the dilemma that I believe we are facing in the SBC.

        One other interesting caveat, in speaking of limiting influence, you are basically saying that my call to limit the influence of calvinism is not a move to unity or amicability; what is interesting is that you are seeking TO LIMIT MY VOICE OF INFLUENCE.

        So by your own definition, you the author of the unity resolution are falling victim to your own charge of disunity. This issue does seem to be a little more complicated than we would like for it to be.

        ><>”

        • says

          Bob,

          You advocate removing people from positions of influence because of their theological persuasion. I’m not aware of anyone else, on either side, seeking things of that sort.

          As for limiting your voice – how so? I have never expressed any interest in reducing your influence or that of other non-Calvinists simply for being non-Calvinists, nor do I want people to stop voicing their opinions.

          • mike white says

            Chris,
            There is at least another who sometimes posts and calls C’s heretics.
            But Bob sometime seems like he wants genuine dialog. And sometimes it seems like he wants to roll over opposition. I take it in the vein that he is sure of what he believes.
            Posting can dry out the moisture and softness of interpersonal communications. I bet in person we would all like him and have a different opinion of his intentions.

          • says

            Mike,

            Thanks for your statement, I think! :) Chris and I did actually meet briefly in NO.

            For the record, I do desire genuine dialogue or I would not bother with this endless exercise. It is not like I do not have many other things to do with my time. I MAKE time to share my thoughts and perspectives because there are actually those who do contact me almost daily thanking me for my position and for making them actually think… (even some who disagree with me.)

            You are correct… posting does change the way we see people’s comments and there are a number of times that I have had to cancel a response that I originally wrote to someone because it was based more on what I heard them say through posts they have previously written… it is like hitting a pitching wedge on a golf course… if I am 10% off it is not that big of a deal because I may have only hit the ball 40 yards or so… BUT if I am on the tee and I blast one 280 yards and am 10% off I am most likely in BIG trouble… we MUST keep things in perspective and give every post and comment some degree of relative attention based on the post and not the impression that WE have of the poster. That is perhaps the most detrimental aspect of blogging. It does change when we associate a face and a person with the dialogue and that is not done in blogging.

            I agree with you that dynamic would most certainly change our perspectives a great deal!

            May God bless us all as we seek to convictionally share our thoughts and our relative responsibilities in this community of believers that we are all apart of.

            ><>”

        • says

          Well, Bob, I have never called form limiting your voice of influence. We have to limit ourselves to a certain degree as the rules of courtesy demand, but, being Baptists, we have to remember our liberty in Christ balanced the way Paul said it should be.

    • Jim G. says

      Guys,

      All the talk of trying to discern Bob’s motives has deflected attention away from perhaps the best articulation of our problem that I have ever read.

      Read Bob’s post again. He is happy with both individual believers and churches choosing their own path. His issue is the entities – those areas that influence others theologically.

      Bob is right: Calvinists and Trads will NEVER agree soteriologically. The only way there will be agreement is if one side surrenders its views and that is not going to happen. We can learn to work together and do so amicably as long as the ordo salutis is not emphasized and one side does not try to marginalize the other. Given the history of this conflict, with its roots in Augustine in the early fifth century, the chances of this happening are mighty, mighty slim.

      I think there are some things that can be done to allow us to work together, but it might be too steep a price to pay for either side. They are:

      1. We must educate ourselves about the various soteriological views and their histories. We must not rely on tired cliches of anti-missions or semi-Pelagian. Those are not true and we must get past them. Similarly, we must stop appealing to Baptist history for proof that one “side” is the heritage of the SBC. Both sides are the heritage. It’s reality. Move on.

      2. We must stop accusing each other of wanting to kick people out. That is a deflection that keeps the real issue out of sight.

      3. This one will be painful for some. Groups that exist to advocate and spread their particular view of soteriology will have to publicly disband in order to promote unity. I’m looking at you, Founders. If there were a similar Trad organization, it would need to be disbanded too. Here’s the reality: as long as such groups exist, real unity is a pipedream, because the threat of sabotage remains.

      4. The Trad Doc needs to be reworked to say what it is for and eliminate what it is against. It is fine to promote what one believes in print. The LBC and NHC are not going away, so the Trad Doc is okay. But it needs to be a careful, well-written articulation of a positive “what we believe” rather than existing to oppose. As long as such antagonistic language is present, real unity is a pipedream.

      5. Bob’s fear, and one I share with him to some extent, is the possibility of only one set of views being presented in our seminary curriculum. For example, I am not aware of a Trad theologian at Southern. Here is a way to prevent indoctrination: have every student read the updated Trad Doc and a similar Calvinistic doc (however that works out) and compare / critique them at some point in the seminary education. Make that a requirement for graduation at some point along the way. At the very least, the student will come away with an understanding of the view with which he/she disagrees.

      6. We must promote theological diversity in seminary hiring. We should not have all-Calvinist seminaries or all-Trad seminaries. I think the AP is a barrier to diversity and should be scrapped. A president or board that will not diversify its faculty should be publicly censured by the SBC. If the SBC is going to be really “big-tent” soteriologically, the seminaries must lead by example. If they continue to circle their wagons, this disagreement will only intensify.

      I think these would help to promote unity in the SBC. Perhaps they are unworkable. Perhaps we are too entrenched. I hope not.

      But we need to hear Bob on this post. He has correctly put his finger on the issue. Deflecting it to judging his motives is unhelpful. Let’s work toward a solution.

      Jim G.

        • says

          Let me amend that: I might be willing to back away if someone in the Statement’s camp would be willing to answer the question of how the Spirit draws a person. The answer to that question determines the accuracy of the semi-Pelagian comparison. So far, I’ve not seen anyone give a substantive answer to the question.

          So:

          When you say the Spirit must draw a person for him to be saved, what do you mean? How does the Spirit draw someone?

          • Bruce H. says

            Chris,

            Here is how I see the Spirit drawing a person to salvation. First, we know it is the Father that draws us to Jesus Christ as it says in John 6:44. Second, we find the method He uses to draw men in Ephesians 2:8 called grace. Grace is defined in Strong’s as “of the merciful kindness by which God, exerting his holy influence upon souls, turns them to Christ, keeps, strengthens, increases them in Christian faith, knowledge, affection, and kindles them to the exercise of the Christian virtues”. Third, we must understand that the grace is embodied by the Spirit which is found in Hebrews 10:29. Grace is not just a word describing a compassionate God, but His very essence infills His favor. I believe it is the Spirit contained in the grace that influences us to come to Jesus Christ for salvation.

            Much more could be said but I tried to keep it short.

          • says

            Bruce,

            Why do you think Ephesians 2:8 refers to what God does specifically in drawing us as opposed to the overall picture of salvation? That is, we are saved by grace, yes, so even his drawing us is a work of grace, but what makes that verse show that grace is his method of drawing us rather than his motivation?

            Grace is not a particular action or methodology, grace describes God doing things for us even when we don’t deserve it. It is one reason for the monergistic understanding of salvation: God does not save me in response to my faith, God saves me even though I have none – thus God saves me solely by grace.

            Also, how do you describe God’s influence on us? In what way does he influence us? What does the Spirit do to influence us to come to Jesus Christ for salvation?

          • says

            Chris,

            You said, “I might be willing to back away if someone in the Statement’s camp would be willing to answer the question of how the Spirit draws a person. The answer to that question determines the accuracy of the semi-Pelagian comparison. So far, I’ve not seen anyone give a substantive answer to the question.”

            I guess the real force behind your position is the “substantive answer as you see it.” A couple guys have done exactly what you asked and apparently their answer was not substantive enough for you.

            I really liked Jim’s five steps… where God takes the initiative in our salvation and anyone of them on their own settles the issue of a man coming to God on his own… and meeting God there…. which is what semi-pelagianism contends. I could be wrong but the general thrust of the s-p charge is one leveled at anyone who does not begin with TD/TI… and that is probably the impasse that no one will be able to cross where you are concerned.

            ><>”

          • Bruce H. says

            Chris,

            We are gazing at a word that has many facets and we are only able to grasp a few. Like God’s manifold wisdom, His grace is also manifold. I think the definition I provided is why I believe grace draws or influences the soul of man. Grace, per Bill Gothard, is, “The desire and power to do God’s will.” Strong’s says, “of the merciful kindness by which God, exerting his holy influence upon souls, turns them to Christ, keeps, strengthens, increases them in Christian faith, knowledge, affection, and kindles them to the exercise of the Christian virtues”

            Defining grace by saying it is “unmerited favor” is like describing a hurricane to be “extreme weather”. You have to live through a hurricane to know it is much more that just extreme weather. You could describe the Super Bowl as a “sporting competition”. There is something about what takes place through the events that I do not think can be described. It is like an opinion, everyone has one. This manifold grace comes from the eternal and cannot be contained in the words of the finite. It is so much more than we can ever describe.

            I also believe the Holy Spirit is in grace when it is given to us. We also live by this same grace. It motivates us. Just like the presence of God causes men to fall on their face (John 18:6), it is grace that motivates and influences us from pre-salvation through the sanctification process. It drives us on when we are weak. Jesus told Paul that His grace was sufficient for him and Paul was glad because grace’s power would be on him. He wanted that grace more than health. Try looking at grace from a different standpoint and see if it is substance rather than an idea. I mean that in a nice way.

          • says

            Bob,

            “I really liked Jim’s five steps… where God takes the initiative in our salvation and anyone of them on their own settles the issue of a man coming to God on his own… and meeting God there…. which is what semi-pelagianism contends.”

            But as I note, what Jim says is what semi-Pelagians would say, so are you conceding that the comparison is accurate?

        • Jim G. says

          That stings, Chris. That really does. I don’t think you realize how much disunity you are bringing when you continue to sling that term around, especially given the number of times people have tried to correct you.

          But as for drawing, it is a work of the Triune God. Not only does the Spirit draw, but also the Father (John 6:44) and the Son (John 12:32).

          So much of the Spirit’s drawing is unknown to us, but to reduce down what I believe we can know in simplicity, I would say the drawing comes through the Word of God. God is present in his Word, and this is the grace of God come to us personally. The Word, when understood, produces faith. There would be no faith absent God’s revelation of himself through the Word.

          Historic SP says we take the first step and God meets us there. In what I have just described, God takes the first step (the Incarnation), the second step (the sending of the Spirit to convict us of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment), the third step (putting us within earshot of the preached Word), the fourth step (allowing the Word to be understood and produce a faith response in us), the fifth step (the Spirit doing his convicting work “of sin, because they believe not on Me”), and I have probably left out lots of steps of which I am unaware. All of this occurs before we consciously do the first thing, namely respond in faith. In short, God has run a marathon before we take a step. This is so far from historic SP that I cannot see how anyone can make the charge.

          Jim G.

          • says

            “Historic SP says we take the first step and God meets us there.”

            Not exactly, not in the way you present it.

            I’d like to hear the Spirit’s work spelled out a bit more. Everything in your comment would be affirmed by a semi-Pelagian. It would take more to make a distinction between what you say and what they would say.

            Let me offer some specific questions:

            1. How does the Spirit convict men of sin – by telling them they are sinners (education), or by making them realize they are sinners (transformation)?

            2. What does God do to put us within hearing of the Word? How much of our will is overcome to ensure we will hear the Word?

            3. What does God do to make us understand, and why is it necessary for God to allow the Word to be understood? Does he change something within us to enable our understanding? Does he give us a right understanding? Are we already capable of understanding and what he does is just to ensure that we hear the Word clearly proclaimed?

            4. What is God’s role in creating our faith? When I choose to believe what I read in the word of God, where does that belief come from? Where does my choosing come from? Did God have to do something in me to make it possible for me to believe?

            As an aside: how familiar are you with historic semi-Pelagian? Why do you say what you say is far from historic semi-Pelagianism? From my own reading, which has drawn from multiple sources, including sources endorsed by Peter Lumpkins and from the earliest semi-Pelagians, I believe they would agree with everything you have said.

            The key in semi-Pelagianism is not that we act before God; that would be ridiculous. Of course they recognized God first sent grace in the incarnation, then in the giving of the gospel, and in the Spirit’s work to call people to salvation. Of course they saw even Scripture as a work of grace and the means of teaching us the way to salvation.

            But they believed that we retain the natural ability to respond to God’s grace without God first having to change anything in us. We are able to have faith in God not because God changes something in us but because God has already created us with free will and free ability to accept or reject, thus we are able to move toward him without him first changing something in us. That is the key point and that is what is meant when short summaries of semi-Pelagianism say they believed humans acted prior to God’s grace, as I’ve noted over and over again, and it’s on this point that statements such as yours are at least consistent with the semi-Pelagian position. Further clarification might distance you from them, and my questions above may help in that regard.

          • Bill Mac says

            Chris: With all due respect, you’re beginning to sound a little like an inquisitor.

          • says

            Chris,

            Part of the problem is with the demands you place on refuting your own personal position. basically your argument is that the position of the supporters of the TS is that “it agrees with s-p here, here and here.” Well that is interesting. I can argue in the same vein that because you have fingers, toes, a nose, ears, 2 feet, 2 legs, and walk upright you are a monkey.

            The similarities in all fairness are only one side of an argument. It is the differences that delineate us. I know you are familiar with logic and the inclusion arguments that distinguish all groups. All circles and squares are objects but that does not mean that all circles are squares… etc.

            One other thing. Why is it that calvinists are so intent on casting names at non’s? I did not appreciate David Dockery’s mentioning of us being Modified Arminians… for much the same reason that we do not appreciate your continued labeling us semi-pelagian. It is as if you purport to know more about us that we know about ourselves. It is demeaning and really unbecoming of a Christian as I see it. I realize there are a mountain of other things that I can be equally guilty of that do the same thing and I will admit that so that you do not have to do so.

            We both know the semi-pelagian charge carries with it the side bar of heresy. Now… it is a fair association to say that semi-pelagianism is heretical… and those who signed and support the TS are semi-pelagian and so the TS supporters are heretical in their theology. Now… I am NOT saying that is your intent but we both know that argument exists and is out there and it is being seen as a reason this senseless charge is being cast.

            So, I simply ask you to reconsider your charge and in the fairness of unity that you have sought to bring to this divide, drop this argument that offers no substantive answer because of your particular theological stance.

            ><>”

          • says

            Bob,

            “The similarities in all fairness are only one side of an argument. It is the differences that delineate us”

            But certain aspects of positions are what is in view. I am a Calvinist even though I disagree with Calvin in some significant areas, but everyone knows what is in view when someone claims to be a Calvinist. When it comes to salvation, the Statement’s position is the semi-Pelagian position.

            “Why is it that calvinists are so intent on casting names at non’s?”

            Because labels are helpful. What puzzles me is why non-Calvinists have such a stubborn refusal to accept any label, no matter how accurate.

            “So, I simply ask you to reconsider your charge and in the fairness of unity that you have sought to bring to this divide, drop this argument that offers no substantive answer because of your particular theological stance.”

            Bob, what you don’t realize is that for me such a request is the same as asking me to turn my back on the truth. It is simple reality that the Statement is semi-Pelagian, no matter how vigorously people deny the charge. You want me to stop saying that 2 = 2 even if I am firmly convinced that 2 = 2. I cannot and will not do that. The Statement is semi-Pelagian and simply insisting that it isn’t doesn’t change this reality.

            Nor does it in any way undermine unity to recognize what something is. It harms the truth to insist that we ignore the truth, but it does not harm unity to recognize the truth.

          • says

            OK…

            My last interaction with you.

            You asked, What puzzles me is why non-Calvinists have such a stubborn refusal to accept any label, no matter how accurate.

            Here is a great answer… because accuracy seems to be relative to the beholder in YOUR eyes.

            Have a wonderful life.

            ><>”

          • says

            You know it’s funny Bob. You claim to be upset that people are mislabeling you and your camp by calling positions you take similar to Semi-Pelagian views. But then when people call YOU out for mislabeling and misrepresenting the Calvinist view, you declare that you are correct and everyone else clearly does not fully understand what Calvinism truly teaches. That smacks of hypocrisy.

          • Jim G. says

            Hi Chris,

            I’ll reply here and then I will let it go.

            I reject the Augustinian-Calvinist synthesis definition of TD/TI. Therefore I doubt that anything I say will satisfy you that neither I nor the signers of the Trad Doc are SP. I can live with that.

            Does God change anything in us? I believe I have answered yes in my post to you. We hear and understand the Word. The Spirit convicts us of our unbelief. If that is not a change, I don’t know what is. Without this work of God in us, faith and repentance, as well as regeneration, do not come. Every step to God is grace-enabled – grace in the sense that it is God’s personal love and favor toward us in his work of reconciliation. If this does not scratch the SP itch, I don’t know if it can ever be scratched.

            But to answer your questions (multiple-part-questions are separated by semicolons):

            1. both – but I don’t necessarily need transformed to realize I am a sinner. I kinda know that already and so does just about everyone else. The key is admitting it.

            2. Whatever he has to; I don’t know – I don’t think we necessarily rebel at hearing the word – remember the parable of the sower. It’s hearing and doing without fainting that seems to beset us.

            3. I don’t know and because the Bible says so; yes – see above; not always – some are Calvinists (j/k); I think we can see in part, but we cannot fully see without his making us able – some of the Bible we can understand and some must be spiritually discerned with the work of the Spirit.

            4. Faith is a response from us – God enables us to have it but it is we who must believe – but “I believe – help my unbelief”; if you believe, then you believe, don’t you?; you; yes – see above.

            I’m going to tell you something as a brother in Christ – this insistence on pushing the SP charge makes you look like someone promoting the worst kind of disunity. I appreciate your earnest desire for truth, but when a brother tells you he is not a SP, shows you multiple standard definitions of SP and shows how none of them fit him, you honestly should drop it if you care about unity.

            Have a great evening.

            Jim G.

          • Christiane says

            CHRIS ROBERTS . . .

            You have asked this: “How much of our will is overcome to ensure we will hear the Word?”

            The Good News doesn’t ‘overcome’ our will . . .

            it is offered to men ‘of good will’

            I think one of the great teachings in the Holy Gospels of Our Lord is that, among men of all backgrounds, are found those who harbor ‘good will’ in their hearts and express it in their lives . . .

            it is still true today . . . among mankind, we will fine those people of ‘good will’ and it is they that Our Lord will recognize as His on the Day of the Lord.

            When ‘good will’ and ‘peace’ are not among a community of faith, it may be that they cannot hear the Voice of Our Lord in their lives.

      • says

        In regards to #5 and 6…

        I am not aware of a Calvinist on faculty at Southwestern. If you demand diversity in seminary hiring , should not you confront all inequity, not just when your “side” is perceived to be at a loss? But you see, you nor Bob look at SWBTS or NOBTS and say “hey thats not fair” in regards to the lack of reformed professors, but you do at SBTS and SEBTS even though in each there are clear cases where your assumptions are not true. My favorite being the accusation that Dr. Ken Keathley out of SEBTS is apart of the Calvinist takeover. If anyone has read his book, Salvation and Sovereignty, you would know why that accusation is so funny.

        • Jim G. says

          Hey Smuschany,

          I don’t think SW or NO should be homogeneous either. That was implied in #6. If that was not clear, I apologize.

          Don’t put words in my mouth about SEBTS. I know SEBTS better than you do. I graduated from there, and I can testify there is a great deal of theological diversity on their faculty. I know Ken Keathley quite well and he is no Calvinist. Perhaps others may have accused things about SEBTS but I didn’t and don’t imply that I did. I have great respect for the people there and I consider many of them personal friends and colleagues.

          If you read my post closely, you will see I said “For example” when I said “I an not aware of a Trad theologian at Southern.” If there are none, that is a problem, just as it would be a problem if there are no Calvinists at SW. Both sides have to make concessions for unity. If that cannot happen, there will be no unity.

          Jim G.

          • says

            So then I would assume you would stand with Dr. Keathley against the, dare I say, slanderous accusations laid towards SEBTS? This accusation (and Dr. Keathley’s reponce) printed in the Baptist Recorder, the state news paper of North Carolina. In the op-ed, SEBTS is clearly impled to be entirely in support of the “Calvinist takeover” agenda. And it is implied that SBC folk need to stop this, and remove basically everyone in charge at SBTS and SEBTS and restore the “true” baptists, ie traditional baptists to power. Dr. Keathley puts the mistake in their place by pointing out the truth of the Faculty at SEBTS as you now affirm.

            The question remains though in that the “traditionalist” camp is more and more making clear that they will not stop until SBC entities are all but purged of any Calvinists, and that the “balence” is restored. I would imagine they would argue that no, they dont want “ALL” Calvinists removed, just that each school only be allowed one or two professors to match the 90-10 claim they see in the SBC as a whole. I would imagine by your post that you would oppose such action? Action that more and more “traditionalists” are leaning towards demanding.

          • Jim G. says

            Hi Smuschany,

            From what I have seen and from my vantage point, I do NOT believe that SEBTS is part of any Calvinist take-over plot.

            I do not believe that any sort of quota ought to be in place for anything. I’m just saying we should promote theological diversity on our seminary faculties. I don’t see any problem with that.

            Jim G.

          • Doug Hibbard says

            Education-wise, I’d be curious to see:

            1. How many SBC pastors have seminary degrees AND

            2. How many SBC pastors have seminary degrees from one of the six.

            Preferably in ration, not raw number.

            Because yes, it would be proper to have a good diversity in professors but that could be a moot point: there are going to be firmly Calvinist and firmly Trad/not-Calvinist schools, and some pastors will steer students outside of the six to hit one of those marks instead.

            No quota is appropriate because we’d end up nit-picking it to death: sure, the history professors are Calvinists, but they won’t hire a Calvinist to teach Theology or, yeah, they’ve got a Traditionalist teaching Hebrew but the NT profs are all 7 point Spurgeonists.

            Seminary education, even if a school’s faculty all leans one way, should cover all appropriate sides anyway. Seminaries are there to teach, prepare, disciple. Not clone.

      • says

        So the views of the Founders of Southern, for example, have no bearing on the matter. Is that right, Jim G? And neither does the views of all of the messengers at the first SBC, who were all Sovereign Grace believers from every thing that can be determined, matter.

  3. Bruce H. says

    Maybe it’s not a method with several steps to accomplish.

    “But when Jesus saw [it], He was greatly displeased and said to them, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God. Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.” Mark 10:14, 15

    Maturity may be described differently in the kingdom. We do not become scholars as we mature, but maybe we become more innocent. We may take on the character of a child, the humility of a child, the curiosity of a child or the heart of a child as we mature in Christ. Maybe the doctrines of Grace become more personal than anything else. The moment I realized that He chose me I cried. That was a very spiritually intimate moment that I return to often. I didn’t get mad at God and say, “Why didn’t you choose him, too? or her?” I can only share that experience with those who have experienced the same thing. We must realize that it is the “manifold” grace of God that we are living under. Where it seems to conflict in time and space it is a single thread in the eternal.

  4. Christiane says

    it has occurred to me that some people imagine that if God were to give choice to mankind, it would take something away from Him . . . but it doesn’t work that way . . .
    He can give men choice, and still retain His full control over the Universe . . . . When He gives to us, it does not diminish Him in any way.

  5. Tom Parker says

    Jim G:

    You said:”Bob is right: Calvinists and Trads will NEVER agree soteriologically. The only way there will be agreement is if one side surrenders its views and that is not going to happen. We can learn to work together and do so amicably as long as the ordo salutis is not emphasized and one side does not try to marginalize the other. Given the history of this conflict, with its roots in Augustine in the early fifth century, the chances of this happening are mighty, mighty slim.”

    Please hear my heart–what you said about seems contradictory.

    If these two sides will not change–somebody has got to go and I believe I know which side that will be.

    I don’t want this–I’ve seen this picture show before and I did not like it or the ending.

    • Jim G. says

      Hi Tom,

      It doesn’t have to be contradictory. Let’s say you and I disagree on eschatology. For the sake of discussion, suppose you are amil and I am premil (please don’t be offended – I’ve just made those up for the sake of an example). If we can agree to work together without letting our eschatological views get in the way of our love for each other and our love for Christ, we can do so even though we have a disagreement. We can learn to truly work together in love even if we do not see eye to eye on a certain issue. We would not need to split if we can put God and others before self – especially what self thinks is right.

      I think Calvinists and Trads CAN make this work, but it will take a real move of the Spirit in all of our lives to do it. We will have to put our individual theological reflections secondary to our love for others and the work of the kingdom. It CAN be done. I don’t know if it WILL be done. History isn’t on our side. But God can do great things through his people when they are obedient. We shall see.

      Jim G.

      • Bill Mac says

        Jim: Isn’t history on our side? Haven’t Calvinists and non-Calvinists worked together in the SBC since the beginning?

        • Randall Cofield says

          Bill Mac,

          Indeed. And the BF&M as been our unifying document for much of that time, with enough room for both camps. The fact some are trying to move away from that document and require more (or less) as the ground of our unity is what is driving this whole kerfuffle.

        • Jim G. says

          Hi Bill,

          They have. It’s just never been quite the fight that it is now as far as I know. It’s not regional; it’s convention wide. The history of this conflict going back 1 1/2 millennia isn’t pretty.

          Jim G.

  6. says

    The original calvinists, Edwards and Whitefield, were the ones in the Awakening (first) who sought to be reconciled with those who disagreed with them. Whitefield sought to do so with Wesley. And Edwards took Whitefield to task for preaching so much against the unconverted ministry, and it led to a change in GW, perhaps the reason behind his raising money to help replace the Harvard which burned up in a fire. That same spirit of flexibility, a liberal type of spirit explains the persuading of General Baptists to become Particular Baptists, and Separates and Regulars to unite.

  7. Hugh says

    Dr Page wrote on working with Calvinists, when he became SBC President in 2006:*

    Calvinism ~ Many people ask me about this issue. I readily affirm my belief in the doctrines of grace, but as I have stated over and over, I believe the doctrines of grace include the issue of free will. I have written a book about this issue. I do not hold to the traditional five points of Calvinist theology. I believe that while salvation will not be universally accepted, it is universally offered and atoned for by our Lord Jesus Christ! I believe that human beings can accept or reject the Holy Spirit’s call for salvation.

    I have made it abundantly clear that I believe that this argument is a family argument. In fact, almost every Calvinist with whom I have spoken has a high belief in the integrity of Scripture. Therefore, I have stated clearly that I will open the table of participation to anyone who (1) has a sweet spirit and (2) who has an evangelistic heart, (3) has a belief in the inerrant word of God, and (4) has strong belief and support in the Cooperative Program.

    * Other concerns included those of selfishness, isolationism, charismaticism, & women in ministry.

    SEE: http://www.sbc.net/presidentspage/frankpage/importantissues.asp