Double Predestination and My Seat at the SBC Table

by Andrew Wencl on July 2, 2012 · 163 comments

I just read an article from Ron Hale on SBC Today dealing with double predestination, called “John Calvin: In His Own Words.” It’s not a very focused article, moving from Calvin’s views on double predestination to an a priori assumption that this view is “monstrous,” to an affirmation of “A Statement of the Traditional Southern Baptist Understanding of God’s Plan of Salvation,” to a call to Southern Baptists to get out from “under the long shadow of a Catholic monk named Augustine.”

My intention here is not to provide a point-by-point rebuttal to Hale’s article, though I am a proponent of so-called “double predestination.” I’d like to look at one paragraph here and comment briefly on our debates about Calvinism within the SBC and a brief word on double predestination. First, here’s what Hale had to say specifically about double predestination:

Calvin is very clear and concise in what he believed. Others have made it sound even more monstrous, while others have used every skill of oratory and written composition to carefully coat this bitter pill with sugariness. Most Southern Baptists have never swallowed this sour pastille. Just reading his words (above) leaves a bad taste in your spirit if you believe the character of God is that of love, mercy, and grace.

Based on this paragraph I’d say Hale has no intention to actually dialogue with Calvinists who hold to double predestination. He may be scoring points with other people who have as much disdain for double predestination as himself, but he’s also insulting anyone who holds that view.

This is one of the problems with our debates about Calvinism and I myself have been guilty of this as well. We have no desire to respect each other’s views or to treat one another with kindness and respect. In one breath we say that we believe the other has a place at the table, yet how many of us would sit through a meal with someone who said your beliefs were “monstrous,” that you were trying to sugar-coat your views, and that they leave a bad taste in the mouth of anyone who believes God is loving, merciful, and gracious? If anything, I’d take that meal to go. And that seems to be the point. Create a rift, emphasize why we can’t be together, and maybe, just maybe, we can insult each other right out of the SBC.

Double predestination might have appeared to be a safe whipping boy, since it’s not the predominant view of the Baptist Calvinists I know. But it’s my view. Let’s leave the bogeyman aside and engage in meaningful and respectful debate. There’s room at the table for Calvinists and non-Calvinists of all sorts. Just don’t sit me next to someone who’s going to insult me throughout the meal. It leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

1 David R. Brumbelow July 2, 2012 at 1:10 pm

Andrew,
First, I happen to agree with Ron Hale’s article at SBC Today.

Second, you will notice that Ron Hale did not call anyone monstrous; he said some see this view as such, or have made it sound monstrous.

Third, many Southern Baptists would look at God creating great numbers of human beings just to condemn them to Hell forever, ones who never had a chance for salvation, ones who Jesus never died for – as a bitter pill to swallow.

Fourth, I commend you on plainly stating your believe in double predestination. Many who seem to believe it, also seem to not want to be plain about it.

Fifth, it seems to many Traditionalists that if one believes in single predestination, then double predestination is also true. In other words, single predestination is double predestination.
David R. Brumbelow

2 Dave Miller July 2, 2012 at 1:19 pm

David, I’m interested in your opinion on something. I try to stay out of these discussions, by and large, because I don’t find them productive.

Isn’t this kind of the reverse of the whole “Semi-Pelagian” controversy with the Document?

When some called the non-Calvinist view “S-P” you and others reacted in horror and offense.

Isn’t this kind of the same thing on the other side? Isn’t Ron doing what you complained about some Calvinists did – painting the other side in negative light?

It seems to me that both sides can look at the other and claim offense.

3 Chris Roberts July 2, 2012 at 1:34 pm

Dave,

But in this case, while those signing the statement have tried to evade the charge of semi-Pelagianism, people like Andrew and myself are willing to embrace the theology of double predestination. The problem is that while I correctly summarized the Statement and showed why it is semi-Pelagian without using language such as “vile”, etc, people like Hale have taken double-Predestination and loaded it with rhetoric, trying to sour people’s views not with biblical argument or actual historical evidence but by calling it filthy and foul and monstrous. These discussions have been approached in very different ways with very different desires for truth and unity.

4 Jim G. July 2, 2012 at 1:59 pm

Hi Chris,

Historically, the same council (Orange) that condemned semi-pelagianism also condemned predestination to reprobation (double-predestination). So appeals to history can be tricky things. Also, you did not conclusively show that the TS was SP utilizing a common historical definition of SP. You used Bavinck, who would also condemn you and me (or come mighty close to it) for simply being Baptists.

If you want unity, try a neutral definition of SP (one that is not Reformed-theology-charged) like the Oxford, or even Weaver. I think either of these historical definitions of SP would exclude the TS. But you seem completely unwilling to acknowledge them.

Jim G.

5 Chris Roberts July 2, 2012 at 2:05 pm

Jim,

I’ll avoid further contributing to a return to the SP debate. :) Suffice it to say, I remain convinced, and Bavinck is only one of many resources that convinced me. The point of my above comment is not to dig up the particulars of the SP debate but to point to the difference in how these arguments have been made.

6 David R. Brumbelow July 2, 2012 at 3:39 pm

Dave Miller,
You ask me,
“Isn’t this kind of the reverse of the whole “Semi-Pelagian” controversy with the Document?”

No, I don’t think so. I’ve not called anyone a heretic, semi-heretic, leaning toward heresy, Pelagian, or semi-Pelagian, Arminian, semi-Arminian, Hyper-Calvinist. I’ve not called any Baptist Calvinists pejorative names like the above.

I have simply disagreed with a certain Calvinist viewpoint. And I’ve shown a little of how others see it.

I would also disagree with your view that I reacted in “horror.” Yes, I believe it is an insult to be called the above when you are a Traditionalist, but I was not horrified. Not much here horrifies me.

I guess we all are guilty of this, but you seem to be much more sensitive to one side than the other.
David R. Brumbelow

7 Bill Mac July 2, 2012 at 2:04 pm

David: This is something I’ve been wanting to insert into the conversation for some time, and your comment seems like a good place to do it.

We’re all troubled by the fact that some are saved and some are lost. Our debates are not among universalists. Why are some saved? Calvinists say election, non-cals say free will, and of course both concepts are biblical.

This is your statement:

Third, many Southern Baptists would look at God creating great numbers of human beings just to condemn them to Hell forever, ones who never had a chance for salvation, ones who Jesus never died for – as a bitter pill to swallow.

It pains me to say this, but there are millions upon millions of people who have never heard the Gospel. They have not rejected it, they have never heard. Before Christ there were people all over the world who never heard of the God of Israel, or the promised Messiah. Since Christ, millions, perhaps billions have lived and died without ever hearing the Gospel. There are, even today, still unreached people groups on the planet who have never heard, and perhaps will never hear.

The bible is very clear that people are saved through the means of Gospel preaching. The unreached are justly condemned for their sins, but they were created, lived, and died having never heard. This is not just a problem for Calvinists. God has, does, and will create people who did not, or will not ever hear the Gospel. How does “whosoever will” apply to them? You can say that Jesus died for the sins of the tribe living in the North American wilderness in AD 34, but how does that help them?

This is a problem for all Christians, not just Calvinists. God creates people He knows beyond a shadow of any doubt will be eternally lost. That they were given free will is little comfort.

8 Jim G. July 2, 2012 at 2:42 pm

Hi Bill,

You are absolutely correct that the fate of the unevangelized is a huge issue for all Christians regardless of soteriological persuasion.

But DP goes deeper and says that many who hear are predetermined not to respond so they can be damned by the free choice of God. The Trads believe such a belief casts aspersions on God’s love for humanity.

Jim G.

9 Chris Roberts July 2, 2012 at 2:44 pm

As with many theological positions, there are different views of double predestination, but offhand I’m not aware of any view currently in the SBC that would say anyone is “predetermined not to respond”. We do not respond because we are sinners. People go to Hell because they freely choose to sin. People are not in Hell chiefly because God decides to send them there but because they decided to rebel against God.

10 Chris July 2, 2012 at 3:37 pm

Chris,

Your view sounds similar to Calvin’s view. Hale’s quote from Calvin is one quote among a host of Calvin’s writings on Predestination–writings that would be examined and referred to if a person were really serious about understanding Calvin on this subject. Calvin made use of the distinction between remote and proximate causation. God is the remote cause of a sinner’s destination in Hell. The proximate cause is the sinner’s own unconstrained and uncoerced (i.e. free) desire to rebel against God; therefore, his damnation is his own fault and responsibility. I also believe in double predestination and have no trouble with the Baptist Faith and Message.

11 Andrew Wencl July 2, 2012 at 3:07 pm

Jim,

The Trads believe such a belief casts aspersions on God’s love for humanity.

Though I don’t want to get into the issue of whether DP is biblical or not, I want to point out that your statement here was true to your convictions but didn’t put off anyone who disagrees. This is the kind of engagement we need to be having in the SBC.

12 David R. Brumbelow July 2, 2012 at 3:58 pm

Jim G.,
I agree. Good perspective.
Double Predestination goes very deep.
David R. Brumbelow

13 Bill Mac July 2, 2012 at 6:05 pm

Perhaps DP does go deep, but could you respond to my comment?

14 David R. Brumbelow July 2, 2012 at 6:30 pm

Bill Mac,
My intention was to say that from my perspective Jim G. (at the moment, comment #8) summed up your question / comment pretty well.
David R. Brumbelow

15 Bill Mac July 2, 2012 at 7:01 pm

The Trads believe such a belief casts aspersions on God’s love for humanity.

Fair enough. My point is similar. Does not God creating persons who will never, indeed can never hear the Gospel cast similar aspersions on God’s love for humanity. Of course I anticipate your answer to be “no”, so I will follow up with a “why not?”

Does not God create persons who, for various reasons, will never hear the Gospel, and therefore are unable to be saved? Is inability of nature really that much more abhorrent than inability of opportunity? Are not both under God’s sovereignty?

16 Jim G. July 2, 2012 at 11:33 pm

You don’t even need me to have the conversation, do you Bill? You sound like my wife. She can have a complete conversation with me without me even being in the room.

Seriously, though, I don’t know how to definitively answer the question about those who never hear (for whatever reason). I do believe some people are saved who do not hear the gospel (babies and the unborn who die), and my biggest reason for thinking so is the mercy and love of God. I do not automatically assume that those who do not hear are damned. They may be, but I’m not God and I don’t know for sure.

A bigger problem, to me, and perhaps not to you, is that, according to DP, some who do have the opportunity to hear God does not want to be saved. We all have the problem of the unevangelized; it seems to me that DP presents a bigger threat to God’s love, because he does not want some to come to him while at least granting the general call to them.

Jim G.

17 Greg Alford July 3, 2012 at 10:01 am

Jim G,

” I do not automatically assume that those who do not hear are damned. They may be, but I’m not God and I don’t know for sure.”

Wow…

Jim, do you believe in the “Inerrancy of Scripture”? If so how can you make such a statement?

18 Christiane July 3, 2012 at 10:38 am

maybe this part of inerrant Scripture is also sacred?

“Mercy triumphs over judgment.”
and we know that God will be merciful to whom He will be merciful . . .

I think you have to de-emphasize much of sacred Scripture to be a fundamentalist who in good conscience judges people to hell because they do not agree with your own interpretations and emphases of Scripture.

19 Bill Mac July 3, 2012 at 11:46 am

Jim:

We’ve discussed this before. I think we both acknowledged that given God’s knowledge of the nature and personality of any given person, He could adjust circumstances in their lives such that they would come to Christ without having violated their free will.

But the plain fact is that He does not do this, or at least not to everyone.

So in one way or another, God does not appear to be willing to do what is necessary to bring about the salvation of all the people He desires to be saved. I don’t know how else we can look at it.

20 Dave Miller July 3, 2012 at 1:27 pm

Christiane, we do not get to choose one scripture over another. Every Bible-believing, gospel proclaiming person believes that mercy triumphs over judgment.

First of all, you are ripping that verse from its context, I believe. But even in the way you use it that God’s mercy triumphs over any desire to hold sinners accountable for there sins – that is false as well.

God’s love is demonstrated in paying the price for our sins with the blood of his son. He did not excuse them or pretend they were not real. He atoned for them in Christ’s death.

So, those who believe are redeemed and forgiven and given new life.

But Jesus told us that those who do not believe are “condemned already because they have not believed.”

The denial of God’s holiness, his righteous wrath and his punishment of sin is a denial of scripture, of the biblical view of God, and of the gospel.

God did not wink at our sin and say, “don’t worry about them.” Our sin was so serious he sacrificed his own son to pay for them. God does not ignore our sin, but he atones for them.

Those who honor God’s Word do not get to pick one verse and say, “I like that one” and use it to nullify another that they do not like.

All scripture is God-breathed and useful!

21 Greg Alford July 3, 2012 at 2:13 pm

Christiane,

“I think you have to de-emphasize much of sacred Scripture to be a fundamentalist who in good conscience judges people to hell because they do not agree with your own interpretations and emphases of Scripture.”

Excuse me! Where do you get all this? (1) I am certainly not a “Fundamentalist”. (2) I have never judged anyone to hell. (3) As a lifelong Southern Baptist I am in full fellowship and cooperation with many, many, many brothers and sisters in Christ who do not agree with me on the interpretations of Scripture…

I have never even suggested that everyone needs to agree with me on anything. What I have consistently done over many years of blogging now is to insist that the Southern Baptist Convention is Big enough for Baptist of all persuasions that can agree to the minimal doctrinal standards expressed in the BFM2000.

Grace for the Journey,

22 Jim G. July 3, 2012 at 2:19 pm

And it’s so nice to feel the love from you, Greg. You have tangled with me before and you know the answer. :0)

Jim G.

23 Greg Alford July 3, 2012 at 2:27 pm

Jim G.

Let me get this straight… If I dare to disagree with you I am (1) a Fundamentalist (2) Judge people to Hell (3) and am not in fellowship with people who do not agree with me?

Nice…

24 Jim G. July 3, 2012 at 2:34 pm

Good grief, Greg! Where does all that come from? I never said any of that to you or anyone else. Do you have me confused with someone? I hope so, because I certainly did not say that to you.

Moreover, I do not deny the inerrancy of Scripture. That is what I was referring to.

Take it easy.

Jim G.

25 Greg Alford July 3, 2012 at 2:37 pm

Jim G.

Sorry, you posted your comment directly under my response to Christiane, who had just accused me of these things…

Grace and Peace,

26 Jim G. July 3, 2012 at 2:46 pm

Okay Greg, I see that now. Thanks for clarifying.

Jim G.

27 Jason G. July 3, 2012 at 11:43 am

Bill Mac made a great comment that was avoided completely as people turned it back to D-P. In fact, no response was ever really given to BillMac’s actual point. Jim G. came close, David B. didn’t even try.

The fact that God creates people that HE KNOWS will go to Hell is indisputable. That is an issue for all Christians, not just calvinists (as is often purported).

The only ways to avoid that reality is to (a) deny God knows the future, or (b) affirm universalism. Traditionalists do neither (and rightfully so).

I guess one could affirm post-mortem offers of the Gospel, but I don’t think I have heard any Traditionalist affirm that either. (Correct me if I am wrong?)

So….

Do “traditionalists” truly want to deny that God creates some people that never hear the Gospel and thus are sent to Hell? (Is that what is meant when it is said “it is a bitter pill to swallow?) If they do not reject that, why is it a bitter pill to swallow to say that God actually creates people knowing they will go to Hell?

Don’t we agree this is definitely the case: God creates people that He knows will go to Hell, those He knows will never hear the Gospel and will never believe.

28 David R. Brumbelow July 3, 2012 at 12:09 pm

No, Jason G., the bitter pill for many Southern Baptists to swallow is the view of some Calvinists that God creates many people, the non-elect, who even if they heard the Gospel, could not accept it. These people never had a chance to be saved, and never will have, even if they hear the Gospel. These people, according to some Calvinists, never had a chance because God never chose them, when He could have, and Jesus never died for them. So they are and always will be hopeless.

Traditionalists don’t accept this view; they believe Jesus died for all mankind and that anyone who hears the Gospel can accept the Gospel. Traditionalists can speak directly to anyone and say, “Jesus loves you and He died for you.”
David R. Brumbelow

29 Jason G. July 3, 2012 at 12:28 pm

David B.,

Thanks for the response. (BTW, it was great to see you again at the SBC. Hope to see you in November.)

I was responding to your statement, when you said: “many Southern Baptists would look at God creating great numbers of human beings just to condemn them to Hell forever, ones who never had a chance for salvation, ones who Jesus never died for – as a bitter pill to swallow.”

I understand your complaint about a calvinist understanding of inability/depravity. My point (and I believe BillMac’s point) was that if your problem is what you stated above, then you have to deal with EVERYONE who has not heard. Those are people God knows will not respond because He knows they will not hear, yet He creates them anyway. They fit within the criteria of your statement.

Is this true? Does God create people that He knows will not believe and thus will go to Hell?

Let’s take election out of the equation completely….does God know perfectly the free choices of man? If he does, then He knows who will and will not reject Him, and if he thus creates those who will reject Him, He is creating them knowing they will not choose Him and will go to Hell.

If you want to attack election or the extent of the atonement, fine. But it doesn’t seem wise to go at it from this angle, because you end up saying more than you want to say or denying things you don’t want to deny (like Jim G. might have done).

30 Jason G. July 3, 2012 at 12:15 pm

OK, it now appears that Jim G. is stating an agnostic view about the destiny of those that do not hear. Is that a position “traditionalists” want to adopt? I don’t think would be the case.

But it is an attempt to deal with the reality of the issue raised above….not a good attempt, or a biblical attempt…but an attempt. It at least recognizes that if God send those who have never heard to Hell, he effectively created people knowing they will go to Hell, a point some “traditionalists” appear to want to deny.

31 Bill Mac July 3, 2012 at 12:20 pm

Jason: I think what I’m hearing (and I appreciate my interaction with Jim) is that creating someone and actively decreeing their reprobation, and creating someone you simply know will be lost are different things. I see their point although I don’t agree. It certainly is no comfort to those in hell.

I think that creating someone you know will be lost is to foreordain their damnation. I simply don’t see any other way of looking at it.

This actually brings up a interesting question: Is it better to have been loved by God, and reject Him, and be lost eternally, than to have never been born?

32 Jason G. July 3, 2012 at 12:35 pm

Yeah, I get the difference, but I just don’t see it as a REAL difference. The end result is the same.

There is an attempt here to ascribe our understanding of morality to the knowledge and choices of God, and that is troublesome to me. The statements that evaluate things which cannot be evaluated and then sit over them in judgment, despite our sinful ignorance, seem quite foolish.

I am simply attempting to show the inconsistency of these positions and hopefully pointing out the foolishness of us sitting in judgment and saying “God can’t do that” or “I can’t worship a God like that”.

33 David R. Brumbelow July 3, 2012 at 2:06 pm

Jason G.,
It was good to see you at the SBC. Wish we had more time there to visit.

I see the two as a big difference. If Jesus did not die for someone in my town, then that person doesn’t have a chance in earth, Heaven, or Hell of ever being saved. Traditionalists believe Jesus died for all humanity (1 John 2:2; etc.) and any person who hears the Gospel at least has the opportunity to be saved. I see this as a big difference, and a real difference.

I agree that both sides have a tough issue with those who never hear the Gospel. That is why both sides need to do all we can to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ throughout the world.

I think Jim G. did a good, concise job above in dealing with this.
David R. Brumbelow

34 Jim G. July 3, 2012 at 2:16 pm

Who is sitting in judgment, Jason? Certainly not I. I told you I did not know. And moreover, if God’s goodness and “morality” does not have some significant correlation to our ideas of these concepts, doesn’t saying God possesses these things lose all real meaning?

I firmly believe that babies who die will be saved. I think most SBs – either Calvinist or Trad – are likely to agree with me. I’m also absolutely certain that they are not able to hear, understand, and believe. So we have a set of humanity that is saved apart from explicit knowledge of and belief in Jesus Christ, unless I am really missing something in the whole science of cognitive human development.

If it is “unbiblical” to hope that God may be merciful to people who are not given a general call, then I plead guilty. I don’t know if he is merciful or not. All the same we are commanded to evangelize. But if I am wrong on this one, it likely won’t be the first time.

If you can make the distinction between single and double predestination, then the least you can do is let me make the distinction between foreknowledge and predestination. What good for the goose is good for the gander.

Jim G.

35 Andrew Wencl July 3, 2012 at 2:31 pm

If Jesus did not die for someone in my town, then that person doesn’t have a chance in earth, Heaven, or Hell of ever being saved.

I guess the difference then is that Calvinists don’t believe their salvation was a matter of chance.

36 Jason G. July 3, 2012 at 5:14 pm

Jim G.

Greetings, my brother from the “G.” Family. :)

I certainly do not believe “hoping” is unbiblical. The problem I addressed as “unbiblical” was this statement: “I do not automatically assume that those who do not hear are damned. They may be, but I’m not God and I don’t know for sure.” If God’s Word is clear, there is no assumption. Those who do not call on the name of the Lord will not be saved…those that do not hear, cannot call on His name. This is Paul’s argument in Romans. No assumption is necessary, and pretending as if it is not clear is not admirable.

This is why I agree with David Brumbelow that we all believe we must take the Gospel to the ends of the earth to all who have never heard. If it isn’t clear what happens to them, then the impetus for world evangelization is diminished. You cannot fall back into an agnostic view of the destiny of the unevangelized…their destiny is clear, thus my use of the term “biblical/unbiblical”.

37 Jim G. July 3, 2012 at 5:36 pm

Hi Brother G,

Maybe we are related.

I want to gently correct you on your post. Paul’s argument in Romans is that “those who call on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (I will abbreviate as C->S, or , “if C then S”)

Now, “those who call on the name of the Lord will be saved” (C->S) and “those who do not call on the name of the Lord will not be saved” [(not C)->(not S)] are two completely different logical animals. They are not equivalent. “not S implies not C” is equivalent to “C implies S” though.

Don’t misunderstand. I do affirm evangelism as much as you or David. But what I do not see is an explicit biblical warrant that says everyone who does not hear and believe will be certainly damned. If that were the case, our theology of infant salvation would need to change drastically. Does this clarify?

Jim G.

38 Bill Mac July 3, 2012 at 5:45 pm

David: I really think you keep skirting the question. To create someone in a time or place or circumstance where it is certain that they will never hear the Gospel, is to foreordain their eternal destruction. You can keep on saying “but DP is different” but please explain to me how it is different.

The more I think about it, the more I am convinced that Cals and NonCals have the same problem: Hell.

39 Jason G. July 3, 2012 at 5:55 pm

Jim G.,

Context context context.

The issue Paul was dealing with was those of his kinsmen according to the flesh who were accursed because they did not belong to Jesus. Chapter 9, regardless of your view of election, makes very clear that there are some who are prepared for destruction. It is the very destruction (damnation) talked about in Chapter 9, that motivates Paul’s statement in 10:1 – “it is my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them that they may be saved”. Saved from what?

You see, “saved from what?” is the key question. If wrath, judgment, punishment, and destruction are not what awaits those who do not believe…then Paul’s words lose weight. It provides the backdrop for “if you confess…and believe…you will be saved” (10:9,10,13). It answers the question: “saved from what?” It helps you understand the “shame” that is avoided by believing on Him (10:11) It is the motivating factor behind taking the Gospel to them in 10:14-15.

Do you honestly believe Paul is communicating to the people that those who do not hear, and do not believe, are not going to Hell? The context of the entire section of the letter makes that painfully clear. Even if we debate aspects of election in Ch.9, this much is very clear: judgment awaits those who do not believe, they need to hear the Gospel – and be called to faith and repentance. What happens if they fail to do so is also very clear.

Now, does that impact a discussion on infants? Sure. Let’s have that discussion. But the context of the passage is people who’s sinfulness has been put on display by their very lives – and they are without excuse. There is no question about the sinfulness of those people who have not heard the Gospel. They are definitely sinners. So, those are really 2 different discussions.

40 Jason G. July 3, 2012 at 6:12 pm

Not only that….

….but if the destiny of the unevangelized is unknown to us, then the WORST thing we could ever do is take the Gospel to them, because if we take the Gospel to them and they do NOT believe then they are definitely going to Hell.

If the argument you are trying to make is that they don’t go to Hell if they never hear or if at best you are saying you don’t know their destiny….then we should definitely not take the Gospel to them and ensure the fate of those who do not believe or cause people to go to Hell who were not going before we took the Gospel to them.

Do you really think that is what Paul is saying in Romans 10? Does that type of theology fit in any way with what the Bible teaches about salvation and taking the Gospel to the nations?

41 Jim G. July 3, 2012 at 6:20 pm

Hi Jason,

If you go back up the chain of comments, do you get the slightest hint that I don’t think we should evangelize – from what I have said?

Since that answer is no, then let’s lay this to rest. We cannot generalize theologically that every single soul that fails to hear the gospel is automatically consigned to hell. That is the reason I have hope – note – I say hope, not certainty, or even reasonable assurance.

And, I believe the Bible teaches that God’s love and mercy is beyond our comprehension. So, unless you can unequivocally show where absolutely everyone who fails to hear the gospel is unquestioningly damned, I’ll hope. :0) But if you show that, there are lots of babies in hell.

Jim G.

42 Jason G. July 3, 2012 at 6:50 pm

Jim G.,

I never made an accusation…so calm down a bit. I simply pointed out how you failed to understand the flow of Paul’s argument and the context of Ch. 10 and drew a poor theological conclusion. That conclusions cannot be supported via that particular text which DOES teach that those who do not believe go to Hell (again, read my post…and re-read Romans 8,9,10)…and leads to some conclusions you may not which to make (thankfully so), but nonetheless destroy the faulty premise you presented.

I did not and will not say you do not want to evangelize (again, read what was actually written)…here’s my point, the fact that you DO wish to evangelize at all undermines the poor position you presented about the destiny of the unevangelized. The fact that you DO evangelize shows that you DO know what happens to those who do not believe, because you instinctively resonate with Paul’s call to take the Gospel to the nations, because deep down you know what happens if people never hear.

That was my whole point, brother. Take a deep breath.

43 Joshua T July 3, 2012 at 6:51 pm

Jim G,

Thank you for addressing what is often a greatly ignored train of thought. That passage in Romans 10 was never meant for a “must hear to be saved” theology. Thank you for being cordial in the discussion.

- Joshua

44 Jason G. July 3, 2012 at 7:09 pm

Joshua T.,

I’m all for drive-by pats on the back and the like…but do you care at all to address my argument to the contrary?

I am curious who all agrees with that line of argumentation. But I am also curious why you ignore the context of Paul’s argument and just jump to an argument from silence. Thanks.

45 Jim G. July 3, 2012 at 10:31 pm

Hi Jason,

Yes, you did make an accusation. You said I was unbiblical. You could have just said “I disagree” and stated your reasons. Instead, you chose to attack my faith and my expression thereof. So, yes, you did make an accusation. Such things are becoming an epidemic in Baptist blogdom. We can’t just disagree on an interpretation anymore. Instead, nearly every attempt to resolve some of of our theological difficulties results in accusations of heresy or “unbiblical” or whatever.

Until you produce for me a plain biblical text or even brief argument that unilaterally shows that absolutely everyone who fails to hear, comprehend, and believe the gospel is damned to hell (which includes babies, the handicapped, and all “heathen” who are not exposed to the gospel, because they cannot “hear”), I will keep hope. If you produce it, I will change my mind.

Jim G.

46 Dan Barnes July 2, 2012 at 1:11 pm

I struggle with double predestination. It’s the logical conclusion to what traditional predestination states, and I see a picture of it in Romans 9, however if we view Salvation History as a meta-narrative, I struggle with this concept. Thank you for your article and helping me think more through this issue.

47 Christiane July 2, 2012 at 1:27 pm

respect that ‘struggle’ you are discerning within yourself over this doctrine,
and pray about it

one thing we know:
the Person of Jesus Christ as revealed to us teaches us about the nature of God more fully than had been known before the Incarnation,

I think we can look at Jesus Christ, and at how He was with people when He was among us,
and we can learn something MORE about God than conjecture on doctrines can ever teach us

look to Christ . . . He teaches us what we need to know about God

48 charley July 6, 2012 at 7:24 pm

My thanks go out to you. This is a rare jewel of insight. If we take it to heart we might stop talking about theology for a while. We might live out our faiths in more authentic ways, in ways that are more impactful, and more fruit-bearing.

49 Matt Svoboda July 2, 2012 at 4:58 pm

As a calvinist I dont struggle with it at all. I stand with JI Packer and a whole lot of calvinists that are infralapsarians. I dont think it is the “logical conclusion.” I think double predestination is an example of people taking a system further than the text actually allows.

JI Packer deals with this issue superbly, imho. If you would like to hear him on it I recommend his lectures on the Puritans that he gave at RTS. You can get them free on iTunesU.

50 Rev Kev July 2, 2012 at 1:33 pm

Andrew, my response is not intended to offend. I sincerely want to help you to understand my position.

When God created man, He endowed him with freedom of choice. This is seen in the Scriptures repeatedly where God urges man to “choose,” “come unto me,” and “open the door” (Josh 24: 15; Matt 11:28; Rev 3:20). While God initiates the call, man may choose to receive or reject God’s offer.

• Adam and Eve were given the choice to obey or disobey God (Gen 2-3).

• God said to Cain, “Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen? 7 If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door” (Gen 4:6-7).

• The “blessings and cursings” of Deut 27-28 were based on the Jew’s free moral agency as a nation: “But it shall come to pass, if thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God…that all these curses shall come upon thee.”

• Jesus said to those who rejected His counsel, “Thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!” (Matt 23:37)

I must conclude, from this small sampling of Scripture, man is responsible for his actions. He has the freedom to obey or disobey. God does not overpower this freedom. God declares “The soul that sinneth, it shall die,” (Ezek 18:20).

Because God endowed man with freedom of choice, we can either go on living life our own way, or we can to honor God’s call with repentance and faith.

Rev Kev

51 Chris Roberts July 2, 2012 at 1:40 pm

Rev Kev,

Thanks be to God that this is not the end of the story! Since no one seeks God (Romans 3:11), no one understands the things of God (1 Cor 2:14), no one does good (Romans 3:12), no one is righteous (Psalm 143:2), etc, etc, then if I am left with my own choice, I am doomed. God gave me choice; I, through my forefather Adam, chose sin and thereby brought corruption on myself so any choice I make will always be for sin. How grateful I am that God did not respect my choice, my natural desire, but took me and gave me a new will so that I would have faith in Jesus.

If it is left to our choice, we are all lost.

52 Dan Barnes July 2, 2012 at 1:55 pm

So how do these things work together. If both are scriptural we must have both, so I think we need to find the truth of what God says by understanding both.

53 Chris Roberts July 2, 2012 at 2:00 pm

We are called to choose, we always choose to reject. For the elect, God changes our wills in such a way that we then choose to cling by faith.

54 Dan Barnes July 2, 2012 at 2:32 pm

I can roll with that, sounds sorta. . . woven. ;)

55 David R. Brumbelow July 2, 2012 at 5:06 pm

Chris,
You said,
“Since no one seeks God (Romans 3:11).”

But what about the Scripture that does speak of man seeking God?
David R. Brumbelow

56 David R. Brumbelow July 2, 2012 at 5:26 pm

I often hear that no one seeks after God. Yes, I agree that is in the Bible. But could it be that is only one side of the coin? Why are verses like the following seemingly ignored by Calvinists?

Deuteronomy 4:29
But from there you will seek the LORD your God, and you will find Him if you seek Him with all your heart and with all your soul.

Psalm 27:8
When You said, “Seek My face,” My heart said to You, “Your face, LORD, I will seek.”

Psalm 69:32
The humble shall see this and be glad; and you who seek God, your hearts shall live.

Isaiah 55:6
Seek the LORD while He may be found, Call upon Him while He is near.

Jeremiah 29:13
And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.

Amos 5:4
For thus says the LORD to the house of Israel: “Seek Me and live;

Hebrews 11:6
But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

David R. Brumbelow

57 Dave Miller July 3, 2012 at 12:04 am

Are not each of those verses directed at those who are already God’s people?

58 Anthony Clay July 3, 2012 at 1:03 am

bingo!

59 Jeff Musgrave July 3, 2012 at 1:43 am

Dave,
I don’t think you can say that is always the case. How would you make that determination. Is this passage directed at “God’s people?”

3 Let not the foreigner who has joined himself to the Lord say,
“The Lord will surely separate me from his people”;
and let not the eunuch say,
“Behold, I am a dry tree.”
4 For thus says the Lord:
“To the eunuchs who keep my Sabbaths,
who choose the things that please me
and hold fast my covenant,
5 I will give in my house and within my walls
a monument and a name
better than sons and daughters;
I will give them an everlasting name
that shall not be cut off.

6 “And the foreigners who join themselves to the Lord,
to minister to him, to love the name of the Lord,
and to be his servants,
everyone who keeps the Sabbath and does not profane it,
and holds fast my covenant—
7 these I will bring to my holy mountain,
and make them joyful in my house of prayer;
their burnt offerings and their sacrifices
will be accepted on my altar;
for my house shall be called a house of prayer
for all peoples.” – Isaiah 56:3-7

They are called foreigners and are said to have “joined themselves” to the Lord. How would that fit the theory?

60 David R. Brumbelow July 3, 2012 at 8:53 am

Cornelius sought God before he was “God’s people,” before he was a Christian (Acts 10).

Some of the verses above actually seem to be speaking to the non-saint or could apply either way.
David R. Brumbelow

61 David R. Brumbelow July 3, 2012 at 9:04 am

For more Scripture on men seeking after God, see:
http://gulfcoastpastor.blogspot.com/2012/07/no-one-seeks-after-god-or-do-they.html

I think this is another example of how many Calvinists emphasize some Scripture, and neglect others.
David R. Brumbelow

62 Jason G. July 3, 2012 at 5:23 pm

David,

Certainly you recognize the irony of you saying that “some calvinists emphasize some Scripture, and neglect others”.

If you say the equivalent of “yes, but” to scripture, as you did with regard to Romans 3…you are doing the exact same thing.

Now, I would say that most of us are able to synthesize these verses into a coherent understanding of Scripture’s teaching on man’s seeking. Asserting that calvinists minimize those verses is not the same thing as proving they do.

Now, I would give you a little hint for the purpose of understanding the context of these verses. Which of all those verses listed are specifically addressing the salvation of sinners through the finished work of Christ? Given that is the context of this discussion of “seek”…that question is very important. You don’t just look at the word “seek”, you have to look at the context of who is seeking and what they are seeking. That isn’t minimizing anything, that is basic hermeneutics.

63 Christiane July 2, 2012 at 1:47 pm

I think of Christ’s sacrifice . . . the second Person of the Holy Trinity, God,
incarnate, willingly offered Himself in our place out of great love,
and I can’t see Him creating any life and sustaining its existence, as He does all life, with the SOLE purpose of seeing it suffer for all eternity.

I can appreciate paradox, but I cannot look to Christ and see a Person Who determines the creation of a living soul for the designated purpose of eternal damnation.

Satan roams the earth looking to destroy the souls of men and disrupt the work of God and the order of God’s Creation . . .
I must ask,
what is the role of satan considered to be in double predestination?

64 Andrew Wencl July 3, 2012 at 6:50 am

Satan “kills, steals, and destroys.” He intends to keep us bound up by sin and lost in darkness. Don’t forget that most self-proclaimed Calvinists would agree with William Carey that God ordains not only the end, but the means.

Also, and I realize you would interpret this verse differently, but reprobation isn’t for the sole purpose of seeing a soul suffer for all eternity, but “in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory.” (Rom 9:23).

65 charley July 6, 2012 at 7:28 pm

Yes, Calvinism seems to conflate God with the Devil, but God wishes no one to suffer and die. He would have everyone come to the truth and live forever. That he permits all kinds of evil is incontrovertible. That he condones it or accomplishes it himself is to inaccurately describe what happens. And that’s why I believe God’s sovereignty must be taught in a thoroughly careful and balanced way.

66 Les Prouty July 2, 2012 at 1:54 pm

I appreciate this article. I too hold to DP.

But what I’d like to hear from those who don’t and/or are supporters of the trad doc, is for you to respond and interact with the point of this post. That is, the manner in which Ron Hale presented his post. Not so much ducking it out over DP.

67 Jim G. July 2, 2012 at 2:01 pm

Duck!!! – sorry, couldn’t resist.

Jim G.

68 Les July 2, 2012 at 3:39 pm

Duck. That was a good one. “Duking” it out. Even that looks funny.

69 Doug Hibbard July 2, 2012 at 4:24 pm

Duking?

I thought this was about John Calvin, not John Wayne.

70 Ron Hale July 2, 2012 at 2:28 pm

Andrew,

Thanks for your post and mention of my series and first article.

You said:

Based on this paragraph I’d say Hale has no intention to actually dialogue with Calvinists who hold to double predestination. He may be scoring points with other people who have as much disdain for double predestination as himself, but he’s also insulting anyone who holds that view.

71 Ron Hale July 2, 2012 at 2:33 pm

Andrew,

Sorry something happened in my last post it was unfinished, you said,

“Based on this paragraph I’d say Hale has no intention to actually dialogue with Calvinists who hold to double predestination. He may be scoring points with other people who have as much disdain for double predestination as himself, but he’s also insulting anyone who holds that view.”

I would like to encouage your readers to go to your former website at SBC Impact and read our dialogue on April, 4, 2011; I think you gave the link. They many judge for themselves.

Also, I would encourage your readers to go to the B21 blog (baptisttwentyone.com) and read Jon Akin’s comments concerning DP being a “miniority position, almost certainly an extreme position.”

Last, i would invite your readers to …. read my full article, especialling John Calvin, in his own words.

Many Blessings!

72 Chris Roberts July 2, 2012 at 2:47 pm

Ron,

When people hear double predestination, it usually brings to mind something not held by most people who hold to double predestination. I’m not sure of the particulars of Calvin’s view; you posted two sentences from him, hardly a strong analysis of just what he meant. But I do know what I mean when I say I believe in double predestination: God chose to save these, God chose not to save those. God chose to take this person out of his sin, God chose not to take that person out of his sin. What condemns a person, first and foremost, is not God’s sovereign choosing, but the individual’s sin and rebellion.

I would imagine what Jon Akin refers to as the extreme position is what you likely have in mind when you speak of double predestination: the idea that people are in Hell not chiefly because they sin, but chiefly because God chose to send them there. Offhand, I don’t know anyone who holds this view.

73 Jim G. July 2, 2012 at 3:06 pm

There are two flavors of double predestination, theologically.

1. Infralapsarian double predestination (IDP): I think this is what both Chris and Andrew hold (correct me if I am wrong). In this view, God sees humanity as sinful (in Augustine’s words, a mass of perdition), and actively chooses to elect some out of said mass to salvation and actively chooses to reprobate the rest. In IDP, humanity is already a mass of perdition anyway, so the active decree to reprobate works itself out in the sin already present in humanity. There is also Infralapsarian single predestination (which is probably the majority opinion of SBC Calvinists) that only holds an active decree to elect; the non-elect are passed over and left in their sins.

2. Supralapsarian double predestination (SDP): This view holds that God decreed to both elect and reprobate logically prior to decreeing/permitting the fall. In other words, it is the decree of God and not his sins which condemns a man ultimately, because in SDP, there is no humanity as a “mass of perdition.” That comes later. I don’t know of any SDP Calvinists in the SBC, but I think I am accurate in saying that James White of Alpha/Omega is a modified supralapsarian. There is no such thing as a supra-single-pre. They don’t exist.

In my opinion (and I’m not alone), Calvin was a SDP, while Augustine was an ISP.

Hope this helps.

Jim G.

74 Chris Roberts July 2, 2012 at 3:17 pm

I wondered how long until infra/supra showed their heads. :) I just thought it would be a Calvinist who brought it up!

I’ve listened to J. I. Packer lecture on this debate, and he believes Calvin was infra, though he says Calvin was around before the infra/supra debate and his statements shouldn’t be taken as arguments either way since he wasn’t thinking in those terms.

In my view, I think the infra/supra debate is far too speculative. There are things we can say about predestination based on what the Bible already tells us, but I think the classic infra/supra debate pushes further than the Bible permits. What did God decree first? I have no idea, God doesn’t tell us.

75 John Wylie July 2, 2012 at 3:23 pm

Chris,
You and I would disagree on a lot of things but I certainly agree with you here. Quite frankly I never understood this whole order of decrees thing. I mean with an omniscient God this whole discussion of order seems silly.

76 Andrew Wencl July 2, 2012 at 3:23 pm

Jim,

Actually, I’m supralapsarian. It’s kind of like the dark side of the force. But I’m really a nice guy though. ;-)

77 Jim G. July 2, 2012 at 3:25 pm

Thanks for the correction. I did explain you fairly, though, didn’t I?

Jim G.

78 Jim G. July 2, 2012 at 3:24 pm

Hi Chris,

I’m using infra/supra a little differently here. I think they can be properly tied to anthropological positions. Let me explain.

“Infra” sees humanity as sinful and acting out the consequences of their own sinful tendencies. In infra, people go to hell because they are sinners.

“Supra” does not necessarily see humanity as sinful (They do, of course, but it is not necessary for their theological constructs) in order to be condemned. Reprobation is the decree of God. That is ultimately what causes someone to go to hell.

In the end, I want to say that infra and supra are not tied so much to the (overly) speculative order of decrees as they are to a basic orientation to theological anthropology. Infras and supras see humanity differently, and that is not so speculative. Does that make sense? I got this from John Fesko, and I think he is on to something.

Jim G.

79 John Wylie July 2, 2012 at 3:29 pm

Jim G.,
That’s interesting I never have looked at the supra vs infra topic quite that way. Based on your definitions I would still have to disagree with both views. Jim I really appreciate your contributions to the conversations I read on this blog. You’re scholarly yet not arrogant.

80 Andrew Wencl July 2, 2012 at 3:42 pm

Jim,

“Supra” does not necessarily see humanity as sinful (They do, of course, but it is not necessary for their theological constructs) in order to be condemned. Reprobation is the decree of God. That is ultimately what causes someone to go to hell.

If that’s the definition we’re using, I’d have to retract my statement about being supralapsarian.

81 Andrew Wencl July 2, 2012 at 3:03 pm

Ron,

I think you’re referring back to my previous post because of my charge that you have no intention of dialoguing on this issue. I did not mean to say that you never did nor would, but rather that your article, as it stands, is not a good faith attempt to dialogue with Calvinists of that persuasion. Unless of course you tell everyone who disagrees with you that their views leave a bad taste in the mouth of anyone who believes God is loving, merciful, and gracious.

Also, I’m not sure what your point is about double predestination being a minority position. Are you saying that you chose the language you did because you figured most readers wouldn’t be offended by uncharitable language directed at such a minority position? If your main disagreement is with Calvinists, why focus your efforts on such a minority position?

82 charley July 2, 2012 at 5:30 pm

Yes, it’s true Calvin was modified later on. Some became more extreme and others less so. Others misinterpreted him. That’s another matter.

83 Steve Martin July 2, 2012 at 2:46 pm

Predestination is Biblical. Double predestination is not. For “God desires that all men come to Him.” And Christ died for and forgives all men (people). He “died for the whole world”

We get to these unbiblical doctrines and beliefs when we try and resolve everything according to ‘our reason’.

This is Biblical; when we are saved, God gets ALL the credit. When we are lost WE get ALL the blame.

84 Chris Roberts July 2, 2012 at 2:52 pm

Steve,

Since it had to come up at some point in this discussion, I’ll go ahead and ask… what do you do with Romans 9:18-24 where Paul speaks of mercy for some individuals and not for others, God’s plan to use one vessel for honor and another for dishonor?

85 Steve Martin July 2, 2012 at 4:16 pm

Chris,

I don’t do anything with it. I let God be God. He will save whom He will save.

But I do not want to paint God as the One who sends people to hell because He wants to. He does it out of justice after we have rejected Him.

God died for all, and He forgives all. It is us who are hell bent on rejecting God. It is God who saves some.

Our focus is on the gospel and that Christ died for all sinners. Then we can tell people with a straight face that “He died for you”, and be truthful about it. And God will use that gospel Word to create faith in whoever hears it (whoever REALLY hears it).

We are not in the business of creating doubt when it comes to who is saved and who is not. Or sending people places where they ought not go for assurance of their salvation…such as to themselves and their feelings of being saved, or their “good fruits, or thier…whatevers.

Thanks, Chris.

86 Chris Roberts July 2, 2012 at 4:21 pm

Steve,

But when God describes himself and his actions in ways you don’t like, you…? What does that passage mean? God has given us his Word, he means for us to understand it. We don’t have to understand all of it with the same degree of comprehension (I still don’t know what to do with much of Revelation), but the challenge for understanding is still there. It seems a bit ill advised to say a doctrine like double predestination is unbiblical without being able to explain why one of the supporting Scriptures means something other than what it says!

87 Steve Martin July 3, 2012 at 1:26 am

What does the passage mean that “Christ Jesus died for the whole world”? That He forgives all on the cross?

THIS is what we concentrate on. Yes, God predestines. The Bible says it, and we believe it. But we don’t want to make God into a monster and rob people of their assurance by making them wonder if they are of the elect…or not. We leave that counter-productive stuff to the Calvinists.

“Christ died for…YOU!” That is our message. And then we let God be God and do as He will with whom He saves and whom He does not.

The biggest reasons that I am a Lutheran are freedom (from the religious/ladderclimbing project…and because I have real assurance in the external Word.

Thanks, Chris.

88 David R. Brumbelow July 2, 2012 at 4:38 pm

Chris,
You asked Steve, “what do you do with Romans 9:18-24 where Paul speaks of mercy for some individuals and not for others, God’s plan to use one vessel for honor and another for dishonor?”

Adrian Rogers made some interesting comments about Romans 9.

On Romans 9 and Jacob and Esau;
“God is not talking about two little babies, one born for Heaven and one born for Hell. That’s not what He is saying at all. This is national, not personal.”
Later, “God was not talking about salvation. He was simply saying that Israel is going to be His choice, and the descendants of Jacob are going to be His spiritual leaders in the world…Nothing is said here about one twin going to Heaven and the other twin going to Hell.”
-Adrian Rogers, Predestined For Hell? Absolutely Not!; lwf.org

On the Scripture,
“The vessels of wrath fitted to destruction.”
“Well, how did they get ripe for destruction? In his word study, Vincent reminds us that this is the middle voice, which means simply that they fitted themselves for destruction. It is not the potter than fits them for destruction. It is the potter who is long-suffering. It is the vessels of wrath who fit themselves for destruction. God never made anybody to go to Hell. God wants people saved. He wants you saved. First Timothy 2:4 speaks of ‘God who will have all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of truth.’”
-Adrian Rogers, ibid.
http://gulfcoastpastor.blogspot.com/2011/08/adrian-rogers-on-predestination.html

David R. Brumbelow

89 Chris Roberts July 2, 2012 at 4:43 pm

That rather stretches the meaning behind God being the potter, but that’s the sort of thing I was looking for. At the least, could you acknowledge that it is understandable why some people would read Romans 9 and come away with a double predestination understanding?

90 David R. Brumbelow July 2, 2012 at 4:59 pm

Chris,
You asked,
“At the least, could you acknowledge that it is understandable why some people would read Romans 9 and come away with a double predestination understanding?”

Yes, I understand how some people could have a misunderstanding of Romans 9.
Hey, this shows the harshness of the written word – if I said that to you face to face, I think we’d both be laughing right now.

But I do think Adrian Rogers had it right.
David R. Brumbelow

91 charley July 2, 2012 at 4:44 pm

Very good! I believe Paul’s using an illustration to make a broader point. This is one example of a text that has perhaps been read in the wrong light. “Jacob have I loved, Esau have I hated” seems to relate to national election, and we would of course have to explain what that means which would invite another discussion.

92 dr. james willingham July 4, 2012 at 1:54 pm

Long before Adrian wrote and preached whathe did about Predestined for Hell? Absolutely Not, John R. Rice wrote a tract of a number of pages in length.. I have a sermon on Roms.9:13, which Adrian addressed in what you have cited. The Hardest Text in The Bible is an invitation to salvation, to take God on His terms. We are invited to receive God who 1. does not think like we do. 2, does not love like we do.(the really strange part of the text is how he could love Jacob). 3. does not act like we do. The thing to note in the hate is to lay it along side of how God treated Esau. He made him the first born (the highest honor of all in a Jewish family), he was family priest, so to speak, he was the family leader, he prospered him greatly, and Esau is the one man we know of for sure who had more than enough (he said to Jacob, I have enough, and Jacob pressed his gifts on him and he took them. So we know he is the one man who had more than enough. God is seen as bestowing many spiritual privileges upon Esau. What was Esau’s response. As the Bible says in Hebs. 12, he was a profane man. He trampled them under foot. John Gill said, “God treats the wicked so well that no one in his right mind will condemn God for sending them to Hell, seeing how they repaid His good treatment.”

Wonder how Silas Mercer, father or grandfather to Jesse Mercer, would have felt, in view of the fact that he wrote:
“Therefore we believe it to be the duty of every Gospel minis-
term to insist upon this soul comforting, God honoring doctrine
of Predestination, as the very foundation of our faith.”
and
“We cannot see how the plan of salvation can be supported
without it. And we believe it to be a doctrine which God gen-
erally owns and blesses to the conviction and conversion of
sinners, and comforting of his saints.”
Church Letter, 1787, Georgia Baptist Association

http://baptisthistoryhomepage.com/1787.ch.Itr.s.mercer.html

93 Chris July 2, 2012 at 3:52 pm

Calvin based his double predestinarian views upon exegesis. As a sixteenth-century humanist scholar, he was not a big fan of relying upon reason rather than Scripture when it came to his theology, although he did make use of philosophical distinctions to help explain what he believed to be the plain teaching of Scripture. I believe the same thing as a double predestinarian.

94 charley July 2, 2012 at 4:46 pm

Yes, and a very astute observation made before is that Calvin was a lawyer. I think that says much about his approach.

95 Chris July 2, 2012 at 5:17 pm

What does it say?

96 charley July 2, 2012 at 5:19 pm

That he thought like a lawyer.

97 Chris July 2, 2012 at 5:30 pm

What did an expert in canon law think like in the 16th century, and how would this show up in one’s exegesis? More than an astute observation, to say Calvin was a lawyer is an easy way to dismiss his views without engaging them.

98 Nate July 2, 2012 at 2:47 pm

It always comes back to the man on the island, doesn’t it? So does the man on the island, by his own free will, reject the God that created him, even though he never heard the gospel? Or, does God create jars of clay, by His Sovereign Will and chooses to do with them as He pleases? We can’t have it both ways.

If the man on the island rejected God by his own free will, without hearing the gospel, then he understands he is damned without God, yet Romans is very clear that He doesn’t even know he is damned, though he can see the creation and should know it.

Our problem, it seems, is when we speak of the person who actually hears the gospel and rejects it (or accepts it). Was it by their Free Will, or by the Sovereign act of a gracious God who, by the power of the Holy Spirit, convicted their hearts to repent and believe. Was it by their Free Will that they chose to deny God’s offer of salvation, or was it that God blinded them to never hear or see (Matthew 13:10-16). At least for these Pharisees it seems it was the ordained plan of God.

99 charley July 2, 2012 at 5:20 pm

That he sought to build an air-tight system, something the Bible doesn’t really lend itself to.

100 charley July 2, 2012 at 5:37 pm

Chris, I spent so much time in Calvin it’s not even funny. He’s one person I’ve engaged! No, I think he was trying to do something similar to what Acquinas did, but with far less emphasis upon reason and with a much greater view to logical systematization. He created a Protestant “Summa.” But he was a lawyer and that influenced how he approached Scripture. He builds his case like a lawyer with clarity and great precision. I just don’t think the Bible sounds that way. It’s a collection of books written from different genres with an overall message or story. But it’s not a classic system, which goes back to the Greeks who loved system-building. It’s the Word of God and as such is of another order.

101 Chris July 2, 2012 at 5:41 pm

You haven’t read Calvin have you? Again as a sixteenth-century humanist, not a twenty-first century American lawyer, he was extremely wary when it came to reason and theology. He sought to speak only what the Bible speaks, no more and no less. He taught double predestination because he believed it to be the plain teaching of Romans 9 and 1 Peter 2. By the way, what system did Calvin teach?

102 charley July 2, 2012 at 5:46 pm

I still say, the whole thing seems awfully goofy. Can you picture the early church talking like Calvin? Can you picture them having the kind of theological conversations Calvinists have been having for the last 500 years, roughly? It just doesn’t make any sense. I agree he was wary of reason. I agree he was not like a lawyer today. But I do think that, as a lawyer at any time-period, he sought to build a case in a logical way. To connect the dots so that everything gets resolved. The Bible does not seem to be that way. It says things that sometimes leave us asking questions and speculating. It doesn’t seem to resolve it all. Calvin brought a kind of finality to all questions that seems foreign to Christianity.

103 charley July 2, 2012 at 5:53 pm

Honestly, Calvin believed things we would never countenance as Baptists. He practiced persecution and the death penalty for heresy. He called for a sort of combination of church and state. He was strict beyond belief–he almost died from malnutrition and had to be coaxed to eat in order to regain his health. And don’t think he was the type you could just strike up a conversation with–he was no good Joe to go fishing with! This was a very hard man!

104 Chris Roberts July 2, 2012 at 6:00 pm

Depends what you mean by the early church. Read some of their debates – I’d say they put Calvin to shame!

105 charley July 2, 2012 at 6:08 pm

Then they were most certianly wasting their time.

106 Job July 2, 2012 at 3:07 pm

“Southern Baptists should not be paralyzed by the medieval mêlée of two Presbyterians living under the long shadow of a Catholic monk named Augustine. The time has come to tear down that wall by forging a new Baptist consensus centered on Jesus Christ and the Gospel that is the power of God unto salvation!”

What does this statement do but demand that Calvinistic Baptists abandon their beliefs? And how can any “dialogue” take place when the starting position of one side is for the other side to surrender? Also, to echo a frequent point of mine, how is it that the traditionalists can thoroughly shred the Reformed Baptist view on one hand and claim that they, their views, the SBC etc. are being attacked when Calvinistic Baptists critique the traditional view?

Also, enough with the “Presbyterians versus Baptist” thing. There have been Calvinist Baptists since at least 1630, and Calvinist Baptists produced their first statement of belief as early as 1644. So why the need to be totally dishonest – and yes it is dishonest – and attempt to associate these doctrines with Presbyterianism after almost 400 years of Baptist history? Why do the traditionalists focus on John Calvin and the Synod of Dort and not Bunyan, Spurgeon, Carey, Gill, Boyce, Dagg, Strong or anyone else in the nearly 400 years of Calvinistic BAPTISTS? I guess for the same reason that Acts 29 (whom I do not support by the way) and its 400 churches (most of whom are not SBC) somehow poses some threat to an SBC that has 44,000 churches.

How can there be a table when people at it absolutely refuse to interact with the facts of history because those facts are inconvenient?

107 David R. Brumbelow July 2, 2012 at 4:04 pm

Job,
You might want to check again about Bunyan. I don’t think he was a 5-pointer; didn’t believe in Limited Atonement.
David R. Brumbelow

108 Job July 2, 2012 at 6:41 pm

@David:

Some say that he didn’t believe in particular redemption, others say that he did. Based on my own reading of Bunyan, my belief is that he did in fact believe in particular redemption.

109 dr. james willingham July 6, 2012 at 11:47 pm

I have Bunyan’s work, and I think he was calvinist, likely all five points.

110 Andrew Wencl July 2, 2012 at 3:35 pm

Job,

Both Calvinists and “traditionalists” often get what they dish out. Although it sure feels like us Calvinists are trying to defend the valididty of our existence within the SBC much more than the traditionalists, but that means its even more important to hold out the olive branch and embrace fair and good-natured discussions.

Reacting to offense with offense isn’t the best way to dialogue. Check out my post on regeneration and the BF&M and you’ll see what I mean.

111 Job July 2, 2012 at 4:43 pm

Andrew:

I am not reacting with offense. I am asking why the traditionalists play the Presbyterian card, and in the process throw 400 years of Baptist history out the window. It is not just in soteriology either. It is also the “we are from the free church tradition of the Anabaptists, you are of the state church tradition of the Presbyterians … only congregational polity is Baptist, elder-led polity is Presbyterian” stuff. It is 100% false. Pointing out that it is false – and asking directly about the motivations for presenting distorted and untrue information – is not reacting with offense.

There should be no discussions on theology until the traditionalists stop purposefully misrepresenting Baptist history. And there is a good reason for that: Calvinistic Baptist theology differs from Presbyterian theology. So what does that make the claim of living under the shadow of Presbyterians? Also his call to forge a new Baptist consensus … why pretend that such hasn’t been done already, as if General Baptists and Particular Baptists didn’t forge that consensus 400 years ago? If such a consensus hadn’t already been forged, then why didn’t the Calvinistic Baptists that used to dominate the SBC expel the non-Calvinistic Baptists from the SBC? If Calvinistic Baptists didn’t claim that non-Calvinistic Baptist beliefs weren’t Baptist then, then why are non-Calvinistic Baptists advancing that case regarding Calvinistic Baptists now?

Allow me to restate: insisting that the traditionalists deal with history rather than omissions and inventions is not reacting with offense.

112 Bob Cleveland July 2, 2012 at 3:38 pm

I don’t really much care about double predestination, as that concerns what God was thinking when He set about making man, and I can’t begin to begin to begin to comprehend that. What I can comprehend is God’s absolute sovereignty over all things and His absolute ability to do whatever He chooses and the absolute inability and lack of authority or position of anyone or anything to challenge that.

I think there is something in us that wants to disagree with any characteristics of God that we cannot identify with, particularly like pre-destining someone to eternal damnation. But God absolutely has the authority and the position and the right to do that and if that is how He operates, He is right to do so. I suppose the fact that we feel sorry for those who never have a shot at being saved is a good trait, in our defense, so I guess it’s really OK. As long as we don’t get to lobbing rocks at each other over it.

It also helps to realize that, if some are pre-destined to eternal damnation, they never want anything else. They don’t want salvation. They’ll want nothing to do with God and Jesus. They’ll love their sin and be just fine with it.

As to the heathen in Africa, I’m firmly convinced of one thing: God has revealed his invisible attributes in the firmament. He said so. The minute that guy see that, in the firmament, and desires to know that Entity that has revealed Himself in the firmament, I believe God takes the next step in revelation, and so long as the lost heathen keeps following God’s revealing of Himself, the good news of salvation will reach that man.

I’ve seen too many cases of how that happens, like how missionaries deciding where to go, to believe otherwise. And I don’t think we get the credit for that part of spreading the gospel, anyway.

113 Bill Mac July 2, 2012 at 3:42 pm

I agree with John that it is the fact of God’s complete omniscience and exhaustive foreknowledge that makes the whole issue perplexing. God loves and desires the salvation of all men, and yet God creates a world such that He knows the majority of all humans will reject Him and be lost. God does not hope people will be saved, whether he actively decrees it or not. He does not risk, He does not try. Concepts like that are rendered meaningless by omniscience.

Open Theism is biblically untenable, but I see the allure of it. It seems to me that only open theism gives people the God they want, the all loving, wanting everyone saved but risking a lot by giving everyone free will, trying His best to save as many as He can type of God. But non-Calvinists don’t have that type of God.

It seems to me, whatever the faults may be in Calvinistic theology, the one main difference between Calvinists and non-Calvinists is that Calvinists have swallowed the bitter pill of exhaustive foreknowledge more completely than their non-Calvinist brethren.

114 Jim G. July 2, 2012 at 4:08 pm

Hi Bill,

In the interests of full disclosure, I am not an open theist. But I will say that omniscience does not render terms like “risk” meaningless.

This is a very complex situation we are trying to understand, here. Simplistic answers always fall short in that they do not account for all the complexity. Any model of providence that omits a large chunk of the complex data should be reworked or discarded for a better model.

I think open theism “risks” taking too much sovereignty away from God. I also think the Augustinian-Calvinist determinist synthesis risks the love of God and created freedom. I think both models are honestly too simplistic to explain all the data. I can back this up, but I don’t want to write for 5 hours straight. :0)

Jim G.

115 David R. Brumbelow July 2, 2012 at 3:43 pm

I’ve heard many Calvinists deny that Calvinists believe in double predestination, and that by saying such it shows non-Calvinists or Traditionalists don’t understand Calvinism.

I’m glad to see a couple of Southern Baptist Calvinists who actually say they believe in double predestination.
David R. Brumbelow

116 Chris Roberts July 2, 2012 at 3:50 pm

David,

But can you tell me what I mean when I say I believe in double predestination? What is it I believe about predestination?

I’m curious if a traditionalist has read my words, taken me seriously, and believes that I believe what I say I believe; or, if traditionalists will rely on straw men when they refer to double predestination. So from what you have heard me say, what do you think I believe about double predestination?

117 Andrew Wencl July 2, 2012 at 4:05 pm

David,

I’d like to clarify that I don’t speak for “Calvinists” when I say that I believe in double predestinatination. Calvinists don’t necessarily believe in double predestination, and as has been pointed out already, it is actually a minority position. It’s not tennet of Calvinism and it’s not addressed in TULIP.

Also, if seeing people come out and say they believe in double predestination makes you glad, I’d love to make your joy complete. ;-)

118 John Wylie July 2, 2012 at 4:11 pm

Andrew,
I agree double predestination is not addressed in TULIP but would you say that it would be a natural conclusion that could be arrived at from a belief in both total depravity and unconditional election? BTW I hold to total depravity but not unconditional election.

119 Andrew Wencl July 2, 2012 at 4:23 pm

John,

I don’t think many natural conclusions are all that natural given the disparity between the number of people who hold X but don’t hold to X’s “natural conclusion,” Y.

120 David R. Brumbelow July 2, 2012 at 4:18 pm

Chris and Andrew,
I’m fairly confident that whatever definition of Double Predestination I would give would be denied.

You both have affirmed it. Why don’t you give your own brief, concise definition of Double Predestination?

My point as stated above is that Calvinists (not all) have charged “straw man” and that Calvinists don’t believe that, when Double Predestination has been brought up. I fully recognize there are 347 different kinds of Calvinism. I just find it interesting that at least some Calvinists do actually believe in Double Predestination, and say it.
David R. Brumbelow

121 Chris Roberts July 2, 2012 at 4:22 pm

David,

I believe in the discussion we *have* given our definitions. What I’m curious about is whether or not you were paying attention – whether or not you will let us explain what we mean, or if you will try to paint us as believing something we do not believe.

122 Andrew Wencl July 2, 2012 at 4:31 pm

From the article I mentioned in my post: “Foreordained reprobation (Latin meaning unapproved, condemned) is the belief that God creates some people prepared for destruction in order to demonstrate the riches of His mercy to those He has chosen to love Him.

David, if double predestination is such a minority position, why focus much energy on it in an attempt to disprove Calvinism? Any attempt to debate Calvinism as a soteriological system should focus on TULIP, not the peripheral.

BTW, here’s a link to my post on double predestination: http://sbcimpact.org/2011/04/29/you-believe-in-double-predestination/

123 David R. Brumbelow July 2, 2012 at 4:44 pm

Andrew,
Thanks for your definition.

All I’m saying is that next time a Calvinist says, “Calvinists don’t believe in Double Predestination,” it can be said, “Well, some of them do.”

Of course, I already knew that; just kind of appreciate it being openly stated.
David R. Brumbelow

124 Ken Hamrick July 3, 2012 at 10:32 pm

If by predestination is simply meant that God ultimately decides the destinies of both those saved and those lost, then I (as a non-Calvinist) hold to double predestination. The important qualification here is that God is the direct cause of salvation, while He is not the direct cause of damnation. All men being depraved, all will freely choose to reject God unless God intervenes in some way. So those who are lost in the end simply did not benefit from that divine intervention and ended where they freely chose to end.

(The reason that I can affirm this and be non-Calvinist is because I deny that sinners are unable in every way to believe; I deny limited atonement; I deny that grace is irresistible; and I deny that perseverance is relevant to an eternally-secure salvation).

125 Les July 2, 2012 at 4:30 pm

Andrew,

There does seem to be at least an anti-Calvinism sentiment among the trads. Intentionally or just carelessly.

Dr. Cox’s post today (A Biblical Critique of Calvinism
Part 1b: The Inclusivity of the Gospel Invitation) contains the following:

“Conversely, I am ashamed of unchristian beliefs dressed up as Christian beliefs: infant baptism as washing away the taint of original sin; transubstantiation; the Mormon doctrine of becoming a god and populating one’s own planet; and many of the claims of Calvinism.”

126 Matt Svoboda July 2, 2012 at 5:02 pm

Les, you are right.

The most “aggressive” statements I have seen are coming from the non-calvinists.

127 charley July 2, 2012 at 5:07 pm

No, I think we need to stop being influenced by Presbyterians. All of this has come through Presbyterianism. It was around before the Baptists as we understand Baptists today. Presbyterianism entered the scene witht the sixteenth century (1500′s) and spread its theological influence through its descendents. When the first Baptists arose in England, they had access to Presbyterian theology and Calvinism caught on. But Calvinism was originally part of a broader system that went well beyond soteriology. It was an all-inclusive system that determined how churches should organize, how baptism should be administered and so forth. There’s so much more to Calvinism than what we think.

128 Jason G. July 3, 2012 at 10:58 pm

That is a VERY simplistic statement on the emergence of this sort of theology in Baptist life.

Baptists holding to these doctrines do not hold to them because Presbyterians hold to them. That is even silly to suggest.

Heck, Baptists today almost unthinkingly embrace Dispensationalism and that is a VERY recent development theologically. Moreover, that theology did not start in Baptist circles at all. Yet, my guess is you have been heavily influenced by that.

There are things to learn from other evangelical traditions. You embrace some of it, you throw others of it away. The church has operated like that for a while. Only a certain baptist fringe believes otherwise.

129 charley July 6, 2012 at 7:40 pm

No, I’m not Dispensationalist, but am well aware it started with the Plymouth Brethren in England and took off in Protestant churches of America. I know it’s a ‘silly’ idea as you say and could never countenance it. I know Calvinists don’t accept certain doctrines just because Presbyterians believe them, as you say. I still think they mistakenly pick and choose some things which sound good to them but that are part of a larger system which they reject. When they borrow from Presbyterianism they’re contradictorily picking and choosing. For instance, why would someone beleive in believer’s baptism and then say a person is either forced to believe or not to beleive? Why would someone, yet again, believe in total depravity yet expect others to live up to decent standards, even when not a part of the church? Or why would a Christian hold to the five points of TULIP and then worship according to low-church form, meeting in an Acts-style scenario? Such things have not been viewed as compatible to otehrs in the past, yet people today wish to take things from here and there and to rearrange them forming new combinations. Then a church will disagree with another church because they do not possess the same combination. And how rediculous is that? We know that it gets very detailed to where arguments break out and heresy trials begin. Some are forced out of one congregation and have to go somewhere else. Other times a church splits in two over the particular doctrine. Despite all this, people continue to operate the same way. Instead, I advocate people should concentrate on being essentially Christian, on believing those things which all Christians have believed everywhere, and in the spirit of that unity they should work together on those goals they all share. They’re the only goals that really matter. The only goals that will usher in the kingdom.

130 charley July 2, 2012 at 4:38 pm

It’s true we’re still in the “shadow of Augustine,” and we continue to see Christinaity from his perspective–it’s become the Western standpoint for many. Calvin and Luther were children of Augustine and we all are to some degree. It’s very hard to read the Bible as if these men never wrote what they did, but we should at least try. That’s why I really like N. T. Wright, who has spent much time in the New Testament world. He’s looked at how Jews, Jesus, and Paul really thought before the theological converssaion began. For two thousand years theologians have thought about Scripture from various standpoints. These contexts have often determined the types of questions they asked and the answers they proposed. But Jews of Jesus’ day had certain concerns and a particular backdrop that was in some cases very different. Jesus and Paul said things that have been misunderstood and misapplied later on by people trying to address contemporary concerns they had. Of course we should appropriate what’s said for our context. But to do so in the best way we must first find out what the writers meant in their own day.

131 Chris Roberts July 2, 2012 at 4:45 pm

Charley,

Everyone agrees we need to understand the writings in their appropriate context, and that is what good exegesis seeks to accomplish. But I do wonder if you think that for 2,000 years people have had a distorted understanding of Scripture, whereas now, thanks to men like N. T. Wright, we are finally getting it right?

132 charley July 2, 2012 at 4:48 pm

I wouldn’t put it quite that way, but we know the Roman church was wrong on several things for many centuries. The Protestant movement didn’t begin until around 1500. So I don’t find it that difficult to believe a great segment of the church could be in error for a long time!

133 William Thornton July 2, 2012 at 5:37 pm

The second part of your title, not given much (or any) attention in your article and little in the comments, is a legitimate concern.

For my part, I would advise a church to have a very thorough conversation with you before calling you as a staff minister. If it were my church or if I were on a search committee I would say, “I wish you well in your search for a staff position this isn’t the church for you.”

In my experience, this is one of the issues that has caused some difficulty in churches and it is better to disclose it and discuss early on.

134 charley July 2, 2012 at 6:16 pm

I would add that Calvinism introduces a philosophic dimension to the faith that many don’t understand despite extensive explanation. Not everyone has the intellect to comprehend that. Some people who’ve been Christian cannot understand Calvinist discussion. It confuses them. If it’s not something everyone can understand, why introduce it in the first place?

135 Chris Roberts July 2, 2012 at 6:22 pm

Why indeed. Why in the world would someone waste their time trying to understand the Bible? I am a Calvinist because I love and believe my Bible and believe that Calvinism teaches what the Bible teaches. If not for the Bible, I would not be a Calvinist. I realize many people who love and believe the Bible are not Calvinists, I cannot help that, I only know that what I believe comes from what God has revealed in his Word.

136 charley July 2, 2012 at 6:25 pm

No, if the early chruch put Calvin to shame then they were spending way too much time philosophizing. I don’t see what you mean about that, but you’re the expert on the early church, not me. And if it were the case that they spent that much time on it, they were certainly being as goofy as Calvin, minus the skullcap and ear flaps! How many angels can dance on the head of a pin? My response: who cares.

137 Job July 2, 2012 at 6:47 pm

Charlie:

Allow me to repeat what I said on another blog. Presbyterianism did not even exist until 1707. By contrast, when the first Baptist church was created in 1609, it included Calvinists. Also, the first Calvinistic Baptist church congregation met as early as 1630. The first known Calvinistic Baptist confession of faith was created in 1644. Calvinistic Baptists predated Presbyterianism by more than 70 years. Also, Calvinist Baptists and non-Calvinist Baptists have worshiped together as Baptists for more than 400 years. So, are you going to deal with history as it actually exists (the truth) or the history that you seem to prefer (the lie)?

138 charley July 4, 2012 at 2:54 pm

Sorry Job, after I wrote I realized the error—Presbyterianism arose later in Scotland. The Reformed arrangement already existed in Geneva in the 1500′s (before the first Baptists as we speak of Baptists today actually arose–which was in England in the early 1600′s.) Thanks for that reminder.

139 charley July 4, 2012 at 2:57 pm

What I wanted to get across was that a whole Calvinist system of church vis-a-vis society was already in place in the 1500′s before the Baptists came togetehr in England in the 1600′s. Baptists of course were independent, congregationalist, and practeced believer’s baptism with a view to a purer congregation–more separate if you will. That’s crucial.

But you’re correct. I shouldn’t have spoken of the Geneva arrangement as Presbyterian since that’s the name ascribed to the settlement in Scotland by Knox. Thanks again for the reminder.

140 Christiane July 2, 2012 at 11:02 pm

What is the role of satan in double predestination, if any, according to those who both understand and accept the doctrine of double predestination as true ?

141 Dave Miller July 3, 2012 at 1:16 pm

Satan has no role in the workings of God in eternity. He is a created being. Not sure what your point is, but Satan has nothing to do with the eternal decrees of God.

142 David July 2, 2012 at 11:25 pm

The arguments over Calvinism/Non-Calvinism predate the SBC as the first Baptist churches in the south were divided over whether they would be “Primitive Baptists” or “Missionary Baptists”. The Primitive Baptists were strong Calvinists whose interpretation was that it is wrong to invite someone to church because you might be interfering with the sovereignty of God and inviting someone who was not part of the elect. My great-granbmother was the daughter of a Primitive Baptist pastor. The SBC church in which I grew up had this struggle during the 1820′s and decided to be Missionary Baptist which was the forerunner to the SBC who formed in 1845. While the Missionary Baptists had some Calvinist doctrine, it was not the primary focus like it was amongst the Primitive Baptists.

I say all this because it seems pointless to me to be rehashing arguments that took place 190 years ago. My response to all of this is the same as my response to those who spend so much time on escatology: My Heavenly Father knows when He’s coming back and who will spend eternity in Heaven. However, if my thought process is constantly on double predestination, I logically have a hard time with motivation for doing good works (Ephesians 2:9-10) if I am always thinking that God has predestined most to spend eternity tormented in Hell. Why should I give them a glass of water now?

While Calvinism seems great through the lense of a seminary class, seeing it implemented amongst the laity of modern American Christians is another thing. An example of this is I had a conversation recently with a guy who had been a member of one of the largest PCA churches in the country and he made the following comments: “Christians don’t repent. We are drawn by irreisitible grace.” He also said, : “God is totally responsible for my spiritual growth, I have no part in it.” Two reacitons: The word repent is in the Bible several times. The term irresistible grace is not. Second, God does not force me to read my Bible or pray, so I do have some part in my spritual growth. There was no point in discussing this as he was dogmatic in his viewpoints. People have to be concerned when repentance is declared to be no longer a necessity.

The year 1971 (or 1972) was the peak year for baptisms in the SBC. I’m not saying that there weren’t significant challenges in the SBC at that time. However, it seems to me that all of the present debate is a rehash of an almost 200 year old debate and it is not likely to lead to a growth in the body of Christ. Back in the 1970′s, there was the Jesus Movement and Billy Graham style evangelism was the predominant movement at that time. Maybe we need to get back to that and get away from theological debates.

143 Jason G. July 3, 2012 at 11:07 pm

David,

If the Graham style evangelism was predominant in the 70s, but Baptisms peaked in 1971…why should we go back to that? By your own statements, that sort of evangelism coincided with the decline in baptisms…and should be avoided, not emulated.

I’m not sure if your data is accurate, but if that is the basis of your argument, it seems to contradict your conclusion (as I stated).

Your anecdote aside, have you seen any Baptist pastor, or any person on this site suggest repentance is unnecessary? If so, provide proof. If not, keep that sort of strawman argument off of here.

144 Steve Martin July 3, 2012 at 1:39 am

For the life of me I can’t see why anyone would want to say to people, “Christ might have died for you. You might be one of the elect. Maybe He predestined you for Heaven…maybe not.”

This IS better. “Your sin is forgiven for Jesus’ sake. The Lord Jesus died for you that He could raise you to new life with Himself for eternity in Heaven. There’s nothing that you could possibly do, or need to do to be saved. But that Jesus has done it all for you. It is finished…you belong to Him.”

.”..the gospel is the power of God…” Romans 1:16

This is our focus. We preach and teach Christ crucified for sinners. That’s you and me, and Joe and Mary down the block.

God is quite capable of handling where everyone is going to end up.

145 Greg Alford July 3, 2012 at 9:53 am

I have been reading what many of the so called “Traditionalist” have been posting over the last few weeks, and it is becoming increasingly clear to me that they don’t have an issue with Calvin so much as they have an issue with the “Inerrancy of Scripture”.

To every self labeled “Traditionalist” out there, please explain to me how the following verses in Romans 9 can possibly be reconciled with your new statement of faith? The bottom line is you can’t!

(14) What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid. (15) For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. (16) So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy. (17) For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth. (18) Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth.

(19) Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will? (20) Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? (21) Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour? (22) What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: (23) And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory, (24) Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?

Grace for the Journey,

146 David R. Brumbelow July 3, 2012 at 10:31 am

Gregg,
Adrian Rogers answered very well your challenge about Romans 9.

Some of his statements are quoted above in what is now comment #57.
You can find more at:
http://gulfcoastpastor.blogspot.com/2011/08/adrian-rogers-on-predestination.html

You can find the entire sermon by Adrian Rogers, “Predestined For Hell? Absolutely Not!,” at lwf.org in pamphlet form.

So, yes, Traditionalists have dealt with Romans 9.
By the way, other Traditionalists besides Adrian Rogers have also dealt with this passage. We’ve known about Romans 9 for a long time :-).

And yes, we still believe in the inerrancy of God’s Word.
David R. Brumbelow

147 David R. Brumbelow July 3, 2012 at 10:34 am

Greg,
Sorry I misspelled your name.
David R. Brumbelow

148 Greg Alford July 3, 2012 at 10:48 am

David,

I’m Sorry I did not know that Adrian Rogers had signed… my bad ;-)

Seriously, posting a sermon by Adrian Rogers is not dealing with Romans 9 at all… so I am still waiting on someone to tell me how they can reconcile Romans 9 with the Traditionalist Statement of Faith?

149 Greg Alford July 3, 2012 at 10:54 am

David,

Adrian Rogers made some interesting comments about Romans 9.

On Romans 9 and Jacob and Esau;
“God is not talking about two little babies, one born for Heaven and one born for Hell. That’s not what He is saying at all. This is national, not personal.”
Later, “God was not talking about salvation. He was simply saying that Israel is going to be His choice, and the descendants of Jacob are going to be His spiritual leaders in the world…Nothing is said here about one twin going to Heaven and the other twin going to Hell.”
-Adrian Rogers, Predestined For Hell? Absolutely Not!

I know what I am going to say is blasphemy to some Traditionalist in the SBC… But “Adrian Rogers was not infallible, and he does not speak with the authority of Scripture!”

And in this case he was “Absolutely Wrong” in his interpretation of what these verses teach!

150 David R. Brumbelow July 3, 2012 at 11:22 am

Greg,
Of course you are free to disagree with Adrian Rogers.

Just don’t go around saying Traditionalists or non-Calvinists have no answer to the Calvinist interpretation of Romans 9.
David R. Brumbelow

151 Greg Alford July 3, 2012 at 12:21 pm

Ok David,

Let’s hear it! So far all I have heard is “Crickets”!

Even John Wesley had to admit that Romans 9 teaches…

“The apostle mentions this to show, that neither were their ancestors accepted through any merit of their own. That the purpose of God according to election might stand – Whose purpose was, to elect or choose the promised seed. Not of works – Not for any preceding merit in him he chose. But of him that called – Of his own good pleasure who called to that privilege whom he saw good…

…Thus far the apostle has been proving his proposition, namely, that the exclusion of a great part of the seed of Abraham, yea, and of Isaac, from the special promises of God, was so far from being impossible, that, according to the scriptures themselves, it had actually happened.

I guess you “Traditional” guys are even beyond what Wesley taught concerning Romans-9?

152 Dave Miller July 3, 2012 at 12:26 pm

Greg, let’s try to remain in dialogue and not get too confrontational, okay?

153 Greg Alford July 3, 2012 at 12:50 pm

I hear you Dave… :-)

154 cb scott July 3, 2012 at 5:13 pm

CHIPPER JONES FOR ALL-STAR
PLENTY OF “SEATS AT THE TABLE” AT BRAVES STADUIM
COME ONE, COME ALL

155 dr. james willingham July 4, 2012 at 12:10 am

To Christiane: I have a funeral sermon on Mercy Triumphs Over Judgment, titled “The Awakening Marvel.” I just happened to have pulled it out of filing cabinet today. It was a funeral sermon for my oldest convert to date, a 91 year old, and after his baptismal service we celebrated his 92 birthday which was to be the Friday after that Sunday Evening Service. I practically had one deacon who almost got to shouting over it. He certainly praised the Lord for the man’s conversion and baptism. What I would like to point out in this discussion is that even double predestination can be used as an invitation. Yes, even reprobation can and does indeed serve as an invitation to salvation, to trust Christ. Just look at the lady of Canaan and the Lord’s calling her by a term of reprobation, a dog: “It is not meet to take the children’s bread and cast it to dogs.” And the woman agreed with Jesus, saying, “Truth, Lord.” Then she boldly turned his own argument back on Him, “But the dogs eat of the crumbs that fall from their little masters’ table.” No one wants to take the crumbs that have fallen upon the ground (most homes then in Judea and Jewish areas had dirt floors, unless the family was wealthy), and have the children eat them. There is here an implied honor of the highest sort, namely, a crumb of Jesus grace and favor will more than meet the woman’s need. What most writers in these debates overlook is the Fall of man and how bad it was, resulting not only in a spiritual deadness, but in a spiritual madness (Ecc.9:3) which is why we get murders in the best of families…After all who knows what madness is in the heart of a child, a parent, a spouse, a cousin, uncle, aunt, grandparent, relative of any degree as well as neighbor. Man is already reprobate; there is not a thing of good in him, and God’s love is not based on any foreseen good; it is the source of the good given in the love expressed. The most intense evangelism the world has ever seen, the kind that can reach any depth of depravity, any condition, etc., is Sovereign Grace even in its most extreme forms. Yes, the doctrines are God’s therapeutic paradoxes designed to enable and empower dead sinners to live and respond. Man is free, but his freedom is the freedom of a depraved creature, a deadly threat to himself and others which circumstances and situations in life quickly reveal to be the case. Only God’s mercy and grace can make a difference. The fact that He chooses to show mercy and grace to any is a wonder of wonders, and it is also an encouragement to every sinner to look to Christ for such an encouraging reality. The “MANY” of our Lord’s ransom total more than the general atonement will every help or relieve, because the power is in the blood with particular redemption/limited atonement; the power is in the will of man with general atonement, which is a denial of Scripture which plainly says, NO MAN CAN. NO MAN IS ABLE. PERIOD!

156 Christiane July 4, 2012 at 12:21 am

Dr. Willingham,

thank you for sharing your sermon
. . . in some important ways. I do have a different perspective on God than Calvinism has, that is true,
but I appreciate the time you took to post for sharing. It helps me to get yet another insight into how God is seen by some Southern Baptists.
Thanks again. Have a great Fourth !

157 dr. james willingham July 5, 2012 at 11:52 pm

One thing I would like to point out from all of my researches and reflections is that the doctrine of double predestination is not symmetrical; it is asymmetrical; it never quite fits together. As John Gill use to say, “God decreed to damn no man but for sin, nor did He decree to damn any but for sin.” He also said, “God treats the wicked so well that no one in his right mind would ever condemn God for sending them to Hell, seeing how they repay His treatment.” Or something to that effect.(Memory of quotes from 40+ years ago).

158 Hayley July 18, 2012 at 9:40 am

“The inescapable love of God” – Thomas Talbott. Find it at Amazon.com. All I can say here is this: as a sinful and weak human being, I no longer find it possible to serve a God who can find less compassion for others in his Big, Sovereign heart, than I can. Stop kidding yourselves, Calvinists, this theology burns you at night, no matter how you disguise it. It also never escapes me that (it seems) most rock-hard, debating Calvinists reside in North America. Come live in Africa,

Hayley
South Africa

159 Andrew Wencl July 18, 2012 at 12:36 pm

Hayley,

I’m afraid that even those who disagree with me on the issue of double predestination would likely take more umbrage at the idea that everyone goes to heaven. Might I suggest you read The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God by D.A. Carson. It’s even available online and won’t cost you a dime:

http://s3.amazonaws.com/tgc-documents/carson/2000_difficult_doctrine_of_the_love_of_God.pdf

160 dr. james willingham July 18, 2012 at 1:30 pm

Amazing how the transformation of Protestantism from a Gospel recovery effort, conflicted, combative, contentious, into a outgoing, we will win you with persuasion, could have such theology in its heart. The First and the Second Great Awakening and the launching of the Great Century of Missions involved the message of Sovereign Grace, with the leading calvinist, Jonathan Edwards, being the spark plug for the awakenings and the launching of the mission movement (cf. His Humble Attempt which inspirred Fuller, Carey, Rice, and Judson in their mission effort. Who says some other interpretation has more great love at its heart. How about a prayer for a Third Great Awakening and the conversion of every soul on earth, beginning with this generation and continuing for a 1000 generations and perhaps thousands of planets in order to have enough of the redeemed in Heaven for God to mention, humorously, as a number no one can number (Rev.7:9)? And also consider how the first convert baptized by William Carey was won by one who was called a hypercalvinist, Dr. John Thomas, and he went insane with elation. His desire to see a person from India converted where he had labored

161 dr. james willingham July 18, 2012 at 1:51 pm

Where Dr. John Thomas had labored for 14 years in the hopes of winning one of the denizens of that area of the world to Christ. He had been in an up and down cycle, getting his hopes up that one would be converted, and then having them dashed as the person refused to go all the way. When Krishna Pal, whom Carey had been trying to win for some time, indicated to Thomas that he would go all the way and be baptized, Thomas who had been setting a broken or dislocated arm and trying to evangelize Pa realized the man meant business. Thomas became so elated that he became delirious. I have read, though I do not know how reliable the narrative is that Thomas was locked up in one room near the baptismal pond, raving in elation, while Mrs. Carey, suffering from perhaps PTSD due to culture shock, was locked in another room, raging in her anger. Thomas had persuaded Mrs. Carey to come with her husband to India, and her mental situation was such that she could not fathom the shock of such a different culture. Thus, she paid the price for missions as did Thomas. Compassion is not limited to some little weepy eyed, i love you, God loves you, pabulum for every one. Sometimes, like the woman of Canaan in Mt. 15:21-28, some people need to hear, “I am not sent but to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” (and your (the woman of Canaan) not one, obviously). Then some also need to hear as she did, that “it is not meet to take the children’s bread and to cast it to dogs.” Others like the rich young ruler need to be confronted with the impossible (Mk.10) Our Lord’s demand that he sell all, give to the poor, and come and follow Him was of the nature of the impossible. The father with the demon possessed son needed to hear, “If you can believe,” and be led to confess about his believe, “Help my unbelief.”(Mk.9). Some folks need to hear, “Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.”(Roms.9:13). And one lady won to Christ told the fellow who won her, “O it was so wonderful that I could not resist it.” He said, “When she said that, what you said about grace being irresistible popped into my mind.” I asked, “Well, have you changed your mind?” He said, “No, but I’m thinking about it.” Funny thing about the gentleman is that his name was Spurgeon. It took him about 40 years to change his mind (almost literally 40 years), but he did change. About that time he found out that he was some kin to C.H. God has a sense of humor…as well as solemnity….and awesomeness.

162 Jared Moore July 3, 2012 at 2:19 pm

David, if God knows everything and knows who will never trust in Christ, yet creates them, then it doesn’t matter if Jesus died for them or not. Jesus’s death will never do these people any gospel-good. His death actually condemns them. (I actually believe Jesus died for the world as well; I don’t affirm limited atonement.)

Furthermore, I believe God loves all of His creation, even the fallen angels. These angels, yet, have no redeemer or possibility of redemption. God’s love is not contingent on whether or not He shows grace. God is love, period.

163 dr. james willingham July 6, 2012 at 11:59 pm

Jared, while God’s treatment of Esau was the treatment of love, I would be very hesitant to say something that would make God out to be a liar, He actually says, “Esau have I hated.” What makes the sovereignty of God such a terrible and dreadful mercy to be considered is that He hated Esau before the latter was born. But then it would be right to point out that the Lord saved a reprobate woman in Mt.15:21-28 with the doctrine of particular redemption/limited atonement (every one preaches limited atonement) and the doctrine of reprobation (dogs are images of reprobation, they return to their own vomit as Peter says, II Pet.2:22). And we are all of a reprobate nature. The profundity of the depth of Christian theology, biblical theology, in particular, is of such a nature and so transparent that its very perspicuity is our problem. We think we can easily determine the depths of it like a friend who saw the grains of sand rolling along the bottom of a mountain stream and determined it to be 2-3 feet deep. It wasn’t; it was 18-20 feet deep, and he almost drowned. Reprobation and God’s hate are invitations to the hated and reprobate to be saved. Mt.15:21-28 clearly implies as much. And the Gospel success is spelled out in the waters that cover the sea, the stone that becomes a great mountain and fills the whole earth, God’s covenant being kept to a 1000 generations (20 yrs per generation leaves us with 20,000 years). Prophecies that do not come to pass, but have another raison d’etre, a purpose to bring folks to repentance so God will spare blows all of our eschatology out the water.

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