Gerald Harris and Logical Fallacies

gerald harris and peter lumpkins and logical fallacies

This article was originally posted at my site. I’m married with three children, an SBC pastor, a PhD student at SBTS, and an average Southern Baptist. I’ve authored two books. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and YouTube.

Gerald Harris, editor at the Christian Index, recently wrote an article titled “A New Kind of Calvinism” (Click here and scroll down to read it). In this article Harris speculates that there are some on the Calvinism Advisory Committee who believe, or know other Southern Baptists who believe, that some infants who die in infancy are not elect and will burn in hell due to God’s judgment. Harris, however, does not prove his assertion. He quotes some Calvinistic Southern Baptists on the Committee who believe all infants who die in infancy are elect and saved by the grace of God in Christ (Al Mohler & Danny Akin), but quotes no one who says some infants who die in infancy may not be elect. Instead, his accusation is based entirely on silence (a logical fallacy). Thus, I hope Harris’ article reveals to all Southern Baptists the danger in assuming the worst about one another’s beliefs.

The portion of the Calvinism Advisory committee’s statement Harris found troubling deals with infants and salvation:

We agree that most Southern Baptists believe that those who die before they are capable of moral action go to heaven through the grace of God and the atonement of Christ, even as they differ as to why this is so.

Harris writes,

“What Southern Baptists are undecided on the issue or are willing to affirm that some people who die as infants (or are mentally incompetent) will suffer judgment in hell?” I have been a Southern Baptist for 62 years and I have never met any Baptist in our Convention who admitted to believing that children who die before they are capable of moral action go to hell. Therefore it would appear that the nebulous statement about the destiny of children would have to be influenced by a person or persons on the advisory team.

First, there are millions of Southern Baptists. Maybe someone on the committee knows some Southern Baptists Harris doesn’t who disagree with their statement? Thus, they added the word “most” to the statement.

Second, in similar manner as my first point, Harris assumes that someone on the committee disagrees with the statement. He builds his entire article on his own assumption, but he doesn’t prove his assumption by interacting with the words of anyone on the committee. He does refer to Eric Hankins indicating that the committee crafted the wording due to some on the committee being uncomfortable “with the assertion that all who are morally incapable who die go to heaven.” Yet, Harris does not indicate what part of Hankins’ statement made some uncomfortable. For example, I’m uncomfortable with Hankins’ statement here, not because I believe some infants who die go to Hell, but because Hankins’ assertion leaves out God’s grace and Christ’s atonement (Al Mohler and Danny Akin would be uncomfortable for the same reason).

Due to Harris’ concern, he questioned the committee at the SBC 2013 (starting at the 18:40 mark in the above video), asking, “What Southern Baptists are there who do not believe that those who die before they are capable of moral action go to heaven?”

David Dockery–President of Union University and a member of the committee–responded,

The intent of those kind of statements was not to say that it represented the confessional perspective of anyone on the committee, but to recognize the breadth of representation in Southern Baptist life.

Notice that Dockery says the statement does not represent the confessional perspective of anyone on the committee. In the very next paragraph in Harris’ article, he writes, “Therefore it would appear that the nebulous statement about the destiny of children would have to be influenced by a person or persons on the advisory team.” Agreed, but the same is true for the entire report. Moreover, we don’t know why the word “most” is in the statement, and we don’t know what part of the statement a few in the SBC disagree with.

Third, the “few” in the SBC who cannot affirm the Calvinism Advisory Committee’s above statement could be on the other side of the issue. They could be rejecting or may not be comfortable with affirming any of the four phrases in the statement: 1) Those who die before they are capable of moral action, 2) go to Heaven, 3) through the grace of God, 4) and the atonement of Christ. Why assume the “few” not included in the statement are on the Calvinist side, instead of on the other side? Based on Harris’ words, he gives no reason or proof why he assumes the “few” who disagree with the statement believe some infants who die may go to Hell. He actually quotes Al Mohler and Danny Akin (who are more Calvinistic) who believe that all infants that die are part of the elect. Thus, Harris’ entire article is a straw man since no one on the Calvinism Advisory Committee has argued that there are some infants who die in their infancy that are not part of the elect. Harris rebuts an argument that no one on the Calvinism Advisory Committee has made–i. e., a straw man.

Here’s another example of Harris building his argument on silence,

I recently emailed each member of the advisory team to ask each one if they personally believe that those who die before they are capable of moral action go to heaven through the grace of God and the atonement of Christ.

Those who responded indicated that they believe children are safe with God in heaven if they die before they are capable of moral action. Some did not respond and one would have to conclude that they did not receive my emails, they simply chose not to respond, or they were hesitant to acknowledge personally that they affirm that certain infants who die are not among the elect and will suffer judgment in hell.

See how he doesn’t prove why some members of the committee didn’t respond to his email? He only speculates. There are literally millions of possibilities for why some on the committee didn’t respond: i. e., sabbatical, vacation, surgery, Internet outage, death in the church, death in family, put it off for later, busy, etc. Harris doesn’t know why they didn’t respond, and his negative assumption is pure speculation, and thus, is unfounded.

Finally, without quoting any Southern Baptist who affirms what he claims some Southern Baptists believe, he concludes his article with this statement:

I am getting the distinct impression that many who embrace a reformed theology in the Southern Baptist Convention are beginning to feel very uncomfortable with the new kind of Calvinism very unlike the reformed theology of Charles Spurgeon, David Livingstone, William Carey, James Petigru Boyce, Carl F.H. Henry, and Martyn Lloyd-Jones.

Harris did not prove that such “New Calvinism” exists in the SBC, and he did not prove that “many who embrace a reformed theology” in the SBC are feeling uncomfortable with this “new kind of Calvinism.” Who are these “New Calvinists” in the SBC that believe what Harris asserts they believe (Al Mohler–a 5 point Calvinist–evidently isn’t one; I know Tom Ascol isn’t either. He even nods in agreement with Danny Akin in the above video concerning all those who die in infancy being part of the elect.)? He doesn’t provide any quotes from them; he doesn’t name their names. He only speculates that they exist on the Calvinism Advisory Committee. Thus, the only proof that there are Southern Baptists who believe what Harris says they believe is that Harris believes there are Southern Baptists who believe what he says they believe (even though he hasn’t met one in 62 years). His argument rises and falls based on his own assertion, not actual words, statements, names, or any other proof from these so-called “New Calvinist” Southern Baptists.

If Harris and any other Southern Baptist are willing to make arguments from silence, then we will not move forward as a convention concerning our doctrinal differences. In my opinion, Harris’ article goes against the spirit of the Calvinism Advisory Committee’s Report:

Within this common confession [The Baptist Faith and Message], we sometimes disagree over certain theological issues that should not threaten our Great Commission cooperation. We recognize that significant theological disagreement on such issues has occurred with respect to Calvinism. It is, therefore, our responsibility to come together with open hearts and minds in order to speak truthfully, honestly, and respectfully about these theological and doctrinal issues that concern us, threaten to divide us, and compel us into conversation. Such engagement is appropriate at every level of Southern Baptist life including local congregations, associations, state conventions, and the Southern Baptist Convention. [Emphasis mine]

If we’re to move forward, we must speak honestly about what each other believes and interact with actual words, statements, and beliefs instead of assuming the worst about one another’s beliefs based on logical fallacies.

As Southern Baptists, I think we can do better than the example set by Harris. I think we can accurately represent one another, and then graciously interact with one another’s beliefs for the glory of God. I join with the spirit of the Calvinism Advisory Committee report. I invite Harris and you to do the same.

What are your thoughts?

This article was originally posted at my site. I’m married with three children, an SBC pastor, a PhD student at SBTS, and an average Southern Baptist. I’ve authored two books. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and YouTube.

Comments

  1. Joe McGee says

    Jarred
    Once again, when anyone writes or states anything against your Calvinism or Calvinist hero, you circle the wagons and attack. Often, you do not go head to head against the writer’s points against Calvinism but nit-pix little things or try to cal into question their writing integrity or honesty. Has it ever occurred that Gerald did not mention names because he did not want to embarrass does who truly believe that a child would go to heaven. After all Calvinism in its truest form adherers to the determinative knowledge of God. If this is so than it reasons that there are children predestined to go to heaven. But does it mean that all children happen to be predestined? If this is so then could we say that all children born in the Middle East who die will go to heaven, or does this only apply to children born in the Christian community. I know Dr. Gerald Harris personally. He is a man of great character and grace. I could see him leaving out a man name for his own protection. Gerald had been around for a long time, as I. We both know of Southern Baptist who hold the view that not all children who die will go to heaven. Some are misinformed,. but sincere, Calvinist while others are those who believe that since the child did not have a salvation experience that he or she is not going to heaven). Dr. Harris is speaking of experience. Knowing Gerald like I do, if he states that someone on the committee shared information concerning those who do not believe that all children will go to heaven, then its fact. I have read many of your articles, like some, did not like some; but I respected what you said and did not nit-pix every word. We judge and debate a paper or article on it over all thesis, not by trying to disqualify it by some random word that does not have any bearing on the over-all point of the matter.

    • Andrew Barker says

      Jared, I hope you don’t me might asking if you emailed Gerald Harris before you wrote this article, in order that he could either correct or at least confirm any nuances or finer points in his speech? I trust you have because if not, it would seem to me that you are not extending to him the courtesy which he offered to those on the advisory panel before he spoke out.

      By the way, you are guilty, in the eyes of many, of logical fallacies in your article!

      • says

        Andrew, thanks for the comment.

        I didn’t email Harris. There’s no reason to. I interacted with his actual words, statements, etc. On the other hand, Harris did not interact with anyone’s words from the committee who argued what he claims some of them believe.

        Concerning the logical fallacies you believe are in my article, please point them out. It’ll help be a better writer in the future.

      • Dave Miller says

        I’m on a three day anniversary celebration (35 years), but while eating, I checked the site. Andrew, I will tell you my protocol. If I confront a person, I try to communicate in advance. If I confront that person’s publicly stated ideas, there us no reason for personal contact.

        • Andrew Barker says

          OK, I can agree with that in general but my point to Jared was slightly more specific. Jared is basically accusing Gerald of formulating views without sufficient knowledge of the facts. Jared may have a point there, although I think Jared is nit-picking in the extreme in doing so.

          Gerald’s viewpoint was based upon years of experience (he says) and talking to other fellow members of the Baptist community. Of course his knowledge is not exhaustive and there are people he doesn’t know. But he has a good idea of what’s generally believed. The advisory committee then come out with a statement which is rather ambiguous, or at least not as positive as many would like. So where would any reasonably minded person assume the statement comes from? From within the committee itself!

          Of course it’s not cut and dried but then Jared can help with this can’t he. Perhaps he would like to draw up a list of those ‘New Calvinists’ who are happy to put their name to the doctrine that some babies are not ‘elect’ and therefore these infants who die when young will go to hell. By the way, this is where Jared’s logical fallacy exists (one of them anyway). At least drawing up the list will save a good deal of pointless discussion and we will all know exactly where we are.

          So while I would agree with your general point about not having to inform everyone who has gone into print about a topic before openly writing about their view, there are times when the subject matter dictates that you do. I think this was one such occasion. Especially when it’s not the subject matter so much as they way they are drawing their conclusions which is being brought into question.

          I think Gerald Harris will probably be quietly pleased to be alongside the likes of Joe McKeever who I believe was one of Jared’s previous targets!

          • says

            Andrew, I appreciate the interaction.

            My main point is that Harris did not prove his assertion. He’s only appealed to logical fallacies and assumptions (as far as we know). I hope Southern Baptists don’t believe his assertion because at this point, it’s unfounded.

            I don’t understand what logical fallacy I committed?

            Concerning people being “targets,” I’m not targeting anyone. Southern Baptists put their ideas out there in public. If I disagree, I’ll put my ideas out there as well. Also, I think McKeever and Harris both drew first blood. I simply responded. If you put your ideas out there in public, expect a public response.

    • says

      Joe McGee, thanks for the comment. My main point is that Harris did not prove his assertion. He may indeed have reasons to believe what he said, but he did not give us any evidence to believe it as well… only logical fallacies. Southern Baptists should not believe his assumptions until there are actual words from someone on the committee that proves his assumptions.

      • Andrew Barker says

        Well I’m not quite sure what level of proof your really want Jared. Gerald Harris’s comments were indeed anecdotal in that he is quoting from general experience. But he emailed committee members to find out their views. (whether or not you believe this was a genuine attempt to be find the truth or not!)

        I believe your own argument is hanging by a very delicate thread. As far as I understand you, there is no one person you can point to on the Advisory Committee who holds this doctrine, BUT, this undisclosed person may know a Southern Baptist who does. So in order to promote harmony and understanding within the Calvinism Advisory Committee and the Southern Baptist community at large, they have seen to it that the word ‘most’ was added. This is so nobody is offended!

        • says

          Andrew, where did I question if Harris wanted the truth or not? I believe Harris really wanted the truth from the committee members. My issue is that Harris made an assertion, but didn’t prove it with any evidence; he only appealed to logical fallacies. That’s the point of my article.

          Concerning your final paragraph, I don’t know if anyone on the committee affirms what Harris claimed or not? My only point is that Harris did not prove his assertion. Appealing to logical fallacies as “proof” of what some Southern Baptists may believe is not something we should be practicing. Just because you agree with Harris’ conclusions doesn’t mean his methods are justified. If what Harris practiced is justified, then literally, any Southern Baptist can say anything about any Southern Baptist.

          • William says

            Should be a simple matter for committee members to fix. One syllable will do it. Not sure why answers are not forthcoming.

            While I don’t particularly like litmus tests, I don’t see avoidance on a matter that every single SBC church would find important.

          • Andrew Barker says

            Jared, I do get the impression that you enjoy being affronted by Gerald Harris’ actions. Everyone can see what you’re getting at and on the whole I think the agreement is that yes, he does make a case which is not fully provable. He is reading between the lines!

            But surely the fact that you’ve invested so much time in pointing this out means that he must have been on to something of importance, otherwise you’re just wasting your time. That the committee have seen fit to release this statement is relevant in itself. You don’t get your ideas adopted if you’re some cotton brained lunatic on the fringe of things. This statement is in existence because somewhere, someone of standing, believes it!

          • says

            Andrew, you should be equally offended by Harris’ actions. It’s not the type of behavior any Southern Baptist should participate in, even if they are our friends. All Southern Baptists should be held to the same standard. If you’re willing to justify Harris’ method (appealing to logical fallacies), then you have no basis to come against any assertion or accusation made by any Southern Baptist.

            I also don’t ‘enjoy’ any of this. I’d rather not participate. Would you say that “Harris enjoys making unfounded assertions.” I wouldn’t say that. I don’t know his motives, and you don’t mine. His method alone is what I’m critiquing. His methods should not be practiced or justified by Southern Baptists.

  2. says

    Bravo! Jared, you have provided a much needed corrective to Harris’ unseemly intent to discover some heretics that believe in infant damnation. It is especially helpful that you pointed to Tom Ascol’s nod of agreement with the statement on infant salvation as he is specifically named in the writings of some after the presentation. While I do not know, personally, the views of either Ascol or the other gentleman named by the dissenters, it is not right for people to name individuals as holding views – when those individuals do not. Especially, is it inadvisable to name people without their own written and verbally professed views to the effect of the accusations. Harris’ evidently has an intent to keep the pot boiling, so to speak, until the situation becomes intolerable, but I for one believe he will fail. Southern Baptists want to get on with their great responsibility, the Great Commission. And in the state of Georgia which was won to the cause of Christ and of Baptists by the believers in Sovereign Grace like Daniel Marshall, Silas and Jesse Mercer, to mention three men who left their theological views impressed upon the Baptists of Georgia, view that were reflective of unconditional election, efficacious grace, and etc. What will Mr. Harris do about such people who are considered as fathers of Southern Baptists?

  3. Louis says

    Jared:

    Thanks for your take on this matter.

    For the life of me, I can’t understand the significance of this. It seems to be splitting hairs.

    The committee made a report. I believe it was widely accepted and appreciated.

    The so-called Tradititionalists on the committee were happy with it.

    What has transpired that requires more “investigation” into people’s beliefs?

    Is this really what we want to spend our time doing?

    The salvation of infants and incompetents is not directly addressed in scripture. There are lots of subquestions to the ultimate question that people might disagree on, as well, which makes answering the ulimate question difficult.

    I personally will say that I don’t know what happens to all infants or incompetent people. I see verses about God’s mercy. My own sense of “fairness” and God’s character plays a role here.

    But there are too many unknowns for me to guess and make declarative sentences. I, also, do not make statements that constitue guaranties about who is in heaven and who is not because I believe that declaration (not just the decision) belongs to God. There is certainly ample biblical material to comfort those in times of loss without going beyond our own knowledge.

    I agree with the idea that pastors and denominational leaders should affirm the BFM. The guys on the committee also affirmed their own statement that they came up with.

    I have no reason to question Gerald Harris’ motives. I don’t know him, and will assume they are good.

    But just because he wants to know the answer to some question he has put together, doesn’t mean that he’s entitled to an answer. That is not mean to be a slam on him or his position. But if I were on a committee like this that worked hard on this statement, I don’t think that I would respond to additional emails and interviews. I would tell him to read the statement and the other things I have said on the issue (if I have said them.)

    I appreciate your writing about it, Jared, but I really don’t see any basis or need for further refinement of the statement on Calvinism or the continued wrangling over this.

    Some things can be commented on, and then we move on.

    Let’s hope that happens here.

  4. Bennett Willis says

    Why would it be more “unfair” for an infant to go to hell because s/he was not elect than for an adult to go to hell for that same reason?

  5. Bill Mac says

    One: I think Gerald Harris is a vocal anti-Calvinist, and he’s doing what vocal anti-Calvinists do.

    On the other hand: Infant salvation. It is true that there is no specific verse that addresses infant salvation. The verse about David and his deceased infant is not as conclusive as some make it seem. Having said that, we have a lot of scripture that tells us what kind of God we follow, and what He thinks of children. We don’t need proof texts to prove what happens to humans with no cognitive capacity for moral choice. The idea that God will burn an infant in hell eternally ought to be so odious to thinking Christians that there is no doubt in our minds. I am a Calvinist but I feel no compulsion to shoehorn every possible scenario into a Calvinist framework. Forget election and reprobation and inherited guilt for just a moment. We’re talking about babies. Are any of us really satisfied with the possibility that the God we believe in allows babies to be conceived, born, die within a week, and then casts them into hell?

  6. Louis says

    Bill Mac and others:

    I have asked this question on another website, but will ask it here, too.

    Does anyone here have an opinion about the age at which humans become capable of moral understanding? How is that determined? What is the definition? Where does the definition come from.

    Would be very interested in the answer.

  7. Tarheel says

    Thanks Jared for not allowing Harris’ speculative innuendo to remain Published and unaddressed.

  8. Greg Harvey says

    Harris raises a strawman. Jared exposes it for the hay stuffing it. Jared gets attacked for doing so….say what?

  9. Louis says

    I made the observation on another post that the phrases “Babies burning in Hell” or “Infants burning in Hell” are being used an awful lot in this discussion. Not by people who propose such a thing, but by people who disagree with them on particular doctrines. Some a trying to pin these loaded phrases on others because they think them to be irrefutable positions in the debate.

    The first rule in debate is not to ascribe to your opponent positions that they do not hold.

    But I have another position.

    When Paul tells the Corinthians not to speculate about our ressurrected bodies, does that have any application here?

    Am I coming back as a 15 year old? A 50 year old. An 80 year old? An infant?

    Is an infant resurrected as an infant?

    I really don’t know about these questions, but they all touch on the debate.

    When I raised the question about when a human becomes morally capable, at what age, on another blog, one commenter (unlike Max here, who responded and even sent me a link) really lost his cool.

    I don’t mind discussing these issues so long as we acknowledge that we are wading into really deep waters and that we really don’t know very much about what we are talking about.

    That’s why I am not for using this topic as a wedge issue to try and divide people.

  10. says

    I think that Gerald Harris’s article is a sign that the divisive forces in the SBC- the hardcore BI guys reborn and rebranded as Traditionalists- are losing the battle for the ejection of Calvinists. The Calvinism Committee did a good job of providing a third way and its been largely embraced by everyone except that small tribe. As a result, they have to keep manufacturing controversies to get people riled up. This article is the latest attempt. Thankfully, they are failing. Soon, hopefully, they will become men and women of good will and seek unity or they will be relegated to the position of isolation they are so desperately chasing so the rest of us can get back to proclaiming the Gospel without having to endure blindside attacks from inside the camp. Either that or they will just leave. I would prefer that they stay and work for unity rather than division but I’m beginning to think that’s a pipe dream.

    • says

      Gosh I hope you’re right, but I can’t see Lumpkins (et al) changing his nastiness without a lightening bolt or some spiritual equivalent. And I am quite sure that the sins that so easily beset me require even more divine intervention, but I’m not trying to damage the fellowship of the God’s people.

      • volfan007 says

        The hardcore BI guys have renamed themselves? The BI/Trads are the ones, who are being mean, nasty, and divisive?

        lol

        David

        • says

          Since the Committee Report who among the Calvinist camp is being divisive? This hit piece by Harris promoted and spurred on by Lumpkins is mean and nasty. No one in the Calvinist camp is advocating that infants are burning in hell. No one. But Peter and Gerald, knowing you can’t prove a negative, put this piece of garbage out to cause trouble and try to save their dying movement to run Calvinists out of the SBC. Thankfully, few are paying attention because they have cried wolf once too often. One day I hope Peter and his ilk realize their is enough room in Christanity for people who disagree with them. I pray it happens soon.

    • Bart Barber says

      I was MISTER Baptist Identity. I was involved in every Baptist Identity thing that you could be involved in. Dare I say that I was even a primary leader in the Baptist Identity movement, at least as it pertained to blogging? Baptist Identity was NEVER and is not now about anti-Calvinism. Of people who were involved in Baptist Identity who have also been involved in attacking Calvinism, my observation has been that the more a person comes to care about opposing Calvinism, the less passion that person seems to have left over for responsible and biblical views of the ordinances, sound church membership, congregationalism, etc. In my way of thinking, Baptist Identity and anti-Calvinism compete with one another for attention rather than serving as running-buddies.

      A report came out that an enormous number of Southern Baptists have completely disconnected the Lord’s Supper from healthy church discipline, and most of the sites caught up in Calvinism had nary a word to say. It just didn’t rise to a level to merit their attention.

      So when you connect “BI” with “Traditionalists” (I didn’t sign the statement, and publicly said why I didn’t) and some plot “for the ejection of Calvinists,” pardon me for saying so, but that seems to me a lazy man’s way of taking everything with which you’ve ever disagreed and lumping it all into one basket as though it all belongs together just because it shares in common your personal disrespect.

      • says

        Bart,

        I get some of what you’re saying, but just as SBC Today was the hub of BI, it is now the hub for the opposition of Calvinism and Calvinism is repeatedly presented as anti-Baptist. Note Ron’s comment in this discussion: Baptists have *always* believed that infants who die go to Heaven. These may not be central issues of BI concern for you, but for those who remain at the center of BI discussion, Calvinism is very much a related issue.

        • Bart Barber says

          SBC Today has changed ownership, editorship, authorship, and readership at least three times in the past few years. To argue continuity simply on the basis of the URL is weak.

          And indeed, even if it were the same exact people, why do you choose to characterize it as a philosophical connection between the movements rather than to describe the people involved as folks who have jumped ship? For example, when a politician leaves the Democrats and joins the GOP, we do not allege that this is because the Democrats and the Republicans are actually just the same philosophy. No, we acknowledge that someone has left behind one set of thoughts and has entered a new phase of his thinking.

          Some may argue that the politician is now a Republican because he learned better. Some may argue that he never held any real convictions at any point along the way, but was simply looking for a platform that would accord him some power. Some might dare to conclude that he has (gasp!) learned something and has changed his mind. But at least they do not usually engage in the total non-sequitur that it amounts to when one claims that two totally unrelated emphases are actually covert equalities simply because he didn’t like either of them and some other people liked both of them.

          • Bart Barber says

            Oops. My first and third reasons in the last paragraph were actually the same thing. I meant for the third one to be that the unfolding implications of his former position were carrying him further than he wished to go.

          • says

            Bart,

            I understand SBC Today no longer represents what it once represented, but can it really be denied that those currently writing for it continue to see it as a place for the defense of a distinct Baptist identity? After all, consider what is found in their About page: “SBC Today (SBCT) exists to restore unity in the convention around biblical discipleship and our historic Baptist distinctives.”

            Again and again they advocate a particular view of what it means to be a Baptist and anything falling outside those parameters should be shunned, be it seminary cooperation, quotes in our Sunday school material, or influences in our theology. This is not the Baptist identity movement you were part of so perhaps it would be good to come up with a new name. Traditionalist, perhaps? Wait, what? There has been a name change after all?

          • Bart Barber says

            Also, Chris, I would like to point out that the sentence…

            “Again and again they advocate a particular view of what it means to be a ________ and anything falling outside those parameters should be shunned…”

            …is a statement that can be made about every believer except, perhaps (and that’s a very shaky “perhaps”) for the most thoroughgoing non-denominational ecumenist.

          • Bart Barber says

            So, they kept Wes Kenney’s words, but have they kept Wes Kenney? Who was running SBC Today back then?

            1. Wes Kenney
            2. Tim Rogers
            3. Robin Foster
            4. Scott Gordon

            Now, there’s SBC Today back in the days of Baptist Identity. Scott Gordon’s a five-point Calvinist (and was one back then). Tim comments and blogs some, but how much does he author at SBC Today? What about Robin? Is Wes an anti-Calvinist?

            I’m not trying to throw the folks over at SBC Today at present under the bus. They’re good people. They’re friends, the ones of them that I know. I’m simply trying to make the point that “Baptist Identity = Anti-Calvinism” is silly, lazy, obtuse, inaccurate, propagandist history.

          • says

            Bart,

            Sure, but the issue here is a particular group of Baptists are talking about a narrow view of Baptist life and are insisting it should become the norm, despite the fact that it is much more restrictive than what is found in our denominational confessions.

            If I understand your position correctly, your concerns are primarily about issues that are addressed in our confession – how to practice the ordinances, how to “do church”, etc, whereas the issues central to today’s SBC Today go beyond the BF&M and seek a much narrower definition of what it means to be a Baptist.

          • Bart Barber says

            Chris,

            The themes are entirely dissimilar. Right.

            That’s why I’m arguing that these are not the same movement, but are instead two distinguishable separate movements. You’ve made my case for me.

            OK, Jared. Now I’m done. I promise.

          • says

            Bart & Chris, I’m sorry, I didn’t realize ya’ll were on the right post. I missed the beginning of the exchange. Feel free to carry on. No problem here.

      • says

        Bart,

        If you will look at my post I did not lump all the BI guys together, and you would definitely not be of the Harris/Lumpkins camp. You even indicate one reason why you would not be in that group- you didn’t sign the Traditionalist statement (and if I remember the blog post they were good reasons)

        I’m sorry you think the association of the two camps is lazy, but I humbly disagree. It may be incomplete, because as you pointed out not all of the principles in the BI movement are now associated with the Traditionalists, but many of them are. Others, like yourself, remain true to the BI idea, but do so with a bigger tent and less rancor. I would not want to put you, a man I respect and whose writings I read and value, into the camp of divisiveness.

        Anyhow, if you thought my assertion pigeonholed you into a position you do not occupy, I apologize. I do stand by the assertion that the more hardcore and disagreeable members of the BI movement make up the bulk of the Traditionalist movement, and are behind the majority of the divisiveness that has occurred since the SBC 13 meeting. This “article” just being another example.

        I hope that clarifies my words for you and can at least remove the “lazy” label.

  11. volfan007 says

    In all fairness to Harris, the word “most” was used. Why? Why most? It appears that the committee left the door open for some to believe that some babies die and go to Hell. It does appear that they’re saying that we have some SB’s, who believe that infants spend eternity in Hell. If that’s not the case, then why use the word “most?”

    I think Harris brought up a legitimate concern. Why was that word picked?

    David

    • says

      David,

      What some of you seem to fail to realize is there are more that two positions. There are some, like me, who refuse to say what Scripture does not say. The Bible does not teach that all babies go to Heaven. On the other hand, the Bible says pretty much nothing about the fate of infants who die. Thus there are those of us who believe we cannot claim to know what God has not told us so our position is, “I don’t know.” The Bible does not say, so I cannot affirm that all babies who die go to Heaven – at least not without insisting on things God has not revealed.

  12. Louis says

    David:

    “Most” seems to be the right word.

    There are 16 million of us. To say “all” would be an unprovable assertion.

    It would be appropriate to use “Most.”

    I have never read, seen or heard of any Southern Baptist preaching or writing that infants will spend eternity in hell.

    Still, I would use “most” out of an abundance of caution.

    You never know what some group out there might think.

    • volfan007 says

      Louis,

      I have heard SB’s say that a) they dont know if babies go to Heaven or not; or b) elect babies go to Heaven, and others do not.

      David

    • says

      Louis, I have watched at the other site where you are sort of verbally chastised for your comments and questions. But I do think you are right to do so. This whole dust up seems to be about trying to have a “gotcha” moment of some sort. Do these men affirm the BF&M? if so, leave it.

      And as you rightly point out, no one should ever be expected to say that all SBs believe anything. Especially is it so on this debatable issue.

      One commenter there even said, “I just went and read the WCF on Baptism and it is obvious they believe that baptism would be the only recourse except to just declare they could be burning in hell.”

      Now that is just plain ridiculous. Only someone with an agenda to smear would make such a statement.

      Last, a Presbyterian pastor has a pretty good article on this. Link to follow. He says, rightly I think, that the church has never been totally of one mind on this. That should be well noted as this is discussed. I happen to hold that all infants and severely mentally challenged are regenerated and go to be with Jesus. But it is not outside orthodoxy at all to hold that only the elect of those such would go to be with Jesus. Ones holding such a position should not be held up as either unorthodox, wackos or sub Southern Baptists. Here is a good quote oastorally, from that article.

      Let us remember the fundamental principle of theological method stated in the opening chapter of the Confession, “The whole counsel of God, concerning all things necessary for his own glory, man’s salvation, faith and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture.” Where is it expressly said in Scripture that all who die in infancy are saved? Or from which passages of Scripture may such a doctrine be deduced by good and necessary consequences? “For the doctrine that God can and does regenerate some infants there was, in the judgment of the [Westminster] divines, competent Scripture proof. But for the doctrine that all who die in infancy are saved they could find no such proof. Sentiment was on its side, their aversion to the Roman doctrine of the limbus infantum commended it, there were perhaps Biblical considerations, which pointed to it in a general way – but they could not say ‘thus saith the Lord.’ And whatever light we may think God has given to His church since the Westminster Assembly it is very questionable indeed whether we have any warrant even now to include among ‘the things most surely believed among us, the doctrine that all who die in infancy are saved.”

      http://www.the-highway.com/infant-salvation_Davis.html

  13. volfan007 says

    BTW, Jarrod, I dont see much grace in your response to Harris. I don’t see that you are embracing the spirit of the Calvinist Advisory Committee by the way you went after Harris. And, when you wrote, “As Southern Baptists, I think we can do better than the example set by Harris. I think we can accurately represent one another, and then graciously interact with one another’s beliefs for the glory of God. I join with the spirit of the Calvinism Advisory Committee report. I invite Harris and you to do the same;” well, does the pot meeting the kettle mean anything to you?

    David

    • says

      Calling a brother to account is not a denial of speaking the truth in love. I don’t know Jarrod’s heart, so I don’t how much he loves Bro Harris, but I couldn’t find anything spiteful in his article. There was a problem with Harris’ article and he pointed it out. It goes to trying to help the brethren dwell together in unity, which is what Harris article was going against.

  14. William Thornton says

    When Gerald Harris, my fellow Georgian, wrote this editorial and it was followed by Peter Lumpkins putting it on his blog, I presumed it would be noticed. I commend Jared for putting here something that needs exposure. And can we put to rest the silly notion that a writer who writes something ihe intends to be read by thousands that he needs to be personally contacted every time someone disagrees with him? Sheesh. Jared and anyone else has a green light here.

    Jared would have done better to feature in his title the actually issue to be discussed rather than to attempt to draw attention with his pet rejoinder du jour, “logical fallicies.” I recommend the following title to frame the questions:

    GERALD HARRIS, SBC CALVINISTS, AND BABIES BURNING IN HELL

    (I may use that later on my blog, so please, don’t steal it.)

    That’s the question. That’s the issue. It needs some exposure and discussion.

    As an aside, there is a pattern here with Jared. Joe McKeever and Gerald Harris have run marathons, while Jared hasn’t yet made it around the block. That doesn’t settle the question of rightness but it should help gain an understanding of the matters. Both Joe and Gerald were making good points, informally, non-academically, ones that come out of their long experience as pastor and other positions in the SBC. It’s sort of like Jared is a mailroom clerk who reads the company bulletin board and dissects company policy line-by-line. Fine from a limited knowledge base but with vast gaps in the same. The mailroom clerk really has no clue about what happens outside of the basement, much less of things on the top floor.

    Be that as it may, Jared makes reasonable points but isn’t understanding something much more serious. I list them below.

    1. Pages’ Calvinist committee notwithstanding, Calvinsts in the SBC are under heavy scrutiny. Have been. Are. Will be. Some is undeserved. Some is deserved.

    2. SBCers of some broader exposure do know of Calvinists who believe babies go to hell. How many? Can’t say. It has been one of the contentious issues in churches where Calvinist pastors have had difficulty. The question is quite a salient one. It is not wrong to ask.

    3. Many of us have had the experience that when some Calvinists are asked the question directly, “Do babies go to hell?” there ensues a tap dance like you’ve never seen. Some Calvinists, unlike Jared here, will not answer the question. Harris knows this. We may be seeing this from the Calvinist committee. May.

    4. I’m guessing that Harris also knows that most SBC churches don’t know enough to press this particular question with a candidate for a church position; hence, his editorial. And I’m guessing that he appreciates the broader exposure Jared is giving him here on SBCV. The more Baptists that understand. The better off we all are.

    So, calling “logical fallacy” on Harris doesn’t solve anything. It’s not like a referee blowing his whistle and play stops.

    I was a little surprised to see this from Gerald and am not sure what triggered it.

    But, let’s have the discussion.

    • says

      William said: “It’s sort of like Jared is a mailroom clerk who reads the company bulletin board and dissects company policy line-by-line.”

      Now see, thats what I’m talkin bout, lets just trash the people we disagree with, heck with all this bein’ nice and junk.

      Seriously, Bill, that was a pretty tactless, and mean spirited posting.

      • William says

        Hmmm, I’ve never been called “Bill” but have been called much worse.

        Jared is missing the big picture. Reject my analogy of you wish.

    • says

      William, if I only responded to people I was “worthy” to respond to, I would never write another article so long as I live. I’m not a big deal; never will be. I’m fine with that.

      • Rick Patrick says

        Don’t sell yourself short. You are one heartbeat away from being one heartbeat away from being President of the Southern Baptist Convention.

      • William Thornton says

        You will have noticed that I commended your piece for calling attention to the matter and that I stated I have no problem with your doing it.

        You put “worthy” in quotes as if I actually said the same. You often chastise commenters for commenting on what you did not say. I recommend that you take your own advice here.

        • says

          William, based on this statement from you, I think I made a reasonable inference:

          “Joe McKeever and Gerald Harris have run marathons, while Jared hasn’t yet made it around the block. That doesn’t settle the question of rightness but it should help gain an understanding of the matters. Both Joe and Gerald were making good points, informally, non-academically, ones that come out of their long experience as pastor and other positions in the SBC. It’s sort of like Jared is a mailroom clerk who reads the company bulletin board and dissects company policy line-by-line. Fine from a limited knowledge base but with vast gaps in the same. The mailroom clerk really has no clue about what happens outside of the basement, much less of things on the top floor.”

          If you’re not saying I’m unworthy to respond to McKeever and Harris, what are you saying?

  15. William Thornton says

    A little more.

    I have the rank and unverified conjecture that Calvinism in the SBC has a ceiling. That is, there are only a limited number of SBCers who will buy in, partly because of behavior we have seen and are seeing from Calvinists and partly because of some of their beliefs like the babies question.

    Just my opinion…

    • Max says

      Perhaps the Calvinism Committee was itself the ceiling? I was struck by the photo which accompanied this piece showing Dr. Mohler sitting front and center on the stage.

    • says

      Partly because of some of their beliefs, …like strident evangelism and missions? Yeah, there are just too many lazy baptists to buy into that!

  16. says

    Some are trying to both sensationalize and shame some on this issue of the destiny of infants with headlines using “infant damnation” and “infants burning in hell.”

    I think it is perfectly acceptable to say as Chris Roberts said above that “I simply do not know.” As I have said, I think that infants dying in infancy and the severely mentally handicapped will be with Jesus upon death because God regenerates them and shows them mercy, not because anything in them demands it or anything in God’s character demands it.

    God would be perfectly consistent with His character if He chose not to regenerate them. I happen to come down, albeit tentatively given the biblical record, on the other side of it.

    • says

      That points to a good clarification: I do believe they will be in Heaven, but this is a tentatively held belief. The Bible does not say so we simply cannot be dogmatic about it. I can state my general belief based on the hints I think are in the Bible, but I cannot make it an item on a statement of faith or an area of core theological agreement since the Bible says so little.

      • says

        I think you and I are in the same place Chris. And to try and make someone choose and state a dogmatic position is very unwise. Many quite able theologians of old and current have been on both sides and in the tentative position.

      • William says

        Chris, what do you say to the mom holding her dead newborn?

        “I tentatively think…”
        “Not really certain…”
        “I do believe…tentatively…”

        I respect you and others for your carefully studied, seriously held beliefs and can expect nothing more than that they be stated forthrightly when asked.

        • says

          Would you offer false comfort? Would you reassure her with words not found in Scripture? Would you give her a lie if it makes her feel better?

          Comfort her with confidence in God, that he is good, he is just, and he can be trusted. But if she were to ask me point blank, “Will I see my child again?” I likely would say something very much like what I’ve said here: the Bible does not plainly tell us what happens to children who die, but here is what I think and here is why I think it…

          • William says

            It is not false comfort for me though it seems to be for you.

            You used all the half-way language: tentative, can’t be dogmatic, general belief, not a statement of faith…

            And it may be “false comfort” and a “lie” for you to say babies go to heaven but don’t impose that conclusion on me, or for that matter, I’d speculate for the vast majority of SBC clergy.

            I respect your views here.

          • says

            I don’t care what you or the vast majority of SBC clergy think. I care what the Bible says. The Bible does not say that babies who die go to Heaven. Nor does it say babies who die go to Hell. It does offer some pretty subtle hints that give us reason to think that perhaps babies who die go to Heaven, but it offers nothing greater than that. If we say more than that, we are giving people something we have not received from God.

          • William Thornton says

            Chris, I said I respect your views but I’d recommend that you drop the “we” in this: “If we say more than that, we are giving people something we have not received from God” and replace it with “I”. It’s your view, your opinion, your conclusion. You cannot impose it on me, nor can I impose mine on you.

            Let the Calvinist plainly state his or her views.

          • says

            William,

            Come now, the Bible is a book that holds the same universal meaning no matter what our individual understandings. So if my understanding of the Bible is that it offers little more than hints about the fate of infants who die, then I believe this will be true whether you are reading it or I am reading it or Billy Graham is reading it or Joel Osteen is reading it (assuming he ever does). Thus I can speak unequivocally as “we” about the Bible since the Bible’s meaning is the same no matter who is reading it. You may disagree with my understanding, but I won’t relativize my language for your sake. The Bible does not tell us plainly or clearly or firmly what happens to children who die, thus no one can offer firm biblical assurances about the condition of those children who die. It matters not what their view is on the subject, it matters only what the Bible says.

          • William Thornton says

            Chris, you said: “So if my understanding of the Bible is that it offers little more than hints about the fate of infants who die, then I believe this will be true whether you are reading it or I am reading it or Billy Graham is reading it or Joel Osteen is reading it (assuming he ever does). Thus I can speak unequivocally as “we” about the Bible since the Bible’s meaning is the same no matter who is reading it.”

            Uh, no, unless your understanding is in fact the Bible’s meaning. IOW, if your understanding is accepted as the definition. I am unwilling to subjugate Bible truth to your understanding of it, however brilliant and thoughtful. I never questioned whether or not you believe it to be true.

            My calvinist sonar is pinging like crazy on this one. ;)

          • says

            William,

            1. I don’t deny that people disagree with me from time to time.

            2. I don’t deny that I may will be wrong on virtually everything.

            3. But so long as what I believe is what I believe, I have no reason not to think of my beliefs in universal terms. Truth is true for everyone, and if I believe X is truth, then I will believe X is true for everyone. If anyone comes along speaking Y, I will not say that he disagrees with me, I will say that he is wrong. If we do anything less, we are playing the part of the relativist.

        • says

          > Chris, what do you say to the mom holding her dead newborn?

          William, what do you say to the child holding her dead mother?

          We can cast emotionalism around all day.

          What do you say to the mother-in-law weeping beside the hospital bed of her 98 year old mother who suffered years of cancer, chemo, excruciating pain, and finally a traumatic death who was a faithful Mormon her whole life yet rejected the Jesus of the bible? What do you say to the parents of a 16 year old who has never professed faith who was killed in a drunk driving accident?

          Maybe our answer should be “That’s too bad. If only your 16 year old child had died a few years earlier, then God’s love would have placed them in heaven.”

          Can you honestly say in one hospital room “I don’t know, was your 16 year old son a believer?” and go next door and say “I am 100% sure that your child is in heaven right now because God loves children!”

          What if mother #1 overheard that?!

          Why can’t we encourage both in the same way? And why in the world do we see some sinners in a better light than any other sinner? Your son in in heaven because he was 2 months old when he died. Your daughter is in hell because she was 17 and never professed faith in Christ.

          I see why Origen caused so much trouble.

          “The judge of the earth will do right.”
          “God works all things according to His good pleasure.”
          “God is good all the time.”
          “John the baptist leapt FOR JOY in his mother’s womb when the still in utero Jesus was near.” (i.e. God can work faith even in babies in the womb)

          I am not sure where babies go when they die, but I do know this – not one of God’s elect will be lost. Ever.

          “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.” (John 10:28-30, ESV)

          Maybe the question we should be asking is not “do babies go to hell”, instead, maybe these:

          1) Do any elect go to hell?
          2) Are all babies elect?
          3) Can an elect baby become non-elect adult?
          4) Are all babies born saved then lose their salvation at a certain age of accountability, then have the potential to gain it back again?

          Though I personally believe that not all babies are elect, and only the elect go to heaven, I can at least accept Spurgeon’s view of this. He believed, not that all babies are elect, but that God would not allow the non-elect to die before they came to understand their sin. I’m not sure you can find that in scripture, but at least it still puts salvation squarely in God’s hands, and if you have a problem with sinners in hell (no matter what age they were when they died), it covers that as well.

  17. says

    Quick observations:

    1. Harris wrote an editorial–anything he claims as fact should be fact, but anything else should be assumed opinion or conjecture. That’s the reality of an editorial. A news article should be assumable as fact.

    2. It does read to me like Harris is trying to provoke a discussion here. Whether or not he is doing so for funsies or out a legitimate concern goes to his motives, which are hard to evaluate since I don’t subscribe to the Christian Index and therefore only hear of a Harris editorial when it garners huge attention. The CI is published 2x a month, and I can remember twice in the last year that his editorials have been reposted out.

    On that, editorials are supposed to provoke discussion. If your editorial is boring, then why write it?

    3. I do have some concerns in the way Harris presented this. Certainly all the wording of the 5T statement came from the committee members, not just the nebulous parts. They were charged with writing something that reflected on the entire convention, based on their knowledge, experience, and breadth of contacts. Harris does seem to impute the view of infants in hell to committee members, but his wording allows for him to have meant only that the committee members know someone unlike anyone he knows: a Southern Baptist that believes some babies might go to hell.

    4. My first read of Harris’ editorial was that he was being overly assumptive regarding the individuals that did not respond to his email. From a methods perspective, I would wonder how long he gave them to respond, etc… Assuming the best about Harris, however, I have to allow that he gave adequate time unless he emailed someone who is disconnected for the past month. (I think one of the committee members actually is on a one-month sabbatical, so that’s a possibility).

    5. I think Harris’ editorial raises two questions that need to be considered:

    A. Do we need to re-examine our doctrinal basis as Southern Baptists regarding salvation issues? If it’s a problem that there might exist a group of people who call themselves Southern Baptists, are willing to support CP Missions guided by the BFM2K, but hold that some morally incompetent folks are not saved, then we need to address that. Openly.

    B. How well do we handle it when someone pokes our side of the debate with a stick?

    6. The most intriguing thing to me was Harris’ statement about how there may be some SBC Calvinists that are “beginning” to feel uncomfortable with some of the views espoused by some Calvinistic theologians. Really? Many a Calvinist has stated that fact many times: the edges do not represent them. The anti-evangelistic, the anti-missionary, the “you can never know…” folks. I have heard it, seen it in the blog world, and a few other places.

    Yet some of the anti-Calvinistic folks have insisted that all Calvinists belong in the same lump. Here we have a statement that there is “beginning” to be distinction…which to me shows that Harris has perhaps not seen or heard from Calvinists that have insisted there is a distinction for quite some time.

    I will make one additional observation: I am working off the reproductions linked in a few places of the Harris editorial. I’m not a Christian Index subscriber, so I do not have it as a first source.

  18. says

    First, I am very dissappointed in Bro. Harris. Seems he’s brewin’ up a fight. (Lumpkins doesn’t even deserve mention.)

    But I will go on record here to say, that while I am sympathetic to the idea that small children go to heaven when they die, I can’t prove it scripturally. I think thats the case, andhope it is. But I also believe man is born fallen, spiritually dead and it is only by grace through faith that one is born again, forgiven, and granted eternal life.

    How God makes that work with little babies is up to Him. And if God EVER was to allow eternal punishment for a baby He would still be a Just God. I’m not saying He has. I’m just saying He is a rock, His work is perfect and all His ways are justice. He is a God of truth without iniquity.

    But, I don’t think this is even a tertiary level doctrine, certainly not one worth verbal attack.
    ____
    Next, I see that Lumpkins has been excised from your previous posting (if only some people would excise themselves) but in response to his comparison of J. Dagg who argued in favor of slavery to some un-named SBC Leaders who believe that God will send babies to hell; I replied thusly:
    I know you (Bro P.L.) must see the vitriol that is unwarranted in your comparison of the slavery debate and the doctrines surrounding the death of infants. But in case someone else doesn’t see it, Dagg was wrong, we won’t go into all the reasons here, but he was advocating a “Practice” that was inhumane and ghastly. Some modern reformed Baptists (his accusations don’t actually name anyone just suggest they are leaders) are not practicing or encouraging the practice of sending babies to hell. This is “apples and oranges” and once again Bro. Lumpkins (and I use the term brother hopefully) just wants to paint those with whom he disagrees theologically in the worst light possible.
    It is prejudicial behavior on his part and also inhumane and ghastly.

    • says

      Hi Clark,

      You claim you “replied thusly” to my Dagg analogy. Did you reply on my site or another? Just so you and others know, it wasn’t my site on which you apparently “replied thusly.” At least no comment from you is or has been in moderation. Nor was it apparently logged at all since I neither received an email concerning it nor was it inadvertently pitched in the spam bucket via the spam filter.

      Have a good evening.

      With that, I am…
      Peter

        • says

          Well, sorry to disappoint, Clark, but no such comment came through either via email, moderation, or even inadvertent spam (typepad spam filters are overly sensitive). I’ll be glad to take the liberty to copy/paste your comment here onto the thread there and offer some response. Thanks.

    • William says

      You may think this to be a sub-tertiary doctrine unworthy of all this but I feel sure that many a pastor would exhaust their goodwill in a congregation if they offered the two paragraphs above that you do on the subject of the destiny of babies. I know more than one who has.

      Stuff like this is what Harris was aiming at, I think.

      Speak up. Let the chips fall where they may.

          • says

            Your critique seems to be, “Your view would not be popular among your people.” But what concern is that of ours? We do not evaluate theology on the basis of its popularity.

          • William says

            Chris, you are responding yet again to the words you attempt to put in my mouth. Try something different, my friend.

          • William says

            I was merely asking how your theology might work itself out on the real world. If I was evaluating, it was my estimation of what reaction you would receive. I respect that you believe your view to be biblical. You can offer the same to me without attempting to impose your remote speculations and conclusions of my motivations.

            This is the sort of thing that makes my Calvinistic sonar start pinging. It’s had a lot of practice the last few years.

          • says

            William,

            You might respect the fact that I was evaluating your meaning based on the words you chose to use – words which evaluated my theology on the basis of its popularity in the pew. Tickling itching ears and all that.

  19. Bill Mac says

    Again, this is not a question of whether we can gather enough proof-texts to support infant salvation. It is about whether God has revealed enough of Himself to us in His word for us to conclude that infants and the incompetent are saved if they die. I believe He has. If you think it is possible that God will cast a 3 day old infant into hell, then you have a different understanding of God than I do. You say that God’s nature does not demand it. I say it does.

      • John Wylie says

        Bill Mac,

        I thought you might find this quote by Spurgeon interesting.

        “I have never, at any time in my life, said, believed, or imagined that any infant, under any circumstances, would be cast into hell. I have always believed in the salvation of all infants, and I intensely detest the opinions which your opponent dared attribute to me. I do not believe that on this earth, there is a single professing Christian holding the damnation of infants; or if there be, he must be insane, or utterly ignorant of Christianity.” Ian H. Murray, Letters of Charles Haddon Spurgeon: Selected with Notes by Iain H. Murray (London: Banner of Truth, 1992), 150.

        • Bill Mac says

          John: I read your piece. Very good. I especially like that quote.

          Now, as I said in my first comment, I’m not defending Harris. No matter what the outcome of this little episode, he’s going to continue his crusade and we need to recognize it for what it is.

  20. Ron F. Hale says

    Jared,
    Below is point 3 of your June 3 article entitled: Why I Am Allowing Myself to be nominated as SBC 2nd Vice President …

    3. I want to promote unity in the SBC. I think Traditionalists, Calvinists, and everything in between in the SBC can work together. Since the founding of the Southern Baptist convention, Southern Baptists of different stripes have been able to work together. There’s no reason to divide beyond the Baptist Faith and Message 2000. I believe we’ll accomplish far more together than we will if we’re divided. Hopefully, this year will be one of renewal as Calvinists and Traditionalists reach across the aisle for the sake of the gospel, and for the sake of the future of the SBC.

    Well … you got “elected” — you are now the 2nd VP of “All” Southern Baptists. Respectfully, I don’t think you are promoting unity. Have you talked to our Presdent about your current concern? Have you talked to Dr. Page? Or, are you just addressing these issues all by your lonesome?

    • says

      Ron, I do think I’m promoting unity. I don’t think the path to unity in the SBC is to use logical fallacies (silence and straw-men) to “prove” that other Southern Baptists believe something they indeed may not believe. Harris did not interact with anyone’s words, and insinuated that someone on the committee believes some infants who die in their infancy go to Hell.

      Once again, from my above article:

      “If we’re to move forward, we must speak honestly about what each other believes and interact with actual words, statements, and beliefs instead of assuming the worst about one another’s beliefs based on logical fallacies. As Southern Baptists, I think we can do better than the example set by Harris. I think we can accurately represent one another, and then graciously interact with one another’s beliefs for the glory of God. I join with the spirit of the Calvinism Advisory Committee report. I invite Harris and you to do the same.”

  21. Ron F. Hale says

    Jared,

    Yes Sir, then I will add something …

    The Canons of Dordt on Divine Election and Reprobation record the following in Articles 10 and 17:

    Article 10: Election Based on God’s Good Pleasure:

    But the cause of this undeserved election is exclusively the good pleasure of God. This does not involve his choosing certain human qualities or actions from among all those possible as a condition of salvation, but rather involves his adopting certain particular persons from among the common mass of sinners as his own possession. As Scripture says, When the children were not yet born, and had done nothing either good or bad…, she (Rebecca) was told, “The older will serve the younger.” As it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated” (Rom. 9:11-13). Also, All who were appointed for eternal life believed (Acts 13:48).

    Article 17: The Salvation of the Infants of Believers:

    Since we must make judgments about God’s will from his Word, which testifies that the children of believers are holy, not by nature but by virtue of the gracious covenant in which they together with their parents are included, godly parents ought not to doubt the election and salvation of their children whom God calls out of this life in infancy.

    (Article 10) seems to rest firmly in God’s divine election and that some will be chosen (by electing love) and some will be passed over (condemned to hell); those whom God hates.

    (Article 17) points out that infants of the Elect (Believers) are children of the covenant and by virtue of the gracious covenant if these children die in infancy – their parents ought not doubt the election and salvation of their children. Their death is seen as “those whom God calls out of this life.”

    With all this said, I like what Dr. Steve Lemke once said in an article entitled: Age of Accountability – he said, “Baptists have always believed that since infants are not yet capable of actual sin, they go to heaven.”
    This short statement wraps it up for me.

    Blessings!

    • says

      Ron, the question is, “Has any Southern Baptist on the Calvinism Committee argued that some babies who die in infancy go to Hell?” That’s what Harris insinuated. Quoting the Canons of Dort doesn’t prove anything about the Calvinism Committee.

      Also, I think Lemke is wrong (If I’m understanding you right.). Babies who die in infancy go to Heaven due to the grace of God and the atonement of Christ, not because they haven’t sinned.

    • says

      Ron,

      You seem to suffer from the same malady as Don. Article 10 says nothing about the general fate of infants. Its only observation regarding infants actually has nothing to do with infants (it speaks of something that happens before they are even infants) and it comes directly from Scripture where Romans 9 makes clear that God elected one to salvation and one to damnation before there was any possibility of action (which includes choice) on the part of those individuals (I know, I know – you have myriad ways to try to dance around what God has said here).

      Then article 17 also says nothing about the general condition of infants but speaks directly to the condition of the children of believers. As it happens, I think Article 17 is wrong: Scripture offers no such assurance to believing parents. Even so, the articles you quote say nothing at all about the fate of all children who die in infancy. Notice we aren’t told about the children of unbelievers, nor is there discussion about whether or not children who die are elect. We are told something about election generally and we are told something about the children of believers particularly. No word about the children of unbelievers.

  22. says

    More from Dr. Robert E. Davis, whom I cited earlier:

    In the centuries after the Confessions were written, further consolidation of opinion occurred. At the end of the 19th century Warfield states, “It is the confessional doctrine of the Reformed churches and of Reformed churches alone that all believers’ infants, dying in infancy, are saved.”29 The agnosticism regarding the salvation of uncovenanted infants, “has given place to an evergrowing universality of conviction that these infants too are included in the election of grace; so that to-day few Calvinists can be found who do not hold with Toplady, Doddridge, Newton, Rice, Breckenridge, and Hodge that all who die in infancy are the children of God and enter at once into his glory…simply because God, in his infinite love, has chosen them in Christ before the foundation of the world, by a loving fore-ordination of them unto adoption as sons in Jesus Christ.”30 Is that then what “elect infants dying in infancy” means, that all such infants are saved?

    The footnotes are to Warfield. B.B. Warfield, “The Development of the Doctrine of Infant Salvation,” Works, (New York: Oxford University Press. 1932, Vol. IX), 411ff.

  23. John Wylie says

    Jared,

    Honestly I have read the comments by Mr. Harris and cannot agree with your assertion of a logical fallacy. If he said that he concluded that everyone who didn’t respond must by default believe in the possibility of infant damnation, that would be a logic fallacy. That’s not what he said, no he said that their silence caused him to conclude that “they did not receive my emails, they simply chose not to respond, or they were hesitant to acknowledge personally that they affirm that certain infants who die are not among the elect and will suffer judgment in hell.”

    Jared if they were on sabbaticals, vacations, tending to their churches and had not checked their emails that would mean that they had yet to receive this email. If they saw it but were busy that would mean that they chose not to respond. And then Mr. Harris states the last possibility, namely, that perhaps some of these who had not responded did indeed believe in the possibility of non elect infants. How is that such a stretch? Even Chris Roberts has been leaving that door open as a possibility during this entire discussion. (BTW Chris this is not a personal attack on you.)

    Neither Mr. Harris nor anyone else is asserting that all Calvinists espouse the idea of infant damnation. I have a quote by Spurgeon in my article on this subject where he calls people who would dare believe such a thing miscreants and criminals. So obviously, not all Calvinists believe this idea. Neither is he even insinuating that any of the advisory committee members are espousing such an idea. He is simply saying that for whatever reason some of the committee members are not responding.

    • says

      John,

      Except Harris ignored the other possible position, which is the only position I firmly hold: that we just do not know. Harris is playing a word game. He is not presenting the case fairly, he is the schoolyard gossip who when someone doesn’t act as he wishes, begins to spread speculation and innuendo in an attempt to maim and defame. They did not respond to his email – big deal. But he, being a big Baptist editor, took offense and decided to write about the incident and focus on the worst possible conclusion (while completely leaving out the fact that one might hold a neutral position on this issue since the Bible is silent on this issue).

      • John Wylie says

        But Chris even if someone holds to the view that we don’t know, ( a position I cannot begin to articulate how much I disagree with), than they should have said just that. Once again, even in your scenario Mr. Harris committed no logical fallacy. And if people are worried about being maimed or defamed all they have to do is answer the question. I really don’t see how that is too much to ask of someone who serves on a high profile SBC committee.

        • John Wylie says

          And I’m sorry but it is a big deal when you serve on a high profile committee in the SBC and simply fail to respond to a question by an editor of an SBC affiliated state paper.

        • says

          John,

          It’s right here:

          “We agree that most Southern Baptists believe that those who die before they are capable of moral action go to heaven through the grace of God and the atonement of Christ, even as they differ as to why this is so.”

          Harris writes, “What Southern Baptists are undecided on the issue or are willing to affirm that some people who die as infants (or are mentally incompetent) will suffer judgment in hell?” I have been a Southern Baptist for 62 years and I have never met any Baptist in our Convention who admitted to believing that children who die before they are capable of moral action go to hell. Therefore it would appear that the nebulous statement about the destiny of children would have to be influenced by a person or persons on the advisory team.”

          And based on their silence in response to him, Harris concludes, “Therefore it would appear that the nebulous statement about the destiny of children would have to be influenced by a person or persons on the advisory team.”

          Out of millions of SB, it’s perfectly logical that at least a couple people believe that some infants dying in infancy don’t go to be with Jesus in death. Perhaps someone on the committee knows some. But it is unfair to conclude that one or more committee member is among that few. He doesn’t know.

          Further, so what if one does? That’s not a disqualifying belief, is it?And why must they clarify? To satisfy inquiring minds?

          • John Wylie says

            Les,

            I’ve always appreciated the tenor of your remarks on this blog so as always it’s with respect that I wish to respond to you. The reason that these committee members ought to respond is because they agreed to serve on a very high profile committee that is supposedly committed to mending this rift in the SBC. If they do not wish to answer these kinds of questions they ought to have refused a spot on the committee.

          • says

            John,

            I’m just not understanding why their serving on the committee requires them to state their position on a disputable issue. It has been a disputed matter for centuries.

            But let me ask you, if one or more of them said their position is that we don’t have enough biblical evidence to say for sure, would that be satisfactory? Sort of Chris’ position?

            Thanks brother, a salutation I try to include more and more but have left it off more today than I should…since we are all brothers here.

          • John Wylie says

            Les,

            Thanks brother. If you have been reading my comments over the years you know very well that I have been calling for a cease fire in the SBC between Calvinists and Non-Cals. But I personally think that people in the SBC deserve to know what committee members think about such issues because they really lie at the heart of the rift between Calvinists and Non-Calvinists.

            Let me explain what I mean, and I know that this is going to be simply dismissed as anecdotal but this is my personal experience with this issue and why I’m touchy about it. About three years ago a family in our church lost their 2 and a half year old daughter to an accidental drowning. I did everything I could to minister to them and I can report that they are still serving God and are some of the best people that I have ever known. During my seeking counsel with some of my preacher friends as to how I should minister to this couple and their other children (quite frankly I was overwhelmed), two of my Calvinist friends suggested that the baby was in hell. I personally find even the possibility of infant damnation as repugnant. And the fact is that at least some Calvinists do espouse such beliefs.

          • says

            John,

            I think we will disagree as to whether they should have to eport their position on this.

            But on the tragedy the family suffered, all I can say is that IMO the Calvinists who said that were at best very lacking in pastoral skills and empathy and at worst way out of line. I think one can surely believe that it is possible that infants dying in infancy are condemned, I don’t think there’s enough biblical evidence to say that with certainty.

            And I’m not sure there’s enough evidence to say that 100% certainly the baby is with Jesus. But, I would, and have said to church members who have experienced such a loss that there is no biblical reason I can see where they should doubt that their child is with Jesus.

            I have had to deal with this several times in the church and once when our oldest daughter lost her baby in the womb at about two months. It is close to home. I suspect there are many on here who have family who have had miscarriages.

            The hardest one I had to deal with in the church was an 8 year old girl who accidentally hanged herself on the backyard playground swing rope. She had not made any sort of profession of faith. Probably the hardest situation I ever had to deal with.

            Thanks brother.

          • John Wylie says

            Thanks Brother for your response. As I said I always find your comments very thoughtful and kind. I’m very sorry to hear about your daughter’s miscarriage. God bless you and your family.

          • says

            John, thank you. I think our interaction has stayed mostly on a good level. I’m grateful for that and your part in that. I’m constantly working on my demeanor on blogs. Still need more grace.

            Her miscarriage was a couple years ago. And I believe that baby is with Jesus. And just 25 days ago she delivered her third and our 5th grandchild. We are very thankful.

            Blessings brother.

        • says

          John,

          “And if people are worried about being maimed or defamed all they have to do is answer the question.”

          Wait, are you saying that it is my responsibility to ensure that the Christian editor of a Baptist newspaper doesn’t spread gossip against me?

          • John Wylie says

            Chris,

            He didn’t spread any gossip whatsoever. And if you are serving on a highly visible committee that is supposedly committed to mending the rift between Calvinists and Non-Calvinists then yes you should be respond to a question by an editor of a state paper.

          • says

            John,

            It is not gossip to say, “I didn’t hear from so-and-so, so here is what I think must be going on…”

            And no, not one of the people on that committee are obligated to answer a single question asked by Harris. That is not how committees work, that is not how the SBC works. Harris does not hold their time captive, no matter how important he thinks his question.

          • John Wylie says

            No not at all. He gave at least three possibilities of what he thought was going on. And none of them were beyond the realm of possibility by your own admission in your comments.

          • says

            John,

            Except his three possibilities were not the only possibilities, as I’ve already pointed out to you.

            Also, having given his three possibilities, where did his attention go and where did he spend the rest of his time and just what was he trying to imply in doing so?

          • John Wylie says

            Chris,

            Your assertion that there are other possibilities is what I find to be a logical fallacy. Either they had yet to receive the email or they had chosen not to respond…that pretty much covers the realm of possibilities.

          • says

            John,

            If he had left his list at just those two and ended his editorial there, I would have no problem with it. But he added a third option without adding a fourth. The third gave another possible view on the issue of children but it is not the only other possible view yet he attempted to present it that way. This was dishonest and, at best, misleading, on his part.

          • John Wylie says

            Brother you and I are getting nowhere. I fail to see the logical fallacy. It is a fact that some Calvinists do at least hold the possibility of infant damnation. Not all Calvinists but some. I believe that Mr. Harris’s suggestion is at least in the realm of possibility. This lies at the heart of the rift between Calvinists and Non-Calvinists, because for some of us Non-Cals it is a major sticking point.

          • says

            John,

            It has become a major sticking point because the non-Cals who want to push out the Cals have attempted to make it a major sticking point. This is a fabricated issue, made such by men like Harris who hope it will turn opinion against Calvinists. It is slimy, it is dishonest, but fortunately, I very much doubt it will work except among those whose opinions are already set on the matter.

          • John Wylie says

            Yeah you’re right Chris, I was just lying and being slimy about my own personal experience with this very subject. I know, I know anecdotal evidence.

          • says

            John,

            Speaking from my own anecdotal evidence, I know one or two Calvinists and I can’t think of a one who firmly believes that all (or any) children who die go to Hell.

          • John Wylie says

            And I have been personally told by three of my Calvinist friends that God sends non-elect infants to hell for His own glory. Even you in your own comments have expressed that the idea of infant damnation is a possibility.

          • says

            John,

            And I believe it is a possibility. I also believe it is a possibility – in fact, a likelihood – that God saves children who die. But Harris did not leave open the possibility of people like me who do not take a firm stance on any side of this issue since the Bible does not take a firm stance.

      • Debbie Kaufman says

        Not only do I agree with what Jared wrote in his comment, but to me, Harris is inciting a fight. He is essentially saying if those such as Tom Ascol do not answer him, then the above must be the case. How about they simply do not want to answer him. Period. Or, they are on vacation, or they are not reading the internet right now.

        Ron: To go for Jared being in office of the SBC is not only trashing but totally untrue. I appreciate that someone from the office of the SBC is challenging this. Usually you hear crickets chirping from anyone in any type of position in the SBC.

        • Debbie Kaufman says

          I am tired of this bullying fighting that Harris and Peter, et al are initiating based on nothing but partial quotes. That is lying and dishonesty at it’s highest. It needs to stop as it does nothing but incite division and fighting based on lies being passed off as truth.

  24. Tarheel says

    It’s a typical strategy of the non-cals attempts to marginalize Cals. Like previous attempts ain’t gonna work though, IMO.

    “cals don’t believe in evangelism”.

    “cals are a bunch of drunks.”

    “cals support child abuse”

    Now….

    “Cals believe in infant damnation.”

    It seems they’re hoping that throwing enough mud against the wall will eventually make it hard to tell the difference between the gossipy accusations and the truth.

    John said; “Its a fact that some Calvinists believe in eternal damnation of babies, not all but certainly some”

    Ok. I’ll give ya that – but what difference does it make that a some do unless you’re trying to tie something thats commonly viewed as offensive to all Calvinists for one reason or another?

    What if a state newspaper editor wrote because many pastors do and he hasn’t denied it “someone on an SBC committee discussing the sanctity marriage likely had an affair.” Would you fellas be defending that?

    Secular journalists argue that phrasing accusations as a question or putting a question mark at the end makes it fair game.

    I think Jared’s point is that this should not be the practice of Christian journalists writing for SBC state papers, even if it’s an “editorial”.

    I happen to agree with Jared.

    I also agree with Chris – the bible is not explicit enough on the topic to speak with absolute certainty….there are hints and reasonable conclusions one can come to that babies and mentally impaired persons go to heaven….and I think, even hope, this is the case.

    However, unwavering certainty (either way) is just not a textually supported position.

    • John Wylie says

      Tarheel,

      Here’s the problem brother, anyone who has read my comments over the years knows that I have been one of the people who has repeatedly called for an end to the misrepresentations of either side. By in large I think that the Calvinist presence in the convention is a positive and beneficial thing. But the very fact that you and Chris and at least a couple of other posters on this comment stream even leave the possibility open for infant damnation proves that Harris’s point has some validity.

      I think that it is amazing that several of you guys will assert that the Bible is silent on this matter, a statement that I believe is utterly mistaken, and yet vehemently defend the idea of regeneration prior to faith, which has absolutely no biblical support whatsoever. I understand why you believe in such a notion (regeneration prior to faith) because your theological paradigm requires it. That’s okay we all have our theological paradigms, and mine requires me to dismiss infant damnation and leave no room for it at all.

      I’m not trying to malign Calvinists or misrepresent them at all. As a matter of fact, I have great respect for many of them and some of them post regularly here.

      • says

        John,

        I won’t do it, but I could show you many biblical reasons to believe that regeneration precedes faith. I wouldn’t expect you to accept my argument or you would already be a Calvinist, but the argument exists, is clear, is compelling, and is thoroughly biblical.

        The same cannot be said for the argument that infants go to Heaven.

      • Tarheel says

        I didn’t say the bible was silent…I said its not explicit enough for a closed fist unwavering statement of certainity either way. The bible, however is clear and explicit that God is gloriously faithful, and just, and loving and whatever he does is righteous and He can act in no other way. Therefore, I’m comfortable leaving the matter in His hands.

        Perhaps, check that – I should have said; some non cals do as I indicated above. I should not have lumped you all together that was inappropriate and I apologize.

        You may not be one of them – but I’m comfortable saying Harris and Lumpkins and other “big microphone” guys are. It’s a never ending stream of mischaracterization, innuendo, attacks and mean spiritedness with them.

        Oh, and how could I have omited from my list of “Calvinist infractions” above.

        “cals lie during the pulpit search so they can get in churches and turn them Calvinist and takeover the denomination”

        (even Patterson, during the Calvinism committee report, repeated this as one of his main issues…but at least he acknowledged that while some do “hide” thier theology in interviews….it’s not just a Calvinist problem and called for honesty always from everyone. )

      • John Wylie says

        Chris,

        There are compelling biblical arguments that would indicate infants go to heaven. I won’t enumerate them here because you have already ruled that the Bible is silent about the matter. And I will guarantee you that there is vastly more biblical and compelling evidence that infants who die go to heaven than there are on regeneration preceding faith.

          • says

            As far as that goes I would read it and consider it but I would be very surprised if it’s anything I haven’t already seen. There isn’t much to go on in Scripture, so there are only a few passages to draw from, but those who use these passages to insist on a particular position are typically doing damage to the text.

          • John Wylie says

            Look Chris I have not tried to insult you here so please don’t question my honesty in dealing with a text. And I will reciprocate the same.

            Greg,

            Thanks for asking to see the texts. First of all, I will refrain from the text on David’s son with Bathsheba because I concede the weakness of the argument given there. This will be a cut and paste from a blog I wrote three years ago in response to my pastor friends in the account I related in an earlier post.

            What God Says About Children

            “And they brought unto him also infants, that he would touch them: but when his disciples saw it, they rebuked them. But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God. Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall in no wise enter therein.” (Luke 18:15-17)

            “At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them, And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me. But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe unto the world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh! Wherefore if thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off, and cast them from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire. And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire. Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven. For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost. How think ye? if a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray? And if so be that he find it, verily I say unto you, he rejoiceth more of that sheep, than of the ninety and nine which went not astray. Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish.” (Matthew 18:1-14)

            In these two passages we see Jesus teachings about children. He said of children “…of such is the kingdom of God.” indicating that the kingdom is made up of children. He said that we must humble ourselves as these children in order to “…enter the kingdom of heaven…” He said that it was not the will of the Father “…that one of these little ones should perish.”

            Further, if infants who die are damned it would cause some of the teachings in the Bible make no sense.

            “Wherefore then hast thou brought me forth out of the womb? Oh that I had given up the ghost, and no eye had seen me! I should have been as though I had not been; I should have been carried from the womb to the grave.” (Job 10:18-19)

            “If a man fathers a hundred children and lives many years, so that the days of his years are many, but his soul is not satisfied with life’s good things, and he also has no burial, I say that a stillborn child is better off than he.” (ESV) (Ecclesiastes 6:3)

            If infants who die are damned then Job’s and Solomon’s assertion would be ridiculous. How would dying at birth be something that Job longed for? How would a still born baby be superior to a man who lives a long time and does not enjoy the good of this life?

          • says

            Here are some more places in Scripture that ought to be considered:

            Ezek. 18:20 20 The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not bear the guilt of the father, nor the father bear the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself.

            The usual objection, that this only applies to fathers and not to Adam (the head of the race), fails in that it must hold true for Adam and Seth as well as for any other father and son. Thus, the chain of inherited adamic condemnation fails at the first link.

            Rom. 9:11 11 though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad—in order that God’s purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls—

            Far from being conceived in a state of condemnation, this tells us those in the womb have nothing good or bad on their record.

            Deut. 1:39 39 And as for your little ones, who you said would become a prey, and your children, who today have no knowledge of good or evil, they shall go in there. And to them I will give it, and they shall possess it.

            This is a quote of God Himself, who spoke of the knowledge of good and evil only one other time, to refer to the tree of Adam’s first sin. Therefore, when God says that little children do not have that knowledge, it strongly implies that they have not committed their first sin. Why is it that God named the forbidden tree in the garden, “The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil?” After all, He could have simply called it, “The Tree of Sin.” God used the name of the tree to link the first sin of Adam and Eve with the knowledge of good and evil. It was God who linked the knowledge of good and evil to the first sin of man, and it was God who described children and “little ones” as not having the knowledge of good or evil. Upon describing them as such, He declares that these little ones He will bring into the promised land, even though their rebellious parents will die in the wilderness.

            Rom. 7:8-11 8 But sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness. For apart from the law, sin lies dead. 9 I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin came alive and I died. 10 The very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me. 11 For sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me.

            Paul was without the law before he had an accountable understanding of the law. He was alive in the sense that the death sentence of condemnation that comes from knowledgeably breaking the law was not yet hanging over him. The Mosaic Law promised life to those who perfectly obeyed it. There were elements of grace within the Law that pointed to Christ, in the form of provisions for cleansing the guilty by substitutionary sacrifice. But even with these gracious provisions, no man ever followed the Law successfully. The Law was the hope of the Jews—their hope for life and acceptance from God. But to all who put their hope in the letter of the Law, only death and condemnation result. The sense in which Paul uses the words kill and death in these passages reflect the dashed hopes for life through the Law (which are realized either in this life or in the next).

            Though Paul speaks of sin working in him before his knowledge of the law, he does not speak of it as condemning sin, but rather, he is speaking of his sinful nature and tendencies. The text affirms that sin cannot work death except by the commandment when understood. It is only when the commandment came that Paul died, though the reason for his sin—his sinful nature—was working in him all along. The law here is not limited to the written Mosaic Law, but does include the law written on the hearts of all men; however, since Paul was raised and trained as a Jew, we cannot forget that his parents would have exposed him to the written law even from infancy. Paul’s first understanding of the law written on his heart would have had the written Mosaic Law as its ready expression.

            Romans 4:15 15 for the Law brings about wrath, but where there is no law, there also is no violation.

            Romans 5:13 13for until the Law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law.

            Romans 3:19-20 19Now we know that whatever the Law says, it speaks to those who are under the Law, so that every mouth may be closed and all the world may become accountable to God; 20because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin.

            What law can a zygote understand, seeing how it does not yet have a single brain cell? Clearly, the zygote does not yet have any law; and where there is no law, “sin is not imputed” and “there also is no violation.” The law speaks to men, giving them “the knowledge of sin,” “so that every mouth may be closed and all the world may become accountable to God.” These passages plainly show that it is the knowledge of sin that makes a man accountable to God.

            Ps. 62:12 …and that to you, O Lord, belongs steadfast love. For you will render to a man according to his work.

            Prov. 24:12 If you say, “Behold, we did not know this, “does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not he who keeps watch over your soul know it, and will he not repay man according to his work?

            Matt. 16:27 For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done.

            Rom. 2:6 He will render to each one according to his works

            Counting Rev. 20:12-13, which will be addressed below, those are six explicit statements of Scripture. God will “render to,” “repay,” and “judge” a man: “according to his work,” “according to his work,” “according to what he has done,” “according to his works,” “according to what they had done,” and “according to what they had done.” Nowhere in the context of any of these six statements can any shred of textual evidence be found to support the idea that God will judge any man for the deed of Adam in addition to his own deeds, or that He will judge a man according to his relationship to Adam.

  25. tom bryant says

    I am so glad the committee has helped to mend all the rifts between Trads and Calvinists.

    You may think that is just an off handed comment. But it is about how deep the chasm is between both groups and will continue to be. Both groups are convinced they are absolutely right and the other side is absolutely wrong. The differences do not just reflect differences in salvation but also in our view of God and how we view what Baptists are.

    It might just be a battle to the death… and the death, I fear, is that of the SBC.

    • John Wylie says

      Tom,

      With all due respect, I don’t think it will be a battle to the death. Anyone who knows Baptist history knows that there has been an in house debate between Cals and Non-Cals for centuries and there have been times when the rhetoric has been much more abrasive than this.

      The fact is that there is not going to be a mass of exodus of either side in the SBC. I got my dander up about the issue at hand because I feel very passionately about it, but I respect the Calvinists very much who post here on this blog. And personally I think the SBC would be diminished in more ways than just numerically if we were to lose them.

      • tom bryant says

        You’re right, we have had this debate over the the years, but with the advent of the internet, we now can argue with everyone and instead of writing about positions we can respond directly to the person. And the ones who frame that argument in a Christian manner are put on equal footing with those who are just the loudest and most vocal.

        I also know that there is an ebb and flow as to who’s “on top” in terms of positions within the convention.

        I agree the SBC would be much poorer without Calvinists and without the traditionalists. I see a post on this issue and generally avoid it. But I came back to this because i was wanting to see the tone. Personally I don’t see any difference whatever.

        • Greg Harvey says

          There is this promise, Tom:

          “I assure you: Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains by itself. But if it dies, it produces a large crop.”

  26. Debbie Kaufman says

    I’m wondering if it really matters. Some are always going to want to fight, and I put this and subsequent articles by Gerald Harris, who is famous for stirring up the waters when things are peaceful in the SBC, along with Peter Lumpkins. Facts have never been their friend, but stirring up the waters is. And we let them. I refuse to answer them any further. I think it’s a topic for discussion if given as a question whether than an accusation, but it’s always going to be an accusation.

    I believe Peter, Gerald’s, others goal at SBCtoday is to push out those who disagree with them, I also agree with John in this will not happen. The only way they can do this is if we leave, and as long as that does not happen, I don’t think they will be able to accomplish this. I would love to see peace and unity in the SBC, but others just won’t let that happen. But like any family squabble, we can discuss, but refuse to let it divide. That is my choice.

    I am one who believes the Bible does support infants and those who are mentally incapacitated going to heaven by God’s grace. I believe he does regenerate them. One passage I can’t get past is the passage concerning the death of David’s son.

    I do believe the Bible supports, and it has been shown that regeneration proceeds faith. I am so thankful to God that for this as I know I would still be lost without Christ if He did not do this. So would all here. Thanks be to God that is not the case. The other is John leaping in his mother’s womb which to me shows how the Holy Spirit can work. Even in the womb. He is God after all.

  27. says

    I had forgotten that the title of this blog bore a reference to logical fallacies. The problem with logic is logic. Logic was the primary tool used by thinkers during the time of the Roman Empire and during the Middle Ages, but logic ran into serious problems, when the empirical process of experimentation and verification was developed. Logic hit the snag of experiment. This is not to say logic does not have its uses; it is simply to remind us that human beings and their methods take in more than logic. There is also the problem of logic and even present day science’s inability to cope with problems that do not submit to the process of analysis. As Dr. Jesse Moody, pastor of the FBC of West Palm Beach said back in, I think it was, ’63, “We suffer from the paralysis of analysis.” There are some things that will not submit to such a process, things that call for a better scientific method, one that can handle two-sided and apparently contradictory ideas, that can set up an experiment that deals with both sides of contradictory but true issues at the same time.

    I remember discussing the matter with a Science Educator about five years ago. When I told her there was a problem with the scientific method, she was shocked (after all, I was supposed to be a dumb preacher) and asked, “Where did you learn that?” I had learned it in ’71, when I was writing my thesis for the M.A. in Intellectual History and dealing with a two-sided and apparently contradictory doctrine covering a 100 year period in Baptist History. The doctrine of was ministerial qualifications which involves God’s preparing a person for the ministry by education and/or illumination (a direct gift). The best approach is a both/and view. Either/or lands one in the same position. I followed it out in the history of Baptists in America and found two groups essentially winding up in the same situation. For example, I found both Primitive Baptists and Missionary Baptists who wound up denying the Resurrection and even Hell.

    James Petigru Boyce and John A. Broadus recognized, in part, the problem of where one would wind up by following through, logically, to the conclusions of what they begin with in their principles. That was why they could foreseen what would happen with Dr. Toy long before it happened. What most people do not realize is that the teachings of the Bible are of a both/and nature. For example, Trinity and Unity, the Inspiration of Scripture – Divine and human, God’s immutability and yet He is self moved, our Lord’s deity and humanity, the Church’s local, visible, congregation aspect and its universal, spiritual aspect. There is more, but I trust I have given enough to indicate the situation. Interestingly enough the two sides of every teaching are not meant to be reconciled, but to be held in tension in the mind. One experiences the tension as a means to enable one to deal with the reality at hand without compromising away one’s convictions and without growing so rigid that one snaps at the slightest resistance and opposition. In short, the doctrines and their two-sidedness is what enables and empowers believers to be balanced, flexible, creative, constant, and magnetic. In short, again, God’s best subliminal advertisements of the power of the Gospel, a mature Christian. There is just something about that mature believer which will get the unbeliever, that assurance without arrogance, that trust and trial which triumphs, that humble behavior which wins day for the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ.

  28. Luther says

    Even apart from a Calvinistic framework our omniscience God would know what type of individual the infant would grow up into. That is an inescable fact that is often overlooked when this topic is brought up.

    If they are saved they are saved by being in union with Christ and by God’s amazing grace and if they are damned they are so because they are guilty in Adam. Since we cannot offer hope based upon their profession of faith let us offer hope in the grace of God and His mercy.

    • Adam G. in NC says

      I guess the same goes for folks who never had the chance to hear the gospel? God knows what their response would have been if they had been given a chance.
      Just sayin.

      • says

        Adam, a Southern Baptist commented on another blog today, “I believe He is a Just God who holds us accountable for our sins we know we commit.”

        That little word “know” is revealing. Yeah, what about those who have never been confronted with the gospel and God’s law? Well I know the answer. All have sinned and are w/o excuse. Sad to see SB apparently making room in heaven for the totally unreached since they have never heard.

      • Luther says

        Their response would always and definitely be ” no ” without the regenerating work of the Spirit giving them life. The point about infants is this, if they go to Heaven it is because grace and God knows who is His and if they are damned it would be just as all are sinners by birth.

        18 Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men.
        19 For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.

        • John Wylie says

          Luther,

          There is not one scripture that definitively states that regeneration occurs before faith. I understand the logical argument that began your post, but the problem is that your observation is paradigm driven more than driven by the scriptures. And that’s why I stated earlier that there is way more biblical evidence for infant salvation than there is for regeneration occurring prior to faith.

          My reason for pointing this out is because several of your persuasion are so quick to say in a very sanctimonious way, “we don’t know about the status of infants who die in infancy, the Bible is silent on this.” But because of your theological paradigm you insist that regeneration precedes faith, which has way less biblical support.

          • Luther says

            It is sanctimonious to say that if infants are saved it is by Grace?

            Less biblical support than nothing? I personally believe that infants who die are elect, but as others have said, it is not a dogmatic belief

            Since this post is not about soteriology I will leave it to others to decide if one spiritually dead can believe before being quickened.

          • Debbie Kaufman says

            John: I would disagree that there is no Biblical support.

            “But you were dead in you trespasses and sins in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved).” Ephesians 2:1-3

            “But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised 1 Cor. 2:14

            Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard his spots? Then also you cannot do good who is accustomed to evil. Jeremiah 13:23

            The natural person cannot accept the things of the Spirit of God for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them for they are spiritually discerned. 1 Corinthians 2:14.

            I could go on and on. Ephesians 2:8&9, Acts 16:14, John 1:12-14, Romans 9:16, or all of Romans 9, and I could continue with many more.

          • John Wylie says

            If you say less biblical support than nothing you obviously failed to read the comments above. I will repeat there is zero support for regeneration preceding faith, that is nothing more than a paradigm driven hermeneutic. There are lots of scriptures that enumerate God’s care and feelings for children and His divine intention toward them.

          • Luther says

            Then regeneration is not by faith

            John 1:13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

          • volfan007 says

            Luther,

            Do you honestly think that all of us, out here, who are not Calvinists, actually think that salvation is by the will of man? That we deny John 1:13? That we just can’t see what you and other Calviinists see in these passages?

            David

          • Luther says

            Who said salvation? The term was regeneration, and do you think those of us who are Calvinists just deny John 3:16, 2 Peter, et al?

          • Luther says

            Philippians 1:29 For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake,

          • Andrew Barker says

            Agreed, salvation through faith is a gift freely given. Don’t you just love it when the Bible speaks something so clearly and powerfully. Makes you wonder why some folks start messing around and muddying the waters.

          • Greg Harvey says

            Of the regenerated will, yes, according to the prelude to John 3:16, i.e. Jesus’s conversation with Nicodemus explicitly says that a man cannot see the kingdom of God without being born from above/born again/regenerated. Jesus’s entire point is that without that spiritual perspective the faith is counterfeit and the spiritual perspective is an external that is provided to the person.

            Nicodemus clearly understood the implication of Jesus’s comment–remember Jesus used “born from above”–when he asked if a “veteran” re-enters the womb. He understood that the same creative power of birth is repeated spiritually when we are born from above. What he misunderstood was that it wasn’t a physical rebirth.

            Now with all of that said: I’m perfectly content that there are people in the world and in Southern Baptist churches that disagree with me. I’m perfectly willing to allow that I might be wrong and that God and only God is the arbiter of what the Bible actually means and that our expressed theological interpretations are speculative until they are confirmed by God directly. I’m perfectly content with us admitting that out loud as a Convention in an effort to promote a more humble approach to both teaching and preaching the Bible.

            But I won’t change my view of what that passage says. I think it’s stunningly clear. Thanks for asking.

          • Don Johnson says

            Greg,

            You are correct only born again people get to see, enter or inherit the Kingdom of God. Only the saints will be there.

          • Debbie Kaufman says

            As far as infants go, the Bible says we are born in sin because of the sin of Adam. A baby would have to come to salvation the same way all of us do, through faith in Christ. They do not have the mental capacity to do so. When they die, they go to heaven by the Grace of God regenerating them just as he does us.

            Luke 18:16&17 reads: Jesus remarked: “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God. Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.

          • John Wylie says

            But none of those scriptures you gave Debbie explicitly says or even teaches that regeneration precedes faith. There are several scriptures that clearly place faith before life.

            John 20:31 But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.
            1Timothy 1:16 Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting.

            If conviction by the Spirit is a type of regeneration the whole world would then be regenerate;
            John 16:8-11 And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: (9) concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; (10) concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; (11) concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.

          • Luther says

            John 20:31 did Debbie say regeneration was eternal life? No. Regeneration is the quickening of the spiritually dead individual in which thee heart of stone is replaced with a heart of flesh, their eyes are opened, and given ears to ear so that they can believe.

          • John Wylie says

            Nonsense Luther, because in a comment below you rightly correlate regeneration with the new birth. Eternal life and the born again experience are simultaneous and occur as a result of faith. See my verses above.

          • Luther says

            No John, I said the Spirit gave them life

            ” Their response would always and definitely be ” no ” without the regenerating work of the Spirit giving them life. The point about infants is this, if they go to Heaven it is because grace and God knows who is His and if they are damned it would be just as all are sinners by birth. ”

            What you evidently assumed was that regeneration corresponds to eternal 1:1, which it does in a way, since a person given spiritual life will believe unto eternal life.

            Regeneration is not justification, is not sanctification, is not glorification, but they are all some of the necessary components of eternal life.

          • John Wylie says

            Regeneration and new birth are the same thing and they are when eternal life begins for those who believe. A person comes to life spiritually when they believe. Like I said this is just paradigm driven hermeneutics. I understand why you must believe that there is some sort of “pre eternal life” life, but the scriptures do not bear this idea up. The scriptures teach when a person believes it is then that they pass from death unto life.

            John 5:24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.

          • John Wylie says

            The scriptural pattern is that one believes and then they have life. There is not one scripture passage that definitively teaches one is regenerated then they believe. And that’s what I meant by the claim that there is more evidence for infants who die going to heaven than there is for regeneration preceding faith.

          • Don Johnson says

            John,

            You are correct, there is no Scripture that states or implies, that regeneration precedes faith. There are several that show faith precedes regeneration.

            You are also correct in stating, eternal life starts with the new birth (regeneration).

          • Debbie Kaufman says

            OK fellas, you keep telling yourselves that, despite the scriptures given, but that is just denying what the Bible is saying, and that is where I have the biggest problem with what you are writing here. I don’t see how you can possibly miss it other than the fact that you are so stuck in this doctrine of yours that you choose to ignore what scripture says.

            I just can’t see it any other way in light of the passages given as well as more that could be given.

          • Don Johnson says

            Debbie,

            Maybe you could explain why you think your texts teach regeneration precedes faith. Please don’t say the texts define themselves. While that may be true, they also don’t say one needs to be regenerated in order to believe.

          • Debbie Kaufman says

            Don: I honestly believe the passages are so clear that I can’t improve them with an explanation. Read them and they all say clearly what they say and mean clearly what they mean.

          • Luther says

            Or maybe you could explain how one who is spiritually dead and no even seeking God comes to faith?

            How long is one only partially alive through prevenient grace that allows one to have either a positive or negative response to the grace given?

          • Debbie Kaufman says

            With what the Bible says about God doing the supernatural work, it causes me to not have to chase people down and hassle them constantly to be saved. I give the Gospel message to them and I pray for them. I do believe that those God lays on our heart to pray for are those God is going to do the work in.

            It also means that even the worst of the worst, those normally given up on can be saved because God does the work of opening their minds to be able to absorb the Gospel that the Bible says is foolishness to the lost person.

            It means that if I, being human, miss the opportunity to give Christ to anyone, I don’t have to beat myself up or allow others to beat me up for missing the opportunity, but I can pray for that person’s salvation, knowing that God will send someone else to give the Gospel to that person. I see this doctrine of regeneration before salvation as a beautiful, peace giving teaching.

          • Luther says

            Who said anything any thing about pre-eternal life? Is that your paradigm driven concept that you must use to refute that one must be quickened to believe?

            Yes, regeneration is part of being born again and it is not by your will.

          • Luther says

            Good so agree there is no prevenient grace making one partially alive in order to make either a positive or negative response to grace and that faith must come from one who has been made alive, that is one who is not dead.

            I am glad we agree.

          • Don Johnson says

            Luther,

            No. One is spiritually dead when he first believes, just as one is spiritually dead when he rejects the Gospel. There is no such thing as partially alive.

          • Luther says

            So the grace given actually saves and how does a spiritually dead person make a positive profession towards God?

          • Don Johnson says

            Luther,

            The same way they make a negative profession. They believe positively or they believe negatively. If man has the ability to reject the Gospel, they have the ability to accept the Gospel.

          • Luther says

            Man naturally rejects that is why grace is needed. That man can naturally and by his own ability come to Christ is an error I sincerely hope you are not promoting.

          • volfan007 says

            Man can respond to the calling and convicting of the Holy Spirit. Total depravity and being dead in our sins doesnt mean that we can’t still respond to God. Total depravity does not equal total inability to hear God, and respond to God. Man can respond to God…make a choice…

            David

          • Tarheel says

            Man kind intellectually accent and respond to truth naturally…but that doesn’t equal regeneration!

            No man is regenerated of his own accord unless the Spirit draw and gracefully enable him to believe on Christ.

          • Luther says

            It means dead, inanimate, and lifeless.

            Where does James 2:26 say anything about separation? It says a faith without works is dead.

          • Don Johnson says

            Luther,

            “It means dead, inanimate, and lifeless.” That true of dead bodies, but we are talking about dead spirits. Which see, hear, feel, taste, and have spiritual concern for the lost.

          • volfan007 says

            Death means separation all thru out the Bible. Adam and Eve were told that the day they ate from the tree they would surely die. They did die that day…spiritually…separated from God…and, they began to die physically. Interesting note….even though they fell from innocense and died that day…they could still hear God, and talk to God.

            Also, to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. Our soul SEPARATES from our body upon physical death…and, the saved go to be with Jesus, while the lost go to Hades to await the judgment of Hell. But, we don’t cease to exist. We continue to live…either with Jesus, or in a place of punishment…but, we continue to think and feel…just look at the rich man and Lazarus.

            Also, Hell is called the second DEATH. And, most assuredly, people continue to exist in Hell…they still think, feel, can see and hear, etc. They are still living…they’re just separated from God(death).

            We could go on and on and on with many more examples of death meaning separation.

            David

          • Luther says

            David, as has already been said, the separation of the body and soul is the action that causes death, not the definition of dead itself.

            Spiritually dead is not a cessation if existence but is the inability of the sinner to perform anything righteous apart from God.

            Just look at Ephesians 2: we are dead in sins and trespasses and while in that state it is God who quickens us. Was it because of faith? No it was because of His great love with which He loved us.

            4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us,
            5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ-by grace you have been saved-

          • Don Johnson says

            Luther,

            Thanks. Eph. 2:5 is another text that shows faith precedes regeneration.

            “. . .hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved).” The parenthetical phrase (by grace ye are saved) describes what has happened to one who is quickened (made alive). Namely, a quickened person is a saved person. Since one must believe before they are saved, to can also deduce one has faith before being regenerated, because a regenerated person is a saved person. Which perfectly with Titus 3:5 and Ezekiel 36:25-27.

          • Luther says

            Don, the quickening was because of His love for us not because of faith.

            Quickening is an act of God performed independent of us.

            Faith is active in the receiving of what He Has done but is not the cause of it.

          • Don Johnson says

            Luther,

            Where does the Bible say “man naturally rejects”? Grace is needed because man does not deserve salvation, nor can he earn it.

            It depends on what you mean by “his own ability.” No one just sits around decides to get saved. He must be convinced of his sin and the judgment to come. Which the Holy Spirit does when the Gospel is preached.

          • Debbie Kaufman says

            It depends on what you mean by “his own ability.”

            This is exactly what I mean. His/her own ability means just that.

          • Andrew Barker says

            Luther, I find it really helps to keep things simple and stick to Bible verses. Of course faith doesn’t come from “one who has been made alive” you know where faith comes from because the Bible tells you so. Chapter and verse. The state of the person ‘hearing’ is not the issue. Everyone has people concentrating on the wrong aspect, it’s almost like a conjurers art of misdirection. It’s the word of God which has the power to make alive, not that we need to be alive to hear the word of God. Or do you perhaps think God is limited?!

          • Luther says

            Of course the state of one ” hearing ” is relevant since if one doesn’t have ears to hear then they won’t hear.

            Is this the chapter and verse you were referring to Andrew when you stated we know where faith comes from?

            Philippians 1:29 For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake,

          • Andrew Barker says

            I don’t think it says that at all Luther and it doesn’t change the basis of salvation by faith either does it.

          • Luther says

            You don’t think what says what, Andrew?

            That being quickened is a passive act in regards to the person while faith is active?

          • Luther says

            Nevermind, it seems some comments are disjointed at times.

            For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake,

            You don’t think it says faith has been granted?

          • Don Johnson says

            Luther,

            Do you do a lot of suffering for the sake of Christ? Maybe you do. I don’t think I’ve done any suffering, nor would I say the vast majority of Christians in America do any suffering for Christ. Now if faith is a gift, then suffering is as well, and yet we don’t suffer. Does that mean we’re not saved?

          • Luther says

            Why the ” if ” faith is a gift?

            The faith and suffering are not inseparable.

            So by your reasoning only the Philippians were granted faith to believe in Him? The suffering is an ” also ” added to their believing.

            You have not only been granted the privilege of believing but also the privilege to suffer for that belief.

          • Andrew Barker says

            Sorry Luther, just ‘NO’ wasn’t really helpful was it but I was pressed for time. Others are covering this well, so I don’t really need to duplicate. The idea that people can’t hear God unless they’ve been somehow ‘changed’ is a complete nonsense. If you want chapter and verse (and I guess if you don’t someone else will) you only have to look at John 5:25 where the “dead will hear …. and live”. By the way, this works both ways as well. God hears us, but he doesn’t ‘hear’ us when we don’t acknowledge our sin. Isa 59. It’s similar in Isa 52 where it talks about the blind seeing things! Verse 18 in particular. It’s sounds like nonsense in reality, but most of us know exactly what the prophet is being led to say.

            Those who insist on having unregenerate man lying dead as a corpse on the mortuary slab have only their theology to back them up. Another common example of a logical fallacy.

          • Luther says

            ” “Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. ”

            So apparently, there was a time when they could not hear.

            I can’t find Isaiah 52:18

            Just as God doesn’t ” hear us ” with unrepentant sin neither does anyone ” hear Him ” without having been given ears to hear.

            ” Those who insist on having unregenerate man lying dead as a corpse on the mortuary slab have only their theology to back them up. Another common example of a logical fallacy. ”

            I have never considered it a fallacy to have the study of God as support for my beliefs, but to each their own.

            Again, if you are going to (mis)represent the views of others at least get them right. It is not that the spiritually dead do nothing, it is that they can do nothing in their sinful and dead nature to please God.

          • Greg Harvey says

            The terms “regeneration” and “rebirth”/”new birth” point to the same thing. The phrase that causes Nicodemus to ask if a man must be born again actually means “born from above”. We overlay “born again” because of Nicodemus’s question. But Jesus then re-explains in a way that incorporates Nicodemus’s question and confirms that it is a rebirth but not a physical one.

            I believe Nicodemus knew what Jesus was getting at. Pharisees know what they’re doing.

          • Luther says

            If God is unable to give infants faith then the same is true for us all. I hope you are not equating faith exclusively with a public profession or signing a membership card.

  29. Christiane says

    burning babies in hell for all eternity doesn’t sound Christian to me, because there is no biblical evidence that Our Lord had anything but kindness and caring towards children. His compassion absolutely blows away all of the literal biblical interpretations of God as wrathful to infants, causing them harm.

    so where is it that folks even ENTERTAIN that God is a monster who would burn little babies in hell? I’ll tell you where it comes from: it comes from ‘The Slanderer’, the Diabolos, the devil, satan himself who will do anything possible to slander God or any member of the Holy Trinity. And what sort of ‘Christians’ fall in line with satan’s slander? Most often it is the ones who are filled with pride. . . who are blind to Who Our Lord was and what He taught us about God. So they share in the slander proudly, all the time thinking themselves above others and saved from the very pit they have no problem believing little children are thrown into who are not ‘elect’ like them . . . and satan smiles, and waits for the Day of the Lord, when all will be exposed and those who have slandered what is Holy will finally join the one whom they truly served while on this earth.

    It’s not too hard to figure out that those who believe and preach that God is a monster will never be allowed for all eternity in the same place with innocent little babies. :)

    Trust the Words of Our Lord when you think of little ones. He alone has the Words of eternal life:
    Matthew 18:6 “But whoever causes harm to one of these little ones, it would be better if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were drowned in the depths of the sea.”

  30. Luther says

    ” Nonsense Luther, because in a comment below you rightly correlate regeneration with the new birth. Eternal life and the born again experience are simultaneous and occur as a result of faith. ”

    Is faith an act of your will?

  31. says

    I propose an experiment. What if we Calvinists (I prefer the term Particular Baptists) decided to stop responding to things such as the Harris editorial? What if we were to take the “sticks and stones”/”water off a duck’s back” approach for awhile – let’s say a year – during which time we were just to stand back and allow what is going to be said (or written) just be said, and after that time we evaluate the results.

    My guess: the results would be absolutely nothing. I am beginning to wonder if it is the responses to such pieces that really drive these things. But if there is no response? My proposition is that they will be the equivalent – or at least have the effect – of the tree that falls in the forest with no human soul to witness it.

    And the energy, effort and time currently being dedicated to defending the legitimacy of doctrines and theologies that have been part of the Baptist movement from its very beginning can instead be redirected to (for example) exegesis and exposition of the Bible.

    We could covenant amongst ourselves (pun intended) to ignore such broadsides for a year – or at least “respond” to the broadsides with contextual examinations of the TR Greek text of John 3:16 and 2 Peter 3:9 perhaps – and see what the end result is. Sound like a good, workable idea?

  32. Andrew Barker says

    John, I’m in total agreement with you on this point regarding regeneration. Just because some big-wig repeats it a thousand times, it doesn’t suddenly morph into truth. There is no scriptural support for the belief that regeneration preceeds faith. The support, if that is how you wish to term it, is from theology alone. A good example of a logical fallacy? Perhaps!

  33. says

    Something that’s telling about some of the comments is that there’s a sinful mentality in the SBC: “the end justifies the means.” Some don’t really care that Harris used logical fallacies to “prove” his point, so long as they agree with his point. He didn’t prove his point logically; therefore, you shouldn’t praise him for his article. It begs the question if he can prove his point logically. If we’re willing to use logical fallacies to protect our theology or come against some other Southern Baptist’s so-called theology, then any Southern Baptist can claim any Southern Baptist believes anything. That’s not the path to godliness or unity.

  34. says

    Andrew, John, Luther, Don, Tarheel, Debbie, Les (oh yeah, me) et al,

    Brothers and sister, it is not helpful when any of us on either side of this issue says things about the other side like, “There is no scriptural support for your view.”

    Brothers, there are godly theologians a whole lot better versed in the original languages and skilled in hermeneutics, etc. on both sides of this issue than all of us combined. And they all, as we all, believe we have scriptural support for our views.

    Non of us is just making it up and none of us necessarily is imposing a theological grid to come to our view. We certainly may be. But the fact that someone is on the other side of the regeneration/faith debate from your view does NOT mean they are making it up and and does NOT mean they have no scriptural support and it does NOT mean they are seeing only through some theological grid.

    We can do better than these kinds of accusations.

  35. Debbie Kaufman says

    The best explanation I can give is to refer to the passage concerning Lydia in Acts in Acts 16:14 where it is written “the Lord opened her heart to give heed to what was said by Paul”

    • Don Johnson says

      Debbie,

      Surprised you used Act 16:14, because it clearly shows faith before regeneration. I agree Lydia was not born again when Paul met her, because she had never heard the Gospel of Christ. However, like all other OT saints she believed God, even though none of them were born again (regenerate).

      How do we know Lydia already believed God, because the text tells us she worshiped God. It is impossible to worship God without having faith in Him.

      So we see Lydia is a clear example of faith preceding regeneration.

      • Debbie Kaufman says

        Don: It’s not faith in God that saves, it is faith in Christ. Remember, the message Paul was preaching was new. Preaching Christ was something these people had never heard before. You and I both know that people can worship God and not be saved.

        • Don Johnson says

          Debbie,

          No. It is impossible to worship God and not be saved under the OT economy. You are correct about the people were hearing something new. By that do you mean all the OT saints were actually lost because none of them believed in Christ?

          • Debbie Kaufman says

            The people in the OT were saved the same way we are, by belief in Christ. They had faith in Christ future. They did believe in Christ. In fact Christ created the earth in Genesis and made appearances in the OT.

          • Don Johnson says

            Debbie,

            That sounds nice, I used to believe it as well. The trouble was I couldn’t find any evidence in the Bible to support the belief. If you or anyone else has any, I’d like to hear it.

          • Debbie Kaufman says

            Don: There are not two ways to salvation. There is not one way for the OT and one way for the NT. There is only one way. Faith in Christ alone.

            “… to the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world.” Revelation 13:8

          • Debbie Kaufman says

            Dan 3:4; 5:19; Rev 7:9; 10:11; 11:9; 13:7; 14:6; 17:15; Romans 4:3-8. For a start. :)

          • Don Johnson says

            Debbie,

            Your Daniel ref. have no mention of Christ. Your Revelation ref. are all referring to future events. Your Roman ref. are about believing God. There is no mention of Christ.

            Now I certainly believe that everyone who is ever saved, was saved by faith. However, the OT saints had no concept of Christ and His work. And that included Christ’s disciples. Which also means none of them were born again. And yet they were still able to have faith.

          • Debbie Kaufman says

            Don: The Bible points to Christ from beginning to end. That is what the Bible is all about. Christ. That is how it is to be read. I am sorry but I don’t just disagree with you, but you are wrong. Very wrong.

          • Debbie Kaufman says

            The OT does not interpret the NT, but it is the other way around, the NT interprets the OT. For example, circumcision in the OT was a representation of circumcision of the heart, which the HS who is God does because of what Christ did for us on the cross. In the OT however, it was because of what Christ would do on the cross. Ezekiel 3:26-27, Romans 2:25-27, Gal. 5:6. This is just one example.

          • Don Johnson says

            Debbie,

            I agree the NT interprets the OT. However, if was understood in the first place there would be no need for it to be interpreted in the NT.

            For instance, you gave Rom. 4:3 as a proof text. Which says “Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.” Is there anything here in Romans 4 or Gen. 15:6 that even remotely states, suggests or implies the death, burial and resurrection of Christ?

  36. volfan007 says

    People are spiritually dead….totally separated from God. The heart of man is sinful….depraved. Man will not seek after God, unless God calls out to him, first. And, the ONLY reason any of us ever get saved is because God called out to us…convicted us of our sin and need of salvation…and drew us to Himself.

    This does not mean that people are totally unable to respond to God, in their lost condition. This does not mean that people don’t have to make REAL choices, and are responsible for the choices they make. And, this does not mean that God doesnt desire that all men be saved, and come to a knowledge of the truth…including Cain, the Rich Young Ruler, and everyone else, who has ever been born.

    David

    • Debbie Kaufman says

      David: The message is Christ. Read my comment above. This is something that men cannot grasp. Even Oprah preaches God and love, but what does she leave out that makes her message non-Christian? Christ. Faith in Christ.

      • Debbie Kaufman says

        And Jared makes a good point in both his comment and his post. Where has Gerald Harris proven his point? It’s simply accusations with no proof. Made up and spread around as gossip to attempt to taint.

      • volfan007 says

        Debbie,

        What in the world are you talking about? I never said that the message wasnt about Christ. Good gracious, it’s like I’m writing in English, and you’re seeing Chinese.

        David

        • Debbie Kaufman says

          I must have missed it David, where is Christ’s name used in any of your above comments?

          • volfan007 says

            Wow…you’re like the people, who say that Trinity is not used in the Bible, or who say that Rapture is not used in the Bible…. sorry, Debbie….I will just say that when I was saying GOD in my above comments, that that meant JESUS CHRIST. I believe that JESUS CHRIST is God….I believe in the Diety of Jesus. I believe in the Trinity.

            Is it really necessary to explain these things every time I make a comment?

            David

  37. Luther says

    Andrew, many people hear the Word of God and will never believe. Yes, the word is the normative means by which God saves people in calling them to repentance, but as Paul said the natural man does not receive the things of God an neither can he understand them.

    • Don Johnson says

      Luther,

      1 Cor. 2:14 is differentiating people who have received the Spirit and those who haven’t.

      Do you believe people must receive the Spirit before they can believe?

  38. volfan007 says

    It seems that the Rich Young Ruler “heard” the Gospel….considered it strongly….and rejected it. And, the Lord Jesus LOVED him.

    Adam and Eve could still hear God…respond to God…in their fallen condition……

    David

    • Luther says

      Why do you equate physical hearing with spiritual hearing as the Pharisees clearly heard the words of Jesus and yet he said they did not have ears to hear

      • volfan007 says

        Jesus loved the rich, young ruler….loved him….reached out to him…but, the rich young ruler CHOSE to not follow Christ….even with Jesus reaching out to him, and LOVING him.

        Adam and Eve heard from God in the Garden…talking to them about their sin….they heard Him.

        David

        • Luther says

          David, repeating that Adam and Eve heard God does not prove your point. If God spoke audibly they could hear Him since they had went physically deaf and if it was spiritual hearing God is more than able to cause that also.

          Scripture is silent as to the end of the rich young ruler but I heard one conjecture that it referred to Mark.

          Was He disheartened because he now knew he should part with his wealth or because he was unwilling to do so?

          Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.

  39. Luther says

    Don, if man does not naturally reject the things of God then by default He naturally accepts them nullifying the need for a work of grace.

  40. says

    What do you say to the parents with whom you just had a conversation agreeing their child has reached the age of accountability; yet, has not professed faith, and was just killed in an accident?

  41. Don Johnson says

    Luther,

    How about “For as the body without the spirit is dead.” In other words the spirit has left or separated from the body making the body dead.

    • Luther says

      Don, where do the spiritually dead have concern for the list?

      You described what the body does and not what the dead spirit can do in regards to righteousness.

      Also, the spirit being removed from the body results in death. Separation is the action and not the definition of death.

        • Luther says

          Don,

          Do you take the parables as a 1:1 correlation to reality or as a teaching tool: as in, if they don’t believe the evidence already given they won’t believe a resurrection, and they didn’t.

          • volfan007 says

            Luther,

            That was no parable. That was real life. Lazarus had a name, and other things in the story of Lazarus in Luke 16 show that it was no parable.

            But, even if it was a parable, still Jesus said that the rich man was concerned about his 5 brothers….still Jesus taught in the parable that this lost man was concerned about his brothers.

            David

          • Luther says

            David, point taken about the rich man, but I don’t believe where there is weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth where people are set in their corruption there is much chance for concern.

          • Don Johnson says

            Luther,

            You’ll need to take that up with Jesus. He was the one who pointed it out, and not me.

          • Luther says

            Don, the point was already conceded but have you thought whether it is a universal statement or peculiar to this story?

          • Don Johnson says

            Luther,

            I have no idea what you are asking. “Universal statement”? “Peculiar to this story” what story are talking about?

            My guess is your comments didn’t end up in the correct place either.

  42. Luther says

    Oh yeah, David, I forgot to ask, what type of righteous action can those enduring the second death perform? Even if dead exclusively means separation as you seem to be saying ( forgive me if I am wrong ) then it is only through not being separated from God that one has life.

    Does it take spiritual life to to please God or can the spiritually dead please God?

    • volfan007 says

      Luther,

      Those experiencing the second death cannot please God…they’re in Hell….their time for responding to God will be over.

      David

      • Luther says

        Don, where does this say by faith?

        he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit,

        Again, it is because of His love that He quickens us. Not because of faith.

        • Don Johnson says

          Luther,

          My comments seem to ending up place.

          It doesn’t say by faith. The text is telling us what God does to save us. Which is why faith is not mentioned. If He did give us a gift of faith to believe it would also be mentioned. Since the text is only speaking of what God does to save us, our faith is not mentioned.

          By the way, I don’t want to assume to much. Do you believe a person must have faith in order to be saved? Or is that something they get after they are saved?

          • Luther says

            Exactly, ” what God has done to save us ” faith is how we receive what God has done and by faith we are justified before Him.

            Not wanting to assume to much, but do you believe faith is conjured up by the individual who is dead?

      • Luther says

        David, so they are completely separated and those living are only a little separated and therefore only a little dead?

        If you are going to say that death means separation be consistent.

        ” This does not mean that people are totally unable to respond to God, in their lost condition. “

  43. Don Johnson says

    Luther,

    Actually, it was because of His mercy. God can’t save anyone by His love. he saves them by His grace and mercy. However, that’s not my point. My point is a quickened person is a saved person, as vs. 5 states. Again, since we know a saved person must have faith and a quickened person is saved, we can safely deduce a person must have faith before quickened. That’s assuming you believe a person must have faith before being saved.

    • Luther says

      ” . Namely, a quickened person is a saved person. Since one must believe before they are saved, to can also deduce one has faith before being regenerated, because a regenerated person is a saved ”

      Or: a quickened person will have faith and be saved.

      Or as Paul said, it was because of His love that He quickened us

      ” That’s assuming you believe a person must have faith before being saved. ”

      And you really wonder why dialogue breaks down with comments like that.

      • Don Johnson says

        Luther,

        Normally I wouldn’t ask such a thing, but I had another well known Calvinist on this site say he believes a person is washed, forgiven and has remission of sins before he repents. Despite what Acts 3:19 and Acts 10:43 state. I wasn’t trying to be insulting, just making sure.

        • Luther says

          Then that person has departed from what would be considered orthodox Christianity whether Calvinistic or not.

          Luke 24:47 (KJV)
          And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.

          Acts 10:43 (KJV)
          To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.

          • Don Johnson says

            Luther,

            I think it would surprise you if I said who it was. His exacts words were “its hardly unusual.” It certainly took me by surprise.

          • Luther says

            Whatever one believes in regards to Calvinism, faith and repentance are part of the salvation process.

  44. John Wylie says

    To everyone I am truly sorry that I started this regeneration side track, but there was a reason that I made the point. Perhaps my belief in infants who die going to heaven is a paradigm driven hermeneutic, but so is the idea of regeneration preceding faith. The point was that all you guys who kept insisting the Bible was silent on salvation of infants hold to beliefs that are not explicit in the scriptures as well. My interpretation of the passages about children resulted from what I considered to be very logical conclusions we could draw from those texts, just as your interpretation of the regeneration texts was based not on explicit language but what you consider logical conclusions that could be drawn.

    Now I want you to consider something else, namely that based on this conversation, it has been proven that Mr. Harris’s concerns are at least not without merit. The only people during this entire conversation who would not rule out infant damnation were of the Calvinist variety. I’m not trying to attack you, as a matter of fact I have defended the benefit that Calvinists have given the convention.

  45. volfan007 says

    Dave,

    There’s no hatred. There’s no anger on my part. There is great concern and sadness in my heart. Lifeway hiring a Presbyterian, who is a strong, 5 pt. Calvinist, is certainly a slap in the face to all of us, who are not Calvinists….a Presbyterian who has expressed that he does not like our Baptist belief about baptism, of all things.

    I know that you’re joined at the hip with the Lifeway people, right now, and it would be very uncomfortable for you to speak out against anything they do…so, I understand the position you’re in. You want to stay in good with them. I get it.

    David

  46. John Wylie says

    Hey guys I am not trying to be obnoxious, I am just trying to put my comment where I intended to in the first place.

    To everyone I am truly sorry that I started this regeneration side track, but there was a reason that I made the point. Perhaps my belief in infants who die going to heaven is a paradigm driven hermeneutic, but so is the idea of regeneration preceding faith. The point was that all you guys who kept insisting the Bible was silent on salvation of infants hold to beliefs that are not explicit in the scriptures as well. My interpretation of the passages about children resulted from what I considered to be very logical conclusions we could draw from those texts, just as your interpretation of the regeneration texts was based not on explicit language but what you consider logical conclusions that could be drawn. Now I want you to consider something else, namely that based on this conversation, it has been proven that Mr. Harris’s concerns are at least not without merit. The only people during this entire conversation who would not rule out infant damnation were of the Calvinist variety. I’m not trying to attack you, as a matter of fact I have defended the benefit that Calvinists have given the convention.