The Root of the Problem: An Antinomist’s Response to Dr. Eric Hankins

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

Frank Page’s Calvinism Task Force made the point that soteriological discussions must be pursued and that the differing viewpoints must engage on the topic. NOBTS is to be commended for including a response from Dr. Finn in their journal. And whether you agree or disagree with Dr. Hankins, it is right and fair that he be given an opportunity to engage a viewpoint that he finds unbiblical. We do have to discuss these issues and even highlight our differences. Hopefully, that can be done with a reasonable degree of respect to opposing viewpoints.

I wander into this discussion with some trepidation. The only thing I have on these two men is a size advantage – I outweigh both and probably come close to their combined weights! But in a theological discussion my size is little advantage. While I am not a supporter of the Traditionalist Statement, it is the product of a theological mind more trained than my own. I have tremendous respect for Dr. Nathan Finn and consider him to be one of the bright younger minds in the SBC. So, fully aware that I enter this fray inadequately armed theologically, I choose to engage nonetheless.

My quibble today is not over the main point of Hankins’ post, but with something else that he said. I know what I believe soteriologically, but I’m not sure how to label myself. So, engaging on the definition of the term “New Calvinist” is not a primary concern for me. I was a Calvinist long before Calvinism was cool in the SBC, and there is little new about that. I admit guilt, during my younger years, in reference to many of the negative behaviors John Piper admitted were common among Calvinists. I was arrogant, argumentative and convinced that those who could not see what I saw were theological dolts. At that time, Calvinism was rare in the SBC and a threat to no one. People tolerated us as the weird uncles of the SBC; an embarrassment, but part of the family. I heard my views blasted pretty often, but only after they had been twisted and misrepresented. Unfortunately, as much as the tendency of Calvinists to display arrogance in discussion is still evident today, so is the tendency of non-Calvinists to caricature and misrepresent Calvinist views.

I am not writing, though, to lay a charge of misrepresentation at the feet of Dr. Hankins. I might word things a little differently than he did and his repeated use of the term “deterministic” is not a favorite self-description of Calvinists, but he enumerates the differences between Calvinists and Traditionalists clearly. There is a significant disagreement between the way Calvinists view events in this world and the way Traditionalists and the wider non-Calvinist community do so. We cannot pretend either that disagreement does not exist or that the disagreements are not significant. I believe that our common core of doctrine is significant enough that we can work together as Great Commission partners in spite of these differences.

In a side note, Dr. Finn had an excellent article at “Between the Times” about our need to walk in unity. It was called “Our Southern Baptist Rivalries and the Need for Revival“. We should walk in unity, honoring one another in spite of our areas of disagreement. The differences in theology and outlook between Calvinists and Traditionalists is significant, even if it ought not be divisive.

My quarrel with Dr. Hankins has to do with his treatment of the middle ground views. As he differentiates between the libertarian free will views of the Traditionalists and the “determinism” of Calvinists, he dismisses the worth of middle ground viewpoints. It appears that he wants to set the discussion between the extremes (not to describe the views as extremist – both are mainstream Christian and Baptist viewpoints – but as the ends of the Calvinist continuum) of 5-point Calvinism and Traditionalism. One must logically hold to either libertarian free will or to deterministic Calvinism, according to Hankins and there is little value in the middle ground. Look at this paragraph from the piece.

The coherence of Calvinism is the coherence of determinism. Biblical texts that don’t fit the system are marginalized or reinterpreted to fit it. A variety of shims are inserted into the system to soften or hide the jolting but necessary demands of determinism. These fixes (Amyraldianism, single predestination, “duty faith,” God’s two loves, His two wills, compatibilistic freedom, “mystery, paradox, antimony,” etc., etc., etc.) actually destroy the coherence of determinism, even though they are well-intended—they are crafted to rescue the character of God, the plain-sense meaning of many biblical texts, and a legitimate rationale for taking the gospel to every person. 

It is my belief that most Southern Baptists would fall into this disdained middle ground. Even among Calvinists, a large number, perhaps a majority, do not buy into the complete Reformed package of doctrines and ascribe to fewer than the five points associated with Calvinism. And most non-Calvinists are not Traditionalists. Last I knew, fewer than 1000 had signed the document. Certainly, many agree with it who did not sign it, but it is not accurate to describe Traditionalism as the majority position among Southern Baptists or to make the Traditionalist Statement the manifesto for all non-Calvinists. I think that if a survey could be done, most of us in the SBC would fall between the two poles that Dr. Hankins establishes, Traditionalism and Calvinism.

But Hankins dismisses all of these middle positions in his statement above. He defines Calvinism as rooted firmly in determinism, and not wholly without reason. Again, most Calvinists would choose a word other than determinism to describe their views of the sovereignty of God, but the facts are facts. Calvinists believe that this world operates based on the decrees of God rather than the free will choices of human beings. Describe the difference as you will, use the terms you wish, but there is a difference between how John Piper views the unfolding of events of this world and how Eric Hankins views them.

But I do not accept Hankins’ summary dismissal of all the middle ground positions between five-point, system Calvinism and Traditionalism. He paints the discussion in bright white and solid black – human free will against absolute determinism. The middle positions he dismisses as “shims.” These wedges are inserted into the flawed Calvinist system to “soften or hide the jolting but necessary demands of determinism.” He then lists out a few of these shims, which he then describes as fixes, as “Amyraldianism, single predestination, ‘duty faith,’ God’s two loves, His two wills, compatibilistic freedom, ‘mystery, paradox, antimony’…” Three “etcs” make it clear that he believes that there are many more of these theological shims designed to hide the flaws of Calvinism or soften the offense of the doctrine. He then states that these middle ground positions are designed to “rescue the character of God, the plain-sense meaning of many biblical texts, and a legitimate rationale for taking the gospel to every person.

In recent years, I have struggled to find my place on the Calvinism continuum. I have some significant disagreements with the TS, especially in its view of human depravity. I did not sign the document because I do not agree with several of its points and because I strongly dislike the use of the term “Traditionalist” for reasons I have enumerated more than once. I am certainly not a Piperian seven-point Calvinist either. As I grew older, my passion for Calvinism cooled a little and I found myself exploring some of these middle positions that Eric dismisses. I’ve read a little about Amyraldianism and would not object to wearing that label. I have used the term antinomy to describe my position, and will likely stick with that until a more official and accurate term comes along. Maybe I can call myself an “Amyraldian Antinomist.”

Dr. Hankins dismisses such middle-ground views, leveling the accusation that we who have adopted such views have done so for three reasons. First, we are trying to “rescue the character of God” from the harsh and distasteful realities of Calvinist determinism. The third accusation (baffling to me) is that we are trying to find a “legitimate rationale for taking the gospel to every person.” I do not think either of these is fair. His second reason is the true one, in my view, though certainly not as he meant it. He says that middle ground views were developed to deal with the “plain-sense meaning of many biblical texts.”

I plead guilty. I have developed my “Amyraldian Antinomist” viewpoint as a result of my study of Scripture. It is my belief that both Traditionalists and Reformed adherents are often guilty of the charge that Hankins lay solely at the feet of the Calvinists.

“Biblical texts that don’t fit the system are marginalized or reinterpreted to fit it.”

That is a common problem in theological debate. I stake out my position and marshal the Scriptures that seem to support my view. When you give a verse that seems to support your view, I ignore it or dismiss it and counter with my own verse to buttress my original argument. Theological systems often are guilty of this – marginalizing or reinterpreting verses that do not support the system.

Defining “Antinomy” 

The problem is the failure of many to understand the principle of antinomy. A definition would be in order. An antinomy is something that is against the laws of logic – a logical contradiction. I realize that I am appropriating a term used in philosophy and imbuing it with a specific meaning. When I say antinomy, I mean this:

An antinomy occurs when Scripture affirms two things that cannot both be true according to the laws of human logic. But, since both truths are affirmed in Scripture I hold to both truths by faith even though my logic is unable grasp it.

In Isaiah 55:8, the Lord declares, “My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are my ways your ways.” God reveals himself to us as best he can, in our languages, in our thought patterns. But there is truth about God that lies far beyond the grasp of human logic, facts that can only be understood in divine logic.

Can your dog understand some of what you say? Probably. Can your dog understand your logic, thought patterns, and such? Of course not. Our ways are higher than a dog’s and our thoughts are higher. We communicate what the dog can understand, but there are limits. Does God communicate with us and reveal himself? Absolutely. Is there a divine logic and understanding that we cannot understand? I believe there is. We are intelligent creatures, but we are just not capable of understanding everything about God. It is only conjecture, but the difference between my intelligence and a dogs is probably nowhere near as great as the difference between my intelligence and God’s!

So, many of the great doctrines of the faith dwell in the realm of the mystery, of the paradox, or, in the term I prefer, the antinomy.

1) The Trinity – The greatest example of the antinomy principle is the Trinity. Check out this Lutheran video, if you’ve not seen it already.

We affirm that God is One, but that he exists eternally in three separate but co-equal persons. Both cannot be true according to human logic. Either God is one or three. But in the divine logic, which is beyond us, God can be the eternal Trinity.

2) The Dual Nature of Christ- Was Jesus God or man? Yes! He was not half-god and half-man, but 100% each. He cannot be both according to our human logic, but he is.  We affirm both because Scripture teaches both. 

I believe that the answer to the questions surrounding God’s sovereignty and human responsibility are resolved in exactly the same way.

3) The Sovereignty of God and the Responsibility of Man. I assert that the same antinomy principle is true as touches issues related to God’s sovereignty and human moral responsibility. I believe that the Bible affirms two truths which cannot both be true by human logic, but are both true by the dictates of Scripture.

a) That God, before time began, chose those who would be saved.

b) That we, as human beings, must choose God as an act of our own will and put our faith in Christ.

Non-Calvinists usually try to soften the choice of God, saying that he chose those who would choose Christ (a misunderstanding of foreknowledge) or that God chose Christ and those who choose to be “in Christ” by faith are part of the elect. There is a wide range of views meant to soften the sovereign and eternal choice of God. Calvinists soften the choice of man, saying that faith is a gift of God, that we choose, but only because God chose us and that grace is irresistible.

If God is both one and three, if Jesus is both man and God, why can we not say that God made an eternal choice and that humans must make a real choice about Jesus. I think this meets with the revelation test, accounting for the verses that each side uses in the exchanges described above. Obviously, I cannot defend it logically any more than I can defend the Trinity or the Dual Nature of  Christ on the basis of human logic.

I am fully aware that this view will not satisfy many on the Traditionalist side, and that the Calvinist attack brigades will likely call me all sorts of derogatory names. When you stand in the middle between warring parties, you can often draw fire from both sides. But I am convinced this is the truth of God. I am willing to admit that my mind cannot grasp the splendor of God’s glory and that many Scriptural truths are only resolved in the divine logic.

Remember the old story of the six blind men, each grasping a different part of the elephant and insisting it was the whole elephant? Some grasp verses that buttress the Sovereignty of God in salvation while others lay hold of the “whosoever” verses that call sinners to repent. Each side then tends to assert that their verses control the discussion and discount those verses which seem to help the other side. We are insisting on solving the most fundamental issue of God’s character – how a sovereign God relates to finite human beings – by the dictates of human logic. By those dictates, we will always fail.

In salvation, there is a divine side and a human side. On the divine side, God’s choice is the reality behind human salvation – an eternal, sovereign choice. On the human side, we have a real choice to trust Christ, or not, one each of us is eternally responsible for.

How can both be true? How can I affirm both sovereignty and responsibility? I don’t understand it.

But here’s the thing, if God did try to explain the interaction of human responsibility and divine sovereignty to me, this is what I would likely hear.

His thoughts are higher than mine. I can accept what God has revealed, but I cannot understand the glorious complexities of God’s sovereignty.

Comments

  1. Bob Browning says

    Dave,

    I just wanted to say that I don’t think honest and biblical Calvinists will be calling you derogatory names, because you have represented this 5-pointer’s view to a “T” – even if you do leave out one of the other five letters! :D

    Very good article and very good observations for both sides to be reminded of. Your writing has definitely helped this YRRer cool down and become less aggressively restless.

    In Christ,

    -Bob B.

    • Dave Miller says

      I’m glad there was no blogging option when I was 20. I’d be the one people were talking about when they mentioned obnoxious Calvinists.

  2. says

    Dave,

    I think this is a brilliant post. Very well done. I’m a full blown Calvinist as you already know. Yet I haven’t yet found anything in here that I would state differently. i.e. a 5 point Calvinist apparently can be in the middle ground as you describe it.

    On your use of antinomy, you’ve probably seen this before, but in JI Packer’s Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God, he uses it as well. For the benefit of others:

    “What is an antinomy? The Shorter Oxford Dictionary defines it as “a contradiction between conclusions which seem equally logical, reasonable or necessary.” For our purposes, however, this definition is not quite accurate; the opening words should read “an appearance of contradiction.” For the whole point of an antinomy—in theology, at any rate—is that it is not a real contradiction, though it looks like one. It is an apparent incom-patibility between two apparent truths. An antinomy exists when a pair of principles stand side by side, seemingly irreconcilable, yet both undeniable. There are cogent reasons for believing each of them; each rests on clear and solid evidence; but it is a mystery to you how they can be squared with each other.”

    I think you and Packer have said it well.

      • dr. james willingham says

        Dear David: JI is a little older than you. Besides his book was published, when you were rather on the young side. I gave him good advice on how to write – whoa wait a minute. He is older than me, too, and I am 73. Dr. Packer and D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones were close back in the fifties, and they had a disagreement over starting what would, basically, have been a new denomination of Baptists. So JI stayed with the Anglican Church. Whether he is still with it, I cannot say. However, I understand that he did walk out over the issue of homosexual marriages/bishops/priests????. Whether he totally left that ecclesiological viewpoint, I don’t know. I do know I loved his writings, and I appreciate your borrowing his antinomy (which he borrowed from me…no, no, I mean from someone else). There is a phenomena that is involved in this whole process and seven point Calvinists can, have, and do hold the antinomy idea. Amyeraldism and Molinism seem to lack this point in their eagerness to escape the problems connected with the five points in particular. Anyway, I do appreciate your response, and your stock and investment in yours truly has virtually doubled in one fell swoop. What that means can be learned from D.L.

        • Dave Miller says

          It was meant as a joke. Yes, I’m aware the Packer preceded me in both age and theological ability.

          • dr. james willingham says

            I knew you were joking,. I hope that you appreciate the fact that I was joking, too. We all need a break, a laughing break, to laugh again as Chuck Swindoll has written.

  3. says

    God said to Habakkuk: ““Look at the nations and watch— and be utterly amazed. For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told. I am raising up the Babylonians, that ruthless and impetuous people, who sweep across the whole earth to seize dwellings not their own. They are a feared and dreaded people; they are a law to themselves and promote their own honor.”

    So somebody tell me why He didn’t also raise up Al Qaeda.

    • Dave Miller says

      The Scripture asserts God’s authority over the affairs of man pretty regularly.

  4. Christiane says

    DAVID,
    I really enjoyed reading this post. It is thoughtfully written, thought-provoking, and any post that involves my beloved Charlie Brown is a good read.

    Is a (mythical) legend about the mystery of the Holy Trinity in my own tradition, this:

    St. Augustine was walking on the seashore and while he was walking, he tried to comprehend the great mystery of the Holy Trinity:
    how there could possibly be three Persons in one God ?

    Augustine saw a little child who kept scooping a bucket of water and pouring it into a little hole on the beach. St. Augustine watched the child run back and forth, trying to fill the hole with water. Finally he said,
    “Son, what are you doing?”
    The boy just looked at Augustine and said,
    “I’m trying to put the ocean in this hole.”
    “You can’t. That’s impossible,” Augustine said.
    “Neither can you understand the Trinity,” the child responded,
    with that, the boy disappeared.

    My own thought is that the only real Christian response to the great eternal mysteries of God is to have a child-like trust in Our Lord
    . . . and then to receive with thanksgiving ‘the peace that surpasses all understanding’ that comes to us from Christ Himself.

  5. says

    Dave,
    If you get a chance you should give Dr. Jones’ new book, PROOF, a read. I think you’d appreciate it.

    Also, I really appreciate this article. One of the things that I’ve found frustrating is that Calvinists are often criticized for forcing theology on a text. (And at times I believe that is a valid criticism). What is frustrating, though, is whenever we try to simply let the text speak–and leave the rest up to mystery–we are criticized for this holding a middle ground position like that which you speak of.

  6. says

    Excellent, Dave. As one who has tried to trumpet the existence of the valid middle ground, I grew tired of being ignored. You’re much harder to ignore, and I thank God for your effort. For some reason—and maybe you can shed some light on this?—the middle ground seems to be viewed as a threat to the Traditionalists, since SBC Today banned me for posting very irenic but substantive comments about the middle ground (and about Dr. Hankins continual overlooking of the fact of its existence). Anyway, thanks for this post.

  7. says

    As a 5 point C, I do not think every C doctrine is correct. i think regeneration is not before faith nor do I think it follows faith. But that faith and its work of profession are part of the new birth.
    I do not think we are condemned by Adam’s sin, though many C’s do think that.
    I see man submitting to God by his own will freely and with cause, namely the revealing of the Son to the heart.

    Most Calvinists I know of, and all I know personally, believe the Gospel should be preached to every person.

    I don’t like the using of philosophical terms that seek to describe God;s foreknowledge and the freedom of man’s will [determinism, compatibility, and libertarian free will] because these terms were not invented with an Almighty God in mind. The Bible is clear that man can freely do what God has both planned and foreordained.

    Let us all unite around the Gospel and not dis-unite when we discuss our differences.

    mike

    • dr. james willingham says

      Parsonsmike read John Gill. Also John Gano and a host of others. But there are problems with every approach to the issue of regeneration and conversion. However, anagennao and anakueo, conception and the delivery of a child at birth, seem to encompass regeneration and conversion very well, but I would not argue over it.

  8. says

    Great article. I too have misgivings about the Trad Statement and the term. I firmly believe in the sovreignty of God over all things, including my choices. But I’m not comfortable in either camp.

    Great thoughts

  9. Don Johnson says

    Dave,

    As a non-Calvinist I affirm both your a and b statements under your third point. Or at least the way they are worded.

    a) That God, before time began, chose those who would be saved.
    b) That we, as human beings, must choose God as an act of our own will and put our faith in Christ.

    All of God’s decisions were made before time began. So I certainly agree God chose those who would be saved, since actual election takes place at salvation (Eph. 1:4). But I suspect you meant to say something more to the effect “God chose certain ones to be saved.” Is my assumption correct?

  10. Don Johnson says

    Dave,

    As a non-Calvinist I affirm both your a and b statements under your third point. Or at least the way they are worded.

    a) That God, before time began, chose those who would be saved.
    b) That we, as human beings, must choose God as an act of our own will and put our faith in Christ.

    All of God’s decisions were made before time began. So I certainly agree God chose those who would be saved, since actual election takes place at salvation (Eph. 1:4). But I suspect you meant to say something more to the effect “God chose certain ones to be saved.” Is my assumption correct?

  11. Rick Patrick says

    “And most non-Calvinists are not Traditionalists. Last I knew, fewer than 1000 had signed the document.”

    First, most Non-Calvinist Southern Baptists would absolutely be able to affirm every single one of the ten petals in the POINSETTIA. They may not sign because they (1) do not know of the existence of the Trad Statement, or (2) simply don’t care to sign a statement on their salvation doctrine.

    Second, Traditionalism as defined by the Trad Statement is precisely what E.Y. Mullins believed in 1925, Herschel Hobbs believed in 1963 and Adrian Rogers believed in 2000. It is the very definition of Billy Graham’s salvation doctrine. Make no mistake…this is what Southern Baptists believe…no matter how many people have already signed the Trad Statement or how many people ever bother to do so in the future.

    Third, consider the Rick Patrick Statement on the Sun—I just made it up: “The sun is white, but appears yellow due to atmospheric refraction. Signed, Rick Patrick.” Only ONE person has EVER signed my Sun Statement. Can we conclude that I am the only Southern Baptist who believes it? Hardly.

    • Tarheel says

      Rick,

      Poinsettias don’t have petals. ;-)

      That’s interesting spin, too. Obama should replace Jay Carney with you…lol.

    • Dave Miller says

      The burden is on Traditionalists to demonstrate in fact that you represent a majority of non-Calvinists. You can assert that but there is little evidence beyond your assertions.

      But let’s focus on the point of the post.

      • Rick Patrick says

        As self-appointed burden master, I hereby place the burden back upon you to demonstrate that Traditionalists do NOT represent the majority position among Southern Baptists. On my side is the principal confessor of the last three BFMs (Mullins-Hobbs-Rogers) along with men like Paige Patterson, jimmy Draper, Morris Chapman, Richard Land, Steve Gaines, et al. Do you really believe most SBs could not affirm the ten “leaves” of the POINSETTIA? You are free to assert that. I disagree. Only a Barna Poll could settle the matter, I suppose.

        If you want me to engage the MAIN point of the post only, then let me simply say that I believe Eric does not ignore the so-called “middle views” at all. Like me, he probably tires of Calvinism having so many definitions that when you probe one, people slide over, claim you misrepresented them, and insist you don’t understand Calvinism.

        I think it’s fair to say that most Trads believe single predestinarian views reduce into double–either actively or passively–for if He irresistibly saves only the elect, then He also irresistibly condemns the reprobate. Similarly, Compatibilist free will reduces to a denial of genuine free will, because that man cannot make an otherwise choice. These may be the kind of logical deductions by which you claim Eric eliminates the middle views. From a Trad viewpoint, he’s just cutting through the verbal obfuscations.

        • says

          Rick,
          please then answer the question:
          Is man’s will free in a libertarian sense if God foreordains the actual choice?

          Thanks,
          mike

        • says

          My opinion is that those who proclaim themselves as Trads, would like there to not be a middle view, because, like a third party in an election, it would weaken or diffuse their targeted base. So you are either lock stock and barrel with those guys, who believe God only chooses some, or you are with us.

    • dr. james willingham says

      Dear Rick: What about Roger Williams, Dr. John Clarke, William Screven, Oliver Hart, John Gano, John Gill (whose works were recommended to the pastors of the Charleston Assn. by that Assn.), Richard Furman, the Mercers, Shubal Stearns, Daniel Marshall, Basil Manley, Sr., and Jr., William Bullein Johnson, James Petigru Boyce, P. H. Mell, B.H. Carroll, Curtis Vaughan and a multitude of others? I might even mention Dr. George W. Truett who in his address at the Spurgeon Centennial in London where he was introduced by the Prime Minister of the British Empire in 1934 said, “Calvinism presses down on the brow of man the crown of responsibility.” And in my study of American Intellectual History, it was interesting to note where one historian pointed out that our Puritans (the Calvinists of that day along with most of the Baptists in America) were some of the most responsible people in history. There is more, but let me close with just this one. Why did the Particular Baptists, the believers in limited atonement, began the Great Century of Missions, while the General Baptists who believed Christ died for everyone and who were not very evangelistic and missionary minded had to follow the example of the Particular Baptists/Regular/Separate Baptists on this matter?

      • Rick Patrick says

        What about them? I never said that there were not a number of Calvinists–both dead and living–in the SBC. I simply believe that among all the Southern Baptists who have ever existed, the majority were not Calvinists. My primary word for “not Calvinist” is Traditionalist–the definition of which is actually fairly broad.

          • Rick Patrick says

            I think most SBs *could* affirm the TS, whether they ever do so or not.

            I will admit there are *some* who may embrace unconditional election but not limited atonement. Amyraldism exists. But I do think the majority of SBs cluster quite close to either Calvinism or Traditionalism. Yes, it is conjecture. A really good survey would help.

            A few years ago, there was noise about all SBs being Calvinists of one sort or another. I am pleased to know that even among those who cannot affirm Traditionalism, there are some who reject the name Calvinism as well.

          • says

            Rick,
            So here is the problem:
            You affirm an idea as a truth but then you recant and say you don’t know. or well, i just think it, when you get called on it.
            And between you accuse those who listened to you the first time as being wrong.
            Sounds more like a politician than a Word of God man.

        • dr. james willingham says

          Well, Rick, if you will bother to really go and do research for years, you might change your mind. I know it would be difficult for you to do. We all hate to be wrong, but we have all been wrong at some point in our lives. Believe me, when one consults the primary sources, instead of so many secondary sources as one writer on the subject recently has done, or takes out of context one or two quotes in primary sources to flesh out his views, one finds that the vast majority of early Southern Baptists were Calvinists. Just think of the recent idea about Basil Manley, Sr. I am sure you know what I am talking about and the source that so construed it. Now consider this: Manley was pastor of the First Baptist Church of Charleston for about 10 years, following Richard Furman, and both were Separate Baptists. They were also solid Calvinists, and the Charleston Association recommended Gills works to its pastors. This Manley fellow is the fellow who not only suggested the founding of Southern Seminary, but he is also the one who led the Southern Baptist Convention to found that institution in three educational conventions dating fron 1857-1859. Now here is a bit of information: Manley was the Associational Clerk of the Sandy Creek Baptist Association in 1816, when Luther Rice led the Association to enlist in the Modern Missionary Movement. Manley also was the last named member of the Committee appointed to draw up the Confession of Faith. The chairman of the Committee was Rev. Rice. He said election and predestination were in the Bible and one had better preach these truths. No one objected to his leadership or his views.

          There were, no doubt, folks present in the Sandy Creek Association, people who had come in from the outside along with some who had arisen within the Association who were determined to end that theology. I think a good investigation into the roots of the work, Tragedy and Hope by Carroll Quigley might well indicate that the folks who think they run things were more threatened by the success of the Sovereign Grace Awakenings and the Sovereign Grace launching of the Great Century of Missions than by any other event in history in the past four hundred years. Rick, did you know that the first major American Historian, Dr. George Bancroft, called America a Calvinistic Republic? And that was in the first half of the 19th century. His work on American History was the standard text in schools in that period. And Rick what do you suppose Elijah Craig, who led the committee that met with the colonial legislators of Virginia and made an agreement that in exchange for the freedom to practice their faith, the Baptist ministers would encourage the young men in their communities to enlist in the Patriots Cause, what do you suppose Elijah Craig believed? O and by the way, he was along with other Craigs like Lewis, so successful that one whole regiment of the colonial militia had the same last name, CRAIG, a Scotch clan. Every last name of every member of the regiment was Craig. I know. I copied their names from a volume of the DAR. And a friend of mine, now gone to glory, was a descendant of Elijah. My grandmother, who named my son, was a Craig. Guess what those folks believed, and, if we should take care to examine every family, church, and association, as well as other writings, I dare say (after all, I have seen many of them during my pursuit of other historical matters, e.g., Landmarkism) they would indicate that the majority were Calvinists. And remember what Truett said, “Calvinism presses down on the brow of man the crown of responsibility.” How can that be, if they are so fatalistic?

          • Rick Patrick says

            I never said the majority of early SBs were *not* Calvinist. I think there was a fair mixture of both positions back then.

            What I said was that “among all SBs who have ever existed, the majority were not Calvinists.” In 1845, there were few of us. In 1945, there were many more. In 1975, still more. If you look at the total number of SBs in history, most were not Cals.

            It’s okay to have misunderstood me, and to have been wrong about what I claimed. A wise man once said, “We all hate to be wrong, but we have all been wrong at some point in our lives.”

          • Tarheel says

            Rick, surely you see how that statement is, well…skewed.

            That’s like saying if a church had a membership of 30 people for 100 years and then 600 for the last 30 years that the over totality of time most people attended the church in the last thirty years.

          • says

            Rick,
            you said,
            “First, most Non-Calvinist Southern Baptists would absolutely be able to affirm every single one of the ten petals in the POINSETTIA. ”

            and in that same post…

            Second, Traditionalism as defined by the Trad Statement is precisely what E.Y. Mullins believed in 1925, Herschel Hobbs believed in 1963 and Adrian Rogers believed in 2000. It is the very definition of Billy Graham’s salvation doctrine. Make no mistake…this is what Southern Baptists believe…no matter how many people have already signed the Trad Statement or how many people ever bother to do so in the future. – See more at: http://sbcvoices.com/the-root-of-the-problem-an-antinomists-response-to-dr-eric-hankins/#comment-239459

            “First, most Non-Calvinist Southern Baptists would absolutely be able to affirm every single one of the ten petals in the POINSETTIA. ”

            “Traditonalism… make no mistake…this is what Southern Baptists believe”

            So if i misunderstood you, i apologize, but it sure seemed to me that you were claiming all Non-C SB people as on board with you.

          • Tarheel says

            In other words it’s not fair to simply look at numbers in making your case…..even IF you offered proof for your assertion that most SBCers over time agree with you, which again you haven’t.

            You keep asserting it, without proving it.

          • Rick Patrick says

            Skewed or not, that was my statement. Similarly, there have been more Christian martyrs in the last 100 years than in all the years in the history of the church before this period. People do talk about historical influence using such an approach. I have never thought of it as “skewed” before–as if it was somehow wrong.

          • Rick Patrick says

            “So if i misunderstood you, i apologize, but it sure seemed to me that you were claiming all Non-C SB people as on board with you.”

            Wrong. I was not claiming *all* Non-Cal SBs. I was only claiming *most.*

            As you are quick to point out, and I am just as quick to yield, it is a hypothesis, based upon a population sample of only about 900 Southern Baptists. I could be wrong. This is why I suggested further research. Blessings!

          • Tarheel says

            It’s also skewed because it based on an assertion you’ve yet to only assert and not prove. Assertions are not proof, are they?

            If One asserts something strongly and repeatively – does that make it true?

          • Rick Patrick says

            Tarheel,

            It really makes no sense to keep drilling me on the “assertion without proof” issue. This is the very nature of an opinion. They all look like that—even yours. Especially odd to me is the fact that people keep repeating the charge—even after I admit it.

            Maybe this is what you don’t understand—I have no problem sharing my opinion without a proven study to back it up. In other words, I agree with you. It’s an opinion with no proof. I do not claim otherwise. In fact, I even suggested a study to explore the hypothesis.

            Here’s a few more. Jerry Jones must be letting Stephen or Jason call the shots now on draft days. Meg Ryan is the best romantic comedy sweetheart actress ever. Obama had too little leadership experience when he took office. The philosophy of “convictional kindness” comes across as “weak advocacy” among both Southern Baptists and various other political observers. We should not have two consecutive SBC Annual Meetings in northern cities, taxing the travel expense burden on the majority of our SBC messengers. Most people like chocolate better than strawberry, and blue better than brown.

            See, I assert many things I cannot prove. I shall continue to do so.

    • says

      What Dave said is also what Southern Baptists believe.
      or, Southern Baptists believe different things.
      Some are Dispensationalists, some aren’t.
      Some are Charasmatic, some aren’t.
      Some are KJV only, some aren’t.
      Some are threatened by others, some aren’t.

      • says

        Rick,
        This is paradoxical or an antimony, so how do you see it:
        Men can freely do what God foreordains.

        Do you believe that?

        • Rick Patrick says

          Not really, because I’m uncomfortable with the word “foreordains.” It is too, shall we say, deterministic. My view is Simple Foreknowledge. God, in His Sovereignty, has chosen to make man totally free. He knows what each man will choose, but knowing and causing are distinguishable.

          Man can freely do (1) that which God has given him the freedom to do, and (2) that which God knows in advance that he will do. God has given man what you guys have to call “libertarian” free will. He is not pulling the strings, but watching the ones made in His image make decisions of their own free will.

          Thus, He knew I would make a hospital visit the same day the Boston Marathon Bomber killed those people. God permitted both, but did not cause them.

          • says

            Rick,
            Then how do you deal with Acts 2:22-23?

            “Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst, just as you yourselves know— 23 this Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death.

          • says

            Rick, John Frame writes about libertarian free will:

            “Freedom from all causation, sometimes called libertarianism. I have freedom in the libertarian sense when, no matter what I choose to do, I might equally have chosen the opposite. So my choices are not only free from natural causes, but also from divine causation. Indeed, my libertarian choices are also free from myself in a way, for they are not determined by my character, dispositions, or desires. These inner motives may influence a free decision in this sense, but they never determine it. So a libertarian free decision is entirely indeterminate, uncaused. Thus libertarianism is sometimes called incompatibilism, since it is incompatible with determinism.

            Libertarianism has been taught by a number of philosophers from ancient Greece (Epicurus) to the present (Alvin Plantinga). It was the position of some church Fathers including Justin Martyr and Tertullian, Pelagius, the opponent of Augustine, the Jesuit Luis Molina, Fausto and Lelio Socinus, Jacob Arminius, and present-day Arminians, open theists and process theologians.”

            Is this an accurate description of your view? If not, where would you disagree with Frame?

          • John Wylie says

            Parson,

            In my opinion that passage actually supports Rick’s comment. It connects God’s predetermined plan with His foreknowledge.

          • says

            John,
            So you are saying that God in foreseeing that men would murder His son decided that he would incorporate the cross into His plan? So, in essence, all God’s plans are based on what men do?

            is that what you are saying?

          • Rick Patrick says

            God the Father gave God the Son free will to choose to obey His Plan for Himself or to reject His own plan. The Son predetermined to obey His Father, which of course He did, just as His Father knew He would, before time began.

          • says

            So if this is true, that God foreordains and predestinates history by what he sees will happen in history, then…

            [a] why does he bother foreordaining or predestinating anything? What is the point? and

            [b] if he knows who will believe on the cross, why send Jesus to die for the sins of people who will never believe?

            anyone?

          • says

            Rick,

            “God the Father gave God the Son free will to choose to obey His Plan for Himself or to reject His own plan.”

            So could the Son have done otherwise?

          • Rick Patrick says

            Les,
            I’m going to bow out here, not out of lack of interest, but simply because I have other things requiring my attention. In general, I would say that the earlier part of the Frame paragraph is closer to my view than the latter part. Blessings!

          • says

            Rick,
            you replied.
            God the Father gave God the Son free will to choose to obey His Plan for Himself or to reject His own plan. The Son predetermined to obey His Father, which of course He did, just as His Father knew He would, before time began. – See more at: http://sbcvoices.com/the-root-of-the-problem-an-antinomists-response-to-dr-eric-hankins/#comment-239372

            What has that got to do with regular men who do not predetermine to do things they know nothing about?
            Those who put Jesus to death, did they predetermine to obey God or disobey God?

          • John Wylie says

            What I’m saying is that God allows man to do whatever he is going to do and incorporates it into His plan. God didn’t cause Ahasuerus to deposed Vashti, but He used the fact that he would in order to put Esther where He wanted her. What is more Sovereign Mike, a God who must control everything like a puppet master or a God who is in no way threatened by what man chooses to do. I personally hold that nonCals hold to God being more Sovereign not less.

          • Tarheel says

            Rick,

            I understand that you’re saying gods foreknowledge does not equal causation….I understand your argument but I’m of sure it’s as much in opposition to Calvinist views as you think it is.

            Under your definition of foreknowledge don’t we end up in the same place?

            I think we agree that What God knows is unchangeable, infallible and perfect. He can’t foreknow that which won’t happen or not foreknow what will happen.

            So if God foreknows person X will turn to him and person Y won’t then isn’t both thier salvation already determined? Will Y choose him ? Will X Refuse him?

          • says

            But Rick, you threw out a huge one about Jesus having libertarian free will to obey going to the cross. Before you go, could at least answer my question,

            Could Jesus have done otherwise than the Father’s foreknown plan?

          • says

            John if I might ask, you said: “God didn’t cause Ahasuerus to deposed Vashti, but He used the fact that he would in order to put Esther where He wanted her.”

            Calvinists agree God didn’t cause that. My question is this. So is God working all these things in real time? i.e. He is waiting to see what they decide to do and then adjusting His plan accordingly?

          • John Wylie says

            Of Course not Les, He’s also not pulling strings like a puppet master either.

          • Rick Patrick says

            Les,

            One more because you got it in before I said, “Goodbye.”

            Jesus was the Sinless Son of God. Unless it is possible that He could have, hypothetically, committed a sin, He would have been something of a Robotic Redeemer. He was tempted in all ways like we are. So yes, He could have sinned and missed the mark. He had that freedom to sin–which of course He overcame. Thus, He had the freedom to walk and live outside the Father’s will for Him, but He never did.

          • says

            John, I didn’t mean that question to sound as silly as it looked ager I wrote it and hit submit.

            So, could he have done otherwise? And if he had, what would that mean for God’s foreknowledge?

          • John Wylie says

            Les,

            First of all, I didn’t think your question was silly. Even though I only know you through these blog posts I have a deep respect for you.

            As to your second question I will simply say that God is never mistaken.

          • says

            Rick,

            Thanks. So I think you’re saying that Jesus could have chosen otherwise than to go to the cross. Wow! What does that mean for all those OT messianic prophecies?

            Have a good evening since you’ve signed off.

          • says

            Thanks John. You and I have had good exchanges. But your reply is really an “I don’t know but I know God is never wrong.”

            i.e. it seems to me that you are not of the libertarian free will (man can always choose otherwise) sort. It’s very difficult, I think impossible, to reconcile God’s perfect knowledge of all things of all time (and He cannot be wrong or mistaken) and Ahasuerus (or Jesus in Rick’s comments) having true libertarian other choice. That leaves the Calvinist position as the best option in my view…the compatible determinism position.

            Blessings.

          • says

            John,

            you said,
            What I’m saying is that God allows man to do whatever he is going to do and incorporates it into His plan. God didn’t cause Ahasuerus to deposed Vashti, but He used the fact that he would in order to put Esther where He wanted her. What is more Sovereign Mike, a God who must control everything like a puppet master or a God who is in no way threatened by what man chooses to do. I personally hold that nonCals hold to God being more Sovereign not less. – See more at: http://sbcvoices.com/the-root-of-the-problem-an-antinomists-response-to-dr-eric-hankins/#comment-239378

            I didn’t say nor imply that God determines everything. The point of the post is that there is a middle ground. Libertarian free will is just as much as an extreme as hard determinism [which by the way, most Calvinists don't go there]. Most are compatibilists, which means that man has freedom of will with in the bounds set forth by God. That His will trumps man’s will. Think of a child rebelling against her parent. Whose will should win? But God is greater than a parent for He does not need to force anyone. It is an antimony, or paradox. Its Biblical. Its not libertarian free will.

            So you can’t just rest there: “What I’m saying is that God allows man to do whatever he is going to do and incorporates it into His plan.” To say that directly implies that God’s plans are based on what he foresees man will do. Thus God is dependent on man’s will to a great extent. It simply isn’t Biblical.

          • John Wylie says

            And also, I will demonstrate the walking contradiction that I am concerning theology, I hold to the impeccability of Christ. I do not believe that it was possible for Him to sin.

          • John Wylie says

            Actually I’m not saying at all that God’s plans are based on what He foresees man will do. I’m saying that God’s plan is not threatened by what man does. It would be like playing a chess match against a player who knows every move you will make.

          • says

            John, “I hold to the impeccability of Christ. I do not believe that it was possible for Him to sin.”

            We agree on something. :)

      • says

        I suspect if you ask the average SB or really the average evangelical if God is sovereign over all his creation and man is also responsible for his actions the majority would say yes.

        • says

          And i suspect that if you ask the average SB if man can freely do what God has foreordained, and show them this passage from Acts 2: 22 “Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst, just as you yourselves know— 23 this Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death.

          That they would agree that man can freely do what God foreordains.

          • David (NAS) Rogers says

            I believe that this passage can be “compatibly” explained with the concept of libertarian free will. There is a scene in the Clint Eastwood movie Gran Torino that is an illustrative analogy of a foreordained plan being enacted with the free-will choices of the wicked.

          • says

            David,
            “Compatibly” explained with the concept of libertarian free will?

            How is that different than compatibilism?

            Could have these men done differently with Jesus or not?
            Or let us look at Acts 4:

            27 For truly in this city there were gathered together against Your holy servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, 28 to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose predestined to occur.

            Could these men thwart the purpose and predestination of God, was that in their power?

          • says

            Mike,

            Exactly. You asked, “Could these men thwart the purpose and predestination of God, was that in their power?”

            There are actually people who have said they could have thwarted God’s purpose that was predestined to occur.

          • David (NAS) Rogers says

            I was being ironic in my use of “compatibly.”

            The outcome (the crucifixion) was foreordained. Those gathered to put him to death were not individually determined by God to do their evil acts because God does not tempt anyone to do evil as James clearly teaches. However, God would have known their natures (not determined them, because that would make God culpable for the evil) and their evil antagonism toward holiness and Jesus in particular. All that was needed to foreordain the outcome was for God to place Jesus in the presence of enough evil persons with power, and even those in particular, and they would with libertarian free will act to put Jesus to death. The point is that compatibilism is not needed as an explanation.

            In my opinion compatibilistic free will is a semantic shell game. It is a contradictory “shim” that accomplishes nothing in attempting to allay the logical conclusion that an all-determining God is also culpable for sin. And God most definitely is not.

        • says

          DL,

          Yes. Where people get muddled up (is that a proper phrase?) is in the details that theologians have argued over for scores of years.

    • says

      Rick, you state that “…most Non-Calvinist Southern Baptists would absolutely be able to affirm every single one of the ten petals in the POINSETTIA.” I don’t doubt that you sincerely think so, but I would be surprised if this were true. I have always thought (and still think) that a sort of “two-point Calvinism” has been the norm among non-Calvinist Southern Baptists (and all other non-Calvinist Baptists in the South, such as ABA, BMAA, BBFI, IFB, etc.). An old preacher here called the “TULIP” a sandwich with two good pieces of bread filled by three bad pieces of meat. To me it seems that the Trad Statement, Adam Harwood’s Born Guilty and other such recent writings move away from the older version of depravity and guilt as taught when I was growing up. (And growing up I never knew a church or preacher who was a Calvinist.)

  12. dr. james willingham says

    A paradoxist replies to an antinomist. Antinomy is a fascinating idea, but paradoxical, even in spite of John Calvin and Dr. Gordon Clark’s use of Aristotelian logic which demands logical consistency and which fails when it runs into the experimental and the scientific theory age of consideration, seems to serve better than a philosophical term. Paradoxicals or the use of apparent opposites, exemplified in Jonah’s sermon to the city of Nineveh, actually can serve to enable the helpless to respond, like a shock therapy. Also logotherapy, among others, shows how a prescription of a seemingly opposite can serve to bring one out of a mental framework which does not allow for a change for some odd reason. The interesting thing about Calvinism is that it had another logician who introduced a different approach to logic. Here I refer to Peter Ramus and his ramist logic. For about a hundred years his logic led the way in Europe and among the Calvinists in particular. While I did teach one course in college on Philosophy, have a minor in Philosophy, and a M.A. in American Social & Intellectual History, and I have studied Ramist logic, I do not consider myself qualified enough to speak with any real authority on that issue. However, in the area of counseling (and the study of the paradoxical) I do have a Master’s degree in that field, too. That along with six years of research in church history with a focus on the nature and the effect of biblical truths on human conduct have led me to believe that our intellectual future and the regaining of the leadership of western civilization (really world civilization and that which is coming, interstellar) lies in what seems reprehensible and even repulsive, namely, the seven point position, which does not equate with Dr. Piper’s understanding of Roms.9:22 necessarily and certainly not at all with Dr. Hankins very limited perspective on determinism. The difference between determinism and the coach with the best (should I say perfect?) plan for success is obvious to anyone who reflects. My ordaining pastor was a Supralapsarian Hyper Calvinist. His compassion for souls was great. In fact, D.L. had to remind me of the fact that he wept over souls in the pulpit, too. And to find out that the first convert of the so-called Modern Missionary Movement, Krishna Pal, was won to Christ by Dr. John Thomas, whom some called a Hyper Calvinist, was like light in darkness. It has taken me the most of 56 years to learn to think outside the box, to pick up on the contradictions, the peripheral issues, to learn that true biblical theology for all of its stress on the Sovereignty of God demands the full use of the mind to the nth degree. Think of the possibilities of 20,000-900,000 years and quadrillions of planets and all the human inhabitants thereof and the intellectual biblical system that shall enable us to persuade by truth and compassion alone to win the day for the glory of Christ our Lord….just as our ancestors and predecessors almost won the day in that period from 1740-1820 (allowing for overlaps on the time issue).

  13. Carlston "Red" Berry says

    QUOTE: “I am willing to admit that my mind cannot grasp the splendor of God’s glory and that many Scriptural truths are only resolved in the divine logic.”

    Yes! Professing to know anything more than this is arrogance. Deut. 29:29 lays it out best: “The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law.” Understand and do everything you can understand, but leave the rest to God, who alone understands everything about Himself and what He is doing.
    David got it: “LORD, my heart is not haughty, nor mine eyes lofty: neither do I exercise myself in great matters, or in things too high for me.” Psa. 131:1
    Paul told us this; when we preach the gospel, we are reading a pardon to some, a death sentence to others, and only God knows which is going to be which. Our job is to deliver the message, because when we do, “We are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish: To the one we are the savour of death unto death; and to the other the savour of life unto life. And who is sufficient for these things?”
    WHO? Not me, not you, not anybody in this life in the flesh. But “We’ll understand it better bye and bye.” The Philosopher J. Mortimer Adler said he came to faith in Christ BECAUSE he could not understand the Trinity, and that kind of God, he thought, was worth worshiping…and he had written a book on “How To Think About God”!
    So let’s leave “the secret things” to God, believe and obey what we DO understand, and look forward to Bible class when we all get to Heaven. We’ll need eternity to understand it all, anyway.

    (KJV)

    • says

      Red
      I really have no problem with that last paragraph. However, does that does produce a question (mostly to me), does that make me intellectually lazy?

      • says

        D.L.,
        As a child grows, he understands more of the world.
        As a student learns, say math, he understands more complex equations.
        So my belief is that as the church matures, we can grow in our understanding of God.
        In this way there is a compelling reason to reason with each other to seek to understand God all the more. Our curiosity is God-given, and what better object for it than the Awesome Lord of all?
        But it must be community driven as opposed to individually grasped and proclaimed so as to guard against pride and false teaching.

        revelation in the OT was progressive. Those who were of the old faith had to accept the new truth that Jesus was the risen Messiah. Thus we are told that the Word of God is living, as opposed to stagnant. it has depths to be plumbed and layers to be revealed.

        Jesus told the people that their Scriptures spoke of Him, to find Him there. The truth is not always obvious.

  14. says

    We have developed a problem. During the CR the word “inerrancy” took on another meaning. In the original meaning it referred to a way to view scripture. As the CR progressed it took on a political meaning. Hence people began to say I believe the Bible is inerrant, but I do not support the process in which we are engaged. The Inerrantist became a group with an agenda.

    We are facing the same situation. When asked “are you a traditionalist”? I reply I am very traditional and I agree with most of the content of the statement, but I will not sign it because it has become an identifiable group that has an agenda. Those folks are bing referred to as Traditionalist.

    My point: now we have an organized group of Cals and an organized group of Trads. Time is spent in unproductive discussion that widens the gap. Nothing but hard feelings is being accomplished.

    This is IMO the major reason people will not sign the statement. It is unproductive.

    Brothers it is past time to stop with this type of discussion and focus solely on “if” and “how” we can coexist. No one is going to “win” this debate. No one is going to have their minds changed to any significant degree or number.

    We know what we each believe. Now what are we going to do about it?

  15. says

    The problem that divine foreknowledge poses for free will is one that is notoriously difficult to solve. If God believes in advance how an agent will act, this fact about the past eradicates all alternatives for the actor, given the infallibility of God’s beliefs. And if we assume that free will requires alternatives possibilities, then it looks as if God’s omniscience is incompatible with our free will.

  16. Stuart says

    Marginalizing the middle ground and a number of theologically tenable middle-ground positions is both theologically and intellectually dishonest, but it’s necessary in order to frame the discussion/debate in terms of the polar extremes.

    Framing the discussion/debate in terms of the polar extremes is necessary if the goal is eventually to have a particular polar position codified.

    Pay attention.

    • says

      Stuart,
      Exactly.
      To say all non-Trads are C’s or to say all non-C’s are Trads is to seek to codify one’s particular polar position.

    • Rick Patrick says

      Wow. That’s assuming an awful lot of motive in terms of the goals of others, which could also be called dishonest since that is not their motive. What if others simply have a different opinion from yours about the logical consistency of certain middle-ground positions? What if someone *honestly* believes they do not work? He may be dismissing the middle ground positions, but he’s not being dishonest about it. He’s telling you exactly what he thinks–with no malicious intent at all.

      My favorite book to cut through most of these positions is by Ronnie Rogers, a former Calvinist. http://astore.amazon.com/316ministr-20/images/1462712851

      • says

        Dr. Patrick,

        I see logical inconsistencies in both ends of the spectrum, Calvinism and Traditionalism—but that does not lead me to ignore their existence, dismiss their positions as not really worthy of a seat at the table or not as valid as my own position in the middle. The dishonesty comes in when the middle is not only dismissed and ignored, but coopted and claimed for the Traditionalist side (see Dave’s article above).

        As for logical inconsistencies, they are not matters of mere opinion, but ought to be substantively argued (in an irenic way, of course). Try doing that at SBC Today and (if you are of the middle position) they will quietly show you the door.

      • Tarheel says

        Ok Rick, Let’s say SBC “middle” Calvinist are wrong….lets say our positions are illogical and “don’t work”.

        Why does it matter? Why must you and others constantly argue against us? Why is it a huge problem with you what others believe about these issues that are within orthodoxy and align with the BFM2000 but different than yours?

        Is it possible that the conspiracies you fear are not as real as you think? Is it possible that you’ve assumed motives that aren’t ours? Is it possible that we simply and truly believe what we say we believe and wish those who disagree no ill will – and aren’t seeking to take over anything? Is it possible that your brothers and sisters in Christ are truly hurt by what they view (rightly or wrongly) as attempts by others to silence/marginalize/kick us to the curb?

        Why must you create a group in response – fowarding a system centered around a flower everyone pronounces differently, only thinks about at Christmas, and most can’t spell?

        (I’m attempting at using humor there with that last part. The questions are serious though. )

        I will say on a personal level that the Holy Spirit is working in my life with regard to assuming motives of others (not just in these discussions) and them acting based on those assumptions. I’m realizing it’s not productive, does not honor God, and ends up being hurtful to my brothers and sisters in Christ because the negative assumptions I make about others truly aren’t the case.

      • says

        Rick,
        You outright said that if they are not on the C side they -perforce- are Traditionalists. That despite the testimony from some who find major problems with the Traditional Statement. In other words, C’s think that their position logically works and the others do not. Trads think their position logically works and the others do not. Those in the middle think neither end logically works. But to claim those in the middle because their positions, that according to you, don’t work is a strange answer to the charge. Why don’t you claim C’s as Trads, since you don’t think their position logically works?
        So in place you declare their is only two positions C’s or non C’s [Trads] where you ‘swallow up’ the middle; and then you say you are dismissing the middle ground because you honestly think they do not work.
        Really?
        Since I think you are a man of intelligence, what am I to make of these strange answers?

        • Rick Patrick says

          I said nothing at all about perforce. I said I believe most SBs are Traditionalists–my “primary” word for Non-Cals. There may be a few Non-Cals out there in SBC life that could not sign the TS, but most of them could. So no, I do not think that *all* Non-Cals are Trads.

          I do, however, agree with Eric, contra Dave, that the middling positions are usually held by people on their way to one end of the spectrum or the other. Ultimately, one is forced to weigh in on Monergism vs. Synergism, and will pretty much lean in one direction or the other.

          Neither Eric nor I are “marginalizing” anyone—at least, not to any degree greater than Dave could be said to be “marginalizing” those he views on the extremes. To disagree is not to marginalize. To view someone else’s position as untenable in the long run is not to marginalize. You may disagree that these matters can be so reduced, but there is no sense in branding someone who believes differently with any kind of false motive or intention. We just see it differently.

    • Dale Pugh says

      Marginalizing is never necessary in a discussion, especially when we aren’t talking polar extremes.

      Paying attention is a problem for many on both sides of the argument.

  17. says

    In the study from where i quoted the above, the lady concludes that divine foreknowledge is incompatible with libertarian free will, so that one must give up part of one or the other. He solution was to make God’s foreknowledge, ‘soft’, or to be an Open Theist.

    Rather than become an Open Theist or similar, most adopt a compabilist position that understands that when presented with a choice, each individual makes that choice based on many factors including their heredity, their upbringing, their environment, their emotions at the time, as well as other factors. These factors help determine our choices. Thus we never choose ‘freely’ in a libertarian way. But if worldly factors influence and help shape our choices, from beyond our conscience thoughts, why can God also influence our choices in the same way?

    So we read in Proverbs 21:

    The king’s heart is like channels of water in the hand of the Lord;
    He turns it wherever He wishes.

  18. Jon says

    Earlier in the comment stream Rick said he believes that man can do what God has given him the freedom to do, and what God knows in advance he will do. One problem many people have with Calvinism is the thought that God created millions or billions of people only to condemn them to hell with nothing they can do about it. But this is not just a calvinist issue. Doesn’t simple foreknowledge lead to the same problem? Meaning, God created millions or billions of people knowing in advance that they would not believe in him and would go to hell. Therefore from the moment they entered this world their only destiny is eternal judgment. Whether it is foreordained or foreknown the result is the same.

    • Tarheel says

      Jon, you’re right….both have the same result (if those who articulate that understanding of foreknowledge also believe in the infalliability of Gods knowledge.)

      I’ve argued this same point several times. Maybe you’ll get through.

      • John Wylie says

        Tarheel and Jon,

        The same can be said for the whole compatibility argument versus determinism.

        • says

          John,
          Compatibilism is a ‘soft’ determinism.
          That is why Eric hankins is not completely wrong when he calls Calvinists determinists although almost all are compatibilists.

          But if one believes in God’s infallible foreknowledge, then one believes that God created the world KNOWING each name of each of the billions of people who were going to Hell, and try as He might, and try as we might, there is nothing to stop it.

          The only way to avoid that position is to give up on God having foreknowledge in an infallible way and become an Open Theist.

          But instead of openly explaining how their position reconciles these HARD truths, traditionalists, as far as I can tell, IGNORE them except to bash Calvinists about them.

        • says

          And Mike, I could be wrong but when I read Eric and see him use “determinism” to describe our view, I get the idea that he is describing “hard” determinism, not “soft” determinism (compatibilism). But I could be misreading him.

          • Tarheel says

            Les,

            I don’t think you are misreading him. I get the sme sense.

            Of course we could both be wrong.

      • says

        John,

        Just for clarity, compatibilism is a form of determinism. I quoted John Frame last night for Rick. Here he is again with a good distinction.

        “An alternative concept of freedom, one consistent with Reformed theology and held by a number of philosophers (the Stoics, Spinoza, Locke, Hume, Hobart, Richard Double et al) is often called “compatibilism,” for on that basis, free will and determinism (the view that all events in creation are caused) are compatible. Compatibilism maintains simply that in making moral decisions we are free to do what we want to do, to follow our desires. As such, compatibilism is the precise opposite of libertarianism, which holds that freedom requires independence from desire itself.”

        5 point Calvinists subscribe to compatibilism, recognizing some mystery.

        • says

          Hi, Les.

          There is another form of compatibilism that centrists hold. The “one-way” form is held by standard Calvinists, and men are only free in one direction (the direction they want to go). But since compatibilism is defined as the belief that free will and determinism are compatible, then when free will is given the “fuller” definition of being able to “choose otherwise,” then we have a fuller, “two-way” compatibilism. Essentially, Calvinism coopted compatibilism by redefining free will in the limited, one-way form. Centrists (if they hold to compatibilism rather than antinomy) hold to a compatibilism wherein men are fully free to choose otherwise and are not bound by necessity, but neither do they escape the utter certainty of which courses of action they will freely choose.

      • Jon says

        I also want to point out that I’m not arguing for or against calvinism or traditionalism as I don’t put myself under either label. It just seems to me that traditionalists don’t actually get away from one of the problems that many people have with calvinism; which is the creation of people who can do no other than wind up in hell.

    • volfan007 says

      Jon,

      The difference is that I believe that God earnestly desires to save those lost people, and He is working to save them….if they’ll respond to His calling in repentance and faith. In other words, we believe that God didn’t create them to just get some sadistic thrill by creating them to just send them to HEll, which brings Him glory. No. God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked….He’d rather them get saved. His desire is that they get saved. That is what brings Him the most glory. Sinners getting saved.

      Now, does God know that millions upon millions will not get saved, and will go to Hell…..yes, of course. God knows everything. God is not bound by time and space like we are. But, His knowing that so many people will not get saved, does not mean that He didn’t want them to be saved. It doesn’t mean that He is not working in their lives, and offering salvation. Because, HE is.

      David

        • volfan007 says

          God is doing what He chooses to do…..to save those who will respond to His calling. If God wanted to save everyone….make them get saved….He could do it. God can do whatever He wants to do. He is God.

          But, to think that God created billions of people to just get some kind of sadistic thrill….just to demonstrate that He can punish people forever in Hell….to bring Him glory by causing billions of people to suffer forever….wow. I believe what the Scriptures teach….God’s desire is to save all men….and, the Holy Spirit is convincing the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment….and, God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked…..God wants to save people. And, He is working in this world to bring them to salvation. But, in His sovereignty, He lets men make choices….to choose whether they will be saved, or not.

          David

          • says

            David,
            First you said he was trying to save everyone, ALL.
            Then you say he is only trying to save those who will respond.

            So which is it?

            Then you say he is working in this world to save people… does that mean all people?
            or just those he know will respond?

            If the latter, then why is he working to do what he knows he can not do?

          • volfan007 says

            Parson,

            Here’s exactly why these discussions go no where. With all due respect, we can dance round and round on this, and it’ll result in nothing new.

            I said God is trying to save everyone….and, all of those who respond will get saved. And, that’s the desire of God….to save people…and, He will save people….if they respond to His calling. I’m not sure how you got anything different from what I was saying.

        • Don Johnson says

          Mike,

          Why did He cry over Jerusalem? If everything was exactly as He degreed, why weep?

          • volfan007 says

            Don,

            Not only did Jesus weep over Jerusalem, but He also said that HE would have gathered them under His wings, but THEY WOULD NOT. Not that HE WOULD NOT….but, THEY would not. So, Jesus wanted to gather them….He wept over the fact they wouldn’t come to Him… but, they would not come to Him…..even though He desired for them to do it.

            David

          • says

            Don,
            What God is doing in this world is NOT the same as what He desires men to do.
            He hates sin and the effects of sin and the hard hearts of people turned against Himself, because it ruins them.
            But it is men sinning. God is doing other than that. But he is not saving all men.
            So what God is doing is different than what men are doing and different than what God wants men to do.

            But God is not trying to do what he can not do. i think that is an absurd idea.

          • Les Prouty says

            Mike, you said it as if I had said it. I agree brother.

            Don, I paused cutting grass to see your latest response. What Mike said is what I would say.

            Now, please tell us all what two gospels you see in the bible. Be very specific. And please explain how we Calvinists can have according to you, a different gospel and it not be false.

            Go!

        • says

          Rather we read in Isaiah 55:10-11

          “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven,
          And do not return there without watering the earth
          And making it bear and sprout,
          And furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater;
          11 So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth;
          It will not return to Me empty,
          Without accomplishing what I desire,
          And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.

          and we also read from Romans 10:

          14 How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? 15 How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news of good things!”

          So the Gospel, His Word, His good news, goes forth and accomplishes all He desires it to.
          Doesn’t he desire it to save all the people? Yet it fails. Right?

          • volfan007 says

            Parson,

            It doesn’t fail. It does exactly what HE wants it to do. The light of God and the Gospel calls out to all men….and, it saves those people, who will repent and believe. The Gospel is doing exactly what God planned for it to do….saving those who will believe.

            So, where’s the failure, just because a bunch of people refuse and reject? There’s no failure on God’s part, at all. It’s on man….and, they will pay for their rejection, one day….which is also according to the plan of God.

            David

          • says

            David,
            Your point is that God is trying to save who He knows he can’t save.
            if you say that He sends His word out, His Gospel to save only those who believe, then He is not sending it out to everyone, since all do not believe.
            Then who is he sending the Gospel to but those he knows who will believe, the elect.[Elect defined as those God foreknows who will believe as per the Traditionalist Statement]

            So lets look at it further. Why send Jesus to die for the sins of those who will not believe? Jesus is the Word, the Gospel.
            So it seems you are saying that Jesus came only to save the elect?

          • volfan007 says

            Parson,

            Down here on this planet….in the here and now….all people can be saved….And, God desires to save all people…..the death of Jesus is sufficient to cover all the sins of all the people on this planet, and God earnestly desires for everyone to be saved. He does send His light out to everyone….and His Gospel is truly for everyone…but, of course, many people reject the light of God. But, that still doesn’t change the fact that God did want to save them, and that He would’ve saved them, if they would’ve only believed.

            In eternity and the omniscience of God, of course He knows who will and who won’t be saved….still, the Scriptures teach us that God really does want to save all men and that they come to a knowledge of the truth.

          • Don Johnson says

            Mike,

            We send the Gospel out to everyone, because the Gospel is for everyone. If Christ did not die for everyone, He would not have said go preach the Gospel to every creature. The GOOD NEWS is what Christ has accomplished, it is not man’s response to it. That’s why Paul was a debtor to the Greek and the Barbarians, it was for all. Which Peter and Paul make abundantly clear.

          • says

            David,

            When you stray from that and say God is trying to save everyone, you fall into that absurdity.

            If you stay with- God will save everyone who believes- then we are in agreement. You are in agreement with every C I know.

            What God desires, and what he does are not the same. You agree, for you say that he desires all to be saved but He is not saving all.

            And we are told to take the Gospel to all. But we know that only those who believe will be saved. So again we agree and you agree with all C’s.

            The key is in understanding that to God, who knows all, sees exactly who will and wont be saved, thus to God the effectiveness of the atonement is limited.

            But to you and I, we do not see what God sees. We are to obey and take the Gospel to all, so to us the Gospel is general in nature, not limited.

            The difference arises if we discuss how election happens. But as we work together spreading the Gospel, we don’t need to bring that up. It doesn’t change what either one of us proclaim, which is the very same thing: believe in Jesus or die in your sins.

          • says

            Don,

            You said;
            We send the Gospel out to everyone, because the Gospel is for everyone. If Christ did not die for everyone, He would not have said go preach the Gospel to every creature. The GOOD NEWS is what Christ has accomplished, it is not man’s response to it. That’s why Paul was a debtor to the Greek and the Barbarians, it was for all. Which Peter and Paul make abundantly clear – See more at: http://sbcvoices.com/the-root-of-the-problem-an-antinomists-response-to-dr-eric-hankins/#comment-239493

            Some of what you say is right.
            The Gospel is for everyone, and we are told to take it to all the earth.
            But if one concludes from that it must mean everyone can be saved, then that conclusion is incomplete.
            For since you believe that God has infallible foreknowledge, then you know God knows who won’t get saved.
            This means they Wont get saved, no matter what. In that sense, everyone can not be saved.

            If you conclude, from man’s perspective, that everyone could get saved, then we agree. They just need to repent and surrender to Jesus.

            The problem is that most times those conclusions are made together, as one. So a person might say God is trying to save everyone. Which is really an absurdity since we agree God knows whom cant be saved because he has foreseen all. Therefore why is God trying to do what he knows he can not do?

            Now that is not something I would speak to a C about, for a C believes that God is only acting to save those he has chosen to save. But in your argument, it is a thing to think about.

          • Don Johnson says

            Mike,

            “Some of what you say is right.
            The Gospel is for everyone, and we are told to take it to all the earth.”

            We agree, Christ died for the sins of everyone. Amen!

          • says

            Don and David,
            Please understand, i am not arguing Calvinism against you. I am simply seeking to get you to recognize the implications within your own positions. These contradictions are what make Calvinism seem so bad to you, but in reality, you hold to many of the very same principles.

            For it seems to me that the two of you, and you guys seem as good as of representative of Trad arguments as any, don’t really think through every facet of your position. So on the one hand you hold a God whose foreknowledge is infallible, but it has no bearing on another position. This leads to contradictory understandings, and it gets worse when you argue against someone who fails to grasp those internal contradictions and just can’t understand why you jump around.

            Some Calvinists as well, have the same problem. they haven’t thought through their position to recognize all the implications of what they are saying. Thus they have the same problem.
            The key is to listen, think, study and learn. use God’s word, not simply as a proof text, but to understand God. These are lessons i am still learning myself.

          • says

            Don,
            I didn’t say that.
            I said SOME of what you say is right.

            let me ask you these questions…

            Does God know who wont be saved no matter what he or anyone does?
            No? You don’t think God has infallible foreknowledge and you can skip the rest.
            Yes? then he knows who CANT be saved.

            Do you think God tries to do what He knows He cant do?
            Yes? skip to the end and please explain.
            No? We are still on the same page.

            Based om your No answer, why do you think God sent Jesus to die for everyone, when he knows that only some will be saved? For what purpose did Jesus die for those who CANT be saved?

          • Don Johnson says

            Mike,

            It’s not a question of what I think. It’s a question of what the Bible states. if the Bible states God desires all to saved, I believe it. If the Bible states Christ died for everyone’s sins I believe it. By the same token “if” the Bible states God chose only some people to saved, I would believe it. Though I know it doesn’t because it would make God a liar, and it’s impossible for God to lie (Tit. 1:2).

          • says

            Don,
            Actually it is what you think.
            This is because you interpret the Bible.
            For example, the word all, does it always mean everyone who ever lived?

          • Nate says

            Don,

            We must ultimately define the word “all”, don’t we? Because all (people everywhere and in every place) have not even been allowed by God to hear the gospel since the resurrection. And, if Scripture states, that is only by the preaching of the gospel and hearing the words of Christ that people are saved, the reality is that “all” really don’t have the opportunity to be saved.

            Millions have been born, lived long lives, and died without ever even hearing the gospel of Jesus Christ. Did God desire them to be saved? If so, then why did He prevent the gospel from ever getting to their ears? The reality on the ground is that “all” have not been allowed by the sovereignty of God to hear the gospel. For those of us who have been graced with that (hearing the gospel) it should increase our desire to go and share with “all” people.

            There are still people, even in today’s technological age that will be born, live, and die without ever hearing about Jesus.

            So, does God desire all to be saved? Yes, but not in the manner we sometimes make it out to be. Did Jesus command His followers to go into all the world and preach to everyone? Yes, but they obviously didn’t get to every single man, woman, boy, and girl in the 1st century.

            That is why we must continue to be diligent with evangelism and missions. Because in the sovereignty of God He chose to spread the gospel through human ambassadors.

          • Dave Miller says

            Don and Mike, why don’t you guys exchange emails and carry on this conversation in private, since it has little to do with the article I wrote.

          • Don Johnson says

            Dave,

            If you don’t want us to discuss it. We won’t. But I believe it has everything to do with the post. I believe it all starts with the Gospel. This isn’t going to sound good but a 5C and a Trad do not preach the same Gospel. Having said that, I won’t comment further on this thread unless I’m questioned.

          • says

            Don,

            I’m not going to be draw into a back and forth with you. But your statement that Calvinists and Trads preach a different gospel is simply untrue. If it were to be true, and I assume you mean that Calvinists preach the different gospel (Paul means by that a false gospel) then you don’t even consider us brothers. Or at least you shouldn’t. Really uncalled for to accuse us of preaching another gospel.

          • Don Johnson says

            Les,

            I didn’t say it was a false Gospel. I said it was not the same Gospel. If we don’t say the same thing, we do not share the same Gospel. To prove the point, let’s say you are going to witness (share the Gospel) with a complete stranger. What exactly might you say? I’m not concerned with the small talk, just the actual word for word presentation of the Gospel. Then I’ll show you what I would say and how it is not the same. Fair enough?

          • says

            Don,

            You said, “I didn’t say it was a false Gospel. I said it was not the same Gospel.”

            Ok, if it’s not a false gospel we Calvinists proclaim and only “not the same gospel” as Trads proclaim, just how many gospels are there?

            I’ll be happy to exchange gospel presentations if Dave Miller approves us carrying this on here.

          • says

            Thanks Don. But while we wait, please answer my question above about how many gospels you think there are. In fact, since you said you didm;t say ours is a false gospel, only not the same gospel as the Trad gospel, please since ours is not a “false” gospel how many “true” gospels do you think there are? Please be specific.

          • Don Johnson says

            Les,

            Strange it’s alright for me to answer your questions about the Gospel, but you won’t answer mine. But to answer your question, according to the Bible there are two. Now don’t ask me what they are until you answer my question.

          • says

            No Don, not strange. You made a statement that you now won’t clarify. The other question was really a suggestion by you that we oat how each of us would explain the gospel to someone.

            So not really strange. Just please clarify what you’ve **already said.**

            Here it is again:

            In fact, since you said you didn’t say ours is a false gospel, only not the same gospel as the Trad gospel, please since ours is not a “false” gospel how many “true” gospels do you think there are? Please be specific.

          • says

            Don,

            Pardon, Should have been: “The other question was really a suggestion by you that we show how each of us would explain the gospel to someone.”

          • says

            Trads, Cals, and all in between preach the same Gospel:

            That Jesus Christ, God in the flesh, came an lived a sinless life, suffered and died for the sins of man, and rose from the dead on the third day. And that He is coming again in power and glory to rule and to judge the world AND that all people are sinners before a Holy God and have earned eternal condemnation. BUT there is forgiveness in the Lord Jesus for all who would surrender themselves to Him in faith and repentance.

            Any one who preaches any ‘gospel’ that is substantially different than that is preaching a false gospel, and should be brought through the disciplinary process of his own church and if no change is made, the church should be dis-fellow-shipped from the SBC.

            That is our unifying truth, which many moderates would rather focus on then debates on any theological out pinning of various tribes within the whole.

            But our leaders have said that some of these discussions have merit. The point is to learn to accept other’s differences as long as it doesn’t violate the Gospel truth.

          • Don Johnson says

            Les,

            I’ll be as specific as I can. According to the Bible there are TWO.

            Now back to what I said. I said we do not preach the same Gospel. I said I would be willing to prove it. To which you said you would be happy to exchange Gospel presentations. I’ll answer any question you have, but you need to hold up your end of the bargain. Why do you keep trying to dodge my question? You said you were happy to do so, so do so. I’ll be even happier to read it.

          • says

            Les,
            Does your Gospel differ substantially than the one I posted?
            If not, even though you are not an SB, I offer the right hand of fellowship.

          • says

            Don wrote: “I said we do not preach the same Gospel.”

            I love how when people point out how some positions held by the Traditonalist camp can lead down the path to plagiarism (including but not limited to denial of inherited guilt/total depravity), that apparently the world is ending, and never before has such visceral hatred been put forward.

            And yet here we have a “traditionalist” basically saying Calvinists preach a false gospel.

            If there is not a double standard here I don’t know what the definition of such would be.

      • Jon says

        David,
        I don’t know if you will see this since the thread has gotten so long. The reason I wrote my comment was that I have seen people say that they couldn’t worship the God of the Calvinists because he created people only to damn them. And I certainly see the difference between actively damning people and simply allowing them to choose their own destiny. But whether it is active or passive we still run into the issue that God created people knowing they were not going to repent, knowing that they were going to hell. And it isn’t just some generic millions and millions, but he knows specifically. So according to traditionalist theology, if Bob dies refusing to repent and believe then he dies lost and it is his own fault. But God knew that Bob would never repent and he knew that Bob would die lost, so we are back to that troubling question, why would God create Bob if he knew his final destiny would be hell? And at that point the only answer I know to give is God’s ways are higher than my ways, who am I to question God.

        • Don Johnson says

          Jon,

          I believe God only created Adam and Eve. Every person after them were a result of the laws of nature which God put in place.

          I’m curious as a NC why do C’s have children. If Adam, Abraham, Lot, Isaac, Eli, or David are any indication; it would appear there is only a fifty percent chance at best that they would be “elect.” Does it not bother C’s that God is probably going to” hate” half of their kids?

          I need to retract my previous comment about not commenting. As this is not with Mike.

        • Don Johnson says

          Mike,

          I could agree with what you stated. It is not what I would say, though on the surface there is nothing wrong with it. However, I think, though I could be wrong you carefully covered up part of what you believe to be true. I’ll explain what I mean, but I first want to read Les’ explanation. If he doesn’t give one in the next 2 hours I’ll explain what I mean and how I would change it.

          • says

            Don,
            No need Don.
            Or do you just want to argue over what we agree on?
            Good night brother.
            last word is yours if you want it.

  19. William Carpenter says

    Thanks for the article, Dave. This sums up most of my thoughts about the discussion very well. 1) The ignoring of the validity of a middle ground. 2) The reason why I find myself in the middle (not trying to temper my Calvinism, but trying to make sense of scripture). 3) The antinomist (I guess that’s where I fall) position. Scripture clearly speaks to both God chose before the beginning of the world, yet man must freely choose God, responding in faith and repentance.

    Again thanks for speaking up on this too controversial issue.

  20. Jeff Johnson says

    Dave,

    I thought this was excellent. I once heard Herb Reavis preach at an evangelism conference (I’m paraphrasing as closely as I can here): “I believe in preaching the whole counsel of Scripture. Where the Bible speaks of God’s sovereignty and election, I preach that. Where the Bible speaks of man’s responsibility and opportunity to respond to the Gospel, I preach that.” I think that sentiment represents the mindset of most Southern Baptists.

    • volfan007 says

      Jeff,

      Everyone could affirm what Herb Reavis said in your quote….Calvinists, Traditionalists, and everyone else.

      David

      • Jeff Johnson says

        David,

        Yes, and that’s my point. Within the framework of the BF&M, we all affirm God’s sovereignty. We all affirm the necessity of preaching the gospel to everyone and calling on them to respond in faith. We affirm both because the Bible teaches both. I believe most Southern Baptists are content to leave it at that and cooperate in evangelism, without having to stake out a position on how it all fits together.

        • Volfan007 says

          Jeff, yes…that’s what most of the people, who signed the Trad statement thought, as well….until a few years ago when popular speakers amongst the Calvinists, and some Calvinist SBC leaders, and some Calvinist bloggers started saying some things that made Non Cals in the SBC think “Now hold on just a doggone minute.”

        • Dave Miller says

          I stated that in the article, David.

          I’m convinced most people never read the article, just jump into the comments.

          • volfan007 says

            Dave,

            I read the article. It appears as if you’re saying that 4 and 5 point Calvinists are in one extreme, and Traditionalists are the other extreme. Is it your intent to try to marginalize both of these groups?
            On one side, you’ve got Calvinists of all stripes and flavors, but they’re still Calvinists. On the other side, you’ve got Non Calvinists, which the people, who wrote the Trad Statement tried to define. And, there are Non Calvinists of all stripes and flavors, as well. But, they’re still Non Calvinists….again, a group that the Trad Statement writers tried to identify….to get away from the NON label.

            Anyway, I too hope that we can move away from all of this division over the gray areas of the Bible…..and, I believe we can….when we have such a revival in the SBC that we have a fresh love and passion for the Lord….and, we become burdened over lost people…and, we’re more concerned with doing God’s work, than we are in taking over the SBC and restoring the true Gospel.

            David

          • Dave Miller says

            David, read again. I explained my use of the term and you totally misrepresentated it.

          • volfan007 says

            Dave,

            Here’s your quote….”It appears that he wants to set the discussion between the extremes (not to describe the views as extremist – both are mainstream Christian and Baptist viewpoints – but as the ends of the Calvinist continuum) of 5-point Calvinism and Traditionalism.”

            You said that it appears that Hankins wants to set the discussion between the EXTREMES….which you go on to say are “5 point Calvinism and Traditionalism.” So, please help to see how I’ve misread you, or misrepresented you.

            David

          • volfan007 says

            DAve,

            Also, you said, “But I do not accept Hankins’ summary dismissal of all the middle ground positions between five-point, system Calvinism and Traditionalism.” So, it looks to me that you’re calling the extreme positions as 5 pt Calvinism and Traditionalism…. is that not correct?

            David

          • Dave Miller says

            There is it.

            The extremes on the Calvinist continuum are 5-pointers and Traditionalists. I said I did not intend to imply extremism, just poles at the end of the continuum..

            My point is that I think most Southern Baptists are neither 5 pointers or adherents of the Traditionalist Statement, but that we adopt the middle positions that Dr. Hankins discounted.

            I’m not sure why I have to explain this again. It’s pretty clear in the quote you highlighted.

          • Tarheel says

            Its very clear, Dave. I hope you are correct. I think you are.

            Very good article by the way – very thought provoking.

          • volfan007 says

            I just find it a bit ironic that all the Calvinists are the ones patting Dave on the back for this article…..saying it’s a great article. lol

            David

          • says

            A lot of us don’t want to live in a Baptist world where everything is us against them, Traditionalists against Calvinists, fight…fight…fight, good guys against the bad guys.

            That is the path of destruction for the SBC and a lot of us are tired of it, David.

          • Tarheel says

            LOL…fair enough – Volfan….Let me just say that –

            I find it ironic (not really at all) that all the Trads who post here consistently reject any middle ground and cooperation…and they are all doing so here too.

            Just keeping it real. ;-)

  21. David Rogers says

    Though I never passed through a Calvinist cage stage en route to getting there, based on my study of Scripture and theological reflection, I have arrived at essentially the same antinomist position Dave describes here. Another way I describe it (with which Dave and/or others may or may not agree) is I simultaneously affirm 4 1/2 points of TULIP and 3 1/2 points of non-TULIP. The one non-TULIP point I do not affirm is denial of the perseverance of the saints. And the half point (on both accounts) is limited atonement (based on two different ways of describing it, one of which I don’t affirm at all).

    I agree with Dave that centrist positions such as my own and his tend to get marginalized in discussions on these issues, and that is unfortunate and, to a certain extent, unfair.

    I think, perhaps, a reason this happens, though, is that people holding to a centrist position tend to be less emotionally invested in the whole discussion, and thus less likely to participate in the debates. For me, for example, I still find it hard to wrap my mind around why so much ink is spilled and emotional energy spent debating this largely theoretical and speculative question. Don’t we have more important things to talk about? What real difference does it make, anyway?

    Where the discussion does become important, from my perspective, is when extreme and exclusive views threaten our evangelical and denominational unity, and as a result diminish our effectiveness in missions and evangelism.

    I wish we could just move on from this issue and agree to disagree and still work together anyway. But until then, it seems interesting to me that (at least on this comment stream) largely self-professed Calvinists appear amenable to what Dave writes, and self-professed “Traditionalists” not so much. I wonder why that is. Also, I wish folks from both sides could explain to me, in layman’s terms, just why (as long as we are faithful in proclaiming the gospel and in missions) this is such a major deal to you.

    • says

      David,

      Good words. I’m one of those who doesn’t consider myself in a middle position (I’m a confirmed 5 pt. Calvinist) and yet I can largely affirm Dave’s post. And I agree that there are much more important tasks awaiting us and probably going undone.

      And, I’m one of those who too often suffers from the syndrome depicted in this tasteful cartoon. http://laughingsquid.com/someone-is-wrong-on-the-internet/

      Blessings brother.

    • Jeff Johnson says

      As to the “why”, I think we would both agree that theology matters, of course. But I wonder if the heat generated by these specific debates is sometimes fueled equally by pride and anxiety. We want to prove ourselves right, and we’re worried that we might be getting it wrong.

      • says

        Jeff,
        i can speak for no one but myself.
        i am super-convicted of my rightness with this caveat: I trust that the Holy Spirit will show me where i am wrong. In this way my doctrine has changed over the years.
        Once I believed in, for example, that new birth followed faith. Then i became a C and believed it was before faith. i am still a C but I believe faith is a pert of the new birth, meaning the new birth is incomplete with out it.
        Prayer, study and debate [or listening to others]. If we debate without listening we do ourselves and others a disservice.

        • Jeff Johnson says

          I agree with your approach. It is good to discuss these things. And wherever we fall on the Trad-Cal spectrum, even those of us in the murky middle, we think we are right (or else we’d pick a different spot). Hopefully, we’re ready to change if the Spirit by the Scriptures convinces us otherwise.

          I’ve just seen this issue (and some other topics) generate so much finger-pointing and hand-wringing. I went to both seminary and law school. Law students have a reputation for being pompous, know-it-all jerks. I actually found law school to have a more collegial atmosphere than seminary. There were spirited discussions and competition in both. But in seminary, there always seemed to be this environment of spiritual one-ups-manship. It’s one thing to be wrong about the law of contracts, but quite another to be wrong about God. In seminary, it was as if our standing with God was always at stake, in every class and on every issue. I saw students trying to point out faults both doctrinally and personally, even to the point of trying to get other students in trouble with the professor. So much smugness and condescension. Maybe my seminary experience was atypical (or maybe my perception was off), but I’ve always carried that wariness of theological debates with me. I don’t impute wrong motives to any particular person here. It’s just my sentiment in general. Could be something I need to re-evaluate.

    • Nate says

      David,

      Thanks and I agree with you as well. Two statement struck me, one yours and one Dave’s.

      Your statement, “For me, for example, I still find it hard to wrap my mind around why so much ink is spilled and emotional energy spent debating this largely theoretical and speculative question.” I think this echos my thoughts to a large degree.

      Also Dave’s, “I am willing to admit that my mind cannot grasp the splendor of God’s glory and that many Scriptural truths are only resolved in the divine logic.” That is the statement of a wise man.

      People on both ends of the spectrum seem to feel as if they can’t explain every microscopic item in the way that people come to Christ, then somehow their own salvation is at stake.

      I say, leave room for mystery. And praise God for sending His Son, and Praise Jesus for overcoming the curse of sin and providing salvation for all who will believe in His Name.

    • Debbie Kaufman says

      David: Although I hold to the five points, I would be more New Covenant in my theology, but I also affirm what Dave has written here. I think this line you wrote is important and what a majority of Baptists(at least I hope) would also affirm. You said “Where the discussion does become important, from my perspective, is when extreme and exclusive views threaten our evangelical and denominational unity, and as a result diminish our effectiveness in missions and evangelism.”

      This has always been my thought. It seems it’s always a fight about something and it’s so destructive and tiresome. Most has been built on out and out gossip and false hoods. I was ready for it to stop 6 years ago as I knew it would come down against Calvinists sometime(which of course those who are doing this denied would happen 6 years ago). The days has arrived, after that it will be something else. Time to stop.

      The central belief for me is that Christ is who He says He is and the Bible is the inerrant, true, reliable Word of God. Period. That I believe is the majority belief among Southern Baptists and that is all I care about.

    • says

      David Rogers, glad to know you haven’t fallen off the face of the earth!

      I think it is important that middle ground advocates such as us continue to raise our voices if only to remind people that the extremes are NOT the only options.

      • volfan007 says

        Dave,

        That’s exactly why I speak out, and why many Trads speak out….to let people in the SBC know that Calvinism is not the only option, out there. Although, it may seem that way in the SBC, at times……

        David

  22. says

    David,
    First I thank you for your impartial observations. I noticed the same thing. Maybe it is because Dave is more a C than a T, so his doctrine leans closer to the C side. I’ll let the T’s answer for themselves.

    As to your layman’s request, since i am unschooled, i guess i qualify, so i will take a stab at it. But first let me give you an example. We have a frequent blogger and commenter on this site who is quite passionate about spiritual gifts, you know who it is. Most of the rest care, but are not as passionate. Passion can drive a person to defend and extol what he or she believes is truth.

    So i would say that [a], the people on either side are passionate about what they believe, hence they feel the need to defend and extol their belief.

    Also [b] and this is a bit more complicated. The Holy Spirit is responsible for leading and guiding us in truth. But He doesn’t just zap us. [yes i am a calvinist (-:]. So even as individuals need to struggle with the Word to find answers and guidance, the church corporately needs to do this.

    This means the answer is probably somewhere in the middle between extremes on whatever the issue is. Of course i think it is closer to my way of thinking, but those on the other side do the same.

    So the church has had doctrinal debates since Acts 15. Sometimes we see results and in other cases the debate continues.

    The key is to debate in the love of Christ, and not as enemies, and not considering the other driven by selfish or demonic motives. Thus myself and the others who are passionate need to continually check ourselves so we don’t cross the line, for passion can occasionally push one a little too far.

  23. says

    David,
    I forgot to add.
    It is, I believe, in this give and take, that progress is made, even if ever so slowly and imperceptibly. For example, once C’s argued against Arminians about eternal security. But Trads, though similar are not A’s.

  24. says

    Regarding the charge of “determinism”, one doctrine is often ignored and rarely invoked: concurrence. It’s held in slightly different forms by both Calvinists and non-Calvinists, (including Southern Baptists self-described as Traditionalists, which are a sub-set of non-Calvinists).

  25. Troy M Long says

    You fellas use an aweful lot of words in your discussing. Are you this long winded when you preach? You Profs have a captured audience.

    A simple minded pastor … Ask … In the end who wins? Does this discussion help complete the Great Commission? Will the convention accomplish and find solutions this year? Have we not been jawing on this topic since 1845?

    As small reader of history … Will this issue help or retard the building the Kingdom of God?

    Troy

    • says

      Troy,
      Do you think the debates over the divinity of Christ were constructive?
      How about over justification by faith? In hindsight, we can say yes.
      Some day, in hind sight, we will know.

      But it seems like you have time to spend here and read and post. I hope you consider your time valuable, and i am sure it is. Not everyone is called to do the same tasks. So hope and pray that others are as well properly spending their time.

  26. Jim G. says

    Hi Dave,

    I like most of your post. I want to stay out of the dreaded C debate. It goes nowhere.

    I want to draw attention to your two “antinomies,” the Trinity and the hypostatic union. I don’t see either of these in the antinomy camp. In the Trinity, there is one being of God who exists eternally as three distinct (not separate!) “persons,” Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. God is both one and three with neither being logically prior to the other. In the hypostatic union, the Word became flesh, without ever ceasing to be Word and thereafter never ceasing to be human. I don’t think either of these are antinomy and certainly neither are paradoxical. A paradox in logic is a statement that implies its own negation, so that does not fit. I don’t believe either the Trinity or the hyp. union are illogical either. They are mystery. I’ll leave the sovereignty/responsibility disagreement to everyone else.

    Jim G.

  27. Volfan007 says

    Dave and other Calvinist in here,

    I love and appreciate my Calvinist and Ariminian Brothers in Christ. In fact, I have had Calvinist preach in my pulpit. I gladly worship and serve The Lord with my Calvinist Brothers. And, I truly hope for the day when we don’t have to have these kinds of discussions in SBC life. I am more than ready to end these discussions, and move on….to preaching the Gospel to all people and winning people to Christ. In fact, most of the discussions that I end up getting into about Calvinism take place right here at Voices! It’s like I come here and read something some one wrote or commented, and I just have to answer…..It’s like I get sucked in and can’t keep from going down, down, down into the mire…..

    Anyway, God bless all of you. I love you in The Lord. And, I am gonna do my best to promote unity and love and harmony in the SBC.

    David

    • says

      Love you too bro. Virtual group hug.

      And be thankful all voices can be heard here on this site. Lots of conversation and areas of disagreement and back and forth. Other notable SBC sites won’t allow it. So be thankful for this site brother.

    • Tarheel says

      Volfan,

      I know the feeling…..about the sucked in part. Guess that’s another thing we have in common. That one might not be so good though. LOL

      I will also say that I do not consider you to be on the extreme end of the trads….you have on numerous occasions stated that you believe we Love the Lord, preach the Gospel, love discipleship. I think the same things about you.

      Unfortunately others in “your camp” (don’t like that term here) are not appearing to be so seeking of SBC unity WITH us…it appears they only see SBC unity as being possible WITHOUT us. I hope I am wrong in that assessment though. I would love to be. I really would.

  28. Don Johnson says

    Mike, Les,

    Hopefully this is going to the bottom of the thread, as it is getting a bit long and fragmented.

    Since both of you are in agreement, either or both may answer.

    You state “died for the sins of man.” I would take that to mean mankind, everyone or all people. Is that the correct meaning you presenting?

Trackbacks

  1. […] Dave Miller’s post the other day got my mind to working, and conjured up an image that I am going to try to describe to you in this post, which could also be titled “Calvinism, Free Will, and Narnia: Redux,” as it picks up where I left off in another post I once wrote called “Calvinism, Free Will, Narnia, and Christian Unity.” The basic idea in the first post, for those who don’t want to bother going back and reading it now, is that the biblical realities of divine sovereignty (and the set of implications that Calvinists generally claim go along with them) and of human free will (and the set of implications that non-Calvinists generally claim go along with them) correspond, from an antinomist’s perspective, to the two coexisting worlds of Narnia and England as described in C. S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia. Both sets of realities, though apparently contradictory, coexist, one on one side of the wardrobe, and the other on the other side. […]