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The Southern Baptist Convention is divided on multiple issues, but Calvinism seems to stir up the most passionate debate. Some Southern Baptists would like to see the Convention properly Calvinized. Others would like to run Calvinists off the plantation altogether.

In their most entrenched forms, these two camps appear to vacillate between a martyr complex and a puzzling triumphalism. Non-Calvinists sometimes write as if the Calvinist resurgence is about to sweep away everything precious in recent SBC history, and yet they constantly remind others that the majority of Southern Baptists are decidedly not Calvinistic. On the other side, Calvinists often feel like a beleaguered minority within the Convention, and yet they marshal the Calvinist beliefs of many early Southern Baptists or the rising number of young Calvinists today as proof of their legitimacy.

Historians debate our roots, some pointing us to the Charleston (cerebral Calvinist) stream while others look back to Sandy Creek (emotional revivalism). Some trace our lineage back to the Reformation, particularly the Particular Baptists. Others see a direct line to the Anabaptists.

Being forced to decide which stream I belong to – Charleston or Sandy Creek – is like someone asking me to take sides in Grandpa and Grandma’s divorce. I’m an intellectually-inclined high church guy who loves aspects of Grandpa Charles, but I’ve been nurtured by Grandma Sandy’s distinct version of piety too. I love them both, and I want them to stay married. Keeping them together makes for a stronger Southern Baptist family.

I generally steer clear of the debate about Calvinism in the SBC, not because I don’t have strong opinions on the matter, but because most blog conversations that I have seen tend to produce much more heat than light, and because the tiresome nature of the debate can distract us from our bigger task of fulfilling the Great Commission. But I am making an exception today, in order to review a recent book that makes a contribution to the discussion.

In November 2008, First Baptist Church, Woodstock hosted several notable Southern Baptist leaders for a conference intended to critique Calvinism. I was largely unaware of what took place at the “John 3:16 Conference” because the audio and video were not made public online. (I have written elsewhere about the need for resources to be made public free of charge, so I won’t rehash my thoughts on that here.) Whosoever Will: A Biblical-Theological Critique of Five-Point Calvinism (Broadman & Holman, 2010) is the book of essays that resulted from the conference.

What can one say about Whosoever Will? For starters, the tone of the book was more conciliatory than I expected. That’s not to say that the contributors don’t take firm stands and make strong points. To the contrary, they do. But they do so in a way that doesn’t belittle the intentions and the piety of the Calvinists they critique. The book begins with a foreword, a preface, and an introduction – all before you get to Chapter 1. It appears that the editors spent much time up front seeking to set a positive, Christ-like tone.

The book itself is a mix of popular works and scholarly essays. For example, Vines’ sermon on John 3:16 and Paige Patterson’s essay combines interesting anecdotes, exegetical argument, and pastoral reflection.

For time’s sake, I will refrain from commenting on each essay, but I would like to make some comments on a few of them.

Land on Election

Richard Land’s contribution seeks to establish a middle way between unconditional election and conditional election by appealing to God being outside of time. This “congruent election” proposal is fascinating, but I still am not sure how it resolves the biggest point of contention between Calvinists and non-Calvinists – namely, is God’s choice of us the ultimate cause of our salvation or is it our response to God’s choice? The question of predestination and foreknowledge is less about time, and more about purpose.

Allen on the Atonement

Longtime readers of this blog know that I do not adhere to the doctrine of Limited Atonement, so it’s no surprise that I found David Allen’s essay to be helpful, primarily because of the way he uses Calvinist authors to make the case against the infamous “L” in Calvinism’s Tulip. Kevin Kennedy’s follow-up essay on Calvin’s view of the atonement’s extent adds to the preponderance of evidence that Calvin either did not promote the view of Limited Atonement, or that he was at the very least conflicted and unsettled in his view.

Still, I do not grant Allen’s conclusion that Limited Atonement necessarily causes problems in evangelism. Nor do I think it’s a major point of contention for groups like Together for the Gospel. There are plenty of Reformed-leaning guys like me who may not adhere to the whole system, but who are able to get along just fine with those who do.

Keathley on Perseverance

Kenneth Keathley’s chapter on perseverance of the saints makes a case for total assurance, arguing against Puritan introspection that can become pathological. It’s true that the Puritans were prone to introspection that could lead them to be as self-centered as those who never thought about their sins. But false assurance is also very dangerous.

Which is the greater danger we are facing today? I hardly think the evangelical church is suffering from too much introspection, whereas it appears we are drowning in a sea of false assurance and fruitlessness. Keathley’s chapter is helpful in some respects (though I still find the Schreiner/Canaday view of perseverance to be the most exegetically plausible), but it might have been boosted by acknowledging the excesses of those who take total assurance to an unhealthy extreme.

Yarnell on Calvinist Tendencies

Malcolm Yarnell contributes an essay that seeks to warn churches of the tendencies that accompany Calvinism. The first concerns an Augustinian view of the church, which can lead to a de-emphasis on the purity of the local church and an improper focus on the church universal. In my experience, Baptist Calvinists tend to be more preoccupied with church purity than non-Calvinists. Some non-Calvinist Baptists use Augustinian arguments (such as the Wheat and Tares) as an argument against church discipline.

Next, Yarnell warns about the possibility of aristocratic elitism, seen primarily in the presbyterian form of church government. While this polity may indeed be a tendency for some Calvinist Baptists, I’ve been encouraged to see Southern Baptist church planters countering the Acts 29 elder-rule polity by insisting on congregational authority. But Yarnell is correct to see elitism as a potential problem, though I believe it will be more likely in temperament than in polity. Some Calvinists are elitist theologically, acting as though the people who disagree with them simply have less theological expertise.

Finally, Yarnell focuses on the possible antinomian (lawless) tendencies within the resurgence of Calvinism. I believe this warning is perhaps the most relevant to the discussion. As the younger generation reacts strongly against the moralistic excesses of our past, we should indeed be on the look out for a rise in antinomian tendency. This is why it is helpful to listen to those who are not in our theological camp. Others may see warning signs that we are oblivious to.

Streett on the Invitation

R. Alan Streett devotes a chapter to the public invitation. I was disappointed that this chapter didn’t make any distinctions between invitations and altar calls. While I believe whole-heartedly in calling people publicly to faith in Christ, I do not believe that an altar call is the only legitimate form of issuing this invitation. (By the way, this is not merely a Calvinist discussion. Plenty of non-Calvinists in other parts of the world have no experience with the altar call, either because they are unfamiliar with it or uncomfortable with the American excesses they may have witnessed.)

Conclusion

In all, Whosoever Will is a helpful addition to the discussion on Calvinism within the SBC. The book would have been stronger had the contributors engaged in some healthy self-criticism of the pitfalls and tendencies of the non-Calvinist position. But even as it is, it deserves a hearing from Calvinists and non-Calvinists alike. You may disagree with the point of view presented here, and that’s fine. But at least you will have listened to the arguments from others who love the Lord and seek the good of his church.


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41 thoughts on “Calvinism & The SBC: A Review of "Whosoever Will"”

  1. Heath Lloyd says:

    Trevin: I thank the Lord for you and the ministry that he has given you in the form of this blog. I appreciate your balance, and your Christ-like spirit. Thank you for this review.

  2. John says:

    I really appreciate the way that you address this issue–I have certainly been one of the ones with more heat and less light a time or two (or three). This sounds like a great book.

  3. Sarah says:

    Thank you for posting this. I am very blessed to be in a church where seemingly almost everyone believes very strongly in the Doctrines of Grace and the Sovereignty of God. I have learned much, but I think it will be good for me to read something from another viewpoint. Thank you for pointing me to this source. I look forward to reading it and thinking deeply about our great God and how He saves.

  4. David says:

    The main problem I have with the content from that conference was that no Calvinist was invited to speak AND noted apologist James R. White was painted as a ‘hyper-Calvinist,’ a claim that can be debunked as easily as persuading a Baptist to have an altar call at the end of a church service. This may not be reflected in the book, but I would ask a couple of follow-up questions: did the book feature an essay by a Calvinist?

    I found one of your statements, if I may say so, extremely ironic: “nurtured by piety.” Sounds a bit to me, as a former Pentecostal with Wesleyan baggage, like saying “cuddled with a porcupine” or “comforted by an angry nun with a yardstick.”

    Definitely going to be a book I pick up and read.

  5. Charles says:

    Thanks for your thoughts on the book. While I have not read the book yet, I did post a brief interview with David Allen on my blog that you might be interested in: http://www.bibleexposition.net/2010/02/interview-with-david-allen-on.html

  6. Steve says:

    Thank you for this, Trevin. Frankly, I’ve grown tired of the Calvinism/SBC discussion, but I might consider skimming this book. I am particularly interested in David Allen on the atonement. Is there any place else where I might find his writings on this subject?

  7. J. K. Jones says:

    Thank you for a helpful review.

    I am interacting with the book right now for a series of posts, and I will link to your review above as a helpful resource.

  8. Very good review of “Whosoever Will.”

    I also enjoyed your recent Baptist Press article.
    David R. Brumbelow

  9. I have been reading this book and I have found it to be okay. As an Arminian, I have found that the book appeals neither to Calvinist or Arminians though Arminians such as myself find more to agree with than a five-point Calvinist would. Oddly, the majority of the writers seek to not be labeled Arminians though they would be 4 point Arminians who simply hold to perseverance of the saints which most Arminians (including myself) reject.

    I have found it even stranger than some of the writers call themselves “moderate Calvinists” though they would hold to only perseverance of the saints in the Calvinist sense and even then would probably reject perseverance of the saints in favor of eternal security or “once saved, always saved.”

  10. Derek says:

    Trevin,

    I am, what you would say, a “casual” reader of Kingdom people (I get your blogs in my email, and visit posts that interest me), so I was not aware that you do not adhere to the doctrine of Limited Atonement, and found that fact shocking.

    Anyway, good review. I too enjoyed the spirit with which these authors wrote and found it interesting that they seem to want to retain the term “Calvinist” for themselves as well. What I gathered from the beginning of the book was that Allen and the others do not want this debate to be seen as a “Calvinist verses Non-Calvinist” (far less a “Calvinist verses Arminian”) debate. They call themselves Calvinists, but not of the “particular” sort. (Sometimes they deviate from that category and are inconsistent, but at the least it seems this was one of their aims.)

  11. Trevin Wax says:

    Thanks for the comments, all.

    Derek, I’m not sure why you would be shocked that I do not adhere to Limited Atonement. I’ve always described myself as “Reformed-leaning,” which usually indicates that I subscribe to some of Calvinism, but not all five points. I’ve written about my view of the atonement here:

    http://trevinwax.com/2007/01/05/why-limited-and-unlimited-atonement-debates-miss-the-point/

  12. brian bel says:

    At daily Mass today, the priest spoke briefly of the fact that all men are created “capax Dei”, that is, “capable of God.” Hearing this, “limited atonement” popped into my mind as I cynically thought… yes, all are capable of God, except for those whom he doesn’t make capable. Seems to be a disconnect in the limited atonement realm. How cruel we’d say it is that either A) God created you to desire him, but wouldn’t allow you access to him, or B) God created you without the capacity to desire him, thus, there’d be nothing but perdition to await you.

  13. David says:

    Um…that’s a nice idea, except for the fact that the phrase “capax Dei” is not found in the Bible…and, unlike the Trinity, the concept isn’t found there, either…

  14. Tony Byrne says:

    “I was disappointed that this chapter [Streett’s] didn’t make any distinctions between invitations and altar calls.”

    The same is true of Streett’s book [The Effective Invitation] on the subject, which I took notice of when we read it at Criswell College years ago. Consequently, I talked with Dr. Allen about this before the “Whosoever Will” book came out, so you will see that his section dealing with “Problems Concerning the Giving of Altar Calls” [on p. 101] is carefully qualified in its terminology. I argued that invitations are mandatory when the gospel is presented, but “altar calls” should be optional and left to each man’s conscience, in my opinion. We all agree that manipulative abuses of the “altar call” process should be avoided.

    If you want to check out some of Dr. Allen’s sources and many more, Trevin, either visit my blog or the excellent Calvin and Calvinism blog. It has a wealth of information.

    Grace to you,
    Tony

  15. Tony Byrne says:

    p.s. Most of Dr. Allen’s article can be read in the Google Books preview, for those interested. Everyone should read the historical section since there is information and sources in it that are rare [examples = Gwalther, Charnock, Howe, etc.].

  16. brian bel says:

    David,

    You say, “Um…that’s a nice idea, except for the fact that the phrase “capax Dei” is not found in the Bible…and, unlike the Trinity, the concept isn’t found there, either…”.

    Because a latin phrase isn’t in the Bible, it’s becomes invalid? “Rigor mortis” isn’t in the Bible, but it’s a reality. Can your church choir sing “a cappella” since that latin phrase is absent from scripture?

    The bias against latin aside, the concept of being capable of God most certainly is in scriptures. It’s the whole natural law thing that Paul addresses (seeing God in nature, our conscience, etc.). These are assuredly there. Also, what’s it mean to be created in God’s image? Surely this means we are created in his spiritual image as opposed to his physical image. If we are created in his spiritual image, surely capax Dei, er, sorry, “capable of God” applies.

  17. Tony Byrne says:

    “Nor do I think it’s a major point of contention for groups like Together for the Gospel.”

    1) What is the one book Mohler thinks of when he thinks of Together for the Gospel? Owen’s Death of Death in the Death of Christ. See minute 2:12-2:50 in this Mohler video. This is significant.

    2) There are no moderate Calvinists speaking at the conferences, ever. Not one. All the speakers believe in LA.

    3) No moderate Calvinist could sign their doctrinal statement that implicitly, by authorial intent, endorses a strictly limited atonement.

    While they do not talk about LA at the conferences [such that it becomes a “major point” in that sense], LA is something all the speakers and confessional adherents have in common. Therefore, Allen, I think, has warrant to say that “…what binds these Baptists and Presbyterians together confessionally is high-Calvinism, or more specifically their belief in limited atonement” [p. 97].

    “There are plenty of Reformed-leaning guys like me who may not adhere to the whole system, but who are able to get along just fine with those who do.”

    Not only would Allen acknowledge this, but he would even say that this is true of the “non-Calvinists” in his group. They are also “able to get along with those who” “adhere to the whole system” of the TULIP. This is why someone like Greg Welty, a supralapsarian Owenist, is on staff teaching at SWBTS.

  18. David says:

    Interestingly enough, I already headed your argument of the Latin phrase off at the pass, as it were. I already affirmed that just because a word or phrase isn’t contained (ie, Trinity) doesn’t mean that it isn’t biblical.

    St. Paul’s natural law argument in Romans chapters 1 through 3 demonstrates that men are COMPLETELY incapable of responding to God…and Ephesians 2 (among other places) that men are “dead”–not sick, maimed or hurt, in trespasses and sins.

  19. Brian says:

    David,

    “men are “dead”–not sick, maimed or hurt, in trespasses and sins.”

    What Aquinas grappled with is what it means to be spiritually dead. Church thinkers knew that man’s nature is that of flesh and spirit. A mass of flesh without a spirit – a dead spirit – is what? A corpse. Thus, the need to unpack what it means to be spiritually dead. Guys like Aquinas, persuing this to its logical end, did not conclude, as is often presented, that man is spiritually sick. They likely would say, however, that his nature, ie flesh and spirit, is wounded as a result of being spiritually dead. It’s a bit much to go into here, but A) the RCC teaches that man is spiritually dead, but B) does not express it as is often misconveyed as you have done so here.

  20. Brian says:

    Oops, I meant to post as “brian bel” since there’s another Brian who posts here as well.

  21. brian bel says:

    …I’ll try again.

  22. David says:

    Brian bel…we of course differ on sola scriptura. Since this is a Baptist’s blog, I took for granted that this could be agreed upon, but I didn’t take into account RCC participation.

    Essentially, this is the impasse we’ve reached. I argued that ‘capax Dei’ isn’t a Scriptural notion. You posited that St. Paul taught it…I countered that argument with two notable passages where Paul talks about the utter inability apart from a regenerating work of Christ for man to respond. Then, you ran to Aquinas as if Aquinas has any bearing on the meaning of Holy Scripture.

    I wasn’t trying to represent the RCC’s view of this…I was attempting to represent the view given by St. Paul. I know you’ll say there’s no disparity…but until someone can show me from the words of St. Paul in Scripture that he differed from how I’ve represented his view, there really isn’t much else of a discussion.

  23. brian bel says:

    David,

    Okay, I’ll leave the topic alone, but I want to you see that I AM making the point, capax Dei, from scriptures. The concept of Sola Scriptura is often oversimplified. The way it’s portrayed here all relevant doctrinal and theological concepts should be clear as can be. Not so. The Trinity doctrine to which you refered earlier took centuries to hash out, as did the nature of Christ. Christ is the “logos” which is the root of logic, so although Sola Scriptura may be what you believe, even then logic must still be applied (as it was in developing these Trinitarian and Incarnational understandings). Think about it, if it’s just flat out plain and simple “the Bible alone” and whatever Paul says on a matter, then why do you need a concordance? Why are there seminaries? Why Church councils? Why theologians? By the way, you critiqed my mention of Aquinas, yet he made Trevin’s list of top 5 theologians (Mar 8, 2010). If he has no “bearing on the meaning of scriptures,” he shouldn’t be recognized in any sense whatsoever.

    Please don’t take my comments as debate of any sort; I’m only attempting to encourage you to more expansive consideration of matters.

  24. Brian bel,

    Though I think you’re making a good point. A few things to think about:

    A) Aquinas is not on par at all with Paul, even if Trevin likes him. Paul was picked out by God to have Christ Himself revealed to him, and subsequently given suthority to write Scripture as an apostle.

    B)capax Dei is problematic simply because Paul was so adamant about our inability to want to seek God or our inability to be able to please God. Furthermore, Jesus said that we only come to God through Him calling us. There is a reason why people do not choose God, because they aren’t born with any desire for Him without His electing grace. If we are all capable, then God would never be turned down and would be sought out inherently. Also, Isa. 55:11 would be untrue about God if He is rejected at the point of “offering” salvation.

  25. brian bel says:

    Brandon,

    It seems folks are assuming that I’m implying that man can do these things on his own (pelagianism). Heck no. God’s grace is assumed. Only by virtue of God’s grace do we have the capacity for God. Reformed guys are all about speaking of “common grace”, yet I’m not granted such a concept in my points about this. Perhaps we’re all talking past each other.

    In the end, I think it’s clear in scriptures that Jesus died for ALL men. Limited atonement guys say that’s not so, and they say that in verses speaking of such that when the Bible says “all” it doesn’t necessarily mean “all.” I get that. This takes us back to my conversation with David… sola scriptura hasn’t helped a bit then cause both sides (RCC and Reformed) make their points from scriptures (as did the Gnotstics, Arians, etc.) It’s all clear as mud. Or is it? How had the Holy Spirit live up to the promise to “guide unto ALL truth”? How can the truth set us free if we sqabble over what is the truth?

    My impulse to respond in this thread is by viture of the fact that I feel strongly that teaching Limited Atonement can cause grave harm to souls, so yes, I’ll speak up in such a case. God’s peace and blessings.

  26. Tom says:

    David and Brandon,

    With all due respect, much is being made about how Paul was adamant about the incapability of man seeking out for God. Paul’s message at Athens runs counter to this claim, “And he made from one every nation of men to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their habitation,that they should seek God, in the hope that they might feel after him and find him. Yet he is not far from each one of us,
    for `In him we live and move and have our being'” (Acts 17:26-28).

  27. David says:

    Brian bel: How can we know what truth is enough to set us free if we don’t discuss and debate the contents therein? Were not the creeds themselves drawn up by the church fathers to combat theologies and heresies which claimed to be authoritative truth but were, in fact, lies?

    Tom: Great question. Would you agree that clear a proper way to interpret scripture is to allow clear passages to interpret less clear passages?

    If we can agree on this, I believe I can answer your question without negating either statement.

    Discounting any notion that Paul was a universalist, we have to determine the nature of the proclamation of the Gospel. Paul declares first God’s sovereignty, giving the peoples boundaries of life and land. What does this giving do? Prove through natural means, as per Romans 1, to prove that God exists, and actually serves to prove his immediacy to his creation. He is not the god of Deism, but a ruler on a throne who sees all and indeed, as previously pointed out, determines all. Nothing escapes his notice or grasp.

    But what does Paul then call them to do? He calls them to repentance (v 30) and faith (v 31). Does this passage identify faith as “our part”? It in fact, does not. Paul speaks clearly about the nature of faith in Ephesians 2, specifically verse 8, where it is identified as a gift from God. The writer of Hebrews intensifies this teaching on the nature of faith in 11:6: “And without faith, it is impossible to please [God]” et cetera.

    So the biblical story of faith is that it is a gift of God…and that God gives us the very thing He requires of us to please Him. This, for those who are unfamiliar with the term, is what is called imputed righteousness. Christ’s fulfillment of the Law is given to us by faith (which is itself a gift of God) and our sanctification (good deeds, per Eph. 2:10) flows from that gift of faith.

    What was Paul doing in Acts 17? Very literally, he was preaching the Gospel which is the method by which God ordinarily regenerates a person. Does every person who hears the Gospel repent? Of course not…maybe not ever, maybe not till the 3,000th time. But even as a Calvinist, I tell people of the free gift of the Gospel because it is the way that God draws people into the kingdom of God.

    Besides…the Gospel is good news. I tell people the good news I know.

    The bottom line seems to be that man is incapable of responding, but God in mercy has turned rebels into men and women who love Him and seek Him and His kingdom. I have nothing to boast in, save the cross.

  28. Tom says:

    David,

    To be sure, a rule of hermeneutics, is to interpret unclear passages by clear passages. The question is, what is unclear about what Paul said? Of course, Catholics believe that man can only seek after God by grace. It was St. Augustine, the Doctor of Grace, who spoke of the capax Dei.

  29. David says:

    He wasn’t addressing the nature of faith or regeneration, for starters.

    The difference is that if one takes Paul on Mars Hill in conjunction with his writings to the Roman and Ephesian church, the idea that he believed in a prevenient grace makes his arguments neuter and incomprehensible.

  30. David Naugle says:

    What is needed is an emphasis on a reformed world view among s. Baptists. Kuyper rather than Piper.

  31. john says:

    Ahh but David, your assertion is based on the assumption that the “Reformed” intepretations of Romans 1-3 and Ephesians 2 are correct, but they aren`t. In the case of the former, Calvinists are guilty of taking general statements from the Pslamist`s lament as absolute while ignoring the obvious hyperbole. They also read far more into the “dead metaphor” of Ephesians than the author ever intended. I simply haven`t the time for internet disputes these days, but those interested in exploring these exegetical issues from the Arminian angle can find a wealth of information here:

    http://arminianperspectives.wordpress.com/

  32. john says:

    P.S. It`s the responsibility of those who believe in the infallibility of the bible to reconcile Paul`s speech on Mars Hill from Acts 17, or any other verses for that matter, with any passages they hold dear and believe consistent with their systematic. Simply saying “It couldn`t mean that because Romans 1-3 means this” doesn`t cut it.

  33. Patrick says:

    Although there is little need for another comment on this page or on this subject, I will give a response. The increase of shallowness in my denomination (SBC) in practice and in doctrine will likely lead to its eventual downfall. Many other denominations have already gone the way of Balaam. The brothers who seem most concerned about an emphasis on doctrine and how it should inform our methodology and daily lives come from the Calvinist camp. I was raised SBC in the Arminian tradition, yet not long after my conversion I became suspicious of some exegetical explanations of free-will that I was given to “move on to the next subject.”

    I have only been a fully convinced Calvinist for about 3 years, and it is a process to come to this understanding, since it covers a large area of theology. Men like Charles Spurgeon, John Bunyan, Jonathan Edwards and John Owen have already produced ample proofs based on scripture for this position. More recently men like James R. White, John MacArthur, J. I Packer, and Mark Kielar have taken the “free-will” camp to task as well. Spurgeon was right to say, “A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.”

    Some men are more concerned with winning the point then coming to the knowledge of the truth. There was no Calvinist trying to persuade me of the Doctrines of Grace, the scriptures and diligent study just took me there.

    When the liberalism that has crept into the SBC becomes so pervasive that even basic tenants of our faith, that even Arminians hold to, are abandoned – what will be left? I believe the answer to that is:

    A) Liberals or

    B) Calvinists

    Though the doctrines of grace are not necessary to know for salvation, I do believe they work for our sanctification. Calvinism will not fix everything, but I do believe that Calvinism, Expository Preaching and Biblical church discipline will greatly help to work the leaven out of the loaf and lead to the practice of conservative Christianity, not just the name of it.

    Let us not forget that Southern Baptists originated predominantly by Calvinists, though it is not currently the majority. BUT… Take heed Arminians, the harder you work to move it out of the SBC, the more interest you stir in the Doctrines of Grace. I believe the more they “kick against the goads” the more life you will see in the Calvinist resurgence in the SBC. Praise His glorious grace.

  34. Nick says:

    Both sides have a steady fear that the other will move into the outer fringes of orthodoxy and stoop into heresy. I believe this is true because either side follows the often oversimplified logical steps that naturally flow out of the opposing tradition, and if taken to their logical extreme produces heresy. I believe it’s a healthy fear, but one that needs to be discerned rightly when it comes to judging the brethren. Do not atheists say that we fundamentalists would kill babies if our God told us too? They have a solid logical point because God did order such things to happen, but we know better don’t we? The logic is oversimplified. Honestly I believe that we are both in for a shocker when God straightens us both out in glory. Until then, we shouldn’t be so quick to judge these often lofty matters before the time, and leave a little room for error in that there is a chance that we might be wrong about the particular position we personally hold. Lets save the dogmas for the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

  35. Patrick says:

    Nick’s response is quite interesting. I am not sure that logical, extreme and heresy should fall in the same sentence. Heresy is never logical but it can be extreme. Atheists already kill babies (Abortion). Not sure what that has to do with anything. Logic can be simple and it can be complex. God has a right over his creation to give it life and to take life from it. He owes no man anything, much less an explanation that fits his finite mind.

    I do believe that God will straighten us out on a lot of things in Heaven, yet I do not believe that is any reason to be playfully apathetic towards the work of critical and grammatical exegesis to discern what He has written to us. As long as people take “pas hos pisteo” to be “whosoever” then there will be a Calvinist to call them on that misconstruction. As long as scriptures like John 6 exists, there will always be people who embrace the Doctrines of Grace. Not because it appeals to what my flesh wants, but because it is in the text.

    As far as being mistaken, I would rather have to answer for giving God too much credit in my salvation than to have to answer for giving myself credit for His work in my salvation. Which one would you rather be guilty of? I believe He did it all.

  36. David says:

    Patrick, I agree that we should not be hasty to decide matters of dogma and exclude others based on preference.

    I would, however, like to submit this article into the mix and see what the feedback would be:
    http://www.letterofmarque.us/2010/06/semipelagianism-was-declared-a-heresy-in-529-ad-.html

  37. BrianBel says:

    Patrick,

    “Heresy is never logical but it can be extreme.” Not so. Heresy is often times logical (which is why it’s often difficult to beat back). Arius and his followers had well thought out arguments as well as scriptural backing for their points. So much so that a Church council, the first council of Nicaea, was convenened. Indeed, you can see such in Acts where there is argument over circucision vs. uncircumcision. God bless.

  38. Sandy Creek and the Charleston traditions flow as one with the calling of Richard Furman as pastor. He was a Separate Baptist, and he served Charleston’s FBC from 1787-1824. He was follwoed by Basil Manly, Sr., whos erved for 11 years. Manly was converted and called to the ministry in the Sandy Creek Assn. He was present as a member of the Committee (by virture of serving as clerk of the Assn. at that time) which drew up the Confession of Faith in 1816, a committee chaired by Luther Rice. In 1814 the Mt. Pisgah Church was organized and joined Sandy Creek. Their Articles of Faith know only of Christ dying for the Church, nothing about Him dying for everyone. Also add to the fact that Sandy Creek Assn sent its minutes to the Philadelphia Assn., which were receivedby the latter organiztion, suggesting, at the very least, that the two associations were in agreement on basic doctrines….such as Sovereign Grace.

    What lies in the origins of the SBC is the theology of Sovereign Grace (read TULIP acrotic and the doctrines it represents). This is the theology of the First and Second Great Awakenings and the launching of the Gret Centuryof Missions as well as the founding of a new nation with more freedoms than had ever been known, freedom of religion being the legacy of the Sovereign Grace Baptists in particular in America (though be it noted the General Baptists also advocate the same…there just not as influential in America). Now the theology is coming back, perhaps due to the fact that people are beginning to pray for another Awakening. The Reformed Baptists are a little bit more strait laced, while the warmer preaching of the doctrines of grace come from the more native Sovereign Grace Southern Baptists. We need to institute prayer meetings like they did in England in the 1700s wherein we plead the promises of Jonathan Edwards’ Humble Attempt which inspired William Carey, Andrew Fuller, and others, including, undoubtedly, Luther Rice, Adoniram Judson et. al. in America. The theology and the praying should bode fair for a Third Great Awakening which wins every soul on earth beginning, we hope and pray, with this generation and continuing for at least a total of 1000 genrations and perhaps reaching to thousands and thousands of worlds in order to fulfill God’s good humored remark about the redeemed in Heaven (Rev.7:9)being a number which no one was able to number (God with a sense of humor and Hope).

    1. That’s an excellent contribution. Thanks for it. I was confused by the introduction of the main article (by Wax) because it implied that Sandy Creek Assn was Arminian. He’s apparently assumed that that just because a church is open to revival, that it is Arminian. That’s false.

  39. BRYCE says:

    I’ve just been promoted to Level 162 in #MobsterWorld. Beat me in the game! http://t.co/DL3UwuhH

  40. Paul W. Foltz DD says:

    Being what some call a High Calvinist in the sense of John Gill and William Gasby, I find the above book to be typical of the doctrinal downgrade and comproming position that will lead to the dissolution of the SBC in the next twenty years or so. Tracing back to Sandy Creek, the Doctrines of grace were prominent within the SBC. MEN LIKE JOHN DAGG, BROAUS, FURMAN, PELL AND AT ROBERTSON championed the doctrines of gace in the past, and thank God fo men like D. Mohlerand Boice who do so today, a well as those in the Founders movement.

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Trevin Wax


​Trevin Wax is Bible and Reference Publisher at LifeWay Christian Resources and managing editor of The Gospel Project. You can follow him on Twitter or receive blog posts via email. Click here for Trevin’s full bio.

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