Monday, October 24, 2005

Steve Gaines on Calvinism

We are beginning to feel the arrival of Hurricane Wilma here in Southwest Florida and have been told to expect to loss of electrical power in the next couple of hours. I thought I should go ahead and post this, even though I may not have time to offer many comments.

Last week on the website of Bellevue Baptist Church of Cordova (Memphis) Tennessee, a sermon by new pastor, Dr. Steve Gaines, was posted, entitled "I Believe in Salvation," based on 1 Timothy 2:1-10. The featured sermon on that site evidently changes weekly, so I am not sure if you can still access this sermon from there.

I will give some excerpts from it and try to comment on them briefly as long as electricity remains available.

I got the impression that Dr. Gaines is not overtly hostile toward Calvinism but that he believes it is unbiblical and dangerous and so he needs to warn people against it. Unfortunately, despite quoting from AW Pink's The Sovereignty of God, he perpetuates caricatures of historic Calvinism. As you will see from his comments, these misrepresentations are typical. They are also inexcusable in this day of readily accessible information.

Here are excerpts:

"Today it's very popular to believe that Jesus died only for, and I quote, for the elect, end quote. This is real popular on college campuses and even in some seminaries. This teaching, which I believe is foreign to scripture, comes from a theological view known as Calvinism. It's named for one of the heroes of the Protestant Reformation, John Calvin. Calvin's teachings have been summarized into five major points that I would like you to write down...."

"It can be remembered by the acronym TULIP

T-total depravity; ... man's utterly lost in sin
U-unconditional election, man cannot save himself because GOd has elected him by his grace.
L-limited atonement-Jesus only died for the elect
I-irresistible grace-that if God wants to save somebody they don't have a choice of it, he'll just save them if he wants to, they can't resist it
P-perseverance of the saints-that's another of talking about once saved always saved"

Of course, his brief description of irresistible grace, or effectual calling, is a complete caricature. Do you know anyone who believes what he has described?

"Now I want to say something, I am not a Calvinist. .... I am not a five-point Calvinist. I don't believe that points three and four are in the Bible. I don't believe you can find in the Bible limited atonement. I don't believe you can find in the Bible irresistible grace. I tell you there are people that Jesus wanted to save but they resisted his grace."

"How many of you know that God won't make you do anything? He won't make you do anything. Nothing. I tell you, coerced love is not love."

Will God make people go to hell or stay there? Did He make Adam and Eve leave the Garden?

"No where in Scripture, you will not find one verse in the Bible that says Jesus died exclusively for the elect. So I am not a Calvinist. I am not knocking people who are, but they know themselves that they got the idea of limited atonement from their own logical thinking, they didn't get it out of the Bible.... That doesn't mean that Calvinists are all bad; that doesn't mean that we don't like them and that they're the enemy. Its just that we disagree with them on this point."

"This teaching is pervasive on college campuses in our day.... It is absolutely taking college campuses by storm."

Then he quotes AW Pink: "'Many have affirmed that a merely conditional provision of salvation has been made by his death.' I believe that. I believe that it's conditional."

Dr. Gaines here affirms--rather boldlly--that he believes in a conditional atonement. Jesus did not actually accomplish anyone's salvation but rather accomplished the possibility of everyone's salvation. This is an Arminian view.

"This [limited atonement] is an unbiblical teaching and I don't believe it."

"What does the Bible say, John 1:29, 2 Corinthians 5:15; Hebrews 2:9; A Calvinist cannot give you one verse that says Jesus died [only for the elect]."

"I was talking to a Calvinist one time and he said, "Well, you are a universalist." I said, "No I'm not. I believe Jesus even died for the people who go to hell." He didn't know what to say."

"Get your theology from the Bible..."

Well, amen to this!

Maybe I can comment on this more in days ahead. The electricity is flickering here, so I am out for now!


Julia Elvarado said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Jeremy Weaver said...

"but they know themselves that they got the idea of limited atonement from their own logical thinking"

I'm sorry logic is not allowed. How can we come to any conclusion about the theology of the Bible if we can't use logic?

Scott said...


I just called Dr.Steve Gaines church and will be emailing him first to see if he would allow me to send him material explaining verses and chapters on the doctrines of grace. Also, I want to see if he will engage in a phone conversation. Remember we must confront these guys in an Christ honoring way. Attention Bloggers: Lets spend our time actually trying to contact these men rather than just talking about how we want to see changes in theology and practice.As I have said before if the SBC is going to change then we must speak up to these men. Can Founders mail Dr. Gaines a copy of Dr. Tom Nettles book " By His Grace and For His Glory.It's time these men see the number of us Calvinist in the SBC and see that we will stand for truth and try to hold them accountable for what they teach. Let them see boldness but love for them because we care about their life.

David & Rose Ann said...

First, Prestonwood and FBC Daytona Beach (newsletter),and now, Bellevue. There is now evidence that a mandate went out from Nashville or elsewhere that all 'majors' begin naming Calvinism as the reason attendance and members/baptisms are down-trending.

How I wish Mohler or Nettles or Dever would lob a 1984 Apple Macintosh hammerstroke into the screen.

RefBaptDude said...


I do not think you can hold accountable key SBC leaders in any substantial way concerning their misinformed remarks about the doctrines of grace. In the past months we have all heard or read these leaders clearly deny or contradict articles of the Baptist Faith and Message but the problem is that the Southern Baptist Convention is not confessional.

Chip said...

It continues to amaze me that Arminians claim the doctrines of grace aren't in Scripture. When I first was confronted with Calvinism I resisted the notion tooth and nail. I went to Scripture for the purpose of "defending" what I thought to be the gospel (Arminianism). I did not approach the matter with an open mind but rather went to the Word in search of proof texts to support my conclusion.

It was ONLY the Word of God that changed my mind on the matter. As I studied I was confronted time and time again with Calvinism right there in Scripture. If Calvinism had not been overwhelmingly present in Scripture I'd still be an Arminian.

I am constantly reminded of the words of R.C. Sproul in his book "Chosen by God." He says (and I'm paraphrasing) "As a Christian I am obligated to believe what the Bible actually says, not what I want the Bible to say."

When first confronted with the issue I certainly did not WANT the Bible to support Calvinism. But it does.

Scott said...


Thanks for your response! I have served at three of the largest mega churches in the SBC on the Pastoral Staff. This is not to brag because I'm ashamed at the stuff our staff taught and practiced. I know alot of these men very well! These men and myself have had many lunches and dinners together. I have heard the conversations and plans for the direction of the SBC. Certain men are trying currently to get medium and smaller churches that look up to the "Big Boys" to start blasting "Calvinism" in the pulpits. They have a plan just like they did with the conservative resurgence. That's why we must call, email, and most importantly try to meet with them. My earlier blog was meant for SBC "Calvinist" to start being more direct with these men instead of dreaming about how we wish things were different. You have to"hit" these men straight on just like the scriptures teach. The scriptures also teach to turn away from these men as well.As far as holding them accountable in any significant way, this is the way to start going about it.We need to start having mtgs maybe at the Founders conferences on developing a scriptural plan for how we can start using our numbers(people) to speak up as they do.Trust me when I say I know these men very well!

RefBaptDude said...


I wonder if Founders Ministries has considered sending a special edition of the Founder’s Journal to every SBC pastor like was done in 1995 with the special SBC sesquicentennial issue? I think this could have very positive effects especially if it not only exposed them historic Baptist doctrine but also modern writers like Piper, Sproul, MacArthur, Nettles, etc

Grace to you,

Scott said...


That would be great! I hope I didn't come across harsh to your response. It's time to make real noise in the convention. The "Big Boys" don't want that. Things if possible need to be brought to the convention floor. Also, it would be helpful to write or email Dr. Mohler and let him know just how many of us are out there so he can feel the support. God alone is enough but we all need support from each other. My friends: It's time to really back Founders and really start to meet and plan. Dr. Roy Hargrave( Pastor Riverbend Community Church Ormond Beach, Fla)is one to call as well. He is ready to lead the way. Roy pastors the largest SBC calvinistic church. I know the " Big Boys" can't stand that Riverbend is growing and reaching people for Christ. They have a strong Pastoral staff and a very committed church to the doctrines of grace. Riverbend's website is Let's contact Nettles, Ascol and the Founders board and really let them know that we are ready to be aggressive.

D.R. said...

A few thoughts
1. I wonder if Steve Gaines will be confronted by his friend Voddie Bachaum. I doubt very seriously that Voddie would ever have "nothing to say" when confronted by any argument against Calvinism.
2. I think contacting these pastors is a good idea, but I am doubtful that they will want to truly dialogue about it -- most are very set in their ways and don't know how to be taught or corrected.
3. I think Calvinists have lost an ally in Mohler. Many students at Southern were saddened by the response (or lack thereof) of Dr. Mohler to the gross negligence of Jack Graham. I think Mohler feels that he needs to lay low in order to continue the progress of Southern for the greater good of the convention. I think he doesn't want to be divisive. The problem is that division is exactly what is going to happen if these men are left unchecked by those they respect and actually will listen to (not to mention be taken to task by).
4. To sparrowhawk, this is actually nothing new for Bellevue, even from the pulpit. Adrian Rogers preached a very bad sermon series on Calvinism and wrote an even worse brochure "Predestined to Hell: Absolutely Not!" If you haven't read it, it is seriously problematic (it's enough that he tries to defeat Calvinism with a 4 page booklet. I mean, Come on! It took Vance what 800 pages to make a bad argument against it?).

A&WTozer said...

Why look to Mohler, Nettles, Ascol, etc. for support or to give support.... Founders guys know that Founders guys support each other. What we really need to do is think locally each and every day. Rather than thinking that we need to silence the critic 4 states away, how about if every Founders pastor (myself included) worked God-glorifying gospel and all the other Reformed implications out in our own church. C'mon guys, remember our ecclesiology. So what if Mohler is not the big bully for us against Arminians? How many of our own congregation would even know Mohler if they saw him on the street? We need to be the men of God in our own churches, be known as the most evangelistic (albeit with a different way of defining some key terms), and work reformation & revival in our own house.

Are we hoping that the "big guns" do work for us that we are too afraid/lazy to do ourselves?

Scott said...


Your statement about Dr.Mohler may be true. I hope not! Just because God has given him an incredible mind and great speaking ability dosn't mean he is using it as he should. There is too much I know about Mohler for me to believe he is going to really speak up.Pay close attention to see the men he brings in to speak to the students at Southern. Alot of them he brags on that have churches that don't line up with the abstract of principles which he( Dr. Mohler) has agreed to abide by . He has had many men that you and I would totally agree with. Just a commen sense thought: Why has Mohler greatly distanced himself from Founders ? Think about it. Yes, even a calvinist must guard himself from worrying about what man thinks.Mohler has actually told me to my face that " One shouldn't wear calvinism on his sleeve". We really need to pray for him. Since when did the Good of the Convention take the place of the glory of God! I'm with you d.r. One last thought It's amazing to hear him speak at MacAruthur's Shepherd Conference and RC Sprouls Conference because he sounds so strongly calvinistic but when it comes to the SBC ....?

Scott said...


I'm sure alot of us are doing what you have challenged and are thinking locally. Also, I'm sure you also would love to see our convention change so you have a heart to see it come about. My stock does not rest in even good calvinistic men but God.However, as you said we all need to take care of our own churches and speak up ourselves. Remember a president of a seminary does influence his students at times. Good and Bad.

A&WTozer said...

In 1994 I asked Mohler if he would be at the summer's Founder's Conference. He said, "I love the Founder's guys and consider them, Tom Ascol, Nettles, Dr. George, all as some of my closest friends. But my agenda is a lot broader than the Founder's agenda. I am seeking to restore some sanity within Evangelicalism in regards to fundamental issues of truth."

That was before he hired Nettl's es. That was before he chaired the Louisville Billy Graham crusade. That was before he spoke at Founder's National Conference.

My point? He knows our agenda. He has his own. They are not the same.

Look to the ministries of Dever and C.J. Mahaney if you want to see the "Calvinism" Mohler likes - vibrant, energetic, evangelistic, culturally-relevant, and not stuck in the 19th century in methods and emotional attraction.

A&WTozer said...

I agree with what you say: "Remember a president of a seminary does influence his students at times. Good and Bad."
And that is precisely why I think that Mohler does not inflame the passions of Calvinists. He know the accuracy of the caricature of "wild and crazy young Calvinists" who, as James White says, "ought to be locked up until they aren't so dangerous".

Mohler has a deep admiration for David Miller, who was on the board that brought him to SBTS. He has the great quote when speaking to us Founder's guys... "I'm a Calvinist, I'm just not mad about it." and another quote, "Why is it that we who so strongly believe in the doctrines of grace are some of the least gracious people?" You won't find a church that closes its' door to the preaching ministry of David Miller, even though he has never shied from stating his positions on the doctrines of grace. That is being "winsome"....a character trait he has openly praised in C.J. and Dever.

I think he wants to see that in his seminary boys.

Tom said...


You said:

"Look to the ministries of Dever and C.J. Mahaney if you want to see the "Calvinism" Mohler likes - vibrant, energetic, evangelistic, culturally-relevant, and not stuck in the 19th century in methods and emotional attraction."

I assume that you are contrasting the ministries of Dever and Mahaney to Founders in terms of vibrancy, energy and evangelism and that you charge Founders with being stuck in the 19th century.

Without disagreeing with your assessment of the two ministries you cite (I love them both!) I take strong exception to your depiction of Founders Ministries. Would you care to make a case for your accusation? I will be very interested in reading what you have to say.

Scott said...


I'm a huge fan of Dr. Roy Hargrave( Pastor Riverbend Community Church Ormond Beach Fla). That church is doctrinally sound as any and very evangelistic. I was on the Pastoral staff and now I Pastor a church in Atlanta. I know for a fact that Mohler thinks Riverbend is too loud about calvinism. It's the largest calvinistic church in the SBC and he won't have anything to do with Riverbend. Mohler does have a different agenda. You are right about that! If you are agressive about the doctrines of grace he will distant himself from you unless you are Mark Dever. If you speak up against the Arminian churches in the SBC then he will distant himself from you. My point is that you would think he would love to tell the "Big Boys" about Riverbend as a model to look at. His agenda won't work! He needs to rethink his agenda.

A&WTozer said...

No, No, a thousand times no!!!
I was trying to shed some light on Mohler, lest the bandwagon against him get rolling too fast.

I am and will always be a Founder's guy.

I asked Mohler about 10 months ago, "Do you think current SBTS students love the rich tradition of Princeton/Boyce here at SBTS?" He replied, "I hope so, but I hope they can also move past the 19th century, keeping those beliefs with them."

DOGpreacher said...

This should not have surprised us (and definitely not you, Tom!) about Steve Gaines at all. He was approved of (for the pastorate) by Adrian Rogers...nuff said.

I have been doing what 'A&WTozer' said with my own congregation (it is wonderful to see them understanding these doctrines)...
...while at the same time meeting (or, trying to)with other pastors in our county to talk about the 'Doctrines of Grace'. In this small east Texas "area" (3 counties), there are 8 Baptist pastors (5 SBC) who are teaching these doctrine.

In my county, I have had meetings with one of the larger Churches pastor. I have also talked with several other pastors over the past year.


I have been told (politely, most of the time), "I just don't believe that, and I won't look at it!"
I have sat with others who could not refute what I was showing them....and yet, said, "I can't believe that!"
I have even sat with one who said, "Yeah...I see that, but, I can't preach it!"

You can NOT serve God & mammon!

When a man cannot resist the overwhelming scriptural evidence for these doctrines, and he is overwhelmed by a 'gratefulness for grace', He WILL preach these truths.
The "others" will not preach them for one of two reasons:
(1) Ignorance of them.
(2) Love of money.


One group needs us to teach them (speaking the truth in love), and remove ignorance as an excuse...

The other needs us to rebuke, reprove, and hold them accountable for "loving the purse (that's what Judas did) more than the Lord".

Do they need teaching, or chastisement ?

Scott said...


Your comment that Mohler likes Dever and Mahnney because of their winsome approach.The scripture is clear and easy to understand how to approach error. Being winsome means putting off things until "You" think the timing is right. I'm sure glad Paul didn't dance around(winsome) with Peter and the others in Galatians concerning the gospel.I'm grateful that Ascol, Nettles, and other Founder board members don't try to be winsome. Mohler's approach is just like the "Lifestyle evangelism" approach. Maybe if I just let people see Jesus in me that will make them come out of their dead condition and ask me how to be saved. No, we go to people and open our mouths and preach the gospel and say"Repent" believe the gospel of Christ. My pont is that too many arminians seem so comfortable around Mohler. I'm not saying that he needs to be ugly to them but " Speak Up"! I have been on staff at three of the largest mega churches in the SBC and I seen the gross error.Mohler runs alot with these guys. Some will say that he is trying to be winsome.I have heard these men say " Mohler is not like you Founder guys" in otherwords he dosn't confront us like you guys do!

Scott said...


My wife just lectured me about my spelling and grammer in my blogs. Sorry1 I get in a hurry. No excuse. My wife is an english major and as you can see that I'm not.My friends say that Auburn fans can't help it.

Tom said...


Thanks for clarifying. One of the charges that I have heard repeatedly from a few folks who share our theology but want to distance themselves from us politically is that Founders is stuck in the 19th century. It is a red herring and has been used as a justification to dismiss men and ministries as irrelevant.

On the one hand, it matters very little to me what such persons think of me personally or Founders officially. On the other, I am no longer willing to sit back and let good men and churches whose lives and ministries I know well be misrepresented because of political expediency. On more than one occasion I have been encouraged not to take offense at such political machinations because they were being done "for the sake of the cause."

For the last few years my response has been, "Whose cause?" The only cause I am interested in is the cause of Jesus Christ and His Gospel. If my pursuit of that cause does not fit someone else's political agenda then so be it. Furthermore, if some supposedly great "cause" is being advocated at the expense of the honesty and integrity that are inherent in the Gospel of Christ, count me out. I want no part of it.

A&WTozer said...

Good points being made all around... but I still think, and probably will get little disagreement, that if Mohler the Calvinist had gone into SBTS as a Calvinist fighting for Calvinism, he would not have gotten there in the first place. He went in as Carl Henry, Jr., and God was pleased to work "the impossible". How many of you who are under the age of 30 have benefited wonderously from the ministry of Al Mohler at SBTS? Aren't you glad that he didn't remain as the editor of the Baptist state paper in Georgia? Who among us Founders would have been able, if we were of age at the time, to have been entrusted (in every sense of the word) with the stewardship of SBTS in its' pre-1993 condition? Not me.

Tom said...


I agree with you. I praise God for Al Mohler and what, under God, he has done at Southern Seminary. It is an amazing story. Anyone who is committed to the authority of Scripture and loves the Gospel of Jesus Christ should be very grateful for the ministry of Dr. Mohler at Southern. I do not know anyone else who could have done what he has done. Our family and church have prayed for him weekly for over ten years.

Sometimes I think those committed to reformation expect too much from denominational institutions and agencies and, consequently, those who lead them. As you suggested previously, the real work is in local churches. That is where Founders has focused its efforts for the 23 years of our existence. We need to see local churches recover the Gospel and spiritually re-formed according to the Word of God.

A&WTozer said...

Amen. And that is why I have always been proud to say that I am a Founders guy.

Reisinger, Ascol(s), Nettles, Whitney, Belcher,(Chantry & MacArthur & Lloyd-Jones too)... all pointing us to be faithful and energetic pastors in our local context - week in and week out. If I lived within an hour of Gaines, sure I would talk to him. If I was a national Founder's leader, sure I would talk to him. But I'm just a small fry pastor who actually needs to talk to the small fry pastor down the road from me. I've earned the right to talk to him, but not Gaines.

Scott said...


Yes, God has done great things at Southern. Al was part of the means to the turnaround. I think were all missing some obvious points. A friend of mine had to point them out to me several times before I saw them.

1. Dr. Mohler is not a member of a Calvinistic SBC Church. He is a member at Highview. A church that does not line up throughly with what Southern Seminary embraces in doctrine. Why is this?

2. I'm told often he goes after calvinistic students at Southern. Tells them to quiet down. Why would he do this knowing the condition of most SBC churches. You would think he would be saying " Go you Spurgeons, Daggs, Boyces, and yes Gill"). Do what Pastors are supposed to be doing and protecting their people from error.

3. Why is he not bringing the Founders board to Southern to help with teaching the students to return to what we used to be as a convention. Yet, he brings Johnny Hunt up to lead the students on How to grow and lead your church. Johnny Hunt is one of the biggest anticalvinistic pastors that we have in the SBC. I served on his staff and I know. Plus, some of his closest friends are men who are leading churches that do the very opposite of what he says he is trying to teach at Southern.

4. Founders is promoting the very thing Al preaches about at Calvinistic conferences. So why would you not draw very close to Founders?

5. Why would he not tell the students publicly in chapel not to follow certain men like Hunt, Rogers, Vines, and the list goes on. However, he actually praises them like you have never heard before they speak in chapel. You say he praises the calvinist as well. Then which gospel is right?

6. Who gave Al Mohler the right to determine how he will push for change in the SBC? Paul told us how to do it and that's the way Founders has been trying to do it. Yes, I believe Al is unscriptural in doing it his own way by being winsome.

7. Last, what theology is most represented in SBC pulpits? Semi palagian/Arminian. How did it get their? Again, you would think he would be calling on Founders to help and stop the " Culture Crap" on his radio broadcast and spend time running with men who want to help .

GeneMBridges said...


You wrote, " In the past months we have all heard or read these leaders clearly deny or contradict articles of the Baptist Faith and Message but the problem is that the Southern Baptist Convention is not confessional."

Well, actually that's not quite true. At the local church level, you are correct, we are not confessional. However, at the denominational level it is very true.

In order to work as a denominational employee, seminary president, seminary professor, or home or foreign missionary, an individual must publicly affirm the BFM 2000, usually by signing it. Paige Patterson has, as a matter of fact, signed it twice, a fact which I find most interesting. Ironically, Adrian Rogers has declared in his responses to the objections to the new BFM that the doctrines it articulates are "definitional." The preamble says they are "essential." Remember, Rogers was also the head of the committee that wrote it. One truly wonders how one so opposed to the doctrines of grace can look at men with a straight face and declare regeneration is the result of faith when the very document to which his name is attached as committee chair, which, by his own words, contains "essential" and "definitional" doctrines declares exactly the opposite. Oh what a tangled web these men have woven.

I wonder what would happen in Greensboro if one of us stood on the Convention floor and made note of that fact then asked, before the vote for SBC President was cast, "Does the candidate affirm or disaffirm the Baptist Faith and Message 2000, and if so, does he affirm or disaffirm Article Four, which states regeneration precedes faith and repentance at conversion and is not a result of it?"

GeneMBridges said...

I would also say this. If these men are, indeed, actively campaigning against Calvinism, then this will not go well for them. They have chosen to fight against their own confession of faith, deceive their own people, and, most importantly God's Word. They are taking the position of the Sanhedrin. I wonder if a Gamaliel among them has noted the parallel. If these doctrines are of God, they will not be able to stop them, and, to be quite honest, I must agree. I've said it once, I'll say it again, they brought this upon themselves when they made inerrancy an issue. They found the Scriptures, and, just as happened in Josiah's day, then with the explanation of the Scriptures in the first century, then again at the inception of the Reformation, the doctrines of grace and discipleship are being proclaimed and believed again.

This is not confined to the SBC. At at least where I am, I see God working toward what one of our local PCA T.E.'s calls, "a third reformation" and I am encouraged by this. I have some friends in the Bible colleges here and they have told me that these doctrines are being rediscovered there as well, and that men are saying in class, "How can we teach the people this, they won't be happy?" There's a lot that could be said about that, but at least they see these truths, and they have been cut to the conscience to even ask such a question.

Have you also noticed that one common theme of these men's sermons? Besides the constant stereotyping and shallow responses, they all allude to "certain colleges and seminaries." They are terribly afraid of Calvinism in the seminaries. Gentlemen, I was at SEBTS when Dr. Drummond was there, just before Dr. Patterson came, and I remember what it was like then. The seminaries were a battleground, because liberalism crept into the Convention via the seminaries.

These men know that, and I'm sure they have Southern in mind, because, if you will recall, SEBTS and SBTS were the two seminaries that were the "most" liberal in those days. SEBTS has several Calvinist folks on its faculty. Knowing this, they are quite concerned, because, in their minds, they see the seminaries that passed on liberalism to the Convention as being the source of another "aberration," which, of course, is no aberration at all.

You have to remember, guys, that these men are largely following the modern "church growth" movement and corporate methods in the growth of their own churches and their governance of the Convention. Thus, it makes sense, they would apply similar models in addressing this issue.

If I was to think like them:

I believe, as I hear them constantly say this, that they are after the seminaries, folks. Using their mindset (for like Scott, I have either used to run with or watched these men for many years myself), if you want to reform the Convention, the seminaries are the place to begin.

You, as a teaching elder or churchaman can only do so much at the local church level, and that depends ultimately on an educated pastoral staff. There are, if we go by the Founders Directory, only so many of us available, so we're spread thinly. Assuming a zero attrition rate, each seminary graduate that pastors a church or plants a church in the Convention adds to our number. I submit they are thinking that, if you can cut the numbers of Calvinists turned out by the seminaries, you can, in theory stop the spread of Calvinism.. If you can't, those pastors and missionaries will teach their people and "turn them." I suspect they will start making Calvinism an informal litmus test for appointment to the seminary boards, if they use the same methods they did in those days, which, from what I can tell, seems to be the case so far.

Of course, it must really gall them that the BFM Article 4 contradicts them. That's why I say this is our best defense within the Convention. When they bring this up, if you know they voted for the BFM personally (or if their church did so), then we can always point that out. In response, they could attempt to change it to reflect their doctrine. However, I'm not so sure that would be a good idea, because it would draw greater attention to this issue and raise too many questions among the general membership, which, I suspect, is a situation they would rather avoid, since they are not responsive to our responses in writing or webcast, etc., and, if James White is any measure, they refuse to defend their doctrines in public discourse, probably because they know they would be on the losing end or for fear of exposing their people to doctrines they consider an error.

Either way, if they sought to change Article 4 the people would ask, "Why are we changing Article 4 only x years after passing the BFM?" will be the question asked, and it would be difficult for them to explain a change to one particular line to all the members, much less explain how it got past Dr. Rogers approval the first time around. They can't dismiss any seminary professors right now for not conforming to the BFM, particularly on inerrancy. That must reeaaaallllly concern them.

One of the problems with Founders, to be quite honest, is that a lot of Reformed pastors and individuals within the Convention are not on the directory on the website itself. It would be helpful if we did a better job of networking with each other in a centralized fashion, if only to encourage and help one another at the local level. For example, I know there has to be more than 1 Calvinist pastoring a church in city of residence; however that one that I know, who also, from what I understand, used to teach theology at SWBTS, is not listed on the website, whereas I am listed along with 4 other households. That's it, yet I know of several others of us in the area, though only a handful of pastors (literally I could count us one hand, 2 if you add the PCA guys), only 2 of which are SBC (and one of them is in the neighboring city, not my own). I know of a great many Reformed Baptist folks in churches here that would like to find a church to attend that is stable. The one Reformed Baptist church here is a new plant and simply not stable, meeting at a hotel on Sunday morning, a disused church on Sunday night, and persons homes on Wednesday nights. The other choices are two churches in the next county or the church with my friend who used to teach at SWBTS.

The point I'm making is simply this: It would be more helpful if we were more organized and knew who we are and where we are located.

For folks moving to our areas and looking for churches, they would like to be able to find a church with, at a minimum, a Reformed pastor. For that matter, there are some of us in established churches that, as this issue becomes more and more an issue either in the church (because of what God Himself seems to be doing at that level) and in the Convention as a whole, would gladly move into a church where they weren't constantly enduring these attacks, if they could find one. It's one thing to seek to teach; it's another to be made an alien by your own brothers and sisters in their midst.

Those of us in churches that are, for lack of a better classification, in the midst of reformation, with the people just awakening, could use some help from that same population. Adding new folks who are grounded in Scripture and doctrine is always a big plus, because often, after we've done preaching and teaching, they keep the conversation going and set an example.

Network! Network! Network! We need to add to the directory, if not now, in Greensboro in 2006. I plan to be there, since Greensboro is in my backyard, almost literally, even if I'm not a messenger. I also respectfully suggest we have an informal meeting to talk about these attacks and how to best deal with them as a group.

We'd all love for the SBC to reform. Personally, I would just like it to be consistent with its confession, especially given the way it handles denominational employees. Either they affirm the BFM or they do not. Not everybody is going to become a Calvinist. I get that. Really, I do. At the same time, we have to draw the line and say, "This far, and no further!" to this attempt to basically drive us out the way they drove out the moderates. That's what's going on here. This is how they did when that issue began, and now they are trying it again. Of course, the problem is that they are the ones preaching against Scripture and they are the ones out of step with both our history and our "essential" and "definitional" confession, but, as history has shown us in the SBC, confessions can be changed, even if the Scripture cannot.

A&WTozer said...

You gave us 7 questions to answer. Here goes.

1. Pray tell, what SBC church was Dr. Mohler supposed to go to in 1993 when he moved to Louisville. Make sure you know your history & chronology of Louisville SBC churches before you answer. A lot has happened in 12 years.

2. You say, "I'm told often he goes after calvinistic students at Southern. Tells them to quiet down." Ok Scott, first of all this is tantamount to hearsay/gossip/slander in that it seems to be 2nd hand at best (perhaps more, but you have not been specific). Second, most students should feel fortunate to have personal interaction with the man, and if he came to me with some constructive criticism, even that which you gave...I would take it to heart. Dr. Akin used to say, "Don't come to Southern looking to argue for your theological positions. Come to Southern to learn from men we have entrusted to teach you." Perhaps humility in a 22-25 year old seminary student is the lesson that needs to be learned from those Mohler has "gone after".

3. You say, "Why is he not bringing the Founders board to Southern". You mean Founders guys like Tom Nettles? Or Don Whitney? Or Jim Orrick? Do you know where I met Ascol? At SBTS in Nettles' class.

4. Hmmm... I don't know how to answer this except... it certainly seems his plate is extremely full with incredibly awesome opportunities/responsibilites... do you know for a fact that he sends hate mail to Founders or something??? What does this "draw close to Founders" mean???

5. You say, "Why would he not tell the students publicly in chapel not to follow certain men like Hunt, Rogers, Vines" Ouch!!! That is certainly not "winsome". Are you joking??? Why would he? Ok, I never have had a lot to say for Hunt, but Rogers and Vines? Calvinists they are not, but John MacArthur and Vines are real thick. Why can't Mohler be as well? I praise God for Rogers' ministry (even though there are a couple dozen sermons I wish he had NOT preached), and for his influence in the conservative resurgance. Humanly speaking, who else would have led the way in '79? Please, don't bite the hand that has fed you - even if you are ignorant of how you have been fed. How can you post "Why would he not tell the students publicly in chapel..."? Do you think that is what you would do if you were dropped into Mohler's office of Presidency tomorrow?

You say, "Then which gospel is right?" Now, we have the full-disclosure of your thougths: An Arminian pastor like Rogers & Vines is preaching a false gospel worthy of anathema!!! Hey, I certainly understand the difference between synergism and monergism, but I for one am not prepared to say that the pulpits of these men preach a false gospel.

6. You say, "Who gave Al Mohler the right to determine how he will push for change in the SBC? Paul told us how to do it" ??Paul told us how to push for change in the SBC? Paul told us how to push for change in a denominational bureaucracy? Paul told us how to push for change in a seminary? Where are these texts? You must be referring to the texts dealing with Paul's admonition to the churches. Hmmm. I could write a thesis on how Mohler HAS followed Pauline instruction (including the "winsome"/"seasoned with salt" part) in regards to Christian leadership.

7. You write: "and stop the
"Culture Crap" on his radio broadcast and spend time running with men who want to help." Um, regarding that being "winsome" stuff... could I have permission to use your #7 as an example of not being winsome? You probably would say that you are just speaking plainly, but I would ask you if you would want to "spend time running with men" who publicly state that a large portion of your public ministry can be characterized as "crap" as you have just done with Mohler's radio show.

Ok, so I wrote a book. You asked 7 questions, and I gave a stab at answering them.

Puritan Fan said...

Speaking from the perspective of someone who has not always been reformed, I confess that irresistible grace gave me much grief. Surely, I have the (God given) ability to resist. I found James Montgomery Boice to be particularly helpful in his comments on the words irresistible grace:

"Nor do they mean that grace is never resisted by us. Obviously it is. What they mean is that we do not resist effectively. Or, to put it the other way around, they mean that when God calls us to faith in Jesus Christ he calls effectively, succeeding in his purpose to save us. The grace of god's calling is overwhelmingly efficacious."

Mr. Gaines, like many other Godly men, seems to have some difficulty with limited atonement. But it appears as well that he readily admits the limited nature of the atonement's effectiveness. I've only found two basic camps on the issue; those who limit the effectiveness of the atonement to those whom God has efficaciously called and those who limit the effectiveness of the atonement to those who freely choose God. I suppose Mr. Gaines is in the latter camp.

John Murray wrote an excellent work with plenty of scriptural references on the subject of redempion (Redemption Accomplished anf Applied). Perhaps someone will drop Mr. Gaines a copy as a gift.

Matt said...

I for one greatly admire Dr. Mohler and have learned much from him. I fall into the "under 30 crowd" that A&W spoke of and for me he has been a source of great encouragement. I, like many, was completely ignorant of the doctrines of grace until a few years ago and upon being introduced was, again like many, highly opposed. After several months of sleepless nights ( wife thought I was nuts) trying to reconcile what I believed to be true with what the Scriptures were teaching me I realized where the problem was...what I believed. I could go on and on but my story of God's opening my eyes to His Sovereign Grace is similar to so many others.

Just a couple of comments from someone who admitedly still has so much to learn:

Men like Mohler and MacArthur (who also from what I can tell is not overly aggresive about Calvinism in fact from the interview I heard with Him and Phil Johnson he won't even take the label) have been extremely instrumental in my coming to a better understanding of the gospel of grace and I am again deeply grateful for their ministries.

Secondly, I am one who finds myself on staff in a church where I am the only one on staff who holds to these dear doctrines. Before coming on staff I sat in the pew more than once and heard negative statements about and misrepresentations of Calvinism. I was very upfront and honest with my Pastor before "coming on board" about where I stood on these issues and the attitude I got was that he thought I would eventually come around but by the grace of God it seems exactly the opposite is slowly taking place. It would be stretching the truth to say the least if I were to say that he has embraced God's sovereignty in salvation but here are just a few promising things I see happening:

I preach every Wednesday to a group of about 25 students and I had lunch with one the other day who said he had been looking into Calvinism and wanted to know my thoughts...needless to say he got them and I had the opportunity to point him in the direction of some good material.

I preached a series of messages looking at core doctrine in which I addressed regeneration and had the opportunity to clear up some misconceptions in the order in which it takes place.

I have had several meaningful discussions about these doctrines with other members in the church but in such a way that I do not use the "watch words" that would send up red flags.

I do not compromise what I believe...but neither do I preach it so loudly that I destroy what opportunity is set before me to graciously discuss these truths when circumstances allow.

I guess what I am saying is this: I may not be doing much in the way of reforming the denomination as a whole, because at this point I am not in a position to, but I firmly believe that I am being faithful to the ministry that God has called me to at this point in my life. Maybe on a much much larger scale, that is what Dr. Mohler is doing. Although I am not aware of all the circumstances surrounding his coming into the positon I would have to agree with whoever it was who said (in so many words)he doubted Dr. Mohler would have gotten there being a raving Calvinist.

Take what you want and feel free to correct me where you see I am wrong.

By the way A&W, James White specifically told me once that I was in the "cage stage". :)

A&WTozer said...

Good words, especially drawing the methodological connection between MacArthur and Mohler. They have a sweet friendship. They have both strengthened and mentored me through their ministries.

A long time ago (1995?), some buddies and I shuttled MacArthur a couple of hours away to an airport, and I mentioned Mohler's Calvinism, and he said, "Dr. Mohler from Southern Seminary is Reformed? Hmmm, I didn't know that - that is great to hear - I haven't met him yet." [telling this true story is 14.5 minutes of my 15 minutes of fame] MacArthur had been speaking at an SBC associational Bible conference alongside Paige Patterson and David Miller.

David & Rose Ann said...

I just went into shock on learning GeneMBridges' age. Such level of wisdom and insight simply cannot come out of a 36-year old. Can it? Praise God it does.

If a Reformed Baptist church existed within ten miles of my house, my family and I would join. Perhaps it's only a matter of networking! networking! as Gene has urged.

Jared Moore said...

Gene Bridges,
What do you believe article 4 of the BF&M states?

I'm not a five nor four pointer, so I no doubt would be labeled an Armenian, though I would still be labeled a Calvinist by the five point Armenian.

I do believe that both sides are many times wrongly represented. That each side is sometimes viewed and portrayed as ignorant... and, I hope that we both know this is not always the case.

I am founders friendly. I don't see you guys as a threat... for you believe 100% man's responsibility and 100% God's Sovereignty... you aren't hyper Calvinists... I see pragmatism as a greater threat than Calvin's Calvinism... though I somewhat fear Gill's.

I even took my youth group to the Founders youth summer camp this past summer due to pragmatism being the norm at Lifeway's camps.
-The preachers would preach almost exactly the same as I would with the text that was given.

-Please don't group all of us "Armenians" in the same boat, for I too am fighting this pragmatic, culturally-isogetic view of the church.

GeneMBridges said...

Jared, the BFM is very clear on the Ordu Salutis:

Regeneration, or the new birth, is a work of God’s grace whereby believers become new creatures in Christ Jesus. It is a change of heart wrought by the Holy Spirit through conviction of sin, to which the sinner responds in repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Article IV, A.

Those two words are pivotal words. They clearly state that regeneration enables, e.g. leads to, repentance and faith. However, Jack Graham, Rogers, Hunt, Patterson, etc. teach directly contrary to the BFM by teaching repentance and faith causes or comes before regeneration. This is monergism, not synergism, and, if you accept monergism, the rest of these doctrines follow inevitably. Monergism is posited due to man's inability. Because God is the "mon" in "monergism" one cannot be a monergist without unconditional election. At a minimum, the first two points against which they rail are established by this one Article of the new BFM. Even my Lutheran friends see this much. I would say that, points 4 and 5 follow logically as well, because faith is thus the gift of God arising from monergistic regeneration and therefore one will persevere in faith as a result. Point 3, limited atonement, to me, is a doctrine that one can even hold if one believes election is based on foreseen faith, because of what the reasoning behind particular atonement actually entails about the effectual nature of the cross, thus Article 4 doesn't necessary lead to it.

In Jack Graham's sermon we saw here awhile back, he calls it "backwards" and "illogical." What he called "backwards" and "illogical" and what Dr. Rogers has himself described with nearly exact words, the Preamble states is:

We are not embarrassed to state before the world that these are doctrines we hold precious and as essential to the Baptist tradition of faith and practice.


in the Committee Response to Comments, Dr. Rogers said,

In adopting our report, Southern Baptists will not be saying everything we would wish to say about every doctrine of the faith. But we will state boldly that these are convictions we affirm as revealed in God's Word-those cherished doctrines that define the Southern Baptist Convention and its churches."

Thus, we have an odd situtation. These men all voted for the new BFM. They all voted for the BFM at the Convention when it came to a vote, yet they contradict the BFM on Article 4 and advocate using the BFM as a confessional statement for service as a missionary, seminary professor, Think about that the next time you hear one of them rail against monergism. These sermons of late almost always mention the ordu salutis at some point at it is invariably a point raised against the Reformed doctrine that regeneration precedes faith.

Dr. Rogers himself was the chairman of the Committee. Steve Gaines also served on the committee. The list is: Adrian Rogers, Chairman
Max Barnett, Steve Gaines , Susie Hawkins , Rudy A. Hernandez, Charles S. Kelley, Jr. Heather King , Richard D. Land ,Fred Luter, R. Albert Mohler, Jr. , T. C. Pinckney , Nelson Price , Roger Spradlin, Simon Tsoi ,Jerry Vines .

GeneMBridges said...

I would also add:

The BFM goes on to state, immediately after the statement on monergism that:

Repentance and faith are inseparable experiences of grace.

Repentance is a genuine turning from sin toward God. Faith is the acceptance of Jesus Christ and commitment of the entire personality to Him as Lord and Saviour.

-----This implies point 4, effacious grace, though it's not entirely clear in this article, but since nobody says that a person can be regenerate and unconverted, it logically follows that it is saying that every time a sinner is regenerated by God, he always responds in repentance and faith (conversion), which is exactly what Reformed soteriology teaches.

Jared Moore said...

I agree that the BF&M is clear in article 4.

"A. Regeneration, or the new birth, is a work of God's grace whereby believers become new creatures in Christ Jesus. It is a change of heart wrought by the Holy Spirit through conviction of sin, to which the sinner responds in repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ."

-I believe the "to which" that you emphasized earlier points to the conviction of sin,not to regeneration.

-I believe this because.
1. There is no comma before the word "through".

2. This entire paragraph is describing regernation... listing repentance and faith as part of it... in response to conviction.

3. You well know that the men mentioned who approved the BF&M, and even wrote it... that these individuals do not believe that regeneration happens before salvation. How can you affirm that they meant this... when they obviously don't believe it, nor teach it? Could you be reading in your own theology into article 4 of the BF&M?

GeneMBridges said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
GeneMBridges said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
GeneMBridges said...

Regeneration, or the new birth, is a work of God's grace whereby believers become new creatures in Christ Jesus. It is a change of heart wrought by the Holy Spirit through conviction of sin, to which the sinner responds in repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Repentance and faith are inseparable experiences of grace.

Sentence one defines regeneration.

It is a change of heart. What is "it?" Regeneration. Of what is regeneration the result? Conviction of sin.

Regeneration is wrought by the Holy Spirit through the conviction of sin, to which the sinner responds to repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

That’s very clearly a statement of monergism for several reasons. What is wrought by conviction of sin? Regeneration. Faith and repentance are also the result of conviction of sin, but it does not follow that they are the result of conviction of sin alone, because of the last sentence which tells us from whence they arise: grace, not men's own natures.

As to structure: Diagramming that sentence, the comma sets off the last clause and attaches it to the first clause, but it is not functioning in as an appositive phrase describing conviction. Repentance and faith are the responses of the sinner to that which is the subject of the first clause. The subject of the first clause is regeneration not conviction of sin. “Through conviction of sin” modifies regeneration, not faith and repentance.

The Holy Spirit brings about regeneration via the conviction of sin. This is congruent with Reformed soteriology. The full content of the following clause modifies the full contents of the previous clause, but regeneration is the object in view in the first clause, not conviction of sin, because the first clause constitutes a complete sentence, and the comma adds to that whole sentence not the last phrase of the sentence alone. If there was no comma at all, that would mean "to which, modified "conviction of sin." Thus, repentance and faith are a response to regeneration, which is brought about via the conviction of sin, since regeneration, not the conviction of sin is the subject of the first clause. The last sentence in that paragraph clarifies this by stating that they are experiences of grace, not men's natures.

At worst, the sentence is not clear at all and can be read eithe way, thus it is a compromise position, but that means that if I am reading my own theology into it, then these men are doing the same thing for the same reason and have no basis to raise objections about it within the confines of our confession.

One of the Scriptures mentioned in the 2000 Version is John 1:11-14, which states in v. 13, that those who are born again are "born not of blood, or of the will of the flesh, nor the will of man, but of God," all of which expressly deny synergistic regeneration. They can try to say otherwise, but they never appeal to 1:13 for that, they appeal to 1:12 and leave off 1:13 in these sermons.

It is true that this Article duplicates the same article from 1963 which borrows from the 1925 version, and the 1925 version is even more explicit:

Regeneration or the new birth is a change of heart wrought by the Holy Spirit, whereby we become partakers of the divine nature and a holy disposition is given, leading to the love and practice of righteousness. It is a work of God's free grace conditioned upon faith in Christ and made manifest by the fruit which we bring forth to the glory of God.

We believe that repentance and faith are sacred duties, and also inseparable graces, wrought in our souls by the regenerating Spirit of God; whereby being deeply convinced of our guilt, danger, and helplessness, and of the way of salvation by Christ, we turn to God with unfeigned contrition, confession, and supplication for mercy; at the same time heartily receiving the Lord Jesus Christ as our Prophet, Priest, and King, and relying on him alone as the only and all-sufficient Saviour.

Given their source material, it is hard to see how they could argue that they were repudiating monergism, when their direct source document states it so very clearly, and Dr. Mohler sat on the committee itself, unless they all collectively read it through the 1963 version, but that makes for a couple of problems.

1. Article 3 states, "...Only the grace of God can bring man into His holy fellowship and enable man to fulfill the creative purpose of God..."

2. This is important, because it precedes Article 4 which ends with "Repentance and faith are inseparable experiences of grace," not "calling" or "conviction," or "nature."

3. Here is a major difference between the 63 and 2000 versions most folks don't catch and think doesn't make a difference: This sentence is attached to the paragraph on regeneration in the 2000 version. It is attached to the paragraphs on repentance, faith, and justification in the 63 version. The 63 version implies synergism as a result. The positioning of this paragraph in the 00 version makes it read in a monergistic fashion.

Orally, it doesn't make a difference. However, in terms of the structure of the paragraph, it makes a lot of difference, because now, faith and repentance are put into the the domain of grace which is certainly in the domain of God Himself. Thus grace comes to men via the Spirit's conviction of sin, resulting in regeneration, which results in faith and repentance as a response. A synergisitic reading could not say that faith and repentance are truly experiences of grace and be attached to this paragraph.

Why? Synergism puts election and regeneration after conversion itself and thus outside the work of grace. Neither the work of the Father (election), nor the work of the Spirit (regeneration) are links in a golden chain which effect a state of grace. Election and regeneration, therefore, fall outside the grace of God, for they do not create or contribute to a state of grace. On this view, the grace of God is limited to the work of Christ.

According to a synergistic reading of the new BFM, to be consistent with his own theology, a synergist must say that it is up to man in a state of nature, not grace, to respond to the Gospel of Christ. Thus a reading of the BFM must be monergisitic in order for repentance and faith to be experiences of grace within the subject matter of IV A, regeneration, or this last sentence contradicts the rest of the paragraph. The most consistent reading of the BFM 00 favors monergism.

A synergistic reading results in equivocating on the function of grace. It is asked, from whence does faith and repentance come? The answer is grace. However, as Dr. Graham and all of these others continually state, "Every man has been granted a measure of faith," and they all insist man can, from a state of nature, respond to grace offered. One could possibly argue that the sentence could reasonablly infer exactly that but that equivocates on the meaning of the preposition "of," or puts faith and repentance in the realm of common grace, but that would be highly problematic, since we all differentiate between special and common grace and Scripture doesn't speak of either repentance or faith in such a way.

If an experience is "of God" it is attributable to God. If it is "of grace" it thus arises from grace itself. However, if repentance and faith are attributable to man as a response to God's grace that is offered, they are man's contribution to salvation arising not from grace but his own nature, for man is not yet in a state of grace, still contradicting the last portion of IV A, and not one of the synergists making these arguments will say that saving faith is a gift of God. They go out of their way to deny that, for, if it is a gift of God, that infers monergism by their own admission; and that means they would be embracing a premise they seek to deny.

Jared Moore said...

Gene Bridges,

Do you like it when these guys misrepresent your Calvinistic position from a pulpit? My main argument is that you too shouldn't misrepresent them.

They obviously did not sign off on the BF&M believing that it placed regeneration before faith and repentance... since, they continually, before and after, teach differently.

Also, referring to the 1925 BF&M... I don't see how regeneration prior to faith and repentance is "more explicit" there.

Afterall, it clearly says that regeneration is a "work of God's free grace conditioned upon faith in Christ." Do you hold to this? Do you believe that regeneration is conditioned upon faith in Christ? If regeneration is conditioned upon faith in Christ, then how does faith come after regeneration?

David B. Hewitt said...

Hi, Jared.

I know this discussion at this point appears to be between you and Gene Bridges, but I wanted to chime in with a few things.

The main reason to hold to a monergistic view regarding regeneration isn't the BFM anyway; it is the combined testimony of the Word of God. I think Gene was just pointing out (which I thing he did in much detail) why the BFM 2000 has to be read in the way we continue to take it here.

If what you say is true, that those who continue to preach that regeneration follows faith would never have signed off on the BFM 2000 had they known what it is really saying, then they are guilty of attaching their names to something without truly considering its meaning.

Before you object and say that they don't think it means that way, please allow me to remind us all that there is but one way to interpret ANYTHING. Hermeneutics is NOT just limited to the Bible; it is really the science of interpretation and it applies to any document. The structure of the sentences is extremely important in getting to that meaning, and wiht the presence of people like Al Mohler on the BFM committee, it is very likely that meaning was intended by the authors, at least some of them. For more information about this and the BFM, see this link to get a PDF of an exposition of the BFM by the faculty of Southern Seminary. The section on Regeneration is very helpful, citing Ephesians 2:8--9 as especially important in the consideration.

Something else to consider, which I think addresses all five points of the Doctrines of Grace very well is this link which is from John Piper's church. It's about the best short synopsis and Scriptural reasoning for the five points that I've seen out there.

I hope I've been helpful.

A slave of Christ Jesus,
David Hewitt

Jared Moore said...

I totally agree with you concerning the hermeneutics aspect of interpreting the BF&M, but we are saying the same thing... you're just leaning towards that mohler wouldn't have signed off on it if he believed it said faith before regeneration, and I'm saying that the two-pointers wouldn't have signed off on it had they believed it said regeneration before faith.

I've looked into Calvinism quite a bit. My brother-in-law is a five pointer. I have no problem with five point Calvinism, if indeed this is what the Bible teaches. God is God and He can do what He wants. Who am I to say anthing against God?

I can't get past the fact that God is not the author of sin... even indirectly. What you chalk up as a paradox, I find to be contradicting. The passages that speak of God predestinating things are interpreted with the presupposition that He's not the author of sin, so, it can't mean that He predestined the fall.

This is my dilema; this is why I'm not a four or five point Calvinist.
It has nothing to do with being able to view God in this way. It has everything to do with the fact that to make God the author of sin, is blasphemy.

Is God the author of sin? Can you explain this?

David B. Hewitt said...

It depends on what you mean by "author."

You have presented the issue I think that most people struggle with. It cannot be a contradiction, simply because the Scriptures teach us that indeed God has ordained sinful actions, but is Himself completely innocent of sin (1 John 1:5), and doesn't tempt anyone to sin, and is Himself immune to temptation (James 1:13-14).

Some passages that speak to this, that is, God in some sense causing people to take sinful actions, are Isaiah 53:10, Judges 14:1-4, Isaiah 45:7 (where the word "success" is the Hebrew shalom, and the word "disaster" is the word ra'ah, which is the same word used for evil (wickedness) in Genesis 6:5 and in other places in Scripture. It is not just referring to natural evils necessarily. Note also that the word "create" is the Hebrew word bara which is the same word used in Genesis 1:1 for the creation of the world.), and Amos 3:6 (and the word "disater" is again the word ra, ra'ah, which the KJV and the ASV translate as "evil" rather than "disaster".

Probably my favorite verse that addresses this issue and yet maintains man's responsibility for the evil done is Luke 22:22 which states:

"For the Son of Man will go away as it has been determined, but woe to that man by whom He is betrayed!"

Here, it is clear that Jesus was going away to be crucified because it was determined by God that it would take place. However, the betrayer (Judas) was held responsible for the sin in it and had a woe put on him. Judas was the doer of the evil and was completely responsible though it was God that had determined it.

Wayne Grudem in his Systematic Theology deals with this in his section on the Doctrine of Providence, and John Piper deals with it a lot in a couple of articles (that are also found at the end of Desiring God and The Pleasures of God respectively) here, and here.

I hope these help; the problem of evil is no small matter, and the main reason for it is that our minds (yours and mine and really, I think, everyone's) want to be able to understand everything. However, no matter how much we understand about this, there will be a mystery. The mystery that is the biblical one, after consulting the evidence in the above Scriptures and elsewhere, I firmly believe to be this:

"We cannot fully comprehend how God, having ordained everything that ever will be and ever was, including sin, can remain completely innocent of that sin and perfectly, eternally righteous."

And to that end, I say "Glory be to God." Allow me to echo also Paul's statement in Romans 11:

Rom 11:33 Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and the knowledge of God! How unsearchable His judgments and untraceable His ways!
Rom 11:34 For who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been His counselor?
Rom 11:35 Or who has ever first given to Him, and has to be repaid?
Rom 11:36 For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.

Indeed, Amen and Amen.

A slave of Christ Jesus,
David Hewitt

KnowNoTone said...

Dr. Steve Gaines has an earned Doctorate, right? - presumabably in some branch of Divnity? That being assumed, how come he retreated to such an emotional appeal, based on out-of-context proof texting against the historical doctrines of Grace (i.e. "Calvinism").

Seems to me that his deliberation and rhetoric are unsound.

Jared Moore said...

I've looked at those verses. Isaiah 45:7 and Amos 3:6 are debateable as to whether it's evil or judgment.

A basic hermeneutic is to interpret the ambiguous from that which is clear. 4 or 5 point calvinism demands a paradox, for without it, this theology implodes. Could it not just as easily be said that God allowed evil, taking no responsibility for it... this is what the presupposition states from that which is clear... God is NOT the author of sin; therefore, he's not responsible for sin.

You referred to Luke 22:22. Jesus hid Himself several times from those who wanted His life... if He hadn't of, then He would have been crucified at an earlier time. Nothing is done without God allowing it. He is sovereign... but, He's not the author of sin... not in any sense.

not necessarily to you, but I keep seeing individuals on here calling men who believe like me Arminians. To all of those who do this: Do you enjoy when you're labeled a hyper-Calvinist? If not, then don't label us Arminians... for neither one of these statements are completely true.

I appreciate your dialog. Please continue to challenge me... to solidify or break apart my theology according to God's Word.

In Him,

Jared Moore

Jim Shaver said...

The more that men like Steve Gaines, Jack Graham, and Johnny Hunt preach against Calvinism the more it causes rank and file members of the SBC to ask questions.

The more questions they ask the more answers we can give.

For such a time as this we have been called.

Jim Shaver, Pastor
Providence Baptist Church

rhonda said...

Do you 'Calvinist' believe as Brother Steve says? I couldn't tell from your blog(s) if you were being sincere or sarcastic??

JBuchanan said...

If we are really serious we need to network with local Pastors and join together to nominate a President of the SBC who is friendly to our cause. Maybe Dr. Akin?

je123 said...

Explain to me your theory on how Steve Gaines is not correct on Calvinism. You say the Bible told you Calvanism is correct but there are only 2-3 references to election and over 400 reverences to Grace in the Bible. That's why it only took Dr. Rogers 4 pages to disprove it.

John 1:12 says it all.

ldwin said...

You calvinists are so sure that you are 110% right. You seem to have forgotten that verse that says, "God's ways are not man's ways and His thoughts are not our thoughts." It's sad that calvinism has become THE issue of the "reformed." And don't say it's not, because I know that is what Founders is all about. I think that when we get to heaven and see His face we will be ashamed of how much time we wasted here on earth on such matters.

reformedgreg said...

reformedgreg saysto idwin. calvinism the issue of the reformed. the gospel is worth defending, you say we are wasting time. 110% right, i would settle for just the T. how many arminains do you know that have been ask to leave their ministry & church for what you beleive & teach. calvinism as you call it. is just christianity rightly understood, that is spurgeon by the way not john calvin. try finding a baptist church in east texas, lufkin area to be exact that is not trying to be the good ole charismatic assembly of god church on the corner, we have churches in this area with minute maid park inside them, taking refreshments into the sanctuary, thats what no creeds, no rule just one that there are no rules will do for you. you arminians carry on. we can just keep. rebaptizing the youth back from camp year after year, but lets make sure we keep those calvinist quite, or the pastor or yout minister won't get another knotch on his belt. you arminian guys just keep holding on jesus will call us all home soon, jesus wil call us all home soon because all that the father gives him come to him. praise god.

WatchingHISstory said...

Last sunday Steve Gaines attempted to fill Adrian Rogers' shoes with anti-Reformed polemics.

I am a five point calvinist and his proof almost convinced me to drop all five. He said "A lot of people are teaching that stuff."

"God never coerces anyone to follow him through irrestible grace neither should we."

"Forced love is not love, we call forced love a crime."

A direct quote from Dr Rogers, "No one will go to hell because they are predestined to go to hell."

He did use a convincing scripture Matt 23:37! He laso refered to the rich young ruler who asked Jesus, "what must I do to be saved?"

Yep, we've got opposition!