Monday, June 26, 2006

Update #2 on the Caner "Debate"

I hate to do it but I do not see any way to avoid this post without being accused of being unfair to Dr. Ergun Caner. I have not posted any emails regarding the Caner "debate." Dr. White has done so after agreeing to post them in their entirety. Even then, he waited until the obfuscation became so bad that meaningful communication almost totally broke down. You can read the whole exchange here.

Recently, after the latest salvos from Lynchburg and a troubling conversation with Dr. Caner in Greensboro, NC, I weighed in with one of my few contributions to this written exchange. I post that letter, and Dr. Caner's response, below only because he has asked me to do so. Actually, to say he "asked" is putting it charitably. I have been restrained in making many public comments about the "debate" or about the incredibly frustrating process of trying to get it set up.

When I announced that there would indeed be a debate and that I had agreed to participate in it, I made these statement:
I am praying that this debate will bring honor to our Lord by showing how brothers can disagree strongly and decisively without resorting to the kind of name calling, misrepresentations, distortions that too often characterizes disagreements on this issue. I am also praying that the Gospel of God's grace will be set forth clearly and simply; that God's Word will be accurately handled; that truth will be honored and error exposed. I have no doubt that not only James, but also Ergun and Emir would join me in saying "Amen" to these petitions offered to our Lord. As God brings this to mind, please pray to this end (emphasis added).
Let me simply say in the three months since I wrote that I have been completely disabused of such naivete. Make no mistake, Dr. Ergun Caner does not want to participate in a scholarly debate on the doctrines of grace. That is obvious to me and, if my email is any indication, to countless others who have read his comments.

With that being said, here is the recent email exchange, posted at Dr. Ergun Caner's request.

From: tomascol
Subject: Re: June 23, 2006
Date: June 24, 2006 2:42:15 PM EDT


I find Ergun's characterization of this whole issue to be far different from my own. I have read every single email that has been exchanged and would do so again except that I don't think I have sinned sufficiently to warrant such a sentence. It is enough to know that the record contained in those emails is clear enough to show anyone who wants to know about this pseudo-debate exactly what has transpired and how it has transpired.

Ergun, I do not know how or why you think that we have all agreed on the thesis or format. You have tried to dictate what they will be but there has been no negotiated agreement. Furthermore, Dr. O'Donnell's only email leads me to doubt the sincerity of his assurances to be an impartial moderator who will operate from the the rulebook of "fairness." His offer to entertain "specific questions about the format" as long as they are asked "professionally" rings hollow in light of my May 16 email to him. I did not copy it to anyone else because I was simply seeking to learn from him the best way to get information about the format.

Here is that email in its totality:

Dear Dr. O'Donnell:

I have been told that you have agreed to moderate a debate on October 16, 2006 at Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg, VA. I am supposed to participate in that debate and have some questions about it that I would like to ask you. Would it be possible for me to address them to you via email, or would a phone conversation be better?

Thank you for your consideration.


Tom Ascol
I sent it to directly to him. Yet, I still have not received even the courtesy of an acknowledgment, much less an offer to entertain my questions. As the written record demonstrates conclusively, this kind of treatment is typical of the lack of respect that has been afforded James and me in this whole process.

No amount of posturing or posing can change the fact that you have attempted to throw numerous roadblocks in the way of this debate. Virtually any prospect of having a fair exchange of ideas in a setting where our differences can be clearly expressed has been undermined by your unwillingness to discuss questions that must be settled before such an exchange can take place. I suppose that this sounds like whining to you. To me, it is an honest attempt to dialogue.

Ergun, when you told me and others in Greensboro about Dr. Falwell's plans to "pimp" this debate all over the world I was caught off guard. At first I thought I had misunderstood you but your repeated declarations that he was going to "pimp" it on TV and "pimp" it to "little old ladies" quickly disabused me of that notion. Your emails of the last two days have only confirmed my worst fears that your chosen vocabulary to describe this "debate" is all-too-accurate.

Well, I am no one's prostitute. And I refuse to be "pimped." If you are comfortable letting Dr. Falwell "pimp" you then that is surely your prerogative. I would love to pursue a genuine, theological debate. If that is what the Drs. Caner want, then let's work it out and get it done. If, however, all you want to do is put on a Fundamentalist burlesque show, then go ahead with the plans that you are making but find yourself someone more suited than I to join you on stage.



Here is Dr. Caner's response:

From: erguncaner
Subject: Please Post This, Dr. Ascol
Date: June 26, 2006 8:48:57 AM EDT

26 June 2006

Dear Dr Ascol:

Well, for the first time in this discussion, I have come to the conclusion that posting private correspondence, which usually takes place between Christian gentlemen behind the scenes, might be helpful if posted. This is one e-mail that I believe should be posted, but I doubt if you will do it. This will stay private, or scrubbed, much like Brad Reynolds exchanges:

  1. For the record, your quote of my words at the SBC was correct. I did use the word "pimped."
  2. I do love the fact that Dr. Falwell is willing to give this debate as big a stage as possible.
  3. He believes, as we do, that this is a vital issue in the SBC, and MUST be confronted to as large a crowd as possible.
  4. Of course, since no one is making any money on this debate (as Emir and I stipulated- no tickets and no "entry fees") your concern over being "prostituted" is not really valid.
  5. HOWEVER, before you storm off...please do not feel too superior. Would it change the equation if we were offering to pay you for doing a CRUISE to teach?
  6. Yes, Dr. Ascol, we understand your desire not to be pimped. Does that extend to traveling on a cruise with Dr. White...along with others...for the advertised speaker? Apparently I am not as accomplished at this "pimping" thing...

I am sorry you feel the way you do, Dr. Ascol.



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John said...

Dear Leighton,

The analogy you draw with 1 John 5:1 is not apt. The passage says that everyone who has faith has been born again. Therefore, there never is (or can be) someone who has faith who has not been born again because the regeneration makes the faith possible. Whereas there could be people who at one time worked in that hypothetical church who were, at one time, not ordained. You've mixed apples and oranges.

Again, a work is anything that comes from us. Because I believe in the sovereignty of God, I believe that everything comes providentially from His hand, including the hardening of Pharoah's heart, the fact that Esau was "hated" before he did wrong, etc. But you are trying to make the argument that people can somehow muster up faith all by the themselves, that they are not so sinful as to be completely unwilling to chose for God. That approach to "faith" makes faith a work. It may not be a particularly difficult work but it is a work nonetheless.

God uses means. Faith is the means "through" which he applies saving grace to us. You've confused the means and the ultimate source.

I think the passages on depravity (from Gen. 6:5, Jer. 17:9, etc.) are so clear that the conclusion is obvious. If Gen. 6:5, etc., is true, then we would not choose to have faith in God.

Jeff Jones said...


You were asked:

The natural person could not possibly produce faith because "every inclination in his heart is only evil all the time."

You responded:

Is there any scripture which draws this actual conclusion? You seem to assume that because men are born with selffish and sinful desires that those desires cannot be persuaded or drawn to repentance by the powerful word of truth. I am still looking for a passage that actually draws that conclusion.

Here's Romans 8:7-8:

7For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law; indeed, it cannot. 8Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

My question is this. If a person, who is still in their sins, has not yet trusted Christ, is still in the flesh - if this person is "persuaded" by the Gospel and so turns to Christ, has he not:

a) Submitted to God's law?
b) In so doing, pleased God?

This is the explicit answer you are looking for. If you cannot see this, then something (tradition, philosophical presuppositions) are in the way.

That is not a personal attack. I speak from my past - it was the doctrine of total depravity that convinced me of Calvinism in the first place. I could not see, based on this verse, how a person without the Spirit - who had not been first born again - could submit to the Gospel. I could not see how any person's acceptance of the Gospel, of the "gift God offers," in Arminian language, would not please God - and yet this verse told me that a person not born again could not please God.

This realization was very painful for me, and took months of study and prayer before I finally shed the Arminian glasses I had been given.

Stephen A Morse said...

This whole argument, about the Caners (or even Paige Patterson and many others) insisting on calling calvinists "hyper" with a little h (thank you 'I am Peter' for this good description) while Calvinists keep insisting on them stopping, has gotten out of hand.

It reminds me of my older boys finding something, a name or a crude noise, that really infuriates their sisters and continuing to do it while Mother and I lose our senses in all of the resulting chaos:

"hyper-calvinist!" STop It!" hypercalvinist!" STOP IT!"
"HYPERCALVINIST.... INFINITY!" "MOM!!!! He won't stop calling me a HYPERCALVINIST!" "Make him stop!"

"Did not!" Did too!" "Did Not!" "Did too, did too!" "Did Not!"

Get the picture?

What does Mom say? "Let's just grow up a little can't we?"

Listen... I can hear her now!

brad reynolds said...

Thanks for your words. I recall your spirit from an earlier Blog and am grateful for it. My domain address is

Thank you for your humility and I am certain God is honoring your 25+ years of study of God’s Word. And the man I have heard speak most to “God's holiness, man's inability, the sufficiency of grace and the beauty of heaven” has been Dr. Paige Patterson, not necessarily a flaming Calvinist.

The system I refer to, has been termed TULIP. Some of the presuppositions are the interrelatedness of the points in the system. Thus, unconditional election is related to limited atonement within the system. More in the future on my blog.

Further, I assure you it was the Holy Spirit who led us to the “precious truths of the gospel” in spite of any presuppositions we held.

I admire your indignation of unwholesome language and look forward to your consistency in rebuking some of the unwholesome language not displaying God’s love on this Blog.

I am certain I cannot expound any more clearly than my Presidents scholarly work on the abstracts’ application to three point Calvinists in his message “The Danger of Loving a Theological System More than a Savior” found at

As I have already stated I will address the logical conclusions as well as my position soon on my Blog, after addressing more pressing matters. To do so here, would invite dialogue from nearly every reader, which would consume WAY too much of my time (perhaps to no avail).

Finally, thank you for your evangelistic fervor. God will surely bless that and honor you.

brad reynolds said...

I will refrain from defending my actions or addressing your unfounded accusations.

But I sincerely thank you for your concern that Christ be glorified, exemplified in your cautions to all about unwholesome language.

Thank You

C. T. Lillies said...

peterfrank wrote: "...and accept the fact that this community is extremely verbose..."

OK, I just couldn't let this pass without a chuckle considering the epics that have been posted here this week. Keep it up guys, I've learned a great deal just trying to read through some of this stuff--and look up some of the references. Its like a theological gym. I was especially happy with the reference to the Canons of Dort which read sort of like this blog at times...

Press on!

bristopoly said...

Hi Leighton, thank you for your reply. I appreciate such a respectful conversation. If only they could all be this way.

"Plus, after questioning the “T” it caused me to question the U, I and P as well. Even Sproul explains that it all rests on the T as the foundation for the rest."

But, as I said, if the U, I and P are all over the place, the T is then true as well, is it not? So we should really be talking about the entire 5 points here.

"Exactly my point. If hardening is that which causes men to be unable to believe the gospel and it only takes place later in life then those who have not yet grown hardened should be able to believe the gospel, thus disproving the concept of Total Depravity. Understand?"

No. Actually I understand that you've taken something here and made an illogical jump. I stated that hardening has to do with whether God judges someone before the foundation of the world concerning whether He will draw them/have mercy so that they repent and are saved OR He will harden so that they do not believe. So the mercy or hardening is a judgment upon an already existent rebellion, a total depravity of the man. Do you understand why one does not need to adopt what you said based on your view of the hardening?
So the hardening is not "why" someone doesn't believe, but rather a judgment that will not give mercy so that someone might believe, but instead even sends further influences to make their rebellion concrete.

"Ok, if those God has chosen to harden are the ones he has not chosen to show mercy then please explain to me why Paul clearly tells us in Romans 11:11-14 that those Jews who are hardened might be provoked to envy and come to faith?"

Leighton, if I can make an observation of your hermeneutics for a moment, I think I can be of some service. You seem to take a phrase like "brought to life" and think that that ALWAYS refers to the same thing (like the theological use of regeneration). It's like taking the word justification in both Paul and James or John and thinking that it is the same thing (or even that Paul himself uses it the same way). You're going to end up with bad theology and a major contradiction, which is what you have done here in Rom.
Paul has just stated that the hardening is a judgment made before one does anything right or wrong. That means before anyone has done anything, God decides whether He is going to forgive them or not for what they are going to do. His hardening and mercy have nothing then to do with what the person does (since all will do evil).
Then you turn around and say, because the text says He has hardened the Jews and the hopes of this is that one day the Jews become jealous and are saved, that this hardening cannot be for "the Jews" damnation.
The problem is your confusing what "Jews" he is talking about and thinking that the first group of hardened Jews (the ones being hardened at the time of his speaking) and the Jewish people to come, who might be jealous and turn, are the same individuals. It is clear that the particular Pharisees who are hardened are hardened SO THAT THEY DO NOT BELIEVE and ARE UNABLE TO BELIEVE. So the Israel that Paul is talking about is a future one. He even says "at this present time." So there is no relevant objection here, just a word confusion going on throughout what you are reading.

Along those lines, please show me where the Bible says we are "born again" by faith. "Brought to life" can refer to ANY aspect of the salvation process (including the glorification at the resurrection). Please show me the "born again" or "born from above" BY faith passage before you say that the Bible teaches it and make it the grid for all else. I need to know what passages your talking about in order to make a judgment on what they are saying.

"The verse actually says “might” and not that they “would” inferring that there is nothing irresistible involved."

Leighton, I should have looked at the verse in Greek before I commented. This is actually a Greek thing that I missed. The word mepote, which has been translated "otherwise" is not intending to say that they would accept God on their own if they had not been hardened. It means lit. "at no time" "not ever." So the verse reads "so that they might not ever" "so that they might never."
You can check Louw and Nida who give the primary definition of "never." So the hardening is a judgment that solidifies their rebellion so that their "would not receive" turns into a "will never receive." It just is making their rebellion concrete, not adding something that is not there already.
However, even if you took it to mean "otherwise" as it can be translated, the "might" is simply the translation of the subjunctive. It's a subordinate clause: "this has been done in order that that might be done." The word "might" here is not talking about what may or may not occur (I go through this with my Greek students a lot). It is simply the English way of traslating a subordinate clause. "Christ came that He might save sinners" does not mean that He may save sinners or he may not. It simply gives the reason why He came. We know for a fact that He came that He WOULD save sinners. So just to clarify on that.

The problems I have with your explanation of John 6 are numerous. Let me just summarize a few:

1. Christ says "no one" can come to me "unless---"if not" the Father draw Him.
This is the same phrase used in John 14:6 "no one" "unless---"if not." If I say that the no one in John is just the Jews, and adopt a really odd dispensational view of Christ's words in general then, I would simply be saying that John 14:6 is speaking about Jews only too (since the exact phraseology is used). "No one" doesn't mean "no Jewish person," it means "no one." You are placing a word in there that doesn't belong and will lead to further heresy if taken consistently.
Furthermore, we see from 2 Thes and Rom 9 that God has mercy upon and hardens Gentiles as well, not just the Jews during the time of Christ.

2. You quoted the citation from the end of Acts. That's well after Christ has left and commissioned the Apostles. Why is God still hardening if that is only a post-cross thing?

3. The "all men to myself" is centered around the word "all." Others can take it differently even if it means "all without exception," but I would tend to see pas "all" in the theology of John as not only Jews, but Gentiles. In other words, that Christ's people "who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God" will come from all peoples, not just Israel. To take it as otherwise is to ignore the entire book of John.

Finally, I do really believe you when you say you are contemplating these issues because I think that you have a lot of contradiction and confusion in what you yourself are saying. That's the way I am when I'm trying to work something out. So I really appreciate the thinking process you are going through. If I can just point out some things that seem contradictory though:

1. You keep saying that faith is given but then postulate some other "faith" that one has in order to accept that faith. How many "faiths" are there. We take hold of the promises of God through faith. If faith is given, then we will take hold of the promises of God. If we reject, it means we do not have faith. Arminians believe that one rejects the gift of salvation by not having faith. They don't believe that one rejects the gift of faith. They believe that faith something the man brings forth to accept the gift. You seem to be postulating two faiths: one given and one which must receive the one given. Do you see evidence in this from Scripture?

2. Faith is said to be a work in John 6:28-29 and it states that believing in the Son is the work OF GOD (and then Jesus proceeds to tell them why they do not believe---because they have not been drawn). So to say that we must accept this faith is to say that we are exercising a faith to accept a faith (again the two faiths) and are thus are only saved because of our wise action to accept the gift. This flies in the face of Eph which is meant to see salvation as COMPLETELY God's work and we have nothing left to say about ourselves but only to give thanks to God.

3. Everyone believes that the Gospel is the means through which God draws, and regeration is seen as LOGICALLY preceding faith, not necessarily "CHRONOLOGICALLY" as you seem to be indicating here, but the Gospel cannot be the drawing in John 6 if all who are drawn are saved. That would be saying that all who have the Gospel preached to them will be saved. We know that is not true from John 6 itself. So the Gospel is a means, but truth alone (as Rom 1-2 suggest) only causes a person to rebel because of their nature. Something else must occur with the the truth, i.e., a change of the nature. Whether this happens at the moment the Gospel is preached (which almost every Calvinist I know would say) or 5 weeks before is irrelevant. But if you realize that most say it is at the moment of the preaching, then that might help you with all of those verses that talk about life coming from faith, etc. as well.

4. I'm not sure how you would explain that Rom 3 says that there is not even one man who is good? Or Christ who consistently says "You, being evil..." I think this might be a human view of good and evil where one can BE both evil and good (even if only a little good), but that is not the way the Bible ever sees things. One is either good OR evil, not both. So if we are not by nature good, then by nature we must be evil (as the Bible says we ARE evil---a phrase of being, not doing). So are you thinking that one, who in his being, is evil can have some part of his being that is good and then chooses to accept God's good gifts? How do you take these verses (most of them are not of doing, but of ontology and even then some of them are the doing from the ontology--"there are no good doers").

thanks again, Leighton, I think this discussion is helpful for all of us to work things out.

Leighton Flowers said...

Hi John, as always my comments are in bold...

Hi. You wrote: "Paul has no problem crediting Abraham for his faith,. . ." No. This is not what Paul says. The Apostle says that faith is a gift (Eph. 2:9-10).

I was referring to Paul's words when he wrote, " What does the Scripture say? "Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness." 4 Now when a man works, his wages are not credited to him as a gift, but as an obligation. 5 However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness. 6 David says the same thing when he speaks of the blessedness of the man to whom God credits righteousness apart from works:"

It seems as if Paul doesn't hesitate in crediting man with faith in contrast to works of the law. Why should we?

Sadly, it wasn't my logic that you didn't accept but what Gen. 6:5 (and the other scriptures) simply say: "every inclination of their hearts is only evil all the time." With three sweeping, absolute qualifiers, there's nothing complicated about it. Human beings apart from God's grace are totally depraved and incapable of saving faith.

I don't think you are understanding our point of contention. Even Arminians believe in the need for God's grace. And don't you believe that the beginning of the church through the sending of the apostles and their proclaimation of God's inspired word is an act of grace in itself? How do you come to the conclusion that this act of grace, in bringing the powerful gospel truth to the world, is not capable to overcome men's fallen condition? Of course "every inclination of their hearts is only evil all the time" if left alone. But in the Calvinistic system the heart can be changed through a special act of irresistable regenerating grace, right? Okay, so my question is why couldn't the grace which brought us the gospel do the same thing, but just not irresistably so? Why couldn't the gospel truth persuade the heart of a fallen man, but in such a way that he could resist it? This passage doesn't address that. It only tells us man's condition without God's intervention. It does not address the means of the word of God being proclaimed.



Why not charge your correspondents so much per word??????

Proverb 17:22

Leighton Flowers said...


You wrote: The analogy you draw with 1 John 5:1 is not apt. The passage says that everyone who has faith has been born again. Therefore, there never is (or can be) someone who has faith who has not been born again because the regeneration makes the faith possible.

Or it could be because once one has faith he is immediately regenerated. The order is not explicit in this text. It is explicit in the texts that I have presented however, which sadly have been ignored. It appears we are brought to life through faith according to these texts. They are much more explicit than I John 5:1 in regard to which is the means through which the other is accomplished.

Col 2:12 -
This happened when you were placed in the tomb with Christ through baptism. In baptism you were also brought back to life with Christ through faith in the power of God, who brought him back to life.

Joh 20:31 -
But these miracles have been written so that you will believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and so that you will have life by believing in him

Whereas there could be people who at one time worked in that hypothetical church who were, at one time, not ordained. You've mixed apples and oranges.

Okay, suppose the phrase was, "Everyone who has ever worked at that church is ordained."

Does that mean they are ordain prior to coming to the church for employment or could it be that the church ordains them as a part of the process of becoming a minister on staff? This phrase doesn't tell us enough. It is only telling us that those who are employeed with the church are ordained. We really don't know if they got ordained at another church prior to coming to that church or not. This verse is not explicit enough to draw a hard conclusion. What about the verses I have listed which clearly put faith as the means by which life is attained? Are these verses at odds with each other?

Again, a work is anything that comes from us.

Give an example of an actual "work" then.

Abraham believed God and he was circumcised. Are both of those works? No. Circumcision is considered to be "the work." But its because of Abrahams faith that is justified. Is he justified by a work? No. He is justified by faith. Whose faith? His. Whether his faith was irresistably caused by God or not it was still his faith and very much seperate from the work of circumcision. By your definition of a "work" being something that comes from us then you couldn't even call Abraham's act of being circumcised a "work" because he did that as a result of God's work in him, not on his own, right? See my point?

But you are trying to make the argument that people can somehow muster up faith all by the themselves,

No, not all by themselves. With the help of the revelation made avaiable by the Holy Spirit. "The power of God unto Salvation," the "double edged sword," the life-giving message of truth.

I think the passages on depravity (from Gen. 6:5, Jer. 17:9, etc.) are so clear that the conclusion is obvious. If Gen. 6:5, etc., is true, then we would not choose to have faith in God.

But read the entire context of Gen. 6:5. He is clearly not talking about every man's natural condition from birth.

5 The Lord saw how great man's wickedness on the earth had BECOME, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time. 6 The Lord was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain. 7 So the Lord said, "I will wipe mankind, whom I have created, from the face of the earth--men and animals, and creatures that move along the ground, and birds of the air--for I am grieved that I have made them." 8 But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord. 9 This is the account of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked with God.

Notice two things about this passage. One, it was the way these people had "BECOME," and not necessarily how they were born. Second, it was true of Noah and his family who found favor in God's eyes. You would have to assume that he found favor in that God regenerated him and made him to be faithful and "blameless." This seems to contradict the natural reading of the text in that God seems to be in pain and regreting even making them. It seems odd that God would find favor with Noah by irresistibly causing him to be righteous while being grieved that the rest were only doing what they were made to do. Think about it, if God really wanted these people to all be more like Noah, isn't that up to Him? It just doesn't seem plausible to me.

Leighton Flowers said...

Hi Jeff, my responses to your comments are in bold.

Here's Romans 8:7-8:

7For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law; indeed, it cannot. 8Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

My question is this. If a person, who is still in their sins, has not yet trusted Christ, is still in the flesh - if this person is "persuaded" by the Gospel and so turns to Christ, has he not:

a) Submitted to God's law?
b) In so doing, pleased God?

I do not equate God's law and the gospel. Neither does Paul. Observe:

Rm. 9:30: "What shall we say then? That Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness of faith; 31 but Israel, pursuing the law of righteousness, has not attained to the law of righteousness. 32 Why? Because they did not seek it by faith, but as it were, by the works of the law."

Do you see how Paul contrasts seeking righteousness by faith with seeking it as if it were by the works of the law? One is not attainable, but the other certainly is. Romans 8 merely tells us that righteousness (i.e. pleasing God) cannot be attained through the law because men fall short. None are righteous according to the law! But there is a righteousness being revealed from heaven that is NOT of the law. This righteousness is attainable. I can see where it says righteousness pursued through works of the law is unattainable, but could you show me the text where righteousness by grace through faith is equally unattainable? It think that may just be where Calvinists err.

That is not a personal attack. I speak from my past - it was the doctrine of total depravity that convinced me of Calvinism in the first place. I could not see, based on this verse, how a person without the Spirit - who had not been first born again - could submit to the Gospel.

Could that be because you have failed to recongize the clear distinction between the law and the gospel? I think that has been made clear.

John said...

Dear Jeff Jones,

Hi. Very good post from Romans 8 on total depravity. We've probably cluttered this thread too much with this discussion as it properly belongs under "Regeneration." But you've concluded it well.

jbuchanan said...

This post is simply proving the point that this debate is a bad idea. Some of you have questioned Dr. Caner's integrity and that is simply wrong. I believe that there was even one poster that questioned his salvation (I have lossed it in the muitiplicity of comments). Such questioning of a man's integrity is simply wrong. I agree that his words come across a bit caustic and bombastic, however, I have had the opportunity to meet him in person and he does not come across as arrogant or mean spirited. A bit intense, yes, but not arrogant. Many guys on this site have been just as bold in their assertions as he has been but we tend to overlook that. I do think that the use of the term "pimping" was a bad choice of words but I am guilty of the same thing at times.

The reason this debate is a mistake is that it will serve no useful purpose. Everyone will walk away claiming victory for their side and we will all forget that we are supposed to be on the same side. Mohler and Patterson did a wonderful job in their discussion because they were friends. They understood that Baptists have argued over these points for centuries and that the beauty of our denomination is that the tension of these two poles keeps us from going too far in either direction.

The old Buffalo Springfield song asks "How can anyone be right when everyone is wrong?" The Caner's may be guilty of inflamatory language but I cannot pass over the fact that James White posted their correspondence after they had asked that he not do so.

I for one am disgusted by all of this. Let's get on with the work of the Kingdom and stop this foolish fighting amongst each other.

GeneMBridges said...

Leighton, 1 John 5:1 is not a weak argument. In point of fact, it is not in a vaccuum. If you believe that it is a weak argument for monergistic regeneration which causes faith and is antecedent to it, then you must believe that 1 John 4:7 and 1 John 2:29 are weak arguments that works do not cause salvation.Look at 2:29. "If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone also who practices righteousness is born of Him." Now, we're not Catholic, and, consistently, we all agree that righteousness is a product of the new birth, e.g. regeneration results in righteousness in the life of the believer. This means that in 1 John 5:1, "believing" in Jesus as the Christ is the result of being born of Him. Why? Because it is inconsistent to say otherwise. Why reverse the logical/causal order or 1 John 5:1 but not 1 John 2:29?

1 John 4:7 presents another test for regeneracy does it not?

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves (Greek: pas ho agapwn) is born of God and knows God. (1 John 4:7)

Do you agree that there is sufficient textual warrant for concluding that the person that loving (every one who loves) does so, because one is born of God and knows God? By definition, "regeneration" itself is defined as "being born again, being born of God." I know of no text in systematic theology that defines it otherwise. If you are going to say that there is insufficient textual evidence that John's intent is not to teach that regeneration does not precede faith, you must also conclude from all these texts:

There is insufficient textual evidence to conclude that (a) drawing precedes coming, (b) believing precedes being raised again, (c) giving precedes coming and being raised again, (d) regeneration precedes works, and (e) loving the brethren precedes regeneration. In none of these instances does any of the texts support such a contention.

John has a very specific style. He writes in parallel constructions and spells out the relationships between them. John 8:43 is very clear:

Why do you not understand what I am saying? It is because you cannot hear My word. He who is of God hears the words of God; for this reason you do not hear them, because you are not of God.

First, note: "Why do you not understand what I am saying?" It is because you cannot hear My word. This is stated verbatim. Jesus says there is a causal relationship between their ability to understand and hearing. They do not understand because of their inability to hear. John then parallels this with:

8:47 He who is of God hears the words of God; for this reason you do not hear them, because you are not of God.

John writes a grammatical construction exactly like I John 2:29, 5:1, and 4:7! He first spells out, verbatim, the causal relationship between ability to hear and understanding in v. 43 and endcaps with v.47's end that says "for this reason..." "He who is of God, hears the words of God." for this reason, you do not hear them, because you are not of God. There is a logical, temporal, causal relationship, verbatim.

Again, 1 John 2:29, 4:7, and 5:1 also are this same construction:

He who is of God hears the words of God.

They hear because they are "of God."

You do not hear them because you are not of God

They do not hear because they are not of God

Everyone who practices righteousness is born of Him.

They practice righteousness because they are born again.

Everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.

They love because they are born again and know God.

Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God.

They believe because they are born again.

It would be meaningless for us to say, "They hear because they are of God but being of God is not logically/temporally antecedent to hearing. It would be meaningless for us to say, "They practice righteousness because they are born again, but regeneration is not antecedent to practicing righteousness. It would be meaningless for us to say, "They love because they are regenerate, but there is not logical/temporal order to loving the brethren and regeneration. It would be meaningless to say "They believe because they are born again," but the logical and temporal relationships are inverse. It would reverse the meaning of 6:44 to say they are drawn because they come. Why be drawn if they can come and are coming? Causal relationships depend on their logical order. Exegesis determines this order for all of these. There is no reason to draw one conclusion from three of these but not the fourth, unless you have a theological tradition you are trying to satisfy.

Therefore, not only is there a logical and order, there is a causal relationship between regeneration and practicing righteousness, loving the brethren, and believing. Regeneration precedes and is the cause each activity. Works does not result in regeneration. Love is the result of regeneration, and believing is the result of regeneration. Regeneration precedes faith. 1 John 5:1 is clear.

GeneMBridges said...

It is apparent to me that Dr. Reynolds and those like him are obsessed with "the logical" conclusion of calvinism. We counter with "the logical" conclusion of Arminianism.

True to a point, but there are more problems with Dr. Reynolds defense than responding in that manner. The logical conclusion of Arminianism is Open Theism. It is also Unitarianism. However, as I'm sure Dr. Reynolds knows by now, there are simply no exegetical objections to Reformed soteriology. Those that are attempted fail every time, and those that are left are always ethical and philosophical.

Is Calvinism a system? There are a few things that could be stated here. If by "system" he means a set of doctrines logically related, yes. However, that would make the Trinity, inerrancy, and many other doctrines part of system as well. The doctrine of God underwrites the doctrine of inspiration, which underwrites the doctrine of inerrancy, which underwrites the doctrine of Scripture. If by "system" he means something imposed on Scripture as an extraneous mechanism, then we have a couple of objections. First, in positing libertarian freedom, he necessarily brings a philosophical commitment to Scripture and imposes this on the text. He is thus guilty of doing that which he derides in us. Second, he may be able to make that charge vs. Covenant Theology, NCT, or progressive dispensationalism, as these are systems that can be imposed on Scripture. However, if he would avail himself of a standard biblical theology class by actually taking the class at RTS Charlotte, he may find out that CT is far less of a system and far more of a way doing biblical theology, not systematics.

I'd also add that his logical conclusion is, if it is what I think it is, going to be a non-sequitar. He'd have to infer Calvinism leads to fatalism. That's a category error; soft determinism is not fatalism. He might infer as does his mentor, Dr. Patterson, that doctrines like particular atonement impede evangelism. However, he does so at the expense of making the same error as a hyperCalvinist. He would be stating in effect that unless a person knows Christ died for him or the preacher knows Christ died for all people without exception there is no motive to believe or for evangelism. He'd be saying that the objective offer of the gospel is invalid unless certain divine preconditions are acknowledged and respected. It isn't enough to call on everyone to repent and believe: unless you (the preacher) believe that God seconds your call from the pulpit, then the offer is insincere and sub-par. That's a hyper-Calvinist error.

If Dr. Reynolds feels that Calvinism harms evangelism, he needs to take a long hard look at anything he says that infers libertarian agency, the resistibility of grace, etc. According to Calvinism, the faithful preaching of the Gospel has a guaranteed success rate. Only God knows the percentages, but, according to Calvinism, a set number will be saved by the preaching of the Gospel. But, according to an Arminian theory of the will, far fewer people might respond to the Gospel or even none at all. Whose doctrine thus really hurts evangelism?

Jon D said...


Awesome question above, man!! I believe you are correct in an important sense in your question about regeneration. This order can even be attested in Calvin's Institutes as he uses the word with a range of meaning (not that Calvin is Scripture, but I thought it germane since this is a blog of folks who admire him) (my comments in bold):

“Now it ought to be a fact beyond controversy that repentance not only follows faith, but is also born of faith…There are some, however, who suppose that repentance precedes faith, rather than flows from it, or is produced by it as fruit from a tree. Such persons have never known the power of repentance, and are moved to feel this way by an unduly slight argument” (III, iii. 1).

“I interpret repentance as regeneration, whose sole end is to restore in us the image of God that had been disfigured and all but obliterated through Adam’s transgression…And indeed, this restoration does not take place in one moment or one day or one year; but through continual and sometimes even slow advances God wipes out in his elect the corruptions of the flesh, cleanses them of guilt, consecrates them to himself as temples renewing all their minds to true purity that they may practice repentance throughout their lives and know that this warfare will end only at death” (III, iii. 9).

Calvin above is saying that regeneration (personal transformation in repentance, not in regard to forensic justification) follows faith.

In the midst of this discussion, however, he mentions that the Spirit of regeneration is the direct cause of the conversion of the elect.

“Indeed, God declares that he wills the conversion of all, and he directs exhortations to all in common. Yet the efficacy of this depends upon the Spirit of regeneration. For it would be easier for us to create men than for us of our own power to put on a more excellent nature. Accordingly, in the whole course of regeneration, we are with good reason called “God’s handiwork, created…for good works, with God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. Whomsoever God wills to snatch from death, he quickens by the Spirit of regeneration. Not that repentance, properly speaking, is the cause of salvation, but because it is already seen to be inseperable from faith and from God’s mercy…” (III, iii. 21).

Here Calvin emphasizes the role of God's grace in regeneration in the whole course of salvation. I love his illustration of our depravity and need for regeneration when he says, "it would be easier for us to create men than for us of our own power to put on a more excellent nature."

So, we have two distinct, though not entirely seperate understandings of regeneration in Calvin discussed within a short distance of each other.

Fun for trivia, I guess. So, Leighton, within classical Calvinism it is definitely meaningful to talk about regeneration following faith in a meaningful sense. Great question.

By the way, I would say that my acceptance of the truth of Calvinism is because of the grace of God alone. My proper perception of any truth comes from the mercy of God (I hope you believe the same, unless you are just plain smarter or more spiritual than those with whom you disagree). I've answered your question plainly. If you would, could you please plainly answer my question: "If grace was not DETERMINATIVE, then what caused you to exercise your faith in God's grace while another rejected? Your better use of God's grace, otherwise known as faith, was caused by __________?" I really want to know, since you resist grace alone.

Thanks for you consideration, brother.

GeneMBridges said...

So, logical or illogical means nothing. What matters is what the Bible says.

The last phrase is true, but I would say that logic is, in point of fact an attribute of God, since truth is one of his attrbutes. His mind grounds the laws of logic that make the universe intelligible to us. I would further assert that soteriological arguments inferring libertarian freedom as an action theory are illogical and irrational. For one thing, there's a big problem with them answering this question, "Why does one believe and not the other? " Nobody denies we have choices. The issue is what lies behind them. If he answers with any causal reason, external or internal, he leaves libertarianism. To say that a person doesn't have a choice due to effectual grace is highly problematic for this version of action theory. First, he does have a choice, a choice is to be confronted with 2 options. For example a bank robber threatens to kill my wife if I don't sack the money for him. I choose to help him. The libertarian may exclaim: “Ah, that proves our point. He didn’t have a choice!” Actually, I did have a choice to refuse the robbers. Only,I chose to sacrifice the money in order to save my wife.

But this is not a libertarian argument. I didn’t have a choice in the sense that his overriding motive was the safety of my wife. So this is only a mitigating factor if you assume that I was well-intentioned, and my motive was a compelling motive,—so causality is still the operative criterion. The only question is whether he was well-motivated or ill-intentioned. The problem with libertarian action theory is that it cuts the causal nerve. And by eschewing causality, it lacks explanatory power. And in the absence of explanatory power, it is irrational to the core. It cannot explain why agents act or refrain from acting. If action is inexplicable, then we lose any firm footing for personal or social ethics, historical causation or jurisprudence.

Ergo, this action theory is absurd because it is surd—by introducing a surd dynamic into the world. Remember, too, that human agents interact with a physical environment, so this undercuts scientific explanation as well. As such, Calvinism / irresistible grace and libertarian action theory / resistible grace are not epistemically on par with each other. For Calvinism enjoys explanatory power, while libertarianism and Arminian theology in general represents the abdication of rationality. Arminian theology is worse than untrue—it could not even be true. It is unable to supply and satisfy certain truth-conditions without which the very possibility of an explanation is overruled. (And that, Dr. Reynolds is the logical outworking of the theology you seem to favor in some manner). It cannot acquit the preconditions of intelligibility.

to Dr. Akin's understanding of the Abstracts, which I affirm I believe the proper nature of the understanding of the Abstracts would, in point of fact, be that of the authors, not Dr. Akin. What did Boyce affirm in his Abstract of Theology, from which the Abstract of Principles is derived? What did Dr. Manly Jr. affirm about these articles and their meaning? What did Broadus affirm? What about those who approved of them when the seminary was founded? Did not all the signatories to the SBC Charter itself affirm the Philadelphia Confession? This, not Dr. Akin, should be what informs your understanding of the pertinent Articles in the Abstract. To say that you can affirm them if you get to define them takes a page from post-modernism, where words have fluid meanings, and we can frame them into whatever way we wish. Surely, you did not learn this at SEBTS.

Followed to its logical conclusion, your hermeneutic would lead us not to allow 1 Timothy to inform our exegesis of Titus, not to let John's Gospel inform us in our exegesis of the Johnanine epistles, not to compare Ephesians with Colossians, or even parallel 1 and 2 Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles in doing OT exegesis, much less compare the gospels in harmony.

For the record, regeneration is ascribed to the work of God's free grace alone, not grace and faith in the Abstract. Faith and repentance are listed after regeneration. Where then would that put regeneration in the ordu salutis according to Boyce and Manly? What would that mean, in the context of the document, is the relation between regeneration, faith, and repentance? How did Boyce define regeneration and its relation to conversion? How about Broadus? What about Manly? Williams? If this is what they affirmed, and their hand, Manly's in particular, are in the Abstract, what does this tell you about the Abstract?

Sola Gratia said...


I am a Calvinist, and if I were going to the dabate, I'd be rooting for you. But I really think that you and James should back out of this "debate". I think that you and James both know that if you participate in this debate, it will be nothing but a three ring circus when "debating" the Caner brothers. After hearing this stuff about them going to "pimp" this debate, I told my dad, whom I gave the idea of going, I told him that there would be no need driving all the way to virginia for this argument. I will be praying that God will guide you and James through this dark situation

Leighton Flowers said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
John said...

Dear Leighton, Bristoly, etc.,

I think the "total depravity" discussion should be moved to the "regeneration" thread, where I copied many of my relevant comments. We're trying the patience of those who come here about Caner, etc.

Christopher Redman said...

I agree with Genebridges; whatever it was that he said about my statements regarding logic.


Leighton Flowers said...

John, I will answer the rest of these posts on the regeneration thread. I hope Gene, Jon, Bristoly and any others who can add some insight will join us. Thanks

revival now said...

Dr. Reynolds,

Thank you for your kind words. Yes, I am quite sure that God has seen fit to bless His work. One of the greatest theological lessons I ever received was from my dad as I was being presented to the church. I had struggled with God's call on my life for some time. As my father (who had served our King for some forty years at that point) placed his hands on my shoulders and looked me right in the eye (I just knew this was a precious moment), he said, "Son, never forget - if God can use Baalam's donkey, He can use you!" :p Thus began my theological education.

Still, in your definition of the "system," isn't that just systematic theology? Isn't that a course taught at any of our great theological institutions? Doesn't all of the biblical points fit together into a single body? That is not just "Calvinism" - that's good, biblical theology.

Further, I have no doubt that it was the Holy Spirit who taught me through the study of God's Word the doctrines many call Calvinism. After all, when that professor of mine when off on what he deemed as "Hyper (oh, man - what is it now - "H" or "h", oh well, we know the truth)Calvinism, and how hateful and unbibilcal it was, I wanted no part of anything Calvinistic. I just studied the scriptures, preached the word and low and behold - I come to find out that I am a Calvinist! I didn't know anything about the "system" - I only knew what the Bible taught.

My point is Dr. Reynolds, I didn't come to the "doctrines of grace" through "the Founders" or through the study of a theological system. I am where I am today because of the wonderful grace of our loving Father (loving but NOT "omni-benevolent"). I have no doubt that you too are diligent in your studies. My question is - why is this attack coming from the Patterson, Caner (Reynolds??) camp against brothers in Christ. We helped fight the battle for the Bible, are we now the enemies because we believe ALL of the Bible?


Tom said...


You do bring some humor to this blog. Thanks! I always enjoy reading your posts and sometimes chuckle so much that I almost am willling to overlook the fact that you keep avoiding pointed questions that challenge positions that you have articulated. I suppose that is simply the price we will have to pay in order to continue being the recipients of your comic relief.

I don't think I will submit any articles on the doctrine of church rolls to scholarly journals. If your response is any indication of how it would be received, then I must anticipate that it would merely be laughed off as pulling, to use your words, "esotoric allusions" from a few Scriptures.

Now *there* is a topic for a scholarly journal! Why don't you elaborate on the use of the "esoteric allusions tactic" as a method by which to avoid engaging in meaningful discussions about biblical texts. I bet you would find a ready audience--particularly in the journals associated with certain schools (we both know which ones, but no need for me to mention any names!). Esoteric Allusions Tactic. You could abbreviate it, EAT. Why, if you don't mind, I could even offer a title for your article. You could call it, "EAT to Survive Theological Discussions with Calvinists." Of course, you might not want to limit it to any one theological camp, in which case you could shorten it to, "EAT to Survive."

Whether you take my suggestion or not, please know that your humor is always welcome here, even if must do without your answers to questions to enjoy it.

Have a great night and a blessed weekend!

peter lumpkins said...

Dr. Ascol,

I really liked your idea about EAT. Perhaps's it could be "EAT at Pete's" Thanks! :D

And, I do not at all feel bad because I do not answer all questions people ask me. If I did, perhaps at risk would be the future of conversation, would it not? Besides, there's always tomorrow...

I feel what may be missing from debate at large today is indeed the presence of the chuckle, as both of us have surely proved we can laugh with each other even on cyberlogue.

I know you now have this Lord's Day's messages foremost on your heart. May the Holy Spirit guide you and empower you with His sweet presence as you faithfully preach His Word.

With that, I am...


brad reynolds said...

If not a then b, is a philosophical flaw. Just because I am not a Calvinist, does not insure an Arminian theology. Your other assumptions speak for themselves. I’ll address all this on my blog. On the Abstract, it’s not what the authors beliefs were while writing the document that’s important, it is what they believed one would have to affirm in signing the document, if they had wanted to use the language of “irresistible grace” or “limited atonement” those words were available to them. By the way God is supra-rational.

Thank you for your testimony…many times people jump to conclusions about others without ever having met them, I try hard not to do that and your personal touch aids others in knowing you better.

Concerning the system. I can affirm total depravity and others provided they are not interrelated to limited atonement (sufficiency), which I cannot affirm. Hence, my words concerning the system.

I would never presume to speak for Dr. Patterson or Dr. Caner


John said...

Dear Brad,

You'r back! Good. I'm not sure you saw my earlier comments addressed to you:

Hi. I'm relatively new here so let me get this straight: You sign an "Abstract of Principles" that you really don't believe (or you redefine them according to your own system so you can sign them)?

You: "I affirm 3 of the classic points of Calvinism provided I can define them. . . ." I can affirm the Qu'ran provided I can define it!

And you think that you understand the logical out-come of Biblical theology (i.e. "Calvinism") better than those like Edwards who wrote complex theological works on it?

And you claim that Biblical theology (i.e. "Calvinism") is a system, apparently imposed on scripture, while you impose Victorian era prohibitionism on the followers of a Lord who began His ministry by turning water into "wine" and used "wine" in one of His two ordinances.

May I assume that one of the "5 points" you don't affirm is "preservation of the saints" (i.e. eternal security). After all, you insisted on "free will." What sense would it make to say sinners only have free will right up until they are saved then they don't have free will any more, they can't freely choose to fall away?

Ok, maybe I'm being a little rough.

10:39 AM, June 29, 2006

About limited atonement: So did Christ die for the sins of Pharoah even though God hardened his heart? Did Christ die for the sins of Esau whom God hated? Did Christ die for the multitudes who died before His incarnation and who had no faith in God? Did Christ die for the sins of Judas who was the son of perdition, predestined to do what he did? You see, to prove limited atonement all one has to do is establish that there was one person for whom Christ did not make atonement. And how could (or why would) Christ make "atonement" for individuals God had hardened their heart, "hated", predestined to be the "son of perdition," or whom He knew (even assuming some Arminian presuppositions) that did not or would not believe?

Isn't it really the case that it is not the Bible that is determining the doctrine of many modern fundamentalist but what they see are the practical needs of their revivalism?

Christopher Redman said...

Dr. Reynolds said,

"On the Abstract, it’s not what the authors beliefs were while writing the document that’s important, it is what they believed one would have to affirm in signing the document, if they had wanted to use the language of “irresistible grace” or “limited atonement” those words were available to them."

I say (and ask)...

No one has stated that the Abstracts affirm Limited Atonement. Secondly, the term "irresistable grace" is not necessary to affirm the biblical revelation of effectual calling or monergistic regeneration.

The key question for you is: do you affirm monergistic regeneration or synergistic regeneration?

If you cannot affirm monergistic regeneration, you are not in accord with the Abstracts.

I am willing to be corrected but I don't think you have any grounds to argue the abstracts revealing or defending synergistic regeneration. Neither does anyone affirm synergistic regeneration without a semi-pelagian and arminian slant to conditional election via free will choice.


Christopher Redman said...

Dr Reynalds said,

"Concerning the system. I can affirm total depravity and others provided they are not interrelated to limited atonement (sufficiency), which I cannot affirm. Hence, my words concerning the system."

Sir, with all do respect you can not affirm total depravity without affirming effectual calling and "UNconditional" election!

Please sir, is the work of regeration monergistic or not? If you affirm the negative, how can you possibly be faithful to scripture in John 1:13, 3:3-8; Romans 8:30, Romans 9:11, 24; Titus 3:5-7, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc!

And, how can you be faithful to the Abstracts?


Christopher Redman said...

Dr. Reynolds,

What about effectual calling in 1 Corinthians 1:24, 26-29...

You know that when Paul says, "For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called"

There can be no denial that this "not many" are "called" asserts that not everyone is called. In other words, this calling is effectual unto salvation. Sounds alot like "those whom He predestined, these he also called, and those whom he called, these he also justified..."

This is not a universal calling but an effectual calling. (ie: irresistable grace) But of course, you already know that don't you. So why the insistant attacks on Calvinists who affirm the scripture?


revival now said...

Dr. Reynolds,

Thank you for your patience. I know you are very busy and I don't want to intrude, but I do believe there are some important issues facing us as brothers and fellow Southern Baptists. I also want to thank Dr. Ascol for allowing me to borrow a little space on his blog.

I admit that God showed me something during devotion this morning. I had to stop and ask forgivness for any ill-spoken word or thought I have had toward the Caners and even Dr. Patterson (whom I do respect). I have not been one to question their salvation, and I agree that is better left in the Lord's hands, but I have been offended by their behavior. Still, my reading this morning included, "But each person should examine his own work, and then he will have a reason for boasting in himself alone, and not in respect to someone else ... But as for me, I will never boast about anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world," (Gal. 6:4, 14). I pray that all of us would take heed and maybe just tone it down some.

Having said that, Dr. Reynolds, and realizing you cannot speak for Drs. Caner or Patterson, you have chosen to speak in their defense. Along that line (not to mention the "flaming Calvinist" comment), do you condone the attacks these men (and others) have made against those of us who are called Calvinist? (Please do not call us hyper-Calvinists as we all know what that term means and it is like calling an African-American brother by the "N" word). These past several months have been interesting in the increased level of verbosity against Calvinism from SBC leadership - even here in the state of Texas. Not only are we now heretics, but according to Dr. Patterson and others, we are dishonest with churches and trying to *steal* them away in the name of Calvinism. I assure you, dear brother that is not the case.

My closest friend is not a Calvinst and we debate the subject often (alone with his dispensationalism). We have been discussing and debating theology for years and enjoy it very much. We do not, however, question each other's salvation, nor do we use worldly language, or charge each other falsely. We love and respect each other as brothers, because that is what we are.

Perhaps (and I realize that I may very well be painting a bullseye on my head for this) we should allow for both positions within the life of the SBC. Thus the tension between us would serve as a counter to both extremes (hyper-Calvinism and universalism/ Open Theism). We would thus be able to continue the discussions and debates in brotherly love and fellowhship.

BTW, Dr. Reynolds, as you do not hold "limited atonement" do you believe that Christ's sacrifice atoned for every sin of every person who has/ will ever live? If so, does that not mean that as all sin has been sufficently atoned for, salvations is, by logical conclusion, universal?

To Chris R.

Brother - I have often found your posts enlightening and always informative. However, please re-read the last paragraph of your last post to Dr. Reynolds. Admittedly most of us here know what your saying, but please remember that I don't always have my dictionary handy. Maybe that's a word of encouragement for all of us :p


Jeff Jones said...


You said,

could you show me the text where righteousness by grace through faith is equally unattainable? It think that may just be where Calvinists err.

Actually, Romans 8:7-8 does just that. I will illustrate by answering your argument about the law.

1. Paul’s reference to God’s law is an illustrative one – illustrative of the deeper principle he is making here: that one in the flesh is hostile to God. The evidence of this is that he cannot submit to God’s Law. Now, even if I were to concede that the reference to the Law cannot be applied to the Gospel (which I don’t), then you would still be stuck. After all, this person is still “hostile to God,” and “cannot please God.” Is believing a mark of hostility? Is coming to faith not something that pleases God? You haven’t answered these deeper issues, choosing to focus instead on how Paul illustrated these deep issues.

You said,

Could that be because you have failed to recongize the clear distinction between the law and the gospel? I think that has been made clear.

2. Far from it. You are drawing a hard distinction between law and Gospel that is untenable. First, you fail to see that the Gospel is indeed a command of God, not an Arminian buffet-type “offer”. Furthermore, it is a command for all mankind, not just for believers or the elect. A command that is universally applicable, from the mouth of God, can fairly be described as “God’s Law.” The only way you could reject the characterization of the Gospel as a law of God would be to adopt Hyper-Calvinism and reject the universal applicability of the command of the Gospel.

3. Paul himself uses “law” in different ways, and not always describing the Mosaic Law (Romans 2:14, Romans 3:27, Romans 7:23, 1 Corinthians 6:1).

You said,

I do not equate God's law and the gospel. Neither does Paul.

4. Actually, you’re wrong. Not only does Paul use the term “law” flexibly, but he contrasts the Mosaic Law with the “Law of faith” by which we are saved – the Gospel message of grace through faith:

27Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By a law of works? No, but by the law of faith. 28For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law. (Romans 3:27-28)

5. Furthermore, Paul makes such a contrast in the very passage I cited:

1There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.[a] 2For the law of the Spirit of life has set you[b] free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. 3For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin,[c] he condemned sin in the flesh, 4in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. 5For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. 6To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 7For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law; indeed, it cannot. 8Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

Romans 8:2 speaks of the law of the Spirit, and the law of sin and death. Romans 8:3 implies the Mosaic Law. 8:7 speaks simply of God’s Law. Now I ask you: is the Law of the Spirit of life that sets us free God’s Law?

If it isn’t, the consequences are terrible. If it is, your argument is shown to be a red herring, and man in his natural state is shown to be naturally hostile to the law of life – the Gospel.

My point not only stands, but is strengthened.

revival now said...

To Chris R.

Please note, the last paragraph I was referring to was this:

"I am willing to be corrected but I don't think you have any grounds to argue the abstracts revealing or defending synergistic regeneration. Neither does anyone affirm synergistic regeneration without a semi-pelagian and arminian slant to conditional election via a free will choice."

Brother, I am sitting here chuckling because of the complexity of this statement. Yes, I know, we are discussing theological issues and the use of such terms is valid. But, let me ask you to consider something. Just suppose someone came upon this discussion who wasn't as versed in theological language. Perhaps they had heard about the Founders ministry and wanted to see for themselves what all the fuss was about Calvinism. Would the use of such terms bless them or leave them scraching their heads?

In talking to people and sharing with them the doctrines of grace one of the consistant charges they make is that we Calvinists "appear" proudful and "over-educated" (yes, that's actually a term I have heard used). Sometimes they think we are talking down to them because we use terms way over their heads.

Chris, brother, please don't be offended. I am not pickin' on you are anyone else. I'm just asking for a little help in receiving your wisdom.

Bless you brother,

Reformed1 said...

Will Langford online said

… I personally believe that Dr. Caner would do an outstanding job and would certainly win the debate. First, because of his superior debating skills. Ergun has a brilliant mind and is very skilled in the area of debate. And second, he would win because his view is indeed Biblical. Ergun rely's on scripture to influence his theology, not a man made theology to influence scripture.

Will, you should know that winning a debate, and winning an argument are not the same things. Ergun may have a brilliant mind, and may indeed be skilled in debate, but a moderated scholarly debate on this subject would make him look foolish. If you’ve followed the email exchanges at all, you would see that it has been the “Calvinist” who has insisted upon a close examination of Scripture, while Ergun had done his best to avoid it. Ergun will only end up repeating Dave Hunt’s errors in this debate. Not because he’s not brilliant, and not because he’s not skilled in debate, but because he will not be able to defend his own position during cross-examination, and he will not be able to prove that James White and Tom Ascol are in error.

One misrepresentation is the assumption that Ergun is an Arminian. If anyone has heard him speak on this subject he makes it very clear that he is not an Arminian. However, so many people just make room for a person either being an Arminian or a Calvinist. Ergun simply states his point that he is neither, he is a Baptist. Why does his identifying himself as a Baptist alarm so many of you? Is he not Presbyterian enough?

Ergun can deny being an Arminian, and claim to be a Biblicist until he’s blue in the face. The fact remains that his theology puts him squarely in that camp, just as our theology puts us squarely in the Calvinist camp. They are only terms of reference to one’s view of salvation. If you believe you are saved because you chose Christ—then you are an Arminian, if you believe you are saved because God chose to show mercy on you—then you are a Calvinist. Incidentally, I’ve never met an Arminian who admitted to being one. If you know your Church history, you’d know that this controversy dates back to the Apostles. You can see it in Paul’s rhetorical questions in Romans 9 as he’s teaching God’s sovereignty in salvation—knowing the objections of his listeners. Through the ages, the debate over opposing views of salvation has continued until Joseph Arminius and John Calvin articulated their positions. Hereafter, and for whatever reason, their names have become points of reference—though they themselves are not the originators of these theologies. There were once those who said that they were of Paul, or they were of Apollos, or they were of Cephus, and those that said they were of Christ. Today there are those who label others instead of themselves, “You’re a Calvinist,” or “You’re an Arminian,” while claiming that “I’m a Baptist, or I’m a Presbyterian” Paul’s answer still applies, “is Christ divided?” Was Calvin or Arminius crucified for anyone? The answer is obvious, but in matters of soteriology, and for the sake of debate, there needs to be distinctions.

So I say, proceed with the debate! The truth will prevail.

I agree wholeheartedly Will, proceed with the debate! If this event ever occurs, I would like you to take notice of a few things;

1. The Calvinists will begin with a clear thesis statement. They will affirm their position with Scripture, and will demonstrate the correctness of their interpretation by the staying in the context of that Scripture, and by sound exegesis.
2. The Caners will begin with an ambiguous thesis statement. They will affirm their position with Scripture, and will try to invoke the emotions of the audience, and interpret Scripture through their traditions.
3. If the debate format allows for cross-examination, here you will begin to see the weakness of the Caners position. The Calvinists will clearly demonstrate their exegesis of John chapter 6 and other key passages. The plain teachings of Jesus will stand irrefutable. As you said, “The truth will prevail.”
4. The Caners will respond with blustering objections. They will fire Bible verses out in rapid succession, and never deal with the text being examined. They will not be able to demonstrate any errors of interpretation, other than to say that “It can’t possibly mean that!” They may offer their own interpretation of John chapter 6, but that would be refuted during a cross-examination period as well.

This is why so many Calvinists are unhappy about the recent turn of events. We know from experience that those who have taken the Caners position in a debate lose. As followers of Christ, we (Calvinists) want you to know the truth about how it is you came to Him. When you get a glimpse of God’s sovereignty, your Christian experience moves from Christian clich├ęs to actual experience. You are awestruck with His power and majesty. You begin to realize how big He is and how small you are. You’ll begin to understand that you really did receive mercy from the hand of God—and the peace and joy that comes from knowing that Jesus will not fail in doing His Father’s will concerning you is indescribable! I want this for you my brother, and I want this for the Caners.

David B. Hewitt said...

Hello, brothers and sisters!

I've been keeping up with this thread, reading most of it. I must say, there has been a lot of good information by many, some of which I wish people would put into books (ahem, GENE) so I can buy and read them one of these days! :)

There is but one statement with which I would like to interact from brother Reynolds. It's been addressed to a large extent already, but I wanted to make mention of it again:

And I am never ashamed to admit publicly and before all, including churches I may pastor my soteriological position. To not do so, is unethical. I affirm 3 of the classic points of Calvinism provided I can define them, rather than their being dependent on the entire system's presuppositions.

I'm certainly not the only one who found this alarming. From what Dr. Reynolds said in the rest of this blog, it would certainly appear that it is ok to redefine the Abstracts so that he can agree with their requirements, and seemed to indicate (and please correct me if I'm mistaken; it wouldn't be the first time) that Dr. Akin, who I definitely respect as an excellent Bible scholar, would agree with how Dr. Reynolds is handling the Abstracts.

Arguing, "well, they didn't use such and such words, and they could have," is really irrelevant. Context determines the meaning of everything, not just the biblical text. So, what the writers intended to communicate in the Abstracts and the meanings of the words they used in that time period in the context of the writing are what we have to use. We must use their definitions or we fail to interpret their writings properly.

I simply cannot understand anyone holding your position, Dr. Reynolds. I just cannot. You say you'll address this on your blog; I do look forward to reading it. Perhaps you can show by it that I have misunderstood things, but given that Dr. Ascol is pretty much an expert on the Abstracts (and he disagrees with you), I fear that my fears will not be abated.

For the Glory of Jesus, who has blessed with every spiritual blessing,

David Benjamin Hewitt

Rev. S. Michael Huffman said...

Hello everyone-

I am currently doing a study on the relationships of the Baptists to the reformation. I have found a lot of good information on the fact the most of the early Baptist sided theologically with the reformers. That the founders (Conrad Grebel and Felix Mantz) were really out of the Roman Catholic Church and denied the fact that man's nature was affected by the fall. That the Peter Waldo's followers practiced confession, absolution and the Mass. No wonder Martin Luther did not attend some of the Baptist Churches in his day;not to mention the fact that the "good" Baptist already embraced many the reformers Doctrine. Those that are contrary to the Reformered faith would be suprised at this information. Does anyone have another good resources, preferrably a web site, with some additional information on the Baptists in the Reformation and a list of Baptists that were Calvinist. Thanks

Christopher Redman said...

Revival Now (Wes) -

My intellect and academic knowledge false way short of many who interact here. I'm a peabrain and a nobody compared to many, many other faithful men of God.

I'm still trying to figure out what Gene was talking about when he parsed my logical vs. illogical statements previously.

I believe that Dr. Reynolds understands the terms I used and that is why I did not define them.

But a brief explanation of terms -

1) monergistic regeneration = God's the only (mono) one working to independantly and sovereignly bestow regeneration on the sinner who is completely passive.

2) synergistic regeneration = a cooperative effort between God and the sinner working together (synergy) to accomplish the regeneration. (Such is the belief of arminians who champion a person's decision as the reason for their regeneration.)

3) semi-pelagianism = this idea embraces the concepts of pelagius regarding free will but does not go to the extent that pelagius did in negating the necessity of grace in salvation. (Most who affirm free will fall in the arminian/semi-pelagian idea salvation)

4) Conditional election = that God's choice in election is based on who He knew would believe based on their own free will decision. Those who would believe are the ones God elected.

I'm not sure if you wanted me to define the terms or not. I apologize if I misunderstood.

As far as calvinist being accused of being "proud" and "over educated" may I share advice given to me by pastor Roy Hargrave.

"If anyone can sit down with an open Bible and show me where I have not preached the truth as it is in the Word of God, I will repent publicly."

This combination of strength and humility is powerful when confronted by those who don't understand the truth. The charge of arrogance and pride are always charged at Calvinists as though it is spiritual to be ignorant of the truth and admit it. The charge is made because everyone knows that both sides can't be right. When a Calvinist insists that his side is the right side according to the Word of God, that's pride. (I disagree)


revival now said...

Chris R,

I hope you didn't misunderstand, I am certainly NOT calling you proudful. I know that sometimes when we present what we believe to be the truth people misunderstand that as arrogance. We can't help that. It's only that I feel like I have just fallen off of the ol' potato truck around here sometimes and was wondering out loud. I do think you for the definitions, however. Though I can work my way through most of them sometimes it is nice to have them defined in context.

As to Dr. Reynold's "lesson in logic" I'm not sure as to what he meant either. Nor am I convinced that Calvinism is a system simply because the pieces fit so nicely (and biblically I might add). I have just always believed that when God speaks, He speaks clearly and logically. And when when He speak - it is often simply that folks like me can say "thanks!"


John said...

Hi Rev. S. Michael Huffman,

You've asked two separate questions: Baptists deriving from the Reformation and Baptists who were Calvinists. On the later, I would strongly suggest Dr. Nettles "By His Grace and For His Glory."

But when looking at the Reformation, beware of Estep's fatal mistake. Estep tried to say that modern Baptist (in America) were some how derived from the Reformation era Anabaptists. I read his book and came away impressed by the fact, however, that he was not able to show in direct lineage, no causality. He simply asserted it. The Anabaptists believed in believer's baptism and separation of church and state and so do we so there must be a direct derivation. (That seems to be the reasoning.) But he never proved it.

What you should do is take the "founders", men we know had a direct impact on the Baptist movement, and trace their theological heritage back. I believe we will see that probably the key individual is Isaac Backus, a Baptist leader who planted many Baptist churches in the wake of the Great Awakening and in the early national period. He was originally a typical Congregational late-era "Puritan" who became part of the "Separates" (the "new lights" in the Great Awakening) and then the Baptists. He was clearly an Edwardsian Calvinist. Having established that, the link is clear between the Baptists in America and the New England Puritans.

Greg B said...

Dear Joe:
I agree with you very much on the continued tenor in our posts here. Doing anything more than noting the progress of the arrangements is largely couterproductive. Well, actually, aside from pointing out what we think are errors in thinking, it is becoming just an excuse for us to put sinful thoughts into sinful words and actions.
However Joe, having been a student at a seminary where the Big Dogs were anti-Calvinist, the debate (if controlled) can be a great thing as long as James and Tom maintain composure. Then again we might be giving our brothers a chance to really p.... well, sin.
Thinking as your bros keeper is a little... confusing.
Time to pray again.
Grace Alone,

Benji Ramsaur said...

To all,

I think inappropriate theological "name-calling" (if I may call it that) has happened from both sides.

I think five pointers (which includes myself) should not call SBC non five pointers Arminians. I say this because SBC non five pointers do believe in Substitutionary atonement and eternal security (which is Calvinistic). Classical Arminianism rejected both of these doctrines.

Five pointers do not go along with the hyper-calvinists in their rejection of "duty-faith". Therefore, 5 pointers should not be called hyper by non five pointers.

However, I do think the non five pointers that adhere to Dr. Patterson's theology are leaning in the Arminian direction but do not go all the way.

Dr. Patterson seems to accept free-will (in the Arminian sense), election based on foreknowledge, general atonement, and resistable grace.

Dr. Patterson seems to reject total inability, unconditional election, limited atonement, irrisistable grace.

For those of you who know Dr. Patterson's theology better than I, please correct me if I am wrong about what he believes.

I think accurate language would be nice from both sides.

Pastor Chris Humphreys said...

In an odd sort of way, I'm encouraged by Dr. Caner's statements. I'm saddened, disappointed, bewildered as well, but I've always heard that if you give certain people enough rope, they will hang themselves with it.
Dr. Caner is hanging himself with his tongue, and it is becoming more and more obvious to people. We need more staunch anti-Calvinists to express their venom, if for no other reason to show to people what they are really made of, and where their own brand of theology takes them. And if all sovereign grace people will take this opportunity by being gracious in return, and for the most part, just sit back and let the anti-Calvinists implode on themselves, we might see the providential movings of God of bringing about the reformation and revival we have been craving and praying for years. Keep letting Dr. Craner and others like him speak. It is a free country, and they love to exercise their cherished free will. Sure we can respond when we need to, but always do it so in such a way that we don't stoop to their level. Take the high road, and in the end we will end up better off, with more people joining us along the way. Show people that we really, really, really believe in sovereign GRACE.
If we want to have our debate, then I have no wisdom to impart on that issue, except that we should give Dr. Caner and others as much time to reveal themselves as they want. At the end of it all, it won't be our clever argumentation alone that will win the hearts and minds of people; it is when we speak the truth in love and ask God to reveal these truths to others like He did so with us.

FrancisTt said...

I'd personally love to see a debate between all parties but would hope that the format would be such that it would allow the debate to actually accomplish something. From what I have read of the White versus Caner drama, it appears that the suggested (demanded) debate format provided by the brothers Caner is only one and a half hours "Long Table Parlimentary". If my experience with this form of debate is correct, it means that either side can interrupt and redirect the line of argumentation or thought at any time. Gentlemen, this sounds a lot like total chaos given the behavior that has been exhibited prior to the event actually happening. Given that only one and a half hours is given for discussion (Half of the time usually given for such endeavors), the format is 2 on 2 instead of the originally suggested debate of simply White v. Caner, all evidence points to a Caner strategy of eliminating as much time possible for James White to actually develop an argument against the arminian position.

From the debate format, the thesis statement, and the moderator being used, it appears as if the Caners are trying to make sure that they are in a situation where attitude and brashness can trump scholarly discussion. I can't see where any of this is going to be productive for the truth.

John said...

Dear Pastor Chris Humphreys,

Hi. I appreciate your comments and agree with much of them. However, I don't go along with the main point that if we're just sweet in return, people will see the truth and accept it.

Let us not forget one of the key Biblical doctrines about humanity: he is totally depraved. The assumption that when people just see the truth, they will naturally take to it is a nice dream. Somewhere on this blog, I think, someone quoted John Bunyan to that point. But it's just not Biblical. People do not naturally love the truth. As by nature God-haters (Romans 1b), they are also truth-haters. They are of their father, the devil, the father of lies, and like their father they love lies. People can be shown the truth in the best means possible and still reject it. Indeed, they can chose to crucify the Truth when He appears in human flesh.

IN HIS NAME said...

What Pastor Chris Humphreys posted is what I have seen in the past 20 years. People who can't see GOD'S TRUTH after a while start to look very foolish. Pray for their eyes to be open to see and their hearing is able to hear.
GOD is revealing a lot of GREAT Things each and every day.
A Brother in CHRIST

peter lumpkins said...

Hey Brothers,

I have a question: how is that for so many on this blog, Arminianism is bombarded with the perpetual charge that it belongs more in line with philosophy than Biblical theology but when Calvinists dances little diddies on philosophical speculation, he gets the get-out-of-jail-free-card?

One commenter--genembridges-made this incredible, philosophically- charged statement with not one voice of protest:

"...but I would say that logic is, in point of fact an attribute of God, since truth is one of his attrbutes. His mind grounds the laws of logic that make the universe intelligible to us..."

Well, what do you know? I thought all along the Bible made the universe intelligible to us? I guess I was wrong...

Is there a double standard operating here, Brothers? The Calvinist can philosophize when he pleases but no one else can?

have a good evening. I am...


SavedandSure said...

Distinguished Doctor, I think some of your bloggers (names withheld to prevent litigation or worse) are extremely argumentative and very loquacious.

They probably love the sound of their own voices when they speak and the formation of their words when they write.

Without doubt many could express themselves in far less than half the words they use when speaking or writing.

But sadly, DISCIPLINE in the use of words is avoided by a multitude of US.

Argumentative and loquacious
bloggers but God loves them all ~ and some of us are trying to love them, too.

It's not easy!



John said...

Hi Peter and all,

Actually I agree with genembridges: God is the Creator and therefore the laws of nature, including of logic, are His work. The Puritans called nature God's "other book." That's why they were instrumental in sparking science -- while also being Biblically faithful.

Renee said...

Brother Tom,
I must say after reading the exchanges that have gone on between Dr. White, the Drs. Caner and yourself, I have to agree with those who say leave this sinking ship. It is obvious that is what the Caner's want and it is only their loss for now. I am shocked and sadden to see a Christian, a so called Dean of Theology none the less, behaving like an unbeliever and reverting to such a level of personal attacks (with no indication that they know they are wrong and looking to repent). How much has Christ already been dishonored by thier behavior? SOmetimes we have to back away so that our brother will not continue to dishonor the Lord (regardless of how it makes us look at first). In the end, glory will come to the Lord.

You are in my prayers.

peter lumpkins said...

Brother John,

I do not believe I asked for all who agreed with the statement genembridges made to raise their hand. Rather, I asked how it is when Calvinists entertain philosophical speculation it is acceptable but when non-Calvinists do so, we hear a chorus of protests coming from the choir boys?

Have a beautiful Lord's Day. With that, I am...


John said...

HI Peter and all,

No you didn't but it's an open forum.

The answer: Because when "Calvinists" (i.e. Biblicists) do it they do it either on, toward, or along side Biblical teaching. But when Arminians do it they often do it to counter or distract from Biblical teaching. For example, over on the "Regeneration" thread you'll see someone assuming that where there is a command there must be the ability to obey. The conclusion: all the scriptures that speak of us being "dead" in sins, every inclination being only evil, our hearts desperately "wicked", etc., are rejected in order to sustain an unBiblical anthropocentric philosophical presupposition.

There is nothing wrong with philosophical theology per se (although I have little taste for it and I think most "Calvinists" in our day have too much of a taste for it). The problem is when the philosophy takes one away from the teaching of scripture, which it does in Arminianism.

peter lumpkins said...

Brother John,

I appreciate your open concession that Calvinists do indeed employ philosophy. Up until this point in my conversations, I just assumed all Calvinists did was exegesis. Thank you!

As for your suggestion that Arminianism exclusively employs philosophy to counter or overturn Scripture--but, of course, Calvinism never does--is quaint, not to mention optimistic, but much too simplistic. Indeed, I do not know of any serious Arminian who would argue their case on philosophy alone. Do you?

Have a great evening. With that, I am...


John said...

Hi Peter,

I'm up too late!

You: "Indeed, I do not know of any serious Arminian who would argue their case on philosophy alone. Do you?"

Yes! Arminianism is entirely built on a philosophy foisted unto a collection of scriptures taken out of context. So while they may appear to ocassionally use scripture, really they only use it as long as it agrees with their anthropocentric philosophy. See my example above. The inference that with a command must come the ability to obey is no where spelled out in scripture. It is a philosophical assumption -- one based on man-centered presuppositions. Arminians just can't imagine that human will is not at the center of the universe. Biblicists understand that God's will is.

Another example would by my (probably foolish) attempt to debate Brad Reynolds at his blog. He simply would not engage scripture. He kept repeating that people choose and that's that. He would not submit his basic anthropocentric assumptions to scripture.

The only Calvinistic teaching that is an example of using a strained theological reasoning to ignore or twist scripture is the use of "covenant theology" to teach infant baptism. But since I'm a baptist, I don't follow the Calvinists on that. Indeed, I believe that Baptists make more consistent "Calvinists" than do our paedo-baptist Reformed brethren. That is, we're more consistently Biblical.

Other than infant baptism, can you name an example of "Calvinism" using philosophy to negate the clear teaching of scripture?

It's past my bed-time!

Rev. S. Michael Huffman said...


Thanks I will focus on that! Just for clarification, my point of the anabaptist was not to link american Baptist to them. One of the confrontational arguments I receive is from Armenian Baptists ism "Why didnt Martin Luther link up with the Baptists?" The answer that I am finding is that the Baptists were no where around. The AnaBaptists, of course, did not come until Jan. 21 1525, and the Waldensenes were practiceing many of the things that Luther was trying to get away from. Anyway, thanks for the information.

peter lumpkins said...

My Brother, John,

Thank you again for your response. And, I do hope you slept well...

I do not believe, John, you actually meant what you wrote. You said: "Yes! Arminianism is entirely built on a philosophy foisted unto a collection of scriptures taken out of context. So while they may appear to ocassionally use scripture, really they only use it as long as it agrees with their anthropocentric philosophy."

Please, my Brother. Either a) you are totally oblivious to the scholarly work of well-known men like Scot McKnight, Grant Osbourne, and I.Howard Marshall, none of which build their soft-Arminian conclusions on philosophy or b) you are biased.

It cannot be a) for the simple fact that, my brother, I've read what you write. You are definitively anything but not-well-read.

So, I know you must therefore be aware of prestigious NT scholars who come to their conclusions based upon their understanding of the text itself, not philosophy proper.

Thus, my only recourse in my little e/o is b). You, my Brother John, are biased. And, that should not surprise either of us for I too am biased. I'm biased, You biased, all God's chillen' is biased :)

However, it is not the bias that bothers me. Rather, it's the proverbial blindness to the bias we bring to the debate that weakens us, in my view.

And as for Calvinism "employing" philosophy to argue cases other than anti-Infant Baptism issues, I need only point to the endless comments on this blog that suggest that "either one is a 5PTer or they all crumble to the ground" Why is that statement so confidently made? Because of their "logical relationship", is it not?

If the Elect is unconditionally elected, it necessarily follows that the Elect will necessarily persevere, etc. Nice good, Calvinistic philosophy.

Oh well, have a great day, my Brother. And, if you get a chance, click on Scot McKnight's site sometime where he exegetically rather than philosophically engages Calvinistic conclusions. I think he may challenge you more than most of the commenters around here who, like myself, remain weak in Biblical languages.

With that, I am...


John said...

Dear S. Michael Huffman,

You're right! My point, though, is even if we were to see a lot of "Baptists" around the Reformation, we still have to establish a link (actually a chain of links), establishing our connection to them. Estep and his followers assumed a direct ancestry of American Baptists to European Anabaptists. But they never proved it. While I assert that a direct link, through Isaac Backus, can be established for Baptists in America to the Puritans.

scripturesearcher said...

Dear Distinguished Doctor:

I have noticed that their apparent weakness in the knowledge and understanding of the Bible.....

.....AND human history and philosophy (especially in the area of logic).....

.....has not prevented some from being very, very verbose in their blogging on your site.

From your Founders Blog many of us receive both helpful information and hilarious entertainment.

Thank you, Dr. Ascol - thank you!

Proverb 17:22

John said...

Dear Peter,

Slept fine, thanks!

Yes. I meant what I wrote and wrote what I meant: "Yes! Arminianism is entirely built on a philosophy foisted unto a collection of scriptures taken out of context. So while they may appear to ocassionally use scripture, really they only use it as long as it agrees with their anthropocentric philosophy."

Just because some nice people with Ph.D.s use select portions of scripture to counter what scripture as a whole teaches, doesn't really prove anything -- except perhaps the "T" is TULIP. It's not bias if its true.

I heard Grant Osborne at TEDS while a student there. It didn't surprise me that he's also an advocate of "egalitarianism" (what they call "feminism" at Fuller, where they're safer). The habit of negating scripture in one area tends to spill over to others.

peter lumpkins said...


As you so wish, Brother. To simply dismiss as if there is no credibility in anything non-calvinistic demonstrates very nicely how much of a bubble so many Calvinists possess. Quite illusionary, in fact.

But I understand completely why you would not desire to engage these guys. It's pretty dog-gone intimidating to be on a blog where one remains in the minority...

For me, I simply refuse to dwell in a confined little bubble where I cannot learn from those with whom I disagree. Not enough oxogen for me, I guess.

Have a great evening and enjoy your nice bubble :).

With that, I am...


Rev. S. Michael Huffman said...


Thanks so much for your help i this. I did some research from Isaac Backus and worked my way back to Roger Williams. The confrontation that I face in my area is Armenian preachers saying, "Calvinism is not Baptist", sounds like Ergun. So I traced the reality of Baptist all the way back to the first Baptist Pastor to set foot on Amercian soil to be a Calvinist. Thanks so much!!!!

Rev. S. Michael Huffman said...

Dear Peterfrank-

Pordon the interruption between yourself and John. However, I must say, because I use to be an Armenian, that Armenianism is totally based emotional based arguments. Whereas Calvinism is based on a solid exegesis of Scripture. I have not meant an Armenian yet that has been able to prove their point without interjecting some emotional based arguments. They use John 3:16, 1 Tim 2, etc. as verse in their favor; however, when you exegete these passaged correctly you find that they are saying the exact opposite. So Armenian arguments are philosophy and not the text of the Bible.

Christopher Redman said...

Peter, John, and Brothers,

I think that I am the culpret who started the whole logical/illogical/philosophical discussion.

May I add the following comments and clarifications -

1) The origin of the doctrine of free will is a philosophical origin begining with Pelagius. Pelagius went to the scriptures to formulate and/or justify his premise that man must be free, whence the charge of philosophy and/or eisogesis.

2) Gene Bridges is obviously intelligent and beyond my lowly brain functions. If Gene wishes to delve into the realm of logic, so be it. I have determined that the Bible reveals both logical and illogical (in the natural) truths. Therefore, whether the subject is logical or illogical, I will be content to fall on the side of what the Bible says because God is absolutely sovereign and yet man is fully responsible. (logical or illogical)

3) As far as Calvinists delving into philosophy, I have already admitted that R.C. Sproul is very addept at this. However, many of his conclusions are not substantiated with scripture. (ie: the origin of sin and paedobaptism)
Therefore, I am leary of delving to deeply into philosophical arguments rather than simply relying on sound exegesis and the authority of scripture.

Now, I think this particular thread is now over. That is unless Ergun shows up with a "Calvinism is a virus that kills every church it infects comment."


reform the sbc said...

I know of one Calvinist leader at Liberty. He is an excellent teacher and has a prominent position there. I heard him preach at a conference not long ago. I will not mention his name. I'm sure he is watching this issue very closely.

peter lumpkins said...

Dear Rev., chris r and Brother John,

This is really cool, Brothers. I for one am glad this stream possesses a comical ending. I sure hope Dr. Ascol is monitoring this :D

First, one has John who, when faced with serious NT scholars who base their soft Arminian conclusions on exegesis of the text rather than philosophy, dismisses them as "nice guys with a PhD."

Oh, I forgot! Osbourne is an egalitarian as well; so that knocks him out possessing any credibility whatsoever. I can only assume Brother John implied Arminianism leads to egalitarianism.

Uh-Oh! This may be serious. Somebody better get word to Professor Roger Nicole that he cannot be Reformed and egalitarian at the same time! If Arminianism leads to egalitarianism, it very well could be that egalitarianism could lead to Arminianism. Dr. Nicole may be in grave danger of becoming Arminian, not to mention possessing no present credibility because of his egalitarian stance! Who'll make the call?

Then we have Rev. saying all Arminianism is is emotion. I'll let you, Brother Rev., argue with Brother John how if Arminianism is only raw emotion how can it also be exclusively philosophy, which usually is based on reason. I think I smell a tiny, little inconsistency between you two guys. Go for it!

Or did you? No, in fact, you ended by saying that Arminianism was purely philosophy? I'm so confused :...(

Finally, we have my good Brother chris r, agreeing with Brother John's earlier concession that Calvinists do, in fact, employ philosophy in their theological argumentation. Thank you, chris r, for your candidness as well.

For to hear so many on this blog, one would come to the conclusion that all Calvinists do is pure, objective exegesis of the text. But wait a dog-gone minute! That's exactly what Rev. just said! I guess you and Rev. will need to talk about that :)

Yes, I do agree with you, chris r: it's time to put this horse out of its misery. The only regret I have in ending this stream, however, is that I so wish these last few comments could have come earlier.

Nighty-Night. With that, I am...


reform the sbc said...


You must speak. Do you recognize this quote? (It is yours)

"Reformation must come. We must not be duped into thinking that it will do so without real costs. May that reality not make us flinch, but make us resolved to endure hardship like good soldiers, for the glory and honor of our King."

The road will not be easy.

David B. Hewitt said...


I also, like many others, enjoy your posts here. Please never leave. :) You provide many good insights with a touch of much needed humor as well.

About the issue of those of a more Arminian slant not doing exegesis and relying on more on emotion and philosophical appeals -- this too has been my experience.

Often, prooftexts are cited to prove their position without meaningful interaction (John 3:16, 1 Tim 2:4, 1 John 2:2, 2 Peter 3:9 are favorites). Of course, to be fair, we sometimes do that too, but more often than not, and certainly more often with the average "Calvinist" as opposed to the average "Arminian" we are prepared to explain the text in its context, thereby providing exegesis.

Not only that, but more often than not when I've talked/chatted/posted with people of an Arminian slant, the objection of "why bother to evangelize if what you say is true" comes up. The answers are of course in Scripture, though the question is usually asked in such a way as to make my position seem at least slightly rediculous rather than being an honest inquiry into the actual reason.

I am not of course saying that there are no "Arminians" who dig into the text at least a bit to try to prove their assumptions -- but I maintain that is what they are doing. Rather than distancing one's self from our presuppositions before coming to the text and having our beliefs molded by what we find, I remain convinced that the "Arminian" when dealing with soteriological passages will come with his preconceptions and insist a text must mean what it does. Do "Calvinists" do this at times? Of course, and may God rebuke us when we do. However, the truths of the Doctrines of Grace indeed are found in the text of Scripture, (The Gospel of John has all five), and, presuppositions or no, the proper exegesis of Scripture in its context will reveal them.

Anyway, this post has gone on long enough. :) Thanks again for your input, brother.


John said...

HI S. Michael Huffman,

Thanks! But I'd caution you against the Roger Williams track. I'm not sure you can make a connection from Isaac Backus to Roger Williams. I think that's a wrong way to go. For one, Williams played a very, very minor role in the history of Baptists in America. He helped officiate at the founding of the first Baptist church in America (probably more because he was governor of Rhode Island than a real Baptist leader). He attended for a few months and then dropped out. That's it. That is not the conduct of the so-called "father of Baptists in America." Because he really is not that.

ON the other hand, Isaac Backus, converted out of a Congregational church, becoming a "Separate" (a revived congregationalists in the wake of the Great Awakening), and soon a Baptist. He spent decades preaching, planting Baptists churches, and advocating for Baptists distinctives while still holding to Edwardsian Calvinism. I believe he's the true "father of Baptists in America", not Roger Williams.

I believe it is because of this connection that Baptists today have inherited many of the distinctives of the New England Puritans. For example, the insistence on local church autonomy, congregationalism, calling representatives to denominational meetings "messengers," etc.

John said...

HI Peter,

I don't think I could safely be accused of "living in a Calvinistic bubble." I have degrees from four different Christian institutions (and taken classes at a number of others), not one of which is overtly "Reformed."

Truth by its nature happens to be exclusive. I just don't believe that someone who supposedly interprets scripture and comes out with Arminian conclusions is doing real exegesis. Nor is someone who takes the phrases, "Man is the head of woman . . . I do not permit a woman to teach or have authority over a man" doing exegesis when he comes to feminist conclusions. I don't have to wait until I've read every Arminian (or feminist) "scholar" before I come to that conclusion. After all, I've read the Bible. Nice book!

John said...

Dear reform the sbc,

Hi. Yes, reform the SBC. But if Pastor Ascol helps (even involuntarily) creates a video/DVD, a heavily edited version of the "debate", that becomes an embarrasment to "Reformed" Baptists and a fund-raising tool for those seeking to further Arminian revivalism, how does that help Reform the SBC?

peter lumpkins said...

Dear Bros. David & John,

To you, my Brother David: Thank you. I too enjoy being here with you guys. And though I would not proudly wear the label Calvinist, I have much in common with you guys. I seek truth as do each of the commenters with whom I have conversed. And furthermore, I humbly respect the prominence of Scripture Founders Calvinists thoroughly maintain.

The road I refuse to travel, however, is the road that leads to, at least in my view, lop-sided understanding of Scriptural Revelation. I believe that both Calvinists and non-Calvinists wear their own set of interpretive spectacles. Does that mean that both are right? Emphatically no. It does mean that at times, both can be definitively wrong.

And, it's only epistomological prejudice, from my vantage point, to argue the other guy is ALWAYS wrong as do Calvinists toward Arminians. Making Arminianism the Tar Baby of all error is utterly ridiculous, in my view. Further, to maintain as so many seem to do that free-will was evidently an invention of Pelagius stands highly suspect, historically speaking.

And, know, my Brother David, I agree with you that there exist weak views from "average" believers from both sides of the aisle. Granted. However, in my recent comments I was not speaking of those who are not familiar with nuanced arguments on either side.

Rather, I mentioned eminent NT scholars like Osbourne, Marshall and McKnight who conclude from NT exegesis their soft Arminian understanding being borne out of the text itself rather than philosophy or emotion.

And, to charge them with such, without the least bit of engagement with their exegetical conclusions, stands, in my view, similar to the constant chorus of howls and protests from this blog toward non-Calvinists who do not understand Calvinism because they do not read Calvinists. Go figure :)

To My Brother John: I am impressed you have four earned degrees from credible institutions and studied other courses as well. Know, my Brother, the question here is not your credentials.

But your neat & very convienient little assumption about Arminians not being able to fairly exegete Greek is, a priori, John, precisely why those on the opposite side of the aisle many times refuse to engage Founders Calvinists. "Why should we bother?", they reason. "Nothing we say counts."

This argument is very much like the one Supernaturalists encounter from Naturalists, who a priori, deny miracles could take place because, of course, there is no such thing as a miracle-working Deity.

I am struck that this is coming on Dr. Ascol's watch. Were I him, I'd be deleting this conversation :) For many, conclusions like these hurt the cause. It very much reveals that no real dialogue is either desired or necessary from "across the aisle." No amount of conversation will help.

O.K. I really do want this stream to die. I'm willing to pull the trigger myself, but not if we keep getting such juicy tidbits to entertain :)

By the way, Brother John: Did you call Professor Nicole and ask him how the heck he could be so right about Election but so dad-gum wrong about egalitarianism?

Have a great Freedom Day brothers. With that, I am...


Tom said...


No matter how hard you try, you just can't pull away, can you! This thread seems to have the same kind of appeal that my momma's famous "inch cake" had when I was young. No one wanted to admit that they desired more than one piece so we just kept returning to cut off "a thin inch" at a time. We just couldn't stay away.

So I fully understand why you keep returning here, despite your opinion that I ought to shut this thread down. Perhaps a review of my comments policies would help remind you of my approach to this. I allow a great deal of leeway because I believe that this approach allows for a more honest picture of how people on various sides of an issue actually think. Granted, I could make "our side" look much better by not allowing certain comments to be made or to remain. But my goal is not to promote a "side" but truth.

So, brother Peter, I hope this brief explanation will keep you from being "struck" by what you read--or contribute--here in the future. After all, we would hate to see you injured because we do value your participation in the conversation.

peter lumpkins said...

Dr. Ascol,

I hope you are experiencing a gracious Freedom Day.

Actually, I was only joshin' about you shutting down the stream...Just a little funny...Indeed, I would be surprised if you did.

From what I have gathered here, and even though I have not personally met you, I honestly believe you stand a fair man (and that is no joshin'!). Integrity seems ever to breed fairness. And, from my view, Dr. Ascol, your integrity stands tall.

And, yes, you are right about me. I'm often reminded of Moma's cocanut cake for which I always felt I became a guilty sucker for a horrid stomach ache. But it was worth it!

Thank you again, for allowing me, sort of a theological misfit, to remain a part of your community.

Grace. With that, I am...


John said...

Dear Peter,

Hi. It's a very modern (technically "post-modern") way to think: 'How can you call those who don't agree with what you call truth wrong?' But alas, I still hold to that archaic notion that if one is not right they are, sad to say, wrong. Simple minded, I know.

You wrote: "By the way, Brother John: Did you call Professor Nicole and ask him how the heck he could be so right about Election but so dad-gum wrong about egalitarianism?"
I don't know Nicole. But my main systematic theology professor literally "wrote the book" on "egalitarianism." (It's called feminism when they're safe, like at Fuller; they call it "egalitarianism" as a propaganda tool when they're still trying to convince us simple-minded people that somehow, on the one hand, God inspired the words "man is the head of woman" (etc.) and yet really meant "there are no differences in sex roles." Almost 20 years ago, when I first started at Fuller and went jogging with a woman pastor and told her I don't believe in women pastors, she told me, "You'll see." Twenty years later, I still don't see. But, as you've seen, I'm simple minded.

By the way, I'm reminded of how a common assumption is really untrue: that those who believe in depravity or the wrongness of those who aren't right, must be living in some kind of "bubble" (as you put it). Jonathan Edwards wrote against a prominent "liberal" theologian of his day (whose name right now escapes me). Edwards lived on the frontier, coming into contact with various kinds of people, including native Americans with no Christian heritage. His adversary was from the "bubble" of an English village. In our day, recently I read Mark Dever commenting that pastors older than him tend to think we can just get along with the feminists (and others); pastors younger than him know better because they've really encountered it, sometimes even been persecuted about it. When one's beliefs encounter adversaries they tend to either collapse or to be hardened and sharpened.

With that I am . . .
going to set off fire-works.

IN HIS NAME said...

I see you now have your own BLOG.
Welcome to Blog World.

Rev. S. Michael Huffman said...


Thanks for the reply; although I did not call Roger Williams the "Father of the American Baptists". I dimply saiod that he was the first Baptist Pastor to set foot on American soil and that is an historical fact; and he was a Calvinist, right along with the rest of the Baptists (Isaac Backus, William Carrey, Andrew Fuller, John Bunyan, etc) and you can make a historical link with those men. Also I did not read a reply from you on my reply the philosophy of Armenianism.

Dear Peterfrank-

Pordon the interruption between yourself and John. However, I must say, because I use to be an Armenian, that Armenianism is totally based emotional based arguments. Whereas Calvinism is based on a solid exegesis of Scripture. I have not meant an Armenian yet that has been able to prove their point without interjecting some emotional based arguments. They use John 3:16, 1 Tim 2, etc. as verses in their favor; however, when you exegete these passages correctly you find that they are saying the exact opposite. So many of Armenian arguments are philosophy and not the text of the Bible.

Byroniac said...

Hi! I just wanted to gently intrude and point out the fact that the proper spelling for the theological position referenced above is Arminian. Armenian refers to an inhabitant of the country of Armenia in Southwestern Asia, east of Turkey (and close to Iran), or the language of that country, etc. So, technically it's possible to have Arminian Armenians and Calvinist Armenians both battling it out theologically, in the Armenian language no less. :)

Incidentally, you can read all about Armenia here:


Christopher Redman said...

The thread is dying ever so slowly...but I must state something -

Peter is amazed that we assert that Arminians do not exegete scripture "consistently" but employ philosophical objections to Calvinism as well as emotionally charged objections and arguments.

John finally stated something that I think helps further our dialogue. The charge that we are making toward Arminians and "free will" type baptists is specifically in the area of soteriology.

I know that there are good biblical scholars on many subjects like innerency, trinity, christology, ecclesiology, etc, etc who are arminians. The difference is they fail themselves in consistent, sound exegesis when it comes to soteriology.

So here is my charge -

1) Arminians employ different standards of exegesis when dealing with nearly every other doctrine or text than they do when they "exegete" (eisogete) texts dealing with soteriological issues, especially Calvinistic texts.

2) Arminians (free will baptists) either take a stand on "conditional election" by foreknowledge of who will choose Christ or they take the position of "we just can't know for sure". (In other words, the issue is so complex and has so many difficult issues and texts that we must simply admit our inability to know the truth in these matters.)

3) Finally, because these good arminian's fail at consistent standards of exegesis in the realm of soteriology, they are likely to drift into various forms of liberalism over time, especially in the area of salvation. (ie: pragmatic, modern evangelism)

This, I believe, is the basis for the liberalism that swept the SBC around the 1920's through the recent conservative resurgance.

Perhaps this will make Peter a little more comfortable if he knows that we are not necessarily attacking every bibilcal conviction of arminian scholars. (Only their inconsistent ones!)


peter lumpkins said...

Dear rev. s. michael huffman


With that, I am...


Rev. S. Michael Huffman said...

I echo Chris' remarks. Every Arminian that I have spoken with all the way to Dave Hunt are good Biblical scholars until it comes to some points of soteriology (Calvinistic parts). They usually do so by butchering their "exegesis" of Romans 9 and John 6 and other texts. They are good scholars, but imploy emotional argumentation and not the exegesis of Scripture when trying to refute Calvinism.

Rev. S. Michael Huffman said...


I ?? your ??! I took it from your blog that you are an Arminian. I was stating that I have spoken to Arminian's up including Dave Hunt and have never heard a clear exegesis on the text of the Bible to refute Calvinism, only emotional philosophical ideas. If I misunderstood your position, I apologoze.

The first have of the entry was on your assumptions made about the early Baptist with typo's ---sorry

peter lumpkins said...

My Brothers chris r & John

Thank you for your post. I am afraid my eyes are tiring of this particular thread. However, I cannot complain. Dr Ascol rightly reminded me it's I who keeps coming back :)

May I, my brother, remind you of your words in an earlier post. You said: "My friend Peter (whom I've never met except on this blog) insists that Arminianism is not philosophy nor is free will philosophy. I believe otherwise." Not attacking Arminianism at every turn, chris r?

And, if you will indulge me, I also will offer an earlier comment of our Dear Brother John: "I just don't believe that someone who supposedly interprets scripture and comes out with Arminian conclusions is doing real exegesis. Nor is someone who takes the phrases, "Man is the head of woman . . . I do not permit a woman to teach or have authority over a man" doing exegesis when he comes to feminist conclusions. I don't have to wait until I've read every Arminian (or feminist) "scholar" before I come to that conclusion. After all, I've read the Bible. Nice book!"

With all respect, chris r, your and John's statements about not "attacking" Arminianism at every juncture simply do not mesh with the tenor of your entire arguments on this thread.

In addition, Brother John's blatant refusal to accept as "scholars" those who come to their soft Arminian conclusions based upon the NT text itself demonstrates, quite nicely, in fact, that the concession you desire to offer, chris r, that "Perhaps this will make Peter a little more comfortable if he knows that we are not necessarily attacking every biblical conviction of Arminian scholars. (Only their inconsistent ones!)" stands sorta, shall we say, an empty hull.

Nor can I for the life of me understand Brother John's total lapse in knowing Professor Nicole who, not only is perhaps the leading systematic theologian for Reformed Baptists, but also is a staple in the Founders community, having been for years a staunch supporter of the Founders vision, even serving as contributing editor for Founders Journal.

Could it be that, given Nicole's "inconsistent exegesis" when it comes to passages dealing with Election and passages dealing with Headship, Nicole serves no good purpose for the point in question? Namely, the charge, chris r, that Calvinists are consistent exegetes and Arminians aren't.

So, since Brother John convieniently refuses to identify with Professor Nicole, chris r, I will ask you: How is it that the Reformed Nicole can also be an Egalitarian Nicole? Is he an inconsistent exegete?

If so, then one of the leading Reformed Baptist theologians stands under the very same accusation as you offer toward Arminians, chris r. That is, he is an inconsistent interpreter of God's Word. Isn't that what you now want to say of Arminians?

If he is not inconsistent, then, perhaps some of you guys are! Perhaps you need to rethink your stance on Headship. Hey! I know. You could start a Foundresses organization! I'll let all my moderate SBCers know :D

Let me let you in on a little bitty secret, chris r: I think we ALL are inconsistent interpreters of God's Word. And we all need checks and balances to assist us in overcoming that yet-to-be-fully-redeemed-leftover-from -the-Fall aspect of ourselves. Namely, our simple humanness, our mannishness. Someone wrote here that Southern Baptists love to pin the donkey's tail on Calvinists for all the church troubles we possess. I can say, after a mere six weeks on this blog, so many Founders Calvinists want to pin that same donkey's tail on Arminianism for every error in God's Church. I think it's time to rethink that.

Professor Roger Olson's new book Arminianism, to be released in the Fall, should be fodder for every SB for a lot of days to come. It deals emphatically with The Myths Toward Arminianism. I hope to offer a pre-release rewiew within the next couple of weeks on my Blog (sorry for the PR, Dr. Ascol:). Hopefully, there will be lots of discussion about exactly how James Arminius has become the Tar Baby for Semi/Pelagianism.

Oh me. I need another cup of coffee, chris r. Perhaps we can get together sometime and fellowship over some. Don't you live in North Georgia?

With that, I am...


reform the sbc said...

Hi John,

I understand your comment about a heavily edited video harming the cause more than helping.

I think this could be handled, as some have already suggested, by a signed contract and video approval from both parties prior to release.

I also think that it is important to have a real discussion. One where the goal isn't to prove one party is smarter than another, but to honestly teach and bring glory to God. If the discussion is not held with this in mind, then it is pointless.

I would like Tom to teach and discuss this issue as often as possible. I hear the Calvinist view misrepresented constantly in the Southern Baptist denomination.

They honestly believe that Calvinist's don't believe we need to witness!! I'm so tired of hearing that.

Witnessing is at the heart of the Southern Baptist denomination. No wonder they come at us with teeth. The more that Tom can explain that witnessing is at the heart of Calvinism, the more we will be accepted and not looked upon as "false teachers".

peter lumpkins said...

Dear Rev.

Not a problem at all, my brother.

I like what Hershel Hobbs once allegedly said of the Second Coming of Christ: Heck, I've preached it every way! :D No, I'm definitively not an Arminian.

But neither do I think Arminianism is either philosophy alone or emotional rantings of deceived preachers. I simply have respect for integrity in scholarship wherever I find it. And, I have learned much through the years from say, I.Howard Marshall's astute commentary on Acts in the Tyndale series--despite the fact he is a daring Dissenter on Calvinism--especially Apostasy, which he, demontrates (to his satisfaction, at least) through meticulous exegesis of The Hebrews' warnings. His approach is simply exegetical, definitively not philosophy.

And if the commenters on this blog can engage his arguments with the text rather than proclaim empty assertions that "all Arminian exegesis is bad exegesis," then I think our dialogue could go much further down the pike of real understanding.

Unfortunately, some of the commenters here have conceded their real assumptioms when in dialogue with non-calvinists: no Arminian scholar is a "real" scholar. They are just "nice men with a PhD".

Beside the fact that it follows, that if true, then the "dialogue" is totally disingenius, for me, Rev., that stands as utter nonsense. And, I guess you could say, I see my mission in God's invisible Church, at least imminently, as exposing such nonsense.

Have a grace filled day, my brother,Rev. With that, I am...


John said...

Hi Peter,

You have proved the revolutionary idea that . . . people of all kinds are inconsistent. Most of the theologians from church history that I look up to are paedo-baptists. I currently attend a PCA church because I feel more at home there than I would a dispensational, revivalistic Baptist church. Inconsistencies abound.

Nicole is wrong to be a feminist. So was Paul K. Jewett before him, my systematic theologian.

So what's the point?

With that I am . . .
going to have lunch!

John said...

Dear reform the sbc,

Hi. I agree with your post completely! Nothing really to argue about but just to add:

YOu: "I would like Tom to teach and discuss this issue as often as possible. I hear the Calvinist view misrepresented constantly in the Southern Baptist denomination."

I agree with that especially. But some forums may not be useful for furthering understanding. If Dr. Ascol is debating Patterson, it will probably be a good discussion. But if it's Caner, and at Liberty, and with a friend of Caner as "moderator", and with no agreement as to what to do with recordings, etc., that might be a step backwards. I agree with you but I just want to caution to be careful.

John said...

Hi Peter:

You: "no Arminian scholar is a "real" scholar. They are just "nice men with a PhD"."

At least I said they're "nice"! Give me credit!

I never said "no Arminian scholar is a "real" scholar." The best scholar I ever sat under -- as a student and a TA -- earned a Nobel Prize in economics. He was one of the greatest scholars on the planet. But I wouldn't follow his theology, especially not his soteriology. He is a secular Jew.

Would you follow his soteriology? If not, does that mean you think "no [secular Jewish] scholar is a "real" scholar"?

By the way, he was also a very nice man!

Rev. S. Michael Huffman said...


I do not think anyone had said, least of all me, that Arminians do not use scholarly methods in their interpretation of Scripture. The assertion was made that it is at a exegesis to exegesis debate that they fall short on this subject . Their "exegesis" on this subject is based on tradition and not on the Bible and it is hard to prove tradition by the Scripture. I have NEVER been engaged in a discussion with an Arminian that they did not use more emotion and eisegesis as the basis of their theology on this subject. I praise their accurate handling of the Word, but they do not handle much of it accurately when it comes to soteriology from predestination to the Preserverance of the Saints.

My brother, beware of the reference to the invisible to Church. In order for the Church to be a Church, it must assemble and you nor I have ever seen an invisible Church assemble. God Bless Yet you still have not answered my questions!

peter lumpkins said...

Dear Bros. Rev. & John,

Hope you had a great afternoon. Know this is my last go at this on this stream (unless I get a question from Rev.).

To John: The revolutionary idea proven, my dear Brother, is your inconsistency. And, that's a great feat to demonstrate for Founders Calvinists! Of course, I would be disappointed if you agreed with me :)

To Rev., my Brother. I am confused on three fronts:

1) If you have kept up with the conversation at all and cannot discern that the general tenor of those with whom I have conversed about whether Arminian NT scholars actually are scholars without the qualifying " " around the term, which ,of course, all know what the " " means, I give up the point.

2) While I avoid trying to answer every question that passes my way for the simple reason of volume,I always try to disern the most important or pressing ones. Yet, even given that, I have not the slightest idea, Rev., what question I have yet to answer. I looked once again at the posts you left for me, but I see no question at all.

3) Thank you for the warning about employing the very Protestant idea of "invisible church", but I have no intention of discarding it.

Indeed, the Magisterial Reformers, particularly Zwingli, made a decisive break from Rome who, following Augustine's fuzzy ecclesiology, had through the Medival period, equated the Kingdom of God with the Visible Church.

Luther, Calvin, Zwingli & Co. rightly challenged that faulty equation, arguing from the NT, particularly from the Apostle Paul's Cosmic Church in Ephesians, that there exists the visible Body and the invisible Body of Christ.

And, my Brother, if you do not follow that particular ecclesiology, know this: you have my full permission (smile).

I trust our conversation has been helpful to our edification in Christ. Good Night, my Brothers. With that, I am...


p.s. Rev, if I missed the question, I'll be glad to engage that still...

Christopher Redman said...


(I've updated my blog profile from chris r to Christopher Redman)

I know you are trying to quit and something tells me that we will be engaged in discussion again in the near future.

I have but one final comment. I know that you are rejoicing in what appears to you to be contradictions on behalf of founders calvinists. However, "I" do not speak for all founders calvinists. I do not know John any better than I know you. I believe that John and I may agree on many things but I am certain that we don't agree on everything.

Therefore, let me clarify a point that I have assumed was understood from the beginning - The charge that Arminianism is based on philosophy and emotion is only in the realm of soteriology and in particular where Arminianism rubs against Calvinistic verses.

I have not and do not believe that all Arminians are worthless scholars in every area of Bible study. I am only concerned with their lack of consistancy in exegetical standards to every other text in the Bible except the ones that contradict free will. (Which, by the way is the majority of the NT)

For example, Arminians insist that Romans chapter 9 does not speak of election of individuals to salvation but only election of nations to service. However, the text does not in any way validate that claim. It is an erroneous notion inserted because the Arminian cannot accept that God elects individuals to salvation unconditionally. This is inspite of clear, explicit biblical revelation to the contrary!

This is only one example. There are many, many, others. The second concern is what the lack of exegetical consistency produces in the practical outworkings of our faith, in particular the work of evangelism and regenerate church membership.

I do not know if you were understanding this from the beginning or not but I fear you have not because you have trumped a contradiction from me that I am not aware of.

God bless,

John said...

Hi S. Michael Huffman,

Here's an idea: You could ask Peter why he doesn't like me! ;)

peter lumpkins said...

Brother Chris & to Especially the Very, Very Likable Brother John,

My stomach hurts. I do not know if it's the double bowl of Vanilla Ice Cream I just woofed down with a banana and a huge piece of Angel Food Cake or it's why we cannot go forward here :D

I do sense we have overcome a hurdle. Up until this point, the distinctions have been absent pertaining to the very vocal condemnation of Arminianism per se.

Go back and read the comments, guys. Only recently have there been distinctions made toward non-calvinistic hermeneutics. Rather a non-qualified, Tar Baby approach has been the norm. That stands as the precise reason I splintered on this particular stream in this direction.

Indeed John wrote this: "Yes! Arminianism is entirely built on a philosophy foisted unto a collection of scriptures taken out of context. So while they may appear to ocassionally use scripture, really they only use it as long as it agrees with their anthropocentric philosophy."

And I remind you about your earlier comment, Brother Chris, "My friend Peter (whom I've never met except on this blog) insists that Arminianism is not philosphy... I believe otherwise." No such distinction as you now state is in these blanket assertions about Arminianism.

And, of course, know this, my Brother: I am not at all rejoicing that such contradictions may be exposed. Indeed, Brother John was right: if an inconsistency was exposed after all--and, I believe it was--then it is a cause to rejoice but not really against one another.

For me, I am not in this conversation to win but to understand. Rather the rejoicing comes when we can all see that not only that none of us--least of all, me--is immune of contradiction, but that when our robes are stripped from us, we are then free to dress ourselves more properly. I think that's a good thing, don't you, Brother Chris?

Finally, I am also sure we will continue the dialogue. And, given the vocal and convictional nature of the Founders Community, I am sure the dialogues will be interesting indeed. With that, I am...


p.s. Dear John. With Gump, I will say "I lok you uhlot" (smile)

Rev. S. Michael Huffman said...


Good Morning, my brother. Like yourself I have not been around on this blog the full time of the writting, so I may have missed some keys points that you made. I was simply stating my observation on some points that I saw you write. So if I may seem to lack the understanding of some comments that were made it is because I have just made comments on certain ideas of Theology I believed you to be saying.

You may make a decision not to disregard the Roman term "invisible" Church if you want to. However, beware that term is totally contrary to anything that the Apostle Paul wrote in Ephesians on the subject. Paul speaks of the Church being a local visible body. Not only is it contrary to the writtings of Paul, it is also contrary to the meaning of the Greek term itself. "Ekklesia" means an assemble. Peter, have you ever seen the invisible church assemble and if so who makes up this "invisible" church? Rome had a particular notion, I trust you do not share the same. There is your question and why dont you like Christ?

Rev. S. Michael Huffman said...

So Sorry Peter, my cut and Paste messed up!!! Why dont you like Chris, not Christ!!!! So Sorry my mistake!!!

John said...

Hi S. Michael Huffman,

I was going to let Peter have the last word on this thread -- especially since in it he said he really did like me! But . . .

If I understand you right, I don't think you've characterized Rome's ecclesiology right. As I understand it, it is not Catholicism that holds to an "invisible church" but evangelicalism. In Catholicism, "there is no salvation outside the church," the church is "the mother," etc. Although recent Catholic theologians have to nuance it a good bit, in traditional Catholic theology you had to belong to the visible Catholic church in order to be saved. It was Wycliffe (I believe) who challenged that, saying that one can be a part of the "invisible church," known only to God.

It's true that "church" is an unfortunately word (retained by King James to lend support to his established church); it really means "assembly." But in most evangelical theology one can be a part of the assembly God has gathered, the "church" that only He knows perfectly who is really a member and who is not. After all, there are people who are (for a time) members of our visible churches who are not members of God's one, true, universal, invisible church.

I still liked the way Peter was going to conclude this thread!

Rev. S. Michael Huffman said...


I hold to the belief that the "universal" church, is in fact, a term founded in Rome, not in evangelicalism. Now, a lot of evangelicals believe in a universal church. However, undestand that this theology completely ignores the meaning of the Greek. As you and I both have pointed our, the term means "assembly". Therefore, for a Church to be a Church in the Biblical sense, it must assemble. A "universal" Church has never and will never assemble so it is not a true Church. Acts 2 tells us that there are two things that are necessary for Church membership and that is receiving of the Word and then Baptism. Acts says that after that they were added to the Church. The point is the Barptistic understanding of the Church is in agreement with what Paul said in Ephesians and in aggreement with the original language. Again, the "universal" Church cannot be a Church because it has never assembled and that is a requirement according to the original language.

God Bless

Curt Treece said...

I'm still trying to figure out why it is that Peter doesn't like Christ. I heard that somewhere on the internet, so it must be true.

peter lumpkins said...

Dear Rev. & Brother John,

Leave me be! (Just kidding):D

First, Rev., I did not know I did not like my Brother Chris. Surely, because I only mentioned that Brother John was especially so very, very likeable, that you did not deduce that I implied Chris wasn't.

I think that's called somewhere hopping to unwarranted conclusions. I did not mention that Dr. Ascol was especially very, very likeable but that does not mean I do not think that he is (I honestly do not feel defending a point like this is particularly helpful on theological threads like these).

Now to Ecclesiology. I really am not too much excited to go into yet another conversation with a theo-horse we could climb on and ride in a number of different directions.

However, I will answer your initial concerns, Brother Rev. and then leave the riding to you and Brother John. Giddy-up!

First, My Brother John, we agree! Hurray! :D I indeed could not agree more that the Reformers in general and Evangelicalism in particular have discerned the NT distinction Roman Catholicism ignored via Augustine's very vague stance on the nature of the Church.

Some feel Augustine's Magnum Opus, The City of God, gave as much ammunition to this idea than any other.

For Rome, the Kingdom of God was just as visible as the Roman Empire or a Germanic Empire. Consequently, the equation of the Kingdom with the Church Visible.

And, Brother John, I'll split the difference with you on Wycliff. Indeed while Wycliff planted the seed for the NT distinction between visible and invisible, it was Zwingli who actually birthed the distinction going back past the Church Fathers to the NT itself (compare Phillip Schaff's History, Vol.6,Chapter 5, Section 41 with Vol.8, Chapter 5, Section 45).

Unfortunately, Rev., you would be hard-pressed to find an Evangelical scholar--and especially a Reformed one--who would argue your case for you. The distinction is so well-fixed in our sub-culture, I am amazed my passing comment drew a caution.

Moreover, Brother Rev, if the visible and invisible Church is particularly a Roman Catholic phenomenon, I, for one, am totally perplexed as to why the Reformed theologians behind the Westminster Larger Catechism were so proactive in teaching their children Rome's Catholicism.

Take a peek there, my good Brother, beginning with say, question #62, and move right along to at least 15 questions with Scriptural answers to the distinction between visible and invisible.

And to hold, as do you, Brother Rev. that "[the invisible church]is in fact, a term founded in Rome, not in evangelicalism." is simply untenable historically, theologically and linguistically. Zwingli the Reformer not Rome first used this distinction.

I have to confess about the only Christian community that may still argue--and I do mean MAY, for I simply do not know--for no valid distinction between visible and invisible is the old Landmark Baptists--the Closed Communion guys I knew in West Kentucky.

And as for Paul not speaking of any Church except the local one, brother Rev., I can only post my gentlemanly disagreement with you and leave it at that. For I am afraid you will have a hard time convincing folks like myself who cannot for the life of themselves see how either the inspired Apostle could preach about a visible, local Church for whom Christ gave His blood (Acts 20.27) or fail to see the significance of the Cosmic Christ as Head of the Cosmic Church (Eph.1.20-23).

Finally, you asked if I have ever have seen an Invisible Church? Well, duh, my Brother. Moma tanned my hide more than once growin up and, I assure you, that helped me not to become so much of a fool :D

If it is the Invisible Church, the answer is: No, of course not. It's invisible to me and, I presume to you as well, which, of course, is exactly why you have never seen one!.

However, that doesn't mean that because something's invisible, therefore, the something does not exist. I think you will agree with me that neither of us have ever seen God, wouldn't you?

Neither does it imply that something invisible cannot be seen--especially to God. That is exactly the point of the invisible Church; God does see it...

Let's change the question, shall we: Have I ever assembled with the Invisible Church? Yes! Every Lord's Day. For there in the visible, local, outward Body of Christ--which, by the way is mixed with tares and wheat, consequently being fallible--is the invisible, non-local, inward Body of Christ--which, by the way is unmixed only composed of wheat, consequently being infallible. It happens everytime I step foot in my home Church.

I hope this helps in understanding a little further about what goes on in this very much worn out brain. Have a gracious day, my Brother Rev.

Happy Trails, and with that, I am...


peter lumpkins said...

Hey Brother Curt Treece,

Yeah, Brother Rev. simply hit ann extraa keyy whenn hee typedd hiss questionn. II forr onee amm gladd II neverr doo thatt. Doo youu?? :)

Have a peace-filled day. I am...


Rev. S. Michael Huffman said...


Leave you alone? Not Yet!!! The bulk of your comments danced around one of the main issues that I brought up. As well, your comparison of God being invisible and the Church being invisible will not fly. The Greek word theos (God) does not mean invisible or visible. However, the Greek word ekklesia (Translated Church in every Greek manuscript I have, over 20) means "assembly" which requires visibility. I could exegete for you the passage of Paul, but space will not permit, I will leave that to the Holy Spirit.

Yes, the reformers and I would have disagreed on this subject. I am a total reformer in regard to the doctrine of salvation (all 5 points), but we would not have agreed here. Not a big deal to me, but I just like asking to get other people's thoughts. Brother, think about--

1) You want to use Eph. as a "proof" text, I am afraid that is a straw-man argument. The book was written to, drum roll please, a LOCAL, VISIBLE body. Philippians was written to a local, visible body, Colossians the same, Romans, the same, Corinthians, the same, Galatians, the same, etc. etc, yada, yada, yada.

2) I encourage you to read Acts 2 and what the Apostles required for entrance into the local, visible Church. 1) Received the Word 2) and were baptised, "the same were added to the Church". What Church? The LOCAl, VISIBLE BODY in Jerusalem, not a invisible universal Church. The same LOCAL, VISIBLE BODY the Apostle Paul was called to preach out of. The same local, visible body that his mentor, Anaias, was a member of. So your illustration about you being in the "invisible" church every Sunday does not fly either. You mentioned because of tares and wheat. According to the Apostles, the tares are not even apart of the Church; they have not received the Word nor been baptized.

As you see, historical figures may say one thing but the Scriptures say something completely different. Only when history and Scripture agree can we believe history.

Have a GREAT Day, Brother

Christopher Redman said...


Again, I, and I believe many founders on this blog, assume that you understand when we use the term "Arminian" we are referring to the theological ideas dealing with the doctrine of salvation.

The primary arminian rub we have is the concept of free will and conditional election. (Along with, I suppose, general atonement, resistable grace (resistable calling), and one's ability to fall from grace.

I guess I am still a little amazed that your defense of arminians has been on the basis of non-soteriological issues. The whole point is on the subject of soteriology and how the flawed theology in this area affects every other part of the church including evangelism and regenerate membership.

Biblical Soteriology is the whole point between Arminian and Calvin.

So, when I say that Arminianism is built upon philosophy, I am specifically dealing with the doctrine of free will and the other accompanying doctrines - conditional election, etc.

As far as our local visible church vs. the universal church, I must say there is both a local visible church and a universal invisible church. However, the true local, visible expression of the church is always apart of the universal church but (in heaven) the universal church is not always apart of the local, visible church. (ie: saints that have died)

It's not that Rev. is wrong about the "assembly", it's that apparently he hasn't recognized the reality that the church is comprised of all the elect of God, redeemed by the blood of Christ, from all ages.

Unless we are to assume that the church ceases to exist after the second coming, what will we do with the innumerable multitude in Revelation? How about Revelation 5:9? Granted, they were all part of a local church at one time but in heaven they are apart of the universal church consisting of all the redeemed.


peter lumpkins said...

Dear Rev.,

Tell you what. You seem very sincere in your desire for dialogue. I will go a few more posts, but not here. No one on this stream is interested because not only is that just another "rabbit" but this stream is now moot since Dr. Ascol has moved on.

But if some here are interested, they can follow us to your blog and blog away.

I think you will appreciate the comments :)

With that, I am...


David B. Hewitt said...

I'm still following it. :)


TheMDude said...

Seems to me that this terminology issue has been blown all out of proportion. Ergun is just using slang terminology that most of the blogging community uses all the time. One can pimp a blog by mentioning it in your blog. When one looks for references on the web, we see many references to pimping something. Ergun teaches undergraduates at Liberty and is exposed to slang that most seminary students may not relate to. Dr Falwell promotes many worthwhile conferences for free in the Journal and on his email list. You guys are hung up on terminology here - don't do textual analysis on what someone says publically!

FrancisTt said...


Dr. Caner has chosen to use language that is common to the modern "Hip Hop" culture that dominates the generation y scene. His use of the word "pimp" in this sense would be no different than if I, after meeting Dr. Ascol and others at the Greensboro SBC convention, referred to my wife as my "ho" or my "b****". Sure, kids use this language and terminology all the time. Their use of this crude and sexually charged language does not mean that men who preach and teach the Word of God should automatically use these terms to appear "cool" in front of their students or others. Coming from Dr. Caner, a fourty year old, balding, chubby, man, it makes him look like a complete poser.

SavedandSure said...


Thanks for your answer to the THEM DUDE...

Many of us agree with every word in your note....

And it saved some of the rest of us from attempting to educate THEM DUDE.

You did a brilliant job!


FrancisTt said...

I am suprised on the flow and direction of this thread. Dr. Ascol laid out his issues with Ergun and whether or not he was going to continue on with the plans for the debate. Ergun made some pretty ridiculous and immature statements. Dr. Ascol questioned why he would put himself in a situation where the other side has a hard time conducting itself in a mature and Christian manner. Somehow we got off track with more Arminian v. Calvinist argumentation and some rather curious historical statements from our Arminian friends. Whatever the case may be, I thought the original intent of the thread was to lay out the issues of decorum and lack of maturity displayed by Ergun Caner regardless of his theological positions. I thought Ergun's defense of his statements was juvenile at best.

If this so called debate is filled with this sort of insintance to use these sort of childish tacticts to look cool in front of the students at Liberty and if the format remains Dr. Ascol has reported, it looks like this will be a win for the caners and a lose for the reformed side because the issues that need to be addressed will never be allowed to be debated. <---- major run-on sentence.

Thats my two cents.

ErgunIsMyHero said...

It just wouldn't be fun if I didn't weigh in on this post! So, since I am starting at comment #307, I need to cover a lot of ground. :)

First of all, I DO agree with Deb Jones that Caner's use of the word "pimp" is really him being "hip". Remember the days when "gay" meant "happy"? As for the fun poked at your Calvinism cruises, I find it funny that everyone is so up-in-arms about it. For anyone that does not have a BIG ministry - there are a lot of employees that have taken the vision and run with it. there are lots of mouths to feed. Of course we sell things. Dr. Falwell has a big payroll that he is burdened to meet. Do you think that gives everything away free? NO! And to believe that is absurd.

Second, as a member of TRBC and Alum of Liberty, I would ask for a little more respect of Dr. Falwell in this post as he is not the one that this debate is about. And for those who would like to misrepresent him especially with comments pertaining to PTL, you would find that it was a dark time for Dr. Falwell, who was trying to help out a friend who fell.

Thirdly, as close as I am to the ministry, suggesting that we would edit anything is absurd. Anyone who watches the Old Time Gospel Hour or Live from Liberty knows that NOTHING controversial is ever do you think Dr. Falwell has stayed in trouble with the liberal media for so many years? And did anyone see the Rabbi that spoke at Liberty who believed in abortion? And how well Dr. Falwell handled the comments?

Fourthly, there are times that I am disappointed with how Dr. Caner responds...however, are you so blind to not see that Dr. White's emails are just as "pitbullish" as Caner.

As for the whole debate...I actually agree with Steve Camp. Both sides are acting like children. Do it outside of here.


Steve Camp said:
In conclusion, I appreciate your words in how you confronted Dr. Caner per his qualifying this as a “pimping.” A most unfortunate poor choice of words and words that fail to demonstrate Christlikeness and show a sobriety of Christian spirit.

I confront YOU, Mr. Camp, in the same manner for these types of comments that come up on your site like this one from your DaVinci Code movie review:

The experience of watching this movie is kind of like listening to the Caner brothers: it is wearisome, nonsensical, arduous, historically twisted and in the end is unproductive.

Pot, meet Kettle.

I'm sad that you are still my wife's favorite artist.


jdlongmire said...

"pimping" versus satirical criticism?

profanity versus punditry?

reasoned opinion versus bloviation?

c'mon EIMH - your wife sounds very discerning... :D

ErgunIsMyHero said...

JD - it is not about the word...but about the spirit behind the word.

FrancisTt said...


You had made the comment above that " First of all, I DO agree with Deb Jones that Caner's use of the word "pimp" is really him being "hip"" and to some degree my comments previous to yours would agree with what you said. The difference is that posing as being hip or cool in this situation was completely out of place in this situation and ends up just being a juvenile excercise.

You then made the comment " Remember the days when "gay" meant "happy"? ". EIMH, there is a huge difference here. The etymology of the word "gay" never was previously understood to mean "homosexual" but was simply used over time to soften the understanding of what qualities or mannerisms were exhibited by homosexuals. In this case, the word "pimp" is rooted from the french "pimper" meaning seducing in outward appearance and dress. The english uderstanding of the word for the past 500 years has been defined as someone who finds and manages clients for a prostitute, engaging her in prostitution, often street prostitution, in order to profit from her earnings. So, while "gay" used to mean happy and has been used by a minority group to describe their characteristics, "pimp" has already been defined and has not changed in meaning - not even within hip-hop culture. Just accept the fact that Ergun, your hero, probably could have used a better choice of words.

You also said " Thirdly, as close as I am to the ministry, suggesting that we would edit anything is absurd. Anyone who watches the Old Time Gospel Hour or Live from Liberty knows that NOTHING controversial is ever do you think Dr. Falwell has stayed in trouble with the liberal media for so many years? And did anyone see the Rabbi that spoke at Liberty who believed in abortion? And how well Dr. Falwell handled the comments? " . So far, I believe either Founders or Alpha Omega have not had their video and audio rights protected as of yet so all of this, on both sides, is pure conjecture.

You then say " Fourthly, there are times that I am disappointed with how Dr. Caner responds...however, are you so blind to not see that Dr. White's emails are just as "pitbullish" as Caner." EIMH, the difference is that Dr. White and Ascol both have tried to communicate with the Caners about very simple matters which have been only evaded and dealt with in less than honest and forthright communications. If you read the entire log of the conversation, you seen one side trying to find common ground and agree on terms and the other making unilateral decisions and demands while doing so in an ad hominem fashion. EIMH, just look at Tom's blog entry that started these posts. Your hero responds in an immature and boastful fashion.

Lastly, I think Camp was right on target with his comments about the Caners. EIMH, his description of the Caners is what got this whole thing started back months ago!

ErgunIsMyHero said...

francistt, you know, I'll never get back those 2 minutes that it took for me to read your exegesis of the word "pimp".

I am still truly floored that you cannot recognize that the spirit in the attack of both sides is wrong.

Reading Dr. White's emails back to Dr. Caner reminded me of the little bald guy in "Princess Bride" that kept trying to convince Wesley that he had tricked him to drink the poison because of his vast wit and knowledge. And then at the end of his ranting and laughing falls over dead.

It is obvious that Dr. White wants a fight. which I personally think is wrong. If I was to seriously look at Caner's responses, I would say that he doesn't want to fight...he is enjoying watching you and your side flip out.

So, no matter what the outcome...both spirits are wrong. And don't be so blind in your contempt for the other side that you cannot admit wrong on your own.

You should heed the words of Peter Frank in this post.

FrancisTt said...

ErgunIsMyHero said...
francistt, you know, I'll never get back those 2 minutes that it took for me to read your exegesis of the word "pimp".

Francis says...
I'm sorry that you don't recognize the fact that your analogy in defense of Dr. Caner's own words and actions was faulty. You might try just admitting that Dr. Caner used a poor choice of words. Dr. Caner should have apologized to Dr. Ascol. Instead he just used it as an opportunity to insult Tom Ascol.

ErgunIsMyHero said...
I am still truly floored that you cannot recognize that the spirit in the attack of both sides is wrong.

Francis says...
I don't think that I have ever complemented the "spirit" that the dialogue has descended to at this point. I am not going to defend Dr. White's continuation of answering a fool according to his folly. I believe I stated clearly that unless the Caners start behaving civilly in this exchange (which would be a true miracle)that Dr. Ascol and Dr. White should pull out. However, it has been Dr. Caner that has twisted facts, history, and has tried to manipulate the process. Dr. Caners last salvo with Dr. Ascol should put the nail in the coffin for this event.
ergunismyhero said...
Reading Dr. White's emails back to Dr. Caner reminded me of the little bald guy in "Princess Bride" that kept trying to convince Wesley that he had tricked him to drink the poison because of his vast wit and knowledge. And then at the end of his ranting and laughing falls over dead.

Francis says...
Anyone who has read the entire exchange between Dr. Ascol, the other participants on this board, and Dr. White with Caners from the very beginning could not in any way agree with what you just wrote. Everyone on the previous thread, in which I was tempted to participate but did not, attempted to treat both Caners with respect even though they acted like tempermental children. In Dr. Caners continued writings with Dr. White, I see nothing short of arrogance and nonsense from Dr. Caner. In my opinion Dr. White would have been wise to cut off the conversation with Caner long ago as Caner has shown himself to be an unreasonable man.

ergunismyhero said...
It is obvious that Dr. White wants a fight. which I personally think is wrong. If I was to seriously look at Caner's responses, I would say that he doesn't want to fight...he is enjoying watching you and your side flip out.

Francis says...
EIMH, if you would kindly look at WHO it was that burst onto the Founders blog and started picking fights and making bold assertions: Dr. Caner. Its all there for the reading EIMH. The full witness to this mess shows clearly that Dr. Caner is trying to manipulate the details and outcome of this whole thing.

ergunismyhero said...
So, no matter what the outcome...both spirits are wrong. And don't be so blind in your contempt for the other side that you cannot admit wrong on your own.

Francis says...
Which one of us uses the nick "Ergunismyhero" ?!?! I have consistently stated that to continue to try and reason with the Caners is futile. EIMH, you need to go back and read the entire transcript from the beginning.

ergunismyhero said...
You should heed the words of Peter Frank in this post.

Francis says...
With all respect due PF, no thanks.

David B. Hewitt said...

hello all:

Dr. White has sent another email that he posted on his site to try to get things resolved and this debate underway.

You can view it here!

David Hewitt

ErgunIsMyHero said...

Francis says...
Which one of us uses the nick "Ergunismyhero" ?!?! I have consistently stated that to continue to try and reason with the Caners is futile. EIMH, you need to go back and read the entire transcript from the beginning.

It's a nick that got me noticed when I came in here. That's all. It would be like a Duke fan getting into a UNC blog with the name "Coach K". I don't blindly follow...its a name. And you would see that from my comments, I am trying to draw the conclusion ON BOTH SIDES that this is ALL in the wrong spirit.

That's OK francis - I guess you have the free will to be wrong.

David B. Hewitt said...


Fair enough on the name. :)

However, you mentioned "free-will." What exactly do you mean by it, and what biblical support is there for it?

I am not sure if I've ever asked that latter question of someone directly, but I am curious on the matter for sure.

David Hewitt

ErgunIsMyHero said...

David B. Hewitt said...
However, you mentioned "free-will." What exactly do you mean by it, and what biblical support is there for it?

I am not sure if I've ever asked that latter question of someone directly, but I am curious on the matter for sure.

I guess Mr. Hewitt that you have to look at certain words like, "called" or "calling" which I am talking about on my own blog right now. (insert horrible ad for own blog:

"Called" or "klhtoV" in the Greek = invited (by God in the Proclamation of the Gospel) to obtain eternal salvation in the kingdom through Christ.

So if "called" = "invite" or "invitation", than the conclusion can naturally be that an invitation can be rejected or accepted. So, doesn't that show "free will"?

So, what I am saying is this: "free will" may not in the words be found in the Scriptures...but it's message is obvious in the scriptures. Just as, "Total Inability, Unconditional Election, Limited Atonement, Irresistable Grace, Perserverance of the Saints" are not terms found in the Bible, but conclusions that you have drawn from the scriptures.

I only agree, as of now, with the Perserverence of the Saints because the scriptures are clear that one of the main "jobs" of the Holy Spirit as stated in Ephesians 4:30 - "with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption."

Oddly enough, "freewill" offerings were made quite a bit in the OT.

And Revelation says:

Revelation 21:6
And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely.


Revelation 22:17
And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.

ErgunIsMyHero said...

one last poke to prove my point on the "spirit" of the argument:

Francistt said:
Coming from Dr. Caner, a fourty year old, balding, chubby, man, it makes him look like a complete poser."

Is this "spirited" well or would JDLongmire come to your rescue and call this satyrical criticism.

David B. Hewitt said...

Well, indeed there is a response to what you've posted. :) I have it, but I wanted to ask a question first:

How are we defining "free will"? If we don't agree on a definition, then we're not going to get anywhere with this.

My take on it is this: "Free will is the belief that man is autonomous over his being, that he makes his own choices:
1.) outside of God's decree
2.) because he is morally able to make any choice set before him"

How about yours, or will this suffice?


ErgunIsMyHero said...


But, we're coming up on a weekend... and my wife hates when I sit in front of my laptop all weekend. :)

My definition of Free Will will be taken straight from Romans 2:12-16 - but more specifically verses 14 and 15. Man apart from God and knowledge of God, can and will make decisions because it is in his "nature" (or Greek "fusei" or"fusiV" = nature, the nature of things, the force, laws, order of nature) and "conscience" (or Greek "suneidhsewV" or "suneidhsiV" = 1. the consciousness of anything 2. the soul as distinguishing between what is morally good and bad, prompting to do the former and shun the latter, commending one, condemning the other 2a. the conscience) to know good from bad.

I'll be mirroring our comments on my own site. I think that this was a great question by you. It was the first time someone challenged me seriously.

Let me also invite PeterFrank to weigh in if he wants on my side...hopefully :) and Dr. Ascol and Ynottony on yours - since I find that they always show respect in their points of view.

And let us ALL agree to disagree. I do value what you say. And am always open to sensible talk. But I will match sarcasm with sarcasm when prompted :P So lets stay away from sinning on either side of this question.

ErgunIsMyHero said...

WARNING! I do not have a Seminary degree, I am not in school for it and I do not pastor any churches. I love Jesus, the Bible and truth. And I love to talk about all 3. :)

David B. Hewitt said...


Well, we'll need to do a bit of exegesis on Romans 2:12-16 then to find out what Paul was talking about when he said law in that case. :) So, we'll work on the definition for a bit. I definitely want that to be sorted out before we start getting into exegesis of the other passages you mentioned (not to mention the reference to "free will offerings").

I doubt Dr. Ascol will weigh in simply because he is very busy with important family matters at the moment.

YnottonY may very well do so, and if he does, I'll be civil. (VBG)

Something you said in that last comment though I thought was wonderful and wanted to point out:
"So lets stay away from sinning on either side of this question."

Amen to that, brother. May that be the rule to follow in ALL discussions amongst the brethren especially, but in any case anywhere. Sin is never excusable, no matter its context.

Speaking of context... I do have a couple of posts I'd like you to interact with at some point, perhaps after we get finished with our definition of "free will." Let me know if you are interested.

David Benjamin Hewitt

Micah said...

Where in the world does one get "free will" out of Romans 2:12-16? And on what basis can they claim it negates Romans 8:7-9?

Christ's word is definitive, you're a slave to sin, unless the Son sets you free.

David B. Hewitt said...


Also, I never said man didn't make decisions. I simply said that they were not "free" based on the definition that I provided. :) People make choices all the time -- like I'm doing right now to type this in here.

So then, we are in agreement (I think) that man makes choices and that these choices are real. However, are they "free"?

Also, if you summed up a definition from the previous comment you made, I missed it -- I apologize. Please restate it for me (definition of free will) since I clearly didn't catch it.


Micah said...

Keep in mind, the fact that sinners do not have a "free will" doesn't mean they don't make conscious choices every day to comply (though always in-part) to God's Law written on their heart.

Romans 2:12-16 is stating that the Gentile (and Jew) have conscious knowledge of God's Law, though veiled, in them even apart from the Scriptures. Yet we find, a few verses later in chapt 3, that there "is none righteous" and that all have "gone astray".

So, even when the Jew or Gentile consciously "chooses" to do something "good", they do so from a position of unrighteousness and thus remain under God's wrath.

The historical Christian belief in original sin does not mean that man has no ability to make decisions whatsoever, but that man's will is always inslaved to sin so as to be unable to do anything that would be deemed righteous and thus obtain salvation thereby.

Thus Paul writes in Rom 8:7-9 that the unregenerate are hostile toward God, do not subject themselves to the law of God, Cannot subject themselves to the law of God and cannot please God. Now, unless EIMH wants to suggest that Romans 2, 3 and 8 are all conflicting, contradictory statements, he'll have to accept that Romans 2 does not provide a foundation for an autonomous will.

Finally, denial of the bondage of the will places one in a precarious position of Pelagian heresy or semi-pelagian confusion. On my blog ( I have posted a debate wherein I and Mark Ennis debated two Church of Christ elders, they held the same beliefs that EIMH is purporting here. How then, EIMH, do you intend to avoid the pitfall of full-Pelagian heresy yet deny the enslavement of the will to sin?

Elias said...

So, Tom isn't doing the debate after all.

Tom, even though I'm a little disappointed that you won't be there, like you, I'm sure looking forward to see James take on the Caners by himself.


ErgunIsMyHero said...


Free will - man can choose to follow God and on his own free will choose to either accept or refuse the free gift of Salvation thru Jesus Christ.


Micah - the chapter is about how we live...which is something we choose to do.

ErgunIsMyHero said...
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Micah said...

Free will - man can choose to follow God and on his own free will choose to either accept or refuse the free gift of Salvation thru Jesus Christ.

According to Scripture, however, the man without the Spirit of God dwelling in him is "dead" in sins, Paul defines this spiritual death as being hostile toward God and enemies of God. Paul goes on to describe this state as one that cannot understand the spirutual things (1 Cor 2:14) and finally in Rom 8:7-9 expresses the utter inability of those who are dead in sins, slaves to sin, who's mind is set according to the flesh as being unable to please God.

Now, EIMH, when you read that those who walk according to the flesh "cannot please God", what is it that makes you state the opposite?

Man's will is enslaved to sin from the womb, and unless the person is brough to life anew in Christ, their wills remain slaves to sin. Thus there is nothing "free" about unregenerate man's will, except that it is free to sin.

Micah - the chapter is about how we live...which is something we choose to do.

Romans 8:7-9 is about the difference between those who walk by the Spirit and those who walk by the flesh. A very common theme in Paul's writings.

Paul specifically outlines in verse 9 the central difference between those who live according to the flesh and those who live according to the Spirit and that is " are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you..." and "...f anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him...".

This means that those spoken of in v7-8 are not carnal Christians, but the unregenerate. Thus, when Paul states in those verses that the person who's mind is according to the flesh are hostile toward God, do not subject themselves to the law of God, Cannot subject themselves to the law of God and cannot please God he is talking of those who do not have the Spirit of God dwelling within them... that is unbelievers.

Now how exactly can a person who is hostile toward God, and unable to please God or submit to His Lordship choose to do the opposite of what Paul explicitly states APART from the Spirit of God coming Sovereignly to live and dwell in their hearts?

David B. Hewitt said...

EIMH, many thanks!

You said:
"Free will - man can choose to follow God and on his own free will choose to either accept or refuse the free gift of Salvation thru Jesus Christ."

Ok, this is similar to the second part of my definition, which was:
"Free will is the belief that man is morally able to make any choice set before him."

So then, it would appear that we have agreed on its definition! Excellent!

This of course is opposed to the doctrine of Total Depravity/Total Inability. So, we have to ask -- does the Bible teach that we have such as will as defined above? The doctrine I just mentioned says that we don't. Probably the best text to use to this end is Romans 3:10-20, and I expound upon it a little in this post on my blog. EIMH, I would encourage you to look it over and welcome your thoughts. The Scripture seems pretty clear. Also, note each of the links in the post, especially one of the last that will take you to a passage in Joshua.

I maintain that the Bible teaches that our wills are not free, and that we'll only choose sin on own own. We are morally unable to choose Christ.

Looking forward to your response!


flawedcricket said...

The following words came to mind. Tom Petty is no theologian but it could be the Founders Theme Song. I hope I'm not adding levity to the discussion. I'm shooting for lightness but not inappropriateness.

"Well I won't back down, no I won't back down. You can stand me up at the gates of hell, but I won't back down.

Gonna stand my ground, won't be turned around. And I'll keep this world from draggin me down, gonna stand my ground and I won't back down.

Hey baby, there ain't no easy way out. Hey I will stand my ground and I won't back down.

Well I know what's right, I got just one life in a world that keeps on pushin me around but I'll stand my ground and I won't back down.

Hey baby, there ain't no easy way out. Hey I will stand my ground and I won't back down. No, I won't back down."

David B. Hewitt said...

Flawed Cricket:
Not too bad. :)


Janine R. said...

Will Langford said:
"So many people just make room for a person either being an Arminian or a Calvinist. Ergun simply states his point that he is neither, he is a Baptist."

And, what is that supposed to mean? I'm sure Charles Spurgeon, James Petigru Boyce, John Piper, Al Mohler, and William Carey would be quite amazed that being a Baptist is somehow antithetical to being a Calvinist.

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