Friday, December 01, 2006

Sage, Courageous Counsel from Dr. Danny Akin

Dr. Danny Akin, President of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, sent the following email today to the students of that school. It is full of wisdom and is an example of the kind of clear thinking and careful speaking that we desperately need in our day. I appreciate his concern for the next generation of ministers, specifically, that they would be free from some of the more egregious theological irresponsibility that characterizes so much of our contemporary scene. I applaud his conviction and willingness to speak plainly in warning and instructing his students.


A Plea For Theological Responsibility And Integrity

In recent days it has become painfully evident that many Southern Baptists do not "do theology" very well. Some are apparently ill informed and sloppy. Others trying to be cute, are bombastic and irresponsible. Despite our rhetoric to be "people of the Book, we do not know the Book very well. We do not grasp its rich theology. We are failing, and failing miserably, to obey 2 Timothy 2:15-16: "Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who doesn't need to be ashamed, correctly teaching the word of truth. But avoid irreverent, empty speech, for this will produce an even greater measure of godlessness."

I want our students to do better. I want you to do theology well. I want you to be clear and careful thinkers, gracious and competent teachers. I want you to be able to articulate a biblically balanced theology with conviction as well as charity. I want our Lord to give you the wisdom of knowing which theological hills are worth dying on, and which ones brothers and sisters in Christ can agreeably disagree, and yet love each other and work with each other in building the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ and reaching the nations with the gospel.

If you are wondering what are some of the careless theological statements I have in mind that has moved me to put this challenge before you, let me note just a few that I have heard coming from a number of different directions.
1) You cannot attract a crowd and build a church on expository preaching. It is true you can build a crowd without biblical exposition, but you will never build a Christ-honoring New Testament Church without faithful exposition of the whole counsel of God's inerrant Word. Further, a number of churches in our Convention have built both a growing church in terms of breadth and depth. It does not have to be an either/or scenario.

2) Evangelical Calvinism is an oxymoron. Anyone who knows church and Baptist history knows how irresponsible this statement is. William Carey, Luther Rice, Adoniram Judson, Jonathan Edwards, George Whitfield, Charles Spurgeon, James Boyce, Basil Manly Jr., and John Broadus are just a few of the great missionaries, pastors, and theologians who embraced a Reformed Theology. You may be convinced that Calvinism is wrong. However, do not make yourself look foolish by saying there are no passionate, evangelical Calvinists.

3) Five-point Calvinism is the same as Hyper-Calvinism. This statement again demonstrates historical ignorance. Hyper-Calvinism is a particular movement that appeared in the mid 1700's that rejects the mandate to share the gospel, denies man's responsibility to repent and believe the gospel, and in some instances runs perilously close to making God the author of sin. The overwhelming majority of five-point Calvinists would reject each of these positions. Spurgeon, himself a five-point Calvinist denounced in the strongest measure these errors in Spurgeon and "hyper-Calvinism."
Now, those of you who know my theology know I am not a five-point Calvinist. I believe Unconditional Election is not incompatible with "the free will and responsibility of intelligent creatures" (Abstract of Principles, art. IV), I affirm a Universal Provision with a Limited Application as it pertains to the Atonement, and I believe Effectual Calling to be a much better way to describe a significant aspect of the salvation process than Irresistible Grace. Further, anything that weakens the missionary passion of the church and the evangelistic favor of an individual is both dangerous and useless to the Church. Perhaps what some mean by "hyper-Calvinism" is extreme Calvinism or Calvinists with an attitude. I have met more than a few in my lifetime and to be sure, they were not of much value when it comes to the health of the church and reaching the lost. Still, we need to be honest with history and accurate with the facts. Mischaracterizations are of no value on any level.
4) Calvinists are worse than Muslims. The irresponsibility of this statement is tragic. It is one thing to disagree with your brothers and sisters in Christ on a point of theology. It is incredible that you would place them in the category of unbelieving militants who murder innocent victims in the name of Allah.

5) Jesus was a Calvinist. Theological foolishness is not limited to one theological perspective. In a Pastor's Conference a few years ago one of my pulpit heroes made this statement. Recently a friend of mine wrote a book with one of the chapters entitled, "Christ, The Calvinist." Such statements are wrongheaded, and yes, again irresponsible, at several points. First, the statement is historically anachronistic. Second, it is Christologically disrespectful. Jesus is the Lord. He is the King. He is God. Our Savior is the grand subject of Christian theology. So whether it is Whitefield, Boice (men I greatly love and admire), or whomever, to call Jesus a Calvinist is theologically misguided and pastorally dangerous. Yes, Jesus believes God is sovereign but He also taught man is responsible. Yes, Jesus taught, "No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him" (John 6:44), but He also gave us the Great Commission (Matt 28:16-20).

6) You cannot teach your young people theology. I have a simple and direct challenge: try it. Try it and see what happens. I suspect you will be wonderfully surprised. I suspect some of you will be significantly put to the test!
Though I could say much more let me conclude with a simple but helpful beatitude: "Blessed are the balanced, for they will avoid unhealthy extremes." This is true in doing theology. This is true in our speech. This is true for all aspects of the Christian life.

I love you and thank God for you. May you and your family have a wonderful and blessed Christmas.

Daniel L. Akin

83 comments:

Nathan White said...

Wow, I am impressed. Praise God that Akin, being a non-Calvinist, would speak out against some of the absurd things being hurled at the 5pointers. I admire this man for having the Godly character and conviction to speak out on such things, especially given the unpopularity and criticism that he might receive.

However, I do disagree with him on one ‘point’, though this might be my Calvinism speaking: it was John MacArthur who stood up at First Baptist Woodstock in Feb 2005 and said:

“I personally believe with all of my fiber that Jesus was a Calvinist”.

You should have seen the look on Johnny Hunt’s face and the gasps in the crowd when he said this –and I’m not joking at all. I wrote several blog articles about this statement at one point.

But the statement certainly is not the wisest thing to say in most circumstances, but in that building, at that time, I think it was excellent for getting people’s attention. Everyone respects MacArthur, Calvinist and non-Calvinist alike, so his use of that statement showed that he knew his audience, and that he wanted to shock them with the truth. Listen, if it can be biblically defended that Jesus taught the doctrine laid out by the convenient name of ‘Calvinism’, then the use of a statement like that might do some good in some certain instances (though, great caution is needed).

Great post, Tom. Thank you for sharing.

Mike said...

Tom,

Thanks for sharing Dr. Akin's letter. Currently I am a distance student at Liberty University. At present I'm taking Church History II (Reformation - Present). On multiple occasions the Professor, Carl Diemer (sp?), stated that what was being argued for at the Synod of Dort was hyper-calvinism vs. calvinism. He also made the same comment that Dr. Vines made in his "Baptist Battles" sermon, that Jacob Arminius was a calvinist, and that Arminius was just opposing Beza's hyper-calvinism.

I pray that many throughout our denomination would heed Dr. Akin's warnings, especially those who teach in theological institutions.

Again, thanks for sharing.
mike

Stephen Newell said...

Would that all non-Calvinists were of Akin's mold. The rest of them embarrass people like he and I.

Brian Hamrick said...

What are the odds the Christian Index will print this?

allofgrace said...

You gotta love Dr. Akin. I appreciate his candor and honesty. Hopefully this same attitude will spread to the point that Southern Baptists will be able to engage in meaningful dialogue without all the rhetoric.

volfan007 said...

that was a great statement by dr. akin. and then, to show how extreme people are...nathan white says what he did after reading such a good article. i like his terms...extreme calvinism and calvinism with an attitude. that may be the terms i have been looking for to describe a lot of the five pointers that i know. they arent truly hyper calvinists, but dr. akin's terms fit better than mine. i was calling them nearly hyper calvinists.

dr. akin seems to be a very intelligent, Godly man.

from the hills of tn,

volfan007

Chris Bonts said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
pregador27 said...

Jesus was a Calvinist? Hmmm... I like it, but obviously it means that He taught what was adopted by Calvin (and before him, Augustine). To worked up about that is to react to semantics. Something done way too much in today's politically-correct society. I do not find it blasphemous.

However, the email from Dr. Akin was well put all-in-all. He seeks to unite the body of Christ, not use rhetoric to divide it.

Tom Bryant said...

Thanks to Dr. Akin for saying what the "silent majority" of non-5 pointers think.

Thank you Tom, for letting more people see and read it.

Samuel J Bell III said...

Brother Tom,
Wonderful Post all I can Say is thank the good Lord for men that can tell it like it is even if the dont agree with you. AMEN AMEN AMEN !
SOLAS

SelahV said...

Tom: Where oh where was Akin a week ago? "About the Father's business" I betcha. Thanks for the post, Tom. Hopefully we can all hug each other now and make up and be about the business God has called us all to do: "Go" SelahV

Tom said...

Selah wrote: "Tom: Where oh where was Akin a week ago? 'About the Father's business' I betcha."

I agree with you--I betcha he was about His Father's business, which included noticing how those who purport to speak for his Father mishandled his Father's Word. Thus, his gracious, corrective email.

Aren't you glad he didn't bury his head in the sand or pretend that all is well in his Father's world when his Father's cause and his Father's children were being so seriously misrepresented, all in his Father's Name!

That sounds to me very much like our Father's business--very much like the Lord Jesus Himself. I join you in wanting to stand together with all who will heed God's Word seriously to "Go...and make *disciples*." Blessings, tom

scripturesearcher said...

I am truly grateful for the PROGRESS Dr. Danny Akin has made in his understanding of the scriptural doctrine of salvation since his article appeared in SBC LIFE several months ago.

There is hope for all of us! Even this writer! And you, too!

Our eternal God is totally sovereign in all matters at all times in all places. He does what He wants, when He wants, where He wants, how He wants with whomever He wants (Romans 9).

Fallen humanity - all men, women, boys and girls - are as free as their hostile, rebellious nature will permit. (Genesis 3, Romans 5:12) Apart from divine grace we humans are egocentric sinners and desire to do only what is wrong and selfish. (Romans 3)

Yes,it is true! God is fully sovereign and we humans are completely, totally responsible and it is no contradiction. It is called an antinomy.

Let us continually praise God for His sovereign, selective, saving and sealing (securing) grace. (Ephesians 1)

DoGLover said...

I appreciate Dr. Akins gracious and balanced reproof. It's a challenge to manage disagreements without descending into disparagements or to maintain composure without degenerating into theological compromises. Yet, it marks a true Christian statesman.

Benji Ramsaur said...

I think that if the SBC is to be saved from falling apart in relation to Calvinism, then it might be that Danny Akin will be seen as the saviour (humanly speaking, of course).

There has been a big need for a non 5 pointer to step in and defend Calvinists from erroneous assertions against them.

Enter Danny Akin

Caddiechaplain said...

Hallelujah!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

G. Alford said...

Thank you Dr. Akin!

What a Statesman! What a Gentleman! What a Christian!

Now I would like to hear from ALL of our other Seminary Presidents… Each of them should go on record as fully supporting Dr. Akins statement, as should our SBC President, and each State Paper.

Just in case any of you are reading this blog… I am calling you out… do the right thing and put an end to this divisiveness… or perhaps history will remember you as the leaders who set quietly by and did nothing while the SBC spiraled into divisions and ruin.

SelahV said...

Tom: Yes, I think you are right, Akin was about his Father's business which included noticing how many who are called by His name purported to speak for Him when they may have been speaking for themselves, rather than living out their Father's Word. "Thus, his gracious, corrective email" was sent to ALL his students.

I am VERY glad he didn't bury his head in the sand. It would have been pretty hard to pretend all was well in his Father's world considering the heat generated from one flawed letter in the Index.

I am not a Calvinist by what I understand about Calvinism at this point. But I do not like anyone being treated the way I viewed treatment throughout blog-dom this week. It grieves me. I take no pleasure in it. I had a wonderful Calvinist visit my site and try to help me understand some of the things Calvinists believe. He didn't pat me on my head and send me to the library. He actually viewed me as a human being, made in the image of God, who loved the Lord and wanted to know why and how he was what he was.

I am very very new to the scene on this doctrine of theology. And I do wonder sometimes if not being a Calvinist paints a big NC on my head that has nothing to do with non-calvinist. I think it could mean a variety of things from the way some folks have talked to me when I've only tried to understand.
NC-not Christian. NC--not complete. NC--no cranium. I cannot speak for other non-Calvinists. I can only speak for myself and am only speaking for myself. For the most part, I have been treated nicely on other Calvinist sites and even non-Calvinist sites by Calvinists. But it is scary over here. And I am not even sure this is a Calvinist site from all I read. It really is hard to determine what a Calvinist is. Some don't adhere to all the things others adhere to. It's quite confusing at times. But I am not disheartened, threatened or angered. My God is so much bigger than any man or group of men that I find myself very close to Him when I see what I see that causes all to be offended. If not for Him I could not see tomorrow for the smoke.

I knew you'd be happy to join me in wanting to stand together with all who will heed God's Word seriously to "Go...and make *disciples*." Blessings to you, too, Brother Tom.

May the Lord bless you abundantly, pressed down and flowing over. May your wisdom in His Word be increased and may you be known by the fruit you bestow and grow. May all who read your words find the love of God and may they Know Him truly Know Him as a result. SelahV

Brian Hamrick said...

selahv-

I don't know their hearts fully, but I doubt anyone here "sent you off to the library" to be dismissive of you with cold intentions. Rather, they sent you to the place where their own understanding flourished and developed. I can understand you appreciating more personal attention and dialogue in this conversation- no problem with that.

I'm glad you're participating and engaging in the conversation. I remember the years I wrestled hard against the doctrines of grace, so I can empathize with where you are.

Grace and peace-
Brian

GUNNY said...

Well, like everyone else I was encouraged.

However, this one bit still whips me:
"Yes, Jesus believes God is sovereign but He also taught man is responsible. Yes, Jesus taught, "No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him" (John 6:44), but He also gave us the Great Commission (Matt 28:16-20)."

This was in the context of not being a fan of the "Jesus was a Calvinist" action.

I guess I still get frustrated when non-Calvinists think we Calvinists don't endorse or can't embrace human responsibility.

Sure, the hypers can't, but we can and do. Even the WCF protects this in III.1
God from all eternity, did, by the most wise and holy counsel of His own will, freely, and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass; yet so, as thereby neither is God the author of sin, nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures; nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established.

By definition, one who denies human responsibility is not a Calvinist, but a Hyper-Calvinist, whether he or she has attitude or not.
; )

SelahV said...

Brian: You my brother, indeed, have never sent me to the library. And you don't need to read every comment I've ever written to see that some are batted from the faces of those who read as if I am a gnat in their conversational thread--or maybe even skipped altogether as insignificant. I do try to stay on topic when I ask something. I realize that this is a forum of the highest intellectual minds. And it is, indeed, to have a child interrupt an adult conversation. And often we tell that child to hush and not interrupt. And some children do sit silent at the adult table and learn some things. But then sometimes the child goes away and says why bother, I don't get it. Maybe someday when I grow up....

I wonder if maybe one of you might start a Calvinist site for "beginners". Kinda like the beginner's classes afforded to new members who "join" our Southern Baptist churches. (I have learned that "joining" means multiple things to various groups and joining is a naughty word to some).

You said: "I don't know their hearts fully, but I doubt anyone here "sent you off to the library" to be dismissive of you with cold intentions." I don't know their intentions either. I try to accept others intentions as acts of kindness and desire to bind the beatings of a Samaritan by the road. But some have walked on, dear Brian.

And when some have sent me to places to "develop" my understanding, the information is written above my head. I am about one college degree and two seminary degrees short of the words written by some of these doctrinal authors. Sometimes a bit of skin helps to clear up a question. I feel like Mary. I sit at the Master's feet.

You said, "I can understand you appreciating more personal attention and dialogue in this conversation- no problem with that.
I'm glad you're participating and engaging in the conversation. I remember the years I wrestled hard against the doctrines of grace, so I can empathize with where you are."
I do not understand the entire Bible. I am just learning that there are multiple graces to understand when I've always just accepted grace as God's, freely given, and I fully received. So discovering after 25 years that there are more kinds of grace, is absolutely baffling to me. And one thing I have discovered it that it must be true. Because grace doesn't cover all sins, all misunderstandings, nor all ignorance of some brothers and sisters who understand grace in ways other than one group over another. That is sad. Very sad. And I am having the greatest difficulty with that, dear Brother Brian. selahV

Robert said...

Has anyone sent a copy to Dr Caner yet?

Rhett said...

Wow!!

johnMark said...

Tom,

Thanks for pointing out this article. It's nice to see some rationality.

SelahV,

Over at my site www.hereiblog.com I did suggest you go to theopedia.com to read a brief history of Calvinism. I said, "And if you’d like to read some more information on Calvinism it may be easier to just go here http://www.theopedia.com/Calvinism and read. In that link Phil Johnson has an mp3 that you can listen to about the history of Calvinism."

Sometimes it's easier to send one some place where things are already spelled out more simply. And maybe more clearly.

Sometimes, and I am not saying you've done this, but I have read where folks really object to Calvinism and then end up making a statement like Price did in his article. A statement like "Well since John Calvin believed XYZ why don't you?" This just tells me the person hasn't really taken the time to study on their own. For a pastor with a seminary degree to say something like this I am not sure what it tells me...

Selah, once again I would like to suggest a site. John Piper has some free mp3 teachings on Calvinism where he explains and interacts with questions. Go here http://www.monergism.com/thethreshold/articles/bio/johnpiper.html
and scroll down to "Free MP# Downloads" on the lefthand column the third bullet point titled "T.U.L.I.P." to get many of your questions answered.

Mark

Christopher Redman said...

Great statement by Aiken. It is much needed and appreciated. It feels as though I have been walking within the SBC with a bullseye on my back for quite a while now.

I'm glad to have some sane and graceful words from one of our leaders.

Chris

SelahV said...

JohnMark, I have been to some of the places you suggested. And I have truly appreciated reading you. And I really like John Piper. I read his newsletter each week. Thank you again for you suggestions. I have incredible problems with my computer system right now and am not able to listen to any messages. I wanted to hear a sermon by a really nice Calvinist, Timotheos, on Peter Lumpkins site and would have but ever since I connected to DSL, my computer gives me NO sound. I can't watch multimedias anymore either. I'm almost afraid to download anything anymore for fear it is in a download that I have gotten the "whatever" that has caused my system to go berserk.
I have bookmarked everything you and some of your friends have directed me to, but until I can get a guru to come fix this computer, I am stuck with simply reading the blogs and their archives and the stories I find incredibly revealing about those bearded people I find pictured on every site.

I am trying to read it. But every now and then I have a question about something someone says or something I am reading. And every now and then it would be nice to get a direct answer to my direct question. I don't try to pose questions that are belligerent or slam someone. I can honestly say, I do hate it when I see others debate a piece of doctrine one brother adheres to and another brother acts as if the other is stupid. I may not be able to understand doctrine, but I am able to discern attitudes--kind and unkind. It's those attitudes that are born of self. Self-exaltation or self-centeredness. Whenever we step beyond the focus on the elephant in the middle of the room and begin pointing to the viewers of the elephant, we begin to hurt each other. And some folks' skin is thinner than others. And I hurt for them...Calvinist or non-Calvinist.

I think with my head and hurt with my heart. And I don't want a message of importance, no matter who is delivering it, to be dumped in the garbage heap simply because of who said it.

I confess, I am so ignorant, I don't even know what Founders is other than a website. For all I know this may be a humongous building filled with students like Southern Seminary. But I do know that sometimes all I hear is what someone else said that someone else said and when he said it, he meant this way or that.

I don't know what someone means by what they say unless I ask that person. Dr. Ascol made it quite clear to me that in order for him to answer my question he had to observe it from 6 different directions and hope he answered it in a way consistent with my intended question. So it is hard to communicate.

I have watched sites copy and paste other's statements and dump them in a caldron of stew without anyone being allowed to comment on them. I have watched Christian men maligned and groups of Christians stoned by words. It is sad, Mark. Don't you think it is sad?

I've read the pain and heartache in some people's blogs and have no idea why they feel what they do because someone has said something about someone they care about. I don't get it. I hurt for them. I am simply saying that when we (as in anyone on any site) come to visit another that we give our host the utmost respect and if we have something we don't agree with then we address the person we don't agree with in a manner in which we would want to be addressed. I'm ignorant. I will admit that. But I'm not stupid. I do know when someone is being condescending and patronizing toward me or others.

You my brother, I do not feel have ever been that way with me. Thank you for that. It is a bit scary to put my words in print. I saw what can be done with someone's words. They can be taken out of context and plopped in the middle of another person's blog.

I was a reporter during the Clinton/Newt years. In that time I attended multiple big-time news conferences. Reporters reported the same words I reported only their editors slanted the messages in ways that had one believing the persons speaking had said something entirely different than what they were saying.

I see this happening on blogsites. We as Christians are in one of the most wonderful times in history. The whole world can see our words. The whole world can read the Calvinist message. But if it is tainted by rhetoric that paints it unfavorably due to the words of Calvinists themselves, what good is the truth they espouse?

I appreciate you talking to me and pray I haven't led you to think I think ALL Calvinists treat me in a manner in which is counterproductive to doctrinal belief. I am weighing everything. I always have. I trust little of man, man is limited. I trust much of the Master, He is unlimited.

May you find something in my words which make some kind of sense and find nothing that would hurt you or your brothers and sisters. The world hurts us all enough. I want to be known by the love I have for each of you. selahV

Biblically Reforming said...

Amen and amen.

It's a testament to the awesome grace of God that our salvation (and by extension inclusion into the People of God) is not dependent on our theological fiber, doctrinal completeness or intellectual prowess, but on the complete and perfect work of Christ in his birth, life, and death.

As such, may this Grace drive us to strive for good theological fiber, doctrinal completeness, and sound intelligence; for the glory of God and His eternal praise!

C.T. Lillies said...

Does anyone know if this was sent to his professors as well? If not someone forward it quick.

Josh
"...the word of God is not bound."
--2 Timothy 2:9

YnottonY said...

Even though I admire and respect Dr. Akin and what he wrote, I have a few brief critical comments on a portion of what he said.

Dr. Akin said:

"Hyper-Calvinism is a particular movement that appeared in the mid 1700's that rejects the mandate to share the gospel, denies man's responsibility to repent and believe the gospel, and in some instances runs perilously close to making God the author of sin."

This, unfortunately, has become the common way to describe hyper-Calvinism (even by Dr. Ascol and Dr. White). First, not all hyper-Calvinists are against "sharing the gospel," if Akin means preaching the gospel. In fact, most were not. What they were against was conceiving of the gospel as an "offer", particularly a well-meant offer, as if God actually desires compliance from all who hear the external call. They didn't think the gospel was conditional and they didn't think God desired the salvation of everyone, therefore they concluded that we ought not to offer it to all indescriminately. Preach to all, yes, but offer to none (or perhaps only to sensible sinners, i.e. to those there is reason to believe are elect). Hyperism is much more subtle than how it is described by some today. They weren't as stupid as people think, as if they just denied that Christ gave a command to preach the gospel to all.

Second, not all of them denied duty-faith, or the responsibility of all to believe the gospel. Some did, but not all. In fact, one major hyper-Calvinistic denomination (the Protestant Reformed Church) today accepts duty-faith, or human responsibility. What happens is that they push total depravity so far as to deny any sense of ability to believe in the unregenerate. This is why men like Andrew Fuller, through his reading of Jonathan Edwards, made much of the natural/moral ability distinction. All men were naturally or constitutionally able to believe, but the unregenerate lacked the moral ability to believe. The term "responsibility" entails that all men are, in some sense, response-able. How many Calvinists today are running around on the internet boldly asserting that the unregenerate are not response-able without making careful and necessary distinctions?! It's very common. What hypers like to do, since they are imbalanced in this area, is speak of men being accountable, rather than responsible, since they see a problem with the latter term.

Anyway, the idea that one is only hyper if one rejects "evangelism" and "human responsibility" is misleading. The bottomline issues that trouble the hypers are:

1) The idea that God loves all mankind.
2) That the common bounties of providence (i.e. common grace) are well-intentioned to the non-elect.
3) That God himself is well-meaning in the gospel call (or gospel "offer") toward the non-elect.
4) That evangelical faith is the duty or responsibility of man.

Also, they are inclined to make real union occur before faith, which is why they were deemed theoretical antinomians by some.

I know that Dr. Akin and others do not think they are exhaustively describing hyperism when they say they were against evangelism and human responsibility. However, even when they say this, it's misleading and a caricature of most hypers. Hypers are not as stupid as they are portrayed to be, any more than Open Theists and Arminians are portrayed. Their errors are more sophisticated, so exposing their problems is more complicated than citing those passages that affirm the great commission and human responsibility.

It's even common for some hypers to think that since they are refuting Mark Carpenter (from OutsideTheCamp - OTC) they themselves are not hyper. Well, OTC represents the absolute lunatic fringe of hyperism. Just because one is against the errors of the OTC types, it doesn't follow that one is not hyper. Likewise, just because one affirms that we (as ignorant human beings who know not the unregenerate elect) should preach to all and all are responsible, it does not follow that one is not hyper. Even a hyper-calvinist can affirm the need to preach to all (since it's the means by which God saves his elect) and that all are accountable or answerable to God.

J.D. Rector said...

Dr. Akin is a man for our time in the Southern Baptist Convention! It would suffice every student in all of our institutions of higher learning to heed his wise counsel.

Tom: How can we get these students in all of our SBC institutions to read this?

Excellent post!
J.D. Rector

Andrew said...

Boy that one came from left field, huh? I sure didn’t expect it. Amen Dr. Aiken!

Baptists have always been very big on emphasizing the priesthood of all believers. Whether reformed or not, we should all agree that the kind of so-called “preaching” we’ve been hearing is disrespectful to the people in the pew, the other side, and God Himself. The people in the pew are given no scriptural foundation to stand upon, but are expected to believe the preacher because he’s emotional and yelling loud. The other side (of reformed believers) is disrespected when the speaker torches and mocks a straw man. And God is disrespected because the pulpit is defiled by the lack of concern for truth while large passages of scripture (Eph 1, Roman 8-9, Is 10, John 6 & 8) are either given a shallow interpretation or are completely ignored.

No more shouting out traditions alongside half of a Bible verse to confuse the people so they can’t tell the difference. The younger generation *in particular* will not tolerate being treated like fools. There’s just too much information available to get away with this any more. If with one simple Google search I can find that a preacher quoted Spurgeon out of context to misrepresent his beliefs – his credibility is gone. If a man wants to preach against a doctrine, he must be able to explain that doctrine accurately or else it’s obvious he doesn’t know what he’s talking about!

I agree with Dr. Aiken’s 5th point, but I only agree with one of the reasons he gave and I disagree with all the rest:

First, the statement is historically anachronistic

Okay I do not think Dr. Aiken has really thought about this one. It is so egregiously anachronistic and that’s what makes it clever and “attention getting”. Does he think that Dr. MacArthur forgot that Christ came 1500 years before Calvin was born? I mean com’on now! That surely could not have confused even the most historically ignorant Christian.

Second, it is Christologically disrespectful. Jesus is the Lord. He is the King. He is God. Our Savior is the grand subject of Christian theology. So whether it is Whitefield, Boice (men I greatly love and admire), or whomever, to call Jesus a Calvinist is theologically misguided and pastorally dangerous.

Okay this I completely agree with. This I feel is the only reason one ought not to say “Jesus was a Calvinist.” It is a very very good reason too. I would rather MacArthur had said “Jesus preached Calvinism”.

Another thought on this statement. It is not as Dr. Aiken described “theological foolishness.” It is lacking reverence. It is disrespectful. And it is also theologically accurate. It does not belong on this list alongside the others, which are theological catastrophes.

Yes, Jesus believes God is sovereign but He also taught man is responsible. Yes, Jesus taught, "No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him" (John 6:44), but He also gave us the Great Commission (Matt 28:16-20).

This does not make sense to me. Calvinists teach that man is responsible. Dr. Aiken knows this because he just rebuked those who have been torching the “Calvinists believe man is not responsible” straw man in the 2nd and 3rd points of this very letter! Did he just forget or something? This statement is very true but it has no point with regard to the claim that Jesus taught what today is nicknamed “Calvinism”.

I am most thankful for Dr. Aiken’s letter and especially #3 where he addresses the fallacious claim that “Five-point Calvinism is the same as Hyper-Calvinism”. There is so much here to be grateful for and I pray that many will take it to heart.

Drew said...

When I received this e-mail on Friday, I was even more thankful to be student at SEBTS. Dr. Akin is truly a godly man, and I can attest that this e-mail is a good example of how he typically deals with issues that pop. He is full of love, but is very firm and not afraid to rebuke and correct.

EclecticPietist said...

qhRoger Olson's new book "Arminian Theology" has, as a last chapter, "Rules of Engagement" with some good suggestions for Calvinists and Arminians as they interact with each other. Avoid caricatures of the other side. Take time to understand what the other side is really saying. Don't insist the other side "really" believes a certain item when the other side says they don't believe it. - Mike Cheek

Nathan Finn said...

Gentlemen,

The president of Southeastern Seminary is Dr. Akin. Aiken is a city in South Carolina where Georgians go for quickie marriages when they cannot secure a bloodtest in time to meet the standards of Georgia state law.

I think some of you guys learned how to spell from all the Armenians in the SBC. :-)

Andrew said...

Oops! It seems I hit "change all" in spell checker and changed all my "Akin"s to "Aikin."

Thank you Nathan. Your comment caused me to laugh really really hard at myself.

I guess it could have been worse...
"I sincerely appreciate Dr. Atkins letter addressing those who misrepresent low-carb dieting."

geekforgreek said...

May we pepper Dr. Akin's inbox with letters of encouragement. The voices of those who oppose these kinds of statements will certainly be heard, let us encourage our brothers win they stand for truth and love.

geekforgreek said...

The spelling bug strikes again...

win != when

Nathan White said...

Y not Tony,

I enjoyed your thoughts. However, and maybe I misunderstood you, but did you affirm that evangelical faith (faith in Christ I assume) is the responsibility of all men? This seems highly problematic since to be ‘response-able’ requires as specific knowledge of Jesus Christ, which of course, is not granted to all men. As the old saying goes, general revelation (through creation) is enough to damn, but is not enough to save.

YnottonY said...

Hi Nathan,

Yes, I whole-heartedly affirm duty-faith, or the doctrine that those who hear the gospel call are duty-bound to believe it savingly, in the evangelical sense. Let me clarify. There are two types of humans living on earth: 1) Those that get to hear the gospel message and 2) Those that do not hear the gospel message. With respect to the first class, they are the ones I am saying are responsible to obey the gospel command to repent and believe. Those in class #2 are not responsible to repent and believe the gospel since, as you know, they do not hear it, not even in general revelation. Those in class #1 who do not repent and believe are condemned for their sins and have additional guilt for rejecting the gospel. Those in class #2 (excluding infants etc.) are condemned for their sins, but do not have the additional sin of rejecting the gospel call since they never heard it.

Does that clarify it for you?

Let me summarize my point above. When Dr. Akin and Dr. Ascol et al continually define hyperism as the rejection of evangelism and the rejection of human responsibility, they are echoing the definition of David Engelsma, a Protestant Reformed Church hyper-Calvinist (he rejects common grace and the well-meant gospel offer). It is misleading to only associate hyperism with the Primitive Baptist strain alone, yet it's constantly done by Calvinistic leaders today. Consequently, there are some on the internet who are hyper in their views and do not even know it. Since they affirm the need to evangelize and affirm human responsibility, they think they are very balanced. There are even some who have fought against the outsidethecamp lunatics and therefore think that they are not hyper for doing so. Basically, hyperism is defined out of existence, as if only someone of the Primitive Baptist sort qualifies. Hyperism has probably been caricatured just as much today as authentic Calvinism and evangelical Arminianism have been. That's my point.

Drew said...

Geekforgreek, I think it would be a wonderful thing for you to send Dr. Akin encouragement via e-mail. I have done so in the past and he seems to be genuinely grateful for the encouragement. You ought to be able to find his e-mail address on the school's web site, www.sebts.edu.

Andrew said...

Tony whenever you get on this subject, I always ask myself the same question: why do you seem to be all alone in your view? I mean is there some historian you can point to who defines hypercalvinism the way that you do? I'm not saying the majority view *must* be correct - just asking if there's anyone else who agrees with your view (someone who has published?)

I could be misunderstanding you, but it sounds like you're tip-toeing around those whom you believe are hypercalvinists (but they don't know it!) If you believe someone is teaching heresy and can demonstrate such, you have a duty to call them to account and if necessary bring it to the attention of other Christians who are being lead astray. I'm not trying to provoke anything but it sounds like you're trying to say something without really saying it.

And if I'm completely off the mark then just let me know and I'll stop reading between the lines.

volfan007 said...

1 peter 3:8-11

finally, be all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous, not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing, but on the contrary, blessing, knowing that you are called to this, that you should inherit a blessing.
for he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile; let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and pursue it.

volfan007

YnottonY said...

Hi Andrew,

So that you won't have to continue to ask yourself the same question, here are some things for you to read so that you will know that I am not "alone in my view." One of the world's leading experts on the subject is Dr. Curt Daniel. Here's what Phil Johnson says about him, for example:

"Now my friend Curt Daniel who is here this afternoon, and who is far more qualified than I am to teach on the history of Calvinism has written an excellent resource that I want to recommend to you. It’s a large, hardbound syllabus called The History and Theology of Calvinism. It is the best single resource on Calvinism I know. It’s filled with copious quotations and wonderful insight. He covers in it, in a kind of extensive outline format every major doctrine related to Calvinism. And in the process he gives a thorough overview of Calvinist history. I love historical theology and in fact this syllabus was practically my first introduction to the subject more than a decade ago. And it remains a favorite resource of mine. I think there are some copies in the bookstore. I asked them to order it, and for those of you who might be interested in obtaining one I don’t think there are many left. But I recommend it enthusiastically. Curt earned his Ph.D. at the University of Edinburgh. With a massive doctoral dissertation on John Gill and Hyper-Calvinism. So he probably knows more about the doctrine and history of Calvinism than the rest of us put together."

Read or listen to Dr. Curt Daniel's lectures on The History and Theology fo Calvinism. I have spoken with Dr. Daniel by phone, and he agrees with me on this subject. If you want to purchase his 900+ page doctoral dissertation on the subject (Hyper-Calvinism and John Gill), he does sell copies.

I suspect that you have already read Phil Johnson's A Primer on Hyper-Calvinism, and yet you still assert that I am "alone on the subject." Phil agrees with me. In fact, he read my Radio Interview on Hyper-Calvinism and called it "terrific."

You might also check out Peter Toon's work The Emergence of Hyper-Calvinism in English Nonconformity since it's available online now.

Also, I am not trying to insinuate that a particular person (and I know who you mean) is a hyper-Calvinist. Stop trying to read between the lines and read some actual lines from the works above. That way you won't have to assume that I am "all alone" on the subject. Thanks.

God bless,
Tony

YnottonY said...

I just reviewed Phil's article again. Notice what he says:

"Many modern hyper-Calvinists salve themselves by thinking their view cannot really be hyper-Calvinism because, after all, they believe in proclaiming the gospel to all."

This is exactly my point.

SelahV said...

VOLFAN:
Have you ever read I Peter 3:11 in the Amplified Version? Whoa, is it powerful!
In answer to your post on Peter's words, I offer Ezekiel 33:32: "Lo, you are to them as a very lovely [love] song of one who has a pleasant voice and can play well on an instrument, for they hear your words, but do not do them."

Would that we all could hear the lovely song of our Living Lord and love one another as deeply as He does. Would that our differences be as kindly delivered to each other as some now responding on this site. I for one am learning quite a bit from Ynottony, Nathan and Mark.

I try to skip over any snippiness I may think I detect. Timotheos told me over on Peter Lumpkins' site that little boys fight, but "men contend". So I try to keep that in mind when I read the dialog on theological positions. Some very interesting stuff in the highlighted sections of Ynottony's remarks. SelahV

Amicus said...

Dr Akin's article is such a relief, and gives one great hope that we may not be headed for schism after all.

Let's heed Dr Akin's words and try to avoid sound bite theology, or rather, regard it as an oxymoron. Clever one-liners that poke our opponents in the eye may be the hallmark of popular preachers, but they are unworthy of faithful servants of the Word.

Now - a few questions for Tom and/or any of ye learned:

1) Were many of the Puritans and English separatists, and in paricular New England theologians and preachers prior to Edwards, hyper-Calvinistic in their emphasis on introspection? I am thinking about the early chapters of Marsden's biography of Edwards, as well as stuff I've picked up through the years.

2- Was hyper-Calvinism more an English than a continental phenomenon? I always thought this until I learned about the Protestant Reformed and Netherlands Reformed churches. Of course these are both Dutch-American (Or am I wrong about the Netherlands Reformed?)

3- Spurgeon spends a lot of energy on dealing with hyper-Calvinism in his preaching. Is there a need for this today?

4- Am I correct in thinking that many of our old 19th century Gospel songs are aimed straight at hyper-Calvinism? (Only Trust Him, Just As I Am, Whosoever Will) Do some go too far and wander into Arminianism? (I'm counting 20th century stuff like Let Jesus Come into Your Heart).

5- Is it sound bite or sound byte?

Andrew said...

Thanks Tony. I had not seen the Phil Johnson article. You have given me some reading to do and I will follow through on it. Perhaps the voices that espouse your view are not as loud or just have not reached my ears yet. I read reformed literature and follow a few blogs and... I have not seen it when hyperism is being discussed. Phil's blog is on my list but I read it only occasionally.

As to the "particular person" you mentioned, I have no idea who you're talking about. I was referring to many reformed leaders who do not (seem to) emphasize that common grace and the gospel offer are well-intentioned toward the non-elect. I think I am fuzzy on what you mean by "well-intentioned". Is this a salvific intention? Is it thwarted when it is not received with joy and gratitude? When you specify that a certain word or action of God is "well-intetnioned" my thought is "All of His works are well-intentioned!" - whether it be the hardening of Pharaoh's heart, causing the sun to stand still, or the new birth of Philippian jailer.

volfan007 said...

maybe what we deal with today are the extreme calvinists instead of the hyper calvinists.


volfan007

farmboy said...

"maybe what we deal with today are the extreme calvinists instead of the hyper calvinists.


volfan007"

Another helpful comment from my favorite drive by poster.

Yes, unthoughtful, uninformed, uncivil advocates of Reformed theology are problematic. However, unthoughtful, uninformed, uncivil advocates of Arminian theology are equally problematic.

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

I am hopeful that volfan will take Dr. Akin's letter to heart and strive do be more accurate in his drive-by's! If a calvinist is rude, hostile, ungracious, illogical, pretentious or carnal - they are not therefore a hyper for those reasons. If they continue to plunge headlong into sinful attitudes then he or she may simply be lost with only a head knowledge. I guess a hyper also has only a head knowldge, but the content their head knowledge is demonstrably false.

I once heard an athiest on the radio articulate the doctrines of grace quite accurately, and then he gave the arminian responses at each point. It was a discussion about the problem of evil and he was trying to present different views held by people in history. It just proves that anybody can read books and take down notes!

volfan007 said...

farmboy,

i agree with you when you said

However, unthoughtful, uninformed, uncivil advocates of Arminian theology are equally problematic.

that's so true.

andrew,

i said extreme calvinist may be the problem we are facing today rather than the hyper calvinist. i am not saying that an extreme calvinist is a hyper.



volfan007

Greg B said...

VolFan: Good to hear from you again. What does extreme Calvinist mean?

Andrew said...

Greg you are extreme to some if you *really really* believe that God is sovereign in salvation and do not just pay lip service to Romans 8&9. You are extreme. On the fringe. Accept your designation!

SelahV said...

Hey Greg, how soon we forget. I believe Volfan's use of the word "extreme Calvinist" stems from Dr.Dan Akin's use of it in the post we are dialoging about. Akin says:
"Further, anything that weakens the missionary passion of the church and the evangelistic favor of an individual is both dangerous and useless to the Church. Perhaps what some mean by "hyper-Calvinism" is extreme Calvinism or Calvinists with an attitude. I have met more than a few in my lifetime and to be sure, they were not of much value when it comes to the health of the church and reaching the lost. Still, we need to be honest with history and accurate with the facts. Mischaracterizations are of no value on any level."

If I misunderstand Volfan, I apologize, but I believe that extreme means anyone who takes their soteriology, theology, or political persuasion to the extreme left or right of the majority's normal centrist position on said subject.

I, myself, and only myself, am having great difficulty with all the different labels as such, because I keep having to read between lines of what some say they don't mean and what some say others mean. And then when I read what 5 points means and what 9 marks means I'm confronted with whether that is what Calvinist mean or don't mean when I watch the dialogs on the subjects.

So I am doing alot of thinking about each and everyone's comments so I can understand from which of the 6 ways of communication I need to address in order to be understood and not misunderstood.

By the way, Mary. I would love to know what you mean by your soteriology. Do you have a blogsite? SelahV

Nathan White said...

Y not Tony,

Thanks for the reply. But to clarify, are you affirming that every person who hears the gospel by necessity has the capacity to respond to the gospel?

Joshua Stewart said...

Wow, how wonderful that such a great man would make such God-honoring statements directly addressing some of the horrific statements being made today. I have listened to Akin preach and teach several times and in my opinion he is a closet calvinist. But I really don't care if he ever comes out or not. Because he is very faithful to the Word.
You go Danny !!!!

YnottonY said...

Andrew said:
"As to the "particular person" you mentioned, I have no idea who you're talking about."

Me:
Ok, sorry about that. I engaged in my own reading between the lines and didn't "know" what I claimed to know :-)

Andrew said:
"I was referring to many reformed leaders who do not (seem to) emphasize that common grace and the gospel offer are well-intentioned toward the non-elect."

Me:
Who are the "many reformed leaders" that you have in mind? Are you saying that they don't emphasize it or that they deny that it is well-intentioned?

Andrew said:
"I think I am fuzzy on what you mean by "well-intentioned".

Me:
By well-intentioned, I mean that God has their well-being in view. Jesus said in Matt. 5:44-45 that the rain and sunshine on the wicked is an act of the Father's love, and love is a motive. Jesus is not just pointing out that rain and sunshine are intrisically good substances that were created by God. He's saying that the Father is compassionate and kind when he grants such things to his enemies, therefore we should be patient and kind as well. Also, Paul points out God's motives in Romans 2:4 with regard to the unrepentant. He says God's kindness and patience are meant to lead to repentance. Check out John Murray's Free Offer of the Gospel for more on this.

Andrew asks:
"Is this a salvific intention?"

Me:
Yes. Consider this comment on 2 Peter 3:9: "So wonderful is his love towards mankind, that he would have them all to be saved, and is of his own self prepared to bestow salvation on the lost." Does that sound Calvinistic to you? Well, it's Calvin's own comments on that passage. Now, I am not saying that one necessarily has to agree with his interpretation of the passage, but pause and consider the theology behind Calvin's interpretation. He very boldly affirms God's love for all and God's wish for all to be saved. Awhile back I even asked Dr. Ascol if God willed the salvation of all. He said: "I believe that God desires for all people to be saved but has purposed to save His elect. I see two (at least two) dimensions in God's will: revealed and decretive. Failure to make this kind of distinction is a failure to read the Bible's teachings on the will of God accurately." He's right and he worded that carefully. Notice that Dr. Ascol uses different terms to speak of the various dimensions to God's will: purpose and desire. He's associating the term purpose with God's decree and his desire with his preceptive will. That's historic Calvinism. Dr. Ascol's terminology is even used by Charles Hodge in volume 2 of his Systematic Theology. Calvin himself had no problem with referring to God's revealed will as an "ardent desire", and the same goes with John Murray, Jonathan Edwards and John Howe etc etc.

Andrew asks:
"Is it thwarted when it is not received with joy and gratitude?"

Me:
When men disobey his revealed will, then yes it is thwarted. As the Puritan John Howe observed, if the Spirit of God is resisted by some men, then there must be a contrary striving for their compliance.

Andrew, I appreciate all of your good questions, but I also want to discipline myself to stay on topic. I have tried to answer some of your questions here because they seem to be pressing. However, I would like to stay within the confines of the issues that Dr. Akin and Dr. Ascol bring up in this particular post. It's very easy for us to get further and further way from the subject(s) of the post. If you would like to discuss these things in greater detail, I would encourage you to join the Calvin and Calvinism list.

Grace to you,
Tony

YnottonY said...

Hi Nathan,

You ask:
"are you affirming that every person who hears the gospel by necessity has the capacity to respond to the gospel?"

I linked to a blog entry of mine earlier on the subject of your question. It's on the distinction between natural and moral ability. You may have missed it.

If by capacity you mean a faculty with which to respond, then yes. Fallen men are still in God's image and possess God-given faculties or capacities with which to comply with what God requires. It's just the case that fallen men are so fixed in their stubborness (becase of original sin and their own acts) that they are in moral bondage. The problem is not so much their will power but their WON'T power, if you get my meaning. Regeneration doesn't add a new faculty to us. Rather, the Holy Spirit effectually quickens our spirits, illuminates our minds and renews our affections so that our will is now free and determines to act on those new holy impulses.

So, all the unregenerate who hear the external gospel call are response-able in the sense that they have God-given faculties (or capacities - minds and/or wills etc.) to respond, but they are morally enslaved to sin such that their wills are determined in unbelief.

Does that help?

YnottonY said...

Amicus,

You ask some very good questions. I'll attempt to address one of them, for now, since it seems close to Tom's blog topic. I probably won't be saying anything that you don't already know.

You said,
"3- Spurgeon spends a lot of energy on dealing with hyper-Calvinism in his preaching. Is there a need for this today?"

Me:
As you know, Spurgeon's day and context are not like our own. Our culture is dominated by an autonomous spirit that issues in free will theology of various kinds, hence all the reaction to it among Calvinists. It seems quite odd to them to see someone crying out against hyperism in our situation. Most Calvinists today have been burned by free will theology in such a way that they constantly recoil from anything that even seems like it. They know it's dangers well and are watchful against it. They know that it's ultimately grounded in a rationalism that takes some biblical truths as over against others and reasons them out to unbiblical conclusions. They've elevated certain properties of God that they favor over others that are troublesome. If a preacher is going to warn against Arminianism, it's best to do so as the issues surface in his systematic expositions of various passages, I believe. I would say that the same thing should be done with the errors of hyper-Calvinism. In fact, both could be done at the same time, since there's an undergirding rationalism behind both systems that cannot account for all of the biblical witness. Take the subject of human responsibility, for instance. When the bible underlines that subject in a passage, the preacher should emphasize it in accordance with his text. One can refute both Arminianism and hyper-Calvinism at the same time with that subject so that the congregation is not pushed to one extreme in reaction to another. Luther's analogy is quite good for this. He likened human reason to a drunken man trying to get on a horse. If he manages to climb up on one side, he ends up falling off on the other side. This back and forth wobbling happens in all of us due to the noetic influence of sin. If we talk about the unregenerate person's responsibility to repent and believe, we can mention that they are also in bondage to sin (i.e. responsibility doesn't entail moral ability). At the same time, we can say that repentance and faith are our act, not God's. It's not as if faith is the gift of God in the sense that it's some abstact object dropped into our passive laps. Nor is it the case that regeneration adds some form of faithing-faculty to us that we formerly didn't have. We own the act of faith. As Spurgeon said (this is recorded in Iain Murray's book on hyperism), "Faith is the act of man, but it is only the act of the renewed man." That's spot on! Notice carefully that aspects of both hyperism and Arminianism are refuted in that one brief statement. I think this is what should be done by preachers and teachers, particularly those with pastoral responsibilities like Dr. Akin and Dr. Ascol. Since the minds of fallen men are like drunks trying to get on horses, there's always a need to warn against opposite errors. However, the kind of audience we are speaking to does make a difference. Since I am largely speaking in a Calvinistic context on this blog, I am bringing up potential "Calvinistic" errors. If I was speaking in a non-Calvinistic environment, I would warn of the opposite rationalism. In both cases I would make certain qualifications and distinctions to guard against both forms of rationalism.

Anyway, I've said too much, rambled and probably contradicted myself lol. It's late. I must move on :-)

I hope that helps,
Tony

SelahV said...

YnotTony: I like the way you say what you say. I hope I am understanding what you are saying the way you want to say it. LOL.
I especially like the fact that you say we are made in the image of God. I've always kinda looked at faith in a simple way. (I guess because I am a simple person) Jesus says with the faith of a mustard seed, you can move mountains. Since we (man) are made in the image of God, He gives us (man) the mustard seed of faith. Some of us plant it, and some of us keep it to ourselves. We each have the propensity to sin, we could all be rapists, murderers or thieves. But some of us act upon the propensity within without ever giving thought to rape, murder or theft. Instead, we lust, hate, or deceive.
Oh gosh, I just realized how OFF-TOPIC I am. It's all your fault, Tony. LOL. Sorry, Dr. Ascol.
SelahV

Greg B said...

Selah and Andrew: Thanks for taking me back to Dr. Akin's use of the term, but I really think I need to know what Volfan 007 means. As we know historical definitions are frequently not used. So, I don't want to assume. I would like to know "what it means to him" so we can speak the same language.
Greg

volfan007 said...

greg b.,

thanks for welcoming me back. God bless you, bro. what do i mean by extreme calvinists? as selah said, i am referring to dr. akins definition of the five pointers out there who seem to be divisive and causing strife with their theology. those who are more concerned with spreading reformed theology than they are in winning the lost, or even preaching the bible for that matter....evangelists for calvinism. you know, everything to them is an opportunity to preach the doctrines of grace. they cant seem to see anything else in the bible. i am talking about those five pointers who believe that if you are not a five pointer then you are intellectually and spiritually beneath them, and you may even be a heretic. i am talking about those five pointers who are trying to shove five point calvinism down everyones throats....and, they even sneak into churches that are not reformed and then tear the church up trying to convert everyone to five pointism.

so, while hyper calvinists is not historically accurate to describe this crowd of neo calvinists that we have today...because they do believe in witnessing and missions....dr. akins term...extreme calvinists...is a good term. i was calling them nearly hyper calvinists. i like dr. akins term better. it really describes them.


volfan007

YnottonY said...

volfan,

You may try "fanatical Calvinist" for what you're attempting to describe. That's probably better than "extreme Calvinist," since hyper also conveys the idea of extremity. Also, Norman Geisler has already messed up to term "extreme Calvinist," and virtually made it synonymous with five pointism.

Any of us can be "fanatical" about any particular doctrine, if we harp on it to the neglect of other important truths. One can even be a fanatical anti-Calvinist :-)

You sound pretty upset. It sounds like you need to become a five point Calvinist. May I be of some assistance in that regard? hahaha

p.s. Dr. Akin is rather vague in what he means by "extreme Calvinist". He modifies it by saying it's Calvinists with an attitude. That barely helps. I guess he means Calvinists who are arrogant and use the doctrines to dominate conversations and meetings rather than to humbly serve. In other words, a rude Calvinist.

Tom said...

I think that Dr. Akin's term, "extreme Calvinism," may be useful to describe the "Calvinists with an attitude" of whom he writes. However, I would prefer simply to call them prideful and disrespectful, because what infects them does come inherently from the Calvnistic beliefs that they profess. But I can live with his designation as he has described it.

Although he offered no label for it I find particularly helpful his accurate description of a far more common and widespread malady that is affecting the SBC today. His well-chosen adjectives--"ill informed," "sloppy," "cute," "bombastic," "irresponsible," and "careless"--are sadly very accurate descriptions of the doctrinal judgments of many Southern Baptist pastors and leaders today. It is this sector of the SBC that provoked his email.

Maybe we need to come up with an equally applicable label for such folks. Along with "extreme Calvinists" we have....what? "Ill-informed religionists?" "Bombastic bards?" "Careless crusaders?" "Sloppy saints?" "Irresponsible irreligionists?" All of these suggestions are made with tongue firmly planted in cheek. But, if we are going to use labels and not merely adjectives, what should we call those who are guilty of the kinds of sloppy theology that provoked Dr. Akin's comments?

YnottonY said...

“what should we call those who are guilty of the kinds of sloppy theology that provoked Dr. Akin's comments?”

Myth Busters?
Straw-slaying Canerites?
Anti-John’s?

Just teasing! ;-)

SelahV said...

Volfan: Extremely fanatical would probably best serve your point of view on SOME Calvinists you deal with.

YnotTony: I guess you know what Volfan means now, huh?

Dr. Ascol: How about we call people who write articles with which we disagree by their names. Like, I disagree with Dr. Price, Dr. Ascol, Dr. Reynolds, Dr. Lumpkins. And if there is no D in front of their names, how about we call them Brother or Sister.

Then again, Paul called us saints. Hmmmmn....but I guess when all else fails we could remember that we are all called sinners saved by grace.

Don't you think that would level the playing field a bit better? SelahV
P.S. Have I called anybody a name? If I have, I truly apologize. Right now, in front of God and everyone else.

Tom said...

Selah wrote: "How about we call people who write articles with which we disagree by their names. Like, I disagree with Dr. Price, Dr. Ascol, Dr. Reynolds, Dr. Lumpkins. And if there is no D in front of their names, how about we call them Brother or Sister."

That works for me. I usually call folks by their names. Does this mean that you think Dr. Akin's use of "etreme Calvinism" is unwise or unhelpful? What do you think of his use of the adjectives he employed to describe the offenders that provoked him to write? It seems to me that while we must always be very careful not simply to dismiss someone (or some view) with a label, we must also be willing at times to employ language that might seem impolite in order to communicate plainly. I think that is what Dr. Akin has done very well.

SelahV said...

Dr. Ascol: Dr. Akin did not call anyone "You extreme Calvinist, You!" He was, (in my understanding), explaining why some people called 5-point (which I don't even know if that is a good term) Calvinists, "hyper".

And I know you know that, so I am supposing you are really asking me if I think that it is unhelpful or unwise to use the terminology at all in conversation. That would depend on the discussion in which I am using the term "extreme Calvinist". And with whom I am discussing the subject "extreme Calvinist". In discussing the term at this moment, no--it is not unwise or unhelpful. (Better I use extreme Calvinist than foolish 5-pointer.) And you did ask me what I thought...so I can, without fear of reprisal or chastisement, use the term.

However, I would add that in this forum, some--not all--would take offense if I were accusing them of being an "extreme Calvinist" or as Dr. Akin elaborated--"a Calvinist with an attitude". So it might be unwise if I was trying to communicate and wanted to get an honest answer from someone with whom I disagreed, to call them something they might not think they were or took offense to being called.

I would not want to inflame another or even insult another. Then again, some like the heat from the arrows because, then, all is fair in love and war. And the first blood drawn gives license to the opponent to dice, slice and mutilate without regard to subject matter--just the opponent.

I would say name-calling should be left to the playgrounds. And adjectives--however descriptive--might be used with great wisdom, caution and discretion. In learning to write, I was often instructed to use less adjectives. It makes for better communication of thought. And greater reception from the reader.

You said, "It seems to me that while we must always be very careful not simply to dismiss someone (or some view) with a label, we must also be willing at times to employ language that might seem impolite in order to communicate plainly."

I'm not so willing to agree with that. I grant you that language is necessary to communicate plainly, but to employ words that "work" for you and do not "work" for another seems counterproductive to communicating plainly.

One of the most effective preachers in my lifetime has been accused of speaking too simply. He used very little description in describing sin as sin. But thousands upon thousands have given their lives (or shown themselves to be elect) at his crusades and turned from their sin to Jesus. It is possible, I suppose that Billy Graham may have people who could say his words have been offensive. However, he speaks not from what he thinks of a person, but from what God thinks of a person's actions or inactions.

This may be another one of those attitude-inciting subjects one might be better to avoid discussing but since the title of your blog is "Sage, Courageous Counsel from Dr. Danny Akin", I am presuming you consider it fine to call a Calvinist with an attitude an "extreme Calvinist". So henceforth, it really doesn't matter what I think is wise or helpful since you have, in one sense, rubber-stamped Akin's words as sage and courageous, does it?

However, since you asked me what I thought, let me say this. It would of course depend on whose interpretation of "attitude" we would be considering. "Perhaps what some mean by "hyper-Calvinism" is extreme Calvinism or Calvinists with an attitude. But the Calvinist who is perceived to have an attitude, might in reality just have a bad cold.

I do hope I've answered your questions Dr. Ascol. Blessings be yours today. I see you have a rather interesting new post. Guess I'll just wander up there and sit a spell. SelahV

Tom said...

Selah:

Dr. Akin was responding to conversations that he heard between the people he describes and the people they caricatured. He was responding to unjust and theologically sloppy attacks against people by certain recognized leaders and preachers. To my knowledge, each of his 4 examples regarding Calvinism come from public statements and not private conversations. The 3 examples of unjustified caricatures of Calvinism cite statements *about* people not *to* people.

Selah wrote: 'I am presuming you consider it fine to call a Calvinist with an attitude an "extreme Calvinist". So henceforth, it really doesn't matter what I think is wise or helpful since you have, in one sense, rubber-stamped Akin's words as sage and courageous, does it?'

No need for you to presume since I have stated my views on the matter. You may have missed it when I wrote, "I think that Dr. Akin's term, 'extreme Calvinism,' may be useful to describe the 'Calvinists with an attitude' of whom he writes. However, I would prefer simply to call them prideful and disrespectful, because what infects them does come inherently from the Calvnistic beliefs that they profess. But I can live with his designation as he has described it." I wouldn't put that quite in the category of a stamp...rubber or otherwise. :-)

Selah wrote: 'I'm not so willing to agree with that. I grant you that language is necessary to communicate plainly, but to employ words that "work" for you and do not "work" for another seems counterproductive to communicating plainly.'

I wonder of "hypocrites," "whitewashed tombs," "serpents" or "brood of vipers" "worked" for the Scribes and Pharisees? Our Lord was willing to employ language that was impolite in order to communicate plainly.

Selah wrote: "In learning to write, I was often instructed to use less adjectives. It makes for better communication of thought. And greater reception from the reader."

You make a good point that fewer adjectives often comm Adjectives can certainly be overused. It seems, however, that Dr. Akin's choice and use of adjectives helped rather than hindered communication. At least that is the way that it appears based on the reception his words have been given by commenters here.

With every blessing, tom.
tom

Grosey's Messages said...

SelahV and all you folks there.. well done in handling a difficult aspect of self examination.
You've all kept it sweet and allowed much more light than heat.
(is mixing metaphors worse than heaping up adjectives?)
Thank you again,
Steve

farmboy said...

"Perhaps what some mean by 'hyper-Calvinism' is extreme Calvinism or Calvinists with an attitude."

The wording of the sentence quoted above from Mr. Akin's e-mail creates the potential for confusing two things: 1) the characteristics of a given doctrine, and 2) the characteristics of the person advancing a given doctrine.

"Perhaps what some mean by 'hyper-Calvinism' is extreme Calvinism" uses the adjective "extreme" with regard to Calvinism or Reformed Theology. The adjective "extreme" can be used this way. In general, to the extent that hyper-Calvinism takes the sovereignty of God to an extreme, hyper-Calvinism is extreme Calvinism.

Adding "or Calvinists with an attitude" results in the following: "Perhaps what some mean by 'hyper-Calvinism' is extreme Calvinism or Calvinists with an attitude." Here, the conjunction "or" equates "extreme Calvinism" with "Calvinists with an attitude." The adjective "extreme" shifts from being a modifier of Calvinism or Reformed theology to being a modifier of the person advocating Calvinism or Reformed theology. This is an important difference.

One could be a careful, measured advocate of hyper-Calvinism, or one could be a careless, overbearing advocate of hyper-Calvinism. Similarly, one could be a careful, measured advocate of Calvinism, or one could be a careless, overbearing advocate of Calvinism.

We already have "hyper-Calvinism" to refer to an extreme form of the doctrine of Calvinism or Reformed theology. Similarly, I would suggest that we already have "open theism" to refer to an extreme form of Arminian theology. Thus, maybe the adjective "extreme" is unnecessary with regard to theological formulations.

With regard to a person advocating a given theological position, we already have words like "thoughtful", "careful", and "measured" - and their opposites - to describe the manner in which a person advances his position. Thus, maybe the adjective "extreme" is also unnecessary here.

Please note that the above is provided with a desire for clarity in communication. I agree completely with the essence of Mr. Akin's e-mail and the spirit with which it was offered.

Greg B said...

VolFan:
Well, being a Goldwater Republican
"extremism in pursuit of the truth is no vice!" Just joking. The Calvinism with an (negative) attitude as Extreme Calvinist...OK.
What is a mischaracterizing non-Calvinist?
Actually, I am like SelahV in that I have really gotten tired of labels and would rather take 10 minutes to get to know someones thoughts and self than settle on a label. Afterall, I doubt you would find a Hyper here, I doubt you would find even the most passionate posters on this board would be "extreme Calvinists" when they aren't dumping on their like minded brothers. We all have a need to dump.
You know, we all should see if we could take the theological word out of the "extreme" label.
Greg B

Nathan White said...

Y not Tony,

That is interesting in light of John 8:45-47 and 10:26 where Jesus specifically tells the pharisees that they cannot believe because they are not of God. 8:47 is certainly clear in the reason why the pharisees did not believe, and it wasn't directly related to them rejecting Jesus' preaching. Their nature or 'old birth' caused them to reject Jesus, their reject of Jesus did not determine their 'birth'. 1 John 5:1 among others also seems like a tough explanation on your part, but maybe I misunderstood you.

But, then of course you must affirm a general atonement of mankind? If all men who hear have some capacity to believe, then be definition there must be an atonement to justify them, correct? So Christ's death was a failure to those who reject Him? Or is this based on foreknowledge?

Grace to you all.

YnottonY said...

Nathan said:

"That is interesting in light of John 8:45-47 and 10:26 where Jesus specifically tells the pharisees that they cannot believe because they are not of God. 8:47 is certainly clear in the reason why the pharisees did not believe, and it wasn't directly related to them rejecting Jesus' preaching. Their nature or 'old birth' caused them to reject Jesus, their reject of Jesus did not determine their 'birth'. 1 John 5:1 among others also seems like a tough explanation on your part, but maybe I misunderstood you."

Me now:
I have no idea why you think such things would be tough to explain on my part. Are you saying that the pharisees lacked the necessary faculties with which to trust? Was the image of God in them so obliterated so that they were no longer volitional creatures? I doubt you would hold that view. So, when I say they had the "natural ability" to believe, I don't mean that they had libertarian freedom or that they were not children of wrath by nature. By "nature", I mean their constitution as human beings. The term "nature" can be just as unclear as "ability" or "cannot." Check out Greg Bahnsen's lecture on "Foreordination and Freewill." He elaborates on the different senses of "can" or "cannot."

If you get the impression that I deny Total Inability in the sense of Total Moral Inability, then you have misunderstood me. When Jesus said that the pharisees could not believe in him, I take it that he means that they were so fixed in their stubborn unbelief (by both their inherited depravity and their own personal acts) that they were morally incapable of coming to him. They were slaves to their sin. Jesus' was NOT telling them that they didn't even have a trust-forming faculty or will. Can you see what I am saying? This is what I mean when I distinguish between "natural" (or constitional) and moral ability.

Nathan also said:
"But, then of course you must affirm a general atonement of mankind? If all men who hear have some capacity to believe, then be definition there must be an atonement to justify them, correct? So Christ's death was a failure to those who reject Him? Or is this based on foreknowledge?"

Me now:
It depends on what you mean by "atonement." So that you may study the matter further, I will tell you that I believe in R. L. Dabney's Limited Atonement (2,3) and W. G. T. Shedd's Unlimited Atonement at the same time :-) If you research both of them, you will discover what I mean by this riddle. You will also discover that my view is classically Calvinistic. I have written quite a bit about this matter on my blog, so I don't want to derail Tom's blog entry here to go into that issue extensively.

There's a sense in which I would agree with what Akin said (though I don't know the details of how he works out his view), i.e. an "unlimited provision with a limited application." In other words, I would say that Christ suffered for all sufficiently, but only for the elect effectually, just like many great Calvinists taught. I am a Synodist/Dortian on the point, but not an Owenist.

I would NOT argue from constitional ability to the necessity of a sufficient satisfaction for all, contrary to the impression that you seem to have. It's as if you suspect me of some sort of free will theology for some odd reason. I'm not even sure that non-Calvinists/Arminians would argue that way.

With respect to Christ's death "failing" or being "in vain," I would say what the great Calvinst (and Chaplain to Oliver Cromwell) and Puritan John Howe said in his work "Of Reconcilation Between God and Man," in The Works of John Howe (Soli Deo Gloria, 1990):

"If thou wilt not be reconciled, Christ did, as to thee, die in vain; thou canst be nothing the better. Think what it must come to, that so precious blood, (infinitely exceeding the value of all corruptible things; silver and gold, &c. 1 Pet. i. 18, 19,) should be shed, to redeem and save such as thou, and yet do thee no good?
[4.] If thou continue to the last unreconciled, it not only doth thee no good, but it must cry, and plead, most terribly against thee. Blood guiltiness is a fearful thing! What must it be, to be guilty of such blood! If thou wert guilty of the blood of thy father, thy child, or of the wife of thy bosom, how would it astonish thee! But to be guilty of the blood of the Son of God! How canst thou live under it? If thou wert guilty of all the innocent blood that ever was shed since the creation of the world, it were not comparable to the guilt of this blood!"

Howe is agreeing with Calvin's theology. Consider this statement by Calvin himself:

"And the first thing to be attended to is, that so long as we are without Christ and separated from him, nothing which he suffered and did for the salvation of the human race is of the least benefit to us."

These are the views that I hold. I hope that helps :-)

Tony, aka the Arminian Suspect lol

p.s. Please spare me from the recommendation to read Helm and Nicole. I already have.

volfan007 said...

greg b.,

no extreme calvinists in here?!? are you reading some of the same comments that i am?

volfan007

Andrew said...

YnottonY,
Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions.
You asked:
“Who are the "many reformed leaders" that you have in mind? Are you saying that they don't emphasize it or that they deny that it is well-intentioned?”

My fault for not being more specific. Some of whom am thinking of (you agreed that there are “many”) do not emphasize common grace, but some go out of their way to emphasize it. None that I know of deny it.

I am not a historian, but I regard denial of common grace as a staple tenet of hypercalvinism. I think that all agree on this. Correct me if that is historically inaccurate.

That the gospel offer is “well-intentioned” the way you define it is rarely emphasized. It gets lost because God’s decretive-will intentions (which are not salvific) prevail in the end, and so that is usually what is emphasized.

Okay I really don’t want to give names of “reformed leaders” for fear of misrepresenting their views. I will offer their names in the form of a question (yes I am backpedaling, but you and Phil Johnson agree that there are “many”!) Do you find that Pink, Sproul or Reymond have emphasized in their writings that God ardently desires to bring the non-elect to repentance? I have not read everything they have written (who possibly could?!), but that does not come through clearly in what I have read.

For example, the flip side of God’s revealed will (desiring repentance from the non-elect) in Romans 2:4 is his decretive will (storing up wrath for themselves by their ingratitude). In my experience, the latter is usually emphasized much more than the former. So when in your original post you referred to “many” hypercalvinists who don’t know it, who deny a well-intentioned gospel offer… at first I thought you were indicting lots of people. I misunderstood you and I’m grateful that you took the time to correct me.

SelahV said...

Hello Again Steve, You are getting around tonite. Or is it morning down under? Thanks for your kudos. "Anxiety in a man's heart weighs it down, but an encouraging word makes it glad." Prov. 12:25. I think there has been more than enough anxiety to anchor the host of heaven over here in America, these days. And anytime a Christian examines h/her heart, we're apt to be surprised at what we find. It's more difficult when we stray into examining our brother's and sister's heart that we get into real trouble, agreed?

You said, "You've all kept it sweet and allowed much more light than heat." I'm glad you see it that way.

As far as "mixing metaphors being worse than heaping up adjectives", I'll defer that question to others. It seems I've failed miserably in my attempt at explaining my insight on adjectives. It's probably because I have a cold. :)

DR. ASCOL: I took a great deal of thought in my attempt to answer your questions to me in the most direct, honest way I knew how. I was trying to keep in mind the six messages you said are present in any conversation "what you said, what you think you said, what I think you said. Then there is what I said, what I think I said, and what you think I said. The further apart those 6 things are, the less we have communicated."

I think I missed the mark considerably in communicating by what I think you think I meant. For that I am sorry. I'm going to try again.

In your latest response you said, "I wonder of "hypocrites," "whitewashed tombs," "serpents" or "brood of vipers" "worked" for the Scribes and Pharisees? Our Lord was willing to employ language that was impolite in order to communicate plainly."

What do you wonder in respect to how the Lord spoke? Are you using those statements of our Lord to address my concerns over using an abundance of adjectives?

I cannot argue with the Lord's usage of any word He chooses to use. He is God, after all. And being perfect, without sin, I'd say He probably had a pretty good command of language. But I think He also, being God/man knew the hearts of those whom He described.

I don't know the hearts of others. I can only determine what I think they are saying, what I read that they wrote and what I heard them say. I'm not Jesus and any time I am tempted to call a person a name, the Spirit reminds me that I probably have a board in my eye. I'm not saying you do, I'm saying that is what happens to me each and every time I consider adding adjectives to describe someone's character. Thus, to communicate in an environment that tends to be divided in views, I find it helpful and wise to refrain from using the adjectives as much as possible.

I did see what you had previously written about the "extreme" word and that you considered them disrespectful and prideful. So you are correct, I don't have to presume anything. So I won't. I guess I was trying to make clear to others who may have missed what you said by saying what I did. That's that silly presumptive mother in me. I'm sorry. :)

I understand what Dr. Akin was talking about and to whom he was directing his letter. Personally, I find no fault with his words, content or intent. I feel he wrote it in a Spirit of love and concern.

I hate to see a provoked, or unprovoked Christian labeled anything other than brother or sister. I hate to see someone take what you are saying here and dissect it somewhere else. I hate to see someone take anyone's words and copy and paste without first informing the other of their intentions and giving opportunity for the other to speak to those words. I sit here tonite, typing these words to you, knowing full well any set of sentences could be taken out of context and plunked in the middle of some other dialog and mean an entirely different thing than what I intended them to mean. And for the record, I am not suggesting that YOU Dr. Ascol, have done anything like this. I am speaking about these things to give you background and clarity to my thought-processing.

I'm not the blog-patrol and don't want to be. I pray with all my heart that this issue has been resolved in some manner. If there are ill-feelings I pray folks will find it in their hearts to forgive the ones whom they feel have offended them and misrepresented them.

I think I see a great deal of great thinking minds over here. It grieves me that some felt demeaned or unworthily criticized. But honestly, Dr. Ascol, criticism abounds no matter which view one holds. It is never fun to receive undue criticism or to be stereotyped in a "they", "them" group.

I am not so naive as to think the north and south poles have met at the equator on the subject of Calvinism. But maybe, just maybe we could pitch "this" situation into the sea. Maybe not. I still pray. selahV

Greg B said...

Volfan:
Read my entire post. Get the context. Many of us shoot off hear, among like minded folk, but in our lives and ministries we cooperate with folks that don't agree with us all the time, and don't publicly say many of the things we air in blog or with our like-minded friends. I do not condone it, but I believe it is true. You truly "extreme Calvinists" can challenge me or prove me wrong.
Greg B

Calvinist Gadfly said...

I am encouraged to hear Dr. Akin make these remarks. It is refreshing.

J. Gray said...

I'm sorry, but in SBC life...there are WAAAYYY more non-Calvinists who don't evangelize than Calvinists who don't.

If Calvinists only make up 10% of SBC members, how can you blame them that 70% (or whatever the number is) of churches are plateaued or declining.

I think people just want someone to blame...Calvinists are the easy target.

At my church, the people doing evangelism and outreach are majority Calvinists. In fact, I can think of no Calvinist in our church that isn't active in evangelism and our outreach programs. But I'd say that 95% of the non-Calvinists are not involved.

So what does that tell you?

These guys are arguing against a strawman. They have no real evidence to support their views. They are all bark.

Chris Combs said...

I find all this fuss about "calvinism" to be both entertaining and disheartening at the same time. I had the good fortune of being bithed in a "sovereign grace" church. You would call my church "calvinistic" if you looked only at our theology.

But, if you looked at the heart of our body, you would probably believe you were looking at a church described in the book of Acts.

Not that we have arrived, for we know that we are to love one another (a command repeated three times in scripture). The only reason we are ever divided is because of the chief sin, that is our old enemy, pride.

When you find yourself condemning another brother because of a disagreement over scripture, we/I/uou need to look and examine ourselves to see if we are disagreeing because of selfish pride, or are we disagreeing over a lack of understanding of scripture?

What do we have that God has not given us? What do we have to be "proud" of? Paul, the "chief of sinners" said that his only boast was in Christ, and nothing else.

We need to pray before we speak, that what comes out of our mouths will glorify God, and not seek to exalt ourselves by our words.

Something to think about ......

Grace Writer said...

It would be nice if Dr. Akin would learn that if Christ's redemptive work was limited in its application, it must have been limited in its design. This, of course, assumes a belief that God has ordained whatsoever comes to pass. How can any statement be clearer than the Canons of Dordt on the subject of the all-sufficiency of Christ's redeeming work? Yet, Dr. Akin, and others like him, continue to write about some sort of universal provision that ostensibly goes beyond that universal sufficiency. Perhaps he could explain to us how the atonement he believes in is more sufficient than the atonement we preach.