Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Response to A Statement of the Traditional Southern Baptist Understanding of God's Plan of Salvation, Part 9

[Part 1 of this series]
[Part 2 of this series]
[Part 3 of this series]
Could W.A. Criswell have signed this statement?
[Part 4 of this series]
[Part 5 of this series]
[Part 6 of this series]
[Part 7 of this series]
[Part 8 of this series]

Article Six: The Election to Salvation

We affirm that, in reference to salvation, election speaks of God's eternal, gracious, and certain plan in Christ to have a people who are His by repentance and faith.
We deny that election means that, from eternity, God predestined certain people for salvation and others for condemnation.
Genesis 1:26-28; 12:1-3; Exodus 19:6; Jeremiah 31:31-33; Matthew 24:31; 25:34; John 6:70; 15:16; Romans 8:29-30, 33;9:6-8; 11:7; 1 Corinthians 1:1-2; Ephesians 1:4-6; 2:11-22; 3:1-11; 4:4-13; 1 Timothy 2:3-4; 1 Peter 1:1-2; 1 Peter 2:9; 2 Peter 3:9; Revelation 7:9-10
The lack of precision in the affirmation of this article makes its meaning ambiguous. The words "eternal, gracious, and certain" reflect emphases that the Bible itself makes regarding the doctrine of election. For example, Paul writes, God "chose us in him before the foundation of the world....In love he predestined us for adoption..." (Ephesians 1:4-5, emphasis added). But unlike Paul, the authors of this statement reduce election to the devising of a "plan" by God "to have a people who are His by repentance and faith" rather than the actual choice of people to be "holy and blameless before him" (Ephesians 1:4). The Baptist Faith and Message 2000 speaks of election as God's "purpose" rather than his "plan." Article IV says,
Election is the gracious purpose of God, according to which He regenerates, justifies, sanctifies, and glorifies sinners. It is consistent with the free agency of man, and comprehends all the means in connection with the end. It is the glorious display of God's sovereign goodness, and is infinitely wise, holy, and unchangeable. It excludes boasting and promotes humility.
It seems that the authors of the affirmation are following the late Herschel Hobbs who said of these verses, "Paul says that God elected a plan of salvation." I disagree with Hobbs at this point because the object of "chose" (exelexato) in verse 4 is "us"--people, believers--not a plan. Hobbs further described election as a fence that God set up, determining that only those who are "in Christ" will be saved. Again, the problem that I have with this view is not I disagree that God has purposed to save people "in Christ." Rather, my problem is grammatical. God is the subject of Paul's sentence. "Chose" is the verb. "Us" is the object. My view of inspiration will not allow me to deviate from the plain meaning of this plain statement. The object of election is people, not a plan.

It may be that the authors and signers of this statement do not agree with Hobbs, however. Perhaps they are affirming that election is God's choice to have for his people whoever repents and believes. This leaves one wondering if they are elect because they repent and believe or do they repent and believe because they are elect. Though I suspect that they mean the former, it is hard to know exactly because the statement is imprecise.

The denial is less ambiguous though it still leaves much to be desired with regard to clarity and simplicity. Here is what is obvious: they deny that God predestines anyone to heaven or hell. It is not uncommon to find references to "double predestination" when addressing this issue. In one sense the doctrine of unconditional election cannot escape its corresponding implication that if some are predestined to be saved then those who are not predestined to be saved are in some sense predestined to remain lost. Of course, this fact becomes an easy target for those who choose to do theology by caricature.

Typically, the misrepresentation goes something like this: "Calvinists believe that in eternity past God chose to send certain people to heaven and chose to send certain people to hell." Contrast this to the carefully worded statement from the Philadelphia Baptist Confession of Faith of 1742,
By the decree of God, for the manifestation of His glory, some men and angels are predestinated, or foreordained to eternal life through Jesus Christ, to the praise of his glorious grace; others being left to act in their sin to their just condemnation, to the praise of his glorious justice (chapter 3, paragraph 3).
 Note the lack of symmetry in the way that God's eternal decree is described. He positively, actively, predestines some to eternal life while others are simply "left to act in their sin and just condemnation." In other words (without going too deeply into the lapsarian question), in eternity past, when God chose particular sinners to be saved, He did not regard them as neutral or righteous, but as fallen and sinful. As such, election is the beginning of his rescue mission. It is His first step in His work to insure the salvation of sinners. He does not act in a symmetrical way with those whom he does not elect. That is, he does not "elect them to hell." They are already on the way to hell. God simply leaves them "to act in their sin to their just condemnation." This act of "non-election" is properly called preterition.

This is the way that the Bible teaches election. "But we ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the firstfruits be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth" (2 Thessalonians 2:13). Jesus says, "All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out" (John 6:37). Again, it is important to deal honestly with the grammar of God's inerrant Word. God is always the subject and people are always the objects of election. Though I can think of two references in Scripture that could be taken to suggest that God intentionally fashioned some people for hell (Romans 9:22-23 and 1 Peter 2:8), the overwhelming emphasis is on His positive initiative to choose particular people to be saved.

This is why many shorter Baptist confessions only speak of election as the positive choice of God to rescue particular sinners through the provision of the gospel and operation of the Spirit. For example, the first confession that Southern Baptists ever produced, the Abstract of Principles of 1858 (which, by the way, every professor at Southern Seminary and Southeastern Seminary is contractually bound to teach in accordance with and not contrary to), states in Article V,
Election is God's eternal choice of some persons unto everlasting life--not because of foreseen merit in them, but of his mere mercy in Christ--in consequence of which choice they are called, justified and glorified.
Or consider the New Hampshire Baptist Confession of 1853, which is the confessional foundation on which the Baptist Faith and Message, in all of its iterations, is built.
We believe that Election is the eternal purpose of God, according to which he graciously regenerates, sanctifies, and saves sinners; that being perfectly consistent with the free agency of man, it comprehends all the means in connection with the end; that it is a most glorious display of God's sovereign goodness, being infinitely free, wise, holy, and unchangeable; that it utterly excludes boasting, and promotes humility, love, prayer, praise, trust in God, and active imitation of his free mercy; that it encourages the use of means in the highest degree; that it may be ascertained by its effects in all who truly believe the gospel; that it is the foundation of Christian assurance; and that to ascertain it with regard to ourselves demands and deserves the utmost diligence.
These three traditional Baptist confessions of faith (and this number could have been easily multiplied in this article) stand in stark contrast to the statement offered by those who would like to be thought of as representing the "traditional" Baptist understanding of salvation. Let's let the first Southern Baptist Theologian who produced a systematic theology textbook have the final say on this subject John L. Dagg's Manual of Theology is worth reading, especially Book 7, chapter 4, section 1, from which the quote below is extracted.
Those who are not included in the election of grace, are called, in Scripture, "the rest,"[50] and vessels of wrath."[51] Why they are not included, we are as unable to explain as why the others are included; and we are therefore compelled to refer the matter to the sovereignty of God, who, beyond all doubt, acts herein most wisely and righteously, though he has not explained to us the reasons of his procedure. His absolute sovereignty, in the discrimination which he makes, is expressed by Paul in these words: "He hath mercy on whom he will have mercy; and whom he will he hardeneth."[52] The natural tendency of human depravity is such, that the heart grows harder under the general mercies which God bestows, unless he superadds to all the other benefits which he confers, the renewing grace of the Holy Spirit, by which the heart is changed. This renewing grace he gives or withholds at his sovereign pleasure. This sovereignty, in so bestowing mercy as to soften the hard heart, is unquestionably taught by the words just quoted, however we may interpret the phrase "he hardeneth." It is not necessary to understand these words as implying a positive act of God, exerted for the purpose of producing hardness of heart, and directed to this end. When Paul speaks of the vessels of mercy, he says that God hath "afore prepared" them for glory; but when he speaks of the vessels of wrath, as fitted for destruction, he does not say that God has fitted them for this end.[53] As the potter, out of the same mass, makes one vessel to honor and another to dishonor;[54] so God, out of the same mass of mankind, prepares some for glory, as vessels of mercy; while others, whatever benefits abuse the mercies which he bestows, and, growing harder by the influence of their natural depravity, are vessels of wrath fitted for destruction.
[50] Rom. xi. 7.
[51] Rom. ix. 22.
[52] Rom. ix. 18.
[53] Rom. ix. 22, 23.
[54] Rom. ix. 21.


Mike Logsdon said...

I was preaching, not very long ago, at a place in Derbyshire, to a congregation, nearly all of whom were Methodists, and as I preached, they were crying out, "Hallelujah! Glory! Bless the Lord!." They were full of excitement, until I went on to say in my sermon, "This brings me to the doctrine of Election." There was no crying out of "Glory!" and "Hallelujah!" then. Instead, there was a great deal of shaking of the head, and a sort of telegraphing round the place, as though something dreadful was coming. Now, I thought, I must have their attention again, so I said, "You all believe in the doctrine of Election?" "No, we don't, lad," said one. "Yes, you do, and I am going to preach it to you, and make you cry 'Hallelujah!' over it." I am certain they mistrusted my power to do that; so, turning a moment from the subject, I said,
"Is there any difference between you and the ungodly world?" "Ay! Ay! Ay!"
"Is there any difference between you and the drunkard, the harlot, the blasphemer?" "Ay! Ay! Ay!" Ay! there was a difference indeed.

"Well, now," I said, "there is a great difference; who made it, then?" for, whoever made the difference, should have the glory of it.
"Did you make the difference?" "No, lad," said one; and the rest all seemed to join in the chorus. "Who made the difference, then? Why, the Lord did it; and did you think it wrong for Him to make a difference between you and other men?"
"No, no," they quickly said.
"Very well, then; if it was not wrong for God to make the difference, it was not wrong for Him to purpose to make it, and that is the doctrine of Election."
Then they cried, "Hallelujah!" as I said they would.

The doctrine of Election is God's purposing in His heart that He would make some men better than other men; that He would give to some men more grace than to other men; that some should come out and receive the mercy; that others, left to their own free will, should reject it; that some should gladly accept the invitations of mercy, while others, of their own accord, stubbornly refuse the mercy to which the whole world of mankind is invited. All men, by nature, refuse the invitations of the gospel. God, in the sovereignty of His grace, makes a difference by secretly inclining the hearts of some men, by the power of His Holy Spirit, to partake of His everlasting mercy in Christ Jesus. I am certain that, whether we are Calvinists or Arminians, if our hearts are right with God, we shall all adoringly testify: "We love Him, because He first loved us." If that be not Election, I know not what it is.


R. Cofield said...


Why aren't your responses to "The Statement" being posted on SBC Today and the like?

Tom said...

I'd be glad to let anyone who wants to post them wherever they'd like. :-)

openid said...

I have no dog in this hunt; I'm just a visiting Presbyterian. I just wanted to tell you how much I have enjoyed reading your responses.

As for the topic of election, I am continually amazed that election has become such a divisive topic. God 'elected' Jonah to go to Nineveh against his will. God 'elected' Saul, an avowed enemy of the early church, to take Jesus' name to the Gentiles. I'm pretty sure that Saul had freely chosen to oppose Jesus of his own free will. God just had other plans.

I've always seen election sort of like using tender to light a fireplace. If you want a nice full blaze, you've got to pick a few small twigs to light first. Doesn't mean those are the only ones that will burn, just means those are the ones picked to be lit first.


DoGLover said...

Imagine an ad posted in a local paper: "Wanted: wife. I'm not picky at all. If you choose me, you'll do."

Now imagine a young man kneeling before the woman he loves, taking her hands & looking in her eyes, as he declares his undying love for her alone. He pledges to cherish her exclusively with his life & asks her to marry him.

The difference is that the first guy's still single & the second one's happily married.

Michael said...

Tom, one possible (and oft-cited) explanation for the use of the word "election" is that God elected to save a people, or in other words, a generation. I've heard many lay people speak of God electing to save the generations beginning with Jesus. They say that when Paul is talking about election, he's talking about how he's a part of this elect generation, who have witnessed the coming of Christ.

I'm not saying it makes the best sense, but I've often seen that terminology, and it may be what some of these objectors have in mind.

Russell Taylor said...

They Affirm: "election speaks of God's ... CERTAIN plan in Christ to have a people" Hmmm. In what since can election to have a people be CERTAIN if God has no control in the necessary repentance and faith?

Russell Taylor said...

oops. I meant "sense"

Matt M. said...

Over at my site, I posted a short, humorous post, but I think it makes sense.

Since one side has decided to become the "Traditionalist" camp. Can the other start using the term "Originalist." I hold to an "Originalist" view of soteriology in the SBC.

R. Cofield said...


Per your tongue-in-cheek non-objection...your response to the T.S. on regeneration is now posted as the first comment on SBC Today's new discussion thread.

Soli Deo Gloria

Darrel said...

Tom, Thank you for your insight and faithfulness to the Word and for dissecting the arguments put forth by those who claim to speak the truth and are not.

Most of what has been stated by these gentlemen is nothing more than repackaged Armininism with a new bow on top. They speak lies in hypocrisy by claiming that which cannot be proven, by the misinterpretation of Scripture, by elevating the "free-will" of man to a status above that of the sovereignty of God and by the preaching of "another gospel" as per Gal. 1:6-9.

The "other gospel" that they espouse has as it's banner the "free-will" of man. They teach that for a person to be saved they must cooperate with God in the saving of their own soul to the extent that without said "cooperation" there would be no salvation. Scripture teaches the exact opposite in that regeneration takes place before faith and repentance and is wholly a work of the Holy Spirit with zero involvement of man in any respect.

So which is it? Is salvation wholly of God without the cooperation of man or does man have an indispensable part in his own salvation? Both of these ideas may be wrong, but both cannot be right. If one is right, then the other is wrong and heretical. So why is it that so many dance around the fact that Arminianism is heresy? Strong words---granted. So is the mockery that these men are trying to make of our Lord and His Gospel. He is either sovereign in all things or He is not. Either He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world or He did not. Either man's "free-will' is necessary to one's salvation or it is not.

Isn't it funny how these men and their cohearts start talking about "unity" when any one challenges their statements? (Ga. BC president) Now we who would contend earnestly for the faith once for all delivered to the saints are called onto the carpet for doing what the Lord has commanded us to do---reprove and expose the evil. Some will melt under the pressure of this kum-ba-ya unity and join hands with this heresy for the sake of appearance. They have their reward. Others, like you, Tom, will continue to sound the alarm and face the wrath of ungodly men.

This "Statement of bla bla bla" must be called for what it is: another gospel. We must trumpet the truth or be sucked down the vortex of apostasy.

Thanks, again, Tom and don't stop

Tom said...

R. Cofield,

That's clever. You probably won't win many friends by doing that. But, thanks! :)

Tom said...


I understand your concerns and share many of them and I am grateful that you are passionate about truth. May you never stop. But I feel like I need to remind you (and myself and others who might share our theological convictions and concerns) that the men who have issued this statement are our brothers. We will spend eternity with them. We agree with them on many things and we should thank God for the good they have done and are doing for His kingdom. In other words, we must love them, which means we must desire the best for them and hope the best of them.

That doesn't mean that we pretend that we agree where we in reality don't. But it does mean, I think, that we try to give the benefit of the doubt where we can, and that we talk to them and of them respectfully, remembering that they are not only fellow image-bearers of our God, but sons of our common heavenly Father. Our Lord shed His blood for them. Shouldn't we at least be able to bear with them patiently and extend to them the kind of grace and understanding that we so desperately need from others?

These things are much easier to say than to do and by saying them I am not trying to suggest that I have already attained in any of these areas. As those who know me well can attest, that is hardly the case. It is, however, what I think all of us need to strive for. I need to be regularly reminded of this as much as anyone.

Thanks for your encouraging words. Let's keep pressing on by following our crucified Lord with a crucified style.


Russell Taylor said...

If they are the "Traditionalist", wouldn't that make us the "Contemporary" group. Who would have ever thought of the Calvinists as the contemporaries. Since most SBC churches are moving toward praise and worship styles, does that make Hymns the contemporary choice?

Jerry Garrison said...

@ Darrel

her·e·sy   [her-uh-see]

1. opinion or doctrine at variance with the orthodox or accepted doctrine, especially of a church or religious system.

Thank you Tom for your response to Darrel. I am of the same opinion. I believe, though, that he is addressing a different position. He is claiming that anyone of the differing viewpoint are not in fact "brothers" or "sons" as you described. That is where the argument for staunch 5-point calvinists must go.

I would like to say that I am not a calvinist but I am currently called to serve with my brother-in-law who is a 5 point calvinist pastor. So, I know a thing or two about how to get along with people who hold an entirely different "opinion" than I do. Just to be clear to people like Darrel, the Gospel is that Christ died to save sinners. It is amazing at how we insist that in order to be saved, one must understand the Gospel, but the vast majority of all my calvinistic friends were saved many years before they ever heard of TULIP! And after "seeing the light", they throw it out that teaching anything less is "heresy" or "another gospel".

And at the first comment on this board, I just want to say that it is a straw man argument that calvinists make. Don't get me wrong. I love Spurgeon and read him often, but their is a different story that illustrates salvation better. When two beggars are standing outside different gates begging for anything, and a "man" offers both the same gift of wealth, health, and happiness. One accepts and the other does not. What is the difference between the two beggars. Neither could affect the change of their life, but one received the gift that was offered and the other did not.

Like all hypotheticals, the illustration will break down on different points, but the parallel is clear. Salvation is all of God, and no one who is orthodox will deny that. But it is a gift that has to be received.

Just as Spurgeon asked his question, what if the question was " What is the difference between a rock and human beings that God would save one and not the other?" The Extreme Sovereignty view fails to realize that there are things God can not do. He can not do what is impossible for him to do. If the more "intellectual crowd" of calvinistic circles would attempt to think through the philosophy behind what they belive, they would realize that all of us are fallen, sin cursed individuals who are still seeing through "a glass darkly". If they would, they would hold to you Tom's thoughtful response about loving each other and following our LORD!

God bless you all.

Darrel said...

Tom, Thanks for your well reasoned response. I truly wish that I could agree with you that this is a simple case of brothers being in error, but that is a difficult conclusion for me to reach. I did not come here to start a fight, but their "free-will" approach to salvation has left many with a false sense of security. For nearly forty years I believed myself to be "saved" because I prayed the right prayer and was sincere in doing so. The "free-will" approach to salvation left me still lost in my sin filled life. In 2004 I agreed to attend a church with my wife. The thoughts in my head as I walked through the door was: "I'm gonna see how God has changed". Throughout these forty +/- years I would remind God that no matter how far into sin I sank, He was obligated to bring me to heaven when I died because I prayed that prayer. What an arrogant jerk I was! Little did I know that the Lord had different plans for me that day. There was this little gray haired Jewish guy (his last name was a dead give away) that began to speak about Jesus. As I saw my true self for the first time ever, my heart broke because I had "hurt God" by all my sins, all I could do was know my sin and cry out for mercy. Mercy was granted and I became a son of God that day.

This decisional regeneration that is taught by those who deny the total sovereignty of God (and most especially in salvation) is not to be found in the Word of God. So why is it given legitimate status as the proper and only way to salvation? There are dozens of verses that must be manipulated or ignored in order to reach such a conclusion. The whole of their theology is based on man having a will that is able to seek God (Rom. 3:10+11) of it's own accord and come to a decision that results in eternal salvation. In all honesty, my Arminian friends, give a few moments of thought to how ridiculous this is and how small you have created a god that fits your taste. I'm not trying to be a bully, I am trying to get you to stop and think of who God really is in all of his glory.

If this were a matter of what some call a "non-essential" doctrine I would likely keep my mouth shut, but this is the eternal salvation of the souls of men that is at stake here. Whether the authors of this "Statement" are saved or not is not for me to say. Whether they speak the truth or lies is my obligation (Eph. 5:11) before the Lord to determine as given the wisdom by the Lord. According to the Word of God they are not speaking the truth. It is my hope that those who find themselves caught in this deception as presented in this "Statement" that are indeed redeemed will be given the gift of repentance.

Our Lord will have all the glory He is due for all of His actions and most especially in the saving of the souls of men.

R. Cofield said...


Well, it does seem that I've had an old-fashioned Anabaptist "ban" placed on me over at SBC Today. :-)

After posting your response to Article 5 of the T.S., I noticed that two of my comments on another thread there were being "held for moderation."

I went back and checked, and my posting of your response had been removed. I consequently checked my email and discovered the following email:

"Please don't submit the entire blog post from another person's blog site in the comments on SBC Today. You are welcome to post your thoughts on the issue and we welcome the dialogue."

This is rather interesting, given that just an hour earlier I had read a five-consecutive-post-offering of a sermon by Dr. Criswell supposedly refuting effectual calling. It consisted of approximately twice as many words as your response.

I emailed the following response to the SBC Today moderator(s):

"Dear Sir(s): In the interest of balance, may I request that Dr. Ascol's posts on these issues be placed on your site?"

I'll let you know if the "ban" is lifted on either of us.

Soli Deo Gloria

Tom said...


Again, I appreciate your passion and reading a bit of your testimony helps me understand some of your hesitancies about these things. I abominate decisional regeneration and have seen the destructive fruit of such practice in the lives of countless people. But we must never allow our experiences to trump Scripture in determining how we are to deal with those who disagree with us. We are called to love even our enemies, and those who have created and promoted this document are not our enemies. So we cannot escape the obligation of love. Trying to do so in the name of truth is to separate what God has joined together.

This does not mean that we close our eyes to what we judge to be errors in our brothers' views. That is why I have responded. I believe that at several points, this statement is misguided and unbiblical. I am trying to deal with it as graciously and ruthlessly-biblically as I can. But I am dealing with statements, not personalities. And my aim is to convince people, not win arguments.

I hope I have demonstrated over the course of my life my conviction that truth matters and that the closer that truth is to the gospel the more it matters. Truth sets us free and truth is the main instrument in our sanctification. So I want to contend for the truth, but I want to do so without coming across as if I think I have everything exactly and correctly figured out. As John MacArthur once said, I know I have blind spots in my theology. I just don't know where they are."

When I think about how patient and longsuffering my Lord is toward me, I am ashamed at how impatient and judgmental I can be toward those who don't agree with me. Again, don't misunderstand me. There is a time to call a snake a snake and there is a time to withstand a brother publicly to his face. But that posture is not the norm that I see in our Lord and his apostles in the New Testament.

Colossians 4:6 regularly rebukes and reorients my engagement in these kinds of arenas. "Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person." Grace means getting better than you deserve. If I am to obey this admonition then I must learn to speak to others better than they deserve, even when I am arguing against their beliefs and practices.

Press on, brother. And thanks again for reading and commenting.


Tom said...


Thanks for letting me know. I guess the rising Anabaptist piety among some of the brethren over there could be to blame. :-)

It's their domain. They can police it as they see fit. Keep pressing on!


Tom Hicks said...

Tom, thanks so much for this post and for your wise remarks in the comments stream. SDG.

Russell Taylor said...


For the last 12 years I've been using the 1689 in my church. I'm now starting a new work and we are about to petition our local association for membership, so I've recently ordered a bunch of the BF&M booklets for our people to read in order to help them understand how calvinistic the official statement of the convention actually is. After reading it again after all this time, I'm reminded of how clearly the language teaches sovereign grace. I'm wondering if anyone has written an exposition of the BF&M, similar to what Waldron has done with the 1689. If you know of any companion studies for the BF&M, I'd like to have something to use with my people. I've searched Lifeway, but not much found.

Tom said...


I think there were articles written on each of the articles in the BFM after the 2000 revision, mostly by seminary professors. BP would have them in their archives. Also, this Fall, at SBTS, chapel services are going to be dedicated to preaching through the BFM. Those messages would be a good resource.

R. Cofield said...


Well, it seems my "ban" has been lifted over at SBC Today. However, all my comments are held for "moderation" for a couple of hours before they are posted. Guess they're keeping me on a short leash. :-)

What is really interesting here is that I have been extremely careful to avoid inflammatory language in my posts, despite some of the mud-slinging that is going on over there. It appears that the mere fact that I posted your response has gotten me red-flagged...and you, my brother, are still under the "ban."

Ah, well. I hope you are not forced to wear a scarlet "C" at the Convention next week. :-)

Thanks again for the precision with which you have engaged the T.S.

Soli Deo Gloria

Tom said...

Thanks, Randall. I am glad that you are back in the good graces of those brethren. I will probably dress in something traditional for the SBC next week, just to confuse folks. ;-)

Keep pressing on,

Paul Sanchez said...

I like that you included the quotation from Dagg's Manual. I just wrote my master's thesis on Dagg's Manual. His work is first rate.

Dale Pugh said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
C. McGalla said...

C. McGalla said...

Tom, I envy the time and effort you have put in to this whole "debate". I am grateful for your thoughtful, precise and accurate comments. Unfortunately I do not think the SBC can handle this debate, but I hope I am wrong

C. McGalla said...

God doesn't have to do any work in the heart of man in order to qualify him for hell; that was done by Adam. To paraphrase Luther (I think): God is no more responsible for evil than the setting sun is responsible for for cold and darkness.