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Aug 17, 2008

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Camel Rider

Peter,
Are you going? Will the climate of this conference be understanding why Calvinism is growing? Or will it turn into an anti-Calvinism conference? If so,what would be the result if a SBC President hosted and spoke at a pro-Calvinism conference?

peter lumpkins

Camel,

Hey, man. I trust you are doing well. And thanks for logging on. Your questions are good ones.

First, I am planning to attend. It is just too close for me not to show up, not to mention some good speakers there.

Secondly, I cannot imagine the climate being anything other than respectful even if dialectic. Not that there will not be a decidedly different take on the traditional "T.U.L.I.P." than one would get at a Founders Conference.

Thirdly, while Dr. Hunt's church is hosting the event, Dr. Hunt's church is not sponsoring the event--not of which I am aware anyway. The sponsor primarily is Jerry Vines Ministries.

As for speaking at the event, Dr. Hunt's views on Calvinism are well known. And while a sitting President should guard his language, being as non-provocative as possible because he is President of Calvinist and NonCalvinist alike, my view is Dr. Hunt is free to acknowledge his view on Calvinism, PPL or any other issue that seems to divide us.

Though Al Mohler is not President of the SBC, were it not for his health, he very well may have been. Even so, he is President at our largest seminary which, in itself, carries a heck of an influential wallop.

Given that, he is also a regular at T4G and Founders events, influencing thousands in a pro-Calvinist manner. Thus, I guess the mass influence concerning which your question raises already possesses a precedent--but for Calvinism.

Thanks again, Camel.

With that, I am...

Peter

Camel Rider

If we were in country I would attend as well. FBCW is one of our home churches and Johnny is a good friend as well. Calvinism is one of many things that I haven't decided 100% where I stand. I guess I would probably be a 2 or 3 pointer. So I would actually enjoy a more intellectual, less emotional, discussion of the various theological aspects of it. And wow,the chance to get another class under my belt....that would be nice....maybe in a few years...
Camel Rider

Byron

Peter:

On the web site it states, "There will be no live or archived streaming audio or video of this conference via the Internet."

Do you know why this is? I did not look at the whole site, but I did not see where it stated that audio/video media would even be available for sale afterwards. I was curious (though I admit that I am uncertain as to whether I would be willing to pay for media).

I looked at the PDF brochure and my eyes almost popped out of my head. Someone did an excellent job with it. It's very professional looking. Even though I probably would disagree with the viewpoints that will be presented at this conference, I must give credit where credit is due. Whoever did that brochure certainly earned it.

John Daly

Why do we continue to call the Doctrines of Grace Calvinism? If we continue, do we not absorb all of Calvin's beliefs? Terminology is important, is it not?

peter lumpkins

Byron,

I am unsure fully why the video streaming will not be available. Some of it may pertain to the stipulations on NOBTS' requirements for class credit. That is, if one signs up for the class, one agrees to attend the conference. But if the conference is available online, that undermines the requirement. I'm only guessing though.

With that, I am...

Peter

peter lumpkins

John,

We continue to call the DoG "Calvinism" because that's an acceptable theological term to describe a particular focus on the Doctrine of Salvation. Nor does it necessarily entail accepting all of Calvin's theology.

To my knowledge, virtually everyone acknowledges this. I'm, therefore, curious as to why you see it as a problem.

With that, I am...

Peter

John Daly

I don’t know, it just seems a bit unfair that we take one aspect of a person’s theology and then label ourselves by their name. Also, it seems a tad unfair to our Presbyterian friends. If something is worth doing, it’s worth doing right so it would behoove us to use a proper definition if we wish to capture an entire system of theological thought. Also, any time we can emphasize His Grace as opposed to a man’s name then that is a good thing. I know Luther did not want his name used in such a manner, I would hope Mr. Calvin was of the same mindset. However, we wouldn’t want to change those perty broshurs :)

peter lumpkins

John,

Thanks for the response. As for the brochures, anything doing is worth doing well, do you not agree?

As for the term "Calvinism", I am afraid you will need to change 3-4 centuries of theological discussion. As i mentioned, 'Calvinism' per se has been a perfectly acceptable term in dialog. To call foul now, without more evidence than one's personal preference makes little sense to me and, I am confident, little sense to the scholars who debate the issues.

With that, I am...

Peter

jasonk

A whole lot of really gifted men, standing up to defend the notion that depraved people have the ability to bring anything at all to the table when it comes to salvation. I'm not being critical, I just don't understand how we can say that salvation is by grace through faith--that Jesus paid it all, and at the same time proclaim that our efforts have a part in the process.

peter lumpkins

Jason,

Your evaluation of the lineup is interesting: "A whole lot of really gifted men, standing up to defend the notion that depraved people have the ability to bring anything at all to the table when it comes to salvation." If you can find one quote of any one of these speakers who believes and teaches that "depraved people have the ability to bring anything at all to the table when it comes to salvation", I'd like to see it. In fact, you will be my hero, saving me from endorsing a conference filled with false prophets.

I do not expect evidence though. Therefore, keep the unjustified and, consequently, false assertions to a minimum please.

With that, I am...

Peter

Byron

John,

I'm going to have to agree with Peter on this one. Calvinism has been an acceptable theological term for a long time now. I do not like it, but I have no real problem with it. Theological systems need names, and most of the time any name is better than none. I personally am an amateur supralapsarian, and hope to graduate to professional status some day. ;)

I personally prefer the name Calvinism to DoG. In the KJV, the word "doctrines" always has a negative context, either having to deal with the doctrines of men, or the doctrines of devils. "Doctrine of Grace" does not sound right, though in truth it is all one seamless doctrine centered in the personhood of God expressed as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. I have used the term Sovereign Grace, but I consider that redundant (there is no other kind of true grace). I could call it Augustinianism, but that just moves the argument over naming things after men further back in history. I could call it Christianity, since "Christian" means being a follower of Christ, but then I would offend those who do not hold to this who might think that such words accuse them of not being Christians (for the record, I do not believe you have to be a Calvinist to be a Christian). I could go all the way back to Genesis and perhaps call the first parents "accidental Calvinists" to use anachronistic terms, but I'll go even further back and just say salvation begins and ends with God, period, and I'm not really concerned what others call it.

peter lumpkins

Byron,

You write: "[I will] just say salvation begins and ends with God, period, and I'm not really concerned what others call it." Sweet Day in Georgia! A Calvinist who thinks like me? What'll they think of next?!! :^)

With that, I am...

Peter

Byron

Peter:

That makes sense about the course requirements of NOBTS. Thanks.

Speaking of Georgia, are you worried about Hurricane Fay? (hopefully it will be considerably weakened by then).

jasonk

Peter,
From my perspective, that is exactly what many anti-Calvinists believe and teach.
Consider this. I was at an associational meeting once, and the leadership was frustrated because very few people had volunteered to man the booth at the state fair. One of the leaders said something that I will never forget: "Its a shame that people will go out into eternity lost because not enough people volunteered to man this booth." My question to these leaders was this: "if God is sovereign, do you not think that He has the power to save people, in spite of the fact that few people have volunteered?" In other words, does God really need my presence at a state fair booth to accomplish His saving purpose? Their response to me was that yes, there will be people who spend eternity in hell, because I had a previous engagement and could not be a the state fair that week.
Now these are Southern Baptist leaders, not unlike many of the people on the speakers list at this conference. And what this says to me is that I have a lot more power than I am comfortable with, when it comes to people coming to Christ.

peter lumpkins

Jason,

A few things if I may. First, who is an 'anti-Calvinist' on the platform listed above? I recall sharing my excitement that this is a scholarly conference, with stellar, unquestionably credentialed academics offering papers on each point in the TULIP. If you would be so kind as to point to something one of these scholars has written that gives credence to your unjustified assertion that "Now these are Southern Baptist leaders, not unlike many of the people on the speakers list at this conference", I'd be open to talking about it. Otherwise, your assertion is simply frivolous.

Secondly, let's test your example. I need only switch the subject to see if it makes good gospel sense. Note your example below, Jason. Your wording is the same but I've switched to foreign missions:

"One of the leaders said something that I will never forget: "Its a shame that people will go out into eternity lost because not enough people volunteered to go to the mission field." My question to these leaders was this: "if God is sovereign, do you not think that He has the power to save people, in spite of the fact that few people have volunteered?" In other words, does God really need my presence on the mission field to accomplish His saving purpose? Their response to me was that yes, there will be people who spend eternity in hell, because I had a previous engagement and could not go to the mission field...And what this says to me is that I have a lot more power than I am comfortable with, when it comes to people coming to Christ" (my words in italics).

What you seem to be suggesting, Jason, is not at all unlike what historic HyperCalvinists argued contra Carey: "Sit down, young man. God is big enough to save the heathen without the likes of us to help Him out."

It's this kind of non-thinking, Jason, that gives Calvinists who wholeheartedly believe in evangelism the short end of the theological stick. It may be more personally productive for you to just sit this thread out, my friend.

With that, I am...

Peter

jasonk

Peter, I know that you and I have had our differences before, but why does that give you cause to act the way you do toward me? I am asking legitimate questions, and all you are interested in doing is being mean and condescending.

I think your changing my words around makes sense, and I believe Scripture has addressed this. If we don't speak up, God will cause the rocks to cry out. My only point is that as soon as we start taking the credit for leading someone to the Lord, as if to say, "man, its a good thing I volunteered for the mission field, or else this whole country would be damned to hell," then salvation becomes a human act, not a divine one.

My assertion that this conference is made up of people who are anti-Calvinist is from the advertisement, where they felt compelled to state that this would not be a conference where Calvinists are bashed. If they have to say that, well, perhaps my use of the term "anti-Calvinist" was out of place. Perhaps I should have said that these were people who are opposed theologically to the doctrines of Calvin. Better?

peter lumpkins

Jason,

First, I am oblivious to your remark that "all [I am] interested in doing is being mean and condescending." If that is your view, I can live with it but I am uninterested in this thread becoming about me.

Second, Jason, while I did not change your words around but only switched subjects, keeping precisely the same point about global evangelism you were attempting to make with your example, hoping you would see the non sequiturin it, my brother; but instead you embrace it by suggesting that we don't have to go to the mission field, since the rocks will cry out if we don't.

Once again, this language is very similar to historic Hyper-calvinism, of which the quintessential position is expressed in this bumper sticker: "Sit down, young man. God is big enough to save the heathen without the likes of us to help Him out" (Besides, He has plenty of rocks, does He not?).

You conclude: "My only point is that as soon as we start taking the credit for leading someone to the Lord...then salvation becomes a human act, not a divine one." The problem, as I see it, Jason, is the failure to make a distinction--a distinction which most Calvinists carefully point out--between salvation itself and the means to salvation. Calvinists regularly make such distinction which, in their view, argues for the consistency of Unconditional Election and the need to evangelize. That is, for Calvinists, God ordained our going as the very means to save those folks. Furthermore, as a means to get us to go, God gave the direct command to do so.

Nor does salvation become a human act because humans share the gospel, regardless if people do attempt to take credit. How my stealing God's glory cancels out another's personal commitment I fail to understand.

How strange I find it that I am defending Calvinism here!

With that, I am...

Peter

P.S. Jason, I am glad to answer any question to the best of my ability. However, please do not come back slinging the blade of arrogance and condescension. The days of personal assaults are over at SBCTomorrow.

volfan007

It's interesting that JasonK and others like him do not see the hypercalvinist thoughts of his comment. Peter, you are spot on in what you said to JasonK. You are very correct, and it's statements like JasonK's that gets non-5 pointers so concerned about the emergence of aggresive, extreme five point Calvinists who have come on the scene here lately. It's the very reason that this John 3:16 conference is taking place, imho.


David

Byron

Forgive me, but I'm going to have to respond according to what I believe here, which is from the Calvinist point of view.

I do not believe jasonk was being hypercalvinistic in his questions and general response. Yes, God has ordained the means of salvation, which is preaching the gospel. God also has an elect people whom He will save, and them alone. God who has all power and is the supreme and sole author of our salvation will not allow any of them to perish, regardless of negligence of witnessing on any part of his saved elect. Not one single elect person will be lost due to a failure or unwillingness on jasonk's part (or mine, or anyone else's) to man a volunteer booth or go the mission field. On the contrary, because salvation is by the regeneration of the Holy Spirit in the new birth as explained by Christ Himself in John 3, unless the Spirit moves, it matters not how often we volunteer at booths, or even go the mission field. But God will make the elect willing in the day of his power (Psalm 110:3), and I believe this even applies to the willingness and ability to volunteer for mission fields or even manning booths. Salvation begins with God, has God for its author, and salvation in Christ for its effect. It is because of this I must reject man-centered evangelism which appeals to the will of man to save himself, and not the Holy Spirit of God who actually saves His elect.

Byron

Just want to make an additional clarification. I do NOT deny human responsibility (at least, not intentionally). John 3:18-21 speaks to this as well, that men hate the light and love darkness because their deeds are evil. And the scriptural call is to repent and believe God. Acts 17:30-31 says "30 And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent: 31 Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead."

peter lumpkins

David,

Thanks. And, I think you are right about the reason why the J316C will be a blessing to the SBC. Perhaps we can fellowship there if you decide to make the trek...

Byron,

I appreciate your contribution. Unfortunately, either I am wrong in my understanding of at least one practical nuance of historic HyperCalvinism or you have perhaps missed my point--at least that's the way I see it.

Would you please, Byron, tell me the substantial difference, if any, between the following three statements:

"God is big enough to save the heathen without the likes of us to help Him out"

"Does God really need my presence [on the mission field] to accomplish His saving purpose?"

"God who has all power and is the supreme and sole author of our salvation will not allow any of them to perish, regardless of negligence of witnessing on any part of his saved elect."

As for me, if there is a substantial difference, I fail to grasp it which is why I'd request you'd point it out.

Further, Byron, you seem to have a glaring inconsistency in what you just proposed. Consider your words:

A) "Yes, God has ordained the means of salvation, which is preaching the gospel..."

B) "Not one single elect person will be lost due to a failure or unwillingness on jasonk's part (or mine, or anyone else's) to man a volunteer booth or go the mission field."

For me, Byron, I do not see how you can hold both of these as they presently exist barring a blaring inconsistency. For while making the God ordained means to being saved preaching the gospel--an idea throughly biblical in every way--you strangely reverse yourself in the second statement by severing the God ordained means to being saved as having absolutely nothing to do with the preaching of the gospel.

Tell me, Byron, if the saving of the elect is not dependent upon the preaching of the gospel that either jasonk's, yours, mine or "anyone else's", as you say, but the preaching of the gospel, according to your own position, is the God-ordained means to salvation, just who is left to take the message? Jason says the rocks will cry out. I am wondering, however, if rocks can expressly teach the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. If I am honest, I don't think that's what Scripture has in mind at that point.

Finally, Byron, I think you may have mentioned the New Birth prematurely, or at least hastily. You write:

"...salvation is by the regeneration of the Holy Spirit in the new birth... unless the Spirit moves, it matters not how often we volunteer at booths, or even go the mission field. But God will make the elect willing in the day of his power...Salvation begins with God, has God for its author, and salvation in Christ for its effect. It is because of this I must reject man-centered evangelism which appeals to the will of man to save himself, and not the Holy Spirit of God who actually saves His elect."

A few things if I may. First, we are not speaking about salvation itself. Jason specifically addressed the means to salvation, not salvation itself when he spoke of volunteering, etc.. Yet your comment seems threaded with "salvation begins with God...unless the Holy Spirit moves", etc. All such is beside the point we're making. You won't get any contrary opinion here about that.

Secondly, an interesting statement you make in the midst of speaking about the New Birth: "But God will make the elect willing in the day of his power." My question, Byron, is, willing to what? Without the preaching of the gospel, what is it the elect are made willing to do?

The way I understand the Calvinism with which I come to know, is that the New Birth serves as the revelation of the Gospel. Simply, one is born again so that he/she may repent and believe in Christ. Yet, without a proclaimed Christ, just what is it that a born again person is supposed to believe?

I stand open to correction, but regeneration, for Calvinists, is initially revelatory in nature. It opens one's spiritual eyes to the saving message of Jesus. But, we are now right back at the beginning: if the preaching of the gospel or the saving message of Jesus, according to your own position, is the God-ordained means to salvation, just who is left to take the message if not jasonk, you, me, or anyone else?

From my standpoint, what has been expressed here by jasonk and unfortunately you, my brother, albeit unintentional I'm confident, is nothing short of a thinly veiled, incipient historic hyperCalvinism.

To my knowledge it's the first time in almost three years of blogging I've described such.

With that, I am...


Byron

Peter:

I said, "But God will make the elect willing in the day of his power (Psalm 110:3), and I believe this even applies to the willingness and ability to volunteer for mission fields or even manning booths."

I believe that no one will perish due to our negligence or inability. I also believe from the above, that God gives us both the desire and ability to witness, whether it is volunteering at a booth, or going to a mission field. I can do either one, as intensely and for as long as I want, but without the power of the Holy Spirit, it will all come to nothing in the end. Only what begins with God Himself accomplishes His purposes. Even the burden to pray and what to pray for begins with God and flows back to Him, in my view, and that includes prayers of salvation and mercy and grace.

I'm not sure I understand your comments about prematurely mentioning the New Birth. I hold to the idea of regeneration preceding faith, which should come as no surprise. John 3 speaks of the New Birth and to me, the context can only be of salvation. John 1:12-13 says, "12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: 13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God." Some believe that the birth comes after receiving Christ, but I beg to differ. I believe here the reason they receive Christ is because they have been born of God. That is why the metaphor of birth is used, because birth is an involuntary activity on our part, and is all of something other than ourselves. In the case of the Spirit, as in John 3, this is by the Holy Spirit. Back here in 1:12-13, we are told men are not born of God according to their fleshly desires, genealogical lineage, or personal will, but of God. And for being made willing, we are willing to do that which God has purposed in us. So I am glad that salvation is not up to us, but if we understand it in truth, we must acknowledge His sovereign majesty in salvation and no other. Yet we do not deny the responsibility of man to repent and believe, because we are entrusted with the Gospel and given the Great Commission. If anything, we have more hope that the elect will be saved, because God does the saving, and we are merely instruments of Divine Will.

Camel Rider

I always like "one-way" conferences such as this. I wish they would facilitate an actual discussion on Calvinism...with people offering different views on each subject. That would be more helpful than anti-calvinists speaking to other anti-calvinists. For guys like me that haven't made up their minds....I would enjoy this.
Camel Rider

peter lumpkins

Camel,

Thanks. I agree that audience participation is a good and worthy medium. I do not necessarily agree it is the best to pursue for all presentations. I learned a valuable lesson years ago in my first year of seminary. I indeed anticipated seminary being a place to hammer out one's belief system through intense dialog, argumentation and rigorous debate, if necessary. And that with a real live scholar before you!

Unhappily for me, a seasoned student took me aside one day, me thinking I was going to get a commendation for keeping the discussion lively. He said something like "The students here are hungry and anxious. They pay good money to learn the level of scholarship the professor brings. You need to know you are frustrating the class at large who anticipates hearing him, not you." What a dirty-dog trick to play!

By the way, Camel, must I continue to correct the very unfair caricature that J316C is by anti-calvinists for anti-calvinists without one minute thread of evidence for such a description? If I may, were I to critically post about T4G or Founders Meeting as a meeting held by anti-noncalvinists specifically for anti-calvinists, I am wondering how acceptable such a description would be.

With that, I am...

Peter

peter lumpkins

Byron,

I'd love to dialog with you about this. However, I recognize not a single point my comment addressed toward yours. Sorry.

With that, I am...

Peter

Camel Rider

Peter,
I don't anything about the Founders conference so I cannot speak about them. I would say that they are non-calvinists...but what I've heard from some of the key note speakers...they are indeed anti-calvinist. I'm not saying that is bad...but let's callit like it is. I just wish that a conference like this would bring together speakers from both sides of the argument. In my opinion, one-sided conferences such as this...especially hosted by the current SBC president only help to split and divide. How beautiful would it have been the Dr.Hunt to have hosted a conference bringing both sides together?
Camel Rider

Byron

Peter, I am sorry but I am at a loss for words. Basically, I believe that if God wants to save someone, He will, and if He does not, He will not. How He accomplishes that I believe is through gospel preaching or perhaps even just reading Scripture (I believe Luther was regenerated in just such a fashion possibly, but I know little about him). God will save His elect regardless. For example, if some elect person is born in a far country, then God will create a minister, gift him spiritually, and compel him to go in time for the elect person to hear the gospel and believe. I think it is possible that people are being converted with the Scriptures alone due to the massive numbers of Bibles and portions of Scripture which are sent out, as well. But if no one gets to an area with people and these people never hear the Gospel (for sake of argument, let us say that all available ministers are either unwilling or unable to reach them) then it simply means there were no elect people there. God is still good and holy, but it just means that justice came instead of mercy by the grace of God. I do not believe that this alone makes me a Hyper-Calvinist, especially when I believe the Gospel must be preached to everyone, and that we should evangelize (it should be a desire of our hearts created by the Holy Spirit), but we leave the results with God. I can preach to anyone and offer the gospel to all, by telling them who Christ is, what He has done, and that they must repent and believe, turn or burn, repent or perish. I really do not know what else I can say here about this, or your points.

peter lumpkins

Camel,

Your first statement is confusing to me. Are you saying Founders is NonCalvinist?

Secondly, I can only suppose that the ones you're talking about when you write "but what I've heard from some of the key note speakers...they are indeed anti-calvinist" you are now referring to the platform of the J316C. If so, I will issue the very same request I issued to jasonk who never delivered the goods: which one of the five scholars I mentioned in the original post gives evidence of anti-calvinism? And, please give us some documentation from the works that brought you to your conclusion.

If you cannot do so, Camel, I suggest to you as I did jasonk please, for the sake of integrity, keep the unsubstantiated accusations to a minimum.

With that, I am...

Peter

peter lumpkins

Byron,

What I actually wanted was a response to several points I made earlier which you simply overlooked entirely. I challenged your comment, raising I believe a valid question concerning a blatant contradiction in what you wrote.

Twice now you've overlooked that. And your present comment confuses me more I am sad to say. If I even remotely understand HyperCalvinism, what you have just written, my friend, qualifies exactly.

"if no one gets to an area with people and these people never hear the Gospel (for sake of argument, let us say that all available ministers are either unwilling or unable to reach them) then it simply means there were no elect people there. God is still good and holy, but it just means that justice came instead of mercy by the grace of God."

What you have just done, Byron, is chopped the legs out from under any concern for missions whatsoever. The fact is, there are millions upon millions of people presently without a witness. By your own logic, you are forced to conclude there is no reason to be concerned. Why's that? They are predestined to hell anyway--whole people groups thrown in hell. No need for our concern. After all, they received justice. That's the comfort we have?

But even more, Byron, you contradict yourself once again by asserting only a line later that "I believe the Gospel must be preached to everyone". Who says the gospel must be preached to everyone? Surely not God. He planned that millions presently living today would get no witness! And since he planned it, we don't have to be concerned about missions--at least not anytime soon. The ones unevangelized today were planned from eternity to get justice, not mercy. Therefore, we can rest confidently that where there is no mission presently, God has condemned them to hell anyway.

In addition, you insist that "we should evangelize (it should be a desire of our hearts created by the Holy Spirit), but we leave the results with God." I beg your pardon. You mentioned above that God compels those He wants to evangelize those He elects. Unless I am compelled, I won't go. And since I am not compelled now, all those were condemned to hell anyway.

Moreover, you insisted earlier that my not evangelizing (volunteering, etc)would make absolutely no difference in the scheme of things concerning God's elect. Therefore, the only thing I must do is what God compels me to do. And since I do not feel compelled to witness to a person, it's obvious God did not want me witnessing to the person.

Therefore, once again, my concern for missions and witness goes away. Why? If I witness the Gospel, God wanted me to. If I don't, God did not want me to.

Oh yes, my brother Byron, I'd say, if you really do believe as you've written here, that whether or not you accept it, you, my friend, are just about as close as possible to what I understand a flesh & blood Historic HyperCalvinist to be.

For that, I am very sad.

Maranatha. Come Lord. With that, I am...

Peter

Byron

Peter,

I do not believe myself to be a Hyper-Calvinist. But I have explained myself to the best of my ability, so I am afraid I will have to take leave of this discussion. Thank you for your patience and attention, and I am sorry that we could not arrive at a position of understanding. It's unfortunate, but sometimes inevitable I suppose.

Camel Rider

Peter,
I'm sorry for my previously confusing statement. It was meant to read as such....
I do not know anything about the Founders Conferenceso I cannot speak to that. As for the John 3:16 conference maybe they are truly non-calvinist in their view.

On the fine point of whether this conference is anti or non calvinist. It's a conference on Calvinism where all of the key speakers are not Calvinist. Let's see...if a bunch of Atheists put on a conference on Christianity...do you think the content would actually be favorable?

I cannot give you specific evidence because it's all in sermons. I've sat through several of these men's preaching and I've heard my share of jokes and one liners made at the expense of Calvinism. I know some of these men and have nothing but respect for them but when it comes to this issue I do not agree with their interpretation of Scripture or there unfair characterization of Calvinists. To disagree is one thing, to use jokes, one-liners and rhetoric is another thing. There seems to be a spirit of anti-Calvinism....which is in fact a fear of hyper-Calvinism......but it's all thrown into a big basket.

You also said that a conference like this isn't tha place to explore beliefs....why not? This conference isn't seminary. On the front cover of the brochure it says that it's a conference for preachers and lay-people. If every one attending is already non-calvinist, then why have a conference....to preach to the choir. Why not get John 3:16 and Founders conference together and have honest dialogue about both Calvinism and the role of Calvinism in the convention? I think conferences like this are a good idea IF they truly seek to explore the concept or idea presented....which needs presenters on both sides.
Camel Rider

peter lumpkins

Byron,

Thanks Byron for your honest discussion. I encourage you to look into Historic Hyper-Calvinism a bit more thoroughly and pinpoint the significant differences between that position and your own.

Grace. With that, I am...

Peter

peter lumpkins

Camel,

Thanks for the response though I have say, I don't know where this is going. With each exchange I find myself dealing with yet another not-so related point.

First, to suggest the J316C is similar to a conference "a bunch of Atheists" would host is entirely unfair. In fact, it's more of an insult toward the hosts than fair or unfair. Why make such an extreme analogy, Camel?

Sometimes I simply do not understand the unthinking swipes against seasoned leaders in our convention, and that coming from another paid employee of our convention. These are definitively not a mere "bunch of Baptists" getting together.

Rather the platform is made up of seminary presidents, graduate school deans, accomplished professors in their respective fields, not to mention proven pastors with a combined service record to our Lord exceeding a century, pastors who've made more contribution to Kingdom work than I could ever hope.

Yet, like a "bunch of Atheists" putting on a conference, these men are just another "bunch of Baptists". The absolute disrespect some of you guys display toward those who've gone before you is the most confusing, disgraceful phenomenon I have ever encountered.

Secondly, Camel, your follow-up question exposes a curious presumption: "do you think the content would actually be favorable?" I will answer with a question: Since when does being unfavorable translate to being either unfair or inaccurate? Is it not possible--or even probable--to expect that though one disagrees with a position, one is expected to characterize his opposition fairly?

Yet, your question presupposes that such fairness is not expected: "do you think the content would actually be favorable?"

But even more, Camel, while you presume that fairness is not to be expected from a "bunch of Baptists" anymore than from a "bunch of Atheists", you curiously snipe them for doing what you do not even expect! I am reminded of C.S. Lewis who somewhere said to his critics in an entirely different context: "You remove the organ but expect the function." You cannot have it both ways.

Tell me, Camel, do you think your seminary education was fair though it was by "a bunch of Baptists"? Do you think if we were to have a conference on reaching the Islamic world with the Gospel and brought in our international team of missionaries in Islamic settings who've years of experience under their belt, not to mention extensive study in their field that we should expect the conference to be "favorable"?

Do you think we need Muslim scholars on the platform to balance out our missionaries' presentations? Surely we cannot expect either fairness nor favorability from a mere "bunch of missionaries" getting together.

Thirdly, you continue to charge the J316C scholars with "jokes and one liners", "unfair characterization", "rhetoric", "spirit of anti-Calvinism", "fear of hyper-Calvinism", among other niceties but when inquired about evidence for such serious accusations, you drop back into the shadows pleading "I cannot give you specific evidence because it's all in sermons". Please, Camel. It's lame responses like that which give bloggers a bad name. Brother, you make the charge, then where's the evidence? If you want to offer bacon, you've got to kill the pig.

You've assured us you have the bacon. Yet you cannot offer us even one thin slice. In my part of the world, we call that slander--speaking unbecoming things about someone or something without possessing any evidence in the least. I'd say you greased that bucket really good.

But what's even more indicting--especially but unfortunately to you, my brother--is you have come here employing public, open rhetoric, critical evaluation, and unsubstantiated innuendo toward accomplished scholars, theologians and pastors without one thin piece of evidence whatsoever. None...Zilch. The ugly paradox is, you condemn the J316C for the very thing you yourself have done--"unfair characterization".

Finally, Camel, you wrote that "[I] also said that a conference like this isn't tha [sic] place to explore beliefs....why not?" That is not what I wrote. I wrote this: "I agree that audience participation is a good and worthy medium. I do not necessarily agree it is the best to pursue for all presentations." How you get your statement from mine I haven't a clue. It may cue me, however, that it's time to move on from this thread.

With that, I am...

Peter

Timotheos

Dear Peter,

After reading your last response to Byron, I suspect a good blush might be a more appropriate affect on your part than sadness. After tracing back in my mind over the kinds of comments I can remember Byron making here on SBCTomorrow, try as I might, I just can't suit Byron up the way you did here. But you are, among other noble things, a clever tailor.

You seem to draw conclusions more from your own theologically-biased imagination and suppose Byron obliged to own them, in spite of his protest to the contrary. And so you quote Byron thusly, "if no one gets to an area with people...etc.", but then conclude, "What you have just done, Byron, is chopped the legs out from under any concern for missions whatsoever."

You mistake mere observation on Byron's part for motivation and /or practice here, Peter, and your failure to consider this one distinction alone rather chops the legs out from under any serious consideration you would have us give to your charges of HyperCalvinism. What's more, for that subtly classic anti-Calvinist emotive effect, you suggest that Byron's so-called HyperCalvinism has God - apparently indiscriminately - throwing people into Hell like so many rag dolls. No doubt sad men like Byron even imagine God does such with abandon and delight (forgive my exaggeration, I am mad, but you are to be blamed for my madness). Forgive me again for saying so, but that conclusion is patently absurd and, in my opinion, unjustly put upon Byron's lips.

You quote Byron again here, "But even more, Byron, you contradict yourself once again by asserting only a line later that "I believe the Gospel must be preached to everyone". Who says the gospel must be preached to everyone?..." etc. All hyperbole aside here, Peter, (and there is plenty to be put aside in this paragraph), has Byron (the "flesh & blood-historic-HyperCalvinist") offered or defended such a proposition as you opine: "Therefore, we can rest confidently that where there is no mission presently, God has condemned them to hell anyway."? I think you would respond to such a charge with something like this: "I am truly mystified as to how you arrived at your conclusions, dear brother, since I stated no such thing as you assert, and until you conclusively demonstrate that I could hold no other position and in fact do hold this one, please keep the unsubstantiated assertions to a minimum." I would hope Byron is worthy of the same consideration you reserve for yourself - unless, of course, such consideration is reserved for the Blogmeister only.

Not wishing my comment to exceed accepted word count here (a wish no doubt long missed), I leave off similar observations on the remainder of your comments to Byron (and to all maligned, so-called HyperCalvinists), though they are everywhere left to be noted and rejoined. For that, I am slightly sad.

Maranatha indeed.

Timotheos

volfan007

Byron,

I have to agree with Peter on this. You are definitely sounding like a hyper-calvinist in this discussion. Perhaps you havent thought thru some of the views you have in this area, and dont realize fully the implications of what you're saying; but you do sound like a hyper-calvinist.

Not trying to be mean, just speaking openly and honestly here.

David

Timotheos

David sez: "but you do sound like a hyper-calvinist."

But the real question to be asked and answered, David, is this:

"If a brother is out in the forest and makes a sound like a hyper-calvinist, but there is no hypo-calvinist around to hear him, is he really a hyper-calvinist?"

Byron

Peter:

I confess to being supralapsarian, even a stone's throw away from Hyper-Calvinism. I could be mistaken, but I honestly do not believe I am Hyper-Calvinist. I refer to Phil Johnson's excellent article, "A Primer on Hyper-Calvinism" in my defense. He has rightly said that all Hyper-Calvinists are supralapsarians, but not all supralapsarians are Hyper-Calvinists. And I reject all the tenets of Hyper-Calvinism expressed in his article.

I am guilty of trying to make logical sense of some things I see in Scripture that I do not fully understand. I am guilty of reading in between the lines and being too dogmatic about things on which I cannot claim full revelation or understanding. I am guilty of being too argumentative and unloving in these areas. For this, I have to plead guilty.

However, I affirm that the gospel is a genuine offer of mercy and grace to all who hear it, elect or not, and that it is made effectual in those God converts. I affirm that God loves everyone on the earth, elect or not, but that His love can be differentiated between common grace (God's love of kindness and His goodness to all by giving to all life, breath, and food) and saving grace. I affirm that man has a responsibility to repent and believe. Man is not condemned for not being elect; he is condemned for his sin (which includes unbelief), to the best of my knowledge.

Camel Rider

Peter,
I do apologize if you took my words as slanderdous towards these men of God. I may not agree with some of their views....but I do respect them and acknowledge their scholarly achievements. Dr. Hunt himself is a good friend and I regularly receive emails from him...he's a good guy.

You've said that with every post I go off on different subjects....actually I keep hitting the same point from different angles. My point is that I wish we could have a conference on a subject that has speakers from each view point. I honestly don't know what I believe about this and would love to dialogue with those on both sides of the issue. BTW, Peter, I was in no way comparing baptists to atheists. That was an example...and only that. My point was having a conference on an issue with only one side presenting is like preaching to the choir.

And no where did I speak negatively about a "bunch of baptists". I am truly grateful to be a part of the SBC and I'm very proud of our heritage and hopeful for our future. So please don't twist my words and comments in such a way.

And lastly....I recognize that our leadership is seasoned and have led our SBC and seminaries through some difficult seasons. And they are definitely worthy of our respect and honor...but they are sometimes wrong as well. The questions posed by Calvin are questions that deal with issues of our faith that are extremely complicated. There is a good chance that both the non-Calvinists and the Calvinists are going to both be wrong on aspects of their respective beliefs.

Camel Rider
btw, you keep referring to bacon...I live in a Muslim country where bacon is prohibited....can you pick a different example...you're making me hungry
:-)

Debbie Kaufman

David, Peter: I suggest you look into historic hyper-Calvinism or Calvinism for that matter. Byron was very articulate in his points. It seems this word is being thrown around whenever you want someone to back off of their stance. I ask if that is honest of you as Christians?

Byron

Peter, I do not believe that Camel was intentionally trying to slander any of the men at the J316C. I believe he was simply trying to state that if several anti-X hold on a conference on X, the resulting view will be unsurprisingly, anti-X. I do not believe the prefix "anti-" is unfair, as it simply means to be opposed to something, where that something comes after the prefix. It's not a statement of lacking character integrity, objectivity, or fairness, but it can often be perceived as such on divisive issues such as this.

In the sense I would mean it, and I believe Camel does as well, any statement opposing Calvinism or contrary to it could rightly be construed as being anti-Calvinist. I do not think this is the sense you see it, however, as you seem to prefer the term non-Calvinist. I have trouble understanding this term, to be honest. Merriam-Webster online defines the prefix non- as:

1. not : other than : reverse of : absence of
2. of little or no consequence : unimportant : worthless
3. lacking the usual especially positive characteristics of the thing specified

In my mind, I can see where this applies: you hold to a theology which is "not" and "other than" Calvinism, perhaps the "reverse of" and even "absence of" it. But in my mind, concerning the theological issues that Calvinism addresses in the operation of the Godhead in the salvation of the individual, a "non-" would essentially equate to an "anti-" because if God does something, and that something can be defined as either X or anti-X exhausting the possibilities of action within a given context, then anti- makes more sense to me than non-. For me then, monergism is X, and synergism is non-X. Unless you bring in Universalism, I do not see how you can argue that non-X is larger in reference than anti-X, but I would appreciate your thoughts. Unless I am mistaken, I believe that monergism and synergism exhaust all the possibilities within orthodox Christianity.

peter lumpkins

Timotheos,

Thanks for logging on, old friend. It's been too long.

And, thanks for your kind words concerning our brother Byron. You conclude “After tracing back in my mind over the kinds of comments I can remember Byron making… I just can't suit Byron up the way you did here.”

I cannot say I disagree, Timotheos, with the first portion of your conclusion. In fact, this very thread bears out my and Byron’s kinship. Earlier I wrote in response to Byron’s conclusion to another: "[I will] just say salvation begins and ends with God, period, and I'm not really concerned what others call it." Sweet Day in Georgia! A Calvinist who thinks like me? What'll they think of next?!! :^).” And, had this thread remained on the J316C, neither I nor our Byron would have ended the conversation as we did.

Aside from your suggestion that I “maligned” my brother and other so-called “Hyper-Calvinists”, fortunately, I remain confident regardless as to how the exchange developed, such development changes not one scintilla my profound respect, love and appreciation for our Byron who stands an honorable dissenter on this site. Byron regularly engages ideas rather than the much too often insinuation of character flaws in other people—a practice sometimes, believe it not, toward yours truly, the Blogmeister. This is worth its weight in gold to me, understand.

Nor I suppose you would not now be slinging your six guns, my Timotheos, arresting poor little old me for birthing from my “theologically-biased imagination” the “subtly classic anti-Calvinist emotive effect” known as “Hyper-Calvinism”. Never mind I mentioned earlier that, in almost three years of blogging, I have never, to my recall, uttered the “subtle effect” toward a monkey much less a man, neither in Calvinist circles nor on my own home turf. Ah, but let us not clog the thread with minor details of a heretofore void in employing such an apparently popular idiom.

That aside, to defend, as you do, Timotheos, our brother’s stated belief in the respective comment offered on this thread as “mere observation” must be the most wonderful response a person in my position should ask.

Out of your madness, you write: “And so you quote Byron thusly, "if no one gets to an area with people...etc", and then confidently concluding that I “mistake mere observation on Byron's part for motivation and /or practice… [thus] chop[ing] the legs out from under any serious consideration [I] would have [others] give to [my] charges of HyperCalvinism”.

First, my brother, I am not following how Byron was just offering “mere observation”. Look again at Byron’s complete wording, rather than the condensed version from which you draw your indictment toward my responses to him:

“if no one gets to an area with people and these people never hear the Gospel (for sake of argument, let us say that all available ministers are either unwilling or unable to reach them) then it simply means there were no elect people there. God is still good and holy, but it just means that justice came instead of mercy by the grace of God.”

This statement forms the classic Modus ponens, the argument structure about which I am confident you are aware. “Mere observation”? Not if words mean something, Timotheos.

So what, then is the conclusion I supposed Byron obliged to own, and that in spite of his protest to the contrary? From looking at the above, I’d say two things: a) the entire people group—whom you labeled in proxy for me as “rag dolls”—had no elect b) that the entire people group received justice not mercy.

Comparing the above to what I wrote as the alleged instrumental cause of your self-justified madness, Timotheos, we find:

“What you have just done, Byron, is chopped the legs out from under any concern for missions whatsoever. The fact is, there are millions upon millions of people presently without a witness. By your own logic, you are forced to conclude there is no reason to be concerned. Why's that? They are predestined to hell anyway--whole people groups thrown in hell. No need for our concern. After all, they received justice. That's the comfort we have?"

How such a conclusion is so far from the above as you attempt to charge escapes me: “It simply means there were no elect people there…it just means that justice came instead of mercy by the grace of God.”

If you think, Timotheos, such a “simply means” explanation inspires missions, hones concern and does nothing to harm evangelistic motivation, be my guest. But one is hard-pressed to distinguish the respective evangelistic motivation consequent between such “mere observation” and the quintessential Hyper-Calvinistic retort: “Sit down young man. God does not need the like of us to help Him save the heathen.”

You raise a similar question toward my response to Byron later:

“All hyperbole aside here, Peter...has Byron…offered or defended such a proposition as you opine: "Therefore, we can rest confidently that where there is no mission presently, God has condemned them to hell anyway."?

The obvious answer—but not surprising answer to you, I’m sure--is, “Well, yeah!” I am glad you recognized the language as hyperbole, for that it was. Two stars and a lollie-pop, my friend!

However, I also am keenly aware that points made in what’s obviously exaggerated format—camels going through eyes of needles—nonetheless must posses a real point. What was my real albeit hyperbolic point or as you put it, Byron’s “proposition as [I] opine”?

Once again, given the “if…then” above, Timotheos, where there is no Gospel witness presently, then the obvious conclusion is, there is no elect there—at least that needs elective means to be activated (i.e., a Gospel witness). Does that mean no one in any presently unreached people group could be elect? I do not think so. But it’s not my illustration. I am not working with a scenario that I potentially posit but one that Byron actually posed—an area where “these people never hear the Gospel.”

Well, assuming the “if…then”, I am not quite seeing how “my opine” is feeding your madness, O Timotheos. Also, know I stand assured that your suggesting my literary talents as a “clever tailor” suspiciously does not justify me celebrating what might be an honorable compliment given other contexts whereby I would delightfully but humbly accept. Thus, my apologies, but I must decline.

There are some others things stemming from your madness here that I will decline as well to address. After all, it is only courteous to follow your gentlemanly graciousness in sparing me the “plenty [other hyperbole] to be put aside in [my] paragraph.”

Grace, Timotheos. Give your church staff a hug for me.

And, by the way, I will save you a seat at the J316C. There we shall both bask together in the presence of the finest Southern Baptist rhetoric, mischaracterization, caricature, unscholarly, double-barreled anti-Calvinism, not to mention just plain old total theological ignorance found anywhere east of the Mississippi river. Sweet Georgia, I’m coming home!

With that, I am...

Peter

Jonathon

The speakers are of course intelligent men, however, so are the Calvinists that hold their positions. I believe Sir Peter just happens to be sympathetic to the non-calvinist side of the argument.

To say that these men are "heavy weights" is relative. I believe, when you look at the Calvinistic side of the debate, it seems "heavier weights" stand on the other side. Al Mohler, RC Sproul, John Piper, John MacArthur, John Calvin, Augustine, John Owen, Mark Dever, J M Boice, J P Boyce, Charles Spurgeon, Wayne Grudem...and the list can go on.

Both sides admittingly have thier heavy weights, but in my opinion, the heaviest weights stand on the side of the Doctrines of Grace!

It all seems so staged. Of course those at the conference are going to deliver good papers and well thought out responses. They all stand on the same side, so at this conference you get one side of the debate.

I will ask this, when have Calvinist gathered to refute Arminian Theology...besides Dort? In an explicit way that seems to be coming from the J316C Crew? T4G is not an example, it is about coming together for the gospel, not for squashing Arminian theology.

Jerry Vines, Johnny Hunt, and the rest just seem like old, mad, tradition driven men who aren't really known for their theology as much as their big churches. And big churches does not equal solid theology....Joel Osteen anyone?

peter lumpkins

Camel,

Thank you for your clarity. And, I must confess I am absolutely addicted to food analogies. Sometimes...when the mood is right...the point is perfect...literary juices bubbling...nothing--and I do mean nothing--nails a point like a grand analogy using food. In enemy territory, however, milk can spoil in a NY flash. And that's all i intend to say about that.

Grace, Camel. Drop by anytime. With that, I am...

Peter

peter lumpkins

Ms. Kaufman,

If you want to make a contribution, please do so. If you came to either complain or hurl insults, please do not do so. Period.

With that, I am...

Peter

Timotheos

Peter,

HA HA! Being the clever tailor you are, you did not disappoint me with your rejoinder. I actually smiled more than once reading your response. I genuinely appreciate it, and want you to know the compliment you refused was genuinely offered, even if was a little back-handed.

I have a bit of reading to do before tonight, so my surrejoinder will have to come later. In the meantime, I have given my church staff a hug and returned it to its corner on the porch.

Grace,

Timotheos

peter lumpkins

Jonathan,

Thanks for posting. I am glad your opening statement recognized that the platform has on it "intelligent men", one odd duck in this pond, I'd say. Just why you'd need to qualify such a positive appraisal with a follow-up that "so are the Calvinists" who, in your estimation, definitively possess the "heavier weights" is hard to tell. Perhaps the answer is found in your probable sympathy to "the other side".

For while it is certainly no secret where I stand theologically--it now is too late for me to either hide or deny my NonCalvinist sympathies since this blog was founded upon them--your qualifier may similarly forfeit your sympathies as well, my brother Jonathan.

Yet, for the life of me, I do not understand why you would want to tarnish a simple literary metaphor I employed by making it into some type of competitive image whereby we could easily but tragically cast our vote for the smartest guy among us. My post implied no such competition with Calvinist scholars/theologians and surely did not remotely suggest Calvinists have lessor intellectual giants than the side of "my sympathies".

Indeed out of the dozen men you named, not one of them is not, in my view, a magnificently gifted theologian/scholar, deserving the utmost respect from any evangelical position. Those who do not offer such high appraisal are idiots--either intentional or unintentional--in my view. My personal library possesses works from all of these you've named--for some of them, all their works! Great Calvinists theologians you failed to name include R. Raymond, R. Nash, R. Culver, T. Nettles, T. Ascol, G. Welty, T. Schriner, among many many others. In my view, none of these are feather weights.

Nonetheless, Jonathan, though my theological sympathies admittedly lie just outside the southern gate of your honorable Calvinistic community, why it is that you cannot allow me peace in my tent with your very irenic assertion that "the speakers are of course intelligent men", I suffer to understand. Instead, you move on to more dramatic flair:

"It all seems so staged"

"In an explicit way, [like Dort refuting Arminian theology] it seems to be coming from the J316C Crew

"[Unlike the T4G which comes together for the gospel, the J316C comes together] for squashing Arminian theology"

"Jerry Vines, Johnny Hunt, and the rest..."

"[the Platform just seem[s] like old, mad, tradition driven men"

"[men] who aren't really known for their theology as much as their big churches [kinda like Joel Osteen]"

Thus, Jonathan, your appropriate, irenic, opening evaluation--"The speakers are of course intelligent men"--an evaluation that gave me much hope that what I was about to eat was a deliciously cooked pot roast, full of all the trimmings needed to feed a hungry post, that to my shame, is so horribly biased toward my own theological sympathies...That predicted pot roast, Jonathan, is now but a charred pan of smoldering piffle. Whatever were you thinking?

Please come back any time. With that, I am...

Peter

Debbie Kaufman

That was a contribution, a huge contribution. It seems the word hyper-Calvinist is thrown around like the word heresy. It doesn't fit at all. Yet it is used. Why? I think because no other answer can be offered and it's a way to shut down communication, much like the oft used phrase you have posted to me. Either fruitful dialog comes by listening to both sides, or it's a don't argue with me stance. You seem to choose the latter, so to try and humiliate me in any form just can't be done. I'm past that, however, I offer you advice, and good advice. Labels are a dime a dozen Peter, and it seems you have used them all...to your advantage. My contribution? Listen to those who disagree with you. Present the opposing view with what the person is actually saying, not what makes you look smart or good. You are saying and doing the very things Christ saved us from saying and doing. That is my advice and contribution.

Calvinists stress looking to scripture, they stress knowing, in an intimate, deep sense, the Bible. There are too many passages that you are pretending aren't there. My advice? Reconcile them with what scripture the Calvinists give. Then you have true Biblical doctrine.

peter lumpkins

Ms. Kaufman,

Since your last comment leaned more toward contribution than complaint or insult, it stands. Nor do I need to register, I'm certain, my slightly different take on your content.

With that, I am...

Peter

Bill

From what I am hearing, I would probably characterize this as an anti-calvinism conference, as opposed to anti-calvinist, just as Founders is a pro-calvinism conference. It need not be a pejorative. If a group of non-calvinists are going to talk about calvinism, and since we have a body of work that they have produced in sermons, books, papers, etc, outlining their position, then we can be pretty confident that they will attempt to refute at least 3 of the 5 points of calvinism. Does anyone believe that these folks won't try to convince their audience that calvinism is wrong?

Anti-calvinism need not mean harsh or unloving towards calvinists. I don't see anything wrong with this conference (even as a calvinist) but it is what it is. People with strong convictions should try to convince people that they are right.

I'd also like to go back to JasonK's point. I agree that his statement about God's sovereignty in salvation could be taken as somewhat hypercalvinistic when separated from the context of the story he was relating. But when you see it as a response to "Its a shame that people will go out into eternity lost because not enough people volunteered to man this booth." then it makes a little more sense.

Byron

Peter:

In my view I have defended myself from the charge of HyperCalvinism, and plead not guilty. I referred to Phil Johnson's, "A Primer on Hyper-Calvinism" and I wish to make additional reference today to "Are Calvinists Hyper?" by Tom J. Nettles, which I believe specifically addresses and answers most if not all of your concerns addressed to me. I wish I could honestly say I am not concerned with defending my reputation, but I will say it does not matter ultimately because only the honor due Christ is important, and that He is my judge.

Camel Rider

My question to those commenting....if they had live streaming...would you listen(watch)?

And does anyone know why they're not offering this? FBCW streams each weekend and this is the 21st century.

Byron

Camel, I would watch it, because I could not help myself. Curiosity killed the cat, and all that. I do not know all of the speakers, but I'm sure it will be a stellar conference for those in agreement with the theological positions presented. I could not with a clear conscience pay money for something like this which attacks what I believe are biblical truths about the sovereignty of God in salvation, but I would happily view it for free out of mere curiosity and perhaps even offer critiques (obviously, from an opposing viewpoint).

peter lumpkins

All,

It seems many of those commenting here appear to think "anti-Calvinist" is not at all inappropriate to label the J316C. Our brother Bill's last comment may be indicative of most.

And I think Bill makes a new contribution by distinguishing between anti-Calvinist and anti-Calvinism, the distinction, I'm supposing, between a person on the one hand and a theological position on the other (I stand to be corrected on that).

If this is so, I applaud his effort. The difficulty is, the distinction is so thin, it washes out with the least bit of examination. All that needs asking is, "And just who is speaking at the anti-Calvinism conference?" I don't think the answer can be anti-Calvinisms or anti-Calvinismists. I think we both know that anti-Calvinists will be the answer.

Byron brought up an interesting point about my own self-designation--NonCalvinist. I am not pleased with it. I never have been. I started using this self-description to distinguish me from from Arminian. Not because I fear being labeled Arminian. After all, historic Arminianism is merely a sub-heading of pre-Dortian Calvinism.

At any rate, because Arminianism is today so wed--either formally or popularly does not matter--to the majority view of "falling from grace" within this theological stream, that I cannot by any means accept it now.

I think Byron also noted that a good distinction is monergism and synergism. My first impression is, who in Georgia's green pastures would even know what the heck you were talking about if you advertised a J316C, whose platform boasts of some heavy-weight Synergists? Besides, I have deep reservations about my Calvinist brothers hogging that term. I am prepared to argue that Calvinists and NonCalvinists alike embrace both positions. All this does is confuse. That aside, the former reason smothers this out.

So, I concede NonCalvinism is not indicative of a good label. My good friend Keith Schooley pointed out when he chided me for not embracing the Arminian label that NonCalvinism only says what one is not; it does not say what one is. A NonCalvinist can be an atheist! He tooted my horn pretty good.

I can say I am a Biblicist--and may start that one day--but Calvinists don't like it; etc etc.

Back to anti-Calvinism. Another of the reasons I conscientiously chose Non-Calvinism to personally embrace was to distinguish my own attitude and theological convictions concerning Calvinism from one who was militantly in opposition to either Calvinists or Calvinism. I am not.

Now: bring in all the lexical definitions you wish about the literal meaning of "anti" and I will trump them with actual usage. We can say all we wish about "anti" but the fact is, "anti" inevitably brings baggage with it, baggage that wreaks overtones of being over against, divisive, and drawing swords and taking sides. Take a look through this thread and note the many times it's used here in pejorative ways (not my usage, the other commenters).

"Anti" is a loaded term which carries images of combat. What pro-lifer wants to be known as anti-abortionist? This is PR. Pro is good. Bill wants Pro-Calvinists and Anti-Calvinists. A Calvinist marketing firm would love the idea. I wonder how Calvinists would like to be known as anti-Baptist? After all, assuming good old Ed is correct, only a meager 5-10% of the SBC is Calvinist. Thus, if they oppose roughly 90% of us, it seems only reasonable to assume they could be classified as anti-Baptist, do you not agree? Of course, I don't think Founders would like that very much. And I think I know why: "anti" makes them look like enemies.

Anyone think "antiaircraft" brings images of just being different? How about "anti-bacteria"? Or "anti-administration" or "anti-academics"? And consider, of course, "antichrist". Would we employ Bill's maxim on "antichrist": "[anti] need not be a pejorative". Personally, I do not think is meant by such term someone who just has another opinion for Jesus to consider.

Over all, from my view, "anti-Calvinism" is branded as a negative, combative label which is riddled with images of both unhealthy bias and unchristian bashing. Given such, those who employ it a priori are themselves committing the very error the term implies: unhealthy bias and unchristian bashing.

With that, I am...

Peter

Byron

To All:

I apologize for saying, "I could not with a clear conscience pay money for something like this which attacks what I believe are biblical truths about the sovereignty of God in salvation..." I was wrong for saying this. These are sincere brothers in Christ at this conference who are most likely going to hold to an opposing theological view than what I hold. I believe they are in error, of course, but I do not doubt their sincerity or motives.

Incidentally, I recently read Roger Olson's book, "Arminian Theology: Myths and Realities" and it is an excellent book. I disagree with his theology and conclusions. But he was very irenic, objective, and lucid in the expression of his view. Ironically, I've become a fan (who doesn't agree with him!).

peter lumpkins

Byron,

You, my young brother, may be the classiest commenter in Baptist blogdom. You dissent with honor and respect, not to mention offer sincere apologies when apologies may actually be superfluous, all without the least hint of compromising your conviction.

Even more, you are willing, upon challenge, to go back and see, rather than aimlessly holding out on a point perceived--by either self or others--lost (hardly a trait most of us may claim). And, upon your ascension from the scrolls, you reenter as either lion or lamb, both of which display a deeper, more mature understanding.

I am glad you are here, my brother.

With that, I am...

Peter

Debbie Kaufman

Peter: I consider myself to hold to at least the five points of the Calvinist view, and I would welcome the term Biblicists. Calvinists are Biblicists too, and it would be one step to Unity. Biblicist simply means to me that the Bible is the standard by which all doctrine comes from. It may be a different view, but both adhere to the Bible. I can live and agree with that most definitely.

selahV

Peter, who woulda thunk announcing a conference which holds as its purpose to discuss one of the theological areas of Southern Baptist life could have garnered you such an anti-personality. I think there are those who are anti-peter....and just about anything you say would cause ire at the recognition that your ornery, bull-dogged nature would not let go of a illogical point until one could see the illogical nature of their point. However, I do want to commend you on your very perfect analysis and recommendation to my dear friend, Byron.

On this planet of reformed thinkers, I doubt I've found a more humble man and one to whom I would listen to more than he. Why? Because he is a lion and a lamb. And the both dwell within his soul and that tells me Jesus resides in his heart and spirit. He holds the record I do believe of people who have apologized in blogdom. Colin McGahey may hold the second prize but I don't know, I don't go everywhere they go.

I'm excited about this conference and wish I could go. I wish I could pay Byron's way so he and I could sit side by side at dinner and discuss what he sees as odds with his understanding of scripture. I wish we could have a site where everyone felt comfortable to dialog differences without taking offense to their personal intelligence or feel it necessary to malign another's.

I know that is your aim here, Peter, though many might disagree with me. However, Byron and many other people who do not agree with your stated conclusions on various subjects prove them wrong. The Light's always on here and they know it.

As far as the intended purpose of the J3:16C, can we all wait till there is a conference to feast upon or regurgitate before we tear the flesh from the bones and eat the meat raw? selahV

Bill

Peter: I understand the objections to anti-calvinism. It is difficult to divorce past rhetoric from a (imo) neutral word. So then, what do you believe is a fair characterization for the conference, given what we know?

The conference is about Calvinism.
The presenters are not Calvinists.
The speakers have a body of public work outlining their objections to Calvinism.

Is it fair to presume the following:

The speakers have not changed their views regarding Calvinism.
The presentations will not be favorable, on the whole, towards Calvinism.
The speakers are presenting with the hope of convincing people attending that they are correct in their assessment of Calvinism.

If I am correct about all the above (and maybe I'm not, I don't know about all the speakers), then is it really unfair or pejorative to characterize this conference as against-Calvinism?

Byron

I didn't stop and think about "anti-" having a negative connotation in a lot of usage today (i.e., "anti-abortion," which tempts me to counter with, "I'm anti-death; how about you?"). So I can see why both "anti-Calvinist" and "non-Calvinist" would be less than ideal. Not to muddy the water further but to make a point, Calvinism has a few variations I am finding out, and sometimes is a bit of an umbrella term depending on how much you twist the screws on the theological details.

I think the biggest part of the problem is when non-Calvinists (perhaps that's the best term available?) define themselves by what they are not, rather than what they are. That is why I admire Roger Olson in his book and his ownership of "Arminian" without the twin extremes of shame or arrogance. I have denied being a hypercalvinist, but, right or wrong on that, I personally believe that Hypercalvinism is more dangerous and deadly than Arminianism ever was. Arminians are not ashamed of the gospel, or of evangelism. I would far rather have John Wesley than the man who told Carrey to not evangelize, for example. And I'm not intending to contradict myself, because I believe God create Carrey in the first place, gifted him, and made him willing to go. Be that as it may, shame on us for not evangelizing if we fail to do so.

peter lumpkins

Bill,

Thanks, bro. I encourage you to read again the last comment I posted. I think it addresses most of your concern already.

I'll add this. Given your criteria, and the way you've framed it, the conference is doomed before it begins. Using a similar grid for Founders Meetings would solicit outrage from Calvinists.

Even though you concede the negative usage of "anti", it still seems you continue to ignore the obvious combative nature of branding a conference "anti". Do you honestly think Richard Dawkins is only expressing his disagreement with Intelligent Design when he dubs it "anti-scientific"? I think not. He is milking the "war" between science and faith. He knows it draws blades. Again, I think this is just how it is.

Given that, judging a priori J316C as an Anti-Calvinistic conference, when good, credible men are scheduled to offer their views on the Doctrines of Grace--including, but not limited to evaluating historic Calvinistic understanding of the DoG--is, for me, nonsense, the same nonsense about which I would be guilty if I a priori judged next year's Founders conference as a group of Anti-NonCalvinists planning to get together to bash my theology.

Which, of course, brings up an interesting exchange, my brother Bill. As clumsily as it might sound, let's consider you calling your position Anti-NonCalvinism and I will embrace Pro-NonCalvinism. How about that?

The fact is, the J316C speakers will offer positive positions from their perspective on the TULIP. Contrary to some who think otherwise, NonCalvinists actually do hold positions on these subjects. And they will be presented. Will that entail offering what they believe are weaknesses of those who hold other views--Calvinistic views? I should say not! That would be bashing another view without somebody there to defend it!

If what I perceive as a totally, knee-jerk, irrational response above fails to connect, I'm just lost here. From my standpoint, it just stands obvious.

I hope that answers your question, my brother.
Grace, Bill.

With that, I am...

Peter

Bill

Peter: I really do see your points and understand them. I think the thing that sticks with me is that this is a conference "about Calvinism". Specifically about the 5 points of Calvinism known as TULIP. They chose the topic, and so the subsequent discussion has to be viewed in the light and context of the conference topic.

So, the average person who finds this interesting will ask the next logical question. What is the relationship to Calvinism of those presenting at the conference? And the answer, as far as I know, is that they are not Calvinists. So that person may naturally conclude that the conference serves as a refutation of Calvinism.

At this point, this makes no judgments whatsoever as to the credentials, or goodwill or character of the speakers or the conference. It is simply a logical tying of the pieces together.

I absolutely agree with your point that labeling someone anti-something is at least mildly pejorative if you could label them pro-something. But the closest we have to the opposite of Calvinism is Arminianism and Baptists aren't Arminians. We could possibly say that this is a pro-Baptist conference but that's not accurate because being baptist and being calvinist are not mutually exclusive.

I guess this is one of my main points. The question of Calvinism is an important topic of debate within the SBC and people need to hear both sides of the debate, from people who hold to both perspectives. This conference presents one side of the debate. A person who wants to assess the total picture, will need to go elsewhere to hear the other side. I don't have a problem in the world with that. It's just important for people to know.

Just so everyone knows, I don't think this discussion is contentious at all.

peter lumpkins

Bill,

I fully concede that, all being equal, if the conference was framed as you framed it in your last comment, that the "Anti" label possibly could be a more viable option.

Again, however, your careful precision in wording and definition--employing cool, crisp sober distinction--while ideal, cannot hope to overturn the norm.

Surf back through the beginning of this thread and examine that with which I had to contend. This 'bunch of Baptists' getting together "mischaracterizing","jokes and one liners", "unfair characterization", "rhetoric", "spirit of anti-Calvinism", "fear of hyper-Calvinism", on and on charges made about a conference and/or its speakers who've not even met; and no one has yet produced one thin line from the platform of scholars in substantiating their claim.

Or, note the comment by Jonathan who knocked on my front door with the very warm greeting about "the speakers are of course intelligent men". But immediately after his "Hello, how are you?", he headed straight for my barn with a keg of kerosene:

"It all seems so staged"

"In an explicit way, [like Dort refuting Arminian theology] it seems to be coming from the J316C Crew

"[Unlike the T4G which comes together for the gospel, the J316C comes together] for squashing Arminian theology"

"Jerry Vines, Johnny Hunt, and the rest..."

"[the Platform just seem[s] like old, mad, tradition driven men"

"[men] who aren't really known for their theology as much as their big churches [kinda like Joel Osteen]"

Try as one may to disassociate, the branding of "Anti" is hopelessly connected to the pejorative, the negative, and obviously in this case, the mean and unfair.

I wish it were not true. But it is only a wish. Reality keeps me insisting to the contrary.

I do appreciate our dialog about this. Peace. With that, I am...

Peter

Bill

Peter: Fair enough. How does this addendum to what you wrote strike you?

J316C promises to be a scholarly evaluation of the recent Calvinist Resurgence in the Southern Baptist Convention, from a non-Calvinist perspective.

Thanks

peter lumpkins

Bill,

Once again thanks for the exchange. For me ours was fruitful and edifying, so much more so than dealing with the catalog of gunk from some earlier comments. And, your addendum is very favorable.

For the record: once the J316C is over, I think it's legitimately up for grabs whether or not the platform delivered wise, thoughtful presentations. If not, perhaps we can revisit the issue.

I hope your weekend a good one. With that, I am...

Peter

J. Dale Weaver, M. Div.

Peter:

Thank you for posting about this conference! If I can attend no other Conference this year, I hope to make this one! I've looked forward to it for months.
Lord willing, I'll be registered soon. And, I hope to finally meet you. It has been too long, my friend.

As one coming from a Reformation Arminian theological viewpoint, it will be interesting to see how these men (so-called "majoritarians" in the SBC Conservative Resurgence)deal with the issues so notriously championed by Calvinists. This conference should also make for some great discussion here and across the SBC landscape and beyond.

Blessings Brother -- hope to be meeting you soon!

J. Dale Weaver, M. Div.

peter lumpkins

Dale,

And I you, my brother. We'll exchange cell #s closer to the conference so we will not miss one anotner.

With that, I am...

Peter

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