« Yes, I'm still here and will be back online soon by Peter Lumpkins | Main | Are some SBC leaders distracting Southern Baptists from Kingdom work by ineffectively focusing on "rebranding" our name? by Peter Lumpkins »

Jan 03, 2012

Comments

Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Gary Small

Good for you, Peter, for once again exposing this damnable heresy (I choose my words carefully). Interestingly, George Bryson, in his outstanding book, "The Dark Side of Calvinism," exposes another dirty little secret about this false teaching: that Calvinism really promotes a caste system consisting of two castes in which it is impossible to escape from or be transferred out of-the condemned who can never be saved, and the "elect" who can never be lost.

Thanks for continuing to shine the floodlight of truth on this doctrinal menace.

Bryan

Gary, I know many disagree with the tenets of Calvinism, but I think you have misunderstood a key element of it. Calvinism does not teach that the lost are always going to be lost against their will. It is in agreement with the Bible that no one, not one, seeks the Lord (Rom 3:10) and that left to his own devices, man dives ever deeper into perversion and wickedness and ever further from the Gospel. So it is definitely a misunderstanding to argue that Calvinist theology paints lost sinners as being held there against their will.

Les Puryear

Keathley better be careful his Calvinist buddies at SEBTS don't report him to the President's office.

Byron Smith

Peter, though I'm an apostate atheist (or perhaps agnostic), and no longer Calvinist (or Christian), I find myself still drawn to to the Calvinist side of Christianity, as opposed to the non-Calvinist side. But I feel conflicted when I ponder which theology I would choose if I still believed.

On the one hand, I find myself agreeing with the horror expressed at predestination and especially that of reprobation. I can step back and examine my apostasy from the standpoint of Calvinism, which, if true, presents a truly horrible finality and sternness in the justice of Almighty God. In this view I am simply a vessel fitted for destruction. Predestination is just the means to accomplish God's desired end: my condemnation and eternal punishment, for His Glory.

But, on the other hand, and in my opinion as a non-believer, I think the very key idea here is one of divine authority. I find it also very difficult to deny the right of a Sovereign, Omnipotent, Omniscient Creator to do with His creation as He pleases. I am not trying to insinuate that you or others attempt to do this at all, or even would. But I wonder if the Calvinistic side of the equation, that I held to, stresses righteous authority to such an extent that even morality cannot (and need not) be fully qualified or understood in the context of the divine. Authority itself, without explanation of morality, is sufficient. Whereas in non-Calvinism, perhaps authority and the need for explanatory morality are balanced equally? These are just my thoughts.

I am just curious, so I am asking this because I still occasionally enjoy thinking about these concepts.

Tony Byrne

Keathley wrote:

“Why aren’t the lost saved?” The nasty, awful, “deep, dark, dirty, little secret” of Calvinism is that it teaches there is one and only one answer to the second question, and it is that God does not want them saved.

Wrong. If one wants to disagree with Calvinism, then fine. At least represent it fairly.

First, the Calvinist opinion is not a "little secret." They've written about it in plenty of books and have preached their opinions endlessly. They are hardly hiding their views, and if someone like Keathley is going to go in writing about it, then he should know better.

Second, there is not "one and only one answer to the second question" in the Calvinist view. Those who finally perish do so because 1) they sinned in their representative, Adam, 2) they personally sinned, 3) many have even sinned against the God-ordained gospel remedy they've heard wherein God and His people pleaded with them to embrace the Savior and, yes, 4) God did not purpose to effect the salvation of these sinners (even though He desired their obedience). Again, disagree with Calvinism on these points if you will, but represent them correctly on the issue. It is significantly wrong for Keathley to say there is "one and only one answer" Calvinists give to the question as to why some are finally lost and perish.

Third, it is wrong to represent Calvinists as saying "God does not want them saved." Keathley is arguing against the extreme minority and hyper-Calvinistic opinion of the Hoeksemians in saying they don't think God wants them saved, and he even knows (based on what he said at the Building Bridges Conference) that the Hoeksemians are hyper-Calvinists and not in the mainstream at all. Calvinists have not only said God wishes, desires, wants, intends the salvation of all, but dozens of Puritans have even said God begs them to be saved (language that goes back to Augustine himself). What Keathley should rather say is that although Calvinists think God desires/wants all to be saved, there are some upon which God does not purpose to effect His desire. If opponents think that is self-contradictory and nonsense, then fine. Set forth your case. However, represent them fairly and accurately, even as you demand that they do the same to your position. Keathley's straw man here is a serious error and inexcusable.

Keathley's representation in the above three areas is an utter failure to describe their view accurately. How many Calvinists do I have to document on the subject of the universal saving will of God in order to get people to represent the historical facts accurately? You have seen my blog and Allen's material at the J316 Conference (and charts and handouts) and in his chapter in Whosoever Will, Peter. I have the greatest collection on the Internet (and perhaps in the world) and people on both sides keep misrepresenting the facts. They are utterly without excuse at this point, especially if they are scholars writing on the subject. All orthodox Calvinists affirm that God wants/wishes/desires all men to be saved in the revealed will. In your disagreements with them on this point, still represent them fairly. Keathley has not.

-----

And, on a side note, it is utterly asinine and foolish to represent Calvinists as teaching "damnable heresy" as Gary has said above. That's as "nice" as I can be in describing what he said above, and I am sure Peter will want to distance himself from the degree of Gary's extreme assessment.

Bob Hadley

I keep hearing this charge coming in over and over and over again (from the same crowd by the way), "Wrong. If one wants to disagree with Calvinism, then fine. At least represent it fairly."

It seems as if there is this notion that Calvinists can say what they want to say about their own theology BUT if anyone rewords things or challenges the statements made BY Calvinists about their own positions, that person is WRONG and MISINFORMED and intentionally is guilty of MISREPRESENTING the calvinist position.

That is the MOST consistent cry I have heard over the last year as I have been reading these blogs. Frankly that argument along with the "Straw man" has gotten way too old.

Tony, first of all you wrote, "First, the Calvinist opinion is not a "little secret." They've written about it in plenty of books and have preached their opinions endlessly. They are hardly hiding their views, and if someone like Keathley is going to go in writing about it, then he should know better."

I beg to differ with you. While it is true that they have written extensively on the issue, it is also true that they have gone to great lengths in the semantics game to keep from saying what logical conclusions will produce. It is fine to say that man is sinful and deserves death and that God is gracious and has chosen to same some. You know full well, that MEANS that He has also chosen NOT to save others. That is the "dirty little secret" that is intentionally side-stepped in calvinism and lets be fair, plenty has been written about it and you know it; so in a fairness it would seem to me that you are guilty of not representing things fairly as well. It is almost as if Calvinists have this "victim mentality and people are unfairly attacking them and putting words in your mouths and you are all so misunderstood and mischaracterized..." sometimes I feel as if I need to hand you guys a hanky to blow your nose or something.

You wrote, "Again, disagree with Calvinism on these points if you will, but represent them correctly on the issue. It is significantly wrong for Keathley to say there is "one and only one answer" Calvinists give to the question as to why some are finally lost and perish."

Sorry once again. This argument is not much different than a 6 year old crying, if you dont play by my rules (use our terminology; say what WE say... word for word) then I am going to have to take my toys and run. Bye-bye. Not a fair argument at all.

Once again, "Third, it is wrong to represent Calvinists as saying "God does not want them saved." Keathley is arguing against the extreme minority and hyper-Calvinistic opinion."

How else can it be represented? If God and God alone is responsible for regenerating those who WILL be saved and it is impossible for those who are not regenerated to be saved, what is WRONG with Keathley's statement?

It is as if you guys want your cake and eat it too... you can word your position one way but no one else can word it differently just becasue the conclusions and implications make your position look bad?

I have read some of what you write and I consider you to be a very intelligent and articulate individual, (unlike some I have read) and I KNOW that you KNOW better than to even attempt to seem so nieve here. If you are going to hold onto the Calvinist platform... you have to come to grips with the reality of reprobation and man up and accept it. You cannot simply point to "hyper-calvinists" and say... that is THEM!

Gary's charge, "the condemned who can never be saved, and the "elect" who can never be lost." is WHAT Calvinism says. How is it NOT?

Finally, "They are utterly without excuse at this point, especially if they are scholars writing on the subject. All orthodox Calvinists affirm that God wants/wishes/desires all men to be saved in the revealed will. In your disagreements with them on this point, still represent them fairly. Keathley has not."

Look at YOUR OWN statement here... God wants/wishes/desires all men to be saved in His revealed will... the problem is His revealed will is NOT what accomplishes what you are suggesting here... it is His decretive will so sorry Charlie... no get out of jail card today. You know that people who do not know any better, will read your words and think... he is right. say what you mean and mean what you say and stop hiding behind meaningless rhetoric!

Evaluate your whole argument on the basis of your own criteria and you will find your own disagreements unfairly represent those of Keathley, as they are presented in Peter's post.

Grateful to be in His Grip!

><>"

Rick Patrick

Bob,

Your point about the victim mentality of Calvinists resonates with me, as does the idea that they sometimes "skirt" and "nuance" and "spin" their positions by stating that the objectionable argument is merely held by the HYPER-Calvinists and not by them.

I keep going back to the idea that each specific position on the whole Calvinist spectrum could be defined clearly and given a specific name, at which point our discussions could become much clearer, more profitable and more irenic.

We are foolish to continue using one vague umbrella term, namely Calvinism, to describe a variety of viewpoints. Practically speaking, this makes it impossible to engage in dialogue and debate, since all the Calvinist has to do is dodge the issue by claiming that the charge does not apply to them, but only to another strain of Calvinistic belief.

It's like nailing jello to the wall.

Would some Calvinist, who does not want to be misrepresented by non-Calvinists, please develop a clear taxonomy for each of the various Calvinistic positions, complete with unique nomenclature so that various strains can be addressed with precision, clarity and fairness? In other words, if you want your position to be represented fairly, don't hide that position under terminology so vague that it applies to people with whom you sharply disagree.

peter lumpkins

Gary,

Thanks for the encouragement, brother. I do disagree (for the record) that Calvinism is a "damnable heresy" even though I think much of it as a system is a template overlay anachronistically placed upon the Scriptures. That said, while Calvinists (especially 'High' Calvinists or 'Strict' Calvinists) are erroneous, I do not view them as embracing heresy or especially "damnable heresy"...

Les,

I don't think Dr. Keathley would quite word his objections this way now. The paper he wrote was 2006, and I don't think either his book or book-chapter had this colorful phrase ('deep, dark, dirty, little secret') but I could be wrong. I've read both but I didn't recall him putting it like that in the books as he did in the academic paper.

Bob,

Thanks for the contribution. I agree. In some circles, many Calvinists take to this "stop misrepresenting Calvinism" megaphone to pronounce ignorance on the non-Calvinist critics who pop off about a system they allegedly completely misunderstand. Indeed to hear it from some, you'd think the presupposition is, the only worthy exegetes of Calvinism are Calvinists themselves. Too bad the same ones many times do not offer the identical privilege to non-Calvinists toward non-Calvinism.

Even so, I'm more than sure Tony will offer some exchange concerning your piece. Though not a High Calvinist, Tony's Calvinism is nonetheless strong, and he represents well many of the more reasonable voices in defense of moderate Calvinism.

With that, I am...
Peter

Mary

The only people who truly understand Calvinism are Calvinists. Because if you truly understood Calvinism you'd be a Calvinist, duh! The only people who truly understand what nonCalvinists believe is a Calvinist because nonCalvinists are so dumb not only do they not understand Calvinism they don't even know what it is they actually believe either.

Bob Hadley

Rick,

I agree in with the overall gist of your post but if I were leading the charge of Calvinists, I would deliberately want the unbrella as broad as I could get it UNTIL I was where I wanted to be and THEN I would begin to narrow the scope.

Of course, the only problem with my comment is that there is no charge to be led... so I am a voice crying in an empty wilderness.

Also... it is so interesting that Calvinists HATE being misrepresented by non-Calvinists but do not seem to mind taking shots at non-calvinists and the inconsistencies that they propogate; kind of like getting the speck out of one's eyes and paying no attention to the log.

In all fairness, that is a problem we all have to some extent on both sides of the issue.. but it is still an applicable admonition for us ALL to be careful to consider, in my opinion.

><>"

Bob Hadley

Mary,

Shame on you for such an unfair characterization of non-Calvinists! LOL

><>"

Les Puryear

Peter,

I think SBC Calvinists believe the only way Calvinism can be "fairly represented" is "if you're a gospel-minded Christian... your theology is going to be Reformed." (A. Mohler)

BTW, My Presbyterian pastor friend laughs at SBC "Reformed" folks. He says they don't understand what true Reformed really is.

Ken Keathley

Tony, I'm sorry if I offended you, but you know I wrote the truth. I'm not trying to be mean, just clear.

The doctrine of irresistible grace teaches that God could save all if He chose to do so, but in His will of decree He has not. You admit this when you say "God did not purpose to effect the salvation of these sinners (even though He desired their obedience)." If you read the article from which the quote is taken then I think you'll see that I attempted to present the Calvinist position fairly.

I repeat: Calvinism teaches that all are not saved because ultimately God does not want all to be saved. Many Calvinists are uncomfortable with this fact, as well they should be.

volfan007

I have to agree with Keathley. If 5 point Calvinists take thier theology out to its logical conclusion, then you'd have to say that they do not believe that God truly, sincerely desires to save every person.

And, IMHO, that flies in the face of many, many Scriptures which teach that God earnestly, sincerely, truly desires the salvation of every person.

David

Mary

Bob, I think I just read somewhere that if we would only read the Book of Romans we'd all be Calvinists. Who knew???

Peter, completely OT, Jamie Oliver "healthy food advocate" puts out the "unhealthiest" cook book.

http://www.delish.com/food/recalls-reviews/jamie-oliver-cookbook-2011-unhealthiest-list

Eating one of his meatball sandwiches is worse than eating a Big Mac. So eating "healthy" isn't necessarily going to help anyone's weight or gasp, health! What an interesting concept!

peter lumpkins

 

Tony,

A couple of things. First, I appreciate your consistent quest of historical theology in the Reformed perspective. I've used some of your diligent research profitably.

Second, I am not sure you're giving Dr. Keathley a reasonable benefit of doubt concerning his position presented in the paper (by the way, if you'd like the full paper and have no present access to get it, let me know). Keathley makes a thorough case for denying the revealed/hidden wills of God option is Scriptural prior to his colorful albeit provocative little assessment of Calvinism generally speaking.

One thing I think remains an obvious problem in critiquing Calvinism is the undeniable perplexity of critiquing Calvinism (singular) because of the undeniable presence of Calvinisms (plural). At times one is reminded of the proverbial greased pig. That is, criticize Calvinism at one point, and a another version presents itself.

Even so, you are mistaken that Keathley but argues "against the extreme minority and hyper-Calvinistic opinion of the Hoeksemians." While he mentions and quotes those considered hyper-Calvinists (those whom Keathley apparently views as a variety of "decretal" theologians), he also liberally quotes from what you would call mainstream.

For example, Robert Peterson & Michael Williams in their book, Why I am not an Arminian (hardly a hyper-Calvinistic volume) write:

“God does not save all sinners, for ultimately he does not intend to save all of them. The gift of faith is necessary for salvation, yet for reasons beyond our ken, the gift of faith has not been given to all…While God commands all to repent and takes no delight in the death of the sinner, all are not saved because it is not God’s intention to give his redeeming grace to all.” (//link, p. 128, italics added)

For my part, I am unsure what to make of this. First, the authors are not at all considered "hyper-Calvinistic" as in "Hoeksemian." Instead, they are mainstream Reformed. Second, it’s true that Peterson & Williams do not outright say, God does not salvifically love those who are not saved (those whom the authors insist will not receive the necessary apparatus for salvation—gift of faith & redeeming grace—for the simple reason that God did not ultimately intend to save them). However, if this is His eternal intention, for the life of me, I cannot see how this is not, therefore, His eternal desire. In short, for me, this seems sufficient to reject the hidden/revealed option pertaining to God’s will.

With that, I am…

Peter  

lmalone

Calvinism is the most diabolically clever doctrine to come about. One cannot debate it cogently because they can never represent it 'fairly'. Or, they do not understand it. (the 'you are an idiot' debate tactic) It consists of flowery phrases such as:

"What Keathley should rather say is that although Calvinists think God desires/wants all to be saved, there are some upon which God does not purpose to effect His desire.

But if you analyze it word for word, he is saying what every has said he has said but he denies it!

Then to add insult we get this dare if we find it self contradictory:

" If opponents think that is self-contradictory and nonsense, then fine. Set forth your case. However, represent them fairly and accurately, even as you demand that they do the same to your position. Keathley's straw man here is a serious error and inexcusable. "

The whole doctrine is about debate tactics. It is a giant circle flowery phrases, strawmen and insults never to be broken.

I bring it all down to their main focus which is God's Sovereignty. In their doctrine, if looked at logically, God is NOT Sovereign over His own Sovereignty! He cannot know everything AND give you a free will to make choices at the same time.

Eric

Regarding the idea of those who "are condemned and can never be saved".

Isn't it true that God could have set up his system such that he receives all men into heaven regardless of faith?

When God knows all things present and future, when he knows who will and will not be saved, there is absolutely nothing man can do to change the fact that he is destined for hell. That's not a God of love.

Or what about those tribes in the middle of the Amazon 300 years ago who never heard the name of Christ. They never had a chance to accept or reject Christ, surly God will not condemn them to Hell when they are not guilty of rejecting Christ. Surly God would give them a chance to accept or reject Christ after Death? That's not a God of love.

What about those Men, Women and children before Christ that God Declared should be Killed. The most extreme case being the flood. The whole world of mankind was prematurely killed by the hand of God. How could a loving God kill all mankind?

Common criticisms from the Lost against the Love of God.

Perhaps similar to the charge against Gods sovereignty in Salvation.

peter lumpkins

Eric,

Thanks. I appreciate the deeper questions you ask. For my part, I do not readily accept the thesis that God could have made a world other than the one He made since a) no world we may fathom could be better than the world God chose to make unless we're prepared to concede our judgment to be superior to God's; b) had there been a better world, then God would not have chosen to create this world but necessarily create the better world; c) had there been a "possible" world of equal quality with this world, then God is open to the charge of creating an arbitrary world; d) all other "possible" worlds God "could" have created necessarily are inferior worlds since God by His nature could only create a world perfectly consistent with His nature. Hence, it isn't prima facie true that God could have set up His world ("system") in any other way than the way it is. That's my initial impression anyway...

As for the poor creatures who never hear the gospel, I'm afraid not only that we're not going to solve all the twists and turns the exchange would inevitably take us, but also the question is a separate one from the one Dr. Keathley raises in his paper.

Thanks again.

With that, I am...
Peter

P.S. I realize the above response is not necessarily compatible with Dr. Keathley's fine exposition of evangelical Molinism

PH Mell

Dr. Keathley,

Think carefully before you answer this: Does God command and desire for the gospel to be preached to every person ? If Jesus commands his followers to take the gospel to the ends of the earth...And let's say all heard this gospel ...do u believe the offer of the gospel is sincere to all men ?

lmalone

"do u believe the offer of the gospel is sincere to all men ? "

What does this mean? Sincere as applies to whom? the messenger or God? Or are you speaking of the receiver?

David Campbell

Keathley's Generality

"I repeat: Calvinism teaches that all are not saved because ultimately God does not want all to be saved."

Another Generality

I repeat: Keathleyism teaches that not all are saved because ultimately God was incapable and impotent to save all men.

I repeat

peter lumpkins

David,

Thanks. I fear you fairly well misunderstand Dr. Keathley, however. Nowhere does he remotely imply our Sovereign is incapable and impotent to save all men. In fact I find that a strange attribution to him or even contra classical Calvinists.

The way I understand what you're suggesting, about the only ones who would level that charge against another would be convinced universalists. Are you a universalist, David?

With that, I am...
Peter

David Campbell

No, I believe God could have but He didn't. Others believe God would have but He couldn't.

Bob Hadley

Most believe God could have and He didn't. It is the why He didn't that separates us.

You believe He didn't because He did not want to. I believe He didn't because many did't want Him to.

Major difference.


><>"

peter lumpkins

David,

Thanks for the return. Bob is correct: answering why He didn't save all is extremely important in dialogs over this fairly speculative theme.

But, apart from that, I suggest you read Dr. Keathley's position in some form before attributing to him a supposed "Keathleyism" that has no apparent connecting dots to his actual position. I linked three sources for understanding Dr. Keathley's view, one of which is entire free--his blog.

Thanks again.

With that, I am...
Peter

Mary

I've never actually met anyone in person or on the internet who believes that God wanted to save everyone but He couldn't. Of course Calvinists claim that's what nonCalvinists believe all the time.

volfan007

Mary,

I'm with you. I've never met anyone who believes that God wanted to save everyone but He couldnt, either.

It's a mystery why David C. would even think this.

David

David Campbell

Hey Peter,

Thanks for the interaction... I didn't expect anyone to really even notice my comment... much less reply. I have read Keathley, but more so Craig in the last year, and of course another counter-reformation Jesuit :) I'm sure if he were to read my comment, he would understand the parallel drawn... a supposed and misconstrued logical conclusion.

Bob,

Thanks for telling me what I believe. It is a shame God isn't winsome enough to convince everyone.

Lmalone

David,

Here is what concerns me about the determinism of Calvinism. It is a short walk to Al’lah’u Akbar. I do not mean that in terms of Jihad but in terms of ALL the attributes of the One True God and how He operates in the Trinity. Calvinism focuses on ONE attribute of our Holy God almost to the exclusion of all the other important ones. A omnipotent God who is not Benevolent unless you happen to one of the chosen. (Even though Rahab chose Him in the OC!) That this omnipotetent God never really wanted that none should perish.

Islam's fake god also determines who will be saved and who will not and there is nothing a person can do about it.

I studied Calvinism and was attracted to it because the institutional church had become so shallow and Calvinism seemed much more intellectual. But i kept seeing the same things said over and over to serious questions such as "you just don't understand". So it started to look like people with "special knowledge" or Gnosticism to me. Even Al Mohler hinted at this in the GC video when he said something to the affect the Non Reformed do not have the basic structure to understand. But that basic structure is like nailing jello to the wall as someone said earlier.

And in the end, I believe that promoting the doctrine itself has become more important to some than anything else. I know some are attempting to change this but that determinism is still there with "special knowledge" other believers do not have.

The comments to this entry are closed.