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Mar 06, 2012

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bigfatdrummer

Well written Peter. Again I have learned something valuable that I can take with me when I am in classes...I pray I continue to have a thirst for God's Word...

Max

"It is not Calvinism that is the issue in the SBC today, for the reasons I've already given. Rather it is the aggression of a small, but vocal group of militant Calvinists that deny the non-Calvinist to draw from the Baptist well with the same bucket as he."

Thank you Peter for sharing your journey for those of us who have only recently joined your corner of the blogosphere. In the 5 years since your first post of this piece, it appears that "small" has grown significantly, with "vocal" now turned up a few decibels. The old guard of aggressive Calvinism has found new recruits and fresh energy in the New Calvinism movement. Your blog has focused on this militant strain and has drawn attention to SBC and non-SBC influencers leading this rebellion against majority SBC non-Calvinist belief and practice.

Thank you for not sitting on the experiences learned during your early ministry journey, but more importantly for standing on the truths deposited in your spirit from your journey through the Word.

volfan007

Peter,

Amen and amen and amen, Brother.

David

Ben

Peter, you said in your original piece:

Secondly, to be anti-Calvinist is to be anti-Baptist. Whether or not you accept it, Calvinism dwells deeply within the root system of the Baptist movement. Wherever on God's earth there have been Baptists, there have been Calvinists. As Baptists, we owe much to our Calvinist forefathers. Know this, you who are anti-Calvinist: our river runs red with Calvinist blood spilled for Baptist convictions. When you curse Calvinists, you are cursing your spiritual ancestors.

Peter, that is a great factual and consensus-building quote! I really like the tone of your article and feel that it's a strong "live and let live" approach to cooperation in the SBC. If only you had reposted this article on your blog before Mr. Gerald Harris put together his editorial hodgepodge entitled "The Calvinists Are Here." Perhaps he would have saved himself some embarrassment.

As to the term "aggressive Calvinism," how exactly would you define that? You give some examples but not a precise definition, which would help us understand exactly what you are standing against.

One example of "aggressive Calvinism" you cite is those who say, "The Gospel IS Calvinism and Calvinism IS the Gospel!" I find that example interesting because Jerry Vines, whom you mentioned in your article, is recently quoted in SBC Life and requoted by Mr. Harris in his article as saying:

I have stated before, so it’s not new news, that should the SBC move towards five-point Calvinism it will be a move away from, not toward, the Gospel.”

Isn't Mr. Vines saying that his particular soteriology is closer to the gospel than five-point Calvinism? Isn't this akin to saying "My soteriology is the gospel and the gospel is my soteriology,"? Is Mr. Vines an "aggressive" whatever-his-soteriology-would-be-called? From the logic you've put forth, I must say that he is.

Also, based upon Mr. Harris's article, would you say that that article is "anti-Calvinist" since it didn't focus on "aggressive Calvinism" but Calvinism in general?

volfan007

Peter,

Forgive me for getting off topic, but have you seen this article by Piper? Does this not sound a lot like the things that Pat Robertson says?

http://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts/fierce-tornadoes-and-the-fingers-of-god/print

David

Stephen

David, forgive me for remaining off topic, but this does not sound anything like Pat Robertson says: "Every deadly wind in any town is a divine warning to every town." John Piper says that we cannot attribute a single event as judgment for a single (or grouping) of sins, but rather any sufferings in this world should point us to Christ. Pat Robertson on the other hand, did say this: "If enough people were praying [God] would’ve intervened, you could pray, Jesus stilled the storm, you can still storms,” http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/05/pat-robertson-tornadoes-prayer_n_1321686.html

lmalone

"I have stated before, so it’s not new news, that should the SBC move towards five-point Calvinism it will be a move away from, not toward, the Gospel.”."

Ben, do you not see the irony in questioning this?

The irony is that a human's name is involved with something so sacred and used as "truth". I know this is rationalized away but still....it is there and fewer and fewer are seeing the scandalous irony of it. It is downright idolatry and satan loves it. It actually makes it about Calvin. You cannot escape that. And that is such a shame.

peter lumpkins

Thanks to Max, David, and bigfatdrummer. I appreciate the encouragement...

Ben,

I appreciate the input. I don't have a handy definition of aggressive Calvinism but I've thoroughly described what I've meant by it through the years by offering examples of it. Founders has been on the front burner now since 1982. And, I think perhaps the most popular current aggressive group would include most of the YRR generally and A29 particularly. The key idea would be exclusion. Dr. Mohler I think represents well an aggressive Calvinism though surely a much more sophisticated, cultured one than I've noted elsewhere. He remains the reigning intellectual icon for aggressive Calvinism in SBC life. That's my perspective now; others may disagree with me (even non-Calvinists).

As for Gerald Harris' article I think he well described the results of what happens when aggressive Calvinism remains unchecked. Some criticized him for being "all over the place." I think he intentionally was "all over the place" because he wanted his readers to see the impact Calvinism was having "all over the place" in the SBC. Again, that's me Ben. I've not talked to Harris about that.

The truth be told, however, I'm almost convinced (but not quite yet) that the fight is fairly well over. Some of us just have not accepted it yet.

Finally, I do not see in Vines the same as you indicate when some Calvinists insist Calvinism *is* the gospel. While Vines would have little doubt, I'm sure, in affirming what he understands the salvific NT message to be is closer to the biblical understanding of the gospel than is strict Calvinism, I do not think he implies Calvinists--even those who embrace LA--either do not or are incapable of preaching the biblical gospel. Presumably one can be further away from the gospel than another without the one further away being "out of range" so to speak of the gospel (and to be sure, even the one allegedly closer to the biblical gospel does not imply he or she has it perfectly mastered). Nor to my knowledge has Vines ever implied such in a message he's preached. And, believe me, I've read hundreds of his sermons.

On the other hand, the language some Calvinists employ is quite different: Calvinism *is* the gospel. Well, if A is B, and C is not A, then, it seems we safely conclude C is not B. The mighty Spurgeon did his spiritual progeny no favors with his now famous dictum.

Grace, Ben. I trust this helps a little.

With that, I am...
Peter

Les

Peter,

I appreciate reading your pilgrimage. One question unrelated to Dr. Vines you mentioned above. I remember a while back the storm over his remarks about being further away from the gospel.

But my question is not really about him as much as what it might mean to be farther away from the gospel. I've seen this in other places mentioned. I just cannot really understand the gospel on a continuum. Paulmwrites about another gospel in Galatians. I think we all agree what that means and I cannot see Paul seeing some continuum.

How would see a gospel continuum. How would you describe or quantify or identify closer or further away from the gospel?

Thanks,

Les

Bruce K. Oyen

Peter, your posting was good to read. I ilked its irenic tone. Our Calvinistic brothers are brothers in Christ. But we still must remember that we non-Calvinists and the 5-point Calvinists preach very different atonements. They have one only for the elect, who, they say will and must believe the Gospel. And we have one for the whole world, the benefits of which, we say, based on the Bible's statements, are granted only to those who believe the Gospel. But we also believe the unsaved are given freedom to not believe it. So, the differences between 5-pointers and non-Calvinists are great. Here is a link to my own posting on why we should believe in a Gospel for the whole world, even for those who don't get saved:
http://biblicalfoodforthought.blogspot.com/2011/11/we-should-believe-jesus-christ-died-to.html

Stephen

"I preached textually--week by week, sermon by sermon, lesson by lesson--working my way through entire books of the Bible, not so much concerned with my message agreeing with last week's assignment. Rather, my concern was with the text before me and whether or not I was faithful to it. Non-negotiable for me was, what the text was saying to them before what the text was saying to me and my congregation."

I assume that "them" here means something like "the original audience of Scripture." Peter, I know this isn't the purpose of your blog at all but I think many would be edified if occasionally you might write on some of the fruits of your exegesis. That's really what I and seemingly many of my young peers have been drawn to in this "new calvinism" or whatever you call it; outsiders looking in say there is some kind of comfort in a philosophical system, but insiders like myself can only point to the soaking up of Scripture that I have seen in guys like Piper and MacArthur. I feel free to disagree with these spiritual heros, but really the times that I disagree is when I see the weakness in their specific interpretations, not in some hole in the system (which I personally don't even use!).

Anyway, thanks for the testimony. May God continue to graciously grant us His Spirit of wisdom and revelation, to further know the hope to which He has called us.

Les

Here is what I wonder. Calvinists and evangelical non-Calvinists will almost always affirm the same gospel: God sent His son into the world to save sinners. The Calvinist and non-Calvinists preachers in the SBC will preach the same message: Jesus came into the world to save sinners. He lived a sinless life and died on the cross for sinners and was raised from the dead and lives even now. He commands sinners everywhere to repent. If you (hearers) will turn from your sin and trust in Christ you will be saved!

So, yes there are intramural debates on the finer points of theology surrounding soteriology. But at the end of the day Calvinists and non-Calvinists can and do affirm the above gospel. Right?

So I don't really understand what the fear of each other in SBC life is all about. Can someone tell me where I'm missing it, assuming I am correct that Cs and NCs can both preach the same above?

Now, I do know there are surely extremes on each "side." But those extremes do not define either side.

Tony Byrne

To Ben and Les,

As Bruce mentioned above, the key issue is the atonement. Without a universal satisfaction made for every man in the death of Christ, then some are left without any hope of salvation. If Christ died only for the sins of the elect, as high Calvinism teaches, then there is no "good news" for the rest. They are just as unsaveable as the non-elect angels whose form Christ did not assume, or just as unsaveable as if Christ had not come at all. No talk of a hypothetical or bare intrinsic sufficiency will do either. Only an actual sufficiency stemming from a price paid for all can properly ground an indiscriminate announcement of good news to all men. This is the idea that Dr. David Allen had in mind when he first uttered the following statement at the John 3:16 Conference:

"should the SBC move towards five-point Calvinism it will be a move away from, not toward, the Gospel.”

Allen said it before Vines did, so I am assuming that Vines himself got it from Allen at the J316C. I can say what Dr. Allen had in mind because we discussed it at length both before the conference and afterwards.

I am a Calvinist, and so are the following men (Truman and Polhill), and we call concur that a limited imputation of sin to Christ (which is precisely what Owenists believe) undermines the good news for all men. Note what Truman says as he accurately represents the substance of how Owenists present the gospel in #2:

"I will say no more but this here: Whether is it a more likely way to lay a foundation for Religion in this World, [1] to encourage and draw mens hearts to repent, return, to tell them Christ hath dyed for you, and hath obtained this of the Father for you, That if you return, you shall live, notwithstanding all your former sins; or, [2] to say, Repent, return: for, any thing you know, Christ hath dyed for you; for any thing you know, he hath obtained this from God, That if you turn, you shall live; though it is ten to one he hath not: or however, we cannot tell whether he hath or no. And if he hath not, then as this is true, that if the Devils should repent and return, they should yet perish, because no Satisfaction was made for them; so if you should repent and believe, you should yet perish, because no Satisfaction made for you." Joseph Truman, The Great Propitiation; or, Christ's Satisfaction; and Man's Justification by it Upon his Faith; that is, Belief of, and Obedience to the Gospel (London, Printed by A. Maxwell, for R. Clavell, in Cross-key Court in Little Britain, 1672), 220.

Polhill is just as forthright, and says:

"But if Christ no way died for all men, how came the minister's commission to be so large. They command men to repent that their sins may be blotted out for whom Christ was not made sin? They beseech men to be reconciled to God, but how shall they be reconciled for whom Christ paid no price at all? They call and cry out to men to come to Christ that they may have life, but how can they have life, for whom Christ was no surety in his death? If then Christ died for all men, the ministry is a true ministry as to all; but if Christ died only for the elect, what is the ministry as to the rest? Those exhortations, which as to the elect are real undissembled offers of grace, as to the rest seem to be but golden dreams and shadows. Those calls, which as to the elect are right ministerial acts, as to the rest appear as extra-ministerial blots and erratas. Those invitations to the gospel feast, which as the elect are the cordial wooings and beseechings of God himself, as to the rest look like the words of mere men speaking at random, and without commission; for alas! why should they come to that feast for whom nothing is prepared? How should they eat and drink for whom the Lamb was never slain? Wherefore, I conclude that Christ died for all men, so far as to found the truth of the ministry towards them." Edward Polhill, "The Divine Will Considered in its Eternal Decrees," in The Works of Edward Polhill (Morgan, PA.: Soli Deo Gloria Publications, 1998), 165.

Since the issue is so important, I'll include this lengthy quote from Polhill here as well (note his sufficiency distinction):

"If Christ did no way die for all men, which way shall the truth of these general promises be made out? "Whosoever will, may take the water of life." What, though Christ never bought it for him? "Whosoever believes, shall be saved." What, though there were no λύτρον, no price paid for him? Surely the gospel knows no water of life but what Christ purchased, nor no way of salvation but by a λύτρον, or price paid. But you will say, that albeit Christ died not for all men, yet are those general promises very true, and that because their truth is founded upon the sufficiency of Christ's death, which hath worth enough in it to redeem millions of worlds. I answer, there is a double sufficiency; sufficientia nuda, consisting in the intrinsical value of the thing, and sufficientia ordinata, consisting in the intentional paying and receiving that thing as a price of redemption; the first is that radical sufficiency, whereby the thing may possibly become a price. Let a thing be of never so vast a value in itself, it is no price at all, unless it be paid for that end, and being paid, it is a price for no more than those only for whom it was paid; because the intrinsical worth how great soever, doth not constitute it a price. Hence it is clear, that if Christ's death, though of immense value, had been paid for none, it had been no price at all; and if it were paid but for some, it was no price for the rest for whom it was not paid. These things premised, if Christ no way died for all men, how can can those promises stand true? All men, if they believe, shall be saved; saved, but how? Shall they be saved by a λύτρον or price of redemption? there was none at all paid for them; the immense value of Christ's death doth not make it a price as to them for whom he died not; or shall they be saved without a λύτρον or price? God's unsatisfied justice cannot suffer it, his minatory law cannot bear it, neither doth the gospel know any such way of salvation; take it either way, the truth of those promises cannot be vindicated, unless we say, that Christ died for all men. But you will yet reply, that albeit Christ died not for all, yet is the promise true; because Christ's death is not only sufficient for all in itself, but it was willed by God to be so. I answer, God willed it to be so, but how? Did he will that it should be paid for all men, and so be a sufficient price for them? then Christ died for all men; or did he will that it should not be paid for all men, but only be sufficient for them in its intrinsical value? Then still it is no price at all as to them, and consequently either they may be saved without a price, which is contrary to the current of the gospel, or else they cannot be saved at all, which is contrary to the truth of the promise. If it be yet further demanded, To what purpose is it to argue which way reprobates shall be saved, seeing none of them ever did or will believe? Let the apostle answer, "What if some did not believe? Shall their unbelief make the faith of God of none effect? God forbid; yea, let God be true, but every man a liar." (Rom. iii. 3, 4). And again, "If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful, and cannot deny himself." (2 Tim. ii. 13.) No reprobate ever did or will believe, yet the promise must be true, and true antecedently to the faith or unbelief of men; true, because it is the promise of God, and antecendently true, because else it could not be the object of faith. Wherefore, I conclude, that Christ died for all men so far, as to found the truth of the general promises, which extend to all men." Edward Polhill, "The Divine Will Considered in its Eternal Decrees," in The Works of Edward Polhill (Morgan, PA.: Soli Deo Gloria Publications, 1998), 164.

The claim is not that high Calvinists (aka "5-pointers") are not preaching the gospel, but that they are undermining it by their doctrine of a strictly limited atonement, such that the majority of mankind (the non-elect) are totally left without a remedy, and thus rendered unsaveable. Hyper-Calvinists saw the connection between salvability and offerability and rejected the idea of "offering Christ" to all men indiscriminately. Universal offerability presupposes universal salvability, and universal salvability must necessarily be grounded in a universal satisfaction. High Calvinists, though they accept "free and indiscriminate offers," are actually undermining the basis for it, and thus "moving away from the gospel, not towards it." As Dr. Curt Daniel, another Calvinist, noted (and Allen references this in his chapter on the atonement):

"We call attention to Calvin's warning that if one limits the 'all' of the atonement, then one limits the revealed salvific will of God, which necessarily infringes on the preaching of the gospel and diminishes the "hope of salvation" of those to whom the Gospel is preached. Both High and Hyper-Calvinists fell prey to Calvin's warning. The former limited the atonement and opened the door to limiting the revealed will that all be saved. Hyper-Calvinists went through that door and logically diminished the Gospel ministry and content." Curt Daniel, Hyper-Calvinism and John Gill (Unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, University of Edinburgh, 1983), 603.

If you disagree, you will have to demonstrate how there is actually good news for the non-elect on the supposition that Christ did not die for them. On the supposition that Christ did not die for all, then God is not prepared to save all. The gospel is not less than giving people assurance that God himself is both 1) willing and 2) prepared to save all that hear it. Without that, there is no good news given.

One last note: Calvinists, at least in the blogosphere, are CONSTANTLY and CONTINUALLY claiming that non-Calvinists and Arminians are undermining or moving away from the gospel since their system allegedly undermines belief in penal substitution. Since high Calvinists believe a limited atonement alone can salvage belief in penal substitution, they think a universal atonement undermines it, hence their accusations. It's a manifest double standard for them to be upset when their opponents make the same claims about them. Both parties are attempting reductio ad absurdum arguments and thus claiming the other party is "moving away from the gospel." The only question is, which party is correct? Both believe the other party is preaching the gospel, but each party believes the other is inconsistent.

I am therefore not impressed by the feigned outrage and "concern" of high Calvinists who complain about their opponents claim that they are moving away from (or undermining the gospel) since high Calvinists make that claim ALL THE TIME about their opponents, hence the constant twisted quotation of Spurgeon's statement that "Calvinism is the gospel."

Tim Rogers

Brother Peter,

It has been some time since I have disagreed with you in public but that still doesn't keep me from it. :)

Wherever on God's earth there have been Baptists, there have been Calvinists.
I am not one that believes in an unbroken continuum of Baptists back to John-the-Baptist, but I am one that believes he exhibits the Biblical principles for baptism which makes one a Baptist. Thus, would you now, please help me understand where "Calvinism" was an argument the Apostles had? Not trying to be coy just trying to qualify your statement.

Blessings,
Tim

peter lumpkins

Tim,

Thanks. Don't mind the disagreement at all.

First, any suggestion, of course, that "Calvinists" existed prior to Calvin would technically qualify as anachronism. More properly, Calvinism may better be historically understood as Augustinianism. But the same could be said for Augustinianism: no Augustinianism existed prior to Augustine. Therefore, technically those who insist Paul was a Calvinist or taught Calvinism--not to mention the horrid acclamation that Jesus was a Calvinist or taught Calvinism--are anachronistically reading ideas back into Scripture.

I hope you see what I'm saying--the assertion I make which you challenge makes sense only in a post-Reformation context (or, if you prefer, post-Augustine context).

Second, I do not think John's baptism necessarily exhibits the Biblical principles for baptism which makes one a Baptist. If so, it would be difficult to explain, it seems to me, Acts 18:24-19:7. John's baptism proved insufficient for the Christian church (Acts 2:38ff).

Third, if one wants to get chronologically picky, there was a period--albeit short, but it seems it did exist--when Baptists were exclusively non-Calvinist. It's fairly reasonable to conclude that historically, General Baptist forerunners were on the scene at least a half generation before Particular Baptists, establishing a non-Calvinistic Baptist church in 1609. If correct, there was a time on earth when Baptists existed and Calvinists didn't (i.e. within the Baptist movement). It was a short but nonetheless real period. Adding to this, if we include the Radical Reformers (at least those who upheld Scripture) as Baptist forerunners, then the period is extended substantially.

So, my brother Tim, you got me. I concede that particular point. Even so, while it may make my original assertion much too broad (i.e. general and needful of qualification), testimonies (like mine above), editorials, opinion essays, and other similar pieces in this literary genre lend themselves to generality and therefore must be read in that light. In short, while you showed my assertion needed qualification, I do not think you overturned it.

Hope that helps.

With that, I am...
Peter

peter lumpkins

Bruce,

Thanks. I appreciate your journey and spiritual-theological pilgrimage. In addition, I like the way you creatively developed a new TULIP. Impressive and it communicates well.

With that, I am...
Peter

lmalone

"So, yes there are intramural debates on the finer points of theology surrounding soteriology. But at the end of the day Calvinists and non-Calvinists can and do affirm the above gospel. Right?"

I have not read all the comments so forgive me if this is redundant. I would say there is another aspect that is more than intramural and that is the NC view of God's Soveriegnty. Most non Calvinists totally agree with the Soverienty of God but NC define this attribute of God as if God has no "soveriegnty" over His own Soveriegnty. And this Attribute is not balanced in NC doctrine with Justice, Mercy, etc. God is so Soveriegn that He can grant man free will and allow Satan to roam the earth.

So, I think it is more than just Atonement. It is what happens after the Cross with believers that is also very important in the divide between Calvinist/non Calvinist.

lmalone

"First, any suggestion, of course, that "Calvinists" existed prior to Calvin would technically qualify as anachronism. More properly, Calvinism may better be historically understood as Augustinianism. But the same could be said for Augustinianism: no Augustinianism existed prior to Augustine. Therefore, technically those who insist Paul was a Calvinist or taught Calvinism--not to mention the horrid acclamation that Jesus was a Calvinist or taught Calvinism--are anachronistically reading ideas back into Scripture"

Hence, Systematic Theology.

peter lumpkins

The desirable and coveted "Best Comment of the Thread" award, hands down, goes to Tony Byrne:

"The claim is not that high Calvinists (aka "5-pointers") are not preaching the gospel, but that they are undermining it by their doctrine of a strictly limited atonement, such that the majority of mankind (the non-elect) are totally left without a remedy, and thus rendered unsaveable" (italics added)
Thanks my brother Tony.
With that, I am...
Peter

Les

Peter, I posted this comment earlier this morning and perhaps it got lost in cyber world.


Tony,

You said, "The gospel is not less than giving people assurance that God himself is both 1) willing and 2) prepared to save all that hear it. Without that, there is no good news given."

I'm a 5-point Calvinist and I can affirm that. When I talk to someone at the airport or at work or where ever, about Christ, and I explain to them the gospel, as I stated above last night, and call them to repent, no one can tell me that I'm not giving the person "good news" just because I believe in particular redemption.

When preachers proclaim the gospel to whoever is listening they do not know who God's elect are. If I read you correctly, you are saying or suggesting that a 5 point Calvinist like me is not really offering good news to my hearers, at least some of them. i.e. that my theological behind my presentation renders it disingenuous perhaps?

Theological term for that is hogwash. We all agree that "salvation is of the Lord." If anyone is going to be saved it is because God saves them, right? I acknowledge that my Arminian brethren are preaching the gospel. I think that are wrong in their theology behind their preaching. But when the Arminian (or non-Calvinist as some insist) stands up and calls people to repent and trust Christ I believe in a God who is big enough and sovereign and will save His elect in spite of my Arminian friends inconsistencies as well as mine.

Les

Tony and Peter,

""The claim is not that high Calvinists (aka "5-pointers") are not preaching the gospel, but that they are undermining it by their doctrine of a strictly limited atonement, such that the majority of mankind (the non-elect) are totally left without a remedy, and thus rendered unsaveable"

Gentlemen, if we "high Calvinists" preach from a platform of limited atonement, we still cannot thwart what God can do to save people.

"the majority of mankind (the non-elect) are totally left without a remedy." That is really nonsense. Whatever you or I believe about the extent of the atonement, God still saves people. My belief cannot do one thing to change what God can and does do when crowds are told that Jesus came to seek and to save the lost and the crowds are told that they must repent and trust Christ.

CASEY

PETER:
Great re-post. I'm currently reading, "REFLECTIONS of a DISENCHANTED CALVINIST", subtitle, "The Disquieting Realities of Calvinism" by Ronnie W. Rogers Pastor of Trinity Baptist Church Norman, Okl. It is available from the author or Amazon.com.
It is amazing the repeated parallels between what you posted and what he wrote in his book.
It is a good 'academic read' which answers some very deep Spiritual questions about the "methodology" that Calvinists employ....and the certain end result of those beliefs and methods, if they are honest with themselves.
I recommend it to all...regardless of your current position on the issue.

Tim Rogers

Brother Les,

But when the Arminian (or non-Calvinist as some insist)...

This is where we call you to account. I do not do this as a "gotcha" phrase but merely as a "would you look at your statement" phrase. Your statement places all who profess to be "non-Calvinist" as a full-fledged "Arminian". That just is not correct. The basic understanding that makes one fall into the Arminian tribe is the belief that one can lose one's salvation. I honestly do not know of anyone that serves within the SBC that believes one can lose one's salvation. Also, Dr. Akin in his 2007 Baptist Life article stated that an Arminian would not be at home in the SBC.

Thus, refer to those of us who affirm we are non-Calvinists is just not a correct analysis of who we are.

Blessings,
Tim

David

Peter,
Would you please explain more about the dark side of calvinism that you realized while you were a calvinist
Thank you,
David

peter lumpkins

CASEY,

Thanks brother. For those interested, here’s a link to Amazon for Reflections of a Disenchanted Calvinist: The Disquieting Realities of Calvinism.. If you’d like to know more about the author, here’s a link to Ronnie Rogers’ website.

With that, I am…

Peter

lmalone

"Your statement places all who profess to be "non-Calvinist" as a full-fledged "Arminian". "

True. And it is getting tiresome. Most people in the pew have never heard of Arimius. But most have heard of Calvin, ironically.

peter lumpkins

Les,

Tony actually didn't imply high Calvinists "thwart" God's purposes in the gospel but undermines them. Even so, yes we can thwart God's purposes. Anytime anyone disobeys God, God's purposes are thwarted. What cannot happen, however, from any created being, is actually overturning God's purposes is any ultimate sense.

Nor is it "really nonsense" to conclude, from the doctrine of strict Limited Atonement, "the majority of mankind (the non-elect) are totally left without a remedy." And, just what remedy would you propose would redeem the non-elect, Les, if Christ's blood was not spilled for them?

With that, I am...
Peter

Les

Tim Rogers,

"Your statement places all who profess to be "non-Calvinist" as a full-fledged "Arminian". That just is not correct."

You are correct. As the politicians sometimes do, allow me to walk that comment back. I should have just left it at "non-Calvinist." Thanks for pointing that out.

You bring up an interesting point though. I don't know whether Dr. Akin is correct or not on that statement. In my experience I have known quite a few 4-point Arminians in the SBC.

So, I'm wondering...and I assume you are a non-Calvinist...do you think that most? many? non-Calvinists are comfortable with 4 points of Arminianism in the SBC? I've seen a lot of non-Calvinists declare they are neither Calvinists nor Arminians.

i.e.

Free Will
Conditional election
Unlimited (or universal) atonement
Resistible grace

Max

Whew! Too many teachings and traditions of men flying through the blogoshere! Since I truly desire to be “right” when I stand before my Maker, I’ve decided to cover all the bases and become a 10-point Armvinist (or perhaps Calminian), by combining all the points available in each camp. No … I guess that wouldn’t work since the 5 points of one slant would essentially cancel out the 5 points of the other persuasion … leaving me with 0-points! Oh my, will there be any stars in my crown?!

Thus, I’ve decided to retreat back to my original position and just be a Christian. I’ll continue the strategy deposited in my spirit from the day I was elected into the Kingdom … to be salt and light as the Lord empowers me to be so. I’m nearing the end of the game and know that I have already won it, regardless of the number of points on my ledger.

Les

Max, it is us, fallen men and women, who have come up with the various labels. I could wish it were not so. But alas.

Anyway, I still would like someone to tell me how, if I proclaim "if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved" to a crowd, biblical words to be sure, how is what I think about the extent of the atonement "undermining" the gospel as Tony said. I can't save anyone. A non-Calvinist can't save anyone. Only God saves and He does that without any of our works, right?

The case just cannot be made that somehow a 5-point Calvinist undermines the gospel because he believes in unlimited atonement, with all due respect to Tony and the godly men he quoted.

peter lumpkins

Les,

The case has been made. Denying it has hardly answers it; it but glibly dismisses it. By the way, you said above, it is "really nonsense" to conclude, from the doctrine of strict Limited Atonement, "the majority of mankind (the non-elect) are totally left without a remedy." I then asked:

"just what remedy would you propose would redeem the non-elect, Les, if Christ's blood was not spilled for them?

The floor is still open for a response.

With that, I am...
Peter

Ben

lmalone,

Since it's been several postings since you commented to me, here is the link to what you said above to which I am responding: http://peterlumpkins.typepad.com/peter_lumpkins/2012/03/ramblings-on-being-a-non-calvinist-by-peter-lumpkins.html?cid=6a00d83451a37369e20168e87f78a8970c#comment-6a00d83451a37369e20168e87f78a8970c

Brother, your point is moot. In fact, you are missing the point. There's nothing wrong with using theological labels. I'm sorry that scandalizes you, but it's theological shorthand and nothing more, nothing less. It should scandalize you no more than calling our churches "Baptist" churches.

Ben

Peter,

Perhaps we could work on a definition of aggressive Calvinism together. As good as you are at giving examples of it, we can surely formulate a definition. Based upon your article, I might offer the following definition:

Aggressive Calvinism = Calvinism that claims to be the only orthodox option and attempts to persuade others of the position by attacking in unfair ways other orthodox notions of soteriology to discredit them so that people will not accept them.

Peter, is this how you would define it?

peter lumpkins

Ben,

Thanks for the suggestion.

With that, I am...
Peter

Tony Byrne

I entered this comment this morning as well, but I don't yet see it above, so I will enter it again. If it is a repeat, feel free to delete it:

Les describes the Gospel as including these concepts:

1) God sent His son into the world to save sinners.


2) Jesus came into the world to save sinners.

3) He lived a sinless life and died on the cross for sinners and was raised from the dead and lives even now.

4)He commands sinners everywhere to repent. If you (hearers) will turn from your sin and trust in Christ you will be saved!

The problem comes in your 1st, 2nd, and 3rd statements since you're deliberately using "sinners" in an ambiguous way as code for "the elect" in the case of what you consider "Calvinists," i.e. another code word for "5-pointers only." Clearly your usage of "sinners" in the 4th proposition stands for all sinners without exception that hear the gospel, hence the problematic equivocation. If you use "sinners" for the first three propositions to stand for all sinners without exception, you've abandoned Owenism.

Non-5-pointers (which incidentally is a problematic description) and all evangelical non-Calvinists take your last usage of "sinners" in the 4th proposition above, i.e. all sinners without exception, and apply that usage of "sinners" to all the previous three propositions, so there is a consistency in their use of the term "sinners," such that there is no concealed equivocation.

The bottom line is: It is not entirely the same message!

peter lumpkins

Tony,

I found one of yours in the spam bucket and posted it above. I didn't see the other one. Nor is it there now...


With that, I am...
Peter

Les

Tony,

I am in no way using he word "sinners" in an ambiguous way. I am simply using scripture.

"The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost."
(1 Timothy 1:15 ESV)

I could also quote "I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.”

Or, "And when Jesus heard it, he said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”

So, if it will set better using scripture, how about:

1) Jesus came into the world to save sinners. "The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost."

3) He lived a sinless life and died on the cross for sinners and was raised from the dead and lives even now. "For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.

3)He commands sinners everywhere to repent. If you (hearers) will turn from your sin and trust in Christ you will be saved! "The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent,"

4. Trust in Christ to be saved from your sin. "because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

Now, how can you ascribe to me or any other Calvinists deliberate ambiguity and "code."

Finally, is that a gospel message or not? Anyone can preach that to anyone. And if i have a presupposition of LA, s what? Does what is in my mind obscure the message that Jesus came to save sinners and if sinners will but run to Him they will be saved?

Hardly.

Tony Byrne

Les,

You've missed the point. It's not "does the bible use the term "sinners." The point is that there is an equivocation in your statements, whereas there is not such an equivocation in non-Owenists. You have suggested that we're all saying the same thing, when we are manifestly not. Consider your last statement first:

4) He commands sinners everywhere to repent. If you (hearers) will turn from your sin and trust in Christ you will be saved!

What is the sense of "sinners" in this statement? Obviously you mean every single individual that hears the external call of the gospel, whether elect or not.

Consider the next three propositions again:

1) God sent His son into the world to save sinners.

2) Jesus came into the world to save sinners.

3) He lived a sinless life and died on the cross for sinners and was raised from the dead and lives even now.

Is your usage of the word "sinners" in these three propositions the same as your usage in proposition #4? No, it is obviously not. What you really mean (but what you're hiding) in proposition #1 is "God sent His Son into the world to save the elect." What you really mean (but what you're hiding) in proposition #2 is "Jesus came into the world to save the elect." What you really mean (but what you're hiding, again) in proposition #3 is "He [Jesus]...died on the cross for the elect..."

Like all high Calvinists, you want the listener to think "God sent His Son into the world to save YOU, and Jesus came into the world to save YOU, and Jesus died for YOU, therefore believe." But, like all Owenists, you can't say that. It's inconsistent with your system, which manifests itself when you use "sinners" to mean "everyone without exception" when you say "God commands all sinners everywhere to repent." No such thing is going on with non-Owenists in their gospel proclamation. Non-Owenists are actually saying what their listeners believe they are saying, namely that "God sent His Son into the world to save every single sinner (which includes YOU), Jesus came into the world to save all sinners (which includes YOU), and Jesus died on the cross for every sinner (which includes YOU), therefore believe, etc."

In the first three propositions you've got "elect, elect, elect," concealed under your usage of the term "sinners," but then switch the sense to "everyone whether elect or not" when you say God commands "sinners" to repent, believe, etc. See the deliberate equivocation on your part yet? The rest of us surely do.

Again, the point is, it is not the same message, as you are equivocating on the term "sinners" and thus concealing your decretal sense and meaning in the first three propositions. To deny that, again, you would have to abandon Owenism.

It's not the same message. One party can assure EVERY single sinner, whether elect or not, that God is both willing AND PREPARED (since there is a universal remedy for all in the universal satisfaction of Christ) to save them all. You, on the other hand, cannot consistently say such a thing since you deny that Christ satisfied for all. God is NOT prepared to save the non-elect in your system as they have no applicable satisfaction made for them. Like we keep repeating, the non-elect are unsaveable in your system, and therefore they are not receiving any good news FROM GOD. The epistemological ignorance of the preacher is totally irrelevant. God Himself is the one making the offer through us, and your system has Him behaving deceptively toward the non-elect. How? God is allegedly "offering" what He doesn't have to give to them, i.e. salvation in Christ. There is no salvation in Christ for them since Jesus did not satisfy for their sins.

Tony Byrne

Here's another comment I sent that has not yet entered:

Here's a syllogism for you, Les:

1) No one can be forgiven apart from the shedding of blood (see Heb. 9:22).
2) There is no shed blood that was made for the non-elect in this world.
3) Therefore, the non-elect in this world cannot be forgiven.

In order to refute that, you will have to deny one of the first two premises. It will not be the first, for that is manifestly biblical. If you deny the second premise, you will have to abandon a strictly limited atonement view which says Christ's blood was not shed for the sins of any of the non-elect (hence the "double-payment" argument).

Given the truthfulness of the first two premises, then, the third proposition necessarily follows. The non-elect in this world cannot be forgiven. They are in the same state as the sinful angels who have no blood satisfaction made for them. It would be foolish for anyone to "offer" forgiveness to a sinful angel since they cannot possibly be saved without an atoning remedy, no matter what "conditions" are added to the "offer." The same goes with the non-elect humans in this world on the supposition of a strictly limited atonement. Making an "offer" with certain conditions (i.e. repent and believe) to them makes no sense, because if they fulfilled the condition(s), they still could not be saved any more than a sinful angel since they have no remedy.

If you're going to respond to this, focus on the syllogism above. Show us how you get around it, please. And, the only way around it is to deny either the first or second premise.

Donald Holmes

Les said "So, I'm wondering...and I assume you are a non-Calvinist...do you think that most? many? non-Calvinists are comfortable with 4 points of Arminianism in the SBC? I've seen a lot of non-Calvinists declare they are neither Calvinists nor Arminians."

Les,

I am neither Calvinist nor Arminian. I am unconcerned with measuring myself by any system with which I disagree. Nor do I wish to describe myself by what I am not (e.g. non-Calvinist, non-Arminian, non-wiccan...).

I am Baptist. Historically, I am General Atonement, Anabaptist Kin and Sandy Creek Tradition. I identify much more with Balthasar Hubmaier than with either John Calvin or Jacobus Arminius.

What would you have me call myself?

Les

Tony,

Thanks for your replies. I'll try to get around to my response sometime today. Very full schedule.

Les

Ben

Tony,

I’ve read you on several occasions to say that you believe the Bible to teach both unconditional election AND universal atonement. In other words, you believe the Bible to teach that God sovereignly and graciously chooses whom He will bestow salvation upon AND that God paid the penalty of sin through the sacrifice of Christ for every person who’ll ever live. Is this true?

Now according to your thinking in your first comment to Les and me above (http://peterlumpkins.typepad.com/peter_lumpkins/2012/03/ramblings-on-being-a-non-calvinist-by-peter-lumpkins.html?cid=6a00d83451a37369e20163028d3ec1970d#comment-6a00d83451a37369e20163028d3ec1970d), you basically said that those who believe the Bible to teach particular atonement cannot really share good news with the nonelect because the nonelect are unsavable.

Brother, you who holds to unconditional election, do you not realize the inconsistency of your argument against those who hold to particular atonement? You are actually arguing against yourself as well. The nonelect will not be saved NOT because God did not pay for their sins through Jesus. The nonelect will not be saved because God did not choose them to be saved. If God had chosen them, God would have also paid for their sins through Jesus. So, if the grounds for something being “good news” is the actual ability to be saved, then you who holds to unconditional election are not preaching good news to the nonelect either because even if God paid for their sins through the death of Jesus, they are still unsavable according to your unconditional electionist position.

So, if it’s true that high Calvinists—as you like to call 5-point Calvinists—are undermining the gospel by their doctrine of a strictly limited atonement, such that the majority of mankind (the non-elect) are totally left without a remedy, and thus rendered unsavable, then you as an unconditional electionist are doing the same thing because your unconditional electionist doctrine leaves the majority of mankind (the non-elect) totally without recourse, rendering them unsavable.

In my opinion, you have the wrong idea of what constitutes “good news” in the Scripture. “Good news” is the promise that every person will be saved IF they will believe on Jesus. It really doesn’t matter if the evangelist is a conditional or unconditional electionist or holds to universal or particular atonement. The “good news” doesn’t change. Therefore, the “good news” is good news to both the elect and nonelect alike (however it is you believe the Bible teaches the elect/nonelect came to be thus).

In conclusion, 5-point Calvinism is not a move away from the gospel as Mr Vines, Tony, and apparently Mr. Allen believe. Every person on the continuum between 4-point Arminianism and 5-point Calvinism preaches the same gospel: if you will believe on Christ, you will be saved!

Living because of Jesus,
Ben

peter lumpkins

I love it when Calvinists disagree amongst themselves. It takes me off the hook for a while... ;^)

Grace to both of you, Tony and Ben.

With that, I am...
Peter

Ben

Tony,

You told Les above (http://peterlumpkins.typepad.com/peter_lumpkins/2012/03/ramblings-on-being-a-non-calvinist-by-peter-lumpkins.html?cid=6a00d83451a37369e20167638b8d06970b#comment-6a00d83451a37369e20167638b8d06970b), "It's not the same message. One party can assure EVERY single sinner, whether elect or not, that God is both willing AND PREPARED (since there is a universal remedy for all in the universal satisfaction of Christ) to save them all." Brother, you as one who holds to both unconditional election and universal atonement cannot say that God is both WILLING and PREPARED to save every person. You can say that He's prepared, but you cannot say that He is WILLING because you believe the Bible to teach that God willed for only the elect to be saved.

I suppose those of an Owenic stripe would say that God is both willing and prepared to save the elect.

But again, the "good news" is the same to both the elect and nonelect: if you will believe on Christ, you will be saved!

Ben

Tony,

I think I've finally worked through everything you've had to say up to this point on here. Perhaps my responses to you should have been all one post, but alas they are three.

Concerning this post above, http://peterlumpkins.typepad.com/peter_lumpkins/2012/03/ramblings-on-being-a-non-calvinist-by-peter-lumpkins.html?cid=6a00d83451a37369e20167638b8efb970b#comment-6a00d83451a37369e20167638b8efb970b

You said the following to Les,

"Given the truthfulness of the first two premises, then, the third proposition necessarily follows. The non-elect in this world cannot be forgiven. They are in the same state as the sinful angels who have no blood satisfaction made for them. It would be foolish for anyone to "offer" forgiveness to a sinful angel since they cannot possibly be saved without an atoning remedy, no matter what "conditions" are added to the "offer."

I'm afraid your reasoning falls flat with me. Of course, it would be foolish to offer forgiveness to a sinful angel. Christ did not die for the angelic, not even one. However, it is not foolish to offer forgiveness to a sinful human since Christ did die for humanity, every single person who will believe on Christ who are the elect.

Brother, you argue as if we know whom the elect are. Neither conditional nor unconditional electionists know whom the elect are. You cannot know until they believe on Christ, as 1 Thessalonians 1:2-5 so clearly says:

We give thanks to God always for all of you, making mention of you in our prayers; constantly bearing in mind your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the presence of our God and Father, knowing, brethren beloved by God, His choice of you; for our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction; just as you know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake.

Therefore, since nobody knows whom the elect are, we share the gospel far and wide with every single person, knowing that Christ died for sinful humans and that all who believe on Him will be saved.

Tony Byrne

Ben,

I am going to take some time to reply to this, but call it quits after this response. Some of my posts are ending up in Peter's "spam folder" and almost didn't get posted if I didn't save them. Also, I don't think your real name is "Ben." I would rather avoid conversations with people on the Internet who are hiding, concealing their full name, so as not to own their comments publicly. I suspect that you are someone I probably know under a different name and the person I have in mind is one who had James White officiate at their wedding. If you are who I think you are, then that will make sense. If not, then it probably won't. Anyway, I will nevertheless respond, albeit reluctantly.

For the evangelical non-Calvinists reading this comment, this issue is important. This "Ben" person is probably a "5-point" Calvinistic Baptist who is associated with the "Founders" movement in the SBC. This is significant because one of their heroes is Andrew Fuller. Not only is Ben arguing against Fullerism in what he is saying (though he is probably not aware of it), so are others in that movement, such as Dr. Greg Welty (who used to be at SWBTS but is now at SEBTS), who first brought up the argument that "Ben" is using. A few guys at Triablogue (a hardcore Hyper-Calvinist like Steve Hays who flat out says God is making "ill-meant offers" to the non-elect) picked it up, since they admire Welty. "Ben" didn't come up with it himself. He's seen it floating around in the blogosphere, and now he is trying it out as well, though in a confused and jumbled way.

The argument is that, if a strictly limited atonement view undermines the well-meant offer of the gospel to the non-elect, then so does unconditional election. It's an attempt to say that moderate Calvinsts have the same alleged problem as the high Calvinists, since the former claim to believe in unconditional election. This is significant because it represents a failure to grasp the significant difference between moral and natural barriers, and even the difference between God being UNABLE to give something and God being UNWILLING to give something. In order to maintain his belief in human responsibility as it respects the gospel offer to the unregenerate, Andrew Fuller (like Jonathan Edwards and many others before him) distinguished between moral inability and natural inability. Fuller employed this distinction as well when it came to the atonement, which is why he thought it was important (later on in life) to affirm a real, objective sufficiency in the atonement for all men as a necessary ground for an indiscriminate offer to all men. The Baptist theologian and moderate Calvinist J. M. Pendelton discerned this in Fuller and quotes him at length in Christian Doctrines: A Compendium of Theology (Philadelphia: The Judson Press, 1954), 242-244. Pendelton wrote:

"The sufficiency of the provisions of the atonement for the world’s salvation, is the only basis on which can consistently rest the universal invitations of the gospel. On this point I cannot express my views so well as Andrew Fuller has done in the following language:
“It is a fact that the Scriptures rest the general invitations of the gospel upon the atonement of Christ. But if there were not a sufficiency in the atonement for the salvation of sinners without distinction, how could the ambassadors of Christ beseech them to be reconciled to God, and that from the consideration of his having been made sin for us who knew no sin, that we might he made the righteousness of God in him? What would you think of the fallen angels being invited to he reconciled to God from the consideration of an atonement having been made for fallen men? You would say, It is inviting them to partake of a benefit which has no existence, the obtaining of which, therefore, is naturally impossible. Upon the supposition of the atonement being insufficient for the salvation of any more than are actually saved, the non-elect, however, with respect to a being reconciled to God through it, are in the same state as the fallen angels; that is, the thing is not only morally, but naturally impossible. But if there be an objective fulness in the atonement of Christ, sufficient for any number of sinners, were they to believe in him, there is no other impossibility in the way of any man’s salvation, to whom the gospel comes at least, than what arises from the state of his own mind. The intention of God not to remove this impossibility, and so not to save him, is a purpose to withhold not only that which he was not obliged to bestow, but that which is never represented in the Scriptures as necessary to the consistency of exhortations or invitations.

“I do not deny that there is difficulty in these statements, but it belongs to the general subject of reconciling the purposes of God with the agency of man; whereas in the other case God is represented as inviting sinners to partake of what has no existence, and which, therefore, is physically impossible. The one, while it ascribes the salvation of the believer in every stage of it to mere grace, renders the unbeliever inexcusable; which the other, I conceive, does not. In short, we must either acknowledge an objective fulness in Christ’s atonement or the salvation of the whole world, were the whole world to believe in him, or, in opposition to Scripture and common sense, confine our invitations to believe to such persons as have believed already.” [Works, vol. ii pp 691, 692, American Baptist Publication society’s edition.]

This extract from the writings of Mr. Fuller is commended to candid and earnest consideration, especially that part of it which presents the absurdity of offering salvation to fallen angels because an atonement has been made for fallen men. The absurdity arises from the fact that the atonement has no reference to fallen angels; and if there are sinners of Adam’s race to whom it has no more reference than to fallen angels, the offer of salvation to those sinners would be a repetition of the absurdity."

Pendelton rightly understands Fuller. "Ben" and the Founders guys do not, and thus fail to see what Fuller is saying about natural and moral impossibilities. This again comes up in "Letters to Dr. Ryland: Letter III On Substitution," in The Complete Works of Andrew Fuller (Philadelphia: American Baptist Publication Society, 1845), 2:708-709. Notice carefully that Fuller is against the very thing "Ben," Welty and Hays are bringing up. Note the question:

"If the benefits of his death were never intended for the non-elect, is it not just as inconsistent to invite them to partake of them as if there were a want of sufficiency?"

In other words, if election is true, then isn't a gospel invitation to the non-elect just as inconsistent on that basis as an invitation given to the non-elect given a want of sufficiency in Christ's death for them? See it? These Founders-friendly guys are actually argue for a position that one of their heroes (Andrew Fuller) is seeking to refute. Anyway, here's everything Fuller says:

"It has been objected, though not by Mr. B., “how does the sufficiency of Christ’s death afford ample ground for general invitations, if the design was confined to the elect people? If the benefits of his death were never intended for the non-elect, is it not just as inconsistent to invite them to partake of them as if there were a want of sufficiency? This explanation seems to be no other than shifting the difficulty.”

To this I answer:

1. It is a fact that the Scriptures rest the general invitation of the gospel upon the atonement of Christ, 2 Cor. v. 19-21; Matt. xxii. 4; John iii. 16.

2. If there were not a sufficiency in the atonement for the salvation of sinners, and yet they were invited to be reconciled to God, they must be invited to what is naturally impossible. The message of the gospel would in this case be as if the servants who went forth to bid the guests had said, “Come,” though, in fact, nothing was ready if many of them had come.

3. If there be an objective fulness in the atonement of Christ sufficient for any number of sinners, were they to believe in him, there is no other impossibility in the way of any man’s salvation to whom the gospel comes than what arises from the state of his own mind. The intention of God not to remove the impossibility, and so not to save him, is only a resolution to withhold, not only that which he was not obliged to give, but that which is never represented as necessary to the consistency of exhortations and invitations to a compliance. I do not deny that there is a difficulty; but it belongs to the general subject of reconciling the purposes of God and the agency of man; whereas, in the other case, God is represented as inviting sinners to partake of that which does not exist, and which therefore is naturally impossible. The one, while it ascribes the salvation of the believer, in every stage of it, to mere grace, renders the unbeliever inexcusable, which the other, I conceive, does not.

Again, Fuller is saying that if there is not an "objective fullness" in Christ's satisfaction for the non-elect, then their salvation is a NATURAL IMPOSSIBLITY. They do not perish simply for want of a "mind" to embrace Christ, but they also perish for want of an all-sufficient remedy. Later in life Fuller saw all of this and came to embrace a substitution in Christ for all mankind in general (see Works, 2:706-707.

------------------------------------------

"Ben", in his own jumbled way, tries to repeat the Welty/Hays argument (and the argument that Fuller is refuting above), and says:

"Brother, you who hold to unconditional election, do you not realize the inconsistency of your argument against those who hold to particular atonement? You are actually arguing against yourself as well....So, if the grounds for something being “good news” is the actual ability to be saved, then you who hold to unconditional election are not preaching good news to the nonelect either because even if God paid for their sins through the death of Jesus, they are still unsavable according to your unconditional electionist position."

David Ponter has VERY THOROUGHLY responded to the Welty/Hays argument here (click). One of David's points is worth repeating here in response. He said:

"By way of reductio, the central idea is that, if a limited satisfaction for sin falsifies the conditional, then just as much election and preterition must falsify it. This is similar to the response James Anderson proposed, but with less finesse. The same answer given to my friend James still holds. Firstly, the particularism entailed in a limited satisfaction is of a different kind, such that it of necessity precludes a sincere offer, but election and reprobation do not. For in the former, it is an inability to apply forgiveness, while in the latter it is an unwillingness to apply forgiveness. However, the sincerity of the offer of forgiveness is directly indexed to the availability of the provision to forgive and to the revealed will. The sincerity (or insincerity) of the offer, nor the offer of forgiveness, itself, is indexed to election or preterition. Election and preterition do not put up road blocks, preventing belief, with regard to the NDF [non-died-for], whereas a limited satisfaction for the sins of the elect alone leaves an inexorable wall and barrier, thereby absolutely precluding any just means whereby God, for his part, may save the NDF, yet it is the very possibility of salvation which he purports to offer to them."

I spoke of Ben's "own jumbled way" above because he inserted this (where I put elipses) unrelated stuff in the middle of his attempted reductio:

"The nonelect will not be saved NOT because God did not pay for their sins through Jesus. The nonelect will not be saved because God did not choose them to be saved. If God had chosen them, God would have also paid for their sins through Jesus."

According to "Ben's" system, the non-elect do in fact perish because God did not pay for their sins through Jesus. That is precisely the point. In addition to their being left in a state of moral inability through the withholding of regenerating grace, there is the further issue of having no available remedy to trust in for salvation, as Christ in no way satisfied for their sins.

This important point also needs to be made. Even if "Ben's" Tu quoque or attempted reductio ad absurdum was sound, it wouldn't alleviate the problem. It would only be saying, "You too, Tony, have the same problem, given election." THat's not dealing with the problem. It's just accusing others of having the same problem.

Les

Tony,

Let me sum up my position on this.

1. It is ludicrous for others to suggest that I (as a believer in LA) am deliberately being ambiguous when I use scripture to call people to repent to believe, even when I do not know which people in my hearing are elect and which are not. I am simply following the scriptural command to preach the gospel everywhere.

2. I have no problem acknowledging a mystery on this issue. How can I urge people, some of whom are not elect (I presume since I cannot know who) to repent when I know that some of these people are not elect? Well we will just have to ask God some day why He told us to do that.

Spurgeon once preached on Sovereign Grace and Man's Responsibility. He said in his intro.:

Now, if I were to declare that man was so free to act, that there was no presidence of God over his actions, I should be driven very near to Atheism; and if, on the other hand, I declare that God so overrules all things, as that man is not free enough to be responsible, I am driven at once into Antinomianism or fatalism. That God predestines, and that man is responsible, are two things that few can see. They are believed to be inconsistent and contradictory; but they are not. It is just the fault of our weak judgment. Two truths cannot be contradictory to each other. If, then, I find taught in one place that everything is fore-ordained, that is true; and if I find in another place that man is responsible for all his actions, that is true; and it is my folly that leads me to imagine that two truths can ever contradict each other. These two truths, I do not believe, can ever be welded into one upon any human anvil, but one they shall be in eternity: they are two lines that are so nearly parallel, that the mind that shall pursue them farthest, will never discover that they converge; but they do converge, and they will meet somewhere in eternity, close to the throne of God, whence all truth doth spring.

I agree with Spurgeon.Google the title and read the whole thing if one desires.

In any case, I will continue to call people, indiscriminately, to repent and believe, for I know that at the end of the day it is not the persuasive words of my preaching that saves any man. It is not my belief system that can save nor can any man be confused by my belief system so as to be lost because of it. And I know that evangelical non-Calvinists who preach, preach the same way and God is pleased to save people through those who believe in universal atonement.

Now you said,

"Here's a syllogism for you, Les:

1) No one can be forgiven apart from the shedding of blood (see Heb. 9:22).
2) There is no shed blood that was made for the non-elect in this world.
3) Therefore, the non-elect in this world cannot be forgiven."

Of course the non-elect cannot be forgiven. If they could, there would be no differentiation between the elect and the non-elect. All would be elect.

Now here is a syllogism for those who believe in a universal atonemnt:

1) No one can be forgiven apart from the shedding of blood (see Heb. 9:22).
2) There is shed blood that was made for the non-elect in this world (universal atonement)
3) Therefore, the non-elect in this world can be forgiven."

Anyone here want to affirm that?

Tony Byrne

Ben said:

"In my opinion, you have the wrong idea of what constitutes “good news” in the Scripture."

And in my opinion, so do you. But, if I have the wrong idea of what constitutes "good news" in the Scripture, how is it you are saying we are not preaching gospel messages with significant differences? What you say above seems to make my point. Each of us thinks the other has "the wrong idea" of what constitutes the "good news" when we are engaging in evangelism.

You say:

“Good news” is the promise that every person will be saved IF they will believe on Jesus."

You're confusing the terms or conditions for receiving the good news with the good news itself, hence your reductionism. If the "good news" is merely "everyone who believes will be saved," or "if you will believe on Christ, you will be saved!," then that's just a bare conditional statement. It's not even an invitation, a call, a command or an offer. First, the gospel is not less than an invitation TO SOMETHING, or TO SOMEONE, but your bare conditional undermines the invitation component of the message. Second, the gospel is not less than a call TO COME TO SOMETHING OR SOMEONE, but your bare conditional statement undermines that call in the gospel. Third, the gospel is not less than a command to OBEY SOMEONE BY COMING TO HIM, but your bare conditional announcment or presentation of a bare conditional is not even a command. "If you believe, you will be saved" is obviously not a command. Again, you're undermining that component of the gospel message. And, lastly, the gospel is not less than an offer, which is a willing proposal/proffer to give SOMETHING to someone on certain conditions. Something must be held out for the taking in order for there to be an offer, but you don't have anything (i.e. a prepared salvation) IN CHRIST for the non-elect to obtain. It's like His cross-work is a genetically engineered remedy that is only applicable to the elect since He only satisfied for their sins alone. Your bare conditional doesn't even specify what it is they are to believe, namely Christ and His accomplishments.

It's as though you're saying the gospel is "believe in the propostion 'if you believe you will be saved'". That's not the biblical object of faith. Christ and His work are the object of faith. If the gospel is "believe in the proposition 'if you believe you will be saved'", then devils can be saved for even they believe that proposition is true. The devils know that proposition is true, which is why they try to thwart people from coming to Christ. Talk about a view entailing pure universalism! :-)

"It really doesn’t matter if the evangelist is a conditional or unconditional electionist or holds to universal or particular atonement. The “good news” doesn’t change. Therefore, the “good news” is good news to both the elect and nonelect alike (however it is you believe the Bible teaches the elect/nonelect came to be thus)."

These are just assertions, not arguments. One can see again, however, that you're bringing up the Tu quoque issue of election and particular atonement. Your view of "particular atonement", or more exactly a limited imputation of sin to Christ, does significantly change the way you are understanding the gospel (hence the bare propositional stuff above and Les' "sinners" equivocations). You cannot consistently say there is "good news" for people who are not forgiveable, and on your system the non-elect are unforgiveable. And if some are not forgiveable, then neither are they offerable. Consider again this syllogism I have presented three times:

Here's a syllogism for you, Les:

1) No one can be forgiven apart from the shedding of blood (see Heb. 9:22).
2) There is no shed blood that was made for the non-elect in this world.
3) Therefore, the non-elect in this world cannot be forgiven.

This has yet to be answered.

You continue:

"In conclusion, 5-point Calvinism is not a move away from the gospel as Mr Vines, Tony, and apparently Mr. Allen believe. Every person on the continuum between 4-point Arminianism and 5-point Calvinism preaches the same gospel: if you will believe on Christ, you will be saved!"

There it is again! You've reduced the gospel down to something that is NOT even 1) an invitation, or 2) a call, 3) a command or 4) an offer. The rest of us have a gospel that is an invitation, a call, a command and an offer. All you've got is a bare presentation of of a conditional proposition, without even specifying what it is they are to believe! Yet you say we're all believing the same thing about the gospel?! Hardly! What you've said it not even compatible with the Synod of Dort that specifies that "the promise of the gospel is that whosoever believes in Christ crucified [notice the object of faith here] shall not perish." And, since Christ's death is "abundantly sufficient to expiate the sins of the whole world," those who are called and yet do not believe, but perish in unbelief "is not owing to any defect or insufficiency in the sacrifice offered by Christ upon the cross, but is wholly to be imputed to themselves." Given your limited imputation views, you can't consistently say they perish "wholly" of themselves. They also perish for want of a remedy. Even the Calvinists I quoted above (Polhill, Daniel, etc.) have observed that fact, and I could quote many others.

Les

Tony,

All nice. But the fact remains that several times above I have used the exact words of scripture in a gospel presentation way. No one has responded to that.

Your syllogism, I replied above. My syllogism, no reply.

Les

All,

This will be my last comment on this thread. As I said above, I have proclaimed something like this many times before:

1) Jesus came into the world to save sinners. "The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost."

3) He lived a sinless life and died on the cross for sinners and was raised from the dead and lives even now. "For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.

3)He commands sinners everywhere to repent. If you (hearers) will turn from your sin and trust in Christ you will be saved! "The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent,"

4. Trust in Christ to be saved from your sin. "because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

Now God has been pleased to save some through even the weakness of my preaching such as above. While I try by His grace to understand the theology of the scriptures, I know I have holes in my theology. Reformed and always reforming.

So, no matter what anyone else says about my certainly orthodox view of the extent of the atonement, and even if I am wrong, He still saves sinners when I preach to them.

Les

peter lumpkins

Les,

A few things. First, I've purposely not responded in this exchange between you and Tony (nor have I between Ben and Tony). It's not that I am uninterested in this subject obviously. I most certainly am. But I do not think I have to enter every exchange. Second, Tony is well equipped to deal with this issue. In fact, he is perhaps the most resourceful person on this issue especially as far as historic Calvinism is concerned. Third, I'm quite sure that though I didn't read (I did scan) your comments except for the last one I've heard most of what you've written here in defense of Limited Atonement elsewhere and probably on this site. I've had innumerable exchanges on this subject for the past six years.

Fourth, I'll say this again: Calvinists themselves have been and remain the most vociferous critics of Limited Atonement. The case against Limited Atonement is theologically broad and exegetically deep. Perhaps more scholars now question whether Calvin himself held to it than not. Hence, I'm afraid you're not going to overturn such a decisive case by rehearsing the same arguments that's failing in scholarly circles to persuade those Calvinists who've embraced some form of universal atonement.

Fifth, none of this questions your sincerity in holding to Limited Atonement. In one comment above you said something to the effect that you find it ludicrous that Tony would accuse you of deliberately using words ambiguously in arguing your position. No one is accusing you of dishonesty, Les. We are accusing you and all those who embrace Limited Atonement of error. Nor should that offend you any more than I should be offended because you and Tony probably would think I am in error for my understanding of Irresistible grace.

Grace for this Lord's day...

With that, I am...
Peter

Les

Peter,

Well, perhaps one more comment. Thanks for your comments. I've studied and taught on the Reformed faith for a long time. Something like 25 years now. I am well aware that there are those who would like to overturn LA, especially Calvin himself. Thus far I haven't read anyone who can successfully make such a case. But I suspect the attempts will remain. And I don't blame scholars for trying. So I don't have expectations that my arguments will overturn what is decidedly *not* a "decisive case" against Calvin on LA. So we all press on.

And in this exchange, no problem here. My *feelings* weren't hurt. My only issue was/is not my sincerity (since I'm the only one here who knows that) but the suggestion that somehow my use of scripture in gospel exchanges were "deliberately" ambiguous. They are not.

I am not deliberately ambiguous. I am, however, deliberate in how I speak to people about the gospel. I deliberately do not say, "God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life" or anything like that. I do not indiscriminately tell people that Jesus died for them. I do not know either of these to statements. If they are not elect, God does not have a wonderful plan for them. He has hell for them...for eternity. If they are not elect, Jesus did not suffer the penalty for their sin and was not their substitute (penal substitutionary atonement means nothing if it means He suffered the penalty and and was the substitution for sinners in hell).

But I do know that since no one of us knows who Jesus died for and since He commands us to preach the gospel to all people and since God saves those "appointed unto salvation," I preach.

Agan, thanks for hearing me out in a setting where I am the distinct minority.

Les

Tony Byrne

Ben said:

"I suppose those of an Owenic stripe would say that God is both willing and prepared to save the elect.

But again, the "good news" is the same to both the elect and nonelect: if you will believe on Christ, you will be saved!"

Of course Owenists would say God is both willing and prepared to save the elect, but the question is if they can say God is both willing and prepared to save any of the non-elect, specifically those hearing God's own call and offer of the gospel. If the non-elect were to believe the gospel, they would not find a remedy in Christ for them. You have to speak of other possible worlds in order to make the conditional "if you will believe on Christ, you will be saved!" a true conditional. Notice in the great wedding feast that the preparations were first made before the great King sent out his invitation. "All things are prepared, therefore come!" You can't say to all people that "all things are prepared" since in the back of your mind you know that "all things are prepared" only for the elect.

Ben said:

"Of course, it would be foolish to offer forgiveness to a sinful angel. Christ did not die for the angelic, not even one. However, it is not foolish to offer forgiveness to a sinful human since Christ did die for humanity, every single person who will believe on Christ who are the elect."

You can see how an offer of forgiveness can't be made for the angelic for whom Christ did not die (the unforgiveable), but somehow you think an offer can be made by God to non-elect humanity for whom Christ did not die? That's absurd. You're concealing your fallacy under the term "humanity," for you really mean "elect humanity," not any of the elect. As a friend of mine observed about your words, "See the shift in terms, from identity of those for whom Christ died, to the kind of being for whom Christ died. That category shift is profound." It matters not if Christ shares a human nature with the non-elect if he died not for them. The non-elect humans are still in the same legal condition as the non-elect angels since he satisfied for none of them. Non-elect humans are left in the same legal condition as if Christ had never come at all. You probably recognize that in another logically possible world no human could be saved if Christ had not come at all, and yet that is precisely the state in which your system leaves the non-elect in this world. As my friend said, "the fallen angels and non-elect [humans] share the same relationship relative to the satisfaction, even though, relative to each other, they do not have the same relationship (one is an angel-being, one is a human-being)."

Ben said:

"Brother, you argue as if we know whom the elect are. Neither conditional nor unconditional electionists know whom the elect are. You cannot know until they believe on Christ."

No, I am not arguing that we can know who the unbelieving elect are. I am arguing that God knows and he is ultimately making His offer through our gospel presentation, but on your system it makes Him "offer" forgiveness to the manifestly unforgiveable. He's proposing terms of salvation to those who cannot be saved. He's holding out a remedy that is not applicable to the non-elect. You're trading on the epistemological ignorance of the preachers but not dealing with the fact of God's omniscience as it relates to the offer. As Alexander C. De Jong wrote, "This distinction between noetically-limited heralds and the noetically-perspicuous God serves to obscure the real questions involved...such a distinction neglects the truth that God speaks in and through the instrumentality of the preacher."

Ben finally said:

"since nobody knows whom the elect are, we share the gospel far and wide with every single person, knowing that Christ died for sinful humans and that all who believe on Him will be saved."

Again, you're obscuring the real debate, as De Jong noted above about the Hoeksemian Hyper-Calvinists by trading on the distinction between noetically-limited heralds and the noetically-perspicious God. Moreover, you're basing the motive to evangelize in our ignorance of God's secret will instead of in our knowledge of God's revealed will. We are to share the gospel in obedience to God's expressed command, which is indicative of God's desire to be obeyed. God wants all men to comply with the gospel commands, and He has issued these commands out of a concern for their ultimate well-being. Likewise, we evangelize out of our love for our neighbors. Look at the stark contrast between what you are saying and the way in which Jonathan Edwards spoke to the lost about the reasons why we seek their salvation:

"3. Consider what a happy opportunity you have in your hands now. Now your case is very different from the case of wicked men in another world, of which you have now heard; and particularly in the following respects.

(1.) God makes it the duty of all the godly now to be concerned for your salvation. As to those who are damned in hell, the saints in glory are not concerned for their welfare, and have no love nor pity towards them; and if you perish hereafter, it will be an occasion of joy to all the godly. But now God makes it the duty of all the godly, to love you with a sincere good-will and earnest affection. God doth not excuse men from loving you, nor your ill qualities: though you are wicked and undeserving, yet God makes it the duty of all sincerely to wish well to you; and it is a heinous sin in the sight of God for any to hate you. He requires all to be concerned for your salvation, and by all means to seek it. It is their duty now to lament your danger, and to pray for mercy to you, that you may be converted and brought home to Christ.

Now the godly who know you, desire your salvation, and are ready to seek, and pray for it. If you be now in distress about the condition of your souls, you are not in such a forsaken, helpless condition, as those that are damned; but you may find many to pray for you, many who are willing to assist you by their advice and counsels, and all with a tender concern, and with hearty wishes that your souls may prosper. Now some of you have godly friends who are near and dear to you; you are beloved of those who have a great interest in heaven, and who have power with God by their prayer's: you have the blessing of living under the same roof with them. Some of you have godly parents to pray for you, and to counsel and instruct you, who you may be sure will do it with sincere love and concern for you. And there is not only the command of God, God hath not only made it the duty of others to seek your salvation, but hath given encouragement to others to seek it. He gives encouragement that they may obtain help for you by their prayers, and that they may be instrumental of your spiritual good. God reveals it to be his manner, to make our sincere endeavors a mean of each other's good. How different is the case with you from what it is with those that are already damned! And how happy an opportunity have you in your hands, if you would but improve it!

(2.) Now you live where there is a certain order of men appointed to make it the business of their lives to seek your salvation. Now you have ministers, not to rise up in judgment against you; but in Christ's stead, to beseech you to be reconciled to God, 2 Cor. 5:20. God hath not only made it the duty of all to wish well to your souls, and occasionally to endeavor to promote your spiritual interests, but he hath set apart certain persons, to make it their whole work, in which they should spend their days and their strength."

God is moving us to share the gospel with people because He desires the salvation of all men in the revealed will. Again, knowledge of God's revealed will, not ignorance of His secret will, is to be our motive. Moreover, we are to pattern ourselves after the very heart of Christ and the way He sought out sinners in His desire to save. Edwards continues:

"(3.) Christ himself is now seeking your salvation. He seeks it by the forementioned means, by appointing men to make it their business to seek it; he seeks it by them; they are his instruments, and they beseech you in Christ's stead, to be reconciled to God. He seeks it in commanding our neighbors to seek it. Christ is represented in Scripture, as wooing the souls of sinner's. He uses means to persuade them to choose and accept of their own salvation. He often invites them to come to him that they may have life, that they may find rest to their souls; to come and take of the water of life freely."

And observe carefully what Edwards says here, in contrast to your views:

"Christ is become a most importunate suitor to sinners, that he may become their sovereign. He is often setting before them the need they have of him, the miserable condition in which they are, and the great provision that is made for the good of their souls and he invites them to accept of this provision, and promises it shall be theirs upon their mere acceptance."

Edwards sees Christ as inviting all on the basis of a "great provision that is made for the good of their souls." You don't have that since you think Christ only provided for the elect. The same point is underlined again by Edwards here:

"All the persons of the Trinity are now seeking your salvation. God the Father hath sent his Son, who hath made way for your salvation, and removed all difficulties, except those which are with your own heart. And he is waiting to be gracious to you; the door of his mercy stands open to you; he hath set a fountain open for you to wash in from sin and uncleanness. Christ is calling, inviting, and wooing you; and the Holy Ghost is striving with you by his internal motions and influences."

One can clearly see in Edwards that the invitation is grounded in God's revealed desire for the salvation of all men AND in the great provision which is made for them all. The point: What a contrast to Ben's "we evangelize because we don't know who the elect are" perspective! You don't even mention God's love for all or our loving concern for our neighbor as a basis for evangelism!

Not only do you have a distorted gospel you are sharing from the rest of us non-Owenists, but you have different motives (mere ignorance about election) as well, apparently.

peter lumpkins

Les,

Sorry. You speak as if I suggested it's non-Calvinists who make the case against strict Limited Atonement. I will say this only once more: the most vociferous critics against LA historically have been Calvinists themselves. And if you haven't read David Allen's chapter in Whosoever Will, I suggest you do so before entering this particular exchange on this blog again. Dr. Allen definitively shows Limited Atonement to be thoroughly critiqued within historic Reformed faith. And, until you actually deal with more current literature on this subject, your pleas that you’re just “being biblical” will surely ring hollow, Les.

And, no, you’re not “being biblical”; you’re being creedal (or ‘traditional’ or ‘confessional’). You’re following a particular theological framework concerning the atonement perhaps made most popular by John Owen. Tony addressed this in his last comment.

And, the notion that you cannot generally state to all people “Christ died for your sins” is partly what Vines (and Allen prior to him) means by moving away from the gospel. The way I see it, from your standpoint, the gospel cannot be good news to all people. The gospel can only be good news for the elect. Salvation is not by grace through faith in Jesus Christ dying on a cross. Salvation is by election. Hence, the Great Commission reduces to rounding up the elect rather than offering free pardon of sin from a loving God based on Christ’s cross-work to every creature on the planet. The way I look at what you're saying, it’s a rigged game from the get-go.

With that, I am…

Peter

Les

Tony,

I suppose I only thought I was through commenting on this post.

So Tony, are you saying that Edwards did not believe in limited atonement? Can you please clarify that?

Peter,

I will try and get a copy of David Alen's book. But one question for you as well, if you wouldn't mind answering.

Regarding penal substitutionary atonement...and I am really asking because I am genuinely wondering how a universal atonement proponent sees this...in your view, did Jesus actually pay the penalty for non-elect's sins and substitute Himself for them as an offering for sin to make satisfaction to God and appease His wrath?

Thanks,

Les

peter lumpkins

Les,

The book will be crucial if you want to know how non-Calvinistic Baptists deal with the atonement.

As for your question, unless I have missed something in the gospel record, Jesus died for one in precisely the same sense as He died for another. Further, He accomplished in His death for one precisely the same as He did for another.

Now predictably, you're going to query how, if He died for all, actually paying for their sin substitutionalary, why are all not saved? That's why you need the book, Les.

With that, I am...
Peter

Ben

Tony,

For the record, Ben is my real name. So, please drop the quotation marks around my name. I've neither read Welty or Hays nor have I come across blogosphere debates putting forth their position. What I said to you was original to me although from what you say, it’s not original to the world. I suppose I should be better read-up on academia and the blogosphere (or maybe not!). If I’m arguing against Fullerism, it is indeed unbeknownst to me. So, laugh at my ignorance if that makes you feel smarter, but I’ll argue against it nonetheless. Furthermore, I’m not affiliated with the Founders movement, and my wife’s uncle officiated our wedding. His name is not James White. I’m afraid I can’t name-drop like you can with your frequently mentioned affiliation with Dr. Allen and his chapter in Whosoever Will. I’m simply a lowly SBC pastor with no credentials after Simpson in my name. So, please forgive my “confused and jumbled” way of making my comments. However, I think you clearly understood what I was saying since you responded with nearly 5,000 words, many of which were drenched with smugness!

I have the desire to respond to the mini-book you’ve written here but unfortunately, not the time. I ask you this one question: of what benefit is a universal atonement to the nonelect from an unconditional electionist viewpoint?

From an unconditional electionist viewpoint, there is absolutely zero salvific benefit in the atonement to the nonelect. Even if Christ did pay for the sins of every sinner ever born, what benefit is there to the nonelect when the blood is never applied? You used the phrase universal satisfaction above:

One party can assure EVERY single sinner, whether elect or not, that God is both willing AND PREPARED (since there is a universal remedy for all in the universal satisfaction of Christ) to save them all.

Christ no more satisfied the wrath of God toward the sins of the nonelect than a chef satisfies the hunger of a customer merely by cooking the meal and sitting it on the table. It doesn’t satisfy hunger until the customer takes and eats. If he never does, hunger is never satisfied, leaving the meal of no benefit to him. The same is true with the atonement. So, satisfaction is more than PREPARATION. Satisfaction includes APPLICATION as well.

It seems to me that you would say from an unconditional electionist viewpoint, the benefit of a universal atonement to the nonelect is a sincere offer of forgiveness from God to every person. You cited David Ponter who says in his blog article:

Throughout this brief essay, my assumption is that whenever I speak of an offer, I am not speaking of any human offers, but only of the divine offer to humans. This removes all the pretended confusion. (II. Assumptions, 1) http://www.theologyonline.org/blog/?p=1266

There’s only one problem: every single gospel offer is mediated and does not come directly from God. Instead of God speaking directly, He’s spoken through prophets, apostles, writers, and preachers. Given this fact, the well-meaning offer comes from us to everybody: Believe on Jesus and be saved! Therefore, God can genuinely offer the gospel to the nonelect through the various instruments or media He uses.

Tony, what’s most troublesome about your position is that it seems to me that you are implying that God would be unjust in condemning to hell a person for whom Christ did not die. It’s as if you are confusing what condemns a person to hell. You seem to be putting forth that it’s their rejection of the sacrifice of Christ for them that condemns them to hell. That indeed is not the case! It’s their unpaid for sin that condemns them to hell. That’s what they do in hell: they pay for their sin. Given that it’s unpaid for sin that condemns a person to hell, that’s why the man on the island (who proverbially represents the untold masses who never hear the first inkling of the gospel) is still condemned. He had zero opportunity to reject Jesus, but he’s still condemned. Why? The answer is that that man is a sinner who is deserving of wrath. Did God sincerely offer the gospel to him? No. Why not? God did not sincerely offer the gospel to that man because God’s sincere offer comes through various media (prophets, apostles, writers, and preachers).

At any rate, I stand by what I said (and apparently with Welty and Hays) in that by your reasoning, you disingenuously offer the gospel to the nonelect also. Tu quoque, if you will. If it is true that the reality of particular atonement (which you reject) leaves God unable to genuinely offer the gospel to the nonelect because the nonelect are left without recourse because Christ did not pay for the sins of the nonelect, then the same can be said for the reality of unconditional election (which you hold) because the nonelect are left without recourse because God has not chosen them for regeneration unto saving faith. They nonelect, who are TOTALLY UNABLE to believe on Christ in and of themselves, are left unable. Yes, it’s a moral inability and not a natural inability, but an inability nonetheless. So, again, you are arguing against yourself when you say that inability removes the genuineness of the gospel offer.

Let me state in conclusion that I totally reject Tony's reasoning and assert that 5-point Calvinism and 4-point Calvinism both sincerely offer the gospel to every person. They both say to every person: believe on the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and you will be saved. All who believe on Jesus will be forgiven and saved. What GOOD NEWS that is!

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