« Dr. Al Mohler Needs Our Prayer | Main | Simple Church »



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


Peter, excellent post! I'm going to have to read through it a several more times! What I think of as read this is how often we try to put God "in time" It's a huge mistake to assume that God has to obey the laws of time. God created time and is not subject to time. It's not something we can understand with our limited minds.


PETER: God hasn't changed one iota since I started posting comments on your blog. And I like your post today. It affirms what I think about God's Sovereignty. He is and we ain't. It's wonderful to consider How Great He IS. It's amazing to consider how all-knowing He is. It's frustrating to be human and not understand every reason for His actions. But it is so gratifying to abound in His Grace and know He has everything all figured out and is gonna let me spend an eternity with Him even though I don't deserve one second in His Holy presence. Incomprehensible. Unfathomable. But oh so sweet the sound of Jesus' Name. selahV


Mary: my favorite part of God is how He multiplies time in my life. I can attest to many times I've literally watched the clock stand still as I endeavored to share Jesus, or do several things which could absolutely never have been possible without the direct intervention of God's unlimitedness. selahV

Keith Schooley

Good post, Peter.

We often forget that the Bible frequently uses analogical language to make its points. We generally take Paul's legal language as a definitive statement of The Way Things Are, as opposed to God divinely accommodating to our human understanding things above our comprehension.

When I read someone write something like, "Once Christ propitiates God's wrath against a particular sin, there is no more wrath to be propitiated," I can only think of the weird juxtaposition between the cold legal calculation being expressed and the hot emotion underlying the word, "wrath."

Similarly, the split made necessary by most varieties of Calvinism between regeneration and justification, when it seems to me that "justification" is Paul using a legal metaphor and being "born again" is John using an organic metaphor for the same event.

Trying to make an airtight logical system often does violence to the thing it is trying to analyze.


Dear Mary & SelahV,

Good morning , my sisters. Don't feel so bad about reading it twice or even three times, Mary. The essay is not typical for editorials. It is pretty abstract but served for them a corrective to our thinking that we may limit God to our defining language about Him.

Many times in my reading of Calvinists, they appeear to be saying such by their insistence on "their" understanding of the way God's sovereignity MUST be so defined. Anything else is wrong or limits Him. The editors seem to be saying to insist God is limited to your defintional patterns is in itself a limiting of God.
If they are saying such, I wholeheartedly agree.

For me, one must be cautious in defining His sovereignty by placing fenceposts around it. A better approach may be to simply look in Scripture to see how God teases His sovereign authority out. When we do, instantaneously we are confronted with His will ALLOWING human will collision. We can actually say "NO" to the Sovereign, and, for reasons He keeps many times to Himself, He says "O.K. So be it."

C.S. Lewis wrote somewhere something like there were really only two knids of people in the end: One kind says to God "Thy will be done" These are His people. The other kind are those people to whom God says "thy will be done." They are in hell or headed there.

Have a great day, my sisters. With that, I am...




Greetings! A great contributing comment. I think we do forget such analogous language.

A similar mistake commonly made by our Calvinist Brothers, it seems to me, is employing the image of "death"-- which the Apostle employs to speak of our separation from God--to become the central, defining image of that separation to which all other images must cower.

Grace, Keith. With that, I am...



Peter, I don't mind admitting I have to read things a few times to let a message sink in! I am really appreciating this thread. I'm also reading over on the lates thread on the Guardian site and what I read there reminds me of this. I've never understood how God can somehow be less sovereign in He's not the one making a choice. To me that limits His sovereignty to think that He can only be sovereign if He's making all decisions.


Hello Peter,

I have been reading your blog for quite sometime now. I really appreciate the way you present a fair and balanced view of Calvinism. Since you were once a Calvinist yourself, you have a unique perspective. Which is why (I believe) the Lord is using you in such a big way. I'm thankful you are willing to let the Lord use you to help many of us (non-theologians) understand the issues surrounding Calvinism. I can know in my heart that this doctrine isn't right, but I can't explain it in a "theological" way, nor have I had the experience of actually being a Calvinist. You are also the only person (in my limited experience) who has openly come out of Calvinism, or, perhaps the only one who's lived to tell about it. :)

I have left a SB church that has become a "Reformed" Baptist Church. This church was going strong for many years, but is now to the point of barely surviving. Many long term members have left, and a few older members are just "dazed and confused" trying to figure out what happened to their church. In my opinion, the Pastor, who became a Calvinist at some point, (no one is sure when) has deceived his flock. He slowly built up a following, and then put these men in leadership, so when you take your concerns to the Pastor or another leader, you get nowhere. It's like you don't even know these men anymore. They have changed with the doctrine they now believe. If you don't agree with their doctrine, you are looked down on. And, there no longer seems to be any compassion in these men, just an arrogant kind of demeanor about them.

I have recently heard of another SB church in my town that is being taken over by a Calvinist Pastor. This church is in a small rural area. Many of the folks are just older country folks. This Pastor has been there almost a year now, and has now begun making his first moves to make changes in the church. He is going to shorten the alter call. He wants to eliminate it altogether, but is going to do it slowly. Him and my former Pastor have been getting together to discuss "strategy". I'm deeply saddened that these poor folks have no idea what is going on. They are very loyal to their church, they have put hard earned money, and their own labor into remodeling their little church.

Is this the way God works? I don't think so. I don't believe God would ever have us deceive people to bring them to the truth. I think this may have been discussed on here before, but I think a Pastor should be up front with his doctrinal beliefs when he is applying at a new church. And, if his belief changes while he is the Pastor, he should start a church based on what he believes, not try to take over a church established on a doctrine he no longer believes.

God bless you, Peter.



I am so glad this thread is helpful in some small way. Also, I trust my comment to you earlier did not come across condescending. I surely did not intend it to be.

Grace this evening. With that, i am...




Thank you for your heart felt words. Also, AJR, it appears evident you are dealing very well with your circumstances. There are many who, having to face the fact that their Church has moved away from what they so loved about it--no matter the substance--bitterness unfortunately seems to rule their frame of reference.

And, while it's obvious you are hurt, nevertheless I do sense an absence of that vindictiveness to which, given the situation, it's so easy to succumb.

I am sad that some men pursue the "boiliing the frog" strategy when "reforming" the church. I fully agree that openness is key for integrity to remain. I recently received an email of another Church in south GA that could clone the few things you have described.

May our Lord continue to bless you, AJR. With that, I am...



Peter, I in no way felt that you were being condscending!

AJR, my husband and I are somewhat new members of a church and a brand new pastor started this past Sunday. Unfortunately, four out of the five members of the pulpit committee did not know he was a Calvinist until my husband asked him to explain 1 Timothy 2:4. The fifth member on the committee who knew he was a Calvinist? You guessed it. He's a Calvinist himself. Unfornutely, by the time the church had gotten to the question and answer time with the prospective pastor it was too late. The pulpit committee had gushed so much over this man that everyone was sold. The new pastor is also a preterist (yep we were the ones who asked about his eschatology) which is not what the majority of the church believes. Doctrine did not matter. The people were more concerned with what kind of music the man liked and whether he thought everyone on stage should wear a tie. So the Calvinists are absolutely right that our churches are woefully weak in doctrine. I cannot imagine what questions the pulpit committee had asked and yet they did not know his soteriology. What is really sad is the former pastor left because he was a Calvinist who also believed the sign gifts were still available. He had had several run ins with the deacons on "pushing his agenda from the pulpit" So I have no idea how the pulpit committee let this get by them since it was an issue with the previous pastor. I think pulpit committees get desperate. Now it was definately wrong that the pulpit committee didn't seem to know the questions they should be asking, but I think it's also wrong for a pastor to not volunteer the information. I think men coming into a pastorate need to be very clear about who they are and what they believe. This did not happen and this young man got somewhat defensive when he was asked publically about his interpertation of some verses. He gave the standard Calvinist non-answers to the questions. He wouldn't answer a direct question and went off on a rabbitt trail to divert attention. My husband and I think this is going to be a time of testing for this church because they've already decided with one pastor that he couldn't preach his Calvinism from the pulpit. Me, I think they don't have anything to complain about since they've decided this is the man God wanted for this church. I see stormy weather ahead! We wonder how much longer we will be Southern Baptist since all the pastors in our area are coming out of Southern Seminary.


Mary: My heart goes out to you, dear heart. And to AJR. I think this is not just a time for the testing of said churches, I think this is the testing of ALL TIME. In my S.S. department this week, our discussions fell on a prayer request regarding churches in our area which are not Calvinists, they are Wiccan. Our area is being filled with the folks who are practicing witches. Young people, young adults are their prey. Folks discouraged with their faith, ignorant of doctrine and easily led astray. Would someone burn every copy of Harry Potter they get their hands on, Please.

Oh the need for we Christians to raise up Jesus so that He might draw all men unto Himself.

Praise God for Peter in his God-called commitment to divide the "truth" and make it understandable.

Isn't it absolutely wonderful how in God's Sovereignty, He took Peter on that walk into Calvinism? Just goes to prove Corrie ten Boom's statement: "Every experience God gives us, every person He puts in our lives, is the perfect preparation for the future, that only He can see."

For what it's worth, my prayers are with all of you in your troubled churches. If you can move to Lawton, we have a wonderful minister who's served our church for over 25 years. And he is NOT a Calvinist. And we are growing in the knowledge he imparts each week in an expository preaching style. God be praised.

cb scott


Through the years I greater realize that God is far more SOVEREIGN than I thought Him to be sovereign in the past.

It is a realization that gives me peace and comfort as the aging of my body hurls me toward meeting Him. I rest my case in His SOVEREIGN GRACE.

Thank you for the post. It was refreshing.




Thanks for stopping by. I too look back and wonder in awe at our Lord's rule over my life, knowing full well it is all grace, none me.

Peace, my brother. With that, I am...



wow peter, this ole boy that wrote this sounds a lot like volfan! except he's smarter. i've been saying this very same thing for years. trying to put God into an arminian or calvinist box limits who God is. its people trying to make God fit into thier system.

i know what you are going thru. God bless yall. hang in there. dont think that all southern baptists are like what's coming out of southern right now. right now, they have dr. mohler who is leading the seminary, and he is a five point calvinist. and, he has hired many prof.'s like dr. tom nettles, who is an exreme calvinist. they are influencing these young men to be extreme calvinists.

i know of many churches down this way that extreme calvinists snuck into and tried to change them. and, these churches have gone thru similar heartbreak and hurt. and, all the while, the extreme calvinists thought that they were right and everyone else was wrong. i have even heard them brag about how thier church attendance was way down, as if this was some trophy of good ministry....that people werent coming anymore!

well, nuff said,



Thank you for the encouragement SelahV and Volfan. We joined this church over labor day weekend when they were without a pastor. There is another couple who have been visiting as long as we have/were and are waiting to see how they like the new pastor. We just felt very convicted and we still do that this is the church where God wants our family to be. It doesn't matter who the pastor of the church is we know who our God is and if He says this church is for us than that's enough. If you think of us just pray that as situations arise that we are able to behave in the matter pleasing to our Lord and Savior. I know God as moved us to this place at this time for a reason and I just pray we will be obedient and worthy to whatever tasks He has planned for us here.


Good Morning Peter,

I hope you and yours are well. I have a brief comment on the present post before everyone frenetically moves on to the "next and best." It seems perhaps odd that most posts I respond to are those which deal in some form or fashion with that theological scourge called calvinism, even though you have posted otherwise, and posted well. You might easily imagine that calvinio disputata alone is a fight into which I exclusively throw my dog, but it's really not so. I would no doubt make a poor calvinist as some measure the creature, nor do I normally auto-salivate every time I hear the word "decree" or "election." ;-o

I am, nevertheless, past weary reading such discussions as the present one, for the simple reason that the returns are (have become?) sharply diminished, or at least diminishing. In nearly all of the comments on this particular thread, for instance - from the thinly and less thinly veiled discontentedness, to the near spiteful - if not ill-informed - axe-grinding of some, such necessities as edifying substance, understanding and the like must creep away in the shadow of cyclical efforts to mis-construe and caricature. Genuine balance is a precarious thing to achieve, much less maintain, and I think this slice of comments illustrates such precariousness lucidly.

That is not to deny you, Peter, sovereignty over your blog, nor freedom of speech to any and all responders - after all, what is a blog if not, as it were, a Warholian fief? But claims of "balance," "charity," or "even-handedness" become a little harder to believe, and not a little harder to find. Some comments seem a bit out of tenor for this blog, but are left unmolested by the host, while other, more calvinian comments - perhaps deservedly so - enjoy no such priviledge...a tad puzzling, as I see it.

Of course, these could merely be the ramblings of a self-preserving cynic, the semi-stilted opinions of a cowardly closet calvinist, or whatever...so take it for what it's worth. I hope my observations are further afield than I suppose, but then, if I thought that, I would not have them posted...[grin, grin].

Grace to you,



Dear Volfan,

Thank you for your ever illustrious post, my friend...



Calvinists really can't stand it when they're made to be seen in a bad way. So now people are not allowed to post their personal expereinces here? People have actual stories of Calvinists deceptively getting jobs at non Calvinists churches, so they can change them? Talk about wolf in sheeps clothing!



Good afternoon, my brother. I trust you have been well and the New Year is begun well.

As for your comments, Timotheos, I am unsure how or even if I should respond. If I do not, you may think you have offended me or angered me or even made me question whether or not I may give this thing up.

On the other hand, if I do answer--as I have chosen to do, which you readily see, my friend--I am in danger of, how did you say it?...Oh, yes! "Molesting the Calvinists." What a sorry jar of pickles you have sealed me in, Timotheos! I shall not forget it, either:)

On a more serious note, two things: first, you are welcome to comment here all you wish for you ever leave behind a word over whiich one may ponder awhile and usually do so with grace and style.

Second, since your last visit, I can think of a post or two or a comment or two that very well fit the criteria you offer. But I looked back through the comment thread here and I'm totally bumed out about ill-written comments. I really can't see any comment that, on my worst mood days--the days I have when my coffee supplier is out of my favorite Batdorf & Bronson Seattle Espresso Blend and I begin to pluck my eyebrows out one by one and, with Job, curse my day of birth--I would actually consider challenging or even deleting.

Given that, I also am quite sure my Calvinist brothers tire of my snitty little posts that they feel are, as one blogger noted, "libertarians like Peter Lumpkins begin with their seat-of-the-pants intuitions or canned illustrations..." What an absolute adorable thing to say about me. I would love to thank him but he blacklisted my darn server.

Whether or not the Calvinist community desires to admit it, Churches are being hurt because far too many Calvinists want to hide their Calvinism from nonCalvinist churches, from my standpoint.

For me, I hope in some small way, this site can be a resource for the humpteen million SBs who cannot verbalize why they are not and have no desire to be a Calvinist. So, yes. I am biased. But I never said I was not to my recall.

Peace to you, Timotheos. I hope your day ends well. With that, I am...



Mr. Rella,

Calvinists are not alone in their dislike of being "made to be seen in a bad way." Just ask Professor Olson, about whom Peter posted some time last year on this blog. Any Christ-follower involved in deception - theological or otherwise - must be called to account. But being "made to be seen in a bad way" as often as not happens at the hands of one's detractors - you know, sort of like what happens when statements such as, "Talk about a wolf in sheeps [sic] clothing!" are made. That, my friend, is a universal judgment you are neither qualified nor justified in making - "Who are you to judge another's servant? To his own master he stands or falls."

Disagree with someone's theological position as you will, Rella, and disagree over substance rather than anecdote, but if you fear God and tremble at His word, lay down your gavel, abandon your self-appointed position over someone else's servants, and speak of your Master's servants as He commands you. Such speech, seasoned with salt, will undoubtedly be much more useful and honoring to the Master.

Grace to you,



Right, because you weren't judging what people were posting in this thread. What would you call Calvinists who get jobs in nonCalvinist churches without fully disclosing their soteriology? Me I'm thinking wolf in sheeps clothing applies as we can see by these fine peoples personal expereinces


You know Timotheos, I hope this doesn't come across the wrong way, but there are quite a few Calvinists blogs out there that could use your advice. I for one am very happy to have this safe place to share only a little of what my experiences have been with real live Calvinists and have others who know exactly what I'm talking about.

perry mccall

The problem with some of this discussion is the oversimplification. For instance, the blaming of Church division on a pastor’s so called deception concerning his position on Calvinism is too convenient. The real issue is often the conflicting views of pastoral leadership and responsibility. The reality is (although it is an anecdotal reality:)) that divisions in our churches are fueled by bitter jealousies and selfish ambitions. They are driven by our constant use of worldly wisdom instead of wisdom from above. (James 3.13-4.12) I do not deny that there are plenty of calvinazis out there causing havoc. However, there are equally as many (if not more) pre-millennial dispensational AFR right wing republican theocratic flag worshiping racist power seeking idolaters who are wrecking havoc across the SBC. We have problems in our dying denomination that are serious and threaten our future as a healthy and vibrant missions cooperation. The only reason a 5-pointer and 1-pointer can not serve side by side in the same Church let alone within a Convention is a sinful heart. We are bound together by Christ through faith alone according to his glorious and wonderful grace. The bottom line is that regardless of one’s position on election (unconditional or conditional upon foreknowledge) in both systems not a single person will be saved who has not been elected before the foundation of the world. Think about that for a second. We may define how election is established by God in different ways but the end result is the same. The elect will be saved. How will they be saved? The will be saved through faith in Jesus Christ which comes through the working of the holy spirit through the word of Christ. Again, it is the same in both systems of doctrine.

I do not deny the emotional turmoil that is experienced in the midst of Church division. I have experienced it as a pastor and a member. I am simply saying that it is my belief that the real causes of these problems are deeper than the pastor’s position on election.

Peter, I hope I haven’t overstepped my welcome. I think this article is excellent. I think it is a little of a stretch to use it as an example of a decline in Calvinistic influence during this period. However, the point about making a system (any system) determinative of God’s character should be taken to heart by us all. I personally find your engagement with Calvinists and Founders guys enjoyable. I am sure Tom Ascol often cries out, “save me from my followers!!” You do an excellent job of exposing the “Calvinist” attitude that is so appalling. An attitude that all of the leaders of Founders Ministries condemn.

I apologize for my sarcastic response to you many months ago on the Founder’s blog. I am sure you have forgotten it but I apologize sincerely nonetheless. I think you often bring out good points and ideas in the midst of many contemporary issues that we are facing as a Convention. This is why in bothers me so much that you continue to discredit yourself with comments like the ones you have made about Dr. Nettles. It is highly offensive to imply that he is even worse than a regular Calvinist because he is an extreme. Disagree with him. Debate him. However, please don't disrespect and misrepresent him.


Timotheos! Happy New Year! You didn't get what you wanted for Christmas this year, did you?

Isn't it amazing? Peter's blog use to be filled with all Calvinists and only one dissenter, VOLFAN who would come in lay a grenade in the middle of the thread and watch it explode. Now, Peter's got all kinds of folks who have actually met and associated with real live Calvinists. And I get to hear all their stories.

I still love you dearly, Timotheos. I have missed your input. And it doesn't bother me a bit that you feel slighted. But since all the previous posts before Mary, Rella, AJR came along, can we just hear what they have to say? I'd love to know how you see the Calvinist church differently.

Seth told me a bunch of things about his services when I had my question-answer blog up and running. I liked Seth. He just keeps plugging along. I don't think very many Calvinists give a hoot or a hanny what Peter is writing about. Most of them have gone back to Founders or whereever they were. But I'll talk with you Timotheos. You know I'm basically ignorant of the 5-point doctrines. But I've been learning alot. I'm no contender for discussion, but I love it when you and Peter dialog back and forth.

If all the non-Calvinists on this site promise to play nice, will you hang around and apologize, reprove, correct, and edify? I don't know if anyone knows you since you've been a bit silent as of late. Maybe that is our fault. But I want everyone to know, you are a class act. And if nothing else their vocabulary can be enlarged by your vociferous discourses. :)

Grace be yours in a big big way, my brother. selahV


Volfan: Just in case you misunderstand, I think your grenades are very beneficial. When an explosive device is dropped in a pond, a bunch of dead fish come floating to the top. Some of us need a deafening explosion at times to expose the dead and let us see the living. I think you serve to do this quite often. selahV


Ha Ha, Peter, great response - you crack me up, you do. I don't much like pickles, and I would not put you in one, even if I could - besides, you have proven by your words that I am not up to such a task, for which I am glad. And I knew you would overcome the apparent quandary you supposed yourself in...heh heh.

But I will provoke you to jealousy. Say what you will about your fine coffee, but you will envy the India green coffee I roasted in my basement 2 days ago, ground fresh this morning and pressed into the nearly perfect cup. As good as I know your coffee is, fresh-roasted in your own basement is, well, just sublime. If you ever get the hankering, you can roast in your own home for half of what you would pay for specialty beans, and I'd be happy to tell you how I do it - cheap! But I digress...

Mercy me, I would not advocate deleting any comments on your blog - that would be no fun at all! And in all fairness, you have not been some non-calvinist lapdog, always licking the face of the non-cal's who post here. Far from it, I think.

Now I have some more thoughts which I hope will perchance prove beneficial while not laying myself open to the charge of judgmentalism unbecoming of a disciple. But my energy has come to an end this night, and I must go sleep off the effects of these blasted inoculations for an upcoming trip to India, Bangladesh and Myanmar. I hope you all rest well tonight, and don't let the bed bugs bite.

Grace and peace,



Dear Perry,

Thanks for dropping by. I very much welcome your participation. And, know I do not feel at all you have overstepped your bounds through your very challenging comment. Rest well, my Brother.

As for the "oversimplification" of the situation when Calvinist Pastors do not readily bring their views into focus with either the Church or search committee, I must register my disagreement, if you don't mind, Perry. I am wondering, Perry, do you agree that it is wrong for Calvinists to reserve their Calvinism when interveiwing for a pastoral position?

For me, it WOULD be oversimplification--even wrongheadedness--if one here argued that Calvinists and Calvinists ONLY are guilty of such secrecy. Yet, no one here has mentioned such.

Of course, I could offer a couple of substitutes that are oversimplifications, at least in my view. One would be this: "All SBC Founders were Calvinists. Therefore we should be Calvinists as well." Or, here's another that I feel qualifies as oversimplification: "SB churches in the south up until the first quarter of the 20th century almost exclusively used the 1742 Philadelphia Confession. Therefore, they were all strongly Calvinistically-oriented.
In fact, these two oversimplifications I try to offset on this site.

Moreover, the comment that steered this conversation in this direction simply was sharing a hurtful situation that indeed was the case. That's all. Would it be better for them to share such a scenario at any number of Calvinist blogs?

It seems, Perry, that you and I possess two very different working perceptions of the SBC Calvinist community. I may be wrong in my perception, I readily confess. Yet I do not think I am. I sense their aggressiveness (and have been the object of it on more than one ocassion, I might add:)as well as their demand for precise "reformed" theology hinders the cozy relationship you seem to think strong Calvinist pastors can enjoy with a semi-arminian church.
A Five Point Calvinist and a One Point Church? And all be cudily? I just don't think I'm quite ready to take that one around the block, Perry. Sorry.

Now as for the present post not being an example of Calvinism's wane in the 19th century, perhaps you are correct. Perhaps not. One thing is for sure, Perry: the present editorial (1897), ZT.Cody's unchallenged words at the century's turn that he knew of no church who "believed or defended the five points of Calvinism" since much of it was "repugnant to our people" and more historical tresures to follow surely, at least from my view, questions the continued Founders' mantra that our SBC heritage is definitively Calvinist and nothing else.

May our Lord blees you and yours, Perry. With that, I am...



I attended The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville from 2000-2003. I sensed that for the most part, most of my professors and the students sought to walk humbly with the Lord. And quite frankly, the jerks "wolves in sheeps clothing" I met seemed to simply be the same know-it-all-jerks we all knew as children, regardless of their theological position.

It may help you to understand that my professor of Christian Theology 1 & 2, never tried to sway his class to one position or the other, instead he would often say, "I know godlier men than I sit across the aisle from myself in their beliefs." Remember, our goal is not to become a Calvinist, nor an Arminianist, our goal is be sanctified into an image of Jesus. My professor knew that. I like to think that his students learned that as well.

To ask Timotheos to depart from this classroom is rather rude. He is one whom I have enjoyed having here in this place - he provokes nothing more than thought; this is a good thing!


Joe, I did not ask Timotheoas to leave but simply to share his advice with those on the Calvinists blogs who in my opinion are behaving in less than a Christ-like manner. Telling a person that their advice is needed on other blogs is not the same as saying go away.


to some in this room,

i am using dr. daniel akin's term...extreme calvinist...to explain what some people are. they are not hyper calvinists, because they do belive in witnessing and missions. but, they are extreme calvinists because they are out there trying to promote five point calvinism....it seems to be thier obsession. dr. tom nettles fits into this description...unless he has changed.

i had dr. nettles for the history of christianity at mid america baptist seminary in memphis, tn back in the 80's. every day... all we heard was five point calvinism. dr. nettles was active in trying to convert the students. and, his converts were actively trying to convert the other students. it caused a huge division in our school that resulted in dr. nettles being asked to leave.

perry and joe and timmy, thats extreme calvinism. someone who is more concerned with winning others to a theological system than they are with winning souls and helping the saints grow in thier faith. they are just concerned with people becoming five pointers...so, when they preach...five pointism....when they have a conference....five pointism....when they have a blog...five pointism....when they teach a class in seminary....five pointism. thats extreme calvinism.

if all i talked about, and promoted, was prophecy...that would be extreme too. if all i talked about was politics and the bible...that would be extreme too. if all i ever preached or talked about was abortion...that would be extreme too.

so, i love dr. nettles in the Lord. but, i dont appreciate his extreme views that led to division and strife at our seminary, and his disciples tearing up many churches around the mid south area. no sir!

selah, thanks. God bless ya, gal.


perry mccall

I agree with you about the current hope in finding strong Calvinist pastors and semi-Arminians together in a “cozy” relationship. It probably doesn’t have much of a chance. That is my point. It is wrong that it doesn’t exist. The problem of incompatibility rests on both sides of the issue. In each separate context the blame could be passed around but it will usually be fueled by one side or the other. I have heard two different types of comments over the years concerning this issue. One person will say that there is no way that he will knowingly sit under or listen to a Calvinist preacher and I have heard others make the same comment concerning a preacher who isn’t a Calvinist. I am saying that both of the attitudes are not only unhealthy but are in fact sinful. Secondly, your statement about “their demand for precise “reformed” theology” is a key to understanding much of the conflict at the local level. The position on election gets wrapped up with a fundamentalist attitude toward all things “reformed” and the “tires start getting slashed.” The aggressive application of the regulative principle is often the real problem and the doctrine of election ends up getting blamed. I think that a pastor’s position on normative versus regulative worship is far more pertinent to Church harmony than his position on election. I say this as a practical matter not so much in light of any current situations. I also agree with your illustrations of oversimplification concerning the “historic Baptist” arguments.

I am hesitant about answering the question on search committee disclosure for a host of reasons. The biggest reason is space and time as well as weariness of it after all of the discussion this past summer:) Also, there is a difficulty in discussing this issue because of the lack of universal definitions applied to the labels. Nonetheless, I will say that integrity is the first principle to be followed regardless of the issue at hand. Honest answers to honest questions. However, I find no compelling reason why any secondary doctrinal issues must be arbitrarily discussed or exposed. I look to see if a Church has adopted the BF&M 2000 as their confession of faith. If they still use an older BF&M, then I ask about their positions on the changes to see if there is any conflict. (I am simply sharing a small part of my process not a proposed standard for others) I am no more concerned about the Church’s position on election than I am on their position on dispensationalism. I am concerned about seeing if we fit together as basic SB. But the problem does arise if a pastor or a Church expects a secondary issue to be treated as a fundamental of the faith. A KJV only or a dispensational only Church must share that with a pastor. I believe equally that if a pastor intends on trying to change the direction of the Church to becoming a “reformed” church with people intentionally and consciously holding the 5-points of Calvinism, then you better believe he should be telling the committee of his intentions. This also applies to the pastor who intends to lead the Church from a traditional to a purpose driven model. It applies to any agenda that a pastor or Church may bring to the table.

I accept your response concerning your intentions and use of terminology. I hope you trust that I am sincere when I say that I think you add to the over all discussion. I read you in many places and I point to your question on David Rogers’ post on Grudem pt. 3 as an example of what I am talking about. So, I disagree with SelaV that dropping grenades is helpful. I think you represent a voice that is important and I hate to see the way your are often so easily discounted on other blogs because the "grenades."



I appreciate the response and agree with much of it and know we are not at all that far apart.

One thing I do think important to point out, however. While I agree that no Pastoral prospect should be expected and/or faulted for not opening the door to every room in his theological dwelling, I question whether Calvinism/nonCalvinism should be one of those avoided rooms.

For me, soteriology is not among the many doors argued can be kept shut. How God saves and relates to us and strategies for evangelism in reaching the community appears to me to be the heartbeat of a pastoral ministry.

Peace. With that, I am...



Good Afternoon Peter,

I hope you enjoyed some fine coffee this morning. I had a cup or two myself, sans pickles. I think I did not completely answer your concern about "ill-written" comments (I think I wrote "ill-informed" rather than "ill-written" which would be an important distinction from my view) or "axe-grinders. A few examples of what I had in mind:

Keith wrote: "When I read someone write something like, 'Once Christ propitiates God's wrath against a particular sin, there is no more wrath to be propitiated," I can only think of the weird juxtaposition between the cold legal calculation being expressed and the hot emotion underlying the word, "wrath." "

Keith is a bright, thoughtful brother, a gentleman and a scholar. To characterize such a statement as a "weird juxtaposition" of cold legal calculation on the one hand, and "hot emotion" over wrath on the other is, in my view, ill-informed and the perpetuation of a typological caricature. Perhaps he knows personally, and so was thinking of at the time he wrote, just such an individual - a "Mr. Brocklehurst" of Jane Eyre infamy, for example. I, and many others I know, would own no such juxtaposition, nor the skewed sentiments Keith seems to enjoin to it. The quoted phrase might rather fill me with wonder and joy and deep gratitude. I know something of "hot emotion" in connection with wrath, but it is only because I know it is deserved, and I have been given refuge from it by the One who has born it for me.

As for the axe-grinding and discontentedness, it seems that everything from intentional deceit to arrogant condescension to hostile takeovers has been laid at the paws (and jaws) of those ravenous calvinists. Perhaps it is all true...or perhaps "the first to present his case seems right, till another comes forward and questions him." I have been in many conversations where my theology, motivations and/or salvation have been either questioned or misunderstood, and discussion has been brought to an abrupt end because someone thought they smelled something theologically, emotionally odious which did not match their own "theologicus receptus." Pooh pooh.

Mary, I did not take umbrage with your suggestion to post on other Calvinistic sites - actually, I have on occasion. Though I know it might be impossible to believe, and I have said it before, I am not an apologist for Calvinism by any means. Calvinism as a system is not something I care to spend much time defending, which was part of the point, I think, of Peter's post.

It's a point well taken...though systematizing something does not automatically render it suspect, deficient or in error, as some might conclude from this article and subsequent comments. Calvin, like so many other of the church's teachers throughout her storied history, was a brilliant, gifted interpreter and pastor, theologian and counselor. He, like Jacobus Arminius, often gets a bum rap these days, as do many who come after. These things ought not to be in the household of God, in my opinion.

Rella, discernment and judgment are two different acts, as I know you well know. We are called to the former, forbidden in the latter. To pronounce brethren in the same household as you (if you claim a relation there) as wolves seems to me to be an act of the latter. Perhaps I am mistaken, but that's how it looks. But we are in agreement over candor and honesty in the pastorate. It is not always as easy or neat as you suppose it to be. I know of what I speak.

Forgive the lengthy post. I won't do it again till next quarter :-(

Grace and peace,




Very good comment and, one, I think could stir some good discussion. I am quite sure that, were the yof a mind to, those whom you have graciously challenged could oblidge you. And if they so choose, with class, I'm of hope.

The only spittle with which I heal your eyes, Timotheos, is this: I'm confused how any of your citations fit your spatting of my hand. You write: "Some comments seem a bit out of tenor for this blog, but are left unmolested by the host, while other, more calvinian comments - perhaps deservedly so - enjoy no such priviledge...a tad puzzling, as I see it."

Rest peacefully this evening, my cyberfriend. With that, I am...


David Kerr

Mr. Lumpkins,
I would be interested to hear your own view of man's post fall condition. What do you believe about Original Sin and Depravity?

I am not trying to be argumenative I am just interested. It has been my observation that many Southern Baptists simply do not know what they believe at all.

I personally am a moderate Calvinist though many in the Reformed camp would say I am not a Calvinist. I realize that my denial of Limited Atonement is probably little consolation to many on this blog. Oddly enough I came to Southern Seminary a committed five-point Calvinist but because of the tools they have given me here I have come to a different position on the extent of the Atonement.

Original Sin is a sticking point for me. What are the consequences of Adam's sin on all of his posterity? I think this is key before one begins the discussion of election.

BTW I hope everyone saw that Dr. Mohler is out of the hospital!


Well I suppose, Peter, I would have in mind the examples I offered, which seem to sneak by a little to quietly with a tacit nod of approval. But again, this is your blog and I am a mere guest parsing some supposed meaning or intent. Keith is an able blogger and theologian, and I would not press the point with him. If I were Keith, I would not waste time responding to me. Guess that makes him glad I'm not him...er, or something like that.

Grace and peace be multiplied to you,



Dear David,

Thank you for commenting here. Also, I appreciate the update on Dr. Mohler. Our prayers continue to be with him and his family.

I'm refreshed to know, David, that you are implementing the tools you receive from our seminary. Nor is it surprising that your understanding of limited atonement is transforming given a close exegetical look at the atonement passages in the NT.

From my perspective, this is the archilles heel in Dortian soteriology, a weak point that many otherwise very strong Calvinists--Erickson, Schaeffer, Lightner, Dorty, Sell--simply could not "make fit" into a tidy system of thought. Inevitably, theological interpretation rather than exegetical issues tip the scales for those who hold to limited atonement. That's my take on it anyway.

As for total depravity, David, thank you for asking. I do intend to get around to a post on it. It's just one of those things that get pushed aside ever again for another bright idea :)

Nevertheless, let me give you a short answer leaving the long one for later. First, I, for one, do not deny the biblical doctrine of "total depravity" though I really do not speak in those terms.

One reason is that "total depravity" can be a wax nose, as even Reformed writers point out, that is easily misunderstood. You are obviously aware of those misunderstandings so I won't mention them.

Rather, I am more comfortable simply talking in terms of "sinful depravity." As a result of Adam's fall, "original sin" depraves our human nature such that no part of it is nontainted.

Consequently, we are absolutely shut off from from the Resource of life--our God, if you please. Or another way of looking at it is that we've blown a fuse, short-circuited our system.

Those are obviously my images, not the Bible's. And I am surely comfortable in speaking the Bible's terms. I have no reservation is speaking the terms of death as did the Apostle in Eph 2--"dead in trepasses and sins." My difficulty is, making the imagery of death the hub to which all other images the Bible reveals about our sinful condition must both relate and be interpreted in light of.

It is not uncommon for my Calvinist brothers to insist that dead means dead. Period. No ifs, no ands, no buts. And, they further reason, since we are dead--with no ifs, ands or buts--we must, therefore be resurrected to the new life BEFORE we can do anything at all. "Lazarus! Come forth!" Consequently, regerneration precedes faith, etc etc etc.

For me, I simply think that is attempting to read far more into the imagery of "dead in sin" than the Apostle meant. There are other expressions used by the Apostle that does not suggest death.

For example, Paul says in Romans 5.6, when we were "asthenos"--"weak, feeble"(Abbott-Smith), "sluggish in doing right" (Thayer), "weak and powerless" (Arndt & Gingrich). The word is used of the "impotent" cripple in Acts 4.9 who could not walk. Therefore, while Paul says we're sick and febble in sin , he does not here say we're dead in sin. And, I do not think the answer lies in accepting "dead" as the determining condition and interpreting "sick" in light of it. I accept both images.

These examples could be compounded. Jesus spoke of our sinful condition like being "lost", in the "dark", without "truth", "blind" and "deaf", etc, none of which demand death. For me, then what is key about our sinful condition is a) it's very real b) it's very thorough c) it's hopeless. Only through the Gospel accompanied by the Holy Spirit is hope available.

That, David, is my short answer.

I trust you have a peaceful afternoon. With that, I am...




Thank you for your kind, understanding words. You speak as one who is very tuned into the Holy Spirit.

I'm thankful you can tell that I'm not bitter about what has happened at our former Church. I still feel somewhat "in shock" at what has happened, and what appears to be happening in the other Church I mentioned. I'm also saddened to see that is happening elsewhere. I guess we're not in Kansas anymore. :) I'm sure that statement makes me sound even more like the simpleton some Calvinists already seem to know I must be, but when your Church is growing, being a blessing to the community, and very obviously being blessed beyond measure....it is beyond my comprehension why the Pastor decides we aren't teaching truth, and proceeds to slowly change the doctrine of the Church. And, the changes are being made unbeknownst to the majority of the members. This change has happened over a period of around 5 yrs., maybe more, but that is the when some of the former members remember outward changes started to happen, and the first of many began leaving. And, we were not an entertainment center. We never had a youth group or contemporary music. We were not going that direction. We were just a bible believing SB Church....nothing fancy about us.

As Volfan has mentioned, some of these recently reformed Calvinist Churches seem happy that people are leaving. This is the way my former Pastor was. He continues to say: God is emptying out the Church for some reason. That sounds like he believes that is what pleases God, to see the church emptied out? Some of his own leaders have been unexpectedly transferred to another state by their jobs. That kind of un-nerved him, but he decided God was moving them so they could be "missionaries" from our church. I assume that means they are to try and change the doctrine of whatever Church they attend.

I share all of this because it seems some of the commenters here think Calvinism wasn't really what caused the problem at my former Church. But, it is. I was there. There are many others that can testify to what happened to our Church. There is only a handful of people left in this Church. At this point, I don't know how much longer they can survive. Maybe the Pastor is right, the Lord is emptying out the Church, but it may not be for the reasons he thinks.


My heart goes out to you also. I agree that the Pulpit committee, in many ways, is to blame for your Church's situation. But, I also have to wonder if this is the kind of Church young Calvinist Preachers are looking for, or being sent to. I'm not quite sure how all that works, but I'm starting to get an idea. It appears that is what happened to the small rural Church I mentioned in my first comment. Their new (Calvinist) Preacher is young also.

I will be praying for you, your family and your Church.


I agree, every copy of Harry Potter needs to be burned.

Thank you for your prayers for the troubled Churches. I'm glad you are in a wonderful non-Calvinist Church. I am also in a wonderful non-Calvinist Church now too.


You write beautifully, but I'm afraid I have trouble understanding exactly what it is you're really saying. This has been my problem with most Calvinists I've tried to dialogue with, although you seem much more cordial than others have been. I'm one who prefers a more straightforward approach. I like for a person to just say what they mean. Volfan comes to mind. :) He's a little rough around the edges I guess (I mean that in the nicest way), but when he says something you know exactly what he means.

God bless,



In my previous obtuse comments, I in no way meant to imply that those I disagreed with were simpletons. I do not think that at all, and please forgive the perceived insinuation. I really know next to nothing about your particular situation and have no reason to think you are being untruthful in your descriptions.

In my own experience over the last 20 or so years, I have found that Calvinism, or any of a host of other "isms," usually is/are not the root cause of division as much as a symptom of underlying, already developed disease. I know there are exceptions to this, and perhaps your own experience is one of them. Perry, I think, got it right in a previous comment when he said something like the problem is more often decades of unsound doctrine come home to roost on unsuspecting, ill-equipped fellowships.

I am sorry for the travail and the difficulty you are going through - it has been only a few years since I went through the same long, painful experience myself, and I sincerely sympathize. May God give you all more grace for the trial yet ahead.



Peter: You said, "Consequently, we are absolutely shut off from from the Resource of life--our God, if you please. Or another way of looking at it is that we've blown a fuse, short-circuited our system."

Ol' Bob has always preached that in "this" life we are not shut off from God. That we have no idea what it means to be totally separated from His presence because He has not separated Himself from us. Thus the reason we are able to hear His Spirit woo us, convict us, and impart to us the need to receive Jesus into our lives. Are you and I in agreement here? I think we are. Maybe I'm just muddled in my thinking.

Also, on another blog, believe it was Brad's, someone brought up the fact that the Lord does not hear sinners because of that one verse they quoted. That's kinda counter-productive to sharing the gospel, isn't it. We are all sinners. And if God doesn't hear us, what was the reason for the torn curtain? We no longer need someone else to go into the holy of holies. We can go ourselves, right? (On bended knee, with repentant heart, that is.)

I've had the flu. If this seems like jibberish, ignore me. selahV

Richard Coords

To Dave Kerr, re Total Depravity:

Arminians and Non-Calvinists do not deny the depravity of man, brought upon by The Fall. Neither do they also deny that God must intervene if man is to be saved. The difference in belief-systems is exactly "how" God intervenes.

Calvinism teaches that in order for the decision of "the elect" be made irresistible, as in Irresistible Grace, they need a "new" heart. (Ezekiel 36:26) So, according to Calvinism, its not merely about being given faith, or having your heart opened, but it is about getting a different heart, a heart of the "new creature." But you only get this heart "in Christ". (2Cor 5:17) Therefore, the Calvinist teaches that one must be made preemptively "in Christ" so that he may gain access to what the Father has bestowed in Christ, namely "new birth," regeneration," a "new heart," a "new spirit" as the "new creature." So Calvinism requires that "the elect" be made preemptively in Christ.

So what's the problem? The Bible teaches that one is not sealed in Christ until they believe in the Gospel, as per Ephesians 1:13: "In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation--having also *believed*, you were *sealed in Him* with the Holy Spirit of promise."

If one thinks that he became "in Christ" apart from believing in Christ, then he has circumvented Ephesians 1:13.

Calvinists often cite verses about being given faith, and having their heart opened, but that is not Calvinism, since it doesn't deal with the "new heart" that Calvinism requires. Faith received from the Gospel (Rom 10:17) can be rejected. (Luke 8:13) Having your heart opened, as per Acts 16:14, falls short of what Calvinism needs, which is NOT to have your heart "opened" but rather to be given a "new heart" altogether.

What is Prevenient Grace? It is when Jesus seeks (Luke 19:10), draws (John 12:32) and knocks (Rev 3:20), while the Holy Spirit convicts (John 16:8), pricks (Acts 26:14), pierces (Acts 2:37) and opens hearts to respond to the Gospel. (Acts 16:14) It is when God graciously reaches out to the lost. (Isaiah 65:2; Acts 7:51) God evangelizes the old, rotten heart, by convicting it. You do not receive the new heart until you submit to the Gospel by the faith that it produces. (Rom 10:17) Then, and only then, do you receive the new heart, and become Born Again, and become "one spirit" with God, similar to how a husband and wife become "one flesh" when they come together. (1Cor 6:16-17)


Richard: Various Calvinists have told me they believed I "have heart". What are they actually saying? Are they saying my heart is fertile? there's hope? Just wondering.
I like prevenient grace. It got me to the operating room where the Lord gave me a transplant. selahV



Thank you for your very gracious apology.

I visited your website and I have a couple of questions I would like to ask you.

I copied these two statements from the "Statement of Faith" on your webpage.

Sovereign Providence
God orders and directs His universe in every detail (1). Every event in nature and every human action and decision is according to His decree and purpose (2). In God's infinite wisdom and power, all things work together for the benefit of His people (3), and for His glory (4).

Question: If every human action and decision is made according to His decree and purpose, wouldn't this make us puppets/robots? I'm assuming you don't think we're puppets/robots, if you do, never mind this question or the next one.

Election and Responsibility
Before the foundation of the world, God elected a great multitude of men and women to eternal life (1) as an act of His free grace alone. This election was in no way dependent upon His foresight of human faith, decision, works, or merit (2). In the unsearchable realm of God's sovereign will (3), all men remain responsible beings, subject to God's commands to repent and believe, and accountable to God for their rebellion, impenitence, and rejection of Christ (4).

Question: Once again, if every human action and decision is made according to His decree and purpose, how can we be held accountable for that which He decreed and purposed us to do?

I would really appreciate it if you could help me understand what these statements mean.

God bless,


Good Morning AJR,

Hope you are well in the renewed mercy of the Lord this morning.

The questions you ask are the perennial favorites, for sure. Here is my answer to your questions. First, allow me to make one small correction to your quote without, hopefully, being thought petty for doing so. You insert the word "made" in your quote of the phrase, and I suppose you could supply that word if you like, but it may overly nuance the question in favor of the conundrum your question seems to assume, i.e., that God's sovereignty as we have stated it makes men choiceless, hapless robots, or worse, that somehow men don't really, genuinely choose. The statement simply means that everything that is, is because it ultimately accords with His will and purpose.

That men are will-less puppets, I think we are both agreed, is not the case. Men are neither choiceless nor hapless, but they are finite creatures who have been made with moral ability and culpability, all of which in turn has been thoroughly corrupted as a result of sin and its penalties. All penalties are directly instituted and enforced by the express will of man's Creator.

Man has never been autonomous, either pre or post fall. Man has always been dependent upon the Creator for every breath, every pump of the heart, for every choice presented to him and for the ability to make any given choice - or not. God created man with free - but not unlimited nor autonomous - moral agency. As a consequence of the fall, no man since possesses that same creaturely free moral agency, but instead is enslaved to sin and death.

Men, in typical creaturely fashion, make decisions and choices within the limits and abilities of their God-given but now fallen natures. "Known to God from eternity are all His works," and every decision and action of finite men unfolds and fulfills every aspect of His eternal work. Scripture is replete with statements that show God intimately, personally and particularly directing men's hearts, wills and bodies to His ends, as I read this morning, for example, in Daniel. And yet...

Even though men are now enslaved to sin and corruption, Scripture yet testifies to their unchanged guilt and judgment that such requires.

Now we run up against the wall of God. How indeed can we be held accountable for that which God has purposed from the beginning? First, we DO CHOOSE to sin - He does not make us. We want what we want, and we deserve to die for it, and we do die for it. We are still held accountable because we are choosing sin as an expression of our will and nature. BUT...

Paul answers the question from a profoundly different angle - what do you think? "One of you will say to me: 'Then why does God still blame us? For who resists his will?' But who are you, O man, to talk back to God? 'Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, 'Why did you make me like this?'" "

This is a variation on the common theme of man's culpability before God. If God's will is irresistible - that is, if God fulfills all of His purposes by His own sovereign choice, how can a man be held accountable for his own choices, since God always does His will? If God's will can trump man's will, men always cry foul - "it's not fair!" or "God is unjust!"

No, we are held accountable because we transgress willingly, and that alone is an act of moral treason worthy of death. The sovereign unfolding of God's purpose and decree is not compromised nor unjust simply because we judge it to be on the basis of our own sense of fairness or our own finite understanding of His will. God says we don't even have the right to raise such an objection - "Who are you, O man?"

This will probably not be a wholly satisfactory answer for you. Your questions are profound and have been argued from the first days of the church's history. Mine is an attempt to explain how we understand and answer the question.

Grace and peace,


Richard Coords


You would be held accountable on the grounds that you willingly participated.

The better question is how will *God* not be held guilty if He inspires men to commit sin?

For a series of quotes from John Calvin on this very question, see the following:


Richard Coords


James White comments: “I just also believe the undisputed and unrefuted fact that I come to Christ daily because the Father, on the sole basis of His mercy and grace, *gave me to the Son in eternity past*.” (Debating Calvinism, p.306)

Do you believe that from eternity past, God gave "Timotheos" to the Son, and if so, wouldn't that imply that He was the Father's to give, and if he was the Father's to give, wouldn't that entail that he eternally resided "in the Father"? And that is my question. Do certain people, other than Christ, reside in the Father from eternity past as an "elect people"?



Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions. I just have trouble understanding if "Every event in nature and "every human action and decision" is according to His decree and purpose", doesn't mean God is "making" us do His will for His purposes.

Thanks again, Timotheos, for answering my questions. I really do appreciate it.

God bless,



I agree: I would be held accountable on the grounds that I willingly participated. And I think your question is much better than the ones I asked. That is where I struggle with the statement: Every event in nature and every human action and decision is according to His decree and purpose. That makes it sound like God does make us sin, and I know He doesn't. Timotheos doesn't believe He does either, but his statement does seem contradictory to that. Hopefully he will continue to share with us.

Thank you for the links to your site. I will check them out.

God bless,

Debbie Kaufman

Peter: Read and explain the book of Romans.

The comments to this entry are closed.