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2007.06.21

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Tripp Spangler

I am wondering something. Since the problem some claim in the Convention is "the aggression of a small, but vocal group of militant Calvinists" who claim that "the Gospel IS Calvinism and Calvinism IS the Gospel"...would Charles Spurgeon now be declared a militant Baptist?

After-all, he said the following:
"It is a nickname to call it Calvinism; Calvinism is the gospel, and nothing else."

John Gallimore

Peter,

Having been a Baptistic Calvinist for most of my 68 years, I was interested in your comments. I use the word "calvinist" only in the context of your comments so that what I say fits.

My experience has been the exact opposite of yours. Brought up a fundamentalist Arminian, I struggled with trying to fit what I was seeing with what the Bible said, and what was being preached.

Living in isolated farming communities it was difficult to obtain good material for studying Scripture, so I had to rely on what Scripture said.

Our church called a pastor, whose preaching was making more sense for me than any I had ever heard. As I got to know him, and later minister with him, I began to realise he believed the Bible was saying what I believed it was saying.
Many years later I was to become a pastor, and asked to speak at a Theological College. After the sessions at which I spoke, some students asked me whom I had read to convince me of reformed theology.

I had to honestly answer, "No one! What I believe and preach came from the Scriptures alone. Thankfully that has been confirmed by men such as Dr. Martin Lloyd-Jones who was the first of such I had the joy to read."

Brother! isn't our God amazing?

volfan007

peter,

glory..halelujah....let me jump a pew! you have stated very well just what i have tried to say many, many times....but alas, i'm a poor hillbilly....poor in the english language and unable to articulate well what's going on in my mind. thank ye....thank ye.... thank ye.....

i guess the rest of yall can tell that i like what peter wrote. i'm so proud of my boy!

david

grosey

Like bro John I am another aussie "calvinist"... but I think that your post Peter, is MOST agreeable.
I think you hit the nail on the head (ohh nooo. I am sounding like J Green!!!)

As you said "Rather it is the aggression of a small, but vocal group of militant Calvinists that deny the NonCalvinist to draw from the Baptist well with the same bucket as he. "
I tend to say that some of my fellow calvinists are more committed to doctrine than to Christ who is revealed in the doctrine. I believe its a pride issue.. proud of theological knowledge, rather than delighting in Christ Himself. The pastor that affected John so deeply in his ministry came to Sydney where he found a "Calvinist" and mentored him into a christian! and that was me. I think that is the difference between CHS and some of his "followers". Clearly CHS was committed to Christ above all. The Word of God above human commentators and preachers.
Thank you Peter for a very loving and thoughtful appreciation of the problem.
I know some who can quote chapter and verse from the latest Banner of Truth magazine, but can't quote chapter or verse from their Bible's and that , as a calvinist, worries me intensely.
Steve

Mary

Peter, as always well stated. It's so hard to not slip into the anti sludge when there is so much condescension and so little respect. I get so tired of the caricutures and misrepresentations. No one seems to want to discuss scripture. Just toss around the straw men.

davidinflorida

Peter,

A great post, I believe from the heart. I`m with you on this, more than you know.

Tripp,

I love reading Spurgeon. I also respect his total love and desire to reach the lost. However, Spurgeon was a man and not God, vulnerable to error, just as any other man.

Tripp

davidinflorida,

I agree. And the author of this post regarding Calvinism, is also just a man and not God...vulnerable to error, just like any other man.

I will cast my lot with Charles Spurgeon on this issue, if you don't mind. :)

davidinflorida

Tripp,

I don`t mind. I also will not get irate, as I don`t care what you believe, be it Calvanism or Arminianism or something inbetween.

I think that was one of the points in this post. It doesn`t make a difference in the big picture, my brother.

Robin Foster

Peter

I can give your testimony for myself, only reverse. After going through books of the Bible did I come to my four point(ish) conclusions.

But I want to say that I agree with your post. I am not on a crusade to convert the SBC to Calvinism. There are two streams that flow into the SBC (calvinist and non-calvinist) and there is room for all of us. I don't feel threatened by anyone because of my beliefs. I know that is a scare tactic by some and I refuse to believe the hype.

I am friends with many who do not believe as I do and even though we haven't met and only conversed over the net, I consider you one too. Thank you for this post. It is timely to our situation.

SelahV

Peter: your heart is speaking with such enthusiasm for your love of Jesus in this post. I do hope folks can hear your heartbeat. selahV

peter lumpkins

Dear Tripp,

Thank you for stopping by. Also, thanks for reminding the readers here that I am not God. Sometimes I get beside myself and forget such.

And surely the community here deserved such a needed exhortation, for they are ever treating me as such a deity--all the while, not in the least, thinking I am not. Shame on them! But kudos to you, my good fellow.

As for Spurgeon, Tripp, you have quoted a rich jewel indeed. For I am not at all in doubt he displayed such spoken beauty. Being the colorful character he was, he ever remains a legendary attraction.

I have myself another diamond as shiney. It sparkles as much to be sure. Yet my Calvinist brothers apparently have not appreciated its luster.

The eminent Spurgeon says:

"I believe, most firmly, in the doctrines commonly called Calvinistic, and I hold them to be very fraught with comfort to God's people; but if any man shall say that the preaching of these is the whole of the preaching of the gospel, I am at issue with him.

"Brethren, you may preach those doctrines as long as you like, and yet fail to preach the gospel;

"and I will go further, and affirm that some who have even denied those truths, to our great grief, have nevertheless been gospel preachers for all that, and God has saved souls by their ministry. . ."

Was the mighty Spurgeon a Calvinist indeed? Only a bat--perhaps a mole--would possess much doubt. But was the mighty Spurgeon a militant Calvinist as described in this post?

This is my answer, accept it or not: No. Spurgeon would have nothing to do with today's tiny, vocal squadron of high-flying Calvinist militants who drop dirty bombs wherever they go, leaving little but rubble and destruction behind.

Personally, my Brother Tripp, I wish for you the best whether or not you wear this jewel as well.

Grace. With that, I am...

Peter

peter lumpkins

John,

My brother, thank you for the story you share. And it is precisely as our Lord is found in Scripture--doing those things which may offend our naked reason but being the God He is.

Praise to Him with you. With that, I am...

Peter

Malcolm Yarnell

Peter,

The best part of your post was the way you emphasized a continual imbibing and proclamation of the Word of God. The Word of God is living and powerful and eternal, and we do well to refresh ourselves from it constantly. I appreciate your heart and your mind, my brother in Christ.

Malcolm

peter lumpkins

David,

I am surely glad the post rings well with you. I firmly believe Calvinists and nonCalvinists can dwell together in unity if neither makes the tragic mistake of believing he/she owns the true gospel and the other owns a cheap substitute.

DavidinFlorida,

I appreciate your spirit and your openness to embrace those who differ from you. While the Baptist "tent" is not big enough for every Evangelical of every stripe--a mistake I personally believe our brother Wade Burleson makes--it is surely big enough for the two main tributaries to the SB river: Calvinists & nonCalvinists.

Grace. With that, i am...

Peter

Tripp Spangler

Peter,

Thanks for your response. The quote you gave from Spurgeon is also another great quote from him, and he is correct in what he is saying.

However, Spurgeon still said that Calvinism is nothing but the Gospel. Many Calvinist say this today...and when they do, there are very quickly labeled "militants" and "extreme". However, they are saying nothing different from Spurgeon (as well as MANY other Baptists and Southern Baptists throughout history).

Spurgeon never endorsed Arminianism, and indeed, fairly often, preached against it from his pulpit. What would be said today of a Southern Baptist who preached against Arminianism, calling it a false teaching and damaging to the true Gospel? We know what would happen; he would be labeled "militant" and "extreme".

To say that you can be a Calvinist and never preach the "WHOLE" Gospel and to say that a preacher who may have Arminian leanings can still be used by God are opinions that almost all the Calvinists I know would easily agree with. That still doesn't change the fact that we also agree with Spurgeon that Calvinism is simply the Gospel.

And Peter...if Spurgeon was alive today, there is no doubt in my mind who he would have the most in common with regarding this issue. You would find Spurgeon at home among those at Founders...because it is Founders who harkin back to those men that Spurgeon read and agreed with.

Spurgeon would not be an "Arminian sympathizer" today, because he was never one during his God-honoring ministry.

peter lumpkins

Steve,

One of the blessings I've had of late is finding your footprints within my websphere. Your spirit provokes in me a sense of hope.

My Brothers & Sisters: Our Lord offers us Steve as token of absolute living proof that Militant Calvinists are anything but universal. One may know what one believes, possess deep conviction about his Calvinism without scorching everyone within an arm's reach.

Lord, bless our Aussie. With that, I am...

Peter

peter

Dear Tripp,

Thanks. And, of course, you may believe as you so wish.

Know, however, you bring up an entirely different theme when you bring up Arminianism. I am not an Arminian.

So, given your point, I feel no wrath from our Spurgeon. I count him a friend, not an enemy.

Grace, Tripp. With that, I am...

Peter

Tripp Spangler

Peter,

I didn't mean to imply that your were an Arminian or even had leanings towards that theological view point. If I did, I am sorry. However, many of those who are engaged in a witch-hunt against Calvinist in our Convention are and that is who I was speaking of.

Thanks for your thoughts though...and remember, someone can become a "militant" Anti-Calvinist just as easily as one can become a "militant" Calvinist. :)

peter lumpkins

Robin,

I feel the warmth of your faith and your deep conviction. Thank you for sharing some of your journey here.

SelahV,

My SelahV. It is my hope always. Too much I fear failure creeps upon on me. Ah, but we have an Advocate, do we not?

Faith to you both. With that, I am...

Peter

peter lumpkins

Tripp My Brother,

That is perfectly alright. And I could not agree more with you: militancy breeds regardless of position. Perhaps a seed for resolution.

Mercy for us both, Tripp. With that, I am...

Peter

peter lumpkins

Mary,

Sometimes it is hard. And the blog world can be relentlessly unforgiving.

I am enriched by our chats here, Mary, and I feel we always make a step or two toward greater understanding.

Faith. With that, I am...

Peter

Tripp Spangler

Peter and Others,

One last thing. Please don't take my comments to imply that I oppose cooperation with non-Calvinists in the Convention. Far from it.

I have more in common with men like Dr. Patterson than I do with someone like Wade Burleson (who is a Calvinist). While I and Dr. Patterson may not agree on some theological points...I greatly admire him and have no problem standing beside him in the Convention.

Just wanted to make that clear.

Grace and Peace
Tripp

peter lumpkins

Dr. Yarnell,

I am humbled by your words and it surely is where my heart is. In fact, I think captivity to the Word is deeply embedded in the hearts of Southern Baptists at large--so deeply indeed, we remain hopelessly addicted to adhering to its form.

Grace, Professor Yarnell. With that, I am...

Peter

Michael Westmoreland-White

Peter, your post has much with which I resonate and much I must repudiate. The narrow list of persons whom the Founders consider part of Reformed Christianity is an incredible narrowing of a large tradition--the Founders group wants to count only Reformed SCHOLASTICS as Reformed Christians. So, it leaves out Zwingli, Bullinger, Barth, Berkouwer, and most British Baptist life since Spurgeon. It narrows Calvin himself to the 5 points of the Synod of Dordt--almost 100 years after Calvin died.
2) Your statement that anti-Calvinism is anti-Baptist because Baptists have always and everywhere been Calvinists is false to the historical record, ESPECIALLY if one narrows "Calvinism" to the 5 points. The first Baptists, later called General Baptists, were Arminians. They existed for 2 generations before Calvinist (Particular) Baptists arose on the scene. And even the Particular Baptists, though much more Calvinistic than the General Baptists, were also influenced by Dutch Anabaptists, especially through Menno Simons' Foundation of Christian Doctrine which is quoted extensively in the First and Second London Confessions of Faith. Later, Free Will Baptists arose in America to revitalize General Baptists and the New Connexion General Baptists did the same in Britain. Many of the Free Will Baptists merged with the Northern (now American) Baptists around 1907-1911, blending Reformed and Arminian strands. The New Connexion General Baptists merged with the (Particular) Baptist Union of Great Britain about the same time--to the furor of Charles Spurgeon.
Also, Baptists in both America and Britain had to modify strict Calvinism in the 18th C. in order to become missionary. The Founders brand of Calvinism is a theology ill-suited to missions and ill-suited to social justice--it's view of God's sovereignty promotes the status quo. That's why Calvinistic Baptists like Boyce & Manley, Richard Furman, Jesse Mercer, and, to a lesser extent, Dagg, could support slavery and saw abolitionists as resisting the eternal decrees of God. (Theology and ethics are related.)
European Baptists, who mostly date from the 19th C., have usually been "broadly" Reformed, but almost never strictly so. They have, since the early days of J. G. Oncken, been mostly Pietist in orientation.
Statements such as you have made about Baptist life "always and everywhere" being Calvinist are widely believed in the SBC--but simply not true--not even in the SBC itself.
Still, your distinction between non-Calvinism and anti-Calvinism is important. Reactions tend to overcompensate.
The LARGEST STREAMS of Baptist life have tended to be BROADLY REFORMED, but also containing other influences including Anabaptism, Pietism, revivalism, and pragmatism.

Tripp Spangler

Peter,

See, our brother Michael does something that I do not believe is needed and is just as wrong as a Calvinist refusing to cooperate with a non-Calvinist. He said:

"The Founders brand of Calvinism is a theology ill-suited to missions and ill-suited to social justice"

This is completely untrue. I am a proud supporter of Founders and endorse "their brand of Calvinism". However, I have a passion for missions and evangelism as well as social justice.

John Gallimore

Peter,

I hope what I wrote didn't give the impression that I am an agressive Calvinist. I'm not! I prefer to be known as a follower of Christ.

My intention was to simply point out my convictions, like yours, were not something that was learned by means other than Scripture.

I am privileged to be called "brother", by people of different theological persuasions, and recognise them as brethren, because of our common heritage in Christ.

I am not of Paul,nor of Apollos,neither Calvin nor Arminius but of Christ.

peter lumpkins

Dear John,

Your clarification is well noted. Yet, while I cannot speak for others, my Brother, I did not at all take your comment as either aggressive or militant.

Rather I received it as a testimony toward our God's direction within the Scripture itself apart from human oracles. It is a good and gracious word.

With that, I am...

Peter

peter lumpkins

Michael,

Good morning, my Brother. Repudiate me? How dare you! Do you not realize our Tripp has unveiled me as the deity I am? :^)

I must concede your ground, Michael, that my statement you correct lacks a rigid historical crust, if it is that for which you search--especially so, if he is thinking about Baptist origins.

In my own mind, however, I was not thinking so much of how we Baptists came to be or when.

For me, it was more of a rhetorical point to note the broadly accepted theological tributaries--the twins of which, concerning this post, were Calvinism and NonCalvinism--that largely merged into the SBC in 1845, and have managed to relatively live together in the same structure, most notably since 1925.

Admittedly also is your concern that Calvinism--even among the Baptist movement--stands much broader in scope than most of we Southern Baptists usually care to speak.

You bring up an interesting point, Michael, I think stems from your own context of the larger, global Baptist community which you comfortably embrace.

Pardon me in love if I, an average Southern Baptist of the South, only put one toe at a time in your global ocean. Sometimes, the water is just so darn chilly! I'm trying.

Grace, Michael. You ever offer us a challenging thought.

With that, I am...

Peter

peter

Dear Tripp,

I trust your morning is going well, Brother. As to whether the points Dr. Westmoreland-White offered this conversation "is needed and is just as wrong as a Calvinist refusing to cooperate with a non-Calvinist." I must say, Tripp, I cannot agree. What is it in his post that is wrong or un-needed? Just because he offers what he believes to be flaws in Founders' perception of Calvinism does not make his contribution any less meaningful, any more than either his criticisms toward my view or your criticisms toward my view. Whatever happened to the old iron sharpening iron line?

Indeed, my brother Tripp, I encourage you to challenge his ideas rather than chide their presence. But beware, I give you fair warning. Michael's, shall we say, a bit of a big chew. And I assure you, Tripp, in my own experience in chatting with him, I have sometimes choked more than chewed :^)

One final word: though I do not embrace the label 'Arminian', neither do I count it as the heresy some of our Calvinist kin do. The theology spawned by James Arminius--who, by the way, was a very good pre-Dortian Calvinist--is no less misunderstood by most SBC Calvinists with whom I am acquainted than Calvinists themselves insist others misunderstand them.

Nor, Tripp, are there any self-identified Arminians I know in the SBC. Do you know some?

I hope our Lord blesses your day. With that, I am...

Peter

Keith Schooley

Fantastic post, Peter. While I never went through a Reformed "period," my experience is similar. I was taught Reformed soteriology in seminary, but it always appeared to me to be a logical position syllogistically built on a handful of proof-passages. But I could never reconcile the God who deliberately chose only a small remnant out of humanity to save, deliberately leaving the rest to glorify Him by their just punishment, with the God who pleads with Jonah to have compassion on a city of pagans "who do not know their right hand from their left," and who tells Ezekiel that he does not take pleasure in the death of the wicked, but wants the wicked to turn and live, and with a Jesus who laments over Jerusalem that he would have gathered Jerusalem together as a hen gathers her chicks, "but you would not."

volfan007

keith,

very, very true.

david

OKpreacher

Peter,

You talked about one of my heroes of the faith in this article, Dr. Stephen Olford. He taught me so much about preaching and the Spirit filled life. I miss him, but thankful that David, his son, is carring on with training ministers on how to preach God's Word in God's power.

SelahV

Michael: when you wrote "The Founders brand of Calvinism is a theology ill-suited to missions and ill-suited to social justice--it's view of God's sovereignty promotes the status quo.", I wonder what you mean by the latter part of the phrase: "its view of God's sovereignty promotes the status quo."

I'm tying knots and bows on God's sovereignty these days, and cannot swallow that God's sovereignty does anything but promote His own Sovereignty and purpose for which Jesus came to earth: To save sinners and fulfill His law. (that is only an h'orderve of thought by the way, not the whole meal) I'm just trying to be brief without losing the whole of what God's sovereignty encompasses. Is this your take, too? thanks, brother. (Especially for your synopsis on the historical connections.) I've copied, pasted and saved those. selahV

SelahV

Keith, that is the crux for me on views regarding God's elect and predestination. From what I read in God's word, it appears consistent with all else in the Bible and God's Sovereignty. God is so much bigger than man's view of Him in my way of thinking. I cannot comprehend that any form of doctrine is a completepicture of the Most High El Elyon. selahV

Scott

Hello Peter,

Even I as a long time Calvinist enjoyed your post. Please allow me to make a few personal observations:

1. It appears to me that most of the "militant" Calvinism we encounter comes from immature Christians. Their soteriology has become a hobby horse and the focal point of their faith.

2. It has been said that there is no one as self righteous as someone who just quit smoking cigarettes. The same could be said for a new convert to Calvinism.

3. This is an important issue. Stray too far to one side and you become fatalistic or a hyper-calvinist (in the historical sense such as when Spurgeon was criticized for preaching repentance to the unsaved). Human responsibility gets discarded. On the other side, if you stray too far you deny God's sovereignty. His sovereignty and our responsibility are an antinomy. Both are clearly taught in Scripture.

4. How do you (or anyone else for that matter) want your ministry defined? Let me use an example. Say you were convinced that Scripture teaches a total abstinence view of alcoholic beverages (this is an imperfect example). Do you want to have your ministry defined solely by this issue? Unfortunately that is what happens when this topic becomes the focal point of SS classes, messages, blogs, etc. Instead, Jesus should be the focal point. He is the issue. In my view, some Calvinists, especially the younger, newly minted variety make this mistake. So do those who make it their mission to refute them.

Joe Stewart

I resemble your remarks as well.

Michael Westmoreland-White

Peter, I said there were some of your remarks I wanted to repudiate, not you, yourself. Tripp, I don't doubt that you or some other Founders (I know Timothy George from his SBTS days) are concerned for missions and social justice. I still think that is a poor fit with the TYPE of Calvinism promoted by Boyce and Manley (from Hodge)--unlike the milder Calvinism of an Andrew Fuller, say. The kind of Calvinism that reasons from God's sovereignty to a general support for status quo institutions is suspicious of social change and tends to be almost callous about social injustice. Max Stackhouse (a Calvinist Congregationalist) calls this "imperial Calvinism" and contrasts it with the "Free Church/Human Rights Calvinism" that was so much a part of Roger Williams and others. Both find genuine roots in Calvin himself.

Selah, I hope that this also speaks to your question. When God's sovereignty is thought of WITHOUT a focus on Christ, with no place for human initiative, it leads to views like "things are this way because God wills them so." Remember the Calvinist Baptist minister's reaction to William Carey's desire to be a missionary? "Sit down, young man. You are too enthusiastic. If God wants to save the heathen, He can do so with no help from the likes of you or me." Andrew Fuller, Carey's friend and a Calvinist, had to write the tract, "The Gospel Worthy of All Acceptation" and Carey had to write on "The Necessity to Use Means in Publishing the Gospel," to "prove" that it was a Christian duty to preach the gospel to the lost!!!

When we remember that God's Sovereignty is tied up with God's purposes of grace, that God limits God's self to make room for human freedom, that God's sovereign election is in and through the ELECT ONE, Jesus Christ, then we are able to have a theology that supports mission and human rights, evangelism and peacemaking.

Baptists have done this most successfully when we have remembered to be both Puritan AND Anabaptist, that is to say, when we have been thoroughly Christocentric.

Tim Cook

Peter,
I am in the midst of a theological transition myself...I had thought myself very nearly a Wesleyan/Arminian (slightly modified...I am a Baptist!), but recently accepted the challenge of an internship with an Acts 29 network church plant. As you may know, they are a Reformed group. I began to study reformed theology simply to get to know more about the group I was about to partner with, and I find some of the arguments compelling. I am searching out what I believe about God's grace in salvation with scripture and good teaching; I am staying away from making any solid assertions about what I think right now. I say all that to say this: I think that some of the "militant" attitude is born out of a fear of rejection, especially in young pastors. I know that I have been self-conscious about my beliefs on the subject of salvation out of fear that I will not be accepted as a minister where I feel called. Mind you, I am willing to work with Calvinist and Noncalvinist alike to do God's work - I just worry that I will be rejected if I don't choose one "side" or the other, and choose it strongly. We have developed a culture where you can be Non- or Anti- Calvinist, OR you can be very Calvinist, but neither "side" puts up with someone who just doesn't know what they think yet for very long. For me, looking into a new ministry is a lot like asking a girl out for the first time - the fear of rejection is ever-present. Many young and all-too-enthusiastic Calvinists probably feel the same way, at least subconsciously, and worried they will be rejected by their Reformed heroes if they aren't "militant" enough.
Just my two cents - great post by the way. I love the new look.

In Christ,
Tim Cook

PS to his credit, my church planter/pastor showed a lot of grace and understanding when I said I was afraid of being rejected if I wasn't reformed enough - definitely not a "militant".

peter lumpkins

Tim,

What a gut-level honest answer, Tim. You have offered us a profound peek into part of the difficulty facing young theologians and Pastors today. More insightful is the tendency many of us who are older must evidently possess in demanding our young leaders to pick up our swords and fight our battles our ways. Telling...

I'm glad you are thinking through these important issues, Tim. It also seems praiseworthy to me our Lord has you under the wings of a graceful Pastor who desries to help you and love you through this time. As you make your turns and twists along the road, may I encourage you to be no more than an arm's length away from the Word at any one time.

Pesce. With that, I am...

Peter

Tripp Spangler

It is interesting to read this thread. Especially those comments directed at the theology of Calvinists. I must say that some of the comments that have been made really show a misunderstanding of the doctrines of grace and how they apply to evangelism and social justice.

There are so many of these misunderstandings, it is really impossible to respond to them all. Suffice to say, that I am a five-point Calvinist who greatly enjoys reading men like Boyce, Manly, etc. However, I see nothing in their writings or any other five-point Calvinist's writings that indicates an anti-mission zeal. Now, when I read those who are HYPER-Calvinists, there is where I find the foundations for a theology that would be anti-missions. However, neither Boyce or Manly or anyone currently engaged at Founders is or was a HYPER-Calvinists. Indeed, hyper-calvinism is just as much a danger to the Gospel as is five-point Arminianism. (The minister that Michael mentions responding to Carey's desire to be a missionary was a HYPER-Calvinist. He was not a Calvinist, yet that is what Michael calls him. I would advise Michael to seperate the two theological systems.)

When I read Romans, I am just humbled by the "Calvinistic" thought that the Apostle Paul shows forth. However, I don't believe Paul was anti-missions. Charles Spurgeon was a five point Calvinist; however, can anyone claim that Spurgeon was against evangelism and missions?

My point is simply this: I would encourage those on this thread to understand the difference between hyper-Calvinism and Calvinism itself. To blend these two theological systems together is not only wrong, but usually the folly of those who are anti-Calvinist.

Tripp Spangler

Keith said:

"But I could never reconcile the God who deliberately chose only a small remnant out of humanity to save, deliberately leaving the rest to glorify Him by their just punishment, with the God who pleads with Jonah to have compassion on a city of pagans "who do not know their right hand from their left," and who tells Ezekiel that he does not take pleasure in the death of the wicked, but wants the wicked to turn and live, and with a Jesus who laments over Jerusalem that he would have gathered Jerusalem together as a hen gathers her chicks, "but you would not."

Keith, I would like to respond to this:

1) When God chose the nation of Israel to be "His people", did this show forth an unjust God? When God chose Jacob over Esau, did this show Him to be unjust God? Have you read Romans 9? Throughout the Bible, we see God choosing individuals to use for His purposes, while passing others by. Throughout the Old Testament, we see a God completely committed to "His people", the Israelites, How do you explain the destruction of the Amalekites (descendants of Esau)? God was clearly siding with one nation of people over another. All of these actions serve as TYPES. Throughout the revealed word of God, we see God choosing one group over another to accomplish His will.

2) God has compassion for all people, but that doesn't mean that all will be saved. Do you believe all we be saved? I believe the clear answer to that is no. Does that mean that God doesn't have compassion on all people? Of course not. What you seem to confuse here Keith are the two wills of God. Scripture testifies that God has a preceptive will and a decretive will. His preceptive will is what God says should happen. Therefore, when we read a passage like I Timothy 2:4, in which we are told God wishes for all men to be saved...we understand this to be his preceptive will. It is what God says should happen. Of course, we know that not all will be saved and therefore, we know this is not God's decretive will. God's decretive will is what God actualy decrees to take place. God has not decreed that all will be saved, and Scripture makes that clear.

Therefore, we are to have compassion on all people, and preach the Gospel to all people. We do not know who the elect of God is, only God does. However, God has a general love for all people and we are to have the same.

Hope this helps.

Tripp Spangler

Peter,

You asked:

"Nor, Tripp, are there any self-identified Arminians I know in the SBC. Do you know some?"

Complete five point Arminians? No. Most of what you see in the SBC are four-point Arminians...with some three pointers here and there. As you know, most all Southern Baptists believe in perseverance of the saints. Therefore, we hardly see any full blown Arminians in our Convention.

I like to call them "inconsistent Arminians". :)

Michael Westmoreland-White

There are different definitions of Hyper-Calvinism. That minister was John Ryland, Sr.--one of the most respected Calvinist Baptists ministers in England at the time. His son, John Ryland, Jr., became one of the major supporters of Fuller, Carey and the formation of the Baptist Missionary Society. They NEVER referred to Ryland, Sr. as a hyper-Calvinist.

Usually John Gill is classed as the leading theologian of Baptist Hyper-Calvinism. But I have seen articles by Timothy George and Tom Nettles (both prominent Founders) defending Gill's theology. So, it is not so easy for a non-Calvinist to distinguish who is and who is not a Hyper Calvinist.

The Founders group usually try to get Boyce & Manley off the hook and point to their support of revivals and missions. In this way they can say that their opposition to social justice (support of slavery, defense of the civil war, support of wealth and opposition to the post-Civil War rise of unions, antagonism to women getting the right to vote, etc.) were unconnected to their theology. I don't buy it. Theology and ethics are inseparable and bad ethics shows bad theology somewhere. Boyce may not have been a hyper-Calvinist, but he was certainly an imperial Calvinist.

BTW, one of the things that most waters me off in these kinds of discussions is when 5-point Scholastic Calvinists not only claim to be the ONLY defenders of the (much broader) Reformed tradition, but also label their system, "the doctrines of grace." This label skews the debate by making it seem like Jacob Arminius or John Wesley or Dale Moody or Roger Olsen, etc. denies salvation by grace! Arminians, semi-Arminians, and other non-Calvinists (Fisher Humphries, E. Y. Mullins,his British counterpart H. Wheeler Robinson, etc.) do not have works salvation theology! Calling 5-point Calvinism "the doctrines of grace," (when they look very un-grace-filled to non-Calvinists!) makes it appear as if the debate is between those defending salvation by grace and those opposed to the same. The actual debate is between different DEFINITIONS of grace, different understandings of how God works in the world to accomplish God's purposes of grace, different relationships between grace and human freedom, etc.
Those are important debates--but nothing is served by the deceptive move of making the debates seem to be about grace vs. works with the nasty tactic of reserving the term "doctrines of grace" for 5-point Calvinists. I can't see Calvin himself resorting such an underhanded trick. More importantly, the trick is unworthy of any who would follow Jesus Christ.

peter

Tripp,

I am glad you find this thread interesting, Brother. What is more interesting to me, however, is your perception of this thread. I see here some very good dialog, some pointed questions, some concerns, some heart, some challenging remarks and a few pokes. Humorously, the pokes continue to come from you, Tripp.

To suggest that the distinction between Calvinism and HyperCalvinism is being missed somehow is incredible. Nor can you get Calvinists off the anti-missions hook by simply defering to hyperCalvinists. Indeed most of what is on this thread is about militant Calvinists, which is the subject of this post.

Nor again, Tripp is it proper, at least in my understanding, to speak of HyperCalvinism and Calvinism as "two theological systems." While surely the two must be distinguished, they cannot be separated: All those who embrace HyperCalvinism are Calvinists but not all those who are Calvinists embrace HyperCalvinism.

Finally, Tripp, I'm curious why you easily miss the questions. I claimed "Nor, Tripp, are there any self-identified Arminians I know in the SBC." then asked: "Do you know some?" Yet you responded, thus:

"Most of what you see in the SBC are four-point Arminians...with some three pointers here and there. As you know, most all Southern Baptists believe in perseverance of the saints. Therefore, we hardly see any full blown Arminians in our Convention. I like to call them "inconsistent Arminians"."

First, Tripp, I asked if you knew of any *self-identified Arminians*." You answered with your own description of them as Arminians. I ask again: Who, in the SBC, claims they are either "Arminian", "full blown Arminian" or "inconsistent Arminian"? Who?

Second, you seem to be equating "full blown Arminian" with those who deny perseverance of the saints. Am I correct? If so, your misunderstanding of Arminianism is as bad or worse as you accuse the commenters here of misunderstanding Calvinism.

Not even James Arminius denied perseverance of the saints, but always taught it. For me, this, at raw minimum, demonstrates "falling from grace" is not intrinsic to Arminianism. As I said earlier, Arminius was a very good disciple of Calvin. He was not much of a fan of Beza.

I suggest you read the interview I did with Professor Roger Olson-an ACTUAL SELF-IDENTIFIED ARMINIAN--which is a helpful treatise of the history and thought of Evangelical Arminianism.

Finally, Tripp, I appreciate the light-heartedness at the end of your post: 'I like to call them "inconsistent Arminians". :)' Super. That's funny.

Though, now suppose a NonCalvinist would say: "I like to call Calvinists 'inconsistent HyperCalvinists' :)"? Would that give you the warm fuzzies? Personally, I think not. But what do I know?

Grace always, Tripp. I hope for you a great weekend and a extra-powerful Lord's Day. With that, I am...

Peter


Michael Westmoreland-White

Peter, you write: "You bring up an interesting point, Michael, I think stems from your own context of the larger, global Baptist community which you comfortably embrace.

Pardon me in love if I, an average Southern Baptist of the South, only put one toe at a time in your global ocean. Sometimes, the water is just so darn chilly! I'm trying."

I don't understand. Are you saying that you or "the average Southern Baptist" are/is afraid of interacting with Baptists from around the globe? Why is the water chilly or uninviting? Is this parochialism the real reason behind the SBC's withdrawal from the Baptist World Alliance it helped to found? (What a different time. When Southern Baptists were EAGER to meet and fellowship with Northern (now American) Baptists, British Baptists, European Baptists, etc. A time when E.Y. Mullins could be president of SBTS, the SBC, and the BWA all in the same year. When SBC leaders regularly corresponded with Baptist leaders all over the world--and not just the leaders of missions where the SBC had the upper hand in money and authority, either.)
Despite its size, it seems to me that today's Southern Baptists are very inward looking and afraid of the wider world. They are happy to have more African-American churches affiliate with the SBC--until a Black Baptist leader like Dwight McKissick presumes to add something valuable to the tradition, not just receive from those who say take or leave our tradition just as it is--and by the way, don't confuse us with what the Bible says--we've already decided what it MUST say.
Its a globalized world. A small world. We have to embrace a larger understanding of what it means to be Baptist: There are more Baptists today in Brazil than in all of New England. There are more Baptists in Nigeria than in Britain where we began. The largest concentration of Baptists in the world is not in Texas, but in Nagaland, a state of India (one that wants to be a separate nation)--a state where 90% of the population is Christian and 80% of the Christians are Baptist!
Baptists in the Ukraine have bishops. Baptists in Japan are far more open to women ministers--though in other respects very conservative. Baptists in much of Africa are at least semi-Charismatic--as in much of Europe. Baptists in South Africa have been scarred by racism much like in the U.S., but Baptists in Liberia have been in the forefront of movements for racial/ethnic reconciliation.
To try to define "Baptist" as those who began in 1845, live below the Mason-Dixon line, worship the Cooperative Program and the Lottie Moon Christmas offering (NOT to cast stones at Lottie Moon who is one of my heroines--the real Lottie Moon and not the tamed propaganda version), and who have thrown out the horrible "liberals," and now must fight over how many points of Calvinism one must believe in order to love Jesus and know Jesus loves you--that is the problem. If one is willing to learn from fellow Baptists around the world and across time, maybe there is a way out of the constant SBC feuds.
Come out in the water--it's fine. You won't drown. We Baptists are supposed to be deep water people--and leave toe-testing to the Presbyterians and Methodists.

peter lumpkins

Michael,

Have we not covered at least part of this before? Am I afraid to interact with Baptists around the world? Please, my Michael, what under heavens name does even a question like that mean?

And please; slow the buggy down a bit and quit beating that mare, Michael. I am perfectly aware of your feelings for the SBC. This post is not about whether or not we "kicked out the Liberals" or "withdrew from the BWA" or whether we're racist or whether or not you either agree with or like my personal focus on Baptists in the South. Michael! Michael! It's really o.k. Just assume I'm your narrow-minded SB friend. Remember: You embrace diversity. Well, then, accept *me* for who *I am*.

And I am emphatically *not* going to discuss Dwight McKissic with you. The last thing I remember about our exchange on that subject was your big head popping through my screen, blood-red eyes, mouth wide open, huge big fangs, snarling at me and knawing away at my keyboard. No thanks. I had about all the joy that could be squeezed out of that one, understand.

Get you a Coke and some pizza and watch a movie.
Grace, Brother. With that, I am...

Peter

grosey

:) wow Peter this thread has grown from a chord into a rope...
However.. just to back up something from your question with Tripp, (and wow did I agree with Scott's estimates) Here is Australia with the charismatic movement swallowing up the Baptist churches nearly entirely, our denominational theology has polarised. those that accept the charismatic usurping of the denomination have become 5 point arminians, denying the security of the believer, pragmatically because there is now an 85% fall out rate from our charismatic style churches. Our college President firmly and unequivocally rejects the doctrine of the security of the believer.
Now, although I count myself a colleague of this man and a friend, I have real concerns for the reality of a salvation that can be lost in this way. My concern is that it does touch to the heart of the gospel in our understanding of the atonement.

I do believe that as far as paramenters are concerned.. the SBC MUST definitely stand by the nature of the gospel atonement, and consequently the secuirity of the believer in order to remain Baptist (and evangelical). I have a dear friend who was lecturer in theology at a Nazarene theological college ( He attended my preaching each week for 9 months whilst on furlough, poor guy). I noticed that without assurance and confidence based direcly and solely on the atoning work of the Saviour that other problems attended his personal walk with the Lord.
Likewise I know some dear Wesleyan friends who know the full assurance that Charles Wesley sang of when he wrote my favourite hymn "And Can It Be" who don't have those difficulties because they have a full assurance based on the atonement. :) I guess they are sounder than their theology!
Anyhow, Peter, just a take on your thoughts there with Tripp.
Steve

Mary

I just love when Keith and Michael drop in here! And I want to say I really appreciated Scott's post. There is some encouragement that perhaps not all Calvinist are so militant. Peter knows some of the situation that we find ourselves in right now with a militant Calvinist and it is so heartbreaking and discouraging. To Tim Cook, even though I've been studying Calvinism for several years now and am very comfortable with where I stand on my rejection of Calvinism I still strive daily to humbley approach my Bible study looking for God to teach me. I know that I am weak and it is very possible that I could be wrong. It's incrediabley frustrating to see comments around the net such as "The doctrine of election is right there in the Bible" or "Have you read Romans 9?" Yes I completely agree that the Doctrine of Election is in the Bible and I have not ripped the entire book of Romans out of my Bible so yes as a matter fact I have read Romans 9. I guess the point is that I can very much see exactly why people believe the 5 points as they do, yet the majority of the Calvinist I've seen on the internet pretend like we are just complete idiots who have ripped out entire sections of our Bibles to continue believing as we do. The other extremely frustrating thing I see written frequently is "I used to think just like you ( when everything they've written shows they have absolutely no idea what my belief is) and now I've embraced the beautiful Doctrines of Grace." Do people who say this really don't get that what they're saying is "I used to be stupid like you but now I'm really koooool!" So I was saying something to Tim before rambling on here - Tim, just keep reading and loving the word of God and He will make it clear to you. I think God made things maybe not so clear so we would always keep studying. So many people get stuck in their doctrine and instead of testing it always they just read to prove themselves right. I don't think that's what God expects of us. Also I think things maybe aren't so clear so can learn to love those who hold different views. Not an easy thing at all. Have a wonderful weekend all.

Michael Westmoreland-White

Sorry, Peter. That was somewhat all over the map. I just wondered why your comment that all you could do was stick a toe in the waters of global Baptists. It seemed an odd comment.

Tim Guthrie

Great post. I can read your heart in the words written. You have captured the true essence of this debate and brought much practical common sense from the Word of God to the forefront that has been missing in much of the discussion. May God bless you as you seek Him!

TG

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