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Does anyone else get the feeling that both Mohler and Ascol feel they have to press the semi Pelgaian charge? My guess is that this has been presented so much as the real argument against traditionalists for so many years, they have to make it stick or lose face. EVen though you and others have made very good cases for historical misunderstandings of the charge. Even showing how certain scholars they used as proof were not quoted in entirity. Something I have found coming out of SBTS on other issues and it bothered me greatly.

One of the most interesting results of this entire debate are the YRR in comments questioning the BFM. You can hear the doubt in their comments even if they do not come out and say it. Me thinks a can of worms have been opened that might prove uncomfortable for the SBC Calvinist leadership.

Another interesting aspect of this whole debate are many non SBC Calvinists coming over to debate. Nothing wrong with that at all. Just quite interesting. They are most likely T4G or GC followers and see "Calvin" as their responsiblity to defend. But they sure think we are ignorant peasants and are not shy about saying it. I wish I could find the talk Driscoll gave speaking of how backward the SBC was. He was spewing venom as usual. And we wonder why the influence?

Chris Gilliam

As usual your keen insight into nuance is proving to be helpful in articulating the points. Humorously, the nit-pikers perhaps disdain your nit-picking, but it will turn out to make a fine piece of fabric. Kudos on this point.

Les Prouty

FYI, Tom Ascol has a free download of a book format of all his posts, including some remarks by Tom Nettles.


I don't think Timmy Brister was listening to the speakers about arrogance and pride in the NC camp. Here is one of his arrogant tweets:

@timmybrister 85% of the 61% who are concerned about the 31% of calvinists in sbc can't name 100% of the 5 points. #sbc12

BTW: I think Al Mohler should have been censored by the Trustees of SBTS for the comments in his response concerning his learned brothers not believing what they signed and suggesting they lean toward heresy. Allowing him to get by with such arrogance will only bring more and keep his YRR followers as arrogant and whiny as ever.

But my guess is that the trustees are yes men of his.


Lydia, the tweets coming from the YRR crew have been pretty bad all day.

Have you seen the new Lifeway Poll? Calvinists are intepreting the resuls as SBC is now half Calvinist half Arminian. Of course the Calvinists are ignoring the questions the poll asked which pretty much makes it worthless for determining anything about the SBC, but I imagine Stetzer's agenda has been met.


I don't have a dog in the SBC fight, but this is an excellent post for other reasons as well. The sequence of Salvation you post is how I have understood Salvation since I was raised in the Church of God (Cleveland, TN). As I recall, it is also how Arminius believed, although it's been quite awhile since I've read his works.

I hope you don't mind me quoting this post. I have a Baptistic Calvinist friend that could use a trip here. He normally doesn't do the innertubez much, but I hope he will break down and come when I send his wife the url.

David Benjamin Hewitt

Greetings, Dr. Lumpkins. It has been many months since I have commented on your site; I trust you are well and that God's blessings abound to you in His amazing grace.

I was going to note a few things, but will focus on just one -- the issue of monergism and synergism. I would agree that this is the main dividing issue between "Calvinists" and, well, everyone else, be they Arminian, semi-Pelagian, or "TS" as it were, and it matters not if one's synergism is that of Melanchthon or Arminius or anyone else. The issue remains the same.

You see, it is also important to define the term Monergism in the way that Calvinists define it if there is to be a discussion of it. The way you define monergism above is not how a Calvinist would define monergism:

"Monergism (the Holy Spirit alone effects the New Birth upon the believing responder)", emphasis mine. If I am understanding you correctly, you are suggesting that it is God alone effects the new birth upon someone who already has faith and is believing, similar to the position of Melanchthon above. The problem is, Calvinists would not affirm that definition of monergism, but would affirm the statements contained in the Formula of Concord about free will:

"[5]....the pure teachers of the Augsburg Confession have taught and contended that by the fall of our first parents man was so corrupted that in divine things pertaining to our conversion and the salvation of our souls he is by nature blind, that, when the Word of God is preached, he neither does nor can understand it, but regards it as foolishness; also, that he does not of himself draw nigh to God, but is and remains an enemy of God, until he is converted, becomes a believer [is endowed with faith], is regenerated and renewed, by the power of the Holy Ghost through the Word when preached and heard, out of pure grace, without any cooperation of his own.

6] In order to explain this controversy in a Christian manner, according to the guidance of God's Word, and by His grace to decide it, our doctrine, faith, and confession are as follows:

7] Namely, that in spiritual and divine things the intellect, heart, and will of the unregenerate man are utterly unable, by their own natural powers, to understand, believe, accept, think, will, begin, effect, do, work, or concur in working anything, but they are entirely dead to what is good, and corrupt, so that in man's nature since the Fall, before regeneration, there is not the least spark of spiritual power remaining, nor present, by which, of himself, he can prepare himself for God's grace, or accept the offered grace, nor be capable of it for and of himself, or apply or accommodate himself thereto, or by his own powers be able of himself, as of himself, to aid, do, work, or concur in working anything towards his conversion, either wholly, or half, or in any, even the least or most inconsiderable part; but that he is the servant [and slave] of sin, John 8:34, and a captive of the devil, by whom he is moved, Eph. 2:2; 2 Tim. 2:26. Hence the natural free will according to its perverted disposition and nature is strong and active only with respect to what is displeasing and contrary to God."

So then, when we say monergism, we mean something that God does to bring about the new birth that results in a believing responder, believing the Gospel he or she has heard. This would be a logical order rather than a temporal one, but it is still an order that must be affirmed if one would affirm what the formula of Concord says above (or any Reformed confession for that matter).

So no, the authors of the TS statement would not be monergistic according to a Calvinist, Baptist or otherwise.


peter lumpkins

Hi David,

Thanks for the response. First, you deny it matters if one's synergism is that of Melanchthon, Arminius, etc. which seems directly contrary to Muller's definition. If I must choose between your and a recognized Calvinistic authority's understanding, no offense, but I choose the latter. Second, just on the surface it most certainly does make a difference concerning one's understanding of "synergism"--for example, the difference between believing the Bible at certain junctures or not (cp. Jn 6:44). Third, the last time I checked, David, there is no official spokesperson for all Calvinists which your statements twice seem to suggest--"Calvinists would not...when we say, we mean..." Calvinists are not as monolithic as you seem to indicate.

Fourth, congratulations are in order. So far as I can tell, no Baptist Calvinist has ever--ever--appealed to a Lutheran Confession of Faith on this blog or others blogs I have read. Nor has any major figure in Baptist history appealed to Concord to get his theological marching orders on the new birth. While I obviously have not read exhaustively Baptist history, I have dipped into it perhaps more than the average Baptist. Nonetheless, if I am mistaken, please educate me.

Even so, I suppose next you will tell us Baptist Calvinists also believe in baptismal regeneration of infants which Concord also confesses, a baptism the necessity of which saves a baby from burning in hell. Congrats again! ;^)

Fifth, I do not accept the categories of "temporal" and "logical" you cite above and believe them to be false categories imposed upon the Word of God. Neither can be exegetically mined from the text of Scripture but must be read into the meaning of Scripture. These scholastic hermeneutical ploys are much of the reason we as Southern Baptists find ourselves in this debate today. So far as I am concerned, Calvinism is a systematic template overlayed on the straight-forward reading of God's Word.

Thanks for stopping by.

With that, I am...

David Benjamin Hewitt

Hello again, Dr. Lumpkins.

Obviously you believe that Calvinism is a systematic template overlayed on Scripture otherwise you would accept it I would suspect. :) Truth is, exegesis must lead one to any conclusion, which is why I affirm what Concord said at the point I cited. Surely you must know that I by no means affirm the whole of the Formula of Concord just because I agree with a certain portion of it. I merely brought it up because the quote you referenced mentioned it as being opposed to Melanchthon and also semi-pelagians. Both are synergists (or perhaps more properly, groups of synergists), and both therefore disagree with monergism. So, even though there are differences in various kinds of synergism, at the end of the day, all of them involve something more than the Spirit of God involved when it comes to bringing someone to spiritual life.

You mentioned John 6:44 -- this is as important as verses come when we are discussing man's ability to respond to the Gospel. An exegesis of this text (more properly, 6:35-45, perhaps as far as 65 or at least including it) would be tremendously helpful. What I am sure you have noticed when these kind of conversations go on is that there is often, in fact, nearly always, more light than heat. One person says, "I believe this, and you misrepresent me!" The person on the other side says, "No, you are mistaken, because what you believe is refuted by what I believe, and you are the one misrepresenting!" and on it goes. The only way to solve any of it is to do solid exegesis of a text that is disputed (such as John 6 above) and see which side is using consistent interpretation to arrive at one's conclusions. Let Scripture decide between us -- we are people of the Book, after all -- aren't we?

What do you say?


peter lumpkins


You said, "Calvinists would not affirm that definition of monergism, but would affirm the statements contained in the Formula of Concord about free will..." Now you're saying you "merely brought it up" because the quote I referenced mentioned it as being opposed to Melanchthon and also semi-pelagians. Yes, it was in Muller's definition. Now, care to cite where Baptist Calvinists employ the FC to define their understanding of the new birth and/or free will? That was the challenge, remember?

And, while I haven't the least reservation in affirming Jn.6:44 pertaining to ability, it says nothing about irresistibility which Calvinists like yourself demand it bear. There's nothing else to say, David. We just are not going to come to any kind of agreement on this issue. Baptists in the south have been divided on this since the early 1800's. I'm perfectly comfortable with you believing as you do. What I am not comfortable with and refuse to allow without push-back, is for your view--or even mine for that matter--to become the default view of the SBC. It ain't gonna happen--not without a fight it's not.

With that, I am...

David Benjamin Hewitt


There is no where that Baptist Calvinists cite the FC to support their position that I know of, including this thread. :) I mentioned it and said I agreed with it, not that it defined my position. My position is defined by Scripture. :)

I would indeed love an exchange on certain texts, especially John 6:44 and Romans 8:29-30. I don't doubt you would affirm that people cannot come to contradictory positions and both be right, and that Scripture's meaning is not many but one in a given passage. So, if two people come to different conclusions, one or both of them must be wrong of necessity, and the wrong one(s) are being inconsistent in how they are handling the text in some way.

Truly, the Word must define us. Just because there has been disagreement for a long time is nigh unto irrelevant -- if we cannot discuss the Word, then why bother having any kind of discussion at all?

If I may, I would like to bring John 6:44 to bear:

John 6:44 ESV No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.

Who is the "him"? What does the text say happens to this "him"? What then is this drawing that the Father does?


peter lumpkins


A) These are your words, David, not mine: "Calvinists... would affirm the statements contained in the Formula of Concord about free will". And, again, "when we say monergism, we mean...This would be a logical order... that must be affirmed if one would affirm what the formula of Concord says above (or any Reformed confession for that matter)". Now you're welcome to say you didn't mean what your words specifically imply. Fine. But do not suggest to me your words didn't imply the Concord confession defined not only your position, David, but Calvinists' (plural) position. They are clearly there for anyone to examine.

B) I am uninterested in a round and round about Jn. 6:44. I've read James White's arguments about it and I'm confident you'll have identical "points" to explore. Uninterested, David. I cannot state that any stronger. The exception would be when and if I post an exposition on the text. Then you are free to examine my conclusions all you wish.

Thanks. With that, I am...

David Benjamin Hewitt

Well, Dr. Lumpkins, all I can say is that you inferred something I never intended to imply. If you refuse to believe me, then well, I guess you will believe what you will.

Further, the lack of exegesis in general is what continues to make much of this conversation (not just ours, but the one in the SBC in general) fruitless. Unless that gets resolved, then we fail to make any progress at all.

I hope you do post an exegesis. It would be refreshing. I'll sit out until then.

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