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This is news worthy?

He should try out for the high hurdles. He's a jumper!


Don't be so jealous "this is news worthy!" Even Al Mohler thinks/knows that Dr. Allen is a great biblical/exegetical scholar. Just because it doesn't fit your twisted theological view doesn't mean he is wrong. Maybe you should have heard the cry that went out from the pulpit--"Exegesis must precede systematic theology!" Maybe you should spend your time searching the scriptures like the Berean's and make sure you take of your theological glasses first...just a suggestion brother!


If everyone involved in discussions of these issues had the attitude and aptitude of Dr. Allen, I don't think we'd have the contention over the issue we currently have in the SBC. People on both sides (and those in the middle) would do well to follow his example.



That would be nice. I think however that Baptist that proclaim to embrace Calvinism, Arminianism and those that are more neutral need to break it off.

They aren't equally yoked. Churches throughout the SBC are being bombarded with Doctrinal Strife and in many cases not understanding why.

My church was not a Calvinist church had a Preacher that wasn't a Calvinist.

Then when a recent Preacher moved on for medical reasons, a Stealth 5 Point Calvinist (still attending Andersonville Theological Seminary in home study, but not to the knowledge of the Congregation) who purposely didn't disclose his Doctrine practiced "Election Theology" immediately into his first month, stating that he didn't see enough recognizable suffering and persecution for anybody to be saved. (the church wasn't wealthy)

Drew, I didn't know we were suppose to wear our suffering and persecution on our sleeves.

Truthfully, I think the SBC needs to break up.

carl peterson

Interesting. But where exactly does the Colossians 2: 12-13 passage state that a person who is spiritually dead can exercise faith (while they are spiritually dead)? I think i would have to read the rest of Dr. Allen's presentation to comment on the larger section of the quote above. I think he has to prove that Calvinists super impose a non-Biblical definition on the word death instead of just stating that they do. Maybe he proves this n his presentation but I do not see it in the above quote. BTW i like Dr. Allen. I just am not convinced by the quote above.

Ian Elsasser

Looking forward to the publication of these papers, especially this paper.

Simple Elder

Hi Peter,

I want to admit up front that what you say is quite likely spot on - that Calvinists like myself make up doctrine to fit our prejudices. I know I've done that in the past and likely will as long as I'm in this flesh.

The same propensity is true of all, even of someone as wise and skilled as Dr. Allen - as he would no doubt quickly admit.

But on this one doctrine - regeneration preceding faith - we have Scripture written by apostles to teach it precisely.

Many who will read this have memorized John 1:12-13. Ask yourselves, which came first according to John - the being born of God, or the the receiving and believing on Christ?

Another verse that addresses this doctrine directly is 1 John 5:1. The verb "born" is twice in this verse in it's perfect tense and thus precedes belief.

Thank you for the privilege of posting.

peter lumpkins

Hi Carl,

You appear to conclude that Allen failed to prove that Calvinists "super impose a non-Biblical definition on the word death" rather than just asserting so without evidence. However, one but needs observe in your opening statement concerning Col 2:12-13 that you tacitly assume the very proposition you deny Allen proved. You ask, "where exactly does the Colossians 2: 12-13 passage state that a person who is spiritually dead can exercise faith (while they are spiritually dead)?

Apparently in your thinking, being spiritually dead precludes the exercise of saving faith apart from the presence of spiritual life. I'm not sure what your question means if you're not assuming Allen's proposition that Calvinists maintain spiritual death equates to spiritual inability.

peter lumpkins

Hey Simple Elder,

You write, "I want to admit up front that what you say is quite likely spot on - that Calvinists like myself make up doctrine to fit our prejudices." Well I don't think I've been either that blunt or perhaps even simplistic suggesting Calvinists merely "make up" doctrine to fit their "prejudices." At least I hope not. What I have suggested is that Calvinists--unbeknownst or not--see and interpret Scripture far too often theologically rather than exegetically. In other words, Calvinists bring unnecessary baggage to the task of interpretative analysis. The rigid system they entertain--TULIP, for example--lends itself to this unfortunate hermeneutical misfire.

As for John 1:12-13 explicitly teaching regeneration preceding faith, the answer, of course, is, it most certainly does not. I'd read Allen's full commentary on this passage before I so publicly made such a bold conclusion were I you.

Ron F. Hale

Dear Simple Elder,

You have said: "Many who will read this have memorized John 1:12-13. Ask yourselves, which came first according to John - the being born of God, or the the receiving and believing on Christ?"

Simply put, when you back up and read these two verses in context you see that the Jews were the legal heirs to all that Jesus offered -- but -- "He came unto his own, and his own people did not receive Him (v11). They willfully rejected Him! That was their decision. God could have regenerated His covenant people, but they did not receive Him.

Verses 12 and 13 teach us that with their (the Jews) refusal and rejection of His offer -- means the offer passes to all (the Gentiles)who will receive Him by believing in His name.

Salvation is 100% God, but the sinner must repent of his or her sin and place their trust in Jesus -- based on His death, burial, and resurrection.

He is Risen!

Ian Elsasser

Simple Elder,

I am a Calvinist and do not believe the exegesis of John 1.12-13 and 1 John 5.1 teaches 'regeneration precedes faith'. Concerning the latter, the Apostle reassures his audience that they, over against those who have departed from them, are indeed born of God because they believe. The Greek tenses do not necessarily support the position. Concerning the former, even Don Carson in his Commentary on the Gospel of John says the verses do not support one way or the other and that one must go elsewhere to find support for regeneration preceding faith. When it comes down to it, faith and regeneration occur together and are synchronous.

Ron F. Hale


I love the conversation that Jesus had with Nicodemus concerning regeneration or being born of God or from above.

Jesus reaches back to the poison serpent story of the OT and how God instructed Moses to put a bronze serpent on a pole and place it in the camp – high and lifted up. The snake-bitten sinners that looked – lived! Those that did not obediently “faith-look” did not live.

To say it another way, those who had death coursing through their viens could receive healing “one way,” and that was by looking to receive life. Which came first – the look or the life?

This story set the stage for vv. 14-15 “even so must the Son of Man be lifted up that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.”

And -- v. 18 “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already ….”

Why? …. “….because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”

Since I value Scripture over systems of theology, I will take the truths of Scripture and preach it – because – the Gospel is the power of God unto salvation!


"Since I value Scripture over systems of theology, I will take the truths of Scripture and preach it – because – the Gospel is the power of God unto salvation!"

Amen to that!

peter lumpkins

Thanks to Ian for stating that the regeneration-precedes-faith dogma so often found on the lips of many Baptist Calvinists today is not necessary to embrace Calvinism per se. Those who've read Bob Ross in any depth at all know his strong Calvinistic theology does not lend itself to regeneration-precedes-faith. Instead, as Ian points out, it's more a simultaneous, complex spiritual experience which makes it all but impossible to unravel so far as separating faith and rebirth.

Indeed if I recall correctly, somewhere in the hundreds of sermons by Jerry Vines through which I've personally pillaged is a similar statement to Ian's that faith and regeneration are simultaneous phenomenon, a "cluster" if you will, so that it becomes impossible to actually point out which is first because there is "no first". I very well may be mistaken about that so don't anyone quote that as Vines' position. But I do recall reading something similar if my mind is not playing tricks on me.

For my part, I have no substantial reservations about viewing it like that though I do tend to see regeneration conditioned upon faith similarly to the way Mullins and more recently, Erickson, proposes it.

Even so, I grant Scripture teaches that faith itself also has a condition and that condition is God's divine, supernatural, sovereign--albeit not irresistible--initiative.

In short, for saving faith to be possible, God's initiative through His Spirit must first work on the sinner's heart through the preached Word. We normally call this "conviction of sin" (Jn 16:8), a powerful moving of God's Spirit but neither the "resurrection from the dead" nor the "new birth" experience many Calvinists insist; instead, as powerful as the moving of the Spirit is at this juncture, it's only the initial working of the Holy Spirit which leads to both in those who believe.

On the one hand, it's a mistake to think we have faith apart from the Holy Spirit's initiative, and on the other, it's no less a mistake to think God's initial work on our hearts is raising us from the dead. Rather it's through His divine initiative and our Spirit-enabled response in the form of saving faith that eternal life comes to those dead in trespasses and sin.

Darren Casper

For me and my understanding of scripture, logically I can see no way of regeneration not preceding the act of faith in a person who has been born dead in sins and trespasses. It may be a millisecond in spiritual time, but it would have to be the act of Spirit upon the dead man enabling him or her to have the ability to demonstrate faith or belief.

However, let me also add that there are so many brothers, many of them commenting on this site, who are much smarter and Biblically astute than I, who read and understand scripture differently than I do on this subject. I also greatly appreciate the tenor and atmosphere of Christian respect and humility as this dialogue plays out. I am joyful and thankful that there is room for these different views within our SBC.

peter lumpkins

Hi Darren

Thanks for the contribution. While I see and agree with your point about the Holy Spirit necessarily working prior to faith as I mentioned in my comment above, I fail to see His initial work as either a necessary logical deduction from a proven biblical proposition or the completed God-endowed experience we normally dub as being "born again" or "spiritually resurrected."

I think a problem for Calvinists who insist regeneration precedes faith stems from what you mentioned about spiritual death--"...I can see no way of regeneration not preceding the act of faith in a person who has been born dead in sins and trespasses (emphasis mine). Namely, I find no biblical passages which expressly state people are born dead in sins and trespasses, a point I carefully explore in my What is Calvinism? booklet.   

Debbie Kaufman

Peter: I find the Bible to use specific words for a specific reason. The one thing different(which there are many) in the Bible as compared to many other books is the use of language, which is sometimes to be taken literally and sometimes to be taken figuratively. Why do you think Paul and others specifically use the word death? If what you are saying is correct then why not use another word? But the word death is used.

I find that Lazarus being raised from the dead by Christ is literal but also a figurative lesson in what happens in salvation.

Debbie Kaufman

In fact, most if not all of Christ's healings were lessons to to those who witnessed them that he was the Christ as he said he was, and a lesson in the process of salvation.

peter lumpkins


I agree with you the biblical author uses specific words for specific reasons. It's harder for me to find agreement with your suggestion that what sets the Bible apart is its usage of words sometimes literally and sometimes figuratively. In fact, the English language is notoriously difficult for many non-English speakers because of our hopeless addiction to using words in endless figures of speech and non-literal ways.

As for Paul using "dead" as in "dead in trespasses and sins" (Eph 2:1) to describe spiritual death, Calvinists like yourself insist he employed it in what you call a "literal" way. However, this is an unproven assumption brought to bear upon the text, as Paul makes clear what he meant about being spiritually dead in the following verses--"in which you once walked according to the course of this world... conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind..." (vv.2-3) Paul uses "death" to depict our absolute moral ruin, and thus our complete separation from God.

In addition, Paul makes explicit the separation spiritual death is in his second flurry of descriptions of our moral ruin beginning in v.11: “Therefore remember that you, once Gentiles in the flesh…at that time you were without Christ, being aliens… strangers… having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ” (vv.11-13). Our spiritual death, in essence, separated us from God. Now, in Christ (by grace through faith vv.8-9), we who far off (separated) are “brought near” to Him.

And, to carry the separation motif further, Paul begins in v. 14 to speak of Christ breaking down the wall of separation between Jew and Gentile, thus putting us together as “one new man” in Christ (v.15). Death, in Paul’s usage in Eph 2 is about separation, not rotting tissue and dead bodies, and therefore extinct human faculties as Calvinists maintain.

Finally, to suppose Lazarus’ death and resurrection to be a viable illustration of our deadness in sins and trespasses and being born again is hopeless eisegesis I’m sorry to say. There’s not a shred of contextual information in Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead to suggest John was teaching us a parallel to the new birth. And, unless Calvinists can show from the text itself from whence they infer, they really need to drop using Lazarus as an illustration of being born again.       

Debbie Kaufman

12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name,
13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

peter lumpkins

Unfortunately, Debbie, these two verses quoted without the least comment means really nothing to the exchange we've had...presumably, of course, it was for my benefit (you didn;t say)

Debbie Kaufman

Titus 3:4-7:
4 But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared,
5 He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit,
6 whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior,
7 so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

The passage above this one is John 1:12-13 and there are certainly others I could give. I can't get past the word death specifically used which is a good translation based on the original word and meaning. I also cannot get past these passages as well as others.

peter lumpkins


It's this simple: stop copy-pasting Bible verses without any meaningful comment about why the verse(s) is (are) relevant to the discussion. Not a single reference to "dead" or "death" is found in any verses you pasted. Hence, there's no relevance to the point on which we exchanged.

Now, either show how Paul meant by "dead in trespasses and sins" (Eph 2:1) to be the extinction of human faculties in the same way physical bodies decay and rot in the ground as Calvinists assume; and, show from the text how John intended Lazarus' resurrection to indicate an illustration of being born again or let's drop the point and move on...

Debbie Kaufman

Peter: I read this and have to laugh. That is said every time someone cannot discredit passages any other way. Scripture is Scripture whether I bring you my Bible or copy and paste it, or write it from memory. It's still God's words. This is why I believe what I believe. The word dead changes everything. You show me where dead does not mean dead.


First off...it's been along time. I hope all is well.
Secondly....as an Italian I am acquainted with the Phrase "You are dead to me!" not meaning actual death.
This is not physical death but representative death. You are dead to me as a person. My grandmother said this regularly to various and sundry aunts, uncles, and ne'er-do-well cousins. At no time did any of them die.
Now I admit I am being mildly sarcastic but my point is the same.
Also...that favorite go-to verse Romans 9:13 "Jacob I loved but Esau I hated" God most certainly did not "hate" Esau. God reserves his hatred for scant few things or people. The usage would better be "rejected". And then too the question is did God reject Esau the man, or Esau and his bloodline relative to Jacob? When we are told God "Hardened Pharaoh's heart" did he harden the heart of "The Pharoah" (The Leader of Egypt) or did he harden the hard of the man whose title was "Pharoah"? Because one is very different from the other.
Good interacting with you again


Debbie, are you really just clueless that you have no idea how insulting you are. You do not act at all in a Christlike manner in these discussions which is why people refuse to engage you. No Debbie just posting scripture doesn't "prove" anything. You seem to think that everyone who disagrees with you just hasn't ever read the Bible and if you only post the Scripture then they'll say "WOW never saw that verse before!"

Start with Romans 6:2, since you're here posting on the internet we can assume you're heart is still beating. So either died doesn't mean died dead or you never died to sin. Which is it Debbie?


Here Peter, I'm just gonna post a whole bunch of scripture references and then laugh when you don't know what I'm trying to say.

Ro 6:2; 6:7; 6:11; 8:10; Ga 2:20; 5:24; col 2:20; 3:3: 2Tim 2:11; 1Pet 2:24; 4:1

I used to know some Pentecostals who believed they could reach a state of sinless perfection because you know if you died to sin that must mean that you don't sin anymore because dead is dead.



You give me a good Sat morning laugh! What's interesting is, I make kind of a big deal in my little book about Calvinists suggesting 'dead is dead' and going merrily ahead like Debbie and assuming Paul meant spiritual death to be an exact replica of physical death--you know, the decaying extinction of human faculties in the same way physical tissue is rots in the ground. Dead is dead, after all. Yet the contextual factors in Eph 2 make it clear Paul used death in the full sense of being separated. Debbie ignored that and quoted a battery of verses not even mentioning death. Nor did she inform us how John was teaching a parallel to being born again in the story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. Of course she cannot be faulted alone for this. I asked the same question of James White and Matthew Barrett in my little book for both of them use Lazarus' resurrection as a proof text for being born again before faith since we are 'dead in trespasses and sin' (Eph 2.1). We let Calvinists get away with reading their own presuppositions into biblical passages, a practice we must constantly observe...


"We let Calvinists get away with reading their own presuppositions into biblical passages....."

Peter, herein is the biggest problem - Calvinists insist that only their definitions are the correct Biblical definitions and then they'll pull popcorn verses they believe support their definitions and then as evidenced here declare themselves the winner of debate. Many Calvinists have been living so long in the box of Calvinism that it's impossible for them to think outside their box and try to learn something new. They don't want to learn anything new, they don't want to even try to dialogue with other Christians. They want to beat people over the head with their Bibles, because if we would just read the scripture like these superior biblicist we would see how dumb we are.

What an incredible amount of hubris to post a verse without any explanation than declare that you cannot discredit what they've posted because the evidence is so clear. If it were so easy why has the debate gone for centuries? You really get the feeling the more you watch Calvinists, that Calvinists truly believe only they are Christians capable of understanding the Bible - it's so perfectly clear you know if only you were a real Christian who read your Bible.

I often thought the story of Lazarus demonstrates that when God speaks even the dead hear - no miracle necessary - God speaks, Lazarus heard and responded.

Debbie Kaufman

Mary: It probably did sound condescending and for that I do apologize. I am simply pointing to scripture as my guide. Isn't that what we as Baptists do? Look to scripture? Presupposition? I can't see how that charge can be leveled. The Bible specifically uses the word dead. Now are you and Peter trying to tell me that I need a person with a degree to interpret scripture for me? That sounds eerily like the Roman Catholics in Luther's and Calvin's day. They thought the same thing which is what both fought against.

Debbie Kaufman

And I believe both. It means spiritual and physical death. I would also agree that it means separation from God, which means I can no longer come to Christ myself. God needs to intervene.


"That sounds eerily like the Roman Catholics in Luther's and Calvin's day. They thought the same thing which is what both fought against."

That statement might be a clue where your problem lies in not being able think a position through. Your statement above would suggest anyone was free to have their own differing interpretation of a text in Calvin's Geneva.

There seems to be more than one blind spot.


Oh Debbie, get off it. Now you're hurling insults by making up stuff no one has either said or implied. You are not a victim here. You constantly pull the "I just read Scripture" as if no one else is reading Scripture. It's you Debbie who acts as if everyone else needs remedial Scripture reading class. Your apology obviously isn't sincere when you continue insulting and condescending.

Your problem Debbie is that you have an unteachable spirit. You obviously have no clue what is being articulated here and you can't learn anything because you've convinced yourself that you know it all.

Let's just take this quote "....which means I can no longer come to Christ myself.God needs to intervene."

No one here disagree with this, yet in your mind if dead ain't dead than it must mean we are coming to Christ on our own. You can't get past what you think you know so as to learn what in reality you don't know.

Believe it or not Debbie people do read the Bible and they come to the conclusion that Calvinism is completely wrong. They can actually back up what they believe with Scripture. You don't want to learn how they do this because you've convinced yourself that you used to think like them but now you've evolved into Super Bible reader.

Whatever it was you believed before Calvinism was probably just wrong - but you want to impose what you used to believe which was probably wrong and now make that what people who disagree with you believe. There are a lot of Calvinists who just don't get the point that what they believed before their Calvinism wasn't right either, and yet they insist on imposing those wrong views on people who are not Calvinist.


And Debbie, start naming names of the people you are implying are not using Scripture as their guides; those who do not point to Scripture. NAME NAMES or stop with the condescension that only you use Scripture. I don't know what kind of "christians" you hang around with that are talking about things and saying we shouldn't use Scripture as our final authority, but that ain't happening here and the fact you continue to throw out these insulting comments as if you really wonder if we think Scripture is important just shows your arrogance and disrespect for those who disagree with you.

Debbie Kaufman

Mary: I'm simply going by you and Peter's comments.


Debbie, prove it.


"What's interesting is, I make kind of a big deal in my little book about Calvinists suggesting 'dead is dead' and going merrily ahead like Debbie and assuming Paul meant spiritual death to be an exact replica of physical death--you know, the decaying extinction of human faculties in the same way physical tissue is rots in the ground. Dead is dead, after all. "

I am looking forward to reading your book. One reason why the whole convo on "dead is dead" is sort of ridiculous is I am around all different sorts of "dead" people a lot in my work. They are functioning, they think, make decisions, laugh and all sorts of life livings sorts of things. They are spiritually seperated from God. But, they are not rotting corpses nor would any sane person recognize them as such. So this poses a problem with someone who insists it means a living breathing being is dead. It sounds shocking and perhaps that is what it is meant to convey. I suppose if Calvin could convince folks of such they would be easier to control? I am not sure it is even worthy of defending because it is that bizarre.

This is just one of the many problems with the Calvin filter of reading scripture woodenly. (I am not sure how such mantras as "scripture is scripture" or "scripture interprets scripture" helps us here but perhaps it makes one feel right to keep saying it?)

Calvinists will quote David talking to God in Pslams and map it to election as literal proof but ignore the same when the Psalms call for us to kill the children of pagans. Where is literalism then?

It is the Calvin filter which makes "I am only quoting scripture" a bit meaningless in such convos and in the end if we are not looking at context, audience, who is speaking, the occassion, we can most assuredly get quite a bit wrong.

Debbie, I recommend a bit of Gordon Fee or even NT Wright interspersed within your Calvin filter. Live a little outside your box. Neither one are fundy wackos but thinkers and scholars who will bring another view that will help you see that God is a God of love, too. Not that I agree with every single thing they write but get outside your box. You might find He is not the God of Piper who ends up being a narcissistic ruler always seeking His own Glory.


I think too that when you see someone insist that they don't have presuppositions, it's a ding, ding, ding, that they live with nothing but their presuppostions. We all have presuppositions - it's only by recognizing that you have presuppositions that you are then able to consciously make the effort to take off those presuppositional glasses and try to think outside the box and maybe learn something.

Calvinists live in the land of presupposition and they cannot grasp that the world doesn't have to march to their presuppositions. Thus you see this arrogance where one thinks you can just post a Bible verse and it's self-explanatory - that demonstrates the presupposition that the Bible teaches Calvinism - if you weren't so dumb you could see it clearly. There could not possibley be another way to interpret Scripture except through the prism of Calvinism.

Simple Elder

Hi Peter,

Is there a way to find Dr. Allen's writings on John 1:12-13 - the ones you mention above? Are they on the internet?

Thank you -

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