A Great Commission Resurgence

I wish to address this post to all my Southern Baptist readers. So the rest of you have fair warning that what follows is a bit of inside baseball for my fellow SBC’ers. Last week, I wrote about the “Building Bridges” conference that was taking place in Ridgecrest, North Carolina. The conference theme communicated the organizers’ intention to “build bridges” between the Calvinists and the non-Calvinists of the SBC. The divisions of late between some Baptists on this issue have left many SBC’ers wondering if the heated controversy might prevent future cooperation for missions. Thus it was good to hear many of the speakers (both five-pointers and non-five-pointers) communicate their belief that the SBC is big enough for both Calvinists and non-Calvinists alike and that all sides have enough in common in the BF&M 2000 to continue cooperation for the cause of Christ around the world.

In my opinion, the speaker that drove this point home most effectively was Dr. Danny Akin, the president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. In his address, Akin called the SBC to a “Great Commission Resurgence,” and he called on Calvinist and non-Calvinist SBC’ers alike to join hands for the missio dei. Dr. Akin asks and answers two questions in this address: (1) Why should we come together in a Great Commission Resurgence? and (2) How can we come together in a Great Commission Resurgence? You should listen to the entire address, and here’s an outline of his remarks.

I. Why should we come together in a Great Commission Resurgence?

1. We are in agreement as to a common Confession of Faith to guide us, “The Baptist Faith and Message 2000.”

2. We are in agreement on the inerrancy, infallibility and sufficiency of the Bible.

3. We are in agreement on the necessity of a regenerate church.

4. We are in agreement on the exclusivity of the gospel.

5. We are in agreement on the sinfulness and lostness of humanity apart from Christ.

6. We are in agreement that salvation is by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. Salvation is a free gift in which human works plays no part.

7. We are in agreement that the Great Commission is a divinely mandated assignment given to the Church by the Lord Jesus and that it is a task we are to give ourselves until the end of the age.

2. How can we come together in a Great Commission Resurgence?

1. We need a sound theology, not a soft theology or a straight-jacket theology.

2. We need to let a biblical theology drive and determine our systematic theology.

3. We need a revival of authentic expository preaching that will lead us to be genuine people of the book.

4. We need the balance of a Great Commission Theology.

5. We need to love and respect each other as brothers and sisters in Christ even though we are not in complete agreement on every point of theology.

In a rousing conclusion, Akin says this:

“I believe our Baptist Fellowship is big enough, in all the right ways, to have room for William Carey, Andrew Fuller, Luther Rice, Adoniram Judson, Charles Spurgeon, John L. Dagg, Basil Manly Sr. and Jr., Lottie Moon, and Annie Armstrong. I believe it is big enough to include Al Mohler and Paige Patterson, Voddie Bauchman and J.D. Greer, Adrian Rogers and Timothy George, Jerry Vines and Mark Dever, W.A. Criswell and Hershel Hobbs, Buddy Gray and Johnny Hunt, Andy Davis and Steve Gaines, Danny Akin and Tom Ascol. We may not agree on everything, but we agree on more than enough to work together for our Lord Jesus in fulfilling the Great Commission. So, will we live or will we die? Will we come together for life or fracture apart in death? I make my choice for life. It is my hope and my prayer that you will join me.”

If you care at all about the future of Southern Baptist cooperation, you must not miss this message. It was a stirring, prophetic word and, I hope, a rallying cry for Baptists to come together for the cause of missions around the world. I pray that Akin’s tribe will increase within the SBC—for the glory of Christ and for the nations.

Audio: “Answering The Call To A Great Commission Resurgence” – by Danny Akin

——————————————————————————————————————–

I haven’t finished listening to all of the messages yet, but here are some others that I thought were outstanding:

David Dockery

David Nelson

Nathan Finn

Tom Ascol

Panel Discussion (part 1)

Panel Discussion (part 2)

(HT: Taylor Tsantles for the photo of Akin)

27 Responses to A Great Commission Resurgence

  1. Kevin J December 3, 2007 at 1:49 am #

    Awesome! Haven’t actually listened to the message but the outline itself is AWESOME!

  2. Jesica December 3, 2007 at 2:48 am #

    Denny,

    I imagine that you seldomly have time to address everyone’s questions..but I hope that either you or one of the other Biblical scholars that read your site will help me out here a bit.

    I grew up in a cult, and was delivered by Christ, in the privacy of my bedroom, when the Holy Spirit pierced my heart to bow in total submission to Christ at the age of 29.

    Since then, I have been ravenous for His Word.

    Here’s the struggle for me with the whole doctrine of the elect…and this is what I’m hoping you’ll address.

    Clearly, the words chosen and predestined, etc. are used throughout the New Testament. However, knowing God’s character, and having studied His names from the Old Testament, I know that He is Sovereign, and He is Love.

    For me, I can’t reckon in my mind how a God of Love could allow two people to be born into a sinful world, wherein there is no hope outside of Christ, and say (figuratively speaking) to one, “You are born, destined for Hell”, and to the other, “You are born, destined for Life Eternal with Me.”

    When I read many of the occurances of predestination or someone having been chosen, I find that taken in context they are often spoken to a particular people…as when Jesus said to His disciples…
    “I have chosen you”.

    My mentor and friend is a well known female Bible Teacher, and about a year ago we had a talk about this very thing…with regard to someone in my family who has abused and hurt many..and she said, “Maybe he wasn’t chosen”…to which I told her I just wasn’t there yet…that I didn’t see it the same way that she does. I quoted John 15:16 to her, “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.”
    and said, “He was talking to the disciples….in context, can I really apply that to myself?”.

    She then quoted several other verses from Scripture and said, “Aren’t those applicable to you?”. (They weren’t verses on election, though.)

    She then went on to explain that free will and election are two roads that merge at one point…all in God’s timing.

    I see God’s timing in Paul’s conversion, and I see His timing in my own. I often wondered why He would have allowed me to live the horrid life I did before Him, but now I see that He will use it to bring glory to Himself.

    OK…I’m almost done, I promise…

    Now, a few days ago, a friend of mine sent me a copy of a book by A.W. Pink ( I think that’s his name).

    I read through several chapters of it, and was just crushed in my spirit…I thought he took so many liberties with Scripture, with regard to this issue, and I can’t bring myself to read any more of it.

    You know how Paul says that he was the chief among sinners? Well, that was before I was born! I don’t know of many who are more vile than I was.

    I was the woman in Luke chapter 7. I still weep without stopping when I share my testimony, because I know what a great sinner I was, and what my Lord saved me from.

    It’s unfathomable to me that God would have chosen me for life eternal, and someone who has committed much less sin, and hurt many fewer people than I did.

    I just can’t get my arms around that…no matter how I try.

    But…still, I’m stuck trying to understand the true meaning of “chosen” and “predestined” and such, from Scripture.

    Would someone please comment and help me understand, from a non-Calvinist viewpoint, how you have come to terms with these passages of Scripture from a free-will viewpoint.

    Sorry to take up so much room, but I’ve been “reasoning out these Scriptures” for almost 9 years, and still have no concrete answers.

    Thank you so much, Denny, for your site. It’s a huge blessing in my life.

    In Our Precious Lord,
    Jesica

  3. Jesica December 3, 2007 at 2:52 am #

    Denny,

    I imagine that you seldomly have time to address everyone’s questions..but I hope that either you or one of the other Biblical scholars that read your site will help me out here a bit.

    I grew up in a cult, and was delivered by Christ, in the privacy of my bedroom, when the Holy Spirit pierced my heart to bow in total submission to Christ at the age of 29.

    Since then, I have been ravenous for His Word.

    Here’s the struggle for me with the whole doctrine of the elect…and this is what I’m hoping you’ll address.

    Clearly, the words chosen and predestined, etc. are used throughout the New Testament. However, knowing God’s character, and having studied His names from the Old Testament, I know that He is Sovereign, and He is Love.

    For me, I can’t reckon in my mind how a God of Love could allow two people to be born into a sinful world, wherein there is no hope outside of Christ, and say (figuratively speaking) to one, “You are born, destined for Hell”, and to the other, “You are born, destined for Life Eternal with Me.”

    When I read many of the occurances of predestination or someone having been chosen, I find that taken in context they are often spoken to a particular people…as when Jesus said to His disciples…
    “I have chosen you”.

    My mentor and friend is a well known female Bible Teacher, and about a year ago we had a talk about this very thing…with regard to someone in my family who has abused and hurt many..and she said, “Maybe he wasn’t chosen”…to which I told her I just wasn’t there yet…that I didn’t see it the same way that she does. I quoted John 15:16 to her, “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.”
    and said, “He was talking to the disciples….in context, can I really apply that to myself?”.

    She then quoted several other verses from Scripture and said, “Aren’t those applicable to you?”. (They weren’t verses on election, though.)

    She then went on to explain that free will and election are two roads that merge at one point…all in God’s timing.

    I see God’s timing in Paul’s conversion, and I see His timing in my own. I often wondered why He would have allowed me to live the horrid life I did before Him, but now I see that He will use it to bring glory to Himself.

    OK…I’m almost done, I promise…

    Now, a few days ago, a friend of mine sent me a copy of a book by A.W. Pink ( I think that’s his name).

    I read through several chapters of it, and was just crushed in my spirit…I thought he took so many liberties with Scripture, with regard to this issue, and I can’t bring myself to read any more of it.

    You know how Paul says that he was the chief among sinners? Well, that was before I was born! I don’t know of many who are more vile than I was.

    I was the woman in Luke chapter 7. I still weep without stopping when I share my testimony, because I know what a great sinner I was, and what my Lord saved me from.

    It’s unfathomable to me that God would have chosen me for life eternal, and someone who has committed much less sin, and hurt many fewer people than I did, for Hell.

    I just can’t get my arms around that…no matter how I try.

    But…still, I’m stuck trying to understand the true meaning of “chosen” and “predestined” and such, from Scripture.

    Would someone please comment and help me understand, from a non-Calvinist viewpoint, how you have come to terms with these passages of Scripture from a free-will viewpoint.

    Sorry to take up so much room, but I’ve been “reasoning out these Scriptures” for almost 9 years, and still have no concrete answers.

    Thank you so much, Denny, for your site. It’s a huge blessing in my life.

    In Our Precious Lord,
    Jesica

  4. Kevin J December 3, 2007 at 9:48 am #

    Jesica,

    I will be glad to help you. I was a “free-willer” until about 8 months ago and have discussed the issue with my “free-willer” brother-in-law for a while now. I am still “fresh” with my free will thoughts so I may be able to help shed some light on it. We can talk about it by email or start a blog on my site…it is up to you.

    If you want to you can go to my blog site and post a comment with your email address or I can start a post. Let me know.

    In Him,

    Kevin

  5. Jesica December 3, 2007 at 1:01 pm #

    Hey Kevin,

    Thanks. I will do that very thing.

    Sorry my post entered twice…I made one small correction, but didn’t realize it would show two times.

    Talk about monopolizing the conversation! Whew!

    Have a great day,
    Jesica

  6. Kevin J December 3, 2007 at 3:12 pm #

    Jesica,

    Here is the link:

    http://lordcorrectme.blogspot.com/2007/12/chosen-by-god.html

  7. Steve December 3, 2007 at 4:45 pm #

    Hi Jesica…
    I understand your difficulty. I had the same problem with Iain Murray’s “The Forgotten Spurgeon” (Both Pink’s Sovereignty of God, and Murray’s Spurgeon are credited with helping people move from an anti calvinist position to a calvinist position). I read it at lunch times in my car, and tossed the book out the window 5 times! loudly declaring it as heresy! And then later had to go fetch it, as I realised that the things it spoke of were indeed scriptural.
    In the end, I realised that I did not have to defend God’s character, He was big enough to do that for Himself. I just needed to adjust my thinking to His revelation of Himself in the Scriptures (as you have well understood, The scriptures are the final and only authority).
    I also needed to recognise that there were many aspects of His character and being that I may never fully comprehend, He being God, and me being a created being, much as an ant has little comprehension of human emotions. I began to realise that the greatest thing the Lord wished me to do was trust Him, just Trust His Sovereignty, Trust His love, trust His Justice, Trust HIM.
    I think (if your mother-in-law lives in OKC) that I have “read the book”, and you have been in my prayers over the years.
    Steve

  8. Jesica December 3, 2007 at 9:07 pm #

    So far, only the Calvinists have spoken up…was this predestined for me?

    🙂

    Just had to have a little fun…

    Seriously, I thank you both for your respectful and kind responses, and look forward to talking with you about it more…

    I really also HOPE that a non-calvinist will pipe up…that’s where I am right now, and I want to know how people like Denny and his mentors have reasoned through these verses and what answers they have regarding the terms “predestined” and “chosen”.

    OK…off to sleep…not feeling so good today.

    Have a great one,
    Jesica

  9. Bryan L December 3, 2007 at 9:44 pm #

    “I really also HOPE that a non-calvinist will pipe up”

    Ok…I’ll chime in… good luck in your search for knowledge.

    Be careful about accepting pious, devotional talk as actual theological arguments and exegesis. You’ll find good, convincing arguments on both sides of the debate and in the end it may just come down to what you think makes more sense to you based on how you’re hard wired. Either way once you choose a side be careful about becoming overly dogmatic about it and being uncharitable to those you disagree with.

    A good intro to both sides of the debate, or at least that reveals the problem with each view, can be found in the two books “Why I’m Not a Calvinist” and “Why I’m Not an Arminian”.

    Have fun and be careful about getting caught up in endless Calvinism vs Arminianism debates. Unless they’re with close personal friends, they don’t usually go anywhere or make much of a difference (especially on the internet and blogs).

    Blessings,
    Bryan L

  10. Brett December 3, 2007 at 10:49 pm #

    And also don’t get caught up into the proof-text chaos. Mainly Calvinists (but Arminians too) will spit out a bunch of proof-texts (single verse scripture references) implying something like “See, we’re chosen and elected by God”, “See, God predestines us”, “See God chooses whoever he wants to not based upon our merit”. This is a very childish poorly constructed way to do theology (which is about 95% of systematic theology textbooks out there, 100% I’ve encountered by I have hope some might not be this way).

    Behind every proof-text there is a context, and honestly, there are proof-texts for both sides of the debate (Good ones too!). In the end, it has to be a decision you make based upon the character of God studied canonically (throughout all of scripture). If after you do this, you find how he loves all people and the nations (and not just for his glory), then you’re probably more free-will (Arminian). If you find God to choose people for his glory and elect certain individuals to spend eternity with him and others to spend eternity not with him, as well as his chief end and our chief end to glorify himself and for him to be in control of everything (even the decisions of humanity), then you’re probably more reformed (Calvinistic). Now it’s time for the Calvinists on here to tell me how bad of an exposition that is 🙂

  11. Kevin J December 4, 2007 at 9:01 am #

    Brett & Bryan,

    So what are your “expositions” of the terms “elect”, “chosen” and “predestined”?

    How does the Arminian reconcile these terms in their context?

    If you would like (since this post has nothing to do with it) you can go to http://lordcorrectme.blogspot.com/2007/12/chosen-by-god.html and start the discussion. I am a little lonely over there 😉

    Kevin

  12. Bryan L December 4, 2007 at 9:24 am #

    Sorry Kevin I’m kind of burned out on the Arminian vs Calvinism debates/discussions. But thanks for the offer ; )

    Bryan

  13. Wade December 4, 2007 at 12:20 pm #

    Does anyone deserve salvation?

    Does God owe anyone salvation?

    Then any time someone recieves salvation it is an act of God’s mercy, and everyone else, litterally, is getting what they deserve.

    Quit thinking that it is unloving for God not to choose someone. God does not owe anyone salvation. Also, God does not owe everyone a chance at salvation.

    I hope that helps??

  14. Kevin J December 4, 2007 at 12:41 pm #

    Wade,

    I agree. It is our man-centered perception that says God is not loving if He does not choose everyone. True..NOONE deserves salvation and God could just let us all go to hell and get what we deserve…but thanks be to God He chooses to save at least some of us. Glory to God!

  15. Brett December 4, 2007 at 1:11 pm #

    I highly respect the emphasis you guys (Calvinists) put on God. He deserves the emphasis and we live for him. However, it is possible to go so extreme with it that there are claims made that the biblical text does not support. It is possible to put such an emphasis on God’s sovereignty that you go above and beyond what the Bible ever says about God’s sovereignty.

    We can quote little philosophical statements all day, but in the end our theology must be derived from the scriptures canonically, and not from philosophical statements or church history fathers. It’s easy to make these claims as white, middle-class Americans. But our God is a God of the nations, slow to anger, full of compassion, and abounding in love. The book of Jonah gives a good glimpse of this about our God.

  16. mike December 4, 2007 at 2:04 pm #

    Brett,

    What are these extremes?
    The Bible very clearly upholds this. Calvinists place emphasis on God’s sovereignty because Scripture places it there.
    It’s easy to state that Calvinists make claims that the biblical text does not support. However its another thing to support that statment. Which you have not done.

    “white, middle-class Americans” What are you talking about? Luther was not a “white, middle-class American” nor was Bunyan, Carey, Moon, Armstrong etc . . . Calvinism is hardly a white middle class religion. That is nonsense.

    Our God is a God of the nations, slow to anger, full of compassion, and abounding in love. How do you describe these attributes?
    I think that most Calvinists would say that these attributes fit God to a “T”. As stated above. He hasn’t given us what we deserve . . . death. I would say that because of this, God is pretty compassionate and abounding in love. Wouldn’t you agree?

  17. Brett December 4, 2007 at 3:17 pm #

    I never said scripture didn’t discuss God’s sovereignty, I said you take God’s sovereignty to an extreme that scripture doesn’t. I totally believe that God is sovereign (in control), but I don’t think that sovereignty includes human decisions and choices. The creation accounts should help out with this b/c God puts humanity in control of alot of things. We (Christians) would do well to actually rethink these scriptures (and the whole Old Testament) and not look at them through augustinian or calvinistic eyes b/c I think we get alot of whacked out theology from them. By “supporting my statement”, I refuse to type 10 proof-texts and get into that game, which could easily be done.

    Lets not put words into my mouth Mike. I never said that white middle-class Americans were the only to believe this way. I said that it is EASY for white middle class Americans to believe this way b/c we have access to so much, have a church on every corner, have heard the Gospel story countless times, have “been saved”, etc. I never once said that we are the only to believe this way, so your claim needs to be rethought. It actually astounds me that you thought that was what I was saying by that statement.

    And to address your last point, the Calvinists claim that all deserve death, therefore for God to choose some is solely gracious and merciful. I have yet to read that verse, but scripture is clear that he is abounding in love and slow to anger, and this is not limited to a select individuals, but rather to every individual. If we look at scripture and can’t see God’s love for people and his desire for a relationship with them, then we are viewing scripture with some seriously distorted lenses.

  18. Kevin J December 4, 2007 at 3:18 pm #

    Brett,

    Try reading the Old Testament and circle how many times God does something “so that they may know that I am the Lord”.

    It is staggering to see how much God does just to show us that He is the Lord and in complete control. Are we puppets? Scripture does not say that we are puppets BUT it does teach that God is in control of all circumstances INCLUDING those “created” by our own “free” will. How can this be? I guess I would have to be God to know for sure…

  19. Jesica December 4, 2007 at 3:19 pm #

    Oooh…

    I promise, I didn’t mean to open up a can of worms!

    My reason for asking is not to bring division among believers, and would never be.

    I am a student of God’s Word. I too, believe the Bible to be inerrant, and am a Precept Bible study leader who teaches others to study God’s Word line upon line, precept upon precept…from Genesis to Revelation.

    Having grown up in a cult, I know way too well how man will take one Scripture and build a doctrine upon it, and thus am not interested in getting into a one Scripture fight. That is a weak and ineffectual way of using Scripture.

    I don’t desire to ever use Scripture to support my own thoughts. I want to use Scripture as my plumbline..to guide my thoughts and my heart…my actions and the ways in which I may be a minister of reconciliation to a lost world.

    I don’t understand why no non-Calvinist will help me out a bit here…it doesn’t have to be done in a non-loving way.

    I’m just hungry for God’s Truth, and know that pastors and teachers and students who hold to a free-will understanding must do so for a reason, as they hopefully haven’t chosen to just skip over the references to predestination, but rather hopefully God has given them understanding regarding them, from His Holy Word.

    Although I don’t doubt for a minute that there are great men of historical faith that have written volumes to help us understand God’s Word, I have been so tainted by having been terribly blinded by a cult leader for 1/2 my life, that I rarely turn to commentaries in my study time.

    I choose instead to go deep into God’s Word, and spend a lot of my time in word studies of the Hebrew and the Greek…hoping beyond hope that God will give me deeper understanding.

    (If anyone knows of a really good on-line course for Hebrew or Greek, I would really love some recommendations. My dream is to be able to read both in the original languages without having to use a dictionary to explain the translation.)

    Thanks to my Calvinist brothers and sisters who have piped in thus far…I will visit your site, Kevin, and would love to hear what God has show you.

    I still struggle so much with the fact that Jesus came to reconcile all mankind to himself…(one for all)…and then gave us the ministry of reconciliation, but that if the doctrine of the elect is true, He in essence would have us spinning our wheels with some that we minister reconciliation to…

    If predestination is the order, why wouldn’t He just lead us to share the gospel with those whom He has chosen….

    It would seem He’d have made us ministers of reconciliation but then would have given us very specific directives as to whom to go to.

    OK…I’m monopolizing again, aren’t I?

    Denny……do you kick people off your blog for taking up the conversation with their questions?

    🙂

    Please…I need to hear from an Arminian.
    (I had no idea until today that I was an Arminian!)

    Jesica

  20. Bryan L December 4, 2007 at 3:53 pm #

    Jesica,

    I’m not sure for exactly what you’re looking for from an Arminian. Can you be more specific? There are some good resources that you can read like the 2 books I suggested that would probably be more fruitful than what you’d find in the comments of a blog. I’m hesitant to begin discussing individual points and scriptures because it will end up turning into a debate that has been rehearsed over and over on this blog before and in retrospect I’m not sure those debates were a good use of time.

    I appreciate your quest for truth but I just want to say Calvinism and Arminianism are both systems put together by men to try and make the best sense of the scriptural data and that means that because they try to systematize all the data found in scripture there are times when each side comes across scriptures that don’t fit into their system so each side either has to harmonize those verses, making them mean something they don’t, or they disregard them and assign them a lesser role (effectively ignoring them). This is why this debate goes back and forth, each side quoting their favorite passages and demanding that the other side deal with them and squabbling over passages that could go either way.

    Again just be careful in assuming that one particular side is the absolute truth and equating it with the gospel.

    Blessings,
    Bryan L

  21. MatthewS December 4, 2007 at 4:34 pm #

    Jesica,

    I appreciate the tone Bryan is setting with his comments. Scot McKnight has dealt with both sides on jesuscreed.org. He is not Calvinist. He has offered criticisms of both sides of the debate.

    Another resource is (are?) systematic theology textbooks. I appreciate Millard Erickson here, even if I don’t buy everything he says. He gives a good discussion of various positions related to beliefs about predestination, election, etc.

    I personally can’t name exactly where I stand. It tends to be more Calvinist than Arminian on many points but I am certainly not a 5 point Calvinist. I believe God is sovereign and does what he wants. I also believe that in our frame of reference, we CAN make a choice. This is a paradox of frames of reference that we can’t solve.

    I think it is worth noting that there are people on both sides who are men of God and who respect people on the other side. Also, there are people on both sides who can articulate their belief in a logically consistent manner. Neither position is trivial and neither will fall apart easily on this or that proof text. Neither position is completely correct because they are human attempts to explain God.

    At the end of the day, the Judge of all the earth will do what is right.

  22. Brett December 4, 2007 at 5:36 pm #

    Kevin,

    I don’t see how doing what you suggest helps any in the matter. I never denied that YHWH says things such as these. He desires all to come to know him (“so that they may know that I am the LORD). So that argument seems to strengthen my argument more than it does yours, because to this I say “amen!”.

    Jesica, since you’re a devoted student of God’s word, then base your theology off of this. Don’t read Piper, Pink, Edwards, Warfield, etc, until after you believe you know what the scriptures teach. It is good to hear that you will not get into the proof-text war, because they are wonderful on both sides. I totally echo Bryan’s words, and believe what he said was right on the mark. Just don’t get too extreme, Calvinists believe Arminian beliefs are evil, and Arminians believe Calvinistic beliefs are evil. Try to take an eclectic approach and see the goods and bads on both sides. The most important thing is how we are living anyways.

  23. Carlito December 4, 2007 at 7:13 pm #

    Well put, Brett. And Jesica, I commend your desire to study the Word and to really dig into the Greek and Hebrew. I would concur with MatthewS and Bryan L in that I think it can be dangerous to align oneself strongly with one “camp” or another – primarily because I think it tends to send us down a path where we begin to filter everything we read and think through a certain idealogy or theological lense. When that happens, I think we can miss a lot of things in Scripture that could really benefit us – no matter where we fall on the Soteriology spectrum.

    As with MatthewS, I lean more towards Calvinism but I don’t tout the fact that I’m a “Calvinist” and prefer to stay away from the endless debates.

    IMHO, I think it’s best to stay on the fence, stay in God’s Word, and ask His Spirit to reveal truth in heaps and draw you closer to Christ. You definitely can’t go wrong there…

  24. mike December 5, 2007 at 1:27 pm #

    Brett,
    Simma down now, ya heu . 🙂 There is no need to get uptight. Understand that this response is in brotherly love. Please do not read it as a “crooked nosed Calvinist characture” responding to you.

    What I said was “Calvinists place emphasis on God’s sovereignty because Scripture places it there.” Then I stated that you had not backed up any of your statements with Scripture. You replied that you weren’t going to get into that “game”. Seriously, I do not see how quoting Scripture (in context) can be a game.

    No Brett, you did say “It’s easy to make these claims as white, middle-class Americans.”
    You may have meant “it is EASY for white middle class Americans to believe this way b/c we have access to so much, have a church on every corner, have heard the Gospel story countless times, have “been saved”, etc.” But you didn’t say that.

    If you had, you would not have been astounded because I would have had a better idea of what you were trying to say. . . 😉

    I’m not sure what this statement is all about-“I never once said that we are the only to believe this way, so your claim needs to be rethought.”

    Brett, do you not believe that you (me, everyone) deserve death? Surely you do. What good is there in you? Do you truly believe that there was a hint of goodness in you that allowed you to be able to call out to God?

    You stated “I have yet to read that verse”. Are you going to want me to use proof texts or not? You clearly are calling for a proof text here ;).

    You misunderstand Calvinists. You believe a characture that does not exist. It bothers me when people as yourself (likely unknowingly) misrepresent Calvinists. I hope that you will study just what Calvinists DO believe and not what you have been told or assume they believe.

    I will close with this. Calvinists believe that “God IS abounding in love AND slow to anger AND it IS NOT limited to select individuals, but rather to EVERY individual.” Also God loves people and “desires for a relationship with them”. . . I guess our lenses aren’t distorted after all .

    If you would like to continue you can email me. I will not respond here. If you do contact me, I want you to have proof in hand of what Calvinists supposedly believe. There is no sense in wasting my time nor yours if you are not willing to do the research.

    May you be blessed all your days and may you continue to desire our Lord and Savior, faithfully pursuing Him with all abandon.

    Jessica,
    I apologize. I know that KA is a wonderful teacher. I encourage you to continue to study under her. You are right on track.

    I do encourage you to align yourself, not with one camp or another, but with the Word. If that takes you closer to one than the other, then praise God.

    I want you to know, and I think that I speak for most, if not all Calvinists, we are Calvinist because, AND ONLY because, we believe that Scripture directs us to the “doctrines of grace”, not Calvinism.

    Here is a great book that will make your heart soar. I think it will answer many questions

    http://www.desiringgod.org/dg/id1.htm

    If you like it, you can order it here

    http://www.amazon.com/Desiring-God-Meditations-Christian-Hedonist/dp/1590521196/ref=pd_bbs_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1196878033&sr=8-2

    Last, here is a great website that you can go to that will give the Reader’s Digest versions of the answers to many of your questions-

    http://www.thirdmill.org/answers/questions.asp/category/th/page/questions/site/iiim

    Don’t worry, if Denny kicks anyone off for long comments, I’m sure that I’ll be the first to go after this post :0 !!!

    God bless!

  25. mike December 5, 2007 at 4:22 pm #

    Jessica,
    I have something for you that I providentially just heard while listening to a sermon from Paul Washer. I thought that you would love it.

    Reporter-“Why are you always preaching on sin?”

    Paul Washer-“Young man, its because I want you to love God.”

    R-“what do you mean?”

    PW-“I said have you not read, she loves much because she has been forgiven much? Young man you do not love Christ very much because you do not realize how much you have been forgiven. And you do not realize how much you have been forgiven because you have been raised on preaching that does not talk about sin.”

    PW (to the congregation)-“It is only in the context of our radical depravity and the knowledge of it that we can truly fall down and worship and love Him as He ought to be loved.”

  26. Brenda Green January 25, 2009 at 10:13 am #

    I’m new on this site and find it’s a very good way to get educated on certain issues and concerns. I, too, have been struggling with the two views of Arm vs Cal, not as long as Jesica, but just the same, struggling with it. I am a black/white person and that could explain why the struggle, but I think Jesica and I agree that we just want to, once and for all, say that we are one or the other. I don’t like being in the middle or it sounds like I’m being wishy-washy. Make up my mind!!! If we look at Calvinism closely, along side scripture, we might find that the Calvinist is saying that God’s word is the authority, and God’s will, will be done one way or the other. If God wills it, he must provide a way, and will bring someone forward to do his will. What a blessing it is to do his will. That is predestination, and the later is election. But my thought about the Arm view is that the word ‘election’ isn’t in their vocabulary. Arm’s though, sound very convincing saying they believe God is calling all to repentance, which he is, but that Cal’s do not think all are to be evangelized. I do agree that both need to be so very careful not to argue or debate the two views, but only to exalt Christ. We can agree on that! I hate floundering, not knowing for sure which view is totally right, but I do know this one thing, that God has impressed on my heart and mind that the thing we need to be concerned about is bringing souls to Christ, bring them the word and let the Holy Spirit do his work. Thanks!

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