Revival of Calvinism in the SBC

Christianity Today reports today on a revival of Calvinism within the Southern Baptist Convention. According to the report, only 10% of SBC pastors are Calvinists. But the number of recent seminary graduates holding to Calvinism is at about 30%.

“Long considered more Arminian in orientation—emphasizing an individual’s need to respond to the gospel rather than God’s election in salvation—the nation’s largest Protestant denomination is grappling with doctrines of grace and election amid a seminary-led revival.”

Here’s the rest:

“TULIP Blooming: Southern Baptist seminaries re-introduce Calvinism to a wary denomination” – by Ken Walker (Christianity Today)

70 Responses to Revival of Calvinism in the SBC

  1. jb January 17, 2008 at 12:44 pm #

    May the sovereignty of God continue to become an ever increasing principle of the SBC.

    Go “Big Al.”

  2. Michael Bird January 17, 2008 at 1:11 pm #

    Denny,
    It is good to see Reformed theology on the resurgence, but simultaneously disturbing to discover that it is so contentious in the SBC. In Scotland, Reformed theology is considered normative in evangelical churches for the most part.

    Sadly, I have learnt that being a Reformed Baptist is a lonely position being shunned by general Baptists and looked down upon as a child with form kind of defect by some Presbyterians.

  3. Debbie Kaufman January 17, 2008 at 2:35 pm #

    I agree with Michael Bird. I belong to a church that has both Calvinists and non-Calvinists who exist with no contention. It can be done. The article is basing it’s view on down playing reaching people with the gospel of Christ which couldn’t be further from the truth. I am a Calvinist and love missions, teaching, witnessing. It spurs me to give the gospel. Paul plainly says, how can they hear without a preacher. He himself was a missionary. Why would I who believe in scripture sola, knowing what Christ has done for me not want to evangelize and support global evangelizing?

  4. Terry Delaney January 17, 2008 at 2:54 pm #

    I left this comment over at sbcvoices. Though I was leaving it here.

    The more I hear comments like Page’s and motions like Elam’s, the more I am convinced that ignorance will run rampant on both sides of the “discussion” and cause a major division within the SBC.

    If charges of heresy are being bandied about, what will happen when a full-blown Calvinist is nominated and voted into the office of president of the convention? Stay tuned for the Fun in Indy ‘08. This should get interesting.

  5. Terry Delaney January 17, 2008 at 3:14 pm #

    “Though” should be “thought” sorry!

  6. Charlsie Grace January 17, 2008 at 6:30 pm #

    This is completely unrelated to your post, but I saw something about Derek Webb you posted several years ago. Derek Webb is coming back to Dallas on March 8th, 2008. You can buy tickets for $11 (including processing fees) at liveatmokah.com ….if you are interested.

  7. Brett January 17, 2008 at 9:52 pm #

    Do Calvinists argue for pancausality? What about impeccability?

  8. Brett January 17, 2008 at 10:00 pm #

    *I mean impassibility, not impeccability. But what about both?

  9. Brett January 17, 2008 at 11:18 pm #

    Just out of curiosity,

    Article II of the Baptist Faith and Message states “God is all powerful and all knowing; and His perfect knowledge extends to all things, past, present, and future, including the future decisions of His free creatures.”

    This is clearly not Calvinism. Because in Calvinism there is no such thing as “free creatures”. So I’m wondering how you, Denny, being an outspoken Calvinist, and Dr. Mohler reconcile this doctrinal statement which you live by with the Calvinsim which you also seem to live by. This isn’t the only statement in there that is non-Calvinistic, but it is certainly one that stands out. Just curious

  10. j razz January 18, 2008 at 12:33 am #

    I am reformed and Southern Baptist and I believe in free agency, not free will as our will is bound up in our sin natures save for the regenerate work of Christ. There is no contention with “free creatures”.

    In case you were wondering, free agency defined.

    j razz

  11. Brett January 18, 2008 at 12:42 am #

    Just sounds like semantics to me. I believe it has to be realized that to defend theodicy one has to believe in free creatures. But hey, what do I know?

    Oh, I mean, ALL humanity is tied up so bad in sin and are dead corpses and wretched beings, incapable of choosing to follow God. It’s not our faith or repentance, but that which God has ordained to give to a select group of people not based on their merit but out of his sovereign love by which he turns a corpse into a living spiritual being that he causes to do that whichever he pleases…along with all those who don’t follow him as well.

    Sounds a whee bit Gnostic to me

  12. Ken January 18, 2008 at 8:09 am #

    Brett, what do you mean by “free creatures?” What does freedom mean to you?

  13. mike January 18, 2008 at 10:55 am #

    Brett,
    The pastor of the church that I grew up in is NOT a Calvinist. I have heard him say basically the same thing that you said above, “Sounds a bit Gnostic to me”. I truly do not understand what you guys mean when you say that and would like for you to please explain.
    Thanks! 🙂
    mike

  14. Brett January 18, 2008 at 1:13 pm #

    Mike,

    Thanks for the question bro and I’m sorry I did not clarify what that meant. It’s a good question and everyone hear needs to know.

    Gnosticism, in my view the worst heresy the church has ever had to endure (and is still reaping the consequences of) believes that the “Father” God is completely unknowable and so great and mighty that no person or angelic being can know him at all. One spiritual being (the beings are called aeons) called “Sophia” sinned through pride b/c she though she could know the Father. As a result of this, she begat another spiritual aeon called the “Demiurge” who created the earth and all matter. The “Demiurge” is the God of the Old Testament and is characterized by wrath, hate, unfairness, etc.

    As a result of the Demiurge’s rebellion, other spiritual aeons tried to rescue the world and as a result the Demiurge held them captize in evil, sinful human bodies. The “Father” then sent “Christ” to the world to fix the mess up. Christ adopted a human’s body, the body of Jesus, to be the instrument of restoring and redeeming the “elect” aeons who were held captive in nasty human bodies.

    Now, since it is post-Christ, Gnostics believe that only the “elect”, those angelic beings who were held captive in evil and sinful human bodies, can be saved. Once you realize if you are a part of the “elect”, then you’re good and you get to go to Heaven. But all others simply die and cease to exist or go to eternal damnation. Thus, all humanity, apart from the special “elect” is damned and cannot know God because humanity is evil, sinful, corrupted….a product of the Demiurge. The whole world and all of matter is evil as well, since the Demiurge made it. So the spiritual stuff (heavenly pleroma, spiritual beings, etc)is good, but the physical is bad (humanity, the earth, etc).

    It is my conviction that (since Augustine was heavenly influenced by a form of Gnosticism…Manicheism), Augustinian (and thus Calvin) anthropology and soteriology is simply a more watered down version of Gnosticism. It’s Gnostic at it’s core. I hope you can see the parallels with the “elect”, humanity being bad and evil, the Father being this mighty being that is impassible, etc. I know this is going to fire some of the Calvin/Augustine fans up on here, but I believe the writing is on the wall.

    The farthest we can stay away from this Gnostic way of thinking, the better. Hope that helps.

  15. j razz January 18, 2008 at 2:27 pm #

    It is never a good thing to over compensate for error. You want balance. If you fall to far on one side or the other you are more prone to error.

    As for your assessment about the Gnostic/reformed parallel, I don’t even really know where to begin. What do you do with election? Not the election you cite above, but the election as spoken of in scripture? What do you do with Ephesians chapter 1? Romans?

    According to your last statement, you would overcompensate for them by denying their meaning as it parallels with your concept of gnositicism. I hope this is not the case. One way or another, one has to deal with it as it is biblical; God’s purpose of election must stand.

    j razz

  16. mike January 18, 2008 at 3:25 pm #

    Brett,

    Thank you for your response. I now have a better understanding where you and my friend are coming from when you state that we Calvinists are a bit Gnostic.

    I think that the parellels that you and my friend have drawn are incorrect. In fact, unless I am wrong, the evidence that you use to try and draw these parallels are completely contrary of what Calvinists believe when it comes to how one comes to know the Lord.

    For example, you wrote that the way a Gnostic believes that they are able to go to heaven is by an action that is generated from within themselves-“Once YOU realize if you are a part of the “elect””. So in other words it sounds like you are saying that once they believe on their own (realize), they are saved.

    Again, in a respectful manner, I want to say that this doesnt sound like Calvinism to me. It actually sounds more like Arminianism. It sounds like Arminianism to me because the initial action of “knowing” comes from within themselves and not from Another giving that “knowledge”.

    A Calvinist says that we are enslaved in our sinful bodies, products of our own actions, and He, by grace alone through faith alone, regenerates our hearts so that we can see Him, follow Him, obey Him etc. . . Where as before, we could do nothing but continue in our God hating depraved ways because we were utterly seperated from Him and desiring to continue to be seperated from Him, only wanting His benefits (common grace) and not His (saving) grace.

    Despite this utterly dispicable and damnable condition, the God who loves, graciously reaches down and touches our eyes allowing us to see and calls us forth from the grave of our souls.

    This sounds NOTHING like Gnosticism to me. Of course I am sure that there is a lot more to this than what you have written. I also understand that my response is likely lacking as a result. I want to ask you to continue to draw parallels, and if you dont mind, I might have to ask you to draw me a picture since I am not the smartest person out there. 😮 🙂
    Thank you again for your explanation!

    God bless,
    mike

    I would like to see you address j razz’s question also.

  17. Brett January 18, 2008 at 3:58 pm #

    Mike and J Razz,

    Thank you for your responses and your questions. J razz, I am not denying the “election” the Bible speaks of. It is the definition of election that you have, and the Gnostics had, that I am disagreeing with.

    We cannot read the NT apart from the OT. Every Christian needs to realize this. A good, fundamental knowledge of the OT is imperative to understand the NT. I do not deny that there is a doctrine of election, but where we part ways is your individualistic view of election and my corporate view. My explanation is simple (without getting into a proof-text war). In the OT, it wasn’t just different individuals from here and there that God decided to “elect”, but a nation (Israel, of course). Now, the church is God’s chosen people. Just like Israel’s role, our role is to represent God and his name so that all the peoples and nations might come to know him…thus it is universal in scope. The Calvinistic doctrine is very individualistic (God has elected some individuals to spend eternity with him and not others). I believe in a corporate view of election and canonically do not see how you can do otherwise. For a superb book about this, see William Klein’s “New Chosen People: A Corporate view of Election”. He does well with dealing with your proof-texts of Ephesians 1 and Romans 8-9 (just a preview…Christ is the “elect” one, and those who follow and believe in him are “in him”. We are “in Christ”, the “elect” one.)

    Sorry if I put off the wrong vibe about Calvinism and Gnosticism. I did not intend to communicate that it is identical or everything is the same in both systems. My point is that there are a lot of parallels (individualistic election, humanity is born evil, God is this being that can hardly be known, etc).

    “A Calvinist says that we are enslaved to our bodies”…so does a Gnostic. I agree, Gnostics don’t teach grace through faith. But one very similar parallel is that Calvinists believe that God from eternity past has pre-ordained who would be saved and who will not, so being saved is more or less something you realize since God has already ordained it to happen. This is similar to Gnosticism, b/c they simply realized that they were “the elect”. It’s not that “they believe it on their own” as you say, it’s just that they realize it. They contribute nothing to their salvation, just as the Calvinists would say. Salvation is something you already possess and simply have to realize. I know the Calvinist would not articulate it this way, but when it comes down to it, this is what happens since God has pre-determined it since before all time. You were basically already saved 10,000 years ago since God knew about it and pre-ordained it, so when you spring to life, it just a matter of when you’re going to realize it.

    I really appreciate your humble responses. Lets try to keep this conversation going in a civil manner and learn from one another, since we are brothers in Christ.

  18. j razz January 18, 2008 at 4:31 pm #

    What do you do with Christ’s role as high priest? He prayed not for the world but for His own.

    I agree with your assessment concerning the OT. It is part of the bible and needs to be seen as such. I do not disagree and find that where Israel failed time and time again as God’s chosen people, Christ suceeded. Christ did everything that Adam could not do. Christ did everything that Isreal could not do. He is the fulfillment of the law- something Israel or Adam could never be. By that, we are in Him. We are His chosen people. We are the church. According to I John 2 some were in the church but not really of the church so they left out from it. Whatever promises were given to Israel are realized in Christ and in Him we are also heirs to those same promises.

    Election is corporate in that since. In the same way that Israelites were born unto Israel’s women, so to are the children of God. We are elect in that we were elected to be under the headship of Christ.

    Election is not corporate in the sense of whoever affiliates with a given group (i.e. the church- read I John 2) is in. You must look at God’s usage of predestination. It cannot just be written off.

    j razz

  19. mike January 18, 2008 at 5:29 pm #

    No, Brett, I think that you are wrong. I am certainly no scholar but I have to say that Calvinism does not teach what you state. Since I am not a scholar and there are MANY who read this who are, please if you are able to better state, or correct what I am saying, feel free to correct me.
    Frankly but respectfully Brett, your arguments sound like a straw man to me.
    Though I understand what you are saying, the parellel that you draw between Calvinists and Gnostics are totally inappropriate.
    For example, I can compare a human to a cat claiming that they are very similar to one another since both have ears, noses, eyes, legs etc. . . However they are actually nothing alike (you get my point). I believe that the same goes with your analogy.

    Calvinists do not say “we are enslaved to our bodies”. We say that we are enslaved to sin.

    1 You wrote, “so being saved is more or less something you realize since God has already ordained it to happen”. As a Calvinist, I have to say NOOOO that isnt correct. It is not “more or less” something we realize. In order to “realize” you have to have life in you, not the opposite. Calvinists say that we are dead, D-E-D 🙂 not having any life WHAT SO EVER in us. We are not able ro realize ANYTHING. We are given the gift of grace which quickens our spirits enabling us to cry ABBA Father! Brett, there are NO similarities in your comparison, that is, unless you are talking about Arminianism.:) Again, “realizing” IS contributing to salvation because we dont “posses” salvation UNTIL it is given to us.
    Last, I as well as you, were ordained to be saved not 10000 years ago but in eternity past.

    Brett, I too appreciate humble conversations and I thank you as well for your time and care in responding.

  20. mike January 18, 2008 at 5:33 pm #

    Im sorry but because I do not have access to the internet at the house and the weekend is here, I will have to bow out until next time. That is unless I am able to get on line over the weekend.. I hope that your weekend goes well and I look forward to your response!
    mike

  21. Brett January 19, 2008 at 2:16 am #

    Mike,

    We can make any argument or hypothesis sound ignorant (e.g. you comparing a cat to humans and me comparing Gnostics to Calvinists). I don’t think you’re understanding that I’ve said that they’re not exactly alike (Calvinists and Gnostics), there are just similarities that frighten me. I’ve already told you those, but you can’t seem to see past my use of the word “realize”. In fact, when I was in class learning about it this semester the Calvinistic system kept popping into my head as the teacher expounded on what Gnostics believe. Though they’re not exactly alike, they have some similarities. The differences may be greater than the similarities, but there are similarities nonetheless.

    You said, “Calvinists do not say we are enslaved to our bodies”, well, you said that in your earlier post. You said “sinful bodies” and not just “bodies”, but the Gnostic would agree with this. We associate sin as evil, corrupt, wicked (and rightfully so!), the Gnostic affirms this about physical stuff (matter…bodies, dirt, bricks, trees, etc). If the Augustinian teaching of original sin isn’t somewhat Gnostic then I don’t know what is. This is where Christians have listened to Augustine more than Genesis 3 and came up with some whacky conclusions. Genesis 3 never claims that man was cursed, or corrupt, but rather that Adam and Eve lost access to immortality (they were not immortal, but had access to immortality…the tree of life) and lost access to the Garden. The ground was cursed, the woman now has pains during childbirth, and the snake was cursed (nowhere does it say the snake is Satan…another myth!). Humanity actually has the potential to be very good…it’s just that sin is a problem. Sin and humanity are 2 different things, and they are not fused together. If you say they are then you say that God created sin…which he did not. He created man and woman and saw that it was “very good”.

    I would like to ask you Mike, since you keep mentioning my term “realize”, how do you know you’re saved. If we don’t realize that we’re saved, then we have no knowledge of it. So simply realizing something means you put effort into it? I realize it’s late and I need to go to bed….uh oh, that’s works salvation on my part, bad news bears! You’ve got to be kidding me. We’re not living in the 1500s anymore Mike, where we buy indulgences and pay money towards having people sent out of purgatory. To speak of human choice is okay. You have taken your opposition to “works” to an extreme and are sounding quite pedantic about it. Do you realize you have salvation? Maybe, for lack of a better term, the Gnostics just “knew” they were the “elect”. Is that better? Now, does “knowing” contribute to your salvation? What does the term “know” mean. Since we can’t even use these terms when referring to salvation, lets just be passive our whole lives and not do anything b/c God already has it all pre-ordained, from the salvation of an individual to what shirt you’re going to wear tomorrow. So lets just sit by and let the world be polluted and destroyed and let people made in God’s image all over the world perish since they’re not chosen and just delight in the fact that we are!

    You say we are dead? By what standards? We have to define our little Christian code language before we go further. What about the soldier who is without Christ and throws himself on a grenade to save his friends? Is this not the greatest act of love anyone can commit? It is according to Jesus (laying your life down for your friends). So, we have a dead person (before falling on the grenade) with no life whatsoever, sacrificing himself in the greatest act of love any person could ever commit. That doesn’t sound very dead to me.

    Given the gift of grace which quickens our spirits? What verse is that? When your spirit is quickened, don’t you realize something? Your arguments and line of reasoning are a little misconstrued.

    Also Mike, I don’t think you read very well. I never said that 10,000 years ago God decided that we would be saved. If you read more carefully, I was making a point that God knew about it 10,000 years ago, he knew about it 20,000 years ago, he knew about it 25,000 years ago. It was a matter of him always knowing about it, not when he ordained it to happen. I said “you were already basically saved 10,000 years ago since God knew about it and pre-ordained it”. I did not say that “God pre-ordained you to be saved 10,000 years ago”. I was making a point that, according to your theology, you have always been saved. I’ll try to make my point better next time by rewording appropriately.

    “We don’t possess salvation UNTIL it is given to us”? Well, wasn’t it given to you from eternity past. So, according to that logic, haven’t you always possessed it from eternity past? There is no “until”, since God already had it mapped out. You’re not really making your points very clear.

    The bottom line is this, this view of soteriology and anthropology is a result of poor hermeneutics and exegesis done throughout the centuries by individuals heavily influenced by their culture and not knowing their Bibles. We don’t have any evidence of anybody believing this way before Augustine of Hippo, and that was 400 years after Christ walked the face of the earth. I may not be able to quote a bunch of proof-texts to you, and that’s because it is implied on nearly every page of scripture. It’s so obvious that it doesn’t have to be stated in a proof-text. God gives his creatures freedom to follow him or not. We are not robots or puppets. Love without freedom of choice is not true love. Apart from a poor reading of Romans 9, Ephesians 1, and a few others, it cannot be found.

    Look forward to your response Mike, God bless you.

  22. j razz January 19, 2008 at 4:10 pm #

    Brett,

    Your conclusions and logic do not follow. You should take a good look at Grudem’s or Erickson’s systematic theology books. If you truly want a greater understanding of the Bible, take a look at one of those.

    As for your assumption of the will, it does not come down to “robots or puppets” as you say for the calvinist. You are setting up a straw man.

    Also, you say that save for Ephesians 1 or Romans 9 (read poorly) there is no proof of “love without freedom of choice”. You have a flawed definition of freedom of choice as Calvinists believe in freedom of choice as well (look back to free agency).

    Also what do you do of the pharoah? What do you do with the OT passage that states God will use the Babylonians as His instrument of judgement (like a hammer) and exact that judgement on Israel and in the very next breath God says that the Babylonians are doing exactly what they want to do and will be held accountable for it? (Hab. 2.1-17; Jer. 51.20 ff)

    I strongly encourage you to get a hold of a good systematic theology book and walk through scripture with it. You can question it. That is okay. Nothing wrong with questioning, however, your view of what scripture teaches is another view than what scripture actually teaches (I mean that with no arrogance what so ever).

    Please pick up a systematic theology book and read it through.

    j razz

  23. Brett January 20, 2008 at 12:37 am #

    J Razz,

    Trust me, I’ve read those systematic books and hope I never have to pick them up again (though Erickson is certainly better than Grudem). Grudem has very poor hermeneutics and takes verses out of context like nobody I have ever seen. He trumps people with Bible verses that are very contextualized in nature. Systematic theology is really losing respect in the field of academia because people are starting to realize that you can’t put God in a box (system) because he often acts in ways we don’t expect. Hence the rise in the popularity of biblical/canonical theology within the last decade or two (which is great). Systematic theology, or what I like to call “proof-text theology”, simply makes a statement about God and backs it up with 2 dozen proof-texts without discussing their context. This is bad hermeneutically and exegetically, and Grudem is at the forefront of this.

    As far as your references to the OT, I agree, God uses different nations as instruments of his judgment on other nations and holds them responsible for it. However, this doesn’t mean that God ordained it to happen from when time began. This is part of God’s consequential will because of disobedience. This doesn’t mean God wanted it to happen, because he would rather those people repent than have to judge them. However, the Lord knows the hearts of men and is the one who controls victory or defeat in war. Therefore, in the wars of the OT God knew what, for example, the Babylonians (or Philistines, etc) had planned to do and simply took his hand off of Israel and let them be defeated. This doesn’t at all mean that God caused them to do it, it just means God knew their hearts and plans and simply let them be carried out in an act of judgment. God using evil people to do this is certainly not foreign to the Bible, yet the Bible never says God foreordained these things to happen since the beginning of time. I admit, sometimes God allows bad things to happen via other humans to other humans as an act of judgment. But we can’t make these universal in scope and say it always happens this way b/c often times God shows mercy to nations and changes his mind (all over the OT).

    Also, what happened to Pharaoh changes nothing of what I’m trying to say. The text actually says “Pharaoh hardened his own heart” as much as it says “God hardened Pharoah’s heart”. And, if we look at Exodus 3-14 contextually, God knew Pharaoh’s heart and didn’t “harden” it by overriding his freedom, but by the circumstances and judgments he caused to happen. Also, whenever the OT speaks of “hardening hearts” language it is either corporately or of a king/leader of a nation. It is never of select individuals as Calvinists claim.

    One huge problem in evangelicalism is that we read systematic theology books more than we read the Bible itself. Sorry if this sounds prideful, but picking up a systematics book is the last thing I would do when it comes to these issues.

  24. mike January 20, 2008 at 6:30 pm #

    wow Brett. . . I was able to swing by a coffee shop and see what you had to say. I literally just have a couple of minutes so I was not able to read through your response completely but I will copy and paste to Word so that I can read it at my casa.
    I am intrigued with several things that you have said simply because I do not understand where you are coming from and would truly like to understand.
    However I am quite shocked by your apparent tone. I hope that I have read it incorrectly. Maybe I have offended you. I hope not. That is not my intention. I have only stated what I believe and have only stated why. If I have please forgive me.
    I look forward to further conversation.
    I pray that the rest of your weekend goes well.
    mike

  25. j razz January 20, 2008 at 6:34 pm #

    This doesn’t at all mean that God caused them to do it, it just means God knew their hearts and plans and simply let them be carried out in an act of judgment.

    You have just attempted to explain away the scriptures by using a poor hermeneutic. You must look at the context and view them within the context scripture gives them.

    I would also like to point out that scripture says the king’s heart is like channels of water in the hand of the LORD; He turns it wherever He wishes.

    You cannot just explain away scripture to support your view. You must accept it for what it says and figure out how it fits into the big picture of scripture.

    j razz

  26. Brett January 20, 2008 at 6:40 pm #

    Hey Mike,

    No offense brother, I was just trying to make a point that I didn’t think you were getting. Sorry for the vibe I put off, I was just trying to write to you like I thought you were writing to me. Sorry again

  27. Brett January 20, 2008 at 6:47 pm #

    J Razz,

    Sorry bro, but that’s like the pot calling the kettle black. The Scripture says the “King’s” heart is, not everybody’s. You’re the one with the poor hermeneutic, because you universalize passages that talk about human rulers and make the applicable to every human being alive.

    We all try to explain away the Scriptures brother, so I don’t know what your point is there. Also, when we step back and look at it I am the one who is looking at these texts contextually, and you’re the one who is reading them in isolation or with distorted lenses. For example, in the passages we mentioned about God using other nations to bring judgment, tell me where exactly is says that God caused it…I’m curious to know.

    You tell me I cannot just explain scripture to support my view…this is exactly what you just did by quoting Proverbs 21:1, which I have shown to be a really bad example for reformed theology b/c it’s talking about a King, not all humanity. By the way, don’t all of us explain scripture away to support our view? Or are you exempt from this?

  28. Bryan L January 20, 2008 at 8:13 pm #

    “By the way, don’t all of us explain scripture away to support our view? Or are you exempt from this?”

    Dang, I thought for a second that I unknowingly posted this until I looked up and saw the name. ; )

  29. j razz January 20, 2008 at 10:55 pm #

    The Scripture says the “King’s” heart is, not everybody’s.
    The point I was buttressing is that God controls the king’s heart (as stated in scripture). This in turn affected the Babylonian destruction of Israel (as stated in scripture). There is no other way to take that if you want to hold to what scripture says and still be true to it.

    We all try to explain away the Scriptures brother, so I don’t know what your point is there.

    No. I do not try and I hope you don’t either. My goal (as well as what I suppose yours is) is to understand what scripture teaches and to make sense of the parts that seem contradictory. As for my point, you stated that God just knew their hearts but did not bring this about. Scripture does not support your conclusion. If it did, you would have to explain away the passages I have stated above. That was my point. Your hermeneutic was faulty. I think you took that as if I was talking down to you (I base that on your response to me) that is not how it was intended. It was just an observation based on your response.

    As for the King’s heart verses all of humanity’s hearts, let’s think about this for a minute. If it is understood that God can and will control the hearts of kings, why would it be any different for the rest of us? Would it not be logical to conclude that not only is this possible but also probable? I would say that this is also very likely given the fact that Romans 8, 9, 11, etc. and Ephesians made it into the Bible along with the account of Paul’s conversion.

    j razz

  30. Brett January 20, 2008 at 11:43 pm #

    J Razz,

    Your conclusions make absolutely no sense for a God who wants all the glory. Based on your conclusions, if God controls every heart and turns it wherever he will, then he would have all people love him, follow him and worship him. That’s what I don’t understand about you guys, if God has it all pre-determined and has everybody do what he wants them to do, then why for heaven’s sake is the world so screwed up? I’m curious? Why do old men rape young girls? Why is the sex-trade industry so rampant? Why are little babies murdered? Why do 35 year old fathers with 5 kids die? Why were my 2 friends brutally raped, shot, murdered, and burned last year?

    Are these parts of God’s will? According to you they are because nothing happens outside of God’s will, right?

    So, lets not universalize scripture when it speaks of King’s hearts and make that applicable to every individual on earth. I’m not saying God couldn’t do this, but it is obvious from scripture that he doesn’t. Also, from a reading of the OT we see that God doesn’t override the King’s freedom by accomplishing his purposes (though he could), but it’s by the events he causes to happen surrounding them and in turn he knows what their responses will be because he knows their hearts. Is their a possibility or a scenario where God possibly did override human freedom…possibly so, but this is certainly not the norm and does not happen all the time, every time.

    Ephesians 1 has nothing to do with this. As for Paul’s conversion, he could have been disobedient to Jesus’ command to go to the city of Damascus. The text states that Paul got up and the men with him led him to Damascus. The text never states Christ made Paul believe, nor that he made Paul obey him. The Lord had great plans for Paul, and praise God he was obedient to those commands. However, unfortunately it doesn’t always work out this way. God had great plans for Israel in the OT…they screwed it up. He had great plans for Saul as king…he screwed it up. He had great plans for security for David and his offspring…he screwed it up. The pattern we see is that God’s plans often depend on our obedience, and I’m sorry to say but we are not always obedient.

    The only way to explain theodicy (the goodness of God) and human suffering is by emphasizing human freedom, because if not, you make God the author and ordainer of sin…which he is not. He doesn’t cause all things to happen. This does not imply at all that God is not sovereign, because we see throughout scripture that he puts limits on what chaos can do, and for reasons unknown to us, allows evil to exist.

    Also, I don’t know the story well enough about the Babylonians to comment on it so I won’t try. I do know the ones about the Philistines and the accounts in Numbers, Judges, etc though and can’t imagine them being any different.

    Please familiarize yourself with biblical theology and read some good books on it. From reading your comments, you spend too much time in systematic textbooks…which is dangerous. I do not make that comment out of pride or arrogance (so please don’t take it that way), but from a brother who has been there to another brother, please consider it.

  31. j razz January 21, 2008 at 1:10 am #

    …if God controls every heart and turns it wherever he will, then he would have all people love him, follow him and worship him.

    You are assuming too much here. Scripture never makes this if/then statement that you are ascribing to God. Furthermore, the height of arrogance is to assume that since you would do A it is only safe to assume that God would do the same. Be careful with that line of thinking.

    if God has it all pre-determined and has everybody do what he wants them to do, then why for heaven’s sake is the world so screwed up?

    C.S. Lewis answers this question. D.A. Carson answers this question as does Piper along with others. I would advise you to read one of them. Carson deals with this in “How Long O Lord” and Piper deals with this here in regards to why God is sovereign and yet we are responsible.

    I’m not saying God couldn’t do this, but it is obvious from scripture that he doesn’t.

    If you are going to make such claims, you need to back them up with scripture and answer the scripture that I quoted and referenced above.

    Is their a possibility or a scenario where God possibly did override human freedom…possibly so, but this is certainly not the norm and does not happen all the time, every time.

    See the link I provided above concerning Piper. God does not over ride human freedome. We do what we most want to do and that is tied to our will. We do not have free will, but free agency (again, see previous post on this topic concerning free agency).

    Ephesians 1 has nothing to do with this.

    Would you care to comment as to how it has nothing to do with this? I will refrain from critiqueing the weaknesses in this type of answer. Instead I will refer you back to Ephesians 1.

    God had great plans for Israel in the OT…they screwed it up. He had great plans for Saul as king…he screwed it up. He had great plans for security for David and his offspring…he screwed it up.

    The book of Hebrews sheds some light on this subject (as does the whole of scripture). Adam was not able to do what pleased God. Isreal was to be an example to the nations and yet they failed as did numerous kings placed over Israel. All of this (from our vantage point) shows us a need for something that can satisfy God, namely Jesus. He fulfilled everything that God required and satisfied Him as God is/was well pleased in Him. At every point Israel and Adam failed, Jesus succeeded.

    The only way to explain theodicy (the goodness of God) and human suffering is by emphasizing human freedom, because if not, you make God the author and ordainer of sin…which he is not.

    That is not an accurate statement. For it to be accurate you would have to prove John Edwards wrong as well as John Piper, John Owen, and multiple others. Again, I will refer you to the above link concerning Piper.

    Also, I don’t know the story well enough about the Babylonians to comment on it so I won’t try.

    I would recommend then that you take the time to read this account and study it before passing judgement on it like you did a couple of posts previous and just making assumptions concerning the account. It is never good to argue points from ignorance (ignorance as in not knowing).

    Please familiarize yourself with biblical theology and read some good books on it. From reading your comments, you spend too much time in systematic textbooks…which is dangerous.

    I do my fair share of reading theology. Actually I have several bookshelves full of books that deal with theology. I own two syetematic theology books. I consult them from time to time but do not spend anywhere near the time in them that I spend in the Bible or reading other books on theology (theology is a God given love of mine). I would have to humbly say that your conclusion about me is wrong my friend.

    Have a good night and please consider why you are arguing for what you are arguing. Our goal should always be to allow scripture to shape our world view, not the other way around. I am not saying you are doing this, I am just asking you to check and make sure you know why you are discounting scripture that doesn’t fit your arguments.

    j razz

  32. Brett January 21, 2008 at 2:05 am #

    “You are assuming too much here. Scripture never makes this if/then statement that you are ascribing to God. Furthermore, the height of arrogance is to assume that since you would do A it is only safe to assume that God would do the same. Be careful with that line of thinking.”

    You did not get my point. I said that you all like to emphasize God getting glory and doing all things for his glory. If this were the case, then the way for him to get the most glory is for him to make all love him, praise him, worship him, etc. He doesn’t get glory by casting people to hell (you probably think he does, to which I would respond…show me in the text).

    “C.S. Lewis answers this question. D.A. Carson answers this question as does Piper along with others. I would advise you to read one of them. Carson deals with this in “How Long O Lord” and Piper deals with this here in regards to why God is sovereign and yet we are responsible.”

    I am familiar with what these people say (besides Lewis) and think it’s bogus. If God truly wants all the glory from all peoples, he would not ordain these horrific things to happen…period, and that is the bottom line.

    “If you are going to make such claims, you need to back them up with scripture and answer the scripture that I quoted and referenced above.”

    I absolutely refuse to get in a proof-text war with you or anybody else on here and think we can discuss theology without trumping one another with 50 proof-texts. As I said earlier, it is implied on nearly every page of the Bible. Does the book of Samuel ever say that God caused or foreordained David to sin by committing adultery with Bathesheba or having Uriah murdered because it was his perfect will? No, it doesn’t, and nowhere anywhere in the scriptures does it allude to this. David screwed up and reaped the consequences. I could reference 100 more stories, but will save the space because its so obvious that they don’t need referencing.

    “See the link I provided above concerning Piper. God does not over ride human freedome. We do what we most want to do and that is tied to our will. We do not have free will, but free agency (again, see previous post on this topic concerning free agency).”

    Free agency, free-will, it’s just semantics and a term you guys use because free-will frightens you. I’m not saying God is passive and doesn’t have a plan and works things out where that plan will be accomplished, because he does. It’s you saying he foreordains all things that come to pass that bothers me, because he doesn’t and a plain reading of scripture will clarify this.

    “Would you care to comment as to how it has nothing to do with this? I will refrain from critiqueing the weaknesses in this type of answer. Instead I will refer you back to Ephesians 1.”

    Ephesians 1 has to do with who we are in Christ. I don’t see how it pertains to God pre-determining all things that come to pass.

    “The book of Hebrews sheds some light on this subject (as does the whole of scripture). Adam was not able to do what pleased God. Isreal was to be an example to the nations and yet they failed as did numerous kings placed over Israel. All of this (from our vantage point) shows us a need for something that can satisfy God, namely Jesus. He fulfilled everything that God required and satisfied Him as God is/was well pleased in Him. At every point Israel and Adam failed, Jesus succeeded.”

    I don’t deny this one bit and say “amen” to you. However, you missed my point. I was saying God often has a plan and we often screw it up.

    “That is not an accurate statement. For it to be accurate you would have to prove John Edwards wrong as well as John Piper, John Owen, and multiple others. Again, I will refer you to the above link concerning Piper.”

    If I didn’t believe it were an accurate statement then I wouldn’t have said it. For it to be inaccurate John Piper, John Owen, John Edwards, and multiple others will have to prove me wrong because they have yet to do so far (and I have read them). So tell me, does God cause you to sin? Did he cause those people to rape, murder, and burn my friends? Do you believe God causes everything? If so, how in the world can you believe in God’s goodness, because according to that he is certainly not good, and that is the bottom line.

    “I would recommend then that you take the time to read this account and study it before passing judgement on it like you did a couple of posts previous and just making assumptions concerning the account. It is never good to argue points from ignorance (ignorance as in not knowing).”

    Point taken, however, you haven’t even referenced it for me so I’m beginning to think you don’t even know it. Also, I didn’t pass judgment on that passage, but the OT passages as a whole concerning Yahweh using other nations to judge opposing nations, so your argument is faulty. You haven’t even answered my earlier question…tell me where in the text it says God foreordained these things to happen, tell me where it says God caused these things to happen. He may have allowed it for an act of judgment, but pancausality is a bit far-fetched and you have yet to give me proof of this.

    “I do my fair share of reading theology. Actually I have several bookshelves full of books that deal with theology. I own two syetematic theology books. I consult them from time to time but do not spend anywhere near the time in them that I spend in the Bible or reading other books on theology (theology is a God given love of mine). I would have to humbly say that your conclusion about me is wrong my friend.

    Have a good night and please consider why you are arguing for what you are arguing. Our goal should always be to allow scripture to shape our world view, not the other way around. I am not saying you are doing this, I am just asking you to check and make sure you know why you are discounting scripture that doesn’t fit your arguments.”

    I’m thrilled that my conclusion about you is wrong, however, you didn’t address my point of diving into biblical theology as opposed to systematics (or other theology books about, e.g. soteriology, anthropology, etc). Brevard Childs is a good place to start.

    And I am by no means discounting scripture that doesn’t fit my arguments. I don’t know why you keep making me look like this because if anything I am trying to look at scripture canonically as opposed to isolated texts like you do. I could bring up 50 proof-texts that are contradictory to the reformed systems way of thinking within an hour and wait for your response, then after you respond I could say the exact same thing about you so for you to pass that judgment upon me is a bit unfair.

    I do not belong or ascribe to any particular “system” of theology, regardless of what label you slap on me. I am not a self-proclaimed Arminian, Pelagian, Wesleyan, fill in the blank. I am just a biblical exegete/theologian who is trying to make sense of God’s canon he has preserved from us, and I refuse to do it through the eyes of the Westminster Catechism, John Piper, Wayne Grudem, Johnathan Edwards, B.B. Warfield, etc. I read these people, contrary to what you probably think, and have found their system and conclusions faulty and not standing against the biblical evidence. You’re the one defending the system, thus discounting the texts which go against your system’s view of God and do not fit your arguments, and I am resisting the urge to rattle off 5 proof-texts here.

    It’s good to dialogue with you, because it helps both of us make sense of why we believe what we believe (iron sharpening iron). God bless you

  33. Kevin J January 21, 2008 at 10:32 am #

    Brett:

    “God had great plans for Israel in the OT…they screwed it up. He had great plans for Saul as king…he screwed it up. He had great plans for security for David and his offspring…he screwed it up.”

    Brett,

    Since all of these OT people “screwed up” God’s plans what has changed? Is God just trying and trying just hoping for someone to finally not screw things up?

    Would this not allow the person(s) who did not screw things up to BOAST in God’s presence and the presence of those who have screwed things up?

    It seems to me that we (in general) have lost the true meaning of grace as described in Ephesians 2:8-9. If you are right Brett then those who “do NOT screw things up COULD BOAST” and their “NOT screwing things up” would NOT be by grace but by their own works.

  34. Kevin J January 21, 2008 at 11:33 am #

    Brett,

    I understand the struggle you are having with reconciling God’s sovereignty and the wickedness of mankind. It is very hard and humanly impossible to believe that God could allow such evil in this world (i.e. rape, murder, etc…). In other words, if God IS in complete control then why would He allow (or in your eyes, cause) such things to happen?

    These are very difficult questions to answer and I have struggled with them as well. It appears that we have 2 choices:

    1. God is not in complete control, designs a plan for mankind & we do not follow his plan and thus we cause and control the wickedness in the world.

    2. God is in complete control and all actions of man are in his plan.

    As I see it, option #2 is more in line with the Bible but not with my “rational and humanistic” thinking. You asked “Does God cause people to sin?”. I do not see anywhere Biblically that says God “causes” people to sin but I do see where He “hands them over” to their wickedness in Romans chapter 1. Could God have kep this from happening? Of course. He could have also not allowed Satan to enter the world and tempt Eve.

    I offer this suggestion:

    Read the New Testament from Matthew thru Revelation and mark the areas relating to evil as well as God’s control.

    Ask God to clear away any preconceptions (we all have them) and guide you into the truth (as was promised that the Holy Spirit would do)

    This should take a while. I will pray for you as well (if you want me to).

    God bless you and may He grant you more grace,

    Kevin

  35. j razz January 21, 2008 at 12:19 pm #

    Point taken, however, you haven’t even referenced it for me so I’m beginning to think you don’t even know it.

    I provided a citation above when I spoke of this passage. See below.
    Also what do you do of the pharoah? What do you do with the OT passage that states God will use the Babylonians as His instrument of judgement (like a hammer) and exact that judgement on Israel and in the very next breath God says that the Babylonians are doing exactly what they want to do and will be held accountable for it? (Hab. 2.1-17; Jer. 51.20 ff)

    Look at the Jeremiah reference for the Babylonian reference you said I did not provide.

    I said that you all like to emphasize God getting glory and doing all things for his glory. If this were the case, then the way for him to get the most glory is for him to make all love him, praise him, worship him, etc. He doesn’t get glory by casting people to hell (you probably think he does, to which I would respond…show me in the text).

    Again, you assume too much by saying this is how God gets the most glory. Scripture does not take the view you do or else God would do it that way. He does not. Take a look at Lamentations 3.33. According the the Hebrew, it should read “from the heart”, not “willingly”. God does not afflict “from the heart”. This should tell us that He does things He might not like but apparently the things He does is for a higher purpose (I would propose that higher purpose is His glory).

    I will leave you with those thoughts.

    j razz

  36. Kevin J January 21, 2008 at 12:34 pm #

    Romans 9:6 – 24 (ESV) 6 But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, 7 and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring, but“Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” 8 This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring. 9 For this is what the promise said: “About this time next year I will return and Sarah shall have a son.” 10 And not only so, but also when Rebecca had conceived children by one man, our forefather Isaac, 11 though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad—in order that God’s purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of his call— 12 she was told, £“The older will serve the younger.” 13 As it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.” 14 What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means! 15 For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” 16 So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. 17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” 18 So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills. 19 You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?” 20 But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” 21 Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honored use and another for dishonorable use? 22 What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, 23 in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory— 24even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles?

    I think vs. 22-24 have an answer about why God allows evil people to stay evil.

  37. mike January 21, 2008 at 2:11 pm #

    Brett,
    Due to all of the comments, this has gotten almost to the point where it is out of hand.
    I am sorry but I am not going to defend what I have written. I think that it would be a huge waste of time for all concerned.
    All I am trying to do is find out what it is that makes you tick. No, I dont agree with your theological position, however I do want to know what this “new teaching” is that you are proclaiming.
    If you dont mind, please answer the following questions if you have time.
    To better understand you, I will have to ask the following questions:
    1. What do you mean by listening more to Augustine than Gen 3?
    2. What is in Gen 3 that should totally change my theology?
    3. You said that we have the “potential to be very good. . . it’s just that sin is a problem”. Should you have used the word had instead of have?
    4. If not why?
    5. Do you think that we now have potential to be good?
    6. Where does this goodness come from?
    7. “Sin and humanity are 2 different things, and they are not fused together.”—sorry hermano, no comprendo. Please explain.
    8. Where do you believe that sin came from?
    9. Please briefly describe your view of the Bible.
    10 What degree of seperation do you believe the fall has left us in?
    11 What do you mean by there is no evidence of people not believing this way prior to Augustine?
    Take care,
    mike

  38. mike January 21, 2008 at 2:21 pm #

    Sorry to be redundant redundant.

  39. Brett January 21, 2008 at 3:30 pm #

    Hey Mike, wow, lots of questions. I’m not proclaiming any kind of “new teaching” and what I say is standard amongst some circles and is not far off from authors like John Goldingay, Terence Fretheim, Walter Brueggemann, James Dunn, and a few others.

    As far as how we Westerners think, it’s easy just to slap a label on somebody and think we have them figured out…however, that is pedantic and immature and I refuse to label myself because I believe many “systems” have positives and negatives.

    Also, please keep in mind that my theology is not static. It is very dynamic because I am fairly new to the field and couldn’t write you a 15-point doctrinal statement about what I definitely believe with any certainty apart from a few core doctrines. With that in mind, I’ll try to answer your questions. It seems like they’re all basically about the Augustinian view of original sin, which for some reason reformed people hold on to like it’s the difference between saved and not saved.

    “1. What do you mean by listening more to Augustine than Gen 3?”

    The Augustinian view of original sin says that once Adam ate the fruit from the tree, human nature changed constitutionally and became deformed and corrupted. Therefore, every human being born since Adam now has from the moment of conception a corrupt sinful nature that is passed on by the semen of mankind. This is why Augustine and the Reformers had such an emphasis on infant baptism and thought babies went to hell when they died. However, when we look at the life of Augustine we see that his view of anthropology and soteriology was based largely upon his own salvation experience (which is subjective for all) and not rooted in the scriptures. Also, in his past he was Manicheistic which is a form of Gnosticism which believes all humanity is evil, bad, corrupt, etc. However Mike, read Genesis 3 and tell me where in the world it says that man is cursed…it doesn’t! Just like it never says the snake was satan but rather one of the creatures Yahweh had made. How in the world you can get the doctrine of original sin from Genesis 3 is beyond me, because this doctrine claims man is cursed and feel from immortality…which he never did.

    “2. What is in Gen 3 that should totally change my theology?”

    Genesis 3 seeks to describe how sin came into the world, not how it changed our offspring. We all need Jesus, don’t get me wrong, because we have all sinned. But we’re not born this way which Augustine claims, and we don’t have to baptize babies to ride them of their sinful nature. Paul never even uses the term “sinful nature” but rather “flesh” (sarx). Genesis 3 should warn us to follow God or we will reap consequences.

    “3. You said that we have the “potential to be very good. . . it’s just that sin is a problem”. Should you have used the word had instead of have?”

    No, we “have” the potential to be very good if we obey God and follow his commands and submit ourself to Christ. Humanity can also do good things without God (see the example of the soldier with the grenade above), we have always had that potential but our flesh is weak and often times we submit to that more than God. To say that Adam and Even had free will and then screwed it up for us is completely ridiculous because it can’t be found in the text. This is where we’ve listened to Augustine and Calvin more than the Bible. Genesis 3 never states human nature was changed constitutionally and we were born innocent as Adam and Eve were created innocent. However, we’re born into a sinful world, thus sin is inevitable.

    “4. If not why?”

    I answered that above

    “5. Do you think that we now have potential to be good?”

    Yes I do, I’ve explained myself above. We are not born evil, wicked people. We learn to be like this

    “6. Where does this goodness come from?”

    It comes from freedom given to us by our Creator. He didn’t create evil people, but created man and woman and saw that “it was very good”. We’re not puppets or robots either and now since we have the Spirit we have no excuse to behave as wicked as the people in the OT did because he is our helper. Being good doesn’t come naturally, but must be learned. God didn’t create us where being good could come automatically because he wants us to love and follow him by learning about it and not automatically because anything else wouldn’t be true love.

    “7. “Sin and humanity are 2 different things, and they are not fused together.”—sorry hermano, no comprendo. Please explain.”

    We did to fuse humanity and sin together. When we think of the word “human” we often think of the word “sin” or “sinful” as well. This is a mistake because God did not create sin or sinful creatures. Sin is a totally separate concept from humanity. Sin is the problem we have in the world, not humanity.

    “8. Where do you believe that sin came from?”

    Sin originated in the Garden of Eden and the Bible is clear about that. It didn’t come from God, and it’s not in our DNA. If you read Genesis 1-11 you will see that it makes no mention of sin changing humanity constitutionally. I don’t know what your point is about this question.

    “9. Please briefly describe your view of the Bible.”

    The Bible is God’s inspired word to humanity that should dictate the way we live. We should not take it woodenly literal at all times, and we should not seek to allegorize it at all times. It is all contextualized and we should seek to understand and know that context so we can apply appropriately in our own context. I have the highest respect possible for the Bible.

    “10 What degree of seperation do you believe the fall has left us in?”

    The fall caused sin to enter the world so it has a big effect on us. However, it didn’t separate us from God any more than Adam and Eve were separated from God. This is what I don’t understand, if God created humanity perfect and immortal and without a sinful nature, then why is there an urge in Adam and Eve to be “like God” and disobey him? The logic doesn’t follow at all. Adam and Eve were just as prone to sin and we are and there is no difference in their nature pre-fall than there is in ours post-fall. The fact that they sinned and disobeyed God and wanted to be like him proves this point. I’ve never heard this reconciled by reformed folk because the logic is completely whack. They had the same urges and tendencies we have and God wanted them to obey him as he wants us to.

    “11 What do you mean by there is no evidence of people not believing this way prior to Augustine?”

    I mean there is no proof of any church history fathers with these thoughts prior to Augustine. That is why Augustine’s name is always attached to this doctrine because he formulated it. Also, antiquity is not the answer to our doctrinal problems. The Song of Solomon was interpreted as being about Christ in the church until a hundred years ago, and the parables were interpreted allegorically until the middle ages. Does that mean that since the early church fathers believed this way then we have to? The logic doesn’t follow for those who say stuff like “if it’s new it ain’t true and if it’s true it ain’t new”. We think that somehow Augustine, Anselm, Luther, Calvin, and Edwards figured it all out for us and now all we have to do is read them, adopt their theology, and we’re “orthodox”. This is insane and I refuse to read these guys, or any author, without a critical mind and without knowing the context they lived in. Tell me where in the Bible does is say that we are born sinners? Tell me where it says from the moment of conception we are sinful, wicked people. And don’t quote Psalm 51 because this is poetry and David is expressing great anguish after having committed adultery with Bathesheba and murdering Uriah, so of course he’s going to talk like this and poetry is not the theological genre of literature.

    Where in the Bible does it say this? Where does it give an accurate description of the Augustinian fall? Where does it say we fell from immortality and became corrupt and distorted, wicked and evil by birth? I’m curious to know.

  40. mike January 22, 2008 at 12:40 pm #

    Brett,

    This will have to be my last reply simply because school is starting and I have to keep my priorities straight. Please know that I would love to continue with this conversation.

    1. Pertaining to question 1, you will have to show me how the Augustinian view is incorrect. You can give me proof texts, themes, what ever you want.

    I guess that I am not following you. You stated “However Mike, read Genesis 3 and tell me where in the world it says that man is cursed…it doesn’t!”
    Of course it doesnt say that Brett. I dont see your point. It does say it in other places in the Bible, for instance Dt 28:15-, Gal 3.
    Then you said ” Just like it never says the snake was satan but rather one of the creatures Yahweh had made.” What do you do with verses like Rev 12:9 and 20:2?
    I still dont get your point. Sorry.

    2 You wrote “No, we “have” the potential to be very good if we obey God and follow his commands and submit ourself to Christ.”
    I assume that you mean post conversion. If this is not what you mean then I ask again in a clearer manner. Do we have potential for goodness prior to conversion? If we do then why would we need Christ?

    3 Brett this is getting very confusing so please be patient. In response to this question “Where does this goodness come from?” you wrote “it comes from freedom given to us by our Creator.”
    Does this mean that goodness comes from freedom? Does it mean that freedom created goodness or flows out of freedom?
    The rest of your answer to no. 6 is making my head swim. It seems that you are not making distinct lines that seperate pre conversion and post conversion. The blending of these appear to be taking place. I just do not have the time to pick through this and try to understand what you are saying (which may not be any fault of your own). I would love to try and understand you. I just wish I had more time.

    In answer to my question of the following statement “Sin and humanity are 2 different things, and they are not fused together”, it only served to befuddle me more. What is the relationship of sin and man if man does not have a sinful nature?
    It sounds like man has a way to God if he could only get rid of his sin (as in outside of the atonement).

    You still never answered this question “8. Where do you believe that sin came from?”

    Cocnerning question 9 I should have been more specific. Let me ask the following-Do you believe that Scripture is infallible, inerrant and sufficient?

    Your answer to no. 10 sounds like there isnt a need for Christ. Plus, in reference to reformed theology, you havent apparently dealt with where sin came from either. You still are not stating where it came from.

    Respectfully Brett, even though I only have 10 hrs of seminary credit and have only been studying God’s Word since 2000, I think that I can say with confidence that your argument for 11 is lacking.
    I would say that Paul held this very view, the view that Augustine and company held. You have more explaining than these guys because they went to the Scriptures to prove their point. They used “proof texts” to back up their theology.

    How do you explain away the “proof texts” that Jesus quoted from the Old Testament?

    Brett, just because something is a poem does not make it not true. Just because it is a poem of anguish does not make it not true.

    Though I strongly disagree with you on most points, I appreciate your time and effort. It would be best if we could meet of a cup of coffee or even a series of meetings to even be able to understand one another. Since that is not possible (unless you reside in F.W.) this will be the best that it gets.

    Take care and God bless. May He always, in His providence, watch over you and protect you and may your heart delight in His wonder and great worth.
    mike

  41. Brett January 23, 2008 at 12:32 am #

    Mike,

    I’ve tried to do the best I could brother. You should take a look at the context of the texts you referenced in regarding to humanity being cursed after eating the fruit in the garden. It’s really okay to say that no text states this because in reality that is the truth.

    There’s a difference in believing something because you can prove it from the text and believing something because it’s what popular church history fathers and modern pastors believe. I always want to be a man of the text and always be truthful to it. Propositional statements simply do not cut it and do not wrap up the whole essence and character of God.

    We should all seek people in our lives who view the biblical text differently than we do, whether it be their race, gender, age, denomination, or theology. This helps us all see where others come from and learn from our brothers and sisters. I hope that is what has taken place here.

    In other words, don’t spend all your time reading and listening to everybody you agree with. Don’t always read Piper, Edwards, Augustine, Calvin, Luther, Warfield, Owen, etc. Instead, start reading other guys, not with the purpose of refuting them and having your mind made up beforehand that you are going to disagree with everything they say. One huge problem we make in conservative evangelicalism is we never read anybody outside of that sphere, and when we do it’s to show how wrong they are and how right we are. In doing so we are depriving ourselves of learning more about God because there is not one “system”, catechism, or doctrinal statement that has wrapped it up.

    Take care my brothers

  42. Kevin J January 23, 2008 at 9:22 am #

    Brett:

    “One huge problem we make in conservative evangelicalism is we never read anybody outside of that sphere, and when we do it’s to show how wrong they are and how right we are.”

    I believe you are making a huge generalization here and it is a false preconception.

    I was a “partial-Arminian” (still believed in Eternal Security) until about 10 months ago. I heard John Piper preaching on the radio and he was saying things that were “strange” to me. At that time I had NO CLUE what a “Calvinist” was…all I knew was that I was drawn to Piper’s preaching and actually remembered their website address until I got home (a first for me to actually remember the address). I began downloading all of the sermons on Romans and listening to them while driving and delivering pizzas (my family was going thru very hard financial times). I listened to them and searched the bible for myself to see if what he was saying is “so”. It took 7-8 months of A LOT of listening, prayer, meditation and tears before my “man-centered” world came crumbling down and was built back up into a God-centered worldview. NOTHING has been sweeter and changed my life for the better. This change in my Biblical-worldview has revolutionized my battle with sin (I was previously addicted to pornography and gambling) and temptation.

    I tell you this brothers…if the “calvinistic” worldview is not biblical but demonic then Satans kingdom is divided agains itself. The “calvinistic” worldview IS what is helping me be succesful in mortifying the deeds of my flesh.

    We all need to rid of preconceived ideas and search the bible for the Truth.

  43. j razz January 23, 2008 at 9:42 am #

    Brett,

    You still have yet to respond to post 37 above. I was unsure if you just overlooked it or if you were through with our conversation.

    j razz

  44. Kevin J January 23, 2008 at 9:55 am #

    Denny,

    My last comment dropped off. I think sue to saying por-n-ography. Can you find it for me?

  45. Brett January 23, 2008 at 1:15 pm #

    J Razz,

    I didn’t answer because it seems like you are reading selectively. Even though I said you didn’t provide the references (which you did…my mistake), my point was that in the OT passages I have knowledge of where God uses other nations as an instrument to judge other nations, they never say God “made” or “caused” them to do it. Even in the passages you referenced. You never answered my question as to whether the text says “God made them” do it or “God caused them” to do it.

    Also, Scripture is clear that God gets glory when people obey him and acknowledge him. Sometimes an act of judgment triggers this. Thus, for you to say it’s arrogant by me saying this is very near-sighted. Also, it never says the higher purpose is for God’s glory, so you’re reading things into the text which aren’t there. I don’t mind you saying and emphasizing God’s glory, as long as you acknowledge that God does it to better his people as well.

  46. Brett January 23, 2008 at 1:19 pm #

    Kevin,

    I”m glad the Lord has healed you of these problems and you attribute it to this theological paradigm. However, I know some people who were the exact opposite from you, claiming that they were doing evil things because God ordained them and it was his will. I also know people who have become extremely depressed by adopting this theological paradigm of always being happy and “trusting in God’s sovereignty”.

  47. Lucas Knisely January 23, 2008 at 2:47 pm #

    Brett,

    On the subject of Gen 3, you said a few things:

    “Paul never even uses the term “sinful nature” but rather “flesh” (sarx).”

    “read Genesis 3 and tell me where in the world it says that man is cursed…it doesn’t!

    2 things in response to this.
    1st
    Ephesians 2:3
    among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.

    This is Paul, and he plainly lays out our nature prior to being in Christ.

    2nd
    Genesis is plain that death is the consequence of sin entering the world. Infants die in the womb and sometimes shortly after birth. What would you blame this on? If they aren’t born as sinners, then why do they suffer from consequence of sin entering the world?

    And Paul talks about this:

    Romans 5:12
    12 Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned

    I’m not really sure how you can reconcile your position with this passage. Because you say this:

    “Genesis 3 seeks to describe how sin came into the world, not how it changed our offspring. We all need Jesus, don’t get me wrong, because we have all sinned. But we’re not born this way which Augustine claims, and we don’t have to baptize babies to ride them of their sinful nature.”

    I agree, we don’t have to baptize babies, and that is an entirely different discussion. But how can you claim we aren’t born sinners? And what passages do you use to back this up? Arguing from silence isn’t the most persuasive way to convince someone of your position.

    You also said this:
    “No, we “have” the potential to be very good if we obey God and follow his commands and submit ourself to Christ. Humanity can also do good things without God”

    You back this up with an example and not Scripture. The Bible addresses this in a few ways:

    Isaiah 45:7
    I form light and create darkness,
    I make well-being and create calamity,
    I am the Lord, who does all these things.

    1 Samuel 2:6-7
    6 The Lord kills and brings to life;
    he brings down to Sheol and raises up.
    7 The Lord makes poor and makes rich;
    he brings low and he exalts.

    God is taking credit for all things. An example isn’t enough to back up your point.

    I could continue to copy and paste parts of the Bible that clearly show your position to be lacking, but I feel enough has been said already. I only put these few verses up with the hope that you are edified and corrected. You say the rest of us are allowing Augustine and other theologians to influence us and that you just use the Bible to form your views. Yet one of your main points about us having the potential to do “good” is backed by an example and not the Bible.

  48. j razz January 23, 2008 at 3:38 pm #

    …my point was that in the OT passages I have knowledge of where God uses other nations as an instrument to judge other nations, they never say God “made” or “caused” them to do it. Even in the passages you referenced. You never answered my question as to whether the text says “God made them” do it or “God caused them” to do it.

    See the Biblical text I referenced below. Notice that he calls the Babylonians (see the context to know it is them) his war-club (they are God’s weapon). Now notice who it is doing the action. Is it the Babylonians or is it God? Look at the text.

    You say I read selectively, but you cannot ignore what scripture says because it does not fit the other passages you know. It should be the contrary. If you know where in scripture God is the one doing the action, it would be more logical to infer that He is doing the action in the other passages moreso than it would be to conclude that this portion of scripture is wrong. Besides that, I don’t know how else you could take it. It cannot be explained away.

    20He says, “You are My war-club, My weapon of war;
    And with you I shatter nations,
    And with you I destroy kingdoms.
    21″With you I shatter the horse and his rider,
    And with you I shatter the chariot and its rider,
    22And with you I shatter man and woman,
    And with you I shatter old man and youth,
    And with you I shatter young man and virgin,
    23And with you I shatter the shepherd and his flock,
    And with you I shatter the farmer and his team,
    And with you I shatter governors and prefects.
    24″But I will repay Babylon and all the inhabitants of Chaldea for all their evil that they have done in Zion before your eyes,” declares the LORD.
    25″Behold, I am against you, O destroying mountain,
    Who destroys the whole earth,” declares the LORD,
    “And I will stretch out My hand against you,
    And roll you down from the crags,
    And I will make you a burnt out mountain.
    26″They will not take from you even a stone for a corner
    Nor a stone for foundations,
    But you will be desolate forever,” declares the LORD.

    Also, Scripture is clear that God gets glory when people obey him and acknowledge him. Sometimes an act of judgment triggers this. Thus, for you to say it’s arrogant by me saying this is very near-sighted.

    Scripture is also clear that God gets the glory when people do not obey Him and do not acknowledge Him. All things work for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. All things. So, I do agree that God works all things for those He has called to Himself.

    j razz

  49. Brett January 23, 2008 at 3:44 pm #

    Lucas,

    You have really, really poor hermeneutics (like most reformed people) because you take isolated texts without taking their context into account and you elevate them to a universal status somehow suggesting they’re always true, everywhere, anytime, any place. This is simply a mistake.

    In fact, you’re argument is so weak that I will not choose to address it because I think I’ve shared enough of those thoughts on here about issues you brought up. What it boils down to is that we have a misunderstanding of Paul and the use of his terms, and we trump our misunderstanding of Paul onto OT passages like you have just demonstrated. Very, very dangerous, where some very, very bad theology can come as a result. It’s not that I have a truck load of proof-texts to defend my thoughts of us not coming out of the womb sinners, it’s the lack of proof-texts on your part that never, ever suggest it. Also, you’re OT proof-texts to make your point are horrendous examples. Also, do you never use real-life examples to make your point? Not a very strong argument. I don’t want you to copy and paste isolated verses from your Bible to me, I want you to learn your Bible and develop your theology from it canonically. Keep wrestling with it.

  50. Brett January 23, 2008 at 5:04 pm #

    J Razz,

    Does the text ever state that God caused them to do this? Does it ever state that he made them do it? God was using them as his “warclub” in the sense that he used them to carry out his judgment, something I never denied. This doesn’t mean they were mindless idiots who let God control their actions, it means God used them and their sinful ways to bring judgment. Again, you have not answered my question, and not provided textual support for it.

  51. Brett January 23, 2008 at 5:07 pm #

    Also, does it please God to send people to hell? Does it please him to judge other nations by destroying them? Is he happy about this and delight in doing this?

    What you have is an American portrayal of God and not a biblical one.

  52. j razz January 23, 2008 at 5:38 pm #

    This doesn’t mean they were mindless idiots who let God control their actions, it means God used them and their sinful ways to bring judgment.

    I never said they were and never will I as scripture does not support such a claim. Neither does reformed theology.

    And in actuality this is what you first stated concerning this passage and I answered it numerous times: He may have allowed it for an act of judgment, but pancausality is a bit far-fetched and you have yet to give me proof of this. Your statement/question has since changed.

    So, according to your reading of the text then, you is the one bringing about the judgement? Who is the one swinging the war-club? Who is the one destroying?

    God created them and they did exactly what they most wanted to do (not contrary to their will) and that is why God pronounced judgement on them for their actions in that very same passage.

    Also, does it please God to send people to hell? Does it please him to judge other nations by destroying them? Is he happy about this and delight in doing this?

    Please read the Lamentations 3.33 link I provided in a previous post (37) as well as the accompanying commentary I provided for you.

    I believe I will end this discussion here as there have been numerous charges presented to you from scripture and you refuse to put forth scripture to prove your points. Sola Scriptura my friend. May God open your eyes and may we both grow in grace and obedience to the Lord.

    j razz

  53. Brett January 23, 2008 at 5:56 pm #

    “I believe I will end this discussion here as there have been numerous charges presented to you from scripture and you refuse to put forth scripture to prove your points. Sola Scriptura my friend. May God open your eyes and may we both grow in grace and obedience to the Lord.”

    Typical response from your kind. I live by “sola scriptura” and have proven that, but you live by “sola Piper, Calvin, Augustine, Luther, Westminster Catechism, reformed theology”. You haven’t proven anything other than the fact that you have bad hermeneutics. I have provided scriptural support, and have refuted yours. You’re right, we need to end this because we are getting nowhere anymore. Nice speaking with you

  54. Lucas Knisely January 23, 2008 at 7:54 pm #

    So if someone finds verses that refute your position you tell them they have, “bad hermeneutics” and tell them they are misunderstanding the passage? Come on man!

    Brother, if I come off like a light weight, it’s because I’m trying to be humble. But that doesn’t mean you can belittle me the way you did. I am seeking Christ’s glory through this discussion, but you are making it really hard to stay civil. In fact this very response just got cut short. I hope you think about the way you treated me and generalized others in this discussion, because it wasn’t very charitable.

  55. Kevin J January 23, 2008 at 11:48 pm #

    The way I see it, if there seem to be 2 contradictory teachings in the Bible, the Bible does not need fixing…my thought categories need fixing. I see no problem with the supposed “free will” proof texts and the sovereign God proof texts being in total agreement with each other.

    We do have a “free” will before being drawn to God by His Holy Spirit. Our will is always “free” to do what we want to do. The problem is that our “want to” is captured by Satan prior to God’s effectual calling and granting of repentance to a spiritually captive sinner (2 Tim. 2:25). We are “free” to sin but nowhere do I see proof that we are neutral moral agents with a total freedom to choose God or sin.

    When we are effectually called by God and “saved” then we are no longer spiritually dead and then we become SLAVES to righteousness (Romans 6). So then…are we EVER totally “free”…not as I see it.

  56. Brett January 24, 2008 at 1:58 am #

    Lucas,

    I’m sorry for treating you wrong. Even though it doesn’t justify it, I only tried to speak to you guys like I thought I was being spoken to. I understand that some of the stuff I am saying is offensive to you guys. Thus, I expect some anger and frustration because you seldom have people in your lives who think outside the box and the neat little system you have God packaged in.

    However, in doing that I did not treat you all how I wanted to be treated, and I did not bless those who were seemingly cursing me (though I know you didn’t curse me, you just implied I was a whacko who wasn’t reading the Bible right). So my apologies to you guys for saying some of the things in the manner I said them.

    I just find it difficult as to how I’m supposed to behave, because I used to be in your shoes, believing the exact same way you did, going to an ultra-conservative right-wing reformed southern Baptist church. Then I find this ultra-conservative, right-wing Republican, Calvinstic blog full of you guys and just want to communicate that this is not all their is. I want to help you see that there is more to the Bible and theology than your system, however right you think it is. I guess in trying to reach my objective I went a little overboard and became hostile because I thought you were defending the system more than you were defending the scriptures.

    So I’m sorry, my brothers, and hope we can discuss theological (or whatever else) matters again some time.

  57. Kevin J January 24, 2008 at 11:06 am #

    Brett,

    The reformed system did not heal me of my addiction. God did.

    After being delivered my eyes were opened to see the scriptures in all of their glory. I was able to understand (with the help of great expositors) passages of scripture that I used to just glance over. It has been a wonderful liberating experience. I did not gain a conviction about the doctrines of grace until about 10 months after God delivered me from my addictions. This conviction has helped me maintain freedom from falling back into those addictions.

    You said:

    “However, I know some people who were the exact opposite from you, claiming that they were doing evil things because God ordained them and it was his will. I also know people who have become extremely depressed by adopting this theological paradigm of always being happy and “trusting in God’s sovereignty”.”

    To claim that God “made” you do something evil is evil in itself and not biblical…these people were either ignorant or not truly born again. Also, I can not understand how a comforting doctrine like God’s sovereignty can make a person get depressed – unless they want to be in control and are mad because they know that they are not. I know that God works all things out for my good and that is comforting to me. God bless!

  58. mike January 25, 2008 at 11:54 am #

    Brett,
    I said that I would bow out of this conversation and fully intended to. However the urge to see what was still being said overcame me and here I am :).
    Again, I want to stress before begining that this letter is being written in brotherly love. Please do not take it any other way.
    I appreciate the measure of humility that you have apparently shown. I hope that it continues.
    Also I would like to suggest that you study exactly what Calvinists believe. Honestly and respectfully, you do not know what you are talking about when it comes to the Doctrines of Grace. You continually build straw men and tear them down. As my grandfather used to say, “You have no more idea what I am talking about than a big eyed bird” 😉 🙂
    I would like to suggest that you continue in your humility and study these things so that when you do enter a “Calvinist” blog you might be better prepared to join in.
    As stated earlier, I do not care if you become a Calvinist or not. That is up to you–or should I say up to God ;). If you want to be intillectually honest with yourself and others, it is best that you understand your “opponents” view.
    Again, when you enter a “Calvinist” blog like this one and start telling people what they believe, when you in fact really dont know what they believe, you come off looking superior, arrogant and in all honesty. . . you look silly; you loose credibility.
    I would suggest that you listen to the ones that you blast. Be humble. You might learn something.
    Again, I wish that I had time to visit with you. I am sure that you are passionate about what you believe. I would like to know the grounds on which your theology is built because it appears to be just as “slippery as a greased pig” (ya Im a country hillbilly redneck). It appears that it is one that is unable to be grasped.
    I pray that your weekend goes well and that His smiling face shines on you.
    mike

  59. Nate January 28, 2008 at 7:32 pm #

    The Baptist Faith and Message is a confession, much different from a creed. In light of that, I have no problem calling myself a Southern Baptist and yet hold to the Doctrines of Grace.

  60. Brett January 28, 2008 at 8:49 pm #

    You guys are so funny. You honestly don’t think I believe in grace? You’ve got to be kidding me. You don’t have to be Calvinistic and reformed to believe in the “doctrines of Grace”. Unbelievable.

  61. Lucas Knisely January 28, 2008 at 11:28 pm #

    Brett,

    You keep giving yourself away.

    For your edification:
    Click me
    click me too

  62. Lucas Knisely January 28, 2008 at 11:30 pm #

    Woops… apparently Denny doesn’t allow url codes.

    2 links:

    http://www.grace.org.uk/faith/calvin.html

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special:Search?search=doctrines+of+grace&go=Go

  63. j razz January 29, 2008 at 4:10 pm #

    Here is a great synopsis of the Doctrines of Grace.

    j razz

  64. Brett January 29, 2008 at 5:12 pm #

    Lucas,

    I’m giving myself away huh? Forgive me for not knowing that a synonymous term for the 5 points of Calvinism or “TULIP” is the “Doctrines of Grace”. Actually, that title is totally misleading because limited atonement is not very gracious to the ones who aren’t “chosen”.

    I’m not some idiot in high school who has just stumbled upon this heretical doctrine. On the contrary, I used to hold to it for years until I started viewing the text canonically as opposed to in isolation. It’s a shame you all actually think it’s “orthodox”.

  65. Lucas Knisely January 29, 2008 at 10:20 pm #

    For someone who held to it for such a long time, you seem to know very little about it.

  66. Brett January 29, 2008 at 10:54 pm #

    It’s not very difficult to understand. I didn’t know you were such an expert in the field.

  67. Lucas Knisely January 30, 2008 at 8:05 am #

    The only person claiming any level of expertise here is you, Brett. How many times have you held up the flag that says “I was a Calvinist for years”?.

    If you don’t know that many people refer to Calvinism as “The Doctrines of Grace”, then as I said already, you seem to know very little about Calvinism. And since most of your objections sound like the common knee jerk reactions of people who haven’t studied it, this again makes it seem as though you know very little about the 5 points of Calvinism.

    If I’m wrong, and you know a lot about Calvinism, then you did a poor job showing that in this discussion.

  68. mike January 30, 2008 at 11:21 am #

    Brett,
    I am not being defensive when I write this and am not attacking you at all. I am still curious as to why you believe some of the things that you believe.
    Please explain what you believe The Doctrines of Grace and especially Limited Atonement teaches.
    As well, I would like for you to explain why you feel that you are able to refer to people who hold to the 5 points as unorthodox.
    Thanks amigo,
    mike

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