Thinking Out Loud

June 2, 2012

Southern Baptists Affirm Non-Calvinist Distinctives

Apparently, this blogger isn’t the only one concerned with the way New Calvinist media — especially books and blogs — are dominating mainstream Evangelicalism.  On Thursday,

“A group of current and former Southern Baptist leaders has signed a statement affirming what they call the “traditional Southern Baptist” understanding of the doctrine of salvation, with the goal of drawing a distinction with the beliefs of “New Calvinism.”

“The statement was posted May 31 at SBCToday.com and includes a preamble and 10 articles…”

The suggestion is that New Calvinism — or what I’ve referred to on this blog as militant Calvinism –  is aggressively infiltrating Baptist thought in order to become the default doctrine.  On a personal level, I’ve seen it happen here in Canada where Baptist bloggers have so strongly identified with the writings of YRR (Young, Restless and Reformed) authors that it defies understanding why they haven’t left their Baptist denomination in favor of the Christian Reformed Church.

The document further asserts that the “vast majority of Southern Baptists are not Calvinists and that they do not want Calvinism to become the standard view in Southern Baptist life.”

“We believe it is time to move beyond Calvinism as a reference point for Baptist soteriology,” the statement reads. Soteriology is the study of the doctrine of salvation.

Each of the 10 articles includes a statement of what the signers affirm and what they deny. For instance, on the article about the Grace of God, the document says:

“We affirm that grace is God’s generous decision to provide salvation for any person by taking all of the initiative in providing atonement, in freely offering the Gospel in the power of the Holy Spirit, and in uniting the believer to Christ through the Holy Spirit by faith.”

The statement then adds:

“We deny that grace negates the necessity of a free response of faith or that it cannot be resisted. We deny that the response of faith is in any way a meritorious work that earns salvation.”

To read this statement in full, along with a reprint of the original ten-point statement, click here.

For the most part, the Reformed-dominated blogosphere has been somewhat silent on this, with most responses coming from within the Baptist movement where the SBC Today web page is more closely monitored.

Tom Ascol at Founder’s Ministries Blog disagrees with the document and has published three blog posts (so far, more to follow)  to respond. Before expressing concerns in part three however, he does provide a charitable, concise summary:

In essence, I believe that those who have published it are concerned by the rise of Calvinism among Southern Baptists at all levels of convention life, from local churches all the way down to various institutions and agencies. They think that Calvinism represents the views of only a small minority  while their own views represent the vast majority of Southern Baptists. They are concerned to be identified positively by what they do believe rather than negatively by what they do not believe (“non-Calvinist”). They have offered this document as a testimony to their beliefs and invite other Southern Baptists to sign it to show just how many agree with their views. By doing so, they do not want to intimidate or exclude Southern Baptist Calvinists, but rather are interested in asserting what they are convinced that most Southern Baptists believe on the doctrine of salvation.

[above link for this article, also available: Part One and Part Two]

At Pulpit and Pen, Jordan Hall writes:

…For example, consider the irony of articulating the “historic, traditional beliefs of Southern Baptists” by creating a new document. The premise itself is laughable. Could it just be our historic confessions and creeds do not suffice because they are, inherently, Calvinistic?

At the site BaptistTwentyOne, Jon Akin writes,

The statement is divisive for three reasons:

  • It inaccurately and unfairly describes the theology of the “New Calvinists.”
  • It implies that “New Calvinists” are having a detrimental impact on “contemporary mission and ministry” in the SBC without a shred of proof to back that up. It claims that the SBC has reached around the world with the Gospel “without ascribing to Calvinism,” and therefore fails to properly recognize that many godly Calvinists have contributed to the spread of the gospel through SBC cooperation in our history.
  • It is trying to unite a segment of Southern Baptist around a new theological statement, when the BFM2000 is enough to unite us in theology and mission.

and also

  • I could be wrong, and would be happy to admit it, but I don’t know any Calvinist who is arguing in print or sermon to make “Calvinism the central Southern Baptist position on God’s plan of salvation, “ or “the standard view in Southern Baptist life.”
  • The statement consistently responds to double predestination, therefore implying that this is the standard position of “New Calvinists,” when in reality it is a minority position, almost certainly an extreme minority. The statement only argues against double predestination and never really addresses what the biblical word “predestination” actually means in the text. The authors make it sound like the “New Calvinism” is fighting for double predestination, and that is simply not accurate.

Josh Buice at Delivered by Grace writes:

… As we move forward, do we want to be considered the “Fightin’ Baptists” or the “Religious version of the Hatifelds and McCoys?”…

…Furthermore, when SBC pastors, leaders, and professors sign this letter, it’s almost as if a line is being drawn in the sand and a request is being made for action.  What should the action be? …

… Have we forgotten our history as Southern Baptists where we had Calvinists such as Lottie Moon, James P. Boyce, John L. Dagg, A.T. Robertson, John A. Broadus, and many others who served in our convention along with those who were less Calvinistic (Reformed) in their doctrine?  They didn’t fight over it, throw mud, and pull out the heresy sword to use on one another.  In recent history we have had Albert Mohler serving together with Adrian Rogers.  Why are we headed down the broken road of schism over Calvinism today?…

There is more available online, and there will be even more as you’re reading this.  William F. Leonhart III, provides some historical context; apparently this isn’t the first time.

We’ll give Jordan Hall the last word on this:

Perhaps most offensive is [David] Hankins’ appeal to consensus. He says multiple times that “the majority of Southern Baptists do not embrace Calvinism.” He may be right. Statistics show that the majority of Southern Baptists do not embrace Christianity, let alone Calvinism. The majority of Southern Baptists can’t be found on Sunday morning. The majority of Southern Baptists are on Synergist church-rolls and are either dead or apostate because of the watered-down and anemic, shallow theology of Finney-style revivalism and easy-believism, decision-regeration that has eaten away at the SBC like a cancer. But Hankins is right; the majority of Southern Baptists are not Calvinists.

But c’mon Jordan, tell us what you really think.

5 Comments »

  1. I am saddened, but never cease to be amazed that our brothers who seem to know the least about the Doctrines of Grace ( 5 Points) have the most to say about it. They have so much animosity toward us. Thank God that we have such great and godly men that will take their place of leadership and represent the truth. My wife and I will be in constant prayer for you all. And Thank God that we are not ashamed of the truth. I THANK GOD DAY AND NIGHT THAT HE CHOSE ME.

    Comment by William Carey Hedgpeth,Sr — June 2, 2012 @ 8:56 pm

  2. I agree with much of Calvinism but have for several years agonized with the fact that most Calvinists simply discount the possibility of even spark of free will (“whosoever will”, “choose ye this day…” etc) could be imparted to man by our Sovereign God. There is no good thing in me of my own merits but through God, even before salvation, there was conscience, so to me, God has imparted something good there. True, we all sear our conscience to some degree or other, but that doesn’t negate the fact that God put at least a hint of something good in us (conscience). Don’t we have at least some choice in stamping down that good or embracing it’s promptings. In that vein, it is not impossible for a sovereign God to impart an ability to “accept” or “reject” his offered gift in accordance to His foreknowledge.

    From what I have found in the Bible I guess I would label myself as a Reformed, Calvinistic, predestination affirming, free will advocating, Bible believing Christian or better yet, just “Bible Believing Christian”.

    Since I am a “Bible believing Christian”, in possession of many “free will” Bible verses as well as many Calvinistic/predestination/election” Bible verses I am not totally on one side of the debate or the other. Yes, ‘free will” and “predestination” present us with a paradox, yet the verses in my Bible remain. We must not throw out those valuable babies with the bath water or theologize them away. If anyone thinks that he doesn’t see through a “glass darkly” on this topic, I believe he is fooling himself and following agenda rather than the pure Word of God to influence his thinking. I have been collecting verses on both sides of the debate and again, simply find there to be a paradox. Giving man the benefit of the doubt, we have brains about one trillionth the size of gnat brain compared to that of our omniscient God, creator of all things. So why do men (it seems to me, primarily Calvinists) say with puffed chests that they have the only correct view.

    Here are two recent observations on Calvinism:

    This past Friday I was sitting in the Dr’s office waiting room and noticed an old edition (Jan/Feb 2011) of “Presbyterians Today” just waiting there for me to pick up. I began reading an article located on pages 36 & 37 entitled: “A Prescription for Evangelism”. The article began: “The statistics are all too familiar: the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) is declining in membership. We are not reaching the younger generation. More than 75 percent of our congregations did not have even one adult baptism in the past two years”. (my underline). The next paragraph down began: “Presbyterians are not engaging in evangelism.” (again my underline)

    Not wanting to form a conclusion that Reformed doctrine does hamper evangelism, on one liberal Reformed denomination’s statistics, I asked myself the question: I wonder how many full time, Reformed missionaries were working in the field compared to the number of their less Calvinistic counterparts?
    My first search turned up a post from Yahoo Answers! Question: “Have you seen the breakdown of missionaries per denomination?” Admittedly “Yahoo Answers” is not a very reliable resource, but quite shocking if it even closely resembled reality. Answer: Mormons= 52,494, Southern Baptists= 12,291, Lutheran= 811, Presbyterians= 229

    Digging a little deeper but still with sloppy, lazy scholarship, I looked at other Reformed and Presbyterian websites to try to get a little clearer picture. Here’s what I found with an hour’s work. If anyone wants to tweak the numbers or add the smaller Presbyterian and Reformed denominations to the mix, feel free.
    United Presbyterian Church in the United States of America (UPCUSA) 2,350,000 members. Full time, long term missionaries 310, Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) 346,814 members. Full time, long term missionaries 657, United Presbyterian Church of North America (UPCNA) 258,000 members. Full time, long term missionaries unknown but wild guess 100, Reformed Church in America (RCA) 250,859 members. Full time, long term missionaries 72, Evangelical & Reformed Church (E&R) 818,000 members. Full time, long term missionaries unknown but wild guess 60, Presbyterian Church in the United States (PCUS) 815.000 members – Full time, long term missionaries unknown but wild guess 40, Christian Reformed Church in North America (CRCNA 268.000 members. Full time, long term missionaries 212, Christian Reformed Church of North America 268,052 members. Full time, long term missionaries unknown but wild guess 100, Reformed Churches including Reformed Church in America, Dutch and Restored Reformed 300,000? Members. Full time, long term missionaries unknown but wild guess 100, United Church of Christ (UCC Reformed) 1,100,000 members. Full time, long term missionaries 39

    I think this short essay, even with its shaky figures, makes the point that “Calvinism” likely promotes less missionary zeal than a Christian presentation that keeps a fair representation of all of the “free will”, as well as all of the “Calvinistic” (TULIP) justifying verses in the Bible.

    Please don’t tell me that Spurgeon was a Calvinist and a great evangelist. I understand there are many exceptions to the rule but the above figures tend to make a case for the rule. I also know that Mormonism is not Christian and shouldn’t be counted. I just copied and pasted the Yahoo answer. The Mormonism number should however, give us cause for reflection.

    Another case in point: A few years ago my own dear precious Christian sister moved her membership from a SBC church to a PCA church. When I asked her why, she looked me in the eyes and said: “after visiting ___ ___ PCA church the pastor visited our home and showed us straight from the Bible the many verses that proved predestination was true.” I then asked her: “How many free-will verses did he share with you?” Silence was her answer.
    The rigid TULIP position is not the “full council of God” found in His book. Maintaining the “full council of God” is all I am asking. When we allow “hyper-Calvinists” or “hyper free-willers” un-accountability to scripture, as in my sister’s case, we simply miss the mark, and allowing it to go unchallenged is not inconsequential.

    According to God’s sovereignty, it appears we are primarily what He cares to work with at this time in reaching the lost; so work we must. If hyper-Calvinism, or hyper-anything (other than hyper-full counsel of God) hurts our assignment of displaying and presenting the full council of God as preserved for us in His Word, we must not be afraid to confront it.
    Tom Garito

    I know, I shouldn’t base anything on one random example. However, don’t you think based on hanging around within the Christian community for many years that the pastor in question isn’t really in the minority among Reformd Calvinist affirming pastors?

    Calvinism on the March Among Evangelicals (This is part of an article from “Way of Life” a few years ago”)
    A 2007 study shows that Calvinism is on the rise in the Southern Baptist Convention and is especially prominent among recent seminary graduates. Ed Stetzer, director of LifeWay Research, says that nearly 30% of recent graduates now serving as pastors are Calvinists (“Calvinism on the Rise,” Christian Post, Nov. 29, 2007). Roughly 10% of SBC pastors at large define themselves as Calvinists, but that includes only those who hold to all five points of TULIP theology and not those who hold to sovereign or unconditional election but not necessarily to all other points of Calvinism. LifeWay Research limits their surveys to a very narrow definition of Calvinism, and I suspect it might not want to know the true influence of Calvinism in the convention.
    A report in Christianity Today for September 2006 was entitled “Young, Restless, Reformed: Calvinism Is Making a Comeback–And Shaking up the Church.” It documents the rapid spread of Calvinism in Evangelical circles, and I am seeing the same thing among Fundamentalists.

    The report cites John Piper, R.C. Sproul, R. Albert Mohler, Louie Giglio, Joshua Harris, J.I. Packer, and the Puritans as among the chief influences responsible for the upsurge in Calvinism. Piper’s book “Desiring God” has sold more than 275,000 copies.

    The trend toward the acceptance of Calvinism is evident at leading evangelical seminaries such as Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, and Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

    Under the direction of Al Mohler, Southern Seminary has become “a Reformed hotbed” and is turning out “a steady flow of young Reformed pastors.”

    Writing in SBC Life, Malcolm Yarnell, associate professor of systematic theology at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, observed that TULIP theology is causing division in churches. Steve Lemke, provost of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, warns: “I believe that [Calvinism] is potentially the most explosive and divisive issue facing us in the near future. It has already been an issue that has split literally dozens of churches, and it holds the potential to split the entire convention” (“The Future of Southern Baptists as Evangelicals,” April 2005). Lemke says that “the newest generation of Southern Baptist ministers” is “the most Calvinist we have had in several generations.” He warns that Calvinism can result in a lowered commitment to evangelism, saying: “For many people, if they’re convinced that God has already elected those who will be elect … I don’t see how humanly speaking that can’t temper your passion, because you know you’re not that crucial to the process.

    There are exceptions to this, but in my estimation there can be no doubt that Calvinism tends to cool evangelistic fervor. Among Calvinists, evangelism is done IN SPITE OF Calvinism, not because of it. Those who protest that it doesn’t hinder evangelism point to EXCEPTIONS rather than to the rule. While Charles Spurgeon was an evangelistic Calvinist, for example, a large number of Calvinists of his day opposed him and denounced his broad, indiscriminate invitations for sinners to come to Christ. One Calvinist publication warned in Spurgeon’s day, “… to preach that it is man’s duty to believe savingly in Christ is ABSURD” (Earthen Vessel, 1857; cited in Spurgeon vs. the Hyper Calvinists by Iain Murray).

    Calvinism almost killed the evangelistic zeal of the Baptist churches of England in the 18th century. Baptist historian Thomas Armitage wrote: “William Carey’s ‘Inquiry into the Obligations of Christians to use means for the Conversion of the Heathen’ was published in 1792, but it found few readers and produced little effect. To most of the Baptists Carey’s views were visionary and even wild, in open conflict with God’s sovereignty. At a meeting of ministers, where the senior [John] Ryland presided, Carey proposed that at the next meeting they discuss the duty of attempting to spread the Gospel amongst the heathen. … Ryland, shocked, sprang to his feet and ordered Carey to sit down, saying: ‘When God pleases to convert the heathen, he will do it without your aid or mine!’

    Therefore, I hope the issue will be studied and addressed by the SBC in some concrete way. It is not simply a side issue.
    Tom Garito

    Dr Mohler or other Calvinist leaning Southern Baptists, could you point out specifically (in simple terms) where John R. Rice’s little booklet is wrong, or at least where you stand on each issue he addresses. Perhaps you could even mark it up as you might a student’s paper in order to show him exactly where he was getting his theology wrong. Please point out which parts you agree with and which parts you disagree with. Dr Rice’s booklet (position paper) is a simple presentation of his thoughts on Calvinism. Your simple rebuttal would be a wonderful place to begin a convention-wide debate on the topic.

    “Hyper-Calvinism: A False Doctrine” by John R Rice

    EXAMINE THE DOCTRINE OF HYPER-CALVINISM
    Those whom we call hyper-Calvinists usually outline their doctrinal position as represented by the letters TULIP:
    • T for Total Depravity of the sinner
    • U for Unconditional Election
    • L for Limited Atonement
    • I for Irresistible Grace
    • P for Perseverance of the saints
    Sinners Are Depraved, Cannot Be Saved Unless God Calls,
    but All Have Some Light, Some Calling
    The hyper-Calvinist says sinners are totally depraved and so incapable of repentance except as God calls some selected individuals, and leaves others He has predestined for Hell, unable to repent.

    Now the doctrine that all are sinful, incapable of being saved or doing good without God’s help, is true. But it is certainly not true that some never could repent, that God leaves some intentionally without light or calling. Consider these Scriptures:

    a. “God… now commandeth all men every where to repent” (Acts 17:30). Can anyone accuse God of commanding people to do what He has made it impossible for them to do?

    b. The apostle said, after hearing of Cornelius’ conversion, “Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life” (Acts 11:18). God granted repentance to the Jews; now they see repentance is granted “to the Gentiles” — not to a few selected individuals, but to the Gentiles, as to Jews.

    c. In John 1:9 we are told about Jesus, “That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.” So every man in the world has light from God and from Christ, and so could be saved.

    d. In John 12:32,33, Jesus said, “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me. This he said, signifying what death he should die.” When Jesus draws “all men” unto Him, then any one of “all men” could be saved.

    e. Romans 1:18-21 says that after the flood, the races became heathen, idolaters, barbarians, and are without excuse because the truth of God was manifested unto them. It says:
    “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened”

    f. Psalm 19:1-4 tells us:
    “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge. There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard. Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them hath he set a tabernacle for the sun.”
    So there is a speech in nature to turn men to seek God. It speaks in all the world and every man is therefore accountable to God for it.

    g. Romans 2:11-16 says:
    “For there is no respect of persons with God. For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law; (For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be jasitfied. For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another,) In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel.”
    Does that not mean that every person in the world is warned from God, either by the Word or by God speaking through the law He has written in their hearts, that is, their consciences?
    And God, in this matter, has “no respect of persons,” we are told here, giving every man alike a call to be saved. All who seek more light find enough light even as Cornelius did in Acts 10.
    Man’s sinfulness does not mean some men could not be saved.

    h. We are told that “the gospel of Christ… is the power of God unto salvation” (Rom. 1:16). And again Hebrews 4:12 says, “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” Does not that Scripture surely mean that the Scriptures themselves call men to repentance? And would you say, like the neo-orthodox teachers who do not accept the Bible as objectively the Word of God, that it becomes the Word of God to individuals only as it affects them? No, the very nature of the powerful Word of God, “sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow,” means that it acts upon all who hear it. And again, we read in I Corinthians 1:21 that “it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe” And that means, of course, the preaching of the Gospel of the Word of God. The Word of God itself has supernatural power to affect the lost sinner, and it needs only to be “mixed with faith” (Heb. 4:9.) to save the sinner.
    So every lost sinner is in some sense lighted by Jesus who “lighteth every man that cometh into the world” (John 1:9), is somewhat moved by his conscience, is preached to by the creation about him, and when he hears the Word of God he is called by that. Then the fact of the depravity of every lost sinner does not mean there are some sinners who cannot be saved.

    “Unconditional Election” Is Not Bible Doctrine
    It is true the saved are God’s elect, “chosen… in him before the foundation of the world,” as Ephesians 1:4 tells us. But it is wrong to make this election a whim of God whereby He saves some, compels them to be saved, and damns some whom He has decided He does not wish to save. No, election is not “unconditional.” It is simply that God knows who will trust Him when they hear the Gospel and chooses them to be carried through till they be “conformed to the image of his Son.”

    Romans 8:28-30 tell. us so; thus:
    “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called, and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.”
    God gives the order of things here. First, foreknowledge, then predestination, then calling, then saving, then finally, at the resurrection, glorifying. To ignore or to change the inspired, divine order is false doctrine. Again, I Peter 1:2 says that the saints addressed were “Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father.” That is a flat contradiction of so-called “unconditional election.” Election is based on God’s foreknowledge of who will trust Christ. So salvation depends upon personal faith in Christ.

    The Term “Limited Atonement” Really Means Limited Love, Limited Grace of God,and So Slanders God, and Is Unscriptural
    The heart of hyper-Calvinist doctrine is the “Limited Atonement” claim, that Christ did not die for all men, made no provision for them so they could possibly be saved. It really claims that God did not love all men enough to have Christ die for all, that His grace is limited, so is finite instead of infinite. But this is contradicted by many plain Scriptures.

    a. John 3:16 says that “God so loved THE WORLD, that he gave his only begotten Son” — that it was so that “whosoever” could believe on Him and be saved. No limited love or atonement in John 3:16!

    b. In John 1:29 we read the inspired statenent of John the Baptist about Jesus, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world,” Since Christ atoned for “the sin of the world,” not just part of the sin of the world, it could not be a limited atonement.

    c. First John 2:2 plainly says, “And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for our’s only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” No limited atonement there!

    d. Romans 5:20 says, “Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound.” Does not that mean God has grace for all the sin in the world, and even a great surplus? So the total number of people who will ever be born on the earth is a finite counted number that God knows. But the grace of God is infinite, much more than for those who will be saved, even much more than for all the sins of all the people in the world, so says the plain Word of God. Romans 5:20 leaves no limit on the atonement

    e. First Timothy 4:10 tells of “the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe.” To those who believe, Christ is a special, personal, accepted Saviour. But to all who have not believed He is potentially and intentionally a Saviour. When God says in the Bible that He has
    provided a “Saviour of all men,” what an arrogant wresting of Scriptures it is to say He did not provide and offer salvation for all!

    f. Colossians 1:20 tells us that Christ, “having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself, by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.” Note that that verse speaks, not of all accepting Christ, but of atonement for all, amnesty offered every rebel, a peace treaty prepared to end the war between God and the sinner. If Christ, “through the blood of his cross,” intended “to reconcile all things unto himself,” as that verse says, who dares put a limit on that atoning blood, so offered for all?

    God’s Grace Is Not Irresistible;
    Some Are Not Compelled to Be Saved Unconditionally,
    Others Compelled to Be Damned
    The fourth part of the doctrine of hyper-Calvinism, represented by the letter “I” in TULIP, is “Irresistible Grace,” by which it is meant that all who are elected to be saved will be saved, that they cannot resist this special grace limited to them but will be saved when God calls. It would necessarily follow, first, that those not elected are irresistibly damned, cannot be saved; and, second, that since God works irresistibly to save or damn, Christians cannot affect the salvation or damnation of sinners and need feel no responsibility or burden about it. But this is wrong, unscriptural, and no doubt Satan uses this doctrine of “Irresistible Grace” to lull Christians to disobedience and lack of compassion and burden to get people saved.

    Consider these Scriptures which prove sinners can and do resist God’s grace and many are lost who could be saved, and refuse Christ.

    a. In II Peter 3:9 we read, “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” Then God desires all men to be saved. And as we showed in section 1, all are enlightened to some degree, and called.
    So many resist the grace of God.

    b. We are commanded to pray for “all men,” says I Timothy 2:1, and verses 3 and 4 tell us, “For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour, Who will have ALL MEN to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.” We should pray for all men because God our Saviour “will have all men to be saved.” So God would have all saved, but some will not be saved. So God’s grace may he resisted.

    c. We are told that Jesus wept over Jerusalem and told the sadness of His heart that His love and grace were refused. He said, in Matthew 23:37, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!” Jesus said, “I would,” “and ye would not.” So His grace was rejected. It was not irresistible.

    d. In Proverbs 1:24,25, we have a clear statement that God, personified as Wisdom, calls and men refuse. That Scripture says, “Because I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded; But ye have set at nought all my counsel, and would none of my reproof.” And the context plainly teaches that the refusal is final and those who so refused God’s wisdom and “did not choose the fear of the Lord” went to destruction. Surely, then, people do reject the call of God and resist His grace.

    e. Paul says in Galatians 2:21, “I do not frustrate the grace of God?” That clearly shows then that those Galatian teachers who teach salvation by the law do frustrate the grace of God. Grace is not irresistible.

    And did not you, my reader, long resist God’s grace? Only very few were saved the first time they heard the Gospel at the first conviction of sin they felt! Did you not for a time resist God’s grace? One who resists one time may resist the last time. And so many continue to resist and are lost forever.

    f. In fact, the unpardonable sin is surely the sin of a lost man or woman, greatly enlightened and convicted, who comes to a final and irrevocable choice so that God’s Spirit gives him up. Genesis 6:3 says, “My spirit shall not always strive with man.” He does strive — resisted to a certain point He sometimes strives no more, so the sin is unpardonable. If the Spirit who strives, then when men resist, may cease forever striving, then grace is not irresistible.

    Hebrew 6:4-6 says, I think, the same thing:
    “For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers af the Holy Ghost, And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame”
    The term “partakers of the Holy Ghost,” Dr. Scofield says, here is “Gr. metochous, going along with.” So the Scripture here speaks of one not born of the Spirit but one who is followed, warned, convicted by the Holy Spirit going along with him. He has felt or “tasted” the “powers of the world to come,” we are told; has “tasted the good word of God,” but refuses Christ, still falls away from that conviction and, after coming to the verge of repentance, turns from it; it is impossible to renew such an one to repentance. So it is with those who, called, convicted, brought to the very crisis of decision, decide finally, eternally against Christ. Oh, every sinner who commits the unpardonable sin does resist the grace of God to the last. So we think did Pharaoh, Judas and, we think, those Pharisees of Matthew 12:24-32 who said Jesus cast out devils by Beelzebub but in heart knew better and blasphemously fought the Holy Spirit who convicted them. God’s grace is not irresistible.

    The Saints Do Finally Persevere
    The P in TULIP stands for final “Perseverance” of the saints. In this, all Bible believers must agree if we mean simply that those who are saved have everlasting life. I think a better way to say it is the Preservation of the saints. I do not believe Christians always do right. They do not get salvation by works and they cannot keep it by works. So our righteousness is the righteousness of Christ who died in our place, paid for all our sins, and gives us eternal life freely when we believe on Christ. So John 5:24 says plainly, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.”

    So in John 10:27-29 Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.”

    And Paul the apostle could say by infallible inspiration, “… for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day” (II Tim. 1:12).

    III. WHY FOLLOW MEN?
    Do you follow Arminius? or Wesley? Then you are certain to be wrong wherever those good but frail men were wrong. Do you follow Calvin? Then whatever doctrine Calvin formulated or invented will be wrong for you as for him.

    Charles Spurgeon, great and blessed London preacher, was a Calvinist though he spoke against “hyper-Calvinism,” and called it that; and his hyper-Calvinist friends criticized him for preaching that “whosoever will” may come.
    In his sermon on Sunday morning, March 24, 1861, on Isaiah 1:18, Spurgeon said:
    OUR TEXT ADDRESSED TO SINNERS OF THE DEEPEST DYE

    Some of my brethren are greatly scandalized by the general invitations which I am in the habit of giving to sinners, as sinners. Some of them go the length of asserting that there are no universal invitations in the Word of God. Their assertion, however, is not so forcible an argument as a fact, and we have one here. Here is most plainly an invitation addressed to sinners who had not even the qualification of sensibility. They did not feel their need of a Saviour. They had been scourged and flogged till the whole body was a mass of sores, and yet they would not turn to the Hand that smote them, but went on sinning still. A more accurate description of careless, worthless, ungodly, abandoned souls, never was given anywhere. We have in the context one of the most graphic descriptions of human nature in its utterly lost and godless estate. There is not a single gleam of light in the midst of the thick darkness. The man is bad-bad-bad from the beginning to the end. Nay, he is all the worst, and the worst is come to its worst. There is not a ray of promise in their nature, not a glimmer of anything good in the description of the persons to whom this text is addressed.
    So Spurgeon did not really believe all the points of hyper-Calvinism, did not believe that some sinners are not called or could not repent.

    In the same sermon, he says,
    Furthermore, I think that in giving this description, I shall be better preaching the Gospel than during the other parts of the sermon. Let me remind you that the invitation of the text is sent to men who appeared to have been totally depraved from the sole of the foot even to the head. [The emphasis is Spurgeon's.]
    Again, in the same sermon, Spurgeon said,
    Yes, Mercy Offered to “Every One of You”

    I have a big net this morning — Oh, that we might all be caught in its meshes! There is not one of us today who can be exempt from this invitation; not even that poor soul yonder who shivers in his shoes because he fears that he has committed the unpardonable sin, –

    None are excluded hence, but those
    Who do themselves exclude;
    Welcome the learned and polite,
    The ignorant and rude.

    “Repent, and be baptized every one of you,” said Peter. As John Bunyan puts it — one man might have stood up in the crowd and said, “But I helped to hound Him to the cross! …. Repent, and
    be baptized every one of you.” “But I drove the nails into His hands!” saith one. “Every one of you,” says Peter. “But I pierced His side!” said another. “Every one of you,” said Peter. “And I put my tongue into my cheek and stared at His nakedness and said, ‘If He be the Son of God, let Him come down from the cross.’” …. Every one of.you,” said Peter. “Repent, and be baptized every one of you.” I do feel so grieved at many of our Calvinistic brethren; they know nothing about Calvinism, I am sorry to say, for never was any man more caricatured by his professed followers than John Calvin. Many of them are afraid to preach from Peter’s text, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you.” When I do it, they say, “He is unsound.”

    Well, if I am unsound on this point, I have all the Puritans with me — the whole of them almost without a single exception. John Bunyan first and foremost preaches to Jerusalem sinners; and Charnock, you know, has written a book, The Chief of Sinners, Objects of the Choicest Mercy. But I do not care for that; I know the Lord has blessed my appeals to all sorts of sinners, and none shall stay me in giving free invitations as long as I find them in this Book. And I do cry with Peter this morning to this vast assembly, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ …. For the promise is unto you, and to your children… even as many as the Lord our God shall call.”

    So Spurgeon was a Calvinist and said so, but he did not accept all the doctrines of hyper-Calvinism, and he said so.
    In truth, the false doctrines of hyper-Calvinism would not do so much harm if they were emphasized as little as Spurgeon emphasized them, and particularly, if those who advocate them worked unceasingly to win souls as Spurgeon did.

    But why follow Spurgeon? He was human. He was an amazing preacher, an evangelist. Some think he was the greatest preacher since the Apostle Paul. But when he was wrong he was wrong. He plainly said he did not know enough about the return of Christ to preach on it. No man is perfect. It would be as foolish to follow Spurgeon in whatever part of the false doctrine of hyper-Calvinism he believed as to follow him in smoking cigars. He saw the error of smoking a little while before he went to Heaven, and I am sure he saw the errors of hyper-Calvinism, besides those he himself criticized, as soon as he reached Heaven. Why not just follow the Bible instead of Arminius or Calvin or Wesley or Spurgeon?

    IV. GOD NEVER IS PARTY TO SIN, NEVER ARRANGES SO ONE MUST SIN
    Did God plan every evil, every sin that men have ever committed? Did God predestine Adam and Eve to sin? Did He plan and bring about the rebellion of Satan, once Lucifer, an angel of light; and did He bring about the fall of the angels that fell? We must agree that God knew all the future, but can we say that all the sin really originated in the heart and planning of God? No! Surely such a thought is abhorrent to every spiritual mind. The Bible does not teach it.

    God planned and elected much in the lives of all men, but not the sin. Men themselves do not have to sin. They sin because they are sinful and can choose to sin, or choose the path that leads to sin.

    A man cannot choose the date of his birth, nor the place he is born, nor his parents. He cannot choose the color of his eyes, the shape of his face, the talents or limitations with which he may be born. Many of the things that happen to one he cannot control, but on moral issues, issues of right and wrong, man can choose and must choose. Election does not settle the choice anyone makes about sin or salvation.Four great truths show that man is not coerced to sin, that sin and rejection of Christ are moral issues in which man always has a choice.

    There Are God’s Commands Which Men Can Obey or Disobey
    God never commands a man to “be born in Chicago on June 30th.” God settles that, with the person affected having no choice, no responsibility to obey or refuse. But on moral matters, right and wrong are clearly set forth in God’s commands. The “Thou shalt not’s” of the Bible show that on moral issues men have a choice to make and do make a choice.

    God Gives Man a Conscience to Tell Him Right and Wrong
    The Scripture says, “The spirit of man is the candle of the Lord, searching all the inward parts of the belly” (Prov. 20:27). On other matters men must decide; with no moral issue involved, a man does not have inward light always. Should he buy this house at this price? Should he have a Ford car or a Chevrolet? Conscience has no answer. One may ask God for wisdom and have help, but conscience says only, “This is right” or “That is wrong.” So “that little spark of celestial fire called conscience” proves God gives inward light so one can choose right on issues of moral and spiritual duty. Men are not so predestined that they must sin or must reject Christ.
    A Way of Escape From Sin Always Provided

    Has God made man so, and provided circumstances so that a man can not avoid sinning in a given instance? No, for we are plainly told in I Corinthians 10:12,13,

    “Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall. There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it”
    So if one takes heed he need not fall. Always a way of escape is provided. God is faithful to not only allow one to take heed and choose not to sin, but also makes a way of escape in every case. In any particular case men may have help, may escape sin. So men are not predestined to sin or to reject the Saviour.

    Men Come to Judgment for Their Sins, Are Accountable, So They Need Not Blame God Nor Predestination for Sins
    For every idle word men shall come to judgment, Jesus said (Matt 12:36). And Revelation 20:12 tells us that the unsaved dead will be judged “according to their works,” which are meticulously recorded. Does not that prove that in moral matters man is accountable and must choose?

    God chose Jacob to head a nation for Him, and rejected Esau. That was predestined before they were born (Rom. 9:11-13). But Esau, while rejected as head of a tribe through which God would bring the Saviour, was not predestined to go to Hell, and for all we know may have been saved.

    Pharaoh was a wicked, murderous man, and in the matter of letting Israel go from Egypt, God had raised him up to make an example of him and kill him ( Rom. 9:17,18). But there is no evidence that God predestined him to go to Hell. He could have chosen to be saved. Knowing ahead of time what Pharaoh would do, God planned to make an example of His destruction of a wicked king.

    Hyper-Calvinism is unscriptural, false doctrine. It tends to flourish in intellectual pride and in neglect of soul winning, and is a symptom of moral guilt. It is Satan’s effort to kill concern and compassion for souls.

    I thank you Dr Mohler for even considering my request.

    Tom Garito

    Comment by Tom Garito — June 9, 2012 @ 12:19 pm

    • Tom,

      Thanks for sharing all that, even if it was about a thousand times over the usual comment length limit. I hope you don’t mind, but I took the time to break it up into actual paragraphs; I think whatever you copied and pasted it from in your files — some of this was obviously correspondence you initated with Dr. Hohler — didn’t ‘take’ when you applied it here. Anyway, we now have a very strong doctrinal refutation of TULIP on file here! (Let me know if you have anything you want further edited.)

      There were a couple of things you said in the earlier part that I think were most significant:

      Under the direction of Al Mohler, Southern Seminary has become “a Reformed hotbed” and is turning out “a steady flow of young Reformed pastors.”

      I think this is the concern that provoked this whole episode in the first place. Mohler is a champion among Calivinists, probably ranking as high as Piper in their estimation as someone who can command a large audience on any given subject.

      And then your rather shockingly clear picture of the implications of Calvinism when it comes to missions and evangelism,

      …At a meeting of ministers, where the senior [John] Ryland presided, Carey proposed that at the next meeting they discuss the duty of attempting to spread the Gospel amongst the heathen. … Ryland, shocked, sprang to his feet and ordered Carey to sit down, saying: ‘When God pleases to convert the heathen, he will do it without your aid or mine!’

      That certainly arrested my attention.

      For future, try to keep it to 2,000 characters (CT only allows 1,000 !)

      P.S. You might enjoy the response to Calvinism Bruxy Cavey at The Meeting House in Canada did several months back. I think he spent at least six weeks, and the 2011 sermon series, called “Chosen And Choosing” is available as audio or video at http://www.themeetinghouse.com/teaching/sermon-archives/ (Embracing Grace, at the bottom of the list, is the first one.)

      Comment by paulthinkingoutloud — June 9, 2012 @ 12:59 pm

  3. Well…you told me to tell you what I really think. Concerning the last quote from Carey’s call to missions, keep in mind that Carey was also a Reformed Baptist. I would like you to see my church, our commitment to evangelism, church planting, and missions (and I would be eager for anyone to take a detailed look in comparison to your own) and tell me that the end result of Calvinism is decreased outreach.

    Comment by Jordan Hall — June 16, 2012 @ 1:29 am

  4. […] year ago it was the same people wishing that Calvinism could be the default doctrine of the Southern Baptist Convention, North America’s largest Protestant denomination. Yes, that could be a Calvinist […]

    Pingback by Calvinist Doctrinal Diatribe Continues Online | Thinking Out Loud — June 11, 2013 @ 6:39 am


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