Archive for the ‘Exegetical Issues’ category

The Proof-Texts

October 27, 2006

After giving his definition of what Calvinists believe concerning Limited atonement and after making an appeal to popular Baptist hymns in an attempt to demonstrate that Baptists do not believe in this doctrine, Dr. Vines next turned to the proof-texts commonly used on both sides of this debate.

Limited atonement proof-texts cited:

In one sense, Dr. Vines was more even-handed than some anti-Calvinists in his presentation against Limited atonement, for he actually did, at least, present some of the common proof-texts that help persuade people that Limited atonement is a biblical doctrine. The texts he cited are as follows:

Matthew 1:21

Mark 10:45

Galatians 2:20

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The Extent of the Atonement in Baptist Hymnody

October 24, 2006

[Please read the last two posts for the context of what you are about to read.]

The verse I mentioned at the end of the last post, Revelation 5:9, which mentioned the song the saints will sing in heaven to Jesus, who ransomed people for God from throughout the world by His blood, provides an excellent transition to the next point under consideration, that of Dr. Vines’ appeal to Baptist hymnody, as he expressed with the following statement:

“We sang these beautiful songs tonight… about the Cross, ‘For Man, the creature’s, sin.’ That’s the death of Christ for the whole world!”

Dr. Vines attempted to demonstrate that the hymns sung in Southern Baptist churches are indicative of incompatibility between Southern Baptist beliefs and the doctrine of Limited atonement. In response to this, I would like to assert that the songs found within the majority of Southern Baptist hymnals fall into three categories:

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“Now here’s the most objectionable, probably, of all of them.”

October 19, 2006

[Please see yesterday’s post for the context of what you are about to read.]

Dr. Vines began his anti-Calvinism speech with the following two statements, declaring:

“Number 1. I’m not going to attack individuals in this message. I have many friends and they’re many sincere Christians who are Calvinists. I’m not dealing with personalities or individuals; I’m dealing with the theology of Calvinism; Number 2, What I’m going to say to you tonight is not exhaustive. I will not deal with every Scripture that is used on both sides of the issue, nor will I address every logical argument pro or con.”

Likewise, the current series of posts on Strange BaptistFire are in no way an attack on Dr. Vines as an individual. I personally have little knowledge about Dr. Vines or his past ministry. I do know that he has a very good reputation among many in the Southern Baptist Convention. As Dr. Vines said, “I’m not dealing with personalities or individuals.” Instead, my contribution to this series of posts will be to examine Dr. Vines’ recent teaching against the doctrine of Limited atonement. Following Dr. Vines’ lead in terms of relative brevity, this will not be an exhaustive treatment of the Bible’s teaching on the extent of the atonement. Again, as Dr. Vines stated, “I will not deal with every Scripture that is used on both sides of the issue, nor will I address every logical argument pro or con.” I do hope, however, to give a fairly throrough examination of Dr. Vine’s teaching on this subject as presented in the speech under consideration, as well as asserting what I believe to be the biblical response to his position.

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On The Trinity: Part One – Hermeneutics

September 29, 2006

Why Must Our Hermeneutics Be Trinitarian?

by Vern Sheridan Poythress

[Published in The Southern Baptist Journal of Theology 10/1 (spring 2006), 96-98.]

Our hermeneutics must be Trinitarian because God, the Creator, Redeemer, and Consummator, is Trinitarian. When we interpret either the words of God or the works of God, we need to take into account who he is. Everything we know about him, including his Trinitarian character, potentially influences our understanding of his words and his works. Moreover, when people introduce erroneous conceptions of God, whether deistic, pantheistic, unitarian, or modalistic, those errors will inevitably affect interpretation of the meaning of God’s words and works, because meaning is influenced by one’s conception of authorship. The effects may often be subtle, but may sometimes also be dramatic.

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On Spurgeon’s Understanding of “All”

August 8, 2006

In the comment thread of a recent post, someone noted that none other than “the Prince of Preachers,” Charles H. Spurgeon, disagreed with my understanding of the text (I Timothy 2:3-6). I am glad that this was brought up. I have an intense admiration for Charles Spurgeon. I generally view his preaching as a model for doctrinal fidelity and evangelistic zeal. If the SBC had more preachers committed to preaching more like Spurgeon, then there wouldn’t be the “downgrade” we see in the Convention today.

But there are 3 notes I must make concerning Spurgeon’s comments on the text in view (comments he made in his sermon “Salvation by Knowing the Truth“):

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That “All” Is Always Defined By Context

August 2, 2006

“ ‘All’ means ALL!”

This phrase is often heard from preachers who teach against the doctrine of Limited atonement (or, as I shall refer to it in the remainder of this post, Particular redemption). Particular redemption is the doctrine concerning Christ’s work on the Cross indicating that Jesus died to actually secure salvation, which is certainly applied to a particular people, in contradiction of the view of Unlimited atonement or General redemption, which indicates that Jesus died to make salvation possible for each and every person ever to live. Preachers who teach the unlimited or general view believe that their position is drawn from verses such as the following:

This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony given at the proper time. (I Timothy 2:3-6 NASB)

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Jesus: Good Shepherd or CEO? An Exercise in the Perspicuity and Sufficiency of Scripture

June 29, 2006

(A good friend of mine, Andrew Lindsey, has allowed me to post a recent article he wrote in response to Andy Stanley on Tad Thompson’s blog. I felt this topic is very pertinent to the church today, especially in the SBC, given the prevalent ‘CEO’ mentality and the undermining of the sufficiency of scripture that is all too common. -NW)

By Andrew Lindsey

[This blogpost is an expansion of recent comments made in a discussion on the Total Leadership blog.]

In a recent article entitled “The God Who Names Himself“, Dr. Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary begins with these thoughts:

Calls for theological innovation and the employment of “theological imagination” are now routine among mainline Protestants and others prone to theological revisionism. Dismissive of doctrinal orthodoxy and biblical language as out of date, oppressive, patriarchal, and worse, the proponents of theological reformulation intend to restructure Christianity around an entirely new system of beliefs, playing with language even as they reinvent the faith.

The “theological innovation” Dr. Mohler decries is painfully obvious in situations such as the recent declaration by the Presbyterian Church U.S.A. that different names– such as “Compassionate Mother, Beloved Child and Life-Giving Womb”– must be given to the members of the Trinity (this is the situation that sets the context for Mohler’s article), but extreme examples such as the actions of the PCUSA only come about after a long series of small moves away from a full confidence that God has clearly and sufficiently communicated the truth that He means for us to have.

One such “small move” is illustrated by the Spring 2006 Leadership Journal interview of Andy Stanley, the leader of North Point Ministries in the Atlanta area. [This excerpt from the interview is taken from the Ah! Bright Wings blog.]

page 28 – L: Should we stop talking about pastors as ‘shepherds’?
AS: Absolutely. That word needs to go away. Jesus talked about shepherds because there was one over there in a pasture he could point to. But to bring in that imagery today and say, “Pastor, you’re the shepherd of the flock,” no. I never seen a flock. I’ve never spent five minutes with a shepherd. It was culturally relevant in the time of Jesus, but it’s not culturally relevant any more. Nothing works in our culture with that model except this sense of the gentle, pastoral care. Obviously that is a facet of church ministry, but that’s not leadership.

L: Isn’t shepherd the biblical word for pastor?
AS: It’s the first century word. If Jesus were here today, would he talk about shepherds? No. He would point to something that we all know, and we’d say, “Oh yeah, I know what that is.” Jesus told Peter, the fisherman, to “feed my sheep,” but he didn’t say to the rest of them, “Go ye therefore into all the world and be shepherds and feed my sheep.” By the time of the book of Acts, the shepherd model is gone. It’s about establishing elders and deacons and their qualifications. Shepherding doesn’t seem to be the emphasis. Even when it was, it was cultural, an illustration of something. What we have to do is identify the principle, which is that the leader is responsible for the care of the people he’s been given. That I am to care for and equip the people in the organization to follow Jesus. But when we take the literal illustration and bring it into our culture, then people can make it anything they want because nobody knows much about it.

There are many points that could be made about Andy Stanley’s words in this interview, but I will focus upon two:

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Putting the Exegesis on the Table

May 12, 2006

By Evan May.

As we wait to see what will become of BaptistFire, I thought I would put an exegesis of John 6 “on the table.” This texts most clearly presents the doctrines of grace, and it would be very useful to have it exegeted early and often. This post will serve two purposes: 1) to aid our readers now in better understanding this text, and 2) to have an exegesis of this text in the archives that we can point to when needed in the future. So here we go.

Synergistic theology allows for someone to be given to the Son by the Father and be drawn by the Father, yet not be raised up on the last day. Does the text of John 6 allow for this? Is this an accurate understanding of the text? My answer is “Absolutely not.” Opponents to the sovereign grace of God have attempted every conceivable means to dodge the plain teaching of this passage, but every single attempt, no matter how genuine it seems at first, collapses in light of fair and consistent exegesis of the passage:

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