They’re Creeping In! Pt. 1

By Evan May.

I’ve had my eye on this article that basically seeks to warn Southern Baptists of ministries such as the Founders that have “crept” into the church. In so doing, the anonymous authors of “BaptistFire” explore what they believe to be “deceitfulness” on the part of the “tactics” of certain Calvinists. I wish to deal with this article quite extensively so that these anonymous authors will not complain that I have ignored any of their arguments. Every Scripture citation will be explored; every assertion will be questioned. Therefore, today we’ll only look at the opening paragraph, and I’ll only be responding to the first sentence:

Crept in Unawares …
Calvinists want to take over your Southern Baptist church
a BaptistFire special report
(Updated: Sept. 26, 2005)

What Calvinists Believe

Calvinists do not believe that God loves everyone (contrary to John 3:16). They do not believe that God wants to save everyone (contrary to 1 Tim. 2:4). Most do not believe that Jesus died for the sins of the whole world. (contrary to 1 John 2:2). Not only are these doctrines contrary to the Bible they are contrary to what the vast majority of Southern Baptists believe.

This section is entitled inappropriately. Rather than being titled “What Calvinists Believe,” it should be titled “What Calvinists Don’t Believe,” for each of these statements starts, in the negative, with “they do not believe…” Obviously, the anonymous author had no intention of honestly explaining to the readers the doctrines of Calvinism in this section. Rather, this is simply another means of casting the Doctrines of Grace into the negative light, telling us the ways that they are supposedly unscriptural. But let’s look at each of these (this post will only focus on the first):

Calvinists do not believe that God loves everyone (contrary to John 3:16).

This is simply two false, unqualified assertions in the same sentence:

1. This anonymous author fails to distinguish between different kinds of love. He (or she) simply incorrectly states that “Calvinists do not believe that God loves everyone.” He doesn’t distinguish between redemptive love and a love that comes from common grace. Do Calvinists believe that God redemptively loves those whom he condemns, so that God must be eternally disappointed because he failed to save those whom he wanted to save? Well, no. But if God did not love his creation enough to impart to it common grace; the human race, in its depravity, would have murdered itself out of existence by now. To live in a world in which common grace is absent would certainly be a terrifying experience.

It is certainly noteworthy that people like the contributors of “BaptistFire” wish to make the Creator lower than the creature. Why is it that it is good and right for us to distinguish in our love, but wrong for God? Why is it right for me to love my wife in a manner that is different in extent and intensity than how I love other women, but wrong for God to love his church differently than those who are not his people? The answer is that synergism is a soteriology that is constantly seeking to dethrone the King and place man as ruler of his own destiny. In essence, the Creator is brought lower than the creature.

2. The anonymous author states that the Reformed doctrine is “contrary to John 3:16.” Firstly, John 3:16, contrary to this contributor’s assertion, does not state “God loves everyone in the same way.” Rather, it starts by stating that God loves “the world.” It is, of course, assumed that the terms “world” and “every single person” are equal. But you simply won’t find that in John’s writings. When John tells us not to love “the world” (1 John 2:15), is he telling us to not love “every single person”? Or when in verse 17 of chapter 3 John states that God sent his Son “into the world” does he mean that God sent his Son “into every single person”? Surely the knee-jerk, dogmatic notion that the only definition of “world” is “every single person” is an unwarranted assumption. What, then, determines the definition? Context. God’s love for “the world” results in something. And what is that? It results in the saving of those who believe ( πας ο πιστευων). God sent his Son with the purpose that (ινα, “hina”) all of the believing ones (πας ο πιστευων) might be saved. So God’s love is love that extends to a certain group, not love that is generically spread over the earth like peanut butter that results in the salvation of no one apart from the autonomous will of man.

In addition, we should certainly begin to wonder what type of love it is that these anonymous “BaptistFire” contributors are promoting. What kind of love is it that would grant autonomy to depraved creatures? Apparently, God’s will to allow people to authoritatively choose their own condemnation trumps his will to save them. In order to avoid universalism, hidden beneath the supposedly noble principle that God wills to save every individual is God’s somehow-stronger will to grant them autonomy. While the anonymous “BaptistFire” authors love to promote the emotion-targeted viewpoint that God does not have the freedom to love and save whom he pleases, as he pleases, what they really love about synergism is the synergism; though they might claim that the supposedly “chief attribute” of God is love, what they really like about God is the notion that he has released them from the absolute sovereignty of his will and replaced it with a will that desires most to see man exercise his will autonomously. For the synergistic God, what he wants most is not to see everyone saved, but to see everyone exercise his will in an ultimately authoritative manner–whether that results in their condemnation or in, if by some reason in them, their salvation. To use a Dave-Huntian expression, “What love is this?” I cited this Steve Hays quote in my article “The Philosophy of Monergism” recently:

[Synergists] … say that the Augustinian tradition subordinates the love of God to the will of God … But this is not what distinguishes the Augustinian tradition from the Arminian tradition. The distinction is between intensive and extensive love, between an intensive love that saves its loved ones, and an extensive love that loves everyone in general and saves no one in particular. Or if you really wish to cast this in terms of willpower, it’s the distinction between divine willpower and human willpower. Or, to put the two together, does God will the salvation of everyone with a weak-willed, ineffectual love, or does God love his loved ones with a resolute will that gets the job done?

The God of Calvin is the good shepherd, who names and numbers his sheep, who saves the lost sheep and fends off the wolf. The God of Wesley is the hireling, who knows not the flock by name and number, who lets the sheep go astray and be eaten by the wolf. Which is more loving, I ask?

We’ll look at the next sentence in the next post, and hopefully then we’ll be able to cover more ground -D

Evan May.

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30 Comments on “They’re Creeping In! Pt. 1”

  1. Stan Barringer Says:

    Amen and Amen!

    Somehow the proponents of synergism can never get around the criticism that their system is hopelessly man-centered. If man has an autonomous, libertarian “free will” (BTW– Calvinism is the only soteriology that believes in a truly free will), than man’s decision somehow merits God’s salvation. Man becomes the cause of his own salvation. Depravity? Inability? Hogwash, say the synergists. They want a cosmic Magic 8-Ball, not a sovereign, righteous, holy, and gracious Lord who saves the UNrighteous.

    SOLI DEO GLORIA

  2. kerryk Says:

    Great article that refutes the specious and shallow assertions of that divisive element at baptistfire. It is so refreshing to see sound exegesis for a change instead of the same old ad hom, false representation, and theory propping from the Pelagians and Arminians out there on the internet. Please keep up the good work in your service unto Christ and His church.

  3. Mike Ratliff Says:

    I read the article in question last year some time. I remember becoming so angry with the straw man arugments that I decided to reply in disgust to the authors. Silly me, they only allowed replies that agreed with their thesis.

    The weapon of fear these people are wielding will, I pray, be turned back on them. It’s time for these doctrinally inconsistent, manipulative, traditions of men only, fear mongers to be silenced as God directs His truth to be spread and penatrated into the hearts of His people.

    Great job Evan!

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

  4. Joe Specht Says:

    Thanks for your precision. Truly there are only two possibilties for free-will.
    1) God’s will
    2) The will that God frees from it’s bondage. In other words “freed will.”

  5. Jeff Jones Says:

    It’s always boggled my mind that synergists will emphasize human “free will” so strongly that they wind up denying God His free will in the process.

    That bothers me even more than its corollary – the notion of God placing our eternal destiny at the mercy of the same faculty that got us in this mess of sin in the first place!!

    Personally, seeing how I lived my life while I was wandering apart from God, I don’t trust my free will that much, and neither would I want to. The beauty of the Gospel is that I don’t have to – God’s done the work AND enabled me to believe. And He promises to keep me forever, something that I’d never be able to do on my own.

    Great start, guys. Keep rolling.

  6. mikem Says:

    I was actually having a conversation yesterday (a very friendly conversation) with a couple of synergists. I asked, “Why did you choose Christ while others don’t? Is it because you are in some way morally, spiritually, or intellectually superior?” They responded, “No.” So I said, “Did someone reject Christ because he is in some way inferior?” They said, “No.” So I said, “Why?” They answered, “Some people are more evil than others.” So I said, “So you chose Christ because you are less evil–because you are morally superior.” They said, “No.” I said, “According your beliefs, the only reason some people choose Christ and some don’t is because of some intrinsic value. You must be either morally, spiritually, or intellectually superior–by your own words.” They said, “There must be another option.” I said, “What is it?” They said, “I don’t know, but there must be.” I explained from John 1, 6, & 10, and other passages that the only other explanation (and the only biblical explanation) that doesn’t give us reason to boast in our own goodness in salvation is that of monergism. They said, “I just don’t believe that.” Oh, well . . . I tried. They never did refute my exegesis or give any of their own. The only thing they tried was, “I believe God draws everyone.” Yikes!

  7. Bart Neighbors Says:

    I remember sitting in a re-formed church and living in my arminian world until God opened my eyes through His Word. I can tell you that it was His hand that led me to the truth and nothing I could have ever done to come to that conclusion.

    Thank you for this web-site and standing on “THE” truth and not some attempt to allow man another chance to take God’s magnificent glory away.

  8. Timmah Says:

    ::Sigh:: The abandonment of reason ’tis an awful thing, Mike.

  9. Scripture Searcher Says:

    Honesty and truthfulness are not important to those
    committed to character asassination and never, or so it seems, are more people so “hell bent” on this
    ministry of Satan and his demons!

  10. Gayla Says:

    I came across your site today, and I’m glad I did. Excellent stuff! God removed the blinders from my eyes about a year and half ago. Until that time, I argued the ‘traditional’ Arminian verses with the best of ’em. Since then, I have read the Word with completely new vision. The sovereignty of God absolutely jumps out from the pages. The journey continues to be awesome.

    Thanks for such precision and truth in your words.

  11. Gene Says:

    Gayla…

    I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again…Testimonies like yours are on the rise. (That’s why Baptistfire exists!). God is reforming His church. No force on earth can stop it.

  12. Mike Ratliff Says:

    Gene:

    Your said, “Testimonies like yours are on the rise. (That’s why Baptistfire exists!). God is reforming His church. No force on earth can stop it.”

    StrangeBaptistFire is unstoppable because it is telling the Gospel Truth instead of filling people with the fear of the Calvinist infestation. 🙂

  13. tory lamore Says:

    Calvinism is man-centered since it starts its’ doctrines with man himself in “total depravity,” rather than starting with God . Everything should be defined from the starting point of God and His grace, not of man and his depravity. When one starts one’s doctrines with God (unlike Calvinism) then one will see that God is soooo almighty, awesome and beyond our understanding that He is sovereign despite man’s ability to say “yes” or “no” to Him. That ability is way
    beyond our comprehension. It is the Calvinist God that is weak since He has to take away the free will which He gave man in Eden (and which apparently Cain still has in Gen. 4:7) in order to be sovereign.

  14. Evan May Says:

    Tory:

    Thanks for stopping by. I am glad that you have voiced a disagreeing opinion. Our readers have thus far been very gracious, and I am delighted that you have opened the door to more of a dialogued discussion.

    That being said….

    The problem in your thinking is you utilize an acronym (TULIP) as if the order of the acronym is meant to be representative of the order of priorities in the system. But this is not the case. It is one thing to state that the acronym that often represents Calvinism starts with Total Depravity. It is, however, a completely different thing to claim that the actual first principle of Calvinism is Total Depravity. Do you notice the fallacy in reasoning from acronyms into logical syllogisms?

    Calvinism, contrary to what you assert, delights most in God’s freedom to rule his creation as he pleases. God is righteous. He is always right, and no one can question him concerning his actions (Daniel 4, Romans 9).

    How can you assert that your theological system is theocentric when you do no attribute to God the freedom to save efficaciously whom he wills?

    In any case, it is one thing to stand from a distance and call each other’s theologies “man-centered.” It is completely different to address the Biblical text. What, specifically, do you find incorrect about my exegetical presentation above?

  15. Nathan White Says:

    Tory,

    Are you affirming that Cain had liberterian free will to choose or reject God?

    I can’t see that in the text you provided. What I do see is a philosophical assumption upon the wording there in Gen 4:6. An assumption that because God called him to resist sin, that somehow that implies that he had free will. But you must admit that your view on that passage is purely philosophical, for the text does not spell out your assertions in the wording itself.

    On the other hand, the scripture discuss Cain in other areas. 1 John 3:12 states that Cain was ‘of the evil one’. What does ‘of the evil one’ mean? It means he was not ‘born of God’, as John so describes believers again and again.

    If one is not ‘born of God’, then do they have the complete freedom to ‘born themselves’? I think Jesus in John 8 clears this up quite nicely, and in the process affirms that Cain would have obeyed God’s command had he been born of God:

    Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires…But because I tell the truth, you do not believe me…If I tell the truth, why do you not believe me? Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God.”

    Cain did not obey God’s commands because he was not, as John and Jesus explain, ‘of God’, but rather, ‘of the evil one’.

    SDG

  16. tory lamore Says:

    Evan,

    Thank you for your gracious response.
    To your first point–I have a friend who tells me my theology is wrong because my starting point is wrong–that I must begin with man and his depravity. However I do understand your point about not constructing logical syllogisms from acronyms.

    Regarding your exegesis of John 3:16–
    I agree that “world” means different things in different contexts. In this context, God is talking about people. Since “world” encompasses all that is on it, and God is talking about people, then God is talking about all people.
    That is the “plain” meaning.

    I am uncomfortable with the reason that you distinguish different kinds of God’s love. You say that man loves his spouse differently from other members of the same sex, and so why can’t God. That is to bring God down to a human level!!! That is not theocentric–it is trying to understand God in a human context. Yet Isaiah 55:8-9 says:
    “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your
    ways my ways, says the Lord, for as the heavens are
    higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than
    your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
    I understand God’s sovereignty in this context. I do attribute to God the freedom to save whomever He wills, but Scripture does not tell us how He does this, yet does tell us in Isaiah 55 that God’s thoughts and ways are as far apart from man’s ways as the heavens are from the earth. He does not do things as man does. If man were in God’s position he would not have the freedom to choose to save if the creatures had free will. But God can!!! That is why my theology is theocentric–because I acknowledge that God’s thoughts and ways are far different from man’s, and that God is so unfathomably almighty that He is sovereign despite man’s free will (not to be understood autonomously). Calvinism seems to see God in human terms, and has to take away God’s gift of free will in order for God to be sovereign. To me that’s man-centered.

    You ask what kind of love grants autonomy to depraved creatures. But free will is not autonomous since it is a gift of God. I believe Calvinism teaches that Adam had free will, and there is nothing in Scripture that says or implies that man’s free will was taken away. In fact Gen 4:7 shows us that God tells Cain he must master sin,and Dt. 30:19 says,
    ” I call heaven and earth to witness against you
    today that I have set before you life and death,
    blessings and curses. Choose life so that you
    and your descendants may live.”
    I believe what God says.
    If He says to choose life, then it is possible to choose life. If He says we must master sin, then it is possible to master sin. Otherwise He is a deceiver and a liar which we know is absolutely false!!! This logical conclusion to Calvinism is very unbiblical and satanic. It is one of the reasons I reject this system and categorize it as untenable.

    I’m looking forward to your response.

  17. Gene Says:

    In fact Gen 4:7 shows us that God tells Cain he must master sin,and Dt. 30:19 says,
    ” I call heaven and earth to witness against you
    today that I have set before you life and death,
    blessings and curses. Choose life so that you
    and your descendants may live.”
    I believe what God says.
    If He says to choose life, then it is possible to choose life. If He says we must master sin, then it is possible to master sin. Otherwise He is a deceiver and a liar which we know is absolutely false!!! This logical conclusion to Calvinism is very unbiblical and satanic. It is one of the reasons I reject this system and categorize it as untenable.

    This is simply not true. You are conflating choice and free will. The unspoken assumption you have made is that if God gives man a choice, it must be possible for him to obey. On that basis, then, there are two ways to be saved: by keeping the whole Law or by faith in Christ. Where in Scripture are we told that it is possible for man to do the first?

    The Law’s purpose is to show us that we do not have the ability to keep it, not to show us our ability to keep it. “The Law came in so that transgression might increase.” (Rom.6:20a).

    The Law is good, but it is our love of evil that keeps us from keeping it. “By the works of the Law, shall no flesh be justified.” (Rom.3:20, Gal.2:16). If men have the ability to keep the Law, then there are two ways of salvation: works and grace. Such an idea ultimately negates the need for the gospel itself. Paul specifically calls such a thing an anathema in Galatians.

    The Law cannot justify because of the weakness of the flesh (Romans 8:3). Paul tells us more about exactly what makes the flesh weak. Romans 8:5-8; For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

    This objection is irrational. Nothing can be deduced about abilities from a command. One can command someone to do something to show them their inability and increase their guilt. Remember, the reason that men cannot obey is moral. They cannot obey, because, by nature, they do not want to obey.

    If what you say is true, what about this: God commands, in Ezekiel 18:31, “Rid yourselves of all the offenses you have committed, and get a new heart and a new spirit.” Can we do this? No! Though it is a command, God must do this himself: Ezekiel 36:26: I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. So a command to believe, a command to choose, does not imply we are able to do this.

    God requires that we be holy. He says, “You shall be holy, for I am holy,” (1 Pet. 1:16). Who among us would claim that we can be holy even when God commands that we be? Not I. The simple fact is that God does require of us what we cannot do, not because He is mean, but because He is the standard of righteousness and holiness. The standard does not become invalid because of someone’s failure to keep it. He commands that we repent (Acts 17:30), yet it is God who grants repentance (2 Tim. 2:25). He commands that we believe in Him (Exodus 20:1-3), yet He grants that we believe (Phil. 1:29). God commands that which is holy and right even if we cannot accomplish it. Yet, He grants the ability to people to do that which they cannot do themselves. Therefore, God gets the glory. Merely saying that God tells people to believe doesn’t mean they can believe anymore than God commands that we stop sinning means that we can.

  18. Evan May Says:

    Regarding your exegesis of John 3:16–
    I agree that “world” means different things in different contexts. In this context, God is talking about people. Since “world” encompasses all that is on it, and God is talking about people, then God is talking about all people.
    That is the “plain” meaning.

    Yes, it is very much evident that the referent of “world” is people. No one disputes this. But it is simply a non sequitur to argue that it must, then, refer to all people. This begs the question at hand, for I am arguing that world refers to peoples rather than every single person. This satisfies the criterion of “people,” and demonstrations that the category of “people” does not necessitate every single person. Rather, its referent must be defined by the context.

    And we see that the context tells us that God’s redemptive actions extend to a certain group. God sent his Son with the purpose that (ινα, “hina”) all of the believing ones (πας ο πιστευων) might be saved. John 3:16 tells us nothing of the extent of God’s redemptive work other than the fact that it is effective and purposed concerning those who believe. Jesus was sent to save the believing ones.

    I am uncomfortable with the reason that you distinguish different kinds of God’s love. You say that man loves his spouse differently from other members of the same sex, and so why can’t God. That is to bring God down to a human level!!!

    Yet you bring God lower than the human level in restricting his freedom in his love.

    In any case, once again, the focus should be: What do the Scriptures say about God’s extent and differentiation in his love?

    Do the Scriptures, for instance, promote God’s love in a manner that he loves Pharaoh in hell equally with the Apostle John in heaven, yet must be eternally disappointed concerning Pharaoh’s condemnation because he failed to save him? Is that the Biblical description? Or, does not God say in the Scriptures, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated”?

    I do attribute to God the freedom to save whomever He wills, but Scripture does not tell us how He does this, yet does tell us in Isaiah 55 that God’s thoughts and ways are as far apart from man’s ways as the heavens are from the earth.

    But the thing is that the Scriptures do reveal to us how God accomplishes his will to save people. Ephesians 1:3-14 is one long sentence expounding upon it, and where does it start?

    Calvinism seems to see God in human terms, and has to take away God’s gift of free will in order for God to be sovereign.

    It comes down to this question: what, ultimately is the deciding factor in man’s eternal destiny? Is it enough for God to sovereignly decree it, or is God’s sovereign decree insufficient to bring about an effectual response apart from a separate working of man (that is, faith originating in man)?

    You ask what kind of love grants autonomy to depraved creatures. But free will is not autonomous since it is a gift of God.

    It still comes down to God placing, ultimately, man’s decision concerning his eternal destiny in man, in man who is dead in sin (Ephesians 2:1) and unable to come to Christ (John 6:44; Romans 8:7-8). What kind of love would say “I desire to save sinners” but then place in the hands of sinners the ultimate decision concerning whether or not they are saved? Will a sinner choose anything but sin? John 8 makes the answer clear.

    If He says to choose life, then it is possible to choose life.

    You must justify your assumption that moral responsibility presupposes moral ability.

    If He says we must master sin, then it is possible to master sin.

    Jesus says in John 8 that unregenerate man is a “slave of sin.” Can a slave become the master of its master?

  19. Gene Says:

    Regarding your exegesis of John 3:16–
    I agree that “world” means different things in different contexts. In this context, God is talking about people. Since “world” encompasses all that is on it, and God is talking about people, then God is talking about all people.
    That is the “plain” meaning.

    _________

    I disagree. This text is spoken to Nicodemus, a Jewish rabbi, likely a Pharisee. He was used to thinking that salvation is for the Jews only, and by being born a Jew at that. Jesus says this is false, that a person must be born by water and the Spirit. He discusses the way the Holy Spirit regenerates man and then goes here to show that “the world” is the object of God’s love, the place He loves.

    “The world” no more means “everybody without exception here” than the references to God redeeming the whole nation of Israel in the OT and restoring them to the land mean “every Jew without exception.” It means that the world (Jews and Gentiles, not just Jews; the qualitative, sinful world) is the object of God’s redemptive love.; yet another doctrine Nicodemus was shocked to hear. It does not mean that every person in the world is the object of that love.

    John uses world a number of different ways in his work. Evan has cited one, but we have another, where John is also talking about people. Look at 1 John 5:19: We know that we are of God, and that the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.

    But look at what he says immediately before: We know that no one who is born of God sins; but He who was born of God keeps him, and the evil one does not touch him.

    So, the “whole world” in 5:19 does not include believers. It refers to the whole world…but very clearly these are unbelievers.

    John 3:16 also gives us the reason God loved the world: so that (in other words in order) that whoever believes might have eternal life. This restricts the purpose of God’s love and its scope: to the believing ones. : In Greek “pas ‘o pisteuon” is a present active participle meaning, “the ones believing continually.” The statement is indicative, not imperative. It is not a command; it is a statement of fact. Those who have eternal life in the world God loves are the ones believing, both Jew and Gentile, not just Jews. Why? Because God loved the world that is sinful and is composed of Jews and Gentiles not Jews only in which they lived enough to give His one and only unique Son to the world to make this come to pass.


  20. […] They’re Creeping In! Pt. 2 By Evan May We are continuing our series of responses to this article from BaptistFire. The first post can be read here. You might be wondering why I am spending so much time and space on what might seem to you as little details. The reason is three-fold: 1. Often, the BaptistFire articles are permeated with out-of-context Scripture citations used to support an assumed point. The misuse of God’s Word is no light matter, and therefore I seek to address extensively the Scripture citations utilized by these anonymous contributors. Obviously, not everything needs a long answer. But some things do. […]


  21. […] We are continuing our series of responses to this article from BaptistFire. The first post can be read here. You might be wondering why I am spending so much time and space on what might seem to you as little details. The reason is three-fold: […]

  22. Jeff Mobley Says:

    Regarding your exegesis of John 3:16–
    I agree that “world” means different things in different contexts. In this context, God is talking about people. Since “world” encompasses all that is on it, and God is talking about people, then God is talking about all people.
    That is the “plain” meaning.

    Continuing the look at context, what about John 3:17? It tickles me that Arminians champion John 3:16 as the be-all end-all to their argument on the extent of God’s love without considering the very next verse:

    “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.”

    It seems to me that if “world” is pressed to mean “all people without distinction,” then the simple fact of consistency would logically lead one to believe in universalism, as verse 17 says God’s purpose was to save “the world.”

    Am I off base in my understanding?

  23. tory lamore Says:

    Nathan-
    What do you mean be “libertarian” free will?

    Evan and Gene-
    There’s a lot to respond to. I’ll start with John 3:16.

    My syllogism was:
    God is talking about people.
    “World” encompasses all that is on it.
    God is talking about all people.
    This is a valid argument. The conclusion flows from the premises. You’ve said you agree with the 1st premise, so I’m assuming you disagree with the 2nd premise.
    The basis for the 2nd premise is the definition of “kosmos” in Liddell and Scott’s Greek-English lexicon:
    1.order
    a. good order, behaviour, decency
    b. the form, fashion of a thing
    c. of states– order, government
    2. an ornament decoration, embellishment
    3. a regulator
    4. the world or universe
    a. mankind
    Nowhere does it suggest “kinds of men.” When I consulted various ancient and modern Greek dictionaries, I found similar results. Strong’s and Vine’s also pretty much agreed, except they had the “kinds of men” definition at the end. Why the difference in Strong’s and Vine’s from all the rest? Could they possibly know something about Koine Greek that all of these other scholars, both biblical and secular, don’t know? I concluded Strong and Vine entered a theological opinion in addition to their lists of linguistic information. Therefore, the word “kosmos” does not linguistically carry any connotation of “kinds of men.” If that interpretation is true, it will only be because of context.
    So I assumed for a moment that “world” meant “believers.”
    That is saying— For God so loved believers that He gave His
    only Son, so that everyone who believes in
    Him may not perish but may have eternal
    life.
    But there’s something wrong with the logic of that sentence. The words “so that everyone who” show us that this group comes out of the 1st group. “Everyone who believes” does not logically come out of “believers;” they ARE the believers. Believers come out of the world. That’s what “elect” means. It comes from “ek,” meaning “from, out of,” and “lego,” meaning “to teach.” The elect come out of the world to teach the world. The 2 groups are not the same.
    John 3:17 poses no problem for this interpretation. Jesus came into the world not to condemn it, but so that through Him the world MIGHT be saved, Scripture says. This doesn’t say that all will be saved. It implies that some will be and some won’t be. If you have some info on the word “might,” please share it.
    1 Tim 4:10 illustrates the fact that “world” cannot be interpreted as “believers.” Here “all” and “believers” are clearly 2 distinct groups:
    “For to this end we toil and struggle, because
    we have our hope set on the living God, who
    is the Savior of all, especially of those who
    believe.”
    This can’t mean God is the Savior of believers but especially of believers. The believers come out of “all.”
    Regarding 1John 5:19–the whole world is under the power of the evil one. Every single person born, including believers, is under the power of the evil one until he is saved. So this verse does refer to all people as well.
    I can see that in John 3:16 the 2 groups have to be the same IF you are looking at it through Calvinist lenses. But if you look at the verse logically, you will see that the 2 groups are different. The proponents of Calvinism need to change the very words of God (!!!) to fit their doctrine. That’s another reason why I believe it is man-centered.
    Evan- You also insist that I restrict God’s freedom to choose. I think you might have read my post too quickly. I said that God is so almighty, so powerful, and so beyond us (Isaish 55:8-9), that He is sovereign- free to choose- despite man’s free will. That is not restricting God’s freedom: it’s giving Him more glory!!! My God is an AWESOME God,and I want to share Him with you. He’s so much more powerful than Calvinism can imagine.

    In Christ,
    Tory

  24. David Hewitt Says:

    Wow, good discussion! I’d like to contribute a little on the word “might.” I’ll let James White give us a little help on it, and in so doing, I’ll be repeating an exegesis of John 3 that I did a while back.

    James White said:

    does not contain some kind of sense that “God did this which might result in that, if this happens.” While the subjunctive can be used in conditional sentences, it is also used in purpose/result clauses without the insertion of the idea of doubt or hesitant affirmation. The word “might” then is not to be read “might as in maybe, hopefully, only if other things happen” but “might” as in “I turned on the printer so that I might use it to print out this letter.” Purpose, not lack of certainty.

    Do you see the importance of the clause? If I were (subjunctive!) wanting to print something, I would first need to turn on my printer so that I might do it. That is the same thing as saying I would need to turn on my printer in order to print with it. The reason, as Dr. White said above, is purpose. I turned it on for the purpose of printing. That is the usage here in this text. Jesus intended to save people from all peoples of the world, and He came into the world to die for that purpose!

    For the Glory of My Jesus,
    David Hewitt

  25. tory lamore Says:

    David–
    Thanks for the info on MIGHT. I have a question. You said that the subjunctive can be used in conditional sentences and in purpose/result causes without the insertion of doubt or hesitant affirmation. How is one to know when MIGHT is in a conditional ssentence or a purpose/result clause?

    Thanks—Tory


  26. […] We are continuing our series of responses to this article from BaptistFire. The first two posts can be read here and here. Hopefully today we’ll be able to cover more ground than a sentence (woohoo!). Again, I’ll provide the immediate context: “Crept in Unawares …“ Calvinists want to take over your Southern Baptist church a BaptistFire special report (Updated: Sept. 26, 2005) […]

  27. tory lamore Says:

    Gene,
    Yes, I am saying that if God gives man a choice, then it must be possble for him to obey.
    Psalm 19:8 the commandment of the Lord is clear,
    enlightening the eyes;

    Psalm 33:4 For the word of the Lord is upright, and all
    His work is done in faithfulness.

    Psalm 119:151 Yet you are near, O Lord, and all your
    commandments are true.

    Psalm 145:13 The Lord is faithful in all his words, and
    gracious in all his deeds.

    So we see that what God says is clear, upright, true and faithful. It is trustworthy. If it is trustworthy for believers then it is trustworthy for all, since His Word doesn’t change.

    You ask where in Scripture are we told it is possible to keep the Law. Luke 1:6 says of Zechariah and Elizabeth:
    “Both of them were righteous before God, living blamelessly according to all the commandments and regulations of the Lord.”

    Phil 3:6 says of Paul:
    “as to zeal. a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the Law, blameless.”

    But of course Romans says the Law can’t save. So all we can say is that even though Paul, Zechariah and Elizabeth did keep the Law, the Law did not save them.


  28. […] They’re Taking Over! Pt. 4 By Evan May We are continuing our series of responses to the “Crept in Unawares…” article from BaptistFire (the first three posts can be read here: 1, 2, and 3). We now move on to the second paragraph: Southern Baptist Calvinists Are Well Organized […]

  29. nathan Says:

    i would like to give a big thanks for all the ones who made strange baptist fire. and i will continually pray for all the arminians (who i will always respect), that God will open their eyes to the truth of calvinism.


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