No Apology

Marty Duren has posted some good thoughts today at SBC Outpost.

I have a question for the Southern Baptist Convention. Why do Calvinists have to apologize to you for being “Five Point Calvinists,” while the majority of the anti-Calvinists in your ranks have to make no apology for being “Four Point Arminians?” Oh, I know, they say they are “Moderate Calvinists,” but what we find is that they affirm election based on foreseen faith, general atonement, and deny effacious grace by way of monergistic regeneration. Some, but not all, deny that perseverance to the end goes hand in hand with eternal security. How does this qualify as “moderate Calvinism?” There’s nothing Calvinistic there at all. True, they aren’t really Arminians over the condition of man either, since they don’t, unlike real Arminians, deny men are able to of themselves come to Christ, so I suppose it is unfair to call them 4 Point Arminians. Real Arminians underwrite men’s ability to believe with universal prevenient grace.
Incidentally, while we’re on that last point, take a look at Elmer Towns’ website some time. He says that men have been given the common grace to believe. Now, I’m sure we should give Dr. Towns the benefit of the doubt, since some folks at Liberty, as we know, are not very good about using historically accurate theological language, but we have to wonder if this is prevenient grace, a type of special grace that comes by way of the cross or actual common grace, the grace of design. If the former, he’s correct for an Arminian. If not, well, that’s moving over to functional Pelagianism.

Then we have Ergun Caner. He thinks that he’s an Amyraldian. Marty linked to the Founders website where Dr. Caner showed up a few months ago, and proclaimed he is trying to rehabilitate Amyralt. He then signed, “Elected because I selected.” Now, forgive me, but this man teaches church history. You would think he would know that real Amyraldianism by no means affirms “elected because I selected.”

Yet it is Calvinists who must apologize for being “Five Point Calvinists.”

Tom Ascol’s recent article on honesty brings me to this observation. We’re told by certain folks in the SBC that if we don’t tell the pastor search committee we are “Five Point Calvinists” then we are dishonest. Okay, but that cuts two ways. Aren’t functional Unitarians being dishonest when they fail to tell the pastor search committees? When you put election and regeneration outside a chain of grace, you have ceased to be functionally Trinitarian, you’re now a functional Unitarian.

Why do these persons claim to be “moderate Calvinists” when their theology doesn’t resemble it at all? They do this and call a man that does not disclose in detail his position on the doctrines of grace “dishonest.” Uh-huh. It’s very strange. They want to be Calvinists, but they want to deny Calvinism. They embrace views that are almost exactly those of Arminius and Wesley on 3 if not 4 articles, but they refuse to adopt the appropriate name. Real Amyraldians are offended by their misuse of that term too. They should just come up with a shorthand term for their beliefs instead of trying to coopt the historical meaning of “Calvinist” and “Amyraldian.”

But it is Calvinists who must apologize.

When Thom Rainer took the reigns at Lifeway, he was quick to say that he was not a five point Calvinist. Why? Since when did believing that the atonement really saves, that God is really merciful, and that salvation is completely of the Lord something for which one needs to apologize?

Both Steve Lemke and Malcolm Yarnell at NOBTS and SWBTS respectively have published papers and articles on Calvinism. I’ve discussed Malcolm Yarnell’s article here, here, and here. Dr. Lemke’s article (see Marty’s blog for the link to it) was used by Bobby Welch to allege that the Founders churches are hyper-Calvinistic, anti-missions, and the usual host of false charges. So apparently, the SBC President can violate the 9th commandment in his church newsletter and make it public to the whole Convention…but Calvinists need to apologize.

Now, let me say this. Reformed churches bring out weirdos and not very nice people too. I understand a lady came to my church before I arrived and everybody thought she was on the up-and-up, until, that is, she started handing out literature accusing our pastor of teaching and believing false things. Then you have Bob. L. Ross and Charles at the Calvinist Flyswatter, who have attacked Al Mohler, Mark Dever, myself, Timmy, John MacArthur, and James White in recent history. Not only that, I understand Ross sent a letter to Dr. White’s church demanding he be charged with heresy by the elders. Then you have Marc, “anybody that does not affirm limited atonement and speaks peace to Arminains” Carpenter. Then you have those who will descend on non-Calvinists on their blogs and make them unwelcome. Now, on one hand, that last case is understandable. If you come and do a drive-by shooting like JohnCalvinRIP on the Founders blog last week or the Caners a few weeks ago, you can expect trouble. On the other hand, if you simply say, “I thought Jesus died for everybody,” you shouldn’t be cast out of the camp.

My point here is that the SBC seems to have set about making new enemies.We were told the war was over. If that’s really true, then why are they still fighting it?

Since the neo-orthodox that did not leave for the Alliance of Baptists have retreated to the CBF and not completely left, I understand the need to watch out. In TX, however, the BGCT is a mix of moderates and conservatives, but the conservatives are there because they were treated like moderates by the people in their competing state convention. Competing state conventions, however, are part of TX Baptist history, so this should come as no surprise. Everybody acts like its a big deal. The thing with that new group, however, is that they edit their news so that it reflects themselves in the best light. I remember when we took theology and theologians, my professor talked about feminist theologians that wanted a feminist Bible because that would be less biased. Then he asked, “How would a feminist Bible be less biased than an androcentric Bible, assuming for argument’s sake, that’s what we have?” Good point, and I have to wonder how the new TX convention is really any better than the one they left when you get right down to it. But now, in the SBC, Calvinists are the new whipping boys. Anybody that doesn’t fall in line with the IMB’s new policies and their “rationale” is a de facto enemy too. If the war is really over, why behave in this fashion, and why are Calvinists the ones who are put on the defensive and made to feel like second class citizens for affirming what the Scriptures actually teach about salvation?

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8 Comments on “No Apology”

  1. Byron Smith Says:

    I enjoyed the post. However, for the life of me, I do not understand the sentence that says “True, they aren’t really Arminians over the condition of man either, since they don’t, like real Arminians, deny men are able to of themselves come to Christ, so I suppose it is unfair to call them 4 Point Arminians.” Shouldn’t that be “affirm” instead of “deny”? I am tired today, so perhaps I read it wrong! However, I think you make a good point here, which means I was wrong to imply that these same people are four-point Arminians in my post on Founder’s Blog (three-pointers, then? I’m not sure)

  2. Gene Says:

    No, that is correct, but it isn’t clear. I’ll edit it in a minute. Thanks.

    Real Arminians DO affirm that men are UNABLE of themselves to come to Christ. Read the Remonstrance and the Opinions carefully. In real Arminianism, they have a doctrine called universal prevenient grace (UPG). UPG is a benefit of the cross of Christ itself. Ergo it is a type of special grace.

    Unlike real Arminians, this group does NOT DENY that men are able to come to Christ of themselves. They go out of their way to state that men are not morally unable to come to Christ. Each and every anti-Calvinist sermon/rant that I have heard on this says that. They have no doctrine of UPG; and they locate this ability in men’s design. Common grace is grace of design. It ‘s what makes the rain fall and the sun rise and set, etc. This is not a special grace applied to men’s hearts universally by the Holy Spirit when they hear the gospel (as in Arminianism), it is an ability they are born with and can freely exercise. The only thing that keeps this from being purely Pelagian is their belief they actually have to hear the gospel first in order to respond, and that is a matter, ultimately of special grace–but it is functionally a naturalistic explanation, essentially it is a denial of UPG and Effacious / Irresistible grace altogether.

    Thus, this folks are not like real Arminians. Real Arminians affirm the inability of man due to the fall. These men don’t deny,unlike real Arminians do deny, that men are able to come to Christ of themselves.

  3. 4ever4given Says:

    You wrote… “We’re told by certain folks in the SBC that if we don’t tell the pastor search committee we are “Five Point Calvinists” then we are dishonest.”
    In other words, it is dishonest if you fail to tell them you embrace Biblical Theology.

    “For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will.” (John 5:21)

  4. Gordan Says:

    Off topic, I know….but when are you guys going to officially declare victory over BaptistFire.com?

    You’ve won. God has given them into your hands and chased them away with hornets. Give Him the victory already.

  5. Gene Says:

    No, because it’s not about arguing for victory’s own sake, it’s about arguing for the sake of biblical truth. I’d rather not saying something that they would take and show off as triumphalistically proving that Calvinists argue for argument’s sake. e.g. just be right. Yes, God has removed them at least for now, and we thank Him greatly for it, but their influence remains.

  6. Timmy Says:

    Let me echo what Gene said. We didn’t start this to pick a fight with BaptistFire. We wanted to present biblical truth in an honset and open environment where all of us are held accountable to Scripture. As we are grateful to God that their stuff is no longer on the internet, we grieve over what it has done to the SBC and its churches. We also know know that at any time they could feel free to come back. We are not going away regardless, as the challenges we face today are much bigger, and not excluded to, BaptistFire.

    May the Lord turn our hearts and our minds to faithfulness and good stewards of his gospel message!

  7. serrevin Says:

    have all the founders/reformed styled baptists ever considered just severing from the sbc completely? wouldn’t that solve the problem? i don’t see any other resolution to this issue when you have men like caner, and johnny hunt at the like who have major influence on the sbc. just a suggestion

  8. Timmy Says:

    Serrevin,

    Nobody that I know of has ever expressed leaving the SBC and have no reason to do so. The Founders/reformed styled baptists have a genuine appreciation for baptist history and the theological dinstictives (hence Founders) which have been so definitive of Southern Baptists in the past. Those who are arguing for the Reformed community to leave the SBC think thus because there is this idea that the SBC was and is a convention established by Arminians.

    Furthermore, I don’t think Calvinists in the SBC are looking to create more problems or factions. We only want fair treatment and the respect of our fellow brothers. No one is trying to convert the SBC to 5-point Calvinism, but in the same breath one cannot deny their theology or convictions where they live and preach. It is hypocritical and absurd to say that any SBC except Calvinists are allowed to preach and teach what the Bible says and the convictions they hold.

    As far as the Ergun Caner and Johnny Hunt, they do have a major influence in the SBC – in some places. In the case of Caner, the more he speaks, the less he is liked, and that not from Calvinists but from everyone I have heard. In the case of Hunt, he has a huge network of pastor friends in the SBC (including Timothy-Barnabas conferences), and it is obvious that what he says and does impacts many ministers. Unfortunately, he has said some unfortunate things in recent years which is making it more and more dificult for him to be respected.

    The issue/conflict/problem of Calvinism and Arminianism has existed throughout church history. It is more than just five-points. It is a whole worldview and thinking about God and His providential dealings with us (which involves a wide swath of biblical teaching and doctrines). While their may not be an immediate resolution, their can be immediate consideration and due respect of each position while clearly stating with grace and truth the conviction one holds. Ad hominem attacks and using platform preaching to deride other convictions while constructing straw men or caricatures is no way to look for a resolution.


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