A Response to Dr. John Compton’s “What is Calvinism?” : 3. Dr. Compton’s Methodology in Arguing Against Calvinism

[Introduction]

[1a.]

[1b.]

[2.]

3. Dr. Compton’s Methodology in Arguing Against Calvinism

Within Baptist circles, the most serious problem in regards to those who oppose Calvinism is not the idea that people have ‘free-will’ or the assertion that Christ’s death provides potential atonement for every individual- the most serious problem is does not concern a particular point of doctrine or an understanding of Baptist history- rather, the most serious problem is the methodology employed in arguing against Calvinism. Through providing an example that teaches a wrong methodolgy for theological reflection, anti-Calvinist Baptists run the very serious risk of leading a large multitude of Baptist congregants and students into a position that makes them succeptible to all kinds of erroneous doctrine. The wrong methodology I’m writing of, which is exemplified in the sermon under consideration, consists of: misrepresenting one’s opponents, a lack of biblical exegesis, and eisegesis.

a. Misrepresenting One’s Opponents

When engaging in apologetics, Christians must treat their opponents with respect (see 1 Pet 3:15). If this is true in communication with unbelievers, how much more should Christians respect one another when debating important issues of our faith? A minimum requirement of respect would dictate that we should strive to accurately represent the position of those with whom we disagree. Within previous posts of this series, I have demonstrated how Dr. Compton fails to accurately represent the Calvinism. When a gospel teacher becomes aware that he is teaching in error concerning the position of those he opposes, he must repent, otherwise he is in danger of violating the ninth commandment. When a gospel teacher sets an example of misrepresenting his opponents- either intentionally or through sloppy research- he endangers the missionary task of the church. For example, if one is speaking to someone following the Muslim religion and trying to demonstrate how the five pillars of Islam are inadequate to lead a person to eternal life, one would not get very far in the conversation if he distorted the definition of the five pillars to a similar degree that Dr. Compton distorted the five points of Calvinism.

b. A Lack of Biblical Exegesis

The stated text for Dr. Compton’s “What is Calvinism?” sermon is John 3:14-19, but no serious consideration is given to what these verses mean in context. Granted, this is a topical sermon, but it seems that pastors should build an expectation in their congregants that some exegesis would take place concerning the focus verses for each sermon, so that the people of God can know that they are hearing a word from God and not the opinions of men. Instead, John 3:14-19 was used as a jumping off point, so that Dr. Compton could cite verses such as 1 Tim 2:4 and 1 John 2:2, emphasizing words like “world” and “all.”

c. Eisegesis

What does “world” mean in John 3:16 or other passages cited by Dr. Compton? Who consistitutes the “all” of which various passages speak?  Dr. Compton does not demonstrate how to define these words from their biblical context- he does not give an example of how Scripture interprets Scripture- rather he apparently imports a definition for these words from outside the text [more on this subject may be found HERE and HERE].

The type of methodology outlined above is indeed ‘strange fire’ within Baptist circles and should be strongly rejected.

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