A Response to Dr. Steve Lemke’s Presentation on Irresistible Grace, Part 3. Dr. Lemke’s Final Objection to Irresistible Grace
In addition to the all-inclusive invitations of scripture, when people in the Bible ask, “What must I do to be saved?” Lemke said they are told to repent and believe. He expressed concern that irresistible grace can lead to the denial of the necessity for conversion.
I also am concerned “that irresistible grace can lead to the denial of the necessity for conversion.” More specifically, I am concerned that some people may misunderstand the doctrines of election and irresistible grace to mean that we need not implore sinners to turn from sin and turn to Christ in faith. And other Southern Baptists who are Calvinistic in soteriology share this concern as well. This is why Founders Ministries has labored against hyper-Calvinism [ Dr. Lemke has demonstrated his ignorance of what “hyper-Calvinism” means on a couple of occasions- at the John 3:16 Conference he defined it as “someone who is more Calvinistic than you are”- but his ignorance would be overcome if he would study historical theology, particularly the “modern question” among Baptists in the 18th century and the controversy over “common grace” among Reformed churches in the 20th century], as Tom Ascol notes:
- In 1996, the Founders Journal published a letter I [Tom] wrote to a father whose son was caught up in real hyper-Calvinism, trying to counsel him on how to help and evangelize his son. In that same issue, an excerpt from a small book I [Tom] wrote was included under the title, “Calvinism, Hyper-Calvinism and Arminianism: Issues Shaping Our Identity as Southern Baptists.”
- In 1996, Founders Ministries gave away 2000 copies of Iain Murray’s book, Spurgeon v. Hyper-Calvinism. We were ridiculed, chastised and questioned by friend and foe alike for “stirring up trouble when there is none.” We pressed on with this effort because, as students of history, we know that hyper-Calvinism is a parasite and it only emerges where true Calvinism lives. Because we saw the danger of what might attend the resurgence of true Calvinism, we sought to educate as many people as we could about the issues.
- We have, on this blog and elsewhere, repeatedly addressed the error of hyper-Calvinism, calling it pernicious, damnable, and unbiblical.
That the doctrines of grace (including the doctrine of irresistible grace) can lead unstable people into errors does not mean that they are not true. When preaching on grace apart from works of law, the Apostle Paul apparently encountered people who wanted to distort his message to say that we need to sin more so that the grace in our lives can increase (see, for example, Romans 6:1). Paul did not therefore abandon his teaching on grace, but taught it more clearly. Likewise, when we find that the Bible teaches irresistble grace in passages such as the end of John 6, we do not have the option of ignoring it simply because people may attempt to use it to promote laziness or apathy.